March 2011 Archives

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Notes from JWR:

Until midnight on March 31st, is offering a 20% off sale, for any product. That includes the 2005-2010 SurvivalBlog Archive CD-ROM! So if you've been "thinking about it", here is your chance to save $3.99. Order now! To get the 20% discount, enter coupon code "SPLISH305", during checkout.


Today we present the final two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Sometimes I ponder what it means to be a woman in our society of hyper-consumption.  If you watch television or read today’s women’s magazines, you are led to believe that the activities most preferred by a woman are shopping, poisoning her nails, getting her hair yanked around in a salon, zapping packaged foods in the microwave, and ingesting a concoction of prescription drugs to stay sane through it all.

I tried some of these things in the past.  Each time, I was left with an utterly unfulfilled feeling and thinking, “There has to be more to being a woman than this!”  I stopped reading women’s magazines about 11 years ago and stopped watching television about five years ago.  With both of these moves, my life has changed dramatically.  I have been able to focus on the true meaning of being a woman, not the image fed to me by advertisers.  In the process, I have acquired a set of traditional womanly arts that I will never lose.  I began acquiring these skills first while living in a condo and have expanded my skills set here on my ½ acre suburban plot.

Many of these traditional womanly arts are also necessary skills during periods of austerity, and have been used by generations of women and mothers before us.  I practice them for the feeling of fulfillment I get from them, knowing that I am taking good care of my family and my land in the most healthful way.  When TSHTF, it will be necessary for us women to go back to our roots doing what our bodies, minds and hearts were designed to do.  Our primary function is to be selfless and nurture our families in a mindful way.  Succumbing to pressures from advertisers to be selfish and to consume their products does not achieve this and holds us back on so many levels.  Why spend $20 getting our nails done when we could use that money to buy a used book and a video on knitting or sewing?  Why spend $150 on getting our hair yanked around when that money could be spent more wisely on a whole library of books on gardening?  It is time to invest in ourselves as women in a real way.  Learning these womanly arts now will prove to be priceless and will help our families stay healthy when TEOTWAWKI occurs.  It will be necessary for a woman to be a “Jill-of-all-trades” and those trades do not include pushing a shopping cart, parallel parking an SUV, or operating a television remote. 

These are by no means an exhaustive list of traditional womanly arts, but they are what I love to do the most and what I have found – as a mother and wife - to be most valuable in my household:

  • Cold-process soap-making:  This is an art that has been in my family for generations.  Both of my grandmothers and the generations before them practiced this traditional womanly art.  It skipped a generation with my own mother, but I am happy to say that I have nearly mastered this skill and will pass it on to my own two daughters.  This type of soap-making involves mixing fats and lye under strict temperature conditions to produce soap.  Soaps sold today in stores are chock-full of petrochemicals, unpronounceable ingredients and fragrance additives.    Making soap at home allows me to create cost-effective, healthful bars of soap from real fats that won’t poison my family.  It is a great way to use up some of the less-desirable cuts of lard from a slaughtered pig too.  For anyone interested in learning cold-process soapmaking, I like Anne Watson's book Simple Soapmaking

  • Raising poultry for eggs and meat: I have been raising chickens for eggs and meat for awhile now, without needing any help from my husband, which frees him up to do other things.  Chickens and other poultry are simple for a woman to handle by herself, as they are relatively easy to herd and carry when necessary (unlike larger livestock like pigs, goats and cows).  They provide two very dense sources of protein: eggs and meat.  Slaughtering chickens is a task a woman can do alone as well.  I am deeply satisfied by raising healthy poultry for my family’s consumption.  I have pretty good carpentry skills, so I have been able to build coops to house my chickens, which has saved us a lot of money in that department as well (no need for a handyman or expensive pre-built coops).  YouTube is a great resource for any woman looking to learn more about this skill.  I particularly like all of Virginia farmer Joel Salatin’s videos.  He is a self-proclaimed Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist and his philosophy will intrigue you and get you thinking.  This video will get you started (and maybe even hooked on Joel Salatin!): 

  • Knitting: I find this activity to be much more relaxing and productive in the evening than watching television.   It is a better example to set for my daughters than watching television as well.  Whenever I pull out my knitting needles, my 4-year-old daughter sits right next to me with hers and pretends to knit something.  When she gets older and her dexterity is good, I will teach her this valuable, productive skill.  There are tons of videos on YouTube for beginning as well as experienced knitters.  I find a video to be much more helpful than a book when learning a new knitting skill. I really like the Cyberseams series on YouTube
  • Sewing:  Learning to sew clothes is time better spent than aimlessly wandering aisles in clothing stores and swiping credit cards.  When I produce clothes for myself and my family, I have created an heirloom that can be passed down to the next generation.  Who does that with store-bought clothes made in Chinese sweatshops?  As women, knowing how to sew also allows us to repair our worn clothing, giving it new life.  It gives our clothes meaning and allows us to express our womanly desire to craft with our hands.  I love the pieces of clothing that my mother sewed for me as a young girl, and I still have them at-the-ready for when my oldest daughter can fit into them.    Again, YouTube is a great resource to learn this skill.  A good place to start is the Puking Pastilles Learn to Sew 101 series.

  • Elbow-grease cleaning: I prefer to use good, honest elbow grease to clean my home rather than purchasing packaged, designer cleaning supplies that are toxic to my family and my earth.  A woman only needs a few ingredients to have a clean home: baking soda, vinegar, lemon essential oil, borax, soap (home-made of course!) and water.  An added benefit of this is that there is no longer a need to go shopping for a certain specialty product when it runs out.  I just buy all of my basic cleaning ingredients in bulk maybe once or twice a year.  The homemade product I use most in my household is a simple mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.  I use this to clean most of the surfaces in my home.  Advertisers want you to believe that you need a separate product for each surface of your home.  You don’t.  A great resource for both basic and fancier recipes is Annie Berthold- Bond's Better Basics for the Home.
  • Making personal care products:  This is one area in our household where we save a lot of money compared to conventional households.  I spend literally pennies and a few minutes making a whole tub of body lotion that is safe for all of us to use, even my infant daughter.  I cannot express in words how much more fulfilling it is to craft a high-quality, chemical-free batch of sunscreen in my kitchen than it is to hop into the car to buy a little tube for $12.  I do not feel cheated; instead, I feel like a goddess.  You need not spend $3 a tube for lip balm when you can make it for 3 cents.  I also make all of the deodorant, diaper rash cream, baby massage oils and hair treatments in our household.  I estimate that we have saved thousands of dollars over the years from my learning this womanly art.  Annie Bertholdt-Bond’s Better Basics for the Home is a great resource in this area, as well.
     For fancier recipes in this area, you can try Stephanie Tourle's Organic Body Care Recipes.

  • Edible gardening:  I know so many women who love to garden, but unfortunately their efforts are wasted on non-productive plants like roses and lilacs.  All that effort put towards a highly productive edible garden would be time much better spent.  It is in our DNA as women to nourish our families, and what better way than with edible gardening?  Learning this womanly skill now will prove invaluable in a SHTF situation and provides literally endless fulfillment.  I recommend The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward Smith.
    I get nearly all of my heirloom  and/or open-pollinated seeds from Baker Creek.
    For information on time-saving and work-saving perennial vegetable gardening, I highly recommend Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier.

  • Baking/cooking from scratch:  this is a skill that is strongly associated with women.  Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-consumer culture, this skill has been reduced to hopping in the car, buying a bag or box from the freezer section, and zapping it in the microwave.  I dare say that a loaf of bread baking in the oven or a slowly simmering soup made with ingredients from the garden and the coop give the home a warm coziness that is not achieved with supermarket microwaveable junk foods.  It is yet another fulfilling activity for women and can be easily passed on to future generations.  When TEOTWAWKI comes, it will be essential to be able to make use of whatever is on hand when there are no more fully-stocked grocery store shelves.  Using simple ingredients to make nutritious, delicious meals is a key skill for any woman interested in traditional arts.  I recommend Alice Waters’The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. I also love Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.

  • Natural/herbal healing:  learning which medicinal herbs to use to heal sicknesses in our families is a traditional womanly art that has been practiced by mothers for generations.  Unfortunately, it skipped my mother’s generation because of the onslaught of prescription drugs manufactured by big pharma in the last 50 years.  Sitting bedside, healing and nursing the sick is part of our genetic makeup as women.  Knowing the basics of herbal healing and when to quarantine is of utmost importance and should be part of our instincts.  This is an important skill to learn now, before a crisis situation occurs, as it takes much time to develop the confidence and knowledge to be able to apply it in a practical way.  I am by no means an expert in this vast field of ancient medicine and am constantly learning, but I find this area tremendously useful and fulfilling as a mother.  I recommend Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Home Reference Guide.

  • Lastly and perhaps the most important of all womanly skills is teaching.  In order to preserve these womanly arts for future generations, it is of utmost importance for a woman to include her daughters, nieces and/or young friends in all of these activities such that they become a way-of-life from an early age.  I have no doubt that the future holds much more austerity than what we know now.  We humans are using resources too quickly and we are not replenishing them.  Our current way of life in the U.S. is not sustainable for even another 20 years.  Teaching our daughters these skills now, while they are young and while resources are still abundant, will ensure that they have the capacity to care for their families in the hard times awaiting us. 

For good reading on the philosophy of homemaking, I recommend Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by grass-fed cattle farmer Shannon Hayes.
While not specifically aimed at women, this book dives deeply into the fulfillment that traditional domesticity offers, and it aims to drive people away from the consumerist lifestyle into a more satisfying life of production.  I believe women of all walks of life can benefit greatly from this type of reading.

Where We Were
In Kogoshima, in the southern part of Japan, residents know that when the active Sakurajima volcano finally erupts with its full force, they will most likely be killed. Some of them even know that it will be the quaking and the toxic pyroclastic flows that kill them rather than flowing lava.

Similarly, living just 15 miles from the heart of Tokyo, we have always been aware that Tokyo is past due for a major earthquake. When it hits, it will cause suffering on a scale that will make Kobe and Mexico City seem as if they got off easy. Yet, when the ground shakes, as it does fairly often, we've become complacent. Guessing how strong a quake was before the official report appears on television is one of our family games.

In Japan, you see, it's very easy to become nonchalant about disaster.

We lost our nonchalant attitude on March 11, 2011 at 2:46 p.m. Despite some intense shaking that drove my family outside for several minutes, we were, and remain, relatively untouched. Our problems are mere annoyances compared to the survivors in the northeast, but those annoyances exposed huge gaps in our disaster preparation and planning.

A few years ago, a major earthquake hit the Chuetsu region of Niigata Prefecture near where my wife is from. It caused substantial damage and shook radioactive water out of the spent-fuel storage pools at the nuclear plant in Kashiwazaki. As a result, we bought a survival kit consisting of a silver backpack, some food, some water, some non-stormproof matches, a first aid kit, a water carry bag and a small cutlery set. We added a bit more food, a bit more water, and some towels. Yet, when we ran outside during the quake, none of us thought about grabbing the emergency kit until the shaking was almost done. This was probably for the best as, although not even a single book was knocked off our apartment's shelves, the emergency kit was pre-buried under the detritus of life and school. In fact, I wasn't even sure at the time if it was in the closet or on the floor in front of the closet. If our complex had collapsed, I probably would have been caught in our first floor apartment looking for our emergency kit.

As a result, as we stood in the parking lot, we had no spare clothes, no money, no food, no way to make fire and no water. We didn't even have the keys to our car, which were hanging on the door. All we had in hand were our cellphones, which proved to be useless. During the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe, and just a few weeks ago in Christchurch, cellphones had been a literal lifesaver for some people. Yet, in Tokyo they became, as described in Rawles Precept #3, like cars stuck in traffic as everyone tried to contact their loved ones. This meant we also didn't have any means of communication.

After we went back inside, we heard news about the tsunami and the reactors at Fukushima Number 1. I tried to assess our situation. We had a couple Maglite flashlights but few spare batteries. I had two Swiss Army knives and a Gerber multi-tool, but they were scattered around and would have been inaccessible after a collapse. We had no form of portable shelter. We had food but it was all old. We had bottles of water, but no way to purify water. We had no spare clothes ready for a quick escape. We had only one way to make fire and no small pans to cook with.

Nonchalance returned, however, and we tried to settle back into a normal life. Two days later, however, with rolling blackouts scheduled, I went online to try to get supplies. Batteries and flashlights were already sold out and I felt the first chill of concern creep up my spine. Also sold out, or delayed, were the Japanese versions of MREs. I tried to order several things, including AMK Spark-Lite firestarters, stormproof matches and a proper utility knife. Oddly, despite Japan's strange laws about knives (more on that later), the knife (a SOG Trident Tanto) arrived along with a waterproof match case and a roll of faux paracord. The entire rest of the order was cancelled and I was forced to order goods from the United States.

By the time the crisis in Japan was over, I figured, I'd be ready for it.

Where We Are
Two weeks after the quake we are much better prepared for it.

There have been compounding problems: rolling blackouts have forced people to take cars when normally they'd take trains. This and damage to a major refinery have led to fuel shortages. The government continues to issue garbled information about the radiation from the reactors without providing any context, which has led to a run on bottled water. We are fortunate that my wife's family own a farm and have been able to send us vegetables, rice and other goods. Which means we are also fortunate that the post office and private delivery services are still running. That said, it is still easier to buy steak and vegetables in our area than a flashlight and batteries.

Despite the fact that our neighborhood has not, to this point, suffered a blackout, we haven't gotten complacent. We have assembled a much more robust survival kit. We have one way to purify water (Sodium chlorite) tablets with one more, Aquamira Frontier Filters, on the way. We have three ways to make fire. We've updated our food and water supplies. We have emergency blankets, more flashlights and money and spare car keys hidden away.

Also, after being forced to walk six miles when the trains were abruptly stopped after I got to work, I now have an Everyday Carry (EDC) kit. I carry medicine and bandaids; some of the faux paracord and a couple carabiners; three ways to start a fire; a couple snack bars; water; a flashlight; and a phone card as, after the cellphones crashed, the old-fashioned phone booths were suddenly back in fashion. Just in case, though, I also carry a cellphone charger.

Knife and "Sword" Legalities
I would like to carry a knife; however, this poses some interesting problems. Japan, after a series of knife attacks, expanded its ban on swords to include carrying any non-folding knife with a blade longer than 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) “without a reason”. Going fishing is considered a valid reason to carry a knife but self-defense is not. (In fact, in Japan, people defending themselves against an attack have to be careful of using excessive force or they will get in trouble as well.)  A folding knife can have a blade up to 3.15 inches (8 centimeters) but the entire knife, with the blade extended, cannot be longer than six inches (15 cm). This means my new SOG and my Swiss Army knives are classified as swords and are not street legal. For this reason, I've also acquired a Leatherman Squirt PS4 which, nonetheless, has to be carried in a backpack or bag and not in my pocket.

Where We Hope To Be
In the future, our goal is to have a proper G.O.O.D. Kit. To accomplish that, we plan to buy a new and proper backpack for our B.O.B. The current one is not designed for a family of four and is not designed to be carried long distances. Also, it is bright silver with the Japanese words for “Emergency Carry Out Bag” in bright red letters. Although the Japanese have, with a few exceptions, been very calm in this crisis, this is only because in most areas food is still plentiful. I've seen the Japanese unleashed a few times, mostly during after New Year's sales, and it's best not to have something that attracts attention.

We are looking to acquire another good folding knife, some solar charged flashlights, a portable water filter with a pump, some cooking gear and some American style MREs. Despite the lack of space in our apartment, we also plan to stock a lot more emergency food and water. We still need something to serve as a portable shelter.

More importantly, though, we are slowly developing a bug out plan. We have enough supplies in our emergency kit to get by on, but we don't yet have a plan for what we will do in the case of another large quake or an evacuation order. What will we do if we have time to gather things before we leave and what will we do if we have less than a minute? We have yet to decide several small details and this puts all our other preparations in jeopardy.

For example, one detail we've yet to resolve involves shoes. The Japanese don't wear shoes inside the house and, because we sleep on the floor on a futon, we can't put shoes under our bed. The silver bag would be good for carrying shoes in case we can't get out the front door and have to switch to Plan B. Of course, since we don't have a Plan A, we need to do some thinking. We also need to make sure our two young daughters know what to do when and if the ground starts shaking again.

Also, as a foreigner, I found myself standing outside without a passport or any other form of identification and with no way to prove my wife was my wife and my children were my children. We now plan to scan all our important documents and keep copies on a thumb drive in the emergency kit.

All in all, we are finally prepared to face a disaster. It's sad that it took a disaster to get us into a survival mindset. We were fortunate, though, that the disaster didn't effect us before we were ready.

Mr. Rawles,
There were several letters recently concerning homeschooling.  I homeschool my four children ages 3-12.  I wanted to mention two web sites that offer free downloadable products on either a weekly or daily basis. offers a free product every Monday.  You simply download the curricula from their site. The majority of offerings would be most appropriate for the elementary crowd.  We did a wonderful semester long study of rocks and geology a few years ago from material I downloaded from Currclick. offers a free product every wee day (Monday- Friday).  They offer a wide range of homeschooling helps including support materials, audio books, classic literature, and curricula.  I check these sites on a regular basis and save what is useful to me on a USB memory stick.  If I did not have access to new curricula for whatever reason I would have  lots and lots of educational material for the children.  The best part is - it's free! Best Wishes, - S.T.H.


The recent article by Brian T. regarding common TEOWAWKI misconceptions is largely true as relates to the bad boy bikers, drug addicts and such. He is particularly correct as relates to BOBs. Where will they go, and can they carry it? What will they do when and if they get there? He's accurate with regard to traffic jams and all that surrounds that subject.

What he has failed to address, however, is the broader definition of who the "golden hoards" actually are. They are actually your friends, family and unprepared next door neighbors and theirs, and theirs, and theirs. They will be the ones at your doorstep, if they know you have food and other supplies.

Can you turn them away? Will you shoot them if they won't leave? Will you risk sacrificing the lives of your family by joining the rest of the lemmings in the G.O.O.D. traffic jam? These are the big questions that need to be dealt with by those who are conditioning their minds for the realities of such events.

My personal belief is that preparation for survival in place is the only viable option that the majority have available to them. In the case of the recent Tsunami, that wasn't really a good option; but for most of the likely events, it is the only option. Do you really think that their BOBs would have saved any lives when the wave came? I doubt it, unless the bag contained scuba gear.

I write this letter for the sole purpose of bringing practical reality to the table. If you are prepared with food, water and weapons (etc, etc, etc) you are better off than not having prepared at all. It can be done easily and quickly if you are motivated to actually do it. Sadly, most are not motivated or willing. Can you be completely self sufficient? Probably not, but don't let that reality stop you from actually preparing and trying. If you do let it stop you, you do so at your own peril.

The recent article by JWR, regarding timing, is probably right on the money. Time is short. Do it now! - T.H. in Utah

Latched on to the Federal teat: A First in American History: 2011 Federal Aid Set to Overwhelm State General Funds. This is the master stroke of Federal statism. If the 50 states get more than half of their revenue from the Federal government, there is no way that they can forcefully insist on 10 Amendment rights.

The U.S. Mint has set April 4th as the deadline for public comment on new metallic compositions for U.S. coins. Clearly, the days are numbered for U.S. 5 cent pieces ("Nickels") that are 25% nickel and 75% copper. Stock up!

Pierre M. mentioned this op-ed piece by Neil Barofsky: Where the Bailout Went Wrong

Items from The Economatrix:

Home Price Declines Deepen in Major US Markets  

Stocks Gains as Confidence Falls Less than Expected  

Inflation Worries Push Consumer Confidence Lower  

Silver Price Suppression:  How, Why, and Effect  

The Silver Perspective  

Deep Shallow Schumer Schemes: Schumer coordinates Democrat budget attack on GOP

   o o o

Nanny State Europa: EU to Ban Gas-Powered Cars in Cities by 2050. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

   o o o

Steve S. sent a link to this fun video: John Moses Browning Model 1911 -- 100th Anniversary

   o o o

Yet another reason to relocate to the boonies, from this blog post: Farmstand Canceled Due to… the City of Oakland. A $2,500 conditional use permit, just to grow a big garden?

   o o o

Sam K. found a fascinating pair of maps that are useful in identifying truly remote areas: All Streets in the Conterminous United States and Average Distance to the Nearest Road in the Conterminous United States. Notice how the latter corresponds to my American Redoubt concept and my Recommended Retreat Areas page?

"Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once."  - Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act II, Scene II

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Predictions are like, well, you know what, everybody has at least one.  Many or most predictions made are wrong and the content here is no exception.  I am not a modern day Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone but I have spent a few days in the woods, and hopefully after reading this you will not think I am still lost in them.  I did not fight in any war but had my share of the military experience and the same can be said for law enforcement.  I never bugged out but did backpack and still am a gym rat who tries to do his time on the treadmill although I hate cardiovascular exercise despite knowing it is good for me.

My present employment deals mostly with determining the penalty and hopefully rehabilitation of recently unemployed prescription drug addicts in Appalachia.  By the time they get to my shop most have literally lost everything, car, home, sometimes family, because they spend every cent they earn, and more, as soon as they get it – paycheck to paycheck and sadly pill to pill.  Their stories typically excuse their plight by blaming everyone else and rationalizing what they did as a “had to” by outside forces. Criminal records are not uncommon.  Here’s the point: I see what desperate people do and do not do when they are out of options. Contrary to what you may think most of them do nothing at all, they just shut down waiting for the “somebody else” to help them. Based upon these experiences, I propose that a few common predictions regarding TEOTWAWKI are misconceived.  There are doubtlessly more, who’s to say, but here are seven.

Misconception number one: You are going to bug out by vehicle using some combination of car, truck or recreational vehicle (RV).  Wrong, it takes only one careless, sleepy, drugged or drunk driver to shut down any given road.  On a normal day an overturned truck or a car or two crashing effectively closes the road for half a day.  Given some major and unexpected event motivating folks to flee for the hills the interstates and minor roads will be impassible – all of them.  There are no secret roads, if you know about them so do many others.  Many hold plans of leaving “before”. When is before, how do you know and what if you are wrong? How many “Chicken Little” events will your employer tolerate? Generally speaking the odds of a sudden catastrophic event are lower than a cascade of smaller inconspicuous events ending ultimately in the need to bug out or get home. Odds are once you are sure it is time you can count on walking or maybe biking, motorized or otherwise because the masses will be in one huge traffic jam by that point.

Misconception number two: Related to the first, that you are fit enough to walk carrying the stuff you think you need.  How far is it from the stops on your daily routine to your home or refuge?  It is reality check time; when was the last time you walked five miles?  Or even walked one mile? If it was not recent then you will be in for a rude awakening if and when that eventuality occurs.  Honestly, could you walk for days? Could you do so with a heavy Bug Out Bag (BOB)?  Most Americans are so badly out of shape the prospect of walking any distance is impossible. Get off the couch and go for a walk, and do so often. Maybe even carry your get home bag a bit?

Misconception number three:  Related to the second, your Bug Out Bag is probably too heavy.  The weight of BOB, judging by the long lists of stuff that many say they intend to carry exceeds fifty pounds.  Once you start walking with a heavy pack you will begin discarding most of those things you thought you “had to” have, the two pound stove, the three pound tent, the camp pad, the cute little folding shovel that weighs two pounds, three pound Rambo knife, large rope, extra clothes and so on.  How do we know, because that is what you see along the side of the uphill section of path at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail.  It looks like a yard sale.  What is not seen are matches, small knifes, water filters, light weight tarps, and freeze dried foods, and other things that are either essential or are both light weight and have multiple uses.  Consider seriously the weight of your BOB, or perhaps plan on using a shopping cart, if any are left, or pulling a child’s wagon if you “need” all your stuff. Are you in shape enough to do that? How do you know? Put on that pack and give it a dry run, or excuse me, dry walk.

Misconception number four:  Roving criminal hordes will come from the urban environment to your rural home or Bug Out Location (BOL).  Nope, these people do not play chess or even checkers; they do not plan ahead much at all.  Criminals, with few exceptions are lazy.  And many are on drugs.  Yes, a few will flee at the very beginning if they have a specific refuge in mind, the uncle with the farm, but most will not leave their familiar comfortable environment.  Even if they have an operational vehicle capable of the trip it is likely to be low on fuel, particularly these days.  They will burn up what little fuel they have driving around their usual haunts, to the liquor and drug stores, then to the convenience or grocery store like they did before the event until their tank is empty.  Walking or biking to save fuel will never cross their mind. No gas means no travel for this group.  There will be rare exceptions.

Misconception number five:  Needy hungry hordes will come from town.  Not likely, when local resources (read: booze and junk food), and the aid from whatever governmental response is exhausted they will do nothing.  By nothing I mean nothing that need concern you. They will sit in a refugee center or at home and pass the time playing cards, talking but essentially just waiting. Certainly the burning and looting that started seconds after the beginning of the event will increase until there is nothing left to burn or steal.  When food and clean bedding all run out they are not likely to walk out of town any more then than before. They are weaker by that time and as out of shape as most of us. They have rarely walked any distance at all in their adult lives and are unlikely to start now. The biggest reason is that they are psychologically predisposed, brainwashed, to wait for rescue and will stay in town.  It is easier to wait and thus easier to make hunger somebody else’s problem. With no gas and no desire to do any tiresome walking means you are not going to see many if any at your BOL.  Most will sit and if they move at all they will head for another urban area rumored to be better, particularly if they are being trucked there by the National Guard or other entity.  Aside from that with emergency response overwhelmed, weather conditions aside, the roads will be effectively impassible for days or weeks, long enough for the bad guys to consume any means of coming your way.   

Misconception number six: You can live off the land.  No, you will not for long.  There are tens of thousands with that plan.  Any resource will be quickly consumed, from the deer down to the neighbor’s dog and cat, just after they eat the pet food.  Ditto for fire wood, and other flammable materials.  We do not live in the land of seemingly endless resources and few people like generations ago; we actually live in a potential Easter Island like situation - one overpopulated and thus soon stripped of everything nearby. Our accustomed lifestyle is sustained by amazing logistics and high energy use.  Nearly everything comes from somewhere else, and when that elsewhere cannot ship or pipe or haul here for whatever reason the view from your window will quickly look barren.  The heirloom seeds you have will be priceless and stored food more so.

Misconception number seven:  You can defend your castle.  There are many whose survival plan is simple, get guns and murder for food.  If you have food then you are a potential victim. As noted above, there are exceptions to the general lack of planning in criminals; some dangerous few are leaders, strategic, tactically savvy, smart, determined and resourceful.  Finding a sidekick will be easy for them, there will be plenty of followers around. They only need to get lucky once; you have to be lucky every time you encounter one, or two, at a time.  Your inconspicuousness and insuring their inconvenience in finding you will serve you well. In this circumstance a fight you avoid goes in the win column.

We wrongly think exclusively in terms of the entertaining fictional scenarios in the many books with a “what if” beginning to the detriment of other and perhaps more likely possibilities.  While useful thought provoking exercises, those stories often substitute for an honest nitty-gritty evaluation of our own strategy and ability and the likely behavior of others. In one sentence it is this: In a crisis, do not plan on doing things you have never done and do not plan on other people’s behavior to change, neither one is very likely.

I’ve been in law enforcement for the past 18 years.  I have attended a variety of training over those years.  During the 1990s, most training I attended was community-oriented, sponsored by local agencies or private companies specializing in police training.  Themes common to training of the past included topics such as Constitutional rights, community partnerships, youth-oriented programs and problem-oriented policing.

During the past several years, I have witnessed a dramatic shift in the focus of law enforcement training.  Law enforcement courses have moved away from a local community focus to a federally dominated model of complete social control.  Most training I have attended over the past two years have been sponsored by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), namely the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

No matter what topic the training session concerns, every DHS sponsored course I have attended over the past few years never fails to branch off into warnings about potential domestic terrorists in the community.  While this may sound like a valid officer and community safety issue, you may be disturbed to learn how our Federal government describes a typical domestic terrorist.

These federal trainers describe the dangers of “extremists” and “militia groups” roaming the community and hiding in plain sight, ready to attack.  Officers are instructed how to recognize these domestic terrorists by their behavior, views and common characteristics.  State data bases are kept to track suspected domestic terrorists and officers are instructed on reporting procedures to state and federal agencies.  The state I work in, like many others, have what is known as a “fusion center” that compiles a watch list of suspicious people.

So how does a person qualify as a potential domestic terrorist?  Based on the training I have attended, here are characteristics that qualify:

  • Expressions of libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers)
  • Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership, holding a CCW permit)
  • Survivalist literature (fictional books such as "Patriots" and "One Second After" are mentioned by name)
  • Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)
  • Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)
  • Religious views concerning the book of Revelation (apocalypse, anti-Christ)
  • Expressed fears of Big Brother or big government
  • Homeschooling
  • Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties
  • Belief in a New World Order conspiracy

A recent training session I attended encouraged law enforcement agencies to work with business owners to alert police when customers appear to be stockpiling items.  An example was given that a federal agent was monitoring customers at a well known hunting and fishing retail outlet and noting who was purchasing certain items.  This is something to remember the next time you purchase a case of ammo at one of these popular outdoor sports retail stores.

Methods of developing evidence of terrorist activity from virtually any search have also been discussed.  Various common materials which may be associated with homemade explosives are listed, such as lengths of pipe, gunpowder, matches, flammable liquids and fireworks.  Officers are told when these items are found, they can be listed as “bomb making materials”.  The training even goes so far as to instruct officers that the items are cleverly disguised as legitimate, such as gasoline stored near a lawn mower, pipes stored in a shop building or gunpowder stored with reloading materials.

One course I attended used the example of a person employed as a plumber being the target of a search warrant.  In this example, the officers were told how to use his employment as a plumber as further evidence of terrorism.  The suspect’s employment would be described as an elaborate scheme to justify possessing pipes and chemicals so as to have bomb making materials readily available.  Based on this example, all plumbers are potential pipe bomb makers.  All gun dealers are plotting to provide arms to gangs or terrorists.  All pest control companies are preparing mass poisonings.  By using this logic, simply having the ability to do something criminal automatically makes the person guilty of plotting the crime.  With all the various methods of manufacturing methamphetamine, it would also be easy to claim that a disassembled clandestine drug lab was located during the search.   In other words, it is easy to frame anyone for possessing bomb making materials (or other crimes) if the officer knows what items to list in the report and how to link these items to terrorism.

Another common tactic used in DHS sponsored training is the slander of certain ideologies by linking an erroneous characteristic to a particular group. Here are some examples:

  • These groups hold the anniversaries of certain dates as significant such a Ruby Ridge, Waco and Hitler’s birthday
  • They oppose abortion, support gun rights and are affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan
  • They are fearful of big government, espouse support for the Constitution and want to kill police officers
  • These groups collect firearms, survivalist books and explosives
  • These extremists read books such as Patriots, One Second After and The Anarchist Cookbook
  • They are religious zealots, reading the book of Revelation, speak of the second coming of Christ and plan mass murders to summon the end of the world
  • These people grow their own food, raise livestock and plot attacks on commercial food production facilities

Do you see how this tactic works?  List common characteristics of libertarian/conservative minded people, then throw in a slanderous accusation.  If A and B apply, then you should automatically presume C applies as well.  If they were disturbed by the incidents at Ruby Ridge and Waco, then obviously they must celebrate Hitler’s birthday.  Officers are being conditioned to assume criminal and terroristic views when politically-incorrect views are observed.  As simple-minded and ridiculous as this line of thinking is, there are some officers who unfortunately buy into this.

Another training session I attended two years ago discussed the dangerous of people who have strong views of the U.S. Constitution.  One trainer made the statement that “these people actually believe the Second Amendment gives them the personal right to own a gun.”  Of course, the trainer failed to mention that our Founding Fathers, as well as recent Supreme Court rulings, verify this view as being completely accurate.  The obvious attempt here was to suggest to officers that the Second Amendment does not apply to individual gun ownership and to be suspicious of anyone who holds such a view.  It was also stressed to be cautious of anyone who quotes the Constitution and even worse, actually possesses a copy of this radical document.  Incredibly, in the United States of America today belief in our founding legal principles is now grounds for being labeled a domestic terrorism.  Imagine how they would respond to some of the known statements of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry or George Mason concerning the issue of individual liberty and limited government.  It is true that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

There are several things that we, the patriotic, self-sufficient defenders of liberty can do to counter this effort.  First, get involved in local elections.  Elect county sheriffs who will not fall for such propaganda nor go along with oppressive federal agendas.  Elect city council members who will not tolerate such behavior by their city police department.  Elect state representatives who will hold state agencies accountable for participating in such tactics.  Bring these issues up during elections, demand a public statement on their position on such propaganda and a promise to stand against these efforts while in office.

Second, get to know your local law enforcement officers.  It is much more difficult for DHS to brainwash officers against people they personally know.  When you are viewed as a neighbor, friend or fellow Christian, these officers are far less likely to submit your name to a terrorist watch list or view you as a potential terrorist.  We want local officers to be personally offended when they hear members of their community slandered in such ways.

Third, always be friendly and courteous when speaking to your local officers.  Even if that officer has fallen for this propaganda, be sure not to resemble the negative stereotypes labeled to us.  After the fifth, sixth or maybe tenth time he deals with one of us, he or she may come to realize we are of no threat to law enforcement or anyone for that matter.  Eventually, the officer may attend one of these training sessions, hear the propaganda and say to himself, “This isn’t true, I’ve dealt with many people like this, they are God-fearing, liberty loving Americans, they are not the enemy!”

I hope you find this information useful.  Please remember that there are many people in law enforcement that have not, and will never, fall for DHS propaganda.  Some of the most patriotic defenders of liberty and believers in self-sufficiency can be found in law enforcement.  Officers like me will continue to do our part to fight tyranny from within while the general public can do its part by electing liberty-minded candidates to office and educating their friends and neighbors about issues important to all of us.

Mr Rawles,  
I am very glad to hear your facts, comments and Godly encouragement and read the many articles on your site regularly. Thank you for standing in the gap and for your ministry in general.  

Would you help us understand your reasoning for recommending eastern Oregon? My husband and I have looked and looked at eastern Oregon to move to or at least buy a piece of land to relocate to in a G.O.O.D. "bad to worse" scenario. We currently are on the liberal side of the Cascades in Oregon because of my husband's work. The problem we have found with eastern Oregon is the real lack of dirt and water. How on earth would we ever be able to grow enough food in "gravel"? Or ever have enough water to be "self sufficient"? Or any cover of trees to hide our ventures? I know you are a very busy man, but we trust your wisdom and if you have any articles or suggestions on how to do these things we would love to hear them. Really we would, I am not being sarcastic. The land in eastern Oregon is much more affordable for us. We earnestly serve the Lord, have four children, homeschool and one income.     Thank you again for serving the Kingdom.   Many blessings, - K.H.

JWR Replies: I really like the low population density and conservatism of eastern Oregon.  I would much rather live in a semi-arid region than live west of the Cascades, even if it means hauling in top soil and building a greenhouse. Most of the western counties in Oregon have California-style politics, too much rain, crime, high property taxes, traffic, restrictive zoning ordinances, and insanely expensive building permits.

There is a surprising amount of timber in eastern Oregon, but most of it is in the upper elevations. But I recommend looking for land in the lower river valleys.

Just be sure to pick a piece of land with plentiful water.  They are scarce, but you can find properties with springs or that have frontage on rivers or year-round creeks.  Pray and search diligently.  Trust in God's providence for that perfect piece of land.

See my Recommended Retreat Areas static page, and the maps in my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation") for some details on the portions of Oregon that I recommend.

Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags. “As an expected increase in the cost of raw materials looms for late summer, consumers are beginning to encounter shrinking food packages.” (Thanks to C.D.V. for the link.)

Yuri L. suggested this, over at Frugal Dad: Nine Ways to Prepare for Food Inflation

Reader Tony B. sent this: No One Cries for Argentina Embracing 25% Inflation as Fernandez Leads Boom

Wow That Was Fast! Libyan Rebels Have Already Established A New Central Bank Of Libya

Items from The Economatrix:

Gerald Celente & Lew Rockwell:  Gold, Guns and Getaway Plans  

Salivating at the Upside Potential of the Gold Market  

15 Indications that Bad Times Are About to Hit the U.S. Economy  

Until midnight on March 31st, is offering a 20% off sale, for any product. That includes the 2005-2010 SurvivalBlog Archive CD-ROM! So if you've been delaying, here is your chance to save a couple of bucks. Order now! To get the 20% discount, enter coupon code "SPLISH305", during checkout.

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M.E.W. suggested this from the left-of-center Mother Jones magazine: Survivalist GOP Rep.: You Should Probably Avoid Cities. (Republican congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland shows off his preps.)

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Pierre M. sent this: The Bronx Zoo’s Statement About the Missing Cobra, with Sentences Reordered From Most Comforting to Most Frightening. (Well, at least she wasn't gravid!)

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We are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, Mayflower Trading Company. They have a diverse product line including some unusual items like micro-hydro DC power generators. Their on-line catalog also features Maple Leaf brand storage foods and do-it-yourself food storage products like pressure canners.

"Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide." - John Adams

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I've had great difficulty figuring out how to approach writing this submission. Initial versions came out a bit prideful and preachy. In the end it's usually best just to stick to the facts. So here's the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'll let you interpret it yourself.

Please note that this submission comes to you from Australia, so (as y'all say) “your own mileage may vary”. Furthermore, I understand that this is not a survival "silver bullet". It is intended as a temporary solution for those of us doing the best we can with what we've got.

Roughly 36 weeks ago my family and I were living in the suburbs of a city housing over a million people. Our landlord wanted even more money than the already ridiculous amount we were paying. We'd suffered through the worst summer in memory (which barely edged out the last one and the one before that). We had water restrictions, power grid failures, and the buffoon in charge of it all was bragging that by 2020 our population would be up by another half a million. In short, we decided that the time to Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) was now. But how? We couldn't afford to buy a retreat property outright. In fact, we weren't even in a financial position to acquire a mortgage.

We looked at our options. Staying in our home state was out of the question. It ticked just about zero boxes for TEOTWAWKI survival. We considered dozens of factors, and from the short list went with the one that felt right for us. Tasmania. (I know there's a big empty spot in the middle of our country, but it's empty for a reason. Trust me!)

We talked to our family and friends about it. The consensus was uniform. We were crazy. Regardless, many were still supportive and this was a major factor in our successful relocation.

Problem one was getting jobs. We needed employment from the time we arrived or no house rental agency would give us the time of day. Fortunately nurses were in strong demand and my wife had recently attained her nursing degree. She was offered a job with a large hospital and we began applying for rental properties.

Well... being that we were so far away, most of them still didn't want to touch us with a ten foot pole. In the end we had to find the cheapest places available and offer to pay three months rent in advance. That made the agents sit up and take notice! We got two offers immediately (both very rural) and in hindsight we chose the wrong one. This brings me to my first piece of advice. Beware of false economy. We chose the cheaper house but since it was an extra 15 miles out of town we ended up paying much more in petrol than we saved in rent. Expect a lot of trips to and from town in your first six months!

Back to the planning. We had a place to go to, but now we had to get there. We'd already moved out of our old house and were staying with my wife's parents. We'd also gotten rid of a good 50% of our stuff and were selling or donating anything that wouldn't fit into two cars and a trailer. Easier said than done! We planned the trip in great detail, but nothing ever goes quite according to plan. We lost a half day of packing prior to lift-off because when we went to pick up our hire trailer the clerk had every trailer connection imaginable except for the one that we needed. The frustrating part was that our tow car was only five years old and had the most common of connectors. It was many a pensive hour before the trailer maintenance man arrived with a “spare” connector, however, this was just an appetiser for that evening. We packed, repacked and by 9 pm (T-minus 7 hours) had crammed everything except ourselves into what space we had available. We were about to settle in for a stressful nights sleep before the 4 am start when a voice inside my head said to me “you really should make sure you know where all the car keys are... just in case”. Sometimes you get that voice in your head that sounds different than your normal inner monologue, and whatever it has to say is usually important, so naturally I froze in terror. Lo and behold, the hatchback key was missing. What's more, it was blocking the exit and the column lock was engaged. It was going nowhere. The house was turned inside out. The cars were ransacked. Meanwhile I called every after hours locksmith I could find in the yellow pages. The three responses I got was “not available”, “can't be done in the dark”, and “it'll cost you $900”. After we'd partially disassembled the steering column in a fit of desperation we got a call back from a fourth locksmith who promptly arrived and cut us a key on the spot for $200. It was a costly reminder to always have another key handy. By the time we repacked the cars it was midnight and we were too stressed to sleep anyway.

Our lack of sleep made the following 14 hour drive very unpleasant. We thought we'd given ourselves plenty of time to get to the Bass Strait ferry in Port Melbourne but we somehow arrived there with only a half hour to spare. The GPS had a hand in this. I should have updated it or (better yet) bought current maps. We realised the next day that a single flat tire would have seen us miss the ferry and lose our non-refundable tickets (and before anyone says “I can change a tire in less than half an hour, remember, we'd have to unpack the car to get to the spare and repack it afterward). Another piece of advice. If you're ever covering a trailer with a tarpaulin in windy/rainy conditions, invest in a cargo net to hold down the tarp. Our tarp resembled a bunch of knotted blue ribbons by the time we arrived, and because it poured with rain our belongings were thusly soaked.

The ferry trip was rough but I slept like a baby. My wife and her father were another story. By the time we'd exited the ferry and driven another two hours they both looked like zombies. Amusing in hindsight, but imagine traveling to your retreat after the SHTF and having to scan constantly for ambushes, road blocks etc. Under those conditions a mere hour of driving would be utterly exhausting. Preparing S.O.P.s for driver rotation if you have to travel post TEOTWAWKI is prudent.

Miraculously we made it to the rental agent's office with thirty minutes to spare, despite the GPS and the weather. Remember, your GPS probably doesn't have settings for “it's raining, I'm tired, and I have a trailer weight that exceeded my braking capacity as soon as the road got wet.”. My GPS tried to take me down some pretty steep goat tracks, and one narrow road that had recently (read: since I bought the GPS) been turned into a dead end street. An annoyance now, but a death trap during Schumeresque times. Seriously... Get maps!

Twenty more miles later we arrived. It was a cheap little cottage/shack on a large block in a town of 200. The local river was a stones throw away if your arm was any good, and on the other side was woodland. To say it was modest would be putting it mildly, but to us it was a mansion. #(As a side note: we now refer to this trip as “the pilgrimage”, and it's given us a newfound respect for the men and women who struck out into the unknown when there were no maps, roads, or really much of anything to assist their journey. They were truly made of sterner stuff.)

We bought some overpriced wood at the local store and gleefully put our wood fire heater to use (what a novelty)! It didn't take us long to realise how much wood you can go through, especially when your house is poorly designed and insulated. Remember that other house I told you about? It was far more modern than this one and would have been much easier/cheaper to heat. Another false economy! At any rate, we got settled in and my wife began doing her 3 hour round trips to work while I looked for work in the area. The first month was a real eye opener. We expected to learn as we went along, but... well what can I say. As country living goes, we were greener than grass. We ran out of things constantly. Not for want of money but for want of foresight. It was a one hour round trip to the nearest supermarket which wasn't exactly open 24 hours a day. It meant that if we forgot to buy milk, then our cornflakes were eaten dry and our coffee was served black (the horror)! It was a crash course in stocking up and a valuable one at that. Travel time was another oversight. It just adds up and up and up, along with your petrol bill. It can wear you down quickly when you're not used to it. The local school was not far from that supermarket I mentioned earlier. That means our boy's schooling equated to two hours of driving per day Monday to Friday (home schooling was looking better and better).

By the end of the first month I'd secured part time work. The pay rate was very low and it was shovel and barrow work but it's key importance was that it provided a foot in the door to get some local references. The first week revealed just how soft I really was (though thankfully not as soft as most of the other workers). Previously I'd done plenty of hands-on work in my spare time but labouring all day was a different matter. If you're planning on becoming a post TEOTWAWKI farmer then I hope you're in very good shape. I gained 5 kilos in as many months (not of fat either) and every meal seemed to gravitate toward meat, meat and more meat. It also demonstrated to me the worth of good tools. On my work site we've replaced so many cheap tools that we'd have been financially better off buying good ones from the start, to say nothing of the time and work efficiency lost. Post TEOTWAWKI you wont have the option of buying another cheap shovel or pick. How many flat screen televisions would you have to trade for a Fiskars brand splitter or axe? I digress.

At the end of the first month we were blessed with the news that our second child was on the way. The previous nine months were fruitless in this regard, yet perhaps if we'd been successful before the move we might never have undertaken it in the first place. What came next was less fortunate. A mystery blood condition caused my wife to suffer a massive clot in her brain. Doctors were slow to diagnose it, and by the time they did it required urgent and lengthy hospitalisation. It was so large she was considered lucky to have survived it.

We were all emotional wrecks. My daily routine consisted of getting our boy to school, going to work, picking up our boy from school, visiting my wife for as long as I could and getting home to clean up and prepare for the next day. Nine hours of work (home-making included) and four of driving wasn't the exhausting part. Living with the fact that every day might have been the last day I would hug my wife simply crippled me like nothing I'd previously experienced, and as I write this I understand how survival scenarios can break someone down, even if they have the beans, bullets and band-aids they need to survive.

Thankfully, our family arrived like the proverbial cavalry to help with basic day to day tasks. We also found out what financial hardship was really like. We went to the wall and only got by with more help from our family. The lessons for us were; If you can retreat to an area where you have family then it would be a wise choice. You just cannot predict life's ups and downs. Family are like the shock absorbers of life. In fact, one of the main reasons we left the city was so they could turn to US in times of great need. We ate humble pie on that one but hopefully in time we can repay them. Lesson two was a double dose of a previous lesson. Travel time is a burden not to be underestimated. Moving an hour out of town to start with would be much wiser than an hour and a half. It can make a huge difference by the end of the week. Lesson three? Hope for the best but plan for the worst. The last thing we anticipated was losing our primary source of income. It was a mix of equal parts diligence and dumb luck that I even had a job by that stage (jobs here are scarce and getting scarcer). I wont tell you to get rid of your debts because it's far easier said than done. Downgrading your car for something more affordable? That's realistic. Do you really, really need that huge flat screen television? Sell it! Suddenly you have a monetary buffer for bad times. Keep it secure, or better yet, pay out expenses like food (storable food) and firewood in advance once you're there. It's better than money in the bank.

During that five months we struggled greatly yet, surrounded by trees, wildlife and good people, we never regretted our decision. Even our family members who shared our burden agreed that we'd done the right thing. They're a stubborn lot but I sense that even they are beginning to smell the economic smoke. After our 6 month lease was up we applied to rent a place a little closer to the city (but not much closer). We're now in a much nicer house that costs more to rent, but it's proximity to my job, our boy's school, doctors clinic, chemist and supermarket (if needed) combined with its superior build (heat retention, solar hot water etc.) more than make up for the difference. We're still an hour away from the nearest city (which is really more like an overgrown suburb) but we're still in a far better position than we were nine months ago living in a suburban sprawl. Having read this you may be thinking “the heck with that” but I'll list some of the benefits we've gained while struggling with the hardships:

• The tap water tastes “proper”. i.e. Not like watered down chemicals.

• The air is fresh. In fact, I can barely tolerate city air anymore.

• My boy can ride his bike down the street without us worrying.

• There are no gangs or dealers. They wouldn't last five minutes ;)

• Nobody here jumps out of their skin at the sight of a gun, law enforcement included.

• Locals sell fresh grown fruit and vegetables at lower than store prices. The taste (and nutrition I'd wager) is also superior.

• The local butcher sells meat that's actually fresh.

• Growing food in your back yard is perfectly commonplace.

• Imagine putting aside your Bugout Bag to focus on your Get Home Bag.

• Good picnic, camping, hunting and fishing sites are not far at all.

• There are tons of people that can teach almost any survival skill you want to know.

• Television reception is terrible. • The local work is likely more in line with what you'll be doing post Schumer.

• Saving money is easier when the nearest fast food outlet is a two hour round trip away.

• Farm auctions and country garage sales are prepper heaven.

• You wont feel out of place driving a beat up, old (read: EMP resistant) pickup/ute.

• When you have the means to pick out a retreat property it'll be easier to scout for a good one.

• No incessant background noise means you can actually hear yourself think. It makes planning and focusing your thoughts a lot easier.

• You're not being constantly bombarded with advertising telling you to buy things you don't need.

Most importantly, you'll be integrating yourself into a group of people that will be able to support each other when times get bad. Am I squared away? Heck no. In fact, I'm barely more equipped (logistically) than I was before the move. Yet I rate my survivability as an order of magnitude higher than it was when I lived in the periphery of a large(ish) city.

Now, here's some stuff that I learned (some of it the hard way):

• Check whether your mobile phone service provider has coverage for the area you're moving to, and check your phone has a strong enough signal for that matter. A new phone or provider will be easier to arrange before the move.

• Ditto for internet service providers, assuming you still want to read SurvivalBlog. Personally I'm still catching up on the August to December archives by way of the local online centre (not OPSEC Optimal, I know.)

• Budget for firewood as applicable. I recommend you steer clear of the idea that bringing a chainsaw and a block splitter will allow you to slip seamlessly into “mountain man mode”. Unless you really know what you're doing your wood supply will deplete faster than you can replace it. When I arrived there was an article in the paper about a life long forester who'd just killed himself felling a dying tree that threatened nearby power poles. He was a professional and reportedly one of the best. Doubt you can kill or injure yourself, even cutting up fallen timber? Watch the television series “Axe Men”. It will give you respect for the factors involved.

• Be realistic about the place you rent. Out here the rent on a 600 square yard block and a 20 acre hobby farm is not much different, but you're not bringing a ride on mower or a flock of sheep with you, right? 20 Acres might seem great, but check with the owner/agent where your maintenance responsibilities end and theirs begin.

• Play friendly with your landlord, even if it means biting your tongue once in a while. There are only two rental agencies where we are so if you burn your bridges then your future options will be severely limited.

• You will be asked why on earth you moved to the boring old country (it's a trick question). There's no need to start quoting Mel Tappan. Just tell the inquirer that you want a safe, clean place for your kids to grow up. They will smile, nod, and leave it at that.

• Mind your manners, especially on the road. My car is common in the city, but out here it's unique within a 40 mile radius. You will be recognised and remembered by your conduct so it must be spotless 24/7.

• Buy those maps! If you need directions the gas station attendant won't go near your GPS, and you don't want to mess about with all that “take a left, then a right” nonsense. What would you do if the main road washes out in a flood? Many of the roads out here are not on any database. Likewise, some of the roads that are on the database are actually privately owned (my GPS didn't understand the concept of “trespassing”) so get maps, and be prepared to alter them accordingly.

• Ditch your fancy “sort of 4WD” before you move to the country. If you can find an old 4X4 pickup in the city where nobody wants one then you'll probably get it cheaper. Country folk seem to drive their vehicles 'till they've pretty much returned to the earth. Not many used vehicles for sale out here at all... Of course, be mindful of any potential registration pitfalls. Here in Australia, for a car to be re-registered in a new state it typically has to pass a roadworthiness inspection.

• You might find yourself falling in with other recent city leavers looking for that “tree change”. Don't! If you hear someone say “I've never gotten along with the people here” or something to that effect then politely excuse yourself and avoid them as a rule.

• Attend the local firing range (or similar) even if you don't have a gun yet. Despite the average 20 year age difference between me and the locals there they really spoke my (our) language and offered plenty of advice and assistance. This is especially important in states/countries with vague and confusing firearms legislation. Also, these are the guys that will be heading up the “neighbourhood watch on steroids” post Schumer, and they'll be more than a little wary of a relative stranger turning up to the party heavily armed and outfitted.

• Join the local church if applicable. If the bomb drops tomorrow and you're not squared away then you'll be on the soup line with everyone else. I'd rather be the guy spooning out the soup than the guy at the end of the line. Also, churches are often the nexus of the local underground economy. Just mention that you need work, or firewood, or a cheap sofa and the word will go out on your behalf. Of course it's expected that you pass on these charitable efforts to the next person in need, but that's like me telling you that water is wet.

So how can I sum it up. a) If you desire a retreat property in your current state then keep your city job and move as far in the direction of your imaginary retreat as your finances and time considerations will allow you to commute. or b) If your state is likely to become a meat grinder after TSHTF then act now! Apply for jobs in another state, remembering the three D's. Dirty, Dangerous or Dull. Take the pay cut if you have to. Maybe you can apply for jobs with a large store chain that will be willing to shuffle you to another store location as soon as you can make up a believable excuse for your move. In either case, once you're an hour or so out of the nearest city (make it as small a city as possible) you can look for work locally. Then, once you've got that local work then you can move even farther out. BTW, just to be clear, “an hour out of the city” means an hour of travel beyond where the houses have given way to trees or pasture.

“But nobody out in the country will employ me”, I hear you say. That depends entirely on your outlook. As times get tougher out here in the country a lot of people are doing the opposite of what the average SurvivalBlog reader is trying to do. They're moving to the city where they can find higher paying jobs! They don't want to downsize their living arrangements so they're going where the money is. That's why half my weekends are spent at garage sales. There are jobs to be had out here but there's a proviso: You have to want it more than the next guy! I got a job, partly by luck in coming across the advertisement just in time, but also because when I turned up for the interview they could tell just by looking at me that I was dead serious about my application. I wanted the job, and what's more, I would work hard to keep it. Six months later my references now speak for themselves and in a place where everyone knows everyone else, references are everything. I'm no superman, so if I did it, then you can too! You just have to want it bad enough.

So clearly I'm not that guy with a hundred acres of farmland and a concrete bunker with a bunch of armour piercing rifles and heat seeking bullets (kidding). A year ago I found SurvivalBlog and I felt like I'd arrived at the party too late. Then I remembered the old saying; “You don't have to outrun the lion. You just have to run faster than the other guy!” If you really pulled out the stops. If you quit letting excuses hold you back. If you stop waiting to win the lottery and start making some hard decisions, how long would it take for “home” to be at least an hours drive away from Schumer ground zero? When I lived in the city I always felt like my preps were completely inadequate, and always would be. Like I was using a shot glass to bail water out of a sinking boat. In my new location my prepping is beginning to move under it's own momentum because out here preppers fit in rather than stand out. I don't feel out of place buying 20 cans of corn when it's on special because the person in line behind me is doing exactly the same thing. How can I put it other than to say that I am becoming one with my inner survivalist and more importantly my family is too. So promise your wife a massive flower garden (or you husband a workshop). Promise your daughter a pony and your son a quad. Do whatever you have to in order to get them on board and G.O.O.D. so that in nine months time you can write a submission telling the new batch of survival stragglers that they can do it too! Through all the hard times (it seems we've had our fair share thus far and them some) we're becoming hardier people and a tougher family unit. Surviving TEOTWAWKI requires nothing less.

So get cracking. You wont regret it. Despite all that's happened we've never regretted our choice. And don't worry about TEOTWAWKI coming tomorrow. After all, It's already tomorrow in Australia!

Last year I planted my first home garden in my adult life. I am 46 years old and grew up most of my years in suburban America so I had little experience with the nuts and bolts of a family garden but I did spend twenty years in the Marine Corps so I do have a level of self-sufficiency that I garnered over the past 20 years during my service in the Marines.

I will also add that my Dad did a little family gardening in the 1960s and 1970s but by the 1980s we were a complete suburban family relying on the modern food chain supply of commercial America. My Dad’s grandfather definitely was a master gardener as he had 12 children (my Dad was the oldest), and did not make a lot of money so he had what I would consider a huge family garden. I helped both my father and grandfather during my youth so I had a small amount of ability but almost 40 years of gardening regression made me pretty much a novice once more.

That did not stop me one bit. When I retired, I announced to my wife that I was “cutting” a garden in the backyard last year as soon as the snow melted. She thought I was crazy as I used a motorized sod cutter to cut a 40’ x 30’ garden in the backyard. She said I had bitten off more than I could chew. Well, I just took that as a challenge and went at it with some gusto. My production was varied and I had some winners and I had some losers (more losers I would say) but what I learned last season was invaluable and I am eagerly awaiting this season to apply hose lessons.

Lesson #1: There is no substitute for good soil. If you have crummy soil (like I did), augment it with some kind of compost. At the end of the season, after my less than bountiful harvest, I had a local soil company dump four tons of mushroom manure on top of my garden and I tilled it in. I live in western Pennsylvania where there are more rocks in the soil than there are stars in the universe and it is hard to get a good garden started with just a thin layer of substandard soil. Again, get some augment and build up your garden height so your seeds and plants have a fighting chance.

Lesson #2: Check with the local agro stores and find out what kind of soil you have. Take a few samples and have them analyze it. If you buy from them, they probably won’t charge you for the service either. Most veggies like a particular soil PH so find out what it is and add the proper augments to your soil to get it to a particular acidity or non-acidity.

Lesson #3: In my regular crummy dirt garden, I planted everything I could find, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers of all kinds, squash, corn, onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beans, and some spices.  Some did ok, others were pitiful. Again, soil is everything if all else remains the same. On a couple of smaller circular plots, I planted some tomatoes according to a group of bio-dynamic gardeners in Bradford, Pennsylvania. They have a web site (just search for biodynamic tomatoes and it will take you to their web site) which I found and I did exactly as they told me to do in my little circular garden and wouldn’t you know, I had cherry tomatoes growing out of my ears. I started from seeds they sent me and planted three small plants in my little mound and I had mutant tomato plants by mid-summer. They got to a height of 9’ (that’s not a typo) before they fell over from the weight of the tomatoes. I harvested around 2,000 cherries from the plants; it was simply amazing. The secret is in how you prepare the hole in the ground. 3’ wide by 2’ deep and start filling it with table scraps during the winter and spring and add equal parts of manure and dirt until you get a 2-3’ high mound of dirt that has 4-5’ of depth due to the original hole. The plants “feasted” on the garbage through the season and the results were amazing. I’m not advertising for these guys but the process can be applied to pretty much any plants you want to use.  Remember, you don’t have to compost the garbage, just dump it in the hole, cover with dirt and manure and repeat until it is a big round mound, plant your desired crop on top and watch the miracle happen. I had small rows in my crummy garden last year but I am going to do more mounds in it this year and do the same thing with my other plants and see what I can produce. I had tomatoes in the crummy garden as well as they super plot and the ones on the crummy side did crummy so I know it was soil and compost that was the catalyst for the mutant yield in the “super” plot. As I said, I am excited.

Lesson #4: Potatoes! I had a great start to my spuds and then did something very stupid. I got attacked by Colorado Potato Beetles and used some insecticide on them. The first dose took care of 50% but when I did it again, it pretty much wilted the plants and they never recovered. I still managed to harvest decent size reds and whites mid-summer and even replanted some more seed potatoes and got a second smaller harvest in October. Bottom line, don’t use store bought chemicals to deal with your bugs. Find out what natural solutions work and use them. I have read that planting different plants next to each other is symbiotically beneficial and I plan to do more of that this season.

Lesson #5: We get pretty good rainfall here in western Pennsylvania but I am going to add a few rain barrels, dig a small trench for some PVC piping and run it from the barrels to the upper side of the garden with soaker hoses attached at the intervals I have my garden rows set. Since my barrels are above the level of the topside of my garden, gravity will do the trick for water distribution.

Lesson #6: Save every bit of food scraps from your table and start composting today. The feeling that my wife and I get from knowing that everything we do not eat will make it back into the garden makes us feel so much better than throwing it out in the garbage. In a spiritual sense, I think this is what God intended us to do from the beginning so we don’t need to add fertilizers or any other miracle growth stuff since our soil will be rich with organic nutrients year round. We saved one of the plastic containers that the kitty litter comes in and since it is made to keep the smell in, our little compost bucket in the garage never emanates any odor; until of course I bring it out to the garden, did my little hole, and dump it in. I realize that there are tons of folks that have composting down to a science but garbage is garbage and it will decompose under the soil, trust me. On those occasions where I have dug up a small part of a prior load of garbage, it has been quite odiferous.  If you want to compost, have at it. If you want to do it the simple method, it works too. Just give it enough time to decompose in the soil before you start tilling for the spring plant. I try to have a ready-to-go hole into which I can dump refuse during the season so it will be ready for the next year.

Lesson #7: As low key as you can, get your neighbors involved in starting their own garden as well. Invite them over when you are out and share with them what you have produced. You will be amazed at the communal feelings that start to develop over the sharing of food. My neighbor and I started doing this at the same time, and although he has no idea of my prepping beliefs, he is “in training” whether he knows it or not! We share our veggies and have a lot more in common now than just golf! My other neighbors are getting into it as well. I let them borrow some of my tools to get them started and then the eventual list of questions start getting asked. “How big should I make my garden? What should I grow?” This is really all it takes to get your neighborhood on the road to self-sufficiency.

These lessons learned are by no means a complete or comprehensive list of “how to’s” but I hope that by sharing what I learned as an evolving home gardener will help you in your gardening adventures down the line.

I often get e-mails and letters from readers about precious metals, and most of them are wrong. Many of them were about silver:

  • In 2001, when I formally called the bottom, for silver, I got taunting letters. Those naysayers claimed that silver was heading down further, perhaps to $3 per ounce.
  • In 2005, I started getting whining "I missed the boat" letters. That was when the silver bull was still just a calf. People have continued whining, ever since.
  • In 2008, when silver was $9.80 per ounce, I got my first "this is the top for silver" letter. I'm still getting letters like that.
  • In 2010, the "silver is soon heading to $200 per ounce" letters began to arrive.
  • In early 2011, I started getting "silver crash alert" and "silver bubble is about to pop" letters.
  • Today, (with spot silver now around $37.32 per ounce) I got a letter claiming that silver was about to crash, and that it would bottom at around $4 per ounce.

I need to clarify a few things. First, silver is not a reliable investment vehicle. Stop thinking of it as an "investment." The silver market is too thin and volatile for that. Owning silver is more properly a hedge on inflation and insurance against a Dollar collapse. To illustrate:

  • In 1964, $1,000 face value in silver coins could be had for $1,000 in FRNs. (Still "face value.")
  • In 1979: $1,000 face value in pre-1965 silver coins briefly spiked to $25,000 in FRNs
  • In 2001, $1,000 face value in pre-1965 silver coins hit a low of $3,600 in FRNs. (3.6 times face value.)
  • In March, 2011: $1,000 face value in pre-1965 silver coins costs $26,680 in FRNs. (26.6 times face value.)

Next, I must mention that 1979 (when silver briefly spiked to $48.70 per ounce) was an aberration. This aberration was created when the Texas billionaire Hunt brothers and their Saudi buddies attempted to corner the silver market. They were stopped when the COMEX regulators brutally enacted Silver Rule 7 which effectively raised the margin requirement for silver futures contracts for big buyers to 100%. That move destroyed the futures market. It forced the Hunt Brothers to cover their positions and divest their holdings into a falling market.

Just for the sake of argument, let's surmise that the current run-up in the price of silver is indeed a "bubble".  Even if the COMEX committee again artificially hammers the market, the subsequent bottom for silver would have to be at least $10 per ounce.  Why? Because the underlying stair steps in currency inflation don't ever go away. The Dollar will never have the same purchasing power of a decade ago.

But I don't think that silver is yet in a speculative bubble. The true value of silver and gold haven't changed substantially. Rather, it is paper money that is losing value. I believe that the value of the U.S. Dollar and the world's other fiat currencies are simply diving into a chasm, following an orgy of government over-spending. The current bull markets in silver and gold are just reflections of the ongoing destruction of the Dollar and the world's other pager currencies. For this reason, even if there is a major correction in silver, I doubt that the bottom will be any lower than $20 per ounce. The silver market fundamentals support my outlook. Silver is scarce and become more scarce with every passing year. (Which, by the way, is one of the reasons why I recommended that my readers ratio trade out of physical gold, and into physical silver.)

Will a gallon of premium gasoline ever sell for $1.00 per gallon again?  Will silver ever be $4 per ounce again? No, not unless they knock a zero off the Dollar. Inflation is unrelenting.

Take Some Profit and Put it in Tangibles
I must reiterate that silver is not a reliable investment vehicle.  But it is a reliable hedge on inflation and provides protection from a currency collapse. Don't be a greedy silver bull. Market manipulations are impossible to predict. When they do come, they will likely be draconian, and they will get the silver longs screaming for mercy. If the future delivery price of silver again approaches $50 per ounce, it is very likely that the COMEX regulators will artificially raise the margin requirements or otherwise change the trading rules in an attempt to crash the market. If there is a price spike, short squeeze and shortage of physical silver, I wouldn't be surprised to see the COMEX dictate that only industrial users (like Kodak, Fujifilm--both manufacturers of medical x-ray film) would be allowed to take delivery of physical silver when settling futures contracts.

When To Sell Some Gold
Gold bottomed in April, 2001 at $255 per ounce. As I'm writing this, spot gold is at $1,430 per ounce. That is a 5.6x gain! There are few other investments that have done so well. At this juncture, I think that it would be wise for anyone who purchased their gold at $715/oz. or less, to sell one-third of their gold, NOW. (Well, wait for the next day where there is a spike upward.)

Immediately parlay the cash proceeds into additional practical tangibles (such as guns, common caliber ammunition, and productive farmland), and perhaps some silver, if you don't already have some silver coins set aside for barter. If and when gold doubles again (to $2,860 per ounce), then it will probably time to think about selling another fraction of your holdings.

When To Sell Some Silver
I'm setting an interim target of $41.90 per ounce for silver. That is ten times the 2001 bottom price and almost 30 times face value, for pre-1965 coins.That is a good threshold for preparedness-minded people to sell one-third of their silver holdings. Don't be greedy and try to "call the top". If you attempt this, odds are that you will be wrong.

My advice: Start cashing out when silver touches $41.90 per ounce. But don't sell all of your silver into the rising market. Always maintain a core holding of silver for barter. Here in the United States, pre-1965 silver quarters (25 cent pieces) are the ideal coins for barter.

Whenever you liquidate any of your precious metals DO NOT leave the proceeds in perishable Dollars. Again, parlay the profit into additional practical tangibles.

If you follow my advice, you will have a balanced asset preservation strategy that will leave your family well-prepared. By diversifying into other tangibles, you will sleep better at night.

Do you remember my warnings about "creative" ways that legislators might find to solve budget crises? Brace yourselves. CBO: Taxing mileage a 'practical option' for revenue enhancement. (A hat tip to J.H.B. for the link.)

My cousin in England sent this: Proof That Gold Is Not a Bubble

Gonzalo Lira: How Likely is QE-Three? (Lira thinks either that there will soon be be either more monetization or seizure of IRAs and 401(k)s.

G.G. flagged this: Morning Note: Gold Replacing Dollar as World’s Reserve Currency?

Also from G.G.: Buffett Warns: The Dollar Will Decline

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Falter Despite Improving Economic Reports  

Oil Slides as Rebels Take Libyan Ports  

More People Signed Contracts to Buy Homes in February  

How to Detect Fake Silver  

US Closes Small Bank Bringing 2011 Total to 26  

Free city lots offered for modern-day homesteaders in the Midwest.

   o o o

K.A.F. flagged this: Nine Best Canned Foods. For what its worth, JWR's favorite, canned salmon, tops their list.

   o o o

Wow! I just noticed that the 1950s novel "Atlas Shrugged" just jumped to #130 in Amazon's sales rankings. No doubt renewed interest (above and beyond its perennial following), is due to the upcoming release of the feature motion picture. (Appropriately, the release date is April 15th.)

   o o o

Shortages of scarce natural resources coming, warn chemists. (Thanks to C.D.V. for the link.)

"Never ascribe to conspiracy what stupidity and self-interest will cover." - John Washburn

Monday, March 28, 2011

Recognizing both the fact that "all politics are local", and the international readership of SurvivalBlog, I naturally de-emphasize politics in my blog. However, a recent article got my blood boiling: Motorists illegally detained at Florida tolls - for using large bills! So, not only are Federal Reserve Notes not redeemable "on demand" for specie, but effectively they are now no longer " tender for all debts public and private." It is often hard to pinpoint a breaking point--the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back"--as impetus for a paradigm shift, but reading that news article was that last straw for me. Consider my paradigm fully shifted. I'm now urging that folks Get Out of Dodge for political reasons--not just for the family preparedness issues that I've previously outlined. There comes a time, after a chain of abuses when good men must take action. We've reached that point, folks!

Voting With Our Feet

I concur that Pastor Chuck Baldwin was right when he "voted with his feet" and moved his family from Florida to Montana. Like Chuck Baldwin I believe that is time for freedom-loving Christians to relocate to something analogous to "Galt's Gulch" on a grand scale.

Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report recently quoted an essay by economist Giordano Bruno, titled The Return Of Precious Metals And Sound Money. In it, Bruno stated: "If there is anything good to come out of our present predicament, it is that Americans, from average citizens to elected officials, are beginning to understand the reality of coming collapse and are preempting it with measures designed to insulate their communities from the inevitable firestorm. Eventually, as this movement escalates, certain states will come out ahead of the pack, gaining a kind of “safe haven” status, and attracting liberty minded people from around the country to the protective shelter of their borders."

Giordano Bruno identified a trend that has been developing informally for many years: A conscious retrenchment into safe haven states. I strongly recommend this amalgamation, and that it be formalized. I suggest calling it The American Redoubt. I further recommend Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington for the réduit. Some might call it a conglomeration, but I like to call it an amalgamation, since that evokes silver. And it will be a Biblically-sound and Constitutionally-sound silver local currency that will give it unity.

On April 15, 2011, the first movie in the planned Atlas Shrugged trilogy was released. I predicted that this film would both re-energize the Tea Party movement in the U.S. and also spark serious discussion of establishing a real-life Galt's Gulch. (Or Gulches, plural.) I anticipate that this nascent movement, and the gulch itself will be a lot bigger than most other pundits anticipate. It could very well be a multi-state amalgamation like The American Redoubt, that I've advocated.

Why Not Some Adjoining States?

I'm sure that I'll get e-mail from folks, suggesting expanding the Redoubt concept to include Utah, the Dakotas, and Colorado. Let me preemptively state the following: Utah is a conservative state, but its desert climate makes it unsuitable to feed its current population, much less one swelled by in-migration. North and South Dakota have some promise, but I have my doubts about how defendable they would be if ever came down to fight. Plains and steppes are tanker country. It is no coincidence that the armies of the world usually choose plains for their maneuver areas, for large scale war games. Some might argue that I shouldn't have included eastern Oregon and eastern Washington. The population densities are suitably low, and the populace is overwhelmingly conservative, but the folks there are still at mercy of the more populous regions west of the Cascades, that dictate their state politics. But who is to say that their eastern counties won't someday secede? This same factor is even more pronounced in rural Colorado. Just a few large cities call the political shots, and they have been assimilated by ex-Californians. For this reason I reluctantly took Colorado off the list.

To Clarify: Religious, Not Racial Lines

I'm sure that this brief essay will generate plenty of hate mail, and people will brand me as a religious separatist. So be it. I am a separatist, but on religious lines, not racial ones. I have made it abundantly clear throughout the course of my writings that I am an anti-racist. Christians of all races are welcome to be my neighbors. I also welcome Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews, because we share the same moral framework. In calamitous times, with a few exceptions, it will only be the God fearing that will continue to be law abiding. Choose your locale wisely. I can also forthrightly state that I have more in common with Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews than I do with atheist Libertarians. I'm a white guy, but I have much more in common with black Baptists or Chinese Lutherans than I do with white Buddhists or white New Age crystal channelers.

I also expect that my use of the term Redoubt will inspire someone to accuse me of some sort of neo-Nazism. Sorry, but I use the term in honor of Switzerland. When I chose the name I was thinking of the Schweizer Alpenfestung (aka Réduit Suisse), rather than any reference to the Nazi's "National Redoubt" scheme at the end of World War II. I am strongly anti-totalitarian, and that includes all of its forms, including Nazism and Communism.

I'm inviting people with the same outlook to move to the Redoubt States, to effect a demographic solidification. We're already a majority here. I'd just like to see an even stronger majority.

One important point: I do not, nor have I ever advocated asking anyone already living here to leave, nor would I deny anyone's right to move here, regardless of their faith, (or lack thereof).

Closing ranks with people of the same faith has been done for centuries. It is often called cloistering. While imperfect, cloistering got some Catholics in Ireland through the Dark Ages with their skins intact and some precious manuscripts intact. (It is noteworthy that other copies of the same manuscripts were burned, elsewhere in Europe.) Designating some States as a Redoubt is nothing more than a logical defensive reaction to an approaching threat.

Are You With Us?

Read my Precepts page. If you aren't in agreement with most of those precepts, then I don't recommend that you relocate to the Redoubt--you probably won't fit in.

Your Checklist

I suggest that you follow these guidelines, as you prepare and then move to the American Redoubt:

  • Research geography, climate, and micro-climates very carefully.
  • Develop a home-based business.
  • Lighten the load. Keep the practical items but sell your junk and impractical items at a garage sale.
  • Bring your guns.
  • Sell your television.
  • Sell your jewelry and fancy wristwatch. Buy a Stihl chainsaw instead.
  • Choose your church home wisely, seeking sound doctrine, not "programs"
  • Leave your Big City expectations behind. There probably won't be cell phone coverage, high speed Internet, or Pilates.
  • Expect a long driving distances for work and shopping.
  • Sell your bric-a-brac and collectibles. What is more important? A large collection of Hummel figurines, or having a lot of good hand tools and Mason jars?
  • Switch to a practical wardrobe and "sensible shoes".
  • After your buy your land, convert the rest of your Dollar-denominated wealth into practical tangibles.
  • Begin homeschooling your children.
  • Sell your sports car and buy a reliable crew cab pickup.
  • Expect persecution and hardship. You will be despised for being true to your faith. (Just read 2 Timothy 3:1-12. and Matthew 5:10-14, and John 15:18-19.)
  • Encourage your kids to XBox and Wii less and read more.
  • Make a clean break by selling your house and any rental properties. You aren't coming back.
  • If you buy an existing house, get one with an extra bedroom or two. Some relatives may be joining you, unexpectedly.
  • Donate any older bulky furniture to the local charity store before you move.

After you move:

  • Don't try to change things to be like the suburb that you left behind. You are escaping all that!
  • Pitch in by joining the local Volunteer Fire Department (VFD), Ski Patrol, Sheriff's Posse, or EMT team.
  • Be a good neighbor.
  • Patronize the local farmer's market and craft shows.
  • Respect the property rights and the traditions of your neighbors.
  • Be active, politically, but use a pseudonym in letters to the editor an internet posts.
  • Use VPN tunneling, RSA encryption, firewalls, and anonymous remailers.
  • Support local businesses, and companies that are headquartered inside the Redoubt, not Wal-Mart.
  • Encourage like-minded family and friends to join you.
  • Stock up heavily on storage foods for lengthy power failures, or worse.
  • Do your banking locally, preferably with a credit union and/or a farm credit union.
  • Be active in local home school co-ops and service organizations.
  • Find and visit your local second-hand stores. Watch for useful, practical items that don't need electricity.
  • Conduct as much business as possible via barter or with precious metals.
  • Gradually acquire a home library that includes self-sufficiency books and classic books--history, biographies, and novels.
  • Join the local ham radio club. (Affiliated with the ARRL.)
  • Expect to be the subject of gossip. Live a righteous life so there won't be much to gossip about.
  • Loyally support your local church with tithes and support your local food bank.
  • Get used to eating venison, elk, moose, antelope, trout, and salmon.
  • Attend some farm auctions in your region to gather a good collection of useful hand tools and a treadle sewing machine.
  • Attend gun shows in your state. (This keeps money circulating in the state and keeps you legal, for private gun purchases.)
  • Choose your fights wisely. Don't tilt at windmills, but when you feel convicted, don't back down.

I am hopeful that it is in God's providential will to extend his covenantal blessings to the American Redoubt. And even if God has withdrawn his blessings from our nation as a whole, he will continue to provide for and to protect His remnant. Pray and meditate on Psalm 91, daily!

Awesome! That's the best word I can come up with, to describe the Saiga 12, 12 gauge shotgun. Most people believe that only full-auto assault rifles, machine guns or submachine guns can offer-up "fire-power." Well, I'm here to tell you that the Saiga 12 shotgun, can hold its own against many full auto guns - at least, given the limited range of a shotgun.  

Right now, the Saiga 12, is one of the hottest selling firearms across the country. There are several reasons for this, first of all is that, this is one fantastic shotgun for self-defense. Secondly, the BATFE, or more rightly so, the US Justice Department, is trying to ban imported shotguns that have certain "features" that they deem evil. Third, there is a rumor going around, that the Justice Department refuses to give any more import permits for the Saiga 12. If that's true, this is a de facto ban that is already in place. Lastly, there is a strong possibility, that the Saiga 12 and some other shotguns will be permanently banned from future importation after May of this year.  

I have watched the price on Saiga 12 shotguns soar the past couple of months. My local gun shop was selling the Saiga 12 for around $450 just a few short months ago - when they were able to still get 'em. I routinely check gun prices on Gun Broker and the few Saiga 12s on there, the Plain Jane versions, box-stock, are going for between $800 and $900 these days and I expect prices to continue to rise.  

The Saiga 12 was made in Russia, in the (now closed) Izhmash factory - where many of the best AK-47s and AK-74s were being made. The Saiga 12s action is based on the AK-47 - just enlarged, and certain changes were made, in order to make this shotgun importable under US import and firearms laws. The Saiga 12 comes in several barrel lengths, with the 19" barrel being the hands down favorite. As already mentioned, the Saiga 12 is a semi-auto loader. It comes with a chrome-lined barrel and is cylinder bored. However, you can purchase other bore setting choke sleeves and change them in seconds. As the Saiga comes from Russia, it has a 5-round detachable box magazine - which is the maximum allowed by law for imported shotguns. Why? I have no idea - just another stupid law. The Saiga 12 can handle 2 3/4" and 3" magnum rounds, too. There is an adjustable gas plug on the Saiga 12, however it only has two settings. (I'll discuss this more later in this article.) 

For plain ol' fun shooting, I like to use some of the cheapest 12 gauge birdshot I can find - usually around $5.99 per box of 25-rounds of #8 birdshot. My Saiga, and most others,simply won't function properly with the factory gas plug (regulator) on setting #1 or #2, even though the instructions say the gun should function on setting #2 with lighter recoiling birdshot. The simple solution was to replace the screw-on gas plug with one from MD Arms - that has five different settings. For 3" magnum loads, the plug should be set on #1, for 00 buckshot loads, the setting should be on #2 or #3, for low-recoiling 00 buckshot loads, setting #4 should work. For light-recoiling birdshot, setting #5 works great. Again, this is a drop-in part - no gunsmithing required. The price on the MD Arms 5-position gas plug (regulator) is only $25. I made no other other changes to my Saiga 12. However, at some point, when funds permit, I plan on buying a conversion kit, so I can add a pistol grip and a side-folding stock - they run around $150, and if you have any gunsmithing skills, you can install this conversion yourself.  

I purchased several full capacity mags for the Saiga 12. The best of the bunch, in my humble opinion is the MD Arms, 20-round drum magazine. This drum magazine is easy to load - no tools required, and you can load it up in a minute or so. I will say, that it was a little difficult loading the first few times I used it, after that, it was a piece of cake. I also purchased a ProMag 12-round drum magazine (they also make a 20-round drum mag), and it too, was easy to load, and it too was a little difficult to load the first few times, after that - no problems at all...many magazine are difficult to load the first few times you use 'em, so this isn't a rare problem. Lastly, I bought several ProMag 10-round "stick" magazines. There are several other brands of hi-cap mags for the Saiga 12, with some stick mags holding 12 or 13 rounds, and I think they just stick out off the Saiga 12 too far and they make the gun unwieldy if you ask me. There is also an 8-round stick mag available, too.   [JWR Adds: In my experience, the AGP Arms 10 round magazines (made in Arizona) work best. BTW, they have reinforcing ribs on their sides that can also hold the floorplate--allowing you to shorten these magazines to several different lengths, with a hacksaw.]

When it comes to inserting the magazines in the Saiga 12, it can prove a little tricky. And, the instructions with all the mags I purchased said you might have to fit them to the gun because of different tolerances in different guns. Remember, the Saiga 12, is based on an AK-47 action and there are generous tolerances. All the mags I purchased had to be fitted to my gun. It only took a few minutes with a file to get the mags to fit perfectly - anyone can do it - just remove a little material at a time - don't go crazy or you'll remove too much material, and the mags won't work properly.  

I'm happy to say, I had no functioning problems with any of the magazines I purchased for my Saiga 12 - all fed without any problems at all. For sheer fire-power, you will find the MD Arms 20-round drum magazine hard to beat. We're talking loading up with 20-rounds of 00 buckshot - and I can empty the 20-round drum mag in about three seconds...we're laying down a massive amount of firepower. No one comes through your front door if you don't want them to. My only minor complaint with the MD Arms 20-round drum mag is, it is a bit bulky - but that comes with having a mag that will hold 20-rounds of 12 gauge shotgun shells. For carrying comfort, I found the ProMag 12 round drum to be the best of the bunch, followed by the ProMag 10-round mags.  

The Saiga 12 comes with a bolt hold-open device in front of the trigger guard. You have to lock the bolt up before inserting a fully loaded magazine into the gun. It only takes a second to draw the bolt back and lock it up, insert your magazine and pull the bolt back, chambering a round. You can then put the safety on and you're ready to go. Oh, the side safety - being an AK-47 type gun, it is a little difficult to put on safe and off safe - but if you've been around AKs you already know this. There are aftermarket safeties being made for AK-47s, that would probably work on the Saiga - that makes it easier to manipulate the safety to the on or off positions. Personally, I don't find it all that much trouble to put the gun on safe or take it off of safe for firing.   The front and rear sights on the Saiga 12 are small - then again, we are talking about a shotgun - that will be used for CQB  of no more than 50-yards with 00 Buckshot - which is about the maximum range for any 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 Buckshot. Now, please don't e-mail me and tell me that you can kill a deer at 60 or even 100 yards with your shotgun loaded with 00 Buckshot - maybe you can, but I can't. You can load the Saiga 12 with slugs, which will extend your range out to about 100 yards.  

I mentioned that the Saiga will shoot 2-3/4" and 3" magnum shells - that's true, using the factory 5-round magazine. However, if you plan on using the drum mags or the extended 10+ round mags, they only hold 2-3/4" shells. Personally, I find that the 2-3/4" shells work just fine - I don't like the added expense of 3" magnum shells, or the added recoil.  

If you load the Saiga 12, with a 20-round drum magazine, fully loaded with 00 buckshot - and most of those contain nine .33 cal. pellets, we are talking about having some very serious firepower on-hand. We're talking about laying down 180 .33 caliber pellets down range in a few seconds - that's more lead than most machine guns can throw in a few seconds. And, remember, we are talking about shooting 9 .33 caliber pellets with each pull of the trigger. Like I said, no one comes through your front door of you don't want them to.  

I see the Saiga 12 as having great utility as a home defense shotgun, with 00 buckshot, in one of the hi-cap mags I mentioned above. It's a great survival weapon for all sorts of situations. You can use it for hunting anything from big game, down to rabbits or quail, if you have the right shells loaded.  

Is the Saiga 12 affordable? Well, right now, I think they are about as inexpensive as they are going to be - pending the import legislation that is coming down the pike. Is the Saiga 12 worth $800 or $900? Only you can answer that one. However, I can't think of anything else on the market, that is capable of laying down such a vast amount of firepower, in such a short amount of time. Personally, if I had the money in-hand right now, I'd purchase another Saiga 12 without blinking an eye - I think the gun is that good! And, I don't think they are gonna get any less expensive, given that there probably won't be any more imported into the USA.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
The picture provided by N.N.R. just doesn't seem sustainable. He or she does realise that most Americans get whatever they want whenever they want it, and that this is a problem, but seems unwilling to do anything about it in his or her own family as a means of preparedness. Most of us - as preppers - should understand that our lifestyles are going to change in the scenarios we all talk about. As a society, we are far too focused on dietary meat as a right and necessity. We don't need meat for every meal, every day, every week or even every month, for that matter. It simply isn't required. I'd like to share some alternative thought on surviving with - and enjoying - the food you can grow yourselves.

In June of 2008, as a result of a medically supervised 18-day health program my wife attended, she and I made the commitment to continue eating the vegan - or plant based - diet she learned in the program "for at least a year".  That same month, we moved on to 24 acres of bare land in the hills, and proceeded to establish a new off-grid homestead from scratch.  Here it is, almost 3 years passed, and we are still eating essentially the same diet.  And doing just fine. 

Since the plant based diet we eat was chosen for health reasons, we weren't ethically bound to it.  We have never been what we would call strict or "militant" vegans. However, we both did notice a sense of spiritual relief at not "having" to eat animals. We each grew up on farms and have raised and slaughtered our own meat animals (beef, sheep, pigs, rabbits, and poultry), both as kids and as adults, so we know what is involved.  But, (surprise! surprise!) as a middle aged couple building a homestead, it has been no trouble at all to stay well fed by sticking to a plant based diet at least 95 percent of the time (maybe 5% occasional baked goods containing a little egg or dairy we chose to eat rather than avoid).  We only in the last month or two started to add an occasional whole egg back in to our regular diet, a bit of butter, and or putting a little milk in some of our tea as well.  Most of us eat what we want merely from habit, not what we need nutritionally.  No, I don't mean "if it tastes good, spit it out".  Food from the garden and orchard tastes great and with a little care will provide most if not all of the protein we need.  This is from personal experience, not hearsay.

We entered this project accompanied by several horses and a small mob of wethered goats for brush clearing, and have been diligently working on plans for how to provide enough feed for them from our own land, knowing it may become necessary in the near future.  But an early realization was that - in time - we could grow everything we needed for our own diets on our property, without having to worry about how to also feed, house and protect meat animals, either now or in a TEOTWAWKI situation. The raising and subsequent processing of meat livestock takes a lot of human energy, resources and time that we now can instead use on growing most of the fruits, nuts, vegetables and seeds that have made up our diets since June of '08. We will also be a less obvious target for the "Golden Horde", should they come our way.

We Americans also need far less energy than we consume.  If you live an unsustainable lifestyle, all the preparation you can muster will not be enough. Make the changes gradually now, not all at once and you will be much better off.  I urge everyone to get into the garden and off the grid as best you can.  Even if it's a little at a time, it's a means to an end and well worth the journey. - Dan the Mountain Man

"The Struggle for Meat After TEOTWAWKI" was an excellent article and the author highlights a serious security issue of protecting your livestock after a crisis. I believe one answer was developed by the Spanish Missions built in early California. They designed their mission around very large courtyards with high adobe walls and buildings protecting this central area. One surviving mission in central California is called Saint Antonio de Paula and has a central water well and a courtyard approaching a full acre.

They planted their orchards and gardens in the courtyard and still had the room for pens to protect their livestock at night. This required having shepherds to move the stock to pasture each day. Small stock such as chickens and turkeys were allowed to scratch amongst the orchard trees for weeds and bugs. Outside the walls they grew pastures, field crops, and harvested nuts and firewood. When necessary they sent  large armed parties into the surrounding hills and valleys, but they protected their vital herds, gardens, and stores of food within their walls.

Since I am interested in building a Mission style homestead in a high precipitation area, adobe is not a viable material. Instead I will string high tensile woven fencing between 10 ft high posts made from used drill stem pipes. The bottom of the fence will be secured by a foot or so of concrete. CONEX shipping containers and a large pole barn facing the central area will provide storage and serve as the end walls. I calling this simply a farm yard, since I don't want to make it look like an armed compound. I would encourage folks to design it big enough to support multiple family groups, perhaps 2-3 acres of yard and surround it with several 4-5 acre pasture areas.  - Connie H.


Just a brief anonymous note about storing eggs. Blue Water sailors have stored eggs in their original carton for three to six months simply by keeping them dry and coating each egg with cooking oil. Coconut oil has worked for me in the tropics, but I probably would not try it in cooler climates. The eggs should not be broken together. Break each egg into a small glass and observe and smell it before adding to a batch. I have heard shelf life can be increased to nine months by flipping each egg over biweekly with oil on your fingers to redistribute the coating. It sounded tricky to me so I never tried it. - Southsider

In regards to to the poultry, I'd like to set a few things straight about  chicken eggs. They don't need to be refrigerated or pickled. If you don't wash the eggs, they have a shelf life of 30+ days. Maybe more. I'm not against pickled eggs. But eggs have a natural coating, that preservers them if not washed. There are several sites to look at. A great key word to help is "don't wash those eggs" Many of my chicken friends across the pond, have told me they never wash eggs, and go 90+ days with no problem.

We incubate eggs as well, I've waited as long at 20 days, without washing, and have had success rate in the 95 percent range.

From experience, the right breed of chicken will go broody. What breed that is? That's every chicken lovers dream question.

I'm putting my money on Silkie Bantams this year. - K.F.

JWR Replies: Thanks for those tips. OBTW, I've had several recent letters from readers recommending waterglass for preserving eggs. However, the folks at The Mother Earth News did some extensive tests a few years back and found that there is no good substitute for refrigeration for long term storage. Waterglass only provides a five month storage life. That is a lot of work for an extra 45 to 60 days of storage life (above an beyond a simple vegetable oil or vaseline coat.

Inverting eggs once evey week or so does extend their shelf life. To avoid cracking eggs, this is best done by storing them in cartons, rather than in open trays. Gently flip the entire carton.

From a practical standpoint, the best options for continuous egg availability in "grid-down" situations seem to be: 1.) Refrigeration (via a propane refrigerator, an efficient electric refrigerator powered by photovoltaics or micro hydro, or a deep-dug root cellar in northern latitudes), 2.) Dehydrating eggs, or 3.) Mastering the art of wintering over your hens and keeping a few broody hens for flock replenishment. Of course to keep hens laying through the winter, you will need artificial lighting. And storing their feed is also an issue.

In response to Richard O., he may not need to build his own boat for a bugout vehicle, although more power to him if he does. He could instead convert a work boat into a sailboat. Having grown up along the Carolina coast, I am familiar with a type of boat we just call a "shrimper" or trawler. The basic design should be familiar to anyone who saw the movie Forrest Gump. Older ones can easily found for relatively low cost, in the range of 54 to72 feet long. The forward wheel house models usually already having a galley, head and bunks aboard for small crews heading offshore for days at a time. Also, since they are basically one big storage hold, usually a refrigerated/freezer compartment (although some older ones sport what amounts to a very large circulated water "live well") they present a lot of space available below-decks for conversion to storage of survival goods or as a dry hold for cargo goods for trade to other locales, or a combination of both. Also the rear deck can be used for cargo or through the use of a canvas awning, outdoor living space in good weather. The steel hulls are strong and long lasting and the general look of them does not scream "wealth", thus helping to avoid piracy in some areas. While maintenance on any boat is a near constant job, even without routine painting the hull won't rust through for decades if you can keep the zinc anodes replaced. Also, I've seen these boats pulled onto pilings at high tide, allowing for hull work, patching or painting underneath during low tide and then easily floated off again at the next high tide.

While it is true that most of these boats operate on large marine diesel engines with terrible knots per gallon fuel ratios, a conversion to sail can be performed turning them into a single mast gaff cutter, of sorts. The hull is already built to handle the stresses of sails because of the rigging in place to trawl the nets behind the ship. You'll need a long boom and a tall mast to allow for a decent sail area to displacement ratio for the mainsail and a lateen type sail rigged from the bow to the mast over the wheel house. The mast can't be too tall though, since you sport a short keel, but that's not a large problem. You'll also need to look into whether you will need a manual rudder installed, based on the design of steering present in the boat when you purchase it.

Even after a full conversion to sail you likely wont be going anywhere quickly, as you'll only reach top speed (sub 10 knots) with a stiff wind directly behind you. However, the small keel will allow you to head up many medium to large size river mouths to find shelter from storms and to pull into "civilized" ports of call upriver. Plus you'll have the benefits of avoiding roads, traveling quietly and without need of fuel. The boats are large enough for a family to actually live on fairly comfortably and the wide hull provides a smoother ride than many narrow bodied sail boats, when at anchor. While your boat will have access to most ports and harbors around the globe, I'm not sure I would classify them as 'blue-water' boats so don't think you'll be doing trans-oceanic voyages.

Instead of removing the engine and props altogether, if you do have access to fuel you can swap out the large marine diesel below-ships for a smaller diesel (or natural gas/propane conversion). The smaller horsepower engine will suffice since your converted boat should be pushing tens of tons less weight without a hold full of shrimp/water and giant nets dragging behind the ship. You could also swap in an electric motor, powered by a solar/battery array if you lived below certain latitudes and had dependable high intensity sunshine. If you do remove the engine and drive system entirely, be sure to plan on adding back some semi-permanent ballast to ensure the boat rides appropriately. In addition to solar cells, marine wind powered electric generators are also an option, although less so for powering propulsion. They are handy on a sail boat for powering the galley, lights, radar, bilge pumps, etc and the all important sea water desalination system you would want to employ to provide plenty of fresh water on board.

I've seen accounts online of at least a dozen successful conversions to sail that I would emulate; google is your friend if you want more information. My extended family owns three of these boats; actively using them as working boats, but if push comes to shove you can bet I have the majority of the gear needed for a conversion squirreled away in a safe place and would get started converting one of them to an aquatic retreat for my family if the need arises. On a different tack, if you can find one, the Mossberg 500 12 gauge pump-action shotgun in the stainless steel Mariner finish, especially in one of their sealed Just-In-Case (JIC) kits, makes a great addition to any boat at sea. Its always nice to have a shotgun around for defense, launching signal flares or even doing a little impromptu seashore hunting for wetlands game birds. FYI, just remember that you can only fire marine signal flares out of a shotgun that does not have a choke (the 500 Mariner [is "cylinder bore"-- it] has no choke). Lit flares stuck inside a barrel are a bad thing.

While a converted shrimper-sailor is not perfect for the job of sailboat, especially since the hulls weren't designed for slicing through the waves under wind power, a converted 'shrimper-sailor' in my humble opinion would provide lots of enjoyment and utility whether as a retirement vacation toy, or as a full time working boat for those who are trying to deal with new economic realities. God's speed and may the wind always be at your back. - Ohio Shawn

Steve S. liked this piece by Patrice Lewis: Tangible investments … that lick your hand

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F.G. sent this: The emergency internet bunkers. "Nik Rawlinson investigates the impregnable underground bunkers that will keep the net running during wartime..."

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Dave B. write to mention that Texas is one step closer to legal open carry.

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Chad S. pointed me to a great site written from a Christian perspective:

"The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence, as for his repose." - Sir Edward Coke, English Jurist

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Today we present another three entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Every day most of us in the U.S. have access to whatever we desire to eat whenever we want to eat it. We eat eggs for breakfast, chicken at any meal, and beef or pork as our dinner, nightly. There is no work or sacrifice in ordering a burger or chicken fingers. It would be very different after TEOTWAWKI.

One of the hardest things to do in a homesteading situation will be getting enough protein. We live in a meat eating society. Do the math on your daily intake of meat.  We eat two eggs and bacon or ham for breakfast, a grilled chicken breast for lunch, hamburger steak for dinner. Now multiply that for six months (180 days). How are you going to get 360 eggs, 180 chicken breasts, and 180 beef patties? It is daunting to consider. The logistics of raising different livestock would be a full time job. How to process and preserve them? How to feed and protect them? Between this and the time needed to garden, every daylight hour would be spent working.

On my small homestead are a variety of livestock.  I raise Dexter cattle, hair sheep, rabbits, ducks, chickens, honey bees and catfish. Of the 29 acres I have about seven acres fenced.  I have a small orchard of 63 apple and pear trees, and being in the Deep South, a pecan orchard. I have been working hard on my place for 10 years. It takes time to build a homestead and lots of work and money. Do not think otherwise, it is not easy.

I am trying to be self sufficient. I supply my own beef and eggs from home. I also butcher 2-3 sheep a year. I have had no luck with getting anyone to agree to eat rabbit or duck, but keep them around because of their reproductive prowess and quick growth. The catfish are not my favorite fish (I like tuna in a can). The fish are a last resort for me. I think it would take all of the above to come close to the level of protein we get from our modern diet.

The modern chicken is an amazing creature. A hen will produce 250 eggs a year if kept laying. This is an amazing feat and lot of food. Four to six hens laying will give you a thousand eggs a season. That is 1,000 eggs x 90 calories each. (90,000 calories) Every day will be an egg day. You will have to use these eggs quickly with no electricity for refrigeration WTSHTF.  The only way I know to preserve eggs without refrigeration is to pickle them. Yuck! Salt and vinegar are going to be used a lot in preserving everything if the SHTF, so stock up now!   Vinegar is easy to get now at any grocery store. I recently got an 80 lb bag of non-iodized salt from a restaurant supply for $11.50. These hens will also raise your replacement stock. You’ll need roosters for chicks. You don’t want all the hens to go broody and quit laying, so you may have to separate one and let her set on a clutch of eggs. All the incubators will be useless without electricity. The hens will last about two years laying, and then be eaten. 

You could raise your own birds for meat. I have never raised commercial broilers that mature in six weeks and if TSHTF they won’t be available anyway. It will take a lot of effort to raise replacement hens and have birds to butcher. It’s would be hard to store enough layer mash for the chickens. One may have to get a few hundred pounds of feed corn and crack it in a grain mill. Even then, I would only use it sparingly.  I think chickens will have to be allowed to fend for themselves WTSHTF. They are perfectly capable of feeding themselves. I have seen my birds eat everything under the sun.  Maybe they could be let out in the morning and coaxed back in the evening with a little cracked corn.  One person may have to be with the chickens when out to deter predators. I have lost chickens to owls hawks and dogs (domestic and wild).It’s the only plausible solution I can come up with. If you were to eat a chicken only once a week, think 52 birds, at least 24 weeks old including incubation time.  That’s six months to grow one chicken dinner. I have figured and charted and drawn diagrams trying to figure what I would need to supply this one chicken a week if TSHTF. I am still  skeptical of my ability to produce 52 chicken dinners a year without pre collapse resources available to me. (Resources such as grower crumbles, layer pellets, incubator, hatcheries that send chicks through the mail) I think the best use of my resources is to produce eggs in abundance and  replacement birds. Maybe a few chicken dinners, but the eggs would give you the most bang for buck. This is not meant to be skeptical, but to be realistic. I am not giving up on raising them for meat, but my experience tells me it would be very difficult.

The Dexter cattle are one of the most pleasurable additions I have made to the homestead. They are a naturally small (750-1,000 pound) and a docile breed. They produce good beef and small amounts of milk. I keep 2 cows and 1 bull. With the bull (Justice) left in permanently with the cows, (Hannah and Hershey) they have calves about every 18 months. When calves are born one of the previous born 18 months ago is butchered. There’s always one growing out and two pregnant. I keep the number of cows down because I want to balance the grass and the animals.  This is closer to sustainable. They eat grass eight months of the year and are easy keepers. A salt and mineral block is kept in with them. Besides that they just graze. During December, January, February and March I have to feed hay. This would be a hard problem to fix in a collapse. I think I would have to stockpile round bale hay to make it. Eight to 10 bales would get the cows and the sheep through a winter. These need to be kept at all times. We just don’t know when the SHTF.  If there was no fuel available to power the tractor I would have to hand feed them several times a day. The problem with this is the distance and amount of hay that can be moved by hand.  The rest of the next year I would have to scythe and haystack everything I could find outside the pasture. It would be very tough. I think they would be worth the trouble though.

I get a couple hundred pounds of meat from each cow butchered. In TEOWAWKI I would have to butcher the animal in winter myself. The meat would have to be preserved immediately. No electricity or refrigeration would mean the meat had to be cubed, cooked and canned. This is something that needs to be practiced ahead of time. The jars, lids, salt and spices need to be stockpiled. Two hundred plus pounds of cubed beef in quart jars would take at least 75 to 100 jars. That could be a good number of meals for a three person household. I would try to get at least a meal per pound, for my three person family group. A pound of lean beef has 1,000 calories. That’s 200,000 calories in meat.  

The Dexter cows are a dual purpose breed that also can be milked. I originally planned to milk Hannah, but haven’t done so yet.  She’s a good and friendly cow but I can’t seem to pull the trigger on milking. I don’t think she would give allot of milk. If she gave only a quart a day to us that would be close to 2 gallons a week. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Milk has around 150 calories and 8 grams of protein per cup. There’s 16 cups per gallon. That is 2400 calories and 128 grams of protein per gallons x 2 is 4800 calories a week. I think If TSHTF me and Hannah will have to come to terms on the milking. We will need the 650+ calories a day from her milk. Butter made by shaking a jar would be a luxury.

The sheep that I raise are hair sheep. There is no shearing of wool. They were developed to live in warmer climates but thrive anywhere. They are a meat breed. They are kept in the same pastures as the cows. Sometimes together, sometimes in rotation behind the cows. The thing about the sheep that would be beneficial in a collapse is there size and reproduction rate. The average size of an adult is 80 to 100 lbs for a ewe and 100 to 150 for a ram. Khatadhin sheep have the short gestation rate of five months. They produce twins most of the time and these lambs are 60 to 80 lbs in 5 months. They breed anytime of the year. Three ewes and a ram will produce a lot of meat. The best thing in a SHTF situation would be that you could butcher one at a time. They would be grazing till needed. Their size is more manageable, but still yields a lot of meat.  I have 3 in the freezer now. You will get about 35 lbs of meat from a 70 lb sheep. At approximately 650 calories per pound that is another 22,750 calories per lamb. You could have 3 to 6 animals to butcher a year with 3 ewes and a ram. That’s a lot of meat. One problem with sheep is parasites. It would be wise to stock up on at least 2 kinds of wormer. I have fewer problems with worms at my place since adding the cows and geese to my rotational grazing. This must have changed the parasite-host dynamic. I still worm occasionally, but not as much. I advise that when you do have to worm, don’t skimp on the amount of wormer used. You need to kill the parasite not promote resistance. Use the full amount and then a little extra. I also like to worm three successive times at seven day intervals.

Since I haven’t eaten any of my rabbits or ducks I have no info on their ability to supply meat on your homestead. I do know that you can be overrun with rabbits pretty quickly. A rabbits gestation period is very short (31 Days!) and the litter size is from 4 to 9. You can scrounge up grass and greenery year round to feed them. Six litters a year is a lot of rabbits. The ducks I have had are Khaki Campbells. They are a medium sized bird that lays as well as a chicken. They can easily lay 200 eggs a year. They can be imprinted very easily and will think you’re the mother duck if you feed and handle them when small. This would be helpful in getting them in at night. The thing I liked about these ducks is that they mature faster than chicks. This could be a lot of meat and eggs if managed well. If things were really grim, I would eat the catfish.

One of the most important things in a collapse would be the safety and security of your livestock. I was awakened at 4 a.m. last week to the sound of my last goose raising an alarm. I ran out to the pasture and found 6 wild dogs in the paddocks with my sheep and cows. They had run all of the sheep until they had collapsed then killed two ewes that were due to lamb. All alive sheep were being bitten while down. The sheep were covered with blood and my prize ram had one ear nearly tore off. These sheep represent 10 years of breeding and culling and cannot be easily replaced. They killed my last goose (geese are wonderful alarms). They were harassing the cows and scattered when I shone the truck lights on them. Thankfully I don’t have any baby cows now or it could have been worse. I got one with the rifle and have been working to get the rest. If I had to rely on these animals as the only source of meat for me it would have been disastrous. Predators are a big problem. If TSHTF I will likely have to shelter my animals every night for protection. The thing that would be difficult about this is getting the animals to respond without sweet feed as an encouragement. I think to make it with the livestock I would have to stock up on feed corn. I would probably need 5 or 6-50 gallon drums full. I have stored it in drums by the pasture before for the animals. It could be fed cracked or un-cracked to the chickens, cows, and sheep. This is the one thing that all livestock respond to. It would simplify raising the chickens. It would allow me to coax the cows and sheep where I needed them. I have gotten it at the grain elevator many times and it is not expensive by the bushel. You would also need to have your winter hay stockpiled. If things go bad it would be ready. You don’t want to chance your cows going hungry. A hungry cow is hard to contain. They will walk right through a fence. I have started using a solar powered fence charger. It will contain them.

Putting meat on the table will be difficult in the future but I think it is doable. If you gain the experience now you will be well ahead of the game. There will have to be multiple sources to supply you with enough protein. I believe raising chickens for the eggs will be the most efficient use of feed and bird. The larger livestock will produce stockpiles of meat for you if you learn how to preserve it by canning, drying, pickling, curing or smoking. The stockpiled corn for the animals will give you the ability to move the animals as needed for their protection. The hay will be your insurance for winter. The resources we position in preparation will allow us the time to grow the corn, wheat, or oats that will make the livestock sustainable. This along with our food storage program will give us a chance if TSHTF.

Up until last year, I had never had a garden or even worked in one for that matter.  I decided to start one because of the rising problems with chemicals and pesticide risks that are being put on vegetables, not to mention how much the cost going up.  We started off small with one raised garden box. (The soil is harsh here).  What I mean by small is that we started with a 4 ft x 8 ft x 14 in. deep bed.  By going 14 inches deep we could ensure that we would have plenty of good soil to be rotated around.  We started by simply planting broccoli and carrots.  We have two 50 gal. rain barrels feeding a soaker hose that is snaked throughout the garden.  The garden started producing results before the times suggested on the seed packs.  By starting with the raised boxes it allowed us to start out with a good soil base and not have to build upon the horrible ground.

20x bags of Topsoil
5x bags of cow manure
1x bag of Peat Moss (3cu.ft.)
1x bag of Miracle Grow garden soil
12x 4x4s 8ft. long - cedar or redwood
2x 2x4s 8ft. long - cedar or redwood
1x Roll of 4ft. wide Weed screen
1x Roll 4ft. wide Aluminum screen door screen
1x 25ft. Soaker hose
4x ¾ inch Outdoor electrical conduit 10 ft. long (gray plastic)
18x ¾ inch Conduit clamps
10x Plastic tent stakes (if you space everything out in 2ft. sections)
2x 50 gal. Rain barrel
¾ inch Water certified PVC tubing
1x cup of earthworms

Step 1:  Layout – Place the bottom layer of 4x4’s down in a box pattern to get the right spacing for your side supporting stakes.  I just took 4 of the 4x4’s and cut them in half for the short sides (4ft. wide).  They were placed on the inside of the 8ft. long 4x4’s.

Step 2:  Place the weed screen edges under the bottom layer of 4x4’s that you have laid out.  On top of that, place the screen door screen.  The screen door screen will stop the moles from digging up into you food source and the weed screen is self-explanatory.

Step 3:  Cut your 2x4’s into 8 pieces 3ft. long.  They will be places 8 inches from each end of your sides and only leaving 14 inches above ground level.  The reason for 14 inches?  The 4x4 boards are actually 3-1/2 inches square not 4 inches.  So, 4 boards stacked 3-1/2 inches each equals 14 inches (just for those that have not dealt a lot with wood).  You could leave an inch or so more above ground and use a reciprocating saw (saws all) and trim off the excess when you have finished.

Side note:  Being a Machinist turned Tool and Die Maker for 10 years turned Mechanical Engineer now for the past 8 years I am a little bit on the anal side when it comes to building something for myself.  I have the philosophy of “Most things can not be over built or over engineered so, build it right the first time and you will never have to worry about again!”

Step 4:  Start with your 8ft. long boards first.  Place a level on top of one to ensure your box will be level when finished.  If your ground is not level, go to the highest end and screw it into the 2x4 that you have staked into the ground.  Now raise the lower end up until it is level and screw it to the next 2x4 on the same side.  If there is a fairly significant difference, you can place dirt or rocks under the boards to make it up.  If this is the case, you must ensure that the screen and the weed screen are affixed to the bottom of the boards and that you back fill under your base!

Step 5:  After you have Step 4 complete, add on a short side making sure that you keep it level and at the same height as the first 4x4.  Attach both ends to the 2x4’s that you have for that end and continue on around each side doing the same.

Step 6:  Continue stacking the boards on top of the other until you are done.

Step 7:  I dumped half of the bags of topsoil into the box and then added the earthworms.  I have read on many web sites that earthworms add a good supply of fertilizer back into your box.  I then made sure that they were covered good with topsoil and then added the Peat Moss, a couple more bags of topsoil and then all of the manure, a little more topsoil and then to finish it off with the Miracle Grow garden soil.  I mixed it up pretty good with a pitchfork after everything was added.

Step 8:  Measure out the spacing that you will need for your plants/seeds and insert the tent stakes into the dirt as close to the sides as you can.  Run the string from stake to stake to section off each growing area so that you know to look in the center of the square if you have planted seeds to check progress.  Not to mention that it makes planning out your garden much easier before you plant or transplant.

Step 9:  I ran 2 raised rows down the length of the box with a valley on each side that was 1 to 1-1/2 inches lower than the depth of what I planted on the ridge.  In the valleys, I snaked the soaker hose through.  The hose was running down each side of the ridge.  I then covered the hose with dirt so that it was the 1 to 1-1/2 inches below the depth of the seeds.  I then added some Miracle Grow plant food shake on top of the dirt in the valleys’.  This would allow for a slow release of the nutrients to be added to the dirt and the seeds.  Be sure that you start your soaker hose in the center of one of your short sides.

Step 10:  This is where the electrical conduit comes in.  Space the conduit out evenly along the 8ft. length and roughly 2 inches from the ground screw in a conduit clamp.  Before you tighten the clamp down, be sure to insert the conduit first.  Also clamp it down a couple of inches from the top.  NOTE: One end is flared out 2 inches from the end.  Used a simple pipe cutter or hacksaw, wood hand saw (you get the idea) and cut that portion off.  Bend the conduit over to the other side of the garden box and screw in the clamps the same way as the previous side.  These are now the braces for your cover.

Step 11:  After you have your rain barrel in place comes the hardest part, digging in the water lines.  I wouldn’t really worry about digging them in below the freeze line unless you are going to try and grow something that can withstand frosts.  Run your tubing from your rain barrel to your box and up and over the top board.  Add a spigot and attach you soaker hose.  NOTE: Use pipe glue in the joints that is certified for water flow!

That’s it!  This is a simple task that can be built in 1 short day.  If you started this project on a Saturday morning to acquire the materials, you can easily be finished before supper.  One thing that you could do is to add a liner inside the sides of the garden box to ensure that the wood would last longer.  I used a 6 mil thickness plastic and stapled it 2 inches below the top edge of the box and made sure that the soil covered over it.  Plastic will reflect the sun and add unwanted heat to your soil drying it out.

With the great results of the first one, we have stepped up and added three more boxes of the same size and are producing lots of foods for normal eating and for canning.  One box is dedicated to just strawberries for jellies, jams and just for the fact that we love them right off of the bush.  We have even talked about adding a couple more because of the fact that the current ones are producing so well that we could start selling some of the foods for added money to purchase more sliver before there is no more to be bought amongst other things like Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids

I hope that this helps so of you out there and saves you some time.  I wish you all happy gardening and God bless.

What I would like to discuss today is the amazing power of the brain and our ability to live inwardly. What we do with information and external stimuli, and how that relates to our outlook on life, liberty and our pursuit of happiness. The ability to discover how we perceive the world, and how that controls our actions is crucial to our well being now, and when or if the Schumer hits the fan. (God forbid.) If we are truly serious about surviving I believe this (much ignored) topic of survival psychology to be most beneficial in this time of imminent disaster globally.
I am going to try to break these paragraphs of into bite size contemplations, although it may get thick at times, just bear with me: it is just the nature of the beast...

The power of perception
No matter how far we come as the human race we still can’t get passed this limiting problem, we cannot be introduced to new ideas or information without unintentionally and automatically viewing this information through a lens of our old paradigm. This paradigm being, how we see the world, what kind of education we have, how much we have traveled, what we have experienced, our relationships and many of our human interactions until this ‘new information event.' As this new information is received into our brain we automatically collect the data, organize it-by categorizing it, and then catalog it for retrieval. This is not as straight forward as it sounds, though.

Philosopher Andy Clark explains that perception, although it occurs quickly, is not simply a bottom-up process (where minute details are put together to form larger wholes). Instead, our brains use what he calls predictive coding. It starts with very broad constraints and expectations for the state of the world, and as expectations are met, it makes more detailed predictions (errors lead to new predictions, or learning processes). Clark says this research has various implications; not only can there be no completely "unbiased, unfiltered" perception, but this means that there is a great deal of feedback between perception and expectation (perceptual experiences often shape our beliefs, but those perceptions were based on existing beliefs).
-(Wikipedia keyword:“Perception”)

Something like looking at things through a positive or a negative lens can have an enormous affect on life when this information is taken into account, especially in an overwhelmingly negative situation.

Positive Versus Negative
While receiving new information such as a death, destruction of a city, destruction of a country or any other end of the world scenario, our ability to recognize a few key things about the way we handle situations is crucial for our sustained psychological well being, now, and in the future-when the Schumer hits the fan! We need to honestly and realistically look at how we face situations taking into account whether we point out negative things or positive things. We need to look at how we assign the weightiness of information, Do we describe persons, or events as overwhelmingly negative, or positive? Do we allow our view to invade reality and create an unrealistic perception?

Fiction and Faction
First off let me define two terms and then I will elaborate on them a bit.

  1. Subjective reality is the belief in the world around us filtered through our perception.
  2. Objective reality is the concrete evidence of the world around us, it is truly reality, not just how we see or perceive it to be.

When we change our beliefs we can literally alter our reality! To elaborate and explain this a different way this objective reality I speak of is: how things exist, not how we believe them to be. The goal here is to understand ourselves and how we relate to the world to be sure that we are not living in a fictitious subjective environment. If we find that to be the case  then we need to correct and chart a course towards a more objective reality leaving no room for factions of self deceit within.

As calamity befalls us as humans our natural tendency is to become irrational, emotional, and grief stricken. Armed with this knowledge about yourself you can battle this potentially devastating tendency-as this applies to all of us, assuming you’re human and reading this...

Battling feelings-arriving at reality
Another factor in our perception and beliefs that shape our subjective reality is our feelings. A coarse mixture of illogical emotions, sentiments, desires, experiences and biological chemical processes flow together to create what we call emotion. Controlling these emotions, or feelings, is another important factor in balancing the equation of (personal) subjective versus (holistic) objective reality.


Coping methods
There are three main types of coping skills that you need to know about that can help you stay sane in a crazy ‘end of the world as we know it’ situation! Each of which can be either positive or negative.

  1. Action-based Coping
  2. Emotion-based Coping
  3. Harmful Coping

When a person is completely overtaken by emotion in a stressful situation it is easy to fall prey to harmful coping mechanisms.

Action-based coping is just that, taking action. If you lose your job, you cope by going out and getting a different job. It is planning, confrontation, self control, restraint, studying, and suppression of competing activities. If you are stressed you can use action-based coping to control the situation and yourself. Obviously you want to keep yourself in check and make sure you are looking positively at your surroundings.

Emotion-based coping is the ability to calm down the stress through release of emotion. These calming emotions can be either negative or positive and include: denial, repression, distraction, humor, wishful thinking, rationalization, relaxation, and discussing the stress with a friend.

Harmful coping methods include drugs, alcohol, skin biting, hair pulling, nail biting, smoking, and promiscuity. These all can skew one’s perception or subjective reality even farther out from the objective reality of the current situation.

Being aware of the practice of these coping techniques is key. Many men and women are completely unaware of themselves and their responses to stress or other stimuli. A large part of survival is the ability to keep cool under intense stress or pressure. Using positive coping methods and even (I dare say) developing them now-within yourself is going to benefit you now, and in the long run!

Being Prepared for the new reality (end of the world as we know it)
The ability to understand ourselves and be aware of how our mind processes things is the key to staying sane under immense pressure.

  1. Looking objectively at ourselves as we take into account our perceptional process will help keep us in check and move us toward a greater objective reality. We all have ideals and values so our perception of how or why things happen will always be a little skewed from the objective reality, but that shouldn’t deter us from trying and striving for a realistic paradigm. Honest self assessment is needed.
  2. Stay positive, but not too positive-don’t put on rose colored glasses! Staying positive is a key to staying sane. A positive person will always out perform a negative one. Remember, a positive person will have a “How can we do it?”  attitude versus a negative person having a “We can’t do it!” attitude. The goal in survival and life is be as creative as possible. If you have a shut down attitude- I submit, that you will not last long in an end of the world as we know it situation.
  3. We must know the difference between the subjective reality that our perceptions create, and the objective reality of the world around us and our circumstances. Stepping outside the subjective reality box once in a while, exercising objectivity and honesty will help us immensely.
  4. Keep your emotions in check! Life is full of hardship, pressure, and stress. Whether or not the “big event” or end of the world actually does come in our lifetime, it is/will be always wisdom to have the ability to control one’s emotions. Emotions cloud our judgment and in the case of a TEOTWAWKI this process could be fatal!
  5. Develop honest and healthy coping methods! The use of these throughout ones life can only be beneficial. Whether you are a “go it alone” type or have a “significant other” even the simple act of taking a walk when you get upset can be beneficial on many levels. There is actually a biological process that happens in the brain that balances your emotions as you use both sides of your brain (i.e. walking, running, or punching (get a punching bag if you are that type)). Take advantage of this knowledge!  

Inner Peace
The ability to stay cool under intense stress, the ability to have peace of mind, serenity, calmness and control is what this is all about: Surviving psychologically in an uncertain future throughout the trials and triumphs.

Captain Rawles,  
I recently purchased my Berkey filtration system and when I completed this process I was informed that on April 15, 2011, Berkey will be raising the prices of their systems approximately 25-30% across the board.  They are also going to prohibit their Authorized Dealers from giving away the freebies that they advertise now.  Ever since Hurricane Katrina they have been running about 5-7 days out before they ship, but with the issue in Japan they can be running a month out.  This is because they cannot keep up with demand.  Their stainless steel systems are manufactured in India (who actually has one of the highest qualities of steel available today) and shipped in huge quantities to the US, but they are almost always spoken for when they arrive.  

Because my families believe in being charitable, we even ordered enough of the Black Berkey water filters to make several more filters using two FDA approved 5 gallon buckets.  There are sights out there that can show you how to do this like this one. About a quarter of the way down the page it shows how to do this.  Using the rule of threes: three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food.   Dirty water is what helped spread disease in Haiti so easily.   

Please share this information with your readers, so that if they can get one before the price increase, they might be able to save some money.  Even the filters will be going up.  

I'm not affiliated with an of the vendors. Thank you, - Brad M.

JWR Replies: I posted my instructions for a similar DIY gravity filter in SurvivalBlog, back in 2008. That design uses standard Berkey filter elements. I strongly recommend buying water filters soon, before inflation makes them unaffordable. There are at least seven SurvivalBlog advertisers that sell both complete gravity water filter systems, and filter elements by themselves for do-it-yourselfers. These include: Best Prices Storable Foods, Camping Survival, Directive 21, Emergency Essentials, JRH Enterprises, Ready Made Resources, and Safecastle. Do some comparison pricing, and please give our advertisers your business, first!

Dear James Wesley,
I have been wanting to get to a bank to make arrangements to buy nickels and pennies, but my normal workday and duties prevent me.  Today I was finally able to do so.

I was told that the pennies came in "boxes" of $25 and the nickels in "boxes" of $100.  The banker said he had to check on a recent fee hike. He came back with an a $0.20 per roll delivery fee.

But then he offered a "free" alternative.  Their coin counting machine bags [loose] pennies with $50 in a full bag and $200 of nickels in a full bag.  He thought that they filled the nickels bag 3-4 times per month at that branch.  He asked me to leave my name an d number, and would call me when a bag was filled.  He also suggested that if I don't get a call for a week or so from them that I call and they check the current bag status.  Even if the bag is not full, they would take what they had and "zero" the machine out with a new bag. 

As I was leaving I asked, "can we check the current status?" and he said sure.  He came back with one bag each of pennies and nickels.  I bought them both.

We know why I bought the nickels, but why did I buy the pennies?  I found online the manufacturer of a machine that sorts the "good" old [copper] pennies from the "bad" newer [copper-plated zinc] ones.  The banker (with a smile) said that I should return the pennies that I didn't want to a different branch.  I'll let you know how the machine works in a future e-mail.

Cheers, - Chris G. in Wisconsin

I was disappointed to hear that Matt Savinar shut down his Life After the Oil Crash (LATOC) web site after apparently deciding that astrology was more important to him. Somehow, this reminds me of Boston T. Party recounting (in his much-recommended book Boston's Gun Bible) about how he once bought a nearly new AR-15 at a gun show. When he asked the seller his motivation, the man replied that he needed the cash to buy a Jet-Ski.

Reader Nancy T. reports that many of the people who were involved with the LATOC Forums have moved to the Silent Country Forums. Nancy says: "It is a good site and I recommend it for talk about survival and other related issues. Many of the people on the forum have been preparing for hard times for years and have good insight about what is to come and how to prepare."

   o o o

Reader "Old Dog " mentioned a New York Times movie review that shows TEOTWAWKI from an Irish perspective: One Hundred Mornings.

   o o o

Dirk W. was the first of several readers to send this: 'Superbug' spreading to Southern California hospitals

   o o o


"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Metal work has always appealed to me, so I weld as a hobby and a creative release and it brings in extra income. In so doing over the years I have welded various projects for any number of people, known and unknown. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, I was referred by a friend in a nearby city to a small group of people looking for some anonymous welding. These people struck me right off as ‘survivalists’ who took OPSEC fairly seriously, so I accepted their geo-caching explanation without questioning and proceeded to cut and weld various pipe and plate to spec, creating a dozen or so rifle length 8” tubes with bolt on flanges as lids. The customers paid and left never to be seen or heard from again.

The experience got me thinking that I wanted to try it for myself. I decided to try a relatively long term (10 year) test. What follows is my experience.
Involving my then college aged daughter we undertook the task as a combination time capsule/cache. In almost all of my welding I end up with most of the scrap material, so using materials on hand I assembled a relatively small steel box with a slip fit lid. The final box dimensions were about 6” square x 16” tall all welded up from 1/8” x 6” flat steel. The slip fit lid was made of the same material which allowed a huge 6” overlap. I was undecided as to the best method of sealing the cache, so I first sealed all the weld joints with silicon and then improvised a rubber seal in the slip fit lid to be secured with 2 large stainless steel hose clamps compressing the rubber seal. It turned out to be fairly heavy stout steel box.

We filled our small cache with a small bag of desiccant, several pictures, a folded up local newspaper, my daughter’s old charm bracelet, a rap music CD, some silver eagles, some pre 64 silver coins, water proof matches, a new Bic lighter, an old small .25 automatic pistol I had purchased in the mid 70’s and rarely used with a box of ammo, toothbrushes, floss, mirror, combs, flint and steel, scissors, tweezers, 50’ of para cord, a Buck folding Hunter, Gerber Multi-tool, sharpening stone, a box knife with several spare blades and a few 9 hr candles. It was fairly full with the newspaper taking up most of the excess space. (Note, I didn’t originally make an inventory, this list comes from after cache retrieval.)

Once our cache was assembled with the slip fit lid clamped down I was still a bit worried if the cache was sealed. Being my typical overkill self, I finally hit on using candle wax. Luckily we had a large supply on hand due to our largely forgotten candle making hobby. Using a slightly oversized cardboard box, I poured about a half inch of hot wax into the bottom of a duct tape sealed cardboard box, After the wax had hardened I set the steel cache in the box and filled the annulus with hot wax until the steel cache was covered by approximately a half inch of wax and then let it harden.

We decided to bury the cache in the backyard and worked out a ‘foolproof’ system for the ideal location.  We walked straight out the back door following the edge of the house directly to the block fence and marked our spot at the base of the fence. It was the north side of the fence, so not only were we working mostly in the shade; the cache would remain in the shade for the duration of the test.

Living in the southwest we are blessed (cursed?) with an over abundance of caliche "soil". Caliche is actually a type of sedimentary rock that passes for dirt here in the southwest. Digging our cache hole and its subsequent recovery involved specialized digging tools which some may be familiar with but I will attempt to describe them for those who aren’t. When digging holes in caliche many times we use a tool we call a ‘wonder wand’. A wonder wand usually consists of a 3’ (or longer) ½” galvanized pipe nipple coupled into a tee fitting with 6” pipe nipples on either side. One 6” nipple is capped off and the other side is fitted with a garden hose bib. Then you flatten the free end of the 3’ nipple with a hammer, which creates several small openings that work like high pressure cutting jets once a hose is connected and the water pressure is applied. Once water pressure is applied, you hold the two 6” nipples in your hands and place the flattened jets against the ground. With slight hand pressure while rotating the wand the water jets easily cut through the toughest ground. Once you get to your desired depth, you usually pull back and let the hole dry up for a day or so and the rest is relatively easy digging. It’s also useful for finding septic tanks and in general probing the ground. Messy but very useful!

Using our wonder wand, we sank our hole near the base of the fence. I sank the wonder wand the full three foot as I wanted our cache buried deep to preclude accidental discovery. The next day I dug the hole out and buried our cache with the top a full 18” below grade. At the time I wasn’t really too concerned with OPSEC, but our backyard is fairly secluded so it wasn’t really an issue.

Well that all took place in the latter part of 2001, so here it is 2011 and not quite a full ten years. I often thought about it, but had no fixed date when to dig it up. So a few weekends back my 7 year old granddaughter was visiting for the weekend and after playing every video game available and flipping through 300+ cable channels she declared herself bored.  Figuring now was as good a time as any other I broached the idea of a treasure hunt; she of course was totally unaware of the proceedings 10 years before and was quite eager!

So playing the game I broke off a ‘divining rod’ from a tree and proceeded to direct us to a ‘likely’ treasure spot, which was of course my ‘foolproof’ cache location. She, being a smart child was pretty skeptical of the whole ‘divining rod’ until I broke out the same old wonder wand and during my initial ground probe I promptly hit a hard solid object about 18” deep into the ground. I honestly thought I had found my cache in its foolproof location, which just proves there no fool like an old fool! So Papa looked more than a little foolish after digging for 20 minutes and only recovered a large rock. I made probably three more such probings and dug up three more rocks. Granddaughter was again getting bored, and Papa was confused and frustrated, scratching his head and getting fairly muddy. At that point I seriously doubted my fool proof location and was beginning to suspect my cache had been compromised. Repeated probing brought little satisfaction. Finally I decided to excavate the whole muddy mess. Twenty minutes or so later I finally found the cache. At that point I had about a 3’ diameter mud pit, and a 6” square box 18” deep is ridiculously easy to miss! It took another 10 minutes or so to extract the cache from the muck. There was nothing to grasp, it was heavy and slippery and I ended up mostly prying it out of the hole. Hindsight being 20-20, I wished I had added a handle.

We hauled our booty to the patio and hosed all the mud off, and then using a box cutter and a masonry chisel it took about 30 minutes to remove all the wax and cardboard. The steel cache was perfectly intact and exhibited no rust. The hose clamps were intact and were still functioning perfectly if a bit gummy from the wax. We used a small hammer to tap off the slip fit lid, the rubber seal still intact. My granddaughter was beside herself as we dumped our booty on the patio. She couldn’t believe we had actually found treasure! Worried that my deception may ruin her for life I confessed that her Mother and I had buried it many years before. My confession didn’t lessen her excitement at all. While I quickly secured the pistol and knives, my granddaughter pawed at all the other ‘treasure’. She proudly wore her Mother’s old charm bracelet from the booty for the rest of the weekend. And she had a great [heavily redacted] tale to share at school the next week.

Lessons Learned

I never made a real map of my cache as it seemed ridiculous at the time, but I spent quite a bit of time finding my cache in my own backyard! And while it was all fine and worked out for a time capsule, as a cache that your life may depend on, a map is better than your memory ten years later! I’m sure a metal detector would have helped but you might not be able to count on having one come SHTF. I can’t imagine trying to find a cache out in the boonies in only a slightly familiar location. A map is a must. Coordinates would be nice, but you can’t necessarily count on a GPS in SHTF. I also spent an inordinate amount of time actually opening my cache after retrieval. Not acceptable if your life is in jeopardy. And definitely some decent digging tools will be required!
I definitely should have welded/attached a handle to the top of my cache; it would have been so much easier to extract from its hole!
Next time I will attach some light cables to the handle and spread them about laterally in the hole, once you find a cable you could quickly locate your cache.
An inventory would have been nice and should probably be mandatory. I had only the vaguest idea of what I put in the cache all those years ago. I was pleasantly surprised by a US Mint container of 20 silver eagles that I had totally forgotten that I had even purchased let alone cached. An extra 20 ounces of silver at today prices is a nice surprise indeed. [JWR Adds: You did well, and your timing couldn't have been better. From March 2001 to March 2011, spot silver has increased almost nine times!

In examining the cached items, a few lessons learned. One, the new Bic lighter didn’t work. It would spark, but it was totally empty of gas. I’m fairly sure I would have tested it before I added it to the cache. I assume something must have been jamming the lever when I buried the cache. There was no off odor in the container, and I’m not sure there would be after 10 years. Second, the hot wax I used to seal the cache while totally effective as a seal also softened and deformed the 9 hour candles. They were still usable but barely. Third, it occurred to me that all that sealing wax could be very useful in a true SHTF situation. Fourth, the cached pistol and ammo functioned perfectly later at the range, though the pistol seemed very dry and stiff, in spite of my cleaning and oiling it before caching. I’m not sure of the long term viability of caching gun oil, but it might be worth a try or at least some research. Of course you could use cosmoline, but that would preclude immediate use of the firearm as well.

Lastly, if you are caching in the southwest, find something other than caliche in which to bury your cache. You almost need power tools to get it out later.

I returned to the United States in 1999 after spending an extended period of time in Russia. The country has a deep, fascinating and sometimes terrible history. However, of moment to this submission are three events that, in my opinion, are very beneficial for each of us to consider and contemplate as we go about our business of preparing. These three events are so significant because I believe that these events are illustrative of what may occur in a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI scenario. By examining what actually transpired in a modern first world civilization during times of SHTF/TEOTWAWKI we can divine--to some extent--what would transpire in our own culture/geographic locations under similar circumstances. Thus, an evaluation of these three events can provide us with data for practical application as we prepare ourselves, our families and our communities.  These three events are also important to consider in my opinion because they are illustrative of what--again, in my opinion--are the most likely scenarios of SHTF/TEOTWAWKI. 

The three events are, in chronological order: the siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), the financial crisis of 1998, and the war in Kosovo.  I lived in Russia during the last two of these three events, and I know individuals who lived through the first. I will address each of these events below.

Lesson #1: The Siege of Leningrad

During World War II, the capture of Leningrad was one of the three primary goals of the Nazi forces on the Eastern Front. The city held political, strategic and emotional importance as it was the former capital of the Russian Empire, the seat of the baltic fleet and home to numerous munitions factories, and the Russian bastion of the arts and sciences.  Hitler was so fixated on the capture of this city that he actually had pre-printed invitations to the victory celebration to be held in one of the great hotels of the city. 

The Nazi forces--at least 350,000 strong--approached the city of approximately 2.5 million souls during the summer of 1941.  At the approach of the Nazi forces, 1.4 million individuals were evacuated from the city. Those who remained--men, women as well as children--were soon to be subjected to a long and brutal two and a half years. The Nazi advance was stymied through the resistance efforts of both soldiers and civilians, and the Nazis had yet to reach the city boundaries by the fall of 1941. However, by September 1941 the Nazi forces had successfully surrounded the city, although they were unable to break through the outer defenses.  Nevertheless, the Russians could not claim victory.  For a period of 872 days the Nazi forces laid siege to the city, bombarding its citizens with shelling and machine gun fire. I have personally strode past the signs that stand as monument to this day that declare "During shelling periods, stand on this side of the street to avoid death." I have personally visited on many occasions the cemetery where over 500,000 victims of the siege rest interned. The 500,000 figure may seem high, but it is estimated that over 650,000 souls perished during the siege. During January and February of 1942 alone, between 7,000--10,000 died per day of starvation. 

So, you may be asking yourself, what's the point of this history lesson? Here it is.

During the time of the siege, the government seized control of the food sources. Rations were handed out--to those who could reach the supply tents, as many died on the way to the supply tents from cold and starvation---that consisted of 125 grams of bread mixed with sawdust. Those who were lucky killed and ate pigeons. Many resorted to cannibalizing the dead (this is a documented truth; there are much more sinister rumors, however, that there were groups who would actively kill in order to cannibalize). Although we may not ever face a military siege of the type described above, a prolonged food shortage would result in the same effects as seen by those in Leningrad during the siege. Such a prolonged food shortage could arrive in this country--or any other for that matter--by means of many things. A natural disaster such as a major earthquake or tsunami; a shortage of fuel to transport our food; a collapse of the fiat currency system; a famine; choose your own peril. The practical lesson for me to take away here is that any number of events could cut off our food supply. If that happens, then people will die and resort to otherwise unthinkable acts. So, the lesson to us is to stock our larders deep and tall, and prepare to produce our own food supplies to the extent we can. 

In summary, Lesson #1 is: food supplies for entire populations are fragile. Once that supply is disrupted the unprepared will die and/or live in unimaginably horrible circumstances. Thinking that the government or the goodwill of others will sustain you is folly, as seen by what transpired in Leningrad. Stock up on food and water, and prepare to produce your own food to the extent you can.

Lesson #2: The Financial Crisis of 1998

The causes of the Russian financial crisis of 1998 are complex and varied. I do not purport to understand all of these factors fully, and the factors that I do understand I will not attempt to explain in detail. I will, however, attempt to summarize the causes of the crisis before describing the aftereffects. The Russian economy was being driven primarily by selling commodities on the foreign market, as well as borrowing on the foreign market. However, when the Asian crisis occurred and commodities prices were decimated, Russia had difficulty paying the interest on its debts. Does the thought of a market segment collapsing, leaving said market in a spot where it is hard pressed to pay the interest on its debt, sound familiar at all to anyone? Anyone? In any event, the Russian stock, bond, and currency markets collapsed in the early fall of 1998 as a result of investor fears that the government would devalue its currency, default on domestic debt, or both. Again, sound familiar to anyone? (QE?) Markets tumbled, as well as the value of the ruble, and banks closed as there was a run on the banks as people tried to withdraw their money to buy tangibles before prices and inflation decimated the value of their fiat currency. Literally in the span of one month the value of the ruble as compared to the dollar had decreased by 2/3.  Therefore, when people were finally able to access their money, it would only buy 1/3 of what it would once buy. Can you imagine having $100 in the bank today, only to go tomorrow to try and withdraw it and find that the bank was closed, and when you do manage to finally withdraw your money, it is only worth $33? That is devastating. 

Again, you may be asking "Okay, but what does this boring history lesson have to do with anything?" Here is is.

When (not if) fiat currency loses its "value," those holding said fiat currency to the exclusion of tangibles lose. And lose big. 

I recall that many of the folks who had cash on hand foolishly went out and spent it on things like watches, televisions, and other electronics. They foolishly thought that the government would provide the necessities like food and water for them. So, they figured, they could buy "nice things" and the government would take care of them. What they saw literally two days later would turn their world upside down. Within days of the collapse there were--without hyperbole--guards with machine guns guarding the food in grocery stores. The food had been piled up in the middle of the floor and the guards encircled it. You had to show your cash to even be admitted entrance to the grocery store. People began to starve. Fights in the streets began to break out over bread and sugar. Long lines were created if there was even so much as a whiff that a store had cooking oil. People began foraging in the woods for mushrooms and berries. A barter economy started up on the streets. 

That is what post financial collapse Russia looked like. And it looked that way for several months. No food. People spending the overwhelming majority of their fiat currency to buy meager morsels of bread. So, what's the lesson here? I suppose there are a few. First, fiat currency systems are fragile and subject to systemic failures. Second, and as stressed above, stack your larders deep and tall. Third, if you do have cash on hand, don't buy stupid things. Fourth, don't be fooled: folks will fight for food. In Russia they do not have an armed populace; we in the USA do. The fists I saw flying in Russia over a bag of mushrooms could easily be bullets here in the USA flying over a box of Uncle Ben's Rice. Stay off the streets, practice OPSEC, and  be prepared for violence because it will happen. Finally, a financial collapse can happen suddenly and quickly and have ruinous effects in almost no time at all. 

In summary, Lesson #2 is: fiat currency systems are fragile. In the event of a financial collapse, the only safe haven is in tangibles. Stock up on beans, bullets and Band-Aids, and avoid the madness because madness will happen. 

Lesson #3: The Kosovo War (1998--1999)

As many readers will recall, in the mid-1990's there was escalating violence and tension between the ethnicities and religions in Yugoslavia (for you younger readers, Yugoslavia used to be a country in Eastern Europe). During 1997 and 1998 there was a full blown war between different groups vying for power, and reports of genocide.  Due to various reasons, NATO refused to sit by and let this fighting and slaughter continue, and NATO began a sustained bombing campaign in spring and summer 1999. As a combination of the ground war between the various ethnicities, and the bombing campaign of NATO, over 1 million souls were displaced, and fled the region, becoming migrant refugees. 

During that time period I was living in a Russian city that was close to the border. Tens of thousands of refugees from this region found their way into the city and the outlying region. As you might expect, they were not welcomed with entirely open arms. As you will recall, Russia was still recovering from the financial crisis. It did not have money to spare. These refugees took up shelter in apartment buildings and other edifices that had been abandoned and condemned. I saw families living in concrete blocks where the foundation had sunk into the earth, resulting in the concrete floor having a strange tilt to it such that a marble would roll from one side of the room to another. There was no running water or plumbing or heat in these edifices. The families huddled under blankets to keep warm, and cooked over open fires, often made with discarded tires. Deplorable living conditions. And yet, they had shelter. There were many more who bedded down in the fields around the cities. As these refugees would wander the city looking for food and work, they were turned away on more then one occasion by the force of fist or boot. 

So, again you ask, what's the point? Well, here it is.

The golden horde is a reality, and they will descend like locusts. This particular horde was unarmed, but I do not imagine that that would be the case in the USA. The golden horde in the USA would --I imagine--also take up residence in any edifice they could. Look for whatever food they could. Fight for whatever food they could. So, the practical lesson here is, I believe, the golden horde will come, and it is to be avoided. It will be massive. They will work together as they are in the same boat. They will be after resources such as shelter, food and fuel. So, practice OPSEC. Better yet, G.O.O.D.

Summary of lesson #3: in times of crisis, the Golden Horde will materialize. It will be massive. It will descend upon wherever it assumes there are resources. Stay out of its way to the extent you can G.O.O.D. Practice OPSEC. Be prepared for their violence. Stay safe.

Finally, it cannot go without saying that during any of these times of crisis people look to God. While that is wise, it is wiser to look to God before such a crisis. If he warns you to build an ark, then guess what? You should build an ark. 

Overall, these are three modern lessons of SHTF/TEOTWAWKI scenarios that actually happened. They all actually happened in a First World country. They are all things that could easily be repeated. Practical lesson: prepare accordingly. 

James Wesley:
On March 25, we saw a post by Phil M. indicating that "At a point of 6' below the surface of  the earth, temperatures stays constant at around 60°F."  This may only be true for very specific locales.  For most locations, constant ground temperature reflects the average yearly air temperature for the locale, and ground temps are only constant at a depth of about 30 ft. and below.  At depths above 30 ft., ground temperatures begin to increasingly modulate up and down following seasonal air temperature.  In areas of the world with seasonal temperature changes similar to the United States, temperatures at a 6' depth can swing +/- ~10°F from the constant for a given locale, and at the surface, soil temps may swing as much as +/-20°F or more from the locale's constant.  Ground temps generally reach their maximum in August and reach their minimum in February. 

For example, here in Northwest Florida, the constant ground temp at 30' is ~69°F  (water from a 200' well is only slightly cooler at ~67°F).   In August, the soil temperature 6' down will be close to 79°F, and in February, temperature at that same 6' depth will be close to 59°F.

Readers can get a general idea of what  their own U.S. locales may look like at a Virginia Tech web page.

JWR Adds: In northern latitudes, the ambient ground temperature can also be depended on for year-round food refrigeration.

No Great Surprise Department: Tokyo Shops Ration Goods as Workers Injured at Nuke Plant

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More statist elitism: California: Concealed Carry For Politicians, But Not For The People. Methinks the denizens of the Sacramento Capitol Building have forgotten who it is that they represent.

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Ten minutes of exciting footage: Exclusive: France 24 Reporters from the front line in Libya. What they lack in skill, they partly make up for, with enthusiasm. This is the quintessence of "a steep learning curve." (Thanks to Christian L. for the link.)

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My #2 Son sent this: Hack Obtains 9 Bogus Certificates for Prominent Websites; Traced to Iran. #2 Son says: "The implications are huge!"

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Reader M.E.W. sent this: Severed From the World, Villagers Survive on Tight Bonds and To-Do Lists

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What do you call looting when a government does it? Emergency plans in Louisville raise eyebrows. (Thanks to Pat M. for the link.)

"In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee [as] a bird to your mountain?

For, lo, the wicked bend [their] bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The LORD [is] in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne [is] in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: [this shall be] the portion of their cup.

For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright." - Psalm 11 (KJV)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Have you designed and built your own survival retreat yet?  If not, read on.  Designing and building a survival retreat that can provide protection can be affordable and also provide more than adequate shelter and warmth to not only keep its inhabitants alive, but comfortable.

To understand how this is achievable we must first understand what sort of materials are available and how each of them apply to defensibility, sustainability and affordability.  Secondly, we must understand how the arrangement of these materials into form, or design, can lend themselves  to defensibility, sustainability and affordability. 

A major problem with conventional building materials is that they are easily penetrated by small arms fire.  As seen in this video (credit to YankeePrepper on Youtube for posting it), tests were conducted  on conventional residential building materials to see how they stood up against typical rounds from small arms fire (9mm, 5.56, .30 cal., etc.).  These conventional residential materials  could not withstand rounds that could be owned and fired by any citizen.  Additionally, conventional building materials are not always the most efficient material to consider when looking to build a structure that requires a high degree of self-sustainability.

Rammed Earth

The demonstrations see at The Box 'o Truth web site show that the small arms rounds fired at simple boxes of sand don't penetrate more that 6" when fired from about 25 yards.  This report  further illustrates that a 5.56 round fired from 200 yards cannot penetrate more than 2 layers of sand bags (about 18" deep).  But remember, we aren't talking about loosely packed sand, we are talking about rammed earth construction or CEB (compressed earth block which is similar to adobe).  This study shows that rammed adobe construction can withstand rounds of 7.62x39 ammunition from 20 meters and sustain penetration of only 1-1/2" to 2".  Repairs can be made simply by slapping on more mud. Additionally, earth is fireproof making it safe against incendiary attacks.

Earth has one of the highest R-values because of its high thermal mass.  When built at least 12"-18" thick, not only does it provide excellent ballistic protection it has the ability to retain almost all of the heat generated inside of it in the winter and keeps almost all of the heat out in the summer.  In fact, temperatures of 70 degrees can be maintained in the winter and 80 degrees in the summer with little to no air tempering (conditioning) needed.  By combining earth with a good wood burning stove and passive solar radiance for the winter and adequate ventilation in the summer even more bearable temperatures can be achieved (more on design later).

Rammed earth can be very labor intensive.  Formwork must be erected and layers of earth are either hand or hydraulically compressed into place.  CEB on the other hand has a variety of options for machines that compress earth into blocks that are easy to manage and set into place by hand.

Salvaged Shipping Containers
The  USA annually imports more goods and materials than it exports from countries overseas.  These goods are transported in steel shipping containers which are currently stored in shipping yards.  The expense to ship these containers back empty is sometimes more costly than to sell them at scrap prices.  For the container itself and shipping,  8' wide by 40' long by 9'6" high shipping container can be delivered for about $2,000-$3,000. 

These containers are rated to hold tons (literally) of equipment while listing and bobbing on huge freight liners.  So for approx. $6.25 per square foot you have a structurally sound, fireproof and storm proof shell delivered to a location of your choosing.  Get some buddies who know how to weld and you can have a quick structure that you can either bury underground [with sufficient reinforcement, as previously discussed at length in SurvivalBlog], stack in multiple levels for a multi-storied structure, or build at surface grade and berm up earth alongside it.

Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, even down to 8'x20'x8'.  These small modules could be pre-fabricated at a convenient location and could include bare necessities for living such as a sink, small oven, a commode, or even a  few bed racks.  Furthermore, something as small as 8'x20' could be loaded onto a trailer for a bug-out type situation.  This module could be set down anywhere and act as a temporary retreat.  The best thing about shipping containers is their modularity.  As you built your survival retreat and as funds become available, you can simply add on to it and expand it by simply adding more containers.

Tire Bale Survival Retreats
This is a relatively new concept in creating wall structure for a survival retreat.  By compacting as much as 20 tires and wiring them together, very large building blocks can be made to create structure for exterior walls.  Tires can be found by going  to any recycling facility to see if they have some.  You might even be able to get them for free.  The big advantage to this type of material is that it can be very quick to erect and all one would have to do is finish it with stucco.  The tires could also be filled with sand creating a higher heat mass and better ballistic protection.

More Exotic Materials
There are variety of materials that one can use to construct a survival retreat when considering sustainability.  In a TEOTWAWKI environment there will be an abundance of materials that are no longer of use to the average person.  These materials can be scavenged and reused for the purposes of creating shelter.  For example, bottle structures have been constructed for quite a long time.  Not a very defensible material, but it does posses strong R-value.  Recycled 15"x15" carpet tiles were use to create the walls of this survival retreat.  Discarded car windshields scavenged from a local landfill compose in a shingled manner form the roof of this community center.

Design Considerations
The arrangement of materials in a fashion that takes advantage of the natural laws of physics and the local environment is just as crucial as picking the correct materials.  By utilizing the surrounding context of the property the structure is placed on to the greatest effect you will reap many benefits.

Passive Solar Heating
Keeping warm in the winter is a life threatening challenge if there is no way to burn fuel for energy.  If there is fuel for burning it will most likely be in short supply.  One way to mitigate the amount of fuel used is to take advantage of passive solar heating.  Put simply, using the sun to generate heat and putting that heat where it needs to go. The most design way is to have as many south facing windows as possible that allow the sun in the winter to shine directly onto a thick slab floor and walls with high thermal masses.  In the summer, awnings should be placed to keep the sun from shining in through the windows. 

Air Circulation
Utilizing natural air circulation to cool structures in the summer is crucial for survival as well.  The most common way to address this is by taking advantage of convection currents.  In short, heat rises,  so by allowing the heat to vent through a high point in the survival retreat allows it to escape.  But you must also allow for an air intake at a low portion of the survival retreat as well in order for cool air to be drawn in by the vacuum created from the escaping heat.  By orienting the air intakes in the direction where breezes commonly come from in the summer, air is forced into the structure causing more ventilation.

Going Underground
Building your survival retreat underground could be one of the best options if you have the time and money.  Digging big holes in the ground isn't necessarily expensive in itself, but installing the proper system to prevent flooding in your retreat can get very costly.  However, going underground is the best way to ensure a consistent temperature in your structure.  At a point of 6' below the surface of  the earth, temperatures stays constant at around 60°F.  Not to mention the fact that you have protection against hurricanes, tornadoes, nuclear fallout, and gunfire.

Take the High Ground
If you have land with a high point overlooking a large area of land, build there.  Throughout history forts, castles and defensive positions have always take advantage of building on the high ground for the simple reason that it is harder for an opposing force to attack uphill than it is downhill, and it is easier for a defending force to defend the high ground.  When faced with a potential threat, having the high ground could prove an invaluable advantage.

The purpose of this essay was to enlighten readers to building survival structures in the spirit of our ancestors.  They built with what they had and what did the most effective job.  Although there are many modern technologies that can augments these structures such as solar, wind power, and geothermal heat recycling, these are expensive technologies to add.  If the reader does not have sufficient funds for these technologies it is the hope of the writer that the materials and building techniques mentioned above will provide an edge of survivability in his or her endeavor to build a survival retreat.

Online Resources:

Firearms Penetration:
Box o' Truth
FM 3-06.11
Yankee Prepper YouTube Clip on Rifle Terminal Ballistics

Rammed Earth and Adobe Construction:
DIY Rammed Earth
Rammed Earth Engineering
Adobe, pressed-earth, and rammed-earth industries in New Mexico

CEB Construction:
UDC Inc. CEB Page
Fernco CEB Machines
AECT Compressed Earth Block

Underground Homes:
Wikipedia's Underground Living Page

Exotic/Alternative Materials:
Bottle Houses
The Rural Studio
Tire Bale Houses

Passive Solar Heating:
Wikipedia's Passive Solar page
Solar Space Heating

Air Circulation:
Natural Ventilation

Shipping Container Architecture:
Zack Smith's Shipping Container Architecture reference page
Wikipedia's Shipping Container Architecture Page

Many of the posts in this forum have discussed the vehicle Bug Out Bag (BOB), however it’s been my observation that most of them are not designed for a family.  As an example, many articles have discussed having a full change of clothes including shoes.  I can attest from my personal experience that packing a single change of clothes, including shoes, for a family of five takes a large duffle bag.  Fitting a large duffle bag inside the trunk of our vehicle along with our BOB would take up most of the room in our trunk.  Extra clothes are a part of our household Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) kit but not our BOB.  Below I’d like to offer my personal observations for creating a vehicle G.O.O.D. Kit for a family of five and the reasons why I chose those items. 

As the items that are needed in a BOB may change slightly by locality, I’d like to set the stage.  I live in Southern California but my family and I travel routinely.  We also live within fifty miles of a nuclear power plant.  Temperatures can range from 25 degrees in the winter to 125 in the summer where we travel.  As such, I’ve loaded my BOB keeping the basics in mind.  Shelter, water and food are my primary focus.  Other items can, and should, be added as weight and space permit. 

Shelter provides us a safe place from being exposed to the elements – hot, cold, windy, wet, etc.  Being exposed to extreme elements can kill people faster than not having food or water.  Children are even more susceptible.  That makes shelter a priority.  We have a total of six emergency solar type blankets in our BOB.  Three of them are the classic silver mylar style that are small enough to fit in a pant pocket.  The other three are the sturdier kind with a plastic backing as these are more durable and more resistant to tearing.  Remember that we’re preparing for as many different contingencies as possible.  Our emergency may only be a few hours such as a vehicle stuck in the snow or it may last weeks such as a societal breakdown, earthquake, or terrorist event where the only time you have is to load your family in a car and leave.  I’ve chosen six blankets, even though my family only has five members for several reasons: 1) if one blanket gets torn or destroyed, I have a backup; 2) if I have an extended family member over I can provide them some minimal protection; 3) they can provide shade in hot desert environments; and 4) it could be a good barter item.  These are small and light enough that I think it’s worth having an extra.

As a quick side note, I think it is important to be the first one out in an emergency with minimal supplies versus having a fully stocked emergency trailer but stuck in traffic with thousands of other people because you took extra time to get ready at home.  Having a tent and sleeping bags would be ideal but not if it may delay me to the point of keeping me in a danger zone.

To supplement my emergency blankets, I’ve added a heavy duty 12’x20’ tarp.  Using compression straps, this fits nicely on the outside of my backpack.  I chose brown for concealment reasons should I have to shelter in a non-urban environment.   Tarps can be used for a variety of reasons – makeshift tent, collecting rain or dew for water supplies,  privacy in a group setting, shade in the desert, etc. 

My last items to supplement for shelter are fire starters and tinder.  While technically not shelter, they do provide protection from the cold so I’ve added them as a shelter necessity.  They can be used for other purposes such as food preparation, water purification (directly through sterilization or providing charcoal), tool/weapon preparation, light, morale booster, etc.  I keep a set of storm-proof matches and a magnesium block for my fire starters.  I recommend saving the matches for times when the magnesium starter won’t work.  My own experiences with magnesium blocks and strikers is that they take patience and skill.  Practice now so that you are ready and know what to expect.  I have several sets of matches just in case I really need them but also for barter or charity.  Again, they are small and light enough that a second or third box of matches isn’t an issue in my pack.  I also keep a small box of commercial wax fire starters for tinder.  All of these are stored in a plastic Ziploc.  This helps organize my pack and also provides another level of protection from water.

After you’ve secured your shelter, the next most important thing is to acquire water.  It’s important to know where and how you can acquire water if away from your home and also how to purify it.  However, depending on your situation (having to move away from a threat, injured in a vehicle accident, etc), you may not have the time or ability to acquire water.  Water should always be included in your pack.  I use the Coast Guard approved emergency water packets that come in the 4 ounce size.  I use these for several reasons: 1) they have a 5 year shelf life; 2) they are pre-packaged in 4 ounce sizes so that they are easy to ration and use for cooking; 3) they are easy to disperse to other family members if you need to walk any distance.  Remember that water is relatively heavy – one gallon weighs eight pounds.  Redistributing that weight can be useful.; 4) I am comfortable bartering in 4 oz increments; and 5) the packaging is tough and unlikely to break as opposed to plastic water bottles that from my experience degrade and break down within two years.

I store my water in three separate containers – 1) clear plastic Nalgene bottle (wide-mouth); 2) metal water bottle; and 3) a dry sack (which holds the majority of my water.)  Again, I have multiple reasons for storing my water this way.  The most important is that if the water packages do break, I haven’t lost any water.  It’s still in a safe container and hopefully consumable.  Secondly, I can use the two water bottles as part of my purification process if I find water along the way.  There are multiple ways to purify water, which I won’t go into here.  However, some methods include UV sterilization using the sun (a clear Nalgene plastic bottle) and sterilization by boiling (the metal water container.)  The second benefit to the dry sack is that if I find a large source of potable water the dry sack is a secure way of transporting it. 

Remember, this pack is designed for a family of five.  If I use conventional wisdom, a family of five needs five gallons of water per day.  At eight pounds per gallon, that’s 40 pounds of water per day.  A three day supply would weigh 120 pounds.  And that’s just in water.  No other supplies.  This is a daunting task and not realistic for securing in a car or traveling on foot.  That being said, my packs contain 128 oz. of water.  Many references state that the bare bones basic water needs are 12 oz per day, which accounts for three water packets per person per day for two days.  Assuming I find zero water within two days, I at least have some in which to live.  This accounts for 10 pounds of weight between water and containers.

I also have iodine tablets for purifying water that I may find on my travels.  If money and space permits, I would also include a water purifier, which I don’t have yet.  My personal preference are purifiers that use ceramic filters as they usually don’t have an expiration date and their storage is unaffected by temperature.  Remember that I travel to places where the temp reaches a 125 externally.  Internal temps in a car can surpass 160 degrees which membrane filters (and many other items) have trouble dealing with and may break down.

The final must have in a basic family BOB is food.  The core of my food supply are the 3,600 calorie Datrex food rations.  I’ve chosen these for several reasons: 1) they have a five year life span; 2) a single 3,600 calorie packet takes a quarter of the space of two MREs and has more calories; 3) within the main packet, the rations are individually wrapped in smaller packets making them easier to ration; 4) the smaller individual packets make them easier to barter; 5) they have the basic food needs such as carbs, protein and fats in a balanced formula along with vitamins and minerals; 6) my family likes the taste - we get the coconut flavored ones but there are others; and 7) there’s no preparation necessary other than opening the package.  I can store five 3,600 calorie Datrex rations and only take up a moderate amount of space.

I supplement the Datrex rations with Mountain House food packages.  These do however take up a lot more space and require water for re-hydration.  While Datrex bars may keep you alive, there’s nothing like a hot tasty meal at the end of a very long day.  I’ve stored these strictly as a morale booster.  People can survive and endure a huge amount of stress if their morale is high.

All of the above items need a place to be stored and easily transported.  While some people use plastic tote bins, I’ve found it difficult to carry them anywhere but a short distance.  A decent quality backpack is my choice.  I’m currently using the CamelBak Motherlode and the 5.11 Rush 72.  I’ve found both of these to be decent quality and modular.  Using MOLLE attachments or regular straps, I can add additional items to the outside of my pack as needed. 

There are certainly more items in my packs than I’ve listed here.  Remember, this is a basic pack for a family of five.  Additional items should be added as space, weight and finances allow.  Some suggested additional items are cash (nothing larger than a $20 bill), knives, medical supplies, maps, pencil (no ink unless its indelible) and paper, gloves, sewing kit (to repair clothes and backpack or suture if critical), camp cook set, shovel, playing cards, etc.  

It’s important to manage weight.  My packs weigh approximately fifty pounds.  This is a lot of weight to carry for an entire day if we had to walk.  It’s also the upper limit to what my wife thinks she can carry.  It does my family no good to create a BOB if they can’t take it with them (especially if I’m not there to help them.)  Another consideration is the amount of space we can donate in our cars.  I also keep an empty regular school backpack in the truck with my main BOB.  This allows me to redistribute the weight and reduce the weight I carry or allow me to add additional items that I may find/barter while away from home.  The second backpack also allows the children to be help out and feel useful.

Finally, work with your family so that they know what’s in the BOB and how to use the items.  While my family isn’t into prepping as much as I am, they do support me in it.  My wife has tried on the pack to make sure she can carry it, the family has seen an inventory of what’s in the packs, the family has eaten all of the food stored, and most importantly my family understand the reasons why we have each and every item in our BOB and when they could be used.  I have received a fair amount of emergency management preparation and recovery training but my family has not.  It does my family no good if they don’t know what’s in the BOB or how to use what’s there.  And the fact is, an emergency may strike when we are not at home together. I feel much better knowing that if I’m away from my family and an emergency like an earthquake or terrorist attack strikes, then they have a much better chance of surviving.

How much bulk fits in a 5 gallon bucket or a #10 can? I did some research and assembled this helpful guide:

Food Item #10 Can 5 Gallon Bucket
Wheat 5 pounds 37 pounds
White Flour 4.5 pounds 33 pounds
Cornmeal 4.3 pounds 33 pounds
Popping Corn 5 pounds 37 pounds
Rolled Oats 2.5 pounds 20 pounds
White Rice 5.3 pounds 36 pounds
Spaghetti 3.9 pounds 30 pounds
Macaroni 3.1 pounds 21 pounds
Dried Beans 5.6 pounds 35 pounds
Lima Beans 5.4 pounds 35 pounds
Soy Beans 5 pounds 33 pounds
Split Peas 5 pounds 33 pounds
Lentils 5.5 pounds 35 pounds
White Sugar 5.7 pounds 35 pounds
Brown Sugar 4.42 pounds 33 pounds
Powdered Milk 3 pounds 29 pounds
Powdered Eggs 2.6 pounds 20 pounds

Regards, - K.A.F.

JWR Replies: Thanks! That is a good table for folks to print out and add to their reference binders.

Mr. Rawles:

I think your readers may benefit from a recent experience of mine at the range. I was shooting several rifles and some friends were also shooting theirs. We noticed how similar (but not interchangeable)  many of the magazines were. In a stressful critical situation it would be very easy to try [inserting] a Mini-14 magazine in a M4gery or [inserting] a FN/FAL magazine in an M1A. Obviously it is best to keep them widely separated but if unfamiliar or under-trained persons were handling them, it could be a disaster.

Our solution was to purchase a color assortment of electrician's tape and assign a different color to a type of rifle with it's corresponding magazines. We placed a band of tape several times around the body of the magazine at the end away from the feed mouth. We also placed a color band around the wrist of each gun stock with the color matching the magazine color just in case someone who was not as familiar or nervous in a critical situation from putting the wrong magazine in a rifle rendering it useless. Some recently purchased synthetic mags proved very difficult at a glance to determine which rifle they belonged with.

I think the same problem may arise with handguns as well and I intend to do the same coding system with them. One will have to be careful not to get the tape where it will interfere with seating the magazine into the pistol. I would be interested if anyone has found another solution. Thanks for your blog. - Marty, a Montana Prepper

JWR Replies: Similarly, the base plates on pistol magazines and the adjoining area on pistol grips can be painted various colors.

Of even more importance is not co-mingling 20 and 12 gauge shotguns! If you own any 20 gauge shotguns, I recommend that you set aside those guns and all your 20 gauge shells for "hunting and target shooting only". Keep them locked away in a vault, if and when times ever get inimical. Leave out only your 12 gauge guns and 12 gauge shells. This will greatly reduce the risk of the dreaded 12-20 burst. Yes, for many years 20-gauge shells have been made made only in yellow, but in the excitement of a defensive shooting situation--especially in low light--mistakes can happen. (For those not familiar with the phenomenon 20 gauge shell will often go part way down the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun. If a 12 gauge shell is then chambered behind it and fired, then "ka-blam!")

Dear James:
I found the question on using a sailboat as a bug out vehicle interesting, because I have been considering the same thing.

However, there are some major things to consider.

• There are a few spots known for piracy today, but in reality there are many others where fishermen are not above piracy of opportunity, i.e. they are like my Viking ancestors: trade where the target is strong, raid where the target is weak.
• Western style sailboats are magnets for pirates. They reek of wealth and comfort that the locals don’t have. Plus, they stand out from the local boats, being very noticeable. • On the other hand, any major emergency that will collapse our economy will most likely be worldwide, hence after a few months, the locals will have to ditch their motor boats for sail, as they most likely won’t have fuel either.

Design and Maintenance:
• Modern western style sailboats usually are fairly high tech. Even the mechanical systems such as winches and rigging require special tools for proper maintenance. If parts go bad, one often needs access to parts and materials that most likely won’t be available. Failure of one part can lead to a whole system being rendered unusable.
• Most modern western sailboats are built with deep fin keels because such make for faster boats. However, that limits sailing to deep waters. Many times places to anchor out and/or hiding holes along a coast will be shallow, where deep keels prevent access.
• Most modern western sailboats have deep, heavy, fin keels, which means that any maintenance or repairs that require access to underwater parts of the boat, will require specialized places to haul out as such repairs can not be done on a beach by beaching the boat.
• Despite what the fancy brochures state, most modern western sailboats are not designed as all weather, world-voyaging "blue water" boats: they are designed as fair weather, coastal boats. They are designed with the expectation that the owner/sailors on them will have access to weather faxes and other warnings to avoid storms, rather than designed to sail through them. Further, it is expected that most of the people who sail them do so during the summer, when the weather tends to be the best, when ocean crossing voyages can be made without encountering storms.
• Most modern western sailboats are poorly designed for anything other than personal comfort with some storage. One is often lucky to find one with room for a dinghy on its deck, let alone any other activity. Below decks has no room for storage of any trade goods, should an emergency last long enough that long term living on a boat would be considered.

When would a boat be useful?
• If you already have one, they could go up the coast when roads are impassible, or blocked by martial law.
• As an escape from the country to go to a nearby, friendly country
• As a temporary hideout, anchored out having a natural moat, best done where one can anchor away from cities and out of sight.

Final comments: I, too, have thought about using a sailboat as a bug-out vehicle, and taking all the above into consideration, have concluded that none of the boats I have seen on the market would suffice. So I have made a design that I think I could get in the water within two weeks from start of construction, assuming electricity is around to run power tools and I have access to parts. I cannot start building yet, because I will be transferred in a few months, and I am taking the gamble that the situation won’t deteriorate that badly before that time.

Reasons for designing and building my own boat:
• Seaworthiness. Needs to be able to go out in all but the worst conditions as weather warning systems cannot be counted on. • Shallow draft. So can go into out of the way places and/or be beached for maintenance and/or repair.
• Light weight. No deep heavy keel that limits what can be done.
• Nondescript in appearance. It will look like the work boat that it is, not like a luxury yacht. As such, local bad guys are less likely to target it.
• Even where the design is sophisticated (I’ve had to write computer programs for parts of the design), construction can be done with hand tools and most repairs can be done while sailing. There are no parts on it that I cannot build myself.
• Sufficient storage space for tools, supplies and even some trade goods. There will be more space available for such storage than living space, even on a fairly small boat.

Final comments in my favor—I have the (dis)advantage of being single, I have lived overseas and speak a few languages so I can usually melt into the local populations. I have a variety of tools, including a lightweight lathe/milling machine, sail makers sewing machine (better than most for almost all other sewing as well) and the skills to use them. I have done construction, from the laying the foundation to roofing, and almost everything between including furniture. So even if I lose everything, I still have something to trade. And with a boat I have a floating factory, cargo carrier, house and hide away.

Would a sailboat be a good bug out vehicle? Think it carefully through, it may or may not fill the bill. - Richard O.

Commentary by Robert Samuelson at Real Clear Markets: Europe's Debt Crisis Trumps Japan Tragedy

Iowa farmland values shoot up 25% in one year. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

Reader Greg C. flagged this: New Home Sales Dive to Record Low. (Slowest sales rate in nearly 50 years!

LFG suggested this commentary by Ted Butler: Silver Review and Outlook. Ted and I both prefer silver over gold.

Items from The Economatrix:

End Game  

Surviving A Societal Breakdown 

Investors Flock To Japanese Stocks After Quake  

Gold Just 1% Of Record Nominal High Of $1,444/Oz - Risk Of Dollar Crisis Increases By Day  

$36 Silver--The Banksters Waterloo?  

Sprouts: An ideal emergency preparedness food. (Thanks to G.P. for the link.)

   o o o

More about the politically-motivated attacks on Dr. Arthur Robinson's family: "Lysenkoism" at OSU?

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) recommended this piece: Bad*ss of the Week: Hideaki Akaiwa. (Warning: This article includes some foul language)

   o o o

Jonathan sent a link to this map: 10-Mile and 50-Mile Nuclear Evacuation Zones. (Compare that map with the data in my Recommended Retreat Areas static page, and the maps in my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation".)

   o o o

This must have quite a story behind it: WWII machine gun found in Lithuanian mail. (BTW, there are still countless thousands of unregistered WWII guns tucked away in private homes, all over Europe.)

"I don't subscribe to coincidence, Corporal. I believe that, no matter how random things might appear, there's still a plan." - Liam Neeson as Col. Hannibal Smith, The A-Team. (Screenplay by Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom and Skip Woods)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

You might say to yourself, I have no farm, I have no pump house, and I surely have no rats. My response to this is, “yet.” If and when the Sunflowers hit the fan (SHTF), you surely may have a rodent problem. Rodents can impact whatever integrity you may still have in regard to your utilities. That utility may be communications, electric, or as discussed in this article, water.

This is a true account about my dealings and responses to confronting troubles with Pack Rats. The purpose is to provide a few tips, not to dictate any exact method for dealing with pack rats. Pest control of these particular rodents has shown to be very important to keeping the water running at our farm house. I hope that by sharing a few of my experiences, that you will be less intimidated when confronted with an urgent task like getting the water, telephone, or backup power on line again. I have personal experience with rats impacting each of these areas. I have selected “water” to discuss, because I can address maintenance and preventative maintenance in a manner that you might be able to transfer to your own rodent dilemma someday. May you also take a little humor with you when dealing with these critters.

I have had several occasions with dealing with pack rats. My pack rats can grow bigger than the neighbor’s runt dog. Most of the time, the barn cats do a pretty good job with combating the spurts of pack rat population on our farm. There are, however, times when a structure is not suitable to opening for cat access. I must deal with the rats in other ways.

When I was still new to my pack rat troubles, I tried traditional research to seek out professional remedies. Most of the research summarized what I was already practicing. I visited the county noxious weed office for ideas, and the local hardware store for recommendations. I am also known for chatting off the ears of anyone that may have anything to offer from sharing their own experience.

In regard to other people’s experiences with pack rats, I have pretty much concluded, that there are more pack rat stories about safety hazards and costly repairs, than about remedies. Most of the stories included accounts about farm trucks catching fire, tools disappearing, electric wiring being molested, leather seats being turned to mush, and the list goes on.  

Several folks have suggested shooting the rats. (I do carry, daily.) For safety reasons, space constraints are not conducive gun fire. I carry a multi-tool type knife with me when working in the pack rat infested structures, but so far have not had the opportunity to use it as a weapon. My best plan of defense for the potential of a rat jumping at me, was to use my gloved hands and my stomping boots to crush them. So far, I have not actually stomped on any rats, it is a back up plan for personal protection, in the event the folding knife is not the best option at the time.

You might ask, why not just toss a cat into my pack rat troubles? For logistic reasons, and due to concern to exposing the cat(s) to toxic chemicals, tossing in the cats is not an option. I don‘t know about your pack rats, but mine are persistent. Even if I could make an area safe and accessible to cats, the rats would figure out the schedule and return in short order. 

I will present my encounters and resulting maintenance solutions about pack rats by reporting upon one structure - a pump house. I have yielded some success with other structures when utilizing some of the same applications, namely: use of mothballs, and strategically placed rat poisons (under hood of trucks, under seats, near battery cables, and squeezed up in the visor).  However, the pump house turns out to be one of the most important structures to preserving the welfare of our water supply.  

Our pump house is located about a quarter mile deep into a pasture. The pump house is structured around an old hand dug well. The well is laid up with stone and covered. A modern pressure pump and other plumbing components rest nearby and  are assisted by electricity from a nearby breaker box. The walls are constructed of cedar blocks, and the roof is laid with galvanized tin. Now you have a picture of the interior of the pump house.

How I approach the exterior of the pump house is also worth describing. Basically, I approach the pump house at about waist level, remove the entry door in the metal roof, lift my leg and begin to climb in. There is a ladder that I usually bypass by just leaping in once I can clear the entry port down in.  However, when exiting the structure, I must utilize the ladder. 

So this is what happens and keeps happening when I do not keep up with needed maintenance. The pack rats get in the pump house by eating through the metal walls, eating through the wood supporting the roof, and eating through the spray foam and other  insulation. Those pack rats are awful. They like metal objects and haul in all sorts of stuff,  and pack it into the crevices of the roof and joints of the interior. Their favorite spots are stuffed into the breaker box, in the cabinet where the electric fence box is held, and around the heat lamp. Those bums even eat the hard plastic cover of the switch to the pressure tank. Last Christmas, I caught them just in time, the wiring to the Double D switch was fully exposed, but not fully chewed through.

When dealing with a switch box, or any electrical application, care must be taken. Get professional instruction. As a hint, keep a plastic insulated standard screw driver around, and seriously consider removing the breaker/fuse before handling anything that might even look like it might have electricity associated with it. This is such a serious safety issue, I will not comment on the details to how I go about the task, as your needs may be quite different. - While I am on a topic of safety, I try to remember to wear a vent mask to help lessen my exposure to harmful illnesses like the hantavirus. I usually forget the mask, and end up utilizing a piece of cloth.

Other items I utilize to help lessen hazards are the use of hand held radios. These serve as suitable communication between my husband and I. Due to his disability, he can not take the actions I am able body to do. Fortunately, he is very experienced and has a good brain. He talks me through trouble shooting tasks, and provides the guidance to reduce risk to shock and other potential accidents that I might other wise experience. During hazardous weather, electronic communications are a must. Other folks might prefer a cell phone for outside contact. At times, when I must walk to the pump house due to inaccessibility with a vehicle, I usually carry a cell phone too.
About every two to three months, I usually go down to check on things. To check on the pump house, all I have to do is remove the lid at the roof, and peek in. Most of the time, there is something going on as evidenced by the appearance of nests. So then it is time to hop in if I am prepped for it, otherwise, I return with the proper clothing, mask, etc.

I have tried the usual pesticide offerings for rats such as D-CON, loose bait trays, anchored bait blocks, traps, and bug bombs. For a variety of reasons, the results tend to be limited. Sure the rats eat the bait. It seems, I can hardly keep enough poison available. It is like a smorgasbord for rats on blood thinners. Now for those lovely boxes of Moth Balls. The bigger the box the better. One 24 ounce box of Enoz brand moth balls seems to work fairly well for our pump house interior measuring approximately 5x8x6 ft high. Yet, I am sort of the overkill type. I use two boxes. One of them I fully sprinkle out. The second I open and anchor down. The smell of the room is very strong and toxic, so I try to limit my exposure. 

The pack rats on our farm here in Kansas do not seem to favor moth balls, and this is good. I must caution you, that the moth balls need to be sprinkled. When I have left the moth ball box open and sitting neatly unanchored, it becomes the next big toy. On one occasion, the box was found in the process of being relocated. Don’t ask me how they do it.

Additionally, I might add a short note about snakes. I have not had that problem. A few of my neighbors have. Perhaps, I am just lucky, and perhaps the moth balls have something to do with my luck. Granted, if I had snakes, I probably would not have the intensity of pack rats to deal with. But, if I had to pick between snakes and pack rats, I would pick the rats.

This is a good time to present the topic of rat prevention maintenance. Basically, keep the pump house closed - don’t walk away and leave the entry door open to run back to the shop for another tool. Check the side walls, corners, overlaps and any other place you can think off for possible entry sources. Don’t get too far behind with repairing insulation. Insulation is another term or rat dessert. Also, keep an eye on the roof with layers that may begin to lift during high wind.

Now for what happens when I do not keep up with pack rat prevention and maintenance.  One fine day the water just stops running to the house. Shortly before Christmas, such a thing happened one more time. At first I misdiagnosed the problem- I thought it was an air pressure issue due to the cattle drinking from the stock tank. The real problem ended up being a ruptured line buried someplace between the pump house and the shop. Yet, when following up on the water issues, I got to inspecting the pump house. Down I went. I hauled off two 5 gallon buckets of rat waste and nesting supplies. I also hauled off a variety of plumbing supplies, some of which  I learned later were suppose to remain in the pump house for adding air to the well. I ended up tossing the contents of the buckets and was unable to retrieve them successfully. So off I went to the hardware store for more supplies and I returned to add air. The husband was not happy (note: husband is paralyzed due to stroke).

No Water:
A loss of water pressure or a loss of running water is often a sign of problems in the well house. Shortly after the Christmas event with the water line, the pipe was repaired. Two weeks passed and we were off line on water once again. Down to the pump house I go. I notice the rat trays have been reshuffled, and not much more. The temp gauge inside showed 13 or so degrees. Oops. Not good. Compared to the 8 degrees outside, the temp problem was not obvious to me until I looked at the gauge. I could feel the cold air blowing in from where the rats has chewed. I began bending my head and peaking around. Light was coming in, and some rather large holes where providing ample access to the bitter cold wind. The pressure tank was freezing up. 

Our neighbors came to lend a hand. They arrived with a propane tank and hand torch. The pressure tank is made of plastic. CW climbed in and warmed the nearby iron bench, as well as the ground around the unit. He took care to avoid a fire by removing the loose dry grasses and brush  that I had not fully emptied out prior.

After the propane heater went to work, a 1,500 Watt electric heater was carried in and turned on high. I stuffed the holes with a pair of pants that were in the car. The battery on the farm truck was froze. The 10 inches of snow that had fallen during that night and morning was varied due to drifts. I was concerned about getting the Toyota Yaris stuck. I asked the neighbors to keep an eye on me and make sure I cleared the pasture gate.

Later that day, I drove down again. It was still bitter cold. I opened the door and climbed into check the temp. The temp showed 20 degrees. Ouch. Still too cold. I take my scrap bag of quilt batting from the vehicle and begin stuffing it in anywhere I could. My multi-tool came in handy. Before leaving, I checked the heat lamp to be sure is was the right bulb - 200 watts. It was, but when the tank began to thaw earlier, it had trouble - off and on. The bulb had started to break due to the violent shaking. It was barely hanging on. Fortunately, I had one along just in case. I changed it out and hoped for the best for the temp to rise. Back at the farm house, I had every faucet on at a line trickle. Drip-drips don’t cut it when it gets too much colder than 10 above with howling wind.

Overall, the water to the farm house did ok in the days to come. The sinks and toilets kept working. The wash machine however had its issues. It is positioned on a North wall and our home is not insulated the modern way, just old dirt that blew in during the dust bowl days. Waking up to icy water in the pet’s bowls and our toilet bowls is not unheard of.

Patching Up and Wrapping Up:
So it finally warms up. I get the spray foam out. I prefer “Geocel” brand expanding foam sealant to other brands. It just handles better on metal application. I did not heed the warning label about wearing gloves this last time. The residue left the skin blackish for a few days. Avoid getting it on your face and hair too. Next time, I might consider latex free medical gloves. I keep a box on hand in the shop.

This about wraps up my story about pack rats in the pump house. I would like to  close with a brief snapshot of what happened in the Spring. Like always, I made a bunch of noise and rattled a tool on the galvanize tin roof before entering. I like to give the rats enough notice to leave if they can manage. I then paused a moment so nothing ends up jumping at me, and then preceded to enter cautiously.

It was a full house that day in the pump house. I was so aggravated, and thankfully dressed for the occasion. I could hear and see the rats at eye level once I landed in. My mouth was covered, and I wore a scarf around most my face. My clothing was thick. The gloves I wore were leather, the heavy winter type. A quick glance inside, and it was obvious that a fire hazard was in the making. Thick nests of grasses and other soft materials were snuggly stuffed between the stringers, walls, and electric outlets. The protrusions came inward as much as two feet. I was fearful as I slowly grabbed at the piles. I then took a few steps to the opening, stepped up on a metal object within, and tossed. I repeated this action 8 to 10 times.

Finally, I had had enough. There were still two rats running here and there as I moved about in clearing the debris. They remained at eye level along the top of the wall. I was ready to leave, and one of the rats wouldn’t budge. It stayed positioned on the wall ladder that I wished to climb to get the hood. I stepped around it, and gave care to where I place my hands. I’m out! I’m mad. So I lean over and grab the pest by the tail. The tail falls off in my hand, and I think to myself, “Now what?” I leave, and then later start to feel little bad about the rat’s tail. It was my intention to toss the pack rat out, not pack out with a rat’s tail. 

I hope you enjoyed this little story about my experiences with pack rats, and why they can become a serious implication to keeping the water flowing. I now try to keep extra pump house supplies on hand, such as, 200 watt bulbs, a heater, rat bait, moth balls and spray insulation. And, I can usually pick up the spray insulation on the cheap after the winter cold spell. 

Wheat, cereal, and bread--the staff of life--is considered a cornerstone staple for human nutrition.  It played the lead role in the food pyramids we were taught in school.  But in truth, wheat is an inferior and “dirty” protein source.  And, the two people who know this best are allergists and athletes.

Eighty percent of our immune system is in our gut.  And this makes sense, because humans have eaten a lot of foul, rancid, germ-ridden, nasty things over the course of our evolution.  And before nutrients are assimilated into our bodies, the intestines act as our first immunological line of defense to protect us from the multitude of foreign invaders contained in our food and drink.

The protein found in wheat is a large molecule that in often mistaken in many people’s digestive tracts as a foreign substance to be fought.  Indeed, gliadin--a molecule that is found in wheat protein--is the exact same molecule found on the surface of the adenovirus, which is a common cause of lung infections.  It triggers an immune reaction as if the body were under viral assault, with the result possibly being chronic systemic inflammation, Leaky Gut Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and even rheumatoid arthritis. It is why gluten free diets are in vogue in recent years.

Why Wheat's Prominence?

The big selling point for wheat is that it is yummy.  There is no denying that warm cookies, pizza or pancakes are comfort foods without equal.  So, if you were a despot concerned with quelling potential revolution, keeping the peasants’ bellies full becomes a priority. Grains produce high, reliable yields that can be stored for long periods. (Is it any wonder why so many Asians eat copious amounts of rice?)  But grains--particularly wheat, barley and rye--are highly allergenic.  You’ll live on them, but not optimally.  It is the classic example of quantity over quality.  Fundamentally, grains are mere subsistence food.

Grains are a product of the Agrarian Revolution of a mere 10,000 years ago.  But, we as a species have been evolving over a period of millions of years.  Gastroenterologist, Walter L. Voegtlin, in 1975, pointed out that our evolutionary diets were devoid of grains and refined sugars that are linked to multiple digestive problems like colitis and Crohn’s disease.  He sparked a movement in what has been termed as the Paleolithic diet, Stone Age diet or Hunter-gatherer diet.  The premise being that our bodies are designed and adapted best to what we have been eating for the past 2.5 million years--like meat, fish, nuts, roots, vegetables, fruit, and berries-- and not the “unnatural” modern inventions of grains, refined sugar, and processed oils.

Athletes Know This Wisdom

The modern athlete is like the warrior/hunter of yesteryear.  Athletes need to have the highest quality nutrients for optimal performance.  And high quality protein to build and maintain lean muscle is essential.  What elite athletes look for is nutrient density.  Or, packing as much pro-health, pro-performance nutrition into each calorie consumed as is possible.

As a former football defensive lineman, rower, and discus/shot put thrower, I learned quickly that the key to staying strong and injury-free was the right protein, which could be determined by it’s bioavailability (BV).  BV measures how effectively the body can absorb and use the protein source to build and repair muscle tissue.

Initially, the top protein was thought to be eggs, and scientists assigned it a BV value of 100.  Here is the quick breakdown of common protein sources:

Whey, BV 104
Egg, BV 100
Cow's milk, BV 91
Egg white, BV 88
Beef, BV 80
Fish, BV 79
Chicken, BV 77
Soy, BV 74
Potato, BV 71
Rice, BV 59
Wheat, BV 54
Beans, BV 49
Peanuts, BV 43

So those who have prepared emergency food stores may know the importance of protein, but too often they turn to those with lower bio-availability, like peanut butter, beans and rice, wheat, or TMP or textured meat protein from soy.   Additionally, processed soy presents another problem. Soybean protein lacks one essential amino acid called methionine making it incomplete.  Many manufacturers add it back but use hexane and other toxic chemicals in the process, which are not safe.

The Ideal Crisis Meal

In a time of crisis, when survival becomes a daily issue, you will become an athlete whether you are ready or not--greater physical labor, more walking, carrying water, gardening, and physical labor.  You may be in shape and physically prepared, or you may struggle to meet the new physical demands, but rest assured your dietary requirements will move more towards the athletic spectrum and away from the lesser demands of modern sedentary life.

Athletes are smart about nutrition. They know that maximum muscle growth, with the emphasis on lean tissue, requires the highest quality proteins, taken in greater amounts than that needed by someone who doesn't exercise.

(Now you may have seen endurance athletes like marathon runners or Tour de France cyclists who can eat all form of high-caloric junk food like doughnuts or soda pop.  But, these athletes are only looking for caloric fuel for one specific race.  The proverbial “carbo-load” scenario.  For us mere mortals who don’t need to climb the Pyrenees at peak speed, our extra caloric boost is easily supplied by reserves in our love handles or thighs.)

Cornerstone food storage recommendations do not recognize the need for high bioavailable proteins during a TEOTWAWKI situation.  The view is towards long-term storage-ability and meeting the basic requirements of the appropriate balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein.   The problem is that when athletes build or maintain muscle mass the one thing you will never find on their training table is wheat, peanut butter, or TVP proteins.  They know to consume animal products like chicken, fish or steak that, but without refrigeration, they spoil rapidly and are not viable long-term storage choices.  Luckily, for us, however, the top three bioavailable proteins--whey, egg, and milk--lend themselves perfectly to dehydration and freeze-dry techniques that ensures long shelf lives.

The Best Whey

The king of proteins is whey.  Yes that “whey” from the nursery rhyme: “Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey..”  (Curds and whey = cottage cheese.)  Whey is the rich protein left over after the cheese making process.  Whey is ideal for human health.  Interestingly, human milk is 60% whey and 40% casein protein whereas cow milk is 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein.  So humans seem to have a natural predilection for whey.

Whey is the “anti-wheat” because whereas wheat is thought to contribute to a myriad of health problems--in as much as 80% of the population--whey is like a magic health tonic.  Studies have shown some incredible things about whey.  First, consumption of whey can increase cellular glutathione levels.  Glutathione is the body’s most powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage and against certain toxins. So it is no surprise that studies have shown whey to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic.  Whey studies show positive effects in cellular function, stress reduction, mental clarity, appetite control, bone and muscle health, as well as cholesterol and blood pressure regulation. Indeed, whey is now one of the most heavily researched nutritional sources.

The Survivalist's Thrive Shake

What I have concocted below is a complete ultra-healthy meal that can be made in a few minutes. It centers on the concept of nutrient dense food---the highest nutritive benefit per calorie consumed:

The Thrive Shake

*  Reconstituted powdered/freeze dried milk as the base, approximately 10 ounces * 

2 Tbsp of whey protein powder * 

1 Tbsp whole egg powder (Yes, yokes contain important fats that should be included.) * 

1 Tbsp coconut milk powder (can substitute canned coconut milk or coconut flakes) * 

1 Tbsp fruit/veggie powder * 

1 Tsp cocoa powder * 

1 Tsp honey * 

1 Tsp chia seed

(In a pinch, if it is impractical to use an electric blender the ingredients can be placed in a large jar and vigorously shaken.)

This shake should be part of everyone’s diet, even during the best of times because of it’s healthful benefits.  (I’d venture to say its better than 99.9% of what people put in their bodies.) 


Protein:  This three protein combination--milk, egg and whey-- works synergistically.  Together they are known as a “whey protein blend” and create a BV between 105-160.  They form a "time release" or "sustained release" matrix, which is ideal, as whey proteins absorb rapidly and the other proteins absorb slower over time.

Coconut:  Coconuts contain healthful fats.  Lauric acid composes 50% of the fat, which converts to monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin is an antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride that can destroy lipid-coated viruses such as herpes and influenza. It is also an excellent energy source.

Fruit/Veggie Powder:  There is a wide array of these powders available, and the nutritional benefit corresponds to the spectrum of ingredients.  Cherry powder acts as an anti-inflammatory.  Blueberry and Pomegranate powders are high in antioxidants.  Black raspberry shows anti-carcinogenic benefit.  Green vegetable powders are natural detoxifiers.  Each powder will impart an added flavor and can add variety. 

Cocoa:  Studies show that cocoa is richer in antioxidants than more publicized drinks like tea and red wine (cocoa has three times more antioxidants than tea).   Cocoa powder has also been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow in humans and to fight heart disease and aging.  Also, extremely important in a survival situation, cocoa contains phenylethylamine, which is a mood elevator akin to amphetamine type substances.

Honey:  Honey is a food that never spoils!  Additionally, it is a nutritive powerhouse containing vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and C, as well as the minerals magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulfur, iron and phosphate (in trace amounts copper, iodine, and zinc).  It is a natural energy booster.

Chia Seed:  Chia seeds contains six times more calcium than milk.  They are a superior source of fiber, which can absorb over 12 times its weight in water (flax seed only absorbs 6-8 times).   Chia seeds contain the powerful antioxidants chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and coumaric acid which play a major role in cancer prevention.  Most important is the oil profile it adds to the shake.  It is the richest vegetable source for the essential omega-3 fatty acid--three to ten times the oil concentrations of most grains.

This shake is extremely useful during TEOTWAWKI situations.  First, all ingredients can be stored refrigerated for many years, and some without refrigeration.  Second, all ingredients can be found in powdered form and can be premixed (yes, they actually make powdered honey). Third, it is the most nutrient dense food per weight packed, if a bug out situation is called for. 

Best Source of Whey Powder

Whey protein is ubiquitous in body building protein powders.  One caveat: bodybuilders are notoriously abusive to their bodies.  One need look no further the rampant steroid abuse in the “sport.”  Many bodybuilding supplement protein powders are full of unhealthy substances like artificial sweeteners (always avoid aspartame-it is dangerous!).  More alarming, however, Consumer Reports testing found that due to improper safety controls they found many body building powders were contaminated with toxic heavy metals.  Make sure the manufacturer is highly reputable.  I use pure whey powder (nothing added) manufactured in New Zealand, which maintains strict quality standards.  


During a time of peril, I want my food to support my survival in every way possible.  I want premium high-quality nutrients.  In a time of collapse or chaos, I want to perform at the peak of my abilities.  I need sustained energy with all the tools to build, maintain and repair my cells and tissues. The “Thrive Shake” achieves those ends.

Survival of the fittest truly means the fittest.  Not the flabbiest. This shake sacrifices nothing in taste for huge nutritional benefit.  To function at peak levels--especially during periods of high stress--a peanut butter sandwich just won’t cut it!

Just a brief note in relation to the recent post regarding gasification. In researching the issue further, I found on Wikipedia's wood gas generator article that producer gas should not be compressed beyond 15 psi due to liquefaction of some of the compounds and the possibility of severe carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the event of a leak. I like the idea of storing the gas for future use, but care and caution should be used. My suggestion would be to store the gas in an outdoor location far removed from people and animals to prevent health issues if the storage container were to leak. After further research I found that large canvas balloons or bags were a low-pressure, high-volume method of storing producer gas when it was used as an automobile fuel, [during World War II]. - Gregory R.

Carbon monoxide exposure is a major risk with Wood gassifiers. Positive ventilation and redundant battery operated CO detectors should be employed if there is any closed space or near closed space usage (Garages, Barns, living spaces etc)

A caution is required on the idea of storing Wood gas under pressure. Wood gas is composed of typically CO 22%; H2 18%; CH4 3%, CO2 6% and N2 51% Gasholder (Water displacement) vessels are the only recommended form storage due to the risk of precipitating volatile elements in an ordinary pressure vessel. PSI above 15 lbs should likewise be avoided. I would be very cautious about using an ordinary compressor as the piston could generate momentary pressures well in excess of the outlet reading. Further heat and cylinder lubrication introduce further potentially combustible uncertainties.

Readers will find much useful info and links available - Dollardog


JWR Adds: Also keep in mind that creosote, coal tar, and some related concentrates from wood combustion have been identified as possible carcinogens. Therefore, take the appropriate precautions. Whether you are cleaning your own chimney or working on gasifier equipment, always wear a dust mask and rubber gloves.

K.A.F. was the first of several readers send this: Armed Beauty Queen Fatally Shoots Intruder in Florida Home Invasion. Don't miss the bad OPSEC mentioned near the end of the article.

   o o o

Libya: UN air strikes aid rebels. JWR Notes: I still have a lot of "cui bono?" questions about this military adventure. Why are the French so heavily involved? What reconstructions deals were made, in order to create the coalition? Why was Germany so incensed that they withdrew their troops from NATO? Is Gaddafi's gold reserve an issue? How about the Libyan Dinar? (Were there plans to make it a gold-backed currency? That would have been an embarrassment to all the other nations that issue fiat.) Why is there a double standard with other Arab dictatorships? What is Al Qaeda's involvement? And the 64-Dollar Question: What sort of government will replace Gaddafi's dictatorship? Perhaps a dictatorial Islamic caliphate? IMHO, the Iraq war was bad enough, in lacking an exit strategy, but this seems even worse--with no certain end game or even a clear victor. Cui bono? Cui bono?

   o o o

History repeats rhymes: "From the Halls of Montezuma to shores of Tripoli."

   o o o

Simple Demographics: Detroit's Population Crashes

   o o o

Tokyo tap water not safe for infants, officials warn

"If you are a warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be “on” 24/7 for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself... 'Baa.' "- LTC David A. Grossman, "On Combat", 2004

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have always been fascinated with history and might have become a history teacher if there had been any possibility of making substantial money at it.  Growing up in the 1950s and ‘1960s in rural Texas the lessons of the U.S. “Great Depression” were still fresh in the memories of my family, so our frequent family get gatherings produced many stories from those days, some of which were “not so good old days”. 

I want to relate some of this story for the benefit of those preparing for possible future, harder times:

There was no money.  For a few years before 1920 Grandpa Robert had been a successful cotton farmer and had put away his profits in the local First National Bank.  But after boll weevils hit Texas, the soil was depleted and cotton prices plunged, he had to move on to other pursuits.  My uncles often said the only time they ever saw Grandpa cry was when the bank went bust during the run of 1929.  He had been standing in a long line of farmers and townspeople for several hours before the announcement was made that the bank was finished.  On the other hand, I believe the bank still held a partially unpaid loan on his 87-acre farm which he and Grandma had bought in 1914 for $500.  LESSON: Be flexible, and don’t count on the bank.

It was actually Grandma who made the deal for the farm, as when they looked at it only a quarter of a mile from their rented farm, Grandpa said it was too expensive, and he would not borrow the additional money to buy it.  But Grandma knew the potential the land possessed.  So after Grandpa left for a long day in the fields, Grandma walked back to the owner’s house and cut the deal.   When Grandpa came home that night, he was surprised, but pleased at the same time.  LESSON: A woman’s intuition and business savvy is a valuable asset.

I am not sure how, but the bank did not foreclose on that farm during the lean years and Grandpa at least paid the taxes religiously.  Grandpa always said, “If you pick up all the pecans each year, you can at least pay your taxes.”  And if the money was not plentiful, what the family had went to pay their obligations. The bank president reportedly told him, “Robert, just do the best you can.”  And he did.  LESSON: Be careful to preserve and conserve every resource.

The family of 9, with 5 boys and 2 girls was flexible if anything.  When the railroad started buying coal from a small mining operation in the town 4 miles away, they found that the miners needed props and caps to keep the shafts open.  The woods in their bottomland became the source of materials for a small new industry: sturdy young willow trees, cut to order, became prop timbers, and flat sections of cottonwood trees, cut like cedar shakes were the caps.  These were delivered by wagon and mules and later with their used Model T dump truck. Unfortunate in the early 1930s the railroad converted from coal to oil fired locomotives and the prop and cap business ended.  LESSON: Find out what others need and provide it.  But don’t count on it lasting forever.

Grandpa always had two teams of mules as well a few working horses.  These were critical to plowing, cultivating, and harvesting as well as other pulling chores.  When the dirt road into town got wet, and the nearby clay hill was impossible for the automobiles to climb, the boys were always ready to give a pull with a team of mules, day or night.  LESSON: Animal power multiplies human power and sometimes is better than mechanical power.

Their bottomland held another treasure: sand and gravel.  Grandpa and his brother had a conveniently located sand pit, near a road and could dig sand and gravel by shovel.   They could deliver it to most any construction site in the county.  When one of my uncles wanted to go to college, Grandpa traded sand and gravel to the local college for tuition, instead of cash.  The college used the sand and gravel to build a rock wall around the football field so they could enforce admission fees at the games.  You see, Texas football has always been a popular sport and the college knew it was losing a lot of revenue by letting the fans stand outside and watch thru the wire fence.   LESSON: Think outside the box; when possible find ways to barter for what you really need.

Corn was always a staple crop for the family, the first among several important plantings.  Down in the fertile bottomland a harvest of the dried ears of corn were said to be able to fill a whole wagon with the produce from only one row of corn.  The corn was carefully stored away in the corn crib and used as needed all year long.  One of my uncles was often designated to periodically pull out some corn, shell it in the hand-cranked sheller, and then sack it up in two equal bags.  The bags were lashed together by rope and thrown over the rear of the mule.  Then he rode the mule into town to have the corn ground into meal at the store.  The miller kept a portion for his trouble, and my uncle rode the mule back home with the corn meal.  This corn became the basis for a week or more of meals of cornbread and beans, the main fare for the whole family.  Sweet corn could also be cooked, then cut off the cob and dehydrated in the sun in a day or two.  Stored completely dry in canning jars, when reconstituted and cooked it was a delicious treat.  LESSON:  Corn can keep you alive; it must be the first among survival grains.
Grandma must have been an efficiency genius.  She always had a pot of beans on the back of the stove.   Unlike many of their city cousins, the family seemed to always have enough food to get by.  The relatives from the bigger towns would come out to the farm on weekends to visit, eat and to stock up on the abundance.  LESSON: You can survive indefinitely on cornbread and beans, and if you have food, your relatives will want to visit often!

Christian charity was always a part of our family values, and it was particularly applicable to any extended family in need.  No passing stranger was refused a meal. And in a couple of instances young men in their teens with no family stayed on for a year or two, working, eating and sleeping like one of the brothers.  LESSON:  Alliances and charity are okay, but everybody must work.

| My uncles were good hunters always seeming to know which woods contained a few squirrels, an opossum or raccoon; additionally they always seemed to know when certain landowners were away from their property.  The family joke was that a boy would be given one cartridge for the single shot .22 caliber rifle, and the family would be disappointed if he came home with anything less than two squirrels.  My dad knew how to get a squirrel out of a hollow in a tree by climbing the tree and using a length of barbed wire stuck in the hole and rotated around and around.  The hunters from town always gave him a nickel or a dime for climbing the tree to help them get their squirrel.  LESSON:  Hunting is a skill that must be developed, but there are other ways to get game besides shooting it.

Canning was an important skill practiced anytime there was excess.  The garden produced large quantities of beans, peaches, and other fruits and vegetables.  The dug storm cellar just outside the back door was always packed with jars of fruit preserves, jellies, jams, and vegetables.  When the wild plums on a nearby place became ripe, the neighbors sent word that the joint harvest could begin.  Half gallon canning jars were helpful when feeding a family of 9 or 10.  Canning a batch of 50 or more jars (quart and half gallon) of each commodity was not uncommon. Used sparingly it could last until spring. LESSON: Use all food sources available and think big if you have a lot of mouths to feed.     

Things were different back then.  When times were hard they just “made do with what you had” and or did without.  Shoes were for school and church only.  When possible barefoot was the order of the day.  After shoes were well used, they were re-heeled and re-soled.  Family members handed down clothes and shoes to younger members as a matter of course.  Without electricity kerosene lanterns had to suffice.  Fire wood had to be kept split and dry.  Kindling was critical.  A smoke house was essential for preserving pork.  Butchering hogs was almost always in November and December.   Apple butter made in the fall can last all winter in 1 gallon crock jars.   And it tastes great on bread, toast, hot cakes, buckwheat cakes, etc.  Unlike regular flour pancakes, making buckwheat cakes requires a bit of yeast. But once it is started, more buckwheat flour can be added daily and the yeast will keep multiplying.   LESSON:  Make do and work hard.

Baths were for Saturday so you would be clean for church.  Outside showers were standard as long as the weather permitted.  Well water was for drinking so a swim in the nearby stock pond or down in the creek often substituted for a real bath.  Fishing was an important skill essential for providing supplements for much needed protein and vitamins.  An outhouse was standard for the family with both white and red corn cobs being carefully conserved to use in place of toilet paper.   LESSON:  Living well does not have to mean living in convenience and luxury. 

Nobody wants to return to the challenging times of a hundred years ago, but living the survival life is a challenge that can be mastered.  To be prepared we must study, practice and preserve the knowledge used by our predecessors and be willing to innovate, working and praying constantly. 

I'm writing this in an effort to encourage others who might be in the process of, or thinking about moving to a full time retreat.

Our situation is not unique.   In the spring of 2008 we saw the writing on the wall (economic, political, and social trends) and we wanted out of the suburbs and into a full time retreat in the country side.  We are a family of four that includes two boys in their early teens. My wife and I had great jobs, we lived in a planned community that was 30 miles away from the big city in 2003, but by 2007, the city sprawl of this large southwestern metropolis had encircled us.  We had moved from the central coast of California five years earlier to escape the masses, but the masses followed.  We have been active peppers’ since 1999 and as husband and wife we are very fortunate to be like minded and on the “same team”.  The purpose of this letter to twofold: (1) to share our mistakes and successes and (2) to encourage those who, given their circumstances, think it is impossible to move to greater safely.  Fortunately my wife’s occupation in the medical field was highly transportable, while my background in manufacturing and the military was not.

Step one (1), start with the math. I mean the Dollars math, not the mileage. Moving will cost you, but it may save you more in the long run than you can imagine.  Take time to create a spreadsheet and add all your savings, liquid assets, and home equity together and deduct all of your liabilities (including your estimated moving and selling costs).  If you’re positive, with a reasonable sum left over, go to step two.  Do not fudge the math.  Honesty and truth are critical.  If the resources are not available, continue to prepare, and remember your circumstances may change in the near future.

Step two (2), Search your heart.  Do you feel lead to make this move?  Have you weighed the costs?  Do you have family, contractual, or spiritual obligations that cannot be broken? Are you and the members of your family willing to sacrifice and endure hardship to make this move?  Only if you and your spouse both feel in your heart that this is the right action to take, should you go to step three.

Step three (3), select retreat area(s).  Limit the parameters of your search based on your finances and your potential for an income stream high enough to sustain you.  Location is the most critical concern you have, so be sure the area(s) you are considering are within your means.  Our search criteria: a minimum of 30 acres, small home & barn, reliable well, forested, remote location in a low population area, no 150,000+ population cities in a 200 mile radius, annual rainfall of 35” or more, 170 plus frost free growing days, agriculturally-based economy,  gun friendly, Bible belt preferred, all for under $125,000.  Look for areas with property prices within your reach and that meet your search parameters.  Keep in mind that there are few jobs in rural America, and even fewer good paying jobs. But also weigh this with the possibility of much lower living expenses and taxes.  Use the internet to help locate and narrow down your choices.  Talk with friends and associates who may have lived in the area you are considering.  Many areas have regional blogs that may give you better insight, but take the time to validate what you reading.  Once you have narrowed down the area(s) try to visit them, money and time permitting.  Read "Patriots", "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", “One Second After”, and Revelation chapters 6-through-20.  Once committed to moving, continue to pray talk about it, then go to step 4.

Step four (4), the hard one, Sell it all.  If you have what it takes (resources, desire, and dedication), then make the move.  Put your house on the market, sell all of your unnecessary toys, and prepare for a rough and stressful ride.  Be prepared that family and friends will want to know “why”, so just keep it simple “it’s the best thing for the family”.  Select your listing agent very wisely and do not use a friend unless they are the absolute most professional choice you can make.  Start getting rid of your junk (large dumpster recommended), donate anything of value, and start packing non-essential items.  Clean you house inside and out, get it inspected, and fix all major deficiencies (if possible).  Moving yourself is a lot of work but it will save you a lot of money.  Ask for friends help, you will soon know who your true friends are.  At the same time carefully select an agent(s) who will work for you in the retreat area(s) you are considering.  Give them all the pertinent property specifications you are looking for and remember they work for you. Take advantage of bank owned properties and don’t be surprised if they accept your $80,000 cash offer on a farm listed for $130,000.  Steer clear of “short sales--have your agent explain that to you.  Money left over will be important in order to turn the new property into a retreat.  Only after you have received a validated and accepted offer on your existing home, should you move forward with the serious intent to buy your retreat property.  Prepare for the stress and anxiety of what you are about to face.  I am not an agent, but make every effort necessary to select a good one who has the experience, integrity, and patience that is required to walk you through the pitfalls. 

Step five (5), the move.  Just when you thought the roller coaster was almost finished: there is more packing, last minute house fixes, loading the moving van, transferring bank accounts, kids school records, final inspections, discontinuing all your home services, transfer house funds, setting up services for new house, the long drive, signing lots of paperwork, unloading the moving van, and moving in.  Plan before you act.   Accurately assess your moving van requirements and do not forget your vehicles and large items like quads or boats.  Moving is very hard, complicated, and stressful to say the least, but it can be done and it will be over soon. 

Step six (6), ready the retreat.  After moving in and getting your new home livable, start working on making your new home into a retreat.  Focus on the areas that are most critical first, like grid down water supply, water purification, food (stored and grown), security, temporary power, and heat.  Once the important items are completed, move onto the secondary items like chicken coops, adding live stock, expanding the garden, next year’s firewood, more fences, shooting range, fields of fire, escape routes, and most importantly, making friends.  Volumes could be written on this, but plan out your priorities, take your time, do a good job, and don’t burn yourself out.  Use the archives on SurvivalBlog to assist you.  Seek out trusted local experts who are willing to give you guidance on animals, gardening, canning, harvesting wood, hunting, and expanding you retreat.

In closing: With God’s help we moved from the suburbs to a remote farm in the Ozarks.  We only have a few neighbors, but it is amazing on how friendly and self- sufficient they are and how much we have learned from them this past year.  Our kids have not only adjusted to the move, but really enjoy the life-style change we have made and both are active in 4H and FFA plus we all hunt and fish on or near our property.  Our living costs have dropped by 70%, and our larder will soon be at the two year mark.  The painful hardships of selling in a down market and moving across the country are past us and we have gained a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and peace.  Albeit, a guarded peace. 

Days Two and Three I slept well the night of 11-3-11, which was good, because I hadn't the two previous nights. A premonition, perhaps? Like the day after September 11th, there was an eerie feeling everywhere. The weather was nice, at least in Tokyo, but a cold front was coming in from the North, so the folks near the Tohoku coast were going to be suffering even more. It was obvious that the damage was off the charts, but the television downplayed the likely deaths, and a big question was whether the government had learned from its poor performance during the large earthquake in Kobe in 1995. We didn't know at this time, but the unfortunate answer was "no". In fairness, this disaster was much more difficult to handle, but the whole world will be asking about the inability to get resources to the Fukushima plants ASAP.

In the morning, many stores were closed. When they did open, they were packed with folks buying everything that might come in handy for hunkering down. This was the last chance to get a lot of things. By the end of Day Three, many things were gone, and announcements were made on television that supplies would have to be rerouted towards the most damaged areas. At this point, most convenience stores and supermarkets resembled photos from the worst days in the Soviet Union, at least for most necessities. The power was reliable, and trains and subways started to return to some semblance of normality by the evening. There was no panic but it was easy to see that gasoline and types of food were not going to be available within days.

The news was focused on the immediate damage. Besides the tsunami, there was cleaning up the fires and making major roads passable and fixing train tracks. All kinds of equipment had to be verified, so disaster preparedness teams in businesses and governments went to work. This seems to have gone well, and the volunteer groups did a good job, but it seems that most groups are a lot more effective in local areas, and the hard-to-get-to areas were too devastated to do much more than try to go through what was left of their own houses. My wife wondered about volunteering, but there was no way to get to the hard-hit areas, and one would just be an extra burden by getting there.

Up to this point, things still looked manageable. Soon, though, the topic of electricity came up. A lot of Tokyo's power comes from nuclear plants, and those were near the ocean. The assumption was still that everything was under control. Wishful thinking. On the street though, the feeling was mainly that the economic future had taken a huge hit, not that a nuclear crisis was at hand. That was to come soon enough. And refugees from the impacted areas were coming in to stay with relatives or hotels, and some passed through on their way to western Japan, where no damage had occurred. For me, though, it was time to get more cash out of the bank and think about whether our plans to leave Tokyo needed to be expedited. (To be continued.)

The mainstream media finally catches on: Special Report: Disasters show flaws in just-in-time production

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More civilian disarmament bills before the Illinois legislature. Among other things, a ban on 11+ round magazines, a ban on .50 caliber or larger rifles, and a loosely-worded ban on most semi-automatic rifles and shotguns!

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Rick H. mentioned this: Ramen Hacks: 30+ Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Instant Noodles

"Live every day as if it is your last, for one day you’re sure to be right." - Edward Woodward, portraying Harry Harbord Morant, in the movie Breaker Morant, 1980. Screenplay by

Jonathan Hardy, David Stevens, and Bruce Beresford, based on the stage play by Kenneth G. Ross

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

What will you do when your fuel runs out, or your energy system fails? How about burning wood? I used to dismiss burning things for energy off-hand as a dirty and wasteful heating tool, nothing more - not a source of actual power or energy.  However, learning what I have in the past few months has given me a new appreciation for this readily-available resource.  My perspective was changed somewhat, and it was kind of a shock to me, because i'm pretty open-minded to alternative solutions.  My mindset is this: until I have a wealth of  food and supplies in storage, I can’t afford to ignore a resource – especially cheap and renewable ones.  Can you?   Even if you’re prepared for the long haul, it pays to have a couple contingency plans, and this could be one of them.  

"Gasification" is the use of heat to transform solid biomass or other carbonaceous solids into a synthetic “natural gas like” flammable fuel.  "woodgas" is the term usually applied to the fuel itself.  The basic idea isn’t a new idea as much as it is an improvement on the basic principle of burning biomass for heat and light (like a fireplace); in fact, this has been around for more than 100 years.  A “gasifier” is typically a multi-tank design that burns wood to create gas, cleans it, and cools it before it is used.  And here's the clincher: when done properly, and routed to an engine or a storage container, the gasses can be used to power machinery and (drum roll please) your off-grid home power system.    

The use of woodgas really became popular with the proliferation of the automobile, when inventors modified internal combustion engines to run off everything imaginable, including peanut oil, steam, and compressed air (a subject for another article).  Gasification came into widespread use during the fuel crisis of WWII as well as during the OPEC fuel problems of a few decades ago, and the ever-increasing fuel prices make it just as relevant right now.   There are a couple industrial power plants in places like Svenljunga, Sweden and Gussing, Austria, but this is a version that can be made small enough for personal use.   

Building your own:
I’m going to stick to the details of my own experience, since that's more beneficial for you than simply sharing the research; you can find pictures and details online yourself, and you're welcome to email me for suggestions.  Anyway, since my new goal is to convert everything of mine to run on woodgas(or a mixture of fuels), I decided to start small and work with a simple woodgas stove.  The stove idea works like this, to give you an example:  

Start with a small enclosed container, which could be cubed or round.  I picked a barbecue propane tank, since they are easy to acquire and had the right size.  The next major element is the flue and/or fuel inlet.  (I picked 4'' steel stainless pipe).  This I cut into 2 sections and welded into an "L" shape.  The bottom emerges from the side, and the top emerges from the center of the tank.  The third step would be to add a fuel tray, like in a fireplace.  (I stuck with the barbeque theme and used part of a barbecue grill, cut to fit)  This I inserted through the side (where you'll put your wood fuel) and tack welded in the center (little lower) of the pipe.

And that's pretty much all there was to it.  I welded up the edges, where the pipe meet the container, and it worked like a charm.(Though in the absence of a welder you can get by just fine with a tube of high-temperature automotive caulk, like Gasket Goo)  This is something that can be made in your garage or metal shop with a welder and a saw, although you don't have to follow my design - test models can be built out of soup cans or soda cans, with little or no fabrication.

You can imagine how it works, in principle; it’s quite similar to your chimney at home.  This air flow is the same reason that campers will build a fire in a ‘tent’ shape.  Once the fire is lit, hot air rises, drawing cold air into the vacuum.  I made mine so that I could take it camping; the propane tank perfectly fits a small pan or pot on top, has a base for stability, and works almost as well as a gas-powered camp stove that you would buy at a retail camping supply outlet.  In comparison to my simple stove, most gasifiers will utilize some kind of fan, in line, for two reasons: to help kick-start the process by improving air flow, and then to propel gasses thru the device and to the engine/container.  At this scale, pressure and volume become an issue, and to standardize the process things like this become necessary; some users even use computerized controls to regulate burn and flow.  

Storing Woodgas:
Most woodgas users produce it on-demand, which is preferable if you can afford to build a large (or efficient) enough system.  Personally, I wanted to be sure I could save it, in some way, before I dumped any more time or money into this technology.  With this in mind, I picked up a small air compressor and modified it to work with my camp stove.  I routed a tube (flexible rubber automotive/compressor hose) from the top of the woodgas stove to the air intake on the compressor, so that as my compressor operates, it fills the tank with gas, instead of air.   Using a regular tire style air fitting, I was able to fill an external compressor tank, from my compressor.  I will use this method to fill similar tanks with a basic woodgas mixture, which I can use to run gas lanterns, a gas stove, or a basic propane-style camp stove.  In the long run, I will store fuel in a much larger on-site container, but I chose these elements to fit my circumstances.  

Fuel sources:
The woodgas stove or gasifier is not limited to wood.  I have run my camp stove on the chaff from coffee husks, for example.  I don’t have first hand experience with these, but here’s a list anyway, of other fuels, to get you thinking: walnut or peanut shells, charcoal, coal, sawdust, wood pellets, buffalo chips....  I think I'll continue to stick with cordwood as my main resource, though, even if it has to be chipped up to fit in a camp stove.  I can find it for free all week long and in fairly large quantities.  I have started scouting my local online classified ads for free woodpiles around town, and I've already filled one section of fence with cordwood.  Of course, it needs to be relatively dry to work well, so it helps to live in a dry climate and have an out-of-the-way place to store materials.  You may have access to other kinds of fuel in your area, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. 

Camp stoves are easy; building actual gasifiers is a little more complex and actually requires some precision design work, so I'm going to need some expert assistance when I scale this system upward, to power a truck or a home generator.  This doesn't require a huge systems change for me, since I had already started collecting the electrical supplies I would need to start going off-grid - just a change in the fuel supply.  Rest assured that I will write again with the results of the next woodgas project, in greater detail.  For those of you with construction experience (or if you’re just motivated, like me), there are schematics and drawings available online for a few different gasifier versions, one of which you can find by searching for “gasifier” on Wikipedia.  If anyone's interested, I have found plans (complete with images) and instructions from a 1950s design, that was used to run a farm tractor.  I don't have the original link to where this manual came from, but I'd be glad to forward on the information

I’ve been a prepper for several years now.  Living in South Louisiana kind of forces one to be with the high probability of hurricanes.  I’ve taken it to the next level and want to be as prepared as possible not just during the summer months for hurricane season, but year round for the litany of other possible disasters whether they be natural or man-made.  With the help of this site and several others I thought I was well on my way to having things pretty well covered.  We have the house prepared for a temporary short term dislocation, and a hunting camp in the boonies of North Central Louisiana that I along with my in-laws are turning into a functional retreat for TEOTWAWKI.  One thing that I’m ashamed to say never dawned on me was what happens if disaster strikes while you are on vacation.  This came very close to happening to me while in Hawaii, and it taught me a very valuable lesson.  There are no vacations from being prepared.

Due to the massive earthquake in Japan, our family vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii over the Mardi Gras break was interrupted by a tsunami.  While sitting on the lanai with my wife and my father in law, enjoying the cool Hawaiian night breeze, we were jolted out of our relaxing conversation by the shrill sirens of the tsunami warning system.   There we were, people who have had the foresight to try and prepare ourselves and extended family for just about every possible situation at home, getting caught with nothing but cargo shorts and flip-flops.  From the long process of getting our homes and our retreat ready, we had the awareness to see that we were not in a good situation.  My brother in law and I immediately jumped in the rental van, which was thankfully a big 12 passenger Ford, and went to the nearest gas station to tank up and get some groceries just in case.  By the time we had gassed up the van and bought a couple of cases of water and some non perishables, the lines at the pumps were 10 to 15 deep, the store was already running low on bottled water, tempers were staring to flare, and being defenseless was starting to make me feel uneasy.   Our plan of action was changed from moving everyone up to the rooms on the 5th floor, to leaving the crowded beachfront resort area before the tsunami hit.   
We planned to take some extra clothes, blankets, pillows, toiletries and other items “borrowed” from our hotel rooms, and head for higher ground to spend the remainder of the night in the van and ride out the tsunami in the nearby mountains.  On our way out after gathering up our “supplies” and family members, the Hotel public announcement system was announcing that they were evacuating the hotel and were asking people to put on warm clothes and load up on busses that would take them to a safe area.  Not wanting to be herded with several hundred strangers to a shelter, we just quietly set out on our own.  As I mentioned previously, we live in southern Louisiana and are familiar as to what happens to tourist in a disaster situation.  We ended up finding a fire station in a little village up at a higher elevation and spent the night there.  The six kids slept on the benches in the van and the adults spent the night watching the news on television with the firemen in the firehouse and taking turns trying to sleep in the front seats of the van.  Thankfully the Tsunami did minimal damage to the island and we were able to return to the resort the next morning.

These are some of the things I learned from this experience that will hopefully help others:

  • Situational awareness.  Be aware of what could happen at your vacation destination.  This could mean earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, blizzards, or even social unrest depending on where you are traveling.  Also as a side note, while at your destination stay sober even though you are on vacation.  I enjoy adult beverages just as much as the next guy, but I refrain from getting drunk, especially when at an unfamiliar location.  This paid huge dividends when we had to jump from relaxation to survival mode.  I felt sorry for the drunks at the hotel as they were being loaded up onto buses confused and disoriented.  It looked a lot like a scene from “Titanic” in the lobby when we left. 
  • Communication.  The entire island cell phone system was shut down due to overload while we were getting gas and we could not communicate with the rest of the family. Having some simple little 2-way radios would have really helped.  Even though they have limited range, they would have been better than nothing.  It would have really expedited our departure if we could have told them to get ready to leave before we got back to the hotel.
  • Transportation.  Always have a means of personal transportation.  I will never stay anywhere without a rental car again.  We were all very thankful for that huge tank of a van.  Not having to rely on the local government or the hotel staff to evacuate us was a tremendous weight off our shoulders.  There was no way we were going to put our family in a New Orleans Superdome situation if we didn’t absolutely have to.
  • Emergency radio.  I have a little Kaito Voyager that could have easily been packed.  Luckily we had a television at the fire station, if we didn’t we would have literally been in the dark as to what was happening.  Our iPads and smart phones of course didn’t work when the cellular system was down, and running down the van’s battery trying to listen to the radio was out of the question.
  • Shelter.  Those little emergency reflective blankets could have been a life saver if we weren’t able to “borrow” the hotel blankets. Also, always pack a lightweight jacket or sweatshirt even if you are going to Hawaii.  It gets cool at night no matter where you are if you have to sleep under the stars.
  • Water.  If we would have been on our own for any extended period of time, we would have run out of drinking water in a hurry. Two cases of bottled water would not have gone far with 12 people.  It would also have been impractical to try and buy more at the time.  We got hard enough looks from people while putting our water and food in the van.  I will have a back packing water filter with me on the next vacation.
  • Food.  We were able to get some food before our excursion, but it would not have lasted long and did not have the best nutritional content.  If we would have waited even 20 minutes longer to go and get food, it would have been even slimmer pickings.  Having a few high calorie ration bars already packed would have been a good insurance policy.
  • Emergency First Aid kit.  Although having two very active boys under the age of five means my wife’s purse pretty much doubles as a first aid kit, having a dedicated small backpacking first aid kit would have been better.  You would probably have to modify some of the contents though to get past airport security.
  • Flashlights.  Our hotel had emergency flashlights in the closets which we again “borrowed” for our little night time excursion.  However, this is the first time I’ve ever seen this and I won’t count on it for future travels.  I can’t believe I never thought of the importance of bringing a flashlight or two on vacation before.  With small children this is even more important just to have in case of a power outage at the hotel to keep them calm.
  • Personal protection.  When traveling it is very hard and sometimes impossible to carry a firearm.  I may be limiting future vacation destinations to other states that recognize my concealed carry permit.  Even though it is a huge pain to fly commercial with any kind of firearm, it is something that I think should be considered.  I’ve never done it with a handgun, but I have done it with hunting rifles.  I could be wrong, but the procedure is probably the same.  It is something I will be checking into.  Thank goodness things never got out of hand.

Most of the items listed above take up little to no room and could have been easily packed in a small book sack and carried onto an airplane except for the personal protection item.  What was the real punch in the gut is that I have all of these things in duplicate at home.  I just didn’t have them with me when I could have really needed them. If the Tsunami would have hit Hawaii harder, we could have been in a bad way.  Thankfully we had the presence of mind and ability to take care of ourselves and the Tsunami did not do any real damage to the island. 
I guess my advice to fellow travelers is to take along a cut down version of a G.O.O.D. bag when you go on vacation.  You don’t have to go overboard and there are many items you would like to have that will not make it past an airport screener.  But there are some things that I really would have liked to have had and really could have needed had things gotten worse than they did.  I know that with all the things you have to pack for a week long vacation, especially with kids, having to pack another bag that you will in all likelihood not need may seem like overkill and paranoia to many people. But driving up a mountain in the middle of the night to escape an oncoming Tsunami, kicking myself for getting caught with my pants down, is not something I’m going to repeat.  I wasn’t prepared for this vacation, but I will be for the next one.

One of your readers emailed you regarding using a $38 tool box in lieu of funds for a "great professional" military or civilian aid bag.

I would highly recommend to Big Mike to seek out flea markets, garage sales and the like (also Craig's List) in his area. I recently attended a local flea market and purchased a great COMPACKTEAM compression pack for $25 that's larger than my $130 military pack! Way bigger and with more support than my US Army issued assault pack (the new age kind that hook to one's ruck sack).

Sometimes you luck out, but always remember to seek local gear sources before buying anywhere else! - Cole B.

For nearly a decade, I've advised buying silver rather than gold. This is because 1.) Silver is more useful than gold in post-disaster bartering, 2.) I expect the silver to gold ratio to continue to fall, perhaps to as low as 16:1. And, 3.) The chance of silver ever being confiscated by bureaucrats is much lower than for gold. If you are planning to ratio trade out of gold into silver then try to sell your gold coins on a up-spike day, and then wait briefly and buy silver on the next dip day.  That might make the dealer's commissions less painful. In a couple of years you will probably be very glad that you ratio traded.

Nine Ways That Being Frugal Can Cost You More

John R. flagged this over at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute web site: What's Wrong with Government Debt

John also like this one: Quantitative Easing Is The End Of America As We Know It

Items from The Economatrix:

Japan Disaster Hurt World Economy?  

World Energy Crunch As Nuclear And Oil Both Go Wrong

Japan Crisis Takes Toll On U.S. Economic Recovery  

Gallup:  1 in 5 American Workers Can't Find Full Time Job  

Japan Quake Shakes U.S. Treasury Bond Market...Get Ready For Financial Meltdown  

What The Jump In Global Markets Volatility Mean  

We Love Silver But Respect The Trends--Be Careful

Ron G. sent this: The Psychology of Disaster

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K.A.F. recommended a site with a lot of recipes for storage food:

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Thomas M. pointed me to the documentary film The Battle of Chernobyl, available for free streaming.

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Reader Tim R. suggested this news article: Japan's mafia among the first to organise and deliver aid

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Here's an interesting new product: The Sun E-Box. Keep in mind that for those that are handy with tools, that the same components are available off the shelf. Also, several of SurvivalBlog's advertisers offer comparable systems. Regardless of where you decide to buy, keep in mind that you'll need to size the system (including battery capacity) to match your power needs, and that only deep cycle batteries should be used!

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Is a new UN “principle” now guiding US foreign policy and intervention? (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

"If we let one ant stand up to us, then the other ants, who outnumber us 100 to 1, will all stand up to us. And if they ever figure that out, there goes our way of life...  It's not about food, it's about keeping those ants in line." - Hopper (the Grasshopper Leader), in A Bug's Life (1998), voiced by Kevin Spacey. Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Donald McEnery, and Bob Shaw

Monday, March 21, 2011

For those that have asked: Yes, the SurvivalBlog archives on CD-ROM are indeed fully searchable in both the HTML and PDF versions. (Both formats are included on the CD-ROM.) And Yes, the archives also can be sorted by categories, in HTML. (So for example, you can see just the articles on Earthquakes, or just the articles on Gardening.) The CD-ROM is optimized for modern laptops, but could conceivably be used on other devices if they have the requisite processing horsepower. It is now orderable through, for $19.95. Even without an Internet connection you will have all of SurvivalBlog's archives at your fingertips. And if you are online while using the CD-ROM, then the links to external web sites are fully functional.

Many readers have been sending me questions about radiation. One, from a reader in Los Angeles asked: "Mr. Rawles, Should I sleep in my basement for the next few weeks?"

Please don't over-react, folks. I must state, forthrightly:

1.) The gamma emitters at the Fukushima reactors (and more importantly, their spent fuel ponds) are a long, long way from America.

2.) In my opinion, the only significant risk to health here in CONUS is possibly a chance that a bit of radioactive dust (with isotopes like Strontium-90 or Iodine-131) could end up deposited on pasture grasses and then subsequently become concentrated in cow or goat milk. (Remember what I posted the day after the first news report about the Fukushima reactors--about keeping powdered milk on hand? Stock up.)

3.) It won't hurt to spend a little extra time washing fresh fruits and vegetables.

FWIW, I was stationed TDY in Stuttgart, Germany and was working a live intelligence mission with the 2d M.I. Battalion (AE) in the Spring of 1986. So I was down-wind when Chernobyl melted down. Been there, done that, got the isotopes. But I still ate a lot of white spargel, after Chernobyl. Coincidentally, we were bombing that same misanthropic dictator in Libya, then too. (Operation El Dorado Canyon.) History doesn't repeat, but it often rhymes. So I think of early springtime as the season of Isotopes and Misanthropes.

Radiation, By The Numbers

Here are some useful numbers to file away in your Key References binder:

First, for those not familiar with the term Gray--the standard unit of measurement for radiation, and Sievert ("Sv"--the now standard unit for an absorbed dose) that replaced REM (Roentgen Equivalent, Man), and RAD (Radiation Absorbed Dose). The metric SI system makes a lot of sense, but some of us are still wet-wired for the Old School units of measurement. So for us Blast From The Past era dinosaurs who still think in Roentgens, conversion from Grays to RADs are as follows:

1 Gy equals 100 rad

1 mGy equals 100 mrad

1 Sv equals 100 rem

1 mSv equals 100 mrem


And here is how Sievert numbers relate to REMs (found at Wikipedia):

1 Sv (Sievert) = 100 rem

1 mSv = 100 mrem = 0.1 rem

1 μSv = 0.1 mrem

1 rem = 0.01 Sv = 10 mSv

1 mrem = 0.00001 Sv = 0.01 mSv = 10 μSv

Now what does the foregoing really mean, in terms of human health? That is best visualized with a good summary chart, posted over at Next Big Future. Please take the time to look at that chart, and ponder it.

To Journalists, All Math is Fuzzy Math

I must warn you, folks; beware when watching news reports in the mainstream media that mention anything related to radiation. Keep in mind that most of these people are hired because they look handsome (or pneumatic) and have pleasant speaking voices, not for their technical knowledge.

Remember that in general journalists:

  • Are typically mentally challenged when it comes to any sense of scale, (like 10x and 100x multiples). They find logarithmic scales particularly daunting.
  • Are clueless when it comes to decay rates.
  • Have little understanding of fallout deposition rates versus distance.
  • Have no concept of distance and the inverse square law.
  • Don't understand the difference between alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. For instance, I once had a reporter ask me about "Tyvek gamma ray protective suits". (No, I'm not making this up.)
  • Have no sense of proportion when it comes to a momentary dose of radiation versus cumulative doses. (Back during the First Gulf War, I spent some time repeatedly trying to explain the difference between a dosimeter and a ratemeter, to a reporter. She kept saying: "But they look the same." Then I had her look through each type pen, and she she exclaimed, "Oh, I see, they have different thingies, inside!")
  • Only vaguely "get it" when you try to explain concepts like inhaled dust versus isotopes deposited in thyroid glands, via the food chain. (And subsequent food or drink ingestion.)

Make no mistake, I really like .44 caliber handguns, and in particular, .44 Magnum handguns. I still remember getting my first .44 Magnum handgun, back in 1974. Like many guys, I loved the Dirty Harry movie series, with Clint Eastwood. So my first .44 Magnum was a S&W Model 29, with a 6.5" Barrel. I can still recall the first cylinder of ammo I fired on the gun shops indoor range - my hand stung! Before reloading another 6 rounds, I noticed that the grips on the Model 29 had cracked - on both sides - from the recoil. Luckily, the gun shop stocked grips and I was back in business. I actually carried that S&W Model 29, in a shoulder holster, like Dirty harry Callahan did, when I was working as a Private Investigator, back in Chicago, Illinois.

Over the years, I've owned more than my share of S&W .44 Magnums in one guise or another. However, one that really caught my attention is the Model 329 Night Guard.  

I was impressed with the Model 329 Night Guard for several reasons. One is that the gun is only 29.3 oz total weight, the other is, the barrel is only 2.5" - we're talking small and light-weight - for a handgun meant to handle the .44 Magnum round. I requested a sample from Paul Pluff at S&W, and in no time at all, it was in my hands. The darn Night Guard felt like it was gonna float out of my hands in was so lightweight - I kid you not. The Night Guard comes on the S&W "N" frame - this is a large framed gun, to be sure. It still holds 6-rounds of either .44 Magnum or .44 Special ammo, so you're not giving up anything there in the way of fire power. The frame is made out of a Scandium alloy, and the cylinder is stainless steel - and the entire gun is finished in a nonsense matte black color. S&W intelligently added the XS night sight - that is tritium for night work - it's a big sight and easy to pick-up in the Cylinder & Slide u-shaped rear sight. This set-up is extremely fast to pick-up, believe me.

Thick rubber grips come standard on the Night Guard, and when I touched off the first round, I sincerely appreciated the thick rubber grips.   Ok, my Dirty Harry days are over - you won't catch me carrying a full-sized all-steel .44 Magnum on a daily basis, while going about my routine. However, I think the S&W 329 Night Guard has a real niche in the scheme of things. If you live out in the boonies, or make it a habit of being out in the woods on a regular basis, or as a hunter, the Night Guard really shines. When loaded with .44 Magnum ammo, the Night Guard can handle just about anything you might run into - including elk, black bear and moose. I wouldn't knowingly go looking for big Alaskan Kodiak bears, but I believe the Night Guard would sure discourage 'em if they came after me.  

If you live in the city, and your state allows concealed carry, I think the Night Guard deserves a close look. I don't advocate carrying the Night Guard loaded with full-power .44 Magnum for self-defense. Full-powered .44 Magnum loads might over-penetrate a human body, and you might hit an innocent bystander or loved one if your round penetrates the human body. My long-time friend, and fellow gun writer, John Taffin, has forgotten more about .44 caliber handguns than I'll ever know - he literally wrote the book on .44s and I trust anything he tells me when it comes to .44s. John strongly recommends carrying .44 Special rounds for self-defense, when carrying a .44 - and we're talking about self-defense against a two-legged critter. And, full-powered .44 Special rounds are fully capable of taking small and medium-sized game as well. One of the nice things about a .44 Magnum is, you can load the rounds up or down, in power, according to your needs. Or, you can shop around and find just the right powered load in a factory round, that can handle just about anything you might run into.  

Okay, so how did the Night Guard fair in my testing? Well, to be honest, I was more than a little apprehensive before I touched off that first round in the Night Guard. I had a variety of .44 Magnum ammo to test, including 240-gr JHP rounds from Black Hills Ammunition ( and 240-gr SP rounds from Winchester ( and some .44 Special round from Buffalo Bore Ammunition (www.buffalobre.come) in the guise of their full-powered 180-gr JHP load. Black Hills Ammunition also provided some of their .44 Special 210-gr flat point lead "Cowboy loads" for testing. Now, John Taffin tells me that, you shouldn't shoot anything more than around a 240-gr full-powered load through these lightweight Scandium framed guns, and when experts talk, I listen. I had some 300-gr JHP rounds from Black Hills, and a variety of +P and "heavy" .44 Magnum loads from Buffalo Bore, but as advised, I didn't test any of these rounds in the Night Guard.

One thing you have to take care with, in light-weight framed big bore revolvers is, "bullet jump". That happens under the recoil of these light revolvers - the bullet can possibly jump forward from the case and tie-up your revolver, and it's not a quick or easy fix. If you reload your own ammo, and you want to shoot it in light-weight revolvers, you want to put a heavy crimp on the round, so the bullet stays in place under the heavy recoil.   The target was set-up at 25-yards, which is about as far as you're gonna want to shoot this snub-nose Night Guard. Once I touched off that first round, it got my attention, no doubt about it. One saving grace on the Night Guard are the extra-thick rubber grips, that really help absorb the recoil under full-powered .44 Magnum loads. I'm not (too) ashamed to say, that at 25-yards, all my shots didn't hit the target. I caught myself flinching several times because I thought the recoil was actually going to be worst than it was. To be honest, the recoil wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be - but it did get my attention. After a couple cylinders full through the gun, I was hitting the target 6 times out of 6 times, and most groups where around 4-inches - give or take - if I did my part.

The Winchester white box .44 Magnum loads are a little lighter loaded than most .44 Magnum loads, and I don't have a problem with that - they were the lightest recoiling .44 Magnum rounds tested.   I fired the Buffalo Bore and Black Hills Ammunition .44 Special loads next. The Buffalo Bore .44 Special loads are full-powered loads, and they were a bit hotter than I thought they would be. The Black Hills .44 Special Cowboy loads were sedate, cruising along at about 700 feet per second - they were a real pleasure to shoot, and I could shoot them all day long. Then again, they aren't meant to be a man stopper - they are cowboy action shooting competitions and just fun plinking.   The S&W 329 Night Guard isn't for everyone. I found the thick rubber grips were at the far end of my reach for double-action shooting. I don't have overly large hands, just "average" sized. If the grips were any thicker, I wouldn't have been able to fire the gun double-action - so if you have small hands, or if you're a woman, I don't think the rubber grips that come on the Night Guard will work. Then again, you can replace the grips with some thinner "Combat" wood grips - however, that will increase the felt recoil substantially. S&W sent me one of their leather belt slide holsters along with the Night Guard, and I packed the Night Guard on a regular basis for several weeks, and didn't even know it was on my hip. I carry concealed on a daily basis, so I'm used to packing something on my hip. I loaded the Night Guard with the Buffalo Bore 180-gr JHP load for serious self-defense work against two-legged critters. However, if I were out hiking in the mountains - the gun would be loaded with either the Buffalo Bore, Black Hills or Winchester 240-gr loads for defense against 4-legged critters.  

I would have no problem carrying the Night Guard with full-powered .44 Magnum loads, as a back-up to whatever rifle I might be carrying while out hunting big-game during hunting season. The Night Guard would make an excellent back-up gun to any sort of "battle rifle" as well. If you love the .44 Magnum like I do, then the Night Guard deserves a close look. I used to think, that if I were limited to owning only one handgun (heaven forbid!) then it would be some sort of .357 Magnum revolver. However, the older I get, the more I'd be likely grab a .44 Magnum revolver of some kind, and have it loaded with .44 Special loads for "social" work, and .44 Magnum loads for wilderness tasks.  

The 329 Night Guard isn't for everyone, it will take some dedicated practice to get your rounds on-target. And, I found myself quitting after firing a 50-rd box of ammo for the day. I would catch myself flinching as I approached the end of a box of ammo - that is, .44 Magnum ammo. And, if you have smallish hands, the grips that come with the gun simply aren't gonna fit your hand properly. Make no mistake, the gun really does recoil with full-powered .44 Magnum loads, and if you are recoil sensitive, this gun isn't for you - unless you load it with .44 Special rounds - that really helped tame the recoil. Retail price on the Night Guard is $1,049 - then again, quality doesn't come cheap - and the Night Guard is high-quality in my book. If you're looking for something a bit "different" for self-defense, survival or back-up to your big game rifle, then take a look at the 329 Night Guard. I just find it hard not to like a good ol' .44 Magnum revolver for many types of "chores."

Dear Jim,
One huge disadvantage of sailboats is that one must comply with the firearm/weapon laws of every port one plans to visit.  This means in most cases, nothing larger than a pocketknife, and not even flare guns in some jurisdictions. 

I would be uncomfortable with this in peacetime.  In a SHTF scenario with no coast guards to interdict pirates/smugglers/desperate refugees, I'd consider it suicide.

The alternative is to carry credible weapons in violation of local laws.  This is a poor survival tactic.  If you are entering, or arriving from, a nation in distress, expect that your boat will be searched.

Also consider that harbors are somewhat limited and very predictable.  There are no terrain features to hide behind at sea.  Offshore anchorages can be limited and distant.  Hijackers have only to wait for your arrival, effectively leaving you besieged at sea, unless you have fuel/food to get to another port without similar problems.

Boats require ongoing expensive maintenance even when not in use, more so than dry land and a sealed retreat do.

The time to use a boat to bugout would be during a predictable slow crash, before things bottomed out, and only to avoid things like airports, aircraft damaged by EMP, etc, or restrictive police and border guards.  A boat might offer some less monitored options for escape from such a nation. - Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large)


Mr. Rawles,
I would like to point out a few potential negatives that must be considered when looking to bug-out in a sailboat (or any other marine vehicle) that I think were overlooked in the article posted by StudioMan. On the surface it seems like a good idea but I think there are also some major problems with the idea, similar in scale to bugging out in an RV on the land I think, something you yourself advised against doing if I recall. 

1. Spare parts/repairs/maintenance. Just like any other vehicle boats will need ongoing and regular maintenance in order to be seaworthy, though potentially less than a trawler or other motorized boat. The average sailboat's hull is made of fiberglass these days (not simple to repair in the case of damage) and the sails and rigging are no longer made of natural materials as they were hundreds of years ago. In order to just maintain this gear, never mind repair or replace it, scavenging would be required in the event of a catastrophic collapse of society, and at a minimum expensive trade would be required in a soft crash. If the owner of the boat doesn't have the skills himself to affect the repairs it would make things even more costly or simply impossible and could potentially leave them stranded or worse in a place not of their choosing.

2. Fuel. potentially a minor issue if the owner actually sails the sailboat most of the time, but there will be times when sailing is not the best option and getting underway with power might be more advisable. Engines need fuel, fuel will be expensive or difficult to acquire without exposing oneself to danger on shore.

3. Defense. Yes pirates are, today, restricted to areas of the world easily avoidable by just paying attention to maritime news sources. After a collapse though anyone living by the shore with a boat is a potential pirate, everywhere. The sailboat owner may be able to efficiently travel the globe with little to no fuel use but that is at a very slow pace, the bad guys just need to have enough fuel to shoot out to the sailboat, take what they want, and get back to shore. Today's Somali pirates successfully ply the waters ranging out to hundreds of miles from shore without any high tech gear, unless the owner keeps to the deep ocean chances are someone will find them at some point, and sailboats do not have the speed to get away. Sailboats in most cases also do not have the capacity to house a sizable crew in order to help repel boarders.

4. One will have to land sometime and local intel will be lacking.  For repairs, resupply, scavenging etc eventually one will have to make landfall. Because the sailboat crew is mobile on the boat all landfall will be into what must be treated as hostile territory. Intel will be old at best, nonexistent at worst on the areas where they are forced to stop and will put the crew at risk. Things may look fine but there is no way of knowing that perhaps thirty miles inland a nuclear reactor's spent fuel rod pool might have burned off a year ago, or the river's mouth they are currently navigating in might have four or five sewage treatment plants that, due to not being in operation or manned, have been leaking filthy runoff from rain flooded facilities directly into the river for a long time. In the case of a full blown TEOTWAWKI event I myself would do my best to stay away from any major river or bay myself due to the potential of it being polluted from any number of potentially deadly sources.

5. Potentially the most important point for me: simple survival is a short term goal, long term 'healthy' goals should not include perpetual solitude (saying safe out in the deep ocean) or limiting social interactions and responsibilities.  Yes, obviously if I was on Long Island in New York and a catastrophic event occurred I would use a boat with my family without much thought as opposed to trying to navigate by land through New York City and the outlying masses of humanity. But I would then simply head to wherever is the next step on my bug-out plan, ditch/hide the boat and be off towards safer areas inland. Outside of an initial survival tool I think the boat would act as a limiter and as a divisive object as far as the goal of finding others and creating a positive social circle. In order for a healthy rebuilding of people's mental states as well as the state of society children and adults alike will need to learn how to deal with real world problems not how to just run away from them perpetually. Learning this on a well controlled and properly vetted retreat with like minded people would make that goal a bit easier.

Thank you for your time,  - I.B.

Mr. Rawles,
I thought you might want to mention a product with your readers. I must admit that I am kind of a gear head and am constantly trying  to come up with better ways to organize and store my preparedness supplies. The one storage issue that I have always been indecisive about was how I wanted to store my medical/trauma/surgical supplies. There are lots of great professional bags and military medical cases out there, however their cost just didn't seem reasonable to me or my budget.  One day while checking out the latest and greatest tools in my local home improvement store I came across what I feel to be a great, economical solution. The Stanley "FatMax" 28-Inch Toolbox. A "Eureka" moment!

Although the idea is not new and I have kicked around the idea of using tool boxes in the past, none really seemed to fit the bill. This tool box is constructed of what seems to be a heavy plastic polymer, is large, deep and has a handy tray which spans only half the storage space allowing the placement of large bottles of alcohol, betadine, wound irrigation solutions etc on the open side. There is enough clearance under the tray for 4x4 pad boxes etc. I will use the handy tray for surgical instruments, syringes, etc.

Although these boxes may be a little large and heavy for a bug out by foot, they would be very manageable for a bug in, vehicle/wheeled bug out or pre-established retreat. In fact, I am getting a second to add the remainder of my supplies. Some great features of these boxes are that they have a tough integrated waterproof seal, heavy duty lockable metal latches (for those with children), comfortable rubberized handle are stack-able and extremely heavy duty. The latches area a bit stiff due to the tight waterproof seal (watch your fingers) however I believe they will become smoother over time. (Be aware when under noise discipline because they due tend to make a significant snap if not latched slowly)

These tool boxes are manufactured in the USA. Mine retailed for only $37.07 including tax which to me is an acceptable cost considering the value of the contents within. I will add identification medical stickers to the boxes and also hang tags from the handles with content expiration dates so I can easily rotate the contents as need be. Keep the fire burning. - Big Mike

Mr. Rawles,
Your books are truly eye openers. Thanks for your work in the preparedness field.

Regarding your recommendation of getting OC with at least a 12% concentration, as an OC instructor, I recommend that buyers ask: "12% of what?" A 12% concentration of a 250,000 Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) spray may prove ineffective. The true test of an OC spray is the SHU rating. I recommend a minimum 2,000,000 SHUs. The concentration only affects recovery time.

The 5% is great for training. You should recover in 15-20 minutes. Anything over 10% is great for application to the faces of bad guys. It takes as long as 45 minutes to recover. Just my two cents. Thanks again for the lessons that SurvivalBlog provides. - Brian M.

Reader Bryan E. reports: Wholesale prices rise 1.6% due to biggest jump in food costs in over 36 years.

Reader Greg C. notes: "I live in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.  Today I went to a fast food restaurant to grab a quick lunch and noticed a sign saying they would only put tomatoes on your sandwich if requested.  Curious, I inquired about it and they said that a case of tomatoes went from $20 to $50 due to the freeze in Mexico.  That got me to thinking.  If even low levels of fallout hit the farms from Japan, how much more will produce prices increase?  Thankfully I live in an area with nearly year round growing and my garden is doing well including my tomato plants."

Patrick S. sent this: The Fed Chairman says there's no inflation. Patrick's comment: "He is lying through his teeth"

J.D.D. sent this: Global food prices pushed by three-factor engine. This article was reposted at the National Inflation Association (NIA) web site, and the NIA editors added the following: "This article just came out about three factors driving food prices higher, yet they forget to mention all of the monetary inflation being created not just by the Federal Reserve, but by all central banks around the world. It is because of this monetary inflation that even once agriculture inventories build, Americans shouldn’t expect to see much of a decline in agricultural commodity prices. Also remember that if the BLS reports 4% food inflation, it means we really have food inflation of approximately 10%."  

US Cost of Living Hits Record, Passing Pre-Crisis High

Yet another member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns civilian disarmament cabal is now facing trial: Monticello mayor indicted. He is accused of selling fake Nike shoes, Timberland boots, counterfeit music, and pirated movies. (Well, at least it wasn't something more serious such as bribery, misappropriation of campaign funds, corruption, extortion, mail fraud, wife beating, influence peddling, felony theft, child pornography, attempted child sexual assault, child enticement, conspiracy, money laundering, perjury, assault, fabricating evidence, and filing false tax returns--like the others. Yes, these are the sort of people in Mayor Bloomberg's "crime fighting" group.)

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A reminder for audio book listeners, until March 22nd, has my best-selling non-fiction book "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It" on sale for just $4.95 (for Audible members, otherwise $7.49). It is normally priced at $13.99, so get your copy before the sale ends!

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Add this to Utah's list of state symbols: an official firearm The John Moses Browning-designed M1911, of course. By the way, when are they going to make John Moses Browning's birthday a holiday? (Thanks to David L. for the link.)

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K.A.F. mentioned: Deal Reached to Lift Wolf Protections in Two States.

"The history of government management of money has, except for a few short happy periods, been one of incessant fraud and deception." - Friedrich Hayek

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Today we present another three entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. as well as a guest article by an old friend. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As we have all seen, the last few months has seen its share of really large natural disasters, on all of our major continents. Thru the Internet I was able to watch the hurricane that hit Australia via the numerous surf cameras available along the coast. It was amazing to see them drop out one at a time, while some of them that were on the edge of the storm never went down. A few of the web cams were attached to buildings overlooking breakwaters, or in marinas where you could see the sailboats and yachts being tossed around by the wind.    

That led me to the thought of a Sailboat as a bugout vehicle. A group of us gets together every couple of years and charters a couple of sailboats in the San Juan islands for a week at a time. You get all the joys of boat ownership and someone else gets to clean the boat when you are done.  Living on board a boat for any length of time gives you a great appreciation of the work sailboat designers have done to make living aboard easy. In addition, there is a group of people that are known as "cruisers" who have left the land for a life at sea. Some of them cruise around the world, following the summer around the globe, and some overwinter in nicer spots, either way they are not tied down to anything, and often will sail until they are broke, and then work in the port they stop in until they can get the larder restocked for their next journey.    

A good introduction to this lifestyle can be found by reading "Cruising in Seraffyn", by Lin and Larry Pardey. Larry built his sailboat Seraffyn by himself and he and Lin set off for the world. no motor, no electricity, just some food, charts and compass, a sextant, chronometer, kerosene lamp and some supplies.    

A sailboat is basically a recreational vehicle (RV) for the water. It provides everything you need to live :shelter, transportation, power, safety, and security. Lets look at some of these a little closer:  

Shelter- by their very nature a sailboat is designed to keep you warm (or cool) and dry in any kind of weather, the cabins are designed, depending on the length of the vessel to sit 6 to 8 comfortably, and can provide 2 or 3 separate staterooms. Depending on where you are sailing you can pump your waste directly off the boat into the water, there is no need to pump it out, and if the Schumer hits, no one is going to worry about where you are dumping your holding tank. you can find coal or wood burning marine heaters, and also heaters that use diesel or kerosene. there are DC powered microwaves, and ammonia fridges that run on almost nothing, keeping your food cold and fresh.  

Power :  Most sailboats more than 30 feet long have a 3 or 4 cylinder diesel motor and either an auxiliary genset, or the ability to switch battery banks so different banks are charged by the engine's alternator.  There are many boats set up with solar panels, and many boats use wind generators, or they will use a tow behind generator. I know of several cruisers who have not plugged into grid power for two years or more.

The small diesel engines in sailboats literally "sip " fuel and so it lasts avery long time. depending on the operating curve I have used less than a quart an hour getting where I wanted to go. The sailboat's systems are set up very efficiently and run completely on DC power. LED technology has brought about a great revolution in marine lighting, reducing power needs 60 to 80% for lighting.  Most boats have fairly sophisticated electrical monitoring systems so at the touch of a button you can see all the parameters the you need to know about on a continual basis. Most vessels also have Marine Band radios, GPS and electronic charts, and other forms of navigation and communication equipment. A chart, sextant, very accurate clock and compass are still necessary in case of a complete power down situation, and all sailors should be competent in their use.    

Transportation, safety and security: if you are a confident and proficient sailor and navigator, you can take your boat anywhere in the world. There have been times when sitting in the cockpit of our sailboat, anchored in some cove 200 miles from civilization, I realized that I had found safety. My biggest concern was whether or not I would get eaten by a bear if I went ashore. Depending upon where you are, you can find plenty of sea life to eat, a simple crab pot will in the right spot will net protein for a week, and a quick trip to shore will usually get you potable or semi potable water. On top of that there are many many top of the line reverse osmosis watermakers--both hand pump and electric--that can make gallons of water daily.  Excel Water Systems  makes excellent systems that can be adapted easily for use anywhere in the world. There are much smaller systems available than what they make but the are a world class operation and a lot of information can be found at their web site.    

There have been times when because of the wind and the weather, I have sailed and dropped anchor and not fired up the motor for days. And when I did use the diesel it was for convenience, not necessity. The Pardeys (mentioned above)  went around the world in their little boat without a motor or electricity. As far as security goes, I don't think there will be a worry of zombies finding you when you are 50 miles offshore sailing to parts unknown, safe in your boat away from danger. I won't discuss piracy here as most knowledgeable cruisers keep abreast of news that will allow them to skirt countries where piracy is rampant. (Somalia is an example. If you are worried about being seen, in a disaster situation sailing at night without lights could be done in relative safely, and with ease. All you need are a good set of charts, a compass and a tide table. it is easy to black out a vessel, and run on sail power alone.    

I am certain I have not exhausted all of the advantages of bugging out on a sailboat. Please chime in here if there is something I missed.

The "will to survive" is the most important survival tool you will ever have. It is more important than a year supply of food, a Swiss Army knife, or a Bic lighter. What good would a lighter be if you have no desire to make a fire? How can a signal fire result in a rescue if you have lost all hope that it will and don't bother building one? How can your next meal keep you alive if you are unwilling to go and find it? The most common factor identified in stories of extreme survival situations is the person had "the will to survive". Peeling back the layers of their stories you will usually find that after the improvise tools they made, the tricks they used to find water, or the blessings bestowed upon them by the gods, they will always end by attributing their survival to their own will to survive. They never gave up!    

This "will to survive" is a mental state. A conscience decision. A commitment to yourself and others that you absolutely refuse to give up trying to survive, to the last breath, no matter what. It is a psychological game you must play within yourself in a survival situation. You must be in a constant state of positive thinking, confident in your abilities, always ready to solve problems, and forever holding on to hope. Thoughts of how bad an injury hurts, how far you must travel, or how long it's been since you last ate, could be all it takes to mentally wear you down to the point of giving up. Once you give up, death is sure to follow. Never give up!

The will to survive can come from many things. It can come from a strong desire to see your family again, watch your kids grow up, or kiss your spouse. It may be you have a goal in life you haven't met, a place you wanted to see, or a future date you looked forward to. It could stem from the unwillingness to lose or accept failure. It may also be rooted in confidence in your survival skills from years of study and preparation. Whatever the motivation you have that pushes you on and makes you want to live longer is where your will to survive will come from. Focus on it, and never give up!

It is natural to have feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, and even depression when faced with a life threatening situation. You might feel fear of death, anxiety over being lost, anger that you have found yourself in this mess, and depression from thoughts of not seeing your loved ones again. These thoughts can be detrimental. They undermine your will to survive. If not controlled and managed, these thoughts can lead to a loss of morale and failure to perform activities necessary to survival.  They can rob you of precious time, lead to poor judgment, rash decisions, frustration, and compound an already bad situation. It's when you get to depression that you finally lose hope. Thoughts of, "What's the point?" or "I can't take anymore." are basically thoughts of suicide, because you will be giving up and possibly surrendering to death. Never give up!

It is imperative to learn to identify these negative feelings, learn to control them, and understand that they are just that; feelings. And most importantly, you must know that they are your feelings, thus you own them and are in control of them. Only you can decide to react with fear or anger to a given situation or not. Your choice of feelings in a survival situation can be life saving or a death sentence. You might get the physical sensations of fear when in danger, but it is your choice to be afraid.

There is a big difference in feeling fear, and acting afraid. Fear is described as a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger and flee from it or confront it, also known as the "Fight or Flight" response. Fear has a very distinct set of sensations. Butterflies in your stomach, hair on the back of your neck standing up, rapid heartbeat and breath, and heightened awareness. But none of those sensation can actually hurt you. A little fear can, in fact, be helpful. It can make you more cautious, aware, and ready for action. However, if not controlled, fear can lead you to acting afraid. Then you could be rendered unable to react at all. This is commonly called being "frozen by fear". Just like a deer in the headlights, this paralysis can be deadly in a survival situation. Recognize these sensations and acknowledge the sensations as warnings to be more cautious, aware, and ready for action, not to be afraid and freeze up. Then take a deep breath and act.

Finding yourself in a life threatening or survival situation can be frustrating. You might find yourself having to complete difficult tasks with very limited resources, very little time and with your life and/or someone else's life in jeopardy. You may have some failed attempts at finding water, building a fire, or attracting attention. You might be unprepared, fatigued, or even injured. These set backs can lead to more frustration and anger. But cussing, stomping your feet, and throwing a fit will probably not help you. Luckily, anger is another feeling that can be made to be useful. If fear is the 'flight' in the "Fight or Flight" response, anger can be considered to be the 'fight'. You can turn your anger in a bad situation into the "I refuse to lose!" attitude. Anger towards the unfortunate predicament in which you have been placed, can be redirected to give you an unwavering tenacity to try, try again. You can refocus anger to fighting against your crisis instead of just being angry at it.

Anxiety is probably not a feeling that will help you much in a survival situation. Physical effects of anxiety can produce heart palpitations, muscle weakness and tension, fatigue, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches, or headaches. Anxiety not only manifests physical effects, but those effects can lead to trouble concentrating, acting jumpy, being combative, paranoid, or panicking. An anxiety attack, in some cases, can cause hyperventilating and losing consciousness. All of which can be life threatening in a survival situation.

If you have lost the mental game completely you might find yourself at the most dangerous feeling; depression. The loss of all hope. Hopelessness often results in apathy, indifference, and even in some extreme cases, suicide. That is the complete opposite of the "will to survive". Depression and hopelessness can leave you feeling you have nothing left to rely on but luck. Relying on just luck to save you gives you a very low chance of surviving anything. If you are lost at sea and are rescued by a lone passing ship, that can be plain luck, but struggling to stay alive and attempting to signal said passing ship, that is the "will to survive".

As we know, knowledge is power. You can power up your "will to survive" right now. Start by educating yourself in survival techniques in different emergency or disaster situations you may face. Just having knowledge of dangers and the skills to deal with them, should they arise, increases your chances of survival exponentially. This could give you the confidence you need to face your challenges. Write down important numbers, make a plan, buy supplies, read a book or take a class. Do whatever you can to prepare ahead of time for a disaster or emergency situation. It can improve your outlook, your will to survive and your chances to survive it.

The will to survive is about having strength. It is not about how much you can bench press or your muscle mass. It's a strength that comes from within. It's a belief in yourself, a certitude in your chances, and a faith in your outcome. A strong conviction that your goal of surviving will be realized. It's having the mental might to dispel all doubt, the spiritual courage to commit to the challenges, and the gut resolve to see it through.

Should you have to face a survival situation, keep what is motivating you to survive in the front of your thoughts. Focus strongly on that. It will give reason to your "will to survive" and block out any feelings of despair. Remember that your emotions belong to you and you are in control of the emotion you choose. The "will to survive" is positive thinking. The "will to survive" is controlling your fear and anxiety, redirecting your anger, and always staying optimistic about your chances. The will to survive can be empowered by increasing your knowledge of survival techniques and being prepared.  The "will to survive" is having the strength to NEVER GIVE UP! 

Day One
Just another day for an American ex-pat in an office in a skyscraper in Tokyo, or so it seemed. There was a nice view in several directions, offering a chance to see a real panorama of the city. In just a few minutes, that view would include large fires and streets packed with cars and people walking. The reason, of course, is it was 11-3-11.  

The first inkling of trouble was a minor feeling of movement, and this lasted for perhaps a minute, and then things got worse. The shaking got to where it was time to not move, and then it was time to get under my desk. Finally, it was time to hold on to something to avoid being jerked around. This lasted for many minutes, far longer than any earthquake I had experienced in California or Japan.  

After things settled down a bit, we all got up and tried to figure out what had happened. Had we been at the epicenter of this? A co-worker said an initial reading was that it was 7.9 on the Richter scale. Bad, but not enough to expect the problems that were to come. Unfortunately, the numbers went up over the next hour or so, and the big shock was that television showed a tsunami wiping out a town after 30 minutes or so. About the same time, I noticed many big fires in the distance, and pointed them out to my co-workers.  

Right after the earthquake ended, the speakers in the building announced the earthquake and that the elevators were not in service. Phones were not working, but the power was. It was a tough choice, walk home for hours in Winter, along with millions, or wait and hope that the trains and subways might gradually return on a limited basis. As the epicenter was not that near Tokyo, I figured it was worth waiting a while to see what happened. But things got worse. This seems to have been a repeating theme throughout this. One problem seems to impact the next, overburdened system.  

For better or worse, I decided to wait for a few hours, and put up with the aftershocks. I also wanted the phones to come back so I could see how my wife was. The phones came back in a limited way after ten minutes or so, but not cell phones, which had troubles for many hours. But I could not dial out. Many co-workers or their neighbors had suffered some damage, but the real concern was closer to the epicenter, and along the coast. My wife had relatives impacted by both the tsunami and, later, the nuclear issue. The good news was her relative was evacuated from his factory before the water swept in. The bad news is that the economics of this tragedy are going to be practically at the level of fighting a war on your own soil, and this fellow is unlikely to have a job for quite some time.  

So the news got worse and worse, and many systems already went into a very limited mode. If you wanted something, it was probably a good idea to think about getting it then. Of course, it you got closer to the dramatic damage, it was too late, as most stores were damaged, and everyone was now working on dealing with issues of life and limb to care about keeping a store open that sells blankets for example. And it is a safe bet that a lot of folks were kicking themselves later about not having the supplies they needed. Not just for themselves, but for family and friends that had had their houses destroyed, and for those trapped en route on some trip.

My family did an inventory that night, and we discovered that our biggest flashlight was too old and no longer worked properly. It was probably time to re-read SurvivalBlog's guidance on preparedness at that point. The good news is that my workplace gave out a survival kit with water, a high-tech blanket, flashlight, and a few other things. We also had candles and a mini-flashlight. Not that the power went out yet. That was later, but, if the quake had been closer, it is reasonably likely that even downtown Tokyo would have been dark and cold. All things considered, the supplies of food and medicine were sufficient, but it was obviously time to buy more. I had been more concerned with an economic or currency disaster than what happened, but still slept better over the next few days knowing that we had months of supplies.  

That night, I felt a bit seasick, but not so bad that it was a real problem. But the bigger problem for most of us was shock. Those who had family or friends in the worst-hit areas had a tough time keeping their minds on further preparations, which might be another lesson in why it is good to prepare ahead of time. I do not think I was thinking clearly on 9/11, and not on 3/11, either. The good news is that disaster drills and preparation are common in Japan. This made many things go smoothly. I suspect an inadequate number of disaster drills are done by local governments or businesses in the US. As an example, a very strong hurricane hitting Miami is just a matter of time. Are they better prepared than the one a couple of decades ago?

In any case, the systems in Tokyo went smoothly. I do not know about closer to the disaster area. It seems that they went reasonably well, but the strength and speed of the tsunami, along with the lack of much time, really made the fatalities a lot worse than was expected. People go through towns saying that everyone should evacuate to higher ground after earthquakes, but those in poor physical condition may choose to ignore the warning, and perhaps some wanted to clean up some of the broken jars and such before evacuating. Unfortunately, they did not have a minute to spare.  

Turning on the television that night, it was mentioned that the nuclear plants at Fukushima had been hit hard. This was to become a topic for later. At the moment, fires had to be put out, and the injured taken to hospitals. Nuclear plants have many backups, and they would not be built near oceans if they could not handle tsunamis, right?   (To be continued.)

There's a lot of folks around the country who bought surplus Civil Defense radiation meters.

What they don't understand is the CDV-715, CDV-717 and CDV-720 meters WILL NOT measure background radiation and are useless if they are watching for increased radiation from Japan. Only the CDV-700 will measure background radiation.

According to an LAFD document: "Radiological survey instruments, if available, are recommended for initial entry to the site. Before entering the accident area, determine the background radiation level using the CD V-700, or a similar survey instrument."

Background radiation levels cannot be determined using the CD V-715 or other high-range gamma-detecting instruments; therefore, a 'positive response on high-rage' meters such as these should stimulate immediate rescue and medical intervention.

I found this misunderstanding by my fellow man to be of concern and thought you might post it. Best regards to you and yours, - John

Readers in France or elsewhere in the EU might be interested in acquiring some of the new "10 euro des 26 régions" coins as both a silver investment and as an inflation hedge, with no downside risk. They are 10-euro coins, weighing 10 grams and are sterling silver (92.5% fine). These coins are available at face value in post offices, but are region-specific and some regions might have already run out. I've read that in Brittany the new collector coins are still available, and you can purchase limited quantities at their face value. A SurvivalBlog reader mentioned that he was able to get 20 of these coins with ease, in just one visit to a post office. He noted: "I've been told some post offices require you to make a purchase and accept them to you as 'change"', though it wasn't the case here. I just walked in, asked for the coins, got them and walked out. I certainly wasn't asked to give any explanation, nor sign any form. The post office lady did warn me there was an obligation to use cash only, to get the coins. Even if their metal value didn't exceed their face value (their silver content is worth about €7.50 now) they are still perfectly legal tender and can be used for any purchase--they are always worth €10. Cashiers, from my experience (I tested!) will just find them "nice!" and private business owners or private parties are more than eager to get them as keepsakes."

Readers Greg C. and Jeff M. flagged this bit of bad news: Liberty Dollar creator convicted in federal court. Obviously, he shouldn't have used used the word "Dollar" or the "$" symbol. But this case illustrates how heavy-handed a government that creates fiat currency can be when someone develops a more legitimate alternative. Here's a quote that is ultimate in irony: “Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict. Greg's C.'s comment: "I believe Ms. Tompkins is beginning her 2011 Comedy Tour next week starting in Las Vegas.  Technically, shouldn't she be investigating the entire Federal Reserve if that really is her true position?"

New York Fed confirms intervention in currency markets. (Thanks to KAF for the news tip.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Worsening Nuclear Crisis Rattles Financial Markets  

New-home Construction Plunges in February  

Oil Prices Rise with International Tensions  

John Williams (of ShadowStats):  The Great US Collapse Nears

Global Markets are Slammed by Worries About Nuclear Crisis

The UN seems intent on invading or at least bombing Libya. And U.S. forces will it seems, as per usual, be in the thick of it. Pardon me for sounding like a hick who inappropriately points out the obvious at a swank soiree, but I must ask: 1.) Why are we directly sticking out noses into a civil war? 2.) Who gave the U.N. debating society the God-like omniscience to deem Gaddafi's national government "illegitimate"? 3.) When did Congress abrogate its power to declare war? And, 4.) Why is the current Administration so intent on replacing an ostensibly secular dictatorship with an Islamic dictatorship?

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Japan crisis: 'There’s no food, tell people there is no food’. (A hat tip to J.B.G. for the link.)

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K.T. flagged this: Cell phones are 'Stalin's dream,' says free software movement founder.

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Just for fun, file this under "Ministry of Silly Walks": India-Pakistan Wagah Attari Border Closing Ceremony

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, March 19, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

With all the scenarios that can happen in a social meltdown, I would like to take the moment and relate to everyone what actually happened in my mother’s time, a short 70 years ago. At the time, no one could foresee or plan for the catastrophic events that awaited them. Millions were displaced forcibly or by choice. Many lessons can be learned and in my case are being applied in my own preparations for a collapse, or worse yet, a collapse of society as we know it. The key is “as we know it”. An eastern European refugee who lived through WW2 “knows it”. Here is her story.

Her parents left impoverished Lithuania, before WWI erupted. They did so by bribing a Russian soldier at the border with a few small gold coins. They made their way to Chicago along with millions of refugees seeking the prosperity of the US. My grandmother ("Baba") worked in the stockyards of Chicago 12 hours a day, my grandfather started a small “store” operating out of their front room by day and maintaining apartment blocks by night. They had a daughter, my Aunt Sophie, born a US citizen. After 15 years of hard work and saving, they learned Lithuania regained their independence. Trading in their life’s savings for gold and silver coinage they went back to Lithuania in 1921 leaving Sophie to finish college. They bought a 200 hectare farm, mill, store and livestock. By the time my mother was born in 1932, her parents were very wealthy land owners. But political squabbling with Poland, Germany and Russia made Lithuania’s independence uncertain. Wars, political upheaval, and rumors of more war continued (1926-1939). For the country farmers, most events went unnoticed. Life went on farming and enjoying life.   

In 1939, the Molotov/ Ribbentrop Pact assigned Lithuania to Germany, but in secret the areas east of Klaipeda went to Russia, and by 1940 the Communist Party of Lithuania had deported more than 50,000 people to gulags in Siberia, typically at night, arriving at the deportee’s house in a single truck with just a few “policemen”. They were trapped, hoping for some way to escape the Communists. Germany had just invaded Poland a few months earlier, the borders were militarized. One family at a time was disappearing - being shipped out to Siberia (mostly mayors, shop owners, and large farm owners). The day the Germans reached their farm (on their way to Moscow), they discovered they were to have been shipped out to Siberia in July of 1941. My mother recalls the Germans giving paper money while taking their horses and farm animals. They preferred the Germans to the Communists and believed the war would soon be over, and that Lithuania would once again be free.

Life on the farm went on for a few more years, information was scarce, no communication, many rumors. Lithuanian silver coinage disappeared, replaced by paper occupation money. No one could be trusted, farms were being raided for food, and many “bad things” occurred. Then suddenly the Germans were back, in full retreat. By fall of 1944 they followed the retreating Germans out on a horse and carriage, gold coinage got them across the many river bridges,(a stash was left behind-buried under their wooden kitchen floor)until the horse and cart was confiscated, then only what bags they could carry, then those to were gone and by the time they reached Dresden (bad timing), February 1945, they only had the clothes on there back. Dresden was bombed to a pile of rubble. They somehow survived Dresden, but were forced into work camps. When the war was finally over, they found themselves in a refugee camp near Munich. Stanislaus, my grandfather, had one last ‘trade’ item left, a gold pocket watch.

My mother’s sister, Sophie (a US Citizen), who was “left behind” in Chicago was able to sponsor the return of Baba and Stanislaus to the US by the end of 1945. My mother had to stay in the camp. My mother finally made it to Chicago in 1948, a 16 year old girl that had survived a world war and had seen too much. I have Stanislaus’s gold watch--kept as a powerful reminder of those turbulent times.

When I returned to Lithuania with my mother in September of 1991 (during the Soviet’s withdrawal of Lithuania) her parent’s farm was still standing, found to be inhabited by squatters. The “wooden” kitchen floor was no more, now just a dirt floor. A distant relative informed us the Soviet collective farm manager found the gold coins and threw the largest wedding party for his daughter the town had ever seen.

My Conclusions:

  1. Hundreds of millions of people have had to “relocate” (emigrate, flee) due to unforeseen poor economic times, changing politics, natural disasters, wars or merely rumors of war. Always expect the possibility you and your entire family may at one time have to move or flee suddenly and unexpectedly. Your “horse and wagon’ may be reduced to just what you can carry in your pockets. Refusing to leave your fortified shelter may result in a trip to Siberia. Lead out or stay?
  2. Fleeing one hazard may result in meeting more deadly hazards. Soviet Gulag or Dresden? Lead out or stay?
  3. The grass is not always greener. Stay in Chicago as a laborer or return to Lithuania as a Baron? Lead out or stay?
  4. Gold and silver is sought after by the conquerors , whereas food is the ultimate wealth for the conquered.
  5. Gold will get you across a border or across a bridge, and someone else’s gold will buy a huge wedding for a daughter.
  6. Trust no one in times of chaos, especially one who has very strong socialist or communist beliefs.
  7. Your plans are not God’s plans.

I really enjoy the wisdom and wealth of information that is in your daily blog.

I know the importance of listening to your inner voice as well as wise council and being prepared. Living in a developing nation is never easy but being missionaries in a West African country known for its relative safety was a joy so we were a bit relaxed in our thinking and our perception of potential danger.  But then we began to hear and see things that made us a bit unsettled and we began to have that inner feeling that things were not going to be so easy to get, or to get to.  

It was little, almost imperceptible things, at first. Then the police became a little harder than usual to deal with and so did their demands for bribes. Because people in the public service and teachers were not getting paid they began protesting. Next came strikes by the cab companies, banks began having a harder time getting cash. It took us sometimes going back three days in a row to get money and grocery stores were having less on their shelves. Suddenly, it was no longer safe to be out alone or after dark. Our Missions sending agency had been telling us to make sure we were stocked up and prepared for all emergencies and not to rely on the availability of necessary items no matter how easy things seemed to be. They had cited not only the political environment but also the possibility of Y2K. We went through our home and listed everything we thought we might need to hole up in case of a political or an economic emergency and began to stock up. We had no possibility of a retreat elsewhere unless it was so dire that it would be through a U.S. Marine helicopter. (It nearly came to that) Christmas Eve 1999 was one I will never forget! We were woken up at about 4 a.m. to the sound of live ammo hitting our roof and all around us were the sounds of angry voices and a lot of gunfire. We realized that turning our lights on in our bedroom made us more visible so we quickly doused the lights and dressed in the dark. Pulling out our bug out bags, we added the envelope containing our passports, shot records, copies of our birth certificates and marriage license as well as different denominations of American currency and the local currency. Placing the bags in a semi hidden from view place, my husband went downstairs to see if there was any news on radio or television. There was nothing, only the now sporadic gunfire outside.

We tried calling the U.S. Embassy but the phone lines were not working and continued to only work occasionally. After it got light enough to see he went to the gate and opened the small hole that allowed us to see who was on the other side. A group of armed men had congregated outside our fence because we had the only tree large enough to provide shade at the intersection that they were controlling. One man quickly told him to shut the slide and stay hidden. He said “Pastor, we know you are in there. For your safety, we do not want to see your face”. My husband quickly complied. About an hour later a knock came at our gate and we very warily opened it to find that our Muslim French teacher and friend Daouda had been allowed in to give us news. The Ivory Coast was in the middle of a coup d’état. The President had fled the country and the military was in control. That afternoon they allowed a nurse from the infirmary across the street to come in. (She was a Muslim also as they would not allow any of our Christian friends in.)  Christmas day was very different than we had anticipated. We still had the Christmas tree that we had brought with us from the States and we had several brightly wrapped presents under the tree for our little one. We felt foolish at first opening the gifts and preparing for a holiday meal when so much destruction was going on around us. My husband wisely suggested that keeping things as normal as possible for the sake of the little one as well as for ourselves was the best possible thing we could do, There was one point though that we calmly quit eating and got the three of us safely tucked under our big dining room table as gunfire erupted from inside our neighbors house and yard. I must admit that I don’t remember tasting anything I had on the table. Keeping our routine as normal as circumstances would allow was another huge help.

During the next 10 days we were prisoners in our home. The only way we got any news was the once daily visit from Daouda and the nurse. We were so thankful for the preparations and thought we had taken in preparing for Y2K because we had need of nothing as far as food and personal items went. We lost power sporadically but we never lost water.  We did have 10 cases of 12 one liter bottles of water for back up. We also had had several small boxes of chocolates that we had intended to give as gifts for a few friends when they came over Christmas day. A little treat at night after supper was nice.

 There were holes in our preparations however, we found that if we wanted any light at all after dark that we needed to have a room that we could black out, we chose the room that had the most accessibility to everything. That happened to be our bedroom. We had a phone, bathroom, beds, and the easiest way to defend ourselves if need be. Since having a gun was not an option we had a metal baseball bat, oil and nails to throw on the narrow stairs and a whole lot of prayer. When the Internet came back briefly after two days we quickly renewed our contact information and sent it by e-mail to the U.S. Embassy. We were registered but sent an update because we had not been contacted by phone. Calling in to the embassy had proved to be impossible. Come to find out they had a wrong number listed and they had been trying to find us. We also dashed off e-mails to our daughters and son-in-laws in the States. Thinking to protect my mother who was in the hospital at the time I said not to tell her. I never thought that she would be in the hospital watching CNN news. She was terrified. I needed to have only one or two people that I sent my e-mail and let them send them on or call instead of trying to contact everyone myself. There wasn’t enough time and as much as I felt I was in control I wasn’t thinking straight. It is very important to have your contact list ready and in order of priority.     

All during this time we were caring for a very medically fragile two-year-old that we were in the process of adopting. Thus the nurse being allowed in was a major blessing. She brought in a piece of fresh fruit or vegetable for the little one because she could hide them in her purse. That was another hole in our preparations. We had plenty of the starchy stuff like rice and pasta and we had a few canned vegetables but very few. Canned food was not only very pricey but we never thought to buy it because of the wonderful abundance of the fresh that was literally outside our door daily. You do get very tired of a mostly carbohydrate diet very easily.

This is the sum of my experience: Listen to those around you that have true wisdom, do the very best you can do to get and stay prepared, tweaking the situation as your life situations change.  Check to make sure all your paperwork and contact information stays up to date. And the best advice of all is whatever you do, do it prayerfully and thoughtfully. I look back now and I see the hand of God in many things but the ones that stand out the most are these. The military stationed at our gate was frightening but stopped our home from being robbed. Our concern for others and friendships with all peoples led to our having news and medical advice when it was needed most and when we could do nothing to get them on our own. When it comes, it may or may not be what we think, keep a cool head and your mind in the WORD. Maybe you have a country retreat, maybe you have to stay put. When the Schumer hits the fan the greatest best preparations you can have made is the time you have spent on your knees. - Grandmother of 32 in Louisiana

In the wake of the Japanese nuclear plant melt-down situation, I called a safe room manufacturer for a hand cranked air filter.  It was over $2,000.  Too much.  I did learn that you need both particulate (HEPA) and gas (carbon) filters.   I have jury-rigged an NBC air filtration system.  Here it is:

Go to a hydroponics store or find one online.  Yes, the one's that people go to in order to grow marijuana. You will need an inline fan.  I used a AXC150B-C fan.  It is a little more expensive but German engineering costs more.  (Quieter too). You will need a carbon filter.  I used a Can-33 activated carbon filter (made in Canada) You will need a 6 inch Greenhouse HEPA filter.  It can be washed and reused but only put it back in your system if it is completely dry.

Total cost about $450.

The HEPA filter is attached to the air intake of the fan. The Carbon filter is attached to the air exhaust of the fan.

This is a recirculating system, not an overpressure system. At 300 CFM, it will clear the air of a 10'x10'x10' room in 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

It stands completed at 30" high and 16" wide at it's widest point. It uses 130 watts of current. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: A HEPA filter system with air pushed by an electric fan is best suited to someone that has a fairly capable alternative energy system. Anyone without a large power source that can be relied upon for weeks should substitute a hand-cranked fan. And even those that do have a large alternative energy system should always have a "Plan B": An electric filtered ventilation system should have a hand-cranked or pedal-cranked backup. There are too many potential points of failure to entrust our lives to continuity of electric power.

Power to the Pinko People (and to their wall outlets): Demonstration In Detroit Demands End to Utility Shutoffs.

R.G. forwarded a sobering economic forecast from the CBO: The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021. (As my friend the late Chuck Brumley was fond of saying: "If your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.")

Coburn: Government ‘Stole’ From Social Security. (A hat tip to R.P.B. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Michigan Bill Would Impose "Financial Martial Law" 

Investor Portfolio Preparation For Hyperinflation, Assets For Protection And Profits  

Silver Bullion Coin Premiums Rise; Asian Demand For Gold Robust  

Silver Manipulation Investigation May Spark Price Spike

I was saddened to hear from Granny Miller that Derry Brownfield passed away. I had been a guest on Derry's radio show a couple of times. He impressed me as both a very patriotic and very personable guy. He was also very knowledgeable. Derry probably forgot more about livestock and agriculture than I'll ever know. He will be missed!

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The folks at Hardened Structures wrote to mention a new EMP Engineering web site.  They provide professional analysis, design engineering, fabrication, manufacturing, installation and construction.  This includes HEMP Resistant Electrical Generators and HEMP Resistant Enclosures of all types and  sizes.  

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House-Size Asteroid Zooms Close by Earth. (Thanks to loyal content contributor K.A.F. for the link.)

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For readers that have written me to ask about predicting the Jet Stream's path: see this web site. (Thanks to 'Ol Remus for the link.)

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Is onslaught of 'gun show loophole' legislation--and worse--about to begin?

"Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, [and] thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.

And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I [am] with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible."  - Jeremiah 15:19-21 (KJV)

Your house might be secured. In your basement or workshop you have your reloading outfit, your press, your scale and all of your dies. You can load thousands of rounds in a couple of days if you choose. So what if you have to leave your home in case of the proverbial excrement hitting the rotating circulating blades? How will you pack up your reloading outfit? How much ammunition can you possibly carry if the need arose? Ammunition runs out, especially if you can’t get to the store to replenish that supply and you are away from home.  

In the case of an emergency, you need to be able to go mobile with everything, even your reloading gear needs to be able to move. Now mind you, you are not going to be able to take everything, but you don’t need it all. I will show you what you need to condense your reloading outfit from a full sized bench to a back pack. What you will need are the basics to be able to keep your ammo supply stocked up away from home. You will be able to pack all of this necessary gear in five minutes and be out the door.

When I worked a part time overnight job that only required my presence next to a telephone a couple of years ago, most of the night was spent sitting behind a desk listening to the radio and fighting to keep my eyelids open. Eventually I decided that I would bring my reloading supplies with me, and while I didn’t completely load the rounds, I at least prepared the cases so that when I was at home, I spent less time at the bench. This allowed me to spend more time actually loading up live rounds, and if I could do the prep work behind that desk, than it would not be that much harder to load my own ammunition away from home.

Before you start packing any gear away you will need to decide which guns you are going to grab if you need to leave home in a hurry. Some calibers will be tougher than others to carry large amounts of supplies for. For instance, you can get away with packing a lot more bullets and brass for a .223 Remington than a .45-70 and it will take up far less powder for each round that you load. I would also recommend that you not make a portable kit based around an exotic gun or a wildcat that ammunition is already tough to get ammunition for, so leave that .416 Rigby behind and grab your .30-30 Winchester instead.

I have few rifles in my collection, and I have not yet started loading shotguns shells, so most of what I reload for is my revolvers. I have several guns chambered in .38 Special and .357 Magnum so if I had to grab a gun or two, you can bet that they would on the top of the list. I won’t go through all of the merits for picking those, but I can reload all of them with only one or two different powders.  Let’s go through the checklist of what you will need to reload while away from home.

Case Preparation

I keep a few pieces of 0000 stainless steel wool in my pack for cleaning up the cases in case that they need it, which after a few minutes gets them decent enough to run through my reloading dies. I do keep a couple of bottles of case lube, which makes life a lot easier than trying to force the cases in. The last thing you want is to have to try and fix a die while you are away from your bench and tools.
The next things you will need of course are a set of reloading dies and a press. You can get away with an outfit like the Lee Loader which is good for a single caliber only, but they are time consuming and can be noisy. I prefer the Lee Hand Press, which is much faster and is nearly silent. As for the reloading dies, that choice is up to you as most have the same quirks. I will say that I prefer Lee because I do not need any tools to make adjustments, and little tools and wrenches can get lost if not careful.

Lee makes a very nice set of case trimmers and cutters you will need one for each caliber. Get the large cutter with the ball end that looks something like a gear shift knob, it will make your life easier. You will need a primer pocket cleaner and a deburring tool, but these are small and take up little room. I have two of each in case one gets lost.
You will need a good caliper to measure your cases, get one with a dial and not one that is battery powered. I would recommend one of the small plastic calipers that can simply measure the length as a back up, as they are light and take up very little space.

Once you have your cases resized, trimmed and ready to go, now you will need to have them primed. You can add a priming attachment to the Hand Press, but I prefer the Lee Auto Prime hand priming tool. If you are not partial to Lee, RCBS makes a similar tool, but it is much more expensive. If you get the Lee Auto Prime tool, remember that it requires separate shell holders that are different than the ones for your press. Once your case is primed then you can move on to the next step.

Adding Powder

Before you add powder, you are going to have to find a way to measure it. I would take two scales. The first would be my RCBS 750. Even though it is a digital scale, it is small and has a 9V battery backup, and I keep a fresh battery in it at all times while I use the plug in adaptor at home. My second scale is a Lee Safety Scale. It is cheap, and it does not need any oil as it is a magnetic beam scale. It is also small and light and fits in a pack easily, even in its box.

You will of course need some loading data to know what your loads are going to be. What I have done is take all of the loads I might need for my guns and write them down on a small notepad. I include the load data from all of my loading manuals so that I don’t have to bring all of those manuals along, just the compact little notepad.

As far as powder, I would only take two different powders, a pound of Winchester 231 and a pound of 2400. The reason for that if I had to take a long gun and a couple of handguns, I can reload my .22 Hornet and .357 Magnum with 2400, and my .38 Special with the Winchester 231. I would only need one type of primer, as all three use small pistol primers. You would need to sort out for yourself which calibers you would take, but if you could narrow it down to just a couple of choices, you would be well off.


I know some people here would opt for carrying around some lead and a bullet mold, but since I don’t know if I am going to end up where there is a chance to build a fire where I can sit and mold by own lead, I would rather bring some bullets with me. Again this is where the .38 and .357 are handy because I can pack a couple hundred different bullets of the same caliber without breaking my back. If you feel like carrying more bullets, then by all means, carry more. This is going to be your portable outfit. I feel that if I have to pack around over five hundred pistol bullets, than it means I will be out in the elements for a very long time.

I would take every opportunity to load at home when you can with the Hand Press so that you can get familiar with it. I have sat many times when I got home from work after my wife was asleep in my living room resizing and priming cases. It is a different feeling than using a typical bench mounted press. The more that you use it, the quicker you will get loading up ammunition. I can tell that loading fifty rounds with the hand press and a small balance beam scale is going to seem very tedious especially if you are used to a digital scale and a progressive press. What used to take you only a small amount of time will now seem like it takes hours. You will have to get used to it.

There a couple of other little things that you should have in your pack. Make sure that you have a small plastic powder funnel, and a few small powder scoops in addition to the one that comes with the reloading dies. An overlooked but necessary item is a bullet puller, the best is the RCBS. In addition to the three part shell holder that comes with it, the RCBS bullet puller can also be used with a standard shell holder that comes with the reloading dies. You just tighten the cap and it works even better than what comes with the puller. You need the bullet puller in case you need to pull some of your own rounds, but also if you come across ammunition that you can break down for the components (say you find some .357 Magnum ammo and you only have a .38 Special, you can trim down the brass and use the bullets once they are separated).

My portable reloading outfit has been tuned down so that it weighs less than twenty pounds and can fit in my backpack. That includes two sets of dies, the Hand Press, the Auto Prime, two pounds of powder, primers, and all the little tools. I have made it so I can grab that pack and head out in a hurry, a complete reloading outfit ready to go when I need it.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Soap is arguably one of the greatest inventions, ever.  Most people do not need to be convinced of the advantages of soap, especially in terms of preventing infections.  Using soap for personal and property cleaning when medical care and antibiotics are not readily available will be a vital part of avoiding contagious diseases.  Elegant in its simplicity, soap is made from two ingredients, lye and fat, through a chemical process called saponification.  This process cannot occur without both ingredients in the proper proportion.  Making soap for household use post-TEOTWAWKI raises some challenges, two in particular that I believe warrant the most consideration:  first, using fats that are needed as a calorie source to make soap and second, storing lye for soap-making.  Lye is a dangerous chemical, with several pitfalls that make the possibility of injury high, particularly for someone who is unaware or indifferent to the safety issues involved. 

Before purchasing a bottle or two of lye and tucking it back on the shelves to store for a time when making soap seems a good idea you should have an understanding of the risks of handling lye and the treatment of injuries that will occur if lye is not handled with extreme caution.  Injuries from lye can be thermal or chemical burns or both.   Lye is a strong base that will react with many substances, taking the hydrogen ions (H+) from those substances to react with the hydroxyl ion (OH -) in sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or potassium hydroxide (KOH), either of which is called lye.  This chemical reaction is exothermic, producing a large amount of heat.  The heat generated can be enough to cause a small explosion in the presence of combustibles.  Lye has a pH of 13.5 for KOH and 14 for NaOH when in a 5% aqueous solution (for comparison, common white vinegar is an acidic solution of about 5% concentration).  In the measurement of acid and base strengths, a pH of 14 is the strongest base possible. 

When in contact with skin, mucous membranes such as the nose, mouth and airways or with eyes, lye will react immediately to create a potentially severe chemical burn in addition to the thermal burn from the exothermic reaction.  This burning will continue for at least several minutes after exposure until first aid is administered which is essentially diluting the base as quickly as possible.  Copious washing must be performed; up to sixty minutes of uninterrupted irrigation for the skin and for the eyes, depending on the amount of lye the person is exposed to.  Unless the water is grossly dirty or contaminated with raw sewage you may use plain water to perform the irrigation, in large quantities and do not worry about using only sterile water or saline if none is immediately available.  The key is to dilute the lye as quickly as possible.  Do not attempt to neutralize the base by adding an acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice) to the skin or eyes since this will release more heat and worsen thermal burns that have occurred in addition to the chemical burns.

The long term consequences of lye burns can be severe.  Permanent scarring of the skin and subcutaneous tissues is common following a lye burn.  Blindness is easily a consequence of lye burns to the eyes due to corneal scarring and clouding.  Irritation of the airway can cause pulmonary edema (or swelling of the lung tissue and fluid accumulation in the lungs) which can take up to 48 hours after exposure to occur and can be fatal. 

Lye must be stored in a tightly sealed container to avoid chemical reaction with carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air which will make the lye into sodium carbonate, which is not effective in the saponification of fats to make soap.   A tightly sealed container is also necessary to prevent the absorption of water from the atmosphere.  Lye can absorb enough water from the atmosphere to make a slurry or solution which makes measuring and using the lye difficult.  Desiccant packs are not effective in preventing lye from absorbing water because the lye absorbs water better than the desiccant pack and so will actually absorb water from the desiccant pack. 

When dissolving lye for use extreme caution must be taken.  Contact with water causes a violent, almost explosive, reaction and lye can be easily splashed at this time, causing burns to skin, eyes and mucous membranes unless appropriate protective gear is in use.  Always use eye protection and heavy rubber aprons and gloves when mixing and using lye.  Clean these items after use by copious washing where the run-off will not be able to be contacted by children or animals. 

Contact of lye with metals, especially aluminum, magnesium, zinc, tin, chromium, brass and bronze will create hydrogen, a highly explosive gas.  Care must be taken to avoid contact with these metals and lye needs to be kept in appropriate containers and never moved to a container for storage not originally intended for lye storage.  Once the container is emptied, (again) care must be taken when discarding the container to avoid contact with skin or chemical reactions. 

If all of this isn’t enough to scare you off storing lye without the appropriate cautions please consider some of the other factors in making soap.  A calculation of the cost of producing hand-made soap suggests that it may be more economical to store soap rather than lye.  (Certainly it will be safer.)

Most recipes for soap specify approximately 10 parts of fat for each part of lye, although this is extremely variable based on the type of fat being used.  To produce soap post-TEOTWAWKI will require a relatively large amount of fat, a precious resource.  As many authors on this blog have pointed out, fat will be one of the most difficult food categories to provide for our families, yet is incredibly important.  This seems strange in today’s society where fat is ubiquitous and almost no one goes without enough fat in their diet.    Without fat however, fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are not absorbed from the diet and deficiencies can occur.  Fats are also an efficient source of calories, providing 9 Calories/gram, compared to 4 Calories/gram for protein, carbohydrates and alcohol.  For most people, using fat to make soap will be taking an important food item from their families when they need it the most. 

On a search of the Internet the least expensive price I could find for lye was $3.49 for a bottle of 32 ounces (2 pounds) or approximately $0.11 per ounce. The cost of making soap also needs to include the cost of the fat used in the process (which is often left out of the recommendation to store lye for the purpose of making soap at a later date).  Lye must react with a fat to produce soap.  The cost of fats varies widely but for argument’s sake consider olive oil at $4.06 for a 17 ounce bottle or $0.24 per ounce. 

Most recipes for soap that I have seen require about 1 ounce of lye and approximately 10 ounces of oil to make approx 11 ounces of soap.  Simple arithmetic tells us that $0.11 + $2.40/11 = about $0.23/oz for hand-made soap so a four ounce bar would cost about $0.92.  At the local big box discount store in the last month a 4 ounce bar of Ivory soap was $0.38 when bought in a pack of 10 bars.  Ivory soap can be used for washing clothing and dishes as well as bathing since it does not contain perfumes or coloring agents.  A year’s supply of soap can be purchased for under $20, depending on the size of your family.  In my humble opinion, after TEOTWAWKI, any fat that is stored or acquired/grown is better consumed as a calorie source and to ensure adequate fat-soluble vitamins for you and your family rather than being used as a source to make soap.

Recognizing that even the largest stash of soap won’t last forever, a reasonable alternative to storing NaOH or KOH is learning to make your own lye from wood ashes.  Recipes can be found on the Internet by searching for “how to make lye”.  You can make the amount of lye you need at the time you intend to use it without the risks of long-term storage.  This lye is still dangerous if not handled with care but since it is already in solution and dilute it is somewhat less dangerous than solid lye.  Once your supply of soap is exhausted, making lye in the amount that you need for the current use without storing it for future use seems to be a much safer option. 

I would suggest that it is false economy and dangerous to store lye for TEOTWAWKI in the anticipation of making soap.  If you really want to store lye to make your own soap please start now, gaining experience in handling lye when medical help will be much easier to access when an accident does occur.

Sodium Hydroxide Material Safety Data Sheet.  (9 September 2009). 

Potassium Hydroxide Material Safety Data Sheet.  (1 September 2009). 

Like most first time mothers, I am fortunate to say that I had the luxury of prenatal care and the vast availability and surplus of supplies after my son was born.  We were able to take our time transitioning from disposable diapers to cloth diapers and when my breast milk did not come in as quickly as he would have liked, we had the availability of formula.  Imagine the compounding stress a first time mother would experience with limited prenatal care, no mentors with breastfeeding knowledge and nowhere for miles around with supplies to care for a newborn.  Most people would say, you would manage or die trying.  Or that, “a mother’s inner instinct would kick in and she would just know”.   Sometimes the motherly instinct is just not enough, a possible reason why formula fed babies are just as prominent as breastfed babies.  If you are planning to have children in the future, now would be the time to prepare your mind and your shelves for the possibility of having to do it all on your own. 

If I had not read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding [Book] by Diane Wiessinger, La Leche League International I would not have turned to their web site for more support.  Picture this, it is the middle of the night the whole house is asleep and your newborn starts violently screaming and crying while nursing.  He is popping on and off the breast and this has never happened before.  You as the mother have also never had friends that nursed their children so you have no one to call.  I reached for my computer and started reading online.  What I found was my breasts were in oversupply and there were specific things I needed to do in the following days to get them back to a regular flow.  There were also different positions to feed the baby in to help him deal with the oversupply.  So you understand, oversupply would resemble someone sticking a hose in your mouth and turning it on.  Seems like just a little too much at once, right?  I’m not sure what I would have done without the resources, knowledge and expertise I received from the La Leche League online.  (  But if a breakdown situation were to occur and new mothers are unable to reference resources online, having the book at your fingertips will be a life saver.  With readily accessible knowledge and practical experience in pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding and child rearing, La Leche League is a group to reference.  Even if you are years away from even thinking about little ones this book will help you get through the toughest times of learning to breastfeed your first born.  And honestly in an emergency situation your breast milk is the safest and most reliable source of food for your baby or your young children.  Although every child is different, after the first you will at least be able to identify situations and know how to rectify them.  I.e., oversupply, thrush, breastfeeding a preemie, not latching, growth spurts, cleft lip. The list goes on and on. 

We all know babies yearn to be held and to be close to their mother.  Trust me ladies, your arms will get tired and you need your hands to get other important survival functions accomplished, whatever those tasks may be.  (Gardening, hiking to your cache in the woods, transporting water, preparing food)  You will want to have some form of a baby carrier.  The two I will name are the two I use frequently and that I am most familiar with.  In my opinion having any type of carrier, even if it was a piece of cloth and a sling ring would be better than nothing.    The Ergo carrier ( ) and the Moby sling ( ) are my two preferred carriers.  The Ergo allows you to front, side and back carry while the Moby can snug up a newborn close to your heart where your little one feels most safe and calm.  The worst thing to have in the midst of chaos is a baby in distress.  Both of these carriers also give you the option to breastfeed while carrying which gives you more security in difficult situations.  Having the baby close to you and in the carrier while feeding will keep the baby calm while also making the feeding easier to accomplish.  Babies are not an exact science but from experience these carriers can help calm a child when nothing else will. 

You can expect to perform over 6,000 diapers changes in the first two years for your young one.  At a current cost of $0.25 per disposable, diapering is expensive and can quickly become extremely problematic when resources are limited, and the sad truth is, as gas prices continue to spike there could be an immediate limit on all kinds of resources we take for granted.  And what makes you think baby items would not be one of them?  If you live in a warm climate diapering may not be necessary.  Babies all over the country go without diapers.   But for me, living in the Midwest and having to get through the winter months year after year, diapers are an absolute necessity.  When layering clothing and staying warm means life or death, you are going to want a diaper system that works.  All-in-one cloth diapers seem expensive to stock pile, a cost one may not be able to justify with or without children.  But what is not as expensive is ultra-absorbent fabrics and pins to fasten the diapers.  The fabric could be used for many other things around the house/homestead/retreat as well.  Fabric is a very useful and versatile resource.  If you can find it, you will want to use fabrics without dyes and organic is best although not necessary.   Most absorbent types include but are not limited to; wool, hemp, micro fleece, fleece, terry cotton, microfiber, Sherpa, or Zorb.  Quite honestly, you could make a diaper out of almost anything.  The site listed here gives some in depth descriptions of each of these fabrics while also linking “places to buy”.  ( Other online resources to find used cloth diapers would be craigslist ( or a diapering sharing network (, ( where you can find a diapering forum, with diaper sharing as well.  Researching all of the different cloth diapering systems out there and finding one that best suits you is worth it in the long run.  Here ( ) is another break down of the different diapering systems out there and the lingo.  If you can afford it, putting up an extra cloth diaper system for barter may work toward your benefit in the future.  Another key reason is space.  It would take a lot of space to store 6,000 diapers in the basement and what if you had to transport them?  With cloth, you have one duffel bag of all your diapering supplies and it’s ready to grab and go! Lastly, how would you ever know specific sizing requirements for your baby as they grow and need bigger diapers?  Cloth diapers grow with your baby.  No guess work there. 

Now let’s talk about food.  You should have a plan in place when it is time to start introducing solids to your baby.  Without the resources that outline which foods the baby is able to eat and when, you could end up with a sick or very discontent baby.  I will recommend two books I have read and trust.  The first book goes into detail about feeding your infant through toddler stages, until you are feeding the child exclusively table food.Baby Greens: A Live-Food Approach for Children of All Ages”- by Michaela Lynn.   The next book is a “how-to” on making your own baby food.  Obviously, preparedness minded mothers cannot rely solely on prepared jarred food.  If everything around you is in shortage expect baby food to be among them.  The book I recommend for making your own homemade baby food is Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Lizzie Vann and Daphne Razazan.  Having a well thought and researched plan is one of the most important things you can do for your family.  Babies and small children take extra care and resources.  I think when prepping they often get the short end of the stick. 

Lastly, have a clothing stash for when they grow – and they grow fast!  My son was completely out of newborn clothing after just 4 weeks.  The next size, 0-3 months lasted another 4 weeks.  He is currently 4 months old and wearing size 6-12 months.  I am hoping he makes it through the summer before starting into the larger size 12-18 months.  My point, they grow faster than you can believe.  You are not crazy for stocking up.  If you can afford new clothes, more power to you.  But what I have found is going to my local children’s thrift stores on sale days brings home a lot of clothing for little monies.  My son is clothed for the next year and he is only 4 months old.  I also buy key items like heavy fleece jackets and insulated jeans.  You can bet no matter what, God willing, your child will continue to grow and at one point wear the bigger clothing.  Winter jackets may be something to consider buying new and of quality.   Also, there is always the possibility of bartering the clothes as well.  Have your stack and a barter stack.  When a tee-shirt at the thrift store is $.50 on a sale day, you can barely go wrong.  Don’t forget shoes and boots.  In an emergency situation I look for thrift stores to be of the highest value and for key/quality items to go fast.  The masses are not looking right now, which makes for plentiful rummaging for you and me. 

All of these things are not completely necessary to rear your baby.  But in unthinkable times when shortages are the norm and security is always on your mind they will make your life a lot easier and give you the resources to adequately care for your ever growing baby. 
As a quick overview these items are worth having in your stash:

Breastfeeding Resources-
“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding “- by Diane Wiessinger, La Leche League International

Baby Carriers-

Cloth Diapering –

Baby Food –
“Baby Greens: A Live-Food Approach for Children of All Ages”- by Michaela Lynn
“Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook”- by Lizzie Vann and Daphne Razazan.

Hello James,
It is with a heavy heart that I watch the nuclear incident unfold in Japan. I am watching my nightmare come true, and I pray for the safety of the people in Japan. As you know, my article that was published in your blog last September was primarily written to alert the public about the possible EMP effects on nuclear power plants. While the initiating event may have been different, the results of the loss of all AC power at the site results in virtually identical consequences. Events are playing out very similarly to those that I had described. There are certain differences, however, since I had described the events for a pressurized water reactor (PWR). The reactors involved in the accident in Japan are boiling water reactors (BWRs).

I would like to take the opportunity to both alert your readers about the truth of what is happening and also dispel some rumors and incorrect assumptions regarding the events at the nuclear plant in Japan. I have seen many “talking heads” on the news this past week that have virtually no nuclear background and frankly are not qualified to be making assumptions or assertions.

The Fukushima Units #1 through #5 at Daiichi are older GE designed BWR-3 and BWR-4 Mk.I, boiling water reactors that were all built in the 1970's.  I used to design fuel for these types of reactors when I worked at GE some years ago.  In general, I would say that BWRs are actually inherently safer than PWRs.  When I was at GE they used to say that BWR stood for "BEST Water Reactor."  This older design, however, is not the best design for accident scenarios.  It has a torus or "doughnut" for the suppression pool and it is limited in its capacity.  Also, these containment structures are smaller than later designs, and generally considered not as robust.

I found these excellent papers on the internet about Japan's BWR reactor designs:

Also, this from Wikipedia regarding the older BWR-3, Mk.I containment: 

"Though the present fleet of BWRs are less likely to suffer core damage from the 1 in 100,000 reactor-year limiting fault than the present fleet of PWRs are (due to increased ECCS robustness and redundancy) there have been concerns raised about the pressure containment ability of the as-built, unmodified Mark I containment - that such may be insufficient to contain pressures generated by a limiting fault combined with complete ECCS failure that results in extremely severe core damage. In this double worst-case, 1 in 100,000,000 reactor-year scenario, an unmodified Mark I containment is speculated to allow some degree of radioactive release to occur. However, this is mitigated by the modification of the Mark I containment; namely, the addition of an outgas stack system that, if containment pressure exceeds critical setpoints, will allow the orderly discharge of pressurizing gasses after the gasses pass through activated carbon filters designed to trap radionuclides."

I found this document in the NRC reading room.  Basically, a Station Blackout Event (loss of off-site an on-site AC power), is perhaps the worst event that these types of BWRs can face. 

Here is an excerpt.  I added the bold type:

"For station blackout accidents, containment systems will not be functional and the drywell floor will often be dry, leaving the plant susceptible to drywell shell melt-through. In addition, the reactor vessel will normally be at elevated pressure, which increases the containment loads at vessel breach. This means that station blackout accidents pose a severe challenge to Mark I and Mark II containments, and therefore, these accidents are often important contributors to the frequency of containment failure."

I will say that even though the 9.0 magnitude earthquake was beyond the design basis of the Fukushima 1 nuclear plant, the plant actually weathered the earthquake itself quite well and shut down as designed. It is the tsunami that caused the bulk of the problems that the plant operators now face.

The backup emergency diesel generators actually started as designed and began to power the auxiliary pumps designed to circulate cooling water in the reactors. However, the tsunami arrived at the site and overflowed the seawall that was created to protect it from a tsunami. The height of the tsunami was also beyond the design basis of the plant. It is my understanding that the seawall was about 6.5m tall, and the height of the tsunami was above 7.0m. The tsunami destroyed the diesel fuel tanks for the emergency diesel generators and then flooded the below ground switchgear rooms that contain the diesel generators themselves. Therefore, the diesels stopped running about an hour after they started.

The loss of both AC and DC power and the flooded switchgear room also meant the loss of most of the instrumentation that tells the operators what is going on inside the reactors. (Imagine trying to drive your car blindfolded.)

To their credit, the operators at Fukushima understood their predicament. They quickly made the decision that they had an emergency on their hands. They also made the decision to pump sea water into the reactors to stem the overheating cores. This decision was a fateful one, and one I am sure was not taken lightly, since it meant that they understood that the reactors would be permanently ruined. Their once multi-billion dollar asset was turned into a multi-billion dollar liability. It is my understanding that the sea water was pumped via fire suppression system diesel pumps and fire trucks. However, these pumps cannot generate the kind of pressure that was needed to overcome the rising pressure inside the reactor.

Without the added cooling water, the reactor units experienced what is known as a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA). Water level fell, exposing the fuel rods. This lead to fuel damage and release of radionuclides into the containment.

Water levels continued to drop, uncovering the reactor cores by varying amounts. The exposed fuel rods caused the temperature and pressure to rise rapidly, generating steam.

Operators were forced to vent pressure from the reactors. This lead to very high pressures in the containment structures. It is my understanding that pressures inside the containment structures reached about 120 psi, about twice the design basis. This could cause the containment structures to fail.

This steam reacted with the zirconium fuel cladding to form hydrogen. It is this hydrogen that is believed to have caused the explosions seen in reactor #1 and reactor #3 buildings. It may also be responsible for what may be an explosion that potentially has caused a crack or leak in the containment vessel in Unit #2, perhaps in the region of the suppression pool.

In Unit #4, there were no assemblies currently in the reactor vessel. All assemblies had been off-loaded into the spent fuel pool. It should be noted that all spent fuel pools at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have not been properly cooled since all power was lost. Just like fuel in the reactors, spent fuel also retains heat for a long period of time and must be cooled. There was also an explosion in reactor building #4, and a fire was seen. It is not yet clear what the cause of the fire was or if the fire has actually been put out. There have been conflicting reports on this issue. However, it is my opinion that the fire may have been caused by the interaction of the zirconium fuel rods with the steam in the then boiling spent fuel pool.

Measurable amounts of Iodine and Cesium have been detected even more than 30km from the plant, which indicates that fission products have been released and that fuel cladding has been compromised for at least some of the fuel rods. Radiation levels inside the control room reached over 1000 times normal.

Radiation levels around the reactor buildings are currently too high for personnel to respond properly to ongoing issues such as possible spent fuel pool fires. On Tuesday, radiation levels just outside of the reactor buildings had reached a high of 400 milliseverts (equal to 40 REM). Twelve to fifteen hours at this level is a fatal dose of radiation. All but essential operations personnel were evacuated from the plant site as result of this level of radiation.

Currently, the concerns revolve around two issues, 1) the status and integrity of the containment vessels surrounding the three reactors that were operating, and 2) the status of the spent fuel pools. In fact, since the reactor buildings are no longer intact, and there is no containment structure surrounding the spent fuel pools, it is actually the spent fuel pools that are the greater danger.

It is clear that there has likely been fuel damage in all of the operating reactors and possibly also in the spent fuel pool in reactor building #4. Spent fuel pools in reactor buildings #5 and #6 are also still heating up.

We have seen continuing variation in measured radiation levels at the plant. This may be because of fluctuating winds blowing the airborne particles around to various directions, sometimes toward detectors and sometimes away from them.

It should be noted that this event is far from over. As of Wednesday morning, Japan time, white smoke or steam was coming out of the #3 reactor building, and higher levels of radiation were being observed. It is unclear if the increased levels of radiation are coming from reactor #2, where the containment vessel may be compromised, reactor #3, from which steam or smoke is being observed or reactor #4, where fire was observed yesterday. There are large holes in the side of the #4 reactor building which may have been caused by the fire or from the explosion of hydrogen. The spent fuel pool in reactor #4 may also be boiling or may be on fire. This fuel in the spent fuel pool will melt if the water boils away and it may even catch fire. Preparations are being made to inject water into this spent fuel pool as soon as possible. Helicopters from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have already attempted to drop water from the air into the spent fuel pool in the Unit #3 reactor building.  Attempts to use water cannon from police riot trucks apparently failed due to the inability of the personnel to get close enough to accurately place enough water into the desired location.  However, special fire trucks used to put out hazardous aviation fires were successful in getting at least some water into the Unit #3 reactor building.  How much of this water actually made it into the spent fuel pool is not clear.  Certain Japanese experts have declared this as “somewhat effective,” since steam was seen rising from the building and the levels of radiation around the unit supposedly dropped very slightly, but the volume of water required to completely re-cover the fuel rods is higher than what has so far been sprayed or dropped onto the site.

It should be noted that this is an unprecedented situation. Japanese officials are struggling to contain and resolve this situation. Lack of functioning instrumentation is hampering both interpretation and mitigation of this event. This is event will go on for many weeks, if not months.

TEPCO has now started efforts to restore high voltage power lines to the stricken plant. This would be the best chance to regain control over the situation, by restoring AC power to the cooling systems.

What everyone wants to know is, what are the best case and worst case scenarios and other possible outcomes?

The best case is that TEPCO operators regain control of the plants by adding adequate cooling water to the reactors and the spent fuel pools and the containment vessels remain intact. There will still be a huge cleanup effort required, and the plant will never operate again. This event will still last for many months as removal of the fuel at least from the spent fuel pools must occur (since the spent fuel pools are now exposed to the environment) and most operations will initially need to be done remotely due to the radiation levels. The cost of even this best case will be in at least the tens of billions of dollars, and may be in the hundreds of billions.

The worst case is what everyone fears, but those in the know don't want to talk about. Officials are all trying to put on a good face and spin things in a positive way. However, the worst cases are these:

1. One or more of the operating cores meltdown, the containment vessels fail, and at least part of the contents of the contained fuel is released into the environment. This would be a disaster exceeded only by Chernobyl. Chernobyl is still a worse disaster than this, since that reactor had no containment at all. I believe that it is still likely that the containment vessels will contain most of the radioactive fission products.

2. All of the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pools, which have no containment structure, either melt or catch fire, and release much of their contained fission products into the environment. This is an absolute worse case scenario, and locally could even be worse than Chernobyl, since the volume of fuel contained in the spent fuel pools exceeds the volume contained in any one reactor core. However, since there has not been a large explosion at the site that has lofted large amounts of radionuclides into the air, the area which will be affected is likely to be much smaller than the area affected by Chernobyl.

People are asking if a similar accident could happen in the USA. The honest answer is yes, but it is not nearly as likely.  Many lessons were learned as a result of the accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, and modifications were made to all US reactors as a result of these lessons learned.  The east coast of the USA is not generally prone to tsunami. There are only two reactor sites on the west coast of the USA, the plant at San Onofre in southern California and the Diablo Canyon plant, located near San Luis Obispo.  Of these two, the San Onofre site is perhaps the more at risk.  The Diablo Canyon plant has its critical systems far above the level of the ocean. Per haps the most vulnerable sites in the USA are the St. Lucie plant on the east coast of central Florida, the Turkey Point plant, south of Miami, and the Crystal River plant, on Florida's west coast. The most likely risk to these sites is hurricane storm surge. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 greatly affected the Turkey Point power plant and that event became the NRC standard for hurricane storm events and Station Blackout events.

There has been a run on potassium iodide and potassium iodate pills in the USA as a result of the event in Japan. Let me dispel some misconceptions and alleviate some of the fears of your readers. How radiation (or rather, radioactive particles that give off radiation) travels is highly dependent upon the direction, speed and altitude of the prevailing winds, and the weight and size of the particles. The closer to the area of the incident that you are, the more likely that there will be particles which fall to the ground in that area.

Californians have nothing to worry about from this incident in Japan, and anyone there who purchases KI tablets for this event is wasting their money. Any possible radiation that might reach there would be so diluted and dispersed by the time that it arrived that while it may be measurable, it will have virtually no health effects.

Also, the event at Chernobyl involved an explosion that lofted particles much higher into the atmosphere than anything that has so far happened in Japan. While there were apparently several hydrogen explosions in Japan, these apparently did not contain significant radionuclides, as the reactor containment structures were at that time still intact.

Even the fire in reactor building #4, which had assemblies only in the spent fuel pool, did not have a large explosion. Therefore any radioactive particles that were released from this fire will likely be deposited much closer to the site itself and are not likely to travel very far before falling to the ground. The latest radiation readings at the site boundary are currently only between 2 to 3 millirem per hour. This is not a significant dose rate, and workers could work in this environment for many days or even weeks without experiencing any radiation symptoms. (See the NEI web site for the latest updates.)

At this time, prevailing winds seem to be taking any particles directly out to the open ocean due east of Japan. I see no cause for alarm for any US mainland state (or even Hawaii).

Calculations have been performed which show that the area of maximum danger area is 50 miles or less, and safer areas would be in the 100 to 200 mile range. Beyond 300 miles from the site, I wouldn't be concerned. If I were the Japanese officials, however, I would recommend extending the evacuation zone to at least 50 miles.

We have seen how significantly that not just Japan but the world has been affected by these events. While panic has generally been averted in Japan, and people there are behaving in an orderly manner, there have still been shortages of food, water, fuel and other commodities. Many people have been displaced from their homes. Financial markets have been roiled. There is even a shortage of salt now in stores in China, as people there are [mistakenly] afraid that the sea will be affected and the sea salt which they obtain from the sea will be contaminated!

All of this from an incident at just one nuclear power plant.  What would happen if this incident happened in the USA?  What if it happened at dozens of nuclear plants at the same time?  What if communications, banking, power, water distribution, sewage treatment, internet access and transportation were all crippled at the same time?

I would like to again emphasize the point that an EMP event resulting in an extended grid down situation could cause a very similar event. There is only adequate diesel fuel on site to power emergency diesels for 7 days for most commercial nuclear plants in the USA. After that, you are in essentially the same situation as the Japanese find themselves - lack of power to provide any cooling to either the reactors or the spent fuel pools. Imagine if this event were to happen at multiple sites in the USA simultaneously!  How to mitigate this? One way is to ensure that additional diesel fuel and spare parts are available at all commercial reactors.  Diesel generators and their fuel tanks should be shielded and protected (many reactors in the USA have already done this). Another is to pre-stage diesel electric locomotives and a train load of diesel tank cars that could be brought to each reactor site in time of emergency (most reactors sites in the USA have a railroad spur). Diesel locomotives are very robust against EMP, and could act as an emergency generator.  There is also a petition that is now before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) which recommends certain modifications to nuclear power plants to ensure their continued safety in the event of an EMP event.  Write to them and urge them to take this petition seriously!

What is the best way to protect against EMP or a catastrophic infrastructure collapse? Write your Congressman and urge them to join in the passage of the SHIELD Act! The EMP Commission has already outlined what can and must be done to protect our national infrastructure from catastrophic collapse. I urge that these recommendations be carried out with all of the swiftness that the nation can muster. Protection of the grid is the best defense. Sincerely, - B.Z.

In addition to all the other hats I wear I also am the cannery coordinator for my local LDS congregation. Last night was our canning night -- though I am usually the only LDS member to show up and the rest are non-member friends of a similar mind set as we have.

Last night was a madhouse at the cannery. Panic has already set in amongst those who are following all the news around the world (and not just fixated on the reactors in Japan). My group is normally around a dozen people. There were three other groups of up to 50 people each in last night canning like crazy. The large carts we use to move the cases and bags around were being piled high with items -- to the point that one single mother of two had the cart loaded with her two little kids on top and could not move the cart. (Yes I helped her and helped her load her items into her car -- including in the front passenger seat and under the kids.) Plus in addition to the organized groups (other congregations in the area, several local non-LDS churches, etc.) there were 54 "walk ins" who were for the most part just starting out on their preparations.

What normally is an hour long canning session and a relaxing dinner at a Denny's restaurant afterwards with friends turned into a three hour marathon conversation. As a long-time user of the facility (my mother got called as the regional cannery coordinator when I was a teenager and I've been doing it ever since) I was helping the volunteer staff explain how the system works, the sorts of foods to store, etc. As such I had a chance to talk to a lot of the newcomers and many of them expressed to me their fears and what had motivated them to start. They all noted that the events in the Middle East and the Tsunami at the same time had caused them to re-evaluate their lives and decide to start doing "something."

I also asked several of them why the LDS cannery instead of some of the Internet storage food companies like Mountain House. Again the answers were consistent -- none of them could find survival supplies on the Internet unless they were willing to endure a several month wait to get the items they were ordering. Even the LDS cannery is beginning to run out of certain items -- last night dehydrated carrots and dehydrated apples ran out.

I would urge folks to get moving on their preparations now before the real panic sets in. To date the system is under strain from only a small percentage of the total population waking up and getting ready. Imagine what it will be like once measurable (even if not hazardous to your health) amounts of fallout are detected in California or a greater Arab caliphate goes to war with Israel? - Dr. Hugh


Here's my story. I built a heavy duty cache tube consisting of a 6 inch diameter white PVC pipe, about 4 feet long with end cap on one end, screw top on the other. Cost about $100 to make.

I'd already found a hidden spot near a tree grove in my county park (public land) about a 100 feet off a hiking/bike/day use trail, and about 200 feet from the county road. I wanted both well hidden and easy access. Early summer everything was in full bloom so plenty of natural cover for my stealth operation. Before sunrise, I hid my shovel, post hole digger and empty cache tube in the tree grove. I went back in the late afternoon and buried my tube, the top of the tube being about 6 inches below grade. I didn't get too close to the trees as I knew it would be too hard to dig because of roots. Took me about two hours to finish the job. Luckily I didn't hit too many large rocks or roots, mostly dirt. Of course I spread a small amount of forest dander, leaves, branches, rocks, over the top of everything to give a undisturbed natural look then left with my tools after dark. I was very satisfied.

I went back about a month later and everything looked great. Nothing disturbed. I filled the bottom of the empty tube with a cloth bag containing a pound of silica gel (to keep my cache items moisture free). Then I filled the tube with cloth bags of stacks of well packed cash (paper money), then a pistol with 1 box of ammo, and at the very top I put emergency food consisting of a few power bars. I re-covered everything up and again, all looked great and I was again very satisfied.

Last weekend, driving by on the county road I looked up the canyon towards where I hid my cache and saw a huge white object. We are now in the middle of a wet winter so the trees are bare and all the foliage is gone. I quickly parked the car and headed up the trail. From the entire trail I could see that white object and my heart sank. I hiked to my spot and there wasn't any natural cover this time of year. There was my huge white PVC pipe sticking up 1 to 2 feet straight out of the muddy ground. I thought: "Oh crud. Somebody found my cache and stole it."

Nope. It was nature that caught me. With the heavy winter rains, obviously the ground water level raised at some point floating the tube out of the ground like a boat floating on a pond. My cache tube wasn't heavy enough. I got lucky, even with hoards of people that hang out in this area (including the homeless that probably camp around here at night), nobody had found my cache and it was still sealed and intact. I grabbed the muddy tube out of the ground threw it over my shoulder and headed quickly and directly for my car. I passed a few people on the trail but I just kept walking fast and never looked back.

I learnt from this experience and you'd better learn too. From now on I will do the swimming pool test. I will never hide a cache tube that will float in a swimming pool. It will have to contain lots of ballast like heavy gold, silver, or as a last resort lots of rolls of nickels. 6 inch PVC pipe wants to float and I guarantee you it requires lots of ballast. Is it possible to have a cache tube that is too large? Yes!

Is your cache tube sticking out of the ground?

My new hobby will be searching parks for cache tubes after heavy rains. - Don X.

R.P.B. sent this: Forecast for Plume's Path is a Function of Wind and Weather. Keep in mind that not much radioactive dust is likely to make it all the way from Japan to U.S. and of that, most of it will be carrying lighter isotopes with short half-lives. If you have dosimeter and ratemeter pens, then go ahead and zero them, and start making a chart. (A dosimeter that reads milliroentgens or milligrays would be the most useful, for now.) If nothing else, this will be useful experience for any future event where there is a substantially greater risk. Also, check the volunteer Radiation Network web site regularly. Keep in mind that any "flash" warnings that you hear in the next few days via the Internet or your local Jungle Telegraph will probably be just false, panicky reports. Always check multiple sources, and compare them with your own dosimeter. I'm confident that most SurvivalBlog readers bought radiation monitoring equipment long ago. Right?

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For audio book listeners, has my best-selling non-fiction book "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It: Tactics, Techniques and Technologies for Uncertain Times" on sale for just $4.95 (for Audible members, otherwise $7.49) until March 22nd. (It is normally priced at $13.99, so get your copy before the sale ends!)

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SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor, Dr. Cynthia Koelker, has some sage advice on the "KI03 for those over 40 years old" question, over at

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For one quake survivor, self-help in the face of seeming helplessness. Hideaki Akaiwa, in Miyagi prefecture, has decided not to wait for rescue workers. With a scuba suit on, he waded through flooded streets to rescue his wife, and later his mother. He continues to look for more survivors.

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Chip W. sent this amazing video showing empty store shelves: Panic in Tokyo! Meanwhile, we read: US, UK Pull Search Teams Out of Japan as TEPCO Admits Situation is "Severe"

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Tokyo Passengers Trigger U.S. Airport Radiation Detectors, N.Y. Post Says. A hat tip to K.A.F. for the link.)

"When Rome collapsed in the Fifth century, its enemies numbered only a fraction of those the Romans had defeated in the Punic Wars five hundred years earlier. Decline is a choice. It always is." - Victor Davis Hanson, interview in Uncommon Knowledge

In the wake of the Japanese nuclear plant melt-down situation, I called a safe room manufacturer for a hand cranked air filter.  It was over $2,000.  Too much.  I did learn that you need both particulate (HEPA) and gas (carbon) filters.   I have jury-rigged an NBC air filtration system.  Here it is:

Go to a hydroponics store or find one online.  Yes, the one's that people go to in order to grow marijuana. You will need an inline fan.  I used a AXC150B-C fan.  It is a little more expensive but German engineering costs more.  (Quieter too). You will need a carbon filter.  I used a Can-33 activated carbon filter (made in Canada) You will need a 6 inch Greenhouse HEPA filter.  It can be washed and reused but only put it back in your system if it is completely dry. You will need a can flange 6".

Total cost about $450.

The HEPA filter is attached to the air intake of the fan. The Carbon filter is attached to the air exhaust of the fan.

This is a recirculating system, not an overpressure system. At 300 CFM, it will clear the air of a 10'x10'x10' room in 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

It stands completed at 30" high and 16" wide at it's widest point. It uses 130 watts of current. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: A HEPA filter system with air pushed by an electric fan is best suited to someone that has a fairly capable alternative energy system. Anyone without a large power source that can be relied upon for weeks should substitute a hand-cranked fan. And even those that do have a large alternative energy system should always have a "Plan B": An electric filtered ventilation system should have a hand-cranked or pedal-cranked backup. There are too many potential points of failure to entrust our lives to continuity of electric power.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The 2005-2010 Archive CD-ROM is Ready! The five-year compendium archive of SurvivalBlog articles and letters on CD-ROM (in both HTML and PDF) is now available! The CD-ROM, optimized for laptops, is now orderable through, for $19.95. Even if the Internet goes down, you will still have all of SurvivalBlog's archives at your fingertips, and all fully searchable. And if you are online while using the CD-ROM, the links to external web sites are fully functional. These archives are immense. (If you were to print out the entire PDF, it would take 5,504 sheets of paper!) Order yours, today!


Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Every year, a group of my friends go on a week-long camping trip in a Nevada desert.  Sounds silly, right?  No trees, plants or animals, no running water. Not even roads--usually the nearest hospital is well over an hour away, sometimes two, and that's if you don't get lost by trying to cut across an impassable part of the desert trying to get to it.  But, it's a good test to see if we can be self-sufficient for even just a week.  Also, in a bug out situation, some people may just find themselves having to cross through barren desert to get to someplace safer (say from Southern California to Southeastern Oregon, Idaho or Wyoming).  Our rules?  Bring everything you need to survive, and plan to leave no sign of our passing.  

One week might sound easy, but when you start thinking about what you actually have to face in the desert, you realize that's not as easy as it sounds. With no life for miles around, it forces us to literally bring everything we need to survive.  Every bit of water, food, medicine, first aid, and clothing that we might need.  When you take into consideration the time of year, that adds up quickly with even just five people.  We try to do this some time in August, when daytime temperatures often get over a hundred, and in years past it has even gotten to 120.  Contrast that with the nighttime temperatures that can be into the low 40s, and you have a tremendous temperature spread to prepare for.  

For dealing with the high temperatures, we plan on very lightweight, loose clothing.  Light colors are best.  I tried wearing a dark blue sarong last year and it ended up dying my skin blue because of how much dye is needed to maintain dark colors.  My friend who wore the orange sarong was much better off. And for those of you who don't know what a sarong is, think Polynesian attire.  It's the simplest form of clothes out there:  just a rectangle of fabric that you wrap around yourself, overlapping a little in the front, and then tightly fold over at the top a couple times to secure it in place.  Very lightweight, nice and breezy--you'll probably only sweat at the folded band.  Some of us have tried no clothing, but then we're exposed to the sun and the high elevation combined with direct sunlight usually means burns everywhere unless we're very liberal with the sun block, which may not be practical for longer than a week (in which time you can use up two whole bottles with no problem).

For the cold, layers are the key.  We do a lot of walking around in the night since the heat isn't beating us down then, and when you have too many warm clothes on, you start to get stifled quickly, so you best not put that winter coat on over that long-sleeved shirt for the trek.  But, as soon as you stop, that sweat-covered skin chills super fast and you can be left shivering if you didn't bring something to throw over yourself.  My solution was to simply dress in long pants with good socks and shoes (feet are one of the major heat-loss zones, so I really don't recommend going barefoot if you can avoid it when it's cold out), and just a tank top.  Even at 45 degrees, as long as you're moving your arms will stay warm enough.  When I stop, I untie a heavy sweater from around my waist and throw it on.  The great thing about keeping it tied around your waist is that the sleeves get warmed up by being close to your body, so your now-cold arms get an infusion of heat from your hip-heated sleeves.  My sister's solution, though, which is better when you have to move fast, is a mechanic's jumpsuit or flight suit over shorts and a tank top.  The numerous pockets also allow for packing around a great deal of stuff, including your pocket knife, a first aid kit, extra goggles, a water flask, a flashlight and a bunch more.  If she gets too hot, she just has to take her arms out of the sleeves and tie them around her waist.  She could let them hang loose since the waist has an elastic band, but I already mentioned the benefits of tying your sleeves around your waist.  There are suits out there that also have a double-runner zipper, so if you have to urinate you don't have to strip your top to get yourself out.  (And ladies:  there's this wonderful product called a Go Girl that can give you the same freedom--just remember to shake it out well before you tuck it back in your pocket or whatever you're carrying it in).

That time of the year, we often see rain, too, if not much.  However, last year, on our first day out there, we were hit by a downpour that started suddenly and lasted several hours.  The rain caused the ground to be very hard and rough once it dried out, and for anyone who wasn't used to walking around barefoot (we didn't require you to wear shoes if you didn't want to), it would actually cut up their feet.  Even those of us who were accustomed to being barefoot had to take good care of our feet by rubbing moisturizer into the cracks each night.  It's very important to take care of your feet when they're your only mode of transportation.  The ones who wore shoes and socks had to take those off every night to shake the sand out of them, and either moisturize because the sand had dried their feet out or let their feet dry out because they had sweat so much.  Again, when your feet are your only mode of transportation, it is imperative that you check on their health every day--sometimes you don't feel the cracks, redness or fungus until it could be too late to treat, or it might take several days of treatment before you're mobile again.  

The other major weather we have to deal with is sand-laden windstorms, which can keep you blind to just a few feet for several hours, not to mention getting it into your eyes, nose, mouth, and anything that's not completely sealed (including the inside of your car).  Everyone needed some sort of dust mask.  My sister and I were quite happy just with our handkerchiefs tied around our faces like train robbers.  Protecting the eyes was the less obvious part.  Some people just brought sunglasses which admittedly kept their eyes protected from the sun, but offered no protection against the wind.  Our solution:  welding goggles!  They offered protection for our eyes against the wind and kept our eyes shaded.  There are also some tinted motorcycling goggles out there as well as clear ones.  The clear ones are good for nighttime use, but sandstorms tend to not be as active at night, so only one of our party even bothered with them.

Shelter is an interesting problem in the desert.  Because of the wind, most tents can't stay down.  There are some dome tents made for high wind that have flexible poles.  Not all dome tents will cut it though.  Most will be able to handle a week, although some can't, and fewer will be able to handle much longer than a week or two in high winds.  And trust me, it's no fun trying to sleep in a tent with a broken fiberglass pole.  Other issues tents have are their vents, which will allow in choking amounts of sand in a sandstorm.  There are couple solutions to this.  Some tents have a decent enough rain fly to keep most of the sand out in a light sandstorm.  A better solution is to duct tape a medium-thick blanket over the tent.  Better yet, put your tent inside a larger tent with the doors facing opposite directions.  That's my favorite solution.  I take a dome tent that's just big enough for me to sleep in comfortably and build it inside a tent that has enough clearance to fit it inside (you kind of have to finagle the poles to arrange do so inside another tent, but with the outer tent door open it usually works without problems).  A rectangular outer tent works best so that you can walk around the inner tent without too much difficulty.  I keep all of my stuff--clothes, etc.--in the outer tent.  

This set up also helps with another problem:  balancing light and heat.  Since we are so much more active in the cool of the night, trying to sleep during the day becomes a bit of an issue because a light colored tent keeps the temperature inside down but lets in a lot more light than anyone is likely to easily sleep in without an eye pillow (which I hate), but a dark one absorbs heat while it keeps the light out.  Last year, our outer tent was darker green, keeping the light out of the general structure, and the inside one was red (not as light as it could be) and gray which reflected the heat back into the outer tent.  By the time that it got light and warm enough in the inner tent, it was usually mid- to late-morning, which was plenty of sleep if I had gone to sleep at least an hour before sunrise.  Another option for shelter in windy conditions is a geodesic dome structure, which are very hardy to windy conditions and keep the dust out nicely if you buy one with an attached floor (or attach one yourself using velcro or duct tape and some tarps), but are not ideal if you have to be able to move quickly because they can take an hour to put up or take down.  I still recommend doubling up so you have the combined benefits of light and dark.

Then there's the issue of food when there's no plant or animal sources to forage or hunt.  Our group of five got by just fine with a large cooler filled with non-perishable food and no ice.  The cooler kept the sand out of our food when it wasn't open.  We tried to keep bulk down, so we had a lot of things like noodles, oatmeal, preserved meats (deviled ham and spam, mostly), jerky, dried fruits, cheese and butter powder, powdered milk, and crackers.  In the desert, salt is actually very important, because your body needs electrolytes to absorb water.  Plus, when you're sweating, you loose a lot of those electrolytes. Tasty foods are also important.  When you're hot, you don't feel hungry even when you're working more than normal.  I'm a strict three meals and a couple snacks kind of person, but out there, I had to be reminded to eat more than two meals each day, and if they hadn't tasted so good, I wouldn't have eaten very much even then.  We did all of our cooking on a propane camp stove.  Be warned though: cooking for just 5 people for a week took about 2-1/2 canisters of propane.

Then there is water.  You will be amazed how quickly a small group of people can go through water.  We brought a whole truck-bed full of cases of water in gallon jugs (each case had four gallons) for our group of four and left with only three cases left.  Now admittedly, one of our group was a coffee fiend and was probably responsible for the greater consumption of our water, but even if we didn't count his coffee water, we would have probably used up about 1/2 to 3/4 of that truck load even so. How?  Not only do the heat and extra activity of living outside use up extra water, but so does the wind.  Wind will dry you out quicker than any other thing--even if you're in the tundra.  Sure, we washed, but our washing consisted of wetting a rag down and wiping off what we could, paying special attention to areas like our feet, groins, armpits and faces where moisture was likely to collect--and then dry out, leaving salt behind, which can eventually cause some major discomfort.  Some water went to cooking noodles and adding to the powdered foods.  The noodle water was usually recycled for washing out our dishes.  

Most of the water, though, went directly to drinking.  In normal temperatures under lazy conditions, it's recommended that you get 8 cups of water a day (1/2 gallon).  One nutrition class I took demonstrated that you could easily get yourself up to recommended hydration standards just by taking a swig of water every 15 minutes.  That's not a bad practice.  We used that in the desert, taking a swig every once in a while, but adding a good pull any time we felt ourselves being more dehydrated that we wanted to be.  The frequency of long pulls was a good indicator of just how much extra water it takes to survive in hot, dry, windy conditions.  Don't be surprised if you down a whole gallon or even two just for yourself in that kind of condition.  

Even with a schedule of water drinking, you usually don't feel thirsty until that water hits your mouth.  If you do feel thirsty, you're already starting to get dehydrated.  Cracked lips are another good indicator, especially if they're cracked underneath a good layer of lip balm (which I also recommend when you're in any kind of dry wind, hot or cold--we put it on religiously for snowboarding as well as desert camping--just avoid the tasty ones that make you lick your lips a lot because that defeats the purpose).  Other indicators that are very bad signs include dry mouth and gummy eyes (even if you want to deny it by claiming that it's gunk blown in your eyes by the wind).  If you or someone in your party is obviously dehydrated, sit them down out of the wind and make them take small sips of water about every five minutes until they start looking better (probably at least an hour).  And yes, drinking that much extra water will make you want to urinate a lot, so just remember to keep putting more water and electrolytes back in.

JWR Adds: The currently-approved practice in western armies is to slightly "over-drink", just in case. It is better to be slightly over-hydrated than to risk being under-hydrated.

I felt prompted to write to point out some advantages to traditional archery, especially for those that might not be all that familiar with archery as a family sport.

First, a little about me. I am 56 years old and have been an archer since I was 14. My dad was an avid outdoorsman who introduced me to a .22 rifle when I was six years old. I still have that rifle and used it to teach my wife how to shoot when we first married 36 years ago and am now using it to teach my nephews to shoot.  I got my first shotgun when I was about 10 and started hunting with my dad, uncle and cousin. Saturday’s were our “day” and except for the rare occasion when my dad had to attend to a job related matter with the construction company he owned, we hunted or fished just about every Saturday of the year. To say I was a highly blessed child would be an understatement.

Although my dad was an avid outdoorsman he never was into archery, however when I was 14 my cousin who is about four years older than me, decided he wanted to try bow hunting. He got me hooked and now, 42 years later I still enjoy the sport of archery both on the range and in the field.

As with all things, modern technology has made archery a precision shooting experience. But, in a true TEOTWAWKI how many of the archers using those fancy compound bows will be able to maintain them for more than maybe a year or two before they either do not have the tools or the expertise to properly tune the bow for maximum performance?

From that last paragraph you probably have guessed I still shoot the good ol’ reliable recurve bow made so popular by Fred Bear and Bear archery. I don’t use any mounted sighting aids, meaning I use the “instinctive” method of aiming. If you practice and learn to use this method it has several advantages in a survival situation. First, you are not dependant on a sight that can easily get damaged or knocked out of alignment. Second, you can get on target faster shooting instinctively than you ever could trying to line up your target in the peep sight. Third, anything added to your bow equals more weight and often times, more noise when you shoot.

I know many will say the advantages of the compound bow outweigh the disadvantages. I am not here to debate the pros and cons of compounds over recurves or long bow but here is the biggest reason to learn to shoot instinctively with a recurve or long bow – Low Maintenance! You never have to tune a recurve or long bow and in a pinch you can literally make a new bow string in less than 10 minutes from the inner strands of 550 parachute cord. You cannot do that with any compound bow I am familiar with!

I have a friend who is a world class archer who also owns a local archery shop. About every two or three years I have him custom make two new bow strings for my Bear Grizzly recurve bow. So I always have at least three or four of these extra bow strings in my preps.

I think most woodsmen and preppers  probably have a supply of beeswax which is really about the only thing you need to keep the recurve or long bow operating at optimal performance. Every time I take my bow out,  I run the bees wax up and down the bow string once I have strung the bow. This preserves and protects the bow string and maximizes its useful life.

Using a bow and arrow takes a bit more skill, you have to be much closer to your target but for OPSEC and stealth a bow is hard to beat.

Another thing I would like to mention is repair and maintenance on your arrows. Besides bending or breaking an arrow the most common problem you’ll encounter is with the fletching or feathers. If you shoot frequently, as I do, the fletching will get damaged or come completely off the shaft. When this happens the arrow is useless until it is repaired. For less than $50 you can get everything including extra fletching you need to repair dozens of arrows. A simple fletching jig can be had for about $20. A one time investment. I still have and use the first fletching jig I bought when I was 15. In addition, a tube of glue or fletching cement and the feathers are all that is needed. Add some nocks which are the nylon or plastic tips on the arrow that the bow string is placed into and, depending on the type of shaft you are using either some epoxy or a resin glue stick and some field points or broad heads and you’re ready to repair or even make your own arrows. While store bought fletching is much easier to use, in a TEOTWAWKI a single common bird feather can make at least two fletching feathers.

While re-fletching arrows is a common necessity with both traditional and compound bows the advantage to traditional is that arrows are much easier to make, if you had to, to shoot in a recurve or long bow. Due to the tremendous thrust a compound bow initially creates when the string is released, wooden shaft arrows will often splinter, making them unsatisfactory for compound bows. In a TEOTWAWKI aluminum or graphite shafts will be hard if not impossible to find. Even though I use a recurve bow, I prefer aluminum shafts. They are more accurate and last longer than wood-period. But, if I had to make my own wooden arrow shafts my recurve bow will shoot them where as a compound bow would just splinter them.

Archery is something the entire family can enjoy and although I have harped on the use of traditional archery equipment in a TEOTWAWKI , to get the wife and kids started and to make sure they enjoy their initial experience, investing in a compound bow may be a better choice. Compounds require less strength by the shooter to pull the bow to full draw. They also deliver more power. The problem with starting someone off with a compound bow is, I don’t know of anyone who shoots a compound bow instinctively, in fact since I don’t even own a compound bow, I’m not sure its even possible to shoot one instinctively. My three attempts at it failed miserably and I handed the compound bow back to its owner and said thanks but no thanks. Not learning how to shoot instinctively at the beginning, I believe, will handicap you later. You become too dependent on the use of sights, which as I mentioned earlier can get knocked out of alignment or damaged.

Now, let me be quick to say I am far from being a “expert” archer despite 42 years experience, but every time I go to the indoor range near my home I seem to amaze my fellow shooters with their compound bows and peep sights because I can fairly consistently group my arrows in a 8-inch circle at 30 yards shooting instinctively. In my younger days before the need for glasses, and when I had time to practice more I could group in a 5 inch circle.

Another advantage to archery, you can build a back yard range even if you live in the city (in most cases, but check your local ordinances first). The least expensive route is to get four bales of hay from the local feed store or co-op. Ask to select the bales yourself or tell whoever is going to select them at the store that you need only bales that are tightly and evenly baled since you are going to use them for archery targets.

I lay two of them down lengthwise, then place the other two upright behind the first two. The two bales thickness will stop any arrow you can shoot except maybe from some more powerful crossbows. Having the two stacks turned opposite ways prevents the arrow from slipping through the crack between the two bales should it hit exactly at that point.

As with any type of shooting, gun or archery, always be mindful of what is downrange behind the target, especially if you live in a subdivision and put in a back yard archery range. I have a half acre lot and have my range set up next to my garden at the back of the property. My neighbor is also a bow hunter so he has no problem with my target bales being against our mutual chain  link fence between our properties, and he knows he is welcome to come over and use my range anytime whether I’m home or not,  but I even watch two houses down because that neighbor has two dogs and if they are out roaming their back yard I will not shoot-period.

Not long after I bought this home 22 years ago I had neighbors on both sides that had children who played in their back yards frequently which made it much too dangerous to consider putting in the range I have today. I did however have an outbuilding with a lean-to beside it that was 22 feet front to back. I installed walls on the long open side and back and put my bales at the back of the lean-to, that gave me a short range of about 25 feet that I could use even if the children were outside.

To summarize, archery is a fun sport the entire family can enjoy and in a TEOTWAWKI offers stealth, protection and a means to put food on the table. With a relatively small investment you can get everything you need to maintain traditional archery equipment long term and even make your own arrows and bowstring should your prepped supply be exhausted. And to spin off of Jim’s statements, you can make your own long bow from a good straight and dried hickory sapling or other wood. I have often thought about trying to do that but have never actually done it. I do have a friend in Texas who does make his own long bows and creates some beautiful and highly functional and accurate bows he hunts with. - Muscadine Hunter

The five-year compendium archive of SurvivalBlog articles and letters on CD-ROM (in both HTML and PDF) is now available! This CD-ROM, optimized to laptops, is now orderable through, for $19.95. Even if the Internet goes down, you will still have all of SurvivalBlog's archives at your fingertips, with all posts fully searchable. And if you are online while using the CD-ROM, the links to external web sites are fully functional. The blog's archives are immense. (If you were to print out the entire PDF, it would take 5,504 sheets of paper!) Order your copy today!

They call it the "dream factory". Hollywood, they say, is where any dream can be made to appear to come true. Apparently that is still the case: The Los Angeles Times just reported that MGM has magically transformed the villains in the soon-to-be-released remake of the legendary John Milius film Red Dawn from Chinese to North Korean. The change in bad guys was accomplished by creating a new opening sequence summarizing the back story, by re-editing two scenes and by using digital technology to transform many Chinese symbols to Korean. All this cost only about $1 million in additional post-production costs. The LA Times reports that these post-facto changes will not completely eliminate references to China, but it puts North Korea in the lead role in the coalition that invades CONUS. The movie had been "in the can" for more than a year, but the release was stalled, because of MGM's bankruptcy. But as MGM Corporation crawled up out of the dustbin with new financing (partly from overseas) and a new foreign distribution arrangement, it had a very inconvenient problem: Red Dawn was still waiting for release. Rather than facing another fiasco of Heaven's Gate proportions, MGM's management decided to finagle their way out, digitally.

Producer Tripp Vinson was quoted as saying: "We were initially very reluctant to make any changes, but after careful consideration we constructed a way to make a scarier, smarter and more dangerous 'Red Dawn' that we believe improves the movie". I have nothing but contempt for this sycophantic political back-pedaling. So did also going to digitally change the Chinese soldiers' facial features to look Korean? Did MGM's "careful consideration" include the management reminding them that Sony now has a stake in the newly-reorganized MGM? And is it it just a coincidence that the Chinese government is now "co-investing" with Sony? I think not.

Are we supposed to blithely accept the digital legerdemain of removing the familiar "Eight One" chop mark of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and substituting some hangul squiggles? The whole concept is absurd. North Korea has an army that numbers just over one million men and women with a largely fictitious 7.7 million member "reserve" force. (The latter is a paper tiger, armed mostly with T-54 and T-55 tanks that won't start, SKS and Mosin Nagant rifles, and even some ersatz solid wood "rifles" for parade drills.) The North Koreans also have virtually NO blue water transport fleet. They would have trouble successfully invading the 38,600 square miles of South Korea, much less the 3.79 million square miles of the United States. Contrast that with China's three million PLA troops and at least some naval transport, and a huge fleet of container ships. Even portraying the PLA would be stretch for an invasion force, but putting Uncle Kim's Army in the lead role is absolutely laughable.

I find this whole charade reminiscent of the novel 1984, where military alliances were changed at a whim. But for MGM to change a completed film in post production is a new twist. If they can make changes this dramatic via digital manipulation, then I wonder what other changes we could see made to existing movies. This makes Ted Turner's "colorizing" black and white films seem tame, by comparison. I predict that there will be a huge interest in the obsessive Bit Torrent geek world in comparing the pre-Korean and post-Korean versions of the movie. (Sort of like the folks that enjoy comparing doctored Soviet photographs.) MGM's digital wizards are giving new meaning to both the terms "political correctness" and "historical revisionism."

I wonder how Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck (cast as Jed and Matt Eckert in the new movie) will feel about all this, when they attend the premiere showing. "Dang, I thought we were fightin' the Chinese!"

A closing thought: May God have mercy on any nation that ever attempts to invade the United States. To quote the lead character in my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse": "Come back if you dare. And when you do, you’d better bring a lot of ammo, plenty of extra grub, and a good supply of body bags, because you’re going to be in for a deuce of a gun fight."

This headline may remind readers of a prescient article that they read in September, 2010 in SurvivalBlog: Spent nuke fuel pool may be boiling, further radiation leak feared. Note that most spent fuel ponds are typically NOT housed the same heavy duty containment vessels as reactors. Thus, they pose a greater contamination risk than reactors!

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Reader Troy H. sent this: No looting going on in Japan. Troy's comment: "I think this article gives credence to your idea that having a morally unified community (e.g. your fellow retreaters, your small rural town, etc.) increases your chances of survival significantly. (Besides, it make life much more enjoyable!) [The experience in Japan] also provides us an example for us as a nation."

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I heard that Ready Made Resources just received 10 of the scarce 7-day storage food units from Mountain House. As I'm sure most SurvivalBlog readers are aware, in the past three months Mountain House foods have been very hard to find "in captivity." (Note: These are in such short supply that they are still listed as "Out of Stock" on the web site--but they actually do have a few! Phone them for details. Jump on these, before they sell out. OBTW, I also recommend Alpen Aire brand storage foods. (Since they are of comparable quality.)

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My editor at Penguin Books sent me some updates about my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It": There are now 132,000 copies of the book in print, and it has gone through 11 printings. She mentioned that there will soon be a Romanian edition. Thus, there are now ten foreign publishing contracts in place to produce editions in nine languages. With the recent calamitous events in Japan, the book is again climbing the sales ranks on Amazon, up to #75 overall and #1 in the "Survival Skills" category, as of Wednesday morning. That's not bad for a book that had been in print for 18 months.

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I just heard that Martin A. Armstrong has finally been released from prison, but he is still under house arrest. His latest newsletter (presumably the last one that will be produced on a typewriter) was quite interesting.

"One of the universal rules of happiness is: always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual." - Terry Pratchett, in his novel Jingo

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

There has been a lot written about firearms in a SHTF scenario. Plenty of information about which firearms are the “best” and which calibers are the “best” and so on. I have no interest in proceeding on that same tack. If you have the money, you can make any firearm choices you want, and if you have the time and authority, you can coordinate with those who are likely to show up to your retreat. Neither of these is possible in our personal situation.

My wife and I have both been unemployed for well over a year. My unemployment is about to run out, and she never qualified. Despite our best attempts, neither of us is holding out much hope of getting a job before a crisis hits. Odd jobs and the occasional selling of personal items has been the only way we've been able to supplement our income. The bright spot in our situation is that my father-in-law owns a farm well out into the country, and well away from any major highways. When we first realized that things weren't going to be getting better (about a year ago), we proceeded on the assumption that our family would be moving up to his farm. Before I get any comments about this, we are not just “dropping in,” my father-in-law  has been aware of our plans, and approved of them from the beginning. We have food, supplies, firearms and ammunition already stored in place. My brother-in-law and his family have finally jumped into prepping with a vengeance (after almost a year of hedging) and his family now has the same plan. Since then, and with the agreement of my father-in-law, a few others have been accepted into our retreat group. I bring this up to highlight the personality clashes that will contribute to the problems within our planning.

Now we arrive at the root of our problem. Before last year we had just one firearm, a .22 rifle. My brother-in-law and our other retreat members had none. When our plans started, it was suggested that there are enough firearms at the farmhouse for our needs. They are: three hunting rifles in three different calibers, two 12-gauge shotguns, one 20-gauge, two shotguns in .410 caliber, and five or six .22 rifles. In addition there are six revolvers in four different calibers. So aside from the .22 rifles, there is essentially no cohesion between calibers. If we were to rely on those rifles, providing sufficient ammunition for all of them all would be too expensive for us to manage.

My wife and I made a decision fairly early on to standardize. We were going to stick with .223 for battle rifle purchases, only buy 12-gauge shotgun shells, and limit small arms to 9mm. There can be complete novels written about how good or bad our choices were, but that is what we decided based in part on ammunition cost. After purchasing our first AR-15, it became apparent that our group couldn't afford the AR-15 as a standard. So after much discussion, we changed our battle rifle to 7.62x39. The ammunition cost is comparable to .223, and the rifle is affordable to the monetary-challenged. Unfortunately my brother-in-law chose to go in his own direction. He has the most disposable income of anybody in our group, and we are still encouraging him to pick up an AKM clone for standardization reasons, but his most recent purchase was a .308 caliber battle rifle.

We have three rifles in 7.62x39, still the two 12-gauge shotguns, and two 9mm pistols. So there is an attempt at standardization. But due to monetary constraints and personality conflicts, we have not had a great number of new firearms purchased, and therefore still have a plethora of calibers to attempt to store. My wife and I are trying to stick to our plan on purchasing only a few calibers, but we have agreed that even if it's just one box of ammo per revolver, it still makes sense to have something available for them to shoot.

Despite every preppers best attempts, not everybody is going to be as well standardized as the main group in "Patriots". We wish our retreat was as well-prepared as theirs, but unless that lucky lotto ticket comes our way, we are not likely to be able to match that level of preparations. Instead we have accepted that scrounging and trading will become part of the way of life after the SHTF. However the means by which you acquire them, you cannot count of the firearms you may come across to fall into your standard classifications. If you have the money and space, you may want to store some common-caliber ammunition for firearms you do not own. If nothing else it can be traded. But it may mean that the additional weapon for your retreat can be used as more than just a high-tech club.

There are four primary lessons here:

Lesson One: Training. Make sure that everybody in your group has at least a basic understanding of whatever your standard firearms are. In our case, we have a week-long retreat planned in a few months, and every adult member will be learning to field-strip and clean the AR-15 platform and the AKM platform. The AKM is essentially our standard battle rifle, and if something happens, the three owners can not be the only retreat members who are able to use them. The AR-15 platform is essential because if the absolute worst happens, as in Patriots, it is arguable that the two platforms most likely to be used by our opponents would be the AKM series or the AR-15 series.

Lesson Two: Logistics. While budget is the unfortunate master of all purchases, it is still a good idea to try to maintain a sufficient supply of ammunition. Even if you are reloading, you are looking at a finite supply of ammunition for your weapons. (Black powder muzzle loaders being an exception if your retreat has the powder elements nearby.) You cannot assume that you will be able to resupply your ammunition. What you have stored is it. So you should focus your efforts on the firearms which give you the best bang for your buck. 7.62x39 is by no means as good a round as 7.62x51 NATO, but it is far more affordable in the amount required. I still think buying non-standard ammunition is a good idea, but focus on the fact that ammunition cannot be replaced once used and plan your purchases accordingly.

Lesson Three: Planning. Now is the time to get your planning done with regards to firearms. Most people are familiar with the firearms they own. There are far less people familiar with firearms they don't own. It is possible in a SHTF scenario that you will acquire weapons one way or another, and there is no guarantee that it will be a firearm anybody in your retreat group is familiar with. What we have done is downloaded the field-stripping and cleaning instructions for a variety of firearms that we don't own. We printed them out and placed them in the same binder that has the field manuals for our own rifles. We focused primarily on those firearms that are calibers we are storing, but certain firearms were chosen based on their popularity. Former military standard rifles and handguns are a good place to start. Based on the CMP sales, we have included the M- Garand and the M1 Carbine in our binder. The M1911A1 was also an obvious choice. Will we be coming across these after the SHTF? Maybe we will, maybe not. But if we do, we have the manual that would allow us to clean and maintain them, so we can use them if the need arises.

Lesson Four: Relax. You may have people in your retreat that are obstinate. There isn't a whole lot you can do about it, especially if you don't have the authority or the heart to exclude them. Remember your faith and take it all with a grain of salt. We had one person who allowed his personal desire to override our attempt for everybody to have a standard battle rifle. Two others did not and purchased an AKM clone. This is not the best result, but under the circumstances it was pretty good. And in all honesty, that .308 battle rifle is going to do wonders for our ability to “reach out and touch someone.” When you are prepping on a limited budget, you have to take things as they come instead of how you wish them to be. Think of it as training for after SHTF when everybody is going to have to develop that skill.

Could our firearms preparations need better coordination? I would say yes. Are our standards the best choices? I would say overall, no. Is it the best we can do with our limited personal income and the loose cohesiveness of the retreat group? In that I would have to say yes.

If you are despairing at the inability to match the outstanding preparations that you read about so often, remember that you are not alone. Budget yourself, do what you can, and prepare. It's better to prepare as best you can than not prepare at all.

When I use the term turnout gear what does that mean to you?  If you’re a fire fighter this brings to mind the boots, pants and coat you don before you battle a fire.  If you’re at your retreat, or even your home, this is the gear you quickly throw on to address an unexpected problem.  In this post I hope to cover some gear I have decided would be beneficial to have under these circumstances and what I have acquired to use in this situation.

The best example I can use to reference this problem to everyone is well illustrated in JWR’s novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" (which I can assume everyone has read since you are on this blog.)  During the night a group of raiders/ thieves come to the Groups retreat with the intention of taking things they have no right to have.  In the book the alert person on LP/OP recognizes and identifies the threat alerts the others, who are sleeping, and they repel the bad guys by force and let God sort the rest of it out.

Now this situation has got me thinking, if I was at my retreat and some bad hombres came a knocking how would I answer the door?  While I’m perfectly comfortable fighting in my Scooby-Doo boxer shorts why not get into the fight a little better prepared?

What I have done is acquire a set of coveralls (mechanic’s coveralls work great, or if you want to call yourself Maverick you can find surplus flight suits for sale) a few sizes larger than my body type to throw on in a hurry.  I made sure they were roomy enough to get on quickly, but not so big that I looked like a kid in Dad’s coat.  Coveralls come in snap-up and zipper design, for quicker access I recommend the zip up style.  Most of these coveralls are made in twill or cotton and are very reasonable, but if you feel the need to get some flame retardant coveralls the above mentioned flight suit or even some tactical coveralls are out there to cover that need.

Next I acquired a pair of zip-up boots that also go on in a hurry.  I was lucky enough to find a pair of boots, Bates Durashocks, that come in a straight lace up style and the same but with a zipper on the side for quick slip on.  I like these boots because they are sturdy, comfortable and resole-able.  These are the boots I currently wear for everyday use so the nice thing about having the zip-up boots is that they are the same style that my feet are used to.  This makes it feel like I’m wearing my everyday boots, which has fooled my feet into thinking they are always in the same boots all the time.  Now if you are wondering why I am taking the time for boots I offer these two thoughts: one, are you ever going to the shooting range in your bare feet?  Why not?  Because you don’t want to walk over hot brass anymore than I do.  If this is a TEOTWAWKI situation a bad burn or cut on your foot could become infected and lead to medical issues that are not as easily resolved in a grid down scenario.  Plus this puts you on “light duty” for a while and we are trying to minimize that as much as possible.  Second, while I support staying put in an assigned defensive position while under siege I have also asked the question, what if those banditos just grabbed someone in your group and are trying to kidnap them?  While I have no reservations about chasing those bad men/women while wearing the aforementioned Scooby-Doo boxers and my bare feet I would prefer to go at it with proper foot wear.  I think this also answers the question of slipping on un-laced boots or a slipper. Another situation to consider is if your location is no longer viable and you need to evacuate.  If your location is on fire or the situation has degraded to a point where leaving, i.e. making a hasty but “tactical” retreat then having essentials (and clothes) on you makes it easier until you can make it to one of your caches. 

The third piece of equipment I have in my turnout gear is a tactical vest.  They have tactical vests that zip up in the front and that have numerous other pouches that I can fill with whatever I deem essential, magazines, knives and even a pistol.  These vests come in different styles and prefigured configurations, whatever suits you individually, for the dollar conscious person. 

If you are just looking for a vest to serve this purpose they make some for every price range from high dollar, but high quality, Blackhawk, to less expensive brands.  The point is having spare ammo on you, as well as placing magazines at shooting locations, gives you the ability to have some in the event you need to move or you even run out of your supply of stationed magazines.

I have a tactical vest that also has belt anchor points around the bottom of it which allows me attach a nylon pistol belt directly to the vest.  I use this to hold my pistol holster, because I always carry a pistol on my strong side hip, and I like carrying my sidearm in the same manner in which I have trained all these years.  Also by adding a quick connecting belt to this rig you add additional attachment points for other pieces of gear. If you are looking to add body armor to your tactical vest I must warn you that I have seen several different styles of tactical vest carriers and the majority of them utilize a cummerbund support belt beneath that, while adds a level of comfort and stability, adds additional time to getting yourself into a state of hurried preparedness.  If I have plenty of time to get ready I would put on one of these on, but the point of this article is placing yourself in a state of readiness as quickly as possible.

The last piece of the solution that I highly recommend is practice.  Lay out your gear so that you can quickly grab it and put it on.  Lie in bed and practice jumping up and getting your gear on (if you can get away with it without getting banished to the couch by the wife set an alarm and run this drill in the middle of your sleep cycle.)  Think about how you sleep and how you get up, place your gear in a place that makes the most sense (and won’t trip you or the wife if you have to make a midnight bathroom trip) for you to get at in a hurry.  While you can never 100 percent prepare for the real deal building up muscle memory ahead of time will reduce fumbling during crunch time.  With several practice sessions you can be dressed and at the ready with a weapon in hand in seconds.

Now some of you might say that you would just sleep in your BDUs and be ready to jump up to the fight, but I question if any of us will be sleeping in full pants and shirt in the middle of the summer, especially after months of monotony and long hard days of work during the day.  Even soldiers will tell you that while on patrol in “hostile” areas they sleep in full gear in case a firefight breaks out, but even in areas declared a combat zone they don’t sleep in their combat gear while they are safely behind the wire.

Another use for this turnout gear is for when the SHTF.  Not all of the TEOTWAWKI situations that we might find ourselves in are slow starting, like an economic collapse.  Some situations we might find ourselves in are quickly transpiring (a natural or celestial disaster, or the impending zombie invasion) and throwing gear on quickly could make bugging out faster.  Even going so far as to keep a pair of boots, which has been mentioned before by others on this blog, in a bag and a pair of coveralls in your trunk could be useful.  I would like to think that while I quietly prepare for any conceivable future I also don’t deny myself admiring and living in the splendor of God’s world.  For example if you take the family to the beach and suddenly the situation changes in some cataclysmic way being able to change from my flip fops and swimming trunks into boots and coveralls makes things a whole lot better in my mind.  So I have placed an extra pair of boots, coveralls, and under garments in a small gym bag next to my B.O.B. in my trunk, because I would rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it.  

I hope this article is useful to some of you out there since I have been able to get so much useful information from SurvivalBlog that I hope this gives at least a little piece back.

Mr. Rawles,
As a regular reader of your blog, I have seen little mentioned about one obvious “bug in” solution that most people overlook, which would be their office or work site. This will not work for everyone but please allow me to provide you with my own experience.

We have a small warehouse/office operation of about 2,000 square feet. There are 2 offices, a basic bathroom, and a small room previously used as a lunch room for the employees of the other tenant. These rooms take up about 400 square feet of space from the total 2,000 square feet. The warehouse also has a mezzanine area above the office rooms for about 400 square feet of extra storage.

Our small warehouse is located about 20 minutes outside the downtown core of a major city. In a SHTF scenario, people will be driving away from these industrial areas trying to get home. Also, government control will be focused on high density population areas of the city, not the industrial areas on the outskirts of a city.

In our warehouse I always have on hand around 3 months worth of food. How do I store it without being noticed? Well, I simply build what I call a rolling work bench. I build a plywood box that is 48” square and 30” tall and stores my “tools” in it. I use the flat top as an actual work bench during daily use. I put heavy duty caster wheels on it for easy movement. I put locks on the front door of this box so nobody else can access it (people accept the explanation of locking your tools up). The box itself is light enough (once emptied of contents) that I can lift it myself onto my pickup truck with the extra rope handles I built into it.

My boss now knows what I am doing. I’ve been working with him for five years and he’s starting to see the light of being prepared as I’ve gradually got him thinking about it. It’s one thing to talk about it, but when I showed him my “stash” in the warehouse he got very interested! He had no idea that such a large amount of preps could be “concealed” in what is literally a 4’x4’ rolling, portable, plywood box that he thought was a work bench (and it is a work bench/table). He was amazed that I had taken it upon myself to “prep” the warehouse at my expense. I could see he was thinking about what to do at his house without alarming his wife and daughter. We all know that “prepper education” takes time.

I’ll describe some of the contents of my warehouse prep box.

  • A 45 lb, 7 day bug out backpack with pellet gun & other defenses.
  • Two“grab-n-go” emergency 5 gallon food buckets (my own design).
  • Large Rubbermaid container with bulk food items. Too many to list.
  • Another container with food, clothes, and various cooking utensils.
  • Other items include extra fuel, guns, and more food.
  • Coleman stove and several cans of fuel.
  • Small propane bottles with accessories.
  • Rope... lots of it. – 2 coils each of 100 feet.
  • Tools... folding shovels, small axes and multi-tool knives
  • Three different types of sharpening tools.
  • Portable Rocket Stove which I made myself.

As I look into the storage box, I’m sure I’m forgetting something on the above list. Anyway, this is just a picture of what I store where I work, all in a 4’x4’ plywood box on wheels that everyone thinks is my tool crib and work bench. - A Prepper in Alberta

JWR Adds: Beware of storing packaged foods and volatile fuel or chemicals in the same space. Otherwise, you may end up with ramen noodles that taste like white gas.

FWIW, back when I worked in the corporate world, I took full advantage of my locking file cabinets. The back one-third of several of the lower drawers held nondescript-looking brown cardboard boxes that were full of preparedness gear and food. I also took advantage of the dead space in my cubicle walls. At one of my jobs I had my office on the 11th floor of a 14-storey office tower. I kept a gas mask, a Swiss seat, a couple of oval carabiners, and 150 feet of kernmantle rope in my office. I felt ready for fires, but I wondered how I would explain all of my gear if I was ever "shown the door", on short notice.

Officer Tackleberry's recent article was a rarely touched upon subject in the tactical world. People like to train what they are good at and not what they aren't so good at. Low-light takes a lot more work for a variety of reasons. I hope to add a bit to Tackleberry's very useful article. I will attempt to not be too redundant, as Tackleberry did a very good job of describing techniques and principles... perhaps we can overlap in a beneficial way.

When activating your tactical light, be it handheld or weapon-mounted, always have the light pointed at, or nearly at what you want to illuminate and not at the “low-ready” or at the ground (yes, even with a weapon-mounted light... more on that later). Particularly when using any of the techniques that mate the hand holding the light and the gun (like with the “Harries”), and when using a weapon-mounted light, do not activate the light before bringing the light/gun up to illuminate what you want to illuminate or you will “draw” a path from you to the bad guy. Gun/light come up, then you activate the light. This principle still applies with the other techniques Tackleberry mentions... the reasoning being you are wasting time by bringing the light up and possibly specifically pointing at where you are standing with your light giving the bad guy more time to acquire you as the target!

Perhaps more critical is that you should use your light in very short bursts of light, as in roughly two to three seconds at a maximum... otherwise you risk becoming a bullet magnet (strobing might be an exception to this). Once the light has been brought up, then activated, you will scan with the light in the various techniques Tackleberry brought up for that (maximum) of two to three seconds, then the light should go off, and then MOVE! I cannot stress this part enough. Moving one step or two is usually not enough, though if that is all you have, then it is better than standing still. In drills with students, a light is activated in pitch black from somewhere in the 360 degrees around them for less than a second, then the light goes off, and they almost universally point to within 0-3 feet of where the light was... and that's at a distance of 20+ yards to the light! In a normal living room this means they would pinpoint you! This would suggest that you should move more than that three feet to avoid their incoming fire once your light goes off.

About weapon-mounted lights... on handguns I am a firm believer in them though there are legitimate preferences on both sides of that preference. You should most definitely know the other non-weapon-mounted techniques as well. They compliment each other nicely. In my experience and in training others with varying levels of training I have found that target acquisition speed and accuracy are both greatly enhanced with a weapon-mounted light. This keeps you alive! The weapon mounted light allows you to focus on shooting the weapon and not on manipulating a light. This applies to both handguns and long guns. On long guns I would say it is more critical as weapons retention and driving the gun to the target (and any subsequent ones) are significantly faster and more solid than if you were using a hand-held light. The legitimate issues Tackleberry brought up about accidentally shooting someone due to a weapon-mounted light are negated with proper training. Remember that most cops don't train outside of their department's mandatory training and often that is lacking (not knocking cops, as I'm one, but it's the sad truth).

As far as light selection, I will say don't skimp on quality lights. There are legitimate reasons beyond brand names that Surefire and Streamlight charge $100+ (often upwards of $300!) for most of their lights. Briefly, as far as handgun mounted lights go, I would think the Surefire X300 is the dominant one in the market for good reason as of now... though I would strongly recommend mating it to the "DEVGRU” type switch that allows you to keep your natural firing grip while activating the light. For long-guns, I would also recommend Surefire's X300 or Scout lights mounted as close to the 12 o'clock on the gun as possible, though other locations work well too.

All in all train with what you have. If all you have is grandpa's worn out revolver and a 4-cell MagLite, you can still dominate your adversary with the proper mindset and training!

Psalm 144:1, God Bless! - PPPP

The latest at Dr. Housing Bubble: The financial psychology of negative equity – 1,880,000 California mortgage holders have no equity in their homes. California home prices will fall 15 to 25 percent in the coming years. 1 out of 3 California mortgage holders at risk of walking away or defaulting.

What’s the Difference Between 1 Gold Karat, 1 Diamond Carat and 1 Troy Ounce?

Ben S. suggested this: Normal Interest Rates Would be a Disaster for U.S. Debt

Items from The Economatrix:

Fears of a Slowdown in Japan Push Stocks Lower  

Quake Selloff Wipes $287 Billion Off Tokyo Stock Market  

Tangible Commodities Rule as Dollar Tumbles  

The Economic Aftershock of Japan  

The Rule of Gold After Financial Collapse 

Reader J.B.G. sent this: Panic Buying Adds to Shortages After Japan Quake. JWR's Comment: I predict that next they'll try to cast blame on folks that stocked up before the earthquake. (True "hoarding" is something that occurs after a the onset of a crisis.) Meanwhile, in Tokyo: Japan's nuclear emergency prompts panic buying in Tokyo

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Don't miss this essay by Victor Davis Hanson: The Fragility of Complex Societies. (Thanks to Z. for the link.)

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Six Lessons for Preppers from the Japanese Earthquake / Tsunami / Nuclear Meltdown Disaster

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Reader Jim V. wrote to mention that the now dominant school of thought is that Potassium Iodate (KIO3), Potassium Iodide (KI) or other thyroid blockers for radiological events are not recommend for anyone over 40. Oh, and for the No Great Surprise Department: Potassium Iodide Runs Low as Americans Seek It Out. This underlines one of our mantras: "Better a year early, than a day late."

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Given the high standard of living in Japan, I predict that in the next few weeks we may see some unofficial and very quiet refugees coming to the United States, via commercial airliners. They will declare themselves "on a vacation", but they will actually be here on a long term "radiation vacation."

"You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands: your own." - Motivational speaker Mark Victor Hansen

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We've all heard the admonition: “You need to have a well-stocked first aid kit!” The first step to following that advice is an understanding exactly of what “well-stocked” means.

Recently, I read an article on SurvivalBlog about a man who treated his wife for a serious arm laceration during an ice storm. After running out of bandages, he was forced to drive to the store in dangerous weather conditions to get more supplies. I posted a response to the article that elicited an e-mail asking, “Well, what does a good first aid kit contain?”

Let me start with some background information. About six years ago, I started a company that supplies businesses with CPR training, first aid, and emergency products. This experience has taught me some valuable lessons. First, the number of bandages used in an average office is staggering. Either there must be a terrible problem with paper cuts and stapling accidents that I just didn't know about, or workers choose to use their office’s first aid kit instead of the one at home (if they even have a kit at home). Second, some items that should only be used on rare occasions are disappearing from office kits needlessly. For example, alcohol prep wipes should primarily be used for cleaning the skin before injections or for eliminating the sticky residue after bandage removal (If you have a laceration or abrasion and use an alcohol prep wipe to clean it, you must be a masochist!). Third, and more to the point, I was surprised to learn that there is no such thing as a “standard” first aid kit. Although there are a few organizations that make recommendations or list minimum requirements (OSHA, AMA, ANSI, US Coast Guard, Red Cross), they refrain from using the word “standard.”

So there are guidelines to help us, but we often want additional advice. Indeed, when I am teaching my CPR/First Aid classes, I am often asked. “What kind of first aid kit should I have?” As a general rule, your kit should match your training, plus a little extra. When I sell first aid kits, I always ask the prospective purchaser two things. First, I want to know what kind of training they have received (and how long ago). Then I ask the big question….

“If someone were severely injured and or bleeding, would you come to their aid?”

If the answer to this question is no, or if they haven't been trained in first-aid, then I sell them your basic over-the-counter 150-piece first aid kit. These kits are available anywhere and are little more than boo-boo kits, to fix life’s little cuts and scrapes. As an example of this type of kit is available from CVS Pharmacy and manufactured by Johnson and Johnson™; its self-described purpose is for the treatment of Cuts & scrapes; Minor burns; Pain & swelling; Itch.” This 170-piece kit has 138 Band-Aids™, a few ointments, pads, wipes, and little else. If you were counting on this kit to save someone's life in an emergency, then both you and the victim are in deep kimchee!

Preparedness and survival are our ultimate goals, so we need a larger variety of supplies that will actually be useful in a real life-or-death emergency. It is my hope that more people start investing in kits with more than just Band-Aids, and here's why. If you've taken a first aid course in the last five years (and if you haven't, shame on you), your instructor should have told you that after you've taken care of the victims’ primary needs (their ABCs - airway, breathing, and circulation), you need to look after their secondary needs (serious bleeding, shock, and spinal injuries). Your first aid instructor should have prepared you for the worst case scenario: when advanced emergency care is either delayed or unavailable, and you are the one who must provide extended care to the victim.

In addition to acknowledging what you know, consider where you live and what you do for recreational and vocational activities when gathering your supplies, a well stocked first aid kit should reflect your geographic region, activities, as well as, how many people you may need to treat. Of course there is a basic minimum for every occasion, but if it’s a kit you are building for a boat that sails off the coast of Florida, do you really need a “snake bite kit” or a “tick kit”? If you live in the desert southwest, do you really need vinegar for jellyfish stings? You wouldn’t take an eight pound “Mega Trauma” kit while backpacking, but you would certainly want a comprehensive kit at a survival retreat. A blister kit would be as out of place on a boat as an ice pack would be at the North Pole. Just as there is no single gun to fit all needs, so there is no one kit that will fill all medical necessities. But there is a place we can start. So let’s explore what an appropriate kit looks like.

I like to see these items in my ideal well-stocked first aid kit. Your kit may look different, but should generally include most of these items.

Note: With few exceptions, quantities are excluded because they will vary with the size of the kit, and people served. This list is not intended to be all inclusive, nor the only list should you consult.

  • A durable case – preferably with compartments for storage and ease of access.
  • A good First Aid reference manual – as a reminder of practices and protocols.
  • A card with emergency numbers (Poison Control, out-of-state contacts, etc.)
  • Gloves (latex or nitrile) – at least 2 pairs, to protect against contamination and pathogens.
  • CPR barrier – to protect against disease transmission.
  • Large absorbent dressings/AB pads (5”x9” or larger) – to stop or control bleeding.
  • Sterile gauze pads, various sizes – to stop bleeding and dress wounds.
  • Roll bandages, various sizes– to dress wounds.
  • Ace™-type roll compression bandage – for sprains and strains.
  • Self-adhesive bandages (Band-Aids™), various types and sizes – to dress minor wounds.
  • Steri-strips (butterfly bandages) – for closing wounds.
  • Adhesive tape – to dress wounds.
  • Non-adherent pads, various sizes – for burn wounds
  • Triangular bandages – for immobilization of dislocations and fractures.
  • Cotton-tipped swabs – for cleaning wounds, applying saves and ointments.
  • Bandage Sheers/EMT sheers – cutting bandages or victims' clothing.
  • Tongue depressors – for checking throat issues and as small splinting applications.
  • Tweezers – for splinter removal.
  • Needle – to assist in removing foreign material.
  • Penlight – for emergency lighting and for examination.
  • Oral thermometer (non-glass) – to check vital signs.
  • Syringe or squeeze bottle – for irrigation of wounds.
  • Splinting material – for dislocations and fractures.
  • Emergency blanket – for warmth and treatment of shock.
  • Instant cold pack – for treatment of hyperthermia, sprains, dislocations and fractures.
  • Instant hot pack – for treatment of hypothermia and some stings and muscle strains.
  • Bio bags – for disposal of gloves and medical waste.
  • Eye cup – for aid in removal of foreign matter in the eye.
  • Eye solution – for eye contamination and aid in removing foreign matter from the eye.
  • Antibacterial soap – for cleaning wounds and hands after treatment.
  • Antiseptic solution or wipes – to clean wounds.
  • Antibiotic ointment – for wound treatment.
  • Hydrocortisone cream – for stings and irritations.
  • Burn gels and ointments – for treating burns.
  • Burn pads – for treating larger burns.
  • Ibuprofen – to reduce swelling and for patient comfort.
  • Antihistamine tablets – for allergic reactions.
  • Blood stopper powder – for stopping severe bleeding.
  • Pen and index cards – for annotating victim’s vital signs.
  • Hand sanitizer – when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Mole Skin – for treatment of blisters and abrasions.


In addition to the above items, there is a list of “add-ons” that could be added to your first aid kit. These can vary greatly depending on your needs, locations, and activities. Some of these may require additional cost, training, or certifications:

  • Separate compete Burn Kit – for treating multiple or very serious burns.
  • Snake bite kit – for treating snake bites.
  • Israeli Battle Dressings – one of the best on the market for serious trauma.
  • Stethoscope – for listening to breathing and heartbeats.
  • Cervical collar – to immobilize the neck from possible further harm.
  • Foldable stretcher – for carrying victims unable to walk on their own.
  • Blood pressure cuff – to determine victim’s blood pressure.
  • Sutures – to close serious wounds.
  • Hemostats/Forceps – for closing major bleeding vessels or aid in suturing.
  • Automated External Defibrillator (AED) – to help with sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Scalpel – for removing tissue, minor surgery.
  • Blood borne pathogen kit – to assist in cleaning up.
  • Surgical masks – to prevent disease contamination and blood borne pathogens.
  • Eye shields / goggles – for eye protection.

There are also items / medications your victim may need (some of these may require a doctor’s prescription):

  • Asthma inhalers – for treatment of asthma.
  • Nitroglycerin – for the treatment of heart patients.
  • Aspirin – for treating heart patients.
  • Sugar pills – for diabetic stabilization.
  • Salt pills – for treatment of dehydration.
  • Imodium – for treatment of diarrhea.
  • TUMS – for gas and heartburn.
  • Epi Pen – for treatment of severe allergic reactions.
  • Eye drops – for tired or irritated eyes/contacts.

There are also non-medical items that can work well in a first aid kit:

  • Head lamp – for clearly seeing your work area.
  • Instant (Super) glue – to close wounds.
  • Tampons – for penetration or gunshots wounds and their primary function.
  • Glasses repair kit – to repair broken eye glasses.
  • Multi tool/Swiss Army knife– for multiple tasks.
  • Insect repellant wipes – to keep the bugs away.
  • Sun block – to prevent sunburn.
  • Lip balm – to prevent chapped lips.
  • Hand lotion – for dry and chapped hands and feet.
  • Talcum powder – for treatment of rashes and foot care.
  • Desitin™ ointment – for treatment of rashes and sore areas.
  • Hair comb – for removing items from victim’s hair and for hygiene.
  • Disposable razor – for cleaning treatment site or for personal hygiene.
  • Duct Tape – who couldn’t find a use for it?
  • Paracord 10’ – same as duct tape.

Now that we have everything and the kitchen sink, what items would I consider to be essential to any kit no matter what size?

  • Triangle bandage – has so many uses that it is a must have!
    • Sling, bandage wrap, splinting wrap, bandana, hat, baby diaper, water filter,  sarong, halter top, face shield, shade covering, blindfold, dust mask, tourniquet, pressure bandage, ankle wrap, foot covering, gloves, handkerchief, washcloth, wet and use tie around neck, belt, tie up a pony tail, basket, cold compress…Why do you think every cowboy wore a bandana?
  • Self adhesive bandages (Band-Aids™) in multiple sizes – there really is no good substitute.
  • Antibiotic ointment – secondary infection of a wound can be fatal.
  • Sterile gauze pads (various sizes) – many things can be improvised to slow or stop bleeding, but to properly dress a wound, a sterile covering is vital.

Now that you have gathered every conceivable medical essential, you will need a place to put it all. Ironically, your choice of container is almost as important as what goes into the kit. The size of the kit will be determined by several factors. Is it stationary, or will it be carried? Where will it be going? Where will it be stored? How much room do you have for the kit? Will its environment be wet or hot, or will it be jostled about? Here is a list of possible “non-standard” containers for your first aid kit.

  • Fishing tackle box
  • Tool kit
  • School lunch box
  • Electronics box
  • Ziploc™ bag
  • River rafting “Dry Bag”
  • Pelican™ “type” waterproof container
  • Rubbermaid™ “type” Storage container
  • Plastic office drawers
  • Zippered Nylon pouch/bag
  • Army surplus bag
  • Ammo can (painted with a big white cross so you don’t take the wrong can to the range)
  • Tupperware™ type containers
  • Cigar Box
  • Fanny pack
  • Small nylon/canvas backpack

A few final thoughts: Rotate, rotate, rotate! Just like food on your shelf, some of your first aid kit supplies have a “limited” shelf life. With frequently changing and expanding information on expiration dates, I will not advise you when to discard your “out of date” ointments, creams, and medicines. But what I would like to address are those items that people don’t often realize have a limited life span. Gloves are notoriously short lived, especially in hot environments like a car, RV, or boat. Check them at least once a year and replace when necessary. It is very frustrating to be half way through putting on a glove when it tears, and if you’ve done this a couple of times, the cut on your victims arm may be the least of his worries! Another item with a frustratingly short life time is the self-adhesive bandage. As Band-Aids™ get older, heat and age tends to breakdown the adhesive and it loses its cohesive strength. If a self-adhesive bandage can't “stick,” it really serves no purpose.

Another consideration, your kit is as good as your training. If you haven't taken a CPR/first aid course in a while, seek out a reputable instructor and take a comprehensive CPR/First Aid course. Also, once you assemble your kit, make sure it goes where you go. Like so many other aspects of preparedness, I follow the general rule, “It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” Now that you have a well-stocked first aid kit or two…or three, seek out opportunities to use it. If you show up to the company picnic or a family function carrying your first aid kit, there will be a few who ask sneeringly, “Hey are you expecting a disaster?” but when they need a bandage for a minor cut, or burn cream for a child’s finger, to whom do you think they will sheepishly turn to? They will turn to you, the nut that brought the first aid kit. And as you become more comfortable using your first aid kit in life’s little misadventures, you will be better suited to handle a big emergency if it is ever thrown at you.

Last, but certainly not least, is backing up your supplies. I keep large quantities on hand of most of the supplies I listed (Okay, well I sell first aid kits and supplies for a living, so I'd better have a few extra). If you have followed my advice and used your kits often, then you will occasionally need to re-stock. Having a larder somewhere to draw from makes the whole process easier. About once a year (more often if I’ve had a medium or large need), I will gather all of my kits into one place and do an inventory and re-stock my kits as needed. I gather them from my family's cars, the BOB, the 72-hour kit, the range bag, the RV, and anywhere else I have them, and re-inventory, re-stock, and rotate out long expired meds and non-sticky bandages.

Many people assume that in a panic they may forget what they have learned and not be able to rise to the occasion if an emergency occurs. One of the things that I teach each of my classes is the Emergency First Response (EFR) axiom: “Adequate care provided is better than perfect care withheld.”  If that is a little too esoteric for you, then how about a quote attributed to General Patton: “A bad plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”  Or if that's still above your level of understanding, I like Larry the Cable Guy's “Git ‘Er Done!”  Truer words have never been spoken.

Emergency First Response Corp.  – Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - Washington, DC
American National Standards Institute – Washington, DC
International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation  (ILCOR)

I have had some people ask how I as a police officer can defend the concealed carry rights for citizens and private gun ownership as a whole along with personally teaching firearms and self-defense to citizens.  To me the answer is an easy one.  I believe all of us have the God-given right to defend ourselves and our loved ones and firearms are a very good option in doing so.  I also believe that if there would have been citizens/students at the tragedy at Virginia Tech and other venues who were armed, trained and willing, then the death/injury tolls wouldn’t have been nearly as high.   Also at this time, police response times have increased significantly.  According to my latest research, the average response times in the US have increased from 8 minutes to 11.5 minutes.  That is a long time to wait for police if you have a desperate need.   I know that there are some that would argue against this statistic.  However, response times at my department have increased from just less than 5 minutes to 8 minutes, so I tend to believe it. Criminals like to strike when they have an advantage and they seem to do it a lot at night or in low-light settings, which is the premise for this article.  

Types of Lights

There are two main types of lights that I use personally, the LED and the incandescent.   The LED is the latest rage and justifiably so.  The LED has real good intensity for a compact size and can be found in 90-120 lumens for less than $100.  I have also used my LED to pierce smoke when looking for victims in an apartment fire.   While I do use my LED light a majority of the time, I also carry a small incandescent light on my belt as well.  I do this because the intensity level is not as high as the LED so the light tends not reflect a lot of glare back towards my eyes when I use it.  I found this to be especially true when I was tracking suspects through the woods at night.  When using the LED, any adjustment that my eyes had made to the dark woods was gone.  But when I used the incandescent, I was still able to keep most of my night vision.  

Operating the Light

In this article I am focusing on hand-held lights, not weapon-mounted lights, and there predominantly two ways to operate the light: the side activation switch and the tail-cap switch.  In fact, the tail-cap activated light is becoming more and more popular.   The tail-cap activated switch is easy to use; you just need to determine if the light is easier to cycle on/off when the light is in the off position, the on position or if the tail switch is only momentary on/off switch.  The reason I say this is that I have found its best to cycle the light on and off while searching and I will explain this more later in the article.   The side activation light takes a little more practice but can be easily mastered.  In fact, the hand-held light I use the most is side-switch activated.  Under the stress of an actual event, if you use your fingertips, you will probably push the button down hard enough to keep it on continuously.  This lets the bad guy know where you are and that you’re coming.  What I have found is to use was the middle pad of the index or middle finger on the switch so all I have to do is to lightly flex/squeeze the hand the light was in to momentarily activate the light.  Even using this technique under the stress of force-on-force, I rarely pressed switch hard enough to keep the light on continuously.  

Techniques for Holding the Light

There are several techniques taught and used: Harries, FBI, modified FBI, neck index, Rogers and Surefire are some of the most common with some having more advantages than others.   I have used all of the above techniques and the one that I found works the best and most consistently for me in the modified FBI flashlight technique.  To perform this technique, you hold the light up, away and slightly to the front of your body.  While you cycle the light on and off, you also move it side to side and up and down.  What this does is allow you to use the light in an intermittent manner that the bad guy cannot easily adjust to and makes it harder for him to determine where you are.   I also like this technique for when I am peeking around the corner as my flashlight is above me and I am lock my pistol arm out into a solid, one-hand shooting position that is very stable. Another advantage of this technique is that the light is away from you and your eye level should accidentally shine your light on a very bright surface or a white wall, which can momentarily blind you with what is known as “flash bulb” effect.  With this technique I cannot only easily flash the light off of the ceiling or floor and I am less likely to flash my light off of the bright-colored corner that I am using for cover.   A third advantage of this technique has to do with personal safety.  It has been proven that if the bad guy has nothing other than your light to target, then that is what he’s going to shoot at.  This was debated within my department so I sent out request via a law enforcement email tree that I am a part of.  I immediately started receiving case after case where this had happened, sometimes with dire consequences for the officers involved.  Also, one of my instructors at a local college where I attend spoke of a partner he had when he worked the street.  His partner still carried the small metal light that had an indentation on it from a .22 caliber bullet that was shot at him by a bad guy who could only see his light so he assumed the officer was directly behind it and he shot at it.  Fortunately, the officer wasn’t.  

Caution for Weapon-Mounted Lights
The latest craze for combat/LE lighting is the weapon mounted lights.  I won’t go into long-guns since that is outside the purview of this article.  However, I will address hand guns.   When using a hand gun mounted light, you must practice, practice, and practice!  The reason I say this because many of the hand gun weapon lights take quite a bit of practice to use without hitting your trigger unintentionally.   There have been at least two incidents that I know of in the US where a police officer thought he was manipulating his weapon light under stress but it was actually his trigger.  These officers unintentionally shot another person.  The same thing nearly happened to one of my co-workers, but fortunately he realized he was hitting the trigger instead of his light switch.   Fortunately, some of the newer hand gun mounted lights come with remote, pressure-operated switches which will hopefully keep such a tragic thing from happening in the future.   Another consideration is if your particular handgun will function properly and repeatedly with your chosen ammunition while a light is mounted on it.  There have been many cases of hand guns having stovepipe and double-feed malfunctions because the weapon light causes the gun to be too rigid.  This is especially true of one of my favorite handguns, the .40 caliber Glock 22, Generation 2.  Fortunately, Glock seems to have rectified this problem with the generation 4 Glock 22s.  

Force-on-Force: The Crucible of Reality
Fortunately, I have the opportunity to use the intermittent flashlight technique in force-on-force training with outstanding results.  I have had role-players shoot at my light and/or where my light last flashed and they told me afterwards that they had no other option because they could not tell where I was.   Also, in another scenario, one of the naysayers in my department was the bad guy role player.  During this scenario, the role-player was to jump out and attack the officer once she knew the officer was close.  There are three of us that use the flashlight intermittently in the way I described earlier.  The role-player stated that she had to jump out early on the each of us that used this technique for 2 reasons:  The intermittent strobing effect was making her sick and she had no clue where we were or how close we were.   In real life situations, I have used this technique to clear buildings several times.  The first time I used it with one particular officer, he complained to me afterwards that it physically made him sick.  My comment to him was that if it did that to him then what does he think it would do to a bad guy!   

In another situation, I was with another officer who was trained in this technique and we had to deal with a mentally ill person who was armed with a knife and was threatening to kill himself.  Pepper spray was not initially affecting him and we don’t have Tasers, so we used our flashlight techniques to keep him off-balance and away from us as he was now swinging the knife at us.  The pepper spray eventually took effect and we were able to subdue him without injury to him or us.  So, good flashlight techniques can be used in other ways as well.  

There are several good light manufacturers out there such as Streamlight, Surefire, UTG and Dorcy.  I like them all.   However, if you’re looking for light that will be your TEOTWAWKI light, then lean towards a light that can use regular batteries such as AA and AAA.  The reason I say this is that you will have need of these kind of batteries anyway so for redundancy, you should already have or are going to have, several of the batteries in rechargeable format with 1 or 2 rechargers anyway.   Many rechargeable flashlights have batteries that can only be used in their respective lights.  Also their charging stations are fairly flimsy as I have broken a couple of them through daily use in my cruiser and at home.  

Final Thoughts
I encourage each of you to experiment and train with the various flashlight techniques and find what works for you.  I am not saying that what I presented here is “the way” to use a flashlight, but only “a way” that I found works for me.   There are some good training videos out there and you can also find some good stuff on youtube.  Just remember that on youtube there is sometimes just as much bad stuff as there is good stuff.  Also, nothing can replace quality hands-on training from a reputable trainer.   There is a book that I would like to recommend to anyone who is a CCW permit holder, police officer, military, or who possess a handgun for self-defense.  It is The Modern Day Gunslinger, by Don Mann.It is the best book I have ever read in regards to handgun use and it has a chapter on flashlight use as well.   I will leave you with one my favorite quotes from page 369 of Don Mann's book: “Self-defense handgun encounters aren’t typically complicated, but they are unforgiving of arrogance, recklessness, ignorance, carelessness, or neglect.”   Be safe, train hard and I pray for God’s Blessing on you all! - Officer Tackleberry

Dear Editor:
With several Japanese reactors threatening to meltdown, knowing that I am downwind and would have less than a few days' notice, I quickly did some research on how to protect my family. The choices for thyroid protection (apparently the most common disease) are either Potassium Iodate (KIO3) or Potassium Iodide (KI).

I found an old SurvivalBlog article that showed that KIO3 has advantages to KI. So I placed an order for enough pills to cover our family, plus extras to give away. But while doing some additional research I happened upon the bulk form of KIO3 at I then found an article describing the process of capping your own supplements from powder.

I knew I'd need a capping machine, some caps, a precise scale and some filler to balance out the capsules. Without the filler it's next to impossible to get a consistent dosage.

For about $75 I bought the following items, enough to give the recommended adult dose of one 170 mg pill for fourteen days to at least thirty people:

1 - Potassium Iodate 100g (KIO3-00100)
1 - EDTA Calcium Disodium 250g (EDTAC00250)
1 - Scale, Digital Gram, Blade Series, 0.01g x 100g (BLADE)
1 - The Capsule Machine & Tamper (0) + 500 Gel Caps (CAPMC0+500GEL)

On the plus side, I'll have the machine and scale and experience for capping my other supplements. I'm on quite a few supplements so this will save even more money.

Alternatively to EDTA, you can use Dextrose for a filler, though I couldn't find any on EDTA is very harmless (found even in baby food) and has the added advantage of chelation which is the process of removing heavy metals from your body, something which could potentially be found in the fallout. The amount of EDTA per pill should be 330 milligrams, or one twentieth the daily maximum of a person weighing 200 lbs; check your other medications for EDTA before you proceed, to make sure you're not getting too much.

I plan on keeping the bulk powder in the refrigerator until needed, though I will produce a practice batch first -- I don't want the moment of panic to be the first time I attempt this.

Follow the procedure to get precise measurements. There are some YouTube videos which also show some of the procedures.

I am no doctor, so consult yours for advice before proceeding as KIO3 interacts with your thyroid. Do some research, too.

Enough pills for 30 adults, for $75 bucks. Not bad, eh? - C.D.V.

JWR Adds: That sure beats the current very high prices on eBay, where folks are re-selling products that originally came from one of our advertisers. (One seller had a $1,000 per bottle asking price!)

John R. recommended a piece over at Lew Rockwell's site by David Stockman: Why Deficits Do Matter.

Tamara over at the View From the Porch blog mentioned this: Normal Interest Rates Would be a Disaster for U.S. Debt. "None of this can go on forever. The Fed can’t print money forever. The U.S. can’t borrow huge fractions of GDP forever. Austerity is coming. The only question in my mind now is whether we’ll have a currency collapse and hyperinflation first."

Greg in Vermont sent a link to a piece in the leftward-leaning Washington Post, where columnist E.J. Dionne tells us -- citing Al Franken as an expert-- that the U.S. is not broke. Greg's sarcastic comment: "Whew. Glad to read everything is really okay!"

Items from The Economatrix:

US Trade Deficit, Unemployment Worsen  

Debit Card Spending Limit Banks Consider a $50 Cap  

Debit Card Spending Limits  

Utah Legislature Goes for Gold, Silver as Currency Options

Japan earthquake and tsunami death toll expected to exceed 10,000; survivors worry about dwindling supplies, food.

   o o o

Robert J. flagged this: Japan 'overwhelmed by the scale of damage' 1,000 bodies are found scattered across coastline; body bags, coffins in short supply. Here is a quote: ""I never imagined we would be in such a situation" Watanabe said. "I had a good life before. Now we have nothing. No gas, no electricity, no water." He said he was surviving with his family on 60 half-liter bottles of water his wife had stored in case of emergencies like this. He walked two hours to find a convenience store that was open and waited in line to buy dried ramen noodles."

   o o o

Loyal content contributor J.B.G. sent this: Photo Gallery: The Day After the Tsunami. J.B.G. notes: "Don't miss the picture of the empty supermarket shelves, near the end." JWR Adds: The Japanese invented kanban ("Just in Time") inventory control, now used in both industry and in stocking retail stores. They are now experiencing one of its key drawbacks.

   o o o

Bob G. sent an amazing series of "before and after" pictures from Japan with a "sliding window" views--just hover your cursor over the far right, and drag the "after" view across. The tsunami devastation is incredible.

   o o o

Nature Girl sent us this: Troopers: 800 motorists rescued after North Dakota blizzard. Nature Girl's comment: "The part about the town suddenly 'more than doubling in size' caught my attention."

   o o o

When politicians start talking about "Commonsense Gun Control", watch out! Obama's phrase "porous background checks" is politician speak for "private gun show sales". Read between the lines, folks: The gun grabbers' real goal is to institute the equivalent of a "No Fly List" for all gun purchases, even those transacted between private parties that both reside in the same state. There are two huge problems with this scheme: 1.) It is attempting to regulate intrastate commerce that has never been and never should be in Federal jurisdiction, per the interstate commerce clause and 2.) If the horrendous false positives rate of the TSA's "No Fly List" is any gauge, then this will be a disaster.

"We defy augury; there's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act V, Scene ii

Monday, March 14, 2011

Notes from JWR: I've been deluged with questions from readers--especially in Alaska and Hawaii, about the risk of radioactive fallout from Japan. First, I must mention that the trans-Pacific fallout map purported to be from Australian authorities now circulating is a fraud. I don't think it is likely that any significant radiation would make it to Hawaii, Alaska or the west coast of CONUS, even if there are multiple melt-downs in Japan.  But as I've written previously, keep your potassium iodate or iodide handy, buy some dehydrated milk, and keep close track of radiation levels. Pray hard, folks! Do not start taking potassium iodate or iodide until you receive confirmed word that there are harmful levels of radiation in your area.

Even in the absence of other radiological effects, be forewarned that we might have to forego fresh dairy products for a few months. (Since Strontium-89, Strontium-90, Cesium-137 etc. tend to concentrate in milk.) It is a good thing that most SurvivalBlog readers have lots of instant milk powder on hand. If a dairy products shortage does develop, then please be generous with those that are truly in need.

Be sure to read this article in the SurvivalBlog archives: How To Prepare for Radiation Emergencies, by KLK.


Today we present another article by SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor, Dr. Cynthia J. Koelker, She is the author of the practical book 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care and the Editor of She is presently writing a new book, Armageddon Medicine, which should be published in late 2011.

Thyroid disease, diabetes, heart disease, back pain, asthma, COPD.
If you suffer from any of these chronic illnesses, you may be medication dependent.  What will you do when the supply of pharmaceuticals dries up?  Do you have enough medication stockpiled for the rest of your life?  What are the consequences of doing without?  Will you die or merely suffer?  Is there any way to prevent what appears to be inevitable?
And if not you, what about your parents, grandparents, and other loved ones?
Although complete answers to these questions would require hundreds of pages and perhaps years of study, here are 10 tips to help medication dependent persons survive TEOTWAWKI.

  1. Understand what your medications are actually accomplishing for your disease and the consequences of doing without. In my experience, few patients understand the physiology of their particular disease and the purpose of their medicine.  If you are on heart medicine, ask your doctor why.  Is it to control the heart rate or make the heart pump stronger?  Is it meant to limit chest pain or decrease the likelihood of a heart attack?  If a certain medicine is unavailable, is there an older (less expensive) generic?  Will you likely die without nitroglycerin? For COPD patients, will you suffocate without your inhalers? Diabetics, will you dehydrate without insulin or metformin? For thyroid patients, without Synthroid will you develop a goiter?  Or will you grow sluggish, gain weight, and end up in a coma?  (For thyroid patients, these questions are answered in detail in my new self-study course “Hypothyroidism – Answers for the End of the World” . Armed with a better understanding of your disease, you’ll be better able to evaluate your options.
  2. Understand your treatment goals.  For the atrial fibrillation patient, do you understand why you’re on Coumadin rather than aspirin?  If you’re also on a beta-blocker, do you know why?  As a heart patient, what is the purpose of your nitroglycerin patch?  Is avoiding chest pain the same as avoiding a heart attack?  For diabetics, what is your current goal of therapy?  How will this change when home blood sugar monitoring is unavailable?  Is the aim of thyroid replacement therapy to lower your TSH or make you feel better?  Are pain meds to help your back feel better or allow you to work harder? Ask your doctor the specific purpose of each medication you’re taking.  Just knowing “it’s for my heart” isn’t enough to plan your future.
  3. Research treatment options beyond pharmaceuticals and try them out now.  It amazes me when an asthmatic chooses to sleep with their cat and wheeze, rather than ban the cat and breathe.  If medication weren’t available to open the airways, would they make the same choice?  Or, if you’re allergic to the world and can’t escape, would rinsing your nose with saline work as well as medicine?  It often does.  Or, ever wonder if eating half as much would cure your diabetes?  (If you don’t find out now, you may when the food’s gone.) Can’t live without Prilosec?  GERD (acid reflux) would be markedly reduced if people would elevate the head of their bed, eat less, limit spicy, fatty, and acid foods, and avoid alcohol and tobacco.  Narcotics aren’t the only option for a bad back.  Heat, exercise, and massage can work wonders in a motivated patient.  Medicine is not the answer for everything, though it often seems simpler to pop a pill than to make lifestyle changes.
  4. Research over-the-counter alternatives to the prescription medication you’re on now.  OTC drugs can be stockpiled much more easily than prescription drugs.  Excellent OTC meds that could easily be substituted for certain prescription medications include Prilosec OTC, Prevacid, ranitidine, topical antifungals, meclizine, Azo, naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, cetirizine, diphenhydramine, bacitracin, and pseudoephedrine, among others.  Asthmatics may want to purchase Primatene Mist (which may be unavailable after 12/31/11) for emergency use in case their albuterol runs out.  Anyone taking Plavix should have a back-up supply of aspirin. Don’t forget to ask your physician if an OTC might substitute for your prescription medication.
  5. Consider substituting an older drug for a newer medication too expensive to stockpile.  Since your insurance will not cover medications beyond three months in advance, how will you afford them (assuming your doctor is willing to prescribe them)? Many of these drugs are $200 a month, which most people find unaffordable.  Though not every drug has a $4/month alternative, many of them do so, or at least a generic form that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
  6. Ask your doctor about vaccines that may improve your condition or prevent future problems.  Anyone with a heart, lung, or immune problem should certainly have a pneumonia vaccine and the newer TDAP vaccine, which includes a booster for pertussis (whooping cough).  Though the annual flu vaccine is aimed at the current year’s expected strain, there is also a cumulative effect, so receiving the vaccine annually may help not only in the short run, but in the long run as well.  Consider vaccines to hepatitis A and B if you haven’t yet had them. Also, make sure your family is up-to-date on their own immunizations, for their personal protection as well as your own.  Infections uncommon today will re-emerge when the number of unvaccinated individuals increases.   
  7. Seek a permanent remedy now if one is available.  Atrial fibrillation patients may want to consider radioablation.  Spinal stenosis sufferers may choose to undergo surgery now, while it is an option.  It only makes sense for every asthma and COPD patient to quit smoking immediately.  Hyperthyroid patients may want to consider surgery or radioactive iodine treatment sooner rather than later.  Physical therapy (or manipulation under anesthesia) may resolve a frozen shoulder that otherwise might plague you the rest of your life.  Allergy desensitization shots may enable you to get off allergy or asthma medications altogether. If you suffer from any chronic condition, ask your doctor if a cure exists, no matter how involved.
  8. Acquire supplies you may need in the future.  A COPD patient should consider purchasing a nebulizer.  An arthritis or back pain sufferer may be wise to find a used wheelchair or walker.  A diabetic may want to buy additional needles and lancets for future use.  Think about your environment and what accommodations you would need if electricity, heat, light, or running water were unavailable.
  9. Try a dry run.  Ask your physician if it would be safe for you to do without your medication while being monitored medically.  Do not try this on your own!  As a COPD patient, do you really need three inhalers, or would a single inhaler work as well?  If so, which one? Can you monitor yourself using a peak flow meter? As a heart patient, will you develop chest pain or become short of breath without nitroglycerin? For back pain or arthritis patients, since doctors won’t prescribe a lifetime supply of narcotics, can you get off them now or try an alternate therapy?  For thyroid patients, will your TSH climb 10 points or 100 if you discontinue your medication? Don’t try this experiment without your doctor’s approval and understanding, but do express your concerns.  The doctors I know don’t envision the world as a permanently stable environment.  Your questions may take additional time with your physician, so make the receptionist aware when you schedule.  Please don’t tack these questions on as your doctor is heading for the door.  Your doctor will feel rushed and the questions won’t receive the attention they deserve.
  10. Consult with a fellow prepper health professional, or perhaps a seasoned physician.  Treatments come and go, and newer is not always better.  Older treatments (such as Armour thyroid) do work, but may require a modified approach for optimum treatment.  Switching now, when monitoring is readily available, may be easier than later, when guesswork will replace laboratory testing. Younger doctors may have head knowledge but no practical knowledge of older treatments.  A retired physician may be a gold mine of information.

Right off the bat, I'll tell you, I like tanto point knives, for some strange reason. Maybe its because of that secondary cutting edge, or maybe its just the cool-factor. What we have here for review is the new and improved Benchmade Stryker automatic folder, Model 9101. For those of you in free states, where you can legally own an automatic knife, this one is worth looking at. If you live in a state that won't allow an automatic knife, then Benchmade has several manual opening folders in the Stryker line-up as well.  

The new Auto Stryker incorporates a larger and stronger locking button, open back spacer design for easier maintenance, and increased spring force. Personally, I never found the original Stryker lacking in anything - but sometimes improvements are warranted. the blade material is 154 CM - which is one of my favorites. The aluminum handles are black anodized, with a tip-up pocket clip that is reversible from one side to the other. There is also a sliding safety on the top of the handle - it locks the blade in the closed or open position - I've never used the safety. The blade is 3.60" long - which is about perfect for a folder to be carried for self-defense and utility work. Weight of the Stryker is only 4.20-oz.   You can have the Benchmade Stryker with a plain edge, or a partially serrated edge - the choice is yours. I find that a partially serrated blade has more utility use than a plain edge does - just my two cents worth. There is also a lanyard hole in the butt of the handle, and I find these useful if you are operating over water - you don't want to drop your knife and have it lost, when it might be needed the most.  

Now, I'm not advocating bringing a knife to a gun fight - that's foolishness. However, there are still some areas of the country where you can't legally carry a handgun for self-defense, but you can carry a folding knife. And, believe me, a knife is better than a sharpened stick or a rock any day of the week. Over the years, in my martial arts classes, I've taught knife-fighting to my advanced students, and they found it very difficult to defend against a knife attack - and these were trained martial artist. So, they know the effectiveness of using a knife, even a small folding knife for self-defense.   Benchmade warrants the Stryker for your lifetime against defects in material and workmanship. the Auto Stryker doesn't come cheap - then again, quality never comes cheap if you buy junk, you end up buying junk several times over. When you buy quality, you only have to buy it once. The Auto Striker from Benchmade retails for $250.

Mr. Rawles,  
The U.S. Treasury has announced that it is seeking public comment on revised compositions for U.S. coinage. They are seeking comments from us mere citizens about what we think of changing the metal content of coins to even cheaper metals than the copper, zinc and nickel currently used.  I think that all Survival Blog readers should comment – let the Treasury and the rest of The Powers That Be know that we don’t like how they’ve already debased our currency, and we don’t want them to do it to an even greater extent.  

Of course, the Treasury will have to either change the content or change the stated value of the coins (or do away with them altogether). As you know they are already losing money just on the metal content of the nickels, and [the currently-produced copper-plated zinc] pennies aren’t far behind.  The rest are profitable, but less so than if they used low-grade stainless steel or aluminum.  Maybe nickels will use 5% nickel on the surface, just for show (like the Potemkin Village that is our economy) and aluminum or whatever underneath.  

It is just so sad and so aggravating to see our nation’s wealth disappear right before our eyes, but that is just a reflection of the deterioration of our values over the last 50 or 75 years.  Our currency is faith-based, and our word literally isn’t worth the paper it is printed on any more, so of course they can’t continue to make nickels out of nickel, let alone use copper for pennies and silver for dimes and above, any more. - Paul W.

JWR Replies: In 1964, nearly all U.S. silver coins were replaced by silver-plated copper slugs. Soon after, paper Federal Reserve Notes (so-called "dollars") were no longer officially redeemable for silver. Since that time U.S. currency has been pure fiat--nothing but an empty promise. It can be exchanged by the government, but only for other worthless tokens--not for genuine specie. Author Boston T. Party summed this up well when he described the Federal Reserve Note as an "I.O.U. Nothing".

To reflect the true value of the U.S. Dollar, I suggest that henceforth all U.S. coinage be made of plastic or aluminum. That way, they will be conveniently recyclable when the U.S. Dollar inevitably becomes worthless via mass inflation. That might spare the government the shame of the seeing its currency and coinage littering the streets.

SurvivalBlog's Michael Z. Williamson wrote to mention that the editor of The Don't Tread On Me blog humorously suggested that the U.S. Mint begin issuing Chuck E. Cheese tokens, in this missive: In Pizza We Trust.

Here is a footnote to this tale of monetary woe, courtesy of "On April 2, 1792 Alexander Hamilton, then the Secretary of the Treasury, made a report to congress that [was] the result of his task to scientifically determine the amount of silver in the Spanish Milled Dollar coins that were then in current use by the people. As a result of this report, the Dollar was defined (See the Act of April 2, A.D. 1792 of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, Section 9) as a unit of measure of 371 4/16th grains of pure silver or 416 grains of standard silver. (Standard silver being defined as 1,485 parts fine silver to 179 parts alloy; See Section 13 of the Act.)".

I've said it before: Stock up on nickels now, before their composition changes. Your children will be glad that you did.

Dear Mr. Rawles

The Inherent Value of U.S. Paper Currency I have recently decided to obey the law--Gresham’s Law and start converting my paper dollars into “Golden Dollars” including the Sacagawea and Presidential Dollars as well as into the Kennedy Half Dollar. I am mostly doing this for symbolic reasons but I have found that it is a way to get people to talk casually about concepts like inflation, fiat currency and fiscal policy without scaring them off. A US dollar weighs 1 gram, on average. From Earth Works Recycling's web page we find that paper is worth between 0 cents per pound for white paper to 1 cent for phone book paper to 2-¼ cents for newspaper. Being generous let’s assume that your US currency is worth the price of newspaper. There are 453.59237 grams in each pound. That means that each dollar is worth .00496 cents or 4.96 X 10-5 dollars. Or looked at another way it would take 20,139 dollars to be worth a dollar. Compared to this, according to each Golden Dollar is worth 7.3 cents. The inherent worth of a Golden Dollar is 1,472 times more than a paper dollar. Don’t even get me started on silver. In closing, to paraphrase the American Express ad: “Worth of a Dollar… 4.96 X 10-5 dollars… Cost of preparedness… priceless.” - Mr. Bennington

JWR Replies: As I've mentioned several times in SurvivalBlog since early 2006, I recommend stockpiling U.S. five cent pieces ("Nickels") as a hedge on inflation. Unlike the Sacagawea Dollar that has a base metal value of less 1/10th of the coin's face value, a nickel a base metal value of around 6.7 cents. (135% of face value.) Whenever you can obtain a circulating coin with that much genuine value at face value, then it is worth stocking up.

Mass inflation is coming, folks! Get prepared.

Mr. Rawles,
This is in response to Paula S.'s recent letter requesting information on classic books for homeschooling. I just returned from a homeschool convention in Memphis where I was introduced to Memoria Press. They have curricula for parents interesting in providing their children with a classical education. I have looked at the early elementary sets--they include books for the kids to read aloud and other books to be read aloud to the children. You do not have to buy their material to see the list of books that they use--the lists are posted on their web site under each curriculum description.

Sonlight is another homeschool curriculum that relies heavily on "living books" for the student's education. You can find all of the books that they use listed on their web site. They offer a free catalog which is filled with useful information.

For history, there is a series called Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer which has four volumes and is designed to be read initially in Grades 1-4 and then repeated in middle school and high school with the addition of classic books in the middle and upper grades. Story of the World is appealing because it teaches history in chronological order from ancient times to present day. You can find these books on Amazon or at the publisher's web site.

I hope you find some of this useful. - Leigh C.


Captain Rawles:
A couple quick recommendations for books:

I highly recommend "The Story of the World" by Susan Wise Bauer for kids of all ages. We've been using this to teach our kids for years. Fascinating for adults and young kids alike. There are audio books, activity books, etc... very comprehensive and easy to comprehend but the stories are not just about America, though it does cover modern times including the United States. Even my youngest will spout out knowledge about world history that most adults don't know. The books do get some criticism for a lack of distinction between legend and fact. In my opinion, this is something easily dealt with by a simple discussion with the kids about the material. Teaching logic and critical thinking won't hurt either.

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn is also very thorough, although not for younger readers.

Thanks for all your hard work, - Matt B.

Nicole W. was the first of several readers to send this piece: US farmers fear the return of the Dust Bowl: For years the Ogallala Aquifer, the world’s largest underground body of fresh water, has irrigated thousands of square miles of American farmland. Now it is running dry

   o o o

Chad S. sent this piece datelined Worchester, Massachusetts: 2,000 rounds of ammo found during traffic stop. Oh, my goodness! They nailed this bad man with "...four counts of possession of a large capacity feeding device, and possession of ammunition without a Firearm Identification Card." Cue the wailing, teeth-gnashing, and hand-wringing. I wish that hoplophobes would get real about guns and ammunition. They are obviously from an alternate universe. (The one where Earth's axis is located at a university campus in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.) I've determined that it is not just the ownership of guns by their neighbors that bothers gun haters--it is the numbers. The last time I checked, it was impossible for an individual to shoot more than two guns at a time. (Inaccurately, at that, without lots of practice.) So what difference does it make if someone owns two guns, or two hundred? Does owning a dozen boom sticks somehow make someone evil? (More evil? "Eviler?") And since when did a small gun collection become an "arms cache", and a moderate-size gun collection--or anything more than an armload of ammunition--become an "arsenal"? If you include all of the .22 rimfire my kids go through, 2,000 rounds of ammo represents just a two or three week supply for my family or perhaps enough for a three-day weekend. And I've been known to buy twice that much ammo in just one gun show trip. Its a good thing that the Taxachussetts officials don't have any jurisdiction here in The Un-Named Western State (TUWS). If they pulled me over they might suffer a fit of apoplexy and brand me as a one-man crime wave.

   o o o

Meanwhile, 'Ol Remus spotted this news headline of abject horror from Across The Pond: .22 bullet found in Fossgate, York. (Here in TUWS, nobody would blink any eye unless the ammo was .50 BMG, or larger. And even then, after picking it up, the first question asked would be: "Now where am I going to find a gun to shoot this?")

   o o o

Reader N.R.V. sent a link to an alarming video about the Islamazation of France, produced in 2010.

   o o o

Millions Without Food, Water, Power After Quake Ravages Japan. (Thanks to M.E.W. for the link.)

"The only honorable response to violence is counter-violence." - Col. Jeff Cooper, To Ride, Shoot Straight & Speak the Truth

Sunday, March 13, 2011

All eyes are on Japan! I just got a link to video of explosion at Fukushima nuclear plant. The Japanese nuclear experts' conclusion: Meltdown Caused Nuke Plant Explosion. I don't expect many radio-isotopes to make it to the continental United States, but just in case: Keep your potassium iodate or iodide handy, buy some dehydrated milk, and keep track of radiation levels. Pray hard, folks!


Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’m not a skilled writer but I’d like to share my story. I’m currently 35 yrs old and am located in the upper Midwest. There's no real threat where I live of flooding, hurricanes, forest fires, or earthquakes. My only major concern is a food crisis brought on by a hyperinflation of the dollar, nuclear EMP or a solar flare catastrophe.

I work an average of 50 hours per week at a factory. My pay is meager. However - I don’t waste money like most people do (cell phones, cable/satellite, full coverage car payments, dining out, etc, etc)  and so I have the extra money to do the things that I do. I’m married with four children and also have my widowed mother.

Until about 5 or 6 years ago I had never managed to accumulate much in life, living paycheck to paycheck. This was because of my spending habits and lack of concern of the future. I never prepared for Y2K basically because I didn’t believe it. On September 12, 2001 I did however spend about $600 at our local discount grocery. As I was loading up the shopping-cart I wondered why there was nobody else doing the same. I bought canned fruits, canned vegetables, and canned jack mackerel. $600 dollars worth. It took me years to eat all that food. I finally polished of the last few cans in late 2006. That was interesting. 

Then sometime in 2007 I happened upon an informational video by Ross Perot. Indisputable facts that we’re screwed. I must stress that. The facts presented in the video are indisputable. There’s no hype, no fancy footage, no opinions, no political finger-pointing, no drama. Just dry monotonous facts. But it was the tipping point in my life when I realized that I had to begin to prepare for the inevitable collapse of society.

I began by first studying food shelf life. And calculating costs. One of the first things that caught my attention was botulism. Which actually doesn’t concern me much anymore but it did at the time. I also happened upon Grand-Pappy’s “How To Survive Hard Times” and the Survival Acres web site.

I began buying #10 cans and 6 gallon buckets of dehydrated foods from Survival Acres (Everything. Beans, rice, flour, sugar, you name it). I bought a hundred pounds of non-dehydrated canned cheddar cheese from The Internet Grocer. However their canned meat prices weren't as competitive as their canned cheese, at the time. After many, many days of Internet research I realized it was cheapest just to buy these canned meats from your local grocery store or nearest cannery (non-dehydrated canned pork, beef, etc). We drove 2.5  hours to the nearest cannery. Canned “Treet” is cheapest at your local discount grocery store. To purchase it in bulk you’ll have to special order from the manager. I want to give credit to Emergency Essentials for their reasonably priced canned freeze-dried meats. My most recent purchase was from Costco. I bought their four-person One-year Supply of canned dehydrated food. And I bought 48 lbs canned clarified butter (ghee) from Camping Survival. Also, I have found no other more convenient source for bulk sugar than Wal-Mart. Just buy a heaping grocery-cart full of bags, wrap it all in a couple of garbage bags and keep it in large storage containers. I found all of those items at Wal-Mart.

 As I said in the beginning, I work 50+ hours a week and have little time for self-preparing my own preserved foods. Cheaper it may be but honestly who has the time? I also should mention that I’m one of those preppers stuck in the suburbs. I have no bug-out option. Below is a list of my current emergency provisions. I've estimated this to be about an 1 year supply for 14 people. Or a 6 month supply for 28. (or a 3 month supply for 56). Should there be a nuclear attack and nuclear fall-out, considering that nuclear fallout has a half-life of 80 days, then i imagine that i could ration this food and feed over a hundred people for that amount of time. Lack of water would be the problem in that type of scenario. God help us.

I purchased the Treet because it is an inexpensive canned meat. I reason that I can make "ham & beans" with it, or "dirty rice". Treet has added preservatives so it's my hope that this will extend it's shelf-life. The canned cheese is mainly a comfort food. The imitation maple syrup flavoring is obviously to make pancake syrup. The TVP wasn't my choice. It came with the 4-person One-year Supply. It could be saved for last or reserved for barter. I bought the toothpaste at an auction.

I also bought about 200 boxes of nicotine gum from the same auction. I regret the purchase of dehydrated peanut butter. The shelf-life is reportedly only 5 years. It's intention was for peanut butter brownies or bread. You'll notice that it would appear that I have an insufficient supply of salt (considering that salt is imported). However, the  chicken/beef bouillon is mostly salt. Which gives me nearly 75 pounds of salt.

The regular unleaded gas is intended for cooking purposes only. The air-rifles are reserved for hunting small game, if possible. They're nearly silent when fired compared to a real rifle. The amoxicillin tablets were purchased from a pet supply web site. The antifungals were purchased mainly to treat rashes. If nobody is taken daily baths/showers then perhaps this would be a wise thing to have around. (vaginal antifungal creams are excellent for diaper rashes, fungal skin rashes, jock-itch, athletes foot, and the like). The menthol extract was bought on eBay. Crystalized menthol is nothing more than mint extract. Mint has been used by humans for thousands of years and it's medical uses are countless.

Here are my current provisions:

(non-dehydrated) 270 lbs canned - Treet 163 lbs canned - chicken 126 lbs canned - hamburger   84 lbs canned - beef   84 lbs canned - pork   60 lbs canned - seafoods 100 lbs canned - cheddar cheese   48 lbs canned - clarified butter (ghee)

(freeze-dried)   25 lbs canned freeze dried - beef   25 lbs canned freeze dried - chicken   58 lbs canned freeze dried - sweet peas   10 lbs canned freeze dried - broccoli     2 lbs canned freeze dried - pineapple     4 lbs canned freeze dried - mushrooms   12  oz canned freeze dried - blueberries   12  oz canned freeze dried - blackberries

(TVPs) 27 lb canned - bacon TVP 30 lb canned - beef TVP 25 lb canned - chicken TVP 10 lb canned - taco TVP   7 lb canned - sausage TVP   7 lb canned - ham TVP   7 lb canned - sloppy joe TVP

(dehydrated)* 123 lbs canned powdered - milk   80 lbs canned powdered - eggs   41 lbs canned powdered - butter   39 lbs canned dehydrated - potato flakes   20 lbs canned dehydrated - potato slices   80 lbs canned dehydrated - potato dices   90 lbs canned dehydrated - potato granules     9 lbs canned dehydrated - sweet potato   46 lbs canned dehydrated - onion   58 lbs canned dehydrated - carrots   24 lbs canned dehydrated - split peas     6 lbs canned dehydrated - celery   20  oz canned dehydrated - bell peppers   50 lbs canned dehydrated - sweet corn   75 lbs canned dehydrated - great northern beans   45 lbs canned dehydrated - pinto beans   21 lbs canned dehydrated - refried beans   24 lbs canned dehydrated - kidney beans   21 lbs canned dehydrated - small red beans   22 lbs canned dehydrated - black beans   10 lbs canned dehydrated - lima beans   33 lbs canned dehydrated - lentils 185 lbs canned dehydrated - egg noodles   68 lbs canned dehydrated - macaroni   35 lbs canned dehydrated - spaghetti 332 lbs canned dehydrated - rice 200 lbs canned dehydrated - hard wheat   18 lbs canned dehydrated - wheat cereal   18 lbs canned dehydrated - cracked cereal   24 lbs canned dehydrated - barley   30 lbs canned dehydrated - oats   31 lbs canned dehydrated - banana slices   19 lbs canned dehydrated - apple slices   10 lbs canned dehydrated - apple chips   17 lbs canned dehydrated - apple sauce     3 lbs canned dehydrated - strawberries     3 lbs canned dehydrated - raspberries     8 lbs canned - imitation blueberry nuggets   18 lbs canned dehydrated - peanut butter   78 lbs canned dehydrated - fruit drink   26 lbs canned dehydrated - chocolate drink 400 lbs canned - flour   94 lbs canned - cornmeal 200 lbs canned - instant pancake mix   47 lbs canned - whole grain pancake mix   20 lbs canned - brownie mix     6 lbs canned powdered - cheddar cheese   26 lbs canned powdered - cheese blend     6 lbs canned powdered - baking cocoa     9 lbs canned - baking powder   64 lbs canned - baking soda   24 lbs canned - beef bouillon   30 lbs canned - chicken bouillon   20 lbs canned - salt 500 lbs canned - white sugar 233 lbs canned - brown sugar   48 lbs canned - tomato powder     3 lbs canned - chili powder     6 lbs canned - garlic powder     4 lbs canned - black pepper     2 lbs canned - cinnamon   10 lbs canned - coffee     8  oz  pure vanilla extract     1 gallon imitation maple syrup flavoring   10 lbs Jello instant banana pudding 200 packs of Kool-Aid   *some items are not canned, they’re in buckets.

1 cast-iron dutch oven     1 Coleman portable camp oven     3 Thermos type thermal cookers (available @     3 Coleman dual fuel single burner camping stove   35 gallons Coleman cooking fuel (white gas)   80 gallons regular unleaded gas   20 gallons kerosene     5 emergency kerosene lanterns   50 lantern wicks   75 large candles     2 emergency flashlights 250 disposable lighters      3 buck saws      2 two-man lumber saws

Archery, fishing gear, 3 semi-automatic rifles 3 tactical shotguns 3 semi-automatic handguns 6,000 rounds ammunition 2 spring piston air-rifles 2,000 air-rifle pellets

12  economy size buckets of detergent     2  gallons bleach     6 large bottles isopropyl alcohol     6 large bottles hydrogen peroxide   50  tubes toothpaste     1  big berkey  water filter w/ 8 extra ceramic filters   70  bottles migraine headache tablets   12  bottles amoxicillin tablets   12 suture needles   10 boxes Nyquil   10 boxes antihistamines     5 cans antifungal sprays     5 boxes vaginal antifungals     3 bottles antifungal powders   10 jars petroleum jelly     1 lb pure crystalized menthol extract   25 cans mosquito repellent 200 boxes nicotine gum 300 gallons distilled water    

120 ounces silver   10 ounces gold (fractional)

My home is paid for.

If need be I will take in select friends and extended family so that together we can defend our liberties. I will never allow an unconstitutional search of my home. Nor a forced evacuation.

I intend to Live Free - or Die Trying.

Being able to take care of our own medical conditions is very important. Sometimes we can't get to a doctor, can't afford it or perhaps there will be a breakdown and there are no doctors available. I've found it invaluable to know what to do on my own when out on backpacking trips and an injury or sickness shows up.

In cases like this having a good knowledge of herbal medicine and having a few things on hand can mean the difference between agony and wellness or even life and death. I've used herbal medicine for over 20 years for livestock and pets as well as friends and family members. Having children around has provided plenty of opportunity for using herbs whether it's a scrape that's bleeding or accidentally eating something poisonous from the cupboard, not to mention a few colds, headaches, bruises and broken bones.

Living on a farm with livestock has also been an education. In the years I have used herbs I have never had to call in the veterinarian, everything encountered has been treatable with herbs and there have been many notable successes to prove the effectiveness.

This is a basic overview of the herbs and formulas I use regularly. It's not intended to be a complete course in herbal medicine. I do not have all the answers, I just have a small amount of experience that may help someone someday. These are basics, I have used many things that work wonderfully but I find myself grabbing these basic things most often and am sure that if I had these few herbs on hand I wouldn't be completely helpless, in fact, I feel incredibly rich. With that said, here's the favorites from my herbal medicine bag.

Fresh Garlic
One of the few herbs that I use almost exclusively fresh. Freezes well too. One of my favorite antibiotics, illnesses and parasites just can't bear to stick around when you are taking lots of garlic. For ear infections I make a garlic oil by soaking crushed fresh garlic cloves in olive oil, leaving in a warm place for 24-36 hours. Applied by dropper into the ears and held in place with cotton this has always worked for my family. Garlic works through the combination of chemicals in the plant that when combined work effectively. The goal is to combine them, and this is best done with fresh garlic. As distasteful as it may be the most effective way to use garlic internally is to chew up whole fresh cloves. Swallowing them (chopped to a manageable size) is a close second. Garlic products like pills and powders are okay but I prefer fresh. Garlic taken internally is a must as well to help fight infection.

Fresh Onions
For a bad bruise there's nothing better. Simply slice a thin piece of onion to cover the bruise and tape it on the bruised area as soon after the injury as possible. I've used this many times when one of the children runs in crying after being smashed up and with the onion slice in place they are soon out running around like nothing had happened, no bruise. For tender skin I will put a little olive oil on the area before the onion as this helps keep strong onions from burning the skin.

Powdered Charcoal
Do not be caught without a good supply of finely powdered charcoal. Fifty pounds would not be too much, it's free so there's no reason not to have plenty. You can buy activated charcoal for some absurd amount of money in small containers but the stuff you can make yourself works just fine, I've saved many of my livestock that managed to eat something poisonous with it. Powdered charcoal has a mechanical action, it's not some miracle thing, it just has microscopic pores that somehow absorb immense amounts of poisons and hold it fast. I use it internally and externally. Internally for any ingested poison, for instance, when my dog eats the rat poison, or externally for things like snakebite or spider bite. For cases of blood poisoning I clean the wound and keep a charcoal poultice on the area 24 hours a day until the red line is gone. This has worked well for everyone I have used it on.

Making charcoal is easy, simply make a nice hot fire with clean hardwood, willow is very good but most any other non resinous hardwood will work fine. Don't use old barn boards or treated lumber. Once the wood chunks are red coals use tongs or something as effective to place the coals in an airtight and fireproof container, a metal can with a tight lid works good. Leave this filled with the coals and sealed as well as practical in the fire, adding more wood to keep the fire burning fairly well. The coals will not turn to ashes in the can because there is no air for them to burn. After the fire has died down, usually an hour or so, I take them out and let cool. Once cool I grind it all up to powder in a blender. The finer the powder the better. Be forewarned, this makes a terrific mess.

My number one herb. Stops bleeding, heart attacks (almost instantly) and shock. A couple of pinches of cayenne powder in a glass of water will almost always stop a bloody nose, you have to drink the cayenne water though. I've had kids balk, thinking it will burn, it won't. I've tried it too many times and I know there's no burning.

Raspberry Leaves
I keep some raspberry leaves on hand, especially when I travel, if I feel like I might be getting a cold or flu I have a few cups of strong raspberry leaf tea and usually this takes care of things.

Yarrow works like the raspberry leaf, I like the taste better. Adding a little honey to a cup of yarrow tea makes a really nice drink and it's really good for you too.

I like ginger tincture for motion sickness but the powder is good for adding to a hot bath. A hot ginger bath taken when sick really helps and increases the circulation quickly to help the body cleanse toxins and fight infection. Good for frostbite, colds, flu etc. Just beware, it's rather aggressive on delicate skin and can burn. If taking a ginger bath you would do well to cover delicate areas with Vaseline.

Slippery Elm
Thank God for Slippery Elm bark! It has so many uses, for people that can't keep food down a slippery elm gruel (powder mixed with enough water to make something like oatmeal) will usually stay down and is extremely nourishing, you can live for a long time on nothing but slippery elm bark and water. For deep wounds, large gashes or bullet wounds packing the wound and area with slippery elm bark powder mixed with water to make a paste will heal things up nicely. Don't remove, just keep adding and keep moist by covering with a bandage and some plastic. You can moisten the dressing with comfrey tea for even better effect. I also like adding a little marshmallow root powder and/or comfrey root powder to the slippery elm for a stronger effect. Often this will heal so well there will be no scar, I have proven this on myself but it's hard to convince people because there's no scar to show how bad the injury was.

One of God's healing gifts. I plant comfrey everywhere because I never want to be without it. The leaf and roots have the same properties but the root is stronger. I've used it on cuts, burns, broken bones, sprains, etc. Comfrey is also a highly nutritious feed for livestock and will help build strong bones. I feed it to my horses.

Highly nutritious. When there's been a lot of bleeding I give lots of alfalfa to help build back up. It does thin the blood a little so wait until after the bleeding stops!

Extremely nutritious, high in all kinds of minerals the body needs for health and for growing. I feed it to my livestock and there's a very noticeable improvement in their health and energy. When food is scarce or poor quality I'll be supplementing with kelp and alfalfa. A side benefit is that kelp is extremely high in usable iodine and works well as an inexpensive substitute for potassium iodide during a nuclear incident.

Yellow Dock
High in iron and highly nutritious. I use it when I need a blood builder or for anemia.

High in iron and other blood building nutrients. For cases where a blood transfusion is needed but unavailable a daily dose of beet juice, carrot juice, wheat grass juice, alfalfa juice, comfrey juice, bee pollen and slippery elm will often work instead to help the person recover without the transfusion.

I would venture to guess that in a time where the access to good medical care is unavailable and life perhaps is more dangerous with more chance of gunshot wounds or stepping on a nail, gangrene will be more common than it is now and we will be glad to know what to do with it. Doctors usually cut off parts of the body afflicted with gangrene, I have a better solution. Soak the area in a very strong tea of marshmallow 12 hours a day until all traces of gangrene are gone. For instance, if a leg or foot were affected I would use a steel barrel (clean) over a fire to make an immense batch of marshmallow tea. Keeping it warm, soak in the barrel as long as it takes, usually not much more than a few days. If you can't get that much marshmallow you can use hollyhocks, which are from the same family. Another use for marshmallow is as a milk replacer substitute. When I was many years younger I raised three orphan lambs on a milk replacer made of slippery elm and marshmallow powder mixed with warm water until it would just barely go through the bottle nipple and a trace of kelp. When it was available I would add as much goat milk as I could in place of the water but it wasn't always on hand. The lambs grew into some of my finest animals and won many trophies at the fairs.

High in nutrients, good for when the food supplies are poor. Also great for allergies believe it or not.

When I need a strong blood cleanser I reach for the chaparral. Not only does it help purify the blood but it cleanses the liver as well as fights internal parasites and is an antibiotic. For regular body maintenance when conditions are less than we could wish for or for helping with infections.


If I could only grab one thing cayenne would be it. For stopping bleeding there's not much that will work better. For bleeding I like to use the tincture internally and powder topically at the same time but you can use a teaspoon or more of the powder in a glass of water internally if you don't have tincture. Cayenne evens out and stabilizes the blood pressure and once you have used it will be amazed at how well the bleeding stops, from nose bleeds to large gashes it works great and doesn't burn like most people think it would. Also there's nothing better for shock, a real stout dose internally for someone that is in shock will really help them pull through. Also works for heart attacks, while I've never had one myself if I thought I might be having one I would drink a half bottle of cayenne tincture immediately, then take more throughout the day. I have heard from people with experience that this works but I hope I never have to try it out.

If I had to pick only two tinctures that I could take with me the easy choice would be cayenne and lobelia. Lobelia is a lifesaver, and I mean that literally. In large doses (tablespoons) it causes vomiting, which can be useful in cases of poisoning. In smaller doses ( 5-10 drops) it stops spasms, such as cramps, seizures, involuntary muscle contractions. It's also very effective at opening the bronchial tubes so when a child has croup or bronchitis I reach for the lobelia tincture.

Raspberry Leaf
Helps with making childbirth go much easier, at least that's what I've been told by the women that have used it, being a guy I haven't tried it myself. Also works great for anything I would use yarrow for.

I use yarrow constantly. Colds, flu, stomachache, headache. You name it, I grab the yarrow. Ginger About ten minutes after I get in a small airplane I am beginning to turn green and dizzy. Motion sickness is no fun but when I have a bottle of ginger in my pocket I don't worry.

Cold? Flu? Along with garlic Elderberry works great. Alone it works great too but I like using garlic with it. Shepherds Purse Here's a great one for putting a stop to excessive bleeding/hemorrhaging. Good in childbirth for instance.

Red Clover
A strong blood cleanser and blood thinner. Works good to help remove toxins in the blood, just remember your blood will not clot as well as usual. I made the mistake one time of castrating a bull calf that had been grazing on a rich clover pasture. He bled like a faucet.

Black Walnut
An extremely effective fungicide and vermifuge that I use for keeping my livestock free of internal parasites and problem fungus. I've used it just as effectively on people. Is also is a very effective dark brown stain so don't be surprised if when you use it, for instance on fungus on your feet, you have brown skin for a while.

Parsley Root
Urinary tract problems? Anyone that has experienced this will appreciate parsley root.

Yellow Dock
Has a good quality Iron, easily used by the body. With a lot of bleeding for instance you might be glad to get a little boost to your iron levels to help recover. Also good when you feel tired all the time. Echinacea I use to turbocharge the immune system. Works good for things like spider bites too. One warning, I don't suggest using more than two weeks at a time because the effectiveness wears off.

Usnea is a parasitic plant that grows on trees in wet climates. Being an extremely powerful antibiotic it's one very useful tincture to keep on hand and in your BOB. In my experience it's more powerful than penicillin, cheaper too if you collect it yourself and make the tincture. Years ago I had a sheep with a retained afterbirth that had become infected. This usually results in death, and being one of my favorite ewes I reacted, probably overdoing things a bit but the ewe was completely recovered the next morning. First I manually cleaned out the afterbirth, then gave her via syringe and tube a large dose of raspberry leaf tincture to help her body clean out what I could not. Then I gave her several large syringes full of usnea tincture made with vodka. This resulted in the first intoxicated sheep I have ever met. Despite the obvious overdose she quickly recovered and the infection (which was serious by the time I found her) was gone.

Catnip and Fennel Mixture
Especially with a baby around, this can be a real favorite. A baby with colic or indigestion, screaming half the night can be a real miserable proposition for both baby and family and if life isn't normal this could happen more often due to various upsets. A few drops of catnip and fennel tincture (or tea if you prefer, works well, just not as easy to carry in your pocket) has always worked for my family.


Herbal formula for internal parasites
A tincture made of black walnut hulls, wormwood and cloves is excellent for getting rid of internal parasites. I've used it on people and animals with great success. Taking large amounts of fresh garlic along with this tincture has proven to be even more effective as not many creatures want to stick around when you smell like garlic.

Powdered pool chlorine
A little of this goes a very long way. You'll need it for making a bleach solution which will come in handy for disinfecting. I suspect there will be plenty of applications.

Plantain and Chickweed Salve Made by gently melting beeswax and olive oil and steeping the dried herbs in this for several hours. The proportions of oil and wax determine how hard the salve is, you will need to experiment to see what works for you. I use it for any itching problems, healing skin ailments, bee stings, bug bites, etc.

Clove Oil
Ever have a toothache? Try getting a good nights sleep with one! At some point you will be willing to do just about anything to get a bit of relief and that's when you will be thankful you put that bottle of clove oil in your bag. Put a dab of oil on your finger and put it on the gums around the affected tooth. In my experience the relief is very fast, the taste is a little overwhelming at first but you won't care when you get the relief. It doesn't last long so carry the bottle of oil in your pocket, ready for application whenever you need it. I recommend keeping several bottles on hand.

Making Tinctures
I've mentioned a long list of tinctures that I like to keep on hand but for some it can be too expensive to buy them all. Thankfully they are very easy to make yourself if you are so inclined. Here's basic instructions for how I do it. I almost always use dry herbs. Fresh herbs can be used but their moisture content tends to dilute the alcohol a bit making it less potent. I like alcohol tinctures because they last virtually forever, never freeze in bad weather and are very effective as the alcohol can take the herbal properties into the system quickly. You take such a small dose that, unless you are giving insane doses like I did with the sheep, there's no chance of intoxication, and tinctures taste so bad nobody would ever take more than needed accidentally. I use Vodka because it's just alcohol, nothing added. I take the dried herb I plan on using and place it in the blender, cover with the Vodka, place the lid on the blender and blend until thoroughly incorporated. I then pour into a clean glass jar, put the lid on, label (very important) and place in a fairly warm place like the top of the refrigerator or by the wood stove for two weeks. Every time I go past or think about it I stop and give the jar a few shakes to stir things up a bit. You want to have enough alcohol to allow plenty of sloshing, not a mushy mass. After two weeks of this I strain into another clean jar, preferably dark glass, press out as much liquid from the herbs as possible, close up and label. That's all there is to it. Since almost all tinctures look the same it's extremely important to label them some way that won't disappear with time and use.

Storage: Keep tinctures in dark glass containers. Cool is better but I've never had a tincture go bad even when stored in the car through hot summers and below zero winters. While there are many more herbs that I like to use these are the ones I grab the most. These, in a kit with some instructions would be a great addition to any bug out bag or car kit and for sure keep a supply at home.

Dear James,  
I just wanted to alert you to the possible impact of what is actually happening at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant.  The grid has gone down, and it appears that the emergency diesel generators have failed.  There is apparently no off-site or on-site AC power.  This is very similar to the scenario that I outlined in my article posted last September in SurvivalBlog (except for the precipitating event for my article described an EMP event).  We have a potential disaster worse than Chernobyl in the making.   In fact, even the mainstream media is now taking note.  Here is a blog article from today on Forbes that describes the possible catastrophe in the making.   I hope that this will inspire some of the people who said "that could never happen" to sit up and take notice.  I hope that more people will "wake up" and start to prepare for what really COULD happen here.    Thanks again for all that you do.   Sincerely - B.Z.

I just finished watching an NHK World video of the tsunami wave rolling across farmland in Sendai, Japan.

A few things jumped out at me as I looked at the smaller details:

Several cars can be seen stopping on the roadways, turning around and trying to flee in the opposite direction when the drivers see that the wave has engulfed the road in front of them.  In one case, a driver can be seen evacuating his car and attempting to outrun the wave on foot.  I lost count of the number of people who were running or driving 100 yards or less from the approaching wave.  It was a somber moment to realize that some of those people I saw were likely overtaken by the flood and perished.

As the wave tore down houses and farms, the announcer mentioned that the earthquake had hit just an hour and ten minutes prior.  I was reminded how quickly disaster can strike and shocked at how many souls were still standing there when the first waves hit.  This is in a country with some of the most sophisticated and expensive earthquake and tsunami preparations in the world, and still the mass of people disregarded the warnings.

I watched one scene where cars were lined up trying to navigate down a road, again with the wave rapidly approaching from the rear.  Many drivers simply waited in line for the cars ahead of them to move.  A few drivers wisely decided to ignore the local traffic laws at that moment and cut over into the oncoming lane which was devoid of traffic (who wants to drive toward a tsunami?)  Amazingly, many drivers just continued to wait in line while those behind moved to safety.

Lesson: Make your G.O.O.D. plans and execute them at the first hint of danger.  We all theoretically know how quickly situations can disintegrate, but these videos are proof.  I'd rather have to come home and unpack than to be helpless because I waited a whole hour to see how bad it would get.

It's sad to see such loss of life and to know that so much could have been avoided. - JCW


Dear Mr. Rawles,
My phone rang sometime after 4 A.M. After rousing myself from bed I heard a message from the local sheriff recommending a voluntary evacuation due to incoming tsunami. I woke my wife. When I looked at the clock I discovered I had two minutes before the tsunami hit. Not enough time to get to higher ground. Thankfully,  in southern Alaska the tsunami was tiny. However, it was a literal and figurative wake-up call. If it had been more serious my family and I could have been swept out to sea. I calculated that I had 7 minutes from the time I heard the message to the tsunami’s impact.

My family was lucky. I do not plan to rely on luck again. Every family member will soon have a b.o.b. near the door. We will practice evacuation.  I plan to run several drills in the middle of the night. I was surprised how slowly I moved and how sluggish my thinking was at that time of day. I read survivalblog everyday, but I did not take concrete steps that are necessary to protect my family.  I write this to hopefully remind others that it is not enough to know what to do in a disaster you must practice and have your gear readily accessible. You never know when the time will come for you to grab what is available and flee. Thanks, - T.A. in Southern Alaska

I'd like to suggest to Yvonne with the woodstove that she could mount a half inch thick [steel] plate to the top of her stove to get more cooking area.  The plate could hang out past the edges of the stove to give her more cooking area.  She could bolt or weld it on.  It sounded like she was tight on money, so this would be a cheap and easy fix. - Tim X.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Tom in Juneau is correct. Tulikivi soapstone heaters from Finland are the cat's meow. They are the gold standard for contra-flow masonry heaters and I am sure worth every penny. But, for many readers of this blog their price tag is just not within their grasp. So, I would like to suggest that there is more than one way to skin that cat.

I would like to encourage anyone who is interested in owning a safe, clean-burning, and efficient wood energy appliance, or anyone interested in learning to build the latter as a meaningful profession, to do an internet search for " brick masonry heaters ", " Russian bell heaters ", " grundofen ", " kachelofen ", " Finnish contra-flow ", or " " Russian stoves ". I'm sure I left a few out, but the point is, there are many designs, plans, and workshops available for building, heaters, cook tops, bake ovens or any combination of these. Finding the proper hardware, however, may require another extensive search. But, hand building these things from primarily locally available materials is feasible.  A wonderful condensed history lesson for many masonry stove types can be found at Low Tech magazine. They have been around for quite awhile, apparently due to the need to conserve fuel. Sound familiar ?

I have never met Tom nor have I ever been to Alaska, but I share his passion and enthusiasm for these increasingly important energy saving inventions. Thank you, for allowing us the space to covey this message of hope and encouragement as we face increasingly unsustainable fossil fuel consumption levels. - Henry L.

Desperation, panic grip Japan after quake

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Commentary (via YouTube) from The Patriot Nurse: Who Will Die First When SHTF.

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So much for the propaganda that it was "gun shows" that were to blame for guns of U.S. origin getting into the hands of Mexican drug cartels: Indictments released in arrest of Columbus police chief, mayor and trustee in firearms trafficking case. OBTW, SurvivalBlog readers that study history will remember Columbus, New Mexico as a border town that was raided by Francisco "Pancho" Villa's revolutionary army.

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, [which is] new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and [I will write upon him] my new name.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." - Revelation 3:10-13 (KJV)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Please pray for the people of Japan! The magnitude 9.1 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis were terrible events.

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Over the last few years, I have seen numerous articles on everything imaginable . This has been the most informative site amongst “many” others I frequent. I am a Messianic Christian and partially disabled. I once weighed over 500 pounds and was written off for dead with severe sleep apnea. By the grace of God I have since lost 300 pounds. Many years spent in a wheelchair have pretty much weakened me from the knees down. If you see me in the mall I am probably zipping by you, but I cannot stand for long. I will never be able to run or jog. This article is written for everyone. Those that are disabled have to decide to what level that they can contribute once things go bad. Those that are not disabled” find someone that is!”.

Most disabled people have something that you do not, Time! Even though some of us are able to find and do some type of work, we have time to research much more than the average joe. (this can a beautiful symbiotic relationship) the biggest excuse I hear from joe America is that they do not have the time to plan and prepare. During times we all speak of, a disabled person can be an asset, however; they can be more effective in helping you prepare beforehand. I can tell you personally that most disabled people have disabled bank accounts as well. They would love nothing more than to be useful and prepared, but lack financial resources. We then have your average survival blog reader who may or may not have a certain level of financial security; but through wage earning; has little time to actually prepare. Surely these two types could be a marriage made in heaven. For the disabled person: Use this time to your advantage, the internet, libraries etc. are great resources. Most physicians are already aware of the daily challenges for the disabled. Having lived through Hurricanes Katrina and Ike I saw first hand the new awareness from the medical community. Approach your doctor, tell them your concern on prescription meds and the desire to have long term supplies.

Find things that you can learn (the more the better) to make yourself an asset in the post modern society ahead. Cooking, sewing, and household skill as you are able. Learn about dietary and natural remedies that may aid you when medications are not available. Set up contingency plans and reach out to those that would be mindful preppers but lack time. Just being yourself will minimize their number one excuse for not prepping. Find others who desire to know what you know. Offer to work out a deal with small groups. Organize these groups by assessing what information and projects would benefit them and leverage their time by you doing the foot work. Handle group purchase deals on supplies. Even if you cannot contribute financially, you can be worth your weight in gold by helping a group of individuals and families get their ducks in a row. You could do more in a year than they could in 10 years. Imagine yourself like an administrative assistant/organizer. It will not take long for you to show your worth long before the clock hits zero. On top of that, the skills you acquire will not only carry you into what lies ahead with sword drawn, but those you are grouped with will look to you, the moment things go south. Your hours and hours of research( your own and that your group requests) will far remove you from the hopeless/helpless mindset that is all too easy for us to fall into.

For the average Joe: Likewise, find people with more time than money. They need you too, and they have a precious commodity in time that you do not. If they need a computer, used ones are all over the internet dirt cheap. This is an investment for you and your family. Make lists of things you want them to research. Touch base with them on their findings and make plans accordingly. Disabled people feel detached and useless without good reason. They have more to offer you than you realize. Even if you approach it with selfish motives you would be crazy not to see their value to you. I have done little the last three years but research these topics ,and I do it full time. Since I can get around somewhat i can barter my services for books and products. We disabled people love to read, I am working on a degree in emergency management to be more effective. is a great place to start prepper groups. I have met nurses, cops, mechanics, you name it. They value my opinion because I am honest and very well studied. Reach out to people like myself. We tend to get rejected by society as a whole ,so some are timid to reach out to you. Extend your hand and open yourself up to a gold mine of knowledge, desire and enthusiasm. Be the one to bridge the gap. It makes sense! Everyone wants to be wanted, but our unique situation can help you leverage your time and use “US” a force multiplier when thinking preps.

“I would probably die.” my friend responded to the question of “What happens if there is a power failure while you sleep?”  His smile was closer to a grimace.  He was a fragile old man, out of the hospital for just a week, and would be using supplementary oxygen for the rest of his life.  His oxygen concentrator, used at night while asleep, required 115 VAC.  It wasn’t an idle question.  We had, on different occasions, discussed survival situations, including TEOTWAWKI.  (It is similar to deciding how high “up” is.)

Within days he had cobbled together an alarm that used AA batteries to scream a warning when power was lost.  It was plugged into the wall socket in his bedroom.  He purchased a heavy duty inverter for his automobile and got a much larger battery for his car.  He left an extension cord into the house from the vicinity of his car and could plug his oxygen concentrator into this auxiliary power supply in a matter of minutes.  Three months later, the power went off at 11 P.M. and stayed off until 10 A.M. the next morning.  His entertainment through that time was listening to the scanner and the emergency vehicles trying to cover other people’s problems.

Having a disability doesn’t necessarily equate with being helpless.  It should not absolve you from being as self sufficient as possible.  The ability to plan ahead for emergencies is critical for everyone and people with disabilities even more so.  You have to push your limits to find out what they really are and accept some pain now, when recovery is relatively easy, rather than wait for an emergency and discover just how vulnerable you are. Yes, there are people with profound problems that this may not apply to; however, you don’t know what you can do until you try.

Using my friend as an example:  He had a land line telephone for 911 capability, a cell phone, and later a satellite phone.  He leased the satellite phone for $500 a year that had 600 minutes on it-not that expensive.  The cell phone he used for inexpensive mobile calls and the satellite phone if he was out in the countryside and was out of cell phone range.  He also carried a GPS unit and on some of his meanderings through Wyoming and Montana, he would call his answering machine attached to the land line at home and leave GPS coordinates every hour so.  If he went missing, he could be tracked. 

He started the process of getting a ham license.

His station wagon had extra oxygen bottles, some medications, some food, several gallons of water, a sleeping bag, first aid kit, change of clothes, a chair, and a tarp.  On occasion, he would find a spot that he wanted to photograph at a certain time of day, stop, set up the chair, grab a bottle of water and a snack and wait for that instant when the colors and light were perfect.
For self defense he had a .22 Ruger automatic pistol, a 1911 in .45 ACP, and an M1 Carbine. He practiced regularly. (With a smile on his face.)

He only kept two months worth of food at home as he figured that if things went bad longer than that, he was not going to survive.  His judgment was based on cold hard facts about himself and his personal situation; it was his decision and he faced it head-on.

He did several things well:  He analyzed his immediate abilities and requirements for survival.  He asked himself hard questions about his personal abilities: physical, mental and medical.    He pushed himself mentally and physically to find his boundaries.  He looked at himself and his situation without any of the wishful thinking that is so easy to do and then planned accordingly.

The first reaction of most people, when discussing survival TEOTWAWKI, is “Of course survival is better than the alternative.”  Discussing specific situations, I have also had people flat out tell me that if something like the situation described in the novel “One Second After” occurred, they would prefer to not survive.  I am certain they would be the first people on my doorstep trying to claim guest privileges if they knew that I was prepared and stocked. 

Living it isn’t the same as merely reading about it.  When you are living through a disaster, it is like being nibbled to death by ducks.  You don’t see “the big picture” or how it will affect you, only what is happening to you directly.  It may be miserable but you can plod on.  Reading about it in a story, the writer gives overviews that allow you to grasp a lot of the pain and suffering on a larger scale.  You can grasp how hopeless it may be.  In a story, you can also see what a difference the addition of just a few items might make: a method of self defense, a real first aid kit, or maybe a large bottle of multivitamins.

You have to look closely at what you intend to accomplish in survival.  If it is just yourself, that’s pretty straightforward.   Even so, are you going to try to help the society around you rebuild or just dig a hole and pull it in after yourself?  Do you have family?  What are their requirements and expectations?  What about grandkids?  Some of these people will feel you have gone around the bend with your preparations. After all, life has been good and bad things only happen to other people.  Do you store provisions for them without letting them know?  What skills do you have that other people will need?  Can you motivate people--who don’t believe that prepping is needed--to learn skills that may be useful WTSHTF?

Pardon me while I state the obvious: Life is messy.  Don’t make your plans too tight, make sure there are extras you don’t think you will need.  Be a generalist.  Sometimes the disasters that come at you are nothing you would have ever expected.

TEOTWAWKI can be as personal as losing power and not being able to breathe, as unthinking as a tornado, or as broad a national disaster as the loss of the power grid.  Each one has its own problems and solutions.  Each one will have individuals with their own particular set of preparations and needs.  One size usually does not fit all.

What are your physical limitations?  If you have a condition that may require an ambulance, then living back in the hills might not be a solution.  Two hours on a snowmobile to get to the ambulance in the dead of winter would not be healthy if you have issues.  Can you overcome your personal limitations with planning and engineering?  If you can’t do stairs, can you get a house with a single level?  Can’t bend over?  How about elevated vegetable garden plots?  Put wheels on them so they can be shifted for sun or security.  If you can’t spade a garden now, then don’t plan on doing so after TSHTF.  Maybe Square Foot Gardening or modified hydroponics would be an answer.  Try them both for the experience.

Can you hide in plain sight if needed?  Take some classes or volunteer at a local theater and learn some set design.  In the worst case scenario, you could make your house look like a burned out hulk, complete with the sour wet ash smell so people would leave you alone.

Bug out?  If you have physical or medical limitations, being a refugee is probably going to be a real problem.  You will need to plan on leaving earlier, and on less notice, if it’s at all possible.  That means you need to stay as fully aware of developing problems as it is possible to be. A scanner and a current local map is a start.  Shortwave receiver?  Internet news feeds?  Local contacts in the emergency services group? Then where would be your bug out destination?  Close and semi-secure may be better than far away and highly secure.

Having resources at a separate location in the event of emergencies is extremely desirable.  Maybe you can get some storage at the home of your relatives.  Your kids might be willing to “humor” you by letting you store stuff in their basement if they don’t quite agree with your prepping. That’s okay, as long as you can do it.  Having a large cache of supplies seventy five to a hundred miles away is a good thing.  Worst case, the kids or the relative can use those supplies even if you perish.

Bugout bag?  If you have a disability, it becomes much more important than before.  It almost certainly will need careful preparation and thought to compensate for whatever problems you have.  If you can’t carry it or drive it, can you wheel it? 

You have to plan and work at living a normal life now, while compensating for whatever disability you have.  The trick is to add the extras on top of that plan that will allow you to survive when disaster strikes.  Plan and implement for the most obvious and immediate threat first.  Then expand it.  Check with your city or county disaster preparedness group for their ideas on what the likely emergencies in your area would be, and then play “what if” scenarios with your imagination.  Don’t be limited by their ideas, use them as a springboard for your own.  Read some of the books like “Alas, Babylon”, “Life As We Knew It” or “One Second After.”  There is a great selection of books and information at SurvivalBlog's Bookshelf Page.

All these preparations cost money and take time. It can be quite intimidating, so much so, that some people never get started. If that is your problem, use the “unraveling a sweater” approach:  Ignore the size of what you want to do and grab the first “string” that comes to hand and start with it.  Maybe it is as simple as buying an extra months quantities of your normal staple food purchases.  Once you have started, your preparations are much easier to continue.  Make lists.  Buy what you can and scrounge as much of the rest as you can.  If you are patient, observant and diplomatic, it is amazing what you will find free or nearly free.  Don’t forget garage and rummage sales; sometimes their prices are a penny on the dollar.  Look for closeout items in stores, often the prices are halved or less.  Sometimes on garbage pickup day, I see better quality stuff at the curb than in the second hand stores.

Let’s face it: in an area wide emergency there are going to be far more demands for “The Authorities” time and resources than there will be an ability to respond.  If you have prepared well, you can stay out of the way of disaster and listen to the scanner.  Whatever you do, if you’re going to need assistance in spite of all your planning, don’t wait till the last possible minute and then scream for help.  The chances are they won’t be able to get to you, or even worse, someone will be injured or killed trying to get you out of whatever predicament you are in.  Keep planning ahead and more importantly, act on the plan as quickly as possible.

During an emergency that does not involve you as an individual, unless you have specialized training that is needed; you can quite often help the most by staying out of the way and not needing emergency assistance.  Further, it is quite often best, if you have planned well, to be ignored or overlooked by the bureaucrats that invariably get involved during emergencies. 
If we’re lucky, we may never need any of these preparations at all.  We may be making a huge investment against future inflation and that, by itself, is not a bad result.
Yes, there is an element of selfishness involved, or call it enlightened self interest if you prefer.  The fact is, there is a time for selfishness and a time for selflessness.  Choose wisely.

Last week, legendary investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway was asked in an interview (cited in blogs and articles now all over the Internet) why he was not investing in gold. Here was his reply:  

"If you took all the gold in the world, it would form a cube 67 feet on a side, worth $7 trillion. For that same amount of money, you could own other assets with far greater productive power, including:   All the farmland in the US, about 1 billion acres, which is worth $2.5 trillion.   Seven Exxon Mobil’s (XOM), the largest capitalized company in the US.   You would still have $1 trillion in walking around money left over."    

I'm not sure that I get his point. Apparently, he is making the case that, at current prices, gold is overabundant compared to other assets and, according to the laws of supply and demand, there should be no upside.   What struck me was in inverse corollary: If all the gold in the world is worth $7 Trillion, then all the gold in the world would only pay down half of the U.S. National Debt.   To me, this indicates an extreme shortage of gold. (In reality, an extreme overabundance of dollars, which even when held in your hand are simply promissory notes  -- not to mention Euros, Pounds, Yen, and so forth).

Like you, I'm really more of a silver guy, myself. - E.C.B. in Illinois  

Bank of America says nearly half its mortgages are 'bad'. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Also from G.G.: Number of U.S. Expatriates Doubled in 2010. JWR Adds: I suspect that a lot of these were long-term ex-pats who had heard about the planned increases in the Federal income tax brackets. (Which thankfully were cancelled at the 11th hour.)

Tony B. recommended this essay by Seth Lipsky: The Floating Dollar as a Threat to Property Rights

Items from The Economatrix:

Unrest In The Middle East Continues / Silver Prices Exceed $36

Gold $1,500?  The World Is Changing  

Pocket Money (The Mogambo Guru)  

Unemployment May Be 22.1%  

Sharply Rising Oil Prices Having Widespread Effects In U.S.  

Mary F. wrote to note that the New York Times recently ran a piece about offgrid living, in Texas: A Glow in the Desert. It is about a New Yorker removed to West Texas and living off the grid. "When you work alone, you have to be patient. Progress is measured in the completion of small tasks, and construction takes years, not weeks. Safety is a colossal issue." 

   o o o

Britain “The Era Of Constant Electricity At Home Is Ending”, National Grid Chief. (A tip of the hat to G.P. for the link.)

   o o o

Troy H. suggested this: Chernobyl, My Primeval, Teeming, Irradiated Eden

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KAF sent a link to a Washington Times Inside the Ring piece on China's ASAT missile defense. Here is a quote: "Defense officials and private specialists said the cable further highlights official China's duplicity in opposing U.S. missile defenses and promoting an international agreement to limit weapons in space at the same time it is secretly working on its own space weapons and missile defense programs."

"[[To the chief Musician, [A Psalm] of David.]] In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee [as] a bird to your mountain?

For, lo, the wicked bend [their] bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The LORD [is] in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne [is] in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: [this shall be] the portion of their cup.

For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright." - Psalm 11:1-7 (KJV)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.  

I spent three years working through college as part of several emergency response teams dealing with hazardous materials (Hazmat) containment and cleanup.  There are simple lessons that can help prepare for various emergencies and materials that might be encountered.  This is not a do-it-yourself type of endeavor nor is it safe unless you are properly trained, equipped and monitored.  Safety is most important and your responsibility: Never put yourself or others in danger when a substance or environment is unknown or dangerous.  Take basic precautions and obtain all information about any potentially dangerous materials you may encounter or store as part of your preparations.  Some of my experiences have given me a lot to consider in my emergency preparations and hopefully will be of interest to others.  

Almost any material you might store or encounter around you will have a data sheet available providing details on each substance, their health risks, precautions, and basic instructions on how to deal with it.  These Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are also available online for free.  As part of your personal or family preparation, create a list of all potentially hazardous materials and gather their MSDS.  Study them.  Businesses must have MSDS on hand ready access and display placards of other regulated materials.  Become familiar with those materials you will likely encounter.  It is also worthwhile to collect MSDS for materials manufactured in your area that you might encounter in an emergency.  

Another important step is to do a site assessment of your home or site, to determine what potential hazardous materials are around.  Some suggestions may include old mining sites (especially in the western US), railroad tracks, highways or interstates, old manufacturing sites, steel mills, regional chemical plants, power lines, and especially pipelines.  All of these pose risk of chemical spills or contamination and should be considered.  Each county will have records as will the BLM or even the EPA to help you determine any possible risk.  Often I was called on to assist law enforcement when unknown chemicals were discovered along highways or in public places – often with drug paraphernalia.  Any main highway or roadway that connects large populations will have drug or other harmful chemicals discarded at rest areas, parking lots, or on-ramps.  

A simple list of personal protective equipment (PPE) can go a long way for basic hazmat needs.  These should include latex gloves, heavy PVC gloves, PVC boots (preferably with steel toes and shanks), Tyvek coveralls, and of course duct tape.  Eye, face, and skin protection such as safety glasses, goggles, or splash shields are good to have on-hand.  90% of our professional hazmat PPE consisted of these items.  The Tyvek suits are readily available, and I recommend getting the ones with booties on them.  Duct tape works well to reinforce knees and other locations from tearing easily.  The Tyvek was adequate for all dry materials we worked with, and a coverall jumpsuit can be found on eBay for about $7 each.  

If you have the need or availability, a good heavy PVC coverall and full-face respirator are also valuable for more difficult hazmat situations.  The PVC coverall works well for oil or petroleum materials.  For dirty cleanup we would wear latex gloves taped and sealed to a Tyvek suit, then put on the PVC coverall and heavy gloves and boots.  Again we would use duct tape to seal our gloves and boots to the PVC suit.  The hood of the PVC suit was also sealed with duct tape to our respirator or air mask during difficult or dirty work.  Our respirators of choice were full-faced masks by MSA which used dual filter canisters, and are easily available from mine safety sources.  The most common cartridges used for these masks were “Combination Cartridges” that were used for Organic vapors, Acid gases, and particulates.  Petroleum products, acids, and any wet materials required the PVC protection in our work.    

Full-face masks are common on eBay for under $100, and cartridges run about $5 each.  Whenever PPE is used to clean up materials, always dispose of the PPE with the hazardous material – never reuse contaminated PPE!   Mine tailings with heavy metal contamination is an invisible risk.  A friend was renting and trying to purchase a beautiful piece of property with a large shop on it and later discovered that a small manufacturer had used the site for casting lead bullets.  Most of the site was contaminated with lead in various forms to depths of up to 3 feet deep.  This posed significant risk to his plans for a garden and young children.  Many cleanup sites in the western US I’ve worked on consisted of replacing all exposed dirt and topsoil with several feet of ‘clean’ dirt.  Most of the contamination of these sites was capped by simply covering the bad dirt with a foot of clean soil.  When performing cleanup of heavy metal or mine tailings, we typically did not require protective breathing gear such as respirators if we could keep dust under control with water spray.  Our PPE was simply Tyvek suits to keep dirt contamination off our clothes.   Many counties will provide testing options for your soil, and if you find information that leads you to believe there may be a hazardous material, it would be best to document your findings and seek some lab testing.  With conclusive results you can then work to address or evacuate the area of concern well before your plans depend on the location.

I spent several months cleaning up radioactive materials at a Manhattan Project site – including contaminated dirt, cinder block walls, and underground pipes.  Our PPE was the Tyvek jump suits and respirators when needed.  Most of the time we did not require the respirators when the dust and dirt could be adequately suppressed by water spray.  We were constantly monitored by safety personnel with Geiger counters and air monitors, so this may be a tricky situation to call in a personal situation.  One day we were called outside to a grassy lawn that tested for low-level radiation.  The day was warm and sunny, so we kept a spray hose on the dirt as we loaded our wheelbarrow which kept the dust down, allowing us to work without respirators.  As we dug deeper, the soil became more and more radioactive.  After we had dug two feet, the Geiger counter was “lighting up” and we nervously put on our masks even though there was no dust.  Then, my shovel struck something and I reached into the hole, pulling out a very radioactive asbestos tile.  I was very glad to have my mask on!  A whole pile of these tiles had been buried out in the yard of this government campus, years earlier.  

Asbestos is another material we wore Tyvek suits with respirators to clean up in various buildings and ships.  Whenever asbestos is encountered, always vacate the area and allow professionals to deal with this material.  It is not safe nor is it legal to clean up on your own.  If you may encounter it, especially in older buildings, get more information on what to look for so you are aware of it.  It is best not to disturb it at all.   Acids are another hazmat you might encounter – especially if you have vehicle batteries around in your inventory.  While often not requiring breathing protection, eye, face, and skin protection are important.  If you have batteries, solvents, citric acid (for food preserving) I’d also recommend keeping baking soda and water near by.  Make sure you know what you need and have it close.  For most typical acids the soda and water will adequately neutralize any spills.  Another suggestion is to buy some simple PH test strips from a pool or hot tub supply store.  These strips are great for a quick check to see if acid is leaking or has been neutralized.  

Another common hazmat category would be explosives.  Gunpowder is usually stable and safe when stored properly.  I’ve responded to several sites where old Tovex or “Minerite” sticks were discovered.  Tovex is a modern replacement of dynamite and is much more stable and safe than dynamite.  Numerous federal, state, and county permits are required to transport this material, so engagement with appropriate authorities is necessary.  Ammonium nitrate (AN) is the main ingredient in most varieties of Tovex. It is still commonly available in agriculture or mining.  One response I participated in was for a semi-truck which was hauling a load of AN when it crashed into a mountain stream in a winding, mountainous canyon.  The trailer split open, spilling most of the AN load into the swift water.  The AN settled in pockets of thick, pink paste at the bottom of the river.  We used a vacuum truck to extricate the AN from the river bottom where we could.  It was easy to handle but sticky.  Since it is a fertilizer, our cleanup was not for safety but for the cosmetics of the fishing stream.  The recovered AN was interned at the local landfill.  When the trailer was removed from the river, we wiped the AN off with thick absorbent pads, which resembled thick paper towels of cotton.  These absorbent pads also worked well with oils and petroleum materials.  I’d recommend keeping a bundle of these pads available for an emergency as they are handy for many uses.  

Water reactants are a very dangerous and scary material to deal with in an emergency, and any risk or exposure to them should be identified well before it starts to rain.  Water reactants are chemicals that react to water itself, often very violently.  Though not common, they are serious and should never be dealt with except by professionals.  Indulge me in one story that may not have direct value to emergency prep which is vivid in my memory.   Late one night we got a call from the local fire department of a fire at a small chemical plant.  The firefighters, upon entering the building, discovered a large quantity of old, crystallized picric acid – very explosive with water or mechanical vibrations (i.e. shock).  The firefighters backed out, called us, and then performed fire suppression while we carefully carried the containers out to the police bomb trailer for later disposal.  As we were removing the acid, we noticed one of the burning walls had a small, hidden room with several weapons inside.  In less than 15 minutes, we had BATF agents escorting us and the firemen as we finished removing the acid and began removing the guns, cocaine, and other ‘evidence’ while the building burned around us.  That was a really exciting night for a young college student!  Apparently the ATF was already watching the place, and the cache of hidden guns was enough for them to pursue it further.   

If you have explosive materials such as gun powder, fuels, or fertilizers in your area, one suggestion would be to protect those materials with sandbags and concrete blocks.  Do not stack materials on the hazmat materials, but form blast walls in layers that will give protection in the event of a detonation.  Fuel vapors are very dangerous and will travel so learn of and take precautions.  It is beyond the scope of this discussion to give details, but take the time to ensure you are safe and legal.   Liquid mercury is another hazmat material we ran across often in my work.  Though not common it is still around in most communities and should be handled with minimal exposure.  Mercury vapor is the most serious threat.  Vaporized mercury can enter through your lungs and collect in your blood.  In our cleanup we used special vacuums with HEPA filters to keep vapor out of the air and always wore respirators with appropriate filters.  

We were called one day to a large warehouse where someone had shipped a quart jar full of liquid mercury.  The jar had broken, spilling material all over the shipping van, the parking lot, and pools were spread throughout the inside of the warehouse.  Our PPE was Tyvek suits, respirators, and heavy PVC boots and gloves.  We entered the warehouse (where work was continuing as normal) and found a young woman trying to help the company by using a common shop-vac, standing in the pools in her tennis shoes trying to vacuum up the mercury.  We had our masks on and quickly shut off the shop-vac, which was spraying mercury vapor into the air, and sent the young woman to the hospital.  I never heard about what happened with the young woman.  

Pipeline accidents seem to becoming more common in the news.  Please be well aware of any pipelines in your area of interest.  Neighborhoods are crisscrossed with gas lines in many residential areas.  One summer while removing neighborhood yards because of heavy metal contamination from an area steel mill, we found many houses where the gas lines were not buried sufficiently or where the gas company said they were buried.  We dug many of the gas lines up with our backhoe, and after a while provided our own first response to a cut gas line.  Most new gas lines are plastic “poly” line of 1 to 2” in diameter, and when cut by a backhoe blade, we would simply bend the broken end of the pipe over itself, crimping the end shut.  Then with duct tape or bailing wire we would tie the pipe end to itself, keeping the leak crimped closed on its own while we evacuated the home and waited for the gas company to respond.   In an emergency break, crimping the line will save valuable time and risk to the area.  If we couldn’t get a good crimp, or those times when the gas pipe was older metal, we got everyone evacuated a safe distance as soon as possible.  

Besides pipelines, railroad tracks are one of my personal concerns.  Many of my Hazmat calls were to respond to railroad accidents throughout the western states, and any railroad accident is a serious accident.  It is amazing the amount and variety of chemicals that are shipped daily around the US.  In the event of a railroad crash, toxic gases could be released and force evacuations.  Evacuation routes themselves are often affected by the crash.  The local environment and groundwater can also be at risk.  The good news regarding a railroad issue is that they typically are responded to quickly and effectively because any closure to the track line can cause serious financial losses.   Two coal trains collided in the canyon of a western state.  Fortunately no one was hurt.  Two of the engines derailed (along with many empty coal cars) and their diesel tanks ruptured, posing a threat to the water supply of 50,000 people.  The clay soil sealed the fuel tanks where they sat, giving the railroad time to repair and open the tracks.  Finally, two cranes hoisted the engines up, allowing us to capture and remove the fuel before it could get to the water supply.  My personal feeling is to stay 25 miles (and upwind) from track lines, and check on possible impacts a spill of any type might pose.  

Sometimes even a harmless spill of corn in a railroad incident can have dangerous effects.  In the remote mountains of Montana several cars of feed corn were derailed.  No other dangerous materials were on the train, so our response ended quickly.  About a week later, however, the feed corn had gone sour and attracted two black bears, which became quite attached to their lucky stash of sour mash and caused some problems with the cleanup crew and locals.  I was told that the Fish and Game Department had to intervene for the work to complete.   Petroleum spills are the hazmat materials most people will be exposed to.  Most of these items are extremely and violently explosive in gaseous form, so any potential risk of gas you must get away!  This goes without saying but is worth stressing again.  For most heavy weight oil spills, we would use Tyvek suits underneath an outer PVC suit, with gloves and boots.  Having several large bags of absorbent clay granules (Kitty Litter is great) is very helpful, as are the absorbent pads mentioned previously.  I’d also suggest some industrial strength citric cleaner that is readily available and works great to clean up.  Some times we’d be called to clean up drums of vegetable oil, and other times it would be 90-weight petroleum oils.  All of them were easy to clean up in warm weather, but thickened up in colder weather and required a lot of scraping.  Another suggestion if you have large quantities of heavier oil is to place several feet of gravel underneath.  In the event of a spill the gravel holds the oil well, easing the cleanup effort.   Hydrocarbons also pose an explosive risk when temperatures and vapor / oxygen levels are at sufficient levels.  Most of our cleanup equipment was specialized for explosive environments, including sealed light sources and brass hand-tools to eliminate spark sources.   

Many gas stations or places where vehicles are frequently located can become contaminated with even small amounts of hydrocarbons.  When these oils get into the soil, they can contaminate the ground and groundwater badly.  As the groundwater travels along streams, or as the water table rises or falls in the soil, these oils are spread upwards and downwards as they ride on the top of the water, contaminating many feet of soil when “pushed” up.  It is worth considering this as you evaluate your location in proximity to gasoline sources.   One job was running test wells at a heavily contaminated gas station.  Several buried gas tanks had leaked for years, contaminating the soil for many yards around the gas station itself.  As part of our work to monitor the cleanup, we had several test wells dug in the area and were pumping ground water out into large tanks where we could test the water for the amount of hydrocarbons present in each well.  All of the test water was contaminated and had to be treated before we could dispose of it.  

Our water treatment for this contaminated water consisted of three 55-gallon drums full of “activated” charcoal plumbed in-series together and gravity fed out of the holding tanks.  Activated charcoal is very porous or powdered to give it a high surface area for exposure.  The gasoline tainted water simply ran out of the tanks, into the top of the first barrel, out of the bottom of the first barrel into the top of the second barrel, and so forth.  Finally, when it emerged from the last barrel it ran out into the street.  We continually monitored the exiting water for any signs of contamination.  All of the water – even the last few gallons from the tank were “clean enough to drink” after running through the charcoal.  We processed more than 12,000 gallons through those three drums.  I was really impressed with the ability of the charcoal to cleanup the gasoline.  I don’t recall what amount of gas was originally in the water.  This experience has been great food for thought over the years.  

Industrial sites have a wide variety of solvents and hazardous chemicals.  Food processing sites also have a fair share of dangerous materials, including ammonia and acids.  Late one evening a coolant line busted at a frozen seafood warehouse leaking ammonia throughout the freezer area.  Much of the downtown city block around the warehouse was evacuated for more than two days while we cleaned up the spill.  Ammonia is a very powerful material and surprisingly difficult to deal with.  All seafood and ice in the warehouse was contaminated by the strong gas and had to be thrown out.  Less than 100 gallons was spilled, but contaminated more than 80,000 square feet of storage and hundreds of tons of food, not to mention all the other buildings around the vicinity.  While using steam cleaners in our efforts, our respirator cartridges would quickly fill and clog up with the steam if we weren’t careful so keep in mind the environment breathing PPE will be used in.  

One last story to share that hopefully will help someone else avoid a painful lesson.  One emergency response I was called into was to clean out a hotel room where a couple of drug fiends had taken an undercover police officer hostage in a bust-gone-bad.  Long story short- a lot of teargas was used to resolve the situation.  So much tear gas that when we entered the room, gas droplets pooled up at our feet in the carpet.  The room had to be gutted, and when the cleanup was over we were told to dispose of all of our PPE – including our respirators.  I was quite fond of my closest facial friend, and thought I would try cleaning it off instead.  The lesson I learned was that water does not wash off tear gas – it just spreads it… all over the rest of the mask.  Putting on a contaminated mask is not pleasant except to the others working with you to get a good laugh out of.  Lesson learned and I got rid of my old mask for a new, cleaner friend.   Decontamination (Decon) of equipment and yourself after a cleanup incident is as important as containment of the original spill.  Take time to plan out your exit strategy and ensure your PPE does not spread the contaminant outside of the containment area.  We used travel trailers with front and rear exit doors to allow us to Decon at one end of the trailer, shower inside, and exit the rear of the trailer in the clean zone of the site.  All work was done in pairs with multiple support people monitoring us at various distances.  While we did occasionally run out of supplied air and some minor injuries, I never encountered any other serious situations because of the redundancy and attentive care. 

Only one incident of contamination is worth noting that required first aid.  I was inside 10,000 gallon tanks cleaning them for old Chromic acid contamination.  Again, because of the steam, I was required to frequently exit the tank for my respirator cartridges to be replaced.  While having my cartridges replaced, the acid slurry was deep enough to enter the top of my boot through the duct tape seal as I knelt at the tank's opening.  I immediately noticed the irritation and quickly exited the tanks and PPE, quickly washing my leg in clean water that was on-hand for just such a situation.  My injuries were minimal and required very little first aid, because of the planning and quick action.  

Finally, the most important suggestion I can make to someone regarding Hazmat cleanup is don’t do it!  Don’t mess with any of these materials, and if you believe you have discovered something potentially dangerous, get everyone away and notify authorities.  In many situations we have may have no choice but to do something this may give you something to think about for your own preparations.  As professionals we had extensive training, re-training, safety monitoring, regular blood work to monitor for exposure, and more training.  The best way to deal with hazmat materials is bug-out and get to a safer location.  That will keep you safe, and that will keep you legal.  Hopefully some of these ideas and experiences I’ve shared will help you do both.

After reading the article about climbing gear I thought I would add in a few notes.  Being a member of a technical rope team for Search and Rescue in an area of southwestern Colorado, I have all the gear mentioned by T.F. This type of gear has so many uses other than just climbing and rappelling.  I take basic gear (harness, rope, carabiners, webbing, prusiks, and pulleys) on every hunting trip.  It has so many uses from hauling game out of hard to get areas, river crossings, making a rope bridge, amongst other things.  I also use it every time I go onto my roof to shovel snow.

Metal roofs are not always easy to shovel or repair, especially when wet.  The house I once owned had a very poor design in that it had two valleys that always trapped snow.  Using a tie off with a tree and going up onto the roof allowed me to shovel without worrying about the 30 foot fall off the front of the house.  My neighbors use to give me grief for using it but I didn't want to be the guy in the paper who died with a few grand worth of safety equipment in the garage.  When in doubt, rope up.

The gear list T.F. mentions is great but expensive.  However, a good harness is not a necessity, some 1 inch tubular webbing could be used to make waist and chess harness and not cost you between $50 and $100.  Also, sewn runners are also more expensive that 1 inch webbing.  A water knot can be used and you can adjust the length of the runner and use the webbing for other uses.  For any rock climbing where I am wearing a harness for more than 15 minutes I would want a padded harness.  

I can't stress how strong they make climbing ropes these days.  A friend of mine and I tested one of our older climbing ropes at his fathers mechanic shop.  We raised and dropped a V8 engine 12 times before it broke at a height of 20 feet.  We were shocked.  

Other gear that I would add for basic home use that is not needed for climbing are pulleys and prusiks.  With a few pulleys you can create so much mechanical advantage to raise a wood stove into place, move an engine, or move game all with one person.  Prusiks are a length of 6mm or 8mm cord with a double fisherman attaching the ends.  By wrapping around the rope (search Internet for pictures) you can create ascenders, and hold rope in place and create safety lines.  The prusik is in my top 3 pieces of gear I do not leave home without.  

Check REI outlet and sierra trading post for good deals on climbing equipment.  I do see some for sale in the paper every now and again and would not advise buying it that way.  A dropped carabiner on a rock could create a stress fracture and deem it unsafe.  Also, you don't know how someone treated their rope or other equipment.  

Great blog and keep up the good work.  I appreciate every article I read on here. - D.M.

I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of basic climbing gear and knowledge being an incredibly handy item to prep and ad into the stockpile.  One resource I would recommend is looking in your area for arborist supply stores or of course online.  The gear arborist's use is rated for commercial daily use and is also more abrasion resistant as it is intended to rub against the ark of the tree while climbing.  The downside will be in pounds as the gear will be more heavy however when trusting my life and the lives of those most important to me I could handle the extra weight.  Again the same warning without proper training and technique this could prove deadly, get educated. - Michael M.

Dear James,    
Could you post a list of Books and Educational Material we should own or obtain to teach ourselves and our children and grandchildren on our real American History and real World History. I'd like to have and educational series from Kindergarten on up, to have on hand to give our next generation, for a well-rounded education.  Thank you, Paula S.

JWR Replies: The folks that produce The Robinson Curriculum recommend a long list of "classic" books.  Many of these are available free online (in PDF or Kindle reader format). There are many novels as well as nonfiction books including biographies and histories.

Start prowling used book stores and thrift stores. Also faithfully attend your library's annual book sale, to pick up inexpensive hard copies of history books, civics books, and classic literature. To avoid exposure to leftist bias, try to find an Encyclopedia Britannica set that was published before 1965.

I don't own a Kindle reader, but I did install the free "Kindle for Mac" reader software on my laptop, initially just to test our new Archives 2005-2010. (My #2 Son produced it in Kindle format, in advance of the CD-ROM version that is now in beta test.)

Parenthetically, I must mention that I am now hooked on Kindle e-books. I've downloaded more than 120 free e-books so far, by authors like Frederick Bastiat, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, Buffalo Bill Cody, Joseph Conrad, James Fennimore Cooper, Daniel Defoe, John Foxe, Edward Gibbon, H. Rider Haggard, O. Henry, Rudyard Kipling, John Marshall, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Theodore Roosevelt, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jonathan Swift, Zachary Taylor, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, General Ben Viljoen, H.G. Wells, and others. There are hundreds of classics available in Kindle format free of charge at the Amazon web site. And Project Gutenberg had thousands more. Take advantage of these free resources. OBTW, I am making backup copies of all of these e-books onto our Faraday-boxed backup laptop. (Our "laptop in a can.") But nothing is more reliable than an "EMP-proof" hard copy book.

For the true self-sufficient survivalist the Tulikivi soapstone heater (with bake oven) [from Finland] is the supreme method of heating and cooking in a home.   We replaced a dangerous old fireplace with a Tulikivi four years ago and admit they are very expensive, but worth every dollar.  A two hour fire heats our wel- insulated 1,200 square foot home via one two hour fire per day. On very cold days...15F and below. We burn two shorter fires in the morning and evening of one and a half hours each. The wood savings over a conventional wood stove is approximately 50% and the even radiant heat is absorbed in the far corners of our home. The big bonus is that a we enjoy a fire from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m .in the evening and when we arise in the morning the house is usually a consistent 70F, even with at any outside temperature.   

Our Tulikivi consists of 7,000 pounds of soapstone and is very fire can adjust the warmth of your home in infinite values by controlling the burn times and quantities of wood. And the radiant heat eliminates the stuffy "hot air" of a conventional wood stove and the overheating of a dwelling. Some claim radiant heat provides a healthier climate. I don't know about that but we haven't had a cold or other illness in four years.  

The bake oven is a joy to use. It works like a convection oven and bakes bread and roasts to perfection. We have baked pot roast, chicken, beans, etc... and the result is always better than a conventional oven. And cooking time is much shorter.   The expense of $10,000 to $20,000 was daunting but we decided not to buy a new car and invest in the Tulikivi. It is estimated that they pay for themselves in ten years and then you have a working heirloom for life. What would a car be worth after ten years?   This is not a sales pitch. We do not sell these units. But for someone who likes to cut wood and cook it is the cat's meow.   - Tom in Juneau, Alaska  

Reader Tom M. suggested a great two-hour educational video produced by UCSF: Injuries in the Wilderness.

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Kevin R. sent us this: The secret world of doomsday shelters Blast from the past: Underground home bunkers once again have a small but growing following as a refuge from a host of perceived threats. And most people who have them would prefer that you didn’t know. Kevin notes: "Notice the demographics mentioned on page two, describing who is building these and that most are in the Washington, D.C. area?.  Do our bureaucrats know and anticipate something they aren’t sharing with the rest of us?" 

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F.G. recommended a book excerpt that describes a Christian family's struggle to eat enough to live, under Stalin's reign. God provides!

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I'm pleased to see that has really taken off in recent months. It is a great alternative for folks to find private party gun sellers in their own states.

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For anyone who has lost track, or lost interest: our troops deployed overseas are still dodging bullets. They still need our tangible support and you card and letters with words of encouragement. Please mark you calendar as a reminder to mail a Priority Mail box or two, regularly. Thanks!

"The US is the world’s most indebted nation and is trying to bail itself out by printing money, thus monetizing the debt. The world knows it and many are concerned because of their large holdings of US securities. The printing of money would force up interest rates (long bond rates are already rising), thus putting more strain on the US and global economies. A debt downgrade of US debt could follow, and the looming debt battle in Congress could see a US debt default in the worst case. Any or all of these events could lead to chaotic conditions in the US and a break down in the social, political and economic order." - David Chapman

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As preppers I think we all have the same mindset. If we did not, we would not be returning to SurvivalBlog on a daily basis, or stockpiling all the things we do. I am four months new to the blog and have always been a prepper at heart. With the blog, several things have been brought to my attention that I was lacking in my prepping. As these issues surface, I take immediate action either to correct them right away, or they make my very short "To Do" list.

With that, I bring to your attention the need of some basic climbing equipment and the possibility of a new book to your book shelf, but you will have to read on. I know what you are thinking, “If I’m bugging in. Why would I need any climbing gear?” Whether you are at your retreat or have to G.O.O.D. you need some basic climbing gear. I too plan on bugging in, but I always prep for the inevitable need of having to abandon my retreat. Basic climbing gear can be used to fabricate a comfortable stretcher, make river crossings easier (and more dry), vertical haul lines, a suspension traverse, a Z-pulley, fixed ropes, aid in climbing, rappelling (everyone's favorite), among others. For this article I will cover just the very basics of climbing gear (ropes, carabiners, runners, protection, and harnesses) and cover the above mentioned benefits in later articles. I recommend and would push attending a basic climbing course. There are hands-on things that can be taught far better in a class rather than reading them in a book.


First things first, safety is always a must! Safety is everyone’s responsibility, so always observe the few following safety points with basic climbing gear:
1. Inspect all equipment prior, during, and after use. If any flaws are detected, mark and discard immediately from your climbing gear.
2. Make sure all locking carabiners are locked. If using non-locking carabiners in their stay, make sure their gates are opposite and opposed.
3. Properly wear your climbing harness-double check buckles.
4. Climb within your ability.
5. Before you start any climb, use your best judgment, and do not take any unnecessary risks.
6. Use the buddy system always!
7. Climbing difficulty ratings are subjective.
8. Gravity is a constant!

[JWR Adds: If you fall, kick loose a rock, or drop something, be advised that the acceleration will be 32 feet per second, per second! That means a drop of 16 feet the 1st second, and 64 feet the 2nd second... until terminal velocity is reached!]

These are just a few safety points for the basics as more will follow in additional articles as needed. When obtaining climbing gear, make sure you know its history. If you do not, it’s not worth your life!


There are two types of rope, dynamic and static. Dynamic ropes are designed for climbing by stretching when needed, i.e. falling. The low impact force is one of the factors we are looking for when considering a dynamic rope, lower is better generally speaking. Ropes with low impact force means the climber falls, the rope stretches, and that stop is less abrupt at the end of the fall. Not only is there less stress on the climber during the fall, but less on the belayer, the anchor system, and all the hardware being used. Diameter and length are two additional factors in deciding on which rope to purchase. With these two factors come common uses and yes ounces. Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. The military typically sticks to 11 millimeter diameter ropes. Obviously they will hold up better while lasting longer, but weigh more. Dynamic ropes drop in diameter to 8 millimeter, but at this diameter they are used in pairs, or twin rope systems! Lengths are typically 50 meters (165 ft), 60m (200 ft) or 70m (230 ft). I have an 11mm and a 9.7mm diameter dynamic rope, both 60m. If I am packing it for a few days I use my 9.7; if I am walking directly to my climb and back, it’s the 11. As always, not only does your life depend on your equipment, but that of your climbing buddy does as well!

Static ropes are just that, static. Static ropes can be used for several things ranging from fixed ropes, haul lines, to rappelling. Static lines should never be used in lead climbing. There is no stretch in a static rope and even the smallest of any fall could cause a severe failure in any of the components of the climbing system. Whether that failure is in the rope or right on through to the anchor system, you or your climbing buddy pays the full price! Static ropes come in the same diameters, lengths, and characteristics as dynamic ropes (minus the stretch).

If I was forced to choose between static or dynamic, I would chose dynamic. Dynamic can do everything a static rope can do, though you may have to work with the stretch. Static cannot do all that of dynamic. Certain manufactures color code their ropes in the middle and the end to inform the climber of just that. Others have wide stripes in these areas. Each rope has a fall rating as well. Though no one wants to fall, it happens and the higher the rating the better the rope. Kernmantle ropes are now the only climbing rope approved by the Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA). With the Comitee Europeen de Normalisation (CEN), you want to make sure your rope, as with all your equipment, has met their standards of approval.


Not to be confused with the one on your key chain, carabiners are a tool used in every aspect of climbing. There are numerous styles and shapes. As I stated earlier, I am trying to stick to the very basics. With that, there are just a few I will discuss. I prefer the basic D-shaped non-locking carabiner over the oval shape for a good general purpose carabiner. The D-shape keeps the stress away from the gate (opening) of the carabiner. The gate is where most failures occur. D biners are generally stronger than oval as well. Gates can be wired gates to help reduce the weight. Locking carabiners provide extra security and safety. As long as the gate is locked closed is that safety there. You must always check to make sure the gate is locked. Most locking carabiners now have a visual check, red shows when the gate is unlocked. Locking carabiners are used for rappelling, anchors, and belaying to just name a few. Pear-shaped carabiners are larger at the gate opening to help aid in belaying and rappelling. If you do not have a locking carabiner, you can use two non-locking carabiners in opposite and opposed configuration. You would work the rope through the carabiners and the opened gates should form an X when opened. This prevents the rope or runner from coming out. You can never have too many carabiners. Again, I have to throw safety in here: Make sure the carabiners are climbing rated and not the ones off your key chain.


Runners are loops of tubular webbing or cord that are either sewn or tied together at the ends. Runners come in three basic lengths, single (1.7m), double (2.9m), and triple (4.6m). A good rule of thumb is to have at least six single, three double, and one triple. That is not to say you cannot obtain them in various lengths, you can. Sewn runners can be purchased from two inches to as long as a triple, each size has its place. Additionally you can have varying widths. Sewn are generally stronger than tied. Tied runners can vary in a length to your choosing. Most tied runners are one inch tubular webbing tied with a water knot. As with all knots, a minimum four inch pig tail is a must. Runners are a very useable piece of climbing gear.


I am not going to go in much detail at all here for safety. Protection and anchors should be discussed in a class where you can practice and test your placements. Protections come both natural and removable. Natural protection that you tie into can be that large tree, rock cropping, or multiple shrubs used together. Your imagination is the limit. Only make sure it will hold the stress. Removable protections are stoppers, hexes, tri-cams, and spring loaded cams just to name a few. Pitons are no longer used [by civilian climbers] due to the damage they cause to the rock. But post-TEOTWAWKI, pitons can be hammered into cracks and crevasses to make an anchor point.


Harnesses are no exception to the number of varieties. You have the traditional seat harness that most know about, chest harnesses, and body harnesses. For what we are dealing with, the traditional seat harness will be more than sufficient. Characteristics that you want to look for in a harness are adjustable and padded leg loops. Leg loops that can be unbuckled are nice in getting situated, using the bathroom, and so on. A padded waist belt, along with the leg loops are just added comfort. But if you can be comfortable, why wouldn’t you, you might be there for a while. An off center waist buckle can be nice when you are tying into your harness. Gear loops are a must. All your climbing gear will be either attached to you through your gear loops or on a rack system across your body or usually both. Try a harness on before buying it, if you can.

As I stated before, safety is paramount! My intent was only to touch on the basics with more to follow in additional articles. I highly recommend attending a climbing course. That said, a book you might want to add to your library is, “Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills”. It is a very informative book encompassing everything from clothing to climbing gear to glacier traversing. You will find many of the illustrations from it in the Military Mountaineering Handbook and FM 3-97.61 Military Mountaineering. As always, remember: gravity is a constant!

We live on the western slope of the Sierras about half way between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. We recently experienced the worst snow storm in the last thirty years, with snow depths in excess of 36", massive, wide spread power outages, and closed roads. We had virtually no inconvenience because we have literally have lived being prepared for decades.

Our home is small, about 1,000+ square feet and we have an adjoining cabin of 525 sq/ft., which serves as my office. A few years ago I added an additional 12" of insulation in the ceilings of both units, double glazed windows, and availed ourselves of the PG&E [California power utility company] energy saving policy which allowed us to seal and repair every air leak in both residences and receive a rebate from PG&E for being good, green citizens. In other words, PG&E paid us for doing some common sense thing we were already planning to do, even without the enticement of the rebate. (You gotta love this country!)

My wife is, after 31 years, used to my peculiarities. For example, I have been what is euphemistically called a “survivalist” since the age of 11. We never buy a home on a flood plain. We always check out the USGS maps located in the county planning offices to avoid buying on a known geologic fault line. I consider these things as basic as breathing, and wonder why everyone doesn’t take these simple trouble avoidance steps. Being a survivalist should be, literally, a part of your psychic makeup. It should be part of your very existence.

When we first moved up to the mountains to this property in 2000, we had two separate propane tanks, the larger one (170 gals) for the home, and the smaller one (90 gals) for the cabin. Both were located right next to the wall of the cabin in plain view, and were an eyesore.

The first thing I did was replace the two smaller tanks with one 500 gallon tank and relocate the tank closer to the road, and out of sight behind some trees inside our gate. This relocation not only concealed the tank from view, thus greatly improving the “curb appeal” of the home and cabin, but made it more accessible for propane deliveries. I make it a practice to never let this tank drop below 50% full, as even 250 gallons of propane will last us a few months in the winter.

Both the main house and the cabin have full kitchens and full baths. Both water heaters are propane, as are the stoves, the heaters, and even the dryer. Next I added a propane generator large enough to power the well, the fridges, some lights, the television and the Internet.

When this last storm shut down the entire area for days, literally nothing changed for us except we could not go anywhere until they finally managed to get the roads plowed. We have one four wheel drive vehicle with studded tires and chains for back up if needed, and when snow is in the forecast, we always park it facing out at the end of the driveway and near the road. I hate shoveling snow, and this keeps it to a minimum.

We have two dogs, and in our planning, we extended the decks so that there is ample covered dirt areas for them to do their business when they cannot get into the yard due to the snow depth. These areas are easily accessible from the main house without having to traverse snow of any depth. Because our dogs have short legs (Corgis) this allows them to live comfortably when many other pups are confined to the house. When you plan for emergencies, you have to plan for all your family members, two and four legged.

Of course we had ample food on hand for several months and when the crunch came, I got to enjoy some work free days because while I still had phones and internet, most of my clients did not.

The point is, by advance planning and living our normal lives from a survivalist viewpoint, we have the luxury of maintaining our normal lives even in the extreme situations such as we recently faced.

While I absolutely believe TEOTWAWKI is rapidly approaching, many crises we face between then and now will be somewhat less that TEOTWAWKI, but serious enough in their own right. Growing up on a ranch, my father taught all of us that almost any fool can survive in discomfort. It takes planning and skill to survive in comfort. Now in my sixties, my father’s advice still rules my life, and for this I am eternally grateful.

Good Morning;
My wife and I were once again looking at our list of to-do’s in our quest to prepare. I was looking at the list and noticed she wanted to find a wash tub that we could bathe in. Fortunately we live about one hundred feet from a year round creek and water will not be a issue. I started looking around  the house and my eyes fell on the woodstove and the 2.5 gallon water tank on the side. Now that water gets very warm obviously and I thought ok well that solves the hot water problem. Well, wait a minute. That is only 2.5 gallons out of about 10. Dang! I asked her why we couldn’t use the regular bathtub and she said “What if there is no water and it would be a lot of work to haul water back and forth”. Well that’s reasonable. So as I was taking a shower the next day I looked up and I got my one idea a year. I went out to the trailer that holds all my camping equipment. I grabbed our Solar Shower and filled it up and then placed it by the woodstove. It heated up within an hour to a temperature that was good for showers. I thought to myself that worked well. I then went into the attic space and reinforced the ceiling above the bathtub. I mounted a 4x4 post to the rafters and then placed a large eyehook into the 4x4. The eyehook extends down about 5 inches from the ceiling.  I placed the bag on the hook and it worked great. I bought three 2.5 gallon bag showers and then three 5 gallon bag showers. With those on hand, we will have no problem with bathing now.     Thanks, - David W.

JWR Replies: Solar shower bags are a very good suggestion. FWIW, when I spent some time in a small back-country hunting cabin that had spring-fed running water but that didn't have hot water coils in the stove, I simply put every large pot and kettle on the stove and heated them to near a boil. Then I positioned a large wash bucket (aka "gut bucket") next to the stove. I decided to use it right there rather than back in the bathroom, to minimize the distance that I would be carrying containers of scalding hot water. The air temperature was also more comfortable, close to the stove! By starting with a couple of gallons of cold water in the gut bucket and adding the hot water, I was able to achieve perfect bathtub temperature. A crouching position seemed to work best. (A 60 gallon galvanized stock tank would have been more comfortable, but I was "making do.") After each bath, I used a 25-foot garden hose the siphon the water out the front door, and down hill a short distance. That way I didn't have to bail out the tub and carry any buckets or pans.

I asked my cousin to respond to the Pomona Universal Pectin article. She is the  production manager and head nutritionist at a commercial jam manufacture. Here is what she had to say: “Pomona Universal Pectin is a low methoxyl pectin.  This means that it will gel without the presence of sugar if a salt (monocalcium phosphate) is added at the critical time.  If the salt is added at the wrong time, the resulting products have an "applesauce" type consistency.  The biggest problem with this type of pectin is that it is inconsistent across different fruit and different degrees of ripeness of the fruit.  Since all fruit has natural pectins, those that have more natural pectins will set more firmly and be rubbery, while those with less pectin will be runny.  We use some low methoxyl pectin in our products, but we also add xanthan gum, locust bean gum (all natural, 100% fiber products) to our jam to alleviate these problems.”  Regards, - Robert E.

First, I've used Pomona Universal Pectin for years. Great product. And it's cheaper to buy in quantity, by mail.  It the last couple years the price went up  25+%.   Coming from Europe, I believe, it's sometimes on backorder for weeks at the local coop, right when you need it, in the summer. To make sure it keeps indefinitely I put both parts [pectin and activator powder] in plastic bags, then in mason jars, and then removed the air [and more moisture] with my Vacu-saver. However, do plan on using much more fruit. Regular pectin jam with 7 cups of sugar to 4 cups berries is about 64% sugar. Pomona made jam with it's maximum of 2 cups sugar to 4 cups berries, is 33% sugar.  Much better for you, but you'll get about 1/2 the yield of regular jam. My experience is that jam consumed in about five months is fine with 1.5 cups of sugar; but if you plan on keeping some jars for 6 months or more, then 2 cups sugar keeps the flavor better.  Also the jam, with it's lower sugar content, only keeps for about 3 weeks, once it's opened;  Not months, like the store bought high sugar jams.  So if you live alone, or like to keep several kinds of jam opened all at the same time in the fridge, the pint jars may be too much. Have fun jamming. 

Don't forget long sleeves and pants for protection with the boiling water, despite the heat. Make plenty.   It's the perfect Christmas present for relatives and neighbors "who have everything". - T.H.R.

Mr. Rawles:
I would recommend that your readers get a copy of the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  Many of the breads in the book use a high-quality, half-inch thick baking stone, much like the types used for pizza.  Also shown is a pizza peel. The book has many recipes using many types of grains to make  peasant loaves, rolls, baguettes, flatbreads and pizzas.   

Another suggestion from an outdoor cookbook is to use a large Dutch oven and put small stones or nails in the bottom, then set your baking pan on the stones, and then cover.  This way you create a more controlled heat for your baking pan.   

As for the pot holder issue, many online kitchen supply stores sell high heat gloves and mitts.  I believe Chef Depot has some mitts that will withstand 700 degrees.  Also at this time of year it is easy to find high heat gloves in the Barbeque section of most stores.    Hope this helps. - Yvonne

Another Self Reliance Expo is planned for April 8-9, 2011 National Western Events Complex, in Denver, Colorado. There will be a number of panel discussions and many exhibitors putting on product demonstrations. Topics will include aquaponics,canning and food dehydrating, ham radio, solar ovens, and much more. Admission is $9 at the door or you can get a 20% discount on tickets by registering online (click on the "Admission" tab.) Another Expo will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 7-8.

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Paul Farrell: The 2008 crash isn’t over, only covered up

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File under Z Division: ABC News reports: North Korea Nears Completion of Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb. (Thanks to Larry M. for the link.)

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After some temporary production problems, the WaterBob is again available! These make a great short term water supply for homeowners whenever there are power failures or other potential water supply disruptions expected.

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Jim B. sent this from New Scientist: The Internet is a Tyrant's Friend. Jim B. notes: "I look at the Internet as neutral. We need to be aware that while the Internet can be a Freedom Fighter's best friend, it can also be the Tyrant's best friend as well."

"1. Human societies are problem-solving organizations.
2. Sociopolitical systems require energy for their maintenance.
3. Increased complexity carries with it increased costs per capita.
4. Investment in sociopolitical complexity as a problem-solving response reaches a point of declining marginal returns." - Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Being without electricity in the middle winter is cold. We didn’t have any heat during an ice storm. With that winter in mind, we finally purchased a wood stove for heat and cooking opportunities.

As the wife and mother, I had this horrible image of an old black pot bellied stove belching smoke and catching the roof on fire. I could hear the neighbors complaining about the smell and my kids going to school smelling like they had just burned down the house. Images of black walls and ceilings and truck loads of firewood haunted me with every winter wind. I finally relented after four years of planning and saving.

The first thing in purchasing and planning our wood stove was to check with our local city government to make sure there were no permits or codes that had to be met.
The second thing was many years of research on the internet and attending trade shows.
The third step was saving what money we could spare and finding a stove that would fit into our allotted room space and budget.
We finally purchased a stand alone Lopi cast iron wood stove.
This Lopi stove is 79% efficient, burning the smoke before it leaves the stove. Thus no complaining neighbors or smoke smell in our home. When loaded with wood it can burn up to eight hours and warm a 1000 square foot home. It is lined with firebricks and will hold heat after the wood has burned. We did purchase the optional electric fan, but the stove will warm up the house without the fan running.

For the mother in me, it does not smell up the house, it is clean burning, sealed, and with the clearances recommended by the manufacturer, and following the installation instructions, we hope it won’t burn down our house. (For my further comfort I made the men of our house pull all the insulation away from the chimney in the attic.)
For the wife in me, it is stylish and functional. It looks great in the corner. The stove is matte black with matte black accessories. It does have a glass window.
For new chimney installers I would recommend the double walled chimney. This allows you to set your stove closer to the wall and also gives the wife and mother a larger piece of mind.
We purchased our chimney with our stove and the owner of the business talked us through the entire installation. Each box of the chimney, and there were six, had its’ own instructions. The telescoping inside black pipe was the best and most expensive part of the chimney. This pipe allows you to place your stove in your room and not have to cut, fold or bend the inside pipe to the correct length. It telescopes up to a box collar on your ceiling and then the attic part attaches to that box. Or, you don’t have to be exactly precise when measuring how much inside pipe you need. The brand we purchased was Metal-Fab. The inside telescoping pipe is black and very stylish with the stove.
My son and husband were able to install the chimney and stove in one day.  They did have to find more sheet metal screws.
This stove does allow you to cook on the top.

Cooking on a Woodstove

After learning how to light and burn the wood in the stove, I decided it was time to learn how to cook on the stove. I was amazed at how small the top of the stove was compared to the look of the stove. My cast iron skillet was too big for any area on the top of stove. I had to purchase a smaller skillet and lid. You do want to use a lid as you don’t want any grease or food build up on your stove.

We found that purchasing a small, inexpensive, oven temperature gage helped in knowing when the stove was hot enough to cook on and with a cast iron skillet, we can start cooking around 200 degrees. It is very warm standing in front of the stove while cooking, but you must have a very hot fire to cook. I have cooked many meals on this stove for practice. This practice has led us to some new and different realities of food storage and preparation.

We have found that we use more oils, and starch foods such as potatoes, corn and beans. Having pre-canned cooked foods such a vegetables and meat shortens the cooking time. We will probably eat more popcorn than we are used to. Coffee should be started as soon as you start cooking a meal.  Smaller but deeper skillets and Dutch ovens work better and stay hot longer. Baking on the inside of the stove takes time and patience. Using breads with the least amount of moistures helps in complete baking. Cast iron cookware will burn off its season when left on the inside of the stove too long and cast iron is the only pan to use when cooking on the inside. Cast iron will also continue to cook after you pull it out of the stove.  Metal bread pans will warp and can get a burn hole in them. (Only experience on my part.) We can not use our canner on this stove. We have no way of heat control and not enough space. (Nor would I want a wood fire in our home in the summer.) We will be building an outdoor fire pit for summer cooking and canning.

After having a melt down in knowing we had wheat stored, had purchased a grain grinder and then not being able to make bread in the new stove, I finally found a way to bake. A Dutch oven with lid and low burning coals is the only way this stove will bake bread. If your Dutch oven is seasoned well, don’t grease the Dutch oven. Greasing the Dutch oven will cause the bread to burn on the outside of the bread.  Don’t expect a loaf of bread to come out of this kind of stove looking like it came out of an electric oven.

Things we would have done differently:
1. Saved more money and bought a larger stove, we need a larger cooking surface. Think about the kitchen stove you have now, four burners, you use the oven and the microwave when cooking a meal. Think about no electricity, you now have maybe two spots to cook with. A larger stove would have allowed us to have more room to cook, to use larger firewood and have a longer burn at night.
2. Installed the stove on an inside wall. Inside wall installation makes for better heating. You are not heating up an outside wall. We could have used less wall protection in the way of ceramic tile.
3. If money would have allowed, we would have bought a real wood cook stove and installed it in our kitchen with a water heater attached.
4. Built a higher platform for the stove so we don’t have to get on our knees to clean and load the stove.

Our stove was our most expensive prepraedness purchase. I am thankful that I have time to learn to cook and heat with this stove.  We have “survival night” once a week and only cook with this wood stove. It brings up a lot of different scenarios that we thought we had taken care of. We need another hand can opener. We also need a moveable table near the stove when cooking and much thicker potholders. We need more first-aid items for burns. We need to purchase more and longer metal spatulas and spoons. We also need to stock up more pre-cooked items when we home can during the summer and we need truckloads of firewood.

Mr. Rawles;  

My family lives in southeast Minnesota.  We are fortunate to have a Lakeside Foods processing plant and distribution center nerby in Plainview , Minnesota.  Lakeside Foods is a private label food processor.  Its Plainview operation is quite diversified.

Their operation at Plainview has an interesting program for people looking to stock-up and save money on vegetables.  It has an outlet store that sells damaged cans of vegetables inexpensively.  These cans range in size from family size to one gallon.   For example, a case of 24 cans of corn, in family sized cans, sells for $6 and peas sells for $5.  Another example, a case of six, one gallon, cans of corn is $8 and peas $7.  We recently purchased 240 family-size cans of creamed corn, peas, French-styled beans, sweet corn, peas & carrots and mixed vegetables for $52.  

I have observed three types of damage to the cans.  These are 1) dents, 2) removed labeling and 3) surface rust.  Since my family began purchasing vegetables from Lakeview Foods, this damage has never resulted in spoiled food.  In my opinion, the canned vegetables are of the highest quality.  

Here are a few things customers need to know about this outlet store.  This outlet store is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM at the 900 Warehouse building.  It is a cash and carry operation.  Small bills seem to be appreciated.  Lakeside Foods will loan you a dolly.  The availability of vegetables varies.  The outlet store will temporarily close after March 17th and will open again in May.  

Lakeside Foods has 14 facilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  It is unclear to me if any of these operations have an outlet store, as well.  With My Regards, - Minnesota Bill

Mr. Rawles,

I recently discovered Pomonas Universal Pectin, for home canning. It stores indefinitely. It's also very versatile: it makes regular, low-, or no-sugar jams, jellies, fruit spreads, gelatins, freezer jams, etc. (The other pectins I researched have about a 1-year shelf-life. It will work with sugar, artificial sugar, honey, stevia, or fruit juice as a sweetener. It will also gel things that don't have any natural pectin, to make things like hot pepper jelly.

Their web site is It's also available on Amazon. I'm not affiliated with them in any way. - Texas Sunflower

John R. sent this from Peter Schiff: A Little Understanding Goes a Long Way

Billionaire Carl Icahn returns $1.76 Billion to investors. The article begins: "On the eve of the bull market's second anniversary, billionaire investor Carl Icahn had an unsettling message for his investors: Take your money back. Icahn told investors in his hedge funds that he didn't want to be responsible to them for "another possible market crisis..." (Out thanks to "Air Force Dad" for sending the link.)

Kevin S. suggested this from over at Sovereign Man: The market is telling us that the dollar is finished

Items from The Economatrix:

More Record Prices In Gold, Silver And Oil Ahead  

Silver Outweighs Gold  

Inflation And The Value Of Gold Explained  

Gallup Reports Underemployment Surges to 19.9%, February "Jobs Situation Deteriorates" 

You Call This An Economic Recovery?  

Please pray for the people of the fledgling nation of South Sudan. Following a well-monitored landslide vote, the south (primarily populated by Christians and pagan animists) is seceding from the predominantly Muslim northern half of the country. Independence Day is scheduled for July 9, 2011. May God grant them peace and liberty. I am hopeful that an international group will be formed to help direct aid to the new nation, and to help arm its citizenry so that they can defend themselves from Muslim aggression. (The recent genocide in the adjoining Darfur region is still fresh in our minds.)

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Reader Rick M. sent this little gem: Intruder Calls 911, Afraid Homeowner May Have Gun

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Brian G. sent us this: Scientists warn of 'dangerous over-reliance' on GPS

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Speaking of GPS, Bert K. forwarded this: GPS chaos: How a $30 box can jam your life.

"God doesn't call the prepared; He prepares the called." - Linda Seaman  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 33 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’ve been a daily visitor to SurvivalBlog for nearly three years now.  I really can’t believe it has been that long since that desperate day when anxiety from losing my job took over and compelled me to search for survival information on the Internet.   You see, I was a 20 year mortgage originator.  Not only had I lost my job when my company folded, it was clear to me that I and millions of others had lost any ability to make a living in that crumbling industry.  The music stopped while I was chasing the dollars and it was game over.  At first, I was sneaking around learning how to store water and food.  Next, a budding interest in gardening blossomed into a permaculture addiction.  And all the while, I was reading and becoming acutely aware of how fragile the whole system is and how we had been lulled into such a vulnerable state. By now my self-sufficiency agenda was becoming clear to my husband and although well employed, he too feared the house of cards could collapse and take with it the dollar. Collecting that fiat paper had been all we knew to do to prepare for the future or an emergency.  We were out of the closet with each other and now prepping together instead of worrying and toiling alone.  Together we took the plunge into guns and target practice, skill learning and resource gathering.  Each step helped relieve some of the uncontrolled anxiety we were feeling and prayer still works on the rest.

My husband and I are in our late forties and this is a second marriage for both of us.  Between us we have six young adult children, two are married and there is one grandchild.  None of the children live with us and never have, since we were married only a short four years ago.  Aside from supporting the youngest who is in her last year of college, they are all employed, living on their own and generally great  kids.  Unfortunately, none of them seem to take this preparedness stuff too seriously.  They listen and even engage in conversation, but no real action.  They are busy living their life the way we taught them and they don’t seem to have time to be concerned.  In a way, I am envious of them. We both raised our children as Christians, in the suburbs, playing every sport available etc.  Suburbanites…. Now we have learned things we would like to introduce to our grown children and the teachable moments are few and far between.  So we try to prepare for everyone.  This is where things get difficult!

While all six children would be welcomed to our retreat with open arms, there are others that come along with them.  While only two are currently married, the others are involved in some lengthy relationships that may result in more in-laws. I am an optimist, a peace maker and a diplomatic person.  I believe that the significant others of our children would all add value to our group and be able to contribute something. My husband may disagree about the potential contributions of some but he is in complete agreement about their inclusion in the group.  This may seem an obvious conclusion to some, but I firmly believe these decisions need to be discussed in the open before a crisis to avoid any last minute disagreements. My nightmare begins when I consider the other familial bonds.  In particular, we have one daughter-in-law (official and also the mother of our only grandchild) who is dysfunctionally close to her dysfunctional family. These people are living breathing examples of everything wrong with our country.  While I believe them to be generally decent hearted people, they are card carrying members of The Ugly American Association.  Picture politically apathetic, fast food eating, video game playing (males), shopping mall wandering (both), Coach purse carrying (females), no life insurance or savings holding (neither), job hopping, baby-making, non-breast feeding, obese, insulin dependent, American Idol and Bachelor watching, gun loathing, lethargic and of no notable talent, skill set or physical ability group of five adults and currently four children.  Our son, who married into this tribe is their rock and his wife would never leave her family.  Of course, none of them will have prepared for even the most minor emergency, never mind the big Schumer.  They will be in need and our son who refuses to be alarmed will be unprepared. 

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but sitting in a room for a few hours with this group of people for birthday gatherings, ballet recitals and such is almost more than my husband and I can bear.  So it becomes obvious that there is no way we could accommodate this group at our retreat when the SHTF.   I have to assume that our son, his wife and our granddaughter will not bug out to our place without the rest of that clan.  They all live in two houses and spend most of their waking hours together.  We will have to make it very clear who is included on the retreat guest list. While it is difficult to accept, we will most likely not be joined by our oldest son, his wife and our only grandchild. After acceptance of our retreat limitations, our son’s leadership role in his wife’s family and refusal to prepare; we have embarked on Plan B to attempt to assist him with this daunting responsibility that he doesn’t even know he owns.

In addition to Plan A -the ongoing retreat preparations for the remainder of our family, we have compiled the following list of actions to help light the way for our son and his adopted clan.

  1. Present maps showing different routes to the retreat and explain that he, wife and daughter are of course on the guest list…but it’s invitation only and limited resources and space availability. OPSEC explained.
  2. Create a basic bug out bag for him (highlighting the importance for the safety of his baby girl) and suggest he has the others follow suit. We will highlight their need to include maps to wherever they intend to bug out.
  3. Attempt to get him to the shooting range. We have tried this twice and failed…we will continue to reach out to him.
  4. We will give the gift of "Patriots" the next gift giving season.
  5. We will share fresh fruits and vegetables from our garden to attempt to develop an interest in nutrition and sustainable gardening. We do this, but usually at our home- This time we will deliver.
  6. We will deliver storage food as well.
  7. We will ask him to tag along when we purchase a generator in the next few months. 
  8. We will play Wii with him to express interest in something he likes and hoping for reciprocity. (Think shooting range)
  9. We will stop spamming him with articles and blogs that he never reads and doesn’t seem to appreciate.

Instead we will make a notebook of useful information available during an emergency.

  1. We will pick up our granddaughter at least twice a month and attempt to foster a love of knitting, cooking, gardening and general love of outdoors activities.  No television!
  2. We will love them and accept that they are God’s children and know that we have done everything within our means. Pray.

We must consider the possibility that our wishes will not be respected with regard to our son’s in-laws.  When the SHTF I can imagine he may be unable to behave “cold-heartedly” enough to leave them behind.  I can see him asking us “What was I supposed to do, leave them there to die?”  Of course the answer is “You were supposed to tell them to prepare.”  However, a single “I told you so” is enough.  In the event we are faced with this circumstance, we will have extra rations and gear to temporarily help.  We can be charitable, but we cannot be responsible. Since most of these adults are dependent on insulin or high blood pressure medication etc, I assume they will need to move on rather quickly to a location where meds might be available.  We currently have no need to attempt stockpiling those types of medications.

While our other children may present similar challenges, at this time there is none so apparent as the above mentioned.  I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent evaluating our options.  It is heartbreaking to think of our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter being somewhere else during a collapse. There just isn’t any other alternative without compromising the safety and security of the rest of our family. I will continue to pray for my son to prepare and for the flock to follow suit. Take inventory of your people and their connections.  Make decisions now while you are calm of mind because in a crisis situation you may not have the capacity to make a rational decision.  Know who you can count on and let others know to what degree they can count on you. Survival plans should not be vague nor should they leave room for misunderstandings.

JWR Adds: I've found that the best way to keep kids and visiting relatives from wasting their time watching television is to not own one.

We were planning to release the SurvivalBlog 2005-2010 Archives CD in late January but this was seriously delayed. Unfortunately, the production team at Cafe Press inadvertently produced blank CD-ROMs and mailed them them to the 27 beta testers. It took more than three weeks and countless phone calls for Cafe Press to admit their mistake and to issue refunds. We are now in the process of starting another beta test, using a different company for production order and fulfillment, The production version (v.1.0) should be ready for ordering by late March. Many thanks for your patience! (In the meantime, the Kindle archive for 2005-2010 is available for $9, via the store.)

Howdy Mr. Rawles;
I live up on the south coast of Oregon, I live close to adjoining Del Norte County, California.

These areas are very low in population density, lot's of good fresh water, good fishing and hunting, lot's of agricultural land good grazing land and a decent climate/ (There are few freezes, no snow, and very little ice.)

Del Norte is a little better than southern Oregon because there is more farm and grazing land and it's far far away from large  cities, railroads and major freeways and a slightly better climate. But on the down side, it's still in California! The south Oregon coast is even more isolated than Del Norte. The one major road to it is narrow and prone to landslides to the north. The road to the Rogue valley is narrow, twisting, long and also prone to slides. Because of this, the south Oregon coast will be easy to keep isolated as there are few bridges over the rivers and they can be easily blocked as can that road from the Rogue Valley.

One thing you forgot to remember is that WTSHTF, oil [and all oil-derived products] will be scarce or unavailable! You cannot depend upon a internal combustion engine to be reliable transportation.You will need to settle in a area that's not up on top of some hill, too exposed, too far from town, no agricultural land or grazing, worse climate. A little elevation on a south slope is desirable if there is good agricultural land nearby.

You may end up on "shank's mare" or a bicycle for transportation.

Go to Google Earth to get a close look at these areas and see for yourself.

For light, I would not depend upon a battery flashlight, a shake or crank flashlight, lamp and radio would be far better. Know how to make fire without matches!

Don't depend only on a rifle to get game, learn to make traps, snares and "primitive" weapons like bows, arrows and spears. The are also much quieter. Learn to knap stone and to heat treat the right kind of stone to make it easier to knap.

Ammo will be limited or even unavailable WTSHTF!

The book Survival Skills of Native California is a good one to acquire. There is lots to learn there on how to live off the land from north to south.

There is much to learn and too little time left to learn it, the sooner you start the better. - Sheila from the South Coast of Oregon


I have read and enjoyed both your books. I have told all my like minded friends about them.

Regarding LED flashlight batteries: I have a flashlight from Sportsman's Guide that uses two of the CR123 batteries, it will also use the #18650 lithium ion battery. One of these takes the place of two of the CR123 batteries, and last much longer, and is rechargeable. The charger can use either 120 VAC or 12 VDC input voltages. I have a system set up that uses the Harbor Freight 45 watt solar panels. I bought mine on sale for $149 and use them to charge a NAPA-branded Booster PAC ["aka "jump pack"]. I can then use the booster pack to power my Accu-Manager battery charger or to power my Yaesu 2800 ham radio. The booster box has a 12 VDC outlet on it.

Keep your powder dry, - C.K.M.

JWR Replies: Keep in mind that there are now rechargeable Li-Ion CR-123 batteries available. Previously, I was only able to find inefficient 120 VAC-sourced chargers available for these batteries, but now DC-to-DC chargers are available.

Depending upon your vehicle, even a small sedan can have a tow hitch installed. If the need arises all you have to do is hitch up a trailer and go.  Think of it as the ultimate grab and go bag, on wheels.  

Granted, depending upon resources and vehicles one can expand upon this any number of ways.  Our solution has been to remodel a horse trailer to hold an extensive amount of preps, provide for sleeping space if needed, propane cooking, lighting and heating capabilities, bench storage and fold down tables, etc.  The fact that it appears to be an older used horse trailer helps with OPSEC and living in a rural area it doesn’t arouse any suspicions. It’s totally locked and sealed and one cannot see inside since we have modified the windows with dark smoked panels.  It’s insulated, paneled, carpeted, wired for 12 volts DC (VDC), solar powered, stocked and ready to go.  

This eliminates the need for us to worry about what to pack.  We can hook up the trailer and be off in under five minutes.  It’s also a good way to carry extra fuel, propane tanks etc, without being obvious or having to use all the interior space in my SUV for such things.  I still carry two small backpacks of gear in the SUV along with a larger 72 hour kit, but the trailer is setup for an extended G.O.O.D. scenario.  

In addition I have remodeled a Class A motor home that runs on 110 VAC, 12 VDC, photovoltaic system, wood cook stove (backup) and a generator and is kept fully fueled and ready to roll.  It holds 90 gallons of water, with built in ceramic filters and has about three months worth  of food stored onboard. With a 90 gallon fuel tank it has a range of approximately 800 miles depending upon terrain and conditions, without refueling.  The motor home provides all the amenities of home without compromising on comfort or facilities.  

Our retreat from our current location is just over 600 miles on a route of remote, rural highways with little traffic during normal conditions.  We currently live in the motor home and am slowly migrating closer to the retreat location and within the next year will be living there full time.  In the meantime I keep my eyes and ears busy keeping abreast of societal conditions that might warrant a quick move.  

For the time being we rent private, rural spaces to park the motor home away from cities and towns (hence the slow migration, they aren’t always easy to find).  I am privileged in the fact that I work from home, running an internet hosting and email service that provides a good income, allowing me to work anywhere I have good cell reception for tech support phone and cellular modem.  

My spouse and I are very aware of the fragility of our current society and maintain a constant readiness.  We can uproot and be off in under five minutes in an emergency, 30 minutes if we bothered to add the container garden to our travels.  With the two of us driving we have the SUV, motor home and the horse trailer which can be towed by either vehicle.  This level of mobility gives us the ability to leave at any time day or night and not be dependent upon the availability of fuel stations or any other resources that would slow us down.  The SUV is kept always at least ¾ of a tank and the horse trailer holds 30 gallons of fuel stored, giving us an 800 mile range for the entire caravan.  

Just a thought for those of you who might consider an alternate option for bugging out. - T.B.

You will have soon received a flat rate Priority Mail box containing $150 in nickels (inside a thick cardboard reinforcement liner) that I sent you. I sent you those coins for two reasons:

One: I should have been a [voluntary] Ten Cent Challenge subscriber, starting from back when I began reading SurvivalBlog in 2008. The nickels cover not only the past three years, but also pre-pay my subscription for the next year, too.

Two: Last week my local bank finally cut me off (and other bank patrons, too), from buying more than one roll [of nickels] at a time. You were right: "The window of opportunity is closing." In the summer of 2008, shortly after I started reading your blog and your novel, I started buying $40 in nickels (rolled) every time I went to the bank. I work just two blocks from the bank, so it was real easy to do on my lunch hour. The tellers must have thought that I'm in the vending machine business. Now, about 200-odd trips to the bank later, I now have accumulated more than $8K face [value] in nickels. So that one small box of nickels (soon to arrive) is just my small way of saying "thanks" for the heads-up on nickels.

They are all now in ammo cans (following your advice), forming a very imposing wall in my "Hidey Room" that my wife teases me about. I also have about 30 cans of ammunition--assorted calibers, lined up on the opposite wall in there. She says that both [the nickels and the ammunition] will give us protection not just from the soon-coming hyperinflation, but also incoming small arms fire and gamma ray radiation! That stack of 42 ammo cans (holding $188 face [value of nickels] in each can) is so darn heavy that I only feel safe with it on a [concrete] slab floor. I estimate that it weighs about 1.5 tons! Without the advance warning on coming events that you provided, there is no way that I would have "beat the rush" on nickels.

I was born much too late (1966) to get any silver coins at face value. But thanks to you, I've been getting nickels with a built-in 40% return, but costing me just face value!

OBTW, I have no doubt that there will be a "by the bag" bullion market for nickels within a couple of years, regardless of any change in the current "no melting" law. People recognize true value, and they always price it, accordingly. Just like you, I'm amazed at the rapid and fluid reaction of a free market.

With My Thanks, - Karl H. (A Comfortable 70 Miles From Green Bay)

Here are the current top-most items on my perpetual bedside pile:

  • I recently watched a series of DVDs produced by The West Ladies. These amazing ladies have a great wealth of practical knowledge. They really know what works for self-sufficiency. I watched Homestead Blessings: The Art of Gardening and Homestead Blessings: The Art of Herbs. I have another titled Homestead Blessings: The Art of Canningthat I still need to watch. (There are many others in their DVD series.) From the outset, I was impressed by the years of collected knowledge and wisdom that these DVDs impart. I was also impressed by the genteel dress and bearing of the West Ladies. They were natural, down to Earth with their easy to understand presentations of gardening methods and Herbal gardening and uses. They wore beautiful skirts and blouses that I'm sure they made themselves. The videos themselves were full of bright colors displaying their beautiful home and gardens. In my opinion, these videos are geared more toward a female audience. The young women in our household were very excited about the herbal video. They soon mixed up some of the teas that were presented. The West Ladies are excellent role models for up-and-coming young ladies. I highly recommend their DVDs.

  • I just received a review copy of the near-future novel "American Apocalypse: The Collapse Begins", written under the pen name "Nova". The novel is an outgrowth of a series of posts on the Calculated Risk blog--a blog which you've surely seen linked from SurvivalBlog. It is published by Ulysses Press--one of Jim's three publishers. My initial quick skim of the book shows that it has some foul language, so this is definitely not one for the kids. I'll post a review after I've read it.

  • I really love reading Enola Gay's Paratus Familia blog. I read it regularly. I've been very interested in following Maid Elizabeth's progress in preparing to become a midwife. I'm very impressed with the skills she has learned. It was fascinating reading her recent description of her foray into phlebotomy: her own father consented to be her Guinea Pig. The level of medical planning and acquisition of instruments, bandages and medicines that her family has accomplished is admirable. If you need some help in getting started in stocking up on medical supplies, then check out Enola Gay's blog posts.

Fred the Valmetmeister sent this fun video clip: Live Fire With a [Replica] Civil War Cannon. You gotta love the cannon ball lodged the tree trunk...

   o o o

Joe G. spotted this at The American Rifleman's web page: The M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle The changing nature of the war in Afghanistan led to the re-issue of the 7.62x51 mm NATO M14 rifle.

   o o o

Richard S. recommended this piece from Canada: Lorne Gunter: Opposing self-defence means opposing democracy itself

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I noticed that Amazon recently dropped their price on "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" to just $8.16. (That is 45% off the cover price, and their lowest price ever.) Meanwhile, the Kindle edition was reduced to just $7.75. Oh, and speaking of "Patriots", the folks at the Target Rich Environment blog posted a favorable review.

"After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as h*ll wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military." - William S. Burroughs

Monday, March 7, 2011

Today we present the first column from SurvivalBlog's new Field Gear Editor, Pat Cascio. Many of you will recognize his name from the various gun and knife magazines where he has written for more than 18 years. He has written for monthly issues of American Survival Guide, Handguns, Gun World, American Handgunner, as well as for annuals produced by Guns, American Handgunner, and Guns & Ammo.

Pat has also tested thousands of knives, both for knife magazines (like Knives Illustrated) and for his own use. He has also designed several knives that are currently being produced. He spent more than 35 years actively in the martial arts, and holds Black Belt rank in five different martial arts, with a 6th Degree Black Belt in one art. He also spent three years working for the late, and legendary Colonel Rex Applegate, who taught him a lot about knife fighting and knife design.

Pat summarizes his product reviewing philosophy: "I don't pull any punches in my Test and Evaluation, and if a gun or knife isn't up to my expectations - you simply won't be reading about it. I don't waste my time writing about junk guns or knives or any tools, for that matter.   I plan to write gun and knife articles for SurvivalBlog on a fairly regular basis. If you have any questions, please e-mail me, and I'll do my best to answer them for you, if I have an answer. Please don't send questions about what is the best gun, or best caliber to use for self-defense, since there is no "best". It all comes down to shot placement. People have been stopped dead in their tracks with a lowly .22 LR, and others have stood after taking several hits for a .44 Magnum. So, there is no magic bullet or perfect gun. Any gun or caliber is a compromise."

The handgun under review in this article is, the Ruger SR 40. The SR40 is the bigger brother to the 9mm Parabellum Ruger SR9. I jumped on the SR9 when it came out, as did many other gun writers. However, the new SR9 wasn't without some birthing pains. The trigger pull was very gritty, and there were some reports of the SR9 firing if dropped. Ruger is quick to acknowledge when there is a problem, and they quickly sent out a recall for the first run of SR9s. Most owners got their guns back within a couple weeks - with a free magazine for their troubles.  

The Ruger SR40 is chambered in, .40 S&W, just in case the model of the gun didn't give it away. What we have in the SR40 is a glass-filled polymer-type frame, with a stainless steel slide, weighing in a slightly over 27-oz, with the 4.14" barrel. This is a full-sized duty gun, to be sure. However, I'm sure Ruger will eventually chop the SR40 down, as they did with the SR9, and make a more compact version for easier concealed carry. The SR40 can be had with either a brushed stainless finished slide, or a stainless slide that has a Nitridox Pro Black coating.  Three-dot, fully adjustable sights are standard, and they are extremely rugged. There is also an ambidextrous ("ambi") safety and ambi magazine release. I like both features. As with many handguns being made today, there is a Picatinny-style rail on the frame of the gun for mounting a laser or light - good idea!  

Okay, enough on the boring features of the gun - if you want to read more, go to Ruger's web site for further information. I'll admit, I'm a fan of the .40 S&W caliber - in some guns. In the SR40, it makes sense - as I can see law enforcement departments taking a close look at this gun for duty issue. Make no mistake, Ruger doesn't make "artsy" type handguns in my humble opinion. Nope, they produce meat and potato handguns - meant for the working Joe!   I'm a fan of Glock handguns - at least most of them. I like the short trigger pull, and the high magazine capacities on many of the Glocks. However, the one Glock I don't care for is their Model 27 - that is their sub-compact .40 S&W pistol, that holds 9+1 rounds. I just find the Glock 27 harder to shoot than it should be - it torques in the hand, and shot-to-shot recovery is slower than on many other .40 S&W handguns. I'll say, that to date, I believe the new Ruger SR40 is the softest shooting .40 S&W on the market in my humble opinion. Recovery time from shot-to-shot is very fast, and the thing is super accurate, too. With 15+1 rounds on-hand, I find it comforting, to say the least. The SR40 is only slightly, ever so slightly bigger than the Glock 23, which is also a .40 S&W chambered handgun, that holds 13+ rounds.  

Now, as most SurvivalBlog readers know, when we talk about "survival" we are talking about what you might have to survive, at any given time. It may be a close encounter on the mean streets of America. It could be surviving a home invasion. Or, it could mean survival on the battlefield, or when the SHTF. I think the Ruger SR40 can fit into any of these survival situations. I find I can easily conceal the SR40 in a Blackhawk Products ballistic nylon holster underneath a loose-fitting shirt or other cover garment. Ruger has a list of factory holsters that will fit their handguns, on their web site. (BTW, I wish more gun companies would do this when they come out with new model handguns. It's always been a hassle in the past, to find a holster that will fit newly introduced handguns - many times, it's trial and error. Ruger takes the guesswork out of it, by listing holster makers that make holsters for their newly introduced handguns. Why more gun companies aren't doing this is a mystery to me. ) 

Ruger really did a good job on the trigger pull on the SR40. It is very short and crisp. Like the Glock, Ruger has installed a safety lever inside the trigger itself. Additionally, you have the already mentioned ambi thumb safety, as well as an internal passive safety, and on the top of the slide is a neat little indicator that pops-up when there is a round in the chamber - it can be seen as well as felt (in the dark) so you know if you have a round in the chamber. Reset on the trigger is very short, which made for some fast and accurate shooting with the SR40. Resting the SR40 over a sleeping bag on the hood of my car, I was able to keep most of my shots within 3" at 25-yrds.   I tested a vari