June 2011 Archives

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 a newcomer to the survivalist game (and by newcomer, I mean that I haven’t planned for anything bad to happen in the future except for my daughter reaching dating age), I thought it would be interesting to detail how I came to be reading this web site at this point in my life and the steps I have taken so far as a “virgin” survivalist.
I became interested in it recently due to several factors. The first is I have always found literature regarding end of the world scenarios to be fascinating.  I have read everything from On the Beach to The Last Ship to science fiction stories about the end of times such as the Daybreak series. Second, while I am not politically active, I am politically observant, and there are telling signs in the global economy and in politics within the United States that are quite troubling.  The third, and perhaps most important, is that I am a planner and worrier by nature (both at home, and as my job) and I found myself thinking of various scenarios that could happen.  I then realized that, while many bad things could happen, I (and my family) was really prepared for none of it. Starting out I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know.
The final straw was my impending 40th birthday and the slight mid-life crisis I was experiencing.  As I don’t like fast cars and still like my wife (which rules out a girlfriend), I was in search of a hobby to occupy my time, and seeing the intersection of the necessity of survival preparation and my interest in scenarios for TEOTWAWKI I decided it was the perfect match.
My first baby steps towards worst case scenario planning involved reading.  As a voracious reader, I found SurvivalBlog.com, and have ordered numerous books on the subject.  After having read the books, I then performed a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis.  As recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog, it is a method to analyze a certain subject (in this case my ability to survive given scenarios) to understand where you are at internally (strengths and weaknesses) and to predict what might happen externally (threats and opportunities).
My SWOT analysis for strengths was somewhat limited, as might be expected.  I listed overall health (I exercise 5 or 6 days / week, doing both cardio and weights), general intelligence (I have an engineering degree), available resources (while not rich I have a pretty good job and some disposable income) and childhood (I grew up on a farm, hunting, fishing and being outside).
My weakness list was obviously very long.  While I consider myself pretty healthy, I have an eye disease requiring the use of custom made hard contacts, as well as asthma.  I had no specific survival skills, no weapons, no tools, no medical training and no contingency plans.  One of my biggest weaknesses (as I saw it) was a general lack of useful knowledge on how to survive when the balloon goes up.  I mean, I can buy lots of stuff, but all that stuff can be taken away by somebody who is bigger / faster / better armed than me.  If I have a desirable skill then I would be “marketable” as they say in today’s world.
One of main opportunities I listed my older brother.  A “prepper” himself, he is a licensed gun dealer and owns a small business selling survivalist equipment.  Many of the items I would need he can obtain for wholesale pricing, and he is willing to sell them to me without any mark up.  Another opportunity that I saw was that my asthma was well under control, allowing me to take my medicine on alternate days and thus allowing me to create some safety stock.
For threats, I listed my proximity to a major city (I live about 40 miles from downtown Detroit), and my travel schedule (I am on the road for work about one week / month, and overseas twice / year).
I established a priority list as follows based on my current finances and knowledge.  I have decided first to concentrate on short term situations (natural disasters, terrorist attacks), and then once my short term needs are settled then begin planning for some longer term potentials (it didn’t make much sense to me to buy a grain mill when I didn’t have any food socked away in the first place to eat while waiting for my wheat to grow).  The list is as follows:

  • Survivalist resources (books)
  • Water purification
  • Medicine / contact lenses
  • Fire starting tools
  • First Aid kid
  • Food (short term/backpacking)
  • Miscellaneous tools (knives, compass, rain gear, etc)
  • Weapons / ammo
  • Food storage / preparation
  • Power generation / storage
  • Silver

To date I have purchased supplies for two different methods of water purification (tablets and filter straws) and three methods of starting fires.  Thanks to my wife’s obsession with buying bottled water (and then drinking diet coke instead) I have about 30 gallons of bottled water available as well (don’t ask, I don’t understand it either).  I have purchased supplies to start my own (somewhat limited) first aid kit. As mentioned I have begun alternating the days on which I take my medicine and have ordered extra contacts for an emergency reserve.  I have started bug out bags for me and my family, with various items (in addition to the ones above), and also including a hatchet, knife, cable saw, Gerber multi-tool, rope, energy bars, compass, fishing line, emergency blanket, and spare clothes) and stored 10 gallons of gasoline. (This is a trifling quantity, but the extra 150 miles could get me some places that other people might not make it to.
The next steps for me (in the next three months) are to begin the research and purchase of weapons and food storage / water filtration, and to begin categorizing the supplies and budget I will need for longer term situations.  Based on the research on have seen so far I am planning on purchasing a Remington 870, a Ruger 10/22 (the rimfire rifle from my youth), and some type of pistol (I have not yet determined the type yet.)  To help with my research I have scheduled firing sessions with my brother, where I will test an AR-15, a .308 battle rifle, and various pistols.   If I have additional money available I will later go big for some type of assault weapon.
I also want to do some research into the area I am in (while somewhat close to Detroit, I am surrounded by lakes and farmlands) to determine if I should plan on staying in my current house, or if I should head somewhere else if the stuff hits the fan.  I will also get a minimum of 30 days of food on hand for my family and me.
In the long term (six months to a year) my main goal is to become better prepared for long term survival situations.  This will require upgrading my house or finding a suitable bug out location, obtaining more “bean, bullets and band-aids” and developing a skill that would be essential in a post-apocalyptic scenario. I am smart enough to realize that I don’t everything that I will need to know or to own everything I will need to own to survive if something major happens.  Therefore the best chance for me and my family is to somehow be taken on by a more organized group by having a skill that would be desirable.  After some research the main thing I am considering is blacksmithing (every book I read mentions the need for these) and at 225 pounds I am probably big enough to do it.
My biggest open question is what to do with my pop up camper. While at first the idea of using a pop up camper in the event of an emergency seems ludicrous (and maybe it is), if I do have to bug out I will likely (hopefully) be driving, and if I am driving why would I not take a self contained, waterproof, heated tent, which allows me to carry more gear farther (including mounts for bicycles)?  It has the added advantage in that I already keep all of my essential supplies locked in the camper, so theoretically we can hook up and be on the road in a matter of minutes. 
Of course, a pop up camper limits where you can go (no off road routes would be possible), is totally indefensible, and supplies to live without it (tents, sleeping bags, etc) are still required but for my given scenario (short term emergencies) I am currently planning on utilizing it.
In all just thinking about things and taking baby-steps so far has made me feel a little better as far as my preparation and the next steps required.

I've been researching ways to secure windows in a SHTF scenario and it seems that one of the best ways to do this is by screwing pre-cut sheets of plywood to the window frame.  This will take many screws and it will leave screw holes in your window frame if/when it comes time to take down the plywood.  It also takes precious time to put a lot of screws in even with a powered screwdriver and depending on the size of the window, you might need several people to hold the plywood in place while you put the screws in.

The French cleat method involves securing a strip of wood with a 45 degree bevel to the wall, and then securing an opposing beveled strip on the back the object you want to hang.  This is often used to hang cabinets and is very strong.  If you add French cleats to to top (and to the bottom if you want it really strong) of your plywood and windows, one person should be able to hang each piece of plywood very quickly.  If you build it into the existing trim, provided it is strong enough wood, it will be almost undetectable unless you are looking specifically for it. 

When the SHTF, just grab your plywood with the opposing 45 degree bevel and hang it.  Maybe put one of two screws in when you have time if it makes you feel better. This system should save a lot of time and window frames for people that need to G.O.O.D. or hunker down when a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado is approaching and they want to save their windows.  It is also a good addition for security since the connection is very strong, but you'll still have to add screws since the plywood can be literally lifted off the French cleat and set aside, providing access to the window. 

You can also add another French cleat to the bottom of the plywood and window for additional strength and just have screws on the sides. This method can also be used with any material you can securely attach a cleat to if you want to use something other than plywood. 

1/4" metal window covers with a welded cleat would be able to stop most rounds and therefore offer the most security.  Since the connection is so strong, you might be able to attach a few sandbags to your plywood if needed.  I do not know exactly how much weight this will hold (most sites just say "very heavy") and it depends on the materials you use anyway so use common sense if you decide to use this method. - Jonathan J.

JWR Replies: The weight of sheet steel adds up in hurry. Here is a useful quote from my novel "Patriots":

Originally, Dan had suggested either one-inch thick mild plate steel, or half-inch thick hardened steel to go over the windows and doors. That was before he realized how much they would weigh. When he got back to Chicago, he consulted one of his books of engineering tables and found the formula for figuring the weight of plate steel: Length (in inches) x width (inches) x thickness (inches) x .2560 = weight (pounds)

Thus, for instance, a 1" thick piece of of plate steel that measures 36" x 36" weighs at least 331 pounds. That is what you would need to stop .308 or .30-06 AP. Even .308 ball with a 90-degree hit will go right through 1/4" steel plate if it isn't hardened.

After I first posted this, Reader G.C. added this clarification: "The math presented is for a 1" thick 36" x 36" plate, though most mil spec sheets will suggest that plate will weigh in between 360 and 370 lbs. (I came up with 367.56 lbs from the spec sheet I used."

The weight of 1" plate steel (or several stacked layers to achieve comparable thickness) requires special handling precautions. Safety first when handling plate steel, folks. Some of the following might sound slightly paranoid, but I've "been there, don't that" and have accumulated a couple of little scars:

  • Get plenty of assistance.
  • Over-engineer all attachment points.
  • Be sure that everyone wears safety (steel toe) boots.
  • Don't use flimsy or tippy supports. Use an engine hoist for pieces that weigh more than 120 pounds. Lift with youg legs, not your back.
  • Measure twice and cut once.
  • Have fire extinguishers handy.
  • If at all possible, do all your cutting and welding before you lift.
  • Keep kids and pets at a safe distance.
  • Move slowly and deliberately, and don't lose control of a plate. Remember... acceleration: "32 feet per second..."
  • Have a cell phone close at hand. (And if you are out in the boonies beyond cellular coverage, then be extra careful.)
  • Have some bandages, a CAT, several packets of Quik-Clot (or Celox), and Betadine close at hand.
  • Put car keys in their slots so that vehicles are ready to go, if needed.
  • Most importantly: There should only be one person in charge. Thoroughly talk through the expected actions of everyone on your crew before you lift anything. (Namely: A.) Who will hold what, where, and how, and for how long, B.) Exactly what maneuvers/transitions will be used, and C.) What to do if X, Y, or Z happens.

I wish you success and safety with your project!

This report lays out an investment thesis for gold and one for silver.  Various factors lead me to conclude that gold is one investment that you can park for the next ten or twenty years, confident that it will perform well. My timing and logic for both entering and finally exiting gold (and silver) as investments are laid out in the full report.

The punch line is this: Gold and silver are not (yet) in bubble territory, and large gains remain, especially if monetary, fiscal, and fundamental supply-and-demand trends remain in play.


In 2001, as the painful end of the long stock bull market finally seeped into my consciousness, I began to grow quite concerned about my traditional stock and bond holdings. Other than a house with 27 years left on a 30 year mortgage, these holdings represented 100% of my investing portfolio. So I dug into the economic data to see what I could discover. What I found shocked me. It's all in the Crash Course in both video and book form, so I won't go into that data here.

By 2002, I had investigated enough about our monetary, economic, and political systems that I decided that holding gold and silver would be a very good idea, poured 50% of my liquid net worth into precious metals, and sat back and watched.

Since then, my appreciation for and understanding of the role of gold as a monetary asset and silver as an indispensable industrial metal have deepened considerably.

Investing in gold and silver is still a good idea. Here's why.

Why own gold and silver?

The reasons to hold gold and silver, and I mean physical gold and silver, are pretty straightforward. So let's begin with the primary reasons to own gold.

  1. To protect against monetary recklessness
  2. As insulation against fiscal foolishness
  3. As insurance against the possibility of a major calamity in the banking/financial system
  4. For the embedded 'option value' that will pay out if and when gold is remonetized

By 'monetary recklessness,' I mean the creation of money out of thin air and the application of more liquidity than the productive economy actually needs. The central banks of the world have been doing this for decades, not just since the onset of the great financial crisis. In gold terms, the supply of above-ground gold is growing at roughly 3% per year, while money supply has been growing at nearly three times that yearly rate since 1980.

See this chart from the St. Louis Fed.

Now this is admittedly an unfair view, because the economy has been growing, too, but money and credit growth have handily outpaced even the upwardly distorted GDP measurements by a wide margin.  As the economy stagnates under this too-large debt load while the credit system continues to operate as if perpetual expansion were possible, look for all the resulting extra dollars to show up in prices of goods and services.    

Real interest rates are deeply negative (meaning that the rate of inflation is higher than Treasury bond yields). This is a forced, manipulated outcome courtesy of central banks that are buying bonds with thin-air money. Historically, periods of negative real interest rates are nearly always associated with outsized returns for commodities, especially precious metals. If and when real interest rates turn positive, I will reconsider my holdings in gold and silver, but not until then. That is as close to an absolute requirement as I have in this business.

Monetary policies across the developed world remain as accommodating as they've ever been. Even Greenspan's 1% blow-out special in 2003 was not as steeply negative in real terms as what Bernanke has recently engineered. But it is the highly aggressive and 'alternative' use of the Federal Reserve balance sheet to prop up insolvent banks and to sop up extra Treasury debt that really has me worried. There seems to be no way to end these ever-expanding programs, and they seem to have become a permanent feature of the economic and financial landscape.  In Europe, the equivalent would be the sovereign debt now found on the European Central Bank (ECB) balance sheet.  

Federal deficits are seemingly out of control and are now stuck in the -$1.5 trillion range. Massive deficit spending has always been inflationary, and inflation is usually gold/silver friendly. Although not always, mind you, as the correlation is not strong, especially during mild inflation (less than 5%). Note, for example, that gold fell from its high in 1980 all the way to its low in 1998, an 18 year period with plenty of mild inflation along the way. Sooner or later I expect extraordinary budget deficits to translate into extraordinary inflation.

Reason #3, insurance against a major calamity in the banking system, is an important part of my rationale for holding gold. I'm not referring to "paper gold" either, which includes the various tradable vehicles (like the "GLD" ETF) that you can buy like stocks through your broker. I'm talking about physical gold and silver because of their unusual ability to sit outside of the banking/monetary system and act as monetary assets.

Literally everything else financial, including your paper US money, is simultaneously somebody else's liability, but gold and silver are not. They are simply, boringly, just assets. This is a highly desirable characteristic that is not easily replicated.

Should the banking system suffer a systemic breakdown, to which I ascribe a reasonably high probability of greater than 1-in-4 over the next 5 years, I expect banks to close for some period of time. Whether it's 2 weeks or 6 months is unimportant; no matter the length of time, I'd prefer to be holding gold than bank deposits.

During a banking holiday, your money will be frozen and left just sitting there, even as everything priced in money (especially imported items) rocket up in price. By the time your money is again available to you, you may find that a large portion of it has been looted by the effects of a collapsing currency. How do you avoid this? Easy; keep some 'money' out of the system to spend during an emergency. I always advocate three months of living expenses in cash, but you owe it to yourself to have gold and silver in your possession as well.

The final reason for holding gold, because it may be remonetized, is actually a very big draw for me. While the probability of this coming to pass may be low, the rewards would be very high.

Here are some numbers:  The total amount of 'official gold,' or that held by central banks around the world, is 30,684 tonnes, or 987 million troy ounces (MOz). In 2008 the total amount of money stock in the world was roughly $60 trillion.

If the world wanted 100% gold backing of all existing money, then the implied price for an ounce of gold is ($60T/987MOz) = $60,790 per troy ounce.

Clearly that's a silly number (or is it?), but even a 10% partial backing of money yields $6,000 per ounce. The point here is not to bandy about outlandish numbers, but merely to point out that unless a great deal of the world's money stock is destroyed somehow, or a lot more official gold is bought from the market and placed into official hands, backing even a fraction of the world's money supply by gold will result in a far higher number than today's ~$1,500/Oz.

The Difference Between Silver and Gold

Often people ask me if I hold "goldandsilver" as if it were one word. I do own both, but for almost entirely different reasons. Gold, to me, is a monetary substance. It has money-like qualities and it has been used as money by diverse cultures throughout history. I expect that to continue.

There is a chance, growing by the week, that gold will be remonetized on the international stage due to a failure of the current all-fiat regime. If or when the fiat regime fails, there will have to be some form of replacement, and the only one that we know works for sure is a gold standard. Therefore, a renewed gold standard has the best chance of being the 'new' system selected during the next bout of difficulties.

Silver is an industrial metal with a host of enviable and irreplaceable attributes. It is the most conductive metal known, and therefore it is widely used in the electronics industry. It is used to plate critical bearings in jet engines and as an antimicrobial additive to everything from wall paints to clothing fibers. In nearly all of these uses, plus a thousand others, it is used in such vanishingly small quantities that it is hardly worth recovering at the end of the product lifecycle -- and often isn't.

Because of this dispersion effect, above-ground silver is actually at something of a historical low point. When silver was used primarily for monetary and ornamentation purposes, the amount of above-ground, refined silver grew with every passing year. After industrial uses cropped up, that trend reversed, and today there are perhaps 1 billion ounces above ground, when in 1980 there were roughly 4 billion ounces.  

Because of this consumption dynamic,  it's entirely possible that over the next twenty years not one single net new ounce of above ground silver will be added to inventories, while in contrast, a few billion ounces of gold will be added.

I hold gold as a monetary metal. I own silver because of its residual monetary qualities, but more importantly because I believe it will continue to be in demand for industrial uses for a very long time, and it will become a scarce and rare item.


If we cast our minds forward ten years and think about a world with oil costing 2x to maybe 8x more than today, we have to ask how many of our currently-operating gold and silver mines, or the base metal mines from which gold and silver are by-products, will still be in operation, and how many will close because their energy costs will have exceeded their marginal economic benefits.

After just 100 years of modern, machine-powered mining, nearly all of the good ores are gone. By the time you are reading stories like this next one, you should be thinking, 'Why are they going to all that trouble unless that's the best option left?'

South African Miners Dig Deeper to Extend Gold Veins' Life Spans

Feb. 17, 2011

JOHANNESBURG--With few new gold strikes around the world that can be turned into profitable mines, South Africa's gold miners are planning to dig deeper than ever before to get access to rich veins.

The plans raise questions about how to safely and profitably mine several miles below the surface. Success would mean overcoming problems such as possible rock falls, flooding and ventilation challenges and designing technology to overcome the threats.

Mark Cutifani, chief executive officer of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., has a picture in his office of himself at one of the deepest points in Africa, roughly 4,000 meters, or 13,200 feet, down in the company's Mponeng mine south of Johannesburg. Mr. Cutifani sees no reason why Mponeng, already the deepest mining complex in the world, shouldn't in time operate an additional 3,000-plus feet deeper.

"The most critical challenges for all of us in South Africa are depths and depletion of reserves," Mr. Cutifani said in an interview.

The above article is just a different version of the story that led to the Deepwater Horizon incident.  By the time exceptional engineering challenges are being pondered to scrape a little deeper, it tells the alert observer everything they need to know about where we are in the depletion cycle.  We are closer to the end than the beginning.

We are at the point in history where we can easily look forward and make the case for declining per capita production of numerous important elements just on the basis of constantly falling ore purities and gold and silver fit into that category rather handily. Depletion of reserves is a very real dynamic and it is not one that future generations will have to worry about; it is one with which people alive today will have to come to terms.

The issue of Peak Oil only exacerbates the reserve depletion dynamic by adding steadily rising energy input costs to mix. Should oil get to the point of actual scarcity where we have to ration by something other than price, then we must ask where operating marginal mines fits into the priority list. Not very high would be my guess.

Supply and Demand - Gold

Not surprisingly, the high prices for gold and silver have stimulated quite a bit of exploration and new mine production. With over decade of steadily rising prices, there has been ample time to bring on new production. Which leads to a real surprise: in the case of gold, relatively little incremental mine production has occurred.

The analytical firm Standard Chartered has calculated  a rather subdued 3.6% gold production growth over the next five years:

Most market commentary on gold centres on the direction of US dollar movements or inflation/deflation issues - we go beyond this to examine future mine supply, which we regard as an equally important driver. In our study of 375 global gold mines and projects, we note that after 10 years of a bull market, the gold mining industry has done little to bring on new supply. Our base-case scenario puts gold production growth at only 3.6% CAGR over the next five years.

(Source - Standard Chartered)

Of course none of this is actually surprising to anyone who understands where we are in the depletion cycle but it's probably quite a shock to many an economist. The quoted report goes on to calculate that existing projects just coming on-line need an average gold price of $1,400 to justify the capital costs while greenfield, or brand-new, projects require a gold price of $2,000 an ounce.

This enormous increase in required gold prices to justify the investment is precisely the same dynamic that we are seeing with every other depleting resource: energy costs run smack-dab into declining ore yields to produce an exponential increase in operating costs. And it's not as simple as the fuel that goes into the Caterpillar D-9s; it's the embodied energy in the steel and all the other energy-intensive mining components all along the entire supply chain.

Just as is the case with oil shales that always seem to need an oil price $10 higher than whatever it currently is to break even, the law of receding horizons (where rising input costs constantly place a resource just out of economic reach) will prevent many an interesting, but dilute, ore body from being developed. Given declining net energy, that's forever as far as I am concerned.

The punch line of the Standard Chartered gold report is that they think $5,000 gold is a realistic target and go on to note the most important shift in gold accumulation of the past 30 years:

The limited new supply comes at a time when central banks have turned from being net sellers to significant net buyers of gold. The result, in our view, will be a gold market in deficit, even assuming flat growth in demand.

With the supply-demand balance so out of kilter, we see the gold price potentially going to US$5,000/oz. (Source)

The emergence of central banks being net acquirers of gold is actually a pretty big deal. Over the past few decades central banks have been actively reducing their gold holdings preferring paper assets over the 'barbarous relic.' Famously, Canada and Switzerland vastly reduced their official gold holdings during this period, a decision that many citizens of those countries have openly and actively questioned.

The World Gold Council out of the UK is the primary firm that aggregates and reports on gold supply and demand statistics. Their most recent data on official (i.e. central bank) gold holdings shows that in 2008 they switched from being net sellers to being net buyers. (Source)

Note that the 2009 data is lowered by slightly more than 450 tonnes in this chart to remove the one-time announcement by China that it had secretly acquired 454 tonnes over the prior six years, so this data may differ from other representations you might see. I thought it best to remove that blip from the data. Also the data for 2011 is for the first four months only, so we might expect 2011 to be a record-setter if the current pace continues.

Overall, world supply and demand are a bit out of alignment right now with supply increasing by 2% last year and non-official demand increasing by 10%.

The summary of the fundamental analysis is that with mine production seriously lagging the price increases for gold, coupled to increased central bank and investment demand, we have set the stage for some hefty prices increases irrespective of any fiscal or monetary shenanigans.

However, once we put those back into the mix, I forecast a quite volatile but upwardly sloping price for gold over the coming years. Possibly a very steep upward slope at points.

Supply and Demand - Silver

Silver demand is growing by double-digit percentages, being led primarily by industrial uses and investment demand. The Silver Institute does a fine job of tracking and reporting on these matters.

First, Demand:

Total fabrication demand grew by 12.8 percent to a 10-year high of 878.8 Moz in 2010; this surge was led by the industrial demand category. Last year, silver's use in industrial applications grew by 20.7 percent to 487.4 Moz, nearly recovering all the recession-induced losses in 2009, and is now seeing pronounced advances in 2011.

Jewelry posted a gain of 5.1 percent, the first substantial rise since 2003, primarily due to strong GDP gains in emerging markets and the industrialized world's improving economic picture. Photography fell by 6.6 Moz, realizing its smallest loss in nine years, as medical centers deferred conversion to digital systems. Silverware demand fell to 50.3 Moz from 58.2 Moz in 2009, essentially due to lower demand in India. (Source)

Now, Supply:

Silver Production 2010

Silver mine production rose by 2.5 percent to 735.9 Moz in 2010 aided by new projects in Mexico and Argentina. Gains came from primary silver mines and as a by-product of lead/zinc mining activity, whereas silver volumes produced as a by-product of gold fell 4 percent last year.

Mexico eclipsed Peru as the world's largest silver producing country in 2010, and Peru is followed by China, Australia and Chile. Global primary silver supply recorded a 5 percent increase to account for 30 percent of total mine production in 2010.

(See chart: Demand and Supply in 2010)

Again, we are comparing double digit demand increases against low single digit supply increases.  After a decade of rather dramatic price increases for silver, the alert observer should be asking exactly why this is the case.

In table form, we can clearly see that the silver balance for the world requires both dis-hoarding from government stockpiles and from the recycling of scrap silver. That is, shortfalls from mining have to be made up from above ground stocks.

There's only so long that such an imbalance can continue before the shortfalls require much higher prices to cool off demand.

One of the reasons that I originally invested quite heavily in silver is precisely because I came to the conclusion that the price was far too low, artificially so, and that it would therefore be a great investment. So far so good.

Given the aforementioned fundamentals, I project that prices for the precious metals will be many multiples higher - in today's dollar terms - by the end of the decade.

Part II of this report: How to Play The Greatest Gold & Silver Bull Market Of Our Lifetime (by subscription) delves into the specifics of how much of your net worth to invest and in what forms, what price targets gold and silver are likely to reach, and what indicators to look for that will indicate it's time to sell out of your precious metal investments.

F.J. suggested the tax infornmation from Kiplinger's, for helping to select reterat locales: Retiree Tax Heavens (and Hells)

Reuter's reports: S&P to deeply cut U.S. ratings if debt payment missed

Kostas sent this: Greece faces general strike, more cuts planned. This article includes a quote from deputy prime minister, Theodoros Pangalos: "A return to the drachma would mean that the next day banks would be surrounded by people trying to get their money out. The army would have to use tanks to protect [the banks] because there wouldn't be enough police to do it."

Alexander in Germany flagged this one for us: 'The German Government Will Pay Up'. Here is a omimous quote: "Sooner or later, this much is certain, the system will be blown apart by political and economic factors. And, unfortunately, there is a great danger that, when this happens, it is not only the euro that will fall apart, but also the entire EU."

Sig Kriegsman suggested this blog post by Bruce Krasting: Obama, Democrats, Republicans AND Bernanke All in a Bind – What they will do and when

Economist Carmen Reinhart Shares Her Grim Outlook for the U.S. Economy

Michael Pollaro, in Forbes: Monetary Watch June 2011, Inflation prospects post QE II

Items from The Economatrix:

Enter The Dragon "To Save The Euro"

Consumer Spending Breaks 10-Month Rising Streak

Economy Expected to Have Major Slide

Drivers Catch a Break as Gasoline Prices Fall

National Debt Time Bomb Ticks Toward Crisis

Greek Army Threatens Military Coup; Sparks Fear of Military Uprisings and Civil War Breaking Out All Over Europe

Several readers mentioned this: President Obama's Executive Order 13575: Rural Council.

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Veteran SurvivalBlog contributor K.T. wrote to mention that someone recently scanned and posted Jeff Cooper's article on Defensive Architecture from the first year of P.S. Newsletter. Note that, to the best of my knowledge, this was posted in violation of copyright. I believe that the copyright shifted from Mel Tappan to his widow Nancy Tappan, then to Karl Hess (who subsequently renamed the newsletter Survival Tomorrow), and then presumably to Karl's heirs and assigns when he passed away. BTW, I wish that someone would republish the first three years of P.S. Newsletter. My original blue, yellow, and pink binder copies of P.S. Newsletter (that I bought from Bill Pier back in the mid-1980s when he sold licensed reprints) are some of my prized possessions.

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Senegal deploys extra troops as power cuts enrage. (Thanks to Steven M. for the link.)

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Asian 'megapest' is chomping up US orchards

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Pierre M. sent us a news article to file under "Legal Absurdities": Vet Checks Wrong Box, Faces Charges

Bryan Prescot:  “When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

Agent Alex Marlow:  “Conversely, sir, when you have a nail, you can bang at it all day with a screwdriver, a shoe or your hand and get nothing except hurt.  Whereas one good blow with the hammer makes the problem go away for good.”  - From Do Unto Others by Michael Z. Williamson. (Mass market paperback edition available August, 2011 from Baen Books.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 believe that the ultimate survival strategy for the ultimate collapse of civilization goes far beyond simply fortifying and stocking a retreat and locking yourself into a potential box canyon, I believe that the last resort for survivors is to develop the skills and knowledge to exist for years, or even for the rest of your life, in the most extreme and remote areas as a hunter-gatherer with nothing in terms of equipment except what you can carry on your back.

So, here I will present part one of my must-haves for total self-sufficiency: self-contained electronic tools that can be run indefinitely on inexpensive photovoltaic panel roll-ups and [hard] panels that can be folded into pocket-sized packets.

All of my power and interface connector cords are broken down into two pieces, with red and black Anderson Power Pole connectors.  That way, I can mate any [matching voltage] device-specific plug to any energy charging plug.  So, for instance, I don't need separate miniUSB to USB, miniUSB to cigarette lighter,  miniUSB to AC-to-DC power cube, and miniUSB to gel cell battery cords.  All I really need is a  particular jack on one end of a cord, and Power Poles on the other. I have a variety of cords for specific devices and for specific power sources, like USB, cigarette lighter, gel-cells, and so on, each ending in the Power Poles.  I simply mate any device-specific power cord to any power supplier cord.  Keep two of each and you have the optimal capability with minimum weight and size.

[JWR Adds: I'm also a committed user and evangelist for Anderson Power Poleconnectors. Keep in mind that the specification for USB is 4.4 to 5.25 Volts, DC. The unit load was specified at 100 mA in USB 2.0, but increased to 150 mA in USB 3.0. To avoid any confusion, I recommend using different color Power Pole connectors for different voltage ranges. For example, you can use an odd color combination for the 15 Amp connectors for the 4.4–5.25 VDC USB voltages and red and black 30 Amp connectors for 11 to 16 VDC (car battery) voltage. Oh, and remember, in-line fuses are inexpensive insurance for your valuable electronic gear.]

Any items in my kit that run off of internal, external, or rechargeable AA or AAA NiMH batteriescan be charged with light, small, relatively inexpensive roll-up or foldable PV panels.  At the very least, the USB Charging 4 Watt Solar Pane should be included (available for about $100 from Ready Made Resources.)  Since it has a USB port, it can be used directly with any device that can charge through USB, and my Power Pole arrangement allows me to mate any of my [4.4–5.25 VDC USB voltage range] devices to the solar panel's USB port. It weighs just over 6 ounces and folds up small enough to put in a pocket.  It puts out a voltage just slightly less than a powered USB port and can charge anything from cell phones to [a pair of] NiMH AA or AAA batteries.  It is also rainproof.  In peak sun, it produces not only enough power to charge batteries, but, simultaneously generate enough power to act as an active power supply directly connected to most devices. This model has been in use for a decade and has proven its reliability.  I carry two of them and, whenever possible, a larger and more powerful roll-up. (I own several variations.)

So, given my simple, but lightweight and efficient power sources, what battery-operated devices do I include as must-haves?

First and foremost, a Kindle ebook reader with wi-fi for my unit, depending on whether you care or not about the screen savers and a homepage banner showing ads, or prefer the artwork screen savers.  Note that the less expensive ad-based Kindle is the same as the other, and that none of the ads show when you are actually reading a book.  My Kindle weighs only 8.5 ounces, can store up to 3,500 books. With the wi-fi turned off, it will run for a month on a charge if you read an hour each day (Two months if you only use it a half-hour a day).  It has a 6" (diagonal) screen and displays pages that are virtually identical to printed material (they refer to this as E Ink). It is only a third of an inch thick and height and width are 4.8" x 7.5". I can easily carry it in a back pocket of my jeans and still have room for my passport and a notebook.    It can let you carry around a massive library of books covering every facet of survival as well as a lifetime worth of books for enjoyment while adding negligible weight and taking up practically no space.

Second, I include my Samsung Charge 4G Android phone (I'm due for an upgrade to one of the anticipated second-gen 4Gs in the fall).  I leave the battery out when not actively using it to be absolutely, positively, belt-and-suspenders sure that I can't be tracked through it.  It can provide a wide number of functions besides phoning (which will be impossible anyway if the power to cell towers go off).   However, it has full GPS capabilities, including maps equivalent to my car-mounted Garmins. BTW, I recommend using GPS in very small doses, whenever necessary, and only while you are on the move.  The GPS satellites will probably be functioning long after the grid goes down, because they are self-powered and probably will not be destroyed by an EMP attack. 

The second major function I use the phone for is that it will accept microSD cards.  I have a number of 32 MB microSD cards that I use to store additional books, as well as music, audio books, and other audio and video entertainment.  The third advantage is that it is capable of acting as a wi-fi hot spot, so I can use it to transfer books from my microSD cards to the Kindle via wi-fi.  This is a 'force multiplier' in that it gives me the ability to carry a very large library of reference and resource books.  The entire package is lighter and smaller than a single paperback book.  If you don' have a GPS-enabled cell phone, then at least get the Garmin eTrex handheld for less than $75. It doesn't let you be traced, since there is no identifying information included in the transmission.  This is a powerful waterproof unit with WAAS (which gives you accuracy to less than 10 feet), but it doesn't have maps - just compass and GPS readings, though it is easily programmed for destinations and waypoints, and leads you to them via the compass and distance-to-travel indicator.  If you want a map, the Garmin Legend H has all-terrain four-color grayscale maps in storage for only $50 more.  Color maps are available in higher-priced models, but IMHO are not worth the extra bucks except when driving on the highway.  Both models are just over 5 ounces with two of my NiMH AA batteries, and are waterproof. I carry a Legend H as a backup to my cell phone GPS.

Next comes my communications gear.   I carry a portable Yaesu FT-817 QRP (low power) transceiver that can handle USB, LSB, AM, CW, VHF, UHF, PSK31 and a number of other operating modes.  It covers every ham band from 160m to 10m in the HF region excepting the newer 30 and 60 meter bands, which are really not necessary (a newer model includes at least the 60m band, and possibly the 30m band if you absolutely, positively  have to have them), as well as covering 6m, 2m, and 70 cm on VHF and UHF FM bands.  It runs on an internal NiMH battery which I upgraded to an after-market NiMH battery with a higher mAh rating and can also be powered by external AA batteries and an available Ni-Cd pack as well as from one of my solar packs.  I also installed a 500 Hz bandwidth Collins filter for CW operation.  It also has an internal keyer that can handle CW speeds from 4 WPM to 60 WPM. (I usually copy about 30 WPM - 35 WPM if I'm working CW regularly).  I carry around two keys. One old navy-style Bencher hand key, and a Kent single-lever paddle key (having first learned Morse in the mid 1960's using hand keys and 'bugs,'  I have never felt comfortable with dual paddle iambic keys, but YMMV).  In extremis, the up and down buttons on the mike can be used to transmit Morse code. The FT-817 has a maximum output of 5 watts, but can also dial that back dramatically.  The ham rule has always been to use enough power to make the QSO - but no more.   Given the right antenna, I've had CW QSOs with hams all over the world - including in Antarctica, as well as several shuttle crews and the International space station using only 500mW output.   You don't need 1,500 W PEP to work the world. Though the lower the power, the more you have to rely on skill, experience, knowledge of propagation characteristics of each band at any given time of day or stage in the sun spot cycle, and antenna-craft.

Today, you can get any grade of ham license with either no Morse requirement or the old novice requirement of 5 WPM (which anybody with an IQ above room temperature should be able to master inside of three weeks if they use the Farnsworth learning technique).  Still, given that Morse is the most efficient means of post-SHTF communications, allowing communication at greater distances, with lower power, and much narrower bandwidth usage that any other mode that will still be operating, it would be of advantage to at least develop 13 to 15 WPM abilities. PSK31 and other digital modes are even better in all respects and are primarily why the ARRL has stopped requiring a trained emergency backup collection of hams with CW skills up to 20 WPM, however, digital modes require a computer and an interface box, and are only usable if you and the people you are trying to contact have similar gear.  Even the smallest laptop is too heavy to cart around in a backpack solely to run a PSK31 program.  Morse will be the best bang for the buck and has the advantage of requiring that anybody monitoring your radio transmissions must be at least as skilled and as fast as you - unlike voice communications that anybody can understand.  For use with other survivalists you are associated with, you might want to decide on an encryption scheme and then encrypt your messages before sending them.  Try to reach the Amateur Extra grade as soon as you can, since only the top grade of license gives you legal rights to operate on any legal ham frequency.  Lower grades have significant restrictions.

Another critical feature of the FT-817 is that it has an expanded frequency receiver that covers both of the major VHF and UHF public safety bands used by police, fire departments, EMTs, etc. as well as AM coverage of the entire civilian and military air bands, and even the commercial FM radio band.

I also have two HTs (handy-talkies or handheld radios) for myself and two matching ones for my wife.  One can fit into a shirt pocket and covers 6m, 2m, and 70cm - along with a wide-frequency receiver capability.  The other is a bit larger and only covers 2m and 70cm, but it does have APRS capabilities.  Both can run on a variety of power sources.  I have a mobile 50w dual-band unit in each car covering the same two bands with dual-frequency mag-mount antennas as close to the ground plane center as I can get them.   All of my handheld and mobile radios are capable of functioning as cross-band repeaters, and, in fact, one of my mobiles was parked at the Red Cross tent at Ground Zero, cross-banding both the police and fire bands so they could communicate despite their very different frequency ranges, for the first month after the attack.   Also, all of my emergency ham transceivers are 'freebanded' to provide two-way coverage of the VHF and UHF public safety bands.  Note that, in order to do this legally, you must have a very good justification.  I have worked as a volunteer communications first responder for 30 years with ARES, RACES, the state Office of Emergency Services (OEM) [in my state] run by the State Police and the American Red Cross, so I can freeband legally as long as I only transmit on public service frequencies in a dire emergency.

I carry two kinds of antennas for the FT-817.  The first is a batch of extremely light-weight homemade dipoles.  I carry two for each band I expect to be using, with one tuned for resonance in the CW portion of a band, and the other tuned for the SSB portion (except for VHF and UHF, which are FM voice - where my dipoles and small vertically polarized 'sticks' are tuned to the middle of the band.) I also have what IMHO is an ingenious modular kit for creating a long-wire antenna on any frequency the 817 supports.  It consists of a number of different length antenna wires, each terminated with a different color of Power Pole connector. I believe they come in 11 or 12 colors, so they can be color-coded.  The shortest one is resonant at 70 cm and all of them plugged together make an antenna resonant on 160m.  Various single wires and combinations of wires cover all of the other bands.  I use the colors to match the configurations to a laminated pocket chart that I created years ago.  It is easy to put them up in the trees if you use a string tied to a rock you can throw, and even easier if you have a slingshot.

When I want a radio scanner with wide reception coverage, I use a Yupiteru MVT-9000.  The Yupi is sometimes referred to as a "DC-to-Daylight" receiver since it receives on a continuous range from 0.1 MHz to 2,000 MHz with no gaps.  This means that, while the radio is legal to buy in every other country of the world, it is illegal in the United States because it does not block the cell phone frequencies. I bought mine when working on a consulting job in Europe and 'forgot' to leave it behind when I returned. Oops! The customs officer was clueless about its capabilities and passed it right through. (BTW, it is a good idea to select an FM radio frequency on each receiver or transceiver before going through US customs or TSA checks.  They will often ask you to turn on the device, and there is nothing more harmless and non-threatening than discovering that it is just a fancy FM radio. 

The Yupi has an external BNC connector and there are literally a thousand different antennas you can use with it, including single and multi-band.  It has everything one can want in a hand-held scanner, except for several recent capabilities: it has no PL/CTCSS and it has no trunk-tracking.  It does support decoding voice inversion, but doesn't have support for Motorola APCO digital trunked systems or any of the analog trunking systems (Motorola type 1, type 2 and type 1/2 hybrid as well as EDACS and LTR).  If continuous unblocked coverage is not important to you, but trunking, CTCSS, and/or digital capabilities are, then I suggest something like the Uniden Bearcat BCD396XT, which covers all analog trunking systems, both 3600 and 9600 baud digital trunk tracking, CTCSS and DCS decode. I use both in different contexts.  Note that the 800 MHz systems were 'rebanded' in 2008, so it is far better to buy this or similar radios produced after the rebanding, so you don't have to modify and reprogram the unit. If there is radio transmission going on anywhere after TSHTF, I truly believe that it is of inestimable value to be able to monitor it.

Proviso: Anybody putting a radio or scanner capable of receiving the VHF and/or UHF public service frequencies in a vehicle should check with the laws in their state (as well as any other state they will be driving through).  Some states have varied restrictions, and at least one (Minnesota) bans them outright.  This is another reason to get a ham license, as hams are licensed by the FCC and are exempt from [some] state regulations.  Keep a copy of your operator's license in your wallet and be prepared for a trip to the police station when you encounter local yokels who are clueless about the Federal communications laws. You might want to keep a copy of the pertinent FCC regulations in your glove compartment as well.

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
Growing up along the shores of Lake Michigan, I often looked upon the most foundational landmarks of the region; lighthouses.  Each was unique in design but singular in purpose, their sole function being to provide a beacon of hope and direction amidst turbulent times of treachery and despair.  When a vessel lost its bearing, wandering aimlessly, the lighthouse was ever present to guide the way to safety.  Throughout history, man used tools such as lighthouses as guideposts toward security and prosperity.  Without them his efforts were often misguided, lost, and smashed upon the rocks of hopelessness.

America’s shores bear another great landmark of security and liberty, the United States Constitution.  As a phoenix from the flames of Revolution, the Constitution arose promising no freeman would ever be enslaved by the avarice of tyrants or kings.  Its creators employed their knowledge and understanding of history, carefully considering governments past and present, in an effort to divine wisdom and understanding toward the ultimate goal of creating the most definitive and powerful document of freedom and liberty ever known to man.

This document would become the tool by which a world of slave traders would enact emancipation when history knew no such idea.  It would be the device which would unlock man’s spirit allowing the liberty to prosper or fail, depending on individual choice and desire.  It would be the mechanism by which economies would grow and prosper to the point man could leave the terrestrial bounds and seek the stars of space.  It would also be the hope of men worldwide, enabling pursuit of the life they choose to lead, whether simple or sublime.

The US Constitution occurred not by happenstance or luck.  Its birth was designed by the most learned and noble citizens the world had to offer:  men, who sought freedom from persecution, yet swore their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the creation of a new land of hope and opportunity.  Their design would be the foundational bedrock of a country encouraging all comers, bringing with them the earnest desire to participate in a free capitalist, Republic and a nation of laws, for the betterment of all citizens.  A nation where each would be considered equal with his neighbor in opportunity, yet none would be guaranteed equality of outcome. 

Nearly 224 years have passed since adoption of the US Constitution, during which mankind has experienced the most transformational period in the history of the world; progressing from the agricultural age of horse and plow to the understanding of the human genome and particle accelerators.  One could argue these advances are directly related to the creation of the US Constitution being the very mechanism liberating a world trapped in obscurity.  A simple document of liberty, freeing man’s mind and engaging his spirit to achieve whatever the Creator enabled within, while simultaneously ensuring no man capable of stifling another’s achievement without due process of law.

Today we rapidly approach the rocky point in the cycle of democracy where apathy leads to dependence, beyond which is bondage once again.  Our society leans further from uncaring indifference regarding our political and economic plight to one in which all means of salvation stem from the benevolent hand of government.  Individual liberty and personal responsibility have given way to the usurping power of collectivism and entitlement, wherein a multitude of society have become dependent on the redistributive hand of government, denying their birthright to liberty for the promise of a warm meal and shelter for the evening.

Heritage is fleeting.  Lest we recognize ours is a nation of excellence, it shall be lost.  Liberty is not offered lightly; it is guaranteed to freemen, having been procured by the blood of patriots and defined by the United States Constitution.  Those who declare liberty, do so with the knowledge that all men are created equal, while those denying liberty do so considering men as subjects.

We have reached a crossroads in American history; imprimis or imprisonment?  Are we to return to first principles or relegate ourselves to that point in history from which we rose as the phoenix?  Should we choose the latter, we will ensure no future society shall achieve the liberty we had gained and squandered, once again becoming slaves of men.  Should we choose the former, we shall only proclaim that which we already own and will once again rightfully declare is ours, granted by the providential hand of God; that being liberty. - Brad S.

Does this sound familiar? Tony B. sent us some news from Australia: Royal Mint wants 5¢ coins scrapped. Yes, when inflation embarrassingly gives coins a base metal value that exceeds their face value, governments make they conveniently declare them a "nuisance" or "too expensive". You can either look at it as a function of "rising commodities prices" as the media suggests, or more accurately as a declining Oz Dollar.

G.G. spotted this over at Total Investor: Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Prepper Dad? Even Robert Kiyosaki Is Warning That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

Martin Weiss warns of derivatives doom: Government lying about debt crisis! What to do … (A hat tip to John R. for the link.)

Pointman sent this from Zero Hedge: Moody's Warns of "Severe Greek Bank Cash Shortage" Due to Accelerating Deposit Flight

Items from The Economatrix:

The US Monetary System and Descent into Fascism

Monetary Revolution and Alternative Money

Deutsche Mark "Set For Comeback" As German Euro Crisis Deepens

Soros Says A Euro Exit Mechanism Is "Probably Inevitable" Amid Debt Crisis

I just read that Hazel Dickens passed away earlier this year. She was a great bluegrass singer who will be greatly missed. She's singing in heaven now. Hearing about her passing reminded me of where I first heard her: KFAT in Gilroy, California. When I was in college, I avidly listed to KFAT, mainly for the bluegrass and gospel-bluegrass music. Their western swing and rockabilly music was also fun, though a good portion of that was not very edifying. (They played plenty of rowdy-honkeytonk-doper songs.) But to their credit, KFAT's play list was truly eclectic, including: Emmylou Harris (the station's collective sweetheart), Leon Redbone, Ricky Skaggs, Warren Zevon, The Stanley Brothers, Merle Haggard, Ry Cooder, Willie Nelson, Peter Rowan, Clifton Chenier, Hot Rize, John Prine, The Seldom Scene, Delbert McClinton, Riders In The Sky, Hank Snow, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Muddy Waters, Commander Cody, Speedy Haworth, John Hartford, Gary P. Nunn, Mimi Farina, Django Reinhardt, Asleep At The Wheel, and Taj Mahal. KFAT sadly went off the air in 1982. <Sniffle> But surprisingly, a huge volume of KFAT air checks are now available via online streaming, kept alive by die-hard fans. And of course Cuzin' Al and a few of the other KFAT veterans are now disc jockeys at KPIG. )

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) spotted this: Two studies point to the illusion of the artificial sweeteners. No great surprise... They make you fat.

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Also from Mike Williamson, a link for a free e-book: Jury Independence Illustrated.

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Emergency Essentials / Preparedness Pantry is celebrating the second anniversary of their blog with a generous giveaway of three prizes with a combined retail value over $1,300: A Comp II Emergency Kit, GoalZero Extreme 350 Kit and their new One Month Supply of Just-Add-Water Foods. We are drawing three winners at random, one for each prize. It's easy to enter.

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Several readers mention this: Rochester [New York] Police Arrest Citizen for Taping Traffic Stop. When the police don't want to be filmed doing their job, then there is something horribly wrong.

"A wise prince, then...should never be idle in times of peace, but should industriously lay up stores of which to avail himself in times of adversity; so that; when Fortune abandons him, he may be prepared to resist her blows." - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 was stranded on the streets of Los Angeles because my so called "friend" stole my rent money.  Down and out, with no one to help, in a state where I knew nobody, I started out with nothing but the clothes on my back. 

I started out grabbing odds and ends in an attempt to get by and make do.  I got some give-away matches from a corner convenience store and used a coffee can to cook whatever I could find.  After some finagling, I came up with a thick black garbage bag which held my supplies:

  • Rain poncho I bought at the dollar store
  • Bandana
  • Roll of duct tape
  • Coffee can and matches
  • Slingshot
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Hacksaw blade with a handle I fashioned
  • Food: Typically a few oranges, a can of sardines, and two cans of beans

Finally, I got a part-time job at the convenience store, but I knew that I could be fired at any time, so I decided to upgrade my Go Bag.  I folded up my black garbage bag and put it inside a used knapsack I bought for $4 at a second-hand store.  Along with my other items, minus the perishable foods, I included:

  • Leatherman multitool
  • Flint and steel fire maker
  • Whistle
  • Headlamp (which is good for dumpster diving)
  • Folding knife
  • Compass
  • Knife sharpener

Deciding I knew where I was, I got rid of the compass and whistle.  Since I know how to sharpen my knife with a rock, I got rid of the sharpener--traded it for something, I forget what.  But I decided I needed:

  • 100 yards of paracord
  • Jar of peanut butter and jelly
  • Bag of rice and
  • Bag of black beans
  • Vaseline (somebody had recommended Bag Balm, which is similar)
  • Safety pins
  • Lighter

Then a guy told me that electrical tape is good.  I already had duct tape, but I figured this was good advice.  The same guy traded me some fishing hooks and 8 pound test fishing line for my jar of peanut butter.

As I walked about town I grabbed small odds and ends that I either was given or found on the ground, including:

  • Two hose clamps
  • Some moist towelettes
  • Pair of pliers
  • Deck of playing cards
  • Some small nails

Eventually I did get fired from my job, because I showed up to work too early.  They got suspicious and figured out that I was still homeless.  So I grabbed my knapsack and left, headed east.

With my last paycheck I bought a water filter that you can drink through.
I also somehow ended up with a box of baking soda, good for many things.
I am keeping my eye out for an itty-bitty chess set to bring along.

Sometimes I throw some bouillon cubes in there, but they get used up quickly when we make soup on the run.  I always have some extra socks, so I let my other ones dry when I wash them in filling station bathrooms.

As I traveled from state to state, walking and hitchhiking, I added some items:

  • Small flashlight
  • Magnifying glass (for reading and could use to make fire)
  • Aluminum foil to bake in
  • Small mirror
  • Salt and pepper packets
  • Candle

I formerly had a sleeping bag, but all I carry with me now is a military poncho and a wool blanket.  My goal was to get back to my home state.  I found a lake, caught some fish, and fried them up!

I jotted down some notes in a journal as I traveled.  Some of the following is from that.

Candy bars make good trading stock out on the road.

Met a guy who had a wind-up flashlight that doesn't need batteries.  Need one of those.
Somebody traded me a box of .22 rimfire cartridges for a roll of Tums.  I don't have a gun, but they make good trading stock.

I don't need an axe, but it might be good to get one of those little tiny wire saws that weigh next to nothing.

As I traveled further east I ended up with:

  • Military can opener
  • Insect repellant
  • Sun block

... all in trade for half of my roll of paracord.  That was a pretty good deal.

Oh yes, I always carry some Kleenex or a roll of toilet paper.

And I've got my sunglasses, but they are always on me, so not really a part of the Go Bag.

Usually wrap stuff in those little grocery store plastic bags.

Got a little jar filled with Band-Aid, rubber bands, zip-lock ties, AAA and AA batteries, etc.

No canteen, instead I've use one of those foldable water bottles.

Usually carry some beef jerky, ramen noodles, and a little portable stove that I made out of a tin can.

Recently added some Lifesavers candy and some cough drops.

Had a portable chair, but got rid of it, along with my portable stove.

Some guy was locked out of his car.  I used a wire coat hanger to open it and he gave me $20.

With the $20 I bought a pair of gloves and a bottle of aspirin.  I decided to carry with me a small bottle of water for cooking for when I get stranded at road stops.

Got stuck at one road stop for three days, and fortunately I found a bestseller someone left there.  Now I always carry this small Trucker's Bible someone gave me.

If I had a driver's license I'd carry it, but I do always have my birth certificate, and some family photos.

Found some nail clippers in a purse that someone dropped.  Would have turned it in, but there was no name and I was miles from anywhere. There was bag of weed inside. I guess somebody ditched it, throwing it out of their car window when the cops were after them.

Always carry some spare change in the bottom of my bag, just in case.

Got a little bar of soap one night when I stayed at a motel.

Met a guy who carries tampons, thinks they are good to start fires. 

One thing that I wished I had was some mosquito netting.  And another is a hammock.

Got a sponge to take sponge baths when I get the chance.

Bought a little lightweight frying pan, but still use my old coffee can, along with a wire handle I attached.

Decided I did need a small sleeping bag, and got a plastic liner to lay it on.

Found a cool sun hat at a Salvation Army store, so got rid of my boonie hat.

Attach stuff to my bag with bungee cords

Threw away a screwdriver that somebody gave me, because I already had the multitool.

Met this gal on the road who carries pepper spray. I found that out the hard way.

Don't think I need one of those little emergency space blankets, but you might.

Ripped my jeans crawling through a barbed wire fence.  For sewing I use a three-sided leather needle and dental floss.

Always carry a small tube of Super Glue.

Toothpaste and shampoo (go without saying)

About three weeks into the trip, I was out on the road and two guys mugged me and beat me up.  They stole my knapsack, and left me to bleed.  All I had was a twenty dollar bill in my shoe and a pack of matches in my pocket.

I was determined to get back home.  I had traveled from California and was now in Oklahoma, headed further east.

There was a motel, and I went and knocked on the door, but the guy wouldn't let me in because I didn't have enough money.  But by this time I knew the drill.  I knew that in order to survive I had to start gathering useful things.  When the sun came up I went over to McDonalds and bought a tray of hash browns and scrambled eggs.  I put some salt and pepper and ketchup and napkins in my paper bag and got a big cup of water. 

I went out and sat on the curb and ate.  I saw a dumpster and went over and looked inside.  There was a bicycle inner tube that I grabbed, figuring it might be good for something, like making slingshot bands.  There was also a shower curtain that I took to use to make a shelter.

I went over to this gas station and a gal gave me a garbage bag. I looked across the street, and I saw the two guys who had mugged me and stole my Go Bag.  They got out of their car and went into McDonalds.  I went over and looked in their car, and sure enough, there was my Go Bag.  I was so happy. 

The car was locked, so I took a rock and busted open the side window.  I reached through the glass and opened the door and grabbed my Go Bag.  I felt like urinating in their car or something, but I was too worried about getting out of there, so I just left.

After a couple of hard weeks on the road, I finally I did make it home, and now I think of that horrible trip as a life's lesson.  My Go Bag now has two components, the heavy weight items that I can do without if I need to, and the essential core that I keep on my person so they will stay with me even if I get mugged.

If I need to I can do without:

  • Machete
  • Foot powder
  • Liquid soap
  • Bottle of honey
  • Powdered milk
  • Dehydrated fruits and vegetables
  • Spices
  • Energy bars
  • Towels
  • Small bottle of chlorine bleach
  • Citizens Band radio

I have found my small pair of Vise Grip pliers to be invaluable on the road.

I did run into a situation (forest fire) where I wished I had some goggles or a dust mask.

Nowadays I go out on the road once in a while, just for old times sake, and to practice my survival skills.  Sometimes I hop a train and wind across the plains and up into the hardwood forests.  But now I usually have a credit card somewhere safely tucked away.  And a tube of Chapstick in my front pocket.

And I have found it handy when hitchhiking to carry a length of siphon hose, because motorists who run out of gas are usually willing to give you a ride anywhere if you can get a car to stop and give them some gasoline.

And when out on the road, a jar of Tabasco sauce makes everything taste better.

I'd expected Blue Sun's letter to get some responses. I feel that Blue Sun mixed fact and fiction with his/her email, and I'm sure others had that impression.

There will always be someone faster or stronger or a better shot. The best anyone can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

In earlier days, when regional populations were much smaller, nomadic cultures subsisted fairly successfully. (Many Mongolians live the same way today, albeit now with satellite television.) Such a strategy for WTSHTF is fine, but honestly even the historical hunter-gatherers had larders from which to sustain themselves through unpredictable winters. It was a hard life for hard people.

Many modern folks, even the professional soldiers I've had the honor of serving with, simply are not prepared for this kind of survival.

I also liked how Blue Sun through out a random weight for pack of gear. What Neolithic man, or Copper Age man, carried 50 lbs of gear? None that we've discovered. My pack is unfinished, but will give me the opportunity presently to sustain myself with only twelve pounds of weight -- provided my hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging endeavors are successful.

Undoubtedly, the best strategy is a semi-permanent home with a deep larder and (most importantly) the skills and willingness to endure hardship to survive.

History is on the side of the cunning individual. - Cole in Texas


I read your own and other responses to my post on wilderness survival with interest, and concluded that I must not have made my original point clearly enough.  While I agree that a properly chosen and well stocked and fortified retreat is the optimal solution to many collapse scenarios, it is still not going to cover the worst scenarios.  In the old West, before the arrival of lawmen, there were many pioneers who had the ability and courage to create their own farms and ranches, and the frontiersman standing in the doorway of his home with rifle or shotgun in hand, standing off marauders, is iconic today.  However, only a small minority of people today (a very small minority) will be able to create the type of retreat you discuss at length. 

Personally, I have two retreats: one in an unnamed western state in high mountain country (actually, it is the beginning of a horizontal mine shaft that was abandoned about 150 years ago and is totally unknown to all but myself, who stumbled upon it during a solo wilderness hike and camouflaged the entrance so that nobody is likely to find it in the future). The other is on the U.S.-Canadian border where the property line of my back yard is precisely on the border (I have only to step off of my property to pass from American to Canadian wilderness, should that be necessary.  Both are well supplied with hidden caches of food, weapons, medicine, and pretty much all that I expect to need for lengthy stays. 

In the past, I also lived aboard a 30-foot sloop docked in the Florida Keys and have sailed all my life.  If I am anywhere near open water, I can easily find a suitable sailboat, big enough to live on and small enough so that my wife and I can sail her watch-and-watch well away from major countries.  There are a plethora of uninhabited islands and coastlines that can provide all of the food and water you need without the risk of running into somebody who will kill you and take the boat. It is easy to resupply and G.O.O.D. in less than a day - or if the area is  completely void of human inhabitants, we can stay a while and enjoy the beachcomber life.  Whenever I live near the sea or any river with access to the sea, I am always keeping an eye out for suitable sailing craft that spend most or all of their time moored to a dock.  The optimum would be a sloop or ketch in the 40 to 46 foot range, equipped with a roller-furled jib and ready to rock n' roll.  Still, we lived aboard our 30-footer for a couple of years and, if you don't do yoga below-decks, where you can stretch out both hands and hit cabin walls, it is big enough to sail around the world single-handed.  If you consider this escape route, I strongly recommend a formal course in navigation using sextant, magnetic compass, and a spring-driven (wind-up) chronometer that does not rely on battery power. Even at sea, you must be able to live without electricity or generate your own via hydro or solar power. (I'll have more about that in a subsequent post).

However (and in my mind this is a very big however), what happens when a retreat, no matter how well hidden and how well defended, is not enough to ensure your survival?  Where can you go from there?  If that is your last line of defense, then you stand a reasonable chance of being overrun and subjected to "indignities" ending in your death or expulsion from your own home.   Remember also that, the moment you show signs of habitation out in the open, whether it be a garden or grazing livestock, you become more noticeable and increase the risk of being found as well as being considered worth the effort of looting.

Going back to the old West as an example. While a minority of settlers had the knowledge and courage to live self-sufficiently, many more were too lazy, and/or lacked the intelligence, the knowledge, and the courage to put in the hard "sweat equity" necessary for survival on the frontier.  The way they survived was by signing on with a powerful boss, most likely a rancher looking to expand his range of ownership and in need of gunmen.  They provided the muscle, and he provided food and shelter that they couldn't produce on their own. A large gang of weak men (who couldn't survive alone) will almost always trump an individual and his family, no matter how well they are armed and how good their security and fortifications are.  And, if the first time fails, you can expect periodic new attacks by the same gang and/or new ones.   In a total breakdown of society and widespread chaos , a survivalist needs one level of survival skills that does not require a retreat with fuel, a couple of years supply of grains, freeze-dried food, or MREs.  Even after the law arrived in western towns, most of the bosses had, by then, become rich enough to put the local politician and the sheriff and his deputies on their payrolls, and the individual families ranching or farming outside of town were no safer, and usually in even more danger, with the gangs, the politicians, and the law all working together against them.

Another, even more likely scenario that can threaten the retreat is as follows:  right now our climate is changing literally year by year. I don't care whether one believes it is caused by nature or humans or both, BTW.  It is still demonstrably changing, whatever the cause, and areas that are fertile now may be subject to periodic flooding, destructive storms or prolonged droughts in five or ten years.  The prudent survivalist will be sure to store away enough seeds to plant at least two years worth of crops in case the first year's crop fails due to weather beyond the farmer's control.  Once you are producing crops regularly, you are still vulnerable, since you are relying on each year's crop to provide the seeds for next year's planting (assuming you are smart enough not to get your seeds from Monsanto, with the terminator gene that only allows a single year's crop, which will produce seeds that are sterile and can't be used the next year - ah, the glories of the free market).   So, what happens if you have two years or more of crop failures due to drought, excessive rain and severe storms, or flooding?  The chance of finding yourself locked away in your retreat living on what little is left of your preserved food is very real (farms fail every year, even with all of the modern equipment and expert knowledge).  Even if you do still have "seed corn" left, you might find that your once fertile retreat is now turning into desert before your eyes.  Dig down in much of our fertile mid-western soil, and you only have to go a few inches to hit sand - from what was a massive desert in the not so distant past.  At what point does a retreat become a death trap?

The ability to live entirely in the wilderness, carrying a minimum of tools and other equipment on your back, and being able to forage, hunt, and trap, is a lifestyle that can allow you to survive indefinitely.  It is certainly true that early hunter-gatherers had a short life span, but then 19th Century pioneers had on average a lifespan somewhere in the mid or late 40s - far lower than their city counterparts folk back in the East.  On the other hand, early hunter-gatherers and 19th Century homesteaders did not have the advantage of the current state of the art in our accumulated knowledge, equipment, and other advantages.  Today, there is no reason, outside of a disease or injury that we can't treat ourselves, that a person or a family living off the land will have their life spans significantly shortened. And that type of injury or disease is just as threatening in a retreat.

Living off the land does not mean that you hump through the boonies every day and make a temporary camp each night.  Once a suitable spot is found, sufficiently deep in the wilderness, you can live for a couple of weeks or months in the camp - at least until you have exhausted the local edible flora and fauna, or worry that staying in one spot too long might increase the danger of being found.  Indeed, the great majority of your time will be spent in camp - though not a permanent one as in a retreat.  Also, it is far better to avoid confrontation than to court it and risk losing to stronger and equally well-armed attackers.

As far as age is concerned, my fascination with backpacking and living off the land started when I was 15 and in High School, and continues to this day.  My wife and I manage to get in two extended wilderness trips of at least a month (or more if time permits), on average, every year.  We hike primarily in the Canadian North Woods, The Rockies, and the southwestern deserts. (Though one year we decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine - all without re-supplying even when passing close to towns just off the trail.) 

I am 63 years old and my wife is 65, but we work hard every year to stay in maximal condition (I have a resting heart rate in the 40s) and can still carry packs with weights only slightly less than when we were first married, though we tend to stop hiking and make camp about a half-hour earlier than in our early years. Luckily, there is a great array of equipment and food significantly lighter in weight than when I started.  And, although we have no children ourselves, we have known numerous other couples who found that taking children, even those under 10 years of age, on extended wilderness forays was not hard on the kids.  In fact, the kids usually enjoyed it so much that many of them, when they grew older, joined the 'movement.'  So, there is no reason that wilderness living won't provide multi-generational safety, let alone be unsuited to children, with the exception of the very young.

Again, my original point was not dismissive of hunkering down in the city or living in or bolting to a well-stocked retreat.  It was just that, no matter what sort of short term, long term, or permanent breakdown of society we encounter, it can be survived in surprising comfort if you have the skills, knowledge, experience, and equipment to simply walk away into the wilderness and wait out the crisis.  I offer up advice on living off the land in the wilderness for extended periods - years or longer -  but I also make the point that, once you learn to be comfortable living off the land, you have developed all the survival skills and equipment you need to get through shorter periods of collapse (though not nearly as 'cushy' as barricading yourself into a city apartment or enjoying all of the amenities of a retreat.  If the grid were to go down nationwide, my wife and I would be out of Dodge within an hour, and totally lost to the rest of the world in another two or three hours.  Not a bad alternative arrow to carry around in your quiver of survival techniques.

So, following this post, whether you are in agreement that there is some advantage to "the ultimate survival strategy" or prefer some cushier levels of survival methodologies that are still dependent on a significant amount of technology and less-than-infinite stored supplies, I will continue posting some of the gear I routinely carry when alone or with my wife in the wilderness. First off, is communications and power - though these are serious advantages, most of this equipment can be easily abandoned to lighten the load if necessary.

Best Regards, - Blue Sun

Hi Jim,
I wholeheartedly agree with using silver spoons daily.

At issue with the article is the fact that many people have misconceptions about colloidal silver including F.J.B.  It should not be consumed internally.  Gargling or swishing around the mouth is fine, as is using it in a nasal sprayer for the sinuses and nasal passages.  Swallowing colloidal silver, however, is not advised.  The problem is that the elemental silver reacts with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach to produce silver chloride which does not have any of the sought after properties the the metallic silver has.  It will however contribute to argyria. Colloidal silver should be used topically to control infection. 

Additionally, it is not made properly by running a small current through water.  It can be made at home, but requires a decidedly more difficult method.  Page 320 of "General Chemistry"  5th Edition by Nebergall, Schmidt & Holttzclaw states that the colloid is prepared by drawing an electric arc with silver electrodes under water.  The vapor condenses to particles of colloidal size.  The "Bredig Arc" is drawn with 5-10 amperes at 30-to-40 volts DC.  

There has been a very large contingent of people espousing the idea that a small current derived from batteries will produce a proper colloid.  This is simply not true.  Commercially prepared colloidal silver has a clear golden color.  If a preparation is water clear and /or milky in color, then it is not colloidal silver.

Lastly, Sterling Silver is alloyed with 7.5% copper, not nickel. [JWR Adds: I've already corrected that post.]

Sincerely, - Ray K.


Mr. Rawles:
Just a quick comment on  The Case For Silver Spoons, by F.J.B.:

We purchased our Big Berkey [ceramic water filter] in 1999 and have used it daily since.  My husband began "storing" a few .999 fine silver bars in the bottom.  The bars still sparkle, the water tastes fine, and we have had no major sicknesses like the flu in over 10 years. - Grace H.

Bob G. suggested this video: Faraday Cage: Garbage Can, Really?

   o o o

An interesting report: Liquid Sunshine Small Scale Alcohol Production in Local Communities

   o o o

IBD Editorial: Was Fast and Furious a Gun-Control Plot?

   o o o

Reader Matt H. wrote to mention this about camouflage: "I escaped the Southern California fires a couple of years age by driving a white pickup and wearing a hard hat and safety vest. Without faking logos or otherwise impersonating, I outwardly looked like any of many utility, CalTrans [highway department] or company trucks in the area. I was able to drive straight through, past California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers, all the way to Arizona and beyond."

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent a link to this troubling piece: The Post-Antibiotic Age

Hi, Jim,
It has been two years since I first wrote you about discovering your books and web site.  I start every day by reading the posts on your SurvivalBlog, without fail.  You have provided an invaluable tool and gift for readers.  What a blessing you have given so freely to others.  Thank you and God bless you for all that you do.  May you always have dry ammo and socks.
In the last week there have been several posts and subsequent replies that have really caught my attention, “Hunter-Gatherer Mobile Survival by Blue Sun” and “Lessons From Life On The Edge by Tim K”.   I also recently watched “Doomsday Preppers” and the new season of “Dual Survival” on television.   All of these have gotten me thinking a lot about the various approaches to “Survival” and the mindsets therein.  There really seems to be two main camps when it comes to surviving.  One being the “deep larder retreat” and the other being “head to the hills”.   The retreat mindset is the more prominent, safest and wisest, whereas the bugging out to the boonies is the stepchild, distant second cousin, often mocked ugly elephant in the room.
As I watched “Doomsday Preppers” I kept thinking, for the most part, awesome, good, and excellent, etc and I agreed with the “experts” analysis of each.  However, what stuck out to me was whether each of the groups would be able to do what Tim K. (Life On The Edge) found himself having to do?  Other than the vet and maybe one of the guys in his group, I think not.  As I have read the posts on your site over the years I keep coming up with this same dilemma.  Excellent, awesome advice and suggestions if you (1) have a retreat, (2) have the money,  (3) are able to get to your retreat and (4) are able to just stay at your retreat.  But I keep seeing real weakness or lack of creditability given to the ugly elephant nobody really wants to have to think about.  When there is a post about backpacking, bugging out to the boonies, surviving off the land, etc I keep seeing a quick knee jerk to discredit the concept or polite lip service being dished out.
I have family members that are or have been in the military going all the way back to the Revolutionary War.  Why would the military put the recruits through such rigorous training in less than ideal circumstances if it were not one of the most important anything’s out there?  Basic hardcore survival skills are critical.  Could all these people with their deep larder retreats turn into a Tim K., Cody Lundin, Dave Canterbury, Bear Grylls, or Les Stroud if need be?  Or even get remotely close to real surviving?  I have found myself in a similar situation to Tim K. and have had to learn “Lessons From Life On the Edge” the hard way.  He may have started out with nothing but his ability to do some “critical thinking” enabled him to acquire items that would seriously help him out in a survival situation.  Don’t get me wrong I believe 100% that the retreat approach and stuff therein is invaluable and the way to go under “ideal” circumstances when life is less than ideal.   But I think people are developing a habit of relying way too much on their “stuff”.  Yes, it gives you peace of mind and a sense of security but so does having the other mindset.  You need both. 
I readily admit I have come into the prepping movement completely backwards compared to the mass majority of people and usually keep my opinions to myself, knowing that I am not a part of the popular herd of people.  I came from a background of doing a lot with a little.  Later in life, I started acquiring the stuff that makes life easier.  To me the later are luxuries.  In my younger days, I lived out of a backpack for two solid years while traveling throughout the Northeast & Canada utilizing the barest of food caches/ “resupply” every couple of weeks.  I did not have or use a tent, GPS, water filter, cell phone, MREs, toilet paper or all the other things that make life a lot more comfortable.  For the next 10 years I made it into a profession.  What I learned and developed in those two years are critically invaluable to me.
I invested in myself first and developed skill, common sense, know-how, strength, courage and a sense of well being that is still with me 25 years later.  I know what Tim K. spoke of, and he like I, will always get where we are going.  We will always survive and make it.  Will you?  You need to have both mindsets.  Both are invaluable and neither should be overlooked or down played.  Critical thinking is the key to both approaches.  A deep larder retreat is ideal and absolutely the way I would choose if I were always in a position of choice. 
Unfortunately, there will be many that this approach may not be a choice for them.  Knowing some very basic skills and critical thinking might just get them a little further down the road, might give them half a chance.  Why discredit the possibility of making it with little to nothing in an outdoor situation.  It drives me nuts when the concept of having to survive in the boonies comes up and people immediately jump to the conclusion that it is impossible, crazy, or that they’re disillusioned.   Sounds like a beer bellied weekend warrior/hunter to me.  I taught soft city people the basics for years and no one died or starved to death.
Don’t get soft just because you have thousands of dollars worth of stuff and a safe place to hang out.  Run the scenario of what if you found yourself in the situation where you had nothing and no place to go?  What would you do?  Where would you go?  What five items are the most critical to have?  If you had only a day pack to survive long term, what would you take?  Me, I would have kept the screwdriver.  Why not allow the less fortunate, less prepared, less financially able people half an ounce of hope?  Why not leave the possibility open?  Why not devote some blog space or time to the hard survival skills?  I know there are other bloggers out there with good ideas or experience on how to make a lot out of a little.  Why not share with others some of the most basic of basics in hopes that it just might help someone else.  Something is better than nothing.  Those that have hope are not disillusioned. - An Outward Bound Prepper

"In order for this economy to become balanced again would require consumer debt to be reduced by $3 to $4 trillion and the savings rate to double from 5% to 10%. This will never happen voluntarily. Americans are still delusional. They are actually increasing their debt as credit card debt sits at $790 billion, student loan debt at $1 trillion, auto loans at $600 billion, and mortgage debt at $13.8 trillion. The debt will not decline until an economic Depression wipes out banks and consumers alike. America will go down with a bang, not a whimper." - Jim Quinn, writing in The Burning Platform blog.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Breaking News: Nuclear accident may be imminent as flood berm bursts at Fort Calhoun Nebraska nuclear plant.


Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In March I was traveling on business when the earthquake/tsunami struck Japan.  My brother was in Japan at the time on business travel.  My brother finally made it home five days after the earthquake struck.  Meanwhile I was in Israel when the rockets from Gaza started up again, and a bombing occurred at the Jerusalem bus stop.  We both travel considerably throughout the world, and have often discussed preparations during travel for emergencies.  My brother is less concerned about preparations at home, but our experiences have convinced him over time on the need for backup options when away from home.  We have learned several lessons over the years that might be worth considering if work or pleasure takes you far from home base.

I like to travel light, so the amount of gear I carry is carefully evaluate and screened.  The other factor is that I often travel to foreign countries which scrutinize or control what articles I can or choose to carry.  Many times I’m in environments where theft is a major concern, so I’ve also learned to minimize the temptation, and have chosen gear that is inexpensive but reliable.  Over the years I’ve found several items and ideas that have worked well for me in surviving tsunami threats, earthquakes, and civil unrest. 

I keep several small sources of light – all of them LED-based, with spare batteries.  I prefer pen-lights with single LEDs which run on the very small coin batteries, and a larger, aluminum “fist-pack” lamp that runs on a few AAA batteries.  Smaller batteries provide long lifetime while minimizing weight.  I also buy (and confirm) that the lights I carry are waterproof.  Power outages are common around the world, even when no natural disaster has occurred.  Stumbling about in the dark in a strange room or building will slow you down and invite injury.

Security is the main concern in my travel, so self-defense options are given attention in my travel preparations.  Most countries do not allow non-residents (or even their residents, for that matter) to carry firearms, and I don’t trust prying eyes in my bags to keep my weapons secure, so traveling with a firearm is not an option.  Instead, I keep two simple knifes with me – one utilitarian for everyday carry and use, the other more defensive in purpose.  Both are small, discrete, and functional.  A small knife sharpener is also valuable and easy to include.  The utility knife is used daily and fortunately the defensive weapon has never been deployed.

I used to carry a small, two ounce canister of pepper spray for security as well but have not bothered with it in the last few years.  Some countries have restrictions on sprays such as this so spend time investigating local laws before you enter.  Instead, I often will move furniture around and position a chair at the door to help in an unwanted room entry. 

A small bottle of water purification tablets is also standard carry for me, while my brother carries a small filter “straw” device for purifying water.  These are very important and priceless when natural disaster strike, even in a well developed country like Japan where citizens are often less prepared for the unexpected.  I believe a traveler is most vulnerable to water availability and should keep this item in the forefront of their consciousness, even in modern countries.  Bottled water was the first item to disappear from stores in Japan within minutes of the March earthquake.

The only other “must have” emergency gear I carry includes: plenty of reading materials, my camera, ear plugs, packages of Tic-Tacs or gum, extra toilet paper, and a small compass.  A couple of cheap, disposable, paperback books that are interesting and easy to read are invaluable after the initial emergency when circumstances keep you in a “hurry and wait” holding pattern.  I also keep a small copy of the New Testament (and Old Testament when in Israel).  I keep at least one Louis L ‘Amour novel because they are small and easy to read, and because when I’m done they have wide appeal to someone else waiting with me, even in other countries.  The tic-tacs and gum keep my mouth occupied and refreshed after stale, purified water and also are a valuable pacifier for children in a traumatized crowd.  The tic-tacs are small and numerous, so many children can be quieted for little expense or hassle.  A small gift in my opinion always works better than scolding looks from others to quiet a youngster, and always brings a very heartfelt smile from a distraught mother or grandparent.  Orange tic-tacs are the best option as they resemble candy more than medication. 

The compass is another no-brainer for me when trying to sort out location or travel.  It is very helpful in keeping a bearing when in a strange city, and doesn’t require batteries.  GPS receivers are useful, but too needy for me in an emergency.  My brother travels with his, but in Japan he couldn’t work it reliably for him to navigate with and so it became dead weight.  He also discovered that in some countries, the GPS automatically reverted to local language options, and since he can’t read Japanese or Czech, it took some time to fiddle with to revert back to English.  If you do carry GPS, get to know it well – especially it’s most basic and most exotic features. 

I love maps, and have the curious habit of gathering them up as I travel – to help me move about and to help me remember the trip.  Most hotels have basic, complementary maps available.  If your hotel doesn’t, one of the other hotels in the area will, and they are often eager to give them out to future customers.  I’ve never found good maps in English at local bookstores in the area I’m staying.  If you want a detailed map of the area, I suggest buying one in the United States before you travel.  At the end of a trip, I’ll file my best maps away for future travel, and also make notes about favorite things or places I went, as well as a list of places to visit if/when I return to that area.

I always carry a camera with extra memory and battery for obvious travel use, and to help me improve my memory in the field.  A snapshot of a street sign, posted map, or storefront is a big help getting directions from a 50 year old Chinese man who speaks little English.  The extra memory also is important for saving business data.  Most of my international travel is for business, and in an emergency I am not willing to carry my laptop around unless it is easy to do so.  I keep important data backed up on a small flash-drive, and in a real pinch, can quickly remove the hard drive from the system if I do have to get out lightly so I don’t loose the important information.  Remember to keep the camera discretely tucked away when not in use to avoid drawing the label as tourist.  I’ve never had problems with taxi drivers when I first snap a picture of their cab’s license plate before getting in.

Finally, I keep several quart and gallon size Ziploc bags with me at all times.  The bags protect my camera and batteries, and also work well to protect my wallet, maps, and other fragile items in normal, daily outings.  Their value in an emergency should also be obvious for carrying/treating water, food, and other necessities.

I travel with a shoulder-bag that doubles as my BOB on daily excursions.  Unless I’m to be in-country for an extended period of time, I do not carry a cell phone.  In an emergency they usually don’t work reliably, and if I do need to make a call, I have easily found help from someone nearby who has always lent me their phone.  This probably doesn’t make sense to everyone, but it is my personal preference.  It has also forced me to become better adept at using local phone services, phone cards, and communications options.  I believe a little extra effort and experience are much more valuable than convenience.  Maybe I just had too much trouble figuring out the foreign cell phone operations.

Besides these emergency items, I also make it a point to carry plenty of prescription medication and pain relief medicines – at least twice as much as my trip would call for.  For years I carried a small tube of oral numbing gel, and when I finally needed it I was happy to have it.  Ear plugs are another valuable item I keep, to help sleep and just keep out noise in general (the tic-tacs don’t last forever!).  Finding a pharmacy is very difficult when afflicted in a foreign land.

I also carry plenty of cash, and keep half in US Dollars and half in local currency.  As bad as the US Dollar is getting lately in world economics, it is still the currency of choice in 99% of the world’s local markets and has more power in negotiations than most local currencies.    One last suggestion is to keep a small phrase book of the local language handy.  It is good practice to pickup conversational skills with the locals and is very rewarding.  The phrase book will make it easy and quickly expand your ability to enjoy where you are at.  Find one you can use and operate well.  Most books I’ve seen are not well designed for constant, daily use.

Other honorable mentions for gear are 10’ of paracord, a few feet of rescue tape, and a small inflatable pillow (the type that fits around your neck).  None of the showers I used at any of the 8 hotels I stayed at on my last trip to Israel worked properly.  All of the rooms had the “wand” showerheads in them which all seemed to work, so for the entire trip I used the paracord to tie the wand up to the main showerhead.  The rescue tape worked even better to hold the wand in place.  A nice shower is critical to enjoy extended travel.

While gear is important, plans, behavior, awareness, and trust in the Lord are vital. 

Once I’ve arrived in country I take several steps to prepare before beginning my work.  I secure several liters of bottled water in my room.  Most hotels are willing to provide free water, and at the end of my stay I return the extra bottles not consumed.  Many local markets will also sell bottled water, but be aware sometimes they are not bottled sanitarily or reliability.  Getting extra water on hand – at least twice what I’d normally use in a day is a big, first priority.  Another suggestion is to get a bottle or two of soda.  I prefer Sprite, which gives a little more than just hydration, and works well to sooth an upset stomach.   Also, I ask for an extra blanket from the hotel to keep in my room, wither I need it or not.  I also gather some extra calories to keep on-hand.  I have a big family, and when I travel it is now customary for Dad to bring home candy from the country I visit.  It is a simple treat for the kids.  At my first option during my trip, I go out and buy this load of candy and keep it on-hand.  I expect I could easily get buy on the candy for several days in a real pinch.

This candy/calorie loading was an important step for my brother in Japan.  On his arrival, he took this water and food step immediately and had a good cache on-hand when the earthquake hit the next day.  After the hotel stopped swaying and he finished his prayers, he headed down to the street to look around and get more food.  The convenience stores all around Tokyo were swamped, and shelves empty within an hour.  Fortunately the Japanese are known for their patience and calm personalities, so there was little panic other than the frantic search for food.  That night, his hotel was full of stranded business people sleeping on the floor in the lobby, restaurants, and hallways.  His meager room felt like a palace.

My first trip in Israel, arriving at the airport on a Saturday I’d underestimated my ability to get a meal in the less populated area I planned to stay that first night.  I had arrived at the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath which is observed throughout the country and by many of the hotels, too.   The candy bars I had on-hand was good enough for the day and the lesson learned has lasted much longer.  The trains had also stopped running, so my backup travel option was needed.

As I mentioned before, personal security during travel deserves highest consideration.  In general, keep aware of your surroundings, keep a low profile (even as a tourist), ensure your own security in your room and hotel, and mind your back.  One idea is to keep a couple of the small, adhesive alarms on your windows and door.  They are easy and disposable if you want to do more than keep chairs in the hall between you and the door.  Hotel security and location should be considered thoroughly.

Whenever staying at a hotel or when I find a good restaurant, I always collect a business card from the front desk.  I keep these cards on-hand as I travel because they are very valuable to communicate with a taxi driver.  The cards typically have the business’s name, location, and information in the local language, and so in a new taxi I simply pull out the appropriate card to indicate where I’d like to go.

My most important resource in traveling (besides contact with the Almighty) is to have several “quality” contacts locally.  Usually my travel is sponsored – with locals expecting and needing me to be there.  Upon arrival, I work hard to create and maintain a good relationship with various people, not just those I work with.  This takes some tact and discretion, because often some locals are looking for an easy mark.  I try to take co-workers and others I’m fostering contact with out to dinner – they often know the best local places to eat any way which works great for me, and the extra expense is a pittance.  When we are comfortable working together I ask about using them as an emergency contact, and keeping daily or regular contact with them during my stay.  Usually they are very flattered and agreeable with this.  I cannot stress enough how valuable even a single local person can be to keep on top of local factors, and as an immediate source of help in an emergency.  People are people everywhere, and quality people throughout the world are eager and willing to help others in a crisis.  Find some common interests, beliefs, or experiences.  Many of my foreign contacts have also traveled previously to these United States, so my efforts screening and fostering mutual trust can begin here on native soil.

Working with Chinese and other Asian cultures, guan zhou (sp?), “giving face” is very important in relationships.  This consists of giving honor, notability, and recognition even in small ways to a friend or host.  Working through friends is very important.  Look for ways to let your local contact help you, and then thank them in front of their peers and supervisors, but also let them see you mention their help in front of your peers and supervisors.  In a small village of 8 million people an hour’s distance from Shanghai, I planned to buy pearls locally for my wife and daughters on a trip.  I asked my local contact to find a source for me, which of course he had already.  Not only did I get high quality merchandise brought at my convenience, but with my poor Chinese language skills coupled with my contact being involved in the transactions (he was on my mobile phone, while I negotiated with his friend who spoke no English) I received very good “friend” prices on the goods.  The best part was that both the seller and my local contact were very pleased with their side of the transactions.  I took my co-worker out to dinner with his family and supervisor at a fantastic restaurant they knew of, and the extra cost to me came to $7 USD.  I also made sure to recommend both men to other co-workers interested in similar deals.  Win-win and they were very happy.  This is just a simple example but went a long way to my safety and the quality of my stay that trip.

Middle Eastern cultures are more subtle to understand, but everyone loves food and asking locals to take me to their favorite falafel or local cuisine has worked well to help me build working relations of trust.  Most folks I’ve worked with have friends or family that drive taxi, so as I need a car I work with those I know.  This can be very tricky, though, so make sure you have enough confidence in your local friend before ever opening that door.  Many family members drive taxi, but many are also unreliable, undirectionable, and more expensive than they are worth.  My recommendation is to stick with food as a means of establishing a relationship that you can rely on when an emergency strikes.

I do not drink alcohol but travel with colleagues which do, and I have always been grateful for the trouble and risks I’ve avoided by abstaining.  Alcohol is a high-risk factor in life, and even more so during travel.

One other thought is to pick up a sack of small candy bars at Wal-Mart before your travel, and when you find local co-workers have children (or if invited to meet their families), you have a small, simple present for the kids.  This really endures parents to you.  Make sure only to have just the right amount with you, though, because the children will not let you leave with leftovers! 

One trip in Mexico we took small bottles of bubbles and candy bars for the kids, and made the mistake of opening them up in a semi-public area.  The six children and their parents (family of the local friend we were staying with) rushed us, to get handfuls of each.  Some neighborhood women must have sensed the presents, and soon we were literally surrounded – we counted at least 25 people!  Of course soon the goods were all gone, and some kids didn’t get any.  Mothers and fathers got testy, and wanted something – the situation started to turn ugly.  Our host was very distraught by his neighbor’s behavior, but couldn’t do much.  The adults wanted paper, pens, even our dirty laundry in a bag – something for their child!  Fortunately we didn’t have our belongings or equipment with us (keeping a low profile) and finally the group left, disgusted.  Instead of being a gesture of friendship the situation backfired and while our friendship remains, I don’t rely on that contact for an emergency need.

Two notes of caution here – I never establish these contacts with females (being a man, myself), and I rarely will rely on local help for medical issues.  The female part goes without saying – I’m happily married and any questionable contacts add to personal risk.  Medical advice, even from ‘professionals’ in many countries can be very risky, too.  So many local remedies or “Aunt Bibi’s herbal poultice” can add up to real hurt in a hurry.  For example, I had an upset stomach in the Philippines - nothing extremely serious, though very uncomfortable.  My sprite at dinner had come with a lot of ice that I didn’t take notice of (it was the first night in country).  Ice is made with local water, and local water is a no-no.  Working with my local co-worker, he put me in touch with their family’s “doctor”.  This doctor informed me that my troubles were not caused by the ice/water (which she said was very safe), but was caused by my eating both oily food with sweet food.  She was horrified that I had eaten both oily food (fried chicken) with sugary sprite, and had used salt in the same meal! That made me smile.  After all, I’m an American – most of our meals are based on these key ingredients.  Thanking the doctor for her sage wisdom, I found a pharmacy with Imodium AD and any international crisis was averted.

Much more could be said about emergency needs and tips during travel; these are a few ideas that have worked (and are currently working in the field) with me.  In closing I will disclose the greatest piece of gear I carry and that is of faith.  No hardware (gear) or software (knowledge) are as valuable as the Lord.  Trusting in His arm is the surest chance of safety and peace in this life and the next.

When not traveling overseas it is easy to keep my travel bag in my daily commuter vehicle to have on-hand while in-country.  It makes for good practice in using and relying on these items, and keeps my perishable stocks up-to-date.  Hopefully these ideas and experiences have given you food for thought.  My travels have been very rewarding, enriching, and gratefully very positive.

I have literally lost count over the years, as to how many Ruger Mini-14s I've owned - however, I think it's safe to say, I've probably owned a couple dozen Mini-14s. No, I don't collect them, but I've owned quite a few of 'em since they first came on the scene. At present, ironically, I don't own a Mini-14. But I do keep notes on how guns shoot when I did own them - it comes with the turf being a gun writer.

One of the gals who regularly reads Survivalblog, e-mailed me a couple weeks ago, and asked me to write about the Ruger Mini-14. I'm happy to give my two-cents worth. And, remember, when it comes to firearms, it's a pretty subjective thing. I've giving you my take on guns, after being a gun owner for more than 40-yrs and a gun writer for close to 20-years. Still, you are getting my opinion and nothing more. I really like the Mini-14, I think they are a fun gun to shoot. They are light-weight, most weighing in around 6.5-lbs to 7-lbs, depending on which model you choose and the density of the stock's wood. They are also a handy rifle to carry in your pick-up truck, and I've seen a lot of farmers and ranchers with Mini-14s in the rifle rack of their trucks. When it comes to shooting varmints, the Mini-14 is a mighty fine gun to have around, to be sure.

There have been quite a few iterations of the Mini-14 over the years, and I've lost track of how many different versions have been made. For the purpose of this article, we'll keep the discussion down to the standard and Ranch rifle versions of the Mini-14, and in .223 Remington/5.56mm calibers. The Mini-14s I've owned have either been the standard version or the Ranch Rifle version. The Ranch Rifle comes with rings for mounting a scope, and it has a fold-down rear sight. Therein is one of the problems I've had with the Ranch rifles - the rear sights have all been extremely fragile and break - I've lost count of the number of rear sights I've replaced on the Ranch Rifles I've owned over the years.

I prefer the standard version of the Mini-14 over the Ranch Rifle. I don't mind the "iron" sights in the least - they are quite functional and easy to use. The 18.5" and 16.5" factory barrels on the Mini are more than adequate for their intended purpose, too. However, I like to see a heavier barrel and better bedding on the standard versions of the Mini - just because I think they can do better in the accuracy department. Every Mini I've owned over the years was 4 MOA, at best. While, this may be good enough for combat at close range, I think Ruger can do better and really close those groups up quite a bit. Because of the accuracy issue, I don't think the Mini is useful much beyond 200 yards in a combat/survival scenario.

The early Mini-14s had steel butt plates, the newer ones have a plastic butt plate. And, the versions with synthetic stocks have a rubber butt plate, which really hugs the shoulder when you get it up to shoot - I like that. Also, the early Mini-14s had an upper forearm that was made of wood - which would get extremely hot when doing a lot of rapid-fire. The new Minis all have a plastic upper forearms, that allow for rapid cooling during rapid-fire.

I like the M1 Garand-style action on the Ruger Mini-14. It's a minimally-fouling piston system, that I've never seen fail on any Mini. I also like the Garand style safety - inside the trigger guard - where you can push it off safe, and onto fire in a split second. make no mistake, the Mini-14 is a very reliable little shooter. Where I've run into problems with the Mini is, when I've used cheap, after-market magazines. The Mini-14 comes with a 5 round magazine. This is fine for hunting. But for self-defense and survival purposes, you need either a 20 or preferably a 30 round magazine. Until recently, you simply couldn't buy Ruger-made 20 or 30 round magazines - they were restricted (by Ruger) to law enforcement sales only. [JWR Adds: Thankfully, that bit of political correctness faded away after Bill Ruger passed away.] The good news is that, Ruger is now selling their 20 and 30 round magazines to the public, and they are outstanding mags, to be sure. The only complaint I have is that they retail for $39.95 for 20 rounders and $49.95 for 30 rounders. That's spendy, no matter how you look at it.

Over the years, there have been a lot of after-market 20 and 30 round magazines for the Mini-14. Sad to say, most were simply junk! And, most of the after-market Mini magazines I've run across don't even have the makers name stamped on them. I surmise they were too ashamed to let people know they were making such cruddy magazines. Some of the worst Mini magazines I've run across were either USA brand or Federal Ordnance brand. Steer clear of most aftermarket magazines! And, you can easily spot those magazines - they aren't well heat-treated, and you can easily bend the feed lips with your fingers - not a good thing. Remember, if you don't have reliable magazines for any semi-auto firearm, you basically have a hard-to-load single-shot gun - just that simple. [JWR Adds: When buying magazines for any gun that you might someday use for self defense, procure only top quality magazines. Do not put you life at risk by saving few dollars on "bargain" magazines!]

I used to pick up like-new Mini-14s at gun shows for $150 - $250 each. Sad to say, those days are long gone. A used Mini-14 will set you back around $500 - $600 these days, at least here in Oregon. Furthermore, brand-new Mini-14s start around $750 and go up to almost $1,000 today. I have a problem with that - for that kind of money, I can go out and purchase some type of AR-15 style rifle. Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the Mini, that can't be corrected. However, if I were shopping around for a survival rifle, that had to save my bacon, I'd rather go with some type of AR over the Mini-14. [JWR Adds: I concur. Parts availability and an accuracy dictate that!]

Another problem that comes with owning a Mini-14 is spare parts. Have you ever tried to get a simple firing pin from Ruger? Can't be done, you have to send the rifle in to Ruger and they'll fit it. I'm not aware of anyone making an after-market firing pin for the Mini. Some parts can be purchased from Ruger, or after-market makers. However, I really like the idea of having a spare firing pin for my semi-auto rifles, and this isn't a problem with ARs - you can get 'em at any one of a dozen after-market makers or even directly from the factory. Now, with that said, I've never had a firing pin break in any Mini-14 I've ever owned.

The Ruger Mini-14 is easy to operate, too - just load-up a mag, insert it in the gun and draw back the slide handle and chamber a round. And, if you happen to have some kind of malfunction, it's easier to clear than one on in an AR. The Mini is also easier to clean than an AR is - and that's a good thing.

If I were looking to purchase some kind of .223 Rem/5.56mm rifle for the end of the world, survival purposes or "whatever" may come my way, then I'd pick-up an AR of some type over a Mini-14. However, whenever I run across an Mini-14 that is priced "right" I'm a sucker and will snap it up. The Mini-14 is a lot of fun to shoot and they handle nicely, too. Many females prefer the Mini over an AR. I think that black guns intimidate gals for some reason. Maybe it's the "evil" look of an AR, and maybe it's because the Mini handles better in the hands of someone who isn't all that experienced with pistol grip rifles.

Don't take what I'm saying as a strong criticism of the Ruger Mini-14, as I said, I really like the Mini, and if my local gun shop had one in decent shape, that was priced right, I'd buy it today. I'd also take a Mini-14 over an M1 Carbine any day of the week. While I know there are a lot of military vets who served with the M1 Carbine, it's just doesn't have the knock-down power that the .223 Remington/5.56mm round has. The Mini-14 is a lot of fun, when it's all said and done. And, if you happen to run across a good deal on a Mini-14, pick it up. You can always use it to help supplement your battery. You can give it to someone who isn't all that familiar with firearms in an end of the world scenario and you don't have to spend a lot of time explaining how the gun operates - as opposed to an AR-15.

You can do a lot worse than a Mini-14, and if they are to your liking, I have no problem with that. Ruger makes good guns - just that simple. However, I think there is room for improvement on the Mini-14, and the accuracy is one area that I'd like to see some closer attention paid by Ruger. I also think that Ruger could do better on the price of their 20 and 30 round factory Mini-14 magazines.

So, if you have a Mini-14, or are looking to purchase one, then have at it. They are a lot of fun. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Mr. Rawles,
Thanks for the extraordinary services you provide and for being so generous with your time.

The subject of this letter has to do with a recent article on survivalblog in which the author explained the benefits of searching for homesteads using free, online resources such as Google Earth.

I recently bought and moved to a rural property. This was the culmination of over two years' hunting for good homesteads at a fair price. So when I came across this place, I knew it was a bargain.

In my searches, I found other rich sources of information: especially interactive maps provided by county governments, with detailed info on specific properties. Such as the name of the owner(s) of record.

Real estate sites such as Zillow.com provided lots of information about specific properties, especially the locations and photos of homes and lots for sale. In my searches, I viewed many pics of people's living rooms, bedrooms, rec rooms, offices, bathrooms, driveways, basements, back yards, decks, garages, and so on. Descriptions written by sellers and their agents provided additional info such as "seller is motivated" and "house cannot be seen from the road."

So I agree with the author that free, online resources are a great resource for us preppers.

But there is a dark side of this technology. The resources I used to find my homestead are available to anyone else, right now. Think about that. I don't even want to state the implications of that, outright.

How can one "disappear" a property from the ever-growing online database of aerial photos and data? - Dubya in Tennessee

Reader V.T.P. mention a new documentary coming up on the National Geographic cable television channel: Doomsday Preppers. It first airs tonight. (Monday, June 27 at 8 p.m. in the U.S.) Judging from the preview clip, it looks great. I would be very surprised to hear that the folks profiled aren't SurvivalBlog readers.

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I recently bought a few olive drab MOLLE shotshell pouches from a small mailorder company in Florida called Omega Zombie. I was quite impressed with both the quality of their products and their customer service. And, BTW, I noticed that they also sell their gear on eBay.

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Frequent content contributor Steven M. flagged this: Seven Deadliest Arrow Poisons on Earth

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Just a brief reminder that the deadline for the Ready Made Resources Preparedness Video Contest is July 26th. Instructional (nonfiction) videos on any topic related to family preparedness are sought. The prizes are a brand new Rock Rivers Arms (RRA) Elite Comp M4 (AR-15 series compatible ) complete Barreled Upper Receiver and a Trijicon Reflex sight with a combined retail value of more than $1,400. Please keep your privacy in mind when you create your videos. (Don't mention any surnames or towns). You may post up to three videos to YouTube for consideration in the judging. Videos up to 10 minute long that are your original work that are already posted to YouTube are also eligible for the judging. To enter, e-mail the URL for video(s) to: grisrob@gmail.com. Do not send the videos themselves or links to videos stored at other web sites. Only nonfiction videos that you post to YouTube are eligible. The creator of the best video will win a brand new a brand new complete Rock Rivers Arms (RRA) Elite Comp M4 (AR-15 series compatible ) Barreled Upper Receiver and a Trijicon Reflex sight. The deadline or posting videos is July 26th. The video judged best will be announced on Monday August 1st, 2011.

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Bob S. spotted this: Doctor as renegade -- accepts cash, checks, eggs or pie, not insurance

"It’s a good thing Syria has gun control; otherwise the citizen-slaughtering troops could get hurt." - From a collection of reader comments to the East Valley Tribune, Arizona. (This quote comes to us courtesy of Alphecca.com)

"In order for this economy to become balanced again would require consumer debt to be reduced by $3 to $4 trillion and the savings rate to double from 5% to 10%. This will never happen voluntarily. Americans are still delusional. They are actually increasing their debt as credit card debt sits at $790 billion, student loan debt at $1 trillion, auto loans at $600 billion, and mortgage debt at $13.8 trillion. The debt will not decline until an economic Depression wipes out banks and consumers alike. America will go down with a bang, not a whimper." - Jim Quinn, writing in The Burning Platform blog

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 don’t have much money to spend on prepping this year as some poor financial decisions in my past are still haunting me.  However, I did decide that I would put forth as much effort as I could to learning the skills needed to survive the nearing collapse.  I already have a few days of fishing in this year and going with experienced fisherman has taught me a lot.  I have also applied for all licenses that I could in hopes to enhance my already solid skills with hunting, and I have been learning all I can about trapping as that only increases your chances at catching game.  Although most of my goals with improving skills around feeding my family protein won’t happen until September 1st, I have decided to really get serious around learning how to garden. 

Turn back the clock and as a child I was raised with a garden in the family growing up in Massachusetts.   It was about a quarter acre and it provided us with most of our vegetables for the year.  Last year, I dabbled with the garden, growing a few tomato plants, herbs, chilies, and broccoli.  This year, I ripped out the large flower garden from the previous owner and am going full force.  I used a Sonnylight indoor grow light to get my seeds started while it was still snowing out.  Started Cantaloupe, Zucchini, broccoli, chilies, basil, cilantro, and butternut squash inside where the temperatures are warm.  Just about every pod that I planted had a sprout.
Next thing I did was prepare the soil. The flowers were thick and it was hard work getting them, the grass and all of the unneeded wood chips out.  My friend raises alpacas and their dung is great for fertilizer.  I got a load from her and dug it into the garden.  Finally, I noticed that I had an ant hill about 3 feet across in the middle of where I wanted my chilies to go.  It took a few tries but I eventually got rid of them.  I tried a dry product that you just sprinkle on the ant hill and that failed, next I tried two different sprays.  The first one was contained in its own spray bottle that failed.  The second one hooked up to the hose and provided a spray/water mix and that finally did it. 

I spent two weekends clearing out the garden, removing everything that wasn’t food and preparing the soil.  I also spent some time making some adjustments to my sprinkler system so I could water effectively.   At this point, I was feeling great, all of my indoor plants were thriving and my garden was solid with good soil and plenty of water.  This is where the easy part stops. The next few weeks would be many lessons learned. 

Lesson 1:  Read the seeds – Workable ground does not mean after last freeze and I could have had most of what I planted in the ground a month earlier than I did.  Not a hard lesson but nonetheless a good lesson.  With the short growing season in Colorado, it will mean the difference of not having a 2nd or 3rd harvest this year.

Lesson 2:  Look before you dig.  While planting my seed, I used a sharp metal rod to poke the soil to get a seed in the ground.  Well, one bad strike and the next thing I know, I am digging up the pipe to my sprinkler system as there is was a nice hole.  In the end, now I know how to repair a sprinkler system but a headache that I did not need.  Look before you dig.

Lesson 3:  Hardening my plants.  Start slow with hardening your indoor plants.  I had a great first two days with full sun and my plants getting the exposure they needed only to get a little irrigation on the third day.  Went out fishing with the kids, and then stopped at a friend’s for dinner only to come home to dried out crispy plants.  My chilies were okay as they are use to drier conditions but everything else suffered losses.  I got water on the plants immediately and about 50% came back to life however, I lost 8 weeks’ worth of work on the plants that didn’t make it.
Lesson 4: Consider your water source.  My sprinkler system is fed from my local reservoir and is not treated with chemicals however, my inside water for drinking is treated.  Plants do not grow as well with town water as they do with rain or a natural water source.  I am doing a test now just to see how much of a difference and I tell you, with only a few weeks in, the plants watered with the water from my sprinkler system are much greener than the other. 

Lesson 5: TBD – Last year I bought a few books with a gift certificate I had on the topic of gardening. I thought by reading through them and having them as a reference that I would have success with my garden but that is not the case.  I am still only a few weeks into the growing season and already I have had so much pain.  I can only imagine what I will learn in the future.  I plan on still trying to get two harvests out of a few types of plants this year and I plan on canning and preserving my harvest.  I plan on root cellaring and practicing seed saving.  I can only imagine what mistakes I will make there as it will be my first time will all of that as well.

I know I have much to learn and have some dependencies that make it obvious that I am not self sufficient.  The water source for my property comes from a reservoir that is more than 15 miles away.  It gets to my house through a series of ditches and pipe systems.  It crosses roads and could easily be sabotaged to where I have no water.  It hasn’t rained here in more than two weeks now and that would effectively kill anything I have going.  Some 55 gallon drums and a way to catch water from my roof would be my first option in saving water.  Buying the drums is on my list and I hope to have them soon but I would not install it until I needed too. 

Another dependency is soil and keeping my soil full of nutrients that keep my garden ideal for growing.  I need to pick out an area in my yard suitable for a compost pile.  Just today I found an article about 99 things that you can compost. I had no idea all the things that can be used to keep my garden soil healthy each year.  Items like paper, pencil shavings, chewing gum and even toe nail clippings can be used according to that article.  We had a compost pile growing up and it consisted of four fence posts with chicken wire wrapped on the outside to hold everything in.  The one thing that I remember most was digging into it in the winter and feeling how hot it was inside.  Nature at work.

The last thing that I would like to add to my house is a greenhouse.  With that addition, I could extend my growing season over a month on each end of the season.  That is one thing about Colorado that is so unpredictable is the weather.  We have been here for over 10 years and each one has been different.  We have had Thanksgivings with 65 degree temperatures and snow in June; you just can’t depend on what is going to happen.   I would want my greenhouse to have a good drip system and some type of fan system for regulating the temperature.   I feel that with these few things, it will be very effective. 

Overall, you can have all the knowledge you want on your bookshelf and you can plan for how you will feed your family in the looming collapse. You can have all the survival seeds you can store, soil test kits, and fertilizer as well.  The truth is, as many others on this site have stated, experience is king and without it, it could mean the difference of living or dying.  I am very fortunate to live in the area that I do more than 180 miles from the nearest city.  I am very comfortable outdoors, am in decent shape, and have many friends that share my same values.  I still have much to learn.  I have two small children and they will be dependent on me for survival.  My hunting and gathering can improve, my retreat could use some improvements, and I could really use a few more years to learn to garden effectively.   The good news in all of this is that the grocery store down the street is still open and has a wonderful produce section and the farmers markets are in full swing.  As much as I want to rely on my garden, my backup plan is still there.  I can only imagine how much these mistakes would be amplified if it no longer existed.

Thank you Mr. Rawles from the bottom of my heart for a great blog site and for your passion to helping the many of us that are willing to learn.  Please keep up the outstanding work and God Bless. 

I have found some good advice in SurvivalBlog over the years.  For example your referenced GovLiquidation.com site some years back.  Fort Polk, Louisiana is a two hour drive from my retreat.  I bought a $10,000 MEP-002A 5 KW diesel generator with only three hours clocked on it at auction for $1,500. I was somewhat concerned that it might not work or have problems with it but I decided to chance it.    

Picked it up, brought it home, hooked up two batteries and it cranked right up.  Runs like a top.  Amazing that the government is selling  stuff for what it sells it for but it does. I have had it for nine months and run it every two weeks and have not had any problems with it.     

About every six months they have a batch of about 20 or so generators up for auction.  I will probably buy another.  Can’t beat the price and the generators are built like a tank.   

I also got a batch of  70 rolls of concertina wire for $400. They were in very good shape.   These are the long rolls that sell for about $75 to $100 a piece, new.  I stored them in the very back field at my “farm”. - Carl D.

I just read Blue Sun's comments and feel I too must comment.

I believe that he has the beginnings of what I envision as a End of the World scenario, inasmuch as the 'friend' from yesterday is the enemy of today.

But we part company when he is suggesting that deep woods is the location for survival.

I see no room for the weak or infirm nor women and children.

I see only a Jeremiah Johnson-style survival thing for a lone male that is young and in good health and very good shape.

How long one expects to be in that shape is directly connected to ones age and present shape.

And if you actually believe you can doctor and dentist yourself at all time, then please show me that person as I have not met Superman yet.

I see all the problems of trying to hunker down and survive, But that is preferable to being on the run and trying to live "of the land" as that is not healthy .Either in a physical or mental way.

The "lone survivor" is a romantic thought and we [ most real men ] that saw Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson for the most part thought I thought that was so cool.

As I saw that over 30 years ago, I did grow and get older and matured. Enough to see that lifestyle, if possible then not preferable for so many reasons.

We are a society of sociable people, meaning most normal people want interaction and a friendly face and voice to know.

I imagine it might be possible to survive under 'the Lone Ranger' woods walker existence. But after a few years of cold and hunger,the "survivor" might find themselves looking for a few books to read and a friendly voice to hear. Or might think of eating his gun barrel .

I am of the opinion that I will survive, and if I must then it could be alone. But to prefer that and to try for that is beyond this old timers ken! - Regards, - Lobo


I've often wondered as well, as to just how bad things could get in TEOTWAWKI situation.  Reading Blue Sun's post encouraging hiking out and taking on the hunter-gatherer lifestyle I had a few thoughts.

First, I don't know how many of your readers have read Octavia Butler's novel Parable of the Sower.  It's a TEOTWAWKI story written from the perspective of a teenage girl living in California several years after Peak Oil has crumbled our economy.  TEOTWAWKI happens over several years in the book, unlike the nuclear/EMP disaster of "One Second After", but many of the same themes and ideas are there.  For instance, the problem of the newly homeless and looters.  After a few years of dwindling resources and a crumbling/no longer existent government, many will be leaving their homes, likely on foot, to scavenge to food and resources.  Some will eventually band together, many will follow the major streams of human traffic, from one town to the next (they will likely follow major routes first since those are the paths of least resistance and then move to smaller roads and towns), scrounging for resources and likely causing fires along the way (think Los Angeles riots).  With limited or non existent services such as police and fire departments, fires are likely to get way out of hand fast.  At first, this is likely to only effect the towns being looted, but eventually, these fires are likely to find their way into the forests, unchecked.  So how do the retreaters and the backpackers deal with this threat and how likely are they to survive it?

With a retreat, one can always remove brush and trees from the immediate area around their retreat, though this makes the retreat more noticeable, it reduces the chance of fire getting close to home.  Large cisterns can be used to store water which can help put out fires, though that also reduces your available drinking water (a problem if the fires hit during a dry season or drought).  Buildings can be built of less flammable materials such as cob, rammed earth, metal, stone or concrete, but there's still the problem of air quality when a fire gets too close.  Gardens could easily be destroyed (but are replaceable), and orchards would be in danger if the trees were still young.  Livestock are likely to bolt, or worse, suffer and die from smoke inhalation.  A BOB would allow the retreater a quick exit if the worst happened and they were unable to keep the flames under control and away from their retreat.  Though the retreater would potentially take significant losses in a wild fire, those prepared would likely survive.

Backpackers would likely have a more difficult time dealing with forest fires.  For one, they're in the mild of the fuel, which leaves them strongly at the mercy of the wind currents and how quickly and to which direction they push the flames.  Secondly, they are very restricted on just what they can carry and how quickly they can pack up camp.  If a fire came up on them in the night, they may not have a lot of time to get moving to safety.  Since they have so few resources, the lose of any resources could make life much more difficult, whether it be a sleeping bag, fire arm, knife, etc.  Smoke inhalation would be a much more significant danger.  Being in the forest would make determining the source(s) of the fire more difficult than being in a clearing near the forest. 

Now, all that being said, I can definitely understand and promote the need to be prepared to rough it and backpack in the wild as suggested in the post.  For one, we can never assume that we are completely safe in our retreat.  Much as the characters in Parable of the Sower discover, eventually the walls fall, or you get the negative attention of the wrong people... and when that happens you either stay and face whatever that may entail (death, rape, slavery, etc?) or you bug out for safety again. 

Personally, I hope to have a retreat setup for my family as backpacking with small children long term is likely an even harder task, but I will continue to keep my BOB ready and waiting, caches available with resources, just in case, long after TEOTWAWKI has happened.  And hopefully, my retreat will remain safe, at least until my daughter is old enough to walk and understand the need to remain quiet. - D. Momma


Given some modern medicine you can drastically reduce the infant mortality rate. So hunter-gatherers don't necessarily have a short life span. Most people intending to hunter-gatherers after TEOTWAWKI have already reached maturity and are bringing modern amenities. If you're referring to looters and criminals shortening their lifespan - then I also beg to differ. Statistically speaking any parcel of land you buy can be usurped by a far more remote parcel of land that can't be bought, that is reachable only by hiking or far more difficult [terrain or water] obstacles.

JWR Replies: As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, the greatest drawback to any mobile retreating scheme is that it doesn't provide a stored supply of food to fall back upon. Whether you gather fish, game and plants or if raise your own, you cannot be sure of a bountiful harvest each and every year. Without a stored reserve, too much is left up to chance. A deep larder is your best insurance policy.

New Study: Fluoride Can Damage the Brain - Avoid Use in Children. (Thank to K.E.R. for the link.)

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Monumental ignorance of history and logical inversion: "Chicago's new top cop says the accessibility to firearms in America is an extension 'of government-sponsored racism' that goes back to the days of slavery and Jim Crow." If this idiot knew anything about history, then he would know that gun restrictions were used by southern legislatures during Reconstruction to repress the voting rights of recently-freed slaves. He has his history absolutely inverted!

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Alan W. flagged this: Power grid change may disrupt clocks.

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Don in Oregon sent this item: Swiss Renew Push for Bomb Shelters. Don notes: "I didn’t know that the Swiss have 300,000 nuclear shelters with capacity for 8.6 million people (more than their population), and the government stockpiles 4.5 months’ of fuel and food for the entire country."

"But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." - Acts 3:18-21 (KJV)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most folks today would agree that we live in troubled times. At any moment, a single event could change the balance of our society for the worse, taking us back to what some might call the dark ages. Predicted solar flares, EMPs, earthquakes, or  even terrorist activity today could lead to a complete infrastructure failure that would affect every aspect of our future. During such a grim event, our personal health would be a great concern. Without refrigeration, many medicines would spoil. Without power, pharmaceutical plants shut down. The few hospitals that have back-up power will soon run out and close if they are not overrun by the masses first. Most modern medical practices would become useless. What is common surgery today, will become a thing of the past. Without the power grid, virtually all that goes into modern medical practices for the common man simply goes away.

Everyday tasks that we would have engaged in without concern before such an event could now pose a health risk that leads to infections or sickness and could even lead to death. Running a barbed wire fence, turning a wrench on your truck, or cutting fire wood will require extra care so as to not get hurt or injured. In fact, just sitting down to a meal could lead to your demise. Aside from the main course, what are you ingesting from the plates and utensils themselves? Like it or not, without automatic dishwashers, we will all be taking a greater interest in washing the dishes and being certain that they are clean, which is why we all should now be looking at silver spoons.

Silver spoons may be the very reason some family lines have continued through the ages while others have been completely lost. Perhaps this, too, is why the general population holds a negative bias towards those who were “born with a silver spoon“.  While the lower class ate their meals with dirty hands and wooden spoons, the elite would eat with dirty hands and silver spoons.   

At this time, I feel compelled to make full disclosure in that I was, indeed, silver-spoon-fed Gerber baby food by my mom who always tried to keep my hands clean.  While on her honeymoon in the Appalachians, Mom bought a souvenir silver (baby) spoon that would be a hand-me-down silver spoon from my older sister to me. It was soon lost by me to my younger sibling who in turn lost it to our still youngest sibling who saw the silver spoon retired. The silver spoon came out of retirement some twenty-five years later to assist my wife in feeding our son. At that time I marveled that I hadn’t starved to death as a child for the tiny size of the silver spoon.

Further, while growing up at home with my family, we were sometimes allowed to dine with Mom’s silverware on extra special occasions such as every third Christmas dinner or every seventh Easter Sunday meal.

So you see, while I am no stranger to silver spoons, I am clearly not an elitist that would have had his own silver baby spoon and dined daily with the family silverware. And Mom was no elitist either! She was just a young and sentimental nurse who knew of silver’s benefits and wanted to protect her children.

Big industry has learned what smart moms, and elitists all over the world, knew all along. Silver fights germs because silver is poison to germs!

A Swiss botanist from the 1880s is credited with coining  the phrase oligodynamic effect which, simply put, means that silver is toxic to bacteria, viruses, molds, fungi, spores and other unpopular micro-organisms! In other words, a spoon made of silver would naturally fight bacteria, viruses, and other micro bad things that might want to hang-out or live on your spoon. Some test results suggest that in as little as 6 minutes a silver spoon will have killed all the bad stuff on it.

A silver spoon self-sanitizes as it sits in your drawer waiting to be used.  This property is shared by other heavy metals as well, but silver is the most affordable, and safest, heavy metal that won’t cause other adverse effects on us (such as lead does). Scientists, doctors, and nurses have been aware of this for years, but modern medicine went in another direction. Only today are we hearing about the wonders of silver in medicine and industry.

Today, fabric manufacturers are adding silver particles to socks and other clothing to control odors caused by bacteria. Silver-coated polyester fabric is used in heart valve replacement surgery. Silver is used in mattresses and bedding for both its antimicrobial effect and its heat dissipation qualities. Silver is used in fabrics that in turn are used in RF Shielding and protecting electronics from EMPs. Silver is used in the fabric mesh of radiation protective suits. Silver is now being used in bandages and first-aid materials. Kitchen sponges are available with the benefits of silver. Colloidal silver (a liquid suspension of silver) is being used almost anywhere you can think of that germs are growing. It is being sprayed into HVAC vents to kill germs and bacteria. It is used as an antibacterial burn treatment. It has been shown that colloidal silver, taken internally, is effective against E. Coli  and over 650 disease-causing organisms. The use of silver in industry continues to grow and we may never see an end to its possibilities.  It is also of note that American pioneers would drop a silver dollar into a jug of milk to keep it fresh from spoilage. What else did they know that has been forgotten by modern man?

Knowing what silver can do, and owning pure silver (.999 fine), you can actually make colloidal silver at home for dipping your socks into or even treating cancer. There are many internet posts on how to make colloidal silver at home and the uses of colloidal silver. It is fairly easy to make and can be done with a few 9-volt batteries, silver wire or two silver bullion coins (.999), a quart canning jar, two alligator clips and some distilled water.

The process involves creating an electrical current that runs through the two clips suspending the silver in the distilled water. As the electricity flows through the silver and into/through the water, silver ionized particles are left behind suspended in the water. Once made, it should be stored covered and away from sunlight. Use it as a topical antibacterial for cuts, scrapes  and burns. After a societal-changing event where there is no doctor or hospital, you can take sterile bandages and dip them into the colloidal silver solution for use as an antibacterial bandage.

It is not recommended that you use a sterling silver spoon to make colloidal silver.  Sterling silver is .925 pure, having some copper in it. We do not want to ingest the copper so it is recommended that you use .999 pure silver as is found in silver bullion.  It is also of note that early silver spoons were nearly pure silver. It was later that they were alloyed to make the spoon stronger and harder to keep it from bending. Today, “Sterling silver” is .925 pure silver.

Another age-old benefit of silver spoons dates to the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) China.  Silver chop sticks would turn black or tarnish quickly when the silver reacted with popular poisons of the era. A silver spoon (or chop stick) will tarnish on contact with sulfur, and therefore any arsenic sulfides, making it a handy arsenic-poisoning detector and a lot easier to keep around than a chef or a peasant for random taste tests.

All said, everyone should have a silver spoon in their kit. It should be widely used by all in family survival kitchens, BOBs, and even carried by each individual to be used when eating out (you’ll always know whose mouth it last touched).  It will also be in the ready should you need to barter or buy something while on the road. After all, it is silver and just like cash. Maybe you should have several with you.

I would support a universal distribution of silver spoons to every man, woman, and child in these United States as an alternative health care plan.   In essence, the silver spoon is a pocket health care plan!

Remember what Mom always said: Wash your hands, eat well, be healthy, use your silver spoon and stay away from hard ice cream to prevent bent spoons.

Buy some silver spoons and you just might be continuing your family line.

I will preface by saying that I have a much different opinion on the aftermath of a significant long-term or permanent collapse of the economy and the power grid leading to a collapse of the social structure.   I have read numerous studies that indicated that, in any long-term absence of modern technology, the sort of defended retreat with family and friends, not to mention the exposure you will get bartering and dispensing charity with third parties, will be only the initial phase of a total breakdown of a functioning society.  Some say the further degradation of what we now hold as essential human standards of morality and ethics will result in everybody not in your nuclear family being reduced to predators, suppressing any capacity for compassion, morality, community, and even basic identification with or empathy toward others.  In effect, they will inevitably adopt most of the characteristics of a classical psychopath, willing to commit the most brutal acts to protect their immediate nuclear family (spouse and minor children) and to maximize their and their family's ability to continue to survive.  The person you barter with one day may well be your deadly enemy a week later, determined to destroy your family and loot all of your carefully accumulated survival resources.  Your book envisions that, in a total collapse, you can hunker down in a retreat that is well hidden and well defended long enough for the chaos to dissipate, at which time you basically live a pioneer-style life, planting your own crops and raising your own livestock.   

From my readings, many experts in social interaction, psychology, sociology, and other fields seem to accept the view that, should governments and economies collapse, the period of chaos is expected to last at least a century and to get worse, not better, over ours and our children's lifetimes.   In fact, the very act of planting gardens and raising livestock will be a public tell to roving gangs living off of plunder, some of which will virtually be small armies heavily armed by looting National Guard armories and other sources of combat-designed weaponry.  Even the best equipped retreat can end up being a box canyon, and even the people living within the retreat can end up turning on each other as supplies wane.

William Forstchen, who co-authors (and, I suspect, completely ghost writes) Newt Gingrich's books has a thought-provoking new fiction book on his own, called "One Second After."  It begins with the protagonist losing his electricity.  At first, he thinks that this is an ordinary power outage and power will soon be restored.  Then he begins to notice that battery-operated devices, like his watch, and all of the cars on the nearby freeway, have also stopped working.  It turns out that some unknown enemy has attacked the United States by setting off three nuclear explosions high in the stratosphere and created a massive EMP that fried just about all of the country's electric systems (only a few older cars still work).  He and his neighbors all join forces to share their resources and also to provide security against looter gangs.  Soon they are under growing assaults by significantly large bands of military-style criminals and extremists, while, at the same time, some of the people on the block are turning against each other as they begin to realize that equal sharing of resources will benefit some at the expense of others.  Personal survival increasingly trumps any remaining vestiges of human and humane values.  It is a fascinating read.

There are extreme survival strategies that not only require dispensing with almost all of the preparations we would make to create and defend a retreat, but are dependent on us having developed skills that allow us to "live off the land," possibly for the remainder of our lives, using only the equipment we can carry in a backpack (expect 50 to 60 lbs max for a young, in-shape male, and proportionally less for spouse and young children).  It is, in effect, a return to the hunter-gatherer life (with certain modern tools that I would consider essentials in my backpack and will cover in future posts). 

One advantage of developing these skills augmented by the most useful tools that can be backpacked and depend solely on sweat equity, shanks mares, and solar power is that, while hunkering down in an urban retreat is okay for a case where the services are down for a few days, and creating the fully-functional well-stocked retreat, capable of being defended (given relatively small numbers of bad guys in a looting pack and not escalating daily assaults) over a somewhat longer period, but still not suited to the more extreme breakdown scenarios that are very possible, the ability to live off the land, either alone or with your family, covers all levels of breakdown. 

It might not be nearly as 'comfortable' as a well-stocked retreat, but it is a successful strategy for surviving anything from a temporary loss of the grid to a total meltdown of the world economy and world governments.  Given that very few people, even among serious survivalists, have the skills and knowledge to maximize their ability to survive in the most remote environments, the ability to survive reasonably comfortably in extreme wilderness means that you are very unlikely to cross paths with a potential 'bad guy.'  Certainly no bands of roving looters are going to make it a practice of combing extreme wilderness on the unlikely possibility they will find a single backpacker with only tools and resources that facilitate backpacking - in a risk/reward or cost/benefit analysis, it would be self-defeating for a group of people not trained in wilderness survival to spend perhaps hundreds of man-hours on the off-chance of finding one person who is not carrying anything that would contribute to the gang's survival.

In future posts, I intend to talk about some of my own experiences living off the land (remote backpacking was merely a form of recreation when I first started doing it in my teens, but I have now been doing regularly for over 45 years, with increasing concentration on being totally self-sufficient).  I will also cover some of the equipment I have been using on multi-month solo backpacking trips in mountain and forest wilderness that permits me to maintain worldwide communication and carry literally tens of thousands of books on every conceivable subject.  Almost all are inexpensive, and all are massive 'force multipliers' of both knowledge and communications. - Blue Sun

JWR Replies: Given the historic short life expectancy of hunter-gatherers, I've opted for a well-defended Deep Larder approach. Your mileage may vary.

Mr. Rawles,         
First, I'd like to thank you once again for doing what you do, helping many, many people in the preparedness movement.   

I'd like to to share my experience with the SSAR-15 SlideFire stock. I saw a video of the product in action on YouTube a month prior to the SurvivalBlog post concerning the SSAR. I couldn't resist ordering one myself. A very interesting and functional product. And fun too!

But where I shoot is private plantation pine land with a dozen houses within a mile. Rifle fire is a unmistakable sound even over mile in a rural area with cotton and peanut fields. A couple hundred rounds of rifle fire on a calm Saturday afternoon sounding nearly identical to full auto. Less than a week later neighbors and the small town gun shop crowd was talking about me being in possession of a full auto weapon. Definitely not the kind of rumors about you that you want flying around. Thieves, ATF agents, etc, are not the guys you want knocking on your door. (Or knocking in your door for that matter.) This was a OPSEC breach on my part, but not from me talking, but my rifle talking and people hearing.    

The SSAR-15 stock would make a prudent addition to an individual's AR but should be fitted and fired with OPSEC in mind. I thought you may find my experience with this item somewhat interesting to SurvivalBlog readers. Once again thank you for what you do. Keep your powder dry, my friend. - G.T.

Steve McC. mentioned: Earth Must Be Ready for Next Big Solar Storm

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Anyone who places over $150 with Ready Made Resources in the month of July will get a free copy of the excellent Urban Danger DVD. This is a great tool for people to wake others up to the dangers we face and solutions available.

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Steven M. mentioned a different approach to bike tire protection: Seat Belt Bike Tire Hack

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K.A.F. sent this: A rural life is better: Living in a concrete jungle is stressful and make you vulnerable to depression. "Previous findings have shown that the risk for anxiety disorders is 21 per cent higher for people from the city, who also have a 39 per cent increase for mood disorders. ‘In addition, the incidence of schizophrenia is almost doubled for individuals born and brought up in cities. These values are a cause for concern.’"

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Invictus mentioned a new oral rehydration product called Oral I.V.

"The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness [shall be] a sure reward." - Proverbs 11:18 (KJV)

Friday, June 24, 2011

My sincere thanks to the 11 readers who are daily donating their computer's background processing power to mine Bitcoins for the Ten Cent Challenge. This a Java applet that is NOT installed on your PC or Mac. It simply runs within a web browser session. Please keep this Bitcoin mining web page bookmarked and running while you are web browsing. No registration or set-up is needed. All you have to do is click on "Start Generating" each day. It's that simple. This project is currently earning us about .015 BTC per day. (But if more SurvivalBloggers used it, obviously we might earn more than 1 BTC per day.) Please remember to refresh the mining "session" each time you start your browser and keep that window active so that we can maintain a good rate of return for the Ten Cent Challenge. If you make the Bitcoin mining page your browser's Home Page, then you won't forget. Many, many thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 read JWR's books "Patriots" and"How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" with interest and have been thinking and acting on them since. In particular, I was struck by the concept of using aircraft post-TEOTWAWKI for various purposes as illustrated in Patriots. I'd like to submit the following for your review, and for posting on Survivalblog if you feel it worthy.

I've been a commercial pilot (not airline) for about six years and have amassed flight time in aircraft as light and simple as a Van's RV-7 (experimental) up to Beechcraft King Air-sized airplanes in various missions across the continental US. I have personally guided aircraft across 40 of the continental States, from the flats of Texas to the peaks in Colorado. I don't pretend to have the vast breadth of different experiences like Alaskan bush pilots or the years of experience of senior airline pilots like Captain Sullenberger (of Miracle on the Hudson fame), but I do believe I can offer some pointers on the use of light aircraft for survival, retreat, and Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) purposes.

Why bother?
The fact is that airplanes are expensive to own and operate, regardless of whether it's an Experimental or Certified aircraft. Even heavily-used models cost as much as a really nice new truck and require much more upkeep than a vehicle. The training to become a pilot is expensive, and just like marksmanship, flying requires continual practice to stay competent. The money spent on an airplane could easily go to preps that have more lasting value like your deep larder, hardening a retreat shelter, or any number of other purposes. There are a couple advantages, however, for those who have their retreat fully stocked and ready or- more likely- are considering bringing an aircraft owner or pilot into a retreat group.  

Speed. In a G.O.O.D. event, speed is of the essence, particularly for those prone to procrastination. The 28-hour nonstop drive from my current location to my family farm/retreat takes perhaps 8-10 hours in a light airplane, including the time spent to land and refuel. If I make this flight in the summer with a tailwind, I could leave after breakfast and land at the airport nearest the retreat before dinner. In a G.O.O.D. scenario, this drive could take a week or more depending on how bad things get on the ground- and it's quite possible I might not make it at all.

All-terrain. Regardless of what happens to the infrastructure on the ground, an airplane can get you over it. Road blocks, traffic accidents, gridlock, etc are no longer a factor. Even if most airports close, an average light airplane only needs 1/4-1/3 of a mile of straight road or pasture to land and take off comfortably. Many measure their take-off and landing distances in hundreds, rather than thousands, of feet. Extremely light aircraft (like the ultralight aircraft in Patriots) can take off in 200 feet or less.

Reliability. Airplanes are built to keep flying. With proper maintenance, engine malfunctions resulting in a failure due to design and construction problems are next to none. Further, in an EMP event, I believe virtually every light aircraft would still be flight capable. The ignition systems in these aircraft are magneto-driven (think: distributor on an older car), so the engines would likely continue to run. Even the newer fuel-injected aviation piston engines use magnetos and mechanical fuel injection which are impervious to EMP. The communication radios, GPS and navigation radios would be fried, but with a map and a compass you'd still be able to get to your retreat- or at least to the nearest airport or road. The engines and systems on light aircraft are very simple and a typical light aircraft can go 10 years or more between engine overhauls at normal utilization rates.

Aircraft Types and Limitations
There are two aircraft types I wish to discuss: light single-engine (FAA-Certified) and light single-engine (experimental). I specifically ignore large, complex, and multiengine aircraft due to their cost, complexity, and the more expensive and intensive training program that comes with these aircraft. They also have much higher fuel consumption and need much longer runways on the order of 4,000-6,000 feet in length.

Certified (or certificated) aircraft offer a number of advantages. They are (relatively) mass-produced, leading to some commonality of parts among various types and models, and their mechanical systems and designs are well-proven and nearly every airframe and powerplant (A&P) technician in the world can work on these aircraft. They include the ubiquitous Cessna and Piper lines, and the less common and more-expensive varieties such as Beechcraft, Mooney, Cirrus, and others. Used prices can range from $10,000 for a used Cessna 150 to $500,000 or more for barely-used Cirrus SR-22s. Generally speaking, the more cash you shell out, the more speed and load-carrying capacity you will get in an aircraft, along with more fuel burned per hour. Some good G.O.O.D. aircraft could include the Cessna 150/152 for one person, the Cessna 180 and 185 for more than one person, and even some modified Piper PA-18 and PA-20-series with short takeoff and landing (STOL) kits installed. A converted C-150/152 with conventional landing gear and larger engine is an ideal bug-out vehicle for one person with a get-home kit. These aircraft are currently selling for less than the cost of a good grid-tie wind turbine and tower kit.

Certified Advantages
Besides the advantage of being "common" aircraft that don't attract much attention at a local airport (assisting in OPSEC in a G.O.O.D. situation), certified aircraft offer the advantage of having manufacturer parts support and lots of certified aircraft mechanics to work on them in normal pre-TEOTWAWKI conditions. Besides an aviation mechanic's license, no specialized mechanic training is required, and costs tend to be fairly predictable with these aircraft. They also don't require any special pilot training (though type-specific training is always recommended) and can legally be flown by anyone with a private pilot license.

Certified Disadvantages
Problems with certified aircraft aren't many but can pose serious challenges. Because these aircraft are supported by manufacturers who are exposed to absurd levels of product liability, parts tend to be unbelievably expensive due to the liability insurance attached to each one and the "one-off" nature of certain parts. For example, new "crate" engines from GM, Ford, and Dodge can be had for as little as $1,000-$2,000, depending on type, whereas even the smallest aircraft piston engine costs upwards of $20,000 new from the factory. Additionally, these aircraft tend to be on the "heavy" side, with interior trim, autopilots, extra radios, air conditioners, and other creature comforts leading to "fat" airplanes that cannot carry as much as their size and cost would seem to indicate. To avoid fat airplanes, potential buyers should focus on those built before the end of general aviation aircraft construction in the mid-1980s. Those built after 1994 (when aircraft building started again) tend to be significantly heavier than the same models built earlier due to the reasons mentioned above.

On the other side of the coin is the Experimental category. These aircraft are exactly like the name implies- not factory-produced, and assembled by the builder for his or her educational and recreational purposes. As a result, you can literally build whatever you want so long as the FAA will approve it to fly- that is, grant it an Airworthiness Certificate. There is also the ELSA/SLSA- Experimental Light Sport and Special Light Sport categories which are not FAA-approved but fall under a different set of rules altogether. These are closer to certified but still do not undergo the same process as FAA-certified models. Also, ELSA/SLSA aircraft are limited to lower speeds and restricted to two seats. The advantage to Light Sport aircraft is their low fuel consumption and better factory support, as compared to Experimental aircraft.

Several manufacturers offer experimental aircraft kits which allow a builder to have some factory support and design/parts commonality that can increase the safety and reliability of these aircraft and greatly reduce builder errors and construction time. For example, Van's Aircraft, which is based just south of Portland, Oregon, builds a number of designs all cut from the same cloth and have received numerous awards for efficiency and performance. A Van's aircraft can take off in a few hundred feet and cruise at 200 mph. Several other manufacturers offer similar kits, all with varying capabilities. An additional benefit to buying a kit-built aircraft is the large builder community that tends to come with the purchase. For example, Van's aircraft has recorded more than 7,000 flying aircraft since they started selling kits, outpacing many Cessna factory models, and every Van's builder has the support of the entire community of builders and pilots. The community of experimental builders is truly huge, numbering in the tens of thousands, and many share the same values and sense of community that preppers do. Besides kit aircraft, there are many designs available solely as plans, from which a builder creates the airplane from blueprints. This is the least-expensive and most labor-intensive method of building your own airplane, and also requires the largest investment in tools--all of which would be left behind in a G.O.O.D. evacuation.  (But the knowledge you gain goes with you.) As an example, the Thatcher CX-4 single-seater can be built from plans for less than $5,000 (and lots of 'sweat equity') with a VW-derived engine on the front end, cruises around 100 mph, and burns 4 gallons of fuel per hour.  

Experimental Advantages
As mentioned above, cost is a major advantage for Experimental aircraft. Whole-aircraft kits for experimental models cost a small fraction of a similar new factory-built airplane, and the builder has the advantage of keeping the airplane as simple as he likes or going "all out" to build his dream airplane. As a result, these airplanes have the potential for better carrying capacity than similarly-sized certified aircraft, allowing them to carry more "stuff" for the same takeoff weight. Costs are also controlled because the builder can service the airplane himself- assuming he follows the FAA paperwork when building the airplane to receive his repairman's certificate. Engines are not restricted to certified models, and in fact many light experimentals fly with modified VW and Corvair air-cooled engines, whose parts can be sourced from any auto parts store. Some higher-performance models run with Ford or Chevrolet V-6 and V-8 engines, as well, which also helps with keeping parts costs down.

Experimental Disadvantages
Like certified aircraft, experimental-category aircraft have disadvantages as well. Because of the nature of the Experimental category, these airplanes do not undergo the long and expensive proving process that FAA-certified models do. This means that structural flaws, design errors, construction problems, and other issues can be discovered the hard way by the builder or owner because they were not found during the certification process. Also, these designs have little or no parts stocks available and replacements would have to be hand-built should something break. Should you buy an experimental airplane second-hand, you also take the risk of possible errors in construction from the original builder. As a rule, experimental aircraft experience more accidents related to construction and design than any other type of flying machine.

Aircraft Use: Post-TEOTWAWKI
What then is the potential for aircraft use post-TEOTWAWKI? There are several practical uses that come to mind:

Bugging out. As previously mentioned, using an airplane to get to a retreat is a good option, particularly if you've established a retreat on a remote lake or other area with no roads (or maybe impassable roads due to flooding or snow cover) leading in. A floatplane can get you safely onto shallow lakes or rivers, and an airplane with good takeoff performance could land on a small stretch of field, road, or pasture next to your retreat. Outfitters in Alaska and Canada drop off hunting and fishing parties to remote lakes using float planes and bush planes every day for exactly these reasons. [JWR Adds: See the SurvivalBlog archives for other posts about bugging out via light aircraft, STOL planes, and retrofitting planes with Tundra Tires.)

Surveillance. Assuming quality high-octane fuel is available post-TEOTWAWKI, some aircraft engines can be modified to run safely and legally on motor vehicle gasoline instead of expensive and rare leaded avgas, and so surveillance flights could be made using an airplane if your retreat has a stabilized fuel cache. This could include surveillance of conditions in the local community at large, scouting expeditions for food crops and wildlife herds, performing surveys of floods, snow cover, forest fires, etc, or simply seeing what the world outside your retreat is doing in your absence. If your retreat follows JWR's location criteria, finding out what is going on in the outside world using a vehicle could take days or weeks and expose you to roadblocks and accidents (as described in Patriots). In an aircraft, this type of survey could be done safely in an afternoon at altitudes that put you out of range of most small arms.

Transport. Again, assuming fuel is available, emergency transport for very ill individuals to a better-equipped locale is possible using an aircraft. Retreats that are connected to one another via radio could coordinate medical care efforts and essentially establish an air ambulance system should such a system become necessary. Additionally, critical supplies or gear can also be relocated quickly using an airplane to stranded members of a retreat who have problems with a vehicle or run into other trouble. As the American Redoubt grows, such a service could be valuable indeed on the day TSHTF. Note that the FAA has strict requirements in place for such air ambulance activities in the present day.

Communications. Altitude is the friend of radio transmitters and a relay system could be set up with an airborne aircraft relaying signals from hundreds of miles away to a ground location under the aircraft. COMSEC when using this method is poor since there are hundreds of thousands of aviation radios out there and no encryption system is available, but it is an option to consider. This concept is of particular value in mountainous terrain, in which an aircraft operating over the peaks can relay line-of-sight signals from one side of a mountain range to the other.

Power. The alternators of most light aircraft can produce usable power for charging alternative-energy system batteries (28-volts between 60 and 100 amps) and if the airframe itself became unusable the engine can be removed and used as a ground power station (with appropriate modifications). In fact, some small military ground power units and generators use aircraft piston engines in exactly this way due to their simplicity and relative efficiency.

Some tasks will not be practical post-TEOTWAWKI:

  • Close air support. As illustrated in the novel Patriots, these aircraft are built for light weight and low fuel burn, not for slugging it out in a combat theatre. The fuel lines, control cables, fuel tanks, and crew compartments are completely unshielded from attack and lack the self-sealing fuel tanks and fire suppression systems found on combat aircraft. They also leave the pilot or crew totally exposed to light arms fire and these aircraft would be easy prey for the most modest military aircraft or ground-based antiaircraft system. A weapon as simple as a belt-fed machinegun can destroy a light aircraft in a single burst. At best, these aircraft could be used in combat for scouting and communications relay while avoiding attention from hostile ground and air assets.
  • Hauling a family of five and bags across the country. Light aircraft are exactly that- light. At best, a couple people with light BOBs can fit in an airplane that would meet a prepper's requirements. There are simply no aircraft out there that can land on short runways while carrying lots of people and bags, at least on a prepper's budget, which is why JWR's recommendation to live at your retreat is such a sound concept.

There are a number of factors to be considered that simply can't be covered here without re-writing a flying handbook. Light aircraft offer advantages to the prepper but should be dead last on the "list of lists" for preps, if they make the list at all. For those of us fortunate enough to own or have legal access to aircraft, they could be a boon to the prepper living far from a retreat, or in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation to assist in specific capacities. Bringing a licensed pilot who owns an aircraft into your retreat group could be a consideration when deciding on the skill sets and equipment needed at your retreat.

I have minor additions to Minnesota Rose's excellent post on which storable foods have the most nutrition and food value. 

In looking for which plants have the most protein, the HealthAliciousNess web site has very good information on the highest protein fruits (dried apricots, I was happy to see), vegetables (sun dried tomatoes, surprisingly), and beans and legumes. 

The protein content of beans and legumes varies from a low of 11 percent for pigeon peas to a high of 28 percent for soybeans.  These are cooked percentages, which are much lower than dry percentages because of the additional water; i.e. cooked soy is 28 percent, but dry roasted soy is 40 percent.  Soybeans were the highest; adzukis, lentils and white beans have 17 percent protein; cranberry beans have 16 percent; pintos and black beans 15 percent, and lima beans 14 percent. 

If you are interested in soy, the black soybeans have by far the best flavor, are tender, cook fastest, and work well in chili, bean soup, etc., and have no bitter taste at all.  Black Jet, available from Johnny Seeds in the United States, or from Salt Spring Seeds in Canada, are usually considered to be the best tasting of the black soybeans, and grow well in both northern and southern gardens.  Brown and green are next best in flavor, yellow soybeans are bitter, and best used for livestock. - Mary M.

JWR Replies: Don't forget that you can easily sprout soy beans in your kitchen. Soya sprouts are tasty and very nutritious. Because the process of sprouting adds vitamins, it is an important adjunct to any food storage program. Here at the Rawles Ranch, we formerly used sprouting trays, but we've switched to sprouting in Mason jars, using stainless steel mesh lids. We've found that these are more compact, less messy, and quicker to use than trays. The trick to successful sprouting is changing the water frequently, and the Mason jar sprouting method makes this very easy.

Pimco Predicts Greece Will Default. JWR's Comment: Prepare for a further succession of dominos to topple. Spain and Portugal will probably be next. And I regret to say that the domino at the end of the queue is at: 38°53'23.28"N, 77° 0'31.01"W

Jason Hommel: Silver: From $30/oz to over $500 by 2020 (And from $500 to $5000 by 2030!)

Democrats push for jobs package in debt deal. JWR's Comment: More "stimulus"? They must be insane. Someday, they'll finally admit that we are a bankrupt nation living on borrowed time.

The U.S. Postal Service, facing insolvency without approval to delay a $5.5 billion payment for worker health benefits, will suspend contributions to an employee retirement account to save $800 million this year.  

Study: $1,400 Tax Hike Needed to Fund State and Local Pensions

Items from The Economatrix:

If Greece Defaults, What Happens to Portugal, Ireland & Spain?

Changes in Futures Trading Confirms Silver Shortage

Fitch Sees Risk of Greece, US Debt Defaults

29 Reasons to be Angry or Scared

Oil Rises As Fed Acknowledges Economy's Slow Pace

End of QEII, Impact on Treasury Market

Marie K. found the Cookit! web site, that offers a "History Cookbook" which is categorized by time periods (such as Prehistoric, Romano-British, Saxons & Vikings, etc.) Within each time period, videos of individuals costumed for the era demonstrate how different recipes were prepared. They show how to make Girdle Bread over the fire (Medieval recipe) or Beancakes (Saxon/Viking recipe) or Roman Lentil Casserole also known as Pottage (a Romano-British recipe).

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Fred Z. suggested this piece from NASA's news arm: Getting Ready for the Next Big Solar Storm

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The ARRL's annual national Field Day weekend is scheduled for June 25-26. If you have an interest in ham radio, this is a great opportunity to get some hands-on time with ham gear, learn from experts, and go camping. Contact your local ARRL affiliate club, for details.

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Parachute cord (commonly called "paracord" or "550 cord") has umpteen uses, from lanyards and bracelets to rifle slings. Serious preppers always keep it around, especially when hunting or hiking in the back country. Braiding paracord is a fun hobby where you can inexpensively produce practical gifts that your friends and relatives will appreciate. The folks at Camping Survival tell me that they have been selling so much parachute cord that they have launched a spin-of web site: ParacordKing.com.

OBTW, Tom at Camping Survival also mentioned that they've added several new Honeyville food products that are now in stock and are shipping the same day or the next business day.  For a limited time, you can used the 5% off coupon code "survivalblog".

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Kelly D. recommended this: Top Five Places NOT to Be When the Dollar Collapses

"At least once every human being should have to run for his life, to teach him that milk does not come from the supermarket, that safety does not come from policemen, and that news is not something that happens to other people." - Robert A. Heinlein, The Number of the Beast

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm sad to report that Ron Hood (of "Hood's Woods" fame and editor of Survival Quarterly) passed away on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, after battling prostate cancer. Through Ron is gone, his videos and writings will be a lasting legacy. He was a consummate outdoorsman who used his teaching skills (a Bachelors in History, A Master of Science in recreation management and an Ed.D. in Institutional Management) to relate them to others in a unique way. The great thing about Ron is that he was an absolute expert in many things, yet he wasn't at all puffed up or a braggart. In watching his many films, you get a real sense of his quiet competence. Ron was a great man, and he will be missed by many.

To Ron's wife Karen and son Jesse, my sincere condolences.

Like me, Ron was an Army Security Agency (ASA) veteran, so even though I never met him, I feel a special sense of loss. Ron served at ASA Field Station Sinop (in Turkey), and was on a Target Exploitation (TAREX) team, serving 18 months in Vietnam. The significance of his tactical ASA time doesn't register with most folks, but it commands great respect among ASA vets. These guys were the "go anywhere, do anything" heroes of the ASA, and their exploits are legendary. It wasn't unusual for a handful of them to be dropped off at remote mountaintop intercept site "with a pallet of C Rations and a case of Scotch" and be expected to generate reams of useful intelligence entirely on their own, for months at a time. This meant everything from fueling and repairing gensets to doing their own cooking and providing their own security. That truly was living life on the edge. The TAREX guys even went a step further: They analyzed captured radio equipment and went with Special Forces teams to probe VC and NVA sites and conduct direction finding (to pinpoint transmitters). They even surreptitiously photographed antennas to help identify radios and their associated units. This was serious boondocking, often deep behind enemy lines.

I lost my wife two years ago, and even though by God's grace I have since remarried, I still feel the loss of Linda. ("The Memsahib.") So I can truly say to Karen that I know how you feel. Karen and Jesse: You are in our prayers!


Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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.

Be prepared. This is the core logic of the survivalist movement. We work to be prepared for a variety of situations, from the common natural disaster to outbreaks of disease to TEOTWAWKI. We conduct thorough research, create organized lists and plans, shop while scrutinizing the fine print, test the products we buy, and then carefully store it all away for possible use in the future. A great deal of control and independence is involved. These steps we take to prepare, at a minimum, provide us with a sense of comfort and security. They can also save lives in an emergency.
But what if the worst happens and we find ourselves without vital supplies? It’s the potentially nightmarish scenario of any survivalist, and it can happen at any time. Some would call it a cruel twist of fate for those of us who have taken the time to prepare to suddenly be without. But it’s a very real possibility we must consider in order to ensure our survival in a time of chaos.

Why would you, as a survivalist, suddenly find yourself without supplies?

1. Looters. We’ve seen it repeatedly throughout history in disaster-stricken parts of the world. People take advantage of a society without rule of law. At first the majority of looters will fall on chain stores and businesses because they’re easy to access and literally advertise exactly what they hold. But as supplies dwindle and desperation increases, people will begin robbing one another of their very means to survive. Don’t fall under the false belief that if you have a gun for security then you’re protected from robbery. Some thieves will rely more on stealth than violence and come quietly in the night, leaving you to awaken to empty storage space and bare cupboards.
2. Damage. In the case of natural disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes, all or a portion of your supplies may be rendered useless. Your supplies may also be victim to random gunfire in a society without rule of law (an unseen hole in a water tank, for example) or damaged in your haste to bug out. Perhaps you failed to test a portion of your supplies and in the process of assembly, you break a vital piece of equipment. There are countless ways for supplies to be irreparably damaged in an emergency.
3. Inefficiency. Even with testing directly after purchase, there are times when supplies simply don’t work efficiently enough for their purpose and we’re forced to abandon them. Such can be the case with hot plates and camp stoves, battery-powered appliances, and anything else which requires energy to perform. Perhaps it’s been five or ten years since testing and the efficiency has dwindled enough for the batteries, fuel, or heat to be put to better and more efficient use elsewhere.
4. Breakdown. Breakdown can occur to brand new supplies without a reason why, or due to long-term use years into TEOTWAWKI. This is especially permanent when dealing with electronics and machinery. Hand-crank radios, two-way radios, generators, solar-powered lights, fueled stoves, water purifiers . . . eventually they won’t perform anymore. While we might have the skill to repair items like clothing, bicycles, and roof leaks, few people have the knowledge and tools necessary to repair broken down technology.
5. Charity. Most survivalists take charity into consideration when stocking up on supplies, and as they well should. But what if you’ve helped as many people as you planned for, and people in dire need of your help just keep on coming? This isn’t a question you can answer now, as you aren’t presently staring into the eyes of a starving pregnant woman and her toddler on your doorstep. Just know that there’s the possibility your supplies will be used by more people than you originally anticipated.
6. Duration. Few people who prepare for emergencies, even survivalists, will have enough of every kind of essential item to last five, ten, or twenty years into a societal breakdown. The severity of a situation could increase this problem as far as wounded people and medical supplies, outdoor heat and drinking water, strenuous labor and food, and threat and ammunition. Supplies will run out.
7. Budgets. It costs quite a bit of money to stock up on emergency supplies and to restock expired supplies. Survivalists can only stock up as their budgets allow and don’t typically buy everything they need at once. The pitfall of this necessary pacing is that disasters don’t wait for us to be ready. We all have wish lists. We could only be halfway through them when we find ourselves in the midst of TEOTWAWKI.
8. Oversight. You may overlook something. Right out of the gate there may be something you need that you just don’t have. For example, perhaps you failed to take lumber into consideration and your house becomes damaged. Maybe it’s something even more vital than lumber. All the lists in the world can’t prepare you for this moment, as it will be a shock. But no matter how many times you slap yourself on the forehead for forgetting a particular item, it doesn’t change the fact that you now must go without.

There are other reasons why you may suddenly find yourself without supplies. Perhaps you don’t know how to assemble a survival item no matter how hard you try, such as a four-person tent. Maybe you don’t properly clean your supplies and they become too dirty to use over time, such as a particulate water filter. The lack of one item may cause a chain reaction which makes other supplies useless, such as a safe key and a safe with a gun in it. There are limitless reasons why just having supplies in your possession isn’t enough to survive.

Now that the comfort and security of having supplies is all but gone, allow me to replace it with the knowledge that you can, in fact, survive without them. Supplies are a luxury which make our time during an emergency much more bearable, but luckily for the general populace, they aren’t one hundred percent necessary.

How would you survive with no supplies?

Water: Let’s take a brief look at survival with no stored water and no specific water treatment for purifying water.

If water is still coming out of the tap and the emergency situation hasn’t given you cause to question its quality, you must begin collection immediately, as it could be turned off at any time. Fill the bathtub, all kitchen glasses and bowls, heavy duty boxes lined with garbage bags, the washing machine (just be sure to turn it off when it’s full), anything and everything that can hold water. You can even fill garbage cans for non-potable wash water or plant irrigation. Even if you find out afterwards that the water isn’t deemed safe to drink, depending on the situation it may be non-toxic enough for bathing, or at the very least, useful for flushing the toilet. Cover the filled containers with plastic wrap if you intend to drink it in the future.

If water isn’t coming out of the tap, there are still several places to find clean water in your home and the homes of others. One of the most abundant sources is the standard water heater tank, which may hold anywhere from 25 to 60 gallons of water. To access the water, first turn off power to the tank. This could be a gas valve on the tank or a circuit breaker in a panel depending on your set up. Next, close the valve on the pipe which fills the water tank so that no (possibly contaminated) water can flow into it. Now: there’s a valve near the bottom of the tank where the water can drain. Turn on a hot water knob all the way at a faucet in the house so the water in the tank can drain through the valve at the bottom. If there’s dirt in the water you collect, let the water sit so the dirt settles to the bottom and collect water from the top to drink.

Collecting rainwater is an option for people who live in moist climates, as is collecting ice to melt with body heat for those who live in cold climates. For those who live in hot climates, making use of condensation is a viable option, as the necessary supplies are those found in the average garage. A type of solar still can be created by digging a cone-shaped hole with a diameter of three meters in a sunny spot, placing a clean collection container in the center of the hole, and covering the entire hole with plastic sheeting. Anchor the edges and place a rock in the center of the plastic sheeting just over the collection container. The inverted plastic cone should be deep enough that the condensed water runs down the plastic and into the container, but not quite touching the sides of the hole.

In extreme situations you may also drink your own urine. Urine is around 95% water and five percent non-toxic waste products. To safely drink your own urine, you must be free of bladder health problems, such as urinary tract infections (UTI)s). It’s also best to drink it along with another source of water if possible because of the high sodium content. To drink your own urine, you must first urinate for several seconds to clear the bacteria from the urethra before you begin collection for drinking. You must also drink it immediately; otherwise bacteria will begin to accumulate.

Other sources of water include fruit, certain canned goods like vegetables and tuna, ice cubes, water from your pipes, and even the water in your toilet tank (not the bowl) if you have the means to boil it.

It is important to remember that most water can be used more than once, such as for washing clothes and then again for flushing the toilet. You should also reduce the amount of water your body requires by staying out of the sun and limiting physical activity when possible. But however resourceful or conservative you are with water, nearly all sources of water will eventually run dry. It will then become necessary to move on and seek out new sources in order to survive.

No Stored Water (Review):

  • If water is still coming out of the tap, fill anything and everything with water.
  • The water heater tank is a prime place to find 25 to 60 gallons of water.
  • Make use of your climate by collecting water from outside.
  • Drinking your own urine can be an emergency source of water.
  • Use your own resourcefulness to think about where more water could be.
  • Conserve and recycle the water you have.

Food: Let’s take a brief look at survivalism with no stored food and no specific means to hunt, fish, or grow food.

It’s possible to live for at least three weeks without food. Possible, but not realistic. Going so long without food wouldn’t present a problem if we were in the physical condition of our ancestors, but most people today aren’t healthy enough for such a long fast. The strain on the heart would prove too much for those who are obese and would threaten the lives of those who are overweight. When you also factor in how many people are diabetic, having underlying health problems, and are on medications, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people who simply can’t fast safely.

Luckily there are several alternatives to going hungry, and one of the best is foraging. There’s a great variety of edible plants, berries, and roots hiding in plain sight and edible raw or cooked. Take the ever so common Dandelion, for example. Every part of the Dandelion is edible, from the yellow flower to the leaves (young, small leaves taste better) to the roots. Earthworms are another source of food, and full of protein. Depending on where you live, you may also have access to Cattails which have edible roots year round, the pine needles of pine trees, the leaves of Plantains, or live (not beached) seaweed.

It’s worth researching now what other edible plants are found in your part of the world in case you need to depend on them as a source of food. Here’s a great link for knowledge on how to test a plant you aren’t sure is edible in a time of survival: http://survivalcache.com/wilderness-survival-edibility-test/.

Berries are another nutritious survival food, although before you dive in, there are some general rules you should know. If the berries are yellow, white, or green, then you should most likely stay away from them. About half of all red berries are edible, and dark colored berries are edible nine times out of ten. Most of us remember picking berries when we were children and can easily spot blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, salmon berries, and other types of berries. The down side to berries is that they’re seasonal and one of the most easily recognized wild foods, which means in a TEOTWAWKI situation, they may be incredibly scarce.

One of the means to obtain food some people may overlook is teaming up with people who have food to feed you in exchange for work. Most likely the work will be hard labor and the food will be carefully rationed. However, working for food will be much safer than being caught stealing it in a world without courts and juries. Furthermore, working in a group provides benefits which go beyond food, such as protection, companionship, a wider range of knowledge and skills, and a greater chance of long-term survival.

No Stored Food (Review):

  • Food isn’t as vital as water. Healthy people can fast for up to three weeks.
  • There are edible plants all around us. Take time to research those around you.
  • Berries are a nutritious addition to any plant-and-root-based diet.
  • Working for food may be a practical option during TEOTWAWKI.

Keeping Warm and Staying Cool
Let’s take a brief look at survival with no means to start a fire and no air conditioning.

Warmth is a vital part of survival. Any emergency which causes a power outage could make staying warm difficult. All long term emergencies will eventually result in loss of power, or at the very least, the need to conserve power sources.

Depending on the emergency, you may need to dry off before donning dry, warm clothing. Clothing that will wick moisture away from your body and dry quickly, such as nylon or polyester, is best for a first layer. Most people who have these fabrics on hand will have them in the form of workout clothing for the gym. For bad outdoor weather, wool stays warm even when wet. Put on as many layers as you need and keep in mind that people can lose up to 75% of heat through their head. So on with those winter caps!

Moving around is an effective way to keep warm and if you’re short on supplies during an emergency, you will be doing plenty of it. But there are several ways in which exerting yourself too much could be dangerous. Aside from expending energy you may not have enough food to restore and injuring yourself due to exhaustion, you may begin to sweat and then get chilled when you stop to rest. Pay attention to your comfort level and peel off layers if you need to. The key is to be warm, but also dry.

Seal off one room of your house, preferably the smallest one. If you live in a two-story home, remember that heat rises and an upstairs room may be easier to keep warm.
Create a “fort” about the size and shape of an igloo, where the heat from your family is trapped in the small dome you’ve created. Blankets draped across chairs will work for the inner shell. Crumpled newspaper or pieces of cardboard should be piled on top and around the shelter for a dense layer of insulation. Crumpled printer paper and posters would also work. The outer shell of the shelter should be as impermeable as possible to keep the heat in and the cold out. It can be created using standard garbage bags, even saran wrap or tin foil, and tape. Don’t forget to seal off the sides. Make sure there are plenty of blankets left to insulate the floor of the shelter.

To keep warm throughout the night, have your family to sleep in this shelter parallel to one another so that body heat is shared. You can take turns sleeping on the outside ends if there are more than two of you.

Keeping cool can also be a life-saving survival skill. It can lessen the amount of water required by your body and keep you from developing heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke.
Wearing shorts and a tank top (or simply going without clothing as this may be TEOTWAWKI after all) is a good start to keeping cool. If you’re outside, be sure to protect yourself with sunscreen and be careful to keep the integrity of your skin intact. The best place to be inside is in the lowest room of your house. You can also be outside in the shade, relaxing in the breeze. It’s important to drink water whenever you’re thirsty (if you can) so you don’t become dehydrated. Drenching a scarf in second-use water and then tying it around your neck is an effective way to cool off quickly. Last, who could forget those fold-up manual fans? With a little thought and resourcefulness, you’ll come to find that there are many ways to keep cool without air conditioning.

Keeping Warm and Staying Cool (Review):

  • Layer your clothing and keep your head covered.
  • Move around, but stay dry.
  • Create an insulated igloo shelter in which to sleep with your family.
  • When wearing little clothing, protect your skin.
  • Stay in the shade when possible.
  • Drink as much water as possible.

Keeping Conditions Sanitary: Let’s take a brief look at survivalism with no basic toiletries, showers, trash service, or toilets.

Hygiene is something many of us take for granted. We don’t think twice as we wash our face, brush our teeth, take a shower, or put on clean clothing. We also take for granted how lack of good hygiene can make us sick. Here are some ways to stay clean and sanitary with what you already have in the house.

The Basics:
There are several basic rules worthy of review, as we tend to disregard them when we have plenty of hygienic supplies at our disposal. First and foremost, keep your bacteria-covered hands away from your head. Don’t rub or pick your nose, wipe your eyes, pick at your teeth, lick your fingers, or put your fingers in your ears. Second, don’t handle food or drinking water directly with your hands; instead, use clean winter or Nitrile gloves. Finally, cover your coughs and sneezes with the crook of your elbow. The only thing more annoying than being sneezed on is developing a disabling cold that leads to life-threatening pneumonia.

brushing your teeth with no toothpaste is nearly as effective as with toothpaste. Don’t attempt to use sugar or salt to clean your teeth as this may irritate your gums and wear away the enamel, but you may use baking soda if you have it on hand.

First and foremost, know that you won’t be bathing everyday. Twice a week, at most, is how often you’ll be bathing. The easiest way to get “clean” is to collect water from a nearby lake or river and scrub away even if you don’t have soap. The reason you want to collect water for scrubbing down instead of simply jumping in is because you don’t want to contaminate the water source, dirty as it may already appear. When you’ve finished with the water, use it a second time to wash your clothes and then a third time to flush your toilet. If you aren’t located near a water source, you may need to use some of the water you’ve collected from the water tank.

Any soap can be used to wash clothing. Even if you have no soap, dunking the clothes and rubbing them against each other will be sufficient enough to further dirty the water. The clothing you can expect to wash regularly include the undergarments: bras, boxers, underwear, socks, and tank tops. All other clothing will be of secondary concern and only washed once in a while. I recommend buckets if you have them, as the tub only allows for washing and not rinsing. Once the clothes are washed, simply wring them of excess water and hang them out to dry.

If you have a septic tank that isn’t full, you may continue to flush the toilet for “number two” simply by pouring a bucket of water into it. Be aware that sewage lines may be damaged in an emergency, in which case your best bet is a shovel. Be sure your pit is at least a football field away from any water source and located in the lowest spot in your area. The deeper the better. Place a board or sturdy plastic lid over the pit so that no one falls into it. A plastic tarp over everything is a good idea if you live in a rainy climate. Cover each waste deposit with some dirt to discourage mosquitoes from breeding in the pit, and don’t allow water to pool in the bottom. You may run out of toilet paper, but leaves, newspaper, and small disposable rags will work fine. Do not flush these items as they may permanently clog the toilet. Dispose of them in a deep pit far from any water supply.

Trash: The best option for dealing with trash is to have as little as possible. Think before throwing any item away. Could you use it for anything else? You’ll need to burn or bury the trash you have. If you don’t have the means to build a fire, that’s alright. Pick up a shovel, a pick, even a metal rake. Allowing trash to accumulate is inviting germs and sickness into your living space. Depending on where you live, you may also be inviting wild animals. Get rid of your garbage as soon as possible.

Cleanliness: Even if you keep your space as clean as possible, eventually you will be faced with the need to abolish bacteria you can’t see. Modern day cleaning products are convenient, but they aren’t they only solution for killing germs. The Provident Living web site is a wonderful resource, where they explain how you can use common household items to create an effective cleaning solution. You can condense these recipes to the amount of water you have on hand.

Keeping Conditions Sanitary (Review):

  • Keep your bacteria-covered hands away from your head.
  • Soap isn’t always necessary. Scrubbing is.
  • Keep waste and trash disposal far and low from any water source.
  • Household items can be mixed to create cleaning solutions.

As you can see, there are many ways you can survive without disaster-specific supplies. It would be much more difficult and you would encounter more hardships such as sickness, weight loss, and stress, but you could survive. It’s just a matter of being intelligent and resourceful.

So if TEOTWAWKI or another emergency comes to pass and you’re standing there without a portion of those supplies you held so dear, don’t think about tomorrow. Keep your mind focused on today and the puzzles (not problems) that need solving right now. Make a list, mentally or otherwise, of all the items you have access to and/or around you. Think about how you can use a combination of them to solve your puzzle. With the right attitude and rational, logical thinking, you can survive no matter how many traditional supplies you don’t have.

Dear Editor:
I recently came across the announcement for a new upcoming product. With Intel creating Atom processors with lower and lower power consumption, Samsung was able to design a netbook with integrated solar panels.

It immediately occurred to me that this would be an ideal solution for off-grid computing. You can archive thousands of books and references on a single hard drive, have some instructional videos, maps, and more. You may even run lightweight CAD programs that would give any aspiring designer a significant advantage in a recovering economy where no one else has access to any computational power. Since it can charge itself with solar power, you don't need to use up your stock of batteries or generator gas to keep this resource available. - Walter H.

JWR Replies: First, let me state forthrightly that beans, bullets and Band-Aids come FIRST. Everything else should have much lower priority in you prepping. Don't get caught up in buying gadgets at the expense of first keeping yourself fed, warm, dry, and safe.

Samsung's solution will work, but it leaves you dependent upon a netbook an integral PV panel that lacks a CD-ROM drive. My recommendation is to instead go modular and buy the following:

A.) A slightly more capable rugged laptop (new or refurbished) with a modest sized-screen for low power consumption. (A Panasonic Toughbook would be ideal), and

B.) A larger (5 to 15 watt) amorphous panel or hard panel (depending on your mobility constraints), and

C.) A 12 Volt DC jump pack and the requisite cabling.

Not only does this approach add CD and DVD capability, but it also divides your risk. While wonderfully compact, an integrated laptop with PV panel represents all-or-nothing concentrated risk. With my approach, if either the PV panel or the laptop ever fails, they can be replaced. A further benefit is that the jump pack can also be charged by your vehicle and can used a hub to power other small devices and a DC-to-DC battery charging tray. In a worst case world without fuel, your vehicle's battery can still be a useful stationary battery, and your vehicle's dashboard makes a good weatherproof place to position a solar panel. But if you are in an urban or suburban environment where auto burglary is a risk, then remove the battery, and wire it up in a room on the sunny side of your dwelling.

James Wesley;
I came into the prepper movement (without being aware there was any such movement) by degrees, through religion, a few years ago.  As an old “Latin Mass” traditionalist Catholic, there is a tendency amongst our ilk to look with suspicion upon that which is trumpeted as “progressive” or “liberal” or even “modern.”  Not that we are against real progress in some area, or resist modernity for its own sake, but because a real Catholic ought to be a spiritual man, who rejects much of what the modern world tells him is “good,” since these same things so often hinder spiritual progress, family stability, and focus on salvation and the afterlife (e.g., Television, immoderate or impure internet usage, music which appeals to the base emotions rather than lifting the mind to God, etc).

It would probably not surprise you then to learn that, with this suspicious gaze fixed at the modern world, there are many amongst us who focus that suspicion on world politics, economic issues, and social trends.  One among us, Bishop Richard Williamson (of the Society of St. Pius X), being a broadminded pastor of souls, is charitable enough to comment upon some of these “not strictly or directly religious” matters, because he understands that nevertheless, these socio-political-economic matters will have a direct bearing upon the ability of us to work out their salvation.  And so he speaks frequently upon matters such as gold/silver as wealth preservation assets; gardening and food storage; 911 as an inside job (I.e., warning of the police state, and those who control this nation’s foreign policy; etc).

So one day after Mass, this guy I knew started talking to me about buying physical gold and silver, and from there I progressed to learn about food storage, guns/ammo, and the whole “shebang.”
Not too long ago, I read "Patriots" and recommended it to several people who also read it.  I will read it again soon.  The appeal of the book for me (other than that it served as a very practical checklist of things to consider in my own preparations) was that it was set in a good versus evil context.  The men and women who were the Patriots were good, moral people.  Their enemies were those who were evil-doers.  I took from the book that the “collapse” was portrayed as a chance to start this country over again, and an opportunity to remedy many things that fly in the face of Christian morality and Constitutional government (i.e., No collapse was not desired, but if it must come, the survivors would have to rebuild this country into……something).
About that time, I broadened my list of regularly visited survivalist internet sites.  What I saw from those that contained chat forums was heartily depressing: I was shocked to learn that most preppers had a hatred, contempt, or at best a heavy distrust of religion and God.  It made me wonder: If there is a collapse, what kind of country would these survivors rebuild?  Would such men really be of the caliber depicted as Patriots in the book?  How would they be any different than the biker gang depicted if things ever got tough?  Can Godless men really be good men (that is, Godlessness was tried in communist Russia and China, and also in Nazi Germany with less than flattering results). To me, that the atheists (if there really is any such thing; mostly they are those who believe in, but hate, God) have the ascendancy in the prepper movement is worrisome: Modern secular Godless society is disgusting enough in many respects.  What do you think a post-collapse society of atheists would degenerate into?  So the primary purpose of this article, then, is to exhort--even at the risk of minor OPSEC violations--fellow Christians to spread the prepper movement amongst themselves, to ensure that if we ever have to rebuild, there will be something better than Mad-Max to look forward to. 
Here are a couple things that I do, for what its worth, toward this end:

1) Network with people at Church: Generally, these people tend to be of a higher moral caliber than those who disregard Church (Yes, there are legions who fall short of attaining to the morals they profess, but at least they are in the fight; at least Christian morality is important to them, and as Archbishop Fulton Sheen once commented: If the Church had to be as perfect as you seem to want it, you wouldn’t be welcome to join it!).  Generally, they are people you already know something about, which will make your prospecting more productive.  To a higher degree, you will know who will be worth the time to talk to, and who won’t than if you spoke, for example, to people at work or school.

2)  When talking to those you know to be irreligious preppers, do not wear your religion on your sleeve (which is not to say you hide it either).  Try to impress them with the integrity of your character.  Most people--religious or not--respect this in people.  If someone respects you as a person, they have a better chance of being receptive, and seeking out, your opinions.  As St. Francis of Assisi used to say: “Preach always, and if necessary, use words.”

3) Write!  I would view myself as a hypocrite having such concerns, but never doing anything to try and turn the tide.  There are so many internet forums, magazines, newspapers, etc which are overrun with anti-Christian preppers that one would think prepping itself was somehow at odds with Christianity.  Instead of despairing, formulate your opinions and get them out there!  Do not let the Godless hordes out-maneuver you.  They are organized in a unified hatred of even the natural law (i.e., those things all men know to be right and wrong, until their consciences are indoctrinated into confusion).  If you want to live in a better post-collapse world, you need to be prepared and organized to put a plan into place, and this means heightening awareness through the various media outlets and personal communication.  You need to write.  The globalists, Masons, atheists, etc all have plans ready to go.  What do we have?  Little bunker ghettos and isolated retreats, but no plan as to how to remake a better society.  If collapse happened today, we would be snuffed out fairly easily.

I want to end with you all dwelling on the three preceding points.  If the Christian preppers do not increase in proportion, and coordinate and communicate with each other, what is the point of surviving a collapse?  The barbarism that follows will be much worse for them than dying in the initial conflagration (Have you ever seen "The Road”?).

I recently bought a number of magazines pouches made in Utah by The Vest Guy. I was very impressed with their quality. Great materials, expert stitching, and dimensionally correct. The particular pouches that I bought are for the Saiga 12 shotgun (both box and drum magazines) in MultiCam camouflage. But the company also makes a very wide variety of load bearing vests, duffles, drag bags, packs, and umpteen varieties of magazine pouches. Some of these appear unique. For instance, I noticed that they offer some X-Series .308 drum magazine pouches and FN PS90 pouch varieties that I haven't seen from any other maker.

They have a very wide range of sizes and colors. For practical preppers, unless you live on a sailboat or out in a desert then I primarily recommend olive drab or MultiCam. Yes, I know that black is more popular because of the SWAT mystique. But ask yourself: How much flora and fauna found in nature is colored dark black? Very little. I have found that olive drab blends in nicely both day and night, but in daylight black sticks out like proverbial sore thumb, even in urban environments. So I advise opting for versatility rather than garnering Mall Ninja style points.

The Vest Guy also makes a lot of "drop leg" holsters and pouches, which I dislike from a practical standpoint. I suppose they have to keep their customers that are in the extreme fringes of the Airsoft Crowd happy. But FWIW, I think that if Airsofters ever had to carry the weight of real, loaded magazines around, then some of their gear preferences would change rapidly. Again, choose the items that you order wisely. Just be cause it is cataloged doesn't make it practical.

If you are tired of buying low quality imported web gear (usually from Mainland China), then add The Vest Guy right next to Maxpedition and Wiggy's on your list of quality gear makers that have the integrity to still manufacture their products here in the United States. Kudos!

OBTW, for the sake of full disclosure: I paid full full ticket retail for my Vest Guy pouches and I'll gain nothing from this endorsement, so the FTC can take a flying leap.

This McAlvany podcast interview is a must: Bill King Interview:  Europe is the Detonator - The U.S. is the Bomb. King points to the collapse of socialism in western countries as the core of the collapse that started in 2009, and derivatives as the biggest risk.

Reader Stephen M. mentioned that The Economic Collapse blog posted a good summary of the US national debt situation. Here is a key quote: "If we do raise the debt ceiling, that will 'kick the can down the road' a little bit farther. However, world financial markets will still crash eventually and our eventual economic nightmare will be even worse. Well, can't we just 'inflate our way' out of debt? No, unfortunately things are just not that easy. If we try to inflate our way out of debt, interest rates will likely rise just as quickly as inflation does, and that would be absolutely catastrophic."

The Daily Bell reports: Federal Reserve 'Embeds' Employees in Banks

Items from The Economatrix:

Another Broker Halts Trading in Gold and Silver Products

The Chinese Government is Buying Up Economic Assets and Huge Tracts of Land All Over the U.S.

IMF Cuts US Growth Forecast, Warns of Crisis

Two Million Construction Jobs May Be Lost For Good

Finally! Wisconsin may soon adopt nondiscretionary concealed carry permits. (Thanks to Phil T. for the link.)

   o o o

W.J. sent us some more good legislative news, from Pennsylvania: Deadly force expansion passes Pennsylvania Senate.

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Reader K.K. mentioned the WWII irregular scout unit Castner's Cutthroats in Alaska. K.K. notes: "They lived off the land, and out of a backpack when deployed." Readers should refer to Wikipedia as a starting point for researching the unit's modus operandi.

   o o o

More than 30 readers sent me the link to a recent hatchet piece by leftist journalist Nick Geranios (a Spokane, Washington stringer for the AP wire service): Extremists finding fertile ground in Northwest US. Geranios, who loves quoting biased sources like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) had previously done his best to muddy the reputation of the preparedness community in several other articles. One of these was titled: Americans turning to survivalists for advice (published in December, 2008.) To besmirch the reputation of the entire Inland Northwest region, Geranios repeatedly dredges up the ghosts of the Aryan Nations, who were successfully sued and run out of Idaho 11 years ago. The actions of that long-defunct handful of neo-Nazis is still be used by leftists to mischaracterize not just Idaho but the entire Inland Northwest. Also note how Geranios none-too-subtly libels Pastor Chuck Baldwin (former presidential candidate for the Constitution Party) by including him in a list of "well-known figures in the anti-government movement". He lists Baldwin right alongside absolute lunatic fringe anti-semites, racists, and neo-Nazis. Please don't take Nick Geranios and this sort of activist journalism seriously.

   o o o

SurvivalBlog's correspondent The Werewolf sent some news about flex fuel truck developments in Brazil: Iveco Trakker Bi-fuel Ethanol-Diesel for Brazil

"A person can be a partisan or a survivalist, but not both. The survivalist defends himself, his people and his redoubt against all comers. It's not just his right, it's his duty. He may have standing patrols or mount a rescue operation, or do a preemptive strike against bad guys advancing on his community, or even take control of a strategic hilltop. He may make arrangements with other survivalists for mutual aid, much like volunteer fire departments do. All this is defensive. What he will not do is join with others in wholesale annihilation merely to expand turf. Legitimate defense does not involve gang war. The survivalist wins this game by not playing, which is to say he wins by staying away from crowds. Same as always." - Ol' Remus

My wife just read aloud your touching tribute to the late Ron Hood.  

I feel that Ron's death was a needless loss to the survival community and his family.   If men have their PSA checked annually, there's no reason this disease should sneak up on them.   I was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago when I was 60.   Instead of surgery, which can leave one impotent and/or incontinent, I chose proton therapy at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, as did my father-in-law.   My current PSA is 0.22. Thank You, God!   I hope that you have been getting yours checked regularly!   Thanks,- Bob H. in Oregon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Safecastle (one of our advertisers since 2005) is having a one-day, 25%-off sale on Mountain House cans on Thursday, June 23rd. These canned foods are in stock and ready to ship--while supplies last. It's their first such sale of 2011, after Mountain House's well-publicized production/backorder issues through the first half of the year.


Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 tracked down, purchased, and read over 25 books this past winter, all having to do with gardening, food storage, and food processing.  My goal was to come away from many long winter nights soaking and reading in my claw foot tub with more than wrinkled toes.  My agenda was simple: I wanted these new, used, and out of print gems to provide instruction and inspiration in formulating a plan to grow as much of my family’s food as possible as soon as the snow finally melted—and then put the harvest in storage.  As I soaked in the hot water, I also soaked in the sage advice and timeless tips of generations of fellow growers. This in combination with a year of botany study I just completed with my kids and my previous gardening experience and I feel like I have a fairly good grip on everything from asparagus anthers to the best zone 5 zucchini varieties. 

After all that study I needed to put together a plan.  As great as it is to know how hand pollinate my squash blossoms, or that in my region I can grow one variety of from each of four species of squash (maxima, mixta, moschata, and pepo) for seed without them crossing with each other, how many squash seeds should I plant? Every gardener sets about planning their crops with a slightly different goal in mind and a different set of circumstances influencing their growth and storage.  For example, I never so much as perused an article on how to grow 600 pound pumpkins and I read precisely zero chapters on how to produce gorgeous, prize winning camellias because those are not my goals.  My sole goal is sustenance. Delicious, homegrown, nutritious sustenance, but survival food all the same. I wanted to try a sort of trial run on how I would garden if my life depended on it, all while working toward a large enough garden space to sustain my family and more if needed.

Surprisingly, I found nearly as much bad info out there as good.  I ruled out the advice of a few “survival” web sites who seriously touted low fat, low calorie garden veggies as the best survival garden foods, extolling the low fat/ low carb/ low calorie virtues of all the veggies included on their lists.  Now, I love lettuce and cucumbers just as much as the next gal, but if I had to choose my top twenty-five foods to survive on, then neither would make the cut.  As I marveled at how impossible it would be to sustain life on cucumbers and lettuce, I also wondered how these “survival experts” would suggest that you store them.  I was also wary of the “survival garden in a can” concept.  Storing seeds is a great idea and these companies may offer a great service, but if all your seeds sit around in a can until society collapses what do you suppose you will do with them then?  To me, when your life depends on it seems like a horrible time to learn to garden.  Neither a healthy, tilled and enriched garden bed nor the means to preserve your harvest is magically included in that can of seeds.  It takes more than seeds to grow food.  We need practice. We also need tools, insect and animal control, a water supply, and in my northern climate some seed starting materials and a cold frame come in handy.  Seed storage isn’t much of a plan at all if you can’t actually grow them when you need them to survive.  

After consuming every last book I purchased and sifting through the wealth of both good and bad information on the Internet I wanted to get local.  I have a friend who eats so much squash her skin turns orange… seriously.  I peppered her with questions.  Not only does she grow a multitude of squash, but she does it a couple of miles from my house in our shared climate and weather conditions, and in very similar soil. Then I spoke with a retired neighbor who used to grow a huge garden in what is now my back yard.  What better expert could there be on my microclimate and soil capabilities?  I spent some time in online gardening forums and exchanging ideas with my mom, who is a master gardener. I read, talked, breathed, and dreamed companion planting and compost for the last seven months (perhaps to the slight annoyance of some friends and family), but I did pick up a great deal of knowledge and ideas just by talking to people. In that spirit I thought I should take a break from hoeing weeds and share some of the things I have learned in case anyone else can benefit from it. Since there are endless resources available to explain how to grow food in your garden, I want to concentrate on what I’m growing and why.

Most importantly, I learned that reading a stack of books and not actually working up a garden makes a person akin to a ‘childcare expert’ who has a degree… but no actual children of their own.  Secondary only to that, the most important thing to me is to prioritize for crops that require little or no processing, refrigeration, freezing, or other costly and time consuming special treatment that depends on electrons flowing through the power lines.  I want to grow food I know will be useful even if the freezer no longer functions without having to spend all of August and September sweating over a canner. I don’t want to have to depend on electricity in any way for the production or preservation of the brunt of our homegrown food supply.  These crops would also have to prove hearty and nutritious, something to fill you up and stick to your ribs. That is, something quite a bit more substantial than those survival cucumbers I read about. Root crops were the starting point as an answer to my family’s needs.

Root Crops
Root crops are a perfectly created source of calories, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are therefore quite filling and healthy.  After all, those roots are where the plant stores all of its nutrition over its dormancy to be able to reemerge the next season.  Potatoes in particular sustained most of Ireland until blight caused the infamous famine in the late nineteenth century.  They may be my most important storage crop. Potatoes are also recommended as a first crop to plant in newly tilled ground.  According to my research, every 100 row feet of potato plants yields somewhere between 150 and 250 pounds of potatoes.  Late season varieties will of course have higher yields than early varieties because they have longer to mature. 

Plenty of information is available on how to grow potatoes, but a few facts that I found interesting were: Smaller seed pieces planted farther apart (16-24”) will yield a smaller number of large potatoes.  Larger seed pieces planted a little closer (12-18”) will give you more potatoes, but they will not be as large.  Hilling up your potato plants gives them more loose soil to grow in, keeps weeds under control, conserves water, and reportedly increases yields.  The plant will continue to grow roots up its stem and form more tubers in the soil you cover it with.  Potatoes also must be protected from sunlight—that is fairly common information.  Sun exposure will turn your potatoes green.  Contrary to popular belief, however, that green pigment is only chlorophyll.  It is only an indicator of poisonous (glycoalkaloid) toxin buildup and any green-tinged potato should not be consumed by man nor beast.  Don’t just cut off the green parts. The poison is spread throughout the entire potato.  Also of value to me was the fact that potatoes are on the “dirty dozen” list of fruits and veggies with the highest amount of pesticide residue.  If you open a new bag of potatoes from the grocery store and take a whiff it is more often than not reminiscent of the fertilizer and pesticide aisle at your local gardening or hardware store.  Try it if you don’t believe me.  Then tell me again why you would never grow potatoes because they are so cheap to buy at the store. Commercially grown potatoes are routinely doused in chemical fertilizers and pesticides whether they are needed or not and then fumigated after harvest to prevent them from sprouting in storage. I apply wood ashes, Epsom salt, and bone meal in the trench I plant my potatoes in and use insecticidal soap to control bugs.  Pyrethrin, a readily available pesticide which is derived from chrysanthemums, is dusted on my plants only if the soap fails to do the job.  Which potato would you rather eat? Homegrown potatoes are basically dug, cured, and stored at the end of the season after the vines have died back.  They can be transformed into a plethora of dishes too plentiful to list.

If there is a rival nutritional powerhouse to the potato, it could only be the sweet potato.  Packed with complex carbs, fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, and minerals, sweet potatoes are a winner.  While they are commonly grown in warmer climates, I have read of people growing them well into Canada so I started my sweet potato slips in a sunny window in late March.  They are not actually related to potatoes, but a member of the morning glory family.  The leaves and shoots are also edible and can be grown all winter as houseplants, nibbled on, then used to start a new crop the next spring.  Yields seem to be very similar to potato, but depend largely on length of growing season. The longer they grow, the larger they get. Lift at your preferred size before a hard freeze or after the first light frost, cure in a warm, humid place, and store. You can mash, bake, fry, or smother sweet potatoes in marshmallows if that’s you preference.  I can almost smell the sweet potato pie already.  This year we are going to try making “sweet potato sugar” by drying and grinding slices of sweet potatoes.  It sounds like a promising sugar substitute, oatmeal topping, and granola ingredient to me and I would love to get anyone’s input who has tried it. 

Wrapping up the root veggies, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets, onions, and garlic all appeal to me for the same reasons.  Grow, cure, and store, or in some cases skip the curing and get straight to the storing. Surely devote as much garden space as you can to these important crops.  Onions and garlic can also be interplanted with almost everything else in the garden and will help repel bugs, rabbits, deer, and any other beasties you can think of and have many health benefits aside from their food value. I hope to conserve plenty of time, money (freezer bags, canning jars and lids, electricity, etc.) and freezer space by devoting a large area to these crops. These are my stew, soup, casserole, and potpie fillers and flavor enhancers.  They all roast well and most can be added to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes for variety and flavor. 

Although not grown underground, pumpkins and winter squash are next on my list. Grow, cure, store.  See my pattern?  In addition to feeding my family from the richly nutritious flesh, the seeds are also a notable source of protein, zinc, and other minerals. I add pumpkin and squash puree to everything I can think of. Breads, quick breads, pies, muffins, casseroles, and even my crowd pleasing homemade mac and cheese gets a nutritional boost and orange color enhancement from my secret ingredient: butternut squash puree, and no one has ever guessed why.  Pumpkin cinnamon rolls are a winner and squash dinner rolls are a family favorite.  Cubed squash roasted with potatoes and onions is a fall staple. Depending on the variety, I have come to expect from 2-10 fruits per vine, grown three vines per hill.  My 14 hills of Waltham Butternut squash, Small Sugar pumpkins, Blue Hubbard, and Striped Cushaw should then give me somewhere in the neighborhood of 200+ squash and pumpkins with any luck.  With only one variety from each of the aforementioned species and God’s will, I can save seeds from the cream of the crop and have even better squash and seeds to barter with next year.  I can also share the squash bounty with my chickens, which was one reason why I planted so many.  While squash is tasty, we don’t love squash to the point of turning orange from eating it! If you are interested in saving seeds I highly recommend the book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth.)

Corn is next on my list. For every 100 feet of corn planted, the conservative consensus seems to be an expectation of at least 120 ears.  This is my first year trying open pollinated corn.  I am a little concerned that the lack of sweetness we are accustomed to may not appeal to my family as fresh corn on the cob, but I am totally looking forward to good, clean, un-tampered with corn for my family and my flock.  Sweet corn is only the beginning.  Freshly milled cornmeal and corn flour ground from the dried corn is something I am looking forward to as a staple that far outweighs the corn on the cob of summer in my book.  Cornbread, johnnycakes, polenta, muffins, sponge cakes, tortillas, and even adding some of the meal to biscuits, breads and pizza dough is what I am looking forward to. The eggs from my hens should also benefit from real corn instead of the nutritionally inferior Franken-food corn I am currently feeding them from the local elevator. Over 200 row feet won’t be able to support us and the birds completely, but it’s a starting point and I plan to till up more yard and add to it next year.  Corn can be left in the garden to dry until you can get to it so long as there’s nothing else that will get to it first.  Shelled corn will take up much less storage space than corn left on the cob.  Grind corn as you need it to get the most nutritional benefit and best flavor.

Beans wrap up my easy storage list.  Everyone I know is planting green beans or wax beans in their garden, but nobody seems to be planting dry beans. I am growing four varieties of dry beans this year for a little variety in winter usage and seed for next year.  At 15-25 pounds harvested per 100 row feet, beans provide a great source of protein and fiber.  Of special value to me is the Vermont Cranberry bean, which is a sweet heirloom dry bean that grows to maturity in 65 days.  I could almost get two successive crops of this one, but at a minimum can put in staggered plantings.  That should give me some protection from inclement weather, plus split the harvest and handling into easier to handle portions.  Beans fix valuable nitrogen in the soil and are another beneficial crop to interplant with others. Outside of your usual chili, bean soups, and baked beans, beans can be sprouted for salads and stir fries, added mashed to ground beef (or TVP) recipes like sloppy joes and tacos, or pureed and used to replace part of the fats and impart some protein in flavorful baked goods like brownies and molasses cookies.  Black bean salsa can be a meal in itself.  Beans can be milled just like grains to add extra protein to your flour, and have been since Bible times.    

Most people have heard of Ezekiel bread.  In Ezekiel 4 God explains to Ezekiel how to prepare bread from grains, beans, and lentils to fully sustain life for 390 days of lying on his side and prophesying while the people of Israel were punished for their iniquities.  As I read, “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment: That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.” (Ezekiel 4:16-17 KJV) I can’t help but wonder if we should heed our Creator’s advice to Ezekiel and lay in quantities of the prescribed ingredients against possible wrath imposed on our own wayward nation, but perhaps I digress.

Back to gardening, beans recently grown in your own garden won’t require baking soda to soften, will cook faster than the beans that sat on the store shelf for a year or two before you bought them, and can be replanted in a future year’s garden for  a crop that pays dividends.  Beans should be frozen or heated before storage to kill weevils and any other creepy crawlies.  In a situation with no available electricity I would certainly have enough cold winter nights to do the job.  Even with this treatment and shelling them (which I plan to coincide with family movie nights), you have an excellent source of protein and fiber that can be stored for years with a minimal time investment. 

The previously mentioned crops make up the majority of my survival garden plan, but sunflowers and grain amaranth cap off my easy store harvest.  Sunflower seeds are an easy to grow source of fat, protein, and many vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin E.  Sunflower seeds can be eaten out of hand with their shells intact or de-shelled through a very coarse setting on a burr grain mill and winnowed to remove the shells.  Shelled sunflower seeds can be added to many baked goods, salads, stir fries, and trail mixes.  Include them in a batch of pemmican for hikes and hunting trips.  Roasted and ground, they make sunbutter, a tasty peanut butter substitute very popular with my youngest child.  While whole sunflower heads can be fed to chickens with no processing, you can also reach for the opposite end of the storage spectrum by investing in a home oil press and creating your own sustainable source of cooking oil. 

Amaranth is the only grain I know of that contains lysine, the amino acid missing from other grains and necessary to form a complete protein. That makes any flour suddenly far more nutritious just by milling some amaranth along with another grain and results in flour with protein your body can readily absorb. This is my first year trying amaranth in the garden, but my intention is to cut some seed heads to leave whole for the chickens and to thresh some for my family. [JWR Adds: As I've mentioned before, be careful with Amaranth. It can become a weed that tends to spread and it can take over garden beds and open spaces.]

To recap, without heating up your canner, messing up your kitchen, or opening your freezer door, you can have all of these fresh and nutritious foods available to help sustain you all winter long: potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets, onions, garlic, corn, and beans. Some will last longer in storage than others and their usage should be planned accordingly. Also noteworthy is that with the exception of bean seeds, these crops can all be planted early in the season, allowing you the opportunity to get them in the ground first and then concentrate on other crops.  With a little more work you can add sunflowers and amaranth, which will require threshing. When I add just wheat, eggs, and chicken to that list I see a very diverse diet with so many possibilities.  Although I advocate additional food storage items and techniques, I would still do fine if these were the only foods I could eat. (I would still miss my coffee terribly and long for an occasional Hershey bar or hamburger, but it sure would beat daily rations of white rice and old pinto beans in my book, plus it can be achieved on a much tighter budget than most food storage concepts. )

All that is left is to figure out where to put it all.  For me, an unheated room in the basement will house the goodies that want to be stored just above freezing.  My laundry room cabinets can hold the things that like it a little warmer.  I will fully embrace fall décor by decoratively piling squash in every available corner of our home until their population is slowly transformed into delicious dishes and chicken food. Just in case the world unravels midwinter and jeopardizes my indoor stash perhaps I’ll bury a couple of trash cans of produce in the yard and blanket them in straw.  For the easiest storage of all and assurance you will have something to eat when the snow is gone, many of these crops can be left to overwinter in the ground they grew in with a layer of mulch for protection in colder areas.  You can "kill two birds with one stone" and rake your leaves on top of your parsnips this fall.  If my power fails I can rest assured these harvested items won’t be harmed.  My frozen peas and green beans may become a soggy mess, but my cache of easily stored veggies will still be a reliable part of my overall food storage plan.

Gardening certainly takes a time investment, but returns so much more than food.  A sense of accomplishment, some physical exercise, knowing where your food came from and how it was grown, passing valuable knowledge down to the next generation, the spiritual peace of getting your hands in God’s dirt and witnessing His wisdom in creation, and at the very least a suntan are a few of the benefits you don’t eat.

I’m sure plenty of the people reading this article already grow wonderful gardens.  This paragraph is for those who don’t: Growing food doesn’t require a vast swath of acreage.  If lack of land is your reason for not gardening then stop making excuses for yourself. Even if you only have a balcony overlooking a busy city street you can practice container gardening (while you are hopefully making plans to move out soon).  Plant a few pots of something and experiment with natural fertilizers and insect control on a small scale so you have a plan in case you are depending on your crop one day and Miracle Grow is no longer available.  Go find a vacant lot or abandoned foreclosure house and stick some seeds in the ground there.  See if your community has a community garden or growing co-op and start one if not.  Or make a deal with an established gardener to help with the weeding in exchange for some of the produce. There is still plenty of time to get some practice under your belt this season. Wherever you are, I encourage you to find some seeds and put them in the earth.  Do it with children if you can round them up.  It is important for us to teach children how to grow food.  Their generation seems destined for destitution and their very lives could depend on it. For that matter, our generation seems to be headed toward an overdue dose of hard times long before they do and I want to make sure my skills are up to snuff, don’t you?

I could go on from my soapbox all day about why the entire nation should be gardening, but since the sun is still up and so is the grid I am going to go stick a few more tomato plants and melon seeds in the ground then do a little online research to determine if it’s better to buy or build a large dehydrator.  Now that my easy storage survival crops are in I have the desire to branch out into the other tasty things.  Although I certainly can’t provide all of the details necessary to grow, harvest, and store all of these crops, I hope something I shared will encourage somebody else to get outdoors and get growing. God bless you and your garden.

Two of the most frequent questions that I get from SurvivalBlog readers are why I assign pen names to writers even when not asked to do so, and why I don't have an official SurvivalBlog forum. I'll explain both:

Pen Names
I assign a nom de plume to protect your identity. This is standard practice with my blog, especially with controversial topics.  Please pick your own pen names that are unique. I suggest that you use random pen names each time that you send something to post that is controversial. Also, be advised that if you pick something common (like "Tanker") then keep in mind that others have likely used in other Internet venues. So it is possible that someone might make some inferences about you that are not deserved. (Based upon the content of their posts.) 

My quandary is striking a balance between privacy and handing out kudos.  Sadly, the Internet era is also the era of intrusive government, so I tend toward intentional obfuscation. I love giving credit where credit is due, but I dread the day that anyone's door ever get's knocked down at 3 a.m. because of something that was posted in SurvivalBlog. Please forgive me for erring on the side of caution.

The Lack of a SurvivalBlog Forum
I don't have a forum because I don't have the time to moderate it.  Even as it is, I get more than 200 e-mails per day. I pick just a few of those to post. If I were to open up a forum, I suspect that it would get 400+ posts per day.  That would necessitate having a staff of two to four moderators to handle that properly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  I'm presently finishing up writing and editing two novels, so I simply don't have an extra six hours per day to be a forum moderator.

Lastly, two reminders: If you ever send something that you don't want posted, then prominently then please flag it "Not for posting." Also, please refrain from trying to get me to join Twitter, or any of the other social networks. When I get e-mails proclaiming that "John Smith is following you on Twitter", it drives me crazy. I don't respond to any of these because joining a social network is both a privacy risk and a time sink.

The Onion Routing (TOR or Tor) project is one of the best ways to stay anonymous on the web. The project was initially funded by the Navy, but over a few years evolved into a non-profit organization. The goal of the TOR project is twofold: to allow for the anonymous browsing of the internet, and to allow people to connect to the .onion network.

This is a basic illustration of how it works is this. Lets say every internet site you visit is a store front in a basic town. You go in and out of stores in the daylight. People around you, who know how to look, can follow you around. They can see what you are viewing and track your movements. Navigating through Tor is like browsing the web in a dark warehouse. People can see you entering and leaving the warehouse, but what you do in there is untraceable. It is used in many nations where there is no such thing as being anonymous online, such as mainland China.

When I say untraceable I am not really telling the truth. The NSA, Chinese Government, and such have the technology. However, 99.99 percent of people should not have to worry about being tracked by them. If you are, then you have much bigger problems to worry about.

The reason that you can’t be traced is that Tor encrypts every action you make on the web. It is then sent to different routers, which each peel off a layer of the encryption (thus the onion reference). The end result is that no router knows the starting and ending path of the information, or what the information actually is. This is why the Tor system is so powerful.

So that is the first function of the Tor project. What is the other, you ask? Well, my prepping friends, let us take a journey into the under web.

I once saw a statistic that is actually pretty amazing: Only roughly three percent of the Internet is viewable by Google. Remember all those hundreds of millions of search results you get when you search for something? That’s three percent. The rest is know as the deep web or the under web. A large majority of it is boring. For example, anything that requires a password to view or edit is part of the under web. Therefore, your Facebook profile is part of the deep web. A lot of it is also corporate files and such. Much of it is really underwhelming.

There are, however, certain web sites that can only be viewable when using Tor. These are called .onion sites. These are mostly unmoderated and super anonymous pages.

Have you ever heard of those hidden online places where hackers exchange stolen personal identity date? Child porn? Hire assassins? Buy drugs? Communicate sensitive data (governments, Wikileaks, Anonymous (the Hacktivist’s), Lulzsec, et cetera)? Most of these happen on the .onion networks. That’s why the authorities can’t deal with it. Tracking down one person on the .onion network is like trying to search for Osama, much less tracking down the millions upon millions that use it. Many terrorist cells use these networks to communicate. If you want something totally illegal or want to do something totally unethical then you can find it in onionland.

So I am sure you are asking yourself, “How on Earth can this be of any use to me?” Many people use the .onion network to connect to each other. They have ultra secure email, instant messaging, and site hosting. You can create a site on the .onion, and the only people who will ever know it exists are the people you give the address to. One day the .onion, with all its flaws, may be the only way people can safely spread information. This is why China and the citizens having revolutions in MENA use the onionland. There are also many sites that have things you may find in The Anarchist's Cookbook, and other information that might be of value to preppers. [JWR Adds: Be forewarned that despite multiple editing iterations, The Anarchist's Cookbook still includes faulty directions for making nitroglycerine that are extremely dangerous, even if followed word-for-word.]

There is no greater threat to tyranny than the uncontrollable spread of information.

Now, has this intrigued you enough to start using Tor? Good! You can download all you need at the Tor project web site. How do you get access into the onion network? A good place to start is core.onion. From there you can access the hidden wiki, tor directory, and talk.masked. I am not going to tell you how to get there though, because if you can’t find it you probably shouldn’t be there.

Tips for Browsing in Onionland:
Because of the threats of viruses and other nasty things, I would suggest updating your firewall and virus scanner.
To further negate the risk of infection I would suggest downloading a Linux distribution of your choice (my favorite is Ubuntu, and you can dual-boot by downloading Wubi)
Always assume you are less secure than you really are. When in doubt, don’t click on the link.

There is a whole other world down there. It is the wild west of the internet. Even if you never go there, you should know how. One day it may be the only way of getting information in and out of this country. Regards, - N.J.

You might not have noticed that the US Dollar Index has been falling recently. (At 74.77, the last time I checked.) Hmmmm... With all the turmoil with the EU periphery, common sense would dictate that the US Dollar should be appreciating rapidly versus the Euro. But it isn't. So what is the real story, behind the news? I suspect that the US Dollar is in for some very deep trouble in the next few months.

Steven M. sent this from Zero Hedge: After Dumping 30% of its Treasury Holdings in Half a Year, Russia Warns it Will Continue Selling US Debt

Also from Steven: U.S. existing-home sales fall to six-month low

Debt Crisis May Overwhelm Euro Zone Says IMF. (Thank to Patrick S.)

Lumberman suggested Bob Chapman's recent piece in his International Forecaster newsletter: The Collapse of Nations All By The Hand Of Corrupt Bankers.

C.D.V. sent this: Risk of U.S. credit rating downgrade increased: S&P C.D.V. highlighted on quote: "'Theoretically, there's a lot of flexibility on the fiscal and the monetary side: you have a central bank that can expand its balance sheet, and that's a real boon," Moritz Kraemer, head of sovereign credit ratings for Europe at Standard & Poor's, said on Tuesday". C.D.V.'s comment: "That's funny, I consider that a real negative." 

Items from The Economatrix:

Stock Collapse and $12,000 Gold?

Mass Rioting in Greece as Economists Warn of Global "Armageddon Scenarios"

System-wide Meltdown as US to Enter Hyperinflation

Wall Street Braces for New Layoffs as Profits Wane

Stocks Rise Fourth Straight Day on Greek Hopes

Reader J.L. has very kindly expanded my "List of Lists" spreadsheet. It is now available for free download. (Note that this spreadsheet and the information contained therein are for your personal, non-commercial use only--not for re-posting or re-publishing in any from. This is copyrighted material. All rights reserved.)

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In the past 24 hours, I've heard from several AOL users who have mentioned that they've been unable to access SurvivalBlog. The problem is with AOL site, not at our server. Please try re-launching your browser and/or re-starting your computer.  If that doesn't work, then try using either the Safari or Firefox browser.  They are great browsers, and available free.

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Tip: Blender and Mason Jar. (Thanks to Justin M. for the link.)

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Troy H. wrote to mention a company in Seattle, Washington that does Electric Car Conversions. JWR's Comment: FWIW, I have several friends and consulting clients that have bought or built their own electric vehicles. These include several that have converted electric golf carts into ATVs (with larger tires and heavy duty suspension work), two that bought a Bad Boy Buggies, and one who is presently converting an MG Midget (similar to this) with an electric fork lift motor, to use as a short distance commute car.

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Linda U. spotted this: Have container, will settle: Couple homesteading in the woods of Ellsworth with a unique spin on housing. The article notes: "More information about the couples’ endeavor can be found online at their blog, www.thearkhaus.com." In their blog you'll see photos of an older (pre-1987) W123 chassis diesel Mercedes and a U.S. Army surplus Deuce-and-a-half truck with a shop van. Those are both wise choices, since they can run on biodiesel or even home heating oil, in a pinch. Other than not getting married first, this couple is starting off on the right foot! Living in a northern clime like Maine, they need to start cutting firewood, pronto!

"There is no crime more infamous than the violation of truth. It is apparent that men can be social beings no longer than they believe each other. When speech is employed only as the vehicle of falsehood, every man must disunite himself from others, inhabit his own cave and seek prey only for himself." - Dr. Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

So you have successfully prepped for every possible SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation, your house is completely off grid, you’ve stockpiled enough chow to feed you and everyone you know for three full years and you have amassed a huge arsenal of assault weapons and ammunition that is sufficient to put even your toddler in tactical gear, body armor and small arms for the next ten years of sustained combat operations. Everything should be good to go right?

So you’re sitting at work in your suit and tie and TEOTWAWKI just pops off, maybe it’s a rain of ICBMs hitting major American population centers, an EMP strike or any number of other situations. This is not the time to suddenly realize that you are eighty miles away from your homestead and are going to have to make it back to your house and family in a suit and tie with no supplies and no game plan.

The economy in recent years has forced many of us to drive an increasingly further and further distance from our homes in search of employment and nowadays many of us, regardless of what state we live in are forced to drive long commutes or even live outside of our home cities during the work week. The reality is that when and if a world changing event or even just a significant natural disaster hits, many of us will have to make a long and difficult trip home, utilizing a tiny amount of resources that we can pack into a car or carry on our backs. Simply shoving a seven day food and water supply along with a couple road flares into your trunk is not going to cut it and I’d like to suggest a more systematic approach to this situation.

First let’s take a look at your car, many of us drive all the way to our jobsite and even more of us at least drive it half way making it a valuable resource in the event we have to flee our workplace. Many of you probably drive rugged vehicles but for those of you (like me) who drive an economy car let me very quickly state that this vehicle is still an invaluable part of your escape and this advice has already been thought up with you in mind.

Your Car (or lack thereof)

No matter what you drive, it probably has a trunk and even if it doesn’t, it has a rear storage area, this piece of your car is what makes it highly useful, even if you have to ditch the thing after you get back to it. Think of this area of your car as the storage box on the Batmobile, it is a great spot to stow any number of tactical prepping equipment.

You might be saying “Hey, that is nonsense--anything I lock in my car can just get raided or looted whenever I have to park the thing during the day. First off, while it is true, anything you stow in the vehicle is subject to theft, let me go over some mitigating factors with you.

  • Alarm the vehicle, with the noisiest alarm that you can get, the louder the better but make sure to adjust the sensitivity so it doesn’t just go off the moment a bird lands at it.
  • Keep the exterior dirty or dusty, this decreases the likelihood it will appeal to the casual observer, remember thieves instinctively look for the shiniest piece of loot.
  • Park the car a few spaces (but not directly next to) a nice car, the nicer the better but it has to be significantly nicer than yours (the dirt and some dings help this).
  • Put on a club or other anti-theft device, no this will not keep your car from being stolen but it presents another “pain in the ass” for the would be criminal, thieves are lazy, they are going to pass up your car for the easy target.
  • Park in a highly visible location, the more remote, the better environment it will be to spend time breaking into it, if it’s across from the entrance to a store or other reputable venue it will be less likely to get violated.
  • Shave the lock on your trunk. Most auto-body places can do this for you and even if that EMP hits your key fob you can still get in via the manual trunk release in your car. The whole point is to make it just a little bit more annoying to get into; increasing your chances the thug in question will just move on.
  • Install a strong box in your trunk, these are readily available and come in all sorts of dimensions, if you don’t find one you like they can be fabricated by most people with a little welding experience quite easily. Just make sure you bolt it into your trunk or back seat in such a way as the bolts can be removed when the box is open (in case you need to temporarily remove the box).
  • Install secondary carrying belts inside this trunk or cargo area to hold pouches and other things, old canvas police web belts work great and cost between ten and twenty dollars, bolt them or clip them into place to increase the ergonomics of your storage space.
  • Remove all items from the front of your vehicle and clean it, you guessed it, what does the empty interior of a clean car look like? Boring, that’s what it looks like, you want nothing to draw attention to the vehicle or its contents and nothing to suggest there is anything of value worth committing a crime to access.
  •   Invest in some run flats if you can afford them, no one wants to change a tire when the world is ending because some teenager used the ensuing chaos to cause a little property damage.

Some things to store in your trunk include, but are not limited to:

  • GPS receiver and a compass (redundancy is key with navigation).
  • Maps of the state and cities you have to travel through on your commute (with highlighted routes and alternate routes to get home).
  • 1 Small, lightweight bug out bag with some first aid supplies, utility knife, enough food and water to last you for the amount of time it will take you to get home should you have to ditch the vehicle. Other goodies for this are a magnesium bar and a Bic lighter, a set of silverware and a tin or titanium Sierra cup along with some 550 or Para cord.
  • 1 change of clothes with appropriate warming layers, these should be nondescript and devoid of any logos or bright colors, you want to blend in.
  • 1 pair of good running shoes or hiking boots depending on what type of terrain you will be traveling on.
  • 1 small, concealable firearm with some spare magazines if you feel it is appropriate. Personally I wouldn’t want to be carrying a weapon at this stage of the game.
  • Several one ounce silver coins and a few twenty dollar bills (if one of these is worthless, the other will still likely be accepted).
  • A small GMRS radio and a hand held police scanner, both are for monitoring local events.
  • Baby wipes and a small airplane bottle of Listerine mouthwash, there are a million reasons to have these; you can shower with them, clean out cuts, etc.

The point of having these things readily available is to smoothly transition from work attire to traveling / hiking kit as soon as you regain access to your vehicle. This however may be impossible or take longer than anticipated so on your person you should have some of the following items, get in the habit of keeping them in a gym bag or backpack, most of us carry some form of bag with us anyway, make some room.

Your Body
Depending on where you work some of this may or may not be practical, regardless of what you can or can’t carry with you here’s some basics to maintain the ability to quickly change into something you can travel in.

Keep a gym bag with a fresh change of socks and a set of running clothes along with a pair of lightweight sneakers if you regularly go to work in an office environment. This will doubly add an excuse to use the gym that is no doubt located somewhere in or near your office, benefiting you for obvious reasons. Additionally, you need laminated set of maps to get you from your office to your car with alternate routes all marked or highlighted.

An Altoids tin survival kit, you can easily design your own or download instructions on the internet; you’d be amazed at what will fit into an Altoids tin. Here’s what’s in mine:

  • Bic mini lighter
  • 1 alcohol prep wipe
  • 1 dose (2 pills) of cold and flu medicine
  • 1 porcelain spark plug shield broken into three pieces wrapped in sandwich wrap
  • 1 4x4 inch sheet of aluminum foil folded twice
  • 1 razor blade
  • 1 handcuff key
  • 1 piece of steel wool the size of a cotton ball
  • 1 mini rake lock pick and tension bar
  • 1 LED Flashlight
  • 1 2x2 inch sheet of moleskin
  • 1 sewing needle wrapped in non flavored dental floss or thin sewing thread

If it won’t close just secure it by wrapping 550 or Para cord along the outside to keep it shut, 550 cord always comes in handy. The contents are very versatile, you always need fire and a lighter cuts the messing around. Steel wool is the best kindling on earth and if you can’t start a fire with a Bic lighter and a cotton ball sized chunk of steel wool you need more help than I can provide you with.

The prep wipe can disinfect a wound, the razor blade can be used as a scalpel (sanitize with lighter), the sewing needle and thread or floss will let you do some crude stitches. If your feet end up being what fails you, the moleskin can be used to seal up blisters and cut to size with the razor blade after you have lanced them with the needle and drained them.

The cuff key, lock picks and porcelain may be against the law to carry where you live (check local laws first) but you never know when you might need to take off some cuffs, pick a door lock (very easy on many doors with some practice) or break through a window (the porcelain, when thrown into a car or store window will instantly shatter many types of window, this is a favorite trick of burglars and car thieves). [JWR Adds: These work best when projected by a slingshot such as a "Wrist Rocket." A folding slingshotis also a good stopper for small game and even marginal for self defense, with just a bit of practice. They are legal to possess even in most gun-deprived jurisdictions. When space and weight are at a premium, I recommend that a slingshot be second only to a versatile pocketknife, when prioritizing gear for your Get Home kit.]

DISCLAIMER: I am not telling you to break the law, but even if you are a cop during TEOTWAWKI or SHTF or even on a normal day at work you may find yourself in a situation where you might end up being locked up with your personal cuffs or someone else’s pair.

The lock picks and porcelain are the same story here, I am not telling you to commit a crime but if it comes down to being burned up in a fire because you can’t get to an exit fast enough, by all means, break a window and get out. The property owner will understand. The lock pick and tension bar are the same story, don’t use them to break the law but if you can use them to get into a door to hide from an angry rioting mob, by all means, the property owner will understand. This kit is designed specifically to survive, evade, resist and escape any number of nightmare scenarios, be a responsible adult and do the right thing.

Your Escape

Your escape is going to be much more complicated in reality than anything you can plan for but there are major mistakes you can avoid that will save you precious time and maybe even your life. On your map you need to highlight roads and alternate roads to get you from work to vehicle and vehicle to home but you must also realize your surroundings. Maybe you drive half way to your destination and then take some form of mass transit the rest of the way, driving out of the city you work in will not be an option, if the mass transit is also shut down, you are on foot.
  Even if you drive your car all the way to work, you still have to realize that driving may not be an option and that during any type of emergency, you will not be able to use main roads or even most side roads so alternate routes need to be planned and scouted in advance. Periodically along your route you should locate safe areas to go to ground and hide, just in case you need sleep, rest, etc you are going to want to know where you have the option of doing this on your journey, looking for a safe place to stitch up your wounds really sucks when your pouring blood, but if you have pre-designated way points along your route it will make life easier and give you landmarks to guide you on your way.

It may be feasible to cache (hide) small amounts of supplies along the way in various locations. Maybe there is a bus stop with a dirt lot behind it or an old parking lot you can conceal a small cache in, even if it’s just some bandages, a bottle of water and a granola bar inside a small PVC pipe with end caps, you may end up needing them and it never hurts to have options.

Alternate means of travel are critical, for example, in the city I work in, the roads are jammed up even on a good day, driving out in a disaster will not be feasible and I don’t even drive the whole way to work anyway, but there are ferry boats nearby that can easily get you out of the city in a hurry and would most likely still work even in the event of a major emergency.

While everyone else is hoofing it or driving out I will be riding a ferry boat if absolutely necessary to get outside the main city center. You must explore these alternate methods of escape, roads will get nasty quickly and the heat you will be subject to on a sunny day will make walking on them unbearable.

Get to your vehicle and stop to take a minute to sort everything out, that’s right, I am telling you to stop moving and assess your situation, take a break, drink some water, eat a granola bar and chill the heck out. Most likely you will have been running on pure adrenaline and terror for an extended period of time, you may have suffered injury or mental trauma and you are going to be in shock. Take a few minutes to get that animal part of your brain under control, accurately assess your options and make a good decision as to what needs to happen next.

Do not bother trying to contact your family at this point, if you are in a scenario that has caused you to flee your workplace, possibly on foot, you are probably in a situation where cell phone service will be overwhelmed, your best bet is to send a brief text message, something like: “safe, omw home” and try repeating it to alternate addresses a few times while you drink some water. You need to get your mind out of the stress zone so you can make good decisions, thinking about anything other than your immediate need to escape and protect yourself will make you distracted and lead to your death or injury.

Ideally you should speak to your entire family before hand and explain to them that if an emergency happens, they are to stay at home and not try to come get you that if you are alive you will be on your way home immediately and may not be able to call them. This will keep you from getting home only to find out your wife or husband has decided to drive into the mouth of whatever disaster after you.

After you have collected your thoughts, even if it takes awhile (less than an hour) and you are in full control of your emotions and judgment you need to snap yourself out of the daze you will be in and start moving, if you start to feel tired or yawn, this is your cue to move, it will mean that your body has relaxed and ceased pumping adrenaline into your body, stand up, stretch and get moving.

Use the car for as long as possible, drive on the shoulder, in ditches, over curbs etc, and get out of traffic, even if you are in a sedan you would be surprised how much off-roading can be done with casual disregard for your vehicle's paint job and quick decision making. Get the vehicle as far as you can and if you have to ditch it, get it off the road and into a position to where you can safely begin your hike. Grab your essential gear only; every pound will count if you end up doing twenty plus miles on foot, possibly in the sun.

If you have more water than you can carry, drink your surplus immediately, if you have too much surplus water to drink, drink as much as you can, urinate, drink some more and then go, water does you no good unless it’s in your body. Something simple you can carry for this is a single sugar and salt packet (like the one you get from fast food meals) mixed in a bottle of water the sugar/salt combo will give you a quick boost of electrolytes, kind of like drinking a Gatorade, drink this first and then drink some more water to dilute it in your system.

If you were astute enough to pack a Gatorade or other sports drink, drink it slowly, once you get half finished, fill it back up with water, shake it and drink it halfway again, fill it back up, shake and repeat as many times as needed to quench your thirst, diluting the mixture will help your body absorb the electrolytes and other goodies inside the sports drink, if you simply drink it all at once you will urinate out most of the ingredients before it can be absorbed by your body.

Be wary of people but do not be inhumane, you never know if a simple act of kindness will be what saves your life or your soul. What we do during a catastrophe is what determines if we retain our ability to be called human or civilized. I am not telling you to endanger yourself needlessly but if you have the ability to help another human being get back to their family who probably loves them and misses them the way yours does then you should do what you would want others to do for you. Circumstances could change quickly and the person you denied a drink of water to earlier in the day could be the doctor that splints your twisted ankle only hours later. Help your fellow man because of his need and not because of yours, help within your means and someone else may even help you.

One of your SurvivalBlog Glossary entries deserves some comment. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) gives you as much or more protection from liability as a corporation, but passes profit through to your personal taxes like a 1099 independent or a subchapter S corp.  However, unlike a corporation, once you file your 'Articles of Organization,'  in most states your LLC has no more paperwork requirements some states require an annual status report, but it is solely for informational purposes and has nothing to do with the IRS or other government agencies except to notify the IRS how you choose to allocate profit and loss among the members) one of the most attractive difference between an LLC and a C Corporation or S Corporation.  Your Articles of Organization (AoO) basically allow you (not the state or Feds) to create the rules under which your LLC will be run - such as which members manage it, how it is to be managed, how profits are distributed among members, and which of a number of options you want to elect to be taxed under.  For your own records, you create an Operating Agreement (OA) identifying each member, what percentage of the total 'membership interests' (sort of like corporate 'shares' but not subject to the laws dealing with shares and percentage of equity ownership or distributions of profits).

Basically there are 'manager managed' LLCs, where one or more members (or even an outsider) are specified in your AoO as having management responsibilities and other members have no say in the decision making (a two-class organization), and 'member managed,' where each member is included in the same class and shares management duties.   Each member is issued a number of "membership interests,"  Note that you don't have to allocate distributions according to the percentage of membership interest each member has, nor does the number of interests each member holds reflect what the member's contribution is.  Your AoO and OA can specify any division of responsibilities and profits that all members are willing to agree to.  For example, to avoid estate taxes on large estates, you can put your assets into an LLC, where you are the manager and sole recipient of earnings from the assets, and make your heirs members and do not share in the profits while you are alive.  In effect, you are gifting them with membership interests well before you die.  When you die, your heirs, as the surviving members, can designate a new manager and grant themselves equal or proportional revenues - all without any estate tax.

The main value of an LLC is that you can move assets into it, or acquire them through it, and if you are successfully sued, the LLC assets can not be taken, and any successful suit against the LLC can only take the LLC-owned resources and not your personal ones.  In fact, if you create multiple LLCs, say, a separate one for each piece of real estate you own, than a suit against one LLC only endangers that property, while the other properties are immune.  You can put just about any type of asset, like a business, a home, a car, investments, intellectual property - virtually any appreciating asset.

They also allow you to avoid the double taxation of corporations, where corporate profits are taxed and then investors have to pay their own taxes on the distributions.

You can create as many LLCs as you want, and locate them in any state you want, based on the state's laws. New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada are very LLC-friendly.  You just have to pay a nominal amount to a 'registered agent,' a person or company located in the state your LLC is created in that is guaranteed to be available to accept formal legal documents during business hours and also act as a general mail forwarding service for all general mail sent to the LLC.  This service is usually very inexpensive, as you do not need, nor would you want to pay the rates of, an attorney.

Only a few things to watch out for:

A single-member  LLC is legal in some states, but not in others.  Also, the IRS treats a single-member LLC like a sole proprietorship, which complicates your interactions with them (such as the aggravation of having to file quarterly estimated taxes). While a single-member LLC will protect your personal assets if the LLC is sued, it is not guaranteed to protect the assets in the LLC against lawsuits filed against you personally.  Always have two or more members.

LLCs are still very new and there is nowhere near the case law and formal precedents that exist for corporations, so that you can't be totally sure that future legal decisions won't change the rules of the game after you are already on the field.

You can't move personal assets into an LLC once a suit is filed against you to try to shelter them.  Nor can an LLC transfer assets to its members or another LLC once a suit is filed against it, so it is wise to set up at least one LLC now even if the assets it is intended to protect will be accumulated directly by the LLC in the future.  That way, your LLC will predate and be immune from any future suits against you personally.

There is much more about LLCs and it is a good idea to find several books on it and discuss how to best structure it with an accountant, You might possibly consult a lawyer in the state in which you wish to create your LLC to be absolutely sure of the particular state's laws and restrictions, if any, on LLCs based in that state (but don't pay the lawyer's rates to actually do the filings and such - either do it yourself, or find a registered agent who includes the filing services in his package.

Sorry to go so long about a single entry, but, TEOTWAWKI or not, it is an option any sane and knowledgeable person with assets should be doing yesterday.  It is the single most powerful legal way to take control of your taxes, avoid all of the severe government restrictions and legal filing requirements on corporations, general and limited partnerships, and sole proprietorships -  and to protect all, or at least, most of your personal appreciating assets from being seized in a lawsuit.

It is not really relevant to surviving a natural or man-made breakdown of the underpinnings of society, but until such happens, it is the best way to legally avoid government interference and regulation of you affairs today. Best Regards, - John S.

For folks interested in using the new Bitcoin digital currency, check out the free information and graphics at: BitcoinResource.com

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Steven M. sent us this: Home Security - The four levels of home fortification

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Apparently a minnow trap is a very effective trap for snakes as well!  (Thanks to M.E. for the link.)

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I heard that there are still a few copies of the limited autographed edition of Mike Williamson's upcoming novel "Rogue" available.  (As a reservation, in advance of publication.) Readers will either need to contact Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore in Minneapolis to order, or contact Mike directly.  These books come with a tipped in signature sheet signed by Mike, and can also be personalized before shipping.  The publication date is September 6th, but the signed edition must be ordered in advance. (And it will not be available later.)

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Copper Thieves Suspected in Pontiac House Explosion. (The fourth such explosion in recent months.)

"Rifles are inanimate objects that have no will of their own. As such, they may be used by evil men for evil purposes. While an evil man may not be persuaded by propaganda, he may certainly be corrected by good men with rifles." - Col. Jeff Cooper

Monday, June 20, 2011

Many folks aren't aware of Mil-Tac Knives & Tools, but they've been around for about six years now. Mil-Tac is owned and operated by Craig Sword, and I've known Sword since before he started Mil-Tac, when he was with another knife company. I'm happy to report, that I had a hand in helping Craig get Mil-Tac up and running. That's not to say, I helped him physically start his company. Instead, Craig and I spent many, many hours on the phone discussing the idea of him starting-up a new knife company, and which direction it should go. I appreciate Sword's faith in me with my ideas and input. He thought I'd have some sage advice after writing about guns and knives for a lot of years.

As a bit of a disclaimer, SurvivalBlog readers should know that I designed the CE-1, CE-2 and "Code Zero" 1911 grips for Mil-Tac. The CE-1 and CE-2 fixed blade fighting knives were actually a collaboration between myself, custom knife maker Ray Ennis and Craig Sword. I have no financial interest in Mil-Tac, nor do I receive any royalties from the products I brought to Mil-Tac. I was just helping a friend get a new business venture off the ground.

I've watched Craig Sword slowly add new products to the Mil-Tac line-up over the years, and it hasn't been an easy task. As with any new business venture, there is a lot of money involved in starting this type of business, not to mention the machinery and raw materials. Craig has really done an outstanding job growing his company, and quite honestly, I'm surprised he has grown Mil-Tac as fast as he has, and has expanded is product line-up to what it is today. Great job, Craig! He has worked hard to get to where he's at today, and he's very proud of his customer service. He attends to this himself, as well as running the day-to-day operations of Mil-Tac, plus designing knives himself, attending trade shows, and actually making many of his products. He has his hands full all the time.

I recently received two new tactical folders from Mil-Tac for test and evaluation. These are called the M3 models, and they are tactical in every sense of the world - they aren't designed for whittling wood or anything like that - they are designed for tough, self-defense work, period! The M3 comes in several different versions, to include Tanto style blades, as well as drop-point blades. They also come with standard G-10 handle scales or the new 3-D handle scales. The M3s are being produced for Mil-Tac by Fox Knives over in Italy, and they did a spectacular jo.

What we have with the M3 is a 3.9" Tanto blade (the blade style I requested) made out of N690Co stainless steel. I don't have the run down on this particular steel material, but I've had several other Mil-Tac folders made out of this same stainless steel, and it's some tough stuff, yet fairly easy to re-sharpen. The blade is also coated with a black Teflon-type coating for additional protection against rust, and for a non-reflective finish. There is a dual thumb stud on the blade for quick deployment, and thumb serrations on the top of the blade, should you desire to choke-up on the blade. The handle material, as already mentioned is super-tough black G-10 laminate. I elected for the 3-D handle style. It is thicker and hand filling, to be sure. I really like a knife handle I can get a grip on and really hold onto. There are vertical as well as horizontal serrations on the handle scales.

There is a pocket/clothing clip, which allows you to move it around the handle for right or left hand use, as well as blade up or blade down carry. Nice! The design is a semi-open type handle, which allows most dirt and dust to fall out, instead of building-up inside the handle. There is a lanyard hole in the butt of the handle, and it's actually big enough to allow the use of 550 parachute cord as a lanyard. A manual lock allows you to lock the blade open, once deployed, making this a virtual fixed blade knife. The standard method of locking the blade open is with the liner-lock, which is very strong and stout - and the manual locking lever is there for added safety.

Craig Sword sent me two samples of the M3, one with a plain edge, and the other with a partially serrated edge. A lot of people don't like serrated blades, but I think they really come in handy if you ever have to cut wet rope, poly rope, open boxes or tear through tough material like heavy clothing. Both samples arrived shaving-sharp, too. The clothing/pocket clip is large and it's not going to easily bend out of shape, like so many do on lesser knives, when they don't heat-treat the clips. Many companies don't bother to heat-treat their clips at all, and when you catch 'em on something, they bend out-of-shape and you can't get 'em bent back to their original shape, either.

The butt of the handle is flat, and can be used as a blunt striking weapon, when lethal force isn't needed. The pivot screw on the blade is larger than is seen on many knives - making it stronger, as well as allowing a much smoother opening and closing of the blade. The top of the handle is slightly curved upwards, and has friction grooves, allowing for a secure thumb placement when using the fencing style of grip in knife fighting.  The bottom of the handle has a nice finger groove and it also has some friction grooves for a secure purchase on the knife. A large, single spacer keeps the handle together and it has some "bumps" on it, again, allowing for a better purchase on the handle.

The M3 samples both opened smoothly - like butter, and locked firmly in place. There wasn't any need to use the manual locking levers, but I used 'em just the same as they were easy to apply with the thumb while holding the knives in a fencing grip. I used the knives for some everyday chores around the house - even though their intended purpose is that of a fighting folder. Cutting open boxes from FedEx or UPS were easy, as well as cutting up some meat for meals. I "stabbed" both knives into a large pot roast, and they easily penetrated all the way to the handle and then some - I like the penetration power of the Tanto style blade.

I really like the 3-D handle scales - they fill my hand. If you don't like a thicker-feeling folder, then go with the standard handle scales, which are thinner, but still made out of G-10 laminate. The overall appearance of the M3 samples, with their black blades and black G-10 handle scales are very business-like, and you know you have tactical folders in your hand, and not an ordinary pocket knife.

I can usually find something to "fault" or change on many knives and guns - it's my nature to look to improve or change something to my own personal taste. However, there is nothing I'd change on the M3 samples I received. My only problem will be deciding which sample I want to keep - I can't afford to purchase both of them.

As always, I try to save the best for last, and that's price. On any of the M3 models, standard or 3-D handle scales, full retail price is $169 and I believe you are getting a great tactical folder for the money. You could spend more, but you won't get more with many other folders. Truthfully, these knives should be retailing for about a hundred dollars more - so lay claim to one before Craig Sword realizes he's selling these knives for less than he should.

Also, when you visit the Mil-Tac web site, check out the CE-1 and CE-2 fixed blade fighting knives that I helped design. And, for some of the best 1911 custom grips on the planet, check out my "Code Zero" grips - everyone who has tested 'em loves 'em, and I've had several well-known gun writers tell me that they are the best feeling 1911 grips they've ever used. They allow a very secure grip on your 1911, but they aren't rough on the hands. Craig Sword also has several other styles of 1911 grips he is producing as well, and be sure to check them out as well.

Craig Sword is one of the good guys, and he deserves your business. He goes out of his way to make sure his customers are 100% satisfied with their purchases. Sword is also prior service with the US Army, and he does a lot to support our troops out of his own pocket. If you're in the market for a new tactical folding knife, fixed blade knife or custom grips for your 1911 handgun, then be sure to check out Mil-tac.com and give them your business if you can. Please mention that your saw this article in SurvivalBlog. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

I took notice of the malware warning in your blog regarding  Bitcoin and some of the suggestions to thwart it. I'd like to throw my 2 cents in and suggest your readers check out  ironkey.com Ironkey makes a thumb drive that is like no other device on the market. I just bought one and I love it. I will describe what it does and why your readers may want to consider getting one as part of their COMSEC arsenal. I purchased the 16 GB model and the cost including delivery was $228. Yes, that is expensive, but wait until I describe what it can do.

A little history on this device is in order. It was designed by U.S. Naval Intelligence and the largest purchasers of this product is the U.S. Government. I know what you're thinking, if the Government knows about it, I don't want one. The hardware and software for this device is devoid of a back door and the mathematical algorithms that trigger the cryptochip are totally random, not even Ironkey can unlock them once they are initiated. They warn you that if you forget your password you're on your own.

1.    When you insert the 2.0 USB device for the first time you'll be taken through a process to get it going. I takes about 20 minutes and that includes setting up your Ironkey account. You'll be given the option to "back-up" your data on Ironkey's servers. I chose not to exercise that option for obvious reasons. The web site has great tutorials for first time users (highly recommended)

2.    The set up process has you create a password for the device.

3.    Now the fun begins. The next time you plug it in, a menu pops up and you have to enter your password. If you enter the password wrong more than 10 times, the memory of the device will be permanently bleached (erased) and it cannot be recovered. Worried about key loggers? Key loggers are a real threat to your privacy. Hackers can actually log what keys you are using and identify all your passwords as you type. You can type in your password if you wish but I don't recommend it for that reason. There is a little icon on the start up menu and when you click on it a visual QWERTY board pops up on the computer screen. You simply "click" your password with your mouse instead. Even this method can be hacked if the hackers are really sophisticated so Ironkey answers that problem as well. Within the QWERTY board there is a command that allows the QWERTY board to be "shuffled" Basically all the letters and numbers get scrambled and will not be located where they would normally be so you can click your password in and if anyone was actually trying to decipher it they would not be able to.

4.    The entire device is water proof. It is made of steel and you can drive over it with your car or throw it against a wall and it won't damage it. The entire system is encased in a hard resin epoxy so that if you tried to break it open it would destroy the cryptochip beyond any hope of recovery. You can kind of get the picture of where this is going, this company takes privacy seriously.

5.    Here is where this thing gets really interesting. In the control panel there is an application called "identity manager" It works in a couple of different ways, and here is the first example. You click on it, then click on "add" and type in the web address where you want to go and the passwords that go along with it such as your bank accounts. Once you've done that you simply open the "identity manager" and click on that account. The system will launch the web browser, fill in your passwords and log you in all by itself so that key loggers have no chance in tracking your key strokes. The second way is to go to your web sites yourself and enter your own passwords. After you're done, you'll notice a brief pause and wonder what is going on. The system will pop up a screen and ask you if you want the "identity manager" to remember this and do you want to add it to the "identity manager"  If you say yes then you have essentially done what I described in step #1 above.

6.    So you're saying to yourself: "So what, I'm still on the net and therefore I'm still vulnerable" Well that's where you'd be wrong. You see, the Ironkey has it's own built in Mozilla Firefox web browser and this particular version has an integrated feature called "Secure Sessions" that can be toggled on and off mine is always set to the "ON" position. You can also import other applications into it such as Internet Explorer and Outlook just to name a few. During "Secure Sessions" you are invisible on the net. You don't exist at all. The signals "tunnel" through existing traffic without anyone knowing you're there and it gets even more intense than that. Let's say I'm writing you an e-mail like I'm doing right now and I'm operating in "Secure Session Mode" I can actually choose what part of the world I want to appear from. That's right! If I want my e-mail to originate from an IP address in Africa then I can do that. I can bounce it around the globe to multiple countries or continents if I choose. If I don't choose to do so, it'll randomly do it on it's own anyway. For true anonymity you do need to have an e-mail account that was not set up from your computer. Yahoo, GMail and others log the original computer that the e-mail account was first set up on. The public library or some other random computer that can't be associated with you comes to mind when doing this. [JWR Adds: I concur on the need to use tunneling. Even for those that don't opt to use Ironkey, I recommend the web-based Strong VPN tunneling service for both e-mail and web browsing.]

7.    Anything you do on the Ironkey will not leave a trace on the computer it is plugged into. Period. We don't ever want to end up on some "undesirables list" so should your computer ever fall into the wrong hands there will never be a trace of your activity on the net or any application that is on the computer while using the Ironkey. The files extracted will show up on your "Recent Files" menu but when you click on them to open the application you get a message telling you that you need to plug a computer in. That's operating under the assumption that you get sloppy and forget to clear the "Recent Files" on a daily basis. So why do you get a message telling you you need to plug a computer in to view these files? The answer is simple, the Ironkey is it's own mini computer inside a thumb drive that borrows needed files from your drive to operate but never leaves a trace that it did so. I turned a friend of mine (college degree in computer guru science) loose on my computer to test Ironkey's claims. He can't find any history on the drive of any activity I've had while my Ironkey was busy doing what it does.

I think the Ironkey is a must have piece of COMSEC hardware.

Thanks for the work that you do, I hope you and your readers find this helpful. - M.Y.

Letter Re: Gluten Free Food Storage

Hi JWR,  
I just got done packing away a bunch of pasta this afternoon, and looked at the latest SurvivalBlog posts and read the Gluten Free Food Storage article by Cassandra.  Funny thing is, I was long-term packing gluten free rice pasta in Mylar bags with O2 absorbers.  I couldn't find what I wanted anywhere else, so I did it myself.  Maybe what I just learned this past hour will help someone else wanting to pack away some pasta.  Here's what I used: Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice Pasta (Fusilli, Penne, and Spaghetti)  We used to eat Tinkyada brand, but we found that the Trader Joe' s (TJ's) brand is tasty and cooks in less time, thus it uses less fuel or electricity.  It generally retails in-store for $1.99/lb package, and I bought 12 cases (of 12) of it.    

I use:

  • 5 gallon food grade storage pails and snap on lids    
  • 2,000 CC oxygen absorbers    
  • 5-6 gallon Mylar zip-bags (no heat seal required)  

Using a Mylar zip bag to line the bucket, I found that I could squeeze the following into every 5-gallon bucket (with an O2 absorber thrown in half way through):

  • TJ's Fusilli - 12 lbs/bucket (loose packed)  
  •  TJ's Penne - 16 lbs/bucket (loose packed)  
  •  TJ's Spaghetti - 22 lbs/bucket (left in the 1-lb original bags to reduce breakage)

Of course, the more you fit in the bucket, the lower the overall cost per pound.  Using buckets at $4.59, lids at $2, bags at $3.20, and O2 absorbers at $1, I packed away 140 lbs of gluten-free organic brown rice pasta for a total of $278.60 (pasta) and $97.11(storage) for a total of $375.71.  That's $2.68/lb.  That's pretty reasonable for long-term storage of an "alternative" organic food!  

I know brown rice and its flours can go rancid quickly, but I've had five year old TJs pasta that was just "on the shelf" and it's perfectly fine.  I guess processing and drying it into pasta gets rid of or otherwise breaks down the oils that go rancid.  I'm not sure, but maybe someone else can shed light on that.   Blessings, - Darrin F.

Reader V.T. sent this: African Village Uses Tech to Fight Off Rape Cult. Hmmm... Weapons, communications, intelligence, and community-based self defense. Sound familiar? And they did it all this on a shoestring budget.

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Bobbi M. forwarded: How Superbugs Will Affect Our Health Care Costs

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The deadline for the Ready Made Resources Preparedness Video Contest is July 26th. Instructional (nonfiction) videos on any topic related to family preparedness are sought. The prizes are a brand new Rock Rivers Arms (RRA) Elite Comp M4 (AR-15 series compatible ) complete Barreled Upper Receiver and a Trijicon Reflex sight with a combined retail value of more than $1,400. Please keep your privacy in mind when you create your videos. (Don't mention any surnames or towns). You may post up to three videos to YouTube for consideration in the judging. Videos up to 10 minute long that are your original work that are already posted to YouTube are also eligible for the judging. To enter, e-mail the URL for video(s) to: grisrob@gmail.com. Do not send the videos themselves or links to videos stored at other web sites. Only nonfiction videos that you post to YouTube are eligible. The creator of the best video will win a brand new a brand new complete Rock Rivers Arms (RRA) Elite Comp M4 (AR-15 series compatible ) Barreled Upper Receiver and a Trijicon Reflex sight. The deadline or posting videos is July 26th. The video judged best will be announced on Monday August 1st, 2011.

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Steven M. kindly sent links to three different web sites with some clever architectural solutions: Eight Rooms, Well, Nine, but That’s Their Secret, Bay Windows Conceal Garage, and Cowing Secret Playroom Entrance,

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Jonathan C. suggested a piece by my old associate Ken Timmerman: North Korea Tests 'Super-EMP' Nuke.

"…the primary mission of every government appendage seems to be nothing other than the expansion of its size and the stretch of its meddling." - Kevin Brekke

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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.

Everyone knows that storing wheat is a good idea.  However, those with various forms of gluten intolerance, and also others who benefit from gluten free diets currently, simply cannot go back to consuming gluten post-SHTF.  The effect could be devastating in the resulting society. 

If you have unlimited monetary resources, then prepping for storage of gluten free foods is not a problem, anyone can go to the store and purchase plenty of those expensive mixes they sell at the store.  But what if you don’t?  Or, worse yet, what if you run out of those expensive mixes in a long-term crunch?  Will you know how to make your food from scratch?  Will you be prepared?

While supplementing your storage with the gluten free mixes found at many stores is do able, we need a more practical system.  I will go over grains in a moment, but here are a few items you will need to store that are critical for any kind of bread making:

Xantham gum – as long as this item is kept dry, it has a shelf life of several years.  Be sure to get the finer powder, the courser xantham gum doesn’t seem to work as well.  Also, while I’m in the preliminary stages of learning gluten free ways, it seems that xantham gum is more suited to bread items like loaves and pizza dough.

Guar gum – this item is best suited to things like pastry creams, and less acidic items.  Guar gum begins to break down at higher temperatures, and also loses some of it’s thickening ability when added to recipes with high acidity.  Many recipes suggest combining both gums for a better result.  Manufacturers recommend that it keeps for 1-to-2 years.

Dehydrated Eggs – Widely found and I suggest you purchase the nitrogen-packed varieties.  Manufacturers claim a shelf life of 27+ years unopened.  Eggs, they claim, are good for 8-10 months after being opened.

Dehydrated Egg Whites – see above.

These are the binders in any gluten free equation.  They perform the task generally done by gluten.  Some people who are gluten free do not use xantham gum and guar gum, it’s a matter of finding recipes that work for you and your personal preferences (and dietary needs!).  I have found that the gluten free community is often more educated about food, and even sometimes scratch cooking, than the rest of society.  This knowledge will be invaluable in both your storage techniques and long term survival.  I have read some on the topic of substituting ground flax for the gums - this could be an even more long term option with the right research.  Obviously, the gums are not an entirely sustainable option, so I will be doing more research on sustainable substitutes for long term and once educated I will share the information.

Starches are equally important for gluten free baked goods.  Consider storing potato, tapioca and corn starches in air tight containers in a cool area.  Also, if you are accustomed to using the store bought gluten free dough enhancers, vinegar is a much cheaper alternative – and useful in countless other ways.

The grains:

White and Brown rice – both gluten free, and both can be ground into flour.  You can consume these prepared whole obviously, or used in a bread recipe.  Please note once ground into flour, the shelf life is drastically reduced, and best used quickly.  The flour of these grains can go rancid within a few months.

Beans – beans are a great item to store easily, and can also be ground into flour for various recipes.  An added bonus, bean flours keep relatively well at room temperature.

Oats – please be careful when purchasing oats.  Some gluten intolerant have issue with oats, and this is currently thought to be because oats and wheat are often processed in the same facility.  Know what facility your oats are coming from and what else the company processes.  Oat flour can also be widely used in recipes.

Corn – dehydrated corn kernels have a long shelf life, and can be ground into polenta, cornmeal, and used whole in a variety of ways.  I suggest buying organic corn personally, as much of the corn we see otherwise is a genetically modified version which is less nutritious,in my opinion.

Sorghum – this is an incredibly interesting and widely unknown cereal grain.  Sorghum grains can be boiled like rice, made into gruel or porridges, ground into flours, popped like popcorn (!!), it can even be used to make non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages.  Sorghum is also a very efficient, drought tolerant and even water logging tolerant crop.  This grain can also keep for years when appropriately stored.

Millet – it is suggested that millet can be kept for 8 to 12 years.  Can be mashed with potatoes (has valuable protein), can be made into cakes, toasted and boiled like rice and eaten warm or made into a salad, ground into flour and used in pancakes, bread etc.

Buckwheat – can be stored for 15 years.  Buckwheat can be prepared in a pilaf style, however, the grains (kasha is another name you will come across) often stick together and form a mush, to stop this from happening, either coat your grains with egg before preparing (cook in a dry pan briefly), or toast in a non-stick (read: well seasoned cast iron) pan for a couple minutes before.  The mush, however, is great for cereal/porridge, consider adding peanut butter for protein or spices and dried fruit.  You can also add buckwheat to soups or stews as you would barley, make a salad from the cooked buckwheat, or grind it into flour for breads, pancakes waffles, etc.

My recommendations here are just the beginning. Look around the Internet and you’ll find there’s numerous other grains, find the ones you like that can store well (quinoa for instance, does not keep for very long), and learn how to cook them.

A note on milling flours: If you plan on also milling wheat barley, or any other gluten present grain, it is advisable to have a separate gluten free mill.  The risk of contamination is high, even when thoroughly cleaned, and depending upon a persons individual reaction to gluten, someone could become very sick.

The most important storage preparation of all, of course, is to know how to use what you’ve stored!  There may be no Internet and no local library, WTSHTF so take some time to experiment with recipes until you have a few solid standbys.  Keep these with your food storage.  Having a couple bread, pancake, porridge, waffle, maybe even a muffin recipe, that is tried and tested, will be invaluable.

JWR Adds: Also see the SurvivalBlog archives for some other gluten-free alternatives, such as Quinoa. Just type the word "gluten" in the blog's Search box at the top of the right-hand bar.

One thing that I've uncovered in my research is that while composting worms are fine if you simply want compost.  However, the red wrigglers commonly used for composting are not effective as a worm for your garden [beds].  Their primary problem is that they prefer the top 2 or 3 inches of soil.  As a result your soil is not fully aerated.

After a lot of searching I found a supplier that provided a mix of three worms types, each with different characteristics so that garden soil is serviced top to bottom.  We mixed several yards of mulch into our soil to help prepare it but we're the only yard in the neighborhood with worms on the sidewalks after a rain.

The first year we bought eggs from one vendor who no longer offers the product. The next year we bought from these folks. Regards, - Sherman W. Montana

Six minute of must-watch video with Dylan Ratigan: Jim Rogers warns: Get prepared!

Just I warned you, the 46 cash-strapped States are finding creative ways to raise revenue: Downloads and drugs taxed under new Rhode Island budget plan. (Thanks to John E. for the link.)

Fake Bars: "Federal investigators say tungsten filled gold bars and lead filled silver bars have started to circulate in the U.S."  (Thanks to C.A. in Oregon for the link.)

A recent essay by Michael Pollaro: US government's fiscal state worsens, DC politicians fiddle  

Items from The Economatrix:

"Greece on the Edge of a Precipice" as a "Lehman-like Avalanche" Could Be Set in Motion as Soon as Sunday

Greek Default Could Trigger Chain Reaction

Gold and Silver Still Great Investments in Inflation, Stagflation, and Deflation

Reader Mike S. sent this: New malware steals your Bitcoin. Mike warns: "There's malware specifically targeting Windows Bitcoin users.  Mike warns: "Use encryption and strong passwords, and store your Bitcoin wallet in a non-standard place. Use Linux rather than Windows." JWR Adds: Be sure to empty your Bitcoin wallet frequently and keep most of your wealth in barterable tangibles. Remember: Bitcoin is not a bank, it is just a transfer mechanism.

The Systemic Financial Pillaging of the Middle Class

Over at Stan Deyo's site: Celente--Collapse:  It's Coming!  Are you Ready? "Conditions are rapidly deteriorating and it is imperative to remain on high alert. Another violent financial episode is looming. It may be triggered by economics (e.g., debt defaults and debt crisis contagion in Europe, a crashing US dollar, or commodity price spikes); it could be terror (false flag or real), a man-made disaster (another Fukushima) or one made by Mother Nature … or any combination of the above." 

This Is How The Dollar Dies

David N. recommended this: DIY Chlorine Generator for Water Purification

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For Washington state residents, John B. sent a link to this blog: Washington State Gun Lawyer.

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Pierre M. suggested this at The Genius Files: Guide: Protect Your Security Online and Mobile Phones. And, on a related note: Ten Effective Privacy Tricks To Secure Your Web Browsing

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Courtesy of Steven M.: 10 Most Secure Locations on the Planet.

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Chad S. sent a headline from Nanny State California: San Francisco Considers Ban on Goldfish as Pets to Prevent Their 'Inhumane Suffering'

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Poll Gate: CNN Caught Red Handed Deceiving Public with Skewed GOP Poll. (Thanks to James C. for the link.)

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;

And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which [were] in the day [that] the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither [was there any] peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.

But now I [will] not [be] unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.

For the seed [shall be] prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these [things]." - Zechariah 8:6-12 (KJV)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 felt a sting of envy while admiring a neighbor’s tomato and pepper plants. They were lush and heavy with fruit, bursting out of their containers, while the straggly things in my garden struggled to produce an occasional ping pong ball for our salads. Our neighbor, Bud, mentioned that he had added castings from his aunt’s worm farm, and he figured that must be how come his plants were doing so well.

We have our share of earthworms in our home dirt, and knew they were beneficial, but had never seen the value of  concentrated worm poop demonstrated so clearly. That chance encounter sent me off to research how I could harness worm power to nourish my ailing garden.

Here in northeast Florida, our soil is mostly sand. It doesn’t seem to have a lot of natural fertility for growing good stuff, though impenetrable jungle growth will choke any neglected patch lickety-split. Besides that, I’ve been cursed with the brownest of thumbs. I have always pitied whatever plants had the misfortune to end up at my house. Contrast that with my dogs, who thrive and win championships in various venues. I’ve always felt more affinity for animals than vegetables.

A desire for increased self-sufficiency drove me to buy plants, seeds, potting soil, Black Kow, and give a raised garden a try. Here came the famous Florida bugs sans bees, last summer’s record-setting heat which stopped fruit-setting dead, my ignorance, bad advice, a record-setting freezing winter and anything else that could go wrong. I figured if I had to depend on my garden, I’d starve right quick. Meanwhile, the untended blackberry patch in the ditch and the wild elderberries hanging over the fence produce better crops than all my carefully cultivated veggies combined. God does have a sense of humor.

My fit of jealousy turned constructive. After researching the wonderful composting job worms do, I decided a worm farm was just what I needed. When I told my husband my plans, he did a lot of eye-rolling. I need to remember to break such news to him gently. Poor man. He’s put up with litters of pups and a houseful of Collies for most of our 43 years of wedded bliss. “You aren’t keeping worms in the house!” he ordered. “And forget about chickens!” I assured him I had no intention of keeping the wigglies in the house, and my herding dogs think sheep are fun to boss around, but birds are way too tasty. I planned to pamper my new charges in a climate-controlled outbuilding. Intense summer heat can be lethal to worms, or at least slow down their feeding and reproduction. If we had a basement, that might be a good spot, but basements are a rarity in Florida. With our soggy water table we’d end up with a disgusting indoor swimming pool.

I asked around for a source of worms. Bud said his aunt simply collected her worms from the yard and kept the bin in the backyard shade. A fellow at a plant nursery has a worm farm, and he got his Canadian night crawlers from the bait section of Wal-Mart. Both of them seem to be successful, but my research suggested that they were lucky. Luck rarely works for me, so I wanted to try to do it right from the start. Big old night crawlers like to burrow deep into the earth and a plastic tote bin is a mite confining for them. The local worms might work out fine, but red wigglers (eisenia foetida) seem to be the gold standard for cultivated worms. They are top feeders and can adapt to a bin.

Apparently aquarium or reptile dealers feed earthworms to their critters, but I didn’t find one that had worms for me. Besides, if the worms were lunch for tropical fish, perhaps their health and well-being would not be a big concern.

The first thing to consider before welcoming my new pets was providing a proper habitat for them. They have the same aversion to light as do vampires, so clear plastic bins don’t work. I bought a large opaque tote bin at Wally World for under six bucks. We drilled line of air holes along the top sides for ventilation. Some worm farmers recommend drain holes to get rid of excess fluids, but apparently they aren’t necessary if the moisture level is kept about right. They need bedding with a neutral pH. Although shredded newspaper is sometimes recommended, coconut coir or peat moss give a better start. Peat moss needs some crushed egg shells to neutralize the pH and provide calcium and grit to help the worms’ digestion. Birdlike, they have gizzards to grind their food.
Their digs need to be moist, about like a damp sponge.

What do they eat? Garbage. Vegetable cuttings, shredded paper or cardboard, banana peels, their own bedding. Nothing of animal origin except eggshells except in tiny bits or pre-composted, because of the nasty conditions rotting meat create. Other items requiring care include citrus peels because of the low pH and the toxicity of the oils, or anything spicy or peppery. They don’t like to be disturbed too often, and you shouldn’t handle them without gloves because the oil from your skin clogs their breathing apparatus. Seems they get their oxygen through their damp skins. Not too wet, not too dry, just right, and let the little hermaphrodites eat, reproduce, and make that wonderful compost for my garden.

Where to get the worms? Do an Internet search and you’ll find plenty of folks willing to sell you a pound of worms. If you’re lucky, you might find a local source. I decided to buy them from Big Tex Worms for a number of reasons. Liz offers all sorts of clearly stated instruction on YouTube as well as on her web site. She also will send a “starter kit” with the worms shipped in their familiar bedding. She has done studies that prove this is a more successful system than selling a container of worms by the pound, which arrive stressed and less likely to thrive. From the video tour of her home, she’s into self-sufficiency. And she seems to care about her little guys.

I made my order, and she shipped them out priority mail on a Monday. She refuses to mail them after the summer heat sets in, because a delivery of parboiled worms would spoil anyone’s appetite. Evidently they do all right in Texas heat as long as they are kept in the shade with plenty of moisture, though they may slow down their eating and reproducing until more comfortable temperatures arrive.

Although we’re experiencing mid-90 degree weather, my worms arrived cool to the touch in their cloth bag. I followed the directions, installed them in their new home, and kept the light on for a day so they would bury themselves in their bed and not try to squirm away. Then I fed them some nice strawberry cuttings, avocado that had turned brown, and chopped lettuce core. Later I gave them coffee grounds, carrot tops and an apple core. They are eating and don’t seem inclined to escape. After a couple of weeks I turned the bedding to aerate it, and found lots of wigglies moving around. So far so good.

I was prepared to expect other critters to grow in the bin besides the worms, and boy, are they! So far the only bugs I’ve seen are fellow composters, according to my information. Odor is minimal, and the food is turning into what looks like coffee grounds in a matter of days.

For Your Library
If you’d like more information on worm composting, check Liz’s web site referenced above, or a couple of books on the subject, The Worm Book: The Complete Guide to Gardening and Composting with Worms and Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System.

I expect they’ll produce a nice crop of compost in a couple of months or so, and I hope I’ll need to invest in a second bin for the population explosion.
If it doesn’t work out, I can always eat worms. I found recipes in one of the books I read. Yum. Or I can go fishing.

I’ll be checking back after I get more hands-on experience. Stay tuned!

Letter Re: JWR's Books Available With Bitcoins?

I came across the Bitcoin Trade page and when I reached the Books category, I wondered if I would be able to purchase your future books with BitCoins? Thanks, - M.E.

JWR Replies: I don't sell copies of the books that I've authored directly. But I encourage my advertisers to start accepting Bitcoins, and some of them already stock my books.

BTW, I'd like to again express my thanks to the SurvivalBlog readers who have made their 10 Cent Challenge voluntary subscription payments via Bitcoin. (Our Bitcoin address is: 1K7Gk6kqX6psSWDJaRV6pyDH7dwZuvqtUB.) Please support the Bitcoin movement. You can see an introduction video at: BitcoinResource.com. If we can use mechanisms like Bitcoin and traditional barter instead of the banking system, then we will starve the banksters, encourage a reversion to sound currency, and regain some of our economic freedom.

Also BTW, there is a new, zero cost option for making voluntary 10 Cent Challenge donations. You can donate your computer's background processing power to mine Bitcoins for the Ten Cent Challenge. This is a Java applet that is NOT installed on your PC or Mac. It simply runs within a web browser session. Please keep that Bitcoin mining web page open while web browsing.That link is currently earning us about .1 BTC per day. Please remember to refresh it regularly while web browsing, so we can maintain a good rate for the Ten Cent Challenge. Many thanks!

A lot of us got the radio bug from a Hallicrafters S-38 series or a Zenith Trans-Oceanic. I have both and still enjoy them, but when I need to tease out an obscure signal my old National HRO usually beats about any other radio in the shack (new or old) hands down.

The S-38 is a good choice since outside of the band-switching arrangement it has the guts of an All-American Five radio. This makes it a lot more repairable, most of the components are "generic", i.e. tubes, capacitors, IF transformers, et cetera.

The only downside to a [transformerless] AC-DC radio is that the tube life is not as long [as with most transformer] AC designs. It is almost always the high voltage heaters (the rectifier and audio output tube) that fail.

One very important thing to keep in mind about the S-38 (or any metal-cased AC-DC radio) is they can be deadly if not properly checked and maintained. Most AC-DC radios use the chassis as a ground return; that means one side of the power line is hard wired to the chassis. In the S-38 the chassis is isolated by rubber grommets, cardboard bottom and back and plastic knobs. Crumbling grommets, a shifted chassis, too long a screw, et cetera can put the case at line voltage -- being at a minimum a nasty shock hazard. This is pretty easily remedied on most radios; Make sure the knobs are all non-conductive, the chassis is still floating in rubber grommets. (Replace them all). The backs and sometimes the bottoms are missing. Make new ones with perforated Masonite (pegboard). JWR Adds: For those who are collectors, some very nice replica back covers and bottoms are available from Retro-Tronics.

Add a 3-wire cord grounded to the case (not the chassis). Failing that, then add polarized plug so that the chassis is always at ground potential (the larger prong of the plug). On wood cased AC-DC radios tape over the screws that hold the chassis to to case. Never use an AC-DC radio that is missing any knobs. Make sure (or have someone who knows how) make sure the chassis is isolated from any metal you can touch.

Other recommendations:

  • Add a [soft start] in-rush suppressor in the power circuit. This lengthens warm-up time but makes the tubes last almost forever.  The resistance of the filaments is rather low when cold and the in-rush current is rather high for a moment, this is why the dial light on these radios is momentarily very bright when turned on stone cold. At this moment the filaments (espescially in the 35 and 50 volt tubes) are under maximum stress. Limiting the in-rush allows for more gradual warm up.
  • I'd add a fuse to both legs of the power line, the 1 amp glass pigtail fuses work nicely in most AC-DC sets. Encase them in vinyl or heat-shrink tubing.
  • Keep spare antenna materials, I lost several antennas during Hurricane Ike: I actually lost them all!
  • Consider using an isolation transformer when operating on AC. These are de rigueur for servicing tube radios.
  • Go to NostalgiaAir.org and print out a schematic of your radio and keep it with the radio (inside the case in an envelope if space and safety permit). It'll help you or someone who knows how to fix your radio, down the road.
  • Keep a spare set of tubes. Make sure to test that they all actually work in the set. Most radios will operate sucessfuly with weak tubes except the converter tube. A weak one characterized by reception pooping out as you increase frequency. A really weak one will only operate on the bottom 1/2 of the broadcast band, forget about shortwave! The usual converter tubes (AC-DC) are 12SA7 and 12BE6.

As a side note, I own an example of the greatest AC-DC radio made: a Scott SLRM, it was made for the U.S. Navy during WWII. It is deadly by design. It is AC-DC but was primarily designed for use on the 120 Volt DC common to existing ships of the era. One side of the power line is tied to the case by design. This is okay for a ship with floating or polarized DC power, but deadly elsewhere. Mine has a permanent isolation transformer [, which with this design is a must for safety]. Regards, - "Tired Tubes"

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions, particularly regarding grounding isolation transformers. By coincidence, I have been looking for a Scott SLRM for my family's use here at the ranch. If anyone out there has a spare that is gathering dust, I'm willing to pay the going retail price, or work a trade from the JASBORR inventory, for some goodies of slightly greater value. I'm not looking for gem. I just need a decent SLRM that is working and complete to start with, for restoration. The only real "must" is that the volume potentiometer isn't scratchy. The speaker can be blown, since I can replace that.) The tubes (other than the tuning eye) can be weak. Again, I can replace those.  The capacitors can be original.  I can re-cap it, and replace any resistors that are outside of their value specifications. I'll have who is a wizard with an oscilloscope a friend re-align it.  It can even have a tobacco smoke-stained front, but the dial must be nice and legible.  I'd prefer one with a civilian ID plate, but a Navy ID plate is okay if there is no corrosion.  I'd prefer one that is already set up with an isolation transformer of the appropriate size, but that isn't a must. Does this sound one that somebody out there has available? If so, please e-mail me. Thanks!

As I was reading the letter about the Vancouver riots, the part about the homeless man reminded me of one of the ways I rotate the food in my bug out bag (BOB). I know that a lots of people don't like to give money to beggars, because they don't want them to just buy booze. I also know that many people don't use the food in their BOB (I've personally seen some rather old, funky smelling granola bars). Yes, I know you can use them when you go camping or hiking for practice, or just have MREs or freeze dried food that doesn't need to be rotated very often, but I don't have the money for MREs and I like to eat better than that when I camp.

So what I do is when I rotate things that expire, like granola bars or fruit leathers, is I put them in my car and/or my purse. Then, if I see someone asking for handouts, I ask them if they would like some food. I've never had anyone turn me down. That way the food doesn't go to waste, and you feel good about helping someone in need. This is a "win-win" solution. - Sarah M.

Some great advice, over at the Patarus Familia blog: Practical Preparedness - Storage

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Fukushima, Nebraska? Airspace Over Flooded Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant Still Closed

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Ron in Florida sent: New Apple Technology Stops iPhones From Filming Live Events. Ron's comment: "The implications of potential misuse are chilling." JWR Adds: Yes, what if The Powers That Be (TPTB) decide that they don't want anyone filming the police cracking skulls at a public protest demonstration? Camera "Lock Outs" could presumably be based on GPS coordinates, rather than in infrared emitters.

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The mainsteram media's demonizing of survivalism and militias continues: Montana fugitive part of new anti-government strain. They of course trotted out the left winger "extremism expert" Mark Potok from the SPLC to wax melodramatic. Oh how predictable...

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H.L. sent us a bit of local coverage from North Carolina on the filming of the CME short film "The Carrington Event".

"The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.

They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied." - Psalm 37:18-19 (KJV)

Friday, June 17, 2011

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Diamondback Firearms has only been around a very short time. However, they are rapidly gaining a reputation for producing extremely well-made handguns. At present, Diamondback is only producing a couple of models, one in .380 ACP and the newest in 9mm. There are several different variations on the .380 ACP already. The new 9mm just has one model at present.

Make no mistake, I'm not an advocate of the .380 ACP round as my one and only handgun. In today's society, there are just so many bad guys that are hopped-up on drugs that the .380 ACP, doesn't have the stopping power to put an end to an attack by someone who isn't feeling any pain. However, I believe the .380 ACP comes into its own as a back-up to another gun of a larger caliber.

Look, let's face facts. Many people believe that preparing for "survival" means preparing for an end of the world event. And they purchase the firearms they believe they'll need to survive that sort of thing. I have no problem with that, for the most part. However, I believe you are more likely to need a firearm on the mean streets of America (and the world, for that matter) to survive an assault, rape, robbery or other violent crime. So, purchasing the best AR-15 in the world isn't going to do you much good if you can't pack it every day on the street. You need a handgun, plain and simple. And you need a handgun that you can conceal easily.

I received the Diamondback DB380 for test and evaluation some months ago, and I was taken with the quality workmanship that was evident in my sample. And, quite honestly, the DB380, looks for all the world like a baby Glock, and most people who first see the DB380 mistakenly believe it actually is a Glock.

I carry a small .380 ACP handgun in an ankle holster as a back-up to my main carry gun, which is usually either a Glock 19 or 23, or some type of 1911 in .45 ACP. Having lived about half my life in Chicago, Illinois, I learned a long time ago to carry a back-up. When I was working as a Private Investigator, it just made good sense to have a second gun, and I usually carried a .38 Special snubbie in an ankle holster. As a main carry piece, I usually had a 4" barrel .357 Magnum revolver on my side or in a shoulder holster.

The DB380 is what I'd call a micro-compact .380 ACP. Matter of fact, it's smaller than many .22 and .25 autos I've owned, and the .380 ACP sure packs more punch than a .22 or .25 does. With 6+1 rounds of .380 ACP in the DB380, you are about as well armed as you'd be with a larger .380 ACP. I used to love the ol' Walther PPK/S in .380 ACP. It was (and still is) a good gun. However, when I take into consideration that the PPK/S is a medium-sized handgun, and the new breed of micro-compact .380s that are out there, the micros win as a second carry gun, in my book.

With a weight of only 8.8 oz, the DB380 is about the lightest of its breed that I've run across. With a 2.80" barrel, it is also one of the smallest .380s on the market. We have a double action only trigger pull of about 5-lbs. on the DB380, and that trigger pull is extremely smooth too. On the Diamondback web site, they claim that the trigger is "crisp" and smooth. I don't quite understand that comment, as I find that double action only (DAO) triggers aren't very "crisp." I will say though, that the DB380 has a very, very smooth trigger pull, and it's shorter than that found on some of the other micro-compacts.

I tested the DB380 with FMJ and JHP loads from Black Hills Ammunition, and JHP loads from Buffalo Bore. I also tested FMJ loads from Winchester Ammunition. I had zero malfunctions with any of the loads tested. The Buffalo Bore .380 JHP load is rated as +P and the DB380 had no problem with this load. The Black Hills JHP load gave me the best accuracy at 7 yards, with groups around 2" if I did my part. And, let's be honest here, any of the micro-compact handguns are meant for up-close and personal protection. I believe 7 yards is a fair test of the accuracy of these itty-bitty handguns. The Buffalo Bore JHP +P load really woke me up in the little pistol. I knew I was shooting a pretty hot load. I wouldn't recommend a steady diet of this +P ammo in the smaller .380s. Just make sure you pistol functions with this load, confirm point of aim, and then keep your gun loaded with it for self-defense. I also carried the Black Hills .380 ACP JHP load in my .380 handguns for a lot of years, and I still do, it's a fine load. For practice, I'd recommend either the FMJ Black Hills load or the Winchester FMJ load.

I liked the overall appearance of the DB380, it was very attractive, and as already stated, the darn guns look like baby Glocks. I did find that I preferred shooting the gun with the magazine with the finger extension on it.  I ordered a second mag with my test gun, and it came with the finger extension. The three-dot sights were small, very small, but my aged eyes could still pick up the three dots. Many of the smaller .380s on the market don't have sights that are "usable" to my way of thinking. But they are fine for a point shooting situation, which isn't a bad thing, as these guns are meant for up-close self-defense.

All things considered, I couldn't find much to fault with the DB380, other than the caliber.

Which leads me to the newly released DB9, which is a slightly larger version of the DB380, and it's chambered in 9mm. I wasn't aware that Diamondback was producing the DB9, as a matter of fact, it was sent to my local gun shop by mistake. They made a call to Diamondback, and asked about it. Diamondback said it was shipped to them by mistake. My dealer told them that I was a gun writer and would be more than happy to test and evaluate the gun... the deal was done!

The DB9, as already mentioned, is only slightly bigger and heavier than the DB380, and it still holds 6+1 rounds of 9mm. The weight is only 11-oz. and the barrel is slightly longer, at 3". Now, what's not to like here? Again, make no mistake, I'm not the world's biggest fan of the 9mm round either. However, I have no problem carrying a good JHP round in 9mm for self-defense. I just have my druthers, like everyone else, and I prefer either a .40 S&W or the good ol' .45 ACP for self-defense, in a JHP round. There is nothing wrong with the 9mm round, I just prefer a little more "oomph" in my self-defense round.

The DB9, just looks like a slightly bigger sibling to the DB380, and I mean it's only slightly bigger. What's not to like here, with a micro-compact 9mm? I had a good selection of Black Hills FMJ and JHP ammo, in new and remanufactured versions, as well as JHP +P and +P+ loads from Buffalo Bore. I also tested some Winchester FMJ and JHP +P 9mm loads - Their 9mm Supreme Bonded JHP +P load is 124-gr round and it sure got my attention. I fired the DB9 quite a bit, even though it was starting to hurt my hand after a couple boxes of ammo. I just really took a liking to the DB9 for some reason.

The Black Hills loads produced the best accuracy overall, that is, their JHP loads. I tested at 7-yards once again, but I did do a little bit of shooting at 15-yards. At the 7-yard line, I could easily keep all my shots inside of 2" and that's plenty accurate enough for self-defense. The DB seemed to like the 115-gr JHP Black Hills load the best. I couldn't find any place in the DB9 instruction manual, where it said the gun couldn't handle +P or +P+ 9mm ammunition. While the DB functioned fine with the Buffalo Bore 115-gr JHP +P round, the 115-gr JHP +P+ load was just too much for the DB9. The slide was moving too fast to pick up the next round in the mag, and it would close on an empty chamber. I was surprised that the 115-gr JHP +P load functioned fine from Buffalo Bore - I thought it was going to be a bit too hot for the DB9 to handle, but handle it did. However, I would restrict this load to carry only, and not for plinking. Then again, Buffalo Bore ammo isn't produced for plinking - it's meant as a serious self-defense load. This load really bucks in the itty-bitty DB9, and it may be too hard to handle for some folks.

I think I would stoke the DB9 with either the Black Hills 115-gr JHP or the Winchester Supreme Bonded loads and be quite happy with them. I know they are good self-defense rounds, and it's one I can handle in the DB9 without any problems. The Buffalo Bore load is an excellent performer too, just a matter of personal preference. I'm a bit picky about which loads I carry in each gun I have. Load selection is important, but hitting your target is even more important than the ammo you select.

Personally, I'd go for the DB9 over the DB380, simply for the fact that I have more trust in a 9mm to stop a fight. With the DB9 being only slightly bigger and heavier than the DB380, I can see myself carrying this micro-compact 9mm in an ankle holster any day of the week. I usually use a Blackhawk Products ankle holster, as I find them very affordable, as well as extremely comfortable. Many people give up on ankle holsters after only a day or two. I've found that you need to carry at for least two weeks, and then you won't even notice the ankle holster is there. Many times I've found that I forgot to take off my Blackhawk ankle holster after I've come home. It will be several hours later when I discover I still have the gun on my ankle. It's that comfortable. I've tried some of the pocket holsters, but no matter how small a gun might be, they all seem too big in my pockets, and I wear cargo pants all the time. I guess it's a personal thing.

Diamondback Firearms are in high demand, and right now, it seems as though demand outstrips supply. I'm not going to quote any prices here, as the prices vary quite a bit from gun shop to gun shop. It depends on the availability of the Diamondback firearms in your area, so shop around for the best price you can get, if you can even find the DB380 or DB9 in your area. They are hot sellers, to be sure. If you like well-made and USA-made firearms, then take a close look at the Diamondback line-up. Personally, I'd go with the DB9, just because it's a 9mm and only slightly bigger than the DB380.

Remember, most survival situations will be on the mean streets, not out in the boonies or in an end of the world situation. That's not to say that you shouldn't prepare for a survival situation that might mean a total collapse of society, I believe that it can and will happen. However, on a daily basis, you are more likely to need a concealed handgun to save your butt on the mean streets, and the Diamondback line-up is worth a close look.

I looked at your Bookshelf recommendations and I have a few suggestions to add:

First, the Combat Lifesaver handbook. I received a stapled back copy of this accompanied with hands on training through the military, prior to my recent deployment to Afghanistan, and it is basically an instruction course format, laid out for providing medical treatment during combat pre-first responders.

Second, the Combat Medic Field Reference. It is a combat medics waterproof pocket guide designed to fit into side pocket of trousers. It covers virtually everything a specific medic or group of medics who are rendering aid under combat would need including triage.

Third, since I am a bomb technician, I study explosives literature, and I highly recommend The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives by Tenney L. Davis. It's a great book for those inclined to learn more about this topic.

Thanks, - D.M.

Dear JWR:
Back in 2009, and even as early as 2007, many dire predictions were made about the massive wave of Alt-A and Option ARMs that were to reset in 2010 and 2011. See this widely-cited chart. (First mentioned in SurvivalBlog in January of 2009, in a link to iTulip.) Like many of you, I braced for impact, and then, nothing.

What happened? This happened. Alt-As and ARMs have been resetting, but at very low rates, keeping the level of defaults lower than they would otherwise be.

I don't believe this is a coincidence. The Federal Reserve has been keeping [downward] pressure on interest rates, possibly to get us over the hump into mid-2012, when the number of resets drop down to about 1/5th of today's numbers.

The trouble is, they may not be able to extend and pretend much longer. The Federal Reserve may have to raise rates very soon in order to attract buyers. If they don't hold out as long as possible, then all hell could break loose.

Looks like The Motley Fool concurs, in an article dated June 6th 2011: "As it turned out, interest rates have stayed low throughout the initial period of option-ARM resets, saving many borrowers from the possibility of much higher payments. But eventually, interest rates will go up. And while fixed-rate mortgage borrowers will enjoy their current fairly low rate as long as they own their homes, ARM borrowers may well find themselves in the uncomfortable position of trying to figure out whether to eat much higher interest charges, or refinance into a fixed-rate mortgage at a higher rate than the ones now available."

The Fed is going to have to thread the needle. The next 12 months should prove interesting.

Thank You, - C.D.V.

Mr Rawles,
I first posted this in a Survival forum I frequent often in response to the widespread, violent riots that broke out in Vancouver after the local hockey team lost in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

I just was reading up on it this morning and you got to ask yourself: If your "countrymen" would essentially devolve into barbarian hordes over a stupid game - what do you think they'll do when they have no food, water, heat, electricity and no government to bail them out or keep them in their place?

I was speculating this morning that Vancouver is a pretty extreme Canadian case, with the disparity between rich and poor being so large that it shouldn't come as a surprise that something like this would happen. The slightest excuse and the thin veil of civilization can come undone.

I might add that as something to consider - while it's an undeniable, logical fact cities are worse than rural areas if TSHTF - some cities might (and I do mean, might) fair better than others.

I'm reminded of the 2004 playoff run between Calgary and Tampa where after the game 7, the mood was more dampened, but people were still happy and there wasn't much in the way of civil disobedience besides a few women flashing and a few drunkards being idiots in the street.

I'll also note, having some experience volunteering and donating to local charities that while Calgary has a big disparity between rich and poor, we also have a great deal of non-profit, non-governmental services available for the poor. The Drop In Centre, for example, is the largest homeless shelter in the country (something I'm quite proud to say for the city I live in).

I'm a big fan of Rawlesian survivalism, especially because of his emphasis on Christian charity - that being the obligation (but not a requirement to "earn" salvation) for voluntary charity to the less fortunate.

Last year when my wife and I visited Vancouver, I was very disgusted when walking down a very busy, ritzy street I saw a disheveled homeless man on his knees in a street corner, holding a Styrofoam plate and hundreds of people just walking past him as if he didn't exist.

Poverty is no excuse for what the rioters did last night. However, at the same time, wealth, and the belief that wealth elevates an individual to a transcendent level over the poor is no excuse to deny charity to your fellow man.

This is why one of the best preparation for when the SHTF is to foster a charitable spirit, to help build up your community so when it does happen, your community doesn't devolve (or is more resistant to devolving) into a brutish, survival-of-the-fittest, war zone like Vancouver did last night. - N.L.

Are we approaching something like the Maunder Minimum? Sun's Fading Spots Signal Big Drop in Solar Activity. Come on, make up your minds. Al Gore is dying to know, will it be global warming or a Little Ice Age? Either way, be prepared for multigenerational TEOTWAWKI.

   o o os

Several readers have written me to mention this study: Freedom in the 50 States. It is an interesting yet slightly flawed study. Since when does perverting the definition of "marriage" constitute a freedom? In their criteria for measuring Paternalism, the authors of the study chose to weight "domestic partnerships" nearly as high as "gun laws". They also weighted "marijuana legalization" even higher than "gun laws". By doing so, they skewed the the study's outcome. If homosexual marriage and marijuana laws were factored out, then the American Redoubt states would have ranked higher. (See the study details.)

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Jonathan B. sent this news headline from Nanny State Britannia: Energy bill: landlords could be forced to refurbish energy-inefficient homes. Jonathan's comment: "Ah, the sweet smell of communitarianism in the morning:"

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Don at Creative Lightings in Cleveland wrote to mention a new product: a 2-foot LED Retrofit Tube Light. Don tells me that these replacement tubes work great with 12 to 24 volt DC alternative energy systems. SurvivalBlog readers can use the coupon code sb-20 for a 20% discount. (Creative Lightings is not a SurvivalBlog advertisers, but they have a solid reputation.)

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From Market Ticker, Ten Things for 2011, by Karl Denninger

"The fact that I am in favor of going back to the Clinton tax structure is merely an indicator of how scared I am of this debt problem that has emerged and its order of magnitude." - Alan Greenspan 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 are located in the Southeastern United States. There are nine families in our "block", with the next neighborhood or community more than two miles away. I refer to it as a block because a major highway runs through it. The only dwellings on the major highway are three houses and one country store. The rest are on a "U" shaped secondary road that starts across from the store on the main highway and ends, back on the main Highway, 1 mile east, at a cross road. We are all contained in one square mile within that "U".

I should give you a little information about the location of our small neighborhood: When I use the term "neighborhood", it’s more like a community. Of the nine dwellings, the closest family unit consists of three houses side by side, (3 of the 4 buildings on the main road) and are kin to each other. Every one of the other houses are approximately 1/4 to 1 mile apart, each dwelling having acreage ranging from 10 to 60 acres. All but the store are accessible through the woods to each other. Surrounding our, "community", is approximately 5,000 acres of public forest land with an old but accessible fire tower lookout on a hill that would be a workable sniper position and place to coordinate and raise an alarm. If anyone ever sees a red flag go up, it means someone is approaching from the North, yellow, South, orange, East, and purple, West. Green is the all clear. Radios are being purchased to supplement the initial flag system.

The only way in or out of what we, as a community, decided to call, "the defensive zone", (which I will detail, later) is by one major highway, running East to West and one secondary road, (the "U" shaped road), which comes to a crossroads at the major highway. This major road leads to two major metropolitan cities. The secondary road leads to a couple of smaller cities. I believe this secondary road is going to be a major strategic checkpoint for keeping out the individuals and mobs that were lucky enough to escape the cities mentioned above, from entering and scavenging our defensive zone. The planning started with myself and and the owner of the local country store and campground. His business relies on the hunters coming in from all over the region. So, as he and I discussed, we already foresee a problem from the "regulars" that come in every year to hunt.

After reading an article in SurvivalBlog.com titled, Survival Security Tactics--In All Locations, by Roy K., we discussed organizing a small meeting after store hours to discuss setting up a community wide defensive zone, (if and when the SHTF or TEOTWAWKI), that was going to be not only defensible but prosperous long enough for the country to get back to some form of organization. We already meet at his store on Saturdays for a community watch program. We live so far outof town and and isolated that "Burglary by U-Haul" is already a very real threat. One neighbor had his whole house emptied with a U-Haul backed up to the door. Meanwhile, a roll back trailer was used to pull his entire shed, with 4-wheelers and lawn equipment in it, onto its bed and drive away with it. Another neighbor ¾-mile down the road saw the U-Haul and rollback go by but didn’t think anything of it at the time. Later, the so-called "police investigation" determined that the shed had been dragged onto a roll back and a dual wheel truck had backed up to the door.

We purposely left the children out of the meeting for fear that they would brag to their classmates that we were "playing army" or something to that effect. We pointed a web browser at SurvivalBlog and I started the meeting by reading the entire article aloud. When I was finished, several of the men had taken notes and were asking very relevant questions. What we finally came up with, (after four hours of discussion and re-reading the article), was that we, as a community needed a plan. We decided on ranks, so to speak, and also took up a collection to purchase two way radios for each family and we already have three members with ham radios.

We also decided, based on the article, which house was best defensible by line of sight and distance and how to get everyone to it in case of perimeter collapse. We came up with a plan to "build" a compound zone or safe zone and post guards at each entrance.

One of the hardest things to decide was who we let in, (if anyone) if there is a TEOTWAWKI with a Golden Horde pouring out of the cities. There were some that wanted just their brothers and sisters and their children, to others that wanted their whole extended families and assorted friends to be let in. After a pretty heated discussion about being able to sustain only a certain number of people for a certain amount of time, we decided that if someone’s family came and had something to contribute and were able to feed themselves and their children, (meaning all we would have to provide was security and lodging), would be considered for entrance. Those with nothing, but wanting us to feed, house and protect them because they had not planned ahead would be turned away.

The consensus of the group was that if the family members of those that had to be turned away had a choice to go with them, but that was the bottom line. As it explained in the article, I believe everyone understood that either we all survive together, or we split up and maybe end up dying separately.  Since we all decided to start buying and pooling our canned goods and long term storage foods, would we have enough to share. We were careful to take the time to decide where our food sources were to be stored based on perishable versus non-perishables and concealment. We have all started vegetable gardens and instructed to retain any non-hybrid seeds that we can for storage. The subject of seeds from “store bought” produce was raised. It was explained that in many cases the produce that you buy has been hybridized and the seeds saved from these plants will not germinate or have poor yields. I ordered non-hybrid seeds from The Seed Savers Exchange.

Two neighbors and I have deep wells for fresh water supply, as well as chlorine tablets and Clorox. We worked out, (and are still working out the minor details), a water rationing system based on the number of people in each household and special needs.

We touched a little on pets, but mostly on livestock. Four of the families have chickens, two have horses and a milk cow, and I have chickens, quail, turkey, goats and pasture. Also discussed was the possibility that one or all of us may have to take out what we deem threats to our "own little city”, and agreed that if it had to be done to save the lives of our families and friends, it had to be done. In the end we compared what each of us have now and what we need. We have already started the collecting and storing process, and by the beginning of July, we are going to start practicing setting up the perimeters and guards.

What we have done is create our own “safe zone” or independent town. We have our sons (and a few daughters), cutting out a network of trails to and from each other’s houses. The younger ones, 8-11, are under the impression that they are for paintball games and the older boys know what the trails are actually for and are kind of “supervising”.  Also, the hunters of the group are mapping the game trails and I have built a pistol and rifle range on my forty acres to get together on Sunday afternoons to practice with our primary, "SHTF" weapons, which consist mainly of .308 hunting rifles (at least one of each in every family) and a few 9mm pistols, and one bolt-action .50 BMG. Several others have AR-15, FN-FAL, and SKS semi-auto rifles

I ordered and received topographical maps in just a few minutes from the USGS.  I suggest anyone working on a survival or bug-out plan, get the maps needed for your area or where you intend on bugging out to. They show in detail, elevation, accessible roads, rivers and streams.

The hardest part of the discussion was, if we had any casualties, where were they to be buried. I believe we came to an agreement that they would be laid to rest in an old pre-Civil war graveyard that is almost in the middle of our ”compound”. We decided that if we had to bug-out, everyone was given a laminated map, each with a different route, so that if anyone survived we could rendezvous and regroup.

I suggest that if you and your family have not made a plan, you do so now. Time is running out. If I had not taken the time to read the aforementioned SurvivalBlog article, I would probably still be sitting in from of the television instead of implementing a plan. If nothing else, you will get to know your neighbors a lot better and find the ones that you can trust to be there for you and you for them, when the time comes, and it is coming!

Thanks for the information your blog provides. It is invaluable to those who should, and will practice it. It might just keep you and yours alive.

I have a possible solution regarding R.W.L.'s letter specifically the question of storage of dry calcium hypochlorite.  After reading the Forever Preps article I bought a container that is similar to the old-style canning jars with the rubber gasket and snap down lid with the wire bail/lever.  I've seen them sold as canister sets for holding flour, sugar, cookies, etc.  It is made of clear glass.  My goal was to find a container with no metal or plastic parts on the inside of the vessel thus no chance of reacting with the chlorine.  I periodically look around the jar for signs of bleaching and chlorine smells and in two years haven't seen anything to indicate a leak. The rubber/plastic seal may be susceptible to deterioration by the Cl2 gas. I included the label of the Ca(ClO)2 package inside the jar with the powder for reference and labeled the outside with the contents and a warning to only open outside, in case someone other than me later handles the task.  - S. in Oklahoma

JWR Replies: Another non-reactive storage option is using a plastic bucket with a tight-fitting plastic lid. Keep in mind that if there is a not a very tight seal, then the resultant vapors can:
1.) Taint foods and
2.) Induce corrosion on nearby metals.
If you have any doubts about the integrity of the seals on the containers that you are using, then be sure to store the containers somewhere where that will not be in proximity to stored foods or metals. And, as you mentioned, proper "WARNING" labels are a must!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am a regular reader of Survivalblog.com, and recently saw your recommendation of the book The Simplicity Primer by Patrice Lewis. I purchased the book on Amazon on it Book Bomb day as you suggested, and the book arrived today. When I purchased the book, I thought this would be a great educational tool for my family, so tonight I started what will be a one-year ritual with my wife and two children. Immediately after dinner, I read the first tip out loud to my family. Tonight’s tip is on "Attitude". We talked about the advice, and each of us gave examples of where we have a good attitude and where we have an attitude we can improve. For myself, I told my kids that I feel it is my duty to talk to them and teach them things, but all too often I come home from work tired and spend time with myself rather than doing this, and allow them to go to their computer or television. I told them that what I am doing to correct this behavior is to spend the next year doing what we did tonight, along with some other things I have in mind. We then shared with each other something about the other’s attitude we thought was really great and how we felt it contributed to the family. At the end of the discussion, I summarized the importance of the tip and asked the kids if they liked doing this. Both of them said they enjoyed it and I think they are looking forward to it tomorrow.

It was nice spending this short time talking about an important topic with my wife and kids, I am looking forward to it too. I call this The Simplicity Challenge. Each evening after dinner, one member of the family reads a tip from the book and then the family discusses the tip for ten minutes. I think it promises to be a great new ritual added to our routine and will teach us all a lot, while bringing us closer together.

Warm Regards, - Ron in Florida

Mr. Rawles,  
Your reply to S.H. in Georgia letter was spot on about the loads for the M1 Garand.

I've been shooting an M1 for nearly 40 years, It's my favorite--truly my weapon of choice. I went through basic training with one and as soon as I could after discharge I bought one.

May I suggest:    

1. Never shoot any bullet over 168 grain weight. I shoot 155 grain. 

2. En Bloc clips can be loaded incorrectly, and if they are the gun will jam. Looking down at the clip, the top-most round should be on the right side.  

3. When I need parts for the M1, I order them from Fulton Armory. They have original U.S. GI parts. I would not use gun shows or after market.  

4. From several sources (including Fulton Armory) you can order the book The M1 Garand Complete Assembly Guide by Walt Kuleck  with Clint McKee. That books has everything you need to know about the Garand.   

Thank you for the info you provide for your readers. - B.L. from Ohio   


In response to S.H.'s post about the M1 Garand, he has obviously not shot his Garand very much, lack of M2 ball is a fallacy, as you can make your own with pulled surplus projectiles that run around $130 for 1,000. 147 Grain, FMJ Military Bullets. Use original IMR 4895 powder and you have M2 Ball. The cases for your new run of M2 ball usually come from the cheaper hunting rounds, they can only be used once, but no more than twice, unless you have real Lake City Brass which is not hard to come by. I have also shot every kind of hunting round available through my Garand with no problems, though they do like the FMJ bullets better.

Remember to lube your Garand at the proper lube points with, if you can find it, WW2 era grease pots. All the these WW2-vintage weapons need lubrication with heavy grease including the Garand, Carbine, Thompson, and Browning Machineguns. In some ways, the WWII weaponry is superior to most modern weapons. It is of high quality steel, they are tough, tested, and reliable. The best ammo that I have ever shot out of my Garand is from BMG linked rounds. You pull them out of the links and shoot away with your rifle. - Dan in Oklahoma

This news clip on Do It Yourself (DIY) arms making is fascinating: Libya rebels make weapons from scraps, (Thanks to KAF for the link.)

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House Panel Releases Scathing Report on 'Fast and Furious' Gun Operation, Sure to Anger Mexico

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David R. suggested this over at The Woodpile Report: Eight things to expect under martial law

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Yishai sent this: This USB Pot Charges Your Cell Phone By Excess Heat. Thermo-electric generators (TEGs) have been discussed before in SurvivalBlog. Unfortunately they are suited only to applications where temperatures can be controlled--not over open wood or coal fires. TEG junctions can be destroyed by temperatures spikes.

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Courtesy of Steven M.: For the Executive With Everything, a $230,000 Dog to Protect It

“Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves.” - Norm Franz, Money and Wealth in the New Millennium

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I often have SurvivalBlog readers write to ask me about vacuum tube technology and its robustness in EMP and CME events, and which antique multi-band vacuum tube radios to look for. I'm also asked how to determine which models can be run on both AC and DC power.

To begin, vacuum tubes are inherently "hard" to EMP and CME but not invulnerable. They are also relatively safe from lightning strikes--but again not invulnerable. Modern integrated circuits are at the opposite end of the scale for vulnerability. In essence, the smaller gates in a microcircuit, the greater its vulnerability. In recent years, chip makers have been creating chips with gates smaller than .3 microns. They are very vulnerable! In fact just an inadvertent discharge of static electricity can destroy a chip.

Often, questions from my readers turn to the now legendary Zenith Trans-Oceanic portable radios. Although I love the older tube type Zenith Trans-Oceanics, I must admit that they're not the best choice for preppers. This is because they require two different DC voltages to operate, and they lack a beat frequency oscillator (BFO). Furthermore, since they are now so collectible they are also much higher-priced than many other vacuum tube multi-band radios. Therefore, as much as I love my G500--I think it's one of most handsome radios designed in the 20th Century--I wouldn't recommend it for a serious survivalist. For details on Zenith Trans-Oceanics, see the book Zenith Trans-Oceanic: The Royalty of Radios.

The tube radio that I recommend most highly is the Hallicrafters S-38E. This is a very sturdy four band radio that has broad coverage from 550 KHz on the AM band all the way up to 32 MHz. This model was manufactured from 1956 to 1961. It has several advantages over the Trans-Oceanics:

  1. It requires only one input voltage that can range from 105 to 125 Volts, AC or DC.
  2. It has a proper vernier scale (horizontal) tuning dial. (Which all of the the early Trans-Oceanics lacked.)
  3. It has a separate band spread tuning dial (which all tube type Trans-Oceanics lack.) Band spread tuning makes fine tuning much much easier.
  4. It has a BFO setting. Granted, this is not a modern pitch-adjustable BFO, but the pitch can be adjusted by using the band spread tuner. You will find that it takes just a bit of practice to become accustomed to adjusting the the BFO for either manual Morse or single sideband voice transmissions.
  5. It has a "standby" setting, which temporarily deactivates the receiver so that a separate transmitter can be used side-by-side, without destroying your receiver's circuitry.
  6. It was a very popular model and hence produced in large numbers for several years. This means that spare parts are readily available and the price of used radios is quite reasonable.

One disadvantage is that a S-38E draws more current than a Trans-Oceanic. But at at least it draws less current than a big 9-tube "Boat anchor" receiver with a huge transformer.

Granted, there are many other general coverage vacuum tube receivers available, made by a variety of makers including Drake, National, Heathkit, and Hammarlund. And many of those have some features that are superior to the S-38E. But most of those radios do not have AC-DC flexibility. And most of them are much more expensive and use much harder to find tubes. And, as I mentioned, most of them draw much more current, which is a poor choice if you are going to power a radio from a battery bank. For the money, I think that a restored Hallicrafters S-38E is ideal for preparedness-minded families. There are very few other radios available for under $100 that will fill the same role. And incidentally, at an average auction price of $65, that is very close to the radio's final catalog price of $59.95. Given the ravages of inflation on the U.S. Dollar, I consider these radios a tremendous bargain. (A product that cost $60 in 1960 would cost $455 in 2011 Dollars!)

The All-Americans
There are many other vacuum tube tabletop radios that can operate on both AC and DC that were made for the mass market. These are often referred to as "All-American Five" and "All-Americans Six" radios. (In auction listings, sometime written "AA-5" and "AA6".) These are typical tabletop radios produced in the US and Canada from the 1930s to late 1950s. They can be identified by simply looking in the back of a tube radio set. If you don't see a large transformer, but instead see only five or six vacuum tubes sticking up from the chassis, then odds are that it is an AC and DC compatible radio. But if it has a big transformer, then it is an AC-only radio. (This is just a general rule for identification, so be advised there are some exceptions. For details, see the book The All-American Five Radio: Understanding and Restoring Transformerless Radios of the 1940'S, 50'S, and 60's.)

Many of the All-American Five" and "All-Americans Six" are two banders that can receive both AM and shortwave. But be advised that many of these have shortwave coverage only from 2 to 5 MHz, which is not particularly useful for modern international shortwave listening in the northern hemisphere. Coverage from 5 to 12 MHz is better, and coverage from 5 to 18 MHz is ideal. Also, be advised that very few of these radios incorporated a BFO. This makes them incapable of the modulating continuous wave (CW) and single sideband broadcasts. I suppose that you could use an add-on BFO module, but that would probably be solid-state circuitry, and hence vulnerable to EMP.) Lastly, nearly all of them lack band spread tuning. This makes precise tuning and compensation for drift very difficult.

The best place to find multi-band vacuum tube radios (such as the Hallicrafters S-38E) is on eBay or at your local ham radio swap meet. Unless you have considerable experience with soldering iron, then I'd recommend buying one that has already had all of it's older-style electrolytic capacitors replaced with modern capacitors. The slang term for this procedure is "re-capping." If you buy a tube radio at a garage sale, even if you're told that operates perfectly, don't take it home and just plug it in. Old leaky capacitors have a tendency to go "bang" with the initial high current in-rush of switching on a radio. So I recommend that you immediately take a new "find" to a friend who's an experienced in radio electronics and have it thoroughly checked out. Make sure that it's been recapped and is safe to operate. It also may or may not need to be "realigned". If it is an untouched tube radio, then odds are that at a minimum it will need a new power cord installed and will need to have its electrolytic capacitors replaced, in order for it to be safe to operate.

Running on DC
To operate an All-American Five" and "All-Americans Six" on DC, all you need to do is obtain nine or ten charged 12 volt batteries, and cable them together in series, (connecting positive terminals to negative terminals, in a chain). Make sure to use proper heavy duty brass screw-type battery cable clamps, and 10 gauge or larger cable. (And if you will be drawing more current than operating just one radio, then you will need even heavier gauge cabling!) If fully charged, a nine battery bank will yield around 108 Volts DC. Once the charge on each battery starts to drop below 12 Volts, simply add another battery to the series chain, to boost the combined voltage back above 105 Volts. A bank of 10 typical 12-volt car batteries will suffice, but a bank of 20 6-volt deep cycle (golf cart or marine type ) batteries would be fantastic. Warning: Keep safety in mind whenever working with batteries. The combined current of a DC battery bank is enough to kill an elephant. (BTW, so can the discharge of a high value capacitor--so even a radio that is turned off can zap you if you poke your finger in the wrong place!) Battery acid spills and vapor explosions are also well-documented hazards. Do not attempt to wire a battery bank unless you know what you're doing. If you have any doubts whatsoever, then please consult someone locally who has experience with DC wiring. Any older ham radio operator or even someone that works of electric golf carts will be able to assist you.

Spare Parts
Depending on your radio, the only spare parts that you will need for most vacuum tube radios are a spare main power fuse and a spare set of tubes. Most of these tubes are very reasonably priced. An S38-E, for example, requires one each of these five tubes: 12AV6, 12BE6, 35W4, 50C5, and 12BA6. You can often buy a full set of five on eBay for less than $30, all still in "new old stock" (NOS) condition.

The low-cost tube advantage doesn't apply if you buy a later Zenith Trans-Oceanic, which includes a 1L6 in the tube line-up. (The 1L6 tube is very scarce and expensive--so scarce in fact that some hobbyists have resorted to some elaborate work-arounds.)

The Sunspots are Coming!
We've just gone through more than eight years of horrible shortwave listening because the sunspot numbers were so low. (Good HF propagation depends on the solar wind charging the ionosphere.) This poor shortwave propagation caused a lot of shortwave listeners to give up on the hobby. But we've now passed the unusually long sunspot minimum and are coming back into higher sunspot numbers--and hence better propagation. Hooray!

I strongly recommend that anyone interested in buying shortwave radio equipment buy it soon, before strong interest in the hobby resumes. Once the good propagation resumes, HF ham transceivers and general coverage receivers gear will ratchet up in price. Buy now, while the gear is still inexpensive!

What You Will Need
Here are the basics of what you will need to enjoy shortwave radio listening with an older tube radio:

  • The receiver itself, properly re-capped and aligned.
  • Some antenna cabling
  • A long wire or dipole antenna
  • A ground wire and grounding rod
  • Access to frequency listings and broadcasts schedules

(There are frequency listings available on the Internet, but I recommend getting a recent copy of the World Radio & TV Handbook.)

In an Austere Environment
To operate in an austere (grid down) environment you will also need:

  • A battery bank. (Preferably deep cycle marine batteries) In the event of an extended emergency you will need PV, wind, or micro-hydro power, for re-charging.
  • Battery cabling.
  • Battery maintenance equipment. (Goggles, rubber gloves, distilled water, baking soda, terminal brush, cable tools, et cetera.)
  • An antenna lightning arrestor
  • Spare tubes and fuses
  • Hard copy frequency listings. (Such as the World Radio & TV Handbook or print-outs from Internet web pages.)


The foregoing represents just one approach to shortwave listening in an post-EMP or post-CME world. Plan B might be to simply purchase several compact battery powered compact modern shortwave radios, and keep them all in separate Faraday enclosures. You can break them out sequentially, as needed. Or Plan C might be to got totally "old school" and build crystal radios or one-tube regenerative radios. (Their drawbacks have previously been discussed in SurvivalBlog.)

My only other proviso about buying and restoring vacuum tube radios is that it is an addictive hobby. (As my late father once told me, "If you're going to have an addiction, make it a positive one.") I have accumulated several of these radios, and spend many hours tinkering with them. They are great fun.

Collecting and restoring old shortwave radios represents a great way to teach your children about electronics, electrical safety, batteries, battery chemistry, battery maintenance, circuit theory, antenna theory, antenna construction, radio propagation, and much more. And once you start tuning through the bands, international shortwave listening is a captivating entree to teaching your children about geography, time zones, geopolitics, and the history of the 20th Century. I highly recommend it.

Dear Mr. Rawles,  
I enjoyed R.W.L.'s recent post, "Prioritizing My Prepping", and noted the choice of the venerable M1 Garand as the MBR of choice. Though the M1 is a terrific choice for this role ("the finest battle implement ever devised" per Gen. Patton), those new to the rifle should keep a couple of critical things in mind when deciding to acquire their very useful piece of history.   Standardization of ammo throughout one's battery can be a beneficial goal, but be aware that all .30-06 is not equal when it comes to the Garand. The M1's gas system is designed specifically for the pressures generated by the military M2 ball round, and can be damaged or destroyed by higher pressures generated by many commonly-available hunting loads. I've never seen it, but have read that in severe cases this problem can lead to the injury or death of the shooter. Of course, though .30-06 ammo is ubiquitous, the available M2 ball will eventually disappear, as no major modern armies are using it. Federal makes a round to M2 Ball spec under the American Eagle label, but it hovers around $1.00 per round.

The answer is to purchase an "adjustable gas plug" for each of your M1 rifles. Several are available - I'm familiar with the "Schuster DCM Adjustable Gas Plug", which can be had from any major shooting outfit for around $35. By adjusting this plug you can allow over-pressure to escape before impinging on the Operating ["Op"] Rod, the face of which doubles as the gas piston. You must waste a few rounds to make this adjustment, but it is well worth it when shooting non-M2 ammo! For the record, though very similar to the Garand, the M14 (M1A in civilian form), in 7.62 NATO, is much more tolerant of this problem because of the free-floating gas piston inherent in the design.  

Also, if you plan to use the M1 Garand indefinitely, make sure to acquire plenty of en bloc clips. Without them it is a rather heavy single-shot rifle (as is true for any semi-auto rifle without a magazine as well. I've just found that it's easier to lose clips than magazines!). I would also recommend purchasing one or two of the specially-designed 5 round clips for legal hunting during "normal" times. They are available at the big shooting supply outfits.  

A final note: many "spare parts" lists can be found for the M1, with all the usual suspects: firing pin, extractor, ejector, etc. The one part that I've had to replace most often in CMP Garands is the clip ejector spring. They're cheap, so it wouldn't hurt to get one. A clip stuck in the receiver considerably slows the re-load process. And besides, you don't get to hear that famous "ping"!  

Thank you for all you do. I apologize for boring the millions of experienced M1 Garand lovers out there. - S.H. in Georgia

JWR Replies: That is all good advice. My only proviso would be that rather than try to tune a Garand gas system for different bullet weights, I recommend just sticking to M2 Ball or duplication loads, thereof. Granted, you can fiddle with an adjustable gas system and get a Garand to work with lower or higher grain bullet weights. But with original operating rods now worth $130 to $220, why put yours at risk? It doesn't take much to to bend an op rod, and once it is bent, it useless and probably beyond repair. (A "slightly bent" op rod is like a young lady being "a little bit pregnant.") A bent op rod represents an expensive mistake if it happens in present day circumstances. But even worse, it means being without a functioning rifle if it happens after the Schumer Hits The Fan. My advice: Don't risk it.

Loyal contributor C.D.V. sent this: US Housing Crisis Is Now Worse Than Great Depression

Sovereign Man asks: What are the Social Implications of Economic Collapse? (Thanks to James C. for the link.)

Nancy N. sent this: Roubini Says “Perfect Storm” May Clobber Global Economy. I love hearing mainstream market analysts go wild talking gloom and doom.

C.D.V. sent this: Gold to Reach $5,000 Due to Supply Shortage: Report An exhaustive report by Standard Chartered predicts that gold will more than triple to $5,000 an ounce because of a lack of supply, not just because of a surge in demand that most bullion bugs cite in their bullish calls.

Items from The Economatrix:

Investors Withdraw $3B in Stock Funds in May

The Economic Statistics US Elites Keep Hush-Hush

Newmont Mining CEO Sees Gold Heading to $2,000

Economic Data May be as Grim as a Bad Summer Movie

Craig in Montana sent me a reminder that there is a Flathead Preparedness Expo scheduled for Saturday, June 18, 2011, in Kalispell, Montana. Guest speakers will include Pastor Chuck Baldwin, Sheriff Richard Mack, and Stewart Rhodes.

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An anonymous reader sent a link to photos of construction of a 2,300 square foot bunker built under a garage. The fancy trim was overkill, but this is a very instructive series of photos.

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I've just updated the American Redoubt page with links to Jewish Chabad congregations in Bozeman, Montana (The Shul of Bozeman) and Jackson, Wyoming, (Chabad-Lubavitch). I pray that everyone who is moving to the Redoubt states be blessed with a good congregation, regardless of their particular faith.

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Don't forget that Ready Made Resources is seeking entries for their Preparedness Video Contest. Instructional (nonfiction) videos on any topic related to family preparedness are sought. The prizes are a brand new Rock Rivers Arms (RRA) Elite Comp M4 (AR-15 series compatible ) complete Barreled Upper Receiver and a Trijicon Reflex sight with a combined retail value of more than $1,400. Please keep your privacy in mind when you create your videos. (Don't mention any surnames or towns). You may post up to three videos to YouTube for consideration in the judging. Videos up to 10 minute long that are your original work that are already posted to YouTube are also eligible for the judging. To enter, e-mail the URL for video(s) to: grisrob@gmail.com. Do not send the videos themselves or links to videos stored at other web sites. Only nonfiction videos that you post to YouTube are eligible. The creator of the best video will win a brand new a brand new complete Rock Rivers Arms (RRA) Elite Comp M4 (AR-15 series compatible ) Barreled Upper Receiver and a Trijicon Reflex sight. The deadline or posting videos is July 26th. The video judged best will be announced on Monday August 1st, 2011.

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Mainstream media uses a psychopath as an example to slander the survivalist movement: Undersheriff: Montana Manhunt Target a Survivalist. (Thanks to S.G. for the link.)

"A man with a surplus can control circumstances, but a man without a surplus is controlled by them, and often has no opportunity to exercise judgment." - Harvey S. Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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.

First of all, a note of praise to JWR: thanks for all you do.  You've got an amazing reference blog site going here and are providing an immeasurable amount of help to your readers.  I stumbled across SurvivalBlog via a link in the comments section of another blog called The Deliberate Agrarian, last October. The link included the warning: “Just see if you can escape from the archives in less than four hours.”  Two weeks later, I emerged from the archives with blood shot eyes and was both enlightened and scared at the same time.  I had a lot of work to do, and became a daily SurvivalBlog reader. 

If you read the post referenced in the above link, you'll see that I was already interested in preparing for what I foresaw as the coming hard times.  My accounting background coupled with an interest in current events gives me an understanding about the world which is not comforting.  I began seeking advice on the best ways to prepare.  The advice in that post mirror what JWR and many others have said here in terms of the investments to make in your future.  I write today not only to show examples to add context to some of these ideas, but also to bring the issue of priority back to the forefront of all of your minds.  This essay is written to both help others in my position and also get my own thoughts organized for what needs to be done.  I would also love feedback from any of you that have a moment.  I've linked to a few of my own blog posts where you can leave comments and critiques. 

The prioritizing of my endeavors since then has been the following, and I'll discuss each:

  1. Real Estate.
  2. Water and Food.
  3. Tools and Skills.
  4. Precious Metals.

Real Estate

The land part is self explanation in its definition – you need a homestead where you can be self sufficient.  I grew up on a farm raising grass fed beef, and intermittently raised other animals as well.  Last summer my wife and I raised pastured poultry and I wrote about the experience here on SurvivalBlog.  Many acres are required to grow enough food and also raise enough animals to support a growing family. 

Debt free land which is agriculturally productive could perhaps be one of the greatest assets to a homesteader.  My wife and I are renting at the moment and looking for the right deal to come along.  We're trying to find as many resources as we can on purchasing foreclosed homes or pre-foreclosure properties.  That is where the real deals are, but they require a significantly larger amount of work (and patience) to find. 

While I appreciate the American Redoubt concept, we made the decision to relocate to northern Colorado.  Our reasoning was that we didn't want to be too far out there so that we still had a fairly decent sized town nearby for our needs such as groceries, hospital and church.  This is a far cry from the concrete jungle of southern California and we feel much safer.  Another reason to stick closer to civilization has to do with our future business plans.  We hope to grow our homestead (once it is located) to a size large enough that we can not only feed our family but have excess that we can sell.  Raising animals according to a grass-farming model allows you to enjoy some pricing premiums if you can market directly to the consumer.  I feel that we need to be closer to a few large towns in order to capitalize on this market.  Northern Colorado, having a number of universities is ripe for a business of this type. 

Water and Food

We have a few 5 gallon bottles of water in our basement for short term weather related emergencies in the room where all of our canned goods are stored.  At this point we're ready for a tornado and a few days without public utilities.  Long term, our plan for water purification is boiling.  I also really like the idea discussed here previously in the Forever Preps article about storing a quantity of dry calcium hypochlorite.  It is still unclear to me what the best way to store it (mylar bag? Ball Mason jar?) might be, so more research is needed.  If anyone has more information on this, please write to JWR and share with the rest of us. 

My wife and I are avid canners, usually doing jams, green beans and tomatoes or whatever is abundant and cheap at the moment, but we're slowly pushing our comfort level into other things like butter and chicken and also watching for deals on various produce at the store/farmers market that we can preserve.  I've got a 120 VAC food dehydrator, but I've read a lot about solar rigs too.  I've bookmarked a guide from Mother Earth News on a New Mexico style solar food dehydrator.  Many locals say that Colorado actually has more sunny days in a calendar year than southern California.  Learning to take advantage of the sun would be a great benefit. 

While we do have quite the stockpile of various canned goods, we have an even bigger job to do on the rest of the food.  My wife recently stopped at a local grain elevator and picked up a few ten pound bags of various types of beans.  We look forward to watching for bargains this fall during harvest time on not only beans, but wheat and rice as well. 

The nice thing about storing these types of food (raw ingredients) is that it is the next logical step for us.  We have been getting more in tune with our diet and focusing more and more on cooking from scratch and optimizing the nutrient density of our food.  A most excellent book that I'd like to recommend is Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, by Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  A lot of preppers have done the storage, but now the challenge is proper utilization of the stored food.  This book will help a lot and I urge you to give it a shot.  Plenty of explanation and research is provided on the scientific background on their recommendations, which we find very helpful. 

Tools and Skills

The basic tools of self sufficiency hold many forms.  I find them used for very affordable prices at garage sales and refinish/refurbish where necessary.  We're not just talking about shovels and posthole diggers, although they are very important.  I've recently written about what I've collected so far on my own blog, so I don't need to elaborate here.  These posts include hand tools, mechanical tools and  kitchen tools

A very important tool for family safety would be a firearm.  On my own blog post I've written about what I have so far.  The obvious gaps are the sidearm and the MBR.  I've decided to order an M1 Garand through the CMP to use as my MBR.  Reasons being both budget limitations and also the fact that I've already got a Remington 700 chambered in .30-06 so I will standardize my small arsenal around that cartridge. I've already begun collecting plenty more ammo including AP and Tracer cartridges in that caliber so that I have many options at my disposal.  Once I have the Garand, an Appleseed shoot will be next on the list so that I can become acquainted and hopefully master the gun. 

Gardening skills are a must.  We're renting a house until we find our homestead, so I can't till up the sod in our backyard.  So, we're container gardening as much as we can.  It is a challenge in its own right, but you've got to keep your green thumb sharp!  We've joined a Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) co-op for the summer here and I'm volunteering my time at the farm when I can to learn the differences in growing crops in this area, and also learning about the water rights issues. 

Precious Metals

Thankfully I've had an interest in precious metals for a number of years now.  I certainly don't own a ton of it, but at least I have a general level of comfort and knowledge about coins.  I've used JWR's advice to purchase Mercury Dimes on the dip days and have also started to pile up rolls of nickels.  I agree with the advice echoed many times on SurvivalBlog that precious metals investments are to be a lower priority.  Get the rest of your preps in line first and then plow the excess into silver.  That is my plan.


I'm blessed to have a wife that understands the world the same way I do.  This is a team effort and we're in it together.  We look forward to the day when we have excess food storage that can be shared with others or donated to food pantries. 

A final word about priorities: I do believe the above list is in the correct order.  We're out of the city and feeling great about the safety that comes with that.  We're working on food and water.  Tools and skills come about slowly as deals are found.  All of this is done with the knowledge that it is through God that we are enabled to do this and so the glory is His. 

This is in response to an earlier letter where a reader asserted that his knowledge as an electronics engineer will be of little use after TEOTWAWKI. He is wrong, we will not abandon all the technology invented over the past 100+ years. Say for example we are hit with the big solar event, several EMPs and most solid state electronics are destroyed. One component that will survive is the vacuum tube. There will still be means to generate electricity here and there that will not be affected, hydroelectric generators will still spin, steam turbines, some of these can be homemade on a small scale. Once you have any electricity you can use vacuum tubes to build all kinds of communication gear. Sure there are some very high priced tubes geared to the high fidelity audio market, but all the old radio and television tubes from yesteryear can be had from free to just a few dollars from various sites and garage sales. You can build a decent sounding audio amplifier with some 6GH8A tubes and a number of different horizontal output tubes for example.

Tubes are easy to design with and very forgiving. The circuits are simple. If you keep on hand a collection of tubes, resistors, capacitors, some various sizes of magnet wire to make your own transformers and coils and old transformers to modify, most laminated (E-I core types) power transformers can be de-laminated and redesigned and rewound by hand if need be, even some old tube radios, the possibilities are endless. Sure you will need some way to solder things together, a fire and a chunk of copper with a handle even works in a pinch as a soldering iron. You just have to think 100 years ago.

An old fan with a modified motor on a pole can make a small amount of electricity from wind, all you need to do is take it apart and put some magnets in the rotor, maybe isolate some windings, this is easier done now with machine tools.

An electronics engineer should start thinking what he needs to have on hand now before the SHTF. Do not discount your knowledge, just think old school, and you will be amazed what you can do. No you can’t make a computer easily but you can really help your community more that you think. As an electronics engineer I love the challenge of fixing anything. Thank you James for all you do and God bless. - Jimmy in California

JWR Replies: I agree! Don't under-rate ingenuity and resourcefulness. Speaking of which, I've posted a YouTube video from France once before in the blog, but it is apropos to repeat the link: Hand-Making Vacuum Tubes. OBTW, tomorrow, I plan to post an article that I penned about 1950s-vintage general coverage receivers that use vacuum tubes.

Mr. Rawles,
I work for the US Geological Survey, and I have had discussions with the country's foremost experts on this topic. For all intents and purposes, we have absolutely nothing to worry about. Your suggestion to locate upwind of the ash dispersal trend is good common sense, but not required. The missile sites in Montana are a far more relevant concern for anyone looking to relocate. Thank you, - H.D.


Mr. Rawles,
Much of the hype regarding super volcanoes is based on the discredited "millions of years" historical time-line. The creation model of geologic history puts this sort of cataclysmic eruption squarely during Noah's Flood and it's immediate aftermath. The Earth's crust (and climate for that matter) have become increasingly stable since that time.

I highly recommend Answers In Genesis to your readers for further information on the effects of Noah's flood and the subsequent ice age.

Thanks for all your great work! Regards, - Secret Argent Man


Mr. Rawles,
A friend forwarded an article in the St. Louis Dispatch written by a expert that was formerly with the USGS. Here is a quote: "Bernard Shanks, an adviser to the Resource Renewal Institute, has studied the six main-stem Missouri River dams for more than four decades. He has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and served as director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He has written three books on public land policy and is completing a book on the hazards of the Missouri River dams."

He says there is a very real possibility of unimaginably bad flooding along the Missouri if the giant earthen dams fail.

If I lived downstream I would give some serious thought to that possibility. - Tip in Eastern Washington

JWR Replies: As I recall, the highest of those earthen dams on the Missouri is at Fort Peck Lake, in Montana. Living downstream of there would not be advisable!

C.D.V. sent this alarming article: US Is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece: Gross. JWR's comment: Default may be delayed, but it looks inevitable!

The latest from Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge: The Fed's $600 Billion Stealth Bailout Of Foreign Banks Continues At The Expense Of The Domestic Economy, Or Explaining Where All The QE2 Money Went. (Thanks to C.R.W. for the link.)

Sue C. suggested: Goodbye Recovery, Hello Recession. Sue's humorous comment: "Wish I had noticed when we came out of the recession."

Also from Sue: "Meaningful probability" of a China hard landing: Roubini

A.N.R. sent this bit of commodities news: Nickel Plunging Into Bear Market on Biggest Glut in Four Years. This means that we will likely have an extra year's reprieve to stock up on U.S. Nickels (5 cent pieces) before the Treasury debases their composition.

Items from The Economatrix:

St. Louis Fed Chief Sees US Default as Big Global Risk

Fed: Default Would Be Dangerous

Martin Armstrong: Is The End Near?

Pimco's Bill Gross Says Get Out of Treasuries

30% of People With a 401(k) Have Taken a Loan Against It; New All Time Record

Kamie sent a link to a great 8 minute long chicken slaughtering and butchering video.

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Hooray! The U.S. has done away with the black beret. I always thought it was absurd to give everyone (the entire "Big Army") an "elite" beret. That struck me as Lake Wobegon grandstanding. ("...and where all the kids are above average.")

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Norm G. spotted this Nanny State news: EPA Bans Many Household Rat and Mouse Poisons. Stock up on d-CON, pronto!

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Steven M. forwarded this one: 'Doomsday Plane' Would Save President and Joint Chiefs in Apocalypse Scenario

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A friend of mine in Afghanistan sent this news article link: FBI expands agents’ investigative power. Well, gee, let's all just go on a great big fishing expedition, and not bother to keep any records... Do you feel safer, now?

"I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it's marked by the blood of those who died defending it." - Senator John Thune

Monday, June 13, 2011

A couple of SurvivalBlog readers have written me to mention that they've been getting error messages when they first try a search using SurvivalBlog's "Search" box.This box is located at the top of the blog's right-hand bar. I recommend re-trying the same search, using the same text in the same browser session. For some reason the second (and subsequent) attempts works fine. We are tracking down the problem, which seems to be with our Movable Type configuration. (Since the problem exists with several browsers and operating systems.) My apologies! In the meantime, please just repeat your searches, as a work-around. Thanks!

There had been quiet rumors for a while. I even asked my contacts at Ruger if they were going to make a M1911 pistol - I was met with silence, it said a lot. With 2011 being the 100th anniversary of the M1911 pistol, I was happy to see Ruger jump on the bandwagon with their own version of this grand old pistol. Many gun companies are producing limited edition 1911 pistols this year, some are only producing their standard line-up of 1911s. You can say what you want about the 1911, but it has endured - I can't think of many firearm designs that have been around for a hundred years - maybe a handful - at best.

My Ruger SR1911 was slow in coming. Many gun writers got their sample SR1911 in the middle of April - I didn't get mine until the middle of May. Grrrr!!! I suspect Ruger sold out of their first production run in short order - there seems to be no end to the thirst for quality 1911s in just about any variation. With today's manufacturing techniques, I think the 1911 pistol is made better than it has ever been made. With modern CNC milling machines, that hold tolerances much tighter, we are now seeing high-quality 1911s with custom touches, that would have easily cost thousands of dollars just a few short years ago.

I like Ruger firearms because they give you outstanding firearms at more-than-fair prices. I also believe that Ruger over-engineers a lot of their guns. This is a good thing. They are built stronger, to withstand a lot of use - the consumer benefits! If memory serves me correctly, I believe that Ruger is the largest producer of handguns in the USA. And, to be sure, all of Ruger's firearms are proudly made in the USA.

My SR1911 sample is made out of stainless steel - at least the major components - the slide, frame and barrel. Some smaller parts, like the magazine release, mainspring housing, grip safety, thumb safety and slide stop are made out of carbon steel and finished in a nice subdued black finish. The sights on the SR1911 are Novak's - with three-dots, two on the rear sight and one on the front sight. I have liked Novak's sights since I first saw them on some S&W pistols.

I understand that, the stainless steel barrel and bushing are made at the same time, from the same piece of steel, and these two parts stay together during the assembly process - again, this is a good thing. My sample's barrel and bushing have a "just right" tight fit together, which contributes to great accuracy. BTW, the SR1911 comes with a non-marring plastic bushing wrench, to help with disassembly - a nice touch! The barrel is throated to easily feed any and all types of JHP ammo, too. The feed ramp on the frame is nicely polished to an almost mirror finish, too. Again, this aids in feeding the rounds into the chamber.

The ejection port is lowered and flared, for sure and positive ejection. The slide has cocking serrations that are angled, on the back of the slide, where they belong. Many 1911 makers are putting serrations on the front end of the slide these days. While I can take or leave 'em, I believe it only adds to the overall cost of a 1911 by adding these serrations on the front of the slide. The front sight is dove-tailed into the slide, too. Novak's sights give a very fast and sharp sight picture, and my ol' eyes appreciate this.

The barrel and bushing were expertly fitted to the slide. There was just a hint of movement when I pressed down on the barrel's hood. I knew this was gonna be a good shooter. There was also just a hint of play between the slide and the frame, again, I knew the tightness would contribute to better than average accuracy, and still allow the SR1911 to function under any circumstances. There simply wasn't any "slop" between the frame and slide - the CNC process really keeps the tolerances close. Way to go, Ruger!

The hammer is a spurred design for faster lock-time. And, the slide is stamped "Ruger Made In USA" on one side, and the other side of the slide has the Ruger logo - that's all that's on the slide in the way of markings. As we move further onto the frame, we see that there is the beaver-tail grip safety, that is fitted nicely - just the right amount of play side-to-side. The grip safety also has a "bump" on the bottom of it, to help ensure that it is fully depressed when gripped properly. The grip safety was also expertly designed, too - just the right amount of movement to disengage it for firing. The mainspring housing is made out of steel - this is a nice touch, in a day when many 1911 makers are providing plastic mainspring housings. Nothing "wrong" with the plastic housings, and I've never heard of one breaking. However, given my druthers, I'll take a steel mainspring housing.

The plunger tube is also integral with the frame. I's not a separate piece, that is staked on, as it is on so many other 1911s - so no worries about the plunger tube coming loose. The magazine release is slightly extended for faster and easier mag changes, too. The mainspring housing is also checkered - I like that - for a very secure grip. The trigger is a match-grade affair made out of aluminum, and my trigger pull broke at 4.5 pounds, just about right for a gun carried for self-defense. There was a hint of backlash when the trigger was pulled, and a minute or two corrected that by adjusting the over-travel screw in the trigger - and I Loc-Tited it in place after I had the trigger adjusted to my liking.

The thumb safety is of the combat variety - extended - and it snicked on and off with authority - with no play. The slide release is standard and not extended. FWIW, I don't care for some of the overly extended slide releases - they can lock the gun open during firing - not a good thing. Nice hardwood grips adorn the SR1911, they are of the double-diamond checkered pattern with the Ruger logo emblem in the center of the grips. The magazine well is also slightly beveled for faster magazine changes. the SR1911 comes with two magazines, one is a 7-rounder that fits flush and the other is an 8-round mag that extends below the frame. I found both mags had very stout springs, that will insure reliably feeding rounds into the barrel.

The SR1911 is a full-sized, Government Model 1911, with a 5" match-grade barrel, and it weighs in at 40-oz empty. It has a good heft to it, and balances nicely. Then again, I don't think there is a better handgun design than a 1911, in just about any configuration. The front strap on the frame was left smooth - I would like to see Ruger finely checker the front strap in 25-LPI for a more secure grip. What I usually do is add a piece of skate board tape to the front strap of 1911s that have a smooth front strap - it's a cheap fix - and I only have to replace the friction tape about once a year. This takes only about 3 or 4 minutes to do.

I make no apologies when it comes to the 1911 - it's my all-time favorite semi-auto pistol, bar none. So, I have some prejudices when it comes to 1911s - I like 'em - period! Also, when doing a Test and evaluation on any 1911 pistol, I'm a hard person to please - they've gotta be done right. I've built a number of 1911s over the years, and customized - well, more than I can remember, 1911s. It's not that I'm hard to please, it's just that I think I can improve on just about any 1911 that comes into my hands. With the SR1911 - there was only one "improvement" I made - I removed the nice hardwood checkered grips, and put on a pair of (my design) "Code Zero" 1911 grips - that are manufactured by Mil-Tac Knives & Tools. I just prefer my design over all others, and everyone I've talked to who has tried my design agrees.

I collected an assortment of .45ACP ammo for testing in the SR1911. I had 230-gr FMJ and JHP from Black Hills Ammunition as well as their 185-gr JHP. From Winchester Ammunition I had white box, USA brand, 230 grain FMJ ammo. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had 230-gr and 185-gr JHP which is +P rated, as well as their 230-gr FMJ, again, +P rated.

When breaking-in a new 1911, I like to run some FMJ through the gun first, it helps take some of the burrs off the action. I used the Winchester USA 230gr- FMJ ammo for this. On my second magazine, I had a malfunction - which surprised me. The 3-rd round from the magazine jumped in front of the extractor, instead of sliding up under it. After that, I didn't have any further malfunctions with any of the ammo I tested. I'm sure it was just a fluke of some type.

The SR1911 fed all the JHP ammo from Black Hills and Buffalo Bore without any problems - never once did the gun hesitate when feeding JHP ammo.  In all, I've put just slightly over 350-rds of ammo through the SR1911 and I've only had the gun for a few short days. As to accuracy, the Winchester 230-gr FMJ was giving me groups in the 3" range - and this is more than combat accurate at 25-yards. The Black Hills 230-gr JHP ammo was giving me groups in the 2" range if I did my part. Same goes for the Black Hills 185-gr JHP ammo. The Buffalo Bore 230-gr JHP +P ammo was giving me groups in the 2.5" range and their FMJ ammo was giving me groups slightly larger than that. I was shooting over a rolled-up sleeping bag, on the hood of my SUV - in the rain! I believe, the SR1911 can do better, when I get out there in better weather conditions.

I'm presently carrying the SR1911 is a Blackhawk Products leather cut-away belt holster, and it rides high on the belt and it easily conceals the big SR1911. I also adjusted my Blackhawk Serpa tactical thigh holster to fit the SR1911 - and this is a popular rig with our military and law enforcement personnel. It keeps the gun secure and on the thigh - away from your other gear. Personally, I think the Blackhawk Serpa tactical thigh holster is the absolute best of it's breed on the market! I also have two spare magazine carriers on the Serpa tactical thigh rig - again, from Blackhawk products.

That lone malfunction, is the only malfunction I had with the Ruger SR1911, and I'm sure it was just a breaking-in period, and that's why I recommend that people fire at least 100-rds or 200-rds of ammo through their pistols, before they carry 'em for self-defense. If anything is going to go wrong, it will usually happen within those first couple hundred rounds. I know, the price of ammo these days is sky high, and it's not gonna get any cheaper. So, if all you can afford is to run a couple a 50 round boxes of ammo through your new gun - then that should give you an idea if there are any problems...of course, 200 rounds is better!

Changes to the SR1911? Well, I'd like to see Ruger offer the night sight option, and I'm betting good money, they will. Also, the front strap should be checkered - this is my personal preference, though. I already changed the grips, and as I said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the outstanding hardwood checkered grips that come on the Ruger SR1911 - they are much nicer looking than the cheap rubber grips that come on some other 1911s, like the Kimber Custom model. Some people like a rail on the frame of their 1911s for attaching lights - I can live without that rail, it upsets the balance of a 1911 if you ask me.

I'm hard on 1911s when I get 'em for test and evaluation, as I already mentioned. But I honestly couldn't find anything to fault with the Ruger SR1911 - it's good to go right out of the box - there's really nothing you have to do with the gun, except clean it, oil it and take it out to the range and bang away with it. I like that Ruger supplies you with two magazines, too. (So many gun companies these days are only giving you one magazine.) And, I like that Ruger's second magazine is a 7-rounder, if you want to more easily conceal the butt of the gun--because the 7 round mag fits flush in the frame.

I like to save the best for last, and that is suggested retail price. On the SR1911, the full-retail is $799 - and remember, you can usually find Ruger's discounted in most gun shows, gun shops and sporting goods stores. However, right now, demand for the SR1911 exceeds supply - so expect to pay full retail on the SR1911 for a few more months. Ruger's entry into the crowded 1911 field is a most welcome addition, and if you ask me, it's a lot more gun, than you get from other 1911 makers, Furthermore, the price is less and it's made in the USA. All gun makers like to claim that they make the best guns. I know that Kimber makes some outstanding 1911s. However, I'll put my Ruger SR1911 side-by-side against the Kimber Custom model any day of the week. I think the Ruger is a better gun, and the price is lower.

How much did I like my SR1911 sample? Well, it won't be going back to Ruger, and I went out and purchased a second SR911, out of my own pocket, and I hate parting with my hard-earned dollars - that says a lot. Ruger, you did the SR1911 up right. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear Mr. Rawles,  
I am heeding your advice about looking at Idaho Montana, Eastern Washington, and Eastern Oregon for my retreat.  But I am very concerned about the potential super volcano beneath Yellowstone National Park. I have researched the past eruptions and their ash falls.  I see from those maps that these areas are very much in that zone.  I'm concerned not so much for my generation but for my children and my children's children.  I want my retreat to be viable for generations to come.  What is your thoughts regarding this threat?   Thank you! - Guy

JWR Replies: There have been a lot of sensationalistic news reports about Yellowstone supervolcano caldera in recent years. Most of these exaggerate the risk. More realistically, volcanologists tell us: "It could still be tens of thousands of years before the next eruption". And, the "rapid uplift" that was widely reported in 2004 in 2005 has slowed, significantly.

Because of the prevailing winds, the anticipated volcanic ash fall is primarily a threat to eastern Montana, eastern Wyoming, the Dakotas and the Plains states. There is just a negligible threat to west of Yellowstone. If you consider it a threat in the next few generations, then simply buy property that is at least 100 miles UPWIND of Yellowstone. If there ever is an eruption at Yellowstone, anyone in northern Idaho or Northwestern Montana will only get ash fall that first circles the globe. It it will be people the Plains states that would get buried by several feet of ash.

As a bonus, locating UPWIND of Yellowstone will also put you upwind of Montana's missile fields. It is noteworthy that Malmstrom AFB (which, BTW, is a locale in the second sequel to my novel "Patriots", that I'm completing next month) has dozens of strategic nuclear targets. If we are ever engaged in "nuclear combat toe to toe with the Rooskies", each silo could be targeted for a nuclear ground burst. (It is ground bursts rather than air bursts that create significant fallout.) Again, I wouldn't want to live downwind.

And as a further bonus, the climate is also much more livable west of the Great Divide. East of the Great Divide, the winters can be bitterly cold, but west of the Great Divide it is more mild.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
Instructables.com is one of five web sites I visit on a daily basis (second to yours, of course), and I love seeing links to it from your blog. 

I don't know if you've seen the following entries, but they're certainly handy in a pinch:

Of course purpose-built stretchers, slings, and bandoleers would serve one best; but once the Schumer hits the fan, the next best thing might just be made from stockpiled duct tape and parachute cord!

Best Regards, - Skip H.

Mr Rawles,
I have been reading survivalblog.com for about eight months now and have been considering trying to go off the grid so to speak. I have been reading many, many very helpful and interesting articles about "how to" setup and or make your own solar panel system. There is one question that I hope that you can field to your contributors of this subject. How you you protect your solar panels and system from a HEMP should one occur? I have not found info on how to protect against this kind of attack. It does not seem practical if you mount a system on your roof to take it down and shield it in a Faraday cage. There would just not be enough time for that exercise to happen nor would anyone get any "heads up" type of notice. Thanks, - Greg in Salt Lake City

JWR Replies: The silicon panels themselves as well as their blocking diodes are inherently fairly "hard" against EMP.  It is the charge controller and the inverter in your system that are most at risk.   Buy spares and store them in static protective bags inside Faraday boxes/cans.

Hi James,
We read SurvivalBlog often and stumbled across your article about the American Redoubt and found it very interesting, especially after watching the movie "Atlas Shrugged." I wasn't sure what it meant to us or what we could do with the info you provided. We decided to randomly search for jobs. We live in Arizona and have always wanted to move out of state, summers here are brutally hot. After reading your article about relocating we decided we really didn't want to be in Arizona when it all goes down, with the lack of water and you know the rest. We have tried to move to Texas and Colorado before but never found jobs, so it fell through.

We are now moving to Idaho in two weeks. We left it it up to God to provide the job, the house, and all the details. He has completely amazed us! In just three short weeks he has provided all of the these things and more! I won't take up to much more of your time with the details but I wanted to tell you that it started with you and the article that you wrote.

Thank you so much for risking it all and putting this stuff out there. We are reading and taking action. We are encouraging our friends and family who are also Christian believers to think about relocating as well. God knows our needs and the future and I can't help but think he's gathering us together for a good reason. Anyway, thanks for planting the seed and I continue to pray for you and your family.

God Bless, - Jessica

NASA Internal memo: Family/Personal Preparedness Plan

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I heard from CPA Mara Helland that now that tax season is over, she now has the bandwidth to accept just a few more clients. I have been very satisfied with her work on my taxes for the past three years, and I highly recommend her. She is based up in Montana, but has clients in many states. I can vouch that she handles long-distance clients wonderfully.

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Carolina Readiness Supply is hosting the "Sensible Mountain Preparedness Seminar" on June 18th in Clyde, North Carolina. (Near Asheville in the Western North Carolina Mountains.)  For details, see: CarolinaReadiness.com.  This is a full day of preparedness information and tips.  The keynote speaker is William Forstchen, the author of the post-EMP novel "One Second After".

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My sincere thanks to the SurvivalBlog readers who have made their 10 Cent Challenge voluntary subscription payments via Bitcoin. (Our Bitcoin address is: 1K7Gk6kqX6psSWDJaRV6pyDH7dwZuvqtUB.) Please support the Bitcoin movement. If we can use mechanisms like Bitcoin and traditional barter instead of the banking system, then we will starve the banksters, encourage a reversion to sound currency, and regain some of our economic freedom.

"The reality is that the world is one poor harvest from chaos . We are so close to the edge that politically destabilizing food prices could come at any time."  - Lester Brown, The Telegraph, June, 2011.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging. 

I am a double transplant recipient who is 50 years old and in fairly good health but with restrictions as to what I am physically able to do. 

My household consist of myself, my wife, and our 8 year old son. I also have a grown daughter that lives three hours drive to the west but she is not a major factor in emergency plans. I don't say this to be heartless or imply I love my daughter less but,  from my standpoint, she is now on the periphery of my planning as is any other family member who is outside my immediate area of influence or impact. My wife would no doubt be more inclined to react to emotion than to the reality of our circumstances but, that is why God has made women look at things differently than we men do. Lest you get the wrong impression of my wife she is very detail oriented and can come to a logical versus totally emotional conclusion and I am sure if the worst set of circumstances were to present themselves she would no doubt support any decision I/We would make.

I have been retired now for a little more than 10 years because I am the recipient of a  double transplant and as a result I have restrictions on what I can do. 

My transplant was truly a God send for keeping me alive 10 years ago but as I look around at what is going on in our Country and on a bigger scale Globally, now I have the uneasy realization that in a SHTF situation or God forbid or maybe a God-ordained moment  other wise referred to as a TEOTWAWKI I will literally be on the clock. The clock will start ticking for me the moment there is an interruption in my ability to procure the 2 or 3 life extending drugs I depend on at 12 hour intervals to fight off organ rejection.

There are two drugs associated with anti-rejection that especially concern me because they are so expensive that our local pharmacy's  here in the town nearest to where I live do not stock them. I get these two medications from a pharmacy located 35 miles from where I live or we order them on the Internet. The third drug I depend on is a low dose of steroid. The steroid is cheap and probably readily available with a prescription at any pharmacy, I do have a maintain certain buffer with these steroid as well as I can. The other medications I take while serving a health or quality of life purpose are in my view secondary to the supply of the three above mentions drugs serve. 

One of my anti-rejection drugs dosages is based upon a blood test that I take about four times a year and the dosage could be considered variable. I have a prescription for “x” number of pills twice a day. About 6 months ago the latest literature available to the doctor indicated that the pancreas could survive with a certain level of this medication in the blood that was lower than my current levels. The doctor verbally lowered the number of pills for that particular medication but did not alter the prescription. I now have a couple of months buffer on that medication but not on the other.  I have some extra money available currently and after consulting my wife we have decided to ask the Doctor for a three month prescription to try and keep a at least a 90 day buffer for that medication. In the event of a regional or national emergency I have on my checklist to immediately contact my doctor to ask that she make a request that all prescriptions have at least 90 days worth of medications. My doctor did this after 9/11 and I can't see her giving me any problems in the face of an emergency in the future.

It is these types of concerns that keep me awake at night.  Will I be able to recognize an untenable situation in the making near home? Will I have any better chances for my family if I “Bug Out” instead of just hunkering down and “Bugging In” ?

There are some factors other than my medications that I feel start me off in the “Bug In” column at least initially. I live a few miles outside of a small east Texas town. There are numerous creeks  and ponds within easy walking distance for water, we also live within a quarter of a mile of our community water tower. I recently spotted two or three ponds very close by that I was unaware of until looking at my property on Google Earth. For the most part I have friendly neighbors and we have members of both sides of our family that are anywhere from .3 of a mile to 5 miles away. Even though the family members are not what could be termed preppers they are country folk and probably slightly better of than say apartment dwellers when it comes to food stocks and tools. Though we have not specifically talked about SHTF situations all the family members members that live within that five mile radius have FRS walkie talkies that we might be able to use to communicate during an emergency. Another factor I consider is, I have three acres of land and a good rear tine rototiller. I have planted  a small garden by country standards but probably huge by city standards. I also have dogs and about a dozen laying hens and three Guinea Fowl to consider if the “Bug Out” option is chosen.

My wife and I have been trying to prepare for hard times by having a few months worth of food on hand and in storage containers that are easily transportable. We continue to try and increase our food stocks each payday. We have a fairly rounded out supply of  first-aid supplies and first-aid information. My wife worked as a lab tech in a hospital the for 25 years before changing careers and from personal experience I can testify that medically speaking, she is one good cookie. We have multiple methods of storing, Collecting, and making water potable. I have bottled water in storage in both of my vehicles as well as a Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter behind the back seat of my truck.

I have ample stores and variety of weapons and ammo barring a bona fide war. We have “Bug Out Bags” for the three of us that could sustain us in the worst of circumstances for at least 10 days if we all three have our Bug Out Bags (BOBs) and five days if all we could grab was mine.  We have Get Home Bags (GHBs), walking sticks, and at least one pistol or survival rifle available in both vehicles in the event some serious personal protection is needed. The GHBs have some supplies and food that could be combined with the BOBs supplies if bugging out by vehicle and not by foot. We have an emergency generator that I have put four rubber tires and two collapsible handles on the generator to make it more portable it can be rolled up in the back of the truck or the utility trailer using ATV ramps. I am currently researching options for making the generator a lot less noisy. a couple of weeks of gas that is rotated through the lawn mowers. We have a fair supply of batteries, candles, lamp oil and wicks. But it is not so much these things that bother me, it is my daily maintenance drugs that I must have to keep organ rejection at bay.

I have a checklist on the wall where we store our BOBs with instructions that I have tried to  tune to the perceived amount of time available to make an exit. The checklist tries to cover items to grab from the basic instruction of, grab the BOB and get out, to a situation of having an hour or two that we can use to fill our covered utility trailer that stays packed and ready for camping at all times with food stocks. In my checklist and instructions I try to mention places to go grab items that are currently available here at home or are in use but available. These things may otherwise be overlooked in a hurry up situation, for example the GHBs, weapons, water, toilet paper, blankets etc. stored in each vehicle that might be overlooked as we go about the business of hooking up our utility trailer to our truck. I have an extra 20 lb. propane tank under the grill, just make sure the valve is closed unhook it and it's ready to go in the utility trailer. There is an old refrigerator in the back part of my shed that I have stored large bags of staples  like rice, beans, and flour not to mention a fairly large supply of  batteries this could easily be overlooked if not mentioned in a checklist. Water barrels and hand pumps stored in another shed are likely suspects to be overlooked at crunch time simply because they are stored in a shed that for the most part stores Christmas items and summer time pools and toys for our child. All of these items mentioned though in some cases  may be a larger version of something I already have and therefore could be labeled redundant, they could still fall into the “need” category not the “want” category. Items included on my checklist are the things that could be easily missed in situation where speed of your exit is condensed and these particular items because of limited storage space in one shed have been split up and stored in another. Those things I feel are most important for survival will naturally be first on my checklist or in the BOBs if possible. My checklist runs the spectrum from basic needs to the items that make having the basic needs easier to use or last longer.  

I have one advantage that some other preppers may not, that advantage is my wife, She is in total harmonious agreement on the need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Even though she does not read the suggestions, the blogs, or the news articles as frequently as I do, she still supports purchases that would illicit a fair amount of eye rolling from other wives.

I am sure many Preppers and Survivalist have pondered on the questions of what to do, if in fact you have elderly parents that are homebound or in nursing facilities, special needs children, or family members that are oblivious to the dangers that may be closing in around them. There maybe circumstances beyond anyone's control that are going to eliminate any movement of these family members except to your home. If or when these predicaments arise there is going to be some serious heart wrenching soul searching decisions to be made if your plans were to “Bug Out”. How far out can you realistically cast your web of protection? Ask yourself: do survival odds go up for anyone or do mortality rates go up for everyone?  I guess the inverse question that I must ask before deciding to “Bug Out” with my loved one is, does my dependence on daily maintenance drugs or my physical restrictions pose any unwanted stress for those I wish to take out of harms way?  How long can I survive on what medications we have available? Can I realistically hope to stay supplied with these life sustaining drugs if I and my family relocate for an extended period of time? All of these questions and many more like them may one day not only have to be asked about some of my family members but would rightly have to be asked about me. In a TEOTWAWKI could I talk my wife into Bugging Out without me if the odds looked better for her to take our child and evacuate or would everyone be temporarily better off  having me there but having to watch as I become weaker and sicker from organ rejection and then organ shutdown? These are some sometimes disturbing and yet sobering thoughts. Being the eldest child and the child living nearest my mother who is now a widow  I have seriously pondered the question: Could I leave Mom if my wife and child were in a perceived danger as opposed to a de-facto in the moment danger?  Could I at least get my Mom to relocate to my home that is a few miles outside the city limits? Getting my mother to relocate to my house for a short or extended stay would be a great deal easier than getting her to commit to leaving either the town  or the state, Of this I am sure.

Are these factors in the “Bug Out” versus “Bug In” debate? You bet.  Could this cloud my judgment or place some sort of limit on my options?  I say probably.

Not because of News items of the day but, more because of the economic situations my mother endured as a child on a small farm, my mother is a prepper of sorts. Preparing with a little extra food is not exactly preparing for large scale disaster, a SHTF moment, or TEOTWAWKI  but, If we should ever come to a point in time where it is prudent to speedily get my mother and to take only what is essential and relocate to my house, her supplies will improve the outlook for everyone involved. One thing that I have done for awhile now is to discuss some of the preparations my wife and I have made in the event of hard times. Mom being the farm girl she was, is very supportive. It is my estimation that the discussions we have had about hard times and preparations will pay off if the time comes to put planning into action. I occasionally mention some of my preps and changes that I have made to my “Bug Out Bag” just to illicit discussion on what my BOB is and when it might be used.

The only real options are  going to be to sit down with your loved ones when you come to that “Y” in the road and lay out the options, take stock of your inventory and your situation, pray, and then  consider the consequences of  your available choices. Don't let emotion drive you away from the cold hard realities that may present themselves upon close review. The coldest hardest fact for me is that in a “Bug Out” situation the clock may actually be a timer that has started and there just may not a reset button. With no reset available my tangible preparations such as food, water, and those items will no doubt be important but, the instructions I've collected and printed out or any head knowledge I may have tried to pass on may ultimately be as valuable if not more valuable than the physical supplies we have tried to lay up, Kind of the “teach a man to fish” thing.

I hope the timer never starts without that reset button being an available option but, if it does start my decisions will necessarily be weighted on the side of my families safety first with mine becoming secondary. - H.C., in God's Country, East Texas

I'd like to share my recent experience with grocery discounts using the controversial discount cards that stores issue. First of all, I've never filled out a customer-information form for any such card, and since I pay cash nobody knows who I am. So since my name is not connected with the discount cards, I gladly use them to take advantage of every possible discount.

There are three Kroger stores in my area, and one day recently I was on the canned vegetable aisle and noticed a tag that said that a certain brand of diced tomatoes was priced at 97 cents, but with the Kroger discount card and if 10 or more cans were purchased, the tomatoes were only 47 cents a can! So with anonymity and cash in hand, I went to all three Kroger stores in town late in the evening (when far fewer other shoppers were around) and bought every can of that brand of diced tomatoes, scoring more than 300 cans at just 47 cents each. I did the same thing the following week when certain types of dry beans were on sale with the discount card for 74 cents per pound. I bought every bag in all three stores, taking home 150 pounds of beans for just under $112. There is no sales tax on food items in my state.

I realize that a lot of preppers would rather grow their own food than stock up on canned goods, especially vegetables, but why do these two conditions have to be mutually exclusive? I think of my stock of canned goods as the "bridge" that will help sustain me and my family until I am able to grow enough food to feed my family on my own. Since when is having hundreds of cans of items you eat anyway ever a bad thing?

Now, as far as what canned goods I buy, I'm a bit picky, wanting to get the maximum nutrition for my money. So about the only canned vegetables I buy are the ones with the highest nutritional content for the money, primarily tomatoes and other tomato products, carrots, and spinach or other greens. Green beans and corn are popular with most people, but they provide little more than "bulk" and don't really give you much nutritional bang for your buck. It would be wise to consider not just taste but nutrition as well in what you're stocking up. - Chad S.

As someone who has taken multiple week-long backpacking trips in the Rocky Mountains, I noticed a couple of things in this article that I would like to address.  The first is the author's advice on mountain shelters.  First of all, if you do decide to pick a cave for shelter please be aware that mountain lions are plentiful in the mountains and one may have already decided to make that cave its home.  I have literally walked within feet of a mountain line that was laying in its den in the middle of the day, a very unnerving experience.  Additionally, Sarah also advises descending to a valley to build shelter.  While it is advise-able to shelter below tree line, valleys are not good.  Cold air sinks and warm air rises.  The creeks that often flow through mountain valleys are fed by snow runoff and are literally ice cold.  Therefore, the valley floor is going to  be substantially cooler than the areas above them.  My wife and I camped at the  bottom of a valley one night in mid-July and awoke in the morning with and ice-covered tent.  Make your shelter on a hillside and pay attention to where the sun will strike as it rises in the morning, you want to be in that early morning sunshine, you will be substantially warmer.    

Next I would like to address the food issue.  Sarah recommended Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).  While they may be good for around the house, I would not recommend caring too many MREs on your back.  They are heavy and bulky compared to other options.  If you want to be prepared for a couple of days, trail mix and chocolate will suffice.  If you want to be prepared for a week or better of walking, I would recommend freeze-dried meals, (I prefer Mountain House).  They are much lighter and more compact than MREs.  All you would need to prepare and eat is something to boil water in and a spoon or spork.  Water can be boiled over a fire or you could bring a small camp stove and a canister of pre-mixed fuel. You would still be carrying less weight than with all of those MREs, and when caring a backpack through the mountains, every ounce counts, both for comfort and speed.    

Lastly, all of the methods of water purification suggested by the author have one major drawback, time.  Iodine tablets take hours to work, and the other methods take a full day to provide anything substantial.  Ultraviolet (UV) light water sterilizers are small, lightweight, and can be had for around $70.  It takes about two minutes to sterilize a liter of fairly clear water.  I suggest carrying one as a primary means of water purification.  I also carry iodine tablets as a backup should my UV sterilizer ever fail.  Steri-Pen and MSR (Miox) both make a quality product.    

On the subject of tinder, the best tender that I have found is a cotton ball that has been rolled in petroleum jelly (Vaseline).  It is not waterproof, so I carry mine in a Ziploc bag.  They are easy to light and will burn for about 5 minutes, giving you plenty of time to start a fire. - Jason M.

I predicted seeing ads once the base metal value of nickels hit two times their face value ("2X face"), but not this soon: BoxOfNickels.com. I'm confident that you can expect to see more such nickel entrepreneurs in the near future--especially once the base metal value exceeds 1.5 times face value. (7.5 cents for a nickel.)

Speaking of changing valuations (in this case, deflation), have you seen the chart showing the change Bitcoin values in the past three months? It now takes more than $15 USD to buy one BTC and in a brief spike the rate got up past $30.

Sue C. sent us this: Greek Default Is Inevitable

CNN Poll: Obama approval rating drops as fears of depression rise. (Half of Americans now fear another Great Depression.)

G.G. flagged this: Second-Mortgage Misery Nearly 40% Who Borrowed Against Homes Are Underwater

Items from The Economatrix:

Our Economic Future:  From Best To Worst Case

The Federal Reserve is Playing an Inflation Game

Worries Grow That US Could Default On Debt

Getting the Economic Fundamentals Right

US Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Rose Last Week

Washington residents warned of 'bloodthirsty' dog pack

   o o o

Reader K.A.F. mentioned Quizlet, a web site with free downloadable flash cards and a study games. Great for homeschoolers!

   o o o

These had me laughing...

   o o o

Courtesy of Kevin S.: Deadly Fungus Strikes Joplin Tornado Survivors, Volunteers

   o o o

I heard that Camping Survival just received a large new supply of Yoder's canned meats, including some canned bacon. They also have canned cheese and butter available. Camping Survival is presently offering a 5% off sale on every order, with coupon code "june2011promo".  They are also offering a free T-shirt on orders of $85 or more. Stock up!

"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." - Rev 22:11-14 (KJV)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.       

The following are some of my thoughts about our planning when it comes to preparing retreat defenses.  Some will work, others maybe not as well, but I intended it to be motivation for SurvivalBlog readers to start thinking about these issues.  This is written mainly from a TEOTWAWKI standpoint and not your typical short term SHTF event.  But some of these concepts apply to both situations.

#1:  The Location Myth

More often than not, our retreats are in a somewhat secluded location.  Rural areas are typically the norm and the further away from built up urban areas the better.  But in a TEOTWAWKI situation, the lines between the two will become blurred as people will escape from urban areas and seek out refuge in rural areas.  Sometimes it will take a couple of days; others will take weeks and maybe even months.  But as supplies start to dwindle in urban areas, you can guarantee people will start looking towards the countryside for additional supplies and places to live.  And suddenly your secluded remote area becomes less likely to stay hidden and on the radar so to speak.

Unless one is staying on a deserted island where there is little chance of unwanted visitors, then everyone’s retreat is at risk of being discovered.  And in that discovery means interest will be placed.  Some may be good, some may be bad, but rest assured, your location will become an area of interest before long no matter where it happens to be.  Some less than others, but your secret will never be entirely safe.

So the myth is about the idea that a retreat is completely secluded and will not be found.  Everything will be found in due time and explored.  As stated before, some will take interest in the location, others will ignore it.  OPSEC plays a key in this (and in item #5) about how well your location might be hidden away, but it will never be entirely concealed.  And in knowing this, you can plan around the limitations. 

Knowing the limitations of location can be a powerful factor in deciding to buy land for a retreat or actually building the structure itself.  Things to look for:

How far away from the nearest major city or town is this area?

Are there sufficient avenues of escape as well as avenues of approach?

Is the area likely to be developed in the next 5 years?  10 years?  20 years?

Do you have neighbors and how close are they?

Is this in a known location (i.e. bordering a park, right off a major roadway, within sight of a lake/river shore) and easy to find?

How far off the main lines of “drift” is the location?  (Drift is defined as the natural path one would take from point A to point B.  Knowing this, will people inadvertently stumble onto your property because you sit in a valley between two mountains?)

And also, how often is your retreat checked before you bug out?  Is it in an area where theft can and will occur for valuable (or invaluable as people will steal anything) items and long term food storage?  Just because your retreat is away from most populated areas doesn’t mean it cannot be discovered and used without your knowledge.  And also squatters might very well be occupying your retreat before you get there.  How would you deal with that?

I’ve asked some questions, but the overall point is the fact no location (save our imaginary island in the middle of the ocean) is completely out of the way and can be discovered despite our best efforts.  So the myth of a particular location being safer than others is not necessarily true.


#2:  The Manpower Assumption

“I have XX amount of bodies in which to plan my defenses.”  Okay, good idea in theory, but is that taking into account what you actually have right then and there?  For example, you know for a fact you have five families coming to your retreat (let’s just say for argument’s sake it’s a really nice retreat that can sustain all those folks) in the event of TEOTWAWKI.  Now are you certain all five families are going to make it?  So let’s assume they do for a moment and you plan your defenses.  Are you taking into account the sick, lame and injured?  The “I have a migraine and cannot perform today” instances?  The injuries that can and will happen?  Can your defensive plans handle the loss of one or two?  Or maybe half in the event of a cold/flu outbreak that affects most of the group? 

Now let’s assume only three out of the five families made it and add to your manpower.  Are your plans in depth enough to account for the sudden loss of X amount of bodies?  Let’s face it, things can and will happen during a TEOTWAWKI situation that prohibits groups from arriving as they should.  And knowing this, one should take into account the decrease in manpower that will come.  And in preparedness, proper planning is king.

How do you attack these problems? By basing your estimates on knowing who actually will show up.  Start at one family and move up to your maximum number.  Your defenses should take into account a ten percent rule (ten percent of the manpower will be unavailable for duty due to sick/lame/injured) and still be able to function.  In this percentage, round up to the next ten for your real number.  (i.e. Sixteen people capable of performing defensive duties and five are out.  That’s 31%, so round up to 40%.  It’s not an exact science, but should work okay in your situation.)

Plan on removing a selected number of people from the equation and plan your defenses that way instead of going on the assumption everyone will be available for duty as needed.  Plus shift work as you will have to post sentries at night.  Do your plans take this into account?  Nighttime is the enemy and the friend.  It is a friend since a lot of folks will not be using higher technology to plan attacks and gives you a time for rest.  But it is an enemy as it does provide concealment for attackers and confusion on the part of the defenders.  If you are looking at a somewhat well trained adversary (let’s assume they are military trained) and has access to night vision or thermal technology, you are already on the bad side of the equation. 

So before you make plans for the maximum number of bodies available for duty, make plans to remove a selected portion of that number just in case.  As life happens, so will accidents and bodies not show up like they are supposed to.


#3:  The Good Neighbor Myth

“I can depend on my neighbors for help.  They are good people.”

One had to be careful when approaching neighbors in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation as they may have become very wary in those times and may have a shoot first identify later mentality.  Also, those planning on making contact with neighbors and forming a militia in the aftermath of a TEOTWAWKI situation can be in for a surprise as well.  Some folks just won’t go along with the program no matter how well you sell it.  They just don’t want to get involved no matter what.  So in forming a defensive plan for your retreat and even the local area, several factors need to be taken into consideration.

Don’t plan on outside help.  You cannot make defensive arrangements based on the fact X number of families live in the local area and will go along with what you planned for. Sure some will come along, but others will pretty much ignore you and tell you where to get off.  We live in a world of opinionated people and some just feel they will be safer on their own rather than in a group.  Some neighbors cannot be trusted either.  They could have a farm out in the country because they like horses and are your typical sheeple that come around with their hand out.  There are several types one should be wary of and it’s best to get to know them beforehand.

Be careful who you bargain/trade with.  Even bargaining only goes so far in a post TEOTWAWKI situation. So you are a good neighbor and recognize the fact Family X doesn’t have sufficient arms or ammunition to defend their property.  And in knowing more numbers are better than less, you decide to help out.  So you give family X a number of Mosin-Nagant rifles and X amount of ammunition in exchange for being your "sentries" on the outer perimeter. However, when someone comes along and offers them the same deal but with better weapons along with partitioning your land, assets and food storage, which one is harder to choose between? Loyalty among neighbors only goes as far as the next meal. Sure you provide neighbors with enough food for a week. They know it’s coming from somewhere and you have it. They want it and what you think are loyal friends suddenly become your adversaries because someone offered them a better deal.

Some will become friends for life, but human nature means some will be jealous of what you have.  They envy you because you were prepared and they weren't. They despise you because you have what they don't. They see you in a position of regent because you require certain actions in exchange for whatever your barter is. And suddenly it gets lonely at the top. Just because you are generous enough to give them items to survive doesn't mean they won't turn on you at the drop of a hat. Human nature cannot be changed or predicted.

Be wary of making retreat plans with neighbors in mind until it is absolutely certain they will be the best choice to depend on.


#4:  Critical Thinking in Defense

“I don’t need to defend this or that area” or “I have to defend everything” train of thought.  Based on manpower (or the lack thereof) one must consider what is critical and needs defending and what can be sacrificed before mounting a counterattack or successful defense.  In looking over your defenses, think like the opposition.  What areas are critical for my continued survival and have to be defended?  What areas are not so critical and need to be defended as manpower dictates?  What areas are not important enough and I should plan on covering them as a last resort without stretching my manpower out too thin?

The military calls it the CARVER Matrix. They use it to determine what areas are vulnerable and which ones can be lost without losing mission effectiveness.  The acronym stands for Criticality, Accessibility, Recuperability, Vulnerability, Effect and Recognizability.  It uses a numbering system that will aid in the highest level of survival to the lowest.  So let’s look at a makeshift CARVER Matrix and apply is against a long term survival retreat.  I’ll use a water well as an example.

Criticality: Highly critical as survival is dependent on a consistent water source
Accessibility:  The wellhead itself is somewhat easily accessed depending on type
Recuperability:  The well cannot be replaced easily if it is destroyed
Vulnerability:  Highly vulnerable as errant gunfire can damage components
Effect:  High impact on mission accomplishment as one cannot go long without water
Recognizability:  Not as recognizable as other structures

And in using the CARVER Matrix to determine defensive priorities, we can include the water well and nine other items.  These are just ten randomly selected items I grabbed off the top of my head and are not an inclusive list.

And, in sorting the data, we have arranged the defensive priority from highest to the lowest.

Going highest to lowest in terms of survival, the highest number is defended first and the lowest is last.  So our well would be first priority and the avenues of approach the last.  Again, this is something I threw together and is by no means gospel.  But one can see the idea behind the CARVER Matrix and how important it can be in planning defenses of a retreat.  These numbers will change as location changes at your retreat as water is far more valuable in the Southwest than say the Southeast.  Only you can determine what can be lived with or lived without, but at the same time, look at it from the opposition standpoint.  Normally hungry people will ignore a well and go straight for the food.  Or ignore the generator and go for your weapons.  Is electrical power highly critical to your survival or are you off the grid enough to survive without it?  And will that generator run without fuel?  So what is more important?  The generator or the fuel that runs it?

The spreadsheet I put together is assuming the water and ammo supplies will be inside your housing structure which would be defended.  And this is why they are lower on the matrix than the crops in the fields.  Fields are highly accessible which makes them a larger priority.  Lots of folks plan on defending avenues of approach, but forget about the house behind them.  Maintaining a watch on avenues of approach is one thing.  Providing defensive forces to cover an avenue of approach is different.

I would say use the CARVER Matrix as a guide when determining your defenses.  It’s generic enough for anyone to use, but specific enough for individual needs.  But you have to determine what you can and cannot live without before applying it to a retreat setting.


#5:  The Hiding in Plain Sight Myth

Which more or less goes with the location myth but in reality is its own portion.  However, some plan on being low key enough to avoid detection.  But this is a myth as signs of civilization are always apparent to those who look close enough.  Take your bug out cabin in the mountains for example.  You have your cabin and enough land to grow enough crops to live comfortably, water from a well, game animals in the local area that can be harvested, etc.  Nice location, but you want to keep is a secret.  So you go to great extents to conceal the fact it’s being “lived in.”  But there are always telltales of occupation.  Take this for example…

You move into your cabin and the first thing you do is clean the cobwebs from the windows so you can see better.  Maybe sweep the porch, grab that plastic bag that blew in from Lord only knows where and put it in your garbage or bury it, update your woodpile and replace the old tarp on top.  Other than that, you practice good light and litter discipline, good OPSEC and rarely venture outside unless you have to.  But what signs have you left?

Clean windows are a sign of occupation as is a swept porch.  Minor debris and whatnot in a yard is to be expected in an unoccupied location.  The hole you dug up will leave signs for a couple of weeks until the soil settles back down and the minor remains are washed away.  Your newly cut woodpile will leave sawdust and the wood is a different color as it hasn’t been weathered.  Plus there is a distinctive smell of freshly cut wood that lingers.  The tarp is new and not frayed as an unoccupied location might be.  You are also creating a path in the grass and nearby forest pointing to signs of recent activity. 

The point is, no matter what we do to try and hide in plain sight, there is nothing we ever do that cannot hide the fact our retreat is occupied.  You can limit the amount of activity, but there is nothing that can be done to “hide in plain sight.”


#6:  The Technological and Armament Superiority Myth

“I have this doodad that is the best on the market and will always work!” or “My gun is better than your gun because it’s superior!”

Glock lovers unite as this will be the only weapon still firing at D+15 post TEOTWAWKI!  Or so the myth goes and the owners will claim.  “Yeah, my pistol will last forever because it’s a Glock!” or insert firearm of choice here.  Whether it’s a 1911, Glock, Springfield M1A, AKM, tacticool M4gery, Remington 870…weapon type doesn’t matter.  Far too often the reasoning is given for buying said firearm(s) because of the longevity of the design and the parts not breaking.  Now I will give Gaston Glock his due when he created a seriously durable pistol, but it is not the “end all be all” of the pistol world as some will claim.  Same goes for 1911s, Berettas, SIG-Sauers, CZ, Hi-Points or any other pistols that have been or are manufactured today.  Some will last longer than others, but let’s face it; nobody has ever made an unbreakable firearm.  How does this translate into a retreat environment?  Simple, technology and high speed doodads are not going to keep you alive.  They will enhance your efforts to survive, but alone they cannot keep you from getting killed by the ranging hordes.

And in turn, it doesn’t matter about the superiority of your pistol/rifle/shotgun design if you fail to defend your retreat properly and/or do not place the emphasis in the right areas.  You can have 100,000 rounds of Black Hills match ammo for your Springfield M25 White Feather and it does you little good when your retreat is overrun.  The armament superiority myth comes in full force when the discussion of AK vs. AR-15 vs. M1A vs. FAL vs. SKS vs. HK91 vs. Mini-14 comes out.  “My gun is better than your gun, my gun’s better than yours!” (And I bet none of you can read that without having the Ken-L-Ration dog food jingle stuck in your head for at least 10 minutes.)

But anyway, people have a comfortable feeling because they have placed their faith in the ability of their firearms.  The death dealing, super rifle concept still has limitations and we often get wrapped up in the debate of how great it is to ignore the limitations of the system itself.  And ignoring those simple rules of the limitations of the system itself can be disastrous when we need it the most.  Overall, firearms are a mechanical device which falls under the following principles:

  • It can break
  • It will break
  • Fixing it will not be easy
  • These things will happen when Murphy decides it’s best and this is typically when you need it the most

Not to say firearms are not a vital tool in the defense of a retreat, but the lesson to be learned is “don’t get complacent with your system and ignore the limitations of same.”  A good case in point is the military continuing to put iron sights on rifles and not relying completely on scopes.  The scopes these days are pretty reliable, but they can (and will) break, fixing them isn’t easy and too often it happens in the middle of a gunfight.  A whiz bang, super duper precision rifle capable of MOA accuracy at a thousand meters suddenly becomes pretty limited when that high dollar scope breaks and you didn’t buy iron sights.  All firearms have limitations in some form or other.

The same can be said of any technology we use, no matter how primitive it might be.   Now I’m not one of those that thinks we should be back to basics on everything, but we often rely on technology to make our retreats run.  And in that reliance, we have no backups to the critical systems.  Or we lack the knowledge to repair the systems and/or they are too complex to be repaired easily.  We end up placing too much faith in technology and not enough in our brainpower and understanding of the systems needed to survive.  Sure enough, we may know how to fix things, but can we do without them and go back to basics at our retreat?  Do we have the capability to get water when our well breaks?  Is our retreat packed away with the spare parts needed to repair our technology if and when it breaks?  Do we have secondary and alternate systems in place if and when our items break?  Do I need to preposition critical repair items and risk their theft or do I bring them in when I bug out? 

In a retreat setting and in a defensive situation, be wary to not be too reliant on technology to survive.  When planning defenses and security, take technology out of the equation and see how your plans may change.  Technology should enhance your defenses, not replace them.

Overall, I’ve thrown out some questions everyone should be asking themselves when it comes to retreats and retreat security.  Having a well stocked and fortified retreat is the warm safety blanket of most preparedness minded individuals.  It’s a bedrock principle of the survivalist movement and something we all hope to have one day.  But just like our technology and our weapons, a retreat is not without limitations.  But in asking yourself some of the questions I’ve posed here today, you can help limit the problems that might arise.

Mr. Rawles:
Is it too late to invest in precious metals? Do you still recommend Northwest Territorial Mint? In Christ, - Karen F.

JWR Replies: No, it is not too late to invest, but you should watch the market carefully and buy during price dips.

Yes, Northwest Territorial Mint is trustworthy.  But I've heard that they can develop a backlog of several weeks when the precious metals market is in a particularly frantic period.  Summers are typically slow for the precious metals market, so it is a good time to buy, both in terms of price and no worries about lengthy waits for delivery.

As I've stated many time in the past five years, I recommend silver rather than gold for all but the most wealthy investors. (Portability of their holdings might be an issue, since silver is roughly 25 times as heavy and bulky--per dollar invested--than gold.)

This is in response to Deep South Charlie’s comments about the heat in the South. I live in the Deep South, and yes, it is hot, but there are ways to cope. It’s been over 100° F. every day for over a month now, and there has been no rain until recently. But I am not going anywhere. This is my home, and I love it. I believe that the benefits of living in the South far outweigh the drawbacks.

First off, there are ways to deal with the heat. People have done it for thousands of years. In the absence of air-conditioning, your body will adjust to the heat. It’s the in-and-out-of-the-cold that messes with your body’s temperature. Drinking lots of water is essential and it also help to use watered down lemon juice as an energy drink. It is very important to stay in shape and exercise a lot. Working in the heat helps with that. I have found that doing some basic Yoga exercises also help, though being a Christian, I just call them exercises, since I believe that God created those exercises for me to use to stay healthy. It carries oxygen to my joints and muscles, which increases my energy and endurance. And, when working in the heat, you learn to know when to stop. The old timers used to use the hot afternoons to either take a nap or a swim in the creek. The Mexicans call it a Siesta. It is helpful to keep your head covered in the heat, to keep the sun from beating down on you. I use an old fashioned light-weight cotton bonnet. My husband uses a baseball cap, but a lot of guys use a cowboy hat. I wear long-sleeved light-weight cotton shirts and skirts.

Down here, we endure the heat, but are petrified of the cold (really!). When it gets down to 40° F., nobody goes outside. Thankfully, winter is only about a month long. Up North, the summers are milder, but the winters are brutal. We have enough wood fall naturally from trees (branches, etc), to keep us warm in our short winter, if we were heating with wood, which we will if need be. Up North, I guess that the majority of the population isn’t prepared for hard times or natural disasters. Down here, since we live in a perpetually economically depressed area and in a hurricane zone, most people live prepared. We don’t worry about it, since it’s how we live. Us country folk know how to deal with it. We depend on each other and work together. Our family wasn’t “preppers” when Katrina came through, but we hooked up the generator, opened some jars of food and went right on like usual. Here, the lights go out every couple of days, so our oil lamps stay handy.
Crops sometimes don’t make it. That’s why, when I am saving my seed, I save much more than I would ever need for the next 2 or more years. I never know when a crop won’t make it. Of course, here, we have three growing seasons: two long summer seasons and one cold season (for greens and strawberries). Whatever area you are living in, you have to learn what will grow there. Corn has to be started early here, and if it doesn’t make it, you have to wait until next year. But beans, peas, okra, tomatoes, and peppers, will all grow whenever. If one crop dies, you replant with some of your spare seeds. Always plan for some crop to fail, because they will. Always preserve way more than you need for at least 2 years. I have found that mulching is extremely beneficial for small crops, like okra, peppers and tomatoes. It prevents erosion and evaporation; it also provides a home for beneficial bugs like ground spiders. It is always helpful to grow vegetables and fruits that do well in your area. My okra, for example, is loving this heat.

Since most people in this area plant a massive garden, there is always extra food to give away. It is very important to share whatever excess you have. People will share with you, so it's really good to throw back into the pot. People start to notice if someone is a hoarder that doesn't share anything, but takes from the pot.
It is also a good idea to plant some bushes and trees and vines that are a more permanent food growing source. Our apple and pear trees are producing tons of fruit, and our blueberry bushes are usually loaded. Grapes love the hot, dry weather, since they hate having "wet feet".

It also helps to be very observant of what naturally grows in your area. Observe the animals, and how they cope with the heat. Observe the bugs, how they interact, and how nature keeps in balance the good bugs and the bad. Observe the weeds. Learn which weeds are edible, and how to use them. The basic purpose of weeds is provide a ground cover to prevent the sun from leeching out the nutrients in the soil.  Here in the South, we are abundantly blessed with bugs and weeds. Some year, weeds may be the only thing we can grow, so we may need them. At least here, I have observed that the natural plants often have the nutrients we need to endure the weather conditions. Example: We have a weed here called a “Mock Orange”. It grows prolifically (one of the weeds we are “abundantly blessed with”). It has big long spurs that will poke out your eye if you aren’t careful. These mock oranges are edible, and I will use them if I need to. For now, we try to not let them spread, since they are such a nuisance.

I can’t tell you about how to live up North. I have never done it and do not want to try. I can’t imagine how you Yankees ever get it all done in such a short growing season. I love being able to take all summer to get my garden planted if need be. If it doesn’t get planted one day, I’ll work on it the next. There’s plenty of time.
So anyway, Mr. Charlie, I love living in the South. I love the things I can grow. It just takes some patience, but the heat is teaching me that. - Anita R.


As an old Boy Scout I appreciate you admonishment to be prepared.  Too many folks forget that they are terribly independent on others and fail to care for their own needs. I like the gents comments on the penny wall as it would also make a great thermal mass.    

FYI, our current temp is 103 degrees F with about 5% humidity.  Its 1450 local time.  Bare ground is about 140 F.  

Anyway, there was an article posted about acclimatizing to southern heat, which is more oppressing than anything in the deserts or dryer parts of the US. To lessen the heat issue in the dryer US a technique to consider is “ night radiant cooling .”   It is generally explained at the Cedar Mountain Solar site and at Wikipedia. The concept may be useful to folks designing retreats or homes.  The folks responsible for this site have actually done practical research on the topic.  

Perhaps the aforementioned links may help some folks.   Thanks for the blog!   J. in Carlsbad, NM


Greetings and Thanks, Mr. Rawles,
Reading Deep South Charlie 's letter brought back memories of the stifling heat that Hurricane Katrina Survivors experienced after the storm passed. In our area the electricity went out several minutes into the storm, and remained down for 2 weeks. This was actually a short time compared to what people were saying was going to happen. Rumors had it that we would not have electricity for several months. My husband and I live in an old, farm house in a rural part of Mississippi that has plenty of windows, but they are not all screened, nor do all of them open. Before the storm, I had purchased some sliding window screens that adjust to fit different size window widths, and in the Spring and Fall, I would use them in the windows to open up the house. I love the feel of a cool breeze, especially at night. These turned out to be very handy to have after the storm. Although, there wasn't much of a breeze, it was better than having the windows shut. After the storm passed, it left behind a strange vacuum - no birds, no breeze. But the stifling, humid, heat remained constant. My brother (who had evacuated from Louisiana) and I had to make do.

I had a screen door on the front of the house, but no screen door for the back, as it is an odd size door, and would have to be custom made (expensive). Luckily, I had some mosquito netting that I was able to  drape over a dowel, securing with safety pins, and hung over the door. Other folks in the area were smart enough to have generators, and were able to run fans, and small air conditioners. In order to sleep at night, I would fill sandwich size plastic bags, and my "hot"water bottle with ice, and place them next to me in order to get cool enough to sleep. This "luxury" was only possible because the military dispensed bags of ice each day at different locations throughout the storm's path. My brother and I would leave every morning, after basic chores were done, (and there were many extra) to go and get a bag or 2 of ice. We would come straight home with it and repack the ice chest that I had in my bath tub. Each time I drained the ice chest, I kept the water, because we had no electricity to run our water pump, and at that time, city water was not available.  Before the storm, I had filled (3) 50 gallon plastic barrels (and several other plastic tubs) with water. I had placed the barrels all near a shed in our pasture, thinking that they would be easy to get to there. Well, luck would have it that a huge pecan tree fell on top of the barrels, smashing one and making the other two impossible to reach. So, the water I had stored was of no use. Fortunately, I had an extra barrel and a kind neighbor with a generator who allowed me to fill it twice, and that's how I was able to water my three horses.  Anyway, because of the ice that the military provided, and the kindness of my neighbor, we were able to survive. Looking back, I guess I should have filled more barrels, and not have stored them all in the same spot, which brings to mind our dilemma...

After Hurricane Katrina (in 2005), there were predictions that we could expect hurricanes of this magnitude for the next 10 years due to El Niña. Determined not to go through any more hurricanes that Winter, we purchased 50 acres in Colorado between Canon City and Westcliffe. We chose this particular property because it had a lot of usable land, with many areas of grassy meadows for our horses to graze. It was also fairly remote, but not so remote that we couldn't be part of a community, or be trapped indefinitely with no way out, should heavy snows come. There is an old, hand - hewn log cabin there that might be able to be restored to a livable condition. Electricity is also at the property, which is a plus. To make a long story short, in the end, we chickened out of moving there because of the costs to build a small house, and barn for our horses. We also didn't have four wheel drive vehicles which are required for the terrain. Even though we changed our minds about moving, we kept the property. We eventually decided to make it our summer retreat.

In 2008, we had a water well drilled, and it turned out to be a financial hardship for us. The first well caved in, and a second well was drilled nearby that required an all steel casing, which ended up costing twice as much as the original quoted price. We had to take out a second mortgage on our home to cover the extra costs. We recently found out that this may have been a scam that a particular drilling company (now going bankrupt) was practicing. We will never know, and at this point, we can only hope that we have a good well.

Also, in 2008, after the economy tanked, and I found SurvivalBlog, my husband (begrudgingly, at first) and I began making some changes in preparation for hard times. I have put in various fruit trees and berry bushes, and recently some raised beds. We compost all of our kitchen scraps, old hay, and horse manure. We have some long term food storage items (beans, rice, red and white winter wheat), and  many canned goods. I am building a gardening and survival library, and have purchased several good gardening tools. We also bought a Mossberg shotgun and a Ruger .22 handgun (although I don't know much about shooting them). Financially, we are paying off some credit card debt, and we purchased some junk silver for bartering. Compared with many, we are just getting started with prepping.

In any case, we live with an uneasy feeling that maybe we should not stay here in southern Mississippi. As Deep South Charlie described, the heat and humidity in this area may just be unbearable without air conditioning (should the grid go down). Mississippi was not on your list of chosen states to pick for retreats (although Louisiana was, and I have often wondered about that). Besides the brutal heat and humidity, we also have the yearly anxiety of the hurricane season, and who knows what the end results of the gulf oil spill will be. I also don't know what to think about moving to our property in Eastern Colorado, as it is not included in the Redoubt states (but almost was). My husband and I are in our 50s. My husband's mother, who lives in a small cottage next door to us is in her 80s. Would it be wise to move and start over, or just stay put? Should we decide to move to one of the Redoubt states, could we even sell our property here, or the one in Colorado, or is it just a bit too late?

Thanks so much for providing such a wealth of knowledge, and your great willingness to share. - S. in Mississippi

JWR Replies: I believe that our economy is in a "slow slide", and that we will experience several years of continued economic deterioration before it becomes impossible to relocate. In the depths of the coming Depression, prices will be galloping and the big cities will become incredibly inimical environments. My advice is to kneel down for some concerted prayer. If you then feel convicted to move to one of the American Redoubt states, then don't hesitate. Find a church home, find work, and MOVE! There may not be a "next summer" window of opportunity.

Some Trivia: "The longest recorded unassisted flight by a chicken was 301-1/2 feet." This leads me to ask: How would one "assist"? Perhaps JATO?

   o o o

More than a dozen readers have sent me this link: China Wants to Construct a 50 Square Mile Self-Sustaining City South of Boise, Idaho. Although the piece is a bit over-blown, the loss of our sovereignty is nonetheless a scary prospect.

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Facebook Knows Your Face: Are Users Too Blasé About New Facial Recognition Feature?

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The Radio Free Redoubt podcasts are continuing, on Sundays. The first broadcast has been archived, and is now available for download. As I mentioned before, this is not my own podcast (so the views expressed do not necessarily reflect my own), but the folks who produce it are stable and well-intentioned. The podcast should provide a great forum for folks who already live in the American Redoubt, and for those that plan to relocate there.

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Scientists: ‘Super’ Wheat To Boost Food Security. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

"The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Blessed [is] the nation whose God [is] the LORD; [and] the people [whom] he hath chosen for his own inheritance." - Psalm 33:11-12 (KJV)

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 a homeschooler, I enjoy reading books about survival techniques. I have to admit that I have never been in trapped in the jungle, stuck on Mount Everest, or lost in the desert (sometimes we homeschoolers do tend to get a little rambunctious and we wish we could just get lost for one day, just to test our knowledge). Nevertheless, I do know of many stories I could tell. But, that’s not why I am writing. I am writing to help homeschoolers (or other people who have some time on their hands) realize that they have an opportunity to prepare themselves. Whether you are planning to hike in the jungle, climb Everest, take a walk in the desert, or even just go on a camp out, you need to be prepared for anything that can happen. I have picked up some practical techniques from reading, talking to friends, and experimenting. Preparation is the key to just about every survival story, so I hope as you read this essay, you will find a few practical things that you can use to prepare yourself and others for whatever may happen.

First let’s talk about the survival kit. It is possible to survive without one, but the methods you must use require a lot of practice. So, save yourself some stress and be prepared! A survival kit can be purchased from various outdoor stores, or you can make one on your own. A basic survival kit should contain: a knife (some knife’s actually have a survival kit inside the sheath or handle of the knife), flint/steel or some sort of fire starter (this is very important), compass, signal mirror, water purification tablets, fishhooks and line, snare wire, and a large plastic bag. There are also many other items that could be added, but these could fit in a very small container. If you decide to buy a bag or something to put all your gear in, be sure to get something that attaches to you. For instance, you might be hiking a steep pass and all of a sudden start to lose your footing and then you fall down a mountain and you are stuck somewhere. Now you need your survival gear, but if it wasn’t attached to you, you probably lost it in the fall. It is also important if you are traveling in a group that everyone in the group has their own personal kit. You never know when you will get separated. Good shoes and clothing are also of the utmost importance, so be sure when you go on that cam pout, or when you go on that hike, think before you set out. This is all part of good preparation!

You should also have a basic home survival kit, in case of a natural disaster, or survival situation. Make sure you have enough water on hand for every person in your house. It is also a good idea to keep some Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) in your home.

Also, make sure that in your home you have some type of fire starter (tinder) ready to be used. It is also very important to keep some tinder with you if you go on a hike, or any kind of adventurous outing. You never know when you may need to start a fire quickly, and it could be a life or death matter! My family has a car survival kit, carried mainly in the winter, but it’s not a bad idea to keep one in there all year round. One of the main things we keep in there is a candle with some matches. Believe it or not, that flame from that candle will keep you, and the people in your car warm!

Before I leave the subject of a survival kit, I want to mention two very important medical books that everyone should have. I personally have read both of these books and they are outstanding! The first is Mosby's Outdoor Emergency Medical Guide by David Manhoff. My copy is spiral bound and has tabs on the ends of the pages to give it a flip chart approach. It is very fast to look up things. It was very profitable when I had to use it for a slight emergency situation! The other book is called Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid by William W. Forgey, MD. This book is amazing! It gives you everything you need to know! It even shows you how to do stitches. This book is a must in every homeschooler’s survival kit. It will allow you to be calm and have confidence in case of an emergency.

Next, let’s talk about water and food. You can live without food for three weeks, but water is more important since you can only live three days without it. Good preparation would be to carry purification tablets with you just in case the need would arise. It is better to not drink water than to drink contaminated water. So, if you did not bring purification tablets with you, you should look for streams or rivers with no dead animals upstream. Look for rivers with lots of rocks on the bottom. Also, always remember that you can always boil water that is questionable, to kill microbes.

Another last ditch method of getting water is making a solar still. First, pick a spot where there is a lot of sun, but where the soil is somewhat damp. Then dig a hole that is about 2 feet deep and 3 feet wide. You can put non-poisonous plants or pour contaminated water around the edges of your hole. Then put a cup, or something to catch the water, in the middle of the hole, but don’t let any un-purified substances get in the cup. Then lastly, cover your hole with a plastic sheet, and put rocks on the ends to keep it from blowing away. Also put a slightly weighted object in the center of the hole (directly above your cup) so there is a slight downward indent in the center of the plastic sheet. After a few hours, you will have some water.

Yet another last ditch method is this: take a plastic trash bag (or any sort of a large bag) and tie it onto a tree branch, with some of the nonpoisonous vegetation inside it. Make sure it is in full sunlight. After a couple of hours you will start to see some water condensing. I found both of these ideas in Les Stroud’s book, titled Survive! which is another good book for homeschoolers to read to help prepare themselves.

Dew and rain water are also generally fine, but rivers will undoubtedly lead to civilization, so, if you find yourself lost, go downhill until you find a river then follow it till you reach civilization.

As for food, MREs are the wisest means of food preparation. It is also wise to bring some vitamins with you if you are planning to trek, or go somewhere where there is a bigger possibility that something could happen. You could also bring energy bars along with you on your hike or whatever. If you do find yourself lost, set some small traps before you go to bed, and also set some improvised fishing poles or logs with hooks hanging down from them into a river. If you think you have food poisoning, you can eat a little bit of charcoal from your campfire and it should help you vomit the poison up. But, as I have already mentioned, you should always have a good supply of MREs with you.

Next, I am going to give you a tip for predicting weather and navigation that you should practice at home to prepare yourself. Since weather plays a factor in everything, here’s one of my favorite tips for predicting weather (and the one that I have found to be most helpful): if you stand with your back to the wind and the high clouds are coming from your right, that means that the weather is likely to get better. If the high clouds are coming from the left, that means that the weather is likely to get worse. If you decide to use this rule in the southern hemisphere then you need to reverse it. It is best to practice this at home, or in a place that you know what the weather is supposed to be. Get comfortable using this you never know when you may have to use it.

Navigation is also another important factor in your fight for survival. You should always be prepared with a compass, but if you do not have one, you can use your watch. This is another one of my favorite tips, but you should practice this. Point the small hour hand toward the sun, and then make an imaginary line between the hour hand and the twelve, this is now your south / north line.

Now, let’s leave these specific things and talk about our fourth key to preparation which is shelter. Let’s say you get lost in the mountains, one of the first things you should do is descend to a valley and pick a good location for a shelter. Caves make a wonderful short-term shelter, while lean-tos or A-frames make a great long term shelter. Good preparation would be to practice building these types of shelters in your back yard before your life depends on it!  Find a survival book and look at pictures and make a lean-to or a-frame. It’s not as hard as it looks!

Next, let’s say that you are camping and you and your buddies want to go on a real hike, and you know that there is a river that you will need to cross. Preparation would be this: put everything that you will carry in your backpack in a plastic bag before you put it in your back pack. This way if you fall in when you are trying to cross the river, all your stuff won’t get wet or ruined! It is also wise when crossing a river to get a long, sturdy stick, to use while crossing. This will give you the tri-pod approach, and it will give you a little more sturdy footing. Also, keep your shoes on while you cross. You don’t want to step on a sharp object.

I have just given you a few tips for preparation that every homeschooler should be familiar with. Let me give you a practical illustration that might help to clarify what I mean by preparation. My family and I were on vacation in North Carolina, and we decided to hike part of Table Rock. The probability that something was going to happen was very, very slim. I knew this but still, before I went I packed my survival kit (which, by the way, goes around my waist, so it attaches to me) and a little bit of water and a little bit of food. I also packed a few medical supplies since I have a bunch of younger siblings and if anything were to happen, I knew probably one of them would get hurt. Well, nothing happened, but, I still was prepared.

Practical Preparation is the key to surviving. Exercising and staying fit is also vital to winning the survival battle. Preparation is a very good habit to get into, and homeschoolers- you can do this!  If you don’t take time to prepare yourself, when disaster strikes you will wish you had! Learning to prepare as a young person will give you confidence that if anything happens, whether you get lost, separated from your trekking group, or a natural disaster strikes, you will be able to keep your head, not panic, and get out of that predicament alive!

Dear JWR:
A few years ago I started food plots for wild game on my ranch.   Since then, I have noticed that the game have returned in greater numbers. The reason is the variety of plants from the seeds sown. One of the plants in this mix is the turnip.  The seed mix allows there to be food from spring to winter, with the turnips being the last food consumed. I find deer, elk and bears eating them first thing in the spring. 

I got an idea from this last year. If turnips grow this well in the wild with no care, and humans consume turnips, what other food would grow with no care and would be a real resource for human consumption? So last spring I planted my regular food plot mix that you can buy at any sporting goods store.  I planted the seeds along the roads on National Forest land on the way to my ranch at three different elevations and added a new plant, one I have never planted before; the lowly potato. I planted them along forest service roads and I was amazed at the results. My food plots at all elevations, (3,300 ft, 5,000 ft, and 6,800 ft) all produced more potatoes and turnips than my family or five families could eat in a year. Also, the potato is not as attractive to bears and wildlife.  They were virtually untouched.  The turnips, on the other hand, were consumed by deer, elk, and bears, so there was some competition for some of the resources planted. This spring I have gone to the store and found some hearty carrot seed, and I am adding this to my private garden along forest service roads.  I am hoping to get a positive result. 

Another discovery I found amazing is that not one human intruder had found, disturbed, or messed with these any of these food plots. They are in plain sight, just not planted in rows, but planted sporadically along the road, creek, or drainage. My only explanation is that the plant's nutritional value is under ground, and how many people know what the tops of a potato plant looks like? 

My goal this year is to see how dry land wheat grows wild at these different elevations. I know it grows well at 6,800 ft, because it is a part of the food plot on my ranch.  This year I have planted a lot of it to see how much could be harvested if one wanted to in the fall, with no human care until harvest time. 

The reason for this experiment is simple. How much food can you grow in the wild, with no care, how much work is involved, and can you produce enough for a family of four for an entire year?   And can you do this in plain sight and get away with it undisturbed? The answer is yes, with no real effort. 

This is a simple plan of insurance in addition to your TEOTWAWKI preps, with no cost but seed, and no labor except planting and harvesting, and nobody knows where your food plots are, except you! Simple and basic.  Of course, this will only work in areas were you can "dry farm" like in portions of the American Redoubt.  - M.O.

JWR Replies: I encourage readers to check into the legalities before planting any crops on public land. You wouldn't want to create a "weed" nightmare that would displace native species!

I have read with great interest articles posted on your blog.  Scott's article was a good read but left me scratching my head.  I am no math whiz but dropping an extra two tons onto a residential second floor seems a little unsafe.  I know Scott did not mention the overall room dimensions or joist sizing, or extra precautions he took, but overall I thought a residential floor is generally rated to a safe load of 40 pounds per square foot.  For a 10'x12' room that would be 4,800 pounds. A box of pennies is 3.25 inches tall, 4 inches wide, and 8.5 inches long.  To get a 10 foot span, 4 feet tall would require 210 boxes (14 boxes long and 15 boxes high).  At 20 pounds a box, that is 4,200 pounds.  I will assume some other things go into the room like a bed, dresser, clothes, not to mention Scott.  The remaining 600 pounds of safe live load can be eaten up fairly quickly and I would suspect it to be much greater than 600.  All this and the pennies are only on the short wall.  When he rounds the bend for the 12 footer he will be adding an additional 5,100 pounds.  At that point, not only will the safe load be exceeded, but the theoretical load might be as well.  Scott's second floor could end up on the first floor. 

Another consideration is "shear" because all of the weight is being put along the wall edges.  All in all, I would suggest [consulting a structural engineer and] a little beef-up to the structure before adding all that weight to a room.  Scott seems to be quite advanced at keeping safe so I am sure he will dot his "i"s and cross his "t"s before loading up.  I hope his doesn't have to lug all those pennies back downstairs.   - G.L. in D.C. 

In reference to the recent piece about multiple uses of pennies versus nickels, I just wanted to add one more reason to invest in pre-1981 [1 cent piece] pennies versus [5 cent piece] nickels which you could use as academic research for your books: shaped charge backings. Ideally, the nickel is a better investment, but a diversification between the two would provide materials that may be needed and in short supply. - Skip R.

JWR Replies: The density of copper and nickel are very close to each other. (Copper is .323 pounds per cubic inch, while nickel is .309)  So they would have essentially comparable utility in making shaped charge backings. Copper only has a slight advantage.

It is more important note that the melting point of copper is 1,981° (Fahrenheit) and nickel is 2,646°. So I can see the utility of keeping plenty of older pennies around, for lost-wax casting.  But my advice on that use is of course hypothetical, since it is currently illegal to melt pennies and nickels for profit in the U.S., and illegal to export them in bulk. I expect that this law will be repealed, once nickels of a new composition (probably stainless steel) reach wide circulation.

Gresham's Law dictates that the new (debased) coins will drive the old (genuine) coins out of circulation. I predict that once the base metal value of a current composition nickel hits twice it face value ("2X face"), they will disappear from circulation within a year. Presently, I estimate less than 1/10th of 1% of the U.S. population is actively saving nickels. But just wait until 20% of the population does so. Poof! They will be gone, seemingly overnight.

Weeds increasingly immune to herbicides. (Merci to Pierre M. for the link.)

   o o o

Kevin S. flagged this: How Healthy is Rabbit Meat?

   o o o

Alex H. sent: Voice of America operator plans "sunset" for shortwave radio broadcasts

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Seed for Security has announced a new bonus gift offer. For a limited time, everyone placing an order over $45 will receive a three page Seed Saving Guide full of practical step-by-step instructions. It has sections with details on gathering seed from Corn, Beans and Peas, Winter Squash, Pumpkins, Spinach, Tomatoes, Dill, Beets, Cabbage, and more. They will also include six free mylar-coated poly seed storage bags (6" x 8"), so you can try your hand at saving precious seeds.

"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer." - Bruce Lee

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 prepping for about five years now, and I thought I'd share a little “trick” I discovered, to cover three very important prepping problems, all at once.

We all want a more secure home, of course.  If the SHTF, we may well need to hunker down and be self-sufficient for a while.  But no matter how much stuff we've put aside, it's meaningless if we can't hang on to it.  So home security is very important.

We also want a hedge against inflation, which seems sure to come.  The way the Fed is printing money, and the government is deficit spending, I suspect high inflation is the best we can hope for.  Hyper-inflation seems a genuine risk at this point.

Finally, we all need cash on hand for the trouble head.  That could be vital to buying some scarce item you have forgotten to tuck away.  Or in an economic crash, you may be able to pick up great treasures for bargain prices.  (We've all heard how hungry people would trade cars for food during the Depression, because they had no money.)

I have found a great way to kill all three of these birds with a single stone.

You've been reading about pre-1981 pennies, and how they are worth about 3 cents each.  That's a great return on your investment, but it's a lot of work to sort out the 95% copper pennies, from the trash they make today.  Then you have to run the trash pennies back to the bank, and get some more to sort.  Hard work for you, and unhappy bank staff.

They do make little machines for sorting the pennies – I see them for sale on eBay -- which rely on the weight difference to identify pre-1981 pennies.  It seems easy enough to make one, but that's still a lot of unwrapping and wrapping of pennies!

I also worry about my home being vulnerable to armed attack.  I live about 1 mile from the edge of a medium size town.  I won't be the first place trouble comes if the SHTF, but it won't ignore me forever if things really fall apart.

In anticipation of just that kind of trouble, I have purchased heavy fishing netting, 12 feet wide by 150 feet long.  I have cut this netting to size, so that folded over at the top and bottom, the pre-cut pieces more than cover each door and window for my ground floor.

I have special hooks ready to go around the outer edges, and can quickly put the netting in place over all the doors and windows.  It will be held firmly against the doors and windows, but with a little bit of give.

You can knock my door right off it's hinges if you want to – it'll just hang right there where it was, held in place by my netting.  You're still not getting in to my house for a long time working against all that secured netting, and all the while I'll be shooting at you, and dropping tear gas cans from the second floor. 

My windows also have shatter-proof film on them as well, purchased on eBay, and are ready for the netting should the SHTF.   Even if you eventually pound your way through those security-filmed windows with a sledgehammer, the nets will keep you out for a long time.

The nets will still let all the light in, and a nice breeze when the windows are open, but they won't be obvious from the outside, like heave bars would be.  Important for OPSEC.

So I believe I can make it very hard for trouble to get into my house quickly, especially while I shoot at it.  But even when I make the doors and windows nearly “impregnable,” I still have to worry about all the bullets flying thru my walls.  If they shoot me thru the walls, it won't really matter that they couldn't get in to my house first.

And with the coming troubles, I also want some serious cash liquidity.

I want to have cash for when the banks don't open, and the ATMs are down.  That could be from an EMP, a solar storm, or overseas cyber attack.  Or just a general economic melt-down.  Regardless of the cause, cash money will dry up fast, and checks and credit cards likely won't work.

I also want money on hand for crazy buying opportunities in the depths of an economic melt down.  You just gotta keep some cash around, if the SHTF!

I've already got my “beans, bullets and Band-Aids” of course.  Those come first.  I have 6+ tons of food in drums and buckets, and 30,000 rounds of ammo.  Water filters, batteries, and a hundred other little things I don't want to do without.  Silver and gold as well.  So I can afford to move on to the rest of my concerns.

Starting about a year ago, I began buying “boxes” of pennies from my bank.  Not loose bags, but standard sealed bank boxes holding rolled pennies.  I get four boxes each week – they expect it and order them for me each week.  These boxes cost me $25 each [their face value], for a total of $100.

I don't open the boxes.  I stack them along the outside walls of my upstairs bedrooms.  When they reach four feet high, I start a new row.  I have covered all the walls up to four feet high along the back side of my second floor.  It took about 200 boxes, or $5,000.  Now I'm starting on the front bedroom walls, which are brick covered outside, so they are already more ballistically secure.

So what have I achieved with this crazy little practice (other than building my biceps carrying all those 20 pound boxes of coins from the bank to my second floor)?

First, my upstairs bedroom walls are now basically bullet proof.  Sure, a shell from a tank will blow them a way.  But nothing I'm likely to face will go thru my siding, wall boards, and then boxes of pennies.  No AK-47 or AR-15 round will get through all that.  I've tested it!  Anyone shooting from the ground, up at an angle, won't be able to hit anyone who isn't poking their head up to shoot back at them.

Now my walls provide actual cover, not just concealment, and all my windows provide great protected shooting areas.  I have a cadre of 12 friends coming to my place if TSHTF – that's why I have three years worth of food and ammo for 14 people -- so we'll have the manpower to shoot back at trouble.  I have barbed wire and razor wire to slow the trouble down.  I just don't want the bad guys to be able to simply shoot the walls, and hit us.  With my penny barriers, that's not a problem now.

Second, I've turned $5,000 of “worthless” paper, into $7,500+ worth of copper investment.  How?

Well, from what all the coin-sorters out there write in blogs, at least 25 out of every hundred of my stacked pennies are pre-1981 copper pennies, worth about 3 cents each.  That means that, out of every $100 face value, I have $75 in copper, and $75 in current junk pennies.  If the ratio is more like 1/3 pre-1981 copper, then every $25 box of pennies is already worth $40 the day I buy it.  It's like printing money!

I could sort them now, so I know the exact number of old pennies I have, but why bother?  If I just leave them in the boxes, I have an armor plated house.  And the pre-1981 pennies are just waiting there for when they are worth much more than 3 cents each.  There will be time enough for sorting after the world settles down again.

Third, by doing this I have also stashed away lots of cash money, for a rainy day.  In the bank, the government or creditors could get at it.  If I tuck paper bills under my mattress, thieves could steal it.  Just try stealing my wall of pennies!  (You'll need a serious truck to handle the 5 tons they weigh.)  No matter how tough things get, I'll always have $10,000 (eventually) stacked along my walls, for emergencies.

Another advantage of coins over paper money will often appear during hyperinflation.  When a country destroys its money – which America is doing today -- and ultimately must create a new, replacement currency, it tends to knock 3-10 zeroes off the end.  They then have people trade in their old paper money for the new paper currency.  Money still in the bank just loses most of it's value, with all those zeroes just disappearing.

But when it comes to coins, the central banks don't want to have to reproduce all those darn coins.  It is literally small change for them.  So they just declare that the old coins are good at the new level, and part of the new currency. 

So your old coin money dodges the devaluation, and jumps right up to the new money value.  They figure it can't amount to much, and for most people it wouldn't.  But for me, it surely would.

And finally, if there is a severe deflation, and copper goes down to pennies for a pound, I'll still have my $10,000.  Just like old junk silver coins, they will always be worth their face value at the very least. The same is true of my pennies.  I expect copper to keep going up in value, and my pennies to outpace inflation.  But if deflation comes, cash will be king.  And I've got a wall of it!

As a final note, those who are still convinced that nickels are the better investment than pennies are welcome to line their walls with boxes of nickels instead.  They will never need to be sorted, and will block bullets just as well.  They cover a lot less wall, though, per dollar, so instead of spending $10,000, I would have to buy more like $45,000 in nickels.  If you actually want that much money in cash, then nickels would be the better choice, since they would take up less space.

But if you really just want to line your walls with bullet-proof cash, and tuck away lots of copper at less than the spot price, then buy boxes of pennies and start stacking them up. - Scott in Wisconsin

JWR Adds: Despite the drawbacks (namely space and weight), the strategy that Scott outlines has its merits. However, my approach is to stockpile nickels rather than pennies. Unlike pennies, there is presently just one composition of nickels in circulation. They are 75% copper and 25% nickel. Although their base metal fluctuates there is no "sorting" factor. (The composition hast not changed since 1946. (It is the same in 2011 as it was in 1946. ) The dollar density of nickels is also higher, so there is less weight and space for each $1,000 invested. (So yes, getting the same volume for a defensive wall of boxes or ammo cans filled with nickels will cost you several times more than with pennies. But if your primary goal is ballistic protection mass, then sandbags are much less expensive than boxes of pennies. When I last checked over at the Coinflation.com web site, a nickel minted from 1946 to present was worth $0.0620596. That is 124% of face value. So that represents a 24% gain, just walking out the door of the bank.

If and when the time ever comes to liquidate your holdings of nickels, it will be far, far easier to sell nickels, where 99.99% of the rolls are all the same composition. (The only exception are the 1942-1945 "War Nickels, which are 35% silver. Each of those nickels is worth about $2.15 each! So that is just a nice bonus, if you ever developed a machine that could sort them.) Compare that to currently-circulating pennies, where you can encounter a wide range of ratios in rolls of newer (zinc) to older (copper) pennies. When you buy boxes of pennies for the bank, some of them might even be boxes of all new pennies. (All copper-flashed zinc tokens.)

I advise stocking up on nickels now, before their composition is changed!

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for your service to our country.  In the deep south we are presently in the mist of a drought with high heat and humidity. As two-year preppers, my brother and I grow a few acres of vegetables and field corn for livestock that consist of chickens, hogs, milk goats and rabbits. A milk cow is in the planning. My brother is 71 and I am 68 and we were raised on the farm. I left for the air-conditioned work-force many years ago but still spend several hrs a week at manual labor. At my age I am in better physical condition and have greater rural knowledge than a very high percentage of people over the age of fifty. That said, I can only work four hours or so in the mornings before running out of gas. In a world without electricity, this means starvation. The drought has fried our crops and if we were depending on them to survive, we would be in trouble. (Watering crops without electrical pumps is only available to a few with spring fed creeks.) My point in writing is on preparing to survive without air-conditioning.      

First, relocate to a cooler climate. (To the Redoubt States in the Rockies.)    

Second, keep yourself hydrated at all times.   

Third,  get your body in shape by working out inside or outside early in the morning. (Only with a buddy in summer).     

Fourth, be very careful when out in the heat but try sitting in the shade for a few minutes each day to become acclimated to the stress of high temps. Start with a few minutes and work up to an hour. Read a book. If at any time you feel ill or 'light-headed' go inside.     

Fifth, if you are overweight, please slim down.    

Sixth, whatever you think you are capable of doing in a world with no air conditioning, reduce it by 80% and then see if you can survive.      

By no means am I an expert, but given the condition, health, and mind set of most people, I believe we will have a human disaster the first summer without air-conditioning in the south. I know some older folks will say, like me, they grew up without air conditioning but that was with a different body and frame of mind. Most homes built in the south in the last fifty years were designed for air conditioning and become death traps without it. They do not have screens on windows or screen doors so if you open them you are eaten alive by insects and invite unwanted two-legged villains.

FWIW, I have purchased rolls of screen wire, not the plastic type, for eventual barter). 

I know this doesn't do justice to the subject of heat, but if you live in the south and have a family, consider moving. Odds are, if you stay, you aren't going to make it [in a grid-down collapse]. Best plan: relocate!  - Deep South Charlie

Thank you for your continuing work.

1. How would you suggest we research micro-climates in areas of interest in the American Redoubt?

2. For those of us in the 50-60 age group, single, and raising grandchildren is there a place for us? I don't believe I have the physical strength/endurance and certainly not knowledge to forge out a place in the "wilderness" at this age. How about the possibility of teaming up with a family who needs a "grandma" and extra pair of hands to help with domestic/garden duties?

Yes, I do have skills I could make a living most likely as long as there is high speed internet access. But would prefer not to rely on its existence if I could.

May I suggest that you add a FAQ on the American Redoubt Page?

The Lord's Blessings on you and your family. - Maggie B.

JWR Replies: The old saying is: "Climate is what you expect, and weather is what you get."

To start your research, see:

The widely-cited Climate zones map (from the publishers of Sunset magazine.)

Microclimates ("In the real world, we garden in micro-climates, not hardiness zones.")

Western Regional Climate Center (and drill down to the wealth of information here: Historical Climate Information)

Climate Maps

Current temperatures

Climate Central

Precipitation Maps

Wind velocity map

Gardening in the Inland Northwest

Be sure to also look at soil maps

Then, moving down to the state and local level, see:

Washington climate data

Introduction to short-season gardening in Idaho

Western Montana

Cold Climate Gardening - how we do it here in Wyoming

Gardening in Eastern Washington

Oregon Gardening

After you do your basic research at the state level, it is best to check with the NRCS extension office in each of the counties that you are considering, for their insights on microclimates.

Mister Rawles;
Someone recently mentioned that some people buy too much stuff with coupons that they can't possibly use up.  Also there was someone who usually buys "cheap" products like V05 shampoo, etc.  I have been couponing for four years.  My husband is a pastor and we took a lesser-paying church about the time the economy went South.  Then we added a family member.  I prayed and asked the Lord what to do.  We were spending $500-to-$600 each month on groceries with me trying to buy less expensive stuff, cheaper cuts of meat, etc.  I have always lived a frugal life.

The Lord helped me.  I met a lady having a "grocery garage sale".  She gave me two pieces of advice.  Check out couponmom.com and combine coupons with sales and rebates. I was using coupons at Wal-mart with little results.  But when I started reading the info on couponmom.com, it changed our financial life.

That site and many more will show you how to match the coupons in the Sun. paper with the sales and rebates that week.  You must do your homework about each stores coupon rules.  The pharmacies are the best places to shop.  CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid are the ones in my town.  They all have a "rebate" system.  My local CVS pharmacy will double coupons that are 50 cents or less.  If you can combine sales, with your coupon on an item that has a store "rebate" or even a manufacturer rebate, many times it is free or very inexpensive. Sometimes if the coupon goes over the amount of the sale price minus the rebate, you actually profit.

Again, you must do your homework on the store policies.  Ingles is a great grocery store.  They double coupons.  Also, if you have to bring an item back because it was overpriced, they will give you your money back.  It' free.

All of this can be very confusing, but God can help you learn like He did me.  I always pray before I leave the house that He will guide me in the decisions I make, to not let me make mistakes, and to show me what to do. 

Be very careful filling out manufacturer rebates to ensure each thing they ask for is done and on time.  The store rebates are easier.  But you must be sure to use of these "vouchers", etc. or they will expire.  The way I do it is to paper clip them and keep them in my purse so that I never forget them at home. Most cashiers are gracious to you if you are nice to them on a weekly basis.  Build a relationship with them.  Do your homework.  Don't give them expired coupons.  Ask for help when you aren't sure of something.  Get rain checks if they are sold out of stock. Most stores will allow you to come right back in and correct a mistake.  One time in the beginning, I forgot to use my coupons and it was a lot of difference in price.  So, I humbly asked the cashier if we could do anything.  She graciously let me "fix" it. Always check your receipt before you leave the store. It can be confusing at first, it does take some time.  Now I go to three pharmacies each week in about 2 to 2-1/2 hours.  Combine that with my weekly trip to Ingles and I save about half on my grocery bill.

One more thing, all that overage you end up buying - sell it on occasion at a yard sale. Charge less than Wal-Mart.  Make sure nothing is expired.  Medicines run out fast.  It helps you and the people who don't know what you know. Blessings, - Georgia Girl

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read your blog regularly and especially enjoy the links to news stories that truly matter.  I don’t generally contribute, but I felt the need to share my couponing success after the mixed reviews of couponing as a stockpiling strategy.  I have been couponing since way before it was trendy.  I have seen the TLC coupon show (once). I cook from scratch for my family and many others, and as a homeschooling single-income family we do everything on a budget.

In my experience, the TLC show is unrealistic and silly.  Those are truly extraordinary circumstances when they walk away from a store with so much for mere pennies.  Questions have been raised whether the participants are even couponing ethically. Coupon fraud is a crime and I wonder if TLC’s sequel will be “Coupon Junkies” and filmed at a rehab clinic or correctional facility. 

I save around 50% off my total grocery bill with coupons, and not on TV dinners and snack cakes either! It is as much work as a part-time job, you must enjoy bargain hunting, and shopping trips with coupons take hours. I regularly score items including barbeque sauce, razors, shampoo, real meat (not bologna and hot dogs), baby wipes, dog food, cosmetics, detergent, socks and underwear, canning supplies, feminine hygiene products, over the counter meds, pasta, toilet paper, and even organic produce for free or pennies on the dollar and sometimes stores even pay me to walk out with the items.

I contact the manufacturers of the items I like using. Earthbound Farms will send you coupons on their organic produce if you email or call them, including coupons for free products.  Two weeks ago I cashed mine in for two giant clamshell containers of baby mixed greens, saving myself $12 while I awaited my own salad ingredients that had just germinated. Kashi is another company to contact for great coupons on healthier food, or call the 1-800 number on your favorite grocery items’ packaging and ask if they will send you coupons.  You may be surprised by what turns up in your mailbox.

Target is indispensable to my coupon shopping strategy because they offer free printable store coupons on their web site that you can combine with manufacturer’s coupons for the same item.  If the author of the previous letter does not want his $1.50 off a scented candle coupon I will gladly take it.  Twice every year Target pays me fifty cents each to leave with Glade scented candles after store coupon, manufacturer’s coupon, and free gift card offer. I have quite the stash of them despite sharing them with others and giving them as gifts or tucking them in gift baskets. They are just as useful as any other candle in a lights-out situation.

Coupons are hard work, and don’t apply to everything I need to purchase.  They certainly don’t cause me to purchase items I won’t or shouldn’t use unless the item is free and I can donate it.  I also save by buying my wheat and grains at the local grain elevator and grinding them myself, watching dealigg.com for grocery deals on Amazon (they include free shipping and I have added greatly to my coffee, peanut butter, and cereal stashes with some great deals I didn’t have to leave my driveway for), and growing a large garden and preserving things myself.  We have also purchased whole hogs and cattle and paid for processing. If you have the freezer space or desire to jerk and can a ton of meat this can feed your family T-Bones for hamburger prices.  You can also see how your dinner was grown.  I grow my own chickens and eggs for the same reasons.

In closing, there is a difference between stockpiling and hoarding.  If you can honestly and ethically acquire 272 toothbrushes or 98 bottles of mustard, then find a worthy cause and donate some! Sales and coupons run in cycles and you will most likely be able to come by some more. True hoarding is wasteful and selfish. Stockpiling is responsible and prudent and I believe God smiles on us for it and thank Him regularly for making it possible.  I hope my experience can be helpful to others.

Sincerely, - Minnesota Rose

The EU Preppers Blog (mostly in German) has some interesting coverage of the current e. coli outbreak.

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Solar flare threatens to disrupt Earth's communications and power. (J.B.G. kindly sent the link.)

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Peeved patient proud of penny protest. (Thanks to J.J.H. for the link.)

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Frequent content contributor Pierre M. flagged an article from Nanny State California: LAPD seeks tighter regulations on toy guns

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large sent this humorous video clip: Most Tactical AR-15... EVER! (The scary thing is that some well-intentioned Mall Ninjas have their ARs nearly this junked-up.)

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U.N. Agreement Should Have All Gun Owners Up In Arms. (A hat tip to Matt D. for the link.)

"Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times. After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening, on a lucky day, without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena..."  - Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 I live and work in a small city, and do not have a survival retreat to bail out to, over the years I have been giving much thought into how I would get home should an EMP or CME strand me away from home. I have looked at others suggestions such as small backpacks or laptop cases. I have read the debates as to what to wear to blend in while making your way home. I have had a few get home bags (GHBs) that held the things I needed, but I felt that they would look out of place with some of the areas I would have to go through while making my way home, and the clothes that would be invisible in one neighborhood would get noticed in another. What to do?

Then last weekend, while browsing yard sales, I saw something that gave me the best idea yet. The woman was selling off some of her son’s old stuff. A set of motorcycle street leathers, some ice hockey gear, a few karate gis, all in one size larger than I wear. But the things that got my attention, and gave me my idea, were the baseball things. You see, I live in Florida where most outdoor sports are played all year round. I asked the woman why she was selling her sons stuff and she told me that he had moved out of state. After a little haggling, I purchased two button up team jerseys (a company logo that he worked for while in college), a matching warm-up jacket, two hats, a bat, a batting helmet, a glove and an equipment bag, all of which were well broken in. In actuality, the only items I was interested in were the jerseys, the hats and the equipment bag. What could I do with these you ask? Read on.

Picture this, you are a bad guy. The electricity has gone out, your vehicle won’t run, it’s the middle of the afternoon and it’s starting to get hot. You see three separate, middle-aged, slightly overweight guys walking through your territory. The first guy is wearing a polo shirt (untucked) and khakis carrying a laptop case, obviously a business type trying to get home. The second guy is wearing an earthy green shirt (also untucked), dark tan pants and boots carrying a backpack, maybe an older student type? The third guy is wearing a baseball shirt (untucked and unbuttoned) and hat, red clay stained jeans, sneakers and carrying a well used baseball equipment bag slung across his shoulder, obviously he’s been playing/practicing with his company team and is just trying to get home. Now, as the bad guy, what are your thoughts about the three trespassers in your territory? Remember, the power has only been out a short period of time and your do not yet realize that the SHTF. Maybe you think something along these lines.

The first guy appears to be a businessman. Businessmen usually carry plenty of money/credit cards. He’s carrying a laptop case. A laptop case holds a laptop. Laptops are worth money. Businessmen also have expensive cell phones. Beat up the out of shape business man, steal and sell the laptop and cell phone. Buy drugs and/or booze with the money and/or credit cards.
The second guy is possibly an older student. Students usually laptops, textbooks and cell phones. Laptops, textbooks and cell phones are worth money. Beat up the overweight student, steal his stuff, sell the laptop, books and cell phone. Buy drugs and/or booze.

The third guy has obviously been playing baseball. Even though he is overweight, he plays baseball and may be able to put up a fight. Baseball equipment bags usually hold baseball bats, so he probably has a weapon to fight back with. Baseball equipment bags usually contain a glove, some socks, maybe a helmet and maybe a water bottle. No laptop. Maybe he has a cell phone. Maybe he has a few bucks I his pocket. Is the chance that he may have a cell phone or a few dollars worth the risk that he could injure me seriously? No, let’s go get the other two and leave this one alone, it’s just not worth the risk.

Now as someone that is a regular reader here now from the descriptions given, things are not as easy for the bad guy as they first appear. In each case, I have given a description of the three most popular versions of urban camo. Now, let’s take a look at the mistake the bad guy made by trying to tackle each of the “victims.”

“The Businessman.” Of course the biggest clue to the bad guy’s mistake is the untucked polo. This version of urban camo has the “victim” carrying a Glock 23 under the shirt. His get home bag (GHB) contains a folded Kel-Tec Sub-2000 set up for Glock 22 magazines, along with several spare mags, in addition to other survival supplies. He is an Army vet, has attended some firearms training classes. As an easy victim, the bad guy will be in for a rude awakening when he chooses to attack this “soft” target. As for the camo doing its job of making the person blend in, I feel that it would actually make him a more inviting target in certain neighborhoods.

“The Student.” Once again, the untucked shirt is the give-away. In this case, he is carrying the same sidearm. In the backpack, the same Kel-Tec Sub-2000 along with a few more extra mags. There are also a few more survival items.  He is the same guy as the businessman, just a different approach to urban camouflage. I feel that this “student” approach is also not the best approach to urban camo but that it is at least a little bit better.

The biggest difference between the “student” and the “businessman,” is that the “student” appearance is more likely to elicit a “he possibly has” train of thought amongst bad guys, where the “businessman” approach gives the bad guys a “he has” thought process. In either case, the bad guys will more than likely attack the “victims” to obtain what they think will bring them money.
Herein lies the beauty of the “baseball player” camouflage that I have set up.

“The Baseball Player.” Again the clue is the untucked shirt. But in this case, the shirt is also unbuttoned, with the strap from the equipment bag holding the shirt closed against his chest. By having the shirt unbuttoned, it makes it a little bit easier to clear it to draw a weapon, also in this case a Glock 23. The biggest difference is what the GHB contains. In addition to the standard items one would find in a GHB, I have placed a surplus Infantry Fighting Vest, complete with six 30-round PMags, two empty one quart canteens, four Glock 22 mags, and 20 rounds of 12 gauge shells. I also have my AR-15 laid on top of the vest in the main compartment with a full magazine in the mag well. In the compartment where people normally keep their bats, I have a Remington 870 riot gun with a top folding stock and extended mag tube. To keep the pistol grip right up against the zipper, I have placed a small bag with extra socks and t-shirts in it tucked down at the bottom. I have placed padding on the bag carry strap to make it easier to carry long distances, and cut the strap at the middle of my chest and installed a quick release buckle in case I need to drop it quickly. You may be thinking that I do not really need to carry the shotgun with me, but it doesn’t really add that much weight compared to the psychological intimidation it would bring if I were to ever pull it out. My thinking is that during the first few hours of a major of a major catastrophe, most bad guys would not bother the “baseball player” just trying to get home as he would not have much worthwhile on him.

As I write this, this bag is sitting in the trunk of my car, along with a case of water to fill the canteens before abandoning it.  Sitting on top of the bag is a pair of “dirty” sneakers, “dirty” jeans, “dirty” button up jersey, three quarter sleeve Under Armor t-shirt, the warm-up jacket and well worn baseball cap. In order to make everything “dirty,” I took the clean items to a baseball field after a rainstorm and dragged them on the ground a little bit, then hung them up to dry. Once they were dry, I gave them a good whack to knock off the clumps of dirt, the result looks like they were recently played in.

You may wonder how well this would work in real life. Well, let me tell you, it works great. I tested the setup this weekend by having a friend drop me off at work then walking home dressed as described. I used the shortest route possible, which I would not use in a real situation, as it took me through a rough section of town. With two exceptions, I made it home without even speaking to anyone. Both exceptions occurred in the rough section of town. The first was when a police officer stopped and asked if I needed any help. I thanked him and told him I was just getting my exercise on the way home. He said okay and went about his work. The second occasion was when I was passing a house with the owner working out front in her yard. She stopped me and asked if I would like a cold glass of tea, I thanked her and said that I was trying to catch the bus at the stop just down the street, and moved on. It took me a little longer to get home than I thought it would, but nothing happened to speak of. Even the officer did not seem to notice that I was carrying, and I do have a permit. I am glad that I put the padding on the strap before I made this trial run, as I think it would have started bothering me before I made it home.

Is my setup the best possible way to go? It is for me but maybe not for your situation. Are there better ways of setting up this rig? Probably, and I will continue to play with this to see if I can work it better. Mostly I just wanted to get this out there to give others an idea as to how to take something not readily thought of, and turn it into something useful.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I came across this web site: SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey. Its purpose is to allow users to access NRCS and NCSS 1:24,000 scale detailed soil survey data (SSURGO) in many parts of the lower 48 states. Where this data is not yet available, 1:250,000 scale generalized soils data (STATSGO) can be accessed instead. (In Arizona, California, and Nevada only.) An interactive map interface allows for panning and zooming, with highways, streets, and aerial photos to assist navigation.

This could be useful for those considering relocation, as soil make-up and condition should be a consideration for any homestead.

I enjoy the blog, keep up the good work.

Sincerely, - Ezmerelda

JWR Replies: Thank you, thank you! That is an incredibly useful web site. I strongly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers delve into that data, especially via the Google Earth Interface overlay. I was stunned to see that even the very remote Rawles Ranch was included in the 1:24,000 scale soil survey map. The demarcations between soil types was surprisingly accurate. Being able to see it integrated with a Google Earth kmz was sweet icing on the cake! This soil taxonomy data is invaluable in selecting retreat properties! OBTW, you've just earned yourself a $30 Amazon gift certificate as a special SurvivalBlog editor's award.

Mr. Rawles,  
After packing many rolls of nickels in .30 caliber ammo cans, I now use a much quicker storage method. Specifically, I discovered that I can place five cardboard boxes of nickels that I buy from the bank ($500) directly into one 20 mm ammo can. The five cardboard boxes fit perfectly in the can, with no extra room. I can load each can in only 1-2 minutes. The packed cans are heavy (maybe 115-120 pounds), and therefore difficult to move. So I usually position each can where I plan to store it before placing the boxes in it. I bought a bunch of 20 mm cans at a local gun show for $8 each.

Incidentally, I've also found 20 mm ammo cans to be a convenient size for storing bulk ammo that I do not plan to move.  Keep up the good work.  - M. on the East Coast

Here come the CMEs: Sun Unleashes 'Spectacular' & Powerful Eruption. Oh, and speaking of CMEs: NASA's Solar Shield to Protect Power Grids From Sun Storms

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F.J. mentioned this over at Instructables: Paracord Strap Wrap. (That is just one example of the dozens of preparedness-oriented how-to project articles you'll find there.)

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California, the state built on gold prospecting, is set to outlaw ... gold prospecting. (Thanks to G.P. for the link.)

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SurvivalBlog's Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio wrote to give an update on the OC-1 knife that he designed, in collaboration with custom knife maker Brian Wagner. Pat reports: "We were in talks with CRKT to produce a factory version with them. However, the collaboration didn't work out on this design but we are making a new fixed blade fighting knife that CRKT will probably produce, called the OC-2. I don't have a sample in-hand, yet - but hope to in about a month.   In the meantime, the OC-1 can be had in a custom, hand made version from Brian Wagner of Okuden Knives for $350 if any SurvivalBlog readers are interested. Brian doesn't have any in-stock at the moment, but will have some on-hand very soon. So, if any SurvivalBlog readers are interested in owning a custom version of the OC-1 they should contact Brian Wagner at: (253) 906-5306. He will also have photos of the OC-1 available if anyone wants to see what they look like."

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M.M. suggested this interesting albeit biased piece: A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself. (In case you might be wondering: Yes, I'm one of those global warming deniers, and some think I should be tattooed for it.)

"We have states, with 10th Amendments rights, which can be converted into “safe havens”; financially, politically, and socially protected areas of the U.S. where independent citizens can congregate that provide shelter and mutual defense from the chaos that collapse imposes." - Brandon Smith, Editor of Alt-Market

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Today (June 7, 2011) is Book Bomb Day for the new book The Simplicity Primer, by Patrice Lewis. We highly recommended her book. It should be fun to watch the Amazon rankings, as the day progresses. (For comparison, it was ranked around #16,000 on Monday.)


The first article today is a product review written by SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large, Michael Z. Williamson. "Mad Mike" is a renaissance man: He's a science fiction writer, firearms expert, a graphic designer, bladesmith, sport parachutist, martial artist, world traveler, and a historical re-enactor. Mike was Born in Birkenhead, England, but is a naturalized U.S. Citizen and now living in Indiana. He has served many years in the U.S. Air Force, most recently in the Air Force Reserve. This included a deployment to the Middle East. Mike's many interests have kept him very busy, and he now has more than a dozen books and anthologized short stories in print, from four publishers. Most recently, Mike introduced his very popular WWF parody T-Shirt design. You can order yours, directly from Mike. I plan to wear one to public events, just to enjoy watching the Birkenstock Crowd do double takes. (For anyone that might be unfamiliar: Depending on context, "WWF" is an acronym for both World Wildlife Fund and the World Wrestling Federation--later changed to the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)

The PDS is Rock River Arms' entry into the piston AR market.  I've never been enthusiastic about this concept, but Rock River Arms (RRA) put some serious design thought into this weapon, and the results are impressive. Here are some pictures.

Starting at the rear, it has a side-folding stock, because the recoil system isn't in a receiver extension inside it.  This is a significant advantage for transport and carry.  The folder mechanism does take a bit of getting used to.  It requires lifting the stock out of a deep detent.  It locks solidly in place open or closed, and has a 6 position stock.  As the stock tube is not needed for a recoil mechanism, it contains a storage section with a threaded cap, bit enough to take a rod, cleaning tools, and small maintenance tools and spare parts.  This is a big plus for a gun that sees real use.

The two stage proprietary trigger is crisp and reliable.  The test gun broke cleanly at about 6 lbs.  It was very consistent and comfortable.  The major difference on the controls is that the charging handle is a forward type, like the German H&K G3.  It is ambidextrous, non-reciprocating, and folds flat on closing.  It is reliable, but does take a bit of strength to work.  Smaller shooters and females had trouble, but could manage with effort.  The grip is a Hogue model, with good texture.

Takedown starts as with any AR, and once the receiver halves are open, the recoil mechanism is pulled down and out.  This removes the operating rod, bolt carrier and bolt in one unit.  It's elegantly simple.

The receiver top is elevated slightly over standard ARs, because it contains the recoil mechanism.  This puts it at a very comfortable height for most sighting systems—a riser is not needed.  It is a monolithic rail for mounting sequenced optics.

The handguard is a bit odd looking and feeling, but very solidly mounted and useful. There is also an optional railed handguard.

The gas system has two settings, and the operator is cautioned not to use a suppressor with this weapon.  A different gas block is in production for that purpose.  Recoil is somewhat brisker than a gas impingement system due to the greater operating mass, but is not uncomfortable.  The bottom of the gas block includes a 1" rail for accessory mounting.  The gas block is very solidly mounted.  I did not attempt to dismount it to examine it.  Generally, pins are preferred to screws, but as it does not protrude far, and does not mount a bayonet, the heavy construction and machine screws are plenty.

We tested using several brands of ammunition, with an Aimpoint sight mounted, shooting over a sandbag.  All the major commercial brands remained under 2.5" at 100 yards, in 10 shot groups.  Best group was 1.55".  Weather was 50 degrees F, 75% humidity, still air, at approximately 300 feet elevation.  Keep in mind, this was with combat optics and sandbag, not a mounted weapon and scope.

The only stoppage was a double feed, attributed to a bad magazine, as the same problem occurred with another gun with that magazine.  After 500 rounds, the mechanism was clean, and the bore only needed a pull through with a Boresnake for cleaning.  That's certainly a big plus.  The receiver remained cool, and there was very little oil evaporation.

The PDS comes with a magazine, a simple to read instruction manual, and a hard case. MSRP is $1,685 as tested, which makes it only slightly pricier than a high-end standard AR. - Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog Editor at Large.

JWR Adds: It is likely that there will be a shakeout among the many new competing gas piston AR-15 upper designs. Beware that these are proprietary designs, and hence their parts do not interchange. It may take a few years before just two or three technologically superior and market-dominant designs emerge. Other designs--most likely from small makers--will just be a "flash in the pan" that will go out of production. Sadly, I've heard that Walt Langendorfer's excellent Rhino design (patented in 1981 and unquestionably "first to market") is now out of production. As with the famous Betamax versus VHS war (where unfortunately the superior and more compact design lost out) this will leave some owners without any available repair parts. So beware. I anticipate that it will be designs from a few major makers (such as POF-USA, Ruger, and RRA) that will predominate. The HK 416 is a great design, but I suspect that few will of them ever make their way to civilian hands--at least at a reasonable price. The bottom line: If you buy a piston upper, don't sell off your original gas-impingement AR upper. Someday you might need it. And, as Mike mentioned in a recent e-mail "One point to remember is that a gas impingement gun with a damaged gas system becomes a straight pull bolt action rifle.  A piston gun with damage to tube or piston locks up and becomes a very expensive club.  The type of gun you choose is very much a reflection of the environment you may operate in, and your intended purposes."

I just wanted to add a few comments to Y.M.’s extreme couponing prepping article.

Shoppers fall into three categories: 1 ) the busy, unplanned shopper, 2 )  the rookie shopper and 3 ) the Olympian. The busy shopper just runs in the store and buys whatever is there. The rookie saves 10-20% and the Olympian saves about 80-90 %.

I am definitely in the rookie category. I can save 20-40 % by just shopping the front and back page of the store’s weekly circular. Also if  you cook and do not eat out of boxes, you have additional savings. My family always saved by buying sale items in quantity to last us until well past the next time that item goes on sale again. Also eating what is on sale and in season and having a freezer will decrease your food bill.  Good management of your refrigerator and leftovers can save any family 25 %, because that is how much food the average family tosses out from waste. You know those unidentified containers in the back of the refrigerator that turn into another life form from neglect ?

 Deciding to extreme coupon, I searched “matchups”  for the date the Sunday coupons come out. You will find multiple web sites with listings of the various stores  with their sales and the coupons that match from the Sunday inserts and the date of those inserts. It does take time to match these up, and then not get tripped up in the stores ‘s rules. Some stores do not take online printed coupons, others do. Some will not take multiple coupons on an item. Some allow you to load up coupon savings on your store card, but will not allow you to add a manufacturer coupon with it. There maybe a limit on the number of items with coupons that you can ring up on a single transaction.  Rules, rules, rules.

There are savings to be had, but you have to do your homework. The sales and coupons cycle and repeat at varying intervals. It would seem that some items like detergent, diapers and body wash have many opportunities for saving and others are more seasonal.

I found out how much of a rookie I was, when I walked my grocery aisle for soaps and shampoos and ran into a real Olympian. She was so gracious and helpful. Trying to stay undercover, I try to not buy great piles of things and usually only use a few coupons. These people have notebooks with them and buy everything in quantities of 10 or 20. They even go above the matchup information on the web. For instance, they will cruise the aisles and find items with a Close Out sticker. Then marry that with a coupon that they remember that they had six weeks ago. They found bar soap and deodorant on close out and with the coupons the items ended up costing a few cents. Amazing.

Sources for coupons are bidding online and grocery stores sell papers in double packets. There is even a web site that will tell you which Sunday papers have coupons in them . Just search Redplum and smart source insert schedule.

It would be a great way to stock up you church’s food pantry and some of your own. This is a wonderful skill if  you  don’t let it get the best of you. Be sure to have clear goals formulated.  Some of the people on the extreme couponing program seem to accumulate items that they could not possibly use before it expired. The psychology of coupons is complex. Companies distribute coupons to introduce a new product, increase sales, encourage purchase of other items on the shopping trip and find new markets. Be careful that the gratification of using coupons is not causing you to purchase something that you really do not need or never would have purchased in the first place. Coupons can make you feel like you have “saved money”.
Also count the cost of the amount of time it takes to find, collect, clip, sort, and file coupons, also to evaluate the deal and carry out the purchase.

The take home lesson is : Couponing is good for saving money on short term items, so you can invest in the foods with 20-30 year shelf life. Continue prepping and keep the faith. - C.S.


This is feedback for the article on "Extreme Coupon Prepping" by Y.M.

I have been hearing a lot lately about people saving hundreds or thousands of dollars by clipping coupons.  After reading the article I took some time and perused the sites mentioned: Krazy Coupon Lady, Redplum, Smartsource and coupons.com.  All of these sites are fine for people who 1. Buy whatever is being marketed (including lots of pre-packaged food) and 2. Require lots of maintenance items (various shampoos of the month, specialty vitamins, dog treats, air fresheners, contact lens solution, etc.). A possible third category would be people who just enjoy trying new things because a coupon implies they are saving money. 

As the head shopper for a healthy family of five, I spend an average of $700/month on groceries.  I cook every meal mostly from scratch and tend to buy the same inexpensive household items all the time (e.g. generic laundry detergent, store-brand dishwasher soap, inexpensive Dial soap and inexpensive V05 shampoo/conditioner).  After looking through the sites and seeing the thousands of items they are trying to ply us with coupons for, I came to the conclusion that I would not and could not take advantage of 99.9% of the coupons out there. 

I would feel a lot like our government trying to "spend myself to savings" using most of these coupons.  There are almost never any coupons for staple items (meat, vegetables, fruits, grains) except in over-salted over-processed "convenient" packages.  Saving $1.50 on scented candles or $5.00 off a Justin Bieber DVD does absolutely nothing for my bottom line.  Frankly, I would rather see articles about how to save money on staple items, for those of us who refuse to be "junk food junkies".

Thanks and keep up the great work.  SurvivalBlog is a great and informative site! - Peter W.

Good Morning, Jim,
I just wanted to pass on this information.  We bought a black Mag-Lite 2D Cell LED Flashlight from Wal-Mart for $33.88 a couple of weeks ago.[JWR Adds: I've seen the same 2-D Cell LED Mag-Lite advertised for a low as $20.88 at Amazon.com.]

I would like to highly recommend this light as an inexpensive item to have in your kit.  It provides 114 lumens with an adjustable focus and effective lighting up to 298 meters. I can light up my driveway all the way to the bottom, approx. 125 feet. It is available in several colors including black, gray and camouflage. We like it so well that we bought another one for our primary vehicle. - A.K.

Reader Bill H. sent: 10 states most at risk of disaster. Bill noted: "None of the Redoubt States are included [in the top ten list]. This is another reason why my family and I are making plans to relocate there."

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Lynn G. sent this troubling news headline from England: Food chain at risk of being poisoned by terrorist groups

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As documented in the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog, more details have emerged in the ATF's Gunwalker scandal.

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More environmentalist hand-wringing: Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time? This must be some kind of joke. Common sense dictates that staying at home reduces one's carbon footprint, whereas going out a doing things like driving your car to a restaurant or to a ball game you are then perceived as a overusing carbon. (Whenever some one slaughters trees, unearths coal, slays cattle, and pumps more of a black gooey substance out the ground,or indirectly causes anyone to do so. The shame, the guilt, the horror! ) Oh, and parenthetically, if they want to hug trees, they should do so only in their own back yards, or virtually hug a California Redwood tree, via the Internet. Traveling by car to a park burns fossil fuels.

“If every person has the right to defend–even by force–his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly.” - Frederick Bastiat, The Law

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7th is Book Bomb Day for the new book The Simplicity Primer, by Patrice Lewis. You'll probably recognize Patrice's name from either her excellent Rural Revolution blog, or from her WorldNet Daily columns. Please wait until June 7th to order the book, to create the maximum media buzz.

I still remember when some of the first lasers for handguns came on the commercial market. At the time I was working for the late Col. Rex Applegate, and he received several handgun lasers to test. As was usually the case, the job of testing was passed along to me, and I reported my findings back to Applegate. At the time, I thought that lasers on firearms were more of a gimmick or for that matter, just plain ol' toys. No one made holsters for handguns with laser - simply because the lasers were so big - it wasn't practical to carry a handgun with a laser mounted on it.

Well, times change, and product improvement and technology have produced some very small lasers for firearms. I no longer think of lasers as mere toys to play with. I sincerely believe that, lasers can aid a shooter under the right circumstances, especially low-light shooting. I've been testing some LaserLyte products for about a year and a half now, and I'm amazed at just how small, and effective their products are.

One of the first products I tested wasn't a laser. Instead, it's a very small flashlight that they dub "FlashLyte": that mount on the Picatinny-style rail on a handgun's rail (semi-autos). Now, the FlashLyte isn't designed for law enforcement or military use. Instead, this product is designed (and priced) for the home owner to use on their "bedroom gun." You know what I'm talking about - the gun you keep handy in your bedroom, should you hear a bump-in-the-night.

The FlashLyte is a triple-cluster of LED lens engineer to pump our 25-lumens of bright light at your target. This is more than enough light to light-up the living room in most homes. Additionally, the FlashLyte will also temporarily blind a suspect if you point it in their eyes. I'm not aware of a smaller flashlight that can be mounted on a handgun, than the FlashLyte. It takes but a minute to mount the FlashLyte on your handgun that is equipped with a Picatinny-style rail, and your good to go. If you have a bedroom gun, then you really need some sort of illumination source to go with it - and what better place to have a light, than mounted on your handgun?

When I heard from my friend Laura Burgess who does the PR/Marketing for LaserLyte, that they had a laser mounted in the rear sight for handguns, I thought perhaps she had had one too many drinks. In short order, a sample of the Rear Sight Laser from LaserLyte arrived at my front door - it was for a Glock 19 and other similar Glocks. I couldn't believe how darn small the RSL was. It only took me a couple of minutes to remove the factory Glock rear sight, with a brass punch and plastic hammer, and install the new RSL in its place.

The RSL is now available for several popular handguns, with more to come. What I like about the RSL is that, it's easy to mount, easy to zero and easy to use. As you draw your handgun from your holster, you simply place your thumb on the activation switch on the rear of the RSL and it turns the laser on. Additionally, there is a constant as well as pulse mode. The pulse mode is activate by pressing the activation switch twice. And, studies have shown, that a pulsing red laser seems to be more intimidating than a steady laser for some reason. I tend to agree. the RSL has a 1-hour constant on, and a 2-hour pulse battery supply. What's not to like here?

Several months ago, I received the LaserLyte K-15 Kryptonyte Rifle Laser for testing. I mounted it on my MGI Hydra modular rifle, that has a quad-rail forearm. Again, it was quick and easy to mount, just a couple screws and I was in business. Now, if you've never used a green laser, you're in for a a treat - they are much brighter than red lasers on - and you can see them under most daylight conditions. I'm a firm believer is the less-is-better, when it comes to mounting things on my AR-15 style rifles. Any more, I've seen people with so much gear mounted on their ARs, that the gear weighs more than the actual rifle does. I'm getting older, and I just don't want to pack any more weight than I have to on a firearm. So, I'm particular about what gear I add to my ARs.

I like the K-15 Kryptonyte, and I have to chuckle at the name. Everyone knows that Kryptonite can kills Superman...and if you see how bright the green laser is on the K-15, you'll know that whoever is pointing this laser at you means business - that the bullets are gonna hit where the light is aimed. I zero all my lasers for 25-yards, on rifles or handguns, as I believe that's a reasonable distance to use lasers at. I know, I know, lots of companies advertise that their lasers can be seen at a mile away. Okay, good for them, but I can't hit a target at a mile away. I think lasers are best used for close-in CQB distances.

The K-15 has a constant "on" switch on the rear of it. There is also a momentary on feature, that is used with the 10-inch long tape switch, that I mounted on a vertical fore grip. I would like to see LaserLyte include a vertical fore grip with the K-15, as I don't see many people using the momentary "on" switch just stuck on the fore end of an AR or other similar rifle. I mounted my K-15 on the top rail of the quad-rail on my Hydra. You can mount it on any of the four positions if you desire. The K-15s super-bright green laser gets your attention, even in bright sunlight. And, the battery lasts for up to six hours. I just think that my Hydra looks super-cool with the K-15 mounted on it, and it's a useful addition if you ask me. BTW, LaserLyte just came out with a coyote brown K-15 - the standard model is black.

One thing to keep in mind with any green lasers is the fact that, they don't operate in temps below freezing. So, if you live and work in a climate that has temps below freezing, then you might not want a green laser mounted on your firearm. I'm not sure of the science involved in the making of a green laser, but I understand that advances are being made in this regard concerning the temps at which they will operate.

I also tested the V2 laser, and this little gem mounts on the Picatinny-style rail on your handgun. And, it can also be mounted to a quad-rail on a rifle, but it's real purpose is on a handgun. The V2 is a true subcompact laser, too. I haven't seen anything smaller. The V2 is activated by a small red button on the rear of it - and it can be turned on in a split second. I really liked the V2, and I'm gonna see if I can't beg a couple more samples from LaserLyte for some of my other handgun. the V2 is small enough that it will allow holstering in many ballistic Nylon holsters, too. There are several other lasers for handguns from LaserLyte, however, I haven't tested them, so I'll refrain from commenting on 'em here, other than to say, I'm sure they are top-notch if they are like any of the other products I tested from LaserLyte.

Whenever I mount a scope on a rifle, I use the Laser Bore Sighting System from LaserLyte. This neat little device allows me to get my scope on paper at 25-yards, and more often than not, I've been dead-on with my scope after using the Laser Bore Sighter. this system consist of a laser device that you stick in the end of your barrel, and you turn it on. Aim your rifle at the special target that is included with the system, and place it on the bullseye, then adjust the crosshairs of you scope, to match the laser's red dot on the target. More often than not, when I head up to my shooting spot to live-fire the rifle, the shots are hitting exactly where the crosshairs are aimed. It's a very quick and easy system to use. However, you must remember to remove the laser from the end of your bore before firing live ammo, if you don't you will blow your gun up - simple as that. The Laser Bore Sighting System has saved me a lot of money in ammo, and the darn thing just works simply.

What I like best about LaserLyte products is that they are affordable. And, compared to the cheap imports that sell for less money, the LaserLyte lasers work as advertised and will last a long, long time. I've tried some of the cheap Chinese imported lasers that cost $25 and they are junk, don't waste your money on 'em. Get something from LaserLyte that will suit your needs and work when it's supposed to work. Lasers aren't just "toys" any longer. They are a worthwhile addition to your firearms. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio  

Mr. Rawles:

You recently posted this:

Jeremy Pavleck over at Cool Tools recently recommended Rescue Repair Tape. It is a fusing silicone repair tape that has umpteen uses. It can even be used as a temporary patch for leaking radiator hoses. I recommend buying a roll for at home, and one for each of your vehicle tool kits.

Jeremy is correct! This stuff is beyond awesome. It is waterproof. It insulates from electricity. It is heat resistant. It is easily removable but doesn't come off unless you want it to.

I have used it to improve grips on firearms (it is tacky but doesn't stick to anything). It is perfect for "taping" down a tac-light's pressure pad switch on a long gun. It can easily be removed leaving no residue behind, but holds up to the hottest barrels.

While I love 100 mph tape, here in Arizona the heat causes it to melt and slide off. But Rescue Repair Tape doesn't move and I have yet to replace it. I can keep a roll of it in my truck or on my bike and it isn't ruined by the heat. However, I've found a great place to get it less expensively. It can be found at Harbor Freight for generally under $5. And I have purchased it on numerous times when on sale for as little as $3 a roll.

WARNING! This product is more addictive than potato chips! If you try one roll, then you'll try and fix everything with it from then on! Buy multiple rolls. I usually have one or two "regular use" rolls in different colors and a large supply for "difficult times to come."  Enjoy! - M.B.B.

B.B. was the first of several readers to send this article: China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills. here is a key quote: "Most of the U.S. national debt is made up of publicly marketable securities sold by the Treasury Department and I.O.U.s called 'intragovernmental' bonds that the Treasury has given to so-called government trust funds—such as the Social Security trust funds—when it has spent the trust funds’ money on other government expenses." Talk about a Ponzi scheme!

The Sky Is Falling, It Is Time To Panic And The U.S. Economy Has Fallen And It Can’t Get Up

Like something out a novel: Chaos in Yemen Drives Economy to Edge of Ruin. (A hat tip to G.P for the link.)

Greeks Grab Their Money from the Banks – Time is Running Out

L.M.W. liked this editorial: Socialism's Army of Occupation

Items from The Economatrix:

US Service Sector Grew In May

Bleak Jobs Report Dampens Hopes of Steady Growth

US as Already in a Growth Recession

Spinning the Economy to a Recovery

A reminder: Ready Made Resources is seeking entries for their Preparedness Video Contest. Instructional (nonfiction) videos on any topic related to family preparedness are sought. The prizes are a brand new Rock Rivers Arms (RRA) Elite Comp M4 (AR-15 series compatible ) complete Barreled Upper Receiver and a Trijicon Reflex sight with a combined retail value of more than $1,400. Please keep your privacy in mind when you create your videos. (Don't mention any surnames or towns). You may post up to three videos to YouTube for consideration in the judging. Videos up to 10 minute long that are your original work that are already posted to YouTube are also eligible for the judging. To enter, e-mail the URL for video(s) to: grisrob@gmail.com. Do not send the videos themselves or links to videos stored at other web sites. Only nonfiction videos that you post to YouTube are eligible. Again, the creator of the best video will win a brand new a brand new complete Rock Rivers Arms (RRA) Elite Comp M4 (AR-15 series compatible ) Barreled Upper Receiver and a Trijicon Reflex sight. The deadline or posting videos is July 26th. The video judged best will be announced on Monday August 1st, 2011.

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News from Nanny State Canada: Flooded-out farmer needs permit to remove fish. (Thanks to Chad S. for the link.)

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I noticed that The Homestead Store has added several new products including Farmhaul carts, a wider selection of stainless steel cookware, and newly-manufactured treadle sewing machines. (A modern machine on a traditional treadle base!)

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Also from Chad S. comes a tale of boondogglage, California style: What if they built a school and nobody got to go?

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The folks at Safecastle have recently re-stocked some of their perennial best sellers, including canned butter from Holland, canned ghee (clarified butter), Yoder's canned meat variety packs, and the excellent Aurora brand fire starters.

"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." - Friedrich August von Hayek

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Please pray for the folks in the path of the large wildfire in Northern Arizona.


Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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.

Two years ago, after intense research, my husband decided to talk to me about the possibility of an economic collapse or terrorist attack.  He also described to me in detail the steps that we would have to take in order to prepare for such events.  We made lists prioritizing emergency preparedness goals, such as bug-out-bags, water and food storage, a medical supply kit, water purification methods and home defense,  to name a few.   I have to admit that at first I was confused, completely freaked out, and at times angry at the thought that the world as we know it could come to an abrupt end.  After some research on my own and processing all that information, I decided that we would only be able to increase our chances of survival if we could become a united front and tackle this daunting task together.

At the time, I was working outside the home making a significant salary, which made investing in emergency preparedness not feel like a financial headache.  Every month, after paying bills, putting some aside for savings and paying off debt, we would take a chunk and buy the things needed to check off those emergency prep goals.  We also knew that we wanted to have another child and with the arrival of that precious bundle of joy, I would stop working and become a stay-at-home/home-schooling mom.  That meant that once we became pregnant, the 9 month countdown began and we would soon lose my income and have to solely rely on my husband’s. 

I heard about couponing from a friend, who referred me to the Krazy Coupon Lady , however at the time we had dual incomes and so I paid just enough attention to not be considered rude, but did not have any intention to start couponing.  I have always seen it as a huge time consuming “hobby” and in the past I always ended up throwing away the few coupons that I would clip.    
Once my precious bundle of joy joined my family of three, and I started my stay-at-home journey and adventure of homeschooling my six year old, the realization set in that we had to make my husband’s salary stretch as far as possible and still have enough to invest in our emergency prepping.  That is when I started to research and find ways that I could contribute to the household’s economic situation without having to work outside the home.  I still found that even with meal planning and cutting back on “luxury” food items, a huge chunk of our take home pay was going into buying groceries.  After paying bills and the necessities, I found that we had very little to invest in emergency prep and that freaked me out even more than hearing about why we needed to emergency prep in the first place.

One night I was watching The Learning Channel (TLC) and the first show of “Extreme Couponing” happened to come on.  At that point I still had not remembered the conversation I had with my friend about couponing and was completely intrigued and impressed at how these stay-at-home moms were saving their family so much money.  Needless to say, I was sold!  I couldn’t even go to bed that night, I knew I had to do some major research and find out what this couponing business was all about.  The show mentioned the Krazy Coupon Lady and that is when I remembered the conversation I had with my friend.  I was almost mad at myself for not paying her more attention and getting into couponing sooner.  I thought about all the headway we could have made in our stockpile…but I digress. 

So I did a web search on this phenomenon that is called “Extreme Couponing” and decided to try it out.  In just the first month we saved over 40% in groceries, toiletries and household products.  I started thinking differently about the way we shopped for our bi-monthly groceries and only buy what we will eat for those two weeks, cutting my grocery budget by half and using the rest of my grocery budget to “extreme coupon” and build our stockpile.  Where we live we don’t have a lot of the grocery chains that they feature on the now weekly show, but I made do with stores like Wal-Mart and I take advantage of their ad price matching and coupon overage.
What is that foreign terminology, you may ask?  Ad price matching is when you have Wal-Mart price match other stores’ weekly shopper ads.  Coupon overages are when, for example, an item is listed at $3.49 and you have a coupon for $4.00 off, Wal-Mart will give you the difference, either in cash or to be applied to the rest of the basket.  We have been able to stockpile on body soap, deodorant, toothpaste and other hygiene necessities by taking advantage of their awesome coupon policy, often times making the products free or almost free. 
Here are some simples steps in order to get you started on extreme couponing:

1. Coupons, when and where.  Coupons can be found in your local Sunday paper in the form of coupon inserts.  In our household we have two Sunday papers delivered and depending on the deals, we pick up two to four more at the gas station down the street on the way to church.  The three inserts that you can find throughout the year are: Smart Source, Proctor and Gamble and Red Plum.  The paper will not have inserts on holidays.  Throughout the week you can also find coupons online on the following sites: coupons.com, redplum.com and smartsource.com.  Another way to get coupons is to write your favorite companies and tell them how much you like their products; often you will get coupons for a significant amount off or even for free.  If you already subscribe to magazines, be on the lookout for coupons there too.  In no time at all, you and the rest of your family will become experts in spotting coupons, everywhere.  I also use www.sweetfreestuff.com, to receive samples of my favorite products and those products will usually arrive with a couple of coupons.

2. Organization, binder and whole insert option.  There are two ways to organize the coupons.  Both ways work well, it just depends on what would work for you and your family.  The first way is the binder organizational system.  This is where you cut out all the coupons and using a large binder and baseball card holders you organize your coupons by categories.  Some even go as far as to have two binders, one for consumable products and another one for non-consumable products.  The other way of organizing your coupons is to keep your inserts whole.  Every Sunday when you get your inserts, make sure you write the date and insert initials, for example: P&G (Proctor and Gamble), SS (Smart Source) and RP (Red Plum).  This will be very helpful when looking for deals and knowing exactly what insert has which coupons.  Which brings me to the next step…

3.  How to find the deals.  This way of couponing is not your “grandma’s way” of couponing.  We have access to the World Wide Web and can find deals and coupon match-ups with web sites and blogs online.  A simple web search will render more than plenty of resources.  Although the web sites and blogs differ a little bit, there are some things that you can find consistent in most of them.  You will find that they tell you where to find the deals, the sale price, the coupon to use and the amount off and the final price.  This is a God-send for those individuals who don’t like doing math and find themselves intimated by all that calculating.  The following are some web sites that we use to help us find the deals:

  • Krazy Coupon Lady  This web site is what started it all for me.  Her team gives out a step-by-step guide on how to get started and endless useful tips and suggestions.  You can also find weekly deals to many of the nationwide grocery and pharmacy chains.
  • Pocket Your Dollars  This web site is slightly similar to the Krazy Coupon Lady web site and I found a really neat feature which is the printable grocery list.  You can pick your list by store and then click on the items for which you have coupons for and when you are done you can print the list and take that with you to the store.
  • I Heart the Mart  This site has been useful to me because I do the majority of my shopping at Wal-Mart.  On the right side of the page you can find a link for all deals under $1.

4. Store coupon policies and , rules, rules, rules.  It is very important that you know your store’s coupon policy.  Most times you can find your particular stores coupon policy online through their web site.  If you can’t find it online, write the corporate office and ask them for a written copy of their policy.  You can also call and talk to the general manager and find out how you can get a copy.  For stores that don’t have a web site, it is recommended that you check with them every couple of months to verify any changes to the policy.  Sometimes cashiers don’t know their store policies and it is much easier for you to have a copy of the store policy with you and show them the policy than to get in a unnecessary confrontation.  Print these policies and have them handy when you go shopping.

5. Coupon lingo can seem like Chinese.  Here are some of the coupon lingo to help you navigate the web sites and blogs: 

  • Q: Coupon
  • MQ: Manufacturer coupon
  • OOP: Out of Pocket (what you will spend after coupon savings)
  • RP: Red Plum insert
  • SS: Smart Source insert
  • P&G: Proctor and Gamble insert 

The KCL Coupon Lingo page (from the Krazy Coupon Lady web site) goes further explaining some of the coupon lingo. There, click on Step #4.     

Coupons also have restrictions on them and it is important to understand what those means.  One coupon per purchase, this means that you can only use one coupon per item purchased.  The only time there is an exception to this rule is when you combine that coupon (MQ, manufacturer coupon) with a store coupon.  These are coupons that individual stores print on their shopper.  One coupon per transaction or Limit of # like coupons per shopping trip, this means that there is a limit of how many coupons you can use for that particular time that the cashier closes out the register.  It is also a good idea to read the coupons for description of the item.  Sometimes it will have a number of ounces the coupon is good for or a particular item in the product family.  Failure to follow these rules is coupon fraud and the manufacturer will not honor these coupons resulting in the store not getting reimbursed for those coupons that were illegally used.   

6. The List, don’t leave home without it.  If your family is already a frugal shopper than you know that it is a bad idea to do grocery shopping without a list.  The same principle applies to “extreme couponing.”  It is a good idea to know what the item is selling for, how much you will be saving, the quantity of the particular item you will be buying and the out of pocket cost.  It will help you stay in budget.  I have seen many ways that people write out their list.  Some make a list the “old fashion way” with a pen and paper.  Some use their netbooks, iPads or laptops.  I was an office manager and did a lot of database entry and have developed a simple Excel spread sheet, which will do the math for me, in order to minimize calculating mistakes. 

7. Be Realistic!  If you have ever watched those TLC “extreme couponing” shows, you will see spectacular results from couponing.  You might recall seeing those individuals buying hundreds and even thousands of dollars worth of products and only paying pennies or getting it all for free.  The reality is that not everyone lives in a town or city where grocery stores double coupons or offer overage.  So for the rest of us, rather than it being “extreme couponing” it can be more like “realistic couponing.”  Know the limits of where you live and be okay with the results that you will get.  In our household, if we can save over 40%, we have ourselves a mini-celebration.    

Couponing not only has saved us a significant amount of money and allowed us to stockpile necessary items for long term survival, but has also enabled us to use that saved money to increase our emergency preparedness traditionally, and little by little giving us a greater peace of mind about the future.  As a stay-at-home mom it also gives me the satisfaction that I am contributing to our household in a great way.  In the few short months that we have been couponing we have seen our stockpile grow and I pray that we never find ourselves in a situation where we rely on it to survive but if we do we are prepared.  My husband always says: “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I was just made aware that on June 2nd, the U.S. National Academies (e.g., National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering) made their publications available for free on-line.  http://www.nap.edu/  

Documents can either be reviewed on screen, downloaded as a PDF (need to register with site to download files) or hard copies can be ordered (although at substantial cost).
Publications cover a broad range of topics from Agriculture, to Engineering and Technology, to Conflict and Security Issues. Although much of the material may be of little direct value to a prepper, there may be some value among the esoteric collection, such as:  

There appears to also be a lot that would just be interesting reading.

Best Regards, - Sean in Sacramento, California

I would like to offer a suggestion and a word of caution concerning F.J.B. suggestions for secure and private communications.

The suggestion is the computer media containing the data.  Instead of trying to find a small thumb drive or a thumb drive in some nondescript package, one should look at the MicroSD card.  These generally come with an SD card carrier and SD card writers are inexpensive and small.  Once removed from the carrier, the MicroSD card measures only 11x15x1 mm (.43x..59x.04 inches) and is available in sizes up to 64 GB.  This extremely small gadget can easily be hidden in clothing or elsewhere.

The warning has to do with encoding and decoding book ciphers.  One method used by code-breakers is to look for word frequency using identical cipher text symbols, so the way to beat the code-breakers in this case is to use multiple cipher-text symbols for the intended word.  In the example, the word safe was represented as 2-37-17.  If that word or others were used multiple times in the message, or in different messages for that matter, this could give the code breakers a starting point.  The way around this is to find the same word "safe" someplace else within the key books, so that perhaps 2-73-5 and 3-21-89 also reference the same word.  The apparent randomness of the cipher-text makes it harder to break. - L.V.Z. in Ohio

JWR Replies: I agree with your warning on book codes. Just as with a "one time pad", you should not use the same code sequence twice. If using a "book code", simply draw a line through the word, so that you don't use the same word position code again.

We've mentioned "seasteading" several times in SurvivalBlog, and my #1 Son attended their first planning conference. Here is the latest news: Patri Friedman makes waves with 'seasteading' plan. (Thanks to Georgia Mom for the link.)

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I just heard that for just the month of June anyone order more than $150 of any merchandise from Ready Made Resources will receive a free DVD copy of the excellent Urban Danger DVD.

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Jeremy Pavleck over at Cool Tools recently recommended Rescue Repair Tape. It is a fusing silicone repair tape that has umpteen uses. It can even be used as a temporary patch for leaking radiator hoses. I recommend buying a roll for at home, and one for each of your vehicle tool kits.

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The Berkey Guy received a recent shipment of Wise Food Storage packages and has plenty in stock of 56, 60, & 84 servings buckets. They say that they ship the same day or next day after ordering.

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John R. mentioned this over art Chris Martenson's site: The Dangers of Fukushima Are Worse and Longer-lived Than We Think

"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him." - Psalm 2:12 (KJV)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 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 an electronics and computer engineer for the past 30 years my personal skill sets are of limited but interesting value after TEOTWAWKI. Given that there may be very limited electricity, and/or the fact that CME/EMP may destroy most electronics devices, the need for these skills may be rare. I feel that these skills will be mostly useless unless you are part of a sustainable group of retreatists that have electricity and devices that use it. I plan to be part of such a group, and so I am planning ahead to make sure that my skills can be applied when required. This will require that I consult with the group on what brands and models of devices will be on hand. With this information I can stock up on spare parts, test equipment, etc. Electronics will fail and will have to be repaired. Comm gear, generators, vehicles, security systems will all need to be maintained and without proper planning even a knowledgeable technician will be unable to accomplish very much.

When I need to repair a device, whatever it is, I need several things:

1.    Schematic diagrams - These are the blueprints on how an electronic device operates. Diagnosing and repairing anything will be difficult without the schematics.

2.    Test equipment. The most basic tool is the VOM (volt-ohm meter). With this tool and the schematics you can identify and fix many problems in consumer electronics.

3.    Spare parts. This is sort of obvious, but you can't fix things without parts.

In my way opinion, the availability of schematics and spare parts should determine what devices you are going to stock in your retreat. State-of-the-art comm gear is great if you have five spares and a dedicated support team to fix them, not so good if you are 40 miles and three years removed from civilization. A device needs to be sustainable by less than factory methods, and in the field, post-TEOTWAWKI, this will near impossible for individuals. For that reason, I lean towards older gear that has survived to this point. I look for gear that has easily obtainable spare parts that can be replaced by hand with common electronics tools. This means discrete components (resistors, transistors, etc)..... no surface-mount components and as few integrated circuits as possible. We have to go back to the 70's and early 80's for this stuff. Most of us will not have the equipment or spare parts needed to repair currently available electronics. The parts are just too small, to specialized. Furthermore, there are no schematics available for a large portion of modern, throw-away electronics.

This is why as an individual, or as a group, planning to support your electronics gear should take time and care. I am planning on buying as near identical and as many as I can find of particular pieces of gear. This will be gear that I can obtain parts and schematics for, NOW. I want as few different models as possible. I want complete spare units, spare parts, and good quality, well-protected schematics. I want these units to provide me with the needed functions, but as few bells and whistles as possible. I want to be able to test, tune, and modify the gear beforehand, and then put it into safe storage until needed. When looking for manuals, schematics, etc., look at sites like http://electronicsrepair.net/ for almost any electronic equipment. Ebay is also a great place to get service manuals, schematics, etc.

Knowing how to fix electronic gear, or even being able to attempt to fix it will be a big plus if it's gear that has become important to your daily life. Things like comm gear, battery chargers, solar controllers, generators, etc. While maybe not defining life or death, these devices will be able to help you be safer and more comfortable. Having a member of your group that has these capabilities, will become very important when something is broken. If you decide to take this on yourself, and have never been involved in electronics repair, consider taking a class at a local tech school or college. Whatever source of education you you choose, make sure you will get basic electronics theory to start, and then move to more advanced topics. A great place to start learning about electronics is watching this collection of online tutorials. Be sure that you get the principles of transistor theory down, since this is the type of circuitry we will be most likely to be able to repair. More modern equipment is still based on transistor circuits, but the transistors themselves are more often than not part of an integrated circuit that is more specialized, harder to find, and harder to replace. Once you become a bit more acquainted with the theories of electronic circuits I would also suggest that you play around with some ham radio equipment. Attend some local group meetings, get to know the old timers, ask questions, and get some gear to experiment with. Ham radio guys are some of the most savvy electronics guys around, and they are generally very pleasant and generous with time and knowledge.

Consider getting a n amateur radio ("ham") license. There are plenty of useful, practical ham projects you can build, either from individually sourced parts or from the many companies that offer kits. Start with a simple receiver, since you can listen for signals from other hams. After that, build a matching transmitter and antenna. Once you get that accomplished you have made great strides in your skills. Along the way you will learn about power supplies, amplifiers, etc. Soon the mysteries of how things work will be distant memory. Much of the theory can be applied to other gear that has electronics as part of the larger functionality, such as a generator. The skill to fix a down generator or battery charger will be without a price.

When learning to repair electronic devices, test equipment such as multi-meters, oscilloscopes, signal generators, etc. are needed to troubleshoot, and then you need tools like soldering irons to effect repairs. Start with simple repair jobs like replacing cords, broken wires and then tackle more intricate work as your skill level increases. Replacing discreet electronic components is fairly easy if you have decent vision and good tools. You must remove faulty components before you install new ones, and that usually involves heating a solder join on a circuit board with a soldering iron, and then removing the molten solder from the component leads with a 'solder-sucker'. A solder sucker is a hand-cocked vacuum device that has a spring-loaded plunger that is used to create a small vacuum at the tip of a tube when the plunger is released. The vacuum removes the heated solder and leaves the component leads free to be removed. Here's a great video to show you how its done. installing the new component is easy, just place the leads of the new component through the circuit board holes, quickly heat the lead with the solder iron and apply solder to the point where the lead goes through the board. Clip any excess leads from the component and you are finished. When soldering some components like small signal transistors, you might to use a heat sink to keep the device from getting too hot during soldering. Us a small alligator clip attached to the untrimmed component leads during soldering. This will allow the alligator clip to dissipate some of the heat from your soldering iron.

As far as electronics go, with some sense of power availability, a properly planned retreat need not be "roughing-it". Conserving power may indeed be required, but there could be instances where the preferred method of cooking something is with a microwave. Perhaps an electric clock, radios (news and music, not comm), maybe a record player. Whatever the device, consider looking for gear that is not digital, has no digital displays, no keypads, etc. Older microwaves had a timer and a start button... very easy to repair or bypass, and less suspect to failure from EMP or lightning. I would prefer to equip my retreat with all of the devices I use now, just older, or at least less sophisticated models that would be easier to keep running. I look for these at thrift stores, yard sales, swap meets, eBay, and Craigslist. If the price is right, and there are more than one, I buy several since the best spare parts source is a complete spare unit. Not only that, a working unit can be a very good tool for troubleshooting a failed unit. Now, before the SHTF is the time to test, repair, and modify your gear.

Once you have gained some knowledge and are familiar with electronic gear, start looking for some to put into inventory. Go to eBay and look for an older radio transceiver for CB or ham bands, then try and find the schematics and/or service manuals for it. For this type of gear it can often be had as a part of a collection known as "Sam's Photofacts". These were published as service guides for electronics repairmen, and will contain most everything you will need to repair and tune your radio. If you can't find the schematics, consider a different piece of gear. Things like refrigerators, AC units, microwaves and electric ovens will often have schematics attached to the inside of the housing or chassis. For things like battery chargers, generators, etc, schematics may be hard to find. As soon as you buy a piece of gear, start hunting for the schematics, service manuals, and any operators manuals. Contact the manufacturer or distributor and ask for them, if they are available most often they will sell or just give them to you. Look on the companies web site, often the docs you are looking for will be available for download. Once you have your documents, make copies of them and store them in two separate, well-protected places.

While looking for gear to purchase, don't overlook gear that is not functional. The easiest gear to repair is often gear that will not power on. This can often be traced to a bad power cord, switch, or fuse. When you are at a flea market, thrift store, garage sale, etc., and see a non-functional piece of equipment, you can usually get it for a very low price. Take your time and look for obvious problems such as cords or fuses. Ask the seller if they know how the unit behaves. I the correct power is available, ask to plug it in. I once bought a very nice television that would not power on for $1 at a yard sale! It turned out to be a bad connection on the back of the set where the power cord attached. Very cheap prices can be worth the gamble, and if you can't fix it, there may be parts you can salvage for other gear. If all else fails, you can throw the equipment away and have only lost a very small investment, and you may have learned something in the process. Don't be afraid to open things up and take a look around! Often you can spot a loose wire, or a bad component just by looking. Bad components often become discolored or burnt, and some bad capacitors are often swollen or burst open. These are easy to spot and should be fairly easy to replace with some patience and some practice.

For spare parts, look at the parts list and/or schematics. Try and find replacement parts for transistors, diodes, and tubes. When an exact part number replacement is not available look for a parts substitution from ECG, NTE, or a similar company. It's probably not worth trying to stock spares for resistors and capacitors, but instead stock up on these in small bulk assortments. Resistors and capacitors are available in large assortments of common values. If a replacement is needed and no exact replacement is handy you can often just get close, or combine two or more components to get the required value. Other spare parts you may want to consider are things like microphones, power connectors, antenna, and fuses. (Unless you just have to, don't operate your gear without the correct fuses!)

Above all, remember that most electronics devices are happy and safe when they are dry and have the correct power supply voltages applied. If you keep them dry and don't drop them, stomp on them, or shoot them they will keep working. To that end, store and operate your gear in dry environments, and make sure you have thought to provide the proper input power for them. Whenever possible, try and buy equipment that uses a common supply voltage such as 120 VAC or 12 VDC (at least here in the US). In coming articles I intend to discuss how to build small power supply systems that can be switched or adjusted to provide different supply voltages to several different pieces of gear at the same time, from a common input power source. I also have articles planned for antenna design and construction, and an article for passively reducing your transmitter output to limit the effective range and your RF visibility.

Courtesy of one of my consulting clients, I recently had the opportunity to shoot more than 120 rounds through an AR-15 equipped with an SSAR-15 SlideFire Solutions stock. These are legal "bump fire" stocks that slide 1/2-inch, allowing you to very rapidly re-press the trigger, under recoil. The effect sounds just like full auto. It takes a few minutes to get accustomed to controlling the length of bursts. The trick is using a slight forward pressure on the foregrip.

As with full auto, don't expect much accuracy after the second shot in a burst. (I was able to keep two rounds inside a 6 inch circle at 10 yards.) The stock can also be locked in the rearward position, for traditional (non-bump firing) function. Each stock sold comes with a copy of the ATF approval letter, certifying that rifles in equipped with this stock are exempt from the National Firearms Act $200 tax requirements. (Technically, under U.S. law, they are not full auto, because you are firing the gun semi-auto with individual presses of the trigger.) Don't be surprised if this ruling is reversed in a few years, on a bureaucratic whim, or at the insistence of higher ups in the Executive Branch. If Senator Schumer saw one of these guns in action at a rifle range, I think that he'd lapse into apoplectic spasms. Given the attributes of these stocks, be prepared to answer to authorities at a moment's notice. I recommend that you keep a copy of the ATF approval letter with the stock at all times. I was told that my host keeps his letter inside a forward pistol grip (with a battery compartment) that is kept mounted on his AR-15. That is prudent.

At first, I considered these stocks a novelty and just an expensive toy. But then I realized that for retreat groups, it might make sense to add one of these stocks to an M4gery or AR-15 in your battery. Picture a situation where your group retreat is being approached by a large group of armed, hostile looters. Odds are that most of them won't have any combat experience. The sound of "full auto" fire in a display of force might encourage them to flee and go find a softer target, somewhere else. (Your mileage may vary!)

One word of warning: A rifle equipped with one of these stocks becomes an ammo eater. They are expensive to shoot, so don't buy one unless you can afford to lay in an extra 2,000 rounds of ammo and a Beta CMAG 100 round magazine.

Thank you for your site, I read it daily. I would like to point out that local coin auctions are another good place to pick up some silver. I came across an ad in the classified section of the local paper for a coin auction that was being held at one of our local auction houses. They had a web site that listed all of the coins that were to be for auction that following weekend.

There were over 500 lots of coins for auction that day. I picked up several 40% Ike dollars for $3-$5 less than what coinflation.com had listed for a melt value. There were many bags of pre-1964 coins that sold for less than their melt values. I also picked up some 1 oz silver rounds for $1 to $2 per ounce under that day's spot price. Also, there were some foreign coins, Francs, Pesos that were .700 or .900 silver that ended up selling for less than their melt values. I would urge caution though on bidding on some of the older [numismatic] coins. There were many Morgan silver dollars that were being run up to $50-$100. I can only assume that there was some rarity value placed on these coins by the collectors. There were fees on purchases made with credit cards, but since I paid cash, there were no fees and no sales tax. If you do your homework you can come away with some good deals. - M.C.W.

JWR Adds: The same principle applies to other auctions, including online variety auctions, gun auctions, and farm auctions. If the majority of the people attending an auction are bidding on the "treasures" and ignoring the "trash", then the latter will likely sell for well below retail. In the case of coin auctions where the bidders are after the high grade numismatics (Sheldon grade MS-62 and higher), then they will likely pass up on bidding on the heavily worn "junk" silver coins that only have bullion value. I've also been to gun auctions where some very "Plain Jane" guns and large "odd lot" boxes of of holsters, scopes and full capacity magazines sold for a pittance because everyone else who was there seemed fixated on buying $20,000+ Colts and Winchesters.

Barry Ritholtz: FDIC Bank Failures Chart. (Thanks to SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate "G.G." for the link.)

Chad S. sent a link for the few folks who feel that they don't get enough gloom and doom from reading this column: DailyJobCuts.com.

Items from The Economatrix:

US Home Price Fall "Beats Great Depression Slide"

Dreaded Double Dip In Housing Is Here

Consumer Confidence Falls Unexpectedly In May

The Brittle Financial American Middle Class

Eric C. sent this: Pickup runs on wood

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I just heard that Camping Survival just received a supply of Bridgford shelf-stable sandwiches. These were developed for the U.S. military, with a three year shelf life. Try some!

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Several readers sent this: Kevlar Bunker Provides Safe House for Tornado Survivor. JWR Adds: To my mind, there is no proper substitute for reinforced concrete.

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J.D.D. sent this article with video: Family Lives in 320-Square-Foot 'Shotgun Shack'

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This guy really cranks them out! Volume Handloading Match Grade 5.56mm for AR-15. (Thanks to Robert R. for the link.)

"I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.

And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee." - Exodus 23:27-28 (KJV)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Starting Sunday June 5th, the new Radio Free Redoubt podcast will begin airing weekly. Please note that this is not my own podcast (so the views expressed do not necessarily reflect my own), but the folks who produce it seem sincere and level-headed. The podcast should provide a great forum for exchanging ideas--both for folks who already live in the American Redoubt, and for those that plan to relocate there.


Between now and mid-July, I'm wrapping up the writing of the second sequel to my novel "Patriots". The already-completed first sequel ("Survivors") is scheduled for release in October of 2011, and the second sequel (working title: "Citizens") is scheduled for release in October of 2012.

My follow-on project will be a weighty tome on firearms and other tools for survival. That should be published, Deo Volente, in 2013. So for the next 18 months, a greater portion of my writing in SurvivalBlog will be about tools and firearms. Today's first article is an example.

I often have blog readers and consulting clients send me questions about firearms calibers. They are often confused, but this not always their fault. It is a confusing, complex, and often arcane topic. A lot of the facts that you will find are mere trivia, but since safety is an issue--(we mustn't fire the incorrect ammo in our guns!)--it is important to study.

To begin: Metric caliber designations are usually written with an "x" in the middle to distinguish the bore diameter and case length. For example, the 6.5x55 designation tells us that the cartridge uses a 6.5 mm bullet, and a case that is 55 mm in length.

The following table is partly Creative Commons licensed (courtesy of Wikipedia), with additions by JWR (such as 7.5mm, 7.7mm, .375 H&H, .455 and .577) and minor corrections and comments. Hence, I am retaining my moral rights.





Bullet Dia.


Typical Cartridges JWR's Comments
.172 4.4mm .172

.17 HMR,
.17 Remington

Varmint cartridges
.177 4.5mm .177 Pellet, .175 BB Airgun .177 caliber Common "BB Gun" and "Pellet Gun" ammo
.204 5mm .204 .204 Ruger, 5 mm Remington Rimfire Magnum Dubious market longevity, so beware!
.220 5.45mm .220 5.45 x39mm AK-74 series. (.220 Swift is actually a .223)



.223 .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .220 Swift, FN 5.7x28, .22-250, etc. A bullet diameter of .224 is used with some cartridges
.228 5.8mm .228 .228 Ackley Magnum  
.243 6mm .243 .243 Winchester, 6mm Remington Actually, it is 6.2mm
.25 6.35mm .25 .25 ACP  
.257 6.5mm .257

.256 Win. Magnum, .25-06, .257 Roberts,

  6.5mm .264 6.5x55 Swedish Perfect for deer-sized game
.264 6.7mm .264 .264 Win. Magnum  
.270 6.8mm .270 .270 Winchester, .270 Weatherby Mag. Great for antelope
.280 "7mm" .284 .280 Ross, 7x57 Mauser, 7mm Magnum, .280 Remington Actually, it is a 7.2mm bullet, but called 7mm.
  7.5mm .307 7.5x55 Swiss Schmidt-Rubin
.30 US 7.62mm .308 .30-06, .308 Winchester Ubiquitous!
.30 Euro 7.62mm .311 7.62x39, .303 British 7.62x39 is the world's most common centerfire military cartridge.
.30 Mauser 7.63mm .311 .30 Mauser Broomhandle Mauser.
.32 7.63mm .312 .32 ACP, .32 S&W  
  7.7mm .311 7.7 x58 Jap WWII Arisaka
.323 8mm .323 8x57 Mauser .325 WSM, 8mm Remington Magnum, 98 Mauser, et al.
.338 8.58mm .338 .338 Lapua, .338 Winchester Magnum, .338 Federal Becoming popular for counter-sniper rifles
.348 8.75mm .348 .348 Winchester  
.355 9mm .355 9mm Parabellum, .380 ACP  
.357 (".38") 9mm


.357 - .359

.38 S&W, .357 Magnum A ".38 S&W" is NOT 0.38"!
  9.22mm .363 9mm Makarov The Russians just have to be a little different.
.374 9.3mm .374 9.3x62 Mauser, 9.3x72 R  
.375 9.5mm .375 .375 H&H Magnum The world's most popular dangerous game cartridge
.400 10mm .400 .38-40, .40 S&W, 10 mm Auto A .38-40 is actually a .400
.41 10.25mm .410 .41 Magnum Sadly, fading away
".405" 10.25mm .411 .405 Winchester Misnamed, but a great cartridge
.408 10.4mm .408 .408 Chey Tac Based on the venerable .505 Gibbs case
.404 10.75mm .423 .404 Jeffery  
.41 Swiss 10.4mm



.41 Swiss / Vetterli The famous Vetterli cartridge
.416 10.6mm .416 .416 Barrett, .416 Rigby  
.43 11mm .430 .43 Spanish Remington Rolling Block
.44 10.8mm



.44 Special, .44 Magnum  
.45 11.45mm



.45 ACP, .45 Colt, etc.  
.454 11.53mm .454 .454 Casull Bear Medicine
.455 11.53mm .454 .455 Eley British revolvers, often reworked to fire .45 ACP.
".476" 11.53mm .454 .476 Enfield aka ".455/476". Named for its neck diameter
".450" 11.6mm .455 .450 Adams Yes, a ".450 Adams" had a bigger bullet than a ".455"
.458 11.6mm .458 .458 Winchester Magnum, .45-70 Big game rifle
.460 11.6mm .458 .460 Weatherby Actually a .458, but called a .460 for marketing
.475 12mm .475 .475 Linebaugh  
.480 12mm .475 .480 Ruger Actually .475" bore, but .480 sounds better
.500 12.7mm .500 .500 S&W Magnum Polar Bear Medicine
.50 12.7mm .510 .50 AE, .500 S&W, .50 Beowulf, .50 BMG, 12.7 x 108 mm, etc. More correctly, they are .51 caliber.
.505 12.8mm .505 .505 Gibbs African big game rifle
.577 14.5mm .570 .577 Snider British service rifle and carbine
"14.5mm" 14.88mm .586 14.5x114mm (PTRS-41) Light cannon, but there are now "sniper rifles" chambered in 14.5mm
.68 17.27mm



Nelspot Paintballs Paintball Markers
  20mm .787 20×102mm, etc. Light cannon
.950 24.13mm .950 .950 JDJ Based on the 20 x 102 mm Vulcan case
  30mm 1.18 30 x 113 mm, etc. Light cannon

As you can see, there are some amazing inconsistencies in cartridge designations. (See, for example, .405 Winchester and .38-40.) As Jim Keenan at the Firing Line Forums aptly put it: "It is usually best to just accept cartridge names; trying to figure out reasons for the names leads to insanity.")

One regular source of confusion in cartridge naming is whether "bore diameter" refers to the rifling land dimension versus rifling groove dimension. For example, most .303 British rifles have a land-to-land diameter of .303 and a groove-to-groove diameter of .311. So when you handload a ".303" cartridge, you actually use a .311 diameter bullet.

Specifications have also changed for a few types of ammunition. One example is the 8mm Mauser cartridge. Early production 8x57 rifles used 8.08 mm (.318 caliber) bullets, but the later guns used 8.2 mm (.323 caliber) bullets.

Now, on to the realm of shotguns, where life is simpler but there is still some minor confusion.

Common Production Shotgun Bores and Gauges in North America


Diameter, Inches

Diameter, Metric
Round Balls Per pound JWR's Comments
.410 .410 10.41mm 67.62 Not truly a "Gauge". (If it were, it would properly be a "67 Gauge")
28 Gauge .550 13.97mm 28 Uncommon gauge, loved by some quail and dove hunters
20 Gauge .615 15.63mm 20 Second most common gauge in the U.S. and Canada
16 Gauge .663 16.83mm 16 Fading in popularity
12 Gauge .729 18.53mm 12 The most common gauge in the U.S. and Canada
10 Gauge .775 19.69mm 10 Revived popularity, due to the mandate of lead-free shot for waterfowl hunting in the U.S.

Note that there are presently enormous revolvers being marketed that can fire both .45 Colt cartridges and .410 shotshells. (The Taurus "Judge" series.) I attribute the popularity of these revolvers to: A.) Ignorance of ballistics, and B). The unerring willingness of the American people to spend their money on impractical toys.

As I've mentioned numerous times in my knife articles, I like big knives. Big knives can accomplish more tasks than smaller knives can. And, in the case of using a fixed blade knife for survival purposes or military applications, I think bigger knives shine! However, keep in mind that, no single knife can accomplish all the tasks you may need a blade for. That's why I carry several knives, as well as having fixed blade knives with long blades, as well as shorter blades. There is no "do it all" knife - you need several.

If you are looking at a long-term survival situation, or you're in the military, and need a fixed blade knife that won't let you down, then take a close look at the Blackhawk Products, Nightedge. The Nightedge was designed by well-known custom knifemaker Allen Elishewitz, who lives in Texas. I reviewed one of Allen's custom folders some years back for and article in Knives Illustrated magazine. I was greatly impressed by the attention to detail. I've also reviewed some of the CRKT knives that they are producing in collaboration with Elishewitz. Again, all winners.

In my opinion, the Blackhawk Nightedge is one of the best fixed blade knives that Allen Elishewitz has designed. We're looking at a blade length of 5.9" - although it looks longer and acts like a longer blade. The late Col. Rex Applegate, whom I worked for, for three years and whom I had the pleasure of calling my friend, taught me a lot about knife and gun fighting. Applegate studied use of the knife during WWII along with William Fairbairn. Applegate and Fairbairn concluded that you needed a blade with a length of 6" in order to reach the vital organs in an enemy soldier. Well, the Nightedge is almost there with its 5.9" blade - close enough for government work, as they say.

I like stainless steel blades, especially in my part of Oregon, where we get a lot of rain. However, I believe carbon steel blades hold an edge longer than stainless blades do, and carbon steel blades are easier to re-sharpen in my humble opinion. The Nightedge has a blade made out of 1085C high-carbon tool steel - good stuff! And, the blade has a black epoxy finish to help protect it from the elements. It's also a full-tang blade - the thickness of the blade runs all the way through the handle, so it is very strong! Overall length of the knife is 10.9 inches.

The handle scales on the Nightedge are a thermoplastic rubber with textured panels for a sure grip under any conditions - the knife feels good, real good, in the hand. There is a slightly extended tang with a lanyard hole, should you wish to attach a lanyard. The sheath that is provided with the Nightedge is plastic-lined ballistic Nylon that is foliage green. The sheath can also be attached to a belt as well as web gear or MOLLE gear.

When I received my Nightedge, I noted that the blade wasn't very sharp. This was puzzling, as I've tested a number of Blackhawk blades and all came hair-popping sharp out of the box. I thought I would simply touch-up the blade on a pair of ceramic sticks. Nope, didn't happen. the edge geometry was all wrong on the blade. A quick e-mail to Laura Burgess who handles the PR for Blackhawk and a number of other companies, brought a quick reply. Blackhawk products wanted the sample back so they could examine the problem. Sure enough, for some reason, some of the Nightedge knives slipped through with the wrong edge grind on it. My sample was returned in short order, with the correct edge grind on it - shaving sharp. Blackhawk Products backs-up all their products, and when a mistake was made, they were fast to correct it - and admit it was a mistake on their part. I like that.

The Nightedge has a partially serrate edge towards the back of the blade, near the handle. Serrations can come in handy under any number of circumstances. However, Allen Elishewitz also provided a secondary edge edge on the top of the blade that is fully serrated for heavy draw cuts. Great idea! The unique grind on the blade also produces a reinforced point for extreme tip strength and penetration. There is also a built-in guard on the blade - where the blade joins the handle...it helps protect your hand from sliding onto the blade. the top guard has friction grooves for a secure grip of your thumb when using the fencing grip for knife fighting.

I used my sample knife for all kinds of tasks around my small homestead. I cut a lot of blackberry vines, and those are super-tough. I did some light chopping - even though this knife wasn't designed for it - it took care of the task just the same. I could easily cut all the poly rope with the serrated edge, too. If you've ever tried to cut poly rope or wet rope - you'll appreciate a knife with serrations.

Overall, the Nightedge is a great fixed blade knife. It's perfect for combat, as well as survival purposes. Can it handle all the things you'll through at it? No, of course not, no knife will. That's why you need several knives for various tasks, as I mentioned at the onset of this article. I would highly recommend the Blackhawk Products Nightedge to Survivalblog readers, and especially to military personnel. This knife has a full retail of $149.99. That is a good deal on a great knife, designed by a world famous knife designer, and produced at a price point that makes it affordable for many of us. If you were to have Allen Elishewitz custom make this knife for you, you'd probably be looking at a price around $1,000 or more.

Again, as I've written before, quality never comes cheap, then again, you want the best gear and equipment you can afford when you're looking at long-term survival. The Blackhawk collaboration with Elishewitz gives the consumer the opportunity to purchase a great design, at an affordable price. For further information, go to www.blackhawk.com for more information on this knife, and all their great products. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

After reading the recent SurvivalBlog article on “Keeping Your Communications Private” I went on eBay to see an endless variety of Flash drives that are very small and very camouflaged as to what they are. My wife and I will be going on a cruise later in the year and one of the cruise line’s suggestion is a flash drive to store copies of important documents.   I already do this for my BOB but I wanted something that we could carry that does not look like a flash drive. There were several options available at varying prices. I settled on purchasing a 2GB storage device that looks like a gift card/credit card and two that look like a leather wristbands. Naturally we will encrypt the information and put what ever programs might be needed to view the files, such as Open Office Portable and some sort of .pdf reader.   I read your post daily and enjoy them very much.   Thanks, - C.C. in East Texas

I am a QuickBooks consultant and bookkeeper. In this capacity,  I frequently need to transport a client's data files (In addition to my own records). I became concerned about the possibility of identity theft and my own liability. The elements of employee information contained in the typical data file is all the thief requires to create havoc.

For some years I used password protected SanDisk USB flash drives only to discover that the encryption/decryption required the host CPU and was vulnerable to hacking. (Later a team discovered that one didn't even need to hack the decrypt password but that's another story).

After more searching I found the Ironkey Personal. The entire device is encased in epoxy inside a sturdy metal shell. This makes it Mil Spec + waterproof and tamper proof as well as (if capped and not plugged into a port) EMP resistant. Encryption is achieved via an onboard chip which will self destruct (Mr. Phelps) after 10 unsuccessful password entries. This leaves the contents forever scrambled beyond any reasonable recovery. Many other features. I store  QuickBooks and Quicken data files on the device and run the applications on a machine addressing the files directly on the IronKey. As a result when I log off and detach the device the current files are securely stored on the IronKey with no trace on the client machine.

Check it out. It is seriously secure. - W.D.

You may recall Buckeye, Arizona, as the home of a couple of the fictional characters in my novel "Patriots". (They are also featured in the sequel, "Survivors", that will be released in October.) Here is a video that shows a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house built in 2006 currently on the market in Buckeye. Its price has dropped from $184,900 to just $39,900. Yikes!

Prepare for More Money Printing: Analyst

Reader G.P. suggested this from The Telegraph: The Bank of England's astonishing escape from the financial crisis.

SurvivalBlog's G.G. sent this: Time To Celebrate The Recovery: Food Stamp Usage Hits Fresh Record

Items from The Economatrix:

Fears Of Economic Slowdown Hammer Stocks

Signs Point to an Economy Growing More Slowly

Treasury Yields Reach 2011 Lows on Hiring Drop

Readers in Western Montana, northern Idaho and southern Alberta will find this of interest: There is a Flathead Preparedness Expo scheduled for Saturday, June 18, 2011, in Kalispell, Montana. Guest speakers will include Pastor Chuck Baldwin, Sheriff Richard Mack, and Stewart Rhodes.

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A reminder that your original preparedness articles and videos (including all that you send to SurvivalBlog for posting) are eligible for Safecastle's "Freedom Awards" contest, with $12,000 worth of prizes. SurvivalBlog's editors are pleased to participate in the judging in this contest.

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Apparently this bad guy missed seeing the movie "The Untouchables"... : Colorado Springs robber armed with knife foiled by handgun. ("Never bring a knife to gun fight.")

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D.S. flagged this: Protective Intelligence Lessons from an Ambush in Mexico

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From Steve M.: Innovative Hangar Home conceals garage mahal

"I think we're at the last days of the artificial interlude and we're going to be entering the real days." - David Stockman, Reagan era Budget Director. (Quoted on May 30, 2011)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 35 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 35 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In this age of continuing disregard for an individual’s privacy, it can be difficult to keep your communications private. Warrant-less phone taps, postal service mail tracking, RF scanners,  and random roadside searches will appear fairly tame once the strip-searches start at the mall. Of course, this is their goal but even non-government snoopers are out there scanning your ID, listening to your phone calls, and trying to hack into your email. Going somewhere? Who knows your schedule? Did someone overhear your plans? How can you know?

What has happened to our right to privacy? Many people today are so beaten by the system that they have clearly given up. I have heard some people comment that they have “nothing to hide”, and sometimes even welcome a search to prove it. They “don’t mind” giving up their rights. “Go ahead and listen to my phone calls. I have nothing to hide.” They sometimes question why you wouldn’t be willing to give up your rights. They will also most likely be the first ones in line for the free government shower program, too.

News, current events, family issues, reports of local happenings, detailed instructions, requests for aid; all these things and more may one day be kept from being reported by main stream methods.  Getting a message through several hands and ultimately delivered to your intended recipient will require trust and perhaps some old school methods. Some of these methods are discussed here, but I welcome comments and any ideas others may have.

Thumb Drives

On the high-tech side (from a low-tech guy) of privacy I have seen several products I think offer a higher level of security. Ironkey makes a flash memory "thumb" drive that near self destructs when someone other than intended tries to gain access to the info it holds. “The encryption chip self-destructs if an invasive attack is detected”.  Super Talent makes a flash drive dubbed the "Pico" that is so small it could be hidden almost anywhere on most anything.  The smallest flash drive could be hidden on a person or in a coat or even be delivered by homing pigeon. I have also seen a working, cigarette lighter/thumb drive that conjures up images of  trench coat-wearing strangers meeting at a train station in eastern Europe.  

Thumb drives can be used to relay private messages in several ways. The info can be encoded and transferred from laptop to laptop to its end user, or  the drive can be encrypted and delivered to the end user. They can be used as a “cyber dead-drop” by hiding and fixing them in relatively public places for multiple users to upload/download info to or from. A thumb drive set in mortar into a brick wall where someone with a laptop could conceivably plug-in, download the info, and continue on their way would be one such “cyber dead drop“.  All the time the thumb drive remains fixed in the wall. The internet has several very creative examples of thumb drive dead drops posted on Youtube. The greatest concern with using a thumb drive for private communications at dead drops would be infections from the “unknown” user.
The giveaway and ultimate end to all dead drops is “noticed activity” by an outsider. This would give the outsider the opportunity to download a virus to the thumb drive dead drop, effectively damaging everyone else

Hard Wired Field Phones

Anyone who has ever seen a surplus catalog knows what a military field telephone is. They are still available from many sources at reasonable prices. These phones were designed for military field operations and used between fixed or encamped bases. They were considered to be more secure than a regular phone system since the hard wire was point-to-point rather than through a switchboard where “others” might listen in. This is still the case. Your phone conversations, whether cellular or land-line-wired (or digital fiber optic), are readily listened to and easily monitored without your knowledge. Radio transmissions can be monitored as well. Having a secure phone from point-to-point is an excellent means to keep your communications private.

These field phones run off a dynamo and a battery and are also compatible with the old style Stromberg Carlson phones you find in antique shops. They will also work with fencing as the transmission wire! Few would suspect you had a private line to your neighbor or friends house if you used the existing fence wire or even just ran the phone wire in the fence. City dwellers have been know to run the direct phone wire through the sewer pipes as well. Some of these phones work with up to two miles of wire. We have several phones placed around the property at cabin locations to call guests to dinner or help take out the trash.

Dead Drops

Through the years, dead drops have been used with mixed results. The ultimate end to a specific dead drop comes when locals notice activity. With this in mind, a more remote dead drop might last longer.

Usually a sign is left for another to notice and know that there is something of interest at the dead drop. The sign could be a chalk mark on a post, an Irish flag flying in a garden, a potted plant moved to the other side of a porch or any number of unremarkable things commonly unnoticed.  The dead drop itself could be a hole in a tree, a hollowed out slat in a park bench, a cavity behind a loose brick in a warehouse or any other uncommonly known hiding place. It could also be a remote drop location such as a shallow hole dug 10 steps off a highway mile marker post. Some have used a 5 gallon pail with a screw top Gamma Seal Lid as a buried dead drop. Some are hidden in plain view in the middle of town and others are out on lonely roads.

Dead drops can be used for delivering messages or objects. They can also be used as a collective cache location for supplies. An excellent book that demonstrated the use of dead drops in difficult times is Treblinka by Chil Rajchman. In the book, several like-minded people knew of the dead drop’s location and borrowed items, as needed, from the dead drop, returning them clean, immediately after the use. In this way, a large group of people can gain the use of a very limited amount of tools, supplies or resources.

A series of dead drops can also be used to deliver messages and items great distances.

Coded Messages

Many books can be written about codes, ciphers and secret messages. Today, even with modern technology and a Captain Midnight Secret Decoder Ring some codes will never be broken. A relatively safe code system for private messages is one that uses a common book or books as a “key”. Make a list of five of your favorite books and then go out and buy two of each of them. Be sure the two-of-each are the same printing and edition. Double check them by randomly opening pages and seeing that the second book matches the first exactly. Number the books 1 to 5 on the inside of the back cover and give your friend one of the sets.  Boxed sets of books work well, too.

Hopefully all the words you expect to use in your message are contained within the 5 books you picked. Some of you may have to pick more technical books to get all the words you want included.

The message you send will look like a series of numbers that relate to the number of the book (1 through 5), the page the word is on, and the number of the word on that page.

Example: I find the word “safe” in book 2, page 37, and then I count the words on that page and find that “safe” is the 17th word on that page. The code would read: 2,37,17 for the word “safe”.  

This type of code system makes for short and to the point messages but certainly private communication between only those who have the key books.
The great thing about this code system is that everyone has books and you can use books by anyone you choose; Steven King, Tom Clancy or even James Wesley, Rawles.

[JWR Adds: To minimize the chance of having a book code broken, it is best to buy two copies of some obscure "remainder" novel from the bargain table at Barnes & Noble--not a best-selling book, or any book that is associate with an"cause"!]

Coded messages like this can also be sent by any method you choose including radio and phone after the SHTF.

This type of code system can also be employed by Mutual Assistance Groups (MAGs) when communication privacy is of utmost importance.

Keeping your communications private will prove to be more and more difficult as bureaucrats look for new ways to use the new and intrusive technology that continues to develop. Older, low-tech methods of communication may have to be used when privacy is your biggest concern.

A secure communications network is impossible without trustworthy and like-minded people. The greatest tool in private communication is a network of trustworthy people. Finding and developing such a network is not an easy task and will become much more difficult to do after an economic, political, or societal collapse. Whom do you trust?

The Economatrix recently posted this article link: Welcome to Debtor's Prison, 2011 Edition. I've read others like it and I feel compelled to comment.  In most states in the union someone cannot be sentenced to jail merely for owing money to someone else.  But in some states, you can, when it comes to child support and alimony. In these cases, a judgment creditor (spouse) can almost literally take the shirt off your back (even in my pro-debtor Texas) and send you to jail, sometimes facing felony charges.

If you read the article carefully, you will see that despite the use of terms like "debt related warrants" and "exploiting the court system", what these people have been jailed for is contempt of court for ignoring court orders to appear.  

When someone wins a judgment against someone else, the plaintiff has a number of collection tools available to him.  As an example, Interrogatories in Aid of Judgment consist of a lengthy series of written questions that must be answered by the defendant - questions about his assets, savings, etc.  These and other documents can be served on the defendant and he must answer them.  If he does not, the judgment plaintiff can file a motion with the court to hold the defendant in contempt.  At that point the court will order the defendant to appear at a contempt hearing and if that order is ignored, the judge will issue a warrant.  And why not?  The defendant has essentially thumbed his nose at the court!  

About one of the jailed defendants the story said, "Mr. Stearns said he never got the summons or two orders to show up before a judge that a deputy sheriff said in court filings were delivered to him."  

Are we really to believe that a sheriff's deputy has lied on three different occasions about successfully serving the same person?  I'm not buying it.  There is absolutely no advantage to the deputy in lying about such a thing.  I think this guy was served and simply thought he could ignore it.  Once jailed he made the only claim he could that wouldn't involve admitting guilt:  he said he was never served.  

One could debate this subject all day long but folks who win in court deserve to get paid - or at least deserve to be able to determine to their satisfaction that the defendant simply can't pay - and inability to pay isn't a crime.  Remember that it's not just evil credit card companies and predatory lenders seeking to be paid:  It could be any one of us who was wronged by a rip-off mechanic or contractor (I've had to sue someone before).  

The bottom line for your readers (and these days it might affect more than a few of them):  Don't ignore anything from a court!  You will not go to jail for an inability to pay a debt no matter what the amount or who it is owed to.  You will go to jail for contempt if you ignore an order to provide information or to obey a summons!  - Matt R.

Reader John T. sent a link to some ominous commentary by Bob Moriarty about derivatives: The Ticking Time Bomb

Horror for US Economy as Data Falls off Cliff

G.P. suggested this by Bob Chapman: The Euro-Debt Crisis: Greece, Portugal, Spain. The Debts are Unpayable. Once the Lending Stops the Bottom Falls Out.

Casey in Arizona mentioned a recent piece by Michael Panzner, over at his excellent Financial Armageddon blog: Easy Way Out.

Mac Slavo: “America Will Be Dismembered By Its Creditors”

77,000 federal workers paid more than governors. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

G.G. sent this by Puru Saxena: Endless Quantitative Easing

I often have consulting clients and SurvivalBlog readers ask me for recommendations on architects and design engineers that specialize in designing retreats. I strongly recommend Andrew L. Skousen. (In case you are wondering, yes, he's related to Joel Skousen.) Feel free to mention my name when you contact Andrew. BTW, Joel Skousen and Andrew Skousen co-authored the recently-updated 3rd Edition of the book Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places. This book is a modern-day classic in the preparedness world. It is chock full of maps and useful data for anyone considering buying a retreat property. I highly recommend it. You can look for a full review of this book in SurvivalBlog sometime in the next couple of weeks.

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The folks from The Survival Bunker in Kalama Washington (near Portland, Oregon) contacted me, to let me know that they are transforming into an online only (eBay) retailer and we will be shutting down their brick and mortar store in Kalama on June 18th, 2011. They wrote: "We are having an inventory reduction sale, 10% off everything in the store, except silver items. Come in and stock up on some great gear! If you are local and you purchase from me on Ebay, select the 'Local Pickup' option to save on the shipping charges." The store is located at 447 N. First Street, Kalama, Washington. 

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Deadly virus hits horse circuit--Competitions canceled, millions at stake as herpes variant spreads in West

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Anyone interested in cane or stick fighting self-defense should check out Cane Masters. They sell both custom canes and instructional DVDs.

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File Under 'D.C. Beltway Logic Vacuum': DNC Chair: Republicans Believe Illegal Immigration 'Should be a Crime'. (God forbid a crime should be called a crime...)

"What we’ve got right now is almost near panic going on with money managers and people who are responsible for money. They can not find a yield and you just don’t want to be putting your money into commodities or things that are punts that might work out or they might not depending on what happens with the economy... ...We’re on the verge of a great, great depression. The [Federal Reserve] knows it. We have many, many homeowners that are totally underwater here and cannot get out from under..." - Peter Yastrow, market strategist for Yastrow Origer, June 1, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest - Round 34 Winners Selected

First Prize goes to J.B. in Montana for Preparing Kids for Disasters, posted on May 28th. He will receive: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate is 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize goes to Bryan R. for A Guide to Chemical Warfare Preparation, posted on May 24th. He will receive: 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 CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: goes to "Notutopia" for How to Winnow, De-Hull, and Clean Your Own Home-Grown Grains, posted on May 6th. She will receive: 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.

Honorable Mention Awards: The writers of the 14 following articles will each receive a $30 Amazo.comn gift certificate, via e-mail:

Note to the prize winners: Please let me know your e-mail addresses for the Amazon.com gift certificates. (Those will be sent via e-mail.) I'll also need both the USPS and UPS addresses for the top three prize winners.

Today we also present the first entry for Round 35 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will be identical to those in Round 34.

Round 35 ends on July 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.

Twenty years ago a friend of mine came to me and said I should be buying silver. He took the time to show me what he’d bought with a small inheritance he’d received that year: 900 troy ounces of silver rounds. He packed them up in a couple of .50 cal. ammo cans and  spent the next 20 years moving them around [buried caches in] his back yards. Back then he paid something under $4 per ounce for an investment total of under $3,600. Twenty some years ago I had at least a hundred other things I could have done with $3,600, let alone buy silver. Twenty some years later I find that I wish I had taken his advice earlier.

It took some time, but I finally got around to buying silver. I was at a truck stop in the mid-west and saw a case with one-troy-ounce silver medallions for sale (we always speak in terms of troy ounces when talking silver or gold). They were priced at $19 each and I went ahead and purchased ten of them without any real consideration. I had heard a few news stories about silver going up in price and thought it was convenient to get them.

After buying the silver rounds I went online to learn silver was trading at $14.58/oz (spot price). This didn’t make me feel real good at the time; thinking that I paid too much. After doing some research I learned that I could buy online from silver brokers and get silver for just 50 cents over spot price if I purchased 50 ounces or more at a time. So I went ahead and set up a trading account, locked in my price, sent my check overnight, and bought some silver through the broker. This was an interesting experience for me.  I have spent a lot of money through online sales before but not like this. The silver I bought must not have even been mined yet. It took 10 weeks before it was delivered to me. That was a long ten weeks. It wasn’t that I was not told about the 8-10 week shipping time up front; I was told. It was more that I was out a chuck of money with nothing but a big promise that the silver would be delivered to me.

The way this works is that, with the extra time involved, I was also given an opportunity to sell the silver back to the broker at a higher price (if silver had gone up in value). As it happened, silver did go up in value but I wanted the silver in my hands for a long term investment.

This is only one of the ways you can buy physical silver. I say physical silver in that I have the actual silver in my hands. It is not just a piece of paper that says I own silver that is in a vault somewhere else for safe keeping. I have it with me at home and I like it that way. After trying the broker method of buying silver I decided to look for silver locally.

Reputable silver dealers will price their silver based on what is called the “spot” price. Commonly they will then add a “premium” to the spot price which represents their profit on the trade. The “spot” price can be found in many places online and can change minute by minute depending on what the demand for silver is worldwide. Premiums can change as well, depending on how much the dealer actually paid for the silver he is selling you. If the price of silver went down several dollars an ounce after he bought silver, he would likely raise his premium to cover the loss. If silver went up just after his purchase, he might keep his premium low. Dealers also can give lower premiums to higher volume buyers.

As I'm writing this, the silver spot price is $37.99. This is a good deal more than the $4/oz my friend wanted me to buy in at. His $3,600 investment is now at about $34,000! Not a bad backyard investment.

When buying physical silver or gold let you “fingers do the walking” and do an online search for coin dealers in your area. I have found that coin dealers and jewelers are good places to find silver bullion. If you were to do a web search “silver bullion”, or “coin dealers“  in your area (largest city near you) you’d find several places to call.

When making a phone call to the coin shop it would be best to know what the current “spot” price was before you call. Look it up online first. Call the dealer and ask him if he has any silver bullion on hand. He might ask you how much you were looking for since he bases his premium on volume as well as spot price. Know how much you want to buy before you call. He may have 1, 5, 10, or even 100 ounce rounds/bars for sale. Know what you want before you call.  Ask him flat out what his premium is for 20 ounces (or what ever you are ready to buy). He’ll tell you per ounce what he charges as a premium. Ask him if he charges sales tax on the exchange. Know that you can buy 1 or any number of ounces of silver at a time. Don’t fret over not being a “big” customer. These dealers are happy to have new customers no matter what size they are. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how he prices his silver but try to ask them all over the phone rather than at his shop.

Call several dealers and ask the same questions. Soon you’ll know which one has the best deal for you. Don’t waste time. Tell him when you’ll be in and ask him to hold the silver for you. Don’t miss this appointment! Get in there with cash money and do the deal.

It is important to note that some areas charge sales tax on silver sales. When you meet with the dealer, he will be able to tell you the local rules/laws. I have found that in some areas of the country, if you buy over $1,000 of silver or gold bullion there is no tax. Some dealers also understand that our Constitution allows for silver and gold bullion as currency and when I go into a shop, I state that I want to do a currency exchange: i.e.; $400 Federal Reserve Notes in exchange for 10 ounces of silver. This is in effect the same as walking into the gas station and asking for change for a newspaper machine. These dealers (those who understand our Constitution) do not charge a tax on the exchange. Note that a “sale” might require a tax but a “currency exchange” may not. [JWR Adds: Many states exempt bullion sales from sales taxes. Be sure to research your state's laws.]

Also, it is worth noting that while these dealers want new customers, they are not looking for new distractions in their shops. The first thing you will notice when you arrive is that there are bars on the doors and windows. Some of the shops I have been to require the shopkeeper to “buzz” me in through his security door. Controlled access is a must for this type of business. His attention must be on the transaction to prevent mistakes or theft. The busier the shop, the less time he will have to chit-chat. These are not a real chatty businesses.

If you follow these simple rules you’ll be his best new customer.

Know the “spot” price as of that day.
Know what you want ahead of time.
Have an alternative in mind in case he doesn’t have what you want.
Bring cash money. No credit cards. No ATM cards. No checks.
Call ahead and tell him what you want and when you’ll be there.
Keep your appointment.
Ask to do a currency “exchange”. (Results will vary)
Go in, complete the deal, and leave.

He will remember you as a no-nonsense customer and it will show on follow up visits.

I have been buying silver and gold now for about 18 months. I started with 1 oz rounds and have since moved into 10 oz bars. It is all personal preference.
There is only one rule: Buy it and take it home. [JWR Adds: Don't trust promises of bonded vault storage. Nothing beats taking delivery and well hidden at-home storage.] Sometimes I buy just a few ounces and other times I have bought 10, 20, or even 100 ounces at a time. Sometimes the dealer doesn’t have what I want and I buy gold instead. I have some US Silver Eagles and some generic rounds from various private mints. As for gold, I do have the opinion that 1/10th oz US Gold Eagles are the only way to go.

If silver and gold bullion go to where even some mainstream economists are stating, I am not sure what I’d be purchasing with a $10,000 gold coin but I can see using a $1,000 gold coin. For this reason I am only