August 2011 Archives

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I just heard from my editor at Penguin Books that they've started an additional printing of my nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". This 12th press run will be another 28,000 copies, bringing the total to 175,000 copies of the U.S. edition in print. When I last checked, it was still ranked around #750 overall, and #80 among reference books, on Amazon. That is not bad for a book that has been in print for two years.

Thanks for spreading the word and making the book one of Penguin's bestsellers. I am hopeful that both the book and this blog are helping families to get better prepared.


Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I don’t remember how I stumbled on  I had a sense that things were going very wrong and I guess it was just a matter of clicking links that led me to this site.  I found a treasure trove of information on prepping, and a world of like-minded folks who shared my sense that something wicked this way comes.  SurvivalBlog helped me get organized in my thinking, and introduced me to prepping concepts I was unfamiliar with.  I have invested a lot of time and money preparing for WTSHTF.  One area I am weak in, however, is experience.  I read over and over how you need to get in shape (I joined a gym), and train and develop skills and put them to practice before you need them.  It was because of this that I decided to try my hand at my first, real garden.
This Spring, I ordered some seeds – both heirloom and modern hybrid varieties.  I put the heirloom seeds in storage and planned to grow the hybrids, since I was really most interested in the gardening experience.  My family likes squash, zucchini and corn, so that’s what I got.  I was also going to grow tomatoes, but planned on getting small plants from the local big box garden center once the weather was predictably decent.  I also order three blueberry bushes.  I figure at $3 per cup at the grocery, having a few bushes will pay off.  I started my seeds in empty egg cartons filled with potting soil, after pricking a few holes in the bottom of each dimple with a toothpick for drainage.  And drain they did, all over our countertop.  The potting soil I got was the consistency of pillow stuffing, with copious amounts of small Styrofoam beads; water ran through it like a sieve.  After a quick cleanup the egg cartons went on a desk with the carton tops underneath to catch the drainage.  Within a few days there were little shoots coming up – yeah! I can’t tell you how proud I was of those little things, showing my wife and daughter and thinking to myself that this gardening this was going to be a piece of cake.   A few days more under a fluorescent desk lamp and my seedlings were really taking off, so much so, I was worried that they may beat the reliable weather I was waiting on.  On about the 10th day, the seedlings, who were stretching toward desk lamp, became a bit lanky and began leaning over.  A day later and they were all falling over, apparently from growing too tall and having too shallow roots, and took on a decidedly less healthy appearance.
Thinking my shallow egg cartons and Styrofoam soil may be to blame, I went out and bought some paper “Dixie” cups and transplanted the seedlings.  I made a mix of potting mix with real dirt from my yard, with a little “wonder grow” mixed in.  This fortified soil was sure to give my fledgling plants the boost they now so visibly needed.  After a few days, it was clear that the seedlings weren’t feeling or looking any better.  Some had begun to die off and others still just wanted to fall over.  My wax paper cups were also soft and beginning to grow mold on the bottoms.  Something had obviously gone wrong, so I chucked out the whole lot, went and bought some 8 ounce plastic party cups and started all over.  This time I started some corn along with the zucchini and squash, and within a week, I was back in business with seedlings.  And in another week I was back out of business with sick plants, except for the corn which had just started to sprout well and seemed okay.  I was wondering about the greenness of my thumbs and decided just to go buy some starter plants at the local Wally World.
Finally it was time to prepare my garden bed.  I marked out a 10’ x 10’ space and began to strip perfectly good sod off my yard.  Stripping sod with a shovel put my out of shape body to the test (I had not yet joined the gym), but digging up hard Kentucky clay was a killer.  I started asking around to borrow a rototiller, but most friends my age were not into gardening and I found only one person with a 20 year old, 150 pound tiller that hadn’t been started in a long, long time.  I decided to suck it up and do it manually.  Thank God for Aleve.  Kentucky clay is just one step above concrete and is practically sterile.  I knew it wouldn’t make for a good garden, so I went and bought 4 bags of peat moss, four bags of composted manure and four bags of something they called “top soil” although it looked like 40% dirt, 30% sand and 30% finely chopped twigs.  I now regretted not borrowing the 20 year old tiller as I chopped clods of clay and mixed it with the amendments I had dumped on my 100 square foot plot.  After a couple days of this, my muscles were sore and I was thinking longingly about the produce section of my local grocer.
Time to plant.  Zucchini, squash and tomato seedlings went in the ground.  I was unsure of the spacing of the corn, but some local fields look tightly planted so I did a grid of plants around 16 inches apart.  A good watering with the hose and my garden looked young, fresh and off to a good start.  I planted the blueberries along the fence.  Each night after I came home from work, I would go out and water my garden, admiring the plants that were beginning to take off.  Maybe this gardening thing would be easy now that the back breaking remediation of my worthless dirt was done.  No such luck.  One morning, I was shocked to discover that something, probably rabbits, had started gnawing the leaves of my toddler plants.  A couple looked like “goners” but I left them in the ground.  I had seen rabbits occasionally, but was counting on my fence and dogs to keep them out.  They continued to sample from my garden buffet until I started sprinkling dog hair around the plants.  I had heard this trick somewhere and didn’t know if it would work, but it really seemed to help.  To my surprise, the “goner” plants recovered.
The combination of the fertilizer and near daily watering did wonders for the zucchini.  In no time, the plants, which I had set about two feet apart, were bumping into each other and continuing to grow like crazy.  In a few more days, they were crowding each other and forming a near impenetrable canopy of leaves.  They grew tall, too, so much so that when I watered them, they would lay over.  I was concerned about damaging them, but by morning they were all perky and tall again.  My tomatoes, on the other hand, were giving me trouble.  A couple of the plants had leaves that were curling up and generally looking strange.  I web searched “tomato leaf curl” and it said something about over watering and cool weather, but said it was generally harmless.  It wasn’t.  The leaves continued to twist and curl and the plant now took on a decidedly mutated look, as if it had been exposed to radiation or chemical contamination.  I decided to cut my losses and pulled them, replacing them with fresh plants from the big box store.  I had staked the tomatoes that weren’t mutating, but within a few weeks, they had grown above the stake and had begun to slump over.  I didn’t have a taller stake so I just let them slump.  The main stem looked twisted, but the plant survived and did produce.  My blueberry’s leaves have turned red as if it were a maple tree in the fall.  Another web search and I find they probably need something to acidify the soil, so I bought a bag for $8.
My zucchini had begun producing, and boy did it produce.  The warm weather and frequent watering was causing fruit to grow fast.  If I didn’t harvest it frequently, a too small to pick zucchini would become too big in just a couple of days.  The squash plants looked healthy, but weren’t setting any fruit yet, although they did have blooms.  My corn wasn’t as high as an elephants eye yet, but it was looking good.  Finally, I had reached the stage where the garden was doing what gardens were supposed to do.  All I had to do was keep picking zucchini and wait for the other crops to produce their yield.  Did I mention that four plants produce a lot of zucchini?  By this time, we’re realizing we aren’t as in to zucchini as we thought, and I’m also getting lax in checking the garden which results in enormous fruits.  I pick one that’s nearly two foot long and probably weighs 4 or 5 pounds.  My wife suggests I consider entering zucchini in the state fair.  Some squash is beginning to come on, but it’s the bumpy kind, which has tougher skins and we don’t like as much.  The blueberry leaves are now greening up and looking healthier, although they haven’t grown a single inch that I can tell.
One morning I look out at the garden and note that the plants aren’t looking as vibrant as they had.  Upon inspection, the combination of planting them too close and watering them too often has led to a mildew forming.  By this time, I ‘m sick of zucchini and don’t care.  The corn has ears big enough to harvest and we take about a dozen ears.  We love fresh corn and can’t wait to boil and butter them.  As we shuck it, we notice that many of the kernels haven’t formed, while others are not in neat rows and have a somewhat “mutated” look; being larger than normal.  Out of the dozen ears, two look perfect – store quality – and we cut the others to come up with a good batch of corn.  I notice that fresh corn is selling three for a dollar at Wal-Mart, but I am in this for the experience and our corn did taste really fantastic.  From stalk to table was less than an hour – talk about fresh!  Still, in the back of my mind I’m thinking about all the time and effort that went into producing about four dollars’ worth of corn.  One of my blueberry plants produces three, yes three, blueberries.  They still are not growing despite healthy foliage.
By this time, I’m not as excited about the garden and have started letting God water it on His schedule.  The peat moss I brought in had some type of pernicious viney grass that is now spreading out into my yard.  I have to pull it up with a rake and still it spreads.  The mildew is really affecting the squash and zucchini now and my wife is suggesting I “clean up” my garden.  I go out to take a look and the plants are now overrun with some type of flat little bugs.  I won’t be harvesting anything further from these plants.  My corn, which hasn’t had constant watering, is showing some stress now.  Weeds are rampant through my little patch as I have lost interest in pulling them every doggone day.  I discover one of my blueberries had dried up an died – oops.  I forgot about that one since it was in a different part of the yard.  The bent over tomato plant is producing, but some kind of bug is boring holes in many of the tomatoes.  My other tomato plants aren’t doing well; I think the lack of daily watering has shocked them.  I really don’t have any idea why they aren’t doing well, they just aren’t.  A friend at work is bringing huge tomatoes to work to give to people.  Mine (those that haven’t been eaten by bugs) are small and often cracked.  The two surviving blueberry plants still haven’t grown an inch, but they are nice and leafy and green.  Alas, neither has produced any berries.
What’s the moral of my story?  I’ve learned a lot about just how hard it is to grow food.  It was toilsome, sweaty manual labor just to get the ground ready.  A back yard full of compressed subdivision clay does not lend itself to gardening.  Rabbits, mildew, bugs all got their share of the produce.  I got a few pounds of squash, too much zucchini, a few decent tomatoes (so far), a dozen ears of corn and three blueberries.  I used a bit of 10-10-10 fertilizer and no pesticides.  What we ate was delicious.  Everything I got could be bought at the store for maybe $20.  I invested more than that in compost and peat moss.  Still, it was fun (at first) and I know more about gardening than I did in April.  If you think you are going to turn your backyard into a post-TEOTWAWKI farm, you are mistaken. 

I am a suburbanite, not a farmer.  Becoming proficient at growing crops is not something you can just luck in to.  Will I grow a garden next year?  I don’t know, probably some corn again.  I really would like to grow plants that come back every year, like my blueberries, blackberries or maybe a fruit tree.  I’m a little discouraged.  This is a lot harder than it looks.

Mr. Rawles,
I am in northwest N.J. I wasn't affected as badly by the hurricane as others were, but I did learn a few lessons about my preparedness.

1. Inspect your gear on a regular basis. I live on a dead-end street, and the road goes over a country stream, which flows underneath through a 2-foot culvert with a paved berm built over the top of it. Yesterday, that country stream became a 40-foot wide river about 10 inches deep and flowing rapidly over the road surface. To get across that, I got out my waders -- and discovered that mice had chewed some holes in them. They were still usable for getting through that water, but I can never use them again to go fishing. P.S.: inspect one's bug-out bag regularly; also inspect food storage containers, including the back side and the bottom, to ensure they haven't been compromised. I plan on doing this once a month going forward.

2. Mindset change: don't skimp on temporary arrangements. I have lots of supplies for preparedness, but when the situation is going to be temporary -- for example, power will be out for 6 or 8 hours, instead of multiple days -- one thinks, "I don't really want to drag out (gear, supplies, etc.) to set up, only to have to clean and put away everything tomorrow." Wrong attitude. If you need light, set yourself up to have plenty of light. If you need an alternative cooking arrangement, set it up. Not only does it fix your mindset, but it gives you good opportunities to (a) train in "actual" survival, (b) test/inventory your stuff, and (c) train yourself in expedient setup/breakdown of your gear.

3. You never have enough light. Have a candle (safe to burn unattended) or other light in each room you'll be using, multiple lights in any room or space where you'll be spending most of your time or doing any kind of work, and always have a light source that you can carry with you at all times. For the last, I like a Petzl headband lamp. If it's too uncomfortable to wear continuously, it fits easily in your pocket.

4. A fully charged laptop is a great tool to recharge your cell phone or smart phone during power outages. More: I got (and was able to give) lots of information with a smart phone during an extended power outage.

5. Perform (or augment) your preps at least two seasons ahead of time. Start stocking up winter items during the summer and vice versa. Not only will you be more prepared, but you're likely to find better prices.

6. Change your fuel. I have a 2-gallon gas can that I use only for my chainsaw. When I was getting ready for the hurricane, I realized that the gas in the can had been in there for 2 or 3 years, so I had to get rid of it (my mechanic took it) and get some fresh gas. New rule I've implemented: first weekend of the month, I will empty the gas can into my car and refill it with fresh gas. Not only does it keep the gas fresh, but it ensures that I have 40-50 miles of emergency driving stored in a can in my garage.

7. Use your batteries. How many people stock up on batteries, rarely use them ... and then discover, when the batteries are needed, that the expiration date was 6 years ago? In my experience, such batteries still work but have a markedly decreased useful life.

8. Set up some supplies/gear explicitly for temporary, "expected" emergencies. For example, if you know from past experience that you will always see at least one summer power outage lasting for 3 days, set up a specific section of gear for that situation. That way, you don't have to go through everything -- in the dark, no less -- saying, "I need (this) from the pantry, and (this) from the downstairs gear locker, and (this) from my under bed storage." Have one shelf set aside for "summer power outage" in this example

9. Do training scenarios to review your preparedness. Say to yourself "There's a hurricane forecast for 4 days from now" or "Forecasters are seeing a blizzard occurring 3 days from now." Where am I deficient? What supplies do I need to restock? What outdoor preps (clean gutters, clear dead tree limbs, secure gear from wind, etc.) do I need to accomplish prior to that emergency? Not only is this good training -- but if you write it down, you author a prep manual to which you can refer and that you can use to instruct others.

10. Charge anything that can be charged the night before. Cell/smart phones are handy for emergency communication (presuming the comm networks aren't knocked out). Laptops enable you to do some work. A portable car starter battery can be used for its intended purpose or it can run an inverter. If everything's charged before the emergency hits, your peace of mind is a little better. I've made this a mandatory "day-before-the-emergency" prep.

11. Get more money. This one is presenting difficulty for me. Like many readers of your blog, I have been struggling financially for several years -- you probably remember that I've commented a couple of times on this topic. I've done, I think, a pretty good job of preparing on a very limited budget. But there are some things, pricier preps, on which you can't skimp: you either pony up or you do without. For example, I'm in a pretty good position on food and water but deficient on quality hand tools, fuels, and durable clothing (and I'd love to have one of those Berkey filters!). I can't magically make the prices go down, so my only option is to generate more cash and then purchase as wisely as my budget permits. Have to explore this further, as I'm already working two jobs, 7 days a week, just to survive.

One positive reflection: someone asked me a few days ago, "What are you doing to prepare for the hurricane?" Other than gassing up the car, cleaning the gutters, and filling the aforementioned gas can, I didn't need to do or purchase anything.

One other note for preppers: don't ever let anyone get away with calling you a "hoarder." There is an important distinction: Preppers stock up 12 weeks or 12 months before an emergency; but people who stock up just 12 hours before the situation are the hoarders.

Best, - J.C.


Living on the east coast, Hurricane Irene was a concern. However, I wanted to share the wonderful sense of already being prepared (much thanks to your wonderful site). I called the wife and asked what I needed to pick up, she said: "nothing." It was truly heartening to be able to drive past the crowded parking lots as the hordes swamped the supermarkets as the week progressed. Naturally I filled the fuel tank and extra gasoline cans. We had
minimal damage, trees and limbs down, and the power stayed on. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who were not so fortunate. - Ken


Good Day JWR,
I live and work in the people’s socialist republic of Neu Jersey, in the Central Region less than five miles from the Atlantic Ocean (the way the crow flies).  Being a prepper and working in the law enforcement field at a major penitentiary, I was in tune to what was going on from the initial projections.  Thursday and Friday before Hurricane Irene hit we were in statewide video conference after video conference.  All the figure heads were running around like a chicken without a head.  Each time one of them would ask me a stupid question; I would smirk and say something smart like “had you been paying attention to me over the last four years, we wouldn’t be in this situation now”.  To make a long story short, a smaller correctional facility in the Southern Region had to evacuate all 1,500 inmates – because they were housed in trailers.  Obviously that wouldn’t stand up to well to the more than 75mph winds.  In the end, all were successfully transported out with much fanfare, then returned with no bells and whistles today.  But, all department resources were dedicated to that effort – meaning the other dozen or so institutions were on our own.
We moved over 100 minimum security inmates out of our outlying camp and into the main facility Visiting Hall because they were housed in trailers.  We moved two of our medium security housing unit dormitories (another 100 inmates) inside the main complex to the Gymnasium due to the flooding.  Thankfully our food service staff had stockpiled approximately half a week’s worth of food and water and our maintenance staff was on site fixing damages that could be repaired in the storm.  Uniformed custody staff were held over (most volunteering due to the shortage of overtime in the last two years under Governor Christie) and the institution was run on an abbreviated schedule with no mishaps or problems other than a temporary power loss from outside the facility; which was counter acted by our in house generators.
On the personal front, I was dismayed at the Governor declaring a state of emergency on Thursday at noon.  Friday the major highways were shut down and nobody allowed South bound of certain points.  This was not due to a reverse lanes evacuation strategy.  Christie was on television over and over telling everyone and anyone it was a “mandatory evacuation” and that they better leave now.  Local police and fire and emergency medical services all went on abbreviated response postures.  Most followed FEMA guidelines that more than a 40 mph sustained wind equaled no emergency response.  Some municipalities established curfews.  Some emergency services ignored the FEMA response guidelines and ‘eyeballed’ the current conditions before determining if they would respond immediately or wait for better weather.  Regardless, the call volume significantly curtailed once the real storm front came into play.
During the tropical storm, there were/are many areas without power.  The typical areas subject to regular flooding are of course flooded.  Other areas not usually flooded had also experienced flooding.  We lost our cable service, thus no television, telephone, or Internet/E-Mail was working for about 24 hours.  Supposedly our telephone had battery backup for just such an instance, but that obviously was not the case.  Security problems would not have been an issue for us, but an actual serious fire or medical emergency would have been a problem.  Our cellular telephones never lost service, but had it gone on for a few days we would have been up the creek without a paddle.  Note to self: maintain at least ‘old fashioned’ Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) with at least one handset in the home for just such occasions.  If electrical power goes down, POTS still works.
My wife finally decided on Friday evening to go to the supermarket to pick up last minute things.  Surprise, surprise, the shelves were bare.  She works for a grocery store chain and came home Wednesday and Thursday and again on Friday stating this store and that store were closing and canceling deliveries.  Some are still closed as of this Monday evening due to no power.  While I have some food stores squirreled away and wasn’t really concerned, she most certainly was.  I used the moment as a teaching aid and informed her that this is the reason why I have been preaching regularly adding to the cupboards and pantry whenever non-perishable items are on sale.  Of course she never took me up on it, stating ‘yeah, right’ and the like.  So now I told her that she and the kids would not go hungry as I had plenty of MREs available and that now perhaps she would heed my suggestions.  She was praying this would get over quickly as MREs were not looking very appetizing to her.  Bottom line, store shelves were bare and were not getting restocked anytime soon.

Nursing Homes and group homes were evacuated in Southern New Jersey.  They sent them up to the Central and Northern Regions.  Rutgers University in New Brunswick put over 400 residents in two gymnasiums and the Mennen Arena in Morris County housed another 500 or so residents.  These were all moved by about 50 ambulances from Pennsylvania in on mutual aid compacts.  Likewise, the New Jersey Disaster Medical Assistance Teams was already deployed to North Carolina and the New Jersey EMS Task Force was deploying 100 ambulances to Virginia.  Apparently under FEMA edict, state resources cannot deploy to their own state in a disaster?  That sounded odd, but that's what I was told.  The problem was there was not enough medical staff to go around, and the few who traveled with the 'convoys' were "not allowed" to assist other homes' patients.  I am filing these little tidbits as well into my memory just in case I ever have to put a relative in a nursing or group home.  It was great that they were evacuated, but what was to be their fate upon reaching the evacuation center?
Locally, my town suffered numerous power outages killing street lights and snarling traffic after the storm.  Many homes were flooded and had to be evacuated.  Many stores and houses still do not have power, a friend only six blocks away was told they’ll be lucky to have power back by the next weekend.  The fire department is running around to numerous building foundation collapse calls.  Public Works is cutting down felled trees and big branches are being removed.  Sanitation is back on a normal schedule.  The police must be working beau coup overtime because most major intersections have officers directing traffic as the street lights were out.  We had battened down our hatches and secured all outside furniture and toys and the like on Friday so we had no major concerns other than perhaps some water leakage into the basement.  We didn’t even have that.  Other than our cable issue, we never lost power and had no other problems to speak of.  Being a prepper had us well ahead of the learning curve both at home and work.  While everyone was scrambling around like crazy, I was sitting back smoking a cigar and drinking a scotch.
Keep up the great work you do in keeping us informed and providing thought provoking topics to read and learn.
Sincerely, - The Last N.J. Conservative

Mr Rawles,
I'm not sure if you heard this news out of Pennsylvania but the Cabela's at Hamburg was discounting generators by $180 due to public need.  I could be sinister and think they made more off sales from survival supplies to make up the difference, but they did go ahead and ship all available generators from across the country to the east coast.  I think this is a stand up company and they will get more of my business.
Thank you for your time. - Bradley A.

The piece that you linked to was simply copied from GizMag. (They did so with credit, as if that makes it okay.) It looks like is one of those sites that uses stolen blog posts to get hits for ads.

The technology itself is a scam under a thin veneer of science. Their "20W" figure is about three orders of magnitude too high, for one thing. That figure describes all of the energy losses in walking, including the energy losses inside muscles and joints and the energy that goes into warming the surface under the shoe. The part that goes into the shoe itself is probably somewhere around 5% to 15% of that, or 3W at most for both shoes.  You've probably heard of the Carnot efficiency limit, which shows that small differences in temperature are very difficult to use as a source of power. Near body temperature, each degree of difference allows about 0.35% of conversion efficiency, so the tiny amounts of thermal energy they're proposing to convert, which normally cause your shoes to be a few degrees warmer than they'd otherwise be, can be converted to electricity at a maximum theoretical efficiency of maybe one or two percent. Much less, of course, after being processed by any real mechanism. 

So starting with maybe a few watts of thermal energy going into the shoe, the Carnot efficiency equation defines a limit around 60 mW of theoretical yield, and a good mechanism might produce 20 mW of useful electricity.  By comparison, other researchers came up with slightly better numbers in a relatively easy implementation-- piezoelectric energy harvesting in the shoulder straps of military backpacks.   But it's still silly. - P.N.G.

Real Wrath of God Stuff: From Waterbury to Wilmington, Vermonters shocked by Irene's destruction. Meanwhile, we read about the wisdom of stocking up and owning a water filter: Airlifts take food, water to cut-off Vermont towns. (Thanks to T.E.M. for the links.)

   o o o

The second person killed by bears this summer at Yellowstone Park: Michigan man killed by grizzly in Yellowstone. Somebody ought to remind folks that it is again legal to carry a gun in a National Park, as long as you are in accordance with state law. (That is, in a state where open carry or concealed carry is legal.)

   o o o

K.A.F. forwarded this: U.N. Warns of Bird Flu Resurgence, New Asian Strain

   o o o

Steve H. sent this link: Arsenic, Uranium and Other Trace Elements, a Potential Concern in Private Drinking Wells

   o o o

Joshua flagged this news item: ATF Director Reassigned; U.S. Attorney Out Amid 'Fast and Furious' Uproar. [JWR's Comment: Good riddance to bad rubbish. Now it is time to shut down the entire rotten agency.]

"If you’re prepared for the zombie apocalypse, a hurricane is just a storm." - The Say Uncle blog.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

My home energy backup system was originally conceived to make a little bit of power for a very long time.  Rather than backing up the whole house with a generator for a relatively short power outage of just a few hours or days, I wanted a system that would function in an extended power “grid down” scenario.  I was working from the self declared principle that when the grid is down at night, a single light bulb makes a huge difference in how you feel.  In addition, I wanted to preserve critical refrigeration and freezer functions indefinitely.

So why I am I doing this?  Two words come to mind: Resilience and Instability.  Without turning this into a political manifesto, it doesn’t take a genius to see how dependent we all are on certain “systems”.  Those systems make food appear on the grocery store shelves and plastic junk at Wal-Mart but for the most part, we don’t really know how it gets there.    What happens to grocery store deliveries if diesel prices triple?  Will the dollar always be worth something?  How many more jobs will ship overseas?   Was the President of the United States really serious when he declared that coal-fired electrical plants should be taxed out of existence because of their “carbon footprint?”  So in my mind, resiliency means thinking about how you would accomplish something if the primary or customary way of doing that something were suddenly unavailable.  Instability implies that interruptions to these systems are now so much more likely that they are not insignificant as most people have assumed all their lives, and warrant a second look by everyone.  Why is instability higher than ever?  Our economic system depends on exponential growth of debt to continue that system.  All engineers know that anything that grows exponentially is ultimately unstable and to top it all off, our system is now showing signs of great distress.  Think of it this way, our economic system is like a balloon.  When you start inflating it, you don’t worry about popping it.  However, we have been inflating our “balloon” for such a long time and with so much hot air that it can’t take much more.  Since economic systems are quite complex, no one knows what or when something bad will happen – something to warrant the planning I talk about in this article and the expense it entails – but it seems past the time to be preparing for that something.

Now on with the rest of our program… I had heard of people in Florida who had whole house backup generators fed by 1,000 gallon propane tanks buried under their driveways.  After hurricanes hit the area, these systems were exhausted in a few days – mostly running mammoth central air conditioners.  (Keep in mind that at $3 per gallon, it takes $3,000 just to fill up one of those tanks.) Many of these people were then without power for weeks.  Their systems failed them because their expectations for the length of the disaster were low.

I came to believe that making a small amount of power was my goal and I sized everything around the 2,000-2,500 Watt (W) range.  By that I mean that after spending thousands of dollars, I can only generate between 2,000 and 2,500 watts of continuous power and at 120 VAC that equates to a generated current of roughly 20 Amps (A).  You can walk into a home improvement store and buy a 6,500 watt generator for around $1,000 that delivers about 50A.  Given that most households are supplied by their electric utility with 200A service, have I lost my mind? 

Yes and no.  There are certainly a lot of things that a 2,500 W power system can’t do – like run your central AC (240 VAC), make hot water with your electric water heater, run an electric stove, and you might even be hard pressed to run some powerful hair dryers while operating other electrical devices – so what gives?  Ah, but you can do a lot of other very important things with 2,500 Watts of power, such as, running LED lighting.  At 6 Watts per light, I can light my whole house and not even make a dent in my 2,500 W power budget.  I considered all kinds of fancy refrigerators including those that run on propane, kerosene, and others marketed to off grid folks as super energy efficient.  In the end, I realized that a new model year 2011 nineteen cubic foot upright refrigerator/freezer with the freezer on top is about the most efficient appliance you can buy.  Realizing this tidbit only cost me $700 – delivered- from Lowe's, and I used the money I saved over some multi thousand dollar device to add some extra photovoltaic (PV) panels to my roof.   I’ve watched this refrigerator run and after the compressor starts up, it consumes 1A AC @ 120V.  That’s 120 watts  or 2,880 Watt Hours (WHr) per day.  However, I would say that being very efficient and well insulated, that this refrigerator is only running its compressor at most half of the time.  Therefore I use about 1,440 WHr max per day for this appliance. 

So lighting and refrigeration/freezing are very much within the 2,500 W limit.  What about air conditioning?  I live in the south and it gets hot and humid here.  I don’t like to sleep in that kind of weather so I have a very generously-sized 3 ton central AC system (15 SEER) to keep me nice and cool 24/7.  However, in a grid down situation, that system will be useless to me unless I want to cover my ¾-acre lot with solar panels – probably not going to happen.  Maybe someday I’ll further investigate a geothermal heat pump.  I see claims that they can run on the equivalent of a refrigerator compressor and actually be viable on solar but with a $20,000 - $50,000 equipment and installation price tag that’s a long shot.  So I decided to try to run a window AC unit off of my alternative energy system so that means first complying with my 2,500 W self-imposed limit.  Let’s see… a ,6500 BTU window air conditioner to cool one good sized bedroom draws about 6A @ 120V when the compressor is running, so that’s 720W – check – still within the limit but there’s another problem...


Starting Appliances
Many appliances have electrical motors.  This includes power tools like circular saws and refrigeration compressors like you find in air conditioners, refrigerators/freezers.  Electrical motors have two power requirements:

  1. The amount of current to start the motor and
  2. The amount of current required to keep the motor running

Items one and two are very different.  Item one can best be described for compressors as the locked rotor amps (LRA).  If you are nosy enough when you go window air conditioner shopping you might be able to view the label on the compressor through the slotted venting on the side of the air conditioner (take a flashlight).  If you can see the LRA number, you may be discouraged – I was.  On my 6,500 BTU window air conditioner that runs on no more than 6A, the LRA is 24.  That means that my system has to provide 24A AC of instantaneous current (2,880 W) for a couple of seconds to start that compressor.  If your power system can’t provide that then you just bought yourself a very expensive fan – the compressor won’t start - ever.

A generator like mine, that surges to 2,500W can produce just over 20A – not enough.  By the way, the LRA on my Trane 3-ton central AC compressor is 83A.
Obviously, you need to buy a bigger generator – one with higher running watts and surging (starting) watts – right?  But bigger, reliable generators cost a lot more money and here’s the kicker – they use more fuel and fuel is something you’re trying to make last a very long time in a grid-down scenario.  And if you’ve seen those “economical” generators at the home improvement stores, just walk away.  I’ve heard them described as disposable as well as fuel hogs.   So, if a generator is on your list of got to have backup items for long term usage, you want one that sips fuel, is quiet, built to last, and that can run your essential stuff.

A note on fuel:  The generators at home improvement stores run on gasoline.  So if you plan to run one of these for weeks on end, you’re going to need a lot of gas – more than 5 gallons per day depending on the generator’s power generation capacity.  Gasoline also has a relatively short shelf life before it goes “stale” and we all know it’s volatile - as in "ka-boom".  However, almost all gasoline generators can be converted to run on propane.  Propane stores in those nice, cute barbeque cylinders and it lasts for a very, very, long time.  A 20 pound barbeque propane cylinder stores about 5 gallons of propane. 

Moving on… Why don’t we convert that pesky window AC unit to start on less AC current – yes you just might be able to do that.  It turns out that the generator that I have is very popular with RVers because it’s fuel efficient and extremely quiet – 59dBA at load.  It’s so quiet that I can sit next to it while it’s running and talk on my cell phone.  In a grid down situation, that’s a good thing because a running generator says, “I have stuff and you don’t”, “come on over and steal that stuff” as well as irritating you as it drones on for hour after hour.   Continuing, these RVers were having trouble starting their 13,500 BTU roof-mounted AC units with my Yamaha inverter generator.  2,500W of surge just wasn’t enough to do the job so on a web forum discussing the problem, I was introduced to the supplemental hard start capacitor.  You connect this new capacitor in parallel to the compressor start capacitor that your air conditioner already has inside and voila – your AC unit starts on less current.  (I purchased the hard start cap on Amazon for $10 + shipping)  Using a clamp on ammeter capable of reading AC surge current, I measured my window air conditioner drop from 24A to 13A of starting current.  The first of many problems solved but I’m not interested in just long term generator operation because of the fuel issue.  (I should note that when you open your window air conditioner, you could electrocute yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing so if you aren’t used to working with electrical wiring, don’t do this yourself.  I’m a college educated electrical engineer with a master’s degree from a top 10 school, which is another way of saying I’m book smart but prone to electrocuting myself when I work on stuff in the real world – but at least I know the danger.)
 We need to move on to solar.

Building a System
To run indefinitely I would need a fuel source that never runs out – the sun seems like a good choice and while the sun will eventually burn out, scientists still expect the sun to outlast me.  So I decided to invest in some solar panels.  Not so coincidentally, I sized my solar array system in the 2,000 watt range and bought a 2,500 watt inverter.  Inverters have a distinct advantage over generators in that all of the ones that I considered can supply nearly double the rated wattage for surge requirements.  My 2,500W inverter actually surges to 4,000W which is 33A AC at 120V.
I decided to build a system fed by all three energy sources available to me:

  1. Solar
  2. Dual Fuel Generator (Gasoline or propane – propane as a better long term fuel choice)
  3. Utility or Grid Power

The system would have a battery storage component so that I could save the solar energy generated during the day for use at night.  The battery component of the system is also nice because even without solar, you can charge the batteries when the grid is operating and then use the power later when you need it.  This is a scenario that might play out if the grid were being switched off - as in rolling or scheduled blackouts.
Also, I didn’t intend to install enough panels to make tying back into the utility grid to sell my excess power worthwhile.   By my calculations, If I wanted to sell my 6kWHr of power generated each day back to the electric company through a grid tied inverter, I could expect about $0.11/kWHr in my area.  That’s $0.66 per day or around a $20 per month reduction in my utility bill.  Saving $240 per year wasn’t enough in my mind to warrant the additional expense and complexity of the grid tie inverter.  This also made me realize just how much power a modern home consumes since my monthly bill in winter is around $240 and in the summer about $400.

[JWR Adds: Also, keep in mind that grid-tied PV systems are much more vulnerable to EMP than stand-alone systems! This is because of EMP coupling through long utility power lines which act as antennas for EMP. They can carry EMP far beyond line of sight from a nuclear detonation.]

Mode 1 – Solar

In solar mode I have eight 230 watt solar panels feeding a maximum power point tracking (MPPT) charge controller.  I’m using an Outback FlexMax charge controller and its job is to take the DC voltage and current from my solar array (~70Vdc @ 25Adc the way I have them strung) and convert it into the voltage that my battery bank and inverter need – namely 24V.  When the system is running on just solar, the refrigerators and lights draw power form the battery bank during the night and during the day, that usage is replenished by the solar panels and the current needed by the appliances is also provided by the panels.  As long as the batteries can run the appliances all night and with some margin to spare and then fully recharge during the day, you never run out of electricity.  My battery bank uses more expensive gel cells because I didn’t want to fool with adding water to standard lead acid batteries.  Yes, I’m easily distracted and maintenance isn’t my first love.

I don’t want to discharge my batteries more than about 25 - 30% during the night because the deeper you discharge the batteries in between charges, the fewer charging cycles you will get out of your batteries before they have to be replaced.  I have about 14,400 watt hours of battery capacity so the 50% rule would allow me to use 7200 wHr before recharging.  Restricting my usage to only a 25% discharge allows for 3,600 WHr.  That 3600 WHr will run my two refrigerator/freezers and one upright freezer and a number of lights all night long.  My 1920 W of solar panels will realistically produce about 6,000 WHr of power per sunny day given their angle to the sun, our latitude, etc.  As you can see, I have a sizeable margin built in for cloudy days and generally bad weather.  So my panels should be more than adequate to recharge my batteries during the day.

In solar mode, the generator connections and grid power supply connections are shut off.  If I have calculated everything properly, and nothing breaks, the system should run for a long time.
What happens if I want to run that window air conditioner?  It consumes 720 Watts per hour if the compressor is running 100% of the time.  If it is the only AC unit running in my home during a grid down situation, I’ll assume the compressor is running about 80% of the time.  This equates to 576 Whr.  Over a 24 hour period I will need 24 * 576 = 13,824 WHr.  Either I’m not going to run this window AC 24/7 or I need another operational mode because my solar panels are only going to make about 6,000 WHr/day.  Enter the small, reliable and quiet generator.

Mode 2: Generator Power – working with small generators
Let’s say I really want to run that window AC unit – and believe me, I really want to.  This is where the 250 gallon propane tank – professionally installed and plumbed - in my yard comes in.   (Or the other various small sized tanks I have stored outside as well – 20 to 40 gallon tanks that make my generator portable and don’t require me to store a lot of gasoline).   Always store and use propane tanks outside in a well ventilated area. 
My Mastervolt MassCombi inverter is actually an inverter/charger/transfer switch all-in-one unit.  The inverter is intended for marine applications where shore power can be iffy.  It can be set to current limit its AC input to match the shore power (generator) output of roughly 15 amps or any other low capacity AC source.  If the appliances connected to the inverter are consuming less than 15Aac, then the balance of the AC power is converted to dc and used to charge the batteries but here comes the best part.  If an AC motor attempts to start and more surge current capacity is required, the inverter will automatically pull the extra surge current from the battery bank and add it to the power coming from the generator – pretty cool.

During the peak daylight hours, the solar panels will produce enough power to run the window air conditioner, the refrigerators, and a number of other small appliances.  When the sun goes down, I can switch into generator mode and continue to run the window air conditioner, if my fuel situation permits.  This situation lasts for about three months every year when it is so hot and humid that air conditioning feels like a necessity – although a grid down scenario will redefine “necessity” for all of us.

I don’t run the solar charge controller and the inverter/AC-charger at the same time so as to not cause a conflict between the two chargers.  When the sun is out and shining, I run the solar charge controller.  If I need additional power, I run the generator at night and shut off the charge controller.

I could add more batteries and more solar panels and essentially eliminate the need for the overflow generator but to produce 13,824 WHr of electricity per day (just for that window ac unit) and to have some margin for rainy days, I would need about twenty 230W panels and twelve 12V 200 AHr batteries.  The panels cost about $650 apiece and the batteries are about $500.  This doesn’t include additional infrastructure like a bigger battery box, additional charge controller, wiring, fuses, mounting hardware, etc.  The cost works out to an additional $10,000 – more than I want to spend to run a $149 window air conditioner.  And not to mention, I don’t have a good place to put twenty solar panels as I don’t want them visible from the street and the front of my home faces south.

By the way, that little 2000W generator of mine makes up to 48,000 WHr of power each 24 hour period that it runs which is another reason that if you have a small battery bank and solar already, it doesn’t take much of a generator to back it up.  A little Yamaha or Honda 1,000 Watt inverting generator sips fuel (runs 3.8 hours on 0.6 gal of fuel), is very quiet (53-59 dBA), and with a continuous power rating of 900W will produce up to 21,600 WHr of power in a 24 hour period - all for less than $1,000 plus fuel.  Have that generator converted to run on propane by a reputable company and add some solar panels, batteries, and an inverter and you have a small system that can run a lot of stuff for a long time.  Stash a few of those 20 lb barbeque propane cylinders outside to run your little generator and you are now in better shape than probably everyone else in your neighborhood when the lights go out.

Remember, I spent $650 * 8 = $5,200 on solar panels and I only make roughly 6,000 WHr with them on a sunny day.  By the time I add in a battery bank, fuses, inverter, copper wiring, etc., I figure I’m paying about $2 for every watt hour of solar generation and storage capacity.  Of course in a grid down situation, I might make a little more power as I would have more incentive to adjust the tilt angle of the panels monthly to track the sun through the sky.  I might also cut down that pesky tree that is partially shading my panels in the morning.  So in the end, solar is expensive and makes a fraction of the power that a generator can for the same dollar investment – but solar will do it quietly and almost forever – even when the fuel supplies run out.

Mode 3: Utility Mode – Creating an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
As I mentioned in the last section, my inverter is also an AC to DC charger and transfer switch all in one.  By that, I mean when incoming AC power is detected – and that can be from a generator or your main utility – the inverter runs in charging mode.  This means that it supplies the connected loads with the incoming AC power as a simple pass-thru and converts any remaining AC power to DC to charge the battery bank if the batteries are not already fully charged.  If the AC load of the appliances increases, the battery charging current is automatically decreased.

When my MassCombi detects that AC power has gone away, it automatically switches from AC charger mode to inverter mode in a fraction of a second and starts using DC power from the battery bank to invert into AC power.  In this manner, the system acts like an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for the devices plugged into the system.  It also is a pure sine wave inverter which means it makes electricity which is just a clean as that coming from the utility.

Even if I didn’t have PV charging capability, this system would buffer the effect of rolling blackouts.  When grid power was present, the system would charge the batteries.  When grid power was absent, the batteries would supply the connected equipment.  As long as the power was on more than it was off and my battery capacity was sufficient for the appliances I am trying to run, this should work.  As the hours of “grid down” increase, the demands on the batteries will increase until the point is reached where some type of supplemental power is required – either a generator or solar or both.

Mode 4:  Bypass
When I wired my system I installed new dedicated electrical outlets to various rooms in my home to deliver the electrical power from this new system.  The lamp in my living room is plugged into one of these new outlets.  When the grid goes down, my lamp stays on.

However, if I am doing maintenance and want to keep the connected appliances running, I can turn off all the solar breakers, shut off the inverter/charger, disconnect the batteries and still route grid power through my system to the new electrical outlets.  This is a handy but non-essential feature.

I enjoy your site and have learned a lot from you and others of a similar mindset.  I enjoy the fact that the info you present is from the perspective  of  a Christian. 

I have been looking at land in Wyoming and while there is some very affordable land I have to wonder how anyone is going to heat their abode when "cheap oil" is gone.  I cannot find land that is in my budget that has any trees.
I have spent most of my life in the southern US and some time in Central America and I cannot imagine a winter in Montana or Wyoming with out a lot of firewood (or a big tank of propane).  Just wondered if I was missing something that was obvious to you mountain state people. Thanks, - Alan W.

JWR Replies:  One of the greatest self-sufficiency advantages of living inside the American Redoubt is that the majority of the populace cuts their own firewood. This means that unlike some other northern regions (such as the northern Plains) when the Schumer hits the fan, fuel for home heating will not be a critical resource, at least as long as a small quantity of gas for chain saws holds out. If someone doesn't have a sufficient number or a suitable species of trees on their own property, then they will usually cut their firewood on nearby National Forest land. Home firewood cutting permits are very inexpensive. (Typically, $5 per cord, sold in a four cord increment, with a $20 permit.)

In the vicinity of the Rawles Ranch, most families heat their homes with Red Fir or Western Larch. Both of these trees make excellent firewood. The National Forests have long term renewable supplies of both--essentially unlimited, given the low population density in this region.

One other possibility for you in Wyoming is buying a property that has a surface coal seam. Such properties are surprisingly common, and they don't sell at a huge premium over otherwise comparable properties that lack them. Just be sure that your purchase contract explicitly includes mineral rights! While it is not as hard as eastern anthracite coal, western coal burns fairly well. After quarrying, it should be stored in a shed to protect it from the rain.

Mr. Rawles:
When making a quick run to the grocery store to take advantage of some sales, I was amazed at the rise in some of the prices.  The same can of salmon that I purchased for $1.00 in preparation for Y2K was on sale for $2.69 - a "savings" of 90 cents from the normal retail price.  The same bag of sugar that I purchased for about $1.29-1.59 was $4.69.  So, I went out on the Internet to see what has gone on.  Here are several charts I found on that show the alarming rises in the price of staple foods and commodities:

Prepping is just not about saving your life.  Preparation for Y2K has saved us a huge amount of money over the last ten years.  [When " a loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day's pay" (Revelation 6.6), those who are prepared will fare much better.

Blessings on your house from ours, - Gracie

K.A.F. flagged this: Copper Thieves Leave I-95 In Palm Beach Co. In The Dark

   o o o

F.G. sent this: Yes, we're the cops. Yes, we're breaking the law. And yes, we don't care.

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) wrote to mention that he will be a member of several discussion panels or a solo lecturer at the upcoming Labor Day Weekend DragonCon, in Atlanta. Several of these panels should be of interest, such as: "Year Two" (You've survived the first year of the "apocalypse". Now what?) and "Beans, Bullets, Band Aids: Bring On The Apocalypse."

   o o o

Josh spotted this: Riot police fire tear gas on protesters in Athens, Greece

"It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Daniel Webster

Monday, August 29, 2011

I was glad to see that Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm before it hit a major metropolitan region. I trust that SurvivalBlog readers in the region were well-prepared. Please share your knowledge and your larder with your less prudent neighbors. Then perhaps next time they won't be caught flat-footed. (There are plenty of pictures of empty store shelves in New England now circulating . When will the Sheeple ever learn?)

Giardia is a regular fear during TEOTWAWKI due to sanitation and water purity issues when the Schumer hits the fan (WTSHTF).  Giardia lamblia, Giardia duodenalis, or Giardia intestinalis are the fancy names for good old-fashioned Giardia–everyone’s favorite parasite.  Giardia cysts can live in moist environments for prolonged periods of time, just waiting for some poor oaf to drink as little as 10 of them which can then cause infection.  The infection occurs when the cysts are ingested into your warm innards, most often through contaminated water.  Also can occur with direct person to person transmission (too gross to think about) and ingestion of contaminated food.  After ingestion, the “shell” of the cyst unfolds the nasty little trophozoite form which then swims around inside you, latching on to your intestine wall and starts making copies of itself by living off you like a penniless hippy.

For reasons that are actually poorly understood (whaaaat?  science doesn’t know everything?) diarrhea, malaise, flatulence, abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, foul-smelling and fatty stools, and the weight loss from the diarrhea, etc. occurs in most people with acute giardia.  Less often, there is vomiting, and rarely fevers.  Symptoms usually last 2 to 4 weeks.  84 percent of folks in one study had self-limited disease, therefore the other 16 percent went on to develop chronic giardia.  Chronic giardia can have similar symptoms, usually without the diarrhea, and the manifestations of the infection can come and go for months.  Lactose intolerance often develops in those infected with chronic giardia, and drinking milk or eating dairy products too soon after infection can cause symptoms again for up to months.  The recommendation is to avoid dairy products altogether for one month.

Chronic exposure to giardia may give people immunity from infection; travelers have higher rates of infection than residents of giardia infested areas, as well as higher rates of infection in children in those areas compared to older people.  Immuno-compromised individuals appear to get infected at similar rates as those with no immune problems–although there are some conflicting reports in these populations.  Those that have cystic fibrosis and immunoglobulin deficiencies do get more severe symptoms and develop chronic disease more often, but not those with HIV.
Treatment is recommended in symptomatic patients with lab positive giardia in our modern world.  WTSHTF it is very likely to be difficult or impossible to get a “lab positive” confirmation and treatment itself will be difficult or impossible to get.  There are a variety of antibiotics that actually treat giardia readily available currently.  These include tinidazole (Tindamax), and metronidazole (Flagyl) as the drugs of choice, especially since they are dirt cheap.  Alternatives include nitazoxanide, albendazole and paromomycin; but these are very expensive.  Tinidazole dosing is 2 grams once for giardia and done.  Metronidazole dosing is 250 mg three times a day for 5 to 7 days.  You would still need to have it and know what you are using it for…both potential problems.

The tough thing about giardia is knowing that it is indeed the source of your infection.  (Reference my prior post about water for details).  Prevention is the cure for giardia.   Never can enough be said about water purification and quality water sources at TEOTWAWKI.  Figure out practical solution now rather than waiting until trying to figure out what parasite you may have been infected with and then what you are going to do about trying to treat it.  If the labs and pharmacies are all open, easy solution.  When they are not…much more complicated problem.  This is not news to preppers, but for those of you that are surprised, you better get moving on your plans now.  Stay strong.

JWR Adds: Dr. Bob is is one of the few consulting physicians in the U.S. who dispenses antibiotics for disaster preparedness as part of his normal scope of practice. His web site is:

There's a couple things I like about Lynn Thompson, over at Cold Steel knives. One is, and I've said this many times, is that I believe Cold Steel put the "sharp" in sharp knives. I've yet to run across a single Cold Steel knife that wasn't scary sharp right out of the box. Lynn set the trend for super-sharp knives, and everyone else had to either jump on the band wagon or get run over. Second, I like that Thompson isn't afraid to take classic knives and give them his own twist on things - and it always seems to be an improvement over the original in many ways.

Enter the Cold Steel Hold Out II." What we have is an updated version of the ancient Black Knife or Skean Dhu (Gaelic) that the ancient Scottish warriors used as a back-up or utility knife, worn under a sleeve, tucked inside a jacket or slipped into the top of a stocking. The Cold Steel interpretation of the Skean Dhu has a 4" blade made out of AUS 8A stainless steels - one of the better stainless steels in my humble opinion 'cause it's fairly easy to re-sharpen and they hold an edge a good long time - a very good compromise in a stainless blade if you ask me - and it also keeps the blade affordable - something I always look for - value!

The Hold Hold II has an overall length of 9" and only weighs 4.2 oz, however, it feels much lighter than that. The handle scales are textured G-10 laminate, some of the toughest stuff around for handle material on a knife. There is also a stainless steel pocket clip on the hand. The Hold Out II also incorporates the Tri-Ad lock - which looks like a lock-back type of lock, but don't let looks fool you - it's a super-stout lock that won't fail you under some pretty harsh conditions. Can it fail? Sure, any folding blade knife, no matter what type of locking mechanism it uses can fail. However, I don't think you'll be the least bit disappointed in the Tri-Ad lock - it's not gonna let you down when you need it the most.

The blade shape is dagger(esque) in shape - while it looks like a double-edge dagger, it's not! The top edge has not been sharpened--a "false edge". However, the Hold Out II will pierce with the best of 'em when thrusting into living tissue in a life and death scenario. Besides, there are a few states that don't allow double-edge knives for some reason - the Hold Out II gets around these stupid laws.

I especially like the textured G-10 handle material - it almost hugs you back when gripped, and there's not much chance of this baby slipping out of your hands under the most grueling circumstances.  There are also some "friction" grooves on the top (front) of the handle as well as on the top (back) of the blade for a sure grip. There is an ambidextrous thumb stud, so if you're a southpaw, you'll really appreciate this. And, this is my one very minor complaint with the Hold Out II - I'd like to see slightly larger thumb studs. Under stressful conditions, you might not get a good purchase on the thumb studs and miss opening the blade. Others who tried the sample I had didn't have any complaints, and I'm probably nit-picking here - but its a subjective thing.

Blade thickness is 3.5mm - it's stout - however, I wouldn't use the blade for prying - and leave the Hold Out II to what it was really meant for - it's a self-defense weapon - that can either be your primary weapon or your back-up, and I believe this is where the Hold Out II really shines - as a back-up weapon. Light chores can easily be handled, however, I'd leave the heavier work to a slightly thicker blade. In my estimation, the Hold Out II should be reserved for "hold out" purposes.

I did some light cutting chores around the kitchen and the sample I had worked perfectly. Now, you'd be surprised at how many knives (cheaper ones) can't handle simple cutting chores in the kitchen. If they can't hack it in the kitchen, they aren't gonna do you much good in a self-defense situation. I also tested the penetrative power of the Hold Out II. Normally what I'll do is thrust a blade into a pot roast to see how far they will easily penetrate. I did something a little different this time around. I held the Hold Out II by the handle, point down, about a foot and a half above the pot roast and dropped it into the meat - it penetrated completely to the handle - no problem. I can see this blade penetrating some light body armor - the concealable type if thrust hard enough.

I think this outstanding blade from Cold Steel is worthy of consideration for a back-up weapon, in that, it's slim and light-weight. You can slip this folder inside your trouser's waist-line and clip it behind your belt and no one would see it, except on very close examination, and it short order, you'll forget you have this knife hid on your body - until you need it. It would work great if you were out jogging in your work out shorts or a pair of sweat pants - slip it inside the waistband and clip it - and you're good to go.

I don't want to get too wordy talking about the Hold Out II from Cold Steel - I was totally impressed with the sample I received - then again, I've never been let-down by any Cold Steel product in all the years I've been testing and using 'em. And, regular readers know, that I sincerely appreciate a value. I work hard for my money, and I like to think that I usually spend it wisely. Full retail on the Hold Out II is $104.95 - and you're getting a great value, in a folder that won't let you down when you need it most - in a life and death scenario.

I've got my Cold Steel Hold Out II - now go out there and get one for yourself, or as a gift for someone you love - they'll think you spent a lot more money than you did, for such an outstanding folder. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

While researching briquette presses for fuel production, I stumbled on an article about using similar presses for extracting oils from seeds and nuts. In this case, the focus was on bio-diesel production, but I felt it was helpful for other uses as well. We preppers often hear of the importance of fats and oils in the diet, along with the difficulties in storing these items, so having the means to produce your own is a benefit. 

For the Do-It-Yourselfers in the audience, you can check out a Journey To Forever article which details how to build the equipment needed to process sunflower seeds for sunflower oil, including grading screens, de-hulling, winnowing and then pressing itself. Sunflowers appear to be very robust and can be grown from Canada to the tropics. You can find a great deal about sunflowers at this Purdue University web page

If you'd prefer a commercial solution for the equipment to do this, there are plenty out there. Most are made for larger-scale production, however. A web search for "oil expeller" will provide lots of hits if that's the way you want to go. 

For the individual prepper interested in an off-the-shelf oil extraction solution, a source to consider is the hand-cranked expeller. I don't know anything about these small units other than what I've seen on their Web site and in reviews on the Web, but they appear to be well-made and users seem to love them. The Web site shows a wide variety of seeds the unit can handle, including sunflower, walnut, pumpkin and more. They also have instructions on how to attach the unit to a bicycle frame. 

In addition to the food value of oils, such oils can be used to produce bio-diesel for use in engines and can be used as fuel in lamps (as a recent article on SurvivalBlog indicated). The "waste" products of oil production can be used in cooking or as an additive to animal feed.  Blessings,  - Jason R.

Mr. Rawles,
I was wondering if you or your staff had any experience or opinion on the PTR-91 GI rifle, also known as the PTR-91 "special edition".  These seem very competitively priced; $899 at both Atlantic Firearms and CDNN Sports (listed on page 28 of their online catalog). 

Apparently the changes made to this rifle allow it to accept the military surplus ammunition, which previously jammed the rifle.  However, the "tolerances" are looser, according to the web site, so it is possible that accuracy suffered.

As this is a great price to enter the .308 / 7.62 NATO market, I was wondering if this is a quality rifle or if I am better off spending a couple hundred more and going with one of the PTR-91 F rifles.

Thank you for all the work you do. - Ed P.

JWR Replies: We have a standard PTR-91of an earlier vintage here at the Rawles Ranch. I have found that it is not finicky with the various types of +/- 150 grain 7.62 mm NATO ball ammo that we've put through it. These have included Portuguese, South African, Winchester (white box--a USGI ball duplication load) , and West German. They all run just fine. Ejection is also fairly uniform--15 to 20 feet, which is typical of HKs. (They positively launch brass!)

While I haven't shot one personally, the new "-GI" suffixed PTR rifles are reputedly even more omnivorous than mine. (Although I would be very reluctant to shoot any ammo that is outside of the 145 to 155 grain range, and I'd also be leery of shooting commercial soft nose 150 grain ammunition, since it is loaded considerably hotter than NATO specification military loads.) From all reports, I think that you will be happy if you buy a PTR-91 GI rifle. Considering that they cost only one-third as much as an original pre-ban HK91, they are quite a bargain!

Parenthetically, it is a bit ironic that I wrote the first draft of my novel "Patriots" back in the winter of 1990-1991. Even though I was strictly a Springfield M1A owner at the time, I portrayed the fictional "Group" as standardizing with the HK91. That was back when HK91s were creeping up in price, but still fairly affordable. But by the late 1990s the original HK-made rifles and even the Greek clones had their prices inflated to the point that they became toys for the rich. But now, after the advent of large scale military surplus imports of both G3 rifle parts sets (for the clone builders)and incredibly inexpensive (less than $1!) magazines, the HK clones have become a low cost alternative to the M1A, most AR-10 variants, and the various FN/FAL clones. For those of us that like to have 15+ spare magazines per rifle, this makes rifles that can use G3 magazines a logical choice. And I should mention that there are now two brands of AR-10s made with lower receivers that accept G3 magazines. Given the relatively high cost of M1A and FAL magazines, I expect this design trend to be picked up by other gun makers.

Lastly, I should mention that the deluge of $1 HK G3 magazines won't last forever. (CheaperThanDirt currently sells them for just 97 cents each.) So I strongly recommend that you buy a hundred of them now, even if there is just a chance that you will eventually buy a rifle that can use them. And even if you don't, they will be great to keep on hand for barter!


Mr. Rawles,
I came across an article on wounds patterns of military rifle cartridges, after doing some personal follow-on research to Mr. Williamson's recent letter to your blog. I'm finding this resource very informative. - Swiftner Braveheart

I have purchased a Big Berkey recently and ended up with several defective filters, just as was recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog. I discovered this when the unfiltered chlorinated water destroyed a gallon of my sweet tea. The glue that was on it looked a lot like a kind of hot glue! I didn't want to hassle with the long waiting list, so I removed the excess glue and "re-glued" it with a tube of clear silicone [RTV] caulk that I bought at Home Depot for $4. It is a simple fix and it lasts. Just make sure you follow the instructions on the tube and don't let the silicon run into the little plastic nozzle. The original glue lasted a week, and the caulk has thusfar lasted 5 months.
Good luck! Enjoy you clean water!! - Thomas D.

R.B.S. spotted this: Big Changes Afoot at U.S. Mint? The articles begins: "The year 2013 might go down in the annals of numismatics as significant as 1933 when gold coinage was suspended or 1965, the year copper-nickel began to displace the former silver coinage." Got your nickels yet?

J.B.G. sent this: Market crash 'could hit within weeks', warn bankers

Martin P. sent this: Economic Stabilization Fund.

Items from The Economatrix:

The Upside for Gold and Silver Will Knock Your Socks Off

3-2-1 Global Meltdown

Do The Maths

K.A.F. was the first of several readers to send this: Feared Beetle Makes Its Way to U.S. in Rice from India

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L. Veritas sent this: Raw milk raids, now guitar raids. It seems nothing is safe!

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Reader Ian R. e-mailed me to describe last weekend in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, only diesel fuel was available at the local gas station. All grades of gasoline were sold out. Ian noted: "The gas station attendant stated they sold out of regular by Friday afternoon, and out of all gas by Saturday morning." This underscores my long-standing advice that each retreat that is south of the Canadian border and north of Patagonia should have at least one diesel vehicle. In extremis, most diesels can also run on home heating oil, vegetable oil blends, and of-road diesel. Older diesels are also relatively immune to electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

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M.B. suggested this reference in PDF on gasifier technology, over at Rice Husk Gas Stove Handbook

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Typisch, typisch: New York shoppers fight for bottled water and flashlights.

"Gold is the mirror of the world's paper currency system. The price of gold doesn't reflect the intrinsic value of the metal - which is almost unchanging over time. It reflects the relative value and volatility of paper currencies." - Porter Stansberry . [JWR highly recommends the Stansberry investing newsletters.]

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am just beginning my journey into the prepping world and it is amazing when I look back over the last year just how far I have come.  Being only 22 years old, and living on my own since 18 away at school and living in a large metropolitan area, it wasn't my first priority when I first left home.  I went through my first few years living the typical college life.  However, two years in, traveled to China for a while and it really opened my eyes as to how messed up the government of that country is.  What started my transition was seeing the correlation between how they were and the path we were going down in the USA.  After I got back, I started a small business (a fitness center) while still in college and became engaged to my soon to be wife.  All of these things really put my life into perspective and I knew I had to make some adjustments.  Thankfully, I had grown up in a rural part of the country on a farm and had developed several skill sets that one would not have growing up in the city.  I knew how to fish, trap, survive in the wilderness, and was especially proficient with firearms.  I had also grown up in a very conservative thinking Christian family that kept my morals in check.  I was always very into politics and always followed the daily news very closely.  About a year ago at the age of 20, the fire became ignited for having the survival mindset.  Seeing the changes taking place both in this country and around the world, I knew things would eventually "change".  I picked up on the inter-connectivity of the entire world and one small domino falling could bring the whole thing down.  All politics aside, I knew in 2008 we would be heading down the wrong path and it would probably never get any better.  Well, here we are...  read the news lately?  I made a few decisions about what I needed to do and how to live and I never turned back.

I did all the first steps that everyone does...  I bought all the most popular survival books, learned about what to store and how to store it.  I even went as far as planning for if I would have to leave the country and learning about second identifications and legal means to change your identity.  I purchased a lever action .30-30, a bolt-action Savage .308 Winchester long distance rifle with a Leupold scope, a Smith and Wesson M&P .45 along with plenty of ammo.  I bought food that can be stored, water purification, and traded in my car for a Dodge Dakota 4x4 with a standard transmission.  Unfortunately, I am not to the point that I can live at my retreat due to my business.  However, I have moved from downtown to the outskirts of the city on the side of the city that is heading towards my retreat, which is shared by a couple of very close friends with similar mindsets.  I also have four routes that I can take to my retreat if necessary.  I've done all of the basics recommended on this site and many other sources.  However, I feel as a young man that my journey is just beginning.

One aspect of the survival mindset that I feel is often not touched on enough is physical fitness and the necessity of it for a SHTF situation.  Also, I want to touch on the usefulness and practicality of many bodybuilding supplements that are designed for nutrition and supplementation that can be extremely useful for survival situations.  With fitness being my background and my company, I have a very good idea of the how important it is.  I see a lot of talk on this web site and others for preparing for TEOTWAWKI... and especially the moment life changes and we all rush to enact our survival plans.  Grabbing guns and supplies with a BOB, packing a vehicle with everything we can and making the mad dash for our retreat.  Well let me ask you...  If need be, would you be able to make it to your retreat on foot with a full load of gear on your back?  No matter how tricked out your gun is, would you be able to sprint a mile to a position, retreat if necessary (by sprinting), and all the while still be able to shoot?  Do you have the strength in your back and core to put a huge rucksack on it and carry it long distances?  There are so many plans we make to WTSHTF, but can we physically carry them out if we have to?  I recommend that everyone do a combination of strength training and cardiovascular work.  Very likely in a survival situation, we will not have to do endurance long distance running.  It will either be fast paced walking, or sprinting.  So we should be prepared to do either.  Also, strength will help you in bugging out and in terms of usefulness after TEOTWAWKI.  Those who are strong will survive, small and weak people will not be needed or useful.  Am I advocating that we all look like bodybuilders?  Not all, that is even less useful.  However, having a lean, muscular build will be optimal for a survival situation.  You want to be a combination of lean, fast, strong, and slightly muscular.  If you are looking to be in incredible shape, I recommend you check out  It is an incredible workout program that will get you prepared to be in shape.  As they say, any one can have desire to be a great warrior, but are you fit enough?

More on the topic of fitness.  I want to discuss something that I have yet to see on this board.  The usefulness of supplements...  There are several supplements that are designed for active lifestyles and people who work out that are extremely useful.  The things I will talk about are: vitamins, nutritional support supplements, protein shakes, and weight gainers, and testosterone enhancers (not steroids)

Essential for optimal function of your body on a cellular level.  Regulates many activities and is important even when combined with a nutritional diet.  These become vitally important when we have a diet that is not rich in natural vitamins and minerals (eating stored food).  With a diet that is likely for the short term to be void of fresh fruits and vegetables, these nutrients will be very important.  A brand that I use is Apex.  It has a 97% absorption rate and it timed-released, which is far better than the grocery store vitamins that have about a 20-30% absorption rate.  They run about $10-$15 for a two month supply.

Nutritional Support:
Fish Oils: Essential for brain health and heart health
Glucosamine: We will be much more active when SHTF, we will want this for joint support due once again a diet that is not nutritionally balanced.
Calcium: Unless you have a farm with animals that can produce milk, you won't have any... Enough said
Anti-Oxidants: Prevents cancer and other ailments, found mostly in fresh-fruits, which will be hard to come by unless you grow them.
There are many brands to choose from for these, however, since my fitness center distributes Apex and it is proven, I use it.

Whey/Soy Protein:
Very easy source of a high protein food.  Whey protein is derived from milk, where Soy is naturally derived from Soy.  I carry this in my BOB as an easy to carry source of food that is high in protein to prevent muscle breakdown in the event that I have to hoof it to my retreat.  Also very useful at the retreat for long term nutrition.  Best brands for this are Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey (can be bought in 2 lb to 10 lb), or Muscle Milk since it has some carbs and Vitamins/Minerals as well.

Weight Gainers:
My essential food for when SHTF, bulk weight gainer shakes.  These shakes are not useful for most people in a normal situation due to the fact they are extremely high in calories, carbs, and protein and will make most people get fat if they are used regularly.  However, in a survival situation, what more could you ask for?  A compact source of food that is extremely high in calories, carbohydrates, protein, tons of vitamins and minerals, and can easy be mixed in water.  Literally, we are talking about 600-1000 calories with 50 grams of protein, 100 grams of carbs (both simple and complex), packed with vitamins and minerals, and is about 3/4 cup of powder that can be mixed with water in a medium sized bottle.  You can't really find anything even close to that in terms of size to nutrient ratio.

My two favorite brands for this are Ultimate Nutrition's Iso Mass Xtreme Gainer or Optimum Nutrition's Serious Mass.  Both of these weight gainers come in 10 pound tubs.  These babies have an expiration date about 5 years down the road after purchasing, and could probably last longer if needed and come completely sealed.  My retreat has countless jugs of this stuff.

Testosterone Boosters
I have some of these planned for the time period immediately after the collapse.  The amount of stress on the body, both physically and mentally will be incredible.  Except for those who have been in extended periods of consistent combat (several months), none of us have probably ever experienced anything like this before.  Having your natural testosterone increased to the highest optimal level will help you make it through much better.  Your body will heal quicker from strain and you will be better mentally prepared to hand everything.
What I recommend for this is Tribulus, ZMA, and T-Bomb.

All in all, I hope this has brought some ideas to people about the usefulness of supplements and the necessity of many of them after the world changes for good.  God Bless and be prepared.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Here's an article on the New York Times web site about the extraordinary preparations being made in and around New York City as Hurricane Irene makes her way up the East Coast. They're evacuating a quarter of a million people, including a number of hospitals and nursing homes; making the main arteries out of some locations into one-way, six lane evacuations routes; and shutting down the entire public transit system, including several commuter lines to Long Island, New Jersey, and upstate. New Yorkers tend to forget how close we are to the sea.

Nothing like this has ever been done before. The only times I can remember the subways being shut down were in the infamous blackouts that have descended on the city from time to time. And mandatory evacuations? In Brooklyn?? Fuhgeddaboudit!

I'm grateful to you and all your readers for the knowledge and insight to make the preparations I've needed to. I live out in the country now, up on a nice little hill. The greatest danger around here is the trees that are likely to come down. I expect to be without power for several days, and feel secure and comfortable in my little house -- plenty of food and water, light sources and a camp stove, a bucket for flushing all squared away and ready to rock. And I've given away some of my supplies, will give away more tomorrow, to a conductor who's in from out-of-town to conduct a concert nearby. He has no idea what he needs, so I've prepared a basic kit for him, of water, candles, matches, and food that doesn't need to be cooked.

Thank you for being there, and for the good guidance. We won't feel the full force of the storm here in my valley, but I'm a little scared. And my trust is in the Lord, here and now.

Best, Mary in Rosendale, New York

While reading the very informative article "Re: Some Observations on Non-Electric Lighting" and the response letter, I thought that it might be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers to know of another source of good brass lanterns and wicks. 

I have bought several brass lanterns over the years from Vermont Lanterns, including a couple of discounted and "scratch and dent" models. They are of very high quality, all brass, imported from India, though marketed by a family business in Vermont.  The company sells spare globes and wicks for each of their models, as well.  A bit more expensive than the typical stamped steel lanterns (that rust and sometimes leak) typically found in big box stores and on-line, they are nevertheless worth the extra cost, at least to me. For those so inclined, see:

Also, I have bought high quality wicks for both lanterns and kerosene heaters from Miles Stair's Wick Shop. The products are reasonably priced and the site is very informative about types, quality, construction of wicks, maintenance and types of kerosene lamps and globes, and has good description of the composition, use, and maintenance of kerosene fuel. See:

(I have no financial interest in these companies, other than to have patronized them.)

Thanks for the great blog. - T.D. in West Virginia

JWR Replies: The best source that I have found for inexpensive lamp wicking in fairly large quantity is to buy it by the yard or by the roll, via eBay.


James Wesley:
IKEA offers solar hanging lamp, table lamp and desk lamp.  Here is one example.

Other than it is a safe and modern looking, it is cordless which adds flexibility to your placement. The lamp can be charged during the day, even on a cloudy day by a window, and functions well at night.   Regards, - Frances

K.T. suggested this nine minute fictional video: “It has been six months since the grid went down. You and the other five members of your party have settled into what may be a long grinding existence.” If the narration sounds familiar, it is because it was originally from a 2009 SurvivalBlog post. I have belatedly given them permission to use the contents of that post. (Thanks to reader "Blacksheep" for sending the link back to Jeff's post.)

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Litigation Nation: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit
. (A hat tip to Karl G. for sending the link.)

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Troy H. sent this: Democratic Discontent, Black Swans, Constitutional Conventions, and Civil or Foreign Wars

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In-shoe device harvests energy created by walking

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Steven F. flagged this: The most telegraphed "disaster" in history and the stores still can't keep up.  Heaven help the unprepared when something happens that there is no notice of.

"Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:11-16 (KJV)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As part of our general prepping, my family has started including "survival food" in our normal diet. This gives us a chance to decide what we like to eat and to stock up on more of it for the future, rather than having to live with what we have when the SHTF. We all know that when food becomes scarce we will be thrilled to have a bowl of rice, beans, etc., but with a bit of experimentation we hope to be able to stock up on tastier foods in addition to commonly stocked staples. Rather than buy large quantities of foods we are trying for the first time, we are buying what is available locally at common grocery stores and super-stores. Since times are tough for many now, I also included some products from discount 'dollar' stores. These have the additional benefit of being very-well pre-packaged, so long-term storage should be good. This article describes our experience so far, and I am not in any way affiliated with any of these companies or and food distributor or retailer.

Bear Creek Soup Mixes

The Bear Creek brand soup mixes are excellent! My wife, two kids, and I have tried each of these mixes and love them. They have fair nutritional value by just adding water, but if you were in TEOTWAWKI mode adding some meat would boost the protein levels to a sustainable level. As with lots of pre-packaged meal products there is higher salt content, but no more per package than many people eat on a single large order of fries! Preparation could not be any more simple, just add water (usually 8 cups), boil a bit, let simmer and stand. The mix becomes adequately thick and 'souply'. One thing to keep in mind is that many of these products contain very low amounts of (or no) fat, so living on this stuff alone will be unhealthy as you need a certain amount of fat to be healthy.



The minestrone is very good. When you eat a bowl you are full, end of story. The flavor is full and not at all watery or pasty. These are not ramen noodles! (although I am not knocking ramen, I eat ramen all the time). I found the soup to be great with no additional seasoning added. My wife and kids are garlic-salt addicts so they added a little and we very happy with it. Each package makes about 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 110 calories, 4 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbs, 2 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 870 mgrams of sodium. Additional nutritional information can be found online.


Vegetable Beef

This is a good soup for everyone. It's not as rich as the minestrone with just water, but if you add the optional tomato sauce it is quite rich. My kids prefer it to the minestrone. Preparation is about the same, as is the number of servings per package. Each serving has about 110 Calories, 850 mg of Sodium, 22 grams of Carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.


Creamy Potato

This is another family favorite. If you let it sit and simmer per the directions it becomes very creamy and full, not watery at all. We add a little salt and black pepper when we make it. Preparation is about the same, as is the number of servings per package. Each serving has about 150 Calories, 860 mg of Sodium, 27 grams of Carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.


"Darn Good" Chili

The kids like this, I like it, but my wife prefers canned hands-down. The flavor is mild, although the packages says 'mildly spicy' my family thinks it's just mild. This mix requires a 6-oz. can of tomato paste and 3.5 cups of water. Each package makes 4 1-cup servings. Each  serving has about 120 Calories, 520 mg of Sodium, 23 grams of Carbs, 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.


Cheddar Broccoli

I like this mix, the rest of the family doesn't, but they don't like any kind of cheese or broccoli soup. The flavor is good, and is quite acceptable as a cheese soup. I add some red pepper to mine and it's awesome. Each package makes 8 1-cup  servings. Each  serving has about 170 Calories, 960 mg of Sodium, 24 grams of Carbs, 1 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.


Chicken Noodle

The family likes this soup mix very much. The flavor is good, and it cooks quickly. We add a small can of Swanson's white chicken to it, along with some black pepper. It's very filling. Each package makes 8 1-cup  servings. Each  serving has about 120 Calories, 760 mg of Sodium, 22 grams of Carbs, 1 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.



This is my favorite, although the rest of the family wont touch any kind of gumbo. The flavor is good by itself, but is fantastic when you add some small chunks of sausage. I add some red pepper and paprika sometimes too to kick it up a notch. Each package makes 8 1-cup  servings. Each serving has about 130 Calories, 990 mg of Sodium, 26 grams of Carbs, 1 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.


Navy Bean

This mix is very good if you like bean soup. I do, my family does not. It cooks up nice and soupy, not watery or thin. Although I have not tried it yet, I am sure a few small chunks of ham would probably add a tremendous amount of additional flavor, not to mention some additional fiber. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 130 Calories, 940 mg of Sodium, 26 grams of Carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

Split Pea

This was a bust, none of us liked this, but to be fair we don't eat split-pea soup at all, it was just an experiment. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 110 Calories, 810 mg of Sodium, 20 grams of carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.



This is another tasty soup mix that is on the lower end of the dietary scale. Cooked as directed it's a little thin, but no more than many tortilla soups I have been served when dining out. Maybe ideal for food you can drink on the run from a thermos bottle. I add a little cayenne pepper to mine, and I think some Swanson's canned chicken cooked and added would make this a complete meal. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 90 Calories, 830 mg of Sodium, 22 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.


Alessi Soup Mixes

I had the Zuppa Toscana and it was great. The packet makes 1 quart of soup. Each serving has about 150 Calories, 660 mg of Sodium, 28 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein. Compared to other mixes this soup packs a bit more nutritional punch. I found it a bit more expensive as well.


Betty Crocker Instant Mashed Potatoes

My kids love these! They eat them like ice cream! Sometimes they add a little garlic salt and sour cream, but just as often as not they eat them as-is. Prepared as directed they are very good. They get thick and creamy and actually taste like mashed potatoes, not sawdust or chalk. Since you mix these with hot water and don't boil the mixture, I tried an experiment by putting the mix and hot water in a 1-gallon freezer bag to mix them. With a little gentle shaking motion they mixed up just as well as in a pot.


Idahoan Instant Mashed Potatoes

The kids didn't like these as much as the Betty Crocker's, but I did. They have a bit more 'potato' taste (you know, like dirt). Same as the others, they are better if you add a little garlic salt and sour cream, but it's not a must. Prepared as directed they are very good. Like the betty Crocker, these get thick and creamy and actually taste like mashed potatoes, but I had to cook them a little longer than directed. very good instant potatoes.

All in all, these seem to be decent products that I would eat on a daily basis, not just in an emergency situation. With a little care and planning, you should be able to buy these both locally at retail stores and in bulk from distributors. They will store well as packaged, and fit well into backpacks and fanny-packs. I have already started stocking up on these mixes, and I actually look forward to eating them.

Dear JWR:
I just cleaned my Royal Berkey and noticed that 3 of the 4 filter elements (the Black version) were loose. The adhesive that attaches the end-cap to the carbon filter came loose. So I called the vendor and they said Berkey will send free replacement filters for all of the filter systems I purchased. A remediation is in effect with manufacturer lots beginning with June. So if you have a black Berkey filter that was made before June of 2011, then check to see if the cap is loose. You may be drinking unfiltered water! - Ken C. in South Carolina

If one is planning to stock .308 Winchester or 7.62 mm NATO for SHTF, old West German 7.62 NATO ball ammo is the stuff to look for as warshot.  During the adoption phase of the M16 in Vietnam, West Germany and Sweden complained that the [55 grain] M193 round that shattered at the cannelure was inhumane and a violation of the Hague Conventions.  The US Army's Natick Research Center did tests with Swede and German .308 to prove that it did the same thing.  Of course they stopped complaining.

US 7.62 mm NATO Ball is much tougher built and simply plows through the target.  But the West German ammo goes in a few inches, tumbles sideways, shatters into two pieces and a storm of lead and creates a massive wound channel, offering the best terminal effects of 5.56 NATO combined with the power of 7.62 NATO. - Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large)

If you have any recommendations for items that we should add to The SurvivalBlog Amazon Store, please mention them in an e-mail. Note that if you click on one of our Amazon links and then "click through" to order ANY product from (not just the ones listed in our catalog), then we will earn a modest sales commission. So please bookmark one of our Amazon links. Then use that as your starting point whenever you plan to place an Amazon order. Thanks!

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Jonathan B. sent this: Inside the secret world of hackers Computer hackers are frequently denigrated as mere digital pranksters. But some are now finding they have the power to change the world for good

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My #1 Son spotted this: Pirate-Fighters, Inc.: How Mercenaries Became Ships’ Best Defense. My son's comment: "Sounds like something out of a novel."

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John M. sent this news from Idaho: Grizzly shooter garners support. (BTW, there is now a legal defense fund being raised.)

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Reader Craig R. advises: Check your airspace before building your retreat

"[[To the chief Musician, [A Psalm] of David.]] In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee [as] a bird to your mountain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 26, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am out of my comfort zone. We executed a move and I have to battle fear. I am afraid that we will fail. I am afraid that our plans have been too costly. Our “threes” have been reduced to one – and we all know that one is none. We no longer have three ways to heat, cook or travel. We don’t know the terrain well, nor do we know the roads.  We do not have all of our supplies here with us. And, to top it all off, today I opened a package of spiced almonds only to find they have gone rancid. What of the rest of our stored food that we lugged across country? We do not have our support group. We do not have quite a bit of our savings – moving costs a lot. Wow! I’m scared and discouraged. What if? Did you read the news? Are you watching the world as we know it unravel at a spectacular pace? What to do?

Praise, pray, re-evaluate and trust. That’s what we do. Thank God for where we are and what we do have. Thank God that we are finally in the American Redoubt. We are tough, we are faith filled, and we are not alone. I do not feel any of these things right now – I feel vulnerable, weak and very much alone. More than I ever have in my life, and I have been alone in some mighty places (like a very small village on the Arctic Circle to name one). So, maybe you, too, feel this way. Remember we do not live by feelings, but by faith. Here are ways to move beyond scared.  Be encouraged with me.

First look to God. Not to ask for more, but to -

  1. Praise God! I start at the beginning. Give praise when it does not easily flow. I stand on Matthew 6 – do not worry about these things. In my mind’s eye I see the unbeliever running after all that God will provide like a dog chasing his tail. I do not want to be like that, instead I see myself standing strong through God’s strength. He is the steel in my straight back, the iron in my muscles and the smile on my face.
  2. Believe…in Jesus, in your ability to do all things with the Lord’s strength and in the divine plan of God. Prioritize. First are the things of God…
  3. Have faith that no matter what happens, God is still in control. Psalm 91 promises that if we are in God’s secret place, we are protected. Move from depending on the world into God’s secret place (see Psalm 91). It is called prayer. Resolve to pray. Be determined to pray. Take a hiatus from the news and the concerns of this world and focus on God. There are times when it is prudent to withdraw from the concerns of the world for a bit. God instructed us to be still and hear His voice. Practice being still.

Second, look at the practical -

  1. Plan – dig out your written plan and list of lists and look it over. Check off the items that have been accomplished. Edit, rework and rewrite your plan. Don’t have one? Well, there is no time like the present. Get started today.
  2.  Focus on what needs to be accomplished.  For example, after our move we needed to look around first. Did you eat up as much canned goods as possible as we did? Then make a list and take the opportunity to shop around for the best prices. Except for amazing sales, nothing need be purchased at the moment. Just do the scouting. What are the prices and quantities? While you are out and about, look at the quality of fresh foods and meats. Find out if you need a card to purchase items at the sale prices. (I do not like to be tracked, so I choose to not shop at these stores unless I am willing to pay full price or the store will swipe their card for me. Usually, I just avoid these stores.) What other stores are in the area? A shoe repair shop? Where can fabric and sewing notions be purchases? Where are the gun shops and how extensive are their inventories? What are the locally owned places? Where do the locals shop? How far will you have to drive for bulk shopping, and is it a feasible drive during winter? Get your bearings.
  3. Does your overall plan look overwhelming? Then, put it away and just write a list for this day. Accomplish that list just for today.  I like to categorize my list into different areas of responsibility and commitments. For example, I am responsible for feeding, clothing and nurturing my family. I also run the household budget and pay the bills. I am the family secretary and keeper of the family calendar. I hold the office of chief logistics officer. I need to be in better physical condition. In addition, I am returning to teaching and finishing an advanced degree. We have barely recovered from a couple of disasters. This was not the ideal time to move across the country. However the rapid disintegration of our nation necessitates such a move. Therefore, my list of lists has different categories and under each category is a long-term list of what needs to be done for that particular area. When there is too much to be done, keep your master list out of sight. Work only with what needs to be done for the day or week. In this way, you will be able to concentrate and focus on what most needs to be done. Accomplishments provide motivation to keep going.
  4. Turn off the television, limit computer usage and movie watching . It is too much of an opportunity to waste time and not do what needs to be done right now. Besides, I find the shows on television so depressing.  Reading through Proverbs daily will help keep your perspective. I also like to remember that as in the days of Noah, the time is growing shorter. I do not want to be perceived as a “whacko” and draw unwanted attention to my household, but I also do not want to spend my time eating, drinking and being merry.  As it states in Sirach 4:20, Use your time well; guard yourself from evil, and bring upon yourself no shame.
  5. Turn a bit inward – toward your family. Now is not the time to be knocking on your neighbor’s doors and espousing your preparedness doctrine.  Look for like-minded individuals, but keep to yourself. Your family’s survival may depend on your discretion in the far too near future. If you, like me, left a close-knit group who provided emotional support for your ventures, remember that at some point we all need to learn to be self-sufficient. This may be just the opportunity for such practice. I know I had gotten complacent and thoroughly enjoyed the companionship of those who could see the coming darkness and were standing firmly in their faith.
  6. Improve your skills wherever you are. Now is the time to get better at something. If, like us, you have just moved and are not able to garden, then use the extra time you have wisely. Here are but a few ideas if you are having difficulty thinking of new skills you want to know or have not yet made a list of skills that your family needs to learn.
    1. Ham radio operator
    2. Wilderness first aid
    3. Sign language or lip reading
    4. Learn a foreign language
    5. Morse Code
    6. Practice bartering
    7. Lifeguard skills
    8. Any level of firearms skills above where you are now
    9. Self-defense
    10. Archery and bow hunting
    11. Fishing and preparing fish for eating
    12. Car maintenance
    13. Small engine repair
    14. Learn how to “read” others and practice the body language positions and facial expressions you desire to exhibit
    15. Sewing, knitting and mending
    16. Animal husbandry
    17. Knot tying
    18. A new musical instrument
    19. Cooking,  canning and other food preservation skills
    20. Leather working
    21. Welding
    22. Climbing and bouldering
    23. Any number of skills from JWR’s books and this blog
    24. Purpose to read and take notes on a book from your reading list that you have not had time to pursue…there are plenty of choices on JWR’s bookshelf that are available from the local library or for purchase.
  7. Re-evaluate – Take the time today to look at where your life is and where you want it to be. Many people get into a rut and have developed habits that they would rather not have. Deal with those habits (especially time wasters and ones that lead to poor physical conditioning) and actions (i.e. complaining, gossiping, and money draining actions that have little benefit). It takes effort, time and perseverance to look clearly at your own life and decide where you are.
  8. Purpose to succeed – success is not easily doing something for the first time, but having the persistence to continue at something until it is accomplished. If your re-evaluation of where you and your family are at this precise moment is not where you want to be. Do not despair, but carefully move on from here. Is your salvation secure? If so, that alone is to be celebrated!
    1. Clean something - make your living room and kitchen sparkle. Wash the windows and let in the sunshine.
    2. Mend something – almost everyone I know has some mending to do, and having broken items, gaping fences or unusable clothing can weigh heavily
    3. Make your bed – that surely is one way to feel successful
    4. Send out the forgotten card, letter or email – make someone’s day better
    5. Go the extra mile at work
    6. Update your resume and reference list – remember what you have already accomplished
    7. Work on your plan and list of lists
    8. Read a biography of a successful person that you admire
    9. Be determined to pay your bills and tithe before squandering even one penny
  9. Smile – this cannot be repeated enough! Purpose to have a merry heart. Purpose to bring sunshine to others. Purpose to be quiet rather than tell others their faults – they already know what they are. Purpose to treat yourself better by expecting that you will be diligent, seek excellence, strengthen your willpower and build endurance. A smiling person also interacts with others more positively resulting in better relationships.
  10. Surround yourself with inspiration. Spend time in a good church and with faith filled optimistic fellow believers. Remember those who have gone before you if they inspire. My relatives resettled by wagon train, survived the first depression, helped those less fortunate, overcame addictions, educated the women of our family since the turn of the last century, and built a town. Read the comics and look for good, clean fun. Play games with your children. Go to the local fair and laugh at the greased pig contestants. Smile even when you do not feel like smiling. Go outdoors and hike to the mountain top. Worship God in song, prayer and by reading the Psalms (try Psalm 103) for the bible tells us in Psalm 84, “Happy they who dwell in your house!” Learning to be inspired in our everyday life is good practice for learning to abide well in times of trouble. Besides, it does set a good example for our children.
  11. Exercise, eat right and get some sleep – it is evident by the massive research in this area that exercise and healthy eating have positive results. A regular regime and balanced meals help dispel fear. Well-toned people portray confidence, have perceived higher intelligence and elicit more positive interactions. They also deter those who only prey on the weak and infirm.
  12. Get outside and get some sun – How much fun can a family have being together in the great outdoors while soaking in the sunshine? There are plenty of opportunities for skills building in camping, hiking, boating, yard work, construction, biking and such. Just going for a walk together and pointing out edible plants will build muscle while providing lifelong knowledge. Lewis and Clark’s expedition would not have been successful had it not been for these skills. Much depends on knowing the right things at the right time. Start now, time is of the essence.
  13. Give – of your time, of your talent, of your treasure. But remember that your priorities are God and family first.  Keep your priorities straight or you will find yourself in a whirlwind situation where you are severely over-committed to others and have not time for yourself, your spouse, your job, your family, or for learning new skills and laying in supplies. Been there, done that.
  14. Control your thoughts – Chose what you will think about and what you will not. Do not allow yourself to dwell on the leeks and onions of Egypt. Instead, get busy making this day the best day you can. It is not always easy to make good thought choices, but be determined to keep at it. Do not ever give up.

Hi James.

I only have a few comments on Greg's treasure hunting article.

First! All people new to metal detecting need to know the first rule is: what ever you dig- fill in your holes, please fill in any holes you make, learn to dig a 'plug'. You Tube has a 'how to' do it the right way video. (Note: He's using a Mine Lab detector in the video)

Damaging the grass in your own yard isn't a big deal, but if a million people (since Greg posted on a very popular blog, and people might rush to buy a new detector!) started hunting the parks they will become closed to metal detecting forever in no time. Just think OPSEC. New people just don't know how to camouflage their digs, this is a major concern to everyone in the hobby. What should happen is the ground should look like it never happened when your done recovering your treasure!

I personally don't want to be banned from my local parks and when I leave they look better then when I find them. I pick up trash while walking around looking for targets. If everyone did this, no one would be thinking that we just trash places where we recover coins. I tend not to use the word 'dig' when asking for permission to recover coins also. People get the idea that you have a really big shovel and are going to leave a hole you can hide a body in.

People everywhere are watching us like hawks, so I totally agree with using head phones - it annoys people to hear beeps and squeals, it's really distracting as they think your finding treasure while in reality your digging pull tabs and bottle caps! :) They are really watching you because your walking around with "that Geiger Counter-thingy", detecting is weird and unusual to most people- understand that everyone is watching, wondering what your doing. Some people will stop and ask you if your finding anything. Think smart security before you answer. My stock answer is "I'm finding mostly trash, some change." and I show off the pull tabs, rusty nails, and other junk I recover. One sure time going detecting with little or no hassle is when people are scarce like early in the morning, or for me later at night. Got headlamp? 

As a beginner metal detectorist, I starting this year I've found some good stuff (keepers!) and a lot of trash. it amazes me to see that people have hit areas leaving uncovered holes and trash they decided they didn't want, even missing targets and giving up all together after digging a hole!  The quickest way to get metal detecting banned in your local park it to dig holes and leave messes for some poor grounds keeper to deal with- city workers and grounds keepers hate dealing with messes they didn't make. They already have to deal with picking up after other people's kids. So they won't be very tolerant of any problems. 

Next to the purchase of a quality metal detector getting a pinpointer should be next of your list of needs.

The Pro-Pointer from Garret is the best pinpointer on the market- it isn't cheap at $130 but it helps you zero in on your target making you able to dig smaller holes. Meaning less chance your work will attract negative attention from making big two foot wide bomb craters. Some people will even use a screwdriver to pop out targets. This tool is a must! with it you can figure out depth with out digging, and zero in on your target without digging a crater.  It's one of my "must haves." In fact if I didn't have this tool I'd consider taking a pass from detecting until I had one again- it's that important. I know, people that detect can zero in on coins with practice, but with this probe you can zero in with ease!

My experience is I started out with a cheap detector in the spring time of this year (so I'm no twenty year vet or anything) -I first purchased a bounty hunter for $200 and I was totally disappointed with it - I backpacked up to remote coal mining camping area and ghost towns here in PA and after five outings it broke. The cheaply made connecter failed on it. Sadly a cheap Chinese machine is just that cheap. My calls to the company were never returned and since it was still in it's warranty period I returned it to the store where I purchased it. I'm sure some people have good luck with them, but I did not.

And it was a good thing, since I traded up to something better. Don't go cheap when you first start out, you'll only regret it later.

I purchased a Garrett Ace 350 Metal Detector from a company in Florida called Kellyco. (It is a good company, and they have been in business since 1955 according to their web site.) My finds of goodies continued and I decided that I enjoyed the hobby enough to purchase a Mine Lab E-trac from Mike Post at Woodland Detectors. He gave me a great deal, I called him when I received my detector and he walked me through the setup of the new ETrac. His customer service is tops!  (I am a happy customer, and have no financial incentive with this company) No other company does what Mike does, and he's been Mine Lab salesman of the year a few times for a reason. He's about one of the best in his field, and he isn't just selling the products, he's using them -as this is his hobby too - he's got over five thousand hours on the ETrac. If you ever have a question just call or e-mail him.

I can say from my experience that metal detecting is hard, dirty, work! People will be discouraged over not finding goodies enough to make it worth while if they don't have the right attitude. Persistence is key.

A friend of mine joked that I paid $1,500 to find change, and to a point they are right! it's not always easy, as the local parks have been hit to death, but it's fun when you hit a nickel signal and it turns out to be a gold ring, or you find your first barber dime.

There is a down side and at worst not knowing your local laws will get you in to trouble with the local law enforcement. At very worst they will confiscate your detector and your car (depending on state, instruments of crime)- detecting in state parks, or government property is a no-no and they will use your detector as evidence against you until your court date, you might get your detector back, or you might not. Never detect around rail road tracks that are 'in use' as the people who run those places have the local police on speed dial. Civil war sites in some areas are historical, and in some areas 'state park sites' that are protected, if the ranger finds you out detecting at night expect heavy fines and some kind of monetary loss.  Learn your local laws, and GET PERMISSION for posted private property in writing to protect yourself. Don't wait until the police roll up to ask them to show you the law on the books (I'm not a lawyer, and Don't play one on television so it's best to find out what your legally allowed to and not allowed to do before your out actually doing it!)

I personally detect at night, since I work nights - it matters to have it in writing. if you can't get permission to detect go some place else. I know that in the area I live there are about ten baseball parks close to my place- how did I find them? By searching using Google Earth. So if someone asks you to leave, I personally haven't been asked to leave yet- but I'd just pack up and move on to less annoying pastures.

For the most part parks that aren't posted specifically in their rules having signs that say 'No Metal Detecting' you are usually safe to detect. Just keep in mind if you cut in to their lawn and don't clean up after yourself and they see you doing it they will likely fine you on the spot for damaging their property. I've noticed two extremes in my being out, either no one cares or everyone does- depending on times of day while who ever is around ... it's best to go when the people aren't there if you can help it.

Remember most municipalities are broke and looking for excuses to steal more money from the sheeple. Don't be that sheeple. Finding places to go can sometimes be challenging, but research is the key. Older homesteads that are now empty fields are about the best, if you have permission to hunt them from private owners. Going to the older gathering places, fairgrounds, even swimming holes no longer used might be productive.

My trash to treasure ratio improved greatly going from a $290 Ace to the $1,500 E-Trac. But if your budget doesn't allow for this, getting an "in-water" capable detector from Garret in the $550 to $650 range is a great comprise. The Garret AT Pro is one detector you can use in fresh water, recoveries are more technical- but no holes to fill. You know the theory is cold causes fingers to shrink while people are swimming and rings fall off in the water never to be seen again. I've seen some websites that people will find a few rings while out diving and detecting. (I'd also say the products they are using is way more then just what a dirt hunter is using for land use, SCUBA gear and underwater probes and detectors are pricey. so things will get expensive if you want to really get serious about detecting.) your finding gold might support your hobby, but I wouldn't count on that- my last few outings I netting about $3 both times out, no silver no gold- just clad change. it happens! I plan on going out again because it's addictive when you do find cool stuff.   Check out this amazing video link- his finds are not typical, but wow -outstanding water finds is all I can say!

I will also say as a warning watch out for sunburn, ticks, mosquitoes, wear gloves (due to glass in the ground) and tennis elbow from digging -I have it in both arms and it's like a toothache that doesn't go away--ouch!, and I still go out when I can because I purchased a chest rig that basically allows you to move the detector with two fingers while keeping weight off your arms. You still have to dig! the rewards some times out weigh the trash, some weekends you just can't win.  Other times you do find good stuff, just not every day.

Good luck and happy hunting! - Fitzy in Pennsylvania  


I thought the article on metal detecting was a good read. I have owned an inexpensive model detector for a few years, which I got shortly after borrowing one to find a gold wedding ring that was lost while hunting. We knew the general area that we lost it but after sitting through a snowy winter, the Mark 1 eyeball wasn't enough to find it! Money saved and a happy wife were well worth making an investment.

Just a quick additional way to "make" money using a metal detector. I reload my ammunition and my shooting range is my back yard. My detector has the ability to discriminate between metals to a point so set it to ignore steel and make a tone for brass. Now I can find all my brass in the tall grass and forest underbrush without dealing with any iron trash, if it beeps it's a case. I don't have to use a brass catcher, I can move around while running shooting drills and never have to pay to replace lost brass. Plus detecting is a good way to get off your rump and exercise a bit..

Thanks for your work! - Prepared Teacher


Dear James Wesley,
I have been wrestling with the idea of "caching" emergency supplies along my main and alternate routes to my retreat location. With OPSEC foremost in my mind, what recommendations would you or other readers make under the following conditions?

My current retreat is 170 miles from home.  With no friends or relatives on the primary or alternative routes, my options for caching are limited to public land.  This would generally be state or county parks and forests. Many of these have access restrictions based on time of day, and some on the calendar as well.  With the heightened "environmental awareness" that pervades our society, any disturbance in the terrain would draw both ire and a curiosity that would put the cache at risk.

Related to the article " A Treasure-Hunting Prepper", what recommendations would there be to minimize the cache being found by a metal detector?  Are there any containers that could be used to hide the "signature" of the item used?  Hiding survival tools, weapons, coins, food, etc. for an emergency doesn't do much good if it cannot be hidden until it is required by the owner.

The "Redoubt" is out of reach right now.  I live in the central part of the country on the "wrong" side of the Mississippi River.  Though not in the metroplex of the East Coast, certainly more folks live here than in the west.  This just adds pressure to the method and location of placement. 

Thanks for all the hard work put in by you and your staff. - "Old Dog" in Wisconsin

JWR Replies: The best ways to protect cached gear from metal detectors are: 1.) Pick cache locations on side-hills where no one is likely to be wandering with a detector, and 2.) Find rusty scrap metal to use as false targets. Bury a couple of layers of those above your caching container. That way, upon finding the "trash" target, most people with detectors will simply move on. (Even the most dedicated hunter with the very best equipment wil give up digging if they think that they are in an old dump. )

Coin shooting rarely brings in more than enough to recoup the cost of a detector within two or three months of work. But there are lots of people--mainly retirees but even some younger unemployed and "downsized"--that are making a decent living in the western U.S. and in Australia hunting for gold nuggets in placer mining districts. Many of these folks use high end detectors from companies like Minelab.

Reader Tom C. wrote to mention an inflation data point: He noticed that half gallon bottles of lamp oil selling at Wal-Mart just jumped from $4.97 to $5.97 in one week--about a 20 percent increase.

Morgan Stanley borrowed the most in financial crisis. ($107.3 billion in one month, with no public disclosure!)

Gil Morales and Chris Kacher QE3: Top 8 Reasons Gold Goes Higher. (Thanks to Steve H. for the link.)

US Government Asset Seizures On The Rise. (A tip of the hat to Stephen M. for the link.)

Over at Fierce Finance: Layoff misery on Wall Street just getting started.

Items from The Economatrix:

AP Survey:  No Recession But Weakness Will Endure

21 Signs that the New Reality for Many Baby Boomers Will be to Work as Wage Slaves Until They Drop Dead

Layoffs Sweep Wall Stret, Along With Low Morale

Serious Mortgage Delinquencies Rise in Q2

Free Food To Go is organizing a Preparedness Fair in Boise, Idaho on August, 26 and 27, 2011.

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Why the rebels finally reached Tripoli

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The folks at Directive 21 wrote to mention that they now have a limited supply of Crown Berkey Water Filter Systems in stock, ready to ship. (These are the six gallon system--the largest Berkey system available. )

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Kevin S. wrote to tell me about the Fluid Nexus web site. "Fluid Nexus is an application for Android phones and desktop computers enabling exchange of messages without the need for centralized mobile networks. "

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Also from Kevin: DIY Biosynthesis of Insulin and Thyroxine – Disaster Resilience and Personal Biotech

"Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combating the forces of evil... prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Doom, no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun. Eat leaden death, demon." - Terry Pratchett

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Because (the vendor that makes our five year archive CD-ROM) is presently moving from high tax New York to low tax Nevada (they deserve congratulations on voting with their feet!), you can expect a one week delay for any orders that are currently in process. Thanks for your patience!


Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In my prepping, one of the hardest things for me currently was the bug out vehicle (BOV), so as with any prepping activity I made my list. I first made my list for a “normal” BOV; 4x4, diesel, four doors, trailer hitch front and back, winch front and back, spare rims and tires, and enough storage for our stuff. Since we currently do not have a retreat location, we would have to be able to carry a large amount of supplies and equipment to the location we will be hunkering down at. Continuing the thought process I decided we would need an enclosed trailer. We have a small gas SUV, so we could use it as well. The reality of the situation grew, and without a retreat we would really have to plan on what we would and would not bring. Just my family would be three vehicles, two trailers, 7 people, and a years’ worth of supplies. The logistics did not add up. Talking to my wife, whom I am blessed with as she is a prepper as well, we began to look into motor homes. So again I made a list; 4x4, diesel, front and back door, trailer hitch front and back, winch front and back, spare rims and tires, and enough storage for our stuff. On a hot Saturday we set out on a tour of the used recreational vehicle (RV) lots. I was quiet unimpressed by the offerings. First motor homes are cheap in their construction with thin walls, cheap running gear and many have poor engine choices. At one of the location in the back they had an old school bus; someone had “converted” to a motor home. It was very poor workmanship, but it really got my mind clicking, and home I went to scour the internet. I was amazed at the expected services life of a school bus, 15 to 20 years before any major servicing; look at the average 20 year old RV and then a bus which would you rather have? They are made of steel, built on a truck frame, and the safety regulations are through the roof as opposed to a motor home. I thought about when tornados strike and they show the school yards; buses maybe thrown all over the place but they still look like buses. My mind was made up; I set out on the adventure of a life time I expect only to be exceeded by the craziness of bugging out.

There are a lot of forums out there that were very helpful, but none geared towards the BOV. So I had to blend the great information out there with the reality of the vehicles use, and my wife always reminding me that until its ultimate goal we can use it for fun. After tons of questions on the forums, reading, and research I decided on a mid-1990s, flat nose, Bluebird TC2000 front engine, with 90,000 miles. It was an ex-school bus, with awesome service records, and was sold only because of budget cuts! With a front engine flat nosed bus I can work on the engine from the inside of the bus, giving me some protection in a heated event. The bus was a 13-window bus, about 43 foot long bumper to bumper with a usable interior space of 39.5 x7.5 feet and roof height of 6.25 feet. The only thing it lacked was four wheel drive. I found several companies that can convert the "Big Bird", even though the cost would be as much as I paid for the bus and extra engine and transmission. I decided this would be the last thing I did to her; I figured since she has 20” of ground clearance, and tons of torque, we would be okay without it. It has a 5.9 Cummins diesel in it with an automatic Allison Transmission. A lot of people had issues with this engine claiming that it is under- powered. But after doing some research most of these claims were unfounded. This engine also is so common that I can go to the local auto parts store to get anything for it. And a used engine can be picked up for under $1,000--which I did within a month of the purchase of the bus. The transmission was the same, although finding a used one in good shape was little harder and took three months. I did a little research and found a mechanic that contracted to a large freight line. I spoke with him over a few weeks and worked a deal from him to rebuild the engine with my help, he also recommended a transmission guy who was a retired vet that worked on tanks in the army. The deal was to rebuild the second hand ones, install them and rebuild the pulled ones for storage. I know if I had to bug out I probably could bring them, but if the TEOTWAWKI holds off for a few years, and our gold and silver continues to increase in value we should have a retreat in two to three years.

Let the fun begin. I luckily did not have to strip the seats out, since I bought from a used school bus lot, they knocked $1,000 off if they got to keep the seats; however I did have to strip the rubber floor, this was a 30+ hours of labor endeavor. Once all the floors were stripped I was lucky to find no major rust, just some minor surface rust that a wire brush took care of. I sealed and primed the floor with a RustOleum industrial product. The walls were insulated with 2 inches of fire-resistant foam board giving me an R value of 15. I sheeted over some of the windows, and left the stock windows intact in the rest. The floor was covered ½ inch fire resistant foam and ¼ inch water resistant subfloor. At this point I had a blank slate. I had already worked through all of the designs in Google sketch-up, and was ready to go. I first did some rough framing in both wood and metal, being sure to mount everything securely and with some kind of adhesive between everything for both added bonding purposes and to help eliminate as many buzzes as I can. The framing went pretty fast. In the back of the bus I built a master suite, that included a murphy bed electrical panels, plenty of storage and floor access to both the 60 gallon stock diesel tank and the 100 gallon aftermarket tank. Next was a set of bunk beds; I installed ¼ inch hardened steel around the bunks giving us a small “safe room” when the bunk doors are closed. Following the bunk is the head which included a macerating toilet has an electric pump as well as a manual handle, and small 30x24 inch bath tube. Then the galley, were I installed a tankless hot water heater a diesel marine stove, and a 12v/120v refrigerator. Finally the salon which had two couches on either side of the bus and 60 gallon water tanks under each. I also installed three seat belts on each side.

With every system on the bus I tried to ensure there was a backup. On each side of the salon behind each water tank I installed a water pump and accumulator, which helps with water pressure. Both of these are wired and plumbed independent of each other only joining and the electrical box and the main water line. Both water tanks can be filled from access ports on either side of the bus. Hot water is supplied by either a tank-less hot water heater, or through water coils in the diesel stove. A simple valve and flip of a breaker chooses which heating source I use. The 12 volt system is anchored by 3,000 amp hours of batteries setup in three banks throughout the bus to distribute the weight. The batteries are absorbed glass mat (AGM) and again after doing the research I felt these would be the best for my application. They are managed and maintained by a charge control unit, of which I have two in place with a manual switch gear in between to choose which one is used, and two spare ones in the stock. On the roof I have 1,500 watts of flexible PV-panels. I have a dual pole high output alternator, running one pole to the engine battery bank, and one pole to the charge controller. The running battery bank also has a battery isolator installed with another line to the charge controller. Finally I have another switch gear in place allowing the engine to be cranked off of the salon battery bank if needed. All 12v equipment runs through a breaker box instead of fuses allowing me to stock less. Each wire run has a spare pair of wires in case one melts or breaks I only have to re-terminate to the spare pair. All lights are LED, both inside and out. I removed the old flashing lights and installed 3 million candle watt spot lights both front and back for a total of 12 million candle watts pointing each way. I figure worst case I could cook with these bad boys! The 120 volt system was kept to a minimum. It powers the two AC units I installed on the roof between the PVs, the tankless hot water heater, optionally the fridge, a few outlets throughout the bus and the 32 inch LED television at the front… I know but I had to do it. Under the back of the bus I mounted a 3,000 watt diesel generator/welder and a 7,500 watt quiet Onan diesel generator on opposite sides. They are both wired to a Tripp Lite 3,000 watt inverter that with burst to 6,500 watt if needed. The inverter has two inputs allowing me to connect both generators without a relay or switch. I purchased a spare inverter since this is one of the few single points of failures. I do plan on wiring it in with another switch gear in place; I just haven’t got to it yet. The inverter also acts as battery charger and a UPS for the whole system 120v system when you are running on it. The fuel lines for both generators and the diesel stove are plumbed off of the 100 gallon auxiliary tank. There is no hard connection between the stock 60 gallon road tank and the 100 gallon auxiliary tank so I can run non-road diesel in the auxiliary tank, saving a little money; and if the SHTF pumping from the auxiliary into the running tank won’t really be a big issue. Finally I have outside hookups on both sides of the bus. With these I can pull or push power. We lost power at our house when a pole was knocked down by a car. I used the box I installed on the house to hook the BOV up, flipped the main off, and powered our deep freeze, a fridge, a small air conditioning unit, and our television for 14 hours with no problem!

I also installed a motor home style security camera system. While driving it eliminates any blind spots, and when parked, it gives me a 360 degree view around the bus day or night.
Under the bus I have a 60 gallon black water tank and a 60 gallon gray water tank. I can dump either tank from either side of the bus. I have installed macerator pumps as well to help clear out the tanks a little easier. Down both sides, in-between front and back tires, I installed under the cab tool boxes like the ones big rigs put under their cabs. These are for both storage and access to needed equipment. I have installed a 100 foot reel 120v extension cord, I taped off of the air system and installed a 50 foot air hose reel, and finally I have installed a small shop-vac and a small air compressor also tied into the air system as backup in case the air brake system’s compressor goes out. The rest of storage is for tools and equipment use outside of the bus.

On the roof I had a rack made at a local welding fabrication shop to store two spare tires mounted on rims. This installs on the back of the roof, and allows me to “easily” get them off and on. A pulley system you utilize the buses winches is in the future for the roof of the bus. I did it once to test without the winches, and it took me and a come-a-long a little too long. A small collapsible ladder is attached to back as well; it is pad locked on, but can be extended from its mount to get to the roof if need be. The same fab shopped built me a front and back bumper with winch mounts and two inch receivers. They both have 12 inches of walking space as well as louvers over the radiator up front. The winches mounted are 15,000 lb winches front and back for a total of four and 100 feet of cable each. I should be able to get myself out of most anything with this setup, from pushing a few cars out of the way to pulling myself out of the mud, if I have something to tie on to.
We prepped the outside of the body and used a roll on truck bed liner product in desert tan. I left the roof white to try and keep the temperature down some.

Building the inside partitions and trim myself allowed me to create multiple hiding places for "just in case" items. These include a 12 gauge over the door, a Glock on either side of the bed, and Taurus Judge by the driver's seat. Unless you knew where they were you would never find them.

While we were installing the rebuilt engine and transmission we also completely re-did the brake system, this is when I installed the small pancake compress as a backup. We also went through the suspension replacing the springs and a few other worn out items. I thought about installing air bags, but was warned against it through multiple sources; I also figured it was one more thing to go wrong.

One of the biggest pains was getting the title converted from a private bus to a motor home, so that I would not need a special license. I had to get a weight certificate proving it weighs less than 26,000 lbs., pictures of the inside to prove it seats less than 14, I had to have insurance, which meant I had to get a temporary commercial insurance account (ouch), take all this to the DPS office along with the regulations printed out from the [state] DPS web site, and argue with them for hours until they did what the laws of the state say. Then I canceled the commercial insurance, and they “allowed” me to credit the extra to a new motor home policy.

The completed BOV, as we now call her, gets 10-12 miles to the gallon, weighs just shy of 25,000 lbs. (dry), and tows a fully loaded 9,500 lbs. trailer with no problems. The goal was to create a vehicle that would be self-sufficient for at least 30 days, be able to carry my family and supplies, and get us out of Dodge! It is just an added bonus that it is a blast for us almost every weekend to head out and go somewhere new and fun! We have taken 17 day adventures, never having to hook up to shore power or refuel. With our stored jerry cans, and some rationing we have no doubt we could make it 30+ days. Since the build started I have also purchased an older dodge pickup with the same engine and have started to work on a conversion to the same transmission. We have the truck setup to tow behind the bus, and a camper on the back for storage. If we were bugging out we would hook up our 16 foot enclosed trailer to the bus for a total length with tongue of 62 feet (keeping us under the legal limit of 65 ft.), and tow our small gas SUV with the truck.

I know this conversion is not for everyone, and as I said earlier this was the biggest adventure I have ever undertaken. It was a lot of work, and a lot of learning. Now that it is done, my wife was joking that there is half of the cost of our retreat. Even though she is right, I would still not want to be without her.

First, thank-you for the tip about the alloy G3 (HK91-compatible) magazines that CheaperThanDirt sells for just 97 cents apiece.  I placed an order for one hundred of them and shortly three big boxes arrived.  I've checked them out and surprisingly, many of them are still new in the wrappers, and the rest are in really decent shape.  I've never bought a rifle backwards (buying magazines first, then buying the rifle to match), but since I like the .308 Winchester round and have a few other rifles in that caliber this seemed like an interesting preparedness exercise.  I started looking around at .308 (7.62 x 51 NATO) battle rifles and I really liked the looks of the SI Defense AR-10s that take the HK mags, and as I drooled over those, I checked out the PTR91s based on your suggestion. (Thanks again, for that). 

The PTR 91 seemed like a good looking rifle to me and after sorting through a whole lot of internet blather (mostly old posts from when the rifle was newly out that are still on the web) I thought I'd take a chance. Particularly as the PTRs are CNC-machined and precision stamped, built from the original HK91 / G3 blueprints, and it just seemed like a slick design.  Once I got  the rifle, I was shocked how utterly stout the weapon is, and I marvel that it's just built like a tank.  The great thing about it is that it can be field stripped in seconds down to the most critical parts to clean.  Push a few pins, and put them in the holes conveniently located in the stock, pull the stock out and  push out another pin for the trigger assembly which swings down and out and it's ready to be cleaned and easily reassembled.  At first I was a little concerned at how tight everything is, but gradually, with a bit of cycling and working, things began to loosen up to what I call a perfect fit (how often can you say that about a new weapon).  I guess the PTRs are somewhat pricey – I paid about $1,275 for a PTR91-SC (Squad Carbine) that seemed like a good deal. I'm also thinking about a CETME, but hard to imagine after having the quality of the PTR91 in hand.  Eventually I plan on getting a Choate folding stock for my squad carbine – just an after thought about being able to manage a smaller package in the event of SHTF and to have a little more versatility.

Lately, I have seen that .308 ammo is skyrocketing.  Fortunately, I was able to buy 1,000 rounds of South African off of the local gun forum.  I noticed that CheaperThanDirt had German 200 round battle packs, comparatively less expensive, and ordered several of those.  Finally, I found British Radway Green 7.62 x 51 very reasonable (again, comparatively), and bought the special which is 160 rounds per ammo can and three cans of 480 per box, at Classic Arms in North Carolina.  (They were great to deal with.)  The Radway Green comes linked – 4 rounds per.  I found a good youTube video about de-linking .308 and found that using a rubber mallet, tapping the single heavier link to the right works fine, particularly when having a good piece of heart pine flooring scrap clamped to the bench. Just set the bullet point down on the wood and tap the link down.  The link falls off, the round becomes free and on and so it goes.  It took me a couple of hours to de-link 960 rounds, particularly as I took breaks from the monotony.  I found that all the ammo minus the links  fit in three ammo cans, loosely packed.  I've saved the six other smaller cans it all came in for something else.  I recommend the Radway Green ammo, even if it is a bit of a pain to de-link it.  This is one of the best deals around.  You may want to wipe off each round with an old towel, also, because there is a funky smelling lubricant on them.  The Radway Green isn't perfect, brand new Federal Match looking, but hey, for 1993 NATO specification, who's complaining?

So, again, thanks James, for the tips about the HK mags, and the PTR91.  Thanks, also, for the good work of SurvivalBlog. - Mr. M.

JWR Replies: In addition to buying a couple of hundred alloy HK G3 magazines from CheaperThanDirt, I also recently bought 30 of their steel G3 magazines for $1.97 each. A few of these had light surface rust which cleaned off easily with Break Free lubricant. But about half of the magazines looked absolutely new aside for some fresh shipment wear. Some of them even had the distinctive crystalline "crinkle" look of fresh parkerizing. That is amazing, considering that most of these magazines were manufactured in the early 1960s. What a great deal!

Disclaimer (per FTC File No. P034520): I accept cash-paid advertising from To the best of my knowledge, as of the date of this posting they have never solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, nor have they provided me any free or reduced-price gear in exchange for any reviews or endorsements. I am not a stock holder in any company.

Hi Mr. Rawles:
I want to share with you today’s events in Washington DC. I came home early from school and decided to go to the gym to burn off some of those summer pounds. As I was walking to the gym (two blocks away), listening to my iPod. All of the sudden I heard some crashing and screaming. Since this is DC, everything happens so I kept on walking. I finally realized that something was definitely wrong when I saw people pouring out from every building including a rather overweight man wearing only a bath towel  that was way too small for his waist. After finding an English speaker (I live in a mostly Hispanic area) I found out that it was an earthquake which apparently I did not feel. Immediately I tried calling my fiancée who was in our apartment but of course all the lines were busy. I sprinted back the one and a half blocks to our apartment and to my delight I saw her, on the sidewalk. She was barefoot, dressed in a bathrobe, with a pair of shoes in one hand and her Bug-Out-Bag in the other. I had never been so proud of her.  

All of it is thanks to the information on your blog that gave us food for thought and a foundation on which to build.   Sincerely, - B.K.


If you read the mainstream media, you;ll see how the Dow Jones average 'soars' when it breaks its downward spiral and posts a 2% gain - when the 'good' news is out of Germany and China - never mind that the market is still down 12.5% from where it was a month ago.

But, in contrast Gold 'tanks' - 'is at the top of a bubble' - 'isn't money' - when it pulls back 1.5% at the top of a rally that saw prices up 19% over the same time period.

Paper promises of debt aren't money, and 'securities' are anything but secure.  Hard times are coming - after you've prepared to feed and protect your family, don't trust what's left of your wealth to someone else's promise to pay.

Beans, Bullets, and Bandaids for the body, and don't forget a Bible to feed, protect, and heal your soul. - Tony B.

Hola Mr. Rawles,
¿Qué tal? I enjoy your blog, and I appreciate what you are doing.

In the latest daily edition I noticed the mention of SpecOps Brand gear as being high quality and American made. It is, and I have been very satisfied with all of the Spec-Ops brand gear I have had over the years. It is good stuff.  Their clearance section is just the icing on the cake.

Are you also aware of the Tactical Tailor brand gear?  They are just outside of Fort Lewis, Washington.  It is designed and made in the USA, and it's extremely high quality gear.  I have been very pleased with my Tactical Tailor gear. 

When the US Army switched from woodland camouflage to ACU, all of Tac Tailor's woodland gear was at least 60% off. It was an ideal opportunity for me, and I kitted myself out very well as a result. I understand that our military doesn't change camouflage patterns often, but it can be a good opportunity to save some money on quality military gear when it happens. It certainly worked out well for me (and I happen to prefer woodland to ACU).

I used to be a bigger fan of Blackhawk gear (and I am still a huge fan of their Serpa holsters), but they seem to have changed over the last few years. I guess that's a hazard with any big business expansion, but these days I prefer Tac Tailor and Spec-ops to Blackhawk.

In any case I hope all is well with you and yours.

¡Vaya con dios! Saludos, - Ignacio

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. Another true America-made web gear company that I recommend is The Vest Guy.

I also agree with your dislike of ACU camouflage. It has aptly been described as "The ideal camouflage pattern to wear when hiding in a gravel quarry." Frankly I see no utility in it, aside for someone that lives in sagebrush country. The new MultiCam pattern blends in much better in a far wider variety of foliage, and the older BDU Woodland (or the similar DPM pattern colors for those in the UK Commonwealth) are also very practical.

Matt in Colorado Springs, Colorado sent us this: Can you survive if you're YOYO? Commissioner preaching preparedness

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson wrote to mention that he will have eight tables at the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show this weekend (August 27th and 28th) in Indianapolis. SurvivalBlog readers are welcome to drop by to chat. Look for 8 tables of swords, knives and other edged tools, toward the back right of the hall. I assume that he'll have some of his notorious famous WWF Panda T-shirts with him.

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Richard S. recommended this video: Making a Knife.

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Mike B. spotted this: Coin dealer Steve Halfon robbed, slain near his Brooklyn shop. (Better situational awareness might have helped. So would a concealed weapons permit. Too bad that they are almost impossible for mere mortals to obtain in New York City.)

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I received an e-mail today sent by Nan from Seed for Security. She mentioned that her company is offering a gift to customers ordering $45 or more. It includes a free pint of Winter Rye and a 300 seed packet of Indian meal corn. Also, check out their newly-available seed varieties!

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The Lemonistas: Capitol Police arrest Lemonade Freedom Day protesters. (Thanks to Steve H. for the link.)

"The true character of liberty is independence, maintained by force." - Voltaire

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

If you have been following the precious metals market lately, and you either have been or are considering the idea of investing in silver or gold, you fully appreciate the degree of value both metals have increased to. Market volatility is sparking renewed interest in precious metals as a means of protecting investments. Historically, civilizations understand the value and rare properties gold and silver offer. Regardless of what Ben Bernanke thinks, gold is money, and has been a form of currency, more so than the fiat currency that he continues to run off the printing press. The problem is that the increasing value of precious metals is making investing much more difficult. What most people don’t realize is that they are walking on or near small treasures everywhere!

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, where our fiat currency is used for toilet paper, finding these small treasures would be a godsend. After the Schumer splatters off the fan blades, it will still be possible to have a continuous supply of gold and silver to barter with. “How”, you may be thinking? The opportunity to prepare for the ability to do this would be now, not later, by purchasing a metal detector today. Buying a metal detector and adding it to your supply of tools will give you the advantage of finding money with very little effort. This money could be used to barter for food, ammunition, and many other items during a survival period lasting much longer than anticipated. Using a metal detector today will also help you store up more silver and gold in your cache without disturbing your current income to invest in tangible goods. That is a huge benefit considering the current cost of metals.

I have been metal detecting for about 20 years now, and find the hobby to be more rewarding than ever. This is mostly because the value of the pre-1965 halves, quarters, and dimes are worth so much more today than 20 years ago! When I began detecting as a hobby, the coins found were only worth a few times face value. Today, they are approaching 30 times face value, and will be sure to continue, possibly exponentially if TSHTF. In terms of investment, the cost of a well-made metal detector is easier to justify when evaluating the climbing value of silver and gold.

Metal detectors can be purchased at your local Big Box Store and Radio Shack, but understand that these Chinese-manufactured detectors are cheap and worthwhile only for finding lost keys. They can only detect a few inches below the surface because the sensitivity is so poor. Companies such as Fisher Laboratories and Whites, are two American companies that have been developing the technology for decades, and build solid, sensitive instruments that dominate the field. Another company that I have heard good reports about is Bounty Hunter. Two other companies that are popular are Garrett and Tesoro, although I haven’t talked to anyone about their personal experience with these detector companies. What I can tell you is that in this business, you definitely get what you pay for. Purchasing a metal detector can be costly, but the extra expense of buying a quality unit is something you will not be remorseful about. When deciding what brand and style of detector to buy, you will need to do some market research. Besides the internet, there are specialty stores that sell detectors. Check your Yellow Pages for companies in your area that sell them. There, you will most likely be able to handle the units, and ask about company experience such as customer complaints and return issues for particular models. Most small dealers will also usually have a patch of ground to hand test the different models before buying them. This test drive experience allows you to see how different models feel and sound. It also allows you to test features such as ground rejection and discrimination of trash. Another source of knowledge are testimonials. You can research the internet and ask dealers for information on metal detector clubs. These club members are often the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and are almost always eager to share their experience and opinions. Also, don’t hesitate to approach someone you see out detecting. Don’t start out by asking them what they are finding, but jump straight to the point and ask them about their detector.

Understand that metal detecting can be a time consuming adventure that requires research and patience. Don’t think that you will turn it on and find a pocket full of coins and rings in ten minutes. It seems that I dig three holes with trash for every hole with a goody. Depending on the situation, a metal detector’s discrimination can be increased to avoid the pull tabs and tin foil, but then gold and nickels can be lost. If you are searching at a public park, higher discrimination levels should be used, but just understand that fewer trash targets are dug at the expense of possibly leaving that gold high school ring for someone else to find. At almost $1,900 an ounce, it’s a risk you’ll have to negotiate at the cost of sore hands and a bucket full of pull tabs! Some identification detectors utilize an LCD with the ability to display the likely contents of a hole (and other information), but it doesn’t completely eliminate trash. Non-ID detectors can be purchased that don’t utilize an LCD feature, and last several more hours per set of batteries, but more than likely you’ll find more trash and treasure. I own both types, and see the advantages of each. Just understand that patience can pay off big time.

Research is another way that you can increase your odds at finding hot areas for treasure. Awhile back, some local construction was happening in an area that used to be home to a county fair in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Since the dozers were pushing around a lot of dirt, some detector buddies and myself took advantage of the worker’s weekend absence and spent a few hours of searching to discover some really nice finds. It takes opportunity and research to reveal some hidden areas that decades of detecting have overlooked. It seems that most of the obvious and easy targets (like city parks) have all been searched over time and time again. It is a wise investment to purchase historical references on the area surrounding your future retreat as well as your current area. These books and maps sometimes reveal things long gone such as old churches and one room school houses in the country. Your local historical society and library should be able to provide these. I once spent some time searching around an old school house that had been abandoned in the 1950s. The elderly lady that gave me permission to hunt there also told me about the location of another country school that she went to as a little girl. It also was the property where the early pioneers came to draw drinking water. The land was simply a farm field in the middle of nowhere. That ground revealed coins from the 1800s along with other items like marbles and buttons that the rain had washed off the plowed dirt. Do yourself a favor and get your experience detecting around your home town now, but also put some materials like old maps away for your rainy day of detecting around new targets of opportunity near your retreat after TSHTF. Don’t let the dust settle on your new detector. Get out there and use it!

You will also need to prepare yourself for OPSEC both now, and in the future. When you have permission to detect and keep what you find on a property, don’t show the valuables you find to strangers or to the land owners. I once read a story about a gentleman that detected around an old farmhouse. After he was finished, he decided to thank the owner for permission and show what he had found. The lady of the house was very impressed with the money he found, and sorted out and kept the pre-`65 silver in the pile. That left the man standing there dumbfounded that he just let his day’s efforts be taken away. When detecting, use one of those aprons for nails found at hardware stores. This can hold your knife for hole cutting/digging, and also your trash. A double pouch allows a few pennies to be left on one side and the trash for disposal in the other. If approached, the pennies could be presented as your finds while your silver or other treasures are nestled in your front pocket. I’m not suggesting that you lie, but rather only present part of the finds. If you are asked if that was all you found, just present the other pouch of trash!

Another item to invest in is a good pair of headphones. I’m not necessarily talking about those foam covered cheapies, but rather the old fashioned kind that surround your ear. This enables two things. First, it allows the deeper and fainter signals to be heard well. It also prevents the loud beeping of the detector from being heard and drawing unwanted attention. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, there will be people who recognize that a detector is for finding money. Should silver be worth hundreds of dollars, they could just wait for you to finish the task, and then violently take your detector and precious finds. Wearing headphones partly prevents you from being aware of your surroundings. In this situation, a second person should be available to accompany you on your day of treasure hunting while looking out for any zombie opportunists. Of course, both of you should be armed!

The detector is a sensitive instrument, and should also be protected from EMP threats. The large round disc on the detector that is swung is called the coil for a good reason. It is a coil of copper wire containing possibly hundreds of feet that becomes an effective antenna and will amplify an unwanted large current caused by EMP to sensitive electronics. Some detectors like the Whites may be housed in metal, but the coil and electronic body should be disconnected and stored in a faraday box if possible. It should also be mentioned that it would be a good idea to store a dc powered battery charger for the detector batteries and a small solar panel for the charger.

I will conclude by saying that the ground around us contains millions of lost coins and jewelry. Most people blindly walk over it on a daily basis without the knowledge of how to find it. Being able to find it can be a way to sustain a constant supply of silver when it may be the bartering currency of choice in our dim future. It also has the possibility of elevating yourself to a position of wealth if the precious metals market continues. Of course, nothing beats the value of faith in our lives, and I hope you trust more in the God that has provided everlasting life than your entire storehouse of beans, bullets, and Band-Aids. Grace cannot be destroyed, burned, rusted, stolen, or be eaten by moths. It is absolutely free, yet the most valuable thing I have ever been given.
Happy digging!

JWR Adds: It might sound odd, but old outhouse sites are ideal for metal detecting, if you are willing to sweat some, to dig. These sites are safe and non-odiferous to dig if they've been disused for at least 20 years. (The feces have long since decomposed into soil.) Some of my friends have found an amazing number of coins in their outhouse digs, all the way up to a $20 gold piece!  The very best of these sites was an outhouse in Nevada that they later determined had been behind a saloon.      

Here in the Western United States, you may find that the synergy of GPS navigation (with WAAS), Google Earth imaging, and modern metal detectors can help you find virtually forgotten and "lost" ghost town sites.

Most of my metal detecting experience was with a Minelab brand detector looking for gold nuggets. But I can relate from my friends' experience that one quite good "coin shooting" metal detector that is reasonably priced is the Bounty Hunter Discovery 3300.

Thanks for the timely letter on Hurricane Preparedness Steps by Florida Dave.  Unfortunately, I am by necessity working on that checklist this week. 

I'd recommend adding a couple of items to his list:

At 48 hours before landfall, when securing important papers and photos, I suggest that video or photos of the contents and exterior of the home be recorded for insurance purposes.  

Also, at 24-to-10 hours out, super shock your swimming pool if you have one. (A swimming pool is a great resource if power and water go out for a few days.)

- John in Florida

Ron B. presented some good information in his post, "Re: Some Observations on Non-Electric Lighting"; however, I would like to make a correction and several additions.  He states, "everything that burns gives off carbon monoxide" and then goes on to list several items, none of which give off  [any significant] Carbon Monoxide (CO) if they are functioning properly and are operating with adequate ventilation.  CO is produced [in detectable amounts] only when there is incomplete combustion due to low oxygen or a temperature. too low for complete combustion.  Cigarettes, Cigars, and Incense are designed to operate with incomplete combustion and do not burn, but instead smolder, producing smoke and CO.  Open flames like a birthday candle  produce mostly CO2 and water vapor.  I would point out that all modern combustion appliances contain (or should contain) an oxygen sensor, which will shut off the device long before the oxygen is low enough to produce CO.

On the vegetable oil lamps, or any liquid fuel lamp instead of using cotton, a fiberglass wick works well and is nearly maintenance free.  We had an old Kerosun heater that came with a cotton wick that needed to be trimmed a few times per heating season and replaced every few years.  We spent a little extra money and replaced it with a fiberglass wick that operated maintenance free for years.  A search of "fiberglass wick" brings up numerous suppliers with wicks for most equipment and uses.

Finally, I would like to put in a good word for the Aladdin kerosene mantle lamp.  These are mentioned in passing toward the end of the article, but I personally think they should be place high on the list for consideration.  They will burn 12 hours on a quart of lamp oil or kerosene, produce a bright white light output equivalent to that of a 60-75 watt incandescent bulb, and produce about 3,000 BTU per hour of heat.  The heat may be an issue in the summer, but can take the chill off of the room in the winter.  These lamps are a little expensive, but in my opinion, well worth the money.  I have a half dozen of them we keep ready for emergencies, and they are used by all of the local Amish, which is where I first learned about them more than 30 years ago. - L.V.Z. in Ohio

Be prepared for more of the roller coaster rider in the precious metals markets. If spot gold closes over $1,950, we can expect the COMEX governors to slap the futures market with substantially higher margin requirements. This may cause a temporary sell-off that will be a great buying opportunity. (The manipulators can depress the futures market in the short term, but the physical market is so strong that the precious metals bull will eventually renew its charge in the long term.)

It appears that the window of opportunity for stockpiling nickels will soon be closing: Mint awards firm contract to research alternative coinage metals

Reader J. McC. suggested an article by Bill Gunderson: Sturm, Ruger Looks Better Than Gold

John R. sent us this from Der Spiegel: Dutch Finance Minister on the Debt Crisis 'We Are All Threatened by Contagion'. JWR's Comment: I believe that these these "We're standing firm against bailouts" proclamations from Germany will continue right up to the day that they actually cave in and bail out the bankrupt countries on the european periphery. (If they don't relent then Euro will cease to exist as we presently know it.)

How muddy, these waters: Goldman Sachs VP Changed His Name, Now Advances Goldman Lobbying Interests As Top Staffer To Darrell Issa. (A hat tip to Marie O. for the link.)

B.B. sent this: Soaring Price of Gold Ignites Wave of Robberies in Los Angeles

Rob McEwen: Predicts $5,000 Gold and $200 Silver Prices  

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks jump; Dow has its best gain in two weeks

Gold Prices Sink Further After Earthquake
. (In related news: Quake shakes East Coast, causes evacuations.)

Wild Swings in Stock Markets Wipe Out IPOs

Greece Expects Recession to Deepen

New Gold Standard Means Depression

K.A.F. flagged this: Localize It: PodPonics Grows High-Tech Organic Produce In Shipping Containers

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John in Montana spotted this: Portable House, Simple Life

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Reader Chris H. recommend Cooking Wild magazine, a publication dedicated to wild game recipes.

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Bob R. suggested this at the C-SPAN web site: Heritage Foundation Discussion on the Electromagnetic Pulse Threat

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I have often bemoaned the dearth of true American field gear makers. (Most of the web gear on the market is now made in China.) But reader Ken S. wrote to mention that SpecOps Brand is 100% made in the USA and has a lifetime guaranteed. Ken notes: "One tip for your readers: The SpecOps web site has a clearance section where you can get their close out items at up to 60% off. For example, one of their backpacks is selling there for only 1/2 of what I paid two years ago!"

"In the age of lies, even the clumsiest frankness is preferable to the best-orchestrated ruse." - Albert Camus, Combat

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging. 

I suppose that I have a “prepper” all of my almost 57 years. The oldest of four children, I was raised by my engineer father who would probably seem quite believable as the father in the bomb shelter in the movie Blast From the Past. My mother went along with my father’s seemingly odd ideas, but I don’t really believe it went past accommodating some ‘strange ideas’.
This article is about the psychology of a perceived ‘survival’ event, at least. First you will need a little background:

I was with my father on the way back from my uncle’s house in a neighboring town one night in the middle 1960s. We were talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis [a few years earlier] and the President’s response to it, when my father asked me if I realized that we lived almost on the “bulls-eye” of one of the nation’s top ten nuclear targets.

At that time, the Phillips Petroleum Refinery in Phillips, Texas, was the largest refinery in the world, and it was about 15 miles downwind from our house. We also lived within a few miles of two carbon black plants, used as one of the major ingredients in manufacturing tires, making ink, and even refining sugar. We were not far, about 50 miles, from Amarillo, Texas, on what had recently become Interstate 40 and had been Route 66, which was the major east to west coast route, and was also on the major route north to south from Mexico City to Canada.

Needles to say, this was a lot for a young kid to take in and assimilate even though I had been aware of all these things peripherally for a long while. Whenever I was able to talk and think again, I asked if that was why he had always been so insistent about my brothers and I joining the Boy Scouts, and learning about first aid, survival, and shooting and such. He just said, “Yes.” A few miles later he told me that if I ever heard on the radio or television of an impending attack on the United States, or anything that would make me think that one might be coming, that if I was away from home, I was not to attempt to return home until I was sure it was safe to do so.

I said "Okay "almost automatically, never thinking it could actually happen. I did start to work a bit harder on Scouts and merit badges than I had been, but even at that age it seems I had already learned OPSEC. I rarely mentioned my father’s odd notions, even to the other Scouts working on badges alongside me.

A few years later, and it still seems incredible to me that so few people know of this incident, there was a mix-up in the tapes used for the Emergency Broadcast System. If you have ever looked at an old car radio from the late 1950s to the 1970s, you might have noticed the two little triangles on the dial for the CONELRAD system. These were where you were supposed to tune to in the event there was actually such an event. This was probably as close as the system ever got to being used.

Like many teens in my area, I was listening to my car radio, tuned to what was then a rock & roll station, KIXZ in Amarillo, Texas. I had been out that morning, scouting on the north side of Lake Meredith, researching where my younger brother and I would try deer and turkey hunting later that fall. It was shortly after noon, and I had just left the lake and was heading back home. The announcer came on stating that there would be a test of the Emergency Broadcast System, which was nothing noteworthy in those days. The test message wasn’t what came across, though. It was the real one. I stopped literally in the middle of the road.

The announcer came back on, saying that he didn’t know what was going on, but to stay tuned and he would let us know. That conversation with my father several years ago, and my promise to him, immediately came flooding back into my mind.

I turned the car around and headed back into where I had been that morning. According to the Civil Defense literature, you were supposed to get to low ground and as protected a spot as you could manage, in no more than fifteen minutes.

I headed for a spot my brother and I referred to as “Lone Ranger Rock,” as it had a fanciful resemblance to a rock that appeared time and again in the old Lone Ranger television program. It was a huge split piece of a soft chalk-like rock, with the split running roughly north and south, and offered probably the best cover I could get within the next fifteen minutes. The split was large enough for me to park in, and I could open one door. I sat there for the next 45 minutes, listening to the radio as they updated us on what they knew, which at first wasn’t very much.

Sitting there, I began to make a list of what resources I did have with me. In addition to my outdoor clothes and hunting boots, I had a standard transmission ’64 Dodge Dart sedan with a 225 slant-six engine in good running condition, with tires that were about 9 months old.
   I had $16.84 in my pockets.
   I had a good jack and just over ¾ of a tank of gasoline.
   I had my Scout pocketknife, a Marlin semiautomatic .22 carbine with a sling, and a grand total, once I finished searching the car, of 224 rounds of .22 LR ammunition. (I had been not-very-seriously hunting bullfrogs that morning without success, and rattlesnakes were also common in that area.) I also had eleven #7½ 12 ga. shotshells.
   I had a wool sweater, a t-shirt, moccasins, and a pair of jeans in the back seat, in a brown paper bag. I had an apple and half of a small bag of potato chips from my lunch.
   I had my brother’s and my backpacks and camping gear in the trunk, from a camping trip with the Scouts. We just hadn’t bothered to take the stuff in to the house after our trip, other than some clothes that we needed to wash.
   That gave me two good sleeping bags; my compass; my sheath knife; my brother’s sheath knife; two mess kits, four filled metal matchboxes with home-waterproofed strike-anywhere kitchen matches, possibly 100 altogether; a couple of waterproof ponchos; two plastic groundsheets; and maybe three cans of food, plus maybe some snack food stuff that was left over and we hadn’t eaten.
   I had three first aid kits; a big one in the car that was like what the Europeans required then in all automobiles, and two pocket first aid kits that would each probably fill a Band-Aid tin. In fact, mine was in a Band-Aid tin. Mine at least, had some water purification tablets, about 20.
   I had three one-quart canteens, only one of which had water in it, and a two-quart canteen, which was full.
   I had a hatchet, and an entrenching tool that stayed in the car at all times.
   And I had three fishing rods and some assorted tackle. And that was it, as best I can remember.
   The event made me think, as you can tell. I remember very well what I had, because at the time I was thinking it might be all that I would have to start the rest of my life, if the world made some bad choices in the next few minutes.
   Quite frankly, I was amazed at how much I did have with me. It could have very easily been far less. I was almost sick, sitting there waiting for the announcer to come back on and tell us what he could find out. I didn’t even know whether I was a coward, or a dutiful son.
   When the man finally came back on and told us it had been a mistake, I sat there for a long time. I wasn’t sure whether I could believe it truly was a mistake, or if his statement had somehow been disinformation that had gotten into the system; in short, if I could believe what I was being told.
   I had no way to check it, other than to listen to other radio stations; believe me, I did. I finally found a second station that mentioned it, almost an hour later. I never found a third radio station that mentioned it.
   Finally, about dusk, I started back to town. [The tape mix-up] was on the evening news on the television. My family had never heard a thing about it, all day long.
   It has been a long time since that day. I never go anywhere without some kind of what is now called a “get-me-home kit”. I had a ‘Bug-Out Bag’ before it had a name.    
   It was a “just-in-case kit”, and its contents have varied over the years, along with my work and locations. I no longer live in that area, and my father is years ago deceased. But I have long had what Dean Ing called a ”tenacity kit” in his underrated book, Chernobyl Syndrome.
   I read Mel Tappan’s articles when he wrote for Guns and Ammo. I subscribed to “Survive” magazine when it first came out, after I figured out how to do it and yet not have my name appear on any list.
   I served my country in the Army, both here and overseas. I was an acting First Sergeant, before I mustered out. I won’t mention my training or assignments, other than to say there were a lot of both.
   But of all my life and career, that hour in the Canadian River Breaks is still one of the defining moments in my life.

Note: This post was updated on Oct. 18, 2011 to reflect ongoing tests.  I was furnished a loaner weapon and 500 rounds of ammo.  This is a neutral review, with no compensation discussed or received.

The Next Generation Arms X7 Rifle is billed as extremely accurate, durable and low maintenance. To test this, the first thing I did was degrease it with brake cleaner.

Upon examining this rifle, one realizes a lot of effort went into ergonomics. The VLTOR stock has Quick Detach (QD) swivel mounts on both sides, the receiver end plate has one and there's one on each side of the hand guard. The hand guard is milled from two pieces of 7075T6 aluminum so well fitted they look like a monobloc. The handguard and rails run forward to the gas block, with side mounted rail sections as well. Next Gen is making those removable for future models.

Mechanically, it has a crisp Geissele trigger that breaks consistently at 5 lbs, a Noveske stainless polygonal barrel, mid-length gas system, BCM bolt carrier group (properly staked) and Gunfighter charging handle, a billet lower with forged upper, a proper impact extruded 4 position buffer tube, also staked, and a very advanced ceramic coating all over. This provides a low friction surface that most gas particulates simply can't adhere to. The magazine well is flared and cut so even Magpul PMags and Thermolds will drop free easily. The rails are perfectly to spec so no force is needed to slide accessories on. The muzzle brake is loud and blows a lot of gas at bystanders, but recoil is reduced to negligible levels. The charging handle can be slightly stiff for smaller shooters, due to the heavy recoil spring.  Sights are optional but available, since most shooters prefer to choose their own.

From a 16" carbine, sub 2" 10 shot groups were easily attainable at 100 yards using a scope, good commercial ammo and a sandbag. Best group so far was 5/8" (300 feet ASL, 53 degrees F, 55% relative humidity, using Federal Premium 62 grain ammunition.)

After several range trips, while prepping the rifle for photos, I found the charging handle tough to work. It felt as if it were jammed. It is possible for a weapon put away wet to rust shut due to carbonic acid. The X7 was simply a little sticky with congealed carbon inside, and a few cycles of the charging handle freed it up. The carbon had stuck to itself inside the BCG, rather than to any components. (There is some accumulation on the tail of the bolt, but I expect it will remove easily when I do clean it).  There was no corrosion or damage.

I had a defective magazine that caused problems, including a double feed.  The round was jammed between carrier race and bolt face, and would not dislodge. With a staked carbine extension, there was no way to easily remove the BCG from the rear. The only way that presented itself was to grasp the bullet tip with needlenose and crush it enough to get a firm grip, then beat the charging handle back with a rubber mallet. An ordinary charging handle would be destroyed by this process. The Gunfighter was unharmed. The ceramic coating on the handle and the ejection port was unharmed. The coating inside the receiver and on the bolt and carrier was unharmed. It literally looked new when done.  Please note the magazine had similar issues with two other rifles, and was disposed of.
I can't think of another precision rifle that can take that kind of beating and come back for more.

At 530 rounds, a steel case failed to extract. One single drop of oil freed up the extractor enough for it to grip and cycle. I degreased again, and ran another 720 rounds of brass without issue. The tight chamber prefers brass, but will handle steel if it must.  Please note that brass is recommended by Next Generation Arms, and most other manufacturers.

During one range trip, the rifle was left lying open in the rain between shoots, for 6 hours.  It functioned flawlessly from the 1,250 round mark to the 2,000 round mark.  Three days later, the weapon was dried, the bolt carrier group wiped clean, the bore swabbed dry, and a couple of drops of Kroil placed into the receiver extension, which was finally showing some minor discoloration from the carbon and water.
So, in over 2000 rounds of wet, dirty use (so far), there was one malfunction with a defective magazine, and one malfunction with sub-standard ammo.  No cleaning was performed, and only the most minimal of lubrication.  I must advise readers that this is an examination of emergency capabilities. All weapons should be properly cleaned and maintained, and repairs, especially with live ammo in the weapon, should not be attempted by anyone not properly trained.

The X7 is not cheap, but it's a fair price for the combination of accuracy, durability and ergonomics. It's on par with other high end ARs, and pushes the envelope on materials and capabilities. So far, I am convinced this is a rifle one can trust one's life to. It is a pleasure to shoot, amazingly accurate, and tough as a keg of nails.

Mr. Rawles,  
I had been planning to get a pellet gun for some squirrel problems here at my home. But after reading Will T.'s response to "How to Butcher a Squirrel" I instead bought some Connibear 110 traps.  I got the traps via mailorder and set them last night following Will's advice. I used paper towels coated with peanut butter as bait.  I came out this morning and to my surprise there was already a dead squirrel hanging in the trap.  These traps are very simple, discreet, and efficient.   Thanks! - Paul B. 

JWR Replies: A key advantage of the Connibear trap is that it is a true "killing trap" that usually kills almost instantly. Thus, unlike a traditional leg hold trap, you are less likely to attract opportunistic predators, or to the draw the ire of soft-hearted neighbors and visiting relatives.

Dear Jim,
Regarding the letter from M.Z. Williamson about water on the Bangladesh-India border leading to war (again) it is a good idea to remember that Jammu and Kashmir are fought over between Pakistan and India over water, rather than the Opium grown in Kashmir. Several rivers originate there and India has diverted at least one back across the border so they can grow grain to feed millions of people. This violates the 1960 water treaty, so fighting has resulted. Conflicts over water are very common.

While the hard words between Pakistan and India are largely regarded by their populations as empty posturing, the water and therefore food supply is a very real trigger for war. Bangladesh and India have similar problems, as both Bangladesh and Pakistan are Muslim and India is largely Hindu so cultural friction between the two ways of life can be very raw. 

The short version is that when the USA can't afford to prop up the regime in Pakistan any longer, violence may flare up. It's a long way from here, but it will have a chilling effect, particularly if open war really expands into the population centers. If things calm down once US forces withdraw and the two nations have to deal with each other directly, then so much the better for everyone and lesson learned.

Sincerely, - InyoKernß

Huricane Irene appears to headed toward North Carolina. Please keep the folks living in the storm's path in your prayers.

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Reader Paula S. sent this: The Cause of Riots and the Price of Food -- If we don't reverse the current trend in food prices, we've got until August 2013 before social unrest sweeps the planet, say complexity theorists.

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Dave B. flagged this: A Wireless Communications System That Works When Cell Phones, Internet are Down

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What we have here is a failure to understand the 1st Amendment: Long Beach Police Chief: we detain photographers, and I don’t have any guidelines for that policy, photography is classed with attempts to acquire weaponized smallpox. After all the many recent police-versus-photographers and videographers incidents, and some bad precedents on access to the government's own footage, I think that it is time that blogs start issuing press credentials to our readers. Presumably, I'll just make you part of the SurvivalBlog staff, so that you can film whatever is happening in your neighborhood without fear of getting assaulted or arrested. (Oh, but then there are the rare cases when credentials don't help, even if you are from a television news station.)

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Signs of the times: Detroit police to stop responding to unverified burglar alarms. (Thanks to Yishai for the link.)

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Chad S. spotted this: Home canning makes a comeback Recession, food recalls among reasons

"Most preppers have seen the British TV series called Survivors. It is a good show, all-in-all. But it's absolutely preposterous, how they show so many people wandering around unarmed. (Without so much as a sharp stick.) Come on! Here they were supposed to have gone through something like a 98% die-off. Why wouldn't they at least have the brains to take a crow-bar to the trunks of some police cars, to get hold of some guns? You don't have to be a genius to figure out which cars are the ones they call 'Armed Response Vehicles'." - SurvivalBlog reader F.C.L.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I began work in Toronto on August 1, 2003.  The lights went out three weeks later.  The entire Northeast was dark for several days.

The company had provided us with three months of free housing.  By my standards it was quite posh ¾ pool privileges, chandeliers, weekly maid service. 

But we knew nobody, had little food in the cupboard, and no local currency.  (Then again the cash registers didn’t work anyway.)  When the sun went down it got dark and stayed dark.  We had no light of any kind.  Granted, the two huge candlesticks on the mantle were a blessing, though some candles for them would have been nice.

Afterwards, my wife confessed how close she had been to begging:  “Let’s go home.  I’m scared.  I don’t care about the job.  I don’t care about the money.  Let’s get the hell out of here.” 

Fear of the dark is both primitive and powerful.

I later retired and began work on a book entitled:  No Lights?  No Batteries?  No Problem.  A Handbook of Non-Electric Lighting.  After three years of research and hundreds of “science experiments,” I submitted a book proposal to a publisher.

They kept my chapters three months and sent me a very nice rejection letter.  It began to dawn on me (at age 71) that there were not enough months left in my life to locate a publisher.  No doubt I’ll self-publish electronically at some point but in the meantime I’d like to share some of my findings.  I wish I’d known this stuff myself in 2003.

Everything that burns consumes oxygen.  So be sure to crack a window and provide ventilation. 

Also, everything that burns gives off carbon monoxide: your gas range, your KeroSun heater with catalytic converter, your gas clothes dryer, your boudoir incense, your wood stove, your kerosene lamp, your fireplace, the candles on your birthday cake.

As a check to see that it’s working, the directions for my carbon monoxide detector suggest bringing a stick of burning incense close to the detector.  Wow!  The detector screams!  A very impressive demo!

Vegetable oil lamps are less expensive than candles to burn.  One tablespoon of vegetable oil will produce a candle-sized flame for two hours.  Cooking oil has been burned in lamps since Biblical times.       

You can use a tuna fish can to hold the oil but a clear glass container allows more light to escape.  It should be Pyrex; a wine glass is the perfect shape but will probably break (trust me on this).  You can buy small Pyrex custard dishes at the Salvation Army store for 50¢ each.  They have brand names like Glasbake and Fire-King.

Soak a length of cotton string in the oil and let it dangle over the edge of the bowl.  That’s your wick.  Light the wick with a match.  The flame burns right at the lip of the bowl.

Do not use synthetic material for a wick (polyester, nylon, etc.).  Oil is drawn to the flame by capillary action.  Synthetics melt in the heat of the flame and seal off the capillary action.

The best wick material I’ve found (for heavy, viscous vegetable oil) is a strand from a cotton-string floor mop.  Actually, a whole strand is too much.  Just one of the four plies within the strand will do the job.

String mop-heads can be purchased at the Dollar Store.  For a buck you’ll have a lifetime supply of wicks.  An edge seam from your handkerchief will also work.  Ditto for a strip of your flannel pajamas or flannel shirt or denim from your jeans.  Just nothing synthetic.

You can dangle several wicks over the side of the bowl and light all of them at the same time.  That’s a nice arrangement because, when one of the wicks builds up a big carbon goober on the end, it can be cleaned off by the light of the still-burning wicks.

The string lamp is very safe because vegetable oil is fiendishly difficult to ignite.  If you spill vegetable oil, you’ll create a mess but no fire hazard.  In fact, a string lamp is best extinguished by pushing the burning wick right into the oil.  The flame will go out instantly.  (If you merely blow out the flame, the wick will glow and smolder and stink.)   

TIP:  Put a saucer under your string lamp.  It will drip. 

TIP:  Use the least expensive vegetable oil available.  You’re not going to eat it; you’re going to burn it. So don't buy olive oil for this purpose.  

TIP:  The generous use of mirrors will enhance your light output.   

The terms “lamp” and “lantern” are almost interchangeable although a lamp is generally used inside whereas a lantern is used outside.  A lantern shields the flame from wind and rain.

A crude but serviceable lantern can be made by pouring a quarter-inch of vegetable oil in the bottom of Pyrex measuring cup or a pot from your Mr. Coffee.  (A cup or jar made from ordinary glass will break for sure using this design, no “maybe” about it.) 

Wad up a 2" x 2" square of paper, light the paper with a match, and drop the burning clump into the oil.  Voila!  A lantern.  The flame is down inside the container, shielded from the wind.  The paper serves as a wick.  And a wide range of paper can be used ¾ paper toweling, newspaper, bond paper, paper bag.

The bottom becomes very hot.  You’ll need a trivet under it.  In the case of a measuring cup, the handle becomes very hot.  You will need a potholder or gloves to carry it.  You cannot regulate the flame size so the lantern will smoke, making it suitable for outdoors use only.  After half an hour the glass will become smoked up. 

On the plus side, it will light your way to the privy and back at midnight. And, like the string lamp, should you spill this lantern, the vegetable oil will create a mess but the fire hazard is very small.

This idea came from a booklet entitled Light by Dawn Russell. 

You’ll need:
(1) A candle (i.e. a taper, not a tea candle).
(2) A 3-pound coffee can (well . . . today it’s 2½ lbs.)  And make it a metal can, if you please.  Not plastic and not paper sprayed with an aluminum coating.
(3) A wire coat hanger (for a handle).

We’ll operate the flashlight with the can on its side, not eye-to-the-sky.   What served as the can’s bottom when it held coffee becomes the back wall of the flashlight.     

In use, the candle is vertical while the can is horizontal.  The top of the candle sticks up through (what has become) the floor of the flashlight.  The flame is at the top of the candle and inside the can.  The candle’s bottom end protrudes down through the floor and hangs under the flashlight.  Hence you can’t set the flashlight down; it must be carried or hung on a peg. 

NOTE:  In case you can’t visualize it from my description, the following link shows a picture of the candle flashlight as well as the string lamp and the vegetable oil lantern:

To build the flashlight, first remove the top of the coffee can (and the coffee, too, may I add).  Then cut an X in the can wall, midway between the two ends.  Each arm of the X should be an inch long.  Push a candle partway through the X and into the can.  The points of the X become spurs holding the candle in place. 

To cut the X, first punch a hole through the can wall with a nail and hammer.  Then cut the metal with a utility knife.  (Cans aren’t very thick these days.)  Use a sawing motion.  Some strength is required.

A piece of wire coat hanger forms a handle.  Punch two holes in the top of the flashlight (the “top” being the roof over the flame).  One of the holes is at the rear of the flashlight; the other in the front. 

Push the wire into one of the holes (from the outside) and, with pliers, crimp the end of the wire inside the flashlight to form a foot that will not pull back through the hole.  Bend the wire as necessary and repeat the process on the second hole.

A 2½ lb. coffee can is 6" in diameter.  I allow 4" of headspace between the top of the candle and the flashlight’s ceiling.  It works well.

There is not much to be said about [traditional wick] kerosene lamps (the $6 variety from Dollar General).  They are simple, reliable, and reasonably safe.  And smelly.  They give light equivalent to a 7½-watt nightlight.  Ditto for Dietz-type barn lanterns.  If you want more light than that (ignoring antiques such as Rayos), you’ll have to enter the world of pressure lanterns.

There’s one exception, the Kosmos.  It’s made in Europe, burns kerosene, and outputs light in the 15-watt range.  But it costs $100.  Before you buy, may I suggest a cost-benefit comparison to a propane pressure lamp...

Lamps that run on small cylinders of propane represent one type of pressure lantern.  The cylinders are pre-filled with fuel in contrast to liquid-fuel lanterns that are messy to fill. 

A single-mantle propane lamp (Century brand) is $20 at Wal-Mart.  It will produce light equivalent to a 40-watt light bulb.  One cylinder of fuel ($4) will last 12 hours.  That’s a run rate of 33¢ an hour which is a fairly steep.  But because no filling is required (and thus no spills) and because there is no smell while burning, propane lamps have largely replaced liquid-fuel lanterns within the camping community. 

Note that the cylinders used in camping lanterns, and the skinnier cylinders used for Bernz-O-Matic soldering torches, and the 20 lb. cylinders used on barbeque grills, and the 200 lb. cylinder behind the house for the kitchen stove, all contain propane.  And it’s all the same stuff, C3H8.  You can buy adaptors to hook up your little camping lantern to a bigger tank.

Liquid-fuel lanterns are less expensive to operate than propane.  Unfortunately, pressure lamps that run on white gas belong to granddad’s era and not many people today understand the technology.  A little bit of homework, though, will help ensure your family’s safety.  So let’s have at it.

Oil refining is a two-stage affair.  First, distillation breaks crude oil into five major fractions:  refinery gases, gasoline, kerosene, diesel oil, and residues.

After fractional distillation comes cracking.  The world’s thirst for gasoline is bigger than fractional distillation can satisfy.  Cracking breaks down heavy oil into lighter products.

White gas is (and was) pure gasoline with no additives.  It is clear as water and 50 octane.  The Model “T” Ford, with its 4.5:1 compression ratio, ran fine on white gas.  So did Coleman lanterns.

Better auto performance required higher compression engines.  Higher compression required higher-octane gas.  Tetra-ethyl lead was added to white gas to increase its octane rating.  A bit of red dye was also added so that consumers didn’t accidentally pump the old-fashioned 50-octane stuff, now called white, into their cars. 

White gas at the pump became hard to find but Coleman lanterns still needed it.  Coleman began selling white gas branded as “Coleman fuel.”

Leaded gas is no more.  It poisoned people and was phased out 1975-1995.  But “unleaded” does not mean “no additives.”  Unleaded means different additives.  No additives would put you back to 50 octane.

Today, Coleman sells “Dual Fuel” lanterns that are billed as running on either Coleman fuel or unleaded automobile gas. 

I was surprised to discover that my new Coleman Dual Fuel 285 produced light equivalent to a 150-watt light bulb on Coleman fuel but only equivalent to 100 watts on automobile gas. 

Would auto gas plug the lantern’s generator (as some claimed)?  I decided to find out.

Day 1.  The 285 started out (on auto gas) at 100 watts.  I kept it pumped up hard.  Eight hours later it had faded to 40 watts.  At nine hours it was almost empty.

Day 2.  It started out at 100 watts.  Six hours later it was 40 watts.  I shut it down at nine hours.

Day 3.  It started out at 100 watts.  Three hours later it was 40 watts.  I shut it down at nine hours.

Day 4.  It started out at 40 watts.  Total hours at 100 watts (actually, 40 watts or more) were seventeen.

Day 5.  I switched back to white gas.  Light output was 75 watts, half of what it had been prior to running automobile gas.  Auto gas had clogged the lantern’s generator.  A new generator was $11.49 plus postage:

Aside.  The term generator might sound complicated but a “steam jenny” was a generator.  Jenny was slang for generator.  A steam jenny generated steam.  A teakettle is a steam jenny.

And the generator for a Coleman lantern is little more than a length of brass tubing.  Liquid fuel enters one end.  A check valve stops it from reversing direction.  Heat is applied to the outside of the tube.  The liquid inside the tube turns to a gas.  Gas (in the “solid-liquid-gas” sense of things) has been generated from a liquid.

Question.  Will older Coleman lanterns, engineered for white gas, run on unleaded automobile gas?  Yes.  Safely?  Yes.  Will automobile gas slowly clog the lantern’s generator?  Yes.  Did I personally test it?  Yes.  Why didn’t they advertise the old lanterns as “dual-fuel”? 

Why?  Because the auto gas of that era contained lead.  Not good for baby’s little brain.

An “orphan” is a lamp for which you cannot find spare parts.  An otherwise perfect lamp without the necessary wick or mantle or pump leather is effectively junk.  And when, exactly, is that critical part going to fail?  When the water’s five feet high and risin’.  It’s a law of nature.

[With the exception of Diesel fuel,] kerosene is the least expensive liquid fuel ($3.75 a gallon versus $10.50 for Coleman fuel).  If you want a pressure lantern that runs on kero, your choices are a used Coleman 237, a used Coleman 639, a new Coleman 214, or a new Coleman 639C.  You can find these lanterns on eBay and spare parts at Coleman.  Everything else in the Coleman kerosene lineup is an orphan.

(Petromax is a non-Coleman lantern that burns kerosene and for which spare parts are available.)

Older Colemans that run on white gas and for which spare parts are readily available include the 220, the 228, and the 200A.  Other older Colemans are orphans.

Other older brands (J.C. Higgins and Ted Williams from Sears; Hawthorne and Western Field from Wards; Thermos; KampLite; Diamond; etc., etc., etc.) are orphans. 

Even new lanterns can be orphans.  Today, NorthStar is Coleman’s top-of-the-line lantern but requires a unique pleated, tubular mantle.  No other lantern has it or can use it ¾ domestic or foreign, new, used, or antique.  I own several lanterns but, because of its unique orphan mantle, not a NorthStar.

This is a hot-button topic.

Pressure lanterns require mantles.  Mantles are made of cloth coated with a rare earth that glows in the heat of the flame and produces more light than the flame itself.

Thorium was the rare earth used in lamp mantles from the 1890s to the 1990s.  Thorium, however, is slightly radioactive.  Thorium has been largely replaced with yttrium, another rare earth that is not radioactive.  The new yttrium mantles are not as bright as the old thorium mantles. 

So how radioactive is radioactive?

A “Roentgen equivalent man” (abbreviated rem) is a measure of radiation.  A millirem (abbreviated mrem) = 1/1000 rem.  Background radiation is about one mrem per day in most parts of the world.

One dental X-ray is equivalent to 0.5 mrem.  One mammogram is equivalent to 300 mrem.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that “avid campers” (making 26 two-day camping trips per year, using Coleman-type lanterns with thorium mantles) receive 0.05 to 6 mrem per year.

Let’s express the foregoing in more familiar units, Dollars: Background radiation is $1 per day.  A dental X-ray is 50¢.  A mammogram is $300.  An “avid camper” would receive between 5¢ and $6 per year from thorium mantles.

Today’s Coleman mantles are the #21 and the #11.  They replaced the 21A Silk-Lite and the #1111 respectively (which were the old thorium mantles). 

The #21 mantle is used on Coleman’s new Dual Fuel lanterns as well as Coleman’s older gas models (220, 228, 200A) as well the Coleman 214 (kerosene).  The #11 mantles are used on Coleman’s larger kerosene lanterns (237, 639, 639C).

Personally, I use the #21 mantle on my Petromax 150CP (i.e. 150 candlepower) and the #11 mantle on my 500CP Petromax.  Petromax is a brand of lantern to be discussed next. 

I’ve given up on Petromax-brand mantles because they are too fragile.  With all the finesse I can muster, I usually break them when starting the lantern.  At $2 apiece, it’s an expensive game.  Fortunately, however, Coleman mantles work fine on a Petromax lantern.  As a consequence, I use only Coleman mantles on my Petromaxes.

I used to have a friend at work who pulled into the parking lot each day in his clanking Volkswagen diesel.  He would get out, shaking his head.  “When you go to the dealer, they brag about German engineering.  They neglect to mention that it’s built in Mexico.”

Petromax lanterns are like that. 

The Petromax was a German, WWI-era lantern.  Its patents have long since expired so it is freely copied by everyone.  The Petromax trademark is another story.  The original trademark lapsed and was reregistered by other sellers.  In the USA, BriteLyt in Florida currently owns it.  Other countries, other owners.

In the USA, Coleman is the big name.  But worldwide, many more Petromax lanterns exist than Coleman.  Petromax’ brothers, sisters, cousins, and clones include BriteLyt, Butterfly, Anchor, Sea Anchor, Tower, Santrax, Egret, Solex (Italy), Aida, Geniol, Hipolito (Portugal), Primus, Optimus (Sweden), Radius (Sweden), Hasag (Switzerland), Buflam-Petroflam (England), Big Wheel, Light, Red Heart, Silverray, Crown (Iraq), Kohinoor (India), Wenzel (Sam’s Club), Prabhat (India), and Col-Max (USA).  Col-Max?  Yes, just before WWII Coleman made a Petromax clone for export, intended to compete directly with Petromax itself.  

All of which testifies to the excellence of the original Petromax design.

Many of these brands are no longer manufactured (although most appear on eBay from time to time).  All of the new ones (of whatever trademark including Petromax itself) are made in the Far East and any given factory produces several different brands.  Unfortunately, it’s nearly universal that the tooling is worn, threads are rounded and don’t hold, holes don’t line up, pumps don’t pump, and prickers don’t prick.  I feel certain that few if any would meet the old-time Petromax specs.

Advertising hype notwithstanding, if you Google for BriteLyt or Butterfly or Sea Anchor you will discover a whole new world of bitching.  The best advice I can give is to buy a Petromax only where you can return it!  You may have to go through several lanterns before you find a good one.

Why bother?  Because Petromax lanterns will burn diesel fuel with today’s yttrium mantles.  Coleman lanterns won’t. 

In 2006, a contributor to The International Guild of Lamp Researchers said, “the Petromax can be used with diesel - at least for five or six hours (or so, depending on the quality of the fuel). After that time you will most probably find the generator clogged with a coal-like substance . . .:  (ref. question #3644)

Sorry, but that statement is an example of armchair science.  I ran my 500CP Petromax for 50 consecutive hours on diesel.  The generator (Preston loop) was clear before, during, and after the test, ready for another 50 hours. 

The Petromax is a kerosene lantern.  There’s a running war between The International Guild of Lamp Researchers and BriteLyt on the safety of burning gasoline in a BriteLyt.  BriteLyt says you can.  The Guild says you can’t.

There are reported cases of Petromax lanterns “exploding” when run on gasoline.  Neal McRae best covers the design issues.

I have to side with The Guild on this one because, in addition to design issues, there’s the poor workmanship so widespread in today’s Petromax lanterns. 

For example, I own a BriteLyt that will not turn off when run on gasoline.  I returned this lantern when it was brand new to BriteLyt in Florida because of the incredible quantity of gunk in the fuel tank.  They sent it back to me a month later, all better.  

Now, with the control valve in the OFF position, the lantern continues to burn.  It will not shut completely off.  (To my mind, this is a factory workmanship issue more than a Petromax design issue.)

The only way to turn the lantern off is to crack the thumb screw on the filler cap and release pressure . . . thereby releasing flammable gasoline vapor mere inches away from a burning mantle.  Not safe!  (That practice may be acceptable with kerosene ¾ the Coleman 241, for example, a kerosene lantern, was designed that way ¾ but it is decidedly unsafe with gasoline.)

So . . .  Can you burn gasoline in a Petromax and get away with it?  Sure.  Can you pump gasoline while smoking a cigarette and get away with it?  Sure.  Now riddle me this:  Is it a smart thing to do? 

This article is only the tip of the iceberg.  We haven’t touched on mineral spirits or burning fluid or animal fat as fuel.  Or Rayos or Duplexes or Aladdins.  Or carbide miner’s lamps or candle-making or lantern repairs or a host of other topics.  But I hope it gives you some light and I hope it helps keep you safe.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not own any stock in any company mentioned in this article.  Nor do I own stock in any competitor of any company mentioned in this article. JWR Adds: Here is my own disclaimer (per FTC File No. P034520): I accept cash-paid advertising. To the best of my knowledge, as of the date of this posting, none of my advertisers that sell the products mentioned in this article have solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, nor have they provided me any free or reduced-price gear in exchange for any reviews or endorsements. I am not a stock holder in any company. I do, however, benefit from sales through the SurvivalBlog Amazon Store. If you click on one of our Amazon links and then "click through" to order ANY product from (not just the ones listed in our catalog), then we will earn a modest sales commission.

As editor of SurvivalBlog I've had a number of "Small World Department" coincidences occur in the past six years. Most of these have been chance meetings with blog readers and mutual acquaintances, everywhere from Reno, Nevada to as far away as Switzerland. But the latest coincidence is absolutely astounding: As you may already be aware, the Russian FSB produces some gray propaganda under the pen name "Sorcha Faal." Their department's most recent bit of hyperbolic dezinformatsaya was in an article over at the fairly wacky "What Does It Mean?" web site. (The web site uses the dotted quad address: -- which ironically is in McLean, Virginia!) There, they recently posted an article titled: "Obama Issues Secret Order For Military Raids On Civilians". It included an un-captioned photo showing some menacing-looking storm troopers in all black uniforms, sitting on the front of a military vehicle. Well, guess what: That was MY military vehicle -- a Ferret Mark 4 Scout Car that I bought in the late 1990s, as part of my Y2K preps. In late 2002, I sold that vehicle, shortly before I moved back to the boonies. The pictured "storm troopers" were in fact some friends and acquaintances that were journeymen-level science fiction convention costumers and prop builders. In the summer of 2002, they asked me for permission to pose in their Aliens Colonial Space Marines costumes and also their black Jin-Roh Panzer Cops costumes, and I gladly consented. The photos were shot in the side yard of my Fremont, California home. The photo shoot was all great fun and the group thought that my Ferret made a great backdrop for their sci-fi fan photos. Little did I know that one of those digital images would be slurped up from the Internet nine years later to be used for Russian gray propaganda. (FYI, Jin-Roh was a Japanese anime "alternate history" series, with the premise that the Axis powers won WWII and that Germany then conquered Japan. Hence, they wore German "coal scuttle" helmets.)

What a small world we live in! All this time I thought that I was a disharmonious reactionary Capitalist Rotor. But now it appears that I've unwittingly been used as a post-Soviet Rotor.

Special note to the "Sorcha" sisters: "Stoi, durakam. Ya znayu sekreti!"

Now is the time for those in the Southeastern United States to check their preparations for hurricanes.  Below is a list of steps I go through anytime there is a hint of a potential storm.  These steps were derived from past experiences and lessons I have learned from other posts.  I do this prep so as not to get caught up in panicked crowds on the days immediately preceding the storm.  Should the storm not hit me directly I consider this prepping chance to practice and shore up my supplies.

7 Days Out

1)    Water (1 or 5 gallon jugs) is purchased and any filter systems, storage systems and well pumps are checked. 
2)    Storage food is checked and additional food is purchased if necessary.  During his phase any non-perishable food needed, including comfort food should is purchased. 
3)    Fuel Stores such as gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, Coleman White fuel, kerosene are checked and topped off as needed. 
4)    Cooking fuels are checked and purchased as needed.
5)    Battery stores are checked and additional batteries are purchased as needed.
6)    Flashlights, lanterns and other alternative light sources are tested and batteries are replaced, fuel is added to each device as needed.
7)    Alternative cooking devices are tested.
8)    Radio communications are tested and made ready.
9)    Storm shutters and fasteners are made ready for deployment.
10) Blackout curtains are located and made ready for use.
11) Generators - run on a load for 30 minutes, tanks are topped off and any maintenance need is completed.
12) First aid supplies - are checked and additional supplies are purchased as needed.
13) Double check prescriptions and fill if necessary.
14) Firearms (If you have them) are checked and cleaned and lubricated if necessary.  Ammunition is checked and the amount needed for a possible event is moved from storage to an easily accessible, but secure location.
15) Daily used household items such as cleaners, soaps, tooth care; toilet paper etc. should be checked and purchased as necessary.
16) Start making Ice and have bags ready for when the container for the ice maker gets full.
17) G.O.O.D. packs are checked and replenished as needed.
18) Fuel tanks for vehicles from this point on are not allowed to go below ¾ths filled and as a normal procedure should not be allowed to go under ½ full. 
19) Check vehicles for tire pressure, fluid levels, belt tensions, and any pending maintenance critical to the operation of the vehicle should be done at this time. 
20) Communicate with your preparedness group, family and like-minded friends; discuss the possibility of implementing your preparedness plan assuming you have one.

4-to-5-Days Out
1)    Grocery store – last minute items and surprisingly perishable items such as fruits and vegetables that do not need refrigeration are purchased.   The event may be short term and this will allow for one to two weeks of fresh fruits and vegetables before the need to move to dry and canned food.
2)    Mail all bills due in the next 30 days if possible.
3)    Start freezing water in 2 liter soda bottles. This will help freezers and refrigerators stay cool longer when the power goes out.
4)    Have family or group meeting and discuss preparedness plans to include responsibilities for final preparations and survival responsibilities immediately after the event and contingency plans for when things go wrong.  
5)    Start consuming primarily refrigerated perishable food.
6)    Assuming the garbage trucks are still running; make sure all trash is removed. 
7)    Any member of your family or group who has to work will need to place a survival pack in their vehicle, that should include 3 to 7 days of food and water and one or two Jerry can(s) of fuel if possible.  If possible, preposition short term emergency supplies at the place of employment. 

Experience has demonstrated the hordes of panicked people are beginning to start at this phase, but depending on the event and how the event is covered in the media, the hordes could potentially start earlier than expected; making some of the preparations at this stage more difficult to accomplish.  

48 Hours Out
1)     Impact shutters are installed, leaving one or two off on the back side of the house to allow natural light in.    When shutters go up it gets dark and gloomy fast.  The last few shutters can be installed right before the storm hits.
2)    Loose objects outside of the home are secured or moved inside.
3)    Rain gutters and downspouts are cleaned out.  
4)    Charge any remaining batteries and radios.
5)    Data from computers is backed up and securely stored. 
6)    Paper records are secured.
7)    Important personal items, such as family photos are secured.    
8)    Persons doing prep work in the immediate vicinity of the home should have a two way radio with them at all times, with someone in the home monitoring the radio.  This is especially important for those living in rural areas with large amounts of property and when working a fair distance from the home.  
9)     One person at all times should be monitoring Radio, Internet and television news. Continue to monitoring these sources while available.

10 to 24 Hours Out
1)    Any items still outside the home are secured.
2)    Remaining storm shutters are installed.
3)    Vehicles are moved to the garage or a secure location. Depending on the situation and location this step may be done sooner in the process.
4)    Internal alternative light sources are made ready and strategically placed. 
5)    Food stores and water for the next 24-72 hours are made ready.  Some perishable food for immediate use can be moved to coolers, which if properly packed and insulated will stay cool for two days. A layer of dry ice on the bottom of a cooler separated by a dish towel can keep items frozen for up to 4 days in the proper cooler)
6)    Turn freezer refrigerator temps down).  Get them as cold as possible without freezing the coils.
7)    Turn air-conditioning down and get the house cool before the power goes out.
8)    Entertainment such as games, books are located and made ready.
9)    Charge laptops and cell phones.
10)  Wash all dishes by hand.
11) Any remaining laundry is done (earlier in the 24-hours before landfall and well before the likelihood of power failures).
12) Depending on the water situation, sinks, bath tubs and containers should be filled with water and treated appropriately.  
13)  Move some frozen bottles to the refrigerator.
14) Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed (once the power goes out, It may be 12 hours or more before the generator can fired up). 


3 Hours Out – (Power is Out )
1)    Alternative lighting sources are activated.
2)    All AC Powered lights and appliances, televisions, computers (except one lamp) are unplugged.  The breaker for the HVAC unit and water heater is shut off.   Leaving one light connected to the AC [utility power] and in the on mode will provide an indication when the power returns.  Once power returns, lamps and appliances can be powered up gradually to avert the effects of a power surge.  Those with standby generators will handle this step differently depending on how their backup system is designed.    
3)    If possible, use the remaining hot water; take a shower(s) assuming conditions warrant.
4)    Once hot water is used, and if using a hot water tank, close the incoming water valve; a fresh supply of water is now available.  
5)    Activate the battery operated television or radio and monitor events.
6)    Sleep when and if possible in rotating shifts.
7)    If the situation warrants, move to a storm shelter or the most secure part of the house.  
When prepping for a storm, I print the list and the items are checked off as they are completed.  Doing so allows for a fast and efficient approach to prepping for a storm and helps to ensure nothing is forgotten.   The list is tweaked as needed and steps are added and /or removed based on the perceived severity of the storm in my general area.  Regards, - Florida Dave

Mike Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large) wrote to mention that September 6th is "Book Bomb Day" for his novel Rogue. It is the sequel to The Weapon. It has: "Some violence, some harsh language, and very few sexual references." You can read some advance chapters here. Let's lift Mike's new book into Amazon's Top 20! By the way, Mike will be signing books at Uncle Hugo's book store on September 10th, 2011, including the signature edition of Rogue.  Uncle Hugo's is Mike's preferred outlet for sales ranking. 

Also, Mike's new Freehold series adventure story (with minimal adult content in the form of two swear words) is now available for free reading at the Baen publishing web site.

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My wife Avalanche Lily pointed me to an excellent post over at the Paratus Familia blog: Long Term Food Storage - Baking with 25 Year Old Wheat

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Businessweek magazine just lumped me in with a bunch of Rapture Profiteers, even though I told their reporter that I'm a post-mil kinda guy. Oh well, it it tough talking about eschatology, even with fellow Christians, much less with a non-Christian reporter.

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Jeff B. sent this: Military bulks up to protect against groin injuries

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Taipan's editor, Joseph McBrennan suggests: Buy a Gun. Link coutresy of J.B.G.

"Alas, Babylon was a private, a family signal. When they were boys, he and Mark used to sneak up to the back of the First Afro-Repose Baptist Church on Sunday nights to hear Preacher Henry calling down hell-fire and damnation on the sinners in the big cities. Preacher Henry always took his text out of the Revelation of St. John. It seemed like he ended every lurid verse with, "Alas, Babylon!" in a voice so resonant you could feel it, if you rested your fingertips gently on the warped pine boards of the church. Randy and Mark would crouch under the rear window, behind the pulpit, fascinated and wide-eyed, while Preacher Henry described the Babylonian revels, including fornication. Sometimes Preacher Henry made Babylon sound like Miami, and sometimes like Tampa, for he condemned not only fornication - he read the word right out of the Bible - but also horse racing and the dog tracks. Randy could hear him yet: "And I am telling you right now, all wife-swappers, whisky-drinkers, and crap-shooters are going to get it! And all them who come out of those sin palaces on the beach, whether they be called hotels or motels, wearing minks and jewels and not much else, they is goin' to get it! And them fast-steppers in Cadillacs and yaller roadsters, they is going to get it!  Just like it says here in the Good Book, that Great City that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, that Great City was burned off the face of the earth in an hour. Just one hour Alas, Babylon!" - Pat Frank in his novel Alas, Babylon

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I guess I am a prepper.  When I started “prepping” 15 years ago they called it being a survivalist, but I think prepper is more apropos since the word survivalist suggests Rambo and anyone who knows me knows that’s not me.  Over the past few months I became aware that prepping is gaining momentum again, like it did before Y2K when I first got involved.  Some months back I stumbled on a YouTube channel and since then I have been making the rounds of the prepper sites.  I have been really thankful to all of you preppers out there who have shared so many helpful tips about prepping, and for some time I’ve wanted to give back, but the question is what can I contribute—I have had a diverse past but my expertise is not in weapons or tactics or food storage, but in something that most people would not connect with the prepper movement, you see I am a member of the clergy with advance degrees in Sacred Theology. 

Honestly, as a Catholic priest, I have often asked myself if there is a contradiction between my faith and my long term hobby which I now call prepping.  I mean “wasting” my small stipend on putting away food and supplies when I could be donating it to charity, is that really what Jesus would have me do.  After all, didn’t the Lord warn us against being overly concerned about the things of this world in the parable of the grower who builds larger barns to hold his crops only to die on the night his preparations were complete?   In this question, that I have often asked myself I realized what I might offer to the prepping community.  So I offer this treatment of a few of the moral and spiritual dynamics of prepping and post disaster survival.

As a Catholic priest my Faith teaches me to trust in the Lord for all my needs—and so at first glance prepping might seem an act of distrust. As I said, Jesus warns us about the man who hoards his wealth into ever bigger barns.  However, while it is true that over and over again in sacred scriptures the Lord instructs us to trust in God and proves Himself trustworthy by repeatedly working so many mighty deeds despite our poverty and human weakness, one of the constant themes in the Bible is preparedness. I think is important to remember that the Lord always uses what supplies we bring to the table.  Whether it’s the widow’s measure of grain and oil that feeds Elijah during the years of drought or the loaves and fish multiplied by Jesus or the one young man with a sling through which God routes the Philistines, as the Father’s of the Church were apt to note God will not save us without us.  God wants us to cooperate with His Divine providence, and yes, while salvation is primarily about eternal life, physical life is also a gift, which helps us grow in holiness and love and which we should work with the help of God to protect and preserve. 

It’s also worth noting that preparing for disaster is fundamentally about a realization of human weakness and of the reality of sin that causes disorder in the world and society. Many of us in the prepper movement feel God’s voice in our heart telling us that human vanity is once again likely to cause societal collapse, as it did at Babel, Sodom, and elsewhere throughout human history.  Like Joseph in Egypt, we are being given an opportunity to prophetically prepare for the future, to ensure the survival of the chosen people—and thus, far from being selfish or greedy like the man who hoards grain into ever larger barns, prepping is not about profit but can be a work of charity. We prep because we love life; our own life (not a bad thing) and the lives of others, most particularly our families and friends. We want to be able to preserve life, culture, and civilization as much as possible when the false idol of modern civilization comes tumbling down.  But how do we reconcile this concern for life with so many articles that we read about weapons, tactics, the use of lethal force, OPSEC, and “foraging” (aka theft)?  The circumstances of a "without rule of law" (WROL) situation vastly change the way we as Christians apply the absolute moral principles God teaches us. Here an adequate Christian understanding of morals is useful.

Consider positive (man-made) laws for instance.  In general, a Christian is required by God to obey all just laws—“render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”    However, when laws become unjust or the rule of law breaks down, our duty to obey the law lessens or even disappears—and in the case of unjust laws we may even have a duty to oppose them. Two of the characteristics of just laws are their enforceability and the legitimacy of the authority issuing them.  In a WROL situation both of these may be compromised and “law” may become more of a weapon to be defended against than a moral obligation to be obeyed—think of the anti-Jewish laws in Nazi Germany or the Jim Crow Laws in the South. I think this is an essential moral principle for Christians to apply when approaching prepping and a WROL situation. 

Now just remember, a world without the rule of law doesn’t need to be lawless, if each of us keeps nature’s law in our heart. In the Christian ethical tradition beyond the positive laws that society creates Christian’s are also obliged to follow Divine laws, i.e. the Ten Commandments, which for the non-Christian correspond to self-evident natural laws.  From my experience most preppers are decent God-fearing people who want to do what’s right, not just for their families but also unto others. Understanding the moral rationale of prepping and the ethics of a post-WROL reality is therefore essential for making the hard decisions that will be necessary for survival in a Stuff Hits the Fan situation.  You see, much of morality is about habit; the problem is, in a WROL situation, the failure to make new habits that correspond to new situations will cause many to become paralyzed, unable to act when action is required.  Worse, many others will simply cast aside morality accepting the utilitarian mantra: “the ends justify the means.”  God’s moral law does not change and so the ends never justify unjust and immoral means, but what does change is the way we apply moral principles to a much different situation. This is what preppers must consider and prepare for.

The fifth commandment, for instance, often translated: “thou shalt not kill” in fact should be translated: “thou shalt not murder.”  Throughout the Jewish and Christian tradition taking human life, while always a grave matter was not always considered murder.  Self-defense has always been considered morally justified and it strikes me as particularly useful for the prepper to really understand this, and be willing to use even lethal force to defend himself or his family.  While our Lord does instruct us to “turn the other cheek” in the Gospels this is primarily about being willing to forgive those who transgress against us, being willing to risk our other cheek in order to forgive, not about allowing them to threaten our lives.  Especially in a situation where the lives of others are in your care you may have a moral duty, not just a right, to defend the weak against unjust aggressors. This may even mean the use of deadly force against those (e.g. thieves) who today we may not use deadly force against.  In a WROL situation protecting your food supply becomes a matter of life and death as thieves can become just as deadly as axe murders during famines. I think most of us notionally are ready to defend ourselves, but in a world WROL taking personal responsibility for our own life and those entrusted to our care and becoming comfortable with this reality is essential.

Speaking of thieves, another frequent moral dilemma when speaking of a post-collapse or post disaster world is the commandment thou shalt not steal. Foraging or looting will most likely become a necessity in a WROL situation. What we need to remember about theft is that God created all things for the common good of humanity as a whole, and while he does allow us to “own” things privately, private property is still meant to be used for the common good.  When we talk about stealing we are talking about taking unjustly things that rightfully belong to another. However, in a WROL situation theft must be understood with a certain nuance.  The defense of life trumps the strictly legal claim of a person or corporation to foodstuffs and supplies which they are not using. Here I am not talking about robbing people of their supplies, but foraging (aka looting) stores and properties that have been abandoned by their owners.  It truly is better and more just that people take supplies to preserve life rather than allowing them to spoil or be destroyed in the violence that will most likely follow a WROL situation. When the rule of law breaks down the legal claim absentee owners had to property vanishes and possession, as they say, becomes 9/10ths of the law, however if it makes you feel better an IOU or true intentions to repay the owner given the change would be in the best spirit of justice. [JWR Adds: I don't anticipate a situation where a lawful owner or heir cannot be found unless we have gone through a huge die-off (such as in a pandemic), where more than 90% of the current population dies. Only then could someone justify "foraging." Any property that has an owner or an heir cannot justifiably be taken.]

Taking what others are not using to preserve life isn’t necessarily stealing in a WROL situation; this moral nuance is predicated on the idea that the owners who are unable to use this property themselves have a moral duty to let you use these items.  It’s important to remember, however, that this moral principle cuts both ways, our duty to be charitable is not negated by catastrophe. While other people’s unattended warehouses might be fair game, when starving people show up on your doorstep and you have enough that you could share, you might be morally guilty of theft, or even murder, for not “giving till it hurts.”  As someone who desires to follow natural law a delicate balance between your family/groups future needs and the duty for individuals, not governments, to be charitable and protect life must be found.  The Bible might offer a minimal suggestion for charitable giving in the principle of a Tithe.  In the Book of Genesis Abraham gives a tenth of all his holdings in thanksgiving to the Lord for His providence, many Christians practice this today, and this might be a good habit for us to get into now and plan on as rule of thumb should the collapse come.  I know it is a scary prospect, giving away food, when you are not sure when you might reasonably hope to resupply, or if you will be able to grow enough food to be self-sufficient, but love, the duty of Charity, always involves a risk and it is better to take that risk and save your humanity (and soul) than to survive and live the rest of your days on earth ashamed of how you survived.  As the Scriptures note: “what profit is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

In all things peace comes from knowing that you have done the best that you can, and then trusting in the God who has counted every hair on our head. As Job notes: “the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Ultimately none of us can prep for everything, and even if we did, none of us can guarantee that natural disaster or human greed will not deprive us of our preparations in the hour of our need.  Only God can keep us safe through all life’s difficulties and thus I believe that the most important preparation for TEOTWAWKI is spiritual preparation for the trials and tribulations that surely are ahead of us. As a priest I sit with many people who are going through traumatic situations: death and dying.  Those with faith always fare better, that’s why I believe faith is as important a prep as water.  It is necessary for the desperate situations that will follow a collapse.  All of us must learn to trust in the reality that we are God’s children and our life is in His almighty hands.  Do your part to prepare, realizing that in our weakness He is strong and then do your best to let go and let God.  Let not your heart be troubled, because central to the Christian faith is the trust in the goodness of God expressed in Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane:  "I pray that this cup might pass, but not my will but your will be done."

"Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam." ("I will go in to the altar of God; to God, the joy of my youth.")

James Wesley
We thank God for your blog and all who thoughtfully contribute to SurvivalBlog. I visit often and it has been a godsend for our preps over the past year.

As much as we enjoy the natural beauty and diversity here in California, we all know how this place is continuing it's political nosedive so we're seeking to relocate, preferably to the Redoubt. But the biggest unknown we face in relocation is that we're a multi-racial couple (Nordic male and Asian female). Even though we're happily wed faith-filled Christians, proud American citizens, disgusted with entitlement mentalities and politically aligned with those who seek to uphold the Constitution and encourage personal responsibility, there's those who simply hate my wife for her shade of skin, and probably hate me and our kids for violating their demented views on race mixing. And as China continues to grow in global influence while the morons in Washington undermine the strength of the United States, I fully expect the bitter anti-asian rhetoric of the supremacists will sound sweet to a wider audience and increase our threat.

I'm not at all suggesting this is a problem unique to the Redoubt, racial supremacist fools are can be found in many places and fight for their particular shades of skin and turf whatever or wherever that may be. White supremacists hold their meetings here in parts of California and there's parts of Los Angeles or San Francisco where my wife blends in just fine and I'm the one on high alert. But since we're looking to move to the Redoubt, the tables are turned and she's the one who looks different and I've got to be realistic and wise about the possible security issues to my family.

As such I'm trying to identify those Redoubt communities that already understand that Christ and the Constitution aren't for only one shade of skin, and are already accepting of people who look different but share similar faith and values. I fully expect there's plenty of such places in the Redoubt, it's just not so clear to me how to accurately identify them and do our best to avoid those few where white supremacists concentrate. My nightmare scenario is to relocate only to discover there's a compound of aryan nut jobs down the road that host their hate rallies of hundreds or thousands of people who make it a point to hate us simply because we exist.

Since you've been clear about your non-racist views, I'm reaching out to you for any thoughts or advice you may be able to offer, and I know that we're not alone in seeking this type of information.

Thanks in advance for your help. God Bless , - G. & P.

JWR Replies: In my experience, the American Redoubt region has an undeserved reputation for racism. Part of this reputation is a based on the inordinate mass media attention to the now defunct Aryan Nations group in Hayden, Idaho. The group numbered only about 50 people that actually lived in Idaho and it is now essentially disbanded (a decade ago they were rendered almost impecunious by a $6.3 million civil rights judgment). But most of the mainstream media still seems convinced that Idaho and the entire Inland Northwest is positively infested with Nazis, Doc Marten boots-wearing skinheads, and assorted bigoted malcontents. But here is the reality: Here in the Redoubt, we actually get along remarkably well, and we are socially intolerant of racially intolerant idiots. The handful of racists that are in the region get regularly shunned and shamed.

Granted, the demographics of the Redoubt look "mighty white" compared to California. But that is simply because with the exception of the foundries and aluminum mills of the Spokane Valley, the region never developed much heavy industry. During World War II, large numbers of ethnic minorities moved to West Coast seeking war industry work, at places like Boeing, Lockheed, and at the Kaiser shipyards. They enjoyed the climate, and they stayed. But there was no corresponding "draw" to the Inland Northwest during the war. And nearly all of the Chinese immigrants to the Idaho and Montana's gold fields in the late 19th Century moved on, before 1920. Even the Native Americans that preceded us palefaces by several thousand years are presently a fairly small minority in most counties. (Although they enjoy large land holdings and year-round hunting and fishing privileges that are the source of some envy.)

In the community nearest the Rawles Ranch, there are a few multi-racial families by virtue of inter-marriage or adoption. Ironically, members of these families tell me that the few racist comments that they've heard have mostly come from visiting summer tourists who live elsewhere. We all get along remarkably well here, regardless of racial or religious differences. Part of this can be attributed to a strong "overseas missions emphasis" by the local churches. The rest, I chalk up to our frontier spirit. In this sense, we get along so well because we realize that we depend a lot on each other, in a society with minimal government and an infrastructure that resembles the 1950s. We still have lots of narrow highways, and many roads are gravel rather than paved. We have minimal government amenities, but that also means minimum government intrusiveness. For the most part, we like it that way. (There are a few drawbacks--like the dearth of guardrails on steep highway embankments, chronically cracked windshields because of gravel roads, and a response time for sheriff's deputy calls that can exceed an hour.) We're essentially already on YOYO time.

In summary, I believe that you will like living in the Redoubt. I can't guarantee that you won't face some racism, but there's no guarantee of that in California, either.

One of my regular correspondents is a civil engineer with the highway department in Bangladesh. He sent me the following article links from The Daily Star [in Dhaka, Bangladesh]:

They are facing problems of massive corruption, infrastructure failing, and several large rivers that are dammed on the Indian side of the border, which threaten to turn fertile deltas into deserts.

He's sufficiently placed he may be able to, and "considering" emigrating to Canada or to the US.  I suggested he "consider faster" and not wait until it's too late.

This adds to my estimation that India will be at war with Pakistan, Bangladesh and possibly China before 2025, for water and other critical resources it needs to feed its people.

- Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large)

Dirk W. spotted this: At Vacant Homes, Foraging for Fruit

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Reader Bob J. sent this: Did Wal-Mart stop people from giving CPR to man? Bob's comment: "This news story reminded me so much of an incident from Michael Z. Williamson’s excellent book “The Weapon."

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The End is Nigh: Let’s All Move to Barter Village! "Located in a tiny castle (yes, castle) in northeast Arkansas, Barter Village is an “experimental educational project” where people who’ve been particularly hurt by the down economy can go to learn survival skills such as organic farming, sewing and, yes, bowhunting. Villagers hunt, fish and learn to dress their own game."

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Steph T. sent us this headline from Columbus: Community gardens plagued by thefts -- Despite signs, people are helping themselves to crops at harvest time

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Josh D. recommended the Surveillance Self-Defense web site.

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." - 1 John 4:1-6 (KJV)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Those of us who at all remain connected to the main power grid run the very real risk of having no water following an electrical crisis event, whether man made or natural. That back up generator you intend to switch over to after a power failure will not fire up your well if the pump and/or the pump control box is already fried.
Unless you have not only food, but several thousand gallons of water in a buried cistern (with a hand pump) all the storage supplies in the world will count for naught within only a few days without safe and readily available water.
Even those who are totally off grid may have enough electrical "antenna" exposure via their wiring system to render their well useless. (There are conflicting opinions whether relatively "short" runs of wiring, such as those under the hood of a vehicle, or as part of a solar/wind generator array, might be susceptible to high-altitude EMP bursts, but why not prepare to
be "on the safe side" of the question?)
But what is not in much question is that the hundreds-of-miles of "virtual antenna" which comprises our nation's power and phone transmission lines will act powerfully upon anything connected to them -- perhaps to include your home and vital water well. Even a fence line may constitute a fatal conductor to have your hand resting on should one be so unlucky as to be in
contact with it during the initial main pulse (or pulses if follow up bursts are part of the strategy.)
And although a hugely powerful solar flare event is possible -- and would likely produce a similar result -- my bet will always be on the "human factor" rather than cosmic "coincidence." (That is, the more likely scenario would be a daylight deployment of high altitude EMP weapons (which would be largely invisible/unnoticed by most people) which could then be blamed on whatever a treasonous government felt was in its best interest. They could swear it was a "natural" event, or they could hop up and down in a froth with false-flag accusations against a Muslim or other fall-guy nation -- and who would be able to dispute them? They might even proclaim the grid failure to be the work of "home grown" terrorists supposedly using conventional explosives or suitcase nukes against key points in the grid. Since only government-controlled media would likely be broadcasting (if at all) after such a devastating event, we'd have to take their word for whatever they affirmed -- no more Internet or phones or local stations to counter with the truth (assuming it could even be discovered amid the chaos.)
All of which brings us back to the "mission critical" protection of the homestead water well. Fortunately, a fairly inexpensive "fix" is available for the problem, little more than a few feet of wire, a power relay, a small electrical enclosure box (available at Home Depot) and a modest bit of know-how. Most electricians and most well service companies could do the whole job within a couple or hours, or for those of you who are more technically proficient and adventurous, you could do it yourself with some careful study and appropriate safety measures.
Now before we get started with the details, let me suggest (as others have done in previous posts) a couple of "superior" alternatives to be considered. Perhaps the simplest and most reliable long term answer would be to remove the submersible pump (or surface mounted jet pump) and install a Brumby pump. (Several YouTube videos show how to build your own, very inexpensively!) No wires, no motor, and no moving parts at all down in the well hole to wear out!
Yes, an air compressor somewhere on the property would be required (and could be protected in the same manner as outlined herein) but in comparison to the challenges of protecting/removing/replacing/servicing pumps tens or many hundreds of feet deep, the Brumby approach really can't be beat! Also, the air compressor can do double duty, i.e. power air tools, aerate ponds, et cetera, and should it ever break, they are far easier to come by (and/or repair) than a deep pump or jet pump. Moreover, the air compressor can be hugely oversized (if that's all you could find) and still do just fine, whereas a submersible pump must be properly sized both electrically and in physical dimension, etc.
With the Brumby design there are various considerations regarding overall well depth, actual depth to the water level within the well, etc, but even if your particular configuration would make a Brumby pump problematical, you could still easily construct or purchase a positive displacement style air/water pump that would likewise dispense with motors and wires down in the well, yet still have great simplicity and reliability and ease of repair. There also exists at least one brand of lever-action mechanical pump able to handle a couple hundred or so of depth with no problem. I can post more on these alternatives in a subsequent post, if some readers indicate an interest...
Okay, let's start with the relay, widely available, but not likely to be found in a Home Depot or Lowe's etc. The links below show two variations of the same relay, one with a 120 VAC energizing coil, and the other with a 240 VAC coil. They also are available in other coil and contact voltages, but for now these will suffice for purposes of illustration.  What we are trying to do  here is walk through the general logic and a couple of "typical" installations -- as they say, your own mileage may vary, in which case any competent electrician will nevertheless understand these instructions sufficiently to adapt the principles to your own circumstance.
Most home or small ranch well pumps either run on 120 VAC or 240 VAC single phase power from the main circuit breaker panel. Almost always the pump will have its own "dedicated" breaker that sends the power on to the pump equipment room, where most often the supply conduit first goes to a manual disconnect box with a lever on the right side which can be pulled down to cut
power so as to safely work on the wiring.
Often (but not always) the output wiring of the disconnect box then goes directly to the pump pressure switch, which will not send the power any further unless the system pressure drops low enough to require more water.  If the switch does shift due to low pressure, then the power is switched either directly to the pump down in the well, or in many cases instead is sent first to a pump control box which may contain such additional items as perhaps a start relay, capacitor(s) and other associated items, and from there on down to the submerged pump.
Specifically, for a standard 240 VAC set-up, what we'll be doing is removing the two wires that normally go from the pressure switch to the pump (or to its control box) and let them hang momentarily.  We will then cut two new pieces of same-gauge [and color] wire and connect them from the just-vacated terminals of the pressure switch up to the two terminals of our new 240 VAC relay coil.  We'll also jumper two short wires from those two coil terminals to the two "normally open" terminal connections of the relay, typically abbreviated and molded into the adjacent plastic as "no." (Again, for those without sufficient technical know-how and familiarity with safety precautions it would be best to pass these instructions on to a qualified professional.)
This new relay is commonly termed a "double pole, double throw" arrangement whereby it is essentially two switches or relays in one. No power will flow through the relay unless it is energized by its built-in magnetic coil via the pressure switch wiring, as described.
The two "moving contact" parts of the relay (mechanically linked to each other but electrically isolated) each have their own separate terminals marked as "common" or the abbreviated letter "c" molded into the adjacent plastic.  The two wires that we removed earlier from the pressure switch and left dangling will now instead be routed individually to these two terminals
marked "c" or common.
However we also want to protect the pump from any possible high voltage surge that might come into the home from an outside event. High voltages can "bridge" or arc across even a normally "off" switch or relay contact, so to counter that we will use the "normally closed" contacts on the new relay and run wires from those two terminals to the well casing (or other suitable
earth ground.)
What this means is that whenever our new relay is off, and the pump is not running, the pump is always connected across the new relay to an earth ground, such that even if high voltage does try to bridge the gap between contacts in the relay, the arc will be forced to encounter an easy and relatively safe path to the earth. It's still "possible" for some of the voltage to divide and go down the wires into the well, but those wires will also be effectively "cross-linked" or shorted to each other via the normally-closed common wire connections to the well casing, and therefore the pump windings will be much less prone to damage.
If the pump system happens to run on 120 VAC instead of 240 VAC, it is still very likely to have a disconnect box and pressure switch, but in this instance usually only the black (or "hot") wire is routed through through the pressure switch, leaving the white (and green) to continue uninterrupted to the pump and/or its associated control box. For this system we would have selected a relay whose coil also runs on 120 VAC (per the links) and we would slightly modify our new wiring procedure accordingly.
What we'd do in this case would be to find a way to cut and splice an added length of white wire into the white wire that goes in  and back out of the disconnect box (via a wire nut) and connect the other end of this new white wire to one of the relay terminals marked "coil."
The black wire coming out of the pressure switch and going to the pump or its control box is the one we will now remove from the pressure switch terminal block, letting it hang loose for the moment.  We'll cut a new length of black wire (same amperage size as the one removed) and run it from that just-vacated terminal on the pressure switch to the other "coil" terminal on our new relay.  We'll also jumper a short piece of black wire from that same coil terminal over to one of the relay terminals marked as normally open or "no."  At this point our new relay coil terminals will have a black wire and a white wire, respectively.
The normally open and normally closed and common terminals on the new relay are "paired" individually and separately to either the right side or left side of the relay, so either by following the metal strips and contacts visually, or by using a test meter set on ohms, we need to make sure that whichever of the two "no" or normally open terminals we selected for placing our black hot wire from the pressure switch, we then locate the matching "common" terminal associated with the "no" terminal having that black wire.
That common terminal will then need a new piece of black wire running from it back down to the "hanging" black wire that we had earlier detached from the pressure switch.  We'll wire nut them together or otherwise reconnect them safely.  Thus when the disconnect switch restores power to the system, what now happens is that when the pressure switch senses low water pressure and clicks "on" it will send power up to our new relay coil (turning the relay on) and via the jumper from the black coil lead to the normally open terminal the power will now go across the relay and out the "common" terminal over to the pump, or its control box, thus running the system until pressure builds back up again.
As with the 240 VAC arrangement however, we still must protect the pump from EMP surge, so we finish the project by finding the normally closed terminal associated with our other two wires (common and normally open) and connecting it to our well casing or other equivalent earth ground.
Thus in either instance, whether 120 VAC or 240 VAC, while the pump is off, it's internal wiring will always be connected to a direct earth ground connection, instead of being vulnerable to a surge which could instantly burn it out like an old incandescent light bulb that goes "FLASH" and gone before one can even blink!
Now some of you sharper readers will have already noted that the protection outlined above will not help if by unhappy chance the pump is actually running to recharge the pressure tanks or re-fill the cistern [at the moment] when the EMP burst occurs. Sorry folks -- there really isn't much of a fix of any nature (that I've yet come across) for that rare instance.
Fortunately however, most deep well pumps run for only a small fraction of each day, so the odds of being "hit" during those moments is fairly remote, but still possible. (Thus the recommendation to use a Brumby or mechanical lever pump or have a full back up of all major components and the capability of hauling the entire array out of the well and re-installing it all -- not usually an easy job for amateurs!)
Nevertheless, for only a hundred or so dollars in parts (plus perhaps paying a professional for wiring it all) you will have increased the odds tremendously in your favor, since the alternative is to leave it as is, always at total risk of being fried should an EMP or flare event take place (whether the pump is running, or not!)
I'd be happy to provide a clearly-depicted wiring diagram based on your particular system, plus a suggested parts list, for anyone interested.  Contact me via e-mail.
Here is one source for the aforementioned relays. (An online search will show other similarly-rated items):

Yo Jim,
We live in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma next to the Texas Panhandle.
This summer when the weather reports from Oklahoma City were pointing out temperatures in the 105 to 112 range in areas north and south of us ours here were considerably higher.
We have a large face thermometer in the back yard on a post inside a wooden open faced box facing away from the sun and not in a shaded area.
Yesterday it read 114.
Today it is reading 113 at 3 pm.
Many days it has read 120 pegged to its maximum.
I personally have never experienced such intense heat during my 70 years.
That includes a tour of duty in Niger in the Peace Corps in the Sahel, the southern regions of the Sahara Desert.

We have many trees dying.
You could virtually look out the window and see the vegetation of the countryside dying.
We have had about one inch of rain in the last two weeks.
But it is not enough to save many of the native trees.

Under intense watering twice a day our garden has simply been cooked by the sun.
The only thing doing well are the sweet potatoes and the melons.
The melons are shaded most of the day by 4 rows of dried up corn.
The surviving tomatoes and peppers are mostly in pots in the shade.
But they too are shriveled and not producing any fruit.

Which leads me to mention that I just finished reading The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.
The book is an historical account of the Dust Bowl days centered around 'no mans land' of the Oklahoma Panhandle, the north Texas Panhandle, southeastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas.
This is one of the most fascinating books I have read in many years.
You better keep a box of kleenex handy.
The descriptions of the dust pneumonia deaths and the hardships will bring tears to you regularly.
This was an environmental war against humans.
Caused primarily by the regular cycles of drought coinciding with the plowing up of the prairie to meet the demands of an expanding wheat market that paid huge profits.
Then the whole ecosystem of the high plains collapsed.
With no grass to hold the soil and persistent winds 'saltation' of soil began.
Once the soil begins to move with the wind it builds downwind into great storms of dirt that last for hours.
Many many miles wide and extending up to 20,000 feet high.

Want to read about what hard times are about?
Read about these people's bug out plans.
The Last Man Standing Club.
Jackrabbit roundups.
That is another whole story.
I personally experienced two jackrabbit roundup's in Kansas in the late 1950s.
These roundups were held SE of Rush Center, Kansas.
The killing frenzy of men with the trapped rabbits in a large enclosure is hell on earth.
The enclosure where I witnessed this killing contained between 2,000 and 2,500 rabbits.
There is no description of words that can describe the chaos, the death sounds of the rabbits, the movement of rabbits in an enclosure with moving rabbit bodies continually in motion 6 to 8 feet high, the blood, wounded rabbits stuck in the fence, rabbit hair floating in the breeze and the absolute maniacal insanity of the killing frenzy of humans after those rabbits.
Then throw in 2 or 3 or 4 coyotes in the pen mixed in for more excitement.
The rabbits were sold for mink farm food and shipped out of state in box cars.

During the Dust Bowl days they canned the rabbit meat for survival.
There was life in the dugout and simple wooden frame homes.
No amount of sealing could keep out the dust.
It was life with dust in everything you owned.
Cars shorted out in the static electricity and stopped running.
Vehicles had a chain over the rear axle dragging on the ground to discharge the static electricity.
People could not shake hands nor touch each other in a dust storm because the discharge of electricity would knock you down or cause you pain.
Dust was in what you ate, what you wore, your nose openings had to be covered in vaseline to keep the dust out of the lungs and it was in your bed.
Buildings were covered in dunes of dust.
Homes were shoveled out, not swept out.
Automobiles, farm implements, whole gardens, chicken houses, the outhouse all were subject to disappearing under mounds of dirt.
Some of these mounds collected into 50 ft. drifts over the years.
Fence lines were buried with only [the top of] the fence post above the dirt.

People caught out in the open when a dust storm came up frequently never survived.
Cattle, horses and pigs chocked to death on dirt.

The story of these peoples endurance, spirit and love of the land is without equal.

There is more.....

Here is raw survival at its best.

There is no fiction that can better this story.

I recommend this book highly.

A regular reader, - J.W.C.

Dear Editor:

Re: If You Cannot Evacuate, by B.A.F. Regarding this bit of mis-information…

“If someone trying to get into your home is high on Methamphetamines or PCP, he won’t even feel a 9mm and a .40 Smith will only enrage him. The bare minimum I would have is a .38 +P or a .357 Magnum. Jacketed Hollow Points are the order of the day here! A .357 SIG in my opinion is also inadequate in these circumstances. Bottom line: Buy either a .357 Magnum for anyone or a .45 ACP such as a 1911 type semi-auto.”

I understand that the 9mm vs. 45ACP vs. whatever debate is endless and won’t be settled here. So, I don’t intend to advocate one caliber over the other with this response, but the statement above is bad information and bad information can be dangerous. Shot placement is the primary factor in the lethality of any gunshot wound. The difference between the damage caused by one round over another outside of placement is generally negligible. The idea that someone who “wouldn’t even feel” a 9mm would otherwise be stopped effectively by a .45 is just ludicrous. I don’t mean to be inflammatory, but that statement is dead wrong and could have deadly consequences for anyone foolish enough to accept it as truth. - Rochester-W.

K.A.F. suggested this blog post: SHTF Rifle

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Drew flagged this: How to Get the Most out of your Mil-Dot Reticle

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent this: Defcon Lockpickers Open Card-And-Code Government Locks In Seconds. And speaking of hacking, The Other Steve C. sent this: Five things you probably didn't know could be hacked.

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I recently posted a link to an American Defense Enterprises (ADE) video, by way of Tam's blog. That video was so roundly criticized for its buffoonery, posing, and insanely unsafe gun handling that it was removed from YouTube. But for any of you that missed seeing these poseurs--in all their Mall Ninja splendor--I'm pleased to report that the video was preserved by a blogger and included in this critique: American Defense Enterprises: Epic Facepalm In 3 Parts. Personal note to ADE President Bill Beasley: Please mail me a certified copy of your DD-214 and then I'll believe your claim of being "former Special Forces."

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The BHO administrations's backstabbing of our allies continues: U.S. to Deny Taiwan New F-16 Fighters. (JWR's Comment: Can you smell a whiff of quid pro quo in the air? Someday, historians might provide some insight on the dark dealings between the White House and the People's Republic of China, vis-a-vis our nation's sovereign debt instruments.)

"I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high." - Psalm 7:17 (KJV)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Introduction: I've maintained a salt water reef tank for more than 10 years. The following is a improvised method that I used to process water to the point where it was acceptable for use with coral and salt water fish [before it is salinated] . Coral and salt water fish are very sensitive to toxic chemicals, nitrates, nitrites, phosphates, and ammonia in some cases just  .02-20 PPM would be deadly to salt water animals, so filtration quality was key. 

Improvised Water Filter

Water Filtration and Storage
On the run filtration
Building a Water Filter
Collection and Storage

On the run filtration
Collect water and run through several layers of cloth; then treat water with the following process:
Add 8-9 drops of plain bleach per gallon.
Shake up container, and let sit for 30 minutes
Open container and smell for bleach. If the water does not have a light smell of bleach, then add another 8 drops, shake and wait another 30 minutes.  If water does not have a light smell of bleach at that point, the water is probably too contaminated, and should not be consumed. I would not exceed 18 drops per gallon.
Remember - use plain bleach, no additives at all.

Building a Water Filter 

Water Preparation Notes:

Start with chemical processing using the 'on the run filtration' method. This should kill most bacteria and parasites; if you have power, you can replace this step with a UV sterilizer, however I would wait a few days before processing due to the UV disruption the reproductive cycle through DNA corruption for many bacteria and other critters. Exposure [of very shallow water] for a day or two under direct sunlight ["the SODIS method"] could also be an alternative if someone is too sensitive to the bleach method, and you have no power.

Chlorine/bleach evaporates - so after you have treated your water with bleach to kill micro-organisms (recommended), then let the water sit open for one to two days to clear out the chemicals.  By doing so, less of the activated carbon is used up filtering out your introduced chemicals.

While letting the chlorine/bleach evaporate keep in mind you are also letting particulates settle. When you are ready to move the water to the filter, try and use a secondary container for transport, and not mix up the water.  The final 2-3" of water will be far more polluted than the top layers.
On a side note, if you are testing your water with a kit, chlorine can show up as ammonia.  Test for ammonia after chlorine has had a day or two to evaporate. 

Questionable Secondary Filter Medium

There are specific filtration material available for nitrates, nitrites, phosphates and ammonia, however since I do not know if these are 'human' safe, I will let the reader research these for themselves - all of these media are searchable under "reef tank filter media." I will say that they are fish and coral safe (if purchased for fish tank filtering), and the coral and fish that I have kept for years are very sensitive to toxic material. If I were desperate, I would consider it; but it would have to be a life or death situation with children. Be careful here, it may be a last resort. 

Building the Filter Layers

 Layers from top to bottom, quantity will vary depending on the size of the filter, however depth it the critical factor.
Each layer can be held in a 5 gallon food safe container with holes punched in the bottom, stacked one onto of the other. When designing the frame, make it so that each bucket can be removed for maintenance. Don't make the holes too large, you want the water to seep through the media. Starting with a few small holes is much easier to increate for flow, than plugging many large holes. This is especially true with the activated carbon. Clean buckets as though they will hold food, and use only food save material. In each layer, increasing the thickness of the media will improve the quality of the water.

Layers 1-4 with 1 being the top layer. First three layers to have 5" gap between them if possible.  If not possible, touching layers would be okay in a single bucket, but this is not ideal.  The key with the gaps is to allow for water to pool above the medium and slowly sink through, it also helps to self compensate for the speed that water passes through the different media.
1. Linens/Bed Sheets, cloth material; two sheets thick minimal
Details: the number of layers depend on thread count, water should seep through, not pour through.  Allowing the material to sag in the center will result in more water being processed in a single pour.
Function: Initial pre-filter, to keep out large debris 
Note: recommend 'natural/organic' cloth to help prevent the medium from introducing chemicals to the water.
2. Cotton Balls - 3" thick when compressed by water.
Same function as #1, however since medium will have a different texture and thickness it will pre-filter out different material.  In a SHTF situation, bed sheets and cloths may be at a premium, so if need be, #2 could be the only pre-filter, or visa versa. 
3. Water Polishing Pads (Here is an example )
Function: These are micro-fine polyester filters designed to remove deters and microscopic material from water.
Details: One media think layer is acceptable.
4. Activated Carbon - final layer
Details: Layered 3" to 6" deep. (Here is an example)
Function: This filtration material removes trace elements from water, along with many toxic compounds. Activated Carbon, along with the pre-filter (fabric and cotton) are the critical components.
If you will be storing the water, you may want to add 2-3 drops of bleach prior to sealing the container.
Collection and Storage
It’s important to remember that each gallon is approximately 8.35 pounds. This adds up quick if storing or collecting for a permanent location. Average water consumption in the US is 4.49 Gallons per day (Here is some data.)
This adds up to 37.49 lbs per person, per day. That’s 262 lbs per person per week.  Yes, showers will be more limited, but with lots of dehydrated food to prepare, and reserves for gardening, the numbers would be ½ the current average at best and most likely close to the same.  Since the amount of water per person needed will be highly personalized, it is best to plan for the maximum possible water storage.
For those with a well or spring fed pond, storage is still a critical component.  Droughts happen, wells run dry, pumps break. Besides, transporting water to a garden in 5 gallon containers is bound to get old soon.

We should also keep in mind that you can smell water when thirsty. Just like cooking food caries smells for miles, water does too.  This should not be overlooked. Ponds, lakes, rivers carry the smell of water far, but a dehydrated person will still be able to smell a exposed rainwater cistern much further than you like.
Like any good defense there should be layers to water storage. Each layer kept in a different location.  So, have a plan and cover story.
In my area, we have a few community wells pumping to our subdivision. Since water can get interesting during the summer, when everyone is watering their lawns, it is easy to explain my 8 x 24 bottle cases of water per person. It’s not much, but will help during natural disasters where power, and water pressure is temporarily unavailable.

Until I purchase a few cisterns my plan B is as follows:
Leverage plastic garbage cans, using reef safe silicone to plug any holes at the time and to dry a thin layer around the lid to seal in water from evaporation.  One good thing about this is that no one has ever asked my why I have two extra garbage cans. Of course this will need to be cleaned with bleach, and collected water will need to be filtered. Yes, human safe is a question here, but it’s a SHTF plan. 

Creating the seal.  Apply silicone bead around the area of the plastic trashcan, where the lid comes in contact. Make sure the silicone bead is dry before closing. The intent is to create a barrier that will seal when the lid is shut, similar to the seal on an ammo can.  Also use the silicone to plug any minor holes in the can, if you are forced to use a used trashcan. This is necessary for two main reasons: 1. It keeps bugs from crawling into the water, and 2. Keeps down evaporation.

For a location, I have an area near my gutter down spouts that I’ve cleared of major rocks and can dig our and bury the trash can with out too much effort.  This area has plants, so yard work is always a good cover story.  In a SHTF situation, the plastic can will be buried at night, a wood cover placed over it to allow for camouflage placement, and the plastic water re-direction tube on my gutter down spouts can be kept pointing at my plants until rain comes.  Keep the location within a reasonable distance to a door/window for quick in home transport, and away from high traffic areas.  Just a few minutes saved in accessing your water source could be the difference between a secret and a major neighborhood conversation.
If I had to dig a secondary location for water in a SHTF condition (which I most likely would), and someone saw the digging, I expect to use the ‘digging the next outhouse location’ as a good answer to keep away prying eyes.

The best way is to purchase several cisterns approved for storing drinking water. Once I can purchase the cisterns, I plan on putting on in the same location described for the trashcan. I won’t be able to hide the install so, since I have a few ‘green happy’ neighbors, I’m going with that approach. Telling them that I am collecting rainwater for use with plants around the house, and a secondary location for the garden, is far more neighborhood acceptable than saying I’m preparing for TEOTWAWKI.

Supplemental Tools: In addition to the storage, a hand pump is critical here. The pump must have a garden hose attachment. For my case, I have about 300 feet of garden hose, which just happens to be the depth of my neighbors well.  (another item for my to-do list).

I’ve been looking at a Dayton Brand Hand Pump, Rotary 15 GPM, but will need to do more research. (The Grainger web site also has less expensive pumps that I might get first as a backup before getting the $100-$200 pumps.  Not the best way, but I have other priorities to purchase first, and this would get me something while I save up for the better quality one. In the end I’ll have two hand pumps.

Note: even though the intent is to collect rainwater, do not be misled. This water still needs to be filtered.  Roof top runoff water is exposed to your roofing material, let alone what the birds leave behind on the roof, and improvised storage medium may contain chemicals. Water filtration is critical, for health and safety.

On a side note: The more I plan, the more I kick myself for moving to a populated area. It’s no city here, but if there were a major event something as simple as having water would put me in a no-win situation. JWR, feel free to insert an ‘I told you so’ comment.

Testing the results
I would recommend testing the water pre and post processing.  You may need to tune the depth of the material, and the number of holes in the buckets. Places like Petco have many fresh water testing kits.  

Focus on the following kits:
Nitrate, Nitrite, Phosphate, and Ammonia.  If the water is in the same range or better than for freshwater fish (guidelines describing the range acceptable for fish are almost always included in the test kits) it should be well within human tolerances. Note, that when I was processing city tap water for my tank, I almost always had to pre-process the water before using it with fish, since they need a higher quality of water than we do.

I would like to say thanks to all the SurvivalBlog readers, who took the time to drop me an e-mail to thank me for my articles and efforts, writing for SurvivalBlog. I personally responded to every one of you who wrote. I'm sorry my responses couldn't have been longer, but I received more than 100 e-mails from SurvivalBloggers, and it took me quite a while to catch-up to them all. I sincerely appreciated hearing from each and every one of you.

I've learned that SurvivalBlog readers are usually a very intelligent bunch of folks, not your average run-of-the-mill, gun store nuts or mall ninjas. You are well-read and an educated bunch, to be sure. Many SurvivalBlog readers have written me asking questions about certain types of guns, and I hope I've been of some help with my answers. Some have written to me with gunsmithing questions, and once again, I hope I've been of some help as it's difficult to make a diagnoses without actually seeing the gun and the problems it may have been having.

A lot of SurvivalBlog readers have written asking me to do an article on a certain gun, and if I've owned that gun, I'll get around to writing about it sooner or later. I note one readers had a letter posted on SurvivalBlog August 16th, requesting that I do an article about the Draco pistol. While I would like to accommodate you all, if I don't own a particular firearm, or have owned it, it's difficult for me to obtain samples for test and evaluation. I can't just pick-up the phone or e-mail a gun company and ask them to send me whatever I want to test. There is a process, and part of that process is having the right connections, as well as usually having an assignment from one of my editors for a particular gun to test and evaluate.

Additionally, some gun companies send me guns for test and evaluation, and I end up paying shipping - both ways! As you all may be aware, I receive no pay from SurvivalBlog for doing my articles. So, it's hard for me to justify requesting a firearm to write about, if I have to pay shipping to get the firearm, and then pay return shipping - it is especially expensive when dealing with handguns, which must be shipped Next Day UPS or FedEx. I'm sure many readers think that gun writers make a lot of money from their articles - we don't! With many of us, it's simply a side job or a hobby - many gun writers hold other jobs. In my case, I work as a writer, doing firearm and knife articles, as well as teaching firearms classes, doing security consulting, writing books and when the economy permits, I breed and sell German Shepherds.

Some of you may have noticed, that I'm now only doing one article per week for SurvivalBlog. There's a reason for this. I thought I had developed Carpal Tunnel in my right wrist, making it extremely difficult to do a lot of typing - not good for a writer. However, my yearly visit to my doctor revealed osteo-arthritis in my right wrist, as well as my right hip and lower back - and that also makes it difficult for me to sit and type for very long. Thirty-five years in the martial arts takes a toll on a person's body, no doubt about that. So, for the time being, I'll just be doing one article per week for SurvivalBlog.

Once again, I'd like to thank all of you who took the time to write me, and saying thanks for my articles. I'll be doing more gun and knife articles, as well as reviewing some other survival related products, as well as some reloading articles - and if you're not into reloading, then you'd better start to think about getting into it.

Thanks again, to you all, and thanks to Jim Rawles, for giving me the editorial freedom to write about what interests me. -  SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Letter Re: Ireland Shipwreck Illustrates Some Preparedness Principles

This news article: American crew members tell the story of their rescue off West Cork coast illustrates some preparedness principles. There are a lot of lessons in this story:

(1) What will you be wearing [or "everyday carrying"] you when you're tossed into a survival situation?

(2) Experienced sailors caught short. Preparedness mindset? [Preparedness oversights] could be fatal.

(3) In a group willing to help, but can't be seen. Flare pens [should be] in an always-worn survival vest.

(4) Rescued by Gooferment forces standing by. Who pays for that, and all the other, rescues?

(5) What happens when those forces are not standing around waiting?

(6) What happens when you are where those forces are?

(7) I don't own a boat, but this convinces me to get one of those seat belt cutting window smashing tools for each of my cars. Maybe I'll give them as Christmas gifts.

Did I miss any lessons? - FJohn

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have been following the thread on "Prepping for Missionaries and Other Long Term Foreign Workers."  My business partner and I have more than one hundred mission trips between us and have been first responders to several of the latest disasters including the Tsunami in Banda Aceh, Hurricane Dean in Jamaica, and the Earthquake in Haiti. Several of the writers and especially P.J.H. has been spot on in their information.  Problems in the mission field or for the foreign worker have a direct correlation to the lack of understanding for the culture of the country where they serve. It is acerbated by the export of U.S. culture the traveler brings and having an expectation that everywhere should act/be like the USA.  A number of great resources were identified in their post, but I see a gaping hole in what to do if the unthinkable happens. Did you know that according to the CDC: “Motor vehicle crashes—not crime or terrorism—are the number one killer of healthy US citizens traveling in foreign countries”.  Unfortunately, most US travelers and especially missionary and NGO employees travel and drive without the slightest though of their vehicle safety. They assume their host has adequately prepared their vehicle for safe travel.

In an number of countries where a driving fatality takes place, both parties can be arrested until a complete investigation takes place and we all know the speed of developing countries is slow and the investigation can take weeks.  Many of the hospitals in those same countries require payment prior to treating of the patient. In a recent situation we had a client that had injured themselves and needed treatment. The hospital in Central America refused to accept the insurance or the travel insurance supplement. They had to pay the hospital provider in cash to get service.

F.G. sent this: Illinois to feed Asian carp to the poor

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R.J. asks: "Better than nothing?", in pointing us to this: ThinkGeek : Ultimate Survival Kit in a Water Bottle

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In conjunction with National Preparedness Month (in September), Emergency Essentials is giving away one of their "Traditional 2000" Year Supply food storage packages that is worth more than $1,600.

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S.T. mentioned this: How to Remove Yourself From People Search Websites.

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Fast and Furious' a prelude to gun registration? (Link courtesy of James C.)

"Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with [my] whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and [in] the congregation.

The works of the LORD [are] great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

His work [is] honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD [is] gracious and full of compassion.

He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.

He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.

The works of his hands [are] verity and judgment; all his commandments [are] sure.

They stand fast for ever and ever, [and are] done in truth and uprightness.

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend [is] his name.

The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever." - Psalm 111 (KJV)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most of us do not have the funds to purchase and maintain a survival retreat, however there are effective things the ordinary citizen can do to help themselves and their families get through the troubled times ahead. I could write reams on this subject, but for the purposes of this article I will concentrate on a few basics to help your family get started on the path to survival.
I have been watching in horror for months as the U.S. government races towards the abyss. The British press truly nailed it when, after the debt ceiling vote was announced, the BBC referred to the vote as increasing the United States’ “overdraft authority”. Hurricane Katrina showed everyone with a brain that the government cannot and will not help you in the event of a disaster! Nuff’ said here.

Shelter Where You Are
In my opinion, people who live in rural areas are going to be generally better off. You are still going to need to stock up for long term difficulties and the sooner the better! The American people have become far too dependent upon outside systems and people, and when and if our infrastructure collapses, you going to be in a world of hurt if you don’t act now!

Here are some examples of things my family is doing. I am buying several extra cans of food a week. I buy at several different stores in nearby communities. I do this because any sudden large purchase gets the attention of our local paranoid Sheriff’s department. I’ve been given several 2½ and 5 gallon plastic buckets by the manager of a local mini-mart after they’ve finished with them. I clean them out, and then put the extra canned goods in them. We live in a humid area, and storing the cans in the buckets prevents the outside of the cans from rusting.

One other thing I plan do very soon is to purchase three large plastic totes in which I can place 4 weeks worth of canned foods to throw in our car if we do need to evacuate. In a 4th tote, I’ll have 3 changes of clothing for my wife and myself along with some cooking implements, a one burner butane stove and 6 cans of fuel. I can also carry 14 gallons of drinking water as well as food for our dog for a month. Do not forget to assemble a complete emergency medical kit for this evacuation pack! In our case, I have packed 60 days worth of our prescription medications.
Back to the homestead, however. Here is what I’m planning to do at our place.

50 gallons of drinking water and two 200-gallon [service life] filters. In my case I’m lucky enough to be about two miles from a large creek which runs all year. I can take a few dozen containers in the car and fill them from this stream. I do not, however drink this water without treating it first! I boil it for 20 to 30 minutes, and after it has cooled, I filter it. I use the Katadyn Hiker which is rated to filter up to 200 gallons. After it has been filtered, I add a teaspoon of unscented bleach to each 7 gallon storage container. These containers are kept in a dark and cool storage shed, and will keep for a very long time. Purchase as many of the 5-7 gallon containers as you can. If this is not possible or practical, save your two liter soda bottles as these are an excellent alternative. Be sure to treat the water before storing it. As for your tap water, depending on where you live, you might want to treat that as well, before storing it.

One-Burner Butane stove: These can be had at Wal-Mart and most other big box stores. The one I use has a Piezo-electric spark which ignites the fuel. We also have 40 extra fuel canisters for it. I estimate this will provide 2 hot meals each day for two people for up to six months.

Kerosene: We heat our home with it. We usually store 60 to 100 gallons, depending on the severity of the Winter. We have an indoor use Kerosene heater which does not require electricity to operate. We also have a large stock of candles for lighting as well as a few hand crank rechargeable LED lights.
Solar Shower for indoor use: Don’t laugh! This does work! We simply heat some water in a pot on the butane stove, pour the heated water into the Solar Shower, and hang it on the shower head in the bathroom. Hot shower off the grid! If it works on the trail it will work in your home!
Not enough can be said on this subject. I mentioned the 2-½ gallon buckets earlier. The reason I prefer these over the 5-gallon size is very simple. Older folks and children will have a much easier time moving the smaller buckets around. There is nothing wrong with the larger containers and I certainly have a few of them as well. As with the larger totes, I put the extra canned goods in there to prevent them from rusting, and this allows us to move the most food possible with the least amount of effort.

Important Note: Most people don’t do these things because they are daunted by the size and expense of a project like this. There is a way to deal with this. Whenever you go to the store, buy two or three extra cans and put them away for lean times. Your wallet will hardly notice the extra few dollars and in a year’s time you will be amazed at how much emergency food is in your pantry or your shed.

At my house, my wife is annoyed that I’m buying extra canned food to put away whenever I can. She tells me that she will take care of the matter and won’t let me starve. I know she loves me and takes excellent care of me: However, if the world around us takes a nose dive there will not be any food available for her to take care of me with! So, with no disrespect towards her, I am ignoring her protests and buying the food anyway!

As a side note, I highly recommend purchasing a subscription to Backwoods Home Magazine. The editors and staff there have developed self-reliant living and emergency preparedness into an art form! I have not seen a more in-depth and comprehensive source for these matters anywhere else!!

Learn First Aid and CPR. While I have good reason to have no love for the American Red Cross, they do offer the best basic training available in this area. Build the biggest medical kit you possibly can! Whether you can evacuate or not, having as much first aid gear as possible could well be the difference between life and death for you and your family. Do not forget to include prescription meds for every family member. Visit your doctor and explain what you are doing. Be tactful! Explain that you are simply trying to build up a small extra supply for emergencies such as a natural disaster, long-term power outages, etc. Do not say anything about your political concerns! Most of the medical personnel that I work with are very liberal. My two concerns here are first, they may view you as a nut-case and deny your request for extra meds. Second, though not likely, they may report you to the local authorities as a “Rambo” type or a “dangerous survivalist”. All you are attempting to do at this point is to have some extra medications on hand in the event of an emergency and you can’t get to medical care or they can’t get to you. Make sure they understand this and keep it simple!

Which brings me to the final point of this article, personal protection.

Personal Protection
I am a strong supporter of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Some people suggest you have a reliable handgun for personal and home defense. I suggest getting two! Ideally, one of them should be unregistered. If at all possible buy one or more guns privately so there is no ’paper trail’ to tip off Big Brother.

For home protection my first choice is a 20 gauge shotgun. They are lighter and easier to handle than a 12 gauge, so women and teenage children can handle them. They are also usually a bit shorter which makes them more maneuverable in a high stress situation. They will do less damage to your walls and furniture and at the ranges being discussed here, and will drop an intruder just as effectively as a 12 gauge. Another advantage here is that if you have to shoot outside, a 20 gauge is less likely to damage a neighbor’s property. [JWR Adds: Some ammunition makers might disagree with some of the foregoing, given the relatively comparable penetration of buckshot and slugs from 12 gauge versus 20 gauge shells at less than 20 yards.]

I also highly recommend a reliable handgun for each adult. There are pros and cons to revolvers and semi-autos, and the debate will not be settled here. Generally speaking, revolvers are less likely to jam at a critical moment. For people with less experience with guns, I suggest you start with a revolver, and there are some very good ones out there. I personally own a .357 Magnum which I can get to very quickly if I need to.

I despise 9mm! If someone trying to get into your home is high on Methamphetamines or PCP, he won’t even feel a 9mm and a .40 Smith will only enrage him. The bare minimum I would have is a .38 +P or a .357 Magnum. Jacketed Hollow Points are the order of the day here! A .357 SIG in my opinion is also inadequate in these circumstances. Bottom line: Buy either a .357 Magnum for anyone or a .45 ACP such as a 1911 type semi-auto.

Why do I advocate personal ownership of firearms? Well, taking the Second Amendment out of the equation for a moment, it is quite simple… At best the local cops are 6 to 30 minutes away. Where we live, it can be up to an hour, depending on how many donuts they have yet to consume. Another reason is that most dispatchers will tell you to do nothing and wait for officers to get to you. Yeah, right! Meanwhile, the burglars are in your garage, your shed, or your bedroom and you have been shot or your wife raped or your children abducted! No thank you! If an intruder comes into my home and he, she, or they are armed, it is the intruder who is going to be lying dead on the floor, not me or a member of my family, thank you very much! As the old saying goes, I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6. To keep things in balance however, let me say this: While I will act to protect myself and my family, I pray to God that I never have to put this to the test !

In closing let me also stress that it is best to keep as low a profile as you possibly can. You do not want nosey neighbors knowing you have extra food and supplies. You might want to suggest to them that they start doing things for themselves, but keep your own activities secret from them. You may think they are your friends and that they can be trusted. Do not fool yourself! If push comes to shove and they know you have provisions and they don’t. And some of them are liberals.

My last thought is this: I am very irritated by the mainstream media’s treatment of freedom loving, conservative Americans. I am constantly hearing talk from the media that it is the conservatives who are going to rise up and riot in the street. I submit that the exact opposite is going to be the case. It is my considered opinion that it is the liberal element of the population who will be the problem. It will be the welfare recipients, the illegal aliens, and the social engineers who will be the ones to riot and cause destruction. Why? Because they are the people who have lived off the system for nearly two generations, who have no work ethic, no sense of self worth, and expect everything to be handed to them, who, when the system does fail and America goes into default, will demand that the gravy train continue. When they see that their meal ticket no longer exists, their veneer of civilization will come off and it is they who will rise up against the government, not us! It will be far worse for our country than the Civil War ever was!

Prepare now. Prepare quietly. Do have a plan of escape if at all possible. If you cannot evacuate, or even if you can, lay in your supplies now. Because once it hits the fan it will be too late.

I thought that the SurvivalBlog readers could use these:

Everyday Foods: A Wartime Cookbook

Emergency: Citizens Handbook for Disasters

There are many more free e-books in the Kindle store. These are helpful to a newbie such as myself. Good luck and God bless! - NewbieLane

James Wesley;
I thought that your readers might like to know that Amazon has the Kindle reader edition of the "Pocket Outdoor Survival Guide" by J. Wayne Fears for just .99 cents. Regards, - Chris L.

Dear Jim-
I read with high interest the article about Tetanus from Dr. Bob. I found his information to be very important and helpful. I have just one point to include in the care of the neonate upon delivery and that is the essential practice of cutting the umbilical cord with a tool that is as clean as possible; sterile, if at all possible.  The tool doesn’t have to be a surgical instrument per se, just a clean, clean, clean piece of equipment be it a pair of scissors or a razor blade, etc.

We buried many a newborn child due to Tetanus on the New Guinea mission fields in the 1980s because babies born at home had umbilical cords cut with sharp rocks, pieces of glass, or knives used for carving meat.You get the picture. [Sanitary cutting instruments are] such a simple fix to a big potential problem.   Thank you for your consideration. - Elizabeth, RN  

Hi Jim,
There's a great local cowboy church called Gold Hill Church, near Deary, Idaho. It is not only prepper friendly, but even "dog friendly". Another prepper-friendly church is the Community Church in Southwick, Idaho.

Also, I noted that one of the churches you listed in Bonner's Ferry appears to be a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) church. As I grew up in that church and greatly admire much of the values of the SDA subculture, it always concerns me when an SDA[-affiliated] church does not let people know that they are really an SDA church. The books they list for sale are official books of the SDA church and are only distributed by the SDA church. I was on SDA Conference and Union Committees and know these books very well. Some SDA doctrine is not based solely on scripture, but is based on the complications from other sources by Ellen G. White, [who is] believed by many conservative SDA members to have been a prophet.

Great cover art for "Survivors". I have put "Download the new Rawles novel" on my eCalendar for October 4th.

[Some deleted, for brevity, and OPSEC]. Regards, - L.S.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
Some churches in the American Redoubt region which fit the criteria, and are not listed on your blog site, are:

All of the foregoing listed Churches are members of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC). CREC are Reformed in doctrine, but allow individual churches to decide where they stand on issues on which Calvinists differ (such as infant baptism, infant communion, etc.). The various confessions to which CREC members hold are as follows:

  • Westminster Confession of Faith
  • American Westminster Confession of Faith
  • The Three Forms of Unity:
    • Belgic Confession
    • Heidelberg Catechism
    • Canons of Dort
  • The London Baptist Confession
  • The Savoy Declaration
  • The Reformed Evangelical Confession

May Yahweh bless you and your family. Shalom, - K.E.


Mr. Rawles,
The Tridentine Latin Mass (aka: Extraordinary Form) tends to gather Catholics with a strong emphasis on tradition and values. Expect to find homeschooling, strong family values, Bibles, free-markets, hard work, subsidiarity and a distaste of moral-relativism among these people; these values would be called "prepper" values anywhere else. See for locations and times. The Fisheaters web site discusses this topic in more depth.

Deo gratias, - A libertarian Catholic

JWR Replies: While I'll never see eye-to-eye doctrinally with some key tenets of Roman Catholicism, I have several prepper friends who are Catholics, and I have no doubts about the sincerity of their faith in Christ, nor any doubt about their salvation. And BTW, not surprisingly, most of these friends attend Latin Mass churches..

SurvivalBlog readers might also be interested to learn that in the second sequel to "Patriots" (which I've nearly finished writing and that will be released in about 14 months) focuses on the epic cross-country journey of Ken and Terry Layton. Like some of my real-life friends, these fictional characters attend a Tridentine Latin Mass Church. Also, in my upcoming novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse" (the first sequel to "Patriots", that will be released in October) Ian and Blanca Doyle are two key characters that are also Catholics.

Our friend Bill Buppert (of ZeroGov) has some sage advice on field maintenance of AR-15s, M4geries, and AR-10s.

   o o o

Captain ABM spotted this: Do-It-Yourself Battlefield Medicine Saves Lives

   o o o

F.J. mentioned a piece over at the Tiny House blog: Idaho Sheep Wagons. BTW, in SurvivalBlog, I've previously mentioned a modernized incarnation of these wagons, from another maker: Expedition Range Camps. (Complete with photovoltaics!)

   o o o

F.G. sent us some odd news from the Mickey Mouse State: Nanny State Madness: California's Proposed 'Fitted Sheet' Law

   o o o

A reader mentioned a less than favorable review of the IsatPhone Pro in a yachting publication. But reader P.N. notes: "I think the reviewer had a defective phone (mine's never just shut off) and may not have understood the need to aim the antenna more carefully in fringe areas. I don't think most of his review is at all relevant to land-based emergency communication, though, except to whatever extent a person might worry about the reliability of the handset based on a single report of failures."

"Legitimate use of violence can only be that which is required in self-defense." - Congressman Dr. Ron Paul

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Please don't order any copies of my upcoming novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse" until its release day, October 4th, 2011.

Survivors Cover

The cover art was masterfully rendered by mixed media artist Tony Mauro, Jr. of New York. He took my vague one-minute verbal concept description, and he nailed it. I am very happy with his design and his choice of color palette. It really captures the essence of the novel. (The lead character, Andy Laine, is depicted on horseback in Texas, in the midst of The Crunch. You'll see how closely Tony matched the storyline when you read the novel. Much of the novel is set in the Four Corners Region. I don't want to reveal any spoilers, so I'll keep this brief.)

"Survivors" is unusual for a novel sequel. Instead of extending the story further into the future, it is contemporaneous with the action in my first novel, "Patriots". But it is set in different locales, with mostly different characters. There are just a few crossover characters, such as Ian and Blanca Doyle (whom you will remember from "Patriots" as the husband and wife Laron Light Experimental airplane owners living near Luke Air Force Base.)

The novel is being published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. It will first be released in hardback, followed in 2012 by a trade paperback. (The latter is the same binding format used with "Patriots".)

I should mention that the Kindle e-book and the audio book (via Amazon and are scheduled for the same release day. And I'm pleased to report that the award-winning Dick Hill is again doing the narration.

Again, please wait until October 4th to order your copy. By concentrating all of the orders on the release day (the "Book Bomb Day"), I hope to help propel the book into Amazon's Top 20. Thanks!

Based on some suggestions from SurvivalBlog readers, the following are several new entries to supplement the list of prepper-friendly churches in the American Redoubt that I already posted. (I've just updated the original list.)

Parenthetically, I'm often asked why I place an emphasis on Reformed churches. First and foremost, I believe this is a doctrinally-correct stance. (Your mileage may vary, but the Five Point Calvinist view matches my interpretation of the Bible.) Secondarily, those who hold to a mid-tribulation or post-tribulation eschatological view (as many people in Reformed circles do) tend to be more prone to prepping than those who hold to pre-tribulation rapture eschatology. After all, if someone hopes to be "beamed up" before any End Times wrath occurs, then why should they prepare to provide for their families?

Note: I intentionally used Wikipedia (a secular source) for links to foregoing descriptions of the various eschatological camps. This might seem an odd choice, but I did so because I don't want to show an absolutist preference for any particular denomination or view. Eschatology is a sticky subject even within various Christian denominations, and I can assure you that it leads to some lively debate!

Here are the latest additions the American Redoubt recommended church list:


New Geneva Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Idaho Falls

United Reformed Church of Nampa, Nampa

Bonners Remnant Church, Bonners Ferry (a Saturday Sabbath congregational church)


Grace Bible Church, Bozeman

Old Paths Strict Baptist Church, Choteau

Three Lakes Community Bible Church, Troy

Yaak Community Church, Yaak

Eastern Oregon

Living Water, La Pine

Berean Baptist Temple, Pendleton

Eastern Washington

Covenant Of Grace Protestant Reformed, Spokane


Providence Reformed Church, Rock Springs

Note: There are of course many other good churches, synagogues, and Messianic congregations in the Redoubt States that I haven't yet listed. You can find many of them with just a bit of time visiting denominational web sites and with search engines. Feel free to e-mail me your suggested additions to the list.

The NGO Security Page Safety & Security Resources for Humanitarian Organizations page is a great site with lots of free NGO Security Manuals in PDF. These may be relevant to both Aid Workers overseas and civilians without military experience. The International Committee for the Red Cross Manual Staying alive: safety and security guidelines for humanitarian volunteers in conflict areas is particularly good at explaining the effects of military weapons to laymen who's ideas about their effects come from watching too many B movies.

In my experience what gets foreigners in trouble overseas is cultural arrogance and doing reckless things they would not do in their own country. People will kill you in some countries for verbal abuse that a Westerner would treat as banter in the pub. Life is cheap overseas. Once I had to clean up after a French woman who refused to pay 50 cents extra for a motorbike taxi.

Do some cultural research before you go to another country so you don't offend people by accident. In South East Asia where I work being exceedingly polite to old people and monks goes a long way to making me well liked. Ask yourself if the country goes unstable do you want to be obnoxious foreigner or the foreigner who we invited to our daughter's wedding.

The other thing is to paraphrase something that Gabe Suarez says "Don't do stupid things, in stupid places with stupid people at stupid times of night." So many problems could be solved if people would just use some common sense and read the travel advisories, and travel books published by Fodor's or Lonely Planet. It is politically incorrect to say it but Western Women need to adapt to the fact that it is a Man's world outside of the developed countries. Dressing provocatively will get you in trouble.

Regards, - P.J.H.

Corey from the excellent new Survival Logic blog wrote me to mention that for a limited time Amazon is offering David Black's primer Living off the Grid free of charge. (It is normally $10.28.) Corey notes: "If you don't already have the Kindle software on your computer, it'll prompt you to download a free copy and install to your PC. If you already have a Kindle reader, then it is even easier."

   o o o

Yet another documentary jumps on the bandwagon: Livin' for the Apocalypse. Judging by the title that they chose, I suspect that they might have in subtle ways attempted to make the subjects look like loonies. (A hat tip to Steve H. for the link.)

   o o o

Here is a bit of confirmation that the 47 states with budget problems would find some creative solution to raising revenue: More states considering pay-by-the-mile car taxes.

   o o o

Ron Paul remains media poison. (He was within 1% of besting Bachman's votes in Iowa, yet the mainstream media refuses to call him a "top tier" candidate.)

   o o o

Silicon Valley billionaire funding creation of artificial libertarian islands. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

"Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are." - Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To support the blog's bandwidth costs and other expenses, we have launched a new, greatly expanded SurvivalBlog Amazon Store. I did my best to select gear that is made in the United States and Canada. Here how it works: If you click on one of our Amazon links and then "click through" to order ANY product from (not just the ones listed in our catalog), then we will earn a modest sales commission. Please shop with our our paid advertisers first. (See the ads in the right hand bar of the main blog page.) But if they don't have what you are looking for, then you can shop via our Amazon store, and help support SurvivalBlog. Please keep our store links in mind for all of your purchases. Remember that you need to click on one of our SurvivalBlog Amazon Store links first, for SurvivalBlog to get the commission. Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

There’s another Bug Out Bag (BOB) in the prepper family that you need to meet. It’s the Bug Out Bank, something that should be an addition to everyone’s G.O.O.D. plan. With the chaos going on in the financial world, and the uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand, the importance of this element of your plan can’t be overlooked.

We all realize there’s a bad moon rising. Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. It’s worse that it appears from up close. The official, underreported unemployment rate is hovering around 10%. The debt ceiling “fix” was done with masking tape and rusted wire. And the results? Significant stock market plunges. Gold at record highs. Silver climbing like a cat up a tree with a pit bull behind it.

Gas is a dollar higher than just one year ago. Food costs are steadily climbing. International markets? Mayhem and manipulation. Domestic trends? Downgrades and credit crushes. Yikes.

How about your paycheck? If it’s like mine it not only hasn’t increased, it has been cut. No matter what the gnomes say, this is inflation and if you want to extrapolate the possible future, start thinking about what happens when you put the “h” word in front of it. Hyperinflation isn’t just for Banana Republics anymore.

So how can you protect yourself against the worsening storms? If you’ve taken the precaution of creating a Bug Out Bank, you’ll find yourself in a far stronger position than most, for both the short haul and the longer term.

I’ve created a small kit, roughly the size of a shaving bag, that contains items that I believe will allow me to put some space between my family and the worst of the chaos. With it I believe I can weather at least two weeks, buying me enough time to get to a safer haven or tightening up my bug-in location. Other elements of the bank should allow me to exist from that point forward with a decent financial foundation.

First, I’ve included duplicates of my credit card and bank debit / ATM card in case the electronic systems are still operational. I don’t have a lot of faith in that, but using a piece of plastic isn’t going to draw any attention and will save me from digging into my other reserves. Know where the ATMs are in your vicinity - at home, at work and along the path of any planned escape route. Look for ones that are out of the way. People will flock to the financial institutions in the case of a bank run, quickly emptying the machines, but may overlook the ATM in the local corner store or restaurant. Search them out and make a map. Withdraw your limit and make sure you do it as inconspicuously as possible.

Next, stock up on whatever you need by using your credit card. Be careful not to overspend and put yourself in debt! I know many won’t worry about that in a SHTF situation, but it’s still a good idea to be mindful of a false alarm or the eventuality of having to pay the bill. I also suggest smaller purchases to avoid being targeted as a “have” and followed by a spiteful “have not”. Besides, your stockpiles should already be well in place at this point. This is strictly for last minute purchases such as filling your gas tank or replenishing items you meant to buy but haven’t “gotten around to” yet.

Act quickly. Once the electronic banking systems go down, your plastic will be worthless. Second in my line of financial defense is enough cash to get me through the days when federal reserve notes are still being accepted as currency. People are creatures of habit. Even if things are looking extremely grim, it’s going to be hard for the average consumer-driven sheep to pass up a handful of cash. For that reason, in my Bug Out Bank I have a total of $1,250 in the following denominations:

$600 in hundred-dollar bills. I realize that it’s not likely I’ll get change for them, but the power of a $100 bill will remain a big allure to many. They should work to acquire large items or make necessary payoffs.

$450 in ten-dollar bills. This is what I consider the ideal denomination for average purchases.

$200 in one-dollar bills. I got these new and flat from bank to save space - you’ll never get circulated bills to lie flat and orderly. Perfect for paying in conjunction with the $10s or for smaller items where change cannot be made.

$20 in quarters. Useful for pay phones if cell phone service is unavailable or bus / train fare if you’re in a city. Failing those needs, Charles Bronson once devised another good use for them.

Now on to the meat of my Bug Out Bank: silver. Realizing that it calls for a bit of optimism that my first two stages (plastic and paper) will be functional for very long, I’ve prepared accordingly. As the mainstream media reports more and more about the value of gold and silver, and the fact that the general public is becoming more aware of the inherent precious metal value in pre-1965 US silver coins, I’ve converted a portion of my savings into them with the specific goal of using them as currency. In fact, I’m betting many readers here have done the same. Some stores, like this one, are already accepting them.

I have accumulated 550 silver dimes and 34 silver quarters. As of this writing they’re worth $2.80 and $7.00 each, respectively, for a total of about $1,780. I figure that will get me food, water, fuel or whatever else people have and are willing to barter for. The only downside is their weight. It’s not much, just under 4 pounds, but it is added weight just the same. It’s a trade off I’m more than willing to make, however. “Worth its weight in silver” comes to mind.

Be sure to store them in such a way that you don’t jingle like Scrooge McDuck as you walk around. I use coin rolls. The main reason is so I can take out just one roll at a time if I need to use a coin and not display a sack of treasure that alerts people to how much I really have. To avoid tell-tale clinking, paper bank rolls work nicely since I’m able to roll down the paper on unfilled rolls. I’ve also experimented with using plastic tubes and putting cotton in to fill any gaps. Cotton balls have other uses, so this is a good alternative.

That covers cash and cash equivalents. I know that’s a lot for most people. It is for me as well. I made a lot of sacrifices to get to these levels. Clearly not everyone has the same financial realities. But the plan can be scaled down to fit any budget. Grow the numbers as you’re able.

I also keep copies of my important documents in the Bug Out Bank. These serve to establish my identity and preserve the important information I will need during and after a G.O.O.D. scenario. I’m going under the assumption that I won’t have my wallet, and have therefore ensured that I have placed everything I need in the bag. These are color photocopied front and back and include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card (ironic, I know)
  • CCW identification card
  • Insurance cards

I keep originals of:

  • Credit cards and bank / ATM cards, as mentioned earlier
  • My passport and my family members' U.S. passports

I also keep a USB/flash drive with scanned images of all of the above plus photo documentation of my home and automobiles with license plates showing. I have scanned copies of my will, house deed, car titles, insurance paperwork, health records and other important documents. I have photographs of my valuable possessions with serial numbers shown on a sheet of paper next to the item, where desired. Clearly, this information needs to be securely encrypted, something that has been covered on this web site before by people far more experienced than I.

I want to touch on some unique elements of my Bug Out Bank. These are items that currently can be bought for a few cents each in most cases. However, in the case of a long-term societal collapse, they’ll be difficult or impossible to create from scratch and will prove valuable as barter items. I’ve intentionally limited myself to these items due to their compact and lightweight nature. I have filled an Altoids tin or small pill bottle with each of the following:

  • Safety pins
  • Small and medium sized fish hooks
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Anti-diarrheal pills

At this point it started to become tempting to trespass onto Bug Out Bag turf, so I resisted the urge and focused on what I was willing to carry that is most likely to be both barterable and in demand.

Realizing that possessing that much cash and silver carries a risk, I’ve also hired a sleeper security guard in the form of a lightweight, compact .38 special revolver. There’s no need for the gun/caliber debate here. This is strictly a "backup to my backup" gun and something that always stays in the bag. As always, be certain you follow your local laws regarding concealed carry and use of firearms. Concealment of the bag is also a priority, the method of which differs with each reader’s situation. Use your head – there’s obviously a lot at risk.

It took a lot of time, work and determination to get all the assets together for my Bug Out Bank, a constant evolution until I was able to reach my goal. I hope it can serve as an inspiration and template for yours. When you’re grabbing your pack, don’t forget this BOB. He can mean a huge difference in your ability to provide for yourself and your family.

You might noticed that on Monday (August 15, 2011), the spot price of gold was fairly flat, but that spot silver was up substantially.

Just as I predicted last week, it appears that Mr. Market has belatedly realized that silver needs to catch up to the recent advance in gold prices. To get back to a 40-to-1 ratio, silver would have to advance to $43.41 per ounce.

In the long run, a ratio of 20-to-1 or perhaps even 16-to-1 is realistic. So again, if you have enough secure storage space, then buy silver rather than gold.

If you want to ratio trade out of gold into silver, I recommend that you do so soon.

And in related news, did you notice that spot platinum has jumped to $1,796 per ounce? Last week, I had mentioned that gold jumped up to within $2 of the price of platinum. But that didn't last. It doesn't take long for disparities to get worked out in a free market, or even in a quasi-free market.

I have been a regular reader of SurvivalBlog and am very grateful for your efforts in maintaining such a great resource for those of use concerned with survival-related topics.  I would like to make mention of a recently-published book that is one of the best I have read in this field: Everything That Follows Is Based on Recent, Real-Life Experience That Has Been Proven to Work: Professional Survival Solutions, by James Shepherd-Barron 

Here is a description: "James Shepherd-Barron has worked in more than 26 countries, including the conflict zones of Iraq, Kosovo, Croatia, Central Bosnia, Burundi, and Rwanda. Once a helicopter pilot for the British army, he now runs a humanitarian affairs consultancy, working with the Red Cross, World Health Organization, UNICEF, and other clients. When not "on mission," he advises and trains senior UN operational staff." 

It would be very appropriate to make reference to this book in relation to the recent Prepping for Missionaries post since Shepherd-Baron's expertise is in training aid workers and missionaries to manage the challenges of living and working in crisis situations that are about as close as anyone can get to experiencing an actual WTSHTF scenario.  What's unique about the book, compared to the dozens of survival books out there, is that Shepherd-Baron's advice is based on what he, and thousands of other foreign aid workers and missionaries, have directly found to be effective in actual civil wars, disaster zones, and communities living through long-term crisis and conflict.  The title of the book is, perhaps, too long and difficult to remember.  But book itself has the advantage of being in a very compact, neutral paperback format without conspicuous words like "survival" in a large font on the cover: most survival books have covers that call attention to the reader when consulting the book in public places.  I have not personally been on a mission in a conflict or disaster area but I provided logistical and administrative support for aid and development projects managed by a major university and funded by USAID.  Shepherd-Barron's book should be essential reading for everyone considering missionary work and for anyone concerned with the realities of surviving WTSHTF. 

Pat says, "FedGov regulations mandate that you have to have at least a 16" barrel on a rifle, with an overall length of 26" - if your rifle is any shorter, then there's lots of red tape and have a $200 tax for a Short Barrel Rifle (SBR), and I just don't care to give the FedGov any more reason to come knocking on my door. "

He then offers up a review of the lever-action $536 Rossi Ranch Hand Pistol, which has a 12" barrel, 24" length.

I would suggest Pat review the following pistol:

Romanian AK-47 Draco Pistol 7.62x39mm. They sell for around $350.

It is a semi-auto pistol in AK-47 that takes 30-round magazines and can also take a 90-round drum magazine. It has a 12.25" barrel and has 21" length. It weighs 5.5 pounds.

Just as the Rossi does not require any Fed red tape nor $200 SBT transfer tax, neither does the Draco.

Best Regards, - Dave C.

C.D., suggested this great chart on food cravings: What You Want vs. What You Need. Most of these conditions could be prevented with a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement tablet (or powder), plus a bit of extra Magnesium, and plenty of water.

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You've got to have some place for your tangible investments: Booming business of fear: Sales of safes soar. OBTW, be sure to bolt down your safe securely, and conceal it well! Nothing beats a vault that is hidden behind a false wall. (Thanks to Eric S. for the link.)

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John R. pointed me to this frightening article: The Pentagon's Fake Jihadists.

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On the front line of the riots with the police A police officer, whose anonymous blog has captivated thousands, tells of his shock, exhaustion and terror after confronting the mob. Here is an interesting companion piece: Britain’s in crisis: the real causes of chaos on streets.

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Tam over at the View From The Porch blog recently had a link to a story that will probably put a lump in your throat: Actions that make heroes: Medford man returns rare handgun to Medal of Honor winner.

"Retreat, regroup, return, revenge." - Noah Wyle as Professor Tom Mason in the pilot episode of the science fiction television series "Falling Skies" (Screenplay by Robert Rodat.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Great news! We've tooled up with a new vendor to produce the SurvivalBlog 2005-2010 Archive CD-ROM. Now, unlike with, you don't need to sign up for a membership. The new vendor (Kunaki) also accepts payments both via credit cards and PayPal. And the price is lower too! (Just $11, plus $4.30 postage, to most U.S. and European addresses.)

On August 12th the newspaper headlines had some exceptionally bad news: Four European Nations to Curtail Short-Selling. This is an ill-advised panic move, following some massive losses on the European stock markets. (The French CAC 40 index is down 18.2 percent thusfar in August. Meanwhile, the DAX was down 15% in just a week.) Banning short selling does not bode well for the free market, nor for any meaningful stock pricing numbers that we can rely on.

As the nascent global credit crisis deepens, we can expect more monkeying with the markets, on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, the already highly-manipulated COMEX precious metals market will probably become less free, and less transparent. I predict that if the spot price of gold gets above $1,900 per ounce, the COMEX regulators will raise margin requirements to absurd levels--just like they did with Silver Rule 7 to stop the Hunt Brothers in 1980.

At the risk of sounding like someone from the Tinfoil Hat crowd, there are also persistent rumors of the Federal Reserve buying up stock shares. This has been attributed to the President's Working Group on Financial Markets (commonly called the Plunge Protection Team.) The Fed is also very quiet about what it calls Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO). And of course the same net effect has been accomplished indirectly on a grand scale through massive infusions of credit, via the Quantitative Easing monetization mechanism. (This is where money is created ex nihilo as the government buys its own debt.)

Another threat to free markets and investor freedom of choice is a legislated nationalization of our IRA and 401(k) accounts. The estimated $14 trillion in those accounts are the choice fruit that some in government have been eyeing for many years. If enacted, a nationalization scheme will likely "invest" in a mix of government-managed stock purchases to make Wall Street happy, and "annuities" (Read: worthless Treasury paper), to make Tim Geithner happy. They'll no doubt claim that they're doing so "for our safety." Thankfully, this hasn't progressed beyond a lot of Think Tank talk, yet.

Never underestimate the ability of politicians to manufacture a crisis to fulfill their goals.

I grew-up during the Golden Years of television - the 1950s and early 1960s. Many television programs produced during that time were westerns: The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Bonanza, Wanted: Dead Or Alive, Wagon Train, Johnny Yuma, Gunsmoke, and many, many others. One of my favorite westerns was Wanted: Dead Or Alive starring the late Steve McQueen, who played a bounty hunter - going after bad guys for a reward. And, more often than not, Steve McQueen's character "Josh Randall" was always side-tracked doing good deeds for folks. What made this program so interesting was the gun that "Josh Randall" carried: A cut down Winchester Model 92 in .44-40 caliber, that had a barrel length of about 10-12 inches, with a large lever loop for operating the action. Funny thing was, "Josh Randall" carried 45-70 rounds on his pistol belt. Go figure.

I think every kid (and adult) wanted a cut-down rifle like the one "Josh Randall" carried - I remember having a toy gun that looked like this gun, as well as a holster to go with it. I grew-up, and I've always wanted a similar gun, but I didn't care to jump through the FedGov red tape to have a cut-down rifle. FedGov regulations mandate that you have to have at least a 16" barrel on a rifle, with an overall length of 26" - if your rifle is any shorter, then there's lots of red tape and have a $200 tax for a Short Barrel Rifle (SBR), and I just don't care to give the FedGov any more reason to come knocking on my door.

Enter Rossi USA and their Ranch Hand - which is technically a "handgun" by their definition. Rossi didn't start out with one of their lever-action rifles and cut it down. Instead, the gun was designed and designated as a "handgun" from the start. The Ranch Hand has a 12" barrel with an overall length of 24" with it's abbreviated "stock." There's the ever-popular large lever loop, just like the one on Wanted: Dead Or Alive, too.

I waited over a year to get my sample Ranch Hand, and I had requested one in .44 Magnum (they come in .45 Colt and .38 Special/.357 Mag) too. However, the only sample available was in .38 Special/.357 Magnum, so I snapped it up. What we have is a rather large "handgun" that weighs in at 4 pounds, that is different than most other handguns on the market. Puma came out with a similar gun a few years ago, however, they were selling for about $1,200 retail - the Rossi Ranch Hand retails for $536 - less than half the price of the Puma version.

With a gold bead front sight and an adjustable leaf rear sight, the Ranch Hand affords a very sharp sight picture. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation, using the rear sight elevator for making elevation adjustments, and for windage adjustments. (You have to tap the rear sight left or right in the base until you get the desired point of aim/point of impact. The Ranch Hand holds 6 rounds in the tubular magazine, plus one in the chamber, giving you 7 rounds available. There is also a saddle ring - but it's for looks - I don't see it being used unless you are mounted on a horse, and even then....? The Ranch Hand is nice and evenly finished in a beautiful blue finish, too.

The front foreend and stubby rear "stock" are made out of hardwood of some type, and nicely fitted and finished, too. I suppose, in a pinch, you could use the "stock" and mount it to your shoulder, but it's not very comfortable - I tried it!  There is also a steel butt plate on the "stock" as well. Trigger pull was really nice at about 5-lbs, and it was very crisp, too. There is a manual safety on the top of the receiver, too - right where the hammer rests. The lever-action was very smooth and sure, something that can't always be said about some lever-action rifles.

The overly large lever - well, I tried to "twirl" it (unloaded gun, of course) - like "Josh Randall" did on the television show, but the Ranch Hand locks-up tightly and wouldn't allow any twirling. Perhaps over time, when the lever action loosens-up a bit, it might work. However, this only attests to the tightness and how well the gun is fitted - not a bad thing at all.

I had a variety of .357 Magnum ammo on-hand from Buffalo Bore Ammo from 125-gr JHP all the way up to their 180-gr "Heavy" hard cast lead load. I started out with the Buffalo Bore 180-gr LFN round, and this baby lets you know that you have some serious power in your hands. Remember, most .357 Magnum loads are designed for revolvers or traditional handguns - the Ranch Hand has a 12" barrel, so you are gaining quite a bit of velocity. Buffalo Bore's owner, Tim Sundles, tells me that, in a lever-action .357 Magnum rifle, that this load is equal to a 150-gr .30-30 round - I believe him - it really "kicked" in the Ranch Hand. Only problem I had was, this load, being heavier than most other .357 Magnum loads was hitting about 3" high at 25-yards. I moved the rear sight elevator down to its lowest position and it brought the point of impact down another inch. I then removed the rear sight elevator completely, and I was about an inch high at 25-yards with this load.

I tried the Buffalo Bore 158-gr JHC .357 Magnum load, in the Ranch Hand, with the rear sight elevator back in place, and at its lowest position - once again, the gun was shooting a bit high at 25-yards - about 2" high. I removed the rear sight elevator and the Ranch Hand was hitting just slightly above the point of aim - not too shabby. I tried the Buffalo Bore 125-gr JHC round, with the rear sight elevator back in place, once again set at its lowest position, and this round was impacting dead on. So, it appears that the Ranch Hand is set-up, at least my sample was, for 125-gr .357 loads to high point of aim, point of impact at 25-yards, this isn't a bad thing. I also tried the Buffalo Bore Tactical Short Barrel Low Recoil, Low Flash .357 Magnum load, and this round also high right-on at 25-yards. BTW, this load doesn't have a lot of recoil, and it was designed for snub-nosed .357 Magnum revolvers.

I should mention that, at the start of my shooting, the gun was hitting to the left a couple of inches. It took a little "whack" with a plastic hammer to move the rear sight to the right, and get the point of impact right on - piece of cake! I had no malfunctions of any type during my testing, and I fired the Rossi Ranch Hand over a dozen different times, and occasions over several weeks. To be honest, this gun is just plain fun to shoot! At the end of my testing, I found half a box of Remington UMC 125 grain JHP .357 Magnum in my ammo stash. So, I tested it as well, and the Ranch Hand didn't like this ammo at all for some reason - it was all over the target - any place from dead center hits, to hits on the far side of the target - right and left - to off the top of the target. Go figure? I know most guns shoot certain types, brands and weight of ammo better than other brands. But I was really shocked at how the Remington UMC load wouldn't group well at all. So make sure you test various types of ammo in your guns, to make sure your gun likes a particular brand. In this case, the Rossi Ranch Hand simply performed poorly with the Remington UMC load.

Now, while the Ranch Hand was a lot of fun to shoot, I started wondering about the practical application for such a gun. I don't see myself carrying it concealed, but I do see myself getting a leg holster, like the one "Josh Randall" used to carry his sawed-off Winchester Model 92 in - just for nostalgic purposes. So, I had to scratch my head, and wonder what purpose the Ranch Hand would serve. Well, it didn't take me long to realize that, this gun would make a perfect gun to stash in my emergency box in the back of my car, along with a couple boxes of ammo, and my other emergency supplies. I also see the Ranch Hand being carried in a BOB, and this is where it would really shine. There might be times when you need a handgun, and other times, when you might need to really reach out there and "touch" someone - and with the Ranch Hand's 12" barrel, you can really reach out there - and hit your target.

So, putting nostalgia aside, and the absolute fun factor of the Rossi Ranch Hand, the gun does serve a couple very practical functions. I would be comforted, knowing that, if my rig broke down out in the boonies or in the mountains, that I'd have the Ranch Hand in my emergency box, and it could take care of all but the biggest game and any two-legged threats. I wouldn't hesitate using the .357 Magnum Buffalo Bore 180-gr Heavy load against the black bears in Oregon - it would get the job down in short order. And, with some of the lighter .357 Magnum loads, or even .38 Special loads, it'll take care of most two-footed threats you might encounter as well. Personally, I'd stoke the Ranch Hand with .357 Magnum loads and never look back at the .38 Special load.

My only problem now is, coming up with the bucks to purchase my sample Ranch Hand - but I'll figure it out for a couple reasons. Number one is, the nostalgia associated with Wanted: Dead Or Alive and number two is the pure fun factor of shooting the gun - did I mention it was fun to shoot? Lastly, is the survival/practical application of having this gun in the e-box of my car - it would be very reassuring to know I'd have this gun and some hot-stepping .357 Magnum loads on tap in an emergency situation. Looking back, I'm glad that I was sent the Ranch Hand in .357 Magnum instead of .44 Magnum. This is because .38 Special and .357 Magnum ammo is a lot less expensive to shoot, and in my opinion, the .357 Magnum will take care of "business" for me.

- SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

JWR Adds: The pragmatist in me says: Rather than buy a four-pound abbreviated lever action for one's bug out bag, why not just buy a Dan Wesson Model 715 revolver, with both a 2-1/2" barrel and a 10" barrel? That way you could have the best of both worlds. (Concealability with the short barrel, and in some circumstances, long sight radius for long range shooting.) The revolver, complete with two barrels, a barrel wrench and a feeler gauge would weigh less than four pounds. With practice, barrel changes can be done in less than 90 seconds.

Nearly everyone has heard of the famous "lockjaw", but not everyone knows that the cause is tetanus infection.  Even fewer people have actually seen a case of tetanus, even in the medical circles it is a rare event in the U.S.  There are only 233 cases reported from 2001 to 2008--or 1/10,000,000.  Deaths are even more rare here in the States, and of those 233, 31 were fatalities.  Most deaths were people over 65, presumed to be less than optimally immunized.  

There has only been one reported infant case in the U.S. in that time period, and that was with a mom that was not immunized.  You may be getting the message here, but let me spell it out for you:  GET YOUR TETANUS SHOT!  All arguments against a tetanus vaccination are just noise. Keep it up to date and keep it current.  You need a shot every 10 years, and once it gets beyond six years if you a nervous prepper you should probably get it updated. So, let's get into the details and weird, fun stuff about tetanus.  Tetanus infection is caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria, which lives in spore form in soil, dust, and animal feces.  The spores sit dormant in our environment waiting and hoping with their little spore minds for a dirty wound to get into.  They then transform (robot transformer noise inserted here) into the bacterium and start to grow.  The incubation period for tetanus spores can be from a single day to months later.  As they grow, they make this nasty tetanus toxin called tetanospasmin which messes with your motor neurons which control your muscles.  It is released when the bacterium are actually killed by time or your own immune system.  They actually get you when you kill them, how cool is that?  Very.  Anyway, the toxin then affects your nervous system and causes muscle spasms that look like this: , sweats, fever, rapid heart beat, high blood pressure, trouble swallowing and breathing due to the spasms it causes.  The most common and famous symptom is of course the painful spasm of your masseter muscles in your jaw, sometimes strong enough to bust your molars in half!  Ouch.

The good news is that tetanus will not grow in healthy tissue, it needs wounds, skin infections, dead tissue, or foreign bodies to invade.  Most often the types of things people get that can allow a tetanus infection to start are splinters, gun shot wounds, puncture wounds, crush injuries, open fractures, burns, animal bites, non-sterile injections, umbilical stump infections (infants), dental infections and even ear infections.  90% of tetanus infections can easily be traced to a wound or infection source, but 10% or so are more devious and are likely to start with a simple scratch or small crack in the skin.  Most tetanus infections tend to strike the elderly, diabetics, or IV drug addicts. WTSHTF one of these will be missing very quickly due to getting shot a lot or being cured by lack of supply. Diabetics will have an obvious change to their diets and lifestyles, and will need to be vigilant against wound infections.  Elderly folks can prevent being victims of tetanus by keeping their vaccinations up to date.

There are four types of tetanus infection to review.  The first is neonatal tetanus infection.  Babies don't like dirt, at least at first.  They should be delivered in as clean an environment as possible and special care needs to be taken of their little umbilical stumps after the cord is cut.  Basically, an umbilical stump is an open wound, and it should be treated as such.  Non-immunized moms have given their babies risk of tetanus infections.  Don't be one of those moms.  There are certain cultures that also do stupid things to the umbilical stump which increases the risk of tetanus infection.  Don't rub weird stuff on an umbilical stump!  Your weird cultural practices of rubbing ghee, oil, juice, or whatever on the kids new shriveling cord needs to stop.  End of that story.  The bad thing is that babies tend to die more than adults from tetanus infection, usually from 10-60% of the neonatal infections are fatal.  Final messages about neonatal tetanus: Keep deliveries clean, umbilical stumps clean, and moms vaccinated.

Next types of tetanus infection are cephalic and local.  Usually caused by a head or neck wound, cephalic tetanus will usually progress to generalized tetanus like the local infection does.  Cephalic tetanus causes more of an immediate and local spasm due to the location of the wound.  The cranial nerves are usually affected; and besides the almost immediate lockjaw that occurs, there are lots of facial muscle spasms, neck muscle spasms, and swallowing troubles right off the bat with this type of tetanus.  Cephalic tetanus is really a local tetanus, which is the next type of tetanus to discuss.  Local tetanus, as already mentioned, usually progresses to the generalized type just like cephalic tetanus.  It can cause local symptoms of spasm at the site of the infection, and rarely the infection will stay localized to that area close to the wound.  Sometimes local tetanus will affect the abdominal muscles and confuse people.  It will not always be next to or close to the wound causing it, making it seem like the person may have appendicitis or another surgical problem in the abdomen instead of a tetanus infection.  This gets tricky to figure out, so for our discussion, let's keep it simple and categorize this type as near the wound causing it.  Both these types of tetanus can, and usually do, progress to the generalized type of tetanus infection.

Generalized tetanus gives the symptoms that we have already reviewed.  Half of people get lockjaw, but the stiff neck, spasms, risus sardonicus (sardonic smile, think of The Joker in Dark Knight), rigid abdomen, apnea (irregular breathing) due to spasm of neck or chest muscles, and trouble swallowing.  Usually symptoms will last 4-6 weeks from their onset, due to the ongoing effect of the toxins released even after the bacteria are dead.  Treatment of generalized tetanus is best done in an ICU with anesthesia and IV medications. (Not likely in TEOTWAWKI.) 

Antibiotics are recommended for the treatment of tetanus, and there are lots of antibiotics that are helpful in killing the bacteria.  The best is metronizadole, which is recommended as the first-line treatment.  After that, Penicillin, Cephalexin and other Cephalosporins, Doxycyline and other Tetracyclins, Azithromycin and other Erythromycins, Vancomycin, and Chloramphenacol are all effective against tetanus.  One that is not is sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), which is used in the treatment of MRSA and many wounds.  The best treatment choice available is having a treatment choice.  The wound also needs to be cleaned and dead tissue removed (debrided).  As you can start to recognize, tetanus treatment is a lot easier with vaccination to prevent the disease than it is after getting it.

So, in TEOTWAWKI, what do you really do with a person that is suspected to have a tetanus infection?  Well, with the fatality rate in adults ranging from 8-50%, prayer never hurts.  The interesting thing about tetanus symptoms:  they are triggered by loud noise, bright lights, and touch.  How spooky is that?  Placing a tetanus victim in a cool, dark, quiet place will help their symptoms and may help improve their survival.  While the fatality rate is high for non-immunized people and nearly zero for those immunized, even after our ten years runs out and there was no tetanus vaccine around, the immunity would continue to help survival and has shown to be a predictor in survival even after vaccination is older than ten years.  The other way to confirm the diagnosis is also pretty cool:  a spatula test.  Touch the back of their throat with a tongue depressor or Q-tip and usually you will trigger a gag reflex.  With a tetanus infection, touching the throat will cause the jaw to clamp down on the instrument and spasm.  So don't use your finger!  The test is only really necessary when trying to decide between a tetanus infection you suspect or a possible dental infection causing a tight jaw.  As already mentioned, usually the wound plus symptoms equals tetanus.

Besides antibiotics, medications like diazepam (Valium), Baclofen, and Magnesium can help with the spasms if you have it.  Most likely you will not, so it's back to the treating the person like and mushroom and then praying for them.  Don't go the way of blues musician Joe Hill Louis, Henry David Thoreau's brother, and Robert E. Lee's favorite horse Traveller--all dying of tetanus.  Keep up with your vaccinations and get your kids vaccinated too against tetanus.  Kids start at two months of age getting a Tdap shot, don't miss this chance to protect your child.

Stay strong and stay vaccinated against tetanus.

JWR Adds: Dr. Bob is is one of the few consulting physicians in the U.S. who dispenses antibiotics for disaster preparedness as part of his normal scope of practice. His web site is:

Several months ago a SurvivalBlog post recounted a man's survival while iced-in in a remote area. He credited a life-saving cache left by a local property-owner with saving his life. Included in the cache was a pair of qiviut socks. After reading the article, the socks continued to fascinate me -- as I am somewhat cold-blooded and even wear wool socks in summer. After much research, I decided to try a pair and searched the internet. I found one source, in Canada, that sells the socks (70% Qiviut, 20% Merino, 10% nylon) and ordered a pair. I've found the product to be good quality, and decided to buy another, but only if they could tailor to the changes I wanted. They were very responsive and customized the sock to my cuff and length desire (ankle, calf, etc).

The source is Spruce Haven Farm. At their web site, enter 'qiviut' in the search box. Again, if you don't like the style shown or are unsure of the size, use the 'contact us' tab to open communications. - Desert Dawn

I recently received a sample body armor carrier, AK magazine pouch, and an AK magazine, all made by U.S. PALM. To start, I must mention that all of their cataloged items are made in the USA. While the vast majority of their competitors have "gone cheap" and sourced most of their products overseas (primarily in mainland China), U.S. PALM's management made the commendable decision to produce all of their gear here in the United States. That puts them up several notches, in my book. A couple of detailed reviews will follow in the blog at a later date, but for now let me say that I'm very impressed with the quality of their workmanship. Disclaimer (per FTC File No. P034520): U.S. PALM is not a SurvivalBlog advertiser. They have not solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, nor will I receive any remuneration from their sales of their products. They did provide me with several sample items of their manufacture for evaluation, at my request.

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Wally B. mentioned this new segment from Russian television: Preparing for an apocalypse in America. Decent preps, and a great ham rig, but pitiful OPSEC. Why did they have to mention their family name or their city? Loose lips sink ships.

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If you are looking for a retreat property, or if you have one that you'd like to sell, then be sure to check out our spin-off web site, We now have 61 listings in 47 States in the U.S. and two other countries. One the latest listings is an upcoming auction for a 147 acre camp property, near El Dorado, Kansas. ads cost just $30 per month and no sales commissions are charged.

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Sergio sent me a link to map showing the percentage of Christians and all faiths in each state.

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K.A.F. sent this: 11 crazy alternative investments: Collectible guns. JWR's Comments: Only out-of-touch eastern urbanites consider guns a "crazy" investment. In fact, they are a proven inflation hedge. They are also one of the few investments (like Japanese swords) that can help you defend all of your other investments. I'm fairly confident that my Merwin & Hulberts (albeit not quite as nice as this one) will hold their value in the next couple of centuries much better than shares of Xing, Yahoo and Zynga. Granted, stocks on average have been great performers, but even a few "blue chip" stocks like AIG have gone bust. My knowledge of antique Colts, Winchesters, and Mausers gives me tremendous confidence that I'm buying a long-term winner. But corporate managements can change, so there is no certainty that a company that I invest in today will even exist in a hundred years. (How's that Pan Am stock doing for you, Mom?)

"The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of the consent of the people. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority." - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22, December 14, 1787

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Remember our Victory! We have not forgotten the sacrifices that were made in World War II. I hope that even the most recent generation can somehow relate to the fullness of the joy that was shared on August 14, 1945!


Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The position of the Missionary or Long-term foreign worker is a bit unique, and certainly cannot be assumed to be similar either to a non-American prepper in his native home or to short-term traveler overseas. Those who travel overseas in the short term, need only to make sure that they are back home before any kind of crash and they can implement all of their plans as normally as they would have had they been at work when things began to go wrong.

Those overseas for longer periods of time, stretching into years rather than days or weeks must plan differently. For the one thing they generally cannot simply leave because things look rough. For the missionary this is because bad times do not justify ignoring either the command of scripture or his personal mandate to the work he is doing. For other long-term workers the weight of their work may equally compel them to stay where they are whether that is a moral obligation to some form of aid work or financial dependency to a business or job. For these and other reasons, many who are overseas long term cannot simply scurry home and wait for years to see whether something bad is going to happen or not.  

A different more balanced approach is therefore necessary for those who find themselves in this situation. Let me begin by saying this calls for a great deal of careful thought and discernment. The decision to make for home or stay put when things do actually get very rough, while similar to that made my many in the United States whose retreats are some distance from their homes, must be made ahead of time. You will need to be able to act quickly regardless of what you plan to do in the event that a disaster strikes.  

Stay Put or Bug Out?   The decision to stay or go is very personal, and may involve reasons that are purely spiritual or emotional, a since of being called to stay or a desire to be with close family in hard times, nevertheless careful thought should be put into this decision. Firstly you should consider the nation you are living in as a whole. How viable would it be to stay in that country in the event of some sort of worldwide disaster, such as economic collapse or power grid failure? This is tricky as factors are involved which may not be readily apparent. The Philippines for example, was rated very poorly in terms of how it would handle the grid failure anticipated around Y2K. Having spent sometime living there I found this odd since the country, as a whole seemed to have little technological dependence. But upon further investigation, I found that the nation was dependent on imports not only economically but also for essentials like food. Some Latin-American nations on the other hand may be even better off than the United States in terms of food and water because the sources are kept much more locally even in large cities. Thus it is key to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of attempting to stay or go in the country you are located in.  

Your personal location should be considered as well. Do you live in a major city or way out in the middle of nowhere. If you live closer to the airport than to the place you might consider retreating to in country, then perhaps it would be safer to just fly home than to try getting out safely into the countryside. If on the other hand you live so far out in the sticks that you cannot easily get in and out of town (you must be flow out, you have to hike out but it takes several days, etc.) then you may be remote enough that getting out is neither practical nor necessary. While our natural instincts may gives us a strong desire to be home, we should be willing to consider that we may be in a better place overseas than we would be if we were back home. Consider how a mass exodus from the cities and the inability to get food or water except from local sources would affect the area you live in.  

Next to be considered are the people around you. Will you be able to put together a reasonably self-sufficient team of people in order to survive where you are, or will you be trying to survive on your own? Are the locals hostile to your presence even in the best of times, or do they have a strong value for live and appreciate and desire your presence in their community? Is your community already self reliant to some degree? Has your family been present long enough to know the local language and customs well enough to handle a large-scale crisis? If you will be unable to form a community that will fit in with that which is already there, or are not surrounded by anyone else interested in self sufficiency then going home may be in your best interest, especially if you have friends or family interested in prepping and helping you prep. If, however, you feel you are in a more self -sufficient and communal environment on the field, then you might think about staying put even if you might be tempted to "feel" differently.  

Once you have made up your mind on this all important decision it is time to put together a plan to act out whichever contingency you have chosen. I will address Bugging Out first, as this is likely the plan that will be most advocated by Mission and Non-government Organizations, Large Businesses, and Governments.  

Bugging Out
If you plan to bug out, there basically two things that must be arranged. The first is to ensure that you have a secure and reliable way to successfully get home to where you are going. The second is to have a retreat group and location already prepared in advance.   Setting up a safe route home is a two step process. The first step is to ensure you are able to make it back to your home country. The second is to make sure that you can reach your retreat once your flight lands. To be honest this process is good practice for any spending time overseas whether they are concerned about long-term crisis or not and is recommended by most organizations (mission or business) operating overseas. Here is a checklist of things you need to have done in order to Bug Out safely:              

* Have a signal and rally point, each member of your family needs to know where to be in the event of any kind of tumultuous event. I recommend that a signal and rally point be used for all crisis that may occur not just major ones that justify leaving the country.              
* Have passage booked and all legal documents (Passports, Birth certificates, etc.) current and easily accessible. Return fair is not difficult to maintain and can make the trip home much quicker than trying to book a flight after things are already bad.              
* Keep your bags packed. Each member of your family should have a large day pack pre packed with bear essentials gear and their most important items. Unlike preppers in the United States your window to get out will be much smaller, you will not have time to pack your bags or evaluate what needs to be taken with you after things get bad so do it now. These bags should be the largest carry on baggage acceptable. Even if the airlines are allowing checked baggage, you don't need to take the time to check yours. Your focus should be on getting on the plane and getting home.              
* Have a route to the airport (or other transportation hub) predetermined. You will want the safest and fastest route you can find. Try to find one that does not take your near areas you think may be volatile if there is social unrest and that will have less traffic in the event that everyone else is scrambling for their home as well.  

Before I continue to the second half of the journey, that which will begin upon your touching down, I feel I should make a brief note about computers. Many missionaries, foreign workers, and businessmen rely heavily on one or several computers. These often contain sensitive and priceless information that they cannot lose. In this situation I do not believe it is a good idea to waste space carrying even your laptop on the plane with you. Instead I believe that all of the computers your family (and office if applicable) uses should be packed up to a small, portable, external drive. In the event of a major crisis simply scrub or destroy all of your hard drives and slip this drive into your backpack. It is a good idea to keep a back up anyway.   The situation may change rapidly while you are flying (the most common form of travel these days) from overseas back home. Things may deteriorate rapidly, so that even just a few short hours make all the difference. This emphasizes why, as much as possible your bug out plan should include a group of close, like-minded friends. If your plan has been to come home all along then you should have been preparing with this group of people in the first place. Just like others who plan to bug out in country, a group retreat should be predetermined and you should preposition all of your gear there. This should be done easily by making trips out during your visits home, and by purchasing items online and having another member of your group carry them up for you.   

The best plan would be to work with members of your group, and have someone meet your family upon arrival. This will require constant communication as things grow worse as well as a layer of back up plans in case it should fail. First of all you need at least two radios. One should be a portable shortwave radio for you to monitor current conditions upon arrival, but before rendezvousing with your contact. Secondly you should have some form of handheld radio device with a preset channel for contacting your group. This should have as long a range as possible. In this way you will be able to locate your ride quickly, even in a crowd.  

A storage unit or even the home or apartment of a nearby friend will be helpful in all of this. Such a unit should be located within walking distance of your arrival point (the airport, etc.) as well as within the reach of your handheld radios. This will provide you a place to do several things. First of all a vehicle and supplies can be kept at such a location, ready and waiting for your arrival. With the help from your support group, this vehicle and the supplies in it can be maintained easily and will allow you to arrive safely at your retreat even should something go wrong. Secondly, this provides a good place for your contact to wait for you as the airport may be crazy. Finally, this will provide a safe place for your retreat group to leave a message for you, in the event that they should come but be forced to leave before you arrive for some reason. They will be able to fill you in on the situation and tell you how you should proceed (using vague terms about locations and people to protect OPSEC of course).   While traveling from overseas back home is never and ideal situation, especially when compared to living at your retreat, for those who are called to be overseas in a full time capacity practicing these tips should make the probability of arriving safely home much higher. Lets take a look now at Bugging In.  

Bugging In
Many of the same considerations take place when bugging in overseas as they do when selecting a retreat here in the United States. Questions like: Is my house the best place to be, or should we have plans to relocate to a friend's house that is located better? or How much food and livestock does my family require? will be the same no matter where you are located. In some areas the missionary or foreign worker is better positioned than the average American. For example the water in most countries is not safe to drink, so you may be better prepared in terms of water purification, also the architecture overseas is often better suited to the climate meaning it is less dependent on the power grid for heating and cooling. However, you may face some key challenges that should be addressed:
* Retreat location: In at least on country I lived in the ownership of property by non-citizens was illegal. The only way to purchase property was by having your mission agency incorporated in that country. I don't know about all cases, but from what I have seen this is a fairly common practices. It isn't hard to see how this could pose a problem. If you have a excellent retreat locations prepared with all of your gear propositioned only be tossed out by your landlord who now wants to be out in the safety of the countryside, you haven't really done yourself any good. For this reason whenever possible a way to purchase the property needs to be found. This may mean you have to compromise between what makes for a good retreat, and what makes for a good mission/business office (if your organizations is having to by the land).     
* Water sources: While you may have better water purification processes in place, and likely a better system for storing water than most Americans who have city or county water, having your own source of water may be somewhat more difficult. You will have to determine if digging a well is legally possible, and even if it is you may need  to be prepared to do it yourself (for those in humanitarian type enterprises this should come rather easily). If legalities do pose a problem for some reason, you may want to simply invest in a storage system (refreshed by rainwater from your roof) that will hold enough water for you to implement a prearranged system (to dig a well or tap a near by stream) after law and order have begun to collapse and legalities are less of an issue. Of course if you are out in a very remote place and everyone gets water from a nearby river or spring then this won't really be a problem anyway.  
* Self-defense: The ability to defend your self, overseas, is often much more limited. Many nations don¹t allow any ownership of firearms by civilians, and fewer still would allow a foreigner to own one. Your first step should be to spend some time doing legal research and determine what your options are. A few of the African nations do allow the ownership of hunting rifles, and such and if you are in one of these nations than this would be preferable to nothing. If, however, you are in the more common situation of not being able to obtain firearms you should consider a two-fold approach. First you should research and determine what weapons police and military units are using where you are as these are what will likely be most available post crash. If at all possible obtain a civilian version of one of these weapons to practice with while you are in the United States. Resist the urge to modify it, but instead train with it as it is likely to be if you happen to find one post crash. If the weapon in use by the local military and police isn't available here in the U.S. than consider getting an inexpensive AK clone and training with it, as the AK is the most common firearm in use today, worldwide. Learn to shoot accurately with whatever is likely to be available, to be able to easily do routine maintenance, and how to determine which variants are of highest quality for times when you have a choice.  

The second step in self-defense preparedness overseas will be to acquire and train with older more traditional weapons, many of which are not restricted. For projectile weapons I suggest either a bow or a crossbow. These should be a simple as possible, either a locally available product or a recurve imported from the States. Compound bows and cross bows are great for use in good times but are likely to me more prone to wear and tear without proper care. The recurve will give you more power relative to the size of the bow than a long bow, but without any additional maintenance being required. Slingshots, especially when using steel shot, can be very effective and are easy to slip into your pocket or backpack. They can be used for hunting small game or for self-defense. Knives and hatchets can be easily trained with, and you really ought to have them for general chores anyway, as such the only other weapon I think really needs to be mentioned is the cane. The good thing about a walking cane or stick is that is not generally perceived as a weapon, even by an attackers; but when wielded well a cane or stick can win easily even over a knife or machete.              

* Most of the other prepping topics can be easily adapted for use overseas. Books like JWR's novel "Patriots" and other blog articles have gone in to great detail on a wide variety of different topics. The key is to begin to think about how to adapt these to your specific environment. What differences might weather and local culture make? By adapting to the circumstances of the country you are in, there is a good chance you, your family, and your friends can find a safe place to be and possibly even continue the work you have been doing.   

In Closing - A Note for Friends and Family of Missionaries and Others Overseas:  
These tips have been written from my experience to help missionaries and other long-term foreign workers begin to think through the options they have, and the concepts they will need to consider. For friends and family the role of the missionary or foreign worker seems dangerous even in the best of times, and we the urge to beg your friend or family member to come home can be hard to resist. Please try to keep in mind that the cause of the Gospel, and the charity offered by many other organizations are just. Good, Godly, and charitable work ought not be stopped simply because we fear the times. However, as a prepper friend of missionaries you should provide moral support as they press on even in hard times, and in helping begin the conversation on what options they are considering in the event of a crisis. This role is vitally important as many missionaries I personally know are either: considering temporarily giving up their work until things blow over, or feel that they must press on even if it means not being prepared at all. As a prepper community, especially a prepper community that emphasizes Faith and Charity, we can help this work continue by beginning this conversation and exploring options together.

The eBay online auction company has been around for many years and up until recently I had not been using it to get the incredible deals I should have been getting for years.  Much of the survival gear that a prepper needs is often highly durable and will last a life time, so buying them second hand on eBay is a wise choice.

The first thing to consider is your List of Lists.  Consider what you need from reloading supplies, body armor, tactical gear, weapon accessories, clothing, or surplus goods.  Now make a list of key words that are associated with all these items.  Sometimes a simply searching for a few key words related to the item you are actually searching for will result in a great find at a great price. When searching for items make certain you use the search result filters located on the left of the screen.  [JWR Adds: Also be sure to search for common spelling errors in auction titles that will cause auctions to get overlooked. For example, if "camouflage" is misspelled "camoflage", of if "gauge" is misspelled "guage" or "gage", then there is good chance that there will be few bidders.]

When searching for high quality gear like Trijicon ACOGs, or well made Tactical gear, don't be afraid of checking the "used" box.  You will see that all this used stuff is still serviceable and often half price.  I have bought many vests for the family, accessories for weapons, or other supplies at 80% off.  Its pretty incredible sometimes. Look through your search results and add any items of interest to your watch list, this is done by simply clicking the item link, then clicking on "Add to watch list". 

Once you have added everything you are interested in to your watch list, consider your budget, and narrow it down to the items you are really gunning for.  The next part is bidding.  I am the scourge of every decent human being on eBay.  I am a bid-sniper.  I wait until the last moment to submit my bid.  This prevents anyone else watching the items from outbidding me. As the items auction timer counts down the last 20 minutes or so, it will count down second by second for you to watch.  Have your bid placed into the bid window and when 10 seconds are remaining, place your bid as quick as you can! [JWR Adds: There is bid sniping software available. I recommend using it.] Your bid will get locked in and no one else will really have a chance to do anything about it, unless they have done the same thing or previously placed a much higher bid.

Another thing to be aware of is that people instinctively place bids in predictable increments.  So lets say an item is going for $40.  People will bid in increments of $5.  So if you see that people have already bid on it, you can be sure that you will need to bid $46, or $51 to secure the auction.  When you are bid sniping keep this in mind.  You need to bid slightly over the next predictable bid.

Some auctions are normal auctions where they start at one dollar and bidding is open for a few days or up to ten days.  When the auction is complete, regardless of what the highest bid is, the highest bidder wins the auction.  Other auctions have a reserve, which means that a minimum bid must be made to meet the reserve requirement before the auction can be won.  I ignore any auctions with a reserve because I don't look for fair prices, I look for great deals!  Other auctions say "Buy now for x or Make an offer"  Don't be afraid to make an offer to people.  Just by them creating the auction in this way you know they are looking to make a sale.  I once bought two $300 [body armor] plate carriers of great quality by making an offer of $50 for each vest.

Good luck hunting for your survival gear.  Search for anything and everything.  I always check eBay before I make any purchase, from clothes to gun scopes.  You should too!

JWR Replies: I too find a few bargains on eBay, particularly old AC/DC vacuum tube AM-Shortwave radios for my collection, field gear, holsters, magazine pouches, and knives. By patiently waiting for "sleeper" auctions, I've accumulated a substantial pile of Cold Steel, Benchmade, and Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) folding knives, both for eventual barter and as a hedge on inflation. A few years ago, I was still able to find some bargains on pre-1965 non-numismatic "junk" silver coins, but unfortunately those days are gone, since there is presently such strong interest in precious metals. And sadly, eBay's management went Politically Correct and banned sales of firearms magazines and many gun parts such as barrels. For those, I use auction sites like and AuctionArms.

G.G. sent this: Bank in Kansas Becomes 64th Failure This Year

Also from G.G.: Analysis: Fed low-rate promise seen as opening salvo for QE3

Carlos in the U.P. spotted an excellent article by Karl Denninger explaining how the fundamental issues in our economy such as derivatives and too much leverage are kept from coming to the light of day: Dispelling Popular Delusions: TARP And Balance Sheets

J.B.G. suggested this news clip that illustrates the innate yet well-founded anxiety about the near future: Texans grab their guns as economy stalls

Items from The Economatrix:

Beijing Downgrades US Treasury From A+ To A

After A Wild Week For Stocks, What To Do?

Consumers Splurge In July, Pushing Retail Sales Up

C.N. sent this: Government pays for empty flights to rural airports.

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Tam had some great commentary on the trend toward über-tactical training that is sacrificing safety: Big Boy Rules. (About 1:30 into the video that she found, things get just plain foolishly 360-degree suicidal --with copious and un-necessary friendlies downrange, et cetera.)

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"Apartment Dweller" suggested some clever commentary on choosing strong computer passwords.

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Wilson Solar Grill Stores the Sun’s Energy for Nighttime Fuel-Free Grilling. (Thanks to Drew for the link.)

"And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,

Nor scrip for [your] journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

And when ye come into an house, salute it.

And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

Mat 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." - Matthew 10:7-20 (KJV)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The following are some reasons for learning how to identify, harvest, and prepare a few wild plants for food:

  • Crop failures might make foods too expensive to purchase, or scarce due to lack of production (if producers can't afford to grow it, and manufactures can't afford to process it you probably won't find it on a shelf)–
  • Lack of hunting/trapping wild game- you are not always going to bag a squirrel, or catch something fishing, coming back empty handed is going to happen sometimes. Deal with it- even setting out 10 snares you 'might' get something, but you might not. most likely when you need it most too.
  • Scarcity of wild game (over hunting as competition to hunt after a disaster or emergency is going to be fierce, even if laws forbid hunting people are going to try and eat, as seen in a recent Brooklyn New York park where vagrants were fined (Lord knows why, they have no money! ) for fishing, poaching in a public park.  If they were stealing plants I doubt anyone would have noticed, or cared.)
  • The obvious breakdown of food sources, no power for super markets or local sources of food.

The first option is to stock a good amount of storage food for the bad times. That food will eventually diminish or be consumed at some time- what if you could help stretch those rations by eating common weeds? It takes no resources to plant them and very little energy to hunt/harvest them (same reason early hunters became farmers when game was scarce.) Find the most cost economical way to expend the least amount of energy with the most yields, best results equates to having a full belly with less work. One thing I won't recommend is going in to an area and stripping it of wild food, be sure to only take what you really need, and let some plants live long enough to reproduce or your local area might become a barren wasteland. This should be common sense, but I think it's worth mentioning.

It’s important to be knowledgeable about local wild foods – but where to find out information on what’s good to eat?
A couple of easy ways to gain knowledge on wild plant foods.

1.      Reading books- libraries are free, watch DVDs (some you can borrow from the library), check the internet if you have access, use the library’s computer if you don’t, –youtube has free information and how-to videos.

2.      Go to someone who knows and have them walk you around on a weed walk! Nothing beats first person experience and learning about something hands on.

3.   Ask someone older then you about sharing this info if they happen to know anything about farming listen to what they have to say about growing your own food. (just remember we are seeking common weeds that most back yard gardeners would be annoyed at and likely destroy, then not eat.- well, maybe if you have cattails in your back yard, you have more problems that this article can cover.) 

The books I’ve seen and read I purchased from Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and checked out from the local library. The DVD I found online was from a woman who lived in upstate New York, and moved to Arizona.It is called Linda Runyon's Master Class on Wild Food Survival. I do respect and like youtube videos called the 'Eat the weeds' series with Green Deane. There is a wealth of information there! His amaranth video was great, and he mentions many times 'you know you can make beer with this'. Great info. :)

Anyhow about the DVD: Linda Runyon is an expert on wild plants- she not only tells you plant identification she also explains about storing plants by drying and how to prepare plants, in ways I’d never thought of. Linda Runyon's Master Class video was worth the $30 on Amazon. Her Wild Cards flash cards are about one of the best survival buys I’ve ever purchased: 52 playing cards –all food plants/trees! As I recall, I paid $5 for them – again on Amazon. They are very compact and ready to be taken camping so you can ID plants.

Walking with an Expert

The plant walk I took was sponsored by ‘The Good Earth Health Food Store’ in Callicoon, New York (a few years back). If you are in the 'occupied' New York area and have time this would be something to bring a camera and a notebook to! (Warning: bring extra batteries, my camera died before the walk ended!) I did, however, take notes!  Nathaniel Whitmore, Herbalist - gave a tour around the town of Callicoon to show what plants people step over daily that can be eaten. The tour lasted an hour and ended up on the banks of the Delaware River.  This was a donation event that Nathaniel was doing every few weeks, so it would be best to contact the store for more info on dates and times-  (I don’t work for them, or have any stake in their business.) I was however enlightened by the amount of plants that were pointed out in the field, this man’s knowledge of wild plants in astounding.  

The top five has been done before on this blog- but let’s recap because these are about the most common plants around- If you know them, your likely never to go hungry!

1.      Dandelion -greens.
2.      Cat tails –every part, roots baked and eaten like potatoes
3.       Queen Ann’s lace –wild carrots (make sure its stems are hairy because poison hemlock is very similar to wild carrot, and it is deadly- Poison Hemlock is hairless, and doesn’t smell like carrots!!)
4.      Lambs quarters – cooked like wild spinach
5.      Wild lettuce –greens

But what else do you see daily? That is my question! Are you taking the time to question what plants are around and how can you use them?? And it’s something that you as a survivalist need to be aware of in every walk, outing, bike ride…become aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to what nature is growing outside that you can eat for free.  Make it a habit to learn what plants are in your area, and how those plants can be used. Next time you are out make a list and take pictures of plants you are not sure of, to find out if it’s something useful or food. You can always open a book or google a description of a plant in your down time, later when your back home.

On my daily walks I see- the white flowers of Queen Ann’s Lace (wild carrots) everywhere, white flowers of wild onions and leeks, the blue flowers of Chicory (roots used for coffee substitute.), the yellow flowers of wild mustard, yellow flowers of dandelion’s, greens of plantain, greens of lamb quarters (probably the best tasting wild plant!), yellow flowers of evening primrose (potatoes), amaranth (pig weed- seeds used for flour) and I didn’t even mention the trees! White Birch buds/twigs/sap, maple seeds/syrup, and acorns… food is literally everywhere – but the key is in knowing and being aware of one’s surroundings enough to find it when you are hungry. Awareness is the key. I have learned that the more I look for something the more of what I am looking for I find.

[JWR Adds: I must re-emphasize the author's point: Be very careful about plant identification. For example, the Water Hemlock (which is poisonous) to an untrained eye looks very similar to Queen Ann’s Lace!]

Here is a quote from Linda Runyon ‘with the woods being green- 50% of that green is stuff you can eat.’ Knowing this makes it really hard to starve, unless you have given up on living. This simple idea gives me a lot of comfort knowing that someday supplies might run out or become scarce, I’ll be able to find what I need. There really is enough food for everyone smart enough to know where to look for it.  

One more thing: I'll close with a quote. I love this quote because it sums up what people rioting in the UK are doing to themselves by destroying the middle class businesses that are the stalled, damaged, driving engine of their economy. I know it's very colonial of me:  "Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid." - John Wayne

James Wesley:
With respect to the recent posting on squirrel processing, I suggest that anyone seeking squirrels for food, not sport, leave the guns at home.  Save the ammunition and preserve the silence.  Use of a 110 Connibear trap on the side of a tree is much more effective and surreptitious.  There are a lot of ways to set them, but the easiest is to place a couple of screws into the side of a tree about an inch apart and set the trap so that it clamps itself to the screws while remaining in the horizontal plane.  A bit of rag with peanut butter makes a great bait on the trigger whiskers.  The usual caveats regarding fingers, pets, and children apply.  Available for about $19 a trap and with a useful lifespan measured in decades, a dozen of these traps will put much more meat in the pot than a .22 rimfire ever can.  Here is a picture of a similar set.   I very much enjoy squirrel hunting, especially with dogs, but it's more of a recreation than a harvest. - Will T.

G.G. sent this: Deficit Averaged $110 Billion Per Month So Far in 2011. So, what's a shortfall of $3,600,000,000 per day, among friends? It all sounds a little like Wimpy. Given the demographic trends of our aging population, the projected GDP, the prevailing inflation rate, and the law of compounding interest, it is nigh on impossible for our children and grandchildren to ever pay off this crushing debt.

Did Soros Win 10/1 Return On S&P's US Credit Rating Downgrade?

France & Britain AAA-ratings Under Scrutiny

More shrugging: Fed Up: A Texas Bank Is Calling It Quits

An interesting 15 minute podcast: Jim Puplava interviews Chris Martenson

Most Americans can't afford a $1,000 emergency expense

Richard S. sent this: England Used to Be a Country of Men

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Serious People are Starting to Realize That We May Be Looking at World War. (Thanks to K.T. for the link.)

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Vigilante groups protect London streets. (An example of a Neighborhood Watch on steroids, as I like to call them.)

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K.A.F. sent this: Taking Liberties: Conservation Groups Fighting to Keep the Peace in Idaho. Oh, and speaking of the land of the Free Ranging Spud: Idaho Touts Its Red State Culture To Attract Gun Manufacturing Jobs. (Thanks to Bill A. for the latter link.)

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Another Californian votes with her feet: Dear California: I’m Leaving You. Here’s Why…

"Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.

For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken." - Proverbs 3:25-26 (KJV)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Bitcoins are a new anonymous peer-to-peer digital currency.  It is truly the next big thing in how we can conduct transactions over the internet without any central clearinghouse or bank or government 'okaying' our transactions.  I believe Bitcoins will be quite disruptive in how we all do business online.  You can pay anyone directly with Bitcoins, buy products from in Bitcoins (through a reseller), and even take SurvivalBlog's' 10-cent challenge in Bitcoins!  Bitcoins have an inherent value and as long as the internet is standing, are here to stay. As of this writing, 1 Bitcoin (or BTC) was selling for $14.  There are many merchants willing to do business online with Bitcoins, and the list keeps on growing.

You can read a lot more about Bitcoins, how they work, their implications and tradeoffs in a great and worthwhile introductory academic paper here.  A few additional introductory sites are: Bitcoin's homepage, What is Bitcoin?, and Bitcoin FAQs.

There are great sites extolling the virtues of Bitcoin, and James has said to expect an article in the coming months on the positive survival aspects of Bitcoin, but what I found difficult to figure out is how to practically get my hands on some Bitcoins and how to start using them effectively and safely.  After much trial and error, and also many years of online experience, I compiled the following practical 'how-to' primer on getting and using Bitcoins.  I will, in detail, explain how to use Bitcoins safely in the second section of this primer.  In the first section, though, I will explain how to safely and anonymously browse the internet, and also how to run a safe computer.

Section 1: It all starts with a secure computer

Firstly, you must secure your computer as much as possible.  It is imperative that you secure your computer against unwanted intruders from the 'net, or even from babysitters or inquisitive nephews.  The reason this is so important is that all of your bitcoins will be stored in a file called a "wallet" on your computer, and should anyone get their hands on that electronic file, they can easily pilfer all of your bitcoins. 

1) First step: Get a Mac:  I'm just joking (well, sort of).  Basically, Windows machines have a lot more vulnerabilities and are much more enticing targets for hackers.  It is still possible to increase the safety of a Windows machine, but in general, Macs are better.  Linux machines are supposedly even better than Macs, but not very user friendly.  As I don't know much about Linux, this tutorial will cover only Windows and Macs. (If you already have a Linux box, then you a probably an advanced user don't need this primer;).

If you have Windows, make sure to update it regularly via the official Microsoft web site here (making sure to select only the imperative security updates, as Microsoft tries to slip in non-essential 'upgrades' which only bog down your computer or even checks to see if you use pirated software.  Read each update's description carefully before downloading and installing them).  Macs also need updating (gasp!).  Click the apple on the top-left of the desktop and go down to 'Software Updates'.  Deselect all the unneeded updates for regular software, and only choose Mac system or safari updates. 

2) Create a computer log-in password.  This is important for both Windows machines and Macs.  Make sure to create a password for your administrator account, and potentially add a screen-saver lock to relock your computer after some time of inactivity.  (password how-to: Win; Mac)
In addition to a main password, consider setting up new user accounts for your kids (and spouse?) to compartmentalize any potential damage they may cause while playing around on the computer.  Instructions for setting up user accounts are here (win) and here (mac).
(Mac Tip: Encrypt your entire hard drive using the included program FileVault per the instructions here.  It's an additional security step for when you are logged out, or if your computer physically falls into the wrong hands.  I don't recommend doing the same thing with a Windows machine due to reliability concerns.)

3) Install Anti-Virus (Windows only).  This shouldn't be news to you, but if virus scanners are, download Avast (free) here, and install and update it.  Avast has been the best choice in my experience.  The default settings for Avast should be sufficient.  Make sure to stay with the free options during download and install, as they also sell a "pro" version (not necessary).  No anti-virus is needed for Macs (woot!).  Update the definitions and program regularly, or have the program do it automatically (which is the default settings).

Another useful tool to use in addition to Avast is Spybot Search and Destroy (also free).  Spybot has some very useful startup cleaners and other scans which is a nice add-on to keeping your computer even more secure and running well.

4) Install/setup a firewall.  Firewalls help prevent hackers breaking in to your computer from the outside network.  In my opinion, the default Windows firewall is insufficient as it lets through numerous "Microsoft approved" connections without even telling you.  Turn it on anyway (how-to link).  It should help, but if you are an advanced user, you may want to supplement the regular firewall with a third party firewall as an added layer of protection.
The Mac OS default firewall is enough for basic safety from intruders, but you must make sure that it is enabled (here's how to do that). Once it is enabled, go to the advanced settings and deny access to any strange programs that shouldn't be accessing the 'net.  Allow the rest (Firefox, Chrome, etc.)

5) Tor  Nope, we're still not ready for Bitcoin.  Before starting with Bitcoin, I recommend that you setup and utilize Tor. Using an anonymous currency is less valuable if your transfers and web usage can potentially be tracked.  Tor helps anonymize everything you do on the internet.  Tor is an open-source anonymity project in which your web traffic and requests are encrypted and bounced off of random people across the world until the last 'bouncer', or 'exit node', requests the actual page you wanted, then encrypts and sends the page back upstream until it reaches your computer.  The theory is that each person in the chain can not see or read the actual web page, nor know where it is ultimately being sent, they are only relaying encrypted gobbledygook.  The last guy in the chain, or 'exit-node' is theoretically able to find out the page/data that is being viewed, but as he doesn't know who actually is getting the page in the end (i.e., you), the anonymity of web surfing is preserved. 

Using Tor effectively is somewhat complicated, but I will walk through it with you with links for further reading and instruction.  It is worthwhile to figure out this step 5 to markedly increase your online safety and anonymity.

5a) Install Tor.  First download the Tor software bundle here (Windows) or here (Mac).  Install the Tor bundle (Win help; Mac help)  Once complete, open Vidalia.  Vidalia is the program that starts up and uses Tor in the background.  Another way of thinking about it is that Vidalia makes using Tor 'pretty' and more user-friendly.  So when you need to start up Tor, you really just start up Vidalia which will turn on Tor in the background. (Mac users, use the 'spotlight' icon on the top right of the desktop easily find and use the Vidalia app.) Windows users may be having Vidalia start with Windows (default setting).  That's okay if you'll use it often, otherwise delete it from your startup folder or use Spybot to remove the startup entry.  Vidalia will still work fully when you start Vidalia manually via the Start menu.

5b) Configure Tor.  Why Tor/Vidalia is a bit tricky to use, is that it's not enough just to start Vidalia and run Tor in order to remain anonymous.  You must configure your browsers and programs to go through Tor before they go out to the web.  That's called using a 'proxy'.  [Tip: to skip to the how-to "final answer", what is needed is to point all programs/browsers to use the proxy].  There are a few ways of setting up browsers, including the 'official' Torbutton on/off switch for Firefox (included with the full installation of Vidalia above), but I recommend to you another convenient method, which uses Goggle Chrome and a nifty proxy "on/off" button. (See the steps and screen shots here). 

Once you are running Vidalia/Tor, and have set up your browser or program to use Tor, you can check that all is in (anonymous) order by going to this site:  (at the Tor's own web site) and they will let you know if your browser is using Tor correctly or not.

Tip: Occasionally obtain a new identity while browsing.  Right click on the green Tor/Vidalia icon, and select New Identity.  This gets a new Internet address, or an 'IP', for you to make it even harder to track usage.

An aside: Online usernames and passwords. Just a quick note on online usernames and passwords.  Make then 'strong' i.e., at least 12 characters, and use symbols, numbers, and capital letters too.  Occasionally change your passwords, and don't get stuck in a rut using the same password across sites.  If someone successfully hacks your Yahoo account, would you want them snooping through your bank, credit card, and online backup sites too?  An additional safety tip is to not use your favorite and usual username (which is usually your e-mail address prefix – i.e., 'johndoe' from ''.  85% of people use it).  Mix up your usernames.
Practical tip: I know everyone always says to make all of these different passwords and usernames, but who can remember them all?  Why don't you write them down (gasp!), yes, write them down, and then store them in a safe place (like a safe, cache, or bottom of a grain bucket).  You can practice "safe writing" by storing usernames in one location, and their corresponding passwords in another.  Also, self garble your passwords in an easy to remember manner. An example of this would be to always write down on paper the incorrect password, but with the first two characters at the end, so a password 'abc123' becomes 'c123ab' written down.

Section 2: Bitcoin-opia

Okay, now we're into the second section of this primer, and are ready to venture in to the Bitcoin world. 

1) Install Bitcoin client.  First, you must download the Bitcoin client.  Bitcoin is open source, and anyone can write a client.  Few have done so, but by far the most widely used client is this one from (here's the latest Win / Mac version).  Install the program and then run it once to check it out and to also have it set up your personal digital wallet.

2) Encrypting, hiding and backing up your 'wallet':  (Optional) Some people highly recommended that you hide and encrypt your 'wallet' so as to increase your money's safety, and also to allow for easier backup onto a thumb drive or online backup site, if desired.  However, I'm calling this step 'optional' as it is fairly advanced, and if done incorrectly, can make your Bit-wealth disappear.  So only mess with this step 2 if you feel comfortable with the instructions found on this web page.

In general, the steps for encrypting and hiding your wallet work by you creating an encrypted drive, in which you can place any sort of files inside of.  This encrypted drive looks like a regular file on your computer, until you 'Mount' it, which is a weird way of saying to open the encrypted file and tell your computer to start treating it like a regular hard drive.  In order to mount the drive and decrypt the contents, you will need a password.  Once you are done using the files inside of the drive, you then 'Unmount' the drive, returning the drive to its safe, unreadable, encrypted state. 

But again, only do so if you’re comfortable with working with encrypted drives.
In summary, for both Windows and Macs, before you run your Bitcoin client (to send BTC or check on your funds), you (a) mount your encrypted drive (which has your wallet on it), then (b) run and use Bitcoin, then (c) close Bitcoin and unmount your encrypted drive.

Backing up your wallet.  As your money resides on your 'wallet', you can copy your entire encrypted drive (containing your wallet) onto an external hard drive or small thumb drive.  Then keep that thumb drive in a safe location (i.e., a safe, or a grain bucket).  You will need to re-backup your wallet if you use Bitcoin a lot and create more than 100 new Bitcoin addresses (see step 4 below),  This is to ensure that restoring your wallet will restore all of your bitcoins.  There are some who recommend storing this encrypted drive online in either Dropbox, or your e-mail account, but I don't recommend this.  I'm always wary of putting too much faith solely in encryption.  I prefer to encrypt and control access to the file itself (through physical and network security means).  If you store it online, you are at the mercy of your e-mail provider or online storage site for providing physical security to your file, so you are then relying solely on your encryption.  Mileage may vary, and different users may prefer different methods depending on your individual needs.

3) Buying/selling bitcoins.  Now that you are safe, secure, and anonymous online (don't forget to turn on and check Tor!) you can begin your foray into the real money world of Bitcoin.  There are many ways to purchase Bitcoins (or BTC), but I will tell you the easiest and most inexpensive route that I've found for doing so. 
In short, (and I will explain in detail below), you send real money from a real 'brick and mortar' bank account to the online payment house Dwolla (step 3a).  From Dwolla, you send those funds to MtGox, the foremost Bitcoin trading center (step 3b).  From within your MtGox account you can then buy and sell Bitcoins using those funds (step 3c).  To effectively use (and anonymize) your newfound Bitcoin stash, withdraw Bitcoins from MtGox into your personal wallet on your computer (step 3d).  You are now free to spend Bitcoins!  In further steps we will discuss how and where to spend and using Bitcoins.  Selling Bitcoins (turning BTC into US$) is performed using the same steps above, just reversing the steps: Deposit BTC into MtGox from your wallet, Sell BTC on MtGox exchange, withdraw dollars to your Dwolla account, then transfer the US$ from Dwolla into your Brick and Mortar Bank.  You have now reentered the legacy and outdated world of finance.

3a) Bank dollars to Dwolla dollars: Set up a account here.  Then add and verify a real bank in order to transfer money in and out of your Dwolla account (links are on the toolbar to the left).  Adding an account is straightforward using your account number and routing numbers found on a paper check.  Verifying your account consists of your waiting for Dwolla to deposit a few cents into your bank account, then you check that bank account and tell Dwolla how much each of the two deposits were.  This whole process takes 1-3 business days until your Dwolla account can be funded for the first time.

Once your account is verified, you can start the process of adding funds to your Dwolla account by clicking on the "Deposit Money" link on the toolbar to the left. Depositing money into Dwolla takes 3-5 business days and is free (unless your bank charges for it, but they shouldn't be).  Dwolla kindly sends you an e-mail the instant your bank transfer clears, and you will then be ready for step 3b below.
3b) Dwolla dollars to MtGox dollars.  [recent update: you must disable Tor while working on MtGox – they are trying to combat hacking attempts.] Create an MtGox account here.  There are no verification steps (other than a valid e-mail address).  Once you have an account you can "Add Funds" by clicking the Add Funds button on the left side toolbar.  There is a bunch of ways to add funds to your MtGox account, but the easiest/best way is to use Dwolla. MtGox also accepts Liberty Reserve, and even direct international wire transfers, for a fee of 2500 Yen (about $31 today).  Dwolla is the easiest and cheapest ($0.25 each transfer).

While in the "Add Funds" section, choosing the Dwolla method button reveals a link which you can use to transfer Dwolla funds directly (link is next to the words “Account Number”).  There will also be an important memo to include on every transfer from Dwolla to MtGox (MTGOX #xxxxx) so that MtGox knows to which account to credit the incoming transfer.  So, either send your Dwolla funds through the all-in-one link on MtGox's site, or do it manually from Dwolla's "Send Money" link to MtGox's account (812-649-1010) remembering to include the appropriate memo with your account on it (MTGOX #xxxxx).  This step officially takes about 12 hours, but oftentimes it is much faster.
You can also add funds using Bitcoins.  Just send BTC from your computer client to the address listed on the Add Funds page.

Tip: after you've sent money to MtGox once, you can have Dwolla automatically pull money from your bank and send it over to MtGox in a single step, making it slightly easier to fund MtGox account.  Do this: from the "Send Money" link in Dwolla, select your bank as the 'source' in the drop down menu, and set up the rest of the transfer to MtGox normally.  Dwolla will pull money from your account and send it to MtGox for you. Single-step to get funds in to MtGox!
News Update: MtGox had a few high-value accounts stolen (not from their databases, but from the external users’ computers) which were used in an attempt to manipulate the trading market.  MtGox shut down all trading for about a week, and reversed all illegal trades.  They have since restored all operations, and all prices are very stable subsequent to their reopening (~$14/BTC).  If you still feel too uncomfortable dealing with MtGox, you can use another (much smaller) trading house, Tradehill.  All the same steps in this primer apply, just substituting Tradehill for MtGox.  As I have never done any transaction with Tradehill, I can't recommend them personally, I just forward their name on by virtue of them being the second largest Bitcoin exchange.

3c) Buying and Selling Bitcoins:  From within MtGox, you can buy or sell Bitcoins (BTC) here or by clicking "Trade" on the toolbar to the left.  Treat the purchase as you would any other commodity, and as James drills into our heads, buy on the dips.  To put it mildly, Bitcoins is a highly volatile commodity, with a price fluctuation range of between $10 and $30 per Bitcoin, in recent weeks.  Since the MtGox security scare, it has been very stable trading around $13-15 per BTC.  In any case, as you are buying Bitcoins for its usability (and not as an investment device), buy them as low as you can, and try not to worry if they fall in price afterwards.  You are paying for the freedom of using and owning a private and anonymous currency, and the premium is in its highly volatile exchange rate. 

(Editor's note: Part of the beauty of the Bitcoin world is its freedom and lack of regulatory agencies.  But that very freedom unfortunately draws speculators and fraudsters.  Speculators were toying with the exchange rate last month with wide-ranging trades to make money (and were been stopped by MtGox, though).  In addition, fraudsters are inspired to commit nefarious acts because of their inherent anonymity.  I feel that the Bitcoin market will dampen out these crazy speculative price swings over time, and similarly, fraudsters will be discouraged as the Bitcoin community becomes better informed and trained.  As with any cash transaction, Bitcoin payments and purchases are quite final, so take caution as you would any other cash transaction.)

Trades in MtGox are treated like any other stock purchase you may make on an online brokerage house: you enter the amount of bitcoins you would like to buy, and at what price.  There are a bunch of trading charts available by clicking "Trading Tools" on the toolbar to the left.
Don't worry if your order doesn't get filled immediately.  The price fluctuations will make it likely that your request will be fulfilled soon.  You can also sell BTC in the same manner, on the same "Trade" page.

MtGox takes a very small commission (0.30%) of every trade, whether you are buying and selling. 
At the top of your MtGox account you will see a running tally of your current balance in Dollars and in Bitcoin.  Those Bitcoin in your account can be transferred to your personal 'wallet' on your computer to use them.

3d) Withdrawing Bitcoins (or US$): From your MtGox account, click "Withdraw Funds" on the left toolbar.  Choosing the radio button for Bitcoins as a method of payment, you enter the number of bitcoins you want to withdraw, and also one of your Bitcoin addresses.  Bitcoin addresses are created by your Bitcoin client program on your computer, and you can create as many addresses as you need – they all belong to you.  (See step 4 below for more info on this).  After the transaction clears the online Bitcoin world (no banks are involved! Yay!), it will show up as residing in your wallet from within your Bitcoin program on your computer.  You are now free to use them and pay whomever you'd like, completely anonymously.

4) Using Bitcoins.  The Bitcoin client program should be configured to use Tor to completely (i.e., tell the Bitcoin program to utilize the anonymizing virtues of Tor.  Detailed instructions for doing so are found here (and basically amounts to using a proxy server
The Bitcoin client comes with 100 personal (and anonymous) addresses preprogrammed in to the program, all of which point to you in the virtual internet world.  You can create new ones at any time (Click “Address Book”, then “New Address”), and can create an infinite amount of them. You use these addresses for whenever someone would like to send you money (BTC).  You give them one of your addresses, and they will send you money.  And if you want to send someone money, you can send it to their Bitcoin 'address'.  These addresses are also used for withdrawing funds (as BTC) from MtGox.  These addresses are unrelated to each other, and an infinite (theoretically) amount of new addresses can be created.  It is recommended by the Bitcoin community to use each address only one time, i.e., one address per transaction, so as not to compromise your anonymity.  The transaction must be 'cleared' by the online Bitcoin community (i.e., a significant number of peer-to-peer connections all agree that Peter just paid Paul).  This can take upwards of an hour or two, but if you are willing the sender can pay an extra 0.01 BTC (~$0.20) for preferred processing, which can shorten the transaction time to around ten minutes (you set this value in the settings in your Bitcoin client).

Sending money is also very easy.  You click “Send Coins” in your Bitcoin client program, putting the recipient's address in the box and the amount you'd like to send.  Click send to send the Bitcoins. That's it!  And as mentioned before, all Bitcoin transactions are quite final, so take care and double check your amounts before sending.  Treat Bitcoins as you would cash.

How and where to spend Bitcoins.  Besides person-to-person transactions, there is a rapidly growing industry of merchants willing to accept Bitcoin in addition to old-fashioned dollars and they offer tangible goods in addition to services (online and real-world).  There are also nascent businesses starting up to provide interesting and unique services for Bitcoin holders.  A (growing) list of businesses accepting Bitcoins can be found here, and many merchants are added every day.  There are even merchants willing to accept Bitcoin for purchases (they make money from Amazon referral program).  These merchants are really opening up the world to Bitcoin enabling Kindles, laptops and even groceries, to be purchased with Bitcoin.  As many of these businesses are new, treat them with caution and research their online reputation before conducting any major transactions with them.  

Enjoy your newfound online financial freedom!

If you enjoy SurvivalBlog, then donating a little bit. The BTC address for Ten Cent Challenge contributions:  1K7Gk6kqX6psSWDJaRV6pyDH7dwZuvqtUB 

And if you've enjoyed or benefited from this Bitcoin primer, then please consider a little clink in my personal Bitcoin tip jar, here:  1BfhNGddNCGFcaJjisiUQW6m1UaSbPHTdF

I have used a kayak for a couple years now and find it indispensable. Three years ago my grandfather gave me the very nice gift of a brand new Old Time kayak (a dark green fishing model). He want for me to have something to remember him by as he was on his way out of this life. But I digress.

This kayak has been on numerous fishing trips and river excisions, including a week long float on the Current River. It has never failed me and I have been extremely impressed with it. My dad grew up spending every available moment out doors and had always thought that nothing could beat a John boat for fishing and he didn't believe in kayaks until he tried it out for himself. He then went and purchased two more kayaks for himself. The kayaks, I believe, would be very useful in the case of SHTF. They are very maneuverable and with their shallow draft and ability to carry fairly heavy loads, I seriously consider mine a viable alternative to a land-based vehicle.

One important difference of a kayak to say, a John boat is the size of such a craft. You could easily pull it up under brush to camp on the side of the river. It will also float up the tributaries and creeks as we have here in the Wabash/Ohio River valley. Now I know that anywhere east of the Mississippi River will just not suffice when the SHTF. So I have laid out travel plans involving the waterways to a certain somewhere in Montana. It does involve portaging but with the kayaks having a manageable weight that does not bother me. I have figured that with all gear it would be a tight fit, but with the ability to use the john-boat or construct rafts this is for the most part unimportant. Thanks, - Jacob M.

Predictably, they slammed on the brakes at the COMEX: CME Group Hikes Margin Requirements For Comex Gold Futures. But since the physical market for gold is so strong, this move against futures trading will probably cause only a brief drop in the price of gold. The bull will resume his charge. (Thanks to Eli for the link.)

Dennis C. mentioned this editorial: Falling Bank Stocks Offer a Too-Big-to-Fail Wakeup Call

John R. kindly sent a whole raft of links:

Jim Rogers: Bernanke, Geithner Leading Us Into Fiscal Armageddon
(Henry J. Reske and Kathleen Walter)   

The Best Looking Horse in the Glue Factory (Jim Quinn)  

UBS' Andy Lees On Why The US Economy Is, All Else Equal, Doomed (Andy Lees, by way of Zero Hedge)

The Elusive Abyss (Neil Charnock)

S&P 500 Update – US Dollar Sacrificed (Dan Norcini)

Global Grand Policy Failure: Liquidity Traps and Financial Black Holes (Charles Hugh Smith)

"Europe Is On The Verge Of Collapsing"   (Raul de Sagastizabal)

Is This It? Or Can They Fool Us Again?   (John Rubino)  

Ramifications of a U.S. Debt Downgrade (Greg Hunter)  

Did S&P Shoot Itself in the Foot?   (Martin W. Armstrong)  

The Coming Fiscal Train Wreck — Part I (Dave Cohen)  

Reality Finally Hits The Morbidly Obese US Government (Jeff Berwick)

Global Warning-Credit Spreads Widening   (Bob Hoye)  

The staff of Der Spiegel asks: Is The World Going Bankrupt?  

Items from The Economatrix:

JPM Sees Gold at $2,500 By Year End

Fed's Low Rates are No Fix for Economy or Retirees

Pension Warning Amid Market Turmoil

Gold Price Soars Amid Mounting Fears Over Double-dip Recession

I'm pleased to see that John Jacob Schmidt is continuing to produce his weekly Radio Free Redoubt podcasts, each Sunday evening. There are now 10 archived shows. While not affiliated with any of my ventures, Radio Free Redoubt is nonetheless a great way for people to share ideas and information on relocating to the American Redoubt, and issues of interest for those living in the region.

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Chris D. suggested this: Five Reasons Why American Riots Will Be The Worst In The World

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More Nanny State meddling: Anonymous Call to New Animal Abuse Hotline Leads to Raid on Colorado Woman’s Rabbit Farm. ONE dead bunny out of 180+ rabbits, in hot August weather? The lady deserves a medal, not a court date.

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Reader Will T. mentioned: "I recently encountered a fascinating and practical book titled Security Engineering, by Ross Anderson.  The first edition (2001) is legally available for free online.  The author has arranged for six chapters from the 2007 edition to be posted and hopes one day to post the entirety of the updated edition.  He covers issues from cryptography to banking to deadbolts to terrorism."

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C.T. highlighted this: Oath Keepers: FBI Wants Surplus Stores To Spy on Customers. It sounds more like they're fishing for preppers than terrorists...

"Few can foresee whither their road will lead them, till they come to its end." - Legolas in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

It would seem these days the world in which we live is anything but predictable. Who is to say you will always be able to run down to the corner gas station and fill your tank? Or drive thru your local fast food chain for a quick fix, when those hunger pangs kick in? In the event of an economic crash or other disaster, food and other supplies may be very hard to obtain. You may not be able to make your regular trip to the local Wal-Mart or other grocery store. Store shelves will go bare very fast, and many people will be left without the proper supplies. Even if food is available, and stores are open, the prices of everything in the store will skyrocket. As in the case of hyperinflation. Loaves of bread for $25, and $30 for a gallon of milk. How will you feed yourself and your family? Is it time to give up hope and die? No, of course not!

It is time to learn new things and strengthen your skill set. What is a skill set? Skills that will enable and ensure you and your family will survive. Skills like learning moss contains water, How to make water safe for drinking by adding a few drops of bleach per quart, or how to put snow in a water bladder or baggies and melt that snow with your body heat, by placing it inside your jacket next to your body to make drinking water. Even Boy Scouts at a young age, are taught to make lamps and candles out of old tuna cans and wax. When the time comes are you going to be prepared? All the tools and weapons in the world won't do you any good, if you don't know how to use them.    

It would also be a very good idea to purchase several different types of firearms, along with plenty of ammo. It is advisable to have at least one handgun, one shotgun (preferably 12 gauge), one large caliber rifle, and one small caliber rifle such as a .22, for taking down small game animals like rabbits and squirrel. A pellet gun would also come in handy for hunting down the smaller game animals. Perhaps you would find yourself in a situation where you needed to hunt for food, but making noise with a loud weapon might bring unwanted attention your way. A slingshot would also work, but a pellet gun would allow to have repetitive fire.     

Hopefully you have been prepping and laying back a good stock of things. Things like water, beans, rice, salt, and first aid supplies. One thing I would like to add to the list of things you might want to consider putting back, would be baby formula. Why? You say you don't have an infant? Well even if you don't have a little one to care for, the day may come in such a situation when the mother down the street knocks on your door, and how great would it be to help save a little ones life? There are many things you can do to supplement whatever food you may have. Most people know most of them, like grow your own vegetables. Seed collecting from the various items you've grown. How many people though, have thought about trapping and killing birds and mice in your own back yard? In a real survival scenario, you will do whatever it takes to survive, and if you are not prepared to do those things, then you will not survive.    

Learn how to make your own snares to trap rabbits, or maybe even something bigger. Learn how to make small traps baited with food, in order to lure birds in. Make good solid cages to house the birds you catch, and keep them alive until you are ready to harvest them. Snakes and squirrels are also very good forms of valuable protein. Protein your body must have in order to pull through, and keep on going. When you catch that bird, snake or squirrel, then what? Okay you kill it, but then how do you go about preparing it for consumption? That's what I'm about to teach you.    

I've chosen the squirrel out of the animals I have mentioned for you to learn how to skin. However much of the information can and will also apply to other animals as well. For example, you always gut the animal, and take care with the body fluids. As the bodily fluids will ruin the meat and possibly make you sick.

How to field dress and quarter a squirrel:

First off, I recommend that all of your squirrels be head shot. That way the heart, kidneys, and liver can be harvested for consumption more easily.  If you gut shoot your squirrel you will have punctured the guts, and therefore contaminated more of the meat. It is also of importance to check the color of the liver. The liver should be very dark red almost a maroon color, with no discoloration. If the liver is spotted or pale in color, this is a very good indication the animal is sick, and therefore the meat questionable. This is also true of deer and most game animals.     

Tools needed: Skinning knife, or just a good sharp pocket knife.   

Step one: Lay the squirrel out on its belly, and with your fingers pinch up the skin in the middle of the animals back. Take your knife and make about a one inch cut. Try not to cut into the meat.    

Step two: Insert your fingers into the opening you just made with your knife, and pull the skin in opposite directions. Do this until the skin rips all the way around the width of the body. You may have to use your fingers from time to time, in order to help the skin come free of the meat. Now you should be left with the skin divided into two sections, the upper and the lower.    

Step three: From here on out the squirrel will be laying on its back. Pull the upper portion of the skin up over the shoulders, then pull the arms out of the skin. It's just like pulling off a shirt. Pull the skin up to the neck, and cut off the head. Cut the hands off at the wrist, and take special note of the tufts of hair still located near the wrist. It's been said that these tufts of hair are scent glands, and if left on can make the meat have a bad taste. Cut off the tufts of hair.    

Step four: Pull the lower portion of the skin down to the ankles. Pull the skin just past the ankle bone and carefully cut off the feet. Pull the skin the rest of the way off the tail.   

Step five: Take your knife and just above one of the back legs, (where the leg meets the body) split the pelvic bone and break it open. This will cause an opening just above where the tail is.    

Step six: Very carefully take your knife and slowly split the squirrel up the full length of its body. Take the incision all the way up the body and out the neck. Be very careful not to cut the guts, or the meat will either be completely ruined or taste bad. If you do and get some nastiness on the meat, quickly rinse the meat with water. If you are careful and take your time when cutting, you will avoid cutting open the guts.    

Step seven: Make an incision on the outside of the pelvic bone (where the back leg meets the body). This will open up the tail are a little more, allowing you to get to all of the tail. Cut the tail off.    

Step eight: Take your hands and reach inside the incision you made along the belly. Start in the chest cavity and pull out the larynx, lungs, heart, and on down to the diaphragm, pull guts and all out. It all comes out clean in one pull. You are now left with a nice clean piece of meat.    

Step nine: Carefully cut off the arms behind the shoulder blade. Take your knife and cut the back legs off as well. Cut them along the pelvic bone. All you have to do here is slice the meat all the way around the leg so it loosens up a little, then just twist the leg off.    

Step ten: Cut the squirrel into two halves. Make your cut right where the ribs end. The rib section wont have much meat on it, but if put into a stew, the meat that is there will fall right off the bone and tastes really good. Take the other section of the body along with all of the legs, fry or bake and season to taste.   

How to get rid of the "gamy" taste: If you don't like a gamy taste to your meat you can place the meat in a container, add one tablespoon of salt, fill with water. Let this sit refrigerated over night to help reduce the gaminess of the meat. Seasoning the meat further while it cooks will remove even more of the gamy taste.

If you are a “prepper” in the same vein as I am, you look for equipment that is built to last. When a new product becomes available that looks to be substantially better than the one you have, you closet the old gear and purchase the new. This makes for a lot of closeted gear, but time is short and having gear that will last you a lifetime is a must.

I have been using rocket stoves on and off over the last 30 years. On, when I’d have a new stove, and off, when the stove either rusted or burned out. They all worked well, but none were made to last. Even if they made it through the rust and burn-out issues, I would then either lose a part or they’d end up getting bent or broken beyond use in the trunk of my car or in the back of our truck.

When I first saw the Grover Rocket Stove online, I was impressed with the heavy-gauge steel used in the construction. This was not like the other stoves I had found or used in the past. offers several different models of Grover Rocket Stoves: a base model, a heavy-duty model, and the heavy-duty model in stainless steel. Since I spend a lot of time cooking in wet areas like river camps and rainy eastern mountain areas, I went with the premium (1/8”) stainless steel model.

I happened to be out of town when it arrived, but my son was home. He accepts everything no matter what condition it arrives in. The box was beat to crud. It was not a pretty sight. I opened the box to find the stove in excellent condition.

My first impression was that this thing is built like a tank. It is relatively heavy for its size and very stout. It sits right. At 17 pounds it is heavy enough so it will not easily move and stable enough to place a large pot on top without the worry of it toppling over from being top heavy.

The stove is welded steel in construction with no loose or moving parts, although it did come with a heavy aluminum plate that sits on top of the burner to allow the use of small-sized pots or frying pans. It also has a heavy steel handle welded to the back of the stove for carrying and easy cleaning.

I took the stove outside to my front porch to fire it up. Not being into “keeping up the yard” made it easy to find dry leaves and downed branches in my front yard. After gathering a few handfuls of dry leaves and a dozen windfall sticks, I loaded the chamber with the tinder and some small fuel and fired it up.

Like all rocket stoves it had positive draft immediately and needed additional fuel right away. I broke the larger sticks into 8" -12" lengths and loaded them into the side fuel chute which is also welded to the stove as I dropped smaller tinder and sticks into the flue.

It was ready for cooking. I used a cast-iron skillet and cooked up some bratwursts, salsa, and onions as an afternoon snack.

After eating, I turned to cleaning the cooled stove. The stove is double-walled with an insulation sealed in the walled chamber. The handle on the back of the stove allowed me to easily turn the stove over and dump out what was left of the ash and coals by bumping the chute lip on the ground. Being at home, I then sprayed it off with the garden hose, making it like new again. Having gone with the stainless steel model, I have no worries about rust either.

There is an insert available that acts as a charcoal grate for using briquettes which I did not order. For me, the most attractive aspect of owning a rocket stove is that you don’t need to carry fuel with you. It uses whatever is lying around for fuel.

All said, the Grover Rocket Stove is indeed a better-made stove than any I have seen. I am very happy with it. It performs well, it is built to last forever, and I can see that it is the last rocket stove I’ll ever need to buy.

I recommend that anyone interested in a rocket stove check out the Grover Rocket Stove before making their stove purchase.  

Doing some research on earth domes and I'm seeing a new trend, tire bales. These are 5 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 2.5 feet tall. They weigh 2,000 pounds apiece. They are environmentally friendly, being sold for $25-35 a unit plus shipping. I'm planning on using them around the houses perimeter as I feel they are much less expensive and more durable than a masonry wall. Covered in concrete or adobe they won't be an aesthetic issue either.

I was wondering what your opinion of them would be as a ballistic barrier/wall?

Keep up the great work. - David F.

JWR Replies: Tire bale bastion walls (or even entire tire bale houses) are a viable option, and they do indeed offer great ballistic protection. (Although their irregular shape does leave a few gaps that would have to be "chinked" well with shotcrete.) Tire bale walls will definitely stop all .30 caliber rifle threats and will probably stop .50 BMG or Russian 12.7mm machinegun bullets. But I must mention a few provisos: 1.) The cost per cubic foot of wall is substantially higher than with the usually free for the hauling packed-earth tires (as used with "Earthships"), and 2.) , Because of the great weight of tire bales, a forklift (or a skid-steer equipped with forks, or a heavy-duty crane hoist) is required. This means that you can work only on a level building site, and, 3.) Unlike Earthship tires, which can be earthquake stabilized with just driven re-bar rods, tire bales must be specially strapped, and 4.) To be fire resistant, tire bales should be encased in adobe, shotcrete, or other masonry on all sides. (Following your link, I found a great series of photos that show a large tire bale house under construction.)

If you are going to put forth the effort to encase tire bales in adobe to add ballistic protection to an existing house, then you might as well build masonry "planters" that are filled with gravel. Two feet of gravel will stop bullets just as well as a tire bale, and there is no fire hazard.

Today's submission on Kayaks as survival vehicles is good but the statement, "Often in a hard shell boat the majority of your effort is spent simply paddling, trying to keep the boat upright!" isn't really accurate. It might be true of some sporty river kayaks but certainly not of modern hard-shell sea kayaks.

A number of years ago I spent three days kayaking among several islands in Puget sound. It was a guided trip and except for one time on a placid river, it was my only time in a kayak.  I found our tandem kayaks remarkably stable in the water. Because of the way their chines are designed, tipping the boat causes greatly increased buoyancy on the "down" side of the boat, keeping it from going over.  As novices we had no trouble remaining upright, even near shore in a squall with 2-to-3 foot breaking waves.

My only real point is that I wouldn't discount a hard kayak for fear of its stability.  Also, I'm not certain how much I want my boat to "move as a living organism" given stories like this.

Unlikely, I know, but I doubt a folding kayak would have fared as well. - Matt R.


Sir: I agree with Jan B. that a folding kayak has great possibilities as a survival vehicle.  My own interest in them goes back to a Life magazine cover story from the 50s.  Dr. Hannes Lindemann crossed the Atlantic in a 17' Klepper equipped with makeshift outriggers made from auto inner tubes.  Klepper is the oldest and still the top of the folding kayak line.  Nautiraid, built in France, is similar but less well known.  Both have been used by special ops units around the world.  (Milspec kayaks are available to civilian purchasers.) The main difference between these European kayaks and the current Folbots, which are made in the USA, is the frame.  Folbots are aluminum and plastic.  Kleppers and Nautiraids are wood.  I prefer wood because I can replace broken parts.  YMMV.  Folbots are serviceable entry-level boats.  I believe Feathercraft still offers more refined aluminum-frame kayaks.  Repair kits would include patching materials for the hull and short sections of aluminum  tubing (on both aluminum and wood boats!) to splint broken stringers.

I would suggest buying two identical kayaks, ideally doubles that are fitted for single paddlers.  I currently own a Nautiraid single but plan to purchase a double as soon as I find one I can afford.

Suggested reading:  Complete Folding Kayaker by Ralph Diaz; Alone At Sea - A Doctor's Survival Experiments of Two Atlantic Crossings in a Dugout Canoe and a Folding Kayak by Dr. Hannes Lindemann; Cockleshell Heroes by C. E. Lucas Phillips, (in which WWII British commandos use folding kayaks to attack German ships.) Regards, - Randy in Maine


With regards to Jann's article on folding kayaks, I would like to mention a kayak design that many people are not aware of. After taking a 4-day class on kayak rolling, I felt that there had to be a better kayak design that didn't force you to sit in one position for hours (which is bad for your back), wasn't so tippy, and had a storage area that didn't make you crawl out of the cockpit to reach it. I wondered if there was a catamaran-type kayak and after a web search found it at

It allows for many riding positions and is stable enough to stand up in. Two adults and a child can fit in its huge cockpit. It has many times more storage space than any other kayak. It is the best kayak for fishing big fish because a regular kayak can be dragged until the rider paddles to shore to finish reeling. With the Wavewalk's huge cockpit you simply scoot forward which points the nose down and creates drag. People put all kinds of custom attachments on them like umbrellas and motors. As far as survival kayaking goes, I think it's the ultimate!

Respectfully, - Erik M.

The shorts must be screaming, about now: Gold shoots past record $1,800 an ounce. When I last checked, the silver-to-gold ratio was at 45.4-to-1. Again, if you have the vault space, this is a great time to ratio trade out of your 1 ounce gold coins, and into silver bullion coins. (Such as pre-1965 American "junk" silver.)

Michael W. sent this: A National Debt of $14 Trillion? Try $211 Trillion

More of The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB)?: Government considers turning foreclosures into rentals

G.G. sent this: Ron Paul: "Gold Is Not A Bubble"

From K.A.F.: Economic Uncertainty Leading to Global Unrest

K.A.F. also pointed me to this blog post from a distaff blogger in Eastern Washington: It happened to us, our bank was just "closed" by the FDIC. Shades of the depression

Items from The Economatrix:

Plunge On Wall Street Threatens to Spook Consumers

Fed May React to Market Plunge and Stalled Economy. (Can you smell a whiff of MOAB, on the breeze?)

Oil Tumbles Below $80 Amid US Recession Fears

US Stocks Rise Slightly After Big Fall

Gold Prices Keep Pushing Higher, Hit New Record

Debt Deal Not Downgrade Is Cause Of Crash

File under Emerging Threats: DIY Spy Drone Sniffs Wi-Fi, Intercepts Phone Calls. (Note that if hackers can do this, so can Uncle Sugar.)

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New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

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This looks captivating: MedCallKits™ + 24/7 Telemedicine Line 

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Bob G. mentioned an excellent video by "Okie Prepper" on using calcium hypochlorite for water purification

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Birmingham riots: three men killed 'protecting homes'. There is something especially pitiful about seeing disarmed citizens attempting to defend themselves ( A hat tip to Laura C. for the link.) Meanwhile, in The Daily Mail, we read: Years of liberal dogma have spawned a generation of amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters. And don't miss this slide show: London and UK riots: 50 powerful images

"Always do right; it will gratify some people and astonish the rest." - Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The vehicle I am about to describe does not often come immediately to mind when one thinks of a survival vehicle to be of use during troubled times but bear with me.  The vehicle I have in mind requires no fuel, and no mechanical upkeep. Additionally it offers significant stealth mode and is totally silent. If one is in or near an urban setting such as the San Francisco Bay area or Manhattan or Seattle then this survival vehicle will grant one the power to disappear from the crazed urban crowd scene almost immediately.  No, I’m not talking about some new science fiction device and I am not talking about something that will cost an arm and a leg.  What I am proposing as the ultimate survival vehicle is the simple ocean kayak.  This is a vehicle that can be rented easily in any urban setting by the water and the learning curve is neither long nor steep.  Preferably one might want to select a double [aka "tandem"] configuration kayak, even if one were traveling solo.

Right off the top, an ocean-going kayak requires no fuel, no mechanic, no complicated maintenance and it will take you anywhere on the water.  When one considers that almost 70% of this planet’s surface is covered with water and that a large percentage of the world’s major cities sit on coasts and in harbors then an aquatic vehicle begins to seem like a wise choice. Sailboats have the problem of needing wind as well as relatively deep water to float their keels.  Plus sailboats need yearly maintenance and have many things which can and do break. Power boats with their thirst for fuel are simply out of the question.

Specifically I am proposing a double ocean folding kayak.  Yes, a folding kayak.  These are very useful in that you can slip them into a couple of bags and store them in your closet or the trunk of your car and yet they can be assembled and transport you and an impressive stash of survival supplies across vast oceans in a relative safe and secure manner. These are quite possibly the oldest small boat design in history.  They have been transporting people all over the world for thousands of years.  The Russians used kayaks back in the early 1800’s to travel from Alaska down to San Francisco Bay in search of sea otters to trade with China.  In recent times they have been single handedly used to go from Europe to the Caribbean and even from California to Hawaii.  And these were by lone individuals, with no support group.

Two good qualities of a folding “skin” boat, other than the obvious, is that they are flexible on the ocean and will move as a “living” organism as opposed to a hard shell plastic kayak which will just as often tip over.  One can actually “relax” in a folding kayak.  They may not be as fast as a hard shell boat but then, who’s in a hurry? They will provide a very stable platform from which you can fish and or/dive and you can actually sleep in one without worrying about it tipping over.  Often in a hard shell boat the majority of your effort is spent simply paddling, trying to keep the boat upright! And river kayaks are much too small [to carry a useful load] and are simply not designed to travel in a straight line.

I personally began my ocean kayaking experience on San Francisco Bay. This was an excellent environment to learn to use an open water kayak.  As a survival tool an ocean kayak is uniquely fitted to our current needs. A double open water kayak can carry 600+ pounds in people and cargo.  One can use a sail on extended voyages as well as a sea anchor in storms to stabilize the craft.  Most double kayaks have a rudder system so that all of your attention can be focused on straight ahead paddling. In a sense one can view a double kayak as a truly luxurious back packing alternative.  You can carry all the things you could never carry on your back.  Plus, with a salt water desalinator and appropriate fishing gear one is much more self sufficient.  Additionally there are many food “alternatives” which offer a lot of nutrition in a compact space.  Food items such as “Food Tabs”, compressed food bars such as Datrex, Mainstay, S.O.S., as well as MRE meals and freeze dried meals.  And speaking of MRE meals: they often come with a flameless heating source which merely uses water to activate the heat source.  You can warm your MRE  (or freeze dried meals) in the cockpit of your kayak with no fear of fire (these flameless heating kits are also available from Mountain House). And although a salt water desalinator is comparatively expensive, just look at it like the price of a medium grade pistol.  Sell one of  the extra guns and buy all the free fresh water you can use! It’s a bargain.

Another inexpensive tech item which I find to be very handy in a kayak is a solar battery charger ($29 from  I can charge four AAA, AA, C or D batteries at a time in just a few hours. So I can have light, music, radio, E-book reader, walkie-talkie, et cetera without having to regularly purchase batteries. Chemical light sticks are also very handy at night for traveling and being able to keep other boats in sight without having to rely on battery powered light sources.

Another food source often overlooked is seaweed.  There are many varieties of seaweed and most, if not all are edible and offer a high source of vitamins.  People from China, Japan and Korea (as well as Ireland) have traveled the world for hundreds, if not thousands of years using seaweed as a prime food source. Some seaweed can be as high as 50% protein and it can be easily farmed. Seaweed is also useful in dressing wounds and using as fertilizer in gardens. And, speaking of food on the water, a fine mesh net (like a nylon stocking) can be used to gather small krill and other very small sources of nutrients.  After all, if it’s good enough for a giant blue whale, it can’t be all bad.

Once society, as we know it, collapses and chaos reigns in urban areas I can see a veritable sea kayaking sub-culture arise.  For approximately $3,000, (the price of a cheap used car), one can get totally outfitted with a two person ocean going kayak. In a kayak one can go where sailboats and larger power boats cannot go.  It is possible to create seaside vegetable ["heirloom variety"] gardens in areas inaccessible by either road or larger boats.  It  would be possible in the near future to cruise from Alaska to Baja on the West Coast and have access to fresh food (and fresh water) on an almost daily basis for free. And if one should choose to stay in an area like SF Bay, there are vast open spaces beneath the city docks and streets that are only accessible by small craft such as kayaks and these “invisible” places offer a secure place to sleep or leave your craft for a limited time while you explore the surface world.

A few years ago, as a test of some of my ideas I went on a six week kayak trip down the inner coast of the Baja Peninsula with three others.  We used only what we carried, had no support system and had a wonderful experience.

Summary of A Plan:

  1. Get a folding double ocean kayak such as a Folbot, Greenland II.  They have a yearly substantial sale each November. (Get the expedition model with a sail.)
  2. Get a saltwater hand desalinator from West Marine. (Sell a spare gun, if need be).
  3. Get a solar battery charger. Don’t forget the rechargeable batteries. ($29 for the solar charger from Emergency Essentials.)
  4. Get a vacuum packed 2/3 of an acre worth of varied heirloom vegetable seeds. In this #10 can you get 16 non-hybrid variety of seeds. This should be enough to start gardens in three or four places which will be inaccessible to cars and/or other larger boats. ($43 from Emergency Essentials.)
  5. Get a ECTACO Jetbook Mini. It is the only e-book reader that runs on AAA batteries.  I have used mine on a daily basis for 90 days before having to replace the batteries. That way you can carry over 3,000 full length books and/or any other plain text documents with an inexpensive 2 GB SD memory card.
  6. Get the coastal charts for the areas you may be traveling through as well as the USGS maps for the adjoining coastal land.
  7. Pick up six Midland or Motorola handheld walkie-talkies. Over the ocean they will work for an astonishing distance and will run for hours and hours on AA batteries.
  8. Don’t forget your MP-3 player (one that runs on AAA batteries) and make it a rule that ANY electronic device use batteries that can be recharged from your solar recharge unit.

Consider these to be “extras” to be added to your normal “grab and go” and “camping gear”. For additional food items I would highly recommend Emergency Essentials. And for regular “survival gear” I would recommend Major Surplus and Sportsman's Guide.

JWR Adds: For longer distance travel and certainly for any kayaking on the open ocean, I would recommend getting a kayak equipped with outriggers. These add tremendously to the craft's stability.

This article is intended to assist our fellow preppers with marksmanship. I have realized that with all the new interest in the prepper movement we have those that have never handled a firearm among us!  I will start at the very basic level to help form a good foundation to build upon. For some this will be too basic or boring, however, they may see something of use. Some of this will also be story telling. I want the reader to get the "feel" for shooting, not just the science.

If you are new to firearms or less than an expert please give the following a read and see if you can give it a try. By building the proper skills with better methods you can be shooting better, sooner, and for less money. The skill of marksmanship can become a hobby, put food on the table, and save you or your family from those that would do harm so lets get some training going.

Why should you read this and follow what is suggested? Long ago, in a place far, far away I had the great honor of an assignment to the USAMU (Army Marksmanship Unit, or Army Shooting Team). For the sake of OPSEC some details will be skipped but lets say I had some experience along the way. I have to add that the Army did help polish my marksmanship skills but I arrived there an expert and it was all self taught to that point. The marksmanship instruction at basic training was unfortunately lacking back then. The final polish came from the coaches and peers at the elite USAMU.

I must give the safety brief: Misuse of a firearm is dangerous. It can result in property damage, serious injury and death. Always use hearing and eye protection. Treat firearms as if they are loaded. Keep firearms pointed in a safe direction and have a proper backstop for the ammunition being used. If you do not have a basic understanding of firearms and safe use of them then you should seek a basic safety class or other qualified training.

Terms used in this article include:

  • Sight (s) - the fixtures or attachment which is viewed through to aim at the target.
  • Sight Picture - the alignment of the sights and target as viewed by the shooter.
  • Trigger - the lever or device which will initiate the discharge of the firearm.
  • Bullseye - the very center ring of a target, maximum score area.
  • Group - a set of bullet holes on a target, usually 3 or 5 to a set.
  • Recoil - the rearward propulsion of the firearm as the bullet is fired.
  • Flinch - an involuntary reaction to the recoil of a firearm.
  • Safety - usually a push button or level which prevents or allows a firearm to be discharged.

It has been my anecdotal observation that we humans want the best, coolest, and biggest goodie. Functional and practical need not apply. We also want it new and we want it now. This is true of me too! Unfortunately this is usually the wrong way. That "arm chair commando" with a Barrett .50 BMG can't hit a target at 200 yards but my .308 will reach out and touch someone at 800 yards. Skill wins. That skill starts by learning basics and building a solid foundation: Crawl, walk, run.

Get started with a BB gun or an Airsoft gun. Why get a BB gun? You can shoot it in your house if you live in an area that is not suitable to shooting outside. It is quiet. It is very inexpensive to shoot. There is no recoil to cause you to develop a flinch. I suggest a spring cocked BB gun such as the Daisy Buck or a manually compressed air type like I learned on, the Crosman 760 Pumpmaster. We are not looking to take big game just yet...what you need here is not fancy or powerful. This is the time to learn sight picture and trigger control. Oh, and if you learn on iron sights (not an optic) you can always advance later. If you start on an optic it will be difficult and frustrating to go back to the irons. Also get a proper target. There are hard foam target blocks and metal traps for BB gun shooting.

Now that you have acquired a functional BB gun let's look at the sights. A blade sight has a single post in the front and two blades in the rear (also called a notch). For proper sight picture the top edge of the front sight should be placed between and even to the rear sight blades (or in the notch). The top of the three should be even and then placed in the center of the target. A peep sight will be similar except the rear sight is a circle. The top edge of the front sight goes in the center of the circle and that is then centered on the target. This sounds unusual, however, you now focus on the front sight. You should notice that the rear sight is slightly out of focus and the target will blur. This is crucial for later and you need to build the habit now. The issue is that your eye will focus to a specific distance like a camera. An object closer will be clear while one in the distance will be blurred. For practical marksmanship the front sight is clearly in focus while the rear sight is slightly out of focus and the target is not in focus. Simply center the sights in the blurred target.

Holding your BB gun in the beginning should be done from a comfortable position. A good method at this point is while seated at a table. Just place your elbows on the table about shoulder width apart. Keep your finger off the trigger. Now with the stock against your shoulder you should look down the sights and see where the BB gun is pointed. Set your target up at that height about 10 feet away. We will see where the sights are set.

Verify you have a safe backstop and there is no one at risk and nothing there to get broken. Use eye protection. Use hearing protection if appropriate. Follow the loading instructions and use the lowest power setting possible. Don't forget the safety. Place the center of the first pad of your trigger finger on the trigger. From a normal full breath, let the breath half way out and hold. Aim and then draw the trigger straight back while keeping the sight picture. Trigger control, also called trigger squeeze, is crucial. If you hold your breath too long you will start to shake and maybe get blurred vision. Just start over. After this first shot you need to verify the BB is somewhere on the target. If not, check that you loaded a BB in the gun. You can maybe move the target closer or add additional targets around the first (making a larger target) to see where the BB is going.

When you locate the hole from the BB and see that it is anywhere on the target you should shoot 3 more times. These three shots should be in succession and will be a "group". At this point you should be able to follow the instructions to adjust the sights if the group is not centered around the bullseye. If the group is a bit wide or erratic you should not be concerned. With repeated practice and following the fundamentals the group will get smaller in size (called tight). When you get the group tight, maybe 1 inch, then move the target back another foot. Repeat the process. Add more power or pump the pressure higher as needed for the distance.

You are now getting three things from this basic exercise: 1. maintaining proper sight picture while you 2. practice trigger control and 3. shooting without developing a flinch. These are the rock solid foundation of marksmanship. The more time you invest in building these good habits is the better a marksman you will become.
Once you feel confident, you can move on to other firing positions such as prone or kneeling, and later advance to a larger caliber. I very highly recommend stepping your way up to the desired caliber, such as .22, then .223, then .308 or a similar size. Come back to a small caliber sometimes to keep the fundamentals working for you. What can happen by moving to a larger caliber too fast is that you will develop a flinch.

To polish your skills and find what you are doing wrong:
Reduced size targets: Instead of moving your targets further away, just make them smaller. A great example is the 25 meter M16 zero target. The target is a 300 meter target scaled down to be used to 25 meters. IMHO you can learn a lot more seeing your hits and misses at 25 meters instead of having no idea what happened 300 meters away. Once you master the smaller target then you can move your targets out further.

Checking trigger control: When I was in the Army there was an exercise to check your trigger control. It was called the "dime and washer" drill. The drill required an assistant. Verify your rifle is unloaded and cocked. Take a prone position holding the rifle like you are ready to shoot. Your assistant inserts a cleaning rod into the barrel 10-15 inches with a few inches left exposed. The assistant then balances a dime on the cleaning rod and lets go. You should be able to pull the trigger (audible click) dropping the hammer on the firing pin without the dime falling off.

Checking for flinch: There is a product usually called a "snap cap" and also sometimes called a dummy round. They can be used several ways but for this practice you should be at the range and ready to shoot. Have an assistant load the magazine for you without you seeing. The snap cap should be mixed in with the live ammunition. When the person firing gets to the snap cap and squeezes the trigger everyone will see how much flinch they have developed. Small caliber practice and dry-fire drills with the snap caps can be used to correct the bad habit.

FWIW: I had no formal firearms instruction as a youth. I got to shoot a few rounds through a relatives handgun once and shot a BB gun a few times. The big event came when I was given a BB gun as a gift. It was  Crosman 760 PumpMaster. With no formal instruction I was left to learn the concepts of trigger control and sight picture on my own. The Crosman had an excellent trigger and no recoil so I did not develop bad habits while shooting it. Many years later, right around the time of a major competitive event, my Mother asked me if I remembered how I learned to shoot. I was a bit puzzled because no one taught me to shoot. She said "you used to shoot the bees". I had forgot that we had a problem with the wood boring bees around the old farm house when I was growing up. I practiced and learned to shoot the bees out of the air!

Hi Jim;
I stumbled across the idea of fuel briquetting while on an appropriate technology web site and have found the idea is very popular in the developing world, particularly in areas where wood for fuel is scarce.

Most of us are familiar with the formed charcoal briquettes used in barbecues, and you can use charcoal in this type of press, but practically anything burnable can be used to create briquettes: straw, grass clippings, rice hulls, paper, sawdust, leaves, animal dung… use your imagination! The end result will look different depending on your source material, but all will get the job done (see sample briquettes from around the world, here). The briquettes are closer to the formed Pres-to-Logs you can find in grocery stores in the U.S., which are made of sawdust, though most handmade briquettes are smaller than the commercial logs.

For those who live in the grasslands, a high desert area or a lightly-wooded place, the means to make fuel can be invaluable. Knowing how to make briquettes can also be a valuable trade skill (using your equipment to produce briquettes from the agri-waste of others) or the means to create a valuable trade good (finished briquettes for sale). It would be a great business to pair with a sawmill.

Here's a PDF of plans for a hand-operated press frame.

YouTube is a fantastic resource for homemade briquette press ideas. There seem to be a lot of folks who have put a lot of thought into different designs. Some use bottle jacks for the needed pressure, but there are many human powered designs.

Here is a very small sampling of ideas in use:

Although my retreat location is wooded, it would not produce enough fuel for an extended period. Having a means to create fuel from what the trees drop naturally could be a helpful thing.

Blessings, - Jason R.

Mr. Rawles,

I read CentOre's article with great interest and believe he and his group are well on the way to success.  I have a possible solution to what he listed as his greatest issue:

"A more realistic problem in our area involves the numerous one ton, four wheel drive, jacked up trucks.  Our goal for them remains to slow or delay their progress within reasonable shooting distances. "

May I recommend a classic defense that has been in use against infantry and cavalry for centuries and motorized vehicles more recently called the abatis.  I think this fits in perfectly with his setup. - Bumboy

The global markets are in such flux that the spot price of gold has risen above the spot price of platinum. These are indeed unusual times!

A headline that we saw coming: Fed forced to consider fresh stimulus. (Only in the mind of Ben Bernanke is "more spending" the solution to a crisis created by overspending .)

Steve K. suggested a video that is well worth watching: Jim Sinclair interviewed by James Turk. (Jim Sinclair is usually quite terse in his writings, so it is great to hear him speak at greater length.)

Can you spell "Plunge Protection Team"? Stocks End Sharply Higher, Dow Surges 400

10 Reasons Why Gold is the Gut Reaction and Why Silver is the Smart Decision

S&P Downgrades Fannie and Freddie Credit Ratings, Other Agencies Tied to U.S. Dollar

John T. liked this piece by Greg Hunter: Brace for Impact

Also from John, a piece by Andrew Schiff: The Center of Gravity Shifts Slowly

G&K recommended some commentary by Jonathan Sherman at the Forbes site: U.S. Dollar Is The Next Financial Shoe To Drop

Items from The Economatrix:

America "Makes The Cut" -- What Happens Next?

World Markets Braced For Flight To Safety

Federal Reserve Openly Targets Dollar Demise

London riots: breakdown of Monday night's violence. (Two observations from JWR: 1.) A lot of these "youths" appear to be in their 20s and 30s, and, 2.) If the rioting is this severe on such a slight pretense, then what will things be like in the midst of economic collapse, later in the decade?) It is high time to take the gap!

   o o o

You can't blame these Turkish shop owners in London's Dalston for arming themselves. Video: London Riots: Shop-owners defend their businesses in east London. (Riotguns would of course be better, but this is England.) And here is a related article: London riots: residents fight back. (Also with a video clip.)

   o o o

Note the hot sellers in England on Baseball bats, batons, et cetera. (The Cold Steel Pocket Shark pen was recommend here on SurvivalBlog as a covert self defense weapon. It is best for travelers to sand off the pen's markings to be the most discreet.)

   o o o

For any who have doubts about a Christian's role vis-a-vis government authority, I recommend the new book Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission. It was co-authored by Pastor Chuck Baldwin and his son Timothy Baldwin. They share my view that it is our Christian duty to respect and submit to good government, but to resist wicked rulers. The book is also available via Kindle.

"The only things of value which we have at present are our arms and our courage. So long as we keep our arms we fancy that we can make good use of our courage; but if we surrender our arms we shall lose our lives as well." - Xenophon, The Persian Expedition

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Not everyone can find or afford a solidly built brick home with fittings to hang bullet-proof shutters and doors.
We agree with the bulk of the writings we have read concerning the ‘non-defensibility’ of the average United States home.  Our group has choices as to which house will become ‘The Retreat’ for the entire group when the SHTF.  Our group’s consensus is our ‘Primary’ retreat will probably be a 2,600 square foot triple-wide ranch style manufactured home.  It has three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a living room and family room.   There is an adequate kitchen with a totally inadequate pantry.  Two of the three outside doors have glass panels in them, and there are the normal large windows throughout.  While designed for up to six persons, we figure we can bunk up to fourteen before hot bunking or spreading out to one or more buildings may have to come into play.

Weather is a constant factor.  We may have snow on the ground for up to seven months of the year, but generally only four or five months.  The accumulated depth of snow is more important that the ‘total inches per year’.  Roof snow loads are taken seriously here with most homes having at least one ‘snow rake’ for roof snow removal.  We look at snow as a definite defensive plus.  It’s cold outside, but we have collected all the wood stoves we will need just by offering to haul them away where people put them in their front yards.

We are a group with many and varied backgrounds.  While three of us are retired military, and another couple of people are military brats, none of us have training in on-the-ground defensive and offensive strategies and/or tactics.  Therefore we expect there are many holes in what I write here today.  We welcome and look forward to constructive criticism.  Our general situation is we live in a rather remote area.  The local town boasts a population of over 1,000.  That must be at the height of tourist season on a particularly warm and sunny day.  Our area’s population is spread out over an area of about forty square miles.  That forty square miles includes quite a bit of State, Federal (both Forest Service and BLM) lands intermixed with homes on private lands.  As much as pre-planning will allow, the group has made the decision the house above will become our primary home/retreat.  The primary is situated in a section (one square mile) of privately held land. Surrounding this section on three sides are empty sections owned by the U.S. Government.  The fourth side is bounded by a small river with water that carries cold mountain run-off.

Existing house attributes
There is a two and a half mile long ‘private’ drive from the county road with no through traffic.  House spacing in the area is 300 feet or more.  There are only about 100 homes with a total of 225 lots in a full section of 640 acres.  Most of the homes are occupied by retired couples who ‘snowbird’, leaving their homes empty four to seven months out of the year.  Some of the homes are vacation cabins owned by people in our nearest metro areas.  Metro areas are two and a half or four hours away depending on which metro we talk about.

The particulars of Primary are: a total linear dimension at eve line = 240 feet, with a cement side walk on all but one short side.  Sidewalk length = 180 feet.  The three foot wide sidewalk is set out from the building foundation three feet creating a flower bed.           

Existing shop building attributes
There is a steel clad ‘shop’ building within thirty feet of the Primary with an overall perimeter length of 190 feet.  The shop building is three story structure.  The third story is a 21' x 24' ‘apartment’.  The lower two stories are lined with built-in, very sturdy shelving that is 24 inches deep and three feet of height between each shelf.  This shelving is continuous the full length of two walls and full height of the walls.  The shop building will sleep sixteen people with no modification. Therefore we have an immediate ability to sleep up to thirty persons.

There is a 48” wide concrete side walk between back door of house and side door of shop.  Over half the perimeter of the house and shop buildings is gravel, and or scarified pumice/sand ground from 0 to thirty feet out from the perimeter walls.  There is very little vegetation immediately adjacent to these walls.   Looking 30 to 60 feet out, there is moderate vegetation all in the form of Jack Pines that are 30 to 50 feet tall. 

Reasoning: Needs of the group           
Security of group versus ability to observe outward must be balanced in such a way that neither is compromised.  We needed to find a way to ‘harden’ the buildings while maintaining our ability to observe our surroundings from inside the structures and lookout points.  In addition we felt we needed a separate medical and/or ‘stranger’ quarantine area for up to 5 persons.

Anticipated size of the group

 While our planning is for up to 30 people one never knows what the real number might be until TEOTWAWKI actually arrives.  Therefore our pre-planning includes bedding up to fifteen additional persons during times of transition.  Such as a) TEOTWAWKI; b) Cross-training with other groups; c) Housing transient members of other groups.  This would put a strain on our logistics manager and staff.  We only anticipate and pre-plan for this large a number for very short periods of time.

Lay of the Land out 500 yards

Our area is basically flat with no topographic features except lots of trees for at least a mile in every direction.  Local topographic maps have contour lines at fifty foot intervals.  The contour lines can be from a half a mile to as much as a full mile apart in this area.  Even though the terrain is flat, it is elevated and there is no possibility of flooding.

Lay of the Land 500 to 1,000 yards

Area is basically flat with the area north-westerly beyond 700 yards falling away to a small barrier river.  Most of this area, while wooded, has been thinned to reduce the possibility of forest fires spreading.  This significantly enhances visibility for look-outs.

Lay of the Land 1,000 yards to one mile

Area is basically flat with the area west-northwesterly beyond 700 yards including the barrier river and a large area beyond the barrier river.  This zone includes thinned areas and many dense patches of timber that remain un-thinned.


Local Materials available
The primary local, natural building material consists of Jack Pine, and Lodge Pole Pine, lots of Lodge Pole Pine!  It is the dominant vegetation for many miles around our location with Jack Pine a close second.  For the purposes of this paper I will lump the two species together and just call them ‘pine’.  When one is handed lemons one should make lemonade.  We have decided that pine will be our primary ‘hardening’ material.  Also, we have an unlimited supply of pumice sand.  Both the pine poles and the pumice are easily transported as neither are heavy.  Another local material, although not naturally occurring, is barbed wire.  We have in excess of six miles of barbed wire within a mile and a half radius centered on our primary.  While not razor wire, properly positioned barbed wire can still put a dent in someone’s day.

We see a need to create lanes of fire to channelize attackers into kill zones we are doing this through the selective removal of pines.  We are leaving ‘wedges’ of trees between our fire lanes.  By immediate appearance these will be ‘safe areas’ for attackers.  Upon close arrival anyone who plans on using the wedges as cover will find broken glass, nail boards, and barbed wire used concertina style.  The work is pretty well done on the land we control, and, we are in position rapidly to extend them when TEOTWAWKI arrives.

Another consideration in our area is forest fire.  We withstand one or two forest fires nearly every summer within a twenty-five mile radius of our retreat.  Through our selective removal of trees to enhance and/or create fire zones relative to fire points, we will also be greatly increasing our fire survivability.  We deal further with fire fighting below.

Plans and Methods:
The need to create and place obstacles dovetails nicely with our need to accumulate fire wood.  The majority of pine poles will be up-rooted.  The root balls are needed for strategic obstacle placement.  Root balls of the pine are generally three to four feet in diameter and usually extend down into the ground no more that 24 inches, with the exception of the tap root which may go down much further.  When pulled from the ground and with the main stem trimmed as closely as possible to the root ball these units become quite stable when turned 90 degrees.  Further, the remaining roots are tough twelve to twenty-four inch projections that become very hard when exposed to air.  When trimmed at an angle with loping shears at about the ¾ inch diameter mark they become formidable obstacles.  Further, when tied down into rows they become a people tight obstacle that provides no offensive cover.  That is, we can see and shot objects that attempt to conceal behind root balls.  The primary trunk will be cut to a length of 12 to 14 feet, with an average diameter of 5 inches.  The balance if the tree [tip] will be set aside for now.  The poles will then be set in the dirt along the outside edge of the side walk, with their upper ends leaning against the outer wall of the retreat at the soffit.  Any poles deemed unfit [twisted trunk, woodpecker nest holes, etc.] will be set aside for fire wood.  Entrance areas will have layered logs that resemble the fence and gates in a bull fighting arena.

We estimate the need for 660 poles averaging 4 to 6 inches in diameter to completely ‘stockade’ the retreat house.  We suspect we will be processing about two thousand trees initially for firewood and firing lanes.  Once the stockade is completed we will begin to make firewood in earnest.

To augment our firewood collecting, the surrounding government lands hold many ‘burn piles’.  These are piles of cut and broken tree material deemed not usable commercially.  An average burn pile contains around six cords of wood.  We can, with minimum effort glean a cord or two of very dry firewood off of each pile.
All firewood will be ricked inside the stockade and against the outside of the primary’s walls in the area earlier referred to as the ‘flower bed’ area.  Ricked firewood will be cut in 16 inch lengths.   If we rick to only six feet the retreat perimeter will hold over seven cord of wood.  We anticipate needing up to six cord per year for heating and cooking.  We will make a minimum of ten cords per year just in case our calculations prove wrong.  Additional firewood will be ricked on the first two tiers of shelving in the shop building.  There will no visible [outside] change to the shop in doing this.

The lower three feet of the stockade will be bermed with the pumice sand for added stability and projectile ‘catching’, and to slow any attempts to remove them.
All in all we have a layered defensive perimeter of 5 inch pine poles, separated from the ricked wood by about four feet of dead air space.  The 16 inches of ricked wood will in turn is backed by the 6 inch wall of the primary structure. Our 16 inches of wood will be accepting lead donations end-on.  Research supports our common belief [but still possibly wrong] this should stop run of the mill rifle and pistol rounds of up to .50 caliber.

Once this defense is finished we will turn our attention to the pine pole tips we set aside earlier.  Their size will be approximately 5 inches at their butts, tapering to 0 at the tip.  Loping shears and hand saws will be used to trim limbs from this main stem tips, leaving 12 to 16 inches of each limb attached to the main stem.  These limbs will then be trimmed to create sharp points.  When the main stem diameter reduces to around two inches the stem will be cut and turned into pine sap rich kindling. Some of the larger cut of limbs will then be reserved for individual sharpened sticks, with the balance turned into more kindling.

The sharpened ‘group sticks’ will be 8 to 15 feet long.  They can be laid out randomly, or with the small end of one stick overlapping the large end of the next stick, wired together to make a continuous barricade as long as is needed.  We have completed a little more than a dozen root balls and ‘sharpened tips’.  They have cured out to be very tough and remain quite sharp. A couple in our group have a 30 foot Class “C” motor home.  They have ceded its use by our group as a stranger/visitor, or ‘quarantine space’.  It can be strategically parked and be in full view at all times of the person manning the OP/LP.  The motor home can berth and support five people. Well, perhaps six, if they are very good friends!

We have completed two PSYOPS ‘kits’.  They are ready to deploy at TEOTWAWKI.  To deploy before then would only rile up the sparse neighborhood. It is my task to be keeping the contents of the kits current with the times between now and ‘then’.

‘Tank’ Traps
Our primary defense against a motor vehicle supported assault is, and will continue to be, the strategic management of standing timber.  While we are hardening our retreat we will remain constantly aware of which trees to take and which trees to leave.  We recognize there will not be sufficient timber to totally stop a vehicle.  However, it is anticipated the combination of standing timber and other ‘directional aids’ such as root balls, etc. will slow most vehicles or channel them into prepared traps where  they may be dealt with on a prioritized basis.

Tools on hand or available:
Saws, axes, pruning saws and loping shears have been and will continue to be our primary tools to perform this work.  Axes, saws and shears all require different tools and methods to make them and keep them sharp.  Not only does a sharp tool perform better than a dull one, but a sharp tool is less likely to contribute to accidental injuries. Files, whetstones and other hand held tools are generally quite small and, therefore, easily misplaced.  A file ‘misplaced’ and left outside for even one night’s morning dew will effectively end its useful life as a sharpening instrument.  You cannot have too many sharpening backup options.  The old ‘three is two’ argument applies here quite well.

Use of Water:           

Installed roof sprinkler system
Living in a very high risk forest fire area, combined with my personal background search and rescue and fire fighting we are very conscious of fire control.  We anticipate that fire prevention is out of our control since all of our fires seem to start on nearby National Forest or BLM Land.  Therefore, we are concentrating on control.  First, land clearing created by the stockading of the retreat will greatly increase the horizontal retreat-to-timber distance.  Next we have installed farm and ranch grade pulse sprinklers [one maker of these sprinkler heads is Rainbird] on the roofs of the shop building, the main house, and the greenhouse.  The three sprinklers are strategically placed to provide overlapping coverage to keep all roof surfaces wetted, as well wetting surrounding trees and ground covers.  By extension, they also keep our defensive works wetted.  When placed at an average roof height of about sixteen feet above ground level, and at normal water pressure from our own well, we create an 85 foot ‘wetting radius’.  These ‘fire preventers’ have been installed on the Primary’s dwellings for many years, and tested at least annually.  There is a gasoline fired generator tied in via a cross-over switch so we are not reliant on our public utility district for firefighting water.  The generator is tested monthly.  In addition only alcohol free gasoline that has been ‘Stabil-ized’ is ever used in the generator.           

Creation and placement of “portable” ponds
We live in a semi-arid area.  Some people call it an actual desert.  Water is generally at a premium.  However, we are fortunate to have good drinking and plant water 13 to 18 feet below the surface.  Therefore, we have figured water into our defenses.  Through the creative use of barrier materials we expect to have some control over approach paths that attackers might use.  We believe in stockpiling to quite a degree.  Some of the items we stockpile are 100 foot by 50 foot rolls of 10 mil clear and black plastic.  When you keep the unopened boxes away from temperature extremes and sunlight this type plastic will store for years.  Taking advantage of our very flat terrain the use of some shallow ‘ponds’ figure in our defenses. 

Using pine root balls, pine sharpened sticks, smooth and barbed wire, we will funnel attackers into narrow defiles that have “wading puddles” that are about a foot deep, and too broad to jump across as the only path of advancement.  So, what use is this?  Well, according to the National Weather Service we only have thirty ‘frost free’ nights per year.  Most nights will give our ponds at least skim ice.  A lot of the time our ponds will be mini skating rinks.  Getting wet in this terrain and altitude will most likely contribute to hypothermia at the very least.  So, by combining our defensive works to funnel attackers into certain, narrow areas, insuring those narrow areas are centered on firing lanes from our positions, and causing attackers to meet a water barrier at the time we are able to increase our effective fire may act as enough of a deterrent to cause people to think twice about coming closer.  We hope so, but are not counting on it.           

Garden hose use in fire fighting
Garden hoses are usually shunned when firefighters talk of structure fires.  While most of my personal fire fighting has been confined to ships, aircraft and oil field structures, I offer the following:  A garden hose with normal household water pressure equipped with a nozzle that creates a solid stream can be quite useful.  The solid stream is needed to get the greatest range.  The water stream is directed to the base of the fire just as one should do using a CO2 extinguisher.  When the stream comes in contact with the burning material the water will flash to steam and rise.  This conversion from liquid to steam pulls the heat out of the fire, cooling the fire and, therefore, reducing its rate of spreading.  This can gain you valuable minutes while you wait for additional help to arrive.  Others recommend a fine spray type nozzle based on what a firefighter would use.  Firefighters use the spray pattern quite often.  The difference is, they are using firefighting equipment that is probably delivering at least 60 PSI at 60 GPM.  Their spray nozzle can project water about as far as you can with a small solid stream from your garden hose.  It will still gain you time.

Finally, one must keep everything in proper perspective.  One of our group is always coming up with things like,”Yes, but what if they fly in and hit us with napalm?  We’re all gonna be dead.”  Our response is generally to concede that enough napalm will in fact ruin our day.  But then we point out that all we are doing, and all we can do is attempt to increase the odds of survival in any given situation.  A more realistic problem in our area involves the numerous one ton, four wheel drive, jacked up trucks.  Our goal for them remains to slow or delay their progress within reasonable shooting distances. We are a group of like minded preppers who strive to be as ready as possible when TEOTWAWKI descends upon us.  We feel one of our greatest strengths lie in understanding there is much information out there that we don’t know.  We continuously strive to explore new subjects and hold regular training and “Table-Top Scenario” sessions for all members.

I recently received an e-mail that perturbed me. In reply to my e-mail releasing the right to re-post an article from SurvivalBlog, a gent (who shall remain nameless) mentioned:

"Personally, I don't believe in copyrights because nobody can truly own ideas, thoughts or words..."

To which, I replied:

Do you really believe that?  Let me politely set you straight:  When I write a novel, that is my intellectual property.  Each book that I write represents the fruit of my intellect, and is the end result of thousands of hours of my work. 

Without a limited-term copyright, strangers could rob me of part or all of the livelihood that my books generate. Writing is not just a hobby for me. My novels are in fact my main source of income.  I cannot feed my family on just kind thoughts and repeated verses of Kumbaya! 

Further, what good is my current contract with Simon & Schuster to write two novels over the course of 25 months, if anyone could immediately circulate pirated copies (in either hard copy or soft copy), just after they are released? 

My intellectual property is just as much "mine" as the land that I own and live on--the same land where I grow my garden and where I raise my cattle. In essence, I look at book pirates the same way as I do cattle thieves.

You really think that I cannot hold the right to call my written works "mine", just because they are books, rather than your car, your house, your invention, or your factory?  Property is property, regardless!

Monday's headline at the The Drudge Report proclaimed: BARACKALYPSE NOW. On Monday, following a losing week, stocks on the Dow dropped another 631 points. The spot price of gold jumped 3% to touch an all-time intra-day high of $1,720 per ounce, and then $1,723 in after-hours trading. And since silver is considered more of an industrial metal than gold, it drifted downward to just $38.65 per ounce. These atypical disparate moves in silver and gold brought the silver-to-gold ratio to a whopping 44-to-1. In my opinion, this is now a great time to ratio trade out of gold and into silver. And, FWIW, I've been taking my own advice on that, since Friday. (I was a busy boy at the gun show last Friday, buying guns and ammo as well as swapping several gold American Eagles for pre-1965 dimes, quarters, and halves.) If you've been dawdling, now is the time to get your family preparations squared away.

Over at Lew Rockwell's site: Greenspan Comes Clean and Endorses the 'Zimbabwe-Weimar Solution'

K.A.F. flagged this: Bank of America: S&P May Downgrade US Again in November

Sue C. sent this: Dollar to drop on S&P, flows seen to safe assets

The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) continues to grow: Fannie Mae to Taxpayers: We Need Another $5.1 Billion. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

I smell even more MOAB coming: USPS posts $3.1 billion loss in Q3, warns of default

Sam H. sent this: U.S. Debt downgrade doesn't mean what you think.

Pierre M. sent this: Beneath Jobs Report Surface Lie Some Ugly Truths

Courtesy of Sue C.: Gas prices expected to fall in coming weeks

Items from The Economatrix:

Food Stamps Use Surges By Most In Years as Alabama Food Stamps Recipients Double in May

Gerald Celente:  "Economic Martial Law Will Be Declared"

D.R. sent this: Bank of America is Just the Start of Paulson's Problems: Behold.... Citigroup. D.R. 's comment: "This article notes that several of these large financial institutions are now getting clobbered and are also big holders of gold. They may be forced to sell rapidly, thus the warning of short term 20-30% losses in gold (and possibly silver). If this happens it could be the last big 'buy the dip' opportunity before everything hits the fan."

Sue C. recommended some commentary from Steve McCann: The Bitter Fruit of Insolvency

Fed Takes Spotlight as Recession Fears Loom

Investors Resigned to More Portfolio Pain

Treasury Prices Jump as Stocks Plummet

US Debt Downgrade Could Mean Rate Hikes For All

Dow Plunges More Than 600 Points After Downgrade

This piece from Switzerland has SurvivalBlog written all over it: Turning army forts into private homes. (OBTW, see the photo links at the bottom of this post in our archives. Fascinating, clever camouflage!)

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Some great commentary from Patrice Lewis: Man the lifeboats!

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Freeze Dry Guy has an August special on original military rations including Granola with Milk & Bananas and Granola with Milk & Blueberries, packed 60 Mylar pouches per case , at $119 per case, with even deeper multi-case discounts available.

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No doubt this abuse of power will result in a Streisand Effect boost in viewership: Cartoonist Targeted With Criminal Probe For Mocking Police

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Joshua pointed me to an awesome web page for pickling and canning

"Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man's right to the product of his mind. Every type of productive work involves a combination of mental and of physical effort: of thought and of physical action to translate that thought into a material form. The proportion of these two elements varies in different types of work. At the lowest end of the scale, the mental effort required to perform unskilled manual labor is minimal. At the other end, what the patent and copyright laws acknowledge is the paramount role of mental effort in the production of material values; these laws protect the mind's contribution in its purest form: the origination of an idea. The subject of patents and copyrights is intellectual property. ... Thus the law establishes the property right of a mind to that which it has brought in existence." - Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Monday, August 8, 2011

Please hold off until October 4th to order my new novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". By concentrating all of the orders on the release day (the "Book Bomb Day"), I hope to help propel the book into Amazon's Top 100. Thanks! OBTW: Yes, at $15.98 it is priced higher than "Patriots", but this is because it will first be released in a hardback binding. I've seen the cover artwork, and it is stunning. (The publisher should soon be releasing the cover art for promotional purposes. I'll post it then.) The Kindle edition will sell for $10.99. I should also mention that Reggie (a.k.a. "DEMCAD") has already posted a narrated review of the novel on YouTube.)

One of the drawbacks of owning an HK USP Compact .45 ACP is that the largest standard magazine for it holds just 10 rounds, and to date, none of the magazine makers produce anything larger. This puts the HK at a disadvantage to guns like the Glock Model 30. (Which can of course accept the longer Glock M21 magazines that hold 13 rounds.) Sadly, since they use substantially different frame form factors, the HK USP Compact .45s cannot accept the fatter HK full-size USP .45 ACP magazines, which are made up to 12 round capacity.

But now, after a bit of gentle prodding from your editor, Taylor Freelance in Washington now makes a 4-round "Rawles Special" magazine extension for the 10-round HK USP Compact .45 ACP magazine. These are precision machined from solid aluminum and provide 14+1 capacity. The prototypes that Taylor custom made for me have functioned flawlessly. Installing them took just a couple of minutes, per magazine. No modification to the magazine body is required. Since the HK 45C uses the same magazine, these extensions will also work with the HK 45C pistol. Also note that they will not work with the eight-round magazine, since it has a different method of floorplate attachment.

At $55 each (with a long spring provided for each), these extensions could be considered "spendy", especially when you consider that the HK factory 10 round magazines that these fit on cost around $45 each, just to start. However, when your life is on the line and you need couple of extended spare magazines as backups for your USP Compact, then these could put you in that in omnia paratus comfort zone. They could also be very useful for competitive shooters. (Among other things, their bit of extra weight makes fast, positive magazine ejection a certainty.)

See the Taylor Freelance web site for their magazine extensions and other products for Glocks, SIGs, CZs, S&W M&Ps, and Beretta CX4s. (For example, their "+4" extensions for Glock 21 magazines are very popular.) Note: The 4-round "Rawles Special" extension for the HK USP Compact .45 ACP 10 round magazine is not yet a cataloged item, so call them at: (360) 733-5649 for ordering details. Since these are special order items, you can expect a two month lead time.

Proviso: Installing one of these on a 10 round magazine in California, or in Canada and in many other hoplophobic magazine-deprived locales could land you in a heap of legal trouble.

Disclaimer (Per FTC File No. P034520): Taylor Freelance is not a SurvivalBlog advertiser. They have not solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, nor have they provided me any free or reduced-price gear in exchange for this review, nor will I receive any remuneration from their sales of the product. (I paid full retail for my mag extensions.)

There are some things in life that you just can’t go cheap on, and there are others that you can. This is an area that is mixed. As many other posts and reviews will tell you, a good survival knife is an invaluable tool that you absolutely cannot go cheap on. Going to Wal-Mart and buying the “Made in China” cheapo knife is going to potentially hurt you WTSHTF. Don’t do that, please don’t. But, with medical equipment, price does not equal performance. Most medical equipment is dirt cheap because it is nearly all disposable these days. That’s okay, medical equipment tends to get medical goop on it which you want to throw away rather than recycle. Let’s backtrack a little bit and do some explanations. Knives are for hunting, fishing, and cutting. They are not for medical use. They are too big, too thick, and too dangerous for medical work.

Blades [of the sort that I use] are for medical use. Most blades are also called scalpels, but I prefer the term blade because of the numbers assigned to them in medicine. An 11 blade is pointed and quite useful for incision and drainage of abscesses. Even without any numbing medication, and 11 blade can be one quick, painful stab towards a cure. A 10 or 15 blade has a rounded edge and is best for actually having to “cut” a person for a variety of medical reasons. Making incisions, operations, cutting out infected tissue, to name a few. Both types of blades are readily available online through places like (nice picture of both types found on this page) or farm supply stores.

Any good craft store also has replaceable blades like X-acto brand that work perfectly well as medical blades when sterilized with any decent flame. Needles in TEOTWAWKI need to be job specific and in the hands of those that know how to use them. It does you no good at all if you have all the needles and supplies for IVs, infusions, and anesthesia without anyone that can actually do the job. [From a liability standpoint,] I cannot actually tell you that the veterinary needles available easily at your local farm and ranch supply store are as good as the ones actually made for human use. But they can’t be worse than the Chinese junk we use daily at clinics and hospitals across the United States.  

So, the final word is this:  for survival, you need a knife and a great one at that.  For medical uses, disposable is perfectly acceptable just make sure you have enough for your group for a duration of time.  Put the medical instruments in the hands of the best “surgeon” available just like you would put the best knife in the hands of the best hunter available.  Spend your money wisely and plan well and you will find yourselves much better off WTSHTF.  Stay strong, - Dr. Bob

JWR Adds: Dr. Bob is is one of the few consulting physicians in the U.S. who dispenses antibiotics for disaster preparedness as part of his normal scope of practice. His web site is:

Over the years, I've had a lot of folks ask me how I got into writing about guns and knives - I also wrote for American Survival Guide magazine for quite a few years, on survival-related topics. I also have folks ask me what my methods are for testing knives, guns, gear, etc. So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to give you all the skinny on this. I'm no expert on anything - I only consider myself a serious student in many things, guns, knives and the martial arts come to mind. Remember, you are getting an opinion from me, and nothing more in my articles. We can agree to disagree at times on my findings, I don't have any problem with that.

I don't try to present myself as an expert in my articles, either. Nor do I make any attempt to write at a level that is more than required to get my point across. I hope my articles are informative, as well as entertaining. I just e-mailed a SurvivalBlog reader a little while ago, that I like to have fun in my articles, and when it stops being fun, I'll stop writing. As to my writing talent, or lack thereof, I don't claim any special skills. I quite high school when I was only 16 years old, and believe it or not, one of my worst subjects in high school was English literature. Today, I can claim a Doctorate Degree - in than the Divinity field. That took much hard study and is a long story in itself.

I didn't start out writing about guns and knives, rather, I was a reviewer (of books) for a trade publication, that sold Christian books to Christian book stores. They would send me the newest Christian books for review, I'd read 'em and give my thoughts on the books. It was a great way to build-up my Christian book library, I specialized in Youth Ministry books. My "pay" was, I got to keep all the books I reviewed fro my own reference collection.

I've always had a deep interest in guns and knives, and I still remember the first knife I ever got, and my first gun that I purchased. It has been a wonderful love affair for more years than I care to admit. Guns and knives, in and of themselves are not evil, as the Liberal press and politicians would have you believe. Instead, they are tools, and when used properly, they are great tools - they can provide fun as well as being used to defend yourself or your loved ones. So, don't let the left-leaning media and politicians try to make you believe one gun is "good" and another gun is "evil." It's a lie.

When I was working for Col. Rex Applegate about 20 years ago, on a full-time basis, I learned a lot from the good Colonel about guns and knives, and he was impressed with my knowledge on the subjects as well. It was at the insistence of Applegate, that I started writing magazine articles and books, and when the Colonel told you to do something, you did it! I made many contacts in the firearms and cutlery fields as a result of Applegate introducing me to them. One of my best contacts was Chuck Karwan, a fellow gun writer (now gone) who helped me tremendously with my writing. When I first started writing, I was too technical, and I couldn't sell an article. Karwan was my personal coach and editor, and he told me to just write the same way I spoke, easy-going. Chuck edited many of my articles before I sent them off to magazine editors. And, I will forever be thankful for all the help Chuck gave me, as well as the pushing and prodding that Rex Applegate gave me.

When it comes to testing firearms, I don't have a laundry list of things I go through. Instead, I look at the intended purpose of a firearm. First and foremost, in my book, a firearm has to be reliable - if the gun isn't reliable, I'm not interested in it. Secondly, a firearm has to be reasonable accurate - only accurate guns are interesting. Third, a gun has to be well-made - if they are junk, I have no interest. And, a firearm has to be a good value in my book.

There are custom firearms by any number of custom gun makers, and I've owned some custom guns in my life. Let's take a good old M1911 .45ACP as an example. I just recently wrote about the Springfield Armory Range Officer. The gun is more accurate than I can use, and it's been totally 100% reliable, too. The gun comes from a well-known gun company, and it's an excellent value. I've had custom 1911s from some of the big names in the 1911 field - and some of them cost two or three times more than my Range Officer retails for. The custom 1911s might have been finished a little better, and maybe they were a bit tighter and they have the "wow" factor because they come from a custom gun maker. However, the Springfield Armory Range Officer can do everything the custom 1911 can do, and maybe more - for half or a third of the price of a custom 1911 - that's value in my book. I have no fight against custom 1911 makers - they are great guns. I'm only using this as an example.

I heard from an industry insider, from a big-name ammo maker, that many gun writers fire an average of 64-rounds during their testing of a gun for an article. I don't question the statement from my source, he knows what he's talking about. However, the gun writers I know, are only getting warmed-up at 64-rounds. I don't torture test firearms for my articles - the factories have already done that for me, and I wouldn't have the time or ammo to torture the firearms I get for articles, compared to what the factories do to the guns before they put them on the market. I know, I know, there are some gun writers who are famous for doing 5,000 and 10,000 round torture tests. Guess it makes for good press and sells gun magazines. But what are they really accomplishing in their tests? They haven't done anything the gun company didn't already think of.

When it comes to accuracy, I like to think a good full-sized handgun, like the 1911, should be able to place 5-shots inside of 4" or so, at 25-yards on a good day - for self-defense use. Some folks will scoff at that - and think that if a gun can't put 5 rounds inside of an inch, the gun isn't worth having. You have to carefully read what some gun writers say about their accuracy testing - and you'll find many put their guns in a Ransom Rest for their accuracy tests. That's not a bad thing, however, when you buy the same gun, and stand on your two legs and only get 4" groups, you don't understand why your gun isn't as accurate as the one you read about in the gun magazines. I like to do two-legged testing, and when I want to squeeze a bit more accuracy out of a handgun, I'll rest if over a sleeping bag, across the hood of my car. When it comes to testing rifles at 100 yards for accuracy, I'll either go prone, or use the hood of my car again, with a sleeping bag.

I attempt to use different types of ammo for my testing, whenever possible. You'll read that I shoot a lot of Black Hills ammunition, Winchester ammunition and Buffalo Bore ammunition in my articles. Yes, I get a lot of promo ammo from them for my articles, and so do other gun writers. Without getting promo ammo, we honestly wouldn't be able to conduct the testing we do. It would be too expensive if we had to purchase ammo out of our own pockets. And, I've never given any ammo maker a free pass - I report my findings as they are - just the way the ammo worked in the guns I tested 'em in. The same goes for firearms - gun companies rarely give gun writers free guns - as most of you think they do. I've never had a gun company offer to give me a free gun, if I would only give their gun a good review - it's never happened to me, and I don't think it has happened to any other gun writer, either - you can believe it or not. Back in the day, I used to get a lot of gun companies allowing me to keep the samples they sent me - they just didn't have a use for a used gun back in their inventory. Today, it's a rare thing to get a freebie "keeper" firearm. Gun companies usually give us a discounted price on the sample if we want to purchase it after testing, and the prices we get usually aren't discounted as much as you might think.

Look, I'm not rich, so I can't afford to buy all the guns I want. Instead, I'm a habitual gun trader - I'm forever at the local gun shop trading guns for something else that catches my fancy at the time - and I'm sure a lot of you are like that, too. Sure wish I could buy all the guns I want - but I'm a middle class American, like most of you are - I have bills that have to be paid, and buying all the guns I'd like to buy just isn't in the budget. However, over the years, I've probably owned several thousand guns, so I've had the opportunity to test and evaluate a lot of shootin' irons in my lifetime.

Some readers of gun magazines are always saying that gun writers never say anything "bad" about the guns they test. Well, if you read my review articles closely, you'll see that they can usually find something they didn't like about a gun, or something they would prefer was different. And, let's be honest here, if gun magazines started publishing articles and they said all the guns they tested were junk - just how long do you think a gun magazine would stay in business?  I've never had an editor tell me to change anything in my articles - never! They accept them the way they are submitted. (Other than editing my poor grammar and spelling.) But what the heck, that's why we have editors, to make us wurthless gun 'riters look better than we are.

I'll be the first to admit, that no matter how great the quality control is at any gun or knife company is, some lemons slip through. I understand this, but many gun buyers don't. If I get what I believe to be a defective gun for an article, I like to give the gun company the benefit of the doubt. I return the gun and give the company the opportunity to either repair or replace the sample. Then, if the gun is still having problems, I'll report that in my article. I think that's being more than fair. I don't think it's fair when readers jump all over a gun company when they get a "bad" gun - without giving the gun company the chance to correct the problem. And, let's face facts, if gun companies intentionally put defective guns on the market, how long do you think they would be in business? No long, that's for sure. And, some gun companies have better warranties than others, and some have better customer service than others - it comes with the turf.

When I'm testing firearms for articles, I like to fire a reasonable amount of ammo through them whenever possible. Like I said, I don't torture test firearms, but I think running at least 200-500 rounds through a gun is a fair test of how the gun will perform. Oftentimes, depending on my ammo locker supply, I can fire more rounds through a gun simply because I have more of that particular caliber on hand. Other times, I might only have a few hundred rounds of ammo on-hand for my testing. I try to stay ahead of the ammo supplies whenever possible - oftentimes, I can't get all the ammo I'd like to shoot for an article because of an editor's deadline.

I actually carry the guns I write about - at least the handguns. I won't tell you that a 1911 from gun company "X" was easy to conceal and was comfortable - unless it actually was comfortable.This is where the holster makers come in - they send me samples of their products so I can report to my readers (and back to them) how a particular holster worked for its intended purpose.

Honestly, I make every attempt to be fair in my firearms testing, and I report my findings to my readers. There's no hype in my articles - I don't have to impress anyone. There was one gun writer, a couple years ago, who did an article on a custom 1911 - he was able to put five rounds inside of  1/4" at 25-yards, without using any sort of rest. Now, if you put pencil to paper, you know you can't place five .45" bullets inside of a 1/4" hole period! And, this Bozo continues to make these claims and his editors either don't read his articles, or just publish the lies. I don't have an ego, and I could care less if my name appears on an article - my editors can just put that my articles were written by "John Q. Public" if they want. All I care about is if, they spell my name halfway right on my paychecks - which, at times, are far and few between, but it comes with the job. [JWR Adds: Pat Cascio is a volunteer editor for SurvivalBlog, so he deserves even greater credit.]

When it comes to writing about knives - again I have a few things I look at. First and foremost is, is a knife sharp out-of-the-box? If it isn't, we have a real problem, as the number one thing a knife should do is - cut! Believe it or not, I've had quite a few custom knives come into my hands that would have a hard time cutting through warm butter. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I believe that Lynn Thompson, who operates Cold Steel Knives, set the standard for factory sharp knives with his introduction of the tanto - when Cold Steel did this, all the other factory knife companies had to jump on the super-sharp knife bandwagon or get left behind. Today, it's a rare thing to find a factory knife that isn't shaving sharp right out of the box. We're talking about big name knife companies like: Benchmade, Kershaw, SOG, CRKT, and others. The cheap, no-name Chinese imports from some companies are junk and you don't want to mess around with them.

I look at how well made a fixed or folding knife is made. Things have to fit together as intended - loose or sloppy tolerances don't make it with me. I also look at the blade steel being used in a knife, and all the big name knife companies are using top-notch steel in their knives their days. Some steels are better than other - and you pay a higher price for higher quality steels. One of my favorite knife steels is 8USA, it's a stainless steel, that holds an edge a good long time, and it's easy enough to re-sharpen, too - plus, it's an affordable steel to use - I like it. If you want a higher-quality stainless steel, like S30V, you are gonna pay a lot more for the knife.

A knife has to have value, if it's not a good deal, I'm not interested in writing about it. I used to collect custom knives, and you pay a lot more for a custom, hand made knife than you do for a factory made knife. You are paying the artist for his efforts, not just for the materials he uses. And, you are also paying a custom knife maker on the popularity of his knives. Some custom knife makers demand thousands of dollars for a single knife. I'm glad that they can get it and have a following. However, for most of us, a good factory made knife from one of the big name knife companies will get the job done for us. For others, the pure joy and investment of collecting custom knives is what sets their hearts to racing - I have no problem with that. Just don't think that Joe Schmo's custom $3,000 fixed blade knife is gonna cut any better than the factory knife from a big name knife company that sells for $150.

I actually carry and use the knives I write about, too. I like to carry a folder for a couple weeks in my pocket and use it for everyday cutting chores, as well as testing the cutting ability in meat from my freezer, too. Fixed blade knives - I used them around my small homestead for various chores. So, I don't just sit down and write about a knife without first using it. And, just like firearms, a knife has to have a good value in my eyes - remember, I'm not rich, I have to watch every penny I spend, so I'm careful how I spend my money.

I hope this gives SurvivalBlog readers a brief look at to how I test firearms and knives for my articles. And, how and why I got started doing this: I enjoy writing about guns and knives, and other gear. I hope I'm able to give you a leg-up on products, so that when you are looking at purchasing a particular gun or knife, you know what you're looking for and looking at. As I said, I don't consider myself an expert, but I hope my many years experience allows me to pass along my knowledge to you, perhaps making your next purchase easier, or at least well-informed.

So, you all know where I'm coming from, and where I've been when it comes to guns and knives. It hasn't always been an easy road, especially when I first started out - getting samples was a bit difficult, but I built-up my contacts over the years, and that has helped. However, just like most writers, I still have a difficult getting samples every now and then - it is frustrating at times, and you'd think I learn to live with it - but I haven't!

I have learned that SurvivalBlog readers are a very intelligent bunch, I hear from many of you all the time. I can't answer all the e-mails I get, however, I do read them all. On average, I get about 200 e-mails a day, so I can't answer them all. However, when you have a question, I do my best to give you an answer - and I hope I'm giving the right answers. When I don't have an answer, I will call one of my buddies in the industry or another writer and see if they have the answer to your questions.

I hope that you all continue to enjoy my articles on SurvivalBlog.   - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

JWR Adds: I'm honored to have a writer like Pat Cascio on our masthead. Please send him a word of encouragement, from time to time. Manufacturers, importers, and major wholesalers should keep him in mind, as a recipient of sample products. Pat receives no compensation from SurvivalBlog, beyond a few free books.

Over at Off The Grid News: One Man Living His Off-Grid Dream. (He relocated from New York to Montana.)

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F.J. spotted this over at LifeHacker: Make an Emergency Candle Out of a Tub of Crisco. (Don't miss the humorous comments with a description of a bacon grease candle.)

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For just one day, Monday August 8, 2011 Backyard Food Production is offering a 38% discount for SurvivalBlog readers on their DVD Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm. ( has notified them that they have to reduce my inventory - so they are selling these at a great discount.  This DVD is the fastest way to learn to grow food and the most comprehensive tutorial on home food production available.  You will learn how much water you need, how much land, highest efficiency gardening systems, home butchering and small livestock, orchards, and more - all with the focus of how to do it when the stores are closed.  SurvivalBlog readers will get a 38% discount by purchasing the DVD tutorial on Monday August 8th by using this link to their Amazon store.

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Villagers go all "Magnificent Seven": Russian Village’s Self-Defense Underlines Failures of Police. (Thanks to Jonathan B. for the link.) Meanwhile, reader "Typeay" sent this headline from Oaxaca: Mexican villagers attack alleged crooks, killing six. "The confrontation took place after a town assembly decided to arm 90 villagers and send them to threaten the group allegedly behind cattle thefts, rapes and murders, Oaxaca state's public security chief said in a statement." Typeay's comment: "When there no longer is any police department, you are the police department."


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Steven M. sent this: Latest Global Crisis: Solar Storms Are Set to Hit the Earth. And Michael W. sent the related news story: Power companies prepare as solar storms set to hit Earth. And Scott R. sent the total Gloom and Doom view: Severe Solar Storm to Create Global Chaos and Complete Darkness

"We don’t need no stinkin’ permission to exercise our rights. We need to exercise our rights whether the government wants us to or not." - Michael Boldin

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When it comes to training, there are many good avenues. Some choose (or are drafted) to serve in the military and take advantage of the training there, ranging from basic to advanced. Others get involved in Scouts. Some piece together opportunities like firearms training, wilderness survival and emergency medical courses. Still others learn through travel. There are many types of travel, and each teaches in a different way, if we choose to learn. A cruise with touristy ports-of-call probably isn’t much of an education, except in the gustatory sense, but foreign military service clearly can be. Not all of us are wealthy enough to take cruises, of course, nor young enough to serve in the armed forces, but there are good opportunities between these extremes. One of the best, in my mind, is short-term foreign missions. Here are a few reasons:
Immerse Yourself in a Foreign Culture

This is the most obvious.

In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with new and different people outside your social circle. Placing yourself in a foreign country forces you to encounter and deal with new people, as well as a whole new set of customs, foods, climate, language, etc. You can study all you want about being adaptable, but nothing compares to being forced to do it by dropping yourself into such a situation. You may learn, as I did, that live flying termites aren’t a bad snack.

The strength of short-term foreign missions is that much of it is done in developing countries (though that is changing somewhat as Europe and other historically Christian areas have abandoned the faith). You’re not going to be sitting at a café in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, eating croissants and reading SurvivalBlog over free Wi-Fi. More often than not—if you seek out appropriate opportunities—you’ll be experiencing a way of life that we haven’t known in the West for over a century, possibly a millennium.

Practice Traveling Light

This is not required, of course. The tendency is to “be prepared” by having a bit of everything with you. By choosing to travel light, however, you learn to be prepared by making do with what you have on you and what’s available along your journey.

Bags get lost. Not always, but often enough to plan for it. Traveling with only carry-on luggage is liberating. Not only do you not have to worry about your bags being lost, but you’re also more maneuverable, faster through airports and less obviously a tourist. I’ve been to Africa twice. I was in both urban and bush areas and stayed in modest guest houses but also camped in remote and wild areas. I also took extended layovers in European cities on the return trips. Both times I fit all my personal belongings in a convertible carry-on backpack/suitcase. I use Rick Steve’s Convertible Carry-On, but there are other good options. It’s light, low-key, well-thought-out and meets both US and international carry-on guidelines. The US Customs agent was baffled when he looked at my passport when I returned. “Kenya, Uganda and the UK. With just that backpack?” Yes.

There are plenty of resources for learning how to travel light, so I won’t go into too many details, except to mention a few favorites:  synthetic liner socks (good ones are comfortable and dry overnight, unlike thicker athletic or boot socks), Campsuds (concentrated and washes yourself, your clothes and your dishes), a sleep sack or REI’s Travel Sack (one’s basically a sleeping bag made out of a single layer of whatever material you choose—silk, cotton, synthetics, blends—folded over; the other’s a lightly insulated bag with a hood—both are very compact) and polypropylene long underwear (goes nicely with the previous item when things get chilly and are great for layering in cooler places, like Europe for longer layovers and even the higher altitudes on the Equator, where you may not want the hassle of carrying bulkier cold weather clothes).

Deal with Discomfort

Most Americans live a life of comfort. All but the poorest live at a level of ease and safety well beyond much of the world. But in the event of a short-term disaster or longer change in our way of life, we’re going to face discomfort. Knowing how we cope and how to cope can go a long way in preparing us.

I recall lying in a tent in eastern Uganda with the temperature in the 90s, heavy rains revealing every leak in the tent and a tent door zipper which wouldn’t close for the last 18 inches to the floor. Water, insects and animals were free to come and go at will (thankfully only water and insects took advantage, though both can be just as deadly as animals in that part of the world). Sometime during the sweltering storm, one of my tent mates began vomiting profusely. It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’ve had, and it was one I simply had to endure. There was nowhere for me to go, no way of alleviating my discomfort. I just prayed and waited.

While I wouldn’t seek out misery, having experienced it on multiple occasions has helped prepare me psychologically for handling it again. I know I can do it, because I’ve done it.

Test Your Gear

You can read all the gear reviews you want, but until you actually use your gear, you won’t know how it performs. A short-term missions trip is a great way to field test. See if your Gore-Tex really “breathes” in hot, rainy weather. Find out if that collapsible water bottle is really the perfect answer you were looking for—mine wasn’t. Figure out if that tiny LED flashlight will get you safely to the bushes and back to relieve yourself when there’s no light for miles except for the stars. Try assembling your high-tech tent by the lights of a Land Rover. You get the idea.

Get Super-Vaccinated

Most of the vaccinations I received when traveling to Africa were for diseases that are either not seen in the West or ones that we’re generally not exposed to due to better sanitation, vaccinations, etc. Either because they were required or recommended, I’ve been vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, meningitis, typhoid, and H1N1, and received boosters for polio, mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. Not only am I up-to-date on my boosters, but I’m also vaccinated against several diseases which we currently avoid but which we could easily see a resurgence of in the event of certain natural disasters. This can be an expensive proposition, but some insurance will cover portions of the vaccines and it certainly prepares one health-wise both for the immediate trip and for unforeseen circumstances to come.

Learn the Value of Water & the Environment

This may sound trite, but you really can’t appreciate the value of water and the environment until you travel to a developing country and can’t drink the water straight out of the tap. Or maybe you don’t even have a tap. In countries like the US, we have many buffers between us and nature. While we may be inconvenienced at times when extreme weather strains our systems, we often aren’t in touch with our environment as we drive our climate-controlled cars from our climate-controlled homes to our climate-controlled workplaces. Manicured, watered and fertilized lawns may mask a dry spell. Efficient and invisible waste management hides the consequences of being poor stewards or resources; we simply don’t see it unless we go looking for it.

In both Kenya and Uganda, water was not a guarantee. And even when it was available, it was necessary to boil it before drinking, a truly tedious task on a hot day. At home I can fill up my bathtub with potable water and soak in it for leisure. In many parts of the world, such a thing could only be accomplished by women and girls lugging multiple jerry cans to a bore hole a mile or more away, then returning them and heating the water using a wood fire.

Adjust Your Needs and Wants

For me, this was the biggest lesson learned. We take so much for granted and can’t fully grasp just how much until we say how the poorest of the poor live. When I came back from east Africa, I walked into the kitchen. “Snacks! Why do we have snacks?!” Then I walked into the bathroom and felt convicted about our bubble bath. Despite the heat, I went without A/C in my car for a time. Gradually, the convictions fade, unfortunately, but I still have a radically altered view of what are needs and what are wants.

There’s an anecdote I’ve heard a couple of times about a seasoned missionary greeting a new missionary in the field. The new missionary begins to ask about how to obtain certain necessities when the seasoned missionary replies, “You tell me everything you think you need, and I’ll tell you how to live without it.”

Necessity is the mother of invention. People in developing countries have to be resourceful. There is no Social Security, no welfare. If you want to eat, you have to get up and do something. Just being around this kind of productivity is inspiring. Are there lazy people, crooks and addicts in every kind of country, rich or poor? Absolutely. But a poor person in America looks nothing like a poor person in the slums of Nairobi. We sometimes look to history to see how people lived in simpler ways, but we don’t need to. Millions live that way right now.

The applications for preparedness are pretty clear. Having your mind transformed helps you streamline your life, live more simply and be a better steward of all that you have. This does two things: 1) It makes you better able to prepare, in terms of having resources and knowing what’s really needed. And, 2) In the event of a lifestyle-altering disaster, you won’t be nearly so impacted.

Practice Charity & Faith

Lastly, although I’ve described what you can get from short-term foreign missions, what you give is every bit as important. So much of survivalism and preparedness tends to be self-focused. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s like the in-flight instruction to don your oxygen mask first in the event of an emergency, so that you can help those around you. Figuratively speaking, we sometimes forget to go beyond donning the mask. And, let’s be honest, we often prepare for eventualities of varying likelihood while ignoring present certainties—disasters in progress for others. Short-term missions give you an opportunity to practice charity.

As anyone who’s ever planned, raised funds for and gone on a missions trip will tell you, both the preparation and the trip itself will test and grow your faith. You are willfully going against your self-preservation instincts for the benefit of someone else and relying on God to do it. Done with a humble and willing spirit, this exercise in faith will stand you in good stead if and when the hard times come for you. I challenge you to consider it.

Whether you’re using a gun for home security, hunting, or whether you just enjoy shooting, there are some basic guidelines for gun safety you need to follow. You’ll hear these guidelines in every gun safety course, and you’ll see them printed on the instructions of almost any new firearm you purchase.

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of negligent discharges happen because people fail to follow these basic guidelines. It’s always worth taking a few minutes and refreshing them in your mind, just to make sure you’re following them at all times.

Here are five of the key guidelines for gun safety:

  • Don’t point at something you don’t want to kill or destroy. This is essential. About 30 percent of hunting accidents come from self-inflicted injuries. This means that the barrel or muzzle was pointed at a body part. Know where your gun is pointed at all times, and look far enough out to see what might get hit if the gun goes off.
  • Always assume a gun is loaded. You should treat every gun as if it’s got ammunition in the chamber. Get in the habit of treating your guns like that all the time, and you’ll never have to worry about a negligent discharge.
  • Keep away from the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. The trigger guard is there for a reason. Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you’ve aimed and your gun is pointed at something you intend to kill or destroy.
  • Store your gun safely. Generally speaking, your gun and ammunition should be kept separate. If you intend to use your gun for home defense, consider a gun safe or gun box with a keypad lock that lets you – and only you – get in and get your gun fast.
  • Don’t mix alcohol and ammunition. Never handle a weapon if you’ve been drinking or using drugs. Watch out for prescription medications that can dull the senses, slow your reflexes, or impair your judgment, as well.
  • Diligently follow these five guidelines and you’ll avoid almost every conceivable gun accident scenario.

    (Madison Parker writes on subjects related to home security systems. You can read more on her blog:

    JWR Adds: The late Colonel Jeff Cooper also included this rule in his list: "Be sure of your target. Know what it is, what is in line with it, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything you have not positively identified. Be aware of your surroundings, whether on the range or in a fight. Do not assume anything. Know what you are doing."


    Recently, a SurvivalBlog reader suggested storing Calcium Hypochlorite in ground glass-stoppered bottles that are inside of padded 6 gallon buckets. But would using a 1/2 gallon Ball ["Mason style"] jar and Tattler plastic lid be a workable alternative?    Thanks, - Stephanie  

    JWR Replies: Yes, that should work, since the Tattler lids are non-reactive. But keep in mind that if there is even a slight vapor leak, the metal retaining rings ("bands") will eventually rust out.

    F.J. spotted this over at the Makezine site: Drain Pipe Hotel.

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    Kevin S. suggested a product that will be released later this year: DeLorme inReach—two-way satellite communication. (Pair this $250 device to your Android phone via Bluetooth and send/receive texts using the Iridium satellite network.)

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    James K. flagged this: Harvesting Energy From Radio Signals: Two New Devices From Japan (Video)

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    Check out this interesting bucket gardening site: Global Buckets. (Thanks to John S. for the link.)

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    A newly-orbited Amateur Radio Satellite (AMSAT): ARISSat/KEDR. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

    "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

    I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan.

    Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." - Revelation 2:8-11 (KJV)

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Flash Traffic: S&P downgrades U.S. Treasury paper! Excerpts: "United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'AA+' On Political Risks And Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative Overview · We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to 'AA+' from 'AAA' and affirmed the 'A-1+' short-term rating." and "The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to 'AA' within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case." Get ready for a roller coaster ride on Wall Street next week, most likely with a concurrent leg down on the US Dollar Index. Remember that the bylaws of many pensions funds mandate that they invest only in AAA bonds!


    Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

    Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

    Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

    Part One:  Why I Started to Prepare

    Speaking from the perspective of someone who has spent the last several years researching, reading about and trying to sort through multitudes of information on the subject, I can say that learning the art of preparedness is not a simple task. Given the huge amount of resources, information and even misinformation available on the internet and within the many books written on the subject, determining the right path towards being more prepared can be a difficult one to say the least. Here is my story, and my tips for finding your own path towards becoming safer and more prepared for the many unknowns which can harm us or those we love in this ever-increasingly crazy world.

    My journey towards becoming a person who was even interested in becoming more prepared began one chilly fall evening several years ago. I was in my mid-20s and spent most weekends, and even weekdays, focusing on fun, and like most Saturday nights went out and met up with some friends. It was an after-hours party at the local art hot-spot, and they were serving drinks upstairs. The person who accompanied me to the party, my roommate, was on crutches for a broken leg so I was going back and forth for the both of us. On my second or third trip upstairs I noticed two older men looking at me. They gave me just the slightest hint of a strange feeling – but I ignored it.

    Several hours and drinks later, the party was over and it was time to move on. We waited until everyone else left so we could use the side exit because it was the handicap exit, but was locked and rarely used. We said goodbye to our friends and they locked the door, closing the place for the night, and then headed around the corner to the alley where my car was parked. I helped my friend into the passenger side of the car and then headed around the back of the car to unlock my own door. Just as I opened it, I felt and heard someone rushing up behind me in the dark. I turned around and it was one of the very same two men I had seen earlier inside. As he rushed towards me I fumbled with my keys in a desperate attempt to open the tiny Swiss-army style knife on my keychain, but all of a sudden from the dumpster behind me two homeless people kicked a trash can and then popped out. The homeless-looking woman stared at the man and began walking towards him, very close to me at this point, and he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, only a few feet away from me at that point.  We stared at each other for a minute and I opened my knife. The homeless couple walked up, and then the man said in a strange manner, “Oh, I thought this was my car.” I turned to the only other car around, which was parked right next to me – a newer white van with few windows. His companion, the other man from inside, was sitting inside the car staring at me.

    I jumped into my car (a small sedan) and drove away, paralyzed from the experience and too scared or shocked to try to even get their license plate number. Honestly it took me a little while to even realize the serious danger that I was in, and that if nobody had popped out of that dumpster, well this story may have never been written. Was it divine intervention? Luck? Destiny? I will probably never know. But I do know that this was the day that everything in my life changed; or more significantly – the way that I view the world changed in every way.

    I have spent countless hours wondering what they wanted with me, or worse, to do to me.  Regardless, the fact of the matter was that I wasn’t prepared, and that I didn’t follow my intuition. Was it divine intervention? Or just coincidence that there happened to be witnesses? I will never know. Following that day, slowly, my wants and needs have shifted towards trying to plan for things before they happen and more importantly – to follow my own intuition no matter what, because it can truly be a very powerful thing. Since then I have shifted my life path completely. Had that not happened to me I might be living in the rat race of Los Angeles by now, but instead I now have acreage in the country and feel safer than I ever have…but of course the move was only one step towards making me feel safer. Since we purchased a house in the country with acreage, my extra spending money is limited now – but I think it was the right decision, and it was something that I (well, we) had wanted for a while. I feel safer away from a large population – and to me, any financial sacrifices that have to be made are well worth it. Will I have several years’ worth of food anytime soon? No. Will I be able to purchase an arsenal or switch over to complete solar energy anytime soon? No. But I am in a much better situation than I ever have been in my life – and that is what makes me feel safer. It is all a give and take – that is life. It is something that must be molded; that is – we all have to work with what we’ve got.

    This brings me to my point about being prepared in general. With all of the resources that exist on the subject, it would be easy to simply print out any one of the preparedness lists and check things off as you buy them. But in my opinion – this is not the most pragmatic approach and will not necessarily keep you and your family the safest under any circumstance. If you are like myself and most others I know, who live only within their means and particular resources, then you must take your plan for preparedness one step at a time, while trying to make sure that each step matters. And for me – that meant deciding which steps were most important to me in my life, and why.

    The power of human intuition is an incredible thing. I can think of countless times in my life where I thought – if only I would have listened to myself, especially that night after the party. It is my belief that following your own intuition, and combining this with as much safety and preparedness information you can find – is truly the best path to finding safety (if that is even possible) in an unsafe world, and perhaps more importantly – to find your own peace of mind. Not finding yourself in a bad situation to start with is important (like being alone or without protection at night), but also carrying whatever type of personal protection you can afford is important at all times. I now carry pepper spray with me wherever I go, and have one in my car as well (it’s what I can afford – at less than $10 each for police grade spray off Do what you can, and think of everything that can happen – because sometimes it does, and someday it could be you.

    Planning to be better prepared must be a personal and individual thing, and as with most things in life, there is no one-size-for-all answer. Think about what concerns you the most and address those issues first. Think about what activities your family does on a daily basis and how you can improve their safety both while you are away and at home. Think about the environment and climate you live in and what natural resources are around. Start writing down a ‘what-if’ list: What if we’re out of town and…? What if there was an earthquake? What if the power fails for a week, a month…or worse? What if our well dries up? What if the grocery stores close? The internet goes down? But of course, these questions could be different for each and every person and family. Everyone’s situation is completely different, and of course, the timing of such a disaster cannot ever be planned for or anticipated. One person might be at home with family and live in a densely populated area while another might be driving a secluded road alone at night…that is why it is important to develop something that helps you feel more at ease and according to your own personal situation. What scares you the most? Why? Is it well-founded? Do some research if you need…this is what it took for me to feel safer again.

    So, all that being said…Here is my own personal plan for preparedness, in my step-by-step manner:

    Part Two: My Plan of Action for Becoming More Prepared On A Limited Budget

    Step 1: Begin by writing down a list of your own what ifs. Think about where you live and the potential dangers that you, in particular face. Do some research - now is the time. Once you start learning about how to prepare, and why, the rest will come into place. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Follow your common sense and your intuitive side – even when writing your list. And always include safety in everything you plan.

    Step 2:
    Then write another list – a list of goals and items that you will need in an emergency situation. Make a list for your home. When you’re away from home. For your car. Make a huge list which contains anything and everything you can imagine. Cover all your bases. Consider your environment. Then make a much shorter list, comb through your first list and begin with your simplified list – of just the essentials (adjusted for what you already have). To me, this means things like extra basic household essentials: led flashlights and lanterns, matches, baking soda (can be used for all sorts of things – toothpaste, bee stings, laundry etc.), bleach (water and general disinfection), aluminum foil (you can use to make a make-shift solar cooker as well as plenty of other things), duct tape, toilet paper, paper plates, batteries and paper towels etc. This also means dried or canned (or powdered, dehydrated or otherwise preserved) food basics: rice, beans, baking supplies (flour, baking powder, cornmeal, yeast etc.), TVP and the like.

    Step 3:
    Start by picking out the items which you personally consider to be the most essential – and purchase them one by one. For me, I started by working out a plan with myself considering the very small amount of money I can commit each week. Food and water seemed like the most essential items for myself, so now, I buy 5 gallons of water per week for my storage closet plus 5 pounds of assorted varieties of lentils, peas and beans, as well as 5 pounds of rice or another starch (barley, brown rice, couscous, quinoa, pasta etc.). Then each week I also try to determine another item or even a few, depending on my budget that will enhance my own collection the most. Last week it was the buy one get one free deal on olive oil along with extra household supplies (aluminum foil, trash bags etc.). This week I will buy cans of soup, first aid supplies and a few books (on country living skills and solar cooking etc.) off Next week I will do the same as well as a few 5 gallon water jugs ($7 each at Wal-Mart) and stock up on batteries. And so on.

    The point is – follow your common sense and work on essential items first, and at least you can say that you are making your greatest effort with the resources that you have available. There is no master list – do what feels right for you.  After you begin building up your water and food staples (dried, bulk and canned goods) then you can begin to narrow down the next important things as you can afford them. There are solutions to the basics for all economic levels. Food and water can be acquired as you can afford them. Just buy a little of each category at a time – that way you aren’t caught without one particular thing and water is extra important. Save milk or juice jugs, clean them and fill them for additional water. They are not necessarily the best first choice for drinking – but you can also use them as a makeshift solar shower if you spray-paint them black (or lay under a black tarp or cloth) and pre-drill at least one screw-on type lid in advance. I would hate to be caught in an emergency with only a huge bucket of pinto beans and nothing else. And pre-packed (MRE type) meals are great – they just don’t make economic sense to me at this point (maybe down the road). There are more important things. I don’t buy stuff I like anymore, I buy stuff because I like it and I think it might be useful or benefit me in some way someday-and especially in an emergency.

    Step 4:
    Now that you have a basic plan of action and are beginning to follow it, now you simply have to continue to follow it and add in additional items as the opportunity allows. The first items I purchased along these lines were a wind up/solar am/fm/weather radio as well as batteries and flashlights. You can expand as you go, just make sure to focus on the basics first. Don’t follow the hype – follow your heart when it comes to getting yourself prepared for all situations. Follow your own plan, and expand as you research, save money, and continue to prepare. Solar items are particularly helpful as they provide a longer duration of self-sustaining energy, but stocking up on regular batteries first might make more sense for most people…just do your research and determine the most important things first. Everyday items can be lifesavers, and so can very inexpensive things, if you just plan ahead a little. Take advantage of the bulk section at your local grocery store. Think of all the things you do and/or enjoy in your everyday life, food, water, showers, clean clothing, using a bathroom, entertainment of some sort and so on. Then try to make sure you’ve got as many of these bases covered as possible in case of emergency. Be creative. And of course, always be safe when you are away from home as well. Protect yourself and be aware – follow your intuition in everything that you do and you will be better off.

    On my long term list I have hundreds of items, most importantly additional weapons and power sources. And perhaps most importantly a manual hand-pump type connection for our well. I would also like to have backup solar power installed (for the well especially) if money allows. Ideally a bomb shelter on the property would make me sleep the best at night, but that may only come if disaster takes a long time to get here. However, if I work hard enough at it and nothing happens in the meantime – that day will come, and the same goes for you too. That is why taking one step at a time is important, since thinking of anything and everything that could happen can get a little overwhelming to say the least. Make a list and then make it a reality.

    I believe that common sense and a belief in one’s own abilities and intuitions can be a life-saving thing, something that is invaluable to each and every one of us. Developing a personal plan and simply setting aside (if only a very little) time from each day before something terrible happens to begin learning and preparing could be the very thing that saves your life someday. I got a second chance – but I don’t know if I’ll get a third. That is why I prepare the best I can and learn as much as I can. And now – I do feel safer than I did before.

    Emergency kits and meal kits are great (if you have the money that is) – but they aren’t everything. Follow your intuition and develop a plan of attack first – and most importantly cover the basics (for your own personal situation, and what you can afford) first. If you do enough research, you can find ways around the obstacles you face. If money is the issue, find less expensive ways to accomplish the same thing. If location is the issue, then do your best to change it. If you keep at something long and hard enough, so much can be accomplished. And always remember, all that we can ever do is our best. As far as I am concerned, this is the path towards freedom from fear as well as getting prepared. Be safe in everything you do, and good luck with your own plan and path towards protection and preparedness. I hope that if nothing else, my own personal story helps those who haven’t experienced something like I have, to follow their feelings and intuition their best, and also to do their best to stay safe in an unsafe world. Good luck out there!


    I'd like to add just a couple points to the excellent "Lessons from the Road" article by R.W..

    One key item that I feel is important is to involve everyone in the planning of your escape route. If you are the primary driver, and end up incapacitated, it is essential one of your other fellow travelers be able to take up the mantle and get the BOV to the BOL. In families, route planning can be a great way to get everyone involved and on-board with the preparations process. It also allows everyone to contribute and point out things a single planner may miss.

    Next, I firmly believe for long-distance bugouts, a family or prepper should have a primary route and four secondaries, each ranging out from the primary while taking natural and man-made barriers into account, so as to give enough pre-planned options that the performance of the bug-out does not suffer during the stress of driving the actual event. This is one reason why a good deal of over-the-road trucking and aviation involve a lot of time spent prepping the vehicle and planning the route, so that surprises are minimized and all available resources (such as fuel sources, secure overnight/rest locations, etc) are utilized efficiently.

    This is one of the first steps I took at the beginning the preparedness journey, and it was instructive. I was surprised at the difficulty of creating a route that took me away from large and medium-sized cities while not increasing the distance traveled by half. It was easy to create a short and fast route through the cities, or a slow and long one through the country, but finding an intermediate one was more difficult.

    Finally, I would second  RW's opinion that slower is safer and more efficient. My relatively new pickup with a few hundred pounds of cargo in the back will get 24mpg on state highways at 60mph, whereas on the interstate at 70mph that fuel economy decreases to 20 m.p.g. or less. That's a big hit in economy for a small gain in speed. Towing a trailer at 65 earns a paltry 14 m.p.g. By taking advantage of an early bug-out and not having to race to your retreat, you can reduce the number of fuel stops and also reduce the total fuel required to reach your destination.

    I'll end with a Bible verse: "Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath." - Matthew 24:20

    Regards, - G.R. in Texas

    A gent developed a handy new app for Android phones that calculates bullion coin value for transactions.

       o o o

    Who would have thunk it? Federal officials have been caught facilitating moving drugs one way, and guns the other, across the border. Gee, its good to know that at least we don't live in one of those corrupt Third World countries with a printing press economy.

       o o o

    Gun lobby fights Mexico border rifle sale control. It is funny that the journalist picked up on the ATF's "iron river" rhetoric, when the ATF itself is the biggest trafficker. (Thanks to Sue C. for the link.)

       o o o

    SurvivalBlog readers in Sacramento, California and the adjoining foothills communities will be interested to hear that there is a new military surplus and gun store in Rocklin, called TDS Guns. In addition to a buying and selling guns, they also sell military surplus ammo cans, fresh commercial MREs, and camouflage clothing in a variety patterns including MultiCam.

       o o o

    Vox sent me this article about a woman that wanted to created a backyard wildlife habitat: Mentor ordinance requires removal of vegetation (video)

    And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

    There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner [being] an hundred years old shall be accursed.

    And they shall build houses, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

    They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree [are] the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

    They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they [are] the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

    And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

    The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust [shall be] the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. - Isaiah 65:19-25 (KJV)

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Today, August 5th, is the Sixth Anniversary of the launch of SurvivalBlog. I hope that you've enjoyed reading it, and that it has helped you to gain useful knowledge and inspired you to get prepared. Thanks for making the blog such a huge success. In the past six years we've built huge archives of useful articles and letters, and they are still all available free of charge. We now get more than one million unique visits per month, making SurvivalBlog far and away the Internet's most popular preparedness blog. Please continue to spread the word. Thank you!


    Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

    Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

    Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

    Statistically, driving is one of the most dangerous activities in most of our lives.  Limited supplies, new or dramatically changed surroundings, minimal physical protection and exposure to observation make moving by vehicle the most dangerous phase of many survival plans.    

    There has been a great deal of focus on the best ‘Bug out Vehicle’ and proper vehicle gear to use in a survival situation.  Often overlooked are techniques and skills, many of which are completely different than the driving skills we use in our daily driving, necessary for a vehicular bug-out.  Whether you are driving a 5 ton military truck or a Mini-Cooper, the ability to get home after a disaster, or make a successful transition to your Bug out Location will depend on your driving skill, sound decision making and common sense preparation.  

    The following are some tips and tactics that I have picked up along the road driving in foreign countries devoid of traffic laws, countries with high terrorist threats, in combat convoys, all manner of weather, and even some dirt track racing.    I have attempted to adapt some of these lessons into workable techniques for common civilian vehicles, and useful in a wide range of survival scenarios from a full ‘Get Out of Dodge’, to a ‘Get Home’,  and in some cases, your daily drive to work.

    Pre-Bug Out

    Ensuring your vehicle is in proper working order is the first step to a successful vehicular relocation.  Most of us do not normally think of oil changes and tire rotation as ‘prepping’, but tires, belts and hoses that are ‘good enough’ for a daily commute across town could make you a pedestrian on a cross country trip to your retreat.   Knowledge of how to repair common vehicle problems is a critical skill.  For a minimal cost you can purchase a set of belts and hoses. Don’t allow a $6 part to become a single point of failure for your entire survival plan.  Have at least one real spare tire, two is better, and a working jack.

    It is not difficult to make regular vehicle maintenance part of your routine.  For instance, I enjoy shooting much more than checking my oil.  Like eating my vegetables before dessert, any time I go to the range I take ten minutes to do some basic checks under the hood first. 

    During a Bug Out going back for an item you forgot will not be an option, neither will picking up something at the store on your way out of town.  That is why most packing should be done well in advance.  Similar to a BOB, the use of dedicated storage containers make loading a job that can be completed in a matter of minutes.   (Another advantage of dedicated BOV containers is that a sudden flash of inspiration can be acted on immediately…just put it in the box.)   Quality lockable opaque plastic storage boxes with attached lid are ideal.  I use Gorilla boxes because they are inexpensive and have side handle and can be carried with one hand, but there are plenty of quality products on the market.  Good old lockable military duffle bags are fine for items that are not fragile, such as clothing.   Do not leave anything visible that would attract unwanted attention, such as gas cans, food or weapons.  

    Every vehicle in the US Army has a load plan with a sketch of where the key equipment will be stowed.   As you develop your load plan, consider what you will need within reach, items that you won’t need until you get to your destination, and ensure a full 360 degree field of vision.  Try putting all the boxes in your vehicle to make sure they fit and be sure you can get to a spare tire and jack without unloading.   On my first practice load-out I quickly determined that boxes that are too heavy for one person to easily lift save no time.  Based on that experience, I reduced the weight of my boxes, primarily by setting aside some storage bags that will go in the boxes once it is loaded in the vehicle.  My wife can now easily manage the loading in the event I am not available. 

    During a briefing before a movement through a particularly high threat area, I received this indispensable piece of advice:  “Your vehicle is your foxhole.  Treat it as such.”  (I was also told, just before departure, that “the route has been pretty quiet.”)  Ensure all loads, internal and external, are secure.  Inexpensive motorcycle tie down straps are more than adequate to secure bins and boxes inside the vehicle.  Police up the trash in the vehicle lest it become projectiles.   Similarly, keeping a clutter free vehicle could save precious time if there is no need to first unload items from the vehicle to make room for critical supplies during your load-out.  

    Finally, learn to drive your bug out vehicle, ‘every day’ car, and spouse’s car in all types of weather and road conditions.   When trying to get home from the office after a natural disaster or when you notice a car full of shady characters following you is not the time to begin a voyage of discovery about the capabilities and limitations of your vehicle.    For about $50 you can participate in local Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events with your own car that will give you a chance to find out what your car can do, and cannot do, in a safe (a route of traffic cones), controlled environment.  It’s educational and a lot of fun.  Next time is snows in your area, take your vehicles out and have some fun in an empty parking lot like you did when you were seventeen.


    Unless your name is Fred Flintstone, you are going to need fuel to get to your destination.    If you cannot make it to your bug out location (BOL) with a full tank and a few 5 gallon cans of fuel or soft side fuel bladders, it might be time to consider an intermediate BOL, a different vehicle, auxiliary tanks or a fuel cache en route.   Keep in mind, your vehicle will be loaded and possibly have external loads which will decrease your normal mileage. 

    A few quick thoughts on the ongoing task of route selection:   Have good maps (more than one) and if possible, test drive your primary and alternate routes in your BOV.   Depending on the internet and cell phone situation, there may be no way to know the specific conditions on your planned route on the day you bug out.  However, if you do not drive major portions of your primary and alternate routes on a regular basis, it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes every couple weeks to check Department of Transportation web sites for states your route crosses on a regular basis to check for major detours or construction.


    During a bug out, get home, or other survival scenario, the goal is to arrive at your destination intact.  Any activity while on the road that does not further the goal of getting to your destination should be avoided.  This is not the time to test the capabilities of the vehicle’s four wheel drive, top speed, or braking.  

    I can, without hesitation, say that the most critical factor in safely driving in any environment is maintaining situational awareness.  You would never consider walking through a bad neighborhood listening to your iPod and checking text messages on your phone.   Nor should you drive with your CD player blaring, chatting with passengers and a burrito in your hand.  We all get complacent driving in our day to day driving. It happens.   However,  especially during a survival situation, we should drive like we would walk out of the mall during Christmas season, do not be conspicuous, be courteous, and have a plan for everyone and everything you see. 

    It might seem counterintuitive, but slow is the way to go in most survival circumstances.  45-55 miles per hour is the optimum speed for fuel economy and slower speeds allow for more reaction time when encountering unwelcome surprises.  As hard as it might be to drive at a moderate speed while the world is collapsing, the goal is to arrive, not to ‘make good time.’  Obviously, for immediate threats drive as fast as needed to outrun the flood waters, ash cloud, or other fast moving threat.

    By way of comparison, during the early years of the Iraq war, coalition convoys would drive at speeds of 50 to 60 MPH.  As Iraqi civilian traffic increased and the IED threat began to take a toll, convoy commanders learned that slowing down to the 35 to 40mph range allowed civilian traffic to clear out ahead of the convoy and vehicle crews were much more successful identifying IEDs, ambushes and other road hazards in time to react.   Several years ago I had the opportunity to drive a support vehicle as part of a Presidential motorcade.  To my surprise, we never went more than 50mph, even on the interstate. 

    In addition to giving more time to react to road hazards and better fuel economy, slower is also safer. Since many of us will be driving heavily loaded vehicles, possibly with trailers or cargo on the roof, the handling characteristics of the vehicle may dramatically change.  Those changes become more pronounced at higher speeds.    The ditch cares not if you end up there as the result of a masterfully executed complex ambush or a trailer pulled beyond the recommended speed rating.

    We all hope to G.O.O.D. long before the mass exodus, but even that may not prevent us from ending up in heavy traffic, or even normal city traffic.   Just like the school bus driver said, do not stick anything out the window you are not willing to lose.  Same goes for external loads that are not secured.     

    In traffic, a good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you to retain the freedom of movement to pull out to the left or right without the need to back up.  To avoid being completely gridlocked, make every effort to stay in the far right lane, or far left if there is a drivable median.  If worse comes to worst, such as an accident ahead or violent confrontation behind, you will have the option to pull around on the shoulder, ditch, yard or median.  If you have been waiting long enough and decide to take a ditch or shoulder, do so with a plan (to the next side street or past the disabled semi), not out of frustration, and always tell your passengers before you make an abrupt movement.

    In the event you find yourself traveling cross country or down a trail of unknown quality, go slowly and if possible, have someone walk in front of the vehicle.  Even knee high grass can hide holes, abandoned farm implements, or even old farmhouse foundations capable of destroying the suspension of a HMMWV (oops).    Stay off private land unless you have absolutely no choice.  If you do get into a pasture or field, close every gate you open and stick to the edges of the fields along the fence rows to minimize crop damage.  Be ready with a darn good explanation and sincere apology.

    The Crew

    Unlike a weekend trip to Grandma’s house, in a survival scenario passengers are not just along for the ride.   Each passenger should have assigned duties and be alert at all times.   Think of everyone in the vehicle in terms of a crew, not only will this take pressure off the driver, it may help passengers focus on a critical tasks rather than what they are leaving behind.

    Driver – The primary focus of the driver should be driving.   In our daily lives we often get distracted doing other things instead of keeping our eyes on the road.  In a survival scenario, the driver must be ready to act instantly to debris in the road, overly aggressive and scared drivers, and staying on course.  Because the mental intensity required is so much greater than normal driving, plan to switch drivers or take breaks much more often than you normally would.

    Front Passenger- With an unobstructed view and no need to constantly watch the road, the front passenger has the best view of anyone in the vehicle.   This ‘assistant driver’ needs to be alert as the driver and should be scanning off the sides of the road, and as far forward as the eye can see.   This is the person who will identify trouble up ahead and allow the driver time to react.

    Rear Passengers-  If rear seat passengers are present, they should be watching the sides of the vehicle and the rear, working the radio, tracking location on the map, taking care of youngsters and anything else they can do to minimize distractions for the driver and assistant driver. 

    Just like any other crew, communication is critical.   A simplified form of the communication system used by Army gun truck crews may be useful.  Everyone in the vehicle should receive these simple instructions:  The direction of the vehicle is 12 o’clock.  Say what they see, followed by the direction on the clock and distance.   For example: “Broken down semi truck, 2 o’clock, 400 yards.”   The driver just replies “got it” when he gets a visual. 

    As a general rule, I would recommend not having weapons visible, especially weapons sticking out of the window.   In slow moving, congested areas it is possible for someone to simply grab the gun barrel and yank.  People, me included, do not appreciate being ‘flagged’ by someone inadvertently pointing a loaded weapon at my vehicle as they pass by.  A rifle sitting across your lap, just under the edge of the window is sufficient.  To the extent that you can, put right handed shooters on the driver side and lefties on the passenger side.


    Nothing good happens on the side of the road.  Nothing.  Don’t be there. 

    Stops will be necessary along the way to rest, eat, refuel, exercise kids, getting physical and mental bearings, and so forth.  If possible, plan stops well in advance, preferably as part of initial route planning and recon.  Because of the mental effort required to drive in a survival situation, stops should be more frequent than normal distance driving.   Avoid the temptation to continue driving to the point of exhaustion, especially if driving alone.  Along with slower motor skills and poor decision making while driving,  when you finally do stop, you will likely go into a much deeper sleep than might be prudent for the threat level.

    When making a stop, find a side road and take it to a point where you are out of sight of the main road.  The last thing you want is every passerby to see you pull out fuel cans and fill the tank.  Turn the vehicle around toward the main road before stopping.  If it becomes necessary to leave in a hurry you will be able to quickly get back on the main route rather than pushing further off your route.   Slow down on dirt roads as the dust cloud can be visible for miles.   

    Before anyone gets out of the vehicle, take two seconds to do a quick scan immediately around the vehicle, about 5 yards out, followed by a second scan at the 25 yard mark and finally look toward the horizon.   The time to identify threats, downed power lines, stray dogs, large potholes, etc. is before passengers dismount, not after.

    If the vehicle can be hidden during a short break all the better, but still keep security out and someone in the driver seat ready to go.   A section of camouflage netting or burlap is helpful to quickly unroll over your vehicle.  If you are using a military camo net, don’t waste time with the poles and spanners for short stops, the time spent would be better used taking care of business and getting back on the move.  If you have to make a hasty departure, you can quickly pull the netting out of the way enough to drive. 

    For emergency stops (mechanical, not bladder…those can wait) try to make it to the next turnoff, exit or area where you will be out of danger from passing traffic.  In the unfortunate circumstance of a break down on a major road keep in mind that other drivers are scared, tired and not paying attention.   Immediately post security, but not standing by the side of the road as if trying to flag down help. There is no reason to have your entire group out on the side of the road, especially children.  Have everyone in the vehicle scanning a designated sector and have someone on your team make a note of vehicles that stopped or slowed to observe you.  Since you will be prepped and ready to deal with any mechanical problem, just get it fixed enough to move to an area where you can safely do more extensive repairs.  For example, just put some more water in the radiator and move; replace the hose when you get to a more secure area.

    Do not run out of fuel.   Many vehicles are very troublesome to restart if they run dry.  More importantly, why give up all tactical mobility for a very small strategic gain?  Having enough fuel to move your vehicle just a few miles could get you out of a bad situation.   When you realize you will not have enough fuel to make it to your destination start looking for a secure stopping point and then start considering courses of action.  There is a world of difference between not having enough fuel to reach your destination and being stranded with no fuel at a place not of your choosing.


    As conditions deteriorate and people become more desperate, any vehicle moving under its own power may become a target for an ambush.  Two types of ambush I want to discuss are ‘route unblocked’ and ‘route blocked’.  There are more complex types, but most would be well beyond the planning and training capabilities of a gang of looters in the initial stages of a societal collapse.

    The best case scenario is an ambush that is discovered or strongly indicated (your eagle-eyed assistant driver spots some guys with rifles hanging around the side of the road up ahead), before you are in the kill zone.  Stop immediately and turn around at a high rate of speed.   Start planning an alternate route.  If an alternate route is not an option, get to a secure hide position and try again later keeping in mind that the route is not secure.   

    An ambush with the route unblocked is the easiest type of ambush to plan and execute.   The bad guys simply hide and wait for someone to come then start shooting.   If the ambush is not spotted and you suddenly find yourself in the kill zone there is only one option:  press your right foot down as far as it will go and get out of the kill zone as fast you can. 
    Think of it this way: If there are 10 bad guys, spread out 5 yards apart; they have a road frontage of 50 yards.  Assuming they wait until your vehicle is more or less centered in the group to initiate the ambush and they will continue to semi-accurately engage for another 100 yards after you pass, the kill zone is approximately 150 yards.  Traveling at 55 mph, your vehicle will be in the kill zone for about 5 seconds (granted, those will likely be the longest 5 seconds of your life).   Unless they have a fully automatic weapon and have trained to engage moving targets, you have a decent chance of getting out the other side and a much better chance than stopping in the kill zone.

    A blocked route type ambush is generally much easier to identify from a distance.   Thus bends in the road, over a small rise, or in some other location where it is not easily spotted are prime locations for blocked route ambushes.   Be particularly wary of these areas.   If the route is blocked but the vehicles were not being engaged, most military logistics convoy battle drills call for the vehicles to quickly back off and seek an alternate route.  The blockage could be innocent (fallen tree, disabled vehicles), or an abandoned, incomplete or unmanned ambush site.  Take advantage of your good fortune and disappear fast.  We are in the business of getting to our destination, not clearing the roads.
    The first question for the driver who realizes he is in under fire in a kill zone with the route blocked is whether or not the route is truly blocked.   This is why an understanding of your vehicle capabilities is so critically important.  Branches that are large enough to stop a car might not be an impediment to a large 4x4, a compact car might be able to fit in between obstacles set in the road, or a mid-size SUV might be able to negotiate the ditch around the obstacle.  Next, look at alternate routes to the immediate left or right.  In areas surrounded by pasture or farmland simply heading off the road might be the easiest alternative if your vehicle is off road capable (especially if the ambushers forgot to put an obstacle between themselves and the kill zone). 

    If you have no exit routes, the only way out is the way you came in.  Make a U-turn if you have the space, or put it in reverse and floor it (this is why I have chosen not to use a trailer). Your passengers should be generating as much suppressive fire as they can.   If the vehicle is damaged to the extent that it cannot move at all, dismount from the side away from the ambush.   This is truly the worst case scenario.

    Keep in mind, unless you are being attacked by a group of bad guys carrying air rifles,  the body panels of a civilian vehicle provide negligible ballistic protection.    If you are expecting a particularly rough trip, Army FM 55-30 Appendix O provides directions for field expedient vehicle hardening for larger trucks.   Smaller vehicles will lose their advantages of acceleration and maneuverability if too much weight is added.  Ballistic blankets are a lightweight, albeit expensive, solution that provides some protection against handgun rounds, shotguns and some smaller rifle rounds. 

    Firing from a moving vehicle

    Unless you have a fully automatic weapon, preferably on a mount, firing from a moving vehicle traveling more than 20 mph is not particularly accurate or effective for the purpose of hitting a target.   A couple lessons I have learned:  1) It is hard to generate a sufficient volume of fire from a semi-automatic rifle to suppress stationary targets when you are moving at speed.  2) It is next to impossible to aim using iron sights or scope when shooting from a moving vehicle.  3) Hot brass bounces around in vehicles and seems to always find its way down the back of the driver’s shirt.  4) Firing from inside a vehicle is unbelievably loud.  5)  The muzzle blast overpressure can break glass and shatter mirrors if your barrel is not extended well beyond the vehicle. 

    Having said all that, my natural reaction is still to shoot back at someone taking shots at me.  So forget about using the sights or scope.  The intent here is not to take precisely aimed shots to hit the bad guys, rather, to send enough bullets close enough to them that they duck their heads for just a few of those seconds that you are going through the kill zone (suppressive fire).   One technique is to old the rifle steady on the door frame with your offhand on top and point shoot, this will keep the weapon from bouncing around and allow you to see the impact of your round. (I HIGHLY recommend mixing in some tracers before a road trip.)   The bullet is traveling laterally at the speed of the vehicle.  Fired from a vehicle traveling 40mph, a 5.56 round at 3000 fps is going to move laterally nearly 12 inches from the point of aim in the 0.016 seconds it takes to get to a target 50 yards away.  (The same holds true for ambushers, they have to lead the target which takes some getting used to.)  If you tilt your rifle slightly so that the ejection port is pointed down it will reduce the amount of hot brass flying around the vehicle interior.  I keep using the term ‘rifle’ for a reason.  Save your pistol ammo.

    Final thought; the driver’s job is to drive, with two hands on the wheel.  Hitting the target but rolling the vehicle is still a catastrophic failure.   Drivers drive, shooters shoot.


    For groups sharing a common BOL or planning to travel in the same direction, a convoy will provide extra protection from threats on the road, additional security at halts, and the comfort of not being alone.  Again, some common Tactics, Techniques and Procedures used in the Iraq and some non-combat areas can be adapted for use during a vehicle convoy during a survival situation.

    Before rolling out, ensure that everyone on the convoy knows the route, expected speed, and next two scheduled stops, and a ‘floating rally point’.   A ‘floating rally point’ is simply a designated distance from any point or incident that the convoy will stop and rally.  For instance, if the floating rally point is five miles; after an ambush, breakdown or just gets hopelessly fragmented in traffic, the lead vehicle will continue five miles and stop at the first securable area available; the remaining vehicles are on the lookout for the lead vehicle at the 5 mile mark.  Once all the vehicles are rounded up, the convoy continues on.  This technique gets the convoy to safety, negates the need to establish multiple rally points along the route, and eliminates the guesswork of where the rest of the convoy is going to top.

    Depending on the number of vehicles in your convoy, duties can be divided.  Placing your most mechanically inclined person in the rear vehicle allows him or her to assist on any breakdowns without the need to backtrack.  If you have a tow bar or tow strap, place the vehicle with the best towing capability in the rear with your mechanic inside with your first aid person.  Placing the best navigator in front is not a bad idea either.  If you are using radios, the vehicle with the best range should go in the middle.   

    If you have three or more vehicles, consider using a scout or ‘rabbit’ vehicle around a mile or one terrain feature ahead of the next vehicle, but within radio range.   This vehicle will be the eyes and ears of the convoy and they should have the best optics with them.  If they see something suspicious, the convoy can take a quick halt while they check it out, or immediately take an alternate route if the route is impassable.   In a combat situation the ‘rabbits’ were the fastest vehicles with the smallest turning radius, but they always had a full complement of radios, weapons and supplies.  In a G.O.O.D. scenario, I imagine that most of the supplies and spare fuel from the ‘rabbit’ would be cross loaded to other vehicles since they would be the first to encounter any ‘official’ check points and could be subject to confiscation of ‘hoarded’ supplies and ‘dangerous’ weapons.

    A convoy is only as good as its ability to internally communicate.   Redundant means of communication in each convoy vehicle is the ideal.   Cell phones may be working; then again, they may not.  There are any number of hand-held ‘walk-abouts’ and CB radios on the market, as well as higher end radios available.   Keep radio traffic short and sweet, using the clock method of passing information back and forth. 

    Don’t forget to develop a simple code if radio communication goes out, or you have a last minute addition to your convoy that does not have a radio.  Something as simple as single headlight flashes for ‘need to stop soon’ and double flashes for ‘emergency stop’ and briefly using hazard flashers to indicate ‘message received’.  Use what works for you and always keep it simple.  Any vehicle without a radio should be placed between vehicles with radios.

    The rules for halts and security are the same, except that there are more people for security, and a larger space requirement at stops.  For a person looking to siphon some gas, the car pulled off on the side of the road with the driver sleeping is a much more inviting target than three vehicles a mile off the road with 360 degree security. 

    Plan for the Trip of a Lifetime

    The critical link between your current location be it home, work, or wherever, and  your ultimate destination is your transportation plan.  Thoughtful analysis, preparation, and practice, this critical part of many survival plans will go a long way to ensuring you arrive at your destination. The danger of traveling during a survival situation cannot be eliminated, but it can be mitigated.  Happy Motoring!

    In many states, it is illegal to transport fish from public waters to private waters [or vice versa].  You might be okay going from private waters to private waters.  The concern is that you might introduce disease from one area to another and thus contaminate another area.  He should probably look into stocking his pond from a legal supplier. - Alan W.

    Mr. Rawles,
    Thanks for the blog and your books.  I have given several copies of "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" away as gifts. I consider it a network fishing lure of sorts, to find like-minded people.

    To the point: Another set of dominoes to fall, if the US credit rating is reduced from AAA many pensions will not be able to hold US Treasury bonds, as their bylaws or rules state that they must hold AAA paper.  Unless they find a loophole or change their rules it will be a cascade spiral down.

    Regards, - Ray I.


    Mr. Rawles:
    Please forgive me, but I believe you overlooked one potential scenario in the recent post about America's credit rating.   Notably the fact that the IMF wishes to install Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), as the reserve currency of choice over Dollars. (There are other links, just the quickest I could find.)    

    Both Russia and China have spoken out after the recent debt ceiling "crisis" and called for another reserve currency. 

    The chilling statement on the info wars article: It’s probably frustration more than anything else for China,” said Brian Jackson, a senior strategist at Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong. While the nation has concerns, “they realize there’s not a lot of options for them out there and so they need to keep buying Treasuries"  

    I believe that the IMF will eventually issue SDRs as the "currency of choice" as both the dollar and Euro continue to falter over the next few years. [SDRs] will become the option of choice, and eventually the only option. Just something to consider.   - Rhonda T.


    I appreciated your take on the economy.  One thing not mentioned was the role of the Federal Reserve in preventing failed Treasury auctions.  Some estimates are that in recent months the Fed has been the purchaser of up to 70% of Treasury bonds.  This will obviously go on until it can no longer be veiled from the world.  Then comes the hyperinflation via unlimited dollar printing and then total dollar collapse.   I appreciate your site!   - D.W.

    Thursday's headlines were full of deep drama economic news, including a market crash in Italy that looked like La fine del mondo come lo conosciamomeowner. Concurrently, the recent drop in silver has widened the silver-to-gold ratio 42.4-to-1. (Meaning: The cost of one ounce of gold currently equals just over 42 ounces of silver.) So this a great time to go to your local coin shop and perform a ratio trade: Ask them to swap your 1-ounce gold coins into bullion silver coins. (For readers in the U.S., pre-1965 mint date 90% silver Quarters are recommended.) Even though you'll have to pay a dealer's commission--so you'll only get about 40 ounces of silver in trade for a Krugerrand--I believe that you will be making a wise move. In fact, I predict that two years from now, when the silver-to-gold ratio has narrowed to 20-to-1 (or lower), you will thank yourself. (Or perhaps thank me, and buy a subscription.)

    Stock markets tumble amid eurozone fears over Italy and Spain.

    Reader John T. recommended this by Peter Schiff: Debt Deal is a Blank Check

    “The Outlook for Inflation Is Dire”: Peter Tanous

    Eric Sprott: The Real Banking Crisis

    Italy Under Fire in Widening Euro Debt Crisis

    Eurozone Debt Woes Get Messier

    Taxed Out New Yorkers Fleeing State (Vote with your feet!)

    Threat of Downgrade Still Looms

    US Job cuts at 16 Month High

    Gold up $50 per oz. Since Monday

    Some more articles, courtesy of John R.:

    Gross US Debt Surges By $240 Billion Overnight, US Debt to GDP Hits Post World War II High 97.2%, Official Debt Ceiling Increase Only $400 Billion  

    License to Debase US Dollar Further Jim Willie   

    Bob Chapman: All The World Economies In Trouble One Way Or Another   

    Deficit Will Grow While Economy Shrinks (Greg Hunter)

    Items from The Economatrix:

    Ron Paul Exposes The Deficit "Plan" Lies:  "Cuts Are Illusory, Not From Current Amounts Spent But From Projected Spending Increases"

    Wall Street Stocks Drop 2 Percent (over 500 points) On Economic Fears

    Dow Plunges 513, Worst Drop Since 2008

    Oil Falls To Lowest Level In Six Months

    The Next Leg Of The Housing Bear Market Has Begun

    $2,000 For An Ounce Of Gold Seems Like The Only Bet Worth Making

    The Imminent $2.5 Trillion Debt Ceiling Hike Will Unleash A Gold Price Surge To $1,950 And Higher

    F.G. sent this: Cooped Up: Chickens Come Home to Roost for Urbanites With a Yen for Hen

       o o o

    Nissan eyes powering your house from your car. (Thanks to Anthony S. for the link.)

       o o o

    Camping Survival just got another shipment of Wise Foods, packed in food grade pails.  They created a 10% off coupon on these, just for SurvivalBlog readers:  "wise10". These pails are in stock and ready to ship within two business days.

       o o o

    James C. suggested this video on do it yourself evaporative refrigeration: Zeer Pot Fridge. Cool your food or drinks with no electric needed! (This could be a life saver those who are insulin dependent!)

       o o o

    Six Creepy New Weapons the Police and Military Use To Subdue Unarmed People

    "...A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude..." - Aldous Huxley in the Foreword to the 33rd printing of Brave New World in 1966 (originally published in 1939)

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Safecastle's big 25% off sale on Mountain House long term storage foods ends tonight, so get your order in soon!


    Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

    Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

    Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

    I'm frequently asked what is going to happen when the U.S. Treasury's AAA credit rating is downgraded.

    First, consider this news article: Moody’s Affirms U.S. Rating, Warns of Downgrade.

    Here are my predictions, in a nutshell:

    We can expect continued credit market volatility. The recent debt limit increase did nothing to correct the basic problem. The U. S. government spends more than it takes in, so its residual payments are growing, inexorably. As this insanity continues, at some point U.S. Treasury paper will lose its AAA luster. that will initiate a very ugly chain of events that will play out something like this:

    1. One of the major credit rating agencies will drop the credit rating, most likely to the AA+ level.
    2. All of the other rating agencies will immediately follow suit.
    3. Subsequent Treasury auctions may fail, or more likely rates will have to jump by 100 basis points (1%), or more.
    4. This higher rate will ripple through the global credit market.
    5. As the cost of borrowing money goes up, several things happen:
      • Global credit shrinks to the point where a full-blown liquidity crisis could develop.
      • Marginal enterprises fail.
      • Economies slow.
      • Stocks tumble.
      • Municipalities begin to declare bankruptcy.
      • Commercial and residential real estate both take another leg down and more foreclosures will hit the market. This will lengthen the duration of the housing slump.
      • Notes are called. This can cause a secondary squeeze, as everyone begins calling as many notes of their own as possible, to cover their creditor's calls.

    The next phase is difficult to predict, but there are several possible outcomes:

    There could be more failed public debt auctions, followed by further credit rating cuts. If that happens, the interest rates will rise repeatedly, as the cleansing of the debt market continues: "Lather, rinse, repeat." In the long run, all of the bad debt will be driven out of the system, but it will be a slow, agonizing process. Government meddling will only prolong the agony. Meanwhile, precious metals prices will rise. If there are repeated ratings cuts of U.S. Treasury paper, then I would not be surprised to see $90 per ounce silver and $1,950 per ounce gold.

    Credit spreads will eventually adjust, as the yield curve stabilizes. But in the short term, some of the currency carry traders will suffer huge losses. (Since they depend on stable Forex rates, and stable interest rates.) Presently, the U.S. Dollar is drifting downward (at 73.955, the last time I checked the USDI), but it will likely plummet when there is a credit downgrade. You can also expect to hear about huge derivatives losses, and here we're talking about trillion dollar losses.

    There will also be lots of hedge funds going under. As I explained in SurvivalBlog back in 2007, hedge funds make their money by "borrowing short and lending long." That works magnificently in a stable credit market, and investors make piles of money. But when interest rates spike, hedge funds often suffer huge losses. Mark my words: The big hedge fund collapses will be preceded by announcements of redemption suspensions. Beware.

    What about the Euro? The EU nations are having some big problems of their own, and they may come to a head at the same time that the U.S. Dollar goes through its crisis. I have a friend who is a well-placed private capital manager. I respect his opinion. He recently sent me this thumbnail assessment of the Euro and the Dollar:

    "I suspect that over the next few years the Euro will come apart - not tomorrow. It will take time. Italy is also a basket case and with the third largest sovereign debt market in the world, [so] it's difficult for "Europe" to save.

    Apart from financial market weakness the economies will roll on with Greece becoming inexpensive to visit again and German export growth will slow as the Deutschemark becomes incredibly strong.

    In the US, I just don't see how the government can stop spending money. While everyone talks about wanting less government, everyone has a mother, father, aunt, uncle, etc who benefits from Medicare and Social Security. Those two items and unemployment account for roughly two-thirds of all government expenditures. They can't balance a budget without tackling those three items. Yet everyone wants them and I will bet politicians who take those programs apart will get fired by the voters. (i.e., not get re-elected.)

    So, I suspect the greatest threat to personal wealth is inflation as deficits and quantitative easing continues.

    What's the alternative? The Fed will ensure that short term rates will stay low for a while especially with the nervousness about the Euro people will look to the dollar. Again, over a decade or so the US dollar will gradually no longer become the world's reserve currency as countries look to alternatives. Recently the Middle East and China agreed a major oil deal which was not priced in US dollars. The Chinese Yuan would be a good medium term bet. Everyone knows the last year has seen more than the official inflation. Inflation will continue if not accelerate so keep that in mind when thinking through what to do."

    The long term outcomes from what I've outlined are all ugly. If the U.S. somehow manages to re-inflate and bail out some sectors, then we may see a few years of illusory "recovery". But at some point a big bust is inevitable. We could then see a devastating credit and currency collapse. That would result in a global depression that might last for several decades. Stock up and prepare to hunker down. If you don't already have country cousins that you can rely on, then it is high time to establish your own retreat.

    I am writing this article to give suggestions and my experience of finding, buying and building my retreat so people can see that you don't have to spend tons of money for one.  First off, let me tell you that it took over a year to find my retreat property, actively looking almost every weekend.  It included looking at more properties than I can count, and making an offer on 11 of them, before I got the price and property that I wanted.  It is a long and tedious process, but my family and I really enjoyed it.  We used to spend most weekends hiking different state and national parks in our area, so we used the retreat hunting to enjoy new areas to hike.  First, we found a realtor that we felt comfortable with and that grew up in the area we were interested in.  He also liked hiking, so he didn't mind exploring the hills and hollers with us.  We found a few we liked, but they were  all priced more than I felt they were worth.  We made offers, but couldn't get anyone to come down much on the prices.  Then, early this spring, we made an offer on one and it was accepted!

    It is only 12 acres, but has some nice features.  I'll go into them more in a bit.  I offered about half the price that most property around there was going for(there are many state parks, and BLM land all around, so everyone prices it for the scenic rustic value).  The woman that owned it was elderly and could not keep up with the land, so she was willing to give it to us for what we offered.  My point here is not to get discouraged if people won't come down to your price range.  Keep looking, and you will find your ideal spot.

    When we bought the property, it had a run down trailer, a small metal garage, and small log sheds that were falling down, along with a lot of junk that her son dumped there after she moved out, so we had our work cut out for us getting it cleaned out.  First thing we did was go to work making the trailer livable again.  We replaced the floor and carpet with mainly free or very inexpensive materials that people gave me, or that I found in the "Free Stuff" and "Materials" section of Craigslist. All the while I was collecting reclaimed wood and other materials and storing it in the garage.

    Next, we made use of a small clearing, and started dropping trees to make a larger area for our garden/livestock area.  I put my oldest boy to work splitting the wood, and my younger boy stacking it up.  Once it was clear, we used our tiller to till the whole area, while adding manure that we hauled from a stable down the road.  We came by every weekend and cleaned out the stalls for the farmer, and got rid of his large pile behind the barn.  He was more than happy to have the help cleaning up the stables.  After we tilled it 4 different times and added the manure and some green sand that I found for very little money on Craigslist, we started planting apple trees and some grapes that we got from a local nursery.  Growing along the border of our garden area are some wild raspberries and blackberries that act as a natural fence.  But because there is a very large deer population in the area, we decided to put a fence around the whole garden.  I found four 100' rolls on Craigslist for 20-35 bucks each.  That was a great deal. We decided to skip planting the vegetable garden since we weren't there every day, and because we have a nice size one at our home in the city.

    The whole time this was going on, we continued to collect building materials and make friends with the other people in our area.  Once the garden area was prepared, we decided to start building a more suitable retreat building.  One of the neighbors down the road had a backhoe that was just sitting around collecting dust, and rust.  He agreed to let us use it if we would haul some dirt and rocks away from his property.  We piled up all the rock and dirt close to a valley that we were intending to dam up to make a pond.  We used the backhoe to dig out for our partially underground home and shelter area, and also to push down some smaller trees to open it up a little more.  After the digging was complete, we started on the footers, walls, and floor.  We used rebar that I had gotten for free from a jobsite that I was working on, and concrete blocks that we got from Craigslist for free or very inexpensive (a lot of people just want the material off their property, so with a truck and some hard work, we got most of it for free).  The gravel and drainage pipe we also very inexpensive.  The most expensive part of this part was the bags of concrete to fill in the blocks.  We thought about just using dirt and sand to fill the blocks, but decided to make it as strong as we could.  We used block to go up four feet above the ground, and then stick built the rest and put local stone that a farmer had out in his field for the outside of it.  We used quite a lot of reclaimed lumber from old barns around here and from the buildings on the property.  The only things we paid close to normal price for was the concrete and the metal roofing. 

    We also ran the downspouts down into a 1,500 gal water tank that we bought from a farm supply store and ran a pipe and pump into the house.  We then had a finished 40x32 defendable home with a decent water supply.  (I did have to buy a water filtration system from a local dealer)   We also added a 12x32 safe room/shelter with reinforced concrete.  The concrete we got for dirt cheap by paying cash for leftover concrete from a job 10 miles away.  I had made a call in to local concrete companies a few months prior, telling them I would pay cash for any concrete that they had extra from a big job down the road.  A week after we finished building the block part of the structure, one of the companies called and told me they had sent too much to the job and had enough concrete for what I needed.  I already had the footers ready and had built the forms with used plywood.  I was planning on ordering concrete the next week.  Great timing.  We poured the walls and floor that day.  Then using some metal pour deck and some used steel beams bought for scrap prices from a job site, we built the roof, and ordered enough concrete for a 3 inch pour over the roof.  This made us a 12' x 32' foot shelter and a place to keep most of our beans, bullets and Band-Aids since theft is common around since most of the properties are weekend getaways.  We also hid the steel door behind a bookshelf.  We left holes and room for a blast door and the safe cell air scrubber from Safecastle for when we get the money for them.  Once all this was done, we back filled everything and put about a foot of dirt over the shelter. 

    The most expensive things for the inside of the house was the wood burning cook stove which I found used on Craigslist and the composting toilet.  We also added an outhouse to save the composting toilet for when it becomes extremely cold, and for the wife and kids at night.  We got all the cabinets we could ever need from Craigslist for next to nothing.  We also got a couple used sinks that were in very good shape.  I then made some furniture with some of the choice pieces of wood left from clearing the garden area.  When designing and building your retreat, waste nothing.  You can usually find a use for it down the road.  We then found a free sofa bed that was in good shape that someone just wanted hauled away.  We also found quite a few oil lamps from garage sales and flea markets.  The kids love going to flea markets and garage sales and trying to find stuff we can use.  Their eyes just light up when they drag us over to something and tell us how useful it would be.  We make a game seeing which one can find the best deals.  They love it.

    Our next project was to dam up a small valley to build a pond for a secondary water source.  We saw in the local paper that a excavating company needed somewhere to dump a lot of chunks of concrete from some sidewalks that they had torn up.  We decided that this would be a great interior for our dam.  They dumped it right where we needed it.  Then we used the dirt that we had piled up, which has a high concentration of clay to pack around the concrete.  We added a two-foot wide used drainage pipe for our overflow.  The pond isn't filling up as quick as I would have liked, but with the small amount of rain we have had lately, that is to be expected.  The kids are really looking forward to going to a large lake down the road to catch fish to stock the pond with.

    We have recently started to work on a couple of small caches around the property.  We borrowed the backhoe again and dug a few holes.  Then using rebar and old railroad ties we built the walls.    We then used some of the larger logs that We saved and used them as beams.  We then used the plywood from our forms and nailed it to the top of them.  The some salvaged rubber and contractor plastic was glued to the plywood and ran four feet across the ground in each direction [beyond the roof].  We then added dirt and branches over the top of it until it looked like the rest of the area around it.  The entrance to them are junk refrigerators with the backs cut out of them, painted olive drab, and camouflaged with netting and more sticks and branches until they were completely invisible.  While we had the backhoe, we decided to dig out two LP/OP positions.  They have yet to have anything else done to them, but that is in the works.  The next project on the list is to use all these free windows to build a greenhouse and passive solar heating system.

    We did all of the work with the help of just a few close friends and family.  Most of the materials were free or very inexpensive.  My suggestion is to start stocking up on any building materials that you can find.  If you don't use them, then most will make great barter or charity items for TEOTWAWKI.  Don't overlook anything as a possible material.  Tires, railroad ties, scrap metal, car hoods and an almost infinite numbers of other manufactured materials can be used for retreat building.  I suggest that anyone looking to build inexpensively should purchase The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler.  It has many useful ideas that I modified to suit my purposes.  Just use your imagination and get the whole family involved.  I found it most encouraging that a couple of our ideas we started by my five year old son. Semper Paratus, - Chris in the Midwest

    Calcium Hypochlorite could be worth it's weight in gold some day [, for drinking water treatment]. I'm very familiar with it because I've been a certified Aquatics Facility Operator for ten plus years and it's a staple item for swimming pools. I've had Calcium Hypochlorite sitting around in it's original shipping container (plastic) for several years, and have observed that the container will eventually turn brittle and break. Not a good situation, especially around some automotive fluids. I now store Calcium Hypochlorite in Ground Glass Stoppered Bottles that are inside of padded 6 gallon buckets. There is no metal to worry about corroding, and the ground glass stopper seals remarkably well. It's best to not store Calcium Hypochlorite inside living quarters. - Chuck H.

    JWR Adds: Since it is corrosive, it is also important not to store Calcium Hypochlorite with any metal within reach of its vapors.

    Regarding the Henry [AR-7 pattern] survival rifle, I feel it is important that readers be made aware of the front sight - in case anybody is considering ordering one before actually handling one. The front sight blade is a piece of plastic which is easily bent slightly with side pressure, and can easily be moved side to side with thumb pressure. I almost purchased the Henry survival rifle to carry in a backpack, in case a disturbance required me to walk a significant distance home. But without reliably accurate sights a firearm is worthless, and I have no confidence that the current production AR-7 front sight will not be moved off zero.

    The Marlin Papoose, which you recommended, is also a very good rifle which takes down into a compact package. However, I decided to buy a [Ruger] 10/22 and a Boyd's folding stock. With the 16.12 inch barrel and stock folded, the rifle fits into a school-type backpack along with basic survival gear for a two day walk home. On the range I can get 2.5 inch groups at 100 yards with the stock barrel and Federal Auto Match ammo. - Brian in Washington

    John R. sent this: The Hobbits Win

       o o o

    The new Red Dirt Cooking blog (penned by "Okie Ranch Wife"-- a sobriquet familiar to SurvivalBlog readers) has some great insights and some very useful recipes. She plans to cover home canning and long term food storage, as well.

       o o o

    Somehow, I missed this great piece when it was posted on July 6th in the Alt-Market blog: The Essential Rules Of Liberty. (Thanks to C.R.W. for sending the link.)

       o o o

    My wife Avalanche Lily and several SurvivalBlog readers all alerted me to some recent bureaucratic imbecility: Woodpecker-Saving Daughter Costs Mom $500, Possible Jail Time

    "When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation." - Dr. Adrian Pierce Rogers

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Today we present another entry for Round 36 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 Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (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 (a $180 value).

    Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

    Round 36 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

    It has been learned that this article was simultaneously submitted by the author to the American Preppers Network blog, so SurvivalBlog is relinquishing any copyright claims.

    Wood heat: Is it really the best source, and why? This seems to be a popular question. I’m sure you have heard about the many benefits of an alternative energy source, but how much do you really know about wood heat? Maybe you remember that you grandmother used to cook on a wood cookstove back in the day, but you probably assume that wood cooking is old fashioned and outdated -- think again!  How much do you spend a year to heat your home? Not to mention the additional cost of cooking your food, and heating your water. We just filled up our propane tank the other day, and the cost was over $1,200! For that price, you can almost buy an alternative heat source, water source, and cooking source. If your interested in switching your home to a simpler, cheaper, more self-sufficient abode, you’ve come to the right place. In the following paragraphs I plan to answer common questions about heating with wood; I will share with you what I’ve learned about using wood heat, and how beneficial it has been for my family.

    I have been living in Montana since age six. For many of my younger years, my parents chose to live a very simple lifestyle; one that happened to be off grid.  Having lived off grid, I am now able to understand the benefits of solar energy and biofuel.  My dad became interested in solar energy and pursued building a house completely disconnected from all electricity. We powered our home from sources such as the sun, wind, and wood. My family lived off the land. We had a wood cookstove called the “Kitchen Queen” to heat our home. Before moving to Montana, my parents started an e-commerce business called Obadiah’s Woodstoves which sells products used for a more self-sufficient lifestyle. We sell many different products such as wood furnaces, free standing stoves, fireplace inserts, zero clearances fireplaces and other fuel burning products such as gas and pellet burning appliances. After working the business for nearly 10 years, I have learned much about using alternate sources as a way of life.

    For the first few years living in Montana, we didn’t have “instant” hot water. We had a ten gallon water tank that had a wood firebox underneath the tank to heat the water. Every time we wanted to take a shower, we had to go outside and chop kindling to build a fire for hot water. After a few years, this became a major hassle; it took nearly an hour to get a tank of hot water large enough for two very quick showers. My dad came to the realization we needed a more efficient source to heat our hot water. He began to research how we could possibly heat our water through our Kitchen Queen cookstove and found an invention called the “thermo-front” hot water heater.  Not only did the Kitchen Queen heat our home, it was plumbed into our domestic hot water as well. The thermo-front is a steel box, lined with Teflon; this box fits inside your firebox on the right-hand side. You then plumb from the thermo-front directly into your domestic hot water system. You also have the option of plumbing this into radiant heating; which is another option to heat your home. The only thing better than hot water, is free hot water!

    Domestic hot water is not the only water source the Kitchen Queen has to offer; it also has an optional stainless reservoir that sits on the rear of the stove. The reservoir can be plumbed through your firebox with a stainless water coil. However, it is not a pressurized system; since the tank is not pressurized, it cannot be plumbed through your domestic hot water. You have the option to install a water spigot on the side of the reservoir for easy access to the water, otherwise the water is accessed through the lids on the top of the reservoir.  Many folks without access to electricity or plumbing such as the Amish, will use the water reservoir for their main hot water needs. You can use the water for bathing, doing dishes, cleaning up around the house, or taking care of children. When installing the water coil with the reservoir, you have to be sure not to let the water boil in the reservoir; if this happens, it can cause mold and mildew to grow in your home. However if the reservoir is used properly, it works great as a humidifier. Although the reservoir is made of stainless steel, the water is not safe to drink.  Standing water in the tank creates a breeding ground for bacteria and other airborne contaminants.

     A wood cookstove has many options and benefits to suffice your domestic needs. One of my favorite features of a wood cookstove is that it offers the luxury of a wood heat oven; it is much like one on an electric stove -- minus the fixed temperature. This oven serves two purposes; it gives your home that cozy warm to the bone feeling and it also has potential to make the best apple pie you’ve ever tasted. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Many cookstoves offer a large firebox, which is great for overnight burn times; no hassle, no worries. If you burn properly seasoned firewood, and have knowledge of how to pack a full firebox; you can sometimes get a 20 hour burn time!

    Because I work in sales for alternative energy products, I come across many people who have no expertise in wood heat. Most people don’t realize how simple it is to use wood as your main energy source. Most wood cookstoves are non-catalytic, which implies they aren’t as efficient. Although cookstoves may not be as efficient as a catalytic wood stove; cookstoves are a care free stove; you can easily burn paper and bark in your firebox with no problems. Catalytic wood stoves have a type of a filter that re-burns the smoke, thereby reducing emissions and making the stove more efficient.  With a catalytic converter, you cannot burn any green wood, wet wood, bark, paper, or any trash without clogging the catalyst.   Currently, there is a national exemption by the E.P.A. for wood cookstoves.  This means that a wood burning cook stove does not have to be E.P.A.-compliant for emissions.  Emissions measures the amount of particulate that is being put into the air when the stove is burning.  Studies indicate that more pollution is created in the environment from fallen dead trees that are left in the forest to rot.  These trees out-gas more pollution than a wood stove!  We can thank our environmentally friendly “green” organizations for closing the woods off to the public.  The roads are literally gated to prevent the harvesting of firewood, hunting, or other recreational use of the vast National Forest lands here in Montana.  Well, that is another subject for discussion at a later time.

    The average household will use between 8-to-12 cords of wood a year [in northern climates]. According to the Consumer Energy Center: “The dimensions of a “standard cord" is a stack of wood piled 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. You won't get a full 128 cubic feet of firewood with a standard cord because of the airspace between the pieces of the wood; the amount of wood in such a stack will depend upon the size and straightness of the pieces, how they are split and how the wood is stacked. Because of this, the total cubic feet in a cord can vary from 70 to 90 or more cubic feet.” Depending on your location, a cord of wood cost around $100, or you always cut your own wood for free -- it doesn’t get any better than free. Its comforting to know that no matter what happens with the economy, you can always chop down a tree to provide heat, water, and food for your family.

    Not only was our heat and water sourced from alternative energy, we also had solar panels that produced on sunny days; if the sun wasn’t shining, we also had a back up generator that would keep our battery bank charged. It is reassuring to know that no matter what happens you can always be warm, cook your food, make hot water, and light your home! By using alternative energy sources you are able to do all things listed above. It’s amazing how simple, economical and self-sufficient a person can survive when having the correct tools.


    "Kitchen Queen 380 Wood Burning Cookstove." Obadiah's Woodstoves.

    "Firewood." Consumer Energy Center.

    "Kitchen Queen Cookstove." Obadiah's Woodstoves.

    It has been nearly six years since I first posted my endorsement of Wiggy's brand sleeping Bags, so the majority of SurvivalBlog readers have never read it. (As background: SurvivalBlog had only 9,377 unique visitors in August, 2005, but 287,665 last month.) So for the benefit of my newer readers, here is a re-post of that August, 2005 review:

    I don't write many product reviews, but I am uniquely qualified to write this one: In November of 1994 I rolled my 1968 Bronco on black ice on a winding stretch of Highway 12 paralleling the Clearwater River in Idaho. In that accident I suffered a severe back injury--so severe that the chiropractor that took the x-rays commented that he was surprised that I hadn't severed my spinal cord. Because of the injury, despite the best efforts of the doctors and chiropractors I've been unable to sleep in a bed for the past 11 years. (Any bed is too soft and causes muscle spasms.) Since December of 1994, I've spent virtually every night sleeping on a carpeted floor in a Wiggy's Hunter Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS) sleeping bag. It is a two bag sleep system with two different weight bags that can be used together or separately. I spend roughly 8 months out of each year in the light weight bag, and 4 months in the heavy weight bag.) I've slept for more than 4,000 nights in that FTRSS--that is the equivalent of two lifetimes of heavy recreational use for a sleeping bag. (Here is the math: An intensive recreational user probably camps out about 35 nights per year, multiplied by 50 years of camping equals 1,750 nights. Hence, two lifetimes for a bag would be roughly 3,500 nights.) Since 1994, I have spent approximately 4,000 nights--including about 250 nights in the field--in my FTRSS. Again, that is something in excess of two lifetimes worth of use.

    The FTRSS has been very comfortable and exceptionally durable. The bag has had zero zipper failures, and no rips or tears. Most importantly, is has never lost its loft or had its filling get clumped or re-arranged, despite countless machine washings. (I should have kept track of the number of times that I've washed it!) I highly recommend Wiggy's brand sleeping bags. The FTRSS models in particular are ideally suited for anyone that expects to give a sleeping bag demanding use. OBTW, I should mention that I have not been compensated in any way for making this endorsement. I'm just a very satisfied customer. If you want the best, buy yourself a Wiggy's bag!

    Addenda (July, 2011): Nearly another six years has gone by (so add another 2,100 nights to the tally) and my Wiggy's Hunter FTRSS is still quite serviceable. I like the Wiggy's bags so much that I recently bought several more of them (the Hunter Ultima Thule FTRSS model this time), as well as several more mated pairs of their Lamilite ground pads.

    Disclaimer (Per FTC File No. P034520): Wiggy's became a regular SurvivalBlog advertiser in 2008. The company has never solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, nor did they provide me any free or reduced-price gear. I wrote the preceding review long before the company ever became a SurvivalBlog advertiser!

    If you want the very best in American-made sleeping bags (not imported) that will last a couple of lifetimes, then buy Wiggy's bags.

    Hi Jim and Family,
    If you have the time, will you please pray for rain in the South?  My extended family and I live in the Austin area.  The drought in the South, especially in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and parts of Louisiana is especially bad.  The temperature hovers around 100 degrees F every day.  Obviously, when your family has lived here all their/our lives, we cannot move to another state.  We have to stay here because of our jobs and each other. 

    If you don't mind, please implore all of our dear readers of the SurvivalBlog, to please ask our Lord and Savior for some blessed rain.  We are so desperate for it.  Many of our ranchers and farmers in Texas are hurting so badly.  It is sometimes costing up to $1,000 [per week] for the ranchers to feed their horses.  Farmers have lost countless tons of crops.  I know you are busy, but we would so appreciate it.  My family all knows about you and your wonderful blog.  I have been reading it for about two years now and I love it.  I am in my mid-fifties and my husband in his mid-sixties.  I convinced my husband to begin preparing and stocking up for the future.  He has begun to take this seriously and I am so proud of him.  We are definitely reading the handwriting on the wall and believe that we are very likely in the last days.  If not, then the country is most likely headed into a deep depression for many, many years.

    I would like to thank you over and over for the blog.  It is so appreciated and so are you.  I am so happy that you have remarried to "Avalanche Lily" so soon after Linda passed away.  I hope that everything is going well for your new blended family.  I praise God for wonderful Christians such as you and your family.

    May God continue to richly bless you, - Sheryl in Texas

    The debate on firearms manufacturers and caliber are endless, so each person must in the final assessment decide what works for them and theirs, having over 50 years of shooting, gunsmithing experience, and having taught firearms safety, I would like to offer a insight on a wonderful .22 rimfire rifle that is available from Henry Arms Company.  It is called the U.S. Survival Rifle .22. (A very appropriate name, for current conditions in this world).   I first owned a variant of this little rifle back in the 1980s when it was called the AR-7 and enjoyed the unique shooting and storage aspects that this rifle offers.  The rifle is a breakdown unit where the barrel, receiver, and two supplied  8 round magazines, store in the butt stock and has the ability to float.  The size when broken down and stowed is approximately 16.5 inches by 6 inches.   This unit is great for a bugout bag, boat, backpack, etc.   This rifle is available on line from for about $200 and that includes shipping [to your local FFL], for a high quality, dependable 22 LR that's a winner have several of this, that I carry in each one of my vehicles and have in my general prep units. 

    The reliability is fantastic, having shot nearly 30,000 rounds thru them, without one misfire says a lot about a rifle. OBTW, I prefer CCI Stingers or Velacitor Hyper .22 LR ammo. It has several features I enjoy, the orange front sight, built in mounting rail on the receiver for a scope, makes this a great gun to have around.   My experience is that any gun that has little recoil, or noise that makes it hard to adapt to most people who do not have shooting experience is a blessing.  As far as caliber, I would not wish to be in range being shot at with a .22 LR hyper velocity hollow point, and this gun has a 8 round semi-auto capability that can lay down some lead rapidly, if required.  Also it can carry a magazine in the receiver along with 2 extra magazines in their storage area in the butt stock, (it only comes with two mags, you would need to buy a third), this gives you 24 rounds on hand.

    For those on a tight budget, this rifle compared to the average handgun is a steal. Consider that for about $800 you can purchase four rifles (which could help arm most of the average family), instead of buying one average-priced handgun of any caliber.  There are several YouTube videos about this great little gun. It also does not draw attention the way most assualt weapons do.  With the ever-increasing controls by the Washington anti-gunners that are always in work, having this. 22 LR rifle in your survival  planning should be prime consideration.   

    God bless this great country and also this blog. - John in Arizona

    JWR Replies: There have been several AR-7 makers since the 1960s, starting with late, great Arma-Lite company in Costa Mesa, California. Over the years, I've owned AR-7s from three different makers. They are indeed reliable guns, and being so compact and lightweight, they fill an important niche in family preparedness planning. They are also useful for firearms training of children. (Although I've observed that the single-shot Chipmunk teaches much better fire discipline.)

    Unfortunately, all of the AR-7 rifles have rather crude peep sights that make them unsuitable for precision pest shooting, which is one of the main chores of .22 rimfires. There are grooves for a scope mount, but unfortunately scopes with this type of mount have very poor "return to zero", when dismounted and re-mounted. So there goes the gun's "everything fits in the stock" advantage. Therefore, unless space and weight are at an absolute premium, I instead recommend buying the stainless variant of the Marlin 70P "Papoose" takedown rifle. Granted, they weigh more than an AR-7, and they don't float, but they are better suited to scope mounting which in my estimation makes them a better choice.

    Ol' Remus talks economic collapse: We have arrived. He may be right. The debt-limit compromise in congress was a travesty. Tuesday's drop in the Dow and