September 2010 Archives

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Today we present the final 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 31 begins tomorrow, 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’ll be the first to admit this is my first visit to SurvivalBlog, and I only received copy of "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" yesterday, but I finished reading it yesterday as well. I’ve always had what I like to call a “jack of all trades” mentality, as soon as I begin to feel competent in one skill, I have a strong urge to begin the learning process anew and expand my base of knowledge.

I’ve been reading through the articles previously posted, and while extremely helpful and informative, I feel I have found a few gaps.  Many critically important things are mentioned casually or in passing, and then simply left there by the wayside.  I hope with this article to give a brief overview to fill in some holes, at least as they intersect with my current skill set. (Give me another five years before TEOTWAWKI and I’m sure I'll have a bunch more unimportant titles to my name, but much more useful information too.)

Fire Fighting

It has been mentioned before that firefighting may be a necessity not just for a specialized few come TEOTWAWKI, however I have yet to see mention of skills and strategies.  Obviously the most effective way to increase your skills in firefighting is to join your local fire department.  In the ideal scenario, almost all firefighting operations today are performed by volunteers.  If you are able to do this, that is a double positive, you are gaining advanced skills, and building stronger ties to your community, and your community stronger ties with you.  If that is not an option, then you must first consider each type of fire, its main causes, and things you can do to mitigate that both pre and post SHTF.  It takes over 1 million firefighters (according to FEMA) to maintain our current fire free lifestyle. After TEOTWAWKI, it's not a question of if you will encounter fire, but when and how often.

Wildfires burn every year, worldwide, and from Alaska to Florida. Admittedly, one of the reasons wildfire has become such a problem in civilized world is civilization's fault.  When you aggressively fight small fires, that would naturally burn off underbrush you cause a build-up of that underbrush.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, our trees, which are naturally fire resistant, can really only take so much.  Eventually enough underbrush is built up and on the next fire, the entire forest lights from top to bottom, this is bad because the same stuff that makes them fire resistant burns extremely well once lit.  This is the situation you’ll face when your area goes up for the first time in TEOTWAWKI, presuming you live somewhere with forests of evergreen trees.

But all is not lost!  If you can afford the space, and increased visibility--remember that staying hidden for the beginning of TEOTWAWKI, may be more important than fire safety, and with the right tools this modification could be made post a few months when things in your area are largely quiet (hopefully) you can vastly increase your margin of safety by cutting down any trees or shrubs for a 100 foot thick barrier between the forest and you.  The forest service usually recommends doing this in a 100’ circle from the edge of your house (50’ is considered the absolute minimum, but remember were not going for making the firefighters jobs easier here, were hoping to completely protect you from the fire in the first place) however for the situation were planning for the most effective way would be to make your 100-foot barrier by cutting out from your perimeter fence line into the forest.  This gives multiple benefits to you:

  • You have vastly increased visibility of people that are approaching your dwelling(s) and outbuildings
  • It would be extremely difficult for anyone to cover 100 feet of completely cleared terrain without being noticed by active lookouts
  • It ensures that not just your house, but indeed your generator your garden, any fruit trees you have, your vehicle, etc. all share the same “island from the fire” status. 

You can use this land to grow short grasses for animal grazing (nothing taller than 6 inches, please) if the idea of clearing land and doing nothing with it really just doesn’t settle with you but at the very center along the fence line you must have five feet of actually clear ground to prevent the grass fire that may ensue from spreading into the compound.  Especially if you choose to keep a wild grass on this perimeter, it is still important to be armed with a large diameter hose ready to put out the errant spark or to wet the ground to prevent the much smaller grass fire from encroaching on your compound.

If your entire house catches on fire, you’re quickly no better off than any other joe blow, so the most important safety factor here is prevention.  Good habits from you and your family and new extended family come TEOTWAWKI must all remember the basic fire rules, but those are predominantly common knowledge so I’ll skip them for now.  You should never have to leave the room to get a fire extinguisher, especially if you are in the kitchen or any room that regularly has a heating source in it (garage, living room, workshop etc)  If you are using a standard compact fire extinguisher it is only rated to put out a wood and natural fuels fire with a base of 1 square foot in the hands of an “average person” (the ratings are listed at ~60% of the actual carrying capacity, on the presumption that the average person will waste a significant portion failing to Pull Aim Squeeze Swipe (PASS) effectively).  If you must leave for even a minute to obtain the fire extinguisher most likely you will be too late to be effective.

If you have any doubts about “wasting” a fire extinguisher by putting one in each bedroom and the hallway, and essentially any and every room,  just youtube a video of a couch or a bed fire.  Most of the items we have today are made with a significant amount of petroleum in them.  A plastic table puts out the same BTUs when it burns as around 10 gallons of gasoline, and a large CRT monitor's case can be the equivalent of almost 5 gallons.

Okay, so the SHTF and the whole room is on fire. Fortunately for you modern construction buys you a little time.  Your house is certainly going to be the worse for the wear, and depending on how many holes you have punched through it for doors, electrical sockets, light switches etc, your time will vary, but each piece of drywall a fire must pass through should take approximately 5 min.  Now today, I absolutely recommend leaving your house and calling 911 in the event of a fire, big or small.  However, in a future where that is not possible, and your life depends on that structure, and I stress this point, because fighting a fire with improvised gear and training puts lives at risk, then here are my recommendations.
Have at least 2 teams of 2 designated as the fire squad, this way you can always have one pair available when needed.  Lay in at least 4 sets of firefighter turnouts (if possible, they are expensive), or in a pinch lay in the heaviest and tightest woven wool jackets and pants available at your local Goodwill (don’t be afraid to do this over a period of time because you need true quality ones).  Additionally invest in at least (and I stress this as a minimum) 4, 3-cuft canisters of spare air, this size is approximately the size of a mans forearm, and weighs only a few pounds.   An SCBA (a typical firefighting breathing apparatus) is safer, because of its Positive pressure airflow system (if you crack the mask air comes rushing out of the hole, to keep any smoke from rushing in), but is logistically unrealistic even for the most well off, and the minimum weight for an SCBA rig is 30 lbs, which is simply not something you need to be adding when you’re already having the fight of your life.  The spare air design is fairly simple and basic, it’s a canister with a built in gauge regulator and mouthpiece, in the event of capsizing your kayak and getting stuck headfirst underwater or running out of air diving it is designed to give you the extra breaths needed to save your life.  This size gives ~57 breaths on the surface but keep your lips tight on it, you want to breathe the air in the canister, not the smoke in the room.  You will also need a properly installed hose (as discussed in "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It"), heat resistant goggles a wool balaclava, thick welders or barbequers gloves, and thick heavy boots without a steel shank (leather or durable black rubber can work here)  you will have less than 1 minute to gather and put these supplies on, so keep them in 1 spot, never ever move them, and practice just in case.  You will also need an axe, hatchet, heavy duty hammer, pry bar or basically anything to tear open a wall, but you should already have all, if not one of those tools for many other purposes around the house.

Enter with a 1.5-2 inch pressurized hoseline with firefighter tip (at least 50PSI to keep the flow of water coming out fast enough) and stay low, it can be more than 100 degrees cooler on the floor of a burning building than at 6’ so keep your head down, never be taller than a crouch.  Always keep one hand on the hoseline, always, since it is dark, noisy and if you lose your hoseline, you lose the only guaranteed way in and out of the environment you just entered.  As soon as you see smoke, begin breathing from your canned air( modern firefighters everywhere except require breathing before entering the building except for sky scrapers, but in this situation the risk of running out of air before the operation is done outweighs the extremely small risk of carbon monoxide contamination without other signs of combustion in room), and counting your breath (or time if you can resist the urge to breath faster with the panic 57 breaths should last ~5 min, but start leaving at 3 at the latest).  Attack the fire with a relatively narrow stream (firefighter tips will give everything from pure fog to a nearly perfect jet of water, stay somewhere between jet and 1’ wide at base of fire or you will find yourself moving a lot of hot smoke and ash around the room and right into your face).  Hit the fire hard at its base, you cant put out the flames you see in the air, it is the burning material at the bottom you need to be concerned about.  Once you have the fire “knocked back” as they call it, or basically what appears to be dying off, you need to open some windows to get airflow through the room, and you need to start tearing apart the walls.  It is critically important that you find any fire that has escaped into the wall and extinguish it before it has a chance to grow somewhere else.   Again, I hope no one ever has to fight their own home fire, it will be a tough situation, but in TEOTWAWKI, your life depends on your well stocked retreat, and in my opinion at least, it is worth risking my life to protect the safety and security of my friends and family. 

Medical Notes

The most important medical item that I feel that has not been fully covered in SurvivalBlog is advanced medications, and how to obtain them.  It is remarkably simple if you are a trustworthy person and have a good relationship with your family physician. There are many items that are critical to have, which today require prescriptions to obtain.  This either means looting in the perfect place when SHTF, stocking them ahead of time, or doing without. 

The easiest and least deceitful way is to talk with your doctor about your planning, and to ask them if they would be willing to write the required prescriptions.  Have a list, and be prepared to explain exactly why you would want each one, and swear up and down that you will not abuse it, this method may still fail, and may ruin your relationship with your Dr.  but you may luck out and he may be willing to make some or all of your needed prescriptions. If not… well… there are reasons doctors see as more fit than “I'm preparing for the end of the world”

 There are several methods to get antibiotics stockpiled for someday to come, but you must do this fairly regularly since, even though they will last longer than their 1 year marked shelf life, they do not last forever.   Talk to your doctor about a trip to Mexico, or other are notorious for bad water (in my case it was Belize), and ask if they can set you up with a precautionary prescription to take with you.  You will get a 10 day supply per person (each custom dosed, so only adults can switch, or similarly sized children, please don’t give an adult dose to a child even in TEOTWAWKI) of one of the strongest and least commonly resisted antibiotics we have today, it does however have annoying side effects (you will sunburn easily, and feel horrible) but personally I’d rather survive pneumonia, then sunbathe for two weeks.

Another method for obtaining quick packs of antibiotics, which have less side effects, only require a few pills typically, and might keep longer (because they come in foil sealed packets rather than an open air bottle) is to lie more directly (but it is very important to only use these antibiotics come TEOTWAWKI… modern medicine already uses antibiotics too often, increasing their frivolous use because you “felt like you had a cold” will only make more problems).  The next time you have a good congested nose, make an appointment with your Dr.  Tell him about your greenish yellow mucus discharge, productive cough, and severe sinus pressure with pain on touch, and he will most likely prescribe you a course of antibiotics and some Sudafed for your “sinus infection”.

Clotting factors:
Now your body has multiple, extremely complicated systems for clotting which are quite frankly amazing, but sometimes not enough.  In the event of a TEOTWAWKI +1 gunshot wound, you’re going to need something to help you clot, you could use the packaged Quick-clot or its equivalent, but these are messy and require being cleaned out surgically before healing can begin.  The best option in my opinion is a Chitin based bandage, these come in band-aid size to 4x4 and larger, but 2x2 is the most versatile.  But anything larger than Band-Aid sized requires a prescription.  My recommendation is to talk with a doctor about extended backpacking trips or hunting trips, and express concern that a severe wound received on the trail would prove fatal before making it back to society.  These bandages are relatively harmless, and have been quickly making their way from military only, to Military and EMS, to prescription, to OTC for Band-Aid size, so in a few more years the 2 x 2s may even be OTC as well, however in the mean time, the doctor will most likely be accommodating on that option.

Pain medication:
If you are going to have to repair a Gunshot Wound (GSW) Advil will simply not cut it.  Even if you are able to restrain your patient, the trauma of experiencing that kind of pain greatly reduces survival rate.  Even something as simple as a Tylenol narcotic mix, commonly prescribed for minor back pain or post surgical pain, will do wonders for reducing the strain during that trying time.  This one will be much harder to obtain.  One option is to horde all your left over medication, noting the size of the person for whom it was prescribed at the time it was prescribed on the bottle. (you can give doses for smaller people to bigger people easily with pain medication, however you should carefully think about anything that involves giving a larger person's dose to a smaller person).  Another option here is to obtain veterinarian quality pain medications, they are not appropriate for human consumption under normal circumstances, and may be almost as hard to obtain as human, but it is another route you can take.  Take extra caution with certain vet medications, ketamine, for ex is an extremely powerful hallucinogenic in many adults, however kids can take it quite safely (in the appropriate doses).  One final option, that could be a last resort is illegal street medications, heroin acts extremely similarly in the body to morphine (one of the most common heavy pain killers).  The largest problem with relying on street medications is impurity (often cut with things that are actually quite hard on your body, and wear on your heart valves in long term use), inability to know dosage concentration (because it’s a street drug, no dealers going to list 15mg heroin/mL dose on the side of his little syringe), and obviously the fact that its illegal.

IV supplies: 
These will be useful for hydration during an emergency operation, during rehydration for a potential refugee you pick up, or for administering the aforementioned pain medications.
Again if reasoning and pleading with your doctor fails, and you can’t simply borrow some supplies from work or a friend, the easiest way to obtain these is through your vet.  Cats commonly experience kidney failure during the end of their lives, aggressive treatment plans involve giving IV bags to families and having them administer 200-500 mL of Lactated ringers IV solution subcutaneous to their kitty every day.  If you care about your cat and they are experiencing kidney failure, please do not short the prescribed dose, instead change tubing slightly less often than they recommend, and once a month or so, claim to have screwed up and wasted a bag, the vet will happily sell you an extra one while you stockpile needles tubing and IV bags in your retreat.  IV fluids won’t keep forever, but if stored in a cool dark place, they can last years past their expiration date, if I needed one in TEOTWAWKI my rule of thumb would be to check the fluid itself, If it’s still clear with no punctures in the bag or cloudiness or flakes (which would be signs of bacterial growth) I would give it a go.

I can't wait to read the sequels to your novel. I'm writing on the topic of pre-electronic ignition diesel trucks -- preferably a 1998 model year or older Dodge with the 5.9 Cummins engine.

Having serviced and rebuilt several of these engines I am familiar with the design, and it is certainly my favorite. I won't go into much detail on the 24-valve engine because they may not be of use in the event of an EMP, or a grid-down collapse where diagnostics cannot be performed. (For reference, there is the 12 valve- '89-'98 5.9 Manual (non computer/electronic) Cummins Engine with 12 valves, 6 intake and 6 exhaust, and the 24 valve- '99-'08 computer controlled 5.9 Cummins Engine, having 24 valves,12 intake and 12 exhaust.)

First let's look at the difference in some of the engines that Cummins made for Dodge in the '89-'98 time table. '89-'93 12-valve 5.9 Cummins engines came with a rotary style fuel pump known as the "VE" pump. This small pump is considered undesirable by most performance/horsepower seekers because you are limited to how far you can "turn it up" These pre-'94 engines will also accept the '94-'98 Bosch style fuel pump, which I highly recommend. Just know what you are doing if you change one, or contact your local diesel repair shop and have it done. Timing is key, get it one tooth off and it won't run!

The '94-'98 engines are the most popular, mainly because they already have the Bosch-style fuel pump. These fuel pumps can be "tweaked" (by a knowledgeable service person) to almost unheard-of pressures. Considering that a stock pump will take 10 to 15 lbs. of fuel pressure from the lift pump and increase it to almost 4,000 lbs. for maximum atomization in the cylinder, you really need to know what you are doing doing before messing with the pump. I recommend a 10 to 15% increase above stock settings for the "sweet spot" for power and fuel economy. Much more than that and you start getting into exhaust gas temps that could melt your turbo or blow a head gasket. I've seen a lot of guys also use a trick of blocking the waste gate on the turbo for more power. However this almost always ends with a blown head gasket and in a TEOTWAWKI situation this would be detrimental.

Regarding bio-diesel: From what I've seen, bio-diesel is better than petroleum-based diesel in both lubrication of fuel systems and horsepower and fuel economy. But it is slightly acidic. It is murder on rubber, I've talked to several people who've replaced fuel lines because it "ate" the rubber lining and continually clogs up the fuel filter. I would recommend solid steel lines for all diesel engines whether you are running petroleum based fuel or french fry grease.

Things to look for when buying a truck with a 5.9 12 valve Cummins engine: These little engines are notorious for leaking oil. Most diesel engines with miles on them will. But don't worry about that, it is a diamond in the rough. 12-valves have a knack for vibrating the bolts on the front gear cover and oil pan loose. I've had guys bring them to me, thinking that their front main seal was leaking, and all we had to do was re-torque the front cover and oil pan to stop the leak. Sometimes however, new gaskets are needed. That can get quite expensive, because you have to remove almost the entire front of the engine to do it. Also, look for a pinhole to a 1/4-inch hole in the front cover, just to the right of the oil filler tube. Some of the engines have a pin in the camshaft that works loose and will wear a hole in the front cover, causing an oil leak. Eventually, the pin can fall into the gears behind the cover, and really mess things up. I believe this was re-called by the factory, so many have been corrected. If not, make sure you get this fixed, leaking oil or not. Also, with it running, inspect all 6 injectors. If any are leaking fuel replace them! This can cause your cylinder to "wash out" and will cause a blown head gasket along with scoring of the cylinder walls, meaning an overhaul! If you catch it in time, this is not a big deal at all, just don't let it go for an extended period.

Another item to look for is the fuel pump. The older VE pump is round and is located on the driver's side of the engine, just above the power steering pump. It can be identified by the fuel lines running out the back of it to the injectors. (The proper term is spray nozzles but I call them injectors). The newer Bosch style pumps are approx. 12 to 14 inches long and are about 8 inches tall. They are located in the same place as the VE pump and have 6 fuel lines running out of the top of the pump going to each injector.

Another point I'd like to make is about black smoke. I know that some think black smoke is cool. But in fact, the smoke is black because the engine is exhausting un-burnt fuel when the valve opens. This is a result of turning up the pump or reprogramming your CPU, but not attending to anything else. Everyone knows that to have fire, you need fuel, oxygen, and spark. Diesels get their spark from the compression of atomized fuel and air, too much fuel (and not enough air) can result in an incomplete burn. If you feed it more, it has to breathe better, by both intake and exhaust, to maximize your efforts. Otherwise you are just losing fuel and money out the exhaust pipe. That is why I only recommend a 10 to 15% increase. That's the happy place, without having to worry about opening up the lungs.

For all you who have other makes of trucks, there is hope. Whether you have gas or diesel engines now, there is a place that sells installation kits to put a 5.9 Cummins into your truck. I have no affiliation with these guys, and there are other kits available, but I like the one sold at They will even sell you an engine, but I think they are a bit pricey on them. But, I can do the rebuild myself so I am partial.

These Cummins engines can be found all over, in school buses, medium sized delivery and dump trucks, generators (mostly the trailer-mounted ones that the highway department uses), sandblasters (same as the generators), and I believe that all manufacturers used this engine in their larger trucks, but only Dodge used them in pickups.

It's an amazing little engine and has a long life if maintained properly, I personally own one with just under 700,000 miles on it! I did have to rebuild it at 475,000 because of the "washed out" cylinder that I told you about earlier. Had I caught that in time, I may not have even have had to rebuild it.

I'm no expert, and just thought I'd add my two cents. I'm certain that I've missed a few things and may not be 100% correct on some, but I know that the pool of SurvivalBlog readers could add to where I've fallen short.

God Bless, - Gary in Kentucky

Ten signs that the U.S. is Losing it Influence in the Western Hemisphere. (A hat tip to Paul W. for the link.)

   o o o

More Celebrities Than Ever Are Carrying Firearms. The blatant favoritism in permit issuance is a scandal that has never been fully exposed. New York City has had a long succession of Teflon-coated mayors. The gun permit scandal doesn't stick where it should!

   o o o

Bird Flu Simmers. (Thanks to Ken J. for the link.)

   o o o

J.H. sent this article from the Guardian: Campaign to save Pavlovsk seed bank from being turned over to housing developers. (As one of the commentators added: Technically, it is a field gene bank, not a seed bank.)


"Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because most people don't want to admit they don't have the courage to do anything about it. Most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all." - Michael Rivero

Wednesday, September 29, 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.

Hello James:
In many ways, communities behave like biological organisms. They respond to foreign invaders like our bodies respond to the flu virus. They respond to “us” like our bodies respond to “us”. They may not actively nourish teeth, hair or fingernails, but they do not reject them either.

One key aspect to creating community is to be visible before the balloon goes up.

I run for exercise. I tend to wear the same kinds of outfit every time I run: a swim trunks and a brown tie-dyed shirt. My runs extend 8 miles out. Some Sundays I run home from church (8 miles). A couple of days a year I run home from work (12 miles). Most runs are a circular route or an out-and-back that stays within 4.5 miles of home.

I like to run my routes in both directions. Inertia makes it easy to run the same route the same way each time. But there are major dividends to mixing it up. You will be amazed at what you see when you travel a favorite path in reverse. In fact, one of the prime rules to avoid getting lost is to keep looking back because things look totally different when viewed from the other direction.

You will see berry patches, fruit trees, prime trapping spots, hop vines, out-buildings, open water, salvageable junk that you never knew was there.

Another advantage of traveling different routes and favorite routes in reverse is that you will see people and people will see you.

An iconic event in my life is the day after a tornado went down our driveway and leveled four of our outbuildings, including a full-sized, hip-roofed barn. The day after the tornado was marked by 60-mph winds. Directly downwind of our shredded barns was the house of an 80 year-old couple. I spent the day latching hold of sheet metal roofing, and attempting to anchor it down.

Finally, I ran out of places to stash the 18” by 10’ long razor blades that the wind kept trying to launch downrange. I called a local salvage yard.

“Nope. I am full. I cannot take any more metal.”

“Wait a sec. Where did you say you live? What did you say your name is?”

“Come by in an hour. I will make some room”

Danny stacked a couple of car bodies on top of an adjacent double stack to make room. After laying down a couple of truck loads of roofing metal he anchored it down with the car bodies.

He explained to me: “People look down on people in the salvage business. It took me a minute to figure out who you were. You and your wife wave at me when you are out walking… like you are glad to see me. Heck, you even waved me down once and asked me about what kind of softball bat to get your daughter. You let me know that my opinion carried weight with you. That may not be a big deal to a lot of people. But it is a big deal to me. Out here, treating people with respect counts for something.”

It was never my expectation that I would gain something by treating Danny with respect. My basic outlook on life is that all pedestrians should treat those piloting 6,000-lb. machines with respect.

Another seminal story from my life was when our daughter took our family down to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans as a graduated senior from high school. Our family tradition is to go on a ‘senior class trip’ with our family. The graduated senior plans a family trip that is in alignment with our family values. Instead of spending thousands of dollars sending an almost-adult on an unsupervised trip where they will be subjected to much temptation to do things not in alignment with our family values, we put a like amount in an account and let the almost-adult plan a trip. Our daughter chose post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans and rebuilding/refurbishing housing. I cannot remember when I have been more proud of my daughter.

She made reservations in a hotel on the North side of the Ninth Ward. I remember chatting with the clerk at the front desk. New Orleans can be a very tough town. He (a Caucasian) could walk at-will….but only because he was local and he was known. Even so, he had a limited corridor where he felt safe (known) traveling and he had a limited time horizon of when he was part of the local ecosystem. He had no words strong enough to explain the stupidity of non-natives going into pedestrian mode in that neighborhood. I believed him.

Another character from my life was Carol E. She was in her 50s when I was in my mid-teens. She had lived the life of an adventurer. She had hiked in Tibet. She had rafted the headwaters of the Ganges. She had hitchhiked and ridden trains across Europe.

As a doddering 55 year old, she regularly crisscrossed three counties in central Michigan. She was a fixture. She knew where the water-cress grew. She knew where the young bucks threw their returnable beverage containers. The dogs barked at her, but only to say “Hello”.

We came into her orbit because we lived a scant four miles from her home and we had apple trees. She very politely asked my dad if he minded her eating one from the ground when her travels took her by our place. Of course he did not mind, being of the opinion he would rather give a gift and gain another neighbor who felt protective of us than to say “No” and gain ill-will (and she might take them anyway).

I learned a fair amount from her as the apple season progressed from the Jerseymac apples, to the Gala, the Liberty, Jonafree, Northern Spy and finally, Gold Rush.

The take-home is that she had right-of-passage nearly everywhere within 15 miles of her home because she exercised and maintained it. She was a familiar, and therefore accepted, member of the local social ecosystem. - Joe H.

In the 1940s, the accident rate among aircraft in the United States was horrendous, especially for small private aircraft. Many lives were lost and airplanes mangled due to often preventable causes. By the mid-1950s, the accident rates had dropped by 30-50%, depending on what numbers you look at. What happened to make such a dramatic change? The answer is the prevalent use of checklists for all phases of flight. Every aircraft today, from a tiny Cessna to a giant airliner, has checklist for every procedure from preflight inspection to securing the aircraft after parking.

Checklists are important for a few reasons. The first is human nature and complacency. If you do something often, it goes into muscle memory and you don't really have to think about it anymore. As a result, you might start to take shortcuts. How many times have you gotten in your car and realized that the radio was turned up way too loud, or the air conditioning left blasting from the previous hot afternoon? It's because your complacency in driving let you forget these minor details of configuring your car. You don't really need a checklist for driving, because most of these minor changes don't have any impact on safety and are more annoying than anything else. However, forgetting to set the flaps or change fuel tanks on an airplane can have dire safety consequences, and so good pilots use checklists on every single flight.

The second reason checklists are important is stress. When your airplane's engine is on fire and smoke is filling the cockpit is not the time to be deciding on how to handle that type of emergency. That time is when you (or better yet, the aircraft designer) are calm and not under any stress or time pressure. In those circumstances you are far more likely to make sound, correct decisions than when your heart is hammering and your hands are shaking.

A final great, and often overlooked, reason for checklists is that it gives your mind something to do. Instead of bouncing around, trying to figure out a coherent plan, your brain is given a very linear progression of small tasks to accomplish. This keeps you from getting panicked or freezing up, because all you have to do is follow the list. Your mind won't have time to ponder how scary or dangerous your situation is, because it's preoccupied with the checklist tasks.

Checklists for Survival

Survivalism has many of the same aspects as flying does -- it's a potentially dangerous activity that requires specific actions to accomplish successfully, and has very small margins for getting those tasks wrong or out of order. Because of this, I think aviation-style checklists are an excellent resource for survival in a wide variety of circumstances. I do not think that survivalists should use a set of generic set of checklists generated by someone else. You know your circumstances and resources better than anybody; for this reason it's very important to develop your own checklists that take these into account. A childless couple living in the suburbs will have vastly different checklists than a large family living in the country, and what may work for one may be a sure-fire recipe for failure for another.

So how does an individual or family develop checklists? First, try to be specific about the circumstances where the checklist applies. "Natural Disaster" is too vague for a checklist, but "Forest Fire Near Home" is specific enough to be very helpful in that circumstance. You could also have "at home" and "away from home" checklists, since the response to an EMP (for example) would be much different depending on if you are at home or not when the event happens. You can also reference one checklist from another (i.e. "if condition X, go to Y checklist). This means you'll end up with a bunch of checklists. If you look at pilot shops ( and are a couple online) you can find checklist binders and similar ways to organize your checklists.

Try to lay out your checklists in small chunks that don't require much thought. Anything that requires decisions should be broken down into sub-tasks as much as possible. The goal is to have all your decisions already made. And order things logically -- for example, it makes no sense to put "check fuel level" after "leave home." Check the fuel first, when you might be in a position to do something about it.

A Sample Checklist

Here's a sample based on our forest fire example. Don't criticize it too much, I'm just pulling it off the top of my head!

Forest fire near home:

  1. If heavy smoke is present, wear filter mask or respirator and goggles.
  2. Family in vehicle 1 -- send to nearest safe area.
  3. Move vehicle 2 to locate for rapid egress from area.
  4. Turn on outside water spigots.
  5. Using hose, spray water on roof and walls to retard fire damage.

If smoke becomes heavy, or flames are visible, use rapid bugout checklist.

Hopefully this gives folks some ideas on how to use and organize their checklists. The more scenarios you can envision and make checklists for, the easier it will be to have a plan for something when it happens. You might be able to adapt an existing list to an event for which no list exists, but that requires more thought than we'd like to expend under stress. Finally, let me stress this is not a magic wand that will make all things go smoothly, but it does increase your chances of doing to the right thing at the right time, and in my mind that is worth a whole lot.

Dirk W. sent us this news story: The New Resource Wars: What if China Stops Exporting Rare Elements?

   o o o

The Heat Wave that Changed American History. (Thanks to "T-Moo" for the link.)

   o o o

Safecastle's big sale ends tomorrow--Thursday, Sept. 30th. This is their last 25% off sale on Mountain House canned storage foods for 2010, with some free bonus items, depending on the size of your order. Safecastle also resumed stocking real canned butter, from Holland. Don't miss out!

   o o o

EliteT sent this from CNN: Why is 'food security' sparking unrest?

   o o o

Bill M. in New York flagged this: Who is watching you? Nine Industries that know your every move.

"War has taught me that each one of us contains every ingredient of the human recipe. By varying measure we are all cowards and brave men, thieves and honest men, selfish and selfless men, malingerers and champions, weasels and lions. The only question is how much of each attribute we allow- or force - to dominate our being." - Eric L. Haney, Command Sergeant Major US Army, from his book "Inside Delta Force"

Tuesday, September 28, 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.

Welcome to the second installment of Dirty Medicine.  Today we are going to be discussing something that will be beneficial on a few different levels.  It can help you stop uncontrolled bleeding, prevent infection, and repair skin.  That’s right, we are going to talk about sutures, also called stitches, today.

Starting off we are going to need to define what materials will be needed, both for practice and for real life situations.  The most obvious item needed is going to be some sort of suture material.  Suture materials come in various thread compositions as well as sizes.  Something like Chromic Gut (cat Gut) or Polyglycolic Acid is best used for inside the body or mouth as these dissolve after a week or so.  Polypropylene or Ethicon would be better served for skin closer or for tying off a bleeder.

My preferred site for obtaining suture materials is They have a fairly narrow range of products supply, but their prices are extremely reasonable.  I would recommend getting one or two of their Surgical Kits.  This will have everything you need to get started.  If that is not your cup of tea and you want to just buy your own stuff separately and design your kit(s) for certain scenarios/situations be sure that you get at a minimum some sutures.  I like to use a set of needle drivers, however in a pinch a Gerber or other similar multi-tool could work.  Another thing would be to get some scalpel blades to trim the skin up around the edge of the cut or incision, again a regular knife could work, but I prefer to have all the proper tools.  Some surgical scissors (I prefer the stainless steel variety, but there are some decent ones that are plastic). 

Now for the fun part!  Go to your local butcher (or your hog house) and acquire a pig foot for every member that will be practicing sutures (this number should be everyone in the family/group).  With the pigs foot thawed, i.e. not frozen, and soft like it was just cut off, make a cut anywhere in the foot/ankle region with a knife or scalpel.  Pig’s skin is a pretty close representation of human skin so it will give you a good idea of what it feels like to actually perform sutures.

At this point gather up all of your suturing supplies/suture kit and take a close look at the cut you just made in the foot.  Hopefully you used a sharp knife and the cut has straight edges and is a cut and not a “tear”.  If it does appear to be torn then take your surgical scalpel or whatever type of blade you will be using with your surgical kit and cut some of the skin off along the wound so that the edges of the wound are straight.  Now, opening up your sutures you will notice that the thread will be attached to the needle, just grab the needle away from the point with your needle drivers and lift out.  All of the thread will come out with it.  When holding the needle drivers with the needle in them, you want to use an “under-handed motion” to insert the sutures into the skin.  This means that the needle drivers should be in your dominant hand with the pointed (pliers-like) part pointing towards your non-dominant hand.  The needle should be held so it points away from the body with the pointed needle tip.

Most wounds will look similar to a “V” if looked at from the side, with the tops of the “v” being the sides of the skin and the “trough” of the “v” being the cut itself.  To suture you must place the needle in the skin from the side of the cut a little ways (usually a couple of millimeters will work; you just want to make sure it is far enough back to not tear through the skin when it is tightened).  Place the needle in the skin and angle it so it will cross the “v” about ¾ of the way down towards the point, then come out the other side of the “v”.  Once you see the needle break the skin you will want to let go of the back end of the needle and grab the tip and pull the thread through until there is only an inch to half-inch long tail on the other side of the wound. 

To tie the knot you will need to drop the needle (preferably onto a sterile surface) grab the long end that just came out of the wound with your non-dominant hand and wrap it around the shaft of the needle drivers.  Do this one single wrap for the first time.  Then open the needle drivers slightly and grab the small end of the thread and pull it through the loop you just made in the thread.  Pull this knot tight enough that the skin is aligned and closed, but be careful not to over tighten it to the point that the skin starts to turn up and look like a mountain.  Now do the same thing, this time however wrap the long thread 3 times around the needle drivers. The total amount of times you will want to wrap the thread around and pull it through is 4 times, the first you will do it once, the second will be 3 times, the third will be 2 times, and the last time will be 1 time again.  Now you can cut both the long thread and the tail, as close to the knot as possible.  This completes one suture. 

Congratulations on your first suture, however you are not done yet, now we must continue to do sutures until the entire wound is closed up.  I prefer to start in the middle of the wound and then keep dividing the wound in half, until the skin is completely closed up.  You do not have to put a suture every 2 mm or anything like that, just put sufficient amount that the skin edges are “joined” together and there is no break in the joint.  Just be careful to make sure you do not over tighten the knots.  You want the skin to be lined up, not look like the Rocky Mountains.

The important thing to remember is that sutures must be removed (except for the dissolvable ones that is).  The following is the recommended suture removal time based on what part of the body is sutured.  Face 3-5 days, scalp 7-8 days, chest and extremities 8-10 days, hands and joints 10-14 days, back 12-15 days.

Always make sure prior to wound closure that you debride the area and cleanse it, you wouldn’t want to lock that in the skin forever to cause infection.  Also be sure to check on the closure every day, look for signs that the sutures are ripping the skin, or the wound turning read, any sort of heat coming from the wound, discharges from the wound or bleeding from the wound.  These could all indicate either infection, or improper wound closure.

As always, practice and be prepared. 

James Wesley:
The movie Tomorrow When The War Began--a Red Dawn-style movie produced and set in Australia--is currently #1 in their box office reports. The story is based on a series of books that has been recommended reading in many middle schools. Currently no one is lined up for distribution rights in America, but after the last few days I'm sure there is a new interest by the money hungry studios.

And the series of books is available on Amazon. Regards, - Justin M.

The sport of Sporting Clays involves a variety of size and color clay targets thrown in high arcs, low fast passes, rolled along the ground, and in pairs overhead, which are good simulations of real animal movements. Besides being a good way to tune reflexes, it’s a lot of fun. This is a sport that translates well to both survival hunting and defensive shooting against surprise, moving targets.

I shot trap a couple of times about 20 years ago. Since then, all my shooting has been rifle, pistol or riotgun at pop up or fixed targets. This was effectively a new skill set for me.

Before the class, I received an instructional book and DVD. Both were clear, easy to understand and easy to pay attention to. There is a drill for learning the proper movements with a shotgun, and it was very useful. Upon reaching the course, I already had the basic movement ingrained.

OSP is run by Gil and Vicki Ash, with lots of hands on. Classes are kept small, so there is typically one instructor for each five students or less. By the time I’d finished one station of shooting and gotten ready for the next, I had a coach at my elbow.

Gil gave us background on both the sport, and on the related human reflexes, kinetics, neurology and optics. It was a down to earth discussion, but Gil has consulted with researchers on the science behind these. How to learn is as important as the learning itself. We had a long discussion over muscle memory, coordination, dominant eyes and hands, and related matters.

The premise of their method—and they are both amazing shooters with a lot of competition credentials—is that 3-5 seconds of target travel time is more than enough to locate, point, mount the shotgun and shoot. Think of merging with traffic from an on ramp. The car has to be placed precisely between two others moving at a high rate of speed, but if approached in a relaxed fashion, rather than gassing and braking, it’s a fairly simple task. In this case, one sights and moves with the target, mounts the gun, and shoots. This should be an instinctive, natural movement, without a lot of analysis of point of aim, lead, etc.

The coaching was cheerful, conversational and full of humor and sarcasm, but very precise and insightful. We determined my stock was too short, choke too tight, and that my familiarity with high-sighted military rifles was hindering my shotgun mounting. It took a good part of the day to tweak the new movements, but I noticeably improved, and more importantly, learned the skills I needed for further improvement, and gained an understanding of how to analyze my own shooting. I did indeed find that 3 seconds was plenty of time to spot, mount, shoot, and repeat for the second clay of a double.

Gil and Vicki love shooting, love teaching, and their classes are a lot of fun, as well as being packed with learning. Their rates are very reasonable, available singly or for groups, and they offer excellent rates for groups at your location. - SurvivalBlog Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson, author of the new science fiction novel Do Unto Others.

Hi James,
Concerning garden soils. Most of the bags sold as topsoil are really not top soil. Top soil occupies only on the top 6 to 12 inches of soil at best. It is called the 'A' horizon. What customers are getting is the deep 'B' horizon soils usually free of any rocks. 'B' horizon soils are found immediately under the 'A' horizon and can be any where from 20 inches to 10 feet deep. Mostly they are 2 to 6 feet deep depending on the parent material from which they have developed. Steer manure from a feedlot is most likely spread on an area of very deep 'B' horizon soils and then mixed in and sacked. If you are getting soils from a wind blown [loess] deposit of soil you are in effect getting fine silt not suitable for a garden. The 'C' horizon soils occur below the 'B' and usually are mostly a mixture of parent materials of broken shale, limestone, granite, sandstone rocks. 'C' horizon soils are not suitable for placing on a garden Real top soil is very expensive. We use the 'steer manure' from feed lots that is mixed with the 'B' horizon soils.

Available in our area at Wal-Mart and the local agriculture supply store this year for $1.49/40 lb bag. All supplemental plant nutrients such as fertilizers and animal manures are marked with N, P and K designations. N = Nitrogen P = Phosphorus K = Potassium. Labeling law require producers to show the % of each always in that order, N,P,K. Our steer manure is 14/5/7. Chicken manure is even higher so consult your local County agent about how much to apply.

We have very sandy/silty loam soils developed on top of normally sandy soils that were covered by wind blown silt from the dust bowl days. Our soils are very deficient in organic matter and do not hold water well due to the sandy nature. On our 16 panels of garden we have spread some 14 tons of steer manure in six years. At 40 lbs per bag fifty [50] bags equal one ton. We have spread some 300+ bags in the last 14 days. Yes, this is some 700 bags total at a cost of more than $900 in five years. Last week we made five trips each of 106 miles round trip to get the 300+ bags of steer manure and fertilizer. Our 27 year old Ford F-100 pickup with 430,000 miles on it can handle only a ton per load. Only one farm supply store had any left within a 80 mile one way drive. We bought every last bag they had including all the broken ones. Yup, we have put our money and miles of driving where our mouth is. Bite the bullet and get prepared or be dependent. Your choice, folks.

We have changed the soil composition from a very sandy/silty loam to a loamy soil. We have spent six years developing this garden. We've really gone at it very vigorously in spite of the hundreds of dollars of cost. But we now have a working fenced garden with a warm weather above ground watering system hooked to our well system. But beware. In the coming times of economic adversity many products in the stores will no longer be carried. Any product that is heavy to transport and sells for a small price profit is likely to be dropped from inventory. That will include all of the soil amendments carried by the big box stores. Including fertilizers, lime, soil manures and all the mulches. Expensive fuels will be used to transport only necessities and items that have a substantial profit return. The manager of our local Wal-Mart agrees with me on this. So buy your garden supplies now. Place them on a pallet. They will weather out in the open. But we place ours under a tree in shade to keep the sun from decomposing the plastic sacks. We have stored sacks out in the open under a tree for as long as 2+ years.

I keep no permanent records on production, weights and numbers of plants for our garden. Any official questions about how much we produce will be answered with I do not know. Is this paranoia? Absolutely. Having worked for the Department of Agriculture and retired as District Conservationist, Soil Conservation Service, I am aware of the potential for government to eventually want a portion of my production. Control of your gardens is in the works. Read about the Wildlands Project as part of the UN Agenda 21 to be administered under the Sustainability Program of U.S. of A. Sustainability is now official U.S. of A. policy and has been for some 25+ years. See the exclusionary maps for human activities as developed for each of the states. And then note SB 1619 Livable Communities Act about forcibly moving people off rural land into cities. This is part and parcel of the Wildlands Project and their concepts of islanding and biological connector corridors to maintain biological diversity across all 48 of the CONUS. This concept has no scientific standing by peer review in the biological world. Yet is is now part and parcel of official environmental policy. - J.W.C., Okie in the Red Hills

Dave M. mentioned: Pneumonic Plague in China.

   o o o

Brazil Crops Shrivel as Amazon Dries Up to Lowest in 47 Years. (Thanks to Susan H. for the link.)

   o o o

The Independent: Australia faces worst plague of locusts in 75 years

"We have no patrol units. There is no one on the streets. We respond to only crimes in progress. We don’t respond to property crimes." - Ashtabula County, Ohio Deputy Sheriff Ron Fenton, as quoted by Maclean’s, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

On December 19, 1973, American late night talk show host Johnny Carson made a joke that had some far-reaching unintended consequences. In his opening monologue, he quipped: "You know what's disappearing from the supermarket shelves? Toilet paper. There's an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States." The next morning tens of millions of his viewers went out and each bought dozens of rolls. This buying created a shortage, which lasted several weeks. More than just a bit of trivia, the 1973 toilet paper shortage illustrates the herd-like instincts of consumers, and just how easy it is to create a nationwide panic.

The difference between the toilet paper shortage of 1973 and today is that the Johnny Carson "run" didn't begin until the next morning after the broadcast had aired. But we now live in the age of 24-hour-a-day supermarkets, and some gas stations operate 24-hour-a-day. There is now the potential for mass panic 24 hours a day. And to further exacerbate this, many folks now use Facebook and other social networking services. These have the potential to whip up a frenzy of activity, based on unsubstantiated rumors. In fact, we now live in the age of the Internet flash mob. And, by extension, this is also the age of flash runs on banks, or flash runs on grocery stores, or flash runs on gasoline. Even more ominous is the potential for flash freeway gridlock, in the event of rumors of an imminent terrorist attack on a major city with a Weapon of Mass Destruction .

What are the implication for all of the increased velocity of panic to preppers?

1.) It means that we can't count on the opportunity to do any "last minute shopping." All subsequent crises my be truly come-as-you-are events.

2.) It means that your window of opportunity to "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) in a crisis may be much smaller. You may have just 10 or 20 minutes to grab you Bug-Out Bags and Tote Bins, and throw them in your vehicle. If you hesitate, then you may find the freeways already jammed with traffic.

3.) It increases the chances of over-reaction by government officials. If there is widespread panic then it is likely that there will be widespread over-reaction. Read: Martial Law. Even if the interstate freeways are clear, you may not have access to them. As I've mentioned in SurvivalBlog several times before: If you have a prepared retreat that is across a state line, then I strongly urge you to have license plates on your car for your destination state, and have that state's driver's license in your pocket, preferably with an address listed for the town nearest to your retreat. If the Schumer hits the fan, then you want to be able to make it clear to law enforcement and military officers that you are attempting to get home. I realize that dual registration of vehicles can be costly, but I believe that it is prudent.

I urge SurvivalBlog readers to re-double your efforts to get your gear squared away, and well organized. As one of my consulting clients who lives in Atlanta, Georgia recently put it: "Mr. Rawles, I agree with you that I only expect one trip out of Dodge [to my retreat]. And if I wait just one hour to 'evaluate the situation', I'll probably end up on foot."

He is probably right. I urged him to stock the vast majority of his supplies at his retreat (a three hour drive out of Atlanta), and only keep at home what he could quickly fit in his vehicle in pre-packed clearly-marked tote bins and duffle bags.

Editor's Note: The following letter, suggested by a SurvivalBlog reader, is reprinted with permission of Backwoods Home magazine--which was one of my favorite print publications, even a decade before they became SurvivalBlog advertiser.

Dear Jackie,
I have to disagree with your Ask Jackie column answer to Joe Leonetti's questions about getting started in self-sufficient living in Issue #124 (July/Aug 2010). They missed all the most important points that a "city" person would have to master first. Here are my own suggestions:

Joe, forget thinking "self-sufficient" and start thinking "frugal;" if you have the consume-and-spend mindset so prevalent today you'll need to do this anyway to prepare for retirement. The excellent news is, many things you'll need to know no matter where you live can be learned and practiced right in the middle of town, and little by little. For instance:

*Start by preparing all food and beverage at home­then with no frozen foods­then from scratch­then from storage foods (e.g. canned goods)­ then with only a stove (no microwave, other gadgets)­then without refrigeration (for ingredients or leftovers). If you're an average urbanite, you'll save a boatload of money that will help you to...

*Get out of debt completely. Debt is a chain that will imprison you to your current job forever. It may be the single most common reason why people fail at a simplified lifestyle change. Pay as you go with cash, use credit cards only for car breakdowns and other emergencies, and pay the plastic off every month. And speaking of cars...

*Trade your late-model, banker's-dream for a used, great-condition vehicle that will serve you well on rougher roads (my advice: one without a computer "brain" where everything goes when it goes) and start learning to maintain and repair it yourself. This is a rough lesson but your vehicle is your only lifeline in remote living and doing work yourself will save you more money than almost any other single thing. A car repair class (or full course at your local community college) will also teach you what tools and equipment you'll need. Then get the car totally paid off. While this is in progress, start learning how to...

*Live without electricity, unlimited running water and central heating. Practice washing laundry, dishes and yourself using very limited quantities of water; use only electronics that have solar chargers; get up with the sun, go to bed when it's dark, use a flashlight or battery lantern in between. You'll also find that you need to adjust many household choices to accommodate the new regime­the type of clothes you wear, wearing them more than one day, your soaps, your hairstyle, and a whole lot more. You'll also need a wooden drying rack, a charming rustic decorator touch for any contemporary condo. Boy, will you ever feel sorry for yourself at times, but once you get good at it, it's also very empowering. And very soon you'll figure out that...

*You won't adapt to everything, so find out what is crucial to continuing and then keep going. Concentrate on paring down your present lifestyle to as little expense, as little stuff and as little time as possible, and then it's all forward progress. You can also whittle transportation expenses if you investigate public transportation, or...

*Get a durable pair of walking shoes, a big backpack (used) and create a sturdy, homemade wheeled wire shopping cart, maybe even a bike and bike cart. These things may be your lifeline if the car goes kerflooey one time too many. Do shopping on foot or by bike several times a week, in all kinds of weather; you'll be out in it anyway if you build or garden in a remote area. And speaking of which...

*Now that you're outside more, start practicing being comfortable inside with no central heating. Turn the thermostat down to 60 and wear long underwear, warm vests, heavy socks, hats, and gloves inside the house. Heavy bedclothes are good here, too, especially a rectangular sleeping bag zipped open for use as a comforter. Scout out every thrift store in your county and find these gems there; if your present lifestyle permits, you'll need a good selection of warm clothes if you...

*Purchase a used, self-contained (bed, toilet, kitchen) travel trailer or camper and learn your skills­carpentry, wiring, plumbing, gas piping, whatever­restoring it. You can use this for living in when you first move onto your rural land­that's where the warm clothes come in. When it's ready, take it out camping frequently for practice. As you sit in the silence, you will also realize that...

*Urban areas have lots of entertainment, but rural areas do not have sports stadiums, multiplex theaters, opera halls, megastores, even chain video rental places. You can't work all the time and you must learn to entertain yourself in other ways; with solar chargers you can still watch a DVD (for free, no less) obtained from...

*Your regional library that participates in an inter-library loan system, without which you won't consider moving to the area anyway. Get over any attitudes about libraries being for students and go apply for your card. Then order every book they have on camping, outdoor living, bike repair, cooking from scratch, wood-stove use and the basic design and construction of small homes. Libraries also stock popular DVDs and CDs, magazines and newspapers, and may have public-use computers as well as free wireless access for your own laptop. College libraries may be open to public use as well, and their inventory might include a selection of more specialized periodicals geared to their high-tech classes. Your taxes are paying for it, so you might as well get your money's worth.

*Lastly, you stated that with your background it would be very easy for you to get into teaching. Begin now getting the proper certification and begin job hunting for weekend or evening teaching spots; it may be harder to break into the field than you anticipated, and if you ever suddenly need new employment, nothing works in your favor like an established track record.

*Now, are you still with me, Joe? Have you thrown down the magazine and run away screaming yet? The majority of these lifestyle-changes can be done even if you're presently living in a high-rise condo with a view of Manhattan. Bear in mind, the very best hedge against future money troubles is the ability to live well on very little. Think ahead to retirement (just how much will you collect on Social Security?) and start planning now for a total lifestyle that is exactly what fits you and sustainable well into the years ahead. - Liz C. in Washington

(Reproduced with permission of Backwoods Home magazine from Issue 125, Sept./Oct., 2010.)

Dear Editor:
How does T.L.F. (the author of "The Plan "B" Map") plan to get that bottled water, sports drinks and other suppliers from the dentist office, gym and hobby store? Surely not by breaking and entering or burglary. In the scenarios that are mentioned it is highly unlikely that these kinds of places would be open for regular "legal" business. I hope the author was not advocating looting or taking without paying. That would just add to the chaos and confusion of an already bad situation. I do not want to become one of the Golden Horde. - M.E.P. in Atlanta


After reading so much of your work, I feel like I know you and am sitting and typing a conversation to a friend. God Bless you for your work and witness. For us in the world it is a drink from a cool spring to fellowship with you. You strengthen the will and faith of many.

Enough of the head inflation.

I read with interest the post from T.L.F. today. I am a dentist. I do not have any bottled water in my office. I do not know any in my area that do. I keep no narcotics on hand. Other than a couple of small tanks of Nitrous Oxide and a couple of gallons of Listerine (25% ETOH) there is little of value for attitude adjustment. There is a bit of cash for change and the odd old gold crown. But for the most part all that is there of public interest requires me and my staff to use our skills to make work. What one will find, if one comes looking, is a 12 gauge, complete with a competent operator driving it that has little interest in exposing his clinic to casual uninvited shoppers. Until I post a "Looters Welcome" sign on the front door I would advise friend or foe to think long and hard about us as a source of resupply.

Looking to meeting you in person one day in this world or the next. T.C., DDS in South Carolina


To start I would like to say that I really enjoy the work you do with survival blog and it has really helped me out. I enjoy reading it every chance I get. In reading the article The Plan “B” Map by T.L.F. I found it very interesting that I had already done the same thing without thinking about calling it a Plan B map. I have spent my time while doing different activities thinking about what kind of things I would need should TEOTWAWKI happen. I created a list of things I had found and places to get them from. I call it my asset list. It started by thinking what places would I be able to get what things from. From work what kind of things I would need and what kind of places I could look for things that the normal person would not think of. For example oil and different types of fuel I would need or could use. I came up with that the machines at work have lots of oil and hydraulic fluid in them that could be used in lamps and what not. All that would need to be done is to empty the hydraulic reservoirs and gear boxes. There is an amazing amount of oil that is sitting inside on the different machines. Places I figured the average person wouldn’t think to look at. Also for water it has been said how much water is keep in a water heater but there is also a lot of water that is keep in the piping of fire suppression systems (sprinkler systems) that could be drained and used should nothing else be available. This is a fairly easy thing to do by opening the drain valve and collecting the water inside. I find that the more I look around with my eyes open and my mind thinking threw what I would need it is surprising what you can find. Mapping them all out is just the next step and is a rather good one that I hadn’t thought of. Thanks, - JJH

Reader Craig K. found a handy web site that gives step-by-step instructions to create a generator out of spare parts that many of us have laying around the shop. It contains links to other important topics as well.

   o o o

RFJ flagged this: Convert Your Bike Into a Cargo Bike with an Old Bike Frame

   o o o

SurvivalBlog readers in southwestern Oregon should check out Umpqua Survival. They are located in Roseburg, Oregon. They have strong expertise is with generators and photovoltaics. They are licensed dealers for both Generac and Kohler generators and they have a storefront operation. Umpqua Survival is planning to soon add a variety of storage foods to their inventory, and numerous products for mailorder sales.

"When morals are sufficient, law is unnecessary; when morals are insufficient, law is unenforceable." - Emile Durkheim

Sunday, September 26, 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 recent news of confirmed cases of cholera after the massive flooding in Pakistan highlights a potential threat that anyone could be faced with after a disaster. While cholera has been cited specifically, there are several other diarrhoeal diseases that have similar symptoms and can also kill. These include such pathogens as Rotavirus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi (responsible for Typhoid Fever) and Shigellosis (dysentery).

These illnesses are responsible for a huge number of deaths every year. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there are approximately two billion cases annually. Diarrhoeal diseases account for the deaths of 1.5 million children in the same time period. The majority of these occur in developing countries where availability of clean water, food, and sanitation are limited. How many people reading this are preparing for a situation where you could have limited sanitation, food, or clean water?

The WHO defines diarrhoea as “the passage of 3 or more loose or liquid stools per day, or more frequently than is normal for the individual.” I think we are all familiar with this condition. These diseases are often accompanied by several other signs and symptoms including abdominal pain, fever, increased heart rate, and dizziness.  One of the most disturbing signs that may develop is blood in the stool. As unnerving as this is for the person experiencing it or the one caring for them, this symptom is not as dire as it may appear. In the presence of some of these ‘bugs’, this is part of the disease process and will resolve as the body fights the infection.

Many of these pathogens are ever-present in the world we live in. For example, the bacterium that causes cholera is commonly found in seawater. Outbreaks of these diseases occur when the reservoirs containing the offending pathogen are introduced into a population susceptible to them. After disasters people are often operating in high stress environments and suboptimal conditions. Their immune systems can be depressed to a point that the pathogens get a foothold when they are exposed.

This exposure typically happens via ingestion. This comes from contaminated water sources (i.e. floodwater in the water supply, poor latrine placement causing direct fecal contamination, etc.), contaminated food (under cooked or raw contaminated foods, shellfish from contaminated waters, etc.), or direct oral/fecal transmission (contaminated hands touching lips). Vectors such as flies that stop at the outhouse on the way to your toothbrush have also been cited.

The first and most key step to fighting these diseases is prevention. If we can avoid exposure to these pathogens, we avoid the disease. Depending on the situation, staying ‘Fit to fight’ could literally mean the difference between life and death. There are several points to preventing this though.

Foremost of these preventative steps is that water must be properly treated. While it is not in the scope of this article to go deeply into water purification techniques, I would like to mention a few points. First, start with the cleanest fresh water possible. Collecting from a moving source (i.e. a river or stream) is proffered over a standing source (i.e. a pond). Always try to filter out as many debris as you can. This includes sediments and silts. A study in Bangladesh found that simply filtering water through cloth decreased the incidence of cholera by 48%s. The cleaner the water you start with, the more effective your treatment efforts will be. Chlorination of water is an inexpensive method to treat water as long as you have the supplies available. There are many consideration that must be taken into account when deciding on what amount and what form (liquid versus powdered) to store chlorine in. (Home generation if chlorine is also an option that is used in some parts of the world) As a quick review, the general principal in using unscented liquid chlorine bleach is to use 2 drops of bleach per quart (.5l) of water, 8 drops of bleach per gallon (3.8L) of water, and 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) bleach per five gallons of water. Allow to stand for 30 minutes before use. If water is cloudy, double the recommended dosages of bleach. Testing kits, such as used for pools, can be used to monitor the chlorine levels. These should be 1mg/l at storage points, (i.e. piped in cisterns) but .2-.5mg/l at the point of consumption. If you can taste the chlorine, it is over .8 mg/l. The most available means of water treatment may very well be boiling. The principal of starting with the cleanest water available applies as above.  Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at sea level water should be brought to a rolling boil and kept there for one minute. At altitudes above 6,562 feet (2,000 m) this needs to be increased to three minutes. Water filter units that rely on mechanical filtering only are generally not adequate to filter out all the pathogens that cause diarrhoeal diseases. Check the manufactures statistics or use a chemical treatment after filtering to be sure. We all understand that we must have water; make sure the water you drink is safe.

The CDC has for years pushed the statement "Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it" in regards to eating while abroad. This is intended to directly fight cholera and the similar diseases. Foods must be thoroughly cooked to kill potential pathogens. Most bad bugs are killed when they are brought above 160F (70C) but some must reach boiling at 212F (100C) and held at that temperature for 15 minutes. This is all parts of the food item. That point becomes very important when cooking large pieces of meat or thick stews. Holding food at a temperature where it is literally  ‘steaming hot’ (140F or 60C) and never allowing food to set at room temperature for more than two hours will continue to protect you from illness. All this requires that you can prepare food yourself. Consider this another reason on what should be a long list of reasons to store food. If you are in a food line, soup kitchen, of refugee camp, you have no control over these facts. When it comes to raw foods, use treated water to wash them though cooking is a better way to ensure safety. The ‘peel it’ point is pretty self explanatory; peels and shells protect the parts you eat. Pathogenic bacteria can find their way to your foods. Take steps to ensure any contaminates are rendered safe before you ingest them.

Proper sanitation is key to preventing the spread of these diseases. The #1 most important task in regard to this is frequent hand washing. Ideally this would be done with hot water and soap. Homemade soaps, wood ash, or even the simple mechanical action of scrubbing your hands in clean flowing water will help. Trimming fingernails reduces areas that can trap pathogens. As previously mentioned, insects and other vermin can spread these diseases. Proper steps such as covering latrines, pest mitigation, and the use of insect repellents are necessary. Keep the pathogens away from potential host and you solve the problem.

If people are suffering with any of these conditions, they should be separated from the healthy. Caregivers need to religiously wash their hands before and after contact with these patients. This isolation will decrease the spread of the disease. All waste, clothing, and bedding, from these patients is potentially a source of further infection and must be treated as such. A solution using 1 tablespoon (15ml) chlorine solution per gallon (3.8L) of water can be sprayed on surfaces to disinfect them. Clothing and linens need to be well washed, preferably in hot water with bleach. Exposure to sunlight has been shown to kill many bacteria and viruses. Hanging this clean linen to dry in the sun can also help kill remaining pathogens. There are many reasons the average life expectancy has increased so significantly over the last 100 years. A better understanding of the relation of sanitary and hygienic practices to overall health is not the least of them.

All of these diseases usually respond very well to oral rehydration. Per the CDC ‘With prompt rehydration, fewer than 1% of cholera patients die.’ Fluids should be given as soon as the patient can take them. These should be taken as frequent small amounts as opposed to large volumes at once. The liquid of choice is water with oral rehydration solution added. The commercial versions of this solution contain a plethora of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. They are available from many different suppliers and come in a range of flavors. Recipes for making your own abound but this version is common. To 5 cups (~1L) of clean water add 8 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and have the patient sip slowly. This simple formula is safe and effective though the flavor isn’t anything to write home about. It may be beneficial to add a small amount of powdered drink mix to improve the flavor, especially for children. It is important to not increase the overall sugar levels in this solution by much as this can lead to further dehydration. Other recipes will add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and/or NoSalt (potassium chloride). Intravenous rehydration may be needed and should be undertaken using Normal Saline (.9% Sodium Chloride) or Lactated Ringers (Hartman’s Solution). In a PAW, I’d personally reserve IV fluids for other cases if at all possible. Aggressive treatment with oral solutions should preclude the need for an IV infusion. ‘Safe’ food should continue to be offered to the patient though its importance is much less than that of water. Avoid foods such as dairy products, greasy items, or any that cause gas. In these diarrhoeal diseases, it is dehydration that causes death. By staying ahead of the fluids lost, this can be prevented and thus save the patient’s life.

Other medications that may prove useful in cholera or other like diseases are antibiotics. These should be used sparingly and only in severe cases. Due to the development of resistant strains, the most commonly recommended antimicrobial is Ciprofloxacin 500mg twice a day (children should be dosed by weight 15 mg/kg). Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) may be used to combat fever though utilizing the minimizing effective dose will spare the liver some hardship. Anti-diarrhoeal medications such as loperimide (Imodium) should be avoided in severe diarrhoea. Over-use of these medications can lead to a life threatening condition known as toxic megacolon which is just as bad as it sounds. With any medication, be well versed in the contraindications and side effects before you use them. As previously stated, these patients respond well to rehydration and this is the area treatment should be concentrated on.

Cholera, typhoid fever, a dysentery have a well earned reputation as mass murderers. During the American Civil War “The Union army reported that more than 995 out of every 1,000 men eventually contracted chronic diarrhea or dysentery during the war; the Confederates fared no better.” These killers have made appearances in every major conflict to one extent or another as far back as man has recorded history. They crop up during floods, landslide, hurricanes, and other emergencies where ‘basic’ services are interrupted. Armed with a bit of knowledge and by practicing the proverbial ounce of prevention, we can overcome these obstacles.

As with any medical advice, I highly recommend you cross reference anything you read before you use it.

The letter about opium poppies (P. Somniferum) had too many oversimplifications for safety. While poppies are easy enough to grow to enjoy the big flowers, it's not so easy to get good pods or sap, and the quality of the drug depends a good deal on growing conditions, i.e., where you live. There's a reason why so much opium comes from the middle east, and you may note that the poppies in pictures from the regions are 3' high at least and lavender, not Chinese red. This doesn't mean there's no drug in other poppies - there is - but the difference may be huge. And, warning: dried pods from the florist trade are probably sprayed with insecticides.

If you slash the green pods and save the latex that exudes (which is illegal, by the way), you'd need a lot of poppies, because the next step is to dry the sap until it reaches a certain percentage of opium, by weight. If you've seen pictures of the illegal Afghanistan opium trade, you've seen the brown bars of dried sap being bargained over. The Victorians did use a tincture of opium in alcohol - it was called 'laudanum' and was among the most addictive substances known to man. This is why it is no longer used. Babies were made addicts from syrups of poppy you could buy over the counter to keep them from crying.

Steeping the pods to make a tea or tincture means you're getting all the alkaloids, some are poisons. In order to really make morphine and codeine, a laboratory and chemical expertise is required. Some far-out web sites claim to know how to make home-made painkillers, but even a cursory reading shows these guys are just trying to get high on whatever is available. You can make a tea of poppy seeds, too - it may also kill you. A man who worked in a bake shop not too long ago did just that from increasingly strong doses of poppy seed tea, and some of those crazy British poets steeped poppy seeds in wine to get high, too. Children have also died from eating the green pods - that's one of the reasons it's illegal to grow them in some places.

The book recommended isn't the kind of resource you want if you're really using herbs to treat serious medical problems.

Best Regards to you, Mr. Rawles, - The Old Farmer

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports: Global food risk from China-Russia pincer

   o o o

River Chief sent this: Seen At 11: Ready For Anything 'Preppers' Are Doing Exactly That In Anticipation Of Doomsday

   o o o

Reader Rod McG. wrote: I don't know if this is newsworthy or not, but maybe it would be of some use to a "Yuppie Survivalist" who can't imagine living without their .MP3 tunes: The SABER hand-wind MP3 player. Rod's comment: "There might not always be a way to trickle-charge your .mp3 player, even if you have cat oil to trade. (A reference to the movie The Book of Eli)."

   o o o

Marjory at Backyard food production mentioned that they are offering a special 10% discount for SurvivalBlog readers on their excellent DVD tutorial "Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm". This special discount offer will last only until October 1, 2010.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." - 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (KJV)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I would like to put forth an idea that works for me and my family. Following my retirement, I took up my passion and have been guiding fly-fishermen for over twenty years in Canada, Alaska, New Zealand, and the Western States. My previous job had taken me to Africa, Australia, Europe, South and Central America…some forty-six countries in all. I was in the oil exploration business, and virtually all my work was in deserts, mountains, marshes, savannas, jungles, and other inhospitable terrain.

I have lived in man-camps, tents, trailers, on board barges and ships, cabins, yurts, skid mounted “dog houses,” often sleeping in airplanes, helicopters, land rovers and trucks. I have been in every climate offered to mankind from Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic to the “Empty Quarter” in the Arab Emirates. I have camped above 9000 feet of elevation for months and then worked the swamps of Louisiana from a “Quarters Boat.”

But, in the 1960s I was introduced to the finest, wilderness-portable, life sustaining, warm and comfortable camp ever devised by man…the sheep wagon. I bought one and have been using one ever since. I also build them, for use in my Fly-Fishing Guide business.

My sheep wagons, or range camps, sleep four; they are 18 feet in length and are heated by a wood stove and/or propane heater. A solar panel keeps two deep cycle batteries fully charged to run my lights, radio, computer, and satellite phone. Storage space is ample for months of food and other supplies. A water filtration system provides safe drinking water. An attached outdoor shower and toilet provide hygiene requirements. The Camps are thickly insulated and comfortable in both hot and cold climates.

My sheep wagon can travel 70 mph on the highway, and then take to a logging road without missing a beat. The road clearance of this ranch-bred camp allows it to go any place a 4-wheel drive truck can go. They have been around since the 1870s so one might say the bugs have been worked out. The interiors are much like a cabin onboard a sailing ship. The sheep herders lived in them year-round.

We spend four to five months a year camping with our fly fishing clients in places like Kodiak Island (oh yes, they are bear proof), Teslin Yukon, The Forestry Trunk Roads in Canada, the rivers near Bella Coola, BC, or the Wind River Mountains. Then in the Fall and Winter when it’s hunting season you can find us in West Texas, Southern Utah, Wyoming and Colorado; Camping month after month in our sheep wagons; a retreat on wheels; ready to go at a moments notice, kept fully stocked, capable of traveling any road or rutted trail. This is my retreat and one Camp can sustain four of us for months, of if properly provisioned with a food cache it could house us for years. It has worked for sheep herders for over a hundred years. I think it is the answer for those who must leave the city, travel a great distance and then have shelter and sustenance in a time of upheaval.

A sheep wagon or Range Camp, pre-positioned and pre-provisioned, can be located a safe distance from the Golden Horde’s immediate area of influence. For instance when the city of Houston was last trying to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Rita in 2005 and mass gridlock stranded hundreds of thousands on the roadways (some of them dying), my family and I drove south, toward the storm. Everybody was going the other way. When we were about fifty miles south of the city and still some twenty miles inland we turned in a westerly direction on farm-to-market roads and drove another hundred miles before turning northwest toward the Texas Hill Country. There was little traffic along our route and the country gas stations all had fuel; we topped off at every opportunity.

Arriving on our “Deer Lease” in the Hill Country our Range Camp was there to greet us, loaded with needed provisions.

Though Hurricane Rita would cause over $11 Billion in damage, it cost my family virtually nothing as we enjoyed a couple of extra days at our retreat waiting for the chaos in Houston to subside.

There are several manufacturers of range camps / sheep wagons and a Google search will provide any needed information. Your readers should know about this versatile, mobile, retreat, it just might save their family from an otherwise bad experience.  - D.W.

James Wesley;
Long-Term Preparedness and the Eight Mechanical Arts by J.D. was an excellent article. I just wanted to point out that there are very effective herbal painkillers. [Papaver somniferum] poppies are the source for morphine. (See: It is not currently legal to process poppy sap at home, but it is legal to grow poppies. Poppy seeds can be used to make a pain-killing tea. Yes, poppy tea, morphine and heroin are dangerous addictive drugs, but they have a legitimate place in a long term/multi-generational scenario. I think it is worthwhile to grow the best quality [opium] poppies you can in your herb garden and keep the information on growing and harvesting poppies handy for making the best use possible of the plant. Dosing a patient with home brewed morphine would be risky but in the hands of a skilled herbalist or doctor I think the benefits outweigh the risks. Regards, - B.A.

Greetings Jim,
I just wanted to offer a few words about my experience with my doctor in helping me to stockpile prescription medication I take daily. A couple years ago while undergoing treatment for migraines, my neurologist prescribed nortriptylene, a rather old antidepressant that can also help treat some types of migraines. My doctor originally prescribed up to 100 milligrams every night at bedtime, but she advised me that if a lower dose kept my migraines away, go with the lowest effective dose. Over time I realized that 50 milligrams every night was sufficient and told my neurologist that on a follow up visit, and in the same breath I asked her if it would be possible to keep the prescription written for 100 milligrams (the medicine is available in 25- and 50-milligram capsules) each night at bedtime so I could stock up in case I lose my job or other economic uncertainties. She said she would be glad to do that since the medicine was not a controlled substance. Over the past year-plus, I've gotten what amounts to a two-month supply of my migraine medicine refilled on the 1st of every month and have built up a 15-month supply of nortriptylene in the process. (A local pharmacist told me I could expect an effective shelf life of two years for this particular medicine.) I can work through an incredible amount of physical pain, except for migraines, and having this surplus to fall back on has given me great peace of mind. Blessings to you, Jim. - C.S.

As a quick follow up to Dr. Koelker's article, our readers might try finding a doctor who also takes Tricare. As a veteran and a physician who has Tricare insurance I have noticed that it seems that a higher percentage of docs who take Tricare do so out of patriotic duty (the reimbursement is horrible) and many have been in the military themselves. My experience has been that the majority of my friends who are involved in prepping have a military background. It is no guarantee but it might help your readers steer clear of the docs who support the AMA and Obama's healthcare agenda. - Carl B.

Steve L. recommended a recent Survival Podcast episode: An Interview with Chris Martenson.

   o o o

Jamieson sent this: Solar Flare to paralyse Earth in 2013. See also this BBC report: Are solar flares a real threat? (Thanks to R.L. for that link.)

   o o o

RBS and several other readers sent this: O Rings for Accuracy on AR15, M16 and AK47

   o o o

More on the risk of solar flares: Astronomer fears apocalypse 2012 is true

"What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter." - Terry Pratchett

Friday, September 24, 2010

Do you have any favorite quotes that relate to preparedness, survival, self-sufficiency, the Second Amendment, 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. (We now have more than 1,700 archived quotes!) 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.

To everyone who reads this article, I want you to ask yourself one question: “If a major catastrophe happened tomorrow, would I be ready?” In all honesty, my answer would be no.

For me, this is a very scary scenario. I do my best to budget, plan and  continue to stock my supply closet with food and water, but we all know in our current economic state,  it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the funds to build up supplies for “The End of the World as We Know It”.

I know there are many people out there who are like me. People who do their best to stock up on supplies so their families will be prepared in case of emergency. There are a lot of people who are well on their way to having everything they need to survive, but are definitely not there yet.

What can we do to remedy this? Personally, I don’t want to go into debt so that I can have a fully stocked supply closet so I have put a lot of thought into this very situation. What would I do if things went bad tomorrow? How long could I last on what I have? What would I do if I started to run out before things got better? These are some of the questions I have spent countless hours thinking about.

Many people think that if a major catastrophe happened that they could just take a trip down to the local grocery store and stock up on everything that they would need for the next few months.  This is not only a very unlikely scenario but a dangerous one, as well. Here is an example: A few years ago, during the winter, the city I live in was hit with a huge snow storm.  Almost three feet of snow fell in 24 hours. The city was crippled. Most of the roads were virtually impassable, hundreds of homes were without power and, according to the news, it was only going to get worse. Within a few hours the store shelves were empty. My car was stuck in the parking spot so I had to walk to the grocery store near where I lived. When I got there, I was amazed at the sight of a bare shelved store. What surprised me even more was that it had only been a few hours since the storm hit and everyone was trying to stock up for the next few days of bad weather. I nitpicked through the store trying to find your average grocery list items, but was unable to.

The next morning, when I was watching the news, there were stories being reported of the police being called to local grocery stores because people were fighting and hurting each other so they could get the last gallon of milk. It took about a 1-½ weeks for the grocery stores to recover and get new shipments to stock their shelves. City Officials asked the local food banks to open their doors to the general public because many families were out of food.

In a Colorado town, where people should be accustomed to large snow storms, a mild case of pandemonium broke out over three feet of snow. People literally were fighting in the grocery store over milk and bread. Imagine the chaos that would take place if something of substance were to actually happen? This experience cemented in my mind how dangerous things will become when people are desperate to feed their families.
I will share with you what I did to remedy the potential supply shortfall that many of us could face if major catastrophe happened before we were fully stocked up on supplies. I call it the “Plan B Map.”           

Start out by visiting your local Wal-Mart or similar type store, and find a road atlas for your state. Within this atlas you will find some fairly detailed maps of your neighborhood. For now, mark those pages and set the atlas aside. Next, when you have a few hours, grab a notepad and pencil and take a drive through your neighborhood. Go around and make a list of every single business, store and shop within a 2-mile radius of your home. In addition, take note of every source of water; ponds, rivers, streams, swimming pools, water towers, water wells, etc. Once you have finished this task, head back home and make index cards for every location you have on your list.

Now comes the hard part. Go through these index cards and think about each and every business. You will need to decide if there is the possibility of any type of useful item that might be kept or used by that particular business.

Here are a few examples:

  • Dental offices often have bottled water available for their patients. I have 5 dental offices within the 2-mile radius of my home.
  • Health Clubs are another source for useful items. I have a gym about four blocks from my house that has two industrial refrigerators full of energy drinks, bottled water and protein snacks that are available to buy.
  • Sporting Goods stores often shelf different foods and beverages geared toward the outdoorsman. I have a bicycle shop three blocks from my home that have shelves and shelves of energy bars, protein bars and energy drinks.

Also within the 2-mile radius of my house, I have nine ponds, three swimming pools and two streams.  You will be surprised how many resources you will find in unsuspecting places, and we are not just talking about food and water. For instance, any doctor’s office will have very useful medical equipment, your local hobby shop will have needles and thread, string, twine and craft wood that can be used for fires. There is an endless list of the items you can find right around the corner.            

Now combine your maps and your index cards, marking on your maps all the locations with a number. That number will correspond to a number on an index card. That index card will have listed the items at that particular location that would be useful. You will want to plan to and from routes to all of these locations. Include in these routes places to stop or hide and alternate routes in case you see something on the way that you don’t want to pass on your way back.  Create a list of importance and which locations have the most important items.

The next time you take your dog for a walk or go out for a stroll, try mapping out the routes that you have made. This will give you the opportunity to adjust your routes if needed to avoid certain things. Keep you map and index cards updated to new businesses, or businesses that have changed locations or closed down. You may need to update your list as your importance and immediate needs will change. As you continue to work on your personal stock of supplies, the things that were important may become less important because you had the opportunity to stock up on that item. Pay extra attention to the sources of water that you find. These may be sources for more than just water. Are there fish in the streams or ponds? Do you see ducks and geese in these areas frequently? Think of all the different ways you can take advantage of these water sources because they can be food sources as well.

In addition to making the map, you also need to have a way of transporting the items you go after. You cannot rely on the idea of having a vehicle to drive. So this means you will have to come up with an alternate way of getting to your locations and a way to bring supplies back. In my case, a bicycle is the most practical means of transportation for me. Not only is it faster than walking, I also have the ability to attach duffle bags or backpacks to the frame and rack.

So now you are done with your “Plan B Map”, and you have figured out a form of transportation other then your car that fits your situation and surroundings, keep up with your map and your index cards. Don’t feel like you have to throw your map and cards away if you have reached your goal of the amount of food, water and supplies you wanted to stock up on. Even if you are fully stocked you never know what situations you may be faced with in the coming years. Your map and index cards could be an invaluable asset no matter what you level of preparation is today.  If you are diligent with this project you will provide yourself with a safer way to scavenge for supplies if faced with the need to.

While everyone else is fighting it out at the gas stations and grocery stores for the last couple cans of food, you can be safely making trips to and from the locations marked on your map.    

The Don’t Die Out There! Card Deck is one of the card decks that doubles as an information source, in this case, on disaster response.

It’s printed on very sturdy plastic coated stock, about twice as heavy as typical decks, but the same overall thickness. It’s well organized, with each suit covering different areas--Diamonds: survival essentials, signals, navigation and shelters. Spades: situational assessment, evac techniques, water, fire and food. Hearts: First aid, environmental and medical concerns. Clubs: CPR, severe trauma and evacuation of the injured.

The Aces serve as indexes, and Jokers as forewords. It’s a handy pocket survival book summarized in a card deck, with pictures of things like splints , shelters and navigation techniques, lists of medical, clothing and other supplies, and charts of procedures. The summaries are concise and very clear. It’s heavy on the first aid, but has good, practical guidelines for quick emergency shelters with native materials or tarps, and a summary of map and compass that a layman can use to get a fix on location or direction to travel to find help.

If all else fails, you can always play solitaire. Eventually, someone will show up and tell you to play the red 9 on the black 10.

For $7 retail, it’s a worthwhile addition to a bailout kit, especially for laymen traveling in even slightly remote areas—parks, backpacking areas or wilderness preserves. - SurvivalBlog Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson, author of the new science fiction novel Do Unto Others.

Taking a page from my Marine Corps training from way back and utilizing the civilian environment which we are in I believe I have come across a fun way for groups/families to practice land navigation (land nav) and stealth/concealment at the same time. I have two young teen age children and have been trying to teach them land nav which is somewhat fun for a short time but they haven’t really gotten it yet. One thing kids really like is hide and seek another is to camouflage up. I liked it and in the past become very proficient and blending in and disappearing in the woods. While in the military we would hone land nav skills with practice and occasionally refresher classes. After the class the unit would break down into 1-4 man teams. At that point each team would go to the 100 meter course and verify your pace count then verify the accuracy of your compass on a known azimuth. As each team was ready they would head out into the bush on any number of courses to known/designated points. Each team would rotate the various tasks of plotting, pace count, follow bearing etc. It was a fun day to learn or hone skills. But at times we would also incorporate patrolling into the class. Still in fire teams, the training would involve multiple team on team ambushes and evasions while completing the course. Any other group encountered would be considered the “enemy”. The idea wasn’t to practice tactics at this point but land nav and stealth. So laying in ambush was not the point unless the opportunity presented itself. It could really be a challenge during darkness. These courses covered large areas. There were often 10-15 points each team needed to find and a leg may be only 2-400 meters or it may well be 1 mile or more.

In the novel "Patriots", the [retreat] group trained in a wooded area where they could possibly encounter hikers/campers unexpectedly. Here in Colorado if you are in a national forest wearing the official hiking clothes (no cotton allowed, must have moisture wicking shorts, shirt, hiking boots, floppy hat, day pack and hiking poles ) you won’t get a second look. Same area but off trail in cammies (BDUs) and web gear with map and compass you might get a good sideways look because you’re not in the official hiking attire and you’re not on the trail. Then again, same area but in full combat gear and your paintball /airsoft guns the hiker passing by on the trail may give the local ranger a call whether you are seen [training] or not if there is evidence of activity (wet paintball splats everywhere). So a team seen doing the same action wearing the same clothes but is obviously unarmed then the observer is more apt to think you are only a couple of nuts not necessarily a scary threat (been there and seen it). This training isn’t for tactics and concealment but stealth, concealment and land nav.

So, to make a short story long use the military style land nav training to teach camouflage/stealth/concealment and as many land nav skills as you can. Depending on your situation have the family(s) or group break down into 1-4 man teams so everyone can practice all the land nav skills. As a good prepper there are enough radios so every team can have one and are all on the same freq. Every team has a map or strip map of the area and of course a good compass. Preferably a very large area with some type of easy to identify boundaries (road, trail, lake, ridge, swamp, cut) so should someone get lost or turned around they will recognize the boundaries to stay within.

As stated in other posts paintball/airsoft guns have very limited range. However, line of sight can go for quite a way and in the real world if you are seen even at a relatively long range it could mean your time is up. Again, a big part of the purpose of this training is camouflage/stealth/concealment. The reason for the radios is simple. You’re not shooting someone with a paintball. You nail them with the radio. If the other teams are family and friends you should be able to identify them by their posture, gait, clothes, size etc. If not, then perhaps each team could be marked with some sort of specific colored tape or cloth or number. You observe your best bud 300 meters off exhibiting an unbelievable amount of poor judgment by standing next to a fine bit of concealment in the open looking at his map instead of kneeling down behind it. If he had concealed himself you may not have seen him as you glassed the area as you traveled on your own land nav leg. So you get on the radio and nail him (Hello you, this is me. Freeze. Observe to your 4 o’clock. You are toast. Gotchya.). Clean shot.

Again, this does not necessarily teach threat left, right, ambush fire-team or squad drills. Though it certainly can reinforce fire-team positions and movement. It can of course be modified any number of ways to suit the situation. This can be a very fun way to teach kids, wives/girlfriends valuable skills without breaking out the artillery. And remember. No matter what color clothes worn the lack of movement in itself can be camouflage.

Camouflage clothing isn’t the last word on concealment. Some work better than others in different environments and times of year. Know what works in your area. Often times a single drab color can do better than a pattern. The plain earth tone may accept the highs and lows of the surroundings as opposed to a pattern being forced into the scene (while slowly moving in tall grass plain green army jungles do better than BDUs). If going all out and using camo face paint don’t forget inside and behind the ears, under the nose, neck, hands, wrists. Throwing a few stripes across the face is a “NO GO”. Do it right. Gloves or shooters type gloves with finger(s) cut out help conceal exposed skin. Put your collar up and sleeves down. I always have an old GI green triangle bandage around my neck. Not just for sweat but sized and positioned that if need be at a moments notice I can pull it up bandit style and have my face almost completely covered for concealment without always wearing cammie paint. Bush covers (hat) are a wonderful thing.


  • Land Nav gear
  • Reliable compasses
  • Map(s) and strip maps
  • Protractors
  • Grease pencils [or Vis-aVis pens], pencils, paper
  • Comm gear
  • Walkie talkie with ear bud for each team (preferably the same brand and model)
  • Extra set of batteries
  • Extras
  • Plenty of water and snacks
  • Camouflage veil or dark colored triangle bandage.
  • Camouflage face paint
  • Gloves
  • First-aid kit

Regards, - K.B.

The Yahoo-Bing Search Deal May Raise Ad Rates. Online advertisers may see up to a 78% price increase in paid-search rates once Yahoo and Microsoft wrap up their search alliance. Cost-per-click will likely rise sharply as advertisers shift to the single Bing search platform.

Unusual Worry for the Economy: Is Inflation Too Low?

Corn, Soybeans Hit Two-Year Highs While Cotton Jumps to 15-Year Peak

Food Makers Ready to Raise Prices

RBS mentioned that there are pictorials of some natural materials building projects available at the Solar Haven web site.

   o o o

When "Dry Practice" isn't dry: Deputy in town for firearms training accidentally fires weapon in hotel room. This serves as a reminder: Always double check that your weapon is empty, that you have no ammo in the training area, and that you have a safe backstop! (Thanks to Richard S. for the link.)
   o o o

A new catalyst: Turning $25 of Natural Gas into a $75 Barrel of Oil?

   o o o

Dr. A.W. wrote us to note: "Bed bugs have become a pandemic in the USA. Here are three web sites that may offer solutions and education: The CDC web site, and They discuss prevention, treatment options."

"It is also important for the State to inculcate in its subjects an aversion to any outcropping of what is now called 'a conspiracy theory of history.' For a search for 'conspiracies,' as misguided as the results often are, means a search for motives, and an attribution of individual responsibility for the historical misdeeds of ruling elites. If, however, any tyranny or venality, or aggressive war imposed by the State was brought about not by particular State rulers but by mysterious and arcane 'social forces,' or by the imperfect state of the world -- or if, in some way, everyone was guilty -- then there is no point in anyone's becoming indignant or rising up against such misdeeds. Furthermore, a discrediting of 'conspiracy theories' will make the subjects more likely to believe the 'general welfare' reasons that are invariably put forth by the modern State for engaging in aggressive actions." - Murray Rothbard

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Today we present a guest article by, Cynthia J. Koelker, MD, the author of 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care. Not only is she a fellow Penguin Group author, but we even have the same editor in Penguin's Plume division. This is a topic that should interest many SurvivalBlog readers.

Picture this: Your doctor enters the room and asks, “How can I help you today?”

“I’d like enough medicine to survive the end of the world as we know it,” you reply.

He narrows his eyes and responds, “Just how much Prozac would you need?”

. . .

Finding a physician to help you stockpile medications will be a challenge. Unless your doctor, too, believes Armageddon is nigh, he’s not likely to grant your request.

Why not? Doctors are responsible for the medications we prescribe and the consequences, intended or unintended. Remember, every medication is a potential poison. You’re probably glad your own physician has sufficient training to possess a valid medical license. Certain problems (and medications) require periodic monitoring regarding their effects on the human body. No doctor wants to be responsible for patients who won’t comply with essential examination and testing. Would a car maker warranty your automobile engine if you refuse to change the oil?

Typically, doctors prescribe enough medication to cover a specific problem for an appropriate length of time. Antibiotics are usually dispensed for 7 to 10 days, blood pressure medicines for 1 to 6 months, diabetic medicines for 1 to 3 months, and pain relievers until the underlying problem has resolved.

Does your doctor prescribe you extra amoxicillin, just in case you get sick later this year? Not likely. When physicians prescribe more medication than is currently necessary, this often amounts to patients playing doctor with themselves or with others. Under our current system, this can be a felony.

At TEOTWAWKI, many survivors will be their own doctor, like it or not. And to do so, you will need a stockpile of medications.

Before I offer advice on how to get your doctor to help you with this stockpile, please realize that there are other obstacles to the acquisition of said drugs. Pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill a prescription that seems unreasonable or potentially harmful. Insurance companies usually limit payments for prescriptions to a 1 to 3 month period at a time. You’ll have to pay out of your own pocket to get more medicine than this. Doctors cannot legally alter their prescriptions to say you are taking more medication than you actually are. Neither would it be ethical for you to lie about the situation.

So, how to get the medicine that you may need?

One option is to convince your doctor that the end of the world is near. That’ll be tough. But think a moment, if your doctor really did think TEOTWAWKI is around the corner, he’d be doing his best to help you prepare.

Doctors do prescribe extra medication, along with directions for use, under special circumstances: antibiotics for potential traveler’s diarrhea, anti-malarials for travel to Africa, six months of medications if you’ll be wintering in Antarctica. Asking for medications for TEOTWAWKI is akin to doing the same for a trip around the world. The way I see it, such a supply would be intended to span a gap of only a year or two only. Some medications probably do have a shelf-life of a decade beyond their expiration date, but hopefully a better solution would be available long before then.

Convincing your doctor to prescribe extra medication depends largely on the doctor-patient relationship. If your doctor trusts you, he or she is much more likely to assist you. Please realize that your doctor will think that he’s doing you a fairly large favor. He may even question the legality of his own prescribing. Don’t forget to be grateful. Also realize that even if a doctor writes more than a year’s worth of refills, pharmacists cannot fill them beyond a year of the original prescribing date. If you are convinced that you need more than a 12-month supply stockpiled, you’ll need to discuss this openly with your doctor. Obviously a person could visit more than one doctor, which I don’t recommend, especially if you don’t tell each and every one of your physicians what you are doing. Dishonesty is a deal-breaker when it comes to getting your doctor to trust you.

In general, medications are prescribed for either acute problems or chronic problems. Acute problems include most infections and injuries. Chronic problems include asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism, mental illness, arthritis, and a host of others. Treatment of chronic conditions also includes modification of risk factors including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Even antibiotics are sometimes prescribed long-term in certain situations, e.g. acne, rosacea, certain forms of colitis, and recurrent urinary infections.

Medications for acute problems include antibiotics, anti-virals, anti-malarials, antifungals, anti-diarrheals, antiemetics, migraine treatments, pain medications, heartburn relief, albuterol for asthma and COPD, nitroglycerin, corticosteroids, and anti-inflammatories, to name the most common.

Drugs for chronic problems and conditions include birth control pills, antidepressants, allergy medications, inhalers for asthma and COPD, anti-anginal drugs, acid-reducing drugs (proton pump inhibitors, histamine-2 blockers), anti-inflammatories, diabetic meds, thyroid replacement, and many others.

Without specifying which of these meds I’d advise for stockpiling, I’ll tell you exactly how I’d like a patient to approach me to acquire an extra supply, an approach which I believe would work for other doctors as well.

First, begin establishing a trusting relationship with your doctor. If you don’t think your physician even knows who you are, make an appointment for a minor problem. Don't ask about stockpiling at this initial visit.

If your doctor asks you to follow-up for this problem, then do so. Follow directions. Be responsible. If he says no follow-up is needed, no doubt you can find another reason to come in within a month or so. Accompany another family member to their appointment to keep your face fresh in your doctor’s memory. If there are multiple providers in your physician’s office, try to see the same one each time to establish a relationship.

By the third time your doctor has seen you within a time frame of a few months, he’s going to start knowing you, and more importantly, trusting you. You must act in a trustworthy manner by:

  • Showing up for your appointments
  • Not canceling appointments with insufficient warning
  • Arriving on time (even if you must wait on the doctor)
  • Taking your medications properly and knowing their correct names and dosing
  • Trying to do your part in every way
  • Being kind, pleasant, polite, and cheerful.

Of course, this is good advice even if TEOTWAWKI does not occur in our lifetime.

After doing the above, it’s time to consider approaching the topic of TEOTWAWKI.

Say that you have diabetes and want to be prepared. If you ask for a year’s prescription, your doctor may figure you won’t show up again, even though you’ve demonstrated responsibility to date. Ask for an extra three months instead and make 100% sure that you show up for your next scheduled visit. If you don’t, your doctor will decide he cannot trust you. As in every relationship, once trust is broken, it takes much, much longer to reestablish.

Assuming you do keep your scheduled follow-up, remind the doctor that you have put back the extra medication, and that you’d like to have an additional three month’s worth. Reassure him that you will again follow-up whenever he’d like you to return. (And especially for diabetics, do what your doctor suggests regarding blood sugar testing, weight loss, etc. – at the very least, try.) In this fashion by establishing and confirming trust, you can build up an adequate stockpile. If your relationship is strong, he may trust you to get even a year’s worth ahead of time. The same protocol would apply equally well to any of the chronic diseases mentioned above. And if you suffer from any of these, educating yourself is an excellent idea. Learn how to take care of yourself now so you’ll be ready later.

For acute problems, such as bacterial infections, you’ll want a supply of antibiotics on hand. Follow the above directions in establishing a trusting relationship. Then either when you are sick (or when you are not) ask for a supply of one appropriate antibiotic, perhaps a 30-day supply. Reassure your doctor that you will not use this medication as long as he is here to take care of you. If you get sick again, go back to your doctor and remind him of your plan. If he suggests antibiotics, request a new prescription, and perhaps another supply to stockpile. Trust, trust, trust. That’s 99% of the equation.

With 2012 just around the corner, you should start now. None of us knows God’s timeline, but waiting until the last minute is ill-advised.

* * *

What do Armageddon and health reform have in common? Either way, people need to know how to care of themselves with the resources at hand. Written by family physician Cynthia J. Koelker, MD, 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care explains how to treat over 30 common medical conditions economically, and includes dozens of sections on treating yourself. Available for under $10 online, the book offers practical advice on treating: respiratory infections, pink eye, sore throats, nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, urinary infections, allergies, arthritis, acne, hemorrhoids, dermatitis, skin infection, lacerations, lice, carpal tunnel syndrome, warts, mental illness, asthma, COPD, depression, diabetes, enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and much more.

Dr. Koelker has recently started a new medical blog on surviving 2012 and TEOTWAWKI, There is not much posted there yet, but there will be, as she begins answering questions from readers. She welcomes your questions, comments, and critiques.

Mr. Rawles,
Tom C. wrote: "This plot of land 10 feet x 12 feet." That is 120 square feet. That sounds like a nice patch for half a years supply of storage onions if you know what you are doing, or more swiss chard and radishes that your family will know what to do with, given that you water and succession plant. Lets start at the start with soil preparation. How wet or dry is the existing soil? Get out the shovel and turn over a small bit of your prospective patch. Is it hard as concrete or dry and crumbly or a wet ball or a shiny slice of clay ? Go look up what your soil type requires for initial cultivation. Also, how are you getting rid of the existing vegetation? Tilling in a lawn just make the grass happy to propagate further. Method A for starting a garden bed : in the fall, layer cardboard or 10+ sheets of newspaper on the bed area, water well, and immediately cover with chopped leaves, grass clippings, or straw, and some manure if possible, and water again. For good measure cover with black plastic or and old tarp anchored with boards, rocks or landscape timbers. Wait until spring when you will have a lovely garden bed you can easily turnover with hand tools. Method B for starting a garden bed. It's Spring, the grass is growing. Go spray the patch with evil Roundup, wait a week and start digging with the spade, digging fork and broad fork. Some garden books show a man peeling back the turf with a sharp spade - yea, right, if your yard was recently sodded. Bags of topsoil? Try peat moss, manure, gypsum, sand and/or perlite depending on your soil. So-called topsoil is frequently a marvelous source of weed seed and less nutritious than pork rinds. Time-release granular fertilizer with a low first number or three numbers all the same is a good thing. It won't hurt and it may be the only nutrition your plants get if your lawn is sod over subsoil from the basement excavation. On to planting and what went wrong "1st Planting list: Just to start the basic “easy” food stuffs. Corn, Navy, Red, and Black beans, Green bell peppers, Tomatoes and transplanted 2 Peach trees and 1 Blackberry bush. The Blackberry was chosen over Blueberry because Blackberries don’t require cross pollination."

Unfortunately, corn is not the easiest, because it likes lots of water, nitrogen, little competition from weeds, plus corn, sweet or field in a small patch is a critters' all-you-can-eat buffet : rabbit, groundhog, crow as it is emerging and deer and raccoon the night before it's fit for roasting ears. Dry beans, navy, red, black: do you know when to harvest to not end up with a moldy mess? No, I don't know what went wrong with the beans from the information given. Tomatoes and green peppers, beloved of back yard gardeners. Tomatoes are heat and sun lovers, but only to a point. Tomatoes also really like a low nitrogen fertilizer and water, plus being kept free of weeds. Green peppers on the other hand, don't mind light shade and also like the same fertilizer and water regime. By the way, being in Georgia, when did he plant these "easy" crops ? If he is in the Atlanta area, about April 10 should be a safe planting date for corn and beans. Observe when the farmers in your area are planting corn and soybeans: go and do likewise. Tomatoes and peppers can go out about a week later, but be prepared to cover them if frost threatens. Peaches, yea, they should grow in Georgia J. Blackberries, sure. I'd be more worried about my soil pH than pollinators on blueberries. I haven't a prayer of growing blueberries in my limy soil. I've tried the heavily amended soil, the pH lowering fertilizer - nope, not here. Ten peaches, the first year, really I am impressed. Must have been good nursery grown trees in pots. Blackberries, wait 2 years and they will take over the yard and hold the kids and dog for ransom. Any new fruit plantings take lots of extra water the first summer, even years with good rainfall as they lack the root system to take up the available water in the soil. Your first year with a fruit tree/bush planting is about establishing the root system.

Timing : "Soil Temperature: While we had warm weather after Labor Day, just two or three weeks later overnight temperatures dropped into the 40s." Umm, did he mean Memorial Day ? Corn and beans should recover from 40 degree nights nicely. Peppers and tomatoes are heat and water lovers. The lack of growth on all four sounds like lack of water and/or nutrition - poor native soil, lack of fertilizer -- or they were drowning in standing water. On the Three Sisters, beans fix nitrogen, not squash, also the Three Sister method takes a lot of room, at least three feet between hills of corn and careful cultivation until the squash member zooms out growing a month after it has been planted in warm soil, usually two weeks to a month after the earlier planting of corn, traditionally, when oak leaves are as big as squirrel's ears. You'll not get the best yield of any of the three, but the squash family member will be happy. 2nd Planting: June Carrots, Lettuce, Green peas, Cucumbers. The only thing that will grow well in this planting sequence is cucumbers. Carrots, lettuce and green peas all prefer cool weather of early spring. In the Atlanta area, you might be planting this trio as early as January 15, definitely by February 1. 3rd Planting: July Pie Pumpkin Yes ! third time must be the charm. Timing is right for a place with a first frost usually after November 1 for a Halloween pumpkin. The big mistake was relying on gardening information that is not local to his area. In the US, your state land grant university has trained thousands of people to understand local conditions and many of them have made a career in horticulture with some dozens in active advice practice : your local county extension. Even if your local county extension office has closed, or lacks a horticulture specialist, start web searching your state's land grant university, extension service, vegetables, then start following links. Somewhere you will find planting calendars, variety suggestions and much helpful information. For example, here is a planting calendar for Georgia. - DirtDigger in the eastern Corn Belt

JWR Replies: Tom also mentioned: "The inexpensive top soil I bought turned out to me mostly chips of wood with some dirt."  Beware that many types of wood and bark actually bind ("tie up") nitrogen, in effect robbing the soil of nitrogen for many years until the wood fully decomposes. If you make this mistake, you can counteract it by adding nitrogen fertilizer, but it is best to avoid getting many wood chips or any significant quantities of bark into your compost and garden soil in the first place! Douglas fir bark, for example, has a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 491:1.

Mr. Rawles:
I saw the response to your link regarding the Amish and I concur. These folks are wonderful and are very good for a community. Where I come from in central Michigan the Amish community makes pallets. Trucks from far and wide go out of their way to come through the area for these high quality pallets. The pallets are just the base of their community. They also run a store that beats everybody, even Wal-Mart, on price. Sure, they don't sell all that cheap Chinese stuff, but I consider that a plus. I can't go past the store without picking up a 2 lb chunk of cheese for $2 (not 'orange' partially hydrogenated cheese-like-food, but real Pinconning, Mozzarella, Cheddar, and specialty stuff). I also buy their 2 pound, $2 roast beef, turkey, chicken, or pepperoni lunch meats. There is always some high quality item that is under half the price I would see elsewhere.

Then there is the best of all, the carpenters. This falls on the outskirts of the Amish community, but wouldn't be happening if they were not in the area. There are a handful of 'ex-Amish' contractors in the area that do excellent work. They still have connections in the Amish community and can get some of the high-skilled craftsmen to come out and do everything from putting in a new staircase to raising a barn in a day (except electrical & high end plumbing;) I've seen these guys refurbish old, run-down 1880s houses and make them look new again, including all the detailed woodwork. And they do all this while being pleasant and truthful. They will not tell you they will be finished tomorrow when its not true, or they will have more roast beef tomorrow if it is not true. They do not come around knocking on your door trying to convert you. When I really think about it, they are the best group of people I know. - A.B.

Mac Slavo (over at the SHTFPlan blog) asks: How Many Guns Are Too Many? FWIW, here in The Un-Named Western State (TUWS), owning 40 guns is considered just "a decent collection", and "serious collectors" must have at least 100 guns. (Thanks to K.T. for the link.)

   o o o

K.T. sent us a link to an interesting video produced by the CATO Institute: Cops on Camera.

   o o o

I stumbled into this, while web wandering: Double The Anger: Two “Mad Max” Sequels Shooting Back To Back. Oh, and speaking of anticipated movies, the release date for the remake of Red Dawn has been delayed, due to financial problems at MGM.

   o o o

Damon S. spotted this: The Art Of The Bug-Out Bag

"There is a secret pride in every human heart that revolts at tyranny. You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you." - William Hazlitt

Wednesday, September 22, 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.

Recently I have been asked by a number of friends and associates for specific recommendations on the selection of suitable rifles for hunting big game (including feral hogs, deer, problematic black bears, etc.). Rather than spending considerable time conversing with everyone on an individual basis through a whole bunch of e-mail messages, I will offer some of my own brief personal observations as a starting point, and then will be glad to answer any additional questions for those who may be so inclined to ask.  I must make it perfectly clear from the start that I do not consider myself to be some anointed “expert”, but rather someone who has learned a few lessons over the past years.  Because my views are not going to be published in any for-profit endeavor, I am not beholden to any particular manufacturer for opinions expressed.  With this in mind, I will focus on a few different models that will provide excellent service, yet be cost effective and of a good value for the money spent. 

When hunting any kind of game, the objective is to dispatch the game animal quickly and humanely while using a minimal number of rounds of ammunition.  Of primary importance in this are two critical factors: exactly where the bullet strikes the animal, and the construction of the bullet itself; it must be matched to the type of game to be taken.  In order for the bullet to strike where it must, the operator must be able to deliver the shot from any number of field shooting positions, under time pressure. The weapon selected for this need not be fancy or expensive, but it must be reliable, and the operator must know it thoroughly inside and out.  There are several action types to choose from, such as single shot, semi-automatic, pump, lever, bolt, etc., and all can be used effectively, and each has specific advantages to offer.  Due to the popularity of the basic bolt-action design, many manufactures offer it in a wide variety of calibers and barrel lengths.  Add to this several different stock designs and finishes, other features such as blue steel or stainless, detachable magazines, integral scope mounting bases, sling swivels, etc., and one can have many different choices that can seem complicated.  I have observed that weapons featuring all the latest gadgets, bells and whistles, and in the flavor-of-the-day wiz-bang calibers offer no real advantage for the majority of hunters, but likely serve to keep the manufactures busy dreaming up what they will offer the following year.  However, understand that there are some special circumstances where specialized equipment can make the difference for an experienced hunter, but this article is not geared in that direction.  Let us not waste money on stuff we don’t need.  Let us instead invest in a simple, reliable and accurate weapons package, and become highly proficient in the use of such.  

For the purpose of this article, I will focus on a few bolt-action hunting rifles, currently offered in popular calibers.  Why?  For starters, the basic mass produced bolt-action design is simple to operate, reliable, very strong, inherently accurate, easy to maintain, easy to carry in the field, and affordable.  Given a decent optical sight and a couple of small extras, it will be just as good as anything else for the greatest majority of our needs.  True, custom rifles built from the ground up are fun to own and give great pride of ownership, and performance to match, but they can be cost prohibitive.

Ammunition and caliber selection:  If there is one aspect of my choices that will generate debate, it is this one.  There are many suitable calibers that will do the job, some better than others.  Many are so very close in ballistic qualities that the differences in actual field conditions are negligible.  Several are re-hashed versions of older cartridges that failed commercially, and have been brought back to life under new names.  A few may actually offer very good performance but are expensive when compared to others.  True, the cost of a few rounds of ammunition is only a very small part of a successful hunt, but the ability to properly use any given rifle and achieve good results demands that the operator use sufficient ammunition in practice to be skilled.  One has only to compare the costs of different cartridges (with similar bullets) suitable for big game hunting to see what I mean by this. While this can be mitigated to some extent by assembling your own ammunition, for many this is not cost effective due to initial start-up costs.  Another major factor in caliber selection is the ability to purchase ammunition in just about any place in the world.  Try finding the latest wiz-bang ammunition in some small town sporting goods store or local Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon, let alone in a foreign country. For this reason, I stay with my two favorites, the .30-06 Springfield and its shorter cousin the .308 Winchester.

The .30-06 Springfield is a long-time favorite for literally millions of hunters in every corner of the world.  Adopted by the United States military in 1906, it has accounted for a huge number of game animals, large and small.  It is very versatile, and is offered by every major manufacturer in a wide variety of bullet configurations suitable for just about any game one could take within the scope of it’s power range.  I have used it with great success to take a variety of game, and have found it to be very accurate in a number of different rifles.  With the availability of decent military surplus ammunition of good quality, sufficient practice in field shooting scenarios and techniques can be done without burning up a pile of more expensive hunting loads.  

Adopted by the United Stated military in 1955 as the T-65, and first commercially offered by Winchester, the .308 is my second favorite choice for gig game.  It uses the same bullet diameter as the .30-06, but in a slightly shorter case.  Because it uses a shorter case, the length of the rifle’s action can be made a bit shorter, thus reducing the overall length. The ballistics of this cartridge are very close to that of the .30-06, although bullet weights for hunting are typically lighter than that of the .30-06.  The .308 Winchester has taken a large number of game animals, and like the .30-06, it well suited for our purposes.  In military nomenclature, it is known as the 7.62x51 NATO, with lots of good surplus loadings available for less-expensive practice sessions. It has a history as a sniping and machine-gun round, and is very versatile. I have had excellent results with this cartridge hunting a variety of game.  My most accurate center-fire rifle, a Remington 700P, is chambered for this.

When it comes to selecting a suitable big game hunting rifle, there are what seems to be endless choices of caliber, finish, stock material, barrel length, sight arrangements, and other options in the fore-mentioned action types by a whole bunch of manufactures. What follows are some observations as to brands and models of the bolt-action types observed by myself and a couple of associates whom I have hunted with and also have a good bit of shooting experience.

Ruger: Offering several models based on the Model 77 action, the newest and improved offerings called the Hawkeye line, feature very good triggers, integral scope bases, choices of finish and stock material, and models of compact or standard length.  My personal favorite is the “All Weather” line in stainless steel with synthetic stock.  At this time, it is listed in .308 and .30-06.

Remington: The Model 770 is a base model entry-level rifle featuring a polymer stock with integral trigger guard in a very simple action. An associate uses one in .30-06, and is able to get quite acceptable accuracy from it.  While not my preference, it will get the job done.  The Model 700 is the rifle by which all others are judged.  Released in 1962, it is one of the most accurate rifles out of the box.  Available in many different versions, it is favored as a basis for many custom rifles, and has a proven record in military use and as a sniping weapon by countless law enforcement agencies. As a hunting arm, it is offered in numerous calibers and configurations.  It has been my go-to hunting rifle model, and has never failed my uses.  It’s short-action cousin, the Model 7, is a shortened version and very well liked.

Savage: Often overlooked, Savage offers quite an impressive line of quality bolt-actions mostly based on the Model 110 and it’s variants.  A unique feature is the barrel system, which uses a special retaining nut that can be removed and replaced much easier than most designs.  Custom builders like this for creating switch-barrel rifles.  My preferences are models in the Weather Warrior series, featuring the newer AccuTriggers and the new AccuStock design.  I have seen Savage rifles used to take game, and observed their use in various tactical shooting competitive events, and believe they represent a very good value.

Mossberg: They currently offer hunting rifles in .30-06 and .308 Winchester in the 100 ATR line.  Several of the variants feature rifle scope bases installed, and some have a very durable applied metal finish. Synthetic stocks are available.  While I have limited experience with this line, and they are very new, I liked the sample I test-fired.  

Thompson Center (T/C): Offers a line of bolt-action rifles called the Icon.  While not inexpensive, features such as integral scope bases, detachable magazines, quality barrels and several finish and stock options make this brand worth a good look.  Available calibers are several, including .30-06 and .308 Winchester.

Winchester/FN: The Model 70 dates back for many years, and has included numerous variations in a variety of calibers. Often referred to as the “Rifleman’s Rifle”, it has an almost cult following.  However, due to a storied history of manufacture and company ownership, it would take quite a bit of writing to cover even half of it, and at this time I am not sure of exactly what is being offered and in what configurations.  I can say this: if one researches the different Model 70 variations, he can find some very quality used rifles out there.  The newer versions produced here by FN look promising.

No big game hunting rifle is complete with out a few basic accessories.  Some are affixed to the rifle itself, some can be carried by the hunter.  Suffice to say that those accessories that are not affixed can become lost or forgotten, so plan accordingly.

Telescopic sights are a great aid to accurate shooting, and when chosen properly can help ensure a successful outcome.  For big game rifles, a high magnification is not really necessary, and I have had great success using 4X or 6X fixed power models.  I recommend using some form of the basic duplex reticle.  Other types can be too busy, and it is easy to become confused when making a quick shot.  Variable power range models are acceptable, and the better quality brands are repeatable throughout the power range.  I have had very good results using scopes built by Leupold, and recommend them for many applications. Excellent quality is the norm, and the range of available models is extensive. One inch main-tubes are well suited to hunting rifles, but for peak performance a 30 millimeter main-tube is tops. However, expect to pay a premium for this.  I have used models featuring illuminated reticles, but this feature elevates the cost substantially, usually beyond the budgets of most hunters.  One more important point: the bigger a scope is, the higher above the centerline of the rifle’s bore it must be mounted.  This can severely interfere with getting a proper cheek weld on the stock, thus making field shooting more difficult.

Iron sights are unfortunately missing from too many rifles these days, but I have them on my favorite Model 700 as a backup if my scope is damaged in the field.  The scope rings on this rifle are the quick detachable type, helping to make the transition from scope to iron sights much quicker.

Slings are a great aid, not only for carry, but also as an aid to field shooting if you have learned the proper technique.  Most rifle manufactures offer only a basic carry strap design, but I have found that the "Ching Sling" is excellent.  [JWR Adds: The very best nylon Ching Slings were formerly made by Wilderness Products (sadly discontinued), but very good quality leather Ching Slings are still made by Galco.] This sling design requires the installation of a third swivel stud forward of the trigger guard.  Once you learn to use this, you will want one on all your rifles.

Bipods of the folding type mounted under the forearm have worked very well for me.  I always try to get into the most stable shooting position, and this type offers the greatest speed.  I use bipods made by Harris exclusively. While not the lightest, they are the best quality for the price.  Some folks don’t like them for whatever reason, but I have found them to be an essential accessory.  Avoid the imported copies if possible.

Factory rifle packages that include scopes are a nice idea, but most feature cheap, lower quality imported optics.  Spend a bit more money up front to set up your rig correctly.  It will be worth the expense later on. 

All the above information is a start on equipment selection, but it is only the views and expressions of one man.  Every hunter or shooter will have their own ideas about what may be best suited for them, and there are enough options out there to handle most every need.  If I can add one more important aspect to this, it is that proper training and practice in safe, efficient gun handling skills and field shooting techniques is absolutely necessary.  All the best equipment in the world will not make up for a lack of purposeful quality practice. In a future SurvivalBlog post, will present a detailed writing of what practice and range drills have proved useful to me for those who are interested.

Good morning Mr. Rawles,
In regards to the "Family Preparedness: How to Protect Your Infant Child", I just wanted to comment that wool diaper covers need to be washed less often, do not smell at all and two is all you need. Plus, they are just more comfortable for infants than plastic, no matter how cute or functional. They also breathe better and keep baby warm even when wet, which is important if you are changing less often than usual.

Mother-Ease diapers are handy - no folding, no velcro, and they are one-size fits all. You can also buy doublers that make it good for a night time diaper.

Rice paper diaper liners are excellent for just pulling away waste from the diapers and then you can throw that away, hopefully reducing waste removal on your diaper itself - less washing.

Slings are more useful than carriers, even for larger children. They can be used as ground cloths, blankets, handkerchiefs, sun shades etc, which a carrier just cannot do. See the Maya Wrap.

Thanks! - Kerry

Regarding this recently posted link: Amish populations bugging out, gradually heading west, Southwestern Idaho and Eastern Oregon have been under "invasion" for a number of years, mainly by Amish Mennonites - an offshoot of the Old Order Amish. Unlike the other invaders from California and other urban high populations who bring with them all their problems, attitudes and sometimes rudeness, these are good quality people who bring with them many fine qualities, morals and values. They are respectful and genuine. Most are skilled carpenters or have similar "hands-on" skills. While they tend to keep to themselves as far as their socializing. They are easy to work with and seem to be kind and good willed. In short if your community is "invaded" by these or other Amish consider yourself very lucky to have them come to your area! - RBS

Susan H. sent this: U.S. Dollar Now Ripe For Catastrophic Devaluation. Here is quote that might have a familiar ring: "The inflation vs. deflation debate has been raging for nearly three years, but I suspect that when all is said and done, we will find that both sides in a sense were correct. The people who consistently miss the mark on what is truly going on in the economy are those who blindly insist that this is an either/or situation. The fact is, we are seeing symptoms of BOTH deflation and inflation simultaneously. Deflation in jobs, stocks, real estate, and wages. Inflation in energy, food, and commodities. At bottom, we are seeing the worst of both worlds colliding to make a financial mutation, an aberration of the natural processes of supply and demand. Our economy has become a frothing rampaging Frankenstein’s monster bent on the destruction of its former benefactors; the American citizenry. Anyone who alleges otherwise is either a liar, or a fool."

Siggy spotted this in Macleans: Third World America

More of the MOAB, just as predicted: Momentum Gathers For A New, Massive Bailout Of Homeowners. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

A posse of readers sent this item that shows how Nanny State Britannia is plumbing new depths: UK Proposes All Paychecks Go to the State First.

Items from The Economatrix:

Economic Panel Says Recession Ended in June 2009

Stocks Extend September Rally; S&P Breaks Out of Range

Homebuilders' Confidence Stuck at 18-Month Low

New "Normal" is Fear Over the Economy

After Friday's Panic, Will Ireland Go The Way Of Greece?

When the subject of widespread EMP comes up, some folks blithely say: "We can just go back to vacuum tube technology". But consider all the underlying technologies and metallurgy represented in this video produced by an electronics hobbyist in France: Hand Making Vacuum Tubes. (Thanks to Gaston for the link.)

   o o o

Bob G. mentioned this book excerpt: Books of The Times: ‘The Coming Famine’ by Julian Cribb

   o o o

L.H. spotted this: What NASA says you should keep on hand, for disasters. It all fits in a trash can. L.H. had this comment: "Not a bad list, just a little shy on depth."

"If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." - Dave Ramsey

Tuesday, September 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.

It’s one thing to prepare for an unexpected event that you can ride out in the course of a week or two; secure, defensible shelter that functions without the grid, a store of food and water, and stockpiles of essentials such as ammo and medical supplies may be more than enough to last until the disaster passes and social order is restored. But what about long-term survival in the face of TEOTWAWKI

I’ve always found it instructive to study how we lived before 20th-century innovations such as electricity and refrigeration and potable water piped right into the kitchen. It wasn’t that long ago; my dad’s folks didn’t have electricity until he was a teen and his grandparents spent most of their life in a home where going to the bathroom at night required boots and a lantern. When great-grandpa shot a mink that was threatening the chickens, his wife didn’t think twice about making gloves and a stole from the pelt. Could you produce gloves from a rabbit pelt? Or, for that matter, turn a sheaf of wheat into a loaf of bread? They had skills that we have forgotten; knowledge that we need to relearn should our technologically-enabled lifestyle be unexpectedly set back a century or two.

Mechanical Arts is an obsolete and archaic term from the European Middle Ages; it referred to the practical skills required of the lower class, as opposed to the Liberal Arts and Performing Arts mastered by the upper crust and intelligentsia. The eight mechanical arts make a good springboard for reviewing the skills that we need to re-master if we are to live – not just survive – in the face of long-term social collapse. The eight mechanical arts of medieval tradition are weaving, blacksmithing, war, navigation, agriculture, hunting, medicine, and theater.

Modern weaving encompasses everything from basic sewing skills – on a non-electric machine – to the production of thread, cloth, and yarn from basic agricultural products. The latter requires quite a long-term view, but it isn’t out of the question to make sure that your group has a functional antique sewing machine and people with the skill to use it. Knitting and crocheting are fine hobbies that might prove to be useful skills should the need arise. And basic hand-sewing is a skill everyone needs; in a crisis, cloth may not be the only thing that needs a bit of emergency stitching. I would include tanning in this category; make sure someone in your group is able to turn a deer hide into useable buckskin.

Traditional blacksmithing is also a fine hobby that becomes a useful survival skill. In the modern view, competence with cutting and welding equipment falls into this category as well. The ability to cut and shape metal – however you do it – will put your skills in constant demand. I would include basic mechanical skills as well. If you have useful, non-electric machinery (windmills and well pumps and that antique sewing machine come to mind) and animal-drawn farm tools that you can keep in good repair, you’ll be in better shape than most of your neighbors.

Much has been written about home defense in the face of chaos. Every member of your group needs to be trained in the basics. Again, this makes a fine diversion here in the real world; I am continually astounded as to how readily the girls take to occasional outings to the local shooting range. Advanced skills range from leadership training and gunsmithing to tactical surveys of your terrain. One acquaintance (and this is an example of extreme and probably illegal preparedness) has located the most likely spots where an assaulting force might take cover and has not only set up lines of fire into those locations but has run underground wires so he can quickly connect and conceal his Claymores. I’ll hail his bunker from a good safe distance should the need arise!

Navigation by the sun and stars is an art that most of us GPS-enabled survivalists have never learned. It’s probably not necessary; chances are you’re already quite familiar with the locale around your refuge and establishing north from the stars or tree moss runs a distant second to a good pocket compass. But it wouldn’t hurt for your group to master some basic wilderness trekking skills. This makes for a fun activity; take a day class, or set up a course of waypoints and instructions yourself, with a prize (or food and beer!) at the end.

Agriculture and hunting are probably among the most necessary and most varied of these skills. Your group may already include avid hunters who can not only bring down food but prepare it in the field. This may include gunsmithing and bow hunting; it does not include recreational fishing, which is fun but usually calorie-negative. Agriculture in the face of adversity is actually more difficult than hunting. If you already have a hobby farm (and you should, in conjunction with your survival compound), think about how you would get water to your plants and animals without the electric pump at the bottom of the well. Raising fruits and vegetables is one thing; can you turn your wheat and corn into flour? This is a skill that will stand you in good stead in the face of long-term separation from the local grocery store. I would place cooking and food preparation in this category as well, where the big question is: can you prepare and store food for long-term storage without electricity or refrigeration? And for those with large enough lots, keeping animals – whether they be chickens, pigs, goats, or cattle – will be a great benefit over the long run. Sadly, agriculture as a hobby is almost always a money-loser – you simply cannot produce eggs for what they cost at the store and I weep every time I see corn at five ears for a dollar – but you may find home-grown tomatoes and free-range eggs sufficiently tasty to give it a try. And, while illegal, running a home still is both educational and entertaining – and good moonshine whisky might be as valuable a trade item as gold as well as useful as antiseptic or emergency fuel. In a real emergency, you can drink it as well.

A doctor in the group is pure gold, but the problems of long-term survival without access to modern health care are numerous and difficult to overcome. Are there diabetics in your family? Insulin will be impossible to find. Do members have high blood pressure or severe allergies? Your stockpile of medication will not last long and lifestyle changes will be required. Survivalist medicine runs the gamut from medical diagnosis and emergency surgery (do you want to lose a child to something as routine as appendicitis – or mistakenly cut into a belly when the problem is merely heartburn?) to growing and processing your own medicinal plants. Willow-bark tea is a far cry from oxycodone, but it may be all you can get. But at the least every member of your group needs to be trained in basic first aid, including dressing wounds and setting broken bones in the field. And for the long term, a good class in childbirth for the potential mothers and midwives in your group.

Like it or not, you and your group will have to interact with those around you – if for no other reason than to get news and barter what you have for what you need – and good social skills are a must. Fortunately, most of us work and play in large groups and the isolated hermit is a curiosity of the past. However, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your negotiating skills; the day may come when your life depends on it.

One could not expect any individual to master more than a handful of these; indeed, one could argue that the advent of individual specialization was the beginning of modern civilization. But even a fairly small group can cover most with relative ease. And practice of these arts as hobbies may lead to a good deal of personal satisfaction as well as the comfort in knowing that you are prepared for the worst.     

Hi Jim,
I just finished your book, "Patriots", (had trouble putting it down...), and am wondering if you could further expand your thoughts on what would happen in Canada under the same circumstances. There are only a couple of references made to Canada in your book - global socialist country (I believe it was), and Mary mentioning that they had "liberated Canada" at the end.

Obviously I live up here (Southern Alberta), and am currently prepping for TEOTWAWKI. Based your books, what should I be doing different? Or should be aware of? (Other than the outrageous gun controls we have.) Any advice or info is greatly appreciated. Kind regards, - Peter C. in Canada

JWR Replies: I think that some of the rural areas in Canada--especially western Canada--might do better than the U.S., if there is a "Grid up" deep depression. But if the grids go down, the more severe climate will likely result is a significant die-off in Canada, especially in the big cities and suburbs. But at least the cold climate will keep the refugee riffraff in the U.S. from heading in that direction.

There are a few nice exceptions in the Canadian gun and magazine ban, including the M1 Garand. Those will be covered in an upcoming article.

Don't miss this post over at Paratus Familia: Quarantine: A Preparedness Essential

   o o o

F.G. noted this article with map: Amish populations bugging out, gradually heading west.

   o o o

Thomas C. sent this: CDC Grand Rounds: Radiological and Nuclear Preparedness. Tom's comments: "I found it interesting that one of the initial examples they give is from August 2004 in New York City. They conclude with the statement "The public's maximal risk for exposure was less than that received from a single chest radiograph because of their distance from the radiation source." Yet it took them 24 hours to contain such a small incident. Any larger incidents could be devastating. For me, this reinforces the idea of knowing where the nuclear plants are and how much warning you might get in order to Get Out of Dodge."

   o o o

K.T. recommended this: Guerrilla of Arabia: How One of Britain's Most Brilliant Military Tacticians Created the Taliban's Battle Strategy

   o o o

M.B.B. sent us this: Eight months after Haiti earthquake, a nation hangs on

"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog when you are just as hungry as the dog." - Jack London

Monday, September 20, 2010

The preparedness movement is increasingly becoming a mainstream phenomenon. The latest evidence can be seen a recent post by Patrice Lewis at WorldNetDaily: Preparedness 101. Lewis is also the author of a regular blog that primarily covers self-sufficiency topics: Rural Revolution.      

The manuscript for the first sequel to my novel "Patriots" is now at Simon & Schuster, and should be published in around 13 months. (Deo Volente.) My sincere thanks to the SurvivalBlog readers that shared their expertise.

I'm now working on the second sequel. To give this upcoming novel the same authenticity as my first two, I would like to correspond via e-mail with:

  • Anyone that has been stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky in the past five years.
  • Anyone that has lived in or near Bradfordsville, Kentucky.
  • Anyone that has lived in or near Muddy Pond, Tennessee.
  • Anyone that has lived in Butte County, South Dakota.
  • Anyone that has lived in or near West Branch, Iowa.
  • Anyone that has lived in or near Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
  • Anyone that has lived in or near Morgan City, Utah.
  • Anyone that has lived in or near Waterville, Vermont.
  • Someone with tactical (field) experience with MLRS or ATACMS missile systems.
  • An expert on cell phone jammers.
  • A current or former UH-60 Blackhawk pilot.
  • A current or former LGM-30 Minuteman III crew member--preferably in launch control at a silo complex.
  • A current or former Trident FBM submariner.


I'm often asked by my consulting clients why I put so much emphasis investing in tangibles rather than in traditional investments that are denominated in United States dollars. The problem with dollar-denominated investments is that they are vulnerable to inflation of the currency unit itself. The U.S. governments over-spending and deep indebtedness is bound to catch up with it someday. And when it does, inflation and economic ruin will be the result.

But there is protection from inflation. If the majority of you assets are in tangibles and they are in your immediate possession, then you will be insulated from the searing heat of mass inflation. And, in the event a total collapse of the dollar, many tangibles can be used in lieu of cash, for barter transactions.

Which tangibles? I recommend buying farm land, common caliber ammunition, guns, hand tools, good quality knives, silver bullion coins, and gold bullion coins.

To spell this out in greater detail, I recommend:

  • Productive farm land that is in a lightly-populated region with plentiful water and rich topsoil.
  • Factory made ammunition in common calibers ("ballistic wampum") such as: 308, .30-06, .30-30, .223, .7.62x39, 12 Gauge, .22 Long Rifle (rimfire) .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and 9mm Parabellum (Luger). For your investment and barter stockpile, buy only name brands like Winchester, Remington, and Federal--and perhaps Hornady and CCI.
  • High quality guns from name makers, chambered in common calibers. Good choices include M4geries, AR-15s, Steyr AUG-A3s, HK91 clones, HK93 clones, Galil Golanis, Ruger Mini-14s, FN-FAL clones, M1As, .308 Winchester bolt actions, Glock double column magazine pistols, XD pistols, Colt and Kimber M1911 .45 pistols, and Saiga 12 gauge shotguns.
  • Well-made hand tools, with an emphasis on 19th Century technology tools, such as: shingle froes, scythes, adzes, draw knives, axes, crosscut saws, and so forth. BTW, many other old-fashioned tools are available from Lehman's.
  • Well-made knives, such as: Swiss Army knives (of various models), CRKT knives, and Cold Steel knives.
  • Silver bullion coins should probably be 1 ounce or less. Either buy 1-ounce bullion "rounds" from a name brand supplier like Northwest Territorial Mint or Tulving, or pre-1965 circulated US. silver quarters from a company like AMPEX.
  • Buy gold bullion coins only after you have secured at least 500 ounces of silver bullion coins. (Always prepare for a "disaster barter" situation first, and then move on to buying gold coins as a long term investment and inflation hedge.) In the U.S., I recommend buying only the most readily-recognizable gold bullion coins: American Eagles, Canadian Maple Leafs and Krugerrands.

It is difficult to predict when substantial inflation will emerge in the United States. There are too many variables that cannot be predicted. Some of them are essentially political, such as debt monetization, currency pegs, bailout programs, and changes in tax laws. Just be watchful for signs of resumed inflation, and be ready to act swiftly to get the balance of your investments out of dollars.

Dear Jim,

Welcome to the newer even bigger Nanny State here in Australia. Here is some information with regards to new national knife laws coming into force soon. ( I believe about six weeks ). For all your readers it will be of interest that the Australian Federal Government is going to ban all imports of the following: multitools, lockback folders such as Old Timer, Schrade etc, Swiss army knives, and Wenger army knives.

Never mind the fact that pocket knives and Swiss army knives have been used in Australia for over a century without trouble, but because of the explosion of knife attacks over the last few years, the responsible are being punished because of the idiots, first they disarmed us [of firearms], now they are going to the next level.

Of course the law sensible people won't comply or even register with the new laws, but what happens when your Gerber or Leatherman multitool needs repairs in the USA? You may be able to send it out of Australia, but it will get confiscated on the return leg!

The New South Wales Police are now requesting the name and address of all bona fide collectors. (Next will be all the bigger knives such as Ka-Bar, CRKT, et cetera.) Please note the Australasian Knife Collectors (AKC) refused to comply with supplying to the authorities peoples' names and addresses.

JWR Replies: Some Australians may consider this new law "the last straw", and wisely choose to emigrate. Sadly, 99.99% of the population won't. They will remain, like the proverbial frog in the soup pot.

G.G. flagged this: Look Around: There's Major Commodity Inflation Happening Everywhere

A rush to buy tangibles: Argentines Say Buy Now as 25% Inflation Outlook Buoys Car Sales

Carla M. wrote: "I have been shopping thrift shops all my life and when we moved to our current location that didn’t change. What has changed is that for the past three years sewing patterns had been .25 each, but two weeks ago the price jump to .99 each. As a side note, I can buy sewing patterns new for .99 when they go on sale at the local fabric and crafts stores."

A correction to a previously posted item: The Applegate Farms Organic Hot Dogs (mentioned by Reader L.C. in Inflation Watch on September 13th) did in fact go from 8 to 7 hot dogs per pack and remain at the same price, but what L.C. might not have realized is that while the new package contains only 7 hot dogs, it has remained the same weight as the 8 hot dog pack. The 12 ounce weight is now distributed among 7 hot dogs instead of 8, making each hot dog in the new pack 14% larger than before. My apologies for posting any dezinformatsaya.

Constitutionalist surge! SurvivalBlog readers in Montana should be aware that Steve Kendley's election bid for county sheriff of Lake County now looks very promising. Despite his "campaign on a shoestring budget" Kendley is now favored to win. If you live in Lake County, then please show up and vote on election day. And all Montanans should consider making a campaign contribution (up to Montana's $160 maximum). I hope that his election will encourage other Constitutionalists to run for sheriff! Oh, and speaking of Montana, don't miss Pastor Chuck Baldwin's latest piece on his family's upcoming move up to the land of Big Sky Country Mud Flaps.

   o o o

This news story illustrates that the 911 system cannot be trusted to respond adequately to home invasions: Police wait too long to help - family dies. Be armed at all times!

   o o o

I just received a sample of the latest-generation Kelly Kettle (also sometimes called a Benghazi Boiler, in British Commonwealth countries), from the U.S. importer. It looks very well-made. I was half-expecting it to be made in China, but was delighted to see that it was made in the EU. I will post a review as soon as one of us here at the ranch has had a chance to test it.

   o o o

Safecastle Royal has started their last 25% off sale on Mountain House canned storage foods for 2010, with some free bonus items, depending on the size of your order. Safecastle also resumed stocking real canned butter, from Holland. Stock up!

   o o o

Jason M. sent this: 900 pound gator caught in South Carolina. There's a lot of protein swimming around, down there!

"It is a proposition too plain to be contested, that the constitution controls any legislative act repugnant to it; or, that the legislature may alter the constitution by an ordinary act. All laws which are repugnant to the constitution are null and void." - Chief Justice John Marshall, in Marbury v. Madison, 1803

Sunday, September 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.

I  started "officially" prepping about two years ago simply based on the way things were starting to turn bad with the economy and for fear that a real depression was coming.  As I studied and read what other preppers were doing and the reasons they were prepping I came away with some useful knowledge and information that changed my perception of prepping.

My early experience found me gathering supplies helter-skelter and after several months I had no idea what else I might need to focus on.  Back in my younger day from backpacking experience, I knew I could make some one pot stews, start a fire, and live in the great outdoors for a week or more.  Just the same, that was a long time ago and I have much to learn. In my early prepping I gave no thought to medication, first-aid, or other essential things that are typically taken for granted but need to be a part of a real prep plan.

I found it wise to reevaluate from time to time the how's and why's of my prepping needs and priorities. What I mean is that as things change, it is important to know why I am prepping, how I am going about doing it, and if the anticipated event were to occur tomorrow, would I be ready enough to weather it out.

Then I have to ask myself, if an unanticipated event were to occur tomorrow would I even be close to ready for the event that I didn't plan for.  If the goal is to prep for a seventy two hour event as some government agencies recommend and a two week event occurred that would be a bad place to be. 

With that in mind, I found it is useful to make a list of events which could likely occur that would cause a condition where I have to rely on the supplies that are stashed away.  This list should include any possibility that it is believed could happen and then rate each item by the severity it might affect you and the likelihood that it could occur.

Much of this of course would be very speculative, but the list is for personal prep purposes. This should help set priorities on what supplies are most important and how much of each necessary item it may be wise to accumulate. An example would be if a flu pandemic is at or near the top of your list, then food, medicine, and sanitation supplies (including N95 respirators) are must have items.  If you determine that for this event you would want to quarantine the household for maybe three to six weeks then you have a measure of how much stuff you might need.

If you realistically have a list of possible events with say five to ten items on it, then you can start preparing for the worst case scenario starting with the top item on your list and work your way down as you get that done i.e.; dollar collapse, pandemic, earthquake.  You may find that once you prepare for the first item or two, you have the rest covered.

Of course I say this based on my own situation and your mileage may vary by a great distance. Personally, in my circumstance, living in a suburban setting with no real good rural retreat option, I don't consider it necessary to have more then about six months of supplies. If any SHTF event that is considered worse then a few months of Schumer flying past that whirly device, it may be next to impossible to protect.  In that type scenario, within just a week or two the Golden Horde will be out in hungry force and it will be like the "Return of the Zombies". Defense of course is a key component for any prepper, but without a group of armed and prepped neighbors to help defend the suburban castle, a family would be quickly overrun or simply burned out. In a grid-down condition, it would be just a few days before the first visitors looking for handouts will very likely by the unprepared that live near by. It would only go downhill from there, but I digress.

With an honest and real evaluation, you will now have a good idea of what and how much in the way of supplies you want to have on hand.  Next you need to determine if your prep plan is realistic and doable. For example, what if I have an EMP attack near the top of my list? What if I had it listed with a high probability of occurring and expect that it will affect the entire country with a grid down time of two to seven years?  

For that situation, I would want to be out in the boonies in a fortified underground bunker with enough food and other resources to last at least five years and a good source of water available.  Not to mention a well supplied and heavily armed group of dedicated defenders to keep it secure. Of course in reality, I would not be able to do this based on my current responsibilities and financial resources.  I'm fairly certain that at least ninety five percent of the population is in a similar posture.

The point is that you can only do what you can do but it's best to be realistic while doing it.  At the top of my list is the collapse of the US dollar. A pandemic or other natural disaster such as an earthquake and a terrorist attack (false flag) are also high on my list.  These are things that I can realistically prepare for in my suburban setting; at least to some degree.

If something thing worse were to come along (EMP, CME, comet hit) at least there could be survival for the early stages but in my view, the average person can't be ready for these extreme events.  This is not to discourage anyone from prepping for worst case scenarios but these type events would most likely result in a "Mad Max" scenario in short order. 

The main point is that you should determine what situation you are prepping for. Prioritize the list of items that are needed and start stocking up.  As you make progress, reevaluate from time to time and make sure that it's not all beans and bullets stashed away. 

Start with priorities such as water (including filtration and storage), and of course food. Then add the hygiene and sanitary supplies, first-aid, medicine, vitamins, money (silver, gold), security and branch it off from there based on any of the umpteen lists that are out there.  Be sure to include in your budget firearms training as a part of your security. In my view if you go to all the time and expense of prepping you better know how to defend it if it comes to that, but that is just me.

I suggest that you work on the list of critical supplies in two week intervals. This is just to avoid blowing the entire monthly budget stockpiling just one item. This would be especially true if you are in the early stages of prepping.  Hopefully this will ensure that if an event occurred you aren't stuck with just rice and tuna to eat but have no water, toilet paper, or sanitary supplies available.  

It is possible that for some things you may have to use the entire budget on one type item (such as gold or silver), just be sure to prioritize. Again, I have to emphasis that water needs to be at the top of the list including a way to store and sanitize it. 

It is also a good idea to keep a detailed list of these supplies as you accumulate them with a purchase date and expected shelf life.  Be sure to rotate for freshness, especially as the stock grows and you get close to topping it off.  Of course when you get to the top off point you should be making every effort to use the food supplies for family meals as a part of the rotation.  You could even start this early on to a small degree. This will give you a chance to get accustomed to what it would be like preparing and consuming the foods you stored. Use your propane cooker or whatever other method you plan on using.  Maybe even make it a point to do the prep with a lights out condition to get a real feel for it.

In conclusion, in order to ensure that you are staying on track with your current prepping needs, revisit your reasons for prepping from time to time; at least every six months.  Make a realistic list of the possibilities and reevaluate your reasons for prepping; assess your needs and priorities as conditions change.  Keep a detailed list of the supplies you've gathered with a purchase date and expected shelf life.  Be sure to rotate for freshness, especially as the stock grows and you get close to topping it off. Finally, make an effort to utilize some of the food stores routinely, especially as you rotate and top off.

Just remember, you might not be able to do it all at once, but even the tortoise gets to the finish line while the spectator just waits and watches.

Dear Jim and Family,
There are many web sites dedicated to Peak Oil. All the explanations, the various arguments about when and explanations about why and the different methods for mitigating this disaster. I've spent most of 10 years involved with it. Once you get past the Kubler-Ross Grief Process, then Peak Oil is a matter of approach. It's a huge problem for civilization, but its not necessarily an end.

I admit to being optimistic about civilization because we are adaptive people. We will find a way. I take a lot of cues from the Third World because they adapt first. It's very important to look at them, and look at how cultures have adapted to change in the past. It's popular to take the 1980s Apocalypse view of change to the Peak Oil Problem, but this is not rational. We are not the same people we were in 1983 and The Day After was running on television to scare us all out of Nuclear War with a ruthless depiction of MAD. We saw the light, we adapted, nuclear war will never be an all encompassing spasm. It will never be global or total because it is politically unacceptable. Any nation that tried would end up like North Korea, isolated, mocked, a pariah nation nobody wants to do business with. Peak Oil is as big an issue as global thermonuclear war. It really is. But the end of easy energy is not the end of energy. Its a temporary cessation of movement, and a reconstruction binge associated with it as we all come back to reality from the fun of Car Culture, something which is all we've known.

In the Third World, many people can't afford to own a car or the fuel to move it around. They get by other ways. Taking buses, riding scooters/underbone motorized cycles. Hitching a ride on a farm or work truck for a little money, a bicycle, or even walking. There are ways to get things done. We in the First World have had it really good, and the USA was a major oil exporter until 1970. As far as I'm concerned, that was Peak Oil. The day we had to start importing oil to meet our own needs is the day we lost control of our national destiny. It is ironic that all those presidents, even Richard Milhous Nixon, were right about our dependence on foreign oil costing us so much.

We are heavily invested in the trappings of oil dependence. Cars, planes, most buses, earth moving equipment, industrial civilization is mostly powered by oil. Getting away from that, so the oil left is reserved for vehicles is going to be expensive. We'll have to electrify rail, both for freight and for passenger lines. We'll have to bring back the Streetcar and put them in every town that's big enough to justify a bus service now. We'll have to smooth the roads left, and narrow them to adjust to the fact that we can't justify six lanes of empty freeway for no cars but lots of bicycles and scooters and a few trucks and buses going by. We'll also have to lower speed limits to save energy, the most irritating of mandates. Many of us are old enough to remember the 55 MPH maximum speed limit. Compared to today's 80 (officially 70 in many states), the countryside seems to crawl by at 55. Its important, though, and we'd better get used to it. Peak Oil makes it necessary.

Survivalism is about doing what's necessary. Anticipating government moves is part and parcel to Preparedness. Driving 55 on the freeway, and seeing scooters and bicycles in the slow lane is something which will become common as time passes, probably by the time the next President is elected.

As less oil is available, fuel will also become less available and more expensive. Right now, weakness in the world economy is keeping the price "low". That $147 per barrel of oil a couple years ago was not a fluke or one time thing. We should expect the price to creep up to that as the remaining oil gets more expensive to recover. As bad as the recent oil spill was, it was largely inevitable. Welding at that depth is bound to cause problems as the chemistry is not favorable for it. There will be other incidents like it in future. We're into the expensive and difficult oil, not the easy and cheap oil.

What expensive and mostly unavailable fuel means to you is you must adapt to the conditions. This is a long term and nearly permanent situation. The oil is going away. Alternatives take time and effort and money to develop. They aren't here yet, and what's available isn't affordable. So what can you do? You can carpool. You can take mass transit, if available. You can work closer to home and take the pay cut, or get training so that job will pay more, or other jobs become available. And you can get a motorcycle license and learn to ride a light weight fuel efficient bike so you can get to work wherever that is. This is what they do in the Third World when they want to get around. The 125cc 2-stroke is the third most popular motorcycle on earth. The scooter and underbone are the first two. The equivalent in 4-stroke, required in most states for legal highway access, is 250ccs. Its enough to get the job done and have good fuel economy.

Just as you would learn to shoot a rifle, the ability to ride a motorcycle is an important life skill. Having the bike is like having a full pantry with rotating stock. Just as you would keep a backup water supply or a well, alternative personal transportation is very important. This is what they do in the Third World, where they just don't have the resources we do. They get by on what's available and make it work. I admire their determination and ability to solve problems. We all should. Being a farmer is a lot of that. Living in the boonies, or huddling in the burbs to keep your specialized job, you can camouflage yourself with poverty and position yourself to survive by not sticking out, just adapting quietly to the conditions with a few less hardships. And if you happen to teach your neighbors to ride bikes to work, then you're one of many and that much less noticeable.

Eventually, sustainable fuel will allow us to have cars again, probably. But in the 10 years or so it takes to get that far, best case, we'll need to continue living and going to work. Peak Oil is a big change, but it is not the end of the world. It's going to be awkward and irritating and inconvenient and expensive, but it's not the end of the world. That's why you have to keep going to work. Make sure you're prepared to do what is necessary to get there. Best, - InyoKern

C.J. Chivers, the New York Times newspaper's Token-Guy-Who-Understands-Guns has posted an interesting piece about the weapons used by insurgents in the Middle East: What’s Inside a Taliban Gun Locker? Too bad that this article got relegated to a little-read blog page, rather than a prominent place in print. OBTW, a century ago American newspapers had both reporters with expertise, and editors with an interest in firearms. See, for example, an 1893 New York Times article about Krag rifle procurement. (Thanks to "Straycat" for sending the link to the C.J. Chivers article.)

   o o o

Michael H. sent us this news item: Two Tornadoes Strike New York City. Michael's comment: "Not your typical New York City weather, with only 10 tornadoes recorded since 1950. I'd bet that few of the people impacted were prepared, whether for having the power out for three days or having the roof ripped off their homes."

   o o o

Violent Crime Declined As Gun Sales Climbed in 2009
. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

   o o o

The latest video from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO): "No Guns For Jews". OBTW, here is a web page that describes some well-armed and well-trained Jews. These folks, showing the same spirit of resistance as just a small minority of Jews during World War II, will be able to say "Never Again", and do something about it!

"Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:

And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee." - Deuteronomy 7:12-13 (KJV)

Saturday, September 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.

Why should you practice growing vegetables now instead of before you may actually need them?  Well. As I found out, plopping some seeds and seedlings into the ground and then expecting a bounty was nothing more than a self delusional exercise this year.
I called this my practice garden from the start with the intention of learning some skills for planting food bearing plants to either supplement or replacing grocery store produce should the supply lines be disrupted or severed completely. 

Ultimately my goal is to produce enough to eat, store and seed for the next planting; a complete breakdown of civilization being on my mind. 

I‘ve learned with this little plot of land, about 10 feet x 12 feet, that if I want to be able to provide for my family that there is a lot to learn and best to do it now rather than in the middle of a meltdown.

I really was naïve and completely ignorant on several key points.

1st Planting list: Just to start the basic “easy” food stuffs.
Navy, Red, and Black beans,
Green bell peppers,
     And transplanted 2 Peach trees and 1 Blackberry bush. The Blackberry was chosen over Blueberry because Blackberries don’t require cross pollination.
     This first season the bush gave a handful of berries, and the trees produced about 10 peaches.
Trees had a problem with beetles but a name brand insecticide cleared it up.  Both trees are thriving after I dug out a water collecting basin and filled it with mulch to hold moisture to the roots, which I didn’t do at first and they were visibly in distress once full summer was on us.

Soil quality:  Should have tested the soil and amended appropriately for the plants I wanted to grow.      
     Also this Georgia clay is nothing to take lightly.  Had rented a mid-sized cultivator from a box store that did nothing but scrape the surface and pull up grass.  Still had to break the land with hand tools and by adding inexpensive bags of top soil.
    Again in thinking simple and not checking, I used a time-release granular fertilizer, if it had any affect there is no telling.

Bugs:  With Spring they came.  I used an insecticide powder.  Later researching found out that mild dish detergent or Mean Green would have done the job without adding poison into the production.  I went with the Mean Green, rinsing the plants after.

Soil Temperature:  While we had warm weather after Labor Day, just two or three weeks later overnight temperatures dropped into the 40’s. Already had corn and beans growing from sown seeds along with green bell peppers and tomatoes from already started plants.  They never recovered.  I didn’t know about the mid-50 or more degree soil temperature for most plants until after starting to plant.


Very patiently I waited, just in case. 
     Bell peppers never grew another inch with only 1of 4 plants even making an attempt at producing, a pepper that started and then finally it gave up. 
     Tomatoes did better but it was a long time before they caught back on.  Just as they started doing better an aphid invasion set in.  Some name-brand garden insect killer did the trick.  But here it is in mid-August with but one fruit born without defect lie splitting open or broken circles around the stems.
     Corn slowly grew, stopping at about 24 inches.  They tried to make ears, but stopped.
     Beans all stunted.  Some produced pods that then rotted on the plants before maturing.  The beans in school never acted like this.

     I had intended to grow the corn, beans and then a squash in the Three Sisters method.  Which is plant the corn first in a mound, then two weeks after the corn starts plant beans in the mound; the beans would use the corn stalks to vine up.  And the squash which I never planted because none of the rest was working would have produced bonded nitrogen for the corn and the way the roots grow a mesh of mulching.
     Had the Red beans in their own row as they are bush beans and don’t vine.
     The inexpensive top soil I bought turned out to me mostly chips of wood with some dirt.  What little dirt there was washed away from the mounds for the Three Sisters causing some plants to fall over, the roots to have nothing really to hold onto.

     In June I gave up on the corn, beans and peppers cutting them down and tossing them into my mulch pile.  Should have given up sooner and replanted that crop, but I wanted to try other vegetables also.

2nd Planting: June
Green peas,

     Only the cucumbers are growing right now along with some watermelon that I let the kids put in and never expected to grow…the watermelon are doing the best of everything.

3rd Planting: July
Pie Pumpkin
     Cleared the plot yet again except for the watermelons and cucumbers which are growing along 3 of the sides.
     Hoed a line down the center of the plot and sowed Pie Pumpkin seeds from last year’s homemade pie. 
     Now late August and the Pumpkin, Cucumbers and Watermelons are looking very good.  The Tomato plants have gotten tall and have green tomatoes on them, but every time they turn to ripen something happens to ruin the fruit.

     So an entire growing season gone by and all I’ve harvested are few berries, peaches and 1 small tomato big enough to garnish a ham sandwich.  But it was still the best tomato I’ve had in years; the smell alone was worth it.
    Peaches were so fresh and juicy, best I’ve had; having only store bought ones till then.
    And we broke open one watermelon a little premature but what was red was amazing, the entire house smelled so fresh.
    Pretty sure the cucumber, pumpkins, and watermelons are going to produce judging from what is happening right now.

     When fall comes on going to test the soil, use all the leftover plant vines in the bed over winter, add fertilizer, and expand the plot.
     Also going to add 2 more Peach trees and 2 or 3 Blackberry bushes to the yard next spring.

     During this season I did more research, gathered more ideas and am planning next year’s lot now instead of winging it like this years. 

     So why have a practice garden while you can without being stressed over producing?  Best answer is so that when the time comes to feed your family in a crisis you may have gained the knowledge and ability to do it.  Otherwise ya’ll might just be really hungry.


Soil temperatures: Alabama A&M Soil Temperature Chart.

Three Sisters planting: Kid's Gardening and Renee's Garden.

H.H. sent a web link that illustrates what can be accomplished with simple hand tools, and plenty of sweat. Simondale: A Low Impact Woodland Home

   o o o

K.T. suggested this article from an Australian military journal: Che Guevara and Guerrilla Warfare: Training for Today's Nonlinear Battlefields

   o o o

"Word" found this linked over at the Theo Sparks web site: Rebuild a Jeep in Under Four Minutes.

   o o o

A few Project Gladio secrets are revealed: NATO's Secret Armies. What are not mentioned are the veritable mountains of cached weapons and ammunition in Europe. A lot of those caches are still in situ, and they are not all in Switzerland.

"Once you consent to some concession, you can never cancel it and put things back the way they are." - Howard Hughes

Friday, September 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.

How do you bring up the issue of preparedness, and its urgency? Some people won’t listen, regardless of how you approach them. They will continue to put their faith in the government and society, convinced that what you do is paranoid, suspicious, and unnecessary. However, if they are family, and truly loved, I believe that it is necessary that we don’t give up.

My brother, God bless him, is an intelligent man. He is pursuing his masters at a university located around the Washington D.C. area so that he can go to work for the Federal Government. He puts his faith in the government, convinced that it can never fail, and that while it makes mistakes, it will eventually do the right thing and will get better.

I have tried, on numerous occasions, to approach him about the need to be prepared. Each time, he has ignored me or changed the subject. My problem is that he is family, and so I have to keep reaching out to him, regardless of his attitude. In my opinion, it’s not an option.

I have been racking my brain on how to approach him, again, and have it stick. I’m not looking for him to buy into the eventual TEOTWAWKI, just to get him to start thinking about being prepared. When I heard about Hurricane Earl, I thanked God for another opportunity to bring up the situation to him. I know it sounds strange that I would thank God for a hurricane, but as I’m writing this, there’s no certainty that Earl will hit the D.C. area or the Eastern Seaboard – and I fervently hope that it doesn’t.

I sat down and sent the following e-mail to my brother this morning. (Note: Some items have been changed to protect his privacy and mine. I have included my thoughts and reasons on why I phrased things the way that I did in italics:

Hey Bro,
I know that you're busy with the start of class and all, but with Hurricane Earl having the possibility of hitting or grazing the D.C. area, I figured that it wouldn't hurt if I sent you a quick e-mail with some things you need to think about now.

I know he hasn’t been following Earl at all. We talked last night for two hours, and he never brought it up once. His text back to me basically said he wasn’t even paying attention.

I've been reading up on what happened at Katrina and some other hurricanes, and how the Floridians prepare for these sorts of events, so hopefully that knowledge can be of some use to you.

He really doesn’t know that I prep, and I’m not going to tell him about my preparations until he’s fully accepted the idea that being prepared is just plain smart, and he’s actually taken some concrete steps to be prepared himself. So, I need to “explain” how I know this stuff.

The first thing I want to tell you is that you need to have a plan in place, if you don't already. Remember that no plan survives its first contact with reality, so be flexible. However, I can't overstate the importance of having your plans thought out before you go to bed tonight. You need to decide if you're going to stay in place or evacuate. If you're going to evacuate, you need to make sure that you have all routes out of town mapped out, including major freeways and back roads, as well as fill your cars up now, and don't let them run below 3/4 tank until after the storm has passed. Also, pull out cash from the ATM now, and take more than you think you'll need. ATMs run out of money very quickly once a crisis becomes apparent, and they don't work at all when the power is out.

Remember that if the order to evacuate comes, or once it becomes apparent that Earl will hit the DC area, it will be too late unless you're already prepared to go. You won't have time to wait in line for gas, or pick up money from the ATM - you'll need to bug out as soon as you start feeling "weird" about the situation. Trust your gut.

He has no plan. He hasn’t even thought about having a plan. He doesn’t know where to start, so I have to give him a starting point. A basic evacuation plan, along with making his cars are full of gas, is something simple that can really help him. He’s in class, so if I ask him to go drive all the evacuation routes, he’ll just ignore that piece of advice, and it may cause him to ignore the letter. Baby steps. Crawl before you walk.

How do you address “when to leave” for those who haven’t thought about it? The best answer is what another poster stated: When you have that “Oh God” moment. Trust your gut. That’s the best knowledge I can impart to my brother.

I also know that he’s never considered the possibility that the ATMs won’t be working.

Know where you'll go. If you’re going to friends, call them now and make sure it's okay if you show up with little to no advance warning. If a hotel significantly inland, you'd better make sure you have reservations. Again, hotels fill up very quickly.

Who remembers Hurricane Katrina, where every hotel was booked solid? And what about friends, will they be expecting you? My brother hasn’t considered any of this, so, again, baby steps.

Have a suitcase packed for you and your wife ready to go at a moment's notice. Have a meeting place picked out so that if you're at school and she's at work, and it comes time to go, you know where you can meet. Make sure that you're keeping your vital documents with you, including ID, credit cards, social security card, and anything else you think you need.

Bug out 101. Cars ready, cash ready, routes ready, bag ready, documents ready.

If you're going to stay in place, you're going to need food and water, at least 2 weeks worth. FEMA and the American Red Cross recommend that you have a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person per day for basic needs. Since there's you, your wife, and your dog, this comes to 2.5 gallons per day for drinking and very basic sanitation (rag baths - very sparingly). Go to Wal-Mart or Target, and pick up 7 5 gal. Arrowhead water containers - these will work great and you can use them later if the hurricane doesn't hit the area.

Really, in Grasshopperland, who really knows how much water you need to survive? We who are prepared consider this basic level knowledge – but for those who never gave this a second thought, you have to start off with the simplest of items. You have to quantify how much of what they’ll need to get through an event.

If you need extra money because you can't afford this, I'll wire you $300 today as a gift so you can get what you need. You wouldn't need to pay me back.

Eliminate the monetary excuse. I want him to be prepared in case Earl or or a subsequent hurricane strikes. I can’t just give him knowledge; I also have to help him out in case he can’t afford it.

For food, you need two weeks of food that you don't have to cook. Go with canned food from Wal-Mart or Target again, or food that doesn't require any refrigeration. You may have no power, and you may not have access to any cooking fuel. Make sure to get a big variety of canned meat, beans, rice, fruit, chips, etc., so that you're not eating the same thing again and again. Get an extra basic can opener, and some disposable plates. Make sure you get enough to feed you and your wife at least 1500 calories each person per day. Don't forget your dog - make sure that he has extra food as well.

Again, in Grasshopperland, the power always comes on when you turn on the light switch. The stove always cooks, the microwave is always available. Except when they stop working. You have to explain the basics, and lay it all out in simple terms. Again, you have to quantify how much food they need. Is 20 cans enough? 200 cans? It’s hard to say – but if you give the requirements in minimum caloric requirements, he can look at the back of the labels and do the math to make sure he has enough.

A serving, when it comes to food, is very misleading. I have found that if you eat 3 meals a day, you’d better be eating 500 to 600 calories (perhaps more) per sitting. Giving him a base requirement of 1,500 calories a day per person will help him make quick decisions at the grocery store and ensure that he gets enough food.

I also covered the basics of food variety. We all know the importance of that, but your average Grasshopper will probably go out and by 1 50 lb bag of rice, figuring that the rice is enough to keep them alive if they need it. Of course, we know that cooking this rice will be a problem; along with eating rice everyday will get old, quick.

And really, who wants to do dishes in a short-term emergency?

If you don't have a first aid kit - get a basic one with some bandages, ointment, and some big gauze pads. Make sure you have flashlights, and an emergency radio with a hand crank. Don't forget extra batteries.

Here's what I really want to impress upon you - you need to do these things now. Once you find out that Earl is barreling towards D.C., everyone will be out in panic mode. It's better if you have everything figured out now, in your apartment, ready to go. If you wait, it may be too late.

How many people think that if they need something, they can just go down to the store and pick it up? The shelves are always stocked in Grasshopperland, and there are always happy and helpful people waiting to assist you. It never occurs to the fine citizens there that a time may come where things may not work quite as intended.

Also, don't tell anyone what you're doing. If Earl hits D.C. and things get really bad, you want to make sure that you don't become a target. This includes making sure that no one sees that you've bought extra supplies. Wait until very early morning or very late in the evening so that you don't run into your fellow apartment dwellers. And tell your wife to keep it off of Facebook.

OPSEC 101. His wife is an avid Facebooker. Their entire lives are up on that infernal site. Hopefully, she’ll keep this one under wraps.

One of the reasons Katrina was so bad was that people waited on the government to come and rescue them. They took no precautions, had no plan, and had no supplies ready. If something really bad happens, it takes the feds at least three full days to mobilize and come in. Until then, you're depending on local police for protection. The best way to not be a target is to not identify yourself. Or as Monty Python said, "The first rule of not being seen is not to stand up."

There is a great Monty Python skit, of which my brother is a big fan. The skit is a parody of an informational film entitled: “How Not to be Seen.” This is something that my brother can relate to though funny, it can be used to parallel the need to be discreet. I used this so that he would quickly grasp the need to be discreet and apply some basic common sense towards OPSEC.

So, just to close, here's a quick list of what you need:

1. Plan to get out or stay put.
2. Plan on where to meet and how to get out.
3. Fuel up both cars and keep them full.
4. Suitcase ready to go.
5. Two weeks water.
6. Two weeks food (including dog food).
7. First Aid Kit
8. Emergency Radio
9. Flashlights
10. Spare Batteries
11. Disposable plates, forks, and knives.

Repeating what I had said in paragraph form, so he can print it out and head off to supply. The simpler you make it, the more likely they’ll follow your advice.

Hope this isn't necessary - but it's better to be safe than sorry. If Earl completely bypasses DC, you can always drink the water and eat the food, but if it hits, then you'll really need it. Think of it as short term insurance. - S.V.

I know that this will not cover everything that he needs. I know that there are many more subjects that I would need to cover for him to deal with any of the possible scenarios that could arise if Earl strikes DC. However, this is simply for him to think about and to put in place some basic precautions.

Immediately after I sent him this e-mail, I texted him to read it when he got the chance. After about 10 minutes, he sent me a bunch of questions, which shows to me that he’s taking this seriously. He promised me that he would go get supplies this evening, as well getting his plan together.

His immediate plan is to shelter in place. He thinks he’ll be safe in his building – a high rise that was built 3 years ago. His building also has a fairly large amount of military personnel living there as well, so it may be secure if SHTF.

I pray that he follows through, and actually does prepare for this. Since I’m on the other side of the US, there’s really no way to know for sure; but it sounds like he’s serious. This potential emergency may have been what he needed to open his eyes.

Sometimes, we have to make use of an impeding emergency to impress the importance of preparing on those who are closest to us who haven’t listened so far. - S.V.

ATI Gunstocks Adjustable Hunting Stock for pump shotguns
are American made, well-thought out and offer a lifetime guarantee. This stock fits all three major American brands—Winchester, Remington and Mossberg pumps. It comes with stock and fore end and a bag of adapters.

I first tried it on a Remington 870. For installation, you will need a #2 Phillips screwdriver and a 1/2” socket wrench. Installation is reasonably straightforward, and the instructions are quite clear with good photos that cover disassembly of the original as well.

The stock easily adjusts for 13-14.5 Length Of Pull in four stops, which is good for customizing to the shooter, or to adapt for clothing, but doesn’t collapse nearly as much as an AR carbine type stock. I found the full length to be comfortable, and the minimum length was adequate for my average sized wife (5’5”) but not short enough for youths. However, the pistol grip was too long for me with the Remington stock
adapter in place. I had trouble reaching the trigger (I typically install a 3/4” spacer on my ARs to lengthen the trigger pull), and my wife could not reach without raising her grip considerably. The comb height was perfect, and that is also adjustable with a set screw. I can only recommend this for shooters with large or long hands. On a Mossberg 500, no adapter is needed. The grip length was much better and comfortable for my hands. The balance was excellent, and shooting comfortable.

The smooth black plastic matches most blue or phosphate finishes and looks very professional. - SurvivalBlog Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson, author of the new science fiction novel Do Unto Others.

James Wesley:
Regarding the recent article at the Time magazine web site that has been forwarded far and wide: What Your Cell Phone Could Be Telling the Government. Remember, this is America. While there is no better place on earth to live, you are never any more free than They allow you to believe you are at any given moment. All you can do is live out your life, raise your family, eke out some happiness, and try to affect the change that is important to you in the short time you are here. It is certainly worthwhile (and patriotic) to be distrustful of Government, but I refuse to live under the thumb or watchful eye of my government. The first step in making them understand they work for us is to just refuse to play the game or let them dictate the Narrative in the first place.

Google is a prime example of why you have a lot more to fear from Corporate America than you ever did from the .gov. That is saying a lot. Corporations are a lot more free to abuse and damage you than the .gov will. A day is coming where every 'questionable' thing you ever did on the Internet or bought with a credit/debit card will be made available for a fee. At first it will be used for pre-employment screenings and to expose political enemies, eventually it will be offered to anyone for a small fee. Our Government would kill to have as free a hand as Google does! - C.D.C.

JWR Replies: I have my doubts about the government's current access to Internet data "without a warrant." It is noteworthy that Katie Jacobs Stanton, a former Google Project Manager now works in the Obama White House.

Several readers sent this: IMF fears 'social explosion' from world jobs crisis. Here is a link to a key PDF from the study: The Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion--Discussion Document

When Will Net Energy from Fossil Fuels Peak?

RBS sent this: How Debt Can Destroy a Budding Relationship. $170,000? Did Ms. Eastman do the math on how long it would take to make her college education pay for itself?

Siggy sent this: Tap Dancing on A Land Mine

Items from The Economatrix:

How Hyperinflation Will Happen In America. (This excellent essay was originally posted in Gonzalo Lira's blog , now getting wide exposure at Business Insider.)

Gold As Money

Analyst: Basel III Is Irrelevant, Won't Stop Next Crash

Out Of Fashion (The Mogambo Guru)

Credit Card Writedowns Increase in August

Japan Buys Dollars to Weaken Surging Yen

How to Tell When The Recession's Really Over

Stocks End Mixed as September Rally Loses Steam

KAF sent this: America's 10 Worst Places to Live

   o o o

Video: Grizzly Bears Moving Into Human Territory

   o o o

Martin S. sent us a link to a piece about beneficial Birds, Bats, and Bumblebees

"Little accustomed as we are to stone buildings, it may be thought by many to erect such an one (sic) would be a great undertaking, yet it may be done without either great expense, nor much difficulty. Hammered or chiseled stone is adapted to public buildings, or the houses of the wealthy, and is expensive; but comfortable, decent houses may be built with common stone, such as we would use for good field walls. Such stones laid in strong mortar, will make an excellent building,either by facing the wall with stones, if fit for the purpose, or by rough casting the wall after it is built." - J.M. Gourgas, New England Farmer, January 25, 1828 (as quoted by Helen and Scott Nearing in: Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely & Simply in a Troubled World)

Thursday, September 16, 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.

Becoming self-sufficient during a financial meltdown is difficult enough, but trying to convince reluctant loved ones to prepare can be doubly frustrating. It’s hard to understand how anyone wouldn’t want to start stockpiling their pantries after watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and more recently the devastating floods in Pakistan. We all watched the newsreels; millions of homeless and hungry fighting for a spot in breadlines. If that isn’t reason enough, the U.S. continues to be threatened with nuclear attack. Meanwhile, most of us are hanging by a gossamer thread between solvency and financial ruin. We see the reason for preparedness. Why can’t our loved ones?

If the evening news hasn’t spurred those closest to you into action, try mentioning some demographic numbers. Larry Matlack, president of the American Agriculture Movement expressed his concerns with the following statement: “Our concern is that the U.S. has nothing else in our emergency food pantry. There is no cheese, no butter, no dry milk powder, no grains or anything else left in reserve. The only thing left in the entire Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) inventory will be 2.7 million bushels of wheat which is about enough wheat to make 1⁄2 of a loaf of bread for each of the 300 million people in America.”

If Mr. Matlak’s statement doesn’t wake people up to he fact that the US does not have the resources to feed the hungry should a calamity occur, then you might mention that
China and Indonesia are importing a large portion of their grain and corn demands from the U.S., along with alarming skyrocketing energy prices, an ever-weakening U.S. dollar, and a trade imbalance that appears to be largely ignored.

As reported by Business Week, nearly every food staple has seen a double-digit percentage since 2007, including a 38% hike for a dozen eggs, to $2.16, and a 19% jump, to $1.78, for a loaf of white bread, according to data from the American Farm Bureau. With Americans spending 15% of their household income on food and drinks, rising grocery prices have spurred consumers to turn to bulk food versus typically consumer-packaged counterparts, at a 35% savings.

Not all Americans are willing to risk going hungry should the efforts of the administration and the Federal Reserve fall flat, as is being warned of over the past several weeks. The National Gardening Association reports that in 2009 some 43 million U.S. households grew vegetables, fruits, or herbs—an increase of 7 million from 2008 with an estimated 21% being first-time gardeners.

Hopefully, these facts will push your loved ones towards preparedness. If so, the prudent thing to do is point them in the right direction for success. Few of us have the cash flow to rush out and buy the food storage and goods it takes to weather a crisis. On top of that it can be confusing, filled with a landmine of potential failures.

Here are a few tips you can pass on to your loved one to kick-start their preparedness. My preparedness steps were done with a pocketbook that whimpered each and every time I added to my preparedness stash. But before sharing how I prepared, it’s only fair to mention that I was not interested in learning how to hunt bear with a bowie knife, field dress a deer, roll my own ammo, or learn to change out the fan belt on a CJ7. I’m leaving that to my brother, bless him. But for anyone looking for advice from a frugal gourmet, meets a kinder, gentler Davy Crockett, then the following might be of help:

One: It helps to think of yourself as temporarily penniless, because that is basically what you will be until your list is complete. But remember; just the fact that you can prepare is a miracle that is worth praise.

Two: Take stock of your living conditions that does not include wishful thinking. If you live in a city with no yard to grow vegetables, where personal safety may be at risk, survival basically boils down to a plan B. The best solution would be relocating to a rural or wilderness setting as soon as possible, even if it means you must rent. Baring that, you might start looking for a get-away cabin, somewhere to flee to during troubled times. But if the cost is too prohibitive another alternative is to join forces with family members or friends already living in a rural area. It isn’t always a matter of money. Most of us have skills that are every bit as important as money. If you’re skilled at hunting or fishing, you have a valuable asset to contribute! The same goes for medical training, gardening, home canning, or handyman expertise.

For those who can’t do any of the above, the next-best approach is to research a safer location that is near enough to your location to reach when calamity strikes. There are negatives attached to this approach, as with a crisis comes looting and mayhem. Because of this, many will be forced to flee the city, and it stands to reason some of them will show up at your chosen location.

Your exit plan, whether it is to take off to a cabin in the woods, or join loved ones, or to flee to a nearby location, should include contingencies for gridlock. Folks will run out of gas and have car problems, meaning they will abandon their vehicles, clogging the roadways. This writer believes planning ahead should include electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack—a situation that will render many vehicles [within the affected footprint] useless and will take out electrical in the effected area. There are ways to protect vehicles, radios, and other survival goods from the effects of EMP, and a search on the Internet will bring you to those sites, but for most of us, it’s wisest to plan for the worst. It’s impossible to know exactly what a crisis will entail, but gridlocked roadways are a given, so make plans for getting to a safe place without benefit of a car.

Taking stock of living conditions includes a critical eye to available storage space for food and water storage. It should be pointed out, however, that no one has enough space for long-term water storage, yet water is the single-most important item in a survival plan.

The following are methods to keep stored water safe for drinking:

  • Chlorine bleach (make certain it contains a 5.25% solution of sodium hypochlorite without soap, additives, or phosphates). The ratio is 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine bleach for each gallon of water.
  • 2% Tincture of Iodine requires 12 drops for each gallon of water. Warning: pregnant women, those suffering with thyroid disease, and those who have had an allergic reaction to iodine should consult a  physician before use.

Once you’ve stored a few weeks worth of water, you’re work isn’t done. You must scout for a water source in your area for the time when you run out of stored water or set up a water containment system if your climate supports one. This should be done right away, before a crisis. In an emergency, even a stagnant pond can provide safe drinking water, provided you use a good water filter. I recommend either a Berkey or a Katadyn water filter. They are the top brands on the market.

Those living in rural settings should plan ahead for a dependable water source as well. During a crisis, the electrical grid may go down, and in such a scenario, even well water will not be available, as your well pump will be inoperable. If you’re fortunate enough to have a well, a manual hand pump is an important item to have on hand to draw water. If you’re handy, it’s possible to make one and the instructions can be found on survivalblog as well as other sites on the Internet.

Next you will want to plan for food storage. Starting small is fine. Most of us don’t have the cash flow to purchase what we will need in one gigantic shopping spree. To strive for one year’s worth of food is a prudent approach, and there are many food calculator sites that offer advice on recommended amounts. Before getting started, take stock of the storage space you have available. Do you have the room to store canned, bulk, and dehydrated foods? Just as important; do you feel your location will be safe during a long term crisis? If your answer was no to either of these questions, then MRE’s (meals ready to eat) may be your solution. They have the benefit of portability and they take up less storage space. Another huge benefit is they do not require cooking, so they don’t generate cooking odors—something to be avoided when looters are lurking.

For those that live in a rural setting, your choice in food storage is more a matter of choice and budget, which leads to the third tip.

Three: Prepare for a worst-case scenario. By practicing this, it’s much more likely you’ll be able to weather whatever comes your way.

For anyone who relies on prescription medicine, preparations for a worst-case scenario should include a discussion with your doctor for emergency prescriptions. Many survival/preparedness sites offer lists of other medicines you will want to put aside—stock up!

Strive to set up a survival plan that is as renewable as possible, meaning a wood heat stove or a fireplace insert for heat rather than depending upon the utility company. In a crisis, it is possible utilities will not be available for the short-term, and quite possibly, the long-term. The same goes for cooking. A propane camp stove is good only as long as your supply of propane holds out. For this reason, before you begin to purchase survival goods, think about how our forefathers lived before electricity and the luxury of automobiles. If you must, watch reruns of Little House on the Prairie Series. You never saw Laura Ingalls go without, did you? With a mindset of renewable resources, a wood-burning cook stove is an excellent solution for meal preparation and can be purchased in used, workable condition for a few hundred dollars. They are also a reliable heat source for smaller spaces. If your location happens to be larger, you can partition off an area with heavy blankets that will provide a warm sleeping space during colder months. An alternative for those who live in rural areas is cooking over a fire pit. There are excellent cookbooks on cooking with cast iron cookware and for baking. Investigate cast iron dutch ovens and reflective ovens. However you approach it, it’s important to stop viewing electricity, propane, natural gas, or running tap water as a given. It isn’t! Prepare for a worst-case scenario.

 Four: Prioritize, research, and learn everything you can about preparedness. That way, you will be able to get prepared sooner with fewer mistakes. A good example of what I mean by ‘mistakes’ would be purchasing an electric wheat grinder for stored wheat buds you’ve put aside for flour. If the electrical grid goes down, an electric wheat grinder would render stored wheat useless.

There is no such thing as too much knowledge when it comes to preparedness. The bad news is that preparedness has many facets, each one important to survival. The good news is the information you need can be found on the Internet for free, such as This is where you can get information on food and water storage, recipes, safety, and gardening—all with excellent tips on cost savings. Get involved and ask questions. Most people on survival/preparedness sites are happy to help.

There will be occasions when nothing but a good, informative book will do. Some that come to mind are books on first aid, gardening specific to your climate zone, a thorough book on wild edible and medicinal plants, preparing/preserving wild game, and home canning. 

Five: Pinch every penny as if your life depended on it! If you’ve never clipped a coupon, then rush, don’t walk, to your computer to locate grocery circulars for your areas grocers. Never a coupon clipper until four years ago, I learned it’s possible to save upwards of 90% by shopping sales and coupon clipping! It’s also important to find out when your local grocers hold their flat sales—on average you’ll save at least 50% on canned goods. Look for grocers that sell bulk foods and spices. This typically saves at least 35%, and many times, much more.

Don’t forget to check with local growers—most are happy to sell to the public, many times at a 50% savings or more. Here in North Idaho, I was able to save 70% on a large wheat purchase over the next cheapest price at a grocer’s that sold in bulk. I also got to meet some great people in the bargain.

Bulk foods are best stored in food grade buckets with tight lids. They can be purchased for around $7, new. Many times, buckets can be found at restaurants, pizzerias, bakeries, and delicatessens for free. Just be certain any buckets you collect contained only food items and not chemicals or anything else that would render the buckets unsafe for food storage. Mark all buckets, number 10 cans, and canned goods with the date of purchase with indelible marker. That way, items nearing the end of their shelf life can be consumed, and then replaced. Many survival/preparedness sites offer detailed lists of the shelf life of foods. 

Six; Don’t ignore physical and physiological wellness. If you’re like the majority of Americans and are out of shape, consider a ½ hour walk or a daily workout. That way, the extra physical demands that come with survival will be easier to handle.

For anyone who has not taken a CPR or first aide class recently, now is the time to sign up for one. In a crisis, it is likely that medical help will not be available, or if it is, it may arrive too late. Get your loved ones to join you. Should the worst happen, there will be more than one in your group who can administer help.

Be sure to educate yourself on disaster preparedness in the event of a nuclear attack. There are tactical steps to take that will ensure your and your loved ones safety. All it takes is educating yourself via the Internet—including SurvivalBlog.

Taking a self-defense course is also advisable. During a time of unrest, it is important to have the tools to disarm an attacker, allowing you to get away safely. 

Physiological well-being includes familiar foods and why many survival and food storage sites recommend that comfort food be included in your food storage plan. There is a big difference between surviving and thriving. Keeping comfort foods on hand such as popcorn, trail mix, cakes, and cookies will offer a sense of stability during difficult times, especially for the very young and the elderly.

Plan for entertainment. Stocking craft items such as paper, coloring books, crayons, pens, pencils, and finger paints for young children will give them a feeling of normalcy during trying times—especially if television, video games, and the Internet are not available. Games and reading material are also worthwhile to set aside. Recently, my local library held a sale on children’s books that were being replaced for 10 cents each. For a few dollars, there is now a full bookshelf that will help entertain the children in our group.

Seven: Plan for the long term. One years worth of food storage is an excellent start, but in a protracted crisis, it’s best to be prepared for the long haul. Few of us can afford to put aside more than one year’s food storage, nor do most of us have the storage space. For that reason, investing in heirloom garden seed, home canning supplies, and preparedness items such as a good tree-felling axe is important in the event of a long-term crisis.

If your loved ones are convinced they will not be able to afford to prepare, let me offer my circumstance as an example. I am a single woman living in Northern Idaho—a place of great beauty, but pitiful with regards to income potential. I began preparing four years ago, researching everything I could find on preparedness with expediency and cost effectiveness at the forefront.

Today, four years after starting my preparedness program, I have relocated from the city to a cabin on seven acres with plenty of land for gardening. Its location is as far away from potential looting as possible in an area of small-hold ranchers and farmers that are no strangers to self-sufficiency and protecting their homesteads. In the event of a crisis, the twenty-two immediate and extended family members I’ve provided for may be packed in like sardines in this modest cabin, but we will be safe and have the tools to survive a long-term crisis.

There’s an antique wood-burning cook stove in my kitchen, waiting for a time when it’s needed, preserved cheese hanging from the rafters of my rustic kitchen, and eggs preserved in a vat of water glass (something the ‘experts’ say is impossible). Outside there are six cords of seasoned firewood for heat and cooking when the time comes.

Not everything is ideal. I haven’t been able to afford a root cellar, so food storage remains is in a storage shed that meets basic requirements; a cool, dark, moisture-free environment. I still don’t have the Country Living Grain Mill that is at the very top of my wish list, but I do have a much less expensive one that was recommended on several survival sites. Once I’ve saved for a grain mill, I plan to buy a 4-wheeler for transportation.

Like many preppers, I doubt I will ever feel completely prepared. But what I do have is a safe place for my family when the time comes with a well with a manual hand pump, and I am blessed with neighbors who will have each other’s backs when the time comes.

The bottom line is that with sacrifice and a can-do attitude anyone can prepare. But time’s wasting, folks, and if you have determined it’s time to prepare, the time to start is now! 

This has been covered before, but I'd like to reinforce that use of garage sales for low-key cash purchases of essential survival items. In the past two months I've been making weekend trips to various community garage sales - spending an average of less than $20 per weekend. Most of the items cost me less than $10 each and I often only paid $1 or $2. The following is a partial list of the haul:

2 - Complete dissection kits with scalpels, forceps, etc
1 - Craftsman toolbox, steel, in good condition
1 - 19th Century wrench
1 - Drawknife
1 - New two-mantle Coleman lantern with spare mantles and fuel can with can
1 - Glass kerosene lamp with bottle of fuel
1 - Used Coleman lantern, one-mantle
1- Good condition 5 gallon USMC metal gas can
1 - Set of woodworking gouges
1 - 9mm holster new
1 - Shotgun cleaning kit
2 - Police band /Public service band/Aircraft band scanners (1 base and 1 portable)
1 - Wooden ammo box suitable for storing boxes of .22 LR
2 - Working portable radios, battery powered
1 - Crank/battery solar powered radio (suitable for recharging rechargeable batteries)
1 - Set of socket wrenches and assorted hand tools (hand drills, screwdrivers, etc)
1 - Large crowbar
1 - Fishing outfit -- rod, reel, and tackle
1 - Backpack
1 - Coleman camping stove -- small one burner
1 - Army mess kit
3 - .50 caliber military issue ammo cans
1 - Bench vise

I passed on a number of other good items -- for reasons of space, budget, or lack of need including several portable Coleman propane stoves, tents, winter clothing, tools, at least two 10-gun capacity steel storage cabinets and an Egyptian AK-47 rifle. I did pick up a single shot 12 gauge shotgun for $80 as my "big purchase". Perfect firing condition except for needing cleaning -- so I spent another $45 for a full disassemble, checkout, and cleaning by my local gunsmith. - Joe T.

Mr. Rawles-
The recent article "A Woman's Perspective on Personal Self Defense" reminded of a situation that occurred 16 years ago. I can honestly say that the self-defense classes I took in college saved my life.

I was at our local mall with my then seven month old son. We were strolling around, looking at the decorations when I noticed a guy who I thought was following me. After a little more strolling, I went into a couple of stores. Not only was the creep still following me, I caught him rubbing himself- with his hand down his pants while he was watching me. I made eye contact with him, but he just licked his lips and kept going. I knew then that if I went out into the parking lot alone, I was not going to make it home. I was afraid to walk into a store that wasn't very crowded, or down one of those lone hallways into a bathroom.

I took a long look at the man, making sure I could describe him in detail and walked through the mall until I found a mall security guard. As soon as I approached the guard, the creep took off. I gave him a description of the guy, and the guard walked me out to my car and waited until I had loaded my son and stroller into the car before I took off. I drove around for a long time, making certain that I wasn't being followed before I went home.

That evening, I turned on the news and saw a photo of the creep who had been following me through the mall. He had followed home another woman from the mall (who also had a baby) and attacked her inside of her house. He threatened to kill the baby if she didn't cooperate. A neighbor saved her life when he broke into the house and fought her attacker.

Here's the odd thing: The creep was a convicted sexual offender. He had just been released from prison that same morning after serving 20 years for aggravated rape.

I renew my First Aid and CPR training every two years, and I also "renew" or "refresh" my self-defense training at the same time. I consider it a well spent investment of my time. - BLW

JWR Replies: I recommend much more frequent firearms practice. Even urbanites can make the time to go shooting four times a year. Get top quality training if you can afford it. If you are on a budget, the training offered by the RWVA's Appleseed Project and the Western Rifle Shooters Association are genuine bargains!

Peter Schiff Says U.S. is Powerless to Prevent Runaway Inflation, Silver to Soar to $100

US poverty on track to post record gain in 2009. It is noteworthy that in 2008, the poverty level stood at $22,025 for a family of four. But that would have been considered "upper middle class" back in the 1940s. So part of this impoverishment can be attributed to the hidden tax of currency inflation. We need a sound currency!

G.G. mentioned this item: 59% of Canadians would be in trouble if their pay was delayed by a week

Another step in the staircase of inevitabilities: States cutting benefits for public-sector retirees. (A tip of the hat to Sue C. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

One Abyss, Then Another

FMI Says that World-Wide Labor Market is in "Catastrophic Situation"

IMF Warns of Economic Slowdown

August Retail Sales Up 0.4%, Best in 5 Months

Save The Banks And Kill The Economy

Gold Is The Best Asset Class To Be In

Several readers sent this troubling article: 'Cabbagegate': Man Fined $5,000 for Home Garden

   o o o

Ham radio operators: The American Preparedness Radio Network has chats on Sunday and Thursday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern Time in the 80 meter band on (or about) 3.818 MHz. (All the usual OPSEC provisos for public venues apply.)

   o o o

Record U.S. Arms Deal With Saudis Advances. David in Israel notes: "This could be spun that the Arabians are purchasing arms for a confrontation with Israel or Iran. But If you use your nose for news and Follow The Money, it could mean that the house of Saud is no longer interested in petrodollars and wants something of value. Guess guns still have a good barter value especially 20mm M-61s attached to high performance aircraft."

   o o o

Long range weather forecasting expert: Winters of 2012, 2013, 2014 Could be Frigid. (Thanks to Home's Cool Mom for the link.)

"Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith." - Alexis de Tocqueville

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today we present a guest article by Roxanne Griswold of Ready Made Resources.

Imagine this frightening scenario and try to envision yourself here: You’re strolling through an empty parking lot at dusk thinking about the events of the day when suddenly your arm is clasped from behind and pulled forcefully downward. Your head crashes against the unforgiving concrete. Blood gushes from your nose. Before you have a moment to process anything, your attacker is now on top of you, beating your face with open fists. Gasping for air from fear and excruciating pain, you scream and slap him in an aimless attempt to shield yourself, by which time he has secured your flailing arms. His eyes are dark and empty. He barks out orders that your mind fails to decipher, while pressing the icy blade of a knife against your throat. Your shrieks of panic echo through the air, but no one seems to hear. Subdued under the weight of his body, you have nowhere else to turn. You are the next victim.


For the better part of half my life, I was to a perpetrator the perfect, unsuspecting victim. I had all the key elements for an easy take down: Though I was physically fit, I lacked situational awareness, the proper mindset and the necessary skills to defend myself in the event of an attack. Sadly to say, I embodied the average woman. And I can’t even use the excuse – I was young and stupid – for what I know today can be taught, learned and applied at any age.

If you’re fortunate enough to have been trained in the art of self defense from childhood - more power to you - but women are typically indoctrinated from youth that fighting is for men and that they lack the physical dominance and strength to defend themselves. Although this may be true to a point, personal self defense is not measured by the size of your muscles, rather possessing the proper mindset to perceive a threat, executing the proper skills to overcome the threat, and purposing – as much as it depends on you – never leave with your attacker to a secondary place, lest you become the probable “investigation site”.  If your mindset is such that physical strength matters more than these principles to ensure your safety, then you’ve missed the point. Personal self defense has little to do with strength.

Let’s face it gals (and guys) – times are rapidly changing for the worse, and as morality and the economy continue spiraling downward, so does your security. You cannot nor should you leave your safety solely to the government, local law enforcement, and - even in some cases – to your own family: You must learn, possess, and practice these self defense skills for our survival. These newly acquired skills quite possibly may also save the lives of those you cherish most. No matter how well meaning our government agencies might be, what if they simply are not there when you or your loved one is attacked?

There are three essential principles we must adhere to in a self defense situation if we expect to overcome the odds of being injured – or worse yet, killed:

Principle #1: First and foremost, we must possess the proper mindset to perceive a threat by maintaining situational awareness of our immediate surroundings. How do we do this practically? Train your mind to be proactive and aware. Study people as they’re approaching you; look at what they’re holding, how they carry themselves. Make eye contact – it demonstrates confidence – and perceive their possible intent by their response. Know what is behind you, beside you and even in front of you. Glance under, around and inside your car before entering. Never park next to a van with tinted windows or no side windows, or beside a car with suspicious characters. Notice anything out of the ordinary. Trust your intuitions. Always confirm or refute your suspicion or it “may well” become your threat! Oftentimes while driving, my husband will ask me: Without looking, what color is the car behind you? Or after passing someone in the grocery store, what was that man wearing? At times it seems somewhat silly, but I believe it’s these practice drills that may one day save my life.

Most attacks are perpetrated upon easy prey. What do I mean? To understand the tactics of the predator, you must get inside his mind: Would he prey upon someone who holds her head high, keys in hand, shoulders square, scanning the horizon for anything unusual, or one who obviously has her mind elsewhere, shuffling to her car, cell phone glued to her ear, fumbling for her keys, clueless? The first would be a fighter; the latter, a vulnerable, easy target. See it from the perpetrator’s perspective, and don’t give him what he wants.

The late Jeff Cooper, author, speaker, president and founder of The American Pistol Institute developed what he called the the “Color Code of Readiness”. The “white zone” is when someone is oblivious of his surroundings and immediate environment, typical of the one described earlier. The “yellow zone” signifies someone has situational awareness, conscious of everything within his visual reach, ready. At “orange zone”, the person is alert, perceives a threat and has already determined to act if need be. And finally, at “red zone” the person’s has actually encountered a specific threat that poses immediate consequences to his personal safety. At this point, he should fight or take flight using clear, concise verbal commands and movement. If you want to dramatically increase your odds from avoiding or evading a threat all together, you must purposely be on guard at yellow, orange and red zones, depending on the severity of the threat. Never, under any circumstance, choose to live in the “white zone” – to do so could reap severe penalties.

Being situationally aware also means making wise choices and taking extra precautions even in ordinary and oftentimes suspicious situations. In everyday practical living, be aware of the person watching your transactions – such as showing your driver’s license to the cashier while some shady character behind you gets a quick glance of all your personal information. While driving or on foot, beware of the person or car behind you. A good rule of thumb: If you’re being trailed behind after three consecutive right turns, there’s a good chance you are being followed. Do NOT go home at this point, lest you reveal your place of residence to this possible perpetrator. Drive to a well-lit, populated area like a large gas station, or better yet, the police department! Assuming you have a cell phone, you may even want to call 911 if you fear for your safety.

Principle #2: We must execute the proper skills to overcome the threat by honing some hands-on self defense techniques now.What good will it do for you to practice the first principle but at some point fail, then find yourself pinned to the ground by your attacker with a gun to your head, or – like our earlier scenario - feel the icy edge of a knife against your throat from behind. Trust me: You don’t want to end up there! This is where practical, personal defense training becomes critical. Here are a just a few suggestions:

a. Practice and become proficient with a firearm. Though the mere sight of a handgun intimidates many women, it’s a great place to start. The only way to overcome the fear of the unknown is to gain a working, practical knowledge of the thing you fear. Contrary to popular belief, guns aren’t dangerous - it’s the criminal behind them, or those who simply do not understand the basics of handgun safety. To be efficient in a deadly situation, you have to be comfortable with defending yourself, and it begins with the proper training and practice.

Get involved. Contact your local police department – like I did with my first exposure to handgun training – and inquire about any self defense training offered. Check online or your yellow book pages. Many gun stores also have an indoor shooting range for a nominal fee. In varying locales, there are outdoor shooting ranges and gun clubs available. With a little inquiry, you will find that you are not alone. There are many folks just like you with varying walks of life who share the same belief: We cannot depend on others for our safety in a world of increasing moral, social and economic decline. Self defense training starts somewhere, and the practical skills of using a handgun are just one of them.

Though a handgun can bring a sense of security to an otherwise dangerous world, it cannot always protect. What if you simply forget to carry it on your person or you cannot get to your weapon prior to the attack? What if your attacker is able to knock the gun out of your hand, or fear arrests you and you simply cannot maintain the collectiveness to shoot with precision? These are real questions that to ponder them when it happens is to risk being a victim. Though handgun training is crucial, honing other self defense techniques can be a wise backup plan.

b. Learn and master the necessary techniques while conditioning your body to subdue, or – better yet – escape from your attacker. Self defense is not for the weak and winded. In order to preserve yourself in a deadly situation, your physical body must be prepared with both the stamina and skills. Going to the gym, lifting weights, or running on a treadmill provides some physical conditioning to resist exhaustion in the heat of an attack, but even that is not enough.

Remember our earlier attack scenario? No doubt without the proper training and body conditioning – aside from Divine intervention or sheer coincidence - you will not be prepared for the sudden abuse to your body, fear will arrest you, and you will lose the battle. There are far too many victims than victors to prove this point, but it doesn’t have to end this way. You do NOT have to be the next victim and your fate is truly up to you. Instead of one day living out this frightening scenario, let’s rewind the scene: What if you knew how to break the fall when landing on the ground so that you did not injure yourself? What if you knew how to defend yourself effectively on the ground with controlled breathing techniques while countering the attack to your eventual escape? This is what body conditioning and self defense training – like martial arts – can do for you.

If you’ve never experienced a “simulated attack” including some of the pain involved with a real attack then you’ll never know what to expect. Close Combative Self Defense training provides the environment to learn and feel what it’s like in a “simulated attack”. You learn techniques to defend yourself against any punch, kick, grab or throw. If your attacker knows how to counter your defense, there is also a counter to his counter. These techniques are traditionally taught in many martial arts schools, and should be acquired by experienced, Certified Martial Arts Instructors. Jiujutsu and Judo are just two of many styles that involve grappling and ground techniques, which I believe is where self defense is most practical. Ground self defense techniques are so important for the obvious reason that the majority of all attacks end up on the ground at some point: The key is knowing what to do effectively when you’re there – and this comes through awareness and honing the techniques proficiently. As Master Larry Hartsook, Eagle Karate Systems, astutely states (and is part of our martial arts school motto): “You are as you train.”

Some other self defense techniques involve turning the tables on your attacker by giving him the opposite of what he expects. It’s called diversion. First, you fain fear and vulnerability only long enough for him to let his guard down, then with ruthless aggression you divert or attack. Your action will beat his reaction. For instance, if your attacker towers in front of you with a gun, spewing out profanity in an effort to manipulate, you hold up your hands and plead for your life. Then before he has time to blink, swiftly step to the side, blocking, and compromising the barrel of the gun with the outside of your wrist and hand. Your immediate intent is a counterattack once the gun is out of his reach or escape. Another technique is attack by combination: For instance, the attacker attempts to grab you from the front, you execute a knee strike to the groin; his hands drop while you eye gouge or throat strike him; repeat the process. Be ruthless. Be aggressive. Continue to strike. Surprise even yourself, but never give in.

There are many ways to prepare your body for action, but martial arts ranks highest in my opinion. It creates confidence and fosters self esteem in one’s ability to face fear with tenacity and resolve. It also builds endurance and tolerance of pain. I’m used to bumps, bruises and broken bones – fingers and toes, mind you, but it still hurts! When faced with your attacker, don’t be afraid of pain. Though pain may seem like your enemy now, it may one day be your friend. Learn to endure it so you can easily overcome it when it really matters most.

In addition to physical training, mental preparedness is just as important. And this leads us to our third principle: Never, under any circumstances – as much as it depends on you – leave with your attacker to a secondary place lest you become the probable “investigation site”. At some point of an attack, you may be subdued and dragged against your will to a vehicle or threatened with a weapon to drive to some remote place. Your attacker has no sympathy at this point – not that he ever did – but you are almost certain to be his next victim if you ever submit.

Many of you may remember the Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom case in Knoxville, Tennessee, where a young couple was carjacked at gunpoint, bound, and taken to a rundown rental house. One can only imagine the horror of being tortured, repeatedly raped and finally murdered. I cannot write this without feeling immense sorrow, especially when I realize these vicious, inhumane acts of violence quite possibly could have been avoided. The point is don’t ever surrender or submit – even with a gun to your head – to leaving to some other place. Your chances of survival are greater to run away while your perpetrator attempts to shoot you; or to jump out of a moving vehicle if you find yourself already in the car with your attacker.

This happened to a lady I met years ago who’d also taken the same self defense classes I had. Leaving the mall parking lot one evening, she got into her car, ready to put the key in the ignition when she felt a knife against her throat from behind. He demanded she move to the passenger’s side while he jumped into the driver’s seat and sped away. Frightened, though maintaining her initial cool, she remembered principle #3: Opening the door, she jumped out while the car was still moving! Though hospitalized with a few cuts and bruises, she is still alive today. Yes, leaping out of a moving vehicle may break bones, but submitting to the animal that has no intention of keeping you alive after he’s satisfied his primal urges, is playing with fire.

It may seem overwhelming to think that even you can learn and apply these three principals. First you need to know that physical strength is secondary to overcoming the obstacles of self defense. If you become increasingly aware of your immediate surroundings while honing the necessary self defense skills to ward off an attack, you will dramatically increase your chances of survival; and even if you are subdued, to determine now that you will never submit to your perpetrator’s attempt to take you to a to a secondary place. Though it’s good to set realistic expectations when it comes to your personal self defense, don’t let complacency keep you from doing nothing at all. Just make a commitment that you will start somewhere and follow through until your proficiency outweighs your feelings of inadequacy, fears and doubts.

- Roxanne L. Griswold, Ready Made Resources

Dear Sir:
I recently read your FAQ regarding the laws involved in purchasing pre-1899 firearms. It was dated 2004. Have any of the protocols significantly changed in the past several years?

I am also curious to know which pre-1899 revolvers function best with current production ammunition.

Any info would be of assistance. Thanks. - Louis P.

JWR Replies: My advice on buying pre-1899 guns is essentially unchanged. Prices for pre-1899 antique cartridge guns are continuing to advance much more quickly than inflation. (Just as I had predicted.) In recent years, Smith &Wesson revolvers have started to catch up in price with Colts, also as I predicted. (Although antique Smith & Wessons are still undervalued, and hence a great buy.)

Most antique revolvers seem to do well digesting modern smokeless ammunition, because these loads--at least those from the major manufacturers-- are intentionally made extra mild, with antique revolvers in mind. There are a few notable exceptions, most notably the Colt Lightning (.38) and Thunderer (.41) double action revolvers, which are weak designs and notorious for shooting themselves loose with all but the most mild handloads.

The availability of cartridges has actually improved dramatically in recent years, in part because of the growing popularity of Cowboy Action Shooting. This new demand for "obsolete" cartridges has encouraged manufacturers to make brass and cartridges for some cartridges that were formerly very hard-to-find. A special tip of the hat to Starline Brass. Without them, many of the obsolete pistol calibers would still be truly obsolete. The following are just a few examples:

  • .32 S&W Long, made by Stars and Stripes Ammo, and others.
  • .32-20 Winchester, made by Stars and Stripes Ammo, and others.
  • .38 Short Colt, made by Fiocchi, Stars and Stripes Ammo, and others.
  • .38 Long Colt, made by Black Hills Ammunition, and others.
  • .41 Long Colt, made by Ultramax, and others
  • .44 S&W Russian, made by Black Hills Ammunition, and others.
  • .45 Schofield, made by Black Hills Ammunition, and others.
  • .455 Eley, made by Fiocchi
  • .50 Remington (both Army and Navy), made by Stars and Stripes Ammo.
  • 6mm Lee Navy (aka .244 Lee) , made by Buffalo Arms, and others
  • 6.5x53R Dutch, made by Buffalo Arms, and others
  • 7.65mm Argentine Mauser, made by Old Western Scrounger, and others.
  • .38-55 Winchester, made by Stars and Stripes Ammo, and others.
  • .38-56 Winchester, made by Buffalo Arms, and others
  • .38-70 Winchester, made by Buffalo Arms, and others
  • .38-72 Winchester, made by Buffalo Arms, and others
  • .40-60 Marlin, made by Stars and Stripes Ammo, and others.
  • .40-60 Winchester, made by Stars and Stripes Ammo, and others.
  • .40-82, made by Ten-X Ammunition
  • .43 Dutch Beaumont, made by Buffalo Arms
  • .43 Egyptian, made by Buffalo Arms
  • .43 Mauser, made by Buffalo Arms
  • .45-76 Winchester, made by Ten-X Ammunition
  • .45-90 Winchester, made by Buffalo Arms, Ten-X Ammunition, and others
  • .45-110 and .45-120, made by Ten-X Ammunition
  • .50 3-1/4" Sharps, made by Buffalo Arms
  • .50-70 and .50-90 Sharps, made by Ten-X Ammunition, Buffalo Arms, and others.
  • .55-50 Spencer, made by Ten-X Ammunition
  • .577-450 Martini-Henry, made by Ten-X Ammunition
  • .577 Snider, made by Ten-X Ammunition

Quite a few other calibers (such as .30 Luger, .405 Winchester, and 11mm French Gras) are custom loaded by Bob Shell or are available from Old Western Scrounger. It would be great to find someone making .38 Merwin & Hulbert .44 Merwin & Hulbert ammo. I suspect that the lack of "base" brass is what is preventing that.

John in Texas wrote a great piece about Lessons Learned from Hurricane Ike. He wrote that his neighbors have ignored the hazards of a hurricane, and that his wife still believes the money spent on a generator is a waste of money.

In a somewhat similar experience, many years ago, while living in the Chicago area, we had a winter in which we had a tremendous amount of snow. Tired of shoveling the white stuff, I purchased a snow blower during the next summer. The following winter we had an unusually light snowfall. One day, while my co-workers were laughing at me for wasting my money, I asked one of them if he had life insurance. The man nodded. I then pointed at him and laughed, saying, "You must feel like a fool, spending money on something you haven't used. What a waste of money!" Then I asked if he had health insurance, and if he was disappointed that he hadn't had a major medical issue for which he could take full advantage of the insurance.

I've tried to explain to others that the idea of insurance, preparations in this case, is not something I want to use - it's there just-in-case. If we never use our inventory of supplies in an emergency, great! If we do need them, then. - Dean C.

California home equity hangover: $649 billion in HELOC loans nationwide with most in California.

Two Years Later: The U.S. Economy Still Needs a Spark Plug
Two years after Lehman Brothers collapsed in a $639 billion bankruptcy and the short-term financial markets seized up with terror, we've backed away from the brink. But skittishness in the financial markets hasn't gone away. It's just taken a different form -- for instance, driving gold prices up 56% from $805 an ounce on Sept. 3, 2008, to $1,253 Sept. 3, 2010.

With spot silver now solidly above $20 per ounce, and spot gold above $1,260, I hope that I will now get less flak for being a "gold bug." Back in 2001, when I proclaimed that silver was at the beginning of a bull market, many people though that I was a loon. (Silver was then under $5.23 per ounce.) But I now feel vindicated when I see headlines like these: Stocks, Treasuries, Gold Gain on Fed Bond-Purchase Speculation.

'Too Big To Fail' Author Weighs In the the Financial Crisis: Then and Now. "It felt like the world was on fire," recalls writer Andrew Ross Sorkin, whose book Too Big to Fail covers the financial crisis at its peak. Yet, he agrees, the financial world as we know it, isn't really that different now.

Items from The Economatrix:

Gold Prices Surge to Record High

US Outlook Prompts Warnings by Japan, Australia Central Banks

Market Gains as Economic Outlook Brightens

SEC Expands Stocks Under "Circuit Breakers"

Nervous Americans Want Easy Access to their Cash

Homebuyer Tax Credit: 950,000 Must Repay

US Joint Forces Command Warns that Huge US Debt Might Lead to Military Impotence, Default or Revolution

1 In 10 Banks on FDIC Problem List

Reader M.P.S. notes that there are two coupons for home canning jars currently available at on You can print each coupon two times.

   o o o

A follow-up: Mayor Eddie Perez (recently mentioned in the blog) was sentenced to three years in prison, and three years probation, of a possible 60 year sentence. Perez was convicted on five of six felony charges. He is one of the rogues gallery of Mayor Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns members that have been indicted or convicted of felonies including Sheila Dixon, Kwame Kilpatrick, Gary Becker, Larry Langford, Samuel Rivera, Jerramiah Healy, the late Frank Melton, Will Wynn, and David Della Donna. One can only wonder what the felony conviction rate is for members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, versus the general population. It is noteworthy that a felony conviction in the U.S. brings with it the loss of the right to own a firearm, for life. So at least these socialist mayors have been successful in getting a few guns out of the hands of criminals--themselves.

   o o o

Camping Survival just received two pallets (100 cases) of military specification MREs that had been out of stock since the Haiti earthquake.

"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad." - James Madison

Tuesday, September 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.

When my son was around three months old, I needed to run out and pick up milk and a small tool my husband had on order at a local hardware store.  I anticipated the total outing to be around an hour, and thought I had packed appropriately.  We successfully made it to the farm where I picked up our milk for the week, and placed the glass jugs on the floor of the car.  During the drive to the hardware store, my son woke up and started fussing which rapidly escalated to a full-blown tantrum.  When exiting the freeway, the glass jugs rolled together and one broke, spilling a half-gallon of milk over the front of my car.  We arrived at the hardware store, where I parked around the back.  I hopped into the back seat, fed my son, where he promptly over-filled his diaper and soiled the clothes he was wearing.  On opening his diaper bag, I discovered that I had planned poorly for my outing.  I had several diapers, but no change of clothes.  I’m sure you can imagine this palm-to-forehead moment as I stared in horror at the puddle of milk in my car, my filthy child, and the cold January afternoon outside.  While this event was frustrating and challenging to take care of (I cleaned my kiddo, wrapped him in my jacket, and used the extra diapers I had to sop up the milk, then ran to the store and bought him a clean outfit to wear home), it taught me the value of being prepared for any contingency, a lesson every new mother and father eventually learns.

As avid outdoors’ enthusiasts, my husband and I are always toting our small child out on adventures.  We hike, bike, rock climb, hunt, camp, and disappear into the wilderness every chance we get.  When our son was seven months old, we planned a month-long rock climbing adventure in St. George, Utah, which required frequent drives and hikes deep into the desert wilderness.  Preparation for the comfort and care of an infant for a single-day in the mountainous desert took extensive research.  Between the two of us we carried all of our climbing gear, enough food for about 8-hours, warm clothing (down jackets, cotton long-sleeve shirts and pants, wool hats, and a wool bunting suit for our son), a lightweight travel-cot for our son, blankets, toys, and standard diapering supplies.  On reflection, however, I realized if we had ever encountered a challenge that required us to stay the night in the desert, or hike out due to a flat tire, we would have been in serious trouble.  It never occurred to me to carry extra food in the event we were out past dinner, or a change of socks, or a proper first aid kit, or more diapers than absolutely necessary.  Weight was a huge concern, and we relied on the fact that we weren’t too far from civilization and other rock climbers. 

Shortly after our return from our trip, I read The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler; joined a back-country hiking group of moms; and my husband broke his leg at a local climbing area which very quickly demonstrated how dependent I was on him for carrying capacity of our daily gear.  It struck me that in the survival literature that I’ve read, there is no discussion on ensuring the safety of an infant.  On a personal level, ensuring the survival of my son is the most important thing I could do in any scenario; in a TEOTWAWKI situation what could be more important than well prepared women who know how to ensure their babies can survive?  So,  I began reflecting on what was truly needed should something ever occur that required me to survive alone with our son.  Using an extreme example, could I pack a bag that contained everything my son and I would need to survive in complete wilderness and isolation for three days, including carrying my son?

As I began building my lists and sorting out what I truly needed, weight was a primary focus.  At 5’1” tall and 105 lbs, I can’t expect to carry more than 50-60 lbs, including my son.  A strong man could undoubtedly carry far more weight, but he doesn’t have the advantage of being able to breastfeed and has to carry all of the food and additional gear required for an infant’s milk/formula.

The planning involved with this also emphasized the need to stay fit and active; have sound first-aid skills that are applicable to an infant (most local first-aid courses include training on infant first-aid); have a good understanding of wilderness survival and knowledge of the region you’re planning to survive in (in my case, the Pacific Northwest); and know your limits.  Traveling with an infant restricts your ability to hunt for food, so knowledge of basic traps for small game is helpful.  You can’t plan for silence from a child when he is completely out of his element, so you need to ensure you don’t attract unwanted attention from predators (human and animal alike) as a result of your child’s crying.  Your focus when surviving with an infant needs to be on warmth, security, hygiene, and food.   Finally, when planning for a worst-case-scenario survival situation, cost should never be an issue.  Unless you live under a bridge, you’re never too poor to afford the best quality items.  You’re life will depend on the choices you make, and the choices I made for my own survival with my son reflect this.

So, on to my list:
Carriers – if your child is less than 5-months old, invest in a Moby Wrap baby carrier (about 2 lbs.) and learn to use it.  It’s a long swath of comfortable cloth you wind around your torso, and tuck your small infant in against your belly.  This is a secure, comfortable, and warm way to carry an infant.  It leaves your arms free, and you can carry a standard backpack. 
Once your child can comfortably sit up on his own, I recommend the Littlelife Voyager.  It weighs 6lbs, 3 oz; has the most carrying capacity of any infant carrier, and has a maximum load of 44 lbs.  Invest in the rain screen, which you will find valuable for keeping your child dry and comfortable above your shoulders.
Combine this with a hip-pack that you can wear in front, packed with essential small items, I carry a S.O.B. (Soldiers Optimized Butt Pack) tactical pouch, which is a good size for carrying a small handgun, my knife, flashlight, compass, maps, snacks for my son and myself, and water) .

Gear –

  • 1.8oz - Swedish Firesteel
  • 11oz - Backpacking cookset which is big enough to wash diapers in.  I found the Open Country 5-Piece Nonstick set to be ideal
  • 8oz - Biodegradable, phosphate free soap – Campsuds fit the bill perfectly
  • 4oz - Hand sanitizer gel
  • 3.1oz - MSR Ultralite pack towels
  • 2oz - String for hanging diapers to dry, building traps, and a myriad of other uses
  • 20oz - Water filtration system such as the Katadyn pocket filtration system, or go super light with iodine tablets
  • 13.2oz - Diapers – avoid packing your standard cloth or disposables, and instead get a set of Gerber baby organic birdseye diapers (10oz for 6 diapers), and combine with 2 Gerber waterproof diaper wraps (1.6oz each)
  • 12oz - Wipes – rather than getting pre-moistened wipes, pick up disposable dry washcloths which are lightweight, cotton, and will work well for multiple applications, just remember – you must have water to use them
  • 4oz - 2 small, lightweight food containers that can hold 4oz of food each. You will find it helpful to be able to prepare your baby’s food in advance, as they typically require food of some kind every two hours;
  • 3lbs - Food – a personal choice, as you can choose to carry MRE’s or freeze dried foods.  If you go with freeze dried foods, plan on at least 2lbs worth that can be cooked soft enough for your child to share with you (if he’s eating solids by this point), and remember that an infant cannot digest complex foods yet, do not choose foods that are heavy in salt, contain honey, or egg whites, and if you don’t know yet about allergies, avoid nuts.  Include in this weight any formula or cereal your child needs.
    • On an additional note to other breastfeeding women, remember you need to take care of yourself.  Do not skimp on food because it makes your load easier to bear.  Your body needs proper nourishment and water in order to care for your child.
  • 2.5lbs - Water bottle for yourself, and to share with your child – at least a 1-litre bottle, whatever you can carry
  • 6oz - Sippy cup or bottle for your child; necessary if using formula
  • 1lb - Survival Knife – get one of quality that can strap to your thigh or has a good sheath for MOLLE attachment for ease of access
  • 1.5lbs – Hatchet (Swedish handmade quality is vital)
  • 6oz - LED compact flashlight (both a Petzl Tikka headlamp and a Surefire 6P or similar)
  • 3oz - Compass
  • 3lbs - 1st Aid Kit; In addition to a standard kit, remember to include in your kit the following important items you may need:
    • Infant Tylenol; gripe water; diaper rash cream; lanolin for breastfeeding; nasal syringe bulb; nail file; Vaseline; natural insect repellant (not DEET based); tweezers
  • 6lbs 12oz - A tent of some sort – I prefer the Bibler/Black Diamond Tempest as it’s lightweight, compact, and can withstand any weather on earth.
  • Lightweight, good quality clothes for layering in.  You can find light wool layers for your child, as well as a lightweight wool bunting suit, I have found that natural fibers like wool work far better than synthetics in maintaining an infant’s core temperature; Make sure you have at least one down jacket packed for yourself, large enough to snuggle your child in when sleeping at night; down booties for sleeping; extra socks; at least one full change of clothes for your child (weight varies depending on your need); hats for you and your child (wool and/or cotton beanies and a waterproof cap with brim for yourself.  Your own clothes need to have a top-layer that’s reasonably water-resistant, and have warm, comfortable, waterproof hiking shoes that are ready at all times.
  • Thermal blankets

After careful calculation, my total weight before clothing and blankets are considered is 30 lbs.  With the weight of my son added in at 23 lbs, I’m within my limit range of 50-60 lbs.  After estimating clothing and blankets, my total 3-day emergency kit for wilderness survival averages close to 60 lbs.  Remember that children grow rapidly, so you can’t plan on the emergency clothes too far in advance.  Always invest in a few high-quality clothing items that are slightly large on your child, and that are durable, warm, and can be layered.  I can just lift my pack into position on my own with my son in place already.  For a long hike, I need to carry a set of lightweight poles to help support the load.  For a TEOTWAWKI situation, I intend to carry a Walther P22 with appropriate ammunition in my hip pack. [JWR's Comment: A .22 rimfire pistol might suffice for stopping small game, but it would be foolhardy to depend upon one for self defense.]

Each person is unique in what their situation may bring about. If I were to use a stroller or car for planning my survival, I could carry significantly more gear and in far greater comfort.  However, I wanted to use an extreme example, from which I could adjust my calculations for other situations such as when I have my husband to help share the load. 

I hope that by sharing my experience in preparing for the survival of an infant, others will also take the time to invest in appropriate items to ensure their smallest and most precious cargo will survive regardless of the situation.       


Thank you for your excellent blog. It is one of my daily read sites, no matter where in the world I am. The Hesperian Foundation just published their updated 2010 version of Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook by David Werner. It is 450 pages and has lots of excellent updated information. The download version is free, but I highly reccomend purchasing the paper copy for $22 USD
The last I heard paper books are still EMP proof. It will be nice to have a useable reference, if and when the computer is fried!

Best Regards, - The Consultant

JWR Replies: Thanks for that update. Readers should be sure to order the latest (2010) edition. Also note that translations in more than 180 languages (From Albanian to Zulu) are now available.

Reader R.P.B. recommended the 12-part instructional video series, available free on YouTube, prooduced by Analytical Survival.

   o o o

Reader James C. spotted this: Look what happens when you cross a skateboard with a tank

   o o o

Bill R. sent this NPR piece: Consumers Still Gear Up, Camp Out In Recession

   o o o

Yet another reason to avoid social networking web services: Burglars Picked Houses Based on Facebook Updates. (Our thanks to G.J. for the link.)

   o o o

J.B.G. liked this piece by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: The backlash begins against the world landgrab. Gee, investing in productive farming land. (Does this sound familiar?)

"Indifference to evil is evil." - Elie Weisel

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday (September 13th) is the last day of the big sale at Ready Made Resources on Mountain House freeze-dried foods. Don't miss out!


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. Introduction
As of September 2010, it appears that physical silver is today potentially the most explosive precious metal play in history. A combination of factors – chronic scarcity, inelastic demand, and expanding consumption has created potentially one of the most profitable opportunities ever seen. The following analysis presents the base rationale for purchasing silver. Furthermore, significant evidence exists to point towards downward manipulation of the silver market by large bullion banks, further compressing the market. It is this author’s opinion that a parabolic top in silver could easily surpass the 20x rhodium price increase from $500 to $10,000 over a five year period as the market realizes the supply shortage. Silver’s supply and demand are analyzed below to provide a background for the reader.

II. A Scarcity of Silver
Total world silver production from the prehistory to the end of 2001 was estimated by the USGS to be 1.26 million metric tons, or 40.5 billion troy oz. The Silver Institute reports that 5.1 billion oz have been mined from 2001-2009. In total, 45.6 billion oz have been mined in history, with roughly 1/9 of that total in the last decade. The Silver Institute and GFMS conclude that approximately 800 million oz existed in total above ground official stocks (governments, COMEX, other dealers, and ETFs combined) as of the end of 2008. Assuming that jewelry and other private stocks are unaccounted for, let us assume that an additional arbitrary 200 million scrap oz can be recovered. Furthermore, there is no justification for ETFs to be included in silver stocks – in theory, the ETFs are supposed to hold investor’s silver and to include investor silver in inventories would be to double-count them. Recall that the Hunt Brothers’ silver squeeze in the 80’s pushed many to liquidate scrap silver, implying that individuals today probably either 1) did not sell at $50/ounce in 1980, and probably would not sell now, or 2) sold their silver in the 1980’s and have only silver acquired since then. In summary, a base could rationally assume potentially 1 billion ounces exist in the market today.

Note: Jewelry should not be included in the aforementioned supply.  A 5-gram sterling silver ring, for example, has 0.148 troy oz, costing $25 on Amazon as of July 2010. As silver is roughly $20 for one troy ounce including premiums, rationally speaking, silver prices must reach substantially over $100 (potentially $120) in order for a buyer to sell that ring at melt value for a profit. However, as Cash For Gold has shown, some individuals are willing to sell below market value, so the actual liquidation value should be assigned a discount – arbitrarily, assume any price above $50/ounce would bring in scrap sales.

Furthermore, silver production is directly tied to the world economy – the Silver Users Association stated that 70% of silver in 2004 was produced as a by-product of mining for lead, zinc, copper, and gold mining. Should the economy take a turn for the worse, silver mining will be cut significantly as demand for other commodity metals decline. Furthermore, it is commonly known that US government stockpiles of silver in the 1950’s and 1960’s numbered around 3 billion oz (the largest single stockpile in history), and the US government literally has none today.  From 2000-2009, silver’s fabrication demand has exceeded new mining at an average rate of 200 million oz/year according to calculations based on Silver Institute statistics. At current run rates in a normal economic environment, known world stocks will be depleted within this decade.

III. The Changing Nature of Silver Demand
In addition to the increasing scarcity, silver demand is drastically changing. Silver’s usage is increasing dramatically as it being used in a number of nanotech applications, including most tech products, inks, medical technology, and clothing. While some controversy surrounds the usage of silver in clothing and medical technology for anti-bacterial purposes, silver products continue to increase in popularity. Silver is used in virtually every electronics product. Most importantly, silver is used in trace amounts in virtually all of its industrial products – should the price increase by multiples, overall input costs of silver on a per-product basis will remain negligible. For example, a new silver-laced sports shirt has a miniscule amount of silver. Should the price of silver rise significantly, the cost of the silver in each shirt would be pennies on the dollar compared to the other costs of production.  Silver appears to have an inelastic demand curve.

IV. Pricing Silver
In summary, silver is a commodity with 1 billion ounces under a base case scenario, with potentially 200 million ounces being irretrievably used each year. As the price increases, industrial demand will not diminish. In light of the above facts, a fair value for silver would be difficult to establish. It is entirely possible that figures for silver are vastly understated compared to actual supply. However, even assuming that 5 billion ounces of silver are readily available at higher prices, it is important to keep in mind that a similar metal  – gold – has 5 billion ounces above-ground. In other words, the supply of silver under a conservative scenario equals the supply of gold, and in an optimistic case, is 5x rarer than gold. Yet, gold is 60 times the price of an ounce of silver (assuming $1.200 gold and $20 silver). Given that the historical ratio of gold to silver in the earth’s crust is around 1:14 or 1:15, an upward revaluation to the price of silver must occur. While it is true that higher silver prices would increase mine production, recall that 1) 70% of silver mining is from by-product, and 2) new mines take from 1-3 years to start up production. Even after silver’s necessity is recognized by the public, it will be years before new production would be able to match the soaring demand from a shortage.
When considering that much silver demand at present is industrial, the amount of silver available for investment is necessarily much smaller. Furthermore, when the shortage becomes known to the public, a massive squeeze must occur as people “panic buy” at the same time silver-users also attempt to place larger-than-normal orders to ensure business continuity. Possible prices may be left to the reader to predict.

V. Evidence of Manipulation
In addition to the fundamental supply/demand imbalance noted above, a further element favoring the supply shortage must be introduced. Many silver investors believe two statements about silver: 1) elements of the Western governments – i.e., central banks - are working with large bullion banks to purposefully suppress the price of silver, and 2) certain precious metal ETFs and exchanges are fraudulent. These issues will now be addressed.

  • “Central banks stand ready to lease gold in increasing quantities should the price rise.” – Alan Greenspan, July 24, 1998 in testimony before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services. The full market manipulation theory states that large bullion banks, specifically, JPM and HSBC, enter the London market and the COMEX to manipulate silver prices downward. The mechanism by which this is done is through “paper shorting” – the banks allegedly issue thousands of precious metal contracts (not backed by the actual metal) in a short time period to overwhelm the market and force liquidation by technical funds and speculators.

The CFTC’s own Commitment of Traders (COT) report has been analyzed by Theodore Butler on a weekly basis. As an example, he submitted a letter with details to the CFTC, indicating that 4 or less banks control the commercial short position. The fact that the market is concentrated so heavily in these hands appears to constitute prima facie evidence that manipulation is in fact possible.

As to whether manipulation occurs in fact, a CFTC hearing on position limits in metals was held on March 25. During that meeting, 2 items of note were revealed.
1) Bill Murphy of GATA alleged that he had a whistleblower on JPM’s manipulation of the markets. Andrew Maguire, a former Goldman Sachs employee, is a metals trader in London. He claimed that 1) he was told by traders from JPM that they manipulate the price of silver. He sent information to the CFTC predicting the time and patter of a silver price crash 2 days in advance.
2) Jeffrey Christian of the CPM Group agreed that certain precious metals have been leveraged by 100 to 1 in the London and COMEX markets (time 4:21). Leverage that high means in fact that should 2 out of 100 ask for delivery, the market would collapse as “price discovery” is attempted.

The following week, Dennis Gartman, a well-known trader, went on the record (time 1:22) grudgingly admitting that silver market manipulation was a possibility.
Not directly related to silver, but to manipulation – The UK Telegraph has reported the controversy about “Brown’s Bottom” – Gordon Brown’s decision as Chancellor to sell 400 tons of British gold when gold reached historic lows “is regarded as one of the Treasury's worst financial mistakes and has cost taxpayers almost £7 billion.” The stated reasoning at the time was to “generate cash” – but in addition to generating relatively little, the sale was pre-announced, causing the price to decline before the sale and inconsistent with obtaining a good price. Speculation exists that the sale was a secret bailout of banks short precious metals.
2) Some investors believe that the popular metals funds, GLD and SLV, are one of the means by which JPM and HSBC defraud investors. Known issues with these funds are numerous: 1) These two banks are both the largest short-sellers and the custodians of the GLD and SLV funds – a clear conflict of interest. 2) The funds pay no premium for physical metal – all other precious metals funds with verifiable stocks have at times charged large premiums – Sprott Asset Management has charged up to a 30% premium during times of tight delivery, but GLD and SLV have never had any real premium increases. 3) GLD has grown from virtually nothing in 2004 to being in the top 10 holders including official government stocks in 2010. Similarly, if SLV is actually backed by silver, as of 7/16/2010 the fund is stated to hold 9,185.29 tonnes of silver – equivalent to 295 million oz. Based off of the known supplies from the Silver Institute reviewed earlier of 800 million oz, SLV owns ~3/8 of total world supply – not including COMEX silver contracts, warehouse receipts, etc. What are the odds that this group holds almost half of the world’s supply in their vaults? It appears highly unlikely that both the COMEX shorts and SLV are backed by the precious metals. 4) Legal hedges in the prospectus for both absolve the ETFs from any responsibility for ensuring that the custodians actually possess the silver in question. An analysis has of their legal structure has been completed and document various suspicious activities and legal loopholes in the prospectus that could allow for the trusts to hold paper derivatives instead of physical silver. To conclude that SLV is a fraud is not unreasonable, considering that in 2007 Morgan Stanley settled a class action lawsuit accusing them of charging storage fees on precious metals that they did not actually possess.
With the above allegations of manipulation, it appears that silver could literally surpass the value of gold. If above ground stocks have been or are near depletion, for a period of at least one year, silver prices higher than gold could be justified. If manipulation and fraud in the silver markets are discovered, the resulting panic rush would create the largest short squeeze in history – unless a force majeure situation is declared, and cash settlement at an unfair price for longs is effected. Even in that case, however, the demand for silver still rises – holders of the physical metals will be untouched while ETF holders will not profit.

VI. So What Does This All Mean?
1. Silver is hands down the best physical investment you can make, barring lead for bullets. If you want to increase your wealth, you do not buy gold – you buy silver.
2. The day that silver prices explode is probably also close to the day that TEOTWAWKI will occur because that implies that the Western governments have lost control. Currently, the situation can be pictured like this: Western governments can keep putting gold and silver into the market to keep the price down. However, their supply of silver is far smaller than their supply of gold, so silver will run out first. When that happens, the economic system must collapse or be realigned. A failure to realign it quickly means TEOTWAWKI.

VII. Recommendations for Action
Individuals can enter the silver market, demanding physical delivery through dealer purchases or through metal exchanges. In particular, bullion blanks or popular coins such as American Eagles should be bought from reputable dealers. I would avoid all numismatic coins which have a higher premium.

The following article is one example of why "dot gov" will basically collapse, at every level. The threat is faced by teachers and all public service employees et cetera. All of their "retirements" are doomed.

Fort Worth pension bubble will blow up in our faces

You don't have to be an actuary to know that this pension plan will end badly. The technical phrase is "trending toward insolvency."

The key problem is that the city is on the hook for all the promised benefits. Taxpayers will have to pony up hefty contributions for years, even generations, and the city may have to cut services to afford it. The pension for city employees is currently projected to pay out $432 million more than it brings in over the next 30 years. - K.T.

JWR Replies: I concur. Coincidentally, SurvivalBlog reader Jon A. in New York recently sent me this: DiNapoli: Local governments face huge jump in pension costs. Jon's comment was: "I truly believe this is where the unrest will come from in this country: pensioners and/or welfare recipients ultimately receiving less than what they expected from the government." Meanwhile, we read: President Obama Plans to Cut Social Security Next. The bottom line: Plan your own retirement, and as part of that, have a component that is heavy into tangibles. This will be your "fire insurance" against a collapse in the U.S. Dollar as a currency unit.


I really appreciate the people who share their lessons learned on, so I thought I would share my experiences and lessons learned from Hurricane Ike.

Hurricane Ike hit Houston on Friday night September 13, 2008.  The hurricane was classified as a strong category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 110 MPH.  What was unusual about this hurricane was the large size of the storm.  Hurricane force winds extended 120 miles from the center. 

Gas stations in our area ran out of gas the day before the storm (Thursday).  I waited in a very long line of cars only to find out that the station had run out of Regular gas.  I was happy to pay extra to fill up with Premium.  The gas station was a zoo with everyone in panic mode.  It was all the owner could do to maintain order with people complaining about credit card issues, the station running out of Regular, and how people were taking too long to buy gas.  I will never again wait until the last minute to buy gas.  Grocery stores were also crazy.  The grocery stores we visited had all run out of bottled water and batteries.  People were buying canned goods and ice in large quantities. 

On Friday morning I finished installing our plywood storm shutters on our most vulnerable windows and bringing everything inside that could be damaged by the high winds.  In the afternoon we continued with our preparations inside.  We charged all of our batteries, filled up our camping water storage bags, and got all of our battery lamps ready.  I also setup inverters and car batteries in the house for backup power.

Our home is about 70 miles north of the coast.  The high winds and rain started to hit around 9 PM on Friday night.  We went to bed early to try to get some sleep before the strongest winds of the storm hit.  Around 1 AM the wind was making so much noise that I was no longer able to sleep.  The house was making a lot of strange noises due to the high winds.  It was at that point that my panic started to build.  What made me feel uneasy was the fact that my family and I were completely on our own.  If we had any kind of emergency, I would not be able to call anyone for help.  What helped me to calm down was keeping busy reviewing all of my preparations and walking around the house checking for problems.

Our power was intermittent most of the night and finally went out around 2 AM.  The television weatherman said that when your electricity goes out, that is when you know the strong winds are approaching.  That is exactly what happened in our case.  I continued watching the news with a battery powered television.  A television is very helpful to track the movement of the storm.  Since television stations in our area no longer broadcast analog television signals, I had to find another solution to receive digital television with backup power for future storms. 

As I watched the eye of the storm pass near our home to the East on television, I thought the worst was over.  To my surprise, the strongest winds hit our house on the back side of the storm.  During the peak winds, I heard a loud crash and our entire house shook.  I ran upstairs and found a tree had hit our house.  I was amazed at the damage.  The roof framing, roof decking, shingles, sheet-rock, insulation, and tree branches had fallen into my son’s bedroom.  The larger tree branches had come through the roof like spears.  Fortunately, I had insisted that everyone sleep down stairs during the storm.  As the hurricane force winds raged outside, we rushed around in the dark trying to find something to catch the water.  We needed a lot of bins and buckets to catch the water falling from such a large area of the roof.  This kept us very busy for the rest of the night as we were constantly bailing the water out of all of the bins.  We were able to catch enough of the water that the sheetrock downstairs was not damaged.

As the sun came up, we were able to see the damage outside.  Most of the large pine trees near our home had been blown down.  The tree that hit our house was a large pine in our neighbor’s yard.  The tree had broken at mid-height and the top part of the tree was still connected to the bottom half.  A second tree in my neighbor’s yard has snapped (clean break) and the top half landed in my back yard.  A third tree had landed on the roof of the house behind ours and the top part was in our yard.  We also had a mature queen palm that had blown over.  The trees all fell in different directions.  I do not think it was a tornado from the hurricane that blew down the trees since the damage was so widespread in our neighborhood.  The funny thing was that I had cut down all of the tall pine trees in my yard after I realized how dangerous they could be if they fell on the house.  All the pine trees that hit my house and landed in my yard were all from my neighbors and all of the cleanup efforts and repairs were my responsibility.  My neighbors paid none of the cost to remove the trees or repair the damage to my home and yard.

The day after the hurricane hit, I called insurance company and told I was on my own and I could not make any major repairs before the Insurance Adjuster arrived.  We started the cleanup process by removing all shingles, roof decking, tree branches, sheet rock, and insulation that was in the room.  The contractor (thick plastic) garbage bags we had worked great for this cleanup.  I highly recommend everyone keep a few boxes of these contractor bags for emergencies.  We then pulled up the carpet and removed the wet pad.  We used fans to circulate the air and help dry the room out.  We learned from a previous flooding that if the house is not dried out quickly, a strong musty odor will develop.  Since we could not put a tarp on the roof due to the tree, we hung a tarp inside the room to catch all the water and funnel it into a large bucket.  The tree company we hired to remove the trees in our yard used a 100-ton crane to remove the tree on our house.

We started running our generator the first day using gas.  The only gas I had was two years old with Sta-Bil gas stabilizer added.  I was amazed the generator ran well on two year old gas.  I now rotate my gas yearly and put it on my calendar so I won’t forget.  Our generator has a natural gas conversion kit installed.  After the rain stopped, we moved the generator to our back yard and connected it to natural gas.  The generator ran flawlessly for 13 hours per day on natural gas.  I remember praying that our generator would keep running since we were totally dependent on it for all of our power.  I strongly recommend a good quality generator and maintain it well for best reliability.  My natural gas bill went up $100 and my electricity bill went down $200, so I actually saved money running the generator.

Our generator is 7,500 Watts, so supporting the electrical load of the entire house had to be done carefully.  We powered everything in the house except the central air-conditioning.  The generator load monitor we had was very helpful.  As long as we kept the load under 50%, we had no problems.  When the load was at 70%, we sometimes had problems.  At 90%, the generator circuit breakers would trip within a few seconds.

While working in our yard near the generator, I started to feel the effects on Carbon Monoxide poisoning (headache, nausea, and fatigue).  I realized what was happening and went indoors to recover.  I am now extra careful when working around a running generator.  We also use Carbon Monoxide detectors in our house when running the generator.

All gas stations and stores in our area were closed after the storm since there was no electricity.  Stores reopened slowly as emergency generators were brought in.  When the grocery stores opened, they had none of the basic items (eggs, milk, orange juice, bread, hamburger, etc.).  After the storm we lost electricity, cable/internet, and phone service.  We had no problems with water, sewer, and natural gas service.  Many of the nearby neighborhoods had no water and one had limited sewer service.  I was surprised that phone service went down after 24 hours.  After about a week, the phone company restored service with portable generators they connected to the phone system equipment in the neighborhood.  We had no power for 10 days.  Neighbors asked us to charge their cell phones, laptops, and DVD players.  We setup a table in front room with power strips for them to use.  The item most requested by my neighbors was ice.  I made extra ice before the storm and filled many 1 gallon freezer bags.  After two days, neighbors started to clear out their refrigerators and freezers.  We had many offers to take their frozen food.  Several of our neighbors had electric stoves and could not cook.  They came over to our house and used our gas stove to cook dinner.

We decided to shut down our generator at night to keep a low profile and so we did not disturb the neighbors (too much).  At night I used our inverters to power our refrigerators and freezers.  I was disappointed that we were only getting 3-4 hours of run time from a standard car battery.  On the third night, the inverter I was using for our large freezer stopped working.  I took the inverter apart and found many of the internal components had been damaged.  The operating power of the freezer was within the rated load of the inverter, but the surge current was not.  I am now more careful about overloading inverters.  I also purchased larger deep-cycle marine batteries to extend my run time.  With our generator not running for 11 hours at night, I found the freezers were able to maintain a safe temperature, but the refrigerators were not.  I solved this problem by adding blue-ice to the refrigerators at night.

Many of our neighbors and friends told us they were going to buy a generator and prepare for the next hurricane.  None did.  As soon as the power came back on, they forgot all about it.

My wife does not support my preparation efforts.  She has always told me that our generator was a waste of money and a hurricane is never going to hit Houston.  As our neighbors and friends told us how smart we were to buy a generator, I thought to myself I have finally won this argument.  Unfortunately (for me), I was mistaken.  She still says the generator was a waste of money and a hurricane is never going to hit us again.

We spent more time preparing than anyone else on our street and ended up with the most damage to our house and yard.  Just because you are prepared, don’t assume everything will go well for you.  This is my biggest lesson learned from the storm.

The entire process of filing an insurance claim, hiring contractors, completing all necessary repairs, and negotiating the final settlement with the insurance company took well over a year.  Overall we were blessed that the damage was not worse, we did not have to move out of our home, we had a good test of our emergency preparations, and we learned a lot from the storm.

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) risk assessments have been published by journalists, defense analysts, and foreign policy experts. Unfortunately, some of these assessments rely on incomplete or incorrect information and give the mistaken impression that EMP is not an immediate threat. For example, STRATFOR Global Intelligence recently published a report titled “Gauging the Threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack.” The report assesses that the risk from an EMP attack is low because “the EMP threat has been around for more than half a century and there are a number of technical and practical variables that make a HEMP [High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse] attack using a nuclear warhead highly unlikely.”

STRATFOR is a well-respected organization that publishes many excellent reports on national security threats. However, this particular report is badly flawed, suffering from both analytical misconceptions and factual errors. Below I quote from the report, describing why this assessment should not be relied on. (STRATFOR generously allows republishing of its reports with the following statement: Gauging the Threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack is republished with permission of STRATFOR.)

"Only the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China possess both the mature warhead design and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability to conduct such an [EMP] attack from their own territory, and these same countries have possessed that capability for decades. (Shorter range missiles can achieve this altitude, but the center of the United States is still 1,000 kilometers from the Eastern Seaboard and more than 3,000 kilometers from the Western Seaboard — so just any old Scud missile won’t do.)"

The report makes the error of assuming that any EMP attack would be carried out with a single nuclear warhead that must be centered above the continental United States for maximum effect. An immediate result of any EMP attack would be the destruction of power grids within line-of-sight of the nuclear detonation. The continental United States has only three power grids—Eastern, Western, and Texas. Therefore, an effective EMP attack need not be a single detonation over the center of the US, but could instead consist of two separate detonations over the Eastern and Western power grids. Such an attack could easily be carried out by Scud missiles. Moreover, as the 9/11 attacks showed, it is well within the capability of terrorist organizations or rogue states to conduct simultaneous attacks.

The STRATFOR report states: "Countries that build nuclear weapons do so at great expense…Nuclear weapons also are developed as a deterrent to attack, not with the intention of immediately using them offensively. …In other words, for the countries capable of carrying out a HEMP attack, the principles of nuclear deterrence and the threat of a full-scale retaliatory strike continue to hold and govern, just as they did during the most tension-filled days of the Cold War."

The report assumes that any country or group capable of conducting an EMP attack would share the mindset of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. There is a substantial body of thought that Iran in particular would not be subject to these same principals of nuclear deterrence. Bernard Lewis, the noted Middle Eastern scholar, has stated, “MAD, mutual assured destruction, [was effective] right through the cold war. Both sides had nuclear weapons. Neither side used them, because both sides knew the other would retaliate in kind. This will not work with a religious fanatic [like Ahmadinejad]. For him, mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement.” While there is substantial debate over whether the position of Bernard Lewis and other scholars is correct, this position cannot be lightly dismissed.

The STRATFOR report also states: "One scenario that has been widely put forth is that the EMP threat emanates not from a global or regional power like Russia or China but from a rogue state or a transnational terrorist group that does not possess ICBMs but will use subterfuge to accomplish its mission without leaving any fingerprints. In this scenario, the rogue state or terrorist group loads a nuclear warhead and missile launcher aboard a cargo ship or tanker and then launches the missile from just off the coast in order to get the warhead into position over the target for a HEMP strike. This scenario would involve either a short-range ballistic missile to achieve a localized metropolitan strike or a longer-range (but not intercontinental) ballistic missile to reach the necessary position over the Eastern or Western seaboard or the Midwest to achieve a key coastline or continental strike…Any use of a nuclear weapon would be vigorously investigated and the nation that produced the weapon would be identified and would pay a heavy price for such an attack (there has been a large investment in the last decade in nuclear forensics). (Emphasis added.)"

Their conclusion is factually incorrect. First, a nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude would likely not leave sufficient material at ground level for forensic analysis. Second, the ability of the United States to conduct forensic nuclear analysis has been degrading, as made clear in a recent report by the National Resource Council titled “Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk.” This report reads in part, “Although U.S. nuclear forensics capabilities are substantial and can be improved, right now they are fragile, under-resourced and, in some respects, deteriorating.” Lastly, any nuclear forensic analysis would require continued functioning of national labs such as Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory—a dubious proposition if the Western power grid is down.

The STRATFOR report concludes:

"When considering the EMP threat, it is important to recognize that it exists amid a myriad other threats, including related threats such as nuclear warfare and targeted, small-scale HPM attacks. Some things are more likely to occur than others, and there is only a limited amount of funding to monitor, harden against, and try to prevent, prepare for and manage them all. Clear-sighted, well-grounded and rational prioritization of threats is essential to the effective defense of the homeland. But each dollar spent on these efforts must be balanced against a dollar not spent on, for example, port security, which we believe is a far more likely and far more consequential vector for nuclear attack by a rogue state or non-state actor."

Here the authors confuse the likelihood of various attack scenarios with the consequences of an attack. An EMP attack is of special concern because it would destroy one or more power grids, which are the underpinning of every other critical infrastructure. In contrast, a nuclear attack on a port city—even one as important as Los Angeles/Long Beach—would have a dramatic but localized effect.

In summary, the STRATFOR analysis of the EMP threat fails on two counts. First, the analysis misstates the likelihood of an EMP attack, in both the technical feasibility and motivations of rogue nations such as Iran. Second, the report never explicitly states the consequences of an EMP attack should the US power grids remain unprotected—the likely end of the United States as a functioning country.

The United States Congress is currently considering legislation to protect our power grids against EMP. While Survival Blog emphasizes individual and small group preparedness, another important means of preparation is government action. Should you find the EMP threat credible, please contact your elected representatives. If even 1% of preppers did this, it would represent the equivalent of a tidal wave of letters to Congress. - Thomas P.

John Tamny predicts: The U.S. Goes Back to the Gold Standard. (Thanks to "T Moo" for the link.)

B.B. sent us this: Homebuyer tax credit: 950,000 must repay

Jonathan C. flagged this: Outlook Gloomy at Secret Billionaire Meeting. “They saw the United States in a long-term slow growth environment with the near-term risk of recession quite real,”

Items from The Economatrix:

US Mint Running Out of Silver (and Excuses)

The Lights Have Officially Gone Out in the US

Union Pension Funds, the States, and Financial Ruin

Sustainability Key to Global Economic Health, World Leaders Warn

Fear As Food Prices Soar

Video: DeLaughter Says Food Inflation to Drive Farmland Demand

Reader L.C. wrote: "I feed my family mostly certified organic foods. We deal primarily with local farmers for our meat and produce and dairy needs, but the kids do like a hot dog every now and again. So I have been buying Applegate Farms organic hot dogs from the local organic market for years. The price in the last couple years has been $5.79 for a package of 8. Today at the market they had a "brand new look" on the new packaging. The price is the same, but the package now contains 7 hot dogs. So if your favorite brand suddenly has a brightly-colored new label - Beware!"

Heck sent us the link to a great article on utilitarian bicycles.

   o o o

Speaking of bikes, Reader W.H. notes: "There are several great videos and plans on the net for rail bikes, both with and without motors. I thought this version [with Spanish narration] was neat because it could be broken down." (See the SurvivalBlog Archives for several articles and letter on rail bikes like this one, including some important safety provisos.)

   o o o

Condie Rice tells of Bush row after 9/11. Here is an amazing quote that sounds like something out of the movie Dr. Strangelove: "Rice revealed that the bunker beneath the White House where she was sheltering with Dick Cheney began to run out of air. 'There were so many people in the bunker that the oxygen levels started dropping and the secret service came in and said we've got to get some people out of here. They literally went around telling people that they weren't essential and they had to leave.' Government communication systems were failing and Bush had to resort to an unsecured line to talk to Washington. Rice said: 'Despite all of the sophisticated hierarchy, sophisticated command and control equipment that we had, at that moment much of it didn't function very well and people instead did whatever they could to communicate messages.'" (Thanks to "Mr. Smith" for the link.)

   o o o

Elite Flee Drug War in Mexico's Number Three City. (Thanks to D.G. for the link.)

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive." - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tomorrow is the last day of the big sale at Ready Made Resources on Mountain House freeze-dried foods. Be sure to order soon.


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 pastoral and chemical dependency counselor who has worked in a variety of mental health, ministry and addiction settings, I would like to address one of the unique mental and behavioral health needs that may be experienced in a prolonged disaster. More specifically, I will speak to the possibility of running out of psychiatric and pain medication, and the non-medical ways of dealing with pain and mental health symptoms as well as medication withdrawal.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, almost 58 million adults in the US (one in four) suffer from mental illness, and 45% of those meet the criteria for two or more mental health diagnoses (these numbers do not include children, and the number of children with mental illness is rising). The vast majority of these folks are on medication. Additionally, there are many millions of people taking opiate pain medication on a regular basis for chronic pain. You or someone you love may be taking medication for one or more of these conditions.

Ideally, one should store an adequate supply of medication prior to a crisis event. This can be accomplished through several means: getting an extra prescription from your doctor that you purchase with cash, ordering a 90 day supply (if your insurance allows this), early ordering of refills, or by utilizing a reputable foreign pharmacy (cash, with prescription, but at a much lower cost). It is difficult to plan for every contingency, and in a prolonged disaster, it is likely that your medication will run out. The purpose of having an adequate supply is, in my opinion, to give you the option to safely wean yourself from the medication if it appears that the supply chain will not be reestablished before your bottles are empty.

Once you do have a legally-acquired supply, rotate it. Use the oldest first, and replace it with the new refills. It’s also important that you utilize some OPSEC regarding what you have stashed away, medications included. Your medication and preparedness supplies are your business, nobody else’s. You might even want to keep your medication in a safe or lock box if it is at particular risk of theft. There are plenty of addicts and dealers that would love to get their hands on that medication, particularly if it is in short supply.

If possible, you should begin to reduce your dependence on medications as much as possible before a crisis occurs. If you have chronic knee pain and need Vicodin on a daily basis, for instance, now is the time to lose that extra thirty pounds. Positive lifestyle changes now, can reduce dependence on medications when they are no longer available. A medical taper is much easier when you have medication, your family doctor to supervise it and your insurance company to assist with paying the costs. It’s also easier when your life isn’t complicated with such things such as making water potable, bartering for foodstuffs and bugging out to the boonies.

There are a couple of options as far as weaning yourself from the medication, and both should be supervised by a medical professional (preferably a psychiatrist or family doctor). The first option is to slowly wean yourself from the medication. Again, this should be done under the supervision of a medical professional if at all possible. A gradual taper will reduce the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms (or what the pharmaceutical industry euphemistically calls “discontinuation syndrome”). Discontinuation syndrome is experienced with many antidepressants and antipsychotics. Symptoms include dizziness, vertigo, ataxia (problems with muscle coordination), paresthesia (“pins and needles” feeling on the skin), numbness, headache, lethargy, insomnia, nightmares, vivid/unpleasant dreams, tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Around 80% of people taking antidepressants have some of these symptoms when they stop their medication. A gradual taper will also reduce the likelihood of seizures if one is coming off benzodiazepines (minor tranquilizers like Xanax or Klonipin) or, to a lesser extent, barbiturates. The Ashton Manual an excellent resource to help learn about benzodiazepine withdrawal and discontinuation. It recommends a reduction of 2.5% per week (10% per month), so it would take ten months to come off of a benzodiazepine (or other medication) using this method. The second method is a quick taper, which might necessitate the substitution of another drug (in the same class) that is not in short supply. It should be noted that a quick taper usually increases the risk of seizure, so medical monitoring is crucial. An example of a quick taper would be a doctor switching someone from Xanax to Klonipin over the course of a couple months, then weaning them off the Klonipin. In a prolonged crisis, a taper of some sort is by far more preferable to an abrupt cessation of medication, but there will be plenty of people who do not prepare and suddenly run out of medication. This can create a host of problems, both mentally and physically.

Opiate medications can cause dependence even in recommended dosages, so withdrawal is often an issue. The symptoms in withdrawal run from very mild to very uncomfortable. Withdrawal from opiate pain medication such as morphine, codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, Tramadol, Propoxyphene and other natural derivatives or synthetic mimics is rarely fatal in healthy adults. Those in severe withdrawal often feel like they are dying. The symptoms are so severe that medical interventions today include allowing addiction to continue indefinitely (methadone clinics) and “detox under anesthesia”.  Nevertheless, complete freedom from opiates is indeed possible, even without any medical intervention unless medical problems arise. Within 12 hours after the first missed dose of medication, withdrawal begins. Symptoms can include agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating and yawning. Later on, symptoms become more severe, and can include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea, and vomiting. Care for a detoxing person like you would anyone else experiencing those symptoms. Be aware that there may be intense drug-seeking behavior at times, but generally people just feel like they have a bad case of the flu. True addicts will tell you that opiate pain medication is the only thing that helps with this “flu”. Keep them hydrated. Symptoms will subside in 2-3 days.
Dealing with chronic pain without access to medication is not easy  to think or talk about, but it is a distinct possibility. You can only stock up on so much prescription medication, Ben-Gay and Tylenol. Heat and cold therapy can help with pain, as can massage, chiropractic techniques, stretches, exercise and even hypnosis. Talk to your doctor about non-medical ways to deal with pain and begin to research alternative therapies. The time to learn about these things and become proficient in their use is before we need to use them full-time.

If someone in your group is experiencing medication withdrawal, there are some things that can be done to ease their discomfort. Support is important, so as long as they are not in a medical crisis, they should be encouraged to talk to someone, preferably someone with some experience helping hurting people – a doctor, nurse, minister, counselor – you get the idea. The next step is creating some sense of balance. Try to get them on some sort of schedule. This will be particularly difficult in a disaster, but it must be done. The body rejuvenates itself as we sleep, so sleep is essential. They should also be given tasks to do – as much as they are able. Keep them busy. A healthy diet, exercise, plenty of water, a multivitamin and some omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish oil and fatty fish, such as salmon) can also go a long way to help. Finding some time for spiritual growth through prayer and scripture reading as well as studies with other believers has been beneficial for many. Massage, pet therapy (even just having a pet around), art, music, reading, even dance are all things that can help people on the road to recovery. Try to make some time for a couple of these healthy activities. These strategies are helpful for anyone not only for withdrawal from psychiatric and pain medication, but for anyone under intense stress. Their use promotes mental, physical and spiritual health, and they should be a part of every comprehensive self-care strategy.

Herbs are also a possibility, and some herbs can help with mental health symptoms or even ease the physical symptoms of withdrawal itself. Their use is beyond the scope of this article, but if you have them and know how to use them, Valerian, Kava Kava, St. John’s Wort, and even Vitamin B-12 supplements (and the B vitamins in general) all have practical applications in a protracted disaster. Melatonin can help with sleep patterns (as can a sleep mask and a set of ear plugs). Herbals should only be given as a temporary measure, however, as they may have a similar mechanism of action as the prescription drugs they are replacing. The ultimate aim is to get the person to be comfortable experiencing life without any pharmacological assistance.

Medications are very important, and we often hear about stocking up, but there are many folks who will run out of medication that helps them function without physical and emotional pain. I pray that this article will assist the preparedness community in becoming aware of this issue, preparing for it, and meeting the needs of such people when a crisis does occur.


The Ashton Manual: Benzodiazepines – How They Work and How To Withdraw, Ashton, Heather C, 2002.

Management of Withdrawal Syndromes and Relapse Prevention in Drug and Alcohol Dependence;  Miller, et. al; American Family Physician; American Association of Family Physicians, July, 1998 

What Is Discontinuation Syndrome?

Substance Abuse, Anger, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids; Amen, Daniel G.; Brain in the News, March, 2008

Medline Plus entry on Vitamin B-12 (National Institutes of Health):

Natural Treatments for Anxiety and Depression; Amen, Daniel G; Brain in the News, December, 2009 

Here's an example of quick reaction in a disaster: Massive Explosion and Fire Rock San Bruno. Move decisively and quickly. It highlights why your G.O.O.D. plan has to be "pre-loaded". Your car must have your 72 hour or 1 Week kit in it. There may not be time to do anything other than run for your life. - F.J.

Hey Jim

It has been a while since I've written, but we still read you every day. Have a look at this site, with a map that show the recent Christchurch New Zealand earthquake and it aftershocks. It provides a very graphic 'time to relocate' signal for anybody with a little common sense.

Regards, - Joe Ordinary Voortrekker

You nailed it with your caveat to the guest article “Airsoft for Survival Training Adventure”.

I work at a military college with ROTC cadets, and unfortunately have to spend a lot of time “unteaching” the deadly habits they developed with paintball and Airsoft. I’ve seen the same in the military, especially when conducting urban training- people grossly under-estimate the penetrating power of modern small arms. Examples are soldiers attempting to engage a tiny exposed portion of a target, when the rest of the enemy soldier was concealed behind an interior house wall, or a storage shed, or a similar worthless barrier [that could easily be penetrated by rifle fire.] A lot of us with service overseas can attest to even cinder block walls failing to protect folks who had chosen "cover" poorly.

It can be good training, but it must be balanced with a mix of more realistic tactical experiences or else folks risk developing deadly habits in terms of their use of cover and concealment. - Todd in Virginia

M.O.B. sent us a link to an article about MREs: A Taste of Home in Foil Packets and Powder

   o o o

An easy-to-make and free project for survivalist time-telling: The Ring Sundial. (Thanks to Jeff S. for the link.)

   o o o

M.& K. sent this: Asteroid Near-Misses Actually Common, Scientists Say

   o o o

The Nanny State Run Amok: Toy guns will have to be licensed in Queensland under new firearms laws. My advice to Australians: Take The Gap.

"Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.
Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first [month].
And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
And ye shall know that I [am] in the midst of Israel, and [that] I [am] the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call." - Joel 2:21-32 (KJV)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Today marks the ninth anniversary of a dark day in history. I'll be flying my flag today. I cannot help but ask: Has our nation adopted a substantive civil defense preparedness program, since 9-11-01? No. Have any individuals? Yes. But we are in the minority.


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.

Five years ago I really started watching the economy and the way the whole world was going. I started preparing then. I recently purchased two of JWR’s books. Both are great resources for those who have no idea of how to do things in a back to basic scenario. Being a former Eagle Scout, military man and a current Law Enforcement Officer (LEO), I already have skills to rely on. I never thought that being high tech was good, so I have centered on a low tech plan. “KISS” (keep it simple, stupid) is my motto. The easier the better and most unskilled people can learn quickly. My budget is not huge so I have to really think about what are important and needed verses wanting to have. Here is what we did to prepare for TEOTWAWKI.

First have a plan. If you have other like minded people talk about it, then decide on what you will do, stay or bug out. I prefer the bug out as there will likely be a lot of panicked people out there. Second have a set point to meet, preferably way outside the urban setting. A lot of states have a gazetteer map of you state. These are good because they offer both topographical, city, and land maps with easy to find reference points along top and bottom. Make sure each one of your groups has one and has the area remarked so it is easy to find in the chaos. If you have a retreat that’s the best. Make sure its rural and away from the big cities. If your like me because money is tight, have an area picked out where you can build something and regroup. Someplace to hold up that is defensible until other plans can be made or you meet someone willing to let you stay and hold up. Good field defenses can be made out of logs and dirt. Its inexpensive and easy to find. A good book on making field defensive fortifications can be found in most US armed forces manuals and can be found at most guns shows, half price book stores etc. Earthen retreats are also naturally camouflaged. Even with that said be prepared to move if its compromised. Have an alternate spot picked out and ready to move into.

Second is food. MREs are good because they don’t need water. Have a good supply (we personally have a three month freeze dried emergency food supply outside our normal stocked pantry) of bug out food. I used a company called “Daily Bread”. They had here three-month supply based on a family of five instead of the usual 1 person supply. The price was comparable and they took split payments making it affordable for a public servant's salary like mine. Water is also a must as much as you can stock. We have a small two burner propane stove with a small stock of propane (we live in the desert and it gets hot so we don’t store a lot) for it. I also bought two folding metal back pack stoves. They are easy to use and can burn anything, wood, coal heat tabs etc. Water also can be gotten from outside sources, creeks, streams etc. These can be boiled and clarified for human use. There are several good books on this and other skills so I won’t suggest any. Having said that I also got each one in my family two (cause two is one and one is none) US military canteens with cups. They fit on a belt easily and take up less space than a mess kit. So with freeze dried food I can use the folding stove to heat the water from a canteen or other source and in some cases boil it to kill bacteria in the metal canteen cups. Then add the food and in 10 minutes your meal is done. Afterward, you have one cup to clean, fold up the small stove and your off. I also found a three piece interlocking silverware set sold as a four pack. So each member has silverware. All easily compact and easy to carry.

Three is a good vehicle. I currently own a 1994 Chevrolet 1500 4x4 Suburban. It was a former Forestry Vehicle (cost me just $2,000) so it was well maintained. It has 82,000 miles on it now. Its our only vehicle at this time (went through some hard times lately with wife being sick). I keep up the maintenance on it so it’s ready to go. I don’t leave the tank under 3\4 full (We are currently looking to secure a diesel crew cab pickup truck. With dual tanks and possibly a third. Keeping those tanks full and having a lot of non-perishable stuff pre-loaded in the bed, better choice of fuel and range with three tanks). It’s a good tough vehicle and has been around a long time and is reliable. If you don’t own a good SUV or truck I would suggest highly securing one. Trucks and SUVs are a lot tougher than cars and most have four wheel drive and can go anywhere. And if you need to push through something you have a lot more weight than a car. With my Suburban I have a 42 gallon tank and with the third seat removed I can reliably store all our G.O.O.D. gear. My vehicle is a pretty simple 350 4 bolt main Chevy engine. I bought the Haynes manual for the whole vehicle and the engine and electronics manual. Most repairs on this can be made from the top of the hood. I do most of the maintenance myself so I learn how to work on it. When I was younger I hung around my grandfather a lot. He was a self educated man having grown up in the depression. He had a natural skill at figuring things out and knowing how to fix them. So I got a good hands on education at fixing stuff. When I don’t know how to do something I call a good friend of mine who was a mechanic by trade . He comes over and helps me, shows me what to do. In trade my wife usually feeds him well. As far as tools go I usually go to Harbor Freight. They are decent tools at lower cost.

Fourth are firearms. I have heard a lot of people talking about whether to have or not to have. I am a firm believer in the “right to bear arms”, but I also have a lot of training with guns. So if you have never used one get trained on safe handling and use of them first. Don’t just go out and buy one and think you can shoot. Having a gun is serious business and requires a lot maturity, safety and practice. Over the past five years I have tried to minimize having too many different calibers. I suggest finding out what you are comfortable shooting and what works for you. Go to the local indoor shooting range and spend a little money and time renting different guns to try. This way you can figure out what works for you before you dump a ton of cash on something you can’t shoot. Secondly again “KISS”, don’t go out and buy the most expensive gun with all the toys. Nothing makes up for the skill of being able to hit what you are shooting at. Example…Mr. Weekend Warrior with money to blow has never shot a gun but he goes out and buys an AR-15 for lets say $2000 that has all the latest and greatest gadgets. He rarely shoots it and has it for just in case. Now Mr. Middle Class has let’s say a Russian Mosin Nagant M-44 bolt action rifle that he purchased at Big 5 Sporting goods for $99. He goes out and shoots regularly and knows his gun. He doesn’t have all the bells and whistles on it but he knows how to shoot it and can really reach out and touch whatever he wants if he needs to. It severs dual purposes, defensive and hunting. Ammo is inexpensive for most old military rifles and there is a large surplus on the market. Whatever you choose to do make sure you know how to use the tool you are carrying. I personally have two Mosin’s and they are quite accurate. Ammo is inexpensive. I can buy 440 rounds [of corrosively-primed ammunition] in a sealed tin for roughly $85. I also suggest a good .22 handgun or rifle. They are inexpensive and you can carry a lot of rounds on you. A good caliber pistol is essential as a secondary weapon (Most LEOs carry two on them for this reason). I would suggest also a good shotgun, pump action preferred. You can hunt and defend yourself at the same time. With so many rounds for these guns it is so multipurpose. I would suggest if you decide on a shotgun get one with a turkey barrel. They are usually a little heavier barrel and are straighter than a smooth bore. I personally have made accurate body shots at the target range with slugs at 100 yards. So if I had one long gun to choose from it would be a pump action shotgun with a turkey barrel and rifle sights. You can hunt small game, large game, have close in protection with buckshot or reach out and touch something if you had to. Over the past two years I have tried really hard not to have to many calibers. I have three Glock 9mms. All have interchangeable parts and can use the same ammo and magazines. I have two Hungarian PA-63s in 9x18 Makarov. I got these in trade but they have turned out to be a simple robust pistol. Again they use the same mags, interchangeable parts and ammo. I have two Mosin Nagants. These are simple robust bolt rifles. Again, interchangeable parts, and commonality of ammo. I also used the "buy in pairs" .22 caliber pistols, rifles, shotguns and AK-47s. Do you see a trend here? Most Eastern European weapons where built with more loose tolerances than US made weapons. They are simple to use, very robust and less expensive than a lot of US made weapons. They work, and keep on working.

Fifth is gear. You can buy so many different types of gear. There is so many to choose from. And the prices range from cheap to I wouldn’t pay $2,000 for a backpack. If you have a family like me and a civil servants pay, you got to get the most from your dollar (not that it will be worth anything anytime soon). I personally bought good quality used ALICE packs and frames for my family. They are tough, roomy and work. I have carried one before and you can’t kill them. There are a lot of sites that have wholesale bargain prices like my personal favorite the sportsman’s guide. I have found a lot of things there that were discounted and if you’re a club member you usually get 5-10 dollars off the price and discounted shipping. The products I have ordered are good quality surplus items that are battle tested and work. Again learn your gear, try it out cause if you don’t know how to use it its worthless. Also look around your house first, you can find a lot of useful stuff to put in your gear before you go spend a lot of money (have personally went out and bought stuff then found something similar at home I could have used and saved money) so check first then go out and buy. You can find good quality new and used BDUs and sometimes you can find deals like 5 sets for $25. They are durable and have lots of pockets. Good quality boots are essential so here you will spend a little money. I like Bates LEO boots. Lace up fronts with side zippers. I have a pair that I bought five years ago. I still wear them for kick’in around in. I also had a pair that I was wearing at work and had to get real wet to save a family from drowning. I let them dry for a day. I still use them for duty use and they have shown no ill effects from getting wet. Socks are also essential you can find 12 packs at Costco for a low price. Good folding knives and sheath knives also a must. Again you can find them a most sporting goods stores like Big 5 when they have sales. Medical kits are important. I put together my own in a back pack that has a portable stretcher inside. Has two side zip detachable pouches that hold medicines, surgical tools, bandages etc. I also like the Medic M17 bag. You can get them for around $150 to $200, depending on which site you go to. One kit has pretty much everything you need. Dental temporary fillings and picks are important too. You can find temporary dental filling at Wal-mart for about $2.50. Most surgical tools and Dental picks you can find inexpensively at your local gun shows. You can also find a wide array of medical supplies there also, trauma bandages, sutures etc., that you can’t find in the local drug store. Costco is a great place to find big packs of pain relievers, vitamins etc. So finding good discount gear is affordable, you just have to look. 

The most single important thing you can do in my opinion though is learn. Train to survive. Take classes on firearms, self defense and living on little to nothing. No one can prepare for every scenario. I live everyday life not knowing what I am going to walk into being a LEO. So because of that I have taken every course I could, first aid, dealing with stressful situation, self defense, combat handgun, rifle and shotgun etc. In the end your mind is the most dangerous and best weapon you could ever have. I believe in being a jack of all trades master of none, so I am well rounded. Be prepared for stress it’s going to happen. There are a couple of good books on the psychology of combat and killing by a great man, Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman. I have personally attended his seminars and read his books they have great insight on what to expect and how to deal with it. Any good books you can get your hands on, and I mean good reputable authors not some fly by night writer, read them and then read it again. It’s not necessarily the ability to remember but rather the ability to recall what you learned when you are presented with a situation. When it happens it’s like a file in the back of your head that surfaces and you go, wow I remember reading this somewhere and I can do this. Believe me there are so many things that I do day to day that people ask me how do you remember all that stuff, how can you multitask without thinking about it. Well for one I read a lot, two I train all the time so it is instinctive, three I have a mindset that I am going to get through this and survive. It becomes instinctive. Think about it everyday you do things without having to think about it. So add survival skills, combat skills and mental preparation to your every day life. Before long you won’t even have to think about it, you will just react. You have to believe in yourself and be confident that you can do this. If you panic your no good. Be a sheep dog… a warrior." Be a leader, not a herd animal. There’s an old saying amongst warrior types…"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil….For I am the biggest baddest guy in this valley”. Usually there are some colorful metaphors added but I will keep it clean. Having a winning survival mindset is imperative. If you believe it, it will happen. If you believe you can do it you will. Just remember to temper it will common sense. Get your spouse and children involved too. You can teach your kids valuable skills without making it look gloomy. Take them camping, learn to build fires, pitch a tent, cook over a fire. Take them to a shooting range, my kids love to go as a family and learn the skills to shoot while having fun. Changing the oil in the car, etc. Anything you can do together is valuable and good family time.
Oh and don’t forget to buy silver, probably the only currency we will have to fall back on. Be safe, prepare, be a good Christian, help others when you can because in the end we will rebuild and carry on!

Mr. Rawles,
May I first say that my firearms experience is extensive, but not conclusive. I have owned many firearms, and have simply found what works the best for myself and probably our group, considering current budgetary constraints.

We have adopted the Springfield Armory XD45 as our group standard sidearm. While a personal firearm choice can vary much like boots to an individual, the "Extreme Duty" (XD) line of pistols has overwhelming pros and minimal cons. To begin with, I would like to say that when it first came out I scoffed at it and blew it off as a "Glock wannabe". After field-stripping it and doing my homework, I have come to appreciate the engineering marvel and old fashioned design behind it.

To begin, the XD has a history I will not get into, [starting] as the HS2000. Suffice it to say, Springfield found it, loved it, and decided to import it. It follows a Browning type design, much like the SIG P226, and its internals look more like the SIG or Browning Hi-Power, than the Glock. It does differ however in that it is striker fired instead of the traditional hammer falling on a firing pin. Pressing the trigger to the rear actually moves the firing pin block safety (drop safety), and releases the firing pin, thus making it a double action trigger. But it should be mentioned that the trigger feels more like a single action trigger with about a 5-6 pound press.

There are three safeties on the standard XD. A trigger (scissor safety, - your finger off the trigger is primary safety!), a drop safety, and a 1911 style grip safety. Unless you are gripping the weapon and pressing the trigger, it won't fire. There is no slide mounted external manual safety like the M1911 or M9 service pistols. IMHO external safeties are dangerous and time consuming when my trigger finger is my safety. There is a loaded chamber indicator and cocked striker indicator that will tell you in pitch blackness what condition my weapon is in.

The grip angle of the XD 45 is the same as that of the 1911, and much more point able than the sharper grip angle on the Glock. The XD's perceived recoil is closer to that of a 9mm due to a heavy recoil spring and 1911 grip angle. The grip fits most medium to large hands perfectly, and may only be enhanced with a Hogue overmold grip.

The XD has also passed the Glock torture test with flying colors. I should also mention that a similar H&K USP compact failed the torture test and costs hundreds of dollars more. My XD has happily ate everything I have put through it. It simply works every time.

The last thing I would like to mention is magazine capacity. The XD45 takes 13+1 rounds of .45 ACP. Essentially it is a 3:2 ratio against the standard 7+1 rounds of the single-stacked 1911 magazines. It would take three 1911 magazines to equal two XD45 magazines.

I have no experience with the new XDMs (for comparisons). I shoot fist-sized groups at 15 yards and am of the opinion that the standard XD is better than my skills are. No need to mess with what I think is nearly perfect. - "Jeremiah Johnson" in Florida

JWR Replies: I am also an admirer of the XD design. Back around 2007, my only reluctance about the pistols was the unavailability of spare parts. But since 2008, a company called has made a panoply of spares available at fairly reasonable prices.

Dear Sir:
I believe I represent the younger group of your readers. I’m 28 years old, third year medical student. I have no wife, kids or major responsibilities beyond school at the moment. I have a Facebook account which I mainly use for socializing with classmates of friends back home. Also as a relatively young adult/student I enjoy the long summer vacations many of my contemporaries do not due to work or other obligations. However unlike many of my classmates and friends I was born and raised up to the age of 14 in the former Soviet Union and have seen social collapse at its best. That is the reason I look with a wary eye to the future.

This summer (mid July-mid August) my girlfriend and I flew to Spain and explored it the way many people our age do. We rented a car and drove close to 7,000 kilometers, all over the country. We slept in hostels with no hot water but plenty of bed bugs. We ate sandwiches on the go in order to save a buck. Most of the hostels we stayed in had little in the way of conveniences beyond a bed and a shower. The ones with a computer were a treat since it allowed us to check e-mail and allowed me to read the latest posts on your blog. Well August 3rd found us in Barcelona, one of Spain’s largest cities. Thankfully the hostel we were staying in was a decent one with a computer and internet access. While my girlfriend was in the bathroom doing whatever girls do there for an hour, I logged on SurvivalBlog to read the day’s post… and my heart dropped. The first paragraph on the page was your post about the possibility of a solar flare. There I am, a foreigner, barely able to communicate in Spanglish, 3,000 miles away from home with a girl to take care of and a possibility of re-living “One Second After”. After analyzing the situation I realized that the only chance I would have in case of something serious happening was to make it to the US embassy in Madrid, 600 kilometers away.

Traveling in a foreign country, I always kept the tank at least half full. Even with the diesel car we had that would not be enough even without factoring in the chaos that would most likely ensue. I drove to the nearest gas station a block away and to my surprise found old fashioned 20L jerry cans for sale. I filled the car and bought 2 jerry cans of diesel. Next was food and water. At the time Spain was very much like an oven with daytime temperatures reaching 44C (110 F). We always had couple of bottles of water in the car, but we needed more. Thankfully the supermarket nearby had a sale and I bought three 6-packs of 1.5L bottles. Food was less of a concern since we had plenty of snacks and canned food that we ate for lunch. My next stop was the bank. The ATM would only allow me to withdraw a maximum of 300 Euros per day. Thankfully I have two bank accounts, so with the cash I already had I was able to collect over $1,000. The only thing left to do was wait and hope.

Thankfully that solar flare turned out to be a non event and we were able to continue with our vacation in a car slightly overloaded with water and fuel. My girlfriend complained that there was not enough space for her things but I did not see that as a problem especially since we had another 2 weeks left and by then would use up all the supplies.

A little more than a week later we were traveling on the other side of Spain, taking a shortcut to get to the town of Guadalupe over some mountain passes. The road we were on was not on any map and was shown to us by a local who said it would save us a hour of time. It was slightly wider than a one lane road but it was designed for 2 way traffic. The road also had deep drainage ditches on both sides with no barriers and was snaking its way through the mountains so much that you could only see 2-3 car lengths ahead. To make a long story short, I sneezed at the wrong time and at dazzling speeds of 20 km/h drove into the ditch. The car was not damaged but it bottomed out and I couldn’t back up. At that point I had two choices: wait in 100-some degree heat until a somebody would drive by and ask them to pull me out or walk 10 km to the nearest village on the map and get help there. Since in the more than an hour that we drove on the road we had not seen an any cars, we decided to go with option 2. I grabbed a backpack with three bottles of water and we set out.

I was wearing comfortable hiking sandals. My girlfriend on the other hand was wearing something pretty and fashionable. By the middle of mile one going uphill and downhill time and time again she was in pain. Thankfully she had couple of band aids in her purse so she was able to continue, but just barely. It took us just over three hours walking in 105F degree heat to reach the 20-house village and ask somebody for help. By that time I barely had a quarter of a bottle of water left. An hour later our car was pulled out and we were on our way.

Lessons learned? Emergencies can happen anywhere and anytime. You cannot expect to know in advance when something will happen but have to be ready to react once it does. Having extra supplies doesn’t hurt either. We drank 4 liters of water because of the heat. How would we have dealt with the heat if I didn’t make that large water purchase a week before? We would have had a maximum of 2-3 bottles in the car which would not have been enough. My girlfriend hopefully learned that pretty and fashionable does not mean comfortable. I learned to keep a small first aid kit with me everywhere we go. As an added bonus in addition to the overall experience I ended up with twp brand new jerry cans which I brought back to US.

Thank you for all you are doing. - B.K.

Hi SurvivalBloggers,
I just watched this video: Bug Out Vehicle - Re-Inventing the Car Trunk (more of a slide show) that was mentioned in SurvivalBlog. I see a couple of obvious problems.

Firstly; If he is going through all of this trouble to provide space for emergency/survival gear in case of emergency, why is he leaving the small donut spare tire in there? They are not rated for high speed, heavy loads, or extended distances. Go pick up a spare rim and tire! Yes, a full size spare weighs more, and takes up a bit more room... but in my experience, it is worth it! And you can pack items into the 'void' of the rim, so you won't be losing all that space.

Secondly; That looks glaringly obvious to anyone who opens the trunk! Why cut the carpet material? Why put a handle and hinges on it? Why not build up the floor, build a removable panel (or several for easier access to side areas), but leave the carpet in one piece. Fasten it down with velcro. If you need access to items stored in the floor (like the spare tire), you're going to have to empty out the trunk anyway. If you leave the carpet in one piece, you significantly improve your OPSEC!

And a side-note for the spare tire issue; Where I live, we have two sets of tires. One set of "all-seasons" for spring/summer/fall, one set of [dedicated studded] snow tires for winter driving. Both sets are on their own rims. Whatever set isn't on the car, one of those tires is in the car as the spare. An all-season spare tire is much better in the winter than an essentially bald 'donut' spare tire! Cheers, - D.T.

After a two week interlude (including a Holiday weekend), the FDIC Friday Follies have resumed, with the announced closure of Horizon Bank, Bradenton, Florida.

OBTW, have you noticed how bank failures have become so commonplace that they are hardly even mentioned by the mainstream media?

Treasurys Tumble Following Weak 30-Year Sale. The rate of return on Treasury paper are bound to rise, and that will push up prevailing interest rates, and that in turn will further slow the economy, including home sales. We are poised to enter a death spiral, folks. Watch interest rates and the US Dollar Index (USDI) closely! If rates spike or the USDI drops below 72, consider those big red flags!

Dollar struggles, hovers near 15-year low versus yen. (Thanks to Sue C. for the link.)

Reader M.E.W. sent us this "uh oh" news item that was ignored by the mainstream media in the U.S.: Fears rise as EU nations aim to raise borrowing

Items from The Economatrix:

So Broke We Can't Pay Attention

Obama's Economic Plan Not a Hit With Economists

Greek Prime Minister Shuffles Cabinet as New Economic Fears Loom

Dr. Gary North: Federal Reserve's Digital Bullets Kept an Reserve to Fight Inflation Hedging Mentality

Darryl Schoon: Gold, and the Future Way Through Economic Collapse

Today's Most Important Price Points in Gold Update

Trade Deficit Narrows to $42.8 Billion in July

Grocery Shrink Ray Minimizes My Brownies. "At least it's less embarrassing and diet-damaging to devour an entire pan of brownies with the rebooted, withered Betty Crocker Turtles."

Getting ready for more inflation? One can only wonder why the US Postal Service now requires SDR valuation calculations for insured international shipments.

Marie K. flagged this: Nine Years After 9/11, Public Safety Radio Not Ready

   o o o

Reader Matt R. wrote to mention that sites like (frequently cited in our Economics and Investing column) require user registration. For the sake of privacy, there are free sites like that provide login usernames/passwords to these newspaper sites that would otherwise require registration.

   o o o

"Kron" spotted this useful item at Low Tech magazine: How to tie the world together: online knotting reference books

   o o os

The military and firearms manuals formerly housed at the Survival Bound site have been removed and now are on the Survival Bus web site. This informative site is primarily about a VW Bus being converted to "Bug Out Bus". Note: So that you don't blow their bandwidth budget, please download manuals selectively and sparingly. If you do download a bunch of them, then please do the right thing and send them a donation.

"They say 'America, love or leave it', but I loved it, and it left me." - Closing lyrics to "My Country, My A**". (Foul language warning!)

Friday, September 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.

Growing up in a family which camped a lot, the family slang for what is now usually called the B.O.B. was “the Git Kit.”  As I am now an ossified old coot, I reserve the right to keep calling it just that.

Something I have noticed in most written descriptions of BOBs/Git Kits is a generality of speech bordering on the uselessly vague.  No weights, no measures, no manufacturers, no clues!  It’s enough to give  Horace Kephart’s ghost a ripping case of hives.

With that in mind, I dug into my gear with the goal of providing a more detailed, quantitative analysis of what I have settled on.  Herewith are the results:


Geographical area of operations:  Western Washington State, specifically the Olympic Peninsula (I reside along the Northern shore, a mile inland from the Strait of Juan de Fuca).  However, one can find this sort of terrain and climate West of the Cascades anywhere from Northern California to Southern Alaska.

Climate:  Northwestern Coastal Temperate.  The Kit is tuned for four-season capability in this climate.  It is not tuned for extended stays – especially in winter – in high alpine/glacier country.

Usefulness:  The Git Kit can be used indiscriminately (i.e., unmodified) for camping/backpacking, natural disasters, bugging out or in, or being stranded way the heck back on an overgrown forest service road I probably shouldn’t have driven up in the first place.  As with any good tool, skill in using it is 90% of the battle, which is why using it for everyday camping and hiking in remote areas is a good thing.  And, as my departed Dad was mighty fond of saying, “It’s a poor workman as blames his tools.”

The Beast of Burden:  Me.  Very nearly 60 years of age, with all the aches and pains and scars of an active physical life, and a titanium hip.  Height 6’1”, weight 175 lbs.  In middling physical shape, but nothing you might call top-notch.

The Burden:  A medium sized (2,950 cu. in.) waterproof internal frame backpack with padded waistband.  Beside the main compartment, the pack has 3 exterior elastic mesh  pockets and another zippered pocket built into the top flap.  I load the main compartment with 4 stuff bags (also waterproof) which contain, respectively, a sleeping bag, additional clothing, food supplies and “hard” survival gear.  The bags go in with the heaviest at the bottom of the pack and the lightest at the top.  This does wonders for your center of gravity, and minimizes energy used in carrying the load.  A ¾ length goretex parka is packed loose at the top of the main compartment.  In addition to the exterior pockets, a folding closed cell foam sleeping pad wrapped in an 8’x10’ lightweight tarp/tent is strapped to the back of the pack.

The details of the pack, 4 stuff bags, contents of external pockets, and other external gear are as follows:

The Pack:  Gregory “G” Pack, 2,950 cu. inches volume.
Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz.

Bag I – Sleeping bag, North Face Blue Kazoo, 3 season.
Weight with bag: 2 lbs. 11 oz.

Bag II – Additional clothing, consisting of 1 set Merino wool long johns, 2 pair medium weight over the calf (OTC) wool socks, 1 pair silk sock liners, 1 boxer shorts, 1 pair waterproof gaiters, 1 medium heavy long sleeve Polartec overshirt.
Weight with bag: 3 lbs. 2 oz.

Bag III – “Hard” survival gear, consisting of  basic first aid kit (to which I added 1 quick-clot compress, 4 alcohol wipes, and a pair of hemostats), 12 salt tabs, 100’ 550 paracord, 2” glass magnifying glass with cover, signaling mirror, whistle, small (4 AAA battery) flashlight, spare AAA batteries, 1 roll supertape, 4 boxes (20 count) waterproof matches, 12 Esbit cubes, magnesium fire starter block, 10 4” splits of Georgia fatwood, fishing kit, sewing kit (with 12’ duct tape wrapped around the Coleman powdered mustard tin it lives in), 6” mill file, small medium grit Arkansas whetstone, space blanket style bivvy sack, spare Ziploc bags, folded square of heavy duty tinfoil.  Note:  As an example of the multiple uses to which items may be put, I have a couple curved needles in the sewing kit which, combined with monofilament line from the fishing kit and alcohol disinfectant wipes from the first aid kit, create an effective suturing kit.
Weight with bag: 4 lbs. 6 oz.

Bag IV -  Food supplies, consisting of 5 one pound (2,400 calories per) foil sealed packages of MainStay food rations, 16 bags double bergamot Earl Grey tea, 16 packets EmergenC, a plastic film can of salt, medium sized tin mug with folding wire handles, spork.
Weight with bag: 5 lbs. 14 oz.

¾ Length Parka – North Face, full hood, Goretex.
Weight: 2 lbs. 1 oz.

Left (side) exterior mesh pocket -  1 liter water bottle, Japanese “trenching tool” in sheath.
Weight (with water): 3 lbs. 6 oz.

Right (side) exterior mesh pocket - 1 liter water bottle.  Note: water bottle cap threads fit water filter unit in center mesh pocket.
Weight (with water): 2 lbs. 11 oz.

Center exterior mesh pocket – 58” x 80” Survival tarp/space blanket (groundsheet for tent), Katadyn Miniworks ex pump style water filtration unit, wire tent stakes and guylines, Norlund Hudson bay pattern hatchet with sheath.
Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz.

Top pack flap pocket -  A nice area map (USFS/USGS of the entire Olympic Peninsula.), State map (highway), Silva Ranger compass, LED headlamp, toilet kit (TP, soap, toothbrush/paste), Merino wool headsock, pair utility “thermal” gloves, spare glasses in hard case.
Weight:  1 lb. 5 oz.

Strapped to back of pack – Thermarest folding sleeping pad, 8’X10’ Etowah tarp/tent (these fold into a 2 ½” X 16” X 21” packet which fits neatly within the profile of the pack and doesn’t catch on brush.
Weight: 2 lbs.

Summary – The weight of the entire kit, including rations and water, is just under 34 pounds.

Notes, in no particular order

  • Calculated caloric intake is based on 1,200 calories per day, thus giving me 10 days rations.   Yes, this is the classic definition of “half rations”, but survival usually doesn’t include living high off the hog.  Foraged (wild) food, when available, adds to the daily intake. Drinking water.  As fresh water is plentiful in my area of operation, two liters is enough to get me from source to source.

  • What I normally wear (or the missing pieces from the list above) – over the calf medium weight wool socks, Boxer shorts, 10” leather work/hiking boots (no moccasin toes – they will surely leak), jeans in summer, wool pants in winter, medium weight wool long sleeve shirt with 2 full sized breast pockets, multipocket vest (either Columbia or Duluth Trading Co.), stout leather belt.  What I normally carry is a Benchmark knife (locking folder with 3 ½” blade), Leatherman Wave in sheath on belt, waterproof watch, waterproof notebook and mechanical pencil, cotton bandanna, glasses, cash, wallet, keys,  and a Lee Oskar diatonic harmonica in C major.  Also an oiled canvas hat with 3” brim.

  • What’s with the waterproof bags?  Other than a very handy storage/organization system, they give my gear a second layer of protection from the elements.  Hypothermia is a stone cold, very quick killer; dry clothing and bedding is a primary antidote for same.  The bags also see service for carrying water and foraged food and materials.  Last, but not least, they are great compression bags (these are the kayak type bags with the folding rubber strip seal).  My spare clothing takes up a lot of volume even when stuffed tight,  I kneel and lean down with one knee on the bag to expel most of the air, then roll up and clip the closure, which reduces the stuffed volume by a good third.  It is then literally vacuum packed.

  • “Cold Camping”, i.e. no stove or fuel.  I can build a fire if I want.  However, in a survival situation in which two- legged predators may be about, a fire, with its light and smoke and smells of cooking might as well be a brass band announcing your presence.  I have no psychological problem with eating cold rations or drinking cold tea (which brews just as well cold as hot – just takes longer – I put a bag in one of the liter bottles before sleep and its good to go in the morning).

  • Over the calf socks.  Most people wear boot socks which end just under the calf muscles, and whose elastic tops neatly hinder circulation to the ankles and feet at that critical point.  Over the calf socks eliminate this problem almost entirely.  Your feet will thank you at the end of each day.

  • Why the hatchet (18 oz.) and the Japanese “trenching knife” (11 oz.), two relatively heavy items?  The short answer is that for me they are both indispensable “third hands.”  The hatchet, beyond cutting and splitting wood, is also a weapon and a hammer and a carving tool.  It is remarkably versatile for shaping wooden objects, disjointing game (especially if larger game) and constructing semi permanent shelter, just to name a few.  The trenching knife is a shovel, a hoe, a pick, a pry bar, and again a weapon.  I use it for cat scrapes for defecation, trenching around the tent for rainwater runoff (it can get astonishingly wet in a temperate rainforest) and a dozen other things. From the rock bottom survival side, you would be amazed at how much food and material needs be dug from the ground.  Notes: Norlund was an American manufacturer – long out of business – which made axes and hatchets of exceptional quality.  I found the hatchet I now own many years ago at a yard sale for the princely sum of 50 cents.  I didn’t even know who Norlund was, then, only knew that the hatchet had a fine balance and was forged of really good steel.  The Japanese trenching knife (which has a very stout 6 ½” double edged blade with one edge serrated) was a weeding knife given me as a Christmas present one year.  It quickly became my #1 “go to” gardening tool.  One day I was packing up for a longish camping trip – took a look at said tool – and said “hmmm, I wonder…..”.  The rest is history.  You can find it under the innocent name of “the gardener’s friend” at

  • Other appendages – Trekking poles, binoculars, firearms.  I used to think trekking poles were a bunch of foofaraw until I spent nine months working full time out on the production floor, up stairs and down, etc. etc. with my hip just screaming at me while I waited for the date of the hip replacement operation.  I bought a pair of poles out of desperation so I could get around, and they pulled me through.  Latterly, I have found that they are a great aid to balance when traversing rough ground, and anecdotally leave me feeling much fresher after a day’s hiking.  I bought ones which telescope, so when, for example, faced with going through heavy brush, I collapse them and slip them under the straps which hold the sleeping pad/tarp to the pack.  Another nifty use for them is when fording creeks or streams.  By the way, a much safer way of fording heavy water is to leave your pack on the bank, tie your 550 line to it, tie a loose loop in the other end of your line and slip it over your arm, then ford the stream using the poles for stability.  When you reach the other bank, draw the pack over to you using the line (another reason for that waterproof bag system of mine).  Beats falling down midstream and being drowned under the weight/awkwardness of your pack.                                                                      

  • Firearms.  I won’t even begin to tangle with the myriad of opinions and gesticulations re firearms.  Suffice it to say that I do on occasion carry a Czech-made compact 9mm semiautomatic service pistol in a shoulder rig which also carries two spare magazines on the off side, for a total of 42 rounds available.  The shoulder rig fits very nicely under my pack rigging with no interference, awkwardness or chafing, and allows immediate access to both the weapon and spare mags.  If I have to ditch the pack, the weapon stays with me.  The weight penalty for this is 4 lbs. 6 oz..     
  • Binoculars.  One of my strategic principles is “see or be seen.” Seeing a threat before it sees you, and taking steps to avoid it is a whole lot more survivable than a firefight or some other potentially deadly confrontation. In my opinion, choosing roads (the more traveled the worse) as a primary route for either ingress or egress during a calamity makes you into one big fat target.  Learning how to travel well over roadless/trail-less territory, though it is difficult and takes much practice is well worth it. For this reason I carry a pair of 9 x 36 Bushnell “Featherlight” binoculars (1 lb. 10 oz.).  You can get much lighter ones these days for a price - I purchased my old pair in 1968, when they were the best and lightest I could afford.

  • Sleeping Pad.  When I was young and immortal and bulletproof I didn’t need no stinkin’ pad to cushion me from the ground.  Now, every knob or stob underneath me, no matter how insignificant seems to have an undivided evil intent to render me crippled by dawn.  As I don’t like waking up sore and sleepless, I carry the pad and put up with the weight.

  • Georgia Fatwood.  The Southern Longleaf Pine has the interesting characteristic of growing in such a manner that some of its wood is completely impregnated with highly flammable pitch or resin.  The logs are usually cut into 8” lengths and split into approx. ½” x ¾” splints for kindling.  I cut a few splints in half (to 4”) and keep a handful in my kit.  For starting a fire in really ugly weather, a piece of fatwood can’t be beat.

  • Electronic Gear.  I avoid it like the plague.  The one thing I do carry is a Casio GZ One Type S cellphone, which is highly water, shock, dust and temperature resistant.  Doesn’t change the fact that reception is spotty to nonexistent in most of the back country and some of the main highways where I live.

A final note.  The present configuration of my Git Kit came from trial, error, hard knocks, some really awful mistakes, and the wisdom of my elders from a very early age.  It is most important to tune the kit to your own capabilities and intentions, and your area of operation: one size does not fit all.  Lastly, as Henry D. Thoreau wrote a long, long time ago: “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

Disclaimer: I do not represent nor am I an agent for the companies that make or sell anything I have identified by make or model.  It is just stuff that works for me.

The Choate Machine and Tool AR-15 Hook Stock (see photo) is another well-designed piece of hardware from Choate. The hook at the bottom works very well for supported fire, and isn’t in the way otherwise. The internal compartment is large enough for a full cleaning kit, spare bolt and some other sundries. The length is the same as the A2 stock, with a slight cant forward at the bottom. For tall shooters, this makes for a very comfortable stance, especially when prone.

I would rather the bottom was cut for a mil spec sling mount, rather than having a standard sling swivel included, but that’s a matter of personal taste. I was easily able to file it to fit the standard mount. There was a very little casting flash. I found that this was easily scraped off with a steel edge. The stock I received was a little squashed, probably from storage by the retailer (it was a display model), but reverted to proper shape after a few days with the buttplate in place. It’s served admirably for a decade since then. Choate's materials and workmanship are always first class. These are American made and reasonably priced.

I recommend these stocks for a durable, budget AR for taller shooters who want the option of accurate supported fire without sacrificing the standard ergonomics. - SurvivalBlog Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson, author of the recently-released science fiction novel Do Unto Others.

D.R.W.'s essay titled "Learning from Living History Interpretors" describes a very clever and practical way to learn to do things as our ancestors did. He has hit on a great plan.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, we may not be starting from scratch--i.e. with only a rock and a sharp stick--but we will need to have skills that are foreign to almost all of us today. Those skills will restore a sense of community and division of labor. What better way to restore civilization, therefore, than to learn useful skills that will be beneficial to ourselves and others? Learning to do blacksmith work, farming, tanning and leatherwork, canning, soap & candle making, and a myriad other tasks will keep people busy with constructive work. There will be no room for able-bodied freeloaders - work or step aside.

His essay was one of the most practical and thoughtful entries in the writing contests that I've read. This is information people can use and build upon. This isn't an outrageous scheme that will never work nor is it a costly endeavor. It's smart. Kudos to D.R.W. Regards, - Wry Catcher in California

Today is the big day for Mayor Eddie Perez--his scheduled felony sentencing day. Perez is one of the many members of Mayor Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns that are criminals. This so-called "law and order" group has had an inordinately large number of member-mayors that have been felony indicted or convicted including Sheila Dixon, Kwame Kilpatrick, Gary Becker, Larry Langford, Samuel Rivera, Jerramiah Healy, the late Frank Melton, Will Wynn, and David Della Donna.) Perez faces up to 60 years in prison after conviction on five corruption charges.

   o o o

More than a dozen readers recommended this Stratfor Report: Gauging the Threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack

   o o o

An interesting piece found over at another survivalist blog: Chad Person Builds Backyard Bunker, Makes Himself a Target and Targets Others

   o o o

Here is a television news story, to follow up on this previously-mentioned article: Long Island Man Arrested For Defending Home With AK-47. And here's another follow-up article that mentioned that the defendant, George Grier, is a church deacon. I plan to mail him a note of support and the gift of a pre-ban 40 round AK magazine, with my compliments. (Magazines with 11+ round capacity are banned in People's Republic New York unless they were manufactured before September of 1994.) With 25 gang members confronting him, it sounds like someday he might need a lot of ammo. OBTW, I'm also interested in publicizing his legal defense fund. Please let me know if you hear if one is established. I'll pray that Mr. Grier is exonerated, and his AK is rightfully returned to him.

Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce): "How does the, the thing work?"
Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone): "Electricity: The high priest of false security."
- from the film: The Pearl of Death (1944). Screenplay by Bertram Millhauser.

Thursday, September 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 pract


I developed the following vehicular bug out bag (BOB) or "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) kit packing list.

[JWR Adds: There is no "one size fits all" for G.O.O.D. lists. Your own list should be tailored for your personal circumstances. Your age, climate, local terrain, local hydrology, population density, physical fitness, and many other factors will necessitate changes to the following list. There are also vast differences between "what you can carry in your car" versus "what you can carry on your back" lists.]


Food & Water:

  • ­­3 – 10 days of lightweight food

_____ MRE (1 = 1 meal, 3/day)
_____ Emergency food bars (1 = 1 2400 cal bar, 1/day)
_____ Freeze-dried camping food (1 = 1meal, 3/day)
                        _____ Total (meals; days)

  • 2 days of water

_____ Water packets (1 = 1 4oz)
_____ Water bottles (1 = 1 Liter)
_____ Water gallon jug (1 = 3.3 Liter)
_____ Total (Liters)

  • Water Purification Means

_____ Military tablets (1 tab = 1L)
_____ Water filter (inc. # of L poss.)
_____ Iodine (inc. # of L poss.)
_____ Total (L poss.)

  • Food prep equipment

_____ Stove
_____ Stove Fuel
_____ 1 quart pot
_____ Fry pan
_____ Stainless steel mess kit
_____ Utensils
_____ Basic spices
_____ Bottle of bleach

  • Water and food storage

_____ Aluminum water bottle
_____ Clear hard plastic water bottle
_____ Collapsible water jug
_____ Canteen
_____ Canteen sleeve

  • Shelter & Sleeping

_____ Tent
_____ Emergency tent
_____ Emergency blanket
_____ Tarp
_____ Sleeping bag/blankets
_____ Sleeping pad/bed roll
_____ 20 small nails
_____ 100 ft. paracord (550 cord)
_____ Garbage bags

  • Clothing

_____ Underwear (4 pair)
_____ Socks, cotton/wool (2 pair)
_____ Socks, hiking (2 pair)
_____ T-shirt (2 cotton)
_____ T-shirt (2 synthetic)
_____ Long sleeve shirt (2)
_____ Fleece/wool sweater
_____ Water resistant jacket
_____ Jeans
_____ Shorts
_____ Pants
_____ Thermal underwear (1 set)
_____ Beanie
_____ Hat/cap
_____ Sneakers
_____ Hiking boots
_____ Water shoes
_____ Poncho (army)
_____ Bandana (> 3)

  • Tools

_____ Leatherman multi tool
_____ Folding knife (3-4 in)
_____ Fixed blade (4-6 in)
_____ Hatchet/camp ax
_____ Machete
_____ Leather gloves
_____ Compass
_____ LED Flashlight
_____ Crank flashlight
_____ Light sticks (4)
_____ Solar/crank multi-band radio
_____ Whistle
_____ Matches, waterproof/strike anywhere (50)
_____ Disposable lighter (3)
_____ Magnesium fire block
_____ Binoculars
_____ Entrenching tool
_____ Fishing line (50 ft)
_____ Fishing hooks (3-5)
_____ Fishing line sinkers (2)
_____ Duct tape (2)
_____ WD-40
_____ Super glue
_____ Sunglasses (2)
_____ Waterproof watch
_____ Candles, long lasting (2)
_____ Manual can opener

  • First Aid & Medical

_____ First aid kit
_____ Blister cream
_____ N95 Masks (2)
_____ Exam gloves (4 pair)
_____ Ace bandages
_____ Gauze
_____ Spare contacts, glasses
_____ Prescription medications
_____ Lip balm (2)
_____ Petroleum Jelly (1 jar)
_____ Sunscreen
_____ Warmers, hand/feet (2)
_____ Coolers, hand/feet (2)
_____ Ibuprofen (50 pills)
_____ Aleve (50 pills)
_____ Benadryl (20 pills)
_____ EpiPen

  • Personal Hygiene

_____ Comb/brush
_____ Toothbrush
_____ Toothpaste
_____ Floss
_____ Nail clippers
_____ Soap (solid or liquid)
_____ Washcloth
_____ Hand towel
_____ Bath towel
_____ 1-3 oz shampoo
_____ Antibacterial wash
_____ Disposable razor
_____ Sample size shaving cream
_____ Toilet paper
_____ Feminine products


  • Miscellaneous

_____ Signal mirror
_____ Carabiner, climbing (2)
_____ Carabiner, non climbing (4)
_____ Deck of cards (2)
_____ Roll of quarters
_____ Cash (>$200)
_____ Waterproof box/bag
_____ Passport/ID
_____ Local city map
_____ State map
_____ Topography map
_____ Regional map
_____ Map with Bug Out routes highlighted
_____ Paper
_____ Pen/pencil (2)
_____ Permanent marker (2)
_____ 2 way radio (1 pair)

    • Copies of important papers:

_____ Insurance
_____ Birth certificate
_____ Passport
_____ State/local ID
_____ House/land deed
_____ USB device loaded with document copies (encrypted)

_____ BOB bag(s)

Notes: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Recommended
    • Firearms

_____ Pump action shotgun
_____ Sling
_____ Waterproof case (optional)
_____ 00 buck shell (75)
_____ Birdshot shell (25)

_____ Battle Rifle .308 or .223
_____ Sling
_____ Scope, red dot sight (4X)
_____ Magazine, spare (4)
_____ Ammo (JHP/FMJ, 300 rounds)
_____ Gun cleaning kit
_____ Magazine pouch

_____.22 LR Rifle
_____ Sling
_____ Magazine, spare (4)
_____ Ammo (300 rounds)

_____ Pistol, semi-automatic, .45 ACP or 9mm
_____ Holster
_____ Magazine, spare (2)
_____ Ammo (75 rounds)


_____ Shooting goggles
_____ Night vision device
_____ Body armor/load bearing vest
_____ Ballistic helmet
_____ Waterproof GPS
_____ Portable solar panel charger
_____ Rechargeable batteries (AA, 4, AAA, 2)

Mr. Rawles,
A close personal friend of mine is a FDIC bank auditor in Illinois. This person gives the final word on whether they will close a bank or not, to put it in simple terms. I'm sorry I cannot provide you with any more credible source other than my word which is based upon our conversations, but I feel it important to share this information with you and with the readers here.

A little background: Most failed banks are essentially sold to other banks and some go into receivership. The common maneuver here is to transfer the assets and liabilities to another bank with some level of guarantee from the FDIC to help support those liabilities. This is [typically] done on a Friday evening and causes the bank to be closed perhaps the next day (Saturday) and then the bank re-opens, business as usual, on Monday. So far, there has been little panic or problems with this [modus operandi].

Now, I can't speak for what is happening around the U.S. but my friend states that in Illinois, they are finding it more and more difficult to find banks that want to help out. That is, the banks that formerly had wanted to purchase other banks have done so and are not interested in buying any more banks. To put it bluntly, the FDIC is running out of buyers. My friend states that often times they are literally coming down to the wire to get all the transactions and contracts, etc. pertaining to the purchase completed in time to seamlessly make the transition, as it is taking longer and longer to secure a buyer.

I'm not quite certain what to make of this other than it's quite obvious that we've reached a saturation point in the banking industry where they themselves can no longer purchase any more failed banks.

So how else can this information benefit the readers? I believe that we should keep an eye out for more banks going into receivership or being absorbed by the Federal Government versus being purchased by other banks. We should also watch for any prolonged transitions of one bank closing and not opening back up under a new bank for more than a couple days. These subtle indicators may be one of those much sought after cues for knowing when to put some plans into action.

Thank you for all you do. Sincerely, - Tanker

JWR Replies: Thanks for sharing that information. SurvivalBlog readers should be forewarned: 1.) The pace of bank failures in the U.S. is likely to to increase. 2.) The number of banks that will have to be directly bailed out (rather than conglomerated with little fuss) will increase. And, 3.) The risk of bank runs will also increase. The point at which bank runs occur is difficult to predict, since it is based upon subtle psychological tipping points.

Reader Z.D.G. notes: "Our little small town in Texas recently raised our water rates by a whopping 59%. Ouch! Time to get water independence."

Homeless Outraged That $1 Menu at San Francisco McDonald's Now 50 Cents More

Higher taxes and fees ahead in 2011 and beyond: Recession Continues to Batter State Budgets; State Responses Could Slow Recovery

Bicycles offer a lifeline in rural Zambia. Bikes are used for transportation and even grain grinding.

   o o o

Several readers sent this: Long Island Man Arrested For Defending Home With AK-47. Jeff E. notes: "This guy fired three shots into the dirt to deter several hostile gang members approaching his home and threatening him and his family. And who went to jail? The homeowner. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but only a complete moron would continue to live in New York."

   o o o

Joe O. sent this: Our terrifyingly crowded solar system: New video reveals just how many asteroids are out there

   o o o

Senate hearings are scheduled for September 14th: “Firearms in Commerce: Assessing the Need for Reform in the Federal Regulatory Process”. These hearings will be webcast. I have doubts that the really sticky issues will be addressed. These include: delineating intrastate and interstate commerce (something that 8th graders understand well, but that some third-term Senators apparently cannot grasp), and the National
Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR)--the horribly mismanaged, antiquated, grossly inaccurate joke that passes for a Class 3 registry database.

   o o o

Indonesian volcano erupts again; strongest yet. More violent eruptions ahead? (It happened in the 1800s.)

"I got into the military because I like to shoot, not the other way around. They didn't teach me how to shoot after I got into my uniform. I got into my uniform because I thought that I'd get a lot of ammunition." - Colonel Jeff Cooper, speaking at a Doctors for Disaster Preparedness convention.

Wednesday, September 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.

For many years I have been working towards self-reliance. I like to use the older term self-reliant simply because I feel “survivalist” doesn’t describe the lifestyle properly. I don’t intend to just “survive” but “thrive” – would that make me a “thrivalist?” Yes, I know that was a bit corny. In all seriousness, let’s assume you are an average Joe living in perilous times. What I have to say is speaking to a revelation I have had over the recent years based on my over confidence and belief that somehow I was different than the average Joe just because I know the big one is coming.

My History:
Before getting to the point of my article let me flash back to the beginning of my journey. My official introduction to the concept of survivalism was done unknowingly by a friend and group of survivalists that were preparing for Y2K. I was invited to come out to a friend of a friend’s cabin on acreage in Southern Georgia where we were going to “camp out” for the weekend. Before the weekend, my friend called and said “by the way, bring a holster for your handgun, and a sling for your favorite rifle, a backpack with essentials, a good pair of boots, plus anything else that could be carried on a hike.” I didn’t quite understand the request but of course complied figuring we were simply going to hike too our campsite.

Immediately upon my arrival I was overwhelmed and excited with what I saw. Throughout the property were small cabins being constructed by individual members of the group along with bulk storage areas for fuel, food, ammunition, and other essentials. Again, this whole concept was very new to me though it seemed to strike a cord in my inner being as something that was necessary and logical considering my concern for Y2K. I followed my friend as we made our way to where our campsite would be and a long the way I heard several conversations discussing weapons types, plus and minuses, creating group standards, food storage, and so on. Of course all of these conversations seemed odd to me at the time yet captivating.

The moment everything settled everyone began discussing practicing a patrol. Immediately everyone around began forming up two columns (apparently something they had done before). Having been in ROTC throughout high school I immediately followed suit. A gentleman took charge and then proceeded to instruct us that we were going to perform a practice patrol of the surrounding land and that each column of the formation would be independent squads. We then moved out as a group and individuals from each squad volunteered to be squad leaders and forward scouts. After we were well out of camp the squad leaders led their squads around a predetermined patrol path utilizing forward scouts and practicing noise discipline along with hand signals. At this point I felt like a complete fish out of water to say the least – and was thinking “what in the heck has my friend gotten me into!?”

As the patrol continued, I did my best to comply with my fellow squad members. I had a limited knowledge of hand signals so I was at least able to keep in step with my squad for the most part. Several points a long the way the forward scout would stop the squad to listen – after being satisfied there were no threats we continued our patrol. We stayed off of most trails and pushed our way through the thick Southern Georgia swamps. The patrols were mostly uneventful but exciting. I was fascinated with the whole concept of this exercise and felt energized though we hiked with weighted packs through tough terrain and over significant distances. We returned from the patrol and discussed as a group the issues, weaknesses and strengths of our different packs, slings, harnesses, and various tactical equipment. The weekend itself continued at this tempo with several more “hikes” as we called them and intense conversations about the possibility of disaster this coming Y2K pursued. I met some very interesting folks and maintained several of those relationships even till this day.

After Y2K came and went without the slightest indication of catastrophe the group slowly broke apart and no longer met and personally my interests in the subject dwindled but not entirely. I continued my interests in shooting and somewhat frequently made it to the range with my friends and still had several conversations on the subject but really did not formulate or act on any concrete plans.

Life happened and other things took priority. I met my wonderful and present day wife and have been blessed with five children. Our lives were that of a typical family with not the best priorities but I would say better than average. We led a fairly frugal life but a comfortable one. Several years ago, the same friend that introduced me to the “group” back in 1999 recommended I grab the novel "Patriots" by James Rawles and “give it a read.” The moment I began reading the book I couldn’t put it down. Immediately I was consumed with the aspect of survival laid out in a way I never really conceived though I had experienced different aspects of it, but never congruently. My interests were reinvigorated and I began to consume more information on the topic resulting in research and many more conversations with different friends.

As a father of three at the time, my concept of survival changed significantly. I now had a wonderful wife and three children (with more on the way). I didn’t want to just “survive” but to thrive in post-catastrophe. I felt it is my responsibility as a father and husband to make sure my family had the best possible life. Fortunately, my wife is and was always very intelligent and open to the concept. Slowly we talked about the prudence of being prepared as a family. I remember initially feeling almost powerless at the task ahead. We had a fairly large family and no real resources to throw at the problem.

Shortly there after we were met with financial hardship when I took a significant loss in work. I lost a major client while retaining some smaller clients causing a huge deficit in our income versus expenses. This went on for 18 months. We lost just about everything including our home. The sense of depression was significant and further amplified by the concern of a coming catastrophe. Then everything changed. We reached a point where after serious soul searching we knew we didn’t want to embark on the typical American life represented as nothing but shallow consumerism. We wanted self reliance not just for our own family security but for the wholesomeness it would bring to our children. Life no longer became about shallow possessions but about meaningful content and the pursuit of happiness by our achievements.

With God’s grace, work came our way again almost like God had waited for us to learn this lesson before he gave us another chance. My wife and I spent two years looking for land that was both remote yet still close to family in our native home of Florida. We finally found the right community and area of Florida where self reliance was still a way of life, most people kept gardens, and agriculture and ranching is still the line share of business. Our credit was destroyed from our previous hardship so we had to use cash for everything. It seemed at every step of the way God provided opportunity and a means assuming of course we were open to it. We are by no means a perfect family but our path was indeed more wholesome and proper this time round.

A Revelation

Again, I began to formulate self reliance and survival in to our plans. After much thought and discussion with my wife we felt having a food supply of not just of stored food but active production was critical. With that in mind we have labored the past year turning our virgin land in to a farm and ranch using self sufficient methods of farming and ranching modeled after Joel Salatin and others in the Polyculture movement. Most TEOTWAWKI scenarios suggest a grid down situation where fuel and byproducts of fuel such as fertilizers and pesticides would become scarce – though that being the case most “typical survival plans” utilize fuel, pesticides, and fertilizers stored in bulk to support their eventual plans of gardens and food production. One really has to ask the question “is this sustainable?”

I find the concept of supplying a remote retreat where there is no current food production, to where one would “Bug Out” and survive whilst planting a garden for long term survival to be flawed and likely resulting in disaster. For the past year my wife and I have had the benefit of an income, hardware stores, the Internet, and many other things that would not be available post-catastrophe to help us achieve self reliance. We are no where near the point of producing at least 20% of our nutritional requirements. Sure there is a wealth of knowledge on farming and raising animals for food in books and on the Internet but the common-sense “every day stuff” is not spelled out, nor could it be grasped without actually doing it. Not only will the thousands of survivalists turned farmers learn food production from the school of “Hard Knocks” they will also be under constant threat of starvation when their food stores are exhausted, let alone the other stresses, including defending the retreat.

Let me create the proper image of the “average survivalist plan”. Let’s say you have 24 months of food stored up and of course every gadget imaginable. Six months have now passed and you decide it’s time to start on your farming endeavor. Lest we not forget you have a full time job of retreat security. Imagine working stressful 8 to 12 hours days 365 days a year and then coming home to work on your homesteading projects – I can tell you from experience it is hard to muster the energy today even though I am just into my 30s. Getting the picture? Most of us have great reasons why we shouldn’t begin this phase of our survival/self reliance plans now but are you really willing to bet your life on your first-timer’s success?

It isn’t until you begin planting a garden do you realize the seeds you bought are not optimized for your agriculture zone or even simple infrastructure items like near by water sources for irrigation, compost bins, and garden fencing to keep the critters out are in place let alone the right tools. Sure you may have gotten a handy list of these items but invariably it was written by someone that lives in an entirely different agricultural zone, soil conditions, and garden pests all together. Do you have a true understanding of the time investment to get these infrastructures items in place? How long to mature your compost and sources of nitrogen and carbon to feed your piles? Or even the proper garden spot that has ample sunlight. Oh - you need to remove a few trees to make room for your garden – got tools for that too? Each job will dovetail into other jobs you may not have even anticipated, let alone the tools and supplies you never realized were necessary. Ask any homesteader how long it took to get up and running – I can guarantee you most will tell long stories highlighted by serious trial and error over years of work and effort. Each homestead is different; there is no one universal method to success.

Especially if you plan to grow without pesticides and fertilizers – like an artist it takes much practice to master the conditions in your area to be a consistent grower. Imagine the stress you would feel having your first season crops fail or produce very little. Do you even know what plants are indigenous to your retreat area? Remember – simply observing your large local farms is poor indication of this. They typically practice monocultural growing methods which are highly dependent on farming equipment and copious quantities of pesticides and fertilizers – all things you will eventually deplete. You really need to research what grows locally without much help from bug protection and soil augmentation. You really should adjust your diet to reflect not only seasonal foods but indigenous foods of your retreat area. Otherwise, most folks will simply try and fail to grow things they like to eat now, regardless of season and feasibility.

Another example of a lesson learned that could easily result in devastation of your group’s food supply would be predators – the four legged variety. Do you have traps available for capturing predators like fox, coyotes, raccoons, or possums? A good meat bird (non-broiler) or egg layer takes a long time to raise – imagine losing half your flock in one night! Not long ago my wife and I awoke to a massacre of our chickens. The strange thing was there was no sign of the chickens in the form of body parts or feathers just simply they were gone. The only evidence was a small hole dug in to the coop. We have two German Shepherds that slept only 150 ft. from the chickens and they didn’t even stir other than a few random barks that evening. Only after many nights of sleeping in the dining area where we had a view of the chickens did we finally catch a glimpse of the predator – a fox. I had my Ruger 10/22 ready but the fox was too sly and on top of that I couldn’t make out his silhouette in the pre-dawn hours for a good shot. This brought forth the realization I need night sites or a good scope to shoot in low light conditions. It took three separate occasions before I managed to get a good shot and bag our predator. Imagine if we had depended on this flock of chicken for our egg and meat requirements and the possible ramifications of its loss--ranging in seriousness from inconvenient to starvation!

On the subject of chickens, how do you plan to raise them? Do you realize most modern chicken breeds have had their broodiness bread out of them making you almost entirely dependent on incubation to hatch eggs? Do you have an incubator and a means of powering it for the incubation period of anywhere from 21 to 28 days? What about a heat source for your newly hatched chicks, ducklings and poults while they grow in their feathers and can maintain their own body heat? What about the source of your eggs and chickens in the first place? What’s the likelihood you would be able to come about them without having to make dangerous hikes far from the retreat to locate and obtain them through barter? Personally, I would prefer to let a broody hen do the work of hatching and raising chicks but this is something you don’t just do since finding good broody hens is at best hit and miss these days. [JWR Adds: For broodiness, we've had the most success with Bantam hens. Bantams lay small eggs, but they don't object to sitting much larger fostered eggs.] As you can see this will take time to master – time is invaluable when the clock never stops ticking on your food supply.

I know – homesteading and self-reliance just isn’t exciting and sexy to the average survivalists. Typically, our focus is on tactics, guns, and exciting conversations on possible scenarios that may or may not come to pass. As survivalist we normally are avid researches to the point we neglect to really practice or act on the mountains of information we have read or debated. Do you believe that some how you will be exempt from the newbie mistakes of most homesteaders and farmers? Do you realize the convenience of a hardware store or even a quick Internet search will not be there to assist you?

As survivalist, have we not accepted the principle of self-reliance and independence from a system that we all believe may/will eventually fail us? Do you live in denial of this lesson based on the actions of your every day life? If you truly believe we are living unsustainable lives and this world is on a crash course to a catastrophic end then perhaps you should consider changing your own life now?

A Second Wave of MZBs

My greatest fear should the Schumer hit the fan is that well-armed survivalists who are ill-prepared in the food production capability will become the “Second Wave” of Mutant Zombie Bikers (MZBs). They will threaten those who survived the first 6, 12 to 24 months of chaos. We all know too well how desperation will lead even the best of men. Let alone desperate men that are well armed, trained, and experienced. It is my hope by exposing these potential flaws in common survival planning that I will protect my family and others from a deadly Second Wave attack or at least decrease its intensity.

Possible Solutions

So what to do? Unfortunately the answer is not all that easy. If you are planning to but out to a remote retreat you may want to consider finding one close enough to allow frequent trips for building infrastructure while the hardware stores are still open, doing test plantings to determine what really grows best while the Internet is still up to research your results.

As we begun our own homestead these have been the things of our focus:

1) A reliable water supply capable of operating with out grid or petroleum power machinery. [JWR Adds: Nothing beats gravity-fed Spring water.]

2) Chicken, goat, and other small livestock shelters.

3) Construction of fencing for pastures, paddocks, and gardens.

4) Compost piles and other soil enrichment

5) Support buildings for harvest and animal processing

6) Storage areas for harvested plants and animals

7) Planting of orchards [vineyards, berry patches] and other plants that takes time to mature

This is just a very general list to get started. We have had a year to work on this “grid-up” with help from friends and family with no fear of MZBs and we have hardly made a dent! Can you tell me without hesitation that you could plan every aspect of this operation in advance, in just one trip to the hardware store, years before needing it, without having done it before? Sure, the human spirit is very capable when under pressure but unlike our Savior you will not be making wine out of water.

I doubt even the most experienced farmers and ranchers placed on virgin land would have immediate success. Sure the pioneers were able to do it but they had the benefit of everyday knowledge learned firsthand or that was passed down by the generation of pioneers and farmers before them. Common man is completely out of touch of these once generally known survival skills and therefore will be subject to a learning curve.

If it is absolutely not in the cards to be near or live on your retreat then I would strongly suggest you consider a 3 to 5 year food supply to give you enough time to establish your future homestead. I can guarantee that you will not have all of the required tools, skills, and supplies therefore the ability to adapt, substitute, and use what is at hand will become the rule of the day.

Let me jump back to what I said in the beginning about thriving instead of surviving. If you truly believe in self reliance and the prudence of preparedness then why not act with your principles and embark on what you feel to be necessary and wholesome? Make the life change and increase your odds of survival by living it now and not later.

Another option to consider if you have formed a group is to allow the most capable member(s) of the group with the most flexibility to live on the retreat property and where they will engage in daily infrastructure improvement/homesteading activities. If local work or income is not an option, then perhaps a small monthly donation from all group members would subsidize members manning the retreat. In the mean time group members could make frequent trips to the future retreat to assist in major infrastructure projects, plantings, and harvests of crops. This would even allow the opportunity of animals to be kept at the retreat. Think about the benefits of stored food costs that could be saved by actively growing your own as a group? You could also establish your pastures and raise meat cattle to provide a source of fresh meat for the group and sell the excess to processors as another means of revenue generation. The same could be done with chicken, goats, and so on. Make this an investment that will pay for itself in what it generates for the group. There is no reason a retreat needs to be a liability constantly requiring capital to maintain. If you are successful at this then you know without doubt not only will you have a secure retreat but a productive one capable of supplying your group of its basic needs. Besides, wasn’t this the reasons for homesteads in the first place?

A third option is to find a self-reliant minded homesteader that is looking to find others to populate their homestead turned retreat should catastrophe happen. At least in this case you have a viable farm / homestead with active and a history of successful production. Nothing is more critical than the long term aspect of survival. If you are literally just making ends meat and simply survive versus thriving then how do you intend to come to the aid of others and participate in the rebuilding of our communities?

I understand these may not seem like realistic options. But they still do not change the reality of the situation and the points I bring to the table. I fear most have severely under estimated their long term plans and have only focused on short term survival. Survivalism is really self reliance in the sense of traditional homesteaders and the Patriot farmers who founded this nation. It is time to reject today’s shallow society and embark on true substance filled journeys bound to bring true happiness and fulfillment.

A lot of folks will read this and either take it for what it is which is “my real life experience and revelations on the matter” or they will discard it for more interesting topics on survival while ignoring the elephant in the room. Don’t be the latter, take a serious look at your plans. Boilerplate survivalism is not the answer – to be honest it is more like consumerism. You will have to analyze your personal situation and take the proper steps to experience first hand what your challenges will be. Don’t take my advice or anyone else’s for that matter. Go do it yourself and graduate from the school of “Hard Knocks” before TSHTF and while you still have the luxury of failing.

Traveling in the aftermath of a societal collapse will become more difficult without the use of a motor vehicle, which is why you hopefully live near a water source. It is easy to visualize how after a collapse how one
could move around locally. Whether or not what one is planning on doing locally is energy efficient or not, to some degree, will not matter as there is not very much distance that needs to be covered. If
however you need to move over long distance how efficient the travel is becomes much more important. Lets look with some detail at examples.

For the following examples, I am using a 30 year old, 170 pound male. For others the absolute numbers will be off, but the relative energy use will still be the same. i.e. a 110 pound 60 year old women will still be more efficient biking then running.

Today we are used to walking out to the car, getting in and going where we want. We can sit down (77 calories per hour) and travel at 65 miles per hour. While driving it only takes 1.2 calories to travel a
mile. That is not very much at all. Bikes seem to be a common theme in plans to move around after a disaster, and we all know they are fairly easy to go long distances on. What do the numbers tell us? At a reasonable 14 mph it takes about 50 calories to move a mile. Comparing biking to moving around in a car and the car is more then 40 times more efficient! It is easy to see why cars are so popular.

Below is a table showing the energy use for several ways of getting around. What we can see is that moving around on wheels is awesome! Biking and Rollerblading are very efficient, as well is being fairly quick ways to cover a lot of ground.


Activity Calories Per Mile
Driving 1.2
Biking 50
Inline Skating 65
Walking 85
Snowshoeing 110
Cross Country Skiing 120-135
Running 125-130

Go get yourself a bike and maintain it well and you will be able to move around if you can not use your vehicle. But a bike is a pain to haul around everywhere. A set of inline skates can sit in your trunk and barely be noticed along side a good set of hiking boots. Once again we see that there is some trade offs to be made between money, gear and capabilities.

Getting back to the real point, what does this mean when moving long distances? Well the point is that it takes a very large amount of energy to move around. How much energy would it take to travel, say
100 miles? To illustrate that lets use how much food one would have to use to travel that distance. The most energy dense food that we have is fat. Butter is a good example (as is the body fat around your waist). A
pound of butter contains about 3,200 calories.

The below table shows how many pounds of butter (or fat) that one would need to use along the course of their journey to replace the calories they burned. I was surprised at just how much food [Expressed in terms of "pounds of fat equivalent"] is required to keep a person going over these distances. Also not sure where one is going to be able to pack that much food on a bike or a pack when trying to move that far.

Activity Calories Per Mile Pounds of Fat Per 100 Miles Pounds of Fat Per 1,000 Miles
Driving 1.2 0.0 0.4
Biking 50 1.6 15.6
Inline Skating 65 2.0 20.3
Walking 85 2.7 26.6
Snowshoeing 110 3.4 34.4
Cross Country Skiing 130 4.1 40.6
Running 130 4.1 40.6

What we can see from this is that moving around after a collapse will be very energy intense, and will require trading with others and logistics beyond "I will carry it all by myself". This in itself is a good argument to shelter in place and keeping cash and small silver pieces on hand.

I just wanted to bring up something after reading article about hiding gardens and animals in rural areas, recently linked in SurvivalBlog. Something that people might want to consider, that we have done. We chose to build a barn rather than a house. And I know you can quite often find properties that already have a barn or large outbuilding. We have a 46' x 60' pole barn. Within that we framed in about 900+ square feet for our home. The rest is divided up between stalls, a run in area for large animals, and a shop. One of the 12' X 12' stalls houses our chickens and our rabbits. There is a back door right out of the kitchen area and into the aisle of the barn portion. We only have two windows, one next to the front door. And that door and window also has a regular big sliding barn door that we can slide closed, so that there is no sign of either. And it can be latched closed from the inside. The other window is the bathroom/utility room, which has a dutch door covering it and when closed looks like another stall door.
We can care for the animals without ever leaving the cover of the building, if we need to.

The garden is placed in a small sub irrigated valley slightly above the grade of the barn. And we have large open pastures all around everything for good sight of anyone approaching. No one can see you if your in the garden area unless they come from the top of our property and we will have someone on watch from that highest point at all times, if it comes to that.
Anyway, I just wanted to give folks some ideas of alternative housing that they might not of considered. And because barns always have large lofts or "attic type areas" you have more room to expand if more room is need.

Take care, - T.T. in the Northwest

JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that Charles "Pa" Ingalls of the mostly factual 19th Century Little House on the Prairie book series kept a padlock on his barn, to help prevent Indians stealing his horses at night. Some things never change. There's just a new cast of characters.

UN calls special meeting to address food shortages amid predictions of riots; Poor harvests and demand from developing countries could push cost of weekly shop up by 10%

Back in January, Turkey's leaders were claiming that the then 6% annual inflation rate was "temporary". But now it is back up to nearly 12%. Could a return to the Bad Old Days of 90% annual inflation (like Turks experienced in the mid-1990s) be on the horizon?

Modern-day wheelbarrow loads of cash: Could Tiny Somaliland Become the First Cashless Society?

Inyokern wrote to say that he enjoyed this article: The Trouble with Civilization; Ancient cities reveal the vulnerabilities of modern societies

   o o o

Guatemala mudslides kill at least 38; two buses hit

   o o o

Jim D. flagged this: Argentines risking all to carry huge wads of cash

   o o o

Patrice Lewis, the editor of the Rural Revolution blog recently had an excellent post: Don't come a-knockin at my door. Think OPSEC!!!

"Our forefathers didn't bury their guns. They buried those that tried to take them." - SurvivalBlog Reader Bill H.

The P6 Preparedness Matrix (priorities + planning + products + provisions + practices + perspective = preparedness) is at the core of success in life. Each of these aspects are essential if we are to be prepared for what ever may befall us in any area of life; both the normal dailies as well as situations unique or unusual to us including long term survival. Think of a six sided cube. These six aspects frame the P6 Preparedness Matrix and thereby define and appropriately constrain our actions (our preparedness if you will) in any situation.

These six aspects, for the purpose of understanding the P6 Preparedness Matrix, are defined as follows:

  • Perspective – A correct understanding of things in relation to each other. This includes the ability to grasp that perspective is not one dimensional and that proper perspective requires having all aspects of a given situation in clear view. This does not imply that once everything is in clear view that it will be as clearly understood. It does however mean seeing everything in relation to its surroundings. We are binocular beings with the ability to grasp the concept of perspective (height, width and depth).

  • Priorities – The ability to establish an order of things where in one thing takes precedence over or has great importance than another. This includes the ability recognize and adapt to the reality (based on Perspective) that some priorities will require adjustment while others remain fixed.

  • Provisions – Items you are able produce with your own hands and particular skill set. (i.e. tools, clothing, garden produce, your own P6 Matrix, etc.)

  • Products – Items that you may or may not be able to produce yourself but by definition are acquired and cannot be replaced through any means other than trade, purchase or gift whether you define such as divine providence or human kindness. It also includes things acquired by any amoral means. (This is not a means of acquisition that I encourage or condone!)

  • Planning – The process of putting together a series of actions and/ or events whether logical or illogical that you intend to utilize to achieve a specific result as its end. (Bear in mind Planning can technically only be deemed successful after the intended result is met or exceeded.)

  • Practices – These are the methods developed and honed through regular, even habitual use of a Plan along with its associated Provisions or Products and utilizing the Priorities and Plans you have developed through Perspective.

  • Preparedness – The combined actions that bring together various aspects of gaining full Perspective, Planning (both physically and mentally), developing Practices that become proven, reliable and trustworthy actions in a given situation, as well as making available to yourself, for future use, Products and Provisions.

We are all familiar with most of these concepts. However, I wish to present a discussion specifically related to the aspect of 'perspective'.
What if the entire TSHTF or TEOTWAWKI 'perspective' is wrong? What if everything that has been discussed about societal and government breakdown along with all associated aspects that so many of your loyal readers are willing to accept as reasonable possibilities are all events leading up to TSHTF or TEOTWAWKI? What if none of these efforts to cobble together some sort of long term survival scheme will be successful for reasons we aren't able to see or are personally unable to accept? Thus Perspective is at the core of any Preparedness effort.

Historically speaking, virtually every form of government has been tried, some with a greater measure of success than others, but not one has achieved the unfettered, unencumbered Utopia that each of us desires. Not one of us wants to live subjugated to, under the domination or rule of a leader who doesn't have our best interests in mind when governing. Because of that, mankind has throughout our history constantly fought and fought for his right to choose. We have throughout history convinced ourselves that no one can better choose for us the we ourselves...individually. A recent contributor made clear that they were willing to die protecting the right of choice.

[A discourse on comparative religions, with a lengthy quote deleted, for brevity.]

While this brief discussion presents just two of the potentially compelling arguments that could be made, without touting specific religious beliefs, I would go so far as to suggest that failing to establish your P6 Matrix with this possibility in view might leave you vulnerable and in an indefensible position from which you cannot recover.

After all, if the Chinese character etymology is correct with regard to the story of a global deluge, then perhaps survival was anything but self-defined. There is nothing in any of the global deluge accounts to indicate there was more than one vessel. Sometimes making the right choice means accepting that when presented with only one choice we recognize that it is still a choice. Vision is not perspective if disconnected from reality. If you can't see the future in the present, then you will become part of the past. Develop your P6 Preparedness Matrix and gain 'perspective'.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

There have been several new properties listed at our spin-off site, A couple of these are earth-sheltered homes. If it has been a while since you've visited Survival Realty, be sure to check out the new listings!


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.

Everyone of the survival mindset has thought many times over about what tactical items they may need, whether it is in a BoB, in a patrol configuration, or in a secure retreat location.  However with my various talks with numerous survivalists, not too many have given any sort of extensive thought to how to perform some basic medical procedures.  Sure everyone knows that a minor surgical kit might be beneficial or that some Lactated Ringers intravenous solutions would help out.  However many individuals do not actually know how to use these items, at least from my experience.

Starting off one of the absolute best books for any form of survival medicine would be Ditch Medicine, available from Paladin Press.  Another useful piece of reference material is the NATO Emergency War Surgery Handbook. The important thing to remember is first off that these are not the only good books available on the subject.  Also one should realize that while reading books of this type, the aforementioned two, in particular, is that when they are talking about “war injuries” that does not mean that war is the only place it could happen.  Accidents and injuries happen all of the time.

As a medically trained and trauma trained individual, my “standards” may seem a little different, however there is logic to my madness, which I will explain as it occurs.  There are 3 basic steps involved in all sorts of tactical medicine, regardless of injury type, location, or severity.  Those are 1. Stop the bleeding.  2. Start the breathing. 3. Treat for shock.  The first step should be in and of itself self explanatory.  Here is where I will differ in my ways of stopping the bleeding from most that has been taught.

If you find yourself in a tactical situation (patrol, under attack, E&E situation) use a tourniquet such as the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) placed approx 2-4 inches above the bleeding site.  Every member should have one of these on their body at all times during a Bug Out/Patrol situation, preferably in a unit standardized location.  This will allow the injured person to remain with their finger on the trigger.  “The best preventive medicine is overwhelming firepower.”  Contrary to popularly-held beliefs, recent studies from Iraq have shown that tourniquets can be left on for days without irreparable tissue damage occurring.  Not that I would leave a tourniquet on for that long myself but a few hours to return to a safe location, or defeat the hostile threat, will obviously not hurt anything.

Once the firefight stops or the person is evacuated back to the secure location is when you can begin to treat the wounded area for any continuing injuries.  For example you could now clamp off blood vessels or place wet packed gauze into the site to reinforce any clotting that may or may not have occurred already.  After you have dressed the wound you can slowly release the pressure on the tourniquet constantly checking for any uncontrolled bleeding and adjusting your dressings as needed until the bleeding is fully controlled.  You could also use some suture material to actually tie the vein itself off, this will completely stop the bleeding and if done properly will allow for the tourniquet to be removed.  This would have no adverse affect on the affected limb or body part as there is a number of duplicate veins inside each limb.  If this were an artery you could still tie it off, however you will have to be extremely careful that you are 100% certain there is a backup artery available to supply that limb or body part with fresh blood.  A simple chart of blood vessels in the human body would be invaluable at this point.

The most important thing to remember in a survival situation is that no matter how much you clean everything with the limited number of supplies you will have on hand you will never be able to obtain 100% sterilization.  Do not spend 10 hours trying to sterilize something when just 15 minutes will suffice. 

Another important item to note is how exactly does one start an intravenous (IV) line?  Sure, we all know that IV fluids, especially when someone has been bleeding or is bleeding still, are very important.  However there are a vast majority of people that have no idea how to actually start an IV.  The most important part of starting an IV line actually occurs before you even think about opening a needle/catheter.  Assemble everything prior to putting the needle in the arm/leg/forehead/wherever you can.  Put the tube on the IV bag/bottle, “charge” the drip chamber by squeezing and releasing it, open the stop gate and drain all of the air out of the line, get tape items ready, place all of these items close to where you plan on inserting the IV line at.  Now you are finally ready to start an IV line.  I prefer the Over-the-needle- catheter type of IV catheters, as I find these easiest for novices to use.  Using this style of catheter all one must do is insert the needle and catheter combo into the vein until they see blood fill the flash chamber, directly above the catheter.  Once blood is seen you simply use your index finger to “push” the catheter off the needle and into the vein.  Make sure to hold the needle barrel with at least your thumb and middle finger and push only with your pointer finger on the catheter tab.  Once this is done and the catheter can move no further into the vein, i.e. it is all the way against the skin, you simply flick your thumb and middle finger back until you hear a click.  Now is the other tricky part, with your right hand place the IV tubing under your arm and route it so the end just barely dangles in your palm with the tube wrapped above your thumb, take your left hand and apply firm pressure on the vein immediately above the catheter’s termination point.  Slowly grasp the needle barrel with your right thumb and forefinger, at the same time grasp the colored plastic part of the catheter with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand while still holding pressure on the vein.  Slowly twist the needle barrel to the right until it spins freely, now you can replace the barrel with the tubing connector of the IV line.  Start the fluids flowing and you are completely done, except for taping up the site, which should be self explanatory.  If done properly the patient will not lose a single drop of their diminishing blood supply.  I recommend running the first liter of IV solution full steam, wide open also known as bolus.  This will rapidly expand the volume inside the blood vessels and allow the system a better chance of returning to normal.  Do not however run more than 2 liters bolus under any circumstances.  I typically will estimate blood loss and run that much bolus and then run the rest of the fluid in that bag at [a slower] keep vein open (KVO) rate.  I do this as slowly as I can while still keeping the vein open, if vitals start taking a dive I can readily switch back to bolus and give more fluids.

The only thing left to convey is to read and practice (pigs, both live and dead make good substitutes for humans in the present times) and become knowledgeable and comfortable with your medical skills should the need ever arise where you are forced to use them. 

The following is one of those anonymously penned items that keeps getting passed around the Internet. It dates back to the Siege of Sarajevo in the ethnic civil war in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s:

Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war - death of parents and friends,

hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing, fear, sniper attacks. To prepare...

1. Stockpiling helps, but you never know how long trouble will last, so locate near renewable food sources.

2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.

3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold's.

4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it's the easiest to do without

5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs enough heat to warm, not to cook. It's cheap too, especially if you buy it in bulk.

6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more valuable as the war continues. Sure, it's great to have a lot of survival guides, but you'll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you'll have a lot of time on your hands.

7. The feeling that you're human can fade pretty fast. I can't tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.

8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches.

Be Prepared, - K.T.

"Inflation fighting", Hugo? Venezuela introduces Cuba-like food card. This is like something out of Kim Jong-Il's playbook.

Reader Phil. J. wrote ask: "The news people say that we are in a deflation. What proof do you have that inflation is coming?" First, don't confuse commodity deflation and currency inflation. In the short term, both can happen simultaneously. This chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank shows that there will be plenty of consumer inflation in the near future. The Federal Reserve more than doubled the money supply in less than two years. Eventually, this rapid expansion is sure to show up in the form of inflation at the consumer level.

India Daily warns: United States faces hyperinflation along with massive recession - the runaway prices of food, energy, softs, and metals accompanied with endless job losses (Gee, why aren't similar warnings being published by the American mainstream media? )

B.B. sent a link to this outstanding country music video on YouTube: Never Gonna Stand For This by Teachenor Clark. (BTW, the opening clip castigating "Tea-bagging rednecks" is uber-liberal actress Janeane Garofalo.)

   o o o

Magistrate Recommends Dismissing States' Gun Suit. I can foresee this issue going to the Supreme Court. Given the precedent set by the U.S. v. Lopez decision, the States should prevail. In essence, if a gun (or receiver) is manufactured and sold within in a state, then there is no Federal nexus. (It is intrastate rather than interstate commerce.) Ditto for used guns being sold intrastate, between private parties.

   o o o

K.T. spotted this: Hiding Livestock and Gardens & preventing robberies and home invasions

"...investing in the stock market is a loser’s game. Just to get back to its 1999 level in real, inflation-adjusted terms, the Dow would have to hit 13,460." - Gerald Celente

Monday, September 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.

It is with some trepidation that I write this article, since what I write will be controversial and will alarm some members of the public as well as your readers. Some of my colleagues have urged me not to bring this subject into the open or to even discuss it in public. However, I think the topic is important and needs to be brought to the attention of the public. The issue is the effect that an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, or for that matter, even a great geomagnetic storm created by a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun, would have on a nuclear power plant. Personally, I believe that an EMP attack from a rogue nation such as Iran or North Korea or even a terrorist organization is perhaps the most serious security threat that we face as a nation today.

As many readers may know, nuclear power provides about 20% of the electricity generated in the United States. It is an important component of our energy mix, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and although some people are concerned about what to eventually do with nuclear waste, nuclear power plants emit no greenhouse gases and are generally quite benign. [I would rather live next to a nuclear power plant than say a chemical plant. How may people recall the incident in Bhopal, India? Over 6,000 people died or were maimed in that tragedy. No member of the public has ever been killed (or even injured) by a commercial nuclear power plant in this country.]

Many readers (if they are old enough) will remember both the Three Mile Island incident (where a Babcock and Wilcox reactor actually partially melted its core) as well as the Chernobyl accident, where an explosion damaged the core of a Soviet-era RMBK graphite-moderated reactor and spread radioactive fission products over a large portion of Europe. We in the nuclear power industry have been saying for years that a Chernobyl-type accident could never happen in the USA. All of the commercial reactors in the USA have concrete and steel containment structures that would prevent (or at least greatly reduce) any release of radioactive fission products to the public. The reactors at Chernobyl had no such containment structure, and the explosion literally blew the roof off of the reactor building.

As a nuclear engineer who has worked in the industry for nearly 30 years, I have agreed with this premise – that all of the US commercial reactors are very safe. Under normal circumstances, I still believe this. However, as I have been studying the effects of EMP for the last several years, my concerns have grown.

I have recently been in contact with a member of the intelligence community who is highly knowledgeable in the area of EMP. I have communicated my fears regarding the effects that an EMP attack might have on nuclear power plants, and this person has confirmed (through independent sources) that my concerns are well founded. I have also gotten concurrence from eight other engineers of various disciplines at my power plant (such as transient analyses, simulator, reactor engineering, a Shift Technical Adviser and nuclear analyses) that the scenario that I describe here is accurate.

Nuclear power plants are not isolated electrically. They are tied into the power grid and are also dependent upon it. There is a postulated accident for nuclear power stations called “Station Blackout,” where all off-site power is lost. Every nuclear power plant must prove to the NRC that they have the ability to withstand this event without core damage. Every US nuclear power plant has emergency diesel generators just for this purpose. These are designed to start automatically in the event of the loss of off-site power. This kind of event has actually happened before in the USA, and the systems responded as designed, and off-site power was restored within a reasonable period of time.

However, in the event of an EMP attack, the grid will come down, and it may not come up for many months, if not years. It is likely that a substantial number of transformers that are used to link power plants (and this applies to all power plants – coal, gas, oil and nuclear) to the grid will be “fried.” There will be no way to obtain off-site power to restart the nuclear power plants. Most station blackout events are assumed to be concluded (i.e., “over”) within 24 hours. No one that I know of has seriously analyzed the effects of prolonged station blackouts.

Assuming that the emergency diesel generators will start after an EMP event (and this is up for debate), most power plants only have enough diesel fuel on site to keep them running for about one week (though some may have up to 30 days of fuel). If they don't start, or if the controls systems do not operate, then everything that I describe here will still come to pass, only much more rapidly. The power from the diesel generators is needed to operate the pumps that circulate the water in the reactor (called the “primary side”) and that also feed the steam generators with water (part of the “secondary side”). If power to the reactor coolant pumps in the primary side is lost, the reactor will likely begin what is known as “natural circulation.” However, in order to remove heat from the reactor core, water still needs to be continuously pumped through the steam generators so that the heated water in the secondary side can be cooled either via cooling towers, spray ponds or some other ultimate heat sink. If these secondary side (feed water) pumps will not operate, then the steam generators will dry out and then the cooling effect for the core is lost. (A steam generator is just a very large heat exchanger. Think of the steam generator as the “radiator” in your car. If your water pump goes out, water will not be able to flow through the radiator, and your car will overheat.) The result is that the reactor core will heat up, pressure will build to the point that the reactor coolant system (RCS) will not be able to withstand the pressure. Special spring-loaded valves will automatically lift and vent steam to the containment building to reduce the pressure in the primary system. Loss of pressure control will occur eventually, the coolant inventory in the RCS will drop to the point that the core becomes uncovered. Charging pumps normally would pump additional water into the primary system, but without power, these will not be available. Essentially, this event is similar to what is known as a Loss of Cooling Accident (LOCA). Again, all power plants are designed to “survive” this type of accident with minimal fuel damage. However, that assumption is based on having power available to operate the safety systems, including the High Pressure and Low Pressure Safety Injection (HPSI and LPSI) pumps to pump additional water into the primary system. There are other emergency systems, such as Safety Injection Tanks (SIT), which are passive and will inject water into the core when the pressure is reduced enough such that the SIT tank pressure is greater than the RCS pressure and then the check valves will open automatically. [It should be pointed out here that there are also steam-driven auxiliary pumps that will still function for a while to run the auxiliary feed water system to feed additional water into the steam generators (until there is no water left in the secondary system to turn into steam).]

The HPSI and LPSI pumps are designed to ensure that the core remains covered (as much as possible) by injecting water into the core so that the core can still be cooled. If these pumps are not working due to lack of electrical power, then no additional water is being injected into the core. When the water level in the reactor drops below the top level of the fuel, the core will begin to melt. This is what happened at Three Mile Island. However, the containment structure prevented large releases of radioactive fission products to the public.

You might ask, “well, if the containment structure can contain the melted reactor core, is there a real danger to the public?” The answer is, “yes,” but not from where you think. The reactor core may well be the focus of most people, but the real concern is somewhere else.

What many people don't know about nuclear power plants is that when spent fuel is off-loaded from the reactor core, the fuel is then placed into what is essentially a large, very deep swimming pool called the “spent fuel pool.” Fuel that has been removed from an operating reactor core is still very hot (both in the sense of temperature and radiation level). In fact, if you were to stand within even 50 feet of a spent fuel assembly with no shielding, you would receive a lethal dose of radiation in just seconds. The water in the spent fuel pool, in addition to cooling the fuel assemblies, acts as a biological shield. In fact, water is an excellent shielding material. You can stand at the top of the spent fuel pool in virtually any nuclear power plant in the US and receive virtually no dose of radiation, so long as the fuel assemblies are covered by about 25 feet of water.

The building that houses the spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants in this country is usually a simple building, with concrete sides and floors but usually with nothing but a thin, corrugated steel roof. This is the root of the problem. Just like the fuel in the reactor, the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel in pool must also be cooled. These pools have their own independent, multiply redundant systems for cooling, separate from the systems that cool the reactor core. However, these pool cooling systems can be cross-tied with the reactor cooling systems in an emergency. The water in the spent fuel pool must be continuously circulated through heat exchangers (again, like your car radiator) to reject heat. Loss of off-site power will also cause a loss of spent fuel cooling. Normally, the temperature in these spent fuel pools is somewhere around 100 to 110 degrees F or so (similar to a typical suburban “hot tub”). When the spent fuel cooling system pumps stop operating, the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool will immediately begin to heat up. These fuel assemblies will continue to heat the water in the spent fuel pool until it boils. The best case scenario of “time to boil” for these spent fuel pools is perhaps 90 hours. The worst case, such as just after a core offload, would be much shorter, perhaps as little as four hours or even less. At that point, once the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool become uncovered because the water has boiled off, the effects mirror what would happen in the reactor core. The spent fuel assemblies will heat up until the fuel cladding starts to melt. As bits of the melting fuel fall into what is left of the water in the pool, the process will just accelerate as the heat source is now more concentrated since it has fallen back into the water and the water may flash to steam and this may cause the pressure in the building to increase, and radioactive steam, carrying radioactive particles, will now begin to exit the building through the non-sealed penetrations, portals or doors in the building.

Of course, there are usually multiple sources of water than can be called upon to re-fill the spent fuel pool before the water all boils off. But virtually all of these systems are dependent upon working, electrically operated pumps to move this water. If control systems have failed due to the EMP and there is no power to operate the pumps (either to add additional water or to pump water through the heat exchangers), then the fuel will ultimately become uncovered. Exposing the hot zirconium fuel cladding to air and steam causes an exothermic reaction, and the cladding will actually catch fire at about 1,000 degrees C. Even the NRC concedes that this type of fire cannot be extinguished, and could rage for days (Source: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan./Feb. 2002).

The bottom-line is that if the spent fuel cooling pumps cannot be operated or the system cannot be cross-tied with the reactor shutdown cooling system, then the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool will melt, catch fire, and radioactive fission products will be released into the atmosphere and much of the countryside downwind of the nuclear power plant will be contaminated for many years. Thus, an EMP attack has the potential to cause a Chernobyl type accident at every nuclear power plant in the country!

There are a lot of “ifs” to this scenario. IF there is an EMP attack or solar event. IF the emergency diesel generators will function (or not) and IF the spent fuel pooling system can get power from the diesels or be cross-tied to the shutdown cooling system. Perhaps the emergency diesel generators will still function, but what happens when they run out of fuel? In the event of an EMP attack, can tanker trucks with diesel fuel get to all of the nuclear power plants in the US in time to re-fuel them before they stop running? Will tanker trucks even be running themselves?

I think it also bears noting that the volume of fuel in the spent fuel pools is many times greater than that in the reactor cores. Most nuclear power plants have 10 to 20 years or more of spent fuel stored in their spent fuel pools. Therefore, the consequences of a spent fuel pool melting down and subsequently spewing radioactive fission products into the air is potentially worse than if just the reactor core were to melt and its fission products releases into the air. Assuming all of the spent fuel in the pool melts, catches fire and the radioactive isotopes are released into the atmosphere, lethal dose rates may be accumulated even 5 to 10 miles from the plant site (>500 REM), with dose approaching 50 REM even out as far as 50 miles. Since Cesium-137 would be the largest released isotope in terms of curies (which the body preferentially uptakes over potassium), it will be about 300 years before the area might be habitable again. This is because Cesium-137 has a half-life of about 30 years, and the “rule of thumb” is that you need to wait ten half-lives before the isotope has decayed away to a negligible level. (Results for dose were calculated for a typical pressurized water reactor (PWR) spent fuel pool using the RASCAL radiation dose code from Oak Ridge National Laboratory assuming 100% release over two days, winter conditions, calm winds at 4 mph.)

I urge anyone living within 50 miles downwind of a nuclear power plant to be prepared to bug out in the event of an EMP attack. You will likely have a few days to pack and leave, but no more than a few. If the reactor near you has just refueled, and the emergency diesels do not start, you may have less than one day (since the heat load in the spent fuel pool immediately after a refueling is much greater than normal, and boiling will occur much faster). Many people have already expressed here the importance of having a G.O.O.D. bag and a plan to leave their current location if required. However, many people may need to evacuate on foot or by bicycle if the EMP attack renders their vehicles useless. I think this puts added emphasis on having a G.O.O.D. vehicle that is not reliant on computers or complex electronics.

For those of you who commute long distances to work I would also suggest that you have and maintain a G.O.O.D. mini-bag. (Nutnfancy on YouTube has produced an excellent series of videos on this – he has called it an “Urban Survival Kit” or “USK”). If your primary commute vehicle fails due to an EMP (or if your train or bus fails to function) while you are at work, then you may have a long walk home. It is wise to have pre-positioned (if you are able), a bag or backpack which contains items that may help you to get home more comfortably and safely.

I will cover what is in my mini-bag that I have pre-staged in the event that an EMP happens while I am at work at my power plant. (I would need to walk more than 30 miles to get home) in another letter. But I certainly hope that I never have to use it! - B.Z.     

JWR Adds: At a minimum, in addition for G.O.O.D. and "get me home" kits, I recommend stocking up on potassium iodate pills, for thyroid protection, in the event of a nuclear accident. These are available from several SurvivalBlog advertisers. In some locales, they are made available free of charge to down-wind residents.

Good Morning Mr. Rawles,
Last year my former boss--with whom we used to have a Bible study--and who is a former Marine, called me up on a Saturday morning, and inquired about a firearm that I would recommend for a semiautomatic sidearm that he and his wife would be able and to shoot comfortably. Without knowing much about what he had in mind, I told him about the top companies, and that a 9mm would be sufficient for his wife, as long as they used +P or +P+ defensive hollow-points with a heavy bullet weight, and if even this was too stout for his wife you can always get a heavier recoil spring for those loads. There is no magic bullet for handgun ballistics, none are moving fast enough to create hydrostatic shock, and a 9mm in the head or center-mass is better than .40 S&W, 10mm, or .45 ACP in the shoulder or arm. He then proceeded to tell me about "Patriots" and gave me the run down.

I was away from home at the time but I purchased the book when I got back. My wife read it, and we purchased three copies and have passed them on to friends and family to plant the preparedness seed. Due to a limited budget, we have not been able to move to a rural area yet; however we are currently planning to move after my wife finishes out this semester. After being laid off this summer, she went back to school for web design so she could work from home, wherever we live. Amongst all of our current planning and preparations, my wife and I found out that we are pregnant with our first child. This adds a unique dimension to how we think about preparedness now. (Seriously understated.)

We began prepping with a three-tiered system: Alpha - essentials, may have to be carried to our family’s place in the mountains on foot. Bravo - things to G.O.O.D. with in our small SUV, such as tools, spare gas, weapons and ammo cans, and our current “hurricane kit” full of canned goods, medical supplies, and water. Charlie- If we have any room left in vehicle, non-essentials such as books. I have a nice set of the classics I want my kids to read someday.

If TEOTWAWKI were to happen tomorrow, we could no longer bug out on foot. In addition to being nauseated, my wife is fatigued and takes long naps in the afternoon. Food and rest is key for her right now due to the nature of the many things that are growing. She is also very hormonal and I don’t think she could cope with the stresses of combat or fatigue. She cries during commercials now too instead of just the cheesy love story.

We keep our G.O.O.D. bags ready on top of kit in master closet. I don’t know if she could fit into any of her cammies, or body armor--God forbid she took a round to the chest--the blunt force trauma would kill the baby] and I am wondering what we are going to do during the last trimester when it won’t fit at all. Hopefully we will be moved to our mountain home in January (she’s due in April). Then she won’t have to bug out to anywhere (far) and her duties would be concentrated in a LP/OP capacity and not in the field.

If we were not able to “bug out at the eleventh hour” and get the jump on the golden horde, I am sadly looking at what we would have to do to dig in. It certainly would not be ideal, but I am looking at all options. We have friends who could eventually make it to our place, but I would never be comfortable in the small condo we occupy. We would have to go somewhere. We have a state park a few miles away, that I believe we could melt into with a small group of us for security, and it is passable on foot from the condo to there. It would be like a permanent camp-out.

My former boss who told me about "Patriots" lives on the far side of this state park with animals and a little land. In order to thrive in a TEOTWAWKI scenario he would need a good group of workers and guys who are familiar with security, weapons, and field medicine, just to keep what he’s got. You cannot secure a retreat with 3-5 people. We would bring our own supplies and hunt the plentiful game I have seen in this state park. As an aside it personally offends me when I speak to people- friends or even family, who insist that if the SHTF they will “come to my house”. A friend and I were joking that A). I probably won’t be there, B.) if you haven’t prepared you aren’t leeching off of me, and C.) I might shoot you and take whatever you have in your pockets. I would never assume that I could go to anyone’s house without my own supplies and invitation to stay.

A third option is to survive until after the baby is born if we are still here in this state, and then hump it out to family in the mountains. This seems the most dangerous and you always have to factor in Admiral Murphy. (Of Murphy's Law.) He will throw multiple monkey wrenches into your plans. I cannot imagine keeping an infant quiet is easy, but somehow the Indians did it. Even using small unit tactics in a ‘V’ formation with wives at a good interval behind us, stray rounds will still kill. This is not an option I would be looking forward to at all.

The conclusions I am approaching are to be Semper Gumby ("Always flexible"). Adapt to any situation- even a hormonal, pregnant wife. Use my head, the solution is usually there, I just have to have the presence of mind to see it. Plan for a worst-case scenario and I will never be caught with my pants down. It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Last but certainly not least is prayer. Praying a lot is no substitute for good planning and due diligence; but without it, you will not be in constant communication with the real Commander in Chief, and thus will not be as effective as you can possibly be. By the way, I loved the movie Gods & Generals as it portrays General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as a superb commander and pious man, who also loved his wife well. - “Jeremiah Johnson” in Florida

Reader B.B. recommended this piece at Washington's blog: Government Economic Leaders Surprised that Real World Isn't Responding to their Magic Pixie Dust

I warned you, folks! It started with little more than rumors. But now here is something substantive: US Departments of Labor and Treasury Schedule Hearing on Confiscation of Private Retirement Accounts. The government is desperate for sources of revenue, so there is a high likelihood that they will ramrod this through. I recommend that you run the numbers for your age and consider your personal circumstances. Determine wehther or not it makes see to cash out before the end of 2010. (Federal income taxes are increasing in 2011, so it is better to take the extra income this year, than next.)

Dagong sounds the gong on U.S. debt; China's credit rater downgrades America's economic future. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

This piece by Maurizio d'Orlando ran in Asia News: This year, US public debt could reach end game.

Items from The Economatrix:

Service Sector Grows at Slower Pace in August

Watch Those Gas Pumps; Prices Expected to Fall

FDIC Holding Banking System By a Thread

Dizzy and Confused? Hunker Down!

Deflation Delusion Continues As Economies Trend Towards High Inflation

Reader Kimberly S. notes: "I noticed a dramatic increase in the cost of butter at Costco. Last summer the combination package of 4 one-pound boxes of butter was about $4.49. That was the lowest that I had ever seen butter at Costco. Today, the same 4 pound package was $8.99."

UN calls meeting on food price concerns

How Hyperinflationary Hell--And Commodity Heaven--Will Happen Before the End of 2011

Christchurch, New Zealand Mayor: Quake hit city 'like an iceberg'

   o o o

KAF flagged this item: Harnessing the Power of Gym Rats

   o o o

Bill N. found this great Analytical Survival video tutorial: Bug Out Vehicle - Re-Inventing the Car Trunk

   o o o

Ooh, ooh! I want one: The KamAZ Armored Car. (Not that I can afford to buy one, but it makes a nice daydream.) OBTW, I assume that these are built on one of the assembly lines at the sprawling Kama River truck plant--the product of some Yankee ingenuity from the Pullman-Swindell company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Pullman-Swindell was formerly a subsidiary of M.W. Kellogg Company, but after some more recent re-conglomeration, M.W. Kellogg is now a subsidiary of KBR.)

"Candles. I have a thing for candles anyway - so I love them. My theory is 'buy them cheap, stack them deep'." - Enola Gay, from her hands-on preparedness blog Paratus Familia.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Today we present a guest article by John Durfee, of Airsplat.

You see the open field coming up, and the only way to access the bridge to cross the river is to also traverse the field. You've been following them for several miles now and certainly don't to reveal your position. You've trained extensively for this, and you decide to cross using the stalking crawl also known as the Sniper crawl. If you don', then you'll surely lose all the ground you have gained on them. You successfully make it to the other side, and much to your delight, they are resting on a fallen tree on the other side. You carefully bring your rifle to your side, load it and aim in their direction. With the utmost care, you release the safety, and use the scope to zero in on the main target. Crack! Crack! "Hit" You run in their direction, celebrating your victory, it's the last day of this adventure and you won!

What I've just described isn't the latest Hollywood action film: it's the sport of Airsoft, and while fun, can be a valuable tool in teaching real world skills for emergency preparedness and survival.

In the United States, Airsoft had only had a small following until the late 1990s. This was because the only Airsoft manufacturers were from Japan and Taiwan, and importing Airsoft guns on a small scale was expensive due to high initial prices and the need for specialized knowledge. In the past decade however, the sport has developed from a small niche in the sporting market to a very popular sport and tactical simulation tool. The recent robust and more affordable designs coming out of neighboring China, has made Airsoft widely accessible to the public. There are fields and stores nationwide that are helping to spread the excitement and knowledge of this fun and safe sport.

Airsoft is different from air rifles and pellet guns in that they use standardized 6mm plastic BBs that weigh far less than metal pellets or sabots, and are perfectly safe in a controlled play environment [with adequate eye protection].

There are an increasing number of Airsoft clubs and organizations that organize multiple day events that can be attended for a set fee. They're run on weekends, usually centered around military scenarios, and the core skills practiced there are valuable to real world preparedness. There are varying degrees of immersion, varying from "play and go back to the car for a snack" to full milsim, where one acts, functions, and performs like a real military force for the entire duration. These latter are great for testing out survival skills. You'll make camp and have to spend one or two nights in the wilderness. You can practice making your tent or sleeping area using local materials and tarp. You'll have to bring your own food and water. Since these games are full immersion, even when you're ready for bed you have to stay alert for surprises coming at a moment's notice. If there are local sources of water around, like a stream, you can put your portable water filtration devices to the test so you know its reliable when needed.

On a recent excursion, we arranged night watch shifts--nothing feels greater than being the only one awake in your unit, keeping an eye out for moving shadows. In the day you'll work with your group or squad and practice maneuvers such as stalking, advancing, assault, and defense. Make sure to ask the event planner if you can practice first aid on "injured" soldiers with faux sprained ankles, cuts, and broken bones using a real First Aid Kit. You're allowed to become familiarized with firearms and learn how to use them properly. Airsoft teaches proper weapon usage, maintenance, and safety precautions. Most Airsoft guns in the mid-range price look, feel, and function as close to the real steel guns as possible. Some Airsoft pistols even disassemble the same way as the real thing! Real firearms training is great for becoming accustomed to the physical feel of shooting a gun, but Airsoft simulation events teach valuable self-defense tactics.

The most important skills these events teach is mindset. You can put all your survival gear through real world paces, know what works, and take out what doesn't. Working in a team, you're depended upon and you depend on them. Trust is crucial to any kind of worst-case world scenario. You have to be constantly aware of your surroundings, and learn to distinguish between friend and foe. You'll hone your aiming and marksmanship skills on real targets who will react and move. You'll train yourself how to respond - rather than merely react to surprises and potential threats. And if you're "killed" you can learn from your mistakes, and do better next time.

There are also indoor and outdoor fields that have an open entry policy, you can play for a few hours, and go home. One can definitely learn survival combat methods there. But I've found that extended outdoor events test and teach the widest range of abilities and skills related to preparedness.

Try web searching the term 'Airsoft' and the name of your state, you'll find forums where people get together and arrange outings. Airsplat has a web page with a comprehensive listing of training fields across the US.

About the author: John Durfee is a Gulf War veteran and works for Airsplat, the nation's largest retailer of Airsoft Guns and apparel.

JWR Adds: As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, Airsoft and paintball are fine for learning some aspects of camouflage and small team tactics. The fatal flaws of both, however, are that:

1.) Since paint balls and Airsoft pellets have hardly any penetration beyond five yards, players start to subconsciously equate concealment with cover.
2.) Because Airsoft pellets and paint balls only have limited range, people start to subconsciously think of anything beyond that range as "safely out of range" (for maneuver in the open.)

If you can regularly remind yourself about those shortcomings and adjust your training regimen accordingly
, then you'll find that they provide somewhat worthwhile training. But it is essential that you integrate high velocity ballistic realism. This means declaring anyone that blatantly stands up in the open at 50+ yards "dead meat." Ditto for anyone that mistakenly takes "cover" behind bushes. I've said it before and I'll say it again: concealment is not cover!

Today, I'm writing about Purslane, also known by farm folk as "Pigweed", (because pigs just love it). It's one of the earlier wild herbs, (wild edible) found in springtime , but thrives throughout early and mid-summer. By most people, It's considered a nuisance weed that pops up everywhere in late spring. It grows well in disturbed soils, and can be found mostly in old garden plots, meadows fields and along trails, stone walls and fence rows.

It's a small inconspicuous looking weed [see photos] that grows to about 6 inches to a foot tall, sometimes lying down to assume a creeping ivy like plant. It's dark green, wedge shaped leaves are thick and succulent as they are rich in juice and nutrition high in Vitamin C. The entire plant, (including the stems and roots) can be used as an wild edible and as a medicinal plant. Tasting tangy with a slight sour taste similar to sorrel, (often mixed with Sorrel as a pot herb to make the French Sorrel Soup call Bonne Femme). Purslane can be used raw in salads or just to chew on right out of the garden or trail. Purslane can also be cooked and use as you would spinach.

Medicinally this little gem has the ability to pull 'Heat' from the body. On a hot day blend some fresh picked Purslane, stems and all, with a stalk of celery and an apple in a juicer for a very refreshing and highly nutritious drink to allay thirst quicker than lemonade. Just a purslane leaf crushed or bruised and placed under your tongue can relieve thirst while hiking or working in the garden or yard. During bouts of heat exhaustion a poultice of macerated leaves and stems placed over the eyes and temples will pull heat out of the body making recovery quicker.

As long as you have your juicer out, by making a juice of Purslane and strawberries, (even wild Strawberries) and used as a mouthwash and or gargle that reputedly will help fasten loose teeth. Use and swish briskly in the mouth then carefully spit, trying not to dislodge the loose tooth further. A few application will help 'Set' the loose tooth.

Purslane, including leaves, stems and roots when cooked down and strained through a sieve or collander, then adding honey to the liquid or sugar to make a simple syrup to taste, can be used as a very effective cough syrup. Native American have used Purslane for dry non-productive coughs.?

Keep an eye out for this little inconspicuous and little known wild weed as it's healthful value is little appreciated now. - TinMan, Editor of the Belfire Botanicals Blog

Unemployment Rate Rises to 9.6%. That is the official figure from the BLS. But the really telling number is for under-employment. That is buried down in line U-6 in Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization. And again, that is the official figure. A 2004 article suggested that the real world numbers are probably substantially higher. (Somehow I doubt that this under-reporting has been rectified.)

Sue C. sent us this: Bernanke: Shut down banks if they threaten system

120 Days to Go Until the Largest Tax Hikes in History.

Items from The Economatrix:

Global Collapse of the Fiat Money System: Too-Big-To-Fail Global Banks Will Collapse Between Now and First Quarter 2011

Complete List of Bank Failures

Where The Banks are Failing

Investors Bracing for Dreaded "September Effect"

Pearl wrote me to mention: "We homeschool and therefore I stock up on supplies when they go on clearance after public school children have started. I still have boxes of Papermate pens left over but couldn't resist picking up a couple packages when I noticed they were on sale. When I got home I compared the clearance tags... Last year, I purchased boxes of 12 Papermate pens for $.35. This was 30% off the original price of $.50. This year, I purchased packages of 10 Papermate pens (no box) for $.70. These were also 30% off the original price of $1.00. Twice as much for fewer pens."

My cousin sent this: The Incredible Shrinking Package.

Patrick N. noted: "We are a family of ten, and long ago got in the habit of buying the "bulk" package of most everything. Many people buy the bigger boxes ostensibly "to save money." However, we have been noticing a price shift - making the smaller sizes cheaper per unit. Be sure to check the "cost per pound [or other unit]" info on the shelf [or calculate it yourself] because bigger is not always cheaper."

Rourke recommended the Patriot Nurse video blog. Rourke says: "She has done many videos on several survival topics. Check this one out in particular.

   o o o

"Your Agonizer please, Mister Kyle.": Inmate-frying microwave pain blaster turret installed in US jail. This news really bothers me on several levels. To start: This isn't at a prison. It is a County Jail, where I assume a good portion of the population is awaiting trial, and presumed innocent. This sounds like "cruel or unusual punishment", to me.

   o o o

I spotted this over at TSLRF: Talk about adrenaline powered feats of strength! Real American Heroes #1. Unless he went back to make separate carries, that's at least a 250 pound load, carried under heavy small arms fire. Staff Sgt. Jarrett D. Brown has a standing invitation to come hunt or fish at the Rawles Ranch, whenever he'd like!

   o o o

Cyber-squatting reaches a new low. Reader Roger S. mentioned Apparently, part of the Epik company's business model is to take the name of anyone notable enough to have a Wikipedia biography, "scrape" the biography content from Wikipedia, and automagically add a few video clips from YouTube. They then try to sell the domain name to its rightful owner, or even auction them, presumably to even more ambitious cyber squatters. (The "Greater Fool Theory" is alive and well.) Sorry, but I'm not buying it. I certainly don't want to encourage them. Some of these domain names sell for for big bucks. For example, the domain "" recently sold at auction for $15,000. These bottom feeders even have a convention planned, where they will schmooze and scheme more money, selling "developed domains." (With similar scraped content.) The only good news is that there will soon be huge number of new Top Level Domains. The ".co" domain just opened up, and ".blog" is planned. Within a couple of years, there will be ".inc" , ".movie" , ".film" ".radio", ".store", ".shop", ".book", ".news", ".poll", ".travel", and so forth. With this profusion of new domain naming options, the cyber-squatters will soon be overwhelmed, and lose their traction. OBTW, don't get me started about how Facebook hijacks people's names, without their consent. I loathe Facebook! Oh, and likewise don't get me started about the so-called "publishers" that are leeching Wikipedia biographies into books.

   o o o

M.&W. suggested: Watermelons: What happened to the seeds?

"The preparation which Hezekiah prudently made against this storm that threatened him: He took counsel with his princes what he should do, what measures he should take, v. 3. With their advice he provided, 1. That the country should give him a cold reception, for he took care that he should find no water in it (and then his army must perish for thirst), or at least that there should be a scarcity of water, by which his army would be weakened and unfitted for service. A powerful army, if it want water but a few days, will be but a heap of dry dust. All hands were set immediately to work to stop up the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, turning that (it is probable) into the city by pipes under-ground. Such as this is the policy commonly practised now-a-days of destroying the forage before an invading army. 2. That the city should give him a warm reception. In order to this he repaired the wall, raised towers, and made darts (or, as it is in the margin, swords or weapons) and shields in abundance (v. 5), and appointed captains, v. 6. Note, Those that trust God with their safety must yet use proper means for their safety, otherwise they tempt him, and do not trust him. God will provide, but so must we also." - Mathew Henry, Commentary on 2 Chronicles 32, from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. (Emphasis added.)

Saturday, September 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.

The biggest reason most of the folks we come across in our daily lives have no idea what is coming (the basic collapse of the American infrastructure) is the fact that they are “still sleeping.”  The iPods, Lady Gaga, American Idol, and You Tube silliness all work well to keep the masses sleeping.  This might be a good thing, in a way.  If nothing else, it buys the rest of us time to continue to prepare.  And if enough people do wake up, it will actually accelerate the inevitable.  But that is okay, since it is going to happen anyway.  And perhaps more people will survive to rebuild our nation.      

I personally believe it is too late to turn this sinking ship around.  The Euro will crash literally any day.  The Dollar and Yen will fall right behind it.  The best we can hope for is that the crash and subsequent reset won’t last too long.  I think at least one generation, maybe two, will really be in the hurt locker.  I believe the current administration wants a partial crash so they can more fully seize power and instill their way of life. 

But I think they underestimate how bad the collapse will be.  Even if they thought of calling Chinese troops to quell rioting, the rest of the world (probably China, too) will have their hands full. 

I still find myself reeling (mentally) when I contemplate the probable loss of life that will occur in such a scenario.  I’ve been trying to plant seeds with folks I come in contact with.  But it seems to have little effect.  But I am also careful not to sound like a right-wing nut job.  Not because I care what people think about me, but I don’t want to make myself a target. 

It is my hope that those of us who survive will keep some historical records, so when the country (world?) rebuilds it can be on a more mature, more stable foundation.  I have hundreds of hours of lectures on CD about world history, religion and philosophy that I acquired from a company called “The Teaching Company”  And while I am not an overly religious man (I’m nearly an atheist but enjoy Buddhist-style meditation, my wife is a Christian.) I do see the positive aspects of Christianity on a society.  Or, as is the case these days, the negative effects of its absence

But my point of today’s piece is how I became awake of the dangers coming our way.  In the process of talking about that, I will point out why I think most people remain asleep.  It’s worth noting that radio and TV personality Glenn Beck is a great source of information.  It seems he knows what is going on.  And I wish to point out, I developed my opinions about the world before I had even heard of Glenn Beck.  Once I woke up, I began searching the AM  radio dial to see if anyone was talking about this sort of stuff.    

My life has been an interesting one.  Heck, I could (and hope to) write a book about it.  But I’ll try to keep the background info brief.  My biological father abandoned our family of five when I was seven (and the oldest of the kids).  I started cutting grass and washing cars at 8 years old.  I’m sure I wasn’t very good, but I made lots of “pity” money.  And it helped install a good work ethic.  I was also a scared kid who turned to drugs and alcohol to try and quiet my mind at a young age.  By 28 years of age, I was a washed-out bum who couldn’t get (or hold) a job.

So I cleaned up my act, and by 41 years of age had mortgages on four properties in Southern California.  One being a beachfront condo, the other being a cabin in the mountains (Yes a “cabin in the mountains”.  But don’t get ahead of the story.).

All was going well, not a cloud on the horizon.  Aside from the two above-mentioned properties, our other two properties were preschools.  Our flagship operation had been full, with a waiting list, since 1978.  I was dabbling in Restaurant Consulting and Real Estate.  We rent out our beach condo weekly to folks who want to vacation on the beach in Southern California. 

As a part-time Realtor, I knew the housing bubble was going to pop.  But hey, I was not going to be selling anything for 15 to 20 years, so I wasn’t worried.  I had no idea of the world-wide consequences the bubble bursting would have. 

Then September of 2008 came along.  My previously full school was now 20 children under-enrolled.  At an average of $800 per month, per child, I was losing $16,000 a month!  Needless to say, we tanked badly.  We just barely stayed afloat. 

Now believe it or not, this didn’t wake me up!  I still had no idea of the world I really lived in.  My view of Washington and Sacramento had always been this – “Oh, they are all crooks.  As long as they leave me alone and let me make a living, what do I care?” 

But now that my life had fallen apart (financially speaking), I found myself searching for answers.  I couldn’t understand how I had been so blind-sided.  How did I not see the collapse and recession coming?  What else didn’t I know?  It was really this exact sort of fear and worry that had led me to drugs and alcohol when I was 13 years old.  Obviously that wasn’t an option now, but still I had to figure it out. 

In August of 2009, my wife and I needed a break (A few years back we had been going on two cruises a year.  My how times change.  At least I can say I saw a lot of the Northern Hemisphere, Hawaii and some of the Caribbean.)  So we took a week to drive through the beautiful state of Nevada. 

Well, the night before the trip I had been reading an article about the [then] upcoming movie 2012 with John Cusack.  The article was about “survival nuts” in Montana and Texas and their radiation suits and all the other survivalist stuff.  At the time, I thought of them (now me) as fringe nut-jobs.  But one sentence caught my attention.  It was a fellow in Texas who was telling the interviewer how he was stashing gold and silver to barter with “when the economy collapsed.” 

Since my own “economy” had collapsed 14 months before, I knew all about that. 

So as my wife and I hit the road, over our Starbucks Coffees I said, “So honey, if the U.S. and/ or world economies collapsed, what would we do?”  She didn’t answer for a long minute, maybe two.  Then she said, “Well, we’d just go to the cabin.”  To which I answered, “Yeah, then what?” 

For the rest of our week driving through the beautiful, but desolate and remote state of Nevada we began to talk-out all of the things we would need to live a life even remotely like the one we live now. 

Fast forward to now.  We are nearly set.  We’ve spent $2,000 or so on canned goods at Costco.  Our deep-freezer is full of meats I’ve gotten on sale.  At my current residence I have 20 gallons of frozen citrus juice from my orchard ready for bugging out.  We have vitamins for 12 people to last a year.  We have enough non-hybrid seeds to plant four acres.  We’ve had solar power installed at the cabin.  We even have a couple of portable solar generators.  Since I am not handy, I’ve gotten a carpenter and an electrician to join my tribe.  I also have a friend who hunted a lot in his youth.  He provided all the “lead rations” and “high-speed delivery systems” that we’ll need.  We are still a little light on medical / first-aid stuff.  But I’m working on that.  And we did all of our prep a little at a time, on a shoestring budget.  The solar was the only thing I had to max out the credit cards for.  Unfortunately I couldn’t afford gold, but I found a coin shop that sells silver at a buck over spot, so I’ve gotten 200 ounces of that.  I also have about 10 gallons of cheap store-brand liquor that I have bottled in little pint-size water bottles for bartering.    

But none of that could have happened if I had not “woken up”.  I hope this article might wake up someone who hasn’t had the rug pulled out from under them yet.  Because those are the people who are still sleeping.  And the main-steam media isn’t going to wake anyone up.  The current administration certainly isn’t going to do it.  In fact, they need us to stay asleep. 

Now, you might be saying, “But Lew, I don’t have a mountain cabin to flee to.”  Most don’t, so you’re not alone.  I would recommend getting some canned food, bottled water, and some firearms for defense.  Look at how you can best fortify wherever it is that you call home.  Gently “feel out” your neighbors to see where there heads are at.  A small, tight community of a few houses will fair better than trying to go it alone. 

In closing, I hope I have at least caused someone to “wake up” to the dangers that surround our current Western Society.  And don’t just take my word for it.  Do your own research.  The web is full of info on this subject.  I like and OffTheGridNews. Take care, and good luck to you.  Thanks, - Lew B.            

May I recommend the article titled The Correlation Curse by Howard Hill? Mr. Hill explains in very simple terms why, during a meltdown itself, it is critical to not be in debt. His thesis is simple - during a collapse, the primary asset at the center of the collapse simply cannot be sold so people begin selling everything else to cover their debts. This includes gold, silver and precious metals and is precisely why precious metals will ultimately fall when the final collapse comes. Now the good point is that precious metals will rapidly regain their value on the other side of that crash so you are only in trouble if you must sell gold or silver during the downturn. And you only have to sell if you are in debt and need to cover those debts. Hence the reasoning becomes clear - get out of debt!

I highly recommend Mr. Hill's article as a brief explanation of why prices of everything fall when a deflationary collapse ultimately hits. Note that you can still have a hyperinflationary blowoff after a deflationary collapse and in fact might have that if the politicians panic in their typical fashion. The key, though, is not being forced to sell to cover debts when everything is falling in price. Afterward is when you see the real value of your precious metals so it is vital to hold them through the collapse.

Thanks for a great blog! - David R.

G.G. sent this from Forbes: Bernanke Out Of Bullets But Not Bombs: Federal Reserve's ability to buy assets and spark inflation is unlimited.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports: Société Générale tells clients how to prepare for 'global collapse'

G.G. mentioned this guest article posted over at Zero Hedge: A Termite-Riddled House: Treasury Bonds

Buried down in the fine print of the New York Times we read that the FDIC is $15.2 billion in the hole. But gee, who's counting, and who cares, when Uncle Sugar can create unlimited money out of thin air?

The Daily Bell asks: Bank Run 2011? (Thanks to Shawn S. for the link.)

Bank run in Afghanistan: Karzai urges Afghans not to panic as bank withdrawals accelerate

Items from The Economatrix:

The US Economy is Not Getting "Better" -- It's Dying!

Gold Rallying to $1,500 as Soros' Bubble Inflates

Stock Investors Brace for Another Ugly September

Cash-poor Local Governments Ditching Public Hospitals

FDIC's At-Risk Bank List Grows

It's Impossible to "Get By" in the US.

More about the inflation riots in Mozambique

How Hyperinflation Will Happen

The Federal Reserve reported that the M2 Money Supply expanded 5.3% in just three months from April 2010 to July 2010. And the M3? Who knows. They stopped compiling that data 2006, after it had become too embarrassing.

Meat price surge fuels fears of food inflation

News from Bangladesh: Food prices push inflation up again

"I think people are beginning to realize that this downturn in the economy has just begun. We are about three years into what will turn out to be a 20 year crisis, with no guarantee what survives. But something will survive, and a new day will dawn on this planet." - From discussion forum post by The Unrepentant Cowboy (posted at Collapsenet)

Friday, September 3, 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.

Many times I’ve read on these pages the prognostications of my fellow preppers as to the current direction and ultimate destination of our nation, government and way of life. Of these possible outcomes one of the most common themes that crisscross the apocalyptic visions of the future is the grid-down situation. The author’s often refer to the mid 1800s as a reference point to orient the reader to the reality of what life would be like without the precious electrical current that so directly (and alternately) influences our everyday life. Today we can read about the lives of people living then but wouldn’t it be convenient to hop in a time machine and travel back to the 1800s and interview them about what their lives were really like. Alas, time machines do not exist but a very good alternative does.

Five years ago while searching for a part time job I found a position that seemed to fit me perfectly. I’d be teaching history, one of my favorite subjects, in an hands on environment. The only requirement was that I actually had to wear replica clothes from the 1840 time period. A living history museum, in need of an interpreter had hired me on. The term “interpreter” is actually very accurate because, though I spoke English, I was interpreting a time period and a culture that was so radically different that most people simply could not grasp the way the people of that time lived, worked and thought without a specially trained person “interpreting” the culture. It was in this context that I began to realize the skills, information and historical wisdom that living history museums contained.

If you want to know what life was like before electricity then go to a living history museum and see it with your own eyes. At the museum where I work there is a working farm with heritage breed animals. The farmers plow with oxen which they have trained from birth. In the fields they grow grains that are harvested, threshed and winnowed by hand and with 1840s style tools. Hops are cultivated by hand, an important cash crop for our region of central New York during the time period. These skills are, for all practical purposes, extinct in our modern world.

In the small farm house the ladies of the farm cook every day over an open fire with recipes from the mid 1800s. They preserve their own meat by heavily salting it and then smoking it for several weeks in a brick smoke house. This meat now desiccated and covered with black creosote, can be stored indefinitely in a cloth bag hanging from the wall. Another form of meat preservation is submerging the meat in salt water brine. Checked regularly to make sure the brine has the proper amount of salt, the meat will still be very usable the next year for the ladies to cook with. Having consumed the meals from the farm house many times I know that tastes were different in the 1800ss but the food is filling and certainly would fortify you for a day of farm labor.

Much has been written lately on this fine blog about herbal remedies for illness. The pharmacy at the museum is staffed with experts on herbs and their historical and modern day preparations and uses. At the museum that I work at a beautiful herb garden is there to put a “face to a name” for the herbs, so to speak.

Here is a short list of everyday things taught by local living history museums that you could find an application for in a grid-down scenario:

1. Blacksmithing - creating blades, nails, hinges, hammers, hooks etc.

2. Gardening - open pollinating plants that have historically done well in your area

3. Animal Husbandry/ Bee keeping

4. Cooking and Baking - how to create meals using a fireplace or bake bread in a brick oven

5. Rope making

6. Food preservation

7. Cloth creation - shearing sheep, spinning wool, weaving, sawing

8. Pottery

9. Wild edibles

10. Making shoes

Living history museums don’t pay a lot and thus draw employees that are retired or in need of a second job. These “interpreters” bring a lifetime of skills and knowledge to the table that can be almost impossible to find in modern day world. The vast majority of these good people are talkers too. If you arrive at the right time, with a smile and a question they will gladly bend your ear for an hour or more on some arcane topic like barrel construction or dying wool with walnut [husks]. Workshops are often available as well for those who would like more hands on experience with a topic that interests them. You could also seek employment at a local museum. The museum where I work is extremely flexible in its scheduling and I and my family can come and go at our leisure. Networking with other interpreters has provided me with a number of very valuable resources to increase my own self sufficiency.

A couple of hints for those of you who may be interested in mining living history museums for potential information and resources. At least in the northeast, July and August are tourist season. You will not have the undivided attention of the interpreter and other then general site seeing and the information you may garner from the signs hung around the village you will not walk away with very much in the way of useful information. The time to come to a museum in the northeast is after Labor Day to the end of October. The tourists are gone and the interesting work of harvest and preservation has begun. This is the time to visit and bring a note book. Interpreters will be glad to actually reach some depth in their conversation with you after two months of 60 second conversations with hot, impatient tourists.

Secondly, most museums offer a yearlong membership. These are generally much more economical then paying each time to get in. I can assure you that you’ll be back.

Living history museums are fascinating places with significant amounts of practical wisdom and skills. You won’t discover the key to surviving a nuclear holocaust or how to do small unit tactical training but make friends with the interpreters and query them for the skills, information and resources they possess and you’ll walk away better prepared to live in a world that no longer enjoys the security provided by basic utilities.

A good web site to start your search for a local living history museum is

Oil Should Be Around $10 a Barrel: Analyst. here is a quote: "I honestly think that if there were no investors using oil as an asset that the price of oil right now would be $10 or $15 or $18, but
it wouldn't be anywhere near where it is," Beutel said.

Jeff Nelson opines at The Street: U.S. Government Prepares for 'Crisis'. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

The Death Of Cash? All Over The World Governments Are Banning Large Cash Transactions. Its all about maximizing tax revenue.

G.G. suggested this by Martin Hutchinson: Combining the Worst

A bellwether event? Harrisburg, Pennsylvania defaulting on its bonds. (Our thanks to Jason R. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Fed Officials Discussed Further Stimulus Steps

Americans' Economic Confidence Ticks Up Slightly

World Markets Fall Again on Economic Fears

Oil Falls Below $74 as Global Markets Slump

Manufacturing in US and Aboard Lifts Economy

US Auto Sales Turn Frail in August

July Unemployment Up in About Half of US Cities

US Auto Sales Turn Frail in August

US Markets Suffer Worst August in Almost a Decade

Joshua H. sent a link to a nifty homemade hand crank flashlight, over at Instructables.

   o o o

In celebration of Labor Day, JRH Enterprises is offering full mil-spec AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ night vision weapons sight monoculars at a special sale price. These are autogated and complete with soft case, head mount, head mount adapter, operators manual, batteries, lens paper, de-mist shield, sacrificial window, and ITT tube data record, et cetera. The price is just $2,895, which is less than most dealers charge for a standard Gen 3 scope. (As I mentioned before, these are the much more sought-after Gen 3+ variety.) This sale ends at midnight Sunday, so don't miss out!

   o o o

Cheryl N. forwarded a link to the Collapse theatrical trailer. I noticed that "Collapse" is available via NetFlix.

   o o o

An old discussion thread over at TMM Gulching and Self-Sufficiency Forum has been revived: When Your Family Thinks You're Crazy.

   o o o

No comment necessary: Obama Administration Reverses Course, Forbids Sale of 850,000 M1 Carbines and Rifles

"There is no such thing as luck. There is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe." - Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Roman sent us to a web page with some "outside the box" thinking: How we turned an old backyard swimming pool into a self-sufficient garden in a desert city.

   o o o

Following her recent training with Louis Awerbuck, Tamara weighs in about Tacticool Mall Ninja fashion consciousness. And she's right. Looks don't kill. Well-aimed projectiles do.

   o o o

‘Don’t tread on me’ flags start disputes around the country. (Thanks to Judy T. for the link.)

   o o o

Pastor Chuck Baldwin (former Constitution Party presidential candidate) is wisely relocating his family from Florida to Montana.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Being married to an accountant, former government financial inspector and a finance director for a company opened my eyes to the concept of getting a return for my investment. For large tangible items, that concept is important. Oh, I certainly could fill a wall with a 55 inch plasma television, but what do I get in return for that investment? A wannabe movie screen that has a limited lifespan and sucks a chunk of energy? Will it help my long term bottom line of being financially independent and ready? The idea of investing in tangibles in a serious downturn made sense to me, even as described in Mr. Rawles’ novel, "Patriots". By no means is our family wealthy or “super preppers,” but we believe in the need to be prepared for any major disaster or incident, whether natural or man-made. We wanted to not be a drain or liability on what will be a fragile infrastructure and be able to independently stand. While not religious, we believe in the need to be there to help our neighbors when possible. It is our moral obligation.

In 1998, my wife and I invested in our second house after our first was declared to be in the way of a future realignment of a state highway (that explained why we could not get natural gas piped to the house). I was developing into a neophyte “prepper” due to my active duty and National Guard service as well as being a cop and living in earthquake and volcano zone. As a result, my focus was shifting into a more sustainable type of house. We found a great house about a mile away on just over an acre of land, with a year round salmon stream in the back part of the property. Of course there were some drawbacks: it was much older and needed work, sat on a reasonably busy road and with the salmon bearing stream buffer rules enacted by the federals, we were space limited. But the positives were that is was close to my work, the house was solid, had copper piping throughout (we preferred copper to PVC or similar), a septic system, detached shop, natural gas throughout, “legacy” type 60-100 year old cedar and fir trees backed by a greenbelt and a real, working fireplace with a first generation Heat-a-lator type system big enough to heat the 1,500 square feet of house if the power should go out or there was a gas disruption. We re-invested the money received from the state buying our other house into the current one and were already into the positive equity side. We knew we would invest some sweat equity in fixing things so that dropped the house price even more. In our eyes, the return on our investment in this house (our largest tangible asset) was big. In fact, during the Nisqually Earthquake of 2001 in the greater Seattle area, our house survived with nothing more than items knocked off some shelves in the garage while newer homes in the area suffered wall and chimney damage. Very good for a house that was initially built in 1938!

As time progressed and we added children to our family unit, we began to discuss moving to a better location, one that had more room and further away from concentrated urban and suburban cores as well as meeting our growing preparedness mindset. However, all of that came to an abrupt halt in 2007. It was at that time that my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease (as discussed several years ago on SurvivalBlog). I had to take a hard look at my dream of moving away and faced the reality that I would be looking at suburban preparedness. My wife and I discussed our options and realized that due to my daughter’s needs, our proximity to the local Children’s Hospital as well as various food vendors that catered to “Celiacs” weighed the greatest. We needed to stay where we were at and make the very best of the location. We began to look back at our largest investment and realized that it was time to invest some more in tangibles to improve the house now that we would be remaining.

My wife and I have been and continue to be blessed to be in what are essentially recession proof jobs. We also saved what we could, received a small inheritance and began to make our list. Over the last several years, we invested in big ticket house items that as little as six years ago, would have been nearly impossible to afford due to the “hot” economy and housing/remodeling market. I am not ashamed to state that we took advantage of hungry remodelers and contractors to get fair but reasonable prices on projects we weren’t able to tackle ourselves. We shopped dealer scratch and dent sales, Craigslist and other places to get new (but cosmetically damaged) appliances and fixtures. We upgraded the septic system to a gravity fed long life drain field and tank, allowing for our family to have a system that not only would meet our needs in the future but in a grid down situation, would function while the sewers failed (and could act as a privy with a portable outhouse that could sit on top of the tank). We replaced our decaying torch down roof with a sturdy metal roof while also improving the insulation in the ceiling while the surfaces were exposed. While the metal roof was nearly two-thirds more than a comparable torch down or commercial roll roof product, the return on that investment was a 40 year roof, fireproof to prevent possible roof fires and sturdy to prevent damage from the limbs of the trees surrounding our house. It met severe wind requirements due to the anchoring system.

Windows were replaced with new energy efficient designs that would work to better insulate and protect the house. We upgraded some of the electrical in our home, adding a connection point for a like new generator I received from a deceased family member. We learned through testing based upon ideas at SurvivalBlog and other sites that with the use of natural gas or propane in all of our major appliances as well as low energy lighting and energy efficient appliances, the 7,500 watt generator we had could easily power everything but the washer and dryer at the same time. All were immensely valuable tangibles that added to our return on the investment in our house.

My family and I continue to make some final investments in our house as well as our overall sustainability in nearly any situation save a nuclear strike directly over our house. But the idea of returns on our investments by investing and buying tangibles right now have made us more secure and in a much better preparedness position. With the mortgage payoff only a few years away, we will be in an even stronger position. When that biggest balloon pops, we will be all the better for it. - MP in Seattle

I just recently found your blog, and it's really useful. I've recently become interested in self-sufficiency, and it's a great resource.

I wanted to share a book recommendation that I think might be interesting to your readers, a book series called The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. It is a trilogy of young adult novels about a little girl who lives under a completely authoritarian state. The state requires 'tributes' from all 12 districts, children from age 12-18, one boy one girl. All are put in an arena to fight to the death, to show how much power the state has- they can force you to put children of your district to death. The story follows a tribute who has learned, in her poverty, to hunt, snare, scavenge, etc.

I don't want to ruin any of the story, but it fits so deeply into what you write about that I think you might want to check it out. It's definitely aimed at the young adult market but it still a riveting read as an adult, and would be a very good gift for teens you know.

Thanks for all your resources and writing. - Brian M.

You'll pay 6 to 7% more this weekend for your steak and hamburger.

This one is from Pravda (so my usual jaundiced eye proviso applies) Doomsday Scenario: Food Prices to Shoot Through the Roof.

Some more about the CPI hedonics trickery that I mentioned: Chris Martenson on fuzzy numbers.

Reader Jim P. mentioned that his local politicos in the Shenandoah Valley are doing away with a decal but keeping the fee! County Decals No More; $20 Fee Will Appear On Personal Property Tax Bills

JP Morgan: Food Prices Are Actually Rising, It's Just That Retailers Haven't Passed It On... Thanks to Don W. for the link.

My recent interview on Doc and Reginald Kaigler's Watchmen podcast is now available via YouTube.

   o o o

LVZ in Ohio notes that there is a home brew Pelton wheel project described here: Micro-hydro Power Bucket.

   o o o

Rod McG. pointed to the BBC's Dimensions web page as a useful tool for visualizing disasters.

   o o o

N.R.S. mentioned this opinion piece from a as Northern California newspaper: Maybe the NRA's right to be paranoid.

   o o o

I noticed that Darrell Holland's Long Range Shooting video is now available on YouTube. Buy a copy on DVD for your group's training library!

"A wayfaring man, traveling in the desert, met a woman standing along and terribly dejected. He inquired of her. "Who art thou?" "My name is Truth " she replied. "and for what cause, " he asked, "have you left the city, to dwell alone here in the wilderness?" She made answer, "Because in former times, falsehood was with few, but is now with all men, whether you would hear or speak." - The Fables of Aesop, Henry Altemus Company, 1899

Wednesday, September 1, 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.

No one has to tell a prepper that land is expensive, and purchasing suitable retreat property without financing it is difficult or impossible for most. Worse yet, as things continue unraveling a rural alternative seems to become more necessary by the day. Here are two seldom-considered options.

Option 1: A Retreat May Be Looking For You

Country people, who own and live on vast swaths of rural America, are used to dealing with assorted disasters, ranging from crop failure to blizzards to droughts. That makes many of them closet preppers, at a minimum, and some have gone much farther with long-range disaster planning and preparations. So there is very likely an ideal retreat already set up in the general area you would like to use for your Plan B.
All that remains is the difficult part, hooking up with an aware landowner. But getting a seat at a well thought-out rural refuge may be one of the most important security measures you could take for you and your family.

As the owner of a fairly large Texas ranch with extensive self-sufficiency infrastructure in place, here is what I, and a lot of landowners with a similar situation, will be looking for:


Rural landowners are for the most part generalists, as they have to be to keep their operation running. It is the rare farmer or rancher who can’t weld, doctor livestock, run heavy equipment of some sort, fix a water well, keep an old pickup running, field dress and butcher game, plow a field, and two dozen more essential country tasks. Most also range from good to excellent shots, having grown up with firearms and shooting. They respect capable people, and know that nothing can replace skills and experience.

Being generalists, what we often lack are specialized skills. Here is a partial list of possibilities:

  • Medical professional
  • Communications/ham radio operator
  • Pharmacist
  • Combat veteran
  • Electrician
  • Machinist
  • Blacksmith
  • Small animal husbandry; dairy goats, sheep, or poultry.
  • Home crafts expertise such as spinning, weaving, knitting, or canning.
  • Experienced horseman
  • Mechanic
  • Wine maker/beer brewer
  • Veterinarian

Any practical expertise you have might well fill a void in a landowner’s plans and existing group. So much the better if you know an area from top to bottom; shearing, cleaning, carding, spinning, and knitting wool, for instance, or have a portable ham radio setup complete with wire dipole antennas for each band.

And it doesn’t matter so much whether you’re an experienced prepper with a deep larder or a rookie who has just become aware of a need to provide for his family. The important thing, from a landowner’s perspective, is having the specialized knowledge along with experience and whatever tools or materials you need to practice your particular skill. As long as a rookie skilled in a specific area was willing to acquire basic food and supplies, as far as I’m concerned being a newcomer is not a drawback.

As an example, here on our place with our existing people we have virtually every conceivable base well-covered, except for one. Though we’ve all had advanced first aid and have fairly extensive med supplies, we know our limitations and would consider adding a compatible medical professional, from an RN to an MD. And in our case, such a professional being a preparedness rookie would not be a drawback, as long as there was a willingness to store some basic supplies.


Aside from specific skills, another thing always in short supply in the country is help. Many have the idea that country life is an idealized existence with a great deal of time spent gazing at sunsets and contemplating nature. Country life is great, but have no illusions about the amount of work involved. Most country people work extremely hard, often at two or three jobs just to keep things afloat economically. Sometimes one spouse works a “real” job with benefits while the other works the farm or ranch. With a never-ending list of projects, few landowners would turn down willing help. This is especially true of older landowners, who might welcome younger help willing to learn.

Most landowners actively preparing for hard times likely have a core group of family and friends already in place. An important reason they may consider adding you to their mix is that they might feel shorthanded in the event of social disruption, and so would especially welcome additional skilled help.

A landowner with hundreds or even thousands of acres, along with infrastructure, might well have property worth several million dollars on paper. Not to mention perhaps a lifetime spent working it and building it up. As could be expected, he might well be particular about who he invites to share in his hard work and foresight. But if you can be an asset to him and his family with your expertise and help, then he might be willing to make a seat available at his table.


Hand in hand with help goes infrastructure. I guarantee that any preparedness-minded landowner has ideas for a project or two or three which would add to his place’s self-sufficiency. It could be that he hasn’t had time or the specialized knowledge to pursue it. Could be that he doesn’t have the extra funds available. So if you get to the point that you’re certain you want to join forces with a rural landowner and his existing group, the magic words go something like this, “If you had your choice, what are the main projects that would add to the long-term viability of our place?” A non-grid dependent source of water, such as a solar-powered well, might be high on his list. If so, be prepared with time, effort, and perhaps dollars to follow through and help make it happen.

Making contact with strangers can be a daunting task. Preppers are by nature reserved about discussing these topics with outsiders, observing OPSEC as naturally as breathing. So where to begin?

If you want to make contact with like-minded landowners, you will have to come out of your shell to some degree.

For communication purposes, the first thing you should do is set up a yahoo or gmail account specifically for preparedness email correspondence, along with a pseudonym. Never give out your real name or location initially.

Preparedness forums are one place to post an interest in a particular area of the country. Many such forums are nationwide in scope, while others focus on particular states or regions. Homesteading or skills related forums are another place to find potential landowners. One of my best friends I initially met online on a beekeeping forum. Being a beginning beekeeper, I asked questions of an experienced poster who was less than a hundred miles away. We corresponded for awhile and he finally invited me to his place to help work his hives. After meeting, it quickly became apparent that our mutual interests extended a lot further than just bees; intensive gardening, orchards, vineyards, hunting, small livestock, and much more. He and his wife are now a trusted part of our group, and would relocate here if the balloon ever goes up.

Another possibility is to run classified ads in county newspapers, a regional livestock magazine, or the co-op magazine from the electric company in an area in which you have an interest. Or perhaps run an ad in magazines such as Countryside & Small Stock Journal or Backwoods Home. Your ad should be low-key, and might go something like this:

“Licensed electrician and Army veteran seeking alliance with landowner in rural Colorado. With current storms brewing, would like to have a potential safe harbor for myself and two dependents.”

Most likely you will have numerous contacts which don’t pan out for some reason. The hurdle may be religion, politics, geography, demographics of the group, or nothing more than a personality conflict. Don’t get discouraged, press ahead and keep your eyes open. As the old saying goes, ‘the teacher will appear when the student is ready.’

If you find someone online or through ads who appears to be a possibility, after enough correspondence that you feel the property fits your needs and you will be comfortable with the landowner and his group, set up a meeting at a neutral, public site and go from there.

I’ve found that the best way to keep from having a misunderstanding is to have an understanding to start with, so these are areas you’ll likely want to cover in depth:

Things to ask the landowner:

  • Does he own his property free and clear.
  • Does he or a member of his group live there full-time.
  • How many other people are part of his group.
  • What are their specialized skills.
  • What supplies do they require members to have.
  • Length of time their stored preps will support them.
  • Can supplies be pre-positioned.
  • How many people will his property support.
  • How is water supplied for household and food growing.
  • What infrastructure is in place for housing you and your dependents, or will you have to supply your own.
  • Are there scheduled meetings of his group for work days or training.
  • Does the group have shortcomings in areas that you or your dependents could learn, i.e. herbal medicine, cheesemaking, gunsmithing, canning, etc.
  • What can you do to help improve his property. This is a polite way of asking what he views as the weakest aspects of his place for long-term self-sufficiency.

Things the landowner will ask you:

  • Your credentials and experience in your area of expertise.
  • Supplies you have stored to practice your particular skill.
  • Number of dependents.
  • Is your spouse/significant other on board.
  • Medical issues or prescription drugs taken.
  • Amount of preps you currently have on hand.
  • Do you have a criminal record.
  • What other practical skills do you or your dependents have.

Additional things that you should discuss:

  • Who is ultimately in charge, how decisions are made.
  • Under what circumstances a bug-out occurs. What are the triggers - TEOTWAWKI or simply losing your job.
  • Who will have ownership of items you pre-position: food supplies, travel [or house] trailers, bulk propane storage tank, etc.
  • Precisely who you are allowed to bring. The landowner will likely be very specific on this point, having thought through the supply and group dynamics implications of members showing up with unannounced in-laws, friends, or co-workers.

It’s no secret that there are some real nutjobs out there, especially on the web, so exercise plenty of caution while searching. But there are lots of good, honest people too, everything from prepped landowners to complete rookies, who are trying to do nothing more than provide for their families in troubled times. And to my mind, if the storms do come, security for your family will certainly be easier and much-improved with a skilled group in a rural setting. So making the effort to find a suitable property and building trust now, before the need, only makes sense.

Some additional thoughts:

  • Never advocate or do anything illegal.
  • Be very wary of people with extreme positions on religion, politics, or race.
  • Be very wary of people who talk about nothing but firearms and ammunition.
  • Be completely honest about your capabilities, experience, and level of preparedness.
  • The majority of people are all talk and no action, don’t be one of them.

Option 2: Leasing

Leasing property is another seldom discussed retreat option. Land is leased all the time, for timber, grazing, hunting, or farming, so why not consider this alternative for a retreat?

Naturally, you probably don’t want to approach a landowner by saying you want to lease his property in case the wheels fall off of the economy. But a lease is far cheaper than buying land, usually not much more than the actual property taxes. And a lease gives you a legal right to use the land for the stated purpose.

A hunting lease is probably the simplest and most obvious choice, as a game-rich area is a big plus. A hunting lease framework and price structure likely already exists in most places, so searching for one through newspaper ads or contacting local realtors, chambers of commerce, or feed stores will raise no eyebrows.

Here in the Texas Hill Country, a hunting lease will run about $5 to $10 per acre per year, so 500 acres would lease for between $2,500 to $5,000 per year. Far cheaper than purchasing the same property, and very reasonable if divided among numerous people in a family or group.

You should make sure that the lease is structured so you have access year around, not just during hunting season. Ideally, the landowner would be absentee and not live on the property, which would give you pretty much free rein during a full scale bugout. There should be a reliable source of water, be it spring, lake, or well. Some type of accommodations would be nice, but travel trailers or campers would suffice.

It might be possible to include a lease provision so that you could move in a [CONEX] shipping container. As far as the landowner was concerned, this was to store your camping gear, four-wheelers, etc., but could also be used to store non-perishable bulky items like barrels of wheat, rice, ammo cans, etc. If such a storage option is not available, consider renting a storage unit in a nearby town to store bulky, hard to move survival items.

The down side of a lease is that you can’t improve the place like you could if you owned it. No garden plots, no solar wells, no permanent structures. But a lease also has none of the restrictions of land ownership, giving you much more flexibility. If your economic situation changes for the better, for example, or if your marital status changes for the worst. The composition of your survival group may change drastically, either getting larger or smaller. Your job or family situation may require a move halfway across the country. With a lease, no problem, but if you own the land, especially if it has a mortgage, then it could be a major headache.

Preppers should pride themselves on thinking outside the box. A paid-for and fully functional homestead is the ideal situation, but is not a realistic option for most people. So hopefully these thoughts on retreat alternatives will give you ideas for putting together a Plan B for you and yours.

JWR Adds: One other possibility is a lease option/purchase on a piece of retreat property that you'd like to buy, but that you cannot presently afford to buy outright. This is an advantageous strategy for inflationary times. If you can lock in a set purchase price now, while inflation is low, then you might have the opportunity to exercise the purchase option at later date, when inflation is rampant. (In just a few years you may have the chance to buy the property with cheap dollars.)

Hello Mr. Rawles,
A report on the political and economical impacts of Peak Oil by a think tank of the German Army was recently leaked to the Internet. It is, of course, in German. The think tank draws pretty drastic conclusions. I currently do not have the time to translate the essence of it, but this might be useful or interesting at least to your readers who are fluent in German.

Here is a summary: Bundeswehr-Studie warnt vor dramatischer Ölkrise, [also in German] by Der Spiegel.

Kind regards, - Chris K. in Germany

JWR Replies: Thanks for alerting us to that article. Here is a link to a very rough automated English translation: Bundeswehr study warns of dramatic oil crisis.

Bernanke: Fed Will Take "Unconventional Measures" If Needed. "...the Fed will consider making another large-scale purchase of securities if the slowing economy were to deteriorate significantly and signs of deflation were to flare." (A hat tip to Deborah M. for the link.)

Its Official: China is Unloading its Treasury Bonds

John Williams of ShadowStats Says Economic Data Will Get Much Worse.

Trapper Mike sent this: Ron Paul questions whether there's gold at Fort Knox, New York Fed. To clarify, part of his concern is that physical gold may indeed be stored there, but that it might actually belong to other parties!

Items from The Economatrix:

Government Set to Confirm What Many Feel: Economy at a Standstill

Stocks End a Brutal August with Meager Gains

Snapshot of an Economy About to Get a Lot Bleaker

Youth Employment Lowest Since 1948

Fed Seeks Delay of Bank Data Release

US Warned by S&P its AAA Credit Rating at Risk

Democrats Face Economic Facts: Updraft Unlikely

In 2008, shortly before the currency was effectively abandoned, the inflation rate in Zimbabwe hit a ludicrous inconceivable 897,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 percent per year. (An 89 sextillion percent inflation rate!) So now instead of Zim dollars for practical currency, they are using the South African Rand, the Botswana Pula, the British Pound Sterling and the United States Dollar for most transactions. It will be ironic, if and when the US Dollar begins to inflate. Like us, Zimbabweans may soon feel "stuck", holding withering US Dollars. OBTW, some bad news from Zimbabwe, that came to us by way of Cathy Buckle's blog: "Enter into all of this the pending compulsory 51% indigenous shareholding of companies and the waves start flooding in over the edge of the floundering boat. Last weekend the Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, threatened to close down 9,000 companies because they hadn't yet submitted indigenisation plans to his ministry. Apparently only 480 out of 9, 557 companies had put in the paperwork that effectively gives control of their companies to complete strangers."

Reader Gina A. wrote to mention that the cost of her prescriptions medicines (some of them fairly exotic) had skyrocketed in the past 18 months. She asked for some solutions. My advice? Read this book: 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care.

Carla P. notes: "I usually watch the sale papers when buying groceries. I noticed a great price at one of our stores for one of the major brands of peanut butter: $1.39. The trouble is, the jar had gone from an 18 oz. size to a 16.3 oz. size. About a 10% decrease."

SurvivalBlog reader "Booth" chided me for harping about inflation, when the government's key inflation figure--the Consumer Price Index (CPI)--is currently at just 1.94% (in figures calculated through June, 2010). The problem with the CPI is that it is so heavily manipulated that it has hardly any useful meaning. The methodologies used for calculating the CPI are fundamentally flawed. For example, it uses hedonic "adjustments" to the price measures to "allow for quality changes." For some details, see the analyses by economist John Williams (of ShadowStats) and Barry Ritholtz. In my estimation, the real rate of cost of living inflation in the US is somewhere north of 5%. And if you are saying to yourself, "Well, 5% isn't so bad", then consider the Rule of 72. At 5% currency inflation, you are robbed of half of your purchasing power every 14.4 years. So it is no wonder that so few people now keep money in banks in passbook savings accounts. Those provide a negative rate of return, when you consider the real world inflation rate. Inflation is orchestrated theft and a hidden form of taxation, plain and simple.

Reader Kevin J. mentioned this opinion piece: Looters and the lessons of Katrina. It has some typical liberal hand-wringing, but it is nonetheless a thought-provoking piece.
   o o o

D.T.D. pointed us to this interesting article: Man has lived without money since 2008. Apparently, he also swore off wearing shirts.

   o o o

Cheryl N. suggested this essay: Collapse Survival Will Be Tribal: Begin Recruiting Now

   o o o

Did you ever wonder why you might want to add a .50 BMG rifle to your battery? Watch this.

"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success, than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair." - Alexander Hamilton, a.k.a. Publius, The Federalist Papers, Number 28.

All Content on This Web Site Copyright 2005-2013 All Rights Reserved - James Wesley, Rawles -

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2010 is the previous archive.

October 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Visitor Map



counter customisable
Unique visits since July 2005. More than 300,000 unique visits per week.