August 2010 Archives

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Did you ever feel as if you predicted the future? Read this: Investors Head for Bunkers, Driving Up 'Shelter Shares'. Here is key quote: "If it's the end of the world, what do you buy? Canned foods, guns and the generators," said Keith Springer, president of Capital Financial Advisory Services. "There are a huge number of people who feel this is the end of the world."

To stay ahead of the next market trend, my advice is to move out of dollar-denominated investments and into tangibles, such as productive farm land, guns, ammo, and precious metals.


Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

As a regular reader of SurvivalBlog, I have found a fountain of information to be gleaned from the many great writings posted on here and wanted to quickly say thank you to all those who write in with their thoughts and experiences. 

What I wanted to share was something that I experienced recently.  I found in all my prepping and plans something I had not realistically considered.  I have considered the possibility of many scenarios for a long time but I think it has been in just the past few years that I have felt that things are rather precarious.   I guess one of the biggest things to influence me was my Grandmother, she would tell me stories of the Great depression and how the family managed to get by during the “lean years”.   Keeping her words and stories close to my heart I began more recently to really get my preps in line.  I have a very rural retreat property that someday I hope I can move to but in the mean time, I try to keep things on track here at home.  I have a small farm and I think it is coming along nicely toward being self sufficient but I actually feel we live a bit too close to a big city for me to view it as the retreat I would like it to be.  We raise chickens and goats and have a nice garden that I can most of the things out of it.  I put up a pretty nice amount of stored food. 
I thought I had already taken into consideration many scenarios and issues that might arise during tough times including family and close friends that might appear on my door step in an emergency, and while; some I am certain will come with some supplies, there are others… they are the scoffers that would undoubtedly show up just in time knowing we were prepared.  I thought I had covered all of this with my calculations and figures.   I thought about those I know and who would travel a great distance to arrive here and how much food would need to be stored.  I have lots of calculators to tell me how much of what I would need to sustain these extra people and I was seriously thinking I was in pretty good shape as far as being on a good track.
Until a few months ago, when all of a sudden we had a house full of people, all of whom were unemployed which meant they brought into the house little to nothing in the way of help for food, utilities or even in some cases labor around the farm. 

The first few weeks we would just make due and I would make what I could for meals with much of what I had here in the house augmented by frequent trips to the grocery.  Even still it was difficult to keep food on the shelves, things started to get sparse real fast and much to my chagrin I found that my preps were suffering under the strain of the added mouths to feed, Not only  could I no longer afford to add to my preps but they were dwindling at an amazing rate.  But the most frightening thought that came to me was if it all went this quickly all the while augmenting our needs with grocery store runs, what would happen when we could no longer do this? When there was nothing to be had at the grocery store?   This thought was very troubling for me and I began to feel woefully unprepared and foolish at thinking that this could be so easily a task to prepare for.  I found that this issue is much more complex than just putting up a few extra things for the unexpected house guest.

In my panic at watching my years of work disappear right before my eyes, I began to ferret away supplies to other parts of the house, I had a trunk which held my wedding gown for years, I moved the gown to a box and this trunk now became my new food storage area, my bedroom closet now held my liquor cabinet and ammo and even behind books on the bookshelf you might find a can of soup or box of Jell-O.  I at that moment realized the “why” of having some caches, I recalled that I had read in Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. The protagonist, Randy Bragg, had put away a trunk full of things and this motivated me to think more about how to put up these “Extra” things.  So as I began my hide and seek with food stuffs, I began to try to put things into these places but now with a clear organizational pattern.   I considered what each person was doing to contribute to the house  but when I spoke with our “guests” about our feelings with regards to the current state of things and the need for them to pitch in even if it were to only weed the garden, it turned out that often times they would scoff at our “doom and gloom” and avoid us or turn up missing when it was work time, but they never failed to be present when it was dinner time or when it came time for us to go to bed.  This is when they would “raid” the cupboard, which is how I discovered what was happening to the food.  There were a number of offenders that would pilfer from the cabinets when everyone was sleeping.  This brought me to my next realization, that you can’t expect that these guests will be honest.   If someone feels like they are not getting enough they will steal it.   I first thought I should lock the cupboards but that is so harsh.  It was then that I decided I would simply keep it all out of the cupboards and pull out what I needed as I needed it.  Having experienced this I have decided to permanently keep most of my food preps in stashes about the house noting the date the stash was established and in using these would completely empty the stash into the cupboard and replenish with a new date (rotating the food in larger quantities).  This is actually working well as I replenish an entire week or two’s  worth of food in an instant and it is just part of my regular shopping (which always includes a few extra of this or that as well) but now as I shop, I take all that I just purchased to the trunk or box, remove the contents of the cache and insert the “new” groceries and place the cached items on the pantry shelf, I then note the date of the switch and move the cache to the bottom of the list.

Add to all of this the little idiosyncrasies that come with cohabitation.  If you can, just imagine how annoyed I was that a whole roll of toilet paper that was used by only two people took only a matter of a day or two to disappear, I began to wonder what they are doing with it.  Eating it? Thankfully No, but  I came to find that my son’s girlfriend was using it to take off nail polish, makeup, wipe the sink off and anything else she wanted to wipe or dab.  Before I had even realized it twelve big packages of toilet paper were missing!  All I could think was: "Have any of you ever heard of a rag?"

This is but a small example of the usage and the lack of knowledge, but there are other things to ponder that we never thought of until it was staring us right in the face.  Like the septic system, ours, which is okay for about 4 people could not sustain with 9.  We were selling eggs from our 35 chickens but now we could not keep enough eggs in the house for some reason, all of these things made me think of the resources and strain additional people bring into the picture.

 Where this brought me was the realization that while one might think about the thief that comes to take your preps after the SHTF, whom we would of course promptly run off with our defenses.  And this is because we have taken a good bit of time thinking about how to keep these unsavory types out and how to keep our location safest.  But, how do we deal with freeloader family members?  The ones that show up on your door step tattered and sad looking, who will it be?   Your brother?  Your mother?   Your child?  These people will assume you have it all going on and will be looking to you to “fix” things for them. 
At some point in all this it dawned on me that this is a lesson I am to learn, that in all likelihood this is something that not might happen but will happen.  We will be overrun with friends and family that will be looking for what they view as salvation.  Granted there will be those who show up and you are glad to see because you know they will be less of an inconvenience and more of an asset.  But really, do any of us think that if our freeloader child shows up we will turn them away?  How could we?  So now what do we do with this dead weight?  Not to mention that after reading “"Patriots" by James Wesley, Rawles, I and few others realized that a group of like minded individuals would better weather such storms than those going it alone.  Well now, what is the rest of the group going to think of your freeloader relative?

I have taken some time to think these things through and a few conclusions came with amazing clarity.  First, I have discovered that, no, I do not believe that I or my fellow group members could turn away family.  So I began to think about how to handle the “freeloader”.  And a verse from 2nd Thessalonians comes to mind, from the New International Version Bible: For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:10.) Going on that premise, I began a chore list where each person had chores to do each day, everyone was assigned a laundry day (which incidentally we removed the washer from the septic to a gray water area that we used to irrigate the garden) if a person failed to be bothered with laundry that day you were to either go dirty or go to the laundry mat.  Everyone had indoor chores as well as farm chores and this really made a difference in my irritation levels.  I would cook a generous meal we would all sit at and eat and then at the end of the day, everyone was locked out!!  Okay, okay I know this sounds awful, but we have the extra bedrooms in the basement which has a separate entrance and bathroom so they were only locked out of the kitchen, thus prevented the pilfering during the night.

It was amazing how quickly they began to get jobs and even moved out. Since this time I have thought about how to accommodate these people without alienating others in our group that will help to establish a set rule when it comes to the dynamics of a group and how to handle these unexpected persons.
We discussed ways to assign levels to each grouping of individuals that would best accommodate these people and the needs of the group while maintaining a clear hierarchy or chain of command.  Which I believe is important not only for the smooth running of things but also for each person to understand their role in things (no need for the alpha male or female instinct to take over).  While it is a bit cut and dry and I think in need of more work as there is always the exceptions to these things, here is what we are doing to best outline these persons, their needs and what they can offer in such times.
Level 1: the operations level this level is our main group!  These people have been working on our preps and skills for some time and are the ones with supplies and a specific skill set.  These people are the ones that we chat with, work with and plan with for the inevitability of SHTF.  Each person in this level has a clear idea of their role and expectations in the eventuality of bad days.   No expectation need be set.

  • The property owner
  • The skilled expert

Level 2: this level is the persons that have not actually become part of the group but are still well ahead of the curve with their preps and needed skills.  Each person in this level is most likely the "go-it-aloner" who did not want to get together, but found that for any number of reasons they need to ally themselves with a group.  While these people will most likely be an asset a skills assessment and work allotment will be necessary.

  • Family member with skill & prep
  • Other persons with skill and prep

Level 3: This level is the persons that show up with either some kind of preps or skills but not typically both, minimal need or very willing to work.  Each person in this level has something they can offer even if it is to weed the garden and while a family member will be given preference, there are no guarantees the other persons can be accommodated or integrated.

  • Family member
  • Other persons

Level 4: comes knocking with neither skills nor preps but is family, this person is typically the freeloader and will not work or offer anything.  While I believe it is necessary to do for ones family, it will also be the family members that must pick up any slack or share their food and things with this person.

Level 5: comes knocking with neither skills nor preps  - a refugee (frankly this level, would most likely be sent on their way with a couple of cans of food and some water. )

Each person will need to be assessed to determine where they can best fit in with the group and if they want to eat they will work. Anyone can weed a garden.  Everything is to be done using the level system.  However you choose to utilize it, the insurance that those who “show up” will do their share is important to the whole group, no one wants to just give away their hard work and will resent it if they have to especially if it is not even their family. 

I found that while we had our “guests” visiting there were some things that I could recognize as qualities that would be useful, my other son’s Girlfriend could eat more than anyone I had ever seen before in my life and was sneaking food all the time and this was profoundly distressing for me, however I began to see she loved to work in the garden, tending it fastidiously.  Once I locked up the food I began to see her as an asset more than a liability.  I believe that everyone can pull their own weight if they have to but I would hate to have my sister arrive on the door step with family in tow barking out demands to someone simply because her family owns the land.  With a system that clearly defines a role of each person, each person can be a useful integral part of the community without the strife the can often follow!

Dear Jim:

Amid decisions about planning to weather the storm after TSHTF I see people dangerously narrowing their strategy options. They are putting all their eggs in one basket when conditions could require them to abandon those plans. The typical options are flight, fortress, and community and any of the three could wind up being best... or worst! Let me share a few thoughts on the flight option.

Flight usually involves bug-out bags, bug-out vehicles, defensive armaments, haste, maybe stealth, with hopefully one or more pre-stocked destinations. But what if a hazard has affected a huge region, making your pre-stocked bug-out location unusable? What if the entire hemisphere becomes too dangerous?

I bought land in Ecuador that I could flee to if needed. At 25 acres for $5,500 it was feasible for someone of very modest income. Besides being some distance from home it has good survival potential: plenty of rainfall, perfect temperature range at 6,500 ft. elevation (no heating or cooling season), year-round growing season, low population density, self-sufficient neighbors, above the tropical diseases and poisonous snakes of the Amazonian lowlands, rivers teeming with trout, good streams for hydro-power, small government, no building permits required for the countryside, almost negligible property taxes, peaceful changes in government. You can see the possibilities.

I recommend having pre-stocked bug out locations nearby, even for those who are full-time residents on a survival retreat property, as well as distant retreats in some other part of the world. Be prepared to leave at all times. My passport and other needed travel items are part of my every-day-carry kit.

What if you are suddenly driven from your home by fire, home invaders, or other calamity and you have nothing but your pajamas, slippers, and maybe a jacket? What if civil order has broken down and there is no-one you can turn to for help? In that case you would be well served by one or more secure buried caches, giving you what you need to bug out, shelter, clothe, and feed yourself, as well as a weapon or two. I chose the buried, large-diameter, hermetically sealed PVC tube with heat-sealed Mylar liners for my buried caches. I buried them away from my house but within easy walking distance, using as much stealth as possible to avoid being seen and to avoid leaving tell-tale traces of my activity. Another use I have yet to employ: a string of small food and water re-supply caches en route to my bug-out destination in case I need to make the week-long trek by foot.

A network of buried caches would enable the owner periodic access to food, ammo, etc. while appearing to have little worth stealing. This could be the ticket to escaping plunder by roving gangs or government during the first year or so of violence following a full-blown SHTF event. There are many possible approaches and anyone handy in the workshop can fashion suitable buried cache containers. Those without the time or ability can buy various-sized pressure-tested cache tubes online through SafeCastle, a trusted SurvivalBlog advertiser. - J. in New Hampshire

Dear Jim and Family,
I can understand why [the gentleman that writes Laptop and Rifle, a blog recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog] should go forthrightly into the wilderness this way. Its taking control of his life, with his own hands. But it is a pity that some important stuff got overlooked. There's a wonderful (and necessary) book called the "Uniform Building Code" (UBC) that all contractors know and love as their bible of legal building laws, which also happen to be good engineering. The google programmer is doing the equivalent of writing bad code by ignoring this book. His second hut has no poured concrete footing, so the first time it rains, its going to sink/tilt and no longer be level. Considering the area he's building is heavily volcanic, the soil will also be composed of swelling clay, which means its also going to tear apart his concrete block foundation, something it would also do to a poured concrete footing. In that territory, you have to build in spring after heavy rains or water down the site for 30 days in order to allow the clay to swell to saturation. Thus, once the foundation is poured the concrete is put under compression, the only way its physically strong. Most homes in California are built this way due to the common prevalence of swelling clay soil that formed subsequent to the lengthy volcanic system that predated the San Andreas fault line. If he'd asked the county building department in Chico, he'd know that. Or ditto if he had just looked it up with a web search. Cheers, - InyoKern

Hi Mr. Rawles.
I hope that everything is going well for you. You might want to pass this on to your readers. As of a couple of minutes ago, Janice Dean, the Weather Lady on the Fox News Channel, was discussing Hurricane Earl. They are urging all residents from the Outer Banks to the Canadian Maritimes to review their Hurricane Evacuation Routes and be ready to "Bug Out" within the next few days. Computer Modeling shows no weakening of the Hurricane, the only question is just how close Hurricane Earl will get to the Eastern Seaboard. God's Blessings on you and yours, - "Bubblehead" Les

Deflation Delusion Continues as Economies Trend Towards High Inflation

Reader Bret F. notes that in August, his local structural steel prices increased as follows: 1” x 1” x 1/8” angle iron from 42 cents per foot to 47 cents per foot, 4” x .237 wall steel pipe increased from $5.26 per foot to $6.26 per foot.

A 20% rate hike for Health Insurance in California? Yikes!

Susan C. in Texas sent a link to a web site that has all sorts of mixes you can make yourself to save money. Susan notes: "Many of these mixes are healthier than store bought ones. OBTW, I find that these recipes call for too much salt."

   o o o

The big sale at Ready Made Resources on Mountain House freeze-dried foods began last night, and runs for just one week. Don't miss out!

   o o o

Reader N.I.M. sent this: H1N1: A Bullet, Dodged. Meanwhile, we read: XDR-pH1N1 Raises Pandemic Concerns

   o o o

Richard H. forwarded this link: Why You Need a Zombie Apocalypse Phone.

"America is the land which fought for freedom and then passed laws to get rid of it." - A. Neuman

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

Lessons from Eastern Siberia, by S.P.

When I was 18, I spent six weeks in the Sakha Republic (or Yakutia) of Siberia. It is roughly three times the size of Alaska yet has a population of less than 1 million. With the Arctic Circle bordering the north of the Sakha Republic and the Lena River winding its way through it is a largely rural population of self sufficient farmers, fishermen, and reindeer herders. My time there was spent living in a soviet era apartment in either Yakutsk (its capital) or Moxogolloch (a small port town along the Lena River) or traveling to nearly isolated villages around the Sakha Republic. It was while living in Siberia that the wool began to be removed from my eyes regarding America’s imperfect government that I once though infallible. While discussing growing up under soviet rule with one person I realized just how effective the propaganda machine can be and how the methods used by Soviets were being used currently in America. But what I really want to focus on is what I learned about survival. The most important things I learned were the values of adaptability and community. The Sakha people had their religion, culture, and language almost entirely stripped away from them during the 70 years of Soviet rule and yet these three things survived. They live in a harsh and unforgiving climate with almost no growing season and manage to raise crops, livestock, and keep warm.

One example of adaptability is the extent to which they use the animals they're able to raise. There is a breed of horse that is able to survive the extreme winter temperatures and in the small villages everyone has at least one milking horse which they use for milk along with making their own butter, cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, a rather interesting fermented milk drink, etc. And when it comes to the meat of the horse, absolutely every part is eaten, some parts of the horse were a little interesting to my standard American palate but I was still amazed at how diverse each horse dish that I ate was. Even the fat is eaten, and is actually a prized part of the horse during the winter months (which lasts from September to May in most parts of the Sakha Republic). The horse bones are then carved into various tools and jewelry and the hide is used the same way cowhide is used in the US. One woman I stayed with after showing me her prized milking mare, brushed its mane and tail, gathered the hair that was brushed out, washed it, and wove it into a bath loofah for me as a thank you gift. It was much more durable than any loofah than any I've ever had. Though this specific breed of horse would be impossible to keep at mine and my husbands retreat because of the climate difference, we have tried to use some of their methods with our livestock, trying to make sure none of the animal goes to waste and trying to accustom ourselves to eating the parts of the animal that don't normally appeal to us because in the end without food there is no survival. Another thing regarding their food is the extremely short growing season combined with permafrost makes gardening difficult, but the people in the villages know that without a garden in the summer they could starve in the winter so they plant. A villagers garden isn't full of exotic vegetables because if a crop fails, they starve. They stick to the basics that they know will grow and everyone is very proud of their garden. With most people lacking electricity and running water canning is difficult so they preserve food in much more primitive ways. One thing you'll find in every Sakha garden is potatoes, they're hardy vegetables and don't need any work to preserve, just a place in the house that doesn't get too cold to store them. All other vegetables are dried or pickled. In fact one of my favorite dishes is a sort of cabbage and carrot kim chee, made by shredding cabbage and carrots, coating with salt and storing for a year.

Another clear example of adaptability is in the construction of their homes. Remember, this is a part of the world where winter lasts for 9-10 months out of the year and schools are closed once it hits -40 because of the danger of children walking to school in such a cold temperature. Along with that extreme winter most villagers have no running water or electricity. Because of this they've had to create houses that will keep them warm throughout the winter, figure out how to store food, use the bathroom etc. basic things Americans take for granted and basic things we'll all have to be prepared for in case of a long term TEOTWAWKI situation. To keep warm the house is built around a large wood burning stove. Those with larger houses will actually seal off any room that's separated from the wood burning stove even if that means moving all bedrooms into the living room/kitchen area. When it comes to refrigeration the Sakha people use the permafrost to their advantage. A simple hole dug below the house provides a well refrigerated cellar. As far as using the bathroom, everyone has an outhouse, nothing fancy, just a plain wooden stall with a wooden floor and hole carved out. During the coldest months of winter an indoor chamber pot is used and emptied into the outhouse regularly, the cold keeps down the smell. When it comes to showers most villagers have built themselves a simple banya (or Russian steam bath). I've used the lessons I learned from them on building their homes to be sure to take into account my climate when working with my husband to design our retreat property. Our retreat is located in a part of the US with extreme summer temperatures so we're looking at how homes were built prior to central air to make sure that we build a home survivable and comfortable during those hot summer months. Remember, your generator won't last forever.

An example of the importance of community I saw was at a wedding I attended, and helped with, in a small village. Weddings are done very differently in that part of the world than in America. The happy couple announced to their community that they wished to be married the following day, immediately everyone got to work. One person took the bride to find her dress while someone else took care of the getting the groom a tuxedo. Everyone else banded together to gather up food and decorations for the wedding feast. On Saturday the church was standing room only as everyone gathered together to watch the couple take their vows. It's also important to note that even though this was 10 years after the Russia's transition from communism the Christian church is still very small, especially in rural Siberia so the community of Sakha believers spans the entirety of the Sakha Republic and guests traveled from all corners of the province just to attend this wedding. After the ceremony was the wedding feast, a variety of food gathered from the pantries of the community and served off of what most Americans would consider disposable dishes (part of my duty as a new member of the community was to help wash the dishes afterward) and then once all the festivities were through everyone once again banded together gathering cots, sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows to set up sleeping quarters at the church for all the people who weren't able to travel home that night. The most incredible part is that throughout the weekend no one complained and no one panicked. Everyone saw that something needed to be done and immediately began working together to make sure it got done. Using that lesson my husband and I have made sure that when working with our retreat group we're all aware of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses and do our best to uplift each other and work together effectively.

I also got a lesson in how to make money using whatever (honorable and legal) talents you have which is very important in these current economic times, especially since our economy is steadily getting worse not better. Not a lot of people own their vehicle in the rural areas so anyone with a car immediately adds taxi driver to their resume. Handicrafts, baked goods, and produce are also sold usually by people willing to travel from their village to a slightly larger town to set up shop on a sidewalk. During the religious festivals anyone with a homemade barrel barbecue and a freshly slaughtered animal will be selling shish kebabs.

One of the most important things I learned on that trip though was being able to look at past experiences to move forward with my prep work now. I didn't really become a prepper until my mid-20s but I can still look back on that trip and glean knowledge relating to building up a retreat property that works, being able to pay the mortgage no matter what (not all of us are lucky enough to own our retreat outright), and making sure my family survives no matter what happens. It's important to realize that though you may not have been a prepper when you were in girl scouts, took that backpacking trip across Europe, or spent the summers camping with the family doesn't mean that you can't learn from those past experiences. And even if the SHTF tomorrow and you've just now stumbled upon SurvivalBlog being able to look back on the experiences you've had in life and learn from those will still put you ahead of the game.

Hello James,
I recently stayed with a friend in a little German village northeast of Frankfurt . My friend is restoring his family’s 350+ year old Tudor-style home. I was amazed at the ballistic mass involved. The old walls are 6-8” (15-20cm) thick timber and clay/loam brick, covered in plaster/cement. As part of the restoration, they are adding an additional 6” (15cm) of timber reinforcement on the inside and filling it with 6” of lighter loam bricks for insulation. This results in a total thickness of at least 12” (30 cm) of solid wood and brick. Compare that to our standard 4-6” wall filled with fiberglass insulation and sheetrock! Many first-floors are built of sandstone or basalt. Furthermore, the modern homes that perhaps half of the villagers live in (built in the ‘50s-60s) are 10-12” of solid concrete block. Roofs are fire-proof tile or slate. Most windows have full rolling security/privacy covers that can be actuated from inside.

Additionally, the layout of the village struck me as very defensible and survivable. It’s been established around a reliable water source. Homes are clustered together for protection, and are interspaced with small kitchen gardens, workshops, dairies, wood-fired bakeries, and barns. The fields surrounding are filled with crops. Property lines are a mess (everyone owns little plots of land intermixed with everyone else – an acre here, two acres over here…). In the back of most barns you can see the old hand-tools, still in excellent condition, waiting to be used once more.

It really struck me how ill-prepared our homes and lifestyles are in America . My current home certainly won’t last 300 years and how long can a solitary family farm hold out in uncertain times? The one saving grace we have over them: the second amendment. Firearms are heavily restricted and licensed in Germany. - Isaac S.

A reader asked me clarify what was meant by "exiting the market." It's important to know the difference between exiting the stock market and taking distributions from their tax-deferred retirement accounts (IRAs, 401(k) accounts, and so forth.) It is possible in most cases to exit the stock market without taking distributions from those accounts. They can simply change ("re-allocate") the investments inside those accounts. For example, an employee might re-allocate her 401(k) at work from a stock mutual fund into a money market fund. This is not a taxable event, as long as the money remains in the 401(k) plan.

G.G. sent this: Roubini Says Q3 Growth in U.S. to Be `Well Below' 1%

Another from G.G.: U.S. Heading for Currency Destruction Debt Default Great Depression

A Daily Bell Interview: Steve Forbes on Overseas Wars, the Coming Gold Standard and the Rise of 'Citizen Agitation'

B.B. recommended this piece by D. Sherman Okst: Why We are Totally Finished.

Also from B.B. comes this piece in The Wall Street Journal: Existing-Home Sales Plunged in July.

Items from The Economatrix:

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Fresh Flight to Swiss Franc as Europe's Bond Strains Return

Tarpley: China Buys Euros as Fear of World Depression Grows

Another Blow to US Housing Market

Why There are No Jobs in America

Repent: The End as Near

The Dollar Bubble

Sen. Bennett: Trillions in Debt, Nothing to Show for It

The Housing Collapse: We Ain't Seen Nuthin' Yet!

Bob Chapman: The Economy When Debt is Everywhere

Financial Expert Warns of Economic Collapse

Plunge in Home Sales Stoke Economy Fears

Obama Needs Your 401(k) to Balance His Budget

The National Inflation Association recently posted this article: Decoupling Now, Currency Crisis Soon

Reader J.D.G. notes: "The County Landfill had a punch card system that equated to $3.83 per load for household trash. If you went every week, it would cost you approximately $200 a year. The County did away with the punch cards at the end of the fiscal year with about six months notice. All the folks who bought extra punch cards to "lock in" the price rightfully howled. The new fee is $7.00 per load, an 82% increase. Going every week will now cost you $364 per year. The County also provided recycling pickup every other week without cost. Now, that service costs $25 per year, billed conveniently on your property tax bill."

Sid, near Niagara Falls related this tale of woe: "I bought a box of 500 .358" diameter hollow base wadcutter [projectiles for reloading] a couple years ago. They were around $20. I just bought another one, exactly the same product, and it cost $79, plus tax. Ouch!"

Bacon Prices Sizzle. Consumers Feel the Heat. Here is a quote from the article: "Last week, prices of pork bellies -- from which bacon is cut -- jumped to an all-time high of $1.42 a pound. Prices have soared more than 200% from a year ago."

Brian H. suggested a Scientific American interactive web page: "How Much is Left?"

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I've previously mentioned the JBM Ballistic calculators in the blog. But now there is a new Backup Ballistic Calculator --a circular slide rule--created by Todd Hodnett of Accuracy 1st. These will soon be available from LaRue Tactical. They are taking pre-orders now, and expect to starting shipping them in mid-September.

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Reader Travis B. recommended the blog Laptop and Rifle. Travis gave quick summary of the blog's content: A guy that used to work for Google (a smart guy) buys vacant land and blogs his experiences living there full time. It includes setting up a Hut, toilet, outdoor shower, and solar power. He fails miserably in many areas but it is interesting, regardless. It might make a good case study or would generate interesting responses from your readers."

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The folks at Directive 21 are now stocking the new version of the Berkey Light Water Purification System, which can now hold up to four Black Berkey Elements. The price is now $220, or $315 when ordering one with four Black Berkey elements. They also mentioned that they still have just a few of the older versions available $209, while supplies last.

"Despair is most often the offspring of ill-preparedness." - Don Williams, Jr.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Today is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall. So it is probably apropos for us all to re-read this first-hand account and commentary: Thoughts On Disaster Survival. OBTW, August, 2010 also marks the fifth anniversary of SurvivalBlog. Thanks for making it the most popular blog on family preparedness! Please continue to spread the word.


Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 purchasing or building a home, there are no shortages of choices that must be made. From type of home and features needed to financial matters, literally hundreds of choices must be made. Though some decisions may not have a direct impact on your prepping (the color of the countertop will not matter in a SHTF scenario) many will have a direct impact on the sustainability of your home, your financial well being and thus, your ability to prep. This article’s purpose to introduce the new homeowner-to-be some of these choices and to give you some background on each so that you may further investigate those that interest you. It is not intended to be a how to build a house guide!

As the host of The Homeowner’s Friend Podcast, I have explained many of the items I will cover in this article in greater detail. Like with any choice having to do with finances or big-ticket items, you need to research these items yourself carefully. Though I believe my information to be true, it is ultimately up to you to make the best decision depending on your particular circumstances. I make no warranties, expressed or implied.

I have worked on and have toured many homes under construction and found most to be of the generic cookie-cutter variety - perfectly suitable to the "grasshopper" lifestyle. Long on features like Jacuzzis, fancy kitchens and large spaces but short on practicality, strength and sustainability. Any home built or purchased by a prepper must be, above anything else IMO, sustainable to the greatest extent possible.
By sustainable, I am not trying to save the planet (though that is a definite by-product), I am trying to make your home require the least amount of external inputs necessary to keep it functioning. This has everyday advantages and is even more valuable in a SHTF scenario. In normal times, it saves you money and/or effort. An efficient home simply costs less to operate, leaving more money for “bullets and Band-Aids”. In a SHTF crisis, it is easier to maintain comfort in the home and will save precious resources, hopefully allowing the few you have or can obtain to get you through till things get put back together.
In this article, we will look at the major systems of your home, which consist of the water system, both fresh and waste, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), electrical, construction, and security issues. Most have at least some effect on the others and must all be properly integrated to obtain the most sustainable design. For example, HVAC and insulation are related as is the water system and your gutters. Both can be designed to compliment or help each other.

I will not look at home styles in this article as that could be one of its own. However, I will mention that as Americans, most of us desire to live in a larger home than we currently occupy, but actually need less home than we have now! We need a home that is comfortable and safe. We all desire a nice home, but a definite balance needs to be struck as the larger and fancier the home, the more resources (including money) it will require to operate, maintain and defend if necessary. When the gas is flowing, its easy to heat 5,000 square feet - but nearly impossible when the gas stops flowing! Remember most families (with 4-5 kids no less) survived in 800 square foot ranch houses in the 1970s just fine! Today, most home are two to three times that size - and are occupied by smaller families.

I am also going to focus on the most common type of home, the above ground standard framed home. Certainly, many interesting types of homes exist, such as subterranean, Earthship, straw bale, dome, yurt, etc., but again, I am not intending to write a book! Many of the systems, however, are common amongst all types so much of the discussion will be valid, whatever your choice.

Also, I will not cover locations. I have several podcasts on this topic, as it is an in depth topic in itself. From choosing a community to a specific lot, many considerations have to be made. Please though, investigate the area and lot carefully. Are there water problems, bad soil conditions, bad neighbors, high taxes, bad schools, a declining tax base or increased foreclosures? Is it a twenty mile commute to get to a job or store? As I mentioned in the podcasts, sometimes the cheapest land may prove to be the most expensive after you take into account all the variables!

Fresh Water

Water basically comes from two sources, wells and city mains. City water is supplied from wells or reservoirs, is filtered and treated, and pumped into the system. Extra water flows into the high water tanks to provide static pressure for the Town ([roughly]1 PSI for each feet of height (or "head") when the pumps are not needed or in time of high demand. Typically the tanks hold a day or so worth of water, so even in a power outage with no generator backup at the water plant, water will continue to flow for a day or so unless people hoard it. A very reliable system in normal times, but vulnerable in a SHTF scenario. I prefer my own water system, as I can control it - but currently we are on city water, with some backup stored and more unfiltered available locally.

Wells are perhaps the best for the prepper as this option allows you to basically operate your own water company. Two main types exist, dug and drilled. Dug wells are often 3 or so feet wide and several feet deep, often made of stone or a large pipe. These are installed over an active spring and can provide ample quantities of great water (or not). They are vulnerable to surface water contamination and as they rely on surface water bubbling out of the ground, as the surface water levels drop in dry times of the year, yields can suffer. In some areas, these can not be used as a water supply for a new home because of the risks involved.
Drilled wells are drilled into the earth using (usually) heavy well drilling equipment. These go down hundreds of feet (300-to-500 feet is common) into deep ground water sources typically found in cracks between the layers of rock. The top section, which goes from the surface through the soil and loose rock down to the solid bed-rock is lined with a steel pipe, called a well casing, that is cemented into the bedrock. This isolates the vulnerable surface water from the cleaner deep ground water. Ground water levels are also more stable, providing a more reliable water source for the homeowner.

In most cases, except in springs that are above the level of the house, a pump system is required to push or pull the water out of the well and into the home. Jet pumps are the most simple and pull the water from the well. These work well, but are best for more shallow wells. Submersible pumps located in the well under the water level, are clearly superior as it is easier to push than to pull water and are self priming (something you will appreciate if you sometimes run out of water). They are also more expensive and difficult to install, however. Storage (pressure) tanks are used to allow the pump to cycle at reasonable intervals. Rapidly cycling wells (more than once per minute with a moderate flow or so) indicate either a bad or undersized storage tank. Both types of pump have foot valves at the input to keep the home water (which is under pressure) from running back into the well. Occasionally, you are lucky enough to find an artesian well, which is basically a drilled well that is naturally under pressure. In this case, just pipe it to the home and you may not need a pump!

Using a simple generator or solar-powered pump, one can have water without the use of a grid. Be advised, many standard pumps are 220 Volt AC (VAC), so small inverters and generators will not work. A water storage tank can also be installed at the highest part of the home or land and used to supply water pressure between generator or sun fueled pumping sessions. Since well water is generally safe to drink without filtration or treatment, even during most SHTF scenarios, it makes the most important life sustaining item easy to provide.

Inside [city limits on metered] city water supplies, however, it may not be practical (or legal) to install a well just for emergency use. As an alternative, one can store potable water in an installed tank (approved for storage of drinking water) in the basement or yard and use a pump to supply it to the home. 12 Volt RV pumps (preferably the kind with the attached storage tank) are ideal for this coupled with a generator or solar recharged battery. Simply pump from the tank into the drain at your city water hookup or other cold water hose fitting, with the city water turned off to keep from also supplying your neighbors! Using just a few 55 gallon tanks and a pump like this, you can go a few days if you conserve - utilizing your normal household faucets. You could even take a quick shower, if needed. If you have a gas water heater with a pilot lamp, you can even have hot water.

Refill the water tanks with portable tanks hauled in a vehicle or behind a bike in a trailer. Fill the storage tanks by hand or with another pump and battery at local streams or other water bodies. Filter the water as you pump it with a simple RV filter and add some bleach to eliminate most water born bacteria or other contaminants. The EPA recommends to add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Many books and Internet sources cover the finer points of water filtration, so I will not dwell on it here. You can also take advantage of roof water using a cistern buried in the yard or a pool to provide non-potable water for watering plants or flushing toilets. Be creative!

Waste Water Systems

If you are on city water, you are likely also on a city sewage system as well. If your on a hill, this may work even in a SHTF scenario (but understand it will exit somewhere downhill from your house - perhaps in another house..) but if you are not that high, it may back up as the pumps that keep the stuff flowing to the treatment plants shut down. Worst yet, it may back up into your home if you are lower in the system. Remember what flows down hill. This is why I never recommend having a gravity drained basement toilet or shower below grade (in a basement), as this is a prime release point in a backup - even a clog in your own drain pipe to the street can cause extensive damage. If you want to install a fixture below grade, use a sewage basin and ejector pump to raise the waste water to a higher pipe, a pipe that will only overflow from fixtures on the first floor - something that is much less likely to happen as they are higher than the ground level. It is also a good idea to install some sort of valve on your sewer hookup in the basement where it enters the house to stop any backups from entering your home. Some of these are even automatic.

If the city system is backed up, you will not be able to get rid of waste water without installing a basic septic system yourself. This may be something you do so quietly if you know what I mean. Just a “T” on the outlet from the house with some valves where you can temporarily pipe the waste into a couple of buried 55 gallon drums buried outside to settle out the solids and into some stone to drain the water will be better than nothing. And remember, gray water from sinks and showers can be used to water your garden or other plants, if you use biodegradable soaps. If you are building your home, installing this “T” will be easy as will separating your drains to take advantage of the gray water availability. Again, to meet codes you may want to plan for, but not execute, this till needed.

Of course, those homes with septic systems will not have these problems, unless you have a pump chamber as part of your system. Because of elevation issues, sometimes a pump is required to push the water that flows out of the house into the septic tank or even from the septic tank to the leach field. These tanks (especially those after the septic tank) are usually large and can accommodate some usage without power, but will eventually fill. As you run your generator, make sure these can run as well to keep things flowing.

Heating and Cooling

As for heating and cooling, choose the most efficient system that is practical for your area. There is a limit to this, though it may be hard to understand. In Florida, it makes sense to spend more on a super-efficient air conditioner because you will use it all year and the electricity saved, at today's rates, will offset the initial added expense before the system is obsolete. In northern climates though, where air conditioning is only used for 2-3 months in a year, you may never save enough to make it worth the added expense. In a heating system, the reverse will be true. However, I recommend pushing the limits of the practical savings limits a step or two as fuel will only get more expensive (and it may skyrocket soon..) and in a SHTF scenario, fuel will be nearly impossible to get. Our installer indicated most folks go with a 12-14 SEER air conditioning in our area. For a couple hundred bucks more, I went with the [moore efficient] 16 SEER - 2 stage unit to account for future fuel price increases - putting me just above the norm.

Air conditioning systems are quite straight forward, and are powered overwhelmingly by electricity, save the few by natural gas, so I will not talk to much here about them, except to push the efficiency ratings as mentioned above. Remember that central air conditioning is a big load for a generator to handle (more on that later) but a portable window unit, strategically placed, will provide relief while on generator power if needed. Buy one (they are cheap these days) for this purpose ahead of time and store it, even if you have central, if extreme heat is a life/death situation in your area.

Heating is much more complicated. With having to choose both a fuel source and system type, the options are many. Let’s first briefly cover fuel choices. This is a choice dominated by both personal opinions and local availability. Natural Gas, for example, may be the best option - except if it is not in front of you house! Also, regional differences in costs may also effect your decision. You must also understand the cost of the fuel and its relationship to BTU output (or heating power) per unit of fuel and the common efficiency ratings of appliances. For example, oil has about 140,000 btus per gallon, whereas propane only has 91,600 and natural gas, about half of that. Gas and propane burners can easily hit 95% efficiency while oil units generally peak out in the 86% range. Also take into consideration costs of maintenance. Oil units need regular cleaning (which can cost $100 or more, depending on the dealer, location, equipment, etc.) whereas gas and propane ones really need minimal maintenance (but should be inspected for safety regularly).
A comparison chart is generally useful to try to compare each effectively by comparing an expected BTU use per year, the quantity of fuel needed for each category and its costs, including installation and maintenance costs over the life expectancy of the equipment. Some web based resources are available to help with this, try this calculator.

Propane is my favorite, from a prepper’s standpoint. Propane can be stored essentially forever, as it does not go bad. Large underground tanks can be installed to supply your needs for a full year, or more. This also allows the home owner to take advantage of off-season purchases, which may save quite a bit of money each year. One warning: leased, rented, or company owned tanks are often a rip-off. With them, you are typically required to buy the gas from only the tank owner and they know it! Buy your tank if at all financially possible, then you can shop for the best deal on propane.

Propane is the most versatile fuel, from heating, hot water, cooking, grills, drying clothes, fireplace logs and gas stoves, it can be used in many areas of the home in normal times. Some of these appliances, such as stoves, water heaters, and some space heaters even operate without any electricity - check for availability. When the power goes out, you will be glad you can still use these appliances as usual.
Oil would be my second choice, but it is hard to store in large quantities. Buried tanks are basically too expensive due to regulatory requirements and insurance companies hate them. Having more than two tanks of fuel (500 gallons) in your basement takes up significant space and again invites insurance headaches. You cannot cook with it, so you still need an electric range or a separate gas system and stove. I am also not aware of an oil burner that can operate without power. One nice feature, is you can burn diesel or kerosene in a pinch, which can be bought or bartered for locally and hauled in 5 gallon buckets and dumped in your tank - try that with propane! Learn how to prime your equipment though, as this is necessary when you run dry. Oil is also pretty safe, compared to propane - leaks are less of a problem.

Natural gas is my favorite, except that you cannot store it and availability is limited geographically - it is mainly in the cities and suburbs where lots of customers live. Also, if the gas mains are shut down for some reason - you are out of business. Being underground, disruption is infrequent - but definitely possible, especially if we have transportation or grid failures or terrorist attacks. It has all the other advantages of propane, however, so it is still a good fuel. It is also mainly domestically sourced, which is also an advantage.

Wood is ideal if you have access it and if everyone in your home who will have to use it is healthy enough to cut, split, and move it - remember the strongest person may not be able to do these things in a SHTF scenario if they are hurt or worst. [JWR Adds: As I've mentioned in my writings before, cutting firewood with a chainsaw in the midst of societal collapse presents a security dilemma. A gas chainsaw can be heard for miles, and it leaves the ear muff-wearing operator vulnerable to attack. To be safe, any wood-cutting party will need an accompanying security detail.] You can easily heat with wood and some (including me) argue it is the best heat. You are also able to cook with it on most standard stoves and certainly on wood fired kitchen stoves. If you have trees on site - it can be next to free, save for some and gas for the saw and splitter. Expect to get around 1 sustainable cord per acre per year in a good forest lot. You can stack an ample quantity in the back yard and can always get more. It is not always as easy to regulate as some other fuels, but if the cost is low, who cares?

A simple wood stove will likely heat your home quite well. If you are in a northern climate and are looking at wood to provide your main source of heat and hot water, I recommend using an indoor boiler, such as those made by HS Tarm which I have no relationship with. They are real efficient, can be used with storage tanks to allow a clean hot burn - while saving that excess heat you are not using for times when the stove is out. They can easily provide enough heat to keep the house warm (in a controlled, efficient manner), heat hot water, and even heat outbuildings. They have marginal power requirements though, so plan for that. Outdoor furnaces and boilers are great too, but they are less efficient typically and if not run hot, can really smoke up the yard. Many places have outlawed them. However, please make sure your wood burning appliance is installed correctly. Many homes burn each year, sometimes killing family members, because of improperly installed wood stoves. Follow the manufacturers instructions, use quality materials, and get a permit for the stove and inspection after it is installed, if applicable in your area. Some fire departments will also do a courtesy inspection as well, call to inquire. Should a fire start, these inspections / permits will protect you from the wrath of the insurance company!

I will not even mention electric heating, though it would work in some warmer climates, I guess. It is just too expensive and vulnerable to power failures to make my list, sorry! Heating plants themselves come in two flavors powered by your choice of fuel, hot water (hydronic) and hot air (furnaces). Hydronic systems utilize boilers to make the hot water used to heat the building. Boilers are more expensive to install, especially counting the plumbing required to distribute the heat, but can be better regulated with the ease of having multiple zones powering various types of heaters. For example, you can use baseboard heaters, antique steam radiators, forced air heaters (such as Modine units which are popular in basements and garages), and even the newer popular in-floor radiant heating systems or any of these in any combination. The boiler can also make your hot water either by using a coil within the boiler itself, or in a separate tank heated by a separate zone of the boiler (most efficient).

Furnaces heat air, which is blown though the home. These systems are typically more simple and less expensive to install than boilers and are easily adapted to also provide air flow for air conditioning as well. Installing the air ducts is relatively simple, once designed, especially with today's flex-duct. Using electrically operated valves, the units can be zoned as well or in larger installations, multiple units can be installed.
Becoming more popular, are hybrid systems, as I like to call them. These utilize a boiler to make the heat and air handlers with heat-exchangers (radiators) in them and often air conditioning coils as well, installed in the home to provide warm-air heat and air conditioning. In a two floor home, one might be installed in the attic for the second floor and one in the basement for the first. These systems can also use in-floor radiant or baseboard heat as well, as a boiler is utilized. These can be expensive to install, but do provide a nice option for the homeowner with a larger home, especially those with a wood boiler!

Again for the prepper, the choice of how to heat and cool the home must be made with a lot of thought to the future. Higher efficiency means higher complication and more expensive and specialized parts than their simple lower efficiency counterparts. However, I feel it is worth it as the money saved can be significant. Most of today's equipment by reputable manufacturers will work fine for years. I have personally owned Burnham and Buderus boilers and Trane / American Standard (same company) for hot air and air conditioning systems. Others are fine as well, I have just used these and think they are top notch. Again, I have no relationship with these companies.

Hot Water Heaters

Water can be heated with electricity, gas or oil. Stand-alone tank heaters come in all three flavors, and work well. Any boiler can be adapted to heat water with either an internal coil or external tank as previously mentioned. The best option, in my opinion, is the tankless heater powered by propane or natural gas. I have a Rinnai and love it. These units provide hot water when you need it and shut down when you do not. They save gas by not cycling to maintain water temperatures as do normal tank heaters. Since most people sleep 8 hours and are at work for at least another 10 with commute times, hot water is only used a maximum of 6 hours per day - why heat the water the other 18? From a cold start, my Rinnai puts out hot water in about 3-4 seconds and will do so until either the water runs dry or the gas tank empties! It puts out enough hot water to run the dishwasher, and two showers (I have tried this). The flame level varies according to the flow rate and selected temperature - its quite high-tech actually! The slight lag in hot water generation is noticeable, but just barely and sometimes a brief shot of cool water comes out as the hot water in the pipes flushes out, then revealing the 2-3 second warm up period, but again, it is not a big deal at all. The other downside, is that they require electricity. Just a little bit, but when it disappears, the water goes cold instantly. I was told a small computer UPS will both protect the electronics and keep a tankless hot water heating going for quite some time after the power drops - a good idea. The savings are more than worth these minor inconveniences.


Nearly every home has commercial electric service and we have become reliant on it in nearly every aspect of our lives. From our alarm clock, lights, razor and coffee pot to our heat and air conditioning, entertainment, security and communications, we use it in ways that we do not even realize! Electricity is not only a convenience though, it is also a life saving necessity in many cases. Having some sort of back up power is vital for the prepper - especially where young and old persons are present.

A generator is the ideal solution for short to medium term use. I will categorize them into two groups for our discussion, portable and permanent. Portables are just that, portable. They can be moved from place to place on wheels or via back-grunts and can usually produce 1,000-10,000 watts or so. Trailer mounted ones are available and can certainly run much more, but their costs are beyond what most of us can afford and they are larger than necessary. Permanent generators are installed outside or in a specific room and are powered by a fixed fuel source. These are generally larger, from around 10,000 watts and up. Though these are nice, I feel they are more than most people need and the portability of the smaller units is nice, quite frankly. However, both certainly will do the job. Remember that generators are a mechanical device and can break. If you have the funds, it would be best to have two - perhaps a larger primary unit and a smaller backup.

Without fuel, generators are useless. So many people I speak with have a great generator ready to go, but I find they have no fuel stored, save for a few gallons for the lawn mower. I tell them that without fuel, they have no generator. When the SHTF, the gas stations will either be closed or will have lines of cars from one to the next. Having an ample amount of fuel on hand is crucial.
Most units run on gasoline, with some running on diesel or propane / natural gas (or some combination of the above). Gasoline ones are cheapest, and are fine for emergency use. Heavy use units are generally diesel, as they are generally more long lasting and are also typically better on fuel. Propane / Natural Gas ones are great because of the low maintenance and, if you have propane or natural gas anyway, the availability of large quantities of fuel may already be available.

My generator is a 4,000 watt unit and it burns .5 to 1 gallon each hour or so, depending on load. Running it 3-4 hours per day, you would need perhaps 2-4 gallons. To make it a week, I should have at least 20 gallons, or 4 - 5 gallon cans full. This should be a minimum to shoot for - a week's supply to keep your unit running for 1-2 hours 2-3 times per day. This allows you to pump water, charge batteries, cool the refrigerator and keep the freezer frozen, and do some other chores. If for medical or other needs it needs to run more, then plan for it.

With any fuel (except propane), rotate, rotate, rotate! I buy fresh gasoline in the spring and fall after dumping the old fuel in my car. Today's gas, with ethanol, can cause problems if you let it sit around too long, from the many reports I have read. With equipment too expensive to ruin, I rotate it every 6 months regularly. To help negate this risk, I add Sta-Bil to keep it fresh. The maker indicates a one year storage time is possible with its use, so being conservative, six months should be no problem at all.

This brings me to my power system sizing discussion. Most feel larger is better, and in some ways they are true. However, larger also is heavier, more expensive, and more demanding on fuel. My home can run on 2,000 watts fine all day (except for the air conditioner). I intend to buy a Honda inverter generator in the 2,000 watt size range. These run at variable speeds, depending on load, and supply clean, computer grade electricity. Because of this, they can run as long as 9.6 hours on 1 gallon of of fuel - something that I feel is so valuable in a SHTF scenario. My 20 gallons will go weeks instead of a days, that is a definite advantage. These are only 110 VAC, though, making them impractical for those on a 220 VAC well pump.

Look at the loads you must power, and understand they don’t all have to run at the same time. Some lights, a refrigerator, a fan, a furnace, and even some non-heating small appliances all added together do not add up to 2,000 watts in most cases. Your big loads include your well pump (220 Volts) and anything with a heating element. Even these can be used, if some of the others are shut down. With careful planning, a huge unit is not always necessary.

One can use extension cords to tie the generator to the loads, but this is both a pain and somewhat dangerous as well. As such, I recommend that any new home be wired for a back up generator at the very least. If you must wait to buy the generator, fine, but at least install the transfer switch while the electrician is installing the service. The best way is to switch the main with a large knife switch made for the purpose. These will have three positions, up (typically) will power the house from the commercial mains, the middle will turn off all power and the bottom will feed the house from the generator. Interlock kits are also available to be able to safely back-feed power into your panel via a regular circuit breaker while preventing you from turning on the back-feed breaker without first shutting of the main breaker. See for details. In either case, the mains are disconnected while the generator is feeding the breaker box. This is an absolute necessity for safety’s sake.

A heavy cable will then be run from the panel to a convenient location outside the structure where a jack will be installed. A jumper cable will then be used to connect this jack to the generator itself, completing the path to your panel. Electricity travels easily, so place the plug where it will make your life easy for hook up. Remember also that you will have to protect your generator from theft, so take that into consideration in determining its location. You may even wish to bury the cable out to a “dog house” where the generator can live and operate, if well ventilated with a lift-up roof and opening side panels for example.

Another option to consider, is a battery backup system charged with either the generator or, better yet, a renewable source such as solar, wind, or water. With a modest bank of batteries, an inverter, and a DC power source to charge these batteries (with the necessary charge controller, etc.), this system can provide an amount of electricity basically forever. This power can be piped into the breaker box, just like a generator would. 12 Volt appliances are also available, eliminating the need for the inverter while being more efficient. Many people live off-grid with these kinds of systems and they are truly sustainable, as they will operate for years with no external inputs. Certainly, having some level of non-petroleum based electricity makes tremendous sense in a long-term SHTF scenario. Again, entire books have been written on this subject, so I will leave it at that.

Lastly, for a prepper, it would be good to install emergency lighting in your home. This can be accomplished by either buying commercially available battery back-up emergency lights like you see in every commercial building, or installing a battery bank, several 12 volt lights, and a switch or relay to turn it on when the power fails. In either case, it will provide better lighting for short term emergencies in an automatic way. Definitely an advantage and not very expensive.

Building Structures

My first recommendation, if you build a home (and I strongly recommend this as the option for your permanent home as you can control the variables better), is to consult a competent architect or engineer (or at least a real knowledgeable carpenter) and ask them for the details on how to build a home that will survive the calamities that are common in your area. In the Southeast, that may be hurricanes - in California, earthquakes and fires. No home can hold up to everything, but, for example, you will be surprised how much stronger a roof system can be made with some simple wooden braces or metal strapping! The building codes often require these things, but many times you can improve upon the codes yourself - going above and beyond the required elements. These kinds of improvements may mean you still have a home after a storm instead of a pile of rubble.

Secondly, insulation is your friend. This amount needed varies by location (more insulation is needed in Northern climates than the in South, for example) but is necessary everywhere. The “R” value is the measurement of insulation that is used in the industry. A higher “R” value resists the transfer of heat more than a lower one does. This is not the only factor to consider, however. Air transfer is also very important.

The most popular insulation, fiberglass batting, has great “R” values but allows air to flow through it basically unimpeded. With a house wrap (like Tyvek) this is minimized, but hard to stop completely. It is also hard to install perfectly. Look in an un-sheet-rocked attached garage at the back side of a typical house wall insulation job in any subdivision and you will see gaps in the bats around the wires, pipes and even along the sides of some of the studs. These areas are not insulated at all. Though it is easy to install and cheap, it is not always the best choice.

My favorite is sprayed-in foam. This goes on like a spray paint and then almost immediately expands to fill all voids in the wall. It comes in different densities which have different “R” values, but all forms are at least as good as fiberglass. What they excel in is stopping air infiltration and assuring uniform insulation values. By filling all voids and gaps, it stops all air infiltration ensures an evenly insulated wall system.

The effective insulation value of foam can be double that of common fiberglass - and as a bonus, the foam adds greater rigidity to the home (especially the higher density versions) - adding to its strength. It is, however, messy and needs to be applied by an expert and costs 2-3 times as much as fiberglass insulation.

Is it worth it? In my opinion it is. My current home uses 500 gallons of propane to heat it annually whereas my last home (smaller) used 700-to-800 gallons of oil to heat it. Being that oil has more BTUs per gallon than propane, our new home with its foam insulation is performing twice as well from my calculations. This saves us substantial money each year and allows us to eliminate debt, save for the future and live a better life, as Jack Spirko would say. If things go bad, I know my home will be the easiest to heat in my entire neighborhood! A small wood stove, run intermittently, will keep us comfortable with little effort.

The most popular framing material is wood. It is inexpensive and easy to work with and is quite versatile, especially with today’s engineered options. With common carpentry know-how, anyone can build with wood. Metal framing including I-beam structural members and lightweight metal wall framing options exist and are great where wood eating bugs are plentiful or high-winds are likely. They also allow for longer open spans as well, but often require the help of an engineer to build. Some homes are built using stone or block and insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are a great option as well. I don’ have the room to investigate each, but they each have their advantages depending on your skill set and location. I cover these to some extent in my podcast.

Choose siding and roofing materials for your area and home design. Concrete board siding (Hardy Plank for example) is gaining popularity but is expensive. Vinyl is final, cheap and easy to install. In a fire prone area though, you may kiss the concrete siding after a wildfire! Roofing choices include metal or tin, fiberglass, wood and other more exotic materials such as concrete, plastic or slate. Each have their advantages, but it is hard to beat fiberglass shingles for ease of installation and lasting value. However, metal is the ideal choice in areas with high snow loads or fire danger. On flat roofs, a membrane is hard to beat as they will not leak if properly installed. Again, simplicity will save money and allow for easier maintenance for the homeowner so choose wisely depending on your location and needs.

Lastly, design your home smartly with ample room for your needs, but not in excess. Allow room to store your supplies - a basement is a great option if feasible. Don’t skimp on the structure of the home - these things are very hard to change out. Skimp, if you must, on interior treatments such as flooring, cabinetry, and lighting. These things can be upgraded as your budget does the same.

Security Concerns

Lastly, build to defend if this is a priority of you. A home that is smaller and perhaps two floors is easier to defend than a rambling ranch. Fewer points of entry and a second floor definitely are advantages. Storm rated windows are harder to break and heavy metal or wood doors are harder to penetrate - look at the options. Storm shutters are also a great option as are metal grates, if you think they are necessary. Sometimes, a row of thorny briars, a fence / gate and a big dog will make a criminal think twice. Remember though, if they want to get in, they will. And if they are mad enough, they can just burn you out - this is hard to prevent. Remember that your best offense is to just look like every other house, or one that has nothing to offer. Don’t pick a style that will make your house stand out on the street.

Alarm systems and or video monitoring / recording systems are also a big plus. A security system can alert you to danger from either a bad two-legged creature or fire, smoke, high water, low temp or any number of other perils. This information can be reported to a central station by the alarm or even to cell phones on some systems. This can, and has, saved many properties from fire. Personally, I installed a system that saved a home from a kitchen fire. Minor smoke damage and some charred wood was the result, whereas the whole house would have gone up without the early call by the system to the fire department. Also, early warning to occupants is very important. If your sleeping, a warning of a break in can buy you the time to prepare to handle the threat, rather than having the threat wake you up by opening your bedroom door.
In conclusion, read books, listen to podcasts like the Homeowner’s Friend Podcast (HofPodcast), and talk to friends who have build. Get their recommendations and by all means, try to do the project (or at least parts of it) yourself. I never went to carpenter’s school - I hung around with my father and brothers and did things myself - there is no better institute of higher learning than the school of hard nocks! Build a chicken coop, dog house or storage shed first, to get the basics down. Once you have these skills, they can not be taken away and will make your life better till the day you leave this earth. Good luck! - S.S. of the HofPodcast.

Mr. Hayden presented an outstanding, almost-verbatim review of the commission reports. After having read in the last few months both of the reports, I sought to find as much corroboration of them as I could find. My motive for doing further research was pretty elementary and is simply stated: "This is a government commission, right? Since when have I believed the contents of a government commission?" (I am a former and long-time employee, now retired, of a technology-heavy government agency, and so I am naturally skeptical when I read any government report.) That research has led me into some pretty technical and sometimes jargon-filled essays and writings that at times I was challenged to understand.

I came upon some, however, that were easier for me to read, and that offer direct challenges to the EMP Commission report. One tacitly accuses the commission of being secretive in the release of its numerical data to the extent that independent reviews might find it very difficult to duplicate its findings. Another challenges the findings regarding automobiles and trucks, stating that the simulator used by the EMP commission generated much lower kV/m values than those we would likely see in a realistic attack. Thus, many more cars and trucks might be affected in a real event than what is stated in the latest report. Who is right? I surely do not know, but I am learning more as I read more.

See the excellent article at "The Space Review". This essay is pretty technical in places, for the subject lends itself to technical explanation, but I found that its presentation was logical and overall very understandable.

Note that E1, E2, and E3, as I interpret them, are the respective electromagnetic yields of a given event from the strongest to the weakest; but not necessarily in their major effects upon large areas of infrastructure. According to the author, a solar event, while considered to be primarily an E3 event, might have much greater consequences to the infrastructure than an E3 (or even E1 or E2) event caused by some lower-yield thermonuclear devices.

I encourage blog readers to peruse this as well as other independent studies for additional knowledge over-and-above what is provided in the EMP commission reports.

Thanks to Jim Rawles for the "chalkboard" upon which we are at liberty to express, and even to "screech" out, our thoughts. - "Two Dogs", Lt.Col. USMCR (retired)

Frequent content contributor Jeff B. sent this: US Said Preparing New Laws to Seize Americans' Retirement Accounts. As I've written before: Governments at all levels will be desperate for revenue, throughout this currently unfolding depression. Expect them to find new and creative ways to pry into your wallet.

Stock markets face a 'bloodbath', warns SocGen strategist Albert Edwards. (Thanks to Jon M. for sending that link.)

Reader S.M. sent: What the Double Dip Recession Will Look Like

This was inevitable: 'Jingle Mail': Developers Are Giving Up On Properties. (A hat tip to David W. for the link.)

The BHO Administration's propagandist talk about "The current recovery" is diminished by this recent report on trucking tonnage in the U.S.

Items from The Economatrix:

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Irish Debt Downgrade Raises Fear of International Deflation Spiral

Gold Demand Jumps by 36%

Why US Treasury Notes Will Eventually Yield Nothing

Third Hindenburg Omen Signals Stock Market Crash

Dr. Gary North: The Myth of the Engineered Recession

The Old Farmer wrote: "I've been buying a Whopper Jr. and a small bag of French fries from the Dollar Menu at Burger King for about two years now on my way home from an extra-long shift that I do off farm. It's been $2.12 for so long I kept dimes and pennies in my change holder. This week the dollar menu was gone. The same meal was now $2.43. That's a 'whopping' increase, without getting out the calculator, that is about 15 percent."

Tony on Colorado mentioned: "You may be interested in taking a look at the web site They have items that they have termed 'grocery shrink ray' to describe the diminishing consumer product package sizes."

Keith O. suggested an article with a bad portent for mass inflation: What Happens When China Stops Playing the Music?

KAF sent us this: Are Free-Range Eggs Safer?

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson was the first to send me this very bad news: The Government's New Right to Track Your Every Move With GPS. I suspect that this case will be appealed to the Supreme Court. If they then affirm this decision, we can conclude that we are on the path to the Surveillance State. I wonder... Perhaps some hackers will start putting GPS trackers on government agency vehicle, so that the public can track them in real time. After all, turnabout is fair play.

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Storm brings 100 mph winds, flattening crops in southwest North Dakota. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

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The heat gets turned up, on the border: Two car bombs explode in northern Mexico; no casualties. Some of the 3,400+ reader comments that follow are fascinating, such as this one: "As a senior citizen of South Texas, I have been around long enough to see the gradual destruction of our great nation. My dad was a traveling salesman in the then thriving cotton industry. Many of his customers were located in the fertile Rio Grande Valley. Our family accompanied him during summer vacations and long weekends and frequently drove across the border to eat in the Mexican restaurants. In those days, the food was delicious, the Mexican business owners were cordial, and he became close friends with several of them. Today, we would not dare cross over in Reynosa or Matamoros, two cities we once frequented. Until the last year or so, we still felt safe walking across the bridge to Progresso, a small town frequented by winter Texans from our northern states. Unfortunately, the last two trips we made to Progresso, we witnessed Mexican Army troops camped next to the river, patrolling the sidewalks with machine guns, and Mexican tanks in the middle of the street with sandbagged bunkers along the streets. That was enough to convince us that we had no business in Mexico. If American's don't wake up and realize what is literally within walking distance of our border towns, then we are in dire straits. All the male members in our family have concealed handgun permits, and keep firearms loaded and readily available in our homes. Our son-in-law is a law enforcement officer and knows how many home invasions happen on a regular basis now in our community, and what is likely to come. PREPARE YOURSELVES NOW!" (Our thanks to Chris G., for the link.)

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David B. highlighted this piece by consumer computing nerdette Kim Komando: Location services pose huge security risks

"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity." - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (KJV)

Hi Jim,

Sheila's article ["Food for Long-Term Survival"] contains a lot of good information, but seems to me to take the safety consideration of canning low acidic foods a little lightly. I've been canning for more than 30 years and even if you follow all of the rules, you occasionally get a bad jar of food. Low acid food, which include most vegetables, and all meats must be either pressure canned, or have their pH lowered (made more acid) below 4.6 by adding an acid like vinegar or citric acid. I've had good luck using a boiling water bath with pickled beets and pickled cabbage, and have done the same with beef using a German Sauerbraten recipe, which makes a somewhat different tasting pickled beef. Many Tomatoes sit just below the threshold of 4.6, but making something like Salsa which adds onion or peppers dilutes the acid and raises the pH above 4.6. Also, many modern tomato hybrids are bread for low acid content to make them easier on the stomach.

Foods with a natural pH above 4.6 have too little acid, and can allow the spores of the Clostridium Botulinum to grow and release a toxin. This toxin shuts down the communications between the nerves and muscles, and can be deadly in extremely small quantities. Boiling food containing the toxin for 10 minutes will destroy and deactivate the toxin, but this should be used as a precaution, and not as an excuse for poor canning practices. It seems to me to be akin to keeping QuikClot around for gunshot wounds, instead of avoiding being shot in the first place.

There are a lot of good books out there on canning (my favorite is Putting Food By, by Janet Greene) which I started using 30+ years ago. I'm on my third copy, and you can find a link to it on the Book and Video Shelf link on this blog. Get a good book & follow the directions, and you should have a great time putting your own food by. - LVZ in Ohio

Sheila C. mentioned a root cellar in Saturday's article, "Food for Long Term Storage". Mother Earth News put out a special summer edition entitled "Guide to Great DIY Projects". On page 84, there is an article entitled "Build Your Own Basement Root Cellar".

It looks like a fun and fairly easy do it yourself project. In our family, that means only one trip to the hardware store, and one weekend. It could take longer if you're not familiar with home construction projects. - BLW.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Several readers sent this important item: Massive solar storm to hit Earth in 2012 with 'force of 100m bombs'. There is a dissenting voice, from Australia. But regardless, have you got you Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids squared away? If not, then it is high time to do so. It is also important to buy a few galvanized trash cans with tight-fitting lids, to provide Faraday Cage protection for all your radios and other electronic gear that are not in day-to-day use!


Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

Many food strategies have been discussed in preparation for a TEOTWAWKI scenario: beans, rice, MREs, coupon-based purchases and heirloom vegetable seeds, just to name a few. However, there are certain limitations to a food-storage-only strategy. MREs, for instance, are quite expensive and only provide one meal at a time. They would be great for an emergency G.O.O.D. situation, but not long-term sustainable when you are packing everything you have in the world on your back. And beans and rice are wonderful staple foods, but what do you do when you run out of them… or worst case scenario happens and you have to flee your refuge? I have to admit, I have a considerable supply of beans and rice and heirloom seeds, but I also have many years’ experience preserving food and developing meal plans for backpacking. I have found that there are numerous ways to preserve food with contingency plans. I have a passion for food, and in this article I am going to discuss approaches to raising, harvesting, and preserving various types of food with flexibility in mind.
Several years ago, while on a backpacking trek with my teenage son, I concluded that the little pre-packaged backpacking foods were not going to meet our needs. We had just spent a good part of the day hiking over the top of a rugged mountain, and were ravenous. I prepared one of those expensive backpacking meals on our little stove while my son setup camp. As we finished up with “dinner”, my boy looked over at me and asked, “Is that it? There’s nothing more?” Suffice it to say, it was time for a change.

Since then, I 've looked at food a bit differently when I buy storage foods. I think of dehydrated foods as backpacking food and I imagine how I will use it in meals on a trek. I also look at much of my planning for food storage with the thought that I may need to carry some of that food on my back someday, and how to make it lighter. So in spite of my thousand-or-so Mason jars, I always look at food preservation as a multi-faceted process – some of the food will be preserved to use at home, while some will need to be light and ready to go.

In a long-term survival situation, protein and fat are two of the most important sources of nutrition, especially for athletic people. Carbo-loading can only take you so far, and then your body will have to start breaking down muscle for energy. Meat and fish are some of the best sources of protein and fats. On my little farm, I have some chickens, goats and cows. I also live in an area where there is an abundance of wildlife. Today, most meat is preserved in the freezer, with some being jerked or canned occasionally. However, if there were to be no power, how would this vital resource be preserved? Although I have many canning jars, my strategy for meat will be smoking and drying. While I may can a few jars of meat, I will be more interested in keeping those jars for fruits and vegetables, and here’s why – re-hydrated meat in stews and some dishes can be almost as good as fresh, and it makes more sense to me to have it in its most condensed form. I have been using jerky in backpacking dishes for several years. It is light, easy to work with, has good flavor, and it provides that very important protein we need when climbing rugged mountains.

There are many ways to “jerk” meat. While the most important additive is salt, a good jerky mix with spices and seasonings is hard to beat. I have stockpiled some good seasonings, and I also grow garlic, onions and peppers that could be used if I run out of my supply. I try to buy another carton of Morton’s salt every time I go grocery shopping (at the cost of around 50 cents). My family uses a propane smoker for fish and jerky today. However, propane may be difficult to obtain in a TEOTWAWKI situation. The Native Americans sun-dried the bison and other wildlife they preserved for their winter food. Sylvan Hart (The Last of the Mountain Men) had a space between his fireplace and the rock wall behind it that he used for smoking meat. There are many ways to make jerky, and I anticipate my strategy would change some if I did not have access to modern conveniences, so I have developed several crude backup plans for drying meat. For instance, apple wood is abundant in my area, and I would use the coals from an apple wood based fire along with mason’s screen I have on hand for makeshift drying racks over the burning coals. Or I could use those screens with thinly-sliced pieces of marinated meat in the sun. I feel that I may need to improvise, based on the conditions of the world around me.

Last year, on one of my backpacking adventures, I forgot to bring the fuel for the backpacking stove. We improvised and cooked all of our meals over the fire on a small aluminum grill I carry tied to the back of my pack. I was amazed at how well I could control the heat (with a bit of effort) and how tasty the fish were when we cooked them directly over the fire. I had to be careful not to leave them over the fire too long or they quickly began to dry out. It was this experience that got me to thinking about how an efficient little drying system could be “McGyver-engineered” on the fly. I started looking around at things I have at home, and thinking about what could be used and how. My point is that there is sun, wind and fire available in most scenarios, and a person may need to get by with some ingenuity.

When I plan my backpacking meals, I always include some type of jerky-meat as the base. That teenage boy of mine can really eat, and he needs his protein. I usually try to make one-pan meals, and I start with water and jerky. I have noticed that high-quality jerky re-hydrates better. It usually takes about 20 minutes of low heat and water for the jerky to start “plumping” up, as it re-hydrates. It is at this point that I begin adding other dehydrated ingredients to the dish, because the jerky seems to take the longest to re-hydrate. The flavors in the jerky need to “jive” with the flavors of the dish, so I plan accordingly. Presently, I buy various types of jerky to match my meal plans – turkey, chicken, spicy-chicken, and beef – but I have also developed ideas about how to flavor homemade dried meats in order to be cooking ready. When I have prepared a meal, it is a solid meal and the boy is full. And it costs me less, takes up less space and is lighter than most of the fancy backpacking meals.

Last winter I used some venison jerky to make a stew in a Dutch-oven on my woodstove. I just wanted to see how it would turn out. While it was not the same as fresh venison, it turned out nicely and it made a good meal, even in the world of modern conveniences. I spent a large amount of time experimenting with woodstove cooking last winter and found that there are a lot of possibilities for food drying. If I needed to dry meat in the winter, I would use a set of racks over the woodstove. I also found that some meat tasted better when wrapped in foil and cooked inside the woodstove, so I believe there is good potential for using the inside portion as a drying mechanism as well.

Many people still prefer canned meat, and I will probably want to can some meat if I do not have the option of my freezer. For canning of meats, it is important to note that they MUST be done with the aid of a pressure cooker in order to be safe for consumption. I have eaten a number of very tasty dishes prepared with meat from a Mason jar. Canned meat has a long history in our civilized world, so I would never dismiss it as irrelevant. It can be a delicious substitute to fresh and dried meats. I have decided to limit canning meat because I like the flexibility that dried meat provides, and I love canned fruits and vegetables, so I will be keeping most of my jars for them.

I try to raise a good variety of vegetables in my garden, for both fresh veggies and for the seeds. I don’t really need the seeds right now, but it makes me feel good when I can plant something I grew last year, and it comes up and produces what I expect it to. My seed harvest is pretty simple, I leave some of the plants to go to seed and harvest them when they are mature and dried. I have some beans that will be harvested as “green beans” and I have some that I vine-dry for a mature bean harvest. Apparently (according to Mom) home-canned green beans can cause botulism if not canned in a pressure cooker. Mature beans take a lot of work to produce a pot of beans. Dried beans have to be hulled after they are picked in their dry shell from the vine. However, the work is worth it to me because they will fit nicely into a backpacking meal if need be and they are easier to store.

I also raise a substantial quantity of tomatoes. Tomatoes are almost a staple food for me, as they have great nutritional value and are used for the base of a large amount of my home recipes. I prefer canned tomatoes for most of my recipes; however, sun-dried tomatoes work nicely in a pinch and are a preferred ingredient for some of my Italian dishes. Tomatoes are another vegetable that people will tell you to use a pressure cooker for canning. I grew up canning, and we canned a lot of tomatoes without the pressure cooker, but I understand that botulism is not a pleasant experience. I was told as a child that we were supposed to boil the tomatoes from a home-canned jar for 10 minutes before we tasted them. Apparently that worked, because I never have experienced botulism.

Most vegetables can be dried and re-hydrated well, but there are many of them that really don’t do well being canned. Summer squash is a vegetable that dries well but I have yet to see someone can it in a way I would want to eat it later. Canned corn is pretty good, but dried corn is also good and can be a versatile ingredient for one-pot dishes. I was a child of the hippy generation, so I grew up tending a huge garden. We let some sweet corn dry in the husk and then hulled it. We ground some of it for corn meal and it made the yummiest cornbread I have ever tasted. We also re-hydrated some of it, and while it was not that great by itself, it tasted good in a dish with other veggies. We also dried peppers, onions and carrots for stews and flavorings. In the summer, we had large screens full of fruits are vegetables drying in the sun almost constantly. Dried vegetables are a good source of nutrition and easier to store and transport.

The root vegetables are the easiest to preserve if you are not on the move. Potatoes, carrots, beets, and onions all do well if you store them in a cool dry place (preferably a basement). In the old days, people built “root cellars” that were made for precisely this storage need. They were below the earth’s surface and therefore did not freeze during the winter and stayed cool during the summer. I lived in an old farmhouse as a kid that had a “Cadillac” of root cellars, encased in a nice concrete form with a fancy little roof on it. I think the less fancy root cellars were probably more functional, but we had a lot of space for stuff and it was somewhat clean. However, my present day root storage plan involves a dugout place in the crawl space under my house. It is the best I can do without a basement or a formal root cellar. In short, root vegetables will last for the longest if they are kept cool, dry, and away from light. Root vegetables can also be dehydrated for the backpacking adventure.

For me, there is nothing quite like a wonderful jar of peaches in January. I grew up with a fairly big orchard operation, and while I developed a resentment of canning, I also developed a lifelong love of canned fruit in the winter. Scurvy was a terrible problem for early settlers because they went for long periods of time without access to Vitamin C. Fruits are wonderful sources of Vitamin C, as well as many other essential nutrients. I think I would probably fill most of my Mason jars with fruit if I did not have the sense to stop myself. If you want to get the most Vitamin C, apricots are where it is at. They are reported to have one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C and other antioxidants that support the immune system. Fruits are also less “dangerous” to can, in that you do not need a pressure cooker to make them safe. However, do not forget to dry a bunch of fruit in case you have to carry them in a backpack. Fruit really is (in my humble opinion) the most flexible for preservation and the most fun to enjoy.

An older woman friend of mine (a master gardener) recently said, “I am a home maker – wherever I am, I make it a home because I provide food and comfort. This is what makes a home, so I am a home maker.” That statement resonated with me because it is so real for now and in any situation we may face in the future. I make it my priority to understand food from as many angles I can because I am a home maker, regardless of where that home may be (backpacking, living in my little retreat, or running for my life). I believe the world could use more home makers.

Mr. Rawles,
I read with much interest the article on community planning for a societal collapse. It mirrors my own thinking on the subject and it is an issue I've given a lot of thought to lately. The reality of my situation is that I live in a small town (about 1200-1300 population) that lies on one major line of drift and two minor ones. The major line of drift is a major east-west interstate between two medium-sized cities and the two minor lines of drift are a state route that parallels the interstate (on the opposite end of town from the interstate) and a north-south state route that runs through the center of town. Here I am. I cannot afford to move to the boonies and set up well stocked retreat. I also have few options in bugging out. I am enough of a realist to know that if I tried bugging out, that I would merely turn my wife, two young daughters, and myself into refugees (albeit heavily armed refugees). My opinion is that J.I.R.'s outline is the most workable I seen or read yet. Its not that I am a socialist, or that I want to see people lose their property in confiscations (I have a fairly well stocked food storage room) but I realize in my present situation, my survival, and that of my family, depends on the survival of the small town we live in. I also know that I would not last long defending my house from hungry neighbors, or the golden horde off of the interstate. My town's only option to survive is to work together.

I would ask the naysayers and "indignants" out there how long they could last on their own? No man is an island and no one person can store or grow everything needful for life in enough quantity to last for long. How long can you guard your gardens and fields? How long can you guard your livestock? Just my two cents, - Barry A. in Ohio


Mr Rawles:
I was truly surprised to read the comments about the original article. Do you guys really think the looters/army won't get to you eventually?

Communist, socialist, statist? Do you really think those words will matter WTSHTF?

"[A]rmed gangs who pillage food and fuel stores to control them for their own purposes."
If the mayor/town official is not locking down the food and fuel that is exactly what you will have.

Do you really think the looters will respect property rights in the first few months? If you have less than 10 well armed men guarding your farm/cattle/pigs you will be overrun by the hoard eventually, be they looters or military. Where can you get those 10 men? Hmmm, too bad we didn't try to save the town... Those 10 men they shot for looting the Piggly Wiggly could be guarding your herd overnight.

I'm surprised, simply amazed.

I'm not a community gal myself, but sure hope somebody is doing the things that were advised in town when it happens, otherwise there won't be anything but scorched earth by the time I come in to resupply.

Would you rather have the town standing and making a go of it or not? If you would you better hope the local government can make at least a few of the of listed items happen.

If you would rather have the town destroyed, good luck going-it-alone out on your farm when three hundred starving people band together and show up in the middle of the night. I'm sure you can get 50 to 100 of them with your firepower before they get you. It sure would be nice to have those townspeople to help you now...

At least I learned something. I was hoping any people who made it past the first few months would be coming together for mutual protection. Now it is clear that I will need to stay away for ALL folks from outside my network forever. Must likely all of you "ism"-haters will be out to hang me.

Hopefully my preparations and network of friends and family will be enough to keep me and my boys alive.

Oh, and by the way, most of the list was standard military occupation stuff, the kind of stuff your army is doing in Iraq right now. Don't be surprised when they do it to you. - Paris


Mr. Editor:
As I read it, he is advocating the view that a mayor or some de-facto ‘leader’ of a city should organize a posse and have them ‘under color of authority’ go out and steal from everyone else. This seems to border on the insane. What makes him think people would in any way even consider cooperation under such a scheme?

Having asked that question, I believe the only ‘followers’ he would have would be those that have not taken the opportunity to prepare, you know, members of the golden horde. As we have taken the time to assess our potential needs, we have acquired, and in some instances plan to acquire, the tools, foodstuffs, medicines, seeds, and manual pump and such that we think we may need in a long-term ‘lights out’ scenario. J.I.R. and those of his ilk seem bent on becoming some sort of controller of a segment of the golden horde than a potential long term survivor. If the mayor hasn’t prepared in advance to work in a vacuum of power, food and fuel, it is not likely that he would have the wherewithal to survive a long term event. Plus even as his resource acquisition teams started going door to door confiscating other peoples lives, in the form of food, water, and medicine, I think people would immediately fight back and start taking out his people. It is human nature, and as Americans we have the right to defend our property.

If, on the other hand, he is pushing for us to pressure our cities and states to start planning for a prolonged lights-out scenario, he should know that each area would have to tax each person a few hundred dollars per year to build up and rotate stocks regularly to begin to have a viable system in place. Plus, it is my belief that even if they should start today that they would be far from having much more than a short term supply on hand when things go bad.

A better scheme, in my opinion, would be to do something like a mobilization done during the earlier world wars. Start a campaign to regularly point out to the general population that, while we have no major issues at this time, we have seen the effects of regional disasters and we, as a nation, need to prepare for unforeseen natural and manmade catastrophe. When I was a kid, in the 1950s and 1960s, some people made fallout shelters and storage food, etc.. Now, we see the potential for large hurricanes to take out large parts of our oil refinement infrastructure, which could lead to food and fuel shortages. We have seen ice storms cut off power in areas for days, and in some cases weeks at a time. If we rely solely on the government to ‘see to our needs’, then we will lose that spirit of independence that our grandparents and forefathers had. Instead, planning a program to educate people on what they should have to fend for themselves in a disaster situation, what foods to store, how much water to have, how to dispose of human waste, and what not to do, that may increase the chance of serious diseases, this seems like a better solution.

If everyone had a three month supply of food, a method / plan to acquire water and purify it, and the tools and means to cook without access to the grid, we should expect to see less panic when a crises erupts. I would recommend having much more, but it is a good start. We need to know that, in a widespread crisis, there is no one we can count on more than ourselves. The government, despite the trillions of dollars spent and the trillions of debt, will not be able to help more than a small percentage of the population. Here we are, years after Katrina, and we still see people dependent on government aid. No, we can’t (and should not) depend on the government, we have to take care of ourselves.

This makes more sense than going out and trying to confiscate what other people were wise enough to work and save for. Many of those that prepared for lean times, also prepared to defend themselves and their families. It seems to me, being prepared makes you part of the solution, while being unprepared makes you part of the problem. - C. M


Hello Mr. Rawles,
This is in response to the article regarding planning on a community level for crises response. I was impressed with the level of detailed analysis of the problems facing communities in a large scale disaster and even more impressed with the rational solutions he proposes. I was further impressed, or perhaps I should say surprised at the number of angry responses to his ideas. In my reading of his work he does not advocate taking/stealing/appropriating the pigs or grain from a farm, merely he suggests that this is an issues that will have to be dealt with, with community by-in and support. While I am a staunch defender of individual property rights and sovereignty his proposed solutions and ideas to the very real problems a community or town would face are the best (and some of the only) I have encountered yet. I would like to hear from some of those opposed to the original author their ideas for dealing with these issues, short of holing up in their fortresses and waiting for the rest to die off. In the meantime, the original article seems a fine starting place for ensuring the survival of as many as possible while avoiding the worst outcomes and consequences of dictatorial socialism and promoting the re-emergence of a free market as quickly as possible.

With respect, and special appreciation to JWR for hosting this blog and forum for such important issues, - Lumberjack


I read SurvivalBlog every day and really enjoy most of the articles. I have been a prepper longer than most people have been around,but it's still great to see that other people are waking up to the fact that things are not going as well as the MSM would have us believe.The article on community preparedness really got my attention because it is something that I recently dealt with, or tried to deal with in this area. I live in a small rural Northern California community in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in a county with a population of 35,000, most of it centered in the county seat area, and a good portion of the population counted being inmates from the three prisons located here, two state and one federal. The town is accessed by two main highways, both of which travel through numerous larger cities before passing through or by here,and a county road leading from a major highway 20 miles away, also coming from a much larger city. Numerous dirt roads may allow access/egress depending on the time of year, but I don't know that traveling them would be a good idea, if one considers the "golden hordes." We are basically 100 miles from the nearest anything that could provide any type of support for us. A possible plus is the fact that a railroad runs through this area.

The town has a single grocery store, three mini mart/gas stations a restaurant and a pizza parlor and a bar, and a small hardware store, nothing more, and to boot, the grocery store is nothing to brag about, buying and stocking on a need basis, and not having anything in abundance.It rarely has over a weeks supply of anything. There are larger markets in cities 10 and 21 miles away, respectively, but getting to and from could be a big problem. We have no specific infra structure in this town: A community services board that deals with water and sewer issues and maintains the volunteer fire department, a single resident deputy, no medical or dental services and a sometimes ambulance service. The only "government/county" facility here is a road maintenance shop with some equipment and possibly 10 employees. You would think that people living in an area such as this would be aware of the fragile nature of their lot and would take pains to insure their continued existence.This is not the case at all. With the collapse of the economy and the demise of the lumber industry, many of the people in this town have entered the ranks of the unemployed, and are dependent on unemployment benefits or welfare. They seem to be happy with their lot and live on a day to day/week to week basis. They have the attitude that "someone will take care of me/us," and I believe that to be true, but not in the way they think.

Some time back, I made the acquaintance of the head of the community service department. He and his three employees were expressing their fears that this country was in dire straits and was heading for even rougher times. They were talking of a collapse politically, financially and morally, and they were in the process of "getting ready" They had already come to the realization that they were well behind the curve. Beans, bullets and band aids were on the agenda, along with training and education, as well as trying to wake other people up and making plans to aid this community in the event of a collapse. Their desires and motives were admirable. Survivalblog was recommended to them, as well as other sites, and Gerald Celente was a regular part of their day. I was thrilled at finding other people in this area that were "enlightened," and made regular contact with them, as my job as a deputy allowed me some degree of flexibility in making contacts. Other than these three persons, I had known of only one other serious prepper in this area and he was also introduced to the "community service" group.

The preparations of this group went on for less than a month. My first clue that their attitude was changing came when they started complaining about the cost of "things" and the amount of time and space that was required to get ready. Then their "main battery" was traded away for more "practical" lever arms and semi autos because they were more fun. At least they kept something. After trying,without success, to get their minds back in the game,I distanced myself from them. My biggest regret and fear was the fact that these "community leaders" now knew that I was a preparedness person, along with my friend. Who else did they tell? And they were aware of the fact that this community was, for all intents and purposes, out in the cold and on it's own as far as the county government was concerned. I know this to be a fact because I am a part of the county government, and I know that there are no plans or preparations to deal with any emergency or contingency other than a snow storm or minor flooding. All the County resources, such as they are, are centered in the area of the County seat and are doled out from there. We are near the end of the line when it comes to getting anything, and this is not just from the County. It also applies to the State and Federal governments.They all want to be seen and heard in areas where they can get press coverage. (By the way, I was not totally truthful when I said the County had no preparations for "survival." They did purchase several 5 gallon plastic survival buckets/toilets, 14 person I believe, which they strategically placed in various locations in various county offices. I don't believe there is a "prepper or survivalist" among them. Great idea) I know for a fact that the County, and the Sheriff is the head of the County Office of Emergency Services, has nothing in the way of stored food-medical supplies-sanitation equipment. Their "preparedness equipment is 20 deputies, the road maintenance equipment, and a great dependence and faith in the bigger government. The powers that be in this county, and I'm sure in most others in California, are myopic, and truly believe that they will get the help they need from a larger government when the help is needed. They have made no plans beyond calling someone for the time when the SHTF. This thought doesn't make me sleep better at night. JIR is totally correct when stating that most communities will perish in a crisis situation. I do not plan on being one of those that perish, but you never know. Bugging out was never really in my thoughts, but now bugging in may not be a good idea. In any case, great blog, great letters, keep up the good work. - Gray Fox in Northern California


I am enjoying the debate on Community Crisis planning. While I understand David D.’s point that “the best protection isn't owning 30 guns; it's having 30 people who care about you." I would suggest that having 30 people with 30 guns who care about you would be the best of all. - Eric S.


I read this article, and all of the response letters, with great interest. However, I took away something different than most of the responses posted. I see J.I.R.’s article not only as a “how to”, but also as a warning. When a TEOTWAWKI event occurs, most of J.I.R.’s points in this article will be suggested by someone in power in your local community, or they will be brought up as “helpful suggestions”. If we disagree with J.I.R.’s proposed plans, then we must be prepared to offer counter suggestions and arguments to persuade our community leaders to stay true to our values, and not to just throw them out the window.

We, as preppers, have an advantage in this discussion: we have already considered the arguments, courses of action, and can persuade our community to act differently. When these conversations first come up, we have 3 choices. We can choose to offer up , meaning offer different choices that will work just as well, but do not stray from our values; We can shut up , and go along with the plan, or we can button up , go back to our residence / retreat, and refuse to be any part of it.

Shutting up is not an option for most of us. We would rather walk away than to betray our values. However, most people, caught unprepared, will be willing and eager to go along with seizing food, land, crops, and anything else of value. Furthermore, by shutting up, we put ourselves in danger, because someone will eventually bring up checking all houses in case anyone is hoarding. To not object in the beginning, then to object later on, will only bring dangerous scrutiny to ourselves, our families, and to our residences.

Buttoning up would seem like an attractive option, but I caution against it. It is human nature to pick the low hanging fruit first – this includes grocery stores, big box stores, general stores, etc. Anything that is not guarded or owned by a person who is physically present will be the first to be confiscated. However, as time progresses, and as the situation clearly becomes a long term one, all available potential resources will be investigated by those in power. This includes your house.

As stated in numerous previous articles, if you button up, the first contact you may have with the outside world is Priest or Sheriff, who has been appointed by the Mayor to check houses for hoarding. You would be hard pressed to turn them away, though you could fight if need be. However, since any community security force would greatly outnumber yours, the only viable options would be to slip away, leaving all of your food, weapons, ammo, tools, and such to the security forces; or, to stand and fight until either you die, or they give up. The problem is, they will not give up easily, and the more of them that you kill or wound, the more aggressive they will become.

If you lived miles away from everyone, truly out in the middle of nowhere, then you may be able to escape detection, or, they may decide it is not worth their time to go that far out for something that may or may not be there. I believe that this is unlikely, unless you live at least 20 miles outside of town in a very hard to reach spot. More than likely, they will send someone out to look around your house. If you resist, they’ll send even more out, only this time, they’ll be looking for blood.

Regardless if you are willing to take your chances of buttoning up, you’ll still want to establish contact one day – though it may be 5 years in the future, for no purpose other than curiosity or trade. Any sort of conflict between you and the nearest community will prevent that from happening. In addition, should you decide to sever all contact with this community, you can’t count on help that you may need later.

Thus, I believe that the only true way to prevent this from happening is to offer up suggestions that will work just as well as J.I.R.’s plan. We shouldn’t just withdraw from a community unless there is no other option, and we shouldn’t compromise our values either. As much as I disagree with J.I.R.’s plan, I thank him for writing it – even when I disagree with something, I still learn from it.

Thank you for your blog, and all the time and effort you put into it. Sincerely, - SLDV

I want to disagree with anyone who might suggest that during a SHTF event that the highways and byways will suddenly be overcrowded with millions of sheeple trying to get home. I was on the road from work just after the second plane hit the second tower on 9/11. I was pretty convinced that this was an attack as soon as it happened. I had 20 miles in front of me on Highway 270 surrounding Saint Louis, and other highways and it was smooth sailing all the way. Most people were at work by then and while this was going on people were glued to the office television or radio if they could find one.

The sheeple were paralyzed pure and simple.

Any event be it a high profile terror attack, earthquake, EMP, etc is going to leave the public in a state of shock for a minimum of at least an hour maybe 2 or 3. That is when you act. That is when you move. Even if something happens during non-work hours when most people are home like in the evening or on the weekend, you will have at least a good 24-72 hours of shock time where they all stand around and say to themselves, “What just happened. What does this mean? What do we do now? Is this for real?”

Take advantage. Move at the first sign of something going on. I think this fast acting approach will give plenty of people who are already ready to move at a moment’s notice time to get in place at Bug Out Retreats or get to family pick-ups before the sheeple start to stampede. Even in case of EMP you can be 3 hours further down the road before people figure out they are going to actually have to walk home from work or spend the night in place hoping that the magical electricity comes back on in their car somehow.

People are ignorant and stupid in our modern age. Take advantage and move when you see what they don’t and you will be at a better starting point then those who live with the blinders on. - Ready to Move in Saint Louis


I don't know about the railroad companies out in California, but here in Pennsylvania, the railroad company seems to leave a lot of old railroad spikes and random pieces of metal laying near the tracks on the services road, and sometimes right in the middle of the service roads. One time a friend of mine was driving along a railroad service road in his truck and he got a large slash in his tire from a railroad spike. His flat tire was flat and luckily he had cell service to call me or he would have had a 5 mile hike to the nearest town. That was not life or death, but it could be in a SHTF scenario. Make sure your spare tire is in good condition and throw a tire repair kit and a small compressor in the truck. A good tire plug kit has at least 15 or 20 plugs (I've used 12 in a 2" sidewall gash before, and it worked!), the hole reamer, the tire plug inserting tool, and rubber cement. Small compressors that work, although slowly (1-2 CFM), can be had for cheap and they fit under your seat. The ones that Advance Auto Parts sell are junk (trust me), but I've seen a lot of people have good luck with some from Harbor Freight. Don't just throw it in the truck and assume it works. Test it! Other products like Fix-a-Flat and Green Slime also work as advertised for bead leaks, but not slashes like you would see driving on a railroad service road. Thanks for the blog and God Bless, - Josh in Pennsylvania

Sheryl N. wrote: "There is a nice discussion over at about the various tricks used nowadays to shrink the content of a package without looking like it, reducing portion amounts but charging the same, et cetera."

Frederick D. flagged this: Health Insurance Costs Expected to Rise Sharply in 2011. (I pity those who bought in to the propaganda that health care costs would go down under Obamacare!)

John M. in Florida notes: "I have recently bought quart-sized containers of different brands of yogurt at the grocery store and noticed that the level of yogurt was about an inch below the top of the container for both brands. Quarts of yogurt have always been nearly full to the top. Upon further observation, I see that it is no longer a quart of yogurt. The containers are now labeled as "2 pounds." The container size didn't change, just the label, and it is obvious that two pounds of yogurt is less than a quart. I suppose that the yogurt producers will eventually get around to re-sizing the containers so that they don't look so obviously short of being full."

Bacon prices rise as hog supplies dwindle

Reader RFJ mentioned an awesome piece over at Instructables: Hidden Door Bookshelf.

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Frequent content contributor Damon S. suggested two articles on do-it-yourself hydroelectric power: Homestead Hydropower and Home-Made Water Power for the Homesteader.

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Kelly D. was the first of several SurvivalBlog readers to mention this: Two days of food stretched more than two weeks in mine; Determined to stay alive, trapped Chilean miners made two days of food last more than two weeks. These guys have displayed tremendous courage and discipline. May God see them safely home!

   o o o

Why the world is running out of helium? (Thanks to G.&T. for the link.)

"Shoulda, coulda, and woulda won't get it done." - Pat Riley

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 the Schumer hits the fan (SHTF) and you’re at work miles away from your home and/or Bug Out Location (BOL) what will you do?  Have you planned your route to get home?  What if it’s not possible to use your route?  Do you have alternate routes?  Getting home to or to your BOL should a SHTF scenario arise will be trying, slow going and stressful enough unless you plan for it properly.  I’m not talking only about physically planning but mentally planning as well.  Giving yourself more options should you need them will hopefully lessen the stress and get you through a little easier. 

If you’ve ever lived in a big city, you know firsthand what the traffic is like during rush hour.  A daily commute of 40 miles, one way, can sometimes take three hours are more.  As the economy has worsened and my seriousness for prepping grew, I often sat, while stuck in traffic, and wondered a few things.   “How can I beat this traffic if a SHTF scenario arose?”  Or how could I get around all of this traffic?  I also thought about how vulnerable I would be if I were stuck on the freeway in gridlock.  Given the urban gangs and how ruthless a lot of people are these days, it would not take the gangs and thugs long to figure out that those individuals sitting on the freeways are actually people who have jobs…and money….and would be easy pickings since after all, you’re not going anywhere anytime soon.  So I began to think of alternate routes (off-road) and what to do if my vehicle was approached by thugs or looters.  I also need to note that I have my youngest daughter with me that I drop off and pick up from daycare daily and my ultimate priority is keeping her safe and getting us both home.

Let me begin with my route.  I live in the outskirts of Los Angeles, California.  The freeway I use for my daily commute is the only freeway in my immediate area that goes in to the Beach cities where I work.  Basically, there is only one way in and out of my area either going to or coming from Los Angeles. There are other freeways north of my location but they are just as congested if not worse and would take me out of my way not to mention much more time.  The freeway I use has no service roads running parallel with the freeway.  There is a few miles of the freeway where it is a bottleneck.  No side roads or surface streets to use.  Once you get past the bottle neck, there are some residential streets but these are even further congested with traffic lights, schools and other commuters thinking that they are getting to work faster by taking the residential streets not to mention that a lot of these streets are not through streets.  So, there is basically only one way in and out along my route.  The freeway is also under construction for lane widening and bridge retrofits which make the commute even that much worse. 

So, I began looking at the terrain around the areas of the freeway during my commute and also began looking at overhead aerial maps of my route on line.  I was surprised at what I had found.  I actually found several alternative routes should the freeway become too dangerous or congested to traverse.  I need to mention that my truck is 4X4 so traversing these routes would be easy for me.  If you do not have a truck for your daily driver, I would suggest that you make sure to check and drive any alternative routes before you actually use one in a SHTF scenario.

  1.  Railroad tracks- There are sets of dual tracks with a service road on each side of the tracks for the maintenance crews that run parallel along side of the tracks.  The only thing that I would need to carry is a set of bolt cutters should any of the access gates be locked.  I did a few test drives and found that the access gates to the tracks were almost never locked.  I haven’t actually driven the entire route along the tracks but from viewing the overhead maps, it’s a wide road on both sides of the tracks.  It would be smooth sailing and get me past all of the congestion on the freeway.  This would be my first choice.
  2. Bike Path- There is also a paved two-lane (the pavement alone is at least 12’ wide) bike path that runs parallel to the freeway for several miles.  It has an easy access from a residential street and ends at a service road that also runs next to the freeway, past the bottle neck.  Being that there is never a lot of bicycle or foot traffic on the paths, this is also a route that I would consider should the freeway be impassable. 
  3. Flood Control- Here in California, the natural streams and rivers have been turned into giant, wide concrete ditches (like those in movies such as the Terminator).  These flood control areas run for miles in all directions through the cities and are almost all connected to each other.  The ones close to my work are easily accessible and would take me to far enough away from the more dangerous areas of the city.  As I get closer to my home, they seem to be less maintained and nature has reclaimed them to an extent.  Upon further viewing, I found these to be overgrown with brush and littered with large rocks.  I haven’t investigated them any further other than the aerial maps but I am almost positive that there is a service road that runs along the flood control.   I would only use this route as a last resort.
  4. Off-road Vehicle Trails- I’ve noticed a few fire roads and off-road vehicle trails that go off in all different directions.  I purchased a BLM map and found that these trails would get me home.  Though they are primitive roads, they would eventually get me home. This would also be a last result as it would take hours to get to my home using these roads and time is not on my side in a SHTF scenario.

In Your Vehicle

Well, there’s not a whole lot one can do to secure their vehicle other than spending thousands to armor plate it and add bulletproof glass and maybe a gun turret but we’ll stick to reality.  The best thing you can do is to make sure you properly maintain your vehicle, check your spare tire, have a few tools in case you need them and always have plenty of fuel in the tank.  

For my truck, it’s a diesel, has huge tires and I also added aftermarket heavy duty bumpers in case I need to push vehicles out of my way.  If someone is gunning for me, I need to do everything possible to get my daughter out of the line of fire and to a safer place….like home.  I also tinted the back window and the back door windows with a dark tint so that no one could see how many people might be inside.  The less the thugs know, the more likely they will leave you alone.  Keep ‘em guessing.

In a G.O.O.D. scenario, remember to keep your bug out bag (BOB) as close to you as possible.  If you are legally carrying, make sure to have it at ready. 
But the most valuable item you can get or have is information.  The best tool for this is the radio in your vehicle.  I’m sure most of us saw what happened during the Los Angeles riots of 1992.  You saw on the television reports as people were driving blindly right into the areas where the rioting was going on.  They were totally unaware of everything around them (probably listening to some music--a bad idea.) and you all saw the brutality that ensued from the thugs and rioters on the streets.  My tip for all of you is to keep your radio tuned to local radio news stations so that you can get up to date news of what’s going on in your area.  You might want to take the time to search on line for the local radio networks in your area and save them on your radio presets.  While listening, don’t stick to just one station, tune to different ones because the news reporters will be in different areas of the city and you can get more information by surfing the stations you have stored in your radio by listening to more than just one station.  Use their reporting to your advantage.  There are a lot of AM radio news stations.  Again, don’t stick to FM or just one AM station. Since their studios are usually located “downtown”, they may not be on the air for long.

The bottom line, study your areas and have more than one route to get home or to your BOL.  Properly maintain your vehicle at all times and keep the tank full of fuel.  Listen to the AM news stations in your area to receive the latest traffic reports or other invaluable news reports of things going on around you and get going as soon as you can.  These three simple steps can make a big difference: the difference of getting home safely or sitting in hours of traffic, vulnerable to the two legged vultures..even life or death. I hope and pray this may help others out.

Mr. Rawles,

I've been enamored by the so-called Hindenburg Omen that has recently been discussed in the press. I decided to learn more and found this recent article: Hindenburg Omen Theory - Founder Has Pulled Out Of The Market.

In this article, the founder of this theory has stated that he has completely pulled out of the market fearing a substantial crash is forthcoming in the near future.

I know it's terribly difficult (and financially painful) for people to pull money out of tax deferred investments. However, I suggest folks seriously consider their options and pray for guidance (and do it quick).

Thanks for all you do. - Tanker

Some of the arguments made against J.I.R.’s article reminds me of a scene in Gone With the Wind, in which the southern gentry are talking of coming war and Rhett Butler steps in and tells everybody that the North is better equipped for war; and that all they, the southerners, have is “…cotton and dreams of victory.” Obviously this was met with indignation, but Rhett Butler was right. As preppers we are our own group who thinks we are better equipped for “war” and can also be blinded by our own arrogance. Even amongst the prepper/survivalist groups we must remind ourselves that we will not necessarily be the Leader of the Retreat, or be able to fend off gangs and hordes with all our bullets and band-aids, as has been addressed on this site before, regarding the myths and realities of TEOTWAWKI.

While I am not a Kumbaya Community-is-the-answer-to-everything survivalist, and I love Ayn Rand, we must be humble enough to consider the real possibility that we will need both the individualism and the community effort during different phases of post-TEOTWAWKI living to make it.

Capitalism is not a world or society without government. It is a society with little government, but there is still government. JIR is right, we need some authority. As Ben Franklin said (essentially) “laws are made for the weak more than the strong.” We might consider ourselves strong, but we all have a breaking point. And the strong won’t be the only survivors.

I don’t think JIR was saying anything that wasn’t portrayed in the excellent book “One Second After”. In that book the same small-government/redistribution/community efforts were portrayed and to many who have read this book it all made sense at the time. And one of the leaders in the story who made it all a success was a man with military experience. Let’s not demonize the very people who have seen the effects of socialism and anarchy more than most of American society; probably even more than most of us survivalists who get our view of socialism mostly from history books and the evening news.

I would also like to point out the account of Joseph in Egypt in the Holy Bible. Joseph was put in charge by Pharaoh to prepare the land for seven years of famine. Joseph did, and when the famine hit there was a system of how the food was distributed to the people when their own resources ran out. First the people paid for or earned food. Then land was sold to Pharaoh in exchange for food, then some families were relocated, and a percentage of crops went to Pharaoh. Some might read this and think Pharaoh took advantage of his people. Some might read this and see a righteous leader (Joseph) who saved an entire nation and retained the dignity of the people by having them purchase the food and gave them seeds to work the land. All this was possible because Joseph/the Lord/Pharaoh controlled it.

Perhaps the real point is: Do you trust your leaders? Are your leaders those who would be successful like in "One Second After"? Are they righteous men like Joseph? Or are they socialists?

The Mormons and some other churches have what they call The Law of Consecration or something similar. On paper it might look like communism but is meant to follow the example of Joseph. Food is to be gathered from the members and distributed by religious leaders whom they know and trust, much like the LDS Church’s food cannery and welfare system works today. They know it works because they’ve been doing it for decades, but so far the food has come from the church. There will be a day when the members will be called upon to provide it.

In the book “One Second After” citizens made individual efforts to feed their families, and a soup kitchen was also provided by the community. Some shared a kill; some ate their pets at home. Bottom line, I hope that whichever system is used that I am given the choice. I’ll die fighting for my right to chose. - Rebekah A.


Mr. Rawles:
Nobody has yet mentioned that community leaders might simply ask for donations and assistance or offer payment or barter of some sort from those that had excess, rather than demanding. That might not work with major corporations (like Wal-Mart), headquartered elsewhere, but certainly private citizens and local businesses might respond. Even the local Wal-Mart manager has a certain amount of authority to donate items.

Then, hopefully, local authorities could equitably distribute the donated items. We might take a lesson from those 33 Chilean miners who subsisted on two day’s rations for seventeen days having no idea when or even if they might be rescued. There must have been some unified decision making there and it seems that some type of leadership in these situations would be better than every man for himself. Order might eventually break down but at least an effort would have been made to see that as many as possible had their needs met for as long as possible. - Karen Y.


First let me say I totally disagree with JIR on his idea of taking anything from someone else by force for the better good. I never sided with anyone who took something that wasn't theirs' -it's called stealing, plan and simple if it's not yours don't mess with it. and more people today should get their hind ends kicked for doing just that- messing with other people's stuff.

Second, David D. said basically that people with guns will fail in the end and why. personally I don't think he's correct or logical in his thinking- he talks about community and I am on his side with that - everyone in the groups (the community) has to carry their own water! people who use drugs, or have issues taking care of them selves will die after TEOTWAWKI - people who can't take care of themselves aren't going to make it. it's a fact of life the entitlements people have today have led to soft living, and when that ends people who can't adapt to a hard life aren't going to survive.

But people who are armed in my opinion are going to be the only free people left.

I would say after reading a new book called Resistance to Tyranny (by Joseph P. Martino Ph.D.) that even as he points to other information in his book as a reference the basic idea is you stop being free if your coerced out of your freedoms, and giving up your right to self defense you are asking to be killed. His book in the first pages paints a really grim picture of true history, the kind of things that schools don't teach about anymore

He states: "The evidence is clear. Genocide is impossible when the victims are armed and able to resist. Disarming the population is always the first step to genocide. Gun registration is always the first step to gun confiscation. Moreover, the experience of Germany and Cambodia shows that the government that does the disarming may not be the government that commits the genocide. Once a 'decent' government has disarmed the people, on whatever pretext, the way is open for a tyrannical government to oppress them. The Hitlers and the Pol Pots succeed only because the people have previously been disarmed." Later, he states: "Even if you survive under tyranny, you lose your freedom. Freedom is ultimately the most important thing. No matter what your personal or political objectives are, from animal rights to vegetarianism, you can't accomplish them if you lose your freedom. Freedom is the prerequisite for any other economic, political or social activity, from rearing your children to holding a job to providing for your own spiritual welfare. "

As Joseph Story wrote, "One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes with out resistance, is by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms." History bears him out.

I want to say to David D. I respect your position on gun ownership. As a man you have every right to never touch a gun as long as you lives. By your own choice, but don't ask me to give up my freedom to defend my self or others to some how make you feel a little better about the world...if anything you should be worried more people will give up guns and history will repeat it self and the genocidal cycle will happen again here in America. You all have to know people that lived in the places it did happen all said it couldn't ever happen there, to them, either! - Fitzy in NEPA

Hoping for a godly response by the citizenry for as long as possible.


I read the article with interest but must note what I consider a major flaw or so in almost every bit written on societal crash. Everyone assumes that government will simply go away and that the folk will be free to flee to their well prepared retreats in the country. I think both ideas are off. First, the only organized folk with guns in most communities are the police and they are just as likely as anyone else to band together to provide for their families and friends. In addition, every retreat idea I have read of seems to think that the thousands fleeing from wherever will bi-pass the perfectly good place retreatists have set up so as to keep them pristine for their owners. Worse, some seem to think they will have magic warning of the disaster/attack/crisis that everyone else does not get, sort of like the heads up found in the novel Alas, Babylon.

I disagree. I think folk who plan will get no more notice than anyone else, will be in their homes when TSHTF and will be part of the thousands trying to get out of town. I suspect most will arrive at their well prepared retreat and find it already occupied by some other family who found it first.

What do you do then? How do you deal with local authority acting as thugs and looting as they need?

In short, what do you do when your plans go down the toilet. Perhaps planning for situations where ones pans have gone to hell and ones retreat is occupied might be in order.

I also spent a good bit of my military career planning for war or natural disaster. The biggest problem encountered was logistics, the second unrealistic plans involving logistics. If you need a head start to the retreat, it will not happen...plan for that as well. If you have a place to go, have a plan to take it back from squatters. If you plan to defend yourself from starving bikers or societal parasites, also plan to deal with remnants of local government. Jim V. in southern Idaho

I believe that J.I.R.’s article “Community Crisis Planning” was an excellent article and has caused some superb discussion on what is a very sensitive issue and something we should continue to discuss and explore in depth. Stop pillorying J.I.R.! Instead, thank him for his thought provoking article because if things go bad in the future, you WILL SEE his model in operation. Why do I say that?

CPT Rawles:
As an Army officer of 22 years, my first read of J.I.R.’s article just sounded like basic common sense; I am in command and my mission is to preserve law and order…and then save lives. This is exactly what we do when we show up in Haiti , Somalia or the Messedupistan of your choice. This is what we (the Army) do and it works well; clean up the streets and get things working (often at gunpoint). Remember, we’re used to working in an extremely hostile environment with very limited resources…and a blank check.

Now fast forward to TEOTWAWKI when things are a mess. Do you expect key leaders to use critical thinking skills under a high stress situation to come up with the perfect innovative solution for a working economy and strong security? No! We’re not economists or lawyers! We will default to what is “tried and true” and as a simple as possible to implement. Focus will be on short term solutions rather than long term consequences.

So we’re back to the “fix Messedupistan” model that J.I.R. laid out for us. You don’t have to like it, but it works and I guarantee that you will see it. (Yes, you will “fight to the death” to defend your property rights, but unfortunately you are expendable since there will be many people and not enough food.) More importantly, this system may start working in very close proximity to your location and might start eye-balling your well stocked farm with fuel, food, etc. So no one is going to be standing on their own for very long.

Soooooo I suggest that we continue to contemplate/develop/critique social models to set up a successful community that maximizes personal freedoms (and property) while still being able to get things done and respond to the outside threat of a totalitarian/socialist/militaristic organization that will come rolling down the road to your town. Forstchen’s novel “One Second After” gave some great examples of setting up a community council, but a lot of things need to be worked before a crisis. How do we set up a ration book system when fiat money is worthless? (How will we print it? Who approves it?) What laws will be implemented during an emergency and what laws will be suspended? For how long? What rules will be needed for the community council? What are the checks and balances on power? It would help all of us if we had an SOP or “hand book” to get the community started on the right foot with the 80% solution the day after TEOTWAWKI. Thank you J.I.R., JWR, and all the comments to improve our knowledge on this subject. - Conn in “The Death-Zone-Suburbs-Near-Washington”

Mr. Rawles,
I am relieved to finally read your comments on the J.I.R. article. After reading the article you posted earlier, I was alarmed that it might have represented your viewpoints. Suffice it to say that the organized armed "police" that J.I.R. suggested to commander resources for their own, as well as "community," use were no more than armed brigands. Moreover, his idea of assuming the authority to impose whippings, etc., as punishment for disobedience to his rule violates all principles of free men. I would much prefer to fall as a free man resisting such people and rule, rather than become a subservient subject under them. Sincerely, - Gene C.

It looks like I hit some people in the "hot button" with this article. They are absolutely right on all points. This plan really stinks. I just don't see any other way to maintain the level of cohesion a small community is going to require to survive the tribulations they are going to face. I am still hoping to hear some rebuttal from someone with an alternate solution. Yeah, I don't like socialism either, but show me an alternative.

1. When the larger towns start doing "food sweeps", your community is going to have to fight as a team or it will die as individuals.

2. Somebody has to have the authority to get things done. You need to stop refugees at the border or the community may be doomed. Someone needs to organize labor to help the farmers, repair machinery and do a thousand other things. Someone or something has to provide central organization. As much as we hate to admit it, government provides some useful services. Sanitation, information exchange, law enforcement, water and a stable currency are just examples. It provides a framework for everything else that you need to happen. Without police enforcement, everyone is on their own. Some of your readers might like that, but I have seen it up close and I don't like it at all.

3. Without any way to pay for services, the town employees are going to quit reporting for work and your local government will dissolve. My ideas for reestablishing a local economy are radical, but I don't see any other way to pay for services. Does anyone have an alternative? Or are we advocating anarchy instead?

4. Anarchy is not stable. Someone is going to take power. Without some kind of functional government, whoever is strongest will take whatever they want. Look at somalia and ask yourself what would prevent that from happening here. Would you rather have an elected town mayor doing business as I outlined or would you rather have a warlord who takes what he wants and kills dissenters?

I think a lot of the folks who responded negatively are very distrustful of government. What they are missing is that this is a democracy and they are the government. They are the community! They need to get involved and take charge of it. That's their police force and their rules that are being enforced. I am not advocating an armed take-over. I am advocating the only solution that I see to prevent one. - J.I.R.

Maddie wrote to mention: "I bought my normal brand of 12 double rolls of toilet paper and noticed when I put it next to the others [I had bought previously] that it was shorter. The package went from 501 square feet down to 400 square feet for about 50 cents more. The tissue squares are also now 4"x4".

From G.G.: Inflation may push rates up to 8%.

Angela wrote us: "I was in Costco yesterday, and took a look at a couple of staples to gauge price increases. SPAM is up 6% from $1.99 to $2.12 in the last year. Canned chicken is actually down from $1.99 a can in June of 2008 to $1.65 today. Canned tuna is up 14% since June 2008, from 71 cents a can to 81 cents a can.

"Consumers face jolt from coffee prices" (Thanks to Kris in Houston for the link.)

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson has a new science fiction novel in his Freehold series now available in book stores and from Internet sellers like Do Unto Others. Mike is a gifted writer, and I'm honored to have him on SurvivalBlog's masthead.

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G.G. sent this item from Britain's Daily Mail: Do it yourself? Not likely if you're under 35. More than half are DIY dunces who can't even rewire a plug and have to rely on parents

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When is a Brigade not a "Brigade"? Combat brigades in Iraq under different name. (A hat tip to Judy T. for the link.)

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RFJ spotted this over at Lifehacker: Convert a Bike Pump into a Manual Vacuum Pump. This might be useful in food preservation and other tasks in a grid-down situation.

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Warning! Today's economic news (see below) will exceed your recommended daily allowance of Doom und Gloom.


Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

"The Infantry’s primary role is close combat, which may occur in any type of mission, in any theater, or environment. Characterized by extreme violence and physiological shock, close combat is callous and unforgiving. Its dimensions are measured in minutes and meters, and its consequences are final. Close combat stresses every aspect of the physical, mental, and spiritual features of the human dimension. To this end, Infantrymen are specially selected, trained and led." - US Army FM 3-21.8 (7-8)

The foregoing excerpt provides the best initial explanation involving realistic concerns and expectations during active ground combat. God’s providence, good training and personal physical fitness will provide the individual an ability to survive their first combat contacts. A form of gambling (for lack of a better word) proves a major theme to combat, once committed there may be a forced payment. Lacking extreme definition, you, your friends or an innocent bystander may be killed, or wounded (lightly or seriously). Perhaps a simultaneous combination of all three could happen to your group; your goal is to lengthen the odds. One can grasp the notion of the finality in combat, but until you have lived it, allowed it to harden you through experience, you will fail to fully understand what is happening to your emotions. Your mind will change- you must to “hold on” especially when you feel like giving up. Utilize the adrenaline but do not thrive or exist solely on it. In order to survive in one or multiple “post-TEOTWAWKI shoot-out(s),” you will need skills and an understanding of Infantry missions within your battle space. Hopefully most, if not all lessons are more easily won and characterized by “close calls” for your hard won experience. The pointed question: how do you plan to maintain superiority within your slice of the battle space given your limitations?

Before I go any further, allow me to highlight my personal beliefs. I do not wish to ever see another shot fired in anger, I do not revel in, marvel at or love harming others- not even those who in the past meant to harm me personally or those on my side. The cold reality is that hungry individuals may decide to make irrational decisions, forgo bartering and thus enter the realm of taking by force. It may be your task to stop them. Without extensive modern military training (post 2005) you may find yourself at a disadvantage. The current Global War on Terror- or whatever they call it this week has allowed for major modern breakthroughs in Infantry application on the battlefield. We as normal civilians, unless independently wealthy and committed to collecting modern Class III weapons will not have the amount of mobility on the battlefield currently enjoyed by a U.S. Army Infantry Squad. The reason: lack of ability to deliver accurate, heavy volumes of fire (known as fires). 

1-5 The goal of Infantry platoons and squads remains constant: defeat and destroy enemy forces, and seize ground. To achieve this end state, Infantry platoons and squads rely on two truths.
(1) In combat, Infantrymen who are moving are attacking.
(2) Infantrymen who are not attacking are preparing to attack.
1-9 Fire without movement is indecisive. Exposed movement without fire is potentially disastrous.
                                                                                                                  - FM 3-21.8 (7-8)

The above underlined section outlines the direct responsibility of the whole squad while in contact. Given this factor as a constant, how do you achieve effective fires if called to move in the open? We are, after all just civilians, limited to what we can financially afford and legally own.
The number of men in any given community group will vary. If you have a solid baker’s dozen of men this seems to be the best initial number in forming a local, organic Infantry Squad. The following is an example of a suggested set up, this will vary based on numbers and capabilities of individual men. Further, consider not breaking a squad up and shifting troops even if it leaves one squad with less ability and one with more. Breaking a squad has far reaching issues, many of which are not readily visible, in short “morale problems.”
The weapons are suggested examples but not necessary requirements for successful application of this shift in modern conventional doctrine. In the event there are only 12 men, the Squad leader can assume the role of Alpha, Bravo or Charlie Team Leader. Another option is to take one man off any one of the fire teams and run “light.” Do not let numbers interfere with accomplishing the mission. Always make necessary daily changes to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of group. Deny rigidity, constantly think modularity. 

The Modern Civilian Infantry Squad

The Squad should be dressed alike with a similar color or tone and a known outline in light or dark.
Squad Leader (M4- preferably suppressed w/ ACOG)
Alpha Team  Primary base of fire- mission to suppress the enemy but can assault in varying situations dictated by squad leader or in the event of a close ambush. Equipped with a designated marksman utilizing an M1a, these men should constitute greater marksmanship ability. Every man in the fire team carries a minimum one extra m1A magazine. 
Alpha Team Leader (M4 w/ ACOG)
Rifleman (M4)
Rifleman (M4)
Rifleman (M1A w/ optic) in a motorized role: driver
Bravo Team  Primary base of fire- mission is to suppress the enemy but can assault in varying situations dictated by squad leader or in the event of a close ambush. Equipped with a designated marksman utilizing an M1A, these men should constitute greater marksmanship ability. Every man in the fire team carries a minimum of one extra loaded M1A magazine. 
Bravo Team Leader (M4 w/ ACOG)
Rifleman (M4)
Rifleman (M4)
Rifleman (M1A w/ optic) in a motorized role: driver
Charlie Team   Primary assault element, these are your “jack rabbits,” they are the “ruckus of the ruckus,” yet they need to be specially selected for their attentiveness, physical ability and fearless mentality. A wild “fighter-guy” may not be the right choice for this element. Think Clint Eastwood, not Rodney Dangerfield with a machinegun. The resolute and collected man will prove the right choice every time. If your element is short of body armor these men are certainly equipped with it.
Charlie Team Leader (M4- preferably suppressed w/ Aimpoint/ Eotech)
Rifleman (M4- preferably suppressed w/ Aimpoint/ Eotech)
Rifleman (M4- preferably suppressed w/ Aimpoint/ Eotech )
Rifleman (M4- preferably suppressed w/ Aimpoint/ Eotech) in a motorized role: driver
Possible attachments:
Combat Medic, Signalman, Doctor, Intel, Rancher (Who knows? You may have one).
Regarding attachments: Place them in the squad as you see fit, mission dictated and based on importance/ ability. Any post-TEOTWAWKI group will have grunts and pogues (excuse the lingo). Make sure your squads are helping train the rear-echelon types when time is available. Rear echelon types [such as farmers and ranchers] need to be formed into squads just like Infantry- even if they are primarily workers. Reason: they can understand how to react to situations the same way you when their specific skill is needed on a mission. Further, they may be called to defend the main area. The tactics need to be familiar.

The point of changing to the 12-13 man fighting unit is to bring two sections for suppressing fires upon the foe. This new application allows for weapons with slower rates of fire to concentrate effective and accurate fires in order to force the enemy behind cover and suppressed. This shift moves from a 1:1 support/ assault ratio to a 2:1 support/ assault ratio. The absence of the Squad Automatic Weapon per Fire Team demands a shift in tactics and numbers of men applied to remain mobile on the battlefield. Consider applications for movement: if Action To The Front is likely, the traveling groups will be Alpha Team in the lead staggered and followed by Bravo Team. Charlie team will remain offset from the center of the formation and just behind the Squad leader who will remain directly behind Alpha and Bravo Teams. If Action on the Right or Left is expected, then the Lineup will be Alpha Team followed by Charlie Team in the center position and Bravo Team in the rear. Squad leader will remain in the middle of the Squad formation as in the previous lineup. There is one problem with this particular squad makeup: breaking contact can be cumbersome in comparison to the standard nine man Infantry Squad. Terrain, situation and style of your training will dictate how you decide to break contact if and when necessary. In heavier terrain consider the “Australian Peel,” in open terrain consider moving back independently and in buddy teams. Once the order is given to “break contact!” the Fire Teams can support one another but they will prove comparatively decentralized on their way back to the rally point. I am not trying to fully direct your Individual Movement Techniques (IMTs) or Tactics Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) in this article. Rather, I am trying to practically answer the problem of fire and mobility based on limitations of civilian weapons. IMTs and TTPs should vary from small group to group based on level of training, individual ability and weaponry.

There is one other main advantage in adding another Fire Team: Economy of force. Given the right situation you may be able to assault two small objectives at one time. Essentially, when Charlie Team successfully assaults and overwhelms an enemy they can become a base of fire section for Alpha or Bravo on their assault. If you decide to use this action you will still need to form a 360 degree perimeter on the objective during a conventional Battle Drill 1a from the 7-8. Squad Leaders and Team Leaders need to be chosen for leadership ability and physical prowess. Once the Squad has been together for some time you will be surprised at what they can accomplish, certainly taking out two minor objectives will seem like small work. Consider your application of fires because once shifts on the battlefield occur you are susceptible to fratricide.

I honorably served five (three as an NCO) years in the Regular U.S. Army, Infantry with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Careful thought, time and experience provided the inspiration for this suggested doctrinal shift in what I will deem American-Civilian Infantry Tactics. Part modern, part WWII and part football, this application may work for some and not others. If you read and see a way to improve upon these tactics please comment, I am always willing to learn and adapt. If uncomfortable always go with what works for you. Most of the missing pieces to this puzzle are found in the 7-8 (Infantry Rifle Platoon & Squad) manual or other manuals you currently utilize for basis of group TTPs. A few words in closing: Pray before every mission, plan every mission understanding the situation, never get complacent, always shift and lift fires, never ignore the “hinky vibe,” do not overlook command and signal, true leadership, or the occasional true daring. God Bless.

JWR Adds: The author's mention of suppressors (often mistakenly called silencers) deserves some explanation: In some nations like Finland, a firearms sound suppressor is correctly considered a piece of safety equipment designed to protect the shooter's hearing. These can be purchased without any special license. But sadly here in the United States there is a $200 transfer stamp required to purchase (or construct) a suppressor. Under the terms of National Firearms Act of 1934, construction of a suppressor without the requisite tax and registration paperwork is a felony. There are also some separate state and local level laws restricting suppressors in a few states. I beg my readers: Do not risk prosecution! If you see the need to own a suppressed firearm or a machinegun, then do so legally. Do not risk a felony conviction (and hence losing your rights to vote and to own firearms for the rest of your life) over a $200 tax.

As the author of the article being discussed, I would like to address the concerns expressed by "Rocky in the Midwest"

This is a good example of the kind of reactions you will undoubtedly run into if you attempt to confiscate someone's property. He is exactly right and justified in being indignant. He has worked hard and accumulated his property lawfully and has every right to use it as he wishes. Morals aside, confiscating privately owned property not only causes anger and resentment, it's just a bad idea on many levels. Doing so will destroy your local economy. I suspect that Rocky is a pillar of his community and will be instrumental in rebuilding the economy after a crash. He is exactly the type of person who will probably hire locals and begin to rebuild.

One of the most important things you must do is get consensus from your community. If the majority of the people think, like Rocky, that the Wal-Mart and other corporations still have property rights and their property is off limits, then you probably cannot proceed with the course I outlined. You have to convince your town that confiscation and redistribution of goods is in their best interest. You also need to get a consensus on which goods to confiscate and work out how you will compensate people for what you take and use.

The thing you must get across is this: Without some kind of redistribution of scarce resources and a working police department, nobody's property is off limits. Most of the people in the community are going to be hungry very fast. Nobody just sits down and starves to death. They are going to attempt to find food or whatever their family needs. Hungry people loot. I believe this is inevitable. Without someone guarding it, Wal-Mart is going to be looted. When people get hungry enough they will try to take Rocky's cattle themselves. I believe it' better to attempt to maintain order and community cohesion, even if it requires extreme measures. "Let them eat cake" sounds like a recipe for anarchy and mass starvation. Just my two cents. - J.I.R.


I agree with "Rocky in the Midwest". There will need to be leadership in the communities that develop after TEOTWAWKI, but that leadership needs to be democratically decided or you will end up with a dictatorship. The original author is proposing Socialism. As for my "preps", I have prepared for "Charitable Giving" as required by my God, but will eliminate the first man who confiscates (without my consent) anything in my possession because those items are needed for my family's survival.

Mental preparation is as much or more important than physical preparedness and those who have not prepared mentally will be a great burden for all that they come in contact with. I agree that performing triage for refugees might ideally be performed by someone with medical background, but medical personnel deal with hurt people and most refugees, being able-bodied, will need to be triaged in an entirely different manner - based on the need(s) of the local community and the refugee's ability to value add. That type of triage takes an entirely different type of leader than a nurse. Probably someone like Rocky in the Midwest that is prepared to defend his own. - Mel in Texas


Dear Editor:
J.I.R. plans on conscripting the police force and able-bodied men into armed gangs who pillage food and fuel stores to control them for their own purposes. He probably should have included plans for a secure fortress from which to issue his edicts because it is likely that after he sets the terms of engagement, property owners will respond in like manner. When his gang eats the stolen food and everyone else goes hungry, the rough stuff will begin in earnest. Let his plans be a warning to everybody. Especially if you live in a small town, petty tyrants must be put down. Once they begin stealing at the point of a gun, there is only one way to answer: get rid of them or get away. Property owners who respect the rights of others can rebuild. Thugs can only destroy, consuming your resources. Protection of life and property is a cost, but we who produce will choose whether to outsource the cost, and if so, to whom we will outsource it. We will not outsource it to those who would commandeer our resources and use them to rule over us. - John D.


I read and reread this posting several times. This man suggested a crisis response that sounds like communism under Joseph Stalin. He thinks the small town mayor should go out into the countryside and confiscate all of the livestock, feed, grain and seed, gas and diesel, and heavy equipment. He states that the highest priority for this is to maintain the power of the city government and allow the city cops to maintain their patrols. He later gets around to talking about farming and raising food, but mostly he talks about small gardens. I believe this author has always bought his food in the store and he does not know beans about farming.

He specifically talks about taking all the grain stored on the farms and all the livestock held in confinement buildings. I would love to see the mayor and a bunch of city folks confiscate and then herd 1,000 feeder pigs down the road and into town. Where does he plan to pen them up? Just who is going to butcher them? And how are you going to preserve the meat?

The reason that farmers keep several hundred gallon of fuel on site, is because they need it to plant and harvest. Taking away their fuel will leave the field unplanted or the standing crops unharvested. You also need grain trucks and the fuel to transport it. And just where is this small town going to store 20,000 bu (1.2 million pounds) of grain they might get from one small farm. Now try that from the entire county. Unless they have a local elevator they would have to dump it in the middle of the street.

The answer to this conundrum is quite easy, the grain, the fuel, and the livestock belongs on the farm and so do the people. The unemployed people from the small town need to move out onto the active farms in the area. The farms will need the additional labor and the extra folks with guns to protect the food. Those larger farms with substantial grain bins should be selected as primary storage areas for the community. You do not attempt to farm by hand or using horses, but you farm using diesel tractors and all available fuel goes to farming. You prepare for this possibility by building a local plant for processing of soybeans into biodiesel.

I am certain that growing, storing, and transporting food is more important than keeping a bunch of fat cops in patrol cars. The socialistic, almost communistic type centralized command and control this author suggest would ensure a famine in the breadbasket of the world. Frankly, I find his point of view absolutely terrifying.

This is one of the most thought provoking postings I have even read, thanks. - Hick

This piece (and the largely warm response to it so far) deeply undermines theories of survival based on individualism and reliant on guns, fortresses, and hoarding. Though I can imagine certain kinds of short-term crises where a guns, fortresses, and hoarding strategy might work, a years-long collapse is certain to lead to the kinds of issues raised by J.I.R.

I completely agree with J.I.R.: Long term, communities (a dirty word to radical individualists) must organize and work together. And so all of a sudden on a survivalist web site like yours, someone has gotten real and is talking about community, the dangers of anarchy, the rule of law, justice, the protection of the weak, and even redistribution of property. In other words, government, the very thing most survivalists demonize the most. This is unavoidable. No guns-based, hyper-individualistic strategy could ever work for long.

That's why I'm a left-wing survivalist. To me, the key is cooperation and production. Though the old self-reliant American lifestyle was fading when I was a child in the 1950s, the infrastructure and social fabric that supported community-based self-reliance had not yet decayed. I understand pretty well how it all worked, because I saw my relatives living that way on their family farms, and I did my share of the kind of farm work appropriate to children. I grew up and moved away, and I lived in the city for many years (San Francisco, the city most hated by guns, fortresses, and hoarding types). But when I saw what is all too likely to happen, I moved back to remote farming country where people still have fields, pastures, barns, farming equipment, and skills. This community-based strategy is based on getting to know, and trust, your neighbors. It's all about planning, based on your own location, for the kinds of issues raised by J.I.R.

Those who are not in love with their guns, and who find heroic, Ayn Rand notions of individualism laughable, find these realities easier to see.

I recommend a rather funny essay by Charles Hugh Smith on why gun-worshiping hoarders are bound to fail. The essence of it is this: "Because the best protection isn't owning 30 guns; it's having 30 people who care about you." - David D.


Dear J.W.R.:
J.I.R., the author of the "Community Crisis" article, is apparently a statist. He believes that confiscating people's belongings is appropriate in an emergency.

Theft of another's property is never appropriate! Period! It's called looting among right-thinking people. The author of this piece says that some people own too much stuff. Because of that, some of their stuff should be stolen and given to others who don't have enough stuff. This idea is called socialism.

He also says that "anarchy is the dirtiest word in the English language and should be avoided at all costs." Anarchy has many definitions. The most important one is Society Without Government, which is not at all a dirty word, or an evil definition. It means free-market capitalism, a system which the author of this piece believes cannot work without proper controls put in place -- in other words, the establishment of not-free-market, non-capitalism.

[A brief flame snipped, for the sake of civility,]

The same author used exactly the same line about anarchy in a column in January 2010. True anarchists believe in the ability of humans to get along without the assistance (or interference) of government. It is true democracy -- with the codicil that if you are better armed, you have a better chance of living undisturbed by those who seek to control you. No, that's not a complete encapsulation of the term's meanings, but it's more than enough to respond to this unwise scheme. - Daniel C.

JWR Replies: I am strongly in the camp of defending property rights. History has shown that socialism is a slippery slope. Once it starts, it is hard to halt. Although J.I.R is well-intentioned, the distinction between 100 cases of canned chili that is owned by Wal-Mart corporation and a Butler silo full of wheat that is owned by an individual land-owning farmer is likely to be lost, in the midst of a crisis. Once they begin redistributing assets, "The Committee", or "The Town Council"--or whatever they call themselves--will inevitably start eyeing smaller and smaller increments of foodstuffs or land as worthy of confiscation and redistribution. Recent examples of this excessive collectivist zeal have been embodied by Chairman Mao in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Recognizing human nature and the excesses that total power inevitably engenders , I believe that is preferable to be absolutist in defending property rights. Once the "taking" begins, then who has the power to stop it? Lord Acton said it best: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

I must also reemphasize that charity ceases to be charity when it is directed under brute force or coercion. Conservative Christians are among the most charitable people on the planet. But don't force us to give. That is just plain theft, and many of us will fight to our deaths to stop it. If I ever have to choose between quasi-anarchous individualism and socialism, then I'll take the former, not the latter.

Several readers sent this:news item: What's the Beef? Food-Inflation Fears

G.G. sent this: How Hyperinflation Will Happen.

Flavio sent this linkio: Mortgage Interest Rates May Hit 14 Percent Within Two Years. Flavio's comment: Anybody who has a mortgage with a variable rate or which must be refinanced at a later point before it is paid off needs to get out of that type of loan and into a fixed rate loan if at all possible. Or you had better dig through your loan paperwork and find out what the cap on the interest rate is, because there is a good chance you'll hit it."

G.G. sent: The Road to Stagflation.

Did you notice that spot silver is now approaching $19 per ounce, and spot gold is now around $1,240 per ounce?


SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this news item: American abducted into Mexico. Here is a key quote: "U.S. authorities did not contact their Mexican counterparts because they did not know whether they were corrupted or connected to the girl’s captors, Gonzalez said."

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Several readers sent this EPA Considering Ban on Traditional (Lead Core) Ammunition. Please leave a comment during the public comment period. (If this ban goes through, price of ammunition will skyrocket!)

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H.L. wrote to alert us of the following posted by the CMP Office: "M14 KITS NOW AVAILABLE. We have acquired a large quantity of M14 parts and have assembled a few hundred Grade A kits which are now being offered for retail sale. Kit includes every semi-auto part except barrel, bolt and receiver. Metallic parts will show signs of use and may have some minor rust or pitting. Stocks may have some dents and dings and minor cracks. Stocks may be walnut, hardwood, or synthetic. Item number is PSM1AKIT. Price is $600 per kit plus $22.95 S&H per kit." This may be your last chance to buy a parts set (sans receiver) at a half-way reasonable price. These kits include a spare operating rod and trigger group, which are important spares to keep on hand. Retreat groups that have standardized with M1A rifles (semi-auto M14s) should buy one spare parts set for every four rifles.

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There is just one more week to take advantage of Safecastle's 'Feel the Future' sale, with special freebie offers. Check it out!

Jim's Quote of the Day:

"We won't take a dime if we ain't earned it
When it comes to weight brother we pull our own
If it's our backwoods way of livin' you're concerned with
You can leave us alone
We're about John Wayne, Johnny Cash and John Deere
Way out here, way out here
Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun
And you might meet 'em both if you show up here not welcome son " - Josh Thompson, from the lyrics to his song: Way Out Here

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

First, a little bit of background. In August of 2009 a co-worker gave my husband the novel "Patriots", he started to read it and told me that I would enjoy it, my response? “Pssh! It looks like more conspiracy theorist paranoia, no thank you” Then in November of 2009 my husband received "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" from a friend. I was bored, felt like reading, and saw it sitting on our coffee table so I started reading. A few hours later I put the finished book down and then immediately picked up "Patriots" which I finished the next day. Everything my husband had been saying to me for months finally made sense and I realized what I had done to our family by waiting so long to finally open my eyes. I knew then that we had to see exactly how prepared we were for a disaster and following advice from "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know it", we decided to run a TEOTWAWKI training weekend. We had a core group of people that we trusted and that we thought had a prepping sort of mindset, based upon previous conversations. So we approached them about forming a retreat group and seeing if they would be on board for the TEOTWAWKI weekend, everyone agreed so we set a date and rules for ourselves. The rules we laid out were:

1. Everyone needed to be at the retreat by midnight on the day of the "disaster"
2. Because this was supposed to be unexpected no one could make any preparations beyond their usual preps
3. Power would go out at a pre-determined time, no excuses (which left me with a wet load of clothes and partially washed dishes)

In total we had 7 adults and 3 children under the age of two, two of which were still being breastfed along with solid food. We first figured out the basics of what we needed in order to survive the weekend. Food, water, a toilet, heat. On top of making sure we had all of the basics covered we decided to perform training evolutions. Because of the various duties we had to take care of (fire, food, and babies) only 2 to 3 people could be training at any one time. To make sure that everyone fully understood what was being taught everyone had to teach what they had learned to the next person being trained. Your training evolutions may be different but the things we trained on were
1. Building and maintaining a proper fire for heat and cooking
2. Remaining unseen and unheard in the woods
3. Identifying and cooking edible plants in the immediate vicinity
4. Creating a composting toilet with a 5 gallon bucket
5. Proper butchering and cleaning of a domestic farm animal

We chose those five things to be the focus of our training because they were all skills needed to make sure we survived the weekend. Once everyone learned the basics of fire building outside, each person was individually responsible for keeping the fire going in our fireplace and then cooking over that fire. In order to gather water we had to take a short hike through the woods outside our retreat property to get to a lake so each person had to practice lugging a 5 gallon bucket of water through the woods while remaining unseen and unheard, and keep in contact with their partner (we never let anyone leave the property alone). All the edible plants that we identified were then gathered and cooked for various meals throughout the weekend so that we all could learn proper foraging techniques. Because of the number of people in our retreat group, and the small size of the house, and the fact that it only had one bathroom we needed another toilet, though we knew we wouldn't overload the septic tank during one weekend, we were trying to live as if this were a post-TEOTWAWKI world and therefore we made a quick and easy composting toilet using ash from our fire and sawdust that we made with a saw and scrap wood. Our final training evolution was killing and butchering a rooster. This way everyone could become accustomed to dealing with turning live animals into a meal since not everyone in our retreat group raises their own livestock.

Our Basic Schedule
0800-1200 wake up, moms take care of babies immediate needs, a few people gather kindling, tinder, and bring in the mornings supply of wood, a few people collect water from a nearby lake (for washing and flushing), and the others tend to the fire and make breakfast. Once breakfast is finished dishes are washed, lunch is decided upon and training begins
1200-1700 more water, kindling, tinder, and wood are gathered. Lunch is made, eaten, and dishes washed. We make a decision on what to eat for dinner followed by more training.
1700-2200 more kindling, tinder, and wood are gathered. Dinner is prepared and eaten, dishes are washed and breakfast duties for the following day are discussed. All candles, oil lamps, oil, lighters, and matches that could be needed through the night are brought out (and put safely away from the babies reach). Fire watch is assigned (to make sure the fire doesn't go out in the night). Babies are put to bed and adults have time to sit back, talk about the things learned that day, tell stories, and have some bible study time. Then it's bed time, where we all instantly pass out from total exhaustion.

We tried to stick to a diet of food stores, foraged food, and the rooster we butchered. One thing we were all very glad we had was canned bacon, having just a little bit of bacon with our meals made them feel more normal. For breakfast we tried wheat berries because it's something I saw in "Patriots" , we found that cracking the wheat helped the babies digest it better, and we also needed to add fruit or honey to make it more palatable. A staple at every meal was flat bread, made by mixing flour with warm water and a fat (ghee, olive oil, and peanut oil are the ones we used). To keep everyone from getting bored with flat bread three times a day we mixed up the type of flour used. For breakfast we liked a mixture of white flour with finely ground oats, and for lunch and dinner we would grind our own rice flour or whole wheat flour to mix in with white flour. For lunch we would make a vegetable stew, and then keep the leftovers warm to have as a side dish for dinner. Because of the time of year the only food available for forage was lawn plantain, which we cooked up the same way you would collard greens, which made us realize how nice a larger variety of fresh vegetable would be. We're now following advice from past survivalblog articles to plant fall and winter crops, and also have a small indoor garden for year round fresh vegetables.

The first lesson we learned was that even though we weren't prepared enough we were better off than we would have been if I'd continued living life with my rose colored glasses. Besides, I think every prepper assumes they aren't prepared enough. We also realized how important adding watch standing into our training would be. Because the majority of our retreat group is either active duty or former military we all know how to stand watch, and also know how mind numbingly boring a job it is so we all assumed that when SHTF we'll step into our duties as watch standers pretty easily and therefore we decided not to post any watches during this weekend. What we didn't know, is that the one retreat group member who wasn't going to be able to make it because of work, managed to get time off and showed up late on night #2. No one knew he was there until he started banging on the front door, scaring all of us. We realized then that training properly during these weekends for security would be of great benefit and will definitely incorporate that into our next TEOTWAWKI weekend. Another thing we learned was how difficult it can be to take care of babies needs in a post-TEOTWAWKI world. They eat on different schedule than we do (especially while nursing) and their food needs are slightly different. Though all three children could eat solids to a certain extent the type of solids they could eat didn't always mesh well with what we were able to make. Because of this my husband and I are now stocking up on baby multi-grain cereals and jarred baby food up to stage 3. This way we have readily available, nutritious food even for a toddler. We also realized how small our retreat house truly was, there wasn't much room for the three babies to run around the house in, especially with the fire going constantly. It was actually after the TEOTWAWKI weekend that we realized we needed a larger retreat, both a larger property and a larger house. Any longer than a single weekend spent in that house with our entire retreat group would have caused all of our stress levels to be significantly higher. Overall it was a very informative weekend for all of us in learning new skills, discovering what more we need to learn, where else we need to stock up, and how well we can all work together in this type of situation. We've actually decided to continue doing these TEOTWAWKI weekends at least once every other month, incorporating new training situations into each weekend while practicing skills we learned at past weekends. Even if you don't have a retreat group yet this is a great thing to do with your spouse and children, it really is a great eye-opener as to where you actually stand in your preparations. It's also a good way to see whether or not someone you may want to add to your retreat group is actually a good fit.

Dear James Wesley:
The following was recently posted in The Economic Collapse Blog: "It seems like almost everyone is warning of a coming economic collapse these days. Do you remember Tony Robbins? He is probably the world's best known "motivational speaker" and his infomercials dominated late night television during the 1980s and 1990s. He was always urging all of us to "unleash the power within" and to take charge of our lives. Well guess what? Now Tony Robbins is warning that an economic collapse is coming. In fact, he has issued a special video warning about what he believes is about to happen. Considering the incredible connections that he has at the highest levels of the financial world, it makes a lot of sense to consider what he is trying to warn us about. Robbins says that a "major retracement" is coming to financial markets and that the coming collapse is going to be a "painful process" as we go through it. Those familiar with Tony Robbins know that he always goes out of his way to stress the positive, so if even he is openly warning the public about a coming economic nightmare than you know that things are starting to get really, really bad out there."

This is unlike any Tony Robbins video that you have ever seen before, and it is absolutely jaw dropping. - George Gordon (SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate)

I read the article on Community Crisis Planning for Societal Collapse, by J.I.R. and was reminded by an incident that was related to me by several individuals involved, discussed in the local papers, and is well known .

In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the State of Illinois sent a convoy of trucks and equipment down to help the citizens in New Orleans. This convoy consisted of dump trucks and low-boys carrying backhoes, bulldozers, boats, generators, etc. The convoy also had a half dozen or so tanker trucks full of fuel. The boats were to be used for search and rescue by the approximately 20 Conservation Police Officers (CPO) in their convoy. (To their undying shame, many of these CPOs later participated in the confiscation of firearms from peaceful civilians transiting the waterways of the area.) Somewhere in Louisiana where traffic had slowed to a crawl, the tankers were suddenly noticed and surrounded by local police and sheriff’s deputies who pronounce that the fuel was being confiscated. The drivers at first conversed with the officers and then refused to comply and locked themselves in the trucks. The local authorities were enraged by this defiance to their authority and they tried to open the doors of the tankers and take over the trucks.

They were not persuaded by the fact that this was a convoy from another state sending aid to Louisiana or the fact that there were 20 armed CPOs in the convoy. The CPOs were out of their jurisdiction (this is Louisiana!), they needed the fuel and didn’t care who or what it was for. Apparently, the saving grace was when several Illinois State Troopers escorting the convoy were called onto the scene. The locals were persuaded by their demeanor and Smokey the Bear style hats, that they might actually mean it that the fuel was not being confiscated, that the fuel was the property of the State of Illinois and “somebody” might get hurt if they tried.

I would assume that it occurred to the locals that a shootout over fuel between properly identified officers is never a career enhancing move, no matter what the situation, and the locals eventually left without the tank trucks. If I remember correctly the State of Illinois did fill up their police cars which amounted to less than 100 gallons of fuel as some kind of show of camaraderie.

It just goes to show you how irrational and chaotic the situation can become in America even between individuals sworn to uphold the law. - A.T.


Allow me to start by saying that the article was fantastic. It covered so much ground in a clear and concise manner. It gives (I estimate) some great advice. There's a few things I'd like to add to it:

The author was absolutely correct to say that turning away refugees is very taxing on a person. I would suggest looking for somebody who has experience with medical triage. People who have volunteered with Doctors Without Borders and the like, they have likely seen people turned away to go and die before. So they understand the necessity.

About your opinion on pets. It bears stressing that in any society where food is stored in a centralized location, cats are your best friend. Mice and rats will eat the cereal from your granary, go number two and stay there asleep until you've got fleas in your food as well. Even the most domesticated cat can turn expert mouser in a very short period of time. Dogs too kill vermin and people will want to keep them around as watchdogs to protect what little they have left.

And as a last note: thank you recognizing scientists as a valuable resource. (Beware though of the ego trippers amongst us :p)
If you intend to get some good results out of them, be sure to protect sources of laboratory equipment and chemicals. Every other kid knows how to build smoke bombs and crude explosives from high school lab chemicals, others may set out to get drug manufacture precursors. Protecting every lab and pharmacy will be a daunting task, I'd suggest allowing a scientific panel to raid all labs and do-it-yourself stores for difficult to acquire chemicals, and let them store them. Certain chemicals should not be stored in each others vicinity, let somebody with knowledge on the subject handle that.

Great article! - Michael H.


Hi Jim,
Good advice in that piece on Community Crisis Planning, I'd like to add on observation though, from the history books. Community solutions become less and less efficient as the size of the community increases. A small town may do well at the application but a city? Forget it.

A study of the collapse of complex civilizations shows that the big cites of the past were all but abandoned in favor of rural living. Our cities will become a living h*ll. I believe and I advise everyone to make plans to move out to smaller communities in the coming years. I know many in the survivalist community online will not actually sell up and move house. but they can at least travel to small towns. They might find one that looks suitable and make acquaintances there, spend time there at social events etc. In this way if they are still in the city and unprepared when the collapse comes they will at least have a place to go that is safe and where they know folk.
Just my 2 cents, mate. All the best Jim. - Frank Downunder in Oz


Dear James,
Regarding the letter by J.I.R., it sounds as if he is campaigning for dictator. And though he seems to be knowledgeable about logistics, he also seems to be lacking in "people skills" and morality. "Redistribution" of the supplies at the local Wal-Mart ? Huh? "About 4/5ths of your town will need food and most of the town's food will be owned by a very few individuals or controlled by a store manager. If you allow the market to "work itself out", these few individuals will suddenly control all the wealth and be able to charge people anything they see fit...or withhold critical resources as the whim takes them". - He proposes to control them himself, without rightful ownership.

This reminds me of the people who plan to "redistribute" cattle and crops they see on other people's farms. He better not try to redistribute my family's goods, lest he find himself redistributed. Perhaps he should set up some sort of charitable food bank now, with personal donations from his family to seed it with. Indignantly yours, - Rocky in the Midwest

News from England: Interest rates 'may reach 8% by 2012' adding £900 to the average mortgage as economists warn of need to curb 'runaway inflation'. (Our thanks to Jean S. for the link.)

Doug D. wrote to report: "I found a Costco receipt from three months ago, so decided to compare prices on similar items. What I found was shocking:

  • + 5.7% - Bounty Paper Towel. Reduced from 968 sq ft to 915.
  • + 8.2% - Charmin Toilet Paper. Reduced from 937 sq ft to 866.
  • + 6.6% - Frozen Blueberries
  • + 6.9% - Batteries, AA
  • - 2.5% - Batteries, AAA (deflation). Surprising.
  • Chromed steel utility shelves – price unchanged, but better quality (more metal) on the center support of each shelf. Surprising.

The Bounty and Charmin paper products both effectively had price inflation by reducing the total square feet (smaller sizes). The other brands just adjusted their prices. I feel particularly cheated by the Bounty and Charmin changes, since the packaging changes were deceptive. In the case of the Bounty, they even changed the packaging to imply a larger number of ‘equivalent rolls', yet buried in the fine print, the rolls had less square feet in total. The others I feel less cheated by, since it is the same product and they just raised the price, so they were not using deceptive packaging to hide the inflation. This is not good, since this is 6~8% inflation in only three months..."

Economists Warn Of Runaway Inflation

Odds 'n Sods:

Matt R. sent us this: Peak oil alarm revealed by secret official talks.

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C.P. forwarded this report from China about a traffic snarl that has lasted nine days: Worst traffic jam ever? Gridlock spans 60 miles.

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Free Land: Build Your Homestead Without the Debt. (Thanks to Damon for the link.)

"No investment will pay returns as high as paying down debt." - Nolan Lickey, Business, Seventh Edition, by Pride,, Houghton Mifflin Publishers, 2002

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today we present a guest article by Kevin Hayden, the editor of the Truth is Treason blog.

An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), is generated from the detonation of a nuclear device. A similar waveform is created by extreme solar activity, such as that which was experienced in 1859, 1921, 1989 and as recent as 1994. The US Government and military have studied these phenomenon extensively and several reports have been issued regarding EMP effects on vehicles, computer networks, critical infrastructure and more. In this report, we'll briefly cover many of the topics discussed and researched in regards to geomagnetic anomalies, solar storm activity and the effects of an electromagnetic pulse. It should be noted, however, that Congress has largely ignored the EMP Commission's warnings and our hospitals and critical infrastructure remain highly vulnerable.

In the late summer of 1859, a great solar storm hit the planet. This storm was the product of a coronal mass ejection from the Sun. While the science and physics behind these coronal ejections is interesting, it can also be long winded for some readers so I'll keep this brief.

Once in a while - exactly when scientists still cannot predict - an event occurs on the surface of the Sun that releases a tremendous amount of energy in the form of a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection, an explosive burst of very hot, electrified gases with a mass that can surpass that of Mount Everest. I encourage you to research this more if you would like a deeper understanding of the charged plasma that is ejected from the Sun's surface occasionally.

What you need to realize is that these solar storms are not only electrically and magnetically charged, but they bring radiation – across the spectrum, from microwave radiation to gamma rays.

On September 1st and 2nd, 1859, Earth's inhabitants experienced the greatest solar storm in recorded history. "The grid" was in it's infancy, consisting mainly of a few telegraph wires, mostly in larger cities. This storm short-circuited the wires and caused massive fires. The typical light show in the far north, known as the Aurora Borealis, was seen as far south as Cuba, Rome and Hawaii. Due to society's light dependence on any form of an electrical grid at the time, this did not disrupt the world substantially.

In 1989 and 1994, minor solar storms knocked out communication satellites, shut down power plants and disrupted the electrical grid. These were minor solar flares. Imagine if a solar storm the size of 1859's struck our modern society? Delicate wires run everywhere nowadays. Filaments, computer chips, hard drives, cell phones and electrical lines that stretch thousands of miles. Have you stopped to think about your vehicle's computer system? The details might surprise you. We'll get to that in a minute, but first, let's talk briefly about a man-made version of the Perfect Solar Storm – the nuclear EMP event.

Electromagnetic Pulse Attack

According to the 2004 Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States of EMP Attack (Executive Report), “Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.”

It goes on to briefly address the effects, “EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of US society...” The Commission's chairman has testified that within one year of such an attack, 70% - 90% of Americans would be dead from such causes as disease and violence. It is also highly plausible that many Americans would die of starvation due to the interruption of the national food supply.

According to the Washington Department of Health, Office of Radiation Protection, “A 1.4 Megaton bomb launched about 250 miles above Kansas would destroy most of the electronics that were not protected in the entire Continental United States.”

So, as you can see, both a massive solar storm and an EMP event could quite possibly end civilization as we know it. I know that sounds drastic, but in the United States and other technologically advanced countries, how would the mass population handle a prolonged event with very little or quite possibly, no electricity? As the Commission noted, our society is utterly dependent on our electrical grid for everything.

Trucking and transportation

Gas stations and refineries

Information and communications

Commercial production of food and goods

Water purification and delivery

Most of our military capability

These are only a handful of things that we take for granted because they are always there. If the gas stations were out of order, and no refineries able to produce more fuel, can you imagine how quickly our “civilized society” would break down? With that event alone, grocery store shelves become empty within a matter of days and farmers can't transport any goods. If you were not aware, grocery stores do not stock much extra produce or food “in the back of the store.” In order to maintain a high profit margin, stores maintain only a few days worth of staples until another shipment arrives. This not only conserves space, but allows for them to keep their overhead lower, among other things.

Once the gas stops flowing and the shelves are wiped clean, how long will your neighbor remain civil?

Several tests and scenarios have shown that cell phones will be one of the first tell-tale signs of an electromagnetic event because of the enormous percentage of the population carrying one. If the power grid were to simply go down, this wouldn't effect your cell phone. Depending on your location, your local cell towers probably have back-up power systems, as well. The cell towers, backup power and your cell phone will all be disabled after an electromagnetic event, offering you a clue as to what has just happened.

The Commission went on to assess just how our society would be impacted from an EMP event, including how well cars and trucks can handle the burst of electromagnetic waves.

The Automobile and Trucking Infrastructures

[brief excerpt from the Commission's 2008 report]

"Over the past century, our society and economy have developed in tandem with the automobile and trucking industries. As a consequence, we have become highly dependent on these infrastructures for maintaining our way of life.

Our land-use patterns, in particular, have been enabled by the automobile and trucking infrastructures. Distances between suburban housing developments, shopping centers, schools, and employment centers enforce a high dependence on the automobile. Suburbanites need their cars to get food from the grocery store, go to work, shop, obtain medical care, and myriad other activities of daily life. Rural Americans are just as dependent on automobiles, if not more so. Their needs are similar to those of suburbanites, and travel distances are greater. To the extent that city dwellers rely on available mass transit, they are less dependent on personal automobiles. But mass transit has been largely supplanted by automobiles, except in a few of our largest cities.

As much as automobiles are important to maintaining our way of life, our very lives are dependent on the trucking industry. The heavy concentration of our population in urban and suburban areas has been enabled by the ability to continuously supply food from farms and processing centers far removed. As we noted above, cities typically have a food supply of only several days available on grocery shelves for their customers.

Replenishment of that food supply depends on a continuous flow of trucks from food processing centers to food distribution centers to warehouses and to grocery stores and restaurants. If urban food supply flow is substantially interrupted for an extended period of time, hunger and mass evacuation, even starvation and anarchy, could result.

Trucks also deliver other essentials. Fuel delivered to metropolitan areas through pipelines is not accessible to the public until it is distributed by tanker trucks to gas stations.

Garbage removal, utility repair operations, fire equipment, and numerous other services are delivered using specially outfitted trucks. Nearly 80 percent of all manufactured goods at some point in the chain from manufacturer to consumer are transported by truck.

The consequences of an EMP attack on the automobile and trucking infrastructures would differ for the first day or so and in the longer term. An EMP attack will certainly immediately disable a portion of the 130 million cars and 90 million trucks in operation in the United States. Vehicles disabled while operating on the road can be expected to cause accidents. With modern traffic patterns, even a very small number of disabled vehicles or accidents can cause debilitating traffic jams. Moreover, failure of electronically based traffic control signals will exacerbate traffic congestion in metropolitan areas.

In the aftermath of an EMP attack that occurs during working hours, with a large number of people taking to the road at the same time to try to get home, we can expect extreme traffic congestion."

EMP Vulnerability of the Automobile and Trucking Infrastructures

The Commission tested the EMP susceptibility of traffic light controllers, automobiles and trucks.

The summary of the tests conclude that traffic light controllers will begin to malfunction following exposure to EMP fields as low as a few kV/m, thereby causing traffic congestion.

For automobiles, approximately 10% of the vehicles on the road will stop, at least temporarily, thereby possibly triggering accidents, as well as congestion, at field levels above 25 kV/m. For vehicles that were turned off during the testing, none suffered serious effects and were able to be started.

Of the trucks that were not running during EMP exposure, none were subsequently affected during the test. Thirteen of the 18 trucks exhibited a response while running. Most seriously, three of the truck motors stopped. Two could be restarted immediately, but one required towing to a garage for repair. The other 10 trucks that responded exhibited relatively minor temporary responses that did not require driver intervention to correct. Five of the 18 trucks tested did not exhibit any anomalous response up to field strengths of approximately 50 kV/m.

In regards to the airline industry, “Although commercial aircraft have proven EM protection against naturally occurring EM environments [such as lightning], we cannot confirm safety of flight following [severe or hostile] EMP exposure. Moreover, if the complex air traffic control system is damaged by EMP, restoration of full services could take months or longer.”

In conclusion, you have a very good chance that should an EMP or severe solar storm occur while you are driving home from work, you will be able to make it home as long as you are careful to avoid collisions. Once home, however, is an entirely different story!

There will be no more fuel available. There will be no more food and water for purchase. There will be no more iPhone or internet. And if you do find these things, what will be the price? Your dollars will very likely mean nothing to anyone with common sense. The art of bartering will very quickly take on a new importance for your own survival.

If this event were to occur, you could count on a very prolonged period of great civil unrest, riots, theft and wide spread violence. Repairs will be very slow and new parts for the large generators and power plants will likely have to be manufactured overseas and delivered to the United States. Furthermore, these foreign factories would have to retool their machines to create the specific part that we need if they are not already our supplier. And that is if the other industrialized nations aren't effected, as well.

As for the military and police, you can expect high numbers of deserters, placing an even greater strain on the limited resources of government order. This is not meant as an insult to our uniformed personnel, but from my personal experience of being a New Orleans police officer before, during and after Hurricane Katrina, I witnessed 1/5 of the police department simply walk away the first day. Some chose to leave for family reasons while others left due to stress. I also saw how quickly those we entrust with public safety can become an armed street gang and simply take what you have at gun point. These are all valid topics to consider when speaking about an event such as an EMP or severe solar storm. These are valid points even when the disaster is very localized, such as Hurricane Katrina was.

If you would like to learn more details about the actual tests, continue reading below.

Traffic Lights

In testing the traffic lights, the Commission used the 170E controller which is in use in 80% of all signal intersections. They noted four different types of effects, depending on the power level of the electromagnetic pulse.

The following effects were observed:

1. Forced Cycle: At field levels of 1 to 5 kV/m, the light was forced to cycle from green to red without going through yellow. This is a transient effect that recovers automatically after one cycle.

2. Disrupted Cycle: At field levels of 5 to 10 kV/m, the normally programmed cycle times became corrupted and change to a cycle different from that originally programmed. The controller had either been damaged or needed to be manually reset.

3. No Cycle: At 10 to 15 kV/m, the side street lights at an intersection never turned green. The controller had been damaged.

4. Flash Mode: Also at 10 to 15 kV/m, the intersection went into a mode in which the lights in all directions were flashing. This mode can cause large traffic jams because traffic flow is severely reduced in this situation. The controller has either been damaged or needs to be manually reset.

Based on these results, it can be anticipated that an EMP will trigger moderate to severe traffic congestion in metropolitan areas. The traffic congestion may be exacerbated by the panic reactions possibly attendant to an EMP attack. None of the data predict or suggest life threatening conditions; conflicting green lights did not occur during the tests. All the observed effects would cause less traffic disruption than would a power outage, which results in no working traffic lights.


The potential EMP vulnerability of automobiles derives from the use of built-in electronics that support multiple functions within the vehicle.

With more than 100 microprocessors in modern vehicles, one might think that leaves newer cars more susceptible to being disrupted by an EMP, but due to higher standards in electromagnetic compatibility, this weakness has been mitigated.

The Commission tested a sample of 37 cars in an EMP simulation laboratory, with vehicle years ranging from 1986 through 2002. Automobiles of these vintages include extensive electronics and represent a significant portion of the vehicles on the road today.

Automobiles were subjected to EMP environments under both engine turned off and engine turned on conditions. No effects were subsequently observed in those automobiles that were not turned on during EMP exposure. The most serious effect observed on running automobiles was that the motors in three cars stopped at field strengths of approximately 30 kV/m or above. In an actual EMP exposure, these vehicles would glide to a stop and require the driver to restart them. Electronics in the dashboard of one automobile were damaged and required repair. Other effects were relatively minor. Twenty-five automobiles exhibited malfunctions that could be considered only a nuisance (e.g., blinking dashboard lights) and did not require driver intervention to correct. Eight of the 37 cars tested did not exhibit any anomalous response.

Based on these test results, the Commission expects few automobile effects at EMP field levels below 25 kV/m. Approximately 10 percent or more of the automobiles exposed to higher field levels may experience serious EMP effects, including engine stall, that require driver intervention to correct.


As is the case for automobiles, the potential EMP vulnerability of trucks derives from the trend toward increasing use of electronics. The Commission assessed the EMP vulnerability of trucks using an approach identical to that used for automobiles. Eighteen running and non-running trucks were exposed to simulated EMP in a laboratory. The intensity of the EMP fields was increased until either anomalous response was observed or simulator limits were reached. The trucks ranged from gasoline-powered pickup trucks to large diesel- powered tractors. Truck vintages ranged from 1991 to 2003.

Of the trucks that were not running during EMP exposure, none were subsequently affected during the test. Thirteen of the 18 trucks exhibited a response while running. Most seriously, three of the truck motors stopped. Two could be restarted immediately, but one required towing to a garage for repair. The other 10 trucks that responded exhibited relatively minor temporary responses that did not require driver intervention to correct. Five of the 18 trucks tested did not exhibit any anomalous response up to field strengths of approximately 50 kV/m.


- Kevin Hayden, Editor of the Truth is Treason blog

Mr. Rawles,
I have been reading your blog, particularly the Economics and Investing section, daily for about a year. (I had been turned on to your blog site after reading your novel "Patriots".) I believe that this free video would be interesting to your readers: The Secret of Oz. It is quite long but I have never seen the monetary system explained like this. For me, a lot of things make more sense taken in this light.

I don't think this information will change the fact that our current system is speeding toward a complete collapse but at least I think I understand better who caused it and how we might have avoided it long ago (now being beyond the point of no return).

I hope you find this film interesting. The full length documentary (nearly two hours long) is available free at YouTube.

Thank you for your wonderful blog and all that you do to help people educate themselves.

Kind regards, - Dan T.

JWR Replies: Mr. Still's documentary makes some valid points, most notably that debt-based currency in effect makes us slaves to the bankers. But Mr. Still misses one key point: 100% redeemable precious metals backing for a currency effectively limits the quantity of paper money that is issued. This is an inherently better system that one in which politicians are entrusted to not to over-issue currency. A non-debt based currency issued by the government (not by bankers) and that is specie-backed is the best option. As our 20th President, James Garfield once wrote: "Whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce...when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate. " Garfield was assassinated in 1881. OBTW, I recommend Mr. Still's previous documentary film project: The Money Masters.

The fallacy of cheap home prices and the two income trap – dual income households underscore massive housing inflation. Nationwide home prices overvalued by 25 percent.

Reader Judy G. sent this: "My family likes the Rice-a-Roni mixes. I would get them at Kroger often for $1.00 a box. Suddenly the price went to $1.47 a box. I switched to Wal-Mart (I hate to shop there) and found them for $1.12 a box. After many weeks, the Kroger price went to the" everyday low price" of $1.25. I am working on a substitute. I make a veggie cornbread for my parrots every two weeks, which I freeze. Jiffy brand cornbread mix was 41 cents per box at Kroger. Suddenly, it went to 44 cents per box. I did an Internet search and found a clone recipe using self rising flour, oil, an egg and cornmeal."

Tantalum Tom notes: "Candy bars used to be about 3 ounces each. But now, a Twix bar is down to 1.97 ounces., and a Snickers a tad above 2 ounces.

J.P. sent us this: Study shakes up scientists' view of San Andreas earthquake risk: Researchers find major quakes on the southern section, on average, every 88 years — three times as often as previously thought. It's the strongest evidence yet that we're overdue for a massive quake.

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Reader N.C. recommended the new Earth Changes Central - Survive PX web site. (Membership is required for most of the content.)

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Tamara linked to a pitiful video clip, at her blog: Tactical Tips. At least he sounded sincere. OBTW, don't miss the comments, that follow.

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Roger suggested a retrospective interview about Hurricane Katrina: In His Own Words - Brian Williams on Katrina. (In three parts, on YouTube.)

"I started noticing in the 1980s the growing gulf between the country's thought leaders, as they're called—the political and media class, the universities—and those living what for lack of a better word we'll call normal lives on the ground in America. The two groups were agitated by different things, concerned about different things, had different focuses, different world views. But I've never seen the gap wider than it is now. I think it is a chasm." - Peggy Noonan in an August, 2010 essay titled: America Is At Risk Of Boiling Over, in The Wall Street Journal

Monday, August 23, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I believe that in a severe crisis, most of the problems are going to have to be solved at the local level. State and federal government are too big and dependent on technology to survive a severe crisis once the grid drops and all services start to erode. Local governments, too, are ill prepared to assume this crushing responsibility, but they are much more resilient because their scope of control is smaller. Most of them have never even considered what they would do.

This article is a discussion piece to stimulate thought on the subject of small community recovery after TEOTWAWKI. I hope it will also be useful as a rough blueprint or checklist for local community leaders, or at least a starting point for a comprehensive plan. I wrote it from the perspective of a fictional town mayor. Most of the issues I mention apply to many levels of local government and law enforcement. I realize that A mayor never acts alone or has absolute power. They have a lot of people helping and advising them. I am hoping you will help yours make and implement the right decisions and that this paper will help in some small way.

Before I start spouting off about what I think will occur, I need to tell you who I am. I am a retired Army Electronic Warfare and Signals Intelligence Warrant Officer. I spent over a decade working on Army planning staffs at various levels, and was a professional action officer on the USAREUR DCSINT planning staff for more than four years. I got the rare opportunity to see many failed states and regional crisis and how people, communities and economies react. But I have never held any office in local government. Also, unfortunately, I am not a wizard who can see into the future. The following are my own conclusions and suggestions drawn from my own experiences. I may be wildly wrong, or overlooking factors that seem obvious to you, especially if you have a lot of experience in local government. So, take this for what it's worth. Hopefully, it will provide a basis for discussion and planning and generate a dialog. I am hoping to hear corrections and other ideas. I am never insulted by disagreement, so if you see things differently, I would be very happy to hear it.

First, we need to define what kind of crisis I am talking about. I am talking about a large scale disaster of some kind that effects a huge geographical region and forces local communities to solve their own problems and precludes getting help from outside. I am talking about an event that would cause a complete failure of basic services such as finance (banking) or the electrical grid and prevent the Government from repairing it quickly enough to prevent a general cascading breakdown of other services. I will use a major EMP event as my example because that would be just about a worst case event. Some of what I say will be applicable to regional or short term events, but some of it won't.

I believe that most communities are doomed. Many American and European communities are artificial constructs entirely dependent on modern society to keep them running. You can tell if your town cannot survive by looking at the population density, arable land, water supplies and other resources. If your community is in a desert and trucks in all their water, you can't possibly survive long term. If your whole population is suburban or urban and you have no working farms or farmable land, then you are doomed. Sorry. If you live in a doomed community, I don't know what to tell you. For this article, I am assuming a smallish town with a good water supply and a lot of working farms that don't require electric irrigation. Even a perfectly situated town will have huge problems and may not survive a major EMP event. Anything less than perfection is going to require superhuman effort, no mistakes and a large touch of luck.

Somebody has to take charge quickly:
Anarchy is the dirtiest word in the English language and should be avoided at all costs. Whenever I see some teenager wearing a T-shirt espousing anarchy, I get a strong urge to show him a little anarchy by beating him up and ripping it off his back..and then ask him if he still thinks Anarchy is "cool". I have seen chaos and virtual anarchy up close and I was frankly astonished at the depravity of mankind. Without law and order of some kind, the strong will take from the weak. The cruel will torture and kill wantonly. Rule of law is essential to any progress or recovery. I am writing this in the firm belief that when our society crashes, some communities will maintain order and some vestige of humanity. That's going to require a delicate balancing act because the two concepts are not mutually reinforcing and can be at odds with each other. Communities are going to have to make some very hard choices if they are to maintain order and survive. Lets hope they can maintain their humanity and Christian values while they are doing this.

Let's imagine that you are the mayor of a small town when this horrible event occurs. The lights go out, most cars don't work, and personal battery powered electronics malfunction. How quickly would most small town mayors realize it was EMP? I am guessing that most of them will figure it out within minutes or hours. There are enough smart folks around to advise them even if they are not knowledgeable. So what are your actions going to be?

What are your resources? The town owns some land and some buildings, some vehicles and maybe some utility equipment. But by far, your biggest asset is a limited amount of capital in the form of authority and good will. You represent a body of voters, which gives you more legal legitimacy than anyone else. You have a police force of some kind and the authority to spend money on behalf of the government...sort of. Your authority is real, but it's based on some fairly fragile cornerstones. Some of them may not exist anymore. The monetary system may be completely wrecked. You may not be able to pay anyone for anything. The Federal and State Governments are both out of communications and may not exist anymore. Any indecision or misstep on your part could destroy your authority, leaving nothing in it's place.

What, exactly is your authority? Where does it overlap with county or other governments? What gives you the authority to maintain order? Impose martial law? Appoint armed deputies, Set up roadblocks? Commandeer fuel and food stocks? The Army NCO academy teaches that there are five types of power that an individual can wield. You will need to use all of them.

a. Legal: You have limited direct "Command authority" in a military sense. Unless you have a body of laws to back you up, you can't lean on your command authority too much. Check on this, but your town is unlikely to have bylaws giving you much power in an emergency. Instead, you have to assume that you possess Delegated authority. You are the representative of both State and Federal government and have to assume their roles and responsibilities until you can re-establish a chain of command. In the absence of orders or directives, you are free to "assume" responsibility and authority. At least that's a good legal theory and may be enough. If this were ever tested in court, it might not be upheld, but by that time, the crisis will be over, right? Everything you do is "Legal" until you are overruled by a court...or ousted by a mob of your constituents. Your real authority is your mandate from the people. It rests on your ability to make sound decisions and convince others that you are doing all the right things. That buys you more authority in a crisis than all the documents ever printed.

b. Coercive: Unfortunately, brute force is always a factor. As long as you maintain control over the police force or sheriff's department, you have authority. You must gain firm control of your police and public employees first, before you try to do anything else. Without them, your authority can be dissolved by a few hot-heads with weapons. You are going to be forced to make some very unpopular decisions and part of your community is going to be extremely angry with you. Get your troops in place first or you won't keep your authority long. You must also be very careful not to abuse this authority or let your troops abuse it. A good way to do this is to immediately beef up your police force with out of work, solid citizens. You can take on a fairly large number of deputies from the community. That gives the community a sense of ownership in the police and helps prevent excesses.

c. Reward: You will initially have almost no ability to reward anyone. If the finance system is gone, you have nothing to trade for goods and services. You will need to change this immediately by setting up some kind of economy for your town. (This topic is covered below). If you don't lick this problem immediately, your police and city employees are going to stop showing up for work very quickly. They have to feed and protect their families somehow.

d. Charisma: Unfortunately, (or fortunately perhaps) personal charisma and magnetism are much more important than we like to admit. If you can sway a crowd or argue persuasively, it doesn't matter if you are right or wrong. This sword cuts both ways, of course. You are going to have to face very charismatic personalities around town and persuade them to go along with you, or at least stay neutral. You need to gain the immediate support of community and church leaders. Figure out who can cause you political trouble and approach them to get them on your side or otherwise neutralize them, or you will be facing a "minority party" that will eventually oust you.

A good tool for dealing with dissension is to trap your opponents into stating a preferred way to resolve some problem and then enlist them to oversee it. There are a lot of ways to "skin a cat". Let them try their way if it can work. Pull them into your administration. Remember, you are all on the same team at some level. Find that level and stay on it. I believe that in a crisis, everyone has a tendency to follow anyone with a firm voice and the appearance of a plan. Just be sure you have a good plan and you will keep dissension to a minimum.

e. Expert: Knowledge is power. Anyone with unique and useful knowledge has value and power. It's much easier to sway an audience if you have a degree in the topic or an acknowledged expert in your corner. You should surround yourself with experts. When a new problem arises and an expert or two are identified, pull them into your circle of advisers. Doing this not only makes you a better leader with better decisions, it gives all of your followers the sense that you are open to suggestions and good ideas from any quarter.

So, you take charge quickly and start issuing orders. What are those orders?You have a lot of things to worry about, and all of them are urgent and critically important. The following is my list of issues that you need to address immediately and some suggestions on how to address them. Local conditions, laws, resources and public opinions are variables that effect how you must react. Think it out in the context of your local conditions and try to at least have a tentative plan to put forward immediately. The venue for putting forth your agenda should be as transparent as possible, either a public meeting or a written decree or order. That way, everyone not only knows your decisions, they know the reasoning behind them. If you can get consensus from a town meeting before you put out an emergency decree, you will have less trouble,but some of these issues require immediate action.

1. Communications:
Without communications, you are powerless. You must be able to communicate with your police department and other public service folks, the people of the town, the county seat, the State, and lots of others. Unfortunately, a big EMP event will wipe out electronic communications in a blink and leave you isolated, just when you need to be at the center of activity. There are a couple of things you can do to mitigate this if you plan ahead, but you are still going to have to somehow establish some kind of communications with your neighboring towns and other polities...and hopefully higher echelons of government.

If you can store some short range radio equipment and maybe some old-school TA-312 or TA-1 type telephones in a Faraday cage, they will be worth their weight in gold. Even a few old telephones (and wire) can enable you to keep in touch with the town down the road, or your own guard posts. Another thing to add to your Faraday cage is a couple of battery-powered shortwave receivers. These will allow you to catch long range HF broadcasts from working stations possibly overseas. Shortwave may be your most reliable source of news. A ham radio rig, if it survives, might be very useful too.

If you don't have working radios, think back to a time when radio and even telephone didn't exist. Our founding fathers didn't have those luxuries and still managed. The solution is a central, easy to find headquarters, official written communications, and messengers. You will need plenty of paper, (with your office letterhead if possible), envelopes and some kind of official seal you can use. You might even consider a wax seal, like they used in the 18th century, but a notary seal (or something similar) with your signature over the top will look a lot more official than a blank paper. You will also need carbon paper or a working copier, but probably won't have them.

Small communities in the past used church bells, beacon lights, gongs, bugles, whistles, sirens and flags to communicate locally. These methods require some planning, but they still work.

Public notice boards were a major tool of government in the days before electricity. Designate a board outside city hall or somewhere convenient and section it off into five sections (or more if you wish). Post public policies and directives in one section and "good advice" such as water purification procedures in another. A third section of the notice board should contain a calendar or event log to keep people advised on upcoming events. (Also, you should somehow let people know what day it is). A fourth section of the board can contain news items picked up on the shortwave or from other communities.

The fifth [and very large] section should be made open to the public. Remember, they have no reliable communications means and may need to link up with missing relatives or communicate privately with other community members. A board is a good way to do this and can substitute for a public mail service. Set up a drop box for personal messages (controlled by someone at city hall or at the post office or whatever) and maintain a list of people with "refugee mail" on the public notice board. That way, if someone wants to send a letter or something to anyone else, they drop an envelope in the drop box and write the addressee's name (and a date) on the public board. When the addressee picks up his mail, he crosses his name off the list. Any person traveling to a nearby town can carry mail to that town.

You may need to regulate your public notice board by requiring people to date their notices and limit the time something can remain posted. Otherwise, the public board will quickly get out of hand, no matter how big it is. Try not to get too draconian. Allow people to post anything they want (subject to whatever constraints make sense to the town). Your board may be the best and only information service most people have.

You should also expect to do a lot of face to face meetings with crowds and individuals. Consider setting up a weekly town meeting where you can put out orders and public service information in person and invite discussion. Town meetings used to be a great source of entertainment and gave everyone a chance to blow off some steam about things that bothered them. When electronics fail,You will need to be able to do a lot of business face-to-face. If you move your headquarters to an easily accessible area, like downtown main-street, or near a marketplace, everything may be easier. Unfortunately, messengers and face to face conversations require working transportation of some kind (as discussed below).

2. Building an emergency economy
You are going to have to set up some kind of economy to replace the crashed finance system. You are not going to be able to rebuild the crashed economy, but will have to build an entirely new system, almost from scratch. If you get this one wrong, everything else will fall apart very quickly. This is a huge undertaking, but it must be done quickly. You simply cannot use the existing financial system or hope to rebuild it. About 4/5ths of your town will need food and most of the town's food will be owned by a very few individuals or controlled by a store manager in the case of a corporate chain store. If you allow the market to "work itself out", these few store managers or individuals will suddenly control all the wealth and be able to charge people anything they see fit...or withhold critical resources as the whim takes them. Some people will have nothing of value in the new economy [except their labor]. How will these people buy what they need? "Money" is not the fiat currency we are used to dealing with. It is something of value exchanged for something else of value. Any finance system has to be able to allow people to exchange what they need for what they have or it will fail. In this example, the likely results might be a riot and immediate looting.

Mitigation: None possible? I don't know how you can prepare your town for a total financial crash. If anyone has a suggestion, I would love to hear it.

We might as well deal with this topic right away. Are you going to try to have a strictly capitalist system? If so, a lot of people who don't currently have exactly what they need, or anything that happens to be valued in your new economy, are going to die. (More likely, they are going to revolt and try to take the resources they need.) A free market is a wonderful thing, but it requires time, security and communication to form. You won't have any of these. People who don't have food won't wait long enough for you to form a fully functional free market system, which could take months or years. Without perceived equitable distribution of "wealth" in the form of whatever your community members need, you will have violence and mayhem very quickly. A free market capitalist trade system will never get a chance to form without a precursor system to hold it up until it gets established.

In my humble opinion (after seeing many different monetary systems over the years) there is no alternative to adding a very large socialist component to a post-collapse emergency economy. If you don't strictly regulate critical resources, they will not be distributed equitably and many people will needlessly suffer and perhaps die. Even if that's okay with you, consider what you would do in their shoes. Would you watch your family starve while there was food on the shelves down at the Wal-Mart? Not very likely. You might decide to gather some like-minded folks up and storm the Wal-Mart. If the police try to stop you, what will you do? You will fight to the death because there is no valid alternative. For that matter, the police force may be leading the charge. What are you planning to pay them with? Patriotism? Whoever controls the food and other scarce resources controls the reins of power. It simply cannot be left in the hands of random individuals.

To avoid total anarchy in a societal collapse, you will need to form a centrally controlled economy in the short term, designed to equitably re-distribute and manage critical resources. You will need to slowly build a free market as you are able, but trying to do it immediately will undermine everything you must accomplish during the crisis.

In order to form a centralized economy or even pay for the services the town is going to desperately need, you need to gain control of most of the "publicly available" critical shortage resources and use them as your basis of wealth. Scarce resources are the basis for a currency system. At a very basic level, Food is cash. Once you have a warehouse of food under your tight control, you can pay for labor and other commodities and resources with that food. A better system might be to pay for labor and services with "ration cards". That ration card entitles them to eat a single meal at a community soup kitchen, or entitles them to a set amount of grain or other commodity on demand from the town warehouse. In essence anyone needing community resources "works for the community" and gets to eat at the mess hall...and earns a little surplus to use for other necessities. This arrangement will also give you a huge manpower pool to work with almost immediately. You may find that you will need most of them.

Avoid giving "handouts" to anyone. You need everyone to work as hard as they can. You need them to use their incentive. Handouts that compete with the local economy are counterproductive and destroy human dignity.

Without machinery, manpower is your biggest resource. Cherish each unemployed citizen. Make them work for their pay and use them to build capital for the future (see below), food production, military duties, messenger services, trash collection or anything else that needs doing. Remember, these are not freeloaders, they are solid citizens who want to work and feel like they are part of a larger effort. Don't worry about having so many people on "welfare". Most of them will get to be self sufficient as fast as they are able. Pay them a slight surplus and they will feel that they are working toward something and not living hand to mouth. You may find that they invest the surplus and build your free market economy for you.

If you let private citizens keep their food and fuel and other scarce resources and only confiscate and control corporate or "large retail or wholesale stocks" (explained below), any citizen with resources can also hire help at roughly the same rates you are paying, which helps the whole community and drives down demand for public stockpiles. (You have established a minimum wage of 1 ration card per hour). Everything else could be bartered using food or the town ration cards as currency. If you establish a set value for your ration cards and a safe marketplace in town (perhaps even a market day, where other communities can join in the trading), you have the beginnings of a free market with as little pain as possible and almost no stink of socialism. Since food is established as the gold standard, you also add incentive to immediately start farming, hunting, and otherwise adding to the public larder.

So where do you get the resources you are going to control? I am not talking about collecting up everyone's food and gasoline. That would be an economic disaster in the long term. People need to feel secure in their property rights or they won't be willing to invest in the future. And you need a lot of private investment to get your community through the crisis. You will need to collect taxes later, but not until there is a harvest or something to collect.

You have to be careful which resources you initially confiscate and only gather large retail or wholesale stocks meant for re-sale. Anything owned by an individual for his own use is his property and must not be touched. Any critical and scarce commodity owned strictly for resale should be confiscated for the common good and held by the community. Make sure you provide a receipt to any owners you can locate or at least keep records of what is taken. This will allow much easier accounting if someone ever tries to rebuild the old

Our free enterprise system has provided the opportunity for some families and even individuals to amass huge fortunes. It also allowed groups of individuals to "incorporate" to form legal entities that own vast resources. In normal times, this is an overall goodness that generates wealth and (at least in theory) raises everyone's standard of living. In normal times, an individual is free to own thousands of acres of land and all the minerals under it. He is allowed to farm it, bulldoze it, burn it, deny it's use to others or use it pretty much any way he wants. It's almost certain that critical resources in your community are "owned" by a corporation or private investor. In theory, a single individual can legally "own" all the arable land in a community and prevent anyone from farming it, even if they are starving.

In an emergency, I feel that this cannot and must not be allowed. Moral imperatives and common sense must prevail over law in some rare cases and this is one of those cases. Private property for use by the individual is morally different from corporate property or privately owned property that is held for the "wealth" it generates. If someone "owns" something and has no intention of ever using it himself (or even seeing it), he cannot morally control it in an emergency. I believe that corporations are legal fictions that have exactly as much validity as the rest of our complex finance system. When the dollar crashes and all the banks close, (IMHO) they cease to exist in a moral sense.

Any corporate or investment property belongs to the state in an emergency. Did that sentence scare you? It does me. But I believe it will come to pass. The state has the ultimate responsibility to answer to the people and has legal power over all corporate entities. The government's charter (by constitution and a huge jurisprudence system) is to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. In normal times, this is best accomplished by jealously guarding a clearly documented body of property rights for individuals and corporations. But this is not a universal law of nature. If corporate interests collide with public welfare needs, the government has the right and the responsibility to negate corporate or individual rights for the common good.

As mayor of a community, you are going to have to make some hard choices and convince others that you are right. One of these choices might be to confiscate corporate property and redistribute it as needed for the common good. That specifically includes local merchants who hold stockpiles of needed resources meant for resale, such as gas station and grocery store owners. The whole retail system with it's complex accounting and "ownership" laws are part of a finance system that no longer exists after a severe EMP event. You (and your community) need to sit down and determine a whole new set of ownership rules. I urge you to think hard about this and perhaps appoint someone wise and respected to arbitrate individual cases. Farmable land owned by a absentee landlord is easy; he's not there and owns it only as an investment, therefore it now belongs to the community. Large corporate holdings, like the stock of a chain department store are easy matters. That corporation is dead and gone and the goods now belong to the community. A large Agra-business hog farm is easy, confiscate the hogs and their feed. But what about a silo of corn owned by a Co-op of local farmers? What about a local farmer with 1,000 acres of standing corn clearly meant for commercial sale? What about a rancher with 100 head of cattle? You really have to be careful where you draw the line between private ownership and "retail goods", but draw it you must. Your new government is going to need a lot of capital to survive the tribulations coming.

3. Transportation and fuel
Your police and city vehicles may not work after an EMP event. In my opinion, the testing of EMP effects on vehicles outlined in the congressional EMP report "2008 Critical National Infrastructures Report" was flawed. Their simulator was only capable of generating 50kv EMP and only generated a E1 event, not the (perhaps) more damaging E3 wave. The cars were tested only until they exhibited a fault of some kind and then the testing was halted. Many of the vehicles showed some kind of failure or "faults" at lower voltages, but were never subjected to high voltage EMP, yet the conclusion includes these cars as having survived with no permanent damage.

Also, there is no reason to assume that 50kv is the upper limit in a real world HEMP event, it was simply the limit of the test gear available. I believe the test gear used was strongly influenced by the Master's degree thesis by Louis W. Seiler, Jr., "A Calculational Model for High Altitude EMP, report ADA009208". That thesis, while brilliant, computes E1 gamma burst for the peak EMP at ground zero for a burst above the magnetic equator, where the Earth's magnetic field is far weaker than it is at high latitudes (nearer the poles). Further North or South, the magnetic field lines converge (increasing the magnetic field strength). It's generally accepted that the peak EMP is almost directly proportional to the power of the Earth's magnetic field. That means that real world voltages in real world equipment may easily exceed 50kv. In fact we have some evidence of this. The Soviet above-ground warhead test #184 produced ground zero EMP intensity estimated by Soviet scientists at 350 kV. Also, remember that the cars used in the commission's testing were older cars build between 1986 and 2002. Have cars gotten more EMP resistant since then? No. My conclusion is simple. A lot of cars may not survive a real world event.

If a lot of vehicles survive, fuel stocks may be depleted almost immediately unless you take steps to protect them. I know this sounds draconian, but the police force and emergency vehicles should have priority for fuel and the only way to assure this is to implement some kind of rationing plan immediately. Fuel stocks are a public resource owned by private citizens. Once they are gone, your community may never get any more. This is a case where you are going to have to exercise some emergency powers and appropriate property from private citizens. If possible, you should "pay" for the fuel immediately. If you cannot, at least make sure you give the rightful owner a receipt so you can pay him back later if someone manages to re-build the economy.

Keep your town's vehicles in good shape and look into storing them inside a shielded garage when off duty. Being indoors may prevent some of the damage. If you are able to afford it, buy a reserve fuel supply for the police department. I don't know how much this would cost for a specific town, or how much fuel it should hold, but if you could somehow talk the town into the merits of a municipal reserve to last even a few weeks, it might someday prove very useful. If you bought two tanks, sized to last the police department a month or less, you wouldn't have any extra expense for fuel additives. You could rotate your fuel.

As distasteful as this is to Americans, I can't see any alternative likely to work. You need to seize and ration all bulk stocks of gasoline, Diesel, propane, fuel oil, coal and other fuels used or held by the town. The town will desperately need these fuels for heating, emergency services and agriculture. You may also be forced to confiscate privately owned vehicles if yours are damaged or you need specialty vehicles (like fuel tankers, for instance). You need to work out a method of doing this without stealing. Any time you confiscate resources from any private citizen, you need to somehow reimburse them as fairly as possible. A better approach may be to exclusively hire them as the driver and let them retain ownership.

Your town may also have a stream of refugees pouring through or past it from a nearby city. This is a very bad situation that has to be dealt with immediately. If they have access to your town's fuel stocks, they will drain every drop in a day or two. This may need to be your first order in an emergency. Every hour you delay may be critical. (Refugees are discussed below).

Another distasteful, yet lucrative opportunity you may have is to confiscate fuel (and other resources) from passing highway traffic. Whether you call this piracy or taxation, If trucks are still moving on the big highways, they may contain resources your town really needs to survive. I am not suggesting that this is a moral or desirable option, but someone in your community is bound to bring it up. Think out your position in advance and be ready to argue your point. Personally, I believe that any interference in long range commerce or transportation is detrimental to all of society and also undermines the very laws that prop up your own authority. No matter what you call it, the act of a government stealing is a slippery slope.

4. Water and sewage

Modern towns are very wasteful of water, but can't survive without it for more than a few days. Most people have never thought about how to purify water or deal with waste. If you don't do something quickly, a lot of your citizens are going to start defecating outdoors and many of your citizens are going to drink unsafe water. The results will be catastrophic in terms of public health.

Your town may be in good shape, but probably not. You will want to get some expert advice on this immediately. Many towns rely on pumped water, often from towers in or near the town. If so, you have a few days until the tanks run dry. You will need to figure out a way to keep this system going if you can. You still need to add chlorine and get the water high enough to maintain water pressure. If the machinery for doing this is broken, you need to set a crew working on water immediately.

Some towns won't be able to keep their water flowing and will have to use extreme measures to provide water for their people and deal with wastes. You may have to haul water to a central point and purify it manually, or even set up public latrines and wash points. Without ready supplies of water, most private residences are going to be uninhabitable in the long run. The folks with homes you cannot supply may need to move closer to your water point.

Talk to your water providers now and get them thinking about it so they can come up with options for you. Ask them to do a formal assessment of your town's situation and resources and suggest mitigation strategies for emergencies. What do they need to manually run their system during a power outage? If they can't run manually, you might consider buying a backup generator to run pumps and machinery. (Make sure you budget for a good Faraday cage to protect this generator and keep it disconnected and keep all cables inside the cage until needed). You may need to stockpile fuel or extra chemicals or buy extra equipment that can be run manually. If your town can't afford any of this, You may need to buy some mobile water tanks for the town. Any of these preparations could be very useful during a whole range of situations and natural disasters.

These will depend on your town's system. But you need to keep your eye on the ball. You need to provide at least a gallon of water per resident every day, just to keep them alive. You will need much more than that to keep them healthy in the long run. You also need to tell the community how to get pure water and warn them against drinking or using tainted water. Is your area dependent on irrigation agriculture? You will need to figure out how to supply that water too.

5. Solid waste disposal and burial of dead.
Without fuel, trash collection and burial can be very laborious. These problems would be a lot simpler if everyone lived within easy walking distance of town, but unfortunately this is almost never the case in the US. You may need to solve this by distributing simple instructions on how to do it using old-school techniques. Old homesteaders had an outhouse to deal with sewage, a compost pile to deal with organic waste and a burn barrel (or fireplace) to get rid of burnables. Anything else, they threw in the "trash pile" out back. (The solid trash pile for non-rotting, non-burnable trash was often a used outhouse cesspool, which was then covered over with dirt). On the bright side, municipal rubbish volumes are going to diminish and be replaced mostly with compost-able plant waste. Anything that can be recycled and reused, like old cardboard boxes will be treasured and kept. Our throw-away society will be over.

Burial and funeral services used to be handled very locally at the neighborhood church or even on your own property. Embalming and cremation are modern innovations that will be too expensive to maintain. [JWR Adds: The only exceptions will be in heavily-timbered regions or in coastal communities that are in driftwood deposition zones. There, perhaps there will be plentiful firewood for use in outdoor cremation pyres.] You will need your medical people to oversee and recommend procedures for burial. Make sure they consult the church leaders or you may make problems for yourself.

Actions: Check with a local doctor and have him recommend procedures for waste disposal. Find a way to distribute them and encourage people to follow the procedures by explaining why.

6. Food. (Short term provisioning)
This is going to be a real problem. You need to provide some minimum of calories and nutrition for all your citizens until the community can grow (and the free market can distribute) all the food needed by the community. This is going to be a tall order. Most people don't store a substantial amount of food in their homes and will quickly be dependent on town stocks. Most of the food in most communities is owned by very few people or corporations.

The only way you are going to save a substantial percentage of your population over the short term is to gain control of and ration most of the food centrally. You are going to have to locate and safeguard as much food as possible. you will need to establish a warehouse of some sort and guard it well. Pre-historic villages and other primitive cultures always locate their food stocks in the center of their living space to ensure it is guarded. This might be a wise choice. You may be able to use a church, school or other public building close to the town center for this purpose. If that building also has a substantial kitchen and cafeteria that you can get working again, it will save a lot of transportation problems.

Don't be shocked if your town is forced to fight some other town to keep the food you stockpile. Historically, when food gets scarce, communities fight and take what they need. Be ready for this behavior. I would station my police force inside my granary, in the center of town if possible.

Sources of food you can confiscate or otherwise control:

a. Department stores and food stores: Large food stores are the most obvious place to look for food. They will not last long whether you confiscate the food or not. People are going to either buy or loot everything in a matter of days or even hours. Unfortunately retail stores don't maintain much stock these days. If it's not on the shelves, it's probably not in the back room either. With modern stocking practices, nobody maintains a well-stocked warehouse on site anymore. The non-refrigerated foods should all be salvageable, but if you hurry, you might be able to make use of much of the frozen foods and fresh produce or even salt some away using other preservation techniques before it goes bad.

b. Co-ops and large commercial farms: These may have livestock and large amounts of feed grain and other dried foods on hand. Whoever manages these establishments are also probably experts at food preservation, storage and a whole range of agricultural issues. Seek them out and get their input and help to secure their food. You want to avoid spoilage and loss as much as possible and these people can help. Hire them. You may need to keep the grain right where it's at (and guard it) or provide power (if possible) to dry out the grain or you may need to provide manpower to manually harvest crops. Listen to your experts.

c. Feed stores: Most animals in your community are going to have to be slaughtered during the first year. Save as much edible feed as possible for human consumption. Most feed mixes are good for humans to eat. Even the big bags of dog food should be preserved. You will probably need them. They are mostly grain and if ground into flour and thoroughly cooked, all of them are safe to eat. Alfalfa pellets and other "non-human-food" products may be used to feed livestock.

d. Pet stores. Bird seed is nothing but grain and oil seeds. Most pet foods are edible and should be saved for human consumption. The issue of what to do with pets is going to be a hard one, but logic dictates that the community refrain from using up useful food stocks on animals unless they add substantially to the local economy. However, keep in mind that people get very emotional about their pets. If you try to get people to give up their animals, they may lynch you. (Your commissary should sell the pet foods, just like they do people food. If the pet owners work hard enough to support their animals, you should not try to get heavy handed. Any other approach will put you at odds with part of your population.)

e. Regional distribution centers: If you are fortunate enough to have one or more of these in your reach, you should act immediately to secure them. These centers typically have very substantial stocks of food on hand. Unfortunately, much of this food requires refrigeration and will go bad very quickly. The centers with dried and canned goods will be in big demand very quickly, so you need to dispatch work parties (with lots of trucks) as quickly as you can organize them.

f. Standing commercial crops: Depending on the season, one of the first tasks you need to tackle may be to help farmers with their harvest or planting or other tasks. Modern farms are only manageable with the aid of heavy machinery. Without this machinery, even routine tasks are not possible. Without combines, farmers couldn't possibly complete their own harvests. Without security of some kind, their crops may never make it to maturity. Refugees would strip them bare without your help. You can strike a deal with farmers to bring in their crops and help in return for some kind of payment in kind or a cut of their crop and others in the area. (Remember, most farmers are mono-crop farmers with little use for 60 tons of corn with no market). They may be more interested in what you can provide in the form of machinery, power or labor. Talk to them, explain your situation and strike a deal that benefits both of you.

g. Lakes and rivers: Fishing resources are very limited, but important sources of food in many areas if you can protect them. You need to prevent poachers from destroying their production capacity by over-fishing (maybe with dynamite) or polluting water resources.

h. Bakeries and food processing plants: Processing plants usually have very limited stocks of food on hand, but may have quite a lot depending on what they are making. They may also have usable machinery that can be converted to use.

i. Colleges, Libraries and bookstores. These don't contain food, but they contain knowledge about foraging for wild plants. You may be able to extend your resources by sending out forage parties to collect locally growing wild resources. If you get lucky, you might be able to gather a large harvest of acorns or maple seed or some other highly prolific food species. Appoint someone (maybe a survivalist or old hippie) as "wild food forager" and cross your fingers.

Things to watch for are large grain mills and industrial cooking equipment. You may also find water pumps, power generation equipment, specialized vehicles, lathes, mills, presses and other industrial tools. If you can repair the EMP damage, power them and get them working, they can speed the recovery of your community and really enhance your economy.

Actions: Appoint a good commissary officer. Someone is going to have to oversee collection, storage and disbursement of not only food supplies but fuel, tools, fertilizers, seeds and other resources. Your commissary officer needs to be a very smart, honest person and he or she will need a fairly large staff. They are going to have broad powers, so find somebody that is morally good. Whoever you appoint needs excellent people skills and the meticulous attention to detail of a banker. This same person is really in charge of your whole economy and will probably be in charge of printing currency if you use it. A bank manager might be a good choice. If you have political opposition in the community, this is an excellent place to put them if they are up to the job. Once they are "holding the baby" they will be on your side and won't be able to accuse you of any misbehavior.

7. Heat and shelter:
When winter hits, you may be faced with a grave heating fuel shortage. People staying in private homes may not have access to heating fuel at all. The town council is probably going to have some number of refugees to care for and they require heat too. Your community may use oil, gas, wood or something else for heating and each of them pose their own problems. You will need to think this issue out in the context of your own community situation and come up with some kind of solution. The most efficient solution, of course is to co-locate everyone in a few larger buildings and heat them at 65-68 degrees. Setting up a shelter has it's own problems, but it's easier than trying to heat 500 single family shelters. The public shelter model of setting up in a big gymnasium can work, but it provides a very efficient vector for respiratory and other diseases. If you can provide each family (or multiple families) with a classroom or office room of their own, they will be much more comfortable and resistant to diseases.

Providing a warm place to sleep may be all you can manage. Some homes are going to be difficult or impossible to heat once the power grid goes down and the oil trucks stop delivery. You should make every effort to conserve liquid fuels that will be needed for spring planting and emergency machinery.

Mitigation: Location specific. You may be able to encourage your citizens to switch over to an alternate fuel source (like wood, if your community has a lot of forests nearby). Stockpiling fuel for the town may be a good idea if you can afford it, but this is a temporary solution. Look around your town for some suitable shelter buildings and food storage facilities and check out their heating and ventilation equipment. You may be able to improve your chosen buildings or buy alternate heating systems for them within your budget constraints. Laying in a large supply of cots and blankets is a good idea.

Actions: You should immediately set up a shelter and cafeteria of some kind after the emergency. Schools are probably your best choice for this. You will probably have homeless almost from the start, so you need to get this done quickly. Home fires are bound to be more common and some people who live too far from town will need to move closer to the cafeteria. The more people you can get to move into your shelter, the easier it will be to heat. (Each human radiates roughly the same heat as a 100 watt light bulb. It adds up fast.) Make things easy on yourself and appoint someone competent (a school principal for instance) to administer your lodging and cafeteria. The principal already has a staff dependent on the city payroll. You will probably have to feed your teachers and school staff anyway, so hire them to administer your shelters. Administration of a shelter is a big, frustrating job, so make sure you appoint someone level headed to oversee this effort.

8. Security and public order:
Whatever your town's current situation, you will probably need to greatly expand your security forces. In fact you will probably need an Army. During normal times, your town doesn't have it's own foreign policy or the need to defend itself. With a general society collapse, that changes. Your town will need the ability to fight off raiders or even other communities.

a. Some of your own civilian population is going to get unruly. Even a small percentage acting up can overwhelm your current police force. You need some way to punish them and bring them in line. Jails are inefficient and expensive and not very effective at curbing bad behavior. I suggest a simpler system of corporal punishment (whipping or caning) and for serious infractions or repeat offenders, expulsion from the community. Find a judge or other competent person to set up a simple system of justice that fits your circumstances, take a vote at a town meeting to get public buy-in and then appoint someone to run it. Your police force should be distanced from both judgment and punishment. Judgment and punishment should be accomplished by a different group, perhaps a randomly selected jury or something equally simple and fair.

b. You are going to have additional requirements for officers (or someone) to act as "messengers" to put out policies and community information. Without electronic communications, much more of your business has to be done in person.

c. You are almost certain to have extensive guard duty requirements. You will need to provide point security for foodstocks, livestock, roadblocks and critical resources like fuel, power generation, etc. Your uniformed police force is too valuable to bog down with these security positions. You need to hire out of work locals to augment them with a reliable guard force. (I recommend handing this responsibility over to your military...see below).

d. You may need to put a 24 hour presence at roadblocks or traffic control points to divert refugees away from your town. (see below for a discussion of refugees).

e. You may face a threat from outside polities. If so, you will need an Army or you will be destroyed. You may have to mobilize the entire population to fend off other communities. (see below for a discussion of inter-community politics.)

Your security forces are your "face" to the community. They will represent the town and embody your decisions and authority. You need to keep a tight reign on your police forces or some of them are going to be tempted to take unwarranted liberties and abuse their authority.

One of your first actions should probably be to call your security forces and emergency responders together and reaffirm your covenant with them. You need to reassure them that they are still going to be paid and their families taken care of. You need to get buy-in from them and make them feel they are part of something important and bigger than mere survival. Let them know your plans and your thoughts as clearly as possible so they can represent you well. You should also let them know that you will tolerate no misbehavior. They are your knights and have to act the part.

You should also set up some kind of "military" arm to deal with extraordinary requirements. Call it a militia or a town guard or whatever you want. In essence it's an army. If you have any doubts about the loyalty of your police chief or sheriff, the military arm should report directly to you or one of your representatives rather than falling under the police. All of your authority rests on the shoulders of your security forces, so you can't tolerate any dissension in the ranks or misbehavior. Choose someone loyal and skilled with a military background and good people skills to head up your military. Hopefully you have a retired officer or senior NCO available. Whoever it is will have to be able to effectively give orders to perhaps hundreds of people in an emergency, so choose someone charismatic and smart. He will also need an excellent grasp of tactics and the ability to plan for small scale military operations. Let your military commander hire his own personnel, arm and train them and instruct your commissary and police force to assist him in anyway possible.

Your military commander's first task will be to do some kind of terrain analysis and COA products to determine how to defend the community and try to predict future issues. His second task will be to build an effective military force. It should probably be a small offensive force backed up by a larger irregular militia comprising most of the town. He will need to set up some kind of training program and be able to pay people to participate. Military training is hard work, so don't expect anyone to take it seriously or work at it if you are not paying them. You can put your military commander in charge of all the guard duty requirements to assist the police as well as messenger duties.

9. Foreign relations and refugees:
Every community is going to face the same challenges you have. I expect most of them will fail and fragment. I also expect a huge outpouring of refugees from every city in the USA. City based communities have huge challenges that small towns won't. They have limited options and maintaining order will be desperately hard, perhaps impossible. Every community and group of people are going to face terrible, unsolvable provisioning problems. The ugly truth is, most citizens of the USA are going to starve to death after a society crash. It's simple arithmetic. There will not be enough food for everyone to live. Even if most of them last through a whole season until the first harvest, there is no chance that the first [post-collapse] harvest is going to be bountiful enough to sustain everyone.

The following is going to read like science fiction [a la Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank], but I call em like I see 'em. If anyone can find a flaw in my analysis, then please tell me about it. I believe you can expect large polities to attempt to take resources from smaller ones. If you are the mayor of a city with 100,000 or more people, you have no other choice. During normal times, the countryside (agrarian areas) produce all the food consumed by cities. Once the provisions stop arriving, your city is going to starve very quickly unless you can procure more. Your normal sources of supply are perhaps a thousand miles distant and might as well be on the moon. Your actual chances of sustaining your population long term are zero. If you are a smart leader, you will attempt to save most of your people by sending them to other communities that have more food and water. If you are not so smart, you will attempt to take what you need to keep going from the surrounding countryside and small nearby communities. The best a small community can hope for is that all the large polities (cities) nearby will fail and fragment quickly. If they don't the small communities may be forced to take in refugees or surrender food stocks to support the cities. Either way, the city people are mostly doomed, but if this occurs, so are the small communities.

A medium sized city could potentially muster an enormous army. I am not saying every city is going to manage the level of cohesion, organization and discipline needed to do this, but it's at least a possibility in some cases, especially for cities that have a military base nearby. You also need to consider smaller polities like boroughs or neighborhoods or even church congregations making demands on your community. How will you react when the mayor of a nearby town or city asks you for provisions?

Another probable development I expect to see is the "professional army". Groups may attempt to provision themselves by threatening small communities and extorting "protection" from them. This is another layer of taxation you probably can't afford, but if you choose not to pay, you must be prepared to fight. Think about it and make sure you discuss your concerns with your security leadership so they can form plans.

You can also expect to see a large stream of refugees pouring out of heavily populated areas. If they have vehicles, they will move outward from the cities along major roadways until they can't get more fuel and then stop. If the finance systems are still working, this refugee stream may burn up most of the available liquid fuel in the USA in a few days. If your community lies on a major line of drift, you can expect to have many thousands of thirsty, hungry refugees knocking at your door hoping for a handout. These are going to be US citizens, mothers and fathers, sons, daughters, and grandparents who are desperate and begging. If begging stops working, they will get hostile and dangerous. Maybe very dangerous.

I know this is a very disagreeable topic, but almost every refugee is doomed and you are powerless to change that fact. Think it out carefully and you will see that you simply cannot feed everyone. You are going to have to prevent refugees from consuming your community resources or you will perish with them. You need to stop the stream of refugees from entering your community. Once they are inside your community, they will exponentially harder to deal with. Effectively killing someone by evicting them from your town while looking them in the eye and listening to them beg is going to be hard to do. If you get soft hearted and let too many stay, you will be condemning your community to slow death by starvation. Discuss this topic with your community leaders, especially your security leadership and make them see that there are no alternatives to a strict quarantine. You need to have a plan and execute it immediately or you may be overwhelmed within hours.

One final note on turning back refugees: Do it as far from town as you can. The refugees are going to be truly pitiful and seeing this level of misery will cause your community a lot of pain and distention. You need very hard men to man your line and you need to be careful to leave the refugees another place to go. Don't block a major road. Instead, block a turn-off. It's okay to be as humane as possible and provide water at the roadblock, but you simply cannot afford to give away food or medical supplies. The only people you can let into your town are town residents. All others will have to continue down the road. The men on your roadblock are going to crack up fast, so rotate them often and watch them. This will be the most traumatic thing they have ever had to do.

10. Long term provisioning:
You need to appoint someone to oversee food production. This should probably be completely separate from your commissary department. You need someone with expertise in farming and more specifically, small scale gardening. They need to organize and assist everyone in the community with planting their own gardens and teaching such basic topics as drying, pickling and canning produce. They will also have to oversee a lot of coordination to grow and harvest grain crops and figure out the most efficient ways to store surplus.

Mitigation: Heirloom seeds and fertilizers are going to be in very short supply. If you can somehow trick (or talk) your town into stocking up on these, perhaps as part of a 4-H or school project, your town will be much better off. If you have any say in public plantings for parks or landscapes, try to plant as many food bearing plants as possible. An apple tree is just as attractive as a pine or elm and produces fruit every year.

Actions: Every piece of arable land in the community needs to be planted with something edible ASAP. Without power machinery, this is going to be a real challenge. Every lawn and every empty lot should be dug up and worked in order to build soils, even if it's not planting time. Working leaf litter and plant materials into the plots needs to begin almost immediately. The "Garden Czar" will probably take up the lion's share of the spare manpower in the town just planting city owned lots. He will need to procure hand tools by the hundreds and garden seed, both of which may be in short supply. The tools can be loaned or rented to citizens as needed for their own plots and the seed will need to be rationed out carefully until a stock of good seed can be built up.

The town's citizens may have no horticultural knowledge or gardening skills and will likely not be conditioned for long hours of manual labor. The sooner they start getting their hands dirty the better. Try to hire some skilled gardeners to assist and advise your citizens with their own plots. Building a surplus and a working economy depends directly on their success at working small private gardens.

You may need to pass some resolutions about gardening to prevent land from sitting idle. You can't afford a scrap of idle land as long as you have any seeds left to put in the ground.

11. Building a manufacturing capacity. At some point, equipment and tools will begin to break down. Before that time, you need to establish a manufacturing base that can support your community.

You will eventually need a machine shop capable of founding, forging and machining metal parts and tools. You may need this immediately to repair critical equipment for pumping water or grinding grain et cetera A simple blacksmith shop will be needed to create plows and simple hand tools like hoes and scythes that you are likely to need. You may also need a small foundry and machine shop to create replacement parts for critical machinery. Keep a lookout for likely skilled individuals and hire them to build the town a metal working capability. [JWR Adds: As science fiction writer S.M. Stirling aptly pointed out in his Dies the Fire novel series, leaf springs from abandoned cars and trucks make ideal steel stock that can be used to re-forge into crossbows, plows, small hand tools, knives, and even swords. Leaf springs should be very plentiful for at least one or two generations in a truly post-collapse society.]

You should have someone begin building hand plows and other animal and human powered agricultural tools ASAP. You will need as many as your metal shop can manufacture and I guarantee you will be able to trade surplus plows to other towns within a few months.

You will eventually need to replace or repair clothing. You will have a long grace period while you go through existing stocks from department stores, but within a few years, you will need new fabrics. Appoint someone to worry about fabric production. How do you build a loom? In less than four years, you are going to need a source of fiber and a fabric production capability, especially in cold climates.

Other manufacturing capabilities may be needed as you go along. You may wish to set up a pottery shop or produce adobe brick for building materials or set up a sawmill for lumber and firewood. Brainstorm this with your staff or at a town meeting.

12. Preserving:
A lot of irreplaceable things are going to be destroyed or lost if you don't make some kind of effort to preserve them.

a. Animals: A lot of people are going to be very hungry. Most of them are going to die. I expect most species of large animals in the USA and Europe, including livestock, to be slaughtered for food until they are scarce or even extinct. Think ahead. You are going to need draft animals desperately in a few months. You simply must preserve as many animals capable of filling this role as possible. Dogs are peerless burglar alarms. Cats keep vermin numbers down. Once all the chickens are gone, where are you going to get eggs and poultry? Saving even a small breeding stock of all the useful animals in your community is going to be hard when people are literally starving to death all around you.

Actions: You are going to have to put livestock under guard or they won't last long. Someone will poach them. Any private farmer trying to keep livestock is going to find out just how sneaky hungry humans can be. Someone also needs to start training your working animals immediately. It takes time to produce a working plow team out of average untrained cows or horses.

b. Knowledge: If you don't take steps to prevent it, people will burn most of the books in your town for fuel. I recommend keeping your library open for business. Your town or local school libraries may turn out to be very important for both entertainment and reference.

c. Records: You need to secure public and as many private records as possible. Without them, repairing our current culture will be much more difficult. Birth records, tax records, bank records etc. All of these may have
tremendous value in the future.

d. Art and historical treasures: If your town has any, you should safeguard national treasures for future generations. The very fact that you are making this effort will send a powerful message to your citizens.

13. Medical:
Your existing health-care facilities and drug supplies need to be safeguarded quickly. You will have a very limited stockpile of opiates and other painkillers and mind altering drugs that will be very attractive to some
criminal (or simply addicted) elements of society. Every pharmacy and clinic in town should be carefully confiscated and put under guard. Don't forget the pet hospitals and veterinarian clinics. Appoint a doctor or pharmacist to oversee this effort and support them with whatever resources they require (if you can). Some drugs require refrigeration and may not be salvageable if they are ever warmed.

Hire as many doctors and nurses as possible and set up a public health clinic near the town center. Have them take charge of public health and start an outreach program for self help and public sanitation. If your town has vaccines available, you will probably want to use them up quickly before they go bad. Your community may be able to avoid a lot of misery and casualties if you organize your health care.

Have someone in your manufacturing base or commissary department work with them to replace or recycle medical supplies. Something as simple as a building wood-fired autoclave might be beyond the capability of your health care folks but easy for your artisans.

Also, hire as many pharmacists, chemists and any other scientists you can find. You probably won't have too many of these once they are all accounted for. If you have a few, don't be afraid of tasking them to do some very difficult tasks for you. They are very intelligent folks and can perform miracles if you challenge them. Challenge them to set up a lab and try to synthesize antibiotics, or opiates. Or challenge them to figure out how to improve agriculture in your town or synthesize liquid fuel for your vehicles, or explosives. They may surprise you with spectacular results. These folks are valuable property, so try not to use them as unskilled farm hands or guards. The same goes for engineers. Give them challenging work and have them tackle real problems.

I recognize that most of us are not mayors. We are probably not the ones who will be called on to shoulder the numbing responsibilities of command during a crisis. I really wouldn't care for that job, even in peacetime. When the balloon goes up, it will be hardest on the leaders. Your mayor and police chief will need help. As a prepper, you are in a position to provide that help. How many of the jobs that I mentioned above could you competently fill? I implore you to help them. Having you available as adviser (and commissary officer or military leader, experienced gardener, metal smith etc) could literally make the difference between life and death. Your efforts could make a huge difference to a lot of people.

If your community has any chance at all to survive, those odds will increase exponentially if your leaders have a well thought out plan and make good decisions. Community leaders will need to make timely decisions on a host of issues they have never considered and have the conviction to act ruthlessly. You, as a prepper, have the advantage of thinking about it ahead of time and working out all the details in your mind. That and the skills you have learned can allow you to make a real difference. Will you step up to the plate and try to save your whole community? It seems like a superhuman job and daunting for a mere human. But if anyone can do it, maybe it's you.

Win or go down swinging, - J.I.R.

Dear James:
A recent headline asked: Gold is glittering again. But why? I can give you my opinion why gold is "glittering":

* Tax law will change with respect to gold purchases on 1/1/2011
* Taxes are going up dramatically in 2011; that will kill the economy. Look for 15-20% unemployment. (I think they are lying through their teeth about the unemployment rate. If you look at the unemployed, underemployed, discouraged -- and even ignore the disgruntled, left the workforce, women becoming pregnant, "frozen in place" workers I think the current rate is presently around 20%.)
* Taxes are going to impact the profitable small businesses and kill the unprofitable or marginal ones in 2011.
* Obamacare has frozen employers; they don't know how much benefits are going to cost in 2011. (Insurance companies have jumped the gun and are preemptively raising rates. Small companies are figuring how to slim down under the size bar. Big companies, like AT&T and Verizon, have put disclaimers in their financial reports about the benefit costs. Verizon is actually considering dropping benefits and pay the fine on the theory that it's cheaper. I'm hearing rumors that large enterprises are considering how to reorganize their business units so that they would slip in under the bar. Think Comcast of South Brunswick with out sourcing contracts for all sorts of stuff and it's a wholly owned by the stockholders who also own Comcast of North Brunswick, Comcast of Mt. Holly, etc, etc. Think Baby Bells and that's the model. All to get under the size requirements.
* Inflation is right now being artificially suppressed by the Federal Reserve printing press and they're buying Treasury long bonds. At some point, this is going through the roof. (I'd suggest that 5-10% of everyone's portfolio should be in silver bullion coins kept in one's basement.)

My prediction is that it depends totally on the 2010 election.

* If it looks like the Democrats are swept out of congress, things will continue in a Japanese style lost decades.
* If it looks like the Democrats are not going to be convincingly swept, this is going to get very ugly very fast.

Remember that the Great Depression was triggered by Smoot Hawley being passed and signed into law, it wasn't due to go into effect for months. Now, the flow of data, information, knowledge, and wisdom is such that as soon as the "tipping point" is reached, the blood bath will ensue. It'll make 1929 look tame.

In the hyperinflation scenario, I'd expect real interest rates to be double the Carter years' 21%. I'd expect oil to be priced in gold rather quickly (i.e., remember that it was Saddam's proposed golden Dinar exchange for Iraqi oil that got him in the USA dog house.) I'd expect food prices to quickly go up 50%. Business would lock up; Government would be stalled.

The lack of funds to spend would quickly result in:

* End of the Federal Reserve, replaced by some type of commodity money
* Default on Government debt; States' debts; Social Security; Medicare; Medicaid
* End of the drug war and begin to tax it.
* End of the foreign military adventures and bring the troops home.
* End of the "public education" of Dewey, Mann, and the teachers' unions.

Any economic restart would probably be led by the oil producing states such as Alaska, Texas, Pennsylvania. And the breadbasket states: Kansas, California, Florida, Nebraska. To restart: Taxes would have to go down. Obamacare nuked. Flat or near flat tariffs and excise taxes. Corporate taxes to zero. Capital gains taxes to zero.

If it has to go worst case (i.e., the Government doesn't slim down to save itself in time), you might see secession. (Hey, it worked for the USSR!) I'd look for Texas, Alaska, and Vermont to be first out. Followed quickly by: Hawaii; Montana / Idaho aka Jeffersonia; New Hampshire / Maine; and South Carolina. It would be politically very ugly. What does the District of Corruption do? Roll tanks into the secession states? Remember the American Revolution was fought by the 10% hot heads, where a third supported them, a third hated them staying loyal to England, and the remainder could not have cared less.

Very ugly.

I predict in scenario #1 -- Democrats swept, gold goes to $2,00 per ounce by June of 2011 and in scenario #2 -- Democrats are not swept, gold goes to $2,000 before the end of 2010.

Then, a similar "cliff" event appears with the 2014 presidential election. As long as the markets perceive BHO as a one term president, we get the calm lost decade scenario. If a reasonable Republican takes the lead -- Ron Paul like fellow, calm. Even if there was a reasonable Democrat, (although I can't think of one who fill the bill), calm. However, if it looks like BHO might be reelected, or Hillary, or any of the wackaloons, it's "Katie Bar The Door" time again. Look for the markets to crash big time, as folks try and hit the exits at the same time.

In the calm lost decade scenario, I'd predict that gold would be at $3,500 in December of 2014. In the BHO reelected or any wackloon election, the "gold bugs" would be right and a $5,000 gold price would be well within reason. If you could buy any gold with dollars. (Think German WW1 hyperinflation or Zimbabwe!)

So, now you have my reasoning about gold. IMHO there is nothing but upside.

I'd try and be a little like a Mormon or the Amish. Beans, Band-Aids, and Bullets. A year's worth of food, sufficient medical supplies to minimize the trips to the drug store which won't be open, and sufficient firepower to keep your beans. I'd put 10% of my capital in silver bullion 1-ounce rounds in a "basement". And, watch very carefully how the winds blow. - FJohn

"David 5.7" wrote: "I live here in the north east. all brands of toilet paper have gone from 4.5 inches in width to 4 inches, with a slight increase in price. so if you buy and 8 pack roll your are actually getting one roll less per pack than you would have 10 months ago."

Attributed to inflation: China Current Account Surplus Declined 8%. (Stocks in China region dropped after Shanghai city inflation increased to 3.9% and China’s current account surplus declined 8%.)

South African Linked Bonds Get Bids for 7 Times Amount Offered. (Thanks to Damon for the link.)

Read Kristi J. mentioned: "I was looking through the grocery ads and noticed that Wal-Mart had their store brand bread 'on sale' for $1.00. The last time I went shopping just two weeks previous to that it was regularly priced at $0.88."

From Alaska Dispatch: When a bear wants to join the hot tub party, what's an ex-governor to do?

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Hooray! After recognizing that the predominantly gray ACU uniform was a costly mistake, the U.S. Army is adopting MultiCam. OBTW, once the old ACU uniforms start to get sold inexpensively as surplus, anyone that lives out in sagebrush country might want to pick up a few sets. Sagebrush is one of the few foliage backgrounds where the ACU pattern blends in well.

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SurvivalBlog Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent word of a scary new bit of Big Brother technology: The Backscatter Van. Oh and speaking of new surveillance technology, there is also Phantom Eye. Up at 65,000 feet, it will probably just appear to be another anonymous contrail.

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And also on the topic of intrusive technology, see: Silently Self-Profiling - You

"When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else." - David Brin

Sunday, August 22, 2010

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


Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 has only been one famine in the last twenty years in a country with a temperate climate that is similar to the northern part of the United States.  That country was North Korea.  Many of the observations offered below are taken from the book Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick, a very gifted reporter.

Most of us think of North Korea as a poor, underdeveloped country controlled by a dictator that lags far behind its South Korean neighbor economically.  However, until about 1980, North Korea had a higher GDP than South Korea.  It has a university and college system that produced scientists capable of developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons and a national literacy rate of over 90 percent.

North Korea has more natural resources than South Korea but much less arable land.  Even in good years, it produces less food than its people need.  Prior to 1990, the balance of food had been provided by the Soviet Union and China.  North Korea has always had cash flow problems and it was chronically bad about repaying the Soviets and the Chinese. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russians choose not to continue to provide support at historic levels. After poor harvests in the mid-1990s, the North Korean government was forced to reduce the food ration that its people relied on.  This amounted to 700-900 calories per person per day supplied by the government.  This was supplemented by what could be grown in home gardens or purchased elsewhere. 

Some regions were given less food than others and some eventually got nothing from the government.  According to a report by North Korea's Public Security Ministry, the North estimates its losses from 2.5 million to 3 million people from 1995 to March 1998.  The famine is fairly well documented and the following summarizes what could happen in the temperate regions of the world if the food distribution system breaks down.  Keep in mind that the North Korean government maintained extremely tight control over travel and people did not have the option to move to another area.  City dwellers suffered more than people in the villages and country.  The government allowed individual gardens but people in the urban areas had less room to grow food during the summer months that could sustain them during through the harsh winter.  

The average daily ration per person in the hardest hit areas was about 600 calories or about one-fourth of what the body needs to function and maintain itself. Most people didn’t starve to death; malnutrition impaired the body’s ability to fight infection and normally curable diseases proved fatal.  There was a natural progression that saw disease attack the most vulnerable, which were the children under five. Next were the aged; those over 70 followed by the 60-year olds and the 50-somethings.  Death then stalked the people in the prime of life.  Men, because they had less body fat, went next.  The strong and athletic were especially vulnerable because their metabolisms burned more calories.  Although the hospitals continued to operate, sometimes the families were too weak to take the critically ill to be treated.  Even if hospitalized and given antibiotics, the body would be too weak to metabolize the drugs.  Fluctuations in body chemistry would trigger strokes and heart attacks.

Parents and grandparents would deny themselves food in order to keep their children alive.  Eventually, the children were orphaned and joined the many groups of youngsters that tried to survive via a migratory, snatch and gulp existence.  Younger children in those groups rarely survived more than a couple of months.  People would walk past a dying child on the street without any thought of giving aid. 
Part of the challenge of keeping children alive is their inability to digest strange foods.  North Korean families were forced to incorporate grass, corn husks and cobs, and the inner bark of pine trees into their diets during the latter months of winter and in the spring.  Adults could gain some nourishment but small children would become painfully constipated.  Of course, infants had to rely on their mothers’ milk for nourishment and when the mother could not produce adequate supplies, the babies died.  As a result of growing up during this period, young North Koreans are, on average, five inches shorter that their South Korean counterparts.  The North Korean military has had to lower its minimum height for draftees to five foot from five foot three inches.

The government allowed open air markets during the years of the food shortage.  Food from China, NGOs, and the UN was available in the markets if you had money.  If an average North Korean had relatives in Japan or China or a family member was working in another country, then they often had money that could be used to buy food in the markets.  If they had no money, then they scavenged. Because there was inadequate electricity or gas to run the factories, people were free to spend their entire day looking for food.  Wake up – search for breakfast, sleep during mid-day, and start the search for the evening meal.

There was some theft of food by North Koreans but those who were caught could expect to be incarcerated or executed.  The exception was the migratory orphans who usually got some leniency from the authorities.

We need 500 calories per day, on average, to survive.  Eating only food foraged in a temperate forest; you could expect to live no more than three months.  People tried to cope by grinding acorns into a paste that could be digested easily.  They picked kernels of corn out of the manure of farm animals.  Yes, there were still farm animals.  City dwellers, usually the women with more fat reserves and, hence, more energy, would scavenge for food near government orchards and corn fields.  Eventually, they moved their scavenging higher into the mountains until they became too weak to make the daily trip.

Small animals were also exploited to some extent.  The North Korean people cannot own weapons so that limited the ability to hunt.  The frog population was decimated by people looking for protein. Unlike the Mediterranean people who have a strong tradition of capturing or shooting both song and game birds as they migrate from Africa to Northern Europe, the Koreans apparently do not have wild birds as a part of their culinary tradition. There were some reports of bird trapping but the people did not have equipment to take advantage of the migrating bird population.

There are lessons in the North Korean famine that can be applied to our survival preparedness.  One is that, ultimately, it will often be the women who have the burden to feed the family because they will likely have more energy than the average male.  Another is that children are the weakest link in the family chain. Kids can be very particular about what they eat and could fall victim to a fatal cold or flu simply because something doesn’t taste good or causes discomfit when they eat.  The spring months will be the leanest time of all.  Supplies laid up for the winter are gone and the gardens are just planted.  Birds migrate in the spring and fall and that would be the time to hunt.  Netting birds will probably require less energy than hunting with a weapon.

When the body is under great stress, what it craves changes from normal times.  Wilderness hikers and mountain climbers often relate how, after three or four days, candy loses its appeal and items that are salty and crunchy like crackers often become the food of choice.  The cook who can process wild plants and make them palatable will have a better chance of keeping the young ones alive when most of the calories are coming from the forest or prairies. Realistically, the average person can expect to get less than 500 calories a day from nature and should plan on spending most of the day looking for food.

Hi Jim and Readers,
Some of our TEOTWAWKI preparations tend to lean toward running electronic equipment off charged DC battery sources. I work in electronics, and have built several radio stations for ministries around the world, I have found that DC to AC inverters especially the cheaper models are very inefficient to run higher powered equipment. I have gone another direction when powering equipment off of 12 or 24 volt DC power systems. Many people will purchase a DC to AC inverter to run a laptop through the supplied AC to DC converter. The newer switching supplies are very compact and efficient, but when you convert from DC to AC the efficiency goes down. So why not convert once, from DC to DC?

I have found a company that sells high end DC to DC converters. The Avel Lindberg Company makes very good shielded and moisture resistant units. Their primary market is the military, I have bought units used for certain weapons systems, that are fairly well hardened for EMI / EMP. I have used them up to 300 watts and they work very well with no maintenance for long periods of time. I also have converted equipment like some of the small microphone and media mixers from the AC to DC converters that are supplied with the equipment to straight 12 Volts DC by removing the plus minus supply internally and the AC to DC converters and installing DC to DC converters directly inside the units. The devices can be purchased from Internet/catalog electronic parts dealers like Mouser, Allied Electronics, and Newark. All of the above companies can be found with a search engine to get access to their on-line catalogs.

The first thing to remember when converting something from one source to the other is to check the supplied power cube for the output voltage and current rating. Then order the correct DC to DC converter for the voltage and current rating needed for your electronic equipment.

What I usually do is obtain Anderson Power Pole connectors before cutting the power cable be sure to check with a digital volt meter or older volt ohm meter, the polarity of the power plug of the supplied power cube. I then remove the cube from the AC electrical source. Unplug it. Then cut the cable about a foot or two from the units connector. Install the Power Pole connectors on both ends of the cut cable that are left, insuring you set up the red positive, and black negative connectors correctly.

Now take your DC to DC converter and install the appropriate red positive and black negative connectors on it. Connecting the DC to DC Converter to the appropriate 12 or 24 volt DC power source and check your output when the pigtail connector with the power pole with your meter again insure the voltage required and polarity are correct. If it checks out correctly then plug it into your electronic device and energize the device. The input source voltage to many DC to DC converter will accept from 8 to 30 volts DC so it will be more versatile than the original power cube.

Two of the benefits of making conversions like this will cut out the AC inverters from the equation and the other is reducing the current drain a little bit on your battery capacity.
I realize there are many people who would feel deliberately cutting a wire would be fool hardy if they are not competent in electronics, or electrical devices . This can be overwhelming to someone, so if you feel performing this kind of modification is beyond your competency level please seek out someone who is competent. Performing a modification like this is simple to some, but don't do it if you feel it is beyond your capability. Blessings to all, - Dave with Martronics

Reader B.L.W. notes that the price of a box of girl scout cookies will be $4 per box this year. Gee, 12 Tagalong or Samoa cookies for $4. That is 33 cents per cookie! BLW also mentioned that Troops are required to sell cookies, or else they can't hold any other fund raising events this year.

As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog: Wal-Mart Quietly Raises Prices. (A whopping 5.8%)

Speaking of Wal-Mart, Kelly in Kansas mentioned: Okay, so I know Wal-Mart can be tricky, but I bought a 25 lb bag of Great Value Sugar (I am canning like a crazed person) for $11.78 on August 5. Last night my hubby went back to that same Wal-Mart to buy me another bag of sugar and came home and asked “Is sugar always this much?” I said it should have been around $11-to-$13 dollars. Nope he pulled out the receipt and the sack was 18.98!

Damon sent this: Coffee surges to 12 year high inflation watch.

Patrice Lewis, over at the Rural Revolution blog recently posted an excellent article: Hoarding.

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J.M. in Michigan suggested this article about coronal mass ejections that ran in The New York Times: The Sun Also Surprises.

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P.D. spotted this: Israel's "Judgment Day" Shelters

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KAF sent this one: WHO calls for monitoring of new superbug.

"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." - Isaiah 35:10 (KJV)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

Propagation is a great and cheap method of producing offspring in both plants and animals.  Propagation is usually thought of in the context of plant, so let’s briefly cover animals first. 
I read recently with sadness about readers on survivalblog having problems with their rabbits being good mothers.  This is the first characteristic I look for in a new breed of livestock.  Modern breeds of cattle and poultry, in particular have been specialized for particular traits and mothering ability has taken a back seat.  This is one reason I prefer heritage breeds listed through the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.  These breeds often do not excel at one single trait, yet do many things very well.  Losing stock is expensive and inconvenient during the best times, and can mean the difference between life and death post crunch.

The Dexter cattle breed is the smallest, regular size cattle breed and is very docile and manageable.  This is important because I have small children that I want them to feel comfortable walking around the barn.  Many owners halter break even their bulls to lead.  The cows are great mothers and very seldom have difficulty giving birth.  It is extremely rare for birthing with Dexters to require assistance.

I also raise Silver Fox rabbits.  The does are wonderful mothers and give birth to large litters.  I have never lost a kit to something that was not directly attributable to my mistake(s).  This includes first-time mothers.  These rabbits are large (10 – 12 pounds) and have a high dress out percentage.

Modern Turkey breeds are bred for their large breasts.  This has the undesirable side effect of prohibiting them from breeding naturally.  What a tragedy to find post-Schumer that those turkeys you bought at the co-op will not be reproducing unless you step in to help. All that you need to know is how to collect semen from Tom turkeys and artificially inseminate the hens.

Where propagation really shines is in plant production.  Just about anything you can find in a nursery and many fruits and vegetables in a grocery store can be propagated.   Just a few from the produce shelves that I have successfully propagated include potatoes, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish, Haas avocados, limes, wild persimmons, wild cherries, and tangerines.  Fruits such as apples, plums, pears, cherries, apricots and peaches do not propagate very successfully from seed since these are most often grown on rootstock that is different from the fruit that is actually produced.   Think of the seeds from these fruits in the same manner as seeds saved from hybrid vegetables.  The growing results are similar for different reasons.  Unprocessed nuts from the wild or from the grocer’s shelves will breed true, but the time from planting to reaping takes many years (Brazil nuts and Cashews are processed even when sold as “raw” since the nuts and shells contain a level of poison that must be steamed out).   Finally, grapes, scuppernongs (muscadines in the South), bamboo, blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and blackberries are so easy to propagate that everyone should start with these.

| One method of propagating is called layering.  This is mostly used for vines.  Grapes, gooseberries, and scuppernongs are the vines I have successfully worked with.  Take the vine that has current year’s growth and simply burry a 6 inch section of it about a foot or so from the end.  I usually wait two months and then cut the vine where it is buried on the parent side of the dirt.  Dig up the vine and replant in its own spot.  It helps the process along to scrape, cut, or abrade the outer layer of the vine before burying.  I make 3 – 3 or 4 inch long cuts just through the outer layer.  It is also helpful to place a brick on the vine to hold it down.  I can easily get 10 vines from each parent plant.  Done every 2 month over a normal growing season, a grower could easily layer hundreds of vines per year from one parent.  I only layer my vines once a year because I usually find so many other chores that need to be done.

Layering also has a slight twist that I have used on Blueberries.  Take a small muslin bag of peat or compost and wrap it around the branch where you have scraped down to the cambium layer as you would to layer a vine.  Secure the bag so it will stay in place for 6 to 8 weeks.  Keep the bag wet, and within 6 to 8 weeks, the blueberry branch will have new roots and will be ready to cut from the parent plant. 

By taking cuttings from certain trees, you can successfully propagate many different types of trees found in your garden center.  Leyland Cyprus, and blueberries are two plant where I have used cuttings successfully.  I use this method only when some other method does not work well for me.  It is a little more demanding method to get right.  Some trees/bushes are more successful with propagation through cuttings at different times of the year and some do better with green, soft wood while some do better with brown, mature wood.  Basically, take a 6 inch or so cutting near the tip of the branch.  Strip the greenery from the 3 inches closest to the place of your cut.  Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone available at most growing centers, and stick the cutting in a growing medium.  I have successfully used sand mixed with potting soil.  In several months, you should have roots on the new young plant.  Keep watered well and in a warm, sunny location, preferably a cold frame or greenhouse in the winter until the spring and then transplant to the permanent location.

Apples, pears, Asian pears, plums, apricots, cherries, and peaches are easily and cheaply propagated through grafting.  To graft a fruit tree, taking cuttings from parent trees (scion wood) in the spring before the fruit trees break dormancy and start budding.  The parent tree will determine the type of fruit bore on the new tree.  Order your rootstock to arrive about the same time.  The rootstock determines the size of the mature tree and the resistance of the tree to disease, pests and weather (wet and cold tolerance).  There is rootstock that is specialized for each type of fruit.  Do your research or ask the nursery that is selling you the rootstock.  If the scion wood is cut before the rootstock arrives, wrap them in a wet towel, sawdust, or sand and store them in the refrigerator until ready.  Cut the rootstock and scion so that the diameter of the two is near the same size. The cut to join the two pieces is hard to describe, but the cuts are made to each piece less than a half inch long along the length of the wood.  The pieces are fitted together like fingers meshed together.  There is a tool that makes a puzzle piece cut in each end that joins the two pieces.  The tool costs about $60 and I don’t think the blades can be sharpened.  I use a simple knife to make the cuts.  The cuts fit together so that the joint is secure and then the graft is taped with a special tape that doesn’t damage the tree.  When the two pieces are joined, the cambium layers (the slick layer just under the outer bark) must be touching.  Pot the new tree and set out in its permanent location next spring.  If the graft does not take, but the rootstock lives, a new graft can be tried the following spring.  Also, be sure the scion wood has at least 4 buds and is joined so that it is pointed in the same direction as is grew on the tree.  It is easier than you think to graft them upside down.  The $15 to $20 tree can now be propagated onto $2 rootstock to produce new trees.  One word of warning, some recently developed fruit cultivars are protected through the Patent and Trademark Office (I am not sure of the proper term) and should not be propagated without permission.

I won’t mention bamboo, raspberries and blackberries other than to say it is hard to keep them in the areas where intended.  New shoots can be dug up and transplanted to a new area.  A border of sheet metal or metal roofing scraps can be buried 12 – 18 inches below ground level has been successful for me in keeping bamboo from becoming a nuisance.

Propagation of vegetables from the produce section is great fun to do with the kids.  Try anything and everything that you or your kids think might be fun.  Don’t worry if you waste a few dollars. 
I have successfully planted slips from potatoes bought from the store.  I know that they are sprayed with something to prevent or delay them from budding, but I always have a few that manage to bud anyway.  I have planted then and had some success from such.  I always have better luck with seed potato slips, but I have grown potatoes this way and it is fun to try.

I take sweet potatoes and slit them lengthwise in half and lay them in a pan of water covered with some potting soil.  I usually do this about January.  The slips send up vines that I plant as soon as the weather permits.

Tangerines and limes have been grown by planting the seeds from the fruit.  I have produced fruit, but not in any abundance.
Wild cherries, wild persimmons, horseradish, and Jerusalem artichokes have been grown successfully by planting the entire fruit or root and waiting for the produce.

Possibly the most unique thing I have tried is the California Haas avocado.  I have been successful about half the time I have tried to grow them.  Several times, it was my own stupidity in damaging the new plant and it didn’t live.  Take the large seed out of the avocado.  The California Haas has the hard, golf ball sized seed in the middle, not the softer and larger seed in the Florida avocado.  I soak the seeds for about two weeks and let them start to split.  Once this process starts, take three toothpicks and insert them in the side of the seeds just enough to support the weight of the seed just above the midsection with the pointy end pointed down.  The idea is to space the toothpicks in such a manner as to keep ½ to 2/3rds of the seed submerged in a cup of water.  Now wait, and wait some more.  After perhaps three months, roots should come out the bottom, followed by a single stem out the top.  At this point, you can plant into a pot.  I just started playing around with avocados last year and have not had any produce from my small trees.

Some other produce on the horizon that I will be experimenting with next is kiwi, orange, acai, peanuts (a legume), lemons, sunflower, etc.  It is fun for me and the kids and it is teaching us about what works and what doesn’t.  Most of my experience has been from trying my luck at different things.  I am sure that in at least a few instances, there may be better ways or more efficient ways of propagating.  There are usually several ways to reach the same result.  Your USDA climate zone will determine what you can leave outside year round and what you have to bring in to a greenhouse or garage.  I am in zone 7, so I protect the avocados, pineapples, tangerines, and limes in winter.

JWR Adds: I have long been of the opinion that it is the multiplier effect of plant propagation and livestock breeding (described in the preceding article) that marks the difference between merely surviving, and thriving, in the midst of a disaster. Get the training, build up a reference library, secure the essential supplies (and fencing) and practice these skills. Even someone occupying a studio apartment can set themselves up to grow copious quantities of sprouts. Some day you may be very glad that you did!

On Tuesday, President Obama made a hop into Seattle. A 30 mile "no fly zone" was established. A small float plane owner did not read the daily Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) and flew into the zone by visual flight rules (VFR). This caused the Secret Service to have NORAD scramble two F-15s from the local [Air National Guard] air interceptor group based at Portland International Airport. Naturally, they requested and got clearance to go supersonic. This resulted in at least two sonic booms being generated. What happened next was, well, interesting:

A Newspaper Account

A Seattle Television News Story

It’s also believed that all of the cell phone level calling disrupted service in some areas due to overloading, all due to just two sonic booms. God help us if a real world emergency were to occur and the sheeple flood the cell and land phone lines. - MP in Seattle

Reader Tyson R. notes: While shopping with my wife, I picked up a bag of corn chips for the girls and didn’t notice a big difference in price, $3.99. That has always been the price as long as I can remember. The bag was the same color, about the same size as before and assumed it was the typical 16 ounce bag, to my dismay when I looked at the content weight it was only 10 ounces. Inflation doesn’t always come in the price tag but in the shrinking of the volume you get. Calculating the inflation on corn chips by reducing the volume by 37.5% equates to the old 16 ounce bag costing of $6.24!

How Droughts & Floods Will Hit Food and Clothing Prices.

R.W. wrote me to quip: If there's no inflation, then why is the Motel 6 now $76 per night (here in California), and why do they now have a digital sign out front, to advertise the room price?

B.B. sent this dire inflation prediction: Western Economies Face Hyperinflation: Gold Bull.

T.T. in Texas wrote: Previous oil market movements usually translate quickly to movements in fuel prices. I had noticed over the years that lubricant prices stayed steady. Maybe this was because of the steady demand and they are taken from the "heavier" end of the distillation process, although much of the heavy end is now cracked into fuels. (This is what ran up diesel prices many years ago. Diesel was almost a "surplus" product. However in the last two years time the 5-40 synthetic Rotella [motor oil] that I use in all our engines; turbo-diesel, gasoline and natural gas has jumped from 13 to 19 dollars a gallon at the local Wal-Mart. The 2-1/2gallon tractor jugs of non-synthetic Rotella have gone from $20.50 to 28.00 in just the last year.

I believe it was Howard J. Ruff that hit upon the change in first class postage as a very good gauge of inflation.

N.C. liked this article: Are you ready for a world without antibiotics? Here is a key quote: "Doctors and scientists have not been complacent, but the paper by Professor Tim
Walsh and colleagues takes the anxiety to a new level. Last September, Walsh published details of a gene he had discovered, called NDM 1, which passes easily between types of bacteria called enterobacteriaceae such as E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae and makes them resistant to almost all of the powerful, last-line group of antibiotics called carbapenems. Yesterday's paper revealed that NDM 1 is widespread in India and has arrived here as a result of global travel and medical tourism for, among other things, transplants, pregnancy care and cosmetic surgery."

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RFJ spotted this over at Instructables: Easy Bike Trailer Hitch.

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Cheryl sent this: Former Pakistani Intel Chief Fears WWIII Imminent

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Rourke pointed us to a useful list over at Books for Living Off The Grid.

"There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk 'his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor' on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children and can never be anything else." - The fictional character Jill Boardman, accepting the challenge to oversee the safety of the Man from Mars, in the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, August 20, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 still have my Canadian citizenship even though I have been married to an American for 15 years and have two “halfer” children, all of whom I drag up north every summer to visit family. As a Canadian I spent most of my life expecting the Government to take care of my essentials (and non-essentials) if I were ever in need or want. After an accident on Government land I had all my outrageous medical needs completely covered. (One aside for those in favor of socialized medicine – real medical emergencies can be expensive and therefore a burden on the system so if you are too young, too old or too damaged to contribute to that system via work and taxes then it is encouraged to medicate you “comfortably” to death. But remember, it is for the best of the larger system and if you complain too hard, well you’re just not nice and therefore anti-Canadian. Canadians are nothing if not nice and will usually accept the verdict with a quiet smile and a “So sorry”. If one doesn’t want to go down quietly, one goes down to the States to pay for “extra” treatment and life. This is how I ended up in the States and met my husband.)

Like many brides I was completely unprepared for marriage and a different country made it even more challenging. It is not really true that Canadian’s are just unarmed Americans with health care. There are other cultural differences as well. As an exchange student I had been exposed to the Rodney King riots in 1992 and thought, “Oh my gosh, these Americans are violent crazies. Who would ever want to actually live here?” Yes, we have riots in Canada as well but they are generally down played and the participants are rarely armed.

The first 10 years I spent in true American fashion, accruing useless stuff, huge debts and kids. Moving to California five years ago was a real wake up call. Apparently we didn’t have enough stuff, debt, elective surgery or medication for me to be fully acclimatized to this culture. I even had a raging Vicodin addiction as a result of medicating problems away after my accident 15 years before. Living in California just made it so much more affordable and fun. I didn’t realize there was a legal limit to how much Vicodin you could take.

Leaving the Disneyland state 18 months later we had large amounts of useless stuff, huge debt, and a grocery list of medications for everything from depression and pain to the hiccups. That’s when my liver started failing, apparently we had to make some changes. Around this time my husband heard about Dave Ramsey – the "cash only, debt free" guy. So I went out and bought all his books (on credit of course!) It was a long road but we were eventually getting on the same page and started getting rid of our debt. I mention this because we could never have started towards self sufficiency and being preppers and planners with the massive debt behind us. Ramsey enabled us to head towards becoming debt free so we could accumulate practical, real stuff with no creditors coming after us. This was a totally new concept for me. We have tweaked his “Emergency Fund” ideas though in order to include beans, bullets and Band-Aids. Our idea of the Emergency Fund has definitely changed over the last few years.

After we started having problems with my liver my Nutritionist said, “We’ve got to get you off of all this stuff. Besides, when the crash comes, you probably won’t be able to get any of it anyway.” I was stunned. I looked at my hubby thinking who is this crazy, gun toting, the end of the world is coming freak. It turns out; happily, he was all of the above. (We use "freak" as a term of endearment in our family and have enjoyed being labeled as such by those who just don’t get it.) So, for the sake of my body and sanity, I slowly started detoxing off of all the crud my body thought it needed but couldn’t process. This was a tough time on our family, especially since we had started home schooling while living in the People's Republic of Kalifornia (PRK). It is not always possible to get off all medications but limiting it to only truly necessary meds is a huge benefit when prepping your personal pharmacy. Fortunately, I was able to get off of all my meds after about eight months.

We had decided to home school our children while in California and continued after leaving. We have found that the public school system there goes against every Canadian moral fiber I had left in my body. I am now so relieved we have separated from the system. Without even realizing it, we were becoming Preppers through our process of pulling our kids out of the Public school grid and getting rid of our debt.

Then I had an experience that really woke me up to the need for being prepared for emergencies. Last summer, I had an experience at a Townhall meeting that really woke me up to the necessity of preparing to face the Golden Horde during an emergency. We had taken the children to this meeting as a homeschool field trip to expose our children to the Political process. [The people in this meeting displayed an entitlement mindset, leading me to believe that they would simply take what they needed, in extremis.] I decided I needed a gun to protect my family [from people with this mindset.] I had never felt so personally threatened (including the time I was mugged in a parking lot as a student.) As a Canadian I had only seen meetings like this as constructive, socialized, polite meetings of minds. Needless to say, I was the one educated. My Momma Bear instincts took over and my aversion to guns was overridden with the intense desire to protect my family from the violence and ignorance and “group think” of the liberal zombies. (I have come a long way from being one of them.) I had always thought only cops, robbers and military needed guns for heaven’s sake. Fortunately it not actually became violent but it was close several times as tempers flared. In the end I let my husband buy a gun – and keep it in the house, after an educational safety class for the kids and me.

Since them I have discovered that guns are like jewelry and popcorn, one is never enough. Subscribing to Concealed Carry magazine has made me not just more comfortable with guns, but more educated on the benefits to all of us in society when law abiding citizens can carry concealed. Taking a class at a local shooting range has also made me more confident. My instructor said I was a formidable shot after I repeatedly blew the head off of the paper target. My husband put the target on the fridge and reminded the kids not to mess with Mom. My parents know we have “a” gun, but with the Canadian mentality of don’t ask don’t tell, they have no ideal about our mini arsenal and stockpile of ammo we are developing.

I am not sure when I realized that the government taking care of you meant the government could “take care of you”. Maybe it was somewhere in the home school curriculum about America’s foundation or reading about The Weimar Republic experience. I started to realize that socialism is actually dangerous and that freedom isn't free. Furthermore, independence (except from God) is a crucial ideal. Rawles has given us the workings to find both freedom and independence. As our free country drifts towards socialism, his books and blog have inspired me to adopt a more pioneer spirit. Perhaps I was born with this spirit, but it had been socially conditioned out of me in Canada. Now with the imminent crisis looming closer each day, I no longer expect (or desire) the government to bail us out. I don’t want them to, because I would feel indebted to them, and I am just now beginning to enjoy debt-free living! I don’t want the government controlling how I educate and raise my children. We're focusing on raising them to become wise adults and not just "raising children". Much of our society encourages us to merely raise children, rather than instill an adult level of awareness and self-sufficiency. Young adults must learn to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Children depend on parents and if they do not mature they will become dependent on the government as adults. This makes it easier for the government to control them. In public education they can teach them whatever they want, including redefining “truth”, “freedom”, and “independence”. Do you remember George Orwell's novel 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451? These books seem almost prophetic as we see the rewriting of much of our history, just as the Ministry of Truth did in 1984. Make sure you include books like these and "Patriots"as part of your reading list as you prepare. They have all gradually changed my socialist perspective to a survivalist point of view. Remember to pray for those not so far along the preparedness path and share these books with them. Friends sharing these with me have greatly contributed to my " awakening”.

One aspect of just being a woman is that's on my “whiteboard” mind (as opposed to my husband’s “filing cabinet” mind) I view the past present and future all at the same time. I struggle with maintaining a healthy value of the past, which includes scrap booking and history, getting necessities done for the present (groceries and new shoes for growing children) and planning for the future, whether it is a likely crash or college for the children. So I make lists of lists to keep myself and the family focused on priorities. The envelope system we got from Dave Ramsey works great for us, especially since we added envelopes for “Defense” and “Household”. This helps to build into our preparing things like guns and ammo, classes and shooting range memberships. We have also used this to save towards making alterations to our house such as adding shelves and buckets and starting a “Victory” garden. Even my monthly lists are split. Half of the grocery bill goes towards what we eat and need now and the other half goes towards our “secret lab” where we store supplies for the future. This helps to keep it fun for the whole family as we prepare together and we don’t feel like we can’t do anything now because of something looming in the ominous future. We also can’t be so caught up in Ballet and Boy Scouts that we are not prepared for the crisis to come. Even the kid’s electives have an eye on the future, making sure they have skills and are in good shape for the future while enjoying living now. After all, skills and character will be as important as education and supplies when it comes to a career or an emergency. So I now have no excuse to say we don’t have the time or money to prepare. I do it all along with my daily stuff, a little at a time.

We are still catching up, slowly but surely. At some point, post TEOTWAWKI, we might be able to network with some of you because of the paradigm shift I have experienced. We focus more on our family relationships and getting valuable skills then on getting stuff so we can be of benefit to our group when TSHTF. I hope this article can encourage you to not give up on those not quite as far down this road and give you some ideas to encourage friends to get on “The Program” as we call it.

Hello Mr. Rawles!
First off, I wanted to thank you so much for all the information you provide! It has changed my life!

The second thing I wanted to mention was about using your libraries as a resource. I just completed courses to become a library director. In these courses we were strongly encouraged to "weed" out all books and materials that had older publication dates than 2000. We were told not to worry about not having any of the "classics" on hand because patrons could always use the inter-library loan system to borrow them from somewhere else.
Recently, I have had quite a few patrons requesting different books such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Screwtape Letters" and other classics and I was unable to fulfill their request because libraries either do not have them or are unwilling to loan them out anymore.

This situation is very troubling to me as obviously books are important to me! And the relevance and importance of literature from all ages is a key to understanding where we came from and where we are going.
Hopefully, your readers have not come across such difficulties in their locations but I felt it should be mentioned.

Again than you for all you do and God bless you and your family! - A.S.

Today I'm launching a new blog column, titled Inflation Watch. It is intended to expose the myth that "there's no inflation" at present here in the United States and in other First World countries. I'm not sure if this column will become a permanent fixture at SurvivalBlog, but given the recent massive government overspending and monetization, I suspect that I'll have plenty of material for Inflation Watch.. If you have any present-day personal accounts, or if you spot any news items that show significant inflation, then please e-mail the links to me. These can include details on the shrinking sizes of food and other consumer -packaged goods. Thanks! Here are my initial offerings.

A recent stop at a rural fruit stand gave me some sticker shock. The sign proclaimed: "Cherries $1.00", but once under the tent, I learned that the standard-size baskets were priced at $6, the quarter-baskets were $2, and it was their micro baskets that held perhaps 8 to 10 cherries that were $1. Needless to say, I drove on.

Last weekend my family visited a National Park. A sign announced that annual passes are now $80. But when I bought my current pass (last December), it cost $50.

On a recent consulting trip to a more populous state, I heard a gas station owner brag that his price for unleaded gas was "...only $3.13 a gallon."

My son mentioned that half-gallon ice cream cartons have been almost universally replaced with 1.75-quart and now even 1.5-quart cartons. So does this mean that ice cream is now 25% less fattening?

Odds 'n Sods:

M.T. and S.M. both sent this: Appleseed Teaching History with Guns.

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K.A.F. flagged this item: Egg Recall 2010

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M.S. mentioned a mail order source for aluminum powder and iron oxide (thermite components). Of course, check your state and local laws before ordering. Thermite could come in handy someday, for your emergency welding needs. (For a description of some potential uses, see my novel: "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" )

"Near civil war between town and country was a pervasive feature of this break-down in social order. Large mobs of half-starved and vindictive townsmen descended on villages to seize food from farmers accused of hoarding. The diary of one young woman described the scene at her cousin’s farm: 'In the cart I saw three slaughtered pigs. The cowshed was drenched in blood. One cow had been slaughtered where it stood and the meat torn from its bones. The monsters had slit the udder of the finest milch cow, so that she had to be put out of her misery immediately. In the granary, a rag soaked with petrol was still smouldering to show what these beasts had intended,' she wrote." - Adam Fergusson, When Money Dies: the Nightmare of The Weimar Hyper-Inflation

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 been a wilderness survival and firearms instructor for many years, I never considered the need for a survival retreat until I got married and moved from the country to a small city of about 30,000.  My minimalist lifestyle had allowed me a certain level of financial freedom.  Driving used cars and fixing up a home that had been previously condemned meant I had not made a car payment or house payment in years.  I spent summers running a high adventure camp for the Boy Scouts of America and worked for city the rest of the year as a firefighter and HAZMAT Technician.  I also managed a real estate investment trust that purchased distressed properties for resale on installment. 

For most of my life I lived in the same small town where I grew up.  My ancestors had been there for generations, carving a life out of Appalachia after immigrating from Wales.  Our economic inactivity and rural location gave us some buffer against the downward spiral of society.  I would find out later that we were much more independent than the majority of Americans.  I remember being shocked the first time I met someone who could not replace the wax seal on their own toilet.  I was very close to my grandfather who grew up during the Great Depression.  He had a backup for everything.  Like most modern homes, his had a gas furnace and heat pump.  He also installed a natural gas heater that required no electric fan and a coal furnace backup “just in case the gas line froze.”  This is the atmosphere in which I grew up.  I never wondered why we had a big garden and multiple freezers.  Where else would we put the hogs we raised and butchered? 

I guess I figured that if small town life became intolerable, I could melt into the wilderness reappearing only when I needed provision from my food storage.  Growing up around Amish and Mennonites I maintained a year's supply of food to hedge income fluctuations.  I knew before I got married that most women prefer luxuries like central heat and toilets that flush without a bucket of water.  So when we married, I moved into her home in her small city and immediately felt uneasy.  I was no longer self-sufficient.  I had lost my independence.  I recognized our need for a safe house, a mortgage-free self-sufficient retreat that we could get to on foot if necessary.  My new wife is no prepper, but agreed that I could spend whatever I sold my house for on whatever I wanted if it made me feel more comfortable about my move to the city. 

This is the story of some of the major changes I have made thus far.  I have never made a lot of money, but half of those on the planet survive on less than $2 per day and I earned more than that so the only obstacle between me and savings was self-discipline.  I do not know what to tell someone who has consumed as much or more than they produced their entire life.  Those who insist on living like the rest of the world will die like the rest of the world.  I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that if we always do what we have always done, then we will always get what we have always gotten.  I share this narrative in hopes that my experience will sensitize the reader to opportunities in their own lives.  Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.  Maybe something here will help someone make their own luck.  Many of the smaller purchases have been omitted.  Few people want to hear how I bought windows for my retreat at the local thrift store although almost everything except the lumber itself is previously owned.  I have better things to do with my time than salvage lumber.  There are things I would have been done better with more money, but my goal was to shift existing resources whenever possible and stay within my budget.  Early last year, I built a house in Honduras as part of a mission team.  The Hondurans taught me to live an abundant life with very little money.  I learned to build and cook on a mud stove.  The daily lives of the very poor provided a lot of survival insight and ideas.  I have included a breakdown of my revenues and expenses.  These transactions all occurred in Appalachia and amounts will vary by region.

Selling My Home During Recession
Since no bank would dare finance my dilapidated house, I sold it and the adjacent lot on installment to a qualified buyer for my original cost of $9,000.  I bought it years ago on installment for what the seller was going to have to pay to tear it down.  In the past year I received revenue as follows:
Down payment $2,000
Monthly payments (one year)  2,000
Total received   4,000
Net Cash Flow $4,000


I fell into my first major purchase when I bought a gun collection from someone I knew who had been charged with a felony.  It would be illegal to own them after his trial and he needed cash.  I subsequently sold the ones I did not want ending up with 9 guns (including a handgun) for $1,350.  While the collection came with some ammunition, I waited for sales and spent another $500 on ammo. 
Beginning balance $4,000
Purchase gun collection -1,500
Sold junk guns +  150
Bought additional ammo -   500
Ending balance $2,150


Like most people, my new wife bought things as she needed them.  We immediately bought three month's worth of staples for the pantry for $650.  This included six gallons of bleach and three ceramic water filter kits for about $35 each if we need to drink water from the 10 acre lake behind us. 
Beginning balance $2,150
Pantry upgrade -   650
Ending balance $1,500


I faithfully searched web sites for a pre-electronic diesel 4WD which I eventually found in good working order for $1,500.  I immediately sold my high mileage Chrysler 300M to a Facebook friend for the same amount.
Beginning balance $1,500
1989 Ford F-250 diesel -1,500
Sold Chrysler 300M +1,500
Ending balance $1,500


At one time I attempted to form a group to buy land together.  After getting banned from a few Yahoo groups for Spam, I gave up and decided to find like minded neighbors instead.  I rolled a small retirement account from a previous employer into a self-directed IRA that allows me to purchase real estate.  Every morning for four months I checked the multiple listing service (MLS) for new listings in my target area.  I immediately drove to new listings myself contacting the listing agent directly if I was still interested.   The acreage purchased in the name of my Roth IRA trustee for $5,000 is exempt from bankruptcy assets and cannot be easily attached by creditors (if I had any) because it is in a qualified retirement plan.  I had to hike up the gated road it lies on after a snow storm to see the property which was being liquidated as part of a divorce settlement.  My initiative made me the first of many offers for the asking price.
Beginning balance $1,500
Roth IRA funding +5,000
Purchase acreage -5,000
IRA fees -   200
Ending balance $1,300


Precious Metals
I have a state employee retirement plan which allows me to borrow up to 45% of the value.  I diversified by doing so and using the funds to buy precious metals at the end of January because historical charts showed it almost always rises from there.  It has. 
Beginning balance $1,300
Retirement loan None of Your Business
Precious metals None of Your Business
Ending balance $1,300


Long-term Food Storage
Not everything needs to be freeze-dried and nitrogen packed.  Those things were purchased online from Costco where every year I also order a bucket of survival seeds.  Grains came from a bulk food co-op (ask around) truck route and packed in Mylar-lined buckets with oxygen absorbers.  Other things were purchased from the local warehouse club.  ($1,250-$1,250=$0)
Beginning balance $1,300
Long-term food storage -1,300
Ending balance $    -0-


The Retreat
Since my acreage is held through an IRA, I am not to make improvements to it that are not funded by my IRA.  Anything on blocks, however, is considered personal property and not real estate.  I could build slowly as installment payments on the house I sold came in, but want to finish this month, so I am using some of my windfall extended unemployment compensation to build a fortified, insulated, building that sleeps six.  It has a wood/coal stove (that I bought years ago for $200) and a rain catchment system.  My solar power system and other valuables are in a rented metal storage unit close to the retreat.  When I actually use the retreat, it will be considered a distribution of my account, but that will be the least of my troubles. 
Beginning balance $     -0-
Remaining land contract +5,000
Retreat building costs   -4,000
Ending balance $ 1,000

I have just been at the sink filling water bottles. I know you say to leave the sodas alone, and for the most part I do, but occasionally I enjoy a glass of Coca-Cola. Okay, more than occasionally, but we will move on. We also attend family gatherings and church socials where refreshments are served. There are also all those school events coming up, for those still involved in public school where people will have to provide refreshments for different occasions. Instead of the cans of soda, buy the 2 liter plastic jugs. Re-use the jugs by washing them well and then refilling with water. Add a drop of two extra of bleach and voila, you have jugged storage water.

I have recently had a short term TEOTWAWKI situation where these filled bottles came in handy. Two weeks or so ago we had a wonderful rain storm. We needed it badly, and was so thankful for it. My sister was over and I was at the sink filling bottles. I had about six bottles filled and turned around to get some more. The storm had a lot of lightning in it and we had a small flash of the lightning. I just thought the power had dropped for a moment. I turned back to the sink and there was not a drop of water that would come out of the faucet. That quickly--no water! That small power drop was actually lightning hitting an 8" water main somewhere up on the highway. We had no city water for several hours. We have a large generator and well, so I actually could have used that water source, but many people do not have that luxury--city water is it. I'm sure there were several folks in my community that had no other water that day. Fill them up and stick them in the bottom of a closet or under a bed that is high enough off the floor to accommodate them. Check occasionally for leaks, but I do not ever recall having one. Recently a whole county in my state had their water supply cut off for four days during the over 100 degree weather. Some of these stored up would have eased a bad situation at least for cooking, making coffee or tea or even having a washcloth bath.

Also these can be frozen and used in an ice chest while grocery shopping, or for ice for a large crowd, or for sore muscles, bruises, etc. Anytime you are somewhere where these bottles are being used, save them or volunteer to take the trash out and save the bottles in your vehicle if you do not want anyone to question why you want them. I am always looking for ways to reuse something to save money and although this is simple idea every little bit helps. Thanks for all you do, it is a tremendous help to my family.

JWR Replies: Clear HDPE plastic water bottles have a large number of uses. In addition to innumerable uses as storage containers, they can also be used for gardening hot caps, by cutting off their bottoms. This, BTW, also turns a bottle into a practical funnel. Anyone living in earthquake country should consider them their primary containers for short term water storage. If they tumble off a shelf in an an earthquake, they'll likely survive. You can also make a wasp trap by cutting a bottle in half and inserting the inverted the top half into the bottom half. Wash and save every bottle!

Bob G. recommended this piece over at Warrior Talk: High Risk Operator - Rural Patrolling

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This news story from California sent in by Jacob P. illustrates the peril of rural camping in an exposed area: Three arrested in foothills camp robbery. Anyone that plans to bug out to a public park should re-think their strategy.

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Leland Teschler's Editorial: How Much Power Does It Take to Run a Wind Turbine? (Thanks to Don W. for the link.)

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EMB flagged this: For Lean Budgets, a Plug-and-Play Solar Array.

"Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it." - John Adams

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 the normal daily routine of our lives is suddenly and violently interrupted by events large and dangerous (such as major riots, natural disasters, or a a terrorist nuke) how prepared are we to "bug out?"

If it's time to leave, and leave immediately, are we ready? What do we take? Important papers? Guns and ammo? Food and water? Clothes? Camping gear? Baby diapers and sani-wipes? Family photos? Medicine?

And where do we go? A friend’s farm? A wilderness cabin or campground?A small town? And what direction? Upwind? Downstream? How do we travel? By foot, or car, or bicycle?

If you live in a city, and the warning will give you just enough time to get out of town before the freeways and roads are clogged with desperate people, what goes in the car (or on your back or bicycle)?

First, if you have to think about it and gather the pieces when it happens, you're already too late. It must be in the car, or in the hall closet, fully prepared, and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

This post will talk about the quick, leave-instantly kit. In this case, minutes count and you will literally run to the closet, grab a day pack already prepared, grab the prepared pouch of important papers from your desk, and run to the car. Now. Right now.

You must move ahead of the pack. Most people will hesitate and wait for more information. This is your exit window, so don’t miss it. Be mentally and physically prepared to jump and run instantly. I do mean run.

General Notes

You should never have less than a half-tank of fuel in your vehicle. Keep your tank topped. If you're taking a bicycle, have the bike carrier on the car, and the bike ready in the garage. If your primary retreat location is far, have those extra gas cans full and ready to pop into the truck quickly. There will be no stopping for fuel in a bug out scene.

The car or truck should have all its necessary gear carried at all times. Spare tire, or two. Jack and mini-air compressor. Extra set of keys in a key-safe. This is a minimum. Future installments of this article will discuss the “bug out vehicle” in greater detail

Your “Bug Out” day pack should have only the most critical items, and should be easily carried. If the car fails, or traffic is clogged, you must plan on being on foot or bicycle and a large heavy pack will not do. Moving quickly may be paramount to survival, and walking, jogging or bicycling may be necessary to get beyond a critical danger zone.

Each town or city will require different preparations for bugging out, so this is a general outline. If you're living in New York, your needs may differ greatly from someone in Kansas City, Los Angeles or Taos. Give your specific location, escape route and destination some thought in preparing a kit.

Even for those folks already living in a secure retreat, and already hunkered down, having a bug out kit is a good idea. There may be a time during the worst chaos when supposedly secure places might be overrun by starving, aggressive, pillaging hordes or be in the track of a violent storm or nuclear fallout cloud.

Having stocks of food and supplies hidden, even near your primary retreat location, and being able to leave that retreat while the madness burns itself out and the crazies temporarily occupy your safe house, may save your life. When things quiet, you can return. If you are prepared, you may be able to re-take your retreat, but not if you have no extra goodies stashed and accessible, and no bug out kit to get you to that stash.

Your secured supplies should be underground, fireproof, vermin-proof and well camouflaged. Multiple caches are advised. There are times to fight, times to hide and times to run. Be prepared for all contingencies.

First and foremost -- get in shape! You can’t be a survivor if you’re overweight or in poor physical condition. Be a lean and mean machine. Trying to tough it out of a danger zone if you’re overweight or weak isn’t going to work.


This quickie pack should weigh no more than twenty-five to thirty pounds (for an adult), and should contain the bare essentials:

—Water, minimum for a day (two quarts, more if in hot climate).

—Energy bars, enough for a day (2,000-3,000 calories).

—Small wind-up or battery radio to listen to emergency channels (should include weather bands). There should be an FRS [or more capable] walkie-talkie radio, one for each pack.

—A small first-aid kit with aspirin and Ibuprofen.

—A bug net for your hat and a good supply of bug repellent. Get the kind with DEET. Yes, it’s toxic, but it works.

—A pair of knives. One pocket knife (Swiss Army type with tools -- get one with scissors) and one hunting type.

—You should have a few minimum tools beyond a Swiss Army knife. A small pair of channel-lock pliers, a screwdriver with changeable tips, and a small Crescent wrench can do a lot, especially for bicycle repair. A Leatherman utility tool is great and can be worn on your belt so you’re never without it.

—A handgun in a secure holster and several magazines or speed loaders. If you are not familiar with weapons, it's time to learn -- before you need them! Take a personal defense or hunting course through your local gun club, and practice.

One pack per family might carry a lightweight (2.5-4 pound) break-down .22 rifle (such as Henry [AR-7] Survival rifle) or a small 9mm carbine (Hi-Point or Kel-Tec). Have several magazines for it. The Kel-Tec SUB-2000 carbine is inexpensive, and often can accept the same magazines as your primary handgun, be that a Glock, Ruger or other.

—A small flashlight with one set of extra rechargeable batteries (LED units are best). Add a tiny solar charger.

—A good compass on a cord.

—Notepad with pencil. One for each pack in the family.

—Important papers, passports, licenses and birth certificates should be prepared and ready to stuff in the pack quickly without hunting for them. Multiple copies are good, with a set in each adult pack.

—Medicine. For this category you should have much more than just one day's supply -- medicine may not be available again.

—A quality lightweight rain poncho is critical (get dark green or brown, not bright yellow!). This alone can save your life if the weather becomes inclement while you‘re on the road, especially if you’re on foot or bicycle, or have to bivouac while traveling, even by car.

—A warm jacket (Gore-Tex over polar fleece is good). Warm gloves, knit wool hat, one pair extra socks, thermal long john bottoms (polypropylene) and a sweater.

—An extra pair of lightweight, thin, surplus, military-style wool dress pants can save your life. Do not buy bright colors or camouflage designs. Subdued dark greens and browns are easy to hide in, and do not attract undue attention. [Because of it poor insulating capacity when wet,] avoid cotton clothes and socks. Stick with wool and wool/synthetic blends.

—Hat. A good wool cap should be in your pack, but a baseball cap or other hat should be worn to keep sun out of eyes and shed rain. A crushable brimmed outdoor hat is best, with chin cord.

—Sunglasses. Each pack should have sunglasses or clip-ons for your regular glasses.

—Spare glasses if you need them to see. In a stout case.

—A small kit (drawstring bag) containing a space blanket, 100 feet of parachute cord, matches in a waterproof container, fire starter (tinder), a few butane lighters and a small supply of toilet paper.

—A small soap bar (in a plastic soap box), washcloth and toothbrush can make you feel much more comfortable and nice after a hard day or two on the road.

—A few cloth bandanas can do wonders.

—A water filter (backpacking type) is a good option. The SteriPEN UV water treatment system is good. It uses rechargeable batteries, and a small (tiny) solar charger can keep you in pure water for weeks. Water is much more critical than food in a bug out situation .

—Prepared maps (preferably waterproof topo maps) of routes, meeting places and alternate stops. Each family/group member should have copies.

—Small FRS radios (with extra batteries).

Another item which might be considered is a biological and/or gas mask and a few dust/hospital masks. If you’re leaving a primary target zone for biologics or nuclear, this might be a consideration.

Forget foo-foo stuff like whistles, "help-needed" signs, reflecting triangles, white flags, etc. You want to remain as anonymous and unobtrusive as possible and not attract attention. If things are this bad there will be no rescue -- you're on your own. Even wearing camouflage will mark you as a target by those who will see you having equipment and supplies. Stick with subdued earth tone colors and materials. No Spandex or shiny day-glo scarves!

The Pack

Your day pack should have a waist belt and good padded shoulder straps. It should be strong, made of heavy ballistic nylon, with good zippers, in a dark Earth color. It does not need to have a frame designed for heavier loads, and a frameless day pack can be jammed into a smaller space more easily and makes a better pillow. Forget the ones with leather bottoms. The average school book pack is not strong enough, nor big enough. Go to an outdoor store and buy a good large day pack with stout zippers and hardware.

Each family member should have one prepared, even the kids. For very small children or infants, plan on one adult doubling up on supplies, and the other carrying the infant. Make certain the carrier (child backpack or sling) is in the closet with your bug out kit, and ready.


Good hiking boots are critical, but don't stop to change them if you're going to drive. Grab them and get in the car -- change them while moving [, as a nother family member drives]. Time is critical.

If you are already unable to use the car (because streets are blocked or flooded, fires, or riots), then by all means, change quickly into good walking shoes or hiking boots. This could mean the difference between getting out and being lame and cornered.

A second lightweight pair of shoes (tennis or running type) or sandals, should be in the pack. Moccasins (with soles) are good and very light weight. These will prove their worth if your main boots get wet and you need to dry them (carefully!) at a stopover location.

Communication and family coordination

Plan meeting places in case you get separated. Map out known safe houses and preferred routes -- a friend's remote home or business, a rural fire station or police department, or a public campground. Make schedules for meet-up and keep them if you become separated. Prepare these before you need them!

In major disaster scenarios, especially after the initial wave of difficulties, all police and military check points will likely search your packs, take your firearms and food and send you down the road essentially helpless. This will be done for “general security,” reasons, and smiling faces will speak nice words. They may arrest you, jail you, and take everything you have for the “public good,” and to feed and arm their own people.

These folks may, or may not, be what’s left of official police and military. I you have been on the road, and the disaster has been unfolding for some time, they may, in fact, be an emerging warlord’s private army or security force, or that of the rich land holder at the top of the hill, and they may have no scruples at all. You could easily be killed and dumped for your food and water. Plan for the worst and be very wary.

There is considerable validity in keeping totally away from all such “official” places if things are really bad. In this case, plan routes and meeting locations far away from officialdom. Campgrounds, friends’ homes and known landmarks such as a favorite river spot or wilderness campsite are much better. Back roads, forest trails, and even off-trail routes may be a better option if there has been time to set up roadblocks and “catch ‘em–search ‘em” sites.

Small hand-held transceivers (with extra rechargeable batteries), may prove life-saving and family-uniting. Have each member pack one and settle on channels to use, and times to use them. Remember that keeping them on continuously will run the batteries out quickly so use them on a schedule only. A small solar charger can recharge them many times.

If the phone system is still working when you leave, have phone numbers of friends and meeting stations in each pack. Each pack should have a notebook with this information entered in permanent ink, and a set of family route maps.

Travel routes -- planning your movements

You should have a route planned, both for car and on foot or bicycle, to get you out of the immediate danger area, and into a rural or secure area, or fully to your primary retreat location. A temporary destination may be a friend's home, a small town police station or semi-wilderness spot to recoup and regroup. A temporary redoubt should have water and shelter, if possible, and should be able to supply you (or at least provide safe rest) for further travel.

Temporary stops, especially unoccupied locations, may be stocked ahead with food and water in a small buried cache. Several of these caches could be prepared and planted ahead of need. They should be spaced closely enough to leapfrog by foot in less than two days walking. If they are not used, fine. If they are needed, such simple planned preparation can be critical.

Considerations for routing should include potential civil unrest as well as natural disasters. Unprepared folks will be frightened, and therefore dangerous, if only for their foolishness and panic. Moving through cities or towns should be considered carefully in light of the type of trouble happening. Being in a small town might be very safe, if a common threat affects all. Traveling through in an overcrowded city neighborhood might be very dangerous if there is random chaos and no commonality of purpose. As noted above, if there has been time to set up roadblocks, avoiding them will be wise.

The route should consider wind patterns. If biologics, chemicals or radiation fallout are happening, you will want to travel cross-wind. While easy routes might lie downwind or upwind, this will increase your exposure to the nasties.

Learning how your local and regional wind patterns work should help you plan a route across, and away from, the normal wind flow. Particular circumstances and immediate weather might alter this, but one should become familiar with local and regional weather patterns. Go to sites providing these patterns, and look at some of the nuclear downwind studies which have been done. Try this site, and work from there.

Freeways, by car or on foot may prove treacherous and dangerous, and other routes should be considered. Paralleling the freeway on foot or bicycle, but a half mile away, is be a useful option, if the terrain isn't too severe. Streetcar and rail right-of-ways may be better for leaving the city. Cleared power line corridors through wilderness and forested areas, and city or town back streets or alleys may offer easier or safer movement.

Generally, staying away from the herds will be safer in most cases. Having maps of rail lines, power lines, roads and topography already in the bug out packs, may save needless and dangerous wandering and allow you to avoid crowds. Waterproof detailed topographical maps may be purchased from outdoor stores and forest service offices for areas beyond the city perimeter.


If cars are immediately unusable, a thick-tired mountain bike can get you many miles easily if terrain permits. You can add a small, already prepared bike trailer. This is a wheeled carrier pulled by attaching it to your waist or the bicycle seat or frame. Be certain to have a small hand air pump and tire patch kits for each bike.

If you have a small child, your bicycle carrier should be able to carry him or her.

Chinese-style pushed or pedaled freight bicycles (two and three-wheeled) can haul a huge amount (hundreds of pounds), but require smooth ground and more preparation time.

Practice your escape

Once you have your basic packs built and ready, and your routes planned, practice following those routes. Get in your car, and see how it goes to your first, second and third mid-escape stops. Look for potential hazards which could arise (blocked bridges, narrow traffic zones, congested walkways, official roadblocks, gang barricades) and plan alternate routes if possible.

Set up your intermediate stops by informing your friends or relatives that you have their homes on your escape route. If you don't do this, and expect them to be waiting for you, you may find that they have bugged out themselves, and you have no stopping place! This can be critical if you expect to re-water, re-fuel, re-supply and/or hunker down there.

You might consider stocking extra fuel, food and water at their homes in a secure hiding place (have them leave a key in a known location) in case they may not be there. Outside buried caches can avoid the danger of fire and looting.

Next level

This brief outline for a minimum "Bug Out" pack, and how to bug out, should get you thinking. You can add or subtract things as your specific personal requirements dictate, and as your location and travel situation suggests.

Future installments will consider long-term hideaways, secure "go to" places, pulling a camper or trailer with the car, using a small motor home for an all-in-one Bug-Out vehicle and house, and woods survival.

Once you've accepted the reality of our looming collapse and the need for real preparation, you may wish to increase your personal skills and take wilderness courses by Tom Brown's group, Bill McConnell’s people or someone locally well-trained in outdoor survival.

Courses in first aid, ski mountaineering, weapons maintenance and more are useful, but don’t wait to prepare your basic bug out kits.

A sample of survival supply sites:
The eFoodsDirect company sells dehydrated survival food. No GMO, no MSG. Vegetarian. 12-15 year shelf life. 2,200-2,300 calories per day per person. Water purifiers and other supplies.

The Survival Acres web site discusses the collapse of civilization, and a continuous discussion of how to cope, what it means, and why it’s happening. Essays and comments. Links to other blogs and essayists. Storage food and other supplies.

Captain Dave’s. A huge site that has been mentioned before on SurvivalBlog with lots of stuff, survival clothes, food, ideas, techniques (i.e. trapping animals), and more. Preparing for nuclear, biological or chemical attacks, and information of epidemics and diseases.

REI. All manner of outdoor clothing, cycling and camping gear. Good quality. SteriPEN water purifiers.

The ATI Talon Shotgun Fore End Rail Package is a replacement fore end for Mossberg, Remington and Winchester pump shotguns. The kit contains the fore end, adapters for all three brands and most models, nine 2” Picatinny Rail sections and plenty of machine screws for mounting.

Installation was very simple. The instructions are clear, the adapter sections are marked M,R,W for brand and F,R for front and rear. All that’s involved is unscrewing the fore end nut, sliding on the ATI and appropriate adapters, and tightening the nut. It took a few seconds with a file to improve barrel clearance (and the instructions state this might be necessary).

The Picatinny Rail sections install with two machine screws each. You can install one on either side, bottom, or at the 45 degree lines. Combinations are possible, but there obviously isn’t room for accessories if you mount both the 45 and 90 side by side.

I liked the handling, and it made for easy mounting of lights on both sides and bottom, reachable by hand while manipulating the slide, and for a quick detach swivel mount. I found the mounting strips offered a great grip, positive and comfortable. It also looks very slick and modern.

On the down side, it twists a bit more than a factory foreend, since it has a bit less contour around the barrel. I didn’t find this to be particularly significant, but it is noticeable. I also wish that ATI, and all other manufacturers for that matter, would round off edges on “tactical” products. The crisp machining looks great, but sharp corners ding hands. This is fixed in a few minutes with a fine file and a black marker, but I’d like the factories to anticipate this need.

If you have a tactical shotgun, this American made, lifetime warranted product is a great choice for mounting accessories. MSRP is $165, or $100 without the rail package, allowing you to attach other sections. - SurvivalBlog Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson

Greg and Kat spotted an article about An idea carried too far Cult of less: Living out of a hard drive. Greg's comment:" The move to not buying clutter is a good one, of course. However, what happens to the people highlighted in this article in an EMP or another power-down event? Once their batteries run out, and the utility companies can't provide water and other services, and the food deliveries stop they won't be "virtually homeless" they will be starving and without barter assets or other resources. Online banking won't help then. Hopefully they'll analyze their situations and start putting their free income into resources for the "list of lists" and reading resources like Survivalblog. Then they'll be a part of the solution, instead of more people adding to the problem."

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Mix your own chem lights! (Of course the usual chemistry lab safety and toxic materials provisos apply.)

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Essex [Vermont] project builds backyard passive freezer. (Thanks to Nancy in Vermont for the link.)

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Freeze Dry Guy (one of our loyal advertisers) has announced a special on their Mountain House Freeze Dried 144 Day Meat Variety Pack that includes three #10 cans of Freeze Dried Cooked Ground Beef = 81 ½ cup servings, and three #10 cans of Freeze Dried Cooked Diced Chicken = 63 ½ cup servings. These Freeze Dried Meats are delicious and absolutely the finest available anywhere at any price. (In all, this package provides 144 servings. That equates to over 4½ months of real animal protein.) These Freeze Dried Meats are packed in 6 Heavy Duty Double Enameled #10 cans per case with at least 98% of the oxygen removed. This standard was established by the U.S. Military many years ago, and they have a proven shelf life in excess of 30 years. There are even deeper discounts and free Sparkies if you order multiple cases. See the Freeze Dry Guy web site or call 866-404-3663. This sale ends at the end of August, so get your order in soon!

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” - Edmund Burke

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This may sound like a children’s book that the tells the story a young native American girl, but don't be fooled. TEOTWAWKI is very scary for mature adults, but is terrifying to children. When we TEOTWAWKI discuss related issues at our house, my wife and I always make sure that we have a private conversation between just the two of us. After we have sorted things out we will discuss it with our children in an appropriate tone and with as little alarmism as possible.

Last week one of our conversations started out with my wife asking "What will the kids do for entertainment?" I quickly answered that they would have many, many things to do, thinking back to my boyhood when we camped every weekend, played in the woods, and did all of the things that boys do to entertain themselves in the outdoors. My wife quickly pointed out that we have girls, and that they are not accustomed to entertaining themselves in those ways, and that they would feel a void in areas like computer use, internet access, movies, television, music, etc.

I know my girls would adapt quickly, and that they would be able to find enjoyment in many of the same things we did outdoors as children, but my wife had a point too. For me, the very reason I have survival plans is for my children. I want them not only to survive in safety and comfort, but I want them to thrive and grow into mature, level-headed adults. I wondered what sort of resentment might build-up in them if they were to constantly walk around asking "Remember the old days when we could do this or that?" In thinking about the day-to-day tasks of survival, I had never thought to consider how time would be spent when not working. After some careful consideration, I have come up with what I call my "Plan for Living", which is a supplemental plan to our survival plans. This plan is for the whole family, and I think it will enrich our lives, should we ever have to put our plan into action.

I am a technical person by nature and vocation, so my solution to many problems is a technical response to a given set of requirements. In the case of our Plan for Living, I came up with a solution that may sour some survivalists, but it works for us. In current times my family spends a great deal of time using electronic media: Internet, e-books, television, music players, computer games, etc. I am certain that my family is like countless other American families in this regard, and my children have never known a time when this was not the case. In the event of TEOTWAWKI these things could well be gone. My Plan for Living seeks to implement a plan to ensure that at least some of these things are available to my family post-TEOTWAWKI.

I have started putting together a digital collection of media such as movies, television shows, books, and music which is stored on external hard drives. Our survival retreat has self-sustaining power, and includes several laptop computers. Any member of my family should be able to access this media with little effort, and will no doubt quickly become expert at locating desired titles. In the event that no internet, television, or radio is available, we will have stocked our entertainment shelves as well as those for our normal TEOTWAWKI supplies.

Now don't discount my efforts as quickly as you might, regarding them as frivolous. In addition to titles for pure entertainment and the education of the children, I have also assembled a very large collection of instructional videos and e-books. Some of the titles may not be as obvious as you might think, for instance, how many of us know how to pull a tooth or how to construct a water wheel, or any other of a thousand topics that might come up? One of the goals of disaster planning is to plan as best you can for the things you can think of, and then plan even better for the things you can't think of. This is my approach to building the instructional portion of our library. I don't want to ever pull anyone’s teeth, but I would rather have some idea of how to do it properly if I do. Here are a few things that I consider to be important topics:

All things medical. Diagnosis and treatment of illness, disease, pregnancy, child birth, medicine, etc. Our retreat is remote and wooded, so I want to know about things like treating snake bites, spider bites, bee stings, poisonous plants, setting broken bones, etc. This includes natural treatments as well as drug references.

Small engine repair: Generators, tillers, mowers, et cetera. All of these will need service at some point.

Solar panel maintenance and repair.


Hunting, fishing, and trapping.

Plant identification. If provisions run out and gardens are not mature, knowing which plants are edible may be of key importance.


There are so many topics that you might need to study and practice, (self-reliance is pivotal in our plan), that you should strive to accumulate as much information as possible. For the things that are crucial you should also try and locate printed materials or print and bind them yourself, then store them in a safe, dry location. If the batteries are dead and the info you need to fix the solar panel is on the computer it won’t do you much good will it? There is so much info out there it's truly amazing. I found collections where authors interviewed very old folks that knew how to do things the old-fashioned ways, and with the most basic of tools. There are so many how-to fix this or that e-books out there that I can't decide which ones to get!

Hopefully if our plan ever has to be put into action I can use our library to watch re-runs of MASH and The Sopranos, rather than boning-up on the proper way to yank a bad molar!

Some places to start looking for e-books include:

Recently, there was a news story about Senator Harry Reid scoffing at the concept behind the Second Amendment. This illustrates not only how unhinged Reid has become, but also how the mass media, liberal think tanks, and political parties all underestimate and mischaracterize the right to keep and bear arms. It is is our well-armed bedrock culture that under-girds our society, and keep both criminals and tyrants at bay. The Second Amendment is not some obscure an archaic code. It is in actuality the strongest guarantor of our individual liberty. This was made abundantly clear in the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller. In the first major Second Amendment case since the 1939 U.S. v. Miller decision. Clearly, the courts have affirmed that the right to keep in bear arms is both a collective right and and individual right.

Just the knowledge that Americans are well-armed is a natural deterrent to invasion. This is what the Swiss call: Das Geistige Landesverteidigung. ("the intellectual defense of the homeland"). It has worked for the Swiss since 1291 and it has worked for these United States since 1781, or should I say at least since 1814. (Some folks can't learn a lesson the first time. The British came back for a second helpin' of whoopin' in 1812. Thankfully, the two nations have been on friendly terms, since then.)

For those of us that are preparedness minded, the Second Amendment is our guarantee that we have the unfettered right to own firearms, to keep them in our homes and to carry them on our hips or in our vehicles. No matter what the Nanny Staters want, the fact of the matter is that we have the right to defend ourselves with privately owned guns. Our right to own arms is a gift from God, not a privilege dispensed by the State.

If and when there is a large scale natural disaster or some other source of societal disruption, we will at least have one assurance: We will know that we have the option to employ lethal and less-than-lethal force, to defend lives and property. Even though our world might get Schumeresque, we can at least stop the bad guys within a 300 meter radius. This will give us the chance to re-establish law and order, one neighborhood at a time.

It is good to see real life combat tactics discussed by Officer Tackleberry. I would respectfully add a few more very useful drills.

I am in agreement with Tackleberry that some of the more dangerous drills should be performed with paintball or pellet guns at first to lock in the safety training. but the 'warrior inoculation" is both important and if done with a range safety officer or two safe. I seem to remember Galls or one of the other public safety catalogs selling a chamber safety plug that stuck out of the barrel a bit to assure that it is clear. One of the jurisdictions I worked at had an Emergency Response Team drill day went bad towards the end of the day. This happened when everyone was tired, a live magazine was somehow loaded and an officer got shot. On dry fire days no live ammunition is allowed to be loaded into any of the weapons; ammo and loaded mags should be under double lock, that means two locks on the box and two people with different keys, until the end of the drill. If there is concern make it a wooden box that can be easily but obviously broken open in an emergency.

A good CQB drill is to have an old army duffle bag stuffed with stacked newspaper and strung on a rope. Your coach pulls a rope on the side or bottom so it collides with you, the drill is to push away the bag step back and into a low firing position as you draw and fire a double tap.

Hand to hand drilling is essential since a large percentage of actual uses of force will involve the possibility of a grapple, Airsoft pistols or those colored rubber guns are perfect.

The exhaustion drill should be practiced for both rifle and handgun in all firing positions. Running wind sprints is the best way to get your body near to the point of exhaustion but squat thrusts, stepper machines, or exercise bikes should work fine too if space is limited. Since you are actually taking your muscles into an anaerobic state and stripping your blood of oxygen and glucose making your decision making process hazy you had better have a good range safety officer or two in addition to a coach. Once fighting for breath the coach will call out the drill as you move to the firing line. The first few drills must be dry fire only or with an inert firearm just to hone the range safety laws and practicing freezing and safing all weapons.

Other range conditions should include irritating smoke, burning pine other oily desert plants at a home shooting range should do that.

In Israel the tactics that the Ketat Konnut (town volunteer anti-terrorism team) practices are mostly pinning down and flanking although we also do some entry and room clearing work in case the army is unable to make a quick response.

All of the drills I mention from my US and Israeli training require a good coach. You cant go with a friend to a gun store pick up the weapons and training dummies and think you are ready to do the higher difficulty level drills. I would additionally caution the readers to find a qualified and certified instructor. My experience as a shop gunsmith and assistant range officer for my father for several years is that most customers were know-it-all hobbyists who learned everything from magazine articles and Hollywood movies. I suspect some might volunteer to coach but were likely not qualified. Shalom, - David in Israel

Mr. Rawles,
After reading the excellent article about drilling one's own sandpoint well, I did a little more research, thinking this would be a perfect solution for backup water for our situation. I found a great resource with basically the same instructions, but he also includes diagrams. The best part, though are the instructions for a do-it-yourself "inertia pump" that can be used to draw water from wells deeper than a pitcher pump can handle.

Thanks for all the info you share on your site, I've learned so much from you and your contributors. - Trucker Girl

Ooh!, Ooh! I've been looking for a site like this: Make Your Own Seasoning Mixes. (Thanks to S.D. Spy for the link.)

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Jeff B. forwarded the link to this piece from National Pravda Public Radio: Deadly Whooping Cough, Once Wiped Out, Is Back

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The Obama Administration's anti-gun bias is evident: US opposes Seoul’s bid to sell old rifles. (Thanks to Jeff B. for the link.)

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Reader Rick D. suggested a YouTube video demonstration of Grover Rocket Stoves.

"Interestingly, NPR ran a local story over the weekend -- an obscure little item -- saying that Amtrak was determined to raise the average speed of its passenger trains running north from Connecticut through Vermont from 40 miles-per-hour to 60 mph. That would be some triumphant accomplishment! It would bring us back to about an 1860 level of service. Of course, I happen to believe that we will be lucky in a few years if we are able to enjoy an 1860s standard-of-living, so maybe this little side venture in public transport is perfectly in tune with America's future." - James H. Kunstler, author of the nonfiction book The Long Emergency and the novel World Made by Hand

Monday, August 16, 2010

JWR's book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" has motivated me to add a little more light for those who may be in a situation where a physician is not available, but caring for someone needing sophisticated medical care.

I am an Internist, and have been working in an urgent care setting for 20 years. Before that, I had a number of years experience working in several Emergency Rooms (ERs), and a trauma center. Since I am not formally trained in ER work, I have concentrated more on stabilizing patients to get them to more specialized care. I have no experience in battlefield injuries, like arms and legs blown off, or eviscerations, so I will not venture there.

My previous article focused on the common types of infections one is likely to encounter, and the most appropriate antibiotic. Please read the recent SurvivalBlog article for common infection treatment.

This article will go further into the weeds with antibiotic use.

This article is only for general medical information and should not be used for specific treatment. Always seek expert help for medical problems whenever possible.

Early in our medical training, medical students are taught the following principles of medical care,

1. Murphy's Law
"Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

2. Sutton's Law
Willie Sutton was a famous bank robber. When asked why he robbed banks, he retorted, "That's where the money is." Sutton's law is, "Go where the money is." [In emergency medicine] you don't mess around with treatments that might work, or do tests that might give you the answer. You go for the money the first time, because you might not get a second chance.

3. Hippocratic Oath and Principle
"First and foremost, do no harm." This is in the Hippocratic oath. If there is ever a question that you may cause more harm than good, you do not do it.

One of the first things medical students are taught is that all medications have "good" actions, which we call "therapeutic," and "bad" actions, we call "side effects," or allergic reactions.

Allergic reactions to medications are very common. Every G.O.O.D. bag should include benadryl. Take it immediately if you start itching after taking a medication. It might save your life. [In an emergency] if you have trouble breathing or swallowing [which are symptoms of anaphylactic shock], I would take benadryl, but I would also seek medical attention if possible. Adrenaline is called for here.

For the advanced student, choosing the correct antibiotic for an infection is critical. Choose the wrong antibiotic, and if the infection worsens, you are in a heap of trouble. My previous article was intended make the choice for the use of antibiotics as simple as I could, because most people have very little training in medicine. So my thinking was to make it as simple as possible. For those with some medical training, I will go a little deeper into the weeds.

Most infections are the result of some breakdown in our defense system, coupled with exposure to an infective organism. If we lived in a sterile bubble, we would never get an infection. But even with the exposure we have every day to zillions of virus' and bacteria, we still rarely become infected because we have complex systems to protect us from becoming infected. The first line of resistance is our skin. If it is in good shape, and intact, infections are rare. So pay attention to your skin. If it is dry, use moisturizing cream to keep it supple. If you are standing in water all day, take off your shoes and socks several times daily and air dry your feet. If you sweat a lot, air dry twice daily the areas that stay wet all the time to keep the skin in good condition.

Respiratory infections are best prevented by limiting exposure. If you are coughing, you should cover up when coughing, and wear a surgical mask. Most authorities believe that if you remain 6-8 feet from others, you are unlikely to spread a respiratory infection. You should also wear a surgical mask. These are not proven effective, but will capture large droplets if you cough or sneeze.

If someone is ill around you, you should be wearing an N-95 mask. The N-95 mask should be in everyone's survival plans. These masks really work to prevent contracting respiratory infections. They must fit snugly, and they are difficult to wear for extended periods of time, but they do work. They are inexpensive if you stock up in a non emergency situation. During the last flu epidemic they disappeared from the shelves, so stock up now. Make sure they are clearly labeled certified by OSHA as N-95.

For those interested in going deeper into the weeds for the use of antibiotics in TEOTWAWKI, I will discuss how MDs decide on the use of antibiotics. I am only discussing treatment of adults. This does not apply to children. Children are very different than adults. As a wise Pediatrician once told me, "Children are not small adults. They are biologically very different."

First some definitions:
1. Symptoms are those things the patient feels and describes to the doctor. Symptomatic treatment is treating the symptoms, not the underlying illness. So, taking Tylenol for fever is symptomatic treatment.
2. Signs are those things the doctor sees in his exam.
3. Malaise means just plain feeling lousy.
4. Virus. A virus is an odd creature, not able to live or reproduce on it's own. It causes disease by attaching to your cells, drilling a hole in your cell, and injecting it's DNA (or RNA) into your cell. It then takes over your cell mechanism, reproduces hundreds of copies of itself, ruptures your cell to spill the copies of itself into your body, and the process begins again. Antibiotics are worthless against them. There are a few anti-virals that work for herpes, influenza, chicken pox, and shingles.
5. Bacteria are fully living creatures which cause disease by growing and invading the tissue of your body. Antibiotics are highly effective if correctly targeted against the particular bacterium.
6. Prions are like creatures from the black lagoon. They are crooked proteins that will make all similar proteins crooked when they come in contact, and are very deadly. I know you have heard of Mad Cow disease [the common name of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)] , and that it is caused by a virus. Actually, it is caused by a prion.

The first decision to be made is whether you are dealing with a viral infection, or a bacterial infection. This is usually fairly easy for a physician, as we see thousands of cases of each over our years of medical practice, and can tell pretty quickly with a brief history and physical examination. These are the things that usually differentiate viral and bacterial infections. None of the points are 100%, but if you look at all the differentiating features, you can make a pretty good judgment.

And why does it matter? It matters because viral illnesses are almost always self limited illnesses (they go away by themselves), so we treat them symptomatically. We do not use antibiotics as antibiotics are worthless in treating viral illnesses, and may cause harm (see the Hippocratic Oath above). However if it is a bacterial infection, it is important to use antibiotics promptly to avoid complications, even death.

There are exceptions, but typically viral illnesses will not be accompanied by a fever above 100.5 F. Usually there will not be swollen glands (infectious mononucleosis is one exception). There are usually systemic symptoms like achiness, fatigue, malaise. Bacterial infections are usually accompanied by fever over 100.5, may include swollen glands, and usually do not include the systemic symptoms.

Let me begin by describing the typical "viral syndrome." The most common viral illness is the common cold. It usually consists of a runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, and cough. There is usually not a fever over 100.5, and usually not any significant swollen glands in the neck. This is the classic viral syndrome, and although there are many virus' that can cause similar symptoms,

Another typical viral syndrome is Viral Gastroenteritis. This is very common. Some people think it is the "flu," and call it the "stomach flu," but it has nothing to do with "flu." It typically is an acute, sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea. There may be some cramping, maybe even a low grade fever of 100.5, rarely any higher. People usually feel terrible. Fortunately it usually only lasts a day or two. Food poisoning will do the same thing. If the diarrhea is bloody, or the cramping is severe, or the fever is above 100.5, or it lasts more than two days, then I would suspect a possible bacterial infection.

We often see patients with a sore throat concerned they have "strep throat." Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat. Patients with strep will typically have a sore throat, fever over 101, and swollen glands. Those with a cold will have a sore throat, runny nose, achiness, fatigue, and cough. Fever, and swollen glands will be absent.

Bronchitis is another viral syndrome. Unless you are a smoker, or have emphysema or some other chronic lung disease, bronchitis is almost 100% a viral illness. It is usually just a nasty cough without a fever. It is usually non-productive, and often becomes productive of clear sputum, which becomes discolored to yellow and green toward the end of the illness. Leave it alone. It will go away by itself.

Influenza is a little different. It is a viral infection, and is a little unusual in that it is accompanied by high fever, up to 103-104 even. Experienced MDs can tell easily though, because of the extreme fatigue associated with influenza, and the typical "viral syndrome" symptoms of cough, runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion which accompany the illness Extreme fatigue is a hallmark of illnesses. Patients have difficulty getting out of bed to come to the doctor. And it has an abrupt onset. Within an hour or so, victims go from feeling fine, to feeling terrible with aches, extreme fatigue, followed by the fever and other symptoms.

With these viral syndromes understood, it becomes easier to recognize bacterial infections.

Pneumonia is a bacterial lung infection. Since it is a lung infection, you would expect a cough. Since it is a bacterial infection, you would expect a fever of 101 or higher. Since it is not viral you would not expect "viral syndrome" symptoms of runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat. An important caveat for pneumonia is that it often develops as a complication of a cold because your resistance is down, then later the pneumonia sets in. Typically, a patient develops a "cold" with the usual runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, and cough without a fever. Then a week or so into the illness, suddenly a fever over 101 develops, the cough worsens, and becomes productive, sometimes blood tinged. This is the onset of pneumonia complicating a viral illness. (So you thought being a doctor was easy?)

Bacterial enteritis. This is a bacterial infection of the intestines. It is very similar to viral gastroenteritis, but is usually more severe, often accompanied by a fever over 101, and may include blood tinged diarrhea. There is usually a history of travel, and uncooked food eaten, or possibly contaminated water from a well or stream. If someone has viral gastroenteritis which is not getting better in 2-3 days, start thinking about a bacterial infection.

Clostridium difficile. This is a good time to mention this disease. This disease is one of many reasons doctors try to limit the use of antibiotics. It is a potentially serious complication of antibiotic use. Sometimes when taking an antibiotic, the normal bowel bacteria are killed off allowing this nasty bacteria to grow out. So if someone gets the typical diarrhea, cramps, sometimes low grade fever after taking antibiotics, it is probably clostridium difficile. This is treated with metronidazole.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat. So we would expect a sore throat, fever over 101, and swollen glands. If the patient has viral symptoms like cough, runny nose, nasal congestion, and does not have a fever, the odds are 20-1 or more it is a cold. Treat it symptomatically.

I discussed the treatment of these bacterial infections in my previous article.

OTC medications for symptoms.

1. Diarrhea: Imodium
2. Runny nose: antihistamines, Benadryl
3. Congestion: Sudafed
4. Fever: Advil, Tylenol
5. Sore throat: Cepastat lozenges, Advil, Tylenol
6. Cough: Robitussin, Dextromethorphan (in Robitussin DM)
7. Nausea: Benadryl
8. Heartburn: Maalox, Prilosec

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I recently read through the cluster of articles regarding preparation measures for antibiotic storage and use on your blog, starting with A Doctor's Thoughts on Antibiotics, Expiration Dates, and TEOTWAWKI, by Dr. Bones. As the medic for my family resilient survival group and an EMT paramedic, I have learned of some resources relevant to this discussion that will be useful to your readers.

The first is the Sanford Guide. This is a book used daily by physicians and other healthcare providers worldwide to assist with empiric antibiotic treatment of infectious diseases. Empiric therapy means that you’re not sure exactly which bug is causing the disease, but based on the location of the infection and other characteristics (like patient age and other illnesses), you can make an educated guess about what antibiotic you should choose. This is akin to going hunting and not knowing exactly which guns to use, but since you are in a farmer’s field or marsh, for example you might expect to run into birds instead of deer and so you bring a shotgun with birdshot instead of a slug gun or rifle. 

There is a similar book published by Emergency Medicine Residents Association but this is expensive and hard to find.  I have found Sanford Guides in used bookstores in bigger cities.  The knowledge in these books changes slowly, so a copy that is two or three years out of date will probably be fine for most purposes. You can also web-search “empiric antibiotic therapy” and surf away.    

This brings up the issue of the meds Dr. Bones lists (Z-packs, Amoxicillin or Keflex.) These are not great for diarrhea, but are narrow spectrum drugs that may help some skin and respiratory infections.  If you are going to the trouble to get antibiotics and keep them on hand, consider that you either need a big stable of "narrow spectrum" drugs or a smaller, appropriate group of a few “broad-spectrum” drugs.

Mel Tappan wrote a lot about the need for having a selection of useful guns that are relatively specific to given tasks.  You could think of antibiotics in the same manner, having a drug for each type of infection.  Getting adequate coverage for a wide range of diseases would be more logistically challenging and terribly costly than a few broad-spectrum drugs.  You might instead choose to have a “formulary” of a few drugs that should cover most of your needs.  Unfortunately, some of the antibiotics recommended by Doc Bones and others seem limited in their utility for serious infections.

The formulary approach was suggested in a recent book entitled “When There Is No Doctor”.  I would make one change to this author’s list, adding moxifloxacin in place of levaquin;  I base this on the fact that “moxi” (brand name Avelox) has been put in the “combat pill pack” of front-line combat troops in the Sandbox:  they are told take a moxi pill (which covers gut bugs, skin bugs, MRSA etc.) for any open wound while waiting for evac.  It is absorbed almost as well as an IV dose.  In short, moxi covers a broader spectrum than levaquin and cipro, which are in the same family. 

Regarding obtaining and choosing antibiotics, another resource is the “Orange Book”. Published by the FDA, this book is really the only source I could find that talks about the effectiveness and safety of generic formulations. It has been mentioned in a prior post in SurvivalBlog, and allows you to search by drug name, ingredient or maker. 

Basically, when you find a generic drug, you can check in the Orange Book to see if the generic manufacturer’s formulation tests like the more expensive brand formulation.  The tests are not too sophisticated, and the FDA is hoping that looking at how a drug looks and behaves (in simple tests like dissolving in water) compared to the brand-name drug it is copying.  Bare bones, but I’m told other testing would be way to expensive. 

I would almost never use medicines made for animals on humans, and I think you should look very seriously into the safety of this. As an example, I can’t find the “fish-mox” nor any of the other fish drugs Doc Bones mentions in the Orange Book by its manufacturer, which I consider the minimal safety check.  I do this check when thinking of getting drugs from overseas, too.  Dr. Doyle covers some of the other safety concerns in these alternative approaches to obtaining medicines in the book mentioned above. 

Start, within the limits of OPSEC, with your own doctor, dentist, Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Physician's Assistant (PA).  Be aware, though, that if you ask your doctor for specific medications by name, he/she will (a) wonder what you're up to and (b) likely be less willing to do this.  If you are honest, and aren’t asking for narcotics, you might stand a better chance.  Disaster prep is coming more into vogue, at least among many of the docs I work with in the ER now, anyway, because of the recent H1N1 ramp-up.

Finally, I heartily concur with the suggestion of getting as much training as you can. I worked with a surgeon who stated he could train a monkey how to operate in two years, but it takes much longer to train people when to operate.  Having a few fish tank drugs won't do a lot for some conditions, and you need to know what you're treating.  More importantly, you need to know when to expend your precious resources, especially when re-supply may not be coming anytime soon.

One last resource to help with deciding when to treat is the CDC antibiotic usage guidelines, published for things like upper respiratory infections, sore throats and bronchitis.  We all love to leave the doc’s office with a prescription but after TSHTF we need to be much more realistic. 

Medical Corps and other courses are good for this kind of training, although I hope to attend a physician assistant school in the future. I’m too old and have too many family commitments for medical school, but being trained in two years as a PA will allow me access to much of the same basic knowledge while being afforded the opportunity to learn on actual sick and injured patients rather than just “book learnin’” the theory. Regards, - Ron L.

Antibiotics can also be purchased on the internet. While I am no attorney, the Wikipedia article about online pharmacies provides some info on the legalities of ordering prescription grade antibiotics from Canada. While I’m certainly not advising anyone to break the law and order antibiotics or any other prescription grade drugs on line, it seems a like a real grey area for the Government to crack down on Americans that do order prescription drugs on line. Maybe another reader with some legal expertise can clarify what the Government enforces when it comes to ordering prescription drugs on line? Thanks, - W. J.

David B. suggested a video that he called a Blinding Flash of the Obvious: Splitting Wood In A Tire.

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Mark L. spotted this: The SAS Survival Guide App for the iPhone.

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Nano 'tea bag' purifies water. (Thanks to "16R" for the link.)

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F.J. was the first of several SurvivalBloggers to send me this: Floods Stir Social Unrest in Pakistan

"I heartily accept the motto, — "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." - Henry David Thoreau - 1849 (The opening lines of Civil Disobedience)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The purpose of this submission is to establish that we all have real lives to lead while we remain vigilant about all possibilities, most of which others choose to pretend away.  Money is not unlimited, and we have families and a life to lead.   These things should not be sacrificed or squandered  because we’re too captivated by a single, or favorite, survival scenario.  We need to be building happy lives and memories with our families, children, and their children, even as we remain ready for what we hope won’t happen, and may not happen.

The rank and file among us doesn’t have the money and unlimited space to stockpile AR-15s and M1911s.  Or high-end freeze-dried Stroganoff, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  Likewise, fully-built safe rooms, pre-fab shelters, well-filter systems, and the like are off the table for most of us. What would be the essence of survival if you removed all options to replicate your favorite foods, daily routines, or favorite survivalist movies, in the TEOTWAWKI scenario?  (Note: While TEOTWAWKI is a neat acronym, I’m still fond of the military’s SNAFU, TARFU and FUBAR as a barometer of conditions!)

I would start with a bare-bones arsenal that consists of a [used] entry level 12 gauge,  low-end  .22 rifle, and a 1,000+ FPS air rifle.  Each can be had for under $150, new.  The air gun is particularly important, if you consider that silence during hunting or self defense may be a life saver.  The report of a firearm may cause you more harm than good, in certain conditions.   Also, thousands of .177 or .22 pellets can be stockpiled for little cost, and almost no space.  This weapon is just as deadly as any other in the right hands.  The shotgun and .22 are mandatory hunting and defense tools, to be used when appropriate.  They also feature cost-effective and storage-friendly ammo.  The relatively small expense of these 3 weapons may also allow you to buy more than one, or to purchase the air gun with multiple barrels; this will minimize your need to focus on becoming a gunsmith or machinist to deal with maintenance.  Some may argue the need to add handguns and larger firepower;  I choose these weapons and guile over a reliance on quantity and massive power (a 12 gauge is quite powerful enough, given the option of buckshot and slugs). Other weapons such as bows and slingshots offer even more affordability and the ever-important silence, with  a bit less power and quickness.  However, they are important supplements to the survival arsenal and should be included.  In the absolutely  bottom-line situation (middle of nowhere with nothing), you must remember to quickly carve or grind spears, collect rocks for throwing, and craft clubs, rock mauls or axes, or slings and bows  as your skills allow.
Knives are essential, and easily managed for cost and benefits.  They are your last line of self defense, and typically your first tool for most other field activities.  If you must, buy one or two high-end models for durability and surety. But then partake of a classic gun and knife show for a whole spectrum  of $10-to-$15 tools that will be the bulwark of your survival.  You must have multiple sharpening options, and oil and steel wool will round out your maintenance needs.

Regarding water management, sanitation, and medical, SurvivalBlog already enjoys many quality writings on affordable, effective approaches.  Especially those that observe that nearly your whole inventory can come from various dollar stores.  We will have to accept that our contingency-apocalypse medical careers will be limited to normal illness management, standard sanitation, and minimal doctoring like small wound care, maybe setting a fracture or pulling a tooth at best.  Unless we are close with a medical professional who will be in our survival community, we’ll have to accept and prepare for a limited ceiling; as we conjure up images of maimed and deathly ill loved ones we may wish for more, but materials, training, and equipment for much more is likely beyond our grasp.  Manage the small things that we can, and pray for help beyond them.  The one other opportunity worth noting is military manuals, training materials, and backpack-beltpack style kits.  The military long ago defined the medical capabilities and methods for the average Joe in the field, which will be nearly all of us.  These items are affordable and can be found on-line, and in surplus stores.

Food is the last frontier.  We must remember again that the bottom-line scenario looms.  Nothing can replace the basics of hunting, fishing, trapping, and foraging.  As always, you can run the gamut of fancy, expensive gear, minimal gear, or maybe no gear at all.  The minimalist weapons noted directly above are a starting point.   Fishing  can be done nothing but a spear, or one level  removed, string and anything resembling a hook (and don’t forget the potentials of anything resembling a net).  Though nothing can equip you better than pure experience; do some fishing, hunting, and trapping  just to get a feel for it and some skills.  There is an ample collection of written materials on naturally growing plant foods, trapping, and foraging out there, especially in the aforementioned old military materials and survival manuals.

If you are lucky enough to pursue and stock “store-bought” stuff, let’s steer clear of efforts to recreate your favorite culinary and childhood experiences in an apocalyptic, chaotic world!  What can we afford and store efficiently (space) and effectively (longevity / durability), that also gives us the densest and highest quality calories and nutrients?  Whole wheat is a given, with a 30 year life span that dwarfs all other grain alternatives.  Honey is the ultimate, chock full of food value, a nearly endless shelf life (it’s been claimed that honey has been found deep in the Pyramids, likely from the time of their construction, that was edible), and incredibly suited for efficient storage.  You can buy yourself a plastic 55-gallon drum of honey, for much less per pound than it costs in small containers. Will you get sick of it?  Yes.  Will this much honey, eaten very sparingly, help keep you alive for a year?  I believe so.   Peanut butter has similar potentials, with a much shorter shelf life. Rice is also relatively inexpensive if bought in bulk. If you could stock one 55-gallon barrel of each of these four items, you would have quite the larder for multiple years, under severe, austere conditions.  You must be ever mindful of the effects of temperature, moisture, and pests.  The plastic barrels with effective lids, elevated off the ground, are probably the ultimate storage method.  You can also achieve successful conditions with multiple layers of plastic bags and very tight plastic containers, always keeping an eye on placement and threats.  The “barrel” volume is, of course, the ultimate efficiency, but keep in mind that gallon (or 5) boxes, cans and jugs of these products are available in many nearby stores. [JWR Adds: They can be re-packed into fairly vermin-proof containers, such as five gallon HDPE plastic buckets. As previously noted in SurvivalBlog these are often available free for the asking or for a dollar apiece from bakeries and delicatessens.]

As far as the rest of your contingency needs, nothing will serve and protect you like a hobbyist’s collection of affordable camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting gear.  Simple backpacks, canteens, tents and sleeping bags…..and moving on up from there.  Remember the opportunities of dollar stores, second-hand-Goodwill-yard sale approaches, and be sure to make it one of your hobbies.  Also include simple and effective fire starting and cooking, methods & materials.  A few remaining equipment items such as a small wood stove, bare-bones generator, grill-type propane tanks and stoves / grills / lamps; candles, matches, and mass-packaged lighters are eminently affordable, especially when bought used or at thrift stores.  In the scenario where retaining and fortifying your home is an option, these are invaluable pieces of the puzzle.  Lastly, don’t forget to stock several hand-crank flashlights and radios.  They are plentiful, reliable, and inexpensive in most stores now.

In closing, you don’t need to sacrifice 98% of your anticipated life, or resources, for preparation for a 2% likelihood of calamity.  Conversely, you can maximize your real preparedness with a highly efficient, reasoned approach, along with making much of it a part of your life’s hobbies, pursuits, and enjoyments.  I wish you an enjoyable, successful prepping experience! - Steve G.. Lt. Col. USAF, Retired

Dear Editor,
I am writing because I am also a beloved fan of wheat germ. Kitchen Maven already mentioned the longevity of such a food, but also the cost. I would suggest buying in bulk online. Sites like sell massive quantities of...well...bulk foods. A prepper can stock up on large portions of wheat germ. And for thirty-two dollars you can get twenty-five pounds of the good stuff. That translates out to a hair over 8.5 cents per serving. Sure beats out the seventy cent servings you can get from the store. The one and five pound bags are packed in extra heavy 3 mill air and moisture barrier heat sealed plastic bags for storage. It doesn't seem that the twenty-five pound bags get the same treatment though. And if you buy over seventy-five dollars worth, you get five dollar shipping. (Note, I am not an advocate for this site, I have just done business with them and have been pleased)

The author mentioned adding ingredients to the wheat germ, so here is my favorite recipe:

  • 1 cup peanut butter (I prefer crunchy, but you can do whatever)
  • 2 cups wheat germ
  • 1 cup flax seed
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 5-ish whole grain Fig Newton (or equivalent) bars crushed
  • Honey and cinnamon, to taste

Mixing this up makes a very good, packable source or energy for hiking.

Enjoy my two cents, - Jim S.

"Now there was no food in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, and said, "Give us food; why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone." And Joseph answered, "Give your cattle, and I will give you food in exchange for your cattle, if your money is gone." So they brought their cattle to Joseph; and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the asses: and he supplied them with food in exchange for all their cattle that year. And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year, and said to him, "We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent; and the herds of cattle are my lord's; there is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be slaves to Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land may not be desolate." So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe upon them. The land became Pharaoh's; and as for the people, he made slaves of them from one end of Egypt to the other. Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh, and lived on the allowance which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land. Then Joseph said to the people, "Behold, I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones." And they said, "You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be slaves to Pharaoh." - Genesis 47:13-25

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

Wheat germ is an excellent G.O.O.D. food, as well as superb for long-term prepper storage. It's feather light, loaded with protein and healthy fats, high calorie, nutrient dense, contains a wide variety of vitamins and trace minerals, and is very filling. Wheat germ is genuinely the most nutritious cereal in the world. And per meal, it's fairly cheap.

Throw a cup of it into a Zip-Loc bag perhaps with some nuts and dried fruit. When you want to eat, add a cup of milk (or water if necessary), let it sit a minute or two, and you have a substantial meal that can even be spooned right out of the Zip-Loc bag;

One cup of wheat germ weighs four ounces, and has as much protein as a six-ounce sirloin steak. Twelve ounces of wheat germ contains 105 grams of high quality protein; enough daily protein for a large adult male doing hard labor. And unlike MREs, it will keep you regular.

What is a good portion size? That depends on your size, appetite, and activity level. For a small, sedentary female, half a cup would be more than plenty. Big, active guys will eat twice that. Wheat germ is to regular cereal as cheesecake is to regular cake - a lot richer and more filling. A solid meal, not a snack.

Before the 1970s, health food was about maximizing health, rather than avoiding diseases. One of the most popular foods from this period was wheat germ. Unfortunately, the health food field is incredibly faddish. Wheat germ got shoved aside by newer discoveries, and was gradually forgotten.

Wheat germ is the secret ingredient that gives whole wheat flour its superiority over white flour. You can think of wheat germ as a form of whole wheat that has had all the empty white flour taken out - because that's what it is. It contains some bran, which adds fiber, but no white flour at all. (As a result, wheat germ contains only about 40 percent carbs, of which 25 percent is fiber - very low carbs for a grain product.)

Not only that, but it comes in vacuum packed, glass jars with metal tops - perfect for prepper storage. Unopened jars will last for years if kept in a cool, dark place. In the freezer, it seems to last indefinitely. I had some for about four years in the back of my freezer, and when opened, it smelled as fresh and sweet as ever. (Bad wheat germ can be identified instantly, because it smells unpleasantly rancid. Trust your nose, never mind the expiration date.)

Once the jar is opened, wheat germ will keep un-refrigerated for weeks, depending on temperatures (always sniff test), and for months if kept chilly.

Extremely fresh wheat germ smells slightly sweet, acceptable wheat germ has almost no smell, and bad wheat germ smells rancid because the high quality oils will eventually oxidize. Since wheat germ is a major source of Vitamin E, which is a natural preservative, it lasts longer than you would expect.

Many people who think they dislike wheat germ actually dislike rancid wheat germ. Keep it in the refrigerator, once opened. There's a reason it's sealed in expensive vacuum packed glass jars instead of cardboard boxes. For preppers, the added protection against bugs, mice and moisture is a bonus.

Wheat germ is cheap. People look at the price and say, "That many dollars for one lousy jar of cereal?!" But a 20-ounce jar contains ten small meals, or five big ones. Depending on the size of the portions you generally eat, divide the total price by five, or by ten, to get the per meal price. At current prices, that ranges from less than 70 cents to $1.40 for a meal. As I said, wheat germ is cheap.

And you can get it at Wal-Mart (top shelf, baking aisle, not cereal aisle). Most supermarkets carry it on an eye-level shelf at the end of the cereal section.

Wheat germ is incredibly moisture absorbent. You must add a volume of liquid equal to the volume of wheat germ, not less than that. One cup of wheat germ requires one cup of milk. At first you will see tiny flakes floating in the milk, and grumble, thinking you've added way too much. But wait. Within a minute or two, the liquid will be completely absorbed, and the wheat germ will be soft, like hot cereal.

You can gobble it down without waiting if you like - if you enjoy chewing sawdust. Most people do this only once.

In an emergency, you can eat wheat germ dry, eating a small pinch at a time. Wait, and let it moisten in your mouth before swallowing. It tastes fine; you just have to eat it slowly.

For G.O.O.D. bags, keeping two- to four-ounce single size servings Zip-Loc bags in the freezer/fridge, and putting these inside a larger Zip-Loc bag, you with multiple meals within a five-second grab time.

For added longevity once on the road, if you expect to keep them more than a couple-three weeks in hot weather, you may want to pre-package them in small Mylar Zip-Loc bag with oxygen absorber packets (Walton Feed carries them). You can put powdered milk, cocoa powder, sugar, nuts, dried fruit, sunflower, flax or chia seed, or whatever pleases you in the Zip-Loc bag with the wheat germ.

To transport the glass jars, consider rolling them in a double layer of bubble wrap, and taping it snugly to avoid breakage..

Wheat germ tastes like wheat - because it is wheat. Like pasta, you could eat it plain, but probably wouldn't want to. It tastes okay, but boring. You can add practically anything to it, and you can add it to practically anything. As with most wheat products, it glories in humbly being a base for other things.

Most people sprinkle a tablespoon or two into everything from soup to cereals to spaghetti sauce, mix it into meatballs, or add it to baked goods. You can replace one-third of the flour with wheat germ. It's a great nutrition booster. However, it's also a food in its own right.

My mama was smart and sneaky. She never bought sugared cereals. But she had a special treat for us...if we were good children, when we came home from school, we could have wheat germ as a cereal, mixed with milk and lots of chocolate syrup...oh my. Down it went.

Consequently, I grew up thinking of wheat germ as a regular cereal, not as something to sprinkle. To this day I eat it that way, usually with nuts and blueberries. It is nutritionally the best of all cereals, and can be eaten hot or cold.

So what do you put in your wheat germ? Whatever you love best. What do you put into the wheat germ of a spouse/offspring you are introducing it to? Whatever they love best. My mama's idea was really good.

The following information was provided to me by The Quaker Oats Company. I highlighted some information. Folic acid is essential for pregnant women to prevent birth defects; four ounces of wheat germ meets the new FDA requirement.

Information is for four ounces (133.4 grams):

Calories 415.18
Total Fat, g 10.84
Saturated Fat, g 1.88
Polyunsaturated fat, g. 6.78
Monounsaturated fat, g. 1.42
Cholesterol, mg. 0.0
Sodium, mg 6.75
Potassium, mg 1243.66
Total carbohydrates, gm. 56.0
Dietary fiber, g. 13.48
Soluble fiber, g. 1.21
Sugars, g. 12.36
Protein, g. 35.64
Vitamin A, IU 144.02
Vitamin C, mg. 6.8
Calcium, mg. 57.04
Iron, mg 9.46
Vitamin E, IU 42.96
Thiamin, mg. 2.23
Riboflavin, mg. 0.88
Niacin, mg. 6.33
Vitamin B6, mg. 0.68
Folic acid, mcg. 443.37
Vitamin B12, mcg 0.24
Biotin, mcg. 32.77
Pantothenic acid, mg. 1.59
Phosphorus, mg. 1281.75
Magnesium, mg. 355.12
Zinc, mg. 18.16
Copper, mg. 0.7
Manganese, mg. 21.64

Dear Editor:

I am writing this hoping to let others learn from my families’ ordeal. Our summer camping trip almost became a search and rescue operation.

From July 8th to the 18th, several friends and I ventured into the mountains of Arizona for a leisurely cooler [high country] camping trip. During the first half of this trip I had my three daughters with me, while my wife had stayed home near Phoenix. She planned to come up the last weekend of the camping trip as she is not a big fan of camping.

I had planned ahead for her and made arrangements with a family member for her to borrow their [Toyota] FJ Cruiser [compact SUV] with four wheel drive. I did not want her to have to drive the almost 30 miles of dirt road to our camp in her minivan. Along with the FJ came a GPS system.

I was even courteous enough to my wife and met her at the beginning of the dirt road and let her follow me back to camp so she would not get lost with my directions.

Everything so far had worked out great. On Saturday afternoon my wife became bored with the whole camping idea and decided she wanted to drive into Payson, Arizona and do some window shopping and just goof around in town.

I went to the GPS and looked up the directions for Payson for her. I knew she would have to drive at least 20 miles on a different dirt road and then follow the signs on the highway to Payson. Altogether a 50 mile drive or so. The GPS was indicating it wanted my wife to travel a different route that would add many more miles onto the trip.

To overcome this I gave her verbal directions to the Rim Road and told her to go East on it. At that point the GPS would recalculate and tell her to follow the known route to Payson. Or so I hoped. I kissed the wife and sent her on her way with two of my daughters, a GMRS radio, and her cellular telephone. She left camp at about 1 p.m.

At about 3:30 pm I decided to drive to the edge of the Mogollon Rim and make a cellular call and see how she was doing and make sure she arrived safely. I figured the trip would have taken maybe just over an hour without heavy traffic.

When I made the call she answered and sounded upset. She explained to me she followed the GPS directions from camp and the GPS had taken her to Payson through Winslow. Her trip took 2½ hours. She also explained to me that she only had a ¼ tank of gas when she left (plenty to get to Payson on the Rim Road) and had almost run out of gas following the route through Winslow.

My wife was very upset and said she was not planning on staying too long as the majority of the afternoon was now over. I began to tell her how to get back to camp and give her directions. She was still upset from her first trip and said she would just follow the GPS back to camp. When I tried to give more directions she hung up on me.

I went back to camp but worried about her and the girls for the rest of the afternoon. I was not sure what time she was planning on leaving Payson and therefore had no expected time of arrival for her. I decided that I would attempt to call her at 7 p.m. if I had not heard from her or seen her arrive.

At 6:45 I was worried and chomping at the bit. My friend drove me to the edge of the Rim to make a cellular call and attempt to reach her. I made 4 separate calls. Each time I could hear the phone connect but did not hear anyone on the other end. Shortly after the call would be lost. The fifth time, the phone connected and my wife’s upset and concerned voice was finally heard.

She begged me to come find her. She said she had followed the GPS and was lost somewhere on the Mogollon Rim. My own concern set in and I asked her to provide me with some kind of direction she was could be found. She was only able to tell me that the GPS said she was on the forest road #91.

I knew that road; it was not too far from our camp. The problem was that this road continued for several miles taking her possibly farther back into the woods. I immediately told her to stop the truck and sit in it and wait for me. The call was then lost. I was getting pretty panicked at this point and my buddy knew I was.

I told him we needed to go and find her. We went to where the 91 began and headed north. After driving 3-4 miles we began to hear what sounded like a “call” tone on the mobile GMRS radio in the truck. The bad part, the trucks radio could pick up the distant call but she would be unable to hear us if we called to her. We tried and got no response. The “call” tone continued over and over and eventually stopped. We didn’t even know if it was from my wife.

After driving almost 10 miles on the 91 I heard my wife’s voice come across the GMRS radio. She asked if I was out there. I cleared her back and she heard my transmission. I knew that with the small handheld radio she was using we had to be within 2 miles or so from her.

I talked with her on the radio back and forth to calm her as we continued down the forest road looking. Eventually we came out of a canyon and right on top of the ridge was the FJ parked in the middle of the road with the headlights on. I was overjoyed and calmed.

During the drive back to camp, I asked my wife what had occurred. She said after speaking to me and hanging up on me, she drove to Show Low, Az. She said she thought I had told her to drive there and then use the GPS to drive back to camp following its directions.

She drove to Show Low and then followed the GPS through Taylor and Snowflake and back to Winslow. There the GPS took her through the forest roads for over an hour. She was still following the GPS directions but felt she was lost.

She had made numerous attempts to call me on my cell phone but either got no response or had no service. She had all but given up when her cell phone rang and it was me calling her. The GPS directions were correct, that is to say it was taking her back to our camp, over a hundred miles out of the way.

My wife blew the whole ordeal off and blamed me for the whole issue. As we were driving to find her I began thinking and my thoughts fell on how little prepared she was for this ordeal.

I have her minivan at home set up with a full emergency kit/BOB kit. The kit could sustain her and the girls for at least 72 hours had they needed to use it. When my wife borrowed the FJ she left this kit in the minivan. I also knew that the FJ did not have any such kit in it. They had no food or shelter aside from the truck. I believed they may have had several bottles of water.

The Mogollon Rim is a large escarpment that extends from Flagstaff to the New Mexico border in a crescent shape. The Rim is the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. The elevations range from 7,000’ to 8,000’. This area is crisscrossed with innumerable forest roads. She could have been anywhere in eastern Arizona.

What made matters worse; my wife is not a prepper. She thinks I am loony but allows me to continue with our families preparations as she believes I will be around to do it all if the SHTF. I know that had I not found her, and she would have wandered off the 91, she and the girls could have been lost for a long time and needed further professional rescue.

In the end everything worked out but it could have turned out very bad. I am trying to make my wife realize how bad it could have been. I am also trying to plan on ways to keep this from happening again in the future.

By the way, my wife has a new acronym translation for GPS: Giant Pile of S***.

Regards, - J.M.J.

I have a bad back and knew I would have to have more than a small back pack. So I found a game cart on eBay that will haul up to 800 lbs. It has a steel frame and two hard rubber tires (no air) on each side, a canvas sling for packing items, and only cost around $100. I can pack a lot on it in waterproof bags, cover with a tarp and bungee it down and it works great. Goes right over rocks, logs, etc with just a little help. I can push it or pull it, and can even haul an injured person on it if necessary. It still stresses my back but surprisingly not as bad as a heavy backpack, and I can keep going a lot longer. Meanwhile, I can use it as a garden cart or for moving heavier things around the property. Since I would be bugging out with a partner and we have practiced with the game cart, I feel it could be a big help if we have to bug out on foot, depending on circumstances and weather. On the downside, it will leave somewhat of a trail on all but the hardest ground, and that's not a good thing.

I've looked at a lot of canvas wheeled suitcases, and came to the conclusion I could use one of those if necessary. So I made a wooden frame for one after removing the plastic wheels and attached heavy duty swivel wheels to it. Then I replaced the plastic pull handle with some heavy nylon pull straps attached to the wooden frame, along with a wood handle. After that I sprayed the whole suitcase with waterproofing spray several times .I also cut down a pair of old skis and they can be screwed down to the frame rather quickly if its snowy weather. - Prepper in the Rockies

"Dr1" suggested an interesting instructional video on how to do evaporative cooling.

   o o o

Stew sent this from The Mother Earth News: How to Build a Grain Bin House.

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Reader R.F.J. highlighted this one: HEADS 2nd Generation Smart Concussion Sensor For Soldiers Helmets Unveiled

"It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste." - Henry Ford

Friday, August 13, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

Please consider the following scenarios:

  • You are sitting at a table in a local restaurant with your family, significant other, and/or friend when a person enters the business and starts shooting.
  • You are shopping with your family at Christmas time and several subjects enter the mall and start shooting.
  • The “Crunch” has happened and it’s now full-blown TEOTWAWKI.   Looters are present and have forced their way into one of the buildings on your homestead.  The 911 system doesn’t work and the area police force is non-existent.   It’s up to you and one other person from your homestead to find the looters and remove them.

These scenarios, plus many others, are very probable.   Unfortunately, the first scenario has happened in the U.S. several times in the past few years and the second one has occurred hundreds of times in other countries.   Our responses need to be thought out and trained for, especially if you plan on having an armed response.

Some of the training necessary to prevail in these types of situations means being willing and even somewhat comfortable with shooting a target that’s next to or behind a loved one or another innocent person.  How prepared are you and your loved ones to do this?

Before I go any further with this article, I need to provide a disclaimer.  To many of you, this will be common sense but I still need to write this.
Training and using a firearm can be very dangerous, especially when it’s done carelessly and without proper supervision.  A person can be severely injured or killed with a firearm and they need to be respected at all times.
 Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded and always keep pointed in a safe direction.
Use proper safety equipment, such as eye and ear protection.
Please get quality firearms training from a reputable instructor/training center before doing these training drills live-fire.  If you do these drills live-fire on your own range, have a knowledgeable safety person present whose sole purpose is to watch those doing the drills and to stop the drills any time something unsafe occurs.
The #1 rule of firearms safety is that the gun will not fire unless pressure is put on the trigger.  So, keep your trigger finger away from the trigger and the trigger well until you are ready to fire the gun!

Tools and Props
Many of these drills can be performed dry-fire, with an inert training gun such as a “red” or “blue” gun and with airsoft guns on a regular basis.  Make sure that you and your training partners check each firearm used for dry-fire training to make sure they are not loaded.  Also, keep all magazines and ammunition away from the “training area”.
Other props that are useful for training in partner tactics are cones and/or barrels for movement drills and a table and at least 2 chairs.  Having a booth to train with would be nice since most restaurants have them but you can use a couch or a love seat and a small table to a least practice the concepts.

The First Drill
The first drill is often referred to as “warrior inoculation”.  This drill is used by our military, especially in Special Forces units, and SWAT teams on a regular basis.  Fortunately, it has also made its way to some patrol officers, including myself, and I feel I am better off for it.

You start this drill by having you and your partner about 15 feet away from the target.  Your partner is directly in front of the target and you are 2-3 feet to their left or right.  Now you walk forward 5-6 feet.  With your back towards your partner, your partner now fires 2-3 rounds into the target.  Your partner’s bullets should not come anywhere close to you (I mean as far as inches go.  The bullets should still be 2-3 feet from you.), but you will feel the concussion of the gun being fired.  On your partner’s cue, you turn to face your partner.  Once your partner is sure you haven’t inadvertently moved into his line of fire, then your partner verbalizes he’s ready to fire.  Unless you object for some safety purpose, your partner then fires 2-3 more shots into the target.   Once the line is safe and your partners has re-holstered, you and your partner switch places and repeat the drill. 

Now, you may ask, why in the world would I ever do such a drill?  I’ve heard this objection voiced by several officers as well and the answer is pretty simple.  Where is a gunfight most likely to happen, in a flat open area devoid of any other people like the practice range?  Or, is it most likely to occur where innocent people and/or your loved ones are present?  This drill helps you and your partner get used to shooting at targets near “friendlies” and also keeps you from freaking out when your partner shoots a target near you.

The Weave Drill
The 2nd drill involves using cones, barrels, or some other barrier that’s set up at 10-foot intervals from the target, so the 1st one is at 10 feet from the center of the center target, the 2nd at 20 feet and the 3rd at 30 feet.  There should be at least 3 targets for the 2 of you to shoot and use steel targets if you can since they give instant feedback while you are moving.  That “ping” of a hit on a steel target is always reassuring.
Before the drill starts, you are on left side of the barriers, about 10 feet back from the last barrier, and your partner is on the right side, about 10 feet back from the last barrier as well.  On your command of forward, you both draw your weapons and move forward while shooting the targets.  Your partner should be slightly in front of you as you are both moving forward and as soon as you clear the first cone, you yell cross.  As he crosses in front of you, he keeps shooting the targets as you dip your muzzle towards the ground.  Once he is clear, your gun is back up in the fight.  This process is repeated all the way past the cone closest to the targets.
Once you are past the first cone, you start moving backwards using the same commands and safety precautions, only now the roles are reversed.  Your partner should now yell cross.
If you do this drill correctly, you use several critical skills.  You must constantly use your peripheral vision, good movement since a moving target is harder to hit, vocalization under stress and magazine changes while moving.
A quick note on pointing the muzzle towards the ground when your partner crosses in front of you:  This is known as position “sul” but rather than your hands being pulled all the way back to your chest, it’s done with your arms extended.  There are several articles/videos posted about position “sul” so you can Google it.  A quick description is that you lay the barrel of you gun across the back of your support hand and point it towards the ground.  This position allows you to get your gun back in the fight as quickly as possible.

Moving From Seated Position
Many of us eat at restaurants on a somewhat regular basis.  How many of you have thought about, let alone practiced, accessing your concealed firearm while in the seated position and engage targets while seated and while trying to stand up?  I personally believe that this is a very critical OPSEC training task for you and your loved ones in today’s world if you conceal carry a firearm.

Many contributors to this blog talk about discussing possible scenarios with your loved ones and even playing the “what if” game.  I couldn’t agree more, especially when in a restaurant, which has limited movement area and people are crammed close together all the time. 

For this drill, start with at least two of you on the same side of the table.  The first several times you do any of the seated drills, do it dry-fire and/or using Airsoft and make sure that the designated safety person is watching that safety rule #1 is being followed.  Keep your finger off the trigger and away from the trigger well until pointed at the target!  Draw you firearm and engage the target from the seated position.  Once you have practiced this several times, then do it while standing and moving away from the table.  Consciously train yourself to move the chair with your leg as you stand.

This drill can be continued by having your partner move to the end of the table and eventually sitting on the other side of the table.  These parts of the drill become even more challenging for the person sitting at the end or on the other side because that person must turn towards the target and engage while moving.

Getting used to drawing your firearm from a seated position, engaging the target while standing and engaging while moving are key skills since there may be more than one attacker and/or you may want to draw the attacker’s focus away from your loved ones.

A booth would be great to get additional practice in but obviously most ranges don’t have them present.  This can be practiced in the home dry-fire and/or Airsoft using a couch or love seat and a table.  Also, think about how you would react to an attacker each and every time you are in a restaurant.

I know that there are many, many other drills that can be used to strengthen your partner tactics.  Many times, we are only limited by our imagination.  But please, in any and all training that you do, keep safety as the #1 priority of all involved.

I pray for God’s blessing on each and every one of you!

After reading “Medicinal Herb Gardening” by Mrs. Celena J. I was prompted to write more about making medicinal herbal balms and ointments. They are easily made once you get the hang of it and different ingredients can be used for different applications. My two favorites are Healing Muscle Balm and Rose Balm for the lips and skin. My family and friends also love these two combinations and have found them very effective.

Healing Muscle Balm is a combination of infused oils of Arnica, Meadowsweet, and Comfrey leaf. These particular herbs help with reducing the inflammation and alleviating the pain of muscle injury and arthritic problems as well as encouraging healing of the injury. I add beeswax to harden the oils, coconut oil for increased absorption into the skin and Vitamin E. oil for a preservative.

Rose Balm is a combination of infused oils of rosebuds/petals and rosehips as well as Calendula for a soothing and healing ointment which can be used on rashes, eczema, and other skin irritations and is a wonderful lip balm.

It takes a couple of weeks to prepare everything.
1. Fill a quart canning jar with herb of choice. Flowers (dried roses, arnica flowers, calendula flowers) can be packed into the jar. I usually fill the jar half full of the leafy herbs (one herb to each jar) - it’s not an exact science.
2. Pour oil over herb or flowers to rim of jar.
3. Cap, label, and shake.
4. Place the jars in a very warm area - I use my garage here in the South. (I’ve tried a heating pad but never felt comfortable leaving it on when I’m not at home.)
5. Turn the jars upside down a few times at least once a day to move the herbs around and allow their medicinal qualities to infuse into the oil.
After 10 days to 2 weeks the oils are ready for use.
6. Strain the plant matter out using cheese cloth placed in a strainer and return the strained oil to the cleaned jar (don’t forget to label everything!)
7. Keep in refrigerator for freshness.

I’ve experimented with a number of oils and prefer Grapeseed oil with Vitamin E already added (I still add a few drops of Vit E oil.) Sunflower oil is also very nice. Olive oil hardens in the refrigerator and then I have to wait for it to soften up to make the balms.

These recipes use dried herbs and flowers. Fresh herbs (like St. Johns Wort) need to be treated a little differently but I’m not going to cover that here. Be sure you purchase the herbs (if you don’t grow or wildcraft your own) from a reputable company. I really like Mountain Rose Herbs and herbs.

1 cup infused oils - choose your mixture (I mix them together in a large pyrex measuring cup)
1 oz of beeswax
large tablespoon of virgin coconut oil

1. Melt beeswax in double boiler (I have an old one just for balms)

2. (Fill another pot with water - just enough to sit the pyrex measuring cup in after mixing - bring to a boil and then leave simmering - see below)

3. Add oil mix slowly and stir as it melts into the beeswax

4. Pour beeswax/oil mixture back into the pyrex cup and sit the cup in the simmering pot of water (see above - this gives you a little more time before the mixture hardens) - add essential oils per preference - about 40 drops.

5. Pour (QUICKLY) into containers.

(I purchase 1.8 oz and 4 oz jars for this but you can use any jars at home if you’re not selling them or giving as gifts. The mixture will harden on the side of the glass measuring cup. I scrape that off with a rubber spatula and put it into a small canning jar for my own personal use.)

For lip balm you can use 2 oz of beeswax to one cup of oil (This would be to put in the lip balm tubes.)

ARNICA infused oil 1/2 cup
MEADOWSWEET infused oil 1/4 cup
COMFREY infused oil - just a little less than 1/4 cup
Beeswax 1 oz (add large spoonful of coconut oil) drops of Vitamin E oil for preservative
Add several drops Spearmint essential oil (or essential oil of choice, blends for muscles are especially good.)

1/2 cup rose petal/buds infused grapeseed oil
1/4 cup rosehip infused oil
1/4 cup calendula infused oil
Beeswax 1 oz (add large spoonful or more of coconut oil/few drops of Vitamin E oil to preserve)
Rose Geranium essential oil drops (Rose essential oil is extremely expensive to I use a rose blend with the rose geranium - a little bit of lavender added to that is also nice.)

An extra nice touch is to “double-dip” the roses. Infuse them for the two weeks - strain- and add the strained, already infused oil to another jar filled with the roses and let them sit for another 1-2 weeks.

Personally, I’ve had great success with both recipes. After smashing my big toe into a doorjamb, I used it liberally.
The toe turned black and blue but healed within a week and the nail remains in place. Also was very helpful for muscle spasms in the back (sequelae from injured toe incident.) And the Rose ointment is very soothing for chapped lips and minor skin irritations.

Mr. Rawles:
A recent letter about reaching a retreat on foot caused me to think back over 20 years to when I was in the Marine Corps and I thought I would share some of what I've learned about trying to walk long distances with heavy packs in hostile environments.

In the Corps, as you can imagine, we 'humped' a lot (for you soldiers or civilians that's Marine speak for road marching, rucking or hiking) and if I learned anything it was that walking long distances with heavy loads, weapons, communications equipment, water, clothes and food is tough for even the toughest at times.

First, despite the phenomenal shape we were in as Marines we generally never attempted long road marches without working up to them first. Sure, if we had to hump 20 miles we'd do it right then and there but if we had time (and presumably we as American's still have time) then we wouldn't attempt that without first working up to it.

To work up to such strenuous hiking we'd start with light gear (782 gear to Marines, or just Deuce Gear is I think TA-50 to Soldiers: standard issue web gear, combat gear, or field equipment.). We'd step off in Utilities ("Utes", also called BDUs by the Army) and boots and hump a good 5 miles at a brisk pace. During these short humps we didn't stop and kept about a 5 mile per hour pace. We called these 'Utes and Boots' runs if we dropped the 782 gear and picked up the pace. It is tough if you're not used to it so starting off at a 3 mph or 4 mph pace might be better for a civilian trying to train up - but don't forget to increase the pace later on when carrying light loads. Of course since we ran PT in formation at a very brisk pace (I once clocked our formation run at a 7 minute pace - that's 3 miles in 21 minutes in formation) we could start off humping a 5 miler at a much faster pace than you might imagine. 5 miles an hour is tough and more like a walk/run then a walk but it's doable, indeed we once humped 5 miles in 45 minutes but that was more a run than anything else - side note: don't volunteer as a road guard when the commander decides to set records in Utes and Boots and 782!

To survive the beating your feet will get, powder them well and wear good boots - Marine Corps combat boots were not the best back then, but we mostly had them modified ourselves to improve the comfort and reduce the shock of long road marches. Any good cobbler/shoe maker can take a combat boot and change the sole, eyelets etc to improve the boot so don't be afraid to have it done if you plan to wear military issue (unless the new ones are as good as I'm told).

Once we did this for a couple weeks (once or twice a week mixed in with regular PT schedule) we'd step it up to two 5 milers and a 10 miler. By this time we either ran the 5 miles or carried a heavier load (782 plus Alice pack with Air Alert gear -- 2nd set of Utilities, extra socks, poncho and liner etc etc plus MREs). For the ten milers we carried the medium load also and kept a steady pace but stopped at 5 miles to change socks and powder our feet.

By the end of the 4th week we were hitting 15 miles with fairly heavy ALICE Packs etc and stopping 3 or 4 times for sock changes and foot powder and by the 5th week 20 miles was the norm.

By the end of about six weeks of serious humping (often spending part of the time in the field and humping from AO to AO) we were ready for anything and if deploying somewhere would take the MCRES (Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation Systems) test of 25+ miles in under 8 hours with no more than 10% losses. We generally did this at night since there had been too many heat casualties during the day in the summer.

In 1988 we did 32 miles in 7 hours and 50 minutes and lost 10% of our 2,000 man BLT (Battalion Landing Team). Humping 25-30 miles at a 4+ mile pace with a heavy load takes its toll and many succumb to heat exhaustion, sprained or broken ankles, twisted knees and worse and we were highly trained and very fit Marines but that doesn't change the dynamics of humping long distance at night carrying a heavy load and injuries will happen.

At the end of the 8 hours of walking with over 100 lbs of gear (I also carried the PRC-77 [14-pound VHF transceiver] for 7-1/2 miles during that march) I'd pulled some ligaments in my left foot and was dragging it, I had more bruises (from gear) then you might imagine and could barely get into the back of a 5 Ton for the ride to the barracks!

Planning on bugging out and carrying a heavy load might be something you can do, but I want you to understand the risks involved and the serious training required if it's longer then a few miles that you have to walk carrying a heavy load.

Things you should consider if you plan to walk to your retreat even after much training:

1. Change your socks with dry socks every five miles and powder your feet with foot powder when you do - so carry extra socks and plan to dry the wet ones by hanging them on the back of your ruck if it's dry out.

2. Bring along fruit to graze on if you can -- eating an orange along the route will boost your energy and a banana will help with foot cramps due to electrolytes lost during the hump.

3. Plan to drink at least one gallon of water! You will sweat out massive amounts and must replace what you lose or you will cramp or worse. Perhaps keep some electrolyte mix and mix it up during the sock change break.

4. Plan points along your route that you can hole up in for a day or two in case of injury -- it is possible you will sprain an ankle in the first 5 miles and will need to rest before moving on so doing so in a safe place is important. While you may not be able to rest for two weeks, even a two day break will give your ankle etc time to recover a bit and with a slower pace and perhaps a splint you may be able to continue then.

6. Carry a walking stick if possible and sling your weapon if you can (if in dangerous country do not sling [your rifle over your shoulder], instead carry using a 'Swiss sling' which keeps the weapon hanging comfortably in front of you ready for action).

7. Remember, the old saying: 'If you can't Ruck it, Truck it - if you can't Truck it, Chuck It'. Seriously, carrying more than 50 lbs of gear for 10-25 miles or more is tough if you are not used to it. Carrying 100 lbs for 10-20 miles is very hard, carrying 150 lbs is for the best trained hikers only! You won't make it 5 miles with that load if you aren't prepared, trained, and well hydrated.

8. Keep first aid kit handy - concentrate on pain killers, mole skin (for blisters) and splint making materials. Expect injury, plan for it and if you make the long march without one all the better. But don't assume you can make it! I've seen tough Marines collapse under a 100 pound pack after 15 miles with their eyes rolled up and feet kicking! We called that the 'funky chicken' and while that might not be nice it helps me stress a point: Do not think that can't happen to you, it can if you aren't prepared or went out drinking the night before and suddenly find yourself 15 miles down the road, exhausted, dehydrated and overheating.

9. Keep light snacks in your pockets in an accessible place (having some gum or a little hard candy can really help when you're at the 15 mile mark and starting to seriously drag).

10. Make sure you have a good water filter or purifier handy because you will drink more than you think and may need an alternate source of water. Water weighs nearly 8 pounds per gallon so if you have just 4 canteens you're now 8 lbs less gear you can carry. If you have two gallons (canteens and camelback maybe) then you're carrying 16 lbs of water -- think about it.

For those who have a chafing problem my advice is "work up to it". While some Marines did try things like nylon stockings, Vaseline and other 'fixes' I found that briefs and Utilities were all that is required (sorry, but boxers were the worst thing to wear on a 25 mile hump) provided you trained that way and allowed the body to get used to the constant walking (rubbing). I lifted weights for many years like a lot of Marines and had big thighs but chafing wasn't an issue after a month or two of constant humping in the North Carolina humidity. Your body will adjust usually. If it doesn't then try spandex shorts - these will provide the relief you need, guaranteed.

Hydrate, eat lots of carbs before each hike and plan each one carefully and you will be happy you did if TSHTF and you've got to ruck up and step out. Semper Fi, - Erik M.

The cause of the recent cell phone outage in Kentucky isn't being stated, but they are appearing to distance themselves from an CME or EMP event. Nevertheless, how much preparedness do most of these AT&T users demonstrate? (This could of course happen with any carrier.) One of my employees who has an AT&T phone said the only number her school age son has to reach her is her cell number, as an example. Why her son can't have her work number I have no idea. An embedded terrorist cell springing into action and striking a school during such an event would evoke even greater terror than during a normal day.

That cell phones not working led to the 911 [police/fire emergency telephone service] being overwhelmed is laughable on an ordinary day like this. Should this happen on a broad basis, or during a natural [disaster or other large scale] emergency then the consequences would be significant. And, gasp police had to use their radios instead of their iPhones.

Best Regards, - G.

RBS sent this: ‘Seed ambassadors’ spread the word about saving

   o o o

Linda Y. was the first of several readers that sent us this news wire article: Scientists find new superbug spreading from India. Linda's comment: " While most readers probably looked over this story with an 'another-cry-wolf' view, it definitely caught my attention. This is very worrisome. I have seen first hand how the US-300 strain of MRSA can ravage a body in no time. My son came home ill from college and doctors could not figure out what was wrong with him and kept sending us home. By the time they figured out that it was MRSA, he was near death in less than a week. Antibiotics were not working. The MRSA caused kidney infarcts, destroyed part of his aorta, aortic valve, mitral valve and created a hole in his heart, and finally had to have a bypass around the endotoxins to get his heart to properly beat again. He miraculously survived but only because we had one of the best team of doctors on his case from Loyola University Medical Center and thousands of people around the world were praying for him. One doctor called the bacteria an 'Entity.' That is the best lexicon for these antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This should be terrifying news to all. Let's hope they get this new 'Entity' under control with a new antibiotic quickly."

   o o o

Scott B. sent this preview of the coming urban riots as the nascent Depression progresses: Housing crisis reaches full boil in East Point {Atlanta]; 62 injured

"A wild boar stood under a tree, and rubbed his tusks against the trunk. A fox passing by asked him why he thus sharpened his teeth when there was no danger threatening from either huntsman or hound. He replied, "I do it advisedly; for it would never do to have to sharpen my weapons just at the time I ought to be using them." To be well prepared for war is the best guarantee of peace." - The Fables of Aesop, published by Henry Altemus Company, 1899.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 grew up in a home where the parents believed in being prepared. When my dad went back to dental school after working for fifteen years as a biochemist, we lived for three years on the food storage they had acquired. But we didn’t use the food storage during those three years only. We had always enjoyed wonderful whole wheat bread, pancakes, cookies and cakes made from the wheat in our food storage. We learned that this food wasn’t to be used just in case of emergencies. We ate and rotated the items in our storage on a regular basis. We became used to the ingredients contained in these home-cooked meals made from scratch, and really learned to enjoy them. This is important, especially with whole wheat, because it does take some getting used to. You can’t just begin using it when your emergency starts and expect your body to immediately adapt to it.

When my wife and I were married, we wanted to be as prepared as my parents. We started small because we didn’t have much money or room. During the last 25 years we’ve been able to expand our food storage program and also make some additional preparations. I try to help as many people as possible become prepared by summarizing the basic requirements with these three words: Grub, Guns, and Gold! Of course the list is much more comprehensive than just those three items, but it’s a good starting point.

1) Do you have a year’s supply of basic food and water? If “no”, do have any money in the bank. If “yes”, take as much out as possible and buy a year’s supply of food. If you can afford more than that, that’s even better. Food storage calculators on the internet tell you how much of what items you need based on your family size. The major groups to consider include: Grains, Fats and Oils, Legumes, Sugars, Milk, Cooking Essentials, and Water. Additional items might include vegetables and fruits, whether canned, dehydrated, or freeze dried. Also, in order to fully utilize wheat in your food storage program, you’ll need to have a grinder to convert it into flour. We have a stone-ground grinder powered by electricity, but we also have a hand crank grinder just in case! For water we have eight 55 gallon barrels. We also have a Berkey water filter. What’s good about these filters is electricity isn’t needed – they work via gravity. We’re using our Crown Berkey right now with the additional fluoride filters so that we don’t end up with fluoride and other toxins in our bodies. We could even put Mississippi River water in the Berkey and it would make it safe to drink!

2) Do you still have money in the bank after buying your food? If so, buy guns to protect your family and food. The most effective home defense weapon is a 12 gauge shotgun. You may also want to acquire some type of semi-auto rifle, such as an SKS, or my favorite, the M1 Garand. The SKS is an effective killer out to 300 yards, and the Garand is effective out to 800 yards. Some people like the AR-15. Any of those are great. I also like to have a handgun nearby as well, at least 9mm or larger. If you’re not very familiar with guns, take a hunter education safety course at a minimum (your kids too), and maybe a course for concealed carry. And make sure you have enough ammo on hand for whatever might happen.

3) Do you still have money in the bank after buying your food and guns? If so, buy gold. Or if you’re poor like me, silver. Right now silver is trading at 65 times less than gold. In 1980 it was only sixteen to one, and is historically closer to fifty to one. So there is a greater likelihood that silver will be better insurance for you than gold, especially since it has many more industrial applications than gold. I call precious metals “insurance” because I’ve never considered them investments, and have sold silver only one time – to buy more food, guns, and ammo! Precious metals are what will allow me to do those things that will be necessary for my family to survive after the American way of life collapses. But don’t buy precious metals until you have your grub and guns first! Or at least take care of all of them concurrently.

I think we all realize that the best option for us would be to have remote and secure places we could go to if needed. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for most of us. That being stated, some additional considerations - for those of us trapped in urban or suburban settings, include:

A) You need to be able to cook your food without electricity. So my first thought was to buy a new propane gas grill and fill up our three tanks. So we did. Then I realized that three tanks wouldn’t last very long. So, we bought a Weber grill, and acquired a lot of free firewood. Then I learned that charcoal is better than wood for cooking applications, so we bought charcoal. But the Weber grill requires too much charcoal, so we did some cooking experiments with our dutch oven. We found that we could cook five dutch oven meals with one bag of charcoal. We ended up buying enough charcoal to cook one meal per day for six months. Unfortunately, the next thing we learned was charcoal in paper sacks tends to absorb moisture, and over time, will eventually become useless. So if you buy a lot of charcoal for your storage, you’ll need to repackage it in plastic bags inside the paper sacks, or put the charcoal in five gallon buckets. But, if there is some cataclysmic event and you’re the only house in the neighborhood with food, the last thing you want to do is cook outside where everyone in the neighborhood can smell your tasty stew. So, what do you do? You install a wood-burning stove in your house and cook on top of it! Whatever you do, don’t cook with charcoal indoors – carbon monoxide kills!

B) Many people put their guns in gun safes, like I did. That would protect them for the most part. But I think it’s more likely that my own government would take my guns than anyone else - remember Katrina. So I moved my favorite guns out of the house to secure locations. Now all I have available are one shotgun, one rifle, and one handgun, but I could get to the other ones fairly quickly if I really needed to. Someone recently wrote a book and created a web site called My question is this: What if someone in the government wrote that book? They’d know pretty much where you hid your guns! And they would have a record of every address where one of these books was delivered! Even if that book were written by an individual not associated with the government, anyone could read that book and know the most likely places people hide their guns! This one is a tough call, especially since your gun is registered when you buy it. So they know where you live, and they know the most likely hiding places for your guns!

C) When you buy your gold or silver, you won’t want to put it in a safe deposit box in the bank. You’ll want to have it in your hot little hands, or somewhere else safe. And you’ll want to buy it before January 1, 2011. I recently heard that one of the provisions of the recently passed ObamaCare legislation is that effective 1/1/2011, all transactions over $600 have to be reported to the IRS. That surely is reminiscent of 1933, now isn’t it?

D) One more very important thing to consider is related to #3 above. Any financial instrument or vehicle denominated in dollars will be worthless sooner or later. If you read what the experts have to say on this subject, it isn’t a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.” So at the very least, after you have your grub and guns, take as much of your savings out of the bank as you can and buy precious metals. Also, I took as much of my 401k out as I could and rolled it into a precious metals IRA. There is real silver in a vault with my name on it. When the value of the dollar goes down, my IRA will increase in value. If/when a new currency is adopted, my IRA will still have value. For the rest of my 401k, I was able to open up a brokerage account within it and I purchased two different Exchange Traded Funds: CEF – Central Canada and SLV – Ishares Silver. These ETFs own millions of ounces of actual precious metals and investors buy shares in them. These are still based on the dollar, but there isn’t anything else better I can do to make this money safe.

Numbers 1-3 are what I tell everyone who asks me about preparedness. If they show an interest in becoming prepared themselves, I help them acquire the food storage items at cost through my local church cannery. I also then tell them about items A-D. Once they’ve started working on A-D, I tell them about some additional items to consider. I’ve found if I just dump all of the information on someone right up front, they tend not to do anything. Milk before meat!

Hi there,
Do you have an opinion on what is the best G.O.O.D. bag?

1. Waterproof?

2. Backpack?

3. Multiple ways to carry it?

4. Wheels?

Thanks and keep up the good work. - KJ

JWR Replies: Unless you have a bad back, I'd recommend waterproof whitewater rafting "dry bags" in a backpack configuration, like this one. It is prudent to get them in earth tone colors--or at least spray paint them to tone them down. And, as mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, anyone with a bad back should consider a small wheeled cart or even a wheeled golfing bag.

G.G. suggested this piece by veteran economist Howard J. Ruff: Why Gold and Silver Seem Stuck

Also from G.G.: Chorus of QE calls is deafening. Stand by for price inflation, folks!

K.T. sent a link to an interview with Gerald Celente: Double Dip Depression Will Lead Us Into War

Readers of my novel "Patriots" might find this familiar: Fed Looks to Spur Growth by Buying Government Debt. ( A hat tip to Wade C. for the link.) This is a highly inflationary move!

And speaking of inflation: Wal-Mart Prices Are Rising: JP Morgan Study. A 5.8% increase in one month!

Items from The Economatrix:

Productivity Falls 0.9% in Second Quarter

Stocks Cut Losses on Fed's Economic Stimulus Plan

GOP Destroyed American Economy

Geithner's Claptrap About "The Recovery" Exposed

Gold Thefts Prompt Police to Monitor Sellers

San Fran Fed: Significant Chance Of Recession Next Two Years

A Democratic Panic Attack? Rumors of an "August Surprise"

Side Effect of the New Frugality: Happiness

Reader A.J. wrote to tell me that the classic medical book (circa 1913) book "Materia medica: pharmacology, therapeutics and prescription writing" is now available as a Google book. While some of the techniques are dated (such as the use of some chemicals that in more recent times have been determined to be carcinogens) and the safety standards for some anesthetics (including fire safety) fall short of modern standards, there is still some very useful information.

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KAF sent us this: Meet the first man to walk the Amazon. "After 859 days, thousands of miles and "50,000 mosquito bites," Ed Stafford became the first man known to have walked the entire Amazon river's length." See what kept him going in this report.

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R.F.J. spotted this over at Life Hacker: Build a Container Water Garden to Cure Your Pond Cravings. Here is a quote: "Small-container water gardens are actually a collection of submerged potted plants, which makes them easy to set up and to rearrange at will. You can use just about any container to start your water garden, but pots with dark interiors give an impression of greater depth, discourage algae growth, and make algae less obvious when it does grow. Best of all, most water plants are tough so the garden is low maintenance, and even those of us with a black thumb have a chance because they are generally hard to kill.

"The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) by quiet men in clean, carpeted and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices." - C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 didn’t start out being a “prepper,” I was born into it…My father was a Command Sergeant Major in the US Army, we lived on many posts and in many cities, and had to travel at a moment’s notice. So, we were always prepared for the most part as a way of life. OPSEC was drilled into us at an early age, strangers asking questions about dad's job, deployments, etc., were reported and we “army brats,” stuck together like glue on a hot summer day. Mom, kept the home front squared away, and we always had a nice place, warm bed, and hot food, no matter what... We grew up being in the great outdoors, hunting, hiking, fishing, stalking, and shooting each with Crossman BB/Pellet guns and wrist rockets with marbles…Learned real fast about cover vs. concealment...

Fast forward to today, I am 46 years old, married to a wonderful woman who views life thru rose colored glasses at times, US Army Veteran (PSYOPS) myself. I own a small IT consulting firm that pays the bills, and my wife is a Yoga Instructor/Business Coach. We live in a golf course community on the outskirts of a large Southern city. I stay active working out, fly fishing, Krav Maga and Judo, of course Yoga…We own a Mini Schnauzer, actually, she owns us and is a great dog, she thinks she is a giant. We entertain and visit with family and friends, travel..In short, the “typical” suburban couple, with a twist.

As the title implies, we are surreptitious survivors/preppers..It has been a long journey, taking many baby steps, more to come, to get where we are today. I had to get “buy in,” from the wife, as she did not share my “worldly view,” on these matters and has come to appreciate and understand my upbringing and military background, which has driven, and continues to drive, many of my decisions.

It started a couple years ago when we sold our home, and moved into our current one, downsizing to a Ranch…How to prepare, without looking like it and alerting the new, unknown, neighbors? Like many folks, we are not in a position to buy a mountain home and boogey at the first sign of trouble, and we live in a close knit community with a decent, defensible location, typical Scottish requirements, high ground, with open space and clear fields of fire, one way in, one way out. Zero lots lines means we have neighbors 10’ to the left and right of us, homes 100m across the back, and nothing except a big pond and a couple hundred yards to the front of us…Yes, I do have range cards. Not the perfect set up, but okay.

We developed a plan and worked it, with most of the info/strategies coming from insights learned here, and other reference materials, and prior military training.

Basically is went like this: Secure the home, upgrade storage, create and promote the neighborhood PSYOP piece, (our story) and take baby steps to prepare, all under the radar..

I upgraded the basic security system to a full blown, full perimeter, with smoke and heat detectors, glass breaks and dual tec interior motion sensors installed. The garage door is alarmed and there is a Xenon strobe light that flashes when the alarm goes off, and is visible throughout the immediate area. A siren too, that can wake the dead.. Extra exterior lighting was installed too. I upgraded the lower sashes on our single windows to tempered, dual pane units for added security. After move in, I added extra deadbolts with reinforced hinges, and custom steel door jamb guards installed to prevent the easy door kick…

As a former Brinks Home Security Consultant, I learned, saw a lot of home break ins, and invasions..Also, I turned our master bedroom closet into an improvised safe room. I replaced the outward swinging hollow core door, with a solid wood door, reinforced hinges, with a keyed dead bolt that can only be opened from the inside. Once closed, it can’t be kicked in, or pulled open. It is equipped for easy 24 hr stay. The nice thing is that it really doesn’t look like a secure room; deadbolt not withstanding…I also put hardened combo locks on electrical/utility panels to deter easy turn off and send a signal that we are security conscious. I purchased a small safe, dial type so EMP is not and issue and we have enough cash, silver, and nickels to last a month or two if the banks are down. If “it,” really hits, we have other major issues to deal with.

The garage is a totally finished/insulated space and I had a stronger garage door installed, without windows. We had extra shelving installed from the ceiling and on the walls. In addition, we have several wall mounted and free standing cabinets in place to hold our, “stuff,” and keep it from prying eyes. Yes, I also store some of our firearms in a hidden, wall and floor mounted safe, painted to look like the garage walls, and covered by ladders, etc. You have to literally be right on top of it to notice it. It is also hidden by a 4’x6’x24” steel shelf unit that holds my entire “man cave,” stuff, television, stereo, and computer networking routers, switches, etc.

How to hold and hide the ammo and other miscellaneous supplies? I use paint cans with my own codes in sharpie on the lids, and bankers boxes. All nicely stacked on the lower shelves of the rack system, very innocent looking and not worth anyone’s time. These are easy to grab and go

As an IT guy, I am always receiving packages from UPS/FedEx and the like. So, having large boxes shipped is not unusual for me, and does not violate OPSEC. My wife also gets her Yoga and cosmetic supplies shipped to the home as well. We both have home based business and come and go throughout the day, random schedule and have retired, and other home based business owners and teleworkers around us for added eyes and ears.. I also use a P.O. Box for all of our sensitive mail/parcels, and haul away the cardboard boxes to dumpsters in another area, (grocery stores & construction sites) not just dumping it in our trash for all to see or snoop.

Our plan is based on making it thru the first 72 hrs to couple weeks, then bugging out if things look like they’re getting worse, to a close friends place in the mountains a couple hours away..In the meantime, we need to be able to manage/survive in place..We have been buying foodstuffs from the local grocery store, big box stores and online to stock up. A mix of everything from soups, to MREs, Mainstay Rations to five gallon buckets, pre-packaged, freeze dried food and 25 lb bags of rice and beans.. Everything fits into the two interior pantry closets and/or on the garage shelving in five gallon buckets bought from Lowes for just that. You can’t tell that we have enough supplies for 3-6 months, depending on how we ration, and how charitable we feel. We purchase from several of the advertiser here on the blog site, our little way of giving back.

Water was another issue to tackle, as we are on city supplied water and gas, electrical…So, taking the advice here, I did the following: Bought a small 3 person hot tub, 300 gal, that we actually use quite often, and use the minimum and natural sanitizers. I also refresh the water every 3 months. This gives us approx 75 days of water if necessary. I have an REI filter system with extra cartridges and bleach to clean. We also have the 40gal water heater to drain, a 100 gal Water BoB and 12 gal of water on the floor of a pantry, more to be added. In addition, I have the pond in front of our home to draw from. Got water covered I think.

I have a propane grill with three 20 lb tanks, and plan to buy a large, 100 lb tank..That should cover us for a little bit. Our home uses gas for cooking, so we can manage eating until the Gas Co goes south and the gas stops flowing…

Fuel for autos is handled by always keeping the tanks ½ full, having two 5 gal containers, and knowing where there are two, 1,000 gal diesel and unleaded gas tanks nearby that are left unlocked and available for siphoning if necessary. I recon at night while “walking,” the dog…I can get gas…

I have not gotten the electrical covered yet, am in the market for a portable generator to power the HVAC/fridge, basic stuff, as I am not allowed to install en exterior, fixed, tri-fuel generator due to HOA rules…That is the next “big purchase,” and it too, will fit into a space in the back of the garage, created for it, and accessible quickly if need be.

I have developed two 72-hour kits for our autos, that we take daily, The wife’s stays in her car, because she parks in the garage. Mine, goes in and out of the trunk daily, as it parks on the driveway and I do not want it stolen. I have totally sanitized my car, no decals, nothing visible to steal, no personal info on anything inside the car. A police friend told me not to worry about it, since cops can determine instantly if it is yours or not and rarely ticket for such things. Our kits are in nondescript backpacks and contain everything to easily survive 3-6 days on the road..

There are: three 3,600 cal Mainstay rations, 100 oz camel backs with purification tabs, rain gear, Eton radio, shelter, fire, tools, etc…You get the idea. I also included a pair of fence pliers, in case we have to cross fences, etc., I’d rather cut them than climb over/under..They also make a good improvised weapon…I added a Cold Steel AK-47 folding knife, a robust, brute of a folder, that is legal carry, but effective at camp stuff and CQC if necessary. There is also a folding wrist rocket and steel ball bearings for 2-4 legged pests..

The Eton radio has a crank, and USB ports to power our cell phones, and GPS units, and I keep extra cables in the bag. If SHTF, texting will be the way to go, and you’ll need to charge your gear. This does it nicely..

I have slowly changed my wardrobe to be more covert and tactical in nature, thanks to pants, shirts and shoes from 5.11 Tactical. There are a couple of LEO stores and I regularly go in and buy and item or two here and there, always paying cash…

I have swapped my Swiss laptop bag for a Maxpedition Tactical unit, and have it stocked with various and sundry first line survival gear. Expensive, but worth every penny.

Now, on to the other piece put in place, or should I say removed: Social Networking sites and the like. I have gone dark, deleted several online accounts, to reduce my exposure and data points…Remember, I’m an IT guy, know firsthand what is collected on us, and how we, in many cases , make it so much easier for “others,” to glean info about us. Think it thru..How much data do you put on Facebook et al; about your firearms, hobbies, etc.?

My business does not depend on such online sites and found that it was taking more time and energy that they were worth to maintain.

Yes, we have been stocking up on other supplies as well, per JWR’s preparedness course materials, and recently bought the fish meds from Amazon as a recent article suggested…

In closing, I feel we are in pretty good shape, compared to most around us, not up to snuff on some other folks here, but again, meeting the goal of: Surreptitious Suburban Survival.

I've been using herbal remedies for over 20 years and wanted to add a few notes to Mrs. Celena J.'s Article:

Spearmint and Peppermint are excellent for nausea and gas.

Goldenseal is a natural source of insulin and should be used cautiously with hypoglcemics and insulin dependant diabetics. Its also one of the strongest natural antibiotics known to man, and the root is stronger than the plant.

Garlic is also a very strong and versatile antibiotic when used fresh. It kills both bacterial and fungal infections and can be used internally and externally as needed. This was my herb of choice for curing ear infections as my children were growing up.

Dandelion is a natural liver cleanser and can be used to treat hepatitis.

Parsley is a natural diuretic that will not deplete you of potassium. It also has three times more Vitamin C than citrus and makes an excellent all-around Vitamin supplement.

Kelp is a natural source of iodine and I've used it in tea form over the years to cure strep throat. It is also high in iron and calcium which can be critical for women with heavy menstruation or anyone with heavy blood loss. It cant be grown in regular gardens though.

Cayenne Pepper will stop internal and external bleeding. It can also be used to treat shock and reactions to insect stings.

Comfrey stimulates cell growth and regeneration. Can be used externally for cuts and abrasions, torn ligaments, strains and sprains, or broken bones after they've been set. Healing is dramatically accelerated, usually without scarring.

Note that like pharmaceutical medicines, herbal medicines may not work the exact same for different people, and it is possible to have allergic reactions to herbs.

Keep up the great work. - SasE in Az

I enjoyed the article by Mrs. Celena J. today, however in visiting the web site I learned that they now actually only include six packets of seeds in their free offer, with SASE. For a five dollar donation, they will double that to twelve packets, however, and now also require a printout of the page and delivery after postdate of not more than seven days of the SASE. A small correction, and one that is probably quite recent. Still a great offer, and looks to be a wonderful resource for a host of the medicinals Celena mentioned, and more. Thanks again Mr. Rawles and staff, great blog!

KAF sent this: Injuries, arrests after massive 70-person Metro brawl. KAF's comment: And this was just a mishap of disorder. Imagine what will occur when TSHTF!

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Reader R.F.J. liked this: Build yourself a portable home - a Mongolian yurt. R.F.J.'s comment: Clearly useful in a TEOTWAWKI situation although some of the pictures appear "fudged" (i.e., different build merged together). Would seem a useful review to "size" the job and prevent "buildus interuptus".

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Camping Survival (one of our loyal advertisers) is presently offering a free bottle of potassium iodate and 5% off, for any order over $100.

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Readers "AmEx" and A.A.H. both flagged this: U.S. electricity blackouts skyrocketing.

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NASA to Visit Asteroid Predicted to Hit Earth?

"We don't talk Yakkity Yak. We talk lead." - The fictional character Earl Swagger in the novel Hot Springs by Stephen Hunter

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Have you addressed the issue of water in your long term family preparedness plan, where will you get clean water when everything collapses? Have you considered installing a pitcher pump well at your home or retreat? The supplies and instructions are readily available and fairly inexpensive. It is a great project for your survival group or family. It requires no power to use and costs nothing to operate.
 If you are a regular reader of SurvivalBlog and have a preparedness mind set then I’m sure your guns are well oiled, you have trained to use them effectively and you have plenty of ammo on hand. You and yours have a plan for when WTSHTF. Food supplies are well stocked and you probably have a vast array of hand tools and spare parts for things that may break. The bookshelves are full of military manuals and Jim Rawles's books. And it’s a safe bet you have a fancy water purification system or two but what about the water? We all know it is the most essential and vital of all necessities for surviving but it continues to be the weak link in most of our plans. It was for me I thought if worst came to worst I could just walk to the small creek about a quarter mile from my home to get water.
Then three things happened, one day my daughter and I walked down to the creek to fish and there was a crowd of about five men already there taking advantage of the good fishing and well into their beer. Though they were crude and crass and loud there was no problem and they soon left. That got me thinking that my little secret water hole wasn’t such a secret and could pose many problems and potentially lethal confrontations if everyone in the area was competing for the same vital resource.

Then I read the novel “Patriots” and decided to really shore up my preparedness régime. One night shortly afterward while working on some reloading projects I began to look for a long forgotten reference book and there on one of my selves wrapped in an oiled cloth was the answer; an old fashioned pitcher pump! It was used on my grandfather’s farm and my great grandfathers before him. It was slightly rusty but in sound condition. The only concern was the leathers which were dried and shrunken but not cracked. After a day long soak in some vegetable oil and they were like new!

Next was a trip to the plumbing supply store where I picked up 25 feet of half inch galvanized pipe in five foot sections, a three foot well point, and some heavy duty drive couplings to hold them together. Standard pipe couplings are not strong enough and will spilt when you drive the pipe into the ground so make sure you buy drive couplings no matter what the guy behind the counter says. I also bought some pipe dope to seal the threads and a drive cap so that that threads of the top pipe would not get damaged and prevent the next section of pipe or the pump from being threaded on. I also bought a new set of leathers from Tractor Supply Store incase the old ones did not draw water or ever needed to be replaced. I got all the equipment needed for under $200!

With the equipment bought and the water located the hard labor came next.  The well point and the first section of half inch pipe were threaded together with a drive coupling and a heavy dose of pipe dope on the threads. An important point here to ensure a good seal is to make sure the pipe ends meet in the coupling, end to end as the saying goes. To achieve this you will need two large pipe wrenches and two 3-4 foot breaker bars because there is no way you can turn the pipe end to end with just the power of your arms. A strong partner helps though you could do it your self, team work is always a better idea.  When the pipes have met inside the coupling they will turn no farther, until then just keep turning those wrenches!

Now very tightly thread on the drive cap to the top of the pipe you are about to pound into the ground and check it often, if it comes lose during the driving with a 40 pound pipe driver the threads will become damaged and you will have to pull your well pipe out and begin again with new pipe. If there is anything harder than hand driving a well down to 22 feet it is pulling it back out.  So check the drive cap every dozen or so hits with the pipe driver, which is about how often you’ll want to take a break from pounding anyhow. Keep adding sections of pipe until you reach water, but remember a hand pump well will only draw water to about 30 feet any deeper and you’ll need an electric pump which is contrary to the whole point of this project. 

When you think you have hit water there are several ways to check, lower a washer tied to a piece of string down the pipe and see if it comes up wet, or the simplest method while we still have running water is to fill the pipe up with a hose. When you have hit water the pipe will stay filled. If you are going to use the string and washer method make sure you use a small washer. I was told to use a washer and the directions that came with the well point said to use a small washer, I used a socket. It went down the pipe fine but coming back up it turned side ways and got stuck, I mean really stuck. It would not budge and I had to pull all 18 feet of pipe out of the ground with a tractor and this took about as long as the entire project. Once the pipe was pulled and unscrewed from the coupling in itself a herculean task and the socket removed I thought that driving the well down would be much easier the second time, it was not! Please learn from my mistake one short cut almost ruined this vital project.

One more important thing to consider is whether to install a check valve on your well or use the more traditional priming method. A check valve will close itself when you are done pumping water. It holds enough water to prime the pump on your next use. The draw back to this is that if you live in an area that is prone to cold weather the water in your pump will freeze unless you remove the check valve before the first frost. This may sound easy enough but in a total grid down situation there will be no nightly weather report and one heavy frost can render your well useless. This will split joints, crack the pump or even in a deep freeze split your well pipe. If you are relying on the pump for survival in really tough times this could spell doom for you and yours especially with no way to buy new materials.

The priming method is simple though it does add an extra step. It takes about a half gallon of water poured down the top of the pump into the well pipe to create a draw and pull the water up from the ground. I always keep several gallon jugs full of water in the garage for priming, always refilling them before I finish pumping water. When you are done pumping the water goes back down the pipe below the frost line and totally eliminates the chance of your well freezing. Keeping things as simple as possible helps to ensure that they work when you need them so I opted not to use a check valve, one less thing to keep track of in what will already be a trying and stressful time.          

It took one full day and a few hours of the next to get the well 22 feet into the ground and pumping even with having to pull it out when it was 18 feet deep. Now I have water on the property that can be had any time regardless of the power situation. There are even three spots from inside the house where whoever goes to get water can be covered by rifle fire if things get really bad.

Before I installed the pump on the well pipe I sanded it down and thoroughly cleaned it and put a John Deere green enamel finish on it. The pump that supplied water to drink and for gardens at my grandfather’s house is now happily doing so at mine!  Now I have a water source that will stay clean and cold, at 22 feet deep it will not become easily contaminated with chemicals, trash or decaying flesh. To keep it’s location a secret when the grid goes down I am building a decorative wind mill box that covers the whole thing and has doors front and back to access the pump handle and the water.                                 

Even thought the power is still up and running and water is only a faucet away I have been using the well to water the garden. I dug irrigation trenches along every row of vegetables and drilled a small hole in several empty clean five gallon buckets. I fill the buckets and the water slowly runs out and fills the ditches. I’ve found it much more efficient than using a sprinkler. And as an added bonus carrying around five gallon buckets full of water every night after work has been good exercise.

The recent solar storm prediction was not a wake-up call for me, but it was certainly an "oh-no" moment. I am not completely prepared, and I already know it.

We are moving to our retreat this weekend. Would we be able to rent a truck if the power went off? Or would I be able to find enough gasoline for multiple trips with my pickup truck? I had also put off some large purchases until after the move. We currently have three months of food on hand. That will increase to one year's worth after the move. Solar and/or wind electric generation is on the list. More ammo. More water storage. You name it, it's on hold until after the move.

The emergency cash had been put in the bank while we bought our place, to make the balance larger for acquiring a loan. I made a quick dash to the bank and made a hefty withdrawal. Let this be a lesson for all not to delay your preparations, even for seemingly good reasons.

Thanks again for your great web site, - Stew M.

Mr. Rawles:
Regarding Fitzy's letter "Practice Night Hiking to Get Ready to Bug Out to Your Retreat", he mentioned that he was worried about his dog's being cut by broken glass on roads and trails. Here is a product that folks might want to keep in hand if they travel with a dog: Musher's Secret. - Paulette

Regarding the letter "Practice Night Hiking to Get Ready to Bug Out to Your Retreat"I would not recommend the use of Vaseline to prevent chafing. However, if you look online or drop in at a bike shop there are products specifically made for this purpose.

One is BodyGlide anti-chafe balm, and another is Chamois Butter.

There are others but you get the idea. Could come in handy. Some people use these to prevent or treat foot blisters as well. - Kathryn D.

I've recently been asked by several blog readers and consulting clients about my predictions for the economy for the next few years. Here they are, in a nutshell: The US economy will remain weak for for at least five years. Both the commercial and residential real estate markets are unlikely to recover before 2018, especially as interest rates begin to increase. Noticeable inflation should begin around the Spring of 2011 and will become uncomfortably high by 2012. If the announced Federal income tax and capital gains tax increases do indeed go into effect, they will stifle the economy for the foreseeable future. Continued financial instability in the periphery of the EU will continue to keep the Euro weak versus the Dollar, but in the end, both currencies are doomed. Global credit market chaos will probably continue for several more years, as will the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) here in the United States. I'd say that there is a 25% chance of a Dollar Panic and devaluation in the next four years, and a 5% chance of a hyperinflationary Dollar Collapse. But regardless, some inflation is coming. Its severity is difficult to predict. The bull market in precious metals is nowhere near its end. I still predict that spot price of silver will eventually exceed $50 per ounce.

Reader Susan Z. was the first of several readers to mention this: Fed set to downgrade outlook for US.

From The Daily Bell: Desperate to Get US Economy Moving.

Reader American Expatriate (AmEx) sent this: Fighting a Double Dip: What Weapons Does the Fed Have Left?

H.J. wrote to say that he saw this sign at a North Idaho restaurant near the Washington state line: "Show Us Your Wolf Tag, and Your Kids Eat Here Free."

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D.V.B. in Alabama sent this grim tale: Elderly Couple Dies While Trapped in Home Elevator. D.V.B.'s comments:"What if someone is in an elevator during a power failure or EMP event? Here is a small-scale example of what might happen if you can't call for help. "

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Several readers sent this for the Doddering, Decrepit, Disjointed and Didactical Dictators Department: Fidel Castro: Obama can avert impending nuclear holocaust.

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R.F.J. sent an article that echoes one that we posted last year: Unusual Abodes: The Grain Bin Home

"Inflation hasn't ruined everything. A dime can still be used as a screwdriver. " - Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

Earlier this year, I received a free packet of Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) from (by the way, if you're into gardening check them out; they'll send you 10 packets of free seeds for the cost of a SASE).  When I saw the seed packet, I remembered that Echinacea is used to reduce the duration of colds and flu.  I began seriously considering and researching medicinal plant gardening.  Having such a garden would be so useful in surviving numerous catastrophes, not to mention the possible money saver it could be during a recession that's going to last who-knows-how-long!  Of course, not everything can be easily cured with plants but I do believe one reason God gave us so many varieties was to help us overcome illnesses and other afflictions.  

Below, I've compiled a table of some of the medicinal plants that seem the most useful and will grow in the United States.  Since most of these are herbs, unless otherwise mentioned, the plant is an herb.  Most of these plants have been used for thousands of years by civilizations all over the world.  Some of them are even mentioned in the Bible.  Many of them are very beautiful and will make a lovely ornamental garden even if you decide never to to use them medicinally.  At the bottom of this article, I've written short descriptions on how to actually use the herbs.  I was clueless when I first began researching and hope that what I've discovered can be useful to many of you. May God bless your gardening endeavors, whether medicinal or otherwise!

Common Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Aloe Vera - Treats dermatitis, dry skin, and burns.  This is a succulent plant which grows well in Arizona and other southwestern states. 

Arnica - Do not eat this!  It's poisonous but can be used as a cream to treat sprains, bruises, and pulled muscles.  A very beautiful flowering plant that resembles a yellow daisy.

Basil  - Treats diabetes, stress, and asthma.  It is an anti-oxidant and helps your body absorb manganese (which strengthens your bones).

Bay Laurel - Treats migraines, infections, ulcers, and high blood sugar.  Can be rubbed onto sprains and bruises to treat them.  Also keeps garden pests (bugs) away. 

Catnip - Soothes coughs.

Chamomile - Treats stress. A sleep aid.

Chrysanthemum/Feverfew - Treats migraines, fevers, and chills.  Beautiful flowering plant.

Coriander - An anti-oxidant, used as acne skin toner.  A very beautiful plant.

Dandelion - Aids digestion.  Can be ground into coffee.  Has numerous vitamins and minerals: A, C, K, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Potassium.

Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) - Treats cold and flu; boosts immune system.  This is a beautiful plant.

Garlic - Antibiotic.  Increases heart health.  Garlic is a bulb and is very easy to grow.  It repels rabbits and moles.

Goldenseal - Treats eyes, boosts immune system.  This is a beautiful flowering plant that resembles a buttercup.

Horehound - Expectorant, treats colds.  This is a mint and can also be used to make candy.

Meadowsweet - Shrub used to treat fevers, inflammation, pain, ulcers, etc.  The name "aspirin" comes from this plants scientific name (Spiraea ulmaria).

Oregano - Used as a topical antiseptic and a sedative.  Treats colds, flu, mild fevers, infections, stomachaches, indigestion, and other aches and pains. It also treats MRSA (different studies have actually shown that Oregano treats MRSA better than most drugs prescribed for the infection).  A very beautiful plant. 

Parsley - Treats high blood pressure. 

Passion-flower - Treats insomnia and epilepsy.  There are numerous varieties of Passion-flower and some are poisonous so if you're going to plant them, research them thoroughly! 

Rosemary - Decreases risk of stroke, Alzheimer's, and Lou Gehrig's disease. 

Smearwort - Used as an ointment (hence the name) to heal chronic sores.

Spearmint - Anti-oxidant.  Treats fungal infections.  Can be used to make candy.

Thyme - Treats sore throat (by gargling).  Treats wounds, skin and mouth infections.  Used as mouthwash (main ingredient in Listerine). 

Yarrow - Counteracts poisoning. 

How to Prepare Herbal Remedies

Tea Infusion: To begin, throw in a cupped handful of the herb/leaves.   Pour 2 cups of boiling water on top.  Brew leaves and flowers for about 10 minutes; seeds and roots for about 20. Typically, you don't  need to strain herbal teas because the leaves go to the bottom.  You can also often reuse the leftovers (don't throw them away!)  

Boiling:  Begin with cold water instead of already-boiling water.  Again, a cupped handful of plant to 2 cups of water.  This works especially well for roots, which need to be steeped for 20 minutes.  You can also use an overnight method by keeping the herb in cold water all night and then boiling in the morning for about 30 minutes. 

Cough Syrup: Make a concentrated tea infusion with 12 ounces of plant to 1 cup of water.  Infuse for 15 minutes.  Strain it and then add the liquid back to the pot.  Add 1 cup of honey and warm it just until it stirs well. 

Salve or Ointment
: For this, you also need olive oil and beeswax.  First, put a handful of fresh or dried plant into a pot and cover it with water.  After it begins to boil, bring it down to a simmer for about half an hour.  Strain it and put the liquid back in the pot, adding it to an equal amount of olive oil.  Boil until the water is gone.  Add beeswax until it's the right consistency.

Steam: This works especially well with mints when you're congested.  Throw a handful of fresh mint into a bowl of hot water.  Make a tent over your head with a towel and breathe the steam for few minutes.

Compress:  When using plants to treat muscle pain or injuries, first make a concentrated infusion, dip a towel in, ring it out, and apply it to the painful area.

JWR Adds: I recommend the following books on herbal medicine:

The following describes my recent "dry run" at bugging out on foot.

I’ve been thinking that someday soon I will be in need of backpacking over to my group’s retreat. So I created a plan to make a dry run. I grabbed my basic day pack (a Camelbak hydration pack with the minimum goodies in it.) My load included, three liters of water, simple folding knife, space blanket, fire starter, single pen of bug stuff, a few Cliff bars, and speed loaders for my Ruger .357 Magnum. I also had spare batteries for my head lamp, and a bottle of polar pure water treatment –that I’ve just purchased. I also had my cell phone and a 120 pound Labrador Retriever keeping me company for this trip. I did this at night for two reasons, one because it’s been hot here in the day –northeastern United States in summer, and two because I’ve been switched to night shift at work and needed to get used to being awake later.

I decided that this was a test to see that I make the night hike, to a trail head six miles away, then from there I would work out getting on the main road and hike the road back down to my town six miles away.

I left at 9 p.m. at night. I gave my friends my itinerary for my trip. I leashed up the dog and away I went. I didn’t print or bring a map with me because I had done a 10 mile hike on these trails in the light of day last fall and had a pretty good idea as to about where I was going. (that being said everything does look different at night!)

The first thing I noticed is it was a full moon, I didn’t really need my head lamp on unless I was in dark tree cover. Aside from the head lamp I carried a small $3 laser/light from Wal-Mart. So if I really needed to see rocks I just pressed a button for a few seconds.

I made no attempt to be covert or do anything tactical. I was just thinking of speed, and safety. Moving at a good pace was easy on the old railroad to trail conversion. The dog didn’t mind at all as I stopped and gave him a water stream from my hydra pack at intervals when he seemed to be panting more than normal. It started out as a hot July evening, so both of us were warm at the start.

I made the first six miles of trail with few issues, Most of the hard part going on this trail was rough going in to dark tree cover hidden from the moon light. I used my head lamp when I needed to do things like water the dog but for the most part I kept the head lamp off conserving batteries. I heard a few coyotes on this part of the woodsy trail. The only animal I was worried about was skunks. I could handle most things but getting sprayed was not one of them. This is the main reason I would at intervals light up my area looking for eyes and trashing my own night vision. At times I couldn’t see the trail it was under shadows from the trees. In the heavy areas of wash out and larger rocks I used my head lamp, figuring I’d rather see the rocks then break an ankle. It was safer than moving like a guerrilla and having the scars to later prove it.

The trail crossed a back road and continued on, I decided to try and move to my left and locate my main road south –I had been traveling north and kept on the trail (and confirmed north movement with my compass on my watch when I thought things like forks in the trail might take me the wrong direction).

My first mistake was turning left to link up to a highway that I was unsure about. I walked about a mile down a development road, and then hit about four cul-de-sacs before hearing a car in the distance and going past the trail and back to the right, then on to the main road. I saw a road sign that said six miles south to home. The turkey hill was still open, and I was starving, but I decided eat what I was carrying. I slowly ate down a cliff bar. Hiking just six miles was enough to make me really hungry.

Now it was after midnight and the area was more urban so the dog and I walked the sidewalks on our southbound trip towards home.

I had worn a button up shirt over my tee shirt and since we both started out hot I was surprised at how much the night wind cooled things down. I rolled down my sleeves and buttoned up I was sweating at first and this cold with caused me to chill a little.

It was about this point in time I started really to pay attention to the cars, and noises around me. If for no other reason that I was in a more urban area, carrying a small pack, my Ruger GP100 in a Kydex holster on my side. The shirt tail hid the Ruger from view, and the dog walking on my left kept my right hand free just in case. At 12:30 at night in this sleepy town on a Tuesday night. I didn’t see anyone out – and I was ok with that. Here is also where I started noticing that age old question boxers or briefs? And having chosen badly my legs were starting to chafe badly. On another positive note the way back was almost all downhill so both the dog and I walked along the highway without much trouble. I did use the little laser/led light as a flasher each time I heard a car. I didn’t want to be run down by any of the drunks out there being as we were walking along the guard rail on the road side.

At about the two miles from home mark, I stopped at a closed gas station/Laundromat and sat for a while on a bench. I rubbed my legs, and the dogs- gave him more water at this point and he wanted very much to lay down and sleep on the ground. I think at this point he probably hated my guts for making this trip! I ate my last cliff bar and shared it with the pooch. I was raw, my legs hurt a little bit, low on water but not out.

I pressed on – it was now about 2:00 a.m. and the local bars in town had closed, so I was extra alert when a van riding on the double yellow lines almost wiped out a phone pole. It was a close call for DUI in progress but the dog and I were defensive and keeping out of the way of all cars and trucks we were safely away from this crazy drunk person.

Back home and time to feed the dog and take a shower- about five hours of walking to do almost 13 miles, due to being turned around in the suburbs up north…

Items that I would have loved to have and will likely take next time:

1. Hiking poles- some places on the trail were rocky and in the dark had I lost footing and got hurt I’d have been in trouble, poles would have helped on the rough patches.

2. Baby wipes – I didn’t bring enough toilet paper. That is a big fail in my book.

3. I’d have got more, high calorie food bars, some trail mix or other high cal food- it’s amazing how hungry you get moving fast and are even a little chilled from the cold night air.

4. Foot powder/extra socks. I didn’t stop and wait for swelling, but I also didn’t have blisters at all either.

5. Vaseline - my legs rubbing my inner thighs really hurt at about 10 miles. I used bag balm on the brush burn part when I got home, and it was only sore a day- this is something that should be mentioned to everyone who thinks they are in good shape as I’d been doing 4+ miles a day for a long time and never had issues like this –this was a complete surprise and the level of pain at the end made hiking almost unbearable .

6. Fleece jacket or wind breaker. Okay, it’s summer time, but what if the cold night air dropped below 50? I did get sweaty. I got soaked and then in the cold night air froze. Hypothermia is a killer even if it’s in the 70-80s out – a little rain and then cold could have been really bad.

7. Wool watch cap - I could have used one.

Things that really worked for me- and that I would bring again for the next adventure trip/ self readiness test.

Good cross training shoes/boots- broken in. I should have changed socks, but even skipping it- my wool socks in cross trainers didn’t cause me to blister up. No matter how hard it is to find good wool socks – it is better than cotton and worth every penny.

The carry more than one light and a few spare batteries - cheap piece of mind carrying a $3 junk LED light on a snap link on the belt loop.

Head lamp-

The items in my pack that I didn’t use like a knife, fire starter- would have been used if I stopped, but also had limited room and no canteen cup or similar items to cook in. – but again this was a pack out test basically to see if I could physically cover the distance of going from my place to a retreat (nine miles away)- and I did over that compensating for not carrying a heavy backpack with more gear, a [more capable] weapon and I did it alone (if you don’t count the dog.). I made no plans on camping, looking for wild plants in the dark, or really cooking on the trail. I figure if I’m bugging out in real life it’s probably not going to be too safe to stop and eat or relax on the trail.

Something else to think about is my buddy Arf. I kept him leashed the whole trip. or his safety, he’s had run ins with skunks and porcupines. I wish I had carried more food for him, and I was constantly keeping an eye out on the main road and in the urban areas for glass on the sidewalks. You’d be amazed at how much glass is around in the urban areas from broken beer bottles. It is everywhere and the last thing I wanted to do was carry the dog the rest of the way home. I couldn’t imagine fleeing after a major disaster without getting him some type of dog booties or paw protection. I really wonder how the MPs, SERE, and K9 units deal with a dog's paw issues after a disaster. I wouldn’t consider him lucky as I am very alert about what my friend is walking on and keeping him leashed helped me control his stepping on very unhealthy pieces of broken bottles.

Anyhow it was a good learning experience, one that if you have never hiked any long distance and you need to consider foot travel to get to your retreat. You’d better get out and attempt it before you need to do it in real life because until you do it you will be left with the question of can you do it?

Can you make the trip if it is 8, 10. or 25 miles?

(Any 11B will be able to answer this question but that’s not why I’m saying to do it here.) I am saying to do it here to prove to yourself that you can and will accomplish your goal before you are forced t o try in real life when the stakes are higher than giving up and going home. - Fitzy in NEPA

G.G. sent this: Economy Heading for a Systemic Collapse into Hyperinflationary Great Depression.

Jonas mentioned a fascinating news segment filmed by a Dutch journalist, in Indonesia: Gold Dinar, Silver Dirham.

AmEx sent this: Food Prices up as Consumers Feel Economic Pinch

Another from G.G.: Chicago Bank Fails, 2010 Tally Hits 109

Job Figures Just Part of a Grim Economic Picture. (Thanks to AmEx for the link.)

B.B. forwarded a link to a New York Times article: Jobless and Staying That Way

RBS flagged this: One-fourth of Idaho work force's paychecks cut

Dept. of Homeland Security points out the fragility of the infrastructure. (Thanks to S. S. for the link.)

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Dave X. sent us this: Senate dumps strategy to prevent EMP damage

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A Volkswagen powered by human waste. (A hat tip to KAF for the link.)

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Reader Michael H. mentioned that audio from the talks from "The Next Hope" hacker conference held last month are now available for free download. Michael's comments: "While anyone is sure to find many things of interest in what hackers talk about, of particular interest to SurvivalBlog readers will likely be "Hackers without Borders: Disaster Relief and Technology," "Injecting Electromagnetic Pulses into Digital Devices," "Lock Bypass without Lockpicks," "Privacy is Dead -- Get Over It," "Risk Analysis for Dummies," "Tor and Internet Censorship," and the always entertaining (and frightening) "Social Engineering"."

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F.J. sent us this over at The Humble Libertarian blog: One million pounds of California ground beef recalled after E. Coli outbreak

"The lioness is often more formidable than the lion. No instinct is stronger than that of mother protecting child. There is nothing unfeminine about strength and empowerment." - Massad Ayoob

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

We do not know what the future brings, though in the survival community there is no shortage of speculative events that may occur. This article is a brief primer on psychological techniques that can be used in a TEOTWAWKI scenario to help prepare for and stave off psychological fatigue until a time at which you can properly cope with the situation at hand. Also, it provides some coping techniques to help get you back on track after all has settled.

Why are we so driven to preparation? The answer is death. It is inevitable, and we must all face it when it is time. Freud, whether you like him or not, posited that there is a death drive (later dubbed “Thanatos” by his follower, Stekel) which is innate in all humans. This drive, whether figurative or literal, can be used to explain our compulsion to survive and the reasons behind post-traumatic stress disorders and the recurrence of traumatic imagery. The idea is that we all have a drive inside of us that compels us toward our own end and that this drive acts contrary to our usual motivation, which is to seek pleasure. Being a more basic drive, it overrides the drive to seek pleasure and instead focuses us on our demise. In terms of Evolutionary Psychology, it is more important to survive and continue to propagate than it is to experience pleasure. In more general terms, this conflict between our expectation of death and desire to live (seek pleasure) creates anxiety in us.

This anxiety produces stress, which we tend away from and want to relieve. In order to do so, we begin to prepare to negate the fear of death. Preparation of the mind, body and local resources give us a feeling of security and reduces our anxiety.

Can I prepare too much?
In some, this becomes compulsive--almost to the point of [clinical] hoarding. “I can use this when TSHTF,” would be a common phrase that many survivalists and “preppers” have used when picking up secondhand items. Even if it is for a very unlikely survival situation, “You never know….”

Preparation for future unknowns in and of itself is not a bad idea. In fact, it is recommended by our own government to a certain extent. (Imagine them actually giving good advice!) However, it should be cautioned that when survivalism rises to a clinical state of obsession and compulsion, one should be cautioned that what may be occurring is a psychological reaction to fear instead of logical and rational preparation for future events.

So how do you know if you are a survivalist or engaging in unhealthy behaviors? A good rule of thumb is to honestly evaluate if it is causing distress or interruption of your everyday routine and relationships. For example, if you cannot make rent payments or buy groceries because you are stocking up on survival supplies, then you may need to seek professional help. Likewise, if you have sacrificed personal relationships with friends or loved ones to prepare for TEOTWAWKI, it may be time to speak with a professional. Any counselor worth their salt will be able to assist in setting healthy boundaries when preparing. Further, if you are constantly questioning whether or not you are going too far, then it is okay to speak with a therapist. It is better to alleviate your fears than to stress whether or not you are psychologically well adjusted.

This is all said with the acknowledgement that survivalists are usually independent and want to be self-sufficient, both psychologically and physically. If you know of someone that meets the aforementioned criteria, talk to them about it. Getting past the stigma of counseling is the hardest part of it all.

The most important point
If there were to be one point in particular that was the most important and the most helpful in securing psychological security, it would be this: Get yourself right in whichever religious tradition you subscribe to. In the end, the ultimate goal of survival is just that- to survive and not to die. However, as I mentioned above, we all must die, and we all must ultimately face death alone. Whether it comes in a disaster or in our sleep when we are old and ready, it comes. Much of the fear associated with the unknown future comes from the fear of passing away, so much of the stress can be relieved by learning how to not fear death. Whether in Christianity by acknowledging that one goes to see Christ or in Atheism by acknowledging that one lived a full life and did what they could to further the wealth of the human condition, that is the ultimate defense against psychological stress during TEOTWAWKI; To know that ultimately one has done all they could for their fellow man and [to please] God.

Preparation (pre-crisis) - Plan ahead
Psychological imagery is one of the best ways to prepare for an event. However, it can be also just as traumatic as the event itself in some instances. Keep this in mind as you play through scenarios in your mind. For instance, it is one matter to acknowledge that loved ones may pass away during a worst-case scenario. Do not dwell on this fact, however. Acknowledge it as a possibility and if necessary, focus on what you must to prevent it or to cope with it after the fact. Learn from your loved ones and make sure that you are spending quality time with them now. That will help to assuage the pain if the worst does happen, later on. This applies not only to survivalism, but in day-to-day life as well. Spend what time you have available now, wisely.

Run through your action plans and have them down pat. Just as a peace officer or martial artist uses muscle memory in a fight or crisis situation, so too will you use your plan of preparation when crisis strikes. Know what your action items are and have them prioritized. Make a list if you are unsure you can remember everything. This can assist in keeping yourself calm and collected when everything else is falling apart around you. Just as it is important for you to assign one person to one job after a major accident (for example, you need to go call 911. Another person needs to perform chest compressions, et cetera). You need one task: follow your list of action items one by one.

Also, make sure that you are steeling yourself for major fatigue and emotional turmoil. This can be accomplished by setting milestones for success. For example, one could set goals to gather the family, round up supplies, get out of town, make it to the safe area, unpack all necessary supplies, set up a security perimeter, and hold a family meeting. After each is accomplished, check it off your mental (or physical) list. This gives a sense of progress and accomplishment so as to provide a sense of direction and progress. Otherwise, one may feel that nothing is getting done and a sensation of becoming overwhelmed may set in.

As for the emotional fatigue, plan to have a few games packed with your survival gear along with some personal effects. This will tie you into a sense of normalcy and provide respite from an otherwise terrible situation. By occupying your mind with something other than the situation at hand, you give your mind time to rejuvenate and process information. By the time crisis occurs, you shouldn’t have to think of “what do I do now?” This is why planning is so important. When disaster strikes, follow your plan and achieve your pre-determined goals. Have contingency plans already thought out. This will help from overloading you with excessive planning after you have entered a crisis situation.

Lastly, surplus your preparations by 10% or more (excluding the surplus you intend for personal use). The 10% surplus is for charity, which will be discussed next.

During the crisis - Bottle your emotions up if necessary. Survive.
Crisis, depending on how severe, may push you past your breaking point. I often wonder if I could pass by a child standing on the side of the road alone and crying during a crisis situation. Would I take them with me? Leave them with some supplies? Look the other way? This type of situation is more than plausible, and one which I have found difficulty in preparing for. This enters more into the realm of speculation in American psychology, as studies are lacking on the best course of action. Minimizing incongruent feelings during a crisis is key (i.e., I want to live, but I want to help others too.), though it would be unwise to expend all of your resources. This is where your 10% surplus will play a major role. Charitably give out supplies to those in dire need as you see fit, though judicious disbursements will be a necessity. Know what your criteria will be, such as giving to those who appear unable to provide for themselves or within savable limits (not critically wounded). Though it is likely there will be much pain and death in a major disaster, providing for others and potentially saving lives will give you a sense of accomplishment and a morale boost that you have managed to do some good in spite of bad circumstances.

As a word of caution, there may be need to distribute your charity anonymously. As we see in many disaster stricken countries, any time aid is distributed, word spreads quickly and crowds become angry when they feel as though they have been shorted. Giving charitably may be done best in the dark of night, through a local church, or by proxy.

If violence erupts and self defense is necessary, make sure that you only engage in legitimate self defense. Consider whether you will engage in self defense by proxy (protecting others that cannot protect themselves). One man cannot defeat an army, so you must show some discernment when choosing your battles. We see this all the time in Third World countries where [untrained or lightly-trained] militias rule. If it comes down to it, the natural instinct is to protect you and yours. I am a firm believer that we have these instincts for a reason, and that we should follow them when we have no other frame of reference or guidance to work from. You must set your mind to an idea and stick to it under great stress. Unless you have military combat experience, taking a life may be the hardest thing you do. Under this stress some men have broken down in the most vicious battles (specifically in the two World Wars). Advancements have been made in combat preparations by shooting at silhouette targets and now through virtual reality games, which may be something to consider if you have firearms in your preparations. Remember what you are fighting to protect and let that be your guiding force.

In all circumstances, if it comes down to your survival or someone else’s (assuming you are feeling altruistic at that point in time), you can focus on one goal. (For example, to make it to a certain waypoint, survive to the next day, etc…) and push everything else from your mind. Ignoring the rest of your environment will allow you to escape indecision long enough to get you secure, at which time you can deal with the emotional fallout.

Also, consider these suggestions for the duration of the crisis event (especially when protracted):

Create chore lists on rotating schedules so that people do not become burnt out doing the same thing over and over again.

Play games. Have fun. It is important to have social interaction during this time. Play games like “I Spy” or make up riddles. Keep the mind occupied so that it does not wander into depression or anxiety.

Sleep. This is a very important component. If running a security detail during a time of crisis, make sure that the person appointed to security gets relieved and has a few days off to relax.

Make social connections. If possible, make social connections with like-minded individuals and groups (which you may have done in the preparation stage). Social support systems are necessary in disaster situations. However, stay guarded against situations that may jeopardize your security.

Engage in spiritual activities. Pray. Make peace with yourself and God.

Post Crisis- Let it out.
In this stage, professional help may not be available. You may have suffered great trauma or still be undergoing insufferable hardship yet need to cope with your emotional turmoil. Unfortunately there is no magic fix to dealing with guilt and grief. We have emotions for a reason and need to allow ourselves time to go through the grieving process after tragedy. Allow for yourself to feel the emotions and to be sad. However, counter irrational beliefs as soon as they pop into your mind. We all would do things differently had we known then what we know now, but that is the nature of our human existence. We do the best we can with what we know at the time. No one can ask for more than that.
Do not allow yourself to play the [past tense] “what-if” game.

It would be silly to believe that you will ever fully recover from a terrible tragedy, so do not expect too much progress too soon. Do not rush the process.

Do not dwell on what you could have done, but focus on your successes and the fact that you have made it as far as you have. Stay upbeat about the future and the difference you will be able to make.

Do the best you can to relive the traumatic images over and over. Allow yourself to visualize them as a life-sized picture in your mind, but then shrink them down until the images are very small. Then visualize them being filed away in your mind. This is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique for reducing the emotional magnitude of the memory.

Create a tribute to those who you’ve lost so that you can remember them and celebrate their lives. Take solace in your faith that they are in a better place. Do not allow the question of why they are gone, but instead ask how they lived. Use their memory to create in you a better self.

If suicidal thoughts enter your mind, remind yourself how you have survived thus far and the irony that you would take your own life after preparing to live for so long.

Talk to friends and family about your emotions. Let yourself express how you feel. By not doing so, you risk making yourself emotionally unstable. If you experience anger, sadness, violent outbursts, sleeplessness, nightmares or other similar symptoms, make sure that you keep talking to others and keep confronting irrational beliefs and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

It will never be the same as it was before, but you can grow from any tragedy. Keep the faith and finish the race.

The preceding article is based on several psychological studies and adapted to specific [societal collapse] scenarios relating to the absence of all professional mental health assistance. It draws from multiple psychological theories and practices with several techniques mentioned. This text is not meant in any way to substitute for, replace, or amend proper psychological evaluation or treatment. All individuals who believe they may need psychological treatment are strongly encouraged to seek assistance from appropriately licensed mental health professionals. This advice is not provided for any reason other than informational and entertainment purposes and is not intended for personal implementation except in the absolute absence of any other form of mental health assistance.

TSK's article on fire was well written; however, I would like to add a few items and clarify a few things for the novice fire starter. I teach fire starting as part of a larger course, and one of the things that I think needs to be stressed is the difference between flame and fire. When you strike a match, or use any of the other starting methods listed, all you have is a flame. In order to turn a flame into a fire you need to first build a proper fire bed, typically using any of the methods discussed in the article. Some additional tinder (fine dry grass or wood shavings), kindling (sticks from the size of your little finger to the size of your thumb), and finally fuel (about the size of your wrist or larger. The idea is that the flame starts the additional tinder, which lights the kindling, which can generate enough heat to light the larger fuel. I have too often seen a student get so excited about starting a fire without using a match, that all of the concentration was placed there, only to get a flame going with no real place to put it to use. Additionally, you should have some extra fuel collected, before starting anything.

There are a few additional starting methods and devices I have used.

* Hand Drill
o Pro: Made with materials from nature. Anything that gets broken or damaged can easily be replaced or repaired.
o Con: Not an easy way to start a fire even for someone who is practiced, a lot of practice is required in mastering and becoming proficient with this method, which is a cross between the bow & drill and the fire plow.

* Fire Piston
o Pro: Must be produced ahead of time. Can be home built rather easily. Works well with just a little practice.
o Con: Contains moving parts which can break. Requires a supply of char cloth.

* Road Flare
o Pro: Will start nearly any fire even with wet wood. Typically used for real emergency situation only.
o Con: Must be replaced after each use. Most contain sulfur and the fire needs to burn for a while before using it for direct cooking.

Gerber Strike Force which is another version of flint and steel and has the same pros and cons listed in the original article.

The Strike Force (with a dry container of cotton dryer lint) is my favorite fire starter with both a Swedish Fire Steel and a Magnesium block for backup. I've been doing flint and steel for decades, but only found out about the fire piston in the past few years. We can all still learn new things when we pay attention. For more details on making char cloth or making and using the fire piston, do a search for them on YouTube and you'll have numerous videos to watch. The fire piston has been around for a long time and was evidently the inspiration for Rudolf Diesel to create the engine of the same name. - LVZ in Ohio

TSK’s article ‘Fire, The Flame of Life’was excellent, but it is unfortunately incomplete. TSK says “ In a survival situation the light and smoke for a fire can be very beneficial as a signaling device for search and rescue if you desire to be found. ” (emphasis mine) The point that is missed is that fire and smoke are very effective signal devices (fire night, smoke day) whether or not you desire to be found. Building smokeless fires is an art and limiting light escape is also an art. There is a reason “black out curtains” were used on ships and buildings during war times. In a really dark site, a cigarette lighter can be seen quite literally for miles. By personal experience I know of a case of one being seen for seven miles in the Mekong Delta. I was looking from my helicopter and they were signaling trying to attract our attention but the point is we found them. If you don’t want to be found, the Dakota fire pit, the use of overhead foliage to break up smoke, proper selection of wood, etc. all come into play. We teach our kids how to be found. Rarely do we teach how not to be found. A read through some of the historical type narratives of the old west where discovery by hostile forces meant death can be enlightening. (As an aside, many of Louis L'Amour’s novels contain accurate survival information.) Another issue is that we have a tendency to gaze into our fires at night. Probably some throwback to the days of the cave when fire meant safety. Unfortunately, what that means is that we are night blind for quite some time after. Is the noise in the trees a rescue party or a hungry bear? It might be nice to be able to see and be sure. Big fires are comforting but waste wood/fuel and blind everyone around the fire while sending out locating beacons for anyone interested in looking. One key skill to be learned is to build a fire of the proper size [for the task at hand], no larger and no smaller. This is a mark of the woodsman and is to be cultivated. TSK is correct, fire is critical. But how we build and use it marks us as a either rank tenderfoot or as someone who has a grasp on reality in the wild.
Keep up the great work on the site and thanks to all of the contributors. They give us much to think about. Regards, - Captain Bart

The Worrying Numbers Behind Underwater Homeowners. A bit of good housing news came in a recent report issued by real estate analytics firm CoreLogic: The number of mortgaged residential properties with negative equity declined slightly to 11.2 million by the end of the first quarter this year, down from 11.3 million at the end of 2009. The bad news: Those 11.2 million loans are 24% of all U.S. mortgages. Add the 2.3 million borrowers who are close to slipping underwater (those with less than 5% equity), and the numbers rise to 13.5 million -- 28% of mortgages.

B.B. sent this one: Fannie Mae Seeks $1.5 Billion From U.S. Treasury After 12th Straight Loss. (The MOAB continues to grow...)

It's Official: Social Security System Now in the Red. It finally happened: The nation's Social Security system will pay out more than it takes in this year and next, as aging baby boomers enter retirement. On the plus side, according one estimate, health-care reform should keep Medicare solvent for an extra 12 years.

Growing Alarm Over Deflation Could Be a Buying Opportunity
. Some analysts are now worried about falling prices, sending big investors fleeing stocks for safer assets. But earnings are healthy and pockets of strength are emerging, suggesting it's a good time to go against the grain.

The latest from the Dr. Housing Bubble blog: Million dollar California foreclosures – 35 examples of massive upper-tier foreclosures including one home that is underwater by $2.2 million. Santa Monica housing still in a bubble.

Chuck G. spotted this: Using your RV to survive in an earthquake or other natural disaster. This might have some utility for a short-term disaster, but it would be suicidal in something long term. Without propane, your RV will turn into a refrigerator in the winter. Without gas, you will lose mobility, possibly when you are in an inopportune locale. And given the limited room for food storage, once that is consumed, you are likely to end up part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

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A federal judge ends Idaho, Montana wolf hunt. Our thanks to RBS for sending the link. And in related news: Caught on tape: Largest Oregon wolf pack ever

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KAF flagged this: Saving Rural Grocers

"In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has." - Proverbs 21:20

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

One of the basic requirements for survival in any situation for any sustained amount of time is fire.  Fire and the ability to make and maintain it can be the difference between life and death.  Having the proper materials and possessing the skills required to use them is something that needs to be practiced and learned before you are depending on them for your life.

Why Fire is Important
Depending on the situation fire serves many purposes.  

In a short term survival situation (several hours to several days), fire provides both a physical and mental benefit.  Physically fire provides heat.  With heat you can keep warm, dry wet clothes and gear, boil water for purification, and use it to cook.  Mentally, a fire provides light, a sense of security and one of accomplishment.  Having a fire can mentally put you in the right mindset to plan and survive.  In a survival situation the light and smoke for a fire can be very beneficial as a signaling device for search and rescue if you desire to be found.  Basic items to start a fire are very light and small and should be included in any survival or bugout bag.

In a longer term situation (several days to months), fire provides all the benefits discussed above, but the focus will shift from immediate survival (water, warmth, rescue) to a more long term approach.  Fire will provide the basis to purify water and the means to cook and preserve food and create tools.  Fuel for the fire will become increasingly more important depending on your surroundings and the amount of fuel you are using daily.  Remember, the more fuel you burn the more fuel you have to gather, the more water and food you will need to survive.

In a long term or TEOTWAWKI situation fire will become a core part of survival like it was for the caveman.  There are many great commercial products out there for cooking, purifying water, etc. but as time goes on, most will run out of fuel or purification cartridges or break beyond repair, eventually leaving only good old fire.  As this happens fire will be used as the primary source to purify water, cook, bake and preserve food.  It will also be used for many other purposes some of which are:

  1. Fire kilns for brick and pottery, etc.
  2. Forges for melting, bending and shaping metal
  3. Lye from the ash will be used to make soap
  4. Burn to clear brush from gardens and promote natural seeds and grasses
  5. Light

Spark\Heat (Traditional and Commercial)
Now we have talked about why fire is important to survival, let’s talk about the different requirements to start and maintain a fire.  To start a fire you need three things: spark\heat, air and fuel.

There are multiple ways to get a spark or heat that will combine with air to ignite the tinder and start your fire.  I am going to talk about both the traditional methods and also the commercially available methods I have used and the pros and cons to each.  With all of these, the key is practice.  It is never good to be trying to start a fire with a method that is not tried and true when your life depends on it.

For sustained ability to make fire you need to learn to master the Bow and Drill or Fire Plow method as they depend only on resources you can get from nature.  My favorite way to get a spark is by using a commercial striker, but I have also mastered the Bow and Drill method as a backup.

Traditional Spark\Heat

  • Bow and Drill
    • Pro: Made with materials from nature.  Anything  broke or damaged can easily be replaced or repaired.
    • Con: Not a easy way to start a fire for a novice, practice is required in mastering and becoming proficient with this method
  • Fire Plow
    • Pro: Made with materials from nature.  Anything  broke or damaged can easily be replaced or repaired.
    • Con: Typically more human energy is required than the bow and drill method as you have to build friction for heat.  Like the bow and drill this is not an easy way to start a fire for a novice, practice is required in mastering and becoming proficient with this method
  • Flint and Steel or striker
    • Pro: Depending on the type, easy to spark and get a fire for most users, though practice is recommended.
    • Con:  Great fire started, but they will eventually wear out.
  • Matches
    • Pro: Easy for most anyone to light.
    • Con: Can get wet or damaged and when you are out of matches you are out of fire.
  • Lens
    • Pro: Fast fire with correct sun and lens.
    • Con: Requires direct sunlight and practice.  Lens can break.
  • Battery and Steel Wool
    • Pro: None, I don’t recommend this method, but will work in a pinch if you have all the needed materials.
    • Con: Won’t work with a dead or damaged battery and must have steel wool.
  • Gunpowder
    • Pro: None, but will work if it is all you have.
    • Con: Fast hot flame, must be quick with the tinder to capture flame.
  • Lighter
    • Pro: Like the match, most people know how to use one.
    • Con: Can malfunction or get damaged, once out of fuel no more flame, just a very small spark.

Commercial Spark\Heat (links provided in the References)

I have listed the commercially available strikers I have personally used ranked by my favorite to my least favorite.

    1. Blastmatch by Ultimate Survival Technologies
      • Pro: Can use one handed and throws a big shower of sparks, not effected by water
      • Con: eventually wear out (roughly 10,000 strikes)
    2. Swedish Fire Steel by Light My Fire
      • Pro: Simple and efficient
      • Con: eventually wear out (roughly 3000 strikes)
    3. Sparkie by Ultimate Survival Technologies
      • Pro: Light weight and small and can be used one handed
      • Con: eventually wear out (could not find a strike #)
    4. Spark-Lite by Spark-lite
      • Pro: Ultra lightweight (I carry this as my backup to my Blastmatch)
      • Con: eventually wear out (roughly 2,000)
    5. Magnesium bar and Striker (several different makes and models)
      • Pro: If you can get the magnesium to light very hot flame
      • Con: depending on the quality hard to get magnesium to light
    6. Other Strikers (various other no-name or cheaper flint and steal, from what I have found you get what you pay for.  They may work, but not as good and as easy as the ones listed above)

One you have heat or a spark you will need to transfer that to tinder to start a fire.  Again like the spark there are traditional\natural and non-traditional tinder.  Natural tinder various by region and you will have to experiment with the best type in your area.  Generally any dry fibrous material like inner bark from a tree, dead grass, dead evergreen needles, etc. make a great tinder.  If available, birch bark makes great tinder.  My favorite natural tinder is fatwood shavings.  Fatwood (pine with high amounts of resin\sap) is naturally occurring and can be easily found and processed in a pine forest.

Some examples of non-traditional\natural tinder are dryer lint, char cloth, wax paper, cotton ball and petroleum jelly, etc.  My favorite by far is the cotton ball mixed\covered in petroleum jelly.  It provides a nice hot flame, it easy and cheap to make and will burn when wet.  I have tried multiple types of commercial tinder, but always come back to the cotton ball and petroleum jelly.

Depending on the situation always evaluate and use the resources you have available.  Other ideas or things that make great fire starters\tinder are mosquito repellent, hairspray, anything with a high alcohol content.  The best survivalist is always someone who maximizes what they have available and ready at hand.

Types of Fires
Now that you have fire, let’s talk about a few of the different types of fires and the best use for each of these fires types:

  1. Traditional Fire:  This is your classic fire with stick\fuel crossed in the center.  This type of fire provides warmth, light, and also is great for cooking.  The downside to this type of fire is it isn’t very efficient and consumes more wood than other fire configurations.
  2. Upside Down Fire:  This type of fire is made by stacking the fuel very tightly together in a box or cube shape and then lighting the fire from the top.  This style of fire burns longer and requires less fuel overtime as it feeds itself as it burns down.  This type of fire also creates great coals for cooking once burned down.  The downside to this fire is that you need to have lots of fuel in the beginning to create your upside down fire.
  3. Dakota Fire Hole:  This type of fire is a great fire for cooking and is basically like the name describes a hole.  To build this type of fire you dig a whole 10 to 12 inches deep for the main fire and a vent hole 4 to 6 inches around that joins into the main hole from the side.  This fire has great benefits as it uses less fuel and typically burns hotter than traditional fires.
  4. Base Fire:  A base fire or base can be used with any fire style except the Dakota Fire Hole.  The idea or purpose of a base fire is to elevate the fire (keep it out of snow, water, etc).  You do this by building the fire on a base, typically wet or green fuel that won’t burn easily.
  5. Reflector Fire:  A reflective fire isn’t as much about the way the fuel is arranged, but more about the fire pit and the way the heat and light reflects.  The goal of a reflective fire it to maximize the amount of heat or light by reflecting off of a wall (made of dirt, stone, wood, etc.) towards the desired location.  This is a great fire for survival shelters to reflect the heat towards the shelter.
  6. Parallel Fire:  This type of fire is created between 2 large logs setup parallel to each other.  The fire is placed in the middle.  This type of fire is typically used for a cooking fire as you can use the log surfaces as a base for cooking.  It also provides a wind break on each side for the fire.

Practice, Practice, Practice
The key to anything survival related is practice, practice, practice.  No matter what your preferred method for fire starting is, you need to practice until you are proficient.  I also recommend that you practice and are proficient in multiple methods in case your primary method is not available or no longer works.  Without proficiency you will be unable to start a fire when you need it the most.

Ultimate Survival Technologies
Light My Fire

Dear Editor:
I know helping a spouse to become preparedness minded is a common topic in your blog, but I thought I would give my two-cents worth.

My wife and I are devout Christians with four children. We both believe that the scriptures are clear in defining roles for husbands and wives. We believe that husbands' primary responsibilities are to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Wives' primary responsibilities are the nurture of their children. Husbands and wives should work as equal partners in these roles. Occasionally certain situations require some adaptation of these roles. We believe our Creator planted in men and women a natural tendency toward these roles and a desire to fulfill them. Understanding these roles and our desires to fulfill them can give a key to helping motivate a spouse.

For example, I have wanted to purchase a camping trailer for quite a while. For much of that time I tried to convince my wife that this was a good idea because then she wouldn't be cold when we went camping. I was using "provide and protect" to try to motivate her. But then recently she realized all of the great family memories we could build with this trailer. That was the "nurture" part of her talking. Suddenly, she was enthusiastic about it! This experience was a revelation to me. I was trying to convince her using the "provide and protect" angle rather than the "nurture" angle.

My wife and I openly discussed the principles of our God-given roles and desires to fulfill them. She agreed that I had been a poor salesman! Now when we discuss preparedness we understand each other much better. She understands that I am trying to provide for and protect our family and appreciates my drive to become prepared. I understand that she wants to nurture our children and I love her for her caring spirit. We still have disagreements in the process but knowing that these disagreements often just stem from our drives to fulfill our respective God-given desires makes it much easier to work things out.

Regards, - Preacher in Eastern Idaho

Two Letters Re: Pellet Rifle Hunting

Mr. Rawles,

I wanted to add the following comments to D.M.'s post about argues. I completely agree with the findings D.M. had on air-gunning. I am a big fan of air-gunning and Crossman rifles are on my short list of quality, easy to use guns that won't cost an arm and a leg. May I recommend a few more airguns worth considering. My personal favorites are the Chinese made QB-57, and the Crossman 1377C.

The QB57 is a bull-pup side lever springer with a break down design available as a .177 or .22. The gun can easily fit into a backpack and breaking it down and putting it back together does not affect accuracy. It is a real sweet shooter and it built with lots of metal and wood--more like a farm implement than a toy. The QB57 is very quiet, the sound of the .22 cal pellet hitting its mark makes more noise than the gun.

The 1377C is a multi-pump pellet pistol in .177 cal. There is a real community behind this gun and there are tons of aftermarket modifications available. It's like the M-4 of airguns. Instead of ordering aftermarket parts, I ordered parts directly from Crossman for the discontinued 2289 Backpacker carbine model. For $50 in parts I turned this pistol into a .22 cal carbine with a 15" barrel. Neither of these guns look like firearms, which I find to be a huge plus when shooting in an urban/suburban area. A standard Monte Carlo stocked rifle is recognizable as a real firearm by almost anyone. You have to be uncomfortably close to recognize that someone is handling an airgun instead of a real firearm. If a LEO sees you shouldering a rifle of any type, they are going to take notice.

I am a fan of .22 pellets. They are more expensive than .177s, but you can get 600 rounds of .22 Crossman Premiers for $23 plus shipping. With low muzzle velocity you send quite a hurting to your prey. .177 is a fine choice also, but they are a bit harder to handle with my sausage fingers and they take more velocity (more pumps) to do the same damage as a .22. .177 BBs are great, but I wouldn't want to plink with them. BB's are copper coated steel and they have a nasty habit of ricocheting. You can also break you teeth on steel shot. Eating lead isn't so great either, but even at low velocities .177s and .22s pass through most game.

Good web sites to check out and learn more: - Arguably the best airgun dealer on the net - great reviews to include video reviews. - I've never bought anything from them, but they have great video reviews of unique guns. - Great reviews, vendor neutral since this guy does not sell anything. Prost! -D. Yankee


James Wesley;
That was a great article. I had a pellet gun as a kid and shot thousands of rounds through it as well.

If you don't have a pellet rifle, but want to plink or hunt with hardly any noise, I recommend getting a box or two of .22 CB Longs, or CB Shorts. These both have a muzzle velocity of 710 fps (CCI brand), and are much quieter than a standard .22 Short (1,089 fps) as they are sub-sonic and you don't get the super-sonic bullet crack. I have an old long barrel .22 that was my dad's, and they are very quiet when used in this gun. I also have a 'Chipmunk' .22 - single shot, shorter barreled bolt action 'youth gun' and they are quieter in it than standard speed bullets, but not nearly so quiet as in the old long barreled gun (25 in barrel).

They have a 29 grain bullet, and so pack several times the energy of a BB at comparable velocities.

This isn't to take anything away from BB and pellet guns. I think they are great, but if you don't have one, and just need a little less noise, try the CB caps. I think they have their place too. Thanks, - Rune in Utah

RFJ sent this useful KK Cool Tools link: Coleman Lantern Hanger

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Conor sent this article link: Roundup: A week of hacker news from Black Hat and Defcon

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Frequent content contributor KAF sent us this: Should Videotaping the Police Really Be a Crime? Perhaps I ought to issue complimentary press credentials to all readers, who will then all become Associate Editors. Controversy resolved.

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Also from KAF: Nature's Light Show from Solar Storm

"The protection guaranteed by the amendments is much broader in scope. The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone-the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect, that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment.' - Justice Brandeis (dissenting) in Olmstead v. U.S., 277 U.S. 438 (1928)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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.

Due to financial circumstances I found myself living out of the back of my pick-up for several months on public lands in South West mostly BLM and NF mostly. Just before setting out I sold most of my belongings in a yard sale that netted me just over $800 dollars. This money would have to be rationed wisely over the summer, most went for fuel. Don't think I did not look for work anywhere I could, what I found was it was depleting my resources with no results. I finally moved onto public lands with the idea of hunting, fishing and gold panning (which did payoff) until the economy started to make a come back.

On my first trip into Wal-Mart to get supplies, mostly rice, beans, tea, flour and so forth, I made my way into the sporting goods section. What I found shocked me, .22 ammo had almost doubled in price since the last time I purchased some, not to mention the shelf was almost empty, I ended up with 100 rounds of CCI Hollow Point. While walking around I came across the Pellet and BB gun supplies, since I had my Crossman 2100 Classic pump in the truck I decided to purchase some BBs for plinking around camp. 

My first couple of weeks was spent near a small spring (more like a seep) and I think it was the only water for miles. Every morning and evening it was frequented by all the game in the area, dove, quail, rabbits and so on. While plinking the the first evening with my Crossman 2100 a group of birds was making their way down to the water, I jumped up and slowly made my way to the water hole . Once there I got myself into position and awaited in ambush for their arrival.  They finally made their way into the open and I picked off two of them with only six pumps of power, it shoots a lot quieter that way. That night the feast was on, from that point on it was in my hands everywhere I went.

Over the entire summer it became the SOP to scout the area for small game while checking my various snares, dead falls and to my mining spot. That BB gun put at least 70% of the meat on the spit over my fire throughout the summer. The only time I considered my .22 was when the Javelins where in the area and or deer and yes a well placed shot will drop either one if one was in a survival situation. 

After returning from the field and taking up Tee Pee living now, I have given it a lot of thought after reading Rawles's novel “Patriots” and what I have on hand. A Pellet gun as a true survival weapon and here are my conclusions. Living in the field for a while really proved out my gear, sadly and expensively most fell to the way side but the Crossman 2100 turned out to be an unlikely sleeper candidates for one my personal top 10 gear awards! Here is my rationale:
1. Reliability, it never failed me and I went through half of my 6,000 BBs in the container at an average of 6 pumps per shot = 18,000 pumps. I oiled the seal once a week. Before pursuing this adventure my guess would be my kids put 50,000 plus rounds through this gun and that would be a conservative estimate.
2. Accuracy, what I found out after about 500 or so shots was I was no longer consciously using the sights within 25 yards and that is where 90% of the critters were bagged.
3. Handling, this is an area it really shinned. Weighing only 5# loaded with a couple hundred BBs it was a joy to tote everywhere. Another plus is the Crossman 2100 Classic in configured to real gun dimensions and handles as such. Pumping becomes unnoticeable and more like a second nature type thing.
4. Critter "bagability". Before reading on, please read your State's game laws on hunting with a pellet gun. I believe we are all here for the same reason and that is to share ideas and experiences that will better our quality of life in a TEOTWAWKI situation. So with that said, birds @50 yards, rabbits cleanly @30 yards, turkey's @25 yards with head shot and 10 pumps, raccoons and skunks @10 yards with 10 pumps and head shot, squirrels cleanly @25 yards with head shot. This one area a pump rifle really shines is 5 to 6 pumps on birds and 10 pumps on bigger stuff, having variable power is a nice plus. Speaking of variable power 3 and four pumps bagged numerous large lizards and monster grasshoppers for the spit also! Here I should also mention a BB does almost no damage to the meat at all no matter where it hits. 
5. Stealth, many times I hunted near primitive campground areas without raising an eyebrow and most often if you missed you get a second shot.
6. Tactical trainers. After returning from the field and switching back to my AR-15, M1A, and my [Ruger] 10/22 I noticed my shooting skills had become quite honed. Everything from muscle memory of bringing my weapons to shoulder, breathing and trigger control and an instinctive sight picture was ingrained. Even just overall handling and field manipulation was enhanced.
7. Which type of air rifle? 
In a survival situation I would not want a single stroke type rifle for several reasons: 
a. Excessive power and report
b. Excessive weight
c. Their limitation of shooting only pellets. (I mostly shot BBs. I used pellets only on bigger game.)
d. Not sure how one would service in the field

CO2-powered air rifles are also a "NO GO" just because of the need for CO2 cartridges! 

I think a good pump air rifle in the best option for practical long term survival in the field . I like the Crossman 2100 because it handles and looks like a real gun and later translates the muscle memory to my big guns! I have since replaced the seals only because I want it to keep on ticking and I also got an extra set and put them in the butt stock. It does have a couple of cons one being it is has a susceptibility to altitude, the higher up the more you have to pump. Next is the cold has a similar affect as altitude and vise versa they shot hotter in the heat. Take time to learn your guns quirks, mine took two extra pumps early in the morning in compared to the mid day heat.    

At the Fort, I get to sit out on my back porch and plink almost every evening and when I want to bag a squirrel or quail for dinner, I crack a window and shoot from a position back in a room for tactical practice. In the winter I practice a lot of different shooting positions in the house. Breathing and trigger control are the main focuses. Using the Crossman has worked out so well for training purposes, I have since purchased a Airsoft Model 1911A1 look alike pistol for indoor CQB practice.

Modifications I would recommend on a air rifle:
a. Take it apart and become familiar with all the parts and clean up all sharp edges in the process.
b. Use a pull thru type cable and use some Flitz to polish the barrel, this really enhanced the accuracy on mine. [JWR Adds: Beware of using abrasive bore cleaners. I recommend using mild bore cleaners and patches, and taking plenty of time, rather than trying to rush the job . Also, be very careful to carefully to keep the cleaning rod aligned, especially as the rod tip enters or leaves the muzzle. That last two inches of rifling is crucial to good accuracy.]
c. In the buttstock I store an extra set of seals, roll pins, rear sight elevation blade, and my cleaning kit with some Remington Gun Oil.
d. I painted mine with Coyote Brown Dura-Coat after coming back from the field.
e. If I were to put any kind of optic on it, I would choose a Bushnell Trophy TRS 25 Red Dot, they have a 3,000 hour battery life. Many times in the field I wished I had something for dusk type situations. 

The Cost! The Crossman 2100 Classic retails for $62.99 and can probably be purchased on the web for less. With the countless hours spent on mine I can't think of a more fun or less expensive way to bag some critters and get weapons manipulation practice.

In my ammo tests, BBs were my preferred ammo due to cost and availability. With BBs I can shoot a 1" group @25 yards, but that is with shooting on a daily basis. Pellets only give me more accuracy at longer ranges say @50 yards and have much better penetration which is required on bigger stuff. My preferred pellets are Beeman Crow Magnums, they hit really hard and I have bagged several Jackrabbits with 50 yard head shots.   

Did I mention the general public and LEOs pay almost no attention to an individual with a BB gun?

Earlier I wrote about cooking over a fire. After all the stories from people "living" out there on public lands, they said their number one problem was Rangers and LEOs and most of it stemmed from having a camp fire. Most of the west gets shut down in what they call the fire season with good reason. (Idiots who don't know how to clear a fire ring and tend a campfire safely.) All of my fires were made in a Scout pit and extinguished immediately after use. I lived as if were behind enemy lines. Some would say it's a SOP in a TEOTWAWKI situation, but I say it's here already. What I mean is this country is not the way I knew it and one's preps should be geared as such!

There was a bit of excitement when we flew the Earth through this last coronal mass ejection (CME) it might be useful for people to understand how the 1859 event was set up to cause such a powerful hit as well as its effects on Earth.

The 1859 Carrington [CME] Event was a very rare perfect storm in space where sci-fi type examples are probably the best language to illustrate what happened.

The sun is a big bubbling liquid death star, it can spew and splash at times with great power. Since we orbit the sun and it has its own spin the plasma splashes will project outward from wherever the solar surface event occurred. Since there is aim involved the "death star" has to be pointed at us, otherwise it just makes an interesting event for solar observatories.

The second factor in a perfect storm is shielding, just like you imagine with the fictional starship USS Enterprise. The first shielding the Earth gets is the existing low speed solar wind. This slow moving plasma literally creates a traffic jam around the sun. A big CME can push this out of the way but it expends much of its energy to do this. The late August 1859 CME knocked the path clear of the low energy/speed solar plasma.

With the way swept cleared by the late August CMEs the early September events were able move at full speed against the earths magnetosphere, our secondary shields in only 18 hours moving at over half a million miles an hour!

Once the high energy plasma strike arrives and sweeps across the earths magnetic field it acts like a a magnet waved across a coil of wire in your third grade science class, electrical current is produced. Any antenna long enough to receive this quasi-DC wave this will resonantly couple and a current will be detectable on the antenna, just like when we receive radio signals, the longer the antenna the better the electrical capture.

To conclude with the abstract science there needs to be a line up of several events to get an 1859 type event affecting you.
1- Sun has to eject a CME directly into the path of the Earth
2- The pathway has to be cleared of low speed plasma, probably by an earlier CME
3- Your electronics must have connection to wiring, pipe, structural conductors, or antennas which will resonate on the longer frequencies a CME produces

The two biggest EMF concerns I read on SurvivalBlog are for automobile ignition and electrical systems and broadcast radio receivers although my greatest concern is for the power grid.

Since it is literally not directly our problem but that of the utility companies we do not much discuss the power grid preps which are now part of the engineering standard for grid power components like transformers. The phone system has been surprisingly well prepared since the 1960s. Gas and oil companies and utilities do a good job of grounding their pipelines. Many parts of the power grid will be disabled in an 1859 event but most components will likely not explode in an flaming explosion, and could be repaired once the manpower is available. I would expect social problems in some areas especially where people feel disenfranchised should the power go out so expect infringement on your civil rights.

Cars and trucks should fare reasonably well since their wire runs are protected by the metal body(exception is plastic and fiberglass body cars) and the runs to vital engine components are mostly less than a meter, a bit short to induce much voltage from EMP/CME versus the energy they must survive every day from startup voltage spikes and induced voltage from the ignition spark system. I question the wisdom of switching over to a points and condenser system for a survival vehicle. I owned many older vehicles in high school and college this may have been a GM problem but wetness in western Oregon off-=road driving always ended up damping out my distributor and required popping the cap and spraying down with WD-40 to displace the water and get running right. Once I installed an HEI (high voltage electronic ignition) system I never had to worry or adjust it beyond timing, my survival escape vehicle would have been at risk were the point dwell out of tune, wear out, or I were to cross water, not so with the replacement HEI system.

Many people speak of having only tube radios for survival should there be an EMP attack. Tubes are fragile and have a very high power demand, but they are very much fun for hobby purposes so I have some tube powered gear myself. If there were an EMP or CME event your tubes would almost surely survive as the inert gases inside the tubes would ionize becoming conductive and allow the high voltage to pass right through just like a neon bulb. A tube radio has other components which are sensitive to damage, I would suspect that some kinds of capacitors and diodes especially on old antique radios would blow in a very high electromagnetic field environment. It is worth noting that the solid state PRC-77 had a higher EMP rating than the similar vacuum tube-equipped PRC-25. There are things you can do with your home electronics like proper grounding, using high quality power line power protectors, using properly rated gas discharge dissipaters on all transmission and antenna lines, and of course disconnecting power, cable television, telephone, and antenna lines during any event. Metal pipes, pipelines, electrical fences, and other long conductors can be sneaky paths for unwanted induced electrical current to enter your home and equipment.

So what to do about CME and EMP emergencies? Prioritize this emergency and the amount of money and work you budget for it against other events of varying likelihood. Earthquakes, economic upheaval, invasion, civil war, energy shortage, mismanagement and misallocation of resources, epidemic, neighbor has a homicidal intent, home burglary, or your driveway is covered in a mudslide and the power lines are knocked down. Some of these are more exciting in a Hollywood action movie way and thus more fun to prepare for, some preps make you more vulnerable to other emergencies. Use a systematic approach using researched and documented information and not just folk wisdom and hearsay for planning your preparations; don't get caught up in emotions like unreasonable fear or fantasies of becoming the regional sheriff or strongman leader.
Shalom, - David in Israel

"Millerized" sent this: Russia to halt wheat export. And reader L.L. sent this: Why Russia's Heatwave Means Higher U.S. Food Prices. I predict this will start a chain reaction, around the globe. Other nations are sure to follow suit with export restrictions, and futures prices will soar. We can expect food riots in the future. There is also some likely inflation in other grain prices, as cattle feed is shifted slightly, to compensate. Get your wheat orders in with a trustworthy vendor pronto, before the inevitable prices increases hit the retail level! Wheat prices could double again, before December.

Jim D. highlighted this astounding news story: U.S. To Train 3,000 Offshore IT Workers. Jim D's comment: "We borrow money from the Chinese to train Sri Lankan citizens to take our jobs. We're such idiots.

Charles Hugh Smith spells it out: Why Japan Is Doomed (and the U.S. and E.U., too): Demographics, Low Savings, Ballooning Debt. (A hat tip to David W. for the link.)

Speaking of Japan, reader L.L. forwarded this: Japan's Cheap Debt Could Cost the World Dearly.

Keith O. suggested this article over at Total Investor: Rising pork bellies prices hit all-time high.

This comes as no surprise: City [of Chicago] bond rating downgraded. Thanks to our own G.G. for the link.

John H. mentioned an interactive election results map from 2008 that was designed to show political differences, but with its population density slider it also makes a great tool for visualizing potential retreat locales. You can zoom in on each state. It is fascinating to fiddle with this!

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RFJ sent this: Navy Flier Dieter Dengler's Great Escape During The Vietnam War. OBTW, I highly recommend Dengler's book Escape From Laos.

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Brute mentioned this Gizmodo article: Inside AT&T's National Disaster Recovery Batcave: Who AT&T Calls When the Death Star Explodes

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A reader in Texas wrote to report that a pipeline broke in Weatherford Texas, leaving 28,000 people without water for a few days, with temperatures over 100 degrees outside.
General chaos ensued

"Nothing so cements and holds together all the parts of a society as faith or credit, which can never be kept up unless men are under some force or necessity of honestly paying what they owe to one another." - Cicero

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This article is my personal story of how some early childhood lessons helped me G.O.O.D. from Southern California in June of 1994.   I have added a few links using today’s technology, but advise you to plan on keeping things as low-tech as possible.   I traveled half way across the country in 1994.  I was a single woman with a ten year old child, no cell phone or gun.  W.T.S.H.T.F. you may not be able to get as far as we did as fast was we did, but by learning to face your fears, and being prepared, you will eventually get to where you need to be, even if it isn’t where you planned.

Growing up poor on the South Dakota prairie in the 1960s, I learned to survive with very little.  When my parents relocated to Orange County, California in 1972 it came in handy.  For the first time in my life, my parents had money.  Both my parents also worked for the first time and when I turned fifteen I began roaming the streets on my brand new 1977 Peugeot 103 moped.   I kept trying to find open sky and usually never stopped until I hit the beach.  There I learned from the Mexican fishermen and locals to forage for clams, fish off the pier, observe people and snorkel.  I put over 200,000 miles on that moped before it died three years later and I began practicing my mechanical skills on my 1966 Plymouth Belvedere with a slant six.  That car would never have had any issues with an EMP event.

A voracious reader with straight A grades, I was bored stiff, and soon after getting the moped I began ditching school.  When I turned sixteen I was finally able to get a job and with more spare change I began paying rent, and became really good friends with some of the panhandlers on the boardwalk.  They taught me who to watch out for, how to stay safe on the city streets and they watched my back because I watched theirs.  The streets in Southern California were much safer back in the seventies but very important lesson about fear, learned on the prairie kept me safer on the city streets than some of my peers. 

My father and grandfather taught me to hunt, fish, start and tend fires and to stay warm and dry even in a snow bank, by the time I was ten.   During summer stays at my grandparents’ house, chores and personal roaming taught me to recognize and avoid threatening situations and I soon learned who I could trust.  I was taught to walk like I had somewhere to go, but also to stay concealed when I had to.  I was also taught to not be afraid of people because they were different.  My grandfather had many Dakota friends who lived on the nearby reservation.  These experiences and learning not so show visible fear also helped convince others they could safely follow me into and out of trouble.  I had learned by example and experience to trust my gut, not to believe everything I was told or saw the first time and to ask myself how something worked the way it did.  That led to a great self-confidence, and even if I was afraid I would fail, I never allowed it to show. 

Learning at an early age the importance of never showing or allowing myself to be crippled by my fears, helped me gain respect.  I also know that it made me a much tougher prey.   Even in a small town I quickly learned that bullies control by fear and intimidation.  Several times I watched bullies back down when confronted by the perception that were not as are not as frightening to me as they thought they were.    That said, self defense classes also taught me how to fight dirty, move out of the way, or escape and hide if I had to. 

After I dropped out of high school, my filing, typing and bookkeeping skills and positive “I can do it or will figure it out” attitude got me a job as a receptionist.  Within two years I became the office manager of a union electrical contractor in a really bad part of town.   My boss, who was fourteen years old when the stock market crashed in 1929, began getting buckets of gold coins delivered to the office during the 1981 gold bull market. 

His explanation of how his personal wealth and ability to purchase physical gold, finally made it possible to manage his fear of another stock market crash, reinforced my grandfathers lessons and with the price of gold as high as it is today, I think about him often.  Like my grandfather, he was also never afraid to try something new and mastering that IBM 8080, the first ever PC, I talked him into purchasing gave me problem solving and employable skills I use today.  These lessons taught me that knowledge is my best tool over fear.  If I really know what is happening and why it is happening, it doesn’t seem like such an insurmountable task.

In 1983, to be as financially independent as possible, and wanting a bucket of gold of my own, I got my G.E.D.  With my boss’s blessing, I started my own bookkeeping business on the side and he helped me gain some clients.  I also talked to my grandfather about how he had earned extra cash to support his family.  He then told me the story of how he hunted skunks to earn a dollar a pelt to buy flour, clothes and other things they couldn’t grow or catch themselves.  

The earliest photograph I have of my father is of his parents and four siblings in front of a one-room tarpaper shack on a South Dakota slough in 1943.  This picture made such an impression on me when I first found it, after a trip back to visit my grandfather in 1989; I hung it on my office wall.  With a hammer, a saw, a few dollars, and supplies, my grandfather and his brothers and their skills built a one-room house.  That my grandparents and four children survived two South Dakota winters with no running water or electricity in that shack continues to amaze and inspire me to not be afraid of surviving wherever I find myself. 

After grandpa’s death in the winter of 1996, I asked my father if he remembered more about the skunk story.  My dad told me that at the age of six, he was the one who had to crawl inside of the culvert pipe to lay the traps.  Before and after school, in all kinds of weather, he would also have to pull the stake chain and traps out when they caught one.  According to my father, road culverts are prime trapping territory and the more he did it the less afraid he got.  My grandfather, his uncles and brothers, would get together and fry up the skunks and collect the rendered skunk oil.  They in turn would get another $1 for each gallon sold to the perfume makers as “civet cat” musk oil.   It is also very good to add to varnish for treating and preserving wood.

Practice was not the only reason he was not afraid to do this.  From the time he was able to walk, he was following his father around, watching, trying and learning how to do different things in all kinds of weather.  He was not sheltered and protected from everything by technology or his parents.  I have not needed to trap anything since I moved back, but I have a greased foothold trap in a cloth bag, in my T.E.O.T.W.A.W.K.I. storage closet and know how to use it, just in case. 

In 1986 I toyed with the idea of leaving Southern California but was afraid to think I couldn’t cut it in the big city.  I was afraid of what my peers and grandpa would think.  When I found a dog-eared copy of Calvin Rutstrum’s instruction book, The Wilderness Cabin at a yard sale, the summer before, seeds planted in from childhood stories began to sprout.

On the isolated South Dakota prairies, there aren’t very many trees and you have to learn about the weather and how to see bad storms coming.  If you are prepared, like my parents and grandparents and most rural South Dakotans are, you plant large trees to protect yourself from the north wind and your house has a storm/root cellar or basement to hang out in when things get dangerous.   In Southern California we didn’t have to worry about tornados but had an earthquake barrel with three days worth of supplies and knew how to duck, cover and shut off the gas lines. 

I began planning in earnest in 1992.   The spring morning I woke up to news that Los Angeles was on fire, I realized earthquakes were the least of my worries as a parent.  I watched the violence for six days before authorities got things under control.  I realized that the only way to protect myself and my daughter from man made storms like the Rodney King Riots was to G.O.O.D. and my fear of being thought a failure by my peers was not as important as survival. 

Most of my friends and relatives thought I was nuts.  One client, when he found out what I was doing, asked me if I was running away from the IRS.   A client who had turned me onto Atlas Shrugged the fall before the riots got it.  My grandfather and father understood, but not too many other people did.  Knowing it had to be done and showing no fear, I laid off the housekeeper.  Over the next two years I cut my expenses as far as I could, sold my business, house, furniture, business suits and other excess accoutrements of big city life. 

I put all my favorite books, heirlooms and what I thought I had to keep, in storage to be shipped the month after we arrived at my grandfather’s house.  He had died the winter before and I was planning on buying his house from the estate, when we got there.   We rented a bedroom from a lady for a couple of months before we packed our car and left for the prairies of South Dakota.  Two weeks before we were going to leave, I called the city office to get the water turned on and found out that one of my father’s brothers, unbeknownst to the executors of the estate had sold the house to pay off a business debt of his. Note to self:  Never give an open-dated, general power of attorney to someone you think can be trusted.   

Because I had a plan, and several backup plans, I wasn’t afraid.  We had money, we had time and knew I could get myself out of most situations I found myself in.  With six highway maps, campground information and several alternate routes planned and provided by the AAA Automobile Club, and double checked by me, we packed our car and left the day after my daughter finished 3rd grade. 

Even before I found SurvivalBlog and learned about B.O.B.s I had been taught to be sure I had all we needed to survive and to always have several contingency plans.  We had a tent, pillows, quilts, canned and dried food for a month, ten gallons of water, hermetically sealed milk, juice boxes, clothes, cooking utensils, rain gear, some small hand and car tools, Goldie the goldfish, fish flakes, traveler’s checks and cash.   The two gold coins I had first purchased back in 1982 from my boss, were in my blue jeans pocket and knew I had more stored away.  I left the fears I had about my daughter’s safety behind me and the family feud in the hands of my father and infuriated aunt. 

The trip was over 1,900 miles, and as my father had done it before, I knew it could be driven in less than 40 hours if need be.  I had done it in three days once when I drove back by myself.  We didn’t need to drive straight through and we stayed away from people as much as we could.  Taking it slow enabled me to begin my daughter’s survival lessons and to figure out how to deal with the housing situation.    We dealt with a deep shin cut at the Grand Canyon, foraged wood, tinder, and some wild strawberries in Utah, started fires and cooked in downpours, and 40 mph winds.  After talking with my great-uncle, one of my grandfather’s friends and the local mayor, I knew we would have a place to live before the snow flew.  The small community welcomed us home and even though we later relocated, we still keep in touch. 

My fondest memory of the experience happened the day after we arrived.  My daughter and I had walked the few blocks uptown from the city park where we had camped to get our forwarded mail.    When we got back I realized we had forgotten to get milk.  I handed my daughter a five and told her to go get a gallon of milk and a treat for herself at the store next to the post office while I cooked her lunch.  Never having been allowed to walk anywhere alone in ten years, with wide eyes she asked me, “By myself?”  She eventually learned many of the lessons my grandfather taught me and is now teaching my grandchildren to face and conquer their fears.   

I've been reading and enjoying SurvivalBlog for about one month now. First of all, thank you for the time and effort you put into this great resource!
I enjoy reading fiction and especially science-fiction, so a few of the references listed there were familiar. Many aren't and have no chance of being available at the local library, here in France. However, most of those I did recognise were about dramatic SHTF scenarios, while you and many others have emphasised the likeliness of a "Slow Decline" situation.

Two novels that I have read describe precisely this kind of lifestyle: they are "Parable of the Sower " from Octavia E. Butler, and to a lesser extend its sequel, "Parable of the Talents." The first one focuses on many interesting themes such as: Neighbourhood small walled communities, unexpected food-gathering sources from local resources, getting friends to maintain a BOB, OPSEC while a refugee, high-priced utility services, corruption and ineffectiveness of public services, and so on. The second one could be a fine example of religious persecution (no matter what the religion in question is, even if the protagonists here have their own beliefs!), importance of keeping "useless" legal records, slow economy recovery, remote location farming, OPSEC and selling on local markets, etc.

A few examples come to mind:
- The community where the main character grew up attracts burglary after one of the neighbours decides to sell some of his rabbit meat outside the community.
- A large chain of high-priced stores sells everything you may need, literally beans, bullets, and Band-Aids, in facilities with stringent security measures in and around. Anyone who can lay out the cash can access, shop, and retreat in a large radius in peace.
- The farm has "reinforced natural fences" with many thorny bushes and extensive razor wire, but these are easily overcome once a well-armed and decided group takes over with fire and trucks. (A reader recently send an entry recommending bushes as a security measure, it obviously wouldn't stand up to determined assailants. Fuel for trucks might not be available, but the Romans invented the Turtle formation thousands of years ago, and medieval castles were taken over with little more technology.)
- Acorn bread is a staple in the community, yet if it hadn't been for one smart character with a book about local plants eaten by the natives, the oak trees would have been cut for wood and gardening.
- The protagonists try to get used and dirty items for BOB and travel bags, even using a pillowcase, to avoid attracting attention from on-road looters.
- despite the dire situation compared to ours, people don't see and refuse to think about SHTF. They grow resentful about the person trying to get them prepared, and she can only try to get them to thing about "earthquake preparation kits."

I was expecting this to be a small note, but it nearly turned into its own novel. - Frenchy

JWR Replies: Thanks for your comments. Your English is excellent. There can indeed be some useful information woven into fiction. It is noteworthy that there are a lot of people who refuse to read nonfiction survival manuals, but who eagerly read fiction, or that will at least watch a movie on DVD. That is one of the reasons why I wrote my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse". I recommend that you look for an original French edition of the novel Malevil, by Robert Merle. Malevil is a post-nuke science fiction novel that sold well in both French and English editions. OBTW, in addition to the book and movie recommendations at The SurvivalBlog Bookshelf page, please refer to this blog post from October, 2009: Poll Results: SurvivalBlog Reader's Favorite Survivalist Fiction.

Dear Jim,
Regarding the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that occurred this week that everyone is concerned about. I advise some caution in over-reacting to these types of events. While the CME itself was of a very high magnitude and is spectacular in images, it was never anticipated that it would cause us any problems. Predictions for auroral activity were only in the high latitudes, and auroral activity is a dead-giveaway as to how strong the impact on the ground will be.

The spectacular images we have all seen over the last week immediately told me we had nothing to be concerned about. The CME was silhouetted against dark space; meaning the majority of the CME was pointed away from earth out into space. It's the less spectacular images we should be concerned about, when the CME occurs directly facing the earth with only the sun's surface in the background.

The fact that we are still climbing out of solar minimum also saved us. 1. The normal background solar wind was low to begin with. 2. Flares around minimum occur at high latitudes on the sun, meaning there is a much greater change the bulk of the CME will miss us. As solar maximum increases sunspots and CMEs begin to concentrate around the sun's equator, giving them a much high chance of being directed towards us.

If this particular CME had been pointing towards us we would have been in big trouble, there's no doubt about that. But there has certainly been a big beat-up by the media over this event which has scared a lot of people. As we all know, you can't rely on the media for accurate scientific or emergency information, and in this case they were mostly concerned about how good this event looked in print.

The next time there is a large CME most people are going to be saying "look at the last one, it was a flop", however each event needs to be judged according to the facts. While it looked pretty, this was just a space storm in a teacup.

I advise anyone concerned about these issues to register for Space Weather Alerts with You can even have the alerts sent to your mobile, although there is usually a few day's warning until the CME reaches Earth (could help if you are camping or overseas at the time). At the very least it will give you a heads-up when to watch for aurora. Where I come from (near Sydney, Australia) aurora are an extremely rare treat that you will only see if you have advanced warning and the CME was large enough and pointed directly at us. It's those "low latitude" aurora events we need to be concerned about.

This event should be used as a warning to the unprepared. Space happens, do get ready for it. Regards, David R.


Hi Jim,
Thanks for your note on solar storms on Tuesday. I definitely did an "oh shibitsk" and instead of spending the next 2 hours reading the Internet like I always do I stopped and jumped into action. I immediately took the opportunity to run a "what if" scenario in my head and realized I was no longer where I had been in my prepping. I spent the rest of the day running around town and getting my "stuff" back to where it should be.

In the last couple of months as I've read your blog I've taken notes of various people writing in with a story regarding running disaster scenarios or being put in brief situations where all of the sudden they are in a mini TEOTWAWKI. The writers would note that part of their discovery was that various elements in their GOOD bag or BOB bag were no longer there because they had dipped into them for whatever reason and found themselves having to run around and look for the item. This is exactly what happened to me yesterday, just in a larger scale than I had realized. It was a little alarming and drove home the need to get more serious with my discipline about my prep work and not dip into stuff. I had managed to unprep my prepping.

Although in my head it is a little understandable how I had gotten into this situation but it was still so not OK. I don't know how many time yesterday I muttered at myself dumb dumb, stupid. If I had to go with where I was at yesterday morning I would have been in some serious trouble. The stupid part was that I had been in a good place with all the prep work but because I had become lax in my discipline I had wound up putting myself in danger. Fortunately your "heads up" yesterday woke me up and spurred me into action and I had the time to rectify the situation.

I got lax in my discipline because my life took a major turn in May. I was laid off from work after 12 years with the company (I got replaced by a $3 million computer system). Although I received almost a year's worth of severance and pay outs and had savings to keep me "good" for almost 2 years it changed my daily routine and spending habits. This change then resulted in me dipping into my prep "stuff" and not keeping it as organized as it had been. I will take ya through my day yesterday so hopefully others can realize how easy it is to unprep yourself and how incredibly important it is to maintain our disciplines.

My first stop was the gas station. I had less than 1/4 tank in my truck and had been dipping into my stored gas for the last three months for various yard chores and projects. I had three more new gas cans still sitting empty since I had purchased them. I had shuffled them around for months always noting I need to fill them up but just hadn't gotten around to it. Dumb! If this had been the real thing I would have been in a bad way. A lot of good it does to have a generator but no gas.

Next stop was the bank. I had less than a thousand dollars on hand. For months instead of going and getting more cash from the bank I just kept dipping into my "prep cash" until it had dwindled down to a lower level than I would have been comfortable with. Of note; the bank seemed "fussy" about withdrawing more than a thousand bucks. I wound up having to go inside instead of just going to the drive through. Seemed to take a while. Fortunately, since I am into Numismatics I have a lot of pre-1964 silver coins around the house.

Next was the hardware store. Again I had become really lax in my disciplines. My propane tanks were dangerously low because I just kept using them without getting them refilled in a timely manner. I had kept telling myself I would deal with it tomorrow. My white gas situation was the same. I picked up the lumber, wire and other tools I had been meaning to do for months.

Then I headed to Costco. This was one of my biggest dumb dumb of all. I had gotten into the bad habit of just "borrowing" a couple of the stored can goods and supplies with the intention that I would replace them "tomorrow". Because I no longer had an income coming in and needed to change my spending habits I had made a point to stay away from the stores and get used to getting by on a lot less. Only partially successful, I got used to spending less but got dumb with the "borrowing" from my stores. Over three months I found I had "borrowed" myself almost to the state of being unprepped. This also helped me realize the items I had not stored enough of because if I had borrowed my way through them in 3 months where would I be at if TEOTWAWKI lasted for 6-12 months. I have a lot of freeze dried and MREs I had not touched and assumed with these I was in good shape. I reevaluated. Many carts and dollars latter I filled the back of my truck and headed to the next stop.

The sporting goods store. Although I had spent the summer off doing more training at the gun range and getting comfortable with my firearms I had not replaced the spent ammo. This wound up taking quite a few trips to various stores because its not like you can just walk in and buy the kind and quantities you want. Low inventories or no inventory of certain calibers. I had acquired my stores over a period of time and had not really taken note of the available inventory. I picked up mantles, fishing bait and more line, little propane bottles, and various other odds and ends I had used up.

Yesterday wound up being an expensive day but I was not done yet. When I got back to the house I continued running the "what if" scenario and found that I would not be ready to go if I need to. Too many things had gotten out of their original place. The GOOD bag was on the floor of the spare bed room with the items scattered here and there from the last time I dug into it to "borrow" whatever. Same with the medical kit. My truck was no longer packed and ready to go as it had been. As I wandered around the house and out buildings I found the same to be true in too many cases. I spent the rest of the day and am still repacking, inventorying, and resetting all my previous prep work, as well as, finishing doing all the little things I had meant to do but never quite got around to.

It was and is an awesome valuable lesson. Thanks for the heads up! On a good note...I have not spent the summer just sitting around using up stuff but have taken the opportunity to expand other forms of prepping. I finally had the time to explore and practice basic skills that some would take for granted but that I was lacking in. I've also spent the time simplifying my life and getting back to the "old ways" of doing things. It also gave me the time to spend in the garden and expand my self-reliance. I also spent the time exploring the area I live in on foot to take note of available resources such as all the wild plants that could be used for food or medicinal purposes. I live by a river and there is an abundance of naturally growing vegetation and I have been devouring books on identification and practical uses.

One of the areas I realized I had taken for granted was water. I have lived by a river for 22 years and have a well with the ground water just being 12 ft. down. I had in my previous prep work stored water for drinking because I've spent a lot of time in the back country and filtering pints of water day after day is not that fun. One of serious dumb dumb I discovered yesterday was that I had used a lot of my stored distilled drinking water for the aquarium because it was easier than having to deal with all the chemicals and expensive test strips needed to make tap water safe for aquarium fish. I'll actually be semi-glad when the fish finally die on their own and I can shut down the aquariums. So, although I did spend the last 3 months seriously advancing some parts of my preparations I got a little too lax in other areas. It is so easy to just borrow or dip into, just this once, into our stores of goods while telling ourselves I'll replace it tomorrow or the next time I go to town. I chose to take your "heads up" as a "what if" it were now--right this second. It seriously opened my eyes.

Thanks & Take care, - Skylar

Tamara at the View From The Porch blog had a link to a good article about low-light marksmanship training: A Shot in the Dark.

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"Robo" sent us a piece that illustrates how our privacy is shrinking: Hacker tries to read a radio identification tag from 29 floors up. Meanwhile, we read: The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets. (Thanks to AmEx, for the latter link.)

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Trent H. flagged this article in The Boston Globe: Popularity of farming soars in Massachusetts.

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E.M.B.sent us the link to this terrorism map. It certainly illustrates the wisdom of locating in lightly-populated rural areas.

"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - Robert Woodruff (President Ronald Wilson Reagan had this quote posted on his desk at the White House)

Chris G. mentioned: ACTA: The War on Progress, Freedom, and Human Civilization

An interesting piece over at The Daily Bell: Why Bankers Didn't See Collapse.

Frequent contributor K.A.F. says: "States are taking on more debt. Here’s your state’s burden per capita". JWR Adds: What I found amazing is Massachusetts. How can they tax their citizens so much, yet still end up short of funds?

Lee C. recommended a 25 minute long BBC Radio Interview on the Credit Crisis and the Risk of Another Crash.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, 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 assembling your post-apocalyptic, biker zombie, total collapse of civilization kit (or just getting started in camping) one item you should consider as part of your kit is a classic bedroll.

A classic bedroll, not the stuff of Hollywood or television, but the kit of real working men is both comfortable and multipurpose.  They are not lightweight, small, or easy to backpack.

Please allow me to share the road I took to get to my current bedroll.  I will try to describe the attributes of a good bedroll, suggest the minimum bits for a good durable bedroll, and provide some links to historical information on military use of bedrolls.  Finally, there will be some links to sources of commercial bedrolls in case you wish to buy rather than roll your own.

I got my first bedroll when I started with the Scouts - the Troop I joined was led by combat Vets from both WWII and the Korea conflict - it really was a para-military uniformed youth training organization with a focus on 'real' military skills - just as Lt. Gen Robert Baden-Powell had first envisioned in 1907.  That early experience and training from these Vets has stayed with me.

Anyway, the bedroll was an old tarp, as an adult I now see it likely started life as a WWII or Korean vintage Jeep trailer cover.  This cover held a pair of Army-issue wool blankets - all given to me to 'get started'.  The system worked to keep me warm at night, if not all too comfortable.

I used this setup until I started in serious backpacking.  Short of funds, I upgraded to a new system using a surplus Case, Water-repellent, for Bag, Sleeping and a home made wool blanket liner.  The liner was made out of the blankets on hand.  Mom (gotta love 'em) helped me to cut and sew them into a modified mummy style reaching to my armpits.  The blanket leftovers were made into a kind of cape.  I re-waterproofed the poplin case by soaking it in raw linseed oil.  It took the poplin fabric a while to dry completely in the AZ sun/heat, but when completely dry, was proven to be a waterproof and windproof cover.

When I landed a job as a staff member at the local Scout mountain camp, I purchased a 'real' (commercial) sleeping bag.  By the end of the summer, the bag was completely shot - sleeping every night in the bag for just under 90 days destroyed it - lesson learned.  I also had to carry a ground cover and tent when away from the main camp.  Later, I worked for a Geoexploration company while in college.  This job meant sleeping in the field for 4 or 5 days a week - with very limited space in the truck to carry personal gear.

That bedroll was made from my recycled Scout tarp, a pair of new surplus wool blankets and three commercial furniture pads obtained used from the local rental outfit.  When warm, the pads were a comfy mattress, when cold, they helped the wool to keep me toasty.  A second tarp was used in very rainy weather as a wedge tent to keep the water out of our faces.

In the military I used the issue bags, but I had my wife make another semi-mummy liner from a surplus wool blanket - on the really cold nights it made a difference.  I spent one of the most miserable Fall nights in my life sleeping in Death Valley using a pair of issue poncho liners and a poncho.  I think my wool 'liner' would have made a big difference, but the wool liner was left at home to save weight.  Never again.  I also added a shelter half to provide shade/wind protection in my 'go kit'.

This brings me to describing the attributes of a good bedroll:

First, the bedroll must be durable - as in brick outhouse durable.  This means it must stand up to nightly use for weeks on end.  It must suffer and survive abuse like rocky ground, rubbing against other kit, heat, drenching rain, (well below) freezing cold and dirt.  It must be able to survive a soaking and be usable within a short period of time. 

Second, your bedroll should be a stand-alone item for use.  Your bedroll should not require an additional ground cloth or tent to be used.  As I mentioned earlier, a second tarp is nice, but should not be required.  If a second tarp is used, it may be lightweight as it will likely receive little abuse from day to day s use.

Third, the bedroll must be comfortable!  If you are forced from your home/primary shelter, you will spend up to 1/3 of your life in this bedroll.  That means you must be able to adjust to extremes in temperatures, ground conditions, humidity and rain.  After busting hump for 12 hours, a bad night's sleep can make a tough job into one that is unbearable. 
Your bedroll should be easy to enter and exit - especially for that late night nature call or zombie attack.  The size you ultimately choose will depend on your style of sleeping.  I can no longer stand the confines of a mummy style system for long periods, for example, so mine is large and roomy.

Fourth, the bedroll must be easy to maintain.  Cleaning and maintenance of the bedroll components must be done without commercial washer/dryers or sewing machines - if you cannot take care of your bedroll in the field, you face some very bad nights indeed.

The bedroll should have room for some of your kit (small tool/sewing kit, extra socks, a clothing change and perhaps a hygiene kit) without compromising the waterproof nature of the bedroll.  At the very least you should certainly keep a set of loosely fitting polypro long johns, a poly baklava and a set of heavy (wool, of course) socks to sleep in during colder weather.  A pocket for a pillow is a nice touch.

The bedroll will not fit a stuff sack, so you must be able to roll it in such a manner as to allow the cover to keep rain, mud, dust and bugs out of the bedding.  That also means good solid roll straps, at least three, that are large enough to hold the roll and stay put.  You should consider a couple of additional straps to provide a means to attach the bedroll to your transportation - from a truck or a donkey to a hand cart.

The basics parts of a bedroll - you can add as you learn.
A sturdy bedroll is made of:
A cover or shell that is both waterproof and brick-outhouse durable.  This is the make or break item on a bedroll.
Bedding, warm, durable and with the ability to accommodate changing weather.  I have some pretty strong ideas of what works and that will be shared a bit later.
An insulator or mattress - both for comfort and to reduce loss of body heat into the ground.  A means to hold this mattress is a real plus.
A storage system to accommodate those few additional sleep related items you do not want in your ruck or haversack.
Straps to hold the bedroll, well, rolled.

Lets see how these mandates have worked out in the current edition of my latest bedroll.

Made of Number 1 canvas duck, it was cut, washed in very hot water to shrink the weave and reduce shrinkage while in use.  Beginning with a large piece of canvas to reduce the number of seams, the material was cut into 3 pieces.  Using a local tent maker, the cover had webbing (tape) sown into the 1.5 inch edge seams, double stitched with heavy, waxed, UV stable thread.  An additional roll of thread was purchased for any future repairs that might be needed.  Sown with industrial machines, each corner was bar stitched and industrial brass grommets were placed across the 'top' and down the 'open' side to almost waist level.  All seams were sealed to stop water infiltration.

At the top, an additional piece, just under 4 feet in length, slightly more than the width of the 'bag' was attached at the time that seam was taped and edged.  The third piece was sewn to this flap to make a pocket prior to attachment to the cover.  This pocket has a slot (that may be laced shut) to allow access.  The entire piece of fabric was waterproofed.  This hood can serve as a mini-tent in bad weather.

A quick note here - how you waterproof the cover fabric matters.  Check the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for any waterproofing material used.  Some 'classic' methods may carry a health risk - for example, commercial "boiled linseed oil" may contain drying agents that pose a health hazard.  All linseed oil is both flammable and material may heat and burn spontaneously if not dried completely.  Commercial waterproofing products may not be compatible with your cover material.  Read the label completely - ask questions is you are not sure.  Always check the MSDS.

The actual size of your bedroll cover will be determined by how you sleep and the type of bedding / mattress chosen for your system.

If you have not figured it by now, I am quite partial to wool blankets as bedding. On the plus side - Wool is durable!  In researching the web for some additional data for this piece, I found several WWI Army Quartermaster Corps issue blankets for sale - and some still used by re-enactors.  Wool is naturally fire resistant; wool will offer insulation even when damp.  Wool can absorb almost 20% of its weight in water before reaching total saturation-- that is defined as the point at which absorbed water begins leaking back out of the fabric - in other words, onto your skin. 

On the minus side, wool is a natural product that loses some strength or can break down when overheated - hot water is okay, steam is not - so drying via a campfire is best done carefully.  Wet wool also loses some strength - so, again, dry it carefully.  Dry wool can become quite brittle - usually not a problem when used as bedding - just use care in storage to avoid too dry of conditions.  Insects are also a consideration in storage.

I found that our local Army-Navy surplus store had some of the "Italian military" surplus blankets recently seen in various on-line outlets.  Reasonably priced, they weight over 5 pounds each, a good sign of quality in a woven wool blanket.  Initially compressed from long storage and reeking of insect repellant, after several washings they are now fit for duty.  Three of these blankets and a wool liner from a national outdoor supplier and we have almost all that is needed for a comfy set of bedding.  The liner, of Merino wool, allows me to keep the other blankets clean should I have to hit the rack while dirty.  There are liners made of linen, polypro, and fleece that will likely work as well - I just happen to like wool.

The mattress
Right now I am back to an interlaced pair of furniture pads, as I have used before.  This is a stopgap measure while looking for a suitable covered closed cell foam pad.  Several commercial products are offered by different outfitters, some with a cover for the pad to resist moisture accumulation.  My concerns lie with both the durability of any of these products as well as the finished width - all I have seen offered are relatively narrow - about 25 inches or so.  The Pacific Outdoor Equipment Mega Mat looks - at 32 x 78 inches - like it might be a good pick, I am trying to find a local source for some hands-on time - at $150 or so, not an instant choice.

Wrapping it all up
Keeping things tidy are a set of straps I talked the parachute shop into sewing up for me some years back.  Made from salvaged C-60 cargo parachute harnesses they are stout, to say the least.  Any surplus store should have these kind of heavy duty strap sets - ensure you have the buckles that match the webbing.  Too large and the strap will slip, too small and you cannot lace the webbing through the buckle.  If you can find some Capewell release type buckles, you will be pretty close to bombproof strap sets.  At least one pair of large/long straps will allow you to secure your bedroll to transport.  My bedroll rides in the truck or on my home-made cargo cart.

How well does this work?
Well for me, just fine.  I just finished a week-long gig at a remote camp here in Alaska and slept both cozy and warm, despite the cold and rainy nights.  In this case, I did nave an unheated shelter - open to the wind - but was as toasty as can be.  Getting out of bed in the morning was a bit of a challenge though.

Will this setup work in the dead of an Alaska winter?  To be honest, I hope to never find out, but it goes in the rig when traveling out of town in case an avalanche or bad accident closes the road.

If you plan on only 'truck camping' you may wish to consider a reproduction M-1935 Bedroll with blankets - designed for use with an issue cot, these are well thought out military 'system' and should provide good service for temperate climates.  Any good tent maker should be able to fabricate one from canvas goods on hand.  The so-called Auzzie swag bags are another possibility to consider.

Random thoughts:
A maintenance kit should have a sewing awl, thread, good size chunk of beeswax in a tin and a half a toothbrush to apply the wax.  A few large needles, heavy thread and a small set of scissors will help keep your blankets or clothing in good repair.  Learn to use a 'blanket stitch" or "lock stitch"
A good way to keep the loose stuff in your bedroll less loosely is to cut up an old set of BDU or ACU pants.  Cut the leg just below the cargo pocket and sew the cut end shut.  Use this as stuff sack for socks, drawers, etc - using the drawstrings to close the sack.  This sack will allow you to roll loose items with fewer lumps.
A pair or two of very heavy wool socks will keep your toes warm, and may be used to fashion a neck or ear warmer and in a pinch,,or as as hand warmers/mittens.


Want to buy and not build? Try some of these links to see they have what you are looking for:


With all of the talk about the so-called Internet Kill Switch, and more and more people referencing online instructional videos, it might be time for people to start downloading these videos to their local computers. An easy way to do this is with the Firefox Fast Video Download plug-in. While watching an unlicensed video on YouTube and other sites, select the Tools menu, Fast video download, and then select the video you want to save. The videos may have the name of the video or a generic name like youtube_video. The extension may be .flv or .mp4, or there may be one or more of each. Select the format that you want (I personally prefer .mp4) and save the file, renaming it if you need to. To playback either of the files I recommend the VLC Media Player, which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The combination of the Fast Video Download plug-in and the VLC Media Player give you a free way to build up that survival video library and use it without an Internet connection, anywhere. - LVZ in Ohio

Hi Jim,
Your note of last night regarding the pending solar storm was the strongest prep wake up call I’ve had yet. Especially as I finished reading One Second After Been just last night! I’ve been up all night making sure things are in order the best I can.

Now that I’ve done what I can, and still wound up on adrenaline, I spent some time digging through the Internet for more EMP information. I thought that this Huffington Post article really explains some of the real dangers quite well – such as how the transformers that are damaged by solar storms weigh over 100 tons, cannot be field repaired, and must be replaced – yet there is a 3 year waiting list for new ones right now! Yikes!

God bless, and praying this storm is only a wake up call and not the full deal! - Steve C


As a recent "convert" to Rawlesian Survivalist Philosophy, I very much identify with the author of "TEOTWAWKI: Getting Folks to Recognize the Possibility." I did, however, take issue with his conclusion regarding
his treatment of family members in a Schumeresque world.

Having recently presented my "list of lists" to my wife, she made the comment to me that my quantities were off. As a future pastor (I am currently serving in the Navy and preparing to enter seminary) she made the point that if the SHTF we would undoubtedly be taking in strays from my congregation who did not heed the warning signs. I thought this was an excellent point, and I think that all preppers should take this in consideration and consider expanding things like stored food quantities to allow for family members and friends who may show up at your door.

One of the biggest things I have respected about your philosophy is that it has a perspective firmly centered on Christ, and the truth of His Word to us. I believe that in a case WTSHTF, we will have an immense opportunity to see the way that God may bless us and bless others by association. But more importantly, I believe that we have to cling to right principles of doctrine. Though the author of this recent article makes a very fair case for turning aside even lazy family members, I believe we must adhere to the words of 1 Timothy 5:8: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an
unbeliever." James 1:27 and Matthew 25:34-40 are other good verses to help us call to mind that Christian preppers are preparing for the Kingdom as well, and part of that means putting our faith in Him and following His instructions to us. I believe that if we were to find ourselves in a situation where we feel we would be endangering our stockpile (and our immediate family) by taking in strays, we must remember to approach such a situation prayerfully and even make the hard decision to trust beyond our own understanding, where God may be providing in ways we have yet to see unfold. Regardless of circumstances, I believe we cannot fail where we exercise faith and follow the Lord's lead.

In closing, thank you for all your work, and especially for the highly excellent read that “Patriots” is. I look forward to reading your further work in the series.

Very Respectfully, - Michael W.

Dear J.W.R.:
I thought that I would share a quick note of how I overcame a similar situation of warning those that I love. I have been a long time preparedness minded person, and it has become a passion in my later years. I have five brothers and sisters, and my wife has the same. The family knows of our preparedness, and all think that I will have enough for everyone when the SHTF. With that in mind, I have tried my hardest to get them involved. The best thing that I have found is to apply to their strengths. I tried the just warning them path and met with resistance. After a lot of prayer and pondering, it came to my mind that if I used the strengths they each had, they would become excited and want to help. For example. I have a sister-in-law who has thought about food storage, but has never been motivated enough to do it, and certainly did not do anything past that. So in getting my medical supplies in order and to obtain things that are not common to Wal-Mart, I sat her down and told her what I was doing and what I wanted it for. I explained how critical the medical supplies are for a situation that I feel is right around the corner. With her being a home care nurse she took to it like a duck to water. We created a spreadsheet for what we have, what we need, what cost are involved, and what training we need. I have some supplies, and she has some. She thinks it is awesome. If she comes to the table with her food, and the best medical supply kit ever, she is more than welcome in my group. We have done the same with those who have auto skills on getting our travel vehicles ready. We have an engineer who took to ham radio, mother-in-law that took to the garden. I still have those who think that I am crazy and laugh, but I have been able to focus on the strengths of others and have got some great help. The best part is, we are getting experts is each field. This allows me more time to focus on other factors that I have been put in charge of and not have the stress and the worry of having to carry all of the weight. Keep up the great work and God bless. Thanks, - S.C.L

K.A.F. sent an item for the "Surely, you jest" Department: EPA to Crack Down on Farm Dust. Perhaps cattle could be tranquilized or trained to not raise dust. They should commission a study.

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This is His Grandfather's Bug, But Now It's Electric. (Thanks to Len for the link,)

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Reader Susan Z. sent this: Arizona Sheriff: ‘Our Own Government Has Become Our Enemy’

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F.G. sent this: Rabid dogs kill at least 78 people in Bali, Indonesia.

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K.A.F. sent the link to this web page: The Sun as You've Never Seen It Before. 16 slides of the sun and the CME.

"Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover." - Men at Work, Down Under

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Headlines like this one (from Monday, August 2nd) serve as wake-up calls: NASA scientists braced for 'solar tsunami' to hit earth; The earth could be hit by a wave of violent space weather as early as Tuesday after a massive explosion of the sun, scientists have warned. Are you prepared? Have you prepared your family for the big Coronal Mass Ejection(CME)? The one big enough to take down the power grids? Have you thought through all of the implications and interdependencies, and made adequate preparations, accordingly? I pray that you are already well-prepared. If you've been reading SurvivalBlog for a few months, at least you've been warned.


Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This article is about something that many preppers think about, convincing friends and loved ones that TEOTWAWKI could happen at any moment.  For most of us this idea hadn’t occurred to us until we stumbled across it or a good friend hinted at it.  The important thing to remember is that we had to come to believe it ourselves for it to make an impact on our lives.  I think the greatest fight all of us have is getting people that we love to actually consider that TEOTWAWKI can happen and that it is a reality that looms in front of us.

I am not a long time prepper.  For the most part, I used to think that people that did this kind of stuff were backwards and slightly paranoid.   I became a believer about six months ago.  As a science teacher I have the summers off so my last month has been spent in reading, reading, and more reading about prepping.  My mindset has totally changed and I actually think about the future and becoming self-sufficient day in and day out.
For myself, the idea of an economic collapse has always been at the back of my head but I always thought this could be survived with little preparation.  What changed it all for me was the idea of an EMP burst over North America.  As a science teacher, this idea came across to me as very plausible as I know the ids myself was no.

This has changed my mind set into prepper mode.  I turned to my wife that day and told her about what an EMP burst could do.   We talked about it and within a minute she became a prepper too!  God, I love that woman.  As fiercely independent as she is, she can understand sense when she hears it.  Over the next month I started thinking about my immediate family and started making short term plans for if it happened tomorrow.  Then I made plans for if it happened in three months, six months, a year, and so on.  My wife and I, being at a flexible point in our lives, have made plans to move to the country sometimes in the next one to two years and onto a wooded property in the country that we can farm, defend, et cetera, should the SHTF.  Needless to say, every day that passes I will be a little bit more prepared.

Enough of my short history, now let’s get to the heart of the letter.  Right now, most of us can think about extended family members that have very little or no knowledge of TEOTWAWKI and are woefully unprepared.  If you’re like me this probably makes your stomach turn a little as you picture them when the SHTF and what life would be like for them.  How do you and should you approach them with this knowledge?  As much as it kills me to write this, not all of my family members are mentally prepared to survive and would be a total hindrance in a survival situation.  I must think of my wife and my four kids before I think of them.  Deep in my heart, I know I am the kind of person that must warn them, whether they are mentally prepared or not.  I will tell you my story of trying to convince my family members of TEOTWAWKI.

I used different tactics for each of my family members.  For the ones that were money-minded, I approached them with the idea of a total economic collapse.  For the ones that are science-minded, I approached them with the idea of an EMP burst.  I learned these two ideas as best I could so I could field and answer any questions that were thrown at me.  Finally, my parents passed away years ago but I still have three sisters, and one brother that I could warn.  This is my story and their reactions, from oldest to youngest.  Remember, to everyone my attempt to convince was very low-key and I was not standing with a “The End is Nigh” sign on a soap box.

1.) My oldest sister and husband are money-minded and very well-off financially.  They would probably be able to build whatever and buy whatever if they could be convinced.  I was laughed at by my brother-in-law.  He is convinced that the financial doomsayers just want to sell gold.  I warned them, smiled, thanked them for their time and went away never to mention this again.  I do not think they will ever be convinced that the world will ever change from the current situation, until it is too late, that is.

2.) My brother is overweight and aged beyond his years.  Despite working in a shipyard his entire life he is very sedentary and because of this he has major health problems.  He accepted the idea of an EMP burst but he and his wife said they are convinced that the military could stop this.  His reaction was to totally bury his head in the sand, convinced the government will protect us no matter what happens.

3.) My middle sister is five years older than me and is the closest to me.  I came straight out and told her what I believe and she believes now too.  She and her husband have actually been prep minded for a long time but had no idea what they were preparing for.  I told her husband to Google “SHTF”. He and I now have regular discussions.

4.) The youngest of my sisters is a tragic story in my family.  Although she is 42, because of drug usage she looks like she is 65.  Her daughter, my niece, is the fourth child in my family and we have full custody of her due to the situation.  The only reason I approached her with this was because of my niece.  Being drug addled it just turned her paranoid and I had to wash my hands of it and leave.
This does more than just warns the people involved, it clears my conscience if TEOTWAWKI does occur.  They all now have an equal chance to prepare, lose weight, get off of drugs, etc.  I was able to convince 25% of my family members and now include that sister and her husband in future plans to survive when the SHTF together. 

If you plan to approach family members with this, here is some advice:

A.)  Make a mental list of family/friends that you want to warn.  Family members were a priority but now at this point I shall move on to close friends.

B.)  Think of their interests and decide which TEOTWAWKI scenario to approach them with.  Know all about it.  My family members are all very intelligent and will “what if” you to death, so you have to know your subject matter back and forth.

C.) Do not beat them over the head with it, introduce the ideas in a casual conversation, plant a seed, answer questions, and let them come to conclusions.  You know your family members and can gauge how to approach this.  I suggest approaching family members one by one with these ideas.

D.)  Be prepared for reactions that range from being laughed at to being believed.  If you are laughed at, don’t get angry, just tell them that you love them and just thought they should know the possibility exists.  At this point, wash your hands of it.  You tried to tell them.

As mentioned earlier, my wife and I will purchase a country property within the next one to two years.  My four family members listed above will know where it is.  I will let them know that they are all welcomed there should the SHTF when they meet the following conditions:

1.) They have stored three months supply of food for every member of your family on our property or they carry that quantity in their vehicles when they arrive,

2.) They are willing to defend the retreat property.

3.) They, and all members of their family, will be assigned duties and accept as heavy a workload as their health allows.

As sad as I am to say this, if a family member shows up at our property and cannot agree to the foregoing, I will give them a pack with one week's food in it and send them on their way.  Will this be hard? Yes, indeed!.  I refuse to let my wife and four children go hungry for the benefit of people who were warned and simply refused to listen, family or not.  These are adults I am dealing with and as adults they should be able to make informed decisions. 

Will I give up on the family members that refuse to believe?  No, I have their e-mail addresses and will send them links to continue to encourage them to prepare for the worst.  If they come around to the SHTF mindset and begin preparing, then they are more than welcome at our retreat.  In the meantime, I share my survival books with my brother (who like me, has always liked this kind of stuff) in hopes that when the SHTF, maybe something in there will help him and his wife survive.   As long as I know I have tried, then I know I will be able to sleep at night.   Good luck convincing your own family, and God Bless.

I read the report in the government document regarding the effects of EMP on vehicles. The vehicles were only tested at 20k V/m then up to 50k V/m if they survived the first test. The reason that they were not tested beyond 50k V/m is that is what is the "known" maximum that would be released. The Russians have purpose-built EMP warheads that are speculated to emit 1m V/m to 2m V/m (100k V/m to 200k V/m). These weapons would completely destroy sensitive engine management controls. To put this in a little more perspective, the Starfish Prime test in 1962--that blew out street lamps [hundreds of miles away] in Hawaii--was only 5.6k V/m.

Setting all of this aside we still have a greater threat from an coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun. If the United States were to be attacked with EMP weapons it would be bad, but localized to our continent, Canada and Mexico would feel some of the results. If we have a massive CME it could have the same EMP effects except worldwide, and at a higher V/m than any weapon could produce. Nuclear weapons emit 50k V/m voltages in milliseconds, a CME hit could last for minutes. If we were attacked it would be possible we could get help from allies, but if it were to be a solar event the whole planet could be in the same boat.
Here is a segment from a Future Weapons episode that shows a vehicle experiencing just such an event, and it does not restart.

This is why I am keeping my non-computer controlled 1980s era 4x4 diesel truck. - The Last Conservative in California

Hi Jim,
Michael Williamson provides some very usable data, and considering the already existing, grounded shielding built-into vehicles, this resistance of automobiles and trucks to EMP makes sense.

However, most EMP measurements I'm familiar with, particularly after a nuclear detonation, occur in the hundreds of thousands, not just tens of thousands of volts. I think we still need to actively prepare for an EMP event. Besides, the way I store my unused electronics (in Mylar bags, placed in ammo cans, connected to earth ground) and electronic motorcycle components also helps to protects them from fire, flood, etc.

While an EMP event would be classified as "seldom" in a risk assessment matrix, its severity would be off the scale, to the point where those of us with anything electronic, and working, would be perceived as gods. Cheers, - J.E.

Dear James,
I'm responding to Michael Z. Williamson's letter "Real World EMP Effects on Motor Vehicles" regarding the likely outcome for our transportation system after an EMP event. Based solely on the simulations he cited, his is a reasonable view. Unfortunately, simulations aren't the real world, and I doubt our transportation system would hold up.

In all transportation concerns, I place heavy emphasis emphasis on the word system. It's reasonable to regard the transportation system as a living organism, and we all know there are numerous ways to kill any organism. In the simulation, all the cars restarted, and that's comforting. But - one out of 18 trucks had to be towed in for repairs. Here's a thought experiment based on the 1/18 failure rate: I'm assuming that the disabling damage was to electronics, and that the damage rate held nationwide. First, the backlog for replacement electronic parts would stretch into months or years.

Sure, you'd probably find a handful of electronic control modules (ECMs) or the various sensors for any given engine at truck dealers in any major city. Problem is, there are tens of thousands of trucks in proximity to any major city on any given day. If one out of twenty of those trucks failed, it would take a week or two just to tow them all in to the shops. Available parts would quickly disappear into the trucks towed in first. (The lucky recipients might be the tow trucks, for all we know.) And, if components failed on the truck, who's to say any replacement parts on dealer's shelves will be any good? Then there's the still-running fleet's need for ongoing repairs, including plenty of their own electronic issues. Sure, those trucks survived the initial burst, but what would happen to the failure rate of their electronics? Also, how will the electronics manufacturers function after EMP? Will they be able to produce more parts, and what's that time frame? There are further issues, but at least the problem is in focus now.

If one in twenty trucks nationwide were inoperable it would put a serious crimp in just in time (JIT) deliveries. As your readers know all too well, JIT inventories/deliveries are already stretched to the breaking point. Combine that with a bit of nervousness on the part of the unprepared...

Trucks also carry fuel. Minus fuel distribution, the transportation system grinds to a halt in a matter of days. I'll skip past the distribution challenges, and pipeline/refining SCADA issues (all very real, but hard to relate to) and focus on a link we all know well: gas pumps. When you stick your credit card in that slot, you're effectively operating an ATM - an ATM that dispenses liquid gold instead of paper money. ATMs depend on a working power grid, along with functioning Internet/telecom and banking systems to operate. Don't bet on using cash, either - if electronics at the station or in the pump are fried or if the power grid is down, the pump simply won't run. The brain (car computers) may survive, but if the blood (fuel) doesn't flow then your car is dead anyway.

In survival planning, we generally deal with icebergs. It's small comfort that a visible part of this iceberg fared well in a simulation - a government simulation at that! Cars/trucks in close proximity to miles of conductor (power lines, pipelines, rails etc.) may experience much stronger pulses than were simulated. How will they fare, and does it even matter? I say it doesn't. I remain convinced that the transportation system will collapse after an EMP event, and that it will fail at multiple weak links. At least some of the cascading failures would have nothing to do with the vehicles themselves, and some of those would occur in systems I haven't even addressed here.

EMP is a grave scenario, and I'm praying we never find out about it firsthand. As always, James, thanks for your yeoman efforts on the SurvivalBlog.

Regards, - Fred H.

Reader Brian B. wrote to re-emphasize the importance of the recently-released CBO report titled: Federal Debt and the Risk of a Fiscal Crisis. Brian's comment: "Many people submit links to economic news to alternative media, but when the CBO (government entity) unveils a document that reaffirms the poor state of the economy, it becomes completely unnoticed by mainstream media. Perhaps your readers can reassure themselves how the outlook of the next decade might shape up to be."

From M.E.W.: Greenspan Says Home-Price Drop May Bring Back Recession

M.M. sent us this editorial by former Reagan White House staffer David Stockman: Four Deformations of the Apocalypse.

Scott B. alerted me to this: Layoffs to gut East St. Louis police force.

F.G. flagged this item: America's new debtor prison: Jail time being given to those who owe.

From K.A.F.: Oil Tops $80 a Barrel for First Time Since May as Equities Rise

Reader A.S. wrote to mention that he liked a piece by novelist Matt Bracken, posted over at the WRSA web site: Bracken: The CW2 Cube -- Mapping The Meta-Terrain Of Civil War Two. Please don't mistake his comments on racial demographics as racism. Matt Bracken is not a racist. He is a realist.

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Chicago Times - Cops love iPhone data trail - Evidence Never Deleted. Here is a quote: "Every time an iPhone user closes out of the built-in mapping application, the phone snaps a screenshot and stores it. Savvy law-enforcement agents armed with search warrants can use those snapshots to see if a suspect is lying about whereabouts during a crime." (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Slide Rules (EMP Proof Calculators) on sale at ThinkGeek. (Thanks to Elite for the link.)

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U.A.E. Is to Bar BlackBerry E-Mail Over Security Issues. Reader Michael H. asks: "Could this sort of regulation spread to other nations?"

"I am a strong believer in luck and find the harder I work the more I have of it." - Benjamin Franklin

Monday, August 2, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 30 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 (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 (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 30 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The banks of the world are in a mess, but thankfully they are sorting out their problems.

Except that they're not.

In the boom years, banks gave out more and more mortgages to riskier and riskier home owners, with the understanding that if things turned really bad, these mortgages would be terrible loans that would lose a fortune.

So when things did turn bad and the home owners could no longer pay for the mortgages, these mortgages bankrupted the banks that gave them out.

Except they didn't.

The problem with mortgages for banks is that they don’t know how bad the situation is until they sell the underlying houses. If I buy a house for $300,000 with $50,000 of my own money and a mortgage for $250,000 from the bank, the worst that the bank is expecting is that if housing prices go down to $250,000, then the bank can foreclose on the mortgage (chuck me out) and sell the house to get back the amount of the mortgage. I'll lose my $50,000, but the bank will get back its $250,000 and come out even.

So what happens if the housing market goes so bad that the house is now only worth $200,000? In theory, the bank sells the house and loses $50,000 itself, and I lose my $50,000, and we both move on poorer but wiser. [JWR Adds: In actuality, if the foreclosure sale results an a $200,000 price, then, in theory, the homeowner loses $100,000 and is still obligated to repay the $50,000 shortfall to the bank. (One exception is in states with "non-recourse" loan laws.) But from a practical standpoint, this doesn't always happen, even where it is the law.]

Except that the bank doesn't sell.

Understanding why is the most important lesson of the current financial crisis. The good news is that it's actually pretty simple.

Let's imagine a bank with a million loans just like mine. That means it has $250 billion dollars of debt across the million houses. In normal times this isn't a problem, because the bank will make back this amount of money plus interest over the next 20 years or so as everyone pays back their mortgages. The bank makes money, people get houses, and everyone is happy.

Now even in normal times, things can still go bad on some houses, and the bank might lose money on some loans. So the bank needs some reserve cash to act as a buffer against trouble. Let's say it's got a 10% buffer – that is, it has $25 billion dollars of cash lying around as a buffer against its $250 billion in mortgages.

So far so good, as long as things don't go really bad. Which they do.

Let's say houses lose on average one third of their value – so my $300,000 house drops in value to $200,000.

And let's say the bank forecloses on all its loans and sells all the houses for their true current value of $200,000. The bank loses $50,000 on each sale, so for 1 million houses, that means the bank loses a total of $50 billion.

Now the bank had a cash buffer against bad times, so things should be okay, right? Well, the answer depends entirely on how much the housing prices drop and how big the buffer is. In this case, the bank had a buffer of 10% of the total loans ($25 billion), so if it loses $50 billion foreclosing all the loans and selling all the houses, then the bank has a problem. It has not only used up all of its buffer, but it still needs to find another $25 billion.

In other words, the bank is bankrupt, big time. No one wants a bank worth minus $25 billion.

So what’s the bank to do? Well, if the whole situation is exactly as described above, then the bank is bankrupt and everyone at the bank is out of a job. But how can a bank with $25 billion in cash (the buffer) be bankrupt? I mean, the bank manager can walk down to the vault and feel all that money, and it's a lot of money!

The problem is that the bankruptcy is only theoretical until the bank actually forecloses on all of the houses and sells them at their true market price. So the bank avoids foreclosing, or if it is forced to foreclose, it avoids selling the houses – that way it can pretend that things are not as bad as they seem.

To do this, the bank has to engage in some creative accounting – in other words – lie. It needs to pretend that the housing crisis is not as bad as it seems and pretend that the true worth of the houses is not really $200,000, but maybe something closer to $250,000. But how?

Well, the bank deliberately sells only a few houses. And surprisingly, it sells the best houses on its books rather than the worst. This way, the bank sells a few houses for, say, $240,000, and claims that these are the worst houses, and that sure, it will lose some money along the way, but overall the buffer will be enough, and that things will get better in the future, and so the bank isn't bankrupt and everyone at the bank keeps their job (and bonuses).

So it is in the interests of the bank to avoid facing the true value of the houses, which means avoiding selling poor houses, and avoiding foreclosing where possible.

Now despite the enormity of the situation, most bankers are not bad people through and through. Most would find it hard to sleep at night if the situation described above was crystal clear to them. So the banker needs to engage in some psychological gymnastics to avoid facing grim reality.

The bankers persuade themselves that while things might be fairly bad at the moment (of course, not as bad as reality, but still, pretty bad), if things get better in the near future, then the problem evaporates and the bank is ok.

In our example, the bankers might persuade themselves that the houses are now worth $226,000 each, which if all foreclosed and sold would use up $24 billion of the $25 billion buffer (so, happily, the bank isn't bankrupt, just in difficult times). But if everyone just holds on and waits a few years, the houses will go back up to, say, $270,000, and so everything will eventually be alright (even if the home owner has still taken a bit of a dive).

And here's the crucial psychological trick – the banker might be right. Who knows what the future will bring? Maybe things will get better, and all the worry was for nothing. So the banker engages in some fudging around home sales, throws in a dash of good old optimism, and presto, no crisis.

And you know what? This strategy has been a pretty good strategy in the past. Things have gotten better more often than not, and banks and home owners avoided a whole lot of trouble by skipping over temporary bank insolvency until times were better again.

But sometimes things don't get better. Or more exactly, they don't get better soon enough.

So what happens then? What happens when things don't get better, and banks are stuck in a situation where they really are insolvent, but they are fudging the books and engaging in optimistic self-deception to avoid facing this reality? You get a “Zombie” bank. A bank that is actually dead, but still walking around acting as if it is alive.

And worst of all, we all know what Zombies do. They eat the living.

So Zombie banks try to solve their problems by draining money from the parts of society that are doing well – other successful businesses, home owners with good mortgages, and so on. They do this by charging more than they should for loans using unfairly high interest rates.

Now in a normal free market with lots of competing banks, this strategy wouldn't work, because the banks who are free of bad mortgages would charge businesses and people a fair interest rate, and because this rate would be lower than the Zombie bank rate (because the Zombies need to charge higher rates to make up for their bad past loans), no one would go to a Zombie bank for a high interest rate loan.

So the free market works – good banks make fair loans to healthy businesses and people, bad banks fail to get new business because their rates are too high, and eventually the bad banks go bust.

Except this isn't what is happening today.

In today's world, almost every bank is full of bad mortgages. So every bank is now a Zombie bank – and there is nowhere else to go for a loan with a fair interest rate.

In other words, the successful businesses and people of today are paying extra above the fair rate they would otherwise pay in order to help the banks recover from their bad loans of the past. It’s like a tax on successful businesses and people today to make up for the mistakes of bankers from yesterday.

Now even this lousy approach has sometimes worked in the past. When it works, you get slower growth, because the successful businesses and people are paying more than they should for loans (so the businesses have less money to employ staff, the people have less money to buy goods and services), but so long as the total Zombie bank “tax” is less than the pace of new growth, things work out eventually.

But what happens when grow is poor? When businesses can barely employ the staff they have even at a fair interest rate?

Well, that is where we are now. A society full of Zombie banks charging too much for loans to make up for past mistakes just at a time where society is barely keeping its head above water as it is.

Now this story simplifies many complicated dimensions of the banking and mortgage market, such as how housing prices drop with increased supply (selling a million houses at once would force the prices down even more, because there wouldn’t be enough buyers) and how banks avoid foreclosure by dropping monthly repayments to levels that will never pay off the mortgage, but which are enough for the bank to pretend it doesn’t need to foreclose. There are hundreds of other factors, such as how some banks sold the mortgages to other banks or government, how government keeps interest rates low to avoid even more foreclosures, and so on.

But none of these factors change the fundamental problem – the banks are broke due to bad loans, and they’re hiding it in the hope that things will get better.

And here's the dilemma that may cost us our comfortable life as we know it – we can't get out of this trap. We either face the fact that our whole banking system is bankrupt with all the chaos that this would entail, or we stumble on with the undead ruling the finances of our society, trying to regain life by sucking it out of the living, but in the end only destroying the living without regaining new life.

And all for three bad decisions: first, too many bad loans to start with, then second, dodgy home sales to hide true losses, and finally, believing the world will get better soon when it won't.

Sometimes optimism is the worst approach to life.

Mr. Rawles,
I was very happy to read the recent SurvivalBlog article about the importance of couponing as a means of stocking up. Without using coupons there is no way my family could have the variety of food storage it has. I would like to add a couple of tips GRITS didn't mention though. I like to use this web site Coupon Database to find coupons on products I want. You simply search for a product and it comes up with a list of everywhere you can find the coupon, whether you can print it online ( doesn't seem to work for Mozilla though so you'll want to use a different web browser specifically for coupon printing) or find it in a Sunday newspaper insert. Using the coupon database web site you don't have to clip coupons, just save and date your inserts then search for the coupon you want online, and clip it then, this saves a lot of time. Another method I use for coupon gathering is getting free samples, all free samples come with coupons, that way once you try the product you're more likely to purchase it. My favorite freebie web site is Sweet Free Stuff you can either explore the site or have a daily e-mail with a list of freebies sent to you, I promise, they only send one e-mail a day so no major junking up of your inbox. It's also important to know the prices of staples at your local grocery stores, you may not always be able to get a coupon for certain items but if you know the regular price you know when a sale is actually a sale. For example, one of the two available grocery stores in the town nearest my part of the boondocks has canned peas, corn, and green beans on sale for 33 cents a can one week every other month. That one week is the only time we buy those specific canned veggies. GRITS did mention CVS and I have to say that is my favorite place to save money. Shopping at CVS is really a matter of knowing how to work the system because using their extra bucks requires a bit more work than just coupons alone. You'll want to look over the CVS circular first to find the best extra bucks deal, each week they feature at least one item that you'll essentially get for free because they'll give you the money back in extra bucks, once you find that item, find a coupon to go along with it, that way you're getting CVS to pay you for purchasing something from them. From there you can look for the items they have on sale that match up with your coupons, find the best deals and use the extra bucks they've just given you, plus your coupons to get items pract