April 2010 Archives

Friday, April 30, 2010

The following is the first half of a draft chapter from my latest novel (tentatively titled "Veterans"), now in development. It is a sequel to "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse". Unlike most novel sequels, the storyline will be contemporaneous with the first novel, but set in diverse locales. Only a few of the characters in "Patriots" are featured in the sequel. This sequel novel is scheduled to be released by the Atria Books Division of Simon & Schuster in early 2011. I picked a flashback chapter to post as a sample, since it doesn't include any plot "spoilers." In this flashback, Ian Doyle meets his wife, fifteen years before The Crunch, while he is on Temporary Duty (TDY) in Honduras. Part II of this chapter will be posted tomorrow. (Saturday, May 1st.)

Chapter 24:  Down In Hondo

"We are steadily asked about the age at which to teach young people to shoot. The answer to this obviously depends upon the particular individual; not only his physical maturity but his desire. Apart from these considerations, however, I think it important to understand that it is the duty of the father to teach the son to shoot. Before the young man leaves home, there are certain things he should know and certain skills he should acquire, apart from any state-sponsored activity. Certainly the youngster should be taught to swim, strongly and safely, at distance. And young people of either sex should be taught to drive a motor vehicle, and if at all possible, how to fly a light airplane. I believe a youngster should be taught the rudiments of hand-to-hand combat, unarmed, together with basic survival skills. The list is long, but it is a parent's duty to make sure that the child does not go forth into the world helpless in the face of its perils. Shooting, of course, is our business, and shooting should not be left up to the state." - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper

The leader of the Hondo expedition was Major Alan Brennan, a quiet man who was the son of a retired Air Force Colonel.  Brennan’s leadership was competent but very laid back:  He made it clear that he expected his squadron members to be punctual for all meetings, and completely sober before each scheduled mission. He summed up his guidance by stating simply: “We’ve got excellent maintenance NCOs, and the civilian techs know the gear inside and out.  Stand back and let them do their jobs.  Just be at the briefings and be on flight line on time. ‘Kick the tire, light the fire’, and come home safe.”

Brennan, who had recently been married, was fascinated by pre-Columbian history, and spent a lot of his time off in a rented jeep, wandering around ancient ruins, taking pictures. Other than on his mission days, Doyle rarely saw him.

The Air Force terminated its tactical reconnaissance program for F-16s in 1993, with plans to shift most of those missions to UAVs.  But there was an interim program using US Navy-developed Tactical Aerial Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) mounted on F-16s.  Doyle’s squadron was one of the two fighter squadrons that got tapped for this “strap-on recon” test program, which only lasted 18 months.  While technically a success, from an operational and logistics standpoint, the results were mixed.  And since UAV technology was meanwhile maturing rapidly, the decision was made to mothball the TARPs pods and support gear.  It was during the TARPS test program that Ian Doyle was part of the Hondo Expedition.

By the time that the USAF got involved, the TARPs pods were a “well-matured technology”. Most of the technical support was supplied by civilian contractors from Grumman, the company that had originally developed the system. The 17-foot, 1,850-pound pods were essentially a “strap on” system, adaptable to many types of aircraft.  They could be mounted on standard hard points.  First developed for Navy F-14s and Marine Corps F/A-18s, the TARPS pods were, as one of the Grumman camera technicians put it: “fool proof and pilot proof, but then, I repeat myself.”

The expedition included four F-16s--two for missions, and two as spares—four mission pilots, and a C-130 to shuttle the support crew and umpteen spare parts—both for the planes and for the TARPS pods.  The TDY rotation was five months, making it just short of the six month threshold for a PCS.  This made the personnel paperwork easier, and reduced the overall cost of the program. 

All of the pilots were housed at the “White House” (La Casa Blanca), the guest quarters in Tegucigalpa which was run by the American embassy, in Colonia Loma Linda Norte district, on La Avenida FAO. The White House was a gathering place of myth and legend. It served as the catch-all for visiting company-grade military officers, CIA types on temporary assignment, and assorted contractors on government business. The atmosphere was jovial and there were even some fraternity-style bashes on weekends. The CIA officers called it a “safe house”, but its presence was hardly clandestine. Even the local newspaper mentioned it from time to time—often by its nicknames “Rick's Café Américain” or “Rick’s Place”, in honor of the Humphrey Bogart movie Casablanca.

Junior officers at La Casa Blanca were expected to share rooms. Ian Doyle’s roommate was Bryson Pitcher, an Air Force Intelligence First Lieutenant, who was permanent party with the Intel Cell at the American embassy.

Shortly after meeting Pitcher, Ian Doyle summed up The Expedition to him: “It’s an intense assignment, but a good one.  I’ll fly three, maybe four missions a week, all in daylight hours, and they are just six hours each. Other than some intel briefing dog and pony shows once every 10 or 12 days either here or down at Soto Cano, I get all the rest of my days off, to hike, swim, and see the sights. My only regret is that it’s only a five month TDY.  I wish it were a couple of years, to really soak up the local culture.”

Bryson has his curiosity piqued.  He asked: “Well, what are you doing, exactly?  This is the first time I’ve seen F-16s in Hondo. We haven’t heard squat about it, even in the Intel shop.”

“I could tell you, but then I’d have to shoot you.”

Bryson snorted.

Ian grinned, and said: “Just kidding. What’s your clearance?”

“TS-SBI, with a bunch of funny little letters after that, for compartments that I can’t tell you about.”

“Well, what do you do here Bryson, in a nutshell?”

“I task and receive reports from a bunch of over-educated NCOs, and we analyze them for liaison with the Honduran government, and for an un-specified strategic mission.”

“Stuff from aircraft?,”  Doyle asked.

“Nope.  Stuff from ahh… Non-air breathing platforms.”

“Ahhh, gotcha.”  Hearing the euphemism for spy satellites made in clear to Doyle that he could ask no further questions.

Okay, well, then I guess I can certainly talk about the basics, even though you’re in the strategic world, while my bailiwick is mostly tactical.  A little cross-over, I suppose.  You’ll probably get brief in a week or two, anyway.”

Bryson nodded.

Ian looked up at the slowly-rotating ceiling fan and asked: “Are you familiar with a system called TARPS?”

“Sure—it’s the Navy’s pod-mounted photo recon system. It’s pretty idiot-proof, as long as they remember to hook up the external power and use a squirt of Windex before they takeoff.”

“That’s the one. Were going to be using F-16s with TARPS pods flying recon over Colombia, keeping track of the, ahem, ‘opposition’s’ troop movements.  Meanwhile there are some Army Intelligence guys, using a system called Guardrail, flying out of Panama, to monitor the FARC’s radio transmissions. You piece all that intel together, along with what you guys up in “Echelons Above Reality” provide, and that gives a pretty complete picture for the theater command, most of which—after its properly sanitized—can get shared with the host country.”

Doyle sat up and turned to look at Pitcher, and continued; “It’s pretty straightforward stick and rudder stuff.  I just follow the pre-programmed flight profiles:  Fly to these coordinates, spiral down to this altitude and assume this heading and fly straight and level for x minutes until you at these coordinates, then turn to this heading, and fly x minutes, then climb out, suck some gas at a tanker, and return to base.”

Pitcher chided: “Ha!  One of the new UAVs could probably handle that, from a lot closer-in than Hondo.”

“No kidding. I’ve been told that it was more political than anything else, to show support for the Colombian and Honduran governments—you know, “show the flag.”  So they didn’t want just a “man in the loop”, but an actual “man on the stick.”  For reasons of physical security on the ground, they couldn’t base our planes in-country in Colombia, so they decided to base us at Tegucigalpa. 

“Wouldn’t it be safer for the planes to be at Soto Cano.”

“Yes, but El Presidente likes F-16s, so he insisted that since this is just a five month gig that we be here in the capitol, rather than at Soto Cano. I think he’s hoping to get a ‘dollar ride’ in a D-model.”

“Do you have any two-seaters down here?”

“No, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that magically get added to scope of the mission.”

Bryson summarized: “So basing at Colombia was out, and the political fix was in for Tegucigalpa. Better for you, anyway.  At Soto Cano, you’ d be living in some corrugated steel hooch with no running water.”

“Yeah, It would be muy malo  to have some FARC dude blow up a couple of F-16s on the ramp. Falcons were $19 million per copy, back when the last ones rolled off the assembly line. Now that production has shut down, the airframes are basically irreplaceable.  It would be very bad P.R. if we lost one.”

“So, you poor baby! You have three or four days a week on your hands for the next five months to chase skirts and sip Port Royal beer.  Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all the best places to go, and I have friends with cars that can take you there.”

“I’m not much of skirt chaser. You see I believe in courting ladies, not dating them.  But I have been known to enjoy a good beer.”

“In moderation, no doubt.”

Doyle echoed, “Yes, exactly: in moderation.”

Bryson, punched his shoulder.  “I think you’re gonna have a blast here.”

Doyle’s plans for the next five months changed radically the next day, when he heard what he later called “the voice of angel”, as he came in for a landing approach after a 40 minute operational test flight, with the newly-fitted TARPS pod. The voice on the radio from the control tower sounded enchanting, obviously that of a young woman.  Soon after hitting the tarmac, he asked the liaison crew chief who the voice belonged to. The E-7 replied:  “Oh, that’s Blanca Araneta. But I’ve gotta warn you: She’s single, maybe 21 or 22, and she’s a absolute doll. But she’s made of pure unobtanium. Many before you have tried and failed, young Jedi.”

Doyle immediately took that as a challenge.  He got his first glimpse of the young woman as he loitered outside the control tower during the evening shift change. He spotted Blanca Araneta just as she stepped into her car—a battered old Mercedes station wagon. Ian was surprised to see that, having heard she was from a wealthy family. She drove away before he had the chance to approach her and introduce himself.  She was indeed a beautiful woman, with expressive large eyes, a beautifully symmetrical face, and full lips. Her shoulder-length black hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Seeing her, Ian Doyle was smitten.

Ian immediately starting gathering intelligence, and planning a strategy. He first learned that Blanca was from a wealthy family that lived about an hour’s drive north of the air base, and that her father was a prominent mining engineer and investor. After much prying with other members of the control tower staff, Doyle found out that Blanca Araneta was a recent graduate of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras and was a licensed private pilot. To Ian this meant bonus points: finding a woman with whom he could talk aviation and not have her eyes glaze over.  She still lived in an apartment near the University.

Further inquiries garnered the married name of her college roommate: Consuela Dalgon, a linguistics major who now taught public school, living not too far from the airport.  Blanca still had a close friendship with Dalgon. After buying a few more beers, he was given Dalgon’s phone number. That same evening, Ian phoned her, explaining that he was TDY and was looking for a Spanish tutor.  Dalgon immediately answered affirmatively, explaining that she had married another recent graduate who was just getting started as a management trainee, so she could use the extra money. 

Ian’s lessons began the next Saturday, at the Dalgons’ apartment. Not only did he get a thorough immersion course in Spanish, but he also began to pick up tidbits about the mysterious Señorita Blanca Araneta.

He learned that Blanca was from a wealthy family in Talanga.  Her father, Arturo Araneta y Vasquez, was a semi-retired mining engineer, and a former member of the Honduran Olympic tennis team.

Consuela confided to Ian that Blanca had told her that she hated tennis. This was because she had been forced to take tennis lessons from an early age.  Doyle was also told that Blanca loved swimming, and aerobatic flying. He was also told that Blanca read and wrote English much better than she spoke it.

At his next Spanish tutoring session, he found out that Blanca loved Almond Roca candy. She also liked modern flamenco music--what she called “that folky jazz sound”.  She especially liked the Gipsy Kings, Armik, Paco de Lucia, and Ottmar Liebert.  Curious, Doyle bought several CDs at the local record store, and was instantly hooked. As he listened to this music he often daydreamed about Blanca, picturing her dancing in a traditional flamenco dress.

Ian met Blanca for the first time at the Plaza San Martin Hotel in Tegucigalpa.  Consuela and Blanca often went to the hotel to swim.  They had started going while they were in college.  Though the pool was  normally reserved for hotel guests, the hotel manager quietly let it be known that pretty college girls of good moral character were welcome to come swim at the pool as often as they’d like, just to provide some eye candy for the visiting businessmen. To the girls, it was a perfect arrangement. The hotel provided a safe place to park, and a safe place to swim. The only downside was that they often got to practice how to politely brush off the occasional lovelorn or just plain lusty business travelers.  Only the Japanese ones took pictures.

During his third evening lesson with Consuela, she and her husband Pablo invited Ian to come with them for a swim, following the next Saturday lesson.  Not wishing to be obvious, Ian didn’t ask if Blanca might be meeting them there, but he thought the chances were good.

At the Tegucigalpa. Multiplaza, Ian picked out a new swim suit—opting for the long “surfer suit” look--a dark beach towel, a lightweight windbreaker, and a pair of the best-quality leather huarache sandals that they sold.

o  o  o

A half hour after their swim session began, Ian emerged from the pool after a set of laps. He was thrilled to see Blanca Araneta had arrived, and was sitting on a lounge chair, chatting with Consuela.

Toweling himself dry, he walked toward them, doing his best to look nonchalant.  Consuela introduced him to Blanca, in Spanish. Señora Dalgon was, after all, strict believer in true Immersion Spanish.

Ignoring Consuela’s cue, Blanca switched to English.

“A pleasure to be meeting you, E-an.”

Hearing the cute way she pronounced his name—more like “Eon” than “Ian”--made him just melt.

Avoiding the open chair next to Blanca, he sat down on the lounge that was beyond Consuela’s and Pablo’s --he thought it best to talk to Blanca at first from a longer distance, rather than seem overly anxious, or intrusive of her space.

Speaking to Blanca, over the top of Consuela’s back, Ian said: “Señorita Araneta, I have heard your voice before, from the control tower.  I usually fly ‘Falcon 1-2-4’, and you’ve probably heard my callsign, ‘Subgunner’.”

“Oh, yes, I know your callsign.”

Doyle replied: “Yes, that me. I always wanted to put a face to your name.  I must say, you have a pretty voice, and a very pretty face to go with it.”

Blanca just smiled and laughed politely. 

Again trying to seem nonchalant, Ian added: “Well, enjoy your swim”, and he reclined on an unoccupied lounge chair and put on his sunglasses. Laying there, he wondered if he had botched the introduction.  His mind was racing.  He felt very self-conscious, and oh-so pale skinned, among so many people with olive complexions. He dare not speak.  Silently, he recited to himself Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool is counted wise, when he holds his peace. When he shuts his lips he is considered perceptive.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Blanca stand up and whip off the ankle-length swimming skirt-wrap that she had been wearing. She tossed it on top of her flight bag.  He noticed that she carried that bag everywhere. Beneath, she was wearing what by modern standards was a very conservative one-piece swimsuit with an integral skirt, but it couldn’t hide her traffic-stopping figure.  Ian Doyle gulped and whispered to himself: “Ay, ay, ay”.

Blanca spent almost 15 minutes in the pool, swimming lap after lap.  After she got out and returned to her chair, Ian rose, smiled, and took his own turn in the pool, swimming in a medley of strokes for about 10 minutes.  He thought that at this stage, it was best to seem slightly stand-offish and more interested in swimming than in chatting her up.

After he climbed up the pool’s ladder, he could see that Consuela and Blanca had turned on their chairs, and were applying sun screen to each-other’s noses.  Ian again toweled, but just slightly, and returned to his chaise, and put on his sunglasses.

Consuela asked, “Bloqueador de sol, Ian?”

He answered: “Si, muchas gracias por su amabilidad, señora”, and raised his hands as if ready to catch the bottle.”

But instead of tossing the bottle, Consuela pivoted to hand him the bottle directly.  Leaning forward, she whispered, “She has been very curious about you.”

Ian slathered the waterproof sun-block on, explaining: “With my skin, I don’t tan, I just burn. I’m feeling a little too white to fit in here.”

As Ian handed the bottle back to Consuela, Blanca said matter-of-factly: “You know, here in our country, many people would be jealous of your fair skin. The more fair, the more aristocratic.”

Doyle nodded, and said simply, “Oh.”  He realized that he had lot to learn about Honduras.

Blanca eyed Doyle for a minute, and speaking over Consuela’s back, asked, “Has Consuela been talking about me, to you?”

“A little.”  Disarmingly, he added, “I also told her about my college roommate.”

“So what did she say?”

“Something about your father, su papa, that he was un experto de tenis’.”

“Not actually a champion.  He was an bronze medaler--I mean medalist, in doubles of tennis.”

She cocked her head and asked with a hopeful lilt to her voice, “Do you like tennis?”

“I’ve played the game, but you know, I never really liked it. No le gusto el tenis.  It is just a whole lot of sweating, just to hit a ball back and forth, back and forth.  And it’s kind of an aggravating game. I found it a little too competitive: Even if you practice a lot and hit the ball just right, there is always someone who can hit it just a little bit better, or who is just a little bit faster, and they can ace you out.  So, no offense, but it’s not for me.  If I want to practice my hand-to-eye coordination, I’d rather be in a flight simulator, or better yet, up in the air, formation flying or doing aerobatics.”

Blanca smiled.  “Aerobatics?”

“Oh yeah. The F-16 is built for it—well, with a big turning radius that is.  Lot’s of power, great handling.  The controls are a dream.  Incredibly responsive.”

“Ay, that sounds wonderful.”

Consuela jumped in: “Ian, you should show Blanca those videos you shot from the back seat, that you showed me and Pablo.”

Si, señora, yo estoy feliz... uh…” At a loss for the right words in Spanish, he finished:  “…to do so.”  After a moment, he added, “That video may make you dizzy to watch, and there is not much narration, just me and the pilot grunting, you know, tightening our abdominal muscles, doing our best to pull the gees.”

“No, it won’t make me dizzy!”, Blanca said. She then just smiled, nodded dismissively, and lay back down, putting on sunglasses, and pulling her sun hat over her head.  But Doyle noticed that she was looking in his direction.  With her large dark sunglasses, he couldn’t be sure if she was sleeping, or staring at him.  He was having trouble reading her.  Was she genuinely interested, or just being polite and properly social? He decided that it was best to just give her more of the ‘silence and sunbathing treatment.’  He reached down and pulled out his Sony Discman portable CD-player and put the headphones on.  He closed his eyes and got lost in the music for a few minutes.  Then he noticed something had shaded his face.  He opened his eyes to see Blanca standing over him.

“Oh, hola, senorita Araneta”, he said casually.

Gesturing to his CD player, she asked: “What are you playing on that theeng?”

“Oh, this? Here, take a listen.”  Blanca perched on the edge of Consuela’s lounge chair, and Ian handed her the Discman. He leaned forward to put the headphones on her head. It was the first time that he had ever touched Blanca.  It gave him a tingle.

Blanca put on a huge grin the instant she heard the music.

“You like Ottmar Liebert? No way!  This is his first album, ‘Nouveau Flamneco’. You really like it?”

“Yeah, I sure do. I’m a recent convert to that music.  I’ve really gotten hooked on flamenco guitar, since I came down here.”

She nodded. “Well, E-an, then what is current-ally your favorite band?”

“I’d have to say, the Gipsy Kings. It’s almost hypnotic. From the first time I heard them sing ‘Bamboleo’, I just couldn’t get it out of my head.”

Blanca smiled and said softly, “Wow, I really like them too.”  Then she shook her head in disbelief, smiling. 

o  o  o

The next time that Ian met Blanca was at a weeknight dinner party, just three days later, hosted by Consuela and Pablo. The evening before, in halting Spanish, Doyle asked Consuela, “How should I dress for this?”

For the first time at one of his immersion class sessions, Consuela lapsed into English:  “Well, it is a dinner, you should wear a coat and a tie.”

“I’m just TDY down here, and I don’t have a suit with me. The only thing I have with a tie is my Service Dress Uniform.”

“That will be fine.  Wear that.”

Ian arrived early, carrying a clear plastic grocery bag with a bottle of Chilean white wine and a can of Almond Roca.  In the crook of his other arm were two large bouquets of white orchids.

Inviting him in, Pablo Dalgon said, “You can relax Ian.  We’re speaking all English tonight.  This is not a class night. Pure-ely social.”

Ian was taken aback to see that Blanca was already there, having arrived even earlier than Ian.  Doyle handed the flowers to Consuela, and said “ I brought a bunch for each of you.”  Pablo, who heretofore had hardly spoken to Ian, exclaimed, jokingly, “Oh how nice of you.  Flowers for both of us.”

Consuela gave Pablo a sharp look, and elbowed him in the ribs, chiding, “He means, flowers for both of the ladies.”

Pablo laughed and said, “I know. Jus’ kidding.”

As Blanca and Consuela each took their bouquets, Blanca glanced down to see what was in the bag.  She recognized the pink can.  Her jaw dropped a bit, and she gave Doyle a quizzical look.

In rapid damage-control mode, Doyle explained: “I heard from Consuela that you liked Almond Roca, so I bought a can. You know, to serve with dessert.”

As Consuela began serving dinner, Blanca’s eyes locked onto the can of candy sitting on the sideboard. Then she stared at Ian.

Blanca started laughing. “She pointed with a scolding finger at Doyle, and said, “E-an, I theenk you are trying to manip-o-late me.”

“Yes, I am, señorita. I freely admit that. But I’m doing so in a kind of nice, gentlemanly way.”

Through the rest of the dinner the talk was mainly about aviation, and differences between American and Honduran customs.  It was a very pleasant evening.  Pablo was quiet, as was his nature.  Ian and Blanca made plenty of eye contact. Consuela, clearly looking like a victorious matchmaker, steered the conversation. She often returned to topics where she gave Ian and Blanca opportunities to ask each other questions and talk about their accomplishments.

After dinner, Consuela served flan, with a piece of Almond Roca topping each piece of the gelatinous dessert. She was quite the diplomatic hostess.

Pablo and Consuela stepped out, to clear the dishes. In phrasing that he had practiced several times with Consuela’s coaching, Ian asked Blanca in Spanish:  “Señorita Araneta, I wish to ask your permission to court you in the coming days, with completely honorable intentions, if you would be so kind as to have me in your presence.”

Her answer was immediate: “You may call me Blanca, and yes, you may court me, with your promise to be a gentleman.”

                                                      o  o  o

Their next meeting was a lunch the following day, at the air base canteen.  But just as their conversation was starting, it was cut short:  One of Blanca’s co-workers rushed to their table, and exclaimed that the tower boss had fallen ill with a flu, and that Blanca was needed back at the control tower.  Then he turned and stepped away, just as quickly as he had arrived.

Blanca stood, and said, “I’m now in a hurry here, so this as you say is the ‘Reader’s Digest’ version:  I like you a lot, E-an.  I theenk you are fascinating. So now, it is the time I should take you up to the Estancia, so mi papa can give you the, uh, ‘Third Degree’.  You are seeming just way, way too good to be true… and my father, he is an expert at digging out the flaws of character in suit-ors.  We’ll see if he can scare you off.”  She raised her index finger and added: “He has, all the others, you know. I’ll schedule a dinner for next Saturday.”

Before he could answer, Blanca smiled, gave a little wave, and dashed away.

Ian sat dumbfounded at what he had just heard. Then he said a long silent prayer, and ate his lunch.

                                               o  o  o

To go meet Blanca’s father, Ian decided to wear a suit, instead of his Service Dress uniform.  But borrowing a suit that would fit him well took some scrambling, as did finding cufflinks and dress shoes. This turned into an evening-long scavenger hunt for many of the junior officers and GS-9s that lived on his floor of “Rick’s Place”.  Knocking on doors up and down the hall, Bryson Pitcher led Doyle and a “parade of suit beggars”.  This turned into movable party, with plenty of alcohol served.  Doyle heard repeatedly: “This deserves a toast!”  The lovely Blanca Araneta was a legendarily unreachable enigma for anyone that worked in flight operations, so the reactions were a mix of envy and awe.  The envy came mostly from the officers that were there on PCS assignments. They were miffed that a newly-arrived TDY O-2 could break the ice with Blanca, so quickly.

Blanca drove over from her apartment and picked Ian up at just after 3 p.m., for the hour-long drive to her family’s 90 hectare estancia, which was about three miles outside of Talanga. Blanca wore a simple black dress with a very modest neckline and hemmed below the knee. She wore very little makeup. Her hair was combed out and worn loosely.  This was the first time that Ian had seen it in anything but a simple ponytail. The only adornment she wore was a single large, teardrop-shaped pearl, on a gold chain.  Ian thought she looked gorgeous.  She definitely had the Grace Kelly vibe going: Understated, but stunning.

The drive north from Tegucigalpa was fairly quiet and revealed the nervousness they both felt.  There were just a few comments on the scenery, and a bit of travelogue from Blanca on the local history the age of certain buildings. Ian Doyle felt a new level of anxiety as she turned the car in the Estancia’s long driveway.  Even from a distance, Doyle could see that the house was huge, and that it had stables off to one side.

[Author's Note: The remainder of this sample chapter will be posted tomorrow. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved by James Wesley, Rawles. This material is not available for re-posting at other web sites. The novel is scheduled to be released by the Atria Division of Simon & Schuster in early 2011.]

In a TEOTWAWKI situation hygiene is going to become very important. As an E.R. Nurse I see hygiene problems everyday. I can’t begin to describe the things that I have seen… and I probably have post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result. Do you know that homeless alcoholics care very little about their personal hygiene?? A few years ago I learned a nice lesson on personal hygiene that I wanted to pass on. It may not be a new idea to some but I think it would be very useful to a lot of people who haven’t considered hygiene/showering post-SHTF

Ten years ago while going to nursing school I stumbled on an outstanding deal on 20 acres in Northern Arizona with a run down travel trailer on it. Being a poor college student I couldn’t afford rent and the land payment so I gave up the apartment and started an 18-month adventure. The trailer was full of mouse poop, had no running water, no electricity and no septic system. I learned a lot fast…

One of the problems that I faced was how to bathe. Initially I heated water on a propane camp stove in a large pot and took a sponge bath. It worked okay at best but I longed for a hot shower. While stumbling around in a home improvement store I came upon an idea. They had all these hand pump 1-to-2 gallon multipurpose household sprayers. I thought they might work better then the “sponge job” that I was currently doing. While trying to decide which one to purchase one of the 2 gallon sized sprayers stated it came with a showerhead nozzle. I bought it and it and to this day it was one of the best $20 purchases I ever made.

Showering with a multipurpose sprayer was not that difficult at all. I still used the propane camp stove to heat the water in a large pot. Once the water reached a nice temp I poured it into the sprayer. Pumped it up to pressure and hung it from the existing showerhead in the trailer bathroom. I didn’t have septic so the bath water dumped into a hole under the trailer. The gray water never became a problem since I was only using 1-2 gallons of water. I took a “military shower” that consisted of wetting down, soaping up and then rinsing off. Most days a single gallon of water was all that was needed. On days when I was really filthy or needed a special treat I used two gallons.

I recently tried to locate another multipurpose sprayer with a showerhead attachment and only found one site online carrying it. I found the original company that made my sprayer (the RL Flo-Master Sprayer) but could not find the showing attachment listed on their site. I believe that the showerhead attachment made all the difference between the standard spray nozzle and a real shower experience.  Not willing to give up yet I contacted the original company and found that the attachment is still available. I just ordered 10 of them. Don’t quote me but I bet the attachment would work on other brands of multipurpose sprayers. Below is the contact information and I hope this article was helpful.

Poly Shower Head Nozzle
Part # 952-361
$2.00/each plus shipping

RL Flo-Master
P.O. Box 289
Lowell, MI 49331
Phone # 1-800-253-4642
Fax # 1-800-968-3555

JWR Adds: These sprayers can also be useful for NBC decontamination. Oh, and of course, never use a sprayer that has been previously used for herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals, for showering!

Digital Archives and Your One and Only Mortal Life articletoday. Unable to sleep last night, I took my new 4 Gig USB ["memory stick"] drive and downloaded your entire site. It was nice to read how wise I'd been the day after! It is far easier to permanently protect a USB drive than all computers. Figure that if any of my computers are fried, there will be one available somewhere that isn't! I still print out the more salient pieces on your site for nighttime reading, though... I already have a monumental JWR library!

I've been a "prepper" since '98. It's a humbling process - something like life itself. You can't provide for every contingency; either from lack of funds or lack of information. Ergo - you play the odds and take your best shot - allocating available resources to relative probabilities. The best part is imparting certain basic skills and universal beliefs to grandchildren - without creating fear. Amazing how small abilities in little hands help overcome insecurities and result in confident young adults!

Here is how I fairly quickly made my own SurvivalBlog archives:

Open www.survivalblog.com on your computer.
Plug in your portable USB drive to any available slot.
On the left-hand side of the main page, select what you wish to download (i.e.; in "Categories, select "Body Armor (41) ).
When that page has opened, right click your mouse, then left click "Save Page As".
When you've done the above, you'll get the Windows "save as" menu. Select "My Documents" at the top where it says "Save in", then at the bottom of that menu select the auto-generated file name which is in this case "SurvivalBlog.com Body Armor Archives."

That transfers the entire page to the Documents section of your computer.
In "Documents" on your computer, it will show both a folder icon (ignore Archives.htm). Right click on that file and select "Send to", then select your portable USB drive as the target.

Bingo - it's now on your portable drive and on your home computer (where it's taking up space that you may need to use later).
Repeat the above, topic by topic, until you've downloaded everything that you want.
To free up the space on your home computer, you'll need to delete (in the Documents folder) both the "SurvivalBlog.com Body Armor Archives.htm" FOLDER AND the "SurvivalBlog.com Body Armor Archives.htm" actual document file.
Or, you can keep it in both places if you have room or in case the dog swallows your mini USB Drive.

It took me less than an hour to download all the topics and archives doing it subject by subject. Maybe there's an easier way, but this got the job done.

You, Sir, are providing the tools for we (hopeful) remnants of society to "keep on keepin' on" during darker days. And if not us, then the younger ones to whom we both teach and pass on our attitudes,
knowledge and goods. As the only viable central clearing house for preparation ideas, you're the proverbial "cat's meow"... sorry - showing my retirement age status. Anyway, my hat's off to you: great
book; great site; great and humble man of Christ and Humanity. Thanks for all you do, and God Bless you. - Angus

Roubini says Euro's days may be numbered. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

Chad S. spotted this: Canada considers eliminating the penny.

Kevin sent us this: States Bristle as Investors Make Wagers on Defaults

Also from Kevin: In ‘Chair City,’ Budget Cuts are ‘Amputating’ Municipal Services

Items from The Economatrix:

Meat Prices May Spike this Summer (Stock up your chest freezer now, and lay in a supply of canned meat! Since grain prices are remaining high, meat will probably be very expensive for the next few years. It is a good thing that we mainly eat elk and venison, here at the Rawles Ranch!)

Unemployment Challenges Obama's Narrative

Greece Cut to Junk at S&P as Contagion Spreads

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Considering Bankruptcy

Spain Downgraded, Europe Debt Crisis Widens JWR Notes: Iceland, Greece, Portugal, and now Italy and Spain. Who is next?

Lisa sent this: Food Prices Rocket in North Korea. Lisa's comment: "The article says the prices change by the hour." Can another famine be coming to North Korea?

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Reader John G. passed along two URLs for government surplus auctions: GovDeals.com and GovSales.gov. John notes: "I have seen more items listed lately. I guess the states are trying to recoup their deficits."

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From Nanny State California: Santa Clara County: Supervisors ban toys with fast-food meals

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Survivalblog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson flagged this piece: Making a Wooden Bicycle. While of course not dependable for longevity, this bike at least demonstrates the value of ingenuity.

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." - Frederic Bastiat, The Law.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com. (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Author’s Background
I live in Northeastern Minnesota with my wife and four children ages: four to seven.  I teach and am a sports coach at the local high school in town (population 1,200).  We live two hours away from any type of big city, which in our case is Duluth, Minnesota (population 85,000).  My wife is a stay-at-home mom.  Three years ago, we built a new house four miles outside of town on 15 acres that my parents gave us.  Combined, we make just over $56,000 a year.  In just this past year, my wife and I have started making the transition to a more preparedness-minded lifestyle.  As I have scanned and read hundreds of articles online, I have found a wealth of practical information, but little in the way of practical advice for families.  I hope this article helps young families that are either on a limited budget, may feel overwhelmed in their initial stages of preparation, or both.

My Introduction to Preparedness
I didn’t know it at the time, but my introduction to preparedness came in 1999 when I sat at a large table with about 15 other men in a small town café for our weekly bible study.  A small portion of these men were worried about Y2K and urged others to prepare.  I thought they were “nuts.”  I did respect them as Christian men, however, and prayed for guidance.  Looking back, I was a squared away 24 year-old but was still spiritually immature.  At that time in my life, I felt no urging by the Lord to prepare for Y2K. 

About ten years later in the middle of a bitterly cold 2009 winter night, the power went out in my newly-built home.  My home, at the time, ran completely on electricity with no form of back-up heat.  I was lucky to have in-floor heat on both levels of my home, but the wind was howling that night, as the temperatures outside kept dropping and eventually hit 30 below zero.  With the wind chill effect, it was probably near 60 to 70 below.  My kids didn’t like how dark the house was, even though we had flashlights on hand for each of them.  I put my four children to sleep early and piled on some extra blankets.  At 7:00 p.m. it was 60 in the house and I wasn’t worried as my new home was well-insulated and built tight.  I went to call my parents, who own the 20 acres bordering the western boundary of our place.  Our phones in the house, however, all depended on electricity so I decided that my call could wait until the morning.  When I went to bed at 11:00 p.m. it was now 50 in the house and I just assumed the power company guys were having a hard time in the wind and cold.  I woke up in the early morning and noticed that it was about 40 degrees in the house and still no electricity.  I was now a little uneasy as I didn’t need pipes freezing up on me.  At 7:00 a.m. I bundled up the kids and took them next door where I knew my dad had a gas fireplace.  To my surprise, his electricity was up and running.  To make a long story short, it was just my place without power as the wires from the transformer came loose when my box moved from winter heaving.  I called the power company and they had my box fixed within the hour.  Nothing bad had happened, but it did get me thinking about a few questions:

  • What if we were without power for a few days, a week, or even longer?
  • What am I going to do to make sure I don’t have to be up all night worrying about my children?

Later, I called up one of the men in my bible study from years back….one of the “nuts.”  We started talking regularly and then I started emailing back and forth with his brother who lives in Alaska.  Both guys are solid Christian men with a heart for being prepared and ready.  They borrowed me the book, One Second After by William Forstchen.  Reading that book gave me a sense of urgency.  In addition, I also teach Economics, Political Science, and Finance and am very weary of today’s economy for numerous reasons.  When I got to the point where I was ready to make a commitment to preparedness for my family, here are the steps we took to get started (these are in no particular order - just how they worked for us):

Step One: Get on the Same Page with your Wife
While my wife and I agree that the man is the spiritual head of the family, it sure makes life easier in all respects when you both agree to commit to something together.  Depending on your circumstances, this may take some time, substantial prayer, and even some tutoring.  This may mean having your spouse read Mr. Rawles' excellent book,"Patriots".  It may mean having them read One Second After.  I have a friend of mine right now that would like to start preparing, but hasn’t had the courage to bring it up to his wife yet.  How is that going to work?  It isn’t.  We need to be on the same page with our wives.

Step Two: Make a Financial Plan
I first thought to myself, “I can’t afford to buy any of these items.  We live paycheck to paycheck with a nice big mortgage payment on the 25th of each month.”  My wife and I then had to decide how serious we really were.  Is this just talk, or are we going to commit to being prepared?  Do I want to watch my kids freeze to death if TEOTWAWKI takes place?  I suggest each family assess their own individual situation and then plan out their finances in two phases if possible:

  • Decide if you can make a “down payment” to jumpstart your preparation.
  • Then, factor in a monthly stipend for preparation goods and materials.  Think of it like paying a monthly life insurance premium, only this one will save your life.

Step Three: Evaluate Your Situation and Prioritize Your Needs
One thing to mention here:  Just because you have something on your priority list of preparation items, doesn’t mean you can go get it right away.  You have to balance your “priority list” with your checkbook.  My wife and I won’t buy anything we can’t afford.  If we have to use a credit card to get it, we simply don’t!  In our individual situation we created this prioritized list:

  • A Wood Stove to heat the house and to cook on in case of an emergency.
  • Installation of a hand pump on our current well for water
  • Back up food:  Both short-term and long-term
  • Learning new skills (Making our own bread from wheat, canning our vegetables from the garden, using non-hybrid seeds, splitting our own wood, etc.)
  • Buying some added security (Guns and ammo)

For example, we decided to cash-in a $6,500 investment that I could get without paying a penalty.  We first used some of that money to purchase a new wood stove and a hand pump for our well.  Heat and water were no longer concerns for us.  What was next for us?  Back-up food.  Each time at the grocery store we spend an extra $50 on canned goods, rice, cereal, staples, toilet paper, etc. to build up a rotating pantry that will last our family of six approximately three months.

The next step for us was the hardest: long-term food.  In my humble opinion, once you decide to buy long-term food, you have entered the official prepper stage.  Now you are in.  We took $1000 from my investment and used half of it to buy a Country Living Grain Mill and all of its extra parts.  We then bought 1000 pounds of hard red wheat, 200 pounds of rye berries, and a few other staples like wheat, sugar, etc.

My friend (from the bible study) and his wife then taught us how to make the following: bread from scratch using the mill, corn meal mush from feed corn, and bannock native biscuit-type bread).  We then set up future dates to learn how to make Ezekiel bread over an open fire, as well as many other helpful tutorials we could use around the house.

Last, but not least, I used my tax return and bought a DPMS AR-15 and 1,000 rounds of ammo for an added sense of security.  If anyone would have come over to our place in a threatening manner and we had to defend ourselves, before that purchase, I only had the following: a single shot Remington Model 37 Steelbilt 20 gauge shotgun, a Remington 30-06 Model 700 hunting rifle, and my .380 Bersa with just one magazine.  With some remaining money left over, I found two spare magazines for my .380.  I have much more on my wish list that we just can’t afford at this time.  I really don’t want to have to use any of these weapons, but if the time comes where I must protect my wife and kids, I will be ready with the resources that I have.

Don't Be Intimidated By What Others Have!  Everyone’s financial situation and priorities are different.  My wife and I could have easily read what others have in the way of supplies and knowledge and just said, “There’s no way we can do that.”  Instead, we just decided to do what we can with what we have.  We have to give our plan to the Lord and let him provide for us in the ways he sees fit.  Start where you can, and get on the same page with your family.  What are you immediate needs?  Can you get them now?  If not, now you have something to save for.  If yes, that is great.  Now you can move down your list to the next priority.  We are now currently saving up for a case of freeze-dried butter powder and a case of freeze-dried egg powder.  My next big wish is to build an underground root cellar somewhere on our property.

Step Four: Include Your Kids in Everything so They are Prepared
If I tell my kids that we are having a fire drill, they can get out of their beds, crawl on the floor, open the window, take off the screens, and get out of the house in less than one minute.  All four kids also know to meet behind the shed if such a thing were to happen.  Our kids need to be a part of the process.  If TEOTWAWKI happens and our kids are so terrified that they can’t function, surviving will be twice as difficult.  I once did the fire drill while throwing pillows at the kids.  That day we taught them to be focused even if there is chaos all around them.

Our kids also help in the bread-making process, each to their own abilities.  The oldest can now turn the mill; one mixes the flour, etc.  All four of our kids also know where we store our food and they know not to tell anyone.  We tell them, “Lots of people don’t have extra grain.  It is like bragging.  Just tell people that dad’s hunting and fishing gear is in that cabinet.”

As a kid I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad, but my dad always did the “messy” work like gutting the deer and cleaning the fish.  My wife and I are doing our best to teach our kids how to fish, a healthy respect (not fear) for guns, the tips to wood splitting, how to start a fire, etc.  Our kids are too young to do a lot right now, but we always take the time to teach the “how and why” of what we are doing.  Our kids love it and are now starting to ask if they can help.  We never deny them that opportunity.

Even if your kids are young, don’t underestimate what they can do.  Here are some things we have been introducing our four young children to:

  • Fishing
  • Stacking, hauling, cutting wood
  • How to start a fire
  • Lighting a candle in the house on their own
  • How to identify animal tracks
  • A respect for guns – an introduction to shooting with the Red Rider
  • How to cook various meals
  • A familiarity with our property and our trail system
  • How to use walkie-talkies
  • Fire Drills and places on the property to meet
  • Camping skills and helping put up a tent
  • How to use a compass
  • How to use a slingshot

Obviously, I am not going to hand my three year old a 12-guage shotgun and let him go in the woods.  All of our boys, however, the four-year old included, can start a fire from scratch in my wood stove or in our fire pit.  As they get older, we challenge them with the next level of preparedness.  Not only are you giving your kids invaluable skills for the future, you are helping them become self-sufficient and not reliant on others.

Step Five: Use Discernment in Finding Like-Minded Friends
My wife and I have been fortunate to find an older couple to mentor us.  We are careful not to open ourselves up to just anyone.  We live in a small town where if one person tells others something, you can assume a large minority of town knows about it.  We have many close friends that have no idea about our level of preparedness.  When we see an opening in a conversation with someone we trust, we will feel them out, and take it from there. 

Step Six: Continue to Research and Don’t Get Discouraged!
I can’t believe how much I have learned in just a year’s time.  SurvivalBlog alone has thousands of outstanding articles written by people who have been preparing for years and years.  Use the internet and any other resources of information you can find.  Like many others, my wife and I have started our own little library of books, articles, etc.  We even learned how to seal up Mylar bags in our five gallon buckets of food storage on YouTube!

In conclusion, if you are a beginning family or have a tight budget, don’t get discouraged!  Even if you just start by putting away $20 a month and save up your funds for a while.  Over time that money will grow and you will have a nice start to your preparedness plan.  Checking out books at the library is free.  Take down the notes you feel are important and then move on to another book.  Before you know it, you and your family will find that preparedness is a way of life.

While DeWalt is a good choice for tools, in order to save at least 30% off your next purchase look into the factory reconditioned web sites of DeWalt or in my case Bosch Tools. I used the Bosch 12 volt DC drill, in a production factory setting 10 hours a day for a year as a test. The battery only needed swapping once a day. The results were that I gave all our corded drills to the employees and purchased seven of their 12 VDC drills for the production floor. Bosch also has the 6 foot drop test on concrete test on their side.

Each unit had two batteries and charger and its built in circuitry it would charge the battery without the battery developing a memory. These drills stood up to many years of factory daily use and they came
with a one year total replacement and a two year repair warranty after that. I purchased for personal use the 18 volt combo set. It came with a coupon for a hand plainer that has come in handy. Each job is different and yes, there is a difference between 12v, 18v and 24v as far as battery life. If weight of the tool is an issue, then the 12 volt tools will take care of most routine jobs and will be lighter to handle. You may
also look into a 12 volt[input voltage] charger that is available for both. I also purchased a table saw, a compound miter saw and a router with table from the Factory Reconditioned site at least a 30% savings. Choose the best tools you can but more important save at least 30 % while doing so. Go to the factory site and look for reconditioned tools. These will have a new factory warranty and you will see the latest offerings.

I found out about Bosch through a open house at a welding supply house. I also was able to acquire a neat ratchet set [made in Taiwan] that eliminates the need for deep socket sets, called the GearRatchet. At these open houses at your local welding [or tool] distributor you will find lots of new items to consider and you will save money during the show on new tools and get some excellent food. In my case I was also able to get an extra 5% off by purchasing as many tools as I could and writing a testimonial letter about my experience with the company's tools when negotiating with the sales rep. I have no financial interest in these companies. I used to own a business and tried to buy the tools that passed the test of abuse and time. When considering your tool purchase talk to those that use the tools daily and when you purchase spending a little more can go a long way. I still have tools that I purchased 40 years ago and used daily at work for 30 years. Regards, - Jeff B.

Mr Rawles.
I read "Patriots" nearly a year ago and was impressed with the well written plot, realistic scenario and detail oriented implicit planning and tips. I learned a while thereafter of your SurvivalBlog and have been nibbling at it in chunks, trying yet to digest it. I imagine you notice a bit of a self selecting bias in people who read and enjoy your writing, even more in those who choose to e-mail you, so I won't write the usual bits about how alike we think. I will write that I appreciate what you're doing with the SurvivalBlog site and the books you write.

Since your e-mail page said you particularly like hearing from those overseas I decided I'd write you a note. Right now I'm writing to you from a little morale tent in the desert in Afghanistan. You've likely heard of Marjeh in Helmand province, I'm seven kilometers from the edge of it. I've been here six months now and was here when we were the most forward unit, before 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 6th Marine Regiment swooped in to clear Marjeh. I'm a Marine, and actually according to the "about the author" in your book, we share a common specialty.

Being in the middle of a real live failed state, complete with an active counter-insurgency (COIN) fight including local national troops, Coalition troops, insurgents, and drug runners) and abject poverty has been very educational. These people live in literal mud huts. The wealthy among them drive 10 year old sedans or hatchbacks over roads most wouldn't dare drive their fancy SUVs. Some own a motorcycle or two or, wealth of wealths, own a tractor. They eke out a[ marginal subsistence] living, with high infant and child mortality rates, or for that matter high mortality rates in general.

I suppose the biggest lessons here have been about how militaries operate in occupations and COIN, how insurgents can operate, and how the people survive. Mostly they do it by numbers, but occasionally an individual stands out who is wily and skilled.

Anyway, I'd like to write an article to compete for your prizes, but haven't yet gotten through all your backlog [archive]s. I assume people have written on the basic principles of "shoot, move & communicate" but has anyone written on the five paragraph order?

Thanks, - R.P.

JWR Replies: Thanks for your letter. We have not yet posted a detailed article on the Five Paragraph Operations Order. That would be greatly appreciated, and instructive to the many SurvivalBlog readers that lack Army or Marine Corps experience.

UAE eyes three-month food stockpile. JWR Notes: It is noteworthy that nation states don't launch into expensive ventures like this, sua sponte. Catch a clue, and stock up, folks! (A hat tip to Bob G. for the link.)

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Simon J. sent this technology development news: New Inexpensive Material Will Turn Night Into Day

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Rich at KT Ordnance forwarded this one: Agents of Incompetence: ATF Dodges FOIA, Still Has Seized BB Guns (Part IV)

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Nick S. flagged this bit of nuttery from Nanny State Britannia: Boy banned from eating cheese sandwich

"I wish there was a knob on the TV so you could turn up the intelligence. They got one marked 'brightness' but it don't work, does it?" - Leo Anthony Gallagher

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com. (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When you finally die and I know your not eager to, the world will certainly go on. You might be so lucky to have someone cry at your funeral. Regardless of how important you thought you were, your death will not be as special to the world or to yourself. You will be dead like the billions of animals and species before you.  After a week, maybe two, life here on planet earth will be the same as before you died. Most, if not all, will not miss you in the caring ways that you would want to believe. Like many, you didn’t have a say coming in this world, and you won’t have a say leaving this world. I and most of the people in the world would like to live, this life, without the need for suffering. When your time comes, time will take you out of this life. You will not escape this certainty.  There are a million ways to go. Nobody knows how it happens, until it does. I think it and wait for it to appear. Not knowing when, is the greatest mystery. It could be in a second or a hundred years. It will come. The law of death is simple. All living things shall perish. The containment of your life force energy and/or soul is part of the law of thermodynamics, the transformation of energy.

Imagine, if you will, a tree full of leaves that has fallen to the ground. The energy it took for the leaves to fall gently is the same amount of energy to rake them up. Just displayed differently. A second instance of energy transformation is a 300 pound man losing 100 pounds. His weight was lost because he used it as energy. One third of him is gone forever in a different form--somewhat painless.
Another instance of thermodynamics is a bottle of propane ignited under a small stove heating water. The propane turns to fire transferring to heat energy thus boiling the water. The water then changes to steam. The steam evaporates into the air and/or atmosphere. The vapor then gets absorbed or diminishes and turns to rain or condensation, consumed by a living creature or living organism then used as energy
again and made whole to earth once more. (This is another transformation of energy.)

Life is quite simple in living terms. Energy can’t be created nor destroyed. Just transferred to different forms.. I’m not saying your death will be painless but I am telling you that your pain, if any, will only last a short time compared to time of existence. Some great writers have written that death is as easy as stepping out of your body. The smarter you are, the easier it will be to guide yourself through your one and only [mortal] life. I hope you read, learn, teach and guide, through the different and strange times which lay ahead. The one thing I have learned about emergency preparation is don’t waste time trying to convince anyone of their needs that don’t want convincing. No matter how much you love or care for somebody, prepare for your own immediate survival should be your top priority! You must take care of yourself in order to help take care of others.

To help keep you alive, I'll focus on one key preparedness step:

Prepare a laptop inside a Faraday Box”

You should store the following references on your laptop hard drive [or on memory sticks, CD-ROMs & DVDs that you can access with your laptop]:

To include valuable information on what people will need for survival trades and efficiency, for day to day living wants and needs.

Boots and Clothing:
How to repair boots and clothing, to include various sewing techniques, glues, patches, laces, buttons, zippers, sew kits, Velcro and items needed or stored.

Civil Defense:
Technical operation and/or procedures on how the civil authority will lead. Establish and support an authority figure during the crisis, which may mean you.

Combat Skills:
Various skills to lead and teach realistic offensive tactics and defensive tactics and positions. Don't overlook weapons training and weapons repair manuals. [JWR Adds: There are now some excellent training videos available on DVD, such as The Art of the Tactical Carbine, but of course they are no substitute for hands-on training and the hours of practice needed to create muscle memory. For some free assembly/disassembly manuals in PDF, see the manufacturer web sites, as well as Steve's Pages. (BTW, you'll also find a lot of useful military manuals at Steve's Pages, such as FM 3-105 Survivability. )

How to organize, maintain and discipline as a leader, how to give orders and create and maintain a disciplined organizational structure. See the military organizational manuals that describe Unity of Command and related topics.

Various types of radios, CB, Morse code [HF ham radio], American Sign Language (ASL). Also to include antenna fabrication and/or makeshift communications devices.

Computer Programs: 
In addition to backups of operating system and word processing/spreadsheets, include specialized programs related to radio communications, propagation, ballistics calculations, and others.

Information on how to:  Shelter building, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, welding, mold making and casting of raw materials.


How to maintain good teeth and dentistry with the correct tools when need be.

You must be knowledgeable and have key references.

Economics and References:
What brought us to this economic crisis and who are the money masters? How long has the monetary system been around? You could download thousand of pages and help teach the truth. Store your own economic data. [JWR Adds: References on the standard weight and composition of various silver and gold might be crucial.]

Encyclopedia Britannica:
The entire world at your finger tips such as, science, discovery, arts, crafts, math, English, videos, writings, and so much more.

Federal Emergency Management Agency- procedures, operations, expectations and what to expect for various disaster assistance.

MRE, freeze dried, dehydrated, stored foods, canned foods, canning, bottling, cooking, preparation, recipes, gardening, raising animals, making your own bread, sprouts, cookware, medical care with [soft] foods.

Various games to keep you [and your children] happy and keep morale up.

Health And Fitness:
Exercising, fitness, eating correctly, not being lazy - work, work, work.

Herb and Vitamin Cures:
Store massive amounts of data on herb and vitamin cures and personal treatments for all types of ailments. Don’t forget your vitamins.

Making your own soaps, bleach, laundry soaps. Learning to use household remedies. Toiletries, solutions, disease fighting techniques, and sanitary solutions to include corpse handling/burial.

Items Wanted/ Needed:
Keep notes and massive data on you need, not want, no matter how long it is. [JWR Adds: The Alpha Strategy by John Pugsley is a great starting point. The book is out of print, but a PDF is available for free download.]

Local Government Readiness:
It’s wise to be prepared. The government is a small number of people. Governments like to dictate how to, but you should learn how to, without the government.  It’s a never ending battle of learning to live and to expect the unexpected. Remember, what can go wrong will go wrong. Often, it will be something you would have never of thought of.

Maps (Road and Street), U.S. and Canada:
Collect massive amounts of data on streets and/or other geographical data for your region, to include railroads, bus systems, sewers, drains, taxi depots, bus depots. Getting lost is no fun.

Collect references on home remedies, medical and human anatomy. There are plenty of downloads out there. [JWR Adds: Start with a free download of Where There is No Doctor,and Where There is No Dentist, from The Hesperian Foundation.]

Monthly Checklist:
Include chores from every day to every month, month to month, year to year maintenance and up keep on grounds, machinery, equipment, tools, weapons and/or perimeter establishment and grounds.

Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC):
What to do in the attack scenario for nuclear, biological, and/or chemical attack or mishap. How to recover from the NBC situation. Recovery is your only option. There are lots of references on the Internet. I urge you to figure out what works best for you. Download it now and store it. You can always read more later. You must be able to retrieve data if the power grid is down, so plan ahead for alternate power source , inverters, and DC-to-DC adapters for your laptop. [Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearney is available for free download.]

Outdoor Survival: How can you survive in the woods, desert, jungle, sea, ocean, lake, mountains, brush, bush. How will you gather water and food? Get videos and download as much info as you can because you will never know where you could end up.

How to get rid of particular bugs, pests, rodents. How to attract them for your advantage and how to use them as bait.

Pets: Store food, water, medical, shelter, for your pets. Download veterinary guides to fix your pet's problems. Get antibiotics now and store them..

Pictures and Videos:
Store photos, pictures, movies and videos to look at and watch later. You will be surprised at just how much entertainment is out there. [JWR Adds: Instructional videos can also be stored--even ones found on YouTube.]

Power Heat Fuel:
How are you going to keep warm? How are you going to create power? Candle making, bio-fuel, liquor, wood, heat rocks, make a tent inside your home? Create electricity, solar, wind, hydro, Sterno, generators, steam power, Sterling engine power, making batteries, inverters, charge controllers, drawings, diagrams, schematics.

State the exact protocol or direction on how to handle the situation that just arose. Rule of thumb is to stay where you are for as long as you can safely.

Reading Materials:
Download books you might think you will like in the future. You may want to start downloading survival books, medical, nutritional, gardening, recipes, how to manuals, et cetera.

Download various Bible translations for future reference. The Grim Reaper may approach you sooner than you think. Laugh now but tomorrow may be another story. You will want the hands of God to guide you, even if you are presently a little skeptical.

Security Intelligence:
Who, what, when, why, where, how many, what are your intentions, weapons, who is the leader? What are you facing? The biggest threat are your neighbors and/or neighborhood. Where are the hideouts in your area? Is it the church or the stream bed? The best defense is a great offense.

Download various shelter building techniques-- underground shelters, bunkers, domes, ICF block construction, wood construction, adobe, rammed earth, straw bale and anything else you can get your hands on.

Invisibility is a great benefactor, ghillie suits are great, but if your opponent has thermal night vision gear, you are screwed. The best enemies are ones that will fight themselves. Camouflage is the greatest tactic.

Nuclear, biological, chemical, accidental, rail collisions, confusion, what to do and how to do it.

Buses, taxis, planes, trains, automobiles, animals, skateboard, foot/feet, bicycle, mini bike, moped, motor bike, electric skateboard, ski’s, camper, motor home, class A, B, &C, recreational vehicles, military vehicles, gyrocopter, helicopter, hot wiring, and so on.

Water filters, distilling, bleach, containers, pills, can you purify sea water? Do you know what to do if water is contaminated with nuclear fallout? How can you kill pathogens and bacteria? Water is the most vital information of all. Don’t take it for granted. What will you do if the tap stops working?

Manuals, drawings, spare parts, directions, tools needed for repairing weapons, oils, lubrications, cleaning supplies, gun safes, holsters, sights, extra ammo, extra magazines, and such.

Information and understanding of earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, summer’s extreme heat, winter’s extreme cold, fall, spring, ice storms, volcanoes, wind-driven wild fires, heavy snowfall, landslides, tsunami, thunderstorms, floods, droughts, severe climate shifts and wind storms. Are you ready for all of these?

Personally, I’m not as prepared as I should be, or would like to be. Many people that I have spoken to feel the same way. Money is presently very tight, and most people in reality are living week to week if not day to day.
Information in the United States or the World Wide Web thankfully costs nearly nothing. For me, knowledge right now seems to be the most important way I can prepare because it is free. I can help guide and teach people through their situations. Which to some may be more important than having worldly possessions.

If I had more money I would love to buy weapons, a month’s worth of  food, a piece of property, a house or a smile on someone else’s face.
For now I can only try to prepare by gathering the knowledge others never thought of, but may someday need.

JWR Adds: See the SurvivalBlog archives for a wealth of information (more than 8,000 archived posts) that will be useful in disaster situations. In addition to making digital archives as Dakota Diamond has suggested, I strongly recommend printing out or purchasing commercially printed hard copies of the most crucial references. (See my Bookshelf page, for some suggested "must" reference books.) Hard copy is the only sure way to have references at your fingertips, when the Schumer hits the fan.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I live in Albertville, Alabama.  We were hit by a tornado Saturday night. The things that I witnessed in Albertville were very similar to that of Yazoo City [which was recently described by another SurvivalBlog reader.]

I would like to add to some things for you to consider:

The tornado in our town stayed above the ground for a large part of the destruction.  This means that if you had trees close to your house, more than likely, you are going to have damage. Do not have trees too close or allow them to get too big.           

A house with a hip-style roof will hold-up better than a gabled roof.

Asphalt shingles actually outlasted tin.  Small portions of asphalt were missing in some people’s houses as opposed to large sections of tin. 

In this region, these storms always come from the West.  Have as few windows as possible on the west side.

More people will watch you work than help you work. 

People will come in and try to take your stuff.  We piled junk on the side of the road that was destroyed.  People had the gall to pick through our stuff as we were piling more onto the pile.  They were making a bigger mess than the tornado.  I explained that if they took one thing they were taking it all.  The woman called me an expletive and gave me the finger.  An officer, who I know, witnessed the whole thing and arrested the lady for hindering a government operation.

People will loot food and vice items quickly.  Convenience stores and grocery stores will be the first looted.

Never ever store anything you will need in an emergency situation in a portable out-building.  It will be scattered all over other people’s yards.

Do not park your camper in your front yard.  It will be in someone else’s yard when you find it.

If your area is impacted by a tornado, be prepared to be hassled.  Even if you know every officer in your town, other agencies will send officers to help and they do not know you.

If the stuff you need is away from your house you might not be able to get to it for many days.  My brother lives on the other side of Albertville.  He was not able to get me the tractor he had borrowed until Sunday afternoon.

Join a Reserve Deputy Program if you can.  The badge will help you get back to your home.

Be on a first name basis with an electrician.  When utility poles are snapped, they will get your house's power lines ready to be re-connected.

The bottom line is that my family has been reading this blog for several years.  If it was not for SurvivalBlog, we might be one of the guys looking for help instead of being ready to get to work.

I took the [November, 2009] blog post regarding generator preparation to heart, so my generator was ready to work the next morning after the tornado struck.

Thank you Mr. Rawles and thank you to those who post here. I am a better person for it. - JEH

I want to thank JIR for his article and the efforts he went through showing us how to construct and supply underground caches. I just wanted to suggest an alternative to the custom made containers by using a 300 gallon spherical below ground septic tank. They are made of watertight plastic with a o-ring sealed lid and weigh around 110 pounds. (See the Tank Depot web site.) The rough size of the tank is 54" in diameter and 51 inches tall with a 20 inch manhole cover. You would also only dig 118 cubic feet for a 5 foot diameter x 6 foot deep hole versus 280 cubic ft for a 5 foot wide x 4 foot tall x 14 foot long trench. The price for one of these tanks (without delivery) is under $400 ea. - DWJ

Howdy Jim,
Its a little more expensive possibly but you can use molded water/chemical tanks for your cache. They would be much easier to use than building a culvert. These ones have a 16" diameter opening at the top which would make it much easier to load and retrieve items and come in a variety of sizes. These tanks are very heavy duty and of seamless construction.

To line the pit used for any tank or cache I would use heavy pond liner. You can get this online up to 45 mils in thickness. Home Depot sell 15' x 15' pond liner in 20 mil thickness. Just line the hole with the appropriate size, add you cache container and wrap. I would then place a sheet on top sloping away from the cache that I was burying to direct seeping rainwater away. - Ken L.

"Hambone" sent us a link to a must-read piece over at Seeking Alpha: Current U.S. Dollar Currency Controls

Blaine sent an interesting article as follow-up to my link from Saturday: GM is using our tax dollars to repay our tax dollars to get more of our tax dollars at a reduced interest rate. A nice deal if you can get it.

H.T. sent this: Commercial Real Estate Losses and the Risk to Financial Stability. This U.S. Senate report begins: "The Congressional Oversight Panel's February oversight report, "Commercial Real Estate Losses and the Risk to Financial Stability," expresses concern that a wave of commercial real estate loan losses over the next four years could jeopardize the stability of many banks, particularly community banks. Commercial real estate loans made over the last decade - including retail properties, office space, industrial facilities, hotels and apartments - totaling $1.4 trillion will require refinancing in 2011 through 2014."

White House warns of the dangers of huge deficits

Debt panel says Obama will approve debt findings (before they're even made!)

Unemployment challenges Obama's rhetoric

Pennsylvania city considers bankruptcy

Eric S. sent this bit of NOAA prognostication: Warming in America; Mass migrations, water wars, and insect plagues. How will climate change reshape the electoral map? Even without "abrupt" climate change, economic and demographic shifts dictate that times will likely be difficult, for decades to come.

   o o o

Gary and Marie K. were the first of several readers to send us this piece that originated from Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Prepping for the worst

   o o o

Ay, ay, ay: Two Illinois lawmakers ask governor to deploy National Guard to help quell gun violence in Chicago. (Hat tips to both Ed B. and frequent contributor Chad S. for the link.)

   o o o

GG flagged this: More American Expatriates Give Up Citizenship. (And here is some commentary by Lew Rockwell.)

   o o o

R.J. suggested this piece on Peak Oil: The Imminent Crash of Oil Supply: Be Afraid

"As the state grows, one’s sense of self-ownership is destroyed, liberty is traded for 'security', the human spirit diminishes, and the citizenry increasingly thinks and behaves like dependent children". - Eric Englund in Income Taxes, Obesity, and Other Maladies of Nanny Statism, 2005.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We are praying for the folks in the tornado-ravaged portions of Mississippi. OBTW, one the readers' letters posted today is a first-hand account of traversing the aftermath.


Because of some manufacturing difficulties, one of the prizes for the First Place winner of the writing contest has been changed. Instead of a A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit, the folks at Safecastle.com are substituting a 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator. (A $275 value.) We greatly appreciate the generous support of all of the companies that provide writing contest prizes!


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com. (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

If you are concerned about hiding a large amount of goods from looters, neighbors or other busybodies, remember that no indoor hiding place is likely to survive a determined search. If your home is the only place you have food and provisions, you may be forced to fight against very long odds to try to keep it. If you are forced to abandon your home in the middle of the night or burned out by looters, you might appreciate having a store of food and other gear in a safe, undetectable location where you can recover it. You might want to consider constructing a series of permanent underground caches. Underground is the safest place to hide something, but the most difficult to construct. There is no such thing as permanent, of course, but you can come pretty close if you follow a few rules and take a little care.

I have 3 large caches that I buried over the course of the last year. Having three redundant cache sites is pretty excessive, I know, but forgive me my excesses. I had the materials and the surplus supplies, so I used them. They cost very little to stock the way I do it and I had almost everything on hand anyway. They are cheap to construct if you can borrow or rent earth moving machinery and hey, you know what we say, two is one and one is none. Having three of them gives me more tactical options if I ever need them. I went a little overboard on waterproofing too because I was learning as I went along and found very little practical information on the web to help. I will pass on the procedures I used because they worked, and try to point out some of the stupid errors I made along the way.

The biggest problem with burying things is water. Soil is mostly permeable to water and may hold moisture year round. This will cause containers to rust away or otherwise degrade. Moisture inside your cache container can be a disaster causing rust and rot. If you can get around this problem, underground hiding places are excellent. They are temperature stable and very secure.

For containers, you need something extremely durable, and physically strong (to resist ground pressure), and completely rat-proof. You probably can't waterproof your container well enough to prevent moisture from accumulating inside it, so you will need to put it somewhere dry and allow it to stay that way by diverting water away from it. You are shooting for a sort of man-made cave where your goods can stay dry and at a relatively constant temperature for decades.

Plastic buckets can work for small, temporary caches, but are unsuitable for unattended storage of longer than a few weeks. I feel that eventually, rodents will find any container you bury and if it's not rodent proof, you will have rat damage. For long term, storage you will want something much bigger, stronger and rodent-proof. I feel that (New) Steel drums are an excellent choice for this. They are strong, water tight, and resist corrosion well. If you can get these, they are probably the easiest and best container. An even larger container can be made of road culvert if you can seal off the ends with rat-proof doors or panels. You could probably also use galvanized trash bins, or old refrigerators and other appliances, but these are less durable than an industrial drum and could collapse if driven over by a vehicle.

These containers can be buried almost anywhere the terrain and soil is suitable, but should be located in a place where nobody is likely to suspect anything of value is located. A hay field away from any public road, public grazing lands, forestry service lands, power cuts, or almost any scrub lands are ideal. There are endless possibilities. You can even bury these in your back yard or under a building if you wish. Bury it deep enough to ensure the top is under ground by at least 6 inches (a foot seems better to me and more temperature stable). Moving this much dirt around is pretty much insanity without a backhoe or other earth moving machinery, so avoid using large culvert unless you can bury them without attracting attention. If you must hand-dig, you should probably use a smaller container, like a drum. I started excavating by hand but that didn't last very long. I dug for two hours and didn't seem to make much of a dent in the ground. A back-hoe is definitely the way to go, but only if you can keep your cache sites a strict secret.

The key things you need to look for in a cache site are:

1. Deep water table and good drainage. This is a huge problem in my area and finding a good site is difficult. Your container will not be completely water tight and will quickly fill with water if your site is wrong. I determined this by testing two sites using plastic pails. The side of a gentle slope works pretty well. Avoid low ground that could collect rain run-off. If your soil is wet all the time, you are going to have to use a very large piece of plastic sheeting to divert water and protect your cache. The soil should ideally be dry year round once you get a couple of feet down. If not, you may still be ok if you use enough plastic to divert surface water around your cache. You can test your site by loading a cache drum or (perforated) bucket with a little cotton cloth (I used a couple of white bath towels), bury it using the same techniques you will use for your cache and leave it a year or at least leave it through your local wet season. When you dig it up and inspect, there should be no water damage to the towels and no evidence of water on the inside of the drum. One of my pails (buried in a flat, sort of wet forest floor) flooded in spite of the plastic sheeting, but the one buried into a slope had no sign of moisture at all. The ground water had passed over the top of the sheet and left the soil underneath dry.

Some regions have the opposite problem. Trying to cache anything deeply in Arizona, for instance hits rock-hard clay a foot deep. Even with a pick it's almost impossible to dig through. If your soil bottoms out in caliche clay or bedrock, underground storage may not be for you. Even if you manage to blast your way down deep enough, water is likely to gather there when it rains and flood your site. There, drainage is almost non-existent.

2. Remote or at least hidden location. Nobody can know you have hidden something there. Security is key. If anyone knows you have buried something, you will probably lose your cache. Your site should have a hidden approach and egress route to facilitate recovery. Ideally, it should be in an area where people simply won't go. There should be nothing nearby that could draw people to the area like water or game or even fire-wood. If you use earth moving machinery, you need to do it where nobody will wonder why and investigate.

3. Room to bury your containers between trees or other obstacles without leaving signs that you were there. You may need several drums to cache all your gear and supplies. In the case of a big cache, you will want room to move earth-moving machinery around the site. Digging through thick roots by hand is soul-destroying work. Make it easy on yourself and find a nicer place to dig, or rent a back-hoe.

Choose your sites with great care and the rest is easy. The general procedure is simple. Bury the drum or culvert laying on it's side and before you replace the sod or leaf litter, pack dirt around the drum and then lay down a generous portion of heavy plastic sheeting. Cover the sheet with a foot of soil and replace the sod or leaf litter. With the sod layer in place, the cache will be undetectable without a metal detector in a few weeks.

What should you include in your cache for permanent storage and how do you pack it?

Waterproof each item separately as if it were going underwater, if possible. All foods stored underground should be canned in enameled cans or glass jars. Glass is fragile, but won't ever rust away, even if your cache leaks. If you go this route as I did, add an oxygen absorber and dip the lids in paraffin to waterproof them and your jars should last virtually forever. To minimize breakage, you can wrap each jar in newspaper, or tie them into the legs of pants or wrap them in other clothing, like sweaters and jackets. This seems wasteful of space, but you may be glad you included extra the clothing later. Whatever you use, I recommend you pad your jars excessively. If your disaster turns out to be an earthquake, you will be glade you did and newspaper is cheap. Loading your cache should probably be done at the site if you use glass. Too much rattling around will cause breakage. If you can pack the container very tight and fill all the free space with cloth or paper, it may ride in the back of a truck, but I can't recommend this. Each drum will be very heavy when loaded.

Contents: The purpose of these caches (for me) are to be stand-alone survival kits for long term sustainment. Each one should assume that this is the only supply you will have. That way, if you need to bug-out and leave all your gear behind, you can re-supply, even if all of your sites but one are compromised. I know that's a tall order, but try to store only items that will be hard to get after TEOTWAWKI or very likely to be needed. It can be done rather cheaply if you take a minimalist approach and leave out the frills.

Food: (The most important thing to store)
All of the foods stored in this type of long term cache should be dry goods with very long shelf lives. I store mostly wheat and beans, with some white rice, salt and white sugar. I also include some garlic powder, vitamin C crystals, peppercorns and cinnamon. That's it. I don't even try to store baking powder since it won't last more than a few years. You really can't store anything in here that you will want to rotate. Digging these things up often is a bad idea. Not only could you give away your cache location, but loosening the dirt around them every year may cause them to take on water. I recommend inspecting each cache infrequently. I checked all of my caches after a year and took one completely apart to check the weapons and clothing integrity. They were all bone dry (and the weapons were still greasy and unchanged). I hike by each of them every few weeks to see if the area has been disturbed, but I doubt if I will dig them up again for several years. I don't feel the need.

Before you start trying to store a whole armory, ask yourself two questions: "If this is the only weaponry I have available, can I get by?" and "Do I really need to store this?" Your answers will be different from mine, but try to minimize your weapons. Every cubic inch you use for weapons is space you won't have for food or clothing or other vital supplies. All weapons are costly and if you spend a lot on them, you are really going to get your feelings hurt if one of them rusts solid or gets stolen by a construction crew that accidentally digs up your cache. Keep it simple, cheap and expendable. Almost any old surplus military rifle is ideal for this kind of storage, but your choice is your own.

I chose two inexpensive weapons for each of my caches and a small amount of ammunition: I chose an SKS carbine because I had several of these and like them. I bought several at $130 each a few years ago. I fired them to confirm the iron sight's zero and was planning to sell them or store them for hard times. When I decided to store them underground, I cleaned three of them well, took them apart and packed them in automotive grease in a cotton sheet and enclosed the whole thing in plastic. The bores, chambers and mechanisms including the trigger mechanisms are literally packed solid in grease. The whole assembly is then dropped into a section of 8 inch PVC pipe with a moisture absorbing silica gel pack and the cap glued on with pipe glue. It's just that simple.

In each cache I also store a .38 revolver with 6 inch bbl. I got a deal on these for $190 each, but they were almost as expensive as the food I stored. If I had it to do over, I would probably not bother storing pistols, or use ones I already had. They are all good quality weapons, police surplus, packed in grease and wrapped in cotton before sealing them in plastic bags. Are they ideal? Not even close, but they are all serviceable handguns and adequate for my purposes. This pistol will fit neatly into the PVC container with the carbine, or you can hedge your bets and prepare a separate container for it out of a short section of 6 inch pipe. The pipe container that I have checked didn't seem to change even after a year of storage. I used a quality (Quaker state) automotive grease and it looked pretty much the same a year later.

I also stored ammunition and other metal objects the same way, but my ammo is sealed by itself. I don't think exposure to grease or solvents is harmful to ammo, but why take chances? My ammo is sealed in glass jars and well padded before sealing in a pipe section. I chose to store 20 loaded stripper clips of 7.62x39 FMJ and 50 loose rounds of .38+P 158gr lead SWC hollow points. In two of my caches, I also included a couple of speed loaders and a holster, almost as an afterthought. I forgot to include a cleaning kit and need to add that sometime.

I have a sheath knife and a Machete stored at each site for chores. Both are greased and sealed with the firearms. The only metal tools I store outside of a PVC container are a short handled shovel and a small pick which I threw in after oiling them. Neither of these tools had changed much after a year, but the oil had evaporated or dried up.

Clothing and bedding:
Each cache site has 2 sleeping bags and 4 blankets, all polyester. Why? Besides being cheap, polyester can sit for years under water and still come out functional. Polyester is sensitive to sunlight, but not water. Besides that, I got a deal on them. I wrapped each sleeping bag in a 10x12 poly tarp and 550 cord to make a shelter out of if needed and seal the whole thing in a plastic trash bag. I bought the poly tarp new and I probably should have left it in the plastic bag it came with.

Each cache has some "Goodwill" clothes, new underwear, socks and a pair of my old army boots stored in plastic bags inside a couple of plastic boxes. For my wife, I bought new sneakers. she is not the boot type. These clothes are the most vulnerable part of the cache and cannot survive water submersion. So far, none of them have been harmed by underground storage.

A .50 ammo can holds a first aid kit (I know, these have a limited shelf life), Grain mill (dismantled), lighter, matches two (polyester) hammocks and a small supply of bug repellent, Leatherman tool, Polar Pur water treatment crystals, a small water filter and other sundries. I have toyed with including some cash or gold in this ammo can, since I have space, but opted instead to stuff some more socks and underwear in it. You might want to place a few silver or gold coins in the can, just in case. This can and the contents were bought new and represents a lot of the money I spent to build these caches. Just the water filters and grain mills were around $60 each. You can probably skimp a little on the sundries and still have a viable kit, but I got a little giddy while I was shopping. Be careful what you choose for water purification. Bleach bleeds through most containers in time and will rust all the metal around it and so will iodine. My Polar Pur crystals are still sealed and haven't leaked yet. Next time I open the caches I intend to remove the Polar Pur bottles from my ammo can, just in case.

Each of my caches also contain two cheap stock pots, a camping mess kit, some utensils, hobo stove and a collapsible 5 gallon jug for potable water. In my last two caches, I added a couple of 5 gallon buckets because they are so useful and I had the space. These buckets contain wheat, but I don't yet know if it will go bad. (It survived the first year).

Building the sites:
Since I was unable to easily get new industrial drums, I went with galvanized road culvert. Three foot diameter culvert is expensive if new, but you might be able to salvage something like this from a construction site. That's what I did. I got three sections of 8 foot culvert for the price of cutting it up and was able to use them all, even though one is dented slightly and a little shorter. Culvert is probably a lot more trouble than drums, but drums are expensive and you will need several per cache site. The companies I contacted didn't even want to give me a quote on six drums. I think most people who sell new drums deal in volume. So I gave up and looked for something else, in this case 3 ft diameter road culvert. Smaller diameter culvert would probably work just as well and would be a lot easier to bury and haul around. If I were doing this over I would choose one foot diameter culvert no more than 4 or 5 feet long and use a lot of them.

To prepare a culvert as a long term cache, you need to rat-proof it. I used two sheet metal panels cut from an old refrigerator and held by stainless steel 1/8th inch bolts. The panel was cut to fit the corrugation very closely and held in place by two lengths of angle iron bolted to the culvert. There are a lot of ways to do this, I just had some angle iron and sheet metal lying around and threw it together. I highly recommend you arrange some kind of door instead. A door would be much more convenient for inspecting the cache. The method I chose means I have to uncover each bolt head by digging a lot more dirt from underneath the culvert than would be needed with a door. Further, a welded on door would probably be much stronger and tighter. My panels have about 1/8th inch open space between the sheet metal and the culvert wall, not very tight. I also lined my first two culvert bottoms with mixed sand and cat litter, but I don't really know what I was thinking. This step is unnecessary and I almost broke my back doing it. To load the culvert with supplies, it's easiest to work from both ends and then close it up. On my first site, I buried one end and then tried to load it, (bad planning). Since most of my storage containers are tubes or round, I stack my supplies on their sides. Most of the space is taken up with 1/2 gallon glass jars full of wheat or other foods. Each jar is padded with clothing or newspaper.

Beware, culvert pipe weighs a lot. I was able to bury and man-handle mine into position all alone, but I used a borrowed Bobcat earth mover and a winch to do it. (Be very careful not to make chain marks on nearby trees if you use a winch. Pad the trees to avoid damaging the bark.) If you try to bury one of these by hand, you will probably die of exhaustion before you get the hole dug. Digging a 5 foot x 14 foot trench is a lot of work, even with machinery. Once you have your hole, you can load and seal your cache and then cover it over with at least a foot of dirt. Pack the dirt in tightly around your culvert or drums. This prevents the dirt from settling later and allowing water to drain in.

Lay a sheet of heavy plastic over the site, after packing in the drums with fill dirt. You can buy rolls of heavy plastic at any hardware store.
Get at least 6 mil plastic and it should hold up for many years. The plastic should be under at least a few inches of soil and positioned to re-route water under the soil surface so it won't seep into your cache. The sod should placed back over the whole thing. Replace as much ground cover as possible to camouflage the site and get rid of any machine marks or tracks. If you did a good job of choosing and sealing your site, the inside is surprisingly dry and temperature stable.

I highly recommend adding an inventory sheet near one of the ends. Without mine I would have had no idea what I was looking at or what I stored by the time I cracked open the cache.

One last challenge: Excess dirt. You are going to have to figure out how to dispose of a lot of dirt. I didn't anticipate this. I used a Bobcat [earth mover] to move a lot of it over the site and scatter it, but I still had to load a lot of it in my truck bed and haul it away. I took it to a low area and dumped it. But this is a lot of work. I did the same thing at all three sites since I had no better solution. I don't recommend leaving a huge pile of dirt next to your cache for obvious reasons. Think it through before you start and you will have more fun than I did.

Conclusion: I have used temporary underground and underwater caches for years in the military, so I suspected a long term cache could be constructed, but until I tried it, I was still a little apprehensive. After inspecting all three sites and checking one of them thoroughly, I have lost much of my trepidation. If you take care to protect everything from moisture and vermin, you can store supplies underground for extended periods. If you live in a place where you are likely to be looted, beat them to the punch and hide it first. When the looters come to call, they will find the cupboard bare. - JIR

Dear Editor:
I have been reading your blog for a while but until Saturday, I never saw how a disaster could unhinge some people so quickly and what lack of preparedness can do to some people.

I went to deliver a chainsaw, some gas and water to a relative in Yazoo City and what is usually a 45 minute drive took over 2 hours. Land lines and cell towers were down, and if you had a phone with a certain carrier, the service was very spotty. The traffic was bad and the roads into the town were blocked and we were turned away twice by a motley group of authorities but mostly State police. One local deputy was sympathetic and told us a way to get in the town that was 35 miles out of our way and we eventually got close to the north side of town and we had to drive over live power lines and swerve around transformers. We got to the entrance of town and there were two State troopers blocking the exit but we told them we were delivering some supplies and they let us through. Eventually, we reached the home and there were trees and power lines everywhere. No power, no gas lines, homes and cars crushed, etc. One generator was being shared by neighbors and gas was being siphoned out of boats and cars to power it. There was one electric chainsaw that was plugged into the generator.

Things to note were that the authorities were very stressed out and not experienced with this kind of devastation and there were many people who tried to get to loved ones or family that couldn't get past the road blocks. Some people just left their cars on the sides of the road and were allowed to walk into town. One lady drove around the roadblock and was chased by a cop car. There were people panicking and the Red Cross got there and all they were doing was handing out water bottles. The power company was only responsible for getting the trees off the power lines. You could see people just staring at their crushed homes and houses wondering what to do. There were cops on four wheeler ATVs just riding around and eventually the National Guard showed up but they were just driving around.

Some lessons learned:

No one is getting into town right after a disaster

Have a big chainsaw and make sure there are no trees in your yard

Have a four-wheeler and a 15 foot trailer to haul out pieces of debris from your home/yard

Have a siphon and a generator

Know how to turn off your gas in your home because live wires and natural gas don't mix

Know beforehand that the authorities are not there to help you but to maintain order and the power company is not going to cut down that tree that is now in your dining room.

Brick homes fare better than stick ones

Anticipate that neighbors are going to freak out and run around like chickens with their heads cut off and try to do silly things like get in their cars and drive over debris in the road and get stuck and pop their tires.

Have gloves and chains in your truck and keep a full tank of gas at all times. Some people ran out of gas in the traffic.

Realize that tensions are going to be high and seeing weird things like one group of people having a barbecue and getting drunk and across the street one family was sitting on the lawn waiting for help is a recipe for a bad situation. I saw a kid in the road trying to flag us down and there were some guys leaning up against a house a bit out of sight. We just drove around him. I couldn't believe that it was already getting strange and the tornado was only a few hours earlier.

So in a nutshell, that was my experience and one more thing, the tornado hit so fast that the siren didn't give enough warning. And what was worse, people are conditioned to think the siren means thunderstorm or it could be a test or something else. So no one was prepared until they heard the freight train sound and with no one having basements in Mississippi, there isn't really a safe place to be.

Sincerely, - James H.

I have ten of the DeWalt 18 VDC power tools and four of the batteries. This is an excellent product line that has proven much better than some of the older 12 volt and corded tools that they replaced. The impact driver, circular saw, and reciprocating saw have already proven to be very useful. These are excellent survival tools because you can get a lot of work done with them and a good set of 3 or 4 batteries without needing [120 VAC utility] power. DeWalt sells almost all of their 18 VDC power tools as "tool only" kits that have just the tool without the batteries and charger. These offers are usually about 1/2 the cost of the standard package that includes a plastic case, one or two batteries, and a charger. Once you have your first tool or two, you really do not need to pay for more batteries or chargers. For example, my first DeWalt 18 VDC tool was the hammer drill with a charger and two of the Li-Ion batteries. This cost about $325 at Home Depot. The bare tool version of the same tool costs $139.99 at Northern Tool & Equipment. [Use their Search box with the phrase "DeWalt tool only".] They have some of the best prices and offer free shipping on DeWalt power tools. You can also get good prices on refurbished or reconditioned 18 VDC Dewalt "tool only" buys, for even less, including some like the 18 volt nailer that are not otherwise available as bare tools. - Dr. R.

Life in the Big City: Multiple Pedestrians Ignore Dying New York Hero. No comment necessary! Draw your own conclusions about where you choose to live.

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Anyone interested in getting ready for a post Peak Oil world should check out Transition US Social Network. Much like the excellent LATOC Forums (which I've mentioned in SurvivalBlog many times), there is some lively discussion there. They even had a big discussion about the legitimacy and motives of Survivalists, early last year.

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K.S. suggested this article: Crisis, Martial Law, and Black Market Operation - which in my estimation has applicability to other barter situations.

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Chris P. sent this gem: Build Your Own Cellular Network

"The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, [It will be] fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, [It will be] foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O [ye] hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not [discern] the signs of the times?" - Matthew 16:1-3 (KJV)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Baen Books will soon release the new science fiction anthology "Citizens" edited by John Ringo. All of the authors are not only veteran sci-fi writers, but also military veterans. They include Jerry Pournelle, Keith Laumer, Arthur C. Clarke, David Drake, Joe Haldeman and Robert Heinlein, along with several newer writers, including Survivalblog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson.


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Anyone following my blog might get the sense that I'm independently wealthy due to all the fruit and nut trees that I've planted this year alone. Any person making that assumption would be wrong, I'm simply very cheap. Doing a rough estimate, I've come to the conclusion that over 60 perennial fruit and nut trees, vines and bushes have cost me somewhere just south of $250. When you look at a big name nursery catalog and do the math, I've avoided costs of close to $1000.

In the spirit of teaching and helping us, as Americans and people, I'd like to share some of my secrets to gathering the plants necessary to start a food forest that will sustain you and yours for many years to come.

1. Free trees from nature.

This one is the least expensive method but it is also the one that is the hardest and least accessible for some of us. The fact remains that the plants that grow best are either native species or invasive persistent species. For example, throughout much of the country persimmon trees grow wild. While is isn't feasible or advisable to try and dig up a 10 foot tree (or larger), there are ways to get seedlings with this knowledge.

The method is as follows: Between late spring and early fall find land in which persimmons may be thought to reside and convince your way onto the property. Beforehand, gather as much intelligence on the tree species as possible. Know what the shape of the tree is. Does it grow in a pyramid shape or does it spread? Know the leaf shape and habit. Know when it sets fruit. KNOW EVERYTHING POSSIBLE. Search the property for a large tree and then making spiraling circles outward, find smaller specimens. In most if not all cases the leaves and bark will be similar or the same as the larger tree. The tree make reproduce through simple fruit and nut drop or through suckering. Suckering is the act of tree reproduction through root sprout growth. Either way, the offspring remain somewhat close to the parent in proximity.

This next step is important. Resist the urge to take shovel to dirt. Simply mark the tree. Moving it when it has leaves on it or even worse--fruit--is foolhardy at best. What you want to do at this point is to mark the tree and wait until it turns dormant which in the case of deciduous trees is late fall through early spring (with variances). The marking can be done with contractor flags or any other device that will persist through weather and the elements.

When the dormant time comes, go back and dig the tree up. If the tree is small enough, the roots can be gently cleaned of dirt and wrapped in a very damp newspaper or placed in a bucket of water. If the tree is large, the entire root ball can be removed, dirt and all and potted until time to plant.

2. Free trees from the grocery or market.

In the case of some stone fruits such as peaches and apricots, seedlings can be grown from the fruit pits. It should be noted however that only some of these offspring may not be true to type. In other words you may not get an Elberta peach from the pit of an Elberta peach (but lots of times you will). [JWR Adds: Because of the time and effort required to grow a seedling to fruit-bearing age, you must weigh the cost/benefit ratio. Generally, for most of us, it is best to expend some cash to start with "known good stock", rather than invest your sweat equity is raising a bunch of "maybe" hybrid seedlings!]

The process is as follows:

Remove the pit from the fruit and let it dry. Crack the pit carefully and remove the seed. Stratify the seed. Stratification is the act of replicating the cold damp conditions of winter with the seed by placing it in a cold damp environment such as a refrigerator (or simply letting nature do it). Then the seed can either sprout in place or be placed in sterile medium to do so.

The best article I've found for doing this is located here.

Whether you transplant existing trees or grow new ones from seed, you really should plant them before the dormant stage ends. That means early spring. Though some people do have luck planting in late fall.

3. Cheap trees from your state.

Many many people are unaware that many states have a forestry division that sells trees at extremely affordable prices. For example, I recently purchased 20 Pecan seedlings and 20 Pawpaw seedlings for less than $50 from Kentucky's Forestry Division.

Please be aware that my state fills out of state orders at their discretion. You should check with your local forestry division first. You can generally find your state's by typing "(your state's name) forestry" into any Internet search engine.

The best part is that these trees are native to your state and grown in your state, making them ideal for your conditions.

4. Cheap trees from Arbor Day.

It is no secret that The Arbor Day Foundation deals in trees. What is lesser known though is the fact that Arbor Day sells fruit trees. These trees are extremely affordable through a $5 membership which pays itself back very quickly. I recently purchased standard apple and plum trees from ArborDay.org for less than $10 each.

5. Cheap trees from the big name nurseries.

Wait, didn't I say above that doing so would be expensive? Yes I did. However all rules have exceptions.

Gurney's and Henry Fields send out catalogs with $20 off $40 purchases throughout the season. I find and take advantage of these offers. But even if you miss them you can search "Gurneys Discount Code" through a search engine and find a working code with a little work. Punch it into the checkout box and voila! cheap trees.

In conclusion, growing a food forest doesn't have to be a huge up front investment. For the clever and thrifty, an orchard can be had for pennies on the dollar. I hope some of the things I've learned can benefit others looking for food independence. I'm sure my readers have their own methods. How do you obtain inexpensive trees?

Hi Mr. Rawles,
Here's an interesting article I just came across: Bunker Mentality: The Ultimate Underground Shelter.

This is the web site for the company: Terra Vivos.

I guess this concept was inevitable and I would expect that more companies would get into this business. While I don't fault anyone from wanting to be prepared, I just see tremendous logistical problems that I doubt would be surmountable. It also seems to me that these "McBunkers" might represent a large bullseye target from opportunists.

Take care, - BB

JWR Replies: I agree! Be very wary of large scale commercial ventures with a high public profile, folks! Even if they are entirely legit, there is still the risk that they will end up on the post-Schumer shopping list for some One-Percenter biker gang.

J. Rawles:
My wife and I have the chance to buy a farm in the Toledo [southern] district of Belize. With our savings, and [with] what we net out of selling [our house] in San Diego, I can afford to pay cash for it. I really feel the need to "Get Outta Dodge". The farm has two springs and a creek. I'm self-employed. I write software, freelance, mostly for my former employer. I earn around $80K per year. That [much income] is considered a fortune [in Belize.] I speak decent Spanish, and my wife is fully fluent [in Spanish]. (She has relatives in Belize--and one, her uncle, will be our next-door neighbor!) So, if I do "go ex-pat", what are the tax implications? Thanking You in Advance, - Pete in San Diego

JWR Replies: The first $91,400 per year that you earn (or $182,800 for a husband and wife, filing a joint return) overseas is exempt from US Federal income tax ("foreign earned income"). But this is only if you meet a few conditions--most notably that the portion of your income that is exempt can't be interest income or royalty income, and that you spend less than 30 days each year visiting the United States. (You must be a qualified "foreign resident.") For details, see the IRS web page links on the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) page and the instructions for IRS Form 2555. May God bless you and your family, in your upcoming move!

Dear James:
As a builder, I rely on 120 VAC current for everything, including charging the dozen or so cordless tool batteries that we use daily. I recently purchased a DeWalt 12VDC "car charger" and am in the process of streamlining my cordless tool collection. I have a bunch of different tools and batteries from a variety of manufacturers, which I'm liquidating. In going to an all-DeWalt power tool collection, I now have the ability to charge all of my batteries (regardless of voltage) from a PV panel and voltage- regulated jump pack. I'm sure other tool manufacturers offer car chargers for their batteries too. In an extended grid down situation, I'll still have plenty of operational tools, lights, and a radio as well. Thanks for all you do, - AdamElk

JWR Replies: I agree that cordless power tools made by Dewalt using 18 volt batteries are a good choice, especially if you get the ones with their latest "Nano" lithium ion battery technology. (The lithium ion batteries are still bit expensive for now, but I expect those prices to continue to fall, with the economies of scale. )

Andrew B. suggested this analysis from the folks at Stratfor: Dirty Bombs Revisited: Combating the Hype

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Reader Bret F. flagged this: Death of 'Caveman' ends an era in Idaho. Oh, and here is a link to a video clip about him: Diggin' Dugout Dick in Idaho. OBTW, I highly recommend the book Last of the Mountain Men by Harold Peterson, about Sylvan Hart (aka "Buckskin Bill") who lived up in the River of No Return hinterboonies. Sylvan Hart epitomized true self-sufficiency, and was a genuine character. I would have liked to have met him.

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Volcanism expert Barry Weaver (a professor at Oklahoma University) is scheduled to be a guest on Lan Lamphere's Overnight AM show on Monday night.

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EMB liked this piece at Instructables: Turn a wine barrel into an outdoor sink

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K. in Vermont suggested this: How olive oil helps 'switch off' genes which lead to conditions including heart disease and arthritis

"If you are in the hip pocket of any political party, prepare to be sat on." - Dr. Gary North

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most people find themselves looking at TEOTWAWKI as some sort of extended outdoorsy jaunt. Some people think of it as hard times. Me, I think it could be both, and then again it could be near mass extinction. But to make any type of sensible decision as to disaster preparation, you have to determine what is truly important. So let me simplify things for those of you all wadded up in bugout vehicles and plans for where to go and what ammo and guns are best to "protect yourself".

First, if you are dead, then you will no longer care. Game over, "DNF" and end of the line. So item one is your life. If you have family, then there is more reason to stay alive, as they will likely need you. Simple first question: do you want to get in a firefight over your home with someone? Frankly, I can live without my home, so easy decision. [JWR Adds: That might be the case in the cities and the suburbs, where a house is just a glorified box. But for many of us that have already relocated to the boonies, our homes represent our self-sufficient livelihood, since we've painstakingly built up stored firewood, gardens, orchards, vineyards, and flocks. In some situations giving that up would be akin to giving up your clothes in a blizzard.] What about my vehicle? Ditto - can live and survive without it. Pride? Pecking order? All ego-baloney that can get you in bad situations and get you killed. Avoiding confrontation is the key to not getting injured or shot. There is always someone with a bigger gun or a sharper knife or younger and faster than you.

The single best thing you can have as a survival tool is knowledge. Skills come from knowledge and can be taught and learned. But your best tool is your noggin and what you have packed away inside it. Read - test - trial - learn - practice - experiment. Use your brain to make yourself capable of surviving.

Guns? Honestly, you will be able to trade a copy of ‘How to reload cartridges without a reloading press’ for a gun if serious SHTF. Likewise, you can probably think of other things you know how to do that are essentials which are easily worth a gun or just a meal or a stay in someone’s camp. Can you make a mold from river clay and cast bullets? Can you fix a generator? Do you know how to get casing head drip from an oil well Christmas tree and use it for fuel? Do you even know if there are oil wells or gas wells near you? Do you know how to make pine tar? How can you make a simple pump to pull water from a well without electricity? Can you cure and store meat without refrigeration? The historical knowledge lists is long, but go back to the 1800s and do some research. If TSHTF, electricity is likely the first casualty, whether it is from catastrophe or switched off by runaway government whackos. Hurricane Ike was a nice practice run for us here in Texas, where many of us were without juice for over a week during the summer.

If TSHTF, the first thing to collapse will be corporations, as they are all about one thing - money. And money isn't worth anything when survival is at stake. During Hurricane Ike, people skipped work to leave town or rig up for the storm. If it is something much worse, then work will be "out of the window" for most corporate critters. We are much more worried about our families and our "stuff".

Realize that if you know where to look and how your little neck of the woods is set up, you can find resources to survive well rather than trying to tote all you need on your back. Take a drive and look around at what will be there when nobody gives a d**n about going in to work. Excess gear makes you a slow moving and appealing target for anti-social urban whackadoos with a 9mm and a couple of magazines. People only rob from those that have something they covet, so keep your goodies minimal, versatile and simple.

Think like a sailor - minimize material resources you consider absolute essentials and get what you need between your ears where you can live off whatever is at hand. Simplify - simplify - and then simplify again. I hate to get all twisted up in trying to outline all the possibilities - there are far too many. Know that whatever it is will likely be in some form or other we were not expecting in all our planning. Lower your expectations as much as you can - imagine it very uncomfortable, because if it comes to a choice between living or retaining some comfort, I am all about living.

Remember - Murphy's Law rules when TSHTF. The best capital for barter is knowledge - it weighs nothing, sells high and is viable currency when you have customers who need it. Skills run a very close second, but which ones are most valuable depend on what happens. Growing veggies will not matter if we nuke each other or California slides into the Pacific or Yellowstone erupts. Besides - if you can't grow beans you are likely doomed anyway, unless you are a doctor or nurse with practical field knowledge. But again, this is knowledge - and it will trade anywhere it is needed.

That's about as detailed as I think I need to dig into this. If you cannot wrap your mind around what I am saying, then you are unaware of the world you are living in and you honestly have not been reading your history enough. Read - learn - use your imagination. Know your own history and learn things that are practical, valuable and important to survival alone and in a group.

Lone wolves have lots of trouble surviving - that's why they naturally form into packs. The reason we are top species on this ball of dirt is our brains. That is what may make it possible for us humans to survive cataclysm where dinosaurs could not: think!

[JWR Adds: In my estimation, a large quantity of gear and consumables will be an asset, rather than a hindrance. As long as it is kept hidden and left unmentioned except to your most trusted friends, a deep larder can be a tremendous asset. It will carry your family through hard times, and also give you the opportunity to be covertly charitable. I also believe that it is naive to expect to be able to trade a book for a gun,--or even a huge pile of books for a gun. In a societal collapse, guns will be a precious commodity. It would take massive depopulation before they'd ever become "cheap."

The recent post on battery rejuvenation touts a $200 unit, but the reality is that electronic battery [pulse] desulfators for 12V batteries are widely available for as little as $25 and they do just as well. (Check eBay for the phrase 'battery desulfator' and for more info on units, Google search the term.) The devices I believe originated in the Army decades ago and they operate by taking a little of the battery DC and changing it to AC impulses that break down lead sulfate crystals by hitting them at a resonant frequency of the molecule. This may operate by a piezoelectric kind of effect that mechanically vibrates the crystals to self-wear them down..In any event, if a battery is not shorted out internally but is one that's developed a high resistance coatings of crystals on the plates, this can add life. If one has electronics construction skills, you also can buy inexpensive kits for building rejuvenators. Be aware that rejuvenation takes a lot of time to take effect, sometimes on the order of weeks. The kit units can be left on working batteries to keep them from developing sulfation in the future, but eventually normal lead shedding will kill off many batteries, especially if it creates internal shorts. Then, charging current will merely heat up the short and do nothing else worthwhile. - Bert K.

Reader RBS sent this: Government goes high-tech to redesign $100 bills. RBS warns that with each currency change, there is the risk of the advent of a blocked currency. "That is where there is one variety of note for Domestic use only and one species for foreign use." JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that U.S. Postal Service Money Orders are already marked "Valid only in the U.S. and Possessions." Currency controls are coming, folks!

Alasdair sent this: Greek debt crisis gets worse as EU revises figures

Items from The Economatrix:

If The US Economy Falls Will It Result In A Complete And Total Collapse Of Society?

Enjoy The Recovery While it Lasts, Inflation, Global Conflicts are Coming

Summer Fuel Price Outlook

US Faces Second Lost Depression, Why This Recession Is Different And What To Do About It

Escalating Greek Default Fears Rock Europe's Debt Markets

Insight's into America's Disneyland and Our "Neo-Feudalistic, Gulag Casino Economy"

Wholesale Prices Rise in March as Food Costs Jump

Yes, our modern global society is now very inter-twingled: Volcano Ash Cloud Sets Off Global Domino Effect; Lack of Flights Entering, Departing Europe Stalls Africa War Crimes Investigation, Halts Japanese Auto Production. (Thanks to Robert B. for the link.)

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Chris Y. suggested this article at Trailspace: Human Waste Disposal in the Backcountry.

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I just found a very interesting blog that relates to personal privacy: The TechnoFascismBlog.

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Paul D. sent this: Police: 89-Year-Old Fires Gun At Intruder. Commenting on the police kindly reloading the revolver for the old woman, Paul notes: "This is great!!! Community policing at it's best."

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." - 1 John 1:9-10 (KJV)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I've had two readers write me to ask how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull. One of them noted: "It took me a year just to learn how to pronounce TEOTWAWKI ("Tea-Ought-Walk-ee"), so now I'm expected to learn this?) Chris Taylor of Word Around the Net explains: "Its pronounced 'Throat warbler mangrove'". (An homage to Monty Python.) But as for me, I've decided just call the Icelandic volcano "Effie." I think that's a nice familiar nickname, and it is probably apropos, since we'll likely be choking on Effie's gritty bad cooking for several years, or perhaps even a decade or longer.


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Today there seems to be any number of reasons for the average American to turn the corner towards preparedness and being self-reliant.  Back in 1993, I would have been able to give you just as many reasons based on my observations through the 1980s.  Not surprisingly there are twice as many reasons for the average man to not start around that corner.  The reasons I have heard the most include the cost factor and objections to living so primitively.  Simply put: today's average American is too poor and soft to endure hardships like camping, physical labor, and no TV.  These were the same objections we had to overcome and did.

My wife and I woke up one day in 1993 and realized that our children (ages 2-10-10-12) were being raised by godless leftists in the government schools and on television.  We muddled through the rest of the school year and tossed out the television.  Instead, Renee quit her job to homeschool all of our boys. This was decided over several weeks and Renee had some doubts as to her ability, but in the end she made the commitment and I committed to supporting her as best I could. We chose to use the A Beka books for most of the curriculum. Having made this decision, it was about a year later that we realized the taxes we were paying went to very few services we used.   This started me down the path of finding a rural home with lower taxes and more opportunity to raise animals and a garden. We had envisioned a log home on a mountainside sloping to a meadow with a river running through. Right about then I lost my job.  It had been our plan to make these changes with the money I had from my income in the building industry but losing the job certainly put a damper on the plans.

Not wanting to continue with the old ways, we pushed forward. As it happened, I lost my job in the spring of 1993. That summer we sold almost everything we owned at the local flea market. Sometimes we were just exchanging things. A lawnmower for a grain mill, a bedroom set for a rifle, but for the most part we saved as much as we could. Selling the house didn't bring any real money to the table and what we did have was soon spent on a used school bus ($1,500) that was going to carry us all west to our promised land.  I rigged a tow bar behind our bus for our Jeep and one day in the fall with four boys, two dogs, and less than $3,000 we headed west.

I could write a chapter on our adventure/nightmare traveling but I’ll save that for another time. With less than $500 left, we ended up in northern Arizona in early January 1994. We had picked up a GP Medium tent with an arctic liner and set it up for the first time during a snow storm at a campsite in the national forest. Seeing a concrete picnic table at one site, it was my thought that we should place the tent over the table so we could have the comfort of the table inside. Seemed like a good idea to me. After directing the boys at holding the tent posts for about an hour we finally had the tent set up. My notion of enjoying the table was soon lost when Renee pointed out that the cold concrete table and benches just sucked the heat right out of us as we sat.  Live and learn.

We learned fast and within a few months, my boys and I could set up a GP Medium with liner and two woodstoves quicker than a company of soldiers. Staying in the national forest (with a 14-day maximum stay) saved us what little money we had left. It also helped that we had more privacy in the forest. It turned out that we always seemed to have a crowd gather around when we set up camp. The GP Medium tent is 16’ x 32’ in size and I guess seeing a man and four boys set it up was worth watching. After the work was done and the stoves were burning we’d often have someone knocking at the door post. Sometimes it was another survivalist living in the forest looking for a home cooked meal and sometimes it was just the curious having never seen a tent that big. 

One day while in the forest at a camp we had just set up. I told Renee that I was headed into the woods to do my business. I found a spot over a small hill and a stand of boulders from the site. It was private enough and there was a nice view of a small canyon just another 20 feet away. I was in the position with my paper and trowel in the ready, just enjoying the beauty of the canyon and forest. As I was there I got the strange feeling I was being watched. It really bothered me to the point I had to start scanning the surrounding area to see who was there.  As I looked across the canyon I saw a large timber wolf standing still and staring right at me.  I quickly jumped up and pulled up my jeans, turning just in time to see the wolf jump off the edge of the canyon and head towards me. Leaving my paper and trowel behind as I leapt over the stand of boulders, I saw the wolf crest my side of the canyon and knew it would be on me in an instant. Not turning back again I ran into our camp yelling, “Wolf! Wolf! Get my gun!”  Renee was at the tent door with my GP100 as I reached her. I grabbed the gun and turned expecting to see the wolf, but there was nothing. Once Renee and the boys stopped laughing at my adventure I vowed not to leave camp again without my sidearm.  Later, a ranger came by our camp to log our stay. I asked him about the wolf and was told he was a regular to that part of the forest and wouldn’t hurt anyone. Right.

Renee was the first to find work and I took up keeping the camp, cooking meals, schooling the boys, and seeking a place to start our home. 
It didn't take long to find affordable land in Arizona. The boys and I hiked for many miles on an old ranch land until we found a 50-acre place in the middle of an old 60,000 acre ranch. It was a bit larger than a ¼ mile square and had several good house sites. Further, it was "for sale by owner" and I was able to negotiate a "delayed settlement", "owner financing", and the "right to occupy".
This allowed us to set up camp on the property and save enough money to make the down payment in four months. Not having to deal with breaking camp every two weeks was a great feeling. The boys got extra freedom to wander and I could put in more permanent fixtures at our camp. We soon sold the bus and bought an old pickup truck along with a trailer for hauling water to our property.
Renee continued working while I kept up with the boys and started planning our house. Once we settled on the property, I started cutting the best looking junipers for the post foundation of our cabin.  I had found a solid outcrop of rock just below a cow path along one of the hillsides near the center of the land.  I dug down only a few inches to expose the rock that would support the cabin. Not having to dig any farther down than that, I placed the chainsaw cut juniper tree posts right down on the rock and started the house. Almost every weekend the boys and I spent searching for materials for the ranch cabin.
For the most part we used what we could off the land in timber and stone and paid cash for the rest. We were lucky to have found a saw mill close by. It was an old mill and the owner knew what he was doing. He sold us all the rough-cut ponderosa pine we could haul at a time.  

Once under roof we began our search for a woodstove. This was one of my biggest concerns. Renee had given me specific details on what was acceptable after many burned fingers and smoking pot holders. The stoves we had been using in the tent were the standard GI issue stoves. When they burned they burned hot, sometimes cherry red.  They were also not an airtight stove that would keep a fire all night unattended. And while they were relatively affordable, the stove we now needed was always expensive.  One day while in the big city 75 miles away from our ranch, I noticed a metal recycling scrap yard. High on a pile of iron was the stove I had been looking for! It was a Timberland Double Door with a large flat top surface suitable for cooking on! This was God looking out for Renee (or me). I was ready to drop a large sum of money on this right there. To my surprise, they only wanted the going rate of scrap iron per pound (less the weight of the fire bricks) for the perfect stove.  We later added a kitchen addition to the cabin with a standing pilot propane oven but the Timberland stayed on as the primary heat source for the home.

While building we used the water trailer as our water storage as well. Once the cabin was finished Renee hinted that she wanted running water in the kitchen sink. Being off grid with no well I had to come up with a workable solution.  We bought a 2,500 gallon water tank at a ranch supply store. Placing this tank on the hill where the bottom was above the height of the kitchen faucet I ran 2” pipe off the tank to the outside wall of the kitchen.  This gave us excellent water pressure to the faucet entirely gravity flow. Hot water for showers and dishes was heated by both the woodstove and the kitchen propane stove. Later, we added a propane instant water heater to the system.

Showers were accomplished in a shower house we built off the cabin. A wood decked walkway off the rear led to a small building with deck floors and a hook at the ceiling. At first we had a canvas military water bag with a large daisy shower head. The heated water was carried out and poured into the bag. We could take as long a shower as two gallons of hot water would allow. 

Being "off-grid" meant that, aside from the chainsaw, the boys and I were using only hand tools to build our home.  We could not afford solar power or generators until much later and for the most part we lived as early Americans did. We worked during the day, slept at night, used oil lamps when needed, heated with a woodstove, and had an outhouse for you know what. The only real luxuries we enjoyed those first years were a propane grill and our portable radio.  For nighttime entertainment as a family we listened to the AM radio shows. The boys enjoyed listening to KFI out of Los Angeles and their Radio Classics like The Shadow and The Jack Benny Show. During the day we hunted, killed rattlesnakes, and searched for arrowheads.

At one point Renee quit working and took up running the ranch while I worked locally where ever I could. Renee started a small garden that kept us in tomatoes and peppers to cook up with the average 18 eggs a day that our 24 chickens gave us. Her 30 goats supplied enough milk for everyone and all the cheese we could eat.

As the money came in we added on and upgraded and eventually got to solar panels and a generator. We even had one of the first satellite uplinks for Internet connection from our off-grid ranch.
It should be said that our sons are all men now. Two of them still live out west after going to local universities and the oldest is now out of the US Army, having gone to West Point. Our choices were not always the right choice but they were ours to own. I am proud of the job my wife did homeschooling our sons and while three of them do not actively live a survivalist’s life, they all know how to.

We are still survivalists. We sold our ranch and moved back east several years ago after staying out west for about 14 years. It became clear to us that water is everything for survival and the west has too many water issues. The ranch sold quickly to a California family looking to get out of their situation and into a better life. The lessons we learned have made us stronger and more ready to take on what's coming. The funds from the sale of our ranch bought us a 100-acre mountain farm sloping to a meadow with a river running through. Renee and our youngest son helped finish a modest cabin with solar power, and as soon as I can I'll be building that log home we had envisioned.


I saw this on the net and thought that your readers may not have heard of this yet: Deadly Airborne Fungus Spreading in Northwest.

Heads up folks:

“A potentially deadly strain of fungus is spreading among animals and people in the northwestern United States and the Canadian province of British Columbia.”

“The spore-forming fungus can cause symptoms in people and animals two weeks or more after exposure. They include a cough that lasts for weeks, sharp chest pain, and shortness of breath, headache, fever, nighttime sweats and weight loss.”

“The new strain appears to be unusually deadly, with a mortality rate of about 25 percent among the 21 U.S. cases analyzed.”

According to the CDC, C. gattii has become endemic to the Pacific Northwest.

Regards, - Edward K.

Unless I'm mistaken, 1:50,000 scale maps are military only. Civilian topo maps in the US (produced by the USGS) are 1:24,000 scale. If there are any 15 minute quadrangle maps still available they are 1:62,500 scale. Neither are compatible with military grid readers or scales.

Here is a source for map scales and protractors available in a variety of scales - print or copy them on transparent material and have at it.

Regards, - Flighter

The IRS Goes Clubbin'. This illustrates that taxing officials will show no restraint in their expanding quest for revenue, in the coming years. Flea markets, farmers' markets, gun shows, and any similar perceived dastardly bastions of free enterprise are doubtless next on their list. (A hat tip to RBS for the link.)

Also from RBS: Peak Phosphorus, and Why It Matters, by James Elser and Stuart White.

The Grudge Match Over Your 401(k)

Items from The Economatrix:

US to Shine Light on Derivatives Trading

Next Bubble: $600 Trillion?

IMF Trims Estimate of Losses From Financial Crisis

The Great Debate: Are Stocks Overpriced?

More Downside Risk Ahead for Oil and Gold

Home Sales Rise as Unemployment Claims Fall

GM Repays $8.4 Billion Bailout in Full. Oh but wait... GM Used Bailout to Repay TARP Loans, Senator Says

"Hobo Matt" sent us this: Time, Water Running Out for America's Biggest Aquifer

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By way of Tamara over at View From the Porch comes this link: Not Your Typical CCW Class. (JWR's comment: That makes sense to me!)

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Eric S. flagged this piece from The Albuquerque Journal that illustrates how folks can survive in an austere environment: On a Dusty Mesa, No Water or Electricity, but Boundless Space. But of course, without gasoline for vehicles to haul cistern water, they'd be in for some deep drama.

"Americans have always been able to handle austerity and even adversity. Prosperity is what is doing us in." - James Reston

Friday, April 23, 2010

The 12 volt DC lead-acid batteries employed in most readers' vehicles, power storage systems and backup supply systems are expensive, have finite life spans and are a critical link in the timely operation of
equipment required to respond to short term and long term grid-down situations. Aged batteries become unreliable, but are difficult to keep in a state of readiness and when deemed "spent" their replacement puts a drain on already limited financial resources.

Most people have battery chargers and the know-how to use them in an effort to keep older - or infrequently used - batteries in a charged state so they can be relied upon when needed. This is, however, time
consuming and the unpredictability of battery depletion, through sulfation and other age-related deterioration, makes it difficult to keep your batteries in a constant state of readiness in a cost-effective manner that is not manpower intensive.

If a battery has reached a truly terminal stage of decay, such as failure of inter-cell connections, lead plate breakage or separations and similar situations that require mechanical reconstruction, then the battery should be recycled - it's beyond repair by ordinary mortals. But if the battery is mechanically viable and just badly aged, there is a very good chance that it can be brought back to a very useful state with a device that is relatively unknown but commercially available. I will not claim that it can be made as good as new, but my own results were very satisfying.

A neighbor of mine - a Ph.D. Chemist - came across, researched and subsequently purchased a device known as the Renaissance Charge Rejuvenator. He has already brought a dozen lead-acid 12V batteries back from near useless states. I borrowed the 'Rejuvenator' unit, and attached it to three different 12V lead-acid batteries of my own over a 4-day period. In each case the battery, which had previously been unable to retain a decent charge, was "brought back to life" and held a good charge making it usable for employment as a car battery, a source of energy in an inverter set-up or other traditional arrangements.

The Rejuvenator works best if you use it repeatedly, drawing down the battery between applications. For my own batteries, I used the unit until it indicated "done" (green light), then I placed a load on the battery and drew it down to about 11V, gave it a rest period of about 8 hours and then ran the unit through another cycle to charge it back up and apply a "second dose" of the unit's proprietary repair process.

The Rejuvenator is not exactly cheap at $200 (delivered) but if you bring two "mostly dead" large capacity car batteries (or just one heavy duty tractor battery) back to useful life you've pretty well paid for the unit and after that everything is free. You might consider splitting the cost with a good neighbor or two.

I submit that readers would be well advised to do some research and consider purchasing one of these units to extend the life of the many batteries they already have in use, in order to avoid the high costs associated with replacement. I was stunned when I counted and realized that I have fourteen 12V lead-acid batteries on my ranch. Just as an aside, I have no vested interest in the company that makes the units, and will receive no compensation if this recommendation should result in sales for the Renaissance-Charge Company, though it couldn't hurt if you mention that "Ted from Careywood" sent you. They may be inclined to give some sort of small discount, though I have no control over that. In any case, the cost/benefit analysis seems to make it a good deal, especially for those who use lots of battery banks to avoid dependence on the electrical grid. Best Regards, - Ted

I love the blog. I am preparing for regional disasters associated with living in Los Angeles and I thought your readers might like these two links.

The first one is Global Security.org where among other things, they have free e-copies of [nearly] all of the current Army Field Manuals.

The second one is a bit out of context but I think is quite informative given the nature of this community, it comes from DisasterSafety.org which as it happens is a building contractor web site that certifies builders to build and/or retrofit buildings to withstand natural disasters and such. They have a builders guide in PDF format has some interesting data on each state in the U.S. and what their flood zone is in nice color maps. Pretty nifty, I thought.

Happy reading. Best, - Sergeant Knuckles

Introductory Note From JWR: Lest this devolve into an endless "Ford Versus Chevy" type debate, after today's posts, I don't plan to post anything further on this particular thread.

Hi, Jim,
You've been getting lots of info about the "caliber wars" (again) and being the die-hard "don't care what caliber you got" aficionado I am, I thought you and your readers may find some interest in this article: The "Center Mass" Myth and Ending a Gunfight. Maybe it's the definitive report on the handgun "caliber wars and which does what to whom".

Thanks for a great site, Jim. I appreciate it. - Shy III

Just a few points from a slightly different perspective on practical handguns for personal protection and carry. As an NRA trainer I've been training civilians for a little more than 20 years, and have some counterpoints to the fine article by Officer Tackleberry. As to caliber and bullet configuration the military is required to use ball ammunition for both rifle and handgun per the Geneva convention. Civilians carrying for self defense generally are not as limited, unless your state has such limits. Well placed shots from a hollow point in .35 caliber (.38 Special, .357 Magnum, .380 Auto, 9mm, etc.) are all excellent choices, but in my opinion are the lowest end of the firepower spectrum that I would select.

People with a law enforcement or recent military background have a perspective of a handgun more as a potentially offensive weapon, but the vast majority of the folks I encounter have no offensive training, and should approach the handgun as a defensive tool. There are some important steps you need to consider when carrying a handgun. The first is to never be in a situation where you have to use it if possible, by practicing and having good situational awareness, The second is to have it in good working order and for you to have practice with it until the operation is second nature. Dry practice drills with dummy ammunition (for proper weight) are a good way to learn proficiency with drawing, holstering, making magazine changes, and clearing. Finally, practice firing on the range as much as you can (or can afford). As a civilian using a defensive tool, you'll statistically never run into a situation where you'll actually need to reload the cylinder or magazine. We tell our students that if you're in that situation, you're in over your head, and that sometimes life just stinks. Remember that police not only have the larger magazines, but more importantly have a radio and backup.

A few more things to consider:

* If you are married and can only afford one firearm, select the one that may be used by the smaller of the two persons, usually the wife. That Desert Eagle may be macho, but if she can't move the slide it's pretty much rendered useless.
* For new shooters, revolvers are easy to use. If they malfunction (as in go click), you simply pull the trigger again, with no complicated clearing drills.
* In a stressful situation, especially when firing at a human being, your first shot will miss and go high 98% of the time
* Most encounters occur within 1 to 7 yards and are over in 15 seconds or less.
* Only use factory ammunition for the following two reasons. The misfire rate is statistically very low and reloading can put you into the very unenviable position of defending yourself in civil court as Dr. Frankenstein working late in the lab cooking up your lethal bullets

Some of these considerations aren't as important in TSHTF situations, but until then practice often, shoot straight, and be safe. - LVZ in Ohio


I read with great interest Officer Tackleberry's recent post. He makes an excellent case for standardizing on the 9mm for his family. I find myself agreeing with many of his points but standardizing on .45ACP is still the right decision for my family.

I am a CCW instructor and I have made many of the same arguments Officer Tackleberry made to my own clients. Finding a pistol that fits your hand and your shooting style is far more important than focusing on caliber. The ammunition industry is doing a fantastic job of creating lethal bullets in all pistol calibers. I shoot better groups with a 9mm than I do with a .45ACP (I always qualified Expert with my M9 when I was in the Guard).

So why did I standardize my family on .45ACP?

- Compatibility: My Dad owns the retreat property. His primary semi-auto pistol is a 1911 Colt Commander that he has owned since 1973. With the exception of two, my semi-auto pistols are .45ACP 1911s and Glocks.

Proficiency: When I was courting my wife, I taught her to shoot my Glock 22 which is chambered in .40S&W. Not long after we were married I enrolled her in an NRA Personal Protection class where she had an opportunity to shoot other pistols. Much to my surprise she shot better with pistols chambered in .45ACP. I got her a Glock 21 for home defense and a Glock 36 for carrying.

Cost: It is true that 9mm ball is more economical than .45ACP ball. However .45ACP ball is more economical than 9mm hollow point. Frankly, I would rather spend the money on ammo that has a proven track record of knocking down fanatical enemy ranging from the Moros of the Philippine Insurrection all the way to the Taliban of Afghanistan. As for actually going to the range I really don't shoot as often as my friends think. I spend more time doing dry fire drills and I am still able to maintain my proficiency.

In closing I want to say that I totally respect Officer Tackleberry's position on adopting the 9mm. If it weren't for the fact that my Dad and my wife prefer the .45ACP, I would have standardized my family on .40S&W!

Keep your powder dry and keep em in the Black! - Cascinus


Thank you for opening up this can of worms called 9mm versus .45 ACP. Both work well regardless of the bullet configuration. Do I prefer one over the other? Yes, but I won't say which one.

In all of my travels overseas I have been armed and it is almost universally with a 9mm. Most generally it is with a 9mm Glock.
What can I say about the Glock? Its the AK-47 of the pistol world. I've seen them (both the Glock 17 and the AK-47) go bang every time you pull the trigger in deplorable conditions. When you travel on national highways in Iraq or Afghanistan you get dust -- find talcum powder dust -- into everything. One contractor ditched his high-end full custom 1911A1 after just one run. A few hundred miles and he had repeated stoppages. In the end he used a Glock 17 and swapped his M4 for an AK-47. Both work in extreme conditions.

Can you get better performance with a .308 and a .45 ACP? Sure. If your gun goes off.

I've got Glocks in 9 mm, .40 SW, and .45 ACP and at home carry the .45ACP. But as soon as I go overseas on a project I carry the Glock 9mm as I know I can also get ammo for it just about anywhere (the nasty FMJ stuff the Egyptians load in lots of cases).

For competition shooting I use my Para-Ord P14 (double stack 1911 configuration) as it does have finer controls especially the trigger pull. But I can clean and lube it between strings if I have to. Not much like real field usage. - P.K.


To help settle the argument, I suggest checking out the ParaOrdnance line of 1911s. Para-Ords have been around a long time and have proven reliability. Although I don't own one, I do know of their handguns. In short, some of their models deliver .45 ACP, high capacity (see various models), as flat as other 1911s and don't weigh much more (except for the extra .45 ACP ammo weight) than their competitors. This is a very old discussion and that's why Para delivered it first in the late 1980s. - Flhspete


"Diz" stated in his recent letter that handgun skills are perishable and that it is necessary to practice with a lot of ammo on a regular basis, which causes the .45 ACP to be more cost prohibitive than the 9mm cartridge. I felt compelled to counter his argument and hopefully debunk a popular misconception from negatively affecting the wallets of your readership. Many people believe that to be a good shot, you need to shoot a lot. This is false. Practice does not "make perfect", practice makes permanent. Good practice makes you good, but if you practice garbage, you will be a garbage-master. Most of shooting, especially defensive handgun shooting, is based on muscle memory. Muscle memory is created from frequent repetition of an activity- in this case, rapid and smooth presentation from the holster, proper sight picture, sight alignment, trigger control, and a surprise trigger break with sights on your target. This should be followed with an after action drill, which includes scanning your environment for further threats and breaking the "tunnel vision" that follows a shooting incident. Your after action drill should also include seeking cover after the initial shooting and making sure that any dangerous threat to you no longer exists, whilst simultaneously checking your weapon, doing a tactical reload, and if applicable, checking yourself for bullet holes (most people don't immediately know they've been shot). Frequent shooting practice (even with the relatively lower recoil of the 9mm) will inevitably lead to the development of certain patterns that will negatively affect the shooter's accuracy and overall performance. No matter how professional you are, (or think you are) you will start to develop the involuntary tendency to either flinch (raise the weapon's muzzle slightly as it fires, in an attempt to escape the recoil), buck (push the weapon's muzzle slightly down as it fires, in an attempt to fight against the recoil) or jerk the trigger (pulling the trigger instead of pressing it, hoping to get the unpleasant recoil feeling over with).

The best way to combat these tendencies is to put the emphasis on your training on dry practice. It is free, takes 10-15 minutes a day to retain the "perishable skill," and contrary to a prevailing belief, it will not damage your weapon unless it is a rimfire.

Dry practice (not 'Dry-fire practice'), when done properly, will greatly increase your skill at no cost to you. It consists of setting up a target against a secure backstop (such as a wall in your basement or earthen berm in your backyard), unloading your weapon, your magazines, and yourself of any and all ammunition (there is no excuse for negligent discharges; the real safety is between your ears), eliminating all distractions in your immediate environment (turn off your television, cell phone, and lock that door), and verbally telling yourself that you are beginning your dry practice session. You should then go through the forms, presenting from the holster, sighting on your target, and smoothly pressing the trigger for a surprise break. Practice emergency reloads with empty magazines. Practice your after action drills. Important: Only practice malfunction clearance drills (with live ammunition) on the range, not in your house. This should be obvious, but is not to some people. Once you have finished your dry practice session (anything longer than 20 minutes or so will start to give you diminishing returns), you should take down and put away your dry practice target, verbally tell yourself that your dry practice session is over, and return your weapon to your preferred condition if you carry concealed.

Live-fire practice on the range should only be done to validate your dry practice. It should not be the bulk of your defensive weapon training, as it is both expensive and counter-productive to developing good skill. It should be minimal, ideally not consisting of more than 50 rounds at a time. With proper dry practice, you will see your shots hit their mark dead-on when you visit the range.

Keep in mind that a 50% rule applies to defensive shootings. It basically states that [under stress] you are only about half as good as your average day of training. When you are really consistent in your training, 50% of that is often sufficient to save your life.

You should use the most powerful cartridge you can comfortably handle, but remember that at the end of the day, an increase in energy is no substitute for proper shot placement.

Thanks for all you do, Jim. - Lost Boy, Front Sight Instructor

Mr. Rawles-
I just wanted to add one more perspective to those arguing about which pistol cartridge is best to carry. My view: Stop worrying about it. Pick a handgun and caliber that is comfortable for you to shoot and carry. Pick a handgun you can afford, for which there is a ready supply of ammo to stockpile. Instead of worrying about one stop shot statistics and anecdotal tales of handgun stopping power, put your time into practice and other preparations. Keep your long gun(s) properly maintained and practice with them as well.

It’s an argument analogous to the “skills beat stuff” view. The different defensive calibers are all tools that can get the job done when wielded correctly.

As always, love the site. Keep up the great work! - Rich S.

Brett came a link to this "must read" piece by Robert Wiedemer: A Coming Avalanche of Inflation

Also from Brett: Davidowitz: This Market Is a Sucker's Rally.

A video of some truth that they let slip into CNBC: Stay Clear of Western Markets and Currencies. Global investing analyst Martin Hennecke warns: "Sovereign debt crisis in the western countries is really getting underway..." and "The blow-up of sovereign debt is the final step of the financial crisis." Hennecke is also bullish on commodities and warns of a global financial meltdown with high interest rates and high inflation. (Our thanks to George Gordon for the links.)

Reader Sean O. sent this: New US $100 note aims to deter counterfeiters. Buried in the article is mention that there is now "$890 billion in physical U.S. currency in circulation."

RBS liked this piece posted over at Whiskey & Gunpowder: 401(k) as Dangerous as the Dollar

Items from The Economatrix:

US Commercial Property Values Decline 2.6%, Says Moodys

Stocks Advance on Higher Earnings, Energy Prices

Fraud, It's Much Bigger Than Goldman Sachs

14 Risks of Holding US Treasury Bonds

Recession Is Ending? Some Americans Don't Buy It

America's Economic Recovery is a Rotten Sham

Judy T. sent these links: Oil rig explodes off Louisiana coast and Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion shows new risks

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Thanks to L.J. in England for spotting this: Rabbit meat is enjoying a renaissance in the UK.

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Reader "MadMarkie" sent a note that might be of interest if you have an Outdoor World store nearby. Outdoor World currently has the Marlin Model 795 semi-auto .22 cal. rifle on sale for $99.94 after a mail-in rebate. Normal retail is $149.99, on sale for $124.94 and comes with a mail-in rebate coupon for $25.00. So your cost is $99.94.

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Eric M. sent this link, that illustrates how outnumbered the police will be, if and when things go sideways: Crowd attacks officer's car in Kalamazoo

"I say that the Second Amendment doesn't allow for exceptions – or else it would have read that the right 'to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless Congress chooses otherwise.' And because there are no exceptions, I disagree with my fellow panelists who say the existing gun laws should be enforced. Those laws are unconstitutional [and] wrong – because they put you at a disadvantage to armed criminals, to whom the laws are no inconvenience." – Harry Browne, at a meeting with the NRA's Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and other panelists at a gun rights rally in Hot Springs, Arkansas, August, 2000.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I noticed that there are now 530+ web sites that have links to SurvivalBlog. My goal is to have at least 1,000 "incoming" links. That would really help SurvivalBlog show up more prominently in search engines like Bing and Google. Couldya, wouldya, please? It just takes a couple of minutes to add a text or graphic link. I even have some nifty graphics and pre-fabbed HTML code available, to make it easy for you. Many thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Having the equipment and skill necessary to travel cross-country can prove to be very beneficial in a number of survival scenarios.  A key component to cross country travel is map reading and orienteering.  The equipment that you will need for this is a map, a lensatic compass, and a US Military Square 5x5 protractor.

The first item of equipment that we will cover is maps.  Different maps serve varied purposes.  A map used for navigating cross country will look very different from the maps that you are familiar with for use with travel on highways and paved roads.  For cross country travel a topographic map with marked grid square lines in a scale of 1:50,000 is the general accepted standard.  The 1:50,000 scale provides a good compromise between detail/accuracy and area covered.  If your plans include bugging out you should have 1:50,000 topographic maps that cover your entire route as well as a straight line distance between your start point and your destination.  Map coverage of your retreat area should include a 1:250,000 scale topographic map that can be mounted on a wall or table along with enough acetate paper and alcohol pens for operational overlays to include, but not limited to property boundaries with known occupancy rates of adjacent properties and buildings, fortifications, caches, and historical records of game animals taken by type/time/season/location.  Be sure to practice good OPSEC by taking down and storing your overlays when they are not in use.  You should also have 1:50,000 scale topographic maps covering the same area as your stationary 1:250,000 scale map.  A site that I am in no way affiliated with that will print a map for any area you desire is www.MyTopo.com.

The second piece of equipment that you need is a clear (not colored or frosted in any way) US Military Square 5x5 Protractor with a few aftermarket modifications.  Using a needle make a hole at the intersection of the crosshairs in the center of the protractor.  Now take a strand of 550 cord guts and route it through the hole that you made in the protractor and tie a knot in both ends so that the string stays in place.  Use the scale on your map to mark off 100 meter tick marks on the string starting at the center of the protractor with an extra fine tip black permanent marker.  The final modification is to carefully cut the excess material off of the interior of all of the grid scale triangles.

The last piece of equipment that is absolutely necessary when traveling cross-country is a quality lensatic compass.  You can find a brand new “Military Issue” lensatic compass with tritium illumination for between $70 and $100.  There are imitations that use phosphorescent material for illumination. Do not buy one of these compasses.  The phosphorescent material needs to be “recharged” using a flashlight when navigating at night and they are of poor quality compared to the compasses that are tritium illuminated. [JWR Adds: The genuine article has a Nuclear Material "tri-chop" symbol and NRC warning stamped into the bottom of the compass casing. Make sure those markings are there, before you buy, and make sure that all seven tritium vials built into the compass glow properly. Also, buy a compass that is less than 15 years old. (Tritium has an 11.2-year half life--so tritium vials lose half of their brightness every 11.2 years.) The model to look for will be marked: NSN 6605-01-196-6971. If you buy one that is marked with the contractor name "Cammenga", then it won't be older than 1992 production.]Once you have the proper equipment you need to learn how to use it.  This is best accomplished using the "crawl, walk, run" method.: 

Crawl:   The very first thing that you must always do is to turn your map until the north seeking arrow is pointing north.  Accomplish this by placing your map on a level surface and then open your compass and set it down next to the Magnetic North seeking arrow on the maps declination diagram.  Now simply rotate the map until the needle of your compass and the arrow on the map are pointing in the same direction.  This is called “map orientation”.  The best way to learn to read a map is to get a map of the type that you will be using, preferably 1:50,000 topographic, that covers an area that you are very familiar with.  It is even better if that area is where you are currently located as this will help you to match the graphic representations on the map with the real world places that they represent.  This will enable you to look at the landscape and your map at the same time and will give all of the lines and symbols on the map more meaning.  Unfold the map on a level surface, I rarely just hold a map in my hands and look at it while standing or walking.  While orienteering the time that it takes you to unfold that map and orientate it is a very helpful pause that allows you to get your bearings and make sure that you are on the right path.  I have been doing land navigation since I was 10 years old first as a Royal Ranger (a Christian faith based version of the Boy Scouts) and then in the military and during my time in the military I have never gone over time on a course or failed to find all of my points day or night, so don’t worry about the time this will take you, it is worth it.  Now begin by studying the map legend.  The legend will tell you what every color and symbol on the map represents.  Next, with the help of the information from the map legend, locate on the map any major intersects and/or landmarks that you are familiar with.  The entire purpose of the crawl phase is for you to match places that you know or can physically see with their graphic representations on your map.

Walk:  Now you will learn how to use your map and protractor to determine the distance and direction from one landmark or feature to another landmark or feature.  Center your protractor on any feature, building, or landmark on the map.  Now with the protractor centered over your first feature move the string along the degree scale at the outside edge of the protractor to determine the azimuth (direction) in degrees to your destination.  Write this number down, it is the “grid azimuth” and must be converted to a “magnetic azimuth” that you can use with your compass.  To convert a grid azimuth to a magnetic azimuth you must locate the Grid-Magnetic (G-M) angle found in the declination diagram of your map legend and do some simple math.  To find your magnetic azimuth if the Magnetic North line lays to the left of the Grid North line you add the G-M angle.  If the Magnetic North line lies to the right of the Grid North line you subtract the G-M angle to find your magnetic azimuth.  Before you move your protractor or map count the tick marks on the string between the two features to determine the distance and write the distance down. 

Run:  Plot a point on a map when given an 8 digit grid coordinate.  Determine the grid size you are working with by consulting your map.  An eight digit grid will look like this:  7840 0060.  From this grid coordinate 78 is the number of the horizontal line and 00 is the number of the vertical line.  You will find the intersection of Horizontal line 78 and vertical line 00 and place base of your grid scale triangle on that intersection with the vertical leg (right side) of the triangle aligned with the vertical 00 grid line.  Now slide your protractor to the right until the vertical 00 grid line intersects the 4 on the base of the triangle, ensuring you are keeping the base of the triangular cutout aligned with the horizontal grid line.  Now without moving your protractor, make a mark beside the 6 on the vertical leg of the grid scale triangle.  You have now plotted the point 7840 0060.  If the last number of either four digit set of numbers is not zero, say 0065 instead of 0060 then you would simply put your mark halfway between the 6 and the 7 on the vertical leg of the grid scale triangle.  An eight digit grid coordinate is accurate to within ten meters.  You can use this same method to determine the grid coordinate of any feature on the map.

Moving through the brush can be disconcerting for a lot of people, but that feeling will go away the more you get out and practice your land navigation.  Before you attempt any land navigation you must determine your pace count.  To do this measure off a 100 meter course through an area that is typical of the terrain that you will be navigating through.  Now walk the course leading with your left foot and keep count of every time your right foot strikes the ground.  Do the same thing walking the course in the opposite direction and the average of the two times is your pace count.  Remember that when walking uphill your pace count will be higher than if you are walking down hill.   Most people if told to walk in a straight line with no reference points will eventually end up walking in a very large circle.  To mitigate this move from object to object along your path by shooting an azimuth to each object and then moving to that object. Repeating this process while you navigate should keep you from walking in circles.

 To use your compass to “shoot” an azimuth there are two methods, compass to cheek and center hold.   The compass to cheek method is preferred when moving during daylight hours.  To use the compass to cheek method open the cover of the compass until it forms a 90 degree angle to the base.  Make a pistol with your hand like a child would do with your index finger and thumb extended and the rest of your fingers curled.  Place your thumb thought the thumb loop and your index finger along the side of the compass base.  Steady the hand holding the compass with your other hand.  Position the thumb that is through the thumb loop against your cheekbone.  Look through the lens of the eyepiece and move the eyepiece up and down until the dial of the compass is in focus.  Rotate your entire body until the proper azimuth is achieved.  Now align the sighting slot of the eyepiece with the sighting wire in the cover and find an object that is intersected by the sighting wire.  Now you will move to that object keeping your pace count and once you have reached it shoot the same azimuth and find another object and walk to it.  You will repeat this until you have reached your destination.  For night the center hold method is preferred. 

Open the compass so that the cover forms a straight edge with the base and move the lens of the compass out of the way.  Make a pistol with your hand like a child would do with your index finger and thumb extended and the rest of your fingers curled.  Place your thumb thought the thumb loop and your index finger along the side of the compass base.  Take your other hand and place your thumb between the eyepiece and the lens and extend your index finger along the remaining side of the compass.   Now with your arms at your sides with elbows bent at a 90 degree angle turn your body until the correct azimuth is attained and walk making sure to maintain that azimuth by checking you compass every few steps.  When using this method and stepping around small obstacles go first to the left or right of one obstacle and the around the next obstacle on the opposite side.   If you have gone the appropriate distance and direction and do not see your destination take the following steps.  First, lay your map on the ground and redo all of your plotting and calculations from the very beginning.  If you verify those calculations as correct then mark the spot where you are and walk 100 meters in the same direction that you were previously traveling keeping an eye out for you end point.  Once you have walked 100 meters turn around and go back to the point that you marked.  Now add 90 degrees to your direct of travel and go for 100 meters returning to the point previously marked on the ground.  Repeat this process, adding 90 degrees each time, until you are back at your original azimuth.  I tend to drift to the left when navigating so will typically find my point when I add 90 degrees and walk for 100 meters.

Nothing will ever replace repetition when it comes to developing and maintaining your map reading and land navigation skills.  Start off with short distances of 100 to 200 meters and work up from there.  In closing always remember:

  1. Take the time to lay your map out flat and study it
  2. Always orient your map
  3. Write down your azimuth and distance
  4. Map Reading and Land Navigation are perishable skills
  5. Carry a GPS for backup (while the satellites are still working)
  6. Re-certify your pace count often

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I have been reading your blog for about a year (sincere thanks for a great job) and have introduced a few dozen folks to its collected wisdom. I pass along this article, from The Telegraph in the United Kingdom, that speaks to the mounting impact/consequences of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

For a long time I have had concerns about the practice that manufacturing businesses have adopted for managing their supplies and inventory - namely the employment of Lean Supply Chain (LSC) manufacturing techniques. While companies (nations) reduce expense for maintaining inventory, in the short run, by utilizing LSC and "just in time inventory" techniques, they leave themselves very vulnerable to long wave, black swan, etc. events - such as a war, volcanism, earthquake, civil unrest, or other natural, or man made disasters. Given the total lack of responsiveness (by our "leaders" to our current man made economic disaster I have little hope that these same "leaders" would learn lessons from this ongoing natural disaster. While cost savings and efficient manufacturing operations are greatly enhanced, utilizing LSC techniques, it might be prudent to rethink / realign critical supplies, maintaining sufficient inventory for critical items that should be kept locally in quantity.

In addition, the current plight of the ten's of thousands of people stranded around the world as result of the shutdown of the European portion of the air transport network should make one realize that maintaining multiple, expansive transportation modalities, (i.e. the deplorable state of American Railways comes to mind, and the U.S. Merchant Marine, which died of neglect 40 years ago) would be a good thing. Sadly there are very few passenger ships operating today under any flag - those that do exist are prohibitively expensive - the affluent need only apply (afford) bookings if they were available, which they are not for at least three to six months out. In closing, the ongoing Eyjafjallajokull event should serve as further validation for SurvivalBlog readers to prepare - the consequences of the engineered lack of redundancy (to "save" money utilizing LSC) will be in the news for some time after this particular event ends.

We live in a very fragile world and it grows more brittle by the month. Best Regards, - Nemesis in Northern Virginia

Mr. Rawles,
I noted with interest (and joined) a new web site for singles "SurvivalistSingles.com". As a Christian, prepper, mom and grandmother, I find most date sites decidedly unappealing. Perhaps this new site would be of interest to some of your single readers, even if only to network and gain new friends. It is new, and for now, free. You'll find that SurvivalBlog is mentioned in the questionnaire, as well!
Thanks for all you and your readers do to share, enlighten, and teach. - Ruger9mmgal, a Michigan SurvivalBlog reader

P.S.: I am not in any way affiliated with the site or it's owners.

JWR Replies: Thanks for alerting us to that new site. I hope that it prospers. I've just added a link to it, in my Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area static page.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." - Ecclesiastes 9:10 (KJV)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Survival planning can be overwhelming and a lot of the advice you get is not practical or compatible with our lifestyles. A lot of us choose, or are forced to live in the crowded East Coast far too close to cities to survive TEOTWAWKI. I dare say, a lot of SurvivalBlog readers live in suburbs just outside medium to large population centers. Many of us have jobs that don't migrate to small towns and would face a substantial loss of income if we moved away from our livelihoods. Some of us like our current lives and feel that hunkering down in a rural town is just too much like running away from life. Others (like myself) have family obligations that preclude relocating.

That can make surviving the "big one" difficult or even impossible. But, fortunately, the "big one" is much more unlikely than a lot of smaller regional disasters. You should be able to easily survive the small ones and with a little planning you may be able to increase your odds of surviving TEOTWAWKI astronomically. If you approach preparation logically, you should probably have a variety of plans in place to mitigate a whole range of possible disasters. While this suburban approach is not as safe as living in a back-woods retreat out west, it's much less extreme and more palatable for suburbanites. If you can pull it off, living debt free and off the grid in your remote retreat is the safest option. If you can't, don't give up. Prepare for what you can and mitigate the rest. At least think it through and have a plan of action.

First, what are your real goals? Survival is simply keeping body and soul together and your body temperature at 98.6 degrees. That's definitely not enough for most of us. We all want to survive in style, with as little discomfort as possible. There is a huge difference between living in a stadium with thousands of other refugees and living in your own home. Most of us want to be in a position to help others in a crisis, or at least exercise some level of control over our lives and maintain some dignity. But, don't lose sight of the real objective. You want to keep breathing, even if you lose your home and your possessions. The scale and duration of a disaster determines the amount of preparation you must have, but in every case, living in style with dignity and comfort takes more preparation than simply living through it. If you are living in a high population area, you are accepting risk and betting that society will continue in some form. That's okay as long as you realize that you are going to have to pay for that bet if the big balloon ever goes up.

Lets look at some disasters in ascending order of severity and see what you can do to live through them from your suburb home. I will share my own preparations under each heading, not because I am a super-survivor and ready for anything, but so you can see what I consider a practical level of effort (in my particular case). You can easily improve on my preparation level and should if you feel the need. I am 50 years old and basically a lazy guy with grown up kids. If I die from my own lack of preparation, I can accept that and I guarantee the world will go on without me. You have to choose your own pain level when it comes to survival planning.

1. Power outage (temporary, like would be caused by a severe winter storm). This is an easy disaster to survive. Basically everyone will survive it unless they are unfortunate enough to be on an operating table or something at the time. Surviving with style requires a generator or at least candles and maybe a camping stove. In very cold environments, you can be in danger without an alternate form of heating for at least one room. Setting up a dome tent inside your home and using good quality sleeping bags can allow you to survive sub-zero temperatures easily. Even a couple of candle lanterns can keep the inside of a small tent above freezing. Several LED lights will make your life much better and a good battery radio is a must. Rechargeable batteries are a good idea but only if you keep them charged. If you can't make that much effort, take the lazy way out and keep a large supply of Duracell batteries on hand and rotate them yearly--problem solved. Keep in mind that elevators and subways become immobile metal boxes in a power outage.

My own preparations: I have a deep cycle battery backup to provide light and recharge AA batteries for a few days. My system is on a smart-charger to maintain the charge and I rotate one of my two big marine batteries every three years for a cost of about $90. This is much less trouble than maintaining a small generator, but probably a little more expensive in the long run. I also have a 12 watt (12 volt) solar panel to top off my battery bank and a 6 watt solar AA battery charger. If worst comes to worst, I can recharge my batteries from my truck alternator. Total system cost (with a 1,500 watt inverter, charger and a hand truck) was slightly more than a generator. I don't use a freezer for food storage, so I don't require much electricity. I have kerosene lanterns and both propane and wood cooking capability. I am prepared for much worse, so, of course I have lots of food, some water, a hand operated well, several good radios, camping gear and other stuff. So a power outage is not even very inconvenient. The only thing I really miss without grid power is air conditioning and television.

2. Regional disaster (Earthquake or Hurricane). Some disasters are too nasty to face. You will want to evacuate. This requires a vehicle with plenty of fuel, a wad of cash, and a well stocked bug-out bag for each member of the family. More importantly, it requires a plan. What will your bug-out route look like in a disaster? If you haven't considered this, you probably should. Take a look at the congestion in every recent hurricane evacuation and plan accordingly. You need to know where you will go and plan your route. If you can own a well stocked retreat outside the disaster area and can get to it, you have it made. If not, make plans to stay with friends or family outside the disaster zone.

My own preparations: My area is sort of vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding, so I have a very extensive bug-out bag with basic camping stuff, two weeks of food and water, and a few basic weapons for the road. I have all my important documents in a waterproof/fireproof lock-box that I can grab and take with me. I keep my truck in good shape and consistently top off my fuel when it reaches 1/2 tank, but I only store seven gallons of gasoline (which I rotate every month or two). I also have cash on hand so I can pay for hotel rooms. I am 1/4 tank away from high ground, so I figure that's good enough. Oh, and I also carry flood insurance.

3. General economic depression/recession/hyper-inflation etc. Once we start an economic slide, it can hit you in a lot of ways. Some of us have already been crushed by the current depression. Your pension may be lost. Prices will skyrocket, while your paycheck doesn't. Losing your job or having drastically less money can be a soul-destroying disaster. There are several ways you can mitigate it if you start early enough. Debt is your biggest problem and threat. If you miss a few house payments, or car payments, the banks are not going to be forgiving. Credit card debt can crush you with interest and finance charges. Avoid them like the plague. While you still have a reliable income, you need to pay off debt, or at least build up a buffer of cash to allow you to make minimum payments while you look for a job. Many of us have fallen into the trap of having a huge 30 year mortgage and live in fine suburban houses. As the real estate market falls flat, you won't be able to sell your home to get out of debt. Buying a smaller, less expensive place or renting can give you a measure of freedom if you can manage to get free from your current mortgage. If you have a mortgage payment, you are still a renter and subject to eviction. Even if you own your house outright, you really don't. You probably still have to make a tax payment or you will be evicted.

Oddly enough, a food storage program can really help you make ends meet. The kinds of food we store tend to be not only shelf-stable, but cheap. If you start eating the same foods you store, like wheat, beans and rice for most of your meals, you can feed your family on pennies. These basic foods are actually tasty and nutritious once you get used to them. Work them into your diet gradually and you may find that you feel healthier and spend less on your grocery bills.

A small garden can cut your food costs and raise the quality of your diet at the same time. (You also get an opportunity to get a little exercise, something most of us need.) Fast food is not only unhealthy, it's expensive. The same $20 you would spend to feed your family a meal of greasy burgers will stretch to five or more healthy meals if you cook it yourself. A good cookbook can be a wonderful investment if you use it.

Get rid of all your car payments. Driving an older car that you own outright can save you a ton of money. They are cheaper to insure too.

My own preparations: Not so good. I have a fairly safe job, but almost no savings and quite a lot of debt, mostly in the form of a large mortgage. If I lost my job, I would quickly lose my home if I couldn't find another one quickly. I have a small military retirement pension, but we would have to make some drastic lifestyle changes to live on it. The thought that I could be homeless and broke within 5-6 months scares me, but there is no quick fix for debt.

As long as I have a job, I will at least have local transportation. I often ride to work or shopping on my mo-ped which gets 150 mpg. I can get around town pretty well with no other form of transportation. I store 7 gallons of gasoline and oil and have a complete set of spares. This would allow me to run my Moped for at least months, even if I were unable to get more. If gas gets much higher, I will probably park my old truck most of the time anyway. My little bike is home built from a kit. It has a 66cc engine I bought on Amazon and put together in a weekend. At first, this bike was just a toy, but I quickly saw the utility and bought a complete set of spares and bike parts to "systemize" it. It has proven reliable, economical and loads of fun. Coupled with a small cargo trailer, my bike can haul about 200 pounds of groceries at 25mph and has a range of over 75 miles without refueling the little 2.5 liter tank. Total cost counting the bike, engine kit, spares, fuel storage containers and tools was about $450. If you are interested in building one of these kits, I highly recommend a visit to MotorBicycling.com. With a little research, you can tell if you are skilled enough to build one and maintain it. This solution won't work for everyone, but it works great for me. It's a wonderful feeling of power to know I can repair anything that goes wrong with it.

4. Crime. The Marines have a saying I admire: "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet." These are words to live by. Being robbed, raped or burglarized is a personal disaster, but violent crime can be the most horrible thing that ever happens to you. Anyone can be a target of violent crime, so never assume you are safe, even in your own home. Your physical security should be your first concern and always at the back of your mind. There is no time to think about it while it's happening, so you will need to plan out your responses in advance. Do you have to go through life watching over your shoulder for danger? In short, yes. You do anyway. When you cross a busy street, you don't just amble across without a glance. Why should you behave that way when it comes to thugs?

Do you have a weapon? If not, you really do need to get one ASAP and learn to use it. Do you rely on the police to protect you? If you do, you are betting your life against long odds. Historically, the police have a dismal record for protecting citizens. If you don't believe me, ask a cop. Most of them will tell you that they can't protect you from violent crime and will advise you to arm yourself. Firearms are by far the best weapons, but if you simply can't own one (for whatever reason), have something and a plan to use it effectively. Even residents of New York City can own a ball bat, knife or tomahawk, so there is no excuse for being unarmed. Don't bet your life on a Taser or pepper spray. Buy something lethal and learn to use it. Just your possession of a weapon, skills and a plan to use them will calm you and allow you to think more clearly.

Defending your home. If someone wants into a house, then they can get in. No physical barrier can stop a determined person. But, barriers like solid doors and locks can slow them down and force them to make noise. The only real deterrent that works is the threat of brute force (even if you rely on the police to provide it for you). Visible barriers can also deter criminals and make them go elsewhere. But what if they ring the doorbell in the middle of the day? Do you answer your door with a pistol in your hand? Maybe you should. Or at least, stuff a snub-nose revolver in your pocket on your way to the door. Home invasions often begin with a knock on the door and a friendly smile. You may not be able to stop the Manson gang with a pocket pistol, but then again, you might. Your chances are certainly better if you expect that friendly UPS guy holding a package to suddenly turn nasty and push past you into your house with his four buddies. Look at your situation right now. Are you more than five seconds away from a loaded weapon? If so, you are not as secure as you might be.

Defending against burglary while you are away is harder. Barriers like stout doors and window bars help. Living in a good neighborhood and knowing your neighbors helps. Having a monitored burglar alarm helps if you can afford it. A loud (unmonitored) burglar alarm will make the burglar jumpy and might scare him away. You should also make it hard on him. Don't store your valuables in easy to find or easy to grab fashion. A heavy gun safe is a lot harder to carry off than loose valuables. If it's bolted down, it's even more difficult to steal. Scatter and hide your wealth and the burglar is likely to miss some of it. If the worst happens and your stuff is stolen, console yourself. It's just stuff.

A dog can be a big deterrent and a wonderful warning system (and a peerless pal!). But never depend on a dog to fight for you. Dogs are too easy to beat. Dog owners tend to overestimate the combat effectiveness of their animals. The fact is, even a large dog is not hard to kill and all of them are downright stupid compared to a human adversary. Don't count on your dog to defend your home. He will try valiantly and fail. Dogs are best used to warn you and give you time to prepare a defense. (By the way, domesticated dogs are the only canines that bark. There is some evidence that they were originally bred specifically as burglar alarms.)

If you bug out, then you should absolutely be armed. There are too many things that can go wrong on the road. You need weapons you can conceal or they may be confiscated at a check point, so I suggest a battle carbine with a folding stock. (The WASR 10 AKM, that comes with a TAPCO trigger job is a great choice). A good choice for concealed carry is a Ruger SP-101 in .357 Magnum. It's utterly reliable, powerful and as accurate as you are. My G.O.O.D. preparations include a Mossberg riot shotgun to surrender to the cops and a few other items that are less noticeable. The Mossberg is an excellent weapon and cheap enough to not weep if you lose it.

My own preparations: Not great, but better than most. I have a battery powered burglar alarm inside the house to give me some warning and 3 battery powered wireless cameras for outdoor monitoring. We have three cell phones on two different networks, so we can call the police.

I have a modest, but adequate survival battery and a moderate amount of ammunition for each weapon. I answer the door with my hand on a .44 Magnum. I am rarely more than two seconds from a loaded firearm and carry a knife even in the shower. Does this make me a paranoid? Maybe, but I figure that just because you are not paranoid doesn't mean everyone is is not out to get you. This level of readiness for sudden combat might prove too inconvenient for some people but doesn't cramp my lifestyle at all. I have lived this way my whole adult life. I am not hurting anyone and I feel pretty safe. None of my neighbors know about any of my preparations or suspect that they are covered when they come knocking at my door. My home doesn't look like a bunker and I never look like I am armed. My wife is a marginal but enthusiastic shot, and has a .45 Colt single action revolver within reach most of the time. (She has three of them and jokingly calls two of them her "speed loaders" [since Colt single action revolvers are notoriously slow to reload.] It might be a bad day for someone attempting a home invasion at my place. The bad guys will at least have to overcome an instant, determined defense. But even with all my "rational paranoia", my house is far from secure. It can be burglarized easily or burned. It's definitely not a fortress. If law and order completely breaks down, I recognize that I can't possibly defend this house from a determined group. There is no shame in running away from extreme danger.

5. Financial collapse: If there is a general collapse of the finance systems, expect banks to close immediately for the duration, or perhaps impose withdrawal limits on your accounts (check the fine print. They can do that.) If you have valuables stored in a strong box inside a bank, you may not be able to access them. ATM machines may quit working. Credit will dry up and your VISA card may not work. As hyperinflation takes hold, the price of goods will fluctuate wildly and vendors will start defensively pricing their goods. In most historic cases of hyperinflation, prices changed daily or even hourly. If all of this comes to pass, any wealth or entitlements you have denominated in dollars (like a retirement check, for instance) will quickly become waste paper. In this kind of environment, most people are going to we wary of doing business and shortages of fuel, food and other staples should be expected. Cash is king in a credit-less economy, but it's also poisonous. It loses value quickly, so you will want to hold as much of your wealth as possible in tangible goods and dump cash quickly. In hyper inflating economies, people who get paid in dollars try to cash their checks and spend the money on payday. If this kind of emergency gets really bad or lasts very long, I believe it could easily slide into a total grid-down TEOTWAWKI collapse. Our only hope is that the same government who caused the crisis can somehow maintain order and halt the crash. I don't have a clue how they will be able to do this and I suspect they don't either. The point is, they will be on a time limit. At some point, people will start to riot, loot, and evacuate cities and the whole house of cards may fall.

The Ideal way to survive this kind of calamity is to already be living outside the money economy. If you don't have any bills or expenses and are largely self sufficient, you can probably survive this without much change in lifestyle. Everyone else may be in trouble. In the event of a general finance meltdown, you really should consider executing your TEOTWAWKI plan, because things may get very ugly very quickly and you may not be far ahead of the Golden Horde. Widespread and simultaneous bank closures from financial instability is a very bad sign.

6. TEOTWAWKI plan. (Long term Grid-down emergency): This is the big one. It's what this blog is all about, and the reason you should have moved out west to a quiet little town. If you can plan for this one, you will be ready for anything less catastrophic. I see a collapse happening in three broad phases: The struggle to save society, the big die-off, and the early struggle for recovery. Let me explain what I mean. Our modern world is very inter-dependent and a breakdown of any major system can cause the collapse of the others like a house of cards. The main ones that can't stand much interruption are:

Food distribution
Fuel distribution
Finance systems (commerce)
Electrical Power Grid
Government law enforcement

Failure of any of these for an extended period could cause catastrophic failure of the other four systems. If people are starving, they will break laws to get food. If nobody can buy or sell, it can completely stop food and fuel distribution. Fuel distribution effects the power grid. Unless the Government quickly reacts to disruption of any of these main systems and props it up well enough, the others are sure to crash. There will be a period where the government (and most responsible citizens) attempt to prop up the system and put it back in order. Reporting for work even if you are afraid of violence and not being paid may be the only way the system can be repaired and the crash averted. If these efforts fail and one or more of the above support systems stay down long enough, all five of these systems will likely fail in rapid succession.

Failure of these will cause other second order failures in systems that, while critical, can stand some disruption without catastrophic results, such as food production, medical services, transportation and distribution of other goods, other government services, coal mining, Water and sewage and maintenance as well as many others. The net result of a general breakdown of services would be to shatter society beyond a return to normalcy.

Here is the problem you face: Almost everyone in western civilization is supported by this precarious web of services. Without them, these people cannot possibly maintain their current existence for more than a few days or weeks at the most. There is not enough food stored nearby where people live, also, these people don't yet own it. (check around. Almost nobody stores a meaningful amount of food in the USA or Europe). Without the electrical grid, finance, law enforcement, transportation and security, everything comes to pieces and people will start to starve.

The population of the USA (and Europe) will be hungry and desperate within a very short time. How short? I really don't have any empirical data on this. Regional disasters are not a good model for a general breakdown because there is always help available immediately from the outside, even if it's nothing more than a stable finance system and the threat of eventual prosecution for looters. The one thing we can be sure of is that without modern systems, most people are going to die in a matter of months.

Lest you think this kind of catastrophe can't happen, be warned: This massive population die-off is not without precedent. Throughout pre-history, there are repeated catastrophic die-offs where a population suddenly collapsed. The Mayans, Anasazi, Greenland Vikings, Easter Island, and several African empires probably experienced a very similar event. Each population (except Greenland) stabilized at a new, far lower, population level. But, each of these cases was the result of the collapse of societies much less complex and populous than our own, with fewer dependencies and much shorter production chains. In other words, their societies were much more robust and resilient than ours. Our collapse and die-off will be unprecedented only in scale and the speed of the crash.

Living near a population center makes surviving the die-off difficult or even impossible. People don't just sit down and starve to death. They form groups and go out looking for provisions. Put yourself in their shoes and think it through and you will see that every house, every building they can reach will be systematically searched for food. Even remote retreats may not be safe from this. People tend to organize and come up with solutions, even to tough problems. [JWR Adds: And be forewarned that they tend to apply "situational ethics."] Every city and every town will have provisioning teams out looking for supplies. Anyone who expects to stand on their rights and claim that they "own" their supplies is going to lose in the face of general starvation. Any provisions you have that can be found will be confiscated by somebody unless you can fight them off.

I would like to save you some planning time here and say that you can't fight them off. They will use whatever force they require to kill you if you try. you will be facing a modern military force determined to take you down. You simply cannot win. Expect to be approached by a uniformed policeman (or citizens wearing armbands or whatever) armed with a writ or martial law decree allowing them to search your home and confiscate food and fuel. Unless you have hidden or evacuated your goods, you will lose them, one way or the other.

You will need to make some hard choices if you plan to survive a die-off and live near a population center! If you truly believe, as I do, that you can't possibly bug out in place, you will either have to evacuate to a safer place, or hide. A long G.O.O.D. trip (IMHO) is likely to fail. There are just too many variables that are outside your control. You must have a clear route, good weather, working vehicle, provisions for the trip and ample fuel. You must also maintain security during the trip. It's not just ambush or raiders you have to worry about. Any local sheriff, anywhere on your route can block a road and confiscate your vehicle, almost on a whim. Any number of problems can come up on the road.

My own preparations: Since I have chosen to accept risk and live in the East near a population center, I will have to take extreme measures to live through an extreme disaster. My preparations are fairly extensive, but not as expensive or time consuming as buying even a meager retreat home. As with all my other preparations, I set a goal for myself that minimizes my effort and expense and still gives me a good chance to survive.

First, I have no confidence that I could evacuate to a safe place or outrun the "Golden Horde", so to live through a general population die-off, I will have to hide my family and all our provisions. This is not a fool-proof solution. It requires some preparation and it certainly isn't easy to do, but I believe this is my only real chance of surviving the die-off long enough to help rebuild.

I have chosen a remote wooded area (Federally owned pine woods) near my home with lots of ground cover and almost no game or other resources. There is a tiny stream nearby, too small for fishing, but with a year-round supply of relatively clean fresh water. I have chosen a good place for a hide site (a camouflaged encampment with a sturdy fighting position) and cached quite a lot of provisions nearby including a big box of sandbags.

With these basics and my (truck load) BOB, I can set up a LRS style hide site. This is sort of an enhanced objective rally point (ORP) with much better security than my home. I feel that my family can be preserved there for about a year, even in the event of a massive society collapse and die-off.

This plan seems extreme, (it is), but weigh it against the alternatives. The advantages of a wilderness hide-site retreat (for me, anyway) are compelling. My site is very close to my current home, so I don't have to worry about keeping a lot of fuel on hand or facing a long, dangerous G.O.O.D. evacuation. It is highly unlikely to be found by looters, hunters, loggers, or anyone else and isn't on somebody's private land...in fact, I don't hold a deed to it, so it can't even be traced to me and located by city hall records. It's much safer and more defensible than my home and can be evacuated with little loss of provisions since the bulk of them are hidden at some distance from the site. My pre-positioned provisions are carefully waterproofed and don't require much maintenance. (I spot check some of my caches yearly, but none of them have ever required any attention). Any retreat with buildings is much harder to hide or maintain and obviously costs much more.

Building a permanent cache is an art form, so if you choose to use this tactic, think it out and research it before you do it. A good technique is to bury a large galvanized steel culvert and seal the space inside with welded (or even bolted) steel doors or bolted panels to keep out rodents. Cover the ground a few feet around with heavy (6 mil or better) plastic sheet and cover the whole thing with a foot of soil and sod or leaf litter. In a few weeks, it will be undetectable without a metal detector. An 8 foot section of 3 foot culvert provides over 40 cubic feet of usable secure storage space and can be man-handled into place by two strong men using only a pickup truck and hand tools. You still have to waterproof every container inside the culvert, but they are surprisingly dry and temperature stable inside as long as you are well above the water table. I recommend you provide some redundancy. Hide several of these and store more food than you think you will need, in case one or more of them are found and looted somehow. This requires a lot of heavy digging unless you can rent some machinery without attracting attention. But, even if you have to do it with a shovel, it might be worth it someday. And once you have your culverts in place, you can relax and go fishing. You don't have to worry about provisioning too much since the bulk of yours will be safe.

Living in suburbia in the Eastern US, you are constantly living in the shadow of a major population center, or several. This can be good and bad. Your chances of making it through most disasters are actually better than if you were living in the remote boonies since you will enjoy the benefits of the money economy, easy to find jobs and a nearby police force. Just be aware that if the worst happens, you will need some pretty extreme plans to maximize your odds of living through it.

Mr. Rawles,

I have a few counterpoints to Officer Tackleberry's article touting the 9mm and especially the Glock 9mm family of pistols. My daily concealed carry pistol is a Kel-Tec PF9 9mm, so I don't have any objections to 9mm as a caliber. But I also have a SIG P220 in .45 ACP, and favor it over any high-capacity 9mm full-size pistol. While the author's anecdotal evidence shows any pistol can be lethal, a .45 ACP, with the right ammunition, is going to be more effective than a 9mm. With an 8 round magazine and one in the chamber, that's three attackers whom I can give a double tap to the torso and one to the head. Yes, a Springfield XD would give me 20 rounds --- but would those less-capable 9mm rounds do the job?

On another note, my wife prefers a steel-framed 1911 over any polymer-framed 9mm --- the difference is weight, especially near the muzzle. The 1911 in .45 ACP is much more pleasant to shoot than a Glock 9mm, especially with +P ammo. The platform is just as important as the caliber in determining recoil / shootability. I understand the design features of the Glock make them easy to use -- no argument there. - Jeremiah S.


In his excellent article, Officer Tackleberry has outlined his case for the 9mm cartridge and the Glock pistol. I found in the article, however, only a comparison between 9mm hollow point ammo and .45 ball ammo. This might be a comparison of apples to oranges, so to speak, for if one compares hollow point ammo in both cartridges, then the comparison lies heavily in favor of the .45, which can expand to well over an inch in its hollow-point configuration, dwarfing the 9mm characteristics.

As to magazine capacity, the storied history of the 1911 with its seven (now eight) round magazine shows that the .45, even in ball form, performs magnificently in comparison to the 9mm. See reports from our troops in the "Sand Box." I wonder why our special operations forces demand .45 pistols?

It is most definitely true that training with any handgun is the key to success. However, with the same training, a pistolero with a .45 will likely never need fifteen rounds to stop a gremlin.

The Glock has been so popular with law enforcement agencies, the story goes, because of its low cost and because even an idiot, by all reports, can shoot one. Nuff said.

So it appears to me that Officer Tackleberry offers a somewhat lopsided report - "Two Dogs" Lt.Col. USMCR (ret)

A very interesting article with some good points and some fallacies. I note that ‘Officer Tackleberry’ likes to compare 9mm HP to the .45 NATO Ball ammo. Not exactly apples to apples. On any given shot, into any give area, the .45 hollow point (HP) will produce a more devastating wound that the 9mm, be it HP or Ball. It is a distraction to not admit that up front and let it go. It is not relevant to the good officer’s thesis.

The choice of the Glock is very personal. Personally, I don’t like the weapon. A Springfield Armory M1911 chambered in .45 ACP (shooting NATO Ball) is the reason I’m around to be writing this so I’ve seen no reason to reduce the impact of my rounds. Nothing against the Glocks – I think it becomes a “boxers or briefs” kind of argument - and I always encourage new shooters to try both and see what they like. I know several Glock shooters who have used heat shrink tubing to defeat the trigger safety of the Glock because it irritates their trigger finger after much shooting. I definitely recommend against this modification, but there it is. Shooting is very individualistic and these good folks were told the Glock is the only way to go so they won’t even try another platform although they aren’t happy with their choice.

As to the number of rounds, at under 10 feet distance (where the vast majority of shootings take place) if I need more than three rounds I’m dead anyway and reloading is not the issue. A ranking officer died in Iraq when he entered a room with four terrorists in it. He got off 7 shots of 9 mm from his 15 rd magazine, hit them all, but three of the terrorist were still alive when his men entered the room. Of course he was using ball ammo but the one shot stop is still a myth in most cases, even with hollow point ammo. It’s not something I want to play “you bet your life” on. My Colt Officer’s model [.45 ACP] is loaded with Hydra-Shoks. I have one in the tube and seven in the magazine and a spare magazine on the concealment holster. I can reload successfully if you are more than 10 to 15 feet away and if you are not, I shouldn’t need to reload. I practice a lot, as we all should, and I reload my practice ammo. I have a Kel-Tec P11 that I carry as a pocket pistol during the summer and as a backup when I can carry my Colt.

My preferred defense side arm is a revolver (in .45) but that is a little harder to conceal so is usually only for open carry or home defense. My family ranges in size from my 6 ft 2 in frame to my 4-ft 11-in wife. Our guns run from a .32 S&W long to a .380 Kel-Tec to my revolvers to the 9mm and Colt. Each member practices often with their gun of choice and reliably hits what the are aiming at. We all shoot the 9 mm for familiarity and proficiency even though I’m the only one who carries one full time. It is a backup for all of us.

A .32 with hollow points is not my weapon of choice, but it is what my wife will be fire in practice where a 9mm wouldn’t be. I have 12, 20, and .410 gauge shotguns because the 12 is too much for the ladies in the house. As I age, I’m beginning to think the 12 may be more than I want to shoot routinely as well. We may move to 20 gauge for comfort and that will help the ammo storage. I don’t reload shotgun rounds although I know some who do.

I guess my point is that, although I understand the advantages of a common round for the family or group, you should get firearms and stock ammo that the members will use. Get your long guns sized for the shooter (petite requires a “youth” stock length – put the butt plate in the bend of the elbow barrel pointing up; bend the forearm up alongside the stock, if the trigger finger is not at the trigger the stock is not the correct size) and then practice. A verity of ammo also allows for barter if needed but I think that if you try to force a caliber on a shooter that they are not comfortable with, they won’t practice and will fear to use the gun defeating the purpose of having it. I know it would be more efficient to stock nothing but 9 mm or .45 ACP but then I’d be the only armed member of my family. Now when we are out together at a restaurant we are a “mobile, gun rich environment” (quote thanks to John Connor of Guns magazine). For rifles we run from .22s to pistol cartridges to .30-30 to bigger. I prefer the lever guns for reliability, large magazine, and ease of use. They are faster for me than a bolt and more reliable than anything other than a single shot. I’ve never had a lever gun jam or miss feed. I can’t say that about bolts and semi-auto actions.

I get concerned when I read about the “everything in common” approaches. You need guns in your battery that will be used first and foremost. You also need guns that will get the job done. If you live in large bear county, a 9mm might scare off the bear or it might just annoy him. A .223 would not be my first choice if I was face to face with a large bear. On the other hand, a .50 BMG is too much gun for an urban dweller. You don’t want to punch a hole through your target and the next nine houses on the block. Each of us need to look at our situations realistically, minus our egos (mine is probably the biggest around), and decide what we must have, what we should have and what we’d like to have. The "must have” is a firearm that you will shoot and will have with you when you needed it. Everything else is a waste of time and money. If you can’t get to it when you need it, you do not have it! Just my not so humble opinion. - Captain Bart, USA Ret.


To counter the "anti" mail that I'm sure you'll receive about "Tackleberry's" article, I'd like to say I think the guy is spot on. I love the Model 1911 and the .45 caliber, but, I think a Glock in 9mm makes much more sense for the majority of us in a survival situation. The lack of external safeties, the additional ammo capacity, and the better controllability of the 9mm make it a better choice for the vast majority of us.

Let's face it, very few of us get out and train at least once a week with a handgun, more like once a month if we're lucky. I think we can all agree that handgun shooting is a perishable skill. If you are not shooting a large caliber handgun, with external safeties, and doing the magazine changes (and malfunction) drills on a very regular basis, then I think you are probably not prepared to use it in any violent confrontation.

The reason I traded in the 1911 for a 9mm Glock was so I would have no external safeties to manipulate, have better controllability of my shots, and increased ammo capacity. So even if I don't get as much training in as I want, I can still be combat effective. More so than with a 1911 in .45 caliber. That's the bottom line here.

Not to open another can of worms, but I think this also relates to rifle caliber choice as well. A lot of folks insist on the 7.62mm for a rifle, for a lot of the same reasons you hear for .45 caliber for a handgun. I prefer the 5.56mm for my rifle because I can control it better, meaning more accurate shots, and carry more ammo to the gunfight. And I can also get by with less training, although rifle skills aren't quite as perishable as pistol. (BTW, I am not advocating less training, I am just saying this is the reality of most of our situations.)

As an added bonus, my wife can also shoot a 9mm pistol, and 5.56mm rifle. So I always have a built-in back-up partner which doubles my combat effectiveness. - Diz


I can't agree about using trick ammunition to make up for bullet size. We are comparing apples and oranges here. The 9mm premium hollow point compares favorably with the .45ACP FMJ rounds, but it costs a lot more. Those big, cheap, FMJ practice rounds are the same ones I prefer for combat. A 9mm is a perfectly adequate weapon using premium ammo, but does it operate flawlessly? If you train with one load and stockpile another, you really don't know for sure, do you? In my humble opinion, if you have chosen a premium or non-standard ammunition for combat use, that the only thing you should shoot for training. Otherwise, it's little better than dry-fire practice. I don't like surprises and would hate to find out too late that that those beefed up +P premium bullets jam more often, or crack my pistol frame.

I don't want to argue about stopping power of relative cartridges. Both the 9mm and .45 have a lot of fans and I am not that uncomfortable with either of them. Compared to a rifle, all pistol rounds tend to look alike. Shot placement is definitely the most important factor. But in combat, you really have to have confidence in your weapon and for me the 9mm, with it's lower recoil and smaller diameter, does not inspire confidence. I want my pistol to kick up a fuss and make some racket. If I could be sure of meticulously clean weapons, I would probably still choose the heavier bullet for reliability of function. If I might have to fight with a sandy or muddy weapon, there is no choice. I have seen too many nines stop shooting unexpectedly when they get dirty.

Military operators like the .45, not just because we are limited to FMJ rounds, but because they always behave well. I believe that momentum carries and transfers energy more reliably than velocity. There is a lot to be said for the simplicity of a large, jacketed chunk of lead sailing along just shy of the speed of sound. No tricks, no gimmicks, just lots of lead, already expanded to .45 caliber. Close combat is quick and you may only get one shot. I would rather than one shot weigh 230 grains rather than half of that. - JIR

By way of the Appenzell Daily Bell: Germans Desperate Over EU, Greece

Rogers: Goldman May Fuel 20 Percent Market Tumble. (Out thanks to Brett G. for the link.)

GG suggested this Forbes opinion piece: Will Japan Default?

The Fox forwarded this: Greek Bailout Is a High-Wire Act. They are starting to use the "D" word. (Default.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Could Germany Quit Euro Over Greek Crisis?

Rivals May Not be Smiling at Goldman Sach's Predicament Long

Bank of Ireland Forced to Sell Off Assets

FEMA Faces Own Fiscal Emergency

Unemployment Rises in 24 States

RBS sent this from China Daily: Shelters part of long-term civil defense plan

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Rick pointed me to HomeFirefightingSystems.com, in Pollock Pines, California. They sell pumps, foam, gel, tanks and equipment that would be appropriate for retreats.

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Josh flagged this bit of Hoplophobic Political Correctness stupidity: Student suspended after finger gun incident.

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I found this linked at the Drudge Report: Mission Impossible: Escape from Europe. (Read between the lines, vis-a-vis Getting Out of Dodge, in other crises.) Meanwhile, we also read: Get ready for decades of Icelandic fireworks, and More from Eyjafjallajokull (a fascinating photo essay), and Volcano flight chaos leaves many passengers broke.

"Due to the second eruption of the Iceland volcano and further disruption to flights, our shipment of Wii stock will be delayed." - a Mindscape Corporation spokesperson, as reported by the editor of the Kotaku blog. (For some techno nerds, this might signal TEOTWAWKI.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I just heard from my editor at the Plume Division of Penguin Books that Editorial Paidotribo has purchased the rights to produce a Spanish language edition of my non-fiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It".


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

There are many areas of debate, speculation, opinion and urban legends when it comes to anything involving guns and/or self-defense, with handguns probably being at the top of this list.  I will share my experience, training and research to try to help with this debate.

The first thing to consider is what caliber is right for you and your family.  When it comes to establishing a caliber for your family’s security, there seems to be a belief that the .45 is the only way to go, especially in the semi-auto platform.  I couldn’t disagree more with the reasoning for this thought process and I am about to ruffle more than few feathers by making a case for the 9mm to be your ammo and platform of choice.

One of the things brought up is “knock down power” and this is one of those urban legends that needs addressed first.  Yes, a .45 has a greater weight and therefore more impact inertia/potential if it hits something solid, like bone.  So, if my only choice was .45 ball or some other caliber ball, like the 9mm, then I would consider the .45. 

But, if one takes the time to study the plethora of data available, you will see that most of the time people are not instantly incapacitated after being shot with a pistol, no matter what the caliber is.  There is an old saying that some of you may have already heard…What does a person do after being shot with a pistol? The same thing he was doing before he was shot with a pistol!  This may sound foolish but that is the reality of pistol caliber ammo.  This is also why many police agencies and military units have started phasing out or limiting the use of pistol caliber long gun platforms, such as the MP5, in favor of the more compact rifle caliber platforms.

I believe that the type of pistol ammo is more important than what the actual caliber is.  Winchester, Hornady and Speer are just three of the quality manufacturers out there that make awesome hollow-point, self-defense ammo for 9mm that have significant ballistic capabilities that exceed that of .45 ball.  The hollow-point bullets flare out when they meet resistance, sometimes to more than twice original size.  This causes significant wound channels, thus incapacitating the attacker.  This is why law enforcement carries hollow-point ammo and it’s extremely foolish that we don’t allow military to do so.

So, with the quality ammo options available today, why pigeon-hole yourself with a caliber that’s so big that it severely limits the amount of ammo that you can carry at one time?  In all semi-auto pistol platforms, the .45 caliber pistol holds a significantly smaller number of cartridges than most 9mm pistols.

We need to remember why we carry pistols and what their true purpose is.  The true purpose of the pistol is to provide a concealable, compact firearms platform that we can use to defend ourselves at close quarters, to fight our way to cover, to escape and/or get to a long-gun platform.  I recently read what was supposed to be a story about a sheriff in Texas.  Whether or not the story is true, I do believe that it reflects the mindset we all should have when it comes to the use of firearms for self-defense.  The story states that the sheriff was attending some sort of social function when a woman approached him and asked him if he was "expecting trouble" since he was wearing his pistol.  The sheriff told her no, that if he was really expecting trouble, then he would have brought his rifle. 

It’s not my intention to state that pistol calibers are totally ineffective and/or should be ignored.  I believe that it is more of a perspective and awareness issue.  Since I know why I carry a pistol and what it’s intended purpose is (close quarters self-defense, fight our way to cover/long-gun platform, or escape as mentioned earlier), I would prefer the 17 rounds of quality 9mm ammo available in my Glock 17 over the 12 rounds or less available in most 45 semi-autos.  Even my sub-compact Glock 26 affords me 10 rounds per magazine in an easily concealable format.

One distinct advantage of the high-capacity of most 9mm platforms available over the .45s is that you have to perform fewer magazine changes.  Magazine changes, especially under stress, are something we all need to practice on a regular basis.  With that being said, someone with what is arguably the most popular .45 platform, the 1911, must perform two magazine changes before they meet/exceed the amount of ammo that I have in my Glock 17 before I am required to make a single magazine change.  You must keep in mind that every time you make a magazine change, you are temporarily out of the fight.  Also, how many of you carry one extra magazine when you conceal-carry your handgun, let alone two?

Now, before all of the hate mail comes in claiming that I am “disrespecting” the 1911, I want to clarify something.  I am a fan of the 1911 and its quality design, regardless of the manufacturer.  It’s one of the most pleasurable handguns I have ever shot, bar none.  But, in my humble opinion, why carry a gun that only gives 7 or 8 rounds per magazine when I carry one that is similar in size but has 15 rounds, like the Glock 19? 

We broached the area of “knock down power” power earlier in this discussion and now I want to delve into it a little deeper.  Based on my research and training, I believe the standard we need to evaluating is not the size and weight of a bullet (which are the biggest arguments in favor of the .45s) but the ability of the bullet, and most of all the shooter, to incapacitate an attacker.

What I mean by the ability of the bullet has already been mentioned previously in regards to hollow-point ammo.  But, the ability of the shooter is directly tied to shot placement, especially under stress.  Can you repeatedly hit different vital areas, such as the head, with your current handgun?  Can you do so while moving forward, backward and/or sideways? Can you do so one handed, especially with your “off-hand”?
Now, take you out of this equation and insert your family members.  Can your spouse and/or children, especially teenagers, adequately perform the above listed tasks with the handguns that you have selected for the family self-defense arsenal?  Can the smaller stature members of your family or preparedness group handle training with .45 or even a .40 caliber handgun?

We need to keep in mind a key factor we know about individual performance during the stress of a combat situation.  This “factor” that I am speaking of is that a person drops to about 50% of their ability under the stress of combat.  Since this is the case, we know that we all must have quality training and practice on a regular basis.  How much practice/training is a person going to be willing to put in with a hand gun that beats them up?

When I was in the police academy, I saw two videos that really opened my eyes in regards to shot placement.  The first video was from the cruiser of a state trooper who was in a fight with a man who ended up shooting the trooper with a .22 caliber pistol.  The .22 caliber bullet went through the trooper’s side and pierced his aorta.  I watched this large, muscular trooper who was a former professional football player bleed out internally and die.  Lucky shot? Yes.  But, the small caliber bullet still killed him.

The second video I watched involved a domestic violence incident in which a female was shot point blank in the forehead with a .357 revolver.  When the police and EMTs arrived, she was still conscious and sitting on the couch.  The bullet had glanced off the skull plate of her forehead and traveled under the skin of her scalp all the way to the back of her head before becoming lodged in the muscle of her neck. 
Now, prior to viewing these two videos, I was of the opinion that being shot with a .357 revolver meant certain death.  But, not only did the female in video #2 survive, so did the man who shot the trooper in video #1.  You see, the trooper in video #1 had shot his attacker five times center mass with his issued .357 handgun.  Yet, his attacker still shot him and still alive to this day (R.I.P. Trooper Coates).  I guess the old adage of “I’d rather have a hit with a .22 than a miss with a 5” artillery shell” still applies.

Another factor that must be considered by most, if not all us, is the cost associated with achieving and maintaining confidence and proficiency with your chosen firearm’s platforms, especially hand guns.  To maintain necessary proficiency, we must live-fire practice and train with the chosen hand gun on regular basis.  As of right now, 9mm ball practice ammo sells for about $165 per 600 round case while .45 ball practice ammo sells for about $290 per 600 round case.  Quality Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point 9mm self-defense ammo sells for about $23 per 20 round box, while the .45 sells for about $28 per 20 round box.  As you can see, it is much more cost effective to train with and properly equip the 9mm platform as opposed to the. 45.  Then you can use the money saved to obtain other necessary preparedness items.
As you can tell, I am a fan of the Glock family of pistols.  But, I want to clarify the fact that I favor the 9mm family only, which includes the Models 17, 19 and 26.  There are several reasons as to why and I will try to name a few of them in short order.

First, Glock’s have no external safeties or de-cock levers and their safety features are internal.  There are some that would try to argue that this makes the Glock an unsafe platform.  If that was the case, then thousands of police officers wouldn’t be carrying them because their respective departments wouldn’t want the liability.  The primary safety on all firearms has always been, and always will be, keeping the trigger area free of obstructions, especially your finger!  I have also read of several instances where officer’s have forgotten to reset their de-cock lever or to take their gun off of safe and thus the gun didn’t fire when they deployed it in self-defense.  Several of these officers were shot and unfortunately some were killed.  Is it a training issue? Yes.  But it has happened more that what most people think and it has happened to me while training with a Smith and Wesson 4506.

Secondly, the 9mm Glock family has many interchangeable parts, including magazines.  The full-size magazine for the model 17 will work in the both the 19 and the 26 and the 19’s magazine will fit in the 26.

Next, most full sized .45 caliber models are physically way too big for smaller-statured people and both the .40 and .45 caliber platforms have way too much bark/recoil for many people. 

I think a serious consideration needs to be the availability of ammo and spare parts in a TEOTWAWKI environment.  Since 9mm is common the world over, I believe ammo will be available to at least barter for, which also means it’s probably a good item to barter with.  Also, since Glocks are very common in the U.S. and worldwide, then I believe spare parts will be somewhat easier to come by.

Lastly, the 9mm Glock family has repeatability of use no matter what the size.  In a self-defense situation, my wife, who is not very familiar with a multitude of handguns, can pick up any of my Glocks and know exactly how it functions.  To me and my way of thinking, this is a huge home security bonus.

I challenge you to take the time to seriously research the 9mm ammo and platforms available with an open mind.  I did and I am happy with the results of my research.  I also stake my life my life on the results every day. I believe you will see that there are simple, effective and cost-efficient options out there, with Glocks being at the top of that list.

I would like to thank you for your excellent site. I have been steadily working my way through your archives for the past several months now. I have been a prepper for quite a while thanks to my upbringing. However, for me it is more of a serious hobby than anything else. Being in the military and changing duty stations fairly rapidly is not conducive to long term prepping, as has been mentioned before on your site. That does not mean that I cannot plan however. I have attached a “List of Lists” in MS-Excel spreadsheet format. The initial worksheet is a link page with each of the lists labeled. You should be able to click on the list you want and it will take you to it, if not then use the worksheet tabs at the bottom of the page.

I have included in these lists all the recommended material from the newbies page of your site with the exception of videos. I have also included material from your archives that I felt pertinent (and that I have covered so far), as well as some of my own wants. This list is not complete to say the least, but I would be comfortable calling it list "1.0". There is still a lot of work to be done on it but I will be on my way to Afghanistan soon and it will be unlikely I will have Internet or computer access for some time. Therefore I am sending it to you for you to do with as you will. Maybe some other individual can profit from the work I have completed thusfar, or perhaps there is a way to make it a community project that others can add to with their recommendations. Allowing anyone to pick and choose what works for them (It is modular!)

My basic format to date has been three simple columns: Item, Remarks about the item, and Web links associated with that item.

God Bless, - ZZP from Texas

JWR Replies: Thanks for your efforts! I've just added the spreadsheet to the blog site, where it will be permanently linked. (It is now linked in the left-hand menu.)

James Wesley:

On Friday, eight more banks were closed according to this article.

I did a little research and found out that so far this year, 50 banks with total assets of approximately $30.4 Billion (you have to add the numbers up in the total assets column) have failed according to this site.

By this date last year (April 17, 2009) 25 banks with $12.5 Billion in assets had failed according to the companion site. How's that "hope and change" working for you? This could be a record year if the pace keeps up. - S.M.

Economics and Investing:

Hunter in Alaska spotted this blog article: The Whiskey Standard (by way of Instapundit).

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Our thanks to R.B.S. for sending this: Copper thieves dismantle office building's roof.

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Crime Prediction Software is Here and It's a Very Bad Idea. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Ferd liked this Lifehacker article: Make a Waterproof Fire Starter Out of Dryer Lint (and Some Other Trash)

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Brian B. sent this: Rallies supporting the United States' 2nd Amendment were held across the country Monday

"Somewhere ahead I expect to see a worldwide panic-scramble for gold as it dawns on the world population that they have been hoodwinked by the central banks' creation of so-called paper wealth. No central bank has ever produced a single element of true, sustainable wealth. In their heart of hearts, men know this. Which is why, in experiment after experiment with fiat money, gold has always turned out to be the last man standing." - Richard Russell

Monday, April 19, 2010

Notes from JWR:

I'm scheduled to be interviewed by libertarian survivalist Reginald Kaigler on The DEMCAD Show (a Freedomizer Radio podcast), this evening (Monday) from 6-to-7 p.m. Eastern Time.


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I want to bring up a topic that should be critical to those trying to prepare. I am one of the folks that wants to survive in place in a suburban environment. The serious weak link in any survival program is that of water. We have all read the endless articles about finding and preparing potable (drinkable) water. The endless stories of filtering, boiling, bleach-treating. I believe one area has been overlooked. Proviso: The following is presented for educational purposes only, and should only be considered in life and death situations!

Can I tell you all a little about my background? I was one of the many starving college kids in the 1970s while trying to make my way through college to earn a degree in engineering I took many jobs. One of the jobs I took was that of a "Street flushers helper". What a street flusher does is go out in the small hours of the morning and flush the streets in a large truck filled with water. The irony of all this is that it was in Seattle, where we normally get 40 inches of rainfall a year. I know, I know it sounds crazy but they were willing to pay for it and I needed the money. So where does a street flusher get all that water? That’s where the story gets interesting.

The lowly hydrant, you know those red, white and yellow things you can’t park in front of. They are everywhere and no one gives a thought about them. If you are a street flusher they were very dear indeed. I had my favorites, because it was part of my job to keep the truck full of water. I always wanted to find the high flowing hydrants. That’s when I was taught the laws of gravity for the very first time. We had a hydrant that we used over and over again because it was the lowest hydrant on the system. And boy did it put out water, I could fill a 1,500 gallon water truck in just under 12 minutes. We had at least 115 Pounds per Square Inch (PSI). On those very cold nights you want to be out of the truck just as short as time as possible.

So how do you get access to all that water at the hydrant? Remember folks we are talking about grid down and people are suffering from dehydration and you need water now. Well, that’s where the hydrant wrench comes in. Please don't confuse this with a pipe wrench a plumber would use. The nuts on a hydrant are Pentagon shape so you need a special wrench. If you use a pipe wrench you will permanently mar the nuts and I want to strongly discourage that. This is a special wrench that you can buy online, they are not cheap. A new wrench would run you about $50. I bought mine through eBay many years ago for 24 dollars. I prefer the stout two piece wrench I do recommend the heavier wrenches, the lowest hydrant on your system may not have been opened in years. The cheap heads can break and need to be replaced. I also recommend getting a [wrench handle extension] "cheater" pipe. We used a six-foot piece of one inch galvanized pipe we called "The Staff". Any hydrant will yield with a long enough lever arm. This is specially important for the female preppers (The longer the lever arm the less physical strength needed). If the cost of the wrench seems a bit steep remember the cost of all that bottled water stashed in your garage.

When I would go out and crack open the hydrant at o-dark-thirty in the morning, I would appreciate having a stout hydrant wrench in my hands. Between rust and way too many coats of paint some hydrants will still refuse to yield. One trick I would do would try to close the nut slightly tighter to try and break the rust free. If any hydrant gave us too much grief we would notify the water purveyor that they had a problem hydrant.

You could be a real lifesaver with this resource. Remember Charlton Heston playing Moses in a Cecil B DeMille movie, where he struck the rock with his staff and out poured the water? Well, with your wrench and your staff you too could save hundreds of lives if you pre-locate the lowest hydrant on your system. This could bring a whole new meaning to finding your favorite watering hole.

Grid up or grid down water will always seek the lowest point in the system. If you’re local water tower is empty so what? There are still millions of gallons of fresh water in the system. All you need to know is how to find it. Here is a bonus that most folks forget: Most meters do not have a backflow valve (A one way check valve). So as long as some one in any house or apartment leaves a tap open that water loses its vacuum and returns to the main line and the lowest hydrant on the system. In undulating country side there will be pockets of trapped water everywhere. So you live in a dead flat area? Well, the water is still there--all you have to do is go and get it. Most hydrants are held down with 8 to 12 3/4 quarter inch diameter bolts. Some are meant to break away in case of a crash but most are not. It will take some work and you will be breaching a closed system, so you had better not do this on a whim. Remember folks: do this in life and death situations only! It would subsequently take a chlorine shock to restore the integrity of the line. [And of course ithe hydrant would have to be re-assembled for the system to ever be capable of being used in its normally intended manner.]

So just how much water are we talking about? Well if we do some rough math together you can find millions of gallons of unused water. If you’re concerned about stealing the water please make a five dollar donation now to your water supplier, that would allow you to take 1,000 gallons of fresh water with a clear conscience. Most water lines are 8 to 12 inches in diameter. An 8 inch line holds about 2 gallons per lineal foot. A 12 inch line holds 6 gallons per lineal foot. So if each hydrant is a 1,000 feet apart plus you have all the secondary lines flowing back into the main line you have thousands of gallons of fresh water ready for harvesting.
Back to the math, if you have a water tower 100 feet in the air the head pressure will give you 44 PSI at ground level. Do you need 44 PSI to wet your whistle? No, you need 3 PSI like you get from a drinking fountain. So you need about 18 feet of head pressure on the line. Hence the search for the lowest hydrant on the system. And yes I did account for the water line being below the frost line at 4 feet and the outlet being 2 feet off the ground. This means water in the system will flow even in sub freezing Conditions.

I used to love the hydrants in industrial areas. These hummers were on 12 to 18 inch lines, talk about volume. If you live in an industrial area you are in luck. First who in their right mind would seek out water in an industrial park? Second the volumes are there. One word of hydrant caution if the hydrant is purple or the piping or the meter is purple that is industrial water and can never be used for human consumption. Sometimes the hydrant would have a sign on it “non potable water“. Steer clear of all things purple. Another source is some old buildings had water towers on the roof. These towers were used to flood the stand pipes and sprinklers in case of fire. This could be a valuable resource.

The hydrant itself is just a large cast iron spigot with its frost free valve below the frost line. The older ones did not have the enamel coating on the inside so your first drink will be a bit rusty tasting. Worried about Fido and his aim? First Fido aims for the base of the hydrant not the top. Second if your concerned about it spray the hydrant down with a 5% bleach solution before you start. I dare say that hydrant being out in the direct sun is far cleaner than the company water cooler.

So you don't have a 1,500 gallon water truck to locate and transport the water back to your location? I can think of some ways on harvesting the water. I used a four mile radius on Google Earth around my house. Once I found my location I asked for a terrain map. Just 2,000 feet south of me is a low spot in the terrain. After a short walk I found that there was a hydrant there. This is certainly not the lowest on the system but it is close by. I do know that the hydrant will still have water long after all the neighboring houses have gone dry. When that hydrant goes dry I will have to increase my search radius to another lower hydrant. So you found your low hydrant and you have hydrant wrench. Remember you only need the cheater pipe on very stubborn rusty hydrants. To capture the water I would bring two 5-gallon food grade buckets. You might be able to stash these buckets in a near by location. I would fill one bucket at a time by drizzling water in than I would transfer the water into 10 one gallon milk jugs. I plan on riding my bicycle down to the hydrant then walking it back by wiring the 70 pounds of water to its frame. Is it the most safe and efficient means of transporting water? Probably not but this will work for me.

In closing 5,000 people die each day because of water-related illnesses. I watched thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims walk right past hydrants in their search for water. While many in desperation will drink from the city duck pond, all the while millions of gallons of fresh water will go unharvested right beneath their feet. You and your family should never be the one straining muck through your teeth hoping the diarrhea that follows won’t kill you. There must be a small group of leaders that will show the people the way. I hope and pray that you will be one of them. Again, the preceding is for life and death situations only!

I'm a SurvivalBlog addict who lives in the coastal suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia, and last night at roughly 11:25 p.m. my shower was interrupted by an earthquake!

It wasn't strong enough to move furniture. In fact, as earthquakes go it was pretty weak (later revealed as a 3.8), but since we're near the coast I wasn't taking any chances, and neither was my wife!

Seconds after it was stopped I was drying off and we were both getting dressed. We locked the doors, shut the windows, grabbed our phones and our boy, put the dogs in the car and headed to higher ground.

All in all I estimate it took us less than three minutes to hit the road!

We were woefully under-prepared in terms of tangibles. We topped the car off with fuel at high ground (a lookout point) and bought water and food. We also took a bunch of money out of our accounts.

Local talk back radio was the only immediate source of information but it gave us a very good idea of how strong and far reaching the quake was. We camped out on a high spot overlooking the city. I'm not sure if my placement was wise, but I intend to find out for future reference.

After it became clear through local reporting that the
quake epicenter was not out out at sea we waited for an hour and headed home.

The highlight for me was finding out that my wife was every bit as pro-active as I was!

The worrying factor was the number of people that hung around on their front lawns like garden gnomes on valium, even after the Boxing Day tsunamis!

It seems most of us have short memories...

Thanks as always for this brilliant operation you run here. Without it I would probably have been another one of those garden gnomes, and though it would have been fine this time, perhaps next time it won't. Kindest regards, - Bodes

Yishai sent this Instapundit item: U.S. Military Warns of Oil Shortage by 2015.

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Reader Damon S. suggested a web site with some free plans for building beehives.

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Matt B. mentioned a clever "stealth" house built into a grain silo.

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David R. was the first of several readers to mention this: MIT Student Develops Cutting Edge Low Cost Healing for the Developing World

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Concord Hymn, (1837), immortalizing the skirmish at the Old North Bridge, Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When you think of all of the needed equipment during or after an emergency, I am willing to bet that optical devices aren’t at the top of the list.  We will think about and plan for just about everything except seeing what is around us.  While pondering things to prepare for, I had the thought: What would be some items that would take some doings to replace?  While it is highly doubted that FEMA would come to your rescue I am almost certain that they will not arrive carrying the items that I'll point out.

If you wear glasses or contacts, the very first thing you should plan on having extras is some glasses.  While it is true that for most contact lens is a good choice for anyone active in the outdoors, glasses would or at least should last a lot longer.  Not only are the easier to clean than contact, they require not much more than the end of your shirt to keep functional.  To minimize the scratches, use one of those pieces of material specifically made for cleaning glasses.  While it is true that we all need a good case to keep them in, most of us don’t use one because they are always on our face. Remember what we say here, two in one and one is none?  Well if the next time you updated your eyeglasses prescription, be sure and order two pairs instead of just one.  Most places will give you discounted pricing on the second pair and you can save some money by choosing as your second pair a set of glasses that aren’t as fashionable as your everyday pair.  During normal times, glasses can be replaced in less than a week, so even if you had to wear the not-so-pretty ones for a week, what would it hurt?  Can you imagine the headache you’d have after going so long without glasses as your eyes are constantly trying to bring everything into focus?  This would be the place for prescription glass wearers…the next time you update your glasses, buy two pair.  Doctors recommend that we have our eyes checked every two years.  If you went tomorrow to the doctor and purchased two pair and followed up with a visit two years from now, you’d have four sets of glasses.  Two that are current and two that will get you buy until better comes along.  For those of you that wear just the generic reading glasses that are picked up at local pharmacy, you should just simply buy four pair as soon as possible.  If you had extra and wanted a truly great item to barter with, buy several pairs of various strengths.  People will give an arm and leg to be able to see.  I can’t imagine trying to survive what could be the worst event in your life with limited or no vision.

Think you are okay as you sit today?  Think of this situation.  A couple of weeks ago we carried our children to see the Circus and had a blast.  But what would have happened if pandemonium had set in and everyone decided they wanted to leave at the same time?  My first course of action would be to hang on to my children for dear life until we were all outside and accounted for.  But how would you feel if as a prescription glass wearer your glasses got knocked off in the stampede as they most likely would.  What if everything seems better outside but now you can’t see more than several feet in front of you.  What if one of your children or your spouse got separated and now you can’t see clearing enough for any distance to find them?  Good luck getting someone to help you either as they are trying to get someplace safe themselves.  Personally, I would not even be able to drive home without my glasses.  So if you wear glasses, make sure you have a replacement pair close at all times.  If you were able to keep an extra pair at work, at home, and in the car that would cover practically all the places you spend the most time.  I feel like in the event that I had to have them, between those three places I should be covered.

The very next set of optics you should purchase should be a decent set of binoculars.  Nothing says safety like avoiding trouble in the first place.  If you can watch from a distance, you may be able to avoid a lot of heartache latter.  It doesn’t matter if you are looking for wild game or running surveillance on what is going on around your own home or retreat, you can’t properly react to what you can’t see.  If you needed to get from point A to point B under severe conditions, it is better to scan the area as best you can for additional threats.  The further out you can spot those threats the better.  Often the best way to survive is not being seen or found.  In every book I have read on WTSHTF, binoculars have always come into place to create a tactical advantage whether it is putting game on the table or saving your own bacon.  So buy the very best you can afford and don’t skimp on quality.  Let’s go over some binocular basics so that you will choose the right pair for the task at hand.  One of the first requirements of a good set of binoculars is that they must be waterproof.  You never know what kind of action they may see so make sure that they will at least pass that test.  The next thing I would look for is what they call armor coated or rubberized so that they can take on a little more punishment.  Again, this is to protect your investment in what could be a piece of equipment that will last many years.

After you take into account the different sizes, i.e. 8x42 compared to 10x50, the most significant difference it which type of prism do you pick.  The binoculars that use the Porro prisms are the ones we are all most familiar with.  These are the ones that have the offset from the lens to the eye piece.  The advantages of the Porro prisms are that there are many more models to choose from and the costs are more in line with what most people are willing to spend.  One could argue that you can get more bang for the buck by going with a set of binoculars that incorporate the Porro prisms.  Porro prism binoculars have a single pivot point between the two lenses making them easier to adjust the distance between your eyes.    While it is true that they deliver the best value for the dollar, they also have some drawbacks.  From reading several reviews on binoculars while looking for the “best” set for the money, I noticed that many times customers reported that the waterproof and fog proof attributes either flat out failed or over time ceased to exist.  It is also hard to find a suitable set of offset binoculars that are truly compact, or maybe we should say as compact as they could be.  If you purchase a set of binoculars that use Porro prisms, then hold out for what they call BAK-4 prisms as they are considered the best right now.  Some use a BAK-7 prism, but they just aren’t as good as the 4’s.  Generally speaking, it is easier to find better optics and by that I mean better coated optics as the cost for manufacturing can be spent on the glass and not the prism.  My guess is because this design has been around for decades and thus the options are greater.

Now let’s look the other option in prisms.  That is the roof prism.  These are found in the binoculars that cost a little more and in some cases a lot more.  Roof prism binoculars can be spotted from across the room.  This is because the lens for each eye is lined up to for a single tub for each side of the binoculars.  By design, it is easier for companies to ensure that they are both waterproof and fog proof.  Also because of the straight tubes, you end up with a more compact set of binoculars.  Compactness may not matter while pulling your time in the LP/OP, but if you are on the move, it will matter a lot.  Because of the straight tubes, it is a little more difficult to adjust these for the spacing between the eyes.  The biggest downside I see is that you get a really good set of roof prism binoculars; you have to get in that $300 and up range.

The next thing to decide is which size do I need?  Binoculars are often classified as compact, mid-size, full-size, and zoom or astronomical.  For our purposes, we’ll pass on the astronomical as we would rather spend the money on something else, maybe another pair of binoculars.  As with any other tool, each size was designed for a specific task.  I would recommend that you own tow pair, one compact and one full size.  To understand how they are sized, you should understand what the numbers mean.  When you see a set advertised as 8x42, the first number represents the number of times an image is magnified when you look through them.  The second number is the size in millimeters that the objective lens or the lens opposite the eye.  Be careful of not getting caught up with buying the biggest set of numbers you can.  The higher the first number or magnification is, the harder it will be to keep them focused on something.  Get something in the 12x range or higher and it will feel like you have the shakes if you look through them too long as it will detect the slightest movement in your hands.  Expects suggest that you stay with something in the 7 or 8 range for your first number.  The second number is just as important.  Bigger is better but you will also be giving up the compactness of them as they will weigh more as that lens gets larger.  The larger this lens, the more light that goes into the binocular and the sharper the image will look.  This is called the exit pupil.  The actual diameter of the exit pupil is easy to compute.  You take the second number and divide it by the first.  For example, a pair of 8x42 binoculars will have an exit pupil of 5.25mm.  For a comparison, the human eyes in excellent condition have about a 7mm pupil opening.  So the closer you can stay to that number the more you’ll see even in dim light.  What does this mean?  With all things considered equal, a compact set of binoculars in 8x21 would be better than a set of 12x25.  The 8x21 set would have an exit pupil of 2.63mm while the 12x25 would be 2.08mm.  You’ll be able to see more at dusk with the 8x21 than with the 12x25.  This may seem backwards as the magnification is 33% more (8 vs. 12), but without enough light entering the front of the lens, your eyes can’t process the images correctly.  Still we haven’t answered the question of what size to buy.  I would suggest a pair of 7x50, giving you an exit pupil of 7.14 which is great, and a pair of 7x35 or 8x40 giving you an exit pupil of 5.00 each.  I would treat the later as my compacts and the former as the full-size binoculars.  Some compacts that are in the 10x25 range will only give you an exit pupil of 2.5 so don’t expect to see much unless it is the middle of the day.

Now that we have given you some ideas for binoculars, we need to talk about accessories.  The first thing I would purchase would be a decent case to keep them in.  After that and probably just as important, I would upgrade the neck strap.  I am partial to the ones like Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops sell that are part neck strap and part harness.  The harness system keeps you binoculars from bouncing and banging around while you are walking/running.  They keep them strapped close to your chest and easy to access.  I would also purchase a lens cleaning pens to keep the lens clean and free from scratches.

Rifle Scopes
After you have filled the bill for your eyeglasses and binoculars, you next most important piece of optical equipment will be that of a rifle scope.  A rifle scope, when properly adjusted, will allow pinpoint accuracy and less ammo down range.  We are not talking about spending the small fortune on the high dollar scopes designed for sniping or bench rest shooting but those more common on your average big game rifle.  The numbers for rifle scopes are the same used in binoculars.  The first number notes the amount of magnification and the later the size of the optical or outside lens.  When you see a scope described as a 3-9x40, this means that the magnification can be adjusted with a twist of the eyepiece from a magnification of 3 time to that of 9 times what we can see with the naked eye.  And again the last number tells you that the objective lens is 40mm.  This seems to be the most common setup on deer rifles around my area.   When you go to buy your rifle scope, never skimp on quality.  You’ll pay for it later in the end.  A furniture salesman once told me that the most expensive furniture you can buy is the cheapest because you’ll replace it more often in the long run.  This logic applies with optics as well.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a scope that will last a lifetime, but don’t expect to find it in the closeout bin either.  Look for a manufacturer that has been around for a while or at least offers a lifetime warranty on their product.  Manufactures that will not warrant their product forever know that the product will not last forever.  I would stick with Leupold, Nikon, Redfield, etc.  Another rule of thumb that I have used on every gun I have dressed out is not to spend more than half the cost or value of the gun on optics.  For instance if you purchase or trade for a rifle and you feel like the gun is worth $700, then try to spend no more than $350 on the scope.  When I buy a rifle and decide to put a scope on it, I use this formula and look to buy all the scope I can get for that amount of money.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen someone walking around at a gun show with what I call a mismatch.  What this means is that the gun will be a nice guns but immediately you’d have to upgrade the scope.  When you see this, factor out the scope that is currently mounted on the gun knowing you’ll replace it later.  You don’t have to mention it to the seller, because then you’ll have to listen to all the reasons he chose that brand or model.  Sometimes you’ll get lucky and be able to pick up an average rifle with an exceptional scope that often you’ll move to another gun.

After you have chosen the right scope for your rifle, you’ll need to know how you want to mount it.  I would suggest that you spend some time looking at the various mounting options from someplace like Midway USA.  (www.midwayusa.com). It would be well worth the money to standardize the mounting system commonly called rings and mount.  The rings are what hold the actual scope to the mount that is screwed down to the receiver of the rifle.  For instance if you have several rifles, and you could find the mounts like the Weaver or rail-type mount, you could easily switch the scope from one rifle to another.  You would need to remind yourself that with each change, you would need to re-zero the rifle. 

In order for the scope to function like it was supposed to, you’ll need to know as little something about the caliber you are shooting.  You need to know what the maximum effective range is for you caliber before you decide on the type of optics to purchase.  For instance you wouldn’t really want an EOTech Holographic sight on a .30-06 as they are designed for action a lot closer in.  A perfect example is that here in North Carolina the average shot at a deer in my area is inside of 200 yards.  With a kill area for vital organs somewhere around 6-8 inches, that gives you some wiggle room.  So I have my .270 Winchester rifle zeroed in at 1 inch high at 100 yards and it puts it at about 1 inch low at 200 yards and I’ve taken deer out to 300 yards without adjusting where I place the crosshairs.  They have some scopes out that Nikon and Redfield make that can be adjusted to you specific caliber and bullet weight that will allow you to shoot out to 600 yards without readjusting the scope.  This will cover almost any range most of us will ever need.  For accessories here, be sure and buy the lens covers like those offered by Butler Creek.  These are great at protecting you investment.  You might also consider buying the light shades that some manufactures offer not in case you are ever faced with setting up your position with the sun in your face.  A bad position but it might be all you have.

Night Vision
The next important piece of equipment that you should look to is something in the night vision area.  I have read on many blogs that if you can’t fight effectively in the night, that you won’t be alive come daybreak.  This is very true if others know where you are in the event the balloon goes up.  The first goal here to get something that will give you an advantage or at least level the playing field.  This is the next area of prepping for me.  I would love to hear from others that have more knowledge and experience than me on this topic.

When thinking about optics, think about looking from close-up to as far out as possible.  Spending hard earned money on a great scope is not much good if you lose your glasses and can’t see anything else.  So think glasses first, if you need them, and then go from there.  Add to the items described above would also be a good rangefinder to lay out distances and then a spotting scope for when you need to watch the same area for an extended length of time.  This should round out a great selection of optics that will serve you for many years to come.

As a geologist (masters degree) I have written for 30 years on issues of geologic hazards for numerous publications and made presentations to governmental entities regarding same. I preach preparedness for disaster as a way of mitigation for the inevitable. This is my heads up for your readers.

The unpronounceable Icelandic volcano (Eyjafjallajokull) that is currently erupting and disrupting air traffic mostly over Europe is becoming quite a demonstration of natures ability to mess with our technology. A much bigger worry is a nearby volcano called Katla which is also located under a huge ice cap on iceland. Katla is one of the most dangerous volcanoes on the island and in the northern hemisphere. There seems to be a historic connection between the eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull and Katla which is potentially a very bad thing. These volcanoes are of a scale significant enough to literally cool the climate enough to effect agriculture on a world wide basis. One of the eruptions of Katla is being tied to the french revolution (famine) and if you don't think that major social upheavals can be food related, then you need to be reading the P.E.T.A. web site not this one.

In other words, if this volcanic system starts to really clear it's throat and start singing, we won't be worrying about global warming for a while. But we will be worried about the food lines and rationing cards put out by the government to control the flow of rare commodities such as edibles. A serious volcanic event is just about all it would take to through many world economies that are teetering on the brink regardless, right over the edge. Massive quantities of SO2 thrown into the stratosphere will cool the planet rapidly and likely could give us several years of terrible harvests. Get your pantry in order if it's not already.

For some historical background, see: How an Icelandic volcano helped spark the French Revolution.

Best, - F.B., 14 miles from the nearest asphalt road.

Mr. Rawles,

Just wanted to pass along a link to an MSN story about the volcano erupting in Iceland. My eyebrow went up when I saw the words "Interwoven World" in the headline. Of course they don't go very deep into the possible disruptions this kind of event can bring about.

Also, I was curious if you are familiar with the BBC science documentary series "Connections" that was first aired in the 1970s. It had many interesting segments, but the first episode was my favorite. The host of the show used an example of a blackout that hit New York City in 1965. He discussed how people dealt with the disruption with the expectation that things were going to be fixed and then life would go back to normal. The power did come back after five hours, but the host did then put a question to the viewer of what would they do if the power did not come back. What would they do? Where would they go?

I've always been a "What If" thinker, and when I saw this in a class many years ago, it added a whole new level of thought that sticks with me to this day.

My wife and I appreciate your efforts and hope for your continued success. We just received our copy of the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and are starting to get ourselves organized as best we can.

Thank you, - Sean J. in Washington State

Vaerity mentioned, in her valuable post, that she would like to pursue some rifle training. I've got one word for her: Appleseed! Ladies shoot free, and she already possesses the preferred "Liberty Training Rifle" - the Ruger 10/.22. She will experience two full days of high quality rifle marksmanship instruction, for the cost of a bargain box of .22 LR ammunition. The bulk-packed ammo is still under $20 per box [of 550 cartridges.]. You just can't find a bigger bang for the buck!! Check out teh Appleseed web site for scheduled events in North Carolina. Best Wishes, - S.H. in Georgia

GG flagged this piece by Tyler Durden, over at Zero Hedge: Why Are Silver Sales Soaring? That is significant news. Think about it: Annualized, that means that effectively, the entire US silver mining production is being devoted to producing Silver Eagles planchets. The law of supply and demand is inescapable. So I'm I standing by my long term price predictions for silver.

Also from GG: 33 states out of money to fund jobless benefits.

Reader Chad S. notes: The Federal government deems all $5, $10 and $20 Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) minted before the 1996 series to be unfit for circulation. (Scroll down to Page 3.)

Items from The Economatrix:

California Jobless Rate Hits 12.6% in March

Goldman's Stock Loss Dwarfs Possible Penalty

US Home Reposessions Hit Five Year High

"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods of which your fathers served, or gods...in whose land ye dwell: but I, and mine house, will serve the Lord." - Joshua 24:15

Saturday, April 17, 2010

non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have a secure retreat with a hidden cache that I visit very infrequently. I plan to keep half of my guns there. What is the best way to long term (3-5+ years between checks) store firearms? Specifically, Glock pistols and Springfield Armory M1A rifles. This system will be shared with others who have some other pieces (M1911s and AR-15s), but, as they are not the agreed upon group [standard] arms, they are less of a concern from a standard preservation system standpoint. Light, humidity, and temperature can probably be regulated to whatever is necessary.

JWR Replies: The precautions that you need to take depend a lot on where you live. If you live in a high humidity climate, then you need to be particularly vigilant with your guns, magazines, and other tools. In essence: the higher the humidity, the greater the degree of protection required, and the greater the frequency of inspection for rust.

I generally recommend wearing lightweight cotton gloves when you do your gun maintenance. This is particularly important if you have sweaty hands. My college roommate was notorious for inducing rust on guns because of this, and he has always had to take special precautions.

A light coat of gun oil such as Rem Oil will suffice in dry climate. Although exotic lubricants such as Break Free CLP. are great for lubricating, in my experience, they leave so little residue that they are actually inferior to traditional gun oils for preventing rust. In damp climates, I recommend Birchwood Casey Barricade (formerly sold under the product name "Sheath".) Rem Oil and Barricade are both available from a number of Internet vendors including Amazon.com and Brownell's.

For truly long term storage, all metal parts (inside and out) especially the bore, chamber, and breech face should get a coating of grease. There is always the tried-and-true USGI "Grease, Rifle". (This product name was humorously spoken "Grease Comma Rifle" by American soldiers for many years, before the advent of the M16. It is the correct grease to use on an M14 or M1A's bolt roller, and on the bolt's "hump") While "Grease, Rifle" will suffice for long term gun storage, I prefer Rust Inhibitive Grease (RIG), which is available from a number of Internet vendors including Brownell's. Even though you will know how the gun was treated before storage, someone else in your family might not. I therefore strongly recommend attaching a special warning note: "Warning: grease coating--bore, chamber and bolt face! Remove grease before firing!!!"

You extra magazines and spare gun parts should be stored inside a humidity-controlled gun vault (with a 120 VAC dehumidifier rod) or in sealed ammo cans with a large packet of silica gel desiccant. These items probably won't need more than light coat of oil and annual inspection. Any larger quantities of magazines that are stored outside of your vault in non-airtight containers should probably be rubbed down with RIG, and inspected more often. In most cases this requires disassembling magazines, to get at their innards. OBTW, even if a magazine is made of polymer and has a plastic follower and floorplate, don't forget that its spring needs rust protection!


I found this article interesting: Professional Gang On Burglary Spree In Westchester. The homeowners spend so much money on their houses (prices start at $600,000) but fail to install any kind of security system.

The other thing I thought about while reading this is that there are people who don't take the threat of gangs seriously during a TEOTWAWKI event. Yet here is a professional gang breaking into affluent homes during 'peaceful' times. What do people think these gangs will be like when there's no electricity? No grocery store? No fuel?

The mantra is as always: hope, and pray, for the best but prepare for the worst. - JB

Michael M. suggested this from Popular Mechanics: Extreme Building Codes: Protect Your Home From Natural Disasters

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Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit mentioned this: Edible Vertical Garden.

"As the touchstone tries gold, so gold tries men." - Chilo of Sparta (Chilon)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’m hoping that by sharing my experience, I can provide information that can help others in similar situations. When uninformed people think of a “survivalist”, I am most definitely not what comes to mind. I’m a twenty-four year old female, who wears makeup, has several pairs of comfortable (thrift store) designer jeans and a Creative Writing education from Johns Hopkins University. I have four cats, and live in a tiny inexpensive apartment in North Carolina. However, little do they know, my education hasn’t simply been gained from traditional schooling.

About two years ago, I found that it was getting much more difficult to pay the bills. The financial situation was steadily declining, and my tip-based income was definitely suffering. I moved to North Carolina in hopes of grasping the last threads of an economy that was doomed for difficulty. I began working as a freelance writer, writing on topics from everything from “How to Build a Windmill” to medical articles on diabetes.

However, this still didn’t seem to cover all of the bills. I hired on as a waitress, but found a lack of customers in a struggling economy. I had several credit cards from my financially irresponsible youth, which were all deferred to huge payments. I took out a loan to stop the bill collectors from calling, then defaulted on the payments in favor of paying rent. I sold my jewelry, DVDs, electronics and other items just to stay afloat. I reluctantly cashed in my stash of silver and vintage coins, which I had been dutifully saving since I was a little girl.

However, my story isn’t simply full of hardship and sacrifice. My experience being consistently broke has taught me innumerable lessons that I may not have learned otherwise. When I couldn’t afford to buy dish soap, I made my own with baking soda and borax. I mended my own clothes with needle and thread, my clumsy stitches gradually becoming less lumpy. I made chicken soup from boiling discarded chicken bones. I grew bread starter out of flour and warm water to make sourdough bread. I sprouted alfalfa and broccoli seeds in my kitchen, in a small sprouting kit I received as a Christmas present. I made my first-ever batch of applesauce from scratch, and started a small “peasant garden” in recycled plastic containers by my windows. I traded yard work for fresh chicken eggs from a neighbor, also gaining friendly smiles and a surprising amount of respect.

There are a few important items that have survived with me in my southern ‘adventure’. I have a Ruger .22 rifle with a zoom scope, and a banana magazine that holds 17 cartridges. I know it may not be enough if I needed to protect myself, but my optimism tells me "It’s something, at least!" I also have a small “Get out of Dodge” duffel bag stashed in my linen closet. It has a small camp stove, Datrex emergency food bars, a water filter, a small medical kit and a 2-person tent. I’m hoping to save up enough to renew my “Wilderness First Aid” certification from the Red Cross in a few weeks. At some point, I want to get some real training with a rifle, and begin saving up enough to increase my very small stash of ammo. I also hope to purchase a long-term supply of storage food, as well as additional supplies for my “Bug-out-Bag”.

I’ve been a long-term reader of SurvivalBlog, reading articles about elaborate water filtration systems, independent power storage, purchasing gold/silver, constructing nuclear bunkers, etc. However, there’s also information for people like me, which I truly do appreciate. I am determined to survive, even if my income remains sub-poverty level. I will continue to learn from my experiences, without relying on government handouts or welfare payments. I will become educated in resilience, continuing to slowly build my set of skills and supplies until I am confident that I could survive a TEOTWAWKI situation.
I know that for this writing contest, I am supposed to focus on practical skills that can be of use to others. I also know that many SurvivalBlog readers are wonderful people with incredibly useful talents, and knowledge that far surpasses my own. However, for people in situations similar to mine, who are scraping by each month, I’d like to offer some information that I hope will be helpful.

Making Bread Starter

This is actually incredibly easy, though it takes about a week for your bread starter to “mature”. Find a container (preferably glass), I find that a wide-mouth canning jar seems to work pretty well. You can also use glass jars from mayonnaise, honey, jam or other grocery items – Just be sure you wash them thoroughly! The cost of the finished bread loaf recipe is around $1 - $1.50, depending on the flour, salt, sugar (or honey) and oil you use.

Now, the starter recipe – 1 cup of warm water, 1 cup (preferably wheat) flour. That’s it! Blend the mixture thoroughly, cover loosely (air needs to be able to get in/out) and place in a warm area – around 70-80 degrees (temperatures of 100+ degrees will kill your starter). I put my starter on top of the fridge, since that’s where the warm-air vent is. Don’t forget to feed your starter. Feeding your starter simply involves pouring out half of your starter mixture, and adding ½ cup of flour, and ½ cup of warm water. You need to do this every 24 hours.

Your starter is done when it has a bubbly froth on top. It also should have a beer-ish aroma. This usually happens after about 4-7 days, depending on how warm you kept your mixture. After your starter is done, you’re ready to turn it into bread. Here’s the recipe I follow. I like to add dried rosemary and a bit of honey to this recipe, I think it goes nicely with the sourdough-ish taste.

Cheap Dish/Laundry Soap

I’ve found that Borax is an extremely versatile an inexpensive washing aid. You can use this recipe to make regular dish soap, automatic dishwasher soap, or even laundry detergent. The cost of this recipe is less than $1.

  • 1 Cup Borax (available at most grocery stores)
  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Gallon Water (for Laundry Soap)
  • 2 Cups Water (for Reg. Dish Soap)
  • You can also mix in some bar-soap shavings, if you want to give your recipe a small boost. I find that just the soda+borax+salt mixture works in automatic dishwashers, with vinegar added to help reduce spotting. I’d recommend storing this mixture in a glass jar, only adding water when you use it for dishes/laundry/etc.

Chicken-Bone Soup

You’d be surprised at how many people throw out their chicken bones, without realizing how useful they can be in making delicious soup stock. The cost of chicken-bone soup is virtually $0.00 (since you are using waste-bits), except for the cost of any beans/vegetables/seasonings that you want to add.

After a chicken dinner, instead of throwing the bones in the trash, put them in a sizable metal pot that has a lid. Fill the pot completely with water, since much of the water will evaporate during the boiling process. You can add a small amount of salt and other seasonings if you like. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You should cook until the remaining meat falls off the bones (usually about 5-6 hours). Be sure to keep an eye on the water level, as it can evaporate quickly if you don’t have a lid.

Strain the broth with a pasta strainer or through cheesecloth. There may be a significant amount of chicken fat on the top of the broth, you can either skim it off or leave it on - it’s a matter of preference. I don’t like oily soup, so I usually skim it off.

Add salt, herbs, spices, onions, carrots, potatoes and beans if you’d like. I usually use green lentils, since they are cheap ($15 for 10 lbs), and have around 18g of protein, 13g of fiber per cup. They also don’t have a “soak time”, so will soften up quickly when boiled.


Though starting a garden is a great way to get fresh vegetables, waiting in between harvest times can leave you without any fresh vegetables. To avoid purchasing any from the store, I like to start a few batches of alfalfa sprouts, several days apart. Alfalfa sprouts are quick-growing, and fairly nutritious. Also, sprouting is so easy! The cost of alfalfa seeds is usually around $6-7 for a 1lb bag. A whole pound of seeds lasts me for quite a while! Here’s a simple guide to starting sprouts. You will need:

  • Alfalfa Seeds
  • 1 Glass Mason Jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • A Rubber Band (or Twine)

Place around 2-3 Tablespoons of alfalfa seeds into the mason jar. Then, fill the jar with lukewarm (not hot!) water, and let the seeds soak. I find it’s best if they soak for around 4-6 hours. Cover the top of the jar with the cheesecloth and rubber band. Strain the soak water out, then shake the seeds so that they stick to the sides of the jar. Place the jar in a sunny area, and watch your sprouts grow! They should be ready to eat in about three days. It’s best to water them (fill the jar with water and strain it out) around twice per day.

I’d just like to mention that the “soak water” from alfalfa seeds is also full of nutrients. I sometimes make iced tea out of it, which is a great energizer on a hot day. You don’t necessarily have to use your soak water, but since I suppose I have a “poverty mentality”, I like to use every bit of everything!

Mr. Rawles:
I’ve seen a few posts mentioning Population Density maps, but what I’ve seen so far doesn’t let you really drill into a particular geographic region.

Webfoot has population density maps (among other demographics) based on the 2000 census, and using Google Maps.

With webfoot you can drill down to a city level and get a good granular picture of an area, instead of inferring density from a static, US-wide map. It can be a little slow to load, but the wait is worth it.

So if you’re like me, and trapped in the Northeast, you can use this map to find pockets of sparse population away from the Golden Hordes’ lines of drift…

Another great map from this site is from the 2008 election. There are various interesting overlays, such as the location of all Wal-Marts, should you wish to steer clear of those.

There is also an expert mode which allows you to get even more granular data about a particular region. You can slice-and-dice the data in several ways.

The data in these maps gives you a great, albeit disturbing, view into American demographics. Sadly, this site is best viewed in Internet Explorer – I had problems with navigation using other browsers.

Hope it helps. - "Equality"

T.B. mentioned that a map of natural hazard mortality in the United States has been produced. The map gives a county-level representation of the likelihood of dying as the result of natural events such as floods, earthquakes or extreme weather.

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The Deflation flags are still flying: Wal-Mart Bets on Reduction in Prices. (A hat tip to Chad S. for the link.)

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Reader Brian B. sent this from The Daily Iowan: Gun Law Stirs Controversy

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Sometimes, the small trend indicators can have great significance: U-Haul tracking data suggests more families migrating to Kentucky,
Vermont than other states
. (A hat tip to GG for the link.)

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Shortage of Rare Earth Minerals May Cripple U.S. High-Tech, Scientists Warn Congress. (Our thanks to Eric S. for the link.)

"The art of taxation consists of so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing." - J.B. Colbert, French Statesman, circa 1665

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I've heard a lot of suggestions about bartering.  Some of them are good ideas, while others might be dangerous.  Bartering is just trading, either goods for goods, goods for services, or services for services.

First of all, we need to ask why we are bartering at all.  If we need to barter, it is probably because we need (or just want) something we don't have, and someone else needs or wants something that we have.  If something isn't exchanged by both parties, then it's essentially a begging or charity situation.

It is best to put yourself in a position where you don't need to barter at all.  Have everything you need.  If you don't have enough food, water, shelter, weapons, medical supplies, communications equipment, gardening supplies, energy, transportation, books, tools, or skills, then you need to get those first!  Try to prepare yourself to the point that you have enough for charity.

None of us can be totally prepared as an individual.  Very few of us can be totally prepared as a family.  Even few multi-family groups will have everything they will ever need.  This is why you will need to prepare for bartering.

Ideally you want to be prepared enough that you don't need to barter for tangible items (food, weapons, etc.).  It is very difficult, however, to have all the skills you might need.  Some of the skills you may have to barter for might include medical, veterinarian, electrical, mechanical, machinist, or heavy labor.  Those first skills I mention can take years of training and practice to become proficient.  The need for those skills are probably obvious.  The last one, heavy labor, might not be considered a “skill”, but clearly it isn't something you can store up for years.  Labor help might certainly be needed by the weak or elderly, but even a strong young family might need help with a bigger project (large crops, digging an irrigation system, constructing a building, cutting wood, etc.).

Now that you know why you might need to barter, the question becomes what do you use for barter?  A skill is a very valuable thing to have.  As I have said, for most people, skills are hard to store for a rainy day.  And if you are the one with a valuable skill, it takes no room for you to store it.  And, when you give your skill to someone, you still have it when you leave.  Most of us, however, will be trading something tangible for a skill or for something tangible.  Think of tangibles you can get now, that might be valuable during TEOTWAWKI, that store well, cost little, and can be hard to make.

I strongly suggest that the primary item you store for bartering is food.  Look at almost any big disaster, or the lives of people in Third World countries.  Food is generally the most sought after item.  Use your head when you barter with food.  Don't do anything to give the impression that you have lots of it.  You may want to act like it is your very last meal and you're only trading it away out of desperation.  You don't want someone coming by later and taking the rest of your food by force.

Other items I would suggest are lighters, matches, toilet paper, feminine protection,  duct tape, razors,  soap, lithium batteries, aluminum foil, coffee, small bottles of drinking alcohol, and cigarettes.  Those last items may be very desirable to those with addictions, even if you don't use them yourself.  Fuel might also be used for barter, but its bulk, hazards, and shorter shelf life might make it hard to store enough to spare any for barter.

Generally, you should probably not barter your own firearms and ammunition for other goods.  First of all, if you're trading your firearms away, it must mean you didn't store enough of something else.  Extra guns and ammo can be expensive.  Use some of that money to get more food and other supplies so you are less likely to need to barter in the first place.  And, the price of a gun can buy an awful lot of the other bartering items I mentioned.  My second thought would be concern that the gun or ammo would be used against you or your family.  If you're willing to trade a gun to someone, it should be someone you would trust with your gun at any time.  I might barter a gun in exchange for a service, or barter to someone who already has a gun.  If you trade it to the wrong person, you might truly be at the losing end of the deal.

Don't get me wrong.  You need plenty of guns and ammo for yourself, your family, and maybe some spares.  My plans, generally, don't include using them for barter.  You definitely don't want to be in a position of having to barter to get a gun.

If you notice, I haven't mentioned water as a bartering item.  That's because I think you should not barter with water.  First of all, you should have planned well enough that you will not have to go to someone else for your water.  And, if you have water to barter with, then you can afford to give it away to someone in need.  I think nobody should be deprived of water if it's available.  If you have the only water hole in 50 square miles, then share!  It's just the right thing to do.  Water is more replaceable.  It can fall from the sky, food generally doesn't.

After you get your bartering supplies in order (remember, get your personal supplies in order first), then you should make a list showing what items you are willing to barter away, and how many of those items you're willing to get rid of.  At the end of the list, you should make some notes telling why you decided what items are to be bartered and why.  If you're not around to make the bartering decisions, the list can be a great benefit to whomever is bartering.

Some great tips on how to actually barter can be found in Jim's book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It".  Check it out. [JWR Adds: I also wrote some advice on bartering strategies, and that 2008 article is available in SurvivalBlog's free archives.]

So, plan ahead.  Be smart about who you barter with.  Store enough supplies for yourself, for charity, and for safe bartering.

This tiny knife is a very durable piece of hardware.

Construction is of steel, with a hard phosphate or oxide finish. The pivot is adjustable with a spanner wrench, very smooth and has slick bushings. The lock is of the rotating handle design, with strong pins to hold the blade rigid when open. The handles swing easily open or closed, and remain in place in the hand without slipping.

The finish survived being dropped on a tile floor unmarked. The handle did open a fraction—the detent is fairly light.

As can be seen from the photos of the knife, it’s very small open and closed, with a blade about an inch long. This model has one side serrated and one plain, in AUS8 steel. The serrations are surprisingly fine with good geometry to cut rather than drag.

The serrated side was able to saw through an electrical cord in few strokes, with no damage to the teeth. The plain edge cut a 3/8” bevel all the way around a firewood log and still shaved hair. I jabbed the point in and bent until it popped a small divot of wood out, without damaging the tip at all. This was a fairly brief test, but the knife still looks brand new after it.

The design is similar to the OSS Thumb Dagger, and that is the best and most comfortable grip to use to hold it (See photos). It excels at chores such as opening packages and cutting cord, and easily stabs containers open. A variety of tests were conducted and it was still new looking and sturdy, and still shaving sharp. No tests were conducted on metal containers yet.

The knife also has a lanyard/key ring, and when folded is about the size of most common keys and keychain tools, so is very discreet for carry.

For those who prefer other blade designs, the company offers a flat chisel and hooked cutter “CopTool” for seatbelts and such, the “WrightKnife” that is single edged with a contour for the thumb, the “RhinoKnife” with a caping blade with gut hook, the “TalonKnife” with what appear to be line and cord cutters built in, and the “Kirkidashi Knife” that is a miniature damascus tanto. Chinese manufacture is quite standard in the blade industry anymore, but all are designed by well-known American bladesmiths, built under American license. The workmanship seems quite sound.

These would make great small knives for pocket carry, or as emergency tools for the vehicle. They’re small enough to carry in shorts or even a swimsuit pocket, or to keep in a vehicle console with a lanyard for easy access.

Most models retail at $34.95 and will undoubtedly be less expensive through most retailers.

GG sent this: Pray For Inflation -- It's Our Only Hope. [JWR's Comment: Well, its the government's only hope. For the Citizenry, mass inflation will be wealth destruction. As I've noted before, inflation is essentially a hidden from of taxation.]

Reader CZD sent this item: The Dow at 11,000 is Misleading. (CZD warns that he expects there will be multiple dips. I concur. This "recession" is far from over. I stand by my assertion, that we are actually in the early stages of of depression.)

Items from The Economatrix:

The Dow's Up But Trades are Scarce, Worrying Bulls

Jim Sinclair: Bank Prohibits Bullion and Cash in Safety Deposit Boxes

PIMCO's Bill Gross Frantically Dumping Treasuries, Thinks US Interest Rates Will Soar

Gas Prices are Up, But is That a Good Thing?

SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson keyed in on this article: BOB, America’s Biggest Sodium Sulfur Battery, Powers a Texas Town

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Titus suggested this population density map as a good starting point for looking for retreat locales.

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H.A.H. suggested this WorldNetDaily article: County to feds: They're our roads! Supervisors vote to reopen routes hit by BLM closure

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Randy F. liked this piece, by my hero Walter E. Williams: Parting Company.

"Even as a youngster, though, I could not bring myself to believe that if knowledge presented danger, the solution was ignorance. To me, it always seemed that the solution had to be wisdom. You did not refuse to look at danger, rather you learned how to handle it safely." - Isaac Asimov,"The Caves of Steel", p. viii

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I just heard from my editor at the Plume Division of Penguin Books that another publisher has purchased the rights to produce a Bulgarian language edition of my non-fiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". As Alice said: "It just gets curiouser and curiouser. "


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When I think on the “Bug out Bag” I am not thinking of a basic survival kit. The survival kit is designed to be small, portable, and with you whenever you venture out into the woods. The bug out bag is a larger version of the same but designed for a totally different scenario. When you know you are going to be on your own for an undetermined amount of time.
First off it will be larger than a survival kit; usually a small backpack or duffle will suffice to carry all you will need for an extended stay away from civilization. It will also need to carry the basics in shelter, first aid, clothing, food and cooking, as well as means to procure food from natural resources. With this in mind, let’s list the things necessary to any kit and then you can tailor it to your specific needs.
Shelter:  One can do well with a tarp and some imagination. I would recommend one about 10’x 8’ as a minimum. There are also small camping tents that are very roomy and light weight that added with a tarp would make a very comfortable camp. Don’t forget a bedroll or a couple heavy wool blankets.
First Aid: In any situation one must be capable of dealing with physical injuries from minor cuts and scrapes to sprains and broken bones. A good commercial first aid kit will cover most of these as well as contain a booklet on how to treat these conditions I consider this as an essential.
Also don’t forget a supply of medications you are taking, as well as a supply of throat lozenges, pain relievers (advil or tylenol), and yes, a small bottle of whiskey or other strong spirits can come in very handy as both an anesthetic and antiseptic.
Clothing: Depending on where you live and where you plan to go the proper clothes are essential. I would recommend a set of clothes that can be layered and rely on natural fibers like wool to help retain heat in cold and cool in hot weather. ‘Nuff said.
Food and water:  First, you can’t carry enough. I would stock up on MREs . Being light weight and easy to fix carrying enough to last a week or two should not take up too much room in your pack. Water is heavy, but necessary carry as much as you can and also carry a water purification system be it tablets or a filtration system. For cooking a small Boy Scout cook kit is great it contains a pot, plate, cup, and a fry pan that nests together and takes up very little space. Also don’t forget the basics like dry flour, sugar, tea bags, salt, pepper, hot sauce, dry beans, corn meal, oil, et cetera.
And lastly we come to the means of obtaining food in the wild.
The first thing that comes to mind to me is a small telescopic spinning rod and reel with a small box filled with a few lures, hooks and sinkers. You should be able to find bait and be able to fish the local streams and rivers in your area. The next thing I would have is a book showing the edible plants growing in your area.  And lastly, choosing a firearm.  This has been covered by so many different writers that it would be an individual’s choice of the best to bring. I will stick my neck out and say that my Ruger 1022 .22 rifle, NEF .410 shotgun, and my Ruger .357 magnum Blackhawk, or a smoothbore flintlock musket and a .44 cap and ball revolver would fill most of my foraging and protection needs.
Along with a couple flashlights, matches, lighters, extra cordage, your basic survival kit and a healthy dose of common sense you should do well wherever you happen to take off for.
There is nothing wrong with being prepared.  For it is better to have something and not need it than to need and not have it.

It is noteworthy that the Federal Debt chart has again turned sharply upward, to nearly an upright spike, rising to 90%+ of GDP. This level of Federal indebtedness had only one precedent: the massive spending that was needed to finance World War II. The current massive over-spending on the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) can't go on indefinitely. At some point, the piper must be paid. In the long term, gross overspending will have some major implications for U.S. Treasury paper, and inevitably for the U.S. Dollar as a currency unit.

I should mention that in 1945 (the peak of the last indebtedness spike), the U.S. dollar was still a net lender nation and our currency was still redeemable--by the citizenry in real silver coinage, and by foreign governments in gold. But since 1985, we have been a net debtor nation, and since 1971, the "dollars" in circulation have been backed only by the hot air that emanates from the District of Criminals. My advice is that henceforth that you don't believe in any of the following:

  • Empty political promises of "Change",
  • Hopes of "winning big" in the lottery,
  • Debased and irredeemable currencies,
  • "The check is in the mail"
  • The long term prospects for governments with bankrupt treasuries,
  • Unfunded pension plans, or
  • The Tooth Fairy

In many ways the United States is in worse shape than Greece or Iceland--the so-called "basket cases" of Europe. This is because our long-term unfunded obligations (most notably Federal pensions, Social Security, interest on the national debt, and now socialized medicine) are proportionately much larger than theirs. These obligations can be measured somewhere north of $65 Trillion. There is no way, whatsoever, that these obligations can ever be fully met, given the demographics of our aging population. As my maternal great-grandfather was fond of saying in his intentionally fractured Spanish: "No ay ningun posibilidad!" ("There ain't no way!") Even if personal incomes were taxed at a rate of 100% in the year 2050, it wouldn't cover these obligations. So there are only two ways out for Schumer and Company: Either the programs will have to be drastically reduced, or the payments will be made in greatly inflated dollars. I suspect the latter will be more politically expedient.

In the long run, despite the purported "good intentions" of those controlling monetary and fiscal policies, the U.S. dollar is simply doomed. Therefore, I sincerely hope that you, dear readers, are hedging into tangibles! What is in our future? In a word: Inflation.In fact, there is already evidence of inflation getting underway. Perhaps in a few years, we may see sights like this -- a sign posted at a public restroom on the Zimbabwe/South Africa border.

I've said it before, but I must repeat it. To protect your savings from the ravages of inflation, you'll need tangibles, tangibles, tangibles! - J.W.R.

James Wesley:
I've been researching family history in Ireland during the 1845 famine and found this interesting online book that describes the food riots, workhouses, rampant death and illness, and other aspects of life during an intense social upheaval. It may be enlightening:

The Famine in Dungarvan: The Poor Law, Famine and Aftermath in Dungarvan Union

Thanks, - Chris M.

In the article, "Sustainable Rural Cabins", under the headline, "Designing the Outer Periphery", the author wrote, "Evergreen windbreaks should be planted to block winter winds".

That works fine if the evergreens, (or other trees), you plant and the way you group them is consistent with the way the same trees occur naturally in the area. For example, if white pines grow naturally in the woods around where you are establishing your homestead, then you can plant more white pines and they won't be noticed. But if you plant, for example, blue spruce where none normally occur, you can see them from a distance, and any observant woodsman will know that humans are there. Camouflage includes becoming unnoticed. If you plant not appropriate species of trees or bushes in an area, you might as well put up a billboard that shouts, "Here I Am!. If you are trying to conceal your whereabouts, remember to observe nature, work with nature, be consistent with nature. - Jim Fry, Curator, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment

Reader Lee C. sent this: In California, Louder Calls to Prepare for Quakes

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Reader RBS mentioned a 2008 news story that was recently highlighted in The Survival Spot Blog. This illustrates how even fairly large communities can "disappear", with terrain masking and some rudimentary camouflage: Lost middle-class tribe's 'secret' eco-village in Wales spotted in aerial photograph taken by plane.

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The WRSA says: 19 April 2010: Bring Your Sidearms and Longarms To The Banks of the Potomac

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From Brian B.: Cap and Trade: A License Required for Your Home.

"Even when you make a tax form out on the level, you don't know when it's through if you are a crook or a martyr." - Will Rogers

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I just heard that Jerry Pournelle's next Chaos Manor Reviews column includes a brief review of my latest non-fiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". Most SurvivalBlog readers will of course recognize Jerry Pournelle as a co-author of the now-classic survivalist novel Lucifer's Hammer, a columnist for Survive magazine, and a key contributor to Mel Tappan's P.S. Letter. So I daresay that Pournelle's review means more to me than all of the other extant book reviews, combined!


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I came up with the idea for this treatise several weeks ago, but never made it to the point of putting it into print until the recent article on the Saiga family of weapons urged me to move forward.  As most readers of the Blog and all owners of "Boston's Gun Bible" know, the Main Battle Rifle (MBR) is the ideal foundation for the citizen’s defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Boston’s does a great job of enumerating the pros and cons of the various rifles, and based on his evaluations, my associates and I chose to go the M1A route.  Recently, though, we’ve changed the group standard, and I’d like to share why with the blog readers.

We’ve recently switched the group standard to the HK family of roller locked rifles and clones thereof.  Specifically, the reason that made this switch possible is the PTR91 family of rifles.  Original HK91s are priced beyond their utility value due to rarity, and previously, building a rifle from a parts kit was hampered by the lack of quality, in-spec receivers for the builds.  PTR’s receivers are truly in-spec, and form the basis for a great platform, to the point that almost all other current builders are using their receivers for their products.  Rifles now are down around the $1,100 price point, with some caveats, which is very reasonable for a high quality MBR.  I would like to explain some of the “goods” which swayed our thinking, as well as some of the “others” that made it hard to seal the deal for us, and the mitigation factors that we’ve arrived at.  In no particular order, here they are:

Cost.  The going rate on a decent M1A or FAL clone these days has been headed north.  The basic PTR rifle, the PTR91F, or an equivalent build from a parts kit based on a PTR receiver, will run a little over $1,000 from CDNN and other vendors.  Apart from the 7 US parts required for 922(r) compliance, most of the internals will be either original HK G3 parts, or contract parts made of German steel on German machinery in Pakistan or by FMP, which are available inexpensively, thus the low cost for a fine rifle.  A new member to the group can swing this easier than the $1,400 to $1,900 for the various Springfield Armory M1A variants.  The savings only gets better when we get to accessories and spares.

Due to the switches by many of the countries that employed the G3 to 5.56  military weapons, there are currently large amounts of spares and accessories available very inexpensively.  The biggest bargain of these is full capacity magazines.  Used, HK German manufactured, 20 round aluminum magazines for the G3 family of weapons can be had for as little as 97 cents each in perfectly functional condition.  Depending on the vendor you may find as many as 5 or 10 out of 100 that have dents or are otherwise suspect, but these can then be used as spare followers, springs, and floorplates.  Most of my batches of used surplus had no bad magazines at all.  In many of the batches that I’ve ordered, I’ve received up to 10 or 15% new, in VCI wrap magazines.  If you want to eliminate the chance, $6-8 will get you new magazines.  Steel magazines are available for about $3 each, although most of these are in rougher, but functional shape.  Spare parts and accessories are available from RTG Parts, HKParts.net, and HKSpecialist.  RTG has both original HK and POF (Pakistani Ordnance Factory--not to be confused with POF-USA) G3 parts, so you can find spares there much more cheaply, in general, but both of the other sites have high quality and original HK parts, and sometimes better prices.  Service from both HKParts and HKSpecialist is lightning fast, and all three companies are great to deal with.  In any case, if you shop wisely, a complete doomsday spares kit with everything from spare rollers, locking pieces, ejectors, extractors, sears, hammers, springs, pins, recoil rods, buffers, sights, stock sets, trigger packs, lowers, cocking handles, etc, can be had for a very reasonable price.  If you live on the southern border of the US, or anywhere near it, you probably already know that the Mexican army still uses G3s, so there is also a potential future source of spares and compatibility there.

Reliability.  There is an item of contention here with the barrel flute specifications and ammunition sensitivities, which we’ll cover in “others”, but for basic design, it is definitely a “good”.  The HK roller locking delayed blowback action is beautiful in its simplicity.  It doesn’t rely on any sort of gas system at all, so there’s nothing in that vein to fail.  The system is extremely dirt tolerant, and proper flutes are somewhat self cleaning.  Even if you dip a round in thick mud and toss it in the chamber, (not recommended, however) the firing of that round will tend to clean out the chamber.  Since it is recoil impulse and not gas expansion that powers the action, powder burn rate is not an issue as it is with the M1A.  There aren’t a whole lot of things that break with this rifle.  Out of all my spare parts, I’ve never used any of them, although someday, I’m sure I’ll lose or bend an extractor spring during detail cleaning.  The current Thompson Center-made PTR barrels are of conventional construction, very accurate, and will probably last 8,000 rounds or so as with any conventional 7.62 barrel, but several sources of surplus and US made hammer forged barrels are available, which may easily double that number.  Rim Country Manufacturing (www.rimcountrymfg.com) makes a phenomenal selection of hammer forged barrels with correct flutes and us-made compliance parts for the entire roller locked series of weapons.  In general, the quality of the PTR rifles is very, very good, and the welds compare favorably with the original HK91 I had as a frame of reference.

Sights.  The HK battle sights are not generally hailed as the best out there, a distinction generally reserved for the M1A sight.  The M1A sight is indeed a piece of artistry, and I was a huge fan until I saw real combat.  Although the M1A sight is still a great piece of kit, I learned from practical application that target identification is the limiting factor in many armed engagements.  I have never fired upon anyone that presented a full “B” silhouette to me.  People tend to hide behind stuff when you shoot at them, or when they expect you to shoot at them, and after about 400 yards, you’re a better man than me if you can pick out a head and shoulder sticking out from behind a rock with an AK with enough fidelity to precisely engage with iron sights.  Optics and the single focal plane that they bring to the fight are a huge force multiplier when you get out there in range.  At 400 and in, the HK sights are very good.  The 100m “notch” is very fast for close range engagements and low light.  The apertures create an odd magnification effect that makes it easier for me to form a clear sight picture.  Although they are only graduated to 400m, it’s easy to get hits at 500 by holding at the top of the head of your intended target.

Modularity Across the Family. 
The entire line of HK roller locked weapons is now available in clone form from one maker or another.  Many of the parts work across the spectrum of rifles.  Century, although having a bad history with roller locked builds, is now producing 93 (roller locked 5.56) clones that are generally very good, and they are priced at under $600.  Pick one that you can measure the bolt gap on, and you’re ahead of the game in picking a winner.  Vector makes very good 93 clones for under $1,000, and you can get parts kits for a build for under $400 from the flood of Malaysian surplus on the market.  Although 93 magazines are pricey, Special Weapons/Coharie makes guns and receivers that take AR magazines, and several good HK smiths can modify any of the guns to take AR-15 mags.  Coharie is selling out all their remaining 9mm clones, so an HK94 or MP5 clone can be had for around $1,000. MKE is also importing Turkish contract 9mm clones which are getting great reviews, as well.   9mm isn’t much of a long range round, but for training youngsters with little recoil on a weapon system that will translate well to the full size rifle while still possessing more “oomph” than a .22LR trainer, the MP5 family is valuable.  Korean contract MP5 mags that work very well are available for $15 each from HK specialist.  The nice thing about all of these weapons is that with the exception of the ejectors, which are caliber specific, and a reduced power hammer spring for the 9mms, the lower receivers are interchangeable.  All fire control parts swap freely back and forth, with very few exceptions.  PTR is now also making the PTR-32, which accepts AK mags and fires the 7.62x39 round if you want to have a capability to fire the Russian round and still interchange with your main battery.  In addition to the differing calibers in the family, each is available in a variety of configurations.  Without getting into the 51 series and its 9-inch .308 barrel, you can get everything from a 12.7” G3k copy (requires a custom rebarreling) to a 16 inch carbine, to the full 18” rifle, on up to the MSG clone with a fluted barrel, Magpul adjustable stock, and welded-on Picatinny rail for optics. [JWR Adds: In the U.S., rifles with barrel length s under 16" require a $200 Federal tax stamp as "short barreled rifles (SBRs.)

Optics.  The original HK claw mounts are still available, and work well on the PTR series with either STANAG rings or with a Picatinny rail adapter, and you can pick up an original Hensoldt scope with mount for under $400.  MFI also makes a great low-profile mount that has been newly improved with steel claws.  It is a Picatinny-compatible rail that is low enough for iron sight usage with it attached, so there is no need to ever remove it.  They are available from hkparts.net and other vendors for around $125.  PTRs also now come with an aluminum forend onto which picatinny rails are sold to easily screw on.  I’m not a big fan of hanging stuff off of a battle rifle, but a rail section on the bottom allows easy compatibility with standard bipods, and a vertical foregrip on the short models allows you to torque them down for faster follow up shots in close.

Information.  Everything you ever wanted to know about the roller locked series of HK-designed weapons and all their clones can be found on www.hkpro.com.  It’s a forum with a lot of knowledgeable folks who are more than willing to help, and the search function will answer most of your questions anyway.

And now, the “others”...

Manual of Arms.  I put this in “others” because it is different than many other rifles.  The forward cocking handle and “HK slap” take a bit of getting used to, and the lack of a last-round bolt hold-open is seen as a handicap by some.  I don’t think it’s a big factor.  I tend to do tac reloads, anyway, so the gun never runs dry, and in high stress situations, most folks try to pull the trigger anyway when the bolt is locked back on rifles so equipped.  The forward location of the cocking handle allows for the non-firing hand to sweep the handle back on it’s way to the mag well, remove and replace the mag, then slap the cocking handle on its way back out to the forend, making for a relatively fast reload.  The ergonomics are difficult for those with small hands, although this is less of a factor if a paddle mag release is added, as was on the original G3.  With training, my mag changes are about the same with the HK series as with an M1A.  I’m still faster with an AR, but I don’t intend to be getting close enough for it to matter after TEOTWAWKI.

Trigger.  Most HK roller locked weapons have abominable triggers.  There isn’t much reason for this, though. The principles at work in the trigger pack are very similar to the M14 or Garand trigger.  Bill Springfield (www.triggerwork.net) will do a phenomenal job on the trigger for around $45 on any HK-type trigger pack.  I’ve been a gunsmith for many years, but with no experience with the weapon system, in about 2 hours, I had my first trigger pack down to 5.5 pounds and relatively crisp, and now I’m down to about an hour to get 4.5-6 depending on what I’m going for.  The point is, it’s not that hard to fix the trigger pull.  (Please use the services of a qualified gunsmith and insist that he leave “positive engagement” (this is a battle rifle, after all, not a dedicated match rifle)) The extra durability is worth the cost to achieve the minimal, smooth take-up.

Ammunition Sensitivity.  Here is the one area that may give someone fits.  PTR made their guns under the JLD name originally.  These guns have Axxxx serial numbers.  They used Wilson 10 flute barrels.  Later, when the employees bought the company out, they started using Thompson Center Arms 12 flute barrels, serial numbers were now AWxxxx.  Many of the early barrels will shoot any ammo you want, just like an HK, even though they have less than the 12 standard flutes.  Many of the AW series guns, however, will not shoot anything that is tar sealed, like South African, Radway Green, Winchester White Box, and ironically, DAG (original German ball meant for the G3).  They will however, shoot Federal American Eagle, UMC, Wolf steel cased, Port, etc.  The problem is that the flutes are not to original HK spec, but I’ve run through 200 round range sessions of Wolf, reloads, and federal without a single hiccup, and Wolf is"'dirty" [and hence known to cause rapid fouling.].  The failure mode is in failure to eject.  The shallow flutes fill up with tar, and the action doesn’t cycle.  There is also some disparity in the latter runs. My 18” 91F will not shoot SA well, but likes Radway, and my 16” KPF won’t shoot either very well. So, to fix this, either shoot one of the many ammunition types that these guns like, or re-barrel with an RCM or contract hammer forged barrel with correct flutes.  There are also a few folks who will re-cut the flutes in the stock barrel.  I am waiting on a G3K build with an RCM barrel that will be the I little pal to have slung while doing chores.  Small enough to be out of the way, but effective to 500 yards, and the RCM barrels will shoot anything, just like an original HK.  Even if you decide you must rebarrel off the bat, the cost of a rebarreled 91F will be about even with a new M1A, and the money you save on mags and spares will easily put you out ahead in short order.  Also, Wolf is cheap, and shoots around 2 MOA out of my rifles, which is good enough for any battle rifle.

Recoil.  Some claim that the recoil of the delayed blowback roller locked system is greater because of the lack of a gas system.  I don’t think it’s all that big of a deal, or even that noticeable.  It is a bit of a different recoil impulse and noise because of the large bolt carrier riding back and forth through that sheet metal receiver, but I don’t think there will be any measurable difference in realistic engagements.

All told, the HK roller locked family of weapons and clones, including the PTR91 and other builds, makes a fine choice for an MBR.  The ammunition sensitivities on PTR rifles are an issue for some, but read the ammunition warnings on the DPMS site, or the DSA FAL site for comparison, and it won’t seem so strange.  It’s a problem that can be easily solved by stacking the right ammo or shelling out for a rebarrel.  The other aspects of reliability, ease of maintenance, optic adaptability, modularity, price, and availability of inexpensive magazines and spares make it a first-rate choice for the family battery.

James Wesley:
Just a short note on the S-250 information. The original writer made an error in assuming all of these are shielded. There are several manufacturers of the S-250 and models differ in not just shielded or non-shielded, but also the level of shielding. NSA shelters (not generally available) have the highest level.

Here is a link to one of the manufacturers. My point is that a buyer should investigate the National Stock Number (NSN) of the unit they are interested in and contact the manufacturer to confirm that a specific level of EMP/EMI shielding is installed, if any.

Best regards as always, - Bob S.

Ben in Tenn. sent this item from Zero Hedge that shows that the MOAB is going global: IMF Bailout For Greece To Come At SDR Rate Plus 300 bps Plus 50 bps Service Charge, Greece Says "Thank You US Taxpayers". Here is a quote: "The IMF, realizing it had a catastrophe on its hands, has caved in and according to Reuters will provide US taxpayer money to Greece at vastly below market rates."

Reader "F1F" recommended this from The Washington Post: Debt Burden Weighs on Developed Nations

Items from The Economatrix:

Greece Debt Fears Hit Fever Pitch

Consumer Credit: OUCH!

The Latest Gold Fraud Bombshell: Canada's Only Bullion Bank Gold Vault is Practically Empty

New Depths to Plunge To (The Mogambo Guru)

Greek Banks Seek More Aid as Savers Withdraw 10 Billion Euro in Deposits

R.R.S. sent us this YouTube video link: Army Pro Shooting Tips: How to Speed Reload a Shotgun. Those AMU shooter techniques are fast, but note that they both looked down continuously, while reloading. (Watch it twice, and count how many seconds they take their eyes away from scanning for opponents.) I do not recommend that much loss of situational awareness! Instead, learn to both reload by Braille, and the "shoot one, load one" drill. These may be a bit slower, but I think that you'll live longer. The "by touch" reloading method is a practiced skill that will serve you well, especially when you are shooting at night. Practice, practice, practice! To practice reloading safely, dummy (snap cap) aluminum shells are available from Midway.

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Reader K.P.C. spotted this one: Ashtabula County: Judge tells residents to "Arm themselves" (following sheriff's department manpower cuts).

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Reader "Bookish" suggested: an article titled Manual for Civilization, over at The Long Now Blog.

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RBS recommend this post over at M.D. Creekmore's blog: What are the Best Eastern Retreat Locales? (The response letters are excellent.)

"In an urban society everything connects each persons needs are fed by the skills of many others our lives are woven together in a fabric, but the connections that make society strong also make it vulnerable." - Threads. A 1984 BBC television drama about the effects of a nuclear war on Sheffield, England.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mr. Rawles and SurvivalBlog Readers,
I am a newly dedicated reader and have had an interest in your contests since day one. I have a few skills I’ve learned in life (hunting, fishing, marksmanship, tracking and writing) but the newest one is macramé. This is the art of weaving knots to make beautiful and often decorative pieces and is just a craft some folks use to entertain themselves. I’ve combined both of these and applied one more purpose for the art: rope-making, belt-making and strap-making.

All three of these have occupied my time overseas for almost a year now. I’ve made straps that can tow a truck out of nylon material purchased from military surplus sites. (Specifications on military grade parachute cord, or “550 cord” can be found online through various suppliers). Clevises and simple weaves can be learned online and in books. The number of useful items I’ve made the past few months has only spiked my interest in this craft. Your site suggests olive drab parachute cord and ropes as two items that can be used to barter or for charity. What a better way to deal in these two items than to make them one.

Parachute cord can be found in many different colors, but for the purpose of this article, I use military grade 550 cord. It has a minimum bursting strength of 550 pounds. It’s weight makes it a no-brainer for survivalists, campers and many other outdoor uses. For every 260 feet, the cord weighs a mere one pound. That is a benefit all to itself.

The first items I made were simple bracelets. We call them Ranger bracelets, but I’ve seen them go by different names. They are sold online but can be made less expensively and much better, if you do it yourself. What I found in the end is you can have up to 12’ of usable cordage wrapped around your wrist all the time.

Next stop were watch bands. Decorative, interesting and yet simple to make. Again, more than 12 feet of cord to be used at a moment’s notice with this item. It’s simple enough that once you’ve learned you can pass the information on to members of your group or teach your children how to occupy their time in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation.

Other devices that I learned to make were belts and straps. These are time consuming, resource heavy and take patience to make. But, with time comes patience, so the resources are the only thing to worry about. What I thought would be an expensive hobby turned out to be an easy way to make money. Teach a few folks a new trade, or keep it a secret, it’s up to the individual. I’ve opted to only charge someone if they aren’t willing to learn.

Finally, tying ropes was the final idea for use in the long term. Will we have resources available during an TEOTWAWKI situation or will we have to scavenge or create them? My idea is to make them while things are available. Ropes will be extremely necessary for everyday uses in survivor camps, at home or when living alone. If you can make a rope, let’s say 12’ long with 12-strands of parachute cord as the “guts”, there is 144’ in those guts, and another 250’ of usable cordage mixed into the weaves. Take the cordage apart and you have more than 2,800’ of usable light twine because the insides of parachute cord contain 7-individual strands of nylon. Strong and lightweight, this item can be used for anything your imagination can dream up.

I’ve read on this site that survivor camps may only take someone if they will be an asset to everyone. If you’ve got a skill such as this, you might prove to be worth your weight in gold.

For example, you learn to make just one item on here: ropes. In your camp you will have men and women that are hunters, fishermen and gardeners. Hunters take their prey many different ways; they trap, shoot or live catch their prey. For hunters the cordage can be used as a deer drag; trappers can hand furs on the rope and live catch can be taken by making a noose or snare.

I hunt from a tree stand and have made a safety harness that can stop me if I were to fall from my stand. The force it takes to blow parachute cord apart is amazing. (Remember, nothing replaces a tested safety device and I used mine under my own understanding of these dangers). But, when the SHTF, there will be nobody around to test anything for you, so it’s up to your new-found skill to keep you safe.

Fishermen need rope to catch, carry and dry out their fish. As I mentioned earlier, the inside of the cord is filled with fishing line, line that can be used to hang the fish, one section can be used as a strand to float the fish until they are ready to be killed. I’ve heard of men using 100’ sections as bank lines along rivers and creeks. Endless possibilities.

Gardeners who plant beans need something for the plants to crawl up toward the sun on. They may need something to keep critters out so they erect a cordage fence. Certain trees must be tied up while they are young to keep them from being swept away by wind and rain. Again, there are endless uses in the gardening category as well.
The plant hangers mentioned earlier are an idea I thought of to put some of your straps to use while they aren’t “being used.” The color combinations can be made to blend into your homes paint scheme, then taken down when needed to string up something other than your begonias.

Just one rope, containing more than 400’ of cordage can help all three of these assets increase their productivity by leaps and bounds when synthetic materials run out. And another benefit, it can be worn around the waist like a belt, rolled into sections or just stretched out along a garage wall for future uses.

The one thing I’ve considered is running out of nylon parachute cord. What would happen if this occurs? Nothing. These ropes can be made using many natural materials available (grasses are the most common, but that’s outside my scope of knowledge). But one thing the nylon cord has is its strength and durability. That’s why I would recommend anyone willing to learn this, learn it now. Make as many ropes, bracelets, watch bands, dog collars, rifle slings, plant hangers, lanyards, leashes, belts, whatever you can think of. If you have a nice stockpile of these items, you can trade them, sell them, barter them for the things you will need later.
One last point I would like to make is the benefit it could have to teach your child/children this skill. I’ve had rocky times with my boys, but teaching them this trade has proven to be a great method to build a strong bond between a dad and his sons. The first time I showed my oldest he was thrilled. He would hover over more for hours at a time and watch as I wove the strands in and out. Then, he would try. His frustration would begin immediately, but as he learned it waned. I was amazed at how fast he learned. This little skill I have taught them has given them the patience to take on most anything new. I’ve tried to pass my other skills to them, but for one reason or another, they haven’t yet learned. They will, with time, learn to tag a deer, trap a raccoon or snare a rabbit, but this was something they picked up on immediately and we are using this as a stepping stone into these other skills.

I’ve used tens of thousands of feet of parachute cord over the last 12 months and an untold amount over the past 12 years of service. How foolish of me to not have seen the usefulness of this fine product long ago and taught more people to make their own ropes, belts and various straps with it.

There are resources available to learn this trade. The Internet, the library and there are still folks out there who’ve been doing macramé their entire lives. But find someone or somewhere to learn, it will pay off in time.

All these items are something that will have value to others in emergencies, catastrophes or disasters and usefulness is a benefit worth its own weight in gold. They will be used by me, my family and the many people I’ve taught or made these items for in the past and in the future. - J.L. from Kansas, currently in Egypt

Hello Mr. Rawles:

Back in February we ordered a batch of 100 vegetable seed packs from Vegetableseed.net. To date we've not received them and the company steadfastly refuse to respond to e-mails, either to their direct e-mail address or via their payment people, Digital River.

Now they may just be incredibly busy but we're beginning to think we've been scammed out of our £42.09.

We'd hate to see any other SurvivalBloggers getting stiffed Very best wishes to you all. - Michael

JWR Replies: Thanks for your warning. There are indeed a lot of fly-by-night mail order companies. But at least I can vouch for the companies that advertise on SurvivalBlog. They are reputable and can be trusted with your business. If you plan to do business with any other firms, check on their reputations first!

In response to "Suburban Survival, by The Suburban 10" posted on April 10th: I expect that the author will receive a lot of feedback on what he considers 'Security'. Based on his erroneous assumptions on the role and proper use of a firearm in a suburban TEOTWAWKI situation, I can conclude that he is among the anti-Second Amendment crowd. Living in New York under the Bloomberg/Schumer cloud has obviously affected him.

That being said, I shouldn't have been so surprised when he wrote:

"8. I have friends who are police officers and have never fired their weapon in the line of duty. Do you really want to shoot someone? I train my family for a chaotic attack. We have code words and all have set actions when the code word is mentioned. No matter how crazy things get remember that everything is negotiable. Have a planned system for dealing with a threat other then sending bullets all over the neighborhood. If you can offer an item or two to the desperate individual (who may truly need help) then do so. If they really look like trouble or if they are armed then at least have pepper spray ($11.99 per can here in New York). If you are going to shoot someone, then expect to be shot at as well."

a) Police officers in the line of duty are not being attacked for their food (or other goods) by hungry, desperate people, but you (Suburban 10) will be.
b) "Do you really want to shoot someone?" Well, if they are attacking my family or looting our means of survival in a desperate situation, that is a resounding yes.
c) Code words and "set actions" Huh? Will they function when Mr. Murphy, of Murphy's Law fame comes a-calling? Not likely. And be very careful with 'set actions' because when your plan starts to unravel, what then?
c) Everything is negotiable?! Are you kidding me? (Okay, deep breaths...) Many of those you should expect to face will have already shot you - and your family - before your first word is uttered.
d) Plenty (if not most of us) who read this blog have trained to do a whole lot better than to 'send bullets all over the neighborhood'. Besides, that would waste ammo.
e) If you can offer an item or two to the desperate individual and do so, you should expect to be attacked for the rest. Maybe not immediately but they will return - that's why charity through a Third Party is the way to go. And what if you cannot offer anything to these 'desperate individuals'? Do you think they will shrug their shoulders and walk away?
f) If they are armed, and you are planning to use pepper spray? Your plan is going to get your family raped, killed and eaten.
g) "If you are going to shoot someone, then expect to be shot at as well." -- I can understand the "Live by the sword, die by the sword" sentiment but I have news for you Suburban 10, playing nice with the desperate, hungry zombies is not going to keep them from shooting at you. You should be expecting to be shot at regardless.

"Protection - The Lord gave us our eyes, ears and intuition." -- Yes He did. But he also gave you the right, (no scratch that...) the obligation to defend yourself and your family by any means necessary. Our Second Amendment recognizes and affirms that God-given right. You owe your family a lot more than pepper spray and positive thinking.

Good luck Suburban 10, you're going to need it.

In response to Suburban 10 his ideas are good, except weapons for self defense (I've also trained in Aikido with a 3 foot wooden staff. I would imagine it would work great for dogs if you had that issue and it is better then nothing, but not by much) and at 8 feet with a shotgun his weapon is out of reach and his life and all his possessions will be someone else's in a matter of seconds. I would say that if you came at me with a stick and I had a shot gun it wouldn't be much of a fight.

He really needs to rethink that people will be dealt with by talking about compromise when they are cold, hungry and what-ever might happen happens. I am happy he shared his views, and only a psycho wants to shoot someone else or be shot- it's nothing anyone wants to do. but it would seem that criminal elements know a show of force and weakness being shown will end up being an easy mark for someone or a group of armed people intent on taking something for nothing.

I also taught New York City (NYC) youths at a Job Corps, and know most people are generally good, but the gang elements are everywhere and underestimating them is a major mistake for urban survival. (The good news is without city lights most of these guys are afraid of the woods at night and won't stray far from the main roads if things get bad.) No one should ever tell me I can't defend myself when my life is in danger- nothing is off limits in that case, and the only people who will tell you 'you should not use a gun for self defense' is someone political that probably has armed guards to protect themselves. I value and note the anti-gun opinion. It is valiant but naive. If you have ever had more then one attacker assault you, then you will totally understand where I am coming from. Personally it's not even from a place of fear, it's more about being realistic and having a chance standing against someone physically bigger and stronger or someone more advanced in martial arts. People can only wake up to the reality of what it means to be beaten and or be defenseless in a life or death situation.

On the same note taking to a friend, his brother who is an ex-convict for armed robbery discussed how in his mind he didn't need to prepare for anything. He stated that he would adapt as his neighbors had a nice 4WD that would be his when he took it from them, other people had food that they would part with when he would give them the choice of food or life (and even got the idea that after taking the 4WD he would rob the nearest gun shop by backing in to it and stealing anything and everything he could carry.) thinking that criminals aren't going to be armed after the world changes is not only delusional it is a dangerous underestimation of the worst in human elements at large. Do I think that he'd actually rob people and stores for survival in an TEOTWAWKI situation? I don't know but I can't discount how his mind works and his talk about it when we discuss preparing for the worst.

Suburban 10: Please get an inexpensive shotgun and learn about safety and how to use it--that is if you are legally allowed to have your Second Amendment in the suburbia of New York-- the worst of the worst out there are not going to stop and talk about things like 'sharing' with you when they think you have something they want. They will kill you and anyone that gets in their way to get what ever they feel entitled to. This was created by the culture the Federal government is still making today with programs of entitlements for anyone that doesn't want to work.

BTW, the reason the police haven't pulled their firearm out in the line of duty is because they have one [in plain view] on their body while dealing with bad people every day. (And most smart criminals don't want to be shot ever by someone that is armed- they will find easy pray every chance they get.) You never hear about unarmed police doing the job, even in England where they were not armed they carry guns for their protection now! Criminals don't want to risk getting hurt or killed when they can steal from a defenseless old lady or man next store. Don't make yourself an easy target for the thugs out there by not thinking that some form of arms shouldn't be in the house. I also know that if you have kids you might have concerns over their safety, that is a matter of parenting properly and controlling your arms and ammo, and controlling your children. Another friend of mine had in the past more than 20 guns and his 8 year old daughter has gone with him to the range shooting (safely) her Cricket .22. She listens to her mom and dad and they all understand gun safety--such as keeping ammo away from the guns and items secure so she's not able to make any mistakes. He loves his daughter and wants more then anything for her to be a survivor, and self sufficient in a world of people ingrained to be dependent on others. (Safes, locks and secure areas are only part of the safety- teaching your kids about gun safety and giving them knowledge means ensuring their survival on a lot of levels.) Some of my friends that defected from NYC left great paying jobs to escape the pressures of having their kids deal with drugs, gangs and crime.

I know a lot of NYC people who have defected from socialist controlled NYC for more freedom out in the eastern Pennsylvania area. Sadly some of them have brought their NYC anti-gun bias thinking and bad logic with them to an area where the gun culture is in full swing. Most people in this area know that if someone robs a homeowner they risk being shot and crime for the most part is way lower then in the cities here in the woods. - Fitzy in Pennsylvania

The teacher who wrote this letter seems to be serious enough about survival preparation, but he seems to eschew firearms or any weapon more effective than a walking stick or pepper spray. I believe he is overestimating the decency of mankind and his control over chaotic situations. There are some people you simply cannot negotiate with. They will take what you offer and then torture your family to death for the fun of it. The veil of civilization is thin and humans have a dark side. If law enforcement disappears and the fear of being punished disappears with it, a small percentage of people will behave very badly. The first group of looters he encounters are likely to have him for lunch. He sounds like exactly the kind of prey the predators will be looking for.

His preparations sound pretty good for a regional problem or any temporary service interruption. They should also prove handy in a depression or decline where the grid stays (mostly) up and law enforcement are on the job, but without a more comprehensive defensive plan, he is depending on law enforcement to keep the big bad wolf away. If he has done a risk assessment and really believes that there will never be a total meltdown, his preps are good enough.

But, just in case things turn ugly, I would encourage him to at least get hold of a shotgun and load it with bird shot. His dog will warn him that a gang of looters has invaded his property, but then what? Call the police? If no police are coming or the phones don't work, then he will be out of options. If looters want what's behind door number one (his safe room), they will break the door down and take it. Pepper spray is not an effective defense. Any non-lethal defense [used on better-armed opponents] will likely provoke an escalation of violence rather than end it. Negotiating with hungry people is much safer if there is the threat of force to back it up. Trying to survive TEOTWAWKI in suburban New York will be a real challenge anyway. I would hate to try it unarmed.

Given his circumstances, it sounds like he has done well. Taking it to the next level necessary to survive a total meltdown will be much more expensive. Relocation is probably the only viable prep he can make for the worst case scenario. If civilization totally breaks down and a significant portion of the population are doomed to starve, his current situation is likely to be untenable. I believe living in the shadow of any major city could turn out to be a death sentence. As a teacher, his job moves with him much easier than most professions. Since I believe in the possibility of TEOTWAWKI, If I were caught in his circumstances, I would consider moving to a small town in Idaho or somewhere similar. - JIR


Mr. Rawles-
I admire that the writer has personal convictions, but not everything is negotiable. The safety and welfare of my family is one on those [non-negotiable] things. No, I don't have weapons because I want to shoot someone. I would like to believe that the weapons are a deterrent and might convince a bad guy to look elsewhere. Unfortunately the bad guy will look to a target that is not defended.

I know ownership of firearms is restricted in some locales, but I don't think pepper spray will dissuade an armed person intent on having their way. It is kind of like the old joke about bringing a knife to a gunfight.

I dare say that a preparedness plan that does not include a means for security and defense is nothing more than a stockpile waiting for a new owner that does have a gun. That would-be new owner probably doesn't have much in the way of negotiation skills. - Gordon in Georgia


There's probably been a rash of letters regarding the rather hopeful advice of "The Suburban 10", but I'll add my two cents worth...

For one, dispensing charity from your front door is surely an invitation to a worst case scenario, especially if you are relying on pepper spray (at best) to defend your children. Talk about "bringing a knife to a gunfight"!

Secondly, while i have previously advocated small dogs for a number of reasons, they are ill advised in this situation. After a week of barking, people will wonder: "Where is that dog getting its food?"

This letter seems to assume that things will get bad, but never "bad bad". It's a serious gamble, no matter how many "code words" you have.

If you plan to survive in the suburbs with no guns you really have to strip your house bare (like it's been picked through) and live in your panic room. Then, when a real intruder arrives they might assume there is nothing left of value, but you might want to keep a rabbit's foot, a lucky penny and keep you fingers crossed while you're at it. Kind Regards, - Bodes


Suburban 10:
I can appreciate the plan that you outlined here. You are among the 10% that are doing something. You have a great approach. However, I say this with the greatest respect, Learn about firearms. As you will recall, when Jesus was in the garden before they took him. Peter attacked the Roman guard and cut off his ear. Jesus healed him. He didn't tell Peter to disarm. And Jesus knew Peter was armed. Why do you think this event played out like that.? Because Evil needs to be resisted. With Prayer yes, but with action too. Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. He didn't pray them out. I respectfully suggest you and your family learn about firearms. They are the sword of our times. Doesn't mean you have to use them. If you have one and know how to use it, you have a choice. If you don't have one or don't know how to use one, you will have no choice. Just my opinion, but the world is a better place with you and your family in it. - Brad S.

GG flagged this: Property Tax Rebellion Brewing After Real Estate Collapse. Here is my prediction on how this will play out: Property values will eventually drop by 50% in most of the more populous states. Assessed valuations eventually drop correspondingly, but only after a public uproar and some foot-dragging. Tax revenues will decline. State legislatures will respond, increasing property tax rates by 100%. Net result: The politicians still get their money.

Also from GG: Total Fed Credit: A Credit to Fed Stupidity (The Mogambo Guru)

K.L. in Alaska suggested this piece about U.S. Treasury auction shenanigans, posted by Chris Martenson, over at Seeking Alpha: The Fed's Shell Game Continues...

Items from The Economatrix:

Sovereign Debt Crisis at Boiling Point

Thanks to Greenspan and Bernanke the Next Crisis Could be Even Scarier

How the Wall Street Crash Changed America Forever

Notes From Jim Sinclair's Toronto Seminar

Shadow Government Statistics Hyperinflation Special Report (Update 2010)

BLS Releases Latest Jobs Openings Data, Number of Unemployed People Per Open Spot Increases in February to 5.5. (Some "recovery"!)

Investors Rush to Sell Greek Bonds

Readers R.V.L. and S.S. both sent this good bit of news: Arizona House approves concealed weapons bill. If it is enacted, I suspect that several other western states will follow suit with Vermont-style "no-permit-required" concealed carry bills.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson forwarded this: More Air Marshalls arrested than arrests made.

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Jon in Wyoming sent these two articles that underscore the importance of finding a retreat locale with plentiful water:
Water publication focuses on drought, and Colorado Basin nears drought tipping point.

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Reader J.M.S. recommended that for greater web browsing privacy, SurvivalBlog readers should switch to the Firefox browser (version 3.5 or later) and install an add-on called BetterPrivacy.

"No one of us is ever safe. There is no security this side of the grave. A shipwreck or a hurricane can put man back to the brink of savagery, both in the means he uses to get his food and the lengths he will go to get it. The more ill-prepared people are to face trouble, the more likely they are to revert to savagery against each other." - Novelist Louis L’Amour (1908-1988) from his novel "Bendigo Shafter"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Many people spend a considerable amount of time making evacuation plans, but seldom are people properly prepared when they arrive to their destination. The purpose of the article is to incorporate proper site planning into your rural cabin. All factors are broken into general relationships allowing the user to adjust the factors to meet the unique conditions at your rural retreat. All factors are overshadowed with the emphasis on silent security. By incorporating these fundamental ideas, you are ensured a safer and prosperous retreat location.

Selection of Property
Landscape conditions vary widely. Effective site planning works with existing site conditions while minimizing exposure to potential security issues. Initially, the retreat will be located on a south facing slope with moderate slope conditions. Avoid building on ridge lines or flood plains. The water source should be nearby, or located at the retreat location. This will minimize time spent hauling water in the future. Existing vegetation should be disturbed as little as possible, especially at the vehicular entrance to the site. Most site entrances will eventually begin to erode or grass over, so take care to eliminate initial tracks inward. The site location must also be secure from view of major highways or commonly-traversed areas. The surest way to encourage others to investigate is have them easily see your location while passing by.

Designing the Outer Periphery
Once the secure site has been selected and purchased, development can begin. Evergreen windbreaks should be planted to block winter winds. In many locations in North America this will be in the north, west, and east directions. Deciduous windbreaks should be established southward to provide shade from summer sun. After fall leaves drop, the home is naturally allowed to warm from the sun. An orchard should be established just inside the confines of the windbreak. If the retreat eventually grows into a working farm, additional expansion for your garden and livestock should be left open.

Designing the Inner Periphery
The rural retreat can grow to be as large and complex as money allows. I have broken the design into six main quadrants. All areas share a relationship to the adjacent quadrant, and are thus interconnected. Quadrant one is the cabin or home. It should be built to reflect an architectural style commonly fond in your region, as to not garner unwanted attention. Large, deciduous trees should shadow it. A basement would be ideal, given that soil conditions allow. To the left of the home will be a patio of impervious material (brick, concrete, etc). this will serve as an outdoor work space and lumber storage. Underneath the patio, a common cellar and/or cistern should be located. Underground storage will provide additional food supplies during cold, waning months. To the left of the patio will be the barn, or outdoor work shed. This facility will also house the solar power panels, inverter, and battery bank, since wind power may draw attention and risk mechanical problems. The barn will also allow a secondary outlet to the cellar for additional security reasons. Just to the north of the barn will be a perennial herb garden. They should be established early, then allowed to flourish until needed. The next two quadrants to the left will be vegetable garden space. They allow your crops to be easily accessed from the home, while being watered as necessary. A deer-proof fence should fall in between the spaces of the buildings and wrap around the inner periphery as necessary. Be careful to keep at least twenty feet from surrounding fence to nearby windbreak trees. This layout could be adjusted for existing site conditions. For example, flipping the layout right to left may work better for your site, but do not flip the layout north to south. The house would then be too close to the adjacent windbreak, providing a security problem.

The information provided outlines the minimum requirements for a success rural retreat. Be careful to maintain the relationship between parts, but feel free to adjust as natural site conditions dictate. Remember avoidance is the best security measure, so by reducing your visibilities, the chances of success are greatly enhanced.

For blog readers who are COSTCO members, there is a deal running from April 5th to April 25th on a Shelf Reliance Thrive 1-year supply of dehydrated and freeze-dried food for one person. For this time period it is marked down from $999 to $799, delivered.

I couldn’t find this particular package on the Shelf Reliance web site, but I assume that it was made specially for Costco. Thanks, - Matt T.

RBS sent us this from The New York Times: G.M. and Chrysler Pensions Underfunded by $17 Billion. (As Senator Everett Dirksen once famously said: "A billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talkin' about real money!")

Reader M.Q. suggested this article: Should the U.S. Sell Its Gold? [JWR's comment: Our gold reserve (the ostensible "backing" for the US Dollar--although US dollars are no longer redeemable for specie), if currently liquidated would fetch only $288 billion. There are an estimated $829 billion paper (printed) dollars in circulation, with more than half of those dollars held outside the US. But there are also TENS OF TRILLIONS of electronic dollars out there, as ledger entries. This illustrates why I prefer the genuine article. (Tangible wealth, not empty promises.) The US Dollar has become a pitiful joke. It is only tradition, familiarity, and good will that keep it from sinking to the level of its real value per square inch, which I estimate is somewhere between that of wall paper and toilet paper.]

Government stimuli like ‘narcotics’ for economy, Marta says

The latest installment of the Friday Follies: Myrtle Beach bank seized by FDIC

Items from The Economatrix:

Is Platinum the New Gold?

William Endahl: US Economy Will Not Recover for at Least 15 Years

Bernanke: Joblessness, Foreclosures Pose Hurdles

GWF spotted this news article on photobioreactors from the "Grow Your Own" state: Algae the new crop harvested by home-growers

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Reader Ron T. suggested the Liberty Letter by Peter J. Mancus (et al), posted over at Bill St. Clair's site.

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Sounds like something from a novel I once read wrote: Many of Haiti's most-wanted on the loose after earthquake. (A hat tip to Deborah D. for the link.)

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. Proverbs 3:1-7 (KJV)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am a public school teacher with five kids and one income. There is little in the way of extra cash to protect the family, but I will do my best to prepare for TEOTWAWKI. If you want to plan well; plan as if it was a lesson plan and you are going to teach it to a class. My class is my family the the goal being not to get anyone panicked (Refer to # 9 below). Having a receptive audience is difficult, because of what I deem…complacent comforts. These are built into the core and routine of our everyday lives that we depend on all to often (you know what they are).

Suburban survival is a surreal world of isolation. You feel alone although you are surrounded by tens of thousands of complacent people who are very comfortable in their grid dependent homes and lifestyles. Try living in suburban New York in which neighbors think you’re getting wacky because you talk of preparing for an event that they deem impossible or extremely remote.

You ask that I provide what works. I provide to you what may work and what does not work when trying to explain to neighbors the concept that more people prepared the less people in need . Going Social and leading a group of individuals is not an option. Sorry, but human nature is 90% reactive and 10% proactive. If you are reading this wonderful blog and this story I tell, then good for you, welcome to the proactive10%. But does anyone really know what will work? You ask for what is proven. Nothing is proven when it comes to TEOTWAWKI. Just prove to yourself that you have prepared for the worst and hope for the best to the greatest of your ability without losing your mind.

What may work is what I have planned for this summer.

1. Two years ago, this house I bought has a chimney with the wood stove removed. I have since bought a wood stove on eBay and will install it this summer. Contact local tree services for what is known as a hook (someone who can give you free wood because around here it costs them money to get rid of it).
2. The back 6 feet of my garage is walled off as a walk in pantry and safe room. Steel racks from target $80 to store the basic recommended foods and three 5 gallon clear water containers. Stores such as Target.com and Harborfreight.com sell a nice three bottle storage rack and a $4.00 hand pump.
3. We like to go camping, so the escape gear is packed and ready to go in the garage. I have three day MRE food packs for each child. Books, games, toys and blankets. I like the items from www.lifesecure.com if you want it all pre-packaged.
4. The Aqua Rain Gravity Water Filter will be used for long term water consumption because I have a fifteen diameter above ground pool that maintains 5,000 gallons of water. Fun to play in and a nice supply of water when filtered. Five gallon clear containers will be wheeled to and from the pool to a basin and then filtered and stored.
5. As an alarm. We have a small barky Cairn Terrier. He has proven to be very territorial. I have encountered many dogs in my life and the small ones seem to bark at strangers the best. Not to scare them off but to let you know there is an intruder.
6. Pray. With the Lord there is confidence and the resolve that you are giving it your best shot and some things are just plain out of you hands and in His.
7. Stay fit. Run and stretch. Exercise with you family. Personally I run and work out with a 1” by 3’ wooden staff. [These are commonly called "dog chasers'] It is cane-like and there are many defensive and offensive forms that can be used.
8. I have friends who are police officers and have never fired their weapon in the line of duty. Do you really want to shoot someone? I train my family for a chaotic attack. We have code words and all have set actions when the code word is mentioned. No matter how crazy things get remember that everything is negotiable. Have a planned system for dealing with a threat other then sending bullets all over the neighborhood. If you can offer an item or two to the desperate individual (who may truly need help) then do so. If they really look like trouble or if they are armed then at least have pepper spray ($11.99 per can here in New York). If you are going to shoot someone, then expect to be shot at as well. You can always think from the other end of the barrel as well, by checking out this web site.
9. Communication - The FEMA and Ready.gov have suggestions on how to communicate to you kids so they know that what you are preparing for is legitimate. The other type of communication Midland Nautico NT3VP VHF 88-channel Two-way radio covers many of the important radio bands as well a my CC SWPocket AM/FM Shortwave Pocket Radio From C. Crane Company.

10. My preparedness approach, in a nutshell:

Heat- Wood

Cook- Wood Stove

Light – Oil Lamps

Food – Stocked bulk items

Water - Aquarain Water filter 2000gallons per filter

Books - Survival (I own three right now), and fiction

Kids - Lots of Books Games, Toys (Legos) and art supplies

Long Term:

Food – fishing and trapping (raccoon/squirrel, locally)

Barter – Lots of practical things and 1 ounce US Silver Eagles (Currently @ $19 each)

Money - $5 Bills (x 50) as a cash reserve

Protection - The Lord gave us our eyes, ears and intuition.

Greetings James!
I just completed your book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation". Thank you for putting so much effort into this resource. I would like to make one point: You talk about [several] alternative fuels [including] Vegetable oil and Biodiesel. As a point of clarification, Biodiesel is significantly different than Vegetable oil.
Biodiesel is created by putting vegetable oil through a conversion process where by the glycerin is removed. This process creates a much cleaner fuel, burns more completely in the vehicle and does not require a separate fuel system to preheat the fuel to 170 degrees, as does Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO).

I have been making Biodiesel from used vegetable oil for six years now and have used my homemade fuel in my 1997 Ford F250 for over 70,000 miles.
We carry a very large 110 gallon auxiliary tank in the back and have a travel range of just under 2,000 miles, unless we are pulling the camper [trailer].

I digress. Making biodiesel in a survival situation would be difficult at best. It takes methanol, lye, water and heat--lots of heat.

Running straight vegetable oil in a survival situation would be easier [with a two tank system], as you pointed out in the book. Find it, filter it and put it in the tank, as long as the outside temps are good and warm.

Thanks for your work. I also enjoyed reading "Patriots". Take care and God Speed! Rick H. of Omaha Biodiesel

James Wesley:
I absolutely love my Saiga-12. With the 20 round drum it is a walking talking claymore. I have tried the 30 round magazine and it is just too bulky. Unless you plan to deploy the Shotgun with some type of shooting sticks then 20 is the way to go. Much more manageable. As to the magazines: I prefer the 10 rounders. While having two more shells in the magazine is nice, the added length (an additional 3 inches) is a little comical. Not to mention the problem of finding some tactical pouches that accommodate the longer magazines. TheVestGuy.com makes those pouches, but then you still have to find a vest/rig to hold the pouches and they seem very cumbersome to me. The ten rounders are still big, but you can setup your battle rig around the 10-rounders without sacrificing mobility. Nice write-up though. For the record, I don’t have an iron in fire but MD Arms presently has their 20 round drum on sale for $100. They have been in a pitched marketing war with the Wraithmaker drum maker over whose drum is better. I don’t have a favorite, but I will say that competition makes for a happier consumer. The drums used to sell for over $300 each, from both sites. - A.J.K.

Readers should do some research before joining the "family." I'm not here to bash the Saigas but there are better choices out there especially when it comes to the Saiga 12. A magazine fed 12 gauge semi-auto is a great idea but if you do even cursory research you will find that the Saiga 12 is far from the most reliable semi-auto shotgun. It does not have a bolt hold open feature after the final shot which will nullify, to a certain extent the magazine advantage. (I believe it can be retro-fitted to a last shot bolt hold open) With the right magazine, aftermarket springs, and polishing/finishing of the gas port the Saiga 12 can be dependable but there are two clear choices when it comes to a self defense semi-auto shotgun - i.e. the FN SLP and Benelli M4. You can shoot these and reload as you go - I believe the tube feed is superior in this regard but everyone has an opinion. Yes both are a grand or more but worth every penny and are as reliable as a semi-auto shotgun can get. For home defense many, myself included, feel that a 12 gauge is the ne plus ultra when it comes to firearms. Good from zero to 100 yards with slugs and even if the bad guy is wearing body armor it will incapacitate him so he is either dead or out of the fight. If money is an issue, and it is for me, (I'm saving up for an FN SLP) get a H&R Pardner Protector Pump for $200 which has a reputation for reliability and is a clone of the Remington 870 so all parts can be interchanged - including the barrel with a spacer. I had a $200 credit and my Gun Shop guy recommended the Pardner - said they had sold hundreds and never had one returned for any reason. I got it based on trust and then researched it (not best way to do things) and it is hard to believe how much gun you get for $200. As for capacity, many home defense shotguns will hold 9 rounds which is plenty and can easily be reloaded as you go. In the end practice makes perfect. The fastest handgun shooters in the world use revolvers. A dedicated cowboy action shooter will prevail with "primitive" firearms over the latest and greatest if the latter does not practice. I agree with the writer that the Saiga guns are worth considering - just do some homework first. - John M.

I wanted to make a couple comments re: the recent article on Saigas by Brett G. First, I am a Saiga fan, own and shoot Saiga-12 shotguns, and used to own a couple Saiga .308 rifles. That said, advising someone to focus only on the Saiga family for their weapons needs is, in my opinion, very ill-advised.

The first reason is simple: spare parts and magazines. All of the magazines for the Saiga family are expensive and relatively hard to find. The relatively low expensive cost of the rifle itself is quickly outweighed by magazines costing $50 each. Take the Saiga .308 for example: $500 for the rifle and 10 magazines costs you $1,000. For the same price you can get a PTR-91 [a HK91 clone] and 100 of the 20 round capacity [alloy G3] magazines. I recently stocked up on HK G3 20-rounders (that work in a PTR-91) for just $1 each.

The second reason is utility. The author recommends the Saiga-223. The consideration that is ignored here, of course, is the modular nature of the AR-15 platform. For example, the author mentions that while .308 is a good all-around cartridge, a rifle in .50 BMG might be desirable, then goes on to state that the cost might be prohibitive. However, there's no reason to have a dedicated rifle for .50 BMG when an upper for an existing AR-15 works just as well and is cheaper. Also, [in the US] barreled AR-15 upper receivers have no paperwork required, for those who are concerned about such things. Further, other options exist such as the .458 SOCOM or the .50 Beowulf both of which are also available as AR uppers and utilize commonly-available M16 magazines. And regarding magazines, why wait to find Saiga-223 mags on sale at one of the few vendors that sells them when you can get AR mags for $10 less anywhere, every day?

I'm a fan of my Saiga-12 shotguns, but when it comes to rifles I think there are better options out there for someone assembling a collection that will be used for defense and survival. - J.T. in Michigan

JWR Replies: I concur with you in general. However, I suspect that magazines for Saigas will become a commodity within a few years. (That is, barring another full capacity magazine production and importation ban, here in the US.) I've recently seen Saiga magazines drop to under $35 each, and they will probably be under $25 each within another year. The law of supply and demand in a free market can be a good thing!

I actively discourage you from buying .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf, or 6.8mm uppers unless or until you already have a full complement of ammo, spare parts and magazines for your rifle in the standard 5.56mm chambering. Don't make the mistake of depending on guns in oddball chamberings, at least not for la fine del mondo come lo conosciamo. (Or, since this is in the context of Russian Saigas, perhaps I should say: "konéts svéta".

Leland suggested this blog series by Kellene Bishop: Hard-Core Financial Preparedness

B&T sent us this from Shadowstats: Actual March unemployment 21.7%. ("March Employment Gain of 162,000 Was 114,000 Net Result of Temporary Census Hiring.")

Carla sent this scary bit of news: Petrol $9.00 a gallon in UK. Thankfully that is per Imperial gallon (1.2 US gallons) but that still works out to $7.67 per gallon.

Items from The Economatrix:

Santelli: $4 Gas, $150 Oil Coming this Summer

Unemployment Benefits Expire for Thousands

The Line Of Doom (The Mogambo Guru)

What Does it Mean to be Middle Class in 2010?

UK: High Earners Hit As 50% Tax Goes Ahead

Initial Jobless Claims Increase Unexpectedly

Oil Down to Near $85 as Two-Month Rally Stalls

Broke Icelanders Opt for Exile

Neal spotted a web site for an interesting camping stove that has an integrated thermoelectric generator (TEG), to provide a draft. Given its design and the materials used, I have my doubts about its useful working life, but the overall concept is captivating.

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Israel distributes biochemical war protection kits to civilians.

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An expensive lesson on Big Bears and Big Government: Alaska man who fed wild bears pleads guilty. (A hat tip to RBS for the link.)

"Ask the first man you meet what he means by defending freedom, and he'll tell you privately he means defending the standard of living." - Reverend Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984) German Lutheran pastor, was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau in 1938. He was freed by the allied forces in 1945.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I will be a guest on Lan Lamphere's Overnight A.M. talk radio show this evening, for the first hour of the show (10-to-11 p.m. Eastern time.) If you have the time, please listen in.


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In the last few months I started the process of better preparing my family for emergencies. Like many SurvivalBlog readers I was more prepared than most but could be better prepared. I had already laid in some provisions and equipment. When I started volunteering for the Sheriff's Department, we were all encouraged to obtain Red Cross 72 hour bags for all family members and to make a family G.O.O.D. kit. My wife and I realized after reading "Patriots" that we had much more work to do. The focus of this article is my efforts at standardizing my home battery applying lessons learned from my readings and to share some personal lessons learned.

My wife knows that we have to spend time and money to prepare but is concerned (rightly so) about the cost. I purchased the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and "Boston's Gun Bible" to help us focus our efforts. Boston makes a compelling case for the selections he laid out in his book. I took the lessons from Boston’s book and was able to winnow down our battery to what was truly essential and to obtain items that made sense for the family. I can only paraphrase what he said in explaining my choices so you really ought to buy the book so you can get a better understanding of the choices I made.

I extensively used Gunbroker.com. Ideally you want to do a face to face transfer where you don't involve an FFL holder. In this economy I figured that I needed national exposure to get the best possible price and to sell as quickly as possible. I will explain my Gunbroker strategies later in this article.

Applying the precepts that Boston laid out in his book I liquidated five pistols and five rifles. They were either the wrong caliber (goodbye 9mm), not mil-spec (sorry Colt), not industry supported (goodbye .45 ACP Beretta Cougar), not left handed (everyone in my family is a left-handed shooter, so goodbye right handed bolt action rifles), and no longer really “fit” (goodbye Beretta .45 ACP Storm).

Some of you may be thinking why not keep them for barter? My primary goal was to standardize my battery without breaking the bank. I figured that right now I need to get my family properly kitted out. Then I can acquire additional inexpensive weapons for barter later. To paraphrase Boston, why have one high dollar weapon when you can have numerous less expensive weapons? In a SHTF scenario the recipient isn't going to care if the pistol is a Sphinx (made in Switzerland) or a Taurus (made in Brazil). Besides, I didn’t liquidate everything!

I kept ten pistols, eleven rifles, and two shotguns. In this mix are built in what I call a “reserve for barter/arm additional group members” and primary weapons. The cash I got from the sale of the ten items from the battery purchased additional weapons meeting my new standards plus additional kit.

I purchased the following items with that cash.
- An additional 1911 so now everyone in my house has a .45ACP pistol (either Glock or 1911).
- Two “bargain bin” ARs from Black Rifle in Columbia, Missouri to complement the two ARs that I kept.
- A DSA FAL to both complement the left hand Savage Model 10 Tactical I have owned for eleven years and the Century Arms FAL my father bought a few years ago. (He owns the retreat property). I really needed a main battle rifle anyway. (I can now tell Boston that I saw the light).
- A high powered Burris scope for the Savage (plus new Talley rings) and will move the Burris currently on the Savage to the FAL (as soon as the new rail comes in).
- Two Ceiner .22LR conversion kits for the ARs so my kids won’t bankrupt me through ammo costs.
- Items for the Ruger 10/22 to turn it into a Liberty Rifle [per Appleseed specifications] .
- An economy family emergency kit from St. Paul Mercantile (I already had radios so they kindly swapped out the radios for two extra water filter candles).
- Bianchi M12 holsters, G2 flashlights with Viking brackets, tritium front sights for primary weapons, assault vests, and more ammo.

The amazing thing is that I still have cash left over! For now I will probably direct some of that cash to either junk silver or food storage equipment. It took about three months of selling and buying through Gunbroker and local shops to get where I am at now. There are a couple of items that I could have gotten a higher price and a couple of items that were harder to sell than I originally thought. What follows are lessons learned selling and buying.

Before listing your item on Gunbroker it pays to watch similar items and see what they are selling for. I found out that what the “Blue Book of Firearms” says and what the market says are not necessarily the same. Search for similar items and then click on the “Watch This” button. After a week watching you will get a good sense of what your firearm will sell for. The only item I didn’t sell through Gunbroker was the Colt AR Lightweight Sporter. The specific model I had was not selling at all. After two weeks of watching I elected to try to sell it locally and was able to get a decent price for it.

When you place an item for sale, you specify a starting bid. You can specify an undisclosed reserve price and you can set a “Buy It Now” price. I found that setting a realistic starting bid is better than using the reserve price option. One of the bolt action rifles took two weeks to sell. I set the starting bid at $400, a reserve price of $700, and a “Buy It Now” price of $1,000. It only took a couple of bids that didn’t meet the reserve price. In the second week, I set the starting bid at $700, no reserve, and a “Buy It Now” at $1,000. I also added “with Leupold Scope” in the title. The bidding got so hot on it that the “Buy It Now” option was exercised. The bad thing with “Buy It Now” is that no bids can go higher than the “Buy It Now” price. I probably could have gotten $300 more for that rifle if I had set the “Buy It Now” price higher!

Don’t get wrapped up in what you paid for an item. The market is the market and if the market says your item is worth less than what you paid for it than that is what you will get. I wanted to unload the Beretta Storm. No one was bidding on the Storms that were starting at $675 and higher. To sweeten the deal I was throwing in extra mags and other accessories I bought for the Storm (I wasn’t going to need them anymore), plus this Storm had a top rail and an additional side rail installed. All told I had about $750 tied up in this Storm. I sold it for $644. I took a hit but when I factor in the Cougar which I got for a song and sold for $700 then the pain went away. Just like a stock mutual fund, some will be winners and some will be losers.

Buying through Gunbroker can save you a lot of money. Use the “Watch This” feature to get a sense of the going rate for the item you want to buy. Ask the seller questions via the “ask the seller a question” link. The geographical location of the seller is listed so if you want to avoid the use of an FFL, find a seller within your state and offer to pick it up. The seller will usually forego asking for the delivery fee. If the item didn’t sell and it didn’t get re-listed, e-mail the seller and offer him something in cash or trade (or both). The seller may be willing to deal. [JWR Adds: Consult your state an local laws before making gun purchases. Not all states allow private party sales. But if that is legal where you live, then I highly recommend minimizing your paper trail!]

If you elect to sell a firearm to a pawnshop, you absolutely have to know the value of your firearm ahead of time. Gunbroker can tell you the true market value and the “Blue Book of Firearms” will give the “ideal” market value. Go to at least three pawn shops and be prepared to sell for less than what you think you can sell it for. A pawn shop has to make a profit on everything it takes in (I learned that from watching “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel). I got a decent price for the Colt AR I sold to a pawn shop. Could I have gotten a better price? Maybe, but that would have meant re-listing the thing on Gunbroker for weeks or maybe months. The Colt was “valued” at somewhere between $900 and $1,000. I asked for $800. Two shops offered me $600 and one offered me $700. I took the $700 offer.

Why didn’t I use gun shows? I didn’t have the time for gun shows. My family is a busy family. It was more efficient for me to stay up past bedtime to snap a few pictures and to create a listing on Gunbroker. Besides, some of the items I sold were a bit esoteric and I was only going to get a good price by trying to sell to a national audience.

A final note: I started acquiring firearms since I was a young man. I was able to take advantage of the appreciation in value in the firearms I sold. Most people are not in a position to do what I did. That is why you absolutely need to buy the book "Boston's Gun Bible". It will lay out a roadmap to help you acquire a battery that will not break you financially and that will direct your efforts towards buying what you truly need. I wish that I had read Boston’s book sooner!

Keep your powder dry and keep 'em in the black! - Cascinus

Letter Re: The S-250 Vehicle Shelter

Dear Editor:
Now available from your local Federal Government through GovLiquidation.com is what is commonly known as the S-250 shelter. In essence, this is a highly sought after, well constructed, insulated truck shelter used by the military as a radio shack or electronics shelter.  [They were designed to be mounted in pickup beds, but more recently have been mounted on Humvees.] When looking online you’ll find most of those seeking these shelters at auction are either military vehicle collectors or those seeking a super heavy duty slide in truck camper.  Thirdly you’ll find some hams wanting a mobile radio shack.

What is overlooked for the most part is that these shelters are RF-shielded and therefore EMP shielded as well. Whether it’s the coming of the solar storms in 2012 or the real world threat of an EMP detonation in the USA, having a S-250 loaded and sealed could be a survivalist's dream come true.
In essence this is a big Faraday box!

Last march I picked up an S-250 at auction for $800 with the intention of converting it to a heavy duty camper.   After getting it home and looking at the layout, it became clear that the best use would be in keeping the shielding.  My S-250 will be used an outpost at our retreat complete with a bunk, and outfitted with appropriate survival equipment.  It will also be a storage location for nearly any electronic device I can afford to stock here. Spare 12VDC power inverters, shortwave radios, spare vehicle electronic control modules (ECMs), extra solar panels, multiple CB radios, and anything else I can afford to stash protected from the effects of EMP.
When looking at these at auction, look for the newest models with the fewest box accessories mounted through the walls. If possible, look for the one with the fewest internal accessories as well. This will prove to be a great time saver.  As it turned out for me, I ended up with a 2001 model fully loaded inside. Of the original equipment I kept a few switch panels, rifle rack (which holds two M16s or AR-15s), and the overhead lighting. The 24 volt power inverter was missing so I am going with the commonly available 12 volt system.

Having only weekends to work on this project it took me several weeks to unbolt all the aluminum rails and mounting hardware stuffed into the shelter.  The one I ended up with was indeed a radio shack and had miles of wire routed for the 12 or more radios that it once housed.  Once I basically had the shelter gutted, I was able to better see how much room I was going to have to do the conversion. Where once there was a radio/com desk I now placed a bunk. The power supply corner was going to remain at the same location as well as the rifle rack.

I am using the original switch panel having rewired the unit for my 12v system. Using the original vented battery box holding two 12V deep cycles, I have employed an 800 watt 12VDC inverter. I picked this up on sale at a Love's Truck stop for $40. Most shelters will already have a power supply source and internal lighting.

Preserving the integrity of the shielding means installing no windows but as a camper or retreat outpost it really does not need one [and this has advantages in maintaining light discipline]. There is an exhaust fan already installed and they all have a unique door system that would prevent anyone ever being locked inside the box while clearly locking others out.

The only thing I had not yet decided is whether or not to put this on a trailer, for extra mobility. - F.J.B.

Hugh D. suggested this, by the ever-cheery Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Sovereign debt crisis at 'boiling point', warns Bank for International Settlements

Brett G. suggested this: Report: Panicky Investors Pull Cash Out of Greek Banks

Also from Brett G.: California's $500-billion pension time bomb.

D.S. sent this on: World stocks drop as Greek debt crisis intensifies. A comment from D.S.: "I had always thought the "Greek Solvency" issue had never been solved, and this article shows that I was correct. This is another example to add to the folder of Main Stream Media (MSM) using cheap plaster to hide things from the citizens of this country."

Items from The Economatrix:

Concern About Greece, US Jobs Holds Stocks Down

More CEOs See More Job Increases Than Losses

Iceland's Credit Rating Outlook Downgraded

Greek Banks Hit By Wealthy Citizens Moving Money Offshore

Brits Leaving Cars at Home as Petrol Hits New Highs

US Job Openings Decrease to 2.72 Million

Fed Saw Recovery Curbed By Unemployment

Gold Manipulation Officially Confirmed

GG sent this: Ham Radio Growing In The Age Of Twitter

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Greg C. liked this piece by Dr. Gary North: Oldspapers and the Crisis of the Establishment

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These surveillance videos illustrate the enormity of the illegal immigration problem in the US: Border Invasion Pics. (Thanks to reader D.V.D. for the link.)

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I heard that Freeze Dry Guy has extended their freeze dried fruit special for the entire month of April. They are selling a 108-Day Fruit Unit for $170, with a free Sparkie and free shipping in CONUS. If you buy two cases, your cost would be just $330. With each case unit you will get six #10 cans:

3 cans of Freeze Dried Strawberries = 48 ½ cup servings
3 cans of Freeze Dried Banana Slices = 60 ½ cup servings
(108 servings of ½ cup each = 3-½ months of fruit servings)

To order, call: (866) 404-3663 or visit their online web store.

"A good character is the best tombstone. Carve your name on hearts, and not on marble." - Charles H. Spurgeon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Dmitry Orlov wrote about the five stages of social collapse. In descending order, these stages are: financial, commercial, political, social and – last and certainly worst – cultural. In the face of a collapsing society, what can be done to lessen the immediate and local impact at each of these stages? How can we lessen the personal impact of societal collapse? Preparedness is key in any disaster, and societal collapse is certainly a disaster on epic scale. The question then is what to do at each stage of societal collapse.
Here is how to do more than survive at each stage of societal collapse, and what one can do to prepare in advance of each stage.

  1. In the financial collapse, currency hyper-inflates or becomes unavailable. If currency becomes unavailable, either due to hoarding or restrictions on allowed cash withdrawals, money becomes scarce. If currency hyper-inflates, the theoretical cost of paying off a loan frequently shrinks. However, in hyperinflation, wages rarely keep up with the devaluation of currency, leaving workers with a shrinking plate on which to pay their existing bills. It is preferable to pay off all debts before this stage, so that lack of money in either scenario does not make it impossible to pay payments and lead to your physical possessions being repossessed. When cash is scarce or worthless, crime frequently goes up. Don’t look like a target. Where possible, lower your profile now so that collective memory will also change; “he used to have all the flashy stuff that’s gone, probably trying to look poor.”

What to do before then: Own your home and property. If applicable, own your business location. If possible, own usable real estate that can be rented out to others in exchange for barter. For example, own outright a plot of land near high density homes that can be rented for gardening in exchange for produce.  

  1. In commercial collapse, there is a business slow down. Lack of currency or lack of value of cash on hand causes business slow down. Inability to buy goods or pay for their transport creates shortages. To manage this stage, have your own supply source. For example, have a garden for food so that empty shelves at the grocery store do not leave your family hungry. Have a stand of trees that can be harvested for wood so that propane gas lines don’t leave you cold at night.

What to do before then: If possible, become a distributor or seller of these necessities, ensuring your own supply as well. However, this requires building up the business connections and likely getting into the business before a collapse so that you have an established customer base. This requires inventory, storage and protection for inventory, and the means to purchase these products now, but it can create a means of livelihood for the long term.  

  1. In a political collapse, public order becomes chaos. Police don’t bother policing the streets unless it is their own. Judges don’t see many cases unless it is for the ruling elite or to silence an angry mob outside. In this situation, it is essential to have at least one means of personal protection. If calling 911 is jokingly called government sponsored dial a prayer when we have a functioning society, what will it be called when the police rarely bother to come at all? Own at least one gun, and know how to use it. Teach your neighbors how to use a gun properly, so that their response to a home invasion is less likely to result in stray bullets hitting your home or even yourself. Consider having a family member join private security services. Or set one up yourself.

What to do before then: Organize a local neighborhood watch that actually packs heat, so that violent crimes by armed criminals can be dealt with immediately. An existing organized group can easily ramp up its number of patrols and extend its range. An active group also benefits from knowing the people and the area, thus will not be mistaken for a new gang as it starts to patrol or make contact.

  1. In social collapse, the national institutions start to fail. Colleges close. Landmarks shut down. Communication across even intermediate distances becomes difficult and unreliable. In this stage of collapse, local institutions are the only ones left standing – if they are helped to stand. Bolster local institutions like churches and temples by volunteering. Keep food banks open by donating food – thus preventing begging on the streets. When state schools close, support private schools to fill in the gap. At this stage of collapse, strong local social connections become even more important.

What to do before then: Know teachers, lawyers, and supportive personnel that are within a safe commuting distance and who can be there when you need them. If possible, organize home-schooling groups now that can evolve into private schools for children within walking distance. Set up mediation center now with trained mediators and retired judges that can evolve into a local community court when the municipality ceases doing its job or becomes too corrupt to be trusted.

  1. In cultural collapse, local institutions fall. This is best described as total anarchy or social collapse. When the Maya abandoned their cities, they were in cultural collapse. When the local institutions fail, the only fall back is family and clan. There is no prospering at this stage, only survival and hope for more than survival later. If society is in a stage of collapse, it is essential to take the right actions long before it falls this far. Move close to family, such as within walking distance.

What do to now: Repair family ties. If the world falls apart and one can only rely upon family, have strong relationships so that they are willing to support you. Build up family members into those you can rely upon Encourage financial responsibility among family members, so that they do not need desperate help when money is in short supply. Encourage strong personal responsibility in the next generation, so that they can be there to rely upon instead of needing help. Help them break addictions now, because that will only be an even greater temptation when the world seems to be falling apart. If your younger family members are looking for mates, encourage them to select spouses who are compatible and in for the long haul.

You may want to consider networking now nationally or internationally with like minded individuals, so that you could join a rising culture that is still strong. Whether it immigrating abroad to another nation or building anew regionally will depend on circumstances of the time and place. However, having the social infrastructure and connections in place now are essential to avoiding becoming a refugee. Whether it is knowing someone you could move in with after your home is destroyed in a disaster or after forced relocation, having family or friends that are like family can give you a destination ready and able to take you in. Also have the means in your own home, such as space and supplies, to help incoming relatives and close friends, in case you are the refuge to which they flee.

I am replying to the recent post on G.O.O.D. Vehicle Preparation and Maintenance. It had almost all excellent information, except the part about coolant, the "reddish eco-friendly" is the only long life coolant that causes problems, it is either DEX-COOL, or a licensed replacement that would be the same color. GM has been having legal problems with it for over a decade. As a former dealer tech I saw the damage it caused, and would also never use it in a car. The long life coolants, as well as the universal type with long life attributes are fine to use and will not corrode, or clog a cooling system, even when mixed, I have first hand experience with this. I would highly recommend the premixed ones also, due to their use of de-ionized, purified water. Why add contaminants from your well or city water when you can have it already done for you. BTW the chlorine, or chloramine in city water is not good for your vehicle's cooling system or your car's 12 volt DC battery. As a side note: long ago I tried sales to fleet vehicle companies and every make was represented. I learned that all of them sold the vehicles when they hit 300,000 miles. So it is not rocket science to make your vehicles last, it's simply maintenance, fluids, filters, belts and hoses. Read the most unread book in the world, your owner's manual, it can save you thousands of dollars. - Wayne in Wyoming (an ASE Master Mechanic)

Regarding the excellent post on G.O.O.D. vehicles, I wholehearted agree. I just want to clarify and add a few points on tires and wheels.

First, in a G.O.O.D. situation you are going to be running heavily loaded and/or towing a loaded trailer. Because of this, you should be running load range E tires on your truck filled to the max, 80psi. Load range E or 10 ply (on the tread) tires are meant to absorb more abuse because of the extra weight. These extra plies add layers of protection. This site has good description of what is on the sidewalls of your tires. If you are planning to take your truck and trailer off paved roads often, then I would recommend looking for tires with an extra ply in the sidewalls. While Barry was correct about getting more traction by lowering the tire pressure, if you are towing a loaded trailer or are heavily loaded, you should NEVER lower the pressure in your tires below 40psi. The lack of air pressure could allow the tire to be pinched between the ground and wheel causing a blowout. It also allows the tire to become to spongy causing excessive roll and increases your chance of blowing the tire bead off of the wheel. That causes an instantaneous flat that may not be field repairable.

Secondly, the larger your tires are, the harder they are to spin balance. Knobbier tread also makes it harder to spin balance, causes an increase in road noise and almost always wears down faster and more unevenly even with good rotation habits.

We often talk about training; when was the last time you practiced changing a tire on your rig? A flat tire is the most likely issue to happen on a well maintained vehicle. Will your stock jack lift your fully loaded vehicle? If you are running larger tires, will your stock jack have the reach to lift the vehicle high enough? Get a good hydraulic bottle jack and a Hi-lift jack. Carry a couple chunks of 4x8 to set your bottle jack on and to chock a wheel with. If your G.O.O.D. is an SUV, is your current packing plan on top of your spare? As a safety note, early cans of Fix-A-Flat are very flammable as they used butane and other fuels for propellant. I use and recommend Slime; they now have an inflating kit, which I have no experience with, called Quick Spair which is non-flammable.

Finally, I never see anyone have an extra, full set of lug nuts on their list. Losing a couple of these could make a 10-20 minute job into a really bad day. Carrying a full set of lug nut spares is small, cheap insurance. - Travis H.

To The Editor,
I am an outdoorsman. I love camping, hiking, and biking. To enjoy these things, I must be in decent shape. I have to work at physical health because I have a desk job. So I exercise regularly. Keeping oneself reasonably healthy is part of being prepared. But I am not so young anymore. I am not old, mind you, in my early 50s, but I don’t consider myself young either. Yet, I am reminded of my physical limitations more often the older I get. I thought of this the other day when I was working in the garden getting ready for spring planting. My monster rototiller can be a beast sometimes, and after 45 minutes of running the heavy machine I was getting tired. I find myself getting tired more now that I am past the 50 year milestone. But I knew I needed to finish that section of the garden so I pushed on. I wonder how much longer I will physically be able to push on.

I figure I have at least 20 more years of physical health, hopefully much longer. But I also realize that I need help with some things. The older I get the more things I will need help with. I cut down a tree the other day, but I needed the help of my two youngest children, both teenagers. I couldn’t have done it without them. It is great to have big strong young people around. Which brings me to my point. If you are preparing for when the ‘stuff hits the fan’, part of your preparation needs to be to find people of all ages with whom to connect. My neighbor is a 30-something man and we help each other with jobs we can’t do ourselves… occasionally. Keep these kind of friendships. Work on being a good neighbor. Make friends with your neighbors. Even if you don’t mention preparedness, at least be friendly. The truth is the younger folks can learn from the older guys and us older guys need the younger folk to help us out. Having adult children is a blessing not to be underestimated. However, it is not always possible to have your adult children living nearby.

Although we would all like to say we have prepared sufficiently and we are prepared, I would suggest you look at how long you can survive without the help of others. Self-sufficiency… with the emphasis on self, works only for a while. You can survive for a month, three months, maybe even a year without the help of others. But this is not a sustainable lifestyle. Eventually all of us get older. Eventually all of us need help with the big projects. Eventually all of us need our neighbors. - Chuck G.

Christine sent a link to a fascinating article: Phones in remote Washington come at high cost.

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Courtesy of Richard S.: Canada set to repeal registration of hunting rifles, shotguns

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson offered this: HUD and CPSC Issue Guidance on Repairing Homes With Problem Drywall. Mike's comment: "Yet more fine quality from Chinese slave labor."

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Kevin A. spotted this: Privacy Lives Report- State of Oklahoma makes millions selling resident's info. " Kevin asks: "Do you think any other states might be doing this?" Oh, and speaking of privacy issues, C.Z.D. sent this: Will jotting down license plates pay the rent?

"I am one of those who do not believe that a national debt is a national blessing, but rather a curse to a republic; inasmuch as it is calculated to raise around the administration a moneyed aristocracy dangerous to the liberties of the country." - President Andrew Jackson

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Your needs when the SHTF will vary greatly, yet some needs rank higher than others. Of course there will be many considerations at any point on your journey, in every circumstance, regardless of the cause (earthquake, flood, volcano, terrorist attack, storm, riots, etc). In any situation the considerations will certainly include a need for food, water, shelter, body armor and helmets, vehicles, fuel, heating, medical supplies, land for security and for growing future food, and such. There is no intention to downgrade the importance of those items - yet it is my intention to get you to think about some of the basics - one basic - very strategically.

When the SHTF, what will be the first concern? In a chaotic situation, other than prayer, in terms of your supplies where will you turn first? When you stop and really think through any nasty circumstance what is the one thing that you will really need? In chaos, beyond anything else other than the immediate need for air and water, you must have weapons for immediate protection and security (if not also for food or eventual barter).

As examples, look to the riots in Los Angeles in the early 1990s following the Rodney King case verdict. Look to happenings in New Orleans, Haiti or Chile recently. Look to the couple in the novel "Patriots" escaping from gangs and mobs in Chicago in the middle of the night. What would happen if there were a nuclear attack? A tsunami hits California? A chemical attack? An asteroid strikes the Earth? Or an EMP or solar flare takes out the power grids? What if a political figure were assassinated and a that triggered riots in every major city simultaneously? What if a powerful earthquake hit a major portion of the country affecting major cities? Most cities are not prepared for such challenges. Unrest can happen at nearly any time for nearly any reason - the one thing you can guarantee will happen is utter and ultimate chaos.

Look at September 11th, 2001. Every commercial airliner was grounded and uncertainty reigned - then the markets plummeted. In the southern United States, every grocery store sells out when there is a threat of a hurricane or snow.

The challenge for most folks is that “newbies” don’t have a clue where to start with weapons. As a simple explanation, like the variety of clubs in a golf bag for different types of types of shots at different distances, many different weapons exist for the multitude of circumstances. Remember, no weapon is perfect in every situation - which is the reason for short range handguns and shotguns, and medium to long range rifles.

With that being said, I think after you do some of your own investigations you will find this series of weapons that I am proposing to be superior in many ways, yet being practical, which makes this posting critical for discussion. I would like to introduce you to the Saiga family of weapons.

In all of my studies, there is no weapon family like the Saigas. Saigas may or may not be the most superior weapon in every scenario, however they have their niche. Your need obviously depends on your circumstances and your preferences. It is safe to say that the Saiga’s offer some unique capabilities that you may not have considered. These include: reliability, durability, functionality, practicality, special purpose, and affordability.

The Saiga is an off-shoot of the AK-47. It looks like the AK-47. In fact, they are mostly Russian made, by Izhmash, at least in parts origin. Although the part availability question, since they originate in Russia will come up, (and make sure to get what you need now!) overall these weapons are worth serious consideration.

The Saiga’s are known to be fairly reliable. (Reliability improves as you use the appropriate ammunition as specified.) Original Soviet Bloc AK-47s tend to be the most durable, common rifles and the Saigas are arguably not far behind. Of course for any purchase, you do your own research and make up your own mind.

One of the important considerations is that they come in a variety of calibers. For one, you can purchase the Saiga chambered in .223, which is one of the most common rounds in the US and around the world. Furthermore, the Saiga .308 is a variant of the AK-47 (7.62 mm x 39 mm) design, yet is shoots the common (in the US) .308 round. Importantly, the .308 packs a bigger punch than the .223 and large magazines exist for both rifles (up to 25 rounds that I have found). Even though the magazines aren’t cheap, (you can probably find them for about $45 - $55 per magazine) the remainder of the considerations for the Saigas are important.

The Saiga .223 and the .308 both come standard in a 16” and 22” barrel. Other lengths may exist, however these are the two most common. In comparison to the AR-15, the .223 Saiga is just slightly heavier. Of course if you want more maneuverability and quick sighting, then go for the shorter barrel. If you want more muzzle velocity and the benefit of the doubt when it comes to improved accuracy, then choose the longer barrel.

One recommendation, especially if money is not too much of a concern for you, is to have both the Saiga .223 with the 16” barrel and the .308 with the 22” barrel. Truthfully, either Saiga with the shorter 16” barrel would be great for quick combat movements. At that same time, perhaps you should consider a longer range set up.

If you haven’t thought about a long range weapon, perhaps you would include a side rail or Picatinny rail and a good scope for the .308, which can be very effective for longer range shooting with significant knockdown power. The .308 round is very common for hunting and it is very common in many of the world’s militaries. One nice aspect of the Saiga is that they are made to handle the variations between the .308 Winchester and the 7.62 NATO case dimensions and pressures. (The variable ammunition factor is a vital consideration should ammunition become sparse in the times after TEOTWAWKI.) Make sure you consult your manufacturer’s guide for your specific weapon before selecting ammunition.

Normally, a nice long range option for hunting or sniping is the Remington 700 chambered in the .30-06 or .308 Winchester. For larger game, longer ranges, and hard targets like engine blocks, or light armor you can go with a Barret M82A1 semi-automatic in .50 BMG with a really good scope. Expect to pay $4 - $6 per round). The challenge with bigger caliber, highly precise rifles is that the prices reflect the quality. Many .50 caliber, bolt action rifles (like Barret and McMillian) are in the $2,500 range for a bolt action and around $8,000+ for the M82A1 semi-automatic with ten round magazine.

Even though the common and more affordable Remington 700s, for example, which are durable, accurate, and relatively inexpensive - about $600 in many cases (Dick Sporting Goods has a sale currently for $449 plus tax for the ADL version) - are incredible weapons, they are a still bolt action with a limited fixed internal magazine capacity (versus a semi-automatic weapon with larger, detachable magazines) which may have some limitations in a firefight. What if a good, inexpensive, larger caliber (.308) weapon were available in a semi-automatic? That is where the Saiga .308 is great to consider.

Importantly, if you are already thinking ahead, you can have .308 round for the Remington 700 and the same round for your Saiga .308 if you decide to have both - one for more long range shots and one for more "tactical" situations - even though the Saiga .308 is the “better, two in one, sniping and hunting” weapon. Even though the Saiga .308 may arguably not be as accurate as the 700 for long distance shooting, the Saiga .308 in good hands and with a good 4 - 12 x 40 scope can do the job. Overall all, having pair of weapons is a great idea, yet if you had to have just one, then perhaps consider the Saiga .308.

As you acquire multiple weapons, remember to use common calibers for all of your acquisitions since it will benefit you to be able to shoot the same, common round out of your multiple rifles. Then stockpile that size ammunition for future needs. Planning ahead and preparing is the name of the game, this is another reason for this post - the commonality yet versatility of the Saiga .308.

If it weren’t obvious for you at this point, all of the Saigas are semi automatic,. Therefore, you can punch out more rounds more quickly--one round with each pull of the trigger--than you could with a bolt action rifle because you don’t need to manipulate the bolt for each round. At least with the opportunity for extended magazines for the Saigas, you can shoot more times without touching the bolt action and thereby sending more rounds downrange, more quickly. Even though there are fantastic shooters with a bolt action rifle, in firefight you want to put as much lead accurately down field without extra steps if you can. The benefit with the Saigas is that if you can keep your eye on the target with larger magazines, you will win more battles. In dire times, aggressive action will save your life.

As a nice bonus, you have many options for adding additional features to the Saiga .223 and .308 which I will discuss in later in this article. Options are always nice and in difficult situations flexibility is paramount.

As you probably know, a shotgun is one of the best weapons for any home invasion or close quarter combat scenarios. The downside to most tactical shotguns is that the capacity of the weapon tends to hold from only 5 + 1 in the chamber round to 7 + 1 rounds typically for either the common Remington or Mossberg pump action weapons. Even though they are great weapons, they have some limitations. That’s only 8 shots! And that is on the higher end capacity shotguns that many preppers have. For serious situations involving a dozen attackers, wouldn’t you want more rounds? I don’t know about you, I would rather have one too many shells in the weapon than one too few! Also, for a mob of a ten people, how many rounds do you want? Do you only want six, and then have to reload in the midst of the fire fight?

And as another point, have you actually tried to quickly reload your shotgun? How does that work for you? I don’t know about you, but when I make the effort under calm circumstances I might be able to get six rounds back into the shotgun tube in about ten seconds. And how many times like I do you stumble and drop one as you quickly push it into the tube? In a crisis, how quickly can you reload? The point is, how quickly can you really reload a “normal shotgun” putting one shell into the magazine tube at a time? It might take longer than you really want. In a tough situation, tactically you are limited by your weapon’s capacity and your reloading capabilities.

Fortunately, there is the Saiga 12. This weapon was designed for tough situations like this. The Saiga 12 is a 12 gauge shotgun that is potent weapon. It is basically the AK-47 frame with larger magazines, yet you shoot 12 gauge shotgun shells. It doesn’t get much better than that. By the way, Saiga also makes the Saiga 20 and Saiga .410 - which are 20 and .410 gauges respectively.

Several box magazine sizes are available. Magazine sizes are 5, 8, 10, and 12 rounds. 12 round magazines makes 12 + 1 round in the weapon to start. That is nearly twice the capacity of the Mossberg or Remington.

Also, think about this factor, you can more quickly put more rounds back into the weapon when you reload. You may take five seconds to reload just like with a “normal shotgun”, however when you reload, you are putting 12 rounds back into the weapon as opposed to only six to eight, with others. You also didn’t have to reload as early in the fight because you had the 13 rounds total to start with. That’s 25 rounds with a 5 second changeover. The alternative is 25 rounds with having to stop and reload one round in the tube at a time, 25 times for a total of 25, precious moments that seem like a lifetime, in the middle of a firefight. Fortunately, somebody was really thinking and designed an intelligent and practical weapon with the right mindset.

Of course the argument is that a pump action is more reliable than the semi-automatic action of the Saiga 12 and I would agree in theory. The Saiga has an adjustable gas tube where you can ensure more gas is diverted to eject the spent shell from the chamber. They have really thought of about everything, including the ability to utilize a wide variety lengths and a multitude of loads in the shotgun shells in the same magazine. Regardless of the pump reliability versus the semi-automatic argument, you can easily punch out 24 rounds from two magazines in less than 10 seconds! Saigas rarely jam.

If you are serious about protecting your loved ones and your property, you will find that 20 and 30 round drums are also available for the Saiga 12. That’s a total potential of 30 shotgun shells delivered at a target in less than 8 seconds! Using 00 buck shot in 3 inch shells, that’s equivalent to 450 round bullets of .32 caliber. That’s a hailstorm of lead. If you want to win a firefight in a short range battle, the Saiga 12 with a 30 round drum is the right strategy.

There are a few considerations for these drums for you to remember. Of course, these larger drums take up a considerable amount of space due to their design. You may need to do some planning if you intend on humping around a couple of spare drums, but it probably wouldn’t be a bad set up for one (or perhaps two) thirty round drums and to back them up with a half dozen so, twelve round magazines which can be carried more easily, with their more linear design. (They are a only slightly curved magazine).

Also, the drums are expensive. You can look to spend about $300 per drum which may be cost prohibitive for many folks. (Of course you could consider, which may be a better strategy, to buy 6 to 9 twelve round magazines for a total of 72 to 108 round capacity, compared to buying just one 30 round drum for the same investment.) When it comes to the price you need to make your own decisions. [JWR Adds: Thankfully, MD Arms recently dropped the price of their 20 round drums to less than $175. I suspect that the 30 round drums will soon come down in price, as well, with economies of scale.]

When you purchase, the magazine or drum quality needs to be taken into consideration as well. Do your homework since there are at least two companies that make the drums. (And a half dozen that make the box magazines.) Plan ahead for a potential future situation when the silly anti-gunners decide to put another unconstitutional ban on weapons and higher capacity magazines. Stockpile enough magazines! Another consideration other than simply having the magazines available for your own defense is that the magazines will jump in price if there is another ban.

One nice benefit of a 12 gauge shotgun is the variety of ammunition. Of course shotgun shells are fairly easy to load for your own ammunition preference - buck and ball is an option. Always thoroughly test your ammunition. In the magazine for maximum effectiveness, you may alternate (slugs for stopping power) and #4 buck (.24 inch diameter), 00 buck (.33 inch diameter) and 000 buck (.36 inch diameter) rounds.

One consideration is that you can use different colors for your magazines or use a label maker for certain arrangements of your ammunition. Whatever system you choose, you will be able to quickly distinguish what you have and what you are using depending on the types of situations and shots that you may encounter.

Remember, slugs are best for down range, longer distance shooting - up to 200 yards with substantial knockdown power. Buckshot is for increased opportunities to hit your target. The trick is to still have a large enough mass behind each hit; that is the purpose of the larger pellets. Make sure when you choose your ammunition that you decide to balance your purchasing for a variety of scenarios. Your best “middle of the road” buckshot round is arguably the 00 buck - each pellet is about .33 inches in diameter and the average 3 inch shell will hold around 15 pellets.

On a different note as a consideration, make sure you consider Federal gun laws. According to the US laws, with recently-imported guns, you must have a certain quantity of parts that are made in the US. Make sure that you always have a sufficient number of Sec. 922(r) Compliant Parts to adhere to the current laws. (Do a web search on "Sec. 922(r) Compliant Pats Count", for details.)

One of the perks of the Saiga family, somewhat like the AR family, is that there are many options for these weapons if you do your homework. Many accessories are available including rails for scopes including red dot scopes, adjustable stocks with pistol grips, muzzle brakes and flash hiders, and for the really serious “prepper” even a bayonet lug for that dreaded worst case.

As suggested, one consideration is to put choke tubes on the threaded end of the barrel for a tighter shot pattern. As you may know, the benefit of having a choke is to keep your pattern a little tighter to extend the effective range and functioning of this weapon with bird or buckshot. Just make sure you get what you need exactly for your weapon. Just make sure that you remove the choke and replace it with a "cylinder bore" tube when you shoot a slug, as appropriate. (If you neglect to do so, you could blow up your weapon! Always check the technical details to know which set up will be best for your needs.)You can also use the threaded end for a muzzle brake or flash hider.

Many great accessories and parts for your Saigas can be found at Dinzagarms. If you are looking for alternative muzzle attachments, front sights, tools to work on your Saiga, rails and other items, this is a great resource. Additionally, I negotiated a perk for my fellow SurvivalBlog readers. When you buy from this web site and enter the coupon code “SURVIVALBLOG”, you will receive a 5% discount.

An important factor is your sights. With the Saiga 12 shotgun you are probably better use a holo sights, with iron sights as a backup. Of course, carry spare batteries and choose a scope that makes the most sense for you. Red dot scopes are a great idea and they are ideal for quick target acquisition. You can find some good ones at Amazon.com relatively inexpensively if you get a rail for your weapon. One red dot scope that I like is the Leeper Golden Image.

Of course having good backup iron sights is important. What if your batteries run out, you experience an EMP, or if your sight gets damaged in battle? Use the Boy Scout motto: Always Be Prepared!

When you think about the possibilities of carrying and firing the weapon, flexibility and ease of transportation are vital. One of the best ways to do this is not just with the shoulder strap to allow the weapon to be slung over your back, rather use a single point tactical sling. This carrier harness comes in a few styles and can be found through on-line companies like Midwest USA.

As far as the tactical harness is concerned, you need to have an easy point by which to attach the harness clip to the weapon. One of your best solutions is with TAPCO collapsible/adjustable stock which will allow your weapon to seat nicely in your hands at the best position and with a “clip on” point where the stock connects to the weapon. You have to specifically look for the single (right or left handed) metal loop, or a double loop set up exists.

In regards to adjustable stocks, one of the benefits is comfort, flexibility, and easier use. You can do a search for these stocks since they are nearly everywhere including www.amazon.com, www.ebay.com, www.cheaperthandirt.com or again, Midwest USA. Also remember, one of the best reasons to have the collapsible stock, other than for comfort, is that the adjustable stocks are ideal for closer combat scenarios including shooting around corners. Simply, an adjustable stock is a great consideration as it is easier to handle a shorter weapon for such tight engagements. Regarding your Saiga configuration conversion, you will find this link helpful. If you become a Saiga connoisseur, check out the Saiga Forum.

Transportation of your Saiga gear will present some new challenges. The unique, long magazines and drums for the Saiga weapons need to be carried somehow. One great resource for carrying options is The Vest Guy. You may find others, perhaps even a tactical back pack.

Perhaps you have yet to consider how to function at night. Of course if you have a red dot scope, your needs are covered. What happens if you simply run out of batteries? Night sights are available and probably a good idea if your variation is compatible. As one source, try Dinzagarms.com for some basic information. MD Arms has many options for Saigas. As another great resource, they have pistol grips and drums, plus many other set ups.

As you may know, the barrel of your weapon will get hot as you shoot enough times. I never thought about it until I learned the hard way. The amount of heat generated really startled me in my younger years. It was an accident, yet a lesson well learned, therefore, consider hand guards and other variations that double as rails where you can attach options like lasers and flash lights. As a side note, only use these at the exact moment you are going to fire, otherwise you are giving away your position. For other options such as hand guards, check out web sites like DPH Arms.

Some folks are shy about recoil. In addition to a recoil pad, you may want to consider a muzzle brake because they can reduce the recoil by up to 30%. With the Saiga 12 you can easily unscrew the threading at the end of the barrel and quickly affix a brake in a matter of a minute, and many options are available. Good brakes can be found at Carolina Shooter's Supply. One of the best muzzle brakes on the market is the competition brake which comes in two forms - #2 and #1 for door breaching, which is great for close quarters because of the pointed end. Another option for the Saiga 12 is the Tromix Shark Brake. It works as a muzzle brake, flash hider, and door breaching tool. For other accessories, you can visit Tick Bite Supply.

Specifically for the Saiga .223, you can find 30 round magazines for reasonable prices if you look. Here is one example of a normally $39.95 magazine that is being sold right now for $28.95 by Mississippi Auto Arms. For Saiga .308 25 round magazines, Mississippi Auto Arms has them for $39.95 per magazine. (That’s about $5 to $15 less than most sellers of this magazine.)

For the Saiga 12, here is a ten round magazine for $37.95 for places (such as California) where magazine capacity may be limited to ten rounds. The price offered here is considerably less than the normal retail of $49.95.

If you keep your eyes open, you will find some great deals for your Saiga needs. Here is some information, modified from a recently received e-mail detailed for purchasing a weapon. 1.) Saiga 12 gauge with 19 inch barrel IZ-109 @ $489 + shipping 2.) Saiga 12 gauge with 24 inch barrel IZ-107 @ $489 + shipping 3.) Saiga 7.62x39 rifle with 16.3 inch barrel IZ-132 @ $299.99 + shipping 4.) Saiga .223 rifle with 16.3 inch barrel IZ-114 @ 299.99 + shipping 5.) Saiga .308 rifle IZ-137 @ $489.99 + shipping 6.) $100 off any converted Saiga 12 gauge shotgun. (This example is Mississippi Auto Arms, Inc.) You will have to confirm these deals with Mississippi Auto Arms, however these are some stellar deals if you are serious about picking a Saiga (or several) while you have a chance. Can you imagine picking up three Saigas for the price of one Bushmaster AR-15?

Joe’s gun shop in Coal City, Illinois earlier this year was selling Saiga 12, 12 round magazines for $35. Also, he had the Saiga 12shotgun for $449 (plus tax, cash price) - of course you would have to work out the interstate details with him or find someone in your area. Joe’s phone number is( 815) 370-8002.

For the performance of the Saiga 12, you can watch free videos on You Tube all day long. Other than the prototype AA12 (the automatic shotgun that was developed for the US military, but never adopted), you will see why the Spetsnaz were marginally favored with this weapon compared to the Green Berets in computer simulated, combat scenarios on the Deadliest Warrior show:

Lastly, one key benefit of the Saigas is the “bang for the buck.” Many Saigas can be acquired for little money compared to other similar weapons. I have recently seen the Saiga .308 for as low as $479 (plus tax), the Saiga .223 for $335 (plus tax) and the Saiga 12 for $449 (plus tax). Again, talk with Joe in Coal City, Illinois. All of these are prices for "new in box" guns. Compared to the lowest I have seen the base model Mossberg 500 for $330 from Dick’s Sporting Goods, $449 for a tactical shotgun with magazines of 12+ rounds is pretty amazing. You do your own research of course. For an idea of what is on the market, see: GunBroker.com.

Check your laws before you purchase any weapon. Hopefully with the McDonald v. Chicago case regarding the gun ban in Chicago now being argued in the Supreme Court, the 2nd Amendment will be applied to laws within the 50 states.

As you plan ahead, maybe considering stockpiling these weapons, parts, and accessories. If things do get bad in the future, you will want these weapons as your disposal. Ultimately, the Saigas are very robust weapons and they will serve you, your family, and friends for many years to come.

Hi Jim,
I just heard about this, and although expensive it sounds like the perfect long term TEOTWAWKI light:

The 5.11 Tactical 'light for life'. It is a Capacitor/LED flashlight. Here are the basic specifications:

  • 90 second recharge time
  • 12 VDC recharging
  • 2 hour run time (step down 90/60 lumen - 1 hour each)
  • 270 lumen peak (90 normal)
  • 135 year life span
  • 100 yard throw

Thanks, - Greg W.

Eric S. sent us this: Peak oil production predicted for 2014; Predicting the end of oil has proven tricky and often controversial, but Kuwaiti scientists now say that global oil production will peak in 2014.

Steve H. forwarded this: Potential Impact of Japanese Hyperinflation on the US Dollar

From GG: China central bank sees dollar strength, global inflation

"Ben in Tenn." spotted this: Forget Greece...watch Cali. Here is a quote: "Isn't it ironic that according to the Controller of LA's biggest city, Cali may end up in a liquidity crisis sooner even than Greece. At least Los Angeles has undisputed access to the IMF - the only question is what shape the California austerity package will end up taking."

Items from The Economatrix:

Oil Prices Settle a Little Higher

Greek Borrowing Rates Soar on Market Worries

Gasoline, Oil Hit 18 Month Highs

Deflation on the Prowl as Bernanke Shuts Down His Printing Presses

Higher Steel Prices Signal Return of Inflation

The Three Horsemen of the Global Depression

 Alan E. sent us an article about Californians envisioning "The Big One."

   o o o

L.S. suggested a web site with some useful resources on Rooftop & Urban Gardening.

   o o o

I heard about a small company in Illinois called Eden's Way that is selling a "weed-free" and organic raised bed gardening system that reportedly will produce as much as four times more vegetables than other garden systems.

   o o o

Lynn G. forwarded this piece by Ronald Kessler: EMP Attack Would Decimate America

   o o o

Rufus sent this: Finnish post to open love letters, payslips in digital mail trial. [JWR's Comment: Hmmmm. I thought that Finland was one of the last bastions of individual liberty in Europe.]

"The spirit of liberty is not merely, as multitudes imagine,
a jealousy of our own particular rights,
but a respect for the rights of others,
and an unwillingness that any man, whether high or low,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In a "Schumer hits the fan” (SHTF) scenario where you need to get out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.), will your vehicle be up to the task? Is your cooling system robust enough to handle unusual demands? Are your fancy new wheels hurky enough to withstand off-road conditions? Is your vehicle ready to tow a trailer over rough terrain and for long distances? Is the trailer ready? We don't get to pick when the SHTF, so keep your vehicle ready! Here are some of my suggestions based on over twenty-five years in the automotive maintenance and repair business.

Catastrophic failures often begin as seemingly small problems, which lead to increasingly large problems, and ultimately to failure. On something as critical as your G.O.O.D. vehicle, it is important to trap “error chains” and address seemingly small problems right away, or better yet, prevent them from happening in the first place. I will begin by addressing the most critical systems, where failure would be most likely, and which would bring you instantly to your automotive knees.

Engine Cooling System
Face it, if your car your car overheats, you’re not going anywhere. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, I recommend you flush your coolant every two years (three years max), or 50,000 miles. The new "eco-friendly" long-life coolant (which is reddish) tends to be harder on engines than the old, pre-1990s (green) coolant. When the new coolant came out, we started seeing water pumps and seals leaking far more often than we used to. I have switched all my family’s cars back to the old green coolant. Beware, however, if your vehicle is still under warranty, you may void your warranty if you don’t use what the manufacturer recommends.

If you do switch coolant types, you cannot mix one type with the other. This is bad. The mixture will turn to sludge and sludge doesn't cool well. If you need to top-off, use water. If you switch coolants, be sure to completely flush the system (two times at least) using water, then refill with the old-style green coolant.

Don’t wait until belts and hoses fail before replacing them. If your vehicle is over five years old and/or has over 100,000 miles on it, replace all your belts and hoses. Consider it cheap insurance and prevent the first link of a catastrophic error chain.
Check your cooling system regularly and if you have coolant leaks, get them fixed!

Tires and Wheels
When was the last time you really inspected your tire pressure, tread, sidewalls (inside and out), and wheels (including the spare)? Do you carry a tire repair kit in your vehicle? Generally it is better to plug a tire and re-inflate it than fill the tire with a can of Fix-A-Flat. The kits for plugging leaking tires are in expensive and small and plugging is a stronger fix and won’t throw your tire out of balance. But you should still carry a can of magic tire juice for when you have to fix a flat in a hurry. Get a good quality 12-volt air compressor so you can re-inflate a tire. Small compressors have many other uses as well. Carry one.
You may need to tackle rough terrain, loose dirt, mud, or even cross rivers and streams. Traction in loose terrain can be improved if tire pressure is lowered to around 20 lbs.

When driving on under-inflated tires, keep your speed below 20 mph, or risk the tires getting hot and failing prematurely (most likely the sidewall will fail). Once you are back on solid ground, you can use your 12-volt compressor to re-inflate your tires.
Be sure you have a reliable jack and wrench to remove lug nuts. Instead of a cheapo universal lug wrench, I carry a breaker bar with the proper sized sockets for my lug nuts. Don’t leave this wrench in the garage—carry it with you.

A G.O.O.D. vehicle shouldn’t sport over-sized “bling” wheels, locking wheel nuts, or fancy aftermarket hubcaps. Over-sized wheels require low-profile tires. (“Profile” is the distance from the edge of the wheel to the tire tread.) I’ve seen low profile tires with less than three inches of sidewall on otherwise “manly” trucks! The problem is, if you have to go off-road or over obstructions or debris, low profile tires will not absorb the impact, and you will damage your wheels. Sell the sissy bling and put some money and testosterone into tires and wheels that are up to the task—or buy more ammo—but dump the bling!

Avoid locking lug nuts. Should you have to change a wheel in a hurry (assuming you can even find the wheel key) locking nuts will make the job more complex and time consuming. The odds of someone stealing your wheels--even in a SHTF situation--are slim.

Once you get your sturdy tires, have the vehicle aligned. Have it aligned every 15-to-20,000 miles. [JWR Adds: Or do so even more frequently, if you do a lot of true off-road driving, or if any drivers in your family have a tendency to bang their front wheels into curbs, when parking. Watch for signs of misalignment, such as uneven tire tread wear, or the advent of a tendency for the vehicle to "pull" to one side when driving on straight and level highways.] ] Rotate your tires about every 5-to-6,000 miles, and since the wheels are off, use this time to check the brakes and wheel bearings. If your wheel bearings are worn, replace them. If you have “packable” wheel bearings, pack them with clean, fresh grease and replace the seals.

Brake fluid should be flushed at least every two years. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water. When it does, braking efficiency decreases and you will experience brake fading on long stops. This can get quite exciting, especially if you’re towing a trailer! If you find that your brake fluid is low, and don’t have brake fluid to fill the system, do not add oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, or any other petroleum based fluids to the system. You can use water in an emergency. If you mix petroleum-based fluids into your brake system, the seals in your brake system will swell, rendering your brakes useless.

Make sure your brake pads have at least 50% pad life left, and if you need to replace them, don’t buy cheap pads. The little bit extra that a reputable brand will cost is worth every penny.

Ensure the technician checks that your brake rotors are true, smooth, and not too thin. Check the brake lines for leaks. If your G.O.O.D. vehicle is over ten years old, play it safe and replace all the brake lines. If you have drum brakes, ensure the brake cylinders are in good condition. If they are over ten years old, replace them.

My wife and I have a rule. We fill-up whenever the tank reaches half. This does two things—it lessens the chance of getting moisture in the fuel from condensation, and it ensures if there ever is a sudden emergency, we have at least half a tank to drive with.
If your “service engine” light is on, get it checked right away—it is on for a reason! It may be something as simple as a loose or worn gas cap. Replace the gas cap if you have doubts. Getting water in your fuel will put a real “damper” on things. If you have a miss-fire it can lead to other problems, such as failure of your catalytic converter. If your catalytic converter fails, it can plug your exhaust (just like a potato) and leave you stranded. This has happened to me—the converter, not the potato.

If your G.O.O.D. vehicle is driven infrequently keep the tank full and consider adding a fuel stabilizer.

Lubricating Fluids
Changing your oil and oil filter every three months/3,000 miles is a good rule of thumb (every six months/5,000 miles if you use synthetic oil). Many new cars have “oil life” indicators that monitor the condition of the oil, but not the oil level. Make sure you check the oil level at least every 1,000 miles, and if you think you may need to G.O.O.D. soon, change your oil—you may not have a chance to change it again for a long time.

Flush the transmission fluid every 30-50,000 miles. If your vehicle has a transmission fluid filter, change it at least every 100,000 miles. More often if you tow. Fix any leaks. If your transmission goes down, so do you.

If your vehicle is all-wheel drive, rear wheel drive, or a 4x4 change the fluids in the differential and transfer case roughly every 50,000 miles (or approximately every 25,000 miles if you tow). If your car is front wheel drive, the differential is part of the transmission, and serviced as part of a transmission service. Some vehicles require synthetic fluids, which are expensive, so brace yourself for the cost.

Gasoline engines should have their fuel filters replaced every 30,000 miles (15,000 miles for diesels). Some vehicles have permanent filters attached to the fuel pump (in the tank) which I don't like, but nobody asked me.
            Air filters should be replaced every 15-30,000 miles, depending on conditions.

Spark Plugs and Electrical
Most plugs now have platinum tips and don’t need replacing until around 100,000 miles, which for most vehicles is fine, but I replace mine at 80,000 miles—just because.

Make sure all your lights work (not only for safety but to avoid tickets and law enforcement stops). Be sure your lighter and other outlets work—you may need them to run your compressor or a spotlight.

Spares and Tools
Spares and tools should always be of high quality. If the thing cost $1 at a sale table, it’s probably not very high quality. In a serious G.O.O.D. truck, I advise carrying the following:

  • A set of both metric and standard box end wrenches, and sockets (Unlike the old days, many vehicles now use both standard and metric sized parts!)
  • An assortment of screwdrivers (Larger screwdrivers can double as a pry bars.)
  • Locking-type (push-button adjustable) channel lock pliers
  • Vise grips
  • Regular and needle nose pliers, and a set of hemostats
  • Ball peen and claw hammers
  • Spare fuses, several feet of wire, solder, and a butane powered torch/soldering iron (It is nice to have a propane torch as well.)
  • Extra fluids and lubes
  • Radiator “Stop-Leak” (In a jam you can use the white of a raw egg! Make sure the coolant is hot enough to cook the egg. As the white cooks and hardens, it will get stuck in the low pressure area created by the leak!)
  • Air, fuel, and oil filters
  • A spare belt or two
  • Extra hoses
  • Self-fusing silicone tape such as Rescue Tape. It bonds to itself permanently, withstands 500°F, and has 950 p.s.i. tensile strength.
  • Duct tape (man’s other best friend)
  • Super glue [Also known as Crazy Glue, Cyanoacrylate glue, or just CA glue]
  • Stainless and mechanic’s wire
  • A 6-foot+ length of ½” hose (for siphoning)
  • Roll of parachute cord
  • Spare keys, well-hidden

I hope you found these ideas thought-provoking and that this article motivates you to keep your G.O.O.D. vehicle maintained and ready, so you can indeed G.O.O.D. if you need to.

I've seen your posts about the L1A1 rifle and I'm asking you for some help. I would like to change the original flash hider, for a new one like the Vortex. But they make only 9/16 x 24 threaded devices with left hand threads [for Metric FALs]. Where can I buy an adaptor, or do I have to transform the barrel? Thanks for your help. - Philippe

JWR Replies: The original L1A1 military-issue flash hiders are actually quite efficient. (The only exception is the short Papua New Guinea ("PNG") variant flash hiders, which has about 20% more flash than with the standard "bird cage" flash hider.) Therefore, I'd recommend leaving your rifle as is.

But if for some reason you must put on a Vortex, then you'd have to re-thread the barrel. Keep in mind that this will detract from the resale value of the gun. If you do go aheabd nad have it re-threaded, then I suggest that you specify a 1/2 x 28right hand thread, for versatility. This is because there are lots of different 1/2 x 28 muzzle devices available. WARNING: You'll need to get a .30 caliber specification Vortex (the one made for AR-10s), or have a .223 Vortex drilled out to at least .328" (or any dimension slightly larger), for safe bullet clearance! Failure to do so would be catastrophic.

I really enjoyed the article on tracking by James K. Actually, I have enjoyed all of the articles in Survival Blog.
I try to test my tracking skill whenever I get the change and have been doing it for almost 60 years now. Besides the ones mentioned in the article another guide that I have found to be valuable is: Mammal Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North American Species, by Mark Elbroch. It was published by Stackpole Books in 2003. Unfortunately it was printed in China but of very high quality. (I prefer U. S. made products when I can get them.)

I sure wish that I had a book like this when I started tracking in the early 1950s.

Incidentally, I used my hard-earned tracking skills to great effect in Southeast Asia in the 1960s as a member of the Big Green Machine.

Thanks for a great Blog. From the end of the gravel road in very rural North Dakota, - Bob P.

This is in regards to the recent letter about the web site, Spokeo: T. in Oregon was right to be annoyed and worried about such a site. But, following their directions to “remove” your name from their DB is not accurate. The privacy link is merely a phishing link to verify your e-mail and your existence. Yes, once you do that your name will not show up for the free search, but it greatly expands their ability to gather info about you and anyone with $30 can get that information.

On a side note, I want to thank you for all you do. It is the Lord's work. God bless you and God bless your dearly departed wife. - Dan D.

Reader F.J.R. liked this piece over at the Lew Rockwell site, that includes some great audio clips: Gerald Celente: What to Do in a Crisis. The video clip includes his account of surviving the recent earthquake in Chile.

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Felix wrote me to mention that Michael Bane's The Best Defense: Survival! television series from 2009 is now available on DVD. The series features a number of subject matter experts, including SurvivalBlog's own Editor At Large, Michael Z. Williamson.

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Mike Williamson spotted this: Hunt fraternity has new quarry in sight: a Conservative government.

"People put up with the devils they know. They do not look for a lifeboat when they hear the ship's hull scrape the iceberg. They assume that it will be business as usual. Then, one fine day, it isn't." - Dr. Gary North

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mr. Editor:
Many nations around the world, including the USA, place great importance on Fuel Reserves as a Strategic National Resource. However, of growing importance and also greatly unrealized, is the fact that food reserves are at least as strategically important as fuel reserves to the security of any nation and maybe more so.

When thinking of a primary food reserve, one would assume that wheat is a major food resource of the USA, and it is. In 2009, the USA was responsible for producing 2.22 billion bushels of wheat. However, of growing national importance and a growing possible concern to the USA, is the fact that strategic reserves of food and therefore the security of the national food supply is being compromised.

It is also important to understand that in 2009 it was reported that in many agricultural sectors, food production declined not only nationally but globally. It is therefore relevant to consider that US food production capabilities may be declining at a time when oil based agriculture production is threatened with long term fuel price increases, possible supply reductions over time and unreliable market prices due to price manipulations internal to national markets.

It follows that it would also be relevant to consider that nations outside of the USA, already impoverished because of major shortages of commodities worldwide, would continue to further suffer and as a result, future US influence in these markets, geographic regions and with those regimes so affected would necessarily decline or lessen.

Environmentally, world shortages are the result of many influences, not the least of which is drought coupled with sales to market timing problems, shipping problems, increasing insurance to the supply side shipping problem and because of market price manipulations, standard food business practices and food distribution stratagems.

If strategic national reserves are not maintained inside the USA and if global capacity and therefore capability to produce food is reduced over time, then the ability of the world to feed itself becomes a chronic, growing problem.  Over time, this marginalizes the USA as a leading food exporter worldwide. Over time, the influence the USA has within world regions and sub-regions will be greatly diminished and its ability to provide humanitarian food relief worldwide will also be diminished. In addition, problems may be created within the USA’s own borders as the nation loses the ability to feed its own citizens, especially if environmental conditions were to worsen, or should some other catastrophic problem beset the agricultural industry of the USA as a whole.

Many variables come into play in determining the value of a strategic food reserve in the importance of national security. It is apparent that a surplus of food stored strategically inside the USA becomes a resource not only for national security, it becomes an asset is securing peace and stability beyond the borders of the nation as it becomes an aid for allies, secures global regions from famine and helps reduce or avoid altogether conflict arising from shortages or famine. - S.D.

JWR Replies: Where public officials have failed as a nation in recent years, we should take up the slack as families. I most strongly encourage SurvivalBlog readers to stock up on wheat, rice, and legumes in quantity. It is best to do so now, while they are still affordable. (They may not be affordable, if and when inflation kicks in, or if and when there are crop failures.) The food storage vendors that advertise on SurvivalBlog are all reputable. Some of them even specialize in bulk quantities of grain. Please patronize our advertisers first!

Mr. Editor:
I wanted to comment on the article "Understanding Hydrocarbon-Based Fuel": There is good info in this article but it really sells ethanol short. I think it will give preppers the misconception to stay away of ethanol.

I've been studying ethanol for a couple years. I run an oil burner I've converted, and intend to build a large still. My 2000 Ford F-150 will run 50% ethanol without issues. It will run 100% E-85 fine but the check engine light will come on because the oxygen sensor sees too clean of exhaust.

There are lots of false and manipulated statistics are intentionally circulated about ethanol. I agree with the mileage in an engine designed for gas, but the fuel versus food is spun misinformation.

The article dismisses ethanol as a viable fuel, when it is probable the only good option preppers have in an TEOTWAWKI.We should clarify ethanol's pros and cons.
Thanks, - W.G.B.

Last night on the news I heard a report about a new web site called Spokeo that combines phone book information, map info, personal info and social networking site info to create a profile for people. [It is an OPSEC threat.] I typed in names for my family and was surprised at the amount of info that was available. You can go to their "Privacy" page (linked at the very bottom and on the right) to remove a name. I did it this morning and it already took us off. Just to let you know in case you also want to remove your info. Happy Easter! He is Risen! - T. in Oregon

One more small tip on holsters, specifically the Blackhawk holsters with the single finger tension release. As an NRA Instructor who's taught many handgun shooters, I've seen problems with the release when someone is under stress, as in a practical range exercise. One of my fellow instructors showed me a small addition to the holster, which I have retrofitted on all of mine. Simply take a small piece of stair tread tape, sometimes called skateboard tape (which is essentially sticky backed sandpaper), and attach it to the area of the release that needs to be depressed to release the firearm. When indexing your finger during the process of drawing the firearm, the rough patch provides positive feedback and a reminder that you need to depress to release. In my neck of the woods, a one foot-long piece of the tape from the local hardware store was about $1.50 and will allow modifications to 12-to-18 holsters. - LVZ in Ohio

While concealed carry reciprocity [as recently discussed in the blog, with accompanying maps] is the best way to ensure legality of concealed carry in other states, it does not tell the whole story. For example, Washington state does not recognize a concealed carry permit from Idaho or Montana. However, Idaho and Montana honor one from Washington. If I was to only have looked at the Washington reciprocity page I would not have known that. I have found the best way to be absolutely sure it to check the individual states web site, but the previously given links did do a good job. - Travis H.

Thanks to IJS for sending this: Firestorm over wolf introductions erupting throughout Western states

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A reader mentioned the portable photovoltaic power systems made by Powerenz.com. They look interesting, but I haven't yet seen this gear in person.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us a video clip with a warning on contaminated imported seafood.

"The worst day in a man's life is when he sits down and begins thinking about how he can get something for nothing." - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

These are the opening words from the book The Tracker by Tom Brown, Jr. & William Jon Watkins: “The first track is the end of a string. At the far end, a being is moving; a mystery, dropping a hint about itself every so many feet, telling you more about itself until you can almost see it, even before you come to it. The mystery reveals itself slowly, track by track, giving its genealogy early to coax you in. Further on, it will tell you the intimate details of its life and work, until you know the maker of the track like a lifelong friend.”

Here is a coyote track walking inside an old wolf track in deep snow. We followed this for several hundred feet across a field not far from our house.

Ever since childhood I’ve been fascinated by those who could see history in the dirt. The ground was like the page of a book unraveling many mysteries for those who took the time to read it. In this essay lies the groundwork, the basics to get anyone started in a fascinating skill that has many practical applications. One of the most valuable is being able to back track your steps when you find yourself disoriented or wanting to return to camp in wilderness.

In a TEOTWAWKI scenario being able to track can be a valuable tool for being aware of what is happening around your area. Identifying game and knowing when someone has been in your neck of the woods will give you an awareness advantage.

Learning to track animals requires a lot of skill but it is a very rewarding endeavor to undertake. Tracking people is a good way to start your skill and far easier.

Dirt time is a phrase trackers use to describe time spent interpreting tracks. Like anything else the more dirt time you spend the more your skills and abilities will blossom.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s when I lived in Oregon and was part of the Search and Rescue (SAR) group there they used to hold seminars all over the state (and Washington) in various terrains. These exercises were with a certain man tracker named Joel Harding. Joel honed his skills over many years working border patrol on the US/Mexican border down around El Cajon, California. He was a master tracker. We would listen to him speak of skills learned over the years, look at slide shows of various sets of tracks each evening and spend most of the days tracking each other under his guidance.

A good way to begin is to find an undisturbed (undisturbed by recent human foot traffic) area and determine a course- say 150’ out to some prominent marker: a tree, rock, etc. Now before you start, tear up the ground and make a nice 2’-3’ diameter mound of loose soil. Take the person to be tracked and have them carefully place their feet & full weight into this mound- producing a clear set of tracks. Next have them walk in their normal pace out to the marker tree and then circle around coming back a different way.

It doesn’t hurt to take some field notes and sketch these first boot or shoe footprints in the mound. Look for any distinguishing features like tread, heel & toe shape, any wear. Now it’s time for your tracking stick.

My son Kody holding a tracking stick.

Take a ~1” thick relatively straight stick about 4’-5’ long and with your knife smooth it out. Find a natural stride area where the person being tracked is walking along and lay the stick down so the tip of the stick is on the heel of the left foot print (it really matters not right or left- but to match my photos for those who can see them- left.).

Here you have a right then left foot stride with the tracking stick laid out for measurement. The knife point is where you pivot the stick to find the next track which will lie right off the tip of the stick- in this case the left foot. The stick has two marked measurements: the length of the foot as well as the stride between the prints.

Now look behind this left foot print and mark on your stick where the right toe tip falls. This is the stride distance (tip of stick to right toe tip). You can cut a ring here on your stick, use a rubber band or marker. By pivoting the stick at this toe point while holding it over the last found track you can get a good idea where to look for sign on the next track. Now that you have the stride, next place a mark at the heel of this same right foot print. This marks the length of the foot.

As you track you will be able to tell left from right. You can mark these as you go along if you like. Knowing this you can anticipate and lay your stick down; sweeping it in such a way as to know almost precisely where the next foot will fall. In this way you can work on finding each track, marking them left or right as you go if you like. But don’t disturb the ground too much as occasionally you may have to backtrack. You will rarely find a whole print unless you have ideal conditions (like my photos). But there will always be sign for those who can see it.

It is important when first learning to find sign on every track. Pay attention to detail, forget about how long it takes. Get your face to the ground and visually check different angles. You will start to see many signs: dirt will sometimes be transferred from one area to another. Compression will cause the dirt around the track to lift, push out and crack, sometimes even explode out in compression releases. Scuff marks, partial tracks, pebbles pressed into the ground. Vegetation that is crushed, broke, bent or bruised. Flattened areas, disturbed ground. Dew, rain, dust or pollen coatings on the ground and on plants can be disturbed as the person walks by. As you acquire more dirt time many types of sign will reveal themselves.

A good way to learn what effect time has on a track and how a track ages is to find an ideal tracking area near your home and place a single footprint there. Now every day for a week or longer place another single track right alongside the last one. Keep notes on what the weather is doing. By comparing the fresh track to the older ones you can see the effect of wind, rain and temperature fluxes.

Rain is the great eraser in tracking. Many soils will give up anything obvious in the track with a heavy rain. In snow it is also important to know that with age tracks will “melt” out, that is increase in size as they decrease in detail. Old tracks on snow can sometimes fool even a seasoned tracker.

It can be easy- or very tedious to find the succession of tracks. Here are some tricks of the trade:

Work in groups of three. The point man is out front looking down intently and working his stick to find each track. The two flanks stay back a few paces so as not to disturb the ground ahead. The flanks look all around and out ahead for clues- offering them to the point man. Every 20 minutes or so rotate the point man with a flanker. This relieves tension on the point position and allows everyone experience in the point position.

Keep the track between you and the falling sunlight. This will yield the most shadow relief and contrast in the track- almost always making it easier to see. In flat light you will notice a big difference when the sun is on the other side of the tracks your looking at. A small mirror (or flashlight in dim light) will allow you to cast flat light (parallel to the ground) from a different direction.

Here is a fresh set of wolf tracks on fresh snow, the knife is 14” overall length with a 9” blade.

Don’t be in a hurry at first- that will come later. Some skilled trackers can follow their track while running, riding on the hood of a vehicle (the Masai tracker/guides are known for this) or even from a helicopter. When starting out pay a lot of attention to detail. Work slow and absorb everything the point man sees even if your in a flank position. Look at the terrain ahead and mentally put yourself in their shoes- which way would they most likely go?

Try placing your head close to the ground. This will give you a different perspective and help you see fine detail. By laying your eyes close to the ground and your vision parallel with the ground you can see things you’ll never see standing up.

Feel the tracks lightly with your fingertips. Sometimes under the debris or vegetation you can feel the heel strike or the edge of the compression. Loose soil under the surface vegetation can hold a compression of a track that you won’t see through the debris but you can feel.

A large sand box or area of loose soil near your home is a wonderful tool for studying tracks. You can see the effects of time and weather, try different techniques in laying out your tracks, and erase them easily to start over. Damp sand will offer an amazing amount of detail.

Snow, sand and soft dirt are usually easy. Grass leaves a lot of sign but one must learn through “dirt time” how to read it. Hard rocky ground will require a lot more skill. But there is always a track there- even over bare rock. Wind, sun, rain and changing temperatures will always be working over the rock. It will have some kind of film on it, grains of sand, dust and the rock itself. Wind will deposit dirt, pollen and a host of other particles. When something walks over that rock it will disturb this film and leave sign. Let me illustrate this with a story of something that happened to Joel on one of our SAR tracking seminars:

It was in the early 1980s during a tracking seminar near Walla Walla, Washington. An early Saturday morn and in a small nearby town there had been a jewelry store broken into. As Joel was conducting a seminar just outside this town and as all the law enforcement officials were well aware of his skills they came in the wee hours of the morning and got him and took him to the crime scene. There were footprints across the wet grass outside the store- through the early morning dew. Then they went down a sidewalk- transferring wet dew from the grass onto the cement. But then the tracks faded out for the officers- but not for Joel. With a flashlight in the early morning light he kept right on target, now going from the sidewalk to right down the street. About five blocks from the store, Joel and two armed officers banged on the door of a house. The man was so shocked when he came to the door in his underwear all he could say was “How did you know it was me?”

Start with the easy stuff and work your way into the more difficult. It is actually very entertaining, addicting at times. I think this is because people just don’t realize how much is there until they take the time to read the sign. Then this whole universe of knowledge starts opening up. The more dirt time, the easier it gets. And the more fun!

Just familiarizing yourself with the local fauna tracks of your area can be very rewarding. River, sea and lake shores often offer good areas to see clear animal tracks. Fall and Winter and Spring seasons in northern latitudes offer snow as a great tracking medium. Fresh snow is the perfect way to see new tracks and with clean, crisp detail. A camera can record great sign that you can share with others for years to come.

As a final note there are many good animal track books out there, and a few good human track books. I’ve listed a few below. Tom Brown Jr., in my opinion has some of the best ways to hone your tracking skills for animals. He has a whole series of field guides all of which have sound advice.

But as a Christian I must caution you to be aware of the [nativist] spirituality espoused in Tom’s books. There are good and evil spirits out there, and the only way you can discern the difference is through God’s Word (the Holy Bible), the saving Grace of Jesus Christ and His completed work on the cross. Only through a repentant heart and belief in Christ will the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the word of God keep you safe from the evil spirits that often come in the deceiving guise of "spiritual light".

Griz with hand print. Thumb to little finger is about 7”. We were hunting moose at the time and this bear followed our tracks for several hundred yards. On returning to camp and finding these tracks I was glad we brought a .45-70 along with our .308.

Now get your nose to the dirt and may your tracking be rewarding! - James K. in Alaska

References and Recommended Reading

Tom Brown’s School of Tracking web site.


Tracking: A Blueprint for Learning How by Jack Kearney, 1978, H. Paul Publishing Company

The Tracker by Tom Brown Jr. & William Jon Watkins, 1978, Prentice Hall Inc.

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking by Tom Brown Jr., 1983, Berkley Books

Tom Brown's Science and Art of Tracking by Tom Brown Jr., 1999, Berkley Books

Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks: Third Edition by Olaus J. Murie, 1954 Houghton Mifflin Company

Stokes Guide to Animal Tracking and Behavior by Donald W. Stokes, 1986, Little, Brown and Company

The SAS Guide to Tracking, New and Revised by Bob Carss, 2000, The Lyons Press

Tracking--Signs of Man, Signs of Hope: A Systematic Approach to the Art and Science of Tracking Humans by David Diaz, 2005, The Lyons Press

Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign by Paul Rezendes, 1999, Collins Reference

In response to the question on holsters: A couple of years ago, I read a series of articles by a man recalling his experiences in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He lived in a parish outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. After evacuating his family and letting the storm pass, he returned to repair/protect his home.
Upon return, he found a checkpoint had been set up at the entrance to his cul-de-sac by some neighbors that stayed through the storm.
His house was one of the 15 or so homes on this closed street. The homes were without power, had received wind damage, trees down etc.
As the other homeowners returned, they split time between helping each other repair their homes and “standing guard” at the entrance to the neighborhood.
Between them, they had enough “walkie talkies” for each of the men to keep in contact with the others, and it was suggested that each person comfortable with firearms be armed at all times. The guys at the “check point” were armed with long guns (and handguns as backup), while the “workers” needed to at least have their handguns with them.

One of the interesting points he made, while most of the men had a handguns, many of those weapons had only spent time in a gun safe, beside the bed, and/or at the range. There was not a shortage of weapons, but several of the men did not have a quality holster (in many cases any holster) for their handgun. As the writer was a “gun guy” he had a supply of old holsters to give out to his neighbors. Not having quality holsters for their personal weapons may not be an issue for the readers of this blog, I thought it was a lesson worth bringing up, and to keep in mind as each new weapons are purchased, or you see a good deal on a holster at a yard sale. It might be worth picking up even if it does not fit anything in your collection. - T.B. in Nashville

I wanted to add my two cents to the guy asking about holsters if I may. First of all, I would recommend looking at the newer "duty belt" style war belts. Tactical Tailor ("TT") is my favorite, although most manufacturers make one. These are cut in 2" width, making them easier to fit most any holster, and are considerably stiffer for a smoother draw stroke. (In conjunction, I would wear a soft ("MOLLE" web), 1 1/2" pants belt underneath it, with a plastic "tri-glide" buckle.) You can also add a pad to it, and/or light suspenders as required. Some pads give you MOLLE webbing, so if you are running these style pouches already on a chest rig or armored vest, you can use the same pouches on your belt kit. (The better ones have a slot in the bottom of the webbing panel to direct attach your holster to the belt underneath.)

For holsters, I am with you on the Blade-Tech product line. In fact, they just came out with a new model that has a hard plastic drop extension and a belt slot plate (with adjustable slots, from 1 1/2" to 2" I think). I picked two up recently, one with light, and one without. They come in several tactical colors, such as coyote brown and OD green, and has a "bail" or hood that rotates over the top to hold the pistol in place. To release it, you simply push inward, exactly like you open a thumb snap, so the motion is intuitive and quick to learn. I like them better than the Safariland 6000 series holsters they replaced, because they are unlined, and therefore can be used without a leg strap (the Safariland will pull up somewhat on draw stroke without a leg strap to hold it down). I guess the best description of them would be to call them "low ride" holsters. The top of the pistol sits roughly even with the top of your warbelt. I think this is an important consideration for those of us in rural settings that will be doing extended patrolling. In my experience, you don't want any kind of leg straps tying kit down to you if you are moving long distances over rough terrain. I found it very uncomfortable. Of course YMMV.

Of course if you want to run a drop leg rig with a leg strap, the Safariland 6000 series is excellent. For shorter duration missions they are the way to go. Or you can always just loosen or unfasten the leg strap for extended missions, and tighten back up when you rig for combat.

If you want to stick with a 2 1/4" pistol belt, then I think the Bianchi GI holsters are probably the best bet. Kinda fiddly and slower to draw or re-holster but serviceable. An alternative would be to take any good nylon holster (again I like TT) and velcro or glue in a kydex holster (like an old BladeTech IWB with loops removed). Now you have the best of both worlds. Best Regards, - Diz M.

In response to the letter about pistol holsters I thought I would add my two cents. I’m an NRA-certified firearms instructor in several disciplines and a reserve deputy sheriff, and I am used to carrying a gun and have tried a lot of holsters. I prefer a holster with some sort of retention rather than friction only, though I have used Fobus and Uncle Mike's paddle holsters that are friction-only retention. If you are not fighting for possession of your firearm, such holsters are just fine. However, a strap or other form of retention is definitely more desirable, particularly when physical activity might cause a pistol to come out of its holster. I like the Blackhawk SERPA holsters, it is secure and the draw is very fast. I haven’t tried the Blade-Tech holsters, but they look like good quality. One concern about the SERPA that has been brought to my attention is that in a ground fighting scenario the release might become clogged by snow, mud, gravel, etc. Just something to think about.

In any case, once you have chosen your holster it is time to learn to use it. The following is a compilation of training techniques that can be used to teach yourself to draw and fire. Picking up your pistol from the shooting bench and punching paper at the range is not the same as a combat draw, and many ranges will not allow shooters to draw and shoot, due to safety concerns. These techniques allow you to safely learn to draw and get on target at home. Let your muscles develop a memory of their own so you don’t have to stop and think about what you are going to do next.

Muscle Memory Training to Familiarize Yourself with New Holsters

1. Observe normal safety precautions: Unload firearm, remove ammunition from practice area, double check firearm. If another person is present, have them inspect the firearm also.

2. Ensure that holster is firmly attached to belt in proper position and that gun belt is secured to pants belt.

3. Visually and physically inspect firearm one more time, then holster pistol and secure all retention devices.

4. Stand facing safe direction (best that can be achieved) and bring both hands to interview position (loosely together as base of sternum, weak hand on top)

5. Move strong hand to pistol and form proper shooting grip. Position your trigger finger to be on the frame when gun is drawn. Make a fist with your weak hand and keep it against your chest. Do not draw! Start slowly; do not try to make this move quickly. As in martial arts, perfection of movement must come before speed.

6. Repeat 50 times, simply making the move from interview position to secure firing grip. Strive for perfection. Do not look at the pistol, memorize its position and make the move instinctively. Do not move on until securing the pistol in a firing grip without looking is natural and requires no thought. If 50 times is not enough, do it another 50 times until it is perfect!

7. Continue another 50 reps, but this time secure the weapon in a firing grip and release the holster strap or other security devices. Position your trigger finger to be on the frame when gun is drawn. Do not draw! Repeat as in #6 until you reach perfection. You are betting your life on being perfect, so do not go on until you do this without thinking or looking every time.

8. Start another 50 reps, this time after securing the pistol in a firing grip and releasing holster restraints, pull the pistol from the holster straight up two inches, and no more. The point at this time is simply to get a good firing grip, release holster locks, and begin the draw stroke. Make sure your trigger finger is indexed on the frame above the trigger guard.

9. Next 50 reps: Move from interview position to grip, release, and draw. Now bring the firearm to the center of your body where your weak-side hand joins your strong hand and forms a two-handed grip on the pistol. Make sure your trigger finger is on the frame above the trigger guard. Keep the gun close to your chest. No [tea]cup grips (with your non-shooting hand under the butt]. Instead, use what the pro’s use: thumb on thumb or both thumbs up [to form a "baby's bottom"]. During this draw stroke, the muzzle should generally maintain a downward angle. Not straight down, but below a parallel to the ground or line of sight.

10. Last 50 reps: Move from ready position to grip position, release holster retention, draw and center weapon, joining hands. This would be the time to unsafe the weapon, if you have a safety. Now, punch the gun straight forward, bring the elbows in and raising the gun to your line of sight. Do not drop your head, bring the gun up! You should be on target. From this point on, rotate your torso like a tank turret to engage targets to the left or right. Maintain trigger finger contact with the frame of the gun.

Maintaining Your Combat Draw Proficiency

Practice the above sequence regularly, but with less reps. It is important to spend lots of time on moving to the initial firing grip. I can not stress how important it is to get a good shooting grip, getting it every time, and getting it fast without thinking. Like all other skills, if the base is not solid, nothing else will be solid. I’ve seen shooters get a sloppy initial grip and when they drew their gun they ended up throwing it downrange. Not good! Imagine if your hand is freezing cold or it is raining, or you have been on the ground and there is mud on your gun’s grip. What if there is blood on your hand? Blood is very slippery and it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or somebody else’s. First things first – Get a good grip!

Why index the trigger finger on the frame and not on the trigger guard or trigger? You fight how you train, and the adrenaline rush of a real encounter can cause you to accidentally pull the trigger. What if it really isn’t a threat? What if a member of your group startles you? What if you shoot yourself in the leg as you draw? What if the gun goes off and distracts you from a real threat? Trigger finger placement is a safety issue for multiple reasons. Law enforcement trains to keep the finger on the frame until it is necessary to fire the weapon. A tenth of a second to re-position your finger will not change the outcome of a gunfight, but it could save an innocent person.

Now, I have only addressed getting the combat draw stroke down. Another really important skill is returning your firearm to the holster and securing it. This is basically a reverse of the draw. Remove your weak hand from the gun, make a fist, and bring it to your chest. Without looking, return the pistol to the holster and secure the restraints. Keep your weak hand at your chest until this move is complete. This is an important skill because while you are returning your weapon to the holster, another threat may present itself and necessitate bring the weapon back into action. You need to keep your eyes open for possible threats and not be looking at your holster. As the gun enters the holster, place your strong-hand thumb on the rear of the slide (semi-auto) or the hammer/backstrap (revolver). Use pressure from the palm and thumb to fully seat the pistol into the holster, then secure it with snaps, straps, etc.

Why fist the weak hand? Well, you don’t want it flapping around in front of you where you could shoot a hole in it. Just like indexing your trigger finger on the frame every time it gives you a safe place to put your weak hand. Secondly, by fisting your hand and bringing it tightly to your chest, you tighten the entire weak side of the chest and shoulder, which helps establish a solid platform for your strong hand to control your firearm. If the action is close, you may need to fire one-handed, and this will assist in controlling recoil, along with keeping your hand out of the way of the muzzle.

This is by no means a complete guide, but it should create a sound base to work from. If you change holsters or guns, start over from the very beginning. Practice like you are going to fight so you can fight like you have practiced. God bless, prep well, work hard, and stay alive. - Carl C.

Some good news: Christian faith: Calvinism is back. (A hat tip to Tom W. for the link.)

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Mike M. suggested: Urban Forager; A Bitter Green Bouquet. (Our thanks to Mike M. for the link.)

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This recently-posted bio was over-the-top. (I certainly don't belong at the beginning of that list, or perhaps even on it at all, since I'm from the subsequent generation of survivalists.) I'm only posting it because it includes a clip of one of my interviews where I give some practical advice.

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Lisa mentioned that Breadtopia has a link for a free sourdough starter available if you send a self-addressed stamped envelope.

"And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him." - Matthew 28:5-9 (KJV)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I just heard from my editor at the Plume Division of Penguin Books that another publisher has purchased the rights to produce a Korean language edition of my non-fiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". That is simply amazing.


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


Fuel supplies are essential for many aspects of modern society. Complex supply chains rely on hydrocarbon-fueled trucks, trains and planes to deliver food and other supplies in near real-time. Natural gas is is used to heat homes and fuel generators that supply approximately one-sixth of all electricity produced in the US. Large-scale food production is only possible with diesel-fueled farm equipment and synthetic nitrate fertilizers, made from natural gas.

It is not hard to imagine that anything more than a brief blip in fuel supplies would result in TEOTWAWKI. We have seen the result of Hurricanes Katrina and Ike on fuel supplies and prices. Some of us are old enough to remember the Arab oil embargo of 1973. Much motor fuel is transported by long pipelines which cross active earthquake faults and are also vulnerable to “man-caused disasters”. I once asked an oil company employee responsible for fuel supply logistics, “how vulnerable is the system to disruption?”. She replied they could handle one hiccup, but two sequential events, or one large event would bring the system down. In my opinion, the question is not “if” we will see fuel supply disruptions, but rather “when” and “how severe”.

For the “prepper”, fuel has specific utility beyond the normal. It is essential to have enough motor fuel for your G.O.O.D. plan. Fuel is needed to power generators when the grid is down and to run your rototiller or other farm equipment. In a “Mad Max” scenario, fuel can be used as a currency for barter or exchange. This article is a very basic primer on modern fuels, with an emphasis on gasoline (a.k.a. petrol). It includes information that would help the user improve the selection, use and storage of gasoline.

Crude Fractions

Most hydrocarbon fuel is derived from “crude” oil, which is a mixture of hundreds or thousands of different carbon-based chemicals. These different chemicals are separated, transformed and blended to form the the final fuel products which we purchase. Crude “fractions” are generally categorized by the number of carbon atoms per molecule, and mostly separated by their boiling properties. Approximate numbers of carbon atoms of crude factions are listed below:

C1 - Methane, natural gas
C2 - Ethane
C3 - Propane
C4 - Butane
C5-C10 Naphtha, Gasoline
C10-C16- Kerosene, Jet fuel
C10 C20 - Diesel, Gasoil
C20+ Heating, Bunker (Ship) Fuel, Cracker Feed

Most modern refineries have process units which take longer hydrocarbons, crack them into smaller molecules, separate them into the fractions above and blend them into the final product. This allows refiners to increase the fuel (distillate) yield above what is possible from separation alone. These “cracked” molecules have more unsaturated chemical bonds and are more reactive than “straight run” (non-reacted) components.

Other Components

Two other gasoline components are often included in gasoline, and are not considered cracked or straight run. These components are ethanol and alkylate. Either can run alone in a gasoline engine with little or no modification, but they have very different burning and storage properties. Understanding the difference can help the prepper obtain the right fuel for purpose.

Ethanol can be “created” by fermenting plant products (carbohydrates). Ethanol has two carbon atoms, but also contains an oxygen atom. This gives the molecule polarity, which makes it possible to blend with water in any concentration. As a gasoline component, it will absorb water easily without phase separation (think alcohol proof vs. oil and vinegar dressing). However, it is thermodynamically impossible to purify alcohol to more than 97% purity from water mixtures with distillation alone.

The extra oxygen atom in ethanol also means it produces less energy on combustion, since it is already partially oxidized. Ethanol blended gasoline cannot even be pumped through pipelines because its water absorption properties can corrode the pipeline. Ethanol is transported separately by truck and blended at the terminal. It’s use as a fuel, on a commercial scale, is rarely economical without government subsidy, and also competes with food production with normal sources of carbohydrates.

Alkylate is a refiner's name for 2,2,4 trimethyl pentane. It is the only major gasoline / petrol component in traditional refineries created by combining smaller molecules, and can also be run in a gasoline engine, with little or no modification. (A friend of mine in a British refinery recounted the experience of discovering a hose running under the refinery fence, connected to the alkylate tank, where operator(s) were helping themselves to the company’s product). It would probably be difficult to start an engine with pure alkylate fuel on a cold day, but that could be solved by a shot of ether before engaging the ignition.

Don't Be Fooled by Octane Numbers

When you visit the gasoline pump, you are usually offered three different “grades” of gasoline, differentiated by the fuel’s octane number. Idiomatically, octane is often associated with energy (e.g. high octane energy drink), but often the exact opposite is true. There are different scales of octane (RON, MON, Average/AKI) used in different countries, just like Celsius and Fahrenheit, but overall octane is simply a measure of the fuel’s propensity to burn without applying a spark. Higher octane gasoline is less likely to auto-ignite and sells at a higher price, simply because it uses more expensive components.

The disconnect between energy and octane can be shown by examining the properties of ethanol and alkylate. Alkylate has an octane measurement (MON) of 100, by definition. Ethanol, on the same octane scale, has an octane measurement of 102. However, the energy content per volume (using properties from Wikipedia) of the two fuels is very different. Ethanol has an energy of combustion of 23.5 kJ/m3. Alkylate has a value of 32.9 kJ/m3, 40% more than ethanol! The alkylate fuel would move you 14 miles compared to only 10 for the ethanol fuel. Unfortunately you can’t buy a tank of alkylate, but you can avoid ethanol blends when you want a fixed volume of fuel to last as long as possible.

Most gasoline in the US is transported by pipeline, especially for the population-dense East coast. This is done by sequentially sending and segregating alternate batches of low and high octane gasoline from the Gulf Coast. Medium-grade gasoline is a product which is only blended at the pipeline terminus. The consumer can save themselves the blending premium by doing their own blending in their own gas tank. Using an approximate “linear blending by volume” rule, 5 gallons of 93 octane mixed with 10 gallons of 87 octane fuel will yield 15 gallons of approximate 89 octane fuel. When I looked at the pump this morning, that is a savings of approximately $0.07/gal for 89 octane fuel. Of course, you can save yourself the entire octane premium by using low octane fuel, if your engine will take it, and you may even go further on the same tank.

Gasoline Degradation

Over time, gasoline can degrade and become unusable. There are three main mechanisms that make this happen, unequal vaporization, water absorption and gum formation.

There are two main seasonal formulations of gasoline in North America. A higher volatility fuel is sold in the winter in order to help vehicles start in cold weather. This fuel usually contains additional amounts of butane, sometimes up to 10%. In general, butane has less energy density than other gasoline components, and the winter fuel blend will generally result in less gas mileage than the summer blend.

The winter blend is also more susceptible to unequal vaporization, where the lighter components will evaporate more quickly than the heavier components, especially in warm weather. The summer blend of gasoline is normally sold between May and September, although the laws vary by location. The summer blend will result in less pressure buildup in closed container and less loss by evaporation. They only potential negative of the summer blend is not enough volatile components in really cold weather. The user can get around this problem by starting the engine with the winter fuel, and then adding the summer blend. Or the other option already mentioned is to use a squirt of ether before ignition. Avoiding swings in temperature will minimize the unequal evaporation.

Absorption of water into gasoline is best avoided by minimizing contact of the fuel with air. An impermeable metal container is best. The other method, mentioned above, to reduce water absorption in fuel, is to avoid any blends that contain ethanol.

Lastly, gum formation is caused by the oxidation of unsaturated hydrocarbons. Cracked gasoline, one of the largest components in the final fuel, is the main source for these reactive components. Formation of gums is caused when these components come in contact with oxygen. This can be avoided (again) by minimizing contact with air by storing the fuel in an impermeable, metal storage container. For long-term storage, oxidizing scavenging chemicals contained in stabilizing additives will help avoid gum formation.


Current gasoline products are not designed for long-term storage. It is in the oil company’s best interest to minimize inventory and speed the time to market. Unfortunately, that means there is no incentive to make fuel with longer shelf life. It also makes society more sensitive to supply disruptions.

However, the technology exists to make fuel with essentially an infinite shelf life. A mixture of alkylate and butane would probably meet all vehicle requirements and most government requirements (except for oxygenates). Such a fuel would also probably have an “infinite” shelf life. When I was a kid, my parents purchased an old home built before the civil war. In the basement was a kerosene storage tank that was still about half full of fuel. In 2004 I took my children to see the home that I grew up in. The current owners had had the tank drained, and found the kerosene still usable! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make gasoline that would last for 70+years. Maybe if we get enough of us together, we could convince a smaller oil company to cook us up a special batch of survival gasoline :-)


• Octane is not a measure of energy content, pay only for the octane that you need to avoid engine knocking.
• You can blend your own medium octane gasoline at lower price by just mixing appropriate ratios of low and high octane grades at the pump.
• Ethanol as an additive results in fuel with lower energy content, and more susceptibility to water absorption - avoid it if possible.
• There are two main seasonal formulations of gasoline. The winter formulation contains a higher amount of light components (butane), which will boil off more quickly at high temperatures.
• When storing fuel for the long-term, use a non-permeable material (metal). Store in a location that has constant, cool temperature.
• Use gasoline stabilizer, in addition to the steps above, to avoid gum formation in gasoline stored for long-term.

Reading your blog this morning, I ran across "Odds 'n Sods" item from Pete A. with a map on concealed carry changes over the years across these United States. Yes indeed, "Let freedom ring!"

This link brought to mind several sites that show reciprocity of permits between states. I think you may have shown some in the past, but with changes, an update may be needed. This could be invaluable to your readers who travel and/or are interested in relocating. Also, many states now offer "non-resident" permits. This is an easy method for expanding the areas in which you can legally carry concealed.

As always, check local regs before going as web sites may not update instantly as laws change. These are listed in alphabetical order not any basis of content or accuracy.



NRA-ILA web site - map

USACarry.com - map

Thanks for all you do. keep up the good fight. - B.N.

Michael Yon's recent photo essay and narrative on water supplies in Afghanistan is fascinating.

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Dr. Dean suggested this article: Invest in Precious Metals: Gold, Silver, and Lead, by Skip Coryell

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I just heard about a company called BePreparedNow.net They sell non-hybrid vegetable seeds and a few other items. Check them out.

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G.G. mentioned this: Survivalism in the Suburbs

"I am endeavoring to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins." - Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, in Star Trek, "The City on the Edge of Forever" (Screenplay by Harlan Ellison.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thanks to the generosity of our advertisers, more prizes have been added to the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest, starting with Round 28. These now include two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (A $275 value.)


Today we present the first entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I always assumed that I would relax when I retired from my life’s vocation. I have now retired from working; however, there is no relaxation. As I absorb the news of the day my other life long avocation, family survival preparedness, continues to plague my mind. The current probability of a societal collapse looms ever closer.

I am sure everyone concerned about their family’s safety understands the problems in America . I have been preparing for over 50 years to self sufficient that my family, including children and grand children, would have the ability to survive hard time and hunger.

However, something has happened the last few years that is going mostly unrecognized by family survivalist and all other patriots for that matter. The game has changed! The rules of preparedness are being radically altered, it is imperative to understand the course change. America has shifted from a legal nation to an empire (check your law dictionary).

It is true that my family has been relatively successful over the years in family survival preparedness. We met or surpassed the survival goals set 40 years ago. Suddenly, in the past few years, the game rules have changed causing a change in thinking and direction of survival planning.

We purchased an 1,100-acre ranch (very inexpensively), located on the high desert of the southwest region of the US in 1978. It has a small stream through it and a several hundred gallon per hour spring on the canyon wall. It was ideal for the purpose of survival. I took a full year off work and relocated the family from the city. It was an exciting time of our lives. We lived in a tent at first, until we had built something more substantial in which to live.

My wife had some funny female idea that the babies should take a bath every day; I can still see, in my mind, my 4 and 5 year old girls carrying their little buckets of water from the stream to heat over an open fire so they could meet Mother’s requirement of cleanliness. In the beginning, we washed clothes in an open washtub with water heated over an open fire.

Slowly, we built up a comfortable home that was self-sustaining; it was an evolutionary process that occupied several years. I first placed several 50-gallon barrels on the canyon wall and by mid afternoon, there was ample very hot water for bathing and washing clothes.

The spring was diverted into a six-inch pipe, by the time it dropped a few hundred feet down the canyon wall, we had 140-psi water pressure. We irrigate an entire acre at one time with a ‘big bird’ sprinkler. Of course, that really made the big house livable, once you get water under pressure it is a whole new world for the family.

There were several years of experimenting with water turbines for electricity, however, the cost of installation and maintenance soon become obvious, and that was abandoned in favor a 5 kilowatt motor generator. That became the standby for washing clothes and charging batteries in the winter. Of course, the most efficient rig is a diesel motor generator but that too is expensive in upfront cost and long-term maintenance. A propane driven generator is great to have also, but the escalating cost of propane has proven the old standby gas motor generator proves the most efficient.

Now, under the new rules of survival the possibility of gas, diesel, and propane disappearing is high, so we must think sideways. If you can get the water under a little pressure you can improvise a ‘home grown’ water turbine generator rigged from a purchase ‘Pelton’ wheel and truck alternators. It works well, but requires a lot of attention and the alternator wears down rapidly. Design the system where you can change that component easily.

Over the years, we built up a large solar system that provides the power for the house. In addition, satellite television has become the rage. That is a real blessing for the family. Then we developed the satellite Internet, which expanded our educational and information horizons tremendously. Out here, on the desert solar power is the best way to go, however, the weak link is the batteries. They are expensive and require a lot of attention.

That leaves wind power. Actually, it was not a hard decision; wind is not a player on the desert. But perhaps you will be in a more advantageous location. Wind is good, but it is also very expensive up front and wind turbines have to be maintained continually.

We have several fruit trees matured and producing. We have built up several acres of garden area.

Without the distractions of the city we immediately began home schooling all the children. It was the best thing that every happened. The children did not have to fight their way to and from public school. There were no drugs or teachers unions demanding more money and less work.

I ran out of money at the end of the first year, as expected, so it was time to go back to work. I encountered instant rebellion; no one wanted to return to the city. We had a house with all the amenities of a city home. The result was that I went back to work in the city alone, the family remained on the desert ranch. That was a wonderful decision.

Analytically speaking it was a good project, even the home schooling went well. One on my younger sons is now almost through medical school. We, of course, would never cater to the AMA doctrines but still we needed a doctor in the family so he is becoming a doctor to get AMA teaching plus natural healing concepts. Another son is about half way through his bachelor’s degree, I expect him to become a computer scientist and follow in his father footsteps.

All the children are successful hard workers, attributable to living and working away from the corruption of the city. As far as education goes, I cannot imagine any parent turning their precious children over to such a corrupt system, one that will most certainly turn them into ‘functional illiterates’.

The children are grown now and I have a bevy of grandchildren wanting to go the ranch. And, that brings us to the immediate problem. We did what we did because of our desire to be free and raise our children outside the non-Christian society of the cities. I always had in the back of my mind the possibility of a survival crisis of some sort, however, I was able to function in society as it stood and stands to this point.

I have always been a student of history and eschatology and, believe me; something has changed in our country and society almost overnight. I will not bore you with details of the analysis but please be assured we are the verge of national crash that is going to rival the Roman Empire crash. It is going to happen! Do not believe me, take the time to study and read, your conclusion will most assuredly be the same as mine.

With that in mind, may I make a few suggestion learned from many years of playing this survival games. I think it will surprise some of you.

This crisis is going to be far too severe and to long to get through on your food storage alone. Whoa, does that shock you? Study and think about it for a few moments. It is true you must have as much food storage as possible, but that will not be enough! You will not be able to store enough food to get through the upcoming holocaust. You must have non-hybrid seeds stored away. They will be worth their weight in gold and you will need them to feed your family. You must have enough hard storage to survive a year or so until you can get a family garden going.

I will go so far as to say this, right now, this year start a family garden. If you live in a home, dig up the yard and learn how to grow a garden. If you do not have dirt immediately available, find a spot. Talk to your neighbors, look to you community for a garden spot. If you are close enough to the country, go find a farmer and cut a garden deal. The important thing is to put some seeds in the ground. Growing food in an acquired education and you are going to need to know how to feed your family when your food supply is gone.

Start educating yourself, stay current on news. The people that intend to destroy this country are becoming very arrogant, they sense victory is near. Turn off your sports television, put down your can of beer and learn to read the news, they are telling us in advance, what they are going to do.

I thought this issue of Frontline was good. It had really good footage, and provided lots valuable exposure to real-world disasters. Particularly interesting was the type of medical treatment being employed there immediately after the disaster, amputations with no anesthesia for instance. I've decided I need to expand my first-aid kit after watching it. - Jeff M.

It appears that the precious metals bull market is resuming his run. I stand by my long-term predictions. Once again, buy on the dips.

Michael W. sent this: Nickel rallies to 21-month high. As I've written before: Save your nickels! (They now have a base metal value of just over 6 cents. But just wait until the next Era of Inflation kicks in. Mark my words: Nickels will eventually sell at 3X, or 4X their face value. )

Rob C. mentioned an interesting audio interview with Andrew Maguire and Adrian Douglas. They describe the 100:1 naked leverage being used in the LBMA's "unallocated" paper metals market. Talk about a house of cards!

El Jefe Jeff E. sent this: ADP Says U.S. Companies Unexpectedly Cut Payrolls. Jeff's comments: "This is most insane thing I have ever seen. Mainstream media outlets continue to be “surprised” and deteriorating financials are seen as “unexpected”. What planet are these guys on? Where have they been? On what basis, financial, economic or political, do they think the economy can possibly get better? The Democrats have just socialized medicine, banking, brokerage, student loans, the auto industry and threaten to do the same with energy. They have capped Americans’ earning potential. The socialists have just passed the largest spending bill and tax increase in the history of the country ([nationalized] health care)..."

Reader RBS liked this piece by Robert J. Samuelson: With health bill, Obama has sown the seeds of a budget crisis.

Items from The Economatrix:

Bob Chapman: Credit Crisis and Outrage Far From Over

Peter Schiff: Very Good Reason to Believe Home Prices Will Collapse

Tax Horror: White House Secretly Passes Currency Controls

US Stocks Fall as Jobs, Purchasing Data Signal Slower Growth

CME Working with Fannie, Freddie on Swaps

US Postal Service Eyes Dumping Saturday Delivery; Will Cost 40,000 Jobs

Follow The Money (The Mogambo Guru)

I've only had one speeding ticket in the past 12 years, for driving 32 is 25 zone. Wouldn't you know, I got it in a locale that I just recently found precisely described at this handy site: The National Speedtrap Exchange. (Thanks to K.T. for the link.)

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Interactive US map on concealed carry changes over the years (Thanks to Pete A. for the link.) Let freedom reign!

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And speaking of maps, Ben H. suggested the "This is Where We Live" map of the U.S. that was published back in 2006. Be sure to click on the various black interactive buttons. This is a good resource for helping you pick retreat areas. It certainly illustrates my oft-repeated point about the higher population density of the eastern United States.

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A SurvivalBlog reader recently launched a new Patriots Club for kids, that I believe would be of particular interest to homeschoolers.

"Never go anywhere without a Plan B." - Michael Ironside as Ham Tyler in the original television series "V"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

And the winner is...

We've completed the judging for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The judging was very difficult, since there were dozens of great articles submitted!

First Prize goes to Dan in Oklahoma for his four part article: The Home Foundry, Metal Casting, that was posted in February, 2010. He will receive all the of the following: 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 goes to Blake in Arkansas, for his article: The Art of Humping a Pack, that was posted on February 27, 2010. He will receive a "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize goes to R.Y., for his article: Radio Communications for Retreat Intelligence Gathering, that was posted on March 7, 2010. He will receive a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

There were also a lot of great "runner up" articles. I'm sending the following eight writers some free books. They are:

They will each receive autographed copies of both my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" and my latest non-fiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It".

Note to the prize winners: Please e-mail me, to let me know your mailing addresses. Thanks, and congratulations!

Round 28 (that begins today) will end on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Jim Wesley:
Today it is as difficult for a person to fathom gold at $5,000 per ounce as it was for a person to fathom $1,000 per ounce back in 2002.  After all, hold a Krugerrand, in your hand and try to imagine it being worth the purchasing power of $5,000 – enough to buy a good running, nice looking used car.  

Dollar predictions of gold are naturally what a prudent investor considers -- today’s Internet articles find predictions ranging from “headed  back down to $500” to “heading up to $6,500 in the coming years”.  I must admit, I have been caught up in it since I jumped in [when spot gold was] at $395.  But recently, I have been of a different mindset.  Forget about dollar exchange; that will only confuse the issues.  The way to fully understand and appreciate the value of gold should be / will be in it’s ability to exchange for goods and services.

The day cometh when confidence in the dollar will evaporate – it’s already fading worldwide.  Last in the world to recognize and accept it will be Americans.  But they too will wake up to the reality that their paper dollars are little more than paper promises from a government known more and more for breaking their promises.  We are surely headed for double digit inflation and there are strong arguments for hyperinflation.  Gold and silver will be recognized worldwide as the store of wealth – almost all currencies will be suspect.   Unfortunately, for the masses, it will be too late. 

Soon – I suspect within a year -- gold and silver will jump significantly in value.  I believe the rise will be faster than the rise from $1,000 to $1,224.  I can imagine a string of ~5% days that result in a $200 move in spot.  That will definitely grab media and public attention, but most will not jump in – waiting for the price to fall back.  Instead, after a small consolidation, it will again jump by another couple hundred dollars.  Exciting!   But more important to your well being is to realize – this scenario means – the separation of the value of paper gold and real gold.   You will have a heck of a time getting your hands on hard metal.  And most of the people you know will have stored none of this new (old) money. 

Don’t get me wrong, gold and silver will have a dollar equivalency, so you will be able to make exchanges.  You will still be able to go to Kitco and get the spot price for precious metals.   But the Central Bank manipulation game will be crumbling; supply and demand will dictate pricing and it won’t be pretty for many.  You won’t be able to buy an Eagle anywhere.  You can order it, but you won’t be able to get immediate delivery.  You’ll pay up front with no committed delivery date – only estimated.

Fair market value for products and services will be up-in-the-air as well.  For example, a truck (valued at $25,000 in 2007 dollars) might bring $10,000 or $6.500 or $14,000.  Depending upon how useless the truck has become to the owner and how desperate he is for cash.  You might be able to hire a $25.00 / hour carpenter for $50 per day.  You might buy a $250,000 (2007 pricing) property for $100,000.  The price for products and services will be – whatever you can get! 

Forget about dollars.  I might be able to exchange two of my ($395 cost) Krugers and a couple rolls of [silver] quarters for the truck.  And both parties would be pleased with the sale.  One pre-65 dime might buy a loaf of bread; a quarter might buy a T-bone steak; a silver dollar – a bag of groceries.  I can see the carpenter willing to work under the table for a silver quarter per hour.  Still receiving unemployment in paper dollars, he/she wants some ‘real’ money for the family.  Gold and silver will be in greater demand than paper dollars.  You will go to the front of the line if you are buying in either.

What kind of world would this be?  Pension plan failures leaving millions of retirees without income, 25%+ unemployment leaving millions of young families in dire straits, the Dow at 5,000, bond market failure, further collapse in the residential housing market, unbridled monetization, state defaults, collapse of the division of labor, $7.00 gasoline, high food prices, abandoned malls, abandoned sections of cities, rationing of necessities, and a lot of social unrest.  This world will leave the average citizen in a heck of a bind; desperate for day-to-day necessities.  They will have lost their purchasing power; lost control of their lives.

Does this sound absurd?  Do you think you just read the ranting of some nut?  Is there a doctor in the house?  Study the charts – study history – open your eyes.  The status quo is history.  We are in transition.  Get ready.  Don’t freak out – just get ready!  If you want to preserve some personal/family wealth, then get out of the dollar – fast!  In our immediate future, if you want to purchase items of value – you will need to exchange something of value.  I’m betting on gold or silver? - M.R.B. in Oregon

I have been perusing the articles on SurvivalBlog.com on assembling a set of web gear. The part I am stuck on is selecting a holster. I have an LC-2 web belt that I want to put the holster on, which requires a holster that can be strapped on to the belt since most holster loops won't slip over the plastic buckle. I've looked at the [Bianchi] M12 holster that is issued by the US armed forces for the [Beretta] M9 [and M1911], which is designed to strap onto the LC-2 belt. I also read on your site that you recommend Blade-Tech holsters, though I can't tell which model/accessory would allow their holsters to attach to an LC-2 belt. I have also been looking at the Blackhawk SERPA holstersbecause they have "Level 2" retention. I don't know if it's a marketing ploy. The security forces guys in the Air Force seemed to like them and my concealed carry class instructor also recommended them.

In short, what's your experience/opinion of those holsters and can you tell me which model(s) actually are able to attach to the LC-2 belt. If it helps, I carry a full-frame Glock semi-auto pistol. - Andy J.

JWR Replies: For many years, the members of my family and several of our friends carried Bianchi M12-series holsters, with a thumbsnap conversion. (Full flap holsters are too slow for practical use.) But as Kydex holster designs improved, I eventually switched to the Blade-Tech brand. The Blade-Tech belt holsters will fit a standard GI pistol belt, but they must be disassembled (un-screwed) and re-assembled, to fit.

I've come to the conclusion that Kydex holsters have several advantages:

First, unlike leather or woven nylon, they don't retain moisture. When they get wet, you can just wipe them down and they are dry in minutes. But leather and nylon holsters can take hours to dry. This is particularly important with blued steel handguns. Stainless steel and pistols and Glocks (with their impregnated Tenifer finish) are less susceptible to rust. Since the Bianchi M12 holster is constructed as a multi-layer sandwich, they can take almost as long as a leather holster to dry out.

Second, many nylon holsters lack the requisite stiffness from the outset, or they lose their stiffness over time. This might not sound like a big deal for causal shooting, but under stress, you will need a holster that will keep its shape all the time. This is crucial for re-holstering. You need to be able to re-holster without fumbling or looking down. Especially when you are transitioning between your handgun and your long-gun, a lost couple of seconds could mean a lost life. Stiffness and uniformity of belt position is also an issue when you are engaged in heavy physical activity, such a crawling, scrambling over rocks or fallen trees, and so forth. In my experience, because the Bianchi M12 has a thumbsnap that is cumbersome to re-secure. And because the holster has a shallow throat, and it can flex, it is possible for an autopistol to "cam out" of the holster--for example if the butt of the gun is caught on a branch or a large tree root. Needless to say, this can be more than just embarrassing, in a real-world shooting situation. I now recommend only holsters that have a solid purchase on the piece, all the way up to and including the triggerguard.

With that said, there are some applications where I actually prefer leather or nylon holsters--especially concealed carry. Because Kydex has no "give" to it, these holsters can be uncomfortable for concealed carry. Moisture retention is still an issue, but then again, handguns with stainless steel and other rust-resistant finishes are the way to go.

Just a quick note. [In his article on home chemistry,] RPM suggests acquiring some Pyrex measuring cups and bowls for handling hot liquids & mixtures. Pyrex is no longer made from the low thermal expansion Borosilicate laboratory glass. The trademark name was sold to a Chinese firm and the glassware is now made from regular soda lime glass [you can tell from it's bluish tint] - and may shatter from rapid changes in temperature.

People around the country are being injured from the "new" Pyrex as it literally explodes on their stovetops. This is corporate greed at it's finest! - Glassblower in Colorado

Dear Mr. Rawles:
Having read the article “Some Home Chemistry Tricks of the Trade, by RPM” I thought I’d add my two bits worth to the conversation. This is not meant to be a critique of the article but a bit more information on the application of stills. When talking of stills, most people will assume “alcohol” and in that application, the rendering of spirits can be dangerous and deadly if not done in a safe manner. This means a proper container to start with… IMHO the use of a Juice can will not cut it, nor an open flame to “cook” it with. At a minimum a converted pressure cooker should be employed as a means to boil off the alcohol (cook the mash) and the collection and containment of the vapours must be absolutely leak proof. Anything less is a recipe for disaster. I would direct your readers to this site. The site contains valuable information in the art of spirit making. Thank you for producing a great site. Sincerely, - Jim K.

J.K. sent this article that gave me a bit of Northern Exposure reminiscence: Move to Northern Minnesota and get $240k? J.K.'s comment: "Unfortunately you have to be a dentist. If I was one I'd be 'chomping' at this opportunity."

   o o o

Ron. R. sent this: The kitchen is my closet; Meet the kitchenistas — New Yorkers who store their clothes in ovens and fridges. Ron's terse comment on this ingrained lack of preparedness: "It won't end well in Manhattan."

   o o o

The DVD of seasons 1 and 2 of the British post-pandemic television series "Survivors" will be released on April 27th by BBC America, in North American DVD format. While hardly a textbook--as there are many blunders--many people will find it entertaining and thought-provoking.

   o o o

Mark B. sent us a link to the latest from Nanny State Britannia: Pet shop owner fined £1,000 and told to wear an electronic tag... for selling a Goldfish to a boy aged 14. Meanwhile, we read: Moped rider invents flamethrower. (And of course he was soon after arrested and charged with a "weapons offence.") Just as a point of reference, the agricultural flamethrower that one of my old neighbors in Idaho owned shot flames as much as 25 feet. His problem was not the sheriff's department--it was that too many neighbors wanted to borrow it each Spring.

   o o o

Utah governor okays eminent domain use on federal land. (Thanks to Pete A. for the link.)

"Don't look like a Snicker's bar if you don't want to get eaten." - Clint Smith, founder of the Thunder Ranch shooting school

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