July 2009 Archives

Friday, July 31, 2009

Let's look at a way to visualize inflation. Let's say you had a $1,000 bill in 1900. At that time, this would be the equivalent of letting the government safeguard [about] 50 ounces of gold for you.

In 1933, Franklin D Roosevelt devalued the dollar, and as a result gold's price rose from $20/ounce to $35/ounce. Equivalently, you could also say the 50 ounces of gold the government held for you now became 28.57 ounces of gold. The government stole 21.43 ounces of gold from you overnight!

In 1971, Richard Nixon ended the Bretton-Woods gold standard for good, and by 1974, gold had risen to $200/ounce. You now had 5 ounces of gold. Thus, between 1971 and 1974, the government stole 16.43 ounces of gold from you.

In 1999, gold bottomed out at $250/ounce. You now had 4 ounces.

With gold nearing $1,000/ounce today, you are down to 1 ounce. Over the last 10 years, the government has stolen roughly 3 ounces of what little gold you have left.

Now instead of paper money, visualize that you did indeed have 50 ounces of gold in your safe in 1900 and that year after year the government broke into your home and stole gold from your safe at this rate. Would you find that acceptable? - CRW

Mr. Rawles,
I would first like you to know your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you and your family for opening our eyes to what is happening all around us and for helping to prepare us for what could happen. To borrow a phrase, "The sleeper has awakened".

On to my topic. I am what may be described as a prepper and after reading many of the countless articles by investors on the accumulation of silver, I began to take your advice as well as their advice and have been purchasing silver whenever the budget allows. With a family with two small boys (2 and 4) and both my wife and I working, it is hard to justify the expense of obtaining silver or gold for that matter. My point is this, I was purchasing Silver Eagles and after reading many posts on SurvivalBlog, I have turned to buying pre-1965 silver coins as "junk silver". The going rate right now on auction web sites is 10 or more times face value of the coins. I cannot afford to buy even a quarter bag of silver at a time let alone the half bag ($500) recommended. I work in commodities and watch most very closely along with the weather and the US dollar, but silver and gold are not our main trading. My concern is that there is such a great demand for silver right now. For this example I will use the 1 oz. Silver Eagle. Recently the price over spot to obtain eagles was over $5 (now it is around $2.50 per Eagle). This means that if the going rate [per ounce] in the spot month (the month closest to the month we are in at the time) is for example $14, then you would have to pay $19 dollars per Silver Eagle. All because of high demand. The U.S. Mint has suspended the production of the proof and the uncirculated Silver Eagle because by law, the mint has to satisfy the demand for the bullion Silver Eagle. The same thing goes for the proof gold coins. I am writing this because I am afraid that most people are waiting for silver to return to the $5 area. With the demand for a hedge against inflation, the demand for silver could continue for some time. My advice is to be prepared as possible and don't count on precious metals to return to previous low levels anytime in the near future. Thank you for all that you do to keep us informed. - Traveller

Thanks for your work. I have been a faithful reader for quite a while (and a 10-Cent Challenge subscriber).

After reading LDM in Colorado's post, I had to e-mail and correct a few problems. While I know little of white water rafting, I do know about Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). I was a Coast Guard Boarding Officer for many years, and I would like to correct some of his terminology. Unfortunately, some of his comments could place someone in danger.

The rating system for PFDs is based on capabilities. Specifically,

Type I: Provides 22 lbs of buoyancy and turns most unconscious victims face up in the water. The old "Mae West" PFDs referred to are not rated PFDs and do not meet the requirements for any type of PFD.

Type II: 15.5 lbs of buoyancy turns some unconscious victims up in the water. These provide less buoyancy than Type Is, but they are less bulky and easier to work in.

Type III: 15.5 lbs of buoyancy but does not make any effort to upright an unconscious victim. They are easier to wear than either type Is or IIs.

Type IV: Throwable PFDs such as life rings and seat cushions.

Type V: These are special purpose PFDs. They are usually either hybrid (meaning some buoyancy that can be augmented by an inflation), or automatically inflating PFDs, or even full-coveralls for working in stormy conditions.

Type Vs have many advantages, but they have many drawbacks. First of all - use the right Type V for the task. A Type V PFD that requires manual inflation (by pulling a cord) is of little value to an unconscious person. Also - any PFD that can be inflated also has a greater incidence of failure. In regards to PFDs simpler is often better.

If it is simply a matter of floating in the water, a Type I provides the most closed-call foam, keeps most victims upright, and keeps them floating high in the water - and they do it very simply. However, white water rafting requires more freedom of movement than what Type Is allow. That is why Type Vs are so popular. Hybrids are the easiest to wear for an extended period or time.

Thanks for allowing me to make this correction. If you have a boat - you should have at least one Type IV, and one Type III (or II or I) for each person. In fact, Type Vs are only permitted on boats for specific circumstances - that's why they are Type Vs. They are designed for water skiing, or work coveralls, or white water rafting. But they are poor substitutes for general PFD needs.

Here's a couple of links that might provide some clarification:

From the Texas Department of of Parks and Wildlife
From the American Association of Pediatrics
From Boating Safety Sidekicks

Regards, - BES in Washington

"Grown men do not need leaders." - Edward Abbey

Thursday, July 30, 2009

We have received more than 120 kind e-mails in the past 24 hours, in response to The Memsahib's "Bucket List" post on Wednesday. Thank you so much for your prayers and words of encouragement. This verse sums up the sentiment: "Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise Him!" - Psalm 64:10

We feel tremendously uplifted by your prayers. And for those that have asked: We are not seeking any funds for medical expenses. Instead, please send gifts to our favorite charity: Compassion International.

My brother wrote me recently to ask what we do to prepare for our winters here in the inland Pacific Northwest. He lives in a warmer climate but has been reading about the global cooling underway. For the last two years our area has been colder longer and this last winter we had the most snow in over 100 years.

Remembering that Boy Scout slogan, “Be prepared,” prudent people are already looking ahead for the winter soon to come. Here are my odds and ends to get your thinking processes going:

Dress to Save Your Life
Our heaviest coats are rarely used, unless the temps get below about 20. Important that they shed snow (slick, synthetic outside layer). Whether its actually snowing, or snow falls on you from the trees, or you get snow on you from scraping the car or the roof of your house you're going to get snow on you.

Knit caps keep your head comfortable. If you are working outdoors and wear a really heavy fur Russian-type hat your head will probably sweat. Our winters aren't usually very cold, so something moderate is all we need. I keep my cap, gloves, Gargoyles (folding ear muffs), Yaktrax traction cleats (in a ZipLoc bag), and scarf (rarely used) all tucked away in my heavy coat at all times, and I can add them or put them away in the pockets as needed (your coat needs to have lots of pockets). I look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, but I'm comfortable.

The cap I keep in my heavy coat has a nylon shell and ear flaps that can snap down. And it has a brim, to help keep snow out of my eyes and glasses.

When it's snowing hard you're going to want some kind of eye protection. Ski goggles would be great (all I have are some polycarbonate eye protection glasses). Try to avoid working outdoors while it's snowing, but you can't avoid it all the time. Be sure they're fog-proof (double-layer, vented). I've done without goggles all these years, but they sure would have been nice.

Mostly we layer up: shirt, sweatshirt, windbreaker or shell. My really expensive jacket that Joy bought for me turns out to not be warm, but to be a good outer layer (breathable and all that). Not particularly durable, but otherwise good. (I'm looking to buy a denim insulated work coat this winter to replace mine that has holes.)

Warm socks are a must. I've been buying GI-style socks from the local General store so I have enough for a whole week. They're quite thick. The warm socks I bought last year (not the GI-style) wore holes that I still need to darn. You can't have too many durable, warm socks.

Warm gloves are a must, but they have to be waterproof. I use insulated leather work gloves that I've treated with SnowSeal or something like that (paraffin or seal oil) to protect the leather (I wouldn't use anything that sprays on). The "ski gloves" I have are warm and shed snow, but many of them aren't waterproof and the ones I've tried are definitely not durable. If you're going to ski they're fine. If you're going to work you need leather or an insulated synthetic that is durable.

You'll also want glove liners (so get your gloves big enough). I bought some cheapo military-surplus-type wool liners. They give my gloves extra warmth and I can pull them out of the gloves to help them dry quicker. I have some really warm mittens, but I can't work in them. Putting liners in my regular insulated work gloves works better.

Waterproof, high boots are essential. I used cheapo $9 rubber boots most of the winter. They're tall, taller than the snow usually, and absolutely waterproof. And they have really aggressive treads. I don't think breathable fabric is all that important. With each step the boots breathe up your pant leg... I also don't do a lot of walking in them, but working around the homestead, around fences and barbed wire, and turkey manure the inexpensive boots work great.

Snow bibs (look like farmer's bib overalls) are cheap. You wear them under your coat. They're not so much warm as they are slick and the snow doesn't stick. They're not waterproof, so you CAN get them wet (which is bad) if you're not careful. But the snow falls off and keeps your legs dry, and they're an extra layer on your legs. I think I wore mine once or twice last year. I can easily tolerate cooler legs when my core is warm.

I don't have leggings or whatever they're called. I just pull my pants over the tops of the boots, or pull the snow bib legs over my boots. YakTrax are essential. Falls are devastating.

Working in cold weather, unless you keep changing clothes as your chores change, you're probably going to get at least a little sweaty. Some chores make you hot, some don't. Unless you're going to be going in and out (which would not be energy efficient) to continuously change clothes, then at some point your clothes are going to get wet and / or sweaty. You must have a plan for hanging the clothes over or near some heat source to dry them. Having a second set of socks and gloves and pants is important in case you have to go outside before everything's dry.

You have to plan your excursions outside. Take all the tools you need, etc. so you're not going in and out. You also have to have a plan to time yourself outside. You'll be warm but wet and not realize it. An hour of chores outside is probably plenty, then come in to hydrate and dry out. Plan to hydrate while you're outdoors too if you're working hard (don't eat the snow - it lowers your core temp).

With thick socks the rubber boots are comfortable, not very heavy, absolutely waterproof, have great tread, durable, and quick to get on and off when I do have to go in and out of the house (very nice). I have a pair of very heavy winter boots, rated to below zero. But they're heavy and hard to lace on. I've got them if I ever need to climb Mount Everest...

We keep the boots in a little plastic "boot tray" near the door so that the melting snow doesn't get everywhere and make a mess.

The rubber boots are also essential in the spring melt-off when there's four inches of slush everywhere... Regular snow boots with tiny holes that doesn't matter in snow will spring leaks in slush...

I Sno Seal my gloves and my work boots (cheapo Big 5 high-tops). You rub the stuff all over them and put them in a warm oven or run a hair dryer over them to melt the sealant into the leather. Just rubbing it in isn't enough. Read the instructions!

You should be able to find wool socks and glove liners at many Internet shops. I reserve my wool gear for the really cold weather.

I also have a full heavy rain suit (in case we ever get monsoon-type weather - which happened once! - and I have to care for the livestock). You could put on some fairly warm clothes and the rain suit over it and be great in the snow. The biggest issue with snow is not having it melt on you and get you wet. And the rain suit would be an extra insulating layer.

I have a set of YakTrax that I leave on my rubber boots (extra large), and a set I keep in my jacket I wear to the office if the ground gets treacherous. The deluxe Yaktrax have a strap over the top that definitely helps keep them on in heavy snow. You can improvise a strap like that with baling wire or cord or velcro. You probably need more than one strap over the top. A second strap that goes from the heel up and around the top of the foot will help in the back.

Have the Right Tools Ready
You need to have a snow shovel for the house and one for each vehicle. I'd go by the local feed store and buy a 50 pound sack of poultry grit and use that instead of the stupid sand. The weight will help with traction and if you have to sprinkle it under your tires or on your driveway it will grip better than sand. Price isn't too bad.

I strongly recommend having a hoe with a shortened handle in each vehicle. Vehicles get in trouble two ways - slide-offs and high-centering. You can't effectively dig the snow out from under your vehicle with a snow shovel. You have to lay on your side and dig it out with the hoe. It works and it doesn't take too long.

If you slide off into a ditch you're just going to need a tow. If you have a winch you might be able to winch yourself out.

If you slide off and you have a good tow strap (not a chain) you might be able to get pulled out. The strap is springy and allows the towing vehicle to get a little inertia going before the strap pulls tight. They may not be able to get enough traction to pull you out, but that bit of inertia might be enough to do the job. I would never try a questionable tow unless I did my best to dig the car out first. Even a tow truck might have trouble pulling a vehicle out of a snow-filled ditch unless the car was dug out first. Compacted snow is very hard and heavy.

You really never know when a really bad snowstorm is going to hit. The weather service is terrible about being accurate, especially regards timing. We've been warned that bad weather was coming and it is often early or late by 8 or more hours. We pack a winter survival bag with extra coats, a blanket, food, water, and a small catalytic heater and extra propane canisters. We carry water in a mylar bag (old wine bag) packed in a box so it can expand and contract as it freezes and thaws.

We've never had to use chains, but we have a set of cable chains if we need them. Only one of our cars is fully equipped and we stop using the other car unless the roads are clear.

I've seen traction strips that look like plastic trellis that you put under your tires to get traction. I fabbed up something like that and it helped once or twice when I got stuck.

With your hill you might consider parking somewhere else nearby. Unless you can keep your driveway ice-free you might not like sliding down the driveway and into the street uncontrollably. Have a good supply of de-ice in advance (which was hard to find around here when all the trouble started). Some are better than others.

We use a lot of plain unscented clay cat litter on the steps and sidewalk. It works very well. Better than de-ice for concrete and wood. And cheap!

We buy windshield wiper fluid that also contains de-ice. It works really well unless the temps are very low. You should keep a spray bottle of it in the house and take it outside to spray any vehicle windows that got snow or ice on them.

If you think there could be lots of snow then you might want to consider the rating of your home's roof. I'm guessing that no homes in your area can take much snow (why should they?). Getting on the roof to shovel it off is bloody dangerous. It's not worth dying for, or being crippled for. If you've got the money, buy a Snow Razor from MinnSnowta ($150) - they'll last forever.

We mainly use plastic snow shovels with straight handles. Snow gets to be very heavy and the fancy curved handles fail sooner (I think). The plastic blade is strong enough for most uses. We use a little plastic snow shovel (probably made for kids) to shovel the stairs because a regular shovel is too big.

Get a plastic sled so you can drag the snow away from your driveway and house. Many years we started with a snow pile by the driveway, but by the end of winter it was huge and in the way! Just drag it a little distance, and it won't be in your way or the snowplow's way if you have to get your driveway plowed.

We also have steel square tip shovels (2 sizes) to dig up the ice that inevitably forms in places when the snow gets too deep. We also use the mattock to break up ice on the ground (you should have a mattock anyway, good for lots of things). Many years we've had 2 - 4" of hard ice that forms under the snow from cycles of melting and snowing...

|We keep a big coffee can of cat litter and a can of deice in the house by the front door. Many days we couldn't safely get out of the house or get to the garage to spread the cat litter. We also have some car lock de-icer sprays, but have only needed them once or twice in 21 years.

If the forecast is for heavy snow, you can park your car at the end of your driveway. You'll only need to shovel maybe 6 feet of driveway, instead of 40 or 50 (or 250 in our case). It's also a good way to avoid having to pay to have your driveway plowed (it's $50 for a long driveway like ours, every time). You'll want to have your plastic sled on hand so that you can sled your groceries up to the house or the garbage out to the road.

Parking your vehicle in your garage has a lot of benefits when it comes to not having to scrape windows (oh, yea, have more than one good ice scraper...). But in heavy snow your wheel wells will be full of compacted snow (the whole undercarriage, grill, bumpers, etc., actually). When you drive into your garage you'll be bringing maybe 3 - 5 gallons of water into the garage. The warm engine then slowly warms the room and much of the ice melts. Each time you drive in.

Five gallons maybe you can handle, but over and over and you start to get a moisture problem in the garage. We've actually had it rain inside - the moisture condensed on the Tyvek lining of the roof and rained out on everything - not just where the car was, but all over the inside of the garage.

Our "solution" is to only drive one car in the winter when the weather's really bad and to use a floor squeegee to push the water and slush back outside. (While we're on the subject, one winter the ice formed a dam on both sides of the driveway in front of the garage and the water level of melting snow actually started to come in the garage. I had to take the mattock and dig a trench - in the cold and snow after work - down one side of the garage to drain the water away! Try that with a regular steel shovel!)

Shovel the snow early and often. Better 10 minutes several times a day than to try to dig out from an 8 inch accumulation.

Snow blowers around here are generally too small for our use with a 250'-long driveway. And they take gas and oil to run. A capable snow blower is expensive.

When we've had a bunch of snow, with more on the way, I often drive up and down the driveway compacting it. I drive to the left, to the right, and in the center to make as wide of a compacted area as possible (taking maybe 10 minutes). Our front wheel drive cars can drive in snow up to the undercarriage. You can drive on compacted snow, but if you've got snow that is deeper than your undercarriage it tends to build up in front of your vehicle while you're trying to get to the road and will probably high-center you. You can shovel / snow blow it out of the way or compact it down so you can drive on it. The next time your driveway's plowed they'll get most of the ice that forms from the compacting so it won't get too deep.

If you start to slide on ice let off the brake. You won't be able to slow yourself down anyway, and with the front wheels turning you might actually have a bit of steering control and be able to miss the really expensive / dangerous things on the road. (Hit something cheap.) Turns in the road are bad. Shaded areas are bad. The key is to slow down. That's all you usually need to do. (I've slide nearly a mile down a hill. I've spun around in the middle of our road and not left the roadway. I've slid to a stop just inches from the car ahead of me. I've also lost control and crossed the oncoming lanes and onto the opposite shoulder. Going slow is the secret to avoiding these events.)

Everything Else
Needless to say we have over a month’s supply of food and water stored. If we’re snowed in, or have the sniffles (or worse) we can ride it out at home. And of course, as Christians we pray early and often. We want to be in a position to help others, but we also realize it’s prudent to prepare for “such a time as this.”

Be Prepared. Trust God. We can do both. - Peter H.

Ebola in Pigs New Health Threat

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New on the market: Stay Alert caffeine chewing gum. (Obviously, this is something only for short-term emergency situations--like staying awake during the second half of a non-stop 800 -mile G.O.O.D. evacuation drive.)

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North Korea Warns of "Unimaginably Deadly Blows" to US

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Greg W. mentioned the soon-to-be-released Enertia electric motorcycle. $12,000 is a lot of money for a cycle with such limited range and speed. But it might be appropriate for short trips for someone that already has a large photovoltaic power system.

"The necessity of procuring good intelligence is apparent and need not be further urged." - General George Washington, then commanding the Continental Army, 26 July 1777

Police can now legally fire at "fleeing cars" in Chicago. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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From Heather H.: Maine’s wild blueberry crop imperiled by leaf spot fungus. Heather's comment: "First the wheat fungus, then the potato blight, and now the blueberries are dying. What's next?"

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Hard times drive more Michiganders to fish for food. (Thanks to "Survival Mama" for the link.)

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PD sent this: IDF Vets Train U.S. Jews to Protect Their Communities PD's comment on the trigger fondling and errant muzzle direction: "It looks like they need to start out with a safety lesson!"

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From reader GG: [Canada's] Gun registry hasn't 'saved a single life'

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I was recently contacted by a producer for The History Channel who is making a documentary about survivalism. It is an unusual project that will include a subtext docudrama about a family that is fleeing Los Angeles in the midst of a megapandemic. He will be interviewing survivalists in Los Angeles and New York in mid-August. If you live in or near those cities and are willing to do an on-camera interview, please contact Nick Leader, via e-mail.


Last Day! Ready Made Resources is continuing their special 25% off sale on case lots of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, with free shipping to the Continental United States. Please don't miss out on this sale, as they don't happen very often. Stock up! The sale ends at midnight eastern time tonight. (Wednesday, July 29th.)


Today's first post is from my wife. Many thanks for your prayers.

I am in a very unusual situation. I'm in my mid-40s, but I'm dying. My doctors have told me that I have less than two months to live. So I have been working on my "bucket list." One of the items therein is finding a new wife for my husband, to marry after I go to be with the Lord. I have always been a cautious shopper, carefully analyzing and deliberating the pros and cons of each acquisition, whether it is a horse, or a piece of land, or just a pair of boots. Finding a new wife for Jim will be a challenge for me.

First, about Jim:

  • 48 years old, normal weight, and very healthy, but prematurely gray.
  • Has a hard-charging "Type A" personality. He doesn't know how to relax.
  • Very punctual and neat, except for his desk.
  • Modest, loyal, and extremely devoted. (He has spent the past year by my bedside.)
  • Generous and tithes regularly.
  • A worrier. (SurvivalBlog is the professional manifestation of his worrying.)
  • Hates big cities, and will never move back to one.
  • Willing to dig lots of holes for my plants, but he is not much of a gardener.
  • Loves giving gifts but he dislikes spending money.
  • Has enough survival gear to equip a reinforced squad.

My replacement must meet these qualifications:

  • Be a devout, church-going Christian, preferably with Reformed/Calvinist doctrine. This is the first and foremost consideration. (No exceptions.)
  • Be healthy and of normal body weight. (Jim could not bear to lose another wife at a young age.)
  • Willing to put up with Jim's eccentricities including his emphasis on OPSEC.
  • Willing to assume my responsibility of caring for three teenagers. (They are godly homeschooled kids, and a great joy to us.)
  • Willing to live at the Rawles Ranch in a remote, yet very beautiful area. (Nearly a two hour drive to any decent shopping.)
  • Willing to live in a true "four season" climate, with up to six months of snow.
  • Enjoy the outdoors (canoeing, hunting, fishing, berry picking, gardening, et cetera.)
  • Have a good sense of humor.
  • Not want to have babies. (Jim can no longer have children.)
  • No interest in television. (We don't own a television, but we do have high speed Internet service.)
  • Be willing to visit your relatives only once or twice a year.
  • Not squeamish around slaughtering and butchering of livestock and wild game.
  • Hard working.
  • Thrifty. (Although Jim makes a very good living, shopaholics need not apply.)
  • Circumspect.
  • Loyal.

Things about you that do not matter:

  • Your age. You can be anywhere between 30 and 55 years old.
  • Your appearance. You can be ugly, maimed, deformed, scarred, or disfigured. (But you must be normal body weight and healthy!)
  • Your race.
  • Your height. (As long as you are least 5'2".)
  • Your taste in clothes, music, or art. (Jim has eclectic tastes, but prefers women that dress modestly in public.)
  • You have been previously married or already have children (as long as they have been raised to be respectful and well-mannered.)

Things that would be preferable, but not crucial:

  • You are omnivorous. (We eat a lot of elk, venison, and trout.)
  • You are fairly athletic and enjoy vigorous exercise.
  • You have a good traditional skill set (Cooking, sewing, gardening, et cetera.)
  • A background in a medical science (Doctor, nurse, veterinarian, EMT, Paramedic, etc.)
  • Your family lives west of the Rockies.
  • You like dogs and cats.
  • You would enjoy raising livestock.
  • You can play the piano.
  • You have acting experience.
  • You are handy with tools.
  • You are artistic and/or have a good eye for nature photography.
  • You enjoy traveling.

If you believe that you meet the aforementioned qualifications and are sincerely seeking a life-long commitment with a loving husband, then consider this prayerfully, and then e-mail me your brief biography. I'll be doing the vetting before you can talk with Jim. Needless, to say, I'm going to be very selective.

Sincerely, - The Memsahib

Hi James,

Thank you for the work that you do. In reference to this quote:

" As a side note: There is a video commonly shown to police academy students that depicts a real situation where a man armed with a knife attacked an armed police officer from across a room (10-to-15 feet). I have heard that merely viewing that video (and communicating the fact of said viewing) to a prosecutor can result in the dismissal of charges related to shooting a person who is threatening you with a knife. (While you're armed with a gun). YMMV. Research carefully."

I believe your contributor is referencing a video [on the Tueller Drill] by Massad Ayoob. It has been awhile, but I believe the key point was about justification for lethal force when there is a perceived imbalance of power (a knife at a distance versus a firearm). Basically, by going through the drill, the people in his class new for a fact that a knife was a lethal threat at a range of 21 feet and hence there were justified in their minds by taking the shot. If you should find yourself in a similar circumstance this would be an interest topic to cover with your attorney... not with the police or prosecutor. - Scrod

Hi Jim,
I’ve been out playing in the Wasatch mountains of Utah and found your e-mail when I got back. You mentioned several people had asked about my note on the significance of carrying large paper clips in your backpack. Ah, where have all the Boy Scouts gone?

If you think of all the things you can do or make out of a 5-inch long piece of bailing wire you will get your mind going in the right direction. Some of the uses for a heavy duty paper clip in a wilderness survival situation are; make a fishing hook, make a fish or small animal spear using a stick, make a crude small animal trap or snare, make a needle for sewing, mini soldering iron, pick locks, make a compass, use to start a fire, cauterize wounds, hang meat/fish over a fire, fix various objects, fasten items, etc.

If you go on the web and Google something like, wilderness survival paper clips, you will find page after page of sites listing the various uses, sites listing paper clips in their survival kits, or sites willing to sell you survival kits with paper clips. There is a lot of information out there to weed through. For those interested, I’ve included a few hyperlinks to sites that go into detail on some of the more practical uses such as making a compass or starting a fire instead of writing the directions out here.

Paper clips are something most everyone has around and they are lightweight, small, and have a ton of uses. I can’t count the times I’ve used them over the years for a wide variety of reasons. They’re pretty close on the list to a small spool of duct tape.

One of the other things I was going to mention pertains to using trash bags for waterproofing items such as backpacks or anything else you don’t want to get wet. Trash compactor bags work much much better. They are made of a heavier gauge plastic and are square at the bottom. They fit perfectly in most backpacks or day packs because they are rectangular. They work really well for storing or protecting most anything that has dimension. Also, great for an emergency rain poncho because people are not flat like normal trash bags but have a tendency to have some width to them. Trash compactor bags are not to be confused with Contractor trash bags.

Hopefully this answers some of the questions or at least directs people to where they can find more detailed information. The links are listed below. Take care, - Sharon

Luis S. mentioned a great site with web feeds of police and fire department frequencies from all over the US. This is a useful adjunct to having a scanner, especially when choosing GOOD routes that are outside your scanner's range. It might also be useful as a tool for evaluating retreat locales before you move.

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Can you spell: "Agent Provocateur"? (No, not the lingerie company.)

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Reader DD sent this sign of the times: Los Angeles Airport parking lot is home away from home for airline workers

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Do any SurvivalBlog readers know of a source for small diameter (unleaded fuel) spouts that will fit Scepter Military Fuel Cans (MFCs)? (All that I've seen advertised are large-diameter spouts, for diesel or the old style for leaded gas filler necks.) Thanks!

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New Texas Law: Police can use force to compel hurricane evacuation. (Thanks to Greg C. for the link.)

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." - Lewis Grizzard

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I frequently stress the importance of well-balanced preparedness in my writings. All too often, I've seen people that go to extremes, to the point that these extremes actually detract from the ability to survive a disaster situation. These range from the "all the gear that I'll need to survive is in my backpack" mentality to the "a truckload of this or that" fixation. But genuine preparedness lies in comprehensive planning, strict budgeting, and moderation. Blowing your entire preparedness budget on just one category of gear is detrimental to your overall preparedness.

Another common mistake that I see among my consulting clients is an over-emphasis on either very old technologies or on the "latest and greatest" technologies. In the real world, preparedness necessitates having a bit of both. At the Rawles Ranch we have both 19th century technology (like hand-powered tools) and a few of the latest technologies like passive IR intrusion detection (Dakota Alerts), photovoltaics, and electronic night vision. My approach is to pick and choose the most appropriate technologies that I can maintain by myself, but to always have backups in the form of less exotic or earlier, albeit less-efficient technologies. For example, my main shortwave receiver is a Sony ICF-SW7600GR. But in the event of EMP, I also a have a pair of very inexpensive Kaito shortwaves and a trusty old Zenith Trans-Oceanic radio that uses vacuum tubes. Like my other spare electronics, these are all stored in a grounded galvanized steel can when not in use.

Here is my approach to preparedness gear, in a nutshell

  • Redundancy, squared. I jokingly call my basement Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR)
  • Buy durable gear. Think of it as investing for your children and grandchildren. And keep in mind that there'll be no more "quick trips to the hardware store" after TSHTF.
  • Vigilantly watch Craigslist, Freecycle, classified ads, and eBay for gear at bargain prices.
  • Strive for balanced preparedness that "covers all bases"--all scenarios.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability (Examples: shop to match a 12 VDC standard for most small electronics, truly multi-purpose equipment, multi-ball hitches, NATO slave cable connectors for 24 VDC vehicles, Anderson Power Pole connectors for small electronics--again, 12 VDC)
  • Retain the ability to revert to older, more labor-intensive technology.
  • Fuel flexibility (For example: Flex fuel vehicles (FFVs), Tri-fuel generators, and biodiesel compatible vehicles)
  • Purchase high-quality used (but not abused) gear, preferably when bargains can be found
  • If in doubt, then buy mil-spec.
  • If in doubt, then buy the larger size and the heavier thickness.
  • If in doubt, then buy two. (Our motto: "Two is one and one is none.")
  • Buy systematically, and only as your budget allows. (Avoid debt!)
  • Invest your sweat equity. Not only will you save money, but you also will learn more valuable skills.
  • Train with what you have, and learn from the experts. Tools without training are almost useless.
  • Learn to maintain and repair your gear. (Always buy spare parts and full service manuals!)
  • Buy guns in common calibers
  • Buy with long service life in mind (such as low self-discharge NiMH rechargeable batteries.)
  • Store extra for charity and barter
  • Grow your own and buy the tooling to make your own--don't just store things.
  • Rust is the enemy, and lubrication and spot painting are your allies.
  • Avoid being an "early adopter" of new technology--or you'll pay more and get lower reliability.
  • Select all of your gear with your local climate conditions in mind.
  • Recognize that there are no "style" points in survival. Don't worry about appearances--concentrate on practicality and durability.
  • As my old friend "Doug Carlton" is fond of saying: "Just cut to size, file to fit,, and paint to match."
  • Don't skimp on tools. Buy quality tools (such as Snap-on and Craftsman brands), but buy them used, to save money.
  • Skills beat gadgets and practicality beats style.
  • Use group standardization for weapons and electronics. Strive for commonality of magazines, accessories and spare parts
  • Gear up to raise livestock. It is an investment that breeds.
  • Build your fences bull strong and sheep tight.
  • Tools without the appropriate safety gear (like safety goggles, helmets, and chainsaw chaps) are just accidents waiting for a place to happen.
  • Whenever you have the option, buy things in flat, earth tone colors
  • Plan ahead for things breaking or wearing out.
  • Always have a Plan B and a Plan C

If you are serious about preparedness, then I recommend that you take a similar approach.

I've gotta chime in here. Jeff R.'s submission is great but I think he overlooked one very important point. He said:

"If you are involved in a shooting and it appears there may be an official inquiry, forget flashy, emotional phrases that uninformed people throw around, such as “shoot-to-kill,” “shoot-to-wound,” or “shoot-to” anything. Facts, not flash, will win the day. You didn’t shoot to do anything other than to stop the action and end the danger to yourself and your family. The old shoot-to-kill question is a trap that has been used on police officers in court; “if you shot to kill, why could you not shoot-to-wound?” Anybody familiar with defense shooting knows that close quarters shootings involve little more than shoving the gun at the target and firing. Likewise, nobody involved in a shooting has the luxury of time to ponder nonsense questions like the above."

I would submit that not only should you "forget flashy, emotional phrases" - you should say nothing.. Anything other than "Officer, my life was in jeopardy, I would like to speak to an attorney now." is a perilous mistake. Even if you are totally justified, completely innocent of wrongdoing., say nothing. Not even innocent-seeming justifications or alibis. Nothing. "I would like to speak to an attorney now". Anything else and you are in serious peril.

I am not an attorney. Here you can see a law professor explain why.

As a side note: There is a video commonly shown to police academy students that depicts a real situation where a man armed with a knife attacked an armed police officer from across a room (10-to-15 feet). I have heard that merely viewing that video (and communicating the fact of said viewing) to a prosecutor can result in the dismissal of charges related to shooting a person who is threatening you with a knife. (While you're armed with a gun). YMMV. Research carefully. - Matt R.

Eric S. spotted this: Five Firms Hold 80% of Derivatives Risk, Fitch Report Finds

A reader from South Carolina sent this: The weak dollar and the economy

Items from The Economatrix:

Michael Panzner: Wall Street's Gains Equal Main Street's Losses? "In sum, while a growing number of investors seem to believe that Main Street is on the mend, many of corporate America's senior executives -- who are normally not prone towards pessimistic outlooks -- are maintaining that they see no real evidence of a revival where it counts -- on the ground. In fact, amid an almost single-minded focus on reported earnings results, many of which only appear favorable in comparison to the low-ball, company managed estimates that clueless analysts have come up with, Wall Street hasn't been paying much attention to just how dicey things look at the top of the income statement."

Dollar Dying, Gold Gleaming

UK Oil Giants' Profits Plunge $10 Billion

Facing Retirement: 70 is the new 65

Guaranty Bank Warns it's on Verge of Failure

Lawmakers: California Budget Crisis Resolved, For Now

Small Business Loan Defaults Expected to Rise

School Budgets Dip, Class Sizes Grow

Weiss: The Great Global Gap

Atlas Vacant - The Commercial Real Estate Bust: Gearing up for a $3 Trillion Headache. Increase in Vacancy Rates and Higher Defaults

Negative Folly (The Mogambo Guru)

Treasuries Fall as US Begins Auction, New Home Sales Rise

Call for Rapid Recovery is Bubble All its Own

Reader "Korea" mentioned this company in Oklahoma as a source for military surplus ammo cans and landing mat sections: Calumet Industries. I've heard from several readers that they've been having trouble finding ammo cans at reasonable prices. Simple logic dictates that the millions of Americans presently buying ammunition in large quantity will need a place to store it, and hence the ammo can shortage. If you know of other ammo can suppliers with reasonable prices, please send me their URLs, and I'll post them. Thanks!

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Libertarians seek a place in the New Hampshire sun
. Oh, and speaking of liberty, HPD sent a link to an article posted over at the JPFO site by Timothy Baldwin: The American Revolution Revisited.

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Steve G. saw a Slashdot piece about EMP linked at Instapundit: Electronic Armageddon?

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DD sent us this item: Drought turning Texas as dry as toast. But elsewhere: 3,000 Low Temp Records Set This July!

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Tamara had a link to a video clip at The Breda Fallacy of an air head addressing the Santa Cruz City Council. Wow! What stunning logic. She might a have a future as a career politician in Sacramento, or even Washington, D.C. Tamara's comment: "Visualize her in a voting booth. (Cry a little.)"

"Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. They shall hold the bow and the lance: they [are] cruel, and will not shew mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, [every one] put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon." - Jeremiah 50: 41-42 (KJV)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just two days left! Ready Made Resources is continuing their special 25% off sale on case lots of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, with free shipping to the Continental United States. Please don't miss out on this sale, as they don't happen very often. Stock up! The sale ends Wednesday, July 29th.

I was pleased to see this post over at the Mountain Steps blog: A letter to our county commissioner about emergency preparation for hyperinflation. It is commendable to make such inquiries, but it is essential to ask detailed questions. Especially when contacting elected officials, vague, general questions tend to elicit vague, general answers, and hence most likely no action will be taken.

It is also essential that you do some research first, to direct your inquiry letter or phone call to the right individuals. Flunkies don't create or change policy, they just implement it. You need to direct your letter to someone that has the authority to make policy, and has the budget to implement it. (In some cases, this will mean separate contacts to whomever controls the purse strings.)

I recommend that you ask detailed questions, such as:

Do you have a back-up generator, and how many days of fuel do you keep on hand? What is your contingency plan to implement before that fuel runs out?

Can you continue to operate without grid power? If not, then what contingency plans do you have?

Is the city's water supply gravity fed, from end to end? If not, then what contingency plans have been put in place to provide water to utility customers, in the event of a grid power interruption longer than 48 hours?

And ask:

Are electrically-pumped filters used, or traditional gravity filters?

Then, if you discover that the water system is mostly via gravity, but it uses electric pumps only for pressurized filtration, then ask: If electrically-pumped filters are used, then has a disaster contingency waiver been established with the USEPA, (for turbidity and other standards), to allow bypassing of filters in the event of a grid-down emergency situation?

Similarly detailed letters or phone inquiries should be made to your local irrigation district, your fire department, power utility, phone companies (both cellular and land line), refinery, hospital, kidney dialysis clinic, coal mine, National Guard, grocery store, et cetera.

Do not expect the grid to magically stay up and running, Assume the worst case, and plan accordingly.

OBTW, one key word to search for when estimating the resiliency of your community's infrastructure is co-generation. Find out where the co-gen plants are, and their capacity!

Hello Mr. Rawles;
I just found your blog site and have not read all the postings yet. One thing I have not seen is a go bag for the dog. If one has a purse mutt, a carrier with supplies is one thing but if one has a real dog that is a part of the pack (family) then a go bag for the dog is a good idea. We have a German Sheppard and she can carry her own food and water in a doggy backpack. Doggy backpacks can be found at places like Campmor.com. [JWR Adds: Dog Backpacks are also available from Amazon.com, and several other online vendors.] I would train the dog to use it before the need arises. It probably is a good idea to get a collapsible dog travel bowl as well for the water as most dogs would waste a lot of water drinking from a bottle. I have seen these fold up travel bowls for sale at Wal-Mart. In real cold areas a dog coat is good if your dog is mostly an indoor dog as they are not acclimated to the cold. Even if they are, in some areas it can get real cold outside at night. We bought our dog’s coat at LandsEnd.com. It was on reduced sale. [JWR Adds: Foul weather coats for dogs are are also available from several other online vendors.] I would think that boots for dogs would be good to save their paws from the cold or even hot pavement or maybe broken glass or other such hazards during an evacuation. Again if you use these you must train your dog to accept them. [JWR Adds: In my experience, most dogs have difficulty adjusting to using boots, and most of the available brands don't fit well and have a tendency to slip off. A far more practical solution is to use a wax-based cream, such as Musher's Secret on your dog's paws.] Campmor also sells a roll up dog bed/pad that can provide thermal cushioning or you could use a piece of ensolite pad. If you take care of your dog they will live better and longer and be a better companion and protector for you.

Thank you for helping to make people aware. Best Regards, - Glennis

JWR Replies: Those were great suggestions. In my opinion, the other items that you should put in your dog's pack is a pair of Tick Tweezers, and a sealed bottle of a strong flea and chigger repellant. Carry it in three thicknesses of Ziploc bags, just in case of leaks.

Hello Jim and Family,
As a former whitewater canoeing instructor (yeah, I know - but I passed my psych evaluation) I found the recent post on traveling on water to be both enjoyable and thought provoking. I would like to add, however, that all (personal flotation devices (PFDs) are not alike. It seems that in all parts of the country, commercial rafters are in business and (for the most part) guiding people safely down some mild whitewater experiences. Occasionally, and also tragically, deaths occur when people are thrown from a raft in perfectly survivable conditions. WHY they didn't survive has to do with a multitude of factors, clearly, but there is just no excuse for the sorry excuses for PFDs these commercial rafters use. The rules and regs are not at all onerous to deal with, and any old type II life vest that is coast-guard approved is what most people put on. These vests are considered "flat water" vests for conscious swimmers. The only kind of vest I would use in whitewater would be a or Type V, depending on the severity of the whitewater I might use a type III. Type I's do not have a collar system, they are just "mae west" type vests that are patterned after the old WWII vests our servicemen wore. You can slip out of a type I too easily IMO, and it does not have an active system to keep a swimmer's head out of the water.

The question should be asked? "What makes whitewater - white?" I don't believe that people think much on this question, and they really should...

The answer? Air.

When water falls over obstacles at speed, turbulence causes air to mix with the water, it essentially decreases the ability of a person to float, you can't really swim in whitewater either, because you're arms and legs are just beating at air. Very turbid water is nearly impossible to float in. Even wearing a type V doesn't guarantee that your head will be above water. A typical type II vest has 15.5 lbs of float for the adult version, and 11lbs for a child version. A type I has a minimum of 22 lbs of float, but they are not well-liked by people who have to paddle. Specs have changed over the years, and type I's used to have sealed pockets around kapok - get a hole in the pocket and you lose flotation for that pocket. They are also bulky and cumbersome to paddle a boat in. Do not use a type I if you can help it, if you must use a type I - than make sure they use closed-cell foam inserts rather than sealed compartments. Type Vs start at Type I specs for flotation, 22lb, but generally range in the 28lb rating area. The other important difference is that the type Vs almost always have flotation collars - meant to help keep the head shielded from rocks and keep it erect during possible unconscious conditions. In Colorado we've recently had a spate of deaths of fully-capable adults who had been thrown from a commercial whitewater raft. I checked, and most of what they had were type II and type III PFDs (same rating, almost, as the type II).

The whitewater rafting companies going through the Grand Canyon all use type Vs. I've seen some guides in the canyon wear a type III, and a type V over it.

If you're going to use water to egress, and you might have to traverse whitewater - you really need to consider what PFD you select. They are not equal in quality or versatility, and if you live by the "always bring a gun to a gunfight" mentality, whether or not you are going to wear a PFD that will actually save your life should be an easy question. You will never, ever regret having quality gear when you need it - when your 12 year old child is engulfed by a river while wearing the bargain basement PFD you "found" at a surplus store - you'll appreciate any time you spend in selecting a good vest. - LDM in Colorado

JWR Replies: Thanks for that reminder. As your children grow older, be sure to get progressively larger life vests for them. You can even get a K-9 PFD Life Jacket.

I just heard about Alpha Innovations, a great source for very sturdy, reasonably priced, American-made Yawaras, Koppo Sticks, Kubatons,"Letter Openers", and other other high density injection-molded goodies. Their "Stylus Kubaton" variant is ideal for anyone that carries a touchscreen PDA or an iPhone. (Consult your local laws before ordering!) OBTW, they also make some amazing custom products and sell training DVDs.

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Vietnam Veteran Keeps Vow, Eats 40-Year-Old (C-ration) Pound Cake. BTW, The Memsahib and I ate the last of my old C-Rations around 1987.Those had been packed in the late 1970s, and they seemed quite old (but still palatable) at the time, but I couldn't imagine eating those another 22 years later!

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Jeff in Ohio mentioned a new ham radio net on Thursday nights at 9 pm Eastern time on the 20 meter band, at around 14.320 MHz. Jeff notes: "The net is sponsored by the American Preppers Network. This may be a good way for some people to find like minded individuals in their local area. The only downside is that upon giving your call sign anyone listening can look up your location on QRZ.com unless your retreat is not co-located with your mailing address."

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Craig W. mentioned a thread about "Discreet" hockey bags for carrying carbines.

"Three groups spend other people's money: children, thieves, politicians. All three need supervision." - Dick Armey

Sunday, July 26, 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.

Often looking into the past can help solve new problems. If roads become unusable for travel, or vehicles are not available we must start looking at new solutions, or old ones in this case. Paved roads as we have today are a fairly recent innovation. Even 100 years ago very few were paved and often subject to damage by rains, floods, and environmental conditions. Winding cattle trails, wagon tracks, and horse paths were the main travelways on land. And today's roads can easily become dangerous and impassable during bad weather, earthquakes, and mudslides. But there is an alternative for almost everyone. Water! The continental US has numerous large rivers that for the most part are very navigable. There are also large chains of lakes that offer great travel options. If you look at any map of the US you will see larger cities and towns close to rivers and lakes. This is because [in the 19th Century] traveling by water often made more sense then by land, and trade routes and communities grew up around these waterways.

Traveling by water offers many challenges. The first being what type of craft to use. There are many commercially available sizes and styles and each is well suited for many applications. But lets look at it in terms of power. There are engine powered and non engined powered. Basically powerboats have some type of engine to provide propulsion. They can be gas, diesel, or electric motor powered. These can include shaftdrive, inboard/outboard, outboard, and jet drive, and typically are the faster and more powerful of all types. Sailboats and pedalboats are examples of non engine powered, and of course canoes, rafts, and kayaks are examples of human powered. Each type has advantages and drawbacks. Engines need fuel and maintenance but provide power for speed and moving heavier loads. A larger boat with no gas to run the motor is useless. A canoe can be used in shallower water, but usually can't hold more than a few hundred pounds of gear with two adults in it. Sailboats need more room to be effective in tracking the wind and maneuvering, but don't need fuel to move. So as with any piece of equipment assessing your needs will be crucial to picking the right boat.

In a situation where overland travel is limited, looking at waterways is the best alternative. You need to identify what travel routes may be in your area and start compiling maps and information on them. Water always flows downhill and depending on what side of the mountains you are on will greatly influence the direction they will flow. For example in my area of the southeast we have the bottom portion of the Appalachian mountain range. And there are rivers that flow from the center of the state all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and there are others that begin a few miles away that head all the way to the Mississippi River. The East Coast has the Intercoastal Waterway that is actually an inland series of interconnecting flows that you can travel North and South over the majority of the coastal US without getting into the open ocean. The Great Lakes have always been used as trade routes throughout the midwest and many areas of the lakes are still used to transport goods. Having the maps and information on dams, locks, and other travel hazards will be invaluable.

Once you have identified your waterways you can begin to decide on your craft. With so many variables I am not able to give you more than my own choices and reasoning in hopes it will give you a start in figuring out your own solution. I currently have 6 options for water craft. With a healthy interest in sport fishing I tend to always have several boats available to me. I first researched my local waterways. I have access and experience on the Chatahoochee River, and the Coosa River, as well as the Savannah River and Ogeechee River here in Georgia. I also have a boat stored on the coast for offshore fishing on the few weekends I'm able to get away. I have been fortunate to have canoed in a major body of water in almost every state from Maine to Florida on the east coast so there are many other rivers, lakes, and creeks that I am familiar with but the main ones for travel for me are decided by proximity, size, direction of travel, and ease of navigation. For example the Ocoee River in Tennessee is a superb white water river and is a blast to play around in a kayak, however it is limited in travel due to difficulty and the dams that control water flow. So for distance travel or to navigate it with a skiff full of supplies would be impossible. You want to find wider slower moving rivers as these will allow better navigation with a loaded down boat. For these rivers a wide bodied canoe is invaluable and can carry quite a bit of supplies. Also on many rivers there are long wide stretches that have very slow moving water and can actually be paddled upstream with little effort and can provide travel in both directions. I have two kayaks, two canoes, one john boat, and one 21' offshore center console fishing boat. The offshore boat has a full compliment of safety gear and survival supplies. The reason for this is because getting in trouble 60 miles offshore is not the place to wonder if you packed some extra water or food, or is that pair of pliers in the tool kit or not. So that boat is fully equipped at all times. However with 250 miles of travel to get to it I spent more time preparing gear for the other boats. The kayaks are good for quick maneuvering or scouting ahead of a larger boat. My two oldest kids are getting better paddling the canoes and the three younger ones can ride in the john boat with the supplies. I have added two electric motors with 50# thrust and 1 deep cycle marine battery for each one. These have been fitted to fit the canoes and the john boat. I have added a solar recharger for the batteries. And have an additional jump pack for emergency power. The john boat is 18' and is a shallow draft with fitted oars for maneuvering down river. This set up of "scout" kayaks, "transport" canoes, and a "storage" john boat, will in my opinion maximize my travel options while still being able to transport my large family with less effort than overland travel. I am only a few miles from a river large enough for me to make it all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. And I believe if I need to travel out of my area for any reason that the remoteness of water travel will increase my travel ability and decrease my risk of exposure to outside influences.

I would like to add here that many states require a boater safety course before you operate a powered boat in local waters. This would be a great training class to take for everyone. Also for Coastal residents the coast guard has some great publications on navigation and using your boat safely. They also publish charts and booklets explaining what the markers, buoys, and lights mean for Navigational Aids placed throughout our coastal areas. If you do live on the coast and plan to use your boat as part of an emergency plan I would strongly suggest you sign up for and take the Coast Guard's Captain's class. This is commonly referred to as a "six pack license" and allows you to carry up to six passengers as captain on a for hire vessel, such as fishing charter boat captains have. The information you will learn in this class is incredibly important for anyone attempting to navigate in coastal waters. And as always obeying the rules and regulations on boating is crucial, and safety can never be underestimated on the water. You should have a PFD (personal flotation device), or life jacket for every person especially children. These need to fit properly and be in good repair for them to work so the first thing to do is to get a good Coast Guard Approved Life Jacket, the second is to wear it at all times out on the water.

The following are key elements of a plan to travel on water:

1. Examine routes and gather maps and information on the entire route including, hazards such as dams, power plants, locks, and spillways. These may be impassable and a plan to portage (go around) these obstacles will need to be made. Pay attention to seasonal changes such as high water in Spring or frozen areas in winter.

2. Never run rapids you have not scouted first. Stop before you get to them and walk down stream to check for the safest route.

3. Always have proper safety gear on each craft before beginning your trip. Including Life jackets, rescue ropes, and throwable flotation devices.

4. Use appropriate boat style for the type of water you are traveling on.

5. Practice using your watercraft to have some familiarity with your local waterways, and equipment.

6. Pre-pack your equipment for the most stable weight distribution without overloading.

With some minor adjustments your overland escape plan can be modified to include waterway travel and give you one more option in staying safe and prepared. As with any good plan it should include the variables but also allow for adaptability. So get out on a boat, enjoy the scenery, and use that time to get some practice in before you may really need it.

That was a good submission by Jeff R.! Here are some things I thought I would mention from personal experience:

I work as a Pharmacist in Philadelphia and was involved in an attempted armed robbery, six years ago. Two armed men came in the store early that morning attempting to obtain narcotics. I was able to see them early enough that they didn't get the drop on me. (Situational awareness!) The man in front had a .44 Magnum revolver with the hammer cocked. He announced "Get the f*** down, this is a stickup!" as he walked at me. I fatally shot him and wounded the second man (although he fled and was never found). The entire incident happened in about 5-7 seconds and before there was any time to get afraid or ponder the options. My arms were tingling for two hours after though, from adrenaline! It was an instant self-preservation reaction. This is why you must square up any moral concerns well beforehand as there will be no time during. Know what you will do!

I had mentally rehearsed scenarios like it happening and would practice the draw stroke which I think made everything so smooth. My technique wasn't the best as I shot one-handed and kind of point shot where I knew he was. He was about seven feet away when he was hit. The first shot hit him in the right eye, and the second somewhere else in the face, according to police). He literally died in the fetal position still holding the cocked gun. The entire thing seems surreal, like a quiet dream when I remember it even though I emptied the magazine. I think that mental preparation like Jeff mentioned is so important (in any training) to things working in your favor.

I had to sit in homicide department for about four hours total until our lawyer showed up and we gave a statement. I think it is important to have one there with you before you make any statements. You will be shook up, like Jeff said, and will benefit from having someone there with you. He advised me not to say anything to the media. Even though the police were praising me and saying it was obvious self defense I was concerned about the reaction from his family, et cetera. Supposedly they knew he was into "bad things".

I had to call regularly to find out information on the incident as nobody ever got back to me. I later found out that I had been exonerated. You think they would have let me know! It took me two years to get my gun back! They kept saying that it had to go through forensics for some reason. I know Philly isn't the most efficient place in the world and has lots of other crimes to deal with but what the heck? I couldn't believe it!

Jeff's advice is important to follow on dealing with the aftermath as you ponder how things could have gone differently and the consequences if they had. James, thanks for all you do! Be aware out there everyone! - S. in Philly

GG recommend this three-part YouTube video: Hyperinflation Nation

Greg C. spotted this item from New Zealand: $190,000 withdrawn in $20 bills; Irate bank customer hits back

From GG: Poll: Americans lacking in emergency funds

Items from The Economatrix:

Retail Industry Braces for Shopping Center Collapse

California Hotels Flood the Market

Biden, Oh Biden! (The Mogambo Guru)

Toyota Said to Plan to Shut California Car Plant on First Ever Closure

Gary North: The Coming Great Government Debt Default

TARP Watchdogs Criticize Treasury Over Transparency

Minimum Wage Hike Could Threaten Low Earners' Jobs

CalPERS, Teachers' Retirement Loses Almost $100 Billion

Guaranty's Collapse May Hit Stakes of Icahn, Rowling "Guaranty Financial Group Inc., the Texas bank spun off in 2007 by a forest products company, may become the biggest lender to collapse this year, wiping out investments by billionaire Carl Icahn’s funds and Omni Hotels owner Robert Rowling. Guaranty can’t raise capital demanded by regulators and will probably fail, according to a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission....A failure would be the largest among consumer lenders since September, when regulators seized the banking unit of Washington Mutual Inc."

EMB spotted this article which features two of our advertisers: Six Safe, Strong—and Chic—Bomb Shelters You Can Buy Now

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Pro-Gun Amendment Rejected. This legislation had so much common sense that it was no surprise that Chuck Schumer hated it.

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[Urban] Survival School

Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. - Proverbs 1:24-33 (KJV)

Saturday, July 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.

Some of you are probably asking yourself what this has to with Survivalism. Pain is our brain's way of letting us know that something is not right. You touch a hot stove and it warns you to pull away. With any number of things that can set off TEOTWAWKI,  The result will be the same. Traumatic, stressful, pick your favorite term; it’s all the same. Increased stress levels in the body create tension. We have all heard the term ”your psychology affects your physiology”, nothing could be more true. I think it is an excellent idea to go through practice drills in as many what if scenarios as you can fathom. One of the things I have not seen accounted for however is the effect of stress and pain has on our daily routines .The moment the hammer drops we will probably get by on adrenaline for a short period. The first part is preparing our bodies for the culture shock that will probably happen overnight. I would say the majority of the people reading this have an ample food supply, guns, ammo maybe even a detailed plan on what to do. But how many of us have a way to reduce stress? If you do not have one during ”peaceful” times, how much less ready will your mind and body be prepped when the situation demands it of you? I am not here to tell you what method you should choose. One of mine is prayer. Whatever yours are, cultivate them now as you do everything else. This leads me to the title of the article.

Unless you are Amish or are like the few readers of SurvivalBlog that are already modern versions of Grizzly Adams, the overnight transition will be more mental and physical than you have been accustomed to. Mentally I have already explained the mind-body connection..What can we do in the physical? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here it comes: ”exercise”. This is much more than dropping a few here and there for the yearly family photo. A stronger, fitter body will not only reduce stress levels but will be able to handle a greater physiological demand. A stronger body will put you in a better position to defend yourself. When the last tick of the clock hits it’s point, you are where you are, and that’s it! That said, even the strongest bodies get sore and get injured. I have heard horror stories at the gym (where us city folk exercise). A man dropped some weights on his finger. The trainer urged him to stick his finger in the hot tub. That was a big mistake. This is an easy way to remember what to do INJURY = COLD (the area is already inflamed, heat will expand tissues more) SORENESS = HOT (heat soothes sore muscles, not injuries!) There are different ways to approach it. Without an MRI, you cannot know just how serious but you can start reducing the impact. After an injury, the area should be iced (if possible) 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. This should be done [during waking hours] for several days. Anymore than 15-20 minutes of direct contact will have the same effect as heat, counterproductive. All that work on the Ponderosa will not only have you singing shoulda coulda woulda’s on being better prepared, it will also leave every muscle in your body begging for mercy. I have done massage on some of the strongest men around (the “Power Team”) and I assure you that pain is universal. Here is a non-medicinal pain survival equipment list for you:

    1. Two tennis balls
    2. A huge encyclopedia
    3. A low-back chair(like you used to have in school)
    4. Any good simple book on acupressure or trigger points
    5. A rolled-up towel

I could make a list a mile long but these five will do wonders for you.
Using tennis balls: this is good, no, great for the back. Laying on your back on the ground, place one tennis ball on either side of your spine (not on the spine). Start with the cervical, then move down to thoracic, then lumbar. Typically 10 minutes in each area should do the trick. Another way to stretch that lower back out is lying once again on your back. Place the large book or encyclopedia under your sacrum for 10 to 15 minutes. This technique uses your own body weight to release the muscles they surround, thereby relaxing them. Have you ever cooked a chicken? When you pull the skin off that milky white layer over the muscle is the fascia, it holds the muscle in place. Changing the angle of your lower back does wonders. The next thing is the low back chair. I like chairs that go about mid back. Sitting in the chair in the normal way, reach behind the chair grabbing the top of the legs (you can go lower as you stretch). Do not bounce! Pull for a few seconds at a time while leaning backwards over the chair edge, creating tension on your arms but stretching your back. At this point you probably wondering what in the world a rolled up towel can do for you. Hopefully by then you have already memorized all of your survival books , but chances are if you have not, you will be doing some serious reading. Sitting in a higher back chair or even a wall, place a rolled up towel east to west underneath your shoulder blades. This will help keep you in alignment and take pressure off your upper and middle back that develops from slouching as we read.

If these things seem too simple, well then I can assure you that they work. "Simple" is the key when your resources are limited. The American Indians used to have the children of the tribe walk on their backs for those with ailing backs, so I think you can adapt to these simple cures.  Why not just pop an aspirin? Well, first off all if you have access to pain meds, they will be very valuable and the less you have to rely on them the better off you will be. Keep in mind that no pill will cure an injury or eliminate the cause of the pain. It will merely cover it up for awhile. Why not just treat the cause of the problem instead of the symptom? We have little control over the circumstances that come our way. We can either be more prepared or less prepared. Learn how to take care of your body if you want it to take care of you.

I need your advice. I am worried about power failures, and even EMP while I'm sleeping. This could take out my security system, and leave my family vulnerable. Is there any sort of device that'll alert me if the power goes out? Thanks, - Nolan S.

JWR Replies: There are fairly inexpensive commercially-made plug-in power failure alarms available via mail order for under $15. (Or under $20 each at larger home improvement stores.) I recommend buying one for each bedroom, and one for your generator house. (The 86 dB alarm is not loud enough to be heard from far away, but having a light on for you at your generator house on a dark, snowy night is a very welcome sight!) Needless to say, these are a must for sleep apnea patients that use a CPAP machine, or for anyone else that uses other 120 VAC medical devices for chronic health issues. These alarms work fine for houses with grid power, or for houses with backup generators. (The alarm will trip before an auto-start backup generator kicks in.) If you have a grid-tied alternative energy system, you would of course need to plug one of these into an outlet that is exclusively grid-powered. If you live off-grid, you won't have any way of knowing, but then again, if your level of concern for such an event will probably be minimal.

If your specific concern is a power failure in the event of EMP, then you could always wire up a battery-powered traditional buzzer with a "normally closed" relay. (When the grid power is disconnected, the relay closes, and energizes the DC buzzer circuit.) That is 1920s-era technology that would be EMP proof.

Frequent content contributor Kevin A recommended this piece by Doug Casey: Street Fighting Man. It has some observations that sound a lot like what you've read in SurvivalBlog, such as: "I’ve long believed that this depression would not only be much different but much worse than the unpleasantness of the ’30s and ’40s. In those days, only a few people were involved in the financial markets; now almost anyone with any assets at all is a player. In those days, there were no credit cards, consumer debts, or student loans; now those things are ubiquitous. It’s true that nobody will lose any money because of bank failures this time around; instead, everybody is going to suffer a loss from a collapse of the U.S. dollar, which is much worse. In the ’30s and ’40s, the U.S. population was still largely rural in character, including people living in the cities. The average American was just off the farm and had a lot of practical skills as well as traditional values. Now he has skills mainly at paper shuffling or in highly specialized technologies, and it doesn’t seem to me that the values of hard work, self-reliance, honesty, prudence, and the rest of the Boy Scout virtues are as common as they once were."

From The Daily Bell: Bernanke dragged into stimulus debate

Marty Weiss on the enormous derivatives threat: The Great Lie of 2009

Items from The Economatrix:

Seven Franchises that Went Bankrupt

Banking's Two-Class System of Winners and Losers

World Prepares to Dump the Dollar

Abandoned US Dollar and Paradigm Shift "The foreign creditors continue to protect their core US$-denominated reserves, while clearly undermining the US$ on the margin, as alternatives are chosen."

Graduates Move Back Home

Americans Now Pariahs of Foreign Banks

Out of House and Home

The Doctrine of Preemptive Bailouts and the Biggest Bailout you Haven’t Heard About: The U.S. Treasury Plan C and the $3.5 Trillion You Will be Paying

"Without a rifle you are nothing, worthless; you are waiting for death, any minute, any second." - Aron Bielski, as quoted in the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec

Friday, July 24, 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.

It doesn’t have to be TEOTWAWKI for a person to be faced with the choice of shoot or don’t shoot. Everyday in the United States a police officer somewhere makes that choice (sometimes they choose “don’t shoot”). All too often, average Joe or Jane Citizen must make that choice. Hopefully dear reader, that day will never come for you, but if it does, here are a few things to help you not hesitate when necessity requires that you pull the trigger, and to help you live with the consequences.

Decide now that you will shoot another person if it becomes necessary. Pondering the morality, worrying about the legal ramifications, hoping you’re making the right decision--these are all tasks that should be resolved now, before the time comes to shoot. There is no way around the cold, hard fact that launching a copper-jacketed ball of lead into another person’s torso will cause serious bodily injury or death. Not to be harsh, but that is the whole point of the exercise. Resolve these issues now:

What are the legal justifications where I live for taking a human life? More importantly, what reasons are not legally justified?

Self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property are generally accepted to be valid reasons for using deadly force (use caution in some jurisdictions with the defense of property). In Texas, most law enforcement agencies won’t blink when a citizen kills an intruder or an attacker. The Texas Penal Code even has an affirmative defense for the use of deadly force to prevent the consequences of theft after nightfall. Know the laws concerning the use of deadly force where you live. Don’t just know about them--know them. If you are unclear about the meaning of the laws, ask your district attorney’s office--or better yet--your state’s Attorney General’s office. Often the AG of a state will have already published opinions on these issues. Asking a police officer may seem like a good idea, but they have different justifications for using deadly force, and citing one officer’s opinion is not likely to dissuade prosecution. For example, a police officer can appeal to the court decision of Tennessee vs. Garner after shooting a fleeing felon, but you probably will not be able to use that justification with success.

Another benefit of consulting the district attorney’s office with your questions about deadly force is that it is the district attorney’s office that decides who gets prosecuted and who does not. A shooting that occurs with reasonable legal justification that is further supported by the legal opinions of the district attorney’s office would be an unlikely candidate for prosecution (YMMV). Here again, know you local laws well. Familiarity with temperament of local law enforcement and the district attorney’s office concerning the use of deadly force by a private citizen is also helpful. The observations and opinions of individual law enforcement officers is a good place to get this information.

If you are involved in a shooting and it appears there may be an official inquiry, forget flashy, emotional phrases that uninformed people throw around, such as “shoot-to-kill,” “shoot-to-wound,” or “shoot-to” anything. Facts, not flash, will win the day. You didn’t shoot to do anything other than to stop the action and end the danger to yourself and your family. The old shoot-to-kill question is a trap that has been used on police officers in court; “if you shot to kill, why could you not shoot-to-wound?” Anybody familiar with defense shooting knows that close quarters shootings involve little more than shoving the gun at the target and firing. Likewise, nobody involved in a shooting has the luxury of time to ponder nonsense questions like the above.

What are the reasons I personally believe are justification for taking a human life?

Your own life and limb, and that of your family are givens--at least they should be. I doubt any reader of this blog has an issue with that. Deadly force to prevent theft--even though it may be legal--will likely present a moral dilemma. I would not kill to prevent the theft of my car stereo. In my mind, that is not a reasonable use of force. Somebody trying to steal supplies vital to my family’s survival is another issue. Now a simple theft has become a potential threat to my family, and deadly force becomes a reasonable option. Know your personal boundaries in the use of deadly force as well as you know the laws that govern its use.

What are my religious convictions or personal concerns about killing?

I can only speak to this issue as it relates to Christians, although any moral person must wrestle with these questions and come to their own conclusions. When the time comes to shoot, understand that:

1. Your target made the choice that has placed them in your gun sights.

They understood the dangers and ramifications of their scheme before they did it. They are expecting you‚Äë‚Äëtheir potential victim--to be too weak, frightened, or morally conflicted to resist with violence. Disappoint their expectations.

2. By killing them, you are not sending them to Hell.

They have made their life choices that have brought them to this moment. God is the judge--he will decide their eternal fate. You are simply deciding that your fate and the fate of your family are not to die at this person’s hand. Contrast your concern for this person with this biblical admonition to the head of the household: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (I Timothy 5:8). “Provide,” as it is used here, means more than just bringing home the bacon. It encompasses all facets of provision--food, shelter, and safety. It means literally, “to take thought for; to care for.” One of your Christian duties to your family is security.

3. Killing is not always murder.

God of the Old Testament who issued the commandment “Thou shalt not murder” also instructed the Israelites to kill many times during their conquest of the Promise Land. Many righteous people of the Old Testament drew blood. As odd as this may sound, righteousness and killing are not mutually exclusive. And while one may choose to debate its meaning, I interpret Jesus’ instructions to the disciples in Luke 22 to sell their cloaks and purchase swords as divine justification for the deadly force option in self-defense.

4. Having to kill is a traumatic experience.

Should you have to make the choice to shoot, be prepared for the emotional turmoil that will inevitably follow. If it isn’t TEOTWAWKI, seek out counseling if necessary to work through the trauma. Whether it is TEOTWAWKI or not, remember that at the time you made your decision to shoot it was a clear-cut issue, and you acted decisively. Second-guessing yourself will only add to the turmoil. Reflect on the positives--you saved your life and the lives of your family or other innocents. Defense of the weak or defenseless is a noble thing. Don’t beat yourself up. By preparing for the worst ahead of time, you can find peace after making one of the hardest decisions a human being can be forced to make.

About the Author: Jeff R. has bachelor's degree in Pastoral Ministry, and has served as a youth pastor/associate pastor at churches in two states. He has also served for several years as a law enforcement officer and is now emplyoed by a major metropolitan police department in Texas.

Last night was the first episode of a survival reality show on The Discovery Channel, 'The Colony', It is a 10-week experiment illustrating how 10 people cope with life after a biological wipe-out. They started with the first six participants being sleep deprived for 30 hours, then "raiding" a department store for whatever they can find before engaging in an eight mile walk through the Los Angeles River [--now a concrete aqueduct, which is dry most of each year--] to find an abandoned factory marked "Sanctuary".

The show did illustrate how most of us who are unprepared will fail to secure needed materials, delegate responsibilities, and chose a defensible location. But the first episode did show how a bit of cleverness can go a long way at times.

I suggest all of those that can watch the show, do so. It may show us what not to do as well as give food for thought so far as our own survival plans. - Eric

JWR Replies: While the show probably has some redeeming value, I have a few concerns from the very outset. (But keep in mind that thusfar I've only seen some brief previews and clips):

1.) The show depicts a small number of people surviving in a relatively resource-rich environment, in a simulation of the aftermath of a devastating pandemic. This is something akin to the movie I Am Legend (a remake of the now very dated 1971 movie The Omega Man), or both incarnations of the BBC Survivors television series. While such a scenario might have a high quotient for drama, it is not a very likely disaster situation that we will face. In fact, the greatest likelihood will be just the opposite: a large number of people surviving in a resource-poor environment. It is the latter that typifies natural disasters. Is it realistic to think that in a grid-down disaster, that everyone will have the opportunity to cart home 18 photovoltaic panels? No way!

2.) The series puts a subtle stamp of approval on looting. They just give it more acceptable names, like "scavenging" and "foraging". This might be acceptable in a very low-likelihood mega-pandemic --something approaching an extinction level event. But is it is not acceptable in the far, far more likely situation where the majority of the population is intact, and title to deeded property is likewise intact. For the show's producers to depict the former, when the latter will actually be the case in 98%+ of real-world scenarios is collective brainwashing.

3.) The series will show a group of people in an essentially tactical situation, where their lives are frequently threatened by hostile outsiders. I will be surprised to see the key military principal of Unity of Command encouraged. As is typical for "reality" shows (such as Survivor), it is assumed that the members of the audience will develop "favorite" characters, because of similarities in background or temperament. Hence, the producers employ the artifices of equality of their initial tangible property, democracy, and communistically-shared property. They seem to have votes on everything. But in the real world, when disaster strikes and desperate people are seeking to to eat you, it is hardly the time to dawdle, debate, and take numerous votes on immediate courses of action. Rather, the odds are that in a real-world disaster situation that people will take refuge at either a private home, or in a public shelter. In a private home, it will probably be the land-owner that will call the shots, while at a public shelter, it will probably be a sworn law enforcement officer--most likely a sheriff--that will coordinate manning a defense.

4.) The show only depicts a 10 week time period. Hence the participants will be able to survive entirely off the largesse of the old world. But if the scenario were more realistic, they'd be part of a much larger population that would rapidly deplete the available food supplies. So it is likely that activities like gardening would begin with the first available growing season. (Of course, in southern California, the growing "season" is practically year-round. There, it is water availability that would be the key issue. In a grid-down collapse, sans electrically-pumped water, the region would rapidly revert to desert.)

I enjoyed the article about "Preparing for Joy". The Christmas after Hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola [Florida, in 2004] was depressing and sad. My family and street was in a gloomy state that almost nothing could get us out of.

About a week before Christmas I got off my butt and spent my last $40 on outside Christmas lights. It was kind of a funny sight, seeing the lights on the damaged house. But do you know what? The next day lights started popping up all down the street. People who never put lights up were putting them up.

Even though we did not have all the wrappings of Christmas that was one of my favorite Christmas celebrations. Everyone's heart was lifted with 40 bucks of lights. Best money I ever spent.
I'm going to order some [strings of] 12 volt lights and put in my survival kit and prepare for fun.
Thanks for all the great info! - Steven

Chris O. sent this article, that came from of all places, GQ magazine: Could You Survive Without Money? Meet the Guy Who Does. "In Utah, a modern-day caveman has lived for the better part of a decade on zero dollars a day. People used to think he was crazy."

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My Brother in Christ Bob G. this: Middle East atomic conflict would kill tens of millions: report

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Didn't Joe Biden ever take OPSEC 101? It 's only a "secret bunker", if you keep it a secret.

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The asking price of the North Idaho Turn Key Retreat (advertised on our spin-off SurvivalRealty,com site) has just been dropped 22% to just $299,995. That is a real bargain for a property in such a desirable region.

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In his 1987 movie Robocop, Paul Verhoven fairly accurately predicted a future where corporations would effectively own and operate Motor City: Detroit: The Post-Apocalyptic Future of American Cities?

"Windage and elevation, Mrs. Langdon. Windage and elevation..." - John Wayne as Col. John Henry Thomas, The Undefeated. Screenplay by James Lee Barrett. (The Other Ryan, over at TSLRF reminded me of this movie, which I had almost forgotten.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thanks to the efforts of my agent, both Ulysses Press and Penguin books have reached separate agreements to make audio books of my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" and my upcoming nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times." These will be produced by Brilliance Audio, the nation's largest audio book company. The CDs and downloadable MP3 files should be available sometime in 2010. I will post details as soon as they become available.

In other publishing news, Amazon.com now has the final cover illustration for my upcoming book "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It" on their web site. This 336-page non-fiction book is scheduled for release on September 29th. Be advised that Amazon is already taking pre-orders, but I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd wait to order until the "Book Bomb" Day, September 29th. By massing our orders on that day, I hope to make the book a best-seller, just as we did for "Patriots" , back in April. That drove the book up to #6 in Amazon's overall rankings, and attracted lots of media attention. That was also the impetus for the contract from Simon & Schuster for two "Patriots" sequels that will be released in 2010 and 2011. Many Thanks!

Dear JWR,
I read the EMP article by Andru and thought it very well done with one minor correction in the power generation area (worked in the nuclear power industry for 20 years before changing careers). The EMP E3 pulse is very dangerous to the transformers in the transmission and distribution system, and hydro-electric and nuclear will also be severely affected. Commercial generators of any output run at 8,000-10,000 volts which is fed immediately to step up transformers to feed the transmission system. The most common voltage for the transmission system is 250,000 to 500,000 volts (3 phase) which reduces amperage and therefore reduces line losses. The power goes from the power plant through the transmission system to one of the many interchange grids which direct and control where the power is going to. The power is bought and sold in commodity markets by these interchange systems. Even if you live next to a power plant its output will go through the transmission system first, and then to a series of step down transformers in the distribution system before finally being delivered to the customer. Much of the time my home power was not supplied by the power plant I lived next to and worked at.

The transformers are the weak link. A severe solar storm can induce currents that will destroy them (this has happened). Safety interlocks may not work as the pulse can increase current too fast for the breaker to trip before the contacts get welded shut or else it can cause winding damage before it trips. As Andru says the extent of the damage will be the problem. None of the high tension step up/step down transformers are made in the US anymore. And the lead times for their manufacture are measured in years. I expect in such a scenario desperate measures will be taken to produce transformers (or repair them – very difficult and not possible if the damage is severe enough).

If we suffer an EMP attack plan for the power being off for years. I would suspect that power recover would be prioritized in the major metropolitan areas as that is where most people and industry are. The rural areas will probably be the last to be worked. This is standard operating procedure (SOP) for power restoration, you do what brings the most people back online first. - James J.

Mr. Rawles,
Mention was made in your blog of an article entitled, "EMP 101 - A Basic Primer" concerning the results of an EMP attack on the United States. The article was written by William R. Forstchen, the author of the novel One Second After.

I followed the link and read the article. For the most part it was very informative, especially the part about all modern airliners being "fly by wire" and controlled by computers. From my aviation background I know that the control surfaces of most large aircraft today are simply too large to be moved around by the pilot's own strength, as they were in aircraft designs up to the 1950s. Still, it was a graphic reminder that most large aircraft today are completely dependent on their on-board computer systems to operate. There is no "manual backup", just another spare computer system that could possibly also be damaged in an EMP incident.

But there was one section of his article discussing advance preparations to mitigate the effect of an EMP blast that I did not understand. That was the paragraph:

"An off the shelf purchase of hand held two way radios by every local police, fire, sheriff, and emergency response department in the country would mean, that if then properly stored along with a large stock pile of batteries that within minutes after an attack, a nation wide network of communications would be back up and running. This can not be emphasized enough, that proper communications and what the military calls "command and control," will go a long step towards maintaining public order."

I'm not quite sure what Mr. Forstchen is referring to with the term, "off the shelf purchase of hand held two way radios"? If he is referring to the commonly available Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) walkie-talkies that use AA and AAA batteries, then he is not aware of their severe limitations. FRS radios only have 14 UHF channels and 0.5 watts of RF output power. The GMRS radios have 22 UHF channels and typically around 2 watts of RF output power.

Both radios operate on relatively low power and on UHF frequencies, a combination that will limit their effective range to a few miles typically. At best perhaps 10-miles with the higher powered 2-watt GMRS radio (don't believe the advertising hype on the package). The UHF frequencies do a better job of penetrating building walls, but they don't propagate as far as VHF signals. They provide "Line of Sight" operation - if you can see the other person in the distance, you should be able to reach them on the radio.

Based upon these obvious limitations, I don't understand where the author comes up with the statement that equipped with these consumer-grade walkie-talkies, "within minutes after an attack, a nation wide network of communications would be back up and running." With their short range and limited channels, it is impossible to create a "nationwide network of communications". When used from inside a vehicle, the range of the low power FRS radio can be measured in feet! Usually the range is only a few car lengths, which makes for limited convoy use. In addition, the limited number of available radio channels will ensure a pandemonium of signals and the resulting radio gridlock reminiscent of the peak of CB radio activity in the late 1970s. This is especially true when you realize that every man, woman, and child could potentially be attempting to communicate on these same channels with their personally owned FRS or GMRS radio. The public service functions will no longer be operating on radio frequencies reserved and licensed exclusively for their use.

If the author is referring to the purchase of additional two-way radios of the type already in use by police, fire, sheriff, and emergency response departments, then he is unaware of how they operate. Most "business band" or "professional" hand held radios have a RF output of 5-to7 watts. They are still limited in range by their inefficient "rubber duckie" flexible antenna, frequency band, and power output. The only reason they seem to operate so well over many miles of varied terrain is because of the supporting infrastructure, mainly the radio repeater system. The radio repeater extends the range of the low powered hand held radios by retransmitting their signal [typically] from a mountaintop repeater site. A network of repeater stations located on high terrain can vastly improve the coverage of a hand held radio, providing excellent range throughout a county or even an entire state depending on the size and extent of the repeater network.

Unfortunately, the weak link in all of the radio systems used by public service agencies is their radio repeater system. With all the repeater stations off the air due to EMP damage (or even a lightning strike) the entire radio network falls apart. Most public service radios are programmed to operate exclusively through the repeater system. If the repeater system is down, the radios no longer work. Sometimes a sheriff's department will have their radios programmed with a "car-to-car" channel, which is a simplex frequency where the radios transmit & receive on the same frequency (without the need for a repeater radio). But these "direct" channels are very few, and are often the only simplex channel available out of a radio system with five or more radio channels. To provide adequate coverage over a large city or county, all the normally used channels are duplex frequencies going through the radio repeater system. An additional limitation is that each public service function is limited to their specific allocated and assigned radio channels. The radios are pre-programmed by a radio technician at his shop. The radios are not field programmable by the user.

In addition to this vulnerability, professional two-way radios use rechargeable battery packs - usually Nickel-Cadmium or Nickel-Metal Hydride. The sealed battery packs are designed to work with a specific model of radio. The radios do not use AA, AAA, C, or D-cell batteries. So unless there is a back room filled with chargers and a person assigned to keep all the spare batteries charged up and rotated out of the charger at all times, there is no simple approach to having charged batteries ready to go to support a stash of spare radios. In fact, most public service agencies can barely afford the minimum number of portable radios needed to equip all their personnel. There is no budget for an additional stash of spare batteries and radios.

The only radio service I know of that has the flexibility to adapt in a "repeater down" situation is the Amateur Radio Service. Instead of specific frequencies or channels, "Ham" radio operators are allocated entire radio bands to operate on. The VHF and UHF radios used in the Amateur Radio Service can be user programmed to operate on any desired frequency within a radio band, and all will switch to simplex operation at the press of a button. Manufacturers of ham radio equipment often offer an optional alkaline battery case for use with their hand held radio models. While looking like the typical Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) battery pack from the outside, these battery cases can be opened up and AA batteries inserted into the slots. The battery case is then attached to the radio the same way as the regular NiCd battery packs do. This allows the ham radio operator to stockpile a stash of spare AA batteries for use during an extended power outage that prevents the usual recharging of the NiCd or Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery packs.

So, unless you are a ham radio operator, expect a long delay before normal radio communications are restored. Due to the limitations and vulnerabilities of public service two-way radio networks, reestablishing a nationwide network of radio communications is going to take time. Sincerely, - Bruce C.

Andru’s outlook about EMP is in part misleading. The main item that Andru got correct is that an EMP attack will be more devastating that any other attack on America. I am an engineer and have read the Critical National Infrastructures (CNI) Report and this report is based on educated opinions without large scale testing since large scale testing has not been performed due to banning of nuclear testing. Localized EMP testing generally wipes out the electronics depending on how close the EMP generator is to the electronic equipment. It is all supposition as to the amount of damage that an EMP attack will create but it is know from a nuclear weapon test in 1962 that was 800 miles from Hawaii and the EMP created damage to Hawaii even with the minor amount of [microcircuit] electronics existing at that time. Think what the damage would happen in our electronics world of today.

Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse by Jerry Emanuelson: "Although nuclear EMP was known since the earliest days of nuclear weapons testing, the magnitude of the effects of nuclear EMP were not known until a 1962 test of a thermonuclear weapon in space called the Starfish Prime test. The Starfish Prime test knocked out some of the electrical and electronic components in Hawaii, more than 800 miles away.

When the 1.44 megaton W49 thermonuclear warhead detonated at an altitude of 248.5 miles (399 km), it made no sound. There was a very brief and very bright white flash in the sky that witnesses described as being like a huge flashbulb going off in the sky. The flash could be easily seen even through the overcast sky at Kwajalein Island, about 2,000 km. to the west-southwest.

In a phenomenon unrelated to the EMP, the radiation cloud from the Starfish Prime test subsequently destroyed at least five United States satellites and one Soviet satellite. The most well-known of the satellites was Telstar I, the world's first active communications satellite. Telstar I was launched the day after the Starfish Prime test, and it did make a dramatic demonstration of the value of active communication satellites with live trans-Atlantic television broadcasts before it orbited through radiation produced by Starfish Prime (and other subsequent nuclear tests in space). Telstar I was damaged by the radiation cloud, and failed completely a few months later.

EMP is a potentially massive, severe problem that can essentially devastate our nation. America as we know it can not survive even a moderate EMP attack. Society will collapse.

The EMP pulse flows through the air at the speed of light until it hits antennas, power lines, cabling, etc. then the pulse flows through this cabling at the speed of light into the electronic equipment and the electronics fail.

[Here is a roughly analogous event that is illustrative:] Our television cable system was struck by lighting and all electronics that were on and all electronics that were off and that were connected to the TV cable were fried. Similarly, EMP will fry any unprotected electronics. The only way to protect your electronics is to have the equipment inside an adequately grounded Faraday cage (metal box) that does not have power or cabling running into it. Your electronics that are not in use should be stored in a grounded Faraday cage everyday.

Even if repair parts for your electronics were available, how would you obtain the repair parts since there will be no mail or transportation services. If you have an auto that still runs after and EMP attack, the last thing that you will wish to do is take your vehicle out and show everyone that you have an operating vehicle.

We are acquiring extra [CPU] "brains" for our diesels and SUVs. We also are acquiring carbureted vehicles.

Even if an EMP strike only caused the death of 10% or our population (30 million citizens) just how do you survive this as a nation? Prepare for EMP and pray that it does not happen.

Severity of potential failures: From least to greatest [Some causative details and conjecture deleted by JWR, for brevity]

1. Swine Flu – World Wide – Population loss 1 to 10% – could trigger Item Number 3.

2. Civil War – America – Population loss of up to 40% – could trigger Item Number 3.

3. Financial Collapse – World Wide – Population loss up to 40%. Loss of 50+ years of progress. Will probably lead to nuclear war or EMP strike. No economy remains.

4. EMP Attack – America – Population loss of up to 80% - No economy remains.

5. Nuclear War – World Wide – Population loss up to 60%. No economy remains.

Regards, - TD

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I have been following several good reader contributions including “Bug Out At the Last Minute” arguments versus those who consider “Early Relocation” and most recently “A Multiple Family Retreat—Lessons Learned the Hard Way” in regards to the most expeditious and efficient way to set up a self-sufficient retreat. While I understand that some folks are just simply unable to make a full time commitment in setting up a retreat, I also know that there are many—while there are still the comforts of life available (television, readily available food and gasoline)—that are unwilling to make the sacrifice necessary to prepare for any pending manmade or natural disaster(this include members of my extended family who are living what they consider the “good life” but I am sure will be on our doorstep WTSHTF) From my family’s experience, if one is not practicing what they preach…i.e. actually learning by trial and error and doing what one plans to do when the time come, then no matter how much one has prepared—stocking food supplies, buying “Seeds in a Can”, or planning to bug out with everything but the kitchen sink—then there will most certainly be a very steep learning curve to be had. Believe me, my husband and I have made many mistakes, but because we are also willing to sacrifice, after five years have reached the level of preparedness WTSHTF! In fact, it is best to get to a prepared lifestyle so WTSHTF, such events are just a mere bump in the road for your family.

With my parents we purchased 110 acres of fertile land, with two running streams, a spring, and two ponds 100 miles away from the nearest “Metro Mess”. There are several vibrant and viable little towns within driving or even walking distance for that matter. These towns are very close knit and some would call them “clannish” because everyone seems to be related to everyone else. We bought the land 10 years ago, but starting living on it full time 5 years ago.

Most people would think this is the perfect setup. We think it is, however, please allow me the opportunity to expand on what I mean “Practicing what you preach” because our journey to where we are today did not come by just planning, but by doing.

1. The Land - Pros: Good land, sandy loam, available water. Cons: Just as the veggies like the soil, so do the weeds! If we do not pull weeds everyday, they seem to come back double within the week. Additionally, despite all the attractive pictures on the veggie packets and promises that they will grow, I have learned what will grow in my particular location and what will not grow. Although we live in zone 7, in my particular location it is not uncommon to have a late hard killing freeze the end of April. I still have fruit trees, but lost all of the fruit this year. I also know what types of vegetables will grow and which ones will not. This was not learned by planning to do it in the future when it is necessary, but over a trial and error five-year period. Is this a process that one wants to learn when one really needs it, or instead by practicing what you intend to do, so that you are up to speed when the time comes as disaster strikes? It means having on hand all the tools and supplies needed, and this was only learned by doing before hand.

2. The Livestock - Pros: A ready food source or beasts of burden. Cons: They are reliant on you for their well being. Chickens get eaten by varmints or neighbors dogs if one is not careful, animals need daily care—whether from you, or someone else if you are away for a time—they get sick and hurt, get into a neighbor’s pasture, etc. If you plan to eat chickens for example, then you must learn how to kill them and dress them properly. Believe me, all these things are not something one needs to learn when it is truly necessary, but is only learned by doing before hand.

3. The Farmstead and accompanying equipment—Pros: This goes without saying. Cons: If one is not a handyman, or DIY, then learn anyway you can! Metal roofs blow off, water well pumps stop working, trees fall on things that they are not supposed to, wild fires and floods, etc. It is just not a matter of “Calling someone” to fix these things because out in rural areas, it is assumed that everyone knows how to take care of these things. One can only know what tools they will need for their particular situation by practicing and experimenting—remember an electric dehydrator for preserving food, or a wide screen tv will not be useful when there is no electricity. Our family got rid of cable/satellite tv (no time to watch it other than a rental movie every once in a while) but, we still have satellite Internet service—the best source for alternative news like SurvivalBlog. I am learning to can with a pressure cooker and preserve food that we grow. All these things are learned by doing.

4. The Job—My husband and I both had jobs in the city when we bought our land. Before we moved from the Metro Mess, we scaled back and paid off as much debt as possible, and saved as much as possible. When we finally moved to our land we commuted to our jobs for three years, 1,000 miles a week. That meant going to bed promptly at 9 p.m. in order to get up at 3:30 to feed the animals and be on the road by 5 a.m. for our 200 mile round-trip trek. My husband retired to work on the farm full time, and as soon as I was able, I found a teaching job in one of the small towns. I taught for two years in this position, but now our homestead is able to generate enough income, plus what we have saved, for me to resign my teaching position. Is this difficult to do? Yes, it takes sacrifice and ignoring the naysayers who may think that you are a little crazy. But again, sacrifice is only gained by doing.

5. The Local People—The only way to get to know the locals is by living amongst them. I do not mean this in a negative way by any means. I have heard many other new homesteaders complain that the locals are tough nuts to crack, and in our situation, everyone is related to everyone else, so of course there is some suspicion to any newcomer. However, the only way that you can become a successful member of a community is by doing and being there. Of course expect hostility WTSHTF and you just “show up” We became part of the community by worshiping at the local church, teaching Sunday school, joining civil organizations, enrolling our children in the schools, etc. When a church member broke his back in a fall, we were there helping his wife with the farm chores. When a massive wild fire rolled through the area this spring, we were there helping evacuate horses. Of course they will talk about you…this is just a fact of life in a small town…however, the church was full when my brother—who nobody knew because he lived out of state—died and was buried in the church cemetery…all of our friends who had become our family were there for US. This did not happen overnight, but by the nurturing relationships and sacrifice…turn off the boob tube and get to know your neighbors. Also, it is through the locals that we know how to butcher and garden, as well as get things like milk and grains. I can also defend myself and our property because a retired police officer gave us the proper training. We have a pretty good barter system going, and again, this did not happen by planning, but by doing.

Now, as I stated earlier, I know that there are many people out there that do not have a choice, and are doing the best that they can to prepare and I pray for you. However, I also know that there are just as many people who are unwilling to work hard and sacrifice so when the time comes, they will be scrambling to get themselves in a better plan, and with possible dire results. Please, if at all possible, try to get to your ultimate retreat before you really need it. Learn not by planning, but by doing and Practicing What You Preach! God Bless, - SHM

I recently bookmarked the Total Investor blog. It is has become my favorite aggregation sites for economic and investing news. Yesterday, they featured a video clip: Marc Faber On CNBC: "Marc Faber is expecting an 'ultimate crisis' that will 'clean the system. 'If you pump money into the system and you create large fiscal deficits, you create volatility,' Faber said'"

Items from The Economatrix:

Making Sense of Second Quarter Earnings, So Far "As you can see, a consumer retrenchment is happening here. And in my opinion, that is an even bigger story than the individual earnings reports or big profits from Wall Street firms. It's going to dictate how quickly (or slowly) our economy turns around, and it has major implications for all the stocks in your portfolio."

Low-Priced Foreclosures Incite Bidding Wars

DC Doesn't Feel the Pinch of the Recession

Tight Budget? Send Kids to Camp Granny

Bernanke Sees "Tentative Signs" Economy Is Stabilizing, Says Rates Will Stay Low Tentative, unsure; uncertain; not definite or positive; hesitant. Synonyms: doubtful, probationary, provisional .

CIT Expects $1.5 Billion Loss, May Seek Bankruptcy if Debt Swap Fails

Short-Term Municipal Debt Market is Showing Strains, Fed Says

Fiscal Ruin of The Western World Beckons, a Bigger Financial Crisis Brewing
(John Mauldin)

Seven Myths About Gold Debunked, Bubble Bursting Warning Target $600?

Bob Chapman: Goldman Sachs Raking in Massive Profits, Market Review

Schoon: Goldman Sachs--A Vampire on the Jugular of America "The US claims the US Treasury still holds approximately 7,000-8,000 tons of gold but has not allowed a public audit of its reserves since 1954; and since 1999 the UK and Swiss have seen their gold reserves decimated as bankers freely sold their gold in order to cap the rise in the price of gold to keep the banker’s paper money scheme intact. This is perhaps the last opportunity for private investors to purchase gold when it is being diverted from public treasuries in order to keep gold prices artificially low. These publicly subsidized prices will not be available forever; for when the banker’s Ponzi-scheme of paper money collapses, gold will never again be this cheap."

Reader KAF wrote: "I was most interested and thankful for the recipes in the articles discussing making your own laundry detergent. I also could not find the ingredient Washing Soda. After some searching, I discovered that it is Sodium Carbonate (aka Soda Ash). Here is a bulk supplier for the powder. They also sell Borax (aka Sodium Borate). I've ordered some and I can't wait to try my hand at this lab experiment!

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Blacksheep sent this: Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle. OBTW, let me know if your Kindle edition of "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" ever disappears. (I'll take that as a hint that I've been declared an "un-person.")

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Mycroft mentioned that the show Survival School is available on Hulu.com. Here is a description: "Dehydration. Exhaustion. Starvation. Welcome to The Air Force S.E.R.E. program, one of the toughest training programs the U.S. military has to offer. Out of 500 potential applicants, only 47 Airmen actually get admitted to the program, and almost half of them won’t make the cut. These brave Airmen are about to embark on the toughest challenge they will ever face. They will learn some harsh lessons, push themselves to their limit and use their surroundings, all to help them be better Airmen and become masters of survival."

   o o o

Some good news: The chronic shortage of ammunition and full capacity magazines seems to be abating. I just noticed that 44Mag.com now has both CMI mil-spec M14 magazines and DPMS AR-10 magazines back in stock. I strongly recommend buying what you need for each of your guns (and planned gun purchases) as soon as supplies become available. Quality magazines are a great hedge on inflation.

"Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is the least to be cheap and is never free of cost." - Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A segment on the Today US network television show on Tuesday morning featured SurvivalBlog regular Kathy Harrison (the author of the excellent preparedness primer Just in Case), and briefly showed the SurvivalBlog web page. Another three seconds of fame. Huzzah!


Just one week left! Ready Made Resources is continuing their special 25% off sale on case lots of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, with free shipping to the Continental United States. Please don't miss out on this sale, as they don't happen very often. Place your order soon, since the sale ends next Wednesday.

I am sitting here and it is raining, and raining and raining and... Four inches so far, nobody can water like God can! After our last rain, everything in the garden had a tremendous burst of energy. The dreary, raining day for some folks though, is especially depressing. I enjoy those occasional days, when I feel like I can actually sit down at the computer without feeling guilty because there is so much to do outside that I really shouldn't be here.

It got me to thinking again about “what if?” How can we defeat those occasional bouts of dreariness, especially if and when TEOTWAWKI comes along? Making sure every ones attitudes stay uplifted might be one of those things that make living in a very, very hard time a little more bearable.

You’ve always heard the saying, “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Well, momma, start with yourself first. Make sure your priorities are straight, your head, your body (I’m especially in need of that), your spiritual life, and your relationships are in great shape. Remember, you and your family are a team. It is going to be you and them against the world. Ya’ll will possibly be the only ones you engage with for a while. Your relationships to each other is of vital importance. Pick your battles, which is something I have to be very conscious of. Make sure everyone in the family knows how vital their contribution is. Even if it is just the little ones trained well enough to know how to mind and do their chores. It will save a lot of added frustration especially if things are in really bad shape.

Make sure you have something that is special to you stored back--I know this may sound irrelevant and maybe even a little selfish, but just a small bottle of perfume, or a little lipstick, after you come in from a long, hot, sweaty day in the garden, to clean up and smell and look pretty, will give you (and him) a nice, uplifting feeling. You are the heart of the home, make it a place that gives your family a feeling of warmth and welcome when they are there. Grow a few hardy flowers that like hot weather and do well without much rain. We never know from year to year how much rain we will get. Cut them and put them on the table. Save your dish water to pour on them if the weather is dry. It will lift everyone's spirits to come to the table with a nice tablecloth and flowers. Your conversation makes a difference, too. Talk about memories, funny stories, you might even start writing them down so you won’t forget them when they happen. You will be the one who makes a vital difference in attitudes, and this is true even when things are normal. Make plans for birthdays or other special days. Birthday candles do not take up much space and cost very little , they are a very important part of birthdays, especially the little [single digit] ones. Folks like me have to have permission from the Fire Department! You know what is important to your family as far as holidays and families times. Prepare for those special times.

What about things to do [at quiet times]? My husband loves puzzles. I will have some puzzle books put back. My daughter is like me: she loves art. If you have a child who loves to draw, make sure you have some art supplies on hand. A reader? G.A. Henty is one great author, especially for your boys. Even my daughter loved his books, lots of history in great mysteries. Get online and find some of the older books or look at used bookstores, thrift shops, or your local library. They get rid of older books every once in a while, so be on the look out for those old classics. Don’t do the “fast food” type of books that you can read in 15 minutes. Give them something that takes a while and better yet, have daddy read to the family at night. Just a few chapters, discuss it and enjoy a peaceful evening.

Games are a great family time and some of them are just for fun, some help learning skills. Whatever your family enjoys and make sure you have a few for all ages. You need those old fashioned ones, because the computer may not be working. We have made our own games. We’ve dug some small holes in the ground and found some old washers and used them similarly to horseshoes. Since we home schooled, geography was taught by buying plastic posters of the continents. Each person would have a different place and we would ask about rivers, mountain ranges, countries, anything that was on the map could be formed into a question. Charades, an old game is great if you have visitors. Music is wonderful. Maybe you have a musician in your family. Sing together. It makes a light-hearted atmosphere and gets everyone away from all the talk about news and what is going on. There are web sites on line that can give you many more ideas, and now would be the time to prepare.

If you have folks who like to sew, knit, crochet, woodwork make sure they have a few items that could give them some time to be creative. All work and no play makes a really bad attitude. It is a good way to make gifts as holidays and birthdays come along. Make your own cards and stick one on a bed or on the mirror to tell your family how much you appreciate their hard work and their good attitude. A little praise goes a long way.

Preparing for fun and relaxation is as important as preparing for physical needs. Fear and bitterness are some of the worse life threatening things that will bring the whole household down. Having a lot of time on your hands, gives time to think about what I don’t have, or what I’m missing. Just adding some of the fun items will keep your family occupied in good, clean, happy, useful business.

Don’t forget rest~satisfying rest. When you are overworked, tired, hungry and worried your responses to folks can be well, not nice. That can lead to arguments and a lack of teamwork. Making sure everyone gets a restoring night's sleep will help get them ready for another day of taking care of business. Don’t forget to say your prayers. God has got you through another day.

Your relationship with God, knowing that you belong to Him and that your family does, is the first thing you need to have total faith in. Know that although you have prepared to the best of your abilities, that nothing happens to us that does not pass through God’s “hands” first. You must know that what He allows in our lives, He has either caused, or will use for our good and His Glory.

These are just a few ideas. There is so much information on the web now, that finding other ideas are only a mouse click away. Make a notebook and keep ideas in it. If you do not have the time right now to get things together, with the notebook you won’t forget about them. This might be good for the kids to do.

Depression is a killer, of the spirit and sometimes of lives. Just a little joy in hard times makes things go so much easier. When you can laugh during adversity, it might make a difference in getting your life back to normal. “A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine.” So remember while you’re storing up the beans, rice, tools and ammo, don’t forget to store up some joy. - Carla

Hello Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my previous e-mail. I must confess your original post on your blog and your reply left me feeling somewhat bothered and a little defensive. I have been mulling this over all day and deep down I know the reason why, it's because you are absolutely 100% right.

My wife who makes my world go round could not leave her family, my son who has special needs is receiving very specialist care locally, my community, friends and neighbours who have worked this land for generations rely on me for support and will come to rely on my specialist skills come TEOTWAWKI. This is the hand of cards I have been dealt, idealistic young fool I may be, but I cannot abandon my family, friends and country.

There may be a die-off, there may be wars, unspeakable hardships and suffering but I have to do the best I can for all my people and for the sake of our country,a country that may be currently on the skids but it is still a country that generations of our fathers, brothers and sons have fought and toiled for.

I could be just as easily shot and killed as an outsider in New Zealand, Belize, or Idaho come TEOTWAWKI, if I am going to meet my maker I would rather do it with the respect of myself and my loved ones, knowing that I did not abandon them in their hour of need.

Keep up the good work Mr. Rawles, I will continue to read and enjoy your blog. - Handyman

Having been an avid reader of your superb blog from the very beginning, I would like to thank you and all the contributors for an invaluable resource. It’s my computer’s homepage and is the first thing read every day.

Your forecast for the probable scenario post-TEOTWAWKI, or even mini-TEOTWAWKI seems pretty accurate, although the population figure you give [for England] is out-of-date. As of mid-2007 we were at almost 61,000,000 and counting. Soon to be standing room only, it seems. [JWR Adds: Just to clarify, the population of all of the UK was 61 million in 2007. Wikipedia says 51 million is the correct figure for just England.]

So I was right with the 51 million figure. The only good news is that if you consider Scotland, the population density for the entirety of the UK is much lower. Not that Scotland has the most agreeable climate. I'll update that letter accordingly.

Despite living in as near to the middle of nowhere as is possible in these crowded isles, my family and I have been planning our G.O.O.D. from the UK for some time. I’m happy to say that the new place [in the Mediterranean region] is now up and running and we are spending 50% of our time there, (soon to be 100%).

Some things we learned during our relocation exercise:

· It seems, if the television programmes on the subject are to be believed, that some people, after a two-week trip to some exotic location, decide on the spur of the moment to move there – and do just that. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that falls under the ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ caveat, aka the ‘P7’ rule. Please, please, please, think it through and do your research.

· Where ever you may roam, you take yourself there. Sit yourselves down and think deeply about what you want to do, where you want to go, what you want when you get there, and what you will need to make it happen. If you are running away from something, don’t be surprised if you find it at the end of your journey, sat waiting for you. Running towards something on the other hand..

· I cannot stress this enough: Do your homework. This applies if you are relocating to the next county or the other side of the world. Do not be seduced by picturesque views and/or sales talk. One of the nicest locations we saw on a previous move has appeared on national (UK) television many times; sadly, due to its propensity to flooding several times a year. Fortunately we had looked into it and bought higher ground, elsewhere. The Internet is your friend here, but does not remove the need for feet on the ground and genuine field research.

· Once you’ve identified your chosen location, do yet more research and find the right spot. I will not preach to the choir about the need for fertile soil, water, politics, etc, but would say, as we found to our cost, that sometimes people can be mistaken in their beliefs, if not downright economical with the truth. Check your information, then check it again. It cost us in the region of 5,000 Euros and counting for failing to check an item.

· Allow a realistic timescale for your move. Our (hopefully) ultimate G.O.O.D. exercise involved a change of country, for which we had allowed five years to achieve. It’s going on seven now and whilst installed, we are still commuting internationally and hoping not to get caught up in the Swine Flu snafu whilst in transit. It’s not all been bad news though, the delay has allowed time to improve language skills and inventory, and my good lady has developed a fearsomely accurate eye with her new Benelli. (Sadly, Messrs. Mossberg & Remington are hard to come by out at our location, but the Italian job is a nice, if expensive alternative). It is also pleasing to know that ownership of same does not make one automatically suspect in the eyes of the law or the local politically correct set (whom, I am glad to report, have not found their way here yet).

· Be aware, be very aware that even a short move can result in you finding yourself in a much different culture. This is as true of village/small-town life as it is if you change countries. Be prepared for things being done differently. Many countries prefer the mañana philosophy to the Protestant Work Ethic and this can be incredibly frustrating for some. I personally know of several wannabe ‘GOODers’ who have given up in sight of the finish line due to their inability or unwillingness to adapt to local conditions. If you cannot or will not adapt, then please, stay where you are. (I appreciate this sentiment doesn’t generally apply to ‘our type’ of folk, but if you prefer to be dreamer, save yourself a lot of hassle and money, just don’t..). Similarly, many of these out of the way locations reputedly use the ‘small brown envelope’ method of getting things done. I cannot of course possibly comment on this, but YMMV.

· Render unto Caesar.. This probably should go under the ‘culture’ paragraph, but I think it’s worthy of its own piece. You might not fully understand local bureaucracy – indeed if in a foreign country, with a different language, you probably never will, but it is no excuse in the eyes of the law. If nothing else, find out how, when and where to pay your taxes – and make sure you do. I am told the impound lot for our location is literally full to overflowing with foreign vehicles because owners neglected to pay local taxes on them. (And this is a small, rural location). Remember, the nail that stands out gets hammered down and one presumes under the current financial conditions that this can only get worse. It’s bad enough to lose your pick-up, but your home?

So far, the move has proven the right thing to do. We are totally off-grid and re-learning the joys of septics, generators and, until the well is bored, tanked water.

High on the list is a solar PV set up. We could have held off moving till this was installed, but decided that being there was the number one priority. Given the climate, electricity is not a priority here in the summer, except perhaps for ice and the winters are typically much milder than the UK, so we feel our genset will more than suffice for the time being.

Getting used to the new way of life is fun and challenging at the same time. One thing we have found, is that working full-time in the summer sun of the southern Mediterranean is very different than sitting on a sunbed sipping a beer! Perhaps the man who invented the siesta was not so crazy after all.

In conclusion, if you do decide to take the gap, be aware that it’s not something to do lightly, but it can be done and is more than worth the effort. - Michael

As the only military-experienced "beans, bullets and band aids"-type survivalist who shows up at the local weekly Peak Oil meetings, I can say there's a lot of Transition Town stuff going on. It spun-off from Post-Peak Oil groups.

I made the effort to avoid all the Transition Town stuff a long time ago. It mostly consists of retirement age hippies-turned-yuppies-turned-retirees, trying to be do-gooders. I'm just a fellow Army intel guy who's done his own extensive research with regards to Peak Oil (to include fusion between various sources, researchers, etc.), and have been prepping accordingly. After all, we did hit the global peak in liquid fuels extraction in June, 2008. Judging from the shape of this peak mathematically, in addition to the plateau we've been at (there have been a lot of head-fakes since 2005), along with the continuing depletion rates of the current 54 oil fields around the planet that are now in decline (source: TheOilDrum.com), this one looks for real (some are politically intentional slow-downs in production, I have to admit).

I've noticed that all the transition town types have no preps to speak of, and are clueless about preparedness in general, and "don't believe in survivalism".

"We're all going to sing kumbaya in our little communities (which only exist in their minds, BTW) and grow cute little green things, but we're not going to store anything" (one of them even had the audacity to ask me about getting a firearm. Again, I mainly hooked-up with Post-Peak Oil in order to learn how to grow food organically, and have learned a lot, and made some good friends). I have to admit though, that the movement has been growing in the US.

There's a certain British Transition Town expert who has been assisting Post-Peak Oil in this area, and I've asked him specifically, "Does Totnes actually feed itself?" Does Totnes generate its own electrical power?" I've never gotten a straight answer from him, just "well, kind of, sort of, not yet..."

Then what exactly is a Transition town? I'm going to be making sure my friends from Post-Peak Oil get your post.

Keep-up the good work. My wife was part of Book Bomb Day, back in April: One copy for me, one for her father: An old, Mel Tappan type, who had not even previously known about SurvivalBlog. - J.E.


Hello From Ireland,
My wife and I were delighted to see the article on England and your advise to leave for more lightly populated areas of the globe.

Things in England might be bad but here in Ireland things are worse. The economy is in tatters, taxes are being raised, people are advised to avoid getting pregnant because of swine flu. There are talks of keeping schools closed after the summer holidays to avoid the spread of the swine flu so that a vaccine program can be administered, even though we all know there isn't a vaccine available yet. The
unemployment rate is 12% and our brilliant Government inform us it will go to 20%.

The population density is 180/sq mile, knife and gun laws are unbelievable ( I have been waiting six months for a license for a .22 rifle even though I have no criminal record and served three years in the Reserve Defence Force performing security details several times at a major airport with a weapon loaded with live ammunition) sad to say it is possible to get a gun illegally within 24 hours. Pistols are now illegal, because the drug gangs were shooting each other with pistols, despite the fact that no one was ever killed with a legally held pistol. The gang crime here is at level comparable to what was seen in [cities in] the USA in the 1970s. Our Police are retiring at a rate of 45 per month (the maximum size of the force was 12,000) and because of the recession they are not being replaced with recruits, and best of all a Government report advises the closure of half of the country's Police Stations.

My American Wife and myself (Irish) are making plans to get the hell out of Dodge we are looking at Northern Scandinavia as the best option for a place to escape before it all goes very bad here. There are several other Irish people who think the same as ourselves and are making their own escape plans. We would welcome your comments on our choice of location. - INNUKSUK Survival, County Limerick, Ireland.

Although I very much agree that UK residents should, if possible, move overseas, I nonetheless believe that due to financial, residency requirements and other reasons, not everyone will be able to leave the UK to relocate in America, NZ or elsewhere. For those people, there remains the option of what I believe is one of the best retreat locations within the European Union: north of the Great Glen in Scotland. Specifically, I view the lower lying (farmable) terrain along the west coast and islands as being best suited to this purpose.

The benefits are, from my various sorties to study the region:

1. One of lowest population densities in western Europe.

2. Both distance (by UK standards!) and formidable mountainous barriers between the region and the large urban centers of Glasgow, Edinburgh and the east coast. Its isolation reduces its allure as a target for roaming urbanite gangs, a point even more applicable to the likes of [The Isle of] Skye which, during the days of the conflicts between the Lords of the Isles and the Stewarts, was so shielded by the Highlands wilderness that the king had to send his fleet from the east coast around the north of Scotland to attack them by sea. Even on the Great Britain mainland, the Knoydart region has no road access from the rest of Scotland; it can only be reached by 2 day hike or by sea. Something to bear in mind in a modern grid down scenario.

3. A largely conservative indigenous population, quietly distrustful of modern ways.

4. There are numerous small semi self-reliant communities dotted throughout the region, many of which are used to taking in idealist outsiders seeking refuge from the madding crowds.

5. Whereas the interior of the Highlands can have very severe winters with prolonged periods of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures, the lower portions of the west coast are relieved by mild Atlantic currents providing a lenient maritime microclimate.

6. A hunting and outdoors culture. There are so many red deer in the region now that some locals are calling for the wolf to be reintroduced to reduce their numbers.

On the down side:

1. Isolation comes at a price; in good weather, it can take the best part of two hours to get to Inverness or Fort William from the west coast or [from the Isle of] Skye. In winter, you may have to wait longer until a storm ends or a snow plow comes along. Bad news if you need urgent medical treatment which, for now, can be circumvented by emergency helicopter missions undertaken by the military.

2. Strict Reformed Christians, who are considerable in number in the region, frown upon many activities that outsiders take for granted; for instance, their observance of the Sunday Sabbath in some cases compels them to pull a chair from the table rather than push it away, as the former mode is seen as less like work than the latter. So digging your garden or hanging clothes on a line on a Sunday would be a good way to alienate them. On the other hand, their lax attitude towards alcohol consumption will surprise teetotaling Christians from outside.

3. There is an undercurrent of lingering resentment towards the English who are still blamed for the infamous Highland Clearances. There is perhaps an outside chance of the odd Englishman becoming the local "expendable gringo" come TEOTWAWKI.

4. The quality of the soil is generally not great, although it is nonetheless possible with assistance from compost to grow a considerable amount of vegetables. Sturdy stock fencing is a must, due to the deer menace. Also, I am told that eagles account for high losses in spring lambs.

5. Self sufficient farming comes under a lot of petty scrutiny from over eager bureaucrats; for instance, it is illegal to help someone else butcher livestock on their holding; you can only do it to your own cattle on your own land.

6. And of course, like the rest of the UK, gun ownership is insanely regulated.

7. Scottish law and conveyancing practices are alien to those in the rest of the UK. Also, property prices tend to be very high, as are property taxes. I know someone who left the Highland to live in France because he couldn't bear the property taxes.

8. Summertime sees the area swamped with hillwalkers and tourists from all over Europe, many of whom are drawn to the quaint coastal communities and who may note ongoing self-sufficiency preparations for later reference.

Overall then, it's very far from perfect but nevertheless presents perhaps an emergency, last minute kind of option for those who don't think they have the wherewithal to make a bigger jump.

Finally, [for an illustration of the high population density,] see the photos of Europe from space at night. Kind regards, - Jay W.


Mr. Rawles,
Greetings from England. Having read "Patriots" from cover to cover many times and long been a devotee of your blog I do regard you as being one of the foremost experts in the world of preparation for TEOTWAWKI situations. However, I do have some queries with some points on your recent article regarding a SHTF situation in England.

While I appreciate that for some people it is the best option to emigrate, what practical advice would you have for people who emigration would not be possible? We are part of a well armed (many shotguns, Deer stalking rifles, .22 LRs, crossbows, compound bows etc.) rural community, that even with our climate produces more food than we could ever eat, in a defendable location, many locals are ex-military and our population is sufficient that there could be workers and soldiers.

Regarding moving abroad, Is not one of the golden rules of survival not to become a refugee or an outsider? It can take a long time to fully integrate into a community and be accepted, I believe that the threat of TEOTWAWKI is upon us now and in many places we would be regarded as "outsiders" or "foreigners". Belize was one of the options you put forward as a possible place to emigrate to, having worked for 18 months all over Belize I know enough about the people, the crime level, the corruption and the various factions to know that maybe that is not the best idea in the world. In a SHTF scenario there is not enough British troops there to protect it's interests and Belize is quite low down on the British Governments list of priorities.

Your advice and thoughts would be appreciated. - Handyman

JWR Replies: Your town might be the exception to the rule. One key question: How many miles from a major city is your town, and is it on a major highway? Or is it "off the beaten track" , away from refugee lines of drift? That could make a crucial difference in whether or not your town would be overwhelmed by refugees in a societal collapse.

Another consideration is counting the roads into the town. If you are fortunate, the geography will be favorable, limiting the avenues of approach. But in open farming country, there are usually numerous access roads. In a worst case scenario, how many roadblocks would have to be manned? Think through the number of defenders that would be required to maintain 24/7/360 security.

I only mentioned "...or perhaps Belize" for folks that already have friends or relatives that live there, and that you preferably already speak Spanish. Granted, you'd be considered an outsider, but Belize still has a very class-conscious society. Because of this, land owners--regardless of their origin--are generally held in esteem. I'd be more worried about criminals crossing the porous border with Guatemala, than about your next door neighbors.

GG sent this article by Henry Blodget: Gary Shilling: Stock Market Will Crash as US Consumers Retrench

Reader HPD sent a link to a recent post by Mish Shedlock: 500,000 Will Exhaust Unemployment Benefits by September, 1.5 Million by Year-end

Desert T flagged this: As Boom Times Sour in Vegas, Upward Mobility Goes Bust

Summers urges Banks to Lend Mores, Says Recovery Pace 'in doubt.'

Americans Pay Back Debts Most Since '52 as Jobless Spur Savings

More bodies go unclaimed as families can't afford funeral costs. (First family pets, now family members)

DD Sent these three items:

Subprime brokers mutate into loan fixers

Tough Times for Dairymen

Why the economy won't recover soon

Items from The Economatrix:

USPS May be Unable to Make Payroll in October and Retiree Health Plan Costs, Union Says

White House Putting Off Release of Budget Update The 2009 Deficit is $2 Trillion--Four times that of 2008!

As Economy Bites, White House Delays Budget Review

Faber: Next Stimulus Will Be Worse

Imminent Erosion of US Dollar Seawall

Rogers: America Bordering on Communism "Let's be honest about what this is: an attempt to hide a record-breaking deficit"

Cost of Bailout to US: $24 Trillion Maximum exposure could be $80,000 for every American

Examples of How Tax Increases Could Hit the Rich

US Commerce Chief Worried About Firms' Liquidity "Could cause small, medium manufacturers to go out of business."

Economic Indicators Up More than Expected in June
"We're now getting data which points to stabilization," said Josh Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at research firm MFR Inc. "The overall signal they're sending is the slide in economic activity is poised to end. The jury is still very much out in terms of what happens after that."

United Airlines Set to Cause Financial Turbulence "Looks to raise ticket prices for thousands of fliers" and "stop taking credit cards for travel from certain travel agencies."

Garnet sent this: China dust cloud circled globe in 13 days. Garnet notes that this is something to keep in mind for a variety of emerging threats, including Ug99 wheat rust.

   o o o

I was pleased to see that one of my recent blog articles was re-posted by The Silver Bear Cafe: The Nascent Depression: Be Ready to Barter and Adopt the Rhodesian View

   o o o

Guns are consistently "the great equalizer". See these recent news articles: 82-year-old man kills invader and Child shoots intruder during home break-in, and Teen allegedly shoots and kills intruder.

   o o o s

Reader Bill S. wrote to say that he conquered his alcohol addiction after reading the book The Easy Way to Stop Drinking. JWR's comment: Do not consider yourself "prepared" for a disaster if you have an unresolved addiction to alcohol, smoking, drugs, or over-eating! Do what is necessary to beat those addictions, today! Start with concerted prayer, and get help.

"Never stand when you can kneel, never kneel when you can sit, and never sit when you can get down prone. Take your time, and make each shot count, son." - Donald Robert Rawles, (JWR's father), instruction on shooting positions, circa 1975

Tuesday, July 21, 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 topic I have paid close attention to for the past 10 years has been our nation’s risk to Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP).  There are a few points I would like to make that are often overlooked—mostly dealing with the magnitude of the threat.  I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I have consumed as much information as possible that doesn’t delve into the high-level physics—the kind of knowledge required to truly be an expert.  What may set me apart the most is the simple fact that I actually read the 181 page Critical National Infrastructures (CNI) Report released in April of 2008 and in my opinion, it has shed more light on the subject of EMP effects than any other research conducted since EMPs were first discovered more than 60 years ago.

Had this information been available a few years earlier to authors like William R. Forstchen in his novel One Second After would have likely painted a different picture of the effects of an EMP and how it would impact a society.  His lessons are still valid, but a little more accurate information can have a huge impact on our preparation decisions.

Anatomy of an EMP:
Among the most commonly listed elements that determine the magnitude of an EMP, one deserves special emphasis and that is altitude.  In most discussions, altitude is correctly identified as a significant factor in EMP effectiveness as a weapon but there are two distinct reasons why altitude is so important.  The first and most obvious is the LOS (line of sight) influence of electromagnetic pulse.  The higher you go, the greater distance the pulse can affect across the curved surface of the Earth.  However, the point that most people don’t understand is the impact the atmosphere has upon the strength of an EMP.  Logic would suggest that the closer you get to an EMP, the greater the impact upon sensitive electronic equipment.  This is not necessarily the case and this is why a high altitude detonation not only increases the range of the EMP, but actually increases the magnitude as well.

An EMP is actually created when gamma particles from a nuclear explosion interact with the earth’s atmosphere at a sufficient altitude to cause a uniform disturbance in the earth’s magnetic field.  It is the fluctuations of the earth’s magnetic field that causes the EMP and not the nuclear explosion itself.  If the detonation occurs within the earth atmosphere, the gamma particles are absorbed by the air before creating a significant enough fluctuation in the earth’s magnetic field. Generally speaking, a detonation within the earth’s atmosphere will not produce a significant EMP beyond the actual radius of the nuclear blast.  In other words, the radiation will kill you before the EMP fries your I-pod.

To be most effective, the detonation needs to be outside the earth’s atmosphere—even higher than the International Space Station and many satellites.  This allows the gamma rays to interact with the earth’s atmosphere (and magnetic field) over a broad area at roughly the exact same time. 

We could spend time discussing the three different types of EMPs generated by a nuclear detonation (E1, E2, & E3), but suffice it to say that E1 tends to quickly damage sensitive electronics, E2 is slower and not so much of a threat with modern fuses and surge protectors, and E3 is slow but massive and turns the earth’s magnetic field and any long continuous conductors (long-distance power lines) into a huge electrical generator—overpowering surge protection and destroying connected transformer equipment on either end of the line.  Individuals tend to be concerned with the E1 pulse and infrastructure professionals tend to be concerned with the E3 pulse.

Consumer Technology Risks:
Most people think that anything with a computer chip will be wiped out by an EMP attack.  The findings of the commission who produced the CNI Report actually prove otherwise.  While the most sensitive equipment almost always failed, the failure was sometimes resolved with a re-boot, or with the replacement of a few damaged parts.  Due to the unpredictability of the EMP effects, we can assume that many televisions and radios would still work and public broadcasting capabilities of one degree or another will likely be available—if not immediately, then shortly after an event for as long as power can be supplied for the broadcast.  This can also be attributed to the fact that the strength of the EMP will vary from one place to another.  For example, the further north you travel, the more intense the earth’s magnetic field and resulting EMP.  You could expect the impact felt in New York would be more intense than that of Atlanta.

According to the CNI Report, modern automobiles are not nearly as susceptible to EMP as previously thought.  It seems that while equipment and circuitry has become more sensitive, manufacturers have also beefed up the shielding on these components to reduce electromagnetic interference from non-EMP sources thus reducing susceptibility to an actual EMP.  According to the report, only 10% of the vehicles on the road will stop functioning even temporarily after an EMP and one third of all vehicles won’t even suffer any nuisance failures such as a blown fuse or damaged radio (pg. 115 of the report).  The risk here is still significant, but mostly overstated when compared to other risks.  For instance, we’ve all seen what one accident does to rush-hour traffic.  Now imagine 10% of the cars on the road shutting down at the same time—accidents would result and gridlock would be intense on the major highways—stranding even those with operable vehicles.  But if your car was parked at work at the time of an EMP, chances are you would be able to start your car and at least attempt to drive home.

What are the Real Risks:
To put it simply, there are really two big threats we face as a society when it comes to EMPs.  The first involves the entire electric grid as long-distance power lines convert the slower E3 pulse into extremely high-voltage power surges.  These surges subsequently blow out transformers at either end of the lines and render the grid virtually useless until these custom-designed transformers can be repaired or replaced.  Based upon the current rate of production for these transformers worldwide, it would take 20 years to replace all the high-capacity transformers in the US power grid (see report pg 49).  Now imagine the difficulties of trying to make these repairs in a society that has collapsed.

The other significant threat posed by EMP lies in a commonly used automated control system called supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).  In essence, SCADA systems are similar your typical computer except that they are designed for specific uses—such as monitoring and controlling our electric grid, telecommunications infrastructure, oil and gas transmission lines, and even our water treatment plants.  Under the testing conducted by the EMP Commission, every SCADA system failed to one degree or another (see report pg. 6).  While some failures might be as simple to fix as rebooting, others would permanently disable a particular control unit.  Taken together at the exact same time, this combination of minor and major failures becomes catastrophic to whatever infrastructure these SCADA units control.

The Reality of a Post-EMP Attack:
Obviously, the risks to our electrical and utility infrastructures are sufficient to categorize an EMP attack as TEOTWAWKI.  However, the picture painted by most EMP alarmists doesn’t do us any favors as we consider our own personal preparations.  I’m convinced that many preparations are either completely ignored, or resources are allocated in less-effective ways because we haven’t focused clearly on what a post-EMP society will look like. 

First of all, the lights will likely go out; and for most of the grid they will stay out for a long time.  However, most of the cars we drive will keep working with minor electrical problems.  Most gas-powered generators will start up, and as long as the back-up power supply holds out, we might even have land-line and perhaps even cell phone telecommunications.  If service stations have back-up power generation, then gas will still be pumping (plan on paying with cash though) until the tanks run dry.  A national priority will be getting the gasoline distribution lines back up and running and with back-up power at key points, this could be accomplished in a matter of weeks or months.  If we can get the gasoline flowing, then harvesting equipment will work, the food supply will begin flowing again, and crews will be able to repair the electrical grid. 

Don’t get me wrong, an EMP attack would be catastrophic and would probably be the worst attack ever to affect our nation.  Millions would die as a result, but I don’t expect it to be the end-game that some make it out to be. It should be entirely survivable for a well-informed and well-prepared groups and individuals.

Lessons for Preppers:
Preparing for an EMP can be overwhelming—especially when one fully grasps our reliance upon technology.  Few of us are in a position to buy and move to a resource-rich piece of farmland and then be able to plow, plant, and harvest a decent crop with nothing but 19th century farm implements.  The good news is that even after an EMP, society may remain intact—at least initially.  And just like we see in the novel Patriots, some areas of the country can be expected to escape societal collapse indefinitely.  For those of us who can’t relocate to a retreat property, the proper selection of our current residence can play a significant role in how we might fare after an EMP attack.  Here are some considerations:

  • Do you know where your power comes from?  How far does it travel before it gets to you?  Hydroelectric, nuclear, and wind -powered generators will likely be back online soon and have enough supplied fuel to run indefinitely.  If you live close enough to one of these, then less equipment needs to be repaired before getting your town or city back online.

  • Do you know where your water comes from?  How much treatment is required to make it suitable for human consumption?  Those living in mountainous areas will likely see minimal impact to their water supply after an EMP.  Fresh gravity-fed water usually requires less chemical treatment and no electrical pumps to fill water storage tanks.  Those living in flat areas and who rely upon treated river or ground water pumped into water towers will likely suffer the most from water shortages after an EMP.  Hygiene-related diseases will spread quickly; and if you also happen to live in a relatively dry climate, then dehydration deaths will soar as well.

  • Do you know where your gasoline comes from?  Do you live close to a refinery, or does your fuel come from a combination of pipelines and tanker trucks.  If you live close to a major gas pipeline terminal then your location will likely be better supplied than areas located off the main trunk lines.  Refining capacity will be limited and gasoline will be rationed, but expect those towns closest to the source to be in better shape than those further away and to be among the first areas where order is restored—if lost.

  • Do you know where your food comes from and could your area be food self-sufficient if needed? Those living on the fringes of America’s bread basket will be better off than those living in the large cities on the East Coast.  Your grocery store has about three days worth of food without an EMP and about three hours worth of food with an EMP.  Regional food distribution warehouses carry about 30 days worth of food—much of which is dependent upon refrigeration.  Do you know how close you live to one of these regional warehouses?  Living close to the regional food distribution centers could buy you and your town some time, but the best solution is to live close to a productive agricultural region—supplemented with your own stored food.  The apple you eat today could have been picked 3,000 miles away almost 8 months ago.  It has been stored in one of these warehouses in a carefully climate-controlled environment.  How will your location be affected by a lack of modern food distribution?

  • Do you know the kind of people who live in your area?  Not all demographics are created equal when it comes to EMPs.  Do you live in an area where people are looking for an excuse to riot or loot or do you find yourself among hardworking, religious people who tend to support each other?  Notice the different responses between a tornado hitting a small town in Oklahoma and a flooded neighborhood in New Orleans, or even something as inconsequential as a national basketball championship in Los Angeles?  Not all big cities are created equal and not all small towns are created equal either.  If there is a large number of welfare-dependent residents in rental housing nearby, I would seriously consider moving.  A demographic with a low-income, highly liberal population will pose different threats than a demographic with a high-income, conservative population after an EMP.  Populations who support a larger role of government in providing security and livelihood tend to react negatively when neither is provided on demand.  A good resource to analyze these risks on a state by state and county by county basis is the book Strategic Relocation by Joel Skousen.

When it’s all said and done, we need to accurately understand the threats we are preparing for in order to make wise decisions regarding our limited resources.  An EMP would be catastrophic for sure; but the reality of life “post-EMP” is likely to be much different than the most-common pictures being painted these days.  Do your own due diligence, research the risks and how they affect you specifically, and you will be much better off than just taking the arm-chair advice of even the loudest prognosticators—this author included.

I have been a follower of your blog for a couple of years now and find it to be the best source of self-sufficiency information on the Web. You and your readers have provided me with a wealth of information that would have otherwise taken a lifetime to research on my own. –and for that, I thank you and all those who took the time to contribute.

While the plethora of advice handed out on a daily basis is extremely helpful, the one thing that I have found to be sparse is the first hand accounts of failure. A wise mentor once told me that no one learns from “trial and right,” and he was correct, the best way to learn is by “trial and error.” Unfortunately, I have had my fill of error lately.

Thus, I thought I would share all the things that went wrong over the past year and a half as my family attempted to develop a retreat for a bug out location in the country (we live in the city) with two other families. I hope this helps others who may find themselves in a similar situation.

The main problems encountered:

1. Although the adults agreed to the general goal of developing a self-sufficient retreat and the various components that would be required to sufficiently make the property a true bug out location, each had different ideas on the sense of urgency, priorities, responsibilities, and methods of doing things. This resulted in a tremendous waste of time and resources; numerous projects started, but never finished, or simply not done well. Failures outnumbered successes 10:1.

2. The young adult children of one family did not contribute and were allowed to not contribute. When the parents were confronted, they reassured us, “we will talk to them.” The “talk” never happened. This led to a significant level of resentment by the children of the other two families.

3. Dogs of one family were poorly trained and supervised. The owners did nothing to remedy the problems encountered. These dogs dug up fresh plantings on several occasions and set us back an entire season. Much worse, when the gate to the chicken coup was not shut properly one day, the chickens got out and the dogs killed most of them just when they were beginning to lay well. This set us back eight months.

4. Two families did not live at the retreat full time and were only able to tend to the property and garden on weekends. We learned the hard way that there is simply not enough hours in a week to work full time, raise children, and tend to a second property on weekends. The result was severe burn out by those of us living in the city, and a one year backlog on projects for our city homes. Life doesn’t stop just because you decide to develop a retreat.

5. Only one family took firearms seriously, taking all of the advice one can read on your blog and not only taking professional training, but practicing on a regular basis to master each and every firearm by every member of the family. Another family bought a shotgun and a box of ammo, which was promptly parked in a closet, and the third family has yet to get around to it. The main issue here is that these latter two are not the folks I want watching my back in a SHTF scenario.

6. One family thought they could “buy survival.” When the going got tough, they would offer to pay for equipment and supplies instead of showing up and getting their hands dirty. This is also the family that sincerely believes that having all the stuff (solar oven, camp washer, propane stove, cases of Mountain House[long term storage food], Berkey water filter, etc.) means they are prepared. This resulted in resentment by the two families that did most of the hard labor.

7. Only one of the families actually accumulated two years worth of food & supplies (the agreed upon goal for each family), the other two families have six months or less. This was the last straw for me as it became apparent that the other families expected to survive off the one, if they ran out.

By now you can guess which of the families described is mine. After a year and a half of spending each and every weekend in the dirt, working from sun up to sun down, we just up and quit being part of the retreat a couple of weeks ago. No amount of discussion and compromise could rectify the problems we encountered, and I have no words for the extreme frustration we felt and still feel. It has been a real learning experience as these other families are not strangers; we have been close friends for over 20 years.

Our investment of sweat, time, and money yielded us with only the experience of our trials, and we are right back where we started from, living in the city with a very small garden, wondering what to do next.

In hindsight, we should have:

1. Developed a project plan that listed all of the projects, broken down by tasks, assigned priorities, and most importantly, had sufficient resources allocated to them.

2. Defined up front who does what, when & how, and who pays for what. It should also include consequences for failure to live up to expectations.

3. Agreed upon a code of conduct with everyone pledging to uphold it. Even to the point of having everyone sign a symbolic contract.

4. Had a formal schedule with built in breaks (rotating weekends off or something).

5. Had everyone on the same page as to the sense of urgency. Nothing gets done if everyone has different ideas of how important what you’re doing is.

Lastly, the most important lesson learned. Preparedness doesn’t come in a box. It comes from hard work, from getting your hands dirty, and teaching yourself new skills. There’s a lot of trial and error and the important thing is to not give up even when everyone around you is letting you down. Preparedness comes from time. Time learning and practicing. While this experience has been a complete failure, at least we learned what not to do as we plan out our next attempt.

Thank the Lord that my family still believes in me and what we need to do. Wish us luck. - KJ

F.G. forwarded this news story: Bank 'walkaways' from foreclosed homes are a growing, troubling trend. If foresaw buyers walking away from houses, but not banks!

A piece that I missed from earlier this month: Banking system like South Sea bubble, says senior Bank of England official

Reader MAM sent this fascinating piece from Columbia Journalism Review: Goldman Sachs to the Forefront. The plot thickens!

LJ on England spotted this: Deflation fears as the underlying rate of inflation reaches its lowest level since 1948

Items from The Economatrix:

Lawmakers Blast Paulson for His Response to Crisis

Philadelphia Suspends Payment of Contracts

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Fiscal Ruin of Western World Beckons

Ron Paul and Jim DeMint Take on the Fed

Four Wall Street Banks Reject California IOUs

Bank of America Earns $2.4 Billion in 2Q, Ahead of Estimates

General Electric Profits Drop 47% in 2Q

Unemployment Tops 10% in 15 States, DC

Many Predict US Financial Collapse in September
"What will this fall really bring? It is not too far away so we shall soon know. Unfortunately, it may make last fall look pretty tame. When the government answers economic distress by preparing for the worst, then the worst may very well be what happens."

John ("The Midwest Hiker") reminded me that The Discovery Channel will begin to air "The Colony" tonight (Tuesday, July 21) at 10 p.m. eastern time. John's comment: "As far as I can tell, is a show about an enclave of survivors rebuilding and struggling after a major TEOTWAWKI event; a plague of catastrophic proportions. I have some doubts about the technical accuracy of the show--the survivors, after all, are living in a 'compound' in L.A.--but even so, the show employs a talented cast of 'survivors,' everyone from a rocket scientist to an electrician. This should at least be worth the casual perusal of most SurvivalBlog readers." 

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F.G. flagged this: How Buck Knives Decided to Move Headquarters "In late 2004, C.J. Buck made one of his toughest calls as CEO of knife-maker Buck Knives. He decided to relocate the company from San Diego, California, where it had been headquartered for 62 years, to Post Falls, Idaho." BTW, they still offer their "forever" warranty.

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Schiff on BHO's Universal Health Care Plan: Prescription for Disaster

"You’ve got a fast car,
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision,
Leave tonight, Or live and die this way." - Tracy Chapman, from her song "Fast Car", 1991

Monday, July 20, 2009

One of my readers sent me this news item from southwestern England: Announcing the Release of ‘Can Totnes and District Feed Itself?. That got me thinking. Perhaps they can feed themselves. But if things fall apart, how can they feed the Golden Horde from Bristol, Bournemouth, Plymouth, Poole, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Bath, Exeter, Swindon, Torbay, and the other cities of southern England? And let's not forget greater London. Most of those city dwellers will want to head for "the countryside", but how many urban refugees can the small towns absorb?

Parenthetically, I'll mention that the Rawles family name originated from southwest England, not too far from Totnes. (Well, actually a bit farther west, in eastern Cornwall.) My progenitor left England around 1700, in part because he considered it "crowded." That was when the nation's population was under 6 million people. It is now more than 51 million. (To give American readers a sense of scale: That is roughly the combined population of California and New York, but all shoehorned into an area the size of the state of Alabama. Yikes! That does not provide a great prospect for self-sufficiency--especially if sans grid power. I wonder what my gr.gr.gr.gr.gr.grandfather John William Rawles would have thought about the modern-day self-sufficiency conjecture in Devonshire? He'd probably advise being on a tall ship on the next tide.

There are several thousand SurvivalBlog readers in England. My advice for any of you that are genuinely concerned about preparedness and self-sufficiency: Take the Gap. As I've just illustrated, the demographics are against you. The climate is also against you. (It is a cold, wet climate.) The gun and knife laws are increasingly against you. So face it: Your chances of surviving a grid-down collapse are quite slim in England. If anything, the nation is a prime candidate for a tremendous die-off, possibly to pre-1700 level population levels. (That would be a self-sufficient population level!)

Even if you live way out near the Brecon Beacons or in the Yorkshire Dales and have James Herriott's family for your next door neighbors, there just isn't enough "countryside" to go around. In a true "worst case", every town and village will get mobbed by the yobs. My advice is straightforward and perhaps a bit blunt: You should emigrate to a lightly-populated corner of the United States, New Zealand, or perhaps Belize, as soon as possible. By doing so, you'll dramatically increase your family's chances of survival, and you'll also enjoy greater personal liberty.

The Peak Oil crowd--both in the US and in the UK--is well-intentioned, intelligent, and articulate. It is also sadly predominated by folks that are hopelessly naive. It is all well and good to talk about farmer's markets, sustainable agriculture, green technology, and kumbaya. But we live in the real world, where if the lights go out, it won't take too long for people to get hungry and start hunting two-legged big game. And in England, where there are few guns, and the few there are predominantly owned illegally by gangsters rather han legally owned by the good folk. So the self-defense equation will come down to nothing but brute force. Take my advice and take the gap!

Mr. Rawles,
Within our Christian survivalist group in Washington State, we use your novel Patriots, as a primer for friends. Keep up the great job you do.

Please consider the following statement with your readers. I believe that an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack by satellite can happen to the U.S. without any notice at all, and many nations already have the satellites in order to produce the end result. This is not meant to scare, but just an observation on how our great country can be taken back to the 1800s technology and a Third World country economic level, in a microsecond. Please consider my train of thought on this line of reasoning which I send you. I think you "have" to agree that this method is so, so simple.

Can the U.S. be hit without any notice whatsoever by an EMP attack? Yes, and the answer is in the line of thinking to follow. Before you can read this reasoning statement post to it's conclusion, we could be back to the 1800s in technology. And by the Congressional report of 2008, 90% of Americans could be dead in 12 months [following a nationwide EMP attack.]

I just didn't realize how many satellites were orbiting the earth at 200 miles up and from so many different nations until today.

Another question to ask oneself: Does another country hate the U.S. to the extent to want to destroy us? Yes, several nations.

Can EMP be delivered by [a nuclear weapon onboard] an already existing and orbiting satellite to devastate our economy? The answer is yes. We’re on borrowed time, preppers.

For a comprehensive assessment of likely damages to electronics equipment and electrical infrastructure, see the 2008 Critical National Infrastructures Report written by the EMP Commission of the Federal government.

A cataclysmic attack throws the United States back to the dark ages, with no electricity, no communication or transportation networks, and no medicines. The most vulnerable members of society—the very young and the very old—begin to die off first, but soon hundreds of thousands of people, and then millions of people, begin dying. Rogue bands of lawless predators, living by rule of force rather than by rule of law, prey on weakened communities. The government, crippled, can’t come to anyone’s rescue. And all it takes is a single bomb detonated high above the atmosphere, two hundred miles above the continental United States.

At first thought, it might seem far-fetched to imagine a single bomb wiping out the entire country. But it wouldn’t be the power of the explosion, per se, that would cause the problem. Instead, the real problem would be the EMP generated by the explosion. Traveling at the speed of light, the EMP would act like an enormous ripple in the earth’s electromagnetic field. As that ripple hits electrical systems, it would get coupled and be way beyond anything hat a typical circuit breaker could handle. William R. Forstchen, the author of the popular novel One Second After in an article titled "EMP 101" A Basic Primer & Suggestions for Preparedness writes of high altitude EMP: “This energy surge will destroy all delicate electronics in your home, even as it destroys all the major components all the way back to the power company’s generators and the phone company’s main relays,” Forstchen writes. “In far less than a millisecond, the entire power grid of the United States, and all that it supports will be destroyed.” And if the power grid goes, then everything goes.

In July 1962, a 1.44 megaton United States nuclear test in space, 400 km (250 miles) above the Pacific Ocean, called the Starfish Prime test, demonstrated to nuclear scientists that the magnitude and effects of a high altitude nuclear explosion were much larger than had been previously calculated. Starfish Prime also made those effects known to the public by causing electrical damage in Hawaii, more than 800 miles away from the detonation point, knocking out about 300 streetlights, setting off numerous burglar alarms and damaging a telephone company microwave link

According to Wikipedia, there are several major factors control the effectiveness of a nuclear EMP weapon. These are:
1. The altitude of the weapon when detonated;
2. The yield and construction details of the weapon;
3. The distance from the weapon when detonated;
4. Geographical depth or intervening geographical features;
5. The local strength of the Earth's magnetic field.

A Federation of American Scientists (FAS) article stated that an EMP "can easily span continent-sized areas, and this radiation can affect systems on land, sea, and air. A large device detonated at 400–500 km (250 to 312 miles) over Kansas would affect all of the continental U.S. The signal from such an event extends to the visual horizon as seen from the burst point.

Could a Satellite with a nuclear payload already be orbiting Earth? So let’s ask the question, do any satellites orbit at 200 miles above Earth and how many countries have satellites at that altitude? Look at North Korea and Iran, Why are they so interested in building small-scale nuclear missiles? Only one model fits. Forstchen says: ”It’s the fact that the U.S. is so vulnerable that our enemies are even contemplating such an attack." Iran is in the space race. North Korea is in the space race.

Earth is ensnared today in a thick spider web of satellite orbits. Satellites with different assignments fly at different orbital altitudes. Russian and American navigation satellites orbit from 100 to 300 miles altitude. Civilian photography satellites, such as the American Landsat and the French SPOT, orbit at altitudes ranging from 300 to 600 miles. American NOAA and Russian Meteor weather satellites are at these same altitudes.

Does this seem too difficult for other nations? No. Just load up your nuclear weapon payload, orbit it as long as desired, and then hit the button when the satellite is above Kansas.

If Osama bin Laden - or the dictators of North Korea or Iran - could destroy America as a twenty-first century society and superpower, would they be tempted to try? Given their track records and stated hostility to the United States, we have to operate on the assumption that they would. That assumption would be especially frightening if this destruction could be accomplished with a single attack involving just one high yield nuclear weapon, and if the nature of the attack would mean that its perpetrator might not be immediately or easily identified. Unfortunately, such a scenario is not far-fetched. Frank Gaffney, in an essay titled: "EMP: America's Achilles' Heel" wrote: "...a report issued last summer by a blue-ribbon, Congressionally-mandated commission, a single specialized nuclear weapon delivered to an altitude of a few hundred miles over the United States by a ballistic missile would be "capable of causing catastrophe for the nation." The source of such a cataclysm might be considered the ultimate "weapon of mass destruction" (WMD) - yet it is hardly ever mentioned in the litany of dangerous WMDs we face today."

JWR Replies: Iran and North Korea are currently developing fission bombs, not fusion (hydrogen) bombs. A large fission bomb would produce an order of magnitude less EMP than a typical fusion bomb. High Altitude (space-based) EMP with a hydrogen bomb is presently a capability of only a handful of nation states. China is the biggest threat, in my opinion. As for fusion bombs concealed inside satellites, that is conceivable, notwithstanding the Space-Based weapons treaty. (The US and the former Soviet Union were signatories, but China was not.)

In my opinion, of far greater concern is EMP from a nuclear bomb on-board an aircraft. Assuming detonation at a high altitude, detonated suicidally, inside the aircraft, rather than being dropped) that would provide a broad line of sight (LOS) for EMP to provide a "footprint" radius of perhaps more than 200 miles, and far beyond line of sight (BLOS) indirect EMP coupling (via power lines and telephone cables) to a much larger radius. I first discussed LOS calculation for EMP in SurvivalBlog back in October of 2005, and I wrote the following more detailed piece in April 2007. Since it is relevant, I'll post it here again:

The [LOS] answer is both easy and impossible to determine. Let me explain. First, the easy part. The basic line of sight (LOS) footprint range calculation is really simple. It is essentially the same as the calculation that is used to determine the maximum effective range for a VHF or UHF radio onboard an aircraft. Referring back to one of my unclassified notebooks from my Electronic Warfare (5M) course at Fort Huachuca, I find: Assuming level terrain, the maximum potential radius of LOS in nautical miles (nmi) = square root of the emitter's altitude (in feet) x 1.056. Hence, that would be 149.3 nmi at 20,000 feet above sea level (ASL), or 191.8 nmi at 33,000 feet ASL. (A typical jet or C-130's service ceiling.) SurvivalBlog reader "Flighter" mentioned: "...some of the larger business jets such as the Airbus ACJ, Gulfstream, Challenger, and Citation are certificated to fly at or above 41,000 feet. The Sino Swearingen SJ30, is perhaps the highest flyer with a certificated ceiling of 49,000 feet. Hypothetically, a dangerous parabolic flight profile could with supplemental oxygen for the flight crew and perhaps even supplemental JATO rockets might push apogee to 75,000 feet in a few aircraft models. (Hey, it would be a suicidal flight anyway.) That is probably the highest altitude that could be expected for a terrorist to touch off a nuke--at least in the near future. That would equate to a footprint with a 280 mile radius. Oh, yes, they might also get really creative and use an unmanned balloon. (The word's record for those was 51.82 km (170,000 feet / 32.2 miles) But that is highly unlikely. What is likely? A ground level detonation. The EMP footprint of fission bomb detonated near ground level on dead level ground (plains country) might be no more than a 45 mile radius.

Now on to the part that is impossible to predict: long range linear coupling.  Because telephone lines, power lines, and railroad tracks will act as giant antennas for EMP, the EMP waveforms will be coupled through those structures for many, many miles beyond line of sight (BLOS). Just how many miles BLOS is not yet known. I believe that if it were not for the advent of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963 (which banned atmospheric and space nuclear weapons tests), the DOD and AEC would have had the opportunity to conduct far more extensive tests to further characterize the panoply of potential EMP effects. But those test bans have kept us in the dark. In the absence of practical data, there is a lot guesswork, even among "applied physics" expert nuclear weapons physicists. We may not know the full extent of the EMP risk until after we see that bright flash on the horizon.

For planning purposes, you can probably safely assume that if you are living more than 280 miles from a major city, then your vehicle electronics will be safe from a terrorist  nuke's EMP. (Since you will be BLOS to the EMP footprint of a nuke that is set off below 75,000 feet ASL.) Your home electronics, however, anywhere in CONUS might be at risk due to long range linear coupling--that is if your house is on grid power. This, BTW, is one more good reason for you to set up your own off-grid self sufficient photovoltaic (PV) power system. The folks at Ready Made Resources. offer free consulting on PV system sizing, site selection, and design.

There may be other high altitude delivery methods that I haven't considered, that would provide a broader LOS. But at least the hydrogen bomb club appears fairly small, so there is less risk of widespread EMP . It is conceivable that a Russian fusion bomb might have fallen into terrorist hands during the chaotic 1990s, but if one had, then it probably would have been used by now. Thus, at present, the terrorist and rogue state threat is just for fission bombs, which makes the EMP threat much smaller and more localized.

I read the article regarding BlueRhino and Amerigas ("Companies are now shorting (cheating) on propane tank refills"). I guess one could argue both sides of the issue. My personal opinion is that while the practice is sleazy, there's nothing illegal going on, as the canisters are marked with the amount of propane they contain. It's not unlike potato chips or breakfast cereal sold "by weight not by volume". Manufacturers all over the place put their product in packaging far larger than the actual contents would require.

Like I said, it's sleazy, so except for one or two barbecue "emergencies" I haven't used an exchange service in years. I take my tanks down to a local "KOA" type campground and have them refilled there. For several dollars less than the grocery store exchange price I get my personally-owned tank completely refilled. Many U-Haul locations also refill propane tanks. Mine offers "big tank" pricing if you bring in multiple small (20 lb.) tanks, making it an even better deal than the campground.

My advice to anyone who uses 20 lb. propane tanks is this: Go back to BlueRhino or Amerigas one more time and cherry-pick a nice, new tank. The manufacture date is stamped on the handle/safety ring that surrounds the valve. Look for the latest date possible, since these 20 lb. tanks must be less than 12 years old to be refilled legally. There are lots of 10 year old tanks floating around and you don't want one of those. So get the newest, cleanest tank you can and then keep it - it's yours. Have it refilled at a campground or U-Haul and never get ripped off by an exchange outfit again. - Matt R.

Joan M. sent this: WHO says flu pandemic spreading too fast to count. "...the H1N1 flu pandemic has been the fastest-moving pandemic ever and that it is now pointless to ask countries to count every case."

Britain prepares for 65,000 deaths from swine flu

Swine Flu Threatens Muslim Hajj Season

Swine Flu to force 1 in 8 to take time off work sick

Swine flu sweeping world at 'unprecedented speed': WHO "In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks."

Swine Flu: Why You Should Still Be Worried

Experts: Swine Flu Is Waning, Will Return In The Fall

DD sent this article: 23 metro areas where the recession is finally coming in for a landing. It includes a fascinating animated state-by-state map showing waves of recession since 1994. Pay no attention to their conclusions about incipient recovery. They are dreaming! The current recession is not a typical dip in the business cycle. It was caused by a collapse of the global credit market. This will last a long time, and may very well become a full-blown depression.

Reader KAF flagged this: CIT collapse could ripple through retail industry. They are already begging for a Federal bailout.

SurvivalBlog regular Karen H. sent us these links:

Obama's Stimulus Plan Slow to Trickle Through Economy "For the moment, the initial measure has shown little impact. The net worth of households has fallen almost 22 percent, by almost $14 trillion, since 2007, to the lowest level in five years."

California's budget gap won't close for long. "It will be horrible next year," said economist Steve Levy of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy.

GG spotted this Tass news agency article: Russia’s GDP reduces by over 10% in 1st half 2009

The BATFE apparently can't understand the plain meaning of the 10th Amendment. Without citing any genuine justification, the ATF is dictating to manufacturers and dealers to ignore the newly-enacted state law. But in actuality, they should ignore the ATF. Federal jurisdiction over FFL-licensed manufacture and sale of firearms is based on the which established Federal jurisdiction over interstate commerce. If a gun doesn't cross a state line then that is intrastate commerce, and hence outside of Federal jurisdiction. The ATF director needs to read the Tenth Amendment, and the precedent-setting Lopez decision, and take a chill pill. No nexus means no jurisdiction. American gun owners: Tell the Feds to take a hike!

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From Karen H.: Ahmadinejad: Iran will "bring down" Western foes

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Cheryl sent this one: Potato fungus update. (Cheryl says: "I'm having a similar problem with my tomatoes as are some surrounding neighbors.")

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Reader MK sent us a link to an article about onPoint Tactical's training: Survival School: Why more Americans are learning to pick locks, bust out of handcuffs, and avoid surveillance

News from Nanny State Britannia: Kent Police clamp down on tall photographers and UK Police Raid Party After Seeing "All-Night" Tag On Facebook (Thanks to Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) and Andrew D., respectively, for hose two links.)

"You can say ‘stop’ or ‘alto’ or use any other word you think will work, but I’ve found that a large bore muzzle pointed at someone’s head is pretty much the universal language." - Clint Smith, founder of Thunder Ranch

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A recent news headline in the English newspaper The Independent caught my eye: Paulson reveals US concerns of breakdown in law and order. I only rarely post entire newspaper articles. But this article is particularly significant to the SurvivalBlog readership, and since it is brief, I'm posting it in full:

The Bush administration and Congress discussed the possibility of a breakdown in law and order and the logistics of feeding US citizens if commerce and banking collapsed as a result of last autumn's financial panic, it was disclosed yesterday.

Making his first appearance on Capitol Hill since leaving office, the former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson said it was important at the time not to reveal the extent of officials' concerns, for fear it would "terrify the American people and lead to an even bigger problem".

Mr. Paulson testified to the House Oversight Committee on the Bush administration's unpopular $700bn (£426bn) bailout of Wall Street, which was triggered by the failure of Lehman Brothers last September. In the days that followed, a run on some of the safest investment vehicles in the financial markets threatened to make it impossible for people to access their savings.

Paul Kanjorski, a Pennsylvania Democrat, asked Mr. Paulson to reveal details of officials' concerns, which were relayed to Congress in hasty conference calls last year. The calls included discussion of law and order and whether it would be possible to feed the American people, and for how long, according to Mr. Kanjorski.

"In a world where information can flow, money can move with the speed of light electronically, I looked at the ripple effect, and looked at when a financial system fails, a whole country's economic system can fail," Mr. Paulson said. "I believe we could have gone back to the sorts of situations we saw in the Depression. I try not to use hyperbole. It's impossible to prove now since it didn't happen."

The Oversight committee is investigating the takeover of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, a deal forged in the desperate weekend that Lehman Brothers failed, and which later required government support because of Merrill's spiraling losses.

Mr. Paulson defended putting pressure on Bank of America when it had last-minute doubts about the deal in December. Not to have done so could have rekindled the "financial havoc" the bailout had calmed.

(Special thanks to the publishers of The Independent.)

Hmm... This is certainly food for thought and grounds for further research. It notable to see the difference between public statements and what actually goes on behind closed doors. Compare the foregoing testimony with these excerpts from Paulson's widely-circulated press release on October 14, 2008:

"America is a strong nation. We are a confident and optimistic people. Our confidence is born out of our long history of meeting every challenge we face. Time and time again our nation has faced adversity and time and time again we have overcome it and risen to new heights. This time will be no different...

...President Bush has directed me to consider all necessary steps to restore confidence and stability to our financial markets and get credit flowing again. Ten days ago Congress gave important new tools to the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC to meet the challenges posed to our economy. My colleagues and I are working creatively and collaboratively to deploy these tools and direct our powers at this disruption to our economy.

Today we are taking decisive actions to protect the US economy. We regret having to take these actions. Today's actions are not what we ever wanted to do – but today's actions are what we must do to restore confidence to our financial system...

...While many banks have suffered significant losses during this period of market turmoil, many others have plenty of capital to get through this period, but are not positioned to lend as widely as is necessary to support our economy. Our goal is to see a wide array of healthy institutions sell preferred shares to the Treasury, and raise additional private capital, so that they can make more loans to businesses and consumers across the nation. At a time when events naturally make even the most daring investors more risk-averse, the needs of our economy require that our financial institutions not take this new capital to hoard it, but to deploy it...

...These three steps significantly strengthen financial institutions and improve their access to funding, enabling them to increase financing of the consumption and business investment that drive U.S. economic growth. Market participants here and around the world can take confidence from the powerful actions taken today and our broad commitment to the health of the global financial system.

We are acting with unprecedented speed taking unprecedented measures that we never thought would be necessary. But they are necessary to get our economy back on an even keel, and secure the confidence and future of our markets, our economy and the economic well-being of all Americans.

By December of 2008 Paulson was browbeating Bank of America's CEO Ken Lewis into a shotgun wedding with Merrill Lynch. Paulson now claims he did so, in part, because he was worried about a banking meltdown and the possibility of what we would call TEOTWAWKI. Perhaps he was reading too much SurvivalBlog, or someone gave him a copy of my novel and he was losing sleep over it.

What is to be learned from all this? Here is Rawles Axiom #1 on Political Awareness: Don't trust or even pay much attention to what public officials say. Instead, concentrate on what they do, and more importantly on the subsequent results and consequences of what they do. Words don't mean much to politicians. They all too frequently tailor their words to match their particular audience, with little regard to honesty or forthrightness.

If you think that I've over-reacted to the preceding cited quotes, take a moment to consider that this is the same Henry Paulson that had publicly declared just a few months before (on March 16, 2008): "I've got great confidence in our financial market, our financial institutions. Our markets are resilient and flexible. Our institutions, our investment banks are strong,"

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I love the Blog! Here is a tip for those readers who would like to save money and their backs by following Carla's soap recipe. Since I have a cat, I have been using the bargain basement cat litter that come in rectangular HDPE buckets. Rather than throw them out, why not save money by not buying 5 gallon buckets? Of course, one needs a cat owner who uses this product, but with the mess this economy is in, frugal relatives, friends and neighbors may have some. One could make up a smaller batch of her detergent, it would be easier to move around the laundry room, ( thus saving wear-and-tear on the back), they have re-sealable lids and carrying handles, and they are square! These are not safe for food storage, but I have used them for tool carrying, ammo storage (since the Federal government seems to be destroying surplus ammo cans), and other uses. And since square containers pack into trunks and the rear of Bug-Out Vehicles (BOVs) better than round containers, thus freeing up space, they may allow you to carry that little bit of extra gear when you need to Get Out of Dodge G.O.O.D. They also stack Vertically! This may sound like a trivial thing, but as a former U.S. Navy Submariner who served aboard two different Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) subs, I know the importance of using every square inch of space. And a penny saved is a silver dime bought! Hope this sparks other ideas for these containers among the readers. God's blessings on you and your House. - Bubblehead Les


Dear JWR:
I am a new reader to survival blog and glean new info daily. We are making preparations slowly to Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.), ASAP! Fortunately we do not have jobs to hold us down (husband is self employed and trying to start a web business) and I homeschool and raise our six kids. Unfortunately, the income is not steady and with 6 kids, we do not have as much money as we would like. But with God leading, anything is possible.

The reason for this letter is to add something to the very interesting article about the homemade laundry soap. I have been making our own soap for months now. But there is a way to make it in powder form if you prefer powder detergent:

1 bar Fels Naptha (or 2 bars of Ivory)
1 C Washing soda
1 C Borax

Grate the soap finely. You don't want big chunks. I use a hand grater, but I suppose you could use a food processor [that is designated for only non-food purposes]. This part takes a long time and is labor intensive.
Then add a cup each of the washing soda and borax. Mix well. I put it into a large plastic freezer bag for compact storage. Add 1 Tablespoon to each load, and get nice clean laundry.

A few things to be aware of: your soap won't suds up at all. That does not mean you have to add more soap. And clean clothes smell like nothing. You don't need added scent for clean clothes like most commercial laundry soaps. Also, if you want a softener, then add about a quarter cup of vinegar to the rinse. Your clothes won't smell like vinegar, but they will be nice and soft. You won't need a dryer sheet, either.

One last thing: Fels Naptha is a laundry bar. Meaning you can just rub the soap on a stain and watch it come out in the wash. I have tried it, and it does work. So buy an extra bar for stains instead of expensive pre-treaters like Oxy Clean. One bar will last a long time! - Anita

Reader Greg C. sent this: Larry Summers, White House Economic Advisor, cites Google search as progress. Greg's comment: "If this White House thinks that determining the fitness of the economy is as simple as looking at what people search for on Google, then we are in bigger trouble than we originally thought. I wonder if they are looking at how many people are searching for 'Economic Meltdown' or 'Revolution?'"

Thanks to Mark N. for this: The Next Global Financial Crisis: Public Debt. "The cloud of the global financial meltdown has not even cleared, yet another crisis of massive proportions looms on the horizon: global sovereign (public) debt."

Frequent content contributor "DD" sent these items:

Is Wal-Mart the new Target?

Desperation Marketing: Christmas in July at K-Mart and Sears

Recession hits Harley-Davidson, Marriott
(Harley's net income plunges 91%!)

Items from The Economatrix:

The Long-Term Budget Outlook

JPMorgan 2Q Profit Jumps 36%, Topping Forecasts. Cheryl's comment: "It takes money to make money, so they took our money and made their money." [Taxpayer money, that is.]

Where's The Outrage Over AIG's Latest Bonuses?

CIT Seeks Private Funds to Avoid Collapse

New Jobless Claims Down Sharply Last Week

F.G. alerted me to this article: Companies are now shorting (cheating) on propane tank refills.

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Linda P. pointed out a closeout sale on Bennington Flags (the official SurvivalBlog low-key meetup flag), at FlagGuys.com.

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Craig W. spotted this article from San Diego, California: They Carry Guns. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.

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A legislative alert from Gun Owners of America: A vote to protect your right to travel out-of-state with a firearm could come to a vote next week -- even as early as Monday (July 20th)! Senators John Thune and David Vitter are the sponsors of S. 845 -- a bill that will establish concealed carry reciprocity amongst the several states.This bill is being offered the bill as an
amendment (#1618) to the Department of Defense authorization bill (H.R. 2647). This provision will use the constitutional authority allowing Congress to enforce "full faith and credit"
across the country, so that each state respects the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" of every other state (Article IV). The benefit of the Thune/Vitter legislation is that --
unlike other, competing measures -- it would protect the right of any U.S. citizen to carry out of state (regardless of whether he possesses a permit), as long as he is authorized to carry in his home state. This is important because of states like Vermont and Alaska, where residents can carry concealed without prior approval or permission from the state... in other words, without a permit!
Please urge your Senators to vote yes on the Thune/Vitter concealed carry reciprocity amendment and no on any modifying amendments.

"Good luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Bad luck is when lack of preparation meets adversity." - Coach Darrel Royal

Saturday, July 18, 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.

What would make someone want to make their own laundry detergent? It is so convenient to go to the store and get a ready made, nicely package, conveniently mixed, nice smelling, make your clothes fresher and your life better if you use me, laundry detergent. My husband and I have always had a preparedness mentality-we live 10 miles from a grocery store and 20 miles from a Wal-Mart. You don't just run up the street to buy a roll of toilet paper. We prepared for Y2K and have always thought "what if." We don't worry, for we know God is in control and is truly the provider, but feel he leaves it up to us to do the leg work.

[Some deleted, for brevity]

Not only am I preparing for my family, but I have neighbors that will ultimately need some help, extended family members that are not in the position financially to be able to stock up and hopefully enough to barter if necessary. So as I buy, it is on my mind "How far will this go to feed possibly 10-to-15 people?" Soup ingredients, meat extenders, et cetera are some of the things that will help to feed a lot on a little. Not wasting the money we have and are trying to save up, making sure I spend wisely for the money is of utmost importance.

I started looking for ways to "substitute" my own homemade items for those that we normally buy. Homemade mixes for Bisquick, brownies, rice mixes, etc., anything that saves money is on my lists. One of the most expensive-even though I would lean to the least expensive side-was laundry detergent. It is an item where you are literally throwing your money down the drain. I began to look on the web for ways to make my own, and lo and behold I came across a lot of formulas. I started making my own and have passed the recipe to many friends. They can't thank me enough! It is as good and in my humble opinion, better than the most expensive store-bought laundry detergent. When you figure the costs savings, it is outstanding! Even if you are not "into" preparedness, it is just a great way to save money in these harder times. I find my ingredients at the local Kroger's [grocery] store and one of the items can be bought at Wal-Mart, but for the few cents savings, unless I am going there for many more items, the time factor and extra mileage, it is just not worth it. Trying to buy laundry detergent in bulk, the storage problem and costs factor, is really diminished by making your own. I have tweaked the use part of this recipe to suit me, but will give you the total information and then let each decide on their own.

Homemade Laundry Detergent -- Makes Enough for About 180 Loads

1 Bar - Fels Naptha soap ($1.29 for a 5-1/2 ounce bar)
1 cup - Washing soda $3.99 55 ounce box (do not confuse this with baking soda)
1/2 cup - Borax ($3.49 for a 76 ounce box on sale price, regular price is $3.99) This is the old 20 Mule Team brand, and this can be found at Wal-Mart.)
1 - 5 gal. HDPE plastic utility bucket with lid. These are often available free from bakeries, or approximately $4-tio $5 at [Sam's Club or] Wal-Mart, or your local paint store)

Grate the Fels Naptha soap into small pieces. You can chop it with a knife, cheese grater, or food processor. Heat four quarts of water in a large, heavy saucepan on top of stove and add soap, stirring constantly till melted. This will take a while depending on the size of your grated pieces. Meanwhile, fill the five gallon bucket half full with warm water. Add the 1 cup of washing soda and the 1/2 cup of Borax and stir well. When soap is melted pour into bucket, then continue to fill bucket with warm water until full. Stir well and let sit overnight until cool. This "concentrate" will thicken as it sits. Stir before using. Now, I use this concentrate straight out of the bucket and use 1/3 cup per large load. The original instructions said to save an old laundry detergent container, fill half full with concentrate then add water to top. Shake and use 5/8ths cup per large load. Repeat till your concentrate is gone. This will give you 10 gallons of laundry detergent. That just seemed more trouble than necessary. So I use the concentrate as-is. No need to have to make room for another container. You will have enough leftover soda and Borax to make approximately five more buckets of detergent. You will have to buy more soap. The costs for one 5-gallon bucket (not including the bucket) is approximately $2.40. If you compared that to the expensive brand of concentrate @ $20.00 per container, just think of the savings and that is if your store bought container makes 180 loads! Since I don't buy the twenty dollar Tide brand, I'm not sure if that is for 180 loads, so the savings could be a lot more. $14.40 for a total of six 5-gallon buckets compared to $120 for six containers of Tide 2X concentrate. In a small space, enough to hold 1 box of Borax, 1 box of washing soda and 6 bars of Fels Naptha you can have better cleaning power than six containers of store bought laundry detergent. This will also save more than $100!

I have a niece that uses Ivory bar soap, which is cheaper than the Fels Naptha and is totally pleased with her product. The Borax and washing soda have many other household uses also, as the detergent would not. Making my own has gotten me hooked on doing many other things for myself. Why pay someone to do the mixing? It would be nice to put the savings into a jar, but there are too many other things that we need to get ready for when TEOTWAWKI comes along. It is good to look at my pantry that God has provided and know that my family will not go hungry. We can stay clean, one of the most important factors in hard times, thanks to many of the good articles that you have on the blog.

I just read today about using a 5 gallon bucket and making a washing "machine." We have many things that we still need, but are working on acquiring and every time there is a new entry marked off the list, it gives us a sense of security knowing that is one thing we won't have to worry about. We have encouraged others that we know are capable to do likewise. Not necessarily because they believe [in disaster preparedness] as we do, but to just be good stewards of what the Lord has given us. Whether it is an ice storm, which we have made it through several times comfortably, or tornado damage and electricity out for 4-to-5 days, we can survive easily. I'm thankful for all you folks who are teaching me what to do and how to do it. Saving money in small ways makes it easier to acquire more of the needful things. - Carla

First, here's a link to an article on self defense considerations in Britain.

I prefer a variation on the pocket stick known as a koppo stick. A koppo stick is a pocket stick with a piece of cord that loops around the outside of the ring and middle fingers. This cord helps with stick retention and allows for open hand and gripping techniques.

I usually carry my koppo in my weak hand at the ready. This frees up my strong hand to draw my primary weapon and the cord retention system allows the weak hand to perform other tasks such as slide manipulation. Planned use of the stick is for primary weapon retention and to gain enough time/space to draw the primary weapon (if available and warranted).

Here is a page on how to convert a pocket flashlight into a koppo stick.

Here's the LED flashlight that I converted (available through Sears):

Finally, here's a YouTube video on the subject.

Enjoy! - Rick H.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
I've got something for the guy in suburban London. England is a rainy area - isn't´t it? So try this unbreakable umbrella.

And here´s something on video about how to use canes for self-defense.

Thank you! - Joe B.

Some impeccable logic from Vice President Joe Biden: ‘We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt’

From Greg C.: Foreclosures at record high in first half 2009 despite aid

Frequent content contributor Karen H. sent the following items:

Port of Long Beach imports down 28.4%

Foreclosures rise 15% in the first half of 2009

Dem health RX a Poi$on Pill in NY - Terrifying 57% Tax looms for biggest earners.

Social Security spends $700,000 on Phoenix Conference

Industrial Production down 13.6%

Map of Hardest Hit Regions of Unemployment in the U.K.

CIT moving toward bankruptcy.

Verleger Sees $20 Oil this Year on ‘Devastating’ Glut "Crude oil will collapse to $20 a barrel this year as the recession takes a deeper toll on fuel demand, according to academic and former U.S. government adviser Philip Verleger."

Items from The Economatrix:s

Food Prices Falling on US Stores

The five latest failures: Bank of Wyoming Failed (#53), First Piedmont Bank (#54), BankFirst (#55), Vinyard Bank (#56), and Temecula Valley Bank (#57). Gee, and we've been told that Wyoming was one of the states hurt the least by the recession...

Bankruptcy Filings Up 33% Over Past 12 Months

Reader Bill B. mentioned this piece by the author of the popular novel One Second After, William R. Forstchen: "EMP 101" A Basic Primer & Suggestions for Preparedness

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Greg C. sent a link to a Rasmussen Reports article: The Audacity of Self-defense

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EMB spotted an interesting new site: GippersList.com. It is an alternative to Craigslist, for conservatives, I assume that they will allow firearms and ammunition ads. (Which, of course, the politically correct Craigslist won't.)

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Only in America Department: Dealer offers AK-47 with each new truck purchase (A hat tip to Jeff D. for the link.)

" ...vaults of the central banks and return to the pockets and purses of private individuals, for gold is the only really sound money with intrinsic value. The desire to return to gold is understandable, and we hope to see it realized some day, although the argument in favor of the gold standard is not always stated in a valid way. The distinctive function of gold money does not consist in its intrinsic value or in the constancy of that value, which fluctuates even in the absence of government intervention. The excellence of metallic money in free circulation consists in the fact that it renders impossible the abuse of power of the government to dispose of the possessions of its citizens by means of its monetary policy and thus serves as the solid foundation of economic liberty within each country and of free trade between one country and another. - Faustino Ballve, Essentials of Economics, 1958

Friday, July 17, 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.

An Introductory Note: The writer of this article has politics that differ from my own (and probably the majority of SurvivalBlog readers). He is an eastern liberal populist, while I am a western conservative libertarian. You might wonder why I'm providing him a soapbox. I'm doing so in part to show where we have some common ground, but just as importantly because Mr. Valenza's viewpoint might become prevalent in the next few years, and protests may be coming to a neighborhood near you. Hence, if you are a mortgage holder, you might view this with alarm, while those of you that are under threat of foreclosure and eviction might see Valenza's stance as positive in some ways. If nothing else, this article illustrates a political aspect of the "we/they paradigm" that might lead to some public protests and fisticuffs in the near future. It all comes down to where you put yourself on the continuums of scale of government, access to (and resort to) force, individual liberty, and the right to own property. Where things gets fuzzy--at least for some--are the concepts of private ownership, the integrity of binding legal contracts, and the often misapplied concept of "social justice." I predict that the next decade will be tumultuous. Choose your locale well, fully consider your affiliations, prepare prudently, pick your fights carefully and deliberately, and don't get caught on the receiving end of either a billy club or a pitchfork. That is, unless you know in your heart that you truly are in the right, and engaged in a struggle worth dying for.

I believe we are on the precipice of the Second Depression. Though President Obama is working valiantly to turn the country’s financial ship, it appears to me that the lack of a genuine
economic engine to create sufficient, sustaining, value-adding jobs will come too late. What should the common man do?

Much of the advice on how to live through such hard times is often too specific, not specific enough or draconian. How many of us are ready or should even consider survivalist methods? Who among us can afford to completely restructure their finances on a moment’s notice? Which of us can effectively plan now for the unforeseen severity we may or may not face?

Often to my amusement, I have found that everything in life can be boiled down to Three Rules that pretty much envelop the whole enchilada. I call these simple statements of essential truth a “Three Rules" poem. They can be fun, amusing, thoughtful, whimsical, et cetera. This one, presented for your approval and commentary, is dead serious.

Properly deduced, by sorting through the minutiae to find the lowest common denominator, a given Three Rules won’t tell you exactly what to do, but they should provide the framework for recognizing actions to a successful conclusion.

Here are mine:

Three Rules for Living through the Second Depression

1. Escape and avoid entanglements with scams and the authorities.

2. Stick together to defend each others right to food and shelter.

3. Make yourself useful.

Allow me to elucidate on each of the above.

Escape and avoid entanglements with scams and the authorities.

Debatable as it may seem now, this rule will become imperative. As the situation grows grimmer, more and more people and organization will devise ever more devious ways to steal the resources they want from those that can be conned or exploited.

As we have seen, much of what is called our financial system is nothing more than a cabal of greed that has worked diligently to sanction rules that effectively fleeced workers of their deserved earnings.

Look at any list of what to do during a financial crisis and you will find suggestions as to the preservation of your hard earned capital, should you have any, or a suggestion that you get out of debt. Good ideas, but they do not go far enough or wide enough to give anyone practical guidance and doable tasks.

First, let’s go wide. This rule includes all powerful or legally protected organizations that promise more than they know they can ever deliver. Here are examples that deserve skeptical analysis: unsecured debt of all kinds, especially credit cards with numerous fees, charges, penalties and usury interest rates; work at home scams; costly education with no job certainty; fortune tellers and spiritualists of all varieties; full commission sales positions with no base salary; internet scams; credit counseling; insurance; job counselors, resume services and business consultants; barter brokers; pyramid schemes and other versions of musical chairs; speed, DWI and other police traps to snare high fines and surcharges; et cetera.

If you haven’t already noticed, the police are out in force and quick to pull the ticket book trigger. Here in New Jersey, though the civil and criminal courts were subject to cost-cutting furlough days, no such thing happened in the money making municipal courts. Basically, now is not the time to get caught being late with payments or cheating on taxes, nor the moment to get on any bureaucrat’s building code violations clipboard. As the tax & budget shortfalls grow, expect to be hunted down for the most insignificant violation of any law, code or tax regulation.

The authorities will continue to work diligently to create money-raising traps disguised as public service. Be careful out there! That you've done nothing wrong, nor hurt anyone, may not matter. If caught in any such snare, don't exacerbate the situation, minimize the damage.

Keep you relations with the government limited to only what it can do for you and beware that even these “community chest” transactions may include trade-offs, expressed, implied or otherwise that may work against you.

Going as far as possible, if you lose you job or you’ve been purchasing necessities on your credit cards, or you can’t afford the medicine or medical care you need or you’re about to lose you home or car, definitely consider escaping the entanglement and life sucking burden of debt. Are you feeling guilty about the option of filing for protection from your creditors? Consider this, you didn't’t make the rules, but you have to live by them. Bankruptcy is in the rule book, use any and all rules to your advantage without any qualms.

Stick together to defend each others right to food and shelter

All of the accounts of the Great Depression remind us of how important organizing will be to survival in the Second Depression.

Face facts, it’s good to be member of any club that supports you in living a decent life.

I am no fan of organized religion, and I do not advocate its proliferation, but I must recognize its one aspect of value to the individual participant: community. Remember, you don’t have to believe in Santa to have friends. Any group will do, especially family. Have a pact to house each other if worst comes to worst.

In Florida, Max Rameau is housing the homeless in foreclosed property. He considers his work both civil disobedience and the morally proper response to human necessity. In desperate times, we will all do what we must. We must all protect the most basic human right to food and shelter for each other.

Do what they did during the Great Depression, support your neighbor and don’t let them be evicted. Homelessness is a nightmare that can bring the strongest of us to our knees. The right response is not to let it happen to our friends, family and neighbors.

Act locally to secure food resources to your geographic community, both near and wide. Industrial agriculture, the menace that brought you cheap, unhealthy and non-nutritious food, will starve you when you cannot pay the price. Recognize that hunger is a political/financial issue; it has nothing to do with a lack of food in the world. This will not change during the Second Depression.

During the Great Depression, there was abundant food, much of it warehoused and going to waste as scare jobs meant scare money and starving people. Monsanto, ConAgra,
Nestle and ADM are not going to feed you if you can’t pay; neither are McDonalds, Burger King, Fridays, Chili’s or the rest of the chain palletized food venues.

Support your local farms and fisheries as much as possible. Not only is that where your food will be grown, it’s where the local jobs will take root. Farmer’s markets, chef-owned and independent restaurants, the locally owned quality supermarket may be a little more expensive, but chances are they offer real value and will be there to underpin the your local community when times get tough.

Make yourself useful.

You can start right now. Play “what if” with yourself and do a little mental planning. What if, I can’t afford the rent? Make the call to friends and family so you will know where you can go and for how long. Figure out your finances now. Do what makes sense now in light of what is probably going to happen in the future.

If you have a job, keep it. If you hate your job, know the risks before you make a move. If you have savings, secure it. If you have debt, do what must be done to get rid of it. Sooner is better than too late.

If the worst happens and you’re out of work this is the rule to heed. Figure out what you can do. They’ll be plenty to do to help others and help you and yours.

As with food, jobs are going to become an important local resource. Local business are not going to move, but the may fail, without your support during the Second Depression. Consider local options for everything you buy now. Tech support and computer repair: the local geek shop or a Dell extended warranty? Banking: Citibank or the local credit union that will still FDIC secures your deposits? Customer service and support: deal with the person in Bangalore or request for a representative in the United States? It goes on and on: The local organic farm or Perdue? Quality clothes made in the USA or Wal-Mart’s Chinese imports? The big box home center or the local hardware store that is not just luring you in to sell you patio furniture? We’ve made too many poor choices in all these respects over the last three decades. Let’s think local and long term starting now.

Fix it. Paint it. Repair it. Weed it by hand instead of buying Round-up. Collect rain water for your garden. Basically, when your money is in short supply and your time is long, use your time and don’t spend the money.

Voting early and often may be out of the question, but if you got the time why not make yourself useful and give your elected representatives an earful. Now is the time to make your voice heard as our timid politicians tip-toe around and hope for the best.

In conclusion:

Apply these rules starting now to your particular situation, needs and environs. We can get through this if we start thinking and acting more deliberately and cut out those institutions that only want our money and have never cared a whit about us.

JWR Adds: Before you send me a Nastygram about Mr. Valenza's article, please re-read my introductory note, above.

Hi Jim,

I enjoyed that excellent GPS article [by Mike S., "GPS for Day-to-Day Use and Survival".] It squares well with my personal experience.

GPS on-board mapping has many errors. Seems worse in the hinterlands. Also pretty bad where new construction is concerned. I was amused while driving in MA that for about a half mile my GPS unit thought I was driving down railroad tracks.

While snowshoeing with friends, my buddy had to demonstrate the GPS on his iPhone. All it showed was a dot in the middle of a blank screen. We were beyond the reach of cell phone towers and his phone could not access a map. We had a good laugh about it, but it's a good thing we knew our way through other means.

Many people who totally rely on a GPS for driving seem to lose their innate sense of direction. I asked a cousin for directions to a place and he said. "Huh . . . I've been there a hundred times but just follow the GPS directions. I really couldn't find my way there without it."

I do enjoy having GPS in my car. It came in handy when my speedometer cable broke and I could get my mph off of the unit.

Just be aware of its limits and don't forget your other navigation skills. - Raymond

LJ in England sent us this: Swine flu deaths in Britain soar to 29 as 12 die in four days

Andrew in England sent this from Yahoo UK: Pandemic threat 'worse than terror'

From Cheryl: Great Pandemic Flu of 2009 is Coming and No One Can Stop It! Cheryl's comment: "This is a 2006 novel, Another Place to Die by Sam North, called a blueprint for survival tips for the coming pandemic. Worth checking out. It might deserve a place next to Patriots."

SR recommended this: Fight for swine flu vaccine could get ugly

Reader IJS flagged this: Ron Paul: Obama Will 'Destroy the Dollar'

Jim Sinclair (of JS Mineset) mentioned this chart posted at Contrary Investor, showing levels of derivatives exposure. Jim Sinclair raises and interesting question: Where does Goldman Sachs actually have the majority of their derivatives plays? And this chart is also illuminating. In the same piece, Sinclair included a link to this: Mobius Says Derivatives, Stimulus to Spark New Crisis. I have been warning folks for years that the derivatives market is like a ticking time bomb! A full-scale derivatives implosion could make the current economic crisis seem trivial, by comparison!

Buckle up! FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair is predicting that the bank failure rate will increase tenfold. (A hat tip to IJS for the link.)

Greg C. spotted this: California tax officials: Legal pot would rake in $1.4 Billion. Greg's comment: "Well they ended prohibition during the depression so they could collect a new source of tax revenue. I guess we should’t be surprised by this new development."

The latest over at the Dr. Housing Bubble blog: Foreclosure Nation: Highest Foreclosure Quarter in History.

No Great Surprise Department: Foreign demand for US financial assets down in May. [JWR Adds: "First prize for our contestants is a suitcase full of US Treasury Bonds. Second prize is two suitcases full of US Treasury Bonds."]

Items from The Economatrix:

Rising Unemployment Accelerates Foreclosures Crisis

CIT Group, Inc. Won't Get Bailout, Raising Bankruptcy Prospect Shares tumbled 70% Thursday. "It is unclear how a bankruptcy filing by a company that lends to thousands of small and mid-size businesses would affect shaky financial markets hobbled by an economy in recession and bleeding hundreds of thousands of jobs a month. Small businesses are seen as keys to economic recovery."

Minimum Thought (The Mogambo Guru)

Map: Broad Unemployment Across the Country

Stocks Make Push at End to Keep Rally Alive Is this more manipulation?

World Bank Warns of Deflation Spiral

House Bill to Hit Millionaires with 5.4% Surtax More BHO "share the wealth" philosophy, in action.

Republicans Criticize Agency for Consumers "Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee called the proposal "an example of this administration being Big Brother" and "a tremendous overreach" that would limit what companies could sell and consumers could buy."

CalPers Sues Rating Agency Over Losses
"Calpers, the biggest U.S. public pension fund, has sued the three largest credit rating agencies for giving perfect grades to securities that later suffered huge subprime mortgage losses. The California Public Employees' Retirement System said in a lawsuit filed last week in California Superior Court in San Francisco that it might lose more than $1 billion from structured investment vehicles, or SIVs, that received top grades from Moody's Investors Service Inc, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Inc."

Some unexpected fallout from the Kahre American Eagles legal tender case: U.S. Attorney Wants Newspaper to Name Names. (Thanks to Chad in Missouri for the link.)

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F.G. mentioned this guaranteed-to-choke-you-up commercial from Ford.

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Reader KAF brought this piece in IBD to my attention: It's Not An Option; Congress: It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal. Meanwhile we read: Congressional Budget Director Warns Health Care Bills Will Raise Costs

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Greg C. spotted an article describing the threat spiral escalations in South Africa: ATMs to Dispense Pepper Spray to Robbers

"That mythical island, whose inhabitants earned a precarious living by taking in each other's washing." - Lewis Carroll

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mr. Rawles:
I am at a disadvantage to your American readers. I live in a suburb of London, and travel by train to work each day. Street crime is now out of control in some neighbourhoods, but I cannot carry a weapon. I must say that I'm envious of Americans that can carry concealed pistols and revolvers. Here, I cannot even carry a pocket knife. Are martial arts effective, and if they indeed are, then which one will be most effective with not too much time for training? What do you suggest? Thanking You in Advance, - G.H. in England

JWR Replies: I wrote the following for SurvivalBlog back in 2006. I'm re-posting it, along with an update, for the benefit of the many readers that have come on board more recently:

I highly recommend training to use a cane, walking stick, or a traditional full-length umbrella. This is particularly important for our readers like you that live in gun-unfriendly nations. Ditto for our readers that live in states like California, New York, and New Jersey where is is very difficult for mere mortals to get a carrying concealed weapon (CCW) permit. And even if you are a concealed firearms permit holder, you should learn these valuable skills. Why? You never know when circumstances might dictate that you cannot carry a pistol. (For example, when traveling to a state where your CCW permit is not valid, or when traveling overseas.)

Here is a forward from firearms instructor John Farnam, by way of SurvivalBlog reader Grampa Redd:

"I attended a stick/cane-fighting seminar yesterday, instructed by Peter Donello of Canemasters. Canemasters manufacturers high-quality canes and walking sticks and provides training in their use. However, I used my Cold Steel City Stick, as did several other students.

I was astonished at the number of effective moves available to the cane/stick fighter, certainly more than I can remember! Peter's knowledge is vast, and I did my best to catalog the few that I thought were most effective and easiest to learn. Range is the big advantage that canes have over blades and other impact weapons.

Striking and jabbing are still the premiere moves, easily done with nearly any style of cane. Some follow-up moves and holds and more comfortably accomplished with a hooked cane than with a straight stick, but either style works just fine. The real question is: What can I have with me most often that attracts the least attention?

This four-hour clinic is something I recommend to everyone. The cane is a wonderful, low-profile, yet extremely effective fighting tool that most people can fit into their lives with a minimum of lifestyle disruption. Most casual observers don't even notice when you have one with you and certainly don't believe them to represent a threat. Time well spent!"

As for walking stick designs: From what I have heard and observed here in the U.S., if you are well dressed and groomed, then law enforcement officers in most jurisdictions will hardly give you a second glance if you are carrying a walking stick. But if you are shabby looking and perceived as "riffraff", then expect to get plenty of grief. Canes, especially aluminum ones those that look like true walking aids, are far less likely to attract suspicion than walking sticks. I have an acquaintance who lives in Oakland, California who carries a dull silver aluminum cane with a big rubber tip. This cane looks very unobtrusive if not downright innocuous. It is not until you pick it up that you realize that it has been retrofitted with a 1/2"steel rod firmly epoxied into its hollow core. The phrase "the iron fist in the velvet glove" comes to mind!

I have another acquaintance that lives in a very rainy climate, near Seattle, Washington. He makes a habit of carrying a stout full length traditional umbrella whenever he gets out of his car. Aside for misplacing several umbrellas over the years (a fairly costly mistake, since he carries a big sturdy umbrella which cost around $60 each), he has had no trouble. (And, by God's grace, he has only had need to use it to protect himself from rain showers.) Nearly all of the stick/cane fighting techniques apply to folded umbrellas, and they can also be used quite effectively for jabbing.

My general preference is to use a shoulder-width two handed grip grip in most situations, to maintain control and more importantly to assure retention of the stick. This is akin to what has been taught for many years by police academies in the use of long ("riot") batons. The last thing that you want to happen is to have Mr. Bad Guy gain control of your weapon. If that were to happen, you would become he "Owie" recipient instead of the Owie distributor!

Do some research on your local laws. In most jurisdictions, any blow with a striking weapon to the neck or head is considered potentially lethal. Police academies emphasize this in their baton training. ("Never strike above the chest unless you you would in the same circumstances draw your pistol and fire.") So don't escalate to doing so unless you absolutely confident that your life is threatened and you have no other choice. (Essentially it is the same as firing a gun--at least in the eyes of the law.) It may sound sissified and a bit too prim, proper, and "Queensbury Rules", but most courts look at things in terms of equal force and a graduated response, roughly as follows: If Mr. Bad Guy uses his fists, then you can use your fists. If he uses a weapon, then you can use a like weapon. If he strikes above the chest, then you can strike above the chest. As a practical matter, there are no rules in trying to save your life in a street fight, but apparently there are in court houses, post facto. Yes, I realize that graduated response is not realistic to expect, since street fights are fast and furious. Most victims don't even recognize that their attacker is using a weapon until after the incident is over. (The classic victim's police statement is: "I thought that he was punching me until is saw the blood, and it wasn't until then that I realized he had used a knife on me.") But again, a graduated response is what courts will expect in order to make a ruling of justifiable force in self defense.

Don't forget that we live in a litigious era, so expect prosecution and/or a civil lawsuit in the event that you are forced to use a weapon in self defense, even if you were entirely in the right. Show restraint, and never deal out punishment. Just reduce the threat with a quick jab or two, disengage, and then engage your Nike-jitsu technique. (Run!)

If you get into an absolutely lethal brawl (a truly "kill or get killed" situation) and you cannot disengage, then by all means aim where you can do the most damage: The front or side of the neck. The human neck is soft tissue, a bundle of nerves, veins, arteries, and wind pipe. It is your surest target to end a fight quickly and decisively. (The same goes for hand-to-hand combat. Aim your punches at his throat.) But again, it is also your surest way to find your way to a courtroom. I can't stress this enough: show discretion!

When carrying a weapon of any sort for self defense, be sure to develop the same Condition White/Yellow/Amber/Red situational awareness skills that you would for carrying a concealed firearm. (See Naish Piazza's article "The Color Code of Mental Awareness", available free at the Front Sight web site. (Click on "Special Offers" and then on the link for "15 Gun Training Reports free of charge.") Extensive training on self defense combative techniques is worthless if you don't see an attack Be alert.

If you don't live near a school that teaches cane and stick fighting, there is a 40 minute training DVD produced by the Gunsite academy, titled: "Defensive Techniques: Walking Stick." It is available from the Gunsite Internet Pro Shop. (They do not accept overseas orders.) OBTW, one of my readers also recommended Lenny Magill's training DVD "Mastering the Walking Stick".

I should also mention that modern self defense with a walking stick ("Bartitsu") was first popularized by Edward W. Barton-Wright. His classic 1901 magazine article on walking stick self defense is available for free download. See: Part 1 and Part 2. These techniques are weak on weapon retention, but it otherwise is still fairly valid, even after more than a century.

Update for 2009 on Yawaras and Kubotans
For discreet carry, don't overlook the potential effectiveness of short striking weapons such as Yawara sticks and Kubotans. Since these self defense tools are restricted in many locales, I recommend instead carrying a Cold Steel Pocket Shark pen that has had its markings scraped or sanded off. Outwardly, this stout little weapon will pass for a marking pen. (And it fact, it is a marking pen, which should get you past all but the most rigorous security checkpoints.)

Some martial arts dojos offer yawara stick training. These are derivations of the ancient "closed sheath" Japanese striking techniques. These classes are offered by both karate and Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) academies. Just be forewarned that many dojos require at least brown belt ranking as a prerequisite for anything beyond "empty hand" classes. This means a lot of time and money before they will teach you how to use a yawara!

Although they are no substitute for hands-on training from a master, there are several training DVDs that can give you a head start. These include Yawara Kata Training by Maurey Levitz, Kubotans & Yawaras by Sammy Franco, and The Persuader (also known as the Kubotan or Yawara) by George Sylvan.

In closing, I must repeat that situational awareness is crucial. You mind in your primary self-defense weapon. With the right training and a survivor's mindset, just about any small sturdy object found close at hand can be used as a weapon--even a pocket comb or just a tightly-rolled magazine or newspaper. Get the training, practice often, never travel unarmed, and maintain "Condition Yellow", as a minimum.

Dear Jim and Family,
I recently read your book "Patriots". It was a great read and really scared me too. it brought to light all of fears I have in the back of my mind on how fragile society is and our economy. It is spurring me into action now although it will have to wait as I am deploying to Afghanistan in the next couple of months.

I just read your section on the Swine Flu and the question of N95 masks and wearing them. As an 11-year veteran career firefighter and sergeant in the Army National Guard, I felt I needed to inform your readers of one glaring life and death point about those masks that is being missed: You need to be fit tested for any mask, the word mask is a misnomer, they are respirators, if they don't fit right, they won't work. When it comes to diseases don't accept anything less than a 100% fit. Not all masks work for all people, I'm sure you and your wife aren't the same size, for example. Also, if you go on the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) web site there is Flu Pandemic information. The IAFF also recommends P100 masks, not N95 masks. This is because the P100s catch pretty much 100% of the [2 micron or larger ] particulates, so they are the best bang for your buck. Also a P100 is a long duration use filter, by that I mean, as the filter gets more and more saturated it will get harder and harder to breathe. The mask could be used for a day or a couple of days if need be. P100 masks are made by Moldex [, 3M, and several other makers] and sell for about $40.00 for a five-pack.

I live in Stamford Connecticut right outside New York City (NYC) and work for a large Fire Department. I fit test all 300 guys every year and about 20 size changes occur each year due to weight loss or gain. Hence another reason to be fit tested. I hope that this sheds some light on the issue of a proper-fitting mask.

Be Well, Stay Safe, and with God most of all, - SGT Joe L.

An N95 or N100 mask is actually only good for a few hours of use. Once they become saturated with water from your breath, they loose their effectiveness as well as become a health hazard that makes it easy to literally asphyxiate you. The wet keeps air from going through that part of the mask and you end up breathing the air that makes it past the seal between your face and your mask. Also those of you (like me) with facial hair, out comes the razor. If you plan on spending a long time out in public during what ever the epidemic of the day is, you should carry several. This is good advice to those that have bought a single box of them and consider themselves "prepared". The best bet during a pandemic is just to stay at your retreat, away from others.. N100 masks are quite expensive even by the box and are the best choice. N95s will do if you don't have any N100s. - Frank B on the Border

Referencing the letter: Recent Experience with an N95 Protective Mask: This may be a case of "pilot error". The standard N95 mask has a bad reputation, as a retailer of N95 masks there are several drawbacks to these masks, they are:

* Fit
* Filter
* And Fouling

First let's look at fit, because they are designed as a one-size-fits-all consumer product they obviously don't fit every face, and they tent to gap around the edges, especially if making facial movement like talking.

Second, the filter material they are using is deemed "to stop "95% of all particulate matter larger than 2 microns". There are several articles that show the manufacturers use every conceivable way to make their product match those standards and few of them are on actual human test subjects. [(The tests are done with mechanical test fixtures with tight edge seals.)]

Third and most important as your letter writer pointed out is "Fouling". With out an exhalation port the filter material becomes clogged with the water vapor you breathe out. This then forces you to either force your air in and out through an increasingly "full" mask or more likely, breathe around the gaps in the mask, making it completely ineffective.

Then you may be asking "Why buy them if they don't work"? Well the truth of the matter is that they do work, if you use them correctly and for the right reasons. The inexpensive N95 masks come in boxes of 20. That is so that you change them often. With heavy use, i.e. heavy breathing, they should be changed at least once an hour. The greatest utility for these masks is to help you to not touch your nose and mouth with your hands!

Although the Flu virus can be airborne, you are far more likely to get it by touching a contaminated surface like a door knob, stair rail, or a grocery cart handle [and then unconsciously touching your face]. So for that purpose they do a great job.

There are more expensive disposable masks on the market, (Those made by Triosyn are the best in my opinion, although very expensive and hard to find.)

Don't count out the great standby, the N95, I stand by them, but only if they are used correctly! - Kory

Reader JN-EMT mentioned a site that describes a straightforward method to refuel a propane-converted car or truck from a 20 pound barbeque LPG cylinder. Take a look at this page for the "gas can" and other propane ideas.

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F.R. found this piece at the New Scientist site: Is your city prepared for a home-made nuke?

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Experts Now Saying Recent Cyber Attacks Came From Britain, Not North Korea

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Cheryl sent this article from Sacramento, California: Rise in County Gun Sales Tied to Fewer Cops, What Obama Might Do

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US Guns Debate Fires Up as Arizona and Tennessee Allow Guns in Bars

"Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd." - Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For the next two weeks, starting today (Wednesday July 15), Ready Made Resources is having a special 25% off sale on case lots of Mountain House Freeze dried foods in #10 cans, with free shipping to the Continental United States. Please don't miss out on this sale, as they don't happen very often. Stock up!


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.

This article might at first glance seem "off topic" for SurvivalBlog. But as I can attest personally, health insurance is a vitally important preparedness measure. If it were not for our insurance, I would be presently be bankrupt and would have been forced to sell my ranch. (My wife is presently in very precarious health and has had more than $1 million in medical expenses in the past year. Thankfully, the insurance has paid for most of it.)

The American healthcare system is collapsing and it will continue to do so no matter what comes out of the current debates in Washington. As a result, healthcare in the United States will continue to rise in cost. Worse, healthcare will become difficult to obtain; specialty care is already scarce in some areas and many rural counties do not have even one doctor who will accept Medicare patients. There are many reasons for these developments that are too complicated to outline here but it’s important to be aware of these trends because they will affect your ability to obtain care when you need it.

Directly related to the healthcare system is the health insurance system which is equally a mess. Following are what I’ve learned in the past 30 years as a health insurance broker in a western state:

Why You Need Insurance

As an insurance broker, I constantly meet people who tell me that they don’t need medical insurance. Most often I’m told “I’ll just go down to the emergency room where they gotta treat me no matter what”. While this is technically accurate it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get the care you need. A lot depends on the tax base of the city, county, and state where you live. If your region is financially solvent, the local hospital will probably take good care of you. However, if your local government or state are in trouble, healthcare is the first thing that gets cut, leaving hospitals underfunded and understaffed. Compounding the problem is the fact that reimbursements from HMOs, insurance companies, and the various federal and state entitlement plans (Medicare, Medicaid, county welfare, et cetera) are in many cases lower than the actual cost of delivering care. As a result, the system is starved for funding and providers are in revolt. Older doctors are simply retiring and dropping out of the system. Many of the physicians that remain in practice are canceling their contracts with insurance plans and government schemes and moving to cash-only business models. (In a major city in my state, it’s getting very difficult to find a pediatrician who accepts insurance. Most are now cash only.) As for emergency rooms, it’s becoming difficult for some hospitals to staff their ERs, especially with specialists and surgeons because the outside docs have no assurance that they’ll be paid for treating the un-insured. This results in delays in critically needed treatment as ER directors frantically try to find doctors who will provide care to injured but un-insured (or government-insured) patients.

These trends are causing a serious physician shortage that’s going to get worse as more doctors exit the system. As mentioned, many of the physicians who stay around are limiting their offices to patients who pay cash or have insurance that adequately reimburses them for their time and expertise. A group of surgeons in my town recently constructed their own private hospital about two miles away from the regional medical center. Since it’s private and does not accept government funds, the doctors can limit who gets in. If you don’t have insurance, they send you over to the medical center.

The fact is that the US healthcare system can no longer afford to provide care to everyone who needs it. Most federal, state, and county systems are hopelessly bankrupt and there are 50 million baby boomers now entering their highest-cost years of healthcare needs. In the coming years, who gets treated will be primarily be decided by a person’s ability to pay the bill and private, comprehensive insurance will be one of the few keys that will get you the care you need. Like it or not, in the future the people who have insurance will get treated and those that don’t will be sidelined to long lines for tests, appointment with specialists, and needed surgeries.

How to Get Covered

Aside from cost, the biggest problem with private medical insurance is getting approved. Most states allow insurance plans to decline individuals who have prior medical problems. The debates going on in Congress now include guarantee-to-issue mandates for insurance carriers. However, these mandates – if approved – are years way from implementation. Meanwhile, people with existing medical conditions need insurance now.

Some states in the eastern US mandate guaranteed coverage for all applicants but most states don’t. If you have a pre-existing condition, the only way to get medical insurance is to be part of a group plan, either as an employee or as a business owner. The regulations vary from state to state but most states require insurance carriers to issue group coverage to eligible businesses no matter what the health of the participants. In other words, insurance companies cannot refuse to cover employees of a legitimate group. However, you can’t just call yourself a group and get covered – eligibility for a guaranteed group plan is strictly defined. In most cases, eligibility requires an established business (typically in operation at least 3-to-6 months), with two or more W-2 status employees, working at least 30 hours per week, for at least the local minimum wage. All of these requirements must be satisfied to qualify and carriers require detailed verification of these parameters in the form of business records and payroll reports. So you can’t just call yourself a group and get coverage – you have to have a real business with at least two people on a legitimate W-2 payroll.

For most people, this is a dead end. However, there is a loophole in some state laws that can get you around most of these requirements. The insurance regulations in some states allow corporate officers to count as employees for the purposes of qualifying for group insurance. If your state has this provision you can form a corporation, name yourself and your spouse (or family member, or friend) as corporate officers and become eligible for guaranteed-issue medical coverage no matter what your health history. In my state there is no requirement that the corporation actually engage in a trade or business or have revenues, nor is there a requirement that the officers be on payroll or take a salary. All that’s required is a corporate structure and at least two officers named on the filing documents. Carriers hate this loophole but there’s nothing that they can do about it if it’s part of the state’s insurance code. It’s the law and they have to abide by it.

Cautions: The corporation must be filed in your state of residence and the officers typically have to be state residents as well. Other requirements may apply depending on where you live so discuss the details with a local attorney who works with small businesses and a local insurance broker who is familiar with the group plans available in your area. Also, don’t submit a filing with 10 or 15 family and friends named as officers because they all need coverage. Keep a low-profile. You may technically be within the law but I’ve seen carriers find one excuse after another to postpone approval of a plan because they didn’t like the group. You are much more likely to get five separate corporations approved, each with two officers, than a single filing listing 10.

In my state, creating a corporation costs about $2,000 for the legal work and filing fees and there may be annual taxes levied by the state depending on where you live. Note that these outlays do not include the cost of the insurance plan; the corporation is merely the vehicle that will allow you to obtain coverage. However, once your corporation is in place, you will be able to obtain insurance and maintain coverage for the rest of your life irrespective of your health or your employment.

Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions: Even though you can obtain guaranteed coverage through your corporation, the insurance plan will not necessarily cover pre-existing health conditions. Unless you have prior insurance in place within 62 days of the start of your group insurance (“Prior Credible Coverage”), existing medical conditions may have a waiting period before they are covered. Here’s the general rule:

A pre-existing condition is a medical issue for which you saw a licensed practitioner, had tests or treatment, or for which you took a prescription medication in the six months prior to the start of the new plan. If you did not see a practitioner or have treatment, tests, or took meds for the condition in the prior six months, then you are covered for all conditions immediately. If you did have treatment of some sort, then that condition is not covered until you have been on your new plan for six months. But after six months-plus-one day, the pre-existing condition is covered just like any other illness. And once you’ve satisfied the six-month wait you won’t have to do it again even if you switch carriers or plans as long as you move directly from one group plan to another.

Finally, don’t lie about your medical history thinking that you’ll get past the pre-existing condition exclusion. Insurance carriers investigate every claim that comes in during the first six months that a plan is in effect. They can do this because the authorizations you sign when submitting a claim allow the company to obtain any medical records about you no matter how far back. Meanwhile, you’ll likely forget that during a prior office visit with your doctor he asked you about the problem and you mentioned some treatments in the past. That will be in your doc’s notes and the insurance carrier will see the note and start tracing back. If they find out you lied on the application they’ll refund all your premiums, hand you back all your claims, and rescind your coverage. People try to cheat insurance companies every day and the carriers know every lie, every scam, and every trick that people try to pull. They’ll find out if you try to cheat them and they’ll pull your coverage if you do.

Low Cost Medical Coverage

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as "Low Cost Medical Coverage" but there is lower-cost coverage. We tell all of our clients to select a plan with the highest deductible they can afford if they get sick. High deductible plans have lower premiums but still provide comprehensive major-medical coverage in the event of a serious accident or illness. In most states carriers now offer plans with annual deductibles of up to $5,000 and that’s what we recommend.

While $5,000 may seem like a lot to pay if you get sick, you can always work out a payment plan with the hospital once you’re on your feet again. For example, let’s say that a heart attack and bypass surgery cost you $50,000, with the insurance company picking up about $43,000 of the cost. You owe the hospital $7,000 for the deductible and various co-payments and you can’t afford to write a check for the full amount. First off, thank them for taking good care of you – the hospital’s billing people get yelled at all the time about how high the bill is. Meanwhile, the hospital’s docs and nurses probably saved your life, so be respectful and grateful. Then, offer to pay $600/month over 12 months. Another strategy is to ask for a discount in exchange for immediate payment by cash or by credit card. Providers want to collect payments and close out accounts as fast as possible so many will make a deal for quick payment. If you owe the hospital $7,000 tell them that you’ll settle the bill on the spot for $3,500. They may counter at $4,500 or $5,000, but whatever figure you settle on will be a significant discount. The key here is immediate payment – have your cash or credit card ready because it’s the only enticement you have to get a reduction in your balance.

Insurance That’s Not Insurance

I occasionally get a call from someone that goes like this: “I bought insurance from a guy and then got sick and now the hospital says I owe $30,000. What can I do?” Some insurance contracts have limits on how much will be paid for expensive care such as surgery or hospitalization but those limits are buried in fine print on the back page that no one reads. These plans typically have lower rates that the local Blue Cross/Blue Shield policies and it’s tempting to purchase the cheaper coverage. However, like anything else, you get what you pay for with insurance. Plans with similar benefits all cost about the same from carrier to carrier because they pay out about the same amount of money if you get sick. So a plan that promises lower rates for high benefits is impossible – somewhere along the way, the insurance company has figured out a way to make a profit even though they charge less than their competitors. Most of the time they do this by capping the payout in some way, usually by “internal limits” on expensive benefits. For example, a company located in the Southwest has been very successful in marketing a “special” policy designed specifically for the self-employed. Their sales people tout the great coverage and low premiums and they sell a boatload of this junk insurance all over the US. What they don’t tell you is that the policy benefits have caps on the payouts. The agent will explain that the policy will pay 80% of your hospital bill but what he doesn’t tell you is that the hospital payout is limited to $10,000. (This is an actual case that I dealt with last year. A young women was diagnosed with cervical cancer about seven months after buying insurance from this company. She now owes the hospital $37,000 because her contract limited the hospital payouts to $10,000.)

Here’s what to look for: Be very suspicious of insurance plans that are connected to some sort of official-sounding “association” or “union” for the self-employed. I’ve rarely seen a plan like this that provided good coverage. Some of these plans don’t even have a real insurance company behind them - the association or union is just a front for the sales guys who sell cheap insurance, collect a pile of money from the premium payments, and then close the plan down and skip town, leaving all their customers with no coverage. (I’ve personally seen two such "plans" in my area.) Also, do not complete an application if you have to initial every page of the form. When you initial a form it means that you have read, understand, and agreed to everything on that page and doing so is legally binding. That means that you can’t sue the agent or the company if there’s a dispute later about the terms of what you signed. That’s what happened to the girl with cervical cancer - she got stuck with a $37,000 hospital bill but couldn’t sue the agent because she had initialed the page with the fine print about the $10,000 payout cap. And because of this initial-each-page scam, that guy is still out there selling his junk policies to unsuspecting people.

Before buying insurance, read the fine print. Ask questions. Listen carefully and take notes. Talk to agents from different companies. And be very suspicious of any plan that’s not insured by a major, well-known insurance company. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Premium Increases: Whatever plan you choose and whatever the monthly rate, your premium will go up every year. Yep, every year. By how much? That depends on your location but in our state it’s averaged 10% per year. Some years were higher than that, some lower, but 10% is the long-term average we’ve seen and we thing that will continue. There are lots of reasons for this – too many to discuss in this posting - but it’s a fact and you need to plan for it. In addition to the annual increases, your rate will also get bumped up as you move into higher age brackets (e.g. 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64). Fair or unfair, right or wrong, that’s the way the system works. The cost of healthcare and the cost of health insurance is going to rise in price every year. If you want access to good medical care you need to understand and plan for this reality.

The one offset to these increases is to raise your deductible from time to time. A $5,000 deductible was unheard of a few years ago and now is common. In a few years we’ll start to see deductibles of $10,000 or more. Moving your deductible up every few years will help control your premium outlays. But doing so will place increased importance on maintaining your health. In the coming years as medical care gets more costly and you raise your deductible your personal lifestyle will increasingly impact your household finances. If you lead an unhealthy life your medical expenses will ultimately bankrupt you unless you’re very wealthy. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle is now a financial decision. Cut out the tobacco, get more exercise, eat right, and get your check-ups. In short, do all the things we all know that we should be doing. If you follow though, you’ll be healthier and there will be less danger of you depleting your family’s monetary reserves by $10,000 per year for deductibles and co-pays because of a chronic illness.

Hi Jim,
I read your blog every day as I am preparing my family for the likely collapse. Thanks for the info.We are looking for the ideal spot for our retreat and have found many possible places all in the Pacific Northwest (wooded, very private and off of main roads, creeks, etc.)

Here is our dilemma: We have four horses and want to grow our own hay to feed them. How does one find a property that is remote and hidden but still with enough flat, fertile land to grow hay (5-10 acres per horse!)? Our horses are all small and hardy breeds but still need to eat! In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, do you consider horses a positive for transportation, pulling/plowing power?

We are preparing for a worst case scenario -- no gasoline to import hay, closed roads, Golden Hordes, unlimited government regulation of farming/production, hungry horses, et cetera.
What are your thoughts? Thanks, - Alex

JWR Replies: Owning well-trained horses is highly recommended, particularly in a long-term situation where gasoline is either unavailable or prohibitively expensive. I recommend that you locate your retreat in both good pasture and haying country that has reliable rainfall and fertile soil. Plentiful water in the absence of grid power will be the first and foremost consideration. Assuming that you have a pair of horses that have worked in harness, find an old-fashioned horse-drawn hay mower and a large hay wagon, so your horses can earn their keep, by bringing in their fodder.

Training of both horse and rider is crucial, if nothing else than for safety. As our family has learned, a horse can do a lot of damage in a hurry, even if they are at a standstill. Get the best training you can afford. For draft horses, Doug "Doc" Hammill up in Montana is one of the best. There are of course hundreds of trail horse trainers, but for practical versatility I recommend that you also search out the best working horse trainer in your region. (Even if you don't own cattle now, you may someday in the future.) OBTW, I recommend watching the DVD "Clinton Anderson: On the Road to the Horse Colt Starting".  

Unless you find an exceptionally isolated property, security will be dependent on having neighbors that you can trust and in having enclosed stall space where you will secure your horses every night. You will of course need perimeter electronic security. Get a Dakota Alert infrared intrusion detection system, at the minimum.

If and when you relocate, try to buy a parcel that is essentially landlocked--but I mean this in the good sense of the term--namely a parcel with a neighboring ranch between you and and the county road. Ideally your property should have just one private deeded right-of-way lane for you to watch. (Your property should sit at least one "40" back from any public road.) That will distance you and hopefully shield your stock from line of sight, and it will greatly simplify your security arrangements. Limited avenues of approach will considerably reduce the requisite security man hours and also greatly reduce your stress level.

For those who are planning to wash clothes in case of power outage or loss of delivered water I have two suggestions.

First is the wringer to get excess water out of washed clothes. Use an industrial mop wringer, such as the kind available through Lowe's stores. It is made of heavy duty industrial plastic, and, of course, is dual use. Wring out your mops or your clothes. It is less expensive than a traditional roller type wringer.

Second, for washing clothes in small batches you might consider a foot moved (adapted to hand crank on rollers) drum cement mixer of the kind marketed by Sportsman's Guide. It is made of poly plastic and is easily cleaned. Once again, it is a dual use item. Mix your cement (60 lb. sack capable) or in an emergency use it as a clothes washer. Due to its tight seal it could also be used as a storage container if need be, instead of a five gallon bucket. If you choose, you could get multiple buckets for storage use and then after the manure hits the spreader, when the drums are empty, use them as barter items.

One final item: Sealable plastic drums with removable tops of the 55 gallon variety are a good way to store sacks of cement and keep them dry until they are needed. Bag each cement sack in heavy duty plastic bags before storage, as a "just in case", so that if one bursts it does not make a mess. Plastic drums used for soap --like that used by car washes (or auto dealers)--can sometimes be purchased fairly cheaply from the car wash owner. (They have a return fee to the distributor of between $10 and $20.) These type of drums have two small caps in the top and are easily cleaned and reused to collect runoff water for gardening, toilet flushing, or could be adapted for use as mini-septic tanks with exit holes drilled on one third of a side (properly called vaults) or cut a hole in the bottom, install a toilet seat and use it for an outhouse (but don't forget to cut out the top and set it on a base layer of large gravel prior to use).

Just a few thoughts for the "adapt, reuse and recycle" minded. - Bob W., in West Virginia

Influenza Pandemic Update:

1918 & 2009 H1N1 Similarities Confirm Recombination "...the growing list of similarities between 2009 pandemic H1N1 and 1918 pandemic H1N1 continues to cause concern."

UK: Swine Flu Vaccine to be Cleared After 5-Day Trial
(How can they eliminate the risk of pathogenicity so quickly? Your Editor is dubious.)

WHO Says Health Workers Priority for H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine

My friend "X" in Japan pointed out an article that I overlooked last month: Confiscated US Bonds Were Headed For Swiss Free Port. OBTW, living near a "free port" (as described in the article) might have its advantages in a protracted economic depression. Commerce will slow globally, but port zones will probably continue to have profitable opportunities.

Several SurvivalBloggers sent this: June budget gap $94.32 billion, record for June

Eight readers mentioned this Wall Street Journal article: The Economy Is Even Worse Than You Think; The average length of unemployment is higher than it's been since government began tracking the data in 1948. As is typical for a liberal eastern establishment writer, Mort Zuckerman gathers good data, but sadly reaches pro-statist conclusions. Zuckerman asks: "So what kind of second-act stimulus should we look for? Something that might have a real multiplier effect, not a congressional wish list of pet programs. It is critical that the Obama administration not play politics with the issue. The time to get ready for a serious infrastructure program is now. It's a shame Washington didn't get it right the first time." The solution to the unemployment problem is not wealth-transfer "stimulus", "bailouts", and assorted job creation "programs" . Instead, we need genuine free enterprise, a sound currency, honest banking, and minimal taxation to truly stimulate the economy. Instead of "programs", we need government to get out of the way and let bad debt be unwound, and allow the economic engine recover.

Mort Zuckerman also wrote this piece for US News & World Reports: Nine Reasons the Economy is Not Getting Better. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Financials Pull Stocks Higher

China Takes Steps to Break Sway of Mighty Greenback

Boomers: Winter is Coming

The Doctrine of Preemptive Bailouts and the Biggest Bailout You Haven't Heard About. "...this is a disturbing new development in our bailout nation since this is one of the first times that the U.S. Treasury will try to preemptively deal with a financial problem."

Geithner Says Global Economy to Suffer Setbacks During "Recovery"

Debt Deflation: The Reason Why Government Economic Stimulus is Doomed to Fail

Momentum Builds Toward Possible End of Federal Reserve

The Shamans Economic Solution: Why Failure is Imminent

What's the Real CPI Inflation Rate?

Kevin A. sent a link to page with an amazing wealth of links: Magazines (and Websites) About Homesteading and Self-Sufficiency

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Reader PD sent this: Fall in World 2009 Food Production

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F.G. sent us this: Powerful Ideas: Military Develops 'Cybug' Spies

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Bobbi was the latest reader to mention the reader-generated Cool Tools web site. I've linked to it before in the blog, but so many of their recent articles tie in to SurvivalBlog topics that it bears mentioning again. For example, the current Cool Tools review of the recent book How to Build with Grid Beam echoes my advice on building a very versatile stationary bicycle frame for generators, grain grinders, and even meat grinders. (Welding is a great skill that I consider a "must', but with grid beam, you can fairly rapidly reconfigure prototypes.)

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) mentioned that FerFAL in Argentina had a link to Jeffrey Kuhner's insightful article The Peron Pattern, in The Washington Times.

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a person but the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances - to choose one's own way. " - Victor Frankl

Tuesday, July 14, 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.

Reading accounts of people who had evacuated the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita was a sobering experience. Evacuees who took to the interstate highways effectively ended up in giant parking lots. In contrast, those who used the back roads fared much better and were able to evacuate in a timely manner. I live sufficiently inland that hurricanes do not pose a serious threat to me, nor do other foreseeable regional natural disasters such as earthquakes pose a serious risk. However, I live in the middle of a major metropolitan area where man-made disasters and localized natural disasters can and do happen. Similarly, a disaster can impair my ability to even get home. I also know from personal experience that even "normal" weather-related events such as ice storms can turn the major highways into near-parking lots, and knowing the back roads can save precious time.

Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers have come a long way since they were first introduced to consumers in the 1990s. My first GPS receiver, purchased in 1995, had no inherent map capability. It provided position (latitude, longitude, and elevation) information, along with a bearing while traveling. It had the ability to store way-points, and to record tracks for later review or backtracking. Way-points and tracks were displayable on the graphical display of the unit, but it only showed where you had gone or places where you already knew the coordinates. Using it to its full potential required that it be used in conjunction with a high quality map, such as a United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographical map. By the mid-2000s, GPS receivers with mapping capability became available for a reasonable price. Today, GPS receivers with mapping capability are available for under $100.

There are competing systems to the US GPS system. The Russians have their own operational global navigation satellite system (GNSS) called Glonass. The European Union is currently developing their own GNSS, Galileo, expected to be operational in 2013. And, the Chinese are promising to deploy their own GNSS, called Compass, announced to be operational in 2015.

Further, there are regional satellite based position augmentation services that improve the accuracy of GPS. In North America, the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) is operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Europe operates the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). Japan has the Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS). Other regional GPS augmentation systems are under development or being deployed.

This discussion is going to focus on hand-held and automotive GPS receivers - receivers I believe would be useful in an emergency situation. Hand-held GPS receivers run on batteries and are intended for outdoor use. Automotive GPS receivers are intended for use in an automobile, and provide turn-by-turn route navigation capability. Some hand-held GPS receivers have route navigation capability. I don't consider a GPS receiver that relies on a computer or PDA for display of data to be practical for emergency use since there are too many pieces to be forgotten, lost, or damaged in the "fog" of an emergency evacuation.

Many cell phones also have GPS capability, and while GPS-enabled cell phones are useful during normal times, they rely heavily on the cellular network to provide map and routing information, and should not be relied upon during an emergency when the cellular network may be overloaded or compromised.

Automotive GPS receivers

Automotive GPS receivers provide astonishing capability for their price, but they are not truly portable. For example, the TomTom ONE 125 unit has been readily available for around $100. It comes with a fairly detailed pre-loaded map of US streets and highways, and has a built-in lithium-ion battery which will power it for about three hours. It is intended to get its power from a vehicle. The map mode display is nearly as good as that provided by Google Maps which contributes significantly to its usability. More expensive units will provide larger displays, larger maps (e.g. all of North America), and more points-of-interest (POI) in the map database. (Several of the automotive GPS receiver manufacturers have started providing free or reasonably priced map update services for their road map products. This may or may not be important to you depending on how much the streets and roads change in your area of interest.)

Automotive GPS receivers are known for providing turn-by-turn directions from your current location to your destination. Destinations are either selected from the POI database, entered as a street address, or even entered as a latitude-longitude coordinate. Many reviews of automotive GPS units will complain that the unit does not navigate you to the exact address entered, but may be off by a house or two. My automotive GPS receiver misplaces my home address on my street - it appears to assume that addresses are numbered proportionally from 0 to 99 along the block with 50 being the mid-point of the block, and estimates the position along the street from the numerical address. I don't consider this a significant issue. My automotive GPS receiver is also capable of generating a route to a known latitude-longitude coordinate position, so long as that position is close to a street or road in its map database. However, it won't generate a route to a previously stored location hundreds of feet from a street or road, such as a location in the middle of a large parking lot.

Handheld GPS receivers

Handheld GPS receivers fall into several broad categories. Bare-bones units whose functionality consists of storing some small number of way points and the ability to direct the user back to one of these waypoints. Basic units whose functionally is not a whole lot dissimilar to those produced in the mid-90s in that they can record tracks and waypoints, and provide coordinate information. And, mapping units that have pre-loaded/built-in maps and usually have the ability to upload additional map information (many caveats here).

Bare-bones: I am only aware of one GPS receiver on the market with this limited feature set. This unit is the Bushnell BackTrack. It has the ability to store three waypoints set by pressing the "Mark" button when you are at a location you want it to return to later. There is no ability to enter waypoint coordinates. It provides a bearing and distance to direct the user back to one of the three previously stored waypoints. The bearing is displayed via one of 16 triangular points spaced around the perimeter of its round display being energized. The three-digit range is displayed in yards (or meters) or miles (or kilometers) depending on the magnitude of the distance to the waypoint. The BackTrack is intended to help a user return to their car in a large parking lot or find their way back to a hotel in a strange city. It may also be useful in helping a day hiker return to his vehicle, or helping a hunter return to a stand. I see little practical utility for a receiver with this limited capability in a SHTF scenario.

Basic: There are many basic GPS receiver models on the market, the most common being the yellow Garmin etrex (not to be confused with the many mapping etrex models). These models generally provide a compass display, velocity displays, position displays (latitude, longitude, and elevation), and can display a map-like plot of your route tracks and way points. They do not contain any type of base map. They have the same basic capabilities of units sold in the 90s, with updated hardware. They must be used in conjunction with high quality maps to be utilized to their full potential.

Mapping: There are many mapping GPS receiver models on the market. They range from units having a limited base map containing major roads, major streets, and larger bodies of water, to units that come pre-loaded with topographical maps for the entire US. Units containing a limited base map generally have memory for uploading additional map data. Some models use a memory card (SD, or micro-SD) to store the uploaded map data, and some models rely on internal memory. The big caveat is that map data can expensive - on the order of $100 for detailed maps of North America - and generally these maps cannot be shared among multiple units.

No matter how new the map, it will contain old and erroneous data. This is a frequent complaint in the product reviews of electronic map products.

Some hand-held mapping GPS receivers have routing capabilities. With the addition of routable maps, the receiver can function as basic automotive GPS receiver. It will beep and display a message to alert the driver/navigator of upcoming turns. At best, a hand-held mapping receiver is a compromise relative to an automotive GPS receiver due to the small screen size and lack of voice prompts. (Do not underestimate the value of voice prompts when traveling in heavy traffic or in a dense urban environment with numerous streets and exits.)

The Garmin user community has developed open source (free) map products using US Government data and other data unencumbered by use restrictions. For US roads, the Ibycus map is very nice, but lacks the metadata utilized by the routing software built into some Garmin GPS receivers. Further, there are open source topographical maps of the US derived from US government data. The Ibycus and topographical maps are available online from GPS File Depot.

There is another site (http://garmin.na1400.info/routable.php) that has routable street maps for Garmin GPS units. As of this writing, I have not tried the maps available on that site.

Some mapping units also have the ability to upload satellite images and other image data from the internet. I have not studied those units in any detail.


Supportability relates to the resources required to support the ongoing operation of the GPS receiver. For automotive GPS receivers, this means gasoline to power the vehicles within which they are used. For hand-held GPS receivers, this is largely its battery consumption. In anything other than a short-term emergency situation, I don't consider an automotive GPS receiver to be sustainable because of the dependence on gasoline supplies for its host automobile.

Currently marketed hand-held GPS receivers have widely varying battery consumption rates. Some are as low as 10 hours on 2 AA cells (many models), while others claim to be as long as 50 hours on 2 AA cells (Lowrance GO and GO2). Most hand-held GPS receivers use AA cells, while a few use AAA cells. Whether disposable alkaline batteries or rechargeable batteries are used, I am interested in units that have longer battery life. Further, I do not consider hand-held GPS receivers with built-in rechargeable batteries or a proprietary battery pack to be supportable since recharging the battery in the field would be impractical.

Mapping GPS receivers, whether hand-held or automotive, are generally dependent on a personal computer (PC) for map installations and updates. Some GPS manufacturers also sell their maps preloaded on memory cards for their GPS units that accept memory cards. Once map data is loaded onto the receiver, it can be utilized without further updates by a PC.

Position Accuracy & Chipset Sensitivity

The typical GPS receiver specifications will state a position accuracy of less than 15 meters (49 feet) RMS 95 percent of the time, or less than 3 meters (10 feet) 95 percent of the time with WAAS. WAAS is a system for North America with two geostationary satellites that transmit GPS correction information to dramatically improve the position accuracy of GPS receivers. (See the Wikipedia entry on WAAS for more information.) Most WAAS capable GPS receivers also support EGNOS and MSAS.

Even when GPS receivers have the same position accuracy specifications, receiver sensitivity and other design parameters make a big difference it the actual position accuracy. Position accuracy is a function of the number of satellites the GPS receiver can receive and the quality of the satellite signals. Three satellites are the minimum required to get a two-dimensional position fix, and four satellites are required to get a three-dimensional position fix. The more satellites that are received, the better the position solution will be. In practice, obstacles like mountains, buildings, or trees are going to attenuate the satellite signals and affect the position solution. But, software and chipset sensitivity also have a big influence on position accuracy.

Most GPS receivers sold now have WAAS capability, but just because the receiver is advertised as being WAAS capable does not mean that the WAAS feature actually functions. In 2007, the FAA moved their WAAS transmissions to new satellites. Magellan GPS receivers had hard coded the WAAS satellite data in the firmware for their hand-held GPS receivers, and many of these receivers did not transition to the new satellites. The firmware for many of their older hand-held receivers (pre-Triton models) can be hacked to update the satellite data and re-enable WAAS. As of this writing, WAAS does not work on the lower-end Triton models, and nobody has yet figured out how to hack the Triton firmware. The Lowrance iFinder GO receivers appear to have a similar firmware problem.

Not all GPS receivers have the same sensitivity. Chipset sensitivity is important. My mid-19s90s vintage GPS receiver has noticeably diminished sensitivity under many trees. In contrast, a modern high sensitivity chipset will pick up most satellites visible above the horizon, even when the signal travels through the brick walls of a typical residence.

So, how important is position accuracy? Well, it all depends on what you want to do with the receiver. If you are trying to return to a camp site, a one-hundred foot position error is probably close enough. If you are trying to find the location of a buried cache, one hundred feet probably isn't close enough. However, a position error of less than ten feet will probably be close enough to locate the cache.

Using Your GPS Receiver

Start up. When a GPS receiver is first taken out of the box or after it has been stored for several months (a "factory start'), it requires upwards of 15 minutes with a clear view of the sky to download the almanac and ephemeris data necessary to compute an accurate position. (Some GPS receivers come from the factory preloaded with almanac data, and if that almanac data is current the receiver can get a first fix out of the box in seconds.) Older consumer GPS receivers produced in the 1990s that do not have parallel receivers can take far longer (up to several hours) to produce an accurate position result from a factory start.

Subsequent power-ups of the receiver, after having been off for a few minutes ("hot start") to a few hours ("warm start") will produce an accurate position result in a few seconds to less than a minute if it has a clear view of the sky. If the receiver is left off overnight or for several days ("cold start") the receiver should produce an accurate position result in a minute or so if it has a clear view of the sky.

Antennas. Most consumer GPS receivers now have internal antennas. Some are patch antennas and some are "quadrifilar helix" antennas. The patch antenna is normally facing up when the GPS receiver is lying on a flat surface. The quadrifilar helix antenna is normally facing up when the GPS receiver is standing vertically. It is beneficial to know what kind of antenna your receiver has and the orientation of that antenna to achieve optimal results. Some owner’s manuals will tell you what type of antenna the GPS receiver contains or suggest how to hold the receiver for optimal performance.

For example, the Garmin etrex Legend and Legend HCx have patch antennas. In practice, I have had excellent reception having them standing up at about 60 degrees on the dashboard of my vehicle.

Satellite Status Page. Most GPS receivers have a satellite status page that will provide information about the position of the satellites in the sky and the relative signal quality from each individual satellite in the form of a bar graph. Some GPS receivers have a dumbed-down "normal" satellite status page, and an "advanced" page - you want to use the advanced page. When I have seen my estimated position error degrade or I get a "satellite signal lost" message unexpectedly, the satellite status page can be very helpful in determining the source of the problem. No signal from some satellites could suggest that their signal is being blocked by a mountain or a building. Uniformly low signal quality could be the result of the signal being attenuated by tree cover.

Roadway Routing. GPS receivers with routing capability  have preferences that allow you to select the type of route you want it to generate. Typical options are fastest route, shortest route, avoid freeways or highways, walking, or on a bicycle. Some receivers further have options for the type of vehicle (e.g. automobile, bus, truck) you are driving - this option can dramatically change the route generated. Most routing units will automatically recalculate your route to reach your destination if you deviate from the planned route (e.g. you miss a turn), unless you disable this option.

Updates. The major GPS receiver manufacturers occasionally make firmware updates available for those models that can connect to a PC if that PC has internet access. With rare exceptions, it is worthwhile to keep your GPS unit's software updated to the latest firmware version available from the manufacturer. These updates will correct bugs and may introduce minor enhancements.

Practice, Practice, Practice. Use your GPS receiver. Practice with it. Get to know how it works in different environments, how fast it starts up, how to navigate through its various menus. Figure out now how to mount it in your vehicle - windshield suction mounts work very well.

Paper Map and Compass.  A GPS receiver is not a substitute for a paper map and compass. GPS receivers, especially the mapping variety, are just easier and faster to use. Use your GPS receiver to help refine your map and compass skills. (You can also use your GPS receiver to help verify that your compass reads true by obtaining the coordinates of some prominent feature, and then computing the magnetic bearing from your compass test point to the feature. Yes, even a genuine military lensatic compass can be off by several degrees.)

For information about using GPS receivers with maps (specifically topographical maps), I'd recommend the book GPS Made Easy , by Lawrence and Alex Letham. While the book is directed at hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, it provides a good discussion, using real-world examples, about navigating with GPS receivers using topographical maps with different coordinate systems. The book is now in its fifth edition. The fifth edition omits a discussion about the use of a map and compass for backup navigation, in the event of GPS receiver failure, found in the previous editions.


I believe GPS receivers have a place in emergency preparations. While probably not useful in a long-term TEOTWAWKI scenario where the GPS constellation will most likely have failed, they certainly have a place in many SHTF scenarios.

I have used GPS receivers from several different manufacturers. For hand-held units, I have a definite preference for Garmin units – they work as advertised. If you get a Garmin handheld unit, I recommend that you go for a “high sensitivity” model that accepts SD or micro-SD cards for map storage, uses AA cells for power, and connects to a PC via a USB cable. The only caveat, and this applies to all manufacturers, is to avoid newly-introduced models. Give the manufacturer some time to work out the bugs.

For automotive GPS receivers, I have had the most experience with the TomTom ONE 125, which is TomTom’s low end model. TomTom’s more advanced models just add features to this basic model. The Garmin automotive GPS receivers are well respected, and I know several people who are happy with their units.

If you can get only one GPS receiver, get a hand-held mapping unit with routing capabilities (e.g. the Garmin etrex Legend HCx), and load a routable map package (e.g. Garmin City Navigator NT) onto it. A handheld GPS receiver can continue to serve you if you are forced to abandon your vehicle, or are otherwise forced to travel on foot. If you can get more than one unit, add an automotive GPS receiver from a major manufacturer.


Below I provide opinions of several currently available mapping GPS receivers that I've personally been able to use. My simulated forest canopy is my traditional single-story wood-frame house with asphalt shingles and a brick exterior. GPS receiver performance in my house is similar to that which I have experienced under a tree canopy. Position accuracy is verified by entering the coordinates provided by the GPS receiver into Google Maps with satellite images, and comparing the position plotted by Google with the actual location on the satellite image. Further, position accuracy is only measured after the GPS receiver has had sufficient time to download almanac and ephemeris data from the satellites. All of these GPS receivers perform well outside, including when placed on the dashboard of a moving vehicle.

Garmin etrex Legend: The Legend is a hand-held mapping GPS receiver with a high level base map that contains major streets and highways, larger bodies of water, and cities. The four-level gray-scale display is very readable under most circumstances, and it has a back light for night viewing. It has 8M bytes of memory for storing map data, which will not hold a lot of map data. Battery life is advertised to be 18 hours on two alkaline AA cells. I have not timed the battery life, but I have no reason to believe that the advertised 18-hour run-time is unreasonably optimistic. The GPS receiver chipset is not "high sensitivity" but I can pick up many of the visible satellites under my simulated forest canopy. This receiver also has WAAS capability, which dramatically improves its estimated position error. I have seen estimated position error values as low as 6 feet from this unit. In early 2009, this model was replaced by an upgraded model called the etrex Legend H, which utilizes a high sensitivity GPS chipset, has 24M bytes of map memory, and connects to a computer utilizing USB.

Garmin etrex Legend HCx: The Legend HCx is a hand-held mapping GPS receiver with a high level base map. The color display is very readable under most conditions, with an excellent back light for night or low-light conditions. It accepts micro-SD memory cards. Battery life is advertised to be 25 hours on two alkaline AA cells. It utilizes a high sensitivity chipset that picks up virtually all satellites in the sky under my simulated forest canopy. It is WAAS enabled, and can produce position solutions with estimated position errors under ten feet. It connects to a computer utilizing USB. The USB port in the unit can also provide power to the receiver in a vehicle if a cigarette lighter USB power supply is used.

With the purchase of the Garmin City Navigator NT map package ($100) and a 2 GB micro-SD memory card, routable maps can be loaded into the Legend HCx allowing it to function as basic automotive GPS receiver. It will beep and display a message to alert the driver/navigator of upcoming turns.

Lowrance iFinder Go2: The Go2 is a hand-held mapping GPS receiver with a high level base map containing major streets and highways, large bodies of water, and cities. The base map contains many smaller bodies of water not found in the Garmin base map. What makes this unit intriguing is an advertised battery life of 50 hours on two alkaline AA cells. The GPS receiver chipset is not high sensitivity, but it can pick up some satellites under my simulated forest canopy. This receiver also has WAAS capability, but this feature may not be functioning properly since I have not seen estimated position error values below 16 feet. While this unit has 64M bytes of storage, the manufacturer does not support upload of map data into this unit.

Magellan Triton 200: The Triton 200 is a hand-held mapping GPS receiver with a high level base map that contains major highways, larger bodies of water, and cities. After performing a necessary firmware upgrade, a significantly improved base map is loaded in the unit. The color display is difficult to read under many circumstances without the back light being turned on. With the back light turned on, the color display is beautiful. It has 10M bytes of memory for storing map data, which will not hold a lot of map data. Battery life is advertised to be 10 hours on two alkaline AA cells, which seems to be rather optimistic (6 hours is a more realistic estimate). It utilizes the high sensitivity SiRF Star III chipset, which picks up virtually all of the satellites in the sky under my simulated forest canopy. It is WAAS capable, but the WAAS capability may not be functioning (postings on several forums indicate it is disabled) since I have not seen estimated position errors below 13 feet.

The Triton 200 connects to a PC using a proprietary USB cable. However, there are many reviews, substantiated by my personal experience, indicating that many users have difficulty connecting their Triton GPS receivers to their computer. I could not get it to stay connected to my main computer long enough to even start the firmware update. However, it worked flawlessly with my wife's computer. (Note: My Triton 200 came with the USB cable, but the manufacturer's web site suggests Triton 200s do not come with the cable.)

TomTom ONE 125: The TomTom ONE 125 is a  basic automotive GPS receiver. It has a nice 3.5 inch color display. It provides voice prompts and warnings, but does not speak street names. It only contains street maps for the US. It has 1G byte of flash memory built into the unit for map and software storage. Memory is not expandable. The auto-route capability makes some surprising choices - choices I would not have made and that are not optimal based on my driving preferences. However, auto-routing will get you to your location. As mentioned above, this receiver is also capable of generating a route to a known latitude-longitude coordinate position, so long as that position is close to a street or road in its map database. Its GPS chipset is incredibly sensitive, capable of picking up virtually all satellites above the horizon under my simulated forest canopy. While I cannot find any information from the manufacturer stating that it is WAAS enabled, its performance and information displayed on the satellite status page lead me to believe it is WAAS enabled. It also has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that delivers the advertised 3 hour battery life. This GPS receiver is readily available for $100 - a tremendous bargain for the features it provides.

Definitions and Notes

Almanac and ephemeris data - Almanac and ephemeris data are used by the GPS receiver to precisely compute satellite positions, and hence your position. All GPS satellites transmit almanac data providing coarse information about the orbital position of all satellites in the GPS constellation. Each GPS satellite further transmits its own ephemeris data which provides precise position information about its orbit. The almanac data is generally considered to be good for several months, but is updated daily. The ephemeris data is considered good for only about five hours. Almanac and ephemeris data is continuously transmitted. Full download of the almanac data takes 12.5 minutes, after the receiver has locked onto a satellite signal. Each satellite retransmits its ephemeris data every 30 seconds.

Base (or background) map - A base map is the default map built into a mapping GPS receiver. The base map typically contains interstate highways, US and state highways, four-lane city streets, incorporated towns and cities, lakes and rivers, and shoreline information. The detail of the base map varies from receiver to receiver, and can be a differentiating feature between two seemingly similar receivers. GPS receivers are typically regionalized, and will be loaded with base maps for the region (e.g. North America) where the GPS receiver is expected to be sold.

Patch antenna - A compact flat antenna, with a metal "patch" positioned above a ground plane. The greatest sensitivity is perpendicular to the plane of the antenna. The typical patch antenna in a GPS receiver is less than one inch square.

Quadrifilar helix (or "quad helix" or "quadrifilar") antenna - A cylinder shaped antenna with four spiral elements. The greatest sensitivity is parallel to the axis of the cylinder. Modern quadrifilar helix antennas in consumer GPS receivers can be as small as 10 millimeters (3/8").

Selective Availability (SA) - A currently disabled feature of GPS designed to deny an enemy use of civilian GPS receivers for precision weapon guidance. SA was designed to intentionally induce errors of up to 100 meters in the unencrypted GPS signals available to civilians. SA was turned off May 1, 2000.

Recent news stories have reported with alarm that the GPS system could fail in 2010. The facts are that GPS Block IIF satellites being built are almost three years behind schedule, and that the probability of maintaining a 24 satellite constellation between 2010 and 2014 falls below 95-percent. The US Air Force's objective of having a minimum of four satellites visible 95-percent of the time may not be met. As a practical matter, this means that there may be occasions where insufficient satellites are visible to get a 3D position fix. However, there are currently 30 healthy satellites in orbit, and three older satellites that could be reactivated if necessary. The chance of the GPS system failing is infinitesimally small.

This author has no affiliation with any manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of any product mentioned in this article. All brand names and product names used in this article are trade names, service marks, trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. And, as always, your mileage may vary, so use this information at your own risk.

Last Sunday night my family drove home to the sight of a pillar of smoke that looked like it was coming directly from where my house should be. It turned out to be the next door neighbor’s home. The blessing is that no one was home, so no one got hurt. The downside is that no one was home so everything owned was lost. I mean everything – clothes, food, water pump, furniture, bedding, cash on hand, tools, toys, games, appliances, equipment, books – everything.

The Red Cross put the family in a hotel for a few days. But after that they came home with a rented shipping container that they are sleeping in. Did I mention they lost everything? The local churches have provided clothes, the neighbors are providing meals. The local funeral home director of all people is donating an old trailer as temporary housing. They will eventually rebuild. But in the short term it is a post-SHTF situation that we can all learn lessons from. Here are the top three:

#1 for me is a profound sense of gratitude and appreciation for everything I own that might have been lost had it been my home. We shouldn’t take our blessings for granted. The end of the world as we know it could happen on a personal level at any time.

#2 This is the opportunity to share supplies meant for starting over in a post-SHTF world. You learn by doing. No matter how much I thought I was ready, I failed to think through the details. For instance one of the things I gave them was boxed mac and cheese with a kettle to boil it in. They had no stove to cook it on, or milk or butter that the directions call for. My bad. I just didn’t think it through.

#3 Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I can not get over the idea that if my home had burned while we were away – they only possessions that we would have left would be what was stored away from home. If you don’t have a couple of caches. Get them in place ASAP.

Prayers for those in need are never wasted – thanks in advance for them, - Mr. Yankee

Wild Weather in Year Ahead, Scientists Predict

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North Korean Army Behind Cyber Attacks

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North Korea's Kim Has Pancreatic Cancer

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Care to predict a trend? Tiburon [California] may install license plate cameras. (Not to worry, folks. We've been promised that this is all for "public safety,")

"How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!" - Samuel Adams

Monday, July 13, 2009

The good news on H1N1 (commonly called Swine Flu) is that in current strains the death rate appears to be as low as 1 in 2,000 infections, at least in First World countries with modern hospital facilities. The bad news is that at least 60% of world's population is expect to contract the bug, and that further mutations are probable.

The Mutation Question

Mutations to less virulent strains are the historic norm for viruses but there is the risk of one that is very deadly. (To explain: in the grand scheme of things, a mutation with high lethality is is not good for a virus. Some, like Marburg and Ebola, have had strains that were so deadly that the hosts didn't live long enough to pass it along to a large number of new carriers. The most successful viruses are the ones that propagate well, but do not kill too many of their hosts.) We can surmise that the absolute "worst case" for H1N1 is that a much more lethal strain emerges, to be followed by a global infection, and a large-scale die-off. But again, that is the less likely outcome.

The Cytokine Storm Question

Up until recently, I agreed with SurvivalBlog reader "L. Jean" in England who in an e-mail last week noted that we were "still waiting to find out if it's a cytokine storm that kills or not." This is a determining factor whether young, healthy folks should try to boost their immune response, or whether that might make matters worse. Based on the latest literature, I believe that it is now safe to say that with H1N1 a cytokine over-reaction is indeed a substantial risk, and could be a bigger killer than the virus itself. So my updated advice is to continue to store immunity boosters, but not use them to treat H1N1 unless you are Imuno-suppressed. Otherwise healthy patients in ages between 18 and 50 should refrain from doing so. I have updated my article on influenza pandemics, accordingly.

The Immunization Question

There is a vaccine for H1N1 in development, but it has been put on a radically fast track for development and trials. This has raised concerns about contamination and efficacy. Since the strain chosen for the immunization is both a "snapshot" and a "best guess" about what strain will be circulating next winter in the northern hemisphere, and there will only be limited animal testing to rule out pathogenicity. So there are some critics that argue that the vaccine might pose more of risk than the flu itself. It is also noteworthy that the vaccination program will require multiple injections for each patient. In my opinion, it is not yet clear whether the risks will outweigh the benefits. For some of my readers this won't be a matter of choice. Both Canada and the UK have announced their intent to implement universal inoculation programs.

The Madagascar Question

In the well-known computer game Pandemic II, the president of the island nation of Madagascar is quick to isolate the country to prevent the advent of a pandemic. This has become a standing joke among gamers, and the term "Madagascar" has migrated into the epidemiology community. "Going Madagascar" is essentially slamming the doors shut, in the hopes of avoiding infection. (BTW, I know of at least two survival retreat groups that use "Madagascar" as their activation codeword, a-la the novel Alas, Babylon .) As I noted previously, the "worst case" for any virus is that a very lethal strain emerges, and rapidly spreads globally, as depicted in the novel (and television series) Survivors  by Terry Nation. The spread of H1N1 via modern jet air travel illustrated just how quickly this could happen. H1N1 has already spread throughout the United States. So I stand by my oft-quoted advice: In such an event you need to be ready and able to isolate your family for an extended period of time. Essentially, you would declare your homestead a mini-Madagascar and "button up" to wait for the virus to burn itself out. (BTW, I briefly describe the logistics of this in my article "Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic.") It is obviously too late and inappropriate to take extreme measures to isolate yourself from the current strain of H1N1, but we must remain vigilant for any new viral threats. The ability to "go Madagascar" is just one more reason to a have a deep larder!

Dear Mr. Rawles-
I am writing to tell other Survival Blog readers about a recent experience I had with an N95 mask (with no exhalation port.) My husband and I just bought a 30 year old single wide trailer with 30 years worth of dust, mold, and cat hair. After day of being in the trailer I could feel my allergies start to grow worse by the minute. To clean up the dust, cat hair, and other allergens we went to the local hardware store and rented a Rug Doctor to shampoo the carpets. While shampooing the carpets (which was a bit labor intensive) I wore an N95 mask and let me tell ya' it was an experience. After 30 minutes I felt like I was breathing in thick jungle air. After one hour I felt like I was going to pass out. After two hours I began to feel claustrophobic. If there are readers out there who think they are going to throw on an N95 mask when the swine flu hits their area and run from room to room while caring for sick and dying relatives/friends they better think again. My suggestion is to put on an N95 mask this afternoon, mow the lawn, rake some leaves, take the dog for a brisk walk and see how you feel afterwards. Having survival gear is great but if you have no real world experience with it then it's useless. Know your personal limitations and the limitations of your gear. God bless!

More prepped than ever for the swine flu, - Heather

JWR Replies: In my experience, it takes time to acclimate to wearing a respirator mask. There is no substitute for hours in a mask. Particularly for a full-face military mask, and even more so for a full MOPP suit, limited field of vision, dehydration, claustrophobia and sensory deprivation are well-known effects, but heat build-up up is also an issue, particularly in summer weather. In full-face masks, being deprived of prescription lenses is also an issue, unless you have a prescription lens inserts. (BTW, these hard-to-find inserts are available from JRH Enterprises.) Also be particularly wary of dehydration. Even with masks that include a drinking tube, most wearers have a tendency to drink less than usual.

The bottom line: Practice wearing a mask regularly, in a variety of activities.

Mr. Rawles;
Well, it happened without warning. Loud knocking on the door, insistent, and then again. A man from the local water utility was there, telling us late in the morning that we had a broken underground pipe that is flooding the neighborhood, and he is now cutting off our water supply.

We immediately called our plumber who arrived a couple of hours later with a crew to dig the big hole. The story, though, is how we felt with the water cut off: "Just fine, thank you."

Our preparations include:
1. Bottled water: 42 one-liter bottles, 75 half-liter bottles
2. 22 one-gallon and larger glass and plastic jugs filled with water and bleach drops added (glass sangria jugs with handles are the best)
3. Portable Katadyn water purification system
4. 30 water purification tablets
5. Family size water filtration system
6. 2 full rain barrels
7. 3 gallons plain bleach
8. 30,000 gallon in-ground swimming pool
9. Several cases of baby wipes
10. Many hand sanitizer dispensers

Naturally, the above consumables get rotated and replaced as needed. I'm not mentioning all the soda, juice, powdered drink mixes because those are extras.
I will mention that I grabbed one of those huge empty pickle jars, filled it with swimming pool water, placed it in the bathroom to use for flushing as instructed by a SurvivalBlog reader a few months ago. Thank you for this knowledge.

We had already made the two wash and rinse buckets with brand new plungers for washing clothes without electricity, as directed by another SurvivalBlog reader. What a great idea. We have a couple of old washboards, but the bucket idea is superior.

I now just need to get the hand wringer from Lehman's. In addition, another minor purchase will be one of those portable solar camping showers for bathing.

We weren't expecting this event, but it provided a nice dry run practice and had us thinking. We were without water for only a few hours, so the inconvenience was minimal. However, I can't begin to express the total calm and assurance that came from knowing that having the water cut off was really a non-event in our lives and that we were ready.

Many thanks to all the SurvivalBlog contributors who share so freely and to Jim for hosting the site.

Now, let's see how we do with a blackout. - Elizabeth B.

Swine flu shots at school: Bracing for fall return (Thanks for John in Ohio for the link)

A Sign of Things To Come? Argentine Banks Close to Help Stop Spread of the Swine Flu

School-Age Children to Get Vaccinations First

Swine Flu Deaths in UK Double as Country Now Has Third Highest Cases

Britain's first 'healthy' swine flu victim dies - the 15th fatality here in total

Obese Exposed as Swine Flu Collides with Fat Epidemic "An unexpected characteristic has emerged among many swine flu victims who become severely ill: They are fat. ... People infected with the bug who have a body mass index greater than 40, deemed morbidly obese, suffer respiratory complications that are harder to treat and can be fatal." JWR Adds: They are also prove difficult to transport to hospitals, and even just to draw blood samples.

I found this interview with the director of the president’s National Economic Council linked over at The Drudge Report: Lunch with the FT: Larry Summers.

Reader Don W. suggested an excellent piece at Pajama's TV by Bill Whittle: When Politicians Go Bad: From DC to New York & California The Government We Don't Deserve

Items from The Economatrix:

SEC May Put California IOU's Under Fraud Protection Rules

May Trade Deficit Unexpectedly Drops

With Assets Less Toxic, Banks Have Other Troubles

Stocks Post Fourth Straight Week of Losses

Banks Seen Ready to Join US Program that Revises Home-Equity Loan Terms

Roubini: Lost "Animal Spirits" Worsen Economy

Consumer Sentiment in US Falls More than Forecast on Rising Joblessness

Trouble For Treasuries Lurk as California Melts

House Dems Want to Tax the Rich for Healthcare

How Long Can the US Dollar Defy the Law of Gravity?

US Unemployment Claims: How Bad are the "Real Numbers"?

Marty Weiss: Day of Reckoning for California and Ultimately All of America

Lunatics at Nationwide Offer 125% LTV Mortgages as if the Housing Crash Never Happened

Bankrupt Banking System Bailouts And Stimulus: You Can't Borrow Your Way Out of Debt (Lots of charts and a nice list of where some of the stimulus money has gone) "Optima Lake is in line to receive $1.15 million in federal stimulus money to construct a new guardrail for a lake that does not exist. The guardrail is needed for “public safety,” says the Army Corps of Engineers, but there is not much of the public around to protect. Because the lake has never filled with water it is all but useless to potential visitors."

Inflation or Deflation? Make Sure You Get This One Right

Higher Minimum Wage Coming July 24th to 29 States. Coming at this time, it might create more layoffs.

Hawaiian K. suggested this piece by Mas Ayoob, in Backwoods Home magazine: How to shoot a handgun accurately

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In the most recent Dr. Housing Bubble blog: Westside Los Angeles: The Ultimate Prime and Stagnant Real Estate Market.

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Reader Paul P. offered a link to a thought-provoking piece on self-sufficiency in Sharon Astyk’s blog: Eat What You Grow, Grow What You Eat?

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Greg. C. suggested this piece by Chaz Valenza: Three Rules for Living Through the Second Depression

"Of all the wonderful things government says, that's always been just about my favorite [government spending creates jobs]. As opposed to if you get to keep the money. Because what you'll do is go out and bury it in your yard, anything to prevent that money from creating jobs. They never stop saying it. They say it with a straight face and we in the press will write that down. We will say, 'This is expected to create x number of jobs.' On the other hand, we never say that the money we removed from another part of the economy will kill some jobs." - Dave Barry

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I have to admit that I’m a bit of a “silver bug.” I became enamored with the metal when I was 16 years old. That was the year that OPEC first jacked up the price of oil. Silver sold for only $3.14/oz. then (per Kitco.) A more accurate way of saying it is that one dollar equaled about one-third of an ounce of silver back then.

Today one dollar will only buy about 1/13 of an ounce of silver (silver at $13/oz.) This implies that the dollar has lost about 75% of it’s purchasing power over the last 36 years, or that it will buy only about one-fourth as much of anything.

Silver has been used as a common, and trusted, medium of exchange (money) for thousands of years. The Greeks coined the silver drachma (about the size of a dime); the Romans coined the silver denarius; and the Americans coined the silver dime, for the first time in 1794 and for the following 170 years, off and on. From 1873 until 1964 the amount of silver in a dime stayed the same. Then suddenly, in 1965, it went to zero.

In 1964 a single shiny new silver dime would buy a 12-ounce bottle of Coke from a vending machine. Three dimes would buy a gallon of gasoline, or a pound of bacon.

In 2009 the same (not quite as shiny) 1964 silver dime will still buy a 12-ounce bottle of Coke from a vending machine, and three 1964 dimes will still buy a gallon of gasoline (with a little change to spare!) Of course you’ll have to sell it first for those nasty Federal Reserve Notes.

The official price of silver is posted on the Kitco web site. Lately the official price of silver has been low compared to what silver has been selling for on eBay. The eBay prices are typically about 20% higher than the official Kitco “bid” price. The eBay prices are the real, market-driven, prices people are willing to pay. For reference the “melt” value of a silver coin is the amount that its silver content is worth based on the official price of silver.

With that said, these are the typical values (in Federal Reserve Notes) of common US “junk” silver coins as of July, 2009:

Pre-1965 dime $0 .94 “melt” or about $1.13 on eBay
Roll of pre-1965 dimes $ 47.00 “melt” or about $ 56.40 on eBay

Pre-1965 quarter $2.35 “melt” or about $2.82 on eBay
Roll of pre-1965 quarters $ 94.00 “melt” or about $ 112.80 on eBay

Pre-1965 half dollar $4.70 “melt” or about $5.64 on eBay
Roll of pre-1965 half dollars $ 94.00 “melt” or about $ 112.80 on eBay

Pre-1936 silver dollar $10.05 “melt” or about $13 - $14 each on eBay

These prices assume that the coins are non-collectible common dates. In the case of silver dollars there is always a $3 - $4 premium over “melt” because of the numismatic value of the coins. This is for noticeably worn silver dollars. Nicer silver dollars command considerably higher prices.

If the price of silver falls to $ 12/ounce then simply multiply the prices listed by 12 and divide the result by 13. If the price of silver rises to $ 14/ounce then multiply the prices by 14 and divide the result by 13.

I recommend that every serious survival-minded person accumulate and keep a minimum of $ 100 (face value) of pre-1965 silver on hand. Next to bullets, food, and gasoline this is going to be the most important commodity one can accumulate.

JWR Adds: Here is some additional useful data for calculating the bullion value of circulated US silver coins:

90% silver bags ($1,000 face value in 1964 or earlier dimes, quarters and half-dollars) contain approximately 715 ounces of silver

40% silver half-dollar bags ($1,000 face value in 1965 to 1970 mint date half-dollars) contain approximately 296 ounces of silver

Thusfar this year I’ve canned 140 pints of meat and veggies. And more to go. I believe ready to heat and eat meals will be very handy when the Schumer hits the oscillating rotator. We grew the potatoes, garlic, onions, sweet banana peppers, and carrots ourselves. We buy whatever meat is the loss leader at the grocery that week. I am storing pasta separately. When we open a pint we will add cooked egg noodles. If one cans the egg noodles they get very mushy. I’ve been canning for some years now and have some serious advice. I opine that there are two human activities that require exquisite attention to detail: reloading ammo and canning food.

Data and equipment you will need: Ball Blue Book of Preserving ; one or more All American canners (these have a metal to metal seal) and spare parts for these; a Ball canning kit that contains a magnetic wand for lifting the hot lids from the boiling water, a jar funnel, a pair of tongs; all the pint jars (those made by Ball or Kerr pack better in a canner) that you can buy and store; extra lids. Why pints? Two reasons: less time required in the canner and one may pack more pints than 2x quarts in the canner. You need a very nice stock pot, I’ve a Piazza Professional that has a thick triple bottom. This distributes the heat much more quickly and evenly, vastly reducing any scorching of the food.

Now you need to ascertain how deep the stockpot needs to be filled to maximize the number of pints you are canning at a time. Remember that there should be 1 inch head space above the food when canning. So fill up the stockpot with the maximum number of pints you are able to put into your pressure canner with water that comes just up to one inch below the rim of the pint jar. Then measure in inches the depth of this water and put this info on a note on your stove. For my case, I do 17 pints at a time, and the stockpot needs to have the food 4.8 inches deep.

Now for the procedure:

First, read slowly and carefully the part of the Ball Blue Book on the overall procedure. My suggestions below are excerpts from the detailed procedure in the Ball Blue Book.

1. First put the pint jars, the jar funnel, the soup ladle, and a 6 cup Pyrex volume measuring device into the dishwasher. Place the jars onto the bottom rack. Add any other items to be dishwashed. Turn on the “heated dry” option. It takes me about 2.5 hours to get all the meat and veggies ready. If you wait about an hour to start the dishwasher then about the time the cycle is complete you will be ready to use the hot jars.

2. if the meat is about half frozen, half thawed, it is easier to cut and trim. First put ¼ inch olive oil in the stockpot (veggie oils provide essential nutrients). Then add chopped onion, chopped pepper (if you so desire), and finely chopped garlic. Do not heat yet. I cut the meat into small pieces, about a half inch in diameter. Add the meat to the stockpot. Now turn the heat on. At this point I add Mrs. Dash spice mix. Saute rather slowly as you prep the veggies.

3. Begin with the most difficult veggie to clean: carrots. I take the carrots from the ground and cut off 90% of the top leaves and stems, removing only the larger clumps of dirt. Place in 1 gallon ziploc plastic bags. They will store better in the refrigerator this way. Take them out of the refrigerator, put in a bucket in one side of your double sink. Add more than enough water to cover the carrots. Now using a very stiff vegetable brush, brush the carrots with a motion perpendicular to the length of the carrot. This will effectively clean most of the carrots, with the bits of dirt acting as an abrasive. Cut the top and root tip off, place in a pan filled with water. After all the carrots are in the pan, wash them several times. Then dice and wash again. Do not add to the stockpot, rather add to a chilled pan on your kitchen top.

4. Dice the remaining vegetables. Consider adding store-bought celery. If you’ve snap green beans, fresh corn, whatever, add them to the chilled pot.

5. when you believe you’ve enough diced veggies, place all of them into the heated stockpot, turn up the heat, add enough liquid (chicken stock is great) and chopped veggies to fill the stockpot to the measured depth. You want at least ¼ to 1/3 of the volume to be liquid. At this time begin heating the water in the pressure canner and the lids to be used should go into a small pot and heated to almost boiling on a low heat setting. Hopefully just as the mix in the stockpot comes to a boil the lids will be at the boiling point and the water in the pressure canner should also be boiling.

6. Place the jar funnel and the soup ladle into the 6 cup volume measuring device placed close to your stockpot. Place them back in this device between filling the pints. I fill the pints two at a time. I take two pints from the heated dishwasher and fill with the mix in the stockpot using the funnel and ladle just washed in the dishwasher. I often add a bay leaf and a couple of peppercorns to each jar before filling with the just-boiling mix. Make sure to leave 1 inch head space. All the veggies in each pint should be covered in water. Then I wipe the rims and outer threads with a damp paper towel, retrieve two lids from the boiling water with the magnetic wand, place the lids on the wiped jars, add the screw band and hand tighten about as hard as I am able. Then place the pints in the pressure canner.

7. When the pressure canner is filled with pints, carefully put on the lid and tighten down the screws, taking care that the space between the top of the canner and the lid is reasonably uniform. Then place the weight on the protruding orifice so that the 15 psi stamp is at the bottom. Then turn up the heat on the canner. Watch the pressure dial carefully. As it approaches 15 psi slowly reduce the heat so that it remains just below 15 psi. At this pressure a very small amount of noise will be made by the weight on the protruding orifice and a very little steam will escape. A pressure of 14 psi will suffice up to 8,000 foot altitude. At my altitude I need 11 psi, but go to between 14 and 15 as an added margin of safety. It is totally critical that the canner remain at the desired pressure for the entire time given by the Ball Blue Book. If one reduces the heat too fast, one may drop the pressure below the desired point.

8. After the Ball Blue Book time has elapsed, turn off the heat. Leave the canner alone. Do not mess with it in any way just yet. Note the time at which the pressure gauge has dropped to zero. Wait 1-to-2 hours after this time before opening the canner. If you do not wait this long, after you open the canner you may see steam and/or liquid escaping from the pints. This will generally result in failure to seal. Open the canner very carefully, holding the lid between the canner and your face. With a pair of canning jar tongs remove the pints and place onto a clean towel on your kitchen counter. Leave 2” air space between the pints. Now go make yourself some tea or coffee, go get into your rocking chair and rest. Do handle the jars in any way until the next day. Then I run hot water over the band, and using a flat rubber gripping device, remove the band from the jar and rinse the jar in hot water. Store the pints in the darkest coolest place you have that will not freeze. Write the year the pint was canned on the lid. Regards, - Holly

Reader Steve H,. sent an interesting quote from BHO: "But while our markets are improving, and we appear to have averted global collapse, we know that too many people are still struggling. So we agree that full recovery is still a ways off; that it would be premature to begin winding down our stimulus plans; and that we must sustain our support for those plans to lay the foundation for a strong and lasting recovery. We also agreed that it's equally important that we return to fiscal sustainability in the midterm after the recovery is completed." [Emphasis added.] Steve's comment: "I found that statement interesting, especially given that so many folks thought economic doomers and survivalists were way off base saying collapse was possible (I guess there is the outlying question of "what do you mean by collapse?"). While I hope things don't collapse, I get a "famous last words" feeling reading it." JWR Adds: And the reason that the collapse was averted was only because of a massive injection of liquidity, and a delay of implementation of strict accounting procedures. They are doing their best to re-inflate the debt bubble. The latest charade seems to be to create another bubble in derivatives trading of carbon credits. How long can they expect to keep this game going?

DD spotted this: More trouble ahead for housing

A piece from Market Watch, sent by regular content contributor GG: Latest Schultz Shock: a 'bank holiday'

Allison K. sent this: Michigan could hit 20% jobless rate

From RVC: China criticises dollar

Items from The Economatrix:

Small Investors are Hoarding Gold

Congress Warned Again About "Meddling" in the Fed's Affairs

Wally Benson: Hard Times

Shiny Days Ahead for Silver (The Mogambo Guru)

Readers Chuck and Garnet both sent this link: Potato famine disease striking home gardens in U.S.

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Safecastle Royal has added several new interesting products to their line, including a the new extra-large 8"-diameter Bury-'Em caching tube, the K8 Nuke Safeguard Mini Alarm, and a 12-can variety of pack of Yoder's canned meats.

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Chiming in on the recent discussion of transferring liquid propane between tanks, reader Chris M. mentioned: "Harbor Freight has an item with part #45989 for refilling propane bottles."

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Richard Fleetwood (of SurvivalRing) has announced a new "Preparedness Primer" CD set. This set includes 10 CD-ROMs with hundreds of digitized books.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; for my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will never be shaken.” - Psalm 62:1-2

Saturday, July 11, 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.

The Relevance of Procedures
In a disaster situation many things previously fixed become variable. Communications, supplies, security and many other aspects of civilized society that we often take for granted may quickly become mired down by inefficient or massive use. Equipped as we are with a survival mindset, many still succumb to the environment of pandemonium that evolves: we forget our training, misuse our equipment, and the pace of events overwhelms us. On top of these considerations, many interested in disaster preparation may not have a family or group that is equally well-versed in the nuances of survival situations.

Many organizations address these shortcomings through the use of Procedures. Corporations use Procedures to ensure that any new employee has the ability to step into a task with the ability to perform the necessary work. The military has developed and adapted Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for use in situations where soldiers require guidance or where logic alone may not lead to the performance of the appropriate actions. Procedures and SOP are ways to coordinate actions and ensure consistency and unity of direction. They are tools of continuity.

Bringing the Problem to Light
To understand the utility of procedures I present a hypothetical situation:

A local disaster or emergency has occurred. It is a Tuesday morning in the coldest month of December. In reaction to the disaster or emergency cell phone circuits are full, power is spotty or out altogether, major traffic arteries are congested or stopped, and law enforcement is stretched beyond capacity. You are at work 10 miles north of your home, your spouse is at work 10 miles south of your home. Do you know what to do to get home? Does your spouse know what to do? Does either know precisely what the other is doing at any point in time?

In this (albeit simplistic) example a lack of clear procedure leads very quickly to losing control of an already volatile situation. It is this lack of organization that causes panic and wasted effort, which ultimately endanger your personal and family security. Had this hypothetical couple developed procedures such as a communication plan they could have coordinated activities and exchanged information. If one of the pair was injured while traveling home a set medical plan could help mitigate the injury or inform the other where the injured is located. A logistical procedure may have exposed a weakness in supplies such as food or potable water that could be devastating during a protracted crisis.

If there is value in the security that organization provides then the need for procedural doctrine and tactics logically follows.

Procedure Categories
Procedures can take many forms to fit many different types of situations. Purely technical activities may include a step-by-step set of directions, dependant procedures may closely emulate flow charts, and dynamic procedures might simply be a list of suggested activities or responses. Procedures for realistic situations or activities will generally be a mixture of the three.

Procedure Category Examples:

· Technical: Changing a tire, purifying water, preventative maintenance checks on vehicles.

· Dependant: Collecting rain water, planting/seeding crops, getting additional medical assistance.

· Dynamic: Negotiating or bartering, giving charity, allowing access to secured areas.

Procedures also resemble manuals, how-to, and tip sheets. The primary difference is that procedures also provide a context and logically reasoned purpose for the activities. Think of them as a road map: knowledge of individual parts may be the map, but the procedure provides the route.

Procedures Borne of Necessity
Emergency procedures are driven by the most likely situations you may encounter. A useful practice in developing procedures is to identify your needs during an emergency and then to extrapolate from those needs the activities and responses which would allow you to maintain an acceptable level of security and organization. Then break those needs down to their most basic procedural elements and begin to clearly document each one. What should develop is a personalized manual for disaster response and survival, which only needs occasional updates as situations specifically cited in the documentation change.

Some common themes for specific portions of a disaster procedure include the following:

· Communications: This procedure set defines the types, frequencies, and content of communications in a disaster situation. It contains contingencies in case of a the breakdown of certain communication system types (cell phones, Internet, land lines), the frequency of communication attempts (when attempting to use cell phones you may attempt to call every two minutes for 20 minutes), and the content of messages sent (messages include the name, time, location, to and from destination, ETA / ETD, all or part of which might be coded).

· Medical: This procedure set may contain any number of items, such as treatment of common injuries or illnesses, nearby medical resources, transportation to advanced care as well as decision standards used to determine the level of care needed.

· Transportation: This procedure set includes transportation asset availability and use standards, as well as maintenance and associated items and requirements. It may include things like routes to common or expected locations, communications plans and times, checkpoints, and logistics along the route.

Maintaining Inventory
Lists or inventories of relevant items are an excellent thing to include with your procedures. For instance, your medical procedure set might rely upon knowing the approximate amount of items available, such as the number of splints, bandages, tourniquets, and medication. Perhaps your procedures trigger a re-supply when you have a certain amount of medication. You may opt to keep a master inventory with categories that allow you to discern with ease where items are expected to be used or needed. Keep an electronic copy of these procedures and inventories, but make sure to print out updates on a regular basis.

The Procedure Manual
Format of the procedure manual is also important. Use page sizes that make the booklet easy to carry, such as half of a standard piece of paper. At the end of each major portion include a few blank or lined pages for notes. Laminate the booklet and keep a stash of fine-point Sharpies and alcohol pens. Leave a larger edge on one side of the laminated pages, punch or cut holes in this then use rings to secure the pages together. If done properly this booklet will last through the elements long enough to remain useful in any emergency, as well as be modular enough to remove or replace sections as needed or updated. As with anything upon which you may have to rely, maintain operational security and keep informed.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

Pat C.'s recent post regarding the acquisition of prescription drugs in quantity includes many good thoughts. As a pharmacist of more years than I like to admit, I feel compelled to add to a few of Pat's points.

Pat mentions FDA restrictions on quantities of several types of medications, including some "powerful antibiotics, pain drugs, and highly abused drugs". I'm unaware of FDA restrictions on dispense quantities of any drugs, except regarding a very small number of drugs with unusually high-risk of adverse reactions. These few drugs would rarely come into play in stocking for calamities. The point that I believe Pat is driving at involves the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions on "Controlled Substances", which, as a matter of definition include drugs with addictive potential, such as the opiate analgesics (pain relievers), many anti-anxiety agents (Valium, Xanax, etc.), and the amphetamines and related substances used for treatment of ADHD. The Federal list of these agents can be found at the DEA web site, for those who have time on their hands and are not easily bored. Many states have added a few agents to their very own 10th Amendment (my attempt at humor) replication of the Federal list, so check with your local pharmacist about specifics. You don't want to come off looking like a drug seeker! The methods suggested by Pat will attract a lot of attention if you innocently try to apply them to, say.... Tylenol #3 (acetaminophen with codeine - a Controlled Substance under Federal regs).

Also, Pat's statement, "some generics don't work as well as branded drugs" may breed confusion. Though there will be endless opinion-driven debates over this topic, the science, the FDA, and the overwhelming medical opinion at this point is that generic drugs rated as "therapeutically equivalent" to the innovator (brand name) product, can be used interchangeably without harm. Again, if you want specifics, you can Google (or, as I prefer, Scroogle) "FDA Orange Book", where you will find all of the products that are "AB rated", and thus approved (at least by the FDA) for interchange. Or, again, ask your pharmacist. Practically all commonly-available generic products are now listed as equivalent.

Okay...so I'm biased (I'm a pharmacist), but you may come off better asking your pharmacist about which tablets you can cut, than to ask your doctor. I think that I can safely say (without offending my friends that are medical doctors) that we pharmacists have a lot more time to study such things than most doctors!

Just my 2 cents worth! As always, thanks for all you do to help us live fuller live! - SH in GA


Dear Mr. Rawles:
Regarding yesterday's article "How to Build a Deeper Supply of Prescription Medications", I would like to suggest an alternative source for low cost prescriptions. When I was without medical insurance, I purchased prescription medications from AllDayChemist.com. This company is located in India. My experience was very good. My prescription cost $12/pill in the US, and $4/pill from India. The quality was fine, the service was great. They charged a flat fee of $25 to ship the package by air. Once I was comfortable with the quality and service, I started ordering larger quantities to amortize the shipping cost.

Best Regards, "+P+"


Hi Jim,

Just a note on how I got around this. I take a medication for GERD (a symptom of which is painful heartburn). I take one pill a day and my medical insurance will cover 100 pills at a time, and won't let me get any refills before the 100 days is almost up. Around here, all pharmacy computers are linked to insurance companies, so there's no way anyone could do what Pat C suggests in her article, unless it was ordinary OTC drugs. Anyway, I only pay $2 for prescription drugs, and a lot more otherwise, so I was heavily motivated to figure something out. So what I did was I told my doctor that 1 pill/day isn't always enough, depending on what I'm eating, and asked if she could raise it to two pills per day? (Sometimes this is true anyway). She did, and now every time I go I get twice as many pills. As long as I remember to go get refills every 100 days, I'll be able to build up a nice supply. This doesn't work for a lot of drugs, as dosage is critical in some things, but it worked in this case. GERD is one of those things where you just keep upping the dosage until it goes away (to a point, and I'm well below that point).

BTW, I cautiously asked my doctor about prescriptions for other types of medications, such as antibiotics, just to have on hand in a medical kit. In a word, she said "no". - RL in Ontario


I can tell you as a retail pharmacist for a chain store that we do have linked data bases from state to state, but it is only within the chain itself.
A couple of thing you might want to considered when getting your physician to write that six month prescription is to have him write for a total quantity of ______# of tablets (fill in the blank with the total number of tablets you will need for that six months of medication). This will avoid problems with pharmacists who are limited by state law to dispensing only what the doctor writes for. In other words if your Dr, writes for 30 tablets they can only fill for that 30.

As far as tablet splitting, some good points were brought up. I'd just like to make sure every one understands that if a tablet is not scored do not try to split it. Pharmaceutical sales people have told me that manufacturers do not guarantee an "even mix" in unscored tablets.

Also don't forget to take advantage of any special transfer offers (such as $25.00 gift cards) that are being offered for transferring prescriptions between companies and the $4 prescriptions being offered by Wal-Mart, Krogers and Rite Aid. Many companies will also match these prices if you ask. (But you must ask.) - D. S. in Georgia


Mr. Rawles;
Many insurance companies allow you to purchase a 90-Day supply of prescriptions by mail at a cost that is normally much less then three individual 1-Month prescriptions. We have been participating in this program for years and have saved several thousands of dollars. - CaBuckeye

Among the books listed by the recent "favorite books" survey respondents was the US Army Special Forces Medical Handbook (ST31-91B). This book is obsolete and has been supplanted by the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook.

The best summaries as to why the one is obsolete I've found are:
“That manual is a relic of sentimental and historical interest only, advocating treatments that, if used by today’s medics, would result in disciplinary measures,” wrote Dr. Warner Anderson, a U.S. Army Colonel (ret.) and former associate dean of the Special Warfare Medical Group.

“The manual you reference is of great historical importance in illustrating the advances made in SOF medicine in the past 25 years. But it no more reflects current SOF practice than a 25 year-old Merck Manual reflects current Family Practice. In 2007, it is merely a curiosity.”

“Readers who use some of the tips and remedies could potentially cause harm to themselves or their patients.”

JWR Adds: The new manual is a massive 680 pages. Here is the table of contents:

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Zoonotic Diseases Chart
Infectious Diseases
Preventive Medicine
Veterinary Medicine
Nutritional Deficiencies
Mental Health
Dive Medicine
Aerospace Medicine
High Altitude Illnesses
Cold Illnesses and Injuries
Heat-Related Illnesses
Trauma Assessment
Human and Animal Bites
Burns, Blast, Lightning, & Electrical Injuries
Non-Lethal Weapons Injuries
Basic Medical Skills
Lab Procedures

Thanks, - Frankie

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning the new manual! I have updated both the survey results post and the SurvivalBlog Bookshelf page, accordingly. OBTW, I have had difficulty finding an original copy of the new manual at a reasonable price. The copies that are presently listed on Amazon are "secondary market", at grossly inflated prices. But the good news is that the GPO also publishes a paperback edition for $59. I would prefer the military 9.7" x 6.4" edition that is three-hole punched (and hence will lay flat when open--making it a better "working" reference), but the GPO paperback edition should suffice. There are also electronic editions available for PDAs and Windows for $73, and for Palm PDAs for $60. The SpecialForcescom online store sells a smaller 7.5" x 4.75" format edition (a bit harder to read), but they do sell it in combination with a CD-ROM.

"Welcome to a depression. Not such a bad thing, really. Just a period of adjustment...a time for fixing, re-organizing, downsizing, and mending. There's a time to every purpose under heaven. This is the time to take stock and shape up.

But wait again. It doesn't feel like a depression. Where are the soup lines? Where are the Okies packing up and moving to California? Where are Ziegfield Girls, the Civilian Conservation Corps and Eleanor Roosevelt? How come this depression's not in black and white?

Well...because this is a 21st century depression. This depression is in living color...and it comes to a world that is much richer than the world of the 1930s. Besides, it is just 1930...not 1932. Give it time." - Bill Bonner, The Daily Reckoning

Friday, July 10, 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.

Most well-prepared individuals with chronic health conditions want to keep a deep supply of medications on hand, in the event of disaster that would disrupt normal chains of supply. Medical insurance plans typically have a 30-day limit on the amount of medication that can be obtained at one time. There are various reasons for these limitations - medical complications, FDA regulations, and cost-containment by your insurance company. However, there are ways to get around these limits and build a deeper stock of meds as part of your survival

Multiple Scripts

Ask your physician to write several prescriptions, each of which authorizing six refills for each drug you need. You might have to explain why you need such a large supply so be ready with a non-political story - your rural location, concerns about getting snowed in, bridge or road washing out, extensive travel outside the US, etc. Then, go to different pharmacies to fill each script. Do not go to different locations of the same chain because the chain likely has a central computer that will flag multiple purchases of the same medication in a short period of time. Tell the pharmacist at each drug store that you want the whole batch filled at one time. You'll probably have to pay out of pocket for the drugs but you'll end up with a good supply of meds that you can start to rotate to keep your stock within the expiration dates. If you belong to a health plan and the pharmacy is a contracted provider of your plan, then you should get the discounted price for your order even though the plan won't cover more than a 30-day supply. Ask the pharmacist about that.

Multiple scripts that authorize several months of refills will work for most drugs but the FDA has strict dispensing controls on certain meds such as powerful antibiotics, pain drugs, and highly abused drugs like Vicodin,Xanax, and Adderall. It is unlikely that your doc will write a script beyond the FDA-approved limits - it's illegal. He'd lose his license to practice and could even go to jail. So don't push it - if he says something about FDA limits, respect the situation. Even if you did get such a script it's unlikely that you could find a pharmacy to fill it - it's illegal for them to do so.

Generics Versus Branded Drugs

To keep your costs down, ask your physician for a generic version of each med as opposed to a branded drug. Branded meds are protected by Federal patents which is why they are so expensive - no other pharmaceutical company can market a branded drug until the original patent expires. (It was the Reagan administration that extended drug patents.) Branded meds typically have cute names like Allegra, Celebrex, Lipitor, and Valium. Generic drugs are copies of branded drugs that are no longer under patent and usually have a chemical name such as Ampicillin or Hydrochlorothiazide. Wal-Mart now offers generics for $4 for a 30-day supply; I recently heard of a major drug chain that will fill a 90-day supply for $10. At these low prices, it's cheap enough to bypass your insurance company and pay out-of-pocket, which eliminates one level of control.

Some generics don't work as well as branded drugs and many meds are only available in branded form (the patent hasn't expired yet.) so you may have to stick with branded drugs even though they are more expensive. However, beware of "new and improved" branded drugs. Often, that means that the original patent has expired and the drug is now available as an inexpensive generic. Not wanting to lose its lucrative monopoly on the medication, the pharma company makes a slight change in the original formula and then files for a new patent. Several major branded drugs such as Lipitor will soon be off patent so do your research and ask your pharmacist.

Pill Splitting

Many drugs are available in different dosages, many of which come in tablet form that can be split in half. If you take a 20mg dose of a certain medication and a 40 mg pill is available, ask your physician if the pill can be split. [by cutting it in half at a grooved line--properly called a "score".] If so, then have the doc prescribe the 40mg dose which can be split in half, doubling your supply. Combined with the multiple script strategy outlined above, you'll have a nice stock of meds, each of which is double your actual dose. This works for both generic and branded meds but is of particular use if you need expensive branded drugs that you have to pay for yourself.

There are two important cautions about splitting your meds:

1) You must ask your physician about this since not all pills can be split. For example, some pills have time release coatings; if split, the dose is released into your body too quickly which could be dangerous or even result in death. Also, splitting doesn't work with capsules. Ask your doctor before splitting pills.

2) Do not split pills until just before you need them. Keep them sealed in their original containers or packets and store in a dark, cool place. Keep them from freezing. Pull only enough pills from your stock for the next 30 days or so. Split one pill at a time, as needed.

Canadian Pharmacies

You can also order meds through Canadian pharmacies which offer lower prices than US outlets due to strict governmental price controls up there. I am unsure how large a supply they will fill for each order but I suspect that you could obtain several months at one time. However, you have to make sure that you are ordering directly from a Canadian pharmacy. There are many Internet sites that claim to be Canadian pharmacies but it's impossible to know for sure whether you're working with a legit outlet or a crook in Nigeria or the Ukraine. Do not respond to e-mails about cheap drugs - most of those are fronts for identity theft rings - they want your credit card number. Others will send you meds beyond their expiration date or even fake pills that are perfect reproductions. Beware of scams, especially with anything you'll be putting in your body. If you are anywhere near the Canadian border, make the trip in person once or twice a year so you can personally visit the pharmacy and talk to the staff.

Adding to the understanding of yesterday's fine article "Net Producer-Net Consumer Equations for Self-Sufficiency: Getting Out of the Pit", there is some serious historical data that your readers should be aware of. The Ludwig von Mises Institute has posted a book called "When Money Dies" on the experiences of the hyperinflation of the Weimar [Republic of Germany], which reads like headlines out of today's newspapers. Remembering that history never repeats, it always rhymes, many of the underlying themes -- the differences between country and city -- will likely be similar. Because governments also have access to the same historical information, they will try to find new ways to distort the economy to the detriment of their citizens. An excerpt:

"Only the country people were surviving in Germany in any comfort: anyone who lived off the land had the readiest access to real values. It was not surprising that even when they ensured that the money receipts for their goods were no more than equivalent in purchasing power to what they were used to, they were accused of extortion — the more so if they delayed the sales of produce in the full knowledge that prices would be higher the longer they waited. Erna von Pustau went to stay in the country and asked her hosts bluntly what they were doing with all the money they were squeezing out of the townspeople. They replied candidly that they were paying off their mortgages. The principle of Mark gleich Mark (Note: this was German government propaganda to try to convince citizens that Paper Equaled Gold -- a complete fantasy as the printing presses ran non-stop) had helped agriculture enormously: for the country people, landowners, farmers or peasants, life had started again. At the end of August 1922 when the mark passed 2,000 to the dollar — 9,000 to the pound — a mortgage of seven or eight years' standing had been 399/400ths paid off. When Frau von Pustau returned home the talk in the family was about prices going up, about the credits which had to be reduced, about the middle-class party, about big business and the workers who always asked for more … The contrast between country and city was so enormous that it cannot be understood by people who have not lived through it."

The cities will definitely become very, very uncomfortable and insecure places to exist. Best Regards, - CK

Argentine Businesses Hit By Swine Flu

Swine Flu Vaccine Likely to Be Ready in Mid-October

Swine Flu on Main US Afghan Base

Canada: Tamiflu Resistance In Saskatchewan

Jonesy sent us these last two flu items:

Tamiflu Resistance in San Francisco
"The case suggests swine flu - a form of influenza Type A, subtype H1N1 - is capable of not only developing drug resistance but also spreading between humans in that resistant form, said Dr. Arthur Reingold, professor at UC Berkeley School of Public Health."

"[The] patients in Japan and in Denmark were taking Tamiflu prophylactically [as a preventive measure], said Dr Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of the WHO... But the San Francisco teenager was not, which gives her case added significance, Reingold said, because it suggests she caught the resistant variant from somebody else."

And directly from WHO: Tamiflu Resistance in Hong Kong, Japan, and Denmark

"These viruses were found in three patients who did not have severe disease and all have recovered. Investigations have not found the resistant virus in the close contacts of these three people. The viruses, while resistant to oseltamivir, remain sensitive to zanamivir."

"All other viruses have been shown sensitive to both oseltamivir and zanamivir."

"Therefore, based on current information, these instances of drug resistance appear to represent sporadic cases of resistance. At this time, there is no evidence to indicate the development of widespread antiviral resistance among pandemic H1N1 viruses."

GG flagged this Forbes article: Nouriel Roubini: "Brown Manure, Not Green Shoots"

Several items from Reader DD:

Buffet's wants another stimulus

GM on the road again

Another retailer bites the dust

Oil speculators under pressure

Hawaiian K. sent word of a grim statistic: Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 0.6 Percent in May from April

Items from The Economatrix:

US Apartment Vacancies at Historic High

565,000 New Jobless Claims
"Lowest new claims since January" However, "Continuing claims, meanwhile, unexpectedly jumped to a record-high."

Retailers Report Weak June Sales

Goldman Sachs Loses Its Grip on its Doomsday Machine

Nation's Banks to Stop Accepting California IOUs After Friday

Mortgage Fraud Report: Burn After Modifying

Double-Digit Doom (The Mogambo Guru)

A New Bull Market In Silver Bullion Argues Case for Higher Prices

Watchdog: Stimulus Spending Short-sighted
"Federal government is pushing out stimulus faster than expected. But states are using it to plug immediate gaps, rather than undertake long-term reforms."

Is "Sea-burn" a topic of interest to you? Richard H. mentioned that Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Information Analysis Center (CBRNIAC) has a newsletter that is available for free distribution.

   o o o

Reader Sandra E. suggested: " You can buy 500+ coffee filters for as little as $1, and a box of 500 takes up little space and is lightweight. They can be used for toilet paper, paper towels, filtering things other than coffee. Also, if you're growing in flower pots or buckets with drain holes, put 1 or 2 filters in bottom of pot,and this allows water to drain but keeps soil in pot. Coffee filters also make good 'flimsy' paper plates for sandwiches, snacks, and popcorn.

   o o o

Brian W. pointed me to this Peak Oil Blues blog post: A Few First Steps for Prep!

   o o o

Wayne sent me a bookmark for a site offering videos on canning, gardening, herbs, bread making, et cetera.

"History is not merely what happened; it is what happened in the context of what might have happened. Therefore it must incorporate, as a necessary element, the alternatives, the might-have-beens." - Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regis Professor of Modern History; Oxford University, valedictory address 20 May 1980; quoted in History Today, Vol. 2, Issue 7, July 1982, p. 88

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Please refrain from trying to have me join you Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other social networks. Getting more than 150 e-mails per day is overwhelming, but an extra 20 to 30 e-mails proclaiming that "John Smith is following you on Twitter" is distracting to to point of annoyance. I don't respond to any of these requests. I simply don't have twime to tweet. Thwanks!

In descending order of frequency, the 78 readers that responded to my latest survey recommended the following non-fiction books on preparedness, self-sufficiency, and practical skills:

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery (Far and away the most often-mentioned book. This book is an absolute "must" for every well-prepared family!)

The Foxfire Book series (in 11 volumes, but IMHO, the first five are the best)

Holy Bible

Where There Is No Dentist by Murray Dickson

"Rawles on Retreats and Relocation"

Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens

The "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course

Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival by Jack A. Spigarelli

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon

Tappan on Survival by Mel Tappan

Boston's Gun Bible by Boston T. Party

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth

Survival Guns by Mel Tappan

Boy Scouts Handbook: The First Edition, 1911 (Most readers recommend getting pre-1970 editions.)

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency by Matthew Stein 

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition by Abigail R. Gehring

Preparedness Now!: An Emergency Survival Guide (Expanded and Revised Edition) by Aton Edwards

Putting Food By by Janet Greene

First Aid (American Red Cross Handbook) Responding To Emergencies

Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens

Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearney (Available for free download.)

Cookin' with Home Storage by Vicki Tate

SAS Survival Handbookby John "Lofty" Wiseman

Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables by Mike Bubel

Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen

Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide by Carol Hupping

The American Boy's Handybook of Camp Lore and Woodcraft

Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton

98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive by Cody Lundin

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth

Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss

Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management by Maurice G. Kains

Essential Bushcraft by Ray Mears

The Survivor book series by Kurt Saxon. Many are out of print in hard copy, but they are all available on DVD. Here, I must issue a caveat lector ("reader beware"): Mr. Saxon has some very controversial views that I do not agree with. Among other things he is a eugenicist.

How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier

The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman

Tom Brown Jr.'s series of books, especially:

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking

Tom Brown's Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants (Field Guide)  

Total Resistance by H. von Dach

Ditch Medicine: Advanced Field Procedures For Emergencies by Hugh Coffee

Living Well on Practically Nothing by Ed Romney

The Secure Home by Joel Skousen

Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikesby Cody Lundin

The Last Hundred Yards: The NCO's Contribution to Warfareby John Poole.

Camping & Wilderness Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book by Paul Tawrell

Engineer Field Data (US Army FM 5-34) --Available online free of charge, with registration, but I recommend getting a hard copy. preferably with the heavy-duty plastic binding.

Great Livin' in Grubby Times by Don Paul

Just in Case by Kathy Harrison

Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearney (Available for free download.)

How to Survive Anything, Anywhere: A Handbook of Survival Skills for Every Scenario and Environment by Chris McNab

Storey's Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance by John & Martha Storey

Adventure Medical Kits A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicineby Eric A. Weiss, M.D.

Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable Green Resource for Every Gardener  

Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook (superceded the very out-of-date ST 31-91B)

Wilderness Medicine, 5th Edition by Paul S. Auerbach

Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Longby Elliot Coleman

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition by Abigail R. Gehring

Government By Emergency by Dr. Gary North

The Weed Cookbook: Naturally Nutritious - Yours Free for the Taking! by Adrienne Crowhurst

The Modern Survival Retreat by Ragnar Benson

Last of the Mountain Men by Harold Peterson

Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills: Naked into the Wilderness by John McPherson

LDS Preparedness Manual, edited by Christopher M. Parrett

The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century by James H. Kunstler

Principles of Personal Defense - Revised Edition by Jeff Cooper.

Survival Poaching by Ragnar Benson

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses by Eliot Coleman

I recently did a study of prices (food and gasoline) comparing the costs in the early 1960s with 2009 prices for the same items.  I chose the early 1960s because that was the last time 90% silver coins were in circulation.  It was common back then for people to go into a grocery store or gas station and pay for purchases with a few quarters or dimes.  The prices were that cheap back then.

For my 2009 food prices I looked at the prices in my local Safeway store in Portland, Oregon.  I was careful to only look at the regular prices, not the “sale” prices.  The problem one typically runs into when making price comparisons is that many of the food items have been reformulated or repackaged into different-sized containers.  There is a also a much larger variety of items available today.  To circumvent these problems I focused on items that I can remember seeing back in the 1960s.  (I’m giving away my age here.)  They were mostly name brand items that many people avoid today precisely because they are so expensive.

Government-paid economists often fudge the numbers by making excuses that the products under study have changed or that people will choose to substitute less expensive goods for the ones they formerly bought when the prices go up.  That’s clearly cheating!

I stuck with the name brand items so that the comparisons would be fair and honest.  I made sure that I studied only foods and brands that were commonly available both in the early 1960s and today.  Most meat, produce, and dairy products easily fit the criteria.  So does regular gasoline.  This way we have an accurate picture of how much food or gasoline a silver quarter or dime would buy then, and now.

For the purpose of this discussion I will limit the list to just the following 20 common items:

Year of Ad


Cost Then




Oz. Silver Then



Cost Now


Oz. Silver Now


Qty./Oz. of Silver.


Sliced bacon (Oscar Meyer)














Mazola oil (24 oz.)














Land O' Lakes butter














Beef, sirloin steak














Kielbasa (Polish sausage)














Cheerios cereal














Beef, chuck roast














Pork chops (thin sliced)














Flour (Gold Medal)



5-lb. bag

























Del Monte peaches














Potatoes (russet)



10-lb. bag











Eggs, large














Beef, ground














Regular gasoline












4.8 gal.
















Chicken (whole fryer)














Green (bell) peppers









































Notice that I have priced the items both in dollars and in ounces of silver.  The prices (in dollars) are deceptive because, on average, prices for these 20 items have increased eightfold since the early 1960s!  The prices in silver tell the truth.  In most cases the prices (in silver) are somewhat comparable.  Many items even look “cheap” now, in silver terms.  That implies that the price of silver is too low.  But, that’s the topic of a different discussion.

Two columns show the prices in silver terms.  The column all the way to the right shows how many of each item may be purchased today with a single ounce of silver.  This is a useful table because, if the paper money completely fails, one can rely on the table to price foods and gasoline in silver.  One ounce of silver buys four pounds of pork chops, for example.  The same ounce of silver buys close to five gallons of gasoline or 22 pounds of bananas!

It’s easy to see that as little as 20 ounces of silver could take a family of four 1,500 miles over the highway while feeding them all along the way.  If the dollar goes all the way bad you are to find a store that’s open along the way you might be able to convince the manager to accept some pre-1965 90% silver coins because he would recognize them for what they are (real American money.)  The pricing is all you would have to haggle over.

Many people love the old (pre-1936) silver dollars.  It would probably not be difficult to convince a store manager to let you have a couple of pounds of ground beef, a loaf of bread, a bag of potatoes, and a box of Cheerios for one silver dollar!

New climate strategy: track the world's wealthiest. This is the sort of fallacious logic that foments envy, and inevitably class warfare. Yes, Americans do use a disproportionately large portion of the world's natural resources. But we also create correspondingly more with those resources. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the US is tremendous. Here is an illustration. (California, just by itself is the sixth largest economy in the world.) Consider this: Why does Kenya Airlines have Boeing 747s in their fleet? Because someone in America builds them. Could those planes be made in Kenya? No, because they have neither the expertise nor the manufacturing infrastructure. Is this situation somehow "exploitive"? No! As my old friend "Jeff Trasel" says: "Please don't tell me that I somehow magically 'owe the world' more because my 'carbon footprint' is larger. Well, so is my productivity!" I agree with Jeff. Carbon footprint calculations and swaps of carbon credits are nothing but voodoo economics and socialist scheming.

Credit delinquencies hit record high. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

G8 Still Sees Economy in Peril

True Unemployment Rate Already at 20%

The MOAB continues to grow: Dem Senator: Second Stimulus Probably Needed

California's Nightmare Will Kill "Obamanomics"

FDIC Insurance Fund: It Doesn't Actually Exist

US Consumers Fall Behind On Loans at Record Pace

How Wrong Can You Get? (The Mogambo Guru)

Bartering catches the attention of the mainstream media: Make Purchases Without Cash

Abandon Ship
(The Mogambo Guru)

US Stocks Drop, Sending S&P 500 to Lowest Level Since April; Exxon Falls

Morgan Stanley Plans to Turn Downgraded Loan CDO into AAA Rated Securities
[JWR Adds: I think that they should dub this new unit their Silk Purse Transformation Division]

G-8 Spars Over Stimulus, Leave "Exit Strategies" Open

Yuan Deposes Dollar on China's Border in Sign of Future for Global Trade

Dems Split on Stimulus as Job Losses Mount, Deficit Soars

“Keep your revolver near you night and day, and never relax your precautions.” - Advice of Sherlock Holmes to his close friend Dr. Watson, circa 1889, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in The Hound of the Baskervilles

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Several readers have asked why I chose the Battle of Bennington Flag as the low key "OPSEC" identifier for SurvivalBlog readers. This was merely because that flag pattern is uncommon enough to stand out, yet it is nothing too controversial. (Versus, for example, a "Don't Tread On Me" rattlesnake flag!) The Bennington flag does not have any particular historic significance vis-a-vis preparedness. But the flag looks cool, and after all, at Bennington, part of Burgoyne's army got trounced.

By popular demand, I've just added Bennington Flag window/bumper stickers to my CafePress Stores. (They are also available by the 10 pack or 50 pack, at near my cost.)

In a recent phone conversation with one of my consulting clients, I was asked why I placed such a large emphasis on living in the country, at a relatively self-sufficient retreat. I've already discussed at length the security advantages of isolation from major population centers in the blog, but I realized that I've never fully articulated the importance of self-sufficiency, at a fundamental level.

In a societal collapse, where you are in "You're on Your Own" (YOYO) mode, it will be very important to be a net producer of water, food, and energy. This will mean the difference between being someone that is comfortable and well fed, and someone that is shivering, hungry, and thirsty, in the dark.

If you were to create computer models of a typical suburban home as compared to a small farm, they would probably present two very different pictures:

A typical suburban home is an energy pit. It generates hardly energy other than a bit of garden waste that could be used as compost, or fuel. A farm house on acreage, in contrast, can often be a net producer, especially if the farm includes a wood lot. (Standing timber that is suitable for use as firewood.) Properties with near-surface geothermal heat, coal seams, or natural gas wells are scarce, but not unheard of. I've helped several of my clients find such properties. For some further food for thought, see this article by Lester Brown over at The Oil Drum web site: The Oil Intensity of Food

A typical suburban home is a food pit. Just picture how many bags of groceries you tote home each week, month, and year. Compare than with the net volume of food produced by a small farm, or the meat produced by ranch. (For the latter, a ranch that is large enough to produce its own hay and grain is ideal.)

A typical suburban home is also a water pit, dependent on utility-piped water. But with a spring, or with well water and a photovoltaic or wind-powered pump, you can be a water exporter--charitably providing surplus water to your neighbors.

There are are of course some work-arounds for these limitations, such as installing photovoltaic power systems and rainwater catchments cisterns. But it is nearly impossible for a family to be a net producer of water, food, and energy, when living on just a small city lot.

Consider the inherent limitations of life on a "postage stamp" lot:

Limited acreage means that your house will always be a net importer of home heating fuel. Unless you live on acreage where you have a wood lot for firewood, you'll end up on the wrong side of the production-consumption equation. Photovoltaics are practical for lighting and running some appliances, but the big energy loads like space heating, hot water, and kitchen range cooking exceed what PV panels can produce, unless you are a millionaire. Yes, there are substitute energy sources, but most of those--such as propane-but those-are also "imported." Hmm... Perhaps it is worth the extra time and effort to find a retreat property that has a natural gas well, a coal seam or that is in a geothermal zone. At least buy a property with a wood lot, so you can heat your home and water with firewood.

Limited acreage and a location inside limits usually means restrictions on raising livestock. You might find a property that has been exempted or "grandfathered", but without the room required to grow animal feed crops, you will still be a net importer. (You will be forced to buy hay and grain, rather than grow it yourself.)

In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to have a private water well in a neighborhood that is served by a public water utility. This usually has more to do with maintaining a monopoly, rather than any genuine worries about a public health issue. There are of course exceptions, such as older houses with wells, that pre-dated the advent of a water utility. In many jurisdictions, the owners of these wells benefit from grandfather clauses. If buying such a property, make sure that the grandfather clause exemption is transferable. (Otherwise, you will have to cap the water well.)

One of the great ironies of urbanized life in modern-day America is that there has been a great inversion. In 1909, it was dirt poor farmers that lived on acreage, while wealthy people lived on city lots. But now, in 2009, owning acreage is something that most people only dream of, for retirement. In the more populous coastal states, the price per acre of land that is within commuting distance of high-paying jobs has been driven up to astronomical prices.

Have you ever stopped to think why there are large Victorian-style houses falling into disrepair in some Inner City ghettos? This is because at one time, those neighborhoods are where rich people lived. They were nice, safe neighborhoods, and were conveniently close to work, shopping, and schools. But times (and neighborhoods) change. These days, most of the wealthy have long-since moved to suburbs or to the country.

If you decide that you must stay in the suburbs, then I recommend that you at least relocate to a stout masonry house that is on the largest lot that you can afford. When you search through real estate listings, some key phrases to watch for are "creek", "grandfathered", "mature fruit trees" (or "orchard"), "secluded", and "well water." Another key word to watch for is "adjoins". It is advantageous to own a property that adjoins park land.

As I've often written, I recommend moving to a house on acreage in the country--that is if you can afford it, and your work and family situations allow it. But I'll close with one admonition: Don't bite off more than you can chew. There is no point on living on acreage if you have a large mortgage, and no working capital remaining to build up the infrastructure for genuine self-sufficiency. In fact, that would be "the worst of both worlds", since you would have higher commuting costs, a bigger mortgage, and perhaps even a bigger annual tax bill. Owning non-productive land may be worse than owning no land at all.

You mentioned the liquid propane dual-fuel vehicle, and said "...if you have a large home LP tank". So, how do I get the gas from the large tank, to the vehicle." Is there a pump or some sort of device? Thanks, - Brad S.

JWR Replies: There is no need for a pump. Draining liquid propane from a tank, is a self-siphoning process. Talk to your propane delivery man. Tell him that you want to be able to refill your barbeque's 20-pound tank from you main tank's liquid withdrawal valve. The adapter fittings are made of brass, and fairly hard to find--but propane company employees know where they can mail order them. For a detailed description of what you'll need, see this thread, at an RV Owners' discussion page.

Four Britons Die From Swine Flu; Tips to Help You Fight the Flu "Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I've previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of all kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu -- not the flu virus itself."

Argentines question government as flu spreads

Swine Flu Worries Spark Cambridge Jail Riots

Northern Hemisphere Bracing for Fall Flu Carnage

Explosion of Swine Flu Deaths in Argentina

Homeless People Die After Trial Bird Vaccination In Poland

Reader Paul W. forwarded this piece over at Real Clear Markets: Get Ready for 14 Percent Unemployment

GG sent this Wall Street Journal article: Big Banks Don't Want California's IOUs

DD sent us four articles on unemployment:

Unemployed fighting for their benefits

A map of weekly unemployment benefits by state and current unemployment rate by state

Low income families turning to outside sources to help with necessities

Retailers to lay off more workers

Karen H. also sent us another raft of articles:

Migrants are going to Britain, come hell or high water. "Gazing across the Channel in the direction of the white cliffs of Dover, Amir Gul stood on Calais beach and imagined himself on the other side - and living the dream that has brought him 3,500 miles from Afghanistan."

G8 days numbered? "The Group of Eight industrialised powers, ineffectual in the face of the worldwide finance crisis, is slowly losing its grip on the global economy and now faces calls for its abolition."

Debt Burden Quickens Power Shift as G-8 Loses Clout. “Different countries are pulling in different directions and that is, I think, quite troubling,” said Niall Ferguson, a history professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The uncoordinated response is “one of the classic symptoms of a global crisis.”

U.S. Home-Equity Loan Delinquencies Set Record in First Quarter

U.K. Factory Output Unexpectedly Dropped in May. "The recovery is not yet “guaranteed,” the British Chambers of Commerce said today, as rising unemployment in the U.K. and around the world threatens to prolong the worst global slump since World War II. Today’s U.K. manufacturing report comes two days before the Bank of England decides whether to continue its program of buying assets with newly printed money. "

An interesting link for keeping up with Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filings

Items from The Economatrix:

401(k)s as Dangerous as the Dollar Get your money out of 401(k)s now!

Calls Grow to Supplant the Dollar as Global Currency

Peter Schiff: An Obama Speech, Debt and China

South Korea to Buy Gold, Expecting it to Replace Dollar

Gold Could Shoot Through $1,000 if China Shifts Away from US Treasuries

Jobs Data Bodes Ill for the Future

How Bad Are Auto Sales? 10 Questions and Answers

A Goldman Trading Scandal?

Celente: Some Major Trends Forecast

Ed L. suggested this Wall Street Journal article: Guns N' Grosses: Arms Makers Fall Back From Obama Surge. Methinks the next year represents a window of opportunity to stock up on guns, full capacity magazines, and ammunition at a discount prices--before MOAB-induced currency inflation kicks in, or worse yet, new civilian disarmament legislation is enacted. I recommend that you systematically round out your firearms battery , preferably with cash purchases from private parties at gun shows.

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Be sure to visit Bill Buppert's new blog, titled Hezekiah Wyman

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Steve from Philly spotted this interesting piece in a Maine newspaper: Pay attention when chitchat turns to ammo shortages

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Tamara, from the always entertaining and decidedly hoplophilic View from the Porch blog, pointed me to this fascinating piece on old-time technology: Retro Tech Days.

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.” - Mark Twain, in a letter, 1908

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I was a disgusted to see the large number of U.S. flags being waved at Fourth of July celebrations that were marked "Made in China." The bitter irony of this is almost indescribable, especially when you consider that a good portion of Chinese merchandise for the American consumer market comes from laogai ("Reform Through Labor") prison factories. Do America a favor, and buy yourself an American-made flag. OBTW, I've chosen the "76" Battle of Bennington flag as the official "OPSEC-conscious" flag for SurvivalBlog readers, to identify themselves to fellow readers. And, also BTW, I just had one of my kids create Battle of Bennington Flag logo T-shirts, hats, mugs, and tote bags to add to my CafePress store, for the same purpose. (For those readers that consider it too "high profile" to wear a "SurvivalBlog" hat or T-shirt.) By wearing either a SurvivalBlog logo, or the Bennington Flag, you may providentially meet folks in your town that are fellow SurvivalBlog readers.

Dear Jim,
I don't know if this applies to folks in the US, but it may be something for UK readers to consider. My main vehicle is equipped with both petrol and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) tanks, and I will also be installing an LPG system on my secondary vehicle. There are two main advantages to this:

1. LPG is less than half the price of petrol, and although you get a third less mileage than you do using petrol, it still works out cheaper - in fact, in the UK, you can get the installation costs back in around 18 months. Also, burning LPG as fuel is cleaner and greener. I buy mine from the farm supplies company around the corner, which is even cheaper still.

2. With both petrol and LPG tanks full, I can drive around 550 miles (on English roads, which have far more bends and stop-starts than US roads) without refuelling, even though my main petrol tank is only 15 gallons. That's a big advantage. Two things to note: always deplete the LPG first, as the vehicle needs petrol to start; and the amount of LPG you can get in the tank depends on the temperature; the warmer it is, the more the gas expands in the tank and the less liquid you can get into it, which will affect your mileage.

There is a minor disadvantage in that places that carry LPG are not as common as regular fuel stations, and sometimes they're tucked away on industrial estates - sometimes they are a tank in a farmyard! We keep a log of where known ones are, and we have a [GPS] sat-nav with LPG stations listed on it for traveling further afield. Most of the places we use are unmanned, and require a special key to operate, so if power is still working, the pump will still give you LPG. Perhaps that disadvantage could be an advantage in a SHTF situation.

I'm looking to devise a method of filling the vehicle tank/running directly with bottled LPG as a further fall-back. Blessings, - Luddite Jean, in England

JWR Replies: There are road tax issues, but propane conversion kits are readily available in the US for older "pre-smog" aspirated gasoline-engine cars and trucks, as well as more expensive conversions for newer fuel-injected engine vehicles. Used conversion kits for pickup trucks, usually complete with fuel tanks often come up for sale on eBay. And a few complete and running propane vehicles are also sold on eBay Motors. Used utility company trucks that are propane-powered or even dual-fuel occasionally get sold at auction yards. Watch the auction listings closely. Once in a blue moon, you will find a dual-fuel vehicle that is also a four wheel drive. If you find one like that, that is in good shape at a reasonable price, then jump on it!

I highly recommend getting at least one propane-fuel vehicle, especially for any readers that already have a large propane tank at home.

Hi Jim,
Some older neighborhood houses [in the Pacific Northwest] have large oil tanks for heating under driveways, in basements, and buried under yards. Last winter, we saw our neighbors run dry during a rare 2-week snow/ice event that even chained fuel trucks couldn't get around in. Portland and Seattle are notoriously under-prepared for ice/snow on roads, and actually have a "intentional neglect policy" of letting it melt without salt/de-icer rather than clearing the roads. Prepare to walk on uncleared pavement and stay around home!

If the predictions of temporary global oil over-supply are correct and fuel oil drops to around $1.50/gal, filling or topping-off a 600 or 1,000 gallon tank at that price would be a prudent thing to do with any extra money in the budget or even savings beyond the 6-month emergency reserve. Over-supply and clearance-pricing will be temporary as OPEC and others throttle back expensive drilling and pumping operations while the supply chain clears and prices return to "normal".

Even if a person is a renter, having a full heating fuel tank is a good thing. Some rental contracts make heating the building and a maintaining a minimum heating fuel level a requirement. The fuel in the tank remains the property of the renter, minus the amount that was there when they moved in (or language in the rental contract), and can be sold to the landlord, next tenant, or sucked up and moved by an oil company truck for a fee.

Filling before heating season allows plenty of time for sediment to settle in the tank before drawing it into the in-line filter ahead of the burner. Anecdotal commentary by furnace service men indicates that furnaces that run on mostly-full tanks have fewer burner problems than those that use "bottom of the tank" fuel. Farm and trucking supply houses have "fuel polishing" additives/fungicides and pump/filter systems that keep tanks and fuel clean that might be safely added to a home storage tank system. Being able to fill a five-gallon can of stored/filtered Home Heating Oil from a valved-spout in the basement might be useful at some point in the future [, since Home Heating Oil can be substituted for diesel fuel, in extremis]. Cheers, - Karl in Portland, Oregon

Dear James
Regarding Matt R.'s letter, I have been a survivalist and self-sufficient minded person most of my adult life. I live at my retreat in a prime western state. I have been reading your site for the last 18 months. I have learned some new useful information (never too late to teach old dog new tricks) from your site. I have also purchased quite a few supplies from your advertisers.

For most scenarios my home/retreat is a perfect place to be if the SHTF and I can just stay home. However I do not like to have all my eggs in one basket. I have three very different SHTF plans. One of my contingency plans is to get out of Dodge using aircraft. I keep a Cessna 206 in my back yard. My back up location is remote and has a place to land the plane. I was surprised by the pilot [in the subsequenty-posted letter] who so negatively responded of the use of aircraft as a get out of Dodge mode of transportation and strongly disagree with a lot of what he said.

I made my living for the last 30 years as a bush pilot, flying everything from Piper Super Cubs to DC-6s. I have flown over 12,500 hours as Pilot in command operating in the USA, Canada and Africa.

Cessna 172 Aircraft as a G.O.O.D. Vehicle
A 172 would not be my first choice in a plane to get out of dodge but the C-172 could carry the pilot along with one passenger and 300 pounds of gear nonstop for 400 miles. For some scenarios a C-172 or similar aircraft could be a life saver. [JWR Adds: I agree. It would be great if every pilot that reads SurvivalBlog owned a Pilatus Porter, but alas, we live in the real world, where budgets demand compromises. OBTW, one fairly inexpensive upgrade is having a spare set of extra large "Tundra" tires. These will greatly expand the improvised airfield possibilities of many high-wingers..]

I would not rely on any one plan to work if SHTF but for 1 of 3 contingency plans a small aircraft could be just the ticket. During a local disaster or to get to your well stocked retreat a C-172 or similar plane could save the day and be the best transportation option.

A 172 will land very short, a lot shorter than it can take off. In a worst case scenario for one trip to get to your retreat the pilot may not care if the plane ever takes off again. I have landed and taken off on thousands of beaches, roads, gravel bars, ridge tops and every other unimproved surface that you can think of. There are a few books, videos and specialized classes for bush flying that a pilot can learn from but it takes years to become proficient in off field bush flying. But even the average pilot has many options to land off airport. Just be honest with yourself and fly within your ability. The biggest hint I can give any pilot for off airport landings is check out the landing sites from the ground before attempting a landing. Fly over your retreat and look for possible landing sites, then land at the closest airport drive/walk to the prospective landing site, check the approach, escape routes etc. before you ever attempt to make a landing. If you are not 100% positive you can safely land do not attempt it and go find another spot. It would be better to walk an extra 10 miles to your retreat than be ½ mile from your retreat with a broken leg!

Auto Fuel in Aircraft
Auto fuel will work fine in any piston aircraft and most turbine powered aircraft for a limited time. Many Piston aircraft including 172s can legally use Auto fuel for private use. There are three issues with using auto fuel in piston aircraft.

First you need to make sure the auto fuel is clean and free from all water and particles. This is easy to do, just buy a MR Funnel (around $50) that has the micro screen filter in it and run the fuel throw it. If you have any concern let the fuel settle for ½ hour then run it through the filter a second time.

The second issue in using auto fuel is the engine life over the long term. Auto fuel will/may reduce the engine life of piston aircraft engines. How much will the life of the engine be reduced is hotly debated among experts. 0% -50% reduction in the life of the engine is the range the different experts claim. Piston aircraft engines are designed to go 1,400 to 2,000 hours between overhauls so even losing 50% of the engines remaining life should not affect a plane in a SHTF situation where you have to get out of Dodge.

The third issue is auto gas with ethanol is hard on aircraft hoses and gaskets and seals and will reduce the life of a bladder type fuel tanks. Again this is a long term affect and for a few flights and should not affect the safety of a flight. But if you let auto fuel with ethanol stay in the aircraft system it could cause big problems in certain aircraft.

To be legal the use of Auto Fuel in any aircraft the specific plane must have been approved for auto fuel and you must follow the STC. In a true emergency a few fights using clean auto fuel in a aircraft will have no affect. In many Third World countries that I have worked Avgas was not always available so we would occasionally be forced to run a tank or two of auto gas in our piston aircraft.. If you are using auto fuel in a plane that has 8.5-1 compression pistons keep the mixture a little rich and run the max power setting 5% below normal and you will be fine.

I operated DHC-2 Beavers and Piper PA-18 Super Cubs a on a steady diet of auto gas for years. The Piper Super Cub uses the same engine as most 172s. On one occasion I have even used auto fuel in a Twin Otter with PT-6 turbine engines.

If the plan is to use a plane to get out of dodge the biggest problem pilots may face is navigation. These days most pilots rely on nav aids and never practice using only a chart (map), compass and stop watch. In the last 15 years I have not checked out one single commercial pilot or flight instructor that could use a map and compass well enough to pass my company’s standards.

If you plan to use a plane in a SHTF situation be prepared for all navigation aids including GPS to be off line. I suggest using a Map and compass and practice that a lot. In a SHTF situation if you count on nav aids you are very foolish. Most pilots that have learned to fly in the last 20 years are not able to navigate worth a hoot using only a Map and compass and are way too dependant on nav aids. I suggest anyone planning to use a plane in a SHTF situation pre fly the route as often as possible while times are good. Take a chart and highlight the whole route. Make notes as to what the actual compass heading is that you need to stay on course. Have a check point every 5 miles and learn to recognize them. Have the average time it takes between check points written on the chart. Fly this route at both altitude and low level as the check points will look totally different. Practice your route without nav aids so you get use to using the compass and stopwatch.

Avoiding Small Arms Fire
As for getting shot out of the air by small arms fire that is unlikely. The part of the world I now work our planes get shot at a lot by small arms fire. It is rare that a plane ever gets hit. If you are 5000’ above the ground small arms fire will not hit you. The danger is the climb out and the descent. A very steep spiral or figure 8 descent will drastically reduce your chances of getting hit. A power off setting during a descent is very quiet and will not attract attention from very far. It can be hard on the cylinders because of shock cooling but in a SHTF situation do you really care.

The most vulnerable time to get hit by small arms fire is takeoff and climb out. The trick here is to wait for a clear night and perfect VFR conditions. Take off early morning just before first light so you will be at altitude just as it is getting light. People with small arms cannot hit what they cannot see so if it is a SHTF situation remember to leave all the aircraft lights off.

Another technique that can be used is to stay as close to the ground as possible ([as little as] 25 feet AGL) [in flat country] for the flight. This limits exposure and does not give people on the ground much time to react, locate and fire at you. Using the low flying method you must never fly near the same route twice as the second time you fly that route people on the ground will recognize the sound know a plane is coming and will be ready. A second low level run is far more likely to get you shot. I do not recommend this for most pilots and do not attempt the low level flying unless you have been trained for low level operations.

James, Please Keep Up The Good Work! You are providing a fantastic service and giving a tremendous amount of good sound advice. - Old Dog

Eric S. spotted this: Grow 100 lbs. of Potatoes in Four Square Feet: How To

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MacLean's (Canada's most popular magazine) reviewed One Second After by William R. Forstchen: So your bank account’s wiped out; Given our massive debt load, this fictional apocalyptic scenario’s not looking that bad.

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DD spotted this: Live off the land -- in the city; Wild greens, mushrooms, fruit and even fish and game can be harvested in America's urban jungles. Dandelion salad, anyone? Or some batter-fried squirrel? That is ingenious, but if and when the Schumer Hits the Fan, but even less than 1% of the urban population would rapidly decimate any available wildlife within walking distance.

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From KAF: Knoxville-Based Tradingo.com Wants Your Stuff; Web entrepreneurs TJ McNamara and Scott Scheinbaum hope to turn online bartering into a moneymaker. Can they pull it off?

"Be not deaf to the sound that warns!
Be not gull'd by a despot's plea!
Are figs of thistles or grapes of thorns?
How should a despot set men free?
Form! form! Riflemen form!
Ready, be ready to meet the storm!
Riflemen, riflemen, riflemen form!" - Afred Tennyson, "The War"

Monday, July 6, 2009

I receive several e-mails each day from readers asking whether the currently-unfolding economic depression will be inflationary or deflationary, whether it will last long, and whether or not the US Dollar will be supplanted by a new currency. My answer is simple: "All of the above." Back in early 2008, I warned that a depression with simultaneous inflation and deflation was possible. As I've mentioned several times in my blog, here in the US we are likely to see a continuation of the current gradual deflation followed by a period of mass currency inflation. Plan accordingly.

Try to start looking at prices in terms relative value. In a world of hyperinflation where everyone is a millionaire, absolute prices area almost meaningless, but watching relative prices and values is crucial. For example, a loaf of bread and a gallon of gas have sold for roughly the same amount, since the late 1970s. This outlook on prices is what I call The Rhodesian View. To explain: Those who have lived in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) since before the change of government eventually learned to adjust their conceptions of "price" and "value". This new outlook was necessitated by the destruction of the national currency by Comrade Mugabe. His hopelessly inept and horribly corrupt government embarked on a systematic looting of the country, which included mass inflation that later became hyperinflation. At one recent point, the Zimbabwean dollar was inflating so rapidly that it lost half of its value each few hours. (An annual inflation rate of more than 200 million percent.) Similarly, nine years of hyperinflation and multiple currency recalls in Argentina had the net effect that to buy what had cost 1 Peso in 1983 would have cost the equivalent of 100,000,000,000 Pesos in 1992.

After having been accustomed to a very gradually eroding dollar for so long, it will be difficult for may people to adopt the Rhodesian View. Once inflation sets in, nearly all assets denominated in dollars will suffer horribly. This will be particularly true for dollar deposit accounts, and pensions. Those folks that don't adapt quickly will get blind-sided by inflation. Some investments like stocks will be re-valued and still retain some value because of the intrinsic value of the underlying assets (such as company's inventory, equipment, land, and facilities). Thus, they might be able to "keep up with inflation", at least in the early stages of an inflationary spiral. But most other dollar-denominated investments will be wiped out in a mass inflation.

Now lets's look at the prospects for mass inflation in the US: Say, for example, that in 2007 your house's value peaked at $350,000, but on paper it has subsequently lost $100,000 in value. (So it is now valued at $250,000, even though your property tax assessment might erroneously still show its value somewhere north of $300,000.) Fear not! Mass inflation will "restore" the dollar value of your house in just a few years. But the bad news is that shortly thereafter, inflation will be galloping along so rapidly that $250,000 may buy just one typical automobile. And then perhaps a year after that, $250,000 will only buy you a bicycle. And then perhaps less than another year later, $250,000 will only buy you a loaf of bread. Be ready, folks, and adopt the Rhodesian View of economic reality. Keep informed, be flexible, and shelter you assets in barterable tangibles! Granted, we may see no more than 20% inflation in the next few years, but the snowballing effects of mass inflations are impossible to predict. Once the psychology of double-digit or triple-digit inflation sets in--namely the anticipation of continued inflation--it becomes virtually self-perpetuating, often continuing beyond a corrective change of monetary policy, (Ben Bernanke may shout "stop help presses" (and raise the prime rate and restore the bank reserve requirements), but the paper chase may continue for many months.

I've said this often in SurvivalBlog: The time has come to begin sheltering part of your net worth in practical tangibles. These include firearms, common caliber ammunition, precious metals, full-capacity firearms magazines, high quality tools, and productive farm or ranch land that can double as a survival retreat. Once inflation kicks in, prices set in dollars will become almost meaningless, and saving "money" will become a pitiful joke, as the dollar's value melts in the fiery furnace of inflation.

Start thinking in terms of relative value, potential usefulness/productivity, ounces, and gallons, instead of dollar digits.

Get used to bartering. It is a valuable skill that will become crucial in the next decade. Practice barbering now, rather than after a crisis begin. (Learn from your mistakes now, while the consequences are small and not life threatening, rather than later, when the consequences could be much greater.)

Develop savvy about precious metals. Buy the references and tools you'll need be able to spot fakes. Practice calculating relative values. You must get handy with a pocket calculator and some standard references. (I have several listed later in this post.) For example, you should be able to calculate the values of a one ounce silver "trade dollar" round versus pre-1965 silver quarters versus a box of of .45 ACP 230-grain ball ammunition. And, with just the knowledge of the day's closing New York spot prices for silver and gold, you should be able to quantify the number of 90% silver dimes that would equal the value of 10 gallons of gasoline or the gold contained in a 1/2-ounce Gold Canadian Maple Leaf or a 2-Franc French "Rooster" or a Swiss Vrenelli. Does this sound daunting to you? If so, then you need to study and practice!

As you build up your stockpile of barter goods, you must simultaneously build your knowledge base about barter goods--especially ammunition, guns, fuel, canned foods, and precious metals--since those will all be sought-after, in a monetary crisis. Assemble a reference library that can serve you both for establishing the authenticity of goods, and for establishing their relative values. Be sure to print out some useful data and weight conversion formulas, and keep those pages in a reference binder. In my estimation, if you don't already have your own copies of the following books at home, then you are behind the power curve:

In closing, remember that it will take time and practice to get accustomed to dealing in a barter economy, and thinking in terms of real value rather than "dollars". In times when dollars are like grains of sand in an hourglass, tangibles will represent a fixed yardstick. Take the time to practice bartering now, when the stakes are low. Start attending gun shows, coin shows, antique shows, and flea markets. And be sure to gather those key reference books now, while they are still readily available. Someday, you may be very glad that you did!

Just a comment on the bit about the sheds for bug-out retreats.
I have designed plans for a number of such shed sizes, as well as living quarters for larger barns.

A couple things to mention, one, is that if you do a sloped shed roof on your shed instead of a peaked roof...from the air, it looks like a loafing shed for your critters, this is in case it is in a
more rural farm like area, instead of timber country. Another thing, the window problem: On our barn (which we are building living quarters in right now) the front door and a nice sized window can be covered by using a large barn-type slider that covers the [man] door and window. And or you can use regular dutch doors or livestock slider doors to make it look like an outbuilding. We have two windows, one for the bathroom that is actually behind the top half of a dutch door and then the front door and window that is covered, when need be, by the barn slider.
I actually designed a 16' x 24' shed, that is really nice We hope to build it out in the middle of our fields. With a simple livestock water trough at the back of the roof line to catch run off, from a distance it will look very much like a livestock shelter. [A "loafing shed."]

And if you know someone who has a portable mill, you can have boards cut that are actually 2" or 3" thick to use like board and batten. This will help to make your shed look simple but pretty safe from bullets. At least if they are coming at you from a distance. You can go another step further and build this shed over a concrete root cellar or a square concrete cistern that can be accessed through the floor of the shed. A ladder down through the top and with all the options they build in them for knock outs for pipes (in this case vents) they can be a pretty nice underground bunker of sorts.

We read your site regularly to keep up on what is being written but hidden in obscure papers. You guys are providing a great service. Keep it up! - Toni in the state of Washington

James Wesley:
I built many quality sheds (for my business) years ago. It is much easier to build a shed in four foot (or less) panels in your shop and then transport the panels to your retreat. It takes a little planning to do this, but in this way just two people can assemble the whole thing in a day, and transporting the shed usually takes just a 3/4 ton, long bed pickup [rather than a large truck.]

In many states you can build a shed up to 200 square feet without a permit. 12'x16' is a common larger size, but 10'x20' is much simpler to build (that 2 extra feet wider is a pain with roof and trusses). I recommend that you use deck screws to screw the panels together, including the cap plate. Build your roof trusses in your shop too. See Backwoods Home magazine for a really excellent article on how to build trusses and a really strong building.

Build the floor system on site, not as panels. Build the wall panels so that your full 4x8 sheets overhang on floor system by 4" and 1.5" on the top for your cap plate (ties it all together for strength). Offset your 4x8 panel 3/4" to the left side to keep the seams centered on a stud. This keeps it weather tight, if you caulk. Make sure your roof overhangs at least 6" (12" is better) on all 4 sides or rainwater will get in.

Cut your studs to 87.5". The 96" stud minus 4" (bottom overhang) minus 1.5" (bottom plate) minus 1.5" top plate minus 1.5" cap plate = 87.5". Make sure your cap plate is one piece of lumber for each side to tie the panels together on top. Take the scraps with you to your retreat, they will be handy.

Every panel uses one extra stud. It is well worth it. For Heaven's sake, make sure the floor is level and square, and that every panel is square on its own! This is the difference between a lot of fun building, and a disaster. - Brian W.

The latest extended-length trailer for Roland Emmerich's new 2012 movie looks more than a bit over the top. Yes, it is another popcorn-munching special effects-laden blockbuster. But that is not surprising, since Emmerich is the man that produced The Day After Tomorrow.

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Reader GG mentioned some recent commentary on "the big picture", via the Dilbert syndicated cartoon strip.

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Also from GG: Tent revival; More families than ever are camping for vacation at state and national parks

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Jon in Iraq sent us an article datelined Madison, Wisconsin: Too many mouths, not enough food

"Thus the men of democratic times require to be free in order to procure more readily those physical enjoyments for which they are always longing. It sometimes happens, however, that the excessive taste they conceive for these same enjoyments makes them surrender to the first master who appears. The passion for worldly welfare then defeats itself and, without their perceiving it, throws the object of their desires to a greater distance. There is, indeed, a most dangerous passage in the history of a democratic people. When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education and their experience of free institutions, the time will come when men are carried away and will lose all self-restraint at the sight of the new possessions that they are about to obtain. In their intense and exclusive anxiety to make a fortune they lose sight of the close connection that exists between the private fortune of each and the prosperity of all. It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold. The discharge of political duties appears to them to be a troublesome impediment which diverts them from their occupations and business. If they are required to elect representatives, to support the government by personal service, to meet on public business, they think they have no time, they cannot waste their precious hours in useless engagements; such ideal amusements are unsuited to serious men who are engaged with the more important interests of life. These people think they are following the principle of self-interest, but the idea they entertain of that principle is a very crude one; and the better to look after what they call their own business, they neglect their chief business, which is to remain their own masters....By such a nation [a wealthy, self-absorbed one] the despotism of faction is not less to be dreaded than the despotism of an individual. When the bulk of the community are engrossed by private concerns, the smallest parties need not despair of getting the upper hand in public affairs. At such times it is not rare to see on the great stage of the world, as we see in our theaters, a multitude represented by a few players, who alone speak in the name of an absent or inattentive crowd; they alone are in action, while all others are stationary; they regulate everything by their own caprice; they change the laws and tyrannize at will over the manners of the country; and then men wonder to see into how small a number of weak and worthless hands a great people may fall." - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America , Vol. 2, 140–4

Sunday, July 5, 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.

This article could also be titled: "How to Convince Friends and Family to Prepare for Economic Collapse." One of the greatest problems for the prepper is getting family and friends on board without alienating them or terrifying them into inaction. With this article, I hope to use my experience to show you how to gently and persuasively warn friends and family about the coming economic crisis. I have used this approach with several people and found it to be successful.

I am writing this article now because I believe that now is the time to approach your sheeple about prepping if you have not done so already. More and more people are noticing that something is wrong with our economy, and many of them are probably ready to hear about preparedness, but only if you approach them from the right direction. My goal is to help you find a good approach.

Why should you listen to me? Well, in my previous job, I was a corporate educator at a large mortgage bank. I learned two things from that job: how to watch my income spiral down into oblivion along with the entire mortgage industry, and how to explain complex concepts in simple ways. You don’t need my help to watch your income spiral into oblivion, so instead I will teach you how to explain complex concepts.

Before we get started, let’s emphasize a few basic rules that educators follow. I will elaborate on these rules in this article, and then I will show you how to put them into practice.

Three Basic Rules of Persuasion
Rule 1: Take it slow.
Rule 2: Keep it simple and sane (KISS).
Rule 3: Relate it back to their lives.

Now let's expand these concepts a little bit.

Are you sure that you want to have this conversation? There are schools of thought that say you should never mention your preps to anyone. Think this through carefully; otherwise you may have 45 family members knocking on your door next winter. I considered this before mentioning it to anyone; however, I don't think life is worth living if everyone I love dies, especially if I could have warned them. Besides, my nearest relative lives a five hour drive away from me. They'll have a long walk to pester me.

Define your audience. Think ahead and focus your efforts on the most level-headed, trustworthy, "solid" people that you know. This has several purposes. First of all, such people are more likely to listen to you and believe you. Secondly, other people will trust that person; once you persuade them,so they can subsequently persuade two or three other people.

Establish essential concepts and build on them. That's how adults learn. You see it in this very article; I have given you three simple rules and now I am expanding on them.

Don't expect too much, too fast. Remember, that some folks' idea of "preparing" is to buy an extra six-pack on Saturday because the liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Take it easy; my experience is that prepping is a daunting task to most people and if you give them too much information you will spook them. Once they're spooked, it's hard to get them to listen at all.

Climb down from the crazy tree. No, I am not saying that you are crazy for being a prepper. I am saying that most people think that preppers are crazy. Your goal here is to persuade and convince. I would never have convinced my auntie successfully if I had mentioned my gas masks or my plans for a fallout shelter. Keeping your mouth shut about these things is also good OPSEC. Your goal is to sound just a little bit more prepared than them: "Terry and I bought a few cans extra cans of Spaghetti-Os last week..."

Keep language plain and simple. Imagine that you're explaining all this to a 12-year-old. Use simple words and concepts. Adults learn better that way. Complicated language makes them feel threatened, and they tune it out.

Keep concepts plain and simple, too. The novice trainer’s most common mistake is to dump a bunch of information on the learner and believe that “since they heard it, they know it.” That’s not how adults learn. We learn through repetition of basic concepts.

Relate it to their life, not yours. Imagine that you go on two blind dates. The first person talks about themselves non-stop all through dinner. You can barely get a word in edgewise. The second person engages you in interesting conversation and hangs on your every word. Which person do you call back?

You call back the person that talks with you, not at you. The same is true in persuasion. You are telling them these things because you love them. Listen closely to how they respond, like the loving person that you are.

Use concrete examples that matter to them. Which of these two approaches is more captivating?
“A loaf of bread might cost you $20 next fall.”


“The Federal Reserve was established in 1913, as the central banking authority of the United States. The Federal Reserve is a monopolistic cartel of bankers, and they established a new kind of currency called fiat currency, which is unconstitutional. Now, fiat currency is basically just paper backed up by law. It doesn’t mean anything…”

Obviously, the short sentence that relates to their life is better than the ten-minute history lecture on something they barely understand and don’t care about.

Now Let’s Practice.
With these rules in mind, practice a typical conversation. I have provided a script below, but in reality you don’t want a one-sided script; you want a conversation. Talk with them, not at them.

Also, notice that each part of the conversation is related to one of our three rules.

Rule 1: START SLOW...

Start with Pleasantries. (This establishes a sense of ease and rapport.) "Hi Aunt Bea, it's been awhile since we talked. Yes, Terry and I are doing well. We went hiking last weekend and really enjoyed it. How are things in Mayberry?"

Explain why you are calling them. (This gets their attention and prepares them for what's next.) "I'm calling you because I have something serious to talk about, and I know you're level-headed and you're likely to listen to me."

Establish your credibility. (Adults want to know why they are listening to you. Who are you, anyway?) "As you know, I was laid off from that big mortgage bank awhile back, and when the bank started having trouble I started paying really close attention to the financial blogs. I've been reading them for awhile..."

Establish the credibility of your sources. "... and I've been starting to see some news leak into the mainstream financial press, such as Yahoo Finance..." (This is true.)

Rule 2: KISS...
Explain the problem. Keep it simple and keep your language sane.
"A lot of credible sources are saying that there may be rapid inflation starting this fall. Nobody knows for sure, but it could be a little or it could be very high.It might take $100 just buy a loaf of bread. There are also rumors of a possible bank holiday this fall. The phrase 'bank holiday' is really a misnomer. It's when they close the banks for a few days or a few weeks, and you can't withdraw cash to buy food and pay bills. They might do it if they needed to fix a problem with the banking system. This is harder to confirm than the inflation, but I think it's wise to prepare for the possibility."

Let’s analyze the above paragraph using our KISS rule.
I kept it to two main points. There are a million things to prepare for; you need to decide what the most convincing, urgent, easily-prepped-for problem is and stick to it. I chose economic collapse because it’s in the news right now, and it gets people’s attention.
I kept my language approachable, and when there was a new term I explained it simply. I didn’t mention any off-the-wall theories or rants about the Federal Reserve. The bank holiday is a rumor but well within the realm of possibility; but I emphasize that the inflation is NOT a rumor. It is a credible possibility being discussed in mainstream financial publications.
I didn't just say "There's going to be an economic collapse." I gave them a concrete example (the $100 bread loaf) that would relate to their lives. And speaking of relating it to their lives…

Rule 3: RELATE...
Suggest some ways to prepare. "There are things you can do to prepare for this, Aunt Bea, and it doesn't have to be really complicated. You can take some money out of the bank, and that's good to have on hand anyway in case of emergencies like earthquakes. I recommend keeping about a month's worth of cash on hand, if you can. You can also buy some of those old quarters and dimes... you know, from before 1965, when they used to make them out of silver. [Take a little time here to explain why junk silver is good in times of inflation. Rawles has some great articles. Also explain that it can be purchased at local coin shops, and explain the current cost.] And of course, since food will get more expensive later, it might not hurt to buy a little extra food now."

Take a moment to consider: Why would you start by talking about cash, then talk about silver, then talk about food?
First of all, these are all simple, non-threatening recommendations that anyone can follow. You want to start with the easiest step and go from there. Let's go back to our three rules:
Start slow by talking about the cash first, because everyone knows how to get money from the bank.
Talk about silver next, because you can emphasize that they can keep it simple and spend just a few dollars, if they want. (In other words, right now they can buy one silver dime for about $1.50.) If you explain it well, this idea is unthreatening and easy to do. It's also "more sane" than telling them to buy gold because many people are familiar with the old silver coins.
Mention the food last because to some people in your audience, stocking up on food immediately rings the “crazy survivalist” bell. It's good to put it in context of a wise financial decision related to the other steps they’re taking.

Ask them to talk to their family. This relates the whole conversation back to their lives. It makes them feel less alone, and it impresses on them that we're all in this together, etc. It's also the charitable thing to do. The more people that prepare, the better. I have also used this moment to ask them to help me persuade others (my mom, my grandparents, etc) since two voices are more credible than one.

Thank them. This lightens up the conversation and makes it sane. "Thanks for listening to me about this. I'm sorry to bring up all this gloom and doom. I just really care about you guys."

Continue the conversation according to your audience. Tailor your spiel to the person you’re talking to. Think back to the three rules that I mentioned earlier (slow; KISS; relate). Below are profiles of three of my favorite aunties. How would you apply those rules to your conversation with them?

Auntie A is threatened by the idea of prepping. She will barely talk about it.

Auntie B says she has a gun, and she also says she wants to start a garden.

Auntie C lives in a big, dangerous city and she will not move (cannot afford to and has lived there all her life). However, she is otherwise on board and even excited that someone finally mentioned it, and she’d like to read some online articles. She’s worried about her antiques business in this economy.

Take a moment to think about your approach, and then read on to learn how I approached each of my aunties.

With Auntie A, I took it slow. I will be lucky if she will buy a week's worth of spaghetti; I didn't push her any further than the script above. I moved on to talk about the weather or whatever. I can always talk to her about it again later.

With Auntie B, I followed the KISS rule. I suggested getting a little extra ammo for her gun and enough seeds for her garden. These are simple things that she can do tomorrow, and they’re not that scary. I did not say outright that ammo and seeds will be unavailable after the collapse, because that sounds insane.

With Auntie C, I related it back to her life. Since she's web-savvy, I pointed her to a web site that discusses prepping to live in the city during an economic collapse (FerFAL's web site). (To “keep it sane” I mentioned that his site is "geared toward American survivalists" and “I don’t like reading it because it’s scary” but "if you can get past all that, it's worth looking at.") Because she mentioned that her antiques business will probably not prosper, I also pointed her to posts about how people make money in the city in hard times

In conclusion...

This can be the only conversation you have with your loved ones, or it can be the first in a series. However you approach it, remember these proverbs:
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." and, "A prophet has no honor in his own country."

In other words, no matter how simply and gently you explain the coming collapse, there will be some that prepare and some that won't. You don't have any control over that. Your only duty is to try to gently persuade them in a way that they can understand.

Final quiz: What are the three basic rules of persuasion?

The Memsahib Adds: Before approaching a relative or friend with the topic of preparedness, consider: Is there some aspect of prepping that would fulfill one of their long-held desires, or perhaps even a childhood fantasy? Have they always wanted to own a horse? Be a master chef? Live like a Native American? Live off the land like a Mountain Man? Be a doctor? Be an herbal medicinalist? Be an explorer? Be a teacher? Own a large acreage? Be a park ranger? Sail the seven seas? Be a philanthropist? Be a missionary? There are aspects of preparedness that can fit into all of these desires. So, in effect, you can make prepping fun and fulfilling for them. When I was growing up, I always loved baby lambs and wanted to own sheep. I was also disappointed that I didn't grow up on a farm, as my mother had. (I was raised in the suburbs.) Our path to preparedness was a great excuse to buy some acreage, and raise a flock of sheep. This led to buying spinning wheels and a loom, learning how to card, spin and dye wool, learning how to knit, how to felt wool, raising angora rabbits, and raising angora goats. This in turn eventually led to us getting dairy goats, and later a dairy cow. So all of this fulfilled a childhood fantasy of having my own farm. Thus, prepping felt rewarding, and in no way did I feel threatened or did it seem like I was living under a dark storm cloud. When I served my first loaf of bread that I had made with eggs from my chickens, and wheat that I had sown and later hand-ground, the rooster in our barnyard couldn't crow any louder than I could! My grandmother would have been proud of me. Talk about heavy gravitas, when bringing such loaves to a church potluck! (But even just brining muffins with berries that you grew yourself, or picked out in the wild can give the same sense of accomplishment.) It was much the same for me when I finished making my first sweater with wool from sheep that I had helped deliver. I had shorn the wool, carded it, dyed it, spun it and knitted it--bringing the sweater all to its final form. What a lot of work, but what great fun!

My favorite way to introduce this topic to other women is through teaching "heritage crafts". The homemaking skills of our pioneer ancestors are something that most women--even city women--can relate to. Whether it is canning, gardening, small livestock, sewing, cooking, baking, knitting, leather-working, candle making, soap-making , et cetera. I have done all of these, and and have enjoyed passing on these skills to neighbors, friends, and even my nieces and nephews. Perhaps your local church, 4H club, scout troop, PTA, homeschooling club, or public school would be open to having you teach a class or put on a demonstration.

I found that the more I learned about one preparedness topic, the more that I wanted to learn about related topics. For example, when I was raising rabbits, it was fun learning how many different ways I could prepare rabbit meat dishes. And when I was dairying, it was fun to branch out into making yogurt, soft cheese, and milk soap. With God's providential guiding hand, your friends will each find a special preparedness niche, that will benefit their families, and in turn get them excited about many more aspects of preparedness.

A note to husbands, fathers, brothers, and uncles: Please do not alienate your female friends and relatives from preparedness by "assigning" them a prepping specialty. Instead, let them pick their own, to suit their particular disposition and interests. By letting women choose our own areas of expertise, it gives us the feeling of being in control of our lives in an uncertain world. Encourage and nurture their interests, but don't dictate them!

Part of getting prepared is recognizing the fact that some aspects of preparedness are more "fun" than others. And, correspondingly, what constitutes "fun" for one individual is not necessarily considered fun by another. How many men wouldn't blink an eye at buying a $700 SIG or a $1,500 FAL, but get anxious about "the expense" when they see their wives looking through a Louet or LeClerc catalog? What is needed is a well-rounded approach to gathering logistics, tools, and skills. There is much more to preparedness than just "guns and groceries." Get prepared, but don't obsess over all the gloom-n-doom "what ifs?" You should instead take a well-rounded approach that will provide a family with educational activities and lots of fun, all while actively learning, preparing, and cross-training. One way to ease your spouse into a preparedness mindset is by encouraging her to get involved with a the local fiber guild, 4H club, or farmer's market co-op.

Tall Sally is absolutely right about going slowly. Get your friends and relatives into preparedness one small step at a time. Encourage them to get prepared, by playing off of their pre-existing interests, fantasies, and hobbies.

Jasper M. sent word of the never-ending, ever-expanding Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB): Krugman: U.S. Headed for Jobless Recovery. "Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said the nation is on course for a "prolonged jobless" economic recovery unless the Obama administration steps in with a second round of government stimulus money."

Redaer Karen H. kindly sent the following items:

Weak US jobs data dashes quick recovery hopes

G8 alone can't solve world's problems. (This changes the players)

China wants diversified global monetary system

Items from The Economatrix:

Credit Report Warns of Russia's Imploding Banks

A Bank Run Teaches Amish About Risks of Modernity

Chase Cardholders See Hike as Raw Deal Monthly minimum payments will more than double in August

Hotel Loan Defaults Double as Recession Cuts Travel

India Joins Russia, China in Questioning Dominance of US Dollar

Asian Stocks Post Weekly Loss on Worsening Jobless Figures, Commodities

Japan Backs Dollar as Reserve Currency

IOU's Spell Uncertainty for California Small Businesses

Will California's Budget Crisis Whack Your Munis?

Many July 4th Shows Going Up in Smoke For cities across the country, recession means less bang for holiday buck

US Job Losses in June Deeper than Forecast
Declines in wages could unravel the recent stabilization we've seen

Pet-Supply Retailers Grow While Others Fade Shoppers refuse to be cheap with their animal companions even when their wallets are thin. [JWR Adds: But veterinarians report that the euthanizing versus surgery rate is up substantially.]

KAF recommended an interesting map that illustrates the ratio of Federal land to private land in the U.S.. (Click on it for a larger view.) BTW, I predict that some extensive tracts of Federal lands will be sold in the next 20 years

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The episode lineup for Michael Bane's new Best Defense: Survival television series has been posted over at the DownRangeTV Blog. It looks like there will be 10 great episodes!

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America is Vulnerable to an EMP Attack. But for the sake of balance, I should mention that the ARRL claims that the EMP threat is over-rated. "The real hazard is to radios connected to long exposed unprotected conductors, i.e. mains power or HF antennas. In the tests, tube type HF rigs sustained damage to the front end coil assemblies. Battery powered VHF solid state radios sustained no damage... And no disconnected radio suffered any damage." (Thanks to Michael G. for he link.)

“ ‘Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, “How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’ ” - Malachi 3:8-10

Saturday, July 4, 2009

To my readers in the US: Happy Fourth of July. Long may our flag wave over a land of liberty!

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.

Several months ago, a man wrote an article for the SurvivalBlog detailing the ups and downs of being a prepper while serving on Active Duty. As a former Active Duty soldier I could appreciate what he was saying but more than anything else I found myself being thankful that I was now doing my prepping while serving in the National Guard.

Many preppers join the local volunteer fire department or rescue squad in order to learn valuable skills for free that could help in an emergency. They also do it so that they can learn skills that will help pull their communities through during tough times. I would like to propose that some of the readers who are of this mindset could gain much by joining the National Guard.

I have been in the Army seven years now. I started on Active Duty serving in Georgia, Germany, and Iraq. After three year I moved back home and joined the Guard. I am currently wrapping up a tour as the commander of a 170-soldier Military Police (MP) company. Like anything else, the Guard has its positives and negatives and I’d like to provide readers with both so that they can make an educated decision about what I think is a great opportunity. (Full disclosure: I like my job.)

First, the positives:
1. Job training. Hands down, from a survivalist mindset, this has to be the best thing that the Guard has to offer. The training for jobs in the Guard is the same as what you’d receive on Active Duty. The difference is, while it’s common for Active Duty soldiers to stay in the same carrier field for the duration of their career, Guardsmen often end up training in more than one field for a variety of reasons. I have soldiers who started out as mechanics who retrained as Military Police after a few years because there were more opportunities for career development in our MP focused unit. Likewise, in my unit we are authorized three medics up to the rank of Specialist [E4] (the fourth enlisted rank in the Army). When they decide that they want to pursue their Sergeant stripes, they will either go to another unit that has slots for a medic at the rank of Sergeant (there are two such units within 25 miles of us) or retrain as Military Police to pursue one of the many slots available in that field for the rank of Sergeant and beyond. The point is that the choice is theirs. How valuable would it be for you to train as a mechanic, infantrymen, medic, MP, or chemical specialist? It is not uncommon for some of my older soldiers to be formally schooled in up to three different Military Occupation Specialties (MOS).

2. Learn additional skills beyond your MOS. Every one of my soldiers has practiced putting in an IV, knows how and when to use a nasopharyngeal airway, and can perform a range of basic first aid tasks. Two of my soldiers have been school trained as armorers as an additional duty to their primary job. I put everyone on the range 2-3 times a year firing 9mm, 5.56mm, 7.62mm, .50 cal, 12 gauge, and 40mm. Our people know how to maintain and fire a variety of pistols, rifles, machine guns, shotguns, and other less common weapon systems. We practice navigating alone or in small groups cross country using a map and compass. We also train everyone on basic hand-to-hand combatives. Finally, our Military Police soldiers get trained on collapsible batons, OC, and soon, Tasers.

3. Continue to live where you want. One of the big complaints of preppers on Active Duty is having to move every few years. In the National Guard you choose your armory (presuming they have an open slot) and you can live anywhere that you like. In my state 90% of counties have at least one National Guard armory. As you go up in ranks you may have to go to another armory that has the slot that you want but you’re never forced to do so. If the openings don’t exist for your career track at your armory, you can always retrain into another field where the slots do exist.

4. Be a leader when trouble strikes. When society gets shaken you will likely be called upon to stabilize and sustain your city, state, or nation. Some would see this as a downside as they would prefer to hunker down when things get bad. I see it instead as a positive. Even as a mere mid level leader in the Guard I have the ability to make decisions that will help restore towns to a state of normalcy. This was proven to me when our company was charged with restoring law and order to a coastal Mississippi town in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We fed people, stopped the looting, and gave the utility workers the support that they needed to restore basic services. Not only was it a rewarding experience, but it also pulled me into the survivalist community. I promised myself that my family would be prepared when disaster struck.

5. Local in focus, global in reach. Unlike the Reserves, National Guard soldiers serve at the direction of their state’s Governor. If this sounds odd to you, remember that before 1933 the National Guard Bureau was called the Militia Bureau. If you’re interested in helping in natural disasters, the Guard is the way to go. I’ve responded to tornados 30 miles North of my home as well as hurricanes 500 miles South. I’ve even conducted exercises in South America and Europe with the Guard. The President can always federalize a Guard unit, but at our core, we’re a state asset.

6. Learn even more skills outside the Army. The GI Bill and Tuition Assistance can help you go back to school for vocational, college, or post graduate training with little or no out of pocket expense.

7. Gain an extra paycheck. Not much more to say on this one. Live off your civilian job salary and you can just apply your Guard paycheck to paying off your house or any other debts that you have faster.

8. Gain full time employment. While the Guard is traditionally a part time force (usually one weekend a month, two weeks a year… though the War on Terror was stretched that), there are some full time jobs out there. Put in some time and prove yourself and you could serve full time from your hometown. Of particular interest to people who understand the threats that exist domestically are the Civil Support Teams (CST) that each state has that’s composed of Army and Air National Guardsmen. These are the first responders for just about everything that a terrorist might level against us here at the home front. All the soldiers in a CST serve full time and represent the best that we have for detecting and dealing with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats.

9. The camaraderie of a group of like minded individuals. It’s good to know people in your community that you can count on in a pinch. Plus the Guard can be a good networking opportunity if you’re looking for employment in an emergency response field (police, fire, EMT, etc.).

And now, the negatives:
1. Overseas deployments. Sooner or later you’re probably going to go to Iraq or Afghanistan if you’re in the National Guard. If you have a family, this is definitely a negative. However, for some of you the experience that this brings would be invaluable in a survival situation. Just prepare your family to operate without you, preferably in conjunction with the support of trusted friends and neighbors. Know also that the Guard has really made headway since the wars started in providing dwell time to its soldiers. Current deployment cycles attempt to limit a unit to one deployment for every five years.

2. Some units in the Guard lack vision and don’t train hard. It pains me to say that but we must remember that the Army is a microcosm of the society it serves. Some leaders are no good and some units are lazy. My unit trains hard and the soldiers appreciate it. We take every opportunity to learn and grow. Not every unit is like that. If you join a unit that’s sub par, work to change it from the inside. If the culture of that unit is beyond your ability to fix, request transfer to another one.

3. If you’re thinking about joining the Guard now, you just missed some of the best enlistment bonuses in decades. Work closely with your local Guard recruiter (located at most Guard armories) and see if the field that you’re interested in still offers money up front to help kick your prepping into high gear. Not all the bonuses are gone but several of the bigger ones went away a few months ago.

4. Leaving your family during the height of an emergency. I alluded to earlier, but it’s worth repeating given the audience. It is all together possible that when your family needs you the most, you will get called away to help other people. This is a chance that we take along with our brethren first responders. Police, Fire Fighters, EMTs, Doctors, Nurses, and Guardsmen… if we hold to our oath then we’ve got to go where our community needs us in an emergency.

If you’re thinking about joining, grab a friend in the Guard and ask a lot of questions. It’s not a small step because it requires many years of commitment. I think it’s worth it, though. Hopefully this article has answered your questions regarding the Guard as means to serve your community and grow your personal skill set in preparation for a survival situation.

Your comments about the relative efficiency of compressing air with a windmill are spot on. Most of the energy would be lost. In the real world, air compressors are only about 10 to 15% efficient at best. This is because air heats when it's compressed. In fact, since more energy is converted to heat than to mechanical energy, a compressor is actually better at heating and cooling a house as a heat pump than it is at compressing air. So unless you could figure out how to drive the Brumby well pump and utilize all the waste heat at the same time, a wind-driven compressor would not be the way to go. - Kenneth L.

Hi Jim,
Here is a link to Airlift wind pumps. I have not used one of these but I have seen a lot of them in Arizona. It seems like a good idea. Regards, - Paul

I found the following over at Amish News: "Almost any electrical appliance can be adapted to work off of alternate power, such as compressed air. Some Amish women have been using compressed air to power blenders in the kitchen for years. In one house, compressed air powers a water pump, sewing and washing machines, and drills and saws in the shop. Some Amish businesses have as their specialty adapting such appliances so they can be powered by compressed air."

From: the Unity College web site: "This particular plant will make small-to-medium turbines for farm-scale installation, each turbine connected by an air hose to a large compressor tank. By both saving lots of air in storage tanks, and by scheduling manufacturing and other shop work for breezy days, the Amish can have compressed air without doing what they normally do, which is run a small gas engine to run the compressor. Gas has been expensive lately, and not all Amish church meetings allow the use of gas engines, so there's reason to think that wind compressors will be welcome additions to the Amish toolkit."

From OtherPower.com: "There are many tools that can be run on compressed air. Many of the Amish use compressed air for kitchen appliances, fans, shop tools etc. A no-longer-certified propane tank makes a great air tank with large capacity.

Why not make a windmill that powers an air compressor? By storing compressed air I could reduce the size of the battery bank I need. Air tanks have a far longer service life than batteries and cost much less to purchase. Used tanks can be acquired for next to nothing."s

I suppose that to obtain the higher pressures a reduction system would need to be used to obtain enough torque to drive the compressor. But what if a sail type windmill similar to the Dutch pump mills was used. I imagine those huge sails generate incredible torque. Here is a small mill that only generates up to 30 PSI intended for aeration of a pond.

And here is an air lift pump for pumping from a well. (But there is no data on the pounds per square inch generated).
Regards, - Len S.

Regarding Mike B. in Florida's question on compressed air and wind turbines, I recommend that he research the combination of a Trompe and a Savonius wind mill. A trompe produces compressed air from falling water. A wind mill may be used to lift surface-stored water (pond or tank) to a suitable height to produce the falling water. I suppose any wind mill design would suffice, but I recommend researching the Savonius as it is supposed to perform well in areas with low wind speed such as Florida (ignoring the occasional tropical storm and hurricane). I do not know how much water must be lifted to what height to produce the quality of compressed required, but it may be worth looking into. Both devices are relatively simple (a trompe has no moving parts) and very reliable. - d'Heat

Reader L. Jean sent this: UK Government prediction: 40 deaths per day from swine flu. L. Jean's comment: "[I really have no idea where the figures come from as sources aren't quoted in the article, and it doesn't seem to be causing any panic, in fact most people just don't believe it, and are saying 'it's just fl'" and are refusing to take any precautions - which is bad news for the rest of us. I'm still waiting to find out if it's a cytokine storm that kills or not - perhaps not if all deaths so far have been to people with 'underlying health problems'. Strange how every government uses the exact same phrase."

Karen H. flagged these three articles for us:

Britain revamps swine flu strategy to handle 100,000 new cases a day by end of August

WHO working on formulas to model spread of swine flu as actual case outpace reported numbers. "The meeting comes as it becomes clearer that actual case numbers may be far higher than the agency's tally of officially diagnosed infections."

World health officials tackle swine flue pandemic, spreading in Southern Hemisphere, Europe. "As we see today, with well over 100 countries reporting cases, once a fully fit pandemic virus emerges, its further international spread is unstoppable," Chan said during opening remarks.

US Judge Seeks to Ban Internet News Linking. (I guess that they'd better ban news broadcasters from mentioning news headlines, while they are at it...)

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Food Recall Alert: Dave C. forwarded a DoD bulletin warning that the current MRE Menus 1, 9, 21, and 22 contain a Dairy Shake Powder that is listed in a food recall. "Do not consume MRE and UGR-E Dairy Shake powder, Fortified with Calcium and Vitamin D"

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The result of sixty years of gun control in the U.K: The most violent country in Europe: Britain is also worse than South Africa and U.S. (Thanks to Keen for the link.)

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An independent documentary film production company in the UK is seeking intervirew candidates, for an upcomig documentary that will air on Channel 4. The working title is: "Self-Reliance in a Fragile World". The producers say that they are "are keen to speak to individuals and families in the UK who believe that a level of preparedness is increasingly important and have taken action.  You might be working towards self sufficiency with perma-culture in case of crop or energy failure or learning bushcraft and survival skills to improve your self reliance.  You may have a store of food and water in case you are forced to remain in your home or a rehearsed emergency plan in the event of disaster." Contact:  Amy Ruse, Development Producer at Kowalsk Media. Phone: +44(0)20 7882 1021 or e-mai: amy.ruse@kowalskimedia.co.uk

   o o os

Three pieces of saber-rattling news: North Korea Fires Missiles; Launch Toward US Feared -- "Dark Clouds Of Nuclear War" In North Korea -- Impending Missile Launch May Require US Military Action

"Where liberty dwells, there is my country" - Benjamin Franklin

Friday, July 3, 2009

I heard that JRH Enterprises is having an Independence Day Sale on medical kits, PVS-14 night vision units, and NBC gear. Be sure to check it out!

The following links will be of interest to anyone interested in do-it-yourself (DIY) power generation and 19th Century technology. Most of these come from Lindsay Publishing. [JWR Adds: They are also one one of my favorites!] :

Generator and Inverters

Wood into Charcoal and Electricity (although the generator design is at best a temp make-work design while you scrounge to build a better one).

Gas Engines and Producer Gas Plants

DIY Wind Turbine Power Plant (The best DIY design out there, although you might find a cheaper copy elsewhere).

DIY Machine Shop (This is a Gingery design, not suitable for those that are clumsy)

Other Wood Gasifier DIY Books.

A FEMA-designed wood gasifier that will hold you over while you build something better, if you are lazy and wait until it is almost to late. Not even remotely the best design but it is quick and fairly easy to build. It is titled: "Construction of a Simplified Wood Gas Generator for Fueling Internal Combustion Engines in a Petroleum Emergency/"

I hope that folks find these useful. - Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large)

Prefabricated Garden Sheds as Instant Shelters and Storage Spaces for Retreats

This article is not intended to promote the Tuff Shed brand per se. Any of Tuff Shed’s products can be built from scratch. This is just one way to obtain “instant” shelter at a reasonable price. Tuff Sheds come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. For the sake of this discussion I will limit myself to the rather plain-looking Tall Ranch Tuff Shed model because, unless you happen to be short of stature, you will probably need a tall shed. In Portland, Oregon the Tall Ranch model is available in sizes ranging from 6’x6’ to 16’x24’. This idea will not be practical in an area prone to flood, hurricane, or tornado. Much of what’s in this article is just common sense. I like to think of it as food for thought.

The great thing about this idea is that many county building codes will allow the construction of a shed without obtaining a building permit, although this often depends on the size of the shed. (Of course they don’t expect anybody to actually live inside one.) So, you can put one on your “bug out” site without notifying anybody in most cases. If you purchase a ready-built shed that is only 8’ wide it can be moved on a flatbed trailer without an oversized load permit. For the purpose of a simple survival shed I would consider the 8’x12’, 8’x14’, or 8’x16’ models. These sell for around $2,500-$3,000 new in Portland, or about the same price as a good used travel trailer. The shed doesn’t come with any insulation, wiring, plumbing, or interior walls however. This is good because it makes it easy to install these features exactly the way you want them before you deliver the shed to your site. The shed is usually sold with a window, but it can be easily omitted. I would order it without any windows and, instead, I would install peepholes on all four sides. Not having any windows means that a light can be kept turned on inside without alerting anyone that passes by.

I would install three or four electrical receptacles and stub the wiring out in a corner where the inverter and batteries will go later. I would also install one low power-consumption, but bright, LED light in the center of the ceiling with a quiet DC switch located where it could be reached in a hurry. For heat I would install a vented propane heater of the type used in recreational vehicles and install it through the wall at the back of the shed. After I had done all of the wiring, and installed the heater and peepholes, I would thoroughly insulate the shed so that it could withstand the most severe winter weather with only minimal heat. All of the work would be done at my leisure in my own back yard before the shed is ever moved to my “bug out” site. For the walls I would use oriented strand board (OSB) instead of drywall because it’s tougher and lighter. Also, it’s easier to mount various accessories on the OSB later on, with screws. The OSB can be painted with interior house paint. I would use a thick rug or carpet on the floor so that it wouldn’t make much noise when walking around inside. Just before the shed is to be delivered to the “bug out” site I would paint the exterior with two or three coats of good quality house paint in an earth tone color similar in color to the “bug out” site [soil or foliage].

Ideally, I would place the shed on my site where it is surrounded by brush and/or trees or, even better, in a low spot between some knolls. In any case the shed’s foundation would have to be elevated 6” to a foot above the grade to avoid rainwater infiltration. I would be sure that the rainwater drains away from the shed. Once the shed has been set in place I would repaint the outside of it to closely mimic its surroundings, camouflaging it that it cannot be seen from any direction by anyone less than 25 yards away. The roof would be similarly camouflaged with paint and/or local vegetation. The shed would have to be well hidden to avoid detection because it’s a hideout, not a fortress! For water I would use a two-gallon water cooler and refill it from a spring or creek (with proper filtration of course.) For a restroom I would use a portable chemical toilet. A pit could be dug at some distance away from the shed for waste burial. Bathing would have to be done in a creek.

For electricity I would use a couple of deep cycle 12-volt batteries, a solar panel, and a 120-volt power inverter. The inverter need not be large. In fact a small one would help to conserve battery power. It would only need to be large enough to run a couple of lights and a radios. The solar panel would not be mounted on the roof. It would be portable so that it could be hidden inside the shed when it isn’t being used. It would be placed outside during the day when I was around to keep an eye on it. Harbor Freight and Northern Tool & Equipment both sell 15-watt solar panels for about $60. A couple of these would easily keep the batteries charged. I would spend most of my time outside of the shed during the day and only use it at night or during inclement weather.

This “bug out” shed or cabin would suffice in an emergency to provide a relatively safe hideout for up to several months. The trick would be to keep it secure when I was not there to watch it. It might make better sense to bring along most of the needed supplies when retreating to the shed. - Mr. E.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I live on the sinking Titanic that is California, where this morning one of our co-workers failed to come into work and we could not reach him. We finally heard from him. He had just got out of a night in jail by posting $1,500 bail. Why? Because after a car accident last night, he consented to a police search of his vehicle where they found, of all things, a blackjack. Yes, an old-fashioned small club like the bad guys used in the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Years ago he found it in another state and had carried it in his car here, never realizing it was illegal. Had it instead been a large, hard baseball bat, this nice young man would not have spent the night in jail, lost $1,500, or gained a police record.

Yes, blackjacks are illegal in California according to our Dangerous Weapons Control Law. I can only hope that this is one of those absurd left-over laws from the 19th century.

Lesson learned: Protect yourself from absurd laws, and protect your privacy, by refusing to consent to search. The laws do not always have our best interests in mind. - Jason P.

Mycroft sent us this: Pandemic is here: Time to panic?

Now, H1N1 is in Africa

New Flu Strain Has Pet Owners Worried

Former Marine Claims Illness From Mystery Vaccine "Target 5 [a television news team] has discovered that an alarming number of U.S. troops are having severe reactions to some of the vaccines they receive in preparation for going overseas. 'This is the worst cover-up in the history of the military," said an unidentified military health officer who fears for his job. A shot from a syringe is leaving some U.S. servicemen and women on the brink of death.'"

Several readers wrote to say that The Discovery Channel will debut 'The Colony', a post-pandemic urban survival reality series on July 21. It will be interesting to see how the politically-correct Hollywood crowd will tiptoe around the topic of firearms used for self-defense. I suspect that they'll create the absurd artifice that neither the looters nor the Colony defenders will have guns available. (I noticed that one clip showed a miscreant being ineffectively blasted with a fire extinguisher .As if that would so badly frighten the goblins, that they'd never come back. The folks in Hollywood, it seems, can only relate to guns that shoot blanks. So much for so-called "reality" television.)

   o o o

Meanwhile, NBC is planning to air a new disaster television series, set in Van Nuys, California which will never be on my Retreat Locales list!), called Day One. "In the aftermath of a global event that devastates the world's infrastructures, a small band of survivors strives to rebuild society and unravel the mysteries of why the event took place and what the future has in store. Told from the point of view of an eclectic group of neighbors in a Van Nuys, California apartment building, this journey of survival will show us that hope is found in the smallest of victories and heroes are born every day."

   o o o

A dozen readers mentioned this: Federal agents hunt for guns, one house at a time. Notice that the only apparent gun runner they found (at the end of the article) was a sworn police officer. Also note that the ATF cowboys bemoaned the lack of a firearms sales "database", yet they admit that there is a standing requirement that permanent paperwork (a Form 4473) be kept on file for every transaction. In my estimation, the "US guns flowing to Mexico" issue is a highly politicized sideshow, almost entirely fabricated, and promulgated with the goal of undermining our right to keep and bear arms.

   o o o

Saul G. spotted this linked at The Drudge Report: Ant mega-colony takes over world

"There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy." - President George Washington

Thursday, July 2, 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 nothing more soothing to the soul then quietly enjoying a stroll through the woods, forests, and outdoor areas of this great countryside. And having a rifle or shotgun over your shoulder for the chance opportunity at a squirrel, deer, dove, or pheasant is nothing short of perfection for many of us. However, in a survival situation, a hard day of hunting with nothing to show for it is not only depressing but can be downright dangerous. A person in a survival situation must conserve their energy at all costs. Any activity that doesn't produce something towards the goal of food and water is a risk of losing all of that energy with no way to replace it.

There is only one way to maximize your effort for the return that it provides: trapping. This skill is as old as we are. And as such there has been more knowledge lost to the world than is currently written down. Of course there are still people who have a vast knowledge of what it takes to be successful as a trapper. And surprisingly this has become a fairly recent job skill. In the last 10 years the Urban Wildlife Nuisance Removal Technician has become a much more in demand career. With more and more people not able to handle things for themselves, and local Animal Control Departments being overworked on domesticated animals such as dogs and cats, this has left a large demand for men and women who can trap nuisance wildlife out of homes and commercial buildings.

I was fortunate enough to spend a few years after college working for a company that provided nuisance animal removal services to the metro area of Atlanta. While there, I was able to hone my skills in not only urban trapping but in rural areas also. Since that time I have continued trapping recreationally and occasionally for friends and neighbors who have had problems that needed help. This is not always an easy task but the rewards are many.

Trapping in its essence is time efficient. Traps work even while you are sleeping. Or working on other things. You can also add trapping to a hunting trip or vice-versa. Moving from one trap location to the next can always be used as hunting time, so you are maximizing your effort towards the main goal of surviving. Trapping is typically going to be best served in a long term situation. If your lost in the woods for a few days before rescue, or forced out of your home because of bad weather, trapping just may not be needed. But after 2-3 days it starts to become very important to look for the food sources that trapping can provide.

Let's look at a typical overview of trapping and the systems that are typically applied to its use. The first thing to understand is that trapping for food is all about numbers. The more traps you have out, the more effective they will be. Each trap placement is referred to as a "set". This describes the area you have prepared and the trap that is placed in that area. Multiple sets are described as a "line". Trap lines can have as few as two sets and as many more as you can fit in an area. Although I have found that more than 20 makes it difficult to check daily in a survival situation. And that is an important point. Do not over set an area to the point where you can't check all of your traps daily. Leaving animals suffering, or making them easy targets of predators is not only unethical it is wasteful. If coyotes, hawks, badgers, or weasels are stealing and eating your caught prey, then you don't get to. Also if you know you will not be able to check your trap lines for a few days then it is best to go and leave them unset until you have the time to regularly rechecking them.

Anything that moves can be trapped, but I will be mainly focused on the most common types of traps and the general animals that are targeted. Everyone has their own specialties and preferences when it comes to trapping. And every situation needs to be adapted to. The following information is designed as a starting point to get you some success and help improve the odds of getting that first meal when needed.

Before looking at types of traps we must begin with baits. Baits can make your set a lot more enticing to an animal. And with minimal preparation you can have a great bait ready to go. This is the recipe I have used for years with great success on everything from skunks to field mice and most everything in between. Even coyotes and other predators can be lured in with it. This should make approximately two [quart] jars about 3/4ths full. If stored in a cool dry place it will last for years. And one jar can easily be used for months worth of trapping. It does not require very much to draw an animal in and often a lesser amount will work better than big globs of bait.

Multi-Species Trap Bait Ingredients and Instructions:

1 [quart] jar peanut butter (crunchy works also)

1 handful birdseed with sunflower seeds

3 tablespoons of Vanilla Extract

3 pieces of bacon

2 pieces of white bread

2-5 tablespoons of maple syrup

To make this bait you may need to warm all wet ingredients in a pan to combine.

Fry bacon until very well done. Save grease to add and crumble bacon

Cut up bread slice into very small pieces

Mix all ingredients together and stir well.

Add maple syrup until the consistency is a very thick paste

If you do not have time to prepare a bait blend, you can use a lot of other options. Naturally available seeds, berries, and nuts can be used. Also, other animal carcasses can be used. The guts and entrails from a fish is very effective on raccoons and other scavengers. Strips of hide from a road kill or previously trapped animal can attract a host of animals as well as insects which also can draw in birds. The key to using baits is adaptability and presenting it in a way that entices your prey to investigate. And of course some types of sets require no bait, but these are difficult and can take a long time to eventually have success.

There are four main types of commercially made traps. The leg hold, conibear, box trap, and the snare. Each one has its advantages so lets examine each one and the types of sets they can be used for.

Leg hold: This trap is one of the oldest styles and in larger versions have been called bear traps. The two metal arms are opened and put under tension by a spring. The trigger is a lever or flat plate in the center of the trap. Older models use metal straps folded over as springs, and newer ones have actual springs under the levers. Both styles are effective. These traps come in several sizes but a good selection would be those with a 4-6 inch opening.This opening will then close or snap shut on an animals leg and hold it firmly. This will handle most anything short of big game animals in North America. I have found antique ones at yard sales for just a few dollars and even new ones can be had for under $10 on many web sites. I would suggest having 10-15 of this type for any long term survival situation you are preparing for.

Setting these are very simple and after a few tries you should be proficient in their use. Actually making a set to catch an animal is another story altogether. And something I will discuss at the end of this article.

Conibear: These traps are essentially two squares of heavy gauge metal wire connected to act like a scissor action. One or both sides may have coil springs to give it the strength to close on the intended animal. These also come in different sizes and small to medium will work well for food gathering. Although at least one larger one for beaver, fox, and coyote may be desirable. An important note on this style of trap is that on the larger models the springs can be very hard to depress by hand and may require a "setting tool" which acts like a pair of large pliers to compress the springs. This tool will be required if you are trying to set these larger ones by yourself. Other than that this trap is extremely adaptable as the animal crawls through it to trigger the mechanism and it will humanely kill them instantly which also prevents the animal from escaping. Anything from squirrels to beavers can be easily harvested with this style of trap.

Box trap: You will find this trap routinely used to catch and release animals such as cats, dogs, and other wildlife that does not need to be killed. Many Animal Control companies use this style because of the humane removal and relocation of the trapped animal is preferable to their customers. But they are more expensive and very bulky so for survival needs they are not as efficient as the other styles.

Snare: This is probably the easiest to carry and make or buy. Either made from scratch or purchased this trap is one of the oldest traps ever conceived. And works off of the animals own force to close around the legs or neck. Snares can be very effective in skilled hands, however for a beginner it is unwise to count on snares to be productive. If it is all you have then you better be a quick learner, have some good bait, or a lot of patience to wait for success.

Miscellaneous Traps: There are also pitfall traps, deadfalls, whipstick traps and many other styles that can be used but without practice and a true knowledge of trapping these will do nothing more than waste your time and frustrate you to no end. But I would highly recommend you research these styles and if you have the time to give them a try before you may need them.

Now that we have covered the basic traps you can use it is time to move onto sets. There is no way to give you every type or style of set in a short article and in fact many books have been written on just this subject alone. So I will attempt to give you some helpful ideas on how and where to set your traps. Your first decision is what will you be trapping for. This is the most important because just "trapping" will leave you with very little game on the table. Try to learn what animals may be around. Try checking for sign such as prints, feces, holes, fresh diggings, et cetera. When you locate fresh sign but are not sure what it may be then you can start with multiple sets from a few feet to a dozen yards apart. Try adding bait to some and some just in an open spot. You do want to avoid disturbing the area whenever possible. And multiple sets may take a few days to produce if the animal becomes wary of your presence.

For leg holds you can try to set 2 or 3 in a 2 foot area, lightly sprinkle leaves, loose dirt, or pine needles over them to hide their outline. Then hang a pinecone smeared with a good peanut butter bait about 3 feet off the ground above the traps. As the animal comes in to investigate it is looking up at the lure/bait and is less likely to see the traps until he steps in one and then the others. This set will work for many types of animals. Another bait option is a can of dog or cat food wired above the traps with a hole poked in it to allow the juice to drip out. I have seen a raccoon actually jump into the air to lick the can only to fall back onto two leg holds I had set under some leaves.

A good set for a conibear is to place over a fresh den hole. As the animal comes out it will trigger the trap and instantly kill it to prevent it from going back down. Or you can dig a hole slightly smaller then the traps opening, then leave some bait in the hole, place trap over hole, and as an animal sticks his head into the hole to smell or eat the bait the trap will be set off. This set is extremely effective for carnivores such as raccoons, coyotes, skunks, and possums, if you have guts or rotten meat to use as bait. This trap is also great for beaver. The best set I have used is to find a beaver dam and kick out a hole just big enough for the trap to sit down in. Stake both sides down through the springs and leave overnight. Beavers will always repair their dams and as they poke their noses in to the break to see what needs to be fixed the trap is waiting for them.

Box style traps are best if baited to lure an animal in. To make an effective set the cage needs to be hidden under natural materials like leaves and sticks. The best tip for this trap is to lay a nice amount of soil, moss, leaves, or sand in the bottom so as the animal walks into the trap they do not feel the metal wire of the cage on their feet. This can increase your catch rate dramatically. A good bait set in the back behind the trigger will have the best result.

Snares can be used in a lot of different ways, but essentially you are trying to get them to either step into the loop or walk into it to tighten around the animals neck. Setting along game trails, den openings, narrow gaps can eventually pay off. A great set is to either lay a log over a creek or use an existing one and set snares at both ends. These logs are high traffic areas and sooner or later an animal will use it to cross. Another good set if you have squirrels around is to use a fine wire snare and attach to a tree limb leaned up against a tree known to have squirrels. They will sometimes climb down the stick and snare themselves.

One rule for all of these traps is to securely attach them with wire, cable, or chain to something solid. A tree trunk or large rock will work. Using rope can be a hazard as the animals will try to chew through it and drag your traps off with them. And also remember that most states require your name and address to be attached to your trap using metal tags. You must study your local and state laws regarding trapping and any required licenses, tags, markings, and various trapping season dates before heading out to practice. Also there are some very well-done trapping videos on YouTube. And of course as with most outdoorsmen, if you meet a trapper they usually would be happy to help you get into the game and let you learn some tricks from them.

A final survival hint is for those of you preparing your bug out bags. Why not add 4 or 5 of the larger snap traps used for rats? They take up very little room, and with a little bit of peanut butter can catch small rodents and birds very effectively. You could set out 5 every day/night and I am willing to bet that most mornings you would have a tasty meal waiting for you in the morning.<

Mr. Editor,
I just wanted to let you know I attended my first RWVA Appleseed shoot last weekend and it was a great experience. I found them from their link on SurvivalBlog.

I learned how to use a sling and fire from different positions, among other things, and over all improved my mastery of my rifle.

It was well worth my time for the weekend and I will be attending another one in a couple of months.

Another nice feature of the Appleseed program is 'women shoot free' ! So husbands can bring their wives (children shoot free too, up to a certain age but you will need to check out the site to get the specifics, as do military members).

Women can attend these events alone and yet still shoot free of charge!

The instructors were great and they not only taught shooting but also the history of the American Revolution.

Even if you are already a 'good shot' there is much to learn at an Appleseed weekend. - Paulette

Dear Captain Rawles,
Are you perchance familiar with Brumby Well Pumps? They work using compressed air and are being manufactured in Australia. From what I can tell, this is a good idea if you can get compressed air to the pump. This leads to the next question: Is there a practical way of operating an air compressor with either a wind turbine or a mechanical means not requiring the grid or a gasoline engine of some sort?

When I lived in Germany I saw a number of old Volkswagen air-cooled engines that had been converted to serve as air compressors. (These operated off of two cylinders and compressed air with the other two). That would work if you had gas, but after the Schumer hits, gas will be too valuable if it can be found at all.

I'd appreciate your advice and maybe some of the readers are familiar with a means of compressing air, off the grid. I know that you have extensive experience at water wells, pumping etc.

Best Regards, - Mike B. in Florida

JWR Replies: The Brumby design is fascinating. I don't yet have any experience with them, so perhaps some readers that do would like to chime in.

In answer to your question: Yes, it is conceivable that an air compressor could be powered by a wind turbine, but that might require a gearing arrangement to achieve the requisite compression. And I can't help but wonder about the relative efficiency of compressing air with a windmill to drive a Brumby pump, rather than using traditional direct drive to raise and lower a sucker rod. My gut level instinct is to opt for simplicity, and my suspicion is that adding another energy transformation is almost certainly less efficient--due to friction losses, if nothing else.

Reader Wayne S. sent us a link to an interactive map with three "toggle" views that gives some very useful and interesting information for anyone looking to relocate. Wayne notes: "It’s truly amazing to see that most of the states that have done the best job managing their budgets are also the same states that infringe upon personal liberties the least…. Coincidence or not? As you have said many times on your blog, 'vote with your feet!'”

Reader HPD suggested this piece by Thorsten Polleit: Inflation: What You See and What You Don't See

From frequent content contributor GG: U.K. First-Quarter GDP Drops 2.4%, Most Since 1958

Items from The Economatrix:

California Government Declares Fiscal Emergency Over Budget

US Congress Pushing for Federal Reserve Audit

Cap and Trade Bill Will Lead to Capital Flight
Ron Paul calls out the "global warming" scam

The Great Bank Robbery: How The Fed is Destroying America

Britain Faces New Recession

Canada: Mint's $15.3 Million Golden Dilemma: Was There a Heist?

Weiss: California Will Default On Its Debt
"The state has appealed to Washington for a federal bailout, but it got a cool response from the Obama Administration. The next step is draconian cuts in state services and payroll, but Weiss says that will only deepen the "depression" in California, where the unemployment rate is 11.5%, by further cutting into tax revenue. Asked to put odds on California defaulting on its $59 billion in outstanding general obligation bonds, Weiss doesn't hedge. "It's unavoidable."

Credit Card Addicted Nation: How Americans Have Pushed Themselves Off Fiscal Cliff

Buchanan: Climate Bill Is Transfer of Wealth to World Government
"During an appearance on MSNBC, political commentator Pat Buchanan correctly defined the “Climate Bill” for what it really is, not just a new tax on the American people, but a complete transfer of power and wealth to a global government that is using the manufactured fear of global warming to grease the skids for total domination."

China Allows Trade Settlement in Yuan In Hong Kong

Social Security Audit Finds Dead People Getting Checks

Cheryl sent us a link to a PDF from Brookings: Which Path to Persia: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran

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Reader "MysteryMeat" mentioned this New York Times article: It’s Now Legal to Catch a Raindrop in Colorado

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson recommended two John Campbell (The Arizona Bushman) outdoor survival videos available on YouTube: The Hand Fire Drill and a Field Expedient Bow

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The folks at Directive21 (one of our newest advertisers) have expanded their product line to include stainless steel Berkey water filter models, including the Travel Berkey, Big Berkey, Royal Berkey, Imperial Berkey, & Crown Berkey. Since they get distributor-level pricing from the manufacturer, these are all being offered at extremely competitive prices.

"Inflation is a special concern over the next decade given the pending avalanche of government debt about to be unloaded on world financial markets. The need to finance very large fiscal deficits during the coming years could lead to political pressure on central banks to print money to buy much of the newly issued debt." - Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, from commentary in The Financial Times, June 26, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The new "Best Defense: Survival" television series starts on The Outdoor Channel on July 1st. The series is hosted by Michael Bane and features Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) in short segments of each of the 10 episodes, covering disaster preparedness. The details that Mike Williamson will cover are water, food, economic preparation and communication--before a disaster, while evacuating from a disaster area, and during long-term crises. Be sure to watch this very informative and useful show!

I am seeking input from SurvivalBlog readers: What are your favorite non-fiction books that relate to Preparedness, Self-Sufficiency, and Practical Skills? Just e-mail me a list of your top five book titles, with the authors' names. Oh, and if any of them are obscure or likely out of print, then please include the publisher's name, city, and year of publication. I plan to post the results of the survey in the blog, in roughly 10 days. Thanks!

My work forces me to travel frequently – 80 to 90% of the time. And it’s not to fun places like Miami or Rio but rather third world locales (just coming back from a swing through the ‘stans – Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan -- where I have a large telecommunications project). As such I get exposed to every imaginable sort of illness. I finally found a doctor I could work with when he started to ask where I had been lately rather than what the symptoms were.

As such I have a larger than normal medical kit I take with me on the road. (I also have a 1 quart water bottle sized survival kit I take with me, but more on that in another letter). So I have traveled for years and over the time the kit has grown based on the needs I could not meet in the locales I was in. It really took off when I spent one early December in Beijing and for three weeks the entire stock of western medicines in Beijing was sold out – no decongestants, no ibuprofen, and no sleep as a very bad cold kept me up.

Over the years I have found certain habits to be essential to keeping healthy overseas. First and foremost is a regular dosage of Vitamin C. As soon as I think I am coming down with something I start on a regime of Golden Seal mixed with Echinacea. Finally, I make sure that I have various OTC cold medicines with me at all times – such as Mucinex and 12-hour Sudafed. I also carry Ciprofloxacin, various sulfa drugs, and more recently Tamiflu, as well.

On top of this I am a hygiene nut – washing hands frequently, making quite sure that the water for tea is boiling before I get it, carrying hand wipes with me (Okay, since my youngest is finally out of diapers I am using up the last of the small diaper wipe packets), and the like.

Now while frequent close contact is the norm in many cultures and cannot be avoided without causing undue friction--I still can’t bring myself to do the nose rub with the Arabs--and although I do teach impromptu martial arts classes to all comers in hotel gyms, I do try to limit it.

But all my precautions were to no avail with the Swine Flu. I am just getting over it and have passed it on to my 17-year old son. I assume that the rest of the family will follow in short order (five kids means lots of germ breeding goes on). And if you were in the Frankfurt airport on Saturday – I probably gave it to you as well.

As such I would strongly recommend that folks, while preparing with masks and gloves and the like, concentrate on preparing for getting swine flu. I did everything “right” from a prevention stand point without turning myself into a hermit. And yet here we are with it spreading in my family.

What I have found in my personal case is that the three key medicines to have on hand were Mucinex [expectorant], 12-hour Sudafed [decongestant], and Albuterol Sulfate (found in most of the asthma inhalers and commonly used in nebulizer treatments for breathing disorders). Fortunately, with my travels I have a prescription for, and carry, one of the asthma inhalers for those times that I have come down with various forms of pneumonia while on the road. - Hugh D.

I thought that SurvivalBlog readers might be interested in a Dental class being conducted by Dr. Loomis (DDS) in Tennessee. Tom Loomis has been teaching at our classes for almost as long as we have had the school. On August 14-15 he will be teaching a Field Dentistry class near his office in Tennessee. The student will get the unheard of chance to fill cavities, replace broken or missing crowns, extract teeth and use a high speed dental drill. The drill is the same type used in any dental office. Several years ago I asked him if he could convert the air turbine drill to run off a simple [compressed] air tank which could be recharged with a bicycle air pump. He did and we now use EMP proof high speed dental drills. In fact some class members have even purchased these rigs for their survival retreats. If any of your readers are interested in completing their training with a good dental course, please contact:

Dr. Tom Loomis, DDS

Best Regards, - Chuck Fenwick, Director, Medical Corps


The figure [cited by "Feral Farmer"] of 100 square miles per hunter-gatherer can't be correct. North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles). So, at 100 square mile per hunter gatherer, would only support 95,400 natives. Considering that large chunks of the Arctic and desert are minimal in their resources, not to mention Greenland, this figure (100 sq mi) can't be correct.

Here are a couple of online references:
Agricultural practices and policies for carbon sequestration in soil By John M. Kimble, Rattan Lal, Ronald F. Follett


Food, Energy, and Society By David Pimentel, Marcia Pimentel

These suggest about 40-200 hectares (a hectare is a 100 meter square). This would allow 12 million to 60 million people for the continent, which is much more realistic.

Clearly, though, this is not an efficient way of feeding population, and [given the current population] would quickly lead to both starvation and stripping of resources. - Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large

Mr. Rawles,
If I might add a few comments to [Feral Farmer's] letter. Living in a rural and now recreational area of Wisconsin I have noticed several things. Unemployment is becoming a very serious issue here. Many businesses are simply folding or moving away. It is mostly the small one to five person business's that simply disappear. No big headlines, just quiet and slow.

1. Locals are fishing more than ever are putting up their Friday night fish fry in the freezer for future use. Friday night fish frys are almost religion here and have been for years. So if they cannot afford to go to the local bar for it, they will have the fixin's at home. This means that City folks may not be eating so well if they come here, expecting to live off the land or lake as it were. Small game is the same thing.

2. Mr. Feral's comment about taking 10 years to really know your land is so true. It cracks me up when I hear a city person ask: "What's so tough about farming? You just dig up some dirt, dump some seeds in and get some food at the end of summer." Yes, I have actually had that said to me. I have a field that is a bit lowland, and some what shaded by large pine trees. It was a pasture for the previous owner (perhaps for good reason). I have been trying for years to get a really good crop of anything off that field. The weeds seem to love it, but corn does not. This year we had a cold April, wet May and ups and downs in June. 90 for a couple of days and 60 the next. My corn refused to germinate. I view this particular field as a challenge and am determined to find a crop that will grow. I can do it because I have other very productive fields. My point is the same as Mr. Feral's. You cannot simply expect food to grow because you think it should, because you
read a book. Thank, - Carl R.

CDC Eyes 600 Million Doses of Swine Flu Shots "Health officials said that a swine flu vaccination campaign could be only a few months away, and that as many as 60 million doses could be ready by September." [JWR Adds: With the current rapid rate of mutation, one can only wonder about the efficacy of this "rush job" vaccine.]

Oregon's Second Swine Flu Death "The child was younger than 5 year old [and] had 'no known underlying medical conditions and a two-day history of fever,' and was not hospitalized, officials said."

Drug-Resistant Swine Flu Seen in Danish Patient

The BBC reports: H1N1 shows first resistance to Tamiflu (Thanks to Andrew H. for the link.)

The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury are cooking the books! Read between the lines in this Wall Street Journal article: Is Foreign Demand as Solid as It Looks? (Thanks to GG for the link.) Once a nation's treasury starts "creative accounting" and debt monetization, then the handwriting is on the wall. The death spiral for the US Dollar has already begun. It just won't be obvious to everyone for another 6 to 12 months. That is when mass currency inflation will likely begin, and once it does, barring a miracle, there will be nothing that can stop it.

F.G. sent this alarming news from England: Benefit payouts will exceed income tax revenue.

And some equally alarming news on this side of the pond: U.S.'s debtor status worsens dramatically. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

Also from GG: Why stagflation is coming

Items from The Economatrix:

Obama Calls For Cuts in Medicare and Medicaid "It is becoming increasingly clear that the essence of the administration’s health care policy, under the guise of universal coverage, is a downgrading of care for the majority of the population so as to cut health care costs for business and the government."

Celente: Cap and Trade and Other Handicaps to US Economy

Home Prices Down 18.1% On Year in April

Celente: Obamageddon - 2012 "The "green shoots" sighted by Field Marshall Bernanke this past Spring were a mirage. The 2010 economic "recovery" predicted by the same experts, authorities and financial boy scouts and cheerleaders who didn't see the economic crisis coming is pure delusion. By 2012, even those in denial and still clinging to hope will be forced to face the truth. It will be called "Obamageddon" in America. The rest of the world will call it "The Greatest Depression."

Dr. Housing Bubble 6/29/09: The Continued Crony Banking and Housing Industry Bailout: Foreclosure Scams, Japan Subprime Loans Coming Back, and Generally Bad Advice for American Consumers

What China's Push For an Alternative World Reserve Currency Means

Up, Down, Out, and Doomed (The Mogambo Guru)

A report on Field Day: Ham radio operators not yielding to future. (Thanks to KAF for the link.)

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Kevin A. mentioned: The Day that Guns Came to Church in Louisville

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North Korea Threatens to Shoot Down Japanese Spy Planes

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Switchblade law opponents cut in Hill fight (Thanks to GG for the link.)

"The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B." - James Yorke

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