January 2010 Archives

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today is the last day in the unprecedented 25% off sale on Alpine Aire freeze dried foods at Ready Made Resources. They are offering free shipping on full case lots. Don't miss out, as this is a special "test" sale, approved for just Ready Made Resources by Alpine Aire, and might not be repeated.


Today, with permission, we present a guest article by David Galland of The Casey Report. It comes to us by way of John Mauldin's excellent (and free) e-newsletter, Thoughts From the Frontline.

The first time I spoke with real estate entrepreneur Andy Miller was in late 2007, when I asked him to serve on the faculty of a Casey Research Summit. As John Mauldin, a former faculty member himself, knows, we're very selective with our speakers. And there was no one in the nation I wanted more than Andy to address the critical topic of real estate.

My interest in Andy was due to the fact that he has been singularly successful in pretty much all aspects of the real estate market, including financing and developing large projects – such as shopping centers, apartment communities, office buildings, and warehouses – from one end of the country to the other. His expertise has also allowed him to build an impressive business providing assistance to large financial institutions that need help in dealing with problem commercial real estate loans. As you might suspect, business is booming.

Back in 2007, however, what most intrigued me about Andy was that he had been almost alone among his peer group in foreseeing the coming end of the real estate bubble, and in liquidating essentially all of his considerable portfolio of projects near the top. There are people that think they know what's going on, and those who actually know – Andy very much belongs in the latter category.

In fact, he initially refused to speak at our event, only agreeing very reluctantly after I had hounded him for several months. The reason for his refusal, I later found out, was that he had spoken at several industry events before the real estate collapse and had been all but booed off the stage for his dire outlook.

The happy ending of this story is that Andy's speech at our Summit was a rousing success, and he enjoyed it so much that he has now spoken at several, and has kindly agreed to sit for periodic interviews to keep our readers up to date on the latest developments in this critical sector. So far, Andy's real estate forecasts continue to come true.

As you'll read in the following excerpt from my latest interview with Andy, who now spends considerable time each day helping the nation's biggest banks cope with growing stacks of problem loans, he remains deeply concerned about the outlook for real estate.

David Galland

No one has been more right on the housing market in recent years. So, what's coming next? Some of the housing numbers in the last few months look a little less ugly. Could housing be getting ready to get well?

MILLER: I don't think so.

For all intents and purposes, the United States home mortgage market has been nationalized without anybody noticing. Last September, reportedly over 95% of all new loans for single-family homes in the U.S. were made with federal assistance, either through Fannie Mae and the implied guarantee, or Freddie Mac, or through the FHA.

If it's true that most of the financing in the single-family home market is being facilitated by government guarantees, that should make everybody very, very concerned. If government support goes away, and it will go away, where will that leave the home market? It leaves you with a catastrophe, because private lenders for single-family homes are nervous. Lenders that are still lending are reverting to 75% to 80% loan to value. But that doesn't help a homeowner whose property is worth less than the mortgage. So when the supply of government-facilitated loans dries up, it's going to put the home market in a very, very bad place.

Why am I so certain that the federal government will have to cut back on its lending? Because most of the financing is done via the bond market, through Ginnie Mae or other government agencies. And the numbers are so big that eventually the bond market is going to gag on the government-sponsored paper.

The public doesn't have any idea of the scale of the guarantees the government is taking on through Fannie, Freddie, and FHA. It's huge. If people understood what the federal government has done and subjected the taxpayers to, there would be a public outrage. But you can't get people to focus on it, and it's very esoteric, it's very hard to understand. But it's not something the bond market won't notice. The government can't keep doing what it has been doing to support mortgage lending without pushing interest rates way up.

Refinancings of single-family homes are very interest-rate sensitive. Consumers have their backs against the wall. They have too much debt. Refinancing their maturing mortgages or their adjustable-rate mortgages is very problematic if rates go up, but that's exactly where they're headed. So anyone who's comforted by current statistics on single-family homes should look beyond the data and into the dynamics of the market. What they'll find is very alarming.

On that topic, recent data I saw was that something like 24% of the loans FHA backed in 2007 are now in default, and for those generated in 2008, 20% are in default, and the FHA is out of money.

MILLER: Fannie Mae had a $19 billion loss for the third quarter of 2009, and they are now drawing on their facility with the U.S. Treasury. We have all forgotten that Fannie and Freddie are still being operated under a federal conservatorship. On Christmas Eve, the agency announced that they were going to remove all the caps on the agencies.

So what about commercial real estate?

MILLER: When I saw what was happening in the housing market, I liquidated all my multifamily apartments, shopping centers, and office buildings. I liquidated all my loan portfolios, and I'm happy I did.

Then it occurred to me in 2005 and 2006 that the commercial world had to follow suit. Why? Because it's a normal progression. Obviously, when single-family homes decline in value, multifamily apartments decline in value. And when consumers hit the wall with spending and debt, that's going to have an impact on retailers that pay for commercial space.

Furthermore, the financing for retail properties had gotten ludicrous. The conduits were making loans that they advertised as 80% of property value when they originated them, but in reality the loan-to-value ratios were well over 100%. And I say that to you with absolute, categorical certainty, because I was a seller and nobody knew the value of the properties that I was selling better than I did. I had operated some of them for 20 years, so I knew exactly what they were bringing in. I knew what the operating expenses were, and I knew what the cap rates were. And, you know, the underwriting on the loan side and the purchasing side of these assets was completely insane. It was ludicrous. It did not reflect at all what the conduits thought they were doing. They were valuing the properties way too aggressively.

I became very bearish about the commercial business starting in late '05. In fact, I think I was in Argentina with Doug Casey, sitting on a veranda at one of the estancias, and he and I were lamenting what was going on in the real estate business, and I said there was going to be a huge adjustment in the commercial market.

Beyond the obvious, that the real estate market has taken pretty significant hits and some banks have been dragged under by their bad loans, what has really changed in real estate since the crash?

MILLER: I think the first thing that changed was that people learned that prices don't go up forever. Lenders also saw that underwriting guidelines for commercial real estate loans, especially in the securitization markets, were erroneous. They realized that some of their properties had been financed too aggressively, but still, I don't think even at the fall of Lehman, anybody was predicting a wholesale collapse in commercial real estate.

But they did see they should be more circumspect with loan underwritings. In fact, after the fall of Lehman, they completely stopped lending. I think they realized we had been living in fantasy land for 10 years. And that was the first change – a mental adjustment from Alice in Wonderland to reality.

Today it's clear that commercial properties are not performing and that values have gone down, although I've got to tell you, the denial is still widespread, particularly in the United States and on the part of lenders sitting on and servicing all these real estate portfolios. People still do not understand how grave this is.

Right now there are an awful lot of banks that do an awful lot of commercial real estate lending, and for about a year now you've been telling me that you saw the first and second quarter of 2010 as being particularly risky for commercial real estate. Why this year, and what do you see happening with these loans and the banks holding them?

MILLER: It's an educated guess, and it hasn't changed. I still think that it's second quarter 2010.

The current volume of defaults is already alarming. And the volume of commercial real estate defaults is growing every month. That can only keep going for so long, and then you hit a breaking point, which I believe will come sometime in 2010. When you hit that breaking point, unless there's some alternative in place, it's going to be a very hideous picture for the bond market and the banking system.

The reason I say second quarter 2010 is a guess is that the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and the FDIC can influence how fast the crisis unfolds. I think they can have an impact on the severity of the crisis as well – not making it less severe but making it more severe. I will get to that in a minute. But they can influence the speed with which it all unfolds, and I'll give you an example.

In November, the FDIC circulated new guidelines for bank regulators to streamline and standardize the way banks are examined. One standout feature is that as long as a bank has evaluated the borrower and the asset behind a loan, if they are convinced the borrower can repay the loan, even if they go into a workout with the borrower, the bank does not have to reserve for the loan. The bank doesn't have to take any hit against its capital, so if the collateral all of a sudden sinks to 50% of the loan balance, the bank still does not have to take any sort of write-down. That obviously allows banks to just sit on weak assets instead of liquidating them or trying to raise more capital.

That's very significant. It means the FDIC and the Treasury Department have decided that rather than see 1,000 or 2,000 banks go under and then create another RTC to sift through all the bad assets, they'll let the banking system warehouse the bad assets. Their plan is to leave the assets in place, and then, when the market changes, let the banks deal with them. Now, that's horribly destructive.

Just to be clear on this, let's say I own an apartment building and I've been making my payments, but I'm having trouble and the value of the property has fallen by half. I go to the bank and say, "Look, I've got a problem," and the bank says, "Okay, let's work something out, and instead of you paying $10,000 a month, you pay us $5,000 a month and we'll shake hands and smile." Then, even though the property's value has dropped, as long as we keep smiling and I'm still making payments, then the bank won't have to reserve anything against the risk that I'll give the building back and it will be worth a whole lot less than the mortgage.

MILLER: I think what you just described is accurate. And it's exactly a Japanese-style solution. This is what Japan did in '89 and '90 because they didn't want their banking system to implode, so they made it easier for their banks to sit on bad assets without owning up to the losses.

And what's the result? Well, it leaves the status quo in place. The real problem with this is twofold. One is that it prolongs the problem – if a bank is allowed to sit on bad assets for three to five years, it's not going to sell them.

Why is that bad? Well, the money tied up in the loans the bank is sitting on is idle. It is not being used for anything productive.

Wouldn't banks know that ultimately the piper must be paid, and so they'd be trying to build cash – trying to build capital to deal with the problem when it comes home to roost?

MILLER: The more intelligent banks are doing exactly that, hoping they can weather the storm by building enough reserves, so when they do ultimately have to take the loss, it's digestible. But in commercial real estate generally, the longer you delay realizing a loss, the more severe it's going to be. I can tell you that because I'm out there servicing real estate all day long. Not facing the problems, and not writing down the values, and not allowing purchasers to come in and take these assets at discounted prices – all the foot-dragging allows the fundamental problem to get worse.

In the apartment business, people are under water, particularly if they got their loan through a conduit. When maintenance is required, a borrower with a property worth less than the loan is very reluctant to reach into his pocket. If you have a $10 million loan on a property now worth $5 million, you're clearly not making any cash flow. So what do you do when you need new roofs? Are you going to dig into your pocket and spend $600,000 on roofing? Not likely. Why would you do that?

Or a borrower who is sitting on a suburban office property – he's got two years left on the loan. He knows he has a loan-to-value problem. Well, a new tenant wants to lease from him, but it would cost $30 a square foot to put the tenant in. Is the borrower going to put the tenant in? I don't think so. So the problems get bigger.

Why would the owner bother going through a workout with the bank if he knows he's so deep underwater he's below snorkel depth?

MILLER: It's always in your interest to delay an inevitable default. For example, the minute you give the property back to the bank, you trigger a huge taxable gain. All of a sudden the forgiveness of debt on your loan becomes taxable income to you. Another reason is that many of these loans are either full recourse or part recourse. If you're a borrower who's guaranteed a loan, why would you want to hasten the call on your guarantee? You want to delay as long as possible because there's always a little hope that values will turn around. So there is no reason to hurry into a default. None.

So that's from the borrower's standpoint. But wouldn't the banks want to clear these loans off their balance sheets?

MILLER: No. The banks have a lot of incentive to delay the realization of the problem because if they liquidate the asset and the loss is realized, then they have to reserve the loss against their capital immediately. If they keep extending the loan under the rules present today, then they can delay a write-down and hope for better days. Remember, you suffer if the bank succumbs and turns around and liquidates that asset, then you really do have to take a write-down because then your capital is gone.

So here we are, we've got the federal government again, through its agencies and the FDIC, ready to support the commercial real estate market. They've taken one step, in allowing banks to use a very loose standard for loss reserves. What else can they do?

MILLER: Well, obviously nobody knows, but I can guess at what's coming by extrapolating from what the federal government has already done. I believe that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve now see that commercial real estate is a huge problem.

I think they're going to contrive something to help assist commercial real estate so that it doesn't hurt the banks that lent on commercial real estate. It'll resemble what they did with housing.

They created a nearly perfect political formula in dealing with housing, and they are going to follow that formula. The entire U.S. residential mortgage market has in effect been nationalized, but there wasn't any act of Congress, no screaming and shouting, no headlines in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times about "Should we nationalize the home loan market in America." No. It happened right under our noses and with no hue and cry. That's a template for what they could do with the commercial loan market.

And how can they do that? By using federal guarantees much in the way they used federal guarantees for the FHA. FHA issues Ginnie Mae securities, which are sold to the public. Those proceeds are used to make the loans.

But it won't really be a solution. In fact, it will make the problems much more intense.

Don't these properties have to be allowed to go to their intrinsic value before the market can start working again?

MILLER: Yes. Of course, very few people agree with that, because if you let it all go today, there would be enormous losses and a tremendous amount of pain. We're going to have some really terrible, terrible years ahead of us because letting it all go is the only way to be done with the problem.

Do you think the U.S. will come out of this crisis? I mean, do you think the country, the institutions, the government, or the banking sector are going to look anything like they do today when this thing is over?

MILLER: I know this is going to make you laugh, but I'm actually an optimist about this. I'm not optimistic about the short run, and I'm not optimistic about the severity of the problem, but I'm totally optimistic as it relates to the United States of America.

This is a very resilient place. We have very resilient people. There is nothing like the American spirit. There is nothing like American ingenuity anywhere on Planet Earth, and while I certainly believe that we are headed for a catastrophe and a crisis, I also believe that ultimately we are going to come out better.

About: Andy Miller is the co-founder of the Miller Frishman Group, which includes three companies serving different sectors of the real estate market – from mortgage brokerage and banking, to the building, management, and marketing of commercial real estate across the United States. His firm is currently deeply involved in the distressed real estate business, assisting lenders across the nation with their growing portfolios of non-performing loans. (Reposted with permission from John F. Mauldin's e-newsletter, Thoughts From the Frontline.)

A friend on an Austrian gun board introduced me to the Dead On Tools Annihilator Demolition Hammer. Just the photo was enough to convince me to pick one up for a try.

The balance is a bit forward, but there’s plenty of grip surface to choke up on if needed. The hammer end made short work of a 2” concrete block, and the chisel end’s impact split them readily. Note that it will need re-sharpened with a file from time to time. After the block, I tried a chunk of sandstone with some full swings. I got sparks and chipped off a few corners, but didn’t make serious headway. On the other hand, I proved it was tough enough to take the impact. (A reviewer elsewhere claimed he managed to break two of them. I’m presuming there was a run of poor heat treatment in that lot. He was given free, no-questions-asked exchanges by the company.)

The claw puller on the head has fantastic leverage, with that broad head, and made ripping nails loose an amusement rather than a chore. I even hammered a few extra 20d nails in for the fun of it, then ripped them back out.

As the image shows, there are prying surfaces everywhere—front, back, head, base of handle. There’s a wrench section for 2x4s, a drywall axe which would probably work for glass in an emergency (with the proper safety gear), and a couple of standard wrenches. The head is advertised to work as a bottle opener for when the chore is done, and it does, though it’s of marginal use. It will take a cap off, but there are easier ways.

Now, obviously, this tool looks positively medieval, and it does make a very effective war hammer, with one side for impact, one for crushing and splitting blows, and the butt spike for traumatizing jabs. Anyone with bayonet training can grip this appropriately and hack through a crowd of zombies, or heft it like an axe and use it on single opponents.

The retail price is $49.95, but several major hardware and farm chains carry them for $30, often on sale for $25. It’s worth having one in every vehicle, and one in the shop for those special jobs, and occasional stress relief. - Michael Z. Williamson. SurvivalBlog Editor At Large

Mac Slavo gets is all right in this piece posted in the SHTFPlan blog: Wealth Preservation, Investing, and Prepping in 2010. (Thanks to G.S. in the State of Jefferson for the link.)

Damon sent this: U.S. Economy Grows 5.7 Percent in Fourth Quarter of 2009. JWR Adds: They're calling it a "recovery"? That is laughable. I call it nothing more that the effect of many hundreds of billions of dollars in short term stimulus. Keep in mind that this will effectively be paid for with money borrowed from my children's generation. The current presidential administration has spent more than $3.5 trillion, and much of that went to "stimulus." And all that got was just 5.7% in growth? I suspect that the real underlying economy is actually heading into a depression that will last a decade or more. If you look at the job numbers minus the stimulus-generated make-work jobs, the government's sleight of hand is apparent.

Maybe they won't call it "conspiracy theory nonsense" anymore: Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows: David Reilly. (A tip of the hat to K.L. in Alaska for the link)

Items from The Economatrix:

Energy Prices Fall So Far in 2010

Wages and Benefits Rise Weak 1.5% in 2009

Stocks Have Dismal January, Bad Omen for 2010?

Bernanke Confirmation Means Fed Independence. He was reconfirmed by the narrowest margin in congressional history.

Weak Greece Could Drag Down Weak Eurozone

Asian Stock Markets Fall on Greece Debt Fears

Growing Shares of Americans' Income Comes From Government

Geithner Accused of Incompetence Over His Role in AIG Bailout

Reader "P.S." sent this article from an Arizona newspaper: City won't let homeowners live with solar power

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large, Michael Z. Williamson, mentioned an interesting privacy-related article over at Tech Republic: GoogleSharing: A way to prevent tracking by Google

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F.R. sent us this link: How to Survive a Fall Through Ice

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Chris S. sent a link to a video that illustrates why you should not buy a cheap light-gauge gun vault. As I've often said: There is no substitute for mass. Buy a proper vault with sufficient wall and door thicknesses! And, as previously mention in my blog, be sure to bolt it down to the floor!

"The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places..." - Habakkuk 3:19 (KJV)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

It seems a part of preparing for extremely hard times is acquiring knowledge and honing skills to maximize resources. SurvivalBlog has been tremendously helpful in developing exhaustive lists of needs, supplies, strategies and defenses. In addition, provision is made for faith, charity and quality of life to improve a healthy mental state.

As a landscape contractor for 32 years, I am now seeing more potential for self-reliance that most property owners could develop with some planning and a better awareness of the resources they may already possess. This form of preparation could substantially improve our situation both short and long term. So much of our storing up - though most vital - is of a finite nature. Just as a woodlot on our property can supply continuous fuel, the well planned garden should not only include non-hybrid seeds, building up soils through composting, manures and cover crops, but also include a small greenhouse and/or cold frame that could yield early and late fresh greens that would provide a welcome and healthy addition to food storage.

By learning now and purchasing the types of vegetables that your family will use and enjoy, you have done just the kind of preparing that we are learning about through JWR's books and blog. You will find that quite a few of your favorite vegetables are available as open pollinated or non-hybrid seeds. Many of the beans and peas are not hybrid anyway, as are lots of the salad crops. However, most of the sweet corn we know are hybrid varieties so you might want to look for Golden Bantam or True Gold sweet corn. Most of the great tasting tomatoes we grew up with were non-hybrid. My grandparents saved the seed from year to year and if you have ever wondered why its so hard to find a good tasting tomato, it is because most hybrids are bred for shelf-life and not taste for commercial producers. It seems these genes are somewhat incompatible. Most tomato hybrids however do have the designation of VF hybrid. That is important to know because it indicates resistance to verticullum and fucaidin wilt also known as early and late blight of tomato. Knowing this allows you to store some fungicides - either organic or chemical or both in my case. Another worthwhile gem is knowing how to avoid having tomatoes rot on the bottom before they ripen. This is called blossom-end rot and stems from a calcium deficiency. This can be avoided, more easily than it can be cured, by adding a small amount of lime at planting. The lime contains calcium and raises the PH which also makes the calcium that is present more available to the plant minimizing this frustrating problem.

This is not intended to be a complete guide to anything, but rather to stimulate awareness of your own potential resources and encourage some garden planning to optimize your own property.

As JWR has mentioned here before, rose bushes planted under a window could discourage entry. If you take that idea a little further, there are some lesser known plant selections that can make your property far less accessible. If you have an open field of view and perhaps a place where you would like to incorporate an impenetrable hedge, take a look at Julian Barberry. I never used it much in landscape design because it is so mean I did not figure anyone would want to get near the thing! Now it is looking a lot better to me. I cannot imagine anyone getting through a hedge of that, yet viewed from any distance it simply appears to be an attractive addition to the landscape rather than the vicious barrier that it is. Here you have an example of security hidden in plain sight.

Another option, if you have the room, is pyracantha. This is an angry plant I have also avoided. The Latin word for pyracantha is "firethorn". That should tell you something. When you get stuck with its thorns, it remains sore as it injects you with a little toxin to keep it sore. The beauty is it starts hurting immediately. At a glance you would see a landscape plant that flowers with a heavy white display in Spring and yields orange or red berries in the late summer.

Most folks have forgotten about a tree call osage-orange or hedge apple. Hardy across much of the country, the osage orange was originally planted as a living fence. It lost its appeal with the introduction of barbed wire for livestock. The attributes of this tree do not end there. The fruit of this plant has been used for decades to repel insects inside places such as cellars or closets. It is a natural insect repellent. The wood of hedge apple is extremely strong and was used by the Osage Indians to make their bows, thus the name, osage orange.

We have a 10 acre tract in Tennessee, mostly wooded, for a good supply of firewood for heating and cooking if needed. This past year we built a pond for additional water and fishing and to take the guesswork out of wondering if it would stay full in dry times. I decided to put a 45 mil rubber pond liner in to make sure it held water. A Y-diverter has been installed with the gutters on our house to give the option to fill rain barrels, pipe water to pond, or fill underground tanks for irrigation.

By planting fruit trees and blueberries, we hope to extend and enhance our food storage. When selecting fruit trees to plant, be sure and learn which varieties you will need as pollinators. I have planted Fuji, Honey Crisp, Mt Boomer and Early Transparent for favorite apples, but also a Golden Delicious because it is a great pollinator for many other apples. Planting several varieties can also extend the season in which you can have fresh fruit. The some principle applies with the blueberries. Here you will find early, mid-season, and late varieties. They provide an attractive naturalizing grouping that does not attract attention. I would recommend purchasing bird netting to cover the plants so you can enjoy your crop instead of just feeding the birds.

Another little known ornamental plant that provides food is the Service Berry. A shrubby tree that blooms in early Spring before the dogwoods, it produces a delicious berry that is extremely rich in Vitamin A and is great to eat fresh or made into jam. This addition to the "prepared property" does not appear in the least cultivated, yet subtly yields another source of food. Hidden in plain sight again.

Native already to this property are walnuts, mulberries, raspberries, elderberries, and of course, blackberries. These elements should help provide some variety of jams and jellies for all that wheat bread we are going to have.

A trip to the health food store can be an educational experience for those seeking medicinal plants to grow. Items such as Sambucol, Echinacea, St. Johns Wort, and Solomon's Seal are very common, easy to grow plants that would never appear as anything but ornamental. Sambucol is elderberry, found wild throughout Appalachia. Remember the song Elderberry Wine? St. John's Wort is hypericum, a vigorous yellow flowering ground cover. Echinacea is a brightly colored perennial and Solomon's Seal is a native perennial found in shady areas. All of these and many more have multiple uses and are only meant as an introduction to plants for medicinal purposes. A couple of good books in your library could prove a valuable resource, but will not do you much good unless you have the plants available to you as not all are wild plants. By simply learning some of the more useful perennials and herbs and incorporating them in your garden now, you can have available to you a selection of plants for cooking, for medicinal purposes, and for a variety of teas.

One final invaluable resource could prove to be the woodland around you. Many years ago the uses and properties of trees were better known and much of that knowledge has been nearly lost. Once when replacing a roof on an original log house, I discovered the lath strips holding the tin on was a wood I could not quite identify. A very old fellow I thought might have a guess told me very matter of factly "Well I reckon its probably Black Gum, that's what folks used to hold their roofs on". Black Gum lumber, while not very good for most things, is excellent lath because the wood fibers seem as if they are woven rather than straight grained. This quality is ideal for holding nails in tight forever on a roof through constant tugging of wind. Without this explanation, one might waste the tree for firewood and find it impossible to split. A fellow I know used to keep a few blocks of it around just to embarrass city folks that wanted to try their hand at "bustin' wood".

We are just finishing up sawing some lumber with a portable band saw mill to have on hand lumber I will need for a barn, a garden shed, and some extra lumber for projects or barter. We are fortunate to have lots of very mature trees and I selected those that appeared to be thinning in the top, a sign that they were "going the other way", and any potential problem trees that could go down in a storm near buildings. Now sawed and stuck with spacer sticks is white oak, poplar, hickory, walnut, cherry, sassafras, maple, and of course black gum for the lath on the barn roof.

The root cellar is half-way constructed and the solar project only in the planning stages. It seems there is far more to do in front of me than behind me. Thanks for all the wisdom and encouragement to all of us.

Over the last four years I've bought at least eight rifle slings. From the over the shoulder slings (which do not keep the weapon anywhere near ready) to complicated tactical slings. A year or two ago I ordered the "end all be all" of Tactical slings at the recommendation of a sales associate, then got it home and have had a hard time working that thing. It was complicated and I could not get it to work as described. Frankly, in a SHTF situation, I probably would have hog-tied myself with it, leaving myself bound, gagged and defenseless in the presence of an attacker. I had started to think that maybe it was just me, maybe I was the problem and maybe I was expecting too much from a sling.

My criteria was simple though:

1. The sling needed to be rugged and well made.
2. The sling needed to keep the rifle on the front of me near ready.
3. It needed to be simple to use.

# 3 was really important to me because in a panic, I can't be fumbling with a sling. If I am not armed and need to become armed in a flash, I need to be able to just throw it on when on the move. If I am alerted to a potentially dangerous situation, I need to be able to put on the sling in one easy step, preferably at a dead run.

Stepping back a bit, you may be asking what the big deal is, asking why I have been on such a quest to find a good sling. Sure, I could rely on my hands to carry my rifle(s) but even holding the rifle with one hand leaves me one handed if I am going about my day and performing actions other than shooting. If I need two hands, even if I stay relatively close to the rifle, then I still have to make my way back to the rifle if someone is watching and chooses to take advantage of the situation. (It is not difficult to imagine a food raider taking advantage of seeing me prop my rifle against the side of the house while I carry things to the shed.) If I use an over the shoulder sling, then I need to reach behind me or drop the sling off before I can get the rifle into a firing position. So to me, a sling is a very important part of the whole weapon system. It allows you to keep the rifle on your body at all times, near the ready.

Last week I had a friend suggest a different sling to me. It was the Spec. Ops Brand Lonestar Rig - Single Point Sling. (Spec. Ops. Brand makes other slings, but I have not used them.) The sling was $35. When I opened the package, I could tell that it was very well made and rugged, one of the better ones that I have come across. It was simple. I attached it to my rifle in a couple of minutes and when I need to use it, I just toss it on... no muss, no fuss. It keeps my weapon near ready on the front of my body and allows me to use both hands for other activities while keeping my rifle in an effective location. So, I got finally found exactly what I wanted. Now I'm going to also buy a couple more of these for my other rifles.

I have no skin in the game with this company, I don't own stock in it and I don't know anyone that works for them. They simply created a high quality product that meets my needs, so I thought that I should tell others about it, so that maybe you can skip the eight other types of slings that I tried first.

Spec. Ops list this sling for $45 and I found it at Academy Sports for $35. - CT in Texas

Reader Johnny G. recommended an article by PIMCO's Bill Gross titled: The Ring of Fire. Johnny's comment: "It is interesting to see how and where SurvivalBlog precepts and the predictions of well connected, mainstream bond investors' converge."

Some folks in England are catching on to what privately owning gold means: How to live without banks. (Thanks to Karl P. for the link.)

George Gordon ("GG") sent us this: The Fed's Anti-Inflation Exit Strategy Will Fail; Sooner or later the pressure to lend out excess bank reserves will be unstoppable.

Items from The Economatrix:

Our Financial Rulers are on Another Planet

IMF: Banks Must Raise Billions to Fend Off Crisis

UK Economy Lies on Bed of Nitroglycerin

Revealed: See Who Was Paid Off in the AIG Bailout

How The Major Stock Indexes Fared on Friday

The Latest Installment of the Friday FDIC Follies: Six More Banks Bite the Dust in California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and Washington

Our Editor At Large (Michael Z. Williamson) wrote to mention that there have been several new "underground homes" added to the 20th Century Castles (aka MissileBases.com) web site. JWR Notes: These are far beyond my budget, but interesting, nonetheless.

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I was pleased to see that the Atlas Trekker blog is now getting frequent updates. They've had some great posts on vehicular gear.

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Some folks seem that think that pump action shotguns are obsolete. I beg to differ. Courtesy of Michael Bane, here is a video of a reloading technique for advanced shooters that can keep a shotgun that has been "shot dry" or even one with a dented magazine tube still in the fight: Jasmine Jessie’s reloading technique. (To explain: under some local Cowboy Action Shooting rules, to "make it fair", a shotgun's loading is limited to just two shells. This puts pump gun shooters on a fairly level playing field with double-barrel shotgun shooters. Hence the need for rapid reloading, by hand.) For more information on this fun sport, see the SASS web site.

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A reminder that SurvivalBlog reader had a small batch of subdued Battle of Bennington flag shoulder patches custom made. This is the same flag used on our OPSEC hats and T-shirts, but in subdued brown and black colors. He now has less that 50 left, that he is now selling right near his cost, at $2.75 each. E-mail:: opsecflag@verizon.net to reserve yours!

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." - C.S. Lewis

Friday, January 29, 2010

The History Channel recently aired a docudrama that was interspersed with interviews of subject matter experts, titled After Armageddon. The show was previously mentioned here in SurvivalBlog, but I just recently got the chance to watch all of it. It portrayed a fictional family making some horrible mistakes, in the midst of a major pandemic. I assume that these mistakes were written into the script to increase the quotient for drama. (At least I hope so!) They certainly illustrated the peril of attempting to hunker down in a city with insufficient supplies. They should have "bugged out" weeks sooner!

I thought that overall the experts that the producers interviewed did a good job. Four of the most knowledgeable and articulate were of course names that you will recognize from SurvivalBlog: Kathy Harrison (author of the book "Just in Case" and a great blog), Kevin Reeve (a principal of onPoint Tactical), Michael Bane (host of DownRange TV), and Dr. Joseph Tainter. The latter is the author of the book "The Collapse of Complex Societies". Although Tainter is not a blog content contributor, I've mentioned his work several times before in SurvivalBlog.

Despite its numerous flaws, I found that the show was still worth watching. In fact, there is often value in learning from the mistakes made by others. I just hope that some of the newbies watching this show can distinguish between the good and bad decisions that are depicted.

Mr. Rawles:
I am a daily visitor to your site. Thank you for all that you do. Here are some products or vendors that offer exceptional value.

Ragnar's Ragweed Forge. Sells the Frost Mora, Swedish carbon steel knives. Plastic handled models about $10.00, including plastic belt sheath.

K & M Industries, Inc. Heirloom quality, waterproof match cases. Machined from solid brass or aluminum, for about $20.00.

Douk Douk pocket knives. Primitive little folding knives takes razor's edge. Imported from France and overpriced everywhere on the Net. Any seller willing to take a reasonable mark-up could sell these knives by the dozens.

From Powell's Books online, two paperback book reprints: Manual of Exercises in Hand-Sewing: Adopted by Industrial and Grade Schools (1904), and Hand Sewing Lessons; a Graded Course for Schools and for the Home.The line drawings are indistinct, but the topics include even basic basketry, darning, and embroidery. Highly recommended.

Also recommended is this contemporary manual: Singer Simple Mending and Repair: Essential Machine-Side Tips and Techniques.

Best wishes to you and your readers. Hard times are coming, and we need to take care of each other. - Bookish

I enjoyed the article by Chris on bee keeping and fur trapping. Ever since setting my first muskrat trap in 1974, I have been an avid trapper, not missing a year since, regardless of fur market prices. The knowledge one gains with respect to any furbearer that is pursued becomes very intimate if pursued successfully with passion year after year. Its not enough to just understand the general behavior of the furbearer. To successfully trap furbearers, one must know exactly where the animal will step. Close doesn’t always count in this sport. I once read where if one wants to really learn about the outdoors, talk to a trapper.

We know that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, the local deer herd and much of the small game in any given area will be decimated relatively quick. I have trapped cliff edges overlooking several rivers in my area for years with well worn paths leading from crevice dens and transition or bottleneck areas. These areas have always been very productive with no competition to speak of. The cliff areas would be the last areas to provide food and fur in a TEOTWAWKI event in my area.

I have 45 rats, mink and several red fox going to the fur dealer this evening. I ‘m looking forward to trapping beaver in February as they will be very prime. I will have the beaver hides tanned as beaver hides are very durable and I enjoy making collars , mittens, et cetera. If you have ever tried beaver tail, you know it is quite tasty. I skin the tail, boil it, then cook it wrapped in aluminum foil with butter and some garlic. I then chill it in the frig, cut in small cubes and serve on a cheese and cracker tray. Excellent! - Ed D.

Thanks for the interesting article on the Ryobi 12v solar setup.

Just wanted to chip in some advice on Ryobi batteries: Of the name brand cordless tools, Ryobi seems to have the worst NiCd battery quality. When used carefully, they will work well for a couple of years. If pressed hard, they will die a much earlier death. I have found that some packs will have a bad cell, dramatically shortening the entire pack’s life after only a few months. I’ve experienced this with 9.6v, 14v, and 18v Ryobi setups. Even the healthier packs, when pushed hard, particularly with a high drain device like a circular saw, die a quick death. To maximize the useful life, do not push them to the point where the battery pack gets hot and is completely drained. Such hard use guarantees the pack will lose capacity and cease to hold a charge for extended periods of time.

Ryobi’s latest 18v sets (“ONE+”) can be powered by either their lithium or NiCd packs. If the purchaser can afford the lithium setup, it is a better investment, as the lithium packs last longer in use, hold a charge longer, and have much better shelf life. If you cannot afford the lithium battery packs with the initial purchase, consider adding them later, as the same 18v charging setup you describe will work with either type of battery.

Also, Home Depot’s Rigid cordless tool line currently come with a lifetime warranty that includes the lithium battery packs, and they will replace the batteries if they fail to hold a charge, regardless of the reason. The Rigid line may be a good alternative for those purchases who intend hard use for their cordless tools. The Rigid line is typically twice as costly as the Ryobi line, but they do occasionally go on sale and represent a better value for people who wear out their battery packs. Regards, - Rich S.


With regards to A Simple Off-the-Shelf Solar Power System and Off-Grid Power Tools, I must object to a portable tool solution based on short ("2-3 years") rechargeable batteries which are fundamentally non-replaceable after TSHTF as opposed to a contrasting setup using inverters to operate 117 VAC-conventional power tools - all other parameters being identical. Just skip the 18 volt rechargeable tools and batteries and DC-to-DC chargers and stick with regular AC tools.

In order to prolong the deep-cycle lead-acid batteries into the "unlimited" range: stay within the top 10% of the battery capacity. Not only will you not have to worry about replacing high-technology 18volt portable batteries every three years, but you won't even have to worry about replacing deep-cycle lead acid every seven years neither. - R.S.

JWR Replies: I agree with the simplicity of your approach.

Sadly, there is no such thing as a "forever" or "unlimited life" lead-acid battery. Even if they are kept fully charged, they will eventually sulfate. That chemical reaction is inevitable, and can at best just be delayed. One evidence of this telephone companies spending millions of dollars rotating their deep cycle batteries that they they use for backup at the Central Offices (COs). IIRC, they are replaced once every eight years. And those batteries only rarely get drawn down. ("Cycled.") If there were some way to make lead-acid batteries have unlimited life, the phone companies would have implemented it long ago.

Spike In Severe H1N1 in Memphis, Tennessee Children "...the traditional flu season is beginning, which will likely lead to emergence of a new swine H1N1 strain."

H1N1 Fatality Rate in Memphis Children Raises Concern "The flu season in the US traditionally peaks in February or March, so the increases seen in Memphis may represent the start of a dramatic rise in severe and fatal cases. Seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 have virtually disappeared in much of the northern hemisphere including the United States, so pandemic H1N1 variants will likely emerge in the next few weeks."

H1N1 School Closings in Donetsk, Ukraine "Of the 30 cases with D225G/N, 29 were from fatal cases. This high fatality rate raises concerns that an increase in D225G/N levels will lead to a pronounced increase in severe or fatal H1N1 cases and reports of school closings in Donetsk due to a rise in cases raises concerns that the number of fatalities will significantly increase in the near term."

Initial H1N1 Attack Rate Raises Pandemic Concerns "In many areas which had two waves, the target population of the second wave was somewhat older, suggesting a high percentage of the under 65 population was infected with H1N1. This widespread immunity will put pressure on the virus to grow at higher levels or escape from the immune response, leading to concerns of a more severe upcoming wave."

WHO slams swine flu critics as 'irresponsible'

Swine flu still spreading in Ireland--but slowing

CDC Chart: Swine flu peak has passed. (BTW, the CDC Weekly updates are worth watching.)

Reader Brian B. sent us a link to some news from near Machu Picchu, Peru: The folks in Aguas Calientes are in hot water. Brian's comments: "Mudslides have blocked all roads and the train tracks leading to the area, stranding up to 2,000 tourists. Locally, some 10,000 residents have been affected and 2,000 homes have been destroyed. Poor weather has hampered rescue and relief efforts. Food and fresh water are becoming increasingly difficult to locate which has led to price gouging ($3.50 for a bottle of water)."

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Chuck M. flagged this article from a British newspaper: My free and easy life. It begins:: "When Katharine Hibbert lost her job and her flat she didn't just downsize – she decided to dispense with money altogether, living on the stuff the rest of us throw away."

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There are just two days left in the unprecedented 25% off sale on Alpine Aire freeze dried foods at Ready Made Resources. They are offering free shipping on full case lots. Don't miss out, as this is a special "test" sale, approved for just Ready Made Resources by Alpine Aire, and might not be repeated.

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After Three Months, Only 35 Subscriptions for Newsday's Web Site. JWR Adds: Gee, and people ask me why I don't have a "by subscription only" option for "premium content." I'd rather continue to put everything in SurvivalBlog out there free for the taking, and let advertising and a few Ten Cent Challenge subscriptions pay the bills here at the ranch.

"No greater wrong can ever be done than to put a good man at the mercy of a bad, while telling him not to defend himself or his fellows; in no way can the success of evil be made surer or quicker." - Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, January 28, 2010

There are just a few days left in the unprecedented 25% off sale on Alpine Aire freeze dried foods at Ready Made Resources. They are offering free shipping on full case lots. Don't miss out, as this is a special "test" sale, approved for just Ready Made Resources by Alpine Aire, and might not be repeated.


Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

I am a dentist with approximately 20 years experience.  My hobbies are eccentric by many modern people’s standards.  After reading many of the  articles on the survivor blog I thought that I might have a unique perspective to add to the wealth of undervalued information posted on the site. 

While reading James Wesley Rawles book I was not surprised to find out that Honey maintains stability for years in storage. This did not surprise me as I am a hobby bee keeper myself.  This in and of itself makes long term storage of honey a wonderful glucose reserve.  Few people realize that Honey was found in King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.  Scholars believe that the honey was still stable and edible.  A recent article in Bee Culture magazine discussed the issues surrounding natural bacterial static properties of honey as well as  botulism  toxin and raw honey.  This might be a good time to reinforce that raw/natural honey should never be fed to infants under the age of two.  As adults we all have resistance to botulism toxin due to long term slow small quantity exposure to the toxin.  Infants, young children and immuno-compromised adults can not break down the toxin and metabolize it.  That same article discussed the fact that honey has natural immune properties that lice or kill bacteria in situ.  For that reason many homeopathic doctors utilize honey in the way that we utilize triple antibiotic ointment in today’s culture.  Obviously this antimicrobial nature associated with honey allows for its long term storage without degradation. 

Enough about the health benefits of honey…Let’s talk about the real interesting part… The bees!  Many people fear bees due to lack of understanding.  Few people understand how enjoyable beekeeping can be with great benefits.  For instance consider the value of an average years honey flow at about 90 lbs of raw honey.  In many areas of the United States wintering over of bee colonies is simple and low cost. Even in an area like Northern Michigan where it feels like we only have three months a year without snow, many bee hives winter over well to propagate stable hives year after year.   What’s in it for you besides the occasional bee sting? When one considers candle use in situations WTSHTF beeswax has many valuable considerations.  For the novice candle maker who has only dealt with paraffin and stearic acid, beeswax offers simplicity and highly superior results.  Keep in mind that both products are side effects of animal husbandry (bee keeping in this case) that many of us overlook.  Many of us urbanites take for granted the volume of sweets and deserts offered in our modern world.  Products like honey and maple syrup were obviously delicacies of times gone by. 
A single beehive offers the gentleman farmer or recreational hobbyist great enjoyment with wonderful personal return on investment. Pollination of fruit trees and garden vegetables is the real bonus.  Since I began beekeeping 10 years ago our orchard, grapes and flower gardens have produced far beyond expectation.  Growing a garden may be important but a bountiful harvest of apples, plums, grapes and pears would surely be like winning the progressive jackpot at one of our local casinos in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  While on the subject of overproduction barter and trade come to the surface.   I defy any family to utilize 90lbs of honey in a year’s time.  You won’t get rich but you might have in your possession a commodity in great demand WTSHTF. 

For the basic individual with hobby level carpenter skills building a beehive is but a weekend project with a minimal investment in lumber. Bees are very forgiving as to wood butcher carpenter skills. Minor holes, less than perfect joints will be sealed up by the busy bee attempting to make up for the carpenters shortfalls.   Purchasing wax foundation and frames is minimal in cost for a single hive.  Ordering a starter package of bees with a queen to fill the hive initially only costs about 60.00.  From there you need a veil, smoker and some form of coverall and gloves if one has great fear of bees.  A basic book on bee culture can be obtained along with supplies from great suppliers like Dadant and Rossman Apiaries. 

Enough about the bees…As I sit before my laptop typing this informational entry for SurvivalBlog,  the History Channel is airing a documentary on the mountain men of North America during the fur harvesting era of the great northwest.  As a young man with enthusiasm for the great outdoors I will agree with James Wesley Rawles when he cautions in his book to think twice about going it alone in the woods in the event of TEOTWAWKI.  Few people can begin to imagine how uncomfortable and unforgiving nature is in its average event.  The point I am trying to make is that the theory all looks good on paper  until you have broken through the ice of a beaver pond or stream in -20 degree  weather three miles from modern transportation. With this in mind few of us can begin to rationalize uncomfortable. When your feet are too numb to take another step and the matches are wet you have only begun to experience nature's wrath.  In summary, nature lacks sympathy for the unprepared.  I digress because the intent of this goat path was to direct your attention to yet another hobby.  Fur harvesting and trapping! We occupy a 200 acre parcel of land that we call home.  On an average year that parcel of property nets 15 coyote, 20 raccoons and 10-12 fox of varying species.  Muskrat and mink abound.  I realize that many people think that a meal comprised of any of the following may not seem palatable.  To the contrary, muskrat, and beaver can be prepared on the level of delicacy.  Until you have tried smoked beaver jerky and sausage I would advise reconsideration.  Few people understand that beaver meat is high in protein and sought after by sled dog races for the high quality meat it provides.  Don’t forget the value of rendered beaver fat for leather sealing and other uses.  While I have not partaken in consuming raccoon, when one applies the concept of you are what you eat, I would consider that a raccoon harvested from a Oak or Maple forest could be quite delectable in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  We recently watched the latest edition of the Terminator series, Terminator Salvation. At one point in the movie a young survivor was asked what he was eating and he responded “Two day old coyote, beats the hell out of three day old coyote”!  With all humor aside one reflects on the old statement of what will be left in the event of a major disaster: coyotes and cockroaches!  I am by no means advocating a diet rich in fox, coyote and cockroach protein. 

I advocating is considering becoming a recreational fur harvester to hone one’s skills and understand what little it takes to harvest a bounty of fur and protein.  For those of you who have never had the opportunity to wear fur in extremely cold weather, I can assure you that animals are not cold!  Fur even as a trim element attached to ordinary clothing offers great warmth from frostbite in that the hollow nature of the hair creates a thermal barrier and draws moisture away from exposed skin allowing for greater comfort.  Minnesota Trap products offers a wealth of inexpensive books for the novice woodsman to add to his library.   A minimal investment of 12 fox and coyote traps and a few connibear traps are really all that one needs for production of an additional line of protein and textiles.  Learning to use snares for catching and restraining animals could be utilized not only in a fur harvesting concept but also in a security detail.  At one time in my life I felt I had a wealth of knowledge relevant to the world of hunting and fishing.  Trapping makes one aware of how little one knows about wildlife activity and habits.  That knowledge can be transferred to human nature and predictability of ones adversary should the need arise.  While I am in no way advocating learning the concepts of how to snare white tail deer for use as a current recreational hobby, I am suggesting you put to mental record the basic understanding of the process.  Purchasing a few dozen snares of varying diameter and sizes could offer a tremendous value in ways not obviously thought of. Consider that gun shots to harvest deer in western states bring wolves to prey on hunters while dressing out the catch.  My point is that if wolves and coyotes can come to single firearm report used to harvest an animal, wouldn’t you consider that your fellow urban refugee might apply the same mental prowess?  Trapping and snaring allow for game to be quietly dealt with without attention being drawn to one’s activity. WTSHTF one would be better served to be quiet and discrete about your activities.   With that in mind I would recommend one consider researching RAM Power Snares. (also available from Minnesota Trapline Products).  Please understand that different states have different laws defining the use of snares and traps.  Notwithstanding is the use of the RAM power snare! My recommendation is ownership with use limited to TEOTWAWKI situations.  Understanding of how they are used should be limited to extrapolation from legal snaring techniques. 
Trapping is slowly becoming an art lost to the elders of our society.  However, there are still many old timers and young individuals with a wealth of knowledge that they are happy to share.  As Mr. Rawles so eloquently notes in his book, Skills are the items of the greatest value in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  Hone them as you would the edge of your best knife. 

Fur prices have dropped to unfortunate levels over the past few years, so don’t get into this hobby for any other reason than education. You will certainly not become the next John Jacob Astor or owner of the next Hudson Bay Company.   Many of the people sharing information in the community about trapping will direct the novice fur harvester to a market during the education process to sell their catch. 

I hope the information provided in this article offers those who choose to read it some perspective on subject matters that might come from a different direction.  With that in mind I would welcome an entry on the basis of producing high quality whiskey through a safe distillation process..  If I am going to be here after TSHTF I want to be sure that either Jack Daniels makes it through with me or that I have refined the formula for production of whiskey.  Good Luck and God Bless.

Hi Jim
I'm currently listening to the audiobook of "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It", and I'm at the part about vermin control.

I have used a very effective way to eradicate moles a number of times, as follows:

1) Locate the extremities of the mole run (i.e. mole hills furthest apart) and uncover both mole hills carefully to expose the burrows.
2) Make two buckets of moist "almost mud" soil to use as caps, place one bucket at each hole.
3) Reverse your vehicle to one of the holes and run a hosepipe from your exhaust into the first hole, cap the pipe and hole with some mud. It also helps to wrap a wet cloth around the portion of hosepipe going into your exhaust to prevent it melting.
4) Start your vehicle and go down to the other hole, once you smell exhaust fumes, cap that hole and then turn off your vehicle.
5) Cap the first hole with your "mud pack"
6) Leave the tunnel complex as is.

We find that this will effectively gas the entire mole population and they will not return to the same area. Personally I believe it's better than putting poisoned bait down, but still not 100% green. We only treat area's that require it, gardens and lawn etc. Our last treatment is four years ago and even though there is mole activity all around the perimeter they have yet to return to the previously gassed areas.

We don't have gophers [in South Africa] so that's for one of your guys to try and report back.

Regards, - Joe Ordinary Voortrekker

Mr. Rawles,
I am a collector for a large bank. Before I go out to repossess ("repo") a car, motorcycle, RV, etc. I use Google map and Google earth to try to locate my collateral.

In most cities and towns Google has paid a company to take street view pictures of your house and property. More often than not, the vehicle is sitting in the driveway or in front of the house and there is a nice picture of it. Also Google earth allows me to see if it is hidden in the back 40. If you look close enough you can see what looks out of place or see the shadows of the vehicle and find the hidden collateral.

Most people leave the garage door open so I can look into it from the safety of my desk. It always surprises me at what I can see from those pictures.

You can also see dog houses, helpful to know so I don't get bitten while looking at your property from outside the fence (I bring dog treats along to help them keep quiet, works all the time). - J. from Spokane

Dear Jim,
I'm writing to let your readers know that there are services other than Google Earth which may provide detailed overhead photographs of their homes. Most alarmingly, the services complement each other by using different data and photographs, so one should not draw unreasonable comfort if one particular service (e.g. Google Earth ) does not by itself show excessive detail of one's property. Different sites have different strengths and weaknesses and can be easily combined to provide outstanding intelligence.

The best (worst?) example of an alternative is Microsoft's Bing.com, whose mapping service features generally inferior satellite photos to Google, but which also provides something called "Bird's Eye View". Their "Bird's Eye View" uses aerial photographs shot from low-flying airplanes, not satellites. Its coverage is spotty in some rural areas, but it is always expanding. Since it uses aerial photos and not satellite photos, it shows a completely different and more natural perspective from Google and therefore complements it nicely. The photos also generally shows much greater detail than Google's satellite photos.

I used Google and Bing together with other services (FEMA flood maps, etc.) to gather very detailed intelligence on potential retreats before purchasing one. I'm sure the "bad guys" can be counted on to do the same.

I would also caution your reader Garnet (and all of your readers) against relying on perceived data or technology problems, such as ambiguous cursor location, for comfort from any of these sites. They are all constantly "improving" their services. For example, Google has recently added lot lines to maps in some areas, including mine. Previously it was a "secret" (i.e. available only through a records request at Town Hall) that my property is not only larger than one would assume from a satellite photo, but includes a certain feature that would otherwise appear to belong to a neighboring lot. Now it is visible to anyone who cares to check. Regards, - John S.

Wayne P. alerted me that Canary Islands Press now offers a free downloadable PDF of an older edition of J.J. Luna's privacy book "How To Be Invisible". It has a lot of useful tips. I'm not sure how long it will be available, so download your copy soon.

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The Baker sent this article that illustrates what I like to call A Neighborhood Watch on Steroids: In the midst of Haiti's devastation, a community of strangers comes together

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SurvivalBlog reader "N." mentioned that there is a wealth of free manuals available online at SurvivalBound.com.

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The folks at Directive21 (one of our advertisers) have the Travel Berkey water filter sale priced at $205. That's $15 off the regular price.

"Prepping, to me, is much like a seat belt. I wear a seat belt every time I get behind the wheel. I do not expect to need it. I pray to God that I'll never need it. I'd be ignorant to ignore the possibility that it may save my very life." - Pat Riot

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

There is just one full day left in the unprecedented 25% off sale on Alpine Aire freeze dried foods at Ready Made Resources. They are offering free shipping on full case lots. Don't miss out, as this is a special "test" sale, approved for just Ready Made Resources by Alpine Aire, and might not be repeated.


Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

This article is written for those who have no experience with solar power and would like to set up a simple beginner system. I have been using this system for over a year and have found it to be efficient. My goal was to put together a system which is easy to use and does not require a lot of technical knowledge.

1. BatteryMinder #SCC-015 Solar Charger 12 volt with 15 watt solar panel ($150 from Northern Tool and Supply)
2. BatteryMinder #BC2410 battery clip assembly ($10 from Northern Tool and Supply)
3. Interstate Marine/RV 12 volt battery #27DC-1 ($68 from Sam's Club)
4. Battery box for group 27 size battery ($10 from Wal-Mart)
5. Vector #VEC005 12 volt battery clips with accessory outlet ($6 from local hardware store)
6. Ryobi #P130 18 volt vehicle battery charger ($40 from Home Depot)
7. Ryobi #P824 18 volt tool starter kit with drill, circular saw, two 18 volt batteries, house current battery charger, and case ($89 from Home Depot)
8. A two or three level heavy duty shelf

Obviously, you can purchase your equipment wherever you like. If you would like to support SurvivalBlog, you can purchase the BatteryMinder solar charger and battery clip assembly from Northern Tool by starting at the "Affiliates" link on the SurvivalBlog main page, left side, third item from the top. Northern Tool also carries a number of battery powered tools. While at the blog's the "Affiliates" page, you may also want to look at the Allbattery.com site to see what is available in the way of rechargeable batteries and chargers which may be used with this system. The aforementioned equipment reflects the exact hardware that I use, so I know it works. The prices give you an idea of what your system could cost. I have listed Ryobi brand tools because I've used them for a number of years and found them to work well. You could use other brands such as DeWalt, Black and Decker, etc. I suggest you purchase tools which use at least 18 volt batteries.

SETUP: Begin by reading and heeding the instructions with all of the listed equipment. Let's start with the BatteryMinder Solar Charger (item #) and follow the instructions on setup. The instructions are four short pages on how to wire the system, position the solar panel, and how the system works. I leave my system set up 24/7 so that when sunshine is available the system is charging/maintaining the 12 volt deep cycle marine battery and even on a cloudy day some charging activity is going on. I positioned the solar panel near an exterior door of my garage so the wire from the solar panel to the charge controller can be run under the door to a three level shelf just inside the door. This way, the charge controller and the battery condition indicator are not exposed to the weather. I placed the BatteryMinder charge controller and battery condition indicator on the shelf one level above the lowest shelf.

Next, place the Interstate 12 volt marine battery (item #3) into the battery box (item #4) and place both on the bottom level of your shelves. In order to use battery clamps do not place the box top on the battery. The battery comes with two types of posts on the positive and negative sides, one post is larger, smooth sided, and designed for a battery clamp and the other post is threaded. The BatteryMinder's battery connections are the spade style with holes, these can be fastened onto the threaded posts, remember red to positive, black to negative. Northern Tool offers an optional accessory, item #2 in the Equipment List, which replaces the spade style battery connectors with battery clamps. These make it quicker to disconnect the system from the battery. I use the battery clamps instead of the spade style connectors. I connect the clamps to the large, smooth sided posts, again, red to positive, black to negative.

At this point, you have assembled the BatteryMinder system and hooked it up to the 12 volt deep cycle marine battery. When the sun is shining the battery is being charged/maintained. Now you are ready to hook up the Vector 12 volt battery clamps with accessory outlet jack (item #5). It's easy, just hook the Vector battery clamps to the unused post on each side of the battery, in my case, I use the threaded posts, again, red to positive, black to negative, I know, it's getting repetitive!

Last step - place the Ryobi vehicle charger (item #6) on the shelf above the bottom shelf. It needs plenty of space for air circulation because it puts out some heat when in use. Just plug the Ryobi charger male end into the Vector accessory female outlet.

OPERATION: With the Ryobi vehicle charger hooked to the 12 volt deep cycle battery just plug an 18 volt tool battery into the vehicle charger and wait until the green light comes on. Ryobi says a cold tool battery could take about 1 hour to charge. With the 12 volt deep cycle battery at full charge, you will have no problem charging 4 to 6 tool batteries without discharging the 12 volt deep cycle battery too much. That number of fully charged batteries would be able to do more work than I care to do at one time. If you charge a number of 18 volt tool batteries at one time, be sure to use the battery condition indicator to check the 12 volt deep cycle battery. If the indicator says "Good" you are okay, but if the indicator shows "Fair" or "Poor" you should stop charging tool batteries until the BatteryMinder has had time to catch up and fully charge the 12 volt deep cycle battery. On the battery condition indicator "Good" means the 12 volt deep cycle battery is holding a charge of 12.5 to 13.2 volts, "Fair" is 12.0 to 12.5 volts, and "Poor" is 11.5 to 12.0 volts. My BatteryMinder maintains a full charge on the 12 volt deep cycle battery of about 13.1 volts. Be sure to disconnect the Ryobi tool battery charger when not in use, it does use electricity when not charging a tool battery.

Use of tools - I have found that I use the drill the most, followed by the circular saw, reciprocating saw, and jigsaw. With occasional daily usage, the drill battery will last 2-3 weeks on a single charge. I have found these tools so useful I packed away my corded drill and circular saw. Ryobi and others have a number of other tools which use the 18 volt batteries.

Other uses - Of course you can use this charging system for other things besides charging 18 volt tool batteries. Anything that calls for a 12 volt DC car charging source can be charged, i.e. cell phones, rechargeable batteries, laptop computers, MP3 players, etc. You can also use this system to run 12 volt DC gizmos, just remember, use the battery condition indicator so that you don't too deeply discharge your 12 volt deep cycle battery.

MAINTENANCE: Not much. Other than checking the condition of the 12 volt deep cycle battery the only other thing to check is the level of water. Just fill according to the battery instructions using distilled water. If you were to use a sealed battery you can forget the distilled water. The 18 volt tool batteries last about 2-3 years with fairly steady use so they will have to be replaced. Once this system is placed into use you can stagger your purchases of new 18 volt tool batteries so that all of your tool batteries don't die at about the same time.

CONCLUSIONS: With careful monitoring, I expect the 12 volt deep cycle marine battery in this system to last seven years or more. There are no moving parts so unless an electronic part fails, the rest of the system should last a long time. BatteryMinder says you can maintain 2 parallel connected medium sized 12 volt batteries at the same time. Also, you could rotate any number of 12 volt deep cycle batteries, one at a time, to maintain a bank of fully charged 12 volt deep cycle batteries. The ability to have power tools available when there is no grid power could prove to be very useful. Even if you have a generator, it is very handy to have fully charged tool batteries available without using the generator to recharge the tool batteries. In the event that there were no new 18 volt tool batteries available, with proper battery management, you could still have the use of power tools for several years.

Dear James:
I came across article today titled Food Handouts Turn Chaotic in Haitian Capitol. I find it quite amazing that still to this day and age that the government and social aid organizations are so unorganized. I think that they should use the novel One Second After [by William R. Forstchen] as a guide for food distribution. I've just finished reading that novel, and it just justifies that all preppers (including myself) are not crazy thinkers we are just making sure that we can take care of our families when something either natural or governmental disaster happens. - A Prepared Woman in the Southern Southwest.

Howdy Mr. Rawles,

I had two comments to add to the conversation about thieves using Google Earth to steal koi.

First, when we typed our address into Google Earth, it popped to a house about a 1/4 mile from us (we checked that fact many times, not just once, so it was not a typo on our part). That was just ducky with the family, as it helped our farm stay invisible. After reading about the koi thefts, I decided to check on Google Earth again. I was so disappointed when it popped right to the farm this time!

The good thing is, since we live on a 40 acre farm, it puts the cursor right dead in the middle of the farm, in the biggest pasture. It's still hard to determine which house goes with the farm.

So if you too were rural and formerly invisible because Google Earth didn't know where you address actually was, you might want to check it again.

Second thing is when I was messing around with Google Earth I discovered how vital trees are. Specifically evergreen trees.

There are a series of pictures you can look at of the farm, dating back to 1998, taken by Google Earth.

My husband sells and delivers CONEX containers (also called cargo boxes and sea cans). My hubby installed our own 40 foot CONEX container right next to our house. We specifically picked a brown one to bring home for ourselves. My husband has legally held a CDL since he was 14 years old, and is an excellent driver, able to get the CONEX containers into difficult spots. Ours is next to the house, under the evergreen trees, and just a few feet from our propane tank.

The under the evergreen trees is the important part. In the latest pictures taken by Google Earth, you positively cannot see that an entire 40 foot CONEX container has been added to our property.

So look at Google Earth, and determine the best spots to plant evergreen trees to help camouflage your property and buildings. Sincerely, - Garnet

Reader Jeanan asks: It this a sign of a commercial real estate collapse? Owners: $5.4Billion New York housing complexes go to creditors

Robert H. recommended this piece by Paul Mladjenovic: Three Things Everyone Needs to Do with Money in 2010

Our friend Evan describes this as sort of like "doubling down" at a casino: Greece Sells 8 Billion Euros in Notes After Offering Premium

GG flagged this Reuters piece: Record number of young Americans jobless

Also from GG: Deficits As Far as the Eye Can See

Economics Update from JWR: The last I heard, the Economatrix was still snowed in, warm by her woodstove, but sans Internet. You can expect more of her posts sometime later this week.

F.R. highlighted a post over at The Sipsey Street Irregulars blog that has a link to a PDF from a 1960s military journal, article, titled "Organized Looting." Here is the Sipsey Street editor's comment: "This article by Leo Heiman, a veteran of the Rossokovsy Brigade of Russian Partisans, from Military Review, February 1965 discusses some of the uncomfortable logistics issues guerrillas must face. Read it, consider which of its lessons apply to you and redouble your caching efforts." JWR Adds: FWIW, the same thing went on in communist revolutions worldwide, throughput the 20th Century, and may explain why so many of them have failed: Citizens don't enjoy seeing their property toted away for some amorphous "cause."

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Man Arrested After Weapons, Map of U.S. Military Facility Seized From N.J. Motel Room. (Thanks to Word for the link. Word's comment: "Gee, you don't suppose the guy is a Muslim, do ya?"

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Trent H. sent me a news story that describes how the 2010 US Census is beginning in the hinterboonies of Alaska.

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Reader F.G. spotted this news article: California inmate release plan begins. Here is a quote from the article: "The state's controversial plan to reduce its prison population by 6,500 inmates over the next year begins today, with victims and law enforcement groups once again warning it will increase crime."

"At the moment of every day I must decide what I am going to do the next moment; and no one can make this decision for me, or take my place in this." - Jose Ortega y Gasset

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

There are just three days left in the unprecedented 25% off sale on Alpine Aire freeze dried foods at Ready Made Resources. They are offering free shipping on full case lots. Don't miss out, as this is a special "test" sale, approved for just Ready Made Resources by Alpine Aire, and might not be repeated.

During many years of "hiding, prepping and watching" I've tried to determine what series of events may lead to TEOTWAWKI. There are many, but not obvious to most.

Hurricane Katrina and Haiti are examples of either predictable events or unpredictable instantaneous events as would be a single nuclear event such as a "suitcase bomb" . Each of these has a number of things in common, but the most significant is the limited geography associated with each. The biggest difference between Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake is the lack of adjacent unaffected land. In the case of Hurricane Katrina there was a place to bug out to, on foot or by vehicle, without walking into hostility, and the time to do it. In Haiti, there is no warning and no place to go unless you are a long distance swimmer, but it will be remedied and controlled. There will simply be more deaths and casualties along the way. There will be survivors and they will by and large return to the way things were before the quakes.

By and large, events such as these are attended to with aid being provided from outside the immediate area. How well the aid is administered and how soon it arrives is a subject for another time. Needless to say, it always arrives later rather than sooner; get used to it. Survival during these types of events is always in the relatively "short term", unless you are in the middle of it; I'm sure it then seems very long term. If not crushed by falling debris, me and mine will get through these types of events. We are prepared to do so.

I've quit thinking about those types of events, as I'm either prepared for them or I'm not, but they are not TEOTWAWKI events. I've focused on the type of events that creep up on you, but that cause long term and lasting changes to society as a whole. These are on a much larger scale with little or no aid or organization from anyone. The "aid providers" will be worried about providing for themselves, as will everyone else. This concerns me much more than a short term catastrophe. What events could cause this and what kinds of subtle warnings should one be looking for?

Our society is so intertwined that any number of small subtle events can build up to and then spark these events. As with Hurricane Katrina, those signs are out there. You are being warned, and just have to identify what they are and be on the outlook for them. I would compare Haiti to a localized small nuke; no warning, nothing to see coming, it just happens.

People will kill for a number of reasons. Lack of Food, Water and Shelter, and all that it takes to get them, will be the most common reason . Other immediate threats or perceived threats to their loved ones is on the same level or next on the list. All other reasons are subsets of those. We are now seeing, if we are aware and watching, the beginnings of many of those reasons.

It could be a stock market crash, droughts, government failure to renew its short term debt, political upheaval, increased taxes or something as obvious as hyperinflation caused by continued Fed intervention into the economy. It is likely that all of these things and many others, in their own small way, will collectively be the straw that breaks the camel's back. There is no way to tell which one or ones and when it is likely to happen. History tells us that it will happen. I've decided to carefully monitor world events through all media sources and try to weed out the wheat from the chaff.

Some Observations:

I could ramble on forever about all of these things, but consider that hyperinflation is absolutely in our future. It's caused by the Federal Reserve Bank and our government. The only way to decrease the value of what we owe is to print more money, or go to war. Printing more money simply dilutes the value of the dollar in this country. We buy oil with those dollars, and the less they are worth, the more dollars it takes to buy it. All things in our world are directly related to oil. The more it costs, the more everything else costs. Most of our goods are imported from foreign countries. The less the dollar is worth, the more dollars it costs to buy them. As the dollar decreases in value and it takes more dollars to buy the same old necessities, your paycheck never increases proportionately, and if the company you work for fails to make a profit, you'll be unemployed. That $2 gallon of milk may soon cost $5 or even $10 dollars. As in Zimbabwe, $1,000 or more dollars. Sometimes it can't be had at any price. Our money today has decreased dramatically in value and purchasing power since the Federal Reserve began in 1913. If you are my age, you'll remember 15 cent per gallon gasoline. At that time minimum wage was $1.25 per hour. I could buy 8.3 gallons of gas for every hour worked. Today, using the same comparison, I could almost buy only 3 gallons for one hour worked at today's minimum wage. This applies to all commodities. It's only going to get worse, much worse.

Schumer rolls down hill. The prevailing attitude is: "When I can't buy it but have to have it, I'll steal it. If my kids are starving, I'll kill for it." Get the picture? It doesn't take a single event to cause this, although a single event could get us to the same place.

Suppose that nationwide draughts caused decreased crop harvests. It's already been happening for years. Food reserves are the lowest they have ever been. Supply and demand dictates price. Less supply equals higher prices. Watch the crop forecasts. The price of oil also dramatically affects the price of fertilizer, cost of food preparation and transportation. Just stop in a convenience store and buy a candy bar. How much does it cost now, compared to a year ago; compared to two years ago? On a very small scale that candy bar represents everything else in your life. Inflation, like many other things (such as loss of freedoms) sneaks up on you.

The government is giving away more money than we provide to it. It's generating unbelievable debt. Taxes have to be increased. This will decrease how much money you have to buy the more expensive goods and services. Watch the M2 and M3 money funds. They are the gauge of how much money the government is borrowing. Watch the roll-over or default of the short term debt at the end of this year. Where will the money come from to pay the $2 trillion in short term debt? Why would China or anyone else loan us this money when even they can se that they will not get repaid in anything other than devalued dollars.

You will never see the truth about any of these topics reported in the mainstream media, and there is a dearth of connecting the dots, even on the Internet. As you read about these things, ask yourself, "what does it really mean" and how does it link the the other current happenings. I can't list all of the inter-related subjects that have an effect on this, but can only advise you to pay attention. If you don't, it will sneak up on you and you won't be ready. - Tom H.

In response to what Art A. wrote about the koi thieves. I want to add an aside that I don't know if you covered in your Google Earth piece. I work for a municipal police agency. Google Earth is widely used with the agency to be able to view locations of potential suspects. It is particularly informative when serving search warrants on large compound-like properties as it alerts officials to the location of all building, etc., as well as other things located on the property. When chasing criminals it seems a good tool but when the government decides that preppers, Christians, anti-abortionist, etc. are the biggest danger to the United States Google Earth has more ominous overtone. Here are a couple of links describing how Google Earth and GPS are used. Think about the possibilities.

How the police use Google Earth

Cops Find Pot Farm Using Google Earth

Thank you for your site. - Adnil

Sue C. and Chris S. were the first of a dozen readers to forward me this article link: Seven Things About The Economy Everyone Should Be Worried About

Trent sent us this: Gold is "fairly expensive" could fall to $800 if Fed moves Midas fund manager says. [JWR's Comment: I'm dubious about a big correction in the near future. I don't expect interest rates in the US to change radically anytime soon. If anything, they are headed lower, in a desperate attempt to turn the real estate market around, and boost equities. Also note that the funds have continued to be big gold buyers, even after gold topped $1,000 per ounce. There will be some dramatic dips, but gold is still in a bull market. You can quote me on this: In the long term, gold will prevail, and the dollar will fail.

GG sent this: Home sales plunge nearly 17 percent in December - largest drop in 40 years. Meanwhile, we read: Government pulling out of mortgage support as home resales plunge. (Thank to EMB for the latter link.)

Also from GG: Will this decade prove even more volatile than its predecessor?

From Greg C.: Poverty rate hits 17.5 percent in Nashville

Commentary from Instapundit editor Glenn Reynolds: “MYSTERY BIDDERS” at Treasury auctions. Let’s hope they’re gullible!…

Mike The Blacksmith wrote to mention that BBC America will start to broadcast the new post-pandemic Survivors series (an updated version of the 1970s Terry Nation series, first aired in 2008) starting February 13th at 7 p.m. Central time. Like the recent "After Armageddon" docudrama, this should serve as a motivational tool. (But like most television envisionings of an inimical future, don't expect to pick up many useful survival tips.)

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Matt T. recommended this book: Living the Martial Way: A Manual for the Way a Modern Warrior Should Think. Matt's comments: "While it was written for military or law enforcement members who must or may have to fight to survive, I believe it could be useful to people preparing to survive. There is a lot in there from choosing a martial art, strategy and tactics, mindset, and importantly how to train, but written in a way that is applicable regardless of what your particular martial art is. Preparedness is about training, not just stockpiling, and I think this book helps in that area."

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Mark H. sent us this bit of food for thought: Tourist skiers cause a food shortage, so Officials shut down highways. to Big Bear Valley. File under: Noteworthy Precedents.

"If there was a way out of this, someone would have thought of it long ago in the past 4000 years of one government after another spending itself into unpayable, bankrupting debt!" - Richard Daughty (aka "The Mogambo Guru")

Monday, January 25, 2010

Okay, a year or three goes by, [after TEOTWAWKI]. My wife can sew, but where do you get cloth and thread?

I love Goretex (since I live in Western Oregon), but where do I replace those great Hi-Tec boots?

No one seems to be discussing what happens when a shoelace brakes after Schumer is in session. You can hardly find them now.

Cloth - one will make a spinning wheel and loom after "the fan" has become clogged!

All that I can recall is an anecdote about the early Oregon Trail, when the newly arrived - skinny and starving (but had good threads)- were greeted by the locals (fat and in rags)...

I woke up early this morning dreaming about this. Any ideas? Thanks, - Steve S.

JWR Replies: There will be no perfect substitutes to modern clothing and modern shoes/boots in a long term societal collapse.

Consider that shoes and boots weren't even made with distinct "right and left" shape lasts until the early 1800s. Thus, you can get an appreciation for the level of comfort that we can expect, if and when we are suddenly thrown back into a medieval level of existence.

In anticipation of chronic shortages of good quality footgear and clothing in MGTEOTWAWKI, I can recommend the following as a baseline of preparedness:

1.) Stock up in depth on garments, coats, underwear, shoes, and boots. Watch for "Going out of business" sales and be sure to patrol your local thrift store vigilantly. Buy low, stack deep.

2.) Don't overlook the need to buy children's clothing and shoes in graduated sizes. If and when your own kids outgrow those sizes, you can pass them along to others, charitably.

3.) Develop traditional sewing, spinning, weaving, and cobbler skills, as previously discussed in SurvivalBlog. Stockpile the requisite tools and supplies, including sewing needle assortments in a wide variety of gauges, thread of various thicknesses, heavy waxed thread, a sewing awl, and so forth. If nothing else, it is important to learn how to make tire sandals, and how to make moccasins. These won't be a proper replacement for a nice pair of Danner boots, but they will be better than nothing!

Dear James,

I recently was walking through Ikea with my wife here in Minneapolis and came upon a candle sale. They are currently having a sale on red 8 inch, Unscented Christmas candles rated at 70 hours for 99 cents. I promptly filled the cart with 40 or about 2,800 hours worth of candlelight for 39 dollars. Not wanting to recommend anything I had not already tried I promptly lit one to see how long it would last and right now it is still burning on hour 85 – will probably be done between 90 and 100 hours. Thought your readers might appreciate a good buy on candles. Kind Regards, - Troy

JWR Replies: I'm also a proponent of stocking up on candles, but keep in mind the obvious fire hazards. In a disaster situation where candles might be left unattended, burn candles only on a steady surface, with a deep cookie sheet or or broiler pan beneath. Also, be advised that many of the decorative candles on the market are not truly long-burning. "Large" doesn't always equate to long burning. Unless candles have an hour rating marked then avoid them, or you may be wasting you money on fast-burning candles made of wax with a low stearic acid (aka stearin or octadecanoic acid) content. (The higher the stearic acid content, the better.)

Hi Jim,
I just wanted to share a quick storage tip and a bugout time saver. I'm currently in a condominium but still working on my preps and keeping my stuff bugout ready. One of the issues I've overcome is the need to keep my bugout ready but out of the way. In my condo building we actually have storage areas in the basement (fenced off partitions with personal locks) so that is where 90% of my preps stay. In order to keep these preps bugout ready I've organized them into Rubbermaid [lidded storage] tubs that I stack about four high and two wide on top of a furniture moving dolly so that I can roll them in and out if I need to access storage behind them. These can also be used if I need to bugout I'm just rolling a furniture dolly out to my bugout vehicle and loading up. Even if some of your readers don't have a storage issue I strongly recommend the furniture dollies for quickly moving their preps because they can stay dedicated to a particular stack of preps. Thus, when time counts during bugout you don't have to load a hand cart several times. Thanks for your site! - Ben in Tennessee

CBS News commentator Rebecca Solnit crosses the line into justifying the looter mentality, in this piece of editorial excess: When the Media is the Disaster. (A tip of the hat to reader Bill W. for the link.) A word of warning to Mrs. Solnit: If you advocate looting, then don't be surprised if someday a group of low lifes comes to loot your house, whether or not you are at home. And when they do, try not to "judge" them! For that matter, don't be judgmental about their preference for light or dark meat.

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I've been pleased to see that US firearms magazine manufacturers have finally caught up with demand, and that prices has dropped back down to normal levels. (For example, the recent sales ads at CDNN and Cheaper Than Dirt are indicative of the recent drop in prices.) Don't complacently ignore the threat of a renewed ban on 11+ round magazines. Stock up and buy plenty of full capacity magazines, including some extra for barter!

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Dennis M. flagged this: Electrical Grid Weathers a Hit from Latest Storms. Dennis notes: "I call your attention to the bit about maintenance spending being cut by up to 50%. What will be the implications?"

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Garnet sent us this: Scientists create model of monster 'Frankenstorm'

“It must be, I thought, one of the race’s most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that ‘it can’t happen here’; that one’s own little time and place is beyond cataclysms." - John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

The more I read, the more I plan, the more I prepare, I find myself thinking, "Boy, I do not want to be caught without my coconut oil." While many who know me might get a good chuckle from this thought, they wouldn't be surprised either. In fact, one of my friends jokingly refers to me as the "Coconut Oil Lady". Not a month goes by without her talking to me about some problem or ailment to which I'll respond, "Well, you could put some coconut oil on that,", or, "If you just used some coconut oil..."

Dr. Bruce Fife wrote a great book called The Coconut Oil Miracle. He does a great job of talking about how it works as well as listing all sorts of situations in which one might use coconut oil. While I recommend reading this book, I also thought it prudent to share some real-world experience with those who might consider adding the "miracle" to their preparedness cache.

Coconut oil is the ultimate multitasker. How many items in your preparedness stash can be used for food, medicine, hygiene, and preventative treatment?

Unlike olive oil, there isn't "extra virgin" coconut oil. There is, however, "virgin" coconut oil, and this is the kind of coconut oil you want to buy. While refined coconut oil tastes less "coconutty" and it's still calorically-dense, the refining process causes it to loose many of it's health-protecting and medicinal benefits. If you open your coconut oil and it doesn't smell like coconut, you've purchased the wrong stuff. I opt for organic, virgin coconut oil from Mountain Rose Herbs (http://www.mountainroseherbs.com) because their product is excellent and their prices are the best I've found. (I am in no way affiliated with this company, by the way. I'm just a very satisfied customer.)

As far as food goes, coconut oil is an excellent choice for baking. As a saturated fat, it works like shortening in baked goods, but because of it's unique structure, it actually protects the heart from heart disease (as opposed to shortening which often contains trans-fat.) It's stable at room temperature for years, and it's solid at room temperature (although its melting point is low -- 76 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Coconut oil is an easy addition to most any food to increase that food's caloric density. It's one of the few fats that doesn't require bile to digest it, so it's often used in infant formula (not only as an easily-digested fat but also as a supplement because it contains essential compounds that are found in human breast milk.)

Coconut oil can help regulate blood sugar too, so if it's used in unrefined, high-fiber items (like some amazing coconut cookies found in Dr. Fife's book), diabetics will have a much easier time dealing with the effects of a high-carbohydrate diet often eaten when living on stored foods.

In my home, we use coconut oil every day as a treatment and a preventative measure. Coconut oil is an amazing moisturizer. I've found nothing else that helps heal my cracked and bloody winter skin faster, and even better for me, I don't break out into hives when I use it. (When I have problems with my skin in the winter, most commercial treatments will cause hives for me.)

Virgin coconut oil has amazing antifungal properties, so I've used it on yeasty diaper rashes with my children as well as thrush and yeast overgrowth on the skin. For those who have a systemic yeast overgrowth (sometimes called "candida" or "candidiasis"), the consumption of too much coconut oil in food can cause "die-off" and some intestinal upset. For this reason, I usually recommend that people not start out eating lots of coconut oil every day until you know how it'll affect you.

My favorite use for coconut oil is as a sunscreen. I have very fair skin, and I burn quite easily. With commercially-available sunscreens (which are a lot more expensive, I might add), I burn much quicker and much more severely than I do with coconut oil. During my last trip to Florida, I was able to use coconut oil as a sunscreen during the worst parts of the day (for sun exposure), and I ended up with a very mild sunburn. Previously, I'd used a commercial sunscreen for the same amount of time during the same time of day, and I was burned much more severely.

Coconut oil can also be used as a carrier oil for other essential oils. Essential oils like clove, tea tree, and oregano can be extremely irritating to the skin on their own. My mixing them with coconut oil though, you get a much bigger bang for your buck.

We also make bath soap using coconut oil. The recipe calls for coconut, olive, and palm oils, and it's not at all drying on my sensitive skin. The soap also works as an excellent stain pre-treater, and when the soap is ground for homemade laundry detergent, I've really gotten superior cleaning results (for a lot less money than standard detergents, I might add.)

Coconut oil also has antimicrobial properties, so whenever someone in my home is injured, we use it as one might use an antibiotic ointment. The good thing about it is a little goes a long way, so the 16-ounce container that we keep in the bathroom for topical use lasts a very long time.

I strongly encourage everyone to have this essential supply on hand. Grab some from the pharmacy section of your local grocer (since the stuff that you find in the cooking section is almost always refined) and give it a try. Once you discover the myriad of uses for this amazing food, you'll never want to be without it either!

Dear James,
I couldn't help but resist to write to you as a younger generation female. I am a 28 year girly girl and currently live in Los Angeles, California. My idea of roughing it is staying at the holiday inn. My dad gave me your novel "Patriots" about six months ago and asked me to read it. It sat around collecting dusk, used as a door stop and spider killer for the same amount of time. One day my parents gave me a large Pelican container with many survival items. (the Pelican headquarters is just two blocks away from me and had a great sale. They said that i can think they are crazy but they feel better knowing that i have it and they did something to help me should the time arise. I work with them in the family owned Real Estate office and would often see my mom reading your site, printing things and making notebooks. I'm not gonna lie, Jim. I had thought they were going crazy with this whole TEOTWAWKI business. I just smiled and went along with it. But then my boyfriend and I went to see The Road (which was hardly playing anywhere) and my eyes opened up. I finally understood what they were talking about in The Road. I couldn't believe it. people eating people, no electricity, no food!

I then found your novel in my closet and began to read it. I couldn't put it down!! I finished it in two days and highlighted many of the important items in the book. I've since taken it pretty seriously and although I'm young and in no financial way able to own a retreat by 2012 (although i wish i could) i am planning for the future. I have decided to follow your once a month plan of buying something of importance and have a five year plan with my boyfriend that once we get married will be buying something in Idaho by 2015 (if its not too late). Even if nothing happens in the next 20 years I know my future children will be taken care of and so on and so on. So far we have two G.O.O.D. packs and a 45 day supply of MRE food. Not to mention the items my parents gave me. It's not much but its a start. I went to the shooting range for the first time last Sunday and shot a 9mm pistol. I loved it! Although I'm not that good, I know that my dad who is an avid hunter will teach me all I need to know. I'm writing this letter to you in hopes that you will publish it for all the other young people that come across your site because of their parents. They aren't crazy!

I am now working on paying of my debt, getting into shape and saving for the future. I wanna own a little farm and build a retreat for me and my family in Idaho. This city girl will be a country shootin' girl in no time!

Thank you Jim, for your novel. If anything ever does happen you can add me and my family to your list of lives touched. I am blessed to have read your book! - Jenny in Los Angeles

Dear Sir,
In response to the excellent article written to aid in students to prepare, I felt it important for parents to make a plan to get children in the event of weather, unrest, terrorist attack.

All my children are currently at a private school. The oldest (high school age) carries a note stating that she has permission to "check out" the other two [into his care], signed by me. We also have a password that if she receives via text, email or phone she is to immediately check out the others and follow the directions sent or if nothing else is sent to abide by our previous decisions.

I took these precautions because I feel that to get our children out of the school as soon as possible is to our advantage before well meaning administrators decide to keep children in "for their protection" and make parents wait. From previous dealings in regards to closing school in the middle of the day due to snow, ice, tornados as well as the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I know how long it takes for them to make a decision and feel I have time to get my kids out.

Our plan will need to be reworked this next year as the younger two are coming home to be schooled, but it will actually make our plan easier as the oldest will be able to sign out and immediately leave and not worry about visiting 2 other buildings for her siblings.

I have friends who are well prepared, but this was a situation they had not even thought of and wanted to pass along our plan to help others.

Thank you again for all you do - God bless - JWE

Entire Town of Wenden [Arizona] Underwater After Storm. (Thanks to FJR for the link.) Floods don't happen often in Arizona, but when they do, they often crete some deep drama.

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Steve G. and Dane B. both mentioned this LifeHacker article: Use the Universal Edibility Test to Find Food in a Survival Situation. JWR adds this proviso: This "universal" test is not foolproof! It will not \detect many toxins, including micotoxins. And you must consider that the quantity of some plants such as poison hemlock that you ingest in "testing" might be enough to kill you!

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Robert H. alerted us to this article about the Haitian earthquake aftermath: The Coast Guard in Haiti: First Responders, in for the Long Haul. The portion of the article that describes patient triage was particularly interesting.

"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." - John 1:5 (KJV)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Do you have any favorite quotes that relate to preparedness, survival, self-sufficiency, self-defense, or hard money economics? If so, then please send them via e-mail, and I will likely post them as Quotes of the Day, if they haven't been used before in SurvivalBlog. Please send only quotes that are properly attributed, and that you've checked for authenticity. Many Thanks!

Trent sent us this: Gold is "fairly expensive" could fall to $800 if Fed moves Midas fund manager says. [JWR's Comment: I'm dubious about a big correction in the near future. I don't expect interest rates in the US to change radically anytime soon. If anything, they are headed lower, in a desperate attempt to turn the real estate market around, and boost equities. Also note that the funds have continued to be big gold buyers, even after gold topped $1,000 per ounce. There will be some dramatic dips, but gold is still in a bull market. You can quote me on this: In the long term, gold will prevail, and the dollar will fail.

Items from The Economatrix:

BofE "Nerves" to be Tested as Inflation Jumps to Most on Record

Rise in Jobless Claims Signals Bump in Recovery

Rates on 30-Year Home Loans Fall to 4.99%

Target to Renovate Older Stores, Open Fewer in 2010

How Can Localities Cope if the Dollar Crashes?

Railroads Signal a Tepid US Economic Recovery

China's Economic Rebound Sparks Price Worries For Country's Food Shoppers

GM to Cut 2,500 Jobs in Germany

Citigroup Cuts Compensation By 20% as Losses Fall

Wisconsin Senate passes bill allowing people to can food without a license. Only high acid foods, and no more than $5,000 worth. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

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Reader Art A. wrote: "Some time ago you stated that people would use Google Earth to find things worth stealing. You were right Here is proof: high tech koi thieves."

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A truncated version of my review of the movie "The Road" just ran in The Guardian newspaper in England: The Road to Ruin

"People are resilient. Correction, survivors are resilient" - Sam North, from his novel "Another Place to Die", p. 157

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our latest batch of mail forwarding arrived at the ranch today, with a big stack of envelopes containing Ten Cent Challenge voluntary subscription checks. Thank you very much, folks! One gent also included a $100 Trillion Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe note, for my collection of "wallpaper" currencies. That made my day.

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

Where will you be when the earthquake happens? The tornado? The riot? The terrorist strike? The (fill in the blank). If you work or go to school, you spend about 40 hours every week in a non-home environment. Probably more if you count commute time, shopping, recreation, library time, extra-curricular activity time, and so forth. Even if you are a serious prepper, that means about 25% or more of your time each week is spent in environments away from your primary support systems. That also means that there is about 1 chance in four that a disaster will happen while you are in one of these other environments. You will have access to what you have with you and what someone (employer, school, etc.) has put in place for you in such emergencies. Having been employed for 40 years and a student for 20+ years before that I can tell you these other environments have virtually nothing in place to provide for the survival, let alone comfort, of those on premises.

Other posts on SurvivalBlog have addressed the issue of what you should have with you (in a car, backpack, etc.) while away from home. I encourage you to read them and prepare accordingly. I will not re-visit those recommendations here. Rather, I will address the preparedness issue from the point of view of employers, employees, and students. These are environments where significant time is spent, but few resources are in place to deal with even minor inconveniences, let alone full-blown disasters.

For the Enlightened Employer:

Ask the average employer about "emergencies" on the job and they think no further than a first aid kit "somewhere in the cabinet over there", a fire extinguisher on the wall, and maybe an evacuation plan. And none of these may have been looked at for years. Their thinking is one-dimensional: a cut requiring a band-aid; a slip-and-fall causing a sprain; a bad headache. Anything more serious - call the ambulance!
But what if the ambulance doesn't come? Or the phones won't work to even call the ambulance? And what if not just one person is injured, but several? And lots more are injured for as far as you can see in any direction? It's time to enlighten organizations to possibilities not previously on their radar screen.

In a disaster, employees may not be able to leave a work site to get home, even if they live rather close. Employers need to face the possibility that a large number of their employees may need to shelter in place at the work site for at least a day or two. Normal transportation may be impossible, prohibited by authorities, or just plain too dangerous to attempt. Large numbers of injuries may be encountered, from minor to extremely serious. Everyday resources such as water, heat, and electricity, taken for granted under normal circumstances, likely will not work.

What should an enlightened employer do to provide some protection to employees following a disaster?
First, recognize you have a moral duty beyond the one-dimensional level of a normal workday to provide some extended level of support to those who work for you. Provisions do not have to be elaborate or expensive. Start thinking outside the box. You do not have to drop everything and put all the resources in place at once. As a starting place, consider the following:

  1. Let your employees know you are interested in putting some disaster resources in place, and why. Many of the employees will get on board with the idea, and will help identify ideas. Be honest. If you have a limited budget, say so. Maybe provide a specific amount each month to devote to the plan. You can tell them implementation may take several months, maybe a couple of years, but be prepared to implement at least some of the good ideas. If employees don't see progress, the philosophical "buy-in" will disappear.
  2. Don't re-invent the wheel. Assess the skills and resources already in place. Review the backgrounds of current employees. Identify those who have genuine first aid training, fire fighting skills, law enforcement background, etc. Existing, but unused water storage capability? Electrical generating capacity? You may well find significant assets already available and waiting to be recognized.
  3. If adequate skills are not present, consider providing one, or a few employees the chance to take an appropriate course (which you will pay for) at a local community college or other facility. The cost of the course is minimal, and sometimes free. You can reward employees who acquire these skills through recognition, and maybe something tangible like a gift certificate or ball game tickets. Think of this as a type of insurance policy. By the way, it's deductible.
  4. Form an employee committee. Ask them to discuss the preparedness issue among themselves and as many other employees as feasible. Perhaps once a month (or whatever works) publish a work site preparedness news letter. It can be as simple as a typed sheet in simple outline form. Communicate ideas and decisions. If some are left out of the information loop make sure it's their choice and not your fault.
  5. Talk to other employers. At least a few may have already addressed the issue. Some of the work may have been done for you by other businesses, at least identifying what works and what doesn't. Civic clubs (Rotary, Lions, etc.) are a good place to start.

For the Enlightened Employee:

If you are already a prepper and/or read this blog, chances are you don't have to be convinced of the necessity of preparedness. There is a chance though that you have never thought extensively, about the possibility of being caught by surprise in a disaster while you are away from and unable to get to your primary support systems, which is probably your home. Without some serious planning on your part you are going to be at the mercy of what other people have, or more likely haven't done, to provide for your safety and survival. Realize you may have to remain at a work site for an extended period of time. Injury, legal restrictions, or plain common sense may keep you from leaving for a more desirable location.

So what should an enlightened employee do help themselves and others who may never have thought of disaster prep even at home, let alone their work site?

First, think the problem through - thoroughly. Start slow. Don't rush to your employer and suggest in a frenzied fashion what you think they should be doing. There are some things you need in your corner before you "go public".

  1. If possible, and very delicately, find one or more co-workers with the same mindset as yours. Unless you are certain of a positive outcome, do not approach your employer about this yet. Remember, your employer may be oblivious to the issue and dismiss you as some kind of nut case. Consider getting one or two pieces of the Survivalblog gear (coffee mug, hat, etc.) and let it be seen casually around the work site. You may find friends you didn't know were there.
  2. If you are convinced there are no like-minded co-workers available consider finding prepper friends who work in other businesses. Find out if any of their employers have established a disaster prep plan. Compare notes. Employers are always impressed by what works at other employers, especially their competitors.
  3. Write it down. Put all your ideas in writing. Your first draft will be very rough. Don't worry. You don't have to show it to anybody. Over time, revise and improve it. Revise it again. If you are not a good writer, admit it to yourself and get some help. A well written plan will impress an employer much more than a sloppy one.
  4. Enlist the aid of a trusted co-worker. Preferably someone that other employees like, look up to, and consider professional. Ask their advice and share your ideas. Don't push. Let your ideas simmer a while.
  5. Get the ball rolling. Consider forming a casual group of co-workers outside of work to discuss preparedness issues . Start by addressing home and family settings. After a few discussions chances are school/work site issues will surface. If they don't, introduce the possibilities yourself.

For The Enlightened Student:

If you are a student in Junior High School or High School, your approach will be similar, but not quite the same, as that of an employee. You also face a different environment. Schools can be "locked down" by municipal or school authorities. In instances where this has happened the lock down has been for a few hours at most and municipal services (water, heat, light, etc) were not interrupted. That's a real advantage in maintaining the morale of those on site. Now imagine the same location but with multiple, maybe hundreds, of injuries, no municipal services, and no ready help.

So what should an enlightened student do?

First, realize that you are going to have to enlist adult support. No matter how many fellow students you have on your side, if that's all you have, you will get no more than brief attention from school authorities, and even less action. Take it from one who has "been there - done that!" Consider the following course of action.

  1. Don't despair. You can win this battle if you approach it in a professional manner and realize you have to win small battles one at a time to win the war. It won't happen all at once.
  2. Draw up a written plan. It need not be elaborate, and in fact it's better if it isn't. You are going to need adult and official buy-in. Let them think a lot of the plan is their idea. If your school has a PTA, look for support there.
  3. Look for an elected municipal or county official willing to listen and help you. A mayor, county Sheriff, city councilman, or state representative are all good choices. Ask for their opinions - and listen! They will be skeptical at first. After all, you are 16 years old and they figure that by next Saturday night your attention span will have faded to a hundred other things. Through repeated, (and I must add, very professional contacts - don't storm their office with a dozen students) they will begin to see you and others are serious. Each time you contact them, show them you have in some way acted on their suggestions from the previous meeting; it strokes their ego. They also realize that in 1 or 2 years all of you will be voters. But do not mention this. They will interpret it as a threat. Believe me, they already know it.
  4. Once an elected official (preferably more than one) is in your corner, arrange a meeting with your school officials. Do your best to include at least one of the elected officials. Elected officials are scared of voters and school officials are scared of elected officials. School officials may still not believe in your cause, but they will be faced with the fact that you, and some powerful allies, do.
  5. Contact other schools that have made some progress on this. Ask an English or Journalism teacher to help your group write a series of short news stories on the subject and your school's progress (even if minimal) for the local paper. Keep it positive and praise the school officials for "seeing the need". Principals, teachers, school boards , and especially parents love that kind of stuff.
  6. As long as you keep it professional, you are on the road to prepping your school site. Remember, don't set out to win big victories. Build the fort one block at a time. Keep the contacts going and expand them.

Mr. Rawles,
I just finished your novel "Patriots" a few days ago and I was compelled to send you a note. Your writing has changed my whole view of the "survivalist/ militia" culture and beliefs. You have truly opened my eyes and provided some answers to many questions I have had for years now.

First you opened my eyes to how fragile our world truly is. The parallels to what is happening today in our society will certainly force me to take personal action for my family and close friends. I will be having both my son and daughter, as well as their spouses read your book. As well I will be recommending it to as many friends as I possibly can. At 52 years of age, I hope I am not too late, for my children's sake.

I appreciate the technical detail and references you have provided. Who knows some of it may save one or more lives in the future.

I have always been a believer in our Second Amendment rights in America and your book has just solidified the understanding of why this should be so important to us, and most importantly our children. Thank you for providing an inspirational and thought provoking look into what we may face in the future. I do so hope you will land your screenplay sale and "Patriots" goes to the big screen. If it does please make sure to maintain the message you send to all Americans. I will make sure I am one of the first to see the film if it does come out.

Thank you again sir, from my heart, I say "Thank you," - Rodney W., Beaverton, Oregon

I am not sure bread is a food that is best prepared after a TEOTWAWKI situation. I consider it a luxury item. In a survival situation it all boils down to decisions. I am not saying charity should not happen but we need to get the biggest bang for our supplies. Bannock, cornbread, biscuits and tortillas take less effort and energy to produce and travel better than bread. We also need to consider OPSEC, since baking bread has to have a bigger signature than the baking of other breads. - Curtis

Bill S. mentioned this article from a Dallas newspaper: Stockpiling food, water in case of emergency is smart, not paranoid

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Nanci wrote to tell me that Dolly Freed, the author of the recently re-released book Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money, has launched her own blog, also called Possum Living.

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Sri sent me a link to an interesting older article at Bill St. Clair's site by Mike Vanderboegh that predates my launch of SurvivalBlog in 2005: What Good Can a Handgun Do Against an Army.....?

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Damon was the first of several readers that sent us this, by way of The Drudge Report: Sewage runs, garbage piles up at Haiti quake camps

"In the Middle Ages, the average human life expectancy did not reach into the teen years, not only because of the extremely high perinatal mortality that heavily skewed the data, but also because Europeans (and much of the world during this time) lived in an unhealthy milieu of filth, poor hygiene, and nearly non-existent sanitation. Superstition and ignorance, along with pestilential diseases and vermin infestation, were rampant. Epidemic and endemic diseases such as the bubonic plague, typhus, variola (smallpox), and the White Death of tuberculosis (consumption) took a heavy toll on the population, both young and old." - Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Introductory Note: I recently wrote this critique for British newspaper. For the benefit of my readers in the US, I'm posting it to my blog. - JWR

The recently released movie The Road, based on the same-titled novel by award-winning writer Cormac McCarthy illustrated some classic blunders in bushcraft and tactical movement. Doubtless, many of these gaffes were intentional--I suspect for the sake of drama, or to provide enough light for the night scenes.

Here is a short list:

1.) Following main arterial roads.  In a post-collapse environment, major roads will become linear ambush zones.  To avoid trouble, “The Man" and "The Boy" should have traveled overland, or on only the smallest roads and trails.

2.) Lighting large campfires.  Large campfires were repeatedly lit at night, under circumstances where it was very important to avoid detection. "Cold camps" or at least using small tin can stoves would have been much more appropriate!

I don't want to reveal any "spoilers", but suffice it to say, in the highly inimical circumstances depicted in the movie, the last thing that "The Man" should have done was to light up a big "Here I am" beacon each night!

3.) No security precautions when sleeping.  With not enough manpower to provide a night watch, they would have very likely "woken up dead". Some intrusion detection systems are very low tech or even "no tech."  For example, they could have easily set up trip wires attached to empty tin cans to provide a noise-making perimeter security for their campsites.

Better yet, they should have teamed up with at least one more adult, so that they could have taken turns at keeping watch.

4.) Ignoring basic camouflage. By wearing clothing in relatively bright colors, they greatly increased their chances of being detected.  Their outer layers should have been all earth tones.  They also left their bare faces showing.   In the cold weather depicted, they should have been wearing earth-tone balaclavas.  This would have provided both warmth and better camouflage.

5.) Failure to provide adequate rain protection.  A couple of lightweight tarps at night, and earth tone ponchos worn during the day would have kept "The Man" and "The Boy" much dryer and warmer.

6.) Not making improvised weapons. “The Man” was depicted as having a revolver with only a very few cartridges. Yet, he did nothing to provide other weapons for self-defense. Even a sharpened stick with its point hardened in a fire would have been better than nothing.

7.) Leaving a safe well-stocked  shelter prematurely. Again, I don't want to reveal a "spoiler", but suffice it to say, at one point “The Man” and “The Boy” are ensconced in a dry, safe, and well-stocked shelter.  Leaving that shelter when they did was a mistake.  They left behind many useful supplies. They should have foraged in the vicinity longer, and put on more weight before resuming their journey.

Despite these gaffes, the film is still worth seeing, and I even more highly recommend reading McCarthy’s novel.

My name is Kent, I'm an 11 year veteran of the Active Army and National Guard, and I'm currently serving my third overseas tour, in Iraq. I have been in the Infantry for the entire time in the military, and I've taken it upon myself to seek outside training where available. I have been reading your blog off and on for the past year.

One of the things that firearms proponents and enthusiast fail to mention a lot of is alternate shooting positions. Something I learned in Sniper school (even though I did not pass the course) is that the lower to the ground one gets, the more steady the shot will be. However, in an up close and personal gunfight, mobility is more of an issue than stability. Moving to cover, between cover, advancing, retreating, all of these are issues that the sniper rarely has to deal with, but most cops and civilians will. In the Army, I learned a "special walk" to use to enable one to move and shoot at the same time. However, this takes into account that the soldier is wearing body armor. If body armor is on, then by all means, advance so as to present the armored portion of the body to the enemy. If body armor is not worn, then just walk. One NCO describes it as a careful hurry. As Hock Hocheim likes to say, "We've been walking for years, nothing could be more natural." Don't over-think it.

Drawing the weapon is another subject that is often overlooked. Many people have expounded on the wisdom of bringing a knife to a gunfight. The knife, however large or small, has incredibly deadly potential if the person being attacked does not already have their weapon drawn and at the ready. As such, location and ease of access for pistols and rifles should be of the utmost concern. If you can't bring the greatest weapon into play, it ain't doing you any good. Many people start their ranges with the assumption that they already have their firearm of choice already out. While I realize there are a multitude of courses that teach about quick draws and presenting the weapon, few of them that I've seen have dealt with trying to draw a pistol while on the ground. Or, even worse, trying to unsling a rifle while on the ground. Gunfights in a space the size of a closet do not seem to be taught that often either. A firearm will not always be at the ready, no matter how vigilant a person is. Unslinging a rifle and bringing it to bear on the target should be a large part of everyone's training doctrine. Learning to recognize when an attacker is reaching for a weapon is also an important part of drawing and firing. In addition, weapons retention should be included for all those serious about firearms training. An enormous percentage of police officers are killed with their own guns every year. When the SHTF, that could easily be an enormous amount of civilians trying to survive. Slings and lanyards are one way to combat this problem, but also simple martial arts techniques of strikes and eye gouges can help in weapons retention.

"Teacher's Pet" mentions Airsoft, of which I am a huge fan for training purposes. Nothing better replicates the feel of getting a shot at while trying to draw. The low cost, $20, battery operated Airsoft pistols are good for this. The velocities of the pellets are relatively low, though eye protection is still required, and a hit will sting a bit. Many otherwise dangerous scenarios can be replicated with Airsoft pistols. Examples are gunfights around cars, multiple attackers, being grappled from behind while shooting someone to the front, room-to-room clearing, and a host of others. Pellets are cheap, batteries are cheap. The training and experience provided are invaluable.

Just thought I'd throw in a couple things, I hope it helps. - Kent

Dear Jim,
Thank you for the blog. It has helped my family and I to be more prepared than we had ever imagined. I found this Fox News article and thought you might be interested. There are a few things here that have been discussed at length in SurvivalBlog and in your books, but it is good to look at them [actually coming to pass] in real world situations. These include: 1) The police chief can get less than half of his force out. That is probably because they are trying to fend for themselves. 2) They are asking “what is taking the foreigners so long?” Why aren’t they dependant on themselves? 3) Half of the aid coming into their country is from the US Army. If this scenario happened here, who would be bringing aid here? 4) The ones who seem to be doing the best are the ones who live in the hills and who blocked access to their area with cars. 5) Don’t count on the government. That is one young man’s take on things. 6) When the grid goes down, what happens with the criminals in the prisons? Blessings and I hope you enjoy. - Bill H.

Mr. Rawles,
My wife and I were so sorry for your loss and your family has been in our prayers. Our family believes like you that the thin veneer is very real. I thought this article proves your point about the "Golden Horde" and staying away from "Channelized Areas" (aka "Refugee Lines of Drift").

We were very fortunate to escape a "luxury community in South Texas" and return to the Northwest, purchase our retreat as well as continue our preparations. We took advantage of your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and free book offer and have been pleasantly surprised (even though we are preppers there was still an abundance of info that we gleaned from it and it changed a little of our pantry storage process). Regards, - Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot

Greetings Jim,
About a year ago, I submitted a piece on some lessons learned from Hurricane Iniki that struck the island of Kauai in 1992. There were three points from that article that I believe are relevant to what we see in Haiti. One is the problems encountered when rescuers attempt to squeeze a large number of aircraft into one airport. There are monumental challenges with off-loading and moving supplies and equipment in a timely and orderly manner. The second is the need for armed security at distribution points to control the crowds. Most troubling, is the ratio of relief workers to island residents. On Kauai, at the peak of the relief effort, there was one relief worker for every 10 island residents. To achieve that 1:10 ratio on Haiti would require 200,000 to 300,000 relief workers and security forces to assist and protect 2 to 3 million displaced Haitians. That kind of support is unlikely to materialize. We can expect more violence in the days ahead. - Bill in Honolulu

Mr. Rawles,
A few items from Haiti. Ham radio operators trying to help were fired upon, apparently by escaped convicts. I also read that prisoners broke from prison after the quake, stripped weapons from the guards, including assault rifles, and the descended on the rubble of the Justice Ministry to destroy all records of their prior crimes. Obviously, the prison break maps very closely to some of the scenarios you've discussed on SurvivalBlog and in your books. People who believe they do not need to be armed when facing a collapse event should read these articles more closely. Best wishes to you and your family. Keep your powder dry. I fear we're all going to need ours soon. - Dave R.

Mr. Rawles,
I've been reading your new "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" book. I like it. I was reminded of something I read there in the sanitation chapter about dealing with dead bodies when I saw this article from the BBC. I also found the Management of Dead Bodies Field Guide the article referenced. The manual can be downloaded. Thank you for all your work. I pray your family is doing well since your loss. God bless. - JG

Dear Jim:
The recent earthquake in Haiti is a perfect example of why disaster planning and preparations are so important. While the most technologically advanced nations on earth try and get aid to the region, they are hindered by a broken port and single poorly equipped airport. Rioting has begun and aid workers are being shot at and mobbed.

This is not a unique situation. This is a mirror for past, present and future disasters. Los Angeles riots, Hurricane Katrina, ice storms, heat waves, tidal waves, etc. all cause an immense amount of death and suffering for the first few weeks simply because folks are not prepared with the basics and the 'government' is lucky to be able to find its shoes in the dark with both hands.

Beans, Band-Aids and Bullets. Or to be more precise, water, medical supplies, fuel, shelter, and the means to defend one's family.

CNN shows the displaced under tarps on main street next to decaying bodies. A military helicopter dropping supplies was mobbed so badly that debris was being thrown up into the rotor blades. After the supplies were all gone, in a few seconds, the crowd began to fight over the empty cardboard boxes! Haitian police just opened fire on a looting mob. This is not a drill.

I have vowed not be forced into that type of situation. I have prepared my immediate family (now numbering ten! what happened?) to be able to ride out at least thirty days of hardship and could well do more if we restrict intake and no one is hurt. We will have our stores and we will be able to defend it. No Katrina/Superdome type fiasco for us thank you very much, hopefully we will hole up here at the house but if need be we can bug out to a campsite away from the maddening crowd.

I know this is preaching to the choir but Haiti is not an anomaly. It is what happens in real life when folks miss only three meals. Bless you and your staff. - Cactus Jim

Hi James,
Wanted to point out this article as an example of your prediction of the "golden hoard" coming true. I can't even imagine the carnage when 1 million people realize they have to, and can't, wait for food to grow where they are headed. I've read "Patriots" and with this many people heading into the countryside, do you seriously think holding the fort is possible? It seems the only viable option will be to bug out and keep ahead of the hoard. - Kevin in Honolulu

Here's a story about a U.S. Compassion International worker in Haiti who was trapped by the earthquake. - Jerry

In reference to the article on SurvivalBlog.com - The Disaster Field Bakery, by JIR, here is a free downloadable PDF copy of the Manual for Army Bakers from 1917 from Google.

It contains over a hundred pages of old fashioned "how to" baking wisdom in a reliable military format. It's contains detailed instruction on bread baking, including yeast and yeast recipes, and bread ingredients and recipes. The manual also includes a description of the equipment used by a field bakery company. This would be a good manual for a church, charity, or large group who have wheat stored and can no longer rely on buying Wonder Bread at the supermarket. - Jack V.

Mr. Editor:
We are preparing a summer kitchen behind the casa. We purchased a Montgomery Wards wood-burning cookstove the other day, which has four burners, and a grill. Quite fancy! It also has a large oven. Along with a pizza oven and smoker, we can cook large meals. Also we give eggs as tithes to those who are in need. Charity starts in the home and the heart. God Bless, - Maggie

Mr. Rawles,
I just discovered your blog site and have been reading furiously to catch up. I am a physician with a good deal of third world experience and an "end of the world" medical kit in my closet, and am confidant that I could run a decent post-disaster trauma clinic. I am also studying and growing medicinal herbs and preparations for longer term needs. I have been slightly dismayed at how far behind I am in all the other non-medical areas of preparation, but am working to close that gap as well. On to the topic at hand:

Just a thought on post-disaster baking. In most of the third world, you will not find a true oven and hence true "bread" as we know it, because ovens as we know them are a luxury reserved for the wealthy. You can look to some of those cultures for ways to deal with raw materials such as grains. What comes to mind immediately are tortillas and steamed buns.
Tortillas require only a hot flat surface (a rock will do in a pinch), corn prepared as masa and water. Recipes abound (I am a huge fan of Alton Brown and would recommend his recipes for simplicity as well as for beginning from raw ingredients rather than packaged.) We live in an area where field corn is a huge crop and would be abundant, for a while at least, pretty much any time of year. With that in mind, it is very important in a TEOTWAWKI situation to remember what happened to Europeans who adopted corn as a primary grain without nixtamalization (a topic for another time). Hint: Look up pellagra and kwashiorkor!

Steamed buns are a little more complicated in the preparation, but closer to what we think of as "bread." Here again, many recipes are out there. My favorite came from Momofuku, but there are many. Major advantage to having a steamer in your kitchen is that it is a huge multitasker (can double as a sterilizer in a pinch!), and any heat source will run the beast. The buns steam in only 10 min and can be eaten immediately.
While there may be reasons to have a true Western style oven in your preparations, I tend to think more along the lines of biggest bang for the buck/bulk/weight, and in those terms it just doesn't pass muster. - Chris A., MD

Flavio sent us this: Foreclosures Up 14% in December. Flavio's comment: "I can tell you as a real estate broker for the past seven years that things are getting worse, not better. I began to notice years ago that the media is usually about 4 - 6 months behind in reporting what myself and associates are experiencing in the now. So judging by the how quiet the phones have become, and how quiet they remain the last couple months, I would say the 'second leg down' has already begun. It is no longer a matter of if anymore. I give it until August for an all out real estate panic to set in among the public and our political leaders."

Russia diversifies into Canadian dollars. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

Also from GG: Obama to Nationalize Student Lending with Pending Budget Bill

Items from The Economatrix:

US Homebuilder Confidence Drops

Citi Loses $7.8 Billion in Fourth Quarter

Japan Airlines Files for Bankruptcy

The Housing Timebomb

No Genuine Economic Recovery Happening

Luddite Jean recommended the Aquagear water filter, available in the U.K. She commented "I have used these, and have drunk some very dodgy-looking creek water with no ill-effects after being filtered through this bottle. Best of all, it's instantaneous. It's not meant for large-scale water purification, but as a back up, and for G.O.O.D. situations, it will save carrying potable water. I have one per family member at the moment, and will be buying extra the next time I see them at show prices."

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Also from Luddite Jean comes this from The Daily Mail, Wife went to buy Christmas turkey, got stuck in the snow, returns home a month later.

"If every Jewish and anti-nazi family in Germany had owned a Mauser rifle and twenty rounds of ammunition and the will to use it, Adolf Hitler would be a little-known footnote to the history of the Weimar Republic." - Aaron Zelman, co-founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

I can't agree with you more on the subject of charity. Watching people starve is not in the cards for me if I can help it. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, you won't be able to help very much, but for a lesser catastrophe, most of your readers could really help a lot of people by working with local authorities or church groups to feed people until help can arrive. Water is an even more urgent need, but I would like to describe my own preparations for setting up a field bakery and soup kitchen. Maybe I can help inspire others to do the same.

Unfortunately, most modern Americans don't have the slightest clue what to do with a bucket of wheat. They don't have the tools, skills or other ingredients to make it into anything but boiled wheat berries. Even that might be beyond a group of refugees on foot. Handing them unprocessed foods like grain and beans is not going to be much good.

Instead, you can set up a bakery and soup kitchen. Of course, you will need help. A local church can supply manpower and probably manage most of the grunt-work once you get them organized. You will probably need to supply all the equipment except for tables and chairs. You will also need to supply the recipe and know-how and possibly some of the basic ingredients. Wheat, yeast, milk powder, oil, and salt. Also, don't forget the wood for fuel.

Here is a very interesting link that describes a WWI army field bakery.

That is sort of what I am talking about. Using the listed equipment, a six man section could supposedly produce 2,250 pounds of bread per day. The recipes they use are not that great, but you get the idea. Each run takes about 2 hours to bake (and you have two more runs rising at the same time). You don't have to get this ambitious. You can scale this down to whatever level you are able to handle. Even if you can only bake a couple of dozen loaves a day, you could really help a lot of people waiting for FEMA to show up and save them.

An outdoor wood-fired oven with enough capacity to feed a lot of people is a good thing to own. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything for sale commercially that fit the bill. Using the old army model as a rough pattern, I designed and built my own.

My Bread Oven

First, I really need to admit that my oven is hideously ugly. The level of workmanship that went into it was terrible. Most of your readers can probably do better. For tools I used a hand drill, pop riveter, pliers, tin snips and a jigsaw with metal cutting blades.

My complete oven stands close to 6 feet tall counting the legs and maybe 2 feet wide and thick. It's a large rectangle with two oven doors on opposite sides and it stands about 16 inches above the ground on metal tubing legs. It's heated using a large hobo-stove (made from a gas cylinder) that sits underneath it. It can bake six large loaves of delicious bread at a time, and the hobo-stove uses about 10 pounds of hard wood per hour at baking temperatures.

The whole oven weighs about 80 pounds and can by carried by one man. A lot of the weight comes from the layer of tile I use to distribute heat (see below) and can be removed for transport. If you remove the legs as well, you can fit this oven into the back seat of a large sedan.

My design is really simple. It's basically two sheet metal boxes attached inside a larger sheet metal box. The inner boxes form the bread ovens (two of them). They both have doors cut through the outer box to the outside and hinged doors, also made of sheet metal. The bottom is open and a separate brazier or hobo stove is burned underneath. The hot air and smoke rises up through the open bottom, circulates around both inner boxes and exits through a hole at the top. Simple. If you make it tight enough, the smoke never touches the bread, so you can burn almost anything for fuel. (Mine leaks a tiny bit of smoke, so I have to stick with burning hard wood or untreated lumber).

I have a wire shelf just below the bottom oven that I cover with 4 inches of ceramic tiles to hold heat and insulate the bottom oven. This makes the oven easier to use and keeps the temperature in both ovens closer to the same. It works without the tiles, but it's harder to regulate the heat from the hobo stove. The object is to put some mass between the fire and the bottom oven. I use tile because I have it, but a pan of sand would work too.

The whole thing is assembled using pop-rivets. I used two largish rectangular trash bins for the outer oven casing. This can be almost any fireproof container as long as it is open at the bottom, large enough to contain the oven boxes with about 2-4 inches air space on 3 sides. A single metal box would have been better, but I found two stainless steel trash bins and simply riveted them together.

I made the bread ovens (the inner boxes) out of about 14 large cookie sheets. (Any sheet metal will do the trick. The heavier the better.) If I were doing it over, I would use pre-made boxes of some kind for the inner ovens. Building sheet metal boxes is harder than I thought it would be. If you can spot-weld, this chore is easier, but I had to use rivets, so my boxes leak a little smoke.

The inner boxes are riveted to the outer box, 4 inches above the bottom ceramic shelf, the top one about 6 inches above the bottom one. They are staggered so that the heat has to flow over both of them. The doors are on opposite sides of the oven to help with heat distribution. This gives you two smaller ovens, the top one about 50 degrees cooler than the bottom one. This works fine and gives you a lot of versatility, but it was a lot of trouble to make. If I were doing it over, I might make one large oven box. Try not to let your bread pans sit directly on the bottom, or your bread will burn. I used some little metal wire racks to keep mine about an inch above the bottom of the oven.

My oven legs are metal tubing scavenged from thrown away furniture, but I could have more easily used angle iron. They should be sturdy and hold the oven just above the hobo stove. This lets you tend the fire easily or remove it entirely. The stronger your shell and legs are, the better. More weight will help even out the heat, so heavier is better. Also, if your stove and legs are sturdy enough, you can set pots on top of the stove to heat water.

If your outer shell is large enough, you might consider building the fire-box into the oven body, like a real stove. I chose the separate hobo-stove for versatility, ease of cleanup and transportability. I made my hobo stove out of a disposable helium cylinder from a party balloon kit. Any metal cylinder with an open top will work fine. A bucket would probably work just as well. Cut one side of the container so you can add fuel from the side and several large air holes. Insulate the bottom with gravel or sand and you are finished. (A wire handle and a grate on top of the stove are nice touches, but not needed for this project.) Hobo stoves burn wood very efficiently because they form a strong draft from the bottom, so a long tube is more efficient than a short one and you need plenty of air holes. Regulate temperature by adding fuel, not by cutting off air flow. These stoves work best running hot and fast, so it's better to burn smaller amounts
of fuel fast and add more as needed. If you are doing it right, you will have very little smoke.

For fuel, I burn seasoned scrub oak sawed into 6 inch lengths and split about an inch or two wide. I have also used chopped up pine lumber and brush and dead limbs out of my yard. All of them seem to work about the same. To use this oven, simply light the hobo stove and let the oven heat up (about 10 minutes). Pop your loaves in the ovens and keep the fire burning at low to medium. (My hobo-stove is maybe 10 inches wide and can put out a lot of heat. It will overheat this oven if I get too happy throwing on wood. I think I could have gotten by using a coffee can for a hobo stove and making the stove legs shorter.)

Old School Field Baking

I am not going to insult anyone's intelligence by explaining how to bake bread, but I have some tips for doing it outdoors on a larger scale, that might be useful.

Be organized so you can quickly pass off the simple chore of baking to others. Once you get things running, there is no need for a highly-skilled survivor-type to stand there and baby-sit it. You are more valuable than that. Keep everything simple. When you set up your bakery operation, write your recipe and instructions in magic marker on whatever table you are using. That way anyone can take over and keep the bread coming while you do other useful work.

You need a good water supply. If you are carrying water from far away, you are wrong. It's much easier to carry finished bread than water. You will need lots of clean water to mix in the dough, but even more water for washing pans and bowls and utensils. You need several big water containers and a larger container for washing. (Army immersion heaters would probably work really well for washing up, but I don't have one, so I cheat and wash up inside at my kitchen sink right now. I have a large bushel size wash tub, but I have never used it for this.) Set up your washing station nearby so you can use it between batches. Bring lots of latex gloves [and non-latex for those that are allergic] and make all your helpers use them. Nuff said.

You will also need a hand-washing station wherever you are planning to feed people. Don't forget soap and paper towels. Food borne illness is a big killer after a disaster. You may save more lives with your washing point than with your bread. I recommend having disposable cups for soup and no other implements. Make them drink the soup. Washing up bowls and spoons is very labor intensive and not as sanitary as plastic cups. (You will need several hundred a day plus about 4 rolls of paper towels. Liquid soap is better than bar soap for hand washing.

You need some working space. Set up at least one large picnic table for counter space. Two is better. That will allow you to use one for cleanup and the other for dough prep. Spread a table-cloth or sheet of plastic. Keep a small pail of soapy water and a sponge nearby to wipe up flour and your area will stay clean. Lay out a cookie sheet on the table to lay utensils on so they never touch anything dirty. The ingredients should never touch anything except the utensils, mixing bowls and the bread pans. (After the bread comes out, you will need something to wrap it with after it cools a little, but odds are, the bread won't last very long!) The utensils should always sit on the cookie sheet and should be thoroughly washed between batches. Keeping everything clean outdoors is hard, but organization can really help. So can paper towels if you have them.

Mix your dough in a large metal container and don't try to knead it by the loaf. (I make six loaves at a time, which is still small enough to stir by hand). Don't knead the dough with your hands. Stir it instead with a sturdy spoon or spatula. A 16 inch length of 1x2 pine board works really well for this. Just keep it clean. For containers, stock pots work great. (You will need about six of them. It's hard to have too many.) Mix all your ingredients, stir it for about 5-10 minutes, put a lid on the pot and put it someplace warm for about an hour. (The top of your stove will be WAY too hot, but you can probably put it near the fire at the base. Another warm place is inside a car sitting in the sun). At the end on an hour, mix up another batch, punch down the first batch and transfer it into baking pans and lay these in a clean, warm place to rise again. (Clean as you go.)

Rising dough needs a clean warm place. Clean, warm place? That's the biggest problem you may face. If it's cold out, you can't use a car for a solar oven to warm your dough. Another good solution is to use a cooler. If you line the bottom with ceramic tile or gravel, you can heat up a rock or piece of metal and lay it inside the cooler to heat the air inside. I use 3 chunks of rebar and rotate them in the fire to keep the whole cooler between 80 and 100 degrees. If it's too cold for any of these methods, you are probably better off using baking soda instead of yeast for leavening. It's almost as good when you are hungry, and much easier to deal with in cold weather.

At the end of the second hour, pop your pans in the hot ovens, make another batch and fill some more pans. After this point, you will be producing one batch of bread every hour or so. My oven bakes bread in 45 minutes using my pans. Yours will be different, so you have to experiment. Remember, if you use my stove design, the top stove is cooler than the bottom stove. Let it cook a few minutes longer.

My stove body is very sturdy and the top has a single 6 inch hole for a vent. The whole top gets hot (probably 350 to 400 degrees at least. This allows me to put a stock pot and a couple of smaller pots directly on top of the stove to heat water. It will even boil small pots of water if you put them over the vent (You have to make sure you don't block the air flow). A big stock pot gets hot enough for soup. If you put a big pot of water up top, it will heat up to about 150 degrees in an hour. That allows you to add instant soup mix and serve soup with your bread for very little additional trouble and no extra fuel.

Normal bread pans can be used if you build your oven to the right dimensions. I was stupid and didn't do that, so I had to make my own pans to efficiently use the oven space available.

Every run of my oven requires about 15 pounds of flour, 2 pounds of dry milk, 4 cups of sugar, 8 cups of oil and a generous handful of salt. Figure 10 runs a day minimum at 150 pounds of flour. (60 big loaves a day is a lot of food). You will have to try your own system out once or twice using your pans and recipes to see how much it's going to cost you in supplies.

Your group can probably get flour or grain (popcorn, rice, wheat, barley or even millet) from somewhere locally to help you out. Even birdseed with un-hulled sunflower and rape seeds is usable if you grind it very coarsely at first and use a colander to get rid of the big hulls. (You can also float them away). Mix and match different flours in an emergency. You are not cooking for a 5 star restaurant and "It's all good." (Birdseed mix is not very good for bread, so mix it with wheat flour and cut down the oil you add by half.) Your life will be better if you have a flour sifter. A sifter or a course colander can also get rid of trash from dirty feed wheat. Otherwise, your finished flour will have hulls and such in it.

Flour is much easier to work with than buckets of wheat! You will need some way to grind it. I strongly recommend getting a good grain mill like the Country Living Mill and motorizing it. Even a car inverter (a big one) can run an electric grain mill. You are going to have to provide over 15 pounds of flour every hour! That's a lot different from grinding 2 cups of flour for some muffins. Grinding wheat by hand is soul-destroying work, so do anything you can to avoid having to do it the hard way!

If you are facing serious hunger and you need to add more solid food to your kitchen, rice is the natural choice. It cooks fast, stores well and is pretty filling. Simple white rice is very boring and may not be eaten by some Americans, even in a crisis. Even adding a few beans can make it more palatable. Rice and beans are probably acceptable to most Americans, but beware, beans take a long time to cook and lots of fuel. You won't be able to use a insulated cooker unless you have a lot of pots and patience. Waiting for the beans to come off might cause a riot.

Remember, any solid foods you serve are going to require clean utensils and containers.

If you store white flour, odds are, you will need to rotate a lot of it when a disaster strikes. Use it first. The extra nutrition provided by whole wheat is not that important for a healthy population. If they were well fed yesterday, they are in no danger of getting rickets or pellagra. They just need calories. You might even be able to claim it on your income taxes.

Mr. Rawles,
Just a suggestion about something you and your readers might be interested in. I'm not affiliated with the vendor in any way, just a very satisfied customer.

4Sevens' 2-AA Quark light is good for 30 days continuous on low, and a couple of hours at 200 lumens. These are by far the best LED lights on the market at this time. I hang around the flashlight-nerd subculture, and have 4Sevens lights in all my survival packs. Obviously, you can recharge LSD AA lights with solar chargers, and they'll run off of regular AA and lithium AA batteries too.

This light, on high, is probably brighter than any light a normal family owns, many times brighter than a Mag-Lite, and much smaller. Pocket sized. Personally, I suggest their sporadically available warm white LEDs. You can't tell when meat is cooked with a blue-white LED, which is the norm at the moment from other vendors. You can tell rare from well done with the warm white LEDs. When I say "blue" LEDs, I refer to what passes for "white" LEDs these days. They are basically blue-white in spectral output, and have poor color rendition. None of the mass-marketed LED lights currently is warm white, but that is what you want, if you want to be able to make out colors at night. (You do.) 4Sevens sells some "warm" lights, as does Fenix.

The second best thing out there is Fenix. Their TK-20 is warm white, uses AAs, and will throw a spot at 100 yards. (No, I'm not exaggerating, I used Fenix lights on safari while night hunting. They work. My professional hunter kept mine as part of my tip, and he's thrilled with it.) You can also run one over with a truck, and it will still work fine. I know! (Oops!)

Anyway, 4Sevens and Fenix are 2-5 years ahead of Home Depot and Wal-Mart as far as LED lights go, and forever away as far as quality is concerned. Surefire makes great lights, but they are also way behind in efficiency, though they are very well made. My Surefire 6P, heavily modified with parts from Candlepower Forums, is 1,000 lumens, but only for 3 minutes. Still, for current urban uses, it is the bomb. Way better than Surefire's 120 lumen best effort. Mine is blinding in daylight, and obviously, it owns the night, if briefly.

But I digress. 4Sevens has some incredible lights. They are Surefire-priced ($60-ish), but use AAs and LEDs, have sapphire coated scratch proof lenses, have anti-reflection coated lenses, to get the light out, are waterproof, are small, and use the latest generation LEDs.

I cannot imagine a better solution for illumination, if one can recharge LSD AAs. Anyway, check them out. The 2-AA is the best. The single-AA versions burn up too much power in the voltage converter. The 2-AA is the way to go.

One other note. Tritium vials. Tritium vials are not commonly available here in the "land of the free", but are still easily obtainable [if you look at secondary market sources such as eBay]. The 1.5x5mm glass vials are easily inset into survival equipment (green is by far the brightest), and they last 30 years or so. Useful to be added to any equipment one must find in the dark, in a hurry. Use clear nail polish to set the vials; epoxy turns translucent in short order. Also [large military surplus ] tritium map reading lights [commonly called "Betalights"] can be found without too much trouble. - Nemo

Mr. Rawles:
As an engineer interested in long term sustainability I was most interested in the item from Troy H. mentioning Juhnde, Germany. I took a look at their web site and ran the numbers to look at whether such an installation is commercially viable.

The capital costs listed were EU 5,400,000 or about USD $7,900,000 at present exchange rates; It's not clear when the overall system was constructed but the hot water pipeline system was built around 2005. Apparently, and I will have to look into this further, all of the capital costs were from public funds. This translates out to about $10,395 per resident in capital expenses, excluding operating and maintenance costs. Amortized out over 20 years, straight line amortization with no interest cost, the principal cost would be ~$520 per resident per year. If you included reasonable capital costs, a 20 year fixed 6.0% mortgage would cost $74.51 per month per resident. It might be possible to play with the financing costs and rates to find a sweet spot, but I thought that was sufficient for a first assessment.

Assuming an average family of four, this would mean about $3600 per year (about $2,080 for principle and $1,500 interest) for heat and electricity capital cost plus the unknown operating costs, which I would estimate by rule of thumb for large installs at 50% of the amortized capital expenses. That is $5,400 per year per family, not for housing but just for heat and electricity.

If we include the return from the electrical power (an estimated annual surplus of 2,500,000 kWh) that is a total annual savings of $150,000 at $0.06 per kWh or $197 per resident per year, for an estimated net cost of around $4,600 per family for heat and electricity. (Obviously, electrical costs vary tremendously and affect the analysis)

My costs for my home's physical plant, which include a propane furnace with electric heat pump and associated tanks, duct work, woodstove and chimney, etc., were about $13,000 to support a family of four. My annual energy cost, electricity, propane, and the costs of cutting/splitting wood are about $1,400 per year. (Yes, I have good insulation, and I also don't have a huge house, and I turn off the lights!) Plus an allowance of $500 for repair and replacement. Using the same logic and rates, my mortgage cost for heating is $93.14 per month or ~$1,120 per year capital expenses plus $1,900 in operating expenses including preventative maintenance (PM) and repair allowance. This totals $3,000 per year.

What this analysis tells me is that interesting as Juhnde is, it is not economically sustainable. Sustainable designs have to be sustainable from an economic perspective as well as a technical and biological one. A truly sustainable solution offers economic benefits and a competitive advantage. Now, a highly productive society such as present-day Germany may be able to afford to subsidize a 50% increase in energy costs and a 25% reduction in crop output, at least in a small area over the short term, and this example may be useful as a 'proof of concept' test bed, but in my judgment this is not a viable long term solution for the USA. The real push behind this may be found in the proud statement that the village has reduced it's carbon output by 60%. Regards, - Larry

JWR Replies: Also missing from the grand cost accounting equation are the costs of the fossil fuels used in producing and transporting the crops used in biodigesters. Traditional agriculture in a partially forested region (for firewood) with good topsoil and reliable rains provides a much better shot at true local mutigenerational sustainability. But of course that flies in the face of the uber-greens that are fixated on carbon emissions. Talk about missing the forest for the trees. Our forests are enormous solar energy collectors, renewably providing countless billions of BTUs, there for the taking.

From Reader RSR mentioned that Reliance Aqua-Tainer seven gallon containers are presently on sale for $8 each at Wal-Mart stores. I just saw the same containers for $17 each at an REI store. And speaking of water containers, Walgreens pharmacies now have 25 ounce "Green Canteen" brand stainless steel water bottles on sale for $4 each. They are out of stock at their online stores, but many individual brick and mortar stores still have them on hand. OBTW, beware that they are made in mainland China.

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We were sent two interesting, if impractical items from ImpactLab: a table that converts into a fort, and a house disguised as a woodpile. Thanks to F.R. for the link.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this link: http://www.lifesaversystems.com/hydrocarry.html

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From reader Robert S.: A simple OPSEC failure in Haiti leads to trouble.

American Vodka
Corn Liquor
Pure Spring Water
Grade "A" Milk
Corned Beef & Potatoes
Steak & Fried Potatoes
Butter & some days Bread
Smoked Bear Meat
Jerked Quisling (by the neck)
Crepes Suzettes to order.
!!!Any BOOK Accepted as Cash!!!!
Blacksmithing, Machine Shop,
Sheet Metal Work-You Supply the Metal
Lessons by Arrangement
Social Evening Every Wednesday
Ring bell. Wait. Advance with your Hands Up.
Stay on path, avoid mines. We lost three customers last week. We can't afford to lose YOU.
No sales tax.
Hugh & Barbara Farnham & Family, Freeholders" - Robert A. Heinlein, Farnham's Freehold

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The recent earthquake in the island nation of Haiti illustrates the fragility of all societies. While Haiti is unusual in its lack of infrastructure and its high dependence on foreign aid--more than half of its annual government budget comes from foreign aid--it is still similar in many ways to other nations: From the 1960s to the turn of the 21st century, as in many other nations, Haiti became an urbanized nation. Before the 1960s a substantial portion of Haitian society still lived on rural semi-self sufficient farmsteads. But as urbanization and specialization went on, fewer and fewer people lived off the land and more and more citizens became dependent on foreign aid and a scant number of industrial jobs. This trend has been repeated around the globe, making nearly all societies increasingly vulnerable to disasters, man-made or natural. The resiliency of traditional agrarian societies has sadly become a thing of the past. Here in America, 2% of the population now feeds the other 98%. This is now something that First, Second, and Third World nations have in common. America is more like Haiti than we'd like to think. Human nature is the same in every culture and nation: fundamentally sinful.

The Thin Veneer

With a few exceptions, most notably in Oceania, traditional Christian values have slipped away in much of the western world. When times get tough the citizenry of most nations loses all compunctions about using violence to expropriate the property of others. As I've written before, modern societies have just a thin veneer of civilization that covers something quite odorous beneath. Here in modern western societies, folks like to think of themselves as highly civilized, but when the Schumer hits the fan, there's no difference between people in the First World and the Third World.

As prepared individuals, we have the opportunity to set ourselves apart with a higher standard of behavior than those who resort to their baser instincts in time of crisis. It's important that there are some of us that have both the means and the willingness to help restore order and free commerce in the event of societal disruption.

The recent events in Haiti should be a reminder that in times of crisis things can easily fall apart. What happened in Haiti was dramatic, and a naturally occurring event, but because of the vulnerabilities of all modern societies, there could just as well be a reversion to savagery in a situation such as an economic collapse. We need to have our Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids squared away, so we can focus on more important things in a disaster than just finding food and water. Not only do we need to just prepare for surviving the next day, but also to be useful in rebuilding infrastructures and free commerce. This requires preparing with logistics as well as training and practicing to be ready to step into the breach.

The Charity Imperative

First World nations have become focused on large organizations, both governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), dispensing charity. The collective psyche is geared toward watching suffering "someplace far away", and dialing an 800 number to make a contribution via credit card. While I truly appreciate people's generosity, it is something quite far removed from preparedness to dispense charity locally.

In the event of a disaster closer to home, credit cards won't do the job. It takes tangible goods in hand to solve crises in your own backyard. So, it's important that we stock up, both for ourselves, and to dispense copious charity to relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. In the event of a nation-wide disaster here in America, there will be no relief from abroad. We must reconstitute internally, starting at the local level. Here is where your skills, your tools, your gear, your garden seed, and your grub will be crucial.

When it comes to knowledge you'll need to be prepared to disseminate crucial, yet simple technologies to your neighbors. These could include how to build a inertial water pump, how to build a simple 12VDC fuel transfer pump, and how to build simple solar projects, such as solar stills, cold frames and green houses, solar ovens, and solar dehydrators. And don't forget, that in the event of a crisis, your local photocopy center is unlikely to be in operation. So, it is important to prepare multiple hard copies of key pieces of information now, to have on hand to distribute when times get tough. There is a wealth of knowledge available on traditional skill and technologies in the SurvivalBlog archives and elsewhere on the Internet, from organizations such as Steve's Pages, Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), The Hesperian Institute, The Peace Corps, OISM, Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP), and Backwoods Home Magazine. Take advantage of these resources, and make those photocopies so that you will be able to share that knowledge with others!

Teaching for the Moment

Elementary school teachers here in the United States use the phrase "teach for the moment," to describe turning current events into teaching opportunities. I recommend that any conversations amongst your neighbors, coworkers, or church brethren be used as opportunities to spread the philosophy of family preparedness. Water cooler chit-chat should not just be "ain't it awfuling" sessions. You should instead use such conversations to encourage others to actively prepare for similar situations. And if anyone says, "Oh, but it couldn't happen here," then just remind them about the aftermath Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Not only has it happened here before, but it is likely to recur often within our lifetimes.

The Haitian earthquake of 2010 is a stark reminder of the fragility of all societies. It shows us that we need to be well-prepared and vigilant. And for those of us that are not Secret Squirrels, we should also be quietly and persistently leading public opinion, locally.

The Ishapore Enfield in .308 is still being built today in India. It is common to see local police carry them (rather than a pistol) as they also use them for crowd control (butt stroke).

I picked up three of these rifles many years ago when they were first being imported into the US and they are my standard truck gun these days. While I have several M14 variants and a whole host of AR variants, the $89 I paid for each of these rifles makes them cheap enough that if I lose one (if my truck gets broken into) or if I have to distribute them to neighbors, I am not out too much.

The Enfield design is a phenomenal design that was steadily improved on from the late 1800's (the Enfield was first produced to chamber a black powder round and I have loaded and fired black powder reloads in mine) until the end of WWII. Its hard to beat almost 60 years of product improvement spanning the end of the Imperial age through two world wars. The only other rifle that has gone through such a rigorous series of enhancements is the M16 series. Even the AK-47 series only went through a couple of enhancements (chief being the AKM changes which simply made them easier to manufacture but did not enhance the usability of the rifle) before it was replaced with the AK-74.

This design also shoots almost as fast as a semi-auto which is why the Brits kept it for so long even when other options such as the M1 Garand were available. Even today, in Iraq many of the British SAS/SBS troops carry the Enfield as it is a reliable, fast shooting, and deadly to long range rifle. One show I watched earlier this year (Lock and Load on the History Channel) showed a shoot out between this rifle and the M1 Garand. There was not much of a difference. On average a trained rifleman shooting a full power round like the .308 can achieve 0.1 second between aimed shots with a semi-auto rifle like the M1 or L1A1 and close to 0.15 second between aimed shots with the Enfield. - Dr. Hugh

Mr. Rawles,
I am writing concerning this letter by JIR concerning the Ishapore 2A1 rifle. He mentioned that stripper clips for this rifle are available for $13 per box of 20 on Amazon. Keep Shooting, one of your advertisers, has them for $7.95 per 20 before the 5% discount they give us for mentioning SurvivalBlog. I thought this might be a nice way to tell others about the money savings, and to support one of your sponsors. Things are getting crazy out there. Let's pray that none of this will be necessary to use. - K.J.

The topic on retreats mentioned that castles were unable to withstand long sieges. This is only partially true. Once castle design was understood, a well stocked castle could withstand a siege indefinitely. Castle were designed so that the women, children, and old men who were left in a village after the fighting age men marched off to war, could defend the castle. If you examine the history of Europe you will see that castles fell to siege only infrequently; the majority of them either were betrayed from the inside or for whatever reason the stocks inside the castle (usually water) were not maintained. This is the primary reason why Europe was so divided through the middle ages; even kings could not raise a large enough army to overcome the castles of the local barons. (One of the few exceptions was King Richard who, if history is any judge, was either very lucky or had inside help in taking every castle he attacked.) That is until black powder cannons were developed and because of their cost (and the cost of the professionals who manned them) were only affordable to the kings or the larger holdings.

A good example of this would be the savage pounding that Monte Casino took in Italy, and the huge numbers of casualties that the Allies took to reduce it, even with modern weapons.

I would argue that even today, fortified construction has its place. While hidden retreats are preferable (avoid a fight if at all possible), it is still preferable to have some place that can shrug off small arms fire to retreat to. The trick is finding the right ground on which to build it. If you borrow from the great castle designs of history you will see that you need a place on the crest of a hill (so that the walls are enhanced by the height and angle of the slope), that has access to water inside the walls, and is generally hidden. But this also makes the site hard to live in. One of the small town in Belgium that was built this way (Dolheim) had fields that were an hours walk away downhill, and nearly two hours uphill. I don't know about you, but after following the rear end of a mule all day the last thing I want to do is walk for two hours up a hill.

The fortified farms of the 1400s and on would probably be a better design choice for a retreat though -- and many of these were either built on or following the design of Roman and Greek homes. In these designs the outside walls of the house, barn, and storage shed or stables, and the kitchen would not have any windows or doors on the first floor. All three or four sides would open into a spacious interior courtyard and the corners of the three or four structures would be joined with stout walls. Some of these structures, such as those found on the borders between Scotland and England, the walls were up to three feet thick. Since stone construction and tile or slate roofs were used, they were also fire resistant. Similar construction approaches can be seen in fortified farming villages in China (whose walls could withstand hits from black powder cannon), the Pueblo culture of the American Southwest, and fortified farms in Afghanistan that are in use even today. Yes, modern high explosives make these much harder to defend, but short of having a modern weapon like an anti-tank rocket (or a tank, as our Bosnian friend pointed out), these structures could and still do what they were designed to do: shrug off attacks from "bandits" and "raiders." They were not designed to withstand a military siege but rather resist the depredations of fast moving quasi-criminal gangs who would move on to an easier target rather than slug it out with those inside.

Since the goal of longer term survival is to have productive locations and facilities to use, a farm with a fortified farm house is a much better model to base our modern retreat on. Now, I don't know about you but the thought of giving up any farm animals to the depredations of a roving band does not sit well with me. While huddling inside the fortified farm is not the correct approach (aggressive patrols outside of it to spoil any attacks and move the bandits along), I also would much rather leave my wife and younger children inside something that they can defend for a while by themselves while I am out, than to simply expect them to hide and hope. - Dr. Hugh

Sandy in Illinois sent a link to a post from a missionary outside Port au Prince in Haiti.

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Harold M. mentioned a gent selling complete ALICE packs for $30: CJLEnterprize.com.

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Possible garden seed shortages in 2010? Thanks to Bob W. for the link.

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The ultimate bug-out vehicle? Chris M. sent this story from RD Mag: Street-legal airplane made possible with new rules, new software.

"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable. The contingency we have not considered seriously looks strange; what looks strange is thought improbable; what is improbable need not be considered seriously." - Thomas Schelling

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hail from Kentucky. I just wanted to add my two cents and maybe some advice to anyone thinking about building a pond to help support their retreat. I just want to say that I am not an expert, just learned a thing or two from the school of hard knocks, and would love to hear the feed back and thoughts of other SurvivalBloggers.

I saw a post by a lady a week or so ago that mentioned she wanted to have a pond dug on her five acre plot but she stated that the water table is 12 feet in her area so the pond would have to be pretty deep, this is what sparked my thinking. If you're having a new pond dug keep a few things in mind while planning. If you already have one I recommend a good cleaning and re-stocking.

  1. Of course: location, location, location. I'll refer to this farther down.
  2. What are your reasons for digging this pond? What purpose will it serve and how will it help you and your fellow retreaters?
  3. What is your soil type? Will it support a pond? How deep is your bedrock?
  4. What can you do before your pond has water to support it?
  5. When choosing a location for your pond will it hinder your security in any way? Will it help? Remember principle number 1: People will walk around water before walking through it.

Could you put it in a place that allows rain water to drain into it to keep it filled and oxygenated, but is higher than your home? I've seen a filtered gravity-fed water system supply a cistern for various uses; garden irrigation, gray water uses such as bathing or washing clothes, you could even treat it in the cistern for drinking, but with the high bacteria count I wouldn't drink it without treatment.

I had my pond stocked with channel catfish and panfish. Channel catfish thrive in a farm pond as they don't need the high oxygen contents other species do. I contacted my local farm store and they directed me to a fish wholesaler who in turn made a time to come out and pump my order directly into my pond. The fish are hatchlings when you get them, so they aren't contaminated with the diseases and parasites the ones you catch in rivers and streams could be. So you have farm raised catfish which in 3 to 5 years reach 1-4 pounds and are very tasty, also the panfish, such as blue gill and Pumpkin Seed Hybrids do very well in the same pond, they provide a steady supply of food for your cats. Plus, the ones that survive and grow large enough to eat are tasty as well. They are fast reproducers so once they are in there you will always have plenty. (Keep in mind that it's a good idea to have a pond dug in the fall, then let the winter fill it, and give it all of spring and into summer before introducing fish, thus allowing the new environment to develop, flora and healthy bacteria.)

Our soil type here is a rich silty dark earth that drains rainfall very well but has just enough clay to allow a pond to form a nice bowl. Our problem is that we live in a limestone rich area and the first layer of bedrock is at 5 or 6 feet. Some contractors truck in clay to help build your bowl. If your contractor doesn't know what he is doing and the pond is dug improperly your pond will leak and you won't be able to do anything about it. You'll notice the water level going down and find a wet spot 100 yards or so below your pond as the water follows the bedrock. I also recommend your levy be built with a keyway type levy, this is another topic for another day, but there is more to a levy than just building a wall of dirt to hold back water. Don't hire just anyone with earth moving equipment, check them out by their references.

When prepping your pond before it starts to fill, keep in mind that fish like small places to hide so leave some debris in there, I've heard of people throwing cinder blocks, tree tops, almost anything you can think of just remember you will be fishing at some point and those hooks catch more than fish. This is also the time to install your gravity feed for your needs. Build a dock, or any other cosmetic thing you want to add that may be difficult while full of water.

On a final note. In a TEOTWAWKI situation you will want make sure that you pond is deep enough to last. It will fill up over the course of time with dirt contained in run off, and there probably won't be many people around to clean it out. Like I stated earlier I am no expert and would love feedback from you or any one your readers, Thank you for you time, your books, and your dedication to others who are awake enough to try preserve what our founders gave us but is dying before our eyes. I'm looking forward to the next book release, The Lord willing and if the creek don't rise. - Gary in Kentucky

For the past 12 years I have served in the US Army as an Infantryman. Two deployments to Iraq and one in Afghanistan have taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget. The biggest one being the importance of marksmanship. There is not a firearm in the word that will make up for lack of practice or being a lousy shot. Some considerations...

  1. While at the range do you only fire from the standing position? In a gunfight the name of the game is finding cover and concealment and returning accurate fire. Standing is almost never the best option. Practice shooting from the kneeling, prone supported, and prone unsupported positions. Reflexive firing is another useful skill if you need to make a quick shot. Reflexive firing is not looking through your sights, but down your sights. Try firing two rapid shots at a paper plate 25 meters away. This will develop muscle memory with a lot of practice and time. Use only for close range.
  2. Magazine change drills. This could be the difference between life and death! The more time you spend reloading your firearm is the less time you are returning fire. In a gunfight with your adrenaline pumping your hands will most likely be shaking. Practice magazine change drills often to minimize the fumbling around to get your weapon back in action.
  3. Immediate action drills. Try this: load a rifle or pistol magazine with a spent shell case mixed somewhere in it. Hand the firearm to someone else and have them fire. When the weapon fails to fire and just goes click, what do they do? The surprise will make most people just stare at the weapon and wonder what went wrong, instead of charging the weapon and resuming fire.
  4. Remedial action. When immediate action does not work you are now at the point of remedial action. Know you firearm well enough to break it down to fix any problems that may occur. It may be as simple as a double feed or as difficult as a bolt over ride.
  5. Know your target and what is beyond it. Let's face it you will miss a target from time to time. To minimize collateral damage you may need to wait for a shot. Don't shoot at something unless you absolutely must if there is something behind your target you don't want to hit.

I hope this helps. - Bryan C.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for your blog. I homeschool and read your blog every day for "Current Events." I have studied both of your books, "Patriots" and ""How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", and I've learned a lot from them.

I would have to agree that you shouldn't under estimate a pre-teen with proper firearms training. I am thirteen years old now, but started my training at nine years old when I went to my first Appleseed Shoot with my Dad. I got a "Rifleman" qualification when I was ten years old at the next Appleseed match. When I was eleven, I got my own Bushmaster AR,which I shot the full distance AQT with. I have now attended four shoots and a seven day Appleseed Boot Camp. Boot camp was very hard but I made it! We got sun burns, wind chapped, it poured rain, and it sleeted. Our guns were so muddy, we had to wash them with a hose. I was cold, wet, and tired but I loved every part of it. I would highly recommend that more kids be involved in the Appleseed Project, not only for the hands on training, but also for the fun history I've learned and good friends I've made.

Other ideas for education in this area would be to participate in a local 4H shooting sports program or Hunter's Education. My Mom and I took Hunter's Educatoion class together this last Spring and for my 13th birthday I got a Tikka T3 .308. It really kicks hard, so I don't enjoy shooting it very much. I'm planning on selling it and saving for a FNAR. It would be great to have more kids being educated, because most of the time at the range, I'm the only kid there.

Here are a few things, from a kids perspective, to consider:

Safety and Respect for firearms - Safety is the most important factor - I think that the maturity level in other areas of life will let you know if a kid is ready to learn to handle a gun. There were a couple of kids in my Hunter's Ed class that should not have any access to weapons for quite a while. Boston T. Party that parents should not let kids play with toy guns and I can understand why, but I always played with cap guns and the sort. I think that every kid will make a gun out of something; LEGO, sticks. or their fingers. So teach them young to have a healthy fear and respect for firearms.

Eye dominance - Figuring out eye dominance correctly from the start is important. I'm left handed but had trouble shooting Rifle Left handed. I shoot Rifle right handed right eyed and Pistol Left handed Left eyed.

Proper gear sizing - Having your gear sized properly is also really important. A shortened stock is very helpful as well as a good fitting sling. Cabela's has a good selection of junior- sized ear and eye protection. If you're not struggling with poorly-fitted equipment, it's easier to focus on hitting the target.

Indoor practice - I dry fire when we can't get to the range. As for pistol, I shoot a Glock Model 23 and have had a few tactical pistol lessons. I don't dry fire as much as I should, but I think that it helps to make the motions an automatic reaction. Airsoft is also an awesome invention. The guns are correctly sized and most are fairly accurate.

Family involvement - Shooting is also a great thing to do as a family. We all shoot in my family except my three year old Brother, but he still goes to the range with us and has his own "ears and eyes." My Grandpa and I love to re-load together. We're both learning. I think it's important to know how every part of the bullet works and how different loads change your results on the target. We read a lot in our family and some of my favorites are Boston's Gun Bible, Army field manuals, the "Enemies Trilogy" by Matthew Bracken that my folks read aloud and edit out the bad stuff, and many other survival and self sufficient books.

I may not be an adult, but I know that I'm an important part of our group. My Dad and Mom know that I've got their back and they can trust me to be safe, calm, and accurate. Because of my training and many hours of practice, I may be an unexpected force to be reckoned with. Thanks - "Teacher's Pet" in Montana

Mr Rawles,
I have read your blog off and on for a while. I am just getting settled in to living as a civilian and living in the U.S. I spent 13 years overseas. I thought I would pass this link on, about a five year old who defended his life against an alligator just north of Houston. It is never too early to teach gun safety and proper shooting techniques to your kids. Respectfully - E.F.

I wanted to give a shout out to Michael Bane and the others with common sense who helped with the "After Armageddon" docudrama. I was pleasantly surprised when my wife wanted to watch the History Channel for once. The scales fell from her eyes while she was watching, how fragile our lives and standard of living can be.

Right after she started asking "Is that why...." (you fill in the blanks) I was elated! Now she understands my favorite saying, "hope for the best & prepare for the worst." That used to make her roll her eyes. She always figured I could take care of the family in a bad situation. Now she sees how much we take for granted.

My wife works at a pharmacy, and a day later she brought home extra medical supplies. "What can we store these in?" she asked. "You know those green metal things that are lying around? They work great for storing supplies." I didn't mention that there's already quite a bit of first aid stuff in ammo cans.

Then she started asking about water; how we could get it without electricity and if I could put an old fashioned pitcher pump in the back yard. The realization that people are so soft now has her scared, but I assured her that that realization is a good start for her. Now she's asking if we can get books to teach us useful skills. I kept a straight face and said yes. I guess they can expand our collection. And my favorite, "Can we move farther away from the city? I'd like to be at more rural place if things ever really get bad. Don't you have friends in Idaho and Wyoming? Can you get a job there?" Now she's thinking!
The History Channel gave some of us a chuckle on some subjects, but it has been an eye opener for some. And now I can read "that web site" without interruptions. Thanks for all the great information! - Josh from Michigan.

I have been reading your blog of about two years and just wanted to share a recent experience with my wife. First of all, I have been storing food, have solar power and a generator for backup power. We have purchased land in a remote location 2 hours from here and 12 miles from the pavement for a G.O.O.D. retreat and will have a cabin by March. We have rifles and ammo in several common calibers, first aid supplies, etc.

My wife has been agreeable to all this, but didn't understand the urgency. We have a year's food stored and she will ask " Why do we need all this food" every time I bring more home. (We have a bedroom in the house with nothing but food in it and we rotate the food.) I have explained many times and I think she just humors me. Well, last Saturday night, I was out in my ham shack and she was in the house watching "After Armageddon" on the FTA satellite setup. She called me on her cell phone and told me I needed to come in and watch the program because it was about the things I had been telling her about. Before she hung up, she said "We need more food, I don't want to have to eat a snake." - Kenneth in Oklahoma

"We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality." - Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

In this modern world the term “calorie” is almost a bad word. They are things to be limited, controlled and shunned whenever possible. We use terms like “empty” and “wasted” in regards to the consumption of calories. Obesity, the result of the over-consumption of calories, is one of the biggest dangers that we face as Americans. If and when TEOTWAWKI occurs, our thinking needs to change immediately.
The average man doing minimal amounts of work needs about 2500 calories per day to maintain weight and full functionality. Doing moderate physical labor or survival activities can easily increase that number to 3000+. When the calorie intake drops below 1200 (or half of the optimal number of calories for an individual) the body goes into a survival mode in which physical and cognitive functions are impaired. Extreme lethargy, indecisiveness, confusion and excessive sleepiness are some of the symptoms and are not beneficial to dealing with the stresses encountered when our lives are in peril. In a survival situation, therefore, calories are crucial and the more, the better. That is right, fat is your friend; remember that fat has 9 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates only have 4 calories per gram. If you only have 2 pounds of food at your disposal, what do want the composition of that food to be? Keep this in mind when you are making your preparations.

Canned goods are a cheap and easy to acquire survival staple. They have a decent shelf life, and are usually safe to consume well past their “sell by” dates. Tests run by the FDA, the US Army and Washington State University have found that 40-100 year old canned goods that were still safe to eat barring damage to the container. All canned food is not equal in a survival situation however. Many folks will purchase a case or two of whatever is on sale and consider the number of cans when deciding on the duration of their preparedness. A can of green beans for example, has about 120 calories. It would take 10 cans per day just to meet the basic needs of an average man. Those calories do not include much in the way of protein or fat either- both of which are critical for health. On the other hand, a can of Vienna sausages has about 450 calories and has the requisite protein and fat. Very simply, when you are purchasing canned goods for preparedness, devote at least one-half of your purchases to high calorie choices with ample protein and fat. Include some starches like beans, corn and potatoes, since carbohydrates are easily metabolized and turned into the sugars that our brains require. Fruits and vegetables have fiber and some vitamins that cannot be obtained from other sources, so don’t ignore them.

Drying food is one of the oldest methods of preservation and is still a winner in terms of shelf life and durability. Dehydrated foods can have a shelf life of 20-30 years if properly stored. Visit Grandpappy's web site for more info. While ready packed #10 cans of dehydrated foods are great to have, they are somewhat expensive and hard to transport. On the other hand, 1# bags of rice and dried beans are cheap, filling, and readily-available and supply complete proteins when used together. If you have a vacuum sealing machine, a good “ration pack” can be made by placing 1# of dried beans, 1# of rice, 1/3 cup of dehydrated onions, and 2 tablespoons of a salt-based seasoning in separate bags and sealing them together. The contents of that pack can easily feed 4 people for a day.

In the event that you have meat that is ready to spoil due to a recent hunting success or a prolonged power outage, take a page from our ancestors and dry it. There are several methods for drying meat or anything else with a high moisture content. If you are in an arid environment, drying is dead easy. Cut the meat into ¼" slices, rub it with salt and spices (if desired), and either spread it out on a grating or hang it for 2-3 days in an area with decent air flow. Salt is a cheap and bulky ingredient, so it is ubiquitous in seasoning blends and sauces and aids in the preservation process. A cheap “bullet smoker” can be used as a dryer and smoker. Hang the strips of meat from the grates, using toothpicks or a similar item and build a very small fire in the bottom fire bowl. Ideally, the temperature should remain between 110 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit so the product is truly dried- not cooked. The addition of wood, corn cobs or nut shells will impart smoke, which aids in preservation as well as flavor. Window screens or furnace filters can be used in conjunction with rapidly flowing air to dry foods in a day or so. Get creative! Once the foods are thoroughly dried, store in a closed container with hard sides. Plastic bags hold moisture close to the food and will cause the food to partially hydrate and eventually rot. Dehydrated foods can be rehydrated in hot water and used in soups or stews. The dehydrating process reduces the weight of most meat and produce to about 6-10% of its regular weight, so a lot more food energy can be carried per pound.

An unlikely source of survival rations is your local convenience store. Or more likely, the Big Box store where the convenience store buys its products. Individually packaged snack foods are designed for portability and shelf life. Those preservatives that everyone loves to hate are put there to make the product last for months or years in the vending machine with little discernable loss of flavor. The products also have a very low water content (making them cheaper to ship) and very high energy density. The individual vacuum packs of trail mix, nuts, jerky or individual sausages (such as "Slim-Jim”) make for a readily packable addition to your BOB that provide a lot of calories with minimal weight and space. The individual packs of sports drink powders are also a worthwhile addition. Everyone knows that feeling of lightheadedness and nausea that hits when your blood sugar or electrolyte balance goes low. The electrolytes and sugar in those packets is a quick fix for that. These items may not be part of a perfectly balanced diet, but carrying 9,000 calories in a backpack takes some compromises.

In terms of fresh food, think outside your normal comfort zone. Hunting, fishing and foraging will be necessary to augment your food storage. Many people live in areas that are devoid of large animals like deer or elk. Killing, butchering, processing and preserving large animals is a big effort anyway. What good is 200 pounds of meat for a family of 4 when there is no refrigeration handy and they are on the move? Better is to supplant the above mentioned beans and rice with a couple of pigeons or a squirrel bagged along the way. As the Cajuns say “…anything that flies, walks, crawls or slithers is good for gumbo”. Crickets are good additions to the pot as well, just remove their legs at toast them. Some bugs are indeed poisonous or at least really unpleasant to eat- so do your homework while you still can. There are also plenty of plants that are just ready to be foraged for food. While it would be hard to find enough wild onions to live on them alone, they will greatly improve the taste of a pot of soup. Other plants will give you essential vitamins and ever-important fiber. Regularity is often under-appreciated until you don’t have it. There are hundreds of area-specific guides to edible plants that deserve study and a place in anyone’s library.

The human body has a fantastic calorie storage mechanism built in. Our early ancestors rarely knew when or where their next meal would appear. As such, our body has adapted to store food energy “on site” in fat stores. This mechanism allowed us to get through times of scarcity and replenish during times of plenty. In an extended period of scarcity, fat stores might be the deciding factor of who lives or dies. Every pound of fat contains roughly 4000 calories of energy. A person that is 20 pounds overweight therefore has about 80,000 calories of energy in reserve. While the body’s survival mechanisms do not readily lend themselves to following formulas and everyone’s mileage may vary; that means that an extra 20 pounds will buy you extra time to live.

This is not meant to try and convince anyone to switch to a diet of donuts and bacon. Obesity still carries a major penalty in many other aspects of survival both in our current reality and in a worst-case scenario. The ability to live without medications for hypertension, or cholesterol or diabetes is critical when the pharmacies all shut down. Too much fat will indeed kill you. The focus should be on general health and stamina, especially in terms of manual labor and walking. A person with a large muscle mass and very little fat effectively has a huge engine with a very small gas tank. The big engine is helpful, but the tank must always be refilled. A person with little muscle mass and a lot of fat has a small engine and a huge gas tank. It doesn’t matter how much fuel there is if the engine is too small to do the job. A person with decent muscle mass, good cardiovascular health and a little extra “cushion” is the best suited to prolonged survival. The ability to walk while carrying weight and the ability to do strenuous work are the most vital elements.

In summation, calories are an important and overlooked aspect in any survival plan. Imagine the tasks that will need to be done when the lights go out and stay out for an extended period of time. Nearly every task will involve significantly more energy use than it does in our current reality. In human terms, energy comes exclusively from the burning of food energy in the form of calories. The truly prepared will have enough calories available to do what needs to be done to survive and prosper.

In "Dental Preparedness, by Pat" the author mentions "using 400mg of Ibuprofen taken with 800mg of Tylenol at the same time, every 4-6 hours." That could result in taking 4,800mg of Tylenol in a day. Online resources state the maximum safe dose is 4,000mg per day, or liver failure could result. [JWR Adds: Thanks for pointing that out! Clearly, at that dosage, that course of treatment must either end or the dosage be reduced after just18 hours.] - SunDog

First off, love your site! It's level headed and full of wonderful information. It's now part of my required reading in the mornings along with the news and email. Google Books has Dr. Chase’s Third, Last and Complete Receipt Book, it's free, it's PDF format and downloadable. Keep up the good work! - Herman N.

I’ve been reading the blog for about a year now, I think this may be my first email to you. In searching for Dr. Chase’s Third, Last and Complete Receipt Book, I stumbled across this web site from MSU of downloadable cookbooks and “domestic science” tomes from the late 1700s through early 1900s. Thought it was very cool and perhaps of interest to the readers. Keep up the good work! - Tim

Trent H. sent a link to Pack and Saddle Shop's horse packing tips.

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Troy H. sent these links, about an energy-independent farming own in Germany. He comments, "These folks already generate their own heat and electricity (enough in fact to sell surplus wattage back the grid!), and seem well positioned for long-term independence. A 'covenant community' or 'retreat township' model might benefit from these sorts of systems." There are two articles, an overview, and a detailed photo essay, with more technical details.

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From the British Medical Journal: Surgeon performs self-apendectomy in Antarctica. Thanks to Jim T. for the link.

"Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God, but he that doeth evil hath not seen God." - 3 John 11

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

Just a quick observation about the wisdom of sheltering in a missile base or some other Cold War-era fortification. While Chris is correct that history demonstrates that fortifications can and will be breached by enemy forces with the resources and determination to maintain a well-conceived siege, I question whether after TEOTWAWKI the marauders most likely to be challenging such a retreat will have the resources to see a siege through to a successful conclusion.

Presumably, the scarcity of resources is precisely what would make a fortress such an inviting target. Unlike the armies that successfully overran ancient fortifications, there is little hope of people armed only with conventional weapons successfully breaching the walls or blast doors of a structure designed to withstand anything but a direct hit from a sizable nuclear warhead. Additionally, the barbarian hordes in a post-collapse scenario will not have the luxury of sitting in place indefinitely, waiting for those hunkered inside such a bunker to exhaust their own resources. Unless a well-organized and well-armed assault force happens to catch the owners of the fortress completely unprepared, I think that even taking into account the risks of living underground for prolonged periods these sorts of shelters offer the highest degree of security for their owners after TSHTF.

Keep up the great work, - D.


Dear Editor:
Ah, so sorry to sound the defeatist, but the self-sufficiency plans outlined in the recently-posted article by "Chris" would not stand up to scientific scrutiny by folks that actually work with closed-cycle environments.

(A) The article refers to producing methane for power by "dissolving" milkweed in water, and even accelerating the breakdown by immersing the milkweed in salt water and running a current through it. 

In point of fact, merely "dissolving" milkweed will not produce methane.  Methane is produced by the decomposition and fermentation of organic matter.  Said decomposition requires a number of things: (1) a warm, moist environment, (2) a low oxygen content in the biomass being fermented, (3) one or more bacterial cultures that decompose biomass – these are usually found in moist, or semisolid matter, not a salt-water solution.  Decomposition bacteria do *really* poorly in salt water.  It's the reason "salt-curing" is the preservation method of choice for meat in the absence of refrigeration.

One must also ask, if the milkweed is being fermented for methane to generate power, where is the electricity coming from that would be passed through the saltwater solution to supposedly accelerate the dissolution of the milkweed?  Hmm?  It would be a good idea to *produce* more power than one must consume in the production of the power.

Certainly it would be possible to produce methane from compost, and that would be a good means of providing an emergency fuel source and heat source in cold weather.  However for power generation, if we assume that the author is thinking of using a methane-fueled internal combustion engine connected to an alternator, it is first necessary to *compress* the methane.  One kilogram of solid waste subjected to anaerobic fermentation will produce about 120 liters of methane – a year.  A natural gas (i.e. methane) fueled generator producing 5000 watts (a very small home – just enough for lights, a fan and one small refrigerator – uses approximately 2 kg of methane per hour.  Methane weighs about 2 kg per cubic meter, so the 120 liters of methane produced as above would weigh about 0.02 kg.  To keep a methane-powered generator going for a single 24-hour day would require 2400 kg of compost, and could only run the generator for one day out of 365.  Continuous operation would require a compost pit containing >800,000 kg of compost.  Nearly a thousand metric tons of fermenting waste would hardly count as inconspicuous. 

Then there's that compression problem again.  Absent a compressed methane supply, the only possible means of power generation would be external combustion of the methane in an open flame and boiling water.  All of which presumes that sufficient methane can be collected from a compost pit the size a small town and transported to the burner, but alas, that would also require some means of *pushing* the methane into the pipes leading to the burner.  This means fans or pumps, and like compressing the methane or electrifying salt water, would waste the very power being generated. 

(B) Next the article turns to air and water filtration, and is on its strongest foundation.  It is true that algae are a great technique for scrubbing the air of excess CO2 and enriching it with oxygen.  This is the stuff of which long-duration space flight is made.  Better yet, algae is biomass, and can be composted for methane!  However, there are still many issues with the *implementation* of this plan.  First, algae consume CO2 and produce O2 during the day, but a little acknowledged fact is that *all* plants consume O2 and produce CO2 at night when chlorophyll is deprived of the sunlight required to power photosynthesis.  The efficiency of this cycle is about 2:1 given 12 hrs day and 12 hrs night.  Thus for every two liters of O2 produced during daylight, one liter will be consumed the following night.  Unless the algae is grown under artificial sunlight lamps – but there's that pesky problem again of consuming all of the power in the process of generating the fuel to generate the power…

However, what is the efficiency of algae-based air "freshening"?  One can assume that it is not entirely necessary to produce *all* of the breathable air.  Certainly *some* air will be derived from the outside unless it is completely contaminated with fallout, biological weapons or zombie virus.  For the sake of argument, let's say we need to produce enough breathable air for a single person each day.  That way one person can be completely sealed into the bunker, or additional people can be supported by supplementing with outside air.  A single adult male runs about 20,000 liters through their lungs each day.  That's 16 one-liter breaths per minute.  About 1000 liters of O2 are consumed and 1000 liters of CO2 exhaled.  That's between 0.03 and 0.05 kg of each per day, or 15-20 kg/year.  One square meter of algae will consume about 10 kg of CO2 per year and produce about 8 kg of O2, assuming the ideal light and temperature.  So, two square meters of algae under artificial sunlight, with flowing water in the tank, plenty of nutrients on the water – oh, and plenty of water – will likely scrub the air of excess CO2 and enrich it with O2.  But there's still that pesky problem of power to operate the lights and pumps, and the fact that while algae will enrich the air, this is still a far cry from filtering it, and any biological or radiological contaminants that need to be filtered out lest they kill the inhabitants of the bunker would also kill the algae.  Not to mention what to do with the excess biomass of algae that needs to be skimmed from the tank weekly – add it to the 5 square mile compost farm, probably.  

It should be pointed out at this point that there *are* industrial and systems for not only reducing CO2 and producing breathable air, but also turning algae and yeast into biofuels.  They are called bioreactors, and work at very high densities.  Efficient units are quite large and small units take days to weeks to produce enough fuel to power a vehicle or generator for a few hours.  Finally, the inconvenient truth of renewable fuels is that it takes power to make power (fuel).  Bioreactors require *almost* as much energy as they produce just to operate the lights, fans, pumps, stirrers and cooling systems.  They have been proposed mainly as a way of reducing industrial waste CO2 or to convert grid-supply electricity into portable fuels for cars and trucks.  While such systems have been considered for arcologies, Mars missions and orbital facilities, it is primarily because they can tap into the abundant electrical power produced by the nuclear and next generation solar power plants proposed for those installations. 

(C) So what's this about using a Tesla coil for water filtration?  A Tesla coil?  Seriously?  A TESLA COIL?  No.

[JWR Adds: I believe he was referring to using a Tesla coil to generate ozone, and to use that to purify water. That can work, but the power requirements are considerable. A simple ultraviolet light (like those use by koi pond enthusiasts) works just as well, and uses just a tiny fraction of the electricity. ]

First – where does the power come from to generate the electricity output by the Tesla coil?  The piddly little 5000 watt methane-powered generator wouldn't even power a Tesla coil enough to raise the hair on your forearm even after rubbing it with a cat for an hour.  Tesla coils used for those fancy demonstrations are usually powered by industrial generators providing 50-100 kilowatts of electricity.  Powering that will take a compost heap the size of Rhode Island.

Second, electricity kills living cells.  That's clearly the idea behind using electricity for "filtering" the water.  Unfortunately those algae above are living cells.  Run the electricity through the algae tank and there goes the air supply.  One could argue that the Tesla coil will be "downstream" from the algae tank, and not directly in contact.  Still, the insidious thing about electricity is that it tends to short to ground through water – if there is *any* possible connection – such as through the water pipes, the algae will get electrocuted.  Not to mention the sad end for a person that survives civil collapse and retreats to a hidden bunker only to be electrocuted the first time he reaches for the water tap. 

Third, did I mention that Tesla coils consume *power*?

(C)  Waste treatment.  Recycling and recapturing useful compounds out of liquid and solid waste is an excellent idea.  Set up the filters, composters and separators.  Unfortunately I see no provision for disinfecting the waste.  See, urine and feces do not just decompose on their own without help.  Community wastewater treatment plants ferment semisolid waste using specific bacterial cultures.  Solid wastes *are* compressed and either used as fertilizer or burned for fuel.  However, before either can happen, they must be sterilized.  A considerable amount of the "bulk" of solid human waste is live and dead bacteria.  Of those, the most common danger is e. coli.  Without even getting into the problems of typhus and diphtheria which come from food and water supplies contaminated by human wastes - or salmonella which comes from animal wastes - e. coli is particularly hazardous because it is so common.  The human body has a number of defense mechanisms for dealing with e. coli – at least in the regions where it is most commonly encountered – skin, groin, etc.  But e. coli in the mouth, eyes, ears or nose can cause serious infections that can cause cannot be easily treated, and if untreated can cause death.  As for performing the waste treatment in airtight containers, sorry, but no.  Unlike composting, which is an *anaerobic* process, waste decomposition is an *aerobic* process. The reason for this is precisely because the most hazardous of the waste-borne bacteria thrive in low-oxygen situations.  The reason wastewater treatment plants constantly stir waste in huge tanks is to ensure that the material stays oxygenated to reduce the growth of infectious bacteria.  Better to dig a latrine pit, fill it with lime, and lose out on recycling than to have a waste system that kills the user by virtue of insufficient sanitation.  Again, as with all of the concepts presented here, it can be dome properly, but the proper means involve a sufficiency of power, air, water and space.

(D)  Finally, the author references the "very negative biological effects" of deep underground environments on the human body..  From this it can be assumed that the author is referring to experiments where individuals have lived underground or in sealed environments for extended periods.  Yet, aside from lack of sunlight and exercise, the primary effect of living underground is not necessarily detrimental to humans.  What mainly happens is that in the absence of a defined day-night cycle, the human body makes up its own.  Without a sunlight-induced 24-hr clock, the human body will fall into a natural 26-29 hour day. As long as the subject remains isolated from the outside world, this cycle will continue, remarkably stable, and fully functional, not at all detrimental to health.  However, even a small dose of sunlight each day will set up a conflict between the external and internal clocks.  Insomnia and sleep disruption can occur until the subject is fully immersed in either the outside or inside environment.  Other problems with living underground have been more due to temperature, humidity, molds and air contaminants than merely the fact of being underground.   

To summarize, the concepts presented in this article are not practical.  They are the result of looking at some popular ideas in the press without considering the real world implications, or even carefully working through the biology, chemistry or physics of the problem.  Other "neat ideas" and exercises of the imagination are more appropriate to cartoon or fiction than a serious blog about practical survival.  It is one thing to sit and ponder ideas on the basis of "wouldn't it be interesting if this worked?" and another to consider how likely the idea will result in sickness, malnutrition, disease and death.  None of the idea presented here would even meet the authors first stated intent, to live in seclusion - in secret – with none of the ravening hordes aware of the authors existence.  Each idea would require *space* that a secret hide-away could never afford, *power* that could never be generated, *resources* that would be obviously diverted away from public view and into the hide, and *emissions* of noise, heat and effluent that would certainly call attention to such a secret base. 

Sincerely, Dr. T.R., B.S. (Biology/Chemistry), M.S. (Aquatic Biology), Ph.D. (Physiology/Pharmacology)

Mr. Rawles,
I am not sure if you can help me, however I was not sure who else I might be able to turn to for advice. I have always been a "prepared" type person, that stems from growing up relatively poor and living/working on a cattle ranch in southern Arizona, for a good portion of my life. We had to be prepared, living so far away from town! My wife and I were married almost three years ago, and currently live in southern Idaho. Being quite a few years my junior, eleven to be exact, she grew up with a considerably different lifestyle than I, and in a different era. I have tried to explain the possibilities to her, be it natural or man made, as to why I am storing food, ammo, medical supplies, et cetera. Unfortunately, even with the current events, she seems to think these things can never happen, and it is not worth the time and money spent.

I'm not a kook, or a tinfoil hat type person, just someone trying to provide for my wife and son in a rough future should it come to that. How do I explain that to my wife, or do I continue to secretly store things away when I have the chance? Please, any advice is very welcome and appreciated.

Thank you for listening, Cameron

JWR Replies: I have just one word for your wife: Haiti.

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us this New York Times story:. Here is a quote: "She said a Coast Guard helicopter flew over the United Nations compound and could see that there were people there trapped under building debris. Thousands of residents were seen assembled outside the gates at a government facility in the city, and large groups were also assembled in other streets and public areas. The pilot of her ship’s helicopter reported seeing people working in several areas to dig out survivors. But for the most part, she said, the city appeared to be waiting for rescue and relief efforts to arrive." Mike's Comment: So, I think we can deduce a lesson from that, and Haiti's status as the poorest nation in this hemisphere. Waiting for other people to bootstrap you is not a viable strategy." Meanwhile, we read two bits of confirmation: Haiti Relief: Anger Mounts Among Desperate Haitians Over Supplies Stuck at Airport, and Looters roam Port-au-Prince as earthquake death toll estimate climbs, Hunger and thirst turn to violence in Haiti as planes unable to offload aid supplies fast enough. Oh, and don't miss this letter to a Muskogee newspaper: When disaster comes, men turn into wolves.

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Ready Made Resources has launched an unprecedented 25% off sale on Alpine Aire freeze dried foods, with free shipping on full case lots. Don't miss out, as this is a special "test" sale, approved for just Ready Made Resources by Alpine Aire, and might not be repeated.

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EMB was the first of several readers to send us the link to this amazing video of the Haiti earthquake.

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While on a recent trip to the lowlands of California, I noticed the sign for one of a new chain of hotels: Hotel Sierra. I suspect that this chain was founded by a former military aviator!

"I am fortunate for a wonderful graduate education in the PhD program at Stanford, but I learned more about the way the world works in two months of farming (which saved a wretch like me) than in four years of concentrated study." - Victor Davis Hanson

Friday, January 15, 2010

The aftermath of the recent earthquake in Haiti has underscored the fragility of modern societies. In the event of a major disaster, it doesn't take long for "the thin veneer" of civilization to be peeled back. And please keep in mind that headlines like the following are not exclusive to Third World countries: Gangs Armed With Machetes Loot Port-Au-Prince; Central Business District Resembles Hell On Earth As Bodies Pile Up And Armed Men Battle Over Food, Supplies.
Here is a key quote from another recent news story from Haiti: "Money is worth nothing right now, water is the currency," one foreign aid-worker told Reuters."

Get your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids together folks, and plenty of training to go with them!


Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

For budget preppers, I think the Enfield bolt action rifle is an excellent choice for a main battle rifle. Most of them are British weapons chambered for .303, which is an obsolete caliber. I don't recommend a .303 weapon, but it would be perfectly adequate if you could get ammunition. A better choice is the Ishapore 2A1 rifle. It's a redesigned Lee Enfield SMLE Mk III (one of the best rifles ever issued to an army) but chambered for 7.62x51 (7.62 NATO) and has a 10 or 12 round magazine. (The later production 2A1s have a 12 round magazine. Mine both do). This is a no-nonsense weapon in competent hands and fit for serious business.

A little known feature of the Enfield SMLE family of weapons is the speed sight, which also makes a pretty good night sight. These rifles have a U shaped post or frame around both the rear and front sights. If you paint these posts with white or luminous paint, you can quickly index the rifle in almost complete darkness. The posts are large and easy to see. It works as well as most night sights and it's free.

Other than painting the night posts to increase visibility, I don't suggest modifying this rifle in any way. It's a fine weapon just like it is. One of it's few faults is that mounting a scope is not very easy or neat because it was not designed for that. Most scopes also interfere with the capability to feed from clips. If you want to modify it much and "trick it out", you will probably be happier with a modern rifle. Right out of the box, the SMLE is pretty nice, but it's not easy to improve.

The 2A1 is fairly heavy at roughly 10 pounds loaded with a sling, and it kicks slightly harder than a .303 SMLE (or a M1A for that matter), but it feels and shoots almost the same as the SMLE. Here is why I love it:

  • It fires 7.62 NATO rounds. They are standardized and easy to get. Because it has a gentle bolt action, It will also shoot .308 civilian ammunition with no danger of a slam-fire. Some .308 rounds are reportedly a little hot for a 7.62 NATO rifle, but the tolerances of the Ishapores are pretty generous. I have never heard of an actual case of one being damaged in any way by firing .308 rounds. I routinely fire .308 factory loads and reload the brass. I have never noted any signs of too much pressure or deformed brass from the chamber dimensions.
  • All SMLE load from stripper clips. This is a very powerful feature that was once considered mandatory for a military rifle, but it's mostly a forgotten loading method these days. The original SMLE uses 5 round charger clips, but you can get 10 round (M-14) clips for the nato rounds and they fit the Ishapore perfectly. NcStar .308 stripper clips are available on Amazon, cost 13 dollars for 20 clips and work well in the Ishapore. Once you get used to using clips, the 2A1 reloads very fast and the sustained rate of fire using clips and the Enfield action is excellent. While not as fast as an automatic, it is still pretty good. With practice an average shooter can maintain 20 rounds per minute of accurate fire until the rifle catches fire from the heat. You can shoot twice that fast for a short string. BTW, the speed record for a bolt action rifle is held by the SMLE. Check out this article. It's not made very clear in this article, but the standard was 15 hits in one minute on a 12 inch round target at 200 yards (not 300 yards). Every recruit in 1914 had to be able to do at least that well. The real pros were twice that fast. In competent hands, this is a real killer.
    I have trained with these rifles and I am confident in their ability to hold their own in a gunfight. I can sustain well over 20 rounds per minute and hold every one within a E-silhouette target at 200m with absolute surety (I can't do very much better with an automatic). This may not sound like very good shooting, but you should try it with your choice of weapons. I consider it more than adequate. I carry a 2A1 in preference to my M1A (which is also no slouch). After training with it for a while, the SMLE rifle just feels good to me.
  • 3. It is very accurate. If you take your time and really aim, you can hit about anything you can see using only iron sights. Most of the models I have fired are around 1 MOA right from the arsenal, which is better than I can shoot. The sights are excellent and adjustable out to 800 meters (and that's no lie! It will reach out that far accurately enough to kill someone' in a few rounds if they don't take some serious cover.
  • 4. It's super tolerant of dirty or old ammunition. It always shoots. If you reload, you can load light loads for small game. (Warning: Be careful to use a safe load , as very light cast lead loads can leave a bullet lodged in the bore, which might then cause a virtual detonation if followed up by another shot!). I use a 120 grain cast lead bullet and 5 grains of Unique and the report is about the same as an air rifle. If you don't reload, you can buy a chamber adapter for .32 auto and shoot commercial ammunition with similar results. The 70 grain Speer loads sound like an air rifle and don't destroy small game too badly.
  • 5. It's cheap to own a complete weapon system. You can still get one for around 200 bucks and since you don't have to buy scopes and rings to have a good weapon, there are no hidden costs. Clips are dirt-cheap and can be left loaded for eternity without damage. I suggest a shoulder bag to carry clips of ammunition. This is much cheaper than web gear and maybe more convenient and faster. You can use the money you save to buy more ammunition...you will need it.

So, what's the catch? Here it is, and it's a big one. You have to train with this rifle. It doesn't shoot itself. You have to manually chamber each round and then get back on target. You also have to practice reloading from charger clips to develop any kind of speed. Get some dummy rounds (at least 20 if you are serious) and dry fire it until you can do it in your sleep. Load and fire thousands of times from the standing, kneeling and prone positions. Aim your rifle at a distant target each time you dry fire it and concentrate on marksmanship and speed. Then take it to the range and do it with live rounds. This is no M16 that can be trained using only a couple of hundred live rounds. You will need a thousand at least.

I wouldn't feel under-dressed carrying a 2A1 in a gunfight unless it happens at extreme close range. Even then, it's hard to feel too outgunned carrying a SMLE. It's a very solid, reliable shooting platform that will never let you down. Having used a M16 and variants in the Army, I love the solid, feel of the SMLE. If you are on a budget and can't afford a quality automatic, scope, and lots of magazines, the 2A1 (or even a .303 SMLE or No4 rifle) gives you the ability to buy a complete weapon system for a fifth the price. The 2A1 is (IMHO) a viable choice for a survival MBR. regards, - JIR

Last night I watched Jesse Ventura's "Conspiracy Theory" show which centered around the government's cover up of the coming 2012 scenario. The show featured people converting missile silos to survival bunkers. Historical precedent will quickly point out a glaring problem with this approach.

Consider that relative to the technological level of their day, European castles were more heavily fortified than any bunker being built today (by virtue of the fact that your average monarch of Medieval times had far more resources available than anybody seeking to build a shelter). Still, no castle ever withstood siege indefinitely. No matter how much planning, preparation and defense was put into a stronghold, it was eventually overrun, and in these cases the incentive to do so was a fraction of what it will be in the coming scenarios. Today the ante has been upped; more tech exists to create these bunkers, but the same level of tech exists to break down their defenses and it all comes out in the wash. Bunkers will suffer the same fate that any medieval castle suffered, if people know they exist. Given the social chaos that's going to hit well before the 2012 solar event(s), history will repeat itself. If people know a shelter exists, it's going to become a target when they become desperate enough (which isn't going to be long). Being holed up in one of these places, you just became a resource for every starving person who didn't plan ahead. Hordes will gather in desperation to raid a shelter and retrieve whatever is inside. What's actually inside doesn't matter; what will drive these hordes will be what they think is inside.

The best possible defense is to be invisible. People won't raid what they don't know is there. My own plans are quite meticulous in the area of staying hidden. Nobody in town (a rural Central Georgia town) knows that I even know what a shelter is. The subject is never discussed. Building is done in secret. Rammed Earth construction is used for the shelter itself because I don't have to go out and purchase an inordinate amount of materials which people will be wondering what I did with. What I do need to purchase is broken up among various hardware stores in the metro Atlanta area so that I don't spend too much time or money in any given store.

What about covert power sources? Here is one theoretical approach: Milkweed grows just about anywhere; it grows very quickly and breaks down even faster in salt water. Since salt water is an excellent conductor of electricity, putting current through the water may help the milkweed break down even faster. The goal is to generate methane with the milkweed dissolving in an enclosed container. Methane can run a generator. Organic trash goes into this container as well.

Air filtration has outside air running through several stages of an algae-rich water system; exhaust air goes through the same system. Algae converts CO2 to oxygen quite efficiently. A very high voltage Tesla coil in the filtration water ionizes the water and breaks down impurities; this is applied in a later stage of filtration, after the incoming air has passed through the algae-rich water stage. Further filtering (charcoal, etc.) as a final stage completes the process.

Waste is recycled. Like a septic tank, solid waste is separated from liquid waste. The solid waste is dried (in an enclosed airtight container), pulverized, then burned to help heat the shelter. Handling of liquid waste is still being explored; ammonia and other chemicals need to be extracted but can be bonded with other elements to produce something useful.

Go too deep underground and you get into very negative biological effects on the human body. These are very subtle and gradual to start, but with prolonged, consistent immersion in a deep underground environment, they do intensify.

From the beginning of time, history has shown that unless you have a Mongol horde behind you, you're going to fall if there's any reason to attack you. The Maginot Line was simply marched around and France fell in a few days. The Normandy defenses took a lot of American lives but still fell in a matter of hours. Those attacking you will not be restricted to isolated individuals wandering onto your land. If it's perceived that you have goodies inside (i.e. food), you're going to face mobs and hordes that your little home defenses are not going to compete with. Staying hidden is your only real defense. The government thinks they're going to be safe in their massive bunkers, but they hired countless contractors who helped build the things. These contractors, in desperate times, are going to gather together large assault forces (not difficult to do when everybody is starving) and go after what's inside. My guess is, nearly every government bunker is going to be overrun well before the 2012 event(s) ever occur because social breakdown is going to hit well before that time and the necessity of raiding these shelters will be extreme.

Historical precedent says that you're not going to fight your way through this, no matter what you do. If people know you're there, they're going to come after what you have, in droves. The best option anybody has is to avoid being attacked in the first place. The only way to do this is to remain hidden. - Chris

Dear James Wesley,
The following is a method of obtaining hot water in an off-grid situation. Even more exciting than the 6.5 earthquake this week was our new hot shower! We still have "no" indoor plumbing on our rather recent homestead. Showers in hot weather consist of a hot garden hose. Cold weather requires heating water on the stove and pouring it over ones self while standing on the yurt porch. Or just a spit bath with a washcloth if it's too cold to stand on the porch.

But I have seen what other clever off-grid folks cook up for showers, and so we now have a compost water heater. We built a pile about 8' across and 2.5' deep, then laid a 300' roll of 3/4" poly pipe in the center and piled on more leaves, manure, hay, coffee grounds and household scraps, leaving the ends exposed. Hooked one end up to the garden hose, and the other end to an outdoor shower
stand I bought some years back but never used. We set it up inside the greenhouse so it is private and weather protected.

Presto! After "cooking" for a few days, our water was up to the mid 90 degree range, and 300' makes a decently long shower. By today,I found that it is hot enough to require mixing in some cold water! I have never built a compost pile quite this large before, but most of my big piles have been getting up to 150 - 160 degrees for a week or more, then gradually cooling back down. We expect to get a few
weeks worth of hot showers out of this pile. As it begins to cool down into the low 90s again, I will build another pile adjacent to it and use the second 300' roll of pipe we bought on sale awhile back. By running the pre-warmed water through the second pile, we should have a great supply. Sheer luxury. And free, except for the labor, since all the equipment was purchased months or years ago and for other purposes. And when it is all said and done, I'll still have the compost for the garden. Kinda helps balance out all the gray skies and mud. - Respectfully yours, T. & D. in California

James Wesley,

About 40 years ago I bought a copy of the book ”Dr. Chase’s Third, Last and Complete Receipt Book” printed in 1887 at an estate sale. It was written by Dr. Alvin Wood Chase and published after his death. It is a how-to jewel filled with general information about just about every aspect of Civil War era American life. Food preservation, storage and preparation in a pre-electrical time, along with animal husbandry and general farming and medicine make it a very interesting and potentially helpful read. It can be viewed online at www.archive.org. The site is by Internet Archives. Unfortunately it cannot be copied. I did buy another original [hard copy bok] for backup a few years ago at Amazon for $18. Dr. Chase led an interesting life and was a promoter extraordinaire and his biography can be found online. God Bless and wishing you and yours a Blessed New Year. - Ken S.

JWR Replies: I love those old formulary books, too! But I must add this proviso: Keep in mind that 19th Century safety standards were considerably more relaxed than today's, so old formularies and "farm knowledge" books often do not include any safety warnings. Use common sense around chemicals, flammables, unwarded gears and cutting blades, heavy objects, and so forth. Stay safe!

Tim B. sent this: Dollar Crisis Looms if US Doesn't Curb Debt

And in related news, GG sent us this: US must cut spending to save AAA rating, warns Fitch

GG also sent this one: The Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis, by Nouriel Roubini and Arpitha Bykere

Yet another from GG: A Season Of Discontent: The only alternatives for which majorities express "a lot" of trust to help manage financial risk are close family members (64 percent) and their own efforts (74 percent)

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Rise as Optimism Builds About Earnings

Retails Sales Fall Unexpectedly; Jobless Claims Up

Scariest Chart of the Day

US Has Record December Budget Gap of $91.9 Billion

News from across the Atlantic: Panic buying hits supermarkets as shelves stripped of essentials over snow fears. (Thanks to Chad S. for the link.)

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A SurvivalBlog reader took the initiative and had a small batch of subdued Battle of Bennington flag shoulder patches custom made. This is the same flag used on our OPSEC hats and T-shirts, but in subdued brown and black colors. He told me that he now has just 50 left, that he is now selling right near his cost, at $2.75 each. Contact:: opsecflag@verizon.net to reserve yours!

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Who's running Haiti? No one, say the people

"Take hope from the heart of a man and you make him a beast of prey." - Marie Louise de la Ramée

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Today we present two entries for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. both are on the subject of survival dentistry.

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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

You and your group are sitting around a roaring campfire enjoying the end of a long days hunting. You bite down on some trail mix and suddenly get a shooting pain in your mouth. You’ve just broken your first molar and are four hours from the nearest dentist. Now what? Believe it or not, this happens more often than we would like to believe. In a survival scenario, it may be days or weeks or never that you get to a dentist. So, what do you do? 

The most important thing to do is to prepare for a dental emergency, just like you have prepared for food, electricity, shelter and self-defense. Prevention is the key to avoiding these situations.   What does that mean? We have heard it since we were kids, “Brush twice a day, floss, and see your dentist twice a year.” Routine visits to the dentist can often times prevent those emergencies from happening. Often times those small cavities can be taken care of before they get out of control requiring crowns, root canals or extractions.

Brushing and flossing regularly make the difference. When under stress the body will tend to develop inflammation more easily, including gingivitis, an inflammation of the gum tissue. So, when prepping for the worst-case scenario, be sure you have multiple toothbrushes and plenty of floss. In a pinch, you can use your finger or a washcloth to wipe the teeth clean.  Even a twig can be used to stimulate the gums and clean the teeth.

So, what should you pack in your medical kit for dental emergencies? Here are some basics that need to be included:

  1. Dental floss- also good for tying things down in a pinch.
  2. Dental wax- can be melted down and used to make a candle if needed. Should be a soft type of wax.
  3. Some type of Temporary filling material such as Cavit
  4. Temporary dental cement such as Den-temp for re-cementing crowns.
  5. Cotton pellets for use with;
  6. Oil of cloves, which is a substitute for Eugenol
  7. A set of dental tweezers
  8. Tight fitting latex or vinyl gloves. The mouth carries more bacteria than any place in the body.

What causes a toothache and what should you do about it? A toothache is the result of injury to the nerve of the tooth. This can be the result of trauma or a deep cavity. If the nerve becomes infected, it can result in an abscess, which is an infection of the bone around the tooth that can be extremely painful. Often times an abscess can cause swelling around the tooth. The infection can spread to other parts of the head and neck resulting in difficulty swallowing and even in the ability to breath.  This type of infection, if left untreated, can eventually cause an infection of the blood, which can lead to death. Don’t mess around with it.

How do we treat this on our own? First, figure out which tooth is causing the problem. Be sure the area in the tooth  is cleaned out.  Take a cotton pellet and soak it in Oil of Cloves, and place it in the cavity. Be sure you don’t get it on the soft tissue because it can burn.  Other products you can use include Dent’s Toothache Drops, Orajel and Red Cross Toothache Medicine. When you have the cotton in place, cover it up with some Cavit or other temporary dental filling.

For pain, I highly recommend using 400mg of Ibuprofen taken with 800 mg of Tylenol at the same time, every 4-6 hours. If that doesn’t do the trick then a narcotic such as Codeine or Vicodin can be taken every 4-6 hours. Be sure to take these with food. If infection is present, an antibiotic should be taken for 5-7 days. Under no circumstances should you place aspirin on or next to the tooth. It can cause serious burns to the gum tissue.

What about treating gum inflammation, commonly known as gingivitis? This is usually the result of poor oral hygiene. Proper brushing and flossing can prevent it. If pain and bleeding are taking place, increasing your brushing and flossing can often help.  Be sure that you are getting enough Vitamin C in your diet, a deficiency can also have a negative impact on the gums. A side note on gum inflammation: Studies have shown that people with bleeding gums have a substantially higher incidence of heart attack and stroke.

So, you bite into a nice leg of venison and break off a filling, what now? If you have access to a dentist, get to them as soon as possible. If that is not possible, you can use a small amount of temporary filling material such as Cavit to fill the hole. Be sure to bite down on the material while it is soft so it will not interfere with your bite after it hardens. In a pinch you can use some soft dental wax to fill the cavity.

Crowns (caps), inlays and onlays can come out when you eat sticky foods such as caramels or taffy. If the tooth isn’t sensitive, save the restoration and take it to a dentist as soon as you can. If that is not possible, or the tooth is sensitive, it may be necessary to try and re-cement the crown temporarily. To do this, clean out any material on the inside of the restoration.  Mix a thin layer of temporary dental cement such as Den-temp and place it inside the restoration.  Carefully align the restoration with your tooth and gently bite it down all the way to place. Since the crown is only in temporarily, be very careful about chewing on it, so that you don’t jar it lose and swallow it. See a dentist as soon as possible.

What happens to a tooth if you fall or get hit in the mouth? Usually this can result in injury to the upper front teeth. The teeth can be knocked out of position, either forward or backward. They can be loose or hanging out of their sockets. Or they can be knocked out completely. If possible, see a dentist immediately. If this isn’t possible, the tooth can gently be repositioned to line up with the other teeth. Be aware that this process can be extremely painful.  Biting on a piece of gauze gently can help hold it in position.  Get to a dentist as soon as you can so that the tooth can be splinted to other teeth. 
A tooth that has been completely knocked out is known as an avulsion.  The first 30 minutes of a knocked out tooth are the most important. If treated correctly, the tooth can often be saved. If the tooth can be replaced in the socket within the first 30 minutes, there is a good chance that the body will accept it. After about 30 minutes the body will treat it as a foreign object and reject the tooth. 
Once the tooth has been found, pick it up by the crown, not the root and gently clean it off using sterile water or milk.  Use gauze to stop any bleeding from the socket in the mouth.  Gently place the tooth back in the socket and using steady pressure, push it back into place.  Have the person use gentle biting pressure on some gauze and get to a dentist ASAP to have the tooth stabilized. If for some reason the tooth can’t be immediately placed back in the mouth, place it in a container of Hank’s solution, designed specifically for this situation. If this is unavailable, use a container of sterile saline or milk and get the person to the dentist immediately.

As with any other type of prepping, preparation for dental emergencies is extremely important and needs to be well planned out. The nice thing about preparing for a dental emergency is that it is not very expensive to do. See your dentist regularly, brush and floss, and Keep Smiling.

There seems to be a lot of talk among the survivalist community regarding dental care and particularly dental extractions.  I am a practicing dentist at an urgent care facility and have addressed thousands of patients in varying situations that have had abscessed teeth that require extraction, and have subsequently extracted thousands of teeth.  I would like to provide some insight on dental care and in particular on the subject of tooth extraction and the materials required to perform a successful extraction without complicating the existing dental problem.  Also note that many medical problems particularly those relating to bleeding, stress, blood pressure, etc will additionally complicate things.

First, I will point out the obvious due to a nagging sense of professional obligation.  Prevention is the best medicine.  Topical application of fluoride is critical to preventing a cavity that may put you in a bad situation.  Brushing your teeth with an abrasive (toothpaste or otherwise) that does not contain fluoride will be of marginal benefit, however, the real bulk of the cavity prevention will be significantly diminished.  If your retreat location is supplied by a natural water source (spring, pond, well, etc) it might be prudent to have it tested for fluoride content.  If your water is high in fluoride then you could utilize it as a topical mouth rinse (i.e. hold it on your teeth, the longer the better) .  If not consider stockpiling fluoride containing toothpaste or mouth rinse.  I know this is stretching it a bit, but flossing: would it really kill you?  The natural reduction in the amount of refined sugar that you consume will also benefit you.

Now that that is out of the way, here is a list of the things I would consider necessary for taking out a tooth.

  1. Anesthetic-  Obviously this is not “necessary” but will make the experience must more enjoyable for all parties involved.  Lidocaine and septocaine are both common local anesthetics and sufficient for all dental work.  Septocaine is my preference because it comes in 4% formulations that just plain work better.  Upper anesthetic is applied to both the check and palate side of the tooth in question.  For the lower numbing is much more difficult.  Anesthetic must be applied high in the jaw bone.  As a general rule, have the patient open as wide as possible and you should see a fold on the cheeks posterior to the teeth.  Put the needle just anterior to that fold and aim toward the TMJ.  Injecting adjacent to the tooth is also helpful but will not be sufficient for complete anesthesia.  Assuming you have access and intend to stockpile these things (a syringe, needles, and anesthetic) I would recommend reviewing and perhaps printing for your survival library the following web pages (not mine, just nice pictures): http://www.fice.com/course/FDE0010/c12/p01.htm  http://www.fice.com/course/FDE0010/c12/p02.htm
  2. Dental mirror- being able to see is good.
  3. Bite block- This is just a piece of rubber that is designed to prop the person’s mouth open.  It will come in especially handy if you don’t have anesthetic.
  4. Straight elevators- One with a small tip (2mm-3mm wide), one with a medium tip (3mm - 4.5mm wide)
  5. Extraction forceps- #150 – Universal upper, #151 Universal lower, #23 Cowhorn

One additional thing you could do to potentially make your life easier.  Have every member of your retreat group obtain a copy of their latest panoramic x-ray from their dentist.  This is the big x-ray they take that images all of your teeth and the jaw bones.  In particular take note of any upper teeth that have roots that approximate the sinuses, any teeth with extra or curved roots, or any teeth with bulbous roots.  Don’t worry too much about keeping these records up to date.  What you are concerned with is the root structure of the teeth which doesn’t change over time.

With these basic tools you should have the equipment required to extract almost any tooth. 

Dental Assessment
When one of your retreat members presents with a dental problem first evaluate your situation.  Teeth with large cavities, cracked, or broken teeth will likely require extraction.  If you try to put off extracting a tooth because it “just isn’t that bad yet” it will likely be abscessed and be exponentially worse (with or without anesthetic) when you actually do get the tooth extracted.  As much as you won’t want to do it at the time, act early.  When a tooth starts to hurt and no dental care is available, take care of it before it gets infected and threatens your life rather than just your tooth. 

If, however, you miss the early action window and are presented with an abscessed tooth (and here be abscessed I am referring to draining puss/visibly swollen) consider a course of antibiotics or making a small incision into the swelling to allow the infection to drain before attempting tooth extraction.  Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t because there is an increased risk of infection (the chance of infection is 100% it’s already infected).  The real reason is twofold.  First, it will be a lot less painful to have the tooth extracted.  Second, if the patient is more comfortable it will make it easier for the operator to get the tooth out.

Once you’ve decided there is a problem (whether you are early or late) the first step is to decide which tooth is the problem.  Sometimes it will be obvious to the patient via pain when pressure is applied to a particular tooth.  Sometimes it is obvious to the operator via swelling or a small “blister” on the gums beside the tooth.  However if it is not obvious, the most convenient way to decide which tooth is the problem will be to apply cold to each tooth individually.  A tooth that is dying or dead will either give intense pain which lingers for ten or more seconds or will have no feeling at all.  Whatever the result of this test is, compare to known healthy teeth to verify your result is indeed abnormal.

Extraction Procedure
When you are ready to begin tooth extraction, get your tools ready by sterilizing them (in this scenario boiling may be the best you can do).  Always clean your mirror, elevators, bite block, and the forceps required for the particular tooth in question (for upper teeth you will be utilizing the 150 forcep only, for lower teeth that are incisors, canines, or bicuspids you will be using the 151 forcep only, for lower molars you will be using either the 151 or 23 forcep). 

All teeth extractions will begin the same way.  Prop the patient’s mouth open.  Insert the small straight elevator between the tooth and the gum in the space between the tooth to be taken out and the tooth in front of it.  While applying firm downward pressure, slowly turn the elevator and begin to move the tooth to be removed.  Do not use excessive force at any point.  When you can get no additional movement switch to the medium elevator and repeat.  The key to easy tooth extractions is getting them loose before you grab them with the elevator.  Be careful not to put pressure on other adjacent teeth, your elevator should leverage the tooth to be removed against the bone.  If the tooth does not loosen at any point you may consider peeling the gum tissue back on the cheek/lip side a bit and chipping away some of the bone on that side only (the small straight elevator can double as a half decent chisel).  When the tooth in question has a little movement to it you are ready for the forcep.

For removing an upper tooth: Use the 150 forcep and place it as far down the tooth as possible (well above the gum).  Slowly wiggle the tooth back and forth while putting pressure downwards (toward the bone).  Every few wiggles choke the forcep up on the tooth.  The tooth should be really moving at this point.  Rotate it towards the cheeks/lips with firm pressure and remove it. 

For removing a lower incisor, canine, or bicuspid: Use the 151 forcep and use the same technique described for upper teeth. In addition to the rocking motion described above you can also typically (meaning as long as these teeth have no extra roots) rotate these (twist rather than rock) to remove them more easily and less traumatically.

For a lower molar:  Examine the x-ray.  If the molar has two separate roots the 23 forcep would be appropriate.  If the roots of the tooth are fused together then use the 151 and follow the instructions for removing an upper tooth and disregard what follows.  Note that the vast majority of the time there will be 2 separate roots.  Place the points of the forcep in the middle of the tooth as far below the gums as you can get them.  The attempt is to get the points right into the area where the tooth roots separate.  Once you believe the forceps are in place, lightly squeeze the handles together while moving the forcep up and down.  If it doesn’t slip it is probably in the right place.  Next, continue light pressure on the handles together and move the forcep in a figure 8 [motion].  As you move it, you should naturally feel that every so often, the handles will close slightly.  This will slowly lift the tooth up.  Continue this motion until it feels like the handles are closed together, then rotate the forceps toward the cheek (twist) and remove the tooth.  If you have difficulty with the 23 try the 151 and follow the directions for removing an upper tooth.  Having said that, the denser bone in the mandible will be harder to chisel away, and slower to loosen the tooth.  Take your time and don’t break it.

Always examine the extracted tooth!!  Make sure the tooth looks like it does on the x-ray and that none of the roots broke and/or are missing.

Only one thing remains, what if it breaks?
First, don’t feel bad, you are in good company.  Even if you do everything right, you still have a decent chance at breaking the tooth.  If you act early and it’s a small portion that broke you may choose to leave it and see if it heals.  If the tooth is really abscessed when you act, the broken piece will perpetuate infection if not removed.  In order to remove a residual root, some bone may need to be removed.  If this is attempted it should be done from the cheek/lip side only.  Often a forcep (150 or 151) can be used to grab the bone adjacent to the root on either side crush it, grab the root, and remove it.  This is a difficult technique, but if it’s that or dealing with infection, give it a shot.

Post op
After 24-48 hours rinse with warm salt water a few times per day.  Don’t spit, smoke, or perform any serious chores or exercise for several days.

Note that in most jurisdictions it is illegal to do any of these things to another person unless you are a licensed dentist, but in TEOTWAWKI that probably won’t matter to you.

"N" mentioned this excellent YouTube video: "Concept U.S.K." - Surviving Urban Disaster

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The latest from the White House: President Obama Signs Executive Order Establishing Council of Governors; Executive Order will Strengthen Further Partnership Between the Federal and State and Local Governments to Better Protect Our Nation. Hmmm... In Beltway speak "partnership" or "cooperation" often mean "control." This could considerably degrade our 10 Amendment protections!

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Veteran economic and preparedness commentator Howard J. Ruff warns: Things We've Forgotten. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

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Attention Oklahomans! Tibbs’ law makes it illegal to ‘fortify’ a private home

"Survival begins not with guns, gold, and a garden. It starts with self-reliance, strong family and communal bonds, a plan of subterfuge, and clandestine acts centered in the refusal to be subdued. You can’t have it all so you had better spend the scarce time, energy and resources you have left to prepare." - Tim Case

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

Having spent a lot of years on military planning staffs, I can't help war-gaming scenarios. In short (as you know well) Course of Action (COA) development is a big part of Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) and is a fairly reliable way of looking at possibilities and choosing likely sequels, given scenarios. In effect, a way of war-gaming out the future. There are a number of horror scenarios that seem to me to be fairly probable and they keep going around and around in my head as I try to sequence them and assign probabilities to each one. I am haunted by the possible future, an occupational hazard for a professional planner. I sincerely hope our civilization outlives me because it's failure could be truly horrible.

I agree completely with you on relocation to safer areas and stocking a remote retreat in the hinter-boonies. That's the optimum solution and in worst case situations, it's really the only solution likely to work long term. Any of your readers stuck in less than optimum situations are going to make a valiant effort to survive, but their odds are not as good. I am one of these folks. I worry about the golden hoard more than anything else. I would like to pass on some thoughts on the subject of what the unwashed masses will be doing after TEOTWAWKI. I am only guessing, but my guesses are made using history as a template. If anyone disagrees with my analysis, I would love to hear about it.

What about those totally unprepared? What are they going to do? There are many survival strategies open to the unwashed masses other than sitting down and starving to death. We all need to compare our own plans with these other strategies because I guarantee some of these strategies will be used by the teeming masses. When the power grid drops and the food shipments end, the average citizen is going to get a huge shot of reality. Guessing what they are going to do WTSHTF is central to all other survival planning, especially in the Eastern US or Europe.

I am talking here about a total collapse situation, not a slow slide decline or regional disruption. You can pick your own favorite cause from an EMP event to a finance system failure. They all cause roughly the same sequence of events. The results of any catastrophic collapse could easily be worse than any fiction you have ever read. The worst case scenarios all result in disruption of services and quick spiral into anarchy, but leave most of the population alive and hungry. This is the stuff of nightmares.

To recap our unprecedented bad situation: The vast majority of people live in urban or suburban areas near large population centers. They are poorly prepared for any emergency and completely unable to live self sufficiently. The food production systems that currently supply their food are fragile and subject to catastrophic failure. Most people's very lives depend on a fragile triad made up of the transportation network, power grid and finance system. All three of these systems depend on the other two and they are all three unbelievably fragile. (There are many dependencies, but I see these as the three key points of failure.)

Most people currently live shoulder to shoulder in unthinkable crowding. Once the triad of services breaks down, the vast majority of people will suddenly be living on a very limited amount of capital in the form of the tiny amount of consumables on hand in each city. Once the Evian is gone and the toilets don't work, they will have no way to get drinking water or even dispose of their own sewage. They are literally less than a week away from serious acute hunger.

This situation will not get better unless the government is able to restore critical systems very quickly. The odds of restoring order get worse the longer the crisis lasts as the teeming masses start migrating and civil order disintegrates. Assuming the government fails, the countryside cannot feed the population of the USA without modern fuel, finance, power and distribution systems in place. Using 19th century techniques (where that is possible), the farmland in the USA cannot begin to feed everyone. (Europe has the same problem). In short, people are living where there will be no resources and farmland (and farmers) will be overtaxed just to support locals. We don't have the capital goods (horses, tack, hand plows, tools, seeds etc ) or skills to go back to old farming methods quickly. The math points to a die-off larger than anything recorded in history. Did I miss any main points?

People are not going to starve to death quietly. They never do unless there is a government to enforce it. Every last one of them is going to try something to survive or even just hang on one more day. Humans are survivors. They are intelligent, ruthless and deadly omnivores. We use the terms "sheeple", or "Joe Six-pack" pretty flippantly, but even the most stupid human is very dangerous and many of the "sheeple" are not stupid or incompetent. They are, in fact, the most dangerous predators on earth. You are much better off surrounded by hungry tigers than hungry humans. On the other hand, these are real people that used to be your neighbors, mothers, fathers, daughters. When you look them in the face it's going to be very hard to pull a trigger.

This is not an all inclusive list. People are going to try all of these concurrently. I expect to see a general sequence of strategy choices, but it's not iron clad. While you would expect it much later in the crisis, you might run into a professional army on day one! The interplay of each strategy with the others is also hard to predict. People are going to try other things too (That I haven't thought of). Local variables will effect how each strategy plays out and what events are likely to occur. The interplay of all these activities is where my analysis breaks down in complexity. You have to evaluate them with local variables, so generalizations can only go so far. I believe people will try all of these strategies. Some of them will work, but most of them will fail. There are only so many resources.

1. Begging/bartering. This is probably the first strategy you will encounter. Begging will go on until the very end. This strategy is open to everyone. It will work better for weak individuals, but ultimately, charity is going to dry up as resources get tighter. The vast majority of people who depend solely on begging will ultimately starve to death. (Unfortunately, most people will beg, barter, steal and kill, in that order. Even a single mother may cut your throat to save her children.)

PLANNING NOTE: In a total meltdown, the numbers will crush you if you let them. You have stored a finite amount of food, but there is an almost infinite number of beggars out there. Can you turn away a family with children who only want a bite to eat? You better think this out carefully and steel yourself for whatever you decide to do. If you give too many of your supplies away you will starve. If you turn everyone away, you may feel really bad. Think about it. How are your wife and kids going to react to begging? Watching a die-off is going to be tragic.

a. Bartering services. This could be prostitution or offering to act as security guard. This is actually a viable strategy for anyone with end-of-the-world useful skills. Find someone (or preferably a community) with food and sell yourself. If you have military training and equipment or specific skills, this could work. I don't expect all the doctors to starve.

b. Bartering goods. Rich people may try to buy basic supplies at scalper's prices. You might get a great deal on a Rolex or Mercedes.

2. Stealing/looting. This is a no-brainer once law enforcement breaks down. Even while there is some order, people are going to steal anything they can get their hands on, even at the risk of being hurt or killed. If we drop into anarchy, expect crowds of hungry people or "professional rioters" to sweep the city streets. As the public-access shops and warehouses begin to empty, crowds may move into residential areas for a while, but I don't expect this to last long. Big crowds will probably disband completely when resources become more scarce or they have to travel further to get to them. A warehouse of food or shopping center near the inner city may support this behavior, but a suburban neighborhood 10 miles away won't. Residential areas within cities may be in serious peril. The closer you are to densely populated areas and/or poor areas, the more peril you face. Once the big flash-crowds disappear or people start to forage in the suburbs,
small groups will splinter off and begin raiding (see item #5 below).

There will also be a lot of solitary (or small groups) burglars and sneak-thieves. If you keep chickens in your yard, watch your neighbors closely. If you plan to go to work and leave your house empty, it may be looted while you are away. Gasoline tanks without locks will be prime targets for night visitors. Suburban gardens are prime targets. This applies to slow-slide declines too.

Beggars can turn into looters quickly if nobody is watching. If nobody answers a door, they may try to break a window. The suburbs may be swamped with beggar/looters. As they get more desperate, looters will get bolder and more dangerous. The further out of town you live the safer you will be from this group. Of course, the more isolated you are, the more vulnerable you are to raiders.

3. Some people will sit tight and wait for things to somehow return to normal. Most people who have food and other resources will try to live on them and wait it out. If they stay in small family groups, they will be easy prey for mobs or raiders. Still, I expect most urbanites will do this until they are almost out of resources...then they will join the beggars and looters. This group will grow smaller every day and swell the numbers of looters.

4. Banding. Almost all people will band together for mutual protection and support. How well this works depends on many factors, but ultimately the only safety anywhere will be provided by numbers. Single survivors will get swallowed up quickly.

a. Banding by family unit. This is the basic family group and will be the the first and most common grouping. These groups are small in size but very cohesive. Most families will quickly band with other families into larger groups. The ones who don't will be easy prey.

b. Banding by geography. Neighborhoods will try to form bands for mutual protection. Neighborhoods will try to do this, but historically, this is often not very effective, especially if the distance between neighbors is large. Sharing of resources within neighborhood bands is spotty and as individuals run low, they tend to leave. Rural neighborhood watches are doomed by small numbers, and urban neighborhood watches are doomed from having too many people.

Populations of small towns will band together to put up road-blocks and keep from being overwhelmed. This is the only way most small communities will be able to survive, even if they are capable of supporting themselves by farming. Unless they band effectively and very quickly, they are doomed to be overrun by refugees or raiders. Even the communities who quickly band together may get soft hearted and let in too many people to support. I think pitiful refugees are more dangerous than raiders. It's a rare American who can watch genuine suffering and not try to help. This is especially dangerous if it looks as though the situation could improve and things go back to normal. If there is hope of getting help from outside the community, most people are inclined to save as many others as possible. I feel that this issue will doom many small communities.

PLANNING CONSIDERATION: If your plans include banding with a farming community, you must take steps immediately to close off the flow of refugees into the area. Convincing others to take steps this drastic will be hard or even impossible, especially early in a crisis. Closing your community and isolating it may very well be impossible. If it is, you are at the mercy of fate and geography. You had better have a plan-b.

c. Banding by profession. Cops, medical workers, emergency workers, soldiers, and perhaps factory workers may band with co-workers. You will especially see this behavior with professional military groups. Beware of military installations in a total breakdown! You have a lot of very young, very scared and highly trained young men with no families there. It might get very dangerous to be near a military town if the government totally disappears. (In a slow slide disaster or regional disaster Army Towns are perhaps the safest places to be, but once the chain of command disappears, watch out.)

d. Banding by religion. This is perhaps the easiest, most effective band to join, since the churches already congregate groups of like-minded people within a small area. Religious bands will probably be the basis for "small community group banding" and are usually the strongest bands possible to form on short notice. All the church groups in an area or a town will likely band together and put on the mantle of "local government". I anticipate local churches forming the backbone of most local governments. They will be equipped with arm bands and represent "legitimate" government when they come to loot your supplies. Joining one of these bands will be a good survival strategy for many people, but in a total collapse, they are very likely to keep as many people alive as possible until they run out of resources and then starve together. Expect to see local polities formed from church groups going to war as resources get scarce. They will go
after both looters and hoarders. Fascism in America will probably arrive carrying a cross.

e. Banding by racial or ethnic group. You will see racially or ethnically pure groups in some regions. This could be very important factor in places like Los Angeles or New York almost immediately and may take precedence over geography or religion. It's an ugly thought, but being the wrong color may be a death sentence some places. (Ironically, I don't expect any serious racial tension in the deep South.)

f. Banding by gang or club affiliation. Not only urban gangs and bikers, but also gun-clubs, country clubs, and survival groups fall into this category. Some clubs will obviously not band effectively in an emergency (like a yacht club for instance), but you can bet the Aryan Brotherhood will cleave together like real brothers. Your survival group, can form a strong group if you have like minds and have clear plans for how to band, where to meet etc.

(PLANNING NOTE: Unfortunately, you are very unlikely to be able to form a survival group large enough to defend yourselves. You may have more success joining your survival group with a local church group or community group or some other band to increase your numbers. The only way you will be able to do that is to store enough food. Plan this out carefully. How big is your optimum band size and how will you feed everyone? Remember, you can use the same tactics other groups will use....like confiscation of warehouses, if your numbers are large enough and you are quick enough. But, If your ultimate size gets too large it will become unwieldy and impossible to control or feed. This is a conundrum you need to give some thought to now.)

Consider this topic well because your group belief system will vary depending on how you form the group and who you let in. A church group will have to use different tactics than a biker club or a neighborhood watch. This will limit or shape your options and set the tone of everything you do. No church group is going to seriously consider cannibalism, for instance.

5. Raiding/Banditry. Raider bands are going to spring up everywhere. Some will start as low level looters and graduate into larger scale violence. Some, however will start out as systematic raiders. There are some very bad perpetrators out there and there will be even more once the prisons empty. In the short term, violence will be very lucrative.

Raiders will take casualties over time. They will also replenish their numbers somewhat, but fortunately these are mostly anti-social types and may have trouble integrating new members. The further you are from them at the start, the safer you will be, but they can hit you anywhere, anytime. I don't see a good solution for this other than sheer numbers or good OPSEC. They won't attack an obviously hard target. and of course, they can't attack what they don't know about. They have to win to stay in business, so they won't attack unless they feel they can win. Distance will spread out the number of groups and allow other survivors to thin their numbers in numerous gun battles. True raiders may not last long, but they are going to be a real problem in the short term.

I expect raiding to take two main forms. The roadside ambush and the home invasion. Home invasions are always dangerous and often brutal. If the raiders attack your home, they will try to take you by surprise and kill every combatant in the house before anyone can react. They will force every more at a very fast pace to prevent you from reacting. They may use some kind of distraction or disguise to gain surprise. Home invasion, carried out with professionalism and gusto is fairly
safe and easier than you would think. Expect to see some of them wearing body armor, dressed in police uniforms and carrying
badges. (Some of them will have professional entry training...like SWAT and military). Failing at a stack entry, they may use CS gas to drive out the occupants. Failing that, they will use fire.

Waylaying travelers on the roads is very easy and safe. Cars are just too vulnerable to gunfire. The roads outside small communities could be very dangerous to travel.

Don't ever underestimate the vile depravity of human beings. Anarchy is the dirtiest word in the English language. Rape and torture may be common. I believe as food gets harder to find, many people will turn to cannibalism to sustain themselves. (I wish this were not true, but historically, it's very common.) I am not advocating cannibalism in any way, but In all fairness, cannibalism can greatly extend a group's supply base. There are a whole lot of people out there and people are made of meat. While easy targets are available, some groups may prosper for some months eating human flesh. It could be a fairly successful strategy for some groups. Beware. History of other collapses warns us that this may be common.

A longer term problem you should watch for is what I call "part time raiders". Historically, most raids have been conducted by young men in one community raiding a nearby community. This phenomenon won't happen overnight in most places but it will probably happen eventually unless somebody forms a central authority within a year or two.

6. Extortion. Outlaw bands will give way to professional armies in some places. Possibly with a core of military trained personnel, a hundred or more killers traveling together can extort more than smaller groups can steal. These groups will get larger as time goes by but they are doomed unless they can take over someone else s farmland and extort "taxes". You may see groups like this move in to agricultural areas and set up shadow governments, taxing all the farmers nearby...or selling protection. Anyone who doesn't play ball will be burned out. Expect them to use classic tactics like assassination, kidnapping, and terrorism to cow the locals. Local governments are going to probably hire many thugs and enforcers too. Telling the good guys from the bad guys might get difficult. Anyone trying to take your food is probably a bad guy, but it might be worth your while to pay him off.

7. Hiding. Some people are going to try to hide from the die-off.
Hiding inside a city or suburbs (in my opinion) is not going to work. People are going to systematically search every building for food. You could conceivably scare off or outfight wave after wave of looters and finally be looted by a local government or burned out by a large gang or rioters. The fact that you are living there will be impossible to hide when they try to search your building, If you are there, you will eventually have to fight or surrender your supplies. Hiding in the suburbs is just not possible and staying in an apartment building (even if you band with the other occupants for mutual protection) will eventually get you killed.

Hiding in a rural area is possible, just because of the distances involved. The number of hungry mouths will be less in the country, but local citizens are still going to confiscate your "Hoarded" food if they need it. Your best hiding place is in an area that will be defended by well-fed people. (but if you have a well-fed community defending you, you should really help them defend it, don't you think?)

The second best hiding place is a wilderness area with no roads or natural resources that someone will want. A wilderness hide site takes a lot of skills to pull off. Also, it is not sustainable without some planning and a lot of discipline. Essentially, this is hunkering down in a remote place and eating supplies you brought with you while you wait patiently for the teeming masses to die off. Living quietly in the wilderness, mostly underground is a hard way to live, especially in bad weather, but it could be your best chance to miss the die-off if you are healthy and have a solid set of outdoor tactical skills.

8. Bug out (presumably to a safe place).
This is going to be very popular, even for people who have no place to go. Once the power is off and the sewage starts backing up, the cities are going to start losing people. The exodus may begin immediately or be delayed several days (depending on the scenario). Either way, the refugees will generally try to leave in family groups. They will mostly follow interstates, highways, state roads, and farm roads, in that order. Nobody (almost nobody) is going to just start walking in a random direction and go cross country. They will drive until they have to walk and try to re-supply along the way.

While there is order, the roads may be jammed with cars leaving the cities going nowhere. In practice, almost everyone is going to be driving out of the city with a definite destination in mind. Some relative, some small town they know of, etc. Most of these destinations are going to be just as bad as the ones they just left, but these will be desperate people. Many of them are going to seriously overestimate their vehicle range. (Traffic jams eat a lot of fuel, probably more than most people will plan for).

Most of those thousands of cars on the interstate are going to run out of gasoline in a matter of hours and wherever they finally run out, that's where the occupants are going to start walking. Of course most of them are going to pull off the highways and interstates just before they run out and mob every town along the highway. (This is a historic fact, proven by every hurricane evacuation we have ever attempted). I expect people to turn very nasty when they run out of fuel. When they cannot buy fuel or food, the towns along America's highways will be filled with armed, hungry desperate people who may kill for a gallon of gas or a drink of water. Sound like fantasy? Don't bet on it. It's happened even during regional crisis with help on the way. In a general meltdown, I expect lots of violence in small towns and strip communities along highways and especially interstates.

There may be long columns of desperate refugees walking the interstates, but I don't foresee this. Most people will congregate in towns along the route. It's difficult to predict what desperate people will do without knowing local variables. If there is a hopeful destination within perceived walking distance, I would expect a lot of foot traffic. Of course, there will be a large number of breakdowns, but probably no mass migrations on foot unless they are being chased by something like a fire or chemical spill etc.

PLANNING NOTE: If you wait too long to G.O.O.D. you won't make it. I believe G.O.O.D. movement of any kind is going to be very dangerous. Moving vehicles are just too vulnerable, and there are going to be a lot of desperate, armed people stranded on the roads. This specifically includes law enforcement. They are not going to let you drive by with a load of gas cans in the back when their patrol car is sitting empty. Get out early or don't try it.

9. Going on with your life and ignoring the crisis.
I think this will be a very popular early response. Some people will still try to make it to work, just like they always have. Until the crisis really gets bad, you will probably see shopkeepers, lawyers, bankers etc trying to commute to work. I really hope the police and firemen do this for as long as possible--and garbage collectors and power workers too! In fact, this is probably our best defense against a general melt-down. If everyone would stay calm and keep trying to make the system work, our society could survive almost anything. (I am betting on the exact opposite).

10. LaMOE (LAst Man On Earth) of the wilderness.
Some people will grab their outdoors gear and head for the woods planning to live out of a rucksack and forage or hunt for their food. I include fishermen in this category. I expect the wilderness areas to be absolutely stiff with "sportsmen" who are going to try to camp their way out of trouble. Maybe not, but I have heard a lot of people talk about it. This is a losing proposition, but that's not obvious to everyone.

PLANNING CONSIDERATION: If you attempt to hide in a wilderness location, you are going to have to avoid these knuckleheads. Choose your hide site well.

11. Throw yourself on the mercy of the government.
Another VERY popular option. America has become the land of the entitlement. This generation seems to believe the government is there to take care of them from cradle to grave. I expect lots of folks to gather around anything even remotely resembling government. This will only last while government offices are open, but it might allow formation of groups or bands that will later loot and burn the city.

12. Go nuts and start burning everything in sight. It's happened before and will probably happen again. For some reason, arson seems to be some kind of release mechanism for unstable personalities. These folks are yet another reason to avoid urban areas. They won't last long, but they can cause a lot of damage in the short term.

13. Something else. This is only a partial list of all the possible strategies people will use. If you can think of something, expect someone to try it. Look at your local variables and think about it.

Tricky, but in general terms, I expect urbanites to hang onto their city as long as supplies hold out and then attempt a bug-out. Some, of course, are going to bug out almost immediately. Some will never bug out.

Most people are going to sit tight until they get hungry and then either attempt a bug-out or try to barter/beg/or loot food.
Looters will start looting as soon as they can get away with it. Their numbers will be fairly small in the beginning, but will grow as more people get hungry. They will continue until there is nothing to loot...then they will have to change strategies. The next strategy up the scale is raiding.

Most people will never make that transition to violence, but I estimate up to 5% of the total population will easily make that transition and another 10% are capable of doing it if they have more time to get used to the idea (and get hungry). These numbers are not really supportable historically, but I feel that they are very close to reality...just personal opinion. If I am right, that means even a city of 100,000 people could produce 5,000 potential murderers in a few days. That's a lot of bad guys.

Raiders, bandits and bad guys are going to prey on the weak until somebody establishes order or they run out of easy targets. This order will probably be in the form of locally formed polities (local governments and committees, neighborhood watches, and church groups.) Once we reestablish real order, most remaining raiders are going to try to change strategies. Some of them may join your church.

Unfortunately, the horrible die-off will encompass multiple years. It won't end until local communities reach equilibrium and produce as much food as they consume. That could easily take more than two years. (The first harvest after a major crisis is going to be a disappointing time for some communities.) Some of the starving polities (probably after the first harvest) may choose war over starvation and attack neighbors. Sounds really grim, but I call em like I see em.

Livestock mortality the first two years is going to be astronomical. People are going to have to literally allow other humans to die while they feed livestock. Also, they are going to be very valuable commodities and prone to theft.

Wildlife and fish mortality will also be very high. Everybody who sees a deer will attempt to kill it. After a year or two, I expect deer, bear and wild hogs to be nearly extinct in the Eastern US. Small game will also suffer huge losses to poaching and so will fish.

I live in a nice suburban neighborhood of a small town within 45 minutes of a large urban area. The area surrounding us is a poor rural agricultural area in Southern Georgia. My town is near a secondary line of drift from Savannah. Not the worst place to live, but not good either. In a slow slide scenario, I will stay in place, participate in the neighborhood watch and go to work every day. I even have plans to set up a soup kitchen, field bakery and water purification plant at a local church if needed. My plan is to make myself valuable to the community. If things get really bad, I have the ability to arm up to 6 others. I have enough spare stored food, equipment and weapons to do this and still be postured for plan-B.

Plan-B. In the event of a TEOTWAWKI I intend to use several options. I intend to Bug out with a truck-load of supplies to a pre-selected wilderness area (within 15 minute ride of home), establish a hide site and wait out the carnage. (I have about seven months supplies for my family plus a couple of caches with extra food and weapons nearby for a total of roughly nine months of rough living. I believe our odds of remaining unnoticed for six or more months are very good while maintaining a fairly high standard of living. (Living this close to Savannah, this is the best plan I could come up with).

Why hide out? first, I have the skills, equipment and a good area. But mostly, I know myself. Having seen real hunger in Africa and the Balkans, I don't believe I have the emotional hardness to watch people suffer and die without joining them by trying to help. Hiding out and missing the die-off will be hard, but watching it happen (for me) is just impossible. I can't watch.

When things cool down, I will scout the area and attempt to barter my skills to local farmers or whoever is in power. (I have acquired quite a few barterable skills over the years). So, if I show up at your retreat door six months after a collapse looking for work: don't shoot! It's just me! - JIR

Mr . Rawles,
I'm a bit confused. There are no so many editions of your books out there--hard copy, e-books, and audio books, and now I hear that there is a British Edition of "How to Survive TEOTWAWKI". Can you please for me clarify exactly what the book options are, and your recommendations on the least expensive places to buy them? Are there autographed copies for sale? How many copies of each are in print? And what are you writing next? Thanks, - James Y., a Ten Cent Challenger

JWR Replies: Sure, here is a thumbnail list:


"Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" (the latest edition, with index and glossary), from Ulysses Press. Not counting the earlier editions, there are now more than 52,000 copies in print.

There is also a Kindle e-book edition of the novel.

And there is an unabridged audiobook of the novel, narrated by Dick Hill. It is available through iTunes and Audible.com (as a MP3 download) or on CD from many booksellers, such as Amazon.com.

I'm presently writing two sequels to the novel, set contemporaneously to the storyline of "Patriots", but in different locales. Simon and Schuster plans to sequentially release the two sequels in 2011 and 2012.

I also wrote "Pulling Through", a feature length survivalist action/adventure movie screenplay that is very loosely based on "Patriots". The full screenplay text is available for free download. It is also available as a wire-o bound print-on demand book from CafePress.


"How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It", from Penguin Books, New York. There are now more than 60,000 copies in print.

The UK edition of the same book with a slightly different cover (but essentially the same text) was recently released by Penguin Books of England.

There is also a Kindle e-book edition.

And there is an unabridged audiobook, narrated by Dick Hill. It is available through iTunes and Audible.com (as an MP3 download) or on CD from many booksellers, such as Amazon.com.

A Spanish translation should soon be in development by Paidotribo S.L. of Barcelona, Spain. This should be released in early 2011.

"Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" is my book with details on selecting and stocking a self-sufficient survival retreat. It is published by CafePress.com. Less than 3,000 copies are in print.

I co-authored the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, published by Arbogast Publishing. The course binder includes an hour-long audio CD with questions and answers on preparedness and suggestions on how to get family members and friends interested in preparedness.

Autographed Books:

Because of the time constraints of my writing and consulting schedule, I no longer do book tours or sell autographed copies of any of my books. However, at last report, Fred's M14 Stocks still has a few autographed copies of the older XLibris publishing edition of "Patriots" available. The very few autographed copies of my more recent books that are in circulation were gifts, or mailed out as prizes for SurvivalBlog's non-fiction writing contest.

To Save Money:

The best way to save money when buying any of my books is to look for used copies at places like Amazon .com. But my preference is that you enquire at your local independent bookseller first. (Please do a search through Indie Bound.) Local bookstores deserve your patronage!

Global Warming Update: Snow hits southern Spain as big freeze sweeps Europe

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Brett G. forwarded this: U.S. agrees to timetable for UN Gun ban

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Tom Baugh, the author of the book "Starving The Monkeys" posted a review of my novel "Patriots" from an interesting perspective. In my defense, I can say: Yes, most of my friends (upon whom the main characters in the novel were based) were quite successful right out of college. And yes, all but one of us intentionally delayed having kids for several years after getting married. I was 31 when my first child was born.

"For the record, every program the government put in place in 2009 has failed. Yet, we keep doing the same thing, at a cost of literally trillions of dollars. This is madness to the nth power." - Editor of The Investor's Business Daily, December, 2009

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

I live in the suburbs of our nation’s capitol and of course I want to keep myself and family safe, so I have taken steps to mitigate and eliminate the dangers of my area. My challenge for a while was getting my new bride on-board with my preparations. She thought my supplies, guns and gear were “weird” and she chalked it up to my military experience and largely ignored it. If anyone else has a similar problem getting buy-in on prepping from their partners they may find this useful, it sure works better than arguing.

As Mr. Miyagi said in the Karate Kid 2 “Best way to block a punch is not be there.” Your advice to move and live in a rural setting is sound, but not practical for many people, so I do have the next best thing in a retreat on some family owned land. It is occupied by some older and retired family, so my preparations there both include and are guarded by them. I make a point to drive there and back by as many different routes as I can divine from a map reconnaissance that do not include the interstate highways. It takes more time, but it keeps us familiar with the routes and we notice any changes (Like a bridge that was getting rather rickety) that may influence our route choice if we need to G.O.O.D. She thought this was a weird way to travel, but I convinced her to go along with promises of new scenery, hidden treasures (Like a wonderful greasy spoon off the beaten track) and a more relaxed setting. I taught her how to read a military grid map and use a compass for “fun” demonstrating my old and valuable military skills. After she had been on all the routes though, she wanted to do the interstate to save time, but I knew traffic in our area is some of the worst in the country and decided to take advantage. On a holiday weekend, prime time we set out to follow the herd. It went exactly as I expected; a normal disaster. There was bumper to bumper stop and go traffic for hours. I let her drive this time and when the frustration set in, I threw in a “what if” scenario at her where a disaster had even more people trying to flee. There have been events in recent memory where people abandon their cars on the road and take flight on foot –however ill prepared they are to do so. She saw what I meant and recognized the value of both her new map reading skills and knowledge of the back roads. My back routes are no magic bullet, the Interstate was still faster, but the images I put in her head made her a bit less skeptical about my “weird” travel routines.

I visit there often, and take interest in the workings of the semi-retired farm. My wife loves it there, but thinks it strange I care so much about taking care of the place, like the time I was on-hand to help retrofit the windmill to make electricity once the water tower was full, or why we keep the grain silos in good shape even without a lot of livestock. We have a garden there, but a small one for now since my family isn’t really up to tending a large one. There are a few chickens and goats which are almost pets at this point but can certainly be put to real use if need be. The pond is stocked with fish and the woods give us a steady supply of firewood and game (But we don’t hunt much –yet.) A few weekends of sleeping in the quiet of the country and waking up to farm fresh eggs, bacon and sausage from a neighboring farm and fresh bread coming from the “weird” grain mill has her more excited about eating there than at the fancy restaurants around DC. We cook stews and barbeque outdoors, drink fresh water from the spring and pick though the garden for fresh vegetables. She learned some “weird” skills about canning and drying foods for storage from my aunt. Once we were married, I even let her into the secret back barn room that holds a family relic, which let’s just say has produced good cheer for over a hundred years. The “weird” country life became a vacation for her. I would like to live there full-time, but with the relic only producing good cheer and not cash like it used to (Too risky now!) I keep my city job.

She works in a government office building and a few times they have been locked down for potential outside threats –seems to be a normal disaster lately. Every time has luckily turned out to be nothing but it has put the thought of terrorism in the front of her mind. I pointed out to her a real emergency could last more than a day and the office vending machines wouldn’t keep everyone sustained for long. She then agreed to store some food and water –but nothing else I suggested in her office. After her office was issued and trained on some cheap disposable gas masks and she saw people making light of the flimsy things she realized the masks and extra filters I had in my office, car and home were not so “weird”. Sure enough she finally took the “prep” bags and all of their goodies I had made for her to her car and office.

One summer we got hit with a string of bad thunderstorms which had an uncanny ability to knock out our power for hours. This normal disaster gave me the chance to show her my generator and solar powered gear was not so “weird”. My generator kept the fridge/freezer cold, the sump pump going, the air conditioner cooling and even our computer & internet connection going. My travel solar setup kept our cell phones & “weird” 2 way radios charged as well as ran a radio to bring us news and entertainment. It rained so hard and so much the check valve on our sewer was forced to close, eliminating our ability to use the plumbing for a few hours. It didn’t last long enough to bother us, but my portable toilet and old army sanitation manual about latrines were no longer “weird”.

That same summer we were attending a barbeque at a neighbor’s when another normal disaster struck; my neighbor’s one propane tank went empty. She thought my overstock of these was “weird” until that day when I casually plucked one from my storage and loaned it to the neighbor –with still plenty to use for my own house.

Last fall some friends of ours walked in on a burglar robbing their home. The man had grabbed a kitchen knife and threatened them as he made his escape out the back door. Luckily our friends were not hurt, and my friends were suddenly asking me questions about home defense. I have an alarm system, two watch dogs, a safe for my guns and valuables and a concealed carry permit for the pistol I always have on me. My wife was already on board with the alarm system, just thought I was “weird” for training watch dogs, disliked my insistence she lock up her good jewelry in the safe and didn’t care for me carrying a gun much –until my friends had their encounter with crime. I bought her a pistol, taught her how to use it and sent her to a class to get her own permit. She now goes with me to the range and I have also taught her how to shoot my AR-15, Benelli M4, Benelli Super Black Eagle and Remington 700. She now knows at least how to shoot to defend herself and maybe get a meal. She came to her own realization that guns were like women’s shoes –different ones are required for every occasion. So our arsenal here and at our retreat isn’t “weird” anymore.

The first hard freeze of winter made another normal disaster when a water main in our area broke and the utility advised everyone boil their water for a day before drinking it. My “weird” supply of bottled water suddenly came in handy. I told my wife that my “weird” water filter, rain buckets, five gallon pails with lids and sturdy cart could all be used to supply us with safe and clean water from rain, pools and nearby stream if things lasted longer than our bottled water.

This winter afforded another teaching moment when we got sucker punched with 28” of snow. (That’s a lot for here). I drove her by the big box store and grocery stores, and pointed out the throngs of people scrambling to lay in supplies they should have already had. One store was out of milk, another was rationing eggs to be “fair”. Again I planted the seed of what would be happening in a real emergency. My “weird” hunker down supplies of food and other goods became less strange.

We were well prepared with quality snow shovels, ice scrapers and multiple 50 lb. bags of salt to dig out. I also have a “weird” large supply of firewood and kerosene heaters stored in the attic. She actually remarked about how secure she felt knowing we wouldn’t freeze even if the power went out for longer than my “weird” generator and fuel would last. For fun once we had dug out I took her to some home improvement stores and pointed out the empty shelves where these items had been a day before, and the desperate people searching for goods that simply were not there. She commented how everything in our area got “picked over” because of the large population here, so suddenly the seasonal shortages of Halloween Candy and Christmas decorations took on a more sinister quality for her.

These “normal disasters” as I like to call them serve as warnings and training opportunities I think she has finally gotten the message, and now she makes some choices that surprise me, like a large supply of feminine hygiene products that has showed up here and at the retreat. She was a fan of the famous money advisor, Dave Ramsey, before prepping and has correctly drawn corollaries from his advice –“Live like no-one else so you can live like no-one else.” 

Ed B. mentioned this: Obama TSA Nominee Erroll Southers Calls Pro-Life Advocates Terrorists in Videos. (And tars survivalists with the same broad brush.) Ed's comment: "Apparently Christians and Pro-life advocates are more dangerous than Al Qaeda. Oh and then he throws in the survivalist angle too. So if you're prepared, you’re a danger."

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Julie flagged this: Sun may soon send magnetic storms toward Earth

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Our friend Bill Buppert recommended this article Protect Your Family.

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Simon in England mentioned that Survivors - Series 2 will premiere on BBC1 tonight (Tuesday, January 12th, at 9 PM GMT.

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way." - Mark Twain

Monday, January 11, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

Most of the SurvivalBlog.com articles focus on the "how tos" of living in or preparing for survival situations. We all understand these needs. However, there has been much less discussion on preparedness for death and dying. I have worked in the medical profession since 1975. I have worked with people in various stages of death and dying in hospitals, hospices, operating rooms, clinics and accident sites. While most of us are doing as much as possible to prepare and stay alive in bad situations we know that our options may be greatly limited in future scenarios. Death and dying are two examples. Initially, I thought that this subject would be too abstract or "soft" in comparison other "how to" articles. However, after some consideration it seems that I was wrong.

Death, dying and bereavement make take very different forms in future scenarios. Our society generally requires a fairly orderly approach to these issues. Much of this process is sanitized in the form of body management and dying locations.. Aside from accidents, civilians usually die in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes or their own residences. We have witnessed many recent natural disasters that displaced thousands. Many of those died in strange or makeshift environments. Families and friends often find closure at a planned funeral. Some have the benefit of resolving bereavement issue with clergy or counselors. How do you suppose that will change in TEOTWAWKI? Many of those services will either be nonexistent or deferred to the most skilled family member. You might be that "go-to" person. The sanitized funerals of today will look very different tomorrow. Death and dying will become a more visible. This is was the case in Europe during the Great Plague in England in the 1600s.

This country has gone through years of pandemic planning in corporate and government sectors. I have been on some of the planning committees at those levels for pandemic preparedness. Government plans for the dead and dying in a full blown pandemic are very real and very ready. Large institutions (i.e. prisons) have purchased or at least budgeted for body bags and other burial supplies for on site mass graves. I never saw these details made public so I can only assume that smarter people didn't want to scare the general public. Although these are largely public health and institutional security issues the same should apply to personal preparedness.

Consider a medication issue: while many may be able to manage various acute medical problems it is unlikely that any will be able to manufacture medications required to sustain life for the long haul. Simply put, a lot of us won't last very long in a TEOTWAWKI or even a protracted natural disaster- regardless of preparedness because our we are living due to modern medications. How long would a fragile insulin dependent diabetic live without insulin? When we look at supply lines we find that much of our generic medications come from foreign nations. Major foreign producers already have major quality control issue with medication production. supply shortages will only worsen any product.

Because of restricted budgets many foreign countries already lack access to medications commonly found in America. Those countries may well be the ultimate survivors, in terms of medication need, as many have already developed and adapted in the absence of modern medicine and limited national budgets. A trip to China, India or any Eastern European nation will demonstrate the point. Could it be that modern medicine has actually placed us behind the curve by making us more dependent on technology? Let's consider practical alternatives.

For starters, take a quick self/family inventory. What will happen to you when your medications are gone? Which of your family members requires meds for diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure, cancer, chronic pain,mental illness or chronic infections? Who requires dialysis, oxygen or is bed ridden? Start by talking with your medical provider. Ask for help to prioritize your meds. This is commonly done in clinics because of cost concerns so the question should not seem odd. What would happen if you had to reduce your dose or ran out completely? Your provider should be able to give you planning options. Ask about alternatives for cheaper or more readily available medications. Pharmacists are also excellent resources for these questions. What are your options when the local pharmacy closes? Many now order drugs on line from out of country. Medication planning could help to avoid death in a scenario of limited duration, i.e. natural disaster. The same concerns apply to those dependent on medical devices and related equipment: ventilators, pumps, oxygen, braces and wheelchairs. Many avoid this aspect of preparedness planning as the details can be overwhelming. Despite our best efforts, many will die quickly or painfully because of the lack of medications and medical devices. There are options.

If your health is fine then you are good to go, right? Wrong! What about your spouse, child, friend or pet? The ultimate part of preparedness includes an understanding of death and dying. Although faith is obviously a cornerstone to this discussion it is not the entire story. It is not enough to simply put your loved one in a back room until God decides the time. I have been with many people of faith during their dying time. Responses are varied. Often, the relatives of the dying require just as much care.

Aside from your own discussions with your maker, there are some other practical considerations to a death and dying scenario.

  • Develop an understanding of how your religion or belief system values death and dying.
  • Help those in your community who struggle with health problems, aging, chronic disease or sudden loss. Shovel a neighbor's snow or mow a yard. This will frame your mind for understanding community effort as well as just doing the right thing.
  • Volunteer as a nursing home/hospice visitor. Learn to see dying up close. Make yourself available. Listen to the dying person.
  • Help your neighbor when they lose a member. Take a meal to a friend. Help your sick farm/ranch neighbor with their cattle or crops. Get used to exercising your "volunteer" muscle.
  • If your community is culturally diverse then you will need to at least be aware or cultural requirements for dying/death rituals.
  • At the risk of getting yourself committed, consider talking with your family members about death and dying for the purpose of stimulating their own planning. You have to be careful with this one as many professionals see this as a sign of suicidal intent. This discussion definitely takes planning! Some "loving" members will only be interested in getting your guns and gold after your demise so don't be too surprised. Some will consider you just plain crazy. You might just decide to skip this one.
  • Survival community members may have different ideas about cares for the dead and dying. Planning will help to minimize fights and will develop cohesiveness.
  • Reevaluate your bug out plans. Do you have a contingency plan for a relative who suddenly dies or cannot be transported because of injury or illness? Would you leave that person or pet to die alone? Do you need to add supplies to your BOB for that dying person?
  • Even if not eating or drinking, dying folks continue to require oral and other personal hygiene cares. Helping people to die with dignity often includes helping another with bathing, shaving, dressing, toiletry,, and cleaning up after they drool their food.
  • A bed ridden person requires attention to range of motion and turning. A dying person can develop unnecessary pain and bed sores if these cares are avoided.
  • Address acute and chronic pain as best as possible. Current management of cancer and other end of life pain includes appropriate uses of various medications. Future scenarios would limit access to what is now more readily available. Research your options.
  • Stock a bedpan/urinal. Be prepared to change bedding when needed. Learn to change bed linens with someone in the bed.
  • If at all possible, don't let loved ones die alone. Move beyond your personal fear of death.
  • If death is imminent (particularly in a field situation) ask if there are any special requests. It might be a prayer or last rites. Family members are often greatly comforted by simply knowing that a last request, especially a religious request, was granted. Don't be afraid to say a blessing or prayer over a dead body.
  • Communicate your desires (e.g. CPR) to family and friends. Does your aging grandmother expect you to perform CPR and break all of her ribs when she has the Big One? Again, be careful with this one per the preceding discussion least you get locked up. You can do this in a more acceptable manner if you refer to this as "advance directives". Have a written will. It might be as simple as dividing bullets and beans. It will help to avoid bickering will help to keep the family unit together.
  • Be prepared to deal with a dead body in the absence of a funeral home. Other articles have already addressed this. If possible, be sensitive to cultural codes of body management. Is your retreat space planned for this?
  • State laws require that most deaths be either investigated or reported to the appropriate agency. These especially include infants, accidents,and unexpected deaths (medically unattended).Just be aware of your legal obligations under current laws.
  • Include death and dying books in your library. Also include basic nursing texts that cover care of the dying. Medical texts often omit this chapter as most doctors aren't the ones who provide actual bedside care.
  • Research the role of humor in dying and chronic illness. This could be a very useful and established skill for your tool box.This skill is not overlooked in cancer and pain management centers.
  • Don't be afraid to tell family member, on a regular basis, that you love them. Remember 9-11? Any of those people would have given everything to have been able to have said just those words.
  • Read John Donne's Meditation XVII ("No man is an island"). Donne was an English poet and preacher in the 1600s. Death was then rampant and very visible because of the Great Plague. He describes, from a Christian perspective, man's mortality and how the death of one person affects an entire community.We may well find ourselves returning to that scenario.
  • Never assume that a dying person cannot hear. I have witnessed many folks bad mouthing their comatose relative only to see them walking the hospital hallway the following day- and the still dying person remembered every word!
  • Learn to be a good listener.

For some of us, our ultimate value will be appreciated by how we both lived and died. Dying members of any group will threaten to drain limited resources. However, their death, if handled properly, may ultimately strengthen their community.

I'm coming up to speed by working my way through your blog archives (which are amazing, BTW), and have come to realize that while I know how to shoot, my skills are marginal. I've concluded that I'm what the firearms trainers call "consciously incompetent." My wife and I plan to go do the Appleseed training, and then once that is under my belt, I plan to go to Front Sight. (I've read that you can buy "gray" Front Sight "first-timer" course certificates for cheap, on eBay.) After that, my wife and I can train our kids.

Here is my question: At what age should I start to teach my kids how to shoot? As background, they are mature for their age (they go to a parochial school and they both have good dexterity. They excel at Wii and foosball.) Our son is just 11, and our daughter is 13. Is that too young? Thanks, - Rob and Linda

JWR Replies: In my experience, children as young as eight years old can be taught to shoot safely and accurately. By the time they each reached 12 years of age, my kids had put thousands of rounds through a Chipmunk single-shot .22 rifle. Chipmunks are dimensioned specifically for young shooters. Our Chipmunk is an early production one, circa 1990. They are now made by Rogue Rifle Company. My kids have now mostly transitioned to a Ruger 10/22 with a shortened stock. (I bought a spare birch stock at a gun show for just this purpose, for less than $10.) Shortening it took just five minutes with a crosscut saw, some sand paper, and a coat of linseed oil on the butt--and it was good to go.

To illustrate what a a pre-teenager can accomplish, watch this YouTube video of an 11 year-old girl named McKenzie shooting an autopistol in an intermediate class originally intended for adults. And here is the same young lady showing her expertise at field stripping and re-assembling an AR carbine. Do not underestimate what your children can learn and accomplish!

Good day Mr. Rawles,
I love to read your blog and recently noticed a few articles about the "After Armageddon" program on your blog, but I have not seen it yet. Last night I did see a show, also on the History Channel, called "Apocalypse Man". I usually enjoy a new book or television show along this subject line; even though most prevailing theories are fairly similar, it's nice to compare details. "What's in your bag?" "Mine is bigger!" "Oh yeah, how many rounds do you have?" and so on. However, the show last night was a little off the beaten path. By that I mean to say are the people that produced the show clueless?

T hey have this "professional" apocalypse survival guy running around like a ninja with his head cut off. He tells us the audience that the first thing we should do is to head to the city because there will be food there. Then we should head to the hospital, after siphoning a gallon of diesel fuel, to get this huge generator started for power for a few hours. The show goes on like a bad Bruce Willis movie. It includes jumping across an open draw bridge and jumping into a dark elevator shaft for safety. My personal favorite is when he siphons the diesel fuel with a bicycle tire pump and then uses the same pump to siphon water for drinking. I love the taste of diesel in the morning. Tastes like ignorance.

Alright, I apologize for ranting and being negative. I am generally a fairly happy guy. This television show reinforces my belief that it is becoming more and more popular to be prepared for the end of the world. We need a secret handshake. This trend is in my view very entertaining, but for all the wrong reasons. It will cost "Joe Armchair Quarterback" and his family their lives if this is their only source of information. I am not going to write the producers or stage a picket line protest or anything like that. In fact, I love the fact that this show is on television because the idea of thousands of people heading downtown to the hospital WTSHTF will make my route a lot less crowded. If you haven't seen it or don't watch television, believe me, this one is worth a giggle or two. Best wishes in 2010. - Cozy in Western North Carolina

There's a fairly thorough pulling apart of the ["Apocalypse Man"] show on the Zombie survival group on LiveJournal.

Here is my take on it:
I am not impressed. The mistakes made by the host in the first show:

1. He takes needless risks (A drawbridge over a river was up. Rather than finding another means to cross, he jury-rigged a grappling hook and swung across. There were several other incidents.)
2. He wastes resources. (Rather than using a small bit of steel wool to start a fire, he used a huge lump of it. He also wasted food.)
3. After emphasizing keeping a low profile to avoid people, he then broadcast over the CB emergency channel his travel plans and left it broadcasting on the frequency using a tape recorder. This not only
compromised his security, it also steps on any other broadcasts on that channel.

I also question his choice to move into the city. I would rather try to make it in a rural area rather than an urban one. But, there were some good scrounging tips. - Tim C (Reposted with permission from a forum hosted by SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson)

Storing meat long term has been a problem for me for several reasons, but I think I have a pretty good solution. I recently started canning it myself. I bought a 25-quart pressure canner and a few dozen jars just as an experiment and tried it a few months ago and was amazed at how easy it is. Canning is not that much more trouble than freezing (assuming you re-cut and re-wrap meat before you freeze it). I still freeze steaks and fish, but I pretty much can everything else, from left-over turkey to hamburger meat.

You can cook up about 20 pounds of stew meat or hamburger at a time, can it, and then use it for a variety of things throughout the month. The effort required is not as much as I feared and the quality of the product is excellent. For making stews, soup, or basically anything of that sort, it's indistinguishable from fresh meat and much more convenient. Almost every recipe you prepare starts with "brown the meat". Your canned meat is already past that stage, so you can skip that step. I find myself grabbing a jar in preference to frozen meat just for the convenience.

It takes about 3 hours per "run" with my pressure canner, but most of this is spent reading or watching television or something. I start with the least expensive lean meat I can find, already cut into stew by the butcher, so my prep time is roughly 30 minutes. By the time the canner is up to the boiling point and ready to close, I have pre-cooked the beef and stuffed it into jars. Then, I wait 90 minutes, turn off the canner and wait another 20 minutes for it to cool and remove the jars. I find that I can do 2 runs after work in the evening while I am relaxing and by bed time, I have about 40 jars of meat sitting in my pantry. Since I can twice a month and use less than a jar a day, my stocks are building up quickly.

Canning saves freezer space and the meat doesn't end up freezer burned in a month. In fact, I just opened a four month old jar of stew-beef and I didn't notice any change in quality yet. I assume a year shelf life is about the most I can expect, but with rotation, that could allow me to store a year supply of meat with little trouble.

I first started with pint jars, but found that they are too large for me. I switched to 12 oz jars which were still a little big, and finally settled on 8 oz jelly jars as the optimum size for me. Figure about 4-8oz of meat per meal per person. Canned meat has already cooked down so you use less than you would if it's fresh. . A pint jar should be about right to cook a meal for 4 people.

The price of home canned meat is roughly half the price of store bought product once you own the jars. (All jars cost a little under a dollar each in my area). The lids are maybe 10 cents each. I can't vouch for shelf life yet, but the quality is at least as good. It's a great feeling to see rows and rows of tasty and wholesome canned meat in the pantry.

BTW, I have also started storing my beans, lentils and other legumes in quart mason jars. Each one holds about 1.5 pounds. Just fill them up and drop in an oxygen absorber and you are done. - JIR

Don't Think That it Can't Happen Here Department: Chavez devalues currency by 50%. (Thanks to Damon for the link.)

Eric. C. mentioned the latest piece by Dan Denninger: A "Macro Level" Look At The Economy

The Economist makes a Bubble Warning: Markets are too dependent on unsustainable government stimulus. Something’s got to give. (A tip of the hat to GG fro the link.)

KAF sent this: China Overtakes Germany as World's Biggest Exporter. But wait! You should also read this: Contrarian Investor Sees Economic Crash in China. (Thanks to Rick V. and Darryl C. for sending the latter link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Are You Ready for a Stock Market Crash of 2010?

Fed Statements Clear Any Doubt of Gold Hitting $1,700

United States Debt Ridden Road to Perdition

Contracts Down: Is US Housing Heading for Double Dip?

California Requests $8 Billion in Federal Aid

Dane S. suggested a handy winter preparedness page, over at LifeHacker.

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Garnet spotted this: Heavy snow halts planes, trains and cars in Europe. I hope that folks there have their fuel, gear, and food squared away!

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The latest from Nanny State Britannia: Myleene Klass warned by police after scaring off intruders with kitchen knife.To quote the article "The youths approached the kitchen window, before attempting to break into her garden shed, prompting Miss Klass to wave a kitchen knife to scare them away." "When they [the police] arrived at her house they informed her that she should not have used a knife to scare off the youths because carrying an "offensive weapon" – even in her own home – was illegal." (Thanks to GG and Ferd for the link.)

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NRA News: UN Doomsday Treaty With Ginny Simon. (Thanks to Word for the link.) Beware: International treaties could usher in "back door" gun legislation!

"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." - Aldous Huxley

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

I’ve been reading SurvivalBlog for almost a year.  I am thankful for the advice that I receive each day.  I have had a “be prepared” attitude for about 30 years, although the past two years have thrown several speed bumps and roadblocks my way.  Two years ago my son and his family were in a life threatening accident.  I spent almost every penny I had saved toward retirement to help my daughter-in-law recover.  This year I fought for and won custody of three of my grandchildren from my daughter.  So now, instead of planning for TEOTWAWKI for just myself, a 50 something divorced woman, I now am the proud “parent” of three elementary aged children.  Even with these changes to my situation, I am still actively preparing.  I wanted to share what I am doing with your readers, so that those who are still in the thinking stages rather than the action stage can see that it’s not too hard to begin. 

Years ago I decided to create a written plan.  I started with my basic premises.  First, I assume that I will live where I’m at forever.  I live 10 miles from a city of 100,000 and 15 miles from a city of 500,000.  While it’s really close to a lot of people, it’s not in the direction that the masses of people would head toward.  I have five acres with a good house, a good well, a great climate for growing food and lots of storage.  With that in mind I need to set up the house and yard to fully sustain me and now the three grandkids.  I also need to make some changes along the property boundary to make it less welcoming.

Second, I assume that when I retire from my government job that my pension income will exist.  That doesn’t mean that it won’t be reduced, I expect the government to steal some of my pension.  (Most people just think that we are given money but I put in 20% of my income into this pension fund) I also expect to receive some social security benefits and plan to start collecting my money as soon as I hit the minimum age.  Barring any additional family disasters, I also plan on having cash on hand.  I am working hard to cut my expenses to almost nothing.  That way I can retire sooner and live prepared rather than being in a state of getting prepared. 

Third, I assume that the weather patterns may fluctuate as they have throughout time, but I will not buy into any of the global warming and cooling as something that we can truly prevent.  If the environmentalists wanted us to change our habits and become more energy efficient, I wish they would have just come out with that statement.  Or, they should say that we can alter our microclimate (planting trees lowers the temperature around our homes, paving roads and parking lots raises the temperature in the city, lakes add to the humidity) rather than trying to scare people into believing that we are destroying the world. 

Fourth, I will practice, as I know that when you practice, the act becomes second nature. Times of trouble is not when you should be learning new things.    

Fifth, I do not panic.  Part of this is because I practice.  Part is because I do not allow myself to be influenced by the news story crisis of the day.  I behave very level headed and am rational.  I know that my attitude and my actions will influence those around me to be either calm or crazy.  I vote for calm.

Sixth, I trust God.  I know that God expects me to take care of myself…or at least to prepare myself to take care of myself.  I can not say I don’t need to be educated, or prepared, or dedicated because God will provide.  I am expected to work hard.  God will take care of me if I try to take care of myself.

The first thing I did in my quest for independence was to determine what I really needed.  The stuff.  I also figured I probably have 30 more years to live, although I hope I’m blessed with much more.  Now I have three more people in the house.  How would I figure how much I need?  I decided to keep track of what I did and what I used.  I started by going through my entire house, room by room, and making an inventory of everything. 

Let’s start with household items.  There are items that can last forever: dishes, glasses, pots, pans, furniture.  There are items that are used up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.  Well, how much do you need for the next 30 years?  I started keeping track of what I was using.  Keeping track of exactly how much food purchased, how much toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo, etc. was used in a year gave me a very good idea of what I would need for 10 or 20 or even 30 years.  Then I just started buying extra.  It was simple.  Every time I went to Costco I’d buy an extra laundry detergent, bleach, dish soap, 409, Simple Green, vinegar, etc.  I probably have a 10 year supply on hand without any pain at all. 

I don’t have a basement but I do have a huge garage.  It holds my truck, tractor, freezer, tools, and what seems like miles of floor to ceiling shelves.  It looks like a mini Wal-Mart.  Now that I have the grandchildren, I have devoted space for bins of clothing.  The bins include the basics in every size: jeans, t-shirts (long and short sleeve), sweatshirts, jackets, socks, underwear, hats, gloves, and shoes.  I also sew and have fabric, thread, and am well stocked with sewing supplies. I keep it very organized.  I witness my friends buying things that they know they have somewhere in their homes but they are so disorganized they have no clue what they have or where to find it. 

I’m not going to discuss weapons to any real extent.  This topic is definitely best left to someone who knows what they are talking about.  I really get into this topic on this blog so as to learn more.  I do have a .22 pistol, a .22 rifle, and a 12 gauge shotgun.  The last thing I shot was a rooster who was roaming my yard and continuously tried attacking me.  I know I should have more protection and I also need to involve the children in gun use.  Maybe this summer we will all go to gun camp and then set up a practice target in the back yard. 

Change your diet! Stop eating instant boxed stuff.  If nothing else, you will save lots of money.  Learn to cook.  Learn to bake.  You can buy a pound of yeast at Costco or Sam’s for the same price as three small packages of yeast at the grocery store.  I love the 5 minute bread recipe.  6 cups flour, 3 cups warm water, 1 ½ tablespoon yeast, 1 ½ tablespoon chunky salt (kosher, sea, etc.).  Mix it together with a spoon. Let it rise an hour.  Put some flour onto the counter and pour the dough onto the flour.  (At this point I like to add Italian seasoning to half the dough) Shape into individual rolls or two round loaves.  Bake 350 for 15 minutes.  Noodles are another one of our favorites.  Flour, egg yolk, water, salt. Mix and roll out.  Cut into whatever shape you want.  We use the pizza cutter and make crazy shapes.  Boil for about 10 minutes. 

My garden is my hobby but also something that I’ve set up to feed myself, the grandkids, and my animals.  Since moving to my property 12 years ago I’ve planted fruit trees and plants with most of my spare money.  I have oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kumquats, apples, avocados, cherries, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, apricots, kiwi, figs, olives, loquats, mulberry, blackberries, raspberries, almonds, asparagus, and probably some others that I’ve forgotten.  I’ve been canning for 30 years now.  If I can’t can it or freeze it we eat fruit and vegetables in season or we don’t eat them.  The only fruit or vegetables I buy are bananas, pineapple, and mushrooms.  I have lots of gardening tools, at least one for each of us so we can all work together: shovels, rakes, hoes, hoses, irrigation parts.  I also have seeds on hand.  It is crazy to spend the money on the latest fad of “non-hybrid seeds in a container for only $150.” Sure, it will grow you a garden, but is it what you like to eat?  Will those varieties do well in your area?  Go to your local nursery and pick up seeds of vegetables you eat.  Have a garden like mine.  Each year I let some of the beets go to seed in the beet section of my garden, I smash a pumpkin on the ground in the pumpkin section, I let broccoli go to seed, etc.  I don’t have to replant the entire garden each year.  The stuff just comes back.  I do replant the corn, eggplant, and peppers.  I do save seed each year to make sure I have a several year supply of all my vegetable seeds.

We have sheep and goats for meat and chickens for eggs.  Although they are easy to raise, I don’t raise rabbits or hogs due to religious dietary restrictions.  I don’t have enough property for a steer because I don’t want to have to rely on buying hay.  I don’t milk the goats because I don’t have time.  I do buy beef and chicken from the store but know that at any time those purchases can stop and we can provide all our meat needs. 

I have a 500 gallon propane tank that never has less than 250 gallons in it .  The propane is used for cooking, heating the house, and the hot water.  We don’t use much for heating the house.  I try to keep the heater turned off during the week.  Since I am at work and the kids are at school, I don’t need to waste propane heating an empty house.  On the weekends I use the woodstove.  Worst case scenario, I would use wood to cook with, heat the house with my wood stove, and at some near future point, set up a solar hot water system. 

We are on a well so we aren’t relying on city water.  My next project (with money from my tax return) will be to set up a solar power system to charge batteries for running the well.  We don’t usually have much wind so I don’t think a wind generator would work.  I’d also like to set up solar for a backup for my appliances.  I don’t need a huge solar system since we use minimal amount of electricity.  We really do conserve on electricity.  My electric bill is only about $40 a month for the refrigerator, freezer, washer, dishwasher, microwave, television, computers, and the kids leaving all the lights on.

Fortunately, we don’t get sick often.  I keep a good stock of vitamins and OTC medicines.  I haven’t been able to convince our doctor to write a prescription for extra medications but I have been able to stock up on some. I do have a large stock of supplies for injuries.  I have a rescue bag in each vehicle plus a large supply at home.  I do want to remind people that even minor injuries can use up lots of supplies.  You need lots of gauze, gauze, and more gauze.  And, gloves, gloves, and more gloves.  Rescue workers will change their latex gloves every 5-15 minutes.  Read the articles already posted about medical supplies.  Go through your cabinets and see what you use.  Buy lots of them. 

We have a great library at home.  Classic books, new books, survival books, cook books, just about all topics for all reading levels.  I also have school books: math, science, grammar, and history for each grade level.  We also have games, puzzles, and cards.  Lots of indoor activities for the kids to do.

We have tons of office supplies: paper, pencils, erasers, pens, paint, crayons and markers, tape, staples, and glue.  Whatever amount you think you need, double it, or triple it!  Take advantage of the end of summer back to school sales. 

Exercise and being active is important.  This past summer I made an obstacle course for the grandkids (and me).  We have tires to run through, a sprinting area, cones to zigzag around, ropes to climb up trees, nets to crawl under, and a cross country running track.  I also set up a tetherball pole, a basketball hoop, badminton and volleyball net, croquette, whiffle ball, and a soccer goal.  We also go hiking and bike riding.  They think it’s just for fun.  I know that being in good condition helps keep the mind in good condition.

Three months ago I purchased a 23 foot used travel trailer.  It has a stove, refrigerator, full bathroom and a tank that holds 40 gallons of propane.  This winter we took it on a trip to Colorado and Oklahoma and didn’t turn on the heater, just for fun.  Our sleeping bags (from MajorSurplus.com) kept us warm although I’m sure the grandkids would have liked it warmer than 30 when they got up in the morning! The trailer held all the clothes and food we needed for our two week trip.  It was great practice. I have more to do.  I plan on planting some non-inviting plants in the front along the road and along the sides and back of the property as well: probably cactus, blackberries, some itchy thistle, or even poison oak!  I really need to get backup power.  I also would like a holding tank for several thousand gallons of water.  I’d like to hire someone to dig a pond.  Our water table is 12 feet so the pond would have to be deep in order to hit the water table.  I need weapons for protection, not just for shooting roosters and possums.  It all takes time and money, but this is an example of what I have done with not too much money, just some common sense and dedication.

Sean in Malibu mentioned watching the episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Shelter". Your readers might like to know that the full episode is viewable online [free of charge] at the CBS web site.
Best, - Matt R.

James Wesley,
That episode of of The Twilight Zone a reader mentioned was one of the reasons that prompted me to be very quiet about my preps. I (and my family) use the "need to know" rule.

I'm all for charity, but I agree with your approach of doling it out anonymously, through our church. (We're Baptists.) The characters in your novel ["Patriots"] showed the right approach. Like them, I plan to "give until it hurts", but in the event of a major whammy,, I'll do so very discreetly, through a third party. Thanks for your wise counsel. You truly are the Mel Tappan of the new century. - Alexander G. (Ten Cent Challenge subscriber.)

Reader Thomas B.was the first of several readers to reference this article by Jim Jubak: Anarchy in the UK (and US, too)?

Al wrote to mention that just as I predicted, the base metal value of US five cent pieces ("Nickels") have again risen to above their face value. ($1.01 for $1.00 face value) I stand by my position that nickels are a good hedge against future inflation. If you have sufficient secure storage space, then gradually accumulate nickels!

Items from The Economatrix:

10 Jobs That Will Get a Raise in 2010

Greece Faces Intrusive EU Surveillance Amid Reports of Burgeoning Deficit

Senate Panel Near Agreement on Role of Fed

Late Credit Card Payments Rise to Record

Bernanke: Low Rates Didn't Cause Housing Bubble

Banks Trim Borrowing from Fed's Emergency Program

By way of Tamara's View From The Porch blog, comes an interesting article about Magpul Industries.

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Reader Dean G. reminded me to again mention of the copious links and references made available by The American Civil Defense Association (TACDA). Take a look!

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Ferdinand found a little Gerber sharpener mentioned on KK Cool Tools. Ferd notes: "It fits perfectly in my knife sheath's sidecar pocket and cost just a few dollars. It measures 2-1/4 x 1-3/4 inches, and is easy to use, with one side marked "coarse," the other "fine," and a little thumb-forefinger hold in between. It's actually been effective sharpening the folding knife I keep by my desk, and its lightweight, small profile and low cost make it perfect for leaving in a bag, just in case."

"Unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy." - Sign seen posted at the Real Goods store, Hopland, California

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

So it's the end of the world.  No problem.  Don't panic.  Just grab your handy bug-out kit, sit back with some popcorn, and try to make the most of Armageddon.  I just have one question for you: what in the world did you put in that bag that makes you so confident you'll do any better than the unprepared masses around you?  (Don't answer that... it's a trick question!)
Do you remember that old cartoon “Felix the Cat”?  There was a line in the theme song that went, “...whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks!”  Those were the good old days, huh?  Well the sad truth is that we often approach survival preparation just like that.  If you think you can pack a bunch of gear in a bag and call yourself “survival ready”, then you are in for a world of hurt.  If being prepared were that easy, we'd all just pick up a FEMA-approved survival kit from Wal-Mart and wait out the next disaster in duct-tape-and-plastic shelters.  The truth is, there is no magic bullet, and if it's TEOTWAWKI out there, there's no guarantee you'll even make it home to your bullets.  There's one thing that I will guarantee though: In an emergency, your survival kit will not contain everything you need, no matter what you've packed.

Now before you get too bent out of shape defending the $15,000 you spent on Bisquick, whiskey, and ammo, here's what I mean:  Packing a bag is not the same as being prepared.  Regardless of what gear you've decided you need for survival, I'd like to offer you six important things that won't be found in your kit:

#1 Questions (BE SPECIFIC!) - Survival is a mindset, and questions can be powerful when preparing for the worst.  Ask them now while life is easy.  You might not like the answers you come up with when the pressure's on.  Below are a few good questions to ask yourself.  These questions are not rhetorical.  It's up to you to come up with your own answers, but I did include a few of my own in italics.  Now on with the questions:
-Can I really be so cold-hearted as to hunker down with a year's supply of food and firewood while my neighbors are starving outside in the cold? 
Be specific:
Do I have the mental toughness to turn strangers away?  What about my neighbors?  How would I explain that to my kids?  Is isolation the answer?  Is there some better approach that still protects my family?  If not, am I willing to stand firm?

-What gear am I putting too much faith in? 
Be specific:
What if I lose the key to that lock or forget the combination? (More on lock-picking later...)
Is my flashlight waterproof?
What if my GPS is dead when I go to get my secret cache in the woods? 
I'll answer this one for you.  All you need is a decent compass with clear angle markings.  Standing at the cache site, carefully record the angles (from North) for at least two objects nearby.  Now you can find the spot again as long as you can find your reference objects.  You may want to pick more than two references just in case the view to any of them is blocked.  Avoid things like trees or buildings that might not be the same when you go back.  ...now back to the questions.

-When is my kit going to cause more problems than it solves?
Be specific:
Did I leave anything in my hidden cache that could compromise my security (or the location of my other caches)?
Am I going to get in trouble if a state trooper finds my [fill-in-the-blank] hidden in the woods?  What if a teenager finds it? 
Could I stand to carry that heavy bag all day?  On the run?  Quietly? 
Could there ever be a situation when it's safer to be unarmed? Last year a man was killed in my neighborhood when he threatened a gun-toting punk with a rock... not smart and ultimately tragic. If you are outgunned, it's probably best if you are not seen as a threat.

-What about creature comforts?  Sure, I can survive using X,Y, and Z, but can I make my life easier by preparing better?
Be specific:
Am I willing to use nothing but a Leatherman to open canned goods for several weeks or months?
Can I stand to sleep on/in [fill-in-the-blank: my packable hammock, cot, sleeping bag, truck bed, back seat, etc.]?  How will poor sleep affect my ability to keep up with the daily tasks required for survival?
Do I have to wipe with 80-grit toilet paper just because it’s WWIII outside?  Wouldn’t the soft toilet paper be okay for emergencies too? 

-What if X,Y,or Z doesn’t work? 
Be specific:
Will I starve in my own Y2K bunker because my can opener fell apart? Probably not, but if you buy a cheap-o can opener and it breaks, you might do something stupid like cut yourself while trying to get into your can of beans with a knife.  Seriously, get a reliable tool for the important things like food.
What if the batteries/generator don’t work?
What if the water supply dries up?
What if I run out of cartridges?  What if the slingshot breaks and I run out of arrows too?  How will I hunt?
What if there are no animals to hunt?  Where will I go?  What will I do?

-Have I printed out all of the manuals and instructions I might need just in case the computer gets fried?  Do I honestly expect myself to remember all this info without any printed manuals? 

…And so on and so on.  You get the idea.  Ask the hard questions.  Expect the first, second, and third plans to fail, then learn how to improvise and adapt today while learning is not a matter of life and death.

#2 Understanding Physical Security – Physical security is more than owning a gun or putting a lock on the door.  It requires careful thought.  Think like a thief.  Think like a desperate, scared, and hungry soul just trying to find the next meal.  What would you do?  Where would you hide if you wanted to ambush someone on the road?  Physical security means thinking like your opponent and staying one step ahead:

Locks: A lock is only as good as the door it’s attached to.  Sure your door has three locks on it, but this is the end of the world, and that guy is hungry.  Why wouldn’t he just break the window or kick in the doorjamb or smash through the wall with a car?  Locks keep honest people honest.  For everyone else, it just slows them down a little (“a little” may be all you need).  A good lock will at least make life harder for looters and thieves. 

Lock-picking: When used responsibly (and legally), lock-picking can be an extremely valuable skill.  Even if you don't use the skill often, it will give you a better understanding of how much trust you can put in any given lock. There’s a ton of info on the net about locksport (see: MIT Lock-picking Guide by Ted the Tool), but learning takes time and practice.  In an emergency, you will have neither the internet nor the time to practice, so you'd better learn  to do it now.  And don't bother spending $100 on some fancy “professional” pick set.  Some of my favorite picks have been cut from a dull hacksaw blade.  If you buy a set, get a cheap one that you don't mind losing or breaking. 
When you practice lock picking, don't get cocky.  Remember that there's a big difference between a file cabinet lock and the deadbolt on your house.  Remember that lock-picking takes time, so don't expect doors to just fly open if you're on the run.  Also remember that it can be a useful self-protection scheme to  honestly say: “I don’t have a key to that lock.”
One more thing:  don’t lose sleep over thieves picking locks.  If they can’t cut the lock, kick the door in, or break a window, then they probably won’t bother picking it.  Even if they do, that's what alarms are for. 

Alarms: Alarms are the second line of defense when your locks and physical barriers have failed.  Ideally, the alarm gives you notice before they fail so you can decide whether to take a stand or run.  An alarm can be as simple as a few pebbles in a can on a string, but my emergency alarm system of choice  is a sophisticated mobile listening device that I like to call “my dog”.  She just happens to have a very handy set of teeth on her too.

Camouflage and Deception: Sometimes that big padlock just screams “Something valuable is in here”, so you really need to disguise it.  When you do, remember that “almost perfect” camouflage is usually worse than an okay disguise.  Most people have a knack for noticing when something is “not quite right”, and inappropriate camouflage may draw attention rather than hiding your treasures.  In other words, it's better to make something look like useless trash than to make it look like a weird rock.  To really understand what I mean, try going geocaching.  Not only is it fun, but it will also expose you to a wide variety of both well and poorly disguised containers in all sorts of unusual hiding places. 

Show of Force: You may scare off the lone thug, but be wary of scouts who may come back with a group.  If you put your biggest gun on display, someone will find a bigger one or come at you in some way you don't expect.  You must balance the element of surprise with deterrence.  This is a judgment call.

Use of Force:  If you have a CCL, you know all about this.  This has been covered elsewhere on SurvivalBlog, so I won't say too much about it.  It is a last resort, but you need to be willing and capable of using whatever weapons you own instinctively and effectively.  Just be prepared to live with the consequences.

#3 Staying in Shape – 24-hour gyms don’t take new members during the apocalypse. Just play it safe and get in shape now.  If you don't already have a fitness plan, I would recommend using the US Army Physical Fitness Manual.  It provides basic exercises with and without gym equipment. The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) at the back of the manual also provides an excellent baseline for determining how in-shape you really are.  If you are fit enough for combat, you are fit enough for emergencies.
When you exercise,  push yourself.  You'll be mentally and physically tougher for it.  Hard exercise teaches you to endure and overcome pain and discomfort like nothing else.  This is especially true of long-distance running.  If you are not a consistent runner, you will find yourself rationalizing shortcuts before you've reached your goal.  Learning to recognize and overcome these head games in sports will help you deal with them confidently in life too. 

#4 Having Fun – You don't have to study the psychology of survival to know that your mental state can determine whether you live or die.  Have a plan for keeping spirits up and especially for dealing with boredom.  You can't afford boredom-induced mistakes, so have something on-hand in case you are stuck in one spot for a long time.  At the very least, throw a deck of cards in your kit.  A harmonica or an Irish whistle can be great portable morale boosters if you know how to play them (but very annoying to others if you don't).  Likewise, a football, hackey-sack, or Frisbee might take up valuable space, but they may be well worth it when you need a physical distraction from the stress of survival.

#5 Clothing for Daily Use – Think about the Virginia Tech shootings or other “going postal” scenarios.  More than anything else, the shoes you are wearing right now could determine whether you survive the first thirty seconds of such an event.  You may not have the luxury of showing up at the office in your jungle boots, but there's still a good chance an emergency will happen during working hours.  If you can't run in your work shoes, then at least keep a set of tennis shoes nearby. 

As far as outfitting for work, here's what I do: for my shoes, I wear what amounts to a leather tennis shoe.  They look professional enough to go with my slacks, but they're comfortable, and I can run in them if needed.  Even on Fridays I prefer slacks to jeans, because they are lighter, more comfortable, and easier to run in.  I always carry a pocket knife, an LED key-chain light, a pen with a metal clip on the cap (the clip makes a good flat-head screwdriver in a pinch), and a small lock pick set. I also keep a light jacket and a pair of boots in my work locker.  You may want to add a few things to your own list, but the main point is that you should wear and carry whatever makes sense for your own environment.

#6 Practice and Experience – You can't train for every situation, but constant survival practice will build confidence in yourself, and it helps you keep a level head when the time comes.  Practice will also build your confidence in the gear you carry and teach you how to improvise when something is missing or goes wrong.  Only experience teaches you what gear is trustworthy and which things are going to need routine maintenance. 

“Survival training” doesn't have to be unpleasant.  Try to have fun with it.  I already mentioned geocaching, and camping is an obvious way to practice, but be creative.  There are countless ways to hone your survival skills that won't make you miserable in the process.  If you don't enjoy it, you won't do it often enough, and that means you will rely too much on unproven equipment when an emergency comes along.

Conclusion -  If you ask 100 survival-minded individuals what items you should keep in an emergency kit you'll get at least 100 different answers.  For myself, the answer is simple and yet not so simple: pack your brain.  No matter what gadgets you may pack away, you can't predict what you'll need, what will break or get stolen, or what will be in short supply.  So do your best when picking and packing, but be prepared to make the most of whatever you can find around you.

Trust (in yourself or in your gear) should be earned, so don't give it out blindly.  Ask questions, then try out your solutions in practice.  Have fun with it, but don't take it too lightly.  We are still dealing with life and death.  Only you can decide the best way to prepare, but remember that you will be the same person five minutes into an emergency that you were five minutes before.  Be the best person you can be today, and you won't regret it tomorrow.

Mr Rawles,
Thanks for all you do for the Prepper community. It is always a pleasure to see what is new on your site.

Just for the record, I was the black shirted "Tracking and Survival Expert" quoted on After Armageddon. I consulted fairly extensively with the production company on the direction of the script early on, but did not know what was going to happen until I saw it. We filmed my interview up in Harlem in an old condemned apartment building in August. The epidemiologist from England was there also. They filmed three hours of interview with me, but most of my more extreme, gun related stuff ended up on the cutting room floor. I could tell the Brits found my gun comments distasteful, but that is their reality. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the show. Not perfect, but I think it will help people have conversations about preparedness.

An ironic side note. The main character died of septicemia after a cut on his hand became infected. I just got out of a four day hospital stay for treatment for septicemia. Now I have tracked wounded tigers, mountain lions, and bob cats. I have skinned all sorts of animals that I have hunted or trapped. I have eaten all kinds of crazy food and imbibed water from questionable sources. Never got sick. Not once. But I almost died from an infection that came from a bite by my house cat. If I did not have access to modern medical care, I would be dead. So think long and hard about what pharmaceuticals you are going to store. And recognize that what seems like an inconvenience here, will be a disaster in a grid down situation. Awareness is better that treatment.

After Armageddon airs again Saturday at 8:00 pm Eastern, but check local listings. - Kevin Reeve, onPoint Tactical

As a follow-up to previous mentions in SurvivalBlog, Nanci M. suggested this article: Finding Dolly Freed.

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Reader Trent H. spotted this interesting article: An Amish Entrepreneur's Old-Fashioned Approach; Without electricity, a car, or a cell phone, Amos Miller turned his dad's Pennsylvania farm into a $1.8 million national food retailer. Oh, and speaking of locally-grown foods, Jason W. sent us the link to Well Fed Neighbor.

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Yishai flagged this: IDF to blanket Israel with gas masks. Yishai's comments: "To show the chemical threat is real, and to point out to your readers that retail gas masks may be scarce in the near future, Israel will be making and distributing gas masks to every citizen over the next three years. An Israeli blogger pointed out that the distribution should take less than three years, and he's right about the distribution, but there is almost eight million Israeli citizens (Jewish and Arab), so the production of the kits will be the bottleneck."

Vizzini: "He didn't fall? Inconceivable!"
Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
- Wallace Shawn as Vizzini, and Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, in The Princess Bride (1987). Screenplay by William Goldman

Friday, January 8, 2010

SurvivalBlog readers Len and K9 both mentioned the two hour special docudrama "After Armageddon" will soon air again on The History Channel. The program shows in graphic detail just how fast normal society can break down, and even has a small segment on the importance of amateur radio to be able to communicate without infrastructure.

While the program uses the flu virus as the reason for the breakdown, It could just as easily be any one of a number of other causes.that

"After Armageddon" re-runs:

What have past acts of destruction taught us about what will happen to mankind after the apocalypse? Is it inevitable that disaster will someday strike America on an unprecedented level? How has history prepared us? History's most dramatic events--Hiroshima, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and others--are examined and analyzed with hard data gathered from their massive aftereffects. The disappearance of water and food supplies, the effects of deteriorated sanitation and health care on the remaining population, and the increased use of violence as a means of survival--all illustrate how societies have responded and survived.

The scheduled re-airings are Saturday, January 09 at 8:00 PM, and Sunday, January 10 at 12:00 AM.

I also got the following from our friend Michael Bane (of Downrange.tv), who was an advisor on the project:

"I missed it first go-around, but watched the DVR'ed version last night. I have to say that other than a tendency at the end to look for sunshine and lollipops (and the Brit production crews' aversion to guns/self-defense) it's pretty good. Obviously, a lot of my hard-core gun stuff was left on the cutting room floor, but I'm happy to say that a lot of the concepts that I outlined ended up in the final show.

As usual, the family depicted are poster children for stupid, but upon reflection I'd say they're probably more representative of urban dwellers than the people I know now. There is one segment where the wife has to kill a gang member to save her husband. Good so far, but then she drops the gun and they run out of the warehouse. My girlfriend was screaming, "pick up the guns, you idiots!'"

Despite its flaws, it still seem to be worth watching.

I’ve just watched an original episode of [the 1960s television series] The Twilight Zone called “The Shelter” from 1961. It’s interesting to notice how some tenets of preparedness haven’t changed much in almost 50 years.

In the episode, a group of neighbors is gathered at a birthday party when a report of unidentified flying objects, alluded to as nuclear missiles, comes over the radio. As the guests depart for their homes to gather food, medicine and water, we learn that the protagonist, Dr. Stockton, has a recently completed fallout shelter in his basement. He secures his family in it but the neighbors, now in a panic, return and demand entry.

Unprepared themselves, they fall to infighting, attack the immigrant among them, and eventually batter down the shelter’s door. As they enter the breached room (which ironically would now protect none of them) an announcement on the radio reveals that the missiles are actually harmless satellites and the emergency is over.

Dazed, the neighbors all sheepishly apologize and discuss having a block party to get things “back to normal” again. Dr. Stockton says, “Normal? I don’t even know what normal is anymore.”

The messages are many and clear in this episode. First and foremost – be prepared. Second, keep strict OPSEC and keep your preparations to yourself. Third – a little charity stocked up in advance, and kept outside the shelter’s locked doors, might have kept the wolves at bay. Fourth – panic and fear are the mind killers, the most dangerous threat of all. It is well worth remembering what Rod Serling says in the episode’s final line, “For civilization to survive, the human race must remain civilized.”

As we enter 2010 and all the unknowns that the new year brings with it, we would all do well to reflect on that. - Sean in Malibu

I was going home this evening at 5 pm right before dark and I was going fast. Right before Chappelhill on 290 a Hypo (Texas Dept of Public Safety Officer) pulled me over. I always have a smile on my face and act courteous with the cops. He came to my passenger window and asked for my license and insurance and said "your were going 77 in a 70" I gave him my handgun license and drivers license and said wow the wind was pushing me then, and then I truthfully told him that I had been on the road since 6am and went to Temple Texas to Scott and White as my mother in law had a part of her lung removed and we sat in the waiting room most of the day and she came out of surgery fine and I'm on the back to Houston.

Then he asked "where is your handgun" I said on the back seat, I drive Jeep Grand Cherokee, he said "your tint on the back window is real dark, can I "he" move it to the very back behind the rear seat in the cargo area, I said yes, he said he was going to open the rear door (remember he is on the passenger side) he opens the door and picks it up and sets in the far rear area then looks on the floor board and starring at him is my AK-47, he smiles and said I will have to set that back there too. So he does. He had a big smile and said you know I can't let you sit in here with a .45 and a AK while I run your registration because your tint is too dark, he said I have to ask you to stand outside your vehicle! I said "Okay no problem." He came back and gave me a warning! No ticket. I said to him "that's great and I even had a AK!" I talk too much. And said to him, I never go out of town now without it now days because the world might break when I'm on the road, and I laugh and say I listen too much to Glenn Beck! The DPS officer said "I don't blame you at all, in fact I want you to help me if it happens! I want you on my side! You will be on my side right? I replied: "Yes, I'm a good guy"! I became flushed upon hearing this from the young officer! We shook hands and I left feeling good! Sometimes respect is mutual. I hope one day I can by him lunch at the least! - Word in Texas

JWR Replies: This dovetails nicely with my recent comments about the prevailing attitudes about gun ownership. If you don't live in a gun friendly region, then move.

Attention SurvivalBlog readers in California: I just got this from the NRA's legislative arm: Right-to-Carry Bill Scheduled to be Heard Next Week! Please Contact the Members of the Assembly Public Safety Committee Today! Assembly Bill 357 is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Committee on Public Safety on Tuesday, January 12. AB357, sponsored by Assembly Member Steve Knight Republican, District 36), would create a “shall issue” concealed handgun permit system in California. Under current law, an applicant must show cause as to why they should be issued a permit to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. AB357 would remove that stipulation and require sheriffs to issue the license if all other mandated criteria are satisfied. Please contact the members of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety immediately and respectfully urge them to support AB357.

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From The Telegraph: At last a minister says it: we need to grow more food For the first time in more than a decade, a government minister has been talking about ensuring that we have something to eat, says Clive Aslet; (Thanks to GG for the link.)

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A friend in Ireland mentioned this web page with some Ray Mears video links Extreme Military Survival.

"Gold - the ultimate money - Why? Because it is the only monetary asset that isn't someone else's liability. It doesn't represent a promise to pay and it isn't dependent up the survival of a particular power or group of powers. In a word, it is valuable because it is." - C. M. Allen, 1974

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The new UK edition of my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know it: Tactics, Techniques and Technologies for Uncertain Times" will be released today. It will be priced at just £7.19 postage paid.

OBTW, since Amazon doesn't automatically feed through reviews to the UK site, it would be great if you could re-post your reviews of the book on Amazon.co.uk so that this book reaches the widest possible readership. Many thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

Preparedness and survival are becoming increasingly popular discussions in these days of economic and political instability. Head to a diner in the morning and you’ll hear ol’ timers talking about their deer rifles they have with extra ammunition. Pass in a supermarket and you’ll hear middle aged housewives speaking of the class they are taking on home canning. Most people have the mental image of a worldwide doomsday when “survival” is brought up. That fact is that survival is simply that…survival. Whether your family is snowed in for a few days in a cabin, an earthquake ruptures water and power, all the way to nuclear bombs dropping, survival is a must. From my view, the first thing that you can do is to prepare yourselves is to put your faith, trust and life in the hands of the Lord. Through Him, you will find strength and knowledge that will help you survive until He decides to call you home. The next steps for preparing are what you can do for you, your families, and your friends.

Read, take a class, and learn! There are literally hundreds of books to help you become prepared. This aspect is especially crucial for people who are not familiar with the process of surviving a tragedy. Having all the guns in the world will not help you if your weapon and ammunition have ceased to be useable because you didn’t know how to properly store them. Literature on weapons is certainly, if not the top, near the top of the list for reading material. Firearms are extremely dangerous, and are meant to be that way. Firearms are dangerous to you if you do not understand how they properly function. Pick up some books on basic firearm components and functions. Find a firearms safety class near you to get hands on and practice. I strongly recommend classes from the NRA. If you decide to buy an AR-15 semi-auto rifle, it would be prudent to purchase books on maintenance.  Even Rambo can’t be Rambo if he’s not taking care of his weapon. In the same, Julia Child is not a cook if she doesn’t have the right ingredients. During a disaster, food and water will more than likely be in high demand. Proper food and water storage is more than just keeping a few extra cans of beans in the pantry. Ask someone that knows to show you the proper methods of canning. When dealing with food and water, one cannot be too careful on storage. Illness can befall a family if food was not properly canned, dates weren’t checked, or water is not in the correct containers. Most books on this topic can give rough estimates of how much food and what type to store for a specific number of members. Just as illness can present with bad food, it can show up with anything. Anything from the common cold to a fractures arm can strike at any time. With the means of getting to a doctor diminished and EMS services at nil, first aid is crucial. Sign up for CPR and a First Aid class at your local community college or American Red Cross. Once you have developed basic skills, there is a bountiful supply of resources on primitive medicine and military combat style first aid. Don’t let your skills expire! You must be persistent on keeping your certificates and hands on training up to date. Like the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it!

All the brain food in the world won’t be of assistance if you don’t have the tools to perform your skills. Purchase your first firearm if you do not already have one. Go out and get some cold weather clothes. Buy that solar panel that you know could be a lifesaver. In discussions of preparedness, many folks have the knowledge either from living a certain lifestyle or by reading. Some do have quite a bit of products already bought and stored away somewhere. How many have the stuff they really need?  You must look at what is most important to you and your situation. If you have a small budget and live in south Florida, is it wiser to buy the really neat camo cold weather jacket for $350 or extra screening for your windows. Do you even have a six month supply of food before you buy that extra screening? All the high tech GPS systems, voice activated handheld radios, and night vision goggles won’t do you any good if you and your family die of dehydration in three days. Start with the most basic items first and work your way up. Begin with food and water storage and move your way to appropriate clothing. Move on to an advanced first aid kit with basic medications and vitamins. Figure out if you want to stockpile store bought ammunition by the thousands or buy some reloading equipment. Only once the basics are acquired should you be worrying about the GPS that also cooks your dinner for you. When purchasing an item, do your research. Find out if it is at its lowest price. Is it the most trustworthy and durable? Hopefully with all of the reading you did before will give you great insight of what you need.

Training is the last step after reading/researching and purchasing. Once you become comfortable with firearms, take and advanced course such as combat shooting or self defense with a side arm. If you’re strapped for cash, hook up with a combat veteran or law enforcement officer that has experience in these topics. Since practice makes perfect, make sure you are hitting the range at least once a week and are trying different styles. Weapons training is one of the tasks that you can practice on your own. Since performing CPR and first aid on a healthy human being is harmful, ask your local fire department if you can become a volunteer. Adrenaline runs high for non-medical personnel during routine medical treatment let alone during a medical emergency. You may find yourself surprised when someone’s ribs break while you doing CPR. Your mind and body must also be accustomed to the lifestyle and events that may occur during a survival situation. Get your body in physical shape. This involves being used to the cold and heat. Start with hiking in good weather and advance to backpacking in the dead of summer of during a cold spell of winter. Just take the proper precautions so as to not injure yourself, others, or become stranded. A small garden is a grand way to embark on your agricultural skills. If you live in an area such as an apartment where a garden is not feasible, try a few tomato plants and carrots in a normal houseplant pot. This is something that even children can help with. They will enjoy helping you out and will learn valuable lessons at the same time. Children require the same steps that you go through as well. Start with them young and have them read and take classes. Buy them their first .22 rifle. Take them camping and fishing with you so they can get their training in as well. Remember that children are all different. Never force your child to do something that puts them in a dangerous situation, but guide them so that when the time is right, they are well taught and eager. Training is not for just one person, but for the whole family.

These three cycles are meant to repeat. Do not spend six months reading everything you can on survival, then dump twenty thousand on some supplies. Start small so you do not overwhelm yourself or your family. Begin with reading on gardens, buy the tools, and start one. Move on to firearms, and so on. With so many people just talking about being prepared, they don’t realize that they themselves are not prepared. None of us are God, thus we can’t just speak things into existence. One aspect to remember is that once you have the basics covered, continue on with your own personal items. Remember that children will need to have toys to keep up morale, so is a video game or board game more feasible? If you are taking care of an elderly family member how will they handle a difficult situation? What if they have a specific medical condition? Literature on basic psychology and of the medical condition would be of great help. My desire is for this article to get you thinking. There aren’t enough books in the world to tell you how to prepare for every type of disaster and every item that you must have. The important rule is that you learn, then buy, train, and repeat. Talk’s great, but doing is greater!

Good Afternoon Mr. Rawles,
I thought you might like to know how the so called severe weather is treating us here in Ireland. We have had snow and ice on the ground for the past two and a half weeks. We live a couple of miles out of town and our local road resembles a skating rink, very easy to drive down the hill but not so easy to drive back up. But driving is not much of a problem as my wife is from the American Midwest and I spent five years living in the highest town in North America.

Due to the abnormally cold conditions for Ireland nearly everyone was unprepared for the conditions but we are doing just fine. The local water main is frozen solid so everyone is going to town to buy water for drinking, toilet flushing etc. We are now glad that my Wife insisted on buying a Berkey water filter so we use the 600 litres of water from the roof which is kept on the sunny side of the cottage for drinking and toilets.

The lack of water is also causing heating problems as all central heating systems here rely on water the end result is that a lot of people have no heat in their homes and have no fireplaces to provide heat. Luckily there is no problem with the electrical supply so they can use expensive electric heaters but they will cry when the bill comes. Again this is not a problem for us, when we moved in to this old cottage three years ago we ripped out the oil fired central heating system and replaced it with a solid fuel stove which burns coal, wood and anything solid, combined with the 2 foot thick stone walls we are nice and warm. During our construction boom houses were built without fireplaces and chimneys to save on construction costs, and with our new building regulations requiring house to be air-tight, many homes have no supplemental/back-up heating systems.

A nationwide complaint is the state of the roads. They was no supply of salt in the country to treat the roads, so, 40 tons of salt had to be shipped in from Spain yesterday. Currently no buses are running, schools and airports are closed and if people don't have to go to work they are staying at home in their cold house with no water. The weather forecast is for another week of this weather, which will cause further chaos.

Yesterday Our beloved Government took a break from their month long Christmas holiday, the result of the meeting was that they managed to agree that the weather was bad, roads were impassable etc. The result of the meeting, believe it or not, was the usual reply to anything, "What do you want Us to do about it???"

We will survive the current weather crisis with our stash of food water and fuel, however, we are worried that people will die from the cold conditions. We keep a check on our neighbors to make sure they are fine but people in more remote locations are probably not so lucky. We will just have to wait and see the results when the thaw sets in.

To close I suppose the moral of the story is that you never know when or in what situations your preparedness skills will be required and most important of all keep a positive outlook. I am off now as my stew which is cooking on top of the wood stove is ready.

Keep up the good work on the blog - INNUKSUK

Hi Jim,
I received an email from Grace Hill Media regarding the upcoming movie "The Book of Eli." From the looks of it, it's your standard post-apocalyptic, TEOTWAWKI story, but there's a twist that the main movie trailer doesn't really address - the "book" is the last known Bible on earth.

I learned this because there's a Web site with clips from the movie and sermon notes as part of the movie's marketing campaign.

While I'm not really a supporter of turning the pulpit into a marketing tool for Hollywood films, the material might provide a starting point for Christian preppers to talk about important matters to others who might see the film. Cheers! - Jason R.

Rob C. mentioned this item: Barton Biggs: 1 in 10 Chance of Anarchy in the U.S. That should get insurance actuaries quaking in their boots, and SurvivalBlog readers loading stripper clips!

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Reader Paul B. mentioned The Photographer's Ephemeris. Paul's description: "This is a free application that, although designed for photographers, would seem to have many uses for people hunting, fishing, or otherwise engaged in outdoor activities, [including the tactical variety.] Basically, you put in the date and your location and it pops up a google map showing you the direction of sunrise/sunset/moonrise/moonset, time for twilight (civil, nautical, astronomical). Also does some other things like compute distance and bearing, shadow length. It might be also useful for people doing considering a property purchase who are interested in how the sun will rise and set on the property, et cetera.

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News from across the pond: At the mercy of the deep freeze: Schools shut, firms hit... now another six inches of snow. (Some of the Nanny State Dependency mentality is showing. It is time for folks to become better prepared individually, and more self-reliant!Our thanks to Ferdinand for sending the link.)

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"Ski" Jim mentioned another notable home invasion robbery, in Colorado. Don't become complacent, thinking that this only happens in big cities on the coasts.

"I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others." - Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

The recent post regarding the found well inspired me to write a note that I’ve been meaning to share.
I work in the water well industry, specifically the troubleshooting of problem wells.  The thing that continues to surprise me is the wide range of beliefs and lack of solid information on well systems. I say systems because an owner/operator must view a well as a sum of parts, more than just a hole in the ground.

The first issue I’ll address is testing. Most states and local health departments have settled on the coliform test as the only means to pass judgment on a well. This is a big error in my opinion. This test is often misrepresented as a “Bac-T” test and is assumed to include all bacteria by professionals and laymen alike. Coliforms are one family of organisms and include everything from E.coli related bacteria to naturally occurring soil bacteria. Bacteria are found everywhere, and it is impossible to find a well that does not have resident bacterial populations, no matter how deep or where it is located. If a test has been performed or is required, find out what type of test and results you will get. You want more than just a presence/absence, you want to know what is there and how many. There are a variety of online sources that you can then read up on the identified bacteria and find out if it is a problem or not.

The second issue is well head protection. This has become more popular in recent times, but the effort is focused mainly on larger well systems. In my opinion, it is more important for the residential or “back-yard well owner” as they do not have the treatment systems in place nor the mandatory testing requirements. So, for the SB readers, I recommend:

  1. Examine the well and area around the well head. Identify any conduits or drainage that may impact the well or the area adjacent to the well. If there is any area of erosion or subsidence (ground collapse), seal with Bentonite (well seal or well plug) and back-fill the area. Manage the drainage in the area so that no flow impacts the well or settles near the well.  If you have a “well house” – examine it for leaks and possible rodent use. Clean it out and check it regularly. If you have a concrete well “pad”, make sure it is not being compromised or that erosion is occurring underneath it.  You may need to stabilize and manage drainage around it too.
  2. Collect information. Now that you’ve addressed the topside, scour all possible records for well data. This may be very difficult – if you cannot find information on the well, contact a driller or pump installer and schedule a visit. You want to know the age and dimensions of your well (depth, diameter), the type of completion (steel, pvc, screen, or open borehole), static and operating water level; type, age, and efficiency of the pump. Knowledge is key! Why? All means of operating, cleaning or disinfecting the well are dependent on the size of the well!

One note, for those with “hand-dug” wells, you may want to consider lining or replacing the well. These types of wells are often natural cisterns or collector wells and can have infiltration issues that may cause more problems than good.
The next issue we tend to deal with is fouling. Fouling occurs as a number of issues – it can be bacterial presence, hard scale build-up, the accumulation of sediment, or a combination of each of these issues. Fouling in a filter or pressure tank may reflect greater problems downhole. More often than not, the problems occur do to the inactiveness of the well. 

  1. Keep the Well Active! Bacteria, present in biofilm and biomass generally contract during periods of flow in and around a well system. As the flow decreases, the biofilm expands as the need for nutrient capture grows. During expansion of biofilm, populations also swell. Bacteria are most active in stagnant water situations, as they seek to capture necessary for growth and propagation. Similarly, as the flow of a well system decreases, the entrance and influence of oxygen on the system decreases. This can lead to more anoxic or anaerobic environments to occur. As anaerobic conditions develop, the growth and development of anaerobic bacterial populations increase. Anaerobic bacteria are often the more troublesome bacteria. First, they typically include sulfate reducing bacteria that can impart a “rotten egg” or hydrogen sulfide type odor on produce water. Second, the biofilm produced by these bacteria is typically more dense and problematic with regards to fouling potential. Lastly, many Coliform bacteria are facultative anaerobes and take up residence in anaerobic environments. In some cases, water sitting idle for only a couple of hours in the well can become ripe with bacteria and cause significant plugging to occur within the well. In addition to restricting anaerobic growth, operational wells continually purge debris from the system, preventing accumulations from occurring within the borehole. Hardness loss and geochemical congestion are also limited in active well systems. Corrosion, resulting from over pumping and a variety of factors, can be reduced as well.  I understand that many use wells as back-ups or for emergency needs. You need to investigate methods of cycling the well – even if for just a limited time. There are a variety of timers and triggers that can be used. Solar powered systems and floats can be very beneficial in maintaining effective storage while also regularly exercising the well.
  2. Treating the Well. If and when it comes time to have the well cleaned or disinfected, take the time to do it right. The number one issue we find in failed well cleanings is the failure to evacuate the bottom of the well. The bottom of the well acts as a sump, often collecting sediment as well as organic debris. As mentioned above, this can plague a well and also reduce the effectiveness of cleaning efforts. Additionally, have the contractor find out what the problem is and design a specific treatment, don’t just have them do what they normally do to any well…each well is different! If chlorination is deemed necessary for disinfection, use a concentration of fresh, liquid sodium hypochlorite (to reduce the influence of calcium) between 100 and 400 ppm. Never “shock” chlorinate a well with concentrations of chlorine over 500ppm! Also, buffer the solution to a pH of 6.5 to 7 – this will maximize the effectiveness of disinfection that is often reduced by the DOT required shipping pH of 9 to 11 of chlorine.

So many people treat wells as just another object, assuming that when the time comes, it will be there and ready to use. Nowadays, with costs increasing and some states limiting the drilling of wells, vigilance is more important than ever. Treat your well as an asset – possibly your most precious asset. Check your well periodically for corrosion, increased air, foul odors or discoloration. If possible, purchase a test kit and track the quality of your water. Each of these can be a sign of trouble downhole. Identifying problems early is often cheaper to respond to and you have a greater chance of success. I also recommend that you contact your local extension office or county sanitarian; periodically these agencies may offer workshops regarding wells and private water supplies.

I've just done First Responder training because the school I go to, a good one, won't let me jump right into EMT training without taking First Responder first. A gold-digging measure? You decide! I think it may be, but it's a good policy too.

I urge your readers to take a First Responder, a.k.a. CPR + Advanced First Aid. My course was $300. A cheapie way to do this would be to go on Amazon and get the book, but I highly urge a course. I plan to do EMT-1 then EMT-P and don't expect to get paid for EMT-ing. We'll be in full on collapse in a year or two, and it's not about the money.

The thing is, there are nuances to medical care. You don't just put a Vaseline-covered bandage on a sucking chest wound, you put an airtight bandage on, Vaseline on gauze or a piece of T-shirt's one way, but the nuance is, a piece of plastic is fine, but it has to be set up to work like a flapper valve, taped down on three sides. For a tension pneumothorax, you use a "big" needle, what's "big"? 12 gauge is a good idea, but there's also a way you draw the skin down because there's a vein that runs down along each rib and you need to miss that.

The thing is, I hope the article you published makes people want to go out and get training not just go, "OK, I read about this on the Internet once..." Beans, bullets, band-aids, and books, my friend.- Alex

Mr. Rawles,
The "The Tactical Combat Casualty" article was great. The reason Cowpuncher can't get rofecoxib (brand name Vioxx) is that it was withdrawn from the market in 2004 by its maker due to claims of heightened rates of heart attacks compared to similar drugs like Celebrex). Rofecoxib was a new generation NSAID (like ibuprofen). Their claim to fame was that it caused less GI upset. It was a great pain drug but not much more so than regular 600mg or 800mg Ibuprofen or naproxen 500mg. There is a "class" effect of analgesia of drugs in this class so all are very similar in the right dose. In addition, rofecoxib was a lot more expensive (as is Celebrex). I am both a practicing physician assistant and family nurse practitioner 30 years in general medicine. Greatly appreciate your work. I am slowly winning my wife and four grown sons into the survivalist boat, but it is a slow process. Thanks. - R.P.

Excellent post by Cowpuncher. I think too few people realize that we are talking about a two-way firing range here. I have had long discussions about this with my survivalist friends and the consensus is until we get some kind of medical professional into our group, it's in the hands of God. We can carry tourniquets ("TKs") and pressure bandages, along with faith, and drive on. Kinda emphasizes the importance of having someone in your group that can handle gunshot wounds. And keeping low profile, out of situations where you are being shot at.

A key point that I'd like to emphasize again is that you must be thinking about self-aid as much as possible. If you are hit, you have to try to treat yourself, and stay in the fight. With the small numbers we are talking about, we need every gun in the fight. My buddy, another SF dude, says they carry several TK's on their kit and train to throw one on quickly and keep fighting. This goes to combat mindset, in that you must try not to shut down because you're hit. I know, it is easy say, hard do.

I also like the TR "Ventilated Operator Kit" (VOK). Probably one of the best priced, most complete gunshot wound kits on the market. It's one of the only places I know of that includes a de-comp catheter/needle.

Also worth mentioning is the "Olaes" pressure bandage by Tac Medical Solutions. Made by 2 former 18-Deltas, it includes a pressure bandage, with extra crilex that you can pull out to dress the other side of the wound, and has a piece of plastic that pulls out if you need an occlusive dressing. All in one package.

And finally, also from TMS, I carry the "SF" tourniquet, which is the black nylon one with metal windlass.

I have combined the de-comp needle and NPA from the VOK, with 2 Olaes Bandages, and TK from TMS for my gunshot wound kits. Since I carry pretty much around the clock, at work as well as at home, I keep a kit with me at all times. S/F - Diz

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that liver damage may occur with as little as 2.6 grams of acetaminophen (four to five "extra-strength" pills) taken over the course of the day in persons consuming varying amounts of alcohol (NIAAA, Seeff). The damage caused by alcohol-acetaminophen interaction is more likely to occur when acetaminophen is taken after, rather than before, the alcohol has been metabolized.

This liver damage is so serious it leads to the need for liver transplants. Since 1998, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States has required a specific warning on labels about acetaminophen. That warning reads: "Alcohol Warning: If you consume three or more alcoholic drinks every day, ask your doctor whether you should take acetaminophen or other pain relievers/fever reducers. Acetaminophen may cause liver damage." Thanks, - Jacketch

Dave B. suggested this New York Times article: Broadband, Yes. Toilet, No.; Alaskan Couple Turns Yurt into Shelter in the Wild

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Tom from MA suggested St. Dalfour Gourmet-to-Go products. He commented "They are small tins with meals in them which bear a striking resemblance to the French RCIR rations. I'm wondering if they are made in the same plant? I found them next to all of the other tinned meats and tuna. They have a 2-3 year 'best by' date and seem to be a good addition to any bug out bag, or just as a supplement to an overall storage plan. The Whole Grain with Vegetables was good, as was the Wild Salmon salad. I'll be picking up a few more on my next shopping visit."

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Reader JK sent this video of Jim Scoutten explaining the ammo shortage. He misses a crucial distinction between preparing and hoarding. Ammunition is still being produced, and production will either increase to meet demand, or demand will drop off. If this "panic" gets people to keep more ammunition on hand, it is a good thing.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent a link to this Wikipedia article: Equipment of a combat medic.

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My sincere thanks to the dozens of readers that renewed their voluntary Ten Cent Challenge subscriptions subscriptions today, or signed up for new ones. It is gratifying to see that so many of you feel that they get your daily ten cents worth from SurvivalBlog!


Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

The SurvivalBlog thread on wound-clotting agents got me thinking about this subject and its apparent lack of dissemination amongst the “survivalist” community. I decided I would write about it. I know the recent military vets will probably have heard about it, and some (most) will have practiced it. Many will have used it in action.

For the record, I received Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC or TC3) training in the beginning of the program, so any new information I have gleaned since 2002 is based on studying the protocols as presented in the SOF Medical Handbook and the Ranger Medics Handbook that have been published in the last three years. Prior to that, I was combat lifesaver qualified in 1994 and 1996, and received my EMT-I license in 1997 which has since not been renewed. Eventually I intend to get my EMT-P.

The TC3 program began in the late 1990s under the auspices of the U.S. Navy’s Medical Bureau for combat first-aid training for special warfare units like the SEALs. It quickly spread throughout USSOCOM and then to the rest of the military from there.

The TC3 is broken down into three areas, or phases, of care. These are Care Under Fire (CUF), Tactical Field Care (TFC) , and Combat Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) Care. I will discuss the first two, since the third is largely the provence of actual medical doctors and surgeons and is beyond my area of expertise.

1) Care Under Fire

The underlying tenet of the CUF phase is that, if you’re being shot at, your focus should be on killing the enemy, not playing doctor. The only real concerns at this point should be returning effective fire at the ABC-type exam as is usually taught in civilian first-aid courses is not conducive to the continued survival of either the casualty, the medic, or the rest of the unit at this time.

If the casualty is capable of continuing the fight, he should be fighting, not worrying about his boo-boo. It may also be critical for the medic or corpsman to continue to engage the enemy. The following quote, from a doctrinal publication on the subject, refers to this need.

“It may also be necessary for the combat medic or corpsman to help suppress hostile fire before attempting to provide care. This can be especially true in small-unit operations where friendly firepower is limited and every man’s weapon may be needed to prevail.” (Emphasis added-a survivalist group certainly falls under that category!)

If hostile fire is not immediately suppressed, it may be necessary to move the casualty to cover though. One of the critical elements of TC3 training then is the importance of expedient casualty transport.

The Basic Management Plan for Care Under Fire looks like this:

1) Expect the casualty to remain engaged as a combatant if appropriate.

2) Return fire as directed or required.

3) Try to avoid being shot yourself (for the medic/aidman/corpsman)

4) Try to prevent the casualty from sustaining further wounds (move him out of the line of fire if he is unable to do so himself.).

5) Defer worrying about airway management tasks until after the fight. (The risk of the casualty choking to death on his own blood or teeth is significantly less than the risk that he will die if the unit is overrun by the enemy. Worry about killing the enemy first.)

6) Stop any life-threatening hemorrhage. Don’t worry about cuts and scrapes (or flesh wounds—said in best Monty Python voice). All wounds should be dressed with a simple pressure dressing initially (I like the Israeli Battlefield Dressings that are issued). If that is insufficient to stop the blood-loss, then wounds on the torso should have a HemCon agent applied, while wounds to the extremities are treated with a tourniquet.

7) Communicate with the casualty throughout the treatment process. Offer reassurance and encouragement (note to self—“Suck it up p**sy!” is not reassurance or encouragement). Explain the actions you are taking (this serves the double purpose of reassuring the casualty and allowing you to remember the proper course of action without skipping anything critical.).

8) Direct the casualty to return to the fight once treatment is “complete,” if this is possible and/or necessary.

Pretty self-explanatory, right? In the middle of the fight, the only concerns should be, finishing the fight, stopping life-threatening blood-loss, and keeping anyone else from being wounded.

2) Tactical Field Care

The first thing to look for in the Tactical Field Care phase is an altered mental state. An armed combatant with an altered mental state is a serious risk to others in his unit if he should employ the weapon inappropriately (such as mistaking the platoon leader for an enemy soldier/combatant…). He should be disarmed immediately.

Under field conditions, there are four primary causes for an altered mental state. These include Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), pain, shock (possibly from blood-loss or simple emotional shock), and analgesic pain medication.

The Tactical Field Care phase is relegated to situation requiring medical attention, under field conditions, when there is no direct threat from enemy fire. Whether during patrolling missions, in a mission-support site, or following the cessation of hostilities on the battlefield, the Tactical Field Care takes over when the bullets are not flying.

As such, for the survivalist, the Tactical Field Care (TFC) phase will be the most commonly applied medical protocol if the TC3 program is adopted as a group’s standard for medical training (a course of action which I highly recommend).

The Basic Management Plan for the Tactical Field Care Phase

1) Casualties with an altered mental state should be disarmed immediately.

2) Airway Management

a) Unconscious without airway obstruction: (i.e. knocked out)

· Chin-lift or jaw-thrust maneuver as taught in standard first-aid courses

· Nasopharyngeal Airway should be inserted if the chin-lift and jaw-tilt are insufficient. (I have discussed this with both an attorney and a medical doctor. Both have assured me that because NPAs fall under Airway Management and are not surgical procedures that, as long as you have been trained in their application, such use is covered under the “Good Samaritan Laws” of most states. I know it is in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Utah.)

· Place the casualty in a recovery position, as taught in standard first-aid courses.

b) Conscious or Unconscious Casualty with an airway obstruction or an impending airway obstruction (i.e. he got shot in the jaw or mouth and cannot breath through the mouth, throat is crushed, etc):

· Chin-Lift or Jaw-Thrust maneuver as above.

· Nasopharyngeal Airway as above.

· Place casualty in recovery position as above.

· If these are insufficient, a surgical cricothyroidotomy may be indicated, (using a local anesthetic such as lidocaine, if the casualty is conscious). This would fall under the category of a surgical procedure and would not be protected under the “Good Samaritan Laws” even if you received specific training on it during a military TC3 course of instruction. As such, I cannot recommend it as a course of action for survivalists in any but TEOTWAWKI-type situations. However, I will tell you that if it were someone I cared about, in the sort of environment I am typically in, such as 90 miles from town, down a snow-covered gravel or dirt road, and I knew that a surgical “cric” was going to save their life….I’d do the cric. That having been said though, I’ve had numerous classes on the procedure and know how. I would still feel uncomfortable though.

3) Breathing

· Be aware of the risk of a tension pnuemothorax if the casualty has suffered from a trauma injury to the torso and is in respiratory distress. If a tension pneumothorax occurs, treat with a needle thoracostomy, also known as a “chest punch,” (No, it does not involve striking the casualty with your closed fist.)This also involves a surgical procedure and is not protected under the “Good Samaritan Law” even if you received proper formal training during a military TC3 course. The same issues apply to it (across the board) as to the surgical cric.

· Treat sucking chest wounds with a Vaseline-treated gauze dressing, covered with tape. Place the casualty in a seated position and monitor for tension pneumothorax.

4) Bleeding

· Assess the casualty for previously undiscovered hemorrhage and treat any unresolved bleeding injuries.

· Assess for the discontinuation of tourniquet treatments following the application of a HemCon agent and/or pressure dressings.

5) Intravenous Therapy

· Start an 18-gauge IV/saline lock if indicated.

6) Fluid Resuscitation

· Assess for hemorrhagic shock ( altered mental state in the absence of a head injury, and/or weak or absent peripheral pulse along the radial artery are the best field expedient indicators of hemorrhagic shock).

a) If the casualty does not appear to be in shock, no IV fluid resuscitation is indicated. Instead, provide fluids orally if thirst is indicated by the patient.

b) If the casualty is in shock, the .mil response is a 500mL bolus of Hextend, then repeat after 30 minutes if the casualty is still in shock. The doctrinal literature indicates that you should not provide more than 1000mL of Hextend under field conditions. For the survivalist unable to procure Hextend, saline solution or a lactated Ringer’s solution may be an adequate alternative, since both were used prior to the introduction of Hextend into the military care program.

· Continued efforts towards fluid resuscitation must be considered in light of the logistical and tactical concerns of the risk of further casualties when continuing the mission. In other words, don’t waste IV fluid if you don’t think you’re going to be able to save the casualty, because you might need them later for someone who can be saved!

· If a casualty with TBI has no peripheral pulse (but does display a carotid pulse), resuscitate with IV fluids to restore the peripheral pulse.

7) Dress all known wounds with appropriate bandaging. This is an opportunity to remove HemCon agents and/or pressure dressings and tourniquets, in order to care for the wounds with more reliable semi-permanent dressings that may be required to stay in place for an extended duration. Check for additional, previously undiscovered wounds and injuries at this time as well.

8) Provide analgesia pain relief as necessary and available. (Note: providing medication to someone is called “practicing medicine without a license.” It is severely frowned upon by the medical professions, the court systems, and if you do so, you may be setting yourself up for serious legal problems, including imprisonment. Forewarned is forearmed. It may also be frowned upon by the casualty if you provide the wrong medication and they die from it, just sayin’…)

a) If the casualty is capable of continuing the mission and/or fight, the doctrinal response (in my literature, it may have changed recently, do your research) is 50mg of Rofecoxib by mouth and 1000mg of Acetaminophen by mouth, every six hours. Since I do not have access to Rofecoxib, I have discussed the issue with several Special Forces Medics, two SF-qualified physician’s assistants, and three civilian medical doctors. Their unanimous response was, “Give them the Acetaminophen and a couple shots of whiskey. It’ll do.” Thus, my non-TEOTWAWKI solution is just that. Be forewarned however, that alcohol will thin the blood, so individuals with significant blood loss should be provided whiskey only under the strictest of circumstances, if at all. In a TEOTWAWKI-type scenario, I believe I MAY be able to procure Rofecoxib or a similar suitable analgesic if I move quickly and surely.

b) If the casualty is unable to continue the mission, the doctrinal answer for the .mil is to provide 5mg of morphine intravenously, and reassess in ten minutes. Continue providing the same dose every 10 minutes, as necessary to control pain, until the casualty is exfiltrated. Assess for respiratory distress . Treat further with Promethazine, 25mg intravenously or intramuscularly, very four hours. Since there is no way in Hell I can legally procure morphine, I am currently unequipped to provide this portion of care. Should TEOTWAWKI occur, I will either procure morphine immediately, from a pharmacy, or I will procure a similar opium-based product that is regularly available in this country without a medical license (yes, I’m talking about heroin, which will probably still be available…) Please note that I am not, in any way, shape, or form, advocating armed robbery of a pharmacy, even in TEOTWAWKI. I know of three or four licensed pharmacists that have assured me, in the event of a TEOTWAWKI-type of collapse, they would much rather provide me the pharmaceuticals I need/want than have them fall into the hands of recreational drug addicts. The discussion of possible barter, should that occur has already taken place.

9) Splint any fractured bones and recheck pulse. Pretty self-explanatory, although I will note the following. While I do have the knowledge and equipment to improvise splints in the event of a severe medical emergency, my aid bag contains several (five at last inspection) SAM splints. These are a valuable tool that I recommend every survivalist include in their aid bag. It beats the holy living hell out of trying to scrounge up an improvised, field-expedient solution in the midst of an emergency.

10) Prophylactic antibiotic treatment is recommended for all open combat wounds. Even if your bandages and dressings are sterile, I can assure you, neither the surface of the casualties skin, his clothing, or the injury-causing instrument were sterile. Treat any open wounds as infected.

· The latest manuscript I have that recommends a specific antibiotic, indicates Gatifoxacin by mouth (400mg daily).

· If the casualty is unable to take the Gatifoxacin orally, the doctrine calls for a slow push over the course of 3-4 minutes of 2g of cefotetan intravenously, or intramuscularly. Again, I don’t currently have access to these, and disbursing medicine is practicing medicine without a license. However, I have in the past, treated myself with prophylactic antibiotic, using Penicillin G intramuscularly with no ill effects. There is a long history of self-aid amongst agricultural workers in the U.S. using medications packaged for veterinary supply. That may be a reliable source of antibiotics for survivalists, as Ragnar Benson points out in several of his books, including “The Survivalist’s Medicine Chest” and “Do-It-Yourself Medicine.” If this is a course of action you choose to follow, make sure you do your research prior to needing to apply it! For instance, LA-200 is a common antibiotic provided to cattle intramuscularly. Unfortunately, it is an oil-based medication and has been known to cause severe side-effects in humans…So, know your meds and know what you are providing!

11) Communicate with the Patient. The same principles apply regarding this as in the CUF phase. Talk your way through every thing you do. It will assist you in getting it right.

12) Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. I suggest that everyone should complete an updated CPR program, as provided by the American Heart Association and/or the American Red Cross. You are far more likely to utilize your medical aid training and knowledge during run-of-the-mill daily activities than you are to provide the TC3 level of care. That having been said, I feel obligated to include the last bit of information in my literature regarding CPR. “Resuscitation on the battlefield for victims of blast or penetrating trauma who have no pulse, no ventilations, and no other signs of life will not be successful and should not be attempted.” While this does not exempt you from the moral obligation to provide aid in daily life, pre-WTSHTF, it may be sensible to consider the implications of that statement when dealing with triage during major accidents and calamities, such as multiple vehicle accidents and/or terrorist attacks/active shooter situations.

For survivalists interested in further TC3 training, several of the major shooting schools, such as Tactical Response and Gunsite (I believe), offer Tactical Medicine courses for non-medical personnel, which rely heavily on the TC3 protocols.

For those interested in developing or purchasing a TC3-type aid bag or blow-out kit, there are several companies manufacturing them. I am personally fond of Tactical Response Gear’s Ventilated

Chad S. spotted this: Lower home appraisals appear to be up; Deals get killed as foreclosures, short sales make valuing property difficult. JWR's Comment: The continuing waves of house foreclosures are bound to ratchet down both sales prices and in turn assessed valuations. This will lead to more state budget crises. The bottom line: If they can't raise your home' assessed value, then they'll raise property tax tax rates. A corollary exists with income taxes. As more people lose their jobs or have their payroll hours cut back, then states will be forced to raise income tax rates. The 50 states will balance their budgets, because unlike the Federal government, they can't create money out of thin air! To delay taxation, shelter your assets in tangibles. On a related note, MM sent this:
Montana's big sky views become bigger tax burdens. The lesson here: Avoid living in a "resort" county with over-priced property!

Reader Keith B. sent a link to a news article that should serve as a warning flag: U.S. Treasuries Post Worst Performance Among Sovereign Markets

GG flagged this: "Mystery buyers" take $500 billion of Treasuries. Who do they think they're fooling?

Items from The Economatrix:

Iceland bank deal increases national debt by 40% of GDP to 130%

2009 Bankruptcies Total 1.4 Million, Up 32%

Manufacturing Reports Bolsters Hopes for Recovery

Global Bear Rally of 2009 Will End as Japan's Hyperinflation Rips Economy to Pieces

Bernanke Insists the Financial Crisis Was Not The Fed's Fault

Panic room saved artist Kurt Westergaard from Islamist assassin. (Mentioned by numerous blog readers.) Every home and retreat should have a stout room that can be a place of temporary refuge against home invasions.

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Dale W. was the first of several readers to mention this: Court upholds police pointing gun at lawful carrier. [JWR Adds: This is a bad legal precedent, but the main underlying problem is prevailing attitudes. If you don't live in a region where open carry is legal, and where concealed carry is considered normal, then you are living in the wrong state--or perhaps in an over-populated part of an otherwise good state. Vote with your feet!]

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JK recommended this piece over at Market Skeptics: 2010 Food Crisis for Dummies

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Rustlers ride wide open range of Great Basin. (Thanks to G.S. for the link.)

"The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." - U. S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, in the Public Utilities Commission v. Pollack decision, 1952

Monday, January 4, 2010

I post one and only one formal reminder announcement each year about renewing Ten Cent Challenge subscriptions and this is it. I don't do endless whiney PBS-style pledge drives.

My sincere thanks to the less than 1% of SurvivalBlog readers that have made voluntary subscription contributions to cover our bandwidth costs, and to keep SurvivalBlog running. (The alternative would be me shutting down the blog and going back to a salaried corporate technical writing job, so I am very appreciative of your contributions!)

By the way, if you are a "Secret Squirrel" type, then you can send cash or postage stamps (preferably "Forever" Liberty Bell postage stamps) to:

James Wesley, Rawles
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845-0303 USA

If you send your donation in cash, then please round down to $36, or round up to $37. If you send $36.50 including two quarters, then the postal service will charge you an extra 72 cents for having an overweight "non-machine sortable" envelope! Oh, and if you do send cash, be sure to wrap it in paper so that it cannot be seen through the envelope. Thanks!

The next thing that I would like to cover is mode of transportation. When the society collapses more likely you will have to leave your home. Having a 4x4 vehicle that is equipped with everything that you need to survive would be everyone’s choice for travel but that sometimes might not be possible. In the broken society there is no law. Everyone and everybody is a target. Traveling in the vehicle on the road or off the road is extremely risky. First, vehicles make noise and everyone can hear you. Second, vehicles are big and they can be seen. It is just way too hard to travel in the vehicle and not to be spotted. In a vehicle you will be ambushed by groups and the individuals. One of the reasons for this is that there will not be enough gas and just you traveling in the vehicle will make everybody think that you are a rich target and you will be attacked. If you plan on traveling long distances, you will be ambushed and if you might survive one or two ambushes but you will not be able to survive every ambush that you might encounter. Like I mentioned before, when the society collapses, there are no laws and everyone makes their own laws any way they like it. In Bosnia there were armed individuals and groups that would shoot at the vehicles just for fun to see how quick they can stop it and trust me, two M53s (Yugo version of German MG-42 light machineguns) supported with several AKs will stop most of the civilian vehicles very quickly. Traveling in the vehicle would be easiest way, but this might be putting yours and your family lives in danger but when the times comes, every individuals will have to decide for themselves on how they will travel and they will not have a lot of time to make this decision, so plan ahead.

My preferred method to travel was on horseback. The horse is quiet and it can go across terrain that not even 4x4 can. The horses also don’t require you to carry around jugs of spare gasoline since their food grows all around you. I would also recommend traveling on the horse back in the area that is covered with anti-personnel mines (minefields). Believe it or not, horses are extremely smart animals and sometimes they know where not to step. If your horse does step on a mine, you have a lot more chance to survive since his body will create some buffer between you and the blast and might give you another chance. The horse will also hear way before you any movement or any signs of life and if you know your horse, you will be able to read these early warning signals.

Since I am talking about animals, next thing that I would like to cover is food that they provide. While I was on the move, I was never long enough in one spot to grow a garden, but catching an animal for meal was another story. Good part of Bosnia is mountainous and wooded area, and there was some wild life to hunt at beginning but later on, this has changed and it was harder and harder to find wild life. First thing that I would like to recommend is to have some kind of small caliber weapon for taking small game. Shooting a small rabbit with 8 mm Mauser does not leave you a lot of meat to eat. Also learn to set traps for small animals. In certain parts you could hunt with your firearms but then you might be somewhere where you can’t shoot since you don’t know where exactly you are or what is around you. Another thing that you should learn is how to field dress an animal. I understand that a lot of people hunt and know how to do this but there are also people who have never hunted or seen an animal be field dressed and just seeing this might make them sick. Another reason for knowing how to field dress and animal is that you want to get maximum amount of food from it. You might not get to many chances to take an animal and when you do use everything from it that can be used.

The next thing that I want to cover is clothing that you wear. Most of survival oriented people, including myself, would wear some kind of military camouflage uniforms for several good reasons. Some of the reasons are durability, most of the military uniforms are quality made and will outlast a lot of civilian clothing. Pockets to store things since uniforms have a lot of them in the right places. Blending in with natural backgrounds, since military uniforms are not made out of colors that stick out. Recognition of other members of your group by having all of the group members wearing same camouflage pattern. If you will wear military type of uniform, make sure that you have some civilian clothing with you as well. If you are captured by military, militia, armed renegades or anyone else, you will be treated as a combatant just because of the military clothing that you are wearing. Even if you are not armed it won’t help you out. I have personally witnessed a young man pay dearly just because he was wearing old Yugoslavian Army boots. The mentality of you enemy might be that you are a combatant if you show any interested in military equipment. So, if you are wearing military clothing be ready to lose it quickly and change in to something else. If you are captured in the middle of nowhere with any kind of uniform on and no other clothes to change in to, that could be bad for your health.

Another thing that I want to cover is one of the important pieces of your equipment, and that is flashlight. I had a low quality flashlight (I though it was good because there was nothing better on the market) and it died on me the first time it got wet. In the USA there is unlimited number of good quality flashlights so if you are going to have a flashlight make sure that you have a good one. And have backup one as well. Flashlight is a must have item and the cheap one will not last you long. This is true with any other equipment. I understand that times are hard and money is the issue for a lot of people but buying quality equipment will probably save you money in the long run since this equipment will usually last for the long time. One thing that I really wish I had was night vision device. Most people know the area that they live in and can move around that area in the middle of night without any problems, but when you end up in the different part of the country, and you can’t orient your self and is middle of the night, this can become challenging. Night vision would be tremendous help.

Although I previously mentioned bartering with ammunition, one other thing that I would like to mention to have for trading is cigarettes. I did not even think about this before things went bad but I was lucky to have a grandmother who smoked two packs a day and she always had several cartons of cigarettes stored. The smokers become so desperate that they will give you almost anything for a cigarette. I have see people in prison and refugee camps become so desperate that they would pick every leaf of all the trees in the yards, dried them, wrap them in the old news paper and smoke them. A lot of people got sick of this since they were smoking everything they could find.

The one topic that I would like to cover last and I think that this is one of the most important topics is what happens if you are captured prisoner. Humans are some of the worst animals and will commit atrocities that are far worst that any wild beast could do. And the worst part about this is that humans will do it for no good reason and that they will find humor in at while they are torturing someone. Animals kill because they are in fear, protecting their families or hunt for food but we, humans, are the ones that will do it for no good reason. I was captured as a prisoner and have promised to my self that if I survive I will never become a prisoner in a society with no laws again. After the war I have moved to USA and since then have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans both as a soldier with elite unit of US Army and as a private contractor and during my deployments I did not know if I will survive the deployments but I did know that I will never again be captured. This is something that every individual needs to think about. If society collapses and you are captured, you will be at the mercy of your captors, who might not have any mercy. There wont be laws and rights to protect you and nobody will be there that you can call for help or complain to. I hope that I was able to provide at least some useful information for the readers and gave them some ideas. Keep your powder dry. - The Bosnian Survivor

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I have owned my retreat for some years and as unbelievable as it may sound, I found a water well that I didn't know I had. When I bought the land in the 1990s, I knew that there had been an old house there at one time, but assumed that they had either used a cistern, or drew water from the stream that runs through the property. However, I found the well. It had an old Gould's 1HP pump at the end of 120 ft. of 2" galvanized pipe. The well had been capped for years, or so it looked when I opened it. Incidentally, there is water at about 60 ft. down. There is no record at the county [offices], nor with the local water management board, for this well. I do not intend to report this find either. They know about the well I drilled a few years ago when we

A question: How can I best develop this well for use and still maintain strict OPSEC? My retreat is shielded from a county road by a large grove of trees, so from the road nobody sees anything, not the house, the barn or anything! The well is about a half mile from the county road in a grove of trees.

One bit of advice: Recruit a veterinarian, physician or even a dentist into your Group if at all possible. They are out there, and are not all of us Liberal Socialists.

Regards, - Robert F., MD

JWR Replies: Congratulations on your find! If you use a poly service line, you can install a well pump by yourself. (The pipe is flexible and fairly lightweight. Since the prices of photovoltaic panels have dropped dramatically in the past two years, you should probably go ahead and put in a PV system, with inverter, to power an AC well pump. (The line loss for a DC well pump hanging at 100 feet would be tremendous.) Bob at Ready Made Resources (one of our advertisers) does free-of-charge consulting on alternative power system specifications. They can let you know how many panels you'll need, the inverter specifications, et cetera. If you install cistern for gravity flow to your house, you can even install a PV system without any batteries, that is simplicity itself: when there is sun it pumps, and when there isn't, it doesn't. (A float switch will stop the pump whenever the cistern is full.)

Mr. Rawles:
What I'm about to write about really happened.

In 2003 I had an apartment that got broken into when I was at work. At the time I did not own much at the time and had very few valuables. After much thought and not coming up with any unique hiding places, I decided to keep my Beretta pistol, credit cards, cash, checks and so forth in an old liquor box with a pile of "old but clean" underwear on top of the box. The plan worked. My apartment was ransacked and you guessed it, the only box not touched was the one with the old clean underwear on top on the box. (I only had some prescription medication and $30 in spare change stolen) I do not mean to sound disgusting, but I used the old and clean underwear to clean my pistol with so that there were stains on them, and that just amplified the effect.

If anyone wishes to try this unorthodox operational security technique, I recommend using old school white Hanes Briefs. clean your guns with the underwear too. (it will also discourage friends from wanting to shoot your guns also) Keep the label on the underwear facing outward so its more noticeable.

I have a house now with a monitored security system, reinforced locks and some other modifications including hurricane shutters to discourage and slow down intruders. I have to admit, my brand new Kimber 1911 .45 that I keep near my bed has a couple of pairs of underwear on it just in case my security is breached. - Somewhere on the Gulf Coast

Influenza Pandemic Update:

Ukraine Fatalities Spike to 675

News from China: Survey helps to combat H1N1 spread

WHO: Public health significance of H1N1 mutations unclear

2009-2010 Influenza Season--Most recent synopsis

GG flagged this interesting piece: Can farming save Detroit?

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Reported, in all places, The Los Angeles Times: Ron Paul's ideas no longer fringe; With the economy still struggling, the lawmaker's libertarian views are getting serious attention. (Thanks to Andrew B. for the link.)
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Paul D. sent an interesting article that compares ammunition to money.

"A danger foreseen is half avoided." - The words in a Chinese fortune cookie recently handed to SurvivalBlog reader David W. in Colorado

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Introductory Note from JWR: Warning! The following article is presented for educational purposes only. As previously discussed in SurvivalBlog, using vinyl ether or chloroform for anesthesia can be very tricky. Both can induce deep levels of sedation much more quickly than desired. Thus, at a minimum can can compromise the patient's airway, and thereby very possibly kill the patient. So unless you have both the equipment and the regularly-practiced expertise to safely intubate and extubate your patient, then do not use vinyl ether or chloroform. Chloroform is also a known carcinogen. Generally, local anesthetics are the best choices for austere medicine! You should only consider using a general anesthetic when there are absolutely no other options, and when aid from trained medical professionals is absolutely unavailable!

Merry Christmas Jim,
I'd like to add something to your knowledge concerning "do it yourself anesthetics": chloroform.

Be advised: chloroform is carcinogenic and should only be used if no safer alternatives (including no sedation and no operation) are available. Synthesis should only be carried out with regard to proper safety procedures (ventilation, eye protection, ...) and consideration for any pertinent laws. I am not a doctor, I do not have any formal medical training. I do however hold a degree in chemistry, I have synthesized chloroform and used it to carry out extractions of organic compounds.

Chloroform has long been used as an anesthetic as well as being a common chemical in many laboratories. It went out of use in medical practice as its carcinogenic nature became known. Yes, this stuff will increase your risk of contracting cancer and should only be used after due consideration. The decision to go ahead and use this on an elderly person will be taken differently than when dealing with a youth for

I am not a doctor, I will not advise you on how to use chloroform. I will however teach you how to manufacture it. The easiest way to manufacture chloroform is by reacting a methyl ketone with chlorine dissolved in an aqueous environment. In plain English: by mixing bleach with acetone. "Bleach" being any plain hypochlorite bleach solution, will react with acetone and form Acetic acid and chloroform. Chloroform will separate from the solution and float on top. (Theoretically, methyl ethyl ketone [aka 2-Butanone; ethyl methyl ketone, or MEK] could be used instead of acetone, I have no experience with this)

The purest product can be obtained by taking a small amount of bleach and slowly (while stirring) adding drops of acetone in solution until no more chloroform forms. (this minimizes the loss of acetone through evaporation which poses a potential fire hazard) The top layer can be off quite well, but it will be difficult to get every drop without spilling some concentrated acetic acid over as well. A better separation can be accomplished with a separatory funnel, if available.

The amount of each chemical can be difficult to calculate in advance as the purity/concentration of bleach is not a constant, if it is even accurately labeled. There are differences between sodium- ,potassium-and calcium hypochlorite to take into account. You need (ideal ratios) 3.8 grams of sodium hypochlorite bleach for every gram of acetone, or 30 grams per 10 ml of acetone, this would yield roughly 5 ml of chloroform. You will need a sizable amount of bleach to produce enough chloroform to keep someone sedated for any period of time.

The produced chloroform should be washed with water to flush out as much bleach and acetic acid as possible. Mix chloroform with half its volume of water, stir well and pour off the water. Do this twice and your chloroform is ready for storage or use.

"A text-book of practical organic chemistry" by Vogel Lists a more advanced method of producing Chloroform. A web search on "Vogel chemistry" should allow you to review the book in .pdf format on one of the many sites which host it. I would wholeheartedly advise a couple of decent chemistry books in every survival library (aseptics, medication, explosives, glue, dye, ... your modern life is supported by practical chemistry, do you know anything about it?)

Chloroform can be used as an anesthetic by a qualified anesthesiologist. In addition, it may be used as a recreational drug by those truly daft or already dying and therefore may qualify as bartering tender.
A far better use is its use as an apolar solvent. Ether can be used to extract organic compounds from biological matter. For example: the aroma's from flowers, natural dyes and alkaloïds. (Alkaloïds including the active compounds from narcotic and/or medicinal plants.) Generally, the chloroform is distilled off after the extraction is complete, preferably under vacuum to preserve the extracted compound.

The acetic acid can be purified by boiling off any remaining acetone and most water. There may be small amounts of bleach present. This concentrated acetic acid can be diluted to make strong vinegar. I suppose this vinegar may be useful as a cleaning agent. I doubt it could be considered food safe and useful for food preservation or preparation. Dehydration to yield acetic anhydride would be a chemists preferred destination, but is highly illegal under current drug precursor regulations.

(The following is not an exhaustive list of the hazards associated with chloroform)
Chloroform is carcinogenic and contact should be avoided! Do not inhale the fumes or ingest, avoid skin contact.
Chloroform is relatively fire-safe, making it suited for many extractions as it can be distilled off (though presently largely replaced by alternatives)

Chloroform must be kept away from light, ideally in an amber glass bottle in a cool room not prone to extreme temperature shifts.

I'd also a bit on chloral hydrate as well, but aside from me not having any practical experience with its synthesis, that sort of information may attract the wrong kind of attention (criminals as well as those who hunt them). Still, if you need a powerful sleeping aid post SHTF, any "lab" chemist should be able to synthesize some for you if you bring alcohol, sulphuric acid, salt and a source of electricity or hypochlorite powder. Happy new year and many a year after! - Hawkins

Hello Mr. Rawles,
The article by David W. on data storage raised excellent points, and is sure to get people thinking about an often-overlooked subject..

For the prepper on a budget, there are a number of avenues to secure your data that won’t break the bank. While it may be impractical to have several NEW laptops in your stash of supplies, there are plenty of good, used laptops available that will fit the bill nicely. You don’t need a powerhouse just to read your survival documents, and having one or more spares means fewer eggs in one basket. I’ll focus on laptops as the item to stock, due to their low power consumption and compact size. A laptop is a lot more practical to shield against EMP and store compared to a desktop PC, so you are more likely to accomplish the task.

When you purchase your used laptop, have your computer friend (you have one, right?) perform a clean install of your favorite Operating System after wiping the hard drive, to ensure you have a clean system. Apply all the updates, and install a standard set of programs. My standard “laptop for storage” installation has the free OpenOffice suite for word processing and spreadsheet documents, and the free utilities Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader for PDFs. You might find that your computer friend is open to barter, thus minimizing a potentially expensive activity. I would personally fall over myself to help someone for a fresh Pumpkin Pie or six pack of quality Root Beer.

Once the machine is set up for general use, store it away in EMP-proof packaging as discussed previously on SurvivalBlog.

You may wish to save all of your data, as David W. proposed using several excellent methods. In the case of just storing a laptop to review your survival information, you might get away with just using USB memory sticks, a.k.a. Flash Drives. These will also receive the EMP protection treatment. The storage method you choose will be determined by the amount of space your files take up. If you are just storing a copy of all your SHTF reference documents (saved in PDF form for portability) you might only need a 4 or 8 Gigabyte flash drive per stored laptop. Flash drives are inexpensive enough that you could keep extras in your bug out bags, vehicle, cache, key chain, and retreat. Redundancy is important here too. You can have five copies of your docs at home, and if your house burns down, there goes all your data. Mail flash drive copies of your survival docs to friends or family members for your own safekeeping, as well as quietly providing others with vital information if the SHTF.

If your plans include bugging out or having another secure location in case your retreat is overrun, having a stored laptop with all your reference material could be a lifesaving decision. A copy of your critical reference docs on a key chain might be just as useful as a multi-tool in the right circumstances. Remember, half of knowledge is knowing where to find knowledge. - J.T.C.

Dear James,
Thank you for posting David W's article "Preparing for Digital Doomsday". There are two important issues which need to be added to the topic.

1. Conventional hard disks, floppy disks, and magnetic tape all suffer from the same vulnerability -- they will lose their data over time even under the best of circumstances. This isn't a manufacturing defect but
physics. All of these media record data by forcing the microscopic magnetic domains to line up in one of two orientations to signify a '1' or a '0'.

Over time, these microscopic domains become randomized through entropy. When this happens, the data is lost. In the case of a hard disk, this is delayed by the data being re-written after it is read. However, if the computer is not used and the data is not re-written, even the data on a hard disk will eventually be lost.

2. It was report a few years back that a large store of information that NASA had gathered from early space probes was "lost" because they no longer had the machines to read the old tapes. The tape machines used to read and write the tapes had become obsolete and were scrapped. No one had given a thought to the data created with these machines, and there no longer exists any off-the-shelf solution for reading them.

The magnetic media problem can be easily solved by using write once CD-ROMs or DVDs. They are simple, cheap, and do not suffer from the magnetic domain problem. The downside to CDs/DVDs is the second issue: will there be machines later that can read them? The only way to address that problem is to keep aware of changing technology and the quantity of data that must be retained. When there is a new, non-magnetic technology, you will need to upgrade and transfer all of the data you need to keep. Best Regards, - Bear in the Sierra


A couple of minor points:

Netbooks: cost comparative to laptops, and they have a long battery life (lower power CPUs). I've not tried, but they could probably be maintained with a photovoltaic panel. There is a wee one with the
[PV] panel built in
. Netbooks are about half the footprint of a typical laptop. Consider using SD chips for small form-factor storage.

Archiving the blog: Are you accounting for the noise ratio? I mean, it's a great site, but not everything written is required. :-)

I'm putting together a family album using Lulu Press this year. I took the first eight years of marriage and three kids and putting the best shots. That should make for a rugged alternative to ye olde photo

Also consider the options shown here. - Ben


James Wesley:
This was a very good article to get people thinking about their digital security preparedness. A couple of other thoughts. Assuming power goes down, the internet will also go down with it. Local backups will be imperative, as anything you have stored remote via network will not be accessible. In the event of EMP, any local computers, hard drives and disc readers (i.e. CD-ROM or DVD) will be at risk, as well. The best backup will be on archival CD-ROM and DVD. These are impervious to EMP and remote access problems. Archival means what it says; these are special discs designed with a gold backing, the CDs should last up to 300 years, the DVDs up to 100 years. The cheaper aluminum discs you buy in bulk at your local electronics store will not last anywhere near as long (i.e. 3-10 years).

If you have valuable digital items that are irreplaceable, i.e. family photos, documents or business records, they should be archived regularly. You should keep multiple sets of back ups and store them off site or in secure, fire and water proof underground storage. Just as you would "cache" supplies in different places, you should cache your data. I send discs with non-confidential data to my relatives in 3 or 4 places around the country -- this increases the odds of survival of the data.

Be very careful when you handle the discs, as finger prints, labels and non-archival marking pens can damage the surface. Note: the shiny back of the disc is where the data is written. The clear side is thick to prevent scratches from obscuring the data because the laser focuses at the back where the pits are written, not on the surface that can be scratched. Other than handling by the edges or center hole, discs should be stored in Tyvek sleeves or a jewel case in a cool (40-68F) environment. I recommend waterproof storage boxes, as well.

At some point after TSHTF, the consumers and businesses that remain will want to be able to read these 12 centimeter standard discs, so there is a very good chance you will be able to obtain a way to read them. - CK

Bobbi-Sue sent a link to some crunch leading indicators with individual and regional railroads in accessible graphs.

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GPS-led travel goes amiss; Three Oregon parties rescued

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Super C. sent a link to some informative text and video about about unexpected immersion in cold water.

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Reader Mike O. sent us this: Packing Heat in Helsinki; Why do Finns own so many guns? This piece in the liberally-biased Slate, fails to mention several key facts. Among these: 1.) Although firearms ownership is widespread in Finland, its violent street crime rate is lower than in almost "gun-free" England. 2.) The journalist attributes the predominance of gun ownership to the hunting culture. This is partially true, but they failed to mention that many Finns consider private gun ownership "invasion insurance." I guess the Slate writer never heard about the Winter War, and 3.) The two mass shootings that he mentioned were aberrations. Finns are largely peaceable folk. And whether the folks at Slate want to admit it or not, being well-armed helps keep their society peaceable.

"I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine.
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd." - John 10:14-18 (KJV)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

One subject I've not seen mentioned recently is that of data recovery and security. As a proponent of various disaster recovery plans for large companies during my tenure as in information technology auditor I'd like to propose a few ideas to the readers to increase the chances of keeping data post-TEOTWAWKI. No one plan works for everyone and your mileage may vary.

First off we all generate lots more data then we think. The most common insurance against loss of a home PC is regularly maintained backups to some form of storable media like DVD-r’s. However, in a post-TEOTWAWKI world we might not be able to count on having functional hardware to restore to on the other side of the crisis. The decision to attempt to maintain digital data must first be made. Assembling your family photos and all of the documents will most likely result in a heavy cumbersome item to store and/or move. Printing the entire 2009 year of this very blog results in quite a stack of paper. Keeping a for each monthly archive results in 12 megabytes of data - a very tiny amount to manage when we think of data in terms of gigabytes. Indeed assuming the same amount of content, about 66 years of monthly printouts of survival blog can fit on one CD-ROM, about 400 years on a single DVD-R.

Maintaining a digital store of data of your records, photos, videos and other media has its ups and downs. On the plus side you can store an enormous volume of material (you can even scan your entire paper file) on a small device such as a laptop or external drive. These items are fairly easy to grab and go - and they can be copied for redundancy to fairly inexpensive devices for backup purposes. The downside is that power is required, they are vulnerable to EMP, and in the event of total loss you don’t have a scrap of paper to rely upon. Even after scanning your papers to digital format, be sure to keep the most critical papers ready to go alongside your backup drive. It’s a big decision, however in my case I keep so much data that I’m going all out to preserve as much as possible. Ill lay out my strategy at the end of this article.

Supplying power is the key to using any digitally stored material post TEOTWWAKI. Laptops can require 10x less power than a typical desktop model. In my home office I use a desktop, but I frequently transfer all of the data to my laptop machine. That way I can grab my laptop and go if need be. Readers of Patriots may recall the use of a notebook for movie night years after the crunch. A solar charger and small inverter (175 watts or so) is generally sufficient to power a laptop with its 110/220 adapter. The prescient purchase of a 12 volt car charger for your laptop will save the inherent loss of running an inverter to step up to 120 VAC merely to convert it back down to around 12-14 volts DC. [JWR Adds: I agree! As I've previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, a DC to DC adapter is far more efficient than a DC-to-AC-to-DC solution, with an inverter! Ditto for simple battery charging of NiMH AA, C, D, and 9 VDC batteries! For those, use a DC-to-DC charging tray, available for RV accessory dealers, such as Camping World.]

Another machine type to consider is a Mini PC or Book PC – these are available – and quite small for a grab and go situation. They require a keyboard, mouse and display but otherwise are self contained. Personally I prefer a laptop but there are some other choices out there.

Battery life and survivability is reasonably good with modern laptop batteries. Their life can be prolonged in several ways. First off they generally hold three to five hundred cycles of charge and discharge. They do not suffer the 'memory effect' of prior types of NiMh and NiCd batteries. See this site for more information on prolonging Lithium type batteries. That said, the cell will last longer if it is not cycled very often. If at all possible, run the laptop from its power adapter and use the battery only once or twice a month. In this way you should be able to get more years of service. Spare batteries can be purchased as well.

Hardware survivability is the other key. Unless you have deep pockets, buying multiple notebooks for redundancy is out of the question. I'd rather have a backup M1A then a spare laptop any day of the week. That said there are certain parts you can purchase that greatly increase your chances. Whatever machine you have, acquire a spare hard disk drive. These are now so small and cheap and readily available on ebay. Note that spare internal hard drives for laptops differ from external USB drives. There are great advantages to having both spare internal hard disks for your laptop as well as a few external drives. Another consideration can be the new solid state hard disks which are less prone to failure with no moving parts.

Step one is a data inventory. Bear in mind that I use a desktop PC and transfer a copy of the data to my laptop frequently. In my case I am very diligent about storing every file in the My Documents folder. By right clicking on the “my documents” folder, and then clicking the 'general' tab, windows will tally up the count of files and give you their total size. In my case, 193 GB

The next step is to make backups. With some quick and dirty math I know that it is quite a chore to burn these to the 41 (193GB / 4.7GB per DVD) but every four months I do so, anyway.. There are many other strategies but this works for me. Other folks like to burn only the data since the last backup. (Do a web search on “incremental backup” for more information.)) These are stored in a CD wallet and placed with my backup materials. I rely on these in the event that hardware and backup drives are all a total loss, and will recover the data after the crisis ebbs. After sizing the "my documents" folder and any other data folders I want, i plug in an external hard drive ( in my case a 1TB free agent drive which cost about $99 ) and before going to sleep, I drag and drop the files to copy on to it. By morning the copy is complete. This is done weekly in my case. I can tolerate the loss of one week of data but no more. Finally, after the copy is complete, I delete the prior documents on my laptop. (Be careful – if you use the laptop to change a file you must save it to another location or risk it’s loss) , and copy the fresh full backup I just made from the external hard drive to the folder on the laptop, which takes several hours and should be done at night.

What I end up with is my desktop PC with all of its data. I do my work here. I also have an external drive ready to go with the most up to date data, and a laptop already loaded with the same information, ready to grab and go at a moment’s notice. Or in the event of extended power failure, while sheltering at home, I can power up the laptop using my small solar charger to use the information stored there. Finally I have a CD Wallet that has most of the data if no hardware is working. Lots of redundancy.

For more advanced users, or those who like to learn and are fearless to experiment, I highly recommend the Linux world. Go to Ubuntu.com and download the latest disc image and burn it to a CD-ROM. You end up with a bootable CD-ROM that loads linux instead of windows (and can be toyed with without making changes to your PC if you just want to poke around.) That has many technical capabilities that exceed the scope of this writing. Many distributions of linux can support booting from a USB Jump Drive – with the ability to see the hard drive in the machine. Since the hard drive has the moving parts it is most prone to failure. One Linux strategy that I employ is having a USB Jump drive bootable to linux and DVD backups of my most critical data. Truly the top 1,000 of my most favorite family photos, and scans of my most important works all fit on a single DVD-ROM. Using that strategy I can boot Linux from the USB Jump Drive and see my most crucial stored data on DVD-R’s without the use of any hard drive. Not one moving part to break.

Everyone should consider developing some strategy. I find the idea of a functioning computer loaded with survival information, literature, my personal information, family photos and archives and other critical data a comfortable thought for TEOTWAWKI. It is also a great item for entertainment, and hopefully after the crisis I can assist others in recovering their digital lives.

Flavio sent the linkio to a PDF on the Shadow Inventory of real estate.

Thanks to RVL for this: Banks take big hit to replenish FDIC funds

Jerry L. forwarded this item by Doug French from Mises Daily: Gold and Guns

G.S. in the State of Jefferson flagged this: Preparing for a 'nuclear event' - LA Daily News

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Wicket sent an item that illustrates the point that sometimes the most simple solutions are entirely effective and adequate: Man fights intruder after using 'beer can' alarm.

"Look at the means which a man employs; consider his motives; observe his pleasures. A man simply cannot conceal himself." - Confucius [Ware's translation, The Sayings of Confucius, p .26]

Friday, January 1, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 26 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 assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

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

Survival is more than just having supplies, it is possessing knowledge, and specifically knowledge about free market (Austrian) economics and banking. One of the fundamental reasons for past productive success in the United States is because there were less intrusive government regulations, a smaller court system, and the division of labor was less cumbersome. Individuals were able to gravitate to where there was a demand that wasn’t currently being met, and were able to meet it without Big Brother wanting to not just regulate the behavior, but also steal a piece of the action if it was successful. If TSHTF, then we will need to return to our roots and be able to analyze where we can be productive and learn to maximize our trading capabilities.

While it is important to be able to sustain yourself as referenced by the many survivalist tactics in this blog, it is also important to consider what would happen if there was a form of Anarchy, meaning “no rule.” Have you thought about what would happen if the roads were privatized (Read Walter Block’s The Privatization of Roads and Highways)? Privatized courts, police, military, and even bodies of water? How does someone take advantage of this? Each person attempting to become self sufficient needs to study the nuances of these ideas because they could shape the community both during and especially after society attempts to put itself back together. Most people think of the intact government handling these aforementioned parts of society, but what if there was no government for a while, what if the oceans were even privatized? What is someone claimed the air?

If society as we know of today ceased to exist, the individuals who thrive will be those who didn’t just prepare to survive, but those that also have a business product in high demand and is lowly supplied. Survivalists need to look into their skill set and figure out their specialty. Is it creating low lactose dairy via goats? Growing herbs and being an apothecary? Eventually all our supplies will run out unless we have something that we can produce and trade. My recommendation is that someone specialize in a product more so than a skill. People will have a lot of time to learn new trades, but they won’t necessarily have the ability to learn both a new skill and have the resources to produce the said product.

An example would be to create a bank. May sound extreme but how many people really understand how a bank works? How many have studied Murray Rothbard and the ills of fractional reserve banking? Most people today know more about their iPod than the soundness of their bank’s balance sheet because they think the magical FDIC is guaranteeing their deposit. This has led to people only caring about the interest paid on their savings or money market accounts and not on the actual bank. Well the FDIC doesn’t really have any money, it just has our money that is taken via taxation. I think when banking returns post collapse, people will not put a deposit in banks with the idea of getting an interest payment on their money. Instead, they may note that the FDIC has been abolished due to lack of taxation, and that the only reason for a bank to exist is to safeguard the money, and they will be willing to pay a fee to do so. I am sure that there will not be many survivalists who not only understand banking, but will have a structural set up to protect the deposits. The entrepreneur who creates a vault like residence, has an ethical reputation in the community, has ample gold, silver, and yes even copper pennies, will most likely be the choice for a bank.

Now this banker would understand that he can have two types of accounts, he can have 100% of his reserves backed by a commodity such as gold, or can accept long term deposits with the idea of lending them out to other business’s or for real estate ventures. I don’t think anyone after TSHTF will want their money lent out at first, but eventually as society re-organizes itself, some individuals may want to take risk and allow their deposits to be lent out. If you have the time, go to YouTube and type in “How an Economy Grows and Why it Doesn’t” by Irwin Schiff. (This is Peter Schiff’s father). Although it is in the form of a cartoon, it explains how a primitive economy on an island grows and is fantastic for not only educating children, but also adults who aren’t economically inclined.

The combination of gold and guns for a banker is important, but it should also be noted that the new money may in fact not be gold or silver. Although it most likely will, at least in my opinion, be silver, there is the possibility it will be something else. The idea put forth by Frederick Hayek of competing currencies will probably be the scenario, and survivalists need to understand that currency is always spontaneously created. It is created out of need. It is possible that different parts of the U.S. will adapt different types of currency. A banker needs to be prepared to accommodate these types of transactions to help an economy grow from a primitive one to facilitate more advanced monetary transactions. Therefore understanding currency exchange is rather significant, as well as how to understand business’ and real estate on a risk adjusted basis, should the need for bank lending become demanded by the bank’s customers. Additionally, a banker may need to partner with another entrepreneurial survivalist with Radio/Communication expertise to stay in contact with other “start-up” banks, and be readily in touch with their customers.

The nuances of lending out deposits are great, and I’ll mention many Libertarians and Constitutionalists find it revolting, but it is still something that needs to be understood for a banker to be able to explain all available services to his potential customers. Understanding of all services is important, as it is the consumer via the free market that will dictate what is desired “post collapse,” not a government entity. The basis for banking, I believe, is the basis for modern society. Although my entry is devoted to economics and banking, there are many other novel business ideas that a survivalist could educate themselves on, my thoughts on this are “to each his/her own.”

In terms of education and where someone could go to get started, the booklist on this web site is fantastic, but for the topic of this entry I will make a few specific suggestions. First YouTube videos should be downloaded and stored on your hard drives. This will be very valuable because if the internet goes down then there will be no way to access YouTube, and I’m just using this site as an example since there are other comparable ways on the internet to find videos. Perusing the various Austrian economist sites (like the Mises Institute for starters), intelligent investors like Jim Rogers, Doug Casey, and Marc Faber, and specifically lectures on banking will be very valuable.

Besides just economics, investing, and banking, if there are any other areas of question such as the constitution or law, stocking up on some Andrew Napolitano video’s could be both useful and entertaining post collapse. If you really want a good laugh then just download things like Ben Bernanke was wrong, but I suspect that post-TSHTF no one will believe in Keynesian economics anymore anyway. Books will be important for trading, but as a banker, if you are able to hand out duplicated DVDs of topics to your customers you will help distribute the ideas of a free market post collapse in a novel way, and hopefully create not only better, but a more educated customer relationship than other competing bankers; although I’ll again mention that I think there really won’t be much competition in this area. Obviously food, protection, et cetera are needed to simply survive, but there is no way that free trade, and innovation via division of labor can truly help us after TSHTF unless we have sound banking, and an educated banking populace.

Dear Jim:
First, thank you for your informative site. I know you`ve helped me, and many others fill in the gaps in knowledge for preparation for times to come. I live just three miles from the San Andreas Fault , so even if the Schumer doesn`t hit the fan, "the big one" could come at any time. Thus I`ve been prepping for many years, but it was a wind storm that helped me think of this trick.

The local utility power recently went down and the girls broke out some candles,while I grabbed a couple of battery powered lanterns. Candles are great, and would not be with out them, but have inherent fire danger, I had just purchased a dozen solar yard [pathway] lights, on close-out sale for about $30 [for all 12]. With all the lights down in the neighborhood they seemed very bright all of a sudden, so I twisted off the fat Frisbee-shape tops ,and brought them inside. I started placing them throughout the house, and was able to bring a little light to each area, they are not bright, but you could walk around the entire house,with out bumping it to anything ,without any other supplemental lighting.

I started playing with improving the lighting produced by them when I realized what a great safe reusable alternative they could be. One easy way is to set them on top of a glass,and set a piece curved foil behind them, or place them in front of a mirror, I even made a little chandelier with four of them that was bright enough to play games under. I became so enamored with them that we use them every night now instead of leaving any lights at all on to make your way to the bathroom, et cetera. Another use they have is you can recharge your size AA batteries for flashlight or radio with them, they also are not going to attract a lot of attention, people may think you have a couple candles going, and [that you] are [just] as unprepared as they are. Meanwhile, you'll save on propane and white gas.

I hope this is of help to others. If you give it a try then I'll bet you`ll put a few in the house at night. Thanks for everything you do Jim, and may the Lord bless you , your family, and your readers, - Steve K.

I am offering a challenge for your readers. I will match dollar for dollar all donations made by your readers to Anchor of Hope up to a total of $20,000. If they will respond, we can raise $40,000 for Anchor of Hope Charities. So that you know that I am serious about this, I am sending my donation of $20,000 to them today. - An Anonymous Donor

JWR Replies: Thank you, Sir, very much for your tremendous generosity! The Anchor of Hope orphanage and school is a very worthy charity with hardly any overhead. I am hopeful that more SurvivalBlog readers will also make contributions! To get the ball rolling on your challenge offer, I just made another substantial donation.

The mainstreaming of survivalism continues: Newsweek now seems to be saying that individual preparedness is a good idea. (Thanks to Mike F. and several other readers for sending the link.)

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Wendell in Tx. wrote mention a source for fish traps, Heinsohn.com. They run a country store in Texas.

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Ohio Jim mentioned that starting Friday, January 1st, you can't drive an APV on your own property in Ohio unless it's registered and licensed.

"The clocks stopped at one seventeen one morning. There was a long shear of bright light, then a series of low concussions. Within a year there were fires on the ridges and deranged chanting. By day the dead impaled on spikes along the road. I think it's October but I can't be sure. I haven't kept a calendar for five years. Each day is more gray than the one before. Each night is darker - beyond darkness. The world gets colder week by week as the world slowly dies. No animals have survived. All the crops are long gone. Someday all the trees in the world will have fallen. The roads are peopled by refugees towing carts and road gangs looking for fuel and food. There has been cannibalism. Cannibalism is the great fear. Mostly I worry about food. Always food. Food and our shoes. Sometimes I tell the boy old stories of courage and justice - difficult as they are to remember. All I know is the child is my warrant and if he is not the word of God, then God never spoke." - Viggo Mortensen as The Man, in The Road, (2009), screenplay by Cormac McCarthy and Joe Penhall. (Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy.)

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