March 2012 Archives

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Today we present the last two entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends today, but get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 40. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The solar still is the most written about yet least used survival technique there is. I would like to help change that, with some actual testing and practical knowledge, back to something you can really use for survival.

If you ask almost anyone that has read a book on survival, or taken a summer wilderness class, how they would acquire water in a desert environment, without hesitation they would say: “I would just build a solar still.” There is nothing wrong with that; it is one way to attain at least some water. The solar still is the stock answer, and not a bad one either. The desert is a harsh environment short on water and the ground is the only real place to find it hiding. Desert vegetation is extremely hard to squeeze palatable water from. Contrary to what you have heard. cactus, even the infamous Barrel cactus, do not contain enough refreshment without d’stilling their contents to sustain anyone. And if you have not had the opportunity to try sucking moisture out of a Barrel cactus, do not bother, Bleeeech. In fact, it will make you even thirstier, and some people even sick.

There is a problem, however. The next thing that same person will tell you almost in the same breath is: “But, they don’t work very well, and you wouldn’t have enough water to live on. Not to mention it wastes more sweat to build than you could replace with it.”

Those are all completely true criticisms.

Solar stills are inherently inadequate for evaporating the moisture from the ground, and any vegetation that you might add to it, into drinking water. There has only been one design in the history of its conception. Well, at least since they have been recorded in books, as far as I can tell. It’s like viewing the same photo, penned by the same hand, knocked out time and again from the mid-fifties in every book. Every one of them has it-- cut and paste, almost. As well as the same way too short paragraph description only slightly modified to avoid plagiarism.
The picture is a very plain line drawing of an inverted cone-shaped hole in the ground, out in the middle of a flat and barren land with nothing else around, and a sheet of plastic stretched over the hole to match the conical hole. There's a cup centered at the bottom, and then they always say--”a small stone or pebble” in the center to hold the point of the plastic to that cup. If you have a decent manual, it will explain that this old technique is used for a “if nothing else is possible” situation, and not advisable to try unless you're going to die anyway. Solar stills work, just not very well. That just bugs me.

So why put it in the book in the first place? Why waste that valuable space in the book? It would be just as easy to teach, “If you're going to freeze to death anyway, try and find a hibernating bear to snuggle with." It does not make much sense; if it can be better, than why not do it?

What if I told you that there is a better way. One that works. One that is worth it. One that could and will save your life and maybe loved ones with you. I know you need to know. Like me, you are a survivor. You will learn and will do what it takes to continue to live. That’s why you're reading this now. Knowledge is power, and's life.
So let's get started. First, a short history of the solar still. The first recorded sun-powered still ideas were made by the Arabs a millennium ago. They developed some of the modern things that we take for granted today, such as mathematics, and celestial navigation, etc. The first practical designs are credited to a Frenchman, Adam Lonicier in the year 1561. And then yet another Frenchmen, Agustin Mouchotin, in 1861, was the next in line to copy or alter this idea to his own ends while he was working on a way to refine the brandy business. It didn’t work out the way he expected, though. The man that first took the concept to its fullest modern day design was an American named Charles Wilson, in 1872. On a mining expedition in Chile, he developed a system of ocean-fed canals in large proportions and was able to purify enough water for a small city. That very same solar still worked without problems for more than forty years. Now, all of these designs were large, non-portable devices to gather moisture to supply their homes or cities.

In the US, we might have known and used solar stills since its founding, but it was first used as a “portable survival plan” in the First World War; at least, the original commercial printings date back to that time. Those plans became standard operating procedure, though just as a very last resort, from the Second World War on. Solar still kits with plastic sheets have been standard issue in Air force birds since 1960. And the only way they have changed is in the rotation of that kit for freshness. The conceptual design has remained exactly the same for these past 70 years.
There have been some improvements here and there to "solar stills. In fact, others came up with the concept of small portable blow up (for a boat or plane traveling over water anyway) solar stills that can be used while adrift in the water, and are now standard military on every boat/plane that would carry more than three people. These are based on the exact configuration of the in-ground models and really have but one extra benefit..... the unlimited supply of water.

The other improvements have all been made to the non-portable home units now being built with new space-age materials. They have changed the materials such as the covering glass and used reflecting mirrors, and added +/- 5 % here or there, varied the depth of the water or the insulation under it, as well as colors and gained a few more percentage points, and so on. The one thing that made a huge difference however, was if you could hold the inside of the still in a vacuum. This will improve the workings up to 100%. I know of no way to achieve that with a hole in the desert floor and pocket materials, unfortunately.

These changes also have nothing to do with a “wilderness survival solar still”. Not unless you can carry an entire hardware store in your pocket. In that case it would be easier to just carry the extra water. The wilderness solar still design has not changed at all. It’s still just a hole in the ground, with little science involved other than trying to evaporate water.
Until now.

My wilderness solar still, described here, has an increased output of over 400% . So, how does one improve on a hundred year old hole in the ground? Like most people, I have heard and read about Solar stills for my whole life. I have implanted the illustration to memory, cataloged and filed. But when was the last time you ever built one? You do go out and build
at least one of these every year, right? Testing with the various substrates, soil conditions, and atmospheric anomalies that will give better results, right?
Wait, you don’t? Me neither. I never did, until a little more than 15 years ago. Oh, I played around a bit with them when I was a kid, but never seriously. Why would I? If it’s been written in the books for 70 years of course I can trust it. Right? Well just like anything else, I want to “know” what I can and cannot count on. I need to know how much liquid can one get out of, say, a four foot diameter model in the Arizona desert in mid-summer, with the materials I carry.

This was not answered in any book. In fact not too much is ever mentioned in any survival books about solar stills except the simplistic version on how they are made, and that they do not work very well. If it was a firearm, would you trust that it fires accurately because a book publisher that printed off millions of copies said that it did, and that once purchased there would be no need to test fire it? Well, I guess a lot of sheep--I mean people have done that a few times.

Everything that one will rely on for survival should be run through its paces to find its weaknesses and its breaking points and faults. Find out if you can depend on it, or if it is worth the weight in your pack. Or, you can pack it and wait to find out later when there are no other options. I know several people right now that have all the fixins for a dandy of a solar still in their B.O.B.s. At best they have only imagined ever making one. Again, relying only on those books with the same short descriptions and same simple picture, they trust that in a dire time of need it will work just fine. It does on television! I bet that half of them will not even know how to dig the hole in hard soil without a shovel in their bag.

I fear that is the way with a lot of gear, though. Like carrying condoms in a small survival kit. Someone spread that around long ago and it stuck. I’m sure it came out of Viet Nam. Latex was just starting its heyday and they were being handed out like gum. Sorry about the pun. Today rookies are still adding them to their kits, and some do not even have a clue why.
Not that long ago, I had someone on a preppers board post the list of contents of his “kit'” and I gave a few suggestions with a list of my own. He thought it was great that I added a few plastic Ziploc bags--”I could use one to carry water in if I had to”, as well as fifty other uses for them. He said he should have something like that as well. But he had listed two condoms (no spermicide or lubes). I asked what he used those for--chance encounters? He did not have a clue. He had no idea why they were taking up space in his kit. Not to mention that they do not make very practical water carriers.

There are better ways.
I am the sort of man that has to go test things. To find those better ways. In fact, every year, for three to four days I go out somewhere with only my small survival kit, and some hopefully unused emergency-only safety gear. I see what the kit is made of--or really--how I made it. Added to that are the numerous backpacking trips, hunting/fishing excursions, and the like. All are great times to test out gear. If it can be improved, it gets revised. It will never be perfect, but there is never a perfect emergency situation either. They just happen, and the kit is there to help fill in some of the gaps. The main revisions are in the knowledge and thought base and can change with the area you're in, and adapt what you have or find without having to carry any extra gear. I even revised a common motto: Practice what you think you know, and know what you have practiced.

The solar still is no different. I want to know what to expect, even if I lived in, say, Minnesota, or somewhere else water is not such a commodity; I would still want to know if and how they work. You never know when you might end up in a completely different environment than what you’re accustomed to.

Like most others, I took the solar still for granted for too many years. Until one day someone asked me how they worked and why. I started quoting the text books. Gave the same answers in the beginning of this article. Somewhere in the middle I caught myself and started rethinking the idea of actually testing them out and seeing with my own eyes how they went so wrong, and what they can do in a real-life situation. I wanted to see if I could improve them so I would not have to give those same horrible answers.

I reside north of Phoenix, Arizona these days, the perfect Area of Operations to test such a thing. It’s great here in the off-summer times but H*ll the rest of the year. There is not much water in the cool months and none in the hot. On the whole, it’s dry. One has to plan his outings around water. Either hike to it or carry enough of it--there is never enough.

At a minimum, once a week the local news has a story of at least one adult going missing on a mountain hiking trail that is right in the city. Worse, at least two or more times a year there are persons missing in the Superstition Mountains east of the major cityscape. They are usually found in one to two days, thanks to well-trained Search and Rescue people, though it sometimes takes a lot more time. Most of these people are not from here or another desert area. They never have very much water with them, if any. They all started out as a simple three hour hike to the top of some peak that you can see from almost any place in town. A little bit of not paying attention and oops, they’re in another canyon that looks like the last seven they were in. Like most lost people they think, “If I just can get up around the next bend I will see where I messed up”. They are almost always wrong. These people should have the proper knowledge and carry the simple tools to provide for themselves just in case. In these situations I would suggest at least a full Camelbak and a charged cell phone. For those that venture out further, a lot more will be needed to survive this deadly place till you are found, or you find your own way out.

A Better Way
You will not find this in any of the survival books or in any print that I have not laid down. I came up with this on my own accord and have tried to inform people about this and other things that I have come up with to increase their chances of survival. I appreciate the opportunity Mr. Rawles has given me here to reach an audience of intelligent and like-minded preppers. I hope others will glean something from this and take it yet another step further.

You know what they say: If you can save just one life—well, it’s very true. Accidents happen all the time, and I could not even imagine something like watching my kids thirst for water that I could not provide for them.

“So, what heavy, fancy new gear do I have to add to my kit this time”, you're asking? Nothing. One more time: Not a thing! If you carry a hunk of plastic and a cup now for a solar still/E-shelter, that will continue to be the only thing you need. Think, for example, if the first car tires were square they would not work very well, and with just a small alteration in shape and no extra material we could get them spinning down the highway. Everything that I will try to detail out to you now I have taken to the field and tested personally. I started with baselines, building exact replicas of the solar stills in the survival books. I tested these in various places at various times during the year to get a good average base to draw from, and testing things my way in the same places and times of the year. These test that I have carried out were completed in the deserts around Phoenix, Arizona right around 1,600-foot elevation. I also have several other test sites in Northern California that I use at various times of the year.

Now unfortunately you are still going to have to dig a hole. It will be similar to the one that you should already be used to seeing in the books. This should be a hole at least five feet across; six feet would be even better. I have made plenty of them that were only in the four-foot diameter range and they worked well. The bigger, in this case, the better, materials permitting. The smaller ones that I have constructed had limitations of landscape rather than my just being lazy. The plastic I normally carry is about 6x8 feet and can be used for a quick shelter or what ever is needed most at the time.
The first difference you will notice is, instead of having a round hole with the deep point ending in the center, I want you to dig it in the shape of a common looking seashell. The shell that you should have in your minds eye is the iconic “Shell oil” sign design. When laying this shell shape out on the ground in the size that you would need, you will have to make sure that the top rounded side of the shell points away from the sun's tracking through the sky. In North America that would be to the north. To explain from a different angle, you want the sun to track east to west across the bottom third of the shell from right to left. The importance of this will be evident before we are through.

The top rounded section, or north side, would function much the same as the conventional still with sloping sides with approximately 25-45 degree angles, to as deep as you need the hole. The slopes would end not in the center, but on the bottom side of the shell shape about three quarters of the way down from the top, on the south side. The sides might have to be a bit steeper to end at the same point; that’s just fine. The bottom of the hole does not have to be a point, either. If the ground turns excessively hard, half flat is okay. The only need for depth is trying to get down deep enough to find damp soil. If you find damp sand a foot deep, you can stop there, but make sure that you will have enough vertical room to make the plastic work with your catch container.
This is tough without a simple picture. I have posted links to Photobucket. They are not masterpieces, just a simple computer “Draw” diagram.


The bottom of the shell area with the squared off “tail” is not sloped very much unless you have to, and you might have to because of sandy or very loose soil. If this is the case, slope only as needed. If you have a few rocks laying around they can be used to bolster the sides to keep the shape of the hole. In fact, keep rocks in mind while gathering supplies
because later in this article I will explain how adding rocks to the inside of your still will be beneficial.

One other thing to remember is that the solar still might have to be used for a few days and in loose soil the common man-made erosion will quickly fill up or change the shape of the solar still. Adding rocks may also stop this from happening. To minimize all this digging, use the spoils from the hole to raise the sides, increasing the depth with half the work.
The bottom of the hole is not one level. At the bottom, the “tail” end of the shell is a raised shelf. This shelf will hold the catch pot. I know this sounds a little complex but with the cross-section illustration it should be very simple. I will post a cross-section that is very easy to understand, coming up soon.

There are only three other things that you have to do before you can cover your still. The first is very optional. If your soil already has some moisture to it and is somewhat dark in color you may skip this step. If not I would recommend that you look around for any vegetation that you can collect and add to the hole. If you have any of that cactus that you thought that you could eat and had to spit out, chop it up and add it to the hole. Anything with leaves that’s not poisonous or will cause you great harm in harvesting will be fine. Grass is very good and holds a lot of moisture. It can all be broken up into parts just long enough to line the bottom and sides of the hole. Make sure that once the plastic is pulled over and angled that the vegetation will not make contact with the plastic. If it does it may siphon off those valuable water droplets before they get a chance to run to the cup.

The added vegetation makes two things happen. First, it will add more moisture to the distillation process, and second, it will help the bottom of the hole to be a darker color, if you have a light soil. Dark colors absorb more heat. This is also the time to add any other items of moisture. If you are by the sea, add sea water. If you are close to a cow-trampled mud wallow, add some cow patty mud to the still. If you have to urinate for god sake do not waste it in the bushes, pee in the still. Do not worry about it being gross or about what is in the water. The lower heat that is generated by the sun instead of fire will only vaporize the water molecules and leave the other things in the bottom of the still. You can even use radiator fluid as a source of moisture to add to your still. Do not under any circumstances try and drink radiator fluid without processing them through a distiller. (Ed. Note: Bad idea! Many auto coolants contain Methanol, which evaporates at a lower temperature than water. Methanol is poisonous, and will kill you by destroying your liver.)

The second thing that you should add is small rocks. Not too small, about fist or palm size or bigger, and flat if possible, any shape is okay if not. The ideal rocks would be very dark river rocks about 4-6 inches around and 1-3 inches thick. But when picking up rocks in the desert make sure you do it carefully. Some critters use them for houses. A bite or sting is the last thing you need in a survival situation. The rocks should be placed along the inner sides and bottom of the still. They serve two purposes. The first is that they collect heat, being a darker and a denser material. And second, they hold that heat past the time when the sun drops below a level that hits your solar still. This will change the name of your solar still to the “stored heat radiation still”.

The still works on simple properties of moisture evaporation. This is accomplished with heat. The longer you apply heat the more water you can make. In fact, the time of day your still makes the most water, believe it or not, is after the sun goes down. If you have done everything correctly, the heat should continue radiating out of the rocks while the air above the still should be getting cooler. This will condense more water faster than in full sun, at least for a while. It will also extend the time past the “sun hours” that you are still making water. We are trying to create a wide difference in temperature, inside the still and out. As the temperature on different sides react to each other, they are still making you water.

The third thing to add before sealing your solar still is the container to hold the water that we hope will fill it several times. Just make sure that it is stable on the shelf that was constructed just for this vessel. If it falls over or you knock it over trying to remove it, you could turn a bad situation worse, if not fatal. This container can be almost anything that holds water--a pan, jug, plastic car part with dirt under it to make it stable, plastic bag with dirt to hold it in a cup shape, or a soda can or bottle with its top cut off--basically anything you have that’s clean and will hold water. I prefer to use larger pan-type catch basins. This makes it easier to position the point that water will drip from.

Not everyone will be carrying a length of tubing long enough to reach comfortably from the top to the bottom of the still and also be secured. Not having to open the still after its closed, however, will help with maintaining continuous heat trapped in the solar still. Any loss of heat will take a period of time to regenerate. Really the only time you would carry a tube long enough is if you were carrying it just for solar still construction. There are other reasons to carry tubing in the desert, though not that long. One of them is to gain access to trapped water in cracks and such that you would not be able to get to any other way. So adding a few extra feet might make things easier if you plan on using a solar still. What is the right length to carry? Go try it out yourself. This will depend on many variables--the depth of the hole is the main length but other factors will come to bear in the installation. If your kit now contains six feet, that will be more than sufficient.
So, we have our hole in the right shape--I will explain why in a bit--and we have it lined with rocks and/or vegetation. We have also tried to add as much moisture that we could find, as well as making sure that the catch container and the tubing, if used, will not be accidentally tipped or moved. It’s time to cover the solar still.

The plastic used can be any that you have. Clear or black, blue if that’s what you’ve got. I prefer the clear to opaque. Why? I want the heat, especially the infra red light, to pass easily through the plastic and do its heating “inside” of the hole. And I want the plastic as cool as possible. If it was black or a darker color, the plastic itself would be heated and it would change the temperature ratios and alter my expectations. Now if all you have at the time is black plastic, then use it. It works too. Some people even say that it’s the black that works better. I will not. You can make your own choice. For these results pack the clearer shades. Next the plastic is carefully stretched out over the hole, then using the spoil piles removed from the digging placed over the plastic all the way around the edges. On the south or the “tail” side of the still, I run the plastic up halfway into the spoils pile. This will give me a steeper angle on that side. When this is covered with the condenser material it will also help increase the reconverting of vapors in concert with the condenser.

There are two things that you have to be careful of here. The first is, that you leave enough slack in the plastic to have it dip in the middle, very similar to the original concept. You should first drape the plastic over the entire still and secure it in several places first, so you can make adjustments as needed before you bury the whole edge. The second is that once you start to seal the edges you should make sure to keep them as sealed as possible. You do not have to bury them with tons of dirt, but they should be as held down securely
and without many bigger rocks under or above it. You are trying to make the inside as airtight as you can under such primitive circumstances. I have seen many solar stills, constructed by untrained persons that have learned from these incomplete books, that have only one rock on each corner to hold the plastic down. This is not enough. Outside air entering the inside will not only cool but dry out the air inside of the still.

Now we are getting to the important parts. The rest was important but similar to a conventional still. From here out it changes dramatically.
Again, a little history before we go further. A solar still is a simple still. One has to look and think of it just like any other type of still, however. If you have any schooling and remember chemistry class you will remember how to distill water on a stove or lab tabletop. Very simply, heating water over a flame turns it into vapor and rises. At the top of a tapered flask it turns drastically, which helps it make contact with the walls of the tubing. Once out of the flask it is directed into a condenser. The condenser in this case would be a larger tube around the smaller tube that the steam is flowing through, with cool water flowing in between the two. The instant the steam contacts the sides of the cooled tubing it turns again into liquid, and flows out of the end of the condenser into a catch container. Even if you are distilling alcohol, you would do the same thing. Heat a liquid, turn it to steam and let it rise. Once it is removed from the heating vessel it changes direction and is cooled by a condenser of one design or another, usually cooler water Water is very good at pulling the heat out of things, especially clumsy humans. The key points are to heat, turn the water to vapor which rises to contact the plastic sheet, and most importantly, condensing back to liquid and falling into your catch basin.

In our solar still we use the hole and the plastic to trap the sun’s rays to create heat. With this heat we will turn the moisture in the still to vapor. We will allow it to rise and contact the condenser. The only thing that there is for a condenser is the hot sheet of plastic that is stretched over the hole. It does not seem to efficient. And you know what? It’s not. Not yet.
As we know, the basic solar still does work, but poorly. The thing we need is the same thing that we would have if you were making whiskey. A large difference in temperature between the cooker and the cooler. The plastic that is trapping the sun's heat is being heated itself. This does not make things better.

Most of the reasons this solar still is different from all the rest is that I add a real condenser. This makes the water condense and collect into the cup instead of recirculating around and around, cooling the inside of the still, or worse, sticking to anything that’s in the still, like the sticks or rocks that were added or even the parched upper walls of the still, which are hungry for moisture.

Rule One: The quicker you can gather the heat, make vapor, and re-condense the vapor, the more water you get back. It all comes down to that. This speed is contingent on the condenser design and temperature.

There are a number of ways you can accomplish this and it all comes down to what you have on hand. Use what you have and keep the above principles in mind. You can look at this next diagram to understand what I will try to explain to you next. Listed as “The cross section”.

To make a condenser that will cool the moisture in your solar still I recommend a two- stage process. The first is to change that simple pebble we are told to toss in the center of
our plastic to a much more capable form. Again, using what you have. If dirt is what you have then so be it, use dirt. Not a simple handful, but a pan full. The pebble will still be needed though. It will be used to hold the point where the water will be dripping from, underneath. Make sure that it is directly over your off center catch container. After that, you will continue to add soil over the pebble until a large enough patch covers an area about the size of a plate or larger. This only has to be as thick as needed to build up to that size an area, but a little more is okay and will keep the condenser cool longer. Just make sure that the plastic sheeting you're using will take the weight and not tear or stretch too far out of proportion. Remember, later in the day the now heated plastic might have changed its properties, so check on it now and then for stretching.

Keeping this upper soil cool will make a huge difference in your solar still. If you happen to have moist soil, you are golden. Keep some out from the digging of your still if you can; if not, try to find a way to moisten the soil. This time get a friend to pee on it if you have to.

Other methods that I have tested used things that I had in my pack. A small aluminum backpack frying pan with no sharp edges to puncture it was placed on the plastic. I was able to place it in just such a way as to have almost the whole bottom of the pan in contact with the plastic and still have it point to the catch container. The aluminum worked fairly well, actually, when I filled it with soil for weight and cooling. Aluminum does not hold a lot of heat but transfers it quickly, and so it makes a good material to use.
I do not recommend rocks or steel. These materials trap and hold ambient heat and would work in reverse of the way you needed. You are trying to create a place under the plastic that is cooler than the rest of the plastic, in an area about a foot plus in diameter, and evenly built up the south side to where the plastic is held down. Referring to the pictures I have provided should help to clarify any of my miscommunication, I hope.

The next part is just as important as the last one and rounds out your solar still to a lean mean water making machine. It is also one of the reasons that you had to dig the hole in the shell shape and orient it to the sun the way I have explained. It's half of the real key to the entire still: Shade.
Wait! That’s supposed to be a bad word in solar still construction, right? All the books say to stay away from all shade. No image will have a tree, let alone a small bush, in them that one might take to mean shade. So why shade?

Shading one side of the solar still will do more for making water than everything else you have done so far. In essence, you will be making your condenser cooler and making a greater difference in the temperature between the two sides. By shading the southern 1/3 of the plastic (remember the shell shape), you are creating a much cooler area that the water vapor will adhere to and which will quickly run down to the point and pour off in streams into the catch container. After you have constructed your still, make sure after the first hour that you monitor the catch, because if the vessel is small, or you are making a lot of water, it will overflow and waste your valuable moisture.

The first part of making this shade is with the spoils pile that you should have from digging the hole. You had to use some to hold down the plastic but there should be a lot left over. When in the planning stages and you are lining the hole up with the sun's tracking line, make a note to put the spoils on the southern rim of the hole. It will save you from
having to move it twice. This pile might just be enough in the wintertime. The sun tracks low in the southern sky, creating long shadows. In the summer it will just be a good thick base to help insulate that side of the hole. You will have to add to the top and maybe even the sides of it, as needed; you will have to adjust it through out the day from time to time as the sun tracks through the sky. You want the shade line to fall right across the bottom 1/3 of the shell shape at all times or as much as possible. It should fall right at the end of your shelf inside the still and the tip of the soil you have added as the condenser to the top.

What should I use for the shade? Look around. It could be anything--leafy branches of a tree, clothing items that you can spare (not ones needed for body protection--you will lose more water than you can replace when direct sun contacts more than 20% of your body), an extra tarp not needed to keep you out of the sun, maybe even something like a fire reflector design (built with small logs). Even plane or car parts. Again, take into consideration that it might have to be adjusted throughout the day to optimize the placement of shade.

While I’m at it I want to go over a few other things. Any solar still will have to be moved from time to time. There is only so much moisture in the small area of the ground under your still location and in the vegetable matter you might have placed inside. When the amounts drop off a lot, start planning the next one.
Also, you do not have to only make one, for many reasons. You might have a group of survivors that would require a lot more water, or just plain redundancy. Your solar still is a delicate structure and can be destroyed by an unforeseeable accident that could take away a needed chance at surviving.

Also, the hole does not have to be a shell shape; it can be anything that you want it to be. It is just an easy way I came up with to teach the three-dimensional aspects needed for construction with an easy-to-remember shape that just works, and includes the shelf and offset plastic not known in any other still.
Oh, and very importantly, try to keep the “pebble replacement” condenser damp, and shaded as much as possible. The evaporation of the moisture from this area will super-cool the plastic underneath, and condense vapor more quickly. This means a lot more water for you. But that evaporation will dry out this soil and allow it to warm up, decreasing production.
That’s it.

So, you want to know what all this amounts to? I know what they've done for me and for others that I have so instructed. I can tell you those facts and what to expect.
In comparison with a classically-built solar still I have, at a minimum, quadrupled the output. Let me say that again: Four times the output in the worst case environments every time. I have been able to pull water out of ground that was so bone dry a conventional solar still did nothing--not a drop. You can do better in areas that have more moisture in the soil, obviously. But then the Extreme Still will work far better, too—as much as 8-10 times better.

This may still not sound like a lot to you. Think of it this way. The reports vary, but they say you need at least 1.5 to 2 quarts of water per person, per day, to survive while resting in high temperatures. It's really more like a gallon a day, in the real world. Good luck getting that amount from a classic solar still. You might, if you're incredibly lucky, be able to get half a quart if you left it all day without a drink. Again, if you were lucky. With the Extreme Still in the same conditions, two people can drink two to four quarts per sunlit day from one still, if not more. And it will keep working long after the sun goes down, for even more water.

All these figures are relative due to different conditions but the 4:1 ratio will always stand as a minimum baseline between the two stills. It’s only a baseline as well; in some testing areas I had more than six times the results or higher as an average baseline.

The last time I was able to write something up on my new still design it had more pictures than words, I think. Maybe some here read it a few years ago. It started in an area that was powder dry. Clouds of dust arose as I dug a small four-foot wide hole with an E-tool. I think the entire thing was less than two feet deep, as well. I only had opaque plastic, and I was trying the test with almost no vegetation added for demonstration purposes, just a few Mesquite sprigs that were close. I did have lots of very dark rocks of the right size, although square and pointy. The outside temperature was more than 113 degrees, and my “shade” for the D’still was a very weird pair of plaid pants that I found twenty feet from where I dug the hole. I used two poles and some brush stuck in the spoil pile to hold the pants out and across the still for shade.

All this was completed after I had already constructed a classic still, with prime materials and a lot more care (It was a little earlier and was not so hot yet). The classic one that was set up forty feet away--text book, as they say--and was five and one half feet across. It had the benefit of “working” the entire time as I constructed the other D’still, as well as the time I let both run together.
Once constructed,, you will see within seconds after sealing the Extreme still, water droplets forming in the shaded area, clinging to the underside of the plastic. A perfectly demarcated line of refreshing water droplets filling in the shady side. Almost clear on the sunny, or hot, side.

Within fifteen minutes the temperature inside the Extreme still was up over 170 degrees. Within three hours, I was very hot and had my work calling –I had to wrap it up. When I pulled the two covers to look at my effort for such a blistering day: I received nothing from the classic still. Zero. I pulled two and a half cups out of the dust with the D’still, in three hours!
Which one do you think I will use when my life or those that I care about depend on it?


This is going to be a landmark year for survivalism. There are a myriad of important societal, political and economic events on the radar that are fueling an expansion of interest in ‘being prepared’. Worldwide economic uncertainty, global political tension with Iran, an election year in the United States, and the approaching social phenomenon associated with December 21st, 2012 all loom. A decade’s worth of catastrophic events including terrorism, large-scale weather disasters and public shootings have only served to bring public uneasiness to a boil. More people are reacting, as sales of food stocks, firearms, and outdoor survival gear have all seen significant recent increases. These factors are combining to create a mainstream adoption of the survival mindset, and have key implications for those of us preparing for the worst. The business of survival is booming. This article seeks to break down and analyze the factors driving this expansion and examine the effects it will have on Survivalists in 2012.

My journey into becoming a Survivalist is still only beginning. It started with my growing concern for self-defense and a desire to protect people I care about. A friend called me one summer afternoon from her car to tell me that she thought she heard someone in the next room as she was entering her house. Her roommates were gone for the summer, so she thought someone might have broken in. As a headstrong and naïve college student, I didn’t hesitate. I went to investigate. It wasn’t until I approached the back door to the house that I realized how totally unprepared to deal with a possible threat I was. I wanted to protect my friend, but found myself unable to do so. Foolishly, I went inside unprepared anyway. I found nothing out of the ordinary, but from that moment on I decided to take charge of my own well being to protect the people who depended on me. Two months from that day I had bought my first firearm and went on to obtain my CCW permit.

But it wasn’t until quite recently that a full understanding of the survival mindset took root in my head –being able to defend others or myself with lethal force was really just the beginning. For months after my college graduation I couldn’t shake the feeling that the lifestyle I had enjoyed would not continue into the future. Part of this was based on a study I had done in school on the effects of unsustainable energy consumption. This feeling didn’t make me afraid of my future, but instilled an understanding that I needed to not become too reliant on the conveniences and pleasures I had enjoyed in my life thus far.

It has always been my nature to thoroughly research anything I associate myself with, or invest my money into. I turned this obsessive tendency into a career last year and now spend my days researching markets and industries while advising on trends to help people make more informed business decisions. The following outlines my findings on trends in what I call the growing “business of survival,” and how the compounding effect of unique societal and political circumstances occurring this year will affect those of us who have already taken steps to prepare for SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situations. Those who may be just beginning their journey into the Survivalist mindset will be affected as well. It is important to understand not just the survival market, but also the factors shaping it, in order to better prepare ourselves for the future. After all, as Thomas Fuller says, “Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.”

The Growing Popularity of the ‘Survival Mindset’

Survivalists existed in 21st century America before 9/11, but many agree that it was this catastrophic event that began driving the prepared mindset into the everyday consumer. The idea that disaster can strike at any time and in unforeseen ways has caused many Americans to analyze how they would react to a similar situation. Combine the threat for terrorist attacks with the potential for mass weather-related destruction seen in recent years, and the result is a society becoming increasingly aware of the need to be prepared for the worst at any given time. Previously reserved for only a small percentage of veterans, outdoorsmen, and the especially wary, Survivalist ideals have now infiltrated the minds of every day citizens.

Retailers reported a spike in outdoor and camping related gear sales for the past few years, which has typically been used as a measuring stick for the state of survivalism. Estimates by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) in 2010 showed significant jumps in the sales of tents and packs, as well as a 22 percent increase in overall dollar sales of online outdoor and camping equipment retailers.

Expedition outfitters like Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters in Webster Groves, Missouri reported having to ramp up MRE stocks to meet demand in November 2011. These indicators not only speak to a continued climb in the number of people adopting some level of preparedness, but also lend the idea that Survivalists are heavily relying on online retailers to acquire supplies.

Online retailers will likely see increased orders for specialty supplies well into the future, while physical retail locations will always get the influx of local demand for “essentials” items (such as batteries, generators, water, etc.) from people in their area. The idea of stockpiling, however, has allowed online retailers to increase profits in areas traditionally reserved for the local big box store.

Perhaps the most telling indication of the expansion of the survival mindset is the record-breaking number of firearms being processed under the National Firearms Act (NFA) in 2011. Surpassing the previous high of 981,303 in 2008, the NFA processed a staggering 992,975 firearms in fiscal year 2011. That’s up 20 percent from 2010.

Pre-purchase firearm background checks also reached an all-time high according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation with around 16.5 million in 2011 (up 15 percent from 2010). Kentucky, Texas, Utah and California topped the list for the states with the highest number of checks. While there is no accurate method for determining a definite number of firearms sold in the country each year, these figures do point to a definite increase in firearm-related economic activity. Firearms are consistently one of the top recommended survival necessity items from any source, and Americans are responding.

Sturm, Ruger & Co (otherwise known simply as Ruger) have recently indicated they have had to temporarily stop taking production orders due to overwhelming demand, with the hopes to resume normal acceptance of orders in May of 2012. The announcement, made on March 22nd, 2012, saw the company’s public shares jump an incredible 12 percent. Smith & Wesson Holdings Company, one of Ruger’s main competitors, saw similar skyrocketing share prices.

Firearms have proven many times they are recession-proof. Since 2008, the firearm industry has grown almost constantly. So far this year, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) says that over 920,000 background checks were made in the month of January. That’s over a 17 percent increase over January 2011.

Driving Factors For Mainstream Adoption

To some, the reasons for the increase demand for survival items may be obvious. There have been numerous historical events and political issues over the past decade that have caught media attention, and have some civilians doubting the government’s ability to protect them or come to their aid in a disaster.

Hurricane Katrina sparked a remarkable amount of controversy because of the amount of time it took emergency services to provide relief for people stranded in the aftermath. The tragic events of 9/11 reminded the nation that danger can strike at any time. Extended riots in the UK in 2011 cause concern about the fragility of society in tumultuous times. Occupy Wall Street movements have continued for months and display public outcry and distrust of big government. Other weather disasters such as the tsunami in Japan in March 2011 and violent tornado outbreaks in the Midwest last year also have people concerned for their safety within their own homes. The media also continues to cover high-profile public shootings that have occurred in the last few years including Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and terrorist-like gun rampages in Norway.

All of these examples have contributed to the growing realization of the need to prepare in order survive or help others when the unthinkable happens. This awareness has driven an expanding economic opportunity to capitalize on growing demand for survival items.

The Effect of December 21st, 2012

The social phenomenon regarding numerous “End of The World” claims on or around December 21st, 2012 (henceforth referred to simply as “2012”) continues to be a driving factor behind the increase in survival awareness. Mainstream media will continue to hype the event in coming months, creating heightened anxiety, similar to the Y2K phenomenon observed over a decade ago.

For many, 2012 shares either mythological or religious ties, which may have an effect on the perception and overall paranoia generated as the date grows nearer. Regardless whether a catastrophic event occurs, paranoia will almost surely heighten with the other global happenings occurring at the end of 2012. With a presidential election taking place just before, the combined effect of political tension, ‘End Of The World’ speculation, and potentially worsening global economic situation, will greatly effect the public mindset and could cause unrest on a serious level. It is not inconceivable that the 2012 phenomenon could become a self-fulfilling prophecy with a major event triggered by pure paranoia.

The effects of this buildup will be especially important to Survivalists. Serious widespread unrest is unlikely to materialize until after the presidential election takes place. It is after this point the building paranoia and potentially worsening global conditions may have a serious effect on the public psyche. Anyone who waits to prepare himself until after the election might be too late, and will be unable to acquire the necessary equipment to ensure safety. A run on essential products may take place. Increased communication among prepared Survivalists to plan for disaster or social unrest will be necessary as the year draws to a close in order to plan for potential relocation and rebuilding of a safe and orderly community.

Prepper/Survivalist Spectrum

The growth factors for Survivalism are creating a divide that is important to recognize. When looking at people associated with the survivalism movement as consumers, there is a clear spectrum developing. On one end, there exists a very large and rapidly growing number of individuals that are simply buying goods for peace of mind. I refer to this group as ‘Preppers.’ Although this term has previously been interchangeable with Survivalists, it is important to recognize the fundamental difference between the two in the context of this analysis.

Those on the Prepper end of this spectrum, as recent economic activity has observed, can be characterized most easily by their tendency to stockpile goods on a relatively small scale. In its simplest form, these are people buying prepackaged survival kits and large quantities of freeze-dried food in case of emergencies. Most of these people do not put a high level of thought into the purchase. While many in this group are content with the purchase of a $90 survival package, some Preppers may spend thousands of dollars on stockpiled goods, ammunition and fuel. This shows a clear understanding of the idea of being prepared, however the rampant accumulation of goods does not always equate to true preparedness.

On the other end of the spectrum are full-blown Survivalists. This group shares many traits with the Prepper in terms of stockpiling goods, but applies an entirely different (and distinguishing) thought to the process that focuses on self-reliance. Survivalists may stockpile not just food and fuel, but also investments for the future such as precious metals, land, or livestock for long-term sustainability. Indeed, the approach of the Survivalist is wholeheartedly different – this group seeks to proactively reshape their every day lives around being able to deal with SHTF events or TEOTWAWKI. This is achieved by learning new skills, creating long-term contingency plans, increasing efforts to maintain privacy and sometimes even relocating to more defensible or private locations, among other things.

It is inevitable that there will be some degree of evolution from the less engaged Preppers turning to true Survivalists in the long term. From a consumer standpoint, the Prepper group is growing rapidly and may be more easily influenced, but potential spending in this group is unpredictable and could range from a one-time $90 purchase of a prepackaged survival kit to thousands of dollars worth of stockpiled food and fuel over the course of several years. Survivalists, while a much smaller group, dedicate large budgets to myriad expenditures including equipment, firearms, training and other investments.

There are numerous implications of ‘prepping’ going mainstream for the Survivalists group. These trends will be important to identify to maintain the highest level of readiness.


From a market standpoint, there has been a marked degree of saturation of survival retailers affecting everyone from sporting goods stores to firearms retailers. For instance, a local branch of a nationwide firearms retailer in Kentucky is now promoting survival packages that include food for storage, knives, rope and outdoor shelter. This is clearly an attempt to capture the dollar of the newly wide-eyed suburban Prepper, as the items have never been packaged together before.  Other retailers who sell goods in tertiary markets are making similar moves. Costco, the popular bulk discount chain, now offer similar kits.

What does this mean for Survivalists? For one, specific survival kit components may become more and more scarce as demand continues to increase. These will be the most commonly promoted items by major retailers as “essentials.” The most experienced Survivalists will be able to identify low-quality imitation products or marketing ploys for unnecessary items. But items such as flashlights, batteries, camp gear and stockpile food options like MREs may become difficult to come by.

For those dedicated but less experienced Survivalists who may not have yet had the time to develop a full inventory of necessary items, it will now become paramount to identify worthwhile products and avoid the increase in junk items. There are plenty of items appearing on shelves manufactured specifically to make retailers a quick buck. These include cheap items like 6-in-1 survival compasses, cheaply made knives, and low quality shelter. It will be a better investment to avoid pre-packaged survival kits which are more likely to cut corners to bring costs down. Avoid any ‘all-in-one’ survival kits or items. These items are targeted at the mainstream consumer being swept into the craze, and while something is always better than nothing, be smart about what you are purchasing – you will be able to find better quality equipment for less money.

Firearm sales will likely continue to climb this year. Even those who had traditionally shunned firearms may be more inclined to arm themselves for peace of mind in growing social and political turmoil. Ammunition will continue to be key as people stockpile in case of a collapse. Some manufacturers, like Ruger, may raise prices as demand increases. Full-on scarcity is not likely to materialize, but if you are considering a firearm purchase this year, it is recommended to do so sooner rather than later.

More armed citizens traditionally results in a decrease of violent crime, but with growing unease and economic fragility across the globe, it would be wise to exercise more caution in case of civil disruptions.


The overall adoption of the survival mindset has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and the general idea of preparedness will continue to trickle down to the everyday consumer. Online and physical retail sites will continue to capitalize on increasing demand. Survivalists should be aware of market trends in order to achieve a maximum level of preparedness.

Society has proven it is willing to pay for peace of mind. This increased adoption will continue to distinguish the differences between a Prepper and a Survivalist. The relationship between groups will continue to evolve as more people become part of the spectrum. 

Sales in outdoor and camping gear will continue on an upward trend through the end of the year. Growth patterns beyond 2012 will depend on any events that may or may not come to pass at years end. Firearm sales, while at a suspected all-time high in 2011, will probably set new records again in 2012. Watch the market for any additional signs of scarcity.

Future Recommendations

As always, a good Survivalist will prepare for the worst but continue to hope for the best. Have confidence that, should SHTF, the likelihood of people in your area having some sort of foundation for survival is increasing every month. Be wary of people and businesses trying to take advantage of good intentions to make a dollar. The landscape of survival is in flux, and where there is money to be made, there is an increased opportunity for corruption and dishonesty.

No information contained in this article is meant to deter the hope of a bright future for this country and its citizens. An inner spirit of quiet determination is strongly suggested in any preparations made specifically for this year. Do not fuel the paranoia. Instead, use this information to guide and educate others in their own preparations. The vast majority of geological or astrological catastrophes predicted for December 21st are completely unfounded, but the possibility of social unrest due to economic and political conditions is a reality that should be addressed.

In the meantime, there is no reason to disrupt daily family life in an attempt to become more prepared. Keep abreast of world news, both political and economical. Dig into the Internet, survival message boards and YouTube to pick up tips, but always absorb information you read from a critical position and use your best judgment. Misinformation is the spark to paranoia. The list of things one can do to prepare for the worst is never ending. As most of us know, it isn’t possible to be truly prepared for everything. In the end, the best advice is to stay vigilant, hopeful, and maintain Faith.


ATF Stats on NFA Firearms Processed
FBI 2011 Record Background Checks
NSGA Research Reports
NSGA Report Blog
MarketWatch Firearms Analysis

Mr. Rawles,
I really enjoyed the SurvivalBlog article by Kyrottimus, titled A Practical Utilitarian's Take On Firearms and Calibers. I appreciate his expertise and experience.  I commend his list of Must-Haves for the AR-15 or M4gery, and would like to respectively suggest one more item to add to the McFarland 1-piece gas ring, the Bravo Company Gunfighter charging handle, and the Magpul B.A.D. Lever.  The Defender D Ring should be an addition to your AR-15 rifles.  After listening to John Farnham sing the praises of this little device, it should be a serious consideration on a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW).

The Defender D Ring installs around the extractor.  With the high bolt velocity of the AR-15, the extractor can be stressed.  The Defender D ring provides a stronger extractor tension, as well as contributing to the reliability of the extractor, and extending its life.  You can purchase this inexpensive "must-have" at Strike Tactical Solutions

Farnham's perspective is civilian use of the PDW, with an emphasis on function and reliability. As a woman, these considerations are very important factors in defending myself. - Belle Ringer

James: In regards to M.D.M.'s article, I'd like to add something to his Question #4, There is no reason to smother a baby or toddler to keep them quite as in that M*A*S*H episode mentioned. I learned an old Indian trick years ago, when my kids were young and restless. All a mother needs to do is blow lightly in the child's face when they start fussing and about to cry. This blowing lightly momentarily takes their breath away, and they stop fussing, and concentrate on breathing, It doesn't take much blowing lightly in their face, and they soon drift off to sleep. This works good on infants and kids up to about two years old!
Nothing is more distracting than being in church and have some mother not knowing what to do to keep her baby from crying, and disturbing everybody around her for several rows, until the only thing she can do is take the baby out of the room. I read about this in some old book on Indian plains tribes, the mothers used to run out into the woods or high brush with their child and hide, when the village came under attack, and this blowing lightly in the child's face to keep them from fussing or crying saved many lives. So after reading this, I tried it in church when my youngest son was a baby, and started fussing and crying, and it worked wonderfully! Something good to know if you have a baby and don't want to disturb people in church! - J.M. in Utah

Designer's sleeping bag coat transforms - and warms - Detroit's homeless. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

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Over at Alt-Market: Cold Weather Bug-Out Survival Lessons

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Insane Michigan government announces plan to destroy ranch livestock based on hair color and arrest hundreds of ranchers as felons

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Reader Jake K. wrote to mention that those who scoff at the risk of high population density should look at these maps: This is the Most Densely Packed City in the US. Get thee to the Redoubt!

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Speaking of population maps, Todd M. sent this link: 2010 Census Urban Area Thematic Maps. Note the scarcity of dark blue for those in the American Redoubt, in this map.

"Blessings [are] upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked." - Proverbs 10:6 (KJV)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, and the queue is full, but get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 40. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Some people say you can’t prepare for every situation.  I say, you can because every situation has one common element that can and will hurt you outside of the event itself: other people.  Lets face it, if you die in a storm, a nuclear/biological/chemical event, or terror attack, then you are dead.  There is nothing from stopping God’s will. 

You don’t prepare for those events, you prepare for surviving those events.  There are many events, (and not far-fetched crazy extreme events) which people should be prepared to deal with to protect themselves and their families when it’s over and you are alive. Some include:

  1. Storms (Hurricanes/tornados/floods/earthquakes, droughts, Tsunami)
  2. Financial collapse
  3. Biological emergencies (natural or weaponized)
  4. Chemical emergencies (Living near DuPont?)
  5. Nuclear emergencies (Attack/Power grid failure resulting in leak)
  6. Civil unrest (Riots/Revolution/Civil War/Race war/Looting)
  7. Power Grid failure (EMPs/Solar flares/ attack on grid)

The interesting fact is that just one event on the above list, can and will cause another on the list.  If you don’t believe me, look at Hurricane Katrina. Not only did this storm devastate a region, but what else happened? Civil Unrest, chemical emergencies from refineries, Biological emergencies with contaminated water and disease from bodies, and financial collapse of the region and lets not forget the looting and power grid failures. Look at the recent tsunami in Japan.  No one ever dreamed the nuclear reactors would so easily fail, melt down, leak, or kill (wait for it). The Japanese can probably site all the above listed events as a result of an earthquake. There is a common denominator shared by each item on the list that represents the biggest threat to survivors, outside of the event itself: People.

People will react in the most amazing ways after a horrible event.  Events like these bring out the best and worse in people.  This was seen in New Orleans. I was there in the aftermath. I saw the best and worst in mankind – Mostly the worst.  Normal, law-abiding people (well, it is New Orleans), when put in a survival situation, will kill you, if the stress of the event makes them believe they need your stuff to stay alive.

The dichotomy is that people are the biggest threat, but you can’t survive without the cooperation of other people.  You can’t make it through the listed events alone; you have to rely on other people to pool all your resources to survive. Every event on that list will cause people to lose their minds and cause chaos. Give it a couple of days, then the looting, crime and civil unrest explode like a powder keg.  Sure, you can crawl in your bunker, but for how long? You can buy 20 guns, but you can only shoot one at a time. You need to get organized, with a group of trusted friends/family, to provide, protect and plan your hopefully short term situation.  The well-organized, well armed groups will get passed by the marauders for easy pickings down the road.

Just in the last 10 years or so, we have seen some horrible events that touch every item on the list above….9/11, Hurricanes in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi,, Haiti, Japan's Tsunami, Worldwide Earthquakes, Eastern Seaboard Power failure shutting down New York, Euro collapsing, Japans Nuclear reactor failures, Iran’s Nuclear prowess, Missing former Soviet nuclear devices, Los Angeles riots, Tornados Midwest rampage, Ohio/MS River flooding, Texas droughts, and I could list a whole page .
Preparing doesn’t sound so crazy now does it? It’s not some right-wing doomsday fantasy, but if it makes you concerned, perhaps it should – No one is saying we should build an underground bunker (although I would love to).  All I am saying is having a plan, with people you trust while pooling resources just may save your life.

So now you realize you aren’t crazy- lets take a look at the basics:

What are the basic needs we will need as human beings?

  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Shelter
  4. Security

WATER – Take stock if you are staying put or bugging out. You have what is available to you, but I would recommend having 3 sources of water either in my home or bug out location.

  1. Natural water sources (Creeks, rivers, springs that flow year round)
  2. Well water (How is it powered? Electricity/ manual pump/ solar?)
  3. Water storage (Ponds, stock tanks, water catch systems, barrel storage, bathtubs)
  4. City/County (Keep in mind this source is dependent on upkeep by people who will not be showing up to work in our scenarios)

FOOD - I know a lot of people have their 3-day bug out bag with survival food bars handy, but I believe you need to take stock, not only of your pantry, but other potential sources in your locations.

  1. Stored and saved canned goods with shelf life and extended life usage.
  2. Staples (oil, flour, beans, wheat, salt, sugar- Think food grade barrels)
  3. Natural Resources (Fish, wildlife in area for meat, Feeders/traps/snares)
  4. Seed (growing, farming, reproducing your own food – heirloom seeds)
  5. Livestock animals
  6. Food as a trading commodity (honey, spices,  alcohol, Etc)

SHELTER –We have our homes we currently live in whether its an apartment, house etc. Think about if you leave or bug out, it’s important to have shelter not only where you end up, but keep in mind it may take a few days to get there. Do you know anyone between you and your bug out location? Is there someplace safe you can leave a cache?
Some things to think about shelter:

  1. Size, capacity (how many are in your trusted circle? Will everyone fit?)
  2. Power options (propane, electric/generator, wood for warmth)
  3. Portable/semi permanent (shipping container, RV, tents, Trailer)
  4. Underground (storm shelter, root cellar, buried shipping container)
  5. Ability to create lean-to and basic shelters
  6. Alternate locations (when things get too tough, you may need to relocate)
  7. At your bug out location, is there a secure place, if there is a bio event, that someone can be put into quarantine until incubation period is satisfied before joining the rest of the group?

SECURITY – This means a lot of things to a lot of people.  Lets list out a few things that are important keeping in mind safety in numbers- however a smaller group of well prepared and well trained people can be the most important asset of security.

  1. Personnel (large enough to make the average band of marauders move on to easier targets)
  2. Weapons  (pistols, mid range, long range firearms.) One important need for quiet registered suppressed smaller caliber weapons for stealth and hunting.  This will be very important- Texas is mostly flat and sound carries for miles.) It is good to have .22, .223, .40/9mm, 12ga, 30.06/.308, 7.62x39. These are most plentiful and easily found.  Stealth and being quiet is something that not many presently talk about, but will be important.  If someone is looking for food/water etc, man-made noises are a beacon for people to come and find you. At some point, you will want to put your big bang stick away and opt for suppressed/small caliber or conventional bows.
  3. Ammunition: Having similar calibers among your group members makes ammo go further and able to work with more than one weapon. This coordination could be extremely important in long-term situations.
  4. Night Vision (or Thermal but expensive) There are many Gen 1 NV scopes out there that are priced so reasonably that they make it a must.  Those who own the night, control the day.
  5. Dogs (trained ones, not purse dogs)
  6. Fuel (including storage- This will make you mobile while gas is scarce)
  7. Alternate Transportation (ATV, Bicycle, UATV, mopeds) Don’t laugh – You can ride 10-to-20 miles on a bike without being in Olympic shape.  How long does it take to walk 10 miles?  Not so silly now is it?  Do some research on the Japanese in WWII being able to move mass amounts of troops in a short timeframe catching their enemies by surprise.  And bike is quiet…….

Now that we have some of the basics identified, there are other things that could have been listed above that many of us have lying around or have access to its usefulness.  I like to refer to these items as assets.  You should put a checklist together of your assets, keeping in mind, some assets are intangible.  Here is a quick list of both:


Communication. This is number one for a reason- ham radios, CB radios, Walkie-talkies, field phone with wires, and radios. Information equals knowledge, and knowledge is power.

  1. Boats (rafts, canoes, jon-boat, fishing and pontoon, inner tubes/pool toys- sometimes you need to get across a river/creek and need to keep stuff dry and they take up no space at all – deflate and use again later)
  2. Vehicles (some of us have multiple vehicles…or toys, that carbureted vehicle can be more valuable than you know if there is a solar flare or EMP)
  3. Trailers (we have a lot of stuff and people to bug out)
  4. Generators (these need extra fuel so prep accordingly, and don’t forget the oil)
  5. Tools (welder, chain saws, wire cutters, bolt cutters, etc)
  6. Bikes (these don’t need fuel and can get you miles in minutes)
  7. Land/property (even if it is not ideal bug out territory, it could be used as a cache to store items in alternate locale, or a safe place to stop and resupply to your ultimate destination)
  8. Reloader (The ability to load and reload your own ammo is a huge asset)
  9. Medical equip (all inclusive down to the band aids – don’t forget toothaches and tools for extraction if necessary) People never think about dental as part of their first aid kit…until they have a cracked tooth or toothache.
  10. Silent weapons (crossbows, bows, arrows/bolts, snares/traps)
  11. Fishing Poles (self explanatory)
  12. GPS/Maps (You need both because at some point tech will fail, oh yes, learn how to use a compass with that map) You don’t need static electricity with a needle on a pool of water- Bear Grylls is cool to watch, but go buy a handful of cheap compasses and put them in everyone’s bag and teach some online land navigation basics.
  13. Force multipliers (trip wire alerts, motion sensors, noise making material for areas you cant always see) An easy fix, battery operated motion lights.  If you need eyes in a location you can’t see at night – Set these up in those hard to see areas – It’s like having an extra person to alert you. Fishing lines and cans with rocks will make noise when tripped.
  14. Battery charging devices (Commercial, solar,  also think non conventional like a stationary bike with a belt to an alternator to battery to inverter to outlet) Hook it up to a wheat grinder and make some flour.
  15. Alternative energy (like my bike idea above, there are available sources on the market like solar, wind, hydro- research hydro – It only takes 10 foot of head to turn a turbine – I would love to explore this idea with my creek)
  16. Wood (Gotta have heat in winter, and have to cook)
  17. Clothing for all seasons (doesn’t hurt to have chest waders, mosquito netting, and sewing kits for repairs.  Not everything needs to be military or camo )
  18. Hammocks – I’m getting everyone in my family hammocks with a cheap tarp to go over the top.  There is a whole group of campers out there using only hammocks – Very cool, light weight and fit into the 3 day bug out bag nicely.

Now lets look at a list of what I call Intangible Assets.  What knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) do we bring to the group that can be passed along or taught?

  1. Training  (Firearms, tactics, military, safety/chemical, survival)
  2. Certifications (CPR/First Aid, EMT, MD, paramedic, dentistry)
  3. Skills (Farming, hydroponics, carpentry, mechanics, cooking, fishing, welding)
  4. Knowledge (Can you fix things? Make things, butcher, chemical knowledge, canning, pickling, reloading, armorer, water purification)
  5. Abilities (climb trees, make candles, negotiate, bow hunt, make a zip line, fish with a net. Think outside the box)

These are just a few things to think about when starting to prep.  Take your own inventory, and then take the next step. This step is just as important as your safety.  Unless you are going to live by yourself in a bunker (Okay, perhaps I have bunker envy)- you need to incorporate your trusted inner circle to share your ideas and make a plan. Choose wisely- I have seen a lot of people utilize their family- Most of the time, that works. But some folks don’t live near their family, or if they do, they don’t always get along with an in-law or each other.  Don’t be that guy that chooses his best friend that doesn’t believe in prepping, and if by chance they do, won’t prepare, wont bring anything to the table and will end up mooching off of your hard work and the others in your group.  Here are some things to keep in mind when you find your bug out group.  Ask the hard questions with your group now.

If you plan on leaving your home to your bug out location, you may be faced with some tough decisions, table these with your group and ask:

  1. How many people are invited to the location?
  2. What is the group going to do when some other “friends” not in the trusted circle show up?
  3. Uninvited family vs. uninvited friends – Is there a difference? Oh yes!
  4. When others show up looking for a handout or help- what are we prepared to do?
  5. In a bio situation (bird flu) how long should you quarantine others before letting them into your location- What if they are sick – What is the group prepared to do? What if they are family?
  6. Leadership roles vs. democracy vs. clans (family leaders)
  7. What are group pooled items vs. individual (mine) items.  What is shared vs. kept?

Meeting with your trusted inner circle (bug out crew) of people now and discussing these items will be crucial down the line.  Lets face it, it’s hard to find couples that all like each other much less entire families. Face the fact and embrace the fact there will be disagreements in advance, No one will ever completely agree on everything- That is reality.  These disagreements may become amplified in a stressful environment, but come to grips with it together and talk about it now. Talk about that family or group that finds you and wants to join your group to bolster their security (who, what when where, why and how- will be the name of that game). I can create an endless number of scenarios for and against accepting – But the group needs to come to an agreement.  What style of leadership are we going to use? Talk about it now.

Have a plan and several routes that everyone knows to get to your bug out location.  This is where communication devices are essential – Know what routes are inaccessible, have your back-up routes from each alternate points of entry (back up routes to your back up routes) Timing will dictate your routes.  Depending on situation and spread of the event, smaller towns that you would normally drive through could be barricaded and controlled by organized militias/groups like you, limiting access. This goes for any area.  Think of your bug out location, you may want to limit the access too, out of fear of travelers/hordes looking to pillage.  Depending on the situation be prepared to negotiate, barter, trade and or shoot your way to your bug out shelter. You may end up using all those methods along the way.

Bug out to a secondary location comes with its own set of pros and cons.  To me, the hardest question is: When is it time to bug out? No one can predict the best time, but I will say before all of the gas is used up. In our area of South Texas, you can hear a V-8 engine a couple miles away.  Remembering that a panicked society wants to take your stuff because they did not prepare and believe they will die without your stuff-What I am trying to say is err on the early side of bugging out.   The Bottom line is that if you wait too long, you will have herds of “zombies” trying to catch, shoot and kill the caravan of people who still have gas and a way out of town. 

At this point, being quiet is the name of the game. Noise attracts attention- Hunting is a good example; an AR-15 is deafening and can be heard 5 miles and more away. If you use it, use it only once. You will have everyone’s attention waiting to vector the second shot and move in that direction. Get skilled with a bow/crossbow or get a suppressed weapon. .22s are relatively quiet and are good small game calibers. Generators are loud and will attract attention. What are some fixes? Underground, ventilated areas/ mufflers? This opens the door to learning to trap, lay snares, or take serious advantage of the hog trap.  Stock up on rat traps and keep them at your bug out base (the snapping closed kind).  Not for rats, but for small game and birds.  These force multipliers will help you catch your needed protein.

As your group comes together, start training together.  You can start out with a  “survivor man” weekend where you can try your wares. Sight in all your weapons, start fires utilizing various methods, cook using only a fire-pit.  Walk your perimeter, know your weak spots, where are you vulnerable?  Where are the best vantage points on the property, escape routes, choke points, fallback areas, and cache spots.  Bring the families out.  Make sure everyone of responsible age knows how to load, fire, unload each weapon system each family owns. Make training weekends fun, but cover the basics and have everyone hone a skill. If they don’t have one, have them choose one, learn it well, and teach the rest of the group. Empower everyone in the group because we all need to not only feel we contribute to the whole, but we actually all really do need to contribute.  Make weekends to learn how to:

  1. Fish
  2. Shoot
  3. Plant/Harvest
  4. Gather
  5. Hunt/trap
  6. Security patrol/force multiplier utilization
  7. Communications
  8. Prepping vehicles/Trailers/ bags with supplies (what should be in them)
  9. Survivor man trips using your 3-day bug out bag. Know what works and what doesn’t.
  10. Make flour from wheat and bread from flour.
  11. Make alcohol – Uses are many, from drinking, fire starting, trading, sanitizing, cleaning wounds, sterilizing….and did I say drinking?
  12. Bee keeping many uses from pollinating, honey, candles, trading. Edible honey was found in Pyramids buried for centuries.

Each aforementioned training topic could be a whole chapter in a book.  Remember there are no wrong ideas, some may be misguided or implemented incorrectly, but most of us have not gone through this before. Getting ideas together is the first step to getting prepared which leads to taking action and responsibility for you and your loved ones which just may save your life one day. Good luck to us all – we might just need it.

I've been working as a firearms and ammo salesman (and thusly, a consultant) in a storefront gun shop in northwestern Montana for the past few years now. My firearms experience far predates my time there in other gun-related industries. However, I have had the benefit of learning a great bit more (and still am) regarding firearms, ammo and the unique perspectives and applications of the end users. The day I stop learning is the day I stop breathing.

I get asked all the time, “What's better, an AK or AR?” or “Mossberg 500 or Remington 870?” or currently the most common, “Glock or XD?” My answers vary, but usually begin with my own personal preferences but I go to on ask their unique requirements and mindset. Most are not expecting my answers, as I base my responses after asking a few questions of my own. A few include but are not limited to: “What would you primarily be using it for?”; “What is your level of firearms experience?”, or “What is your budget?”

There has been endless debates about firearms and calibers ever since the Internet was born, and long before that. I'm not going to get into such arguments, as I find both sides to any of them totally myopic at best. Let us look outside of the box of such constrained paradigms and use a simple analogy: firearms are tools. How you set up your toolbox simply relates to the number of jobs you can tackle in as many different ways. You can't approach every task with just a hammer in your toolbox and expect top-notch results every time.

Let's start with handguns. Other than reliability and accuracy, one of the most important selection criteria for any given user would be how it feels in the hand. If it's not comfortable in your hand, it's already not a good fit. Whichever pistol feels like it was made for your hand (and points naturally when extending your shooting hand) should be a finalist in your selection. This should help narrow the field greatly. While one might do lots of product research online or in books, you really must handle them in person to feel their ergonomics, balance and ease of operating the manual of arms.  Keep in mind that many new pistol models come with multiple backstraps for differing grip-size options.

A handgun is akin to a longsword of old. As a sidearm, its purpose was two-fold: as a secondary backup weapon to a longarm, and as personal carry weapon in more commonplace settings throughout daily life. It should fit the shooter in both ergonomics and function as defined by that user, and it will fill both roles nicely. A few makes/models I'd suggest starting with worth looking into are Glock, Smith&Wesson M&P, FN FNS (very recently introduced) and Springfield XDM. There are more, but those four are all good pistols to start looking at.

Longarms, on the other hand, are more specific in their roles. While there are many designs that can be considered multi-role, I would only consider this if you could only own one longarm. For some, financial constraints prevent them from filling out their toolbox with tools for all perceivable roles. I shall elaborate further, as I find longarms really do need a bit more in-depth coverage.

Whether it be a truck-rifle, ranch-rifle, home-defense rifle, personal-defense rifle, battle rifle or hunting rifle, if you can only own one firearm, it is my opinion that it should be a rifle. But if you can own more than one, then I'll outline my personal take on the best for each task. I'll now break down each of the most common rifles available in the United States, and the roles in which they shine (and potentially why you should consider one of each).

1.) AR family of rifles chambered in 5.56mm NATO. Specifically, the carbines. I'm not a big fan of the 20" rifles unless scoped, as if you're going to carry a 9 pound weapon, you might as well carry a battle rifle and double your power.

Why you should have one: They are ubiquitous. Parts, parts and more parts. Modularity and uniformity of parts make this weapon unparalleled in user-customized rifles. There are so many factory and aftermarket parts for them, it's hard to keep track. Other than a few variables such as front-sight-block height or carbine-buffer-tube exterior diameter (Military vs. Commercial), they are pretty much plug-and-play. Having multiple uppers for a single lower (the actual firearm) makes it for a versatile weapon to begin your battery with. Ergonomics of this weapon are excellent. Also, they are a lot more reliable and robust than many keyboard commandos would have you think.

They are (the carbines) lightweight. Very, very lightweight. Unloaded, my 14.5” barrel (with a +2” permanently pinned/welded Phantom II Flash-Hider to make it of legal 16"+ overall barrel length) A1 configuration AR carbine weighs in at around 6.5 lbs, unloaded (including a sling and a TA44SG-10 Compact ACOG 1.5x16mm optic). Having a weapon this small, maneuverable and lightweight makes it my favorite for filling the role of a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW). The ammo is also very lightweight and one could carry many more rounds per pound than most other offerings. Also, they are inherently very accurate, even with standard aperture sights.

Where I would use it: Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP), any long-duration traveling on foot, or potential CQB scenarios inside or around buildings. Point being, if I wanted to stay alive (but not stand my ground and fight, or assault a fortified location), to survive and break contact, this is the weapon I want. Lots of rounds can be put on target, accurately, with minimal recoil, in a very short period of time. Even if I just had to keep a threat's head down long enough for me to get away alive, it's perfect for it.

Drawbacks: Limited effective range. While the 5.56mm can hit targets accurately out to 700 meters, I would not rely on this cartridge to cause any reliable, consistent results on a live target past 500 meters (450 meters in a 14.5”to 16” carbine barrel.) Its pronounced wounding properties on soft-tissue usually expires past 200 meters, if not closer. Also, while it has great potential in steel penetration and intermediate to closer ranges, it lacks in penetrating thick cover (such as bricks, cinder-blocks, jersey barriers or trees) or plowing through things like branches or shrubs, as it is easily thrown off trajectory by the littlest contact. Also, ARs can often times be ammo-sensitive. Don't shoot lacquered steel-cased ammo through them. Don't do it. Test a box of the polymer-coated steel-cased ammo first before you buy a case of it, to make sure your AR can digest it.

Must-Haves: The McFarland 1-piece gas ring. In my opinion, this $4 part corrects the weakest link in the traditional design, the flimsy, easily worn-out 3-piece gas rings. If you are using a quality, in-spec bolt and carrier, it's a no-brainer. I put one on every AR I build/customize if I can. I have yet heard of any negative feedback from anyone I've personally dealt with who uses this product. I'm absolutely smitten with mine.

Also, the Bravo Company Gunfighter charging handle is very important, as it removes the weak part (the standard USGI charging handle) if manipulating it in a left-hand side-grasp technique (fastest and most economical motion in AR operation), and replaces it with a part specifically designed to withstand the torque and loads applied when repeatedly using the side-grasp charging technique.

The Magpul B.A.D. Lever. Try one out if you can, you'll cut your reload time in half, and the same goes for clearing stoppages.

2.) AK-47 / AKM family of rifles chambered in 7.62x39. The 5.45x39 variants, while great and accurate rifles, are simply not available enough (especially the ammo).

Why you should have one: Tough as nails. While not jam-proof (most stoppages are attributed to bad/dented steel magazines, underpowered ammo or roughly machined bolt-carrier reset hump shoulders from factory reject parts--which is easily correctable), most of the time they are boringly reliable. They really don't have anything on them that will wear out, except for maybe the barrel way down the road. And if you're using a good rifle with an as-new hammer-forged, chrome-lined ComBloc or Chinese barrel, your barrel-life will see 30,000-to-40,000 rounds before your groups start to open up. If built with proper parts, headspaced correctly and/or assembled by a competent smith (such as T. Mark Graham of Arizona Response Systems, one of the best), they are more than reasonably accurate too if you feed it with good ammo (like Golden Tiger).

While not as light as the AR carbines, these carbines balance well and are usually found to weigh between 7-8 pounds unloaded (depending on furniture and magazine composition). They are the jack-of-all-trades carbine. While they are only really best as a super-reliable "all weather rifle" (by "all weather", I mean the '-40C frozen with ice inside the action and still goes bang' kind of "all weather"), they don't excel in any one area. But they can do everything pretty darn well (except for long-range sniping).

The 7.62x39 cartridge has a high case-taper to it, so feeding and extracting issues are almost nonexistent. The round is powerful, significantly more powerful than the 5.56mm round and can regularly shatter cinder-blocks or punch through 8" trees or brick walls (turning cover for your target into mere concealment). Shooting through branches or brush does not alter the bullet's trajectory very much. Though not as flat-shooting as the AR carbines in 5.56mm, the user can easily adjust the elevation of the sights and reach maximum effective range with reasonable accuracy, if you're using quality ammo. It has an effective range of about 500 meters if you have good glass on it, or you have really good eyesight with the less-than stellar irons.

If I were being randomly dropped into somewhere on planet earth at random, and I didn't know where, and I could take only one weapon, I'd pick an AKM.

Where I would use it: Anywhere and everywhere. Ideally, if I expected I might run into a potential firefight, I'd want it. While it can serve quite well as a PDW, it's better used in that role in intermediate to short-range foot-travel. It serves well as a convoy or truck rifle (especially the AKMS models with folding stocks). It's a great rifle for taking ground as it's light enough to be carried while moving fast, and still packs plenty of wallop for fighting your way to the objective. Its sights lend itself well to CQB use, though the weapon being slightly heavier than an AR, it's not quite as fast handling. Even if used as a defensive position weapon or suppressive-fire weapon, it would be more than adequate if the user knew how to employ it as such. Ergonomics of this weapon are fair, so long as you realize it's not an AR and don't try to operate it like one. It is also an effective hunting rifle, with ballistics similar to the venerable .30-30 (but with better range).

Drawbacks: While the iron sights can have their elevation adjusted out to 1,000 meters, anything beyond 500 meters is leaning more towards area-targeting than point-targeting. The sights were originally made to be fast-acquisition, and they excel in this role, however, they lack the precision to reach the weapon's own accuracy potential of firing at max-effective range. Feed an AK with good boat-tail ammo and use a good sighting system and you'll see the tales of their inaccuracy to be mostly exaggerated. The ergonomics do take a little bit of retraining for most Americans to get used to. Also, recoil is more pronounced (as comes with higher energy) than ARs. Ammo is very available and inexpensive, but the quality varies greatly. While all will likely go "bang" with much regularity, the variance in accuracy and power between brands is very eye-opening. The ammo is a bit heavier than 5.56mm so carrying the standard combat load of 210 rounds is going to weigh a pound or two more than as with fully-loaded 30 round AR mags.

Must-Haves: Bulgarian Circle-10 Magazines. There are no better AK mags. Period. They can be expensive, but they are worth it. They wont dent, they are lightweight, constructed in an eloquent amalgam of a steel cage in a polymer body, and fit and function flawlessly. Oh, did I mention they are tough as nails too?

If you want to update your sights, I suggest either Tech-Sights (for dedicated iron sights) or Texas Weapon Systems Dog-Leg scope rail (with optional rear peep included). The irons of either will almost double your sight radius and will likely cut your group sizes in half. Also, the addition of the Dog-Leg scope will allow for many optics options.

If you want to keep your existing sights but want to add a fast-acquisition forward sighting system, I'd start with the Ultimak AK rail which replaces your factory gas-tube.

Good Ammo. I say again: Good Ammo. Wolf/TulAmmo/Bear will work just fine for most general training purposes (close-range type training), but I suggest Golden Tiger (Vympel) for your standard all-purpose load. It's consistently loaded (and loaded a bit warmer than the others--about as warm as it should be), accurate (using boat-tail bullets is a plus), sealed from moisture and lacquered for long-term storage. Unless you can find some surplus, brass-cased Finnish Lapua or Portuguese 7.62x39, then buy some Golden Tiger.

3.) A 7.62mm NATO Battle Rifle. Any that fits you, your budget and your shooting style best. Whether it be an FN/ FAL, M1A, HK91 or AR-10 format, all are good, accurate and reliable rifles if built by reputable companies. They all fulfill their roles as battle rifles very well.

Why you should have one: Accuracy. Range. Power. Lots and lots of power. The ultimate hold-the-line weapon. If you have your back up against a wall, and you need to dig in and defend your home from the worst of worst-case-scenarios (gang of armed marauders or worse), they'll do the trick. If you aren't bothered by their weight or bulk, the fact that they all seem to balance fairly well (with maybe with the exception of the HK91, though that is largely personal opinion and will vary) lends to their role.

They will punch through most of what would be considered cover for the other two aforementioned calibers. A 7.62mm NATO round will likely split an engine block with a single hit. It has twice the energy of a 5.56mm at the muzzle and roughly five times the energy of a 5.56mm at 600 meters. There is a reason these are referred to as "battle rifles". If you are behind cover or laying prone and need to lay down some hard-hitting, longer-range firepower, accept no substitutes.

Where will I use it: LP/OP or guard duty, road or gate sentry duty. Holding the line. Garrison use.  Stopping threats in a vehicle, or the vehicle itself (most conventional vehicles, anyway). It's a great for hunting too. Scoped and accurized, they make great designated marksmen rifles or counter-sniper rifles.

Drawbacks: They are heavy, significantly heavier than the other two mentioned carbines, weighing in at around 9-9.5lbs unloaded and 10-11lbs loaded. The ammo is heavy too, so one wouldn't be able to carry as much ammo as with either of the other two unless one could handle an extra 5+ lbs. They also have quite the muzzle blast, so I would avoid shooting them indoors, under an overhang or against a wall without double hearing protection. Also, they have significant recoil. Not unmanageable, but still, it's there.

Must-Haves: Magazines. Lots and lots of Magazines. Good, serviceable, quality magazines. Good quality ammo that is accurate in your rifle. A good sling. Beyond that, it's up to you.

Before closing, let me talk a little on calibers. Pistol calibers to be more specific. Selecting a pistol caliber is less important as it once was twenty years ago. Ammunition brand selection is far more critical now than caliber selection. Cartridge development (mostly powders and projectiles) have come a very long way in a very short time.

The most used pistol cartridges are 9x19mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Again, these have been the hot subject of many an Internet debate. I hate to break it to you, but they're all equally good. If you select the right weapon that can handle the most powerful loads offered for each caliber (+P and +P+), you'll wind up with three calibers that can pump out approximately the same net muzzle energy and that open up to roughly the same diameter (~.75-.80") within the first few inches of soft-tissue. I've spoken with many an EMT, Paramedic and medical examiner (several of whom are friends of mine) and they tell me the wounds all look the same, and that the caliber can only really be determined when the bullet is extracted (if any) and the base diameter is measured.

9x19mm is still the cheapest to buy, so training makes it the most accessible for those who don't have time to handload. With bulk 9mm NATO ammo readily available (with comparable energy to most +P defense loads), one can easily mimic the recoil characteristics, point of aim and energy on target as their favorite defense loads without burning up $1 per round (or more) as seen in the premium defense ammunition.

Whatever caliber you decide on for your handgun of choice, get lots of ammo, train hard, and make your shots count. Shot-placement is far more critical with handguns than with centerfire rifles. I hear the cliché phrase "stopping-power" used so much, it makes me cringe. Let me dispel that term a bit. It takes less than 3ft/lbs of energy penetrating into the cerebellum to kill a person instantly. How is that for having enough power to "stop" someone? Physically, the only way to stop any threat instantly is a central-nervous system shot. The rest deals with shock-trauma or differing psychological responses to being shot, followed by the potential of bleeding out and/or some kind of bodily incapacitation.

If two loads, say a .45 ACP and a 9mm Luger both expand to roughly the same diameter (~.78"), and both penetrate roughly 12" in soft-tissue, and subsequently both having roughly 365ft/lbs of energy each (which they do, if we're talking about your average-power loads), the bad guy isn't going to be able to tell a difference, because the same energy is transferred across the same medium over the same distance (thus energy transference is the same).

There are too many variables to take into account, one cannot simply paint this sort of thing with a broad brush. I'm merely trying to illustrate that when it comes to power, penetration, energy deposition and expansion, the three main pistol calibers found in the U.S. now overlap each other in performance much more than they used to (I could make a Venn Diagram but really, it's not necessary). The FBI has done well over 30 years of testing, and surprise surprise, all three calibers (in the right loads/manufacturers) meet their requirements and then some.

When selecting a type of defense load, you'll want something that will carry as much of its energy into the target as possible, without passing through with any remainder. Point being: a round that will not pass through the target will release all of its remaining energy into said target. For handgun defense ammo, I have a few favorites that would all serve you well: Speer Gold Dot +P (185 grain for .45, 165 grain for .40 and 124 grain for 9mm), Winchester Bonded PDX1 (basically an updated Black Talon), Cor-Bon DPX or anything from DoubleTap. For those who want super-efficient, reliable-feeding projectiles in loads that are more conducive to the recoil-sensitive (or if shooting from sub-compact pistols), I suggest Hornady FTX Critical Defense. It's one heck of a cartridge, and surprisingly affordable.

In the end, if you, your family or your survival group all already have a ton of one specific handgun caliber, I'd suggest getting a handgun that fits your hand in that caliber and buying tons of ammo for it. Be choosy in the brand and load for your caliber, but don't get too caught up in "picking the right caliber" when it comes to handguns. Whichever caliber you already have the most access to, that's the one I'd focus on.

For more detailed information regarding handgun caliber load data, check out, it's a great resource.

Again, this is all merely my take on this subject. I'm simply one guy who's livelihood depends upon it. I'm not asking anyone to take me at my word. Do your own experimenting, chronographing, ballistics testing, penetration testing, torture testing, etc. and come to your own conclusions. I've spent a lot of time and money doing the above (initially simply for myself and my own restless curiosity) and maybe you can benefit from it and save a little in your firearms/ammo purchases so you can use the money you saved for other critical preparations (like food, first-aid, cutlery, clothing, logistical gear, training, etc.)

And remember: keep an ear to the ground, and eye to the sky, your hatchet sharp and your powder dry.

My family and I greatly appreciate all the work you have put into Survival blog and the wealth of knowledge of your readers.
I would like to share a situation that happened to me recently.
My family has been preparing in some fashion since around Y2K and have really stepped up the pace in the last four years since we found SurvivalBlog.
We are hearing God’s calling for us to move to the American Redoubt from behind enemy lines, okay he is no longer calling to us in the quiet voice more like yelling to us: GET TO SAFETY!
Our sense of urgency is off the scale.

So with lots of vacation time accumulated my wife and I made appointments with some realtors in the American Redoubt and searched out properties.
We only intended to make it a quick trip, drive up one day see properties the next and drive home the following day.
In the area we were looking nothing fit our needs so the next day we started for home drove about 75 miles and my wife stated she was not ready to go home yet.
I immediately pulled to the side of the road because I was feeling the same way.
Another one of those confirmation times for us, God was saying don’t leave yet.
We turned around and drove until we had cell service, I emailed the owner of the company I work for and asked for more time.
Here is where this situation gets to the point!
The owner approved my additional time off with no problem, but for some reason he didn’t notify the HR department or my staff of ten who work for me.
They were expecting me to return to work on Monday only knowing that my wife and I had headed out for the weekend.
Three of my staff are of the preparedness mind set and discuss events and ideas for preparing on a regular basis. (Always follow OPSEC with coworkers)
When I didn’t return on Tuesday morning the joking started between them, wonder where the boss is?
By Thursday morning these three employees are almost in a state of panic, not for my safety but are now searching the internet and news stations for any indication of TEOTWAWKI.

What does he know that we don’t?

Their level of situational awareness was so low that they were scrambling to catch up on any and all available news.
Calls and Emails to our cell phones went unanswered as we were out of range; we were in contact with our immediate family by text messaging.
Text messaging worked many times during this trip when the phone part didn’t.
By the end of Thursday the mild panic had spread to the other staff.
So when I returned to work the next day everyone was greatly relieved and then I realized the gravity of this.
These people are expecting me to tell them when the SHTF.
I can not be responsible for them and their families; I am not their leader outside of the work place, we have not committed to each other and to our families to be part of a group.
I had to find away to explain this to them.
So in the conversation of what could have happened and discussing their thoughts on why I disappeared (OPSEC not compromised).
I stated to them: “If you are waiting for me to tell you when to bug out, then it is already too late.”
It is your duty as the head of your family physically and spiritually to pay attention to what is happening in the world.
Each one of us has different trigger points in our lives and for our families as to when you have reached the point of no return and action must be taken.
As the head of your household how can you put this level of trust in another person outside of your family? You cannot!
Only trust in God, Listen to him; he will lead you down the right path!

Who are you following in your preparations?

You must use situational awareness in ever increasing circles but always use God as your center.
If this had actually been a TEOTWAWKI event and they were going about their daily lives waiting for me to yell circle the wagons they would have missed it by up to seven days depending on when they each thought it was bad enough to act.

Yes we did find a place in the Redoubt, our current house is ready to be placed on the market and hope it sells quickly. We are still praying for guidance.
Only God and faith in God can get things done quickly.

Thank you again, - D.R., Behind Enemy Lines

Mojopie was the first of several readers to send this link: Doomsday dating sites: 'Don't face the future alone'

   o o o

Frank B. mentioned this over at Washington's Blog: The Government Spends Trillions On Unlikely Threats … But Won’t Spend a Billion Dollars to Prevent the Very Real Possibility of Global Nuclear Catastrophe

   o o o

Another round for lead ammo ( Thanks to Ron G. for the link.)

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Ian R. flagged this: Ottawa opens up emergency drug stockpile. JWR Asks: And after that reserve is depleted?

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Reader Pierre M. suggested this over at Police One: Edged Weapon Defense: Is or was the 21-foot rule valid?

"There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation.  One is by the sword. The other is by debt."  - John Adams, 1826

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I first began prepping about two years ago so I am fairly new to this.  In those two years I have been fairly aggressive with my education and training on the topic with much of my real world education coming from reading blogs.  I have found an area where there is a great deal of misinformation and limited preparedness so it has prompted me to address this topic since it is the one area where I possess a skill set that I can share.  The topic is healthcare after the SHTF.  I think it is difficult for any of us, especially in America, to understand how so many aspects of our health we may be taking for granted.  I can honestly say that I was in the same boat which is a sad statement considering the fact that I am a physician.

To give a little background as a lead in; I worked as a general and vascular surgeon for about 10 years after I finished residency.  A little over two years ago I walked away from that to focus on nutrition, fitness, and wellness counseling.  There were many reasons for this change, lifestyle being a big one but more importantly I came to understand that we were no longer practicing medicine but rather pharmacology and surgery.  I found that training people to modify lifestyle was the best defense and prevention strategy and this certainly applies to prepping.

I will be focusing on four topics:

  • Optimizing your health
    • Nutrition
    • Fitness
  • Healthcare skill sets
  • Water and hygiene
  • Healthcare supplies

Optimizing your Health

Health should be viewed as a spectrum with chronic disease at one end, disease-free in the middle, and optimized health at the other end.  Think about where you would want to be and whom you would want in your survival group should the SHTF.

In reading through the various prepper and survival blogs, I see so many people that are unhealthy and they do not hesitate to talk about it.  I would be worried if I were in this situation or if I had to rely on this person as an essential link in my support group.  Stocking up on medications may help but what happens when they run out or expire?   Will you live to take advantage of all your amazing preparations or will they be taken from you?  The solution is to get out of the chronic disease end of the spectrum and get as close to optimal health as possible.  I treat and resolve chronic disease every day by basically changing one thing: lifestyle.  This means nutrition and fitness.  You just have to understand that chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and most high cholesterol are actually just symptoms of a poor lifestyle, you fix that, and you fix the problem without medication.

Nutrition is the key to good health; the problem is there is way too much misinformation out there as to what constitutes good nutrition.  What I am about to say will make most prepper gasp, but let me explain.  Get rid of all grains from the diet!  Now, that said, I do store grains but I do not currently eat them, they are reserved as emergency foods only.  You may now be asking, “where does this insanity come from?”  Well the answer is biochemistry and anthropology.  We are and always have been physiologically hunter/gatherers and grains were not a part of our natural diet.  Our bodies function best and experience the most positive effects from a hunter/gatherer style diet.  I am not asking you to immediately take my word for it just because I have a few initials at the end of my name, but I do ask that you try this challenge – give up all grain, bread, pasta, rice, crackers, chips, pretzels, popcorn, sweets, etc., for one month and see how you feel.  You will eat only meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts during this time and eat all you want.  You will experience amazing results.  Since I do have limited space here to go into all the details, I have provided a link to a video on Vimeo to help explain my approach to this diet: Functional Nutrition.

Other good sources of information are the books The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf and The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.  Sisson also has a great web site at  Good nutrition is 80% of a healthy lifestyle, it is the base of the pyramid of health and without it you cannot develop optimal health.  I am not promoting some agenda here or trying to sell some magic snake oil, all I can tell you is that I have been utilizing this diet in my clinical practice for years and the health transformations and the disease resolutions I have witnessed are amazing.

Another aspect of optimal health is fitness.  It is a necessity in survival and should be an integral part of any preparation regimen.  Everyone seems to prep for food, medical and self defense but another aspect of preparation is your body.  I would like to see the 3 Bs change to the 4 Bs: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Body.  Your level of fitness will be directly proportional to your chances of survival so you need to train the right way.  Bottom line – lift heavy stuff and run fast.  What I recommend is functional fitness and you do not need a gym for this.  Functional fitness means training the body to be able to do the necessary things in life well and remember, life will be substantially different if society fails.  If you have weights available, then lift heavy – squats, cleans, military press, rows.  Add push-ups and pull-ups.  Chop and carry wood, dig ditches, and run sprints. The book The Primal Blueprint that I mentioned has some good functional training advice and workouts.

Healthcare Skillsets

The practice of medical care could change dramatically in this scenario.  Physicians and nurses currently practice with the aid of technology, sterile environments, a slew of available instruments and specialist referrals.  EMTs and paramedics are trained in stabilization and transport.  Despite my surgical training and experience, my experience in a level 4 trauma center and having been an Advanced Trauma Life Support instructor, I would have little skills to care for people in a post-apocalyptic scenario.  That was until I began studying wilderness medicine.  Wilderness medicine training is available for health care providers (EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and physicians) and what makes this different is that you have to diagnose and more importantly TREAT in the field without the benefit of technology and transport.  In TEOTWAWKI scenario things like minor wounds, burns, blisters, and fractures become potentially life-threatening emergencies. I never realized all this until I took a Wilderness First Responder course offered by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and I feel that this is an absolute necessity for someone in your group.  We should all know how to properly clean and care for wounds, close lacerations, treat a burn, splint and reduce fractures and dislocations in situations where we do not have the luxury of modern technology.  Now this course will not make you the Dr. House of the TEOTWAWKI but it will give you the basis to build from and a level of comfort in dealing with many of the issues you may encounter.  You should still have access to someone with advanced medical training.

Water and Hygiene

Wilderness medicine gets you thinking about things we take for granted like water or hygiene.  In the wilderness, clean water is your best friend.  Even sparkling clear mountain spring water can be full of protozoa and bacteria so boiling or filtration is essential.  What kills more people worldwide?  Infectious diarrhea.  This is also one of the number one debilitations in the wilderness along with food poisoning related to poor food prep hygiene.  It is also important to remember that filtration will not get rid of viruses, so in the face of a viral outbreak if the water supply gets contaminated, you will need a chemical disinfectant as well.  Iodine and/or chlorine will work well for this added safety.  We need to look at the health care issues faced in the third world countries in order to fully understand what we need to prepare for should the worst case scenario occur.

Healthcare Supplies

First thing to remember here is that it will do you no good to stock up on supplies that you have no skill or knowledge to use.  When I design and stock kits for people, I always find out what abilities they possess first.  You also have to determine what size group you want to prepare for and the environment where the kit will be needed.  I typically see a need for three types of kits and a stock of supplies on top.

Kit #1: Basic field kit.  This kit needs to be compact and lightweight but still be supplied to cover you for a 1-5 day trip away from your Bugout Location (BOL) for 3-4 people.  This should cover everything for stabilizing illness or injury long enough to get you back to your BOL.  This is the kit that I keep in my Bugout Bag (BoB) and I take hiking or camping.
Basic contents:

  • Sterile and non-sterile gloves
  • Facemasks with eye protecting, also antiviral mask
  • Thermometer
  • Ace bandage and scissors
  • Various quantities of different size sterile gauze and gauze rolls
  • Field surgical kit and sutures
  • Variety of medical and athletic tape
  • Moleskin for blisters and second skin for burns
  • Opsite or other occlusive dressing
  • Steristrips and benzoin for wound closure
  • Small vial of povidone iodine or betadine
  • Bacitracin and Cortisone
  • Thermal reflective blanket
  • SAM splint
  • Eye pad
  • Large irrigation syringe
  • Several cravats
  • Quikclot or Celox trauma bandage
  • Pen light
  • Emergency resuscitator pocket facemask
  • Ibuprofen, aspirin, Benadryl, and various antibiotics

Kit #2: Advanced Home Kit. This is an advanced medical kit for the home or BOL.  It contains all the above items from Kit #1 just larger quantities, plus:

  • Stethoscope and BP cuff
  • Fiberglass casting wrap
  • Greater variety of surgical items
  • Lidocaine, needles, and syringes
  • Battery operated cautery device
  • Skin stapler
  • Greater variety of antibiotics and other prescription meds
  • Emergency cricothyrotomy kit

Kit #3: Advanced Trauma Kit.  Now this kit would be mainly for people with advanced medical training or military field medics.  I keep this is a STOMP bag and it weighs about 40 pounds.  It is basically a portable trauma bay with advanced surgical instrumentation, major wound treatments, airway control, etc.

My recommendation is to train each person in your group in the basic medical skills and have each carry a basic kit.  Many prep groups run drills for defense and bug-out but few run through medical scenarios and these are the most likely issues that they would encounter.  Each group or family should have someone in charge of medical and it should be their responsibility to train the others.

So our best course of action is prepare and prevent.  Prepare by optimizing each individuals health, have the training necessary for your environment, and have the appropriate tools and knowledge in order to act.  Prevent by obtaining/maintaining optimal health, recognizing and understanding the risks of your environment, practice good hygiene, and utilize adequately filtered water.

There’s a lot of information available on how to make water safe to drink.  That’s a good thing because water is one of the most important parts of our survival and comfort.  My goal in this article is to organize and describe some of these methods in a way that is interesting and easy to read. I have included a few internet links to more detailed step-by-step descriptions and how-to videos created by others.

Although important, I’m won’t go into all the diseases and problems that can be caused by ingesting contaminated water. Just know that there is some bad stuff out there that can make a survival situation worse than if you didn’t drink the water at all. Additionally, I understand there are differences between the terms PURIFICATION, DISINFECTION, and FILTERED. I don’t want to get into all those details in this article.  When making water safe you want to choose the most effective method with the materials available.

In all methods listed below an attempt should be made to pre-filter large contaminates before beginning the disinfection process.
I have listed some of the methods below in two different ways; a brief description and then a detailed description. 

Brief Descriptions of methods:

Boiling: Bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute.
Distillation: Converting water into a vapor and then back into a liquid via direct or solar heat.
Commercial Filter:  A product designed and manufactured specifically for purifying water. These usually contain some type of charcoal or ceramic filter.
Chemical:  Using water purifications tablets, chlorine (bleach) and iodine.
Solar Disinfection (SODIS): Exposing water filled transparent bottles to the sun for an extended period of time.
Improvised Filter:  Using multiple layers and combinations of sand, rocks, pebbles, grass and cloth to create a filter similar to how the ground naturally filters water.

Detailed Descriptions of Methods:
Boiling: Boiling water is probably the most effective and reliable method of disinfecting water.  To make water safe to drink by boiling the water needs to be at a rolling boil for at least one minute.  Some sources may mention five or more minutes as the minimum but the extra time doesn’t provide any extra benefit and uses up more fuel.  An exception to the time for the boiling would be in high elevations where three minutes is recommended.
Ensure the container has not been previously used to store dangerous substances.  Metal containers are ideal for boiling water but other containers such as clay and plastic can be used as well.
A plastic container can also be used for boiling water.  Place the full container as close to a heat source as possible without coming into direct contact.  Keep it there until you see the water boiling for one minute.  Here’s a video from the YouTube channel Wilderness Outfitters demonstrating this method: Boiling In Plastic Bottle [JWR Adds: If you have a thermometer (ideally a floating dairy thermometer, the oft-repeated "full boil" or rolling boil" is not required to disinfect clear (filtered) water. The magic number that needs to be touched for Pasteurizing is 65º C (149º F). But if you don't have a thermometer, then bring the water briefly to just short of a boil (where the water visibly starts to churn), just to be safe.

This method is similar to how nature creates rain.  Heat transforms water into a vapor.  The vapor will condensate when it comes into contact with a solid surface or enough of it collects together until it’s too heavy to be suspended in the air.  There are several methods of making water safe via distillation. I will discuss solar distillation here.
Many survival manuals discuss creating a “Solar Still” to procure water  from the moisture in soil or green vegetation but it can also be used on existing sources of water that are suspected of being contaminated.

The typical description of a solar still describes using a depression in the ground eighteen to twenty-four inches deep and about three feet wide. Green vegetation is placed inside along the sides.  A collection container is placed on the ground in the middle and then the entire depression is covered with plastic sheeting.  Cover the sides of the sheeting with soil or other heavy objects to hold it in place and create a seal.  A small weight is placed on top of the covering directly above the collection container.  This causes the covering to drop slightly in a cone shape so that the condensed water on the underside of the plastic sheeting will pool to the center and then drip into the collection container.  You can run tubing from the collection container to the outside of the solar still and use as a straw so that you don’t have to disturb the cover when accessing the water.  Here is a video posted on the YouTube channel Desert Survival demonstrating how to build a solar still: Solar Still

Potentially unsafe water can be placed into the solar still and it will be evaporated the same way that moisture from the green vegetation would be.  You can pour the unsafe water directly into the depression or place in containers.  It’s very important to not allow any of the contaminated water to come in contact with the collections container or the covering for the depression.

[JWR Adds a Proviso: As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, do not use distilled water as your only source of water for drinking and cooking for an extended period, since it lacks the essential trace minerals found in spring water, well water, or tap water.]

Commercial Filter:
There are numerous types of products designed to mechanically purify water.  The technology for these is constantly changing especially as more effective and efficient methods are developed for use in impoverished areas of the world. 
They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Most use a ceramic filter or activated charcoal to remove contaminates.  There are pump-operated versions and some very simple straw types.

These types of filters can be expensive but their benefits would quickly outweigh the cost if they are ever needed in an emergency.  Some major benefits are time and energy do not have to be expended in gathering fuel, starting a fire or waiting on chemicals to be effective etc.
I have provided a few links below of different types of filters and how they work.  I’m not promoting any of these brands but simply directing you to them as examples of what a typical commercial filter looks like.

The following link has some examples of portable filters by one of the leading manufacturers of these devices:  Katadyn Water Filters  Here’s an explanation and demonstration of a pump filter on the YouTube channel, KatadynKP: Pump Filter 
Here is an example of a filter straw:  Aquamira Filter Straw  This link has a great demonstration posted on the YouTube channel, ShelfReliance:  Filter Straw Demonstration.

  There are a few different types of chemicals that will make water safe to drink.  Some, like purification (iodine) tablets are made specifically for camping, hiking and emergency situations.  Others, like household bleach and iodine tincture can be used safely if you know the proper ratios to use. 
When using chemicals for disinfection in a container with a lid remember to loosen the lid about 5 minutes after adding the disinfectant and allow the water to come into contact with the threads and the inside of the lid.  This will ensure no contaminates remain in those areas.

Water purification tablets are pretty straightforward.  You drop the appropriate number of tablets into a container of water (usually about a quart) and wait about 30 minutes.  The effective time will vary slightly depending on the clarity and temperature of the water.  These types of tablets were standard issue in my infantry days in the army.  They can be purchased just about anywhere camping gear is sold.  An unopened container of the tablets can be good for a few years.  Follow the directions on the label.  Here’s a great demonstration posted on the YouTube channel, eHow: Water Purification Tablets

Household bleach (chlorine) is probably the most accessible method of disinfection for a typical family since it is such a common product in our homes.  The bleach must not have additives such as scents, cleaners or be the “colorsafe” type. About 1/8th teaspoon can be added to a gallon of water.  (16 drops if you have dropper.) After stirring let it sit for at least 30 minutes.  Smell the solution to get a general idea if it was done correctly.  There should be a slight chlorine smell similar to a swimming pool.  If you do not smell the chlorine then you can repeat the procedure.  If it still does not work the second time around then the bleach is probably not effective anymore.  Bleach does not have a particular long shelf life especially after opening the container.  “MrJmfitch” created a video of the bleach technique:  Chlorine Bleach Disinfection
Iodine tincture solution is a handy item to have in your emergency kit because not only can it be used to disinfect water but it can be used in the treatment of wounds.  Caution must be used for people with sensitivity to iodine. 

It is recommended to use tincture with 2% iodine.  Add about 5-8 drops of iodine to 1 liter of water and wait at least 30 minutes.  Issues with the iodine taste of the water can be remedied by adding vitamin C after the 30 minute wait.  Here is a step-by-step guide with pictures on the web site, Instructables.  Iodine Purification

Solar Disinfection (SODIS): 
This method uses the suns UV radiation to disinfect contaminated water.  Ideally a PET made container should be used.  A typical plastic transparent water bottle would be an example of a PET made container.  Here is more information on what a PET container is: PET Containers
Completely fill the bottle with the contaminated water and expose it to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.  If only partial sunlight is available then the time should be extend to several days.
An optional step I have read about is to agitate the container before it is completely full.  This will oxygenate the water.  Finish filling the container after oxygenating. 
This link has detailed step-by-step instructions:  SODIS Step-by-Step
Here’s a video demonstration of the SODIS method on the YouTube channel, wildernessinnovation: SODIS video

Improvised Filter: 
An improvised filter uses multiple layers of different materials to filter the water.  It’s similar to how the earth naturally filters water.  This method is certainly not the preferred method but is probably slightly better than drinking straight from the source.
Some type of container will be needed such as a bottle or a can but I’ve even seen this method demonstrated in a hole in the ground.  Filter materials that can be used for this method include dirt, grass, charcoal, cloth and coffee filters.  You will ideally need at least three different materials.  The preferred ones would be grass, charcoal and dirt.

The top of the container will need to be removed so the materials can be layered into it.  Smalls holes will are placed in the bottom of the container.  They need to be the right size to allow the water to flow through them but not allow all of the filter materials to get through.  You can start small and increase the size of the holes as needed.

The filter should have the coarsest materials on the top and bottom and as the layers get closer to the middle the finer materials are used.  For example, at the bottom of the container would be grass, then on that would be dirt, then charcoal, dirt again and then another layer of grass at the top.
This link has an easy to follow step-by-step guide on the web site Practical Primitive: Improvised Water Filter
Here is a video demonstration from the YouTube channel eHow: Improvised Water Filter Video

Remember, you always want to use the most effective method of water purification with the materials on hand.   You also need to factor in the time an energy that will be expended in the particular method you choose. In a worst case scenario there may be a chance that you have no method of ensuring water is safe to drink.  If it comes down to dying of dehydration or possibly getting sick from drinking unsafe water, drink the water.

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
Please re-read my December 2011 article on "micro stores" following TEOTWAWKI. Pay particular attention to the proposed stocking list. Enough water has gone under the bridge since then--I've had plenty of time to think some more about it, plus I received some quality feedback from SurvivalBlog readers--that I thought some updating might be useful and in order. Here goes.
There were several premises I used as a basis for recommending your considering a "micro store": Yes, the situation might get bad (less than comfortable)--but (IMO) will be something less than grim--following some sort of catastrophic "meltdown" event, especially if you live in a smaller, conservative metropolitan area, rather than a large one. Look for extended supply disruptions and some criminal activity, but no "golden horde" and associated rampant violence--those will prevail in the major cities. Also, expect well-armed local citizens will get organized quickly enough, people will do a reasonable of taking care of each other, and that commerce will help mitigate any violence and serve as a civilizing force for the community's benefit.
Important factors advancing my scenario are that enough of us have sufficiently prepped ahead of the event so that there will be goods in excess of our personal needs to trade/barter, that the basic civil fabric of the community will remain and stand the strain, and that we have sufficient useful "currency" (small/compact but necessary items and silver coins) to lubricate the wheels of commerce. So, consider that we will face extremely uncomfortable--but not deadly (unless we make or allow that to happen)--circumstances.
Since commerce is based in large part in curing uncomfortable circumstances--we'll pay for things that make us feel better or more comfortable (it's been that way since one of our distant ancestors traded a custom-made spear for a couple of fish, or something)--and, you can plan on trade/barter your goods with others.
Essentially everything can be traded, even skyscrapers for gold mines--I recall a particularly onerous trade in one of the apocalyptic novels I downloaded--the USA was forced to trade an aircraft carrier in exchange for some of our outstanding debt. Nasty thought we hope we do not come to. Back to our SHTF scenario.
You're not going to be Wal-Mart, Kroger, or Home Depot, but you don't need to be. A footlocker or two of compact, high-value, in-demand merchandise should suffice to help you and your neighbors. Please look over my original list. Here are some additional ideas I have come up with and several suggested by other readers. (BTW: Your local dollar store will be helpful for much of this). I'll continue my numbering sequence where I left off--
7. (Addition). Toothpaste. Rather than purchasing tubes of toothpaste for sale (too large), here's an alternate idea. Colgate sells toothpaste in single service packages--think fast food ketchup. What a great idea/ Why hasn't anyone come up with this one before? I was formally president of a large condominium project (beach resort) and we bought many of our supplies from American Hotel Register ( Good outfit; competitive. They have cases of 1,000 Colgate toothpaste packets for $130.89 (I have no financial interest here and there are surely other sources). Sell five packets for a silver dime? At a cost of $.65/5, that would give you about a 400% markup, at current silver prices. You could also buy some toothbrushes for resale, but people will use their old ones until the bristles fall out, so new ones would not make good trading material. Get a handful of new ones for yourself and family so that (bristle failure) doesn't happen to you.
26. Soap. I recall another reader suggesting you should stock up with a full pallet of soap; that's more than a bit of overkill, unless you have lots of room to spare. How about a case instead? Another hotel supplier we have used is Suite Supply ( They have cases of 500 one and a half ounce bars of Dial soap for $76.87. The calculation is about the same as the toothpaste--sell five bars for a silver dime for a reasonable markup.
27. Playing cards. I can't believe I left this one out before. The dollar store has plenty of these for ...a dollar. Not the highest quality, but there are 52 cards plus jokers in every deck. Get a dozen or more decks. Playing cards are a much better choice than board games, which are too expensive as barter material unless you pick them up used from Goodwill or some other thrift store (caveat: thrift store board games and puzzles are generally missing pieces and are usually pretty beat up). And, playing cards are useful to all ages for many different games. You could make a little sign--"Playing Cards a Dime a Deck." Continuing with this thought, you could include puzzles with your book sales business model--trade one-for-two and sell one-at-a-time--The dollar store has plenty.
28. Plastic bottles. If/when the SHTF, we just might be looking at the last plastic bottles that will exist for a very long time. We (my family) have gotten accustomed to drinking bottled water from Sam's (to the perpetual irritation of local greenies), but the expense is only about $.15/half liter bottle. The bottles are always thrown away, but at some point, I'll start filling a plastic bag with the empties, caps attached. I'm not sure if there will be a market for empty bottles, but your neighbors (and you) will appreciate having plenty available, when there is no source of new ones. Save plenty of empties for yourself and give away a half dozen when you sell something else. They will be great for storing and carrying water (not too useful for much else). Here's an important tip on re-using the plastic bottles: Most water and soft drink bottles (almost all) are made of "PET"--polyethylene terephthalate, a remarkably inert (safe) plastic, manufactured through the "stretch-blow" process. The resin is first injection-molded (melted/squirted) into a mold that makes a test tube-looking "preform," which is then re-heated, stretched, and blown in a mold into its final shape. There is a lot of molecular memory retained in the final bottle--If you heat it (boiling or very hot water, for example), the bottle will shrink toward its preform shape (and become not useful at all to you), so sanitizing through heating it will not work. You can easily sanitize the bottle for reuse by rinsing it with a dilute bleach solution--put about three drops of Clorox in the bottom of the bottle and fill with room temp water. Let it rest for a few minutes, then pour it out (over the threads and the cap, to sanitize them, too). Don't drink this water--You won't like the chlorine taste. Refill the bottle with your purified or sanitized water (room temp; not hot). (In another, earlier life, I helped create the PET bottle as a marketing manager for a packaging company whose name you know, so you can blame me for these bottles if you want).
29. Duct tape/electrical tape/para cord/zip ties. Figure it out.
30. Feminine supplies. The need is in our rearview mirror, so it didn't occur to me. Think this one through if it applies to you/your family/your neighborhood. If you've got a lot of storage space, it fits the bulky category, like toilet paper--more likely to stock for personal use than to trade--unless you have plenty of room.
31. Multivitamins. I checked with a couple of my doc friends on this one. What supplements do they recommend to stock way ahead and (potentially) trade with? The answers were remarkably consistent--A year's worth of whatever you take (for personal use). For trade/barter--several bottles of antioxidant multivitamins, Vitamin C, and low-dose aspirin. Inexpensive generics are fine. Keep them all in a cool place. Recommended dose is half the dose on the bottle, except for the low-dose aspirin; keep that at one/day. Half dose will keep an adult healthy and stretch the supply nicely.
32. ED medications. Okay, youngsters, laugh away; your day will come. There's an important reason everyone in the commercials is smiling. These are expensive, but will be worth a lot when the SHTF. You'll need to calculate a reasonable mark-up for your stock, but one pill might go for as much as a dollar in face value silver. (At least they can be cut into smaller pieces/doses). 
33. FRS radios. It wouldn't hurt to purchase a couple of extra sets of these for neighborhood use. Again, this might be a giveaway item to enhance local security.
34. Coffee filters. Many uses for these besides filtering the coffee, especially for pre-filtering dirty water before boiling. They are very inexpensive in big bundles at the warehouse stores. Price accordingly.
There's my "micro store" update--We've come a long way and are getting pretty complete with this. Thanks, James for the opportunity to add to the original post. - A.A.A.

I've made a few paracord belts and would like to mention that not all paracord belts are the same. Some have fancy weaves and really look neat. (That was what I did with my first try.) But after completing that project I realized that in the event of that envisioned emergency, I would have to build a campfire, make some coffee and sit on a log for a considerable period of time undoing the braid of the belt and tying pieces together. What if I needed the paracord in a hurry? What my friend had fallen to a precarious ledge? Knit or crochet pattern belts require nothing but undoing the end and pulling. Make sure your survival belt so that it can be quickly turned into a single rope.

The second thought is to put your vanity aside and make (or buy) a belt that is several inches longer that you need. The main reason you have the belt is to hold up your pants and carry your knife or Leatherman tool. If your shoelace becomes unusable or you have to lash some poles together for a travois, you will still need a belt. Not to say you couldn't take a couple of wraps around your waist but, not too comfortable, much better to just pull loose the excess belt and then re-secure the end. - B. Buzz

Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large mentioned this fascinating TED talk: Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world

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Pierre M. sent this food for thought: Global Temperature Trends From 2500 B.C. To 2040 A.D.

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J.B.G. sent this news from England: Fuel strike: pumps go dry as ministers provoke a panic. [JWR's Comment: Politicians often make blithe statements without considering their consequences. At any given time, the average car's gas tank is only half full. The unfilled portions collectively represent a huge reservoir. There are about 34,300,000 cars registered in the UK. Let's assume the average gas tank is just 12 gallons. (Yes, most cars are small there.) But assuming an average of 6 gallons of available capacity, that is collectively 205,800,000 gallons. So if 80% of the population decided to "top off" in a 24-hour period, then every petrol station in the country would soon be sold out of fuel. And that's not to mention Jerry cans...]

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My recent interview on CBC Radio's The Current has now been archived. The editor of CanadaPrepared (who produces an interesting podcast) had this to say about the CBC show.

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Gracie, the Packing Pretty gal, reviews the CRKT M16-14SF-Tanto folding knife.

"It is painfully difficult to decide whether to abandon some of one's core values when they seem to be becoming incompatible with survival.  At what point do we as individuals prefer to die than to compromise and live?  Millions of people in modern time have indeed faced the decision whether, to save their own life, they would be willing to betray friends or relatives, acquiesce in a vile dictatorship, live as virtual slaves, or flee their country.  Nations and societies sometimes have to make similar decisions collectively." - Jared M. Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, 2005

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Preparedness is a lifestyle and a state-of-mind. You never know what disaster or emergency will befall you, it could be something you cannot possibly prepare for, for me and my family the times we have had to use our bug-out-bags were not related to national emergencies, but to family and local emergencies. I’m not saying not to prepare, I’m saying to prepare in ways you may not have ever thought to do, and these tips I have learned over the years could help someone else. These are not so much extrinsic items for survival, but intrinsic necessities.

When you have children, how you structure your family unit and your parenting skills can either keep you all alive or be the reason none of your family survives. So if you are a parent, I have a series of questions for you to ask yourself. How would you and your family answer these questions?

Do you have a picky or finicky eater? I’m not talking about allergies, I’m talking about pickiness. My youngest grandson has a good friend who won’t eat fruit, cheese, pizza, cake or ice cream or anything normally served at a kid’s birthday party. Not because he is allergic, just because he is finicky. While he is best friends with my grandson, there is no asking him over or inviting him to parties, because he is finicky to the point of being rude. He is the product of over indulgent and even neglectful parenting skills. These parents are not preparing him for the future in an unpredictable world. A child who is a finicky eater becomes a dead child in emergency situations. If you don’t want to see your children starve to death, teach them to eat anything that is put in front of them by loving, caring parents. Don’t allow them to become so very selfish as to be picky and finicky all the time. Now I am not talking about real allergies. Allergies are real medical conditions to be dealt with through planning, food storage and professional medical care. I have a real food allergy to shell fish and sea foods. If I eat French fries cooked in the same oil with shrimp, it can put me in the hospital. I carry an epi-pen, and have one packed in our emergency bug-out bag. My whole family knows and helps me deal with my food allergies. However; an allergy is different from pickiness, like not eating strawberries because you don’t like the seeds or birthday cake because it might make you fat or pizza because it is the wrong type. Teach your children that within reason, they need to eat what is put before them and be thankful for it, some day it might just save their life.

How many times to you have to tell your children to do something? Do you ask two, three or four times? The average these days is asking about four times. What if you only had time to tell your children once?  Hearing and listening are two different sides to this issue. How many hours a day do your children or grandchildren have earplugs on? What if they could not hear you, or did not listen to you when you called for them in an emergency situation? Do you realize in a disaster situation, it could cost your child his/her life if they failed to listen or respond at a critical time? My own son hated it because I required that he respond to me the first time I spoke to him. I was not being mean in teaching him that mom would not tell him twice. I was trying to teach him an important element to being ‘ready’. This generation has iPhones, iPods and headsets on all the time. I believe it is critical to teach children to be obedient from an early age. Little children don’t need strict lessons, they only need gentle guidance, and then they grow up right. If you wait till a child is older to teach them, good luck, the learning curve is over. Don’t let this lesson come as a surprise; prepare them now by teaching them to be obedient the first time. Just today as I finish this article, there is a G2 magnetic storm and an S2 solar radiation storm. My daughter called me on her cell phone a few moments ago, it cut in and out so badly I could not hear her, I suspect due to these atmospheric storms, but I did listen to what I did hear, so I got the message. If the time ever came when there were no cell phones, iphones, ipads, ipods working, our children and grandchildren would be lost. So I encourage parents, especially parents of teenagers, to have your children put their electronic devices down for a few moments each day and teach them obedience and to respond to your first asking, not the third or fourth.  It just may save their lives some day.

When you ask your children for details about a party or event or school project, do you ever get the response, “I don’t know”. Teach yourself and your children to be observant of details. If your children are younger, this can be a good game to play in the car to prepare them, with questions like ‘what color was the last car that passed us’ or ‘what color dress did the lady have on at the filling station’. My children loved this game when they were real young. Teaching them to be observant can help them reestablish contact if they ever become separated from you. Being observant to details is not inborn in all of us, just in the technical-minded. But, I am convinced that we can all learn to be observant to details. Any police officer who has ever worked a crime with ten witnesses and no details will tell you how important it is to teach people (children) to be observant of details. I witnessed two men stuffing a lady in the trunk years ago in what was a kidnapping crime. As I gave the police officers my statement, one made the comment that I was “no help” because I did not have details. I had become emotional as I witnessed the event and in my emotions, I failed to pick up any details that would help the police find the assailants. All these years later I still carry the burden of that event in my heart, and if that lady did not survive, it was my fault for not thinking clear enough to gather details that would help find her alive. Teach your children to be observant of details all around them.

Did you ever stand in line at the grocery store and realize how very loud the world has become? Background music and noise, people talking on their cell phones (some as loud as they seem to be able), beeping from the scanner, creaking from a bad wheel on the shopping cart, rattling of paper and plastic, etc, etc.  Silence seems to be a thing of the past. Many religious societies use silence as a structuring agent, they say that when you stop using one sense, it somehow seems to heighten all the others. No one teaches the value of silence anymore. Teach your children the importance of silence. In the early 1960s, I watched a documentary about a man who had survived the Holocaust and I regret that I do not remember his name. He owed his survival to silence. He had been hidden in the floorboards of his neighbors’ home and had to stay in a coffin sized area, in silence 23 hours a day. He said sometimes he was in there 24/7. His documentary struck me so intensely; I remembered it all my life. Because of that documentary, and much to the dismay of my children, I taught my children to be silent and to sit still, one hour at a time. I was a chatterer, so are my children and grandchildren, so this has not been easy, and quite possibly the hardest lesson they had to learn. It is a lesson parents today need to teach their children, even one hour at a time, ‘silence is golden’. Others might remember another more current television show that relates to silence was a M*A*S*H* episode where a bus load of people needed to be quiet to avoid the enemy, and a Korean lady held her hand across the mouth of her crying child until the child died. It was a show with a tremendous message for any parent in a life-death situation. I would pray that never happened to anyone, and realize it was about a baby whom cannot be taught, but older children can be taught. Teach your children the importance of silence, complete silence, no shuffling, no wiggling or tapping during silent time.  

Does it ever seem you and your children’s lives are spinning out of control? Balancing your inside life to the outside life can be complex. Parents and children today have so very many distractions, schools activities, getting the grades, extracurricular activities, church activities, friends, Scouts, etc. It seems like everyone everywhere is running around like chicken with their heads cut off, especially if you have school age children. Take an evening and list your family priorities, include prepping for the future. Make another list of every activity and organization everyone in your family is associated with, and what benefit they derive from it. The world is changing fast, if you don’t do this as a family once a year or at least once every couple of years, you are going to find out your probably out of touch with your family goals and priorities. Perhaps five years ago prepping wasn’t on your family list of priorities, now it is, have you made changes? Have the courage to stop the things that aren’t working for you and your children, whatever it is. Clubs, organizations, activities that worked in the past, but not now might have to be cut in order for your family to realign themselves to new ones. One person cuts here, someone else cuts there and it will work for everyone. A family that has not readjusted and reassessed their family goals every two years, is behind and not current.
QUESTION #6. Can your family keep calm? Learning to keep calm in the face of crisis is a difficult emotional challenge, but is a skill that must be developed if you plan to get your children and yourself out of disaster alive. If parents are anxious or upset, the children will be twice as upset. Myself, I turn to the Bible, you turn to whatever gives you peace and comfort. Most religions teach hope, so if you are a religious person, turn to that hope. In a national emergency a Christian or Jew may turn to Psalm 46: 1-3  ”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Pick what is important to you and your family and prepare them ahead of time for any upcoming crisis. For six generations now, our family has stood on Psalm 91, by the dying wish of my great grandmother who pinned a note on her children as she lay dying, committing them to the care of angels. Giving your family faith and hope in normal times, gives them calm courage in desperate times. Pray ahead, don’t wait and let your prayers get ‘behind’ and you will be surprised at the calmness your children will display. Be honest with older children about crisis situations, they have a way of knowing anyway. 

Have you sat down with your children lately and ask them, who they are? Do your children know? Their answer might surprise you. Some say the only way to know who we are is to do an extensive genealogy. True, that will give you and your children insights into yourself, but it will not tell them their personal values. That is something kids (and adults) need to learn for themselves. I firmly believe the high school and college kids that get into trouble with drinking and drugs do so because they are trying to figure out just who they are. If they are taught family values as younger children their image of themselves will grow strong with their age. A self-identify gives a child security and courage. Hopefully, if bad times do come, your child will know themselves well enough to handle difficult situations, and have confidence to make snap decisions. Hesitation can kill, a person who knows themselves has the confidence needed to respond appropriately and quickly in any situation. You can’t hand a child self-image on a platter. It has been learned early and formed all through a lifetime. Ask your child what their values are, what their friends values are and who they identify themselves to be. Ask yourself too.

Answers to these seven questions teach your children acceptance, obedience, observance, mastery of self and emotions, prioritization, courage and faith.  If you can answer most of these questions with a ‘yes-done’ you are in good shape for any future emergency or disaster. If not, I strongly recommend you consider implementing some of this immediately. Any of these preparations can be made fun for children. They may not necessarily need these skills as a child, but they will retain them for life if you teach them while they are young. Preparations need not all be physical, the physical can disappear. Parental responsibility is not just caring for the children’s physical needs; it is caring for their mental, emotional and spiritual needs too. I encourage you to do some unseen preps soon.

In 1919, the Spanish flu killed around 75 million people in a single year (Knobler, pp. 60–61). In 1931, the China floods killed over two million people (NOVA). In 1945, America dropped two atomic bombs that killed around 200,000 people (Radiation Effects Research Foundation). In 2010, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 hit Haiti and killed 316,000 people (USGS). In the past century alone, 29 countries have had to deal with hyperinflation, causing severe economic depression, during which millions died from starvation, disease and looting. These events go to show that disaster has always been an unavoidable aspect of life, and will continue to be unavoidable as long as sin is still in this world. However, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Although it is nigh impossible to avoid these events, it is possible to lower the death toll and effect of damage by being properly prepared. Individual households can take responsibility in making their city a better and safer place to live. To learn how to be properly prepared for events like this, we must look back at these terrible catastrophes, and learn.

One such catastrophe was the Great Depression. Besides being the greatest economic crisis this country has ever seen, the Depression starved to death perhaps up to 12 million Americans--10% of the population. ( [JWR Adds: This figure is disputed, primarily based on the difference between the 1930 and 1940 census, which showed a 7.3% population increase, but for comparison between 1920 and and 1930 there was a 13.7% population increase. Even excluding immigration deltas there were significant numbers of starvation deaths.] Two major events that caused the downfall of our economy are the failure of banks, which led up to the stock market crash, and the Dust Bowl, a dust storm that left 500,000 Americans homeless and destroyed most of the farmable land and crops in America (First Measured Century: PBS).

Compare the events that caused the depression to the conditions of today. For example, in the past twenty years the average number of natural disasters for a twenty-year time span is up by four hundred percent (Natural News). Yes, natural disasters fluctuate throughout history, but the severity of these events is greater than we have ever seen before. Just look at the beginning of this century: it started in 2004 with Hurricane Katrina, which caused $180 billion worth of damage. Even though the final death count of 1,833 does not seem significant, Katrina also left over 12,000 people homeless, and 25 percent of Louisiana jobless (National Climatic Data Center). Furthermore, rioting and looting became rampant because people were desperate for food and resources. However, Katrina is only one of the numerous natural disasters. Out of the ten biggest earthquakes on record, three of them happened in the past ten years. The earthquake that caused the tsunami in Japan in 2011 cost their economy $235 billion, killed 15,850 people, injured 6,011, with 3,287 missing (Damage Situation and Police Countermeasures). Nevertheless, experts speculate that the natural disasters will not subside. Sooner than later Mt. Rainer will erupt, creating a mudslide that will result in the death of thousands, and kill miles of environment (Popular Mechanics). Expert Seismologists estimate that more earthquakes of higher magnitude will hit Mississippi, as well as the Atlantic Ocean, which would cause an enormous tsunami. We live in delicate times, but not only because of these natural disasters.

Our country is in an enormous economic crisis. According to the United States National Debt Clock, provided by the Federal Reserve, our current national debt at exactly 8 o’clock pm on February 27, 2012 amounts to $15,404,053,723,986, and is increasing at an average of $48,998 per second. If we were to divide this debt between taxpayers in America, each one of them would owe $136,167. In just one month, it has increased over $180 billion, and the average taxpayer would owe another $1,000. This debt is seemingly impossible to get rid of. What is even worse than this debt is the inflation of the dollar bill. Since the beginning of the decade, the dollar has lost 24 percent of its value. Furthermore, many countries have recently dropped the dollar as their reserve currency, such as China, Japan, Switzerland, Kuwait, Libya, Iran, Russia, and Syria. They have done this because they do not trust the dollar and do not want to lose any more money than they already have. In addition to the devaluation of the dollar, more and more banks today keep closing because of the inability of Americans to pay off their own debt. From 2000 to 2009, the Federal Deposit Insurance Company recorded seventeen banks failing and having to close. Between 2010 and 2011, over 150 banks closed. The amount of debt we are in and the devaluation of our money is a very real threat to this country, one that will not end well.

As well as suffering from a fragile economy, this world is experiencing a major food shortage. According to the World Bank, 44 million people have been pushed into poverty because of rising food prices. The earth is also losing its topsoil due to the new methods of farming we have adopted. In addition, the earth has not been reproducing the natural amount of topsoil that it used to produce (Seattle PI). The World Bank also states that food prices have increased by 36 percent in the past 12 months. Even though we may not feel the effect where we live, neither did those of the 1920’s. Hedonism dominated the 1920’s, as well as the increased movement in liberal thinking. This same attitude is thriving in the times we live in today, and has taken an even greater extreme. Every type of event that led up to the Great Depression we have experienced in this past decade. The extreme natural disasters, food shortages and insane increase in bank failures are the precursors of something that will be much worse.

Nevertheless, why should we care? These events are frightening, and it is not comfortable to dwell on such things, but there comes a point where we must deal with the inevitable. The magnitude of these events is truly incredible, and is seemingly outside the scope of our influence. Fortunately, this is not the case, and there is a practical way to be prepared for such events as these. Though it is not comfortable to dwell on these events, we cannot stand around and do nothing. In light of these events and this principle of action, there are three points to show how Christians ought to handle these events. First, there is Biblical justification of a Prepper mentality. Second, the Biblical examples of physical preparation give us an example to follow. Third and finally, the practicality of Survivalism is a justifiable use of resources. Therefore, based on Biblical principles and the events of the past century, Christians have a moral and practical obligation to prepare for catastrophes.
Before dismissing what I am about to say as extremely right-winged, back woods redneck, or an advocate for the zombie apocalypse to come tomorrow, listen to why I am presenting this argument. Many Christians in America have jumped to the wrong side of the topic because liberal America has exaggerated, skewed, and falsified the reality of Survivalism.  I am presenting this argument in its true light from two different standpoints: the cost to benefit aspect, and the morality of preparation.

When a Christian is facing any decision, the first place to look is the Scriptures. Scripture says, “The fear of the Lord is the Beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom, written by the wisest man to ever walk the earth, Solomon. Proverbs 2:1-5 describes how we need to cry out for wisdom, and seek her as silver. Verse 5 declares, “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” To find the knowledge of God, it is necessary to have wisdom.

Therefore, when Proverbs 22:3 states, "A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished,” we need to listen and act upon this insight into becoming godly men. Seeing how important it is to align our views with the Lord’s, look at the man who does not listen and take action, but rather continues in his folly. Different versions of the Bible calls the person in this verse different names, such as simple, thoughtless, naïve, gullible, and fool. Throughout Proverbs, we see how much God disdains the fool. In this case, the fool is the one who disregards preparation and continues with his life like there is nothing wrong in this world. Do you want to be in that category of person who ignores wisdom, scorns prudence, and disregards foreseeable danger? On the other hand, will you listen to wisdom, and acknowledge the Biblical standard of living?

This Biblical standard of living is one of action. The ethic of working and collecting for yourself is spread throughout the Bible. Proverbs 6:6-8 gives an example. “Go to the ant you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers food in the harvest.” The ant creates and stores up food for when she will need it, while the sluggard does not, and will pay the consequences. We are to rely on Christ, but that does not mean we stand around and just wait for Him to come back. Look at the example of Noah. God told him he was going to destroy the world, and then told him to build an ark. God demanded action of Noah, just as He always expects action from us. James 2:26 tells us that faith without works is dead. Many Christians apply this to their life, but it also needs to apply to the upcoming catastrophes. Christians need to see the danger coming ahead, and take action by preparing for it.

As well as the Biblical example of reason why to prepare, the practicality of preparing for catastrophes makes it inexcusable to be unprepared. Almost everybody will agree that preparation is necessary for certain events, such as fire drills and lock downs, because people see the cost to benefit ratio as much more practical than a hassle. It is worth the time for the reward. Why do these people not apply this to preparation of emergencies on a much larger scale? To fathers and future fathers, how much is it worth to you to keep your family safe? You buy life, automotive, house, medical, and who else knows what type of insurance, but what are you going to do when an earthquake hits and the grocery store is empty. Alternatively, maybe the bank cannot give you your money because it just does not have it due to others not paying off their debts. Will you have to look into their eyes and tell them you will have to deal with being hungry for a little bit? What if that little bit has been a week, and one of them is getting sick. No good father is going to sit around and let his child die. Citywide anarchy, starvation, and a gigantic increase in crime are to be expected once more people come to the same realization. I realize this seems very far-fetched and there is little chance of this happening. That is what Sarah Luker thought, an average Betty Crocker housewife. Then Hurricane Ike destroyed their house and her family had nothing to live on. Since then, Sarah has embraced the Prepper mindset, canning food and storing resources so that she will be ready for catastrophe the next time it strikes. More and more “normal” people are seeing the benefits of preparing. Costco is now providing survival kits in handy backpacks, with food for two weeks, knives, hatchets, a tent, and other essentials to survival. This is the reasoning of ordinary people who see the danger coming, and the obvious reason to prepare for them. Nevertheless, people question how much of a priority this should take. You apply this same reasoning to insurance. You pay so that when something bad happens, you will be able to fix your care, or get a new house. Apply this mindset to preparing for catastrophe. Is it not identical to buying life insurance? People pay money just in case they die and cannot take care of their family. How about buying resources to sustain your family just in case something goes horribly awry?  Christ says to love your neighbor as yourself, but if you are unable to love and take care of your own family in times of trouble, how are you going to be an example of Christ like love for his children?

Nevertheless, how much is enough? While some will buy a two-week survival kit and call it good, others will pay thousands of dollars to have a nuclear bunker in their backyard. Where is the line drawn that says this is enough? Frankly, there is no such line. However, the principle I am advocating requires one to know what is going on around them. Therefore, when the time we live in is in direct comparison to the time of the Great Depression, one ought to prepare to be ready for an event such as this. It is your responsibility to be well informed on the current events of today that will affect whether or not you are prepared enough. Proverbs declares that the wise man seeks out council; this applies to understanding how much to be prepared! There are hundreds of books and web sites about preparation and today’s current events. There is no excuse to ignorant of the world around you.

However, many Christians are still weary of embracing this Survivalist mindset, for three overarching reasons. First, that the events that people prepare for are farfetched and blown out of proportion by the stereotypical doomsayer. Another is that the call of dependence, that to depend on God implies dependence in all things, and that we need not worry about tomorrow. Finally, many object to Survivalism because they cannot afford to spend the money, and that it is a waste of resources.

The first daunting enemy that stands in the way of justification for Survivalism is the stereotype people have given those who are labeled as Survivalist, Doomsayers, Preppers, or even Zombie hunters. Though being a Prepper or Survivalist is what I am advocating, the baggage that society associates with these groups is unjustified. Though there are antisocial groups who would love it if they had the opportunity to blow a couple zombie heads off or maybe start a fire sale, Survivalists or Preppers do not fall into this category. All that Survivalists or Preppers stand for is the mindset of being prepared for the unpredictable events of life; they are not hoping for the end of the world to come tomorrow.

These same people also claim that the coming events Preppers warn society of are “doomsayer exaggerations.” This comes only from ignorance of the current and past events. Looking at the events of the past century, it would be foolish to disregard them just because it is socially awkward to accept the solution that Preppers are providing. As I explained earlier, these events are in direct comparison to those of the Great Depression. In addition, the numbers and examples I gave came from sources unrelated to the topic of Survivalism, such as PBS, The Federal Insurance Corporation, and the World Bank. The events are not skewed or twisted to try to advocate the end of the world. They are only to show that there are events that have the potential to destroy lives in the future, and it is only wise to prepare for events such as these.

Finally, the next objection many Christians have is the call of dependence on God, which is based on the Scripture passage in Luke 12:22-29, where Christ gives the Parable of the lilies.
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.  Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?  And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Most people look at this verse and automatically jump to the conclusion that we cannot justify Survivalist principles because they imply that we are worrying about tomorrow. The problem with this judgment is that these people misinterpret the principles of preparation as worry. The principles I am justifying are not those of worry, but those of preparation. Again, we come back to Proverbs 22:3, which tells us the wise man foresees danger and hides himself. He takes action. Yes, the Bible tells us to be dependent on God, but this does not absolve us from preparing for catastrophe or storing resources for hard times. Look at the example of Joseph. When God told Joseph there would be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, did Joseph just sit back and expect God to do the work? On the contrary, he immediately went to work, preparing for this time of hardship by storing food and taking action so he and his country would be ready for these seven years of famine. This is the same action Christians need to take when preparing for foreseeable catastrophes in the nearby future.

The final objection is that many people do not have the money to prepare for these events. There is no set amount on how much money you should spend: there is no percentage or complex formula to show what is enough or not. The principle I am advocating is a mindset, not a calculated amount. Only the person preparing can know what enough is. The only way a person can be certain they can know this is by doing research, and analyzing one’s budget to match a survival plan. The amount of preparation can only come from a knowledge gained through research and understanding of the world around us. Then will we know how to prepare for the future.

Nobody wants another Great Depression. Nobody wants another Hurricane Katrina. Nobody wants worldwide pandemic, food shortage, or any other catastrophes. Nevertheless, catastrophes are inevitable, no matter how much we despise them. God has placed these trials in our lives to fulfill His ultimate plan. However, that does not imply that we sit back and watch these events destroy us. There are many Biblical examples of physical preparation that coincide with dependence on God; examples that we need to follow. I pray that you do not just leave this room and keep on living your life as if nothing bad will happen to you, but rather, as Christians, step up to the examples set for us. Therefore, based on Biblical principles and the events of the past century, it is vital that we as Christians prepare for disasters.


Works Cited:
"Biblical Inspiration For Troubled Times." Emergency Preparedness - Practical Survival and Disaster Planning. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.
Fire, The National. "Family Disaster Plan." The Disaster Center - Home Page. National Disaster Education Coalition, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
Gano, Ray. "Survival 4 Christians." Survival 4 Christians. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
Gano, Ray. Survive the Coming Storm. Crane, Missouri: Defender, 2011. Print.
Government, Federal. "FEMA | Federal Emergency Management Agency." FEMA | Federal Emergency Management Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2011
"Home |" Home | N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.
Moses Et Al, and John MacArthur. The MacArthur Study Bible New King James Version.. Los Angeles, CA: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005. Print.
Piper, John. When the Darkness Will Not Lift. Wheaton, Illinois : Crossway Books, 2007. Print.
Rawles, James Wesley. "" James Wesley Rawles, Web. 8 Dec. 2011.
Rawles, James Wesley. Patriots: a novel of survival in the coming collapse. 4th ed. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press :, 2009. Print.
Rawles, James Wesley. How to survive the end of the world as we know it: tactics, techniques, and technologies for uncertain times. New York, N.Y.: Plume/Penguin Group, 2009. Print.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Balancing the Christian life. Chicago: Moody Press, 1969. Print.
"Should Christians stockpile food/supplies in preparation for a possible future disaster?" Bible Questions Answered. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.
Taylor, Gene. "The Role of the Man in the Home." N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2011.
"The Christian Survival Guide Blog, Video Channel, and Forum." The Christian Survival Guide Blog, Video Channel, and Forum. WordPress, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
"The Christian Survivalist: A Biblical View of Preparedness" - Mark12 ministries Weblog."  Mark12ministries’s Weblog. WordPress, 9 Oct. 2008. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
Welter, William, and Jean Egmon. The prepared mind of a leader: eight skills leaders use to innovate, make decisions, and solve problems. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006. Print.

How would you recommend that I store the many salt blocks I have been stocking up on  (cattle type - various kinds of salt and mineral blocks)?
I was out in the shop today and did a brief walk through and noticed a bunch of moisture (water/liquid) developing around the blocks. Some of them are noticeably deteriorating. A few are on card board, others are stacked on back of a parked trailer. Am I setting myself up for disaster? Will these salt blocks eventually corrode the metals nearby? Where is the best place to store them? 
I have a two bedroom farm house from the early 1920's. There is literally no more room for supplies that do not have to be in the home.
While I am on the topic, my order of 500 plus pounds of culinary salt is waiting for me to put up. They are in bags now. I have three large plastic drums coming soon (40-50 gal size). I plan to put the salt in them. Do I need to find room in the house to keep them? There are a lot of moisture troubles/humidity where I live in northwestern Kansas. 
BTW, in case you are wondering why salt, --- well, it's a God thing I guess. I felt a very strong feeling to purchase large quantities. I now have pink salt (Himalayan), iodine salt, and sea salt. 
I don't want this to happen! (Advance the player to 2:40 if you are in a hurry).
Thank you for your time, - Tess of Kansas

JWR Replies: Yes, storing salt can be a challenge, but nothing insurmountable. Salty air (salt molecules suspended in water vapor) can be controlled by keeping humidity low in your storage area and by keeping your salt supplies dry and airtight. Use sealed plastic containers as much as possible. But if you lack the requisite containers, then at least use multiple wraps of plastic around all salt blocks, bags, and boxes. And regardless, always store your salt in a separate building from your tools, hardware, and canned goods. (Id est, store your salt storage buckets in a wooden cabinet in your hay barn, not in your garage or shop.)

F.J. mentioned that the clever folks over at Instructables have a lot of new article topics that are relevant to preparedness, including: Palletized Water Storage, Raised Garden Bed, Gravity Powered Water Filter, How to Clean a Fish, Altoids Tin Candle, and many more.

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Linda U. suggested this: Butchers making comeback

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Kevin S. mentioned this handy tool: Wire Bending Jig

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Bram recommended this piece by Charles Hugh Smith: Welcome to the United States of Orwell, Part 1: Our One Last Chance to Preserve the Bill of Rights

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Top secret Visa data center banks on security, even has a moat. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

"I am afraid the ordinary citizen will not like that the banks can and do create money.  And they who control the credit of the nation direct the policy of the Governments and hold in the hollow of their hand the destiny of the people." - Reginald McKenna, Chairman of Midland Bank, 1924

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Planting a garden is a sure way to find out about yourself.  Are you impatient and reckless?  Are you detail-oriented and methodical?  If you haven’t figured it out yet, you will when you till up some soil.  Three years ago at this time, I hadn’t ever planted a garden.  The last time I was even in a garden was when I was 10 years old at my grandma’s house many seasons ago.  I found out that year that I didn’t like gardening as my experience with it was mostly weeding.  Sure, I got to eat some carrots or turnips out of that garden, but they sure weren’t worth all the time spent scorching in the sun crawling around in the dirt.  Looking back, I should have learned all I could from my grandma about gardening—right or wrong. 

Many years later I began to enjoy cooking and one thing I learned was, if you had some quality spices, you could take some mediocre food and make it really good.  I would plant an herb garden!  But as often is the case, the best laid plans…  I never did plant an herb garden, but a few years ago I decided it was time to try my hand at growing my own food. 
What prompted me to start this journey?  A lot of things really.  One, I thought it was a good outdoor activity for me and my family.  I want my kids growing up doing outdoor activities that are productive to them and beneficial later in their lives, not wasting time with video games and television like I did as a child.  Each year I look forward to more of their contributions in the garden—even a two year old can help by retrieving something for me while I work. 

Another reason to plant a garden was the economy.  Things aren’t getting any better out there.  I could save a bundle by growing a lot of things myself.  I was without work for almost a year and the garden really helped out a lot during that time.  And, if things get really ugly, it will help me feed my family or possibly help others by teaching them what I have learned. 

However, the biggest reason for me to start a garden was that I know what is in a lot of the food we buy in grocery stores.  One of my hobbies is fitness and nutrition and when it comes to nutrition, ignorance is bliss.  If you knew exactly what it was you were eating, you may not eat that particular item ever again.  Not only is processed food terrible for you from a macronutrient standpoint, but the chemicals and processes used to create it are downright evil.  We have an epidemic in this country with fat children and diabetes.  I wonder if it is because everything has corn syrup in it…  There isn’t enough money in Obamacare to fix all of the problems these kids are going to have down the line.  My rule is, the further away the final product is from its initial state (the more processed it is), the less I want to eat it. 

The first year I wanted to start a garden I didn’t really know what I was doing.  Fortunately, I had a good friend that was an expert in gardening and he had recently moved into a condo, so he had no space to garden himself.  He gladly showed me the ropes.  He ordered seeds for me and even started them in planters.  After laying out the plot, we used a sod cutter to remove what we could and then tilled the mostly clay soil with some peat moss, chicken droppings, bone meal and blood meal.  I rented a big 8.5 horsepower tiller since it was the first time the soil had been disturbed and the clay made for a real mess.  I put in the contractors edging (deeper than standard edging) around the garden to keep the burrowing pests out.  Then I put up some wooden posts and a plastic fencing.  After smoothing soil, we planted a raised bed down the middle and a few mounds for the vine vegetables. 

I watered ever day waiting for some green sprouts to pop out of the ground.  When they did I was like a kid in a candy store.  I was amazed that you could take a tiny seed, put it into the earth, water it and watch as God made a plant emerge from the dirt.  Sure, I had to weed plenty—I did it every day in the morning before work.  And I had to check the broccoli leaves for green cabbage worms twice daily.  These worms were tiny but had ravenous appetites.  They would wreak havoc later on if not eliminated immediately.  I even started a compost pile and religiously put every appropriate scrap, no matter how small in the pile. 

The harvest was amazing.  I remember that first spinach salad.  What was that funny taste?  I don’t use any chemicals so it couldn’t be that.  I triple washed it, so it couldn’t be dirt.  Then we figured it out—it was the lack of any kind of processing.  No sprays applied by the harvester or at the grocery store to keep it looking fresh.  The funny taste was nothing at all. It was natural food.  It’s what spinach should taste like.  I was amazed.  And hooked.  That summer we ate like kings.  We canned dozens of jars of tomatoes, froze a years supply of shredded zucchinis and peppers and ate enough salad to feed a herd of cattle.  As fall came and went, I looked forward to the next growing season.  I remember feeling a tinge of depression as my green slice of paradise, dried up and blew away with the winter wind.  I also learned that using wood posts was a fools errant—they mostly rotted out and the plastic fencing was eaten through by varmints. 

I planned the next season’s garden and ordered my seeds.  This time, I would attempt to do my own “starts” and I would expand my garden size.  This turned out to be a season of learning and errors.  The first error was that I waited until the spring to till the soil.  I am sure the worms weren’t too happy about it.  The next group of errors centers around my potted plant starters.  Since I left heat pad on them after they sprouted, they become gangly and moved towards the sun.  I wasn’t smart enough to remember my 6th grade biology class and rotate the plants so they wouldn’t be at a 45° angle from the ground. 

Another mistake I made was not using fish emulsion to feed the plants the proper nutrients—they were not very green and the stems were not thick at all.  When I transferred the starts to bigger pots, I suddenly became economical and decided not to fill the new pots to the top with dirt.  That was brilliant as I shrunk the available space for the roots to grow—this was not helpful for making the plants stronger.  Not sufficiently hardening the plants to outdoor conditions before planting was another blunder.  I put them out for a few hours each day, but should have kept them out a lot longer.  Maybe start with an hour or two and by the end of the week keep them out there during all daylight hours.  Finally, when I went to plan the starts in the ground, I failed to wet the pots beforehand and likely damaged some of the roots when I transplanted them into the garden. 

After a particularly windy night, almost all of my tomatoes and my eggplant and broccoli were wiped out.  I had to do the unthinkable—go to Lowe's to buy my plants.  I was amazed at the difference between their thick stemmed plants and the spindly “weeds” I had planted.  The new plants took off and things seemed to be going well.  But then more problems arose.  This gardening was tough!

I had used a section of the garden as the dumping ground for bad produce or produce that had fallen off and started to rot.  I just piled it up the summer before and then it got tiled under that spring.  Well, I was answering for that mistake now.  Volunteers started popping up all over the garden.  At first I didn’t know what I had, but over time, dozens of tomato and other plants were everywhere.  I also had a lot of weeds that I didn’t have the previous season and didn’t recognize at all.  My curiosity got the better of me on this one and I learned that anything that isn’t planted by me needed to go—they basically ruined my raised bed.  I must have had five or six dozen tomato volunteers.  As a side note, a friend of mine didn’t have a chance to plan anything so he took 4 of the volunteers and they produced well for him!  I suppose in certain situations, I could sell the volunteers to people that needed them for food, but as long as my garden is just for me, I will not let them grow in the future.  It was interesting that hybrid seeds from one season’s vegetables produced actual usable vegetables the next season. 

Some of the other lessons I learned, include: 
1)      My red onions did poorly—they need more sun and were partially shaded.  I need to move them to a north side of the garden.
2)      I need to stake my pepper plants immediately after planting.  It seems every year there is a wind storm that ruins some plants and we are in an area that has no shield from wind.
3)      I need to kill the grass on the outside of the edging to protect the onions and other “weaker crops.”  The grass is mixing in with the onions and taking away nutrients and water from them.   My onions seem to get a lot of their water from the surface, so they don’t have deep roots. 
I need to strengthen my chicken cage fence around my garden with a few more posts. 
5)      Here’s an obvious one—I can’t have a tall plant, like tomatoes near my underground sprinkler head in the garden.  The tall plant blocks the water flow and prevents other things from getting watered later in the season.  Plus it gets soaked and over watered as it is basically blocking the water flow. 

This was a hard season of learning, but I still managed a healthy crop of produce and even increased my volume on a few vegetables.  Most importantly, I have acquired a “book of knowledge” which I can use to help me not repeat the same mistakes this season again.  I’ve noticed that as the summer goes on, I get a bit lazy and don’t weed as diligently as I do early on.  Also, I need to plant a second crop of vegetables later in the spring to have a late summer crop and a third planting in the summer to have a fall crop.  I might as well squeeze every calorie out the garden that I can! 

As I desire to become more self-sufficient with my food, I also planted four fruit trees, some garlic, some blueberries and a few other things.  I plan on expanding that more with an herb garden and possibly a raspberry patch in the next season.  I will also enlarge my garden both in terms of size and types of produce.  I am starting to get a feel for what grows well and what doesn’t as well as what I like out of my garden and what is more cost/time effective for me to get at a store.  I will rotate my crops once again and add a few new items to keep things fresh.  I need to do a soil exchange with a friend that has sandy soil to get better balance in my clay dominated soil.  I am hoping more sand will help with my root and vine vegetables. 

I am glad to be learning these hard lessons now, when I can recover, rather than later on, when making these mistakes can be the difference between feeding your children or watching them starve.  There is a lot of start-up work expended in a garden, but not a lot to do day-to-day.  I recommend everyone try their hand at it to see how they do.  Even with all the challenges I encountered, it is still a great hobby and very enjoyable for me.  I just started my peppers and tomato seeds this year with my 2 year old's help and can’t wait to see them sprout! 

A few years ago, I found myself widowed after 36 years of marriage.   Seven months later, I buried my mother after she lost a long battle with colon cancer.   I was only 59 but my kids were gone and suddenly I had no family nearby and no one dependent on me.  It took a few months to mentally adjust, but during that time I began thinking about re-engaging my life and setting new goals....sort of a bucket list if you will.  Two of the things that were on that list were traveling around our country and retiring early if possible. 

Retire, I did, and my travels have, and will in the future, include visiting the great national parks and wilderness areas of our country.  Also, I am an unabashed fan of Virginia Tech football and enjoy tailgating at the game.   My parents had a truck camper when I was a young man and it occurred to me that a truck camper would allow me greater access and enjoyment for both traveling and football games.  My parents' camper and truck were gone decades ago, so I began doing my research on the various makes and models and what they offered.  I quickly found out that the capabilities and amenities modern truck campers offered were light years beyond what I had experienced using my parents' camper.

I have slept in the open and under shelter halves as a Marine. I’ve also tent camped with my son's scout troop, put up big old wall tents, cooked over a campfire, and used a cat hole.  I decided that roughing it is no longer my thing.  I wanted to go for more comfort and I decided that I was going to get a camper with a lot of features and buy used to save money.  I also needed a truck to transport it.  To make a long story short I bought a 2003 Lance 1130 camper and a 2004 F-350 dual rear wheel ("dually") pickup to haul it.   Admittedly even for truck campers, this is a big combination but it had all the features I wanted and by buying used I saved thousands of dollars getting both truck and camper combined for around $36,000.    Before you sigh and close this article because of the cost, let me assure you that you can buy much less expensive truck campers that can be carried on standard pickups which I bet many of you already have.    A quick search on one RV web site while writing this article, yielded 12 campers in the Mid-Atlantic region for sale under $10,000 and at least one was an 11' foot 2011 model.  

Good fortune smiled on me and quite unexpectedly, I was recently joined in life by a beautiful lady who had been a neighbor for years.  We were acquaintances but didn’t really know each other, but our respective kids swam together on swim team, went to the same schools and we had much in common that drew us together.  We were married last year and one of our delights has been using the truck camper for camping and tailgating.  My wife has told me that this camper is definitely her idea of “camping,” and our tailgating friends are amazed at the amenities we have right in the parking lot. 

We have both been very concerned about our nation's political situation, the danger to our economy and non-conventional threats to our society.  We recently began serious prepping activity and are on our way to self-sufficiency should the Schumer hit.   We live in a rural area and hope to stay in place if things aren’t too bad, but if we have to, we will bug out and we have what I think is darn near the perfect bug out vehicle.  Let me tell you why I think so and why I highly recommend a truck camper.

First, here are some basics for those of you unfamiliar with truck campers.  Far from the “camper” shells you see on pickups, a truck camper has at a minimum the following features:  A bed, refrigerator, stove, kitchen sink, lighting, heat, and almost all have at least a portable “potty.”   The camper sits in the bed of your pickup and has a connection to your truck’s electrical system.   The interior is high enough that a six footer can walk easily down the aisle of the camper.  A bed rests in the “cab over” section of the camper over the roof of your truck.  Most manufacturers’ model numbers reflect the length of the floor of the camper not counting the cab over section.  In our case, we have a Lance 1130 which translates to approximately 11 feet of cabin length.  Our camper requires a long bed truck but dozens of models are available for short bed trucks.  I think all will require you to remove the tailgate.  Minimal modifications need to be made to most trucks in the form of tie down brackets and electrical connection and can be installed by an RV dealer for just a few hundred dollars or for much less if you do it yourself.

Most truck campers have many more features than listed above and you’d be hard pressed to find a camper with just those.  I’ll use mine as an example and while it has physical capacities larger than most due to its exceptional size, almost all campers have the same features just on a smaller scale.

We have a queen size bed over the cab.  This is pretty standard on truck campers these days.  Our dinette which seats 4, converts to a bed and over that is a fold down bunk for a child giving us the ability to sleep 4.  Most truck campers will sleep 3 or 4 fairly easily.

We have a 40 gallon fresh water tank, 25 gallon gray water tank, and 24 gallon black water tank.  The gray and black tanks have a sewer hose for dumping into an RV park’s sewer, or emptying into their dump station or in a pinch, somewhere else  We have an electric water pump or can hook up to a standard outdoor water faucet with our fresh water hose. We have A/C and a furnace.  The furnace runs on propane  The A/C runs on regular 110 volt power but we also have a built in Generac generator.  When “shore” power is available such as at a campground, we use it, connecting via a 30 AMP power cable.   While we seldom run the A/C when not connected to external power, we can if we want to by using the generator.

Our galley has a 3 burner propane stove, an oven, a microwave and a double sink with counter space.  We have a 6 cubic foot “3 way” refrigerator with freezer that runs on A/C, propane or battery power.  It automatically switches between power sources based on settings you can manage.  We have a hot water heater that can run on propane or electricity.  We have cabinet space for utensils, pots and pans, food and cleaning supplies.  This doesn’t count the multiple cabinets for clothes, supplies and gear.

Our bathroom (head) has a sink with hot and cold water, a medicine cabinet, a shower stall, powered exhaust vent, and a flush toilet.
We have a flat screen television, with crank up external antenna, AM/FM radio and a Blu Ray player.  Other amenities include a back door awning and a large awning on the side. Our windows are generous and all except the front window have screens to allow us plenty of fresh air. We have a powerful ceiling exhaust fan. Outside are power outlets and a gas nipple for connecting an outdoor grill.  There is also an external, stow able shower head with hot and cold water.

Despite all of these amenities, a truck camper is designed to be able to ‘boondock” for weeks at a time with no external connections.  Our camper has two deep cycle Interstate marine batteries.  It has two onboard 30 lb. propane tanks.  All of the lighting is 12 volt as are the fans.  There is an inverter to run electrical devices from the batteries and we have easily run the lights, television, Blu-Ray player and other things while barely drawing down the batteries.  With widely available solar panel re-chargers, and conservative usage of power, you can have power indefinitely.  But the campers also have an interface to your vehicle’s electrical system, so by running the truck engine for a while you can charge up your onboard batteries.  Also, our onboard Generac can charge the batteries but in a bug out scenario, you’d probably want to avoid that as well as running the truck engine.

Speaking of bug out scenarios, we could load our camper with supplies and be on our way very quickly.  As I mentioned, we have an F-350.  The truck has huge diesel fuel tanks giving us almost 400 miles range.  We have the crew cab which gives us a large cargo area when the rear seats are folded down.  Our truck has 4WD and is a dually.  Even with the camper mounted, we can still park it in a standard parking space.  Now since our rig is pretty long compared to most, we’re not as maneuverable as some but we can still go almost anywhere we want.   We could easily drive into the woods, pull it into a secluded spot, throw some camo netting over it and disappear.  If you could find a spot near fresh water and be able to expose your solar panel, you could stay out for a long time.  Obviously, there are other considerations, such as OPSEC, how much food you brought along or that you cached, and sanitary disposal but there are ways to deal with that and go beyond this article. 

A situation that would be most favorable would be owning your own remote piece of land, with water, pre-cached supplies, and good hunting potential.   You wouldn’t have to build a shelter or cabin, just drive your camper there.  Obviously, a truck camper doesn’t take the place of a cabin or bunker, but it also gives you flexibility and much more comfort than living out in the open.  I strongly encourage you to check truck campers out as a family emergency vehicle (FEV) and as something you can enjoy right now while things are “normal.”   Many of the prepper’s purchases are something we buy and put away.  This is one that you can enjoy all year long, yet can save your life if things get bad.

JWR Adds: Because of space and weight constraints, virtually all vehicular retreat approaches are doomed to failure in anything longer than just a short term disaster. That is, unless you heed Wade's advice. I agree with him that you will need to cache a lot of food, fuel, tools, and other bulky items such as rolls of fencing wire at your retreat property. Without a pre-positioned deep larder, you will become just another statistic. Mobility is great, but inevitably it is just a means to get yourself to a locale with supplies stored in depth and where you have fertile soil and plentiful water to grow crops.

Regarding the post of the guy in California that Google can take a photo from the public street, and see his electric meter and objects in his open windows: the problem is not so much Google as his choice to live so close to a public road that anyone could do this.  I used Street View to "sorta" see my gate, and that is all you can see--just a gate. Google Map's satellite photos show far more detail about the layout of my "spread", though the detail is fairly fuzzy. - Andy G.

Reader Jim W. mentioned a new 12 gauge shotgun, from Turkey. Unfortunately, because they made it look so much like an AR, and hence cosmetically "non-sporting," I suspect that it will be reclassified as a "Destructive Device", and slapped with a $200 transfer tax. After all, they have the precedent of the Korean Daewoo USAS-12. That was done retroactively, because some uneducated bureaucrats don't understand Latin phrases like "ex post facto." (See: Clause 3 of Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution.) And, given the arbitrary and capricious nature of bureaucrats, don't be surprised if they also implement an import ban, for good measure. Nor should we be surprised if they do the same for Saiga shotguns. Most likely these decrees will come after President Bolt Hold Open (BHO) gets re-elected. Take note that he recently mentioned that he'll have "more flexibility" after what he sees as his fait accompli re-election. I predict that the gloves will come off, and many new executive orders will be issued.

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Jay in Ohio liked this article: DIY - Single Use Antibiotic Packs

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RC mentioned this interactive map: The Geography of Government Benefits

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Be careful! You might put your eye out. (Note the face shield. It is always wise to use eye and ear protection when shooting.)

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New York City-funded group teaching homeless how to invade apartments. (Thanks to J.D.D. for the link.)

"Money is the most important subject intellectual persons can investigate and reflect upon.  It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it is widely understood and its defects remedied very soon." - Robert H.  Hemphill, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Monday, March 26, 2012

Many, many years ago, when I started wearing reading glasses, I found that I wasn't seeing the sights on some of my handguns and rifles as clearly as I would have liked. With age, comes reading glasses for many of us - just a fact of life! Now, while I could see the sights on my rifles - without reading glasses - the sights were a bit fuzzy! With my reading glasses on, the sights were sharp, but the target was blurred. Grrrr!
I did find though, that rifles with peep sights were much easier to get a good sight picture without resorting to reading glasses. I talked to my then optometrist at the about this - and he was also a member of our shooting club, and an avid shooter himself. He told me that there was just "something" about looking through a (rear) peep sight that caused us to get a better sight picture with open sights. I got to thinking about that, and started doing a little unscientific experimenting myself, with military rifles that had peep sights. Well, I'll be, sure enough the rifles with peep sights gave me a better sight picture than other open-type sights, especially the old buckhorn style of open sights.
Skinner Sights are hand crafted in Andy Larsson's small shop in St. Ignatius, Montana, machined from sold steel, stainless steel or brass bar stock. All the parts are hand-fitted to close tolerances. Andy says he works hard to design sights which are not only extremely functional and rugged, but to also complement the firearms they go on. He makes a limited number of high-quality sights, at a reasonable cost to the customer. The sights are inexpensive, but they are not cheaply made, and his customer service is second to none, too. If something goes wrong with your Skinner Sight, at any time, and need to be repaired, return them to Andy and he will make it right - at no charge.
Now, I like shooting a lever-action rifles, like Marlin, Winchester, Rossi and many other brands of lever-action long guns. While not my first choice in a SHTF situation, they would serve to fend-off some bad guys, as well as filling the stew pot, too. But all these guns have Buckhorn-style open rear sight - they are okay, but I can't do my best shooting with these types of sights. Sure, you can scope most of these lever-action rifles, but it detracts from the overall appearance of these guns, in my humble opinion.
I was first told about Skinner Sights by Tim Sundles, who operates Buffalo Bore Ammunition some months ago. Andy Larsson and I had a bit of a time connecting for a while - mostly due to something going wrong with my e-mails to some folks. For some strange reason, a lot of e-mails didn't get delivered since last December. Matter of fact, I'm still getting returned e-mails after more than three months - just didn't get delivered for some reason. Computers and the Internet - they are wonderful inventions, when they work as planned. In any event, Andy Larsson and I finally connected, and he sent me several of his sights for test and evaluation.
I received the Skinner Sights "Tactical" rear sight for a Marlin Model 336 - and Andy also sent along a fiber optic front sight to go with the rear sight. I also laid claim to Skinner Sights, rear sight for the Marlin Model 39 - and Andy also sent me a brass front sight to accompany the new rear sight. Now, the Marlin Model 336 rear "Tactical" sight is a peep sight affair, but it has "wings" on either sight of it - to help protect the peep sight from knock around damage. The sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation, too. The no-snag profile and protective shape of the sight assures quick-handling and performance in the most demanding situations.
Many military battle rifles and many dangerous game guns, have been fitted with peep sights for the last 70 years. There is a good reason for this. They are the fastest and most accurate iron sights you can put on a rifle. Not all peep sights are equal, either. The Skinner Sights will not shoot loose and afford a great sight picture, too. Skinner sights are easy to install, they fit the current screw holes on the guns they were designed for - and screws are included with all sights.
A very close examination of the "Tactical" rear peep sight for the Marlin Model 336 shows the attention to detail, and how well-made the sights are that Andy Larsson is making. We're talking super-tough sights. No fears of these failing you, period! The front red fiber optic sight that came with the rear sight, gives you an outstanding sight picture - very fast to pick-up, too. What's not to like here?
The Marlin Model 39 sights I received were every bit the equal in high-quality construction as the Marlin Model 336 sights were, with the exception that this rear sight didn't come with protective "wings" - it's just a simple peep sight - well, "simple" isn't being fair - they are very strong and well-made, to be sure. I elected for the blue steel rear sight instead of the brass one - just thought it would give my eyes a better sight picture. Most of the time, Larsson says that this rear sight will work with the factory front sight height. However, if you have problems, consult the Skinner Sights web site, it's a wealth of information that you can use. The removable .096" sight aperture allows marksman to use a fine aperture or a much larger ghost ring. Other size apertures are available from Skinner Sights.
Skinner Sights are designed to give you the same sight picture as the M-16/AR-15 line of military and civilian rifles - as well as many other military rifles. No wonder these sights seem like an old friend to my eyes! When you look through (not "at") a peep sight,  you automatically focus on the front sight - which is what you are supposed to do. It simply makes one a better shooter, and isn't that what we all want to be? Better shots?
What the consumer is getting in a Skinner Sight, is an American-made product, produced in a small shop, by a fellow who really cares about the shooter, and is mighty proud of the products he is turning out. He's also offering an outstanding product, at decent prices. The Marlin Model 336 blued rear peep sight sample I received sells for $75 and the front fiber optic sight is $20 - those are bargains in my book. The Marlin 39 blued rear peep sight sample sells for $59 and the brass front sight is only $16. Again, a bargain if you ask me, for the quality you are getting.
Andy Larsson has a lot of different sights for various rifles, and is developing newer and more exciting models. He's not sitting on his rump - he's busy experimenting with new sights. He's proud of his company, and proud of the quality of sights he's producing. Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore Ammunition told me I'd really like the Skinner Sights - and I do. I plan on reviewing more models for different long guns in the future, and I'll keep SurvivalBlog readers updated.
If you want a superior sight for your lever-action (and other) rifles, then take a close look at Skinner Sights - they have a web site just loaded with all the information you could possibly want - one of the better web sites to offer the consumer information they want and need if you ask me. Remember, Skinner Sights are American-made.  - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear Editor:
A few years ago I blocked out the views of my house from Google Street View.  However, I recently discovered that the Street View vehicle had taken updated pictures of my street, and my house was again visible, and in much greater detail!  I was actually able to read my electrical meter from Street View and view objects inside of my house by zooming in on windows that were open.  It also appears that the Street View cameras are much higher than the previous vehicle; based on the height of a pedestrian on my street, the cameras look to be at least 8 feet off the ground.  So your 6 foot tall privacy fence may be mooted by the camera being able to peer over your fence.  

I would suggest to fellow readers that they should periodically review Street View and other services, like Spokeo, to ensure that they are not being displayed for all the world to see.

I have noticed that in the last few months there has been an increase in suspicious activity on my street, and I thwarted a break-in attempt a few months ago - oddly enough, after the time the updated street view pictures were taken!! (thank the Lord I had a pistol on my person).  A thief no longer needs to case your house out from the street - Google Street view does it for them!

To remove your home from Street View:

1) Find your address on Google Maps, and then zoom until the map flips from top-down to the 'Street View'
2) Center your house in the street view
3) Find the very hard to read "Report a Problem" text on the lower left corner of the Street View & click
4) A new screen should popup (a new tab for me, you may need to turn off a pop-up blocker).
5) Click "Privacy Concern", and then "My House" and then "I have found a picture of my house and would like it blurred"
6) Fill out the description field - I've cited recent theft attempts
7) Fill in an e-mail address - I would suggest using a fake e-mail address so that you are not telling Google what e-mail address lives at your house.  (Side Note: Make sure your wi-fi is locked down, as they are probably sniffing this at the same time as well).
8) At this point you will see why we centered your house earlier - there is a red box around the center of your house in the image.  Please note that you can adjust the red box from this screen as well, but the view is much smaller.
9) Fill out the word verification, and then hit submit
10) This is the most important step: you need to move the Street view up and down your street, and repeat this process from every part of the road that can see your house.  I had to make 8 separate privacy submissions to fully block my house from Google Street View.  To move the street view, there should be two or more white arrows on the road - click them, and you should see your location change.

- Nate in California

Tennessee Guy's Pancake Recipe

Here is my favorite pancake recipe:
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup of flour
Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
It is also good to put a heaping  1/2 cup of oatmeal in place of 1/2 cup of flour!
This recipe will give you mouth watering pancakes. Enjoy!

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

H.E. suggested the recipe collection at Everyday Food Storage.

Tom in Iowa recommended the 19th Century Recipes Archives at Hearth and Home.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

I was recently given a braided paracord belt, hand made by Ridgerunner Belts. I was impressed by the quality of the construction and its sturdiness. In my estimation it has a bit too much stretch to be useful for a pistol belt, but otherwise it is a very practical belt. (Pistol belts should be thick and stout, so that they don't "give" vertically, when you draw your pistol.) I've found that one advantage of paracord belts is that you can insert the belt buckle toggle anywhere along their length, at about 1/4 inch intervals. This means that in addition to getting a "just right" fit as a waist belt, the same belt can be used for various utility "tie down" purposes like securing items to a vehicle roof rack. Yes, this opens up a lot of possibilities.

This belt is just one example of the creativity that is going into modern paracord braiding. There are a lot of new patterns being developed, with varying degrees of difficulty for unraveling, if the paracord or its internal strands are needed in extremis. (See the many recent YouTube instructional videos.) I predict that the popularity of paracord braiding will soon exceed that of macramé, in the 1970s. And I'd like to suggest that the new paracord art form ought to be called Paracord Tacramé: tactical macrame. This is a fun, mildly addictive, and relatively inexpensive hobby that creates truly practical gifts. BTW, one of our advertisers, Camping Survival, sells paracord in umpteen colors.

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Reader Stephen C. sent this piece from Oz that subtly gives survivalism a bad name: 'Bad bush tucker man' Malcolm Naden captured after seven years

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This headline ran in The Independent: Hippies head for Noah’s Ark: Queue here for rescue aboard alien spaceship. Thousands of New Agers descend on mountain they see as haven from December's apocalypse. JWR's snarky comment: I don't mean to rain snow on their parade, but if the Mayan Calendar Crowd's goal is to be safely above 1,230 meters of elevation, because they envisioned giant tsunamis in their dreams or while watching some Hollyweird movie, then why don't they just check in to the La Quinta Inn, in Silverthorne, Colorado? The elevation there is 2,660 meters. There, they'd be safe from even giga-tsunamis--more than twice as high as their peak in the Pyrenees. That seems a lot more hospitable than camping out on a barren mountaintop in France, in December. In Silverthorne, or better yet in Leadville (3,094 meters), they could call for room service to deliver extra blankets and mugs of cocoa, instead of calling for paramedics and rescue helicopters.

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G.G. suggested this slide show at the Popular Mechanics site: The Ultimate Survival Preparedness Kit for Your Car

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I heard that ATI now makes their Strikeforce series adjustable stocks for Saiga and SKS rifles. (See Mike Williamson's recent review of the Strikeforce stock for the AK.)

"Nations are not ruined by one act of violence, but gradually and in an almost imperceptible manner, by the depreciation of their circulating currency, through excessive quantity." - Nicolaus Copernicus

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Have you seen the latest reality television show, “Doomsday Preppers”, from National Geographic?  I made a mistake a few years ago – after 20 years of successfully resisting the cries and moans of my children, I gave in and allowed cable television to be installed in my house. Should have known better, but as they say, that’s a whole ‘nother subject.  Now, every week, National Geographic brings us “Doomsday Preppers,” Animal Planet serves up “Meet The Preppers,” Discovery beams in another episode of “Doomsday Bunkers” and the new pay-to-view internet network GBTV fires off a round of “American Preppers.”  Can some kind of copycat show from TLC be far behind? I guess maybe the good thing about these shows is that I no longer am tempted to confide in my friends about my efforts to be prepared for fear they might profile me into the same category as the folks they’re watching on television.  Better to keep it under the radar anyway.

I don’t really watch the shows but I’ve seen little bits and pieces of them as I walk through the room when they’re on and seeing the barns and bunkers filled with years’ supplies of food and water can give a guy a real sense of inferiority.  Am I doing enough?  How can I ever be as prepared as the stars of those shows?  Is my family at risk because I’m not taking this all seriously enough?  My total larder isn’t up to the level of what those guys spend in a single episode!  My steel trash cans filled with vacuum packed bags of rice, beans and oatmeal seem like just a thimble-full compared to the warehouses of canned goods kept by the celebrity preppers.  Since I’m not being paid thousands of dollars an episode to parade my efforts in front of a voyeuristic audience, I just don’t have the disposable income to lay up that kind of stash overnight.  Am I going to be a failure at this?  Not a chance.

In spite of the fact that we’re experiencing 8% real inflation and even though I live in a state where the economy is in a deep ditch and I subsequently haven’t had a raise or a bonus in four years, I’ve still been able to squeeze $10 a week out of my budget to engage in the process of laying up the things I might need WTSHTF.  I would dare say most people waste more than $10 a week on things like soda, fast food and movie rentals.  Think about your own expenditures for a moment.  How much could you save just by brown-bagging your lunch?  Plenty - like $5 or more per day!  Or kiss Starbucks goodbye and take your own coffee from home – treat yourself to a really nice travel mug and some quality beans and you’ll still save.  My wife and I do the cash-in-envelopes budget thing so on pay day I go to the bank and take with me our cash for the week.  In that cash is my $10 for prepping.  Lately I’ve been swinging by the nearby discount grocery store and grabbing ten bucks worth of rice, beans, peanut butter or cooking oil, and when I get home after work, into the larder they go.  Or some weeks I’ll stop at a big box department store and grab a couple 2-packs of propane cylinders or a gallon of Coleman fuel.  If I skip a week because the beans and rice are piling up on the kitchen counter waiting for me to vacuum pack them with the FoodSaver, I’ll grab a box of ammo or a couple replacement chimneys and spare wicks for my oil lamps.  While the 15-minutes-of-fame guys on TV might be spending $1,000 a month on supplies, I can’t do that.  But $10 a week is $500 a year and that’s a measurable step in the right direction that almost anyone can afford.  It would be nice to do this all overnight but you’ll be surprised at how your stockpile grows if you just are consistent and disciplined about working your smaller scale plan.

Sometimes, we’ll save up our $10 weekly allowance and splurge for something special or bigger.  We live about an hour from a large settlement of Amish folks and they have a great mercantile in their community filled with items designed for simple living.  My wife and I took a Saturday awhile back and drove there for the day.  We came home with an awesome stoneware crock for making sauerkraut and a pile of re-usable canning lids.  I was drooling over the hand powered grain grinders but we’ll have to save a little longer before I can come home with one of those!  They also sell basic foods in bulk in that community.  We came home with a 25 lb. sack of oatmeal for $11.25 and a big brick of Strike Anywhere matches.  If you’re fortunate enough to live near a store like this you can find almost anything you need for off-the-grid living at very reasonable prices.  If you don’t, just click on one of this blog’s banner ads and send a little business to one of them.
     I’ve also learned that the local big box membership warehouse isn’t necessarily the best place to find things on the cheap.  I assumed that if I bought a big bag or rice there that would be the cheapest way to go.  Wrong.  My wife the Coupon Queen showed me that it’s actually cheaper to buy in three-pound bags at the discount grocery – 30 lbs. for $16.90 versus about $25 at the “club”  store. Shop around and save.

     You might be asking, “Okay, but from a practical standpoint, what can I really lay up for $10 a week?”  Well, here’s what I’ve been doing:

Unit Cost
+/- $10 Purchases
Rice     3 lb. bag @ $1.69  6 bags = $10.14
Dried Beans 1-1/2 lb. bag @ $1.99 5 bags = $9.95
Vegetable Oil  48 oz. bottle @ $2.49 4 bottles = $9.96
Olive Oil    17 oz. bottle @ $3.49   3 bottles = $10.47
Flour 5 lb. bag @ $1.65  6 bags = $9.90
Sugar 4 lb. bag @ $2.39 4 bags = $9.56
Peanut Butter    18 oz. jar @ $2.29 4 jars = $9.16
Wood Matches 3 ea. 250 ct boxes @$2.89  9 boxes = $9.18
Coleman Fuel  1 gal. can @ $9.68 1 gal. = $9.68
1 lb. Propane Tanks    2 pk. @ $5.37 4 tanks = $10.74
Ivory Bar Soap  10 pk. @ $4.27 20 bars = $8.54
Winking Owl Cabernet $2.69/bottle (really!)  3 bottles = $8.07
Coleman lantern mantles 2 pk. @ $2.37 8 mantles = $9.48
Oil lamp wicks 5 pk. @ $2.07 25 wicks = $10.35
Chlorine bleach 96 oz. bottle @ $1.19 8 bottles = $9.52
Toothpaste  $1.79/tube   6 tubes = $10.74

The key is to be consistent and disciplined and make that $10 purchase every week.  A few months into it you will be amazed at what you’re accomplishing.  A year down the road, you’ll be experiencing a lot less dread about facing an uncertain future.  Two years . . . well, you get the picture.  Obviously there is much more to be done before I can call myself “prepared” for a grid down situation or the collapse of civilization as we know it, but I’m not convinced that we never really “arrive” anyway.  I’m finding it’s more of a journey.  I’ll do it this way while the lights are still on and look for new ways if and when they go out. 

Not to digress too far from my main topic of $10 prepping, but we’re also doing additional things on the home front that will help us be further prepared.  We left the city six years ago for four acres of paradise in the country.  Even though I hadn’t yet begun prepping at that time, I thought now that I was a country gentleman I should do something country-gentlemanish so I put up a little chicken pen and bought some chicks at the local tractor store’s “Chick Days.”  We’ve been raising birds and selling pastured eggs at our roadside stand ever since – a child could do this and succeed at it.  And since my favorite food group is bacon, a couple years later my oldest son and I trenched in some “hog panels” and built a shelter out of an old pickup truck camper shell and put in a few feeder pigs.  I now raise premium Berkshire pork for our freezer and for a few friends and family.  Food, water, shade and six months – that’s about all it takes to raise a hog.  Now we’re constructing a cow pen and I’ll be picking up a recently-weaned Angus steer next month.  It’s comforting to know that I can actually raise livestock and the meat is just so much better than the factory farm stuff you get at the store.  By the way, the livestock operation doesn’t fit into the $10-a-week scheme but rather comes out of our grocery budget.  I’ve also started gardening at almost zero expense.  Last year I grew 64 tomato plants and my wife canned over 160 quarts of various tomatoes, juice and sauces.  We also canned copious amounts of sweet corn and green beans.  There’s a real learning curve to gardening, though, so start now. You’ve heard it before – if you wait until the grid goes down you’ll starve to death before you master growing your own food.  Start with a few tomato plants, some beans, a few zucchini and a potato barrel.  Just take it one step at a time and eventually you’ll get somewhere.  Once again, it’s about being consistent and disciplined.

Like the Good Book says, “A Prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”  (Proverbs 22:3) Prudent or “simple” – what’s it going to be for you?  While $10-a-week prepping won’t get you on TV, if it’s all you can afford (like it is for me) I believe it will earn you the title of Prudent.  While you won’t be a celebrity like the television preppers, you will be at least somewhat supplied in the event of TEOTWAWKI.  And if that day doesn’t come for awhile yet and you’re consistent and disciplined between now and then you’ll be a lot more than just somewhat prepped.  You’ll be ready to face an uncertain future with one less thing to worry about.

I have always been minded to prepare.  From an early age, I was a boy scout, trained to “always be prepared”.  When my wife and I were newly married and living in a large metropolitan area, I felt impressed to purchase a 72 hour emergency kit of MREs, emergency radio, first aid, and radiation poisoning pills.   In the event of a large catastrophe, a city is about the worst place to be, so I wanted to be as prepared as possible. 

I recall the Katrina-fueled (no pun intended) gas shortage during 2007 in which the gas stations in the city we lived in were all but empty.  Thousands of cars lined up to be refueled; rage enveloped many city streets; price gauging was rampant; heightened paranoia and anxiety were present.  A city utterly dependant on oil came grinding to a halt and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  Soon we felt the need to move (for a variety of reasons, one being our neighbors door being kicked in by thieves and two, we did not want to raise children in a city). 

Upon moving to the area we live in now, I again purchased a 72 hour kit that included MREs and water. I began to stock up on potable water. I purchased rain barrels and a reputable filter system (namely the Katadyn pocket filter.  Very portable, has a washable filter, and lasts forever).  We do not have access to a well or even have a nearby water source within a ½ mile on a map, which was a sobering discovery.   For the suburban prepper, rain harvesting, filtration, distillation, and conservation are an absolute must.  I filtered some rain water recently and boiled it for a minute to kill any bacteria.  The taste was rather flat, but I didn’t get sick! 

I discovered that Costco sells incredible dehydrated food in large quantities for a very low price.  I purchased non-GMO seeds: the kind that WILL reproduce seeds.  I purchased an excellent seed vault on Amazon for only $40.  Upon making this seed purchase, I realized how deficient a farmer I actually am, and how greatly I need to procure legitimate farming skills. 

I soon discovered that a rocket stove is a must-have.  It uses wood only, they are easy to light, and are protected from the wind.  The directed heat these things put out is incredible and you’re utilizing an unlimited fuel source: wood.
I immediately bought an ax, some good files or a sharpener, and a hatchet. 
Gloves, paracord, tarps, an iron skillet and bivy sacks are also items I’ve recently bought.  In the event of earthquakes or powerful storms, your home or shelter may be destroyed.  Tarps, paracord, and even a quality tent on hand will make a huge difference.  Gloves may be an often-overlooked item, but consider the implications if you injure your hands and there is no medical care to be found.  The same goes for purchasing waterproof quality boots/foot wear. I also purchased medicine (aspirin, children’s Tylenol) for my children, as it will be in short supply in a SHTF situation.

Granted, these are bare minimum purchases, but I was still operating under the assumption of great trust in my government and thereby simply being prepared for any eventuality.

But I digress.  Something happened to me that eradicated my misplaced trust. I began to make these purchases in January of 2012 out of a deep spiritual conviction that is still planted firmly in my heart.

At the end of 2011, I felt impressed to pray and fast.  Considering I am a full-time minister, this was nothing new in some respects.  But this time, it felt different.  God clearly laid on my heart to skip a meal for the first 40 days of 2012.  For whatever reason, God really wanted to get my attention. 

As I began my fast, the first two weeks had nothing to do with survival or great impending change. My prayers were centered around my community, my church, people I know, family, friends and the like.  As I continued my fast, the weight of the sin of the world became clearer and clearer, crushing my soul with the levels of selfishness and evil that are in the world.  I felt led to pray “intercessory prayers”: prayers you pray for people/situations/areas/towns when they don’t even know they need it. 

Prayer and fasting can also be a powerful mirror to the soul, and I saw myself as being no exception in needing forgiveness.  I pressed on and sought the Lord.

Soon my prayers were expanded to the world: praying for world events, nations, leaders, and decisions.  I can’t fully explain it, but after two weeks of praying and fasting, God made it clear to me: start getting ready, and with urgency. 

I felt my eyes being opened.  I saw the governments of the world dealing with what they have: a losing hand, encumbered with debt so great there will eventually be no bail out for the USA – the world’s largest economy.  Their actions are telling of a deeper problem: our leaders have no hope, and they are spending and leading in a way that is indicative of that belief.  I asked myself, “If I managed my own finances as the government manages theirs, what would that say about my priorities?”  It would say that a) I am a complete idiot when it comes to managing money or b) we’re already screwed, so let’s rack up the credit card and spend like there is no tomorrow, because I believe they know this is the case.  The government has shown a shameful appreciation for both “a” and “b” characteristics these past few years.

In that same time period, Congress and President Obama passed the National Defense Authorization Act, essentially codifying martial law.  The most alarming aspect is that there is currently no need for such an Act to be passed, unless there is a future event they are aware that will occur and we are not.

I began to watch online videos of reputable individuals stating dreams and visions they have received, telling of a future cataclysm of epic proportions, each person unknowingly corroborating the other’s accounts.  If you know me, I am not a person who normally goes along with such things unless I am very convinced, as many “prophets” are unreliable.  However, prophets are certainly present in our world today, as they have always been, and God has shown throughout history that they play an important role in foretelling coming events.  Many of them have been having dreams for years leading up to this age in history, and their dreams are increasing with great frequency. 

I thought of Joel 2:28
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
   your old men will dream dreams,
   your young men will see visions.

Many of these prophets speak of asteroids that trigger worldwide earthquakes, famine, and flood.  The apostle John speaks of an asteroid referred to as “wormwood” that will strike the earth and render 1/3 of all air and water as poison (Revelation 8:10-11).  John also accounts that on the day of the Lord (when Christ returns) the “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty,” are hiding in rocks and caves, pleading for mercy.  Every knowledgeable prepper out there knows that the government has been on an absolute bunker construction frenzy over the past 25 years.

In the Bible, a call to fasting can either be a) in response to a grievous social/national/personal event or b) in preparation for a coming famine, problem, or situation.  Consider Joseph in the book of Genesis:  God warns Joseph of the coming famine, to stock up on seven years worth of grain so the people of Egypt would not starve.  Likewise, God warned Noah to prepare by building an ark.  Many forget that Noah built the ark for 40 years.  Imagine the ridicule he and his family underwent as they pressed on, trusting the Lord in absolute faith, and in the end, their faith was justified.  God uses prophets to warn of impending doom.  If we ignore the crazy prophets out there and listen to the real people of virtue, then more might be prepared. [Editor Notes: Some references to modern day prophecy deleted for lack of a track record.]

Likewise, if we believe that God is a God of mercy and love, then God would warn us of impending doom or problems.  While God may not always warn us of personal issues in the future, He does have a track record of warning his people en masse (see Joel 2:28 again).  When I see thousands of people waking up to the fact that something is coming, I don’t see paranoia (as in Y2K), I see a deep instinct kicking in that is there by design. 

For example, when cows begin to play, it is usually going to rain.  Animals are aware of upcoming changes. Consider the signs of dolphins beaching themselves at Cape Cod (as they did in late February), thousands of birds mysteriously dying, bees just completely disappearing.  Animals know something that we would also know if we would listen: get ready.

So what does this have to with prepping?  Everything.  I believe that not only does God want us to prepare ourselves physically: ammunition, water, food, medicine for personal use as well as corporate goodwill, but God also wants us to prepare ourselves spiritually.   If we do not know Christ, God wants us to know Him.  If we do not have peace with God, then God wants us to know that peace.  All of the physical preparation in the world will still not account for your soul being lost when this life is over.  As Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on the Word of the Lord” and “What good does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?”

More than anything, a living relationship with God is the ultimate prepper “must have”.  God bless each of you as we prepare for the future, trusting in God for whatever may come.  I pray for peace in the world, but I must believe the words of Romans 8:22 “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”   The changes that await the earth are ultimately for good, although that may be hard to believe when they come.  God loves the world, and I believe God is calling certain individuals to be prepared, not just to survive, but to hopefully thrive in a much different society and world.

I'd like to correct some misconceptions regarding both precious metals and "collectibles", some of which have been repeated in recent letters from readers.
First, regarding collectibles:  This term has a specific meaning under the Internal Revenue Code.  Its definition is found in 26 U.S.C. Section 408(m)(2), which says:
(2) Collectible defined
For purposes of this subsection, the term “collectible” means—
     (A)any work of art,
     (B)any rug or antique,
     (C)any metal or gem,
     (D)any stamp or coin,
     (E)any alcoholic beverage, or
     (F)any other tangible personal property specified by the Secretary for purposes of this subsection.
Note that firearms and ammunition aren't listed.  Item (F) clearly allows the Secretary of the Treasury to designate other tangible items as "collectibles" but as of today, this hasn't been done - so the term "collectibles" only includes the specific items in the list above.
Second, and perhaps more importantly for your readers, is the misconception regarding gold and silver and taking physical possession of it.  The simple fact is that you MAY take physical possession of certain gold and silver held by your self-directed IRA.  The applicable law is 26 U.S.C. Section 408(m)(3), which says:
(3) Exception for certain coins and bullion
For purposes of this subsection, the term “collectible” shall not include—
(A)any coin which is—
(i)a gold coin described in paragraph (7), (8), (9), or (10) of section 5112(a) of title 31, United States Code,
(ii)a silver coin described in section 5112(e) of title 31, United States Code,
(iii)a platinum coin described in section 5112(k) of title 31, United States Code, or
(iv)a coin issued under the laws of any State, or
(B) any gold, silver, platinum, or palladium bullion of a fineness equal to or exceeding the minimum fineness that a contract market (as described in section 7 of the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. 7) [2] requires for metals which may be delivered in satisfaction of a regulated futures contract,  if such bullion is in the physical possession of a trustee described under subsection (a) of this section.
This law seems to trip everyone up and I'm uncertain why, as it is very clear.  I will paraphrase it in the simplest language I can so it is crystal clear:
     (3)(A) The term collectible does not include U.S. minted fifty, twenty-five, ten or five dollar gold coins, U.S. minted one dollar silver coins, U.S. minted platinum coins or a coin issued by any state.
     (3)(B) The term collectible also does not include gold, silver, platinum or palladium bullion meeting certain fineness requirements if the bullion is held by a trustee.
The important point here is that the requirement that precious metals be held by a trustee ONLY applies to bullion, not to coins that meet the requirements of (3)(A).  
Finally, note that the coins in (3)(A) are all U.S. coins.  Foreign coins, even if they exceed the fineness requirements of their U.S. counterparts, are considered bullion and will need to be held by a trustee if kept in an IRA.
Best, - Matt R.

My wife and I traveled through Israel in 2007. For that occasion a lot of travel research and came upon the OneBag web site.

OneBag proudly announces that there are two kinds of flight luggage: "Carry-on" and "Lost". This site is a superb resource of tested information on compact and efficient one bag travel for extended periods.

Through them I discovered an excellent US made carry-on/backpack by Mountain Equipment that masquerades as handled carry-on with hidden frame, full size shoulder straps and belly band .
Unzipping side zippers reveals the shoulder straps and belly band. The bag converts in seconds to a comfortable well supported backpack.

On our return from Israel we arrived for a layover in Paris and found ourselves in the middle of a nation-wide transit strike. Off to the side, we converted to back packs and easily hiked the 1/2 mile to the only train running to Gard de Norde and from there into central Paris for our overnight.

I have no relationship to MEI Packs or OneBag. The bags are all they promise. We will be using ours for a return this fall. - Dollardog


I enjoyed the Bugging Out Abroad article. J. Has some excellent points and realized his deficiencies regarding where he stands with out precious metals and comms.  I to have traveled quite a bit in the past several years, and it is always a learning experience to figure out how to survive different situations in countries where, you are the foreigner and will need special skills if the SHTF while your over seas.  Over the past several years I have traveled mostly to countries where I can obtain a reciprocal ham radio license, or obtain a license in country. Ham radio is extremely useful to me doing Missions work. So if you have that bent it is easy to get information and start a licensing process long before you leave your own country, The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) has contact with other national clubs around the world where you can actually contact other Hams to help you out. Hams around the world are always gracious and helpful, and wish to meet there fellows from other parts of the world.  Whether I get my reciprocal or not, I always carry a 12 volt DC 100 watt HF rig with me,one of my radios fits nicely into my Bible zipper bag, It helps to keep the microphone and Key separate,  and an adjustable pre-marked lightweight  HF dipole antenna kit with my baggage. If ask about a license, I just show my American license. It usually works and I have only been ask curious interested questions. If I don't have a local license, I simply tell them I will be going onto a country where my license is good and usually I am.
On carrying Gold and Silver. I never go anywhere overseas anymore without at least 4 or 5 ounces of fractional gold on me and separated in different places. I usually keep at least 2 ounces in fractional with my passport, Just incase the financial balloon breaks that should be enough to get me home..  You will almost always in Asia--Thailand, VietNam, Indonesia etc  find  places where you can exchange  gold for local currencies. Europe, Germany for sure even the banks will exchange for gold.

As  noted in James's novel Survivors other countries are far more likely to trade for it than even here. It is really interesting I had to go to Afghanistan several years ago, and when I got off the plane the first thing I did in the restroom was get my K-Bar out an strap it on under my jacket.  I figured if anyone wanted to cut my head off, they were going to have to work for it.  That was really a scary place for a solo traveling American. Oh, I managed to keep it on me when I left on the old rattle trap civilian airplane, there was very poor security, and in my mind I'm sure that some of the fellows on the aircraft were terrorists. And the UN employees onboard were useless. Blessings, - Dave of Oregon

Sue W. recommended: The Seven Rules of Bureaucracy

Gary Schilling: The Japan Train Wreck Is Accelerating. (Thanks to Michael W. for the link.)

Robert Prechter’s Dire Prediction For 2012

Items from The Economatrix:

Home Sales Show Strength, Prices Rise

Oil Prices Rise On Unexpected Supply Drop

Mish Shedlock: Highest Price Ever of Gasoline in March

Signs Of Recovery Grow In US Housing Market. [JWR's Comment: With so many delayed foreclosures now hitting the market, we are still nowhere near the bottom, folks.]

Over at Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest, our friend Ryan reviews: Selco's One Year in Hell

   o o o

I heard that because of some recent storm damage to their bridge, the spring Knob Creek Machinegun Shoot has been cancelled. The good news is that the October 12-13-14, 2012 shoot is still a "go." OBTW, when attending events like this, I recommend that you wear one of our T-shirts (SurvivalBlog, Bennington Flag, or Long Live Rock n' Roll)--because you never know who you might bump into.

   o o o

This Nanny plays favorites: Police to ignore California impound law amid concern of fairness to illegal immigrants. (In California's Animal Farm, some are deemed "more equal that others.")

   o o o

Government to keep information on Americans with no terror ties. (A hat tip to D.V. for the link.)

   o o o

You gotta love Rhodesian Ridgebacks. (Thanks to B.H. for the link.)

"Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, [even] unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
[It is] a faithful saying: For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us:
If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
Of these things put [them] in remembrance, charging [them] before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, [but] to the subverting of the hearers.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." - 2 Timothy 2:7-16 (KJV)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The importance of keeping a curriculum in your plans

In a TEOTWAWKI community, the lifestyle would be more or less the traditional one known to all communities in all times, cultures, and epochs: survival maintenance. Work never ends because, in a traditional community, work is life. Gardening techniques, clothing styles, earthenware, cuisine, tools, art, tapestries, house construction, and all the rest are not ‘pretty things’ at all but artifacts that emerge from survival. They are pretty things when we see them as a Goth’s furry booties in a museum or an Algonquin head wrap in a roadside souvenir shop. Likewise, education is practical, a lesson with a purpose and not as a diversion, and the learning that does not further community welfare is a dangerous one. All effort either contributes to the community welfare or works against it. Learning programs are no different.

Even if cataclysmic events pass after a short time - say, five to ten years only - and we are able to re-enter the society we left with its food stores and water treatment facilities, that is a gap of time that needs to be filled diligently and productively. Children should emerge in a better frame of mind and worldview than if they had been left in the pre-cataclysmic modern public school system. Would your TEOTWAWKI school program do that? This is what the prepper-survivalist strives for: coming out of difficulty stronger, wiser, and looking upon challenges, however fearsome, with the same look that Aristotle described on a ‘great man’: one who looks upon life the way an athlete looks upon a race.

The vital points of learning are in stories. Here are suggestions for designing an approach without electricity for any digital materials, cassettes, or videos. From the descriptions of TEOTWAWKI life that I have seen, it is difficult to imagine that your energy sources would be wisely spent on dvd or cd players, even for educational purposes. It’s likely going to be purposely selected tales and sing-alongs by campfire and candlelight from day one. A family or community must decide for themselves what is moral, good, bad, etc, in terms of reading material and because of the personal nature of that, I do not prescribe materials by name.

Reading the opening chapter of James Wesley, Rawles’ How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, it is difficult to imagine that there will be much time for school learning concerns, at least in the beginning. In a real TEOTWAWKI scenario (is there any other kind?), most preppers and their children would find it difficult to focus on bookish pursuits. But eventually, if and when things settle down and preparations have paid off well enough that a small community can emerge and stabilize, life will have to go on and part of that maintenance is in the schooling of the young. It is what gives the idea that there is a future to work towards at all, for it would be equally difficult psychologically to go on with things if you and your family/community had the attitude that there would be no future.

Right thinking requires selecting right examples

If we accept that learning must be geared towards practical survival, and if we accept that stories can transmit good examples and ideals necessary to survival (fortitude, perseverance, self-restraint, charity, respect towards authority, etc), then we may infer that the selection of stories is crucial to preparing children to survive, which in turn helps us to survive.

The one in charge of learning (in the home or for a small community school) will have to act as censor in the selection of stories for telling or reading. Let’s not forget that the word comes from the Latin ‘cencere’, which meant to give an opinion or assessment, to appraise. From the late-medieval period on it was used in ecclesiastical terms as ‘censor’ to mean a corrector or editor in the sense that what was printed was accurate and the stamp of approval was the word ‘imprimatur’ - (fit) to be printed. The TEOTWAWKI teacher will have to know what is ‘fit reading’. One of the disasters of modern education is the idea that children can be the creators of their own learning. Shall we allow them to create their own means of survival? We have been taught by mainline media to fear the word censor, but consider how often we as parents do this in practice: we censor what children eat, we censor the time they may be home or in bed by, we censor the language they may use towards their siblings, and so on. If we are willing to admit that a child’s outlook, temperament, and inclination are shaped in great measure by what is seen in the films and in print, then it follows that these things need censoring.

You have a limited amount of time to prepare the mindset of kids, to prepare by the age of ten or twelve in what Aristotle called ‘khreston ethos’ or a fitting outlook, what C.S. Lewis called ‘just sentiments’ - the frame of mind that is conducive to working when cold and wet, learning for tomorrow ‘just because it’s what we do’, accepting correction with humility, acquiring a fledgling sense of decorum, duty, and the like. Learning is not complete by this age but the basis upon which more advanced learning can take place is laid here. The mind at this age is the concrete slab foundation of the house and it had better be strong. If this is true generally in the comfy environment that we have at the moment, how much more true will it be in a perilous environment where the survival of everyone is contingent upon what notions are put into our children’s imaginations?

Stories - the foundation of community

Stories, as education, were never for diversion. Today, myths are considered to be fanciful stories for entertainment from a naïve past, but in fact they served as educational lessons to their original societies. ‘Little Red Riding-Hood’ was a tale to warn small children not to venture into the woods because in early-medieval times, that’s where roving Celtic bandits lived - and kidnapped children that drifted too far afield. This is how a little Romano-Briton boy ended up an Irish shepherd for fifteen years; he later became known as Saint Patrick. The genealogies of many traditions are thought of as being overly-attentive to family trees but in a traditional community, genealogies are historical time-lines. With the Internet, parents have great access to all manner of stories new and old to collect, print, and even use now without any TEOTWAWKI. Parables, proverbs, fables, and legends (including adventure tales) transmit lessons about survival-conduct, wise decision making, and right perspective. Right-perspective is not about your ideological preference or your favorite -ism; it’s about survival within your retreat.

The material of a prepper’s home school or community school might be in pictures or words but it’s what the stories are about that counts. Many societies of more primitive peoples without a written language are known for their generosity and peaceful way of life, and don’t forget that at the time of Nazi Germany, Germans were the most literate nation in the world. Even at the most practical level, such as the Bushmen of Africa, there is an ‘oral literature’ without which they would have difficulty making sense of the world around them and their place in it. Consider collecting a list of stories (tales, books, etc) classified under value-headings, ex: about family life, community life, work ethic, and personal responsibility. The goal is moral living generally, for all the camping supplies and solar panels and chlorine tablets and jerked beef and heirloom seeds come to nothing if strife, dissent, and selfishness reign in your retreat compound. Daily stories help in some measure (depending on how well they are integrated with other tasks in the day) to keep order. It would be difficult to teach children to participate in a tight community structure while feeding them some random assortment of disconnected stories that go against communal living. When it comes to tight community living, where every person young, old, and in between is a vital cog in the daily operation of things, moral stories are as important as clean water and defense. If you see nothing in common between the traditional stories of the Tlingit in Alaska, the Sanskrit parables of the ancient Indo-European Aryans, the myths of the ancient Greeks, and the tales of medieval Slavs, then know that it is their survival as communities.

Written word, spoken word

Wars and disruptions in The Grid can be temporary. However, if a TEOTWAWKI scenario happens, it would likely endure for many years because the very nature of TEOTWAWKI is big, not small. After fifteen years of travel, living and working on four continents, it is my impression that the Amish in the United States have the most balanced or holistic system of education: letters and stories that enforce the social ethos. There is a similar community in Europe (and some other countries, including the US) called Bruderhof with many parallels in approach but they are not as numerous. A number of small eco-communities (often downplayed as ‘communes’ by the western technocratic media) have grown in Russia and in Germany, but because of their nature and principles, they are not on the internet. They all value stories and art as part of the mechanism of community health. Should there be second and third-generation TEOTWAWKI communities, and should they lose most writing skills, they would still stand stronger than others as long as they carry with them the necessary Moral ABCs to survive.

Don’t let reading dominate. Use voice. In your curriculum, include many oral response/ performance activities that follow stories. Having kids read aloud helps with communication skills generally, can remove some speech impediments, assists memory, and also encourages self-confidence. Have them identify connections with previous stories. Ask how they are related and how they are different. You might also combine a spoken story with art/drawing activities. Traditionally, music is also combined with stories, especially for younger kids. Music in many societies is the means to teaching correct grammar because children internalize rhythm more easily than rules. The use of songs has long been known to work well in foreign language acquisition. Rhyme in music and poems is also a natural feature of language learning because it is an analytical activity. Incidentally, many traditional (non- or semi-literate) communities that I have seen in my travels have rich musical traditions without instruments. Voice and melody are the important elements.

For those who would develop writing in the curriculum, there is no great rocket science to making comprehension/response activities into learning pedagogies. Anything read or listened to has the basic pattern:
-Elicit the moral/lesson of it
-Connect or integrate it with previous stories or real-life experiences (physical, emotional, ethical, creative, etc.)
This process doesn’t change much in terms of essentials all the way up to college work, only in depth and complexity. For example, the standard parts of an analytical college essay are:
-Summary of the main ideas (What the facts are, what the deal is)
-Interpretation (What they mean, how to look at it)
-Proposal (What we should do next, new ideas)
And at the higher level of formal research projects, it becomes:
-Review of the literature
-Research methods and analysis of the data
-Results and applications
Create a similar template for any story at any age level.

Children and especially adolescents should be encouraged to contribute materials for the library such as writing original short stories and reflections, writing down their experiences, noting humorous episodes from their days, and - importantly - reading each other’s stories or telling them dramatically. Humor will be a vital component in TEOTWAWKI society. Kids should be encouraged to draw scenes of hope and joy wherever their imaginations can find it. Book-making (for what they write and draw) is another basic and rewarding skill that can be worked into the whole process. Ink-making, carving out a quill, paper making can also be part of the curriculum because these things might in fact be needed.

Select your library now. Even if you don’t have children, some in your community might. Your library collection should not be too big. If each family in a community had a small library, it would make for a sufficient sharing system all put together. The library should also be portable. Having a community does not guarantee that its members will have the luxury of remaining in one place settled down. You might need to go nomadic. This lifestyle should also be somewhere in your selected stories so children can relate to it should the need arise. There are plenty of stories from nomadic cultures that help young and old alike to comprehend the life of traveling.

Traditional societies that have survived so long in natural TEOTWAWKI conditions - in Australia, Central Asia, South America, North America, Siberia, and many others right up to our day all share one thing in common with regard to the young: educating youth through stories that impart the values and character necessary to not only survival but constructive outlook and moral self-worth. It will be good for preppers to study something about existing communal groups that integrate traditional stories with living,. For example: kibbutz settlements, Amish communities, Eskimo reservations, monasteries, and other indigenous cultures around the world, both settled and nomadic, to glean information.  In such communities, things are not done frivolously. What works is kept, what doesn’t work is discarded.

This is the course of literature. What we list as ‘pretty things’ are just artifacts of survival taken out of their survival context. Real literature is that which promotes survival. It can become pretty afterwards for future generations to look back on when they are in the position of enjoying the accomplishments that their forebearers (re)built.

For the preparation conscious world traveler, life abroad means a unique set of considerations must be made to the manner in which you travel/live abroad.  After all, the primary objective of the prepper abroad should be to get back to their family and home.  It was, at least for me.  My time living in Asia during the outbreak of Swine Flu brought the fragility of the infrastructure I was living in to the forefront of my attention and garnered in me an appreciation for the self reliant upbringing my parents instilled in me and made all too frightening the prospect of being trapped in a city more densely populated than any we in the States could imagine.  A global pandemic, socioeconomic collapse, natural disaster, .etc whatever the catalyst may be that destabilizes the normal functioning of society, the added stress of being so far from home means a prepper worth his salt needs to consider several factors during their, what I will refer to as an: Overseas Bug Out (OBO).

In flight preparedness:  I can remember going to the airport and meeting my dad directly at his gate coming back from a business trip.  Now I’d wager that TSA would tackle a four year old that walked past the barrier without getting fully scanned or without a boarding pass. The fact of the matter is that global terrorism and the protectionist culture have turned air travel into a disconcerting ordeal for those of us that like to travel well prepared.  Fortunately hours on airplanes to and from the far side of the globe have aided me in developing a rather comforting system, that is flight friendly.

Most airlines allow you to carry two pieces of baggage onboard. I would encourage readers to take full advantage of this, but I’d urge them to consider their organization.  I usually carry a shoulder slung briefcase and a watertight sling dive bag that I bought while in Thailand.  In the briefcase go the delicate tools that can’t be checked and aren’t vital to life i.e. can be abandoned.  This means computers, e-readers .etc.  This bag goes into the overhead bin.  I’ve never been a stickler about this.  I only book aisle seats, anything I need I can get up and grab.  The dive bag however is never out of my reach and within it I keep my flight survival system.  I try to stick to as many key elements of survivability as I can.  With of course the exception of a cutting tool I’ve found that most others are easy to get by with.  First the dive bag is a great choice, it’s relatively watertight, it goes on fast, I can synch it down quick, and I can get out of it fast.  Now I know the odds of surviving a plane crash are minimal but my kit gives me peace of mind. It’s better to have and not need.  In the bag goes my water container, always a stainless steel water bottle.  I like those made by Guyot Designs because of their wide mouths. I always make sure to get two bottles of water once I’ve boarded to fill my bottle up with, then it goes right back in the bag.  With it I can of course carry water, but I can also boil water in an emergency. 

I carry cover, usually a military poncho and an emergency space blanket. I’ve always wanted to spring for a nice lightweight tarp but the poncho serves dual purposes by being wearable so I’m okay with it. Tarps can be pricey, so save money where you can.  I keep a ferro rod as well.  It’s just a small keychain version, comes with it’s own striker it only cost a couple bucks so I’ve never been concerned with it getting taken, it never has, it’s on my keys, it’s harmless. In addition to this I carry a large tightly wrapped bundle of cordage.  The choice is yours really, paracord or bank line whatever suits you.  I also exercise redundancy in this aspect of my kit. My Luminox watch has a paracord strap I made for it.  In addition to those life support systems I keep a small first aid kit.  In it are bandages, Tylenol,  Benadryl, gauze, antibacterial creams, cleaning swabs, eye drops, and a signal mirror.  In the name of redundancy I also carry an additional watertight pouch within which I add communications equipment and backup batteries for my electronics.  In it goes my cell phone, GPS device, solar charger with compatible cords, batteries, passport and extra cash.  In addition are added odds and ends like a small pack of Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, Now in order to keep all of this uniform and not a bouncing, jabbing mess when I sling it I usually have everything wrapped up in a warm sweater or fleece but this fluctuates depending on the individual. A blanket would work too. 

In regards to on plane defense I’ve recently seen a rise in “tactical” pens coming into the market.  Seems like enough Kubotans were confiscated at security that people are now trying to slip them by in the form of pens.  I’m sure people have flown with them but frankly I’m not shelling out $15-$50 bucks for something to get taken away.  In my opinion carry a normal sturdy pen or to be honest I think you’re just as good with a tightly rolled up magazine but hey, I don’t like to stand out. I would encourage others to stay low profile as well. So no tactical bags for me, no tactical pens, just common sense and a little redundancy.

Laws in different countries are always going to surprise you.  I once spent a summer in London with a pocket knife in my pocket everyday before I found out it was illegal.  Took me totally by surprise, to most of us it’s such a harmless tool we always carry for a variety of needs but it just goes to show you, you’ve got to plan ahead.  That being said, I never travel anywhere without a blade of some sort.  And not once has a blade been removed from my checked luggage, even big fixed blades. So you’ll miss your blades while you’re in flight but thankfully you’ll usually be reunited once you land.

This brings me into check baggage choices.  I’ve always opted for fast, man portable systems.  I don’t go for the big wheeling suitcases I don’t want to have to drag one of those in a crowded press.  So find yourself a sturdy hiking pack.  The realm of survival preparation leaves people the opportunity to be frugal in many places but your pack should never be one of them.  I sport a medium sized Gregory pack.  It has an amazingly flexible support system with a great amount of storage and extra pockets. Oh I love pockets! My other bag is a military surplus duffel bag.  The Gregory being faster and lighter is packed with all my essentials that couldn’t fly with me.  Clothing that suits a variety of weather conditions, MSR cook kit filled with fire making supplies i.e. large ferro rod and wet fire tinder, oatmeal packs and cotton bandanas, more cordage, night vision device, my knives, multi-tool, boonie cap, SAS Survival Handbook, extra pair of boots, and a bag of beef jerky.  And no, shockingly I’ve never been stopped or accused of espionage. All regular clothing goes into the big army duffel, it can be ditched in a pinch but it can also be carried with ease. 

What can be purchased locally:  My next point is what can you acquire in country?  Well that depends on where you are some places have more than others, some places all you’ll find are cheap knock off versions of name brand gear.  The fact is you’re only limited by your resourcefulness and ability to discern quality from junk.  I made some great scores while I was in Asia enjoying the excellent exchange rate.  I added a wonderfully compact mummy sleep system, a couple waterproof everyday carry bags,  some surprisingly quality knives, great rubberized binoculars, powerful flashlights with strobing features, and every time I traveled to a new country I made sure to purchase and prepay for a SIM card to pop into my international network cell phone to enhance my range of communication should the cell networks still be functioning.  Added with these were a healthy supply of international phone cards.  On a side note to this I’ve tried a variety of methods of carrying valuable documents and hidden cash with me while backpacking and traveling.  Belly bands are popular, as are ankle straps but I always felt like they were too well known and frankly uncomfortable.  I came across 5.11 Tactical's holster shirt while Internet window shopping and it has by far been the best product for the job.  A sweat wicking t-shirt with pockets under either arm.  Within these pockets I would conceal extra cash, either my passport or a copy of it, or whatever I deemed important at the time.  Sometimes it’s just a safe place to keep something you don’t want to risking losing. Keep in mind that in many places genuine gear will be marked up in price due to the shipping costs from the U.S. or Europe.  A bargain conscious prepper would be wise to shop around and keep in mind it might be easier to buy online and have your family ship things over to you.

Getting compatriots involved: The Swine Flu outbreak generated an interesting reaction amongst the expats I was working with.  There was mild panic circulating disguised as sarcasm of course and interesting questions began to arise.  I saw it as a great opportunity to gauge my coworkers mindset concerning issues like disaster preparation and at the same time get a grasp of who I thought would make a good “OBO” group member.  Why? because traveling solo sucks, those of us versed enough in the subject know that.  I knew that If I had to get out of dodge and quick I didn’t want to do it by myself.  I didn’t think my language skills were adequate enough, and I wasn’t sure I’d have enough cash, kit, or support to do it solo.  So following the Swine Flu panic, I offered a topic up on our company web chat board:  “Zombie Outbreak! What would you do?” The way I see it people have to be approached delicately, no sense in getting yourself labeled the paranoid psycho right out of the gates.  Make it fun, innocuous, and then see who has a good head on their shoulders.  Follow it up with friendly chatting, bring the topic up at lunch or when the group is out sampling new restaurants, and eventually make it about something more realistic.  “We’re surrounded by 1 billion people that don’t speak our language and won’t take us in, they can’t even take care of themselves. What do you think?”  Let it go from there, my friends and I eventually developed a plan we were comfortable with, that wasn’t strict enough to not be adaptive to multiple scenarios.  As the veteran prepper it’s important that you remain the voice in the back of there heads urging them to make wise purchases, to keep their bug out bags prepped, and to stop digging into the emergency cash. I was much more comfortable after having found a group I could rely on. Thankfully we never had to put our plan into action, because an OBO in my mind is still a terrible crap shoot to have to endure. 

Geography: Geography needs to be considered.  The first question you should ask yourself is: Uhhh, where am I? After you’ve sorted that out start thinking about avenues of escape.  What kind of terrain will you encounter? what are the other transportation resources at your disposal? what is the social and political condition of the neighboring countries? are you likely to find assistance beyond their borders or trouble?  and lastly will airlines be in operation given the scenarios you’ve considered?  If you have the foresight to see the bubble before it pops then hop on a plane and get home but if you’ve missed your window, make sure you have a contingency plan.  I counted on the airlines being grounded and you should too.  I figured the airports would be a nightmarish press of bodies screaming in dozens of languages from all over the world. 

That being said make sure you’re documented with the U.S. Embassy.  If like in my case there is no embassy in your city then contact your consulate. That’s all I had.  It was located on the top floor of a shopping mall. I wasn’t banking on them  being able to help, but nevertheless whenever you travel/live abroad make sure the State Department knows how to contact you, you never know. 

So considering airlines will be useless, trains, boats, automobiles, bikes, and feet. Likely a combination of those are what will do it for you.  Frankly you have to know you’ve got the drive for it. It won’t be quick and it definitely won’t be easy.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing would stop me from getting home.  I wasn’t going to be stuck there, I was going to get to my family.  Know that your group members are equally ardent because you’ll be relying upon each other for support.

Multiple routes:  I like having backups.  It’s something my dad always stressed to me.  Have a plan B and if that fails, C and D ought to get it done.  Like I said if one avenue shuts down you need to know how to access the others, because what’s the alternative?  Wait the crisis out?  no luck there in my opinion.  Our initial plan was to beat feet east for the coast and board a ship. Failing that, drive, bike, or hike our way south over a relatively simple route and not too demanding terrain to the coast where we’d find yet another large shipping port where we’d be able to find passage or cross over into other countries if need be. I wanted to avoid the north and west at all costs as well as the countries to the northeast, the further north I went the colder it got and the further west the more difficult the terrain and further we’d be from the coast.  Overall sea passage seemed like the best most viable option and I’d wager you’ll come to similar conclusions.  That being said there was a great likelihood that loads of people would have the same idea.  That is of course contextual because depending on the nature of the events the greater majority of the population may feel that they can simply wait things out.  I felt like it was going to be a, cross the bridges as I come to them kind of thing.  You have to be willing to adapt. What I did make sure of, was that my group members and I had plenty of cash in multiple currencies and as many barter items as our systems would allow.

Cash/barter:  Cash is king, war is an extension of politics and politics is an extension of economics, and the accumulation and transfer of wealth is the most commonly understood international language.  It’s an undeniable fact and it is important to have plenty of spare cash on hand.  Ideally I would’ve liked to have had some precious metals with me but I’ve never had the luxury of having those.  The way I saw it,  depending on the scenario, paper currency would still be carrying a value and there were always barter goods that I was prepared to trade in exchange for transport should inflation be high enough to render my cash worthless.  This included nice watches and jewelry, valuable electronics, labor, whatever.  In hindsight I wish I’d made the jump and purchased some silver or gold coinage, those will always carry value. I would definitely encourage future travelers to keep that in mind!

Personal protection: Being abroad can make this quite difficult.  As I’ve said before, edged weapons aren’t hard to get by with.  They may not be something you can carry around when law and order is still in effect in some places but when TSHTF you’ve got them.  Firearms are basically out of the question.  We have the luxury of having relatively easy access to them here in the States.  My experience abroad is that firearms are few and far between. Unless by some bizarre twist of fate you come across one,  then you’ve hit the jackpot. The likelihood however is that you won’t.  You’ll likely have to resort to the natural instincts that allowed man to survive for thousands of years before the advent of firearms.  You’re really limited only by your creativity and resourcefulness.  This is another reason traveling in a group is essential.  Strength in numbers is a fact. A fight is a messy and chaotic occasion and no matter how many times you’ve seen Jason Bourne drop a half a dozen guys, the reality of a fight is bigger usually wins so carry a big stick, so to speak.  Check out sporting goods stores and hardware stores if they’re available, anything man portable and powerful.  Make your choices based on what you’re comfortable with, be realistic.  You want force multipliers, not anchors.  Along with this goes the survivalist mentality.  In the back of my mind is the old adage, “don’t be where the trouble is.”  This means when planning your route of escape keep in mind, evasion.  Given the circumstances, interaction with people is going to be a problem regardless of their intentions.  You could be faced with violence.  Or even harder to handle, the possibility of coming across a fellow expat that is stranded and in need of help. Actually consider for a moment that possibility how would your opinion change whether they were male or female.  My conscience wouldn’t allow me to leave somebody hopelessly screwed, but bringing them along would suddenly decrease your carefully planned resources. Everything in situations like this will have a cost. 

Interaction will however be unavoidable and you need to be prepared for the chance that someone will want what you have.  Treat the encounter like you would a bear.  Be loud and on the attack, speed and violence of action may be enough to convince the predators that you aren’t easy pickings. 

Medical supplies:  Super sizing my standard kit of level 1 first aid supplies I made it a point to include additions like Moleskin for the blisters that were likely to occur, considering our plan was for a maritime escape we needed to consider sea sickness and nausea aid for us landlubbers.  In retrospect I wasn’t pleased with the medical supplies we had access to while living there.  They were mostly herbal and traditional remedies and looking back, I think the prudent thing to encourage future preparation savvy expats to do is take the time to learn what you can about the traditional remedies at your disposal.  The most I was able to glean was a variety of teas for stomach aches, allergies, and bronchial congestion.  I was thankful for the fact that I had brought things like malarial medication, antibiotics courses, and more western medical supplies.  And while the transportation networks are still up and running have the family send you some care packages from home.  I stocked up as often as I could. 

Orienteering: Last thing to consider is how you’re going to get from A to B.  It’s easy to say I’m heading for the coast or I’m heading south to grab a sea plane to...etc  but unless you have an intimate grasp of the terrain and roads,  you’re going to need a map and if you’re going to avoid hazardous areas of population density you’ll need a means of orienteering.   Invest in a quality GPS device and compass and take the time to learn how to use them properly.  I had the benefit of a great collection of maps from the local outdoors store. Maps are something you’ll generally have to pick up locally.  Odds are your local REI won’t have terrain or road maps for the other side of the globe.  Should you find your map is written in a language you aren’t familiar with, be sure you have a quality dictionary to speed you on your way.   Remember that easily followed routes like rivers and train tracks can be great guidelines along your route but conversely they can lead to potential dangerous encounters with other people.  Never forget that you are in a foreign country. Depending on the region, you may stick out like a sore thumb.  You may appear to be a target of opportunity to some.  You’re foreignness no matter how slight it may seem to you will be obvious to locals and they may to choose to try and take advantage of you because they know your basically stranded.

Hindsight:  As they say it’s 20/20.  looking back there are still several things I wish I’d of had with me or had purchased abroad.  Number one is silver or gold coinage.  They’re small and concealable and carry a lot of buying power. While I did have cover in the form of my poncho, a tent or an integral bug net hammock system like a Hennessy Hammock would’ve been nice to have.  My reluctance was in the prices I encountered. Genuine gear cost roughly double what it cost in the States and the only other alternative was the knock-off stuff which I wasn’t going to rely on.  I would’ve liked to of had a means of procuring small game animals. Fashioning a bow takes time, a slingshot or slingbow system would’ve been a great lightweight addition to my kit and would’ve double as a defensive weapon as well.

Lastly I wish I’d of had a better grasp of radio communications equipment but this will hopefully encourage others to do so.  I’d stress again for expats to take full advantage of “care packages” from home while the shipping system is still up and running.  I’d add to always be considering your kit and how it can be improved and share those ideas with your group members. Redundancy is crucial. Make sure you cross train with group members, share ideas and information, and take advantage of local martial arts classes together, circulate back up plans and contingency plans.  I’d like to think my group was pretty squared away for most contingencies but I never allowed myself to get comfortable.  The way I see it, if you’re comfortable you aren’t doing it right anymore.  Caution ensures careful consideration and a more open mind to adaptability. 

I’ve always encouraged people to spend some time overseas.  But keep in mind that being abroad during a disaster scenario is a complex and challenging situation to potentially place yourself in. While some of the ideas I’ve discussed in this are similar to techniques and methods that can be applied within CONUS, being abroad is made all the more difficult by language barriers, overall distance of travel, lack of resources, and lack of communication with home. 

Being abroad is a wonderful, educational experience and the truth is that you can never fully appreciate what you have here until you’ve seen what the 2nd World and 3rd World live like.  And in seeing it, you’ll become all too aware of how important it is have a way home. 

We homeschool our three children and all of them have never been to a public or private school.
I would like to add to the homeschool article.  It is possible to educate younger children for minimal amounts of money, but when they get older there are things to keep in mind.  Colleges have entrance requirements.  They require high school students to have completed certain classes such as advanced math and science subjects. Two foreign language classes are also required. My oldest is planning to start dual enrollment next school year.  She just had to take the SAT at a cost of $50.  She may need to retake it depending on her scores - for applying for scholarships.  Also there is drivers education which is available now for homeschoolers at a cost of $60-to-$100, if I remember correctly.

Part of the beauty of dual enrollments is gaining both high school and college credits for the same class.  We are hoping one of those will be chemistry, saving us a lot of money in lab costs.  We did buy a used microscope this past year for her advanced biology course.  And there was also the dissection kit at around $40.
We do purchase used books.  This last year a friend let me borrow some of her books for one of my kids.  In two years when her younger child need them, I will let her borrow some of mine.
College costs are very scary these days.  Please pray for us as we have three kids, one of those seriously desires to go to veterinary school.  I know God can make a way.  He can make a way for you, too, if you desire to homeschool. Thanks, - Sisterpastor


CPT Rawles - 
I am pleased to see good advice being given about homeschooling.  I wanted to make a point to the community that I often make in person.  I am a public school teacher in one of the "best" jurisdictions in the country in terms of test scores and minority success.  Yet despite that, we are still what any reasonably educated person would consider a disaster of sloth and ignorance.

I strongly encourage all the readers of SurvivalBlog to find alternatives for their kids besides public schools.  As hard working as most of the teachers are, the place is an irretrievable cesspool of low morals, the celebration of ignorance and complacency, and generally soul-sucking.  To supplement my income (and my sanity) I "guest lecture" for a number of homeschool networks when I am not at the public school.  Without exception, the homeschooled students are more alert, inquisitive, literate, logical, and capable.  I wish this wasn't the case because I put so much effort into my public school kids but the damage has been done by the time they get to me in high school - like a malnourished child who will be stunted for life despite great nutrition as an adult.  My child will never set foot in an American public school and I routinely urge parents of my students to do the same (drawing the ire of my administration and co-workers for some reason).  

Public education being "free" is not an excuse to put your kids in there.  As I tell the more bright public school students when they complain about the pace or their classmates "Public school is free and you get what you pay for." - Jeff T.


Kathryn T.'s entry, Homeschool for Less Than $30 a Year, was quite good. I would only add that, when purchasing used curriculum or books, a "sniff test" is highly advised. Simply open the book and take a sniff; you will easily detect any musty smells or odd odors. I failed to do this one year and ended up buying textbooks owned by a smoker. They reeked every time they were opened, and we didn't study that subject that particular year until I was able to replace it. No money saved there.
Save yourself (and your lesson plans) the trouble. Sniff before you buy! - Home's Cool Mom

This hardly comes as news to SurvivalBlog readers: The new black gold: U.S. farmland. (Thanks to R.C. for the link.)

Bank of America: Show us your death certificate

Doug Casey chimes in, over at Zero Hedge: Its A Dead-Man-Walking Economy

Items from The Economatrix:

Americans Asleep At The Wheel Driving Into Debt Slavery

Bernanke Says Higher Energy Prices Constitute A Threat To The US Economy

Existing U.S. Home Sales Hold Near Two-Year High. [But for a dose of reality, read this over at Zero Hedge: New Home Sales Make It 12 Out Of 14 Economic Misses. Thanks to reader Damon S. for the latter link.]

Wall Street Mostly Slips, But Tech Keeps S&P a Four-Year Highs

US intel: water a cause for war in coming decades

   o o o

Jonathan B. recommended a very useful piece of freeware called Do Not Track +

   o o o

My literary agent mentioned this: Dystopian Fiction Spiking in Popularity.

   o o o

Pamela B. sent a link to a New York Times interactive map that has been mentioned before in SurvivalBlog: Where to Live to Avoid a Natural Disaster. As you can see, the American Redoubt region has relatively few risks.

   o o o

This dream retreat has been mentioned before in SurvivalBlog: Luxury Home Missile Base. After failing to find a buyer for the entire property, they are nowplanning to parcel it out, with each parcel including a share of the underground shelter's square footage.

"[[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.]] In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.
Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.
For thou [art] my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.
Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou [art] my strength.
Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.
I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities." - Psalm 31:1-7 (KJV)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Many children today are ill prepared to safely conduct themselves in a variety of natural settings. Watching all the parents around me twist themselves into knots dropping off and picking up their children, running them constantly to practices and clubs and using all their vacation days to be with the precious children on every field trip, it is apparent that wrapping children in steel wool is still strongly favored. The world is a harsh place and many of these children are ill prepared for a really bad situation. Older but still useful skills can encourage independence in a child and allow for a child to develop his or her response to a variety of situations where bad decisions with consequences will be faced. Horseback riding has danger associated with it and parents should act to discipline their children with regards to safety rules and safety training.

Preparing your child to react in a calm thoughtful way if they find themselves in a dangerous situation can save their or another child’s life. In my childhood, I found myself with the neighbor’s children playing on the banks of a freezing creek. The neighbor’s son went out onto the ice and being the smallest got out about 3-4 feet from the bank. He went through and was standing in water up to his chest. The current pulled him hard against the ice. When he tried to climb out the ice broke and when he tried to come back toward shore the current under the ice made him unsteady in the water. My mother had made sure I knew I should never walk on ice unless freezing temperatures had lasted many days unabated but if I did and it cracked I needed to get down and crawl or lay on my belly and slide to safety. I also knew if someone were to go through you needed to find a branch to help pull them out. He was completely soaked but we got him out. Since I was the better rider I got up on the fastest horse with him in front and cantered ten minutes back to his house. He suffered no ill effects but waiting in icy water for twenty minutes or more for his parents to arrive might not have had the same result. Would your child know what to do and have the skills to act safely and decisively?

While in a TEOTWAWKI situation, working horses will become more prolific. Being a lover and former owner of horses, I do not recommend anyone purchase a pony or horse for a child unless the parents are very clear as to the amount of work and expense it will require. Owning a horse is not needed to learn how to ride. In most communities, local stables offer riding lessons. It is also possible to trade work for riding lessons with persons who own horses as well. This work for lessons arrangement is better for many reasons than paying for lessons. Mucking stables, grooming, tack care, feeding and basic medical care provide needed lessons on handling and care of horses.

Early riding instruction can be vital. Older children and adults have difficulties learning basic riding skills due to being a larger size and height. The most common reaction of larger sized beginners I have observed is the tendency to lie down on the horse followed by fear and quitting or frustration at the lack of fast progress. A very young child can be sat on very gentle horse with an experienced handler and walked in an enclosed space at a very young age. I was sat on horses and my horse walked by lead at the age of 2. Below I summarize the basic plan of lessons I received building on my early introduction to the horse.

A. Orientation - On the ground.

Basic riding gear is needed. Proper footwear should include a sturdy covered shoe with a low heel. Clothes that are comfortable and will not ensnare you as well as a helmet should be worn. As a child, I did not want to wear a helmet but after seeing a friend of mine fall off numerous times I decided it might be prudent to wear my helmet.  Horses can be startled by running and loud sudden noises. When walking behind the horse either stay far enough away he cannot kick you or stay very close to his rump while running your hand along his body so he does not startle. Speaking normally and running your hands along the horse will help avoid spooking your animal.

  1. Introduction to the horse.
  2. For the first time, the horse should already be haltered and either in a stall or tethered. Now would be the time to bring that piece of carrot. Hold the hand flat with thumb tucked against the side of the palm and allow the horse to take the food. Stand at the side of the horse’s neck facing him on his left side. This is also the side where you will mount and dismount. Make sure he can see you. Speak gently. Scratch under his jaw or his chest as he prefers. Come forward and untie the lead rope. Lead ropes should always be knotted in a slip knot so a horse can be released with a single quick pull.

Since children may be too excited to pay a great deal of attention to the next three phases (2a, 3 & 4) some instructors choose to have a horse groomed and saddled and save the following three parts as follow-up instruction at a subsequent training session. Removal of the following three instructions is also appropriate for very young children. These techniques cannot be completed by any child who cannot reach the horse’s ears.

3. Practice standing near the horse and walking. Show the child how to be firm without shouting. Have the child hold the lead with one hand close to the horses head and the other to hold a place to keep the lead from dragging. Explain and make sure the child does not wrap the rope around their hands or wrist so that if the horse bolted they could just drop the entire rope without being snared by it. An intermediate skill to practice here would be jogging with the horse at a trot. Walk the horse in a circle bringing the horse to the area where you intend to groom. The slip knot should be demonstrated and the child should complete it at least once prior to moving to the next phase. Observe the child at all subsequent rides until the child can tie the knot without any assistance from you.

4. Grooming. The child should be taught the various implements used. A basic kit will include a curry comb, brush, hoof pick, sweat slicker (optional) and mane comb. Grooming takes place before and after a ride. The child should know that you use the curry (the sharp circular one) holding a steady and not overly hard hand moving in a counter clockwise fashion (against the hair) to loosen mud and hair under the minimum areas of the saddle, saddle blanket and girth. Horses generally like being curried so you may find that your horse likes his chest to be done and also his rump. You can also curry the legs and in a precise gentle way also get a patch of mud on the horse’s jaw. Horses are most sensitive on their belly and will shimmy their belly, pull away, bring a leg forward to kick at you or turn and bite you if particularly annoyed. Lighten your pressure in any of these cases and if this fails keep the curry to just the girth areas of the belly. The bony parts of the horse’s legs can also get unfavorable reactions so keep the curry comb to the other parts and only use sparingly to remove mud.  A child should not be afraid to apply some pressure to the curry comb since the purpose is to loosen dust, mud and hair. It should be done thoroughly. Rubbing it over an area once will not be enough to accomplish the loosening needed. The next step is to brush the curried areas with the hair brush. Brush the hair flat and remove all loose material. Horses love the hair brush and it can be used on all parts of the horse’s body excepting be careful around the eyes. 

The next stage is cleaning the hooves. For the purposes of this section, I will describe the procedure to you so that you can in turn demonstrate this to the child or beginner. I start at the horse’s left front leg. Stand with your back to the head of the horse and facing the tail. Run your hand down the horse’s leg and grab the fetlock area. Have the hoof pick in your other hand. Trained horses may automatically lift their leg but it is likely you will need to pull up bringing the hoof off of the ground. Rest the horse’s leg against your knee bring the hoof only a few inches off the ground. The hoof will be slightly in between your legs and to the side. If you are in the correct position, the horse is able to turn and bite you on your bottom. Most won’t. They are much more likely to put their foot down. Since they are strong they will probably succeed. Just lift the leg back up. When the horse sets his hoof down this is the most likely time they will step on your foot. If this happens, do not pull away but lean forward pushing your body weight against the horse. The purpose is to get the horse to shift his weight or step away. As soon as pressure is relieved pull your foot away. Depending on how much weight and how they got you this is going to hurt. Good shoes make all the difference. Now it’s time to clean out the hooves take the pick and slide it into the mud, pebbles, horse manure you find there clean it out from the sides. The sensitive part there is the frog and it is the leathery spongy part in the middle of the exposed area. Clean this area but do not jab it with the pick. Running the pick on its side here is one way to clean without worrying about hurting the horse. On either side is a cavity with a hard material bottom. The hard material may be scrapped with the pick without injury to the horse. This should be thoroughly cleaned out. Picking out material from the horseshoes is also a good idea. If there is a stone lodged in the hoof you need to work on removing it before you ride. Every leg is done in this manner. The back legs will be the ones the horse is most likely to put his leg down and must be done quickly. Most horses will take over when you release their leg putting their hoof down but some will need to be pushed down a bit to realize you are done.

The sweat slicker is used to remove sweat after a ride especially in summer and the mane comb is used to manage the mane and tail. These items should be easy to figure out but when you comb the tail stand to the side of the horse and pull it over. Do not stand behind the horse.

5. Saddling and bridling the horse. The girths should not drag and be brought over the seat. On the English saddle secure the stirrups. It is easiest to do this at the end of the last ride. On an English saddle, you pick up the metal stirrups and run it up to the seat of the saddle then you pull the leather strap through. This should secure them. Most English saddles have a saddle pad attached but with a western saddle you need to grab a blanket. Place the blanket so that its start rests slightly over the withers (the shoulder blades of the horse). Both types of saddles should be lifted and placed on the horse so that the saddle rests just on the edge of the withers. If you don’t get it placed correctly at first go ahead and lift and replace it until it is set right. Keep the English stirrups secured until you are ready to mount.  Go ahead and drop the girth. Reach under the horse and grab hold of the dangling leather. Children may need an adult to push it over so they can grasp it. The English saddle is the easiest to secure you just fasten the buckles under the flap like a belt. A girth of either type is the proper tightness when you can only insert your fingers under the leather and should rest on the smallest circumference of the belly behind the legs. If you cannot fit your fingers go ahead and loosen the girth. Horses tend to suck in air when saddled. This means that after you have secured the bridle you must recheck the girth’s tightness. In some horses, you will need to recheck just before you mount. The western girth is secured in a different manner. Take the leather and pull it up through the O-ring from the girth up to the O-ring near the seat of the saddle. Push the extra leather through the saddle O-ring and bring it out and to the side as you look at it. Wrap it horizontal in front of the leather just below the O-ring. Take it up and loop it through the O-ring again bringing it out and in a vertical direction. Now tuck this through the horizontal piece you have just created.  Pull it down. Tightening this girth will be needed and you must follow the leather re-tightening without untying the knot.

B. Mounting and Riding

Carry the bridle hung over your shoulder holding the reins up so they do not drag. To remove the halter go ahead and unbuckle the side letting it hang. Stand next to the horse’s head hold the bridle in front of the horse and pull the halter free of the horse’s ears. Horses tend to lift their head when the halter slides clear. If needed, circle the horses under the neck and behind the right ear with your arm to maintain some control. I prefer to hold the bit in my hand and lift it separate from the leather bridle bringing it to the horse’s teeth and having him accept it then quickly lift the bridle so the bit is not dropped back out of the horse’s mouth. This will keep the bit from smacking the horse’s teeth. Put the top piece over the horse’s head and secure the side buckle.

  1. How to mount properly. Bring the reins down so that they fall from the bit. Hold the reins with both hands. Emphasize the importance of holding the reins so that the thumbs are clear. Lead the horse into an enclosed space, if possible. Put the reins back up over the horse’s head and bring the stirrups down for the English saddle. Beginners can take the reins and a goodly chunk of horse mane in their left hand. Place the left foot in the stirrup and face the front of the horse. Beginners may need a lift and can have someone cup their left leg and boost them up without using the stirrup. A push from the bottom can also be used with the left foot in the stirrup. Swing the right leg wide so that it clears the horse and sit down on the horse. Encourage the child not to plop on the horse’s back. I have found that to maintain control bring the knee over and squeeze it against the saddle.  The instructor may hold the horse’s bridle while the rider still has the reins in their hands. They should hold the reins so the extra material goes over the top of the hands. Hold the reins with a little slack.

2. Orientation on the horse.

3. Now is the time to train the child how to react if a horse bolts or another horse nearby bolts. First, the child should try to halt the horse the standard way with steady pressure with both hands. If this fails the next method is to tighten and loosen the reins with alternating uneven pressure to regain control (this causes the bit to slide through the horse’s mouth) and if that fails, shorten the rein tremendously on one side and allow the horse to move in ever tightening circles until control is restored. The final method involves the emergency dismount. This generally hurts upon landing. The feet will sting and strength is needed to push the rider clear of the horse. The child does not want to end up near the horse’s legs. This is not a riskless maneuver and would most likely be used to avoid a collision. The correct way to do this during a real emergency is to drop the stirrups and reins, although the reins may be draped over the saddle horn in the western saddle or a loose tie of the rein ends could be created to avoid the reins dropping down to the horse’s legs. The hands are placed on the pommel or the withers and the left leg is swung over the back of the horse as in a dismount. This must be done with more force to propel the rider off and away from the horse. Use the hands to push off as well. When practicing this dismount with a horse that is not spooked some people keep their hands on the reins. Emphasis the rider to use caution following any incident where the rider would use these techniques as it is possible the horse will spook again at something small.

4. The proper way to ride a horse is to use your legs and thighs to grip the horse. Many new riders and even some that have been riding for a while only sit on the horse primarily using gravity to stay there. Children will struggle with this at first since their legs are not long. Growing up many of my friends never made the transition to actual riding but continued to sit on the horse. You can notice this when a child falls for seemingly no reason such as a horse pulling forward to try and grab some grass causing the child to roll or fall off. The knees of the rider should be bent and heels should be pointed down. This stance will help keep full contact with the horse between the rider’s thighs down to the calves. A stair step can be used by the rider to develop more flexibility in keeping the heels down. Stand one stair up and lower one heel over the edge of the stair keeping the ball of the foot on the stair. Press down on the heel. Both feet can be conditioned in this manner.

5. The aids. There are four natural aids used to control of the horse. They are the voice, seat, legs, and hands. Unnatural aids include the crop, whip, spurs and most importantly the bit. Beginning riders will use the legs and hands the most. Experienced riders will use the seat most. Only after experience and practice will the rider gain the confidence and expertise to have an independent seat. Riders should work toward reducing the large movements to control the horse. As is traditional now and may be imperative in a TEOTWAWKI situation, voice should be used sparingly or not at all. The bit is the most useful of the unnatural aids. After a ride and after good individual performance, I do praise and pat my horse.

6. Time to ride. The first aid used is generally a kick or tap from the heels into the sides of the horse. A young child may actually need to lift their legs a bit to make an impression to get the horse to walk and later trot. The older the rider the less force will be needed and experienced rider will generally only squeeze the horse’s side with their heel or just reposition their leg slightly. The hands should stay quiet and be low near the horse’s neck. Once the rider’s seat is more developed go ahead and have them shift forward to also signal the command to start walking. Encourage the child to be firm and keep the horse from stopping or trying to eat grass. From a walk or trot, lean forward and squeeze the horse’s side to proceed to trotting or cantering. Later, when the seat is developed it is possible to canter without trotting first. Turning is accomplished by tightening the rein on the side in which the horse should turn. Have the rider avoid pulling on the horse’s mouth. This desensitizes them. If a horse salivates, while working the bit this is fine. Apply steady pressure on the reins to halt the horse. Now is the time to keep practicing. The emergency dismount should be practiced as well as walking and trotting.  Save cantering for later lessons. If you are using an English saddle, you will need to post (lift yourself off the saddle) while trotting. I enjoy posting and find it makes riding a horse easier for longer timeframes. Posting when done correctly is all from the knees and thighs. Beginners will push off the stirrup at first but should work on strengthening themselves. Advanced riders can post in a trot with no stirrups (either removed from the saddle or crossed over so they do not bounce). These are the basic skills needed to progress to intermediate and advanced riding skills.

7. The ride is now over. Walk the horse and let him cool down. The harder he has worked the longer you should spend walking. Show the rider how to reach down and examine the horse’s temperature on his upper chest while still mounted. If he is hot there have the rider keep walking. Once the horse has cooled down have the rider dismount, pull the reins over the head and if using an English saddle run up the stirrups. Take him to the area where you will unsaddle and unbridle the horse. Have the halter ready at that location. Unsaddle and unbridle the horse. Have the rider slip the halter up and over the horse’s head. Now the rider should get a grooming kit and use the sweat slicker if needed and give the horse another curry and brush. The hooves should be examined as to whether cleaning is needed. After trail rides this may be necessary.

Happy riding.

It’s that time again.  Spring, you say?  No, it’s curriculum sale time!  Every spring, homeschooling support groups used book sales and homeschool conventions sprout like tulips.  March, April, and May are the season for planning and obtaining next year’s curricula.

If you have considered homeschooling as an educational alternative for your children or would like to stockpile educational materials for potential hard times ahead (whether or not you homeschool currently), now is the time to be looking.  Homeschooling does not need to be expensive to be effective.  In fact, it is possible to home educate well for under $30 per year, per child.

First, it is important to understand the basics of homeschooling and homeschooling philosophies.  To familiarize yourself with how to approach home education, you can get books from the library, such as The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise or Homeschooling Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp, Ph.D.

You may also want to consider attending a homeschooling convention, which often yields the best value for your time and money.  The most popular ones are listed on the Great Homeschool Conventions web site.  One of the largest is the Cincinnati (Ohio) Homeschool Convention which is April 19th – 21st this year.  It is centrally located and draws hundreds of vendors, speakers, and participants.

However, you can also attend smaller ones near your home.  Ask at the public library or Google “homeschool conventions” and your state.  Homeschool conventions typically cost $10 - $60 in admission, but you can attend for free if you volunteer.  Contact the organizers well in advance.  Volunteers are usually asked to check in participants or do other relatively simple tasks for several hours in exchange for free admission to the conference.  You can also apply for a scholarship from the convention hosts.  Some organizers will extend free admission and give curricula vouchers to low-income participants.  An unemployed friend received $100 in curricula vouchers at a convention last weekend because she applied for assistance.

Once you familiarize yourself with homeschooling and the various educational approaches (eclectic, classical, Charlotte Mason, etc.), you will want to begin accumulating curricula.  If money is tight or you are stockpiling for potential future use, focus on the 3Rs—reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Start with math, as that is usually the easiest subject to purchase.
There are tons of math programs available, but one of the most common, complete, and serviceable is Saxon Math.  You can pick up a used Saxon Math textbook for as little as 99 cents on eBay.  The book does not need to be a recent edition, as mathematics does not change that often, but should be in decent condition with little to no writing inside.  If you are not adept at math yourself, you will also need to purchase an answer key, which will cost about $5 used.  Saxon Math has an unusual numbering system.  For instance, Saxon 6/5 means that it is for an “advanced fifth grader or an average sixth grader.”  It has been my observation that you should go with the second number.  The first 30 lessons are typically review from the previous year, and learning is incremental, so it should not be too hard for even an average fifth grader.  Thus, Saxon 6/5 is for fifth graders.
For older students, you may want to consider books from the Key To series (Key To Decimals, Key to Fractions, Key to Algebra, Key to Geometry, etc.).  These books are excellent, inexpensive ($3 each), and self-teaching.

Next, contemplate writing.  I recommend buying some lined notebooks ($1 each or less during the back to school sales) and a box of pencils ($2).  Use the notebooks to have your child write journals, stories, letters, and essay assignments.  Guide them through proper punctuation, capitalization, and grammar, as well as good writing practices (e.g., outlining and the five-paragraph essay).  If you need help with these skills, pick up a used copy of Writer’s Inc. or a similar edition from this company ($5).  The materials from Andrew Pudewa's Excellence in Writing are wonderful, but much more costly.  If your children are elementary-school aged, you may want a copy of the appropriate grade level of Handwriting without Tears (about $5) as well.

For additional grammar help, consider Easy Grammar or Daily Grams.  These are expensive new (about $25), but can be picked up cheaply or free (if some pages are missing) at homeschool used book sales.  Even if the book has many pages ripped out, they are still useful because Daily Grams gives 180 days worth of grammar lessons.  Each day the lesson covers capitalization, punctuation, parts of speech, spelling, sentence combining, and other skills.  Many families begin a book and use only the first 15 or 20 days because they get too busy or use other resources, leaving the remaining pages blank.  Don’t overlook these, as you can find them inexpensively.  I find there is little difference between a fifth grade Daily Grams book and an eighth grade book.  The concepts are the same, just repeated in different ways.

For spelling, you can print out grade-appropriate spelling lists for free from the Internet (plan ahead for a grid-down situation).   Or, you can purchase a spelling program.  Spelling Power is an all-inclusive spelling program that has spelling lists and games for K-12  grades in one book.  It is relatively expensive, even used ($20-50), but you would not need to buy any other spelling programs which makes it good for stockpiling.  If spelling is difficult for your child, I recommend All About Spelling and Phonetic Zoo, but these programs are also more costly. is great for reviewing spelling words for free if you still have Internet access.

To teach an elementary child to read, consider using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Englemann (about $10 used), Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen (about $7 used), and Pathway Readers ($2 used).  If the public library is available, select some age-appropriate books and have your student begin reading aloud to you every day.  Our favorites included the Frog and Toad books and others by Arnold Lobel.  Another favorite resource for learning to read and write is Explode the Code.  These simple black-and-white line drawn workbooks cost about $5 new, but can often be found cheaply at homeschool used book sales.

In my ten years of home educating, I have taught two children to read.  While it may seem as though teaching the younger grades is easier than teaching the older ones, the opposite is actually true.  Once a child can read, he can teach himself.  Reading is the foundation for every academic skill.  Being able to read well is crucial.  It is important children have reading material that is skill appropriate and interesting to them.  Be patient.  With daily instruction, it will take between two and seven years for a child to learn to read fluently (120 words per minute).
With any remaining funds, stockpile a home library of age-appropriate picture and chapter books.  This is wise, even if you currently have a wonderful public library nearby.  To find good books, look for reading lists, such as the one available from Sonlight Curriculum or Ambleside Online.  Books that have received a Newberry Award or Honor are usually good bets.  Then, troll through public library used book sales with a list.  Used books there typically cost 50 cents to $2 each.  I also recommend joining where you can trade your old books for credits to “purchase” new ones.
Another curriculum to consider, either for reading suggestions or for outright purchase, is The Robinson Curriculum.  While it costs almost $200 (and does not include math books), it covers 12 years worth of educational materials on CD-ROM, making it less than $16 per year.

Include on your reading lists history books, such as A History of US by Joy Hakim, and science books, such as Abeka, Apologia, Usborne, or the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series for younger kids.  You may want to obtain books about economics and government, too, such as Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? and Whatever Happened to Justice? by Richard Maybury. 
If you have high schoolers or will soon, you might want to purchase literature anthologies, such as The Norton Anthology of American Literature, to gain the maximum coverage for your dollar.  If your children read an entire anthology and discussed and wrote about the contents, they would have a more thorough literature education than 80 percent of the United States.  I just got an anthology on PaperbackSwap for $3.79. (I purchased a book credit.)

Home education can be much richer with the addition of art, music, foreign language, and other extras, but the most important subjects to cover are the 3Rs, and those can be addressed for $30 per year, per child.  A child who has received a solid foundation in the 3Rs can learn any other subject if necessary.  When you are planning ahead, these are the most logical materials to stockpile.  Whether you homeschool now or think you may choose to or be forced to in the future, it is prudent to stockpile books—atlases, encyclopedia sets, novels, nonfiction books, classics, plays, dictionaries, thesauruses, textbooks, workbooks, blank notebooks, and other tomes.  You never know when you may need to educate or entertain your children for a week, a month, or more with the resources in your home.  It’s best to be prepared.

James Wesley:
The author of the article “A prepper’s guide to Beginning Ethanol fuel distillation” is using the wrong recipe for his mash.  Corn will not ferment unless it is “malted” either by sprouting the grain and then drying and crushing it, or by treating crushed corn with the enzyme diastase.  The old, illegal, moonshiners did this by sprouting and then drying whole, fresh corn.  The enzyme treatment is usually done by incubating the crushed corn with a malted barley high in diastase content, such as malted six-row barley.

When your author ferments his corn/sugar mix the only thing he is fermenting is the sugar.  The corn is wasted.
This is because the yeast cannot break down and metabolize starch but rather only simple sugars.  The crushed corn is high in starch but has very little sugar.
Even more important:  Do not drink this distillate!  Not only is this illegal, it is also dangerous.  Production of safe to drink ethanol requires fractional distillation because the first, more volatile, components coming off the still are highly toxic.  Among these is methanol (wood alcohol) but butanol and other nasty byproducts are also present.  There are books available that tell how to do this safely but it is still illegal in the USA to produce alcohol for consumption without a license.   Not recommended. - Mark R.

D.P. 's article "Fire -Your Partner in Survival was very good! 
I would like to add that firewood storage life depends greatly on the type of wood.  Oak and other similar types can be stored for well over 20 years with no problems. (Especially if split and covered with a quality tarp or stored in a woodshed with a good roof.) But in contrast, un-split white birch will start to rot in a single year. Poplar and some other species also degrade quickly.
D.P. is right on about the type of heater to use.  When I built my house back in the very early 1970's, I just had to have a conventional Heatilator type fireplace for the open fire romance.  I should have listened to the old timers back then who told me to just put in a stone hearth and plain wood stove!  In the end, I wound up closing the fireplace damper, filling the flue with fiberglass insulation and putting a steel cap on it!   Now I'm just using the wood stove in the basement [with a separate chimney] to easily heat the entire house with lots less wood than the fireplace consumed.
Gasoline to run chainsaws can be kept for a very long time with the addition of PRI-G stabilizer. The same company also makes a stabilizer for diesel, called PRI-D.
(I recently started a gas engine that has been sitting for over 12 years with the original gas in the tank. Started right up and ran fine.  (I did add a little extra PRI G every few years during it's storage time)
I have no financial interest in PRI G or PRI D. I'm just a very satisfied user.

A very useful article over at the Radio Free Redoubt blog: How to Receive Ham Radio Digital Communications. (Text messaging, via HF radio.)

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Roger E. mentioned ShowMy Street. Roger's comment: "Very scary to see your house from the air and the street just by typing in the address!"

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More charming news: ICANN Confirms That It's Going To Make It Easier For Governments To Seize Domains Around The Globe

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Hotdogging like this is not career enhancing.

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F.G. sent this: Is Eight Hours of Electricity a Day in Your Future?

"In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it." - Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Eons ago when people lived in caves, one of their most important tools was fire.  Its ability to keep them warm, cook food, provide light, and scare away predators was of the utmost importance.  I’m not going to go so far as to say that a societal upheaval will mean returning to a stone age existence, but when the systems that keep our everyday life humming along go down, fire will once again have a huge impact on our ability to survive.

This fact was brought home to my wife and me two winters ago, when a February blizzard knocked out the power to several counties.  It was early evening - the lights flickered a few times, and then the house was plunged into darkness.  Everything became eerily quiet, save for the wind howling outside and snow pelting against the window.

Then there was another sound – the reassuring popping of a log in our big airtight Franklin stove which continued to throw off its heat, oblivious to the fact that the juice was off.  For the next thirty-six hours we used it to keep us warm, melt snow to flush toilets, and even did a some cooking over its coals.  While other folks along our country road bundled up in sleeping bags and shivered until the outage ended, the disruption to our lives wasn’t nearly as great as it could have been.

If you live in a northern climate, staying warm is important for nearly half of the year.  Did I say “important”?  Make that “vital” because without a way to keep the temperature in your home or bug-out place at a life-sustaining level, you will die of exposure!  Your gas or oil furnace will be fine… as long as your fuel supply lasts or the electricity doesn’t fail.  These are finite resources, however, and during a long-term disruption of goods and services, your pilot light will go out at some point (probably just when a January blizzard comes howling in). 

The only logical solution is to turn to wood heat, or more precisely, a wood-burning airtight stove (fireplaces are fine for ambiance, but horribly inefficient for warming you since most of the heat goes up the chimney).  The next question, then, is where will your wood come from, and what skills and tools do you need to convert it to usable fuel for your stove? 

Log Logistics

The countryside is full of burnable litter.  Next time you’re out and about, take a look around.  Fallen branches and even a downed tree or two are common sights in any woodlot or park, or along rural roads.  Most of it, though, is too small to keep a fire going with the BTU output that’s needed to warm your home.  Real “firewood” consists of pieces of thick branches or trunks that have been cut and split to a size of about 16” long and roughly 5” or 6” in diameter.  Anything smaller will require re-stoking the stove every few hours, while bigger pieces may smolder unless the fire is wastefully large.

At present, I get most of my firewood supply from a local landowner, who doesn’t like downed trees lying around and sees it as a favor when I clean up the woods for him.   After a big summer storm, city folks without saws will gladly offer you a tree that’s toppled in their yard.  Likewise, a downed tree across a rural road usually belongs to the first one who’s there to cut it up.   During bad times it would likely be possible to barter for timber with a landowner who doesn’t have the tools or know-how to utilize it himself -probably working together and then sharing it.  State or federally-owned hunting land and wildlife areas also have downed timber, which can often be claimed by anyone with the gumption to go get it.

If we ever arrive at a point where vehicles and trailers are no longer available, all of your wood will have to be hauled by hand.  That means that laying in a good supply now, when you can still move it efficiently, would be a good idea.  Having a sizable woodpile to begin with puts a buffer between you and calamity.  Get your wood from the more distant locations while you can still truck it, and leave the easier pickings for when you may have to move it manually.  

Wheel barrows are, in my opinion, a poor way to transport anything heavy for any distance due to their chronic balance problems.  With their single, small, pneumatic tire, they are not made to move loads over uneven ground.  Take one into the woods and roll over a few blackberry brambles, and the tire will inevitably puncture and go flat.  A better alternative is one of those “game haulers” with large, hard rubber wheels.  They’re made for going over rough terrain easily, and can handle a maximum load with a minimum amount of effort (they can also haul around a lot of other heavy stuff that might need moving).

Burning Questions

Literally any wood will burn.  One year we survived two months of a Wisconsin winter heating with willow – a wood near the bottom of the BTU list.  Likewise, this past winter we used a fair amount of box elder – another low grade tree.  Woods like this certainly will throw out enough heat to keep you warm, but they burn fast, requiring a larger supply.

The “primo” varieties include oak, hard maple, locust, hickory and apple.  Next down the line but still good, are ash, birch, cherry, and hackberry.  Unless there is nothing else available, however, avoid any of the evergreen species, since their resin content tends to start chimney fires, spit sparks, and can flash back when you open the stove door.

Firewood should season for at least six months after being cut green (a year is better) although a few varieties, like ash and locust, will burn without much drying.


How much is enough?

We’ve just been through a mild winter here. Spring has arrived and, after checking the wood shed, I see that we’ve gone through about six cords of mixed hardwood (a stove cord is a stack four feet high, eight feet long, and 16” deep).  A bad winter, like last year’s, would probably have required another cord.

A household could get by on a lot less, though.  For one thing, we have a large stove and heat the entire place with it.  The fire is usually lit in November and doesn’t go out until late March.  A smaller stove heating a smaller area would take far less fuel.  And if our wood supply had been limited, instead of basking in 70 degree temperatures all winter, we could have stretched the supply by burning less – in an extreme case, just enough to keep the place at 50 degrees.  This would have been uncomfortable, but it would have enabled us to survive.

Cutting Remarks

If you envision doing your cutting with a chain saw after society falls apart, picture those last precious (and irreplaceable) drops of gas disappearing into its tank.  Even if you’ve stocked a large supply of fuel and bar oil, gas has a shelf life, and how many chains do you have?  The other problem with a chain saw (besides the fact that, being a machine, it will need unobtainable replacement parts at some point) is that it makes noise.  This broadcasts a message to anyone within a mile that someone’s cutting a pile of firewood that could be pilfered from the producer as soon as he’s finished the work.

Long-term survival requires stepping back into the 19th century and taking up the hand saw.  Do you have one capable of cutting through a 30 inch tree trunk?  Probably not, but realizing the need for producing burnable chunks suitable for splitting that will hold a fire all night should inspire you to get one.

A crosscut saw capable of handling tree trunk needs to be either a one or two-man model 48” - 56“ long.  If you’ve got a partner, go with a two-man type.  I’ve got one that can be set up either way, with add-on handle on one end that converts it from a solo saw to a duo.

There are two basic tooth types – “Lance” and “Tuttle”.  The former is designed more for softwoods, so go with the latter.  One company that carries a good assortment of saws in various designs for serious cutting is the Traditional Woodworker.

Also consider buying a second smaller, less cumbersome saw with a standard tooth arrangement for doing the medium cutting jobs.  This one would probably have a 24” - 30” blade with 4 ½ to 6 teeth per inch.  Such a saw could also be used in a pinch for the big stuff.  For cutting up smaller branches for kindling or your cooker (which will be discussed shortly) bow saws work fine.  They’re cheap, so get a couple of different sizes and a number of spare blades.


Staying Sharp

But having an assortment of saws isn’t going to keep you cutting indefinitely.  No matter how good the steel is, that blade is eventually going to get dull.  A good stock of files will be important for keeping your saws working efficiently.

Do you know how to sharpen a saw?  Are you familiar with things like “Fleam”, “Rakers” and “Jointing”?  Do you have a tooth setter in your tool box?  Becoming proficient at sharpening your cutting tools is a skill you can’t overlook (the afore-mentioned saw dealer also sells an excellent book by Harold Payson on setting and sharpening hand saws).  And besides keeping your own tools chipping away efficiently, being the local “saw sharpener” can make you a vital asset to a small community of survivors.

Glad you Axed that

Axes can play a role in firewood production, too.  They’re not as efficient as a saw, but a century ago lumberjacks used them to take down mature trees.  Felling a tree with an axe, however, requires a lot of skill as well as effort, something you will soon discover when tackling anything bigger than a mid-sized aspen.  I’ve found that the best use for an axe is limbing a downed tree.  Just remember to stand on the opposite side of the trunk, and chop off the limb from the root end of the trunk towards the top. 

Like saws, axes come in several styles and sizes.  The “limbing” axe, with a 25 inch handle is also good for cutting up small limbs on a chopping block, while a full-sized axe can be used for splitting smaller pieces with a straight grain or, if you have to, felling a tree.

One more thought on axes:  Like any edged tool, keep it sharp!  The old saying, “a dull knife is a dangerous knife” holds true for axes as well (and you can do a lot more damage to yourself with one).

Wedge Issues

To round out your wood processing equipment you should have a good splitting maul, two or three wedges and a sledge hammer.  If you’re lucky enough to get into some straight-grained ash or oak, the maul alone will do the job, but often you’ll need the encouragement of a wedge or two to get many pieces to split to the size you desire.

Not all wedges are the same.  Get one that has a narrow entry edge for efficiently starting a split, and a wider one to open it up when you bury the first wedge (which often happens).  I like the model made by True Temper which has two built-in “wings” near the top for my second wedge.  The wings open the crack far enough to allow the head of a sledge hammer in, so you can continue to pound on the wedge until the split is complete.

A couple of final thoughts on cutting firewood:  If you don’t know what you’re doing, standing timber can kill you in a heartbeat.  Any written description here of exactly how to take down a tree would not be adequate, so go out and find someone who works in the woods, and ask if you can tag along sometime to learn how it’s done.  Some of the important things they’re likely to point out are:

  • The “hinge” (the uncut area between the notch and the felling cut) controls the direction which the tree will fall.  If you cut through it, the tree can go anywhere (including in you lap).
  • More branch weight on one side will influence a tree to fall in that direction.
  • A dead branch near the top that comes loose due to vibrations while cutting can be lethal (that’s why they’re called “widow-makers”).
  • Be aware of wind direction.  This can influence a tree’s fall – especially if it’s leafed out.


What’s Cookin’?

Fire is important for more than just keeping your core temperature above 98.6 degrees. In the event of a prolonged TEOTWAWKI catastrophe, everyone will need some way to cook food and boil water.  White or bottled gas, however, is not the answer, since eventually your supply will run out.  At that point you’ll once again have to turn to wood.

A traditional campfire will work, but is hugely wasteful of your hard-earned fuel resources.  The best option is to use something that will give you a big boost in efficiency over an open fire, and that “something” would be a well-designed wood-fired cook stove.

Some Preppers’ stocks of provisions include large amounts of freeze-dried food which doesn’t need to be “cooked” per se, but does require a cup or two of boiling water.  The most effective way to do this is with what is known as a “Kelly Kettle” (sometimes called  a “volcano kettle”). 

The Kelly Kettle is an odd-looking aluminum or stainless steel stove that resembles a cross between a miniature milk can and a bowling pin.  It has a small fire chamber in the base which draws air from below, and the heat rises through a long chimney.  Surrounding this chimney is a hollow jacket that holds water.  The heat coming up it contacts a far greater surface area of the water than it would if it were merely concentrated on the bottom of a pan, and brings it to a boil in only a fraction of the time.

Another thing that makes the Kelly Kettle a great survival tool is the fact that it can be fueled with just about anything that burns.  Collect the wood chips from where you’ve been cutting and splitting your stove wood, break up small, fallen branches or twigs, or use pine cones or even bark – it’s all the same to the Kelly Kettle.  The bottom draft arrangement (the same principle as a Dakota fire) will make just about anything you put in it burn hot and fast.

For your actual cooking needs or for heating larger amounts of water, a special stove based on the Kelly Kettle will work far better than an open fire.  The only problem is that as far as I know, there isn’t such a stove on the market.  This means you’ll have to make your own.

 There’s a plan on a survival blog for a pipe stove with a “rocket elbow”.  I followed the basic design and tweaked it just a bit.  My version consists of an eleven inch length of  6” stove pipe nested inside a twelve inch piece of  8” stove pipe.  A vent (1 ½” diameter piece of exhaust pipe) goes from the bottom of the inner pipe and sticks out an inch past the outer one.  This tube serves both as an air intake and a chute to add fuel.

The interior pipe is closed off at the bottom using a removable standard 6” stovepipe cap and then cement is poured in the space between the two pipes.  This acts as insulation as well as giving the stove more weight, and hence, more stability.  Several one inch deep scallops are cut into the top rim of the outer pipe to allow smoke to escape, and what’s left supports the utensil you’re cooking with.  Like the Kelly Kettle, the fact that it draws air from the bottom and has a long chimney, will make the fire burn with a hot, focused flame.  A stove such as this also allows one to utilize easily collected scrap wood as fuel.

Following the basic design concept, it might be possible to build larger stoves for bigger cooking tasks.  The only drawback I’ve noticed with mine is that because it uses small pieces of wood that burn quickly, it needs to be fed often and hence, can’t be left unattended for long.

A bonus to cooking with wood is that the ashes the fire produces can be used as soap to clean up with.  Since they contain lye, merely mixing them into a paste with clean water and using it as a scouring compound will allow you to keep utensils clean long after your supply of soap has run out.

Light my Fire
The best “starter” wood to get a fire going - whether it’s you cooker of wood furnace - is dry cedar.  If you can find an old telephone pole lying around somewhere, saw it into short lengths and then split each round into thin pieces. Unless you hit a knot, the straight grain of cedar splits easily into extremely thin sticks which take a flame in seconds.  I call this stuff “fire candy”.  It catches quickly and burns intensely for starting a fire, as well as rejuvenating one that is nearly out.  If you can’t find cedar, something like well-dried aspen or willow is also a good starter.

Don’t forget that before you can burn anything, you’ll have to have a way of starting your fire.  A large stockpile of traditional matches, metal matches and butane lighters take up little space and have no maximum shelf life.  If you run out, though, you’d better be good with a fire bow or a magnifying glass.

And for each fire you light, you’ll need some tinder to get it going.  A supply of newspapers and dryer lint will work, but know that when it’s gone you’ll be reduced to hunting for old mouse nests.

If and when arrives “keeping the home fires burning” will be right up there with food and water.  Prepare for it now!

Sometime in the not so distant future our lives will be turned upside down by yet another natural or manmade emergency. Start now by doing your research and figure out which type of emergency is most likely to affect your life. Then get ready! Once the stores close their doors and the gas stations are no longer pumping gas, it’s too late! Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and remember that the survival basics are similar even if the emergency or climatic conditions are different.

I was born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands and decided to come back after 12 years of schooling, working and military service on the USA mainland to raise my family on a relatively small island in the Pacific Ocean. Why would I do such a thing? Hint: It was 72 degrees below zero wind chill factor for two weeks during my last of seven winters in Montana! Some of the advantages of island living include the year round growing season, plenty of wild game, fruit trees and let’s not forget to mention the milder warmer climate. The downside of living on an island is that you’re really on your own when the commercial ships and planes stop coming over, which could be a blessing during a pathogen type emergency, but that’s another chapter.

Throughout the years of living here, I’ve noticed the way residents on a small tropical island do things are usually quite different from how folks would do things in more populated areas. You have to adapt a different attitude for living and dealing with the same people that inhibit that island since you’re going to interact with those neighbors more often. Similar rules and considerations would probably apply to behavior in a combined family retreat during a TEOTWAWKI or SHTF situation.

Another major consideration is that the resources on an island are very limited and very dependant on a robust commercial system. Most of our consumer goods (95%) are shipped here from the Mainland USA and people here are starting to realize that if that “commercial system” went down even for 3 days that the islands would quickly run short of food and other essential goods. A concerted effort is being made by a growing number of residents to think sustainable by planting gardens and exploring ways to be more self-sufficient as the island inhabitants were before us. We still have a long way to go but I’ve always felt that the more citizens that are prepared for emergencies the better.

Since you probably don’t own a retreat to bug out to and your emergency supplies are minimal, your emergency plans may include your home or apartment serving as your shelter in place location during a short-term emergency. Now let’s say the emergency lasts longer than expected and your power and water supply have stopped; you better have a plan B and C for moving out. Now comes the hard part about spending your hard earned money on gear that you may not use very much but will certainly be a game changer in any emergency. Consider the money you spend on essential gear as an investment and purchase the best equipment you can afford since replacement parts may be next to impossible to get once the stores close their doors and remember, your equipment doesn’t have to be fancy just functional and rugged.

Basics concerning food start by storing as much food as you can afford and have room for and don’t forget to rotate your food supply since they all have expiration dates. One-week supply of food and water should be the minimum amount to have on hand at any time. Energy bars and vitamin supplements should also be stored along with your food supply. If you live in a tropical area harvesting food from the ocean, rivers and streams will involve diving, spearing, netting or fishing and having the correct equipment is vital. Local residents have been living off the bounty from the ocean for centuries and knowing how to be such a hunter-gatherer will be life saving information.

Freeze-dried or MREs:
Choose these types of prepared foods if your plans include moving to a different location since these foods are lightweight making them easier to carry on your back and are worth their high price when you consider how heavy can goods are.   Supplement your diet with whatever you can find along the way if on the move.

Note: Basic ocean food gathering tools including a spin casting fishing rod, swim fins, facemask, spear, underwater flashlight and dive knife should be part of your gear if you live or plan to move to a tropical environment. Optional gear: wet suit, booties, SUP surfboard or small canoes to reach deeper water and assorted nets. Know your limits! Once in the water you’ll need to constantly watch out for big waves, sharp coral and strong rip currents.

Drinking Water:
Clean drinking water is essential to life for us humans and we need to drink at least 2 liters a day to function and more water is required if the climate is hot or your physical activity high. Even if there are clear flowing streams or rivers in your area, precautions should be taken to avoid drinking the water before treating. Pre-filter your unclean water with a cloth or handkerchief and then bring to a boil before drinking if no other purification methods are available. Consider a solar distiller before drinking salty and contaminated water. Drink water before you’re thirsty to avoid dehydration and heat stoke and add Gatorade type powder to your drinking water to keep your electrolytes balanced when under a heavy load.

Source and filters:

There are so many portable water filters and purification kits around not to have several on hand. Another method of purification is desalination which renders salty and contaminated water safe through evaporation and can be done with readily available materials such as copper tubing and cooking pots with tight lids. Always purify your water when in doubt since getting diarrhea from drinking contaminated water will take the fight right out of you and lessen your chances of survival. Know where your drinking water comes from and always stay alert for other sources of water. Don’t compromise your water sources by bathing or dumping wastes upstream. Rule: Take care of the natural resources and it will take care of you.
Prepare yourself to cook on open fires, small camping stoves or underground and think out of the box when preparing your meals. Consider solar ovens that are easy to build with readily available materials. You’ll be surprised at what looks edible when you’re really hungry! Watch your fires carefully since the Fire Department will probably be very busy during a major event and not be able to respond to every call, so include a fire extinguisher with your gear.

Methods and materials:

Have at least three different methods to start a fire on you at all times. Carry lighters and magnesium fire starters, which will provide you with many fires then learn the basics for fire making and practice them. Remember that burning green stuff means you’ll be making plenty of smoke, which may attract unwanted guests.

Note: Cooking meat, fish and starches underground is a method locals have been using for centuries. After the pit is dug large enough to fit whatever you’re cooking, add enough river rocks (make sure rocks are not wet before putting them into the fire) to cover the bottom and a few extra for the top, which have been heated over the fire until red hot. Food that has been covered with leaves (Hawaiians use ti leaves) can be added to the pit along with other items which are then covered with the extra rocks, banana leaves, dirt and allowed to cook for up to 8 hours. One of the advantages with this cooking method is that once the food is in the ground there’s not much else you have to do until its time to dig everything up and eat! Smoking feral pig meat in homemade smokers and dehydrating fish in a simple screened box under the sun are some of the other ways to preserve food here in the islands.

Shelter in place or move on:
Deciding where and how to shelter could change daily with your situation. Having sufficient supplies at home is the right thing to do, but there may come a time when moving to a safer location is your only option. In that case, go light, fast and stealthy. Make sure you have all the basics together before changing locations and think water, food, shelter and security. Add items like .22 ammo, lighters and small knives that might have barter value along the way and don’t forget to choose the correct sleeping bag for use in colder climates. Plastic tarps and garbage bags have multiple uses as raincoats, rain catchers and shelters.

Moving on:

Transportation will be challenging as everyone tries to move away from the danger. Vehicles are great as long as they have fuel and the roads are passable so keep enough fuel, tools and supplies in your vehicle at all times in case you have to move out. Traveling on foot will be a true test of your physical fitness, planning, know how and survival instincts. Make use of whatever resources you find along the way and stay out of sight whenever possible.

Medical training:
Knowing how to treat bleeding, breathing and shock emergencies will make you and your survival skills more valuable. Stay up on your training since these are perishable skills and learn the rules of triage because when resources are limited, the patients with the best chance of making it will become your main priority. No one said this was going to be easy!
Basic first aid:
Sign up with the American Red Cross, CERT (Community Emergency Response
Team) groups or local community colleges for basic first aid, CPR training or EMT
classes and keep a good first aid manual available for easy reference.

Equipment and Treatment:

First aid kits are an important part of your supplies and should include a pair of EMT scissors, which are great for exposing wounds and other cutting chores (used to call them penny cutters since they could cut a penny in half). Clean and dress your wounds immediately to avoid infection, since a severe infection could mean death without the proper antibiotics or hospitalization. Preventive medicine is the best medicine.

Note: Assemble your medical kits in different sizes so that they can be used at home, in your vehicle or out in the field. Include Quik Clot, trauma dressings and emergency blankets for trauma wounds. Having the proper training and equipment to handle basic medical emergencies will certainly be a lifesaver if a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation occurs. Teaming up with individuals who have emergency or clinical medical experience is also highly recommended.

Protecting yourself and supplies from bullies and others not so well prepared could be an issue during any extended emergency, since the Police may not be able to respond to your urgent calls. You can share and starve or protect your essential supplies. Remember, you are not responsible for everyone’s welfare and you won’t be able to help anyone (including yourself) if you become a victim! Be ready to make some tough decisions and THINK SAFETY FIRST.

Weapons of choice:

Figure out what caliber weapons are right for you. Decide how much ammo you can carry and if you’ll be able to resupply from other sources. Consider a handgun and long gun for personal use and keep your weapon at your side at all times. If you decide on just one firearm; select a rugged accurate rifle for hunting and protection. Learn how to use your weapon, then practice shooting and reloading!

Note: Basic gear for a youth might include a Marlin 22-mag lever action rifle, which is adequate for the small game like wild chickens. Rifle holds 12 rounds in its tubular magazine and should be equipped with a 4-power scope. Kukri knife is good for camp type chores and the Cold Steel Hunter knife is ideal for cleaning game. Optional gear: IR red dot sight, Ruger Stainless Steel .38 caliber, speed loaders and wire screen chicken traps which can be baited with bird seed or fruit.

Rifle slings and holsters will free your hands up to do other things. Extra ammo, magazines and a good gun cleaning kit should be added to your load along with flashlights with rechargeable batteries. Consider adding a lightweight flexible portable solar panel, deep cycle battery and inverter to recharge your batteries or else plan on carrying plenty of extra batteries. Stock up on plenty of ammo and reloading equipment. Lee has several styles of portable reloading presses that are field-tested, reliable and lightweight.
Note: Basic gear for a woman might include a .223-caliber rifle with a 3x9 power scope, extra 5 round magazines and a Lite Hunter knife. Optional gear: Beretta .380 semi auto, holster, extra 13 round magazines, pepper spray, push knife, bullet bandolier, 12” Ontario machete and a IR red dot sight.

Environmental considerations:
Prepare for temperature extremes in your area by keeping the proper rain gear and cold weather gear close at hand. Don’t forget gloves, hat and extra socks if you’re in cold wet weather. Include a sharp machete, heavy-duty ponchos and paracord with your gear to increase your chances of survival in the tropics since these items are essential for shelter, water collecting and jungle clearing when on the move. Learn about the edible plants and animals in your area (e.g. feral pigs, chickens, goats and deer are common here) and how to prepare them. The oceans are full of opportunities both good and bad so know your limits before getting into the water and learn to identify the edible sea life in your area.

Cold, hot or tropical:
Select the proper clothing for your climate. Military spec clothing and gear will last longer in the field, which is important since replacements may be hard to come by. I recommend good old Army boots with sure grip for hikes on loose ground and slippery muddy trails. Don’t forget the needle, thread and duct tape to make repairs.    

Note: Climatic conditions in tropical locations can range anywhere from hot dry desert heat to cold wet rain forests or freezing snow covered mountains. The temperature variation in the tropics can range anywhere from 30 – 90 degrees F. Different strategies, equipment and know how will be needed in each zone.

Long-term vs. short-term emergencies:
Figure out what supplies you’ll need to survive in your area. Food, water, shelter and security items will be your most valuable items. How long will your supplies last? Remember at least 2 liters of water and 2000 calories minimum for each person per day. Purchase freeze-dried products or MREs for their longer shelf life and lighter weight if your plans include moving on foot. Make sure you add several means of gathering food in case the emergency last for a while.

Calculate supply limits:
How much food and water you carry will depend on whether you’re in a vehicle or walking. Separate your essential camping supplies from your home essentials for quick access and have a plan B in case the vehicle breaks down. A good backpack, worn sturdy boots and good physical fitness will be essential if you have to move on foot. And remember that living off the land by scavenging and hunting is hard physical work, so start getting in shape now!

Note: Gear for your alpha male might include a Remington .30-06 with a 9x40 scope designed for hunting larger game like wild pigs, which are abundant here. Optional equipment: night vision, range finder, 12 gauge pump shotgun, .45 ACP pistol, a 10/22 semi auto rifle and wire snares. The wire snares are set up along pig trails and need to be checked frequently.

[JWR Adds: In the tropics it is best to opt for as many stainless steel guns as possible. Synthetic stocks are also preferrred.]
Resources in your area:
Find out what kinds of people, plants and animals live in your area before something happens. Knowing who and what resources are in your area will be critical in developing your shelter-in or bug out plans. If gangs or druggies have a habit of hanging out in your neighborhood…plan to move out early! Locations near seashores, reservoirs, lakes and rivers offer plenty of opportunities for food gathering, if you know how and have the right gear.

Hunting and gathering:
Learn about hunting, trapping or gardening skills. Think of dumpster diving as a means to resupply and don’t forget about the bow, arrow or crossbow for hunting quietly. Gunshots may bring unwanted attention or guests your way, so stay alert!

Note: Resources like banana, coconut and breadfruit trees are common in the more tropical areas. Parts of these plants can be used for eating, cooking food and made into shelter material. Learn what plants grow in your area and how they can help you during an emergency when all the stores are closed. Storing seeds from your garden will come in handy once things settle down and you can plant them. Avoid GMO seeds since they can’t reproduce themselves.

How will you get the information you’ll need to decide where to go and what to do? Portable communication equipment will function if you have a power source or rechargeable batteries with some way of charging them. Take all information from a single source with a grain of salt and use your common sense. Good communications is always one of the most important aspects of any emergency. Humans need that personal interaction with others and hearing news events or where to find supplies will be helpful during any type of emergency.

Local or International News:
Will the local radio or authorities be able to broadcast event information Are there any ham radio operators in your area who will be able to monitor world events? Police scanners can be a useful source of local information during emergencies.

Note: Compact rechargeable communication gear you might consider before the electricity goes down includes a simple crank AM/FM radio, rechargeable FRS/GMRS radios, ham radio, rechargeable battery pack, solar photovoltaic panel, and AC/DC inverter. Don’t forget the AA, AAA rechargeable batteries and charger!

Basic equipment:
Well-built firearms, knives (small size for cleaning game), sharpening devices, fire making devices, water-purifying kits and food-gathering materials are just some of the basic gear you’ll need. A sturdy backpack to carry these items will be needed if you’re on foot and remember that compact is better if you’re on the move. Don’t forget the fishing line, hooks, lead weights and snares and include a change of clothes that will protect you from the outdoor climate extremes in your area. Stay dry since hypothermia is a real threat even in the tropics. Add a long brim hat, bandanas, sunglasses and sun block lotion since excessive time will be spent outdoors. Extra eyeglasses and any necessary medications are also recommended since supplies may be few and far between.

Note: Researching the poisonous critters or dangerous plants in your area should be part of your threat assessment since you’ll likely be spending more time in the great outdoors. We have all kinds of biting insects, barracudas, thorny plants and big sharks here in the tropics and knowing how to avoid these types of threats will increase your chances of surviving the next crisis.
Threat assessment:
Narrow it down because it’s way too complicated and unrealistic to try to prepare for every possible threat out there and take a multi hazard approach by preparing for your basic needs. Example: Water, food, shelter and security should come to mind for starters. The same basic necessities will be needed for your survival whether it’s for a hurricane or a more extreme situation like a pandemic or EMP event.

Prepare yourself mentally to do whatever it takes to survive during the emergency situation and be hyper vigilante for opportunities to resupply. Do what you can for others along the way without becoming a victim and protect yourself with whatever means are available. Consider teaming up with other trustworthy people who have different survival skills to increase your security and your available skill sets.

Research and practice your survival skills before an emergency happens and start your functional physical fitness training, which will enable you to perform those everyday survival chores without hurting yourself. Try hiking or walking with a backpack, preparing simple meals on a fire and learn to enjoy the outdoors for practice and outdoor skills building.

After a short emergency it’s great to get out there and help each other recover but if the emergency is more severe and lasts longer don’t be surprised if people get desperate and dangerous. Protect yourself and loved ones by researching, preparing and training now.
Remember that you are responsible for your own safety during any emergency and don’t be afraid to think outside the box!


The recent article by Gordo on Individual Retirement Accounts was informative.  Another, at the SHTFPlan blog was also quite useful. The video linked in the article urges viewers to get out of their dollar-based tax-deferred retirement accounts.

There seem to be two options available for protecting your tax-deferred retirement accounts:

1) Cash out, take the early withdrawal penalty, and pay income tax on the withdrawn amount
2) Create a self-directed IRA entity and transform the account into a hedge against the dollar

The IRS will let you acquire specific gold and silver coin and bullion, but you cannot take physical possession of these assets without causing the early withdrawal penalties to kick in.  More info here.  If you pre-convert your IRA funds into physical gold/silver, you will at least have hedged against the dollar.  When you are confident of when the SHTF event is going to occur, you can then order physical possession of your gold and silver coin/bullion assets, and gear up for the tax hit, and assume the IRS is going to be very, very busy.  

Note today's headline about the IRS

Regards, - Curtis R.


That was a nice IRA article in today's blog.  I do quite a lot of advising on IRAs and "Checkbook LLCs".  After tax season is over, I will add to that discussion.  Advising 98% of layman to go out and get a CBLLC for their IRA is very dangerous - those are very, very easy to muck up, and the penalty for a "prohibited transaction" is that the IRA goes away, resulting in taxation of the entire balance, along with severe penalties.  That doesn't mean I am against CBLLCs, very much to the contrary, under the right circumstances, with good advisors and - importantly - clients who heed their counsel.  We like using them for real estate.  I do think that they are limited where gold & silver are concerned (in a depository vs. physical possession, I do not think CBLLC legally gets around that issue), but I think ammo (probably not a "collectible" unless you are dealing with vintage stuff), to name one example, might be a whole 'nother story.  Also, one would want to balance present-day considerations (want to stay legal pre-SHTF) with TEOTWAWKI considerations (penalty for early withdrawal of ammo from IRA may be a minor consideration in certain situations).  My consistent experience:  IRA "self-dealing" rules are very subtle and very often crossed by laymen with CBLLC control of their IRA, with disastrous results.  This is especially true of clients with a strong independent streak who confuse common sense with tax law. Might that describe some of your readers?  When clients sometimes say "that's not justice", I respond with "No Ma'am, it's the law and has little to do with justice".
We are seeing much more IRS activity overall, including formation of a new "unit" to look at IRAs.  Also seeing more deliberate traps for the unwary, I will provide a few examples post 4/17.  To name one:  IRS now asks on Schedule E and business returns:  "Were you supposed to file 1099s?  If so did you?".  The trap:  Answer "no" or ignore the question, get audited, and 1099 penalties have doubled in the last few years.  Answer "yes" when it ain't in fact so - well, now you have committed civil fraud (liar, liar!), big dollar penalties to follow.  Just one more deliberate way for the system to extract a toll, err, I mean engage in "revenue raising."  Hopefully I can add some value in a few weeks, I think your blog is excellent and I recommend it and your books to many like-minded friends.  Your site introduced me and my family to Appleseed, that alone was an invaluable benefit.
Cordially, - J.M.H.


I must mention the potential threat of governments nationalizing your IRA to save Social Security. Other countries have already done this. 
The US government has been allowing people to convert their IRA to a Roth IRA for a prepayment fee over two or three years - they really need the money. 
The Roth IRA will never be taxed again and you have some fairly good assurances in the way the laws are established.  Once you get the IRA over to a Roth you can manage in any way as an IRA and after the specified retirement age, there are zero capital gains.
You can also take any principal contributions back out after five years.  This allows you to use for kids college or maybe a rural retreat!
I did this and invested the after fee / tax monies into a privately held business venture that I feel far more confident in being able to keep my finger on the pulse of things.  Please note that the conversion has allowed the plan to be open to anyone but historically a Roth only allowed contributions from those making $150,000 or less - so to contribute more in the future would require this level or less of adjusted gross income.
Anyone under the age of 35 or 40 should seriously consider this plan b/c of the enourmous tax advantage of buying in with Zero future taxes.  Roth IRAs have also been the plan for the "average Joe" so changing the rules would be political nightmare and there is not much money in them nationaly due to the restrictions and lack of employer plans that offer Roth IRA.

Thank you for posting the article regarding Executive Order-National Defense Resources Preparedness. It was a very illuminating article regarding where our country is currently at economically, politically, and militarily. I understand that some of the vague language used in government documents often allows the government to exercise more power than may be found on the surface of the writing. The best example in this document is, as you pointed out, Section 201b. However, I think we may be getting ahead of ourselves in saying that the government will show up in times of peace and magic away our preps. I would also like to point out that this type of Executive Order is not WHOLLY unprecedented, as you say in SurvivalBlog. 

There is a very interesting book called The Homefront U.S.A: America during World War II  by Allan M. Winkler, a renowned WWII expert. I think that it should be a mandatory reading for all Americans that label themselves as Patriots. In this book he goes through the many changes implemented by FDR's Administration which allowed America to quickly mobilize its armed forces and prepare for war with Germany and Japan. Of note in the book are discussions regarding business, industry, and the best allocations of manpower. Mr. Winkler describes in sufficient detail the formation of the War Manpower Commission, whose soul purpose was to determine how workers could best be used. The Selective Service (the draft) fell under the authority of this commission. The commission at first did not have much power, but by 1943 was able to direct where people should be finding jobs (true, they could not mandate it, but many people found themselves in complete agreement with the commissions assessment of their skills and followed their decrees). You may know that by the end of World War II the unemployment rate was 1%, and most of those unemployed were unable to work due to disabilities. What you may not know was that over 500,000 small businesses between 1940-1945 failed. Big Business ruled during World War II, under a Liberal Democratic President, fueling the so-called "Arsenal of Democracy." So how was the government able to achieve such a low rate of unemployment? They offered incentives and fair wages (even in the face of some inflation), even to women, Black Americans, and Latino Americans ("fair" is a relative term as these groups still made less money than white males). The point I am getting at is that the government understood that to have a successful wartime economy, people needed to be making money. Indeed, despite rationing at home, most folks that lived on the home front of WWII quite enjoyed themselves after the previous decades economic woes. I would wager that if people had experienced the war with little pay and no luxury, the effort to support our troops would have been equally different, perhaps with disastrous implications. 

Furthermore, Mr. Winkler mentions agriculture in his book. While the number of actual farms and farmers shrank during WWII as others went to work in factories, the amount of crops grown and distributed grew. Many of the nations policies regarding agriculture were formed in this period of mobilization, and many resources were allocated to the boon of these farmers.

Even in the face of hard decisions and unpopular political sanctions, equal rights groups made large advances.

I know that Barack Obama is no Franklin Delano Roosevelt, not by a long shot. However, even though BHO is unpopular among your readers, I do not believe it is his notion to throw working class America under the bus and steal everything they have dedicated their lives to.

I believe that if the government DID try to force people into jobs with no compensation (as is provisioned for in Section 502), we would have reached a truly desperate point in whatever struggle we faced as a nation. I also believe that in times of total war, such as this executive order hints at, our nation would unite as we did after December 7, 1941, or September 11, 2001. We would be willing to accept the terms our government was providing, even if we did so grudgingly. Many of your readers have named themselves as veterans of our Armed Forces, you yourself served, and as the title of your first novel implies we as preppers mark ourselves as some of this countries most ardent patriots. I believe we would step up if our turn came to aid this country in a time of war. At least I hope we would. The current prepper mindset seems to say that the end is near, but wouldn't it be amazing if somehow we pulled together to save this country? It is easy to read this document in a time of relative peace (because even though our country has troops deployed, it is nowhere near the 16 million men and women that served between 1940-1945) and despair that our President is quickly turning into a dictator. I am not naive enough to say that our country is not in dire straits, but I will still approach this document with an open mind. Yes, some of the implications are certainly worrisome, but I think that our country is a long way off from a time in which our Government would make such totalitarian moves.

I am not urging anyone to lower your state of readiness, and I am by no means a fan of who our politicians have turned into in this day and age. If there was a man in the upcoming election even half the man that FDR was, you can bet that I would be voting for him. What I am urging, instead, is to keep an open mind to the decisions our government makes. I myself will approach this executive order the way I approach everything else in life, with cautious optimism. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Right?

Keep Safe and God Bless. -The Cautious Husky

Reader Lee M. suggetsed this useful chart: Food Storage Shelf Life

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Cheryl sent this: Protect Your Computer Now

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Chris M. spotted this: How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp

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The latest from Nanny State California: Rocklin Considering Banning Residents From Smoking Outside Their Own Homes. And in Nanny State North Star State: Minnesota man arrested, jailed for home siding code violation. And meanwhile in Nanny State Britannia: Schools ban children making best friends. (This sounds too much like something out of Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron", from his "Welcome to the Monkey House" collection of short stories.)

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Some good news: Court Sides With Idaho Property Owners Over EPA. (Thanks to D.V. for the link.)

"When a man hath no freedom to fight for at home,
Let him combat for that of his neighbours;
Let him think of the glories of Greece and of Rome,
And get knocked on the head for his labours.
To do good to Mankind is the chivalrous plan,
And is always as nobly requited;
Then battle for Freedom wherever you can,
And, if not shot or hanged, you'll get knighted." - George Gordon, Lord Byron, November 5, 1820

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

A Very Important Introductory Note: Owning a still is legal in the United State according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). It is not legal to use your still to Distill Ethanol Fuel without a permit nor is it legal to Distill Spirits for personal use. I created my still after watching countless YouTube videos and reading various reference web sites. I made one small batch of Distilled Ethanol Fuel, less than 1 liter, which I later found out was illegal in the US because I did not have a permit for it- even though it was a one-time experiment! Well- I now have a permit. After going through this process I believe, that every serious prepper would be well served by reading this essay in full, making a simple still , and then deciding on whether to legally test the process or just have it as a backup tool.

Now to begin formally- Every serious prepper should understand the basics of distilling and have a small still set up and ready to use, just in case. Why? Well a still is a terrific multi purpose tool to have at your bug-in location. With a still you have the ability to produce Ethanol and make Spirits, both for trade and personal use. You can also use a still to make Distilled Water – useful in a number of ways. If you want to get specific, a still is a tool that will help you separate liquid substances through the application of heat. Upon different boiling points of your mash, different liquids will be released as vapor. A still will create the environment for the separation and then using a cooling process, will return the separated vapor back to liquid form for collection.

In the event of a protracted failure of the current social contract or an extended period of hyperinflation, you will have a both a tool and trade. With enough investment in time and materials you will have a renewable source of fuel for your non-diesel vehicles. If you are like me, it is just fun to learn and potentially very useful in case TSHTF.

Since this is a Beginner's Guide, I'm only going to share some very basic information about stills and the capabilities of Ethanol. Disclaimer: I am also a beginner at Distilling Ethanol . I am fairly certain I am not the only Survival Blog reader to experiment in this direction but it looks like several years have passed since the topic has been addressed and not to the level that any prepper could start out with and 'take to the bunker' in my opinion. Let me say that there are definitely a lot of folks who know a whole lot more than I do (especially about various yeasts, mashes, enzymes, still design and basically everything about Ethanol Fuel production) but I do feel comfortable relating the basics to an audience. Please keep in mind this is a Beginner's Guide, and there are a very, very many ways to skin this proverbial cat. This is a quick and dirty bang-up that just about anyone can put into use over the course of a weekend like I did- as a proof of concept . You will not learn truly efficient production of Ethanol Fuel from this essay, but you will be exposed to possibilities and resources to guide you further in your studies and I encourage you to study further.

My goal is to give the SurvivalBlog community enough information and resources to quickly and legally work through a proof of concept Ethanol Reflux Still with capital outlay of less than $100 and to provide enough information so that even if you do not work a still, you will be able to tell if someone else is actually doing enough of a correct process to not cause you problems.

Why do you want to have a still? Well for me the ability to produce Ethanol was of terrific importance. The ability to produce Spirits was a vague intellectual interest as well, but most importantly is the idea of personal responsibility and self sufficiency that I believe many preppers share. Sure- we stock pile food and ammunition but those are non-renewable resources. If you don't have the capability or desire to grow your own food and raise your own livestock you still need some sort of useful skill that will allow you to retain your capital resources and focus on growing through other sustainable enterprise. Distilling Ethanol for fuel seemed like a good choice to investigate further. After all – garbage is eternal .

So what is so great about Ethanol? Here is my short list.

Ethanol is a clean burning fuel (much cleaner than even bio-diesel) that can work in your vehicle and can be used as a cooking fuel. Ethanol mixes very well with Kerosene – allowing for an extension of supply. 100 years ago Ethanol mixed with Turpentine was often used for lighting (Just in case you don't store kerosene). Ethanol can also be added to gasoline (It must be dehydrated first!) and with the correct supplies and purifying process you can even make your own E85 (85% Ethanol and 15% Gasoline) fairly easily and at a greatly reduced cost than what you experience at the pump.

(Read: potential to extend supply of existing gasoline and to further create your own Fuel if that supply is exhausted. Some Survival Blog readers are sure to have non-Ethanol unleaded gas stored for a rainy day due to its extended storage life. How about planning on adding Ethanol on an as-needed basis? Just a thought. For me, it is the potential of 50 gallons of Fuel at 17 MPG +/- or 100 Gallons of 50% Ethanol Mix at about 14 MPG – the math kind of speaks for itself there as long as the supplies exist to create the Ethanol Fuel as needed.)

Many vehicles sold today are Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) that are designed by the manufacturer to run either Gasoline or E85 or any mix between the two. If you don't have an FFV vehicle you CAN re-chip what you do have if it is electronic and whilst you may experience more maintenance- you will certainly save money in fuel costs if you are making your own fuel at a reasonable production level and have close enough to the same mileage per gallon. If you have a carburetor in your vehicle you can account for the lower temperature, slower burn of Ethanol Alcohol by retarding your timing, having a multi-fire distributor and increasing the Air to Fuel ratio. If you run straight (100%) Ethanol Alcohol as a fuel there are more considerations involving fuel lines, jets, gaskets, cylinder compression and filters. (I am only brushing the surface here as this topic could easily be its own essay but I will say that it greatly surprised me to find that the first automobiles were all fueled by Ethanol and not gasoline.)

Fuel is a very important consideration in the present environment. As an example of how producing Ethanol Fuel could help me personally, I drive an old Full Size Jeep with no electronics – I would just need to retard the timing a bit and possibly fiddle with the choke if I put a Ethanol mix into it – I do not plan to go E85, I might try out a 25% Ethanol mix and then see if 50% Ethanol mix worked well with minimal changes to the motor, fuel delivery and ignition systems. If I did a 50% Ethanol mix then the price to fill my tank drops about 25% according to my estimates- but the trade off is the time spent managing the operation safely and consistently.

Ethanol stores well – in an airtight container it will sit for years- if left open to the air it will suck moisture out of the atmosphere and gradually lose potency. Ethanol is a common solvent and even has medicinal properties, most commonly used to cleanse wounds (but ouch! it stings). You can also whip up Alcohol stoves out of tin cans if you decide you need a cooking surface quickly or power an actual alcohol stove – which delivers a nice constant heat... Quite a few uses really.

Best of all, in my opinion, Ethanol alcohol comes from the fermentation of yeasts that eat sugar out of starches and cellulose. While corn is traditionally thought of for a mash to produce ethanol (mostly for economic concerns for production), in reality it can be produced (though not as efficiently) from almost anything that you might normally compost from your leftovers...if you have the right enzymes to facilitate the breakdown of starches and cellulose into sugars. Some examples would be Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Sugar Cane, any Sorghum grain, Artichokes and especially for those of you in the Midwest, Switchgrass is apparently an excellent producer of Ethanol. You can literally create Ethanol Fuel out of garbage with the right process and enzymes- again it wont be as efficient as with, say, Sugar Cane (which is what Brazil uses) but you get the idea. Many Ethanol producers clean and sell the waste mash as feed for livestock- depending on what you are fermenting this may also be a possibility for you. I don't have any livestock so after I was done with the mash, it went to the compost bin (where it would have been anyway), but if you ramp up to a serious production level Ethanol operation, you can usually use the leftover corn mash as hog feed at the very least. Yeast eats sugar and not corn or vegetable matter. Your mash uses temperature and maybe enzymes to help release the sugar from the starch or cellulose so you have a better idea of what your waste material is if you choose to use it as feed.

See the Wikipedia page on Ethanol for more information about this useful substance.

I recently made my first Reflux Still at a cost of $75 in one afternoon. This was not a 'Production Still', but served as a test in theory. With this small still, I can distill 5 gallons of corn mash or sugar water into approximately 1 liter +/- of Ethanol Fuel, which was my main purpose. There are many types of stills, very basic ones are functionally no different than a Pressure Cooker or Stock Pot with a hose poking out for the Steam/Condensate to pass through and a bucket of cold water to help the Ethanol Alcohol go back into liquid form. More advanced types, such as the Reflux Still I made, have a length of (usually Copper or Stainless Steel) pipe with non reactive stuffing in the pipe like glass or stainless steel marbles. I used Stainless steel scouring pads. This extra 'stuffing' helps greatly to catch condensate and 'purify' the end result. The general pot and tube method may be able to generate as high as 75%-80% ethanol which is not fuel grade but fine for Spirits. Most of the online videos showing folks making Rum or Spirits use this method which is illegal and not practical for producing Ethanol Fuel. The Reflux Still method can go as high as 96% which is much closer to fuel grade (100% Alcohol) for sure. My test run using baker's yeast had about ½ cup of the first Ethanol distillate that measured almost 90% alcohol but the results quickly lowered in Alcohol percentages, just to give you an idea.

My simple Reflux Still is a 30” length of 1 inch copper pipe stuffed with 2 stainless steel wire scouring pads-cut in half (solid core ribbon and not covered thread). There are 2, 1-inch 90 degree elbows soldered to the top to form an upside down U shape. The water cooling jacket is formed from the other side of the upside down U shape. There is a 1 inch to ½ inch reducer that is soldered to a 12 inch length of ½ inch copper pipe which provides the outlet for the Alcohol. The Water Jacket (for cooling) consists of 2, 1 inch to ½ inch Reducer Ts that are capped and soldered together with ½ inch holes drilled in the caps. 2 additional lengths of ½ inch copper pipes are soldered to the Reducer Ts to form the Water Inlet and Water Outlet. Each of the 3, ½ inch pipes protruding from the water jacket are fitted with ½ inch male adapters to fit hoses onto.

The main Reflux Chamber is added to a 2 gallon Stock Pot which has a 1 inch hole drilled into the cover. I supported the Still Reflux Chamber by adding a 1 Inch T section to the bottom of the Reflux Chamber and bolting the T wings to the Lid. The lid is held onto the Stock pot by three Vice grips set firm but not crazy tight. Now a lot of folks will use a pressure cooker here for the gasket seal and safety valve (which is more energy efficient and more recommended than what I did). I used the vice grips and coated the Pot Lid and top of the Stock Pot with a flour and water mixture to provide a seal of sorts that will still vent a bit without blowing up. If you decide to use a Pressure Cooker (again, recommended but keep in mind you will be at 15 psi rather than the 1-3 psi that I am with my set up - just a thought.) then you will probably spend more than $100 for your Proof of Concept unless you get lucky at a Thrift Store – remember you will have to drill through the lid – some of the older cast aluminum pressure cookers are quite thick.

If you decide to use a Stock Pot (or a 55 gallon steel drum for that matter) and are concerned about a buildup of pressure – a very simple pressure release valve to consider using is another scrap piece of pipe sticking up out of the lid with a weighted can over it (maybe a ½ oz or 1 oz fishing sinker weight for example- heck even a small rock would work)...this will bubble up and release your steam when/if the pressure gets high enough (1-3 psi was my target, rather like a normal pot lid) and allow you to proceed with extra caution and safety.

I used Lead Free Solder and Flux and also used JB Weld on the hole in the Stock Pot Lid. The capabilities of JB Weld go to 600 degrees, far above the 170 – 215 degree temperature your pot will cook mash in.

Now with your still ready- you can make a quick mash and get to producing Ethanol.

The first step is to thoroughly clean everything! If you use a plastic bucket for the mash to ferment then use a non abrasive cleaner, but clean everything at least two times! Make sure the bucket is a food grade. If you have a glass carboy great – clean it. I also steamed the inside of the Reflux Still for 30 minutes before I got the mash cooking.

Quick Mash- Mix a 5 pound bag of corn masa (not flour- you want it grainy but not clumpy!) with a 5 pound bag of sugar in a plastic 5 gallon food grade bucket. Add bottled or filtered water to close to the top of the 5 gallon bucket. Stir it around real good and add a packet or two of some simple baker's yeast. Stir it around some more getting it good and oxygenated. Then cover it and let it sit for 2-3 days. (If you feel the need for a one-way vent then a simple way to do it is to drill a small hole in your bucket lid and tape a surgical glove over the hole then use a needle to poke a small hole in one of the fingers. You will see the fingers of the glove partially inflate while the mash ferments.) Agitate the mash again real good after 2-3 days by shaking the bucket- you don't need to open it. The yeast is done fermenting the sugars to alcohol when all the sediment stays at the bottom and is no longer partially suspended. This usually takes about 4-5 days.

Now you are ready to distill the Mash.

Get yourself a heat source and don't use your kitchen range unless your family is particularly forgiving of strange and potentially foul odors permeating your home. Ideally you have a something like a propane turkey fryer element or an electric hotplate set up in a safe and controlled environment. Get a bucket full of ice water and a small submersible pump for the water jacket. Create a closed loop of cold water in to the water sleeve and hot water back into the bucket. Apply your heat and monitor temperature. I found that a handheld digital infrared thermometer worked well for my one-time experiment unless you want to spring for some pipe surface thermometers at additional cost. It does require you to be more hands-on, constantly watching and measuring temperature, but this was only a one-time proof of concept test – you can always grab a good book or a friend and a deck of cards and remember to manage your production run as safely as possible.

Since the Reflux chamber of my simple still was only secured with vice grips, I also tied 2 safety guides to the U bend at the top of the pipe just to be extra sure that the apparatus wouldn't tip over unexpectedly- you might want to do the same. Be on the lookout for steam leaks - Alcohol vapor can be explosive so be sure to test your still and carefully monitor for Steam leaks- if you have a leak that you didn't catch when boiling water you should stop and fix it before you continue your production, especially since this still is attached directly to the mash pot, which is being heated. Be Safe!

The alcohol will begin to boil off at about 170 degrees. My Reflux still showed signs of boiling closer to 180 degrees F. The water jacket part of your still should bring the temperature down to about 70-80 degrees F at the outlet which is about perfect for the Ethanol to turn back into liquid form. As the alcohol level decreases, the temperature of the mash and the (Stock Pot) will increase. When your mash pot reads close to 215 degrees then your mash is done producing Ethanol and is starting to produce Steam Water. The entire production run for this small still should last about 2.5 hours, I stopped at about 100 minutes. A larger Mash Pot will of course take longer to advice is to do what I did, start small to get a feel for it, and of course get an ATF permit first to be legal and check with your County for additional requirements.

Now a quick note on using Ethanol as fuel for your car. Do not take your Ethanol from this production and pop it in your gas tank! Fuel Grade Ethanol is 100% alcohol and the very best you can get with any still is going to be around 96% alcohol. My still's total production from this experiment averaged only 76% Alcohol when totaled together– you don't want that anywhere near your engine! To make sure all of the water is out of the Ethanol you need to treat your batch with Zeolite chunks (which is a molecular sieve that absorbs the extra water content). Zeolite is expensive – expect to pay north of $100-$200 for enough of the type 3A gravel chunks to be worthwhile but it is infinitely reusable, soak your Ethanol in the Zeolite chunks overnight and strain out the 100% Ethanol- Dry your Zeolite chunks over your BBQ periodically and you are good to go. Also Invest in a hydrometer to double check your alcohol percentages (and look like a mad scientist when doing it- I put on a white lab coat for full effect) – a hydrometer is usually around $20 and recommended to make sure you are fuel grade before adding Ethanol into your gas tank. Water in your gas tank is bad!

Ok- so you have made Ethanol. Would you be surprised to learn that nearly the exact same process is how you go about making Spirits? (Remember- the ATF says distillation of Spirits for personal use is 'impractical' due to numerous permits and taxes that are to be paid) Molasses makes Rum, Potato makes Vodka, so on and so forth. There are additional nuances for each type of Spirit but now you know the basics for sure. Your simple production run of Ethanol from above “could” be divided and proofed down (watered) and flavored to make Schnapps or homemade Kahlua for example, so your quick and dirty production is potentially not is just very strong and somewhat impure drinking alcohol. So for about $10 in raw materials for the mash – depending on what flavoring you use and how strong you like it- you can probably get 3-4 bottles of homemade Spirits which is, again, not legal to make for personal use according the ATF, but in the event of the End of the World it is reasonable to assume the ATF may either overlook your transgression or be otherwise occupied.

Now I do feel compelled to state that this simple Ethanol still is designed for Fuel and not Spirits- it will certainly kick out trace amounts of other alcohols that are not good to digest – like Methanol and Butanol let alone having JB Weld holding some just keep in mind this is not the right set up or process for making quality Spirits, at a very minimum you would want to proof the product down to 40% Alcohol give or take and you would need a series of food grade charcoal filters to help clean up the Product before you should even consider drinking it(and I'm not sure I would even trust that too much), you will see what I mean if you tackle this experiment using my quick examples! For making Spirits really drinkable the process is called 'polishing' and normally takes anywhere from 1 week to a month of soaking activated carbon in the Distilled Ethanol and then filtering the carbon dust out of the Alcohol to remove the bad stuff that gives to 'yuck factor' to moonshine and turns the product into something more like Vodka, tasteless and odorless.

Remember, the point of this essay is for Ethanol Fuel Production . Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the legalities, the YouTube videos that are everywhere about Distilling generally gloss over the legal requirements if they are mentioned it at all. It is a mess that you do not want to get involved with if, for some reason, the ATF does a check on your Homemade Liqueur Operation because you post it on YouTube and you are found to have homemade Distilled Spirits or Ethanol that has not been denatured. Then they find out you are a prepper and have more than three days of stored food, then they notice you have more than one magazine for your pistol and more than 50 rounds of ammunition in your house...I am sure you get the idea.

Here is how my production with baker's yeast as first-time experiment turned out.

1.75 gallons of mash started to boil at 47 min at 182 degrees F. The chamber read 105F, between the water cooling pipes read 95F, the top read 111F and the jacket read 74F. After 10 minutes my product was filmy and pungent, and measured 89%-92% Alcohol. 12 minutes later the pot measured 189F, the chamber 111F, between the cooling pipes read 89F, the top measured 101F and the cooling jacket read 80F. At this point I have about 2 cups of product but the alcohol percentage for the second cup reads only 74% alcohol – far less film and stink. The temperature readings stayed approximately the same for another 50 minutes. The production of Ethanol was about 3.5 cups. Total alcohol measure of entire production was 76% Alcohol. So- I got about 3.5 cups of 76% Ethanol Alcohol after about 1.5 hours and could have run the production longer but decided not to. Note- Alcohol percentages in the output dropped considerably over time.

Now I need to try out champagne yeast or turbo yeast for extra alcohol content, et cetera to really see how much Ethanol fuel I could really net from capital outlay – but I think you get the idea here, making a quality Ethanol product isn't just a wham-bang deal, its needs some precise expertise to make it really functional and worthwhile. Consider also that this simple Reflux Still also leaves something to be desired when compared to one designed by a professional...but it is pretty inexpensive and it works better than pot with a copper tube sticking out of it for close enough to a Fuel grade product to be workable in a pinch.

Now that you have done a simple run with your still, you are well positioned to explore using different yeasts for increased alcohol production (baker's yeast obviously isn't the best). If you work out an agreement with a local farm for example – you may be able to buy your bulk corn- mill it down and instead of adding sugar, add certain enzymes to your mash to facilitate a more natural breakdown of starches for sugars. After you are done with your production, the leftover corn mash can be rinsed and dried and used as feed. My understanding is that normally 100 gallons of mash will produce about 10 gallons of fuel grade Ethanol if you have a really tight process...which mathematically fits the production made from my test run of 1.75 gallons of mash to get about 3.5 cups of moderate to high proof Ethanol. Buy corn in bulk for about $7 a bushel (on the exchanges at least) which is about 70 pounds – just one bushel would net you about 40 gallons of mash give or take, or you can just use bulk sugar if you like. Enzymes are a little pricey as a capital outlay but last a long time. You could probably expect to get your fuel grade Ethanol cost down to between $1.50-$2 per gallon if you got serious with it, maybe less is you re-sold or bartered the mash as livestock feed.

Okay, now for some more specific legal considerations. Before you make anything with a still, you need to check with your County jurisdiction about obtaining a permit. You will also need to be registered with the ATF and in case of an inspection you will need to know how to denature your Ethanol so that it cannot be used for homemade Spirits. Form 5110.74 is the document for a Fuel Distiller and they will want to know the general layout of where your still will be located on your property. They do not want to see it in your back yard patio or in an attached garage or next to your least favorite neighbor's bedroom window so keep in mind safety and practicality. Use an outbuilding 20-50 feet away from your home and other structures if at all possible. There is no cost to file for the ATF permit and they do not even require your social security number, however you will still need to invest time at the local level to track down the correct process for your jurisdiction.

For making Homemade Spirits by Distilling with the intent for personal consumption – again, be aware that it is NOT ok according the the ATF. Also I want to remind you all again that even a one time experiment such as this one (even if you are 12 years old and need a science fair project) can only legally be done by obtaining a permit through the ATF BEFORE you make Ethanol Fuel. I did not find out about the permit requirements until after my first batch because I watched too many You Tube videos so learn from my mistake. I do have a permit now, so I count it as a learning experience.

Now for some more End of the World considerations about distilling Ethanol Fuel. The process takes time and makes a stink. I found the smell noticeable at 20 feet and I can imagine it getting much worse if you are fermenting garbage because it is SHTF time. It might not be a good idea to have a still operating right next to your bug out location or biggest cache. Alcohol is, of course, flammable and Ethanol is particularly hard to see when lit unless it is mixed with Kerosene for example. It is fairly easy to separate your mash pot (which is on a heat source) from the Reflux chamber, unlike my quick and dirty example. This is recommended for safety reasons especially if you cannot watch your still while the Alcohol is being separated from the mash (but you should always watch your product run and have fire extinguishers on hand – I know- its pickle when you are dealing with the End of the World, but try to be as safe as possible under all circumstances, remember that alcohol vapor can explode and treat accordingly!). Fully off-grid Solar Stills could be engineered using mirrors, a Fresnel lens or a parabolic mirror but you will need to carefully consider temperature management. It would be fun to think through how to tackle that one!

I think I have covered all of the basics pretty well, and maybe a bit more than the 'basics' but these are the key points I feel preppers should be aware of regarding this alternative do-it-yourself Fuel Source and its capabilities. Incidentally, by reading this essay you now know a few key questions to ask someone else who might be making Ethanol Fuel or Spirits to see if they know what they are doing in case TSHTF, if they do not filter or polish for Spirits and have no idea about dehydrating the Alcohol for Fuel you know the quality will be lacking...which may lead to complications that would be otherwise avoidable.

Good Luck!

Some of the very best resources I have found to help you dig deeper:

Robert Warren's Site on making your own fuel If you don't go to any other link – go to this one, it is the best!

Home Distillation of Alcohol for a terrific breakdown of different stills and Home Spirit production

ATF Permit (Form 5110.74)

ATF FAQ for Distilled Spirits - Don't do it! Read the penalties.

Mother Earth News Articles – Chapter 7 Distillation Process

Mother Earth News Alcohol Fuel Basics

Alcohol Can Be A Gas – Terrific video

Rainier Distillers – Excellent FAQ and source for Zeolite, Enzymes and Yeasts

Do you have the majority of your savings stashed away in a 401k or IRA?  How many investment choices do you have available to choose from?  The usual scenario is maybe 10 to 20 mutual funds that your company offers in its 401k plan.  Then down the road you change jobs and that 401k plan converts to an IRA.  Most people just keep those funds in the same investment plan and do not even know that they have other options available to them.  If you are here on this forum you most likely have given some thought to protecting your assets from an economic collapse.  Digital dollars invested in stocks, mutual funds, bonds, etc may not be your idea of financial security for an uncertain economic future.   

On quite a few survival type forums I have heard of folks so frustrated with the lack of control of their IRA funds that they resort to taking the assets out of the IRA in spite of the 10% penalty and full taxation of the distribution.  Perhaps they desire to use this money to stock up on food, firearms, ammunition, and other supplies.  They may do this because they are concerned about the economy and wish to use their IRA funds to buy something they really need.  Unfortunately IRA funds cannot be used for those items.  But you can keep your IRA and invest in some tangible items such as land and gold or silver.  To have complete and full control of your assets you may need to cash your IRA in and take the penalties, but there is another way.

I classify IRA freedom and control into four levels.  Level 1 being the least control and level 4 being the most control. 

Level 1 IRAs.  This is where the vast majority of Americans stay at.  Level 1 IRAs are the severely limited mutual fund plans that most companies offer from firms like T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, USAA etc.  You get the standard 10 to 20 mutual funds to choose from and that is it.  You need to understand that you are very limited in your investment choices at level 1. 

Level 2 IRAs.  Brokerage accounts.  Most people do not even know that this option is even possible with an IRA.  Take that level 1 IRA and transfer the funds to a stock broker.  You can select a full service broker with higher commission and fees or go with an online broker such as Scott Trade, E-Trade etc.  With a brokerage account you have access to stocks, bonds, Mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs) and more.  There are thousands of choices at this level.  Your choices are much greater but you are still investing your money in digital dollars in the securities markets.  Maybe you are considering precious metals or real estate.  These are tangible investments that have real value outside of the digital dollar world.  Read on for level 3. 

Level 3 IRAs.  The self-directed IRA.  With a self-directed IRA, you can invest in Real Estate, Tax liens, precious metals and everything from level 1 and 2.  The problem with this option is that it is not really self-directed.  To have a self-directed IRA you need to transfer the funds to a company that specializes in this area and they act as the custodian of your funds.  They hold your funds until you select an investment and then they must approve that investment before any of your funds are released.  If you are into time sensitive real estate investments such as foreclosed or distressed properties that sell at auction, the custodial trust company may not approve the transaction in time for you to purchase the property.  And every transaction is assessed fees by the custodian company.  If you want to purchase precious metals, you cannot take delivery of the metal.  There are companies out there such as Swiss America that will help you to open a gold, silver or platinum IRA account.  You can transfer an existing IRA directly to them and they will set it up.  Again the precious metal is held in a secure vault in your name and you cannot take possession until you are 60 years old.  For some this may be an option.  One problem with self-directed IRAs is that you can quickly rack up so many fees in dealing with this form of IRA that it can be cost prohibitive.  And of course in a total economic collapse, you must consider the possibility of never receiving your gold and silver that is stored in a 3rd party vault somewhere.  Do you want the freedom to act fast on real estate deals and to physically hold your precious metals in your possession?  Level 4 IRAs may be for you.   

Level 4 IRAs.  The self-directed IRA with a Limited Liability Company (LLC).  Level 4 IRAs give you the most control of your assets.  This level is a bit more complicated than the rest and requires some paper work and costs initially, but in the long run you have the most freedom.  With this option, you form a single member LLC (you) with your state and act as your own agent.  It sounds more complicated than it is and there are companies online that will draft up the articles of organization to set up your specific LLC for the sole purpose of managing your IRA.  With a level 4 IRA you can invest in all 3 of the previous level investments and you can do it with check book control. 

Let me break it down into simple steps. For example: Step 1. You form a LLC with the specific purpose of managing your IRA.  Step 2.  Select a custodian which is a trust bank that is set up to deal with self-directed IRAs.  They act as the initial custodian of your IRA funds and are required to ensure that your IRA meets legal guidelines.  You initially deposit or transfer your IRA funds to this custodian bank.  Step 3. Select another bank of your choosing that has business accounts available.  At this bank you open an account under the business name of your LLC.  Step 4.  Transfer your IRA funds from the custodian bank to your business account LLC.

You are now the manager of the LLC which is the owner of the self-directed IRA.  You act on behalf of yourself with complete checkbook control of your IRA assets.  The LLC can legally hold the assets of your IRA.  This kind of control is only possible at this level.  As the manager of the LLC you will have a checkbook from your account and can invest your assets as you see fit.  As long as the IRS agrees that what you are investing in classifies as an investment it is acceptable.  IRS publication 590 spells out what you can and cannot invest in an IRA.   Now you can purchase gold or silver bullion and take possession of the actual metal and store it yourself as you see fit.  Put it in your home safe, or put in your safe deposit box.  You could choose to buy gold and store it abroad in a Swiss bank.  As the manager of the LLC you are expected to secure the funds in a safe and secure manner.  With checkbook control you can shop around for the best prices on your precious metals.  If you can afford to meet the purchase amount minimums the Tulving company has the lowest premiums over spot that I have found. 

Now you can access all that money that was “trapped in an IRA” and take control of it and place it in a tangible, non-paper asset such as gold, silver or real estate.  You can also invest your LLC IRA funds in many other investments that you could never consider with a regular IRA.

With the self-directed IRA LLC, you have much more latitude to invest your IRA funds as you see fit.  There are still limitations.  For example you can invest in and physically hold precious metals such as gold and silver, but it has to be classified as bullion so that means .999 pure or better coins, rounds, bars etc.  So 90% silver pre-1965 US coins are not authorized.  Also you cannot invest in numismatic or antique coins. 

Check book control is a must for certain types of real estate investments.  If you find a property that is selling for cash or is up for auction you can buy it on the spot.  There is no custodial company permission required and no extra fees levied on your funds.  You are the manager and you give yourself the approval to purchase your investments.  Again IRS Publication 590 spells out the rules for real estate.  For example you can buy real estate as an investment but it cannot be used as a residence for you or anyone in your family.  Common sense applies here and if you always think of what you invest in as an investment that benefits your IRA, but not you personally then you should stay within the bounds of IRS approved investments of IRA funds. 

A word of caution.  You must stay within the limits of IRS approved investments.  If you do not, and you are audited by the IRS they can treat the illegal investment as an IRA distribution and disallow the entire IRA.  This event would trigger the 10% tax and your entire IRA would be taxed as a distribution for that tax year.  Again refer to IRS pub 590. You can also get investment advice from the company that you used to set up your self-directed IRA LLC.  They can offer counseling and guidance on any questions that you may have concerning whether or not a proposed investment is approved for IRA investments. 

One other nice feature of the self-directed IRA LLC is you can be a day trader or at least a frequent securities trader using IRA funds.  Normally if you have an IRA brokerage account you are limited in the buying and selling of securities due to the fact that it is an IRA and you usually have to wait a few days for the transaction to clear before you can use those funds again.  With the IRA LLC you transfer your funds (write a check from your LLC) to your brokerage and open a regular account. Since it is a regular account you can request margin so there is no waiting period and you can trade securities as often as you wish.  The best part is that these trades are still tax-free and you do not report any capital gains because the account is under the IRA investment management of your LLC.

I have just scratched the surface of what you can do with a self-directed LLC IRA.  You can also loan out money and charge interest, you can invest in a business, invest in tax liens and much more.  For the purpose of survival blog readers I have focused on precious metals and real estate, but there is so much more available.  For more information on the process just do an internet search of “Self directed IRA LLC with checkbook control”.  Don’t confuse this with a regular self-directed IRA.  They are completely different.  Be careful though, there are companies that will charge you 2 or 3 thousand dollars to set up your IRA LLC.  I found a company that charged around $500 to set up mine.

In summary, you do not have to be limited in your investment choices for your IRA funds.  If you have your money “trapped” in a regular IRA you can create a LLC and liberate your money to invest in some real tangible assets.

As long-time SurvivalBlog readers know, I like big knives - be they folders or fixed blade. I believe bigger knives can do most chores easier and better than smaller knives can. Now, that's not to say, that big knives can do all things better than smaller knives can - such is not the case. In a survival or combat situation, you need a knife that is capable of handling all manner of chores. Enter the Benchmade Knives CSK II, Combat/Survival fixed blade knife.
The Benchmade CSK II is one of those "just the right size" knives, for all manner of duty. The 6" 1095 carbon steel blade can handle many tasks that a smaller fixed blade knife can't handle. The blade thickness is 0.180" and the blade is Cerakote  coated - giving it a great black powder-type coating that not only protects the carbon steel blade from rusting, but also gives it the stealth advantage of not shining during nighttime ops. The 1095 carbon steel is Rockwell tested at 58-59, which means the blade holds and edge for a decent length of time, as well as making it easy to re-sharpen. One of my past knife magazine editors told me that a blade can't both hold an edge a long time and be easy to re-sharpen. I disagreed then, and I still disagree with him.
The CSK II has a clip-point blade, which is a great design for all manner of chores, from field-dressing game, to sticking it into things that need sticking. Enough said. The handle on the CSK II is a tactile soft surfaced, checkered Santoprene. This affords a great grip on the knife. It almost grips you back. I love the way it feels in the hand. Plus, there's also a brass-lined lanyard hole in the handle. The handle also forms into a front lower guard, to protect you hand from slipping onto the blade.
The CSK II also comes with a MOLLE compatible leather sheath. The sheath is extremely well-made, too. And there's just something about the smell of leather that I love. There's also leather tie-downs on the bottom of the sheath, as well as on the top - should you really need to give the knife some extra security - besides the snap leather strap that retains the knife in the sheath. Now, while I love a good leather knife sheath, for my use in the very rainy climate of Western Oregon, I would prefer a Kydex sheath - something that can stand-up to the elements. I like to say we have two seasons in this part of Oregon: 8-months of rain, and 4-months of beautiful summer sunshine. The rain takes a toll on everything - even equipment that you take care of - it still succumbs to the elements. First thing I did with the CSK II was spray the sheath with some waterproofing spray - and I'll continue to treat the sheath that way a couple times per year.
The CSKII only weight 7.5 ounces, so it's a lightweight, considering the overall length of 10.75", with the 6" blade. During my test and evaluation of this knife, the only area where it fell "short" was in chopping things - then again, it didn't surprise me here, consider the blade length and the light weight of the knife. If you need to chop tree branches of other material, you'll want a longer blade knife, that is heavier. Other than that, this is one dandy camp survival and combat knife.
Often, people think of a "combat" knife, as something that is used all the time to take-out enemy sentries in the dark of night. Well, that does happen, but only rarely! Some of our troops went toe-to-toe with insurgents in a cemetery in Iraq, and they used hand-to-hand combat, some just using their bare hands, as well as folding knives and fixed blade knives. While the CSK II wouldn't be my first choice in a blade for going one-on-one with someone, I wouldn't feel the least bit at a disadvantage using this knife for self-defense. It'll get the job done, no doubt about it. However, as anyone who has spent any amount of time in the military will tell you, that a knife, any knife, is used most of the time as a "tool" for opening ammo crates, cutting-up all kinds of things and just a lot of general cutlery duties at the camp. The knife is rarely used as a combat weapon - but it does happen.
Like all Benchmade knives, the CSK II came hair-poppin' sharp out of the box, and I used the knife for two-weeks, for all manner of chores around the house, in the kitchen and on my small homestead. I only had to touch-up the blade once on a set of Lansky Crock Sticks. The blade was still sharp enough for most work. However, I find it best to touch-up a blade before they get too dull - makes for a quick job, instead of having to really work to put an edge back on a really dull blade. It only takes a minute or two, to touch-up a blade on some crock-sticks, instead of spending a lot of time trying to get a really dull knife back to a extra sharp condition. And, the 1095 carbon steel is easy to touch-up, no doubt about it. I find it much easier to sharpen than any of the stainless steels are.
There are other similarly designed blades on the market, that look very much like the Benchmade CSK II. However, remember, you are getting the Benchmade name on this blade, and backed-up with the limited lifetime warranty from Benchmade. You know when a product is stamped with the Benchmade name, that you are getting top-quality products.
I always like to save the best new for last, and that's the full-retail price on the CSK II - which is only $105. If you shop around on Amazon and other web sites, you can find the CSK II deeply discounted. However, even if you paid full-retail, you'd be getting one heck of a bargain if you ask me. I've been writing about Benchmade Knives for about 15 years now, and have never been disappointed by their products. I've toured their plant a couple of times, and I'm always amazed at all the work that goes into a Benchmade knife. They even have a machine there that produces screws for all their knives, in-house. How many places can boast of making all their own screws for their knives? Last time I was at Benchmade, they were running two shifts, and owner Les deAsis told me that they would run three shifts if only they could find enough qualified people. They are picky, and it pays off in the end for the company and the consumer.
If you're in the market for a new fixed blade knife that's priced right, and can handle just about anything you can throw at it, then check out the Benchmade CSK II. You'll like what you see. - Pat Cascio, SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor

As a physician I would like to share my experience in evaluating and treating concussions (mild Traumatic Brain Injury- mTBI) in military and civilian patients over the last 3 years. In this article concussion and mTBI refer to identical injuries. This is a very pertinent discussion at this time due to the recent unfortunate shooting incident in Afghanistan by a US Military soldier diagnosed with TBI (traumatic brain injury). The Rand Corporation estimates there are over 350,000 US military men and women suffering from concussions symptoms (mTBI) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from blast incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these wounded warriors are still trying to cope with their injured brain disabilities. Many are being redeployed after the diagnosis of TBI is made. They have not been able to return to a normal and productive lifestyle. In the civilian population concussions occur in more than 6 per 1,000 people each year. Common causes of civilian concussion are falls or blows to the head, motor vehicular accidents, bike accidents, sport injuries, or exposure to loud noises (explosion, etc). Most concussions (80-90%) resolve in a short period (7-10 days).

I was an active duty US Army physician from 1969 to 1971 and very familiar with military medicine. All of our recently treated concussed patients were months, some years, post concussion and still experiencing severe post concussion symptoms. One of my patients was a US Army Brig General concussed in Afghanistan by an IED explosion. His resulting concussion symptoms and cognitive impairment issues lasted for months before successful treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
In the past three years I have treated over 25 concussed (TBI) military patients for lingering concussion symptoms. I have been using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat these patients. None of these patients had life threatening head injuries. All had normal CT Scans/MRIs. Symptoms in these patients included cognitive impairment, loss of memory, headaches, depression, fatigue, anger and irritability, sleep disturbances, loss of multitasking and executive functions, and hypervigilance. All patients had successful results from HBOT therapy and either returned to full military duty, continued in school, or returned to full civilian employment.

The Department of Defense has developed criteria for the diagnosis of mTBI (Concussions) which must include one of the following

  1. Any period of loss of or decreased level of consciousness lasting less then 30 minutes
  2. Any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the injury lasting less than 24 hours after the event
  3. any alteration in mental state at the time of the injury such as confusion, disorientation, or slowed thinking lasting less than 24 hours
  4. transient neurological deficits (e.g. Weakness, loss of balance, change in vision, praxis, paresis or plegia, sensory loss, aphasia and
  5. Normal intracranial imaging.

All of our patients were previously treated by different agencies with medication only which gave them little or no relief in their disabling concussion symptoms. Our patients received a total of over 1400 HBOT treatments without any complications or adverse reactions.  Patients were all treated in a rigid hyperbaric oxygen chamber at 1.5 ATA (17ft) on 100% oxygen for 60 minutes. The hyperbaric mTBI protocol calls for a minimum of 40 treatments with up to 80 treatments if necessary. Treatment plans and the need for additional HBOT treatments are based upon the clearing of concussion symptoms and improvement in Neuropsychological (neurocognitive) (NP) testing.

Neurocognitive testing is used to evaluate the concussed patient’s post injury neurocognitive condition and track improvements made with HBOT therapy. Neurocognitive testing is an assessment tool that can be used to identify changes in a patient’s cognitive function and mood state as a result of some debilitating event. Neurocognitive testing has become the most important modality in management and determination of a full recovery in concussed patients. The military NP test used was the ANAM (Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics) test.

The ANAM was developed by the military to evaluate and follow the progress of TBI patients. A baseline NP test is performed before deployment with repeat testing following concussion injuries. During HBOT therapy the ANAM test is administered after each 20 HBOT treatments to document the progress and improvement in the injured brain. A different NP test is given to our civilian patients. All NP testing in done on an office computer and takes about 25 minutes. Report printouts are available immediately. These reports along with examination and discussions with the patient and family are used to determine if HBOT is indicated or needs to be continued.

There is controversy concerning the use of HBOT in the treatment of concussed patients. The majority of military mTBI patients are currently being treated primarily with prescription medications for their symptoms. Many of our military patients commented they were in a constant “brain fog” as a result of all the meds they were prescribed. They received sleeping pills if sleep was an issue, pain medication for headaches, antidepressants for depression, tranquilizers for anxiety and so forth. None of these medications treat the cause of TBI/PTSD which is the injured brain. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy through research and clinical use has demonstrated to be effective in repairing the injured brain. The current research is based upon both animal and human studies. There is a multitude of currently published medical literature demonstrating the benefit of HBOT in the treatment and repairing of injured brains.

Some of the criticisms in the use of HBOT treating concussions from different agencies are based upon the fact HBOT is not currently approved by the FDA in the specific treatment of mTBI. Many clinical studies are underway at this time studying the effectiveness of HBOT in the treatment of TBI/PTSD. The FDA will not approve procedures that are still in the clinical study mode. We as hyperbaric physicians have treated successfully hundreds of TBI/PTSD military personnel all with no adverse effects. HBOT is approved by the FDA to treat four types of brain injuries. These brain injuries include carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness (Bends), arterial gas embolism to the brain, and acute blindness from central retinal artery occlusion. We as Physicians are allowed to use treatment modalities not FDA approved as long as, first, we do no harm to the patient and there is benefit in the treatment. We as a group of Physicians believe it is a mistake to currently deny these thousands of brain injured military personnel treatments which have shown to be completely effective in treating successfully and permanently mTBI and PTSD. Most of us treating hyperbaric physicians have not been paid at all by the military or the VA for our services to these injured men and women. I believe I speak for the group that we perform this service because we know it works, we respect the military and what it stands for, and that our injured men and women deserve the most effective currently available treatment for their injuries after putting their life on the line for our country.

Dr. Paul Harch MD gave testimony to the US House of Representatives last year  pointing out that nearly all the medication being prescribed by Military Medicine and the Veterans Administration is being used “OFF-LABEL” as the standard of care for blast induced TBI and PTSD despite little or no research to support this prescribing. An estimated 120 combat Veterans per week or more than 10,000 overall have committed suicide according to the CDC numbers investigated by CBS News. The House Veteran Affairs Committee was told earlier that many of the suicides were related to the use of the FDA Black-Box drugs being use off-label  These drugs carry specific warnings about increased suicide rates

Our first mTBI military patients were treated with HBOT in 2009. The two Airmen were in an armored semi-truck when they were involved in an IED explosion in Iraq. Neither man lost consciousness but they were dazed and somewhat confused initially.  The both experienced the immediate onset of headaches. They were seen at an aid station later in the day, given acetaminophen, and returned to duty. Over a period of weeks these men began to experience debilitating concussive symptoms of severe headaches, memory loss, cognitive issues, anger/irritability issues and severe sleep disturbances. Upon returning to the US they were referred to our facility for HBOT by Col.(Dr) James Wright USAF Special Operations Command Surgeon and Board Certified Hyperbaric Physician.

Fortunately both men were given screening  neuropsychological tests (ANAM) before they deployed to Iraq. We were able to compare their post injury tests with the baseline NP tests. Post injury testing  revealed both men to be severely cognitively impaired from their concussions. Both men receive a series of HBOT treatments with NP testing after each 20 treatments. At the end of their HBOT treatments both men were completely free of all previous mTBI symptoms. Both airmen returned to their pre injury NP baseline scores after HBOT treatments. One man required 40 treatments and the other 80 HBOT treatments to return to their baseline NP scores. The Airmen are still on active duty. I recently spoke with both men and they are doing well without any concussion signs or symptoms. Col. Wright and I published a case report of these men in a major peer reviewed medical journal.  

There is a lot of attention currently in the press and on the Internet regarding our TBI wounded men and women. There is an ongoing study NBIRR (national brain injury rescue rehabilitation) sanctioned by the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) using HBOT in concussed patients. There are 12 hyperbaric centers in the USA involved with this study. This study is an unfunded study and all treating facilities are providing the HBOT treatments to our injury veterans on their “nickel”. This study can be accessed by searching on the Internet and clicking on the “” box.

Dr. Paul Harch, Dr. James Wright, Dr. Bill Duncan, Dr. Rob Beckman and former Secretary of the Army Martin Hoffmann are currently playing  key roles  pro bono in an attempt to obtain funding for HBOT treatments for our wounded warriors.  These men are meeting regularly with top Military officials and members of Congress in this attempt.  The Navy League ( recently released a video on the use of HBOT treating TBI in military men and women.   At the end of the video both the  Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant  of the Marine Corps acknowledge at a congressional hearing their support for the use of HBOT in treating their TBI injured personnel.         

Links to all publications, videos, references and military patient’s HBOT testimonials referred to in this article can be viewed at our web site,  I believe there may be a lot of response to this article. Some will be good, some may be critical.  The VA and military do offer a variety of other treatment modalities to our wounded TBI troops.  We believe the data and experience generated by the thousand of HBOT treatments used to successfully treat mTBI/PTSD warrants the acceptance by governmental agencies this method of treatment in our TBI/PTSD wounded men and women.

Respectfully, - Dr. Albert E. Zant MD (Eddie Zant MD)

Good Morning Jim,
I have to fill you in on this.  I spent the last three days in Ohio at Chuck Fenwick's (of Medical Corps / KIO3) Combat medicine class and just posted this on my Facebook page.
"I'm the president of I spent the last three days at Chuck Fenwick and Dave Turner's combat medicine class in Ohio and I highly recommend it. Check out the stuff we did, here. It was a great experience and I am so glad I got to meet some of the great people I did. We will also have some new medical/dental supplies on our site soon thanks to them. One real interesting part was sitting next to a 30-year veteran MD that confessed that she didn't know most of what she learned at the class and hadn't even sutured since medical school. Think about that!"
I met some great people from Chuck to Dave Turner, Tom Loomis (Dentist) Jean Paul, and others..  I highly recommend this class and hope to take his advanced class in July. 
So many things stick in my head and one is that I now feel competent at even taking care of my kids teeth such as a filling or extraction in a situation where the infrastructure has failed.
Thanks, - Tom

Thank you for all you do. I recently found SurvivalBlog, and have enjoyed it immensely!
I live close to Wiggy's [in Grand Junction, Colorado]so when I read about their Amazing Perpetual Light on SurvivalBlog, I thought I would give it a try. This morning, I purchased three of their 4”x6” mini size. They only weigh 10.84 grams, 10.85 grams, and 12.15 grams each (for comparison, about the same weight as the combined weight of 3 or 4 pre-1982 copper pennies).

I let them charge in the sun (it is actually mostly cloudy, and hailing) for 30 minutes, and took them into a dark closet. After waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark per the included instructions, the light from just one of them let me read 10 pt font just fine. The light from it is enough for me to see objects three feet away. It has been 1 hour since they were charged, and they are still glowing strong.
I will be buying more, and getting some of the bigger sizes. At first I was skeptical, but these really are amazing! (I am not affiliated with Wiggy's, just a happy customer! I bought and like their 0 degree sleeping bag too.) - Brandon L.

Mr. Rawles,
G.T. has some very good points regarding the feasibility of Alaska as a retreat locale.  Granted, the pros and cons of Alaska are almost as varied as such classic arguments as 9mm versus .45, and if I were there when TSHTF, I would probably beat feet for the American Redoubt as quickly as I could.  However, there are a couple areas of interest that his article did not touch on that may be relevant to the topic.

First is the feasibility of gardening.  It is true that for most of the state the summer is very short, as short as 2-to-3 months in some parts.  However, due to the high latitude of most of Alaska, those 2-to-3 months are a time when the sun never sets.  So, while the growing season may be very short, it's also 24 hours a day, so the plants will grow faster.  I did an internship with last summer with a missionary aviation group based in Soldotna, Alaska, and I was amazed by the number of people who had open air gardens and greenhouses in a region I had thought was impossible to garden.  I was also amazed by the number and variety of critters that many people kept on hand.  I'm not sure of the specifics of how they keep them alive through the winter, but many of the same people I saw gardening also had chickens and rabbits.  There were even a few ranches with everything from horses to alpacas.  I don't know how sustainable these ranches would be post-Schumer, but you could do a lot with only a few big animals.

As for hunting and subsistence, even in populated areas like Anchorage, game is pretty abundant.  It may or may not be able to sustain a population the size of Anchorage or Fairbanks, but in the Kenai/Soldotna area, they average almost a moose a day in traffic accidents.  I had a few close calls myself, and I was only there for two months.  Between commercial fishing of the Kenai River, and what residents put away for themselves, the number of salmon harvested was several million just on the Peninsula, and this is apparently sustainable, as the Alaskans fish the Kenai year after year.  Granted, that particular location is literally the best salmon fishing in the world, but there are other places in Alaska where one can still do well with rod, reel, or dip net.

Another thing I found out from a gent who ran an alternative energy/battery shop was how feasible it is to run a mostly solar power system in Alaska.  During the summer, there's sun aplenty, but I had thought that the long, dark winters would put solar plans to rest.  As it turns out, the colder Alaska gets, the more efficient solar generation becomes.  I was informed that, if you keep your batteries warm and your panels and wiring cold, the resistance in the wiring drops off so much that you can actually generate more power in the short cold days of November than you can in the longer, but much warmer days of September.  Granted, you would definitely want some other form of backup power to get you through the darkest days, but that particular vendor said that he had personally helped over a hundred households go completely off grid, mostly by solar, in the last several years.  This was all on the Kenai Peninsula on the southern coast of Alaska.  G.T. was right about microclimates varying across a state.  Alaska is huge. ( Most map projections don't give an accurate picture of it's true size.)  These principles of gardening and solar power very well may not be valid in other parts of the state, especially up in the interior, but on the Peninsula, they seem to hold true.  Just some food for thought. - John in Spokane

Drug-resistant "white plague" lurks among rich and poor. (Thanks to Michael W. for the link.)

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Jim W. recommended this thread over at ARF: Street robberies and you.

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Wood you believe it? The tent you pitch in the trees designed to help survivors of natural disasters. (Thanks to Kevin S. for the link.)

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I spotted this over at The Drudge Report: No Kugel for you! Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s homeless-gift ban

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Dumb & Dumber Faster & Furiouser: Gun-tracking operation caught top suspect, then let him go

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I've had a lot of feedback from readers about my post that describes the FBI's "cookie caper." I've posted just a few of those e-mails. (See below.)

SurvivalBlog's Editor James Wesley Rawles (JWR), lays out his arguments against choosing Alaska as a Retreat Locale in this static web page.

While I fully agree with him that Alaska is probably not a viable retreat destination for most people, for a variety of reasons it is precisely the area that my family has selected. We have a particular advantage here in that I'm a second generation backwoodsman and prospector, and I and my three sons have been prospecting in Alaska for 16 years, so we understand the various regions of Alaska and their strengths and weaknesses from a survival perspective. In the "Recommended Retreat Areas" page of your blog you've listed your specific reasons for rejecting Alaska, with a few of which I'd like to take issue.

The last thing that I want to do is produce a "land rush" to southeastern Alaska, so readers should understand that this approach is viable only for a highly experienced and close-knit small group that's carefully considered all the implications.

"A year ago, I heard one 'expert' on the radio recommend Alaska as a retreat destination because it has the lowest population density of any State, and has low taxes. IMHO, he couldn’t be more wrong!"

Not only has it low population density and low taxes, but also some of the least restrictive gun laws, home schooling laws, and zoning requirements of any State, with some of the least exposure to natural disasters. Alaska is earthquake-prone, but hasn't had a major one since the 1960s. Also, at least in the region to which we're relocating, vulnerable to forest fires and mega-tsunamis caused by landslides into the ocean (although not to ordinary tsunamis-- we're protected from that by barrier islands). Furthermore, the region of Alaska that we've selected is remote from "Golden Horde"-type activities. This is an aspect of survivalism that, IMHO, has received far too little attention. If it shows anything at all, then the Hurricane Katrina experience indicates that all communities within about 300 to 400+ miles of a major metropolitan area that gets hit with a significant disaster will be literally inundated with city-types, many of whom will be hardened gang-bangers of a kind that smaller communities are ill-equipped to deal with. Crime in the satellite cities of Houston, DFW, Memphis, and Birmingham in the aftermath of Katrina all registered significant upticks that were attributed predominantly to displaced New Orleanians.

"The biggest problem is that from an economic standpoint, Alaska is essentially a big offshore island. Many essential items are shipped or flown in."

Absolutely correct, with resulting higher prices. But as you'll see a little farther along, we'll be self-sufficient in food and power generation. Our major shortfall will be in clothing, but that will apply to everyone everywhere once the manufacturing and transportation networks shut down.

"Ironically, although it is the most lightly populated state, Alaska has the second highest crime rate in the country!"

In the area to which we intend to relocate-- the southeastern Panhandle-- people don't lock their houses or even their cars, and I've seen people go shopping while leaving expensive rifles in the rear window rack of an unlocked vehicle.

"There is insufficient refinery capacity to meet Alaska’s 'domestic' needs, and insufficient transport to get refined fuels where they are needed."

Absolutely correct. We therefore considered alcohol fuels, methane, wind power, water power, steam, solar-- and then we heard about wood gasifiers. We downloaded the free FEMA plans for a system, bought another from The Mother Earth News, and picked up a couple of others until we had a total of four. We're presently in the process of learning how to build a system from the plans, but it looks like we'll be able to generate enough power from wood chips to operate a house. This will require a wood chipper, a gasifier, and a gasoline generator to burn the wood gas and provide the electricity. Once we've got that system up and running we'll build a smaller unit to power our boat.

"In a long term collapse, the residents of Alaska's densely populated coastal cities will likely starve and/or freeze to death."

Unfortunately true. That's why we've chosen an island southeast of Ketchikan. Even near Anchorage, where land is much cheaper due to the government's sale of public lands, they've got a 6-month winter with nearly a foot of average snow cover lasting for 4 months, and average minimum temps Dec. thru Feb. of about 10º F. In the Ketchikan area they've got a three-month winter with the month of highest snowfall being January, with 2 to 3 inches of accumulated snow cover, and average minimum temperatures from Dec. thru Feb. of about 30º. Average accumulated snow in Dec. and Feb. is only about an inch. We won't freeze.

"Meanwhile, those in inland towns, albeit better fed, will be geographically isolated so that commerce with the coast will be difficult if not impossible."

In southeastern Alaska there are virtually no roads, so seasonal buckling of the roadbeds and consequent road maintenance aren't issues. Transport is by bush plane, or by boat. You're right that the planes will be grounded by lack of fuel, which will also depress boat traffic; but our power boat by the onset of TEOTWAWKI will be powered by a wood gasifier, which we also intend to make money by designing and building for paying customers. By then we also hope to have a sailboat. The question is whether or not by then we'll want to visit any of the cities, where things may be getting pretty desperate.

A SurvivalBlog Reader in Alaska Adds: "Even if land were available, most of it is inaccessible if you can't afford a helicopter or float plane."

True, but that doesn't apply in the southeastern portion of the state, where access is by boat.

"The economy of Alaska is driven by oil income and government spending, both of which would cease if the U.S. economy collapsed. There is very little local manufacturing... even most natives have lost the ability to live off the land..."

All true. In our region one of the main challenges is that most of the land consists of exposed bedrock, so that we'll have to do most of our gardening in raised beds. Eventually, if we have time before TSHTF, we'll cover these beds into greenhouses. A compensating advantage of this approach will be higher yields. Between this, keeping chickens and turkeys, and hunting and fishing, we'll be self-sufficient in food. Although your reader says that game isn't as plentiful as most people think, I've never gone more than a week without seeing deer, moose, bear, and other game, and usually a lot more frequently than that. Fish are even more plentiful. Feeding the gasifier with wood chips will be labor-intensive, which is why we'll invest in a powered wood chipper as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we have plenty of kids to make wood chips and keep the thing fed.

"Home heating is a huge expense in Alaska; $6,000 or more per winter for some households."

In southeastern Alaska, because of the Japan Current, the climate averages as mild or milder than where I presently live in Wichita, Kansas. You get only 4 to 8 weeks of what we in Kansas would call "summer", but you get much longer spring and fall seasons. 

The point is this: I know of an extended family of survivalists similar to ours that farms a secluded hollow in the mountains of W. Virginia, producing plenty of food to feed themselves with enough left over that they sell the surplus. They're 'way outside the States that you've recommended for preppers, but they're also far enough off the beaten track to be difficult to find, and they're better-prepared than 95% of the other preppers I've seen. In a TEOTWAWKI situation they'll do fine.
In almost any State, there are micro-climates and small-scale situations that make for suitable environments for survivalism. I'm sure that you'd be one of the first to agree, it's probably better to find and develop a situation in an area with which you're thoroughly familiar than to travel far afield looking for the mythical "ideal".

Thank you for creating your wonderful SurvivalBlog site; it is a much-needed voice of sanity in a world of foolishness and denial. We value your site for the shared experiences of your contributors and the working knowledge that many have volunteered. I hope we can also contribute in some small way, but maybe from a different perspective.

My wife and I have been full time live aboard boaters in the northeast for the last 20 years or so. The core tenants of prepping have always been near and dear to us - not just because we have a special interest in prepping, but because long distance sailors and other self-reliant mariners use the same pepper concepts, not just when the SHTF, but as constant concerns of every day life when underway.  Provisioning, access to potable water, communication, navigation, maintenance, weather, sanitation, protection from the elements, first aid, safety and physical security; expertise in all these areas is needed in order to remain self-reliant and maybe even to stay alive when cruising. The names and implementation for preppers and sailors may be different but the basic concepts are the same. For instance a preppers "G.O.O.D." bag is our "Ditch" (boat sinking) bag. Maybe we can share insights between our different prepper/cruiser cultures and learn from each other's experiences.

I'd also like to present a case that if you live near the coast in a congested area, then a well-found sailing vessel can represent an excellent bug out location, and in many ways it may be the only viable option for continued survival if some truly horrific event occurs. But first, let me give you an overview of where we live and some of the problems a typical prepper might face in our area.

The northeast where we reside is very crowded, with much of the population concentrated along the shore. In many ways it is a fragile place. Power is generated locally, but fuel and food have to be shipped in continually and the process can only be interrupted for a short amount of time. As far as I can tell none of the states in the region have any sort of rational, long-term emergency measures in place. Most of the people here, just like everywhere else it seems, do not have even a bare minimum of emergency supplies on hand. If some condition or event were to upset our delicate supply chain, electrical grid or communication system for more than even a few days, the resulting cascading "systems failures" would quickly convert our affluent and well ordered society into a chaotic, lawless place. Many of the cities here have rotting cores filled with thoughtless, brutal people, and these would be the first to take advantage of the situation. Concern would quickly give way to panic and even the typical law abiding citizen might be given to reckless and even irrational acts. The order of events in a severe emergency are not hard to imagine if you consider that most people would be living off of body fat and pond water within a few short weeks.

The fact of the matter is that there are just to many people here. You might be ready to bug out, but to where? The roads are often a congested mess even on a good day, let alone in an evacuation emergency (as an example, the Long Island Express is often affectionately referred to as "the longest parking lot in the world"). Unless you are in the northern parts of these north eastern states, such as upstate New York, your only other option would seem to be to bug in, not always the best option while the world is disintegrating around you.

So what could cause such a catastrophe? Many things, and readers of this blog probably already have a pretty good idea what they are. For me, a coronal mass ejection (CME) or a deliberate electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by a high altitude nuclear device heads the list of my nightmares; these are followed closely by a deliberate ground level nuclear event or a Category 5 hurricane hitting the coast (at high tide). Once the power goes out many of the nuclear reactors in the area, deprived of adequate cooling, would meltdown in the same fashion as Japans Fukushima Daiichi plant. This would poison vast areas of the most densely populated parts of our country. Deadly flu, economic collapse, social upheaval, loss of imported fuel - all seem tame in comparison, but experience has taught many of us never to underestimate the power of "chaos and cascading failures". Especially in power, communication and supply systems created to work as cheaply as possible but with little thought to resilience or redundancy.

Because of these challenges along any crowded coastline. I'd like to suggest that your readers consider a small sailing vessel as your bug out retreat. The greatest advantage is that you could get away in short order and with a minimum of sophisticated technology. The power of the wind can take you anywhere in the world. There are many cheap, capable smaller sailboats out there, but just as one example I'd like to present the sturdy little Pearson Triton. At 28 feet this is just about the smallest boat one can use for long distance cruising. Designed by the venerable Carl Alberg this well built little boat is fully capable of safely crossing an ocean (if not quickly or comfortably), and is small enough that it can even be rowed under dead calm conditions. 750 Tritons were made in the 1950s and 1960s and most are still around. In almost every way these "classic plastic" boats are much better than their contemporary counterparts and much less expensive too. In good condition with useable sails and a fairly new diesel engine the Triton can be had for $8,000 to $10,000 USD and sometimes much less. Maintenance, dockage and haul outs might be another $4,000 a year. This isn't chump change, but it is still much less than a land-based bug out retreat in this area.

So when and how do we use your little bug out boat? Well that depends. If the power is out and is not going to come back on as with a CME or EMP then you would have little choice other than to leave, and the sooner the better. If emergency conditions are less severe, then your choice of whether to leave or not may not be so simple. You can always stay on the boat until things settle out, one way or another. You don't have to leave on an impulse, after all the open ocean can be an uncompromising taskmaster especially to the novice sailor. But at least you can leave when you want. Just as a side issue, a small sailboat like the Triton can be great fun to sail even if the world is not coming to an end.

So how would you prepare your little Triton for TEOTWAWKI and how might the order of events unfold? Lets run through a possible scenario. Imagine that one morning there was an impossibly bright spark in the southern sky and now nothing works. The power is off and the car wont run, even the radio is dead. The neighbors are all scratching their heads in confusion, where you understand what just happened along with the grave implications. You and your family fill your backpacks with essentials and then peddle your bicycles like crazy heading to the marina where the boat is kept. Once there you set your priorities and prepare to bug out.

First and foremost, the greatest overriding concern for all small cruisers (and preppers in general) is availability of potable water. Your little ship only carries 20 gallons of fresh water in an internal tank, supplies for a few days at best. On deck you lash an other half a dozen or so 5 gallon plastic jerry jugs, this is the tried and true method used by all small boat cruisers. Still not enough water, every drop counts. The wife sends the kids up to raid the trash for any other bottles, cans or buckets, anything that can hold water including ziploc bags and trash bags. You'll sterilize everything later with bleach once you are underway. Finally fill the cockpit, bilge and galley sinks; even fill your old sea boots with fresh water. Better a pair of wet feet than a dry mouth. The scuppers (deck drains) have already been rigged to collect rainwater, but you can't count on a rainy day to save your life.

At the beginning of the season you squirreled away dozens of cans of food in the bilge, but what exactly is down there now is a bit of a mystery, as the water and high humidity have freed up and dissolved away all the labels. No matter, the calories are still in there, even if you are not really sure what is what. You'll have some interesting meals ahead, and not just because of the anonymous cans in the hold. There is almost always something to eat in and around the sea, especially in the biologically rich northern waters. Most people only think in terms of game fish like striped bass or bluefish, but for every large fish there are a hundred smaller ones. We are also surrounded by dozens of types of "unconventional" protein. Crabs, shrimp, clams, snails and other mollusks, as well as sea grass and seaweeds are all edible - palatability is another matter. Just remember, hunger is the best sauce. How about Minnows with rice and seaweed anyone?  A seining net and simple hook and line fishing gear are cheap and essential.

Food and water - check, now for security. Instead of buying something like a single AR-15 you spent your gun budget on three AR-7s. This is the survival rife that you first read about as a kid. The barrel, receiver and even two 8 round magazines all stow within the stock, and most of the parts are even Teflon coated, a great plus on a small boat in a salty ocean. When you first picked them up you thought that maybe the gun dealer was playing a trick on you. Each gun weights only two and a half pounds and is a little over 19 inches long when the parts are stored in the stock. The AR-7 looks a bit like a toy but it will kill just like any other .22 rimfire gun. Chambered in .22 LR, you can hold a thousand boxed up rounds in the palm of your hand and those thousand rounds are easy to stow in a watertight container. (Now just where did you put that spare ammo?). The philosophy here is that three small semi auto weapons firing at close range will trump a single weapon of higher caliber. Longer-range weapons would also be much less of an advantage while pitching and rolling about in the open ocean. Frankly, anything beats fending off desperate pirates with a boat hook and harsh language. [JWR Adds: Another advantage of the AR-7 is that it is is one of the few guns that float if it is dropped in the water.]

Suitable clothing and foul weather gear are already stored aboard and the meds kit is ready including a good selection of fish antibiotics and a minor surgery kit. You are ready to go (a relative term), but go where? Your first thought is to head toward Bermuda. At 700 nautical miles away it is relatively close. But on second thought, perhaps not. An EMP powerful enough to take out the eastern seaboard would probably get Bermuda as well. Maybe you could head north. The Canadian Maritimes are far enough away that the power is probably still on. There is only one problem, if the nuclear reactors along the eastern seaboard begin to meltdown, then he prevailing winds will carry this nuclear material to the northeast. You would be sailing into clouds of radioactive smoke and dust. The wife consults the Pilot chart for the north Atlantic and places her finger on a tiny dot that is two thirds of the to the way to Europe. "The Azores? That's over 2,000 nautical miles away!" You give her a sick grin. The GPS is properly packed away in a shielded box, but if it didn't make it you'll have to find your way using the sextant (and luck). Many of the GPS satellites have probably been destroyed in any case. "How is your celestial [navigation]?" you ask. "About as good as yours," the wife replies, with the same sick grin. Celestial navigation is not one of our competencies and we don't even have a working timepiece in any case. "Well, you always wanted to have a sailing adventure" the wife continues.  True, but this isn't exactly want you had in mind.

Can you let your readers know what the names, identifying characteristics, and other information is that we can use to check and see if we have the FBI installed cookies on our machines? Thanks, - J.V.

Web Forensics Expert Mr. X. Replies: First let me explain how to look for cookies.  The easiest way IMHO (there is more than one way to skin a cat, my favorite method involves using high-pressure air...) because it is easy and anybody can do it with little or no chance of [accidentally] nuking their own machine:

In Internet Explorer, go into the File --> Import and Export setting.  You are given a choice of three actions - import from another browse, import from a file, or export to a file.  Choose export to a file and hit "next."  You are given three options to export -- favorites, feeds, and cookies.  Export cookies by selecting the box and clicking next.  Save the file in a location that you can then find.

When you open the file all of the cookies you've used will show up.  And since its a text file it is searchable.  You can do a search on "FBI" ... I did this and found:    TRUE    /    FALSE    1394696342    __utma    158289773.903355577.1331260742.1331260742.1331260742.1    TRUE    /    FALSE    1331626142    __utmb    158289773.3.10.1331260742    TRUE    /    FALSE    1347392342    __utmz|utmccn=(referral)|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/search/web

So what this tells you is that there is a tracking cookie from the FBI on your machine.  In this case this tracking cookie comes from (see the last line) which is a search engine that I use frequently.  The problem is that you never know what they will call their cookies.  The aforementioned example has nothing to do with your web site at all.  And I've picked up in the past few hours since its Monday here (I scrub down each weekend) just doing searches for topics at work.

There is a similar method in Firefox but given the number of add-ons for Firefox and the different platforms it is on putting directions for each possible combination in would just confuse most people. 

To eliminate the cookies and history you do that via the Tools --> Internet Options option and check off the "Delete Browsing History On Exit" box and/or hit the "Delete" button in the same space (should be on the opening tab of the Internet Options). 

Yes, the only reason I noticed this was because they have not done anything to try to hide what they are doing.  So the obvious stuff is well pretty darn obvious.

There are tools out there like Spybot Search and Destroy that will automatically eliminate the bulk of "bad" tracking cookies that are hidden as well.  There are a number of things you can do to scrub your machine and get very paranoid about your browsing but they are not things that most people should do simply because if you don't know what you are doing you have a good chance of [inadvertently] nuking your machine. 


I read your blog post about the FBI's cookie caper and it brought to mind an overview article about The Onion Router (Tor) that I came across a while back

Here is a quote from the Tor web site:

Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.
Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. Tor's hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.
Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they're in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they're working with that organization.
Groups such as Indymedia recommend Tor for safeguarding their members' online privacy and security. Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online. Corporations use Tor as a safe way to conduct competitive analysis, and to protect sensitive procurement patterns from eavesdroppers. They also use it to replace traditional VPNs, which reveal the exact amount and timing of communication. Which locations have employees working late? Which locations have employees consulting job-hunting websites? Which research divisions are communicating with the company's patent lawyers?
A branch of the U.S. Navy uses Tor for open source intelligence gathering, and one of its teams used Tor while deployed in the Middle East recently. Law enforcement uses Tor for visiting or surveilling web sites without leaving government IP addresses in their web logs, and for security during sting operations.
The variety of people who use Tor is actually part of what makes it so secure. Tor hides you among the other users on the network, so the more populous and diverse the user base for Tor is, the more your anonymity will be protected.

Regards, - D.D.


James Wesley:
Thanks for the post on the FBI cookie caper.  It is distressing, but enlightening about the times we live in.

I'm writing about your change of heart on posting the foresee-alive.js script.  The FBI posts this code on their site. It is available here.

I thought that link might be helpful to some.  I guess maybe those people that are savvy enough to read the script and interpret the code are probably already savvy enough to find it on their own, but I thought just in case I would send this on to you.

Also, I agree with your decision that it's probably wise to not post the code directly, but I believe that since they did not post any copyright information it is therefore public domain like any other government publication.  Otherwise, they would have to indicate it as a protected work from an outside party.  But that's my non-professional opinion, and "you're the doctor" as they say.

Thanks for keeping the flame of freedom burning! - B.C.


Dear Mr Rawles;
I read your announcement about "The FBI's Cookie Caper and the VPN Imperative". Thanks very much for your candor. However, I believe some of your information is mistaken or missing. Here are the most important points I saw:

Disabling cookies will not remove others' ability to track you. At best, disabling cookies only makes it a little harder. There are plenty of other ways to track you, including data collection and silent install of malware on your computer to record your keystrokes. Here is an example.

Using a paid VPN does not ensure your security. Here is a good explanation as to why this is true.
A better solution is to use The Onion Router (Tor) and/or Tails and their associated applications. There is also Orbot, an Android app to allow Tor Anonymity browsing on an Android phone. I have and use these. Granted, they are not always the simplest in terms of user friendliness, but once set up they should rarely need changes due to their structure. The Tor Browser, however, is about as simple as it gets on the web.

Not all of the listed browsers are safe to use. Some are outdated (Netscape), and others are inherently flawed from a security standpoint (such as Internet Explorer). More importantly, only two that I know of offer Anonymous Browsing - Firefox and Chrome. Please add the Tor Browser to this list, which is by far the best method for anonymous browsing available to the average user. [has a working encrypted https address, but] is not yet HTTPS Everywhere enabled. This means that even if the visitor is using the Tor network, traffic between a Tor server and is still unencrypted, and vulnerable to spying and/or attack. Please join the HTTPS Everywhere project.

Much of this may sound like an advertisement for the Tor Project, but the reason for that is that the Tor Project is the best method I have found to secure your privacy online, if used properly. (Never identify yourself on the Tor Network.)

Thanks for your consideration in these matters. Sincerely, - I Am John Galt   


Dear Mr. Rawles,
I just took your advice on setting up a VPN.  I have been using an anonymizing proxy for some time and living with the speed decrease, but it's just so easy to turn it off for something and then forget to turn it back on.  At any rate, I went looking for a VPN provider that is (A) domestic and (B) accepts bitcoin.  It's just one less way to be trackable since the payments won't show up on any bank or credit card statement.

At any rate, I found one: based in Chicago, I am now using CamoList VPN and have had a very nice conversation with the proprietor about bitcoin.  Service is $5 a month.  Bandwidth is up to 5 mbps, but that actually doesn't matter to me since I live in the boonies and have to make do with 1 mbps on my end.  Just thought I'd pass this along for anyone else who might be interested. - Buckaroo

Cadet D. sent this: The Four Biggest Downside Risks To The Global Economy: Nouriel Roubini

CBO: Exploding debt under Obama policies. The article begins: "The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that President Barack Obama’s tax and spending policies will yield $6.4 trillion in deficits over the next decade, more than double the shortfall in CBO’s own fiscal baseline — even after taking credit for reduced war costs.

G.G. suggested this, over at Jesse's Café Américain: Episodes of Hyperinflation from Diocletian to Bernanke - How It Might Unfold Today

The U.S. Economy Is Running On Borrowed Money and On Borrowed Time
Do They Ring A Tinker Bell When Stock Market Indices Reach A Top?

Linda U. sent this news link from Wyoming: Fear & reloading: More people are buying guns amid worries about Obama's re-election and predictions of the world's impending doom.

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Mary F. liked this piece, which she described as "Prepping as performance art": Building a Better Apocalypse

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Ulysses Press (one of my publishers) sent me an update on the printing history for "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse". I was amazed to see that there are now 122,000 copies in print:
Nov. 2011 -    20,000 copies
Apr. 2011 -    24,000 copies
Aug. 2010 -   18,000 copies
Sept. 2009 -  12,000 copies
May 2009 -   8,000 copies
Apr. 2009 -    20,000 copies
Mar. 2009 -    11,000 copies
Feb. 2009 -    9,000 copies

(For comparison, a typical American novel sells between 5,000 to 10,000 copies before going out of print in less than a year.) It is now obvious that there will have to be at least one more printing of "Patriots" before my third novel (titled "Founders") is released in October, 2012 by the Atria Books Division of Simon & Schuster.

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Greg P. mentioned this fascinating invention: Chumby co-founder designs open-source Geiger counter

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Eric Holder 1995 Video: "...really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way". (Thanks to The MSIV for the link.)

"Steel is Strong because it Knows the Hammer and White Heat." - Johnny Cash, These Things Shall Pass

Monday, March 19, 2012

It has come to my attention that from August of 2011 to November of 2011, the FBI secretly redirected the web traffic of more than 10% of SurvivalBlog's US visitors through CJIS, their sprawling data center situated on 900 acres, 10 miles from Clarksburg, West Virginia. There, the Feebees surreptitiously collected the IP addresses of my site visitors. In all, 4,906 of 35,494 selected connections ended up going to or through the FBI servers. (Note that this happened several months before we moved our primary server to Sweden.) Furthermore, we discovered that the FBI attached a long-lived cookie that allowed them to track the sites that readers subsequently visited. I suspect that the FBI has done the same to hundreds of other web sites. I find this situation totally abhorrent, and contrary to the letter of 4th Amendment as well as the intent of our Founding Fathers.

I recognize that I am making this announcement at the risk of losing some readers. So be it. But I felt compelled to tell my readers immediately, because it was the honorable and forthright course of action.

Working on my behalf, some volunteer web forensics experts dissected some cached version histories. (Just about everything is available on the Internet, and the footprints and cookie crumb trails that you leave are essentially there for a lifetime.) The volunteers found that the bulk of the FBI redirects were selected because of a reader's association with "Intellectual Property" infringing sites like the now defunct Megaupload.  But once redirected, you were assigned a cookie.  However, some of these were direct connections to the SurvivalBlog site (around 4% of the total.) So if they had kept this practice up long enough and if you visited us enough times then the FBI's computers would have given you a cookie. This has been verified with sniffer software.

Bad Cop, No Donuts Cookies

For your privacy, I strongly recommend that you disable cookies when web browsing. Here are some detailed instructions on how to do so for the most popular web browsers:

But beyond that, more must be done to protect your privacy. You need to be proactive.

Install and Use VPN!

I am now imploring all SurvivalBlog readers to immediately install and use Virtual Private Network (VPN) on their computers. This will allow you to surf the Internet anonymously. Anyone that tries to track web site visitors e-mails will see your visit as originating from one of dozens of anonymous URLs in Europe, or elsewhere in the United States. (With most VPN services, you may pick the city of your choice.) With VPN active, your connection to the Web is "tunneled", emerging at a far-distant IP address, and it it would be very difficult to track back to your home IP address. Setting up VPN takes just a few minute to accomplish. Once installed, you can set VPN to turn on automatically by default when you start your PC, Mac, or Linux computer. Most VPN providers charge $5 to $20 per month. You can toggle off VPN with the click of your mouse. (You will find this necessary if you visit any of the few web site that disallow overseas IP addresses, such as Netflix). But I recommend that you leave VPN turned on, as much as possible. Set it up to turn on each time that you start up your computer. It is crucial that you use VPN whenever you visit web sites, blogs, and forums that are deemed politically incorrect, or whenever you purchase storage food or firearms accessories on the Web. For those of you that are not tech savvy, ask a friend or relative under age 25 to set up VPN for you. It is not difficult.

Some recommended VPN service providers include:

  • StrongVPN ($55 to $240 per year. One of the most flexible in reassigning the far end of your tunnel on the fly. Superior speed.)
  • 12VPN ($79 per year.)
  • AceVPN ($55 per year. A bare bones service, but one of the least expensive.)
  • VPNHQ. ($84 per year.)
  • PureVPN. ($75 per year for their basic service.)

(Some reviews of the various services are available here. )

Note that some of the lower cost services might see your connection speed suffer. Your Internet connect will seem noticeably slower than using your original ISP, alone.

It is my hope that in the next two months SurvivalBlog's site visit map will shift substantially, giving the appearance that most of my readership has moved to Switzerland. Say "Ein Glück, dass wir den los sind" to the FBI's snooping! It would warm my heart to soon see SurvivalBlog ranked as one of the most popular web sites for readers with Swiss IP addresses.

Beyond VPN

Because government agencies have access to lots and lots of computing power, VPN is not completely impenetrable. It is vulnerable to penetration during the key exchange phase. With the resources available to a state actor, sniffing the entirety of the traffic into and out of a web site is trivial these days. (They can use massively scalable horizontally-scaled virtual sniffers -- i.e. using a visualization engine and a template they can keep adding more virtualized instances of a windows or Linux based sniffer program and not even impact the performance of the connections.) I believe that the next loop of the threat spiral in the privacy wars will be Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). But I must clarify that this will become important only for the most high profile media commentators, bloggers, and activists. This is because all the spook legions with all of the mainframe computers in the world simply cannot backtrack everyone's VPN tunnels. (And, as VPN becomes more and more popular, this supposed goal will become even more elusive.) And if you are high profile, don't worry. Some very bright people are already working on QKD. Stay tuned.

Our Liberty is Stake

I want apologize for the cost, inconvenience and time required in implementing the foregoing security measures. But you can sleep a little better, knowing that you've added a layer of anonymity to your Internet presence. We need to recognize that the early 21st Century is a delicate time for individual liberty. Technology is leapfrogging while at the same time databases are filling at an alarming rate. These databases could provide dossiers on demand, for nefarious purposes. How you vote and how you "vote with your feet" (physically or virtually) are both of tremendous importance. Pray hard. Choose wisely. Act accordingly.

P.S.: For those who are web software savvy, I had originally planned to post the latest version of the actual "foresee-alive.js" Javascript code that the FBI used to attach the cookies. But then it was pointed out to me that ironically, revealing this might constitute copyright infringement, opening me up to a intellectual property lawsuit. That has an odd sort of irony that got me thinking. This predicament somehow dovetails with two bits of history. The first instance is from the First World War: I have read that the U.S. Government paid patent license fees to Mauser before and during the hostilities of the Great War with Imperial Germany. This was because the M1903 Springfield rifle was correctly adjudged a patent infringement on the Mauser Model 1898. During the war, the patent payments continued, conveniently handled by Swiss bankers, acting as middlemen. The U.S. taxpayers paid Mauser of Germany about $1 per rifle plus additional penalties that would have eventually totaled $250,000 USD, up until the U.S. entered the war. It has also been rumored that some payments continued to arrive even after the U.S. Congress declared war on the Kaiser's Germany. (We'll have to wait for the release of Jon Speed's next Mauser book to read the details.) This historical tidbit is just once notch below what happened two decades later when Germany's Nazi regime had the temerity to sell full fare train tickets to some Jews, to cover the costs of their forced relocation to the designated ghettos before their planned extermination. Oh, but the Nazi bureaucrats were so conciliatory. They only charged children half fare to be sent to their deaths. (If you doubt this, then read the book Fathoming the Holocaust by Ronald J. Berger.)

I like the AK platform, but I've never liked the standard military issue stock.  I'm too tall, and the shape of it means I can't get my head low enough for a good sight picture, so I have to scrunch and contort to shoot.

ATI sent me their AK-47 Strikeforce Stock Package to try.  I've heard criticism of their products over the years, but, while I've made some of my own regarding functional details, I've never had a problem with their workmanship or reliability.

The instructions are clear, and you should pay attention to them.  The lower handguard, for example, goes on slightly differently from the factory guard.  They're easy enough to follow, and an Allen wrench, Phillips and Torx screwdrivers are all that are needed for installation.

The buttstock assembly bolted right in place.  Due to variances in manufacture, you may need to shim the receiver tang slightly.  The stock is made of  DuPont® Extreme Temperature Glass Reinforced Polymer, and feels solid.  The castle nut is steel, not cheap aluminum.  There is a locking tang to prevent the tube from rotating loose.

With the six-position stock collapsed, it has the same length of pull as the factory AK stock, but, I was able to get a much more comfortable cheek weld and stance.  Two clicks out was a perfect, comfortable fit, leaving four more clicks for people even taller than me. (I have 1.5" extensions on my AR15A2 stocks, for reference.)  There is a cheek rest with stick on rubber padding, but I didn't need it.  The cheek rest attaches with four screws. The AK isn't a hard recoiling gun, but it can be a bit brisk with the metal buttplate and mount angle.  The recoil pad is just thick enough to take out any bite.  The rubber material is made by 3M.

The grip is large and comfortable.  The backstrap is cushioned, and the finger grooves felt right.  My finger pad dropped exactly onto the trigger.

There are rail sections for the upper and lower handguards, that install with screws.  If you decide not to install them, there are covers for the slots, that insert easily, remain in place, but remove from inside without difficulty.

Once set up, the rifle was easy, almost instinctive to handle and mount, balanced better and shot great.  Furniture can't directly improve accuracy, but operator comfort and handling certainly does.

Criticisms:  The lower handguard was very tough to get in place.  I've seen this before with ATI products, though I don't know if there's a fix.  Snug is good, and increases strength and reliability.  Just be advised you may have to work at it to get it in place.

The grip was comfortable for me, but may be overly large for some small shooters.  I'd also like to see the internal space exploited for storage. 

The stock assembly should have a somewhat heavier screw, in my opinion.  The single 8-32 seems a bit light.  A 12-24 at least would be my recommendation, or a 6mm x 1mm.

If I were to offer one improvement, that empty buffer tube should have a plug or screw thread at the rear, so it can be used for storage.  It's right there, waiting.

If you like the AK, but are a taller shooter, this may be exactly the accessory kit for you.  It looked a bit odd at first, but I'm quickly getting used to it, and plan to leave it on one of my AKs for the future.

The kit retails at $144.99, or, if you prefer to buy just the stock, the MSRP is $79.99, on par with most six- position stocks.  Both are available discounted at several outlets.

ATI Stocks are made in the USA.

Disclosure:  ATI furnished me the stock set through a promotional firm for test and evaluation.  It is understood that I keep this sample, regardless of the review I write, and that I offer feedback on any problems I identify.

- Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large

Rabies – a legitimate concern or fear-mongering? 
As I watch my pet Golden Retriever "Doodles" cautiously sniff at the curb sewer, I believe the threat is real.  A family of raccoons lives in the sewer pipes, and just a few months ago a local dog died of raccoon rabies.  Could my children be next?

Ohio is on the frontier of raccoon rabies, but despite yearly aerial and ground baiting programs for oral rabies vaccination, the uniformly lethal infection is moving westward.  Bat rabies, the other common threat, is distributed more evenly across the United States.  (If you’re wondering about your own state, check out the maps at Rabid Raccoons Reported in the United States during 2010 and Rabid Bats Reported in the United States during 2010

Odds are you’re unaware of anyone who’s died of rabies. That might not be the case if you live in India.  In the U.S., human rabies is so rare that every case is investigated by the CDC (only 2–4 per year). In India, annual deaths top 20,000, with someone dying of rabies every 30 minutes. (Read this article.) This is largely due to under-vaccination of the dog population.  Per the World Health Organization, 15 million people worldwide are treated with post-exposure vaccination, which is estimated to prevent 327,000 rabies deaths annually.

So what would happen in America if the vaccine became unavailable and the population of stray dogs exploded? This could well occur in a true end-of-life-as-we-know-it scenario.  Though our population density is not that of India, clearly the number of cases would skyrocket. 

The next logical question is: what can be done about it?  Avoiding contact with bats, raccoons, wild canines, skunks, and suspicious dogs is obviously indicated.  Even pacifists may be motivated to acquire a gun and the knowledge to use one safely.  Clearly you should vaccinate pets and other domestic animals now

But what about pre-exposure vaccination in humans?  This is already recommended for veterinary students, spelunkers, and travelers to endemic regions where dog contact is likely.  In 2009 a Virginia physician diagnosed his own subsequently fatal case of rabies a few months after returning from India – and without suspicious animal exposure! His agonizing end is detailed at the CDC web site

If you ask your family doctor whether you should be vaccinated against rabies in case of widespread disaster, the answer will likely be no.  At a cost of up to $800 for the series of three shots, your insurance is unlikely to cover immunizations without a clear indication. However, if you visit a travel clinic, perhaps at your local health department, you may be able to obtain the vaccine, especially if you fall into one of the high risk categories mentioned above.  The low-risk state of Indiana has a nice summary regarding vaccination on their web site. Your own state should offer something similar, or read the CDC’s guidelines on Human Rabies Prevention.

If you do desire vaccination, how long is immunity expected to last?  Unfortunately only a few years.  Current recommendations for those at high-risk include blood testing for effective immunity every 2-3 years, followed by re-vaccination if titers are low. (Pets simply receive repeat vaccination.)

I have also investigated the question of using canine rabies vaccination on humans.  This has not been tested and likely never will be.  I expect the likelihood of allergic reaction might be increased.  However, per the doctors I consulted, they felt canine rabies vaccine has a good chance of effectiveness in humans.  If I were bitten by a bat or suspicious raccoon, skunk, or dog, and the only thing I had available was animal vaccine, I would certainly use it.  Curiously, some states, including Ohio, allow purchase of veterinary rabies vaccine by non-medical personnel, although most states limit sale to veterinarians only. The same dose is used for dogs of all sizes, with twice as much administered to horses.

So where does this leave us?  As a family physician, stockpiling human rabies vaccine is cost-prohibitive.  On the other hand, at $20/dose, stockpiling dog rabies vaccine is a consideration, both for professionals and laymen.  Vaccines do require refrigeration and commonly list a shelf-life of only a year or two, but having something on hand may be preferable to having nothing.  

While I cannot offer a one-size-fits-all answer on this topic, rabies vaccination is a valid question for serious preppers.

Dr. Koelker is the SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor and hosts the popular medical prepping site   

James Wesley:
It has been said that you can boil a frog to death by putting it in a pan of water then putting the pan over a burner. However, if you drop the frog into a pan of boiling water, it will instantly jump out. I’ve never tried this experiment, but the metaphor for The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) seems appropriate.

Too many of us fit the first scenario. We’re “comfortable,” even though we recognize that the water is getting hotter and hotter. By the time we realize it is way too hot, it will be too late.

Many Preppers fixate on threshold events that will usher in TEOTWAWKI overnight. Whether asteroid impacts, super-volcanoes, or electro-magnetic pulses, we find the romance of extreme events irresistible. We imagine what we will do to survive when the lights don’t light, the faucets don’t flow, or there are marauders in our front yard. And, what if it is an even more likely event such as martial law (e.g.: New Orleans in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath) where U.S. soldiers arrive to confiscate your firearms or to tell you that your home has been commandeered?

These are exciting things to ponder, but the greatest threats are on our doorsteps right now. Hyperinflation, for example, doesn’t happen overnight, it starts with creeping inflation. The government says that inflation at this time (March, 2012) is about three percent, but anyone who buys groceries, pays rent, or puts fuel in their cars knows better. Look at the cost of peanut butter (and the size of the container) today compared to the same time last year. Hyperinflation is just one TEOTWAWKI journey that we are already starting.

Preparation is a wonderful philosophy. “Be Prepared” is the Boy Scout Motto. The part we often miss, however, is what we could be doing to avoid catastrophic events in the first place. We can’t stop a comet impact, an EMP, or a super volcano, but we can influence the affairs that lead to even more likely TEOTWAWKI events.

Are you involved in community affairs? Think of your school, church, and local government as your redoubt community. Do whatever you can by participating to keep your community strong.  Something as simple as organizing a community watch program for your neighborhood might keep the bad guys away from your door right now and make more extreme threats less likely.

The same principle applies to Federal government issues. Study the issues, understand the implications, and make your best efforts to keep our republic on a course away from TEOTWAWKI. It matters little whether you are Democrat or Republican, Liberal, Conservative, or Libertarian. Common sense is the standard.

Pay attention! And notice that the “World as We Know It” today is nothing like we knew even 10 years ago. We can only keep from boiling to death by turning off the fire or jumping out. Jumping out is a tough option that might work for dedicated preppers, but is awfully drastic unless there is no alternative. Let’s work on turning off, or, at least, turning down the fire. - K.L.F.

Notutopia's One Pot Beefy Mac N' Cheese

(Serves 6)


1 lb. lean ground meat
1/8th cup dried diced onions
pinch of garlic powder
1 T parsley flakes
salt and pepper
1 lb. elbow macaroni or egg noodles
1 8oz. can Bega cheddar cheese cut in small 1/4 inch cubes, or 1/2 cup
of cheddar cheese powder


In a 4 quart pot with a tight fitting lid, fry the ground meat with onions, seasonings and parsley flakes, until meat is browned. Do not drain oil from the meat. Add 5 cups of water to the meat mixture and bring to a rapid boil. Add the pasta, stir well and boil for 5 minutes. Cover the pot and turn off the burner. Allow the pasta to continue cooking and expanding and do not open the cover. In 10 minutes, open the cover, and stir in the cheese until melted. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

"Cabinetman" over at The FALFiles Forums recommended this traditional cookbook: Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking published by J.G. Ferguson and Associates Chicago, 1953. Cabinetman's description: "There’s a 77 page index to give you an idea of how comprehensive this book is. I can’t stress enough how valuable this book would become during as SHTF situation because it provides many alternatives to traditional cooking techniques as opposed to modern cookbooks which rely on microwaves and electronics and a lot of pre-packaged ingredients. In this book you start with picking the veggies from the garden, getting the feathers off a newly dispatched broiler, or carving up an elk. However, she also details more modern ingredients that may be frozen or butchered at a shop. It’s not a cookbook full only of rustic techniques but both old and newer ones. They are most certainly techniques that will help you adjust to a less-modern way of feeding a family."

Reader Lee M. mentioned that there are some great recipes posted in the discussion forums at the Mrs. Survival web site.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

With the stroke of BHO's pen on a Friday evening (after most of the newsies went home for the weekend), all pretension of a free civil economy in the U.S. have been discarded. Read this: National Defense Resources Preparedness. In essence, if they want it, they can now take it. Under this executive order, all segments of the economy have been been put on a war footing, and unprecedented Federal power has been established, without the consent of congress. Refer to Section 201 (b), and you will see that the order applies to both emergency and non-emergency conditions. Under the terms of this fiat, anything and everything can be "allocated," by executive decree. Reader Christopher C. wrote to mention that beyond simply taking the authority to seize food commodities, this executive order also includes: Section 502 which says they can make you work for the government without compensation, Section 302 which gives Department heads the ability to take loans without approval from congress, and Section 804 which removes our right to sue the government for the return of or compensation for what they steal from us under this executive order. [JWR Notes: There is a lot to dislike and perhaps fear in President Bolt Hold Open's new decree. To explain: I sometimes jokingly refer to Barack Hussein Obama as "President Bolt Hold Open" because they both share the same acronym (BHO.) I think that Bolt Hold Open is a fitting moniker for our sitting President, because a rifle Bolt Hold Open lever is: A.) An Obstruction. B.) Only useful and noticed after the real work has been completed by another apparatus, and C.) A reminder that best is behind us, and that the fun won't resume until Bolt Hold Open is slapped and disengaged. Coincidentally, the word ABHORRENT includes BHO.]

The power of compounding interest: Children born today will inherent a per capita share of the national debt exceeding $1.5 million, a new study reveals. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

F.G. sent this: In Sweden, cash is king no more

Michael Pollaro, writing in Forbes: Money Supply booming, seeds of the next Greater Recession

Items from The Economatrix:

Doomsday Survey:  51% of Americans Believe A Financial Collapse Is Imminent

Time To Accumulate Gold & Silver

Five Charts That Prove We're In A Depression And That The Federal Reserve And D.C. Are Wasting Money

The Varkman sent a picture that tells a thousand words: This is why astronomers build telescopes in the mountains of Chile. (Looking at the map, you can see why I prefer the western U.S. of A. for retreat locales. The relative lack of light pollution in The American Redoubt region shows just how lightly populated it is here. OBTW, here's a direct link to the large .PNG image.

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Avalanche Lily alerted me to this: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

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For those that were captivated by my recent mention of the Battle of Athens (Tennessee, 1946), SurvivalBlog Timothy R. mentioned this site, for further reading.

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Reader Mike Q. wrote to remind me that the movie Atlas Shrugged: Part One is now available on Netflix.

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Veteran contributor R.B.S. sent this, just for fun: A whale of a story that became a legend. (Yes, there is such a thing as using too much dynamite.)

"Sweet liberty,
Sweet liberty is in our hands
It's part of the plan,
Or is it a state of mind?

Horses and men,
Horses and men are on the field,
They didn't yield.
Many have fallen here;

Never forget
Never forget what they have done,
The time will come,
When it will change again.
Never forget!" - Chris De Burgh, from the lyrics to his song "Liberty", from the album The Getaway

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Enola Gay, the editor of the immensely popular preparedness, self-sufficient-living, Christian patriot blog, Paratus Familia will be interviewed on Radio Free Redoubt on Sunday, March 18th at 7 p.m. Pacific time. The show will also be made available for later playback.


Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have been reading survivalblog now for about 2 years and enjoy the information provided in the articles. I have often wondered what if anything I could contribute to the site.  After reading “After the Shooting” by Tupreco, which emphasized the legal aspect of a shooting, I thought this article would be a good follow up concentrating on the psychological side of it.
My background: I have been a police officer for 8 years and was involved in a shooing in February of 2008.  You can watch the dash cam view of it here on YouTube.

Basically, I stopped a car for a defective tail lamp. The driver stopped initially but then pulled away and turned down a dead end road. Just before the car came to a stop the suspect exited and started shooting.  Thank god he slipped at first.  One round hit the bottom of my radiator three feet directly underneath where I was seated.  There was an initial exchange when I exited my squad and then a second when he circled around the house he ran behind and a third when he came down the driveway closer toward me right by the front of the house.  He was hit twice (unknown to me at the time) and was later captured about a half a block away. He was hit once in the shoulder and once in the other arm breaking his humerus bone in two places. Even though he was hit he still managed to climb over a chain link fence.  At the trail a jury of “peers” from my community decided that despite the clear video evidence and they fact he shot at me at least 6 times, they convicted him only of the lesser charge of "recklessly endangering" safety. His defense was that he had a bad day and snapped.  He didn’t deny anything really. He got sentenced to seven years for basically trying to kill me and five years for being a felon in possession of a stolen gun.  I have researched shootings on my own and been to several tactical classes and read numerous books and articles.  Dave Grossman has some great works on the psychological side of shootings/killing. 

Commonly believed concepts of shootings: You will have audio exclusion, tunnel vision, not be able to use small motor skills, a perception of slow motion, you will feel regretful, have memory lapses, revert to your training, will not use your sights, it will probably be 3-5 shots and a few seconds in duration.

Reference audio exclusion, tunnel vision and slow motion. I can’t say that I really experienced any of them.  My ears rang for days and my Glock was very loud on that zero degree night.   While I was certainly focused on the target I didn’t feel like I was looking through a tunnel.  While I felt in the “zone” time didn’t seem any slower or faster. Just be aware you may or may not experience these effects.  Each person is different and there is no way to predict your experience.

Memory lapses. A few hours after the shooting I had a verbal interview with a detective and did a scene walk through.  While initially I felt completely justified I later doubted myself. Did I really see him point a gun at me or just a muzzle flash? It was so dark out. There were casings in between my squad and the car I moved to for cover.  I didn’t remember shooting on the move but there was the evidence.  Was my backstop clear? Some rounds hit the house. I prayed that no one inside was hurt. How many rounds did I shoot? I don’t remember but I knew I had 6 left.  When traumatic event like a shooting occurs your brain is flooded with chemicals. Some state it takes up to 72 hours for them to clear out. Until they do your brain will not be functioning normal. Your interview if possible should be put off until that time frame is over.  An intense cardio workout will help clear those chemicals out of your system quicker. You will not be able to clearly recall everything. This is normal. 

Small motor skills: First off, I will say that I believe in using gross motor movements and keeping manipulations as simple as possible. I did use my slide release which most consider to be small motor skill during my shooting. I think this proves that they can be done with enough training. I now changed my training to the overhand slide grasp.
The shooting will be few rounds and quick: While most shootings will be, mine was a good example where it was not.  I don’t believe that if you get in a shooting you will ever wish you had a smaller gun with fewer rounds.   I do believe that it is likely you may wish you had a larger gun with more rounds.

You will revert to your training: ABSOLUTLEY.  The first probably thirty seconds of my shooting I was on complete autopilot.  I moved out of my squad, which was where he expected me, and took a better position behind another parked vehicle. I preformed a tactical reload once I moved to the car.  My breathing was controlled. I was using radio codes and trying to update other units.  I did all of this without ever consciously thinking about it. Train, train, train and induce stress.

You will not use your sights: I don’t recall seeing them at all for most of the event. Toward the end when he moved close in to me I remember a voice saying, “if you don’t calm down and aim, this will end bad for you”.  Toward the end I remember lining up the sights and that is probably when I hit him.  BTW our department didn’t allow us to have night sights at the time. 

You will feel regretful: The media likes to portray the shaken, disheveled, citizen who is distraught over shooting/killing the  usually well intentioned suspect who made a bad choice. If you do feel that way that’s fine. But you may very likely not. This person just tried to seriously harm or kill you or another person. You survived they didn’t. That is an intense experience. You should feel good about it.  You won. You triumphed during an extremely intense situation.  Many of us train and never know how we will actually perform when something real happens.  Be proud of yourself, you performed and did what you had to. You may be angry. I was. That was my strongest emotion at the time.  I was furious.  Here I am trying to do my job and was probably just going to give him a warning and he tries to kill me.  Any blame should be on the suspect. It was his choice to commit a crime, arm himself illegally and not listen to orders. If one goes to the zoo and jump into the lions den he shouldn’t mad at the lion when he gets bit.  That’s his fault.

Emotional considerations after the shooting.  Talk it out.  Certainly not to the media but to people you trust and may have  legal privilege with. Clergy, attorney. spouse. You will need to talk about it to let it process.  Your sleep with be effected. Those chemicals are pumping through you and you are amp-ed up.    Don’t consume alcohol. Use calming techniques and stay out of stressful environments. Use routine to  help feel at ease.   A common experience I had and is often reported is what I'll call the movie reel effect.  The event kept replaying in my head.  It felt like I was watching a movie replay over and over. This is normal and will diminish with time. Anxiety will occur. Our brain is an amazing organ. When you touch a hot stove it stores a message not to do that again. It is a protection mechanism when a negative result occurs.   After my shooting my first probably 20 traffic stops were filled with anxiety.  You will likely experience a similar response when you attempt to do something similar to what triggered your incident. Examples of this could be walking from the store to your car, waking up to a crash in the night, going to the ATM. Try to calm yourself and realize this is normal.

Monday morning quarterbacks. This can come from several sources.  Friends, media, pundits, co-workers. Few people can say they know what fighting for your life feels like. Few will take the time to read all of the details. But many will say you should have done A then B. They will say that they could have done it so much better hitting moving head shots at 50 yards with a pistol etc. This can be hard to swallow. Here you did what you could and everyone seems to think they could do better. I got ridiculed for shooting 40 rounds. I was told I should be re-trained and was just spraying and praying. Neither one is the case and most of them probably would have soiled themselves. After trying to explain the facts of case to people  including: the distance involved, actively taking rounds, low visibility at night,  the cover the suspect used etc. I learned it didn’t matter. My advise it to not read any forums, papers or listen to radio or anything after your shooting. It will only anger you.  If you'd like review some of your tactics seek other professionals who have been in shootings.

If you think you need professional counseling, then get it. It is nothing to be ashamed about. If you broke your ankle you would seek a doctor.  This is no different.

I hope this will give others a little insight toward a subject that is not often discussed and prepare you mentally for what to expect.

I remember 25 years ago saying something to a supervisor at work about maybe developing the skills to grow a garden because, “you just never know what might happen.”  That seemingly innocent, off-hand comment brought upon me his very public pronouncement of being of a “doom-and-gloomer” and the ridicule of every one of my fellow workers with whom he gleefully shared our conversation.  While his immature and idiotic rebuke was stinging I can’t say that it changed my thinking or altered my behavior, but I just never began the hard work of preparing.  Even though I knew in my heart that I should, I didn’t make time to pursue it.  Being the sole financial provider for a family of six and serving in my local church, Cub Scouts and Little League can keep guy pretty busy, I suppose.  But things are changing.   After a couple decades of ignoring the gut instinct that I should be prepared to provide for my family in the case of some kind of economic, societal, or natural calamity, I read JWR’s book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It and became a regular visitor to SurvivalBlog and now the journey has begun.  While I don’t have the financial resources to fill a barn like the guys on the reality television shows, I’ve committed $10 per week to my efforts – less than many folks waste on fast food and soda each week.  I’m gradually filling galvanized steel trash cans with vacuum-packed bags of rice, beans and oatmeal and my wife keeps our pantry stocked with hundreds of jars of home-canned vegetables from our garden.  My storage shelves are slowly gathering an assortment of cooking oil, peanut butter, Coleman fuel and small propane cylinders.  The two-way radios we take camping are now stored in insulated steel ammo cans as is my old marine radio and a dynamo powered weather radio.  The pitcher pump for my shallow well is on a shelf in the garage, the garden is in and I have an acre’s-worth of heirloom seeds in the deep freeze.  My firewood is cut, split and stacked.  I have oil lamps and a kerosene heater along with spare wicks for all.  Emergency candles and a brick of strike-anywhere matches are next on the list as is building a Faraday Cage for my generator and chain saws.  I picked up a big stoneware crock at an Amish hard goods store and I’m having a blast canning my home-made sauerkraut.  I’ve mastered raising chickens and pigs and will be adding a calf later this spring.  My next goal, in addition to continuing to fill the shelves, is to learn the art of cold smoking meats in case the freezers go down.  I’ve come a long way and have even farther to go and I’m loving every step of the journey.  This is truly an adventure. 

But there’s a nagging issue that keeps tugging at my heart.  There’s a Question that goes beyond the mind straight to my soul.  You see, I’m a Christ-follower.  And I believe that being a Christian is far more than just religion and a free ticket to the non-smoking section in eternity.  True Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview.   True Faith captures our hearts and causes us to see the world in a way that shapes the way we live in it.  And that should impact the way we approach TEOTWAWKI, should it not?  JWR does well reminding us often to set aside extra provisions for those who are unprepared.  And the December 2011 SurvivalBlog writing contest winner,  Barter, Post-TEOTWAWKI: The Micro Store  - is a great encouragement to all of us to think about how we can help others help themselves while improving our odds of thriving at the same time.  There’s more going on in this movement than just working for self-preservation and that’s something my worldview embraces. 

I dream often of a retreat location somewhere in the American Redoubt.  Wyoming perhaps, or Montana, or maybe even the Ozarks.  Or more exciting yet – my late-maternal grandfather was a freelance photographer with a serious case of wanderlust and spent a lot of time in the Coeur d’Alene country of northern Idaho.  He fell in love with it and always wanted to return there when he was older and though he never was able, he left us with his photographs and the memories of his adventures.  Maybe I should go there in his stead - talk about adding thrill to the adventure!  But then there’s that Question that haunts me.  That unresolved issue that goes beyond whether or not I have the time and the financial resources to pursue the dream of a retreat.  A Question with its roots implanted in the very foundation of my faith.  That voice that keeps whispering to me, “Is that the right thing for you to do?”  Is fleeing to the mountains to protect myself and my family from “the golden horde” in keeping with my faith’s call to “see the world in a way that shapes the way I live in it?”  I can’t answer that question for anyone else – and I don’t believe the answer is the same for every one of us – but I must answer it for myself.  JWR’s done an excellent job of laying out a Biblical rationale for food storage, self-defense and charity in the SurvivalBlog  Prayer Page.  As with all things Biblical, there’s a wealth of wisdom there whether you believe in God or not.  I won’t repeat it all here but if you haven’t read the page, you should as you’ll be stronger and wiser for the time spent there.  And isolating those Biblical missives from the full context of the whole of Scripture, life and eternity seems to make them scream, “Run for the hills!”  In fact, those words are actually in there.  When people start to ruminate about the end of the world (the real end, not just “the world as we know it”) I like to say, “I’m not worried about it.  I’ve read the end of the book.  I know how it ends.”  I have read the end of the book and I do know how it ends so I’m really not worried about it but the fact is some of the stuff at the end of the book isn’t very user-friendly and running for the hills isn’t a bad idea.  But that’s not really what we’re talking about prepping for here.  The end of one civilization (ours!) in reality would be just another footnote in history, not an eternity-ushering cosmic cataclysm, even though it might seem like it at the time.  But escaping even that “footnote in history” doesn’t seem like such a bad idea and providing for and protecting one’s family is unquestionably a Biblical mandate and I take those very seriously.  Oh, that it were all so simple!

The Question comes to me as the result of the reading I’ve done on Christian worldview.  One of today’s most prolific writers on the subject is Chuck Colson and in the prologue of his excellent treatise on basic Christian beliefs – The Faith – he tells the story of the early Christians of the Roman Empire and how their response to the 1st century smallpox epidemic was used by God to fuel the explosive growth of God’s plan to restore humanity to himself.  Because of the squalid living conditions in the cities of that day – much like will become of our cities when the water and sewers stop flowing – they were ripe for the spread of communicable disease and plagues of various kinds that would often decimate the population.  At the onset of these unnatural disasters, the wealthy – the physicians and elites – would flee to their country estates and leave the hordes to die and rot.  But then along came this new group of people called Christians who believed that every human being is a precious life created in the image of God.  They would go around the city, picking up the moaning bodies covered with putrid, oozing pox and take them to a place where they could, “give the victims water, keep them as clean as possible, and encourage them with kindness and prayer.”  Needless to say, many of those early Christ-followers performed this ministry at the expense of their very lives.  But somehow, by giving up their own lives, they added to their number, so much so that they, “progressed from being a small sect to the dominant cultural group.”  People saw the sacrifice and said, “I don’t know what it is that they’ve got, but whatever it is, I want it.  I want to be one of them.”  And the world will never be the same.  By “surviving in place,” – or in many cases not – these folks were used by God to change the world. 

And so the Question pursues me.  I’m blessed with a four-acre place in the country surrounded by hundreds of acres of farm fields and woods but we’re within a day’s walking distance of a city of 100,000 and an hour’s walk from a major interstate.  It’s impossible for me to lay up enough to help everyone who might come to my door even if I were to give it all away.  And how long could we really hold out against a horde of desperate hungry people or against the authorities who might come looking for something to “fairly redistribute?”  Probably not very long.  By trying to survive in place, could I lose my life and endanger the lives of my wife and my four children?  It would seem so.  But might that be a chance that at least some of us who call ourselves Christ-followers could be called to take?  I suspect it might. 

And so I continue to ponder the Question.  In the mean time, am I laying up a supply of food?  Absolutely.  Have I established a sustainable source of water?  Yep.  Do I have guns?  Better believe it.  Do I have ammunition?  Yes (even though somehow the word “enough” just never seems to apply here.)  Am I prepared to defend my family against an invasion by those who would steal us blind and leave us without the ability to survive?  Lock and load!    I will do what I need to do to protect my family and at the same time look for ways to live out my faith and honor my Lord by serving “the least of these.”  And whatever else happens . . . happens.  As pastor and author Charles Stanley says, “Obey God.  Trust all the consequences to Him.”

Let me preface this information by saying it only applies to those preppers that live in states where it is legal to possess and carry a handgun in the car.

I live in a state where it is not a problem or an issue to carry a handgun in a vehicle, it has been that way for many years. Our state considers it part of the "castle doctrine", it is legal for a citizen to defend his castle and his vehicle is considered to be part of that castle.

For years I have carried a variety of weapons, semi's and revolvers, in my different vehicles. Some in the glove box, some in the console, some under the seat, and some in the pouch behind the passenger seat. My main concern has always been the security of the vehicle when left un-occupied. I have to admit that I have lost two different weapons when I had a vehicle break in.

Because of the possibility of vehicle theft [or theft of contest from a vehicle], I have never wanted to buy a high dollar handgun and have a $500 or even a $1,000 handgun lost. Well, I have found the best of both worlds. A handgun that is a big .40 caliber semi-automatic that works super and costs less than $200.

A good friend that is a retired law enforcement officer introduced me to the Hi-Point SW-40B. Frankly I had never even heard of Hi-Point and the handgun was a very pleasant surprise. The semi-auto is black polymer and has an adjustable rear sight. It shoots like a dream and consumes all types of ammo with no problems. It is also backed by Hi-Points lifetime warranty on repairs if they should become necessary. The great thing is that this pistol is readily available from dealers around the country for $159-to-$189. Check this out.

The only down side I have found about this pistol is it is a real heavy weight. It weighs almost three pounds before it is loaded. It is not what I would want to have as an everyday carry weapon, but that is not the issue here. We are talking about a great car carry gun for not much money. By the way, an almost identical model is also available in .45 ACP if that is your caliber of choice. - Gringo Dude

Capt. Rawles,
I enjoy your blog very much, however, I have read several times that you need a physical mailing address to get an amateur (ham) radio license.  I don't believe that is correct.  If you look closely at FCC form 605, line 15, they ask for a "P.O. Box, and/or Street Address".     The FCC needs a "address of record".  One could rent a box at a UPS Store (which gives a street address) they just want to be able to reach you by mail.  You can also register as an "Entity", i.e. a business, corporation, LLC, etc.  I recently went through the process.  I used an old business that has not been active in years, along with it's EIN, instead of my social security number.  It should not be very difficult to keep ones actual physical address out of the FCC database, without lying or doing anything illegal. - The Shiny New Tech    

Todd M. wrote to mention that it should come as no surprise that several of the American Redoubt states are among the the states with the least expensive gasoline, including Idaho, Montana, and low cost champion, Wyoming.

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[Warning! Graphic video.] Stuff happens, unexpectedly. So I recommend that you get right with Christ, today.

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Resistance to antibiotics could bring "the end of modern medicine as we know it", WHO claim. (Thanks to R.C. for the link.)

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K.A.F. flagged this: How to Live in Your Car. (Don't miss reading the comments section.)

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Ken L. spotted this: Meals in a Jar -- Guest Post by Chef Tess

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;
And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure." - Philippians 2:5-13 (KJV)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Generations of Americans have been vigilant in the past about doing what they believed would provide for their families in times of need.  There has always been a large variation in the types of preparations and the extremes each would go to in these measures.  Why?  Because we are all different people with various backgrounds, influences, upbringings, ethnicities, education and finances.  Some people have lived through the Great Depression, or just hard financial times for that matter. Living through this has instilled a belief upon their families to “put a little away for a rainy day.”  This could mean putting some extra money in a savings account, keeping your pantry stocked in case household bills get tight, preparing an education fund for your children, or any number of things.  Many of us have been taught about the virtues of self-sufficiency and how this can help you in life.  Many of us have been taught about the virtues of hard work and learning skills that will help you do things for yourself when the time may arise. These have been values that have made the people of this country so successful in the past.  Oh my…how times have changed.  There was a time in this country when these ideals and beliefs were engrained into the very being of the majority of our citizens.  We have now become the minority and it is a sad state of affairs.  As the minority we have now become stigmatized as extremists, outcasts and possible terror threats to our government.  Who puts that label on us, and why?

I personally believe that we as preppers have done a great service to our families and communities to help prepare for disasters of almost any nature.  What exactly are we preparing for, and is it enough?  We have been preparing for any number of events that could be problems.  In recent week, we have had significant tornadoes in parts of our country causing damage to houses, neighborhoods and even whole towns.  We have encountered earthquakes and wildfires in other parts of our country causing significant damage to property.  Floods, droughts, blizzards, ice storms and other “natural disaster” events regularly put our citizenry at risk.  We also encounter factory closures, loss of industries, layoffs, medical issues and other financial factors that have unraveled the lives of individuals, communities and whole towns.  These are all relatively short-term issues that can be made less life-changing events if you have prepared for them the best you can.  If your preparations have fortunately brought you through the event unscathed then you can go on to charitably take care of your family, friends and community in times of need.  Having supplies of food, water, wood, fuel, cash or precious metals, firearms (for protection and hunting) and emergency medical supplies can make the difference between a disaster and an inconvenience.  There is a great distinction between the two that we as short-term or long-term preppers understand.  I consider the people who prepare only for the one week to one month events I've just described to be short-term preppers.  I also respect them for at least having the foresight and caring to prepare at even that level.  I do not consider the "72 hour FEMA -recommended supply"-following people to be doing anything beneficial to help themselves. This is because after three days to one week they will be looking around with their hands out complaining nobody is helping them when they should have been helping themselves.

The events that I've described can be understood by just about anyone.  Turn on the television, read the newspaper or browse the Internet and everyone can understand and see these events for what they are.  If you speak with the waiter or waitress at a restaurant about the horrible tornado that just the day before ripped a whole town apart, then everyone wants to talk about it and you are “normal”.  So why is it then, when you want to discuss an event that will cause long-term significant changes to how our civilization lives you are a “nut-job” because these events "can’t happen" in our lifetime.  They seem to imply: "Take off your tinfoil hat and stop talking nonsense and did you see what happened on The Bachelor last night?  Did you hear what movie start just got arrested for…blah blah blah."  My reply: No but I did read about solar storms and their significant threats on the NASA web site.  It discussed the entire province of Quebec was in darkness on March 13, 1989 due to a solar storm.  Also discussed often by scientists is the Carrington Super Flare of 1859 and the devastating affects it would have in our technological era we are now living in. (Google is your friend for researching both of these events.)  Scientists, astronomers, and many other people would greatly enjoy discussing these events with you but your average citizen not nearly so much.  We could add to the list of events that would cause long-term disruptions to our current lives that most believe certainly could never happen. Let me go through a few potential disaster situations:

Nuclear War – They prepared for that back in the 1950s to 1970s and it never happened so we don’t have to worry.  Asteroid hitting the Earth – The government would shoot it down with a missile or Bruce Willis would blow it up.  Supervolcano? – Never heard of it.  You mean that there are ones under Yellowstone, in Indonesia, in California and many other spots on our planet?  I didn’t hear about that on my local news. Then perhaps you should watch Discovery Channel occasionally.  Long-term affects from these types of things could be devastating.  The majority of our citizens do not fully understand how vulnerable our power grid is or the 3 to 5 day cycle of food supplies and deliveries to our supermarkets.  Our long-term preppers take the time to educate themselves on the possible events that could disrupt our lives as we know it.  Most of these people store food for a year minimum for themselves and family or group they plan on helping.  The Mormons consider 1 year food storage a minimum for all of their followers and try to practice and preach self reliance.  It is a good practice that all people should think about doing if financially prudent.  Did you notice the word people is starting to replace the word preppers in this writing.  The stigmatism of preppers does not belong as it is just normal everyday people looking to become self-sufficient in time of need.  We as these people need to become the majority again. 

By this point in this article you must be saying I have no idea what the title means.  You can also see that this is also not a descriptive “how-to” article that would fall in line with giving the writer and advantage in some contest.  I think it is pretty clear that we would have no chance in preventing any of the aforementioned events from disrupting our way of life and we would just do our best to endure and thrive in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event.  There is one very large issue that we can prevent but only if our citizens decide to make a significant change in how we allow things to be done in our country.  If you mention that our government has become too large, unmanageable and destined to fail unless it is fixed you will again be looked at like a “nut-job”.  Our government is too big to fail and we are the most powerful country in the world.  It could never happen, right?  In history we have seen that the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the USSR were all deemed too big and powerful to fail.  Eventually even the largest forest fire burns out. 

Let us go back to the beginning of this article and answer the question:  Who puts this label on us, and why?  These labels are put on us by our government and by opinion leaders in he media and in the general population who the government has cultivated into a herd of followers.   The government figured out a long time ago that if we just keep the masses lulled into a happy existence then they will not want to meddle into their political doings…especially if it were to have any affect on the comfortable lives we live.  Politicians also figured out that if they can give money to those who choose not to work (as we know there are a significant number of these people) that they could count on getting voted in at the next election.  Great for the people who can now make more by not working than if they had to get a job, great for the politicians who want to stay in power and great for the everyday hard working American because it never affected their comfortable lifestyle.  This has worked out great for the last few decades because everyone seems to be perfectly happy.  The government found they could take money from hard working people and give it to lazy people to win votes and nobody said they couldn’t or shouldn’t.  Well, if we can do that then why can’t we take away even more resources and the cherished liberties from our citizens?  The politicians are thinking: After all, we the few know what is better for our country as a whole than the populous does right?  So once the politicians gained control of the majority of our citizens, then those who believe they "know what is better for us" , then our rights have slowly been eroded.  But you are asking, "Isn't that Against the Constitution?"  Who cares because it is for "the safety of everyone."  But you are asking, "Isn't that against your right to protect yourself and your family?"  Again, Who cares because it is "for the safety of everyone." 

I live in the state of Massachusetts where the criminal who breaks into your home has more rights than you do, to protect your family.  I can not have a pocket knife shipped to me in the mail by mailorder companies because the Attorney General in Massachusetts threatened lawsuits against companies who do so.  There is no law stating that shipping pocket knives or ammunition is illegal in our state but companies will not ship because they do not want to pay the large legal fees in court against our Attorney General's office.  Does this sound right or legal?  This is yet another example of what I just outlined: Who cares because it is for "the safety of everyone."  These types of rights violations against our citizens are happening all over this country by various government agencies, at all levels.  Now we have government agencies that have been able to violate our rights with impunity, tax as much as they choose so they can keep the whole system (failing system at that) afloat and everything is just going to keep on going without change because it is working so well.

Oh wait…our current National Debt is $15.5 trillion which is roughly stating that every US citizen is responsible for roughly $49,500 of this debt.  Please try to explain this to most people and they don’t quite understand because it does not immediately affect them.  We have a very good chance of making our US Dollar almost worthless at some point if fiscal responsibility is not adhered to.  I once read a very good article by John Silveira in Backwoods Home magazine regarding hyperinflation and how destructive it can be, titled: A quick tour of hyperinflation and the possible consequences for America. Most people do not understand the hyperinflation concept. (And in fact I did not fully understand it until after I had read his article.  Please read it if you have time. .  Financial woes of our government will only be solved by reform or more taxes for the working public.  You can choose which you would like to see. 

We have one preventable disaster that we can and should be doing everything we can to stop.  Please do the prudent thing and prepare for any natural or unforeseen disaster that you can because it is the right thing to do for your family   Please do the prudent thing and prepare for the preventable disaster by getting involved in your government, knowing your politicians and what they stand for and voting the ones out who will not change things that are not working.  Take the time to tell them they will not receive your vote if they keep infringing on your rights, taking away your ability to protect your family, taking your money to give to others who do not deserve it and spending more than we have as a country.  This is something you can do that is the right thing for your country.  Become an educated and involved citizen. Do not be afraid to tell your government what is not right in your eyes.  Remember one thing as well:  Our founding fathers gave us the Second Amendment right to bear arms not only to protect ourselves from our own citizens but to protect ourselves from the government!  Bring the majority back.

I want to address a common issue these days for "empty nester" parents.  How much and in what forms do you financially help your adult children?  Over the last two years, this has been our experience. 

First, let me tell you about us.  My husband is in his late sixties, and retired from law enforcement and is living on a pension.  He was diagnosed with throat cancer last year and with God’s grace and first class medical treatment, he is doing all right.   I have a good job in a medium size city.  I am in my mid-fifties.  We live in a modest home on a suburban acre.  We have been married 24 years in a second marriage and our children are from our first marriages.

Here are the kids (most are in their mid-thirties):

#1 Son, Spouse and Teen-Age Son
Seems to be doing all right financially with two incomes in a rental.  We paid $800 in electric bills in the past to catch them up during a period of unemployment.

#2 Son, unmarried
He has been disabled for over a year with back trouble.  He had recent back surgery and applied for Social Security disability.  We paid $1,100 this year to catch up on his expenses.

#3 Son, Spouse and two small children
Two incomes, but one is extremely sporadic. They are underwater on home mortgage to the tune of about $75,000.  We recently paid $675 to catch up on two of their truck payments.  Recent requests for money have been $1,500 for truck repairs and $2,562 to catch up on two late house payments.  They are unwilling to change lifestyle in any way and we have had to push hard to get him to look for more reliable employment. 

#1 Daughter, Spouse, and no children
Financially secure in every way.

#4 Son, Separated with one small child
Major substance abuse problems here.  We are still paying on a loan for his last re-hab stint. (That cost $13,000.)  We paid his rent for an entire year (at $740 per month), bought a van for his wife ($4,000) and gave him a car ($5,000) so he could get back and forth to a new job.

What I want to address is “financial survival” in the face of needy adult children.

 First of all, here are the issues:

  • Kids "keep track” of what the other adult children have been given.  Parents try to make it even.  It is impossible.  Paying rent so your one-year-old granddaughter has a place to live doesn’t necessarily guarantee understanding on the part of some of the other kids even though they did have a place to live.  Our situation is exacerbated somewhat because our kids are from two different marriages.
  • Yes, your grandkids will be used against you.  I can’t tell you how it makes you feel when an adult child tells his father “I used my last forty dollars to buy my kids some food.” 
  • Resentment on our part, as parents.  We try to help financially, but we resent lifestyle choices made by our kids.  Why should we pay a truck payment when two smokers ($10 per day habits ) could quit smoking and probably could make their own truck payment?  We don’t want to be involved in lifestyle choices of our children and we should not have to. 

The constant phone calling for financial help has taken a toll on my husband.  Even during his cancer treatment, I could not get one adult child to stop calling him despite my repeated requests.  I don’t harbor very good feelings for this child even today, a full year later.

So what is the answer?  What is needed is financial tough love.  Literally, the demand for money one week from two different family units was more than my entire take-home-pay for two weeks.  My husband and I sat down and said “enough!”  We have our own mortgage to pay, a car payment, utilities, et cetera.  We can’t as a financial entity support another family easily.  We did that for an entire year and are still trying to recover.

We came to several conclusions.

Our financial security is paramount.  We have nine more years to pay on our mortgage and our house is an important component of our retirement plan, if things last that long.  Our best course of action long-term is to own our home free and clear.  We do not want to be a burden to our children and frankly most of our children are not in a position to help us anyway.  The best thing we can do for everyone is take care of ourselves.  Our home may end up being the only place for several family members to live in the future.

Using our resources to help adult children who refuse to change their lifestyle is ill-advised.  As long as Mom and Dad continue to help financially, there is no reason to make any changes.  I would have done almost anything to avoid asking my parents for financial help and I never did.  I am grateful that they paid for my college education thirty years ago and I have worked hard my entire adult life.  I know times have changed and maybe working hard just isn’t always enough these days, but it has always worked for me.

Son #3 is about 57% underwater on his house.  No equity loans here, he just bought at the height of the market.  I see the writing on the wall on this one.   Nobody wants to go bankrupt, but it happens and only working five hours a week can make it happen pretty fast.  If you can help someone out financially during a short-term blip that is one thing, but when it becomes a chronic, insurmountable issue then you have to cut your losses.  What is worse than one family going bankrupt? Two families going bankrupt

We love our grandkids, but we have to demand that their parents provide for their basic needs.  If that means you take a second job, then find a better job, ditch the cell phones and cable, or get rid of one of your cars; then we expect you to do it.   We took care of you while you were growing up and we expect you to do the same for your children.

Finally, let's talk about adult children with substance abuse issues.  It is a bottomless hole financially and emotionally.  Throw a pregnancy in the mix and it becomes the worst sort of blackmail.  Parents do their best to fix the problem.  You can provide all kinds of resources; re-hab in various forms, money, doctors, therapists, attorneys…and the list goes on and on.  Ten years later, we are spent financially and emotionally with our #4 son.  I always remember a scene in the movie A River Runs Through It.  The character played by Brad Pitt was beaten to death over unpaid gambling debts.  The pastor father is talking about his son during a sermon.   He remarks that that often times you don’t know what help to give someone and even if you do; they do not want the help anyway.  We finally had to give this issue over to God. 

So, when you can’t provide financial resources to your adult children anymore, then what can you do?

Well, first of all you can provide emotional support.  Not advice, unless they ask for it….just emotional support.  We helped with a resume and sent job leads that we found.  When the inevitable requests for more money came in, we simply told them that if we used our emergency funds to help them, our financial security would be in jeopardy.  We are not rich people and it is all right to convey that to your adult children.

Second, if things get dire, we told them that we would provide them a home with us for a limited period of time while they get back on their feet. They will have a place to live, food to eat and basic utilities.    Traditionally, multi-generational households were common, so we should certainly be able to do it successfully for a limited period of time.  Not having a house payment or paying rent should help adult children settle other debts and save up for a new living arrangement.

Third, we have not shared our views on the coming economic collapse with some of our children.  This has been a shortcoming on our part.  We are continuing to prepare as best we can and we are going to share our views with everyone from now on. We live fairly frugally, and need to use aspects of our lifestyle and experience as teaching moments.

Lastly, let go of the guilt.  When my decade old car finally gave out, I hesitated to get a replacement.  Why?  I was worried one child would say, “Well, I see that you can afford to get another car but you won’t help me out.”  That child probably did think that, but I still needed a vehicle to get back and forth to work. That was simple reality. 

We love our children and some of them have mighty big warts.  We have our warts too.  Doing right by your children sometimes means you have to say “No” to them.  Protect your financial security by deciding how much and in what forms you can help your adult children. [JWR Adds: After some deliberation and concerted prayer, it is important to set limits, and then stand by them.]

The Perpetual Light [marketed by Wiggy's] is in fact a resale of another company's product, also made in the Grand Junction, Colorado area.  The other company is  I've had their products for close to six months now and I have been using them the entire time.  Some notes on the lights:

1.  The Glow in the Dark Spots (GIDS) are great to mark emergency gear.  I have one on the ends of several flashlights so I can find them if the power goes out.  I also have one on the end of my bed so I don't walk into it in the middle of the night.  They do last all night and I can't say enough good things about the GIDS for marking purposes.  The only other marking spots I've used that are as good are ones which contain tritium.

2. The Paqlite (the flat "bag" of crystals) do last all night long ... by morning they are close to nothing more than a dim glow that you can't navigate or read by but for several hours after dark they do provide a "night light" level of light.  I've got one in each of my map cases for reading them at night without turning on a flashlight.  And they are easy to recharge with even a small key chain flashlight.

3.  The Tooblite is about the size of a chemical light stick ("chemlite") and while it does not last as long as the Paqlite (about half the time) it is basically a clear test-tube shaped and sized container of the crystals embedded in a clear plastic.  Not as usable as a chemlite for navigation or reading.  Durable as all though and my large one is attached to my computer bag all the time -- its been through multiple airline handling experiences and isn't even scratched.

4. The material used has a definite preference for the type of light used to charge them up -- light sources with UV (such as natural sunlight) create a much brighter, longer lasting, and more natural light (a whitish green glow) vs. incandescent lighting (a soft green glow).  So while any light source can be used, the use of lighting with the UV spectrum is better.

5. At this point I have yet to lose my night vision when using one of these lights.  While its not the usual reddish glow we associate with night-vision saving lights, it seems to work the same.

Finally, as with all sorts of lighting, since it is greenish hued you do not get true colors from objects so lines on maps tend to look the same (blue, green, gray) and even blood vessels are hard to distinguish (red for arteries and blue for veins). Regards, - H.D.

I believe that the Euro Currency and indeed the whole European Union are headed for a Titanic-sized crash. I think this crash will happen in the 2012-13 time frame. I believe that there are no solutions to this crisis without a large amount of pain involved for the people of Europe, and the entire global economy.
First of all, a couple quick explanations are in order. the Euro Currency is the regional currency used by most (but not all) countries in the European Union. the European Union is a political grouping of European nations. There are some E.U. countries that still use their original national currencies instead of the Euro (Britain and Sweden are examples of this).
Europe has multiple economic problems because a lot of their national economies are grossly inefficient and unproductive. Greece is a perfect example of this. A lot of professions in Greece are known as 'Closed Shop' professions. This means the hours and days they can be open for business, the rates they charge, and a variety of other business practices are fixed and set by the Greek government. Think about what this means. A truck driver will receive the same pay regardless of whether he delivers on time or not. A lawyer will receive the same pay regardless of whether his legal advice is top-notch or shoddy.
European economies structured like this are why Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain ( the so-called 'PIIGS' nations) are ALL in dire economic straits and in need of sometimes multiple bailouts. Europe is now faced with either the prospect of the richer, more economically productive nations (mostly just Germany   these days) constantly having to bail out the 'PIIGS' , or cutting the PIIGS out of the Euro currency and letting them return to their original national currencies, like the Greek Drachma.
Both options are grim. The Germans are already getting tired of having to bail out other countries (the Finns are also getting tired of this, which helps explain the rise of the 'True Finns' party since Greece started showing up in the economic news a couple years ago). The Germans and Finns have valid points. Why should they sacrifice to help out other nations who are not as productive as they are. Eventually, they will wise up and stop bailing others out. The PIIGS have so far been incapable of making the  changes needed to be more productive. The Greeks are now rioting and burning down parts of Athens the minute they hear 'Austerity'. 
In hindsight, the Greeks should have never been allowed into the Euro Currency. They were allowed in to promote vague ideals like "European Harmony". Ideals are nice to have (and to strive for) , but when those ideals threaten the economic stability of entire regions, they need to be discarded upon the ash heap of history. 
The Greeks have a interest payment of about $15 Billion on their government debt due on March 20th, 2012. It is a open question if they will be able to make the payment. If they do, great, they have prevented default for a month or so. If they don't, then they default. One of the ways they have eliminated some of their debt obligations is by telling the holders of their bonds that they can only expect around 30 cents of return for every $1 the investors bought of Greek debt. Yes, this will lessen Greek debt levels, but it comes at a very heavy price. If Greek bond investors know they will be forced to swallow a loss on their investments, then they will simply invest in some other countries bonds in the future. It is that simple. The world is a big place. There are plenty of countries that investors can buy debt from where they will get their full investment back with interest. If there are a lot fewer investors willing to buy Greek debt in the future, then who does the Greek government (and the other PIIGS nations) turn to? The European Central Bank (the equivalent of the USA's Federal Reserve bank)  is really the only entity who has the balance sheet capable of absorbing all the Greek debt the government has to auction for them to keep the government operating. This choice has bad implications as well. First of all, the European Central Bank (ECB) may have a large balance sheet, but it is not unlimited, They will eventually hit the wall on how much Greek (and other PIIGS) debt they can have on their books. When that happens....then what? This is truly the Billion Euro question.
I do not know what the answer is. But it is this very uncertainty that makes me think that Europe's economic future is dark and getting darker by the day. Even if a miracle happens and the Greeks figure out a total solution to their debt mess, Europe will still need to figure out solutions for Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain. Maybe one miracle is possible, but five in a row is impossible.
What will this mean? Once again, I do not know what the final endgame is, but it will probably be real bad for a long time in Europe. The time for easy, painless solutions ended a long time ago (the United States faces the same grave debt issues, but this will have to wait for a future article).
I can be contacted at  I welcome any questions, comments, or disagreements. You don't like what I wrote? Feel free to contact me and argue your side. I write because sometimes I learn as much as I teach. I welcome any opinions.  Thank you for your time.

Matt L. and Pierre M. both sent this: Watch Bernanke’s ‘Little’ Inflation Capsize U.S.: Shlaes

Caller ID spoofing scams aim for bank accounts

Items from The Economatrix:

SurvivalBlog's G.G. flagged this: David Stockman on Crony Capitalism

More JPMorgan Chase whistleblowing.

UK Could Lose Coveted AAA Rating, Warnings Fitch. [JWR's Comment: Since our long term obligations are greater, per capita than that of Greece, our bond rating should actually be much lower.]

The Global Economy Is Now More Vulnerable To Oil Prices Than Ever

Dan T. sent a link to a list of the 10 worst tornado states in the country. Dan notes: "I live in Kansas, the #2 tornado state and I've never seen a tornado in my life. I've seen the results of tornadoes, but have never actually seen one and they excite me more than worry me. I have a basement."

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Don't miss this informative piece: How big a Garden? How much seed? (Their other articles are indexed here.)

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J.B. mentioned that an invasive species law is misapplied to heritage breeds: Michigan DNR Going Hog Wild

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Eric sent us a link that underscore lack of EMP and CME readiness: A Drill to Replace Crucial Transformers (Not the Hollywood Kind) Now imagine what will happen if there are simultaneously thousands of blown or fused-to-slag transformers...

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It is sad that States have to take this sort of step to stop implementation of the NDAA bill's arrest and detention provisions: Military detention legislation divides Virginia Republicans

"For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." - Deuteronomy 15:11 (KJV)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I'll start with a little about myself. I am a 21 year old disabled Iraqi campaign vet. I spent four years in the U.S. Army. I joined when I was 17 and started my terminal leave a couple of months before I was 21. I was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. I was there during the November 5, 2009 shootings. I couldn’t believe the absolute chaos that caused and how unprepared we were for a situation like that, and that was just on a small scale that really only affected Fort Hood. As a whole if that had been a nationwide incident I can only imagine the absolute chaos and anarchy that would have caused. That incident is really what got me interested in being prepared as possible for any situation because as a young Soldier I believed that just a gun would be able to protect you and provide for you in any situation and oh was I so wrong.

After I got out of the Army I started prepping and storing up a food, silver, and a much more extensive ammo supply. I had originally bought my food supply based off the getting started list that Mr. Rawles has on the survivalblog web site. Buying oats, wheat’s and other food staples, I started out first just buying stuff online which was costing me quite a bit of money because I wasn’t shopping around or doing my research causing me to probably spend a couple hundred extra dollars that I could have saved if I would have simply looked around more. After a little bit of research online I was able to find a local store that geared more towards prepping, and I was blown away at how much money I save by signing up for their sales list and only buying certain products when they went on sale, and buying renewable products such as the non hybrid seeds.  My prepping supplies quadrupled in quantity in less than a month because I was shopping smarter and not just buying spur of the moment. One afternoon when I was inventorying everything I had bought, my mom had come over to my house to visit and what she said really got me thinking. She brought up the point of why am I storing a bunch of food supplies that I know nothing about and I don’t know how to use, and to be honest she was right, besides knowing how long they would store for I knew nothing about what I was actually storing. There are a lot of things I store that I know plenty about. My firearms for instance I know how to shoot everyone of them, tear them apart, clean and maintain them, but that’s not enough a gun will not do everything in a survival situation. As an individual you have to have well rounded skills in order to survive. Your knowledge could be the difference between life and death. Knowing how to shoot a gun and clear a building will only get you so far if you can’t eat the food you stocked up.

It really got me thinking, so I started doing research finding recipes, writing them down and then I actually tried them out. After absolutely ruining a couple batches of each recipe, I was starting to get frustrated, and to be honest a little discouraged that I wouldn’t be able to figure it out and that I had wasted a lot of money. I wouldn’t let myself give up though. I started with one thing at a time, for me where I started was the dehydrator trying to make beef jerky. My first batch got left on too long, it was completely dried out and so salty it would have been hard to stomach if you could even get yourself to swallow it. I think it took me about three or four batches to finally figure out how to get the right flavoring and the right amount of time to make a good jerky. Now once I actually got a good batch of jerky I got excited and wanted to learn how to use all of my supplies that I store. So I tried making bread, doing everything from grinding the whole wheat down into flour, making the dough, and then trying to turn it into bread. I was very surprised at how long it actually took to grind the wheat into flour. Now I know why in Mr. Rawles book “Patriots” they hooked up a bicycle to their wheat grinder, I can only imagine how much of difference that would make.

After I ground enough wheat to attempt to make one loaf of bread, my arms were exhausted from turning the grinder. It was now time to try to make my own dough for bread and wow, looking back I can I say my first attempt at it was a complete disaster as well. My “dough” turned into a watery mess that had no hope in ever becoming bread. So then it was back to the proverbial “grinding stone” making more flour. It took me a couple attempts to get useable dough for bread. At first I was using the regular oven in my house to bake the bread, after getting the hang of making the dough, then baking and getting good bread from it I wanted to try going solar. I made my own solar oven that was originally way to deep it never heated up past 150 degrees. I modified my design rebuilt my solar oven and made it much shallower and the next day I was looking at temperatures of 350 degrees or more. More than enough for baking bread, I was thoroughly impressed with how quick it heated up and once it heated up how fast the bread baked inside of it. After making multiple loafs of a certain type of bread I branched off from their and started making different kinds of breads, white bread wheat bread, and before I knew it was up to my eyes in bread. I ended up taking whole loafs to co workers so it wouldn’t go to waste.

Now if I had been in an actual survival situation and I was trying to learn how to use these products then I would have been in deep trouble. We as a society especially the younger generation like myself are so dependent on technology that I would have been lost without it. At the time I had no recipes written down and I had zero knowledge on products I stored. I was relying solely on the Internet to help me learn. Now luckily for me I wasn’t in a survival situation and now I am slowly but oh so surely learning how to use everything I stock up on, and once I do learn how to use it I write everything down in a note book that I also keep in a dry storage container. The main thing I had learned from everything was that I need to diversify my supply more. There are something’s I don’t think I could run out of for years and years, and other stuff I wouldn’t have enough to last two days in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

The best advice I can give anyone especially young preppers like myself is to use what you are storing and if you don’t know how to use it then find out how to, even if it is through trial and error like mine was. It is way better to waste a small amount of your supplies now while it can be replaced then to be in a situation where it can’t be replaced and you end up throwing half of your supply away. I can’t believe the wealth of knowledge I have got in recent weeks. It really blew me away at how truly un-prepared I was for a TEOTWAWKI situation. The knowledge I have gained and will continue to gain by simply experimenting and continuing to learn as much as I can, may very well save my life and one of my family member’s lives. I am trying to become less and less dependent on the everyday technology and more and more dependent on my own resources. 

The best knowledge source we have right now is probably the Internet since you can look up almost anything and find information on it, but one day if we are in TEOTWAWKI and all that technology is gone your best knowledge source is going to be yourself, and if you’re don’t have the knowledge you need well you can kiss goodbye your supplies and everything you've “prepped”. I can’t wait till the day that I am completely or at least as much as possible only dependent on what I can grow or make with my own two hands. The more I let go of the technology that has such a firm grip on so many of us the better prepared I will be both mentally and physically if something happens because I will be ready to put my knowledge and experience from pre TEOTWAWKI experiences to good use.

Introductory Note: We are not medical professionals. We just have extensive experience working in nursery homes and taking care of injured, sick or disabled family members, here called “patient”, insert whatever is relevant to you.

So here are our tips and recommendations, not necessarily in order of importance:
If you have a disabled family member, consider getting hold of a wheel chair and a specially designed  “sitting” sleeping bag for wheelchair users. Alternatively make a carpet bag with a side zipper out of fleece blankets. Essential for bugging out or just if the heating fails.

Have a bedpan and a “bedside commode” or ”potty chair” available. Using this contraption, though initially embarrassing for the user AND the helper (if one is a family member and not in a professional relationship), can become a necessity. A port-a-potty is nice to have, but in case of a slipped disk or a broken or amputated leg, you really need a sturdy chair for the job. If you have to improvise – take an old, solidly built wooden chair – make a (max. bucket opening sized) hole in the seat, fasten a (removable) bucket or bedpan underneath and voila! Wheels only make sense if you manage to install brakes as well, actually a good reason to invest in a professional toilet chair before anyone needs it. The wheeled plastic/ steel version is also excellent for taking a shower while sitting.

Another not-so-nice theme that should be considered: Adult diapers – easily available now in all sizes and shapes. In addition disposable or quarter size washable sheets for putting under the bedpan, avoiding constant change of bedclothes, are a must for the sanity and back health of caregivers. Sleeping in an even slightly wet bed can be dangerous, and is certainly depressing.  Here, as in actually all cases of caring for older people, one should not take their word for whatever, since the attitude of “don´t mind me, I´m fine” is installed into most of the members of the older generation. Check that the bed is dry, drinking water is available, clothing doesn´t hurt, no sores are developing, and all other factors you can evaluate on your own.
Not wanting to “bother” the caregivers might lead to actions like trying to get out of the wheelchair to reach something too high up, or holding back the need for the toilet until bedtime, possibly leading to accidents or increased health damage.

This is why it is also important to now get hold of some “reachers” so the patient has a chance to pick up things like their glasses and such without calling for help every time.

The possibility to sit supported in bed is also very important, either by a specially made triangular pillow (can be made out of foam mattress material); adjustable mattress support or simply an angled wooden board under a folded blanket. A slightly elevated chest area while sleeping can be very important for heart patients and patients with respiratory problems.
If at all possible, consider investing in a medical bed or at least one with adjustable head support. A “real” hospital/ nursing bed should include a pulley over the head for easy change of position (and to hang a bell from), and should have removable bedside rails on at least one side. In addition a medical bed should have lockable wheels and be height-adjustable. Such a bed is incredibly useful for taking care of people at home with the minimum of back problems for the caretaker. Taking a look now in a hospital at how these beds function can be useful for recreating the essential features at home, if you can´t afford to buy it or cannot get it through medicare. Maybe the second hand market for EMP safe good old fashioned mechanical beds is even preferable? Maybe even your nearest hospital sells off old equipment.

Some mattress considerations: If you want to avoid the horrible condition called pressure sores, something that might occur in unconscious or very weak patients who are not able to move around in bed, get hold of a sheep fur or some synthetic “anti decubitus” furs (- medical shop product but not pricey, also get hold of a bedpan, a “reacher” and a pair of adjustable crutches while you are shopping for medical equipment). The fur gets positioned directly under the heels and ideally also under the buttocks. Believe me, this is a case of better safe than sorry – you will rather want to wash some fur regularly (easy with the synthetic version) than seeing your loved ones develop pressure sores and having to treat that. In addition, if you can splurge or get it paid by health insurance, get a computer controlled “medical air mattress”, this eliminates most of the problem for patients not able to turn in bed.

For such a mattress a constant electric supply is of course necessary, but the only alternative might be to turn the patient once every hour by hand, (a job for two people if the patient is heavy) all through the night and maybe the day also… Maybe an old fashioned straw mattress would work just as well, I have no experience with that. In any case please use the heel fur and/or elevate the legs with folded blankets or pillows to avoid pressure on the heels. Here you have to adjust carefully to avoid blocking the blood flow below the knee, so if no feedback from the patient is possible, use common sense and maybe try the different pillow positions out yourself.

If a pressure wound already has developed before the patient came into your care, and the flesh even maybe has turned black - believe it or not, but cleaning with whey and plastering the wound with soft white fresh cheese called “quark” (similar to cottage cheese), can reverse this condition and create complete healing! The cheese bandage of course needs to be exchanged morning, midday and evening after carefully cleaning the wound with whey (which is highly disinfecting). If you don´t have access to whey from a farmer, you can buy it bottled as “Molkosan”, made by a Swiss firm called Bioforce/ Dr. Vogel. Anyway, this is a relatively messy and initially smelly business, so take care to keep the room properly aired and disinfect the air as well, e.g. by burning sweetgrass or or placing a pot of simmering water with some juniper twigs in on the oven; alternatively putting a drop or two (maximum five) of some essential oil like eucalyptus  (ideally E. Radiata) on a light bulb or heating; use disposable gloves and take care to burn the used cleaning and bandaging material. Of course synthetic “air fresheners” you can forget in this context – we need the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties here.

We successfully treated a relative with a pressure damaged heel (diabetic condition) this way. The already black heel regenerated completely after some weeks of the “cheese and whey” method that hubby discovered in the book “der kleine Doktor” (“The Little Doctor”) by the abovementioned Dr. Vogel. Highly recommended  book!

We started this unlikely sounding treatment as a last resort after the local doctor had given up and recommended surgery! The black skin fell off piece by piece and fresh pink skin grew back. Of course the legs were also supported by  a pillow at night so pressure was off the heel.
I have not used this treatment on the kind of pressure sores that can develop as a channel under the skin. As far as I have seen the way to get rid of these wounds is often and regular cleaning with a flexible tube and salt water. I would also suggest chamomile tea for the rinsing.

For broken bones: 1/2 a cup of Comfrey/ Boneknit tea three times daily for max three weeks – we healed our “teenaged” cat with multiple fractures after a car accident with Bach drops and comfrey tea in his drinking water! The vet who fastened a mini metal plate with screws told us the cat would always limp. Imagine his surprise when, on the checkup half a year after removing the plate, both legs were perfectly equal and we could tell him our cat jumped and climbed on anything he could find...
Back to humans: For the patient in bed a radio, CD/MP3 player, reading board/ bed table and a short bed jacket can make life much more enjoyable, and feeling well taken care of also obviously speeds up recovery.

Flowers on the table do a lot to cheer the atmosphere in a room, but please no candles! Fire combined with a person unable to move is not a risk you want to take to take. [JWR Adds: This was how my great-great uncle, a stagecoach driver named Joseph Rawles died in 1872, while recovering at home from a gunshot wound. As my grandfather described it: "While he was recovering from the bullet wound, he was reading in bed one night. A breeze came up and blew the curtain over the coal-oil [kerosene] lamp, setting it on fire. Joe jumped up to try to put the fire out, and he had a hemorrhage, and died."]

A bell in reachable distance is vital unless the patient is senile and rings every five seconds, in which case a timer for regular checks will help.

Senility/ dementia/ diabetic confusion check: Ask the patient for his/ her complete name, birth date and current address. If not correct also a stroke might be the cause. You will have to evaluate if the answers show damage or just habitual confusion or even just shyness.
Some words of warning about senility: Mrs. Icebear´s experience: I once personally had to pry a Christmas table decoration out of the hands of a gentle old lady so senile that she was eating it, and even though it obviously didn´t taste she put up a brave face and conversed nicely with the non-existent people left and right of her while trying to chew candles and pine cones and such. Because of her exceedingly good manners she seemed otherwise normal, so until I saw her eating the candles I had no idea if the degree of her senility. With dementia patients also watch out for unusual crankiness – that might be a symptom of infection or pain. Sudden foul language or unintelligible mumblings can be a sign of dangerously low blood sugar in diabetics! A fast drink of apple juice and an added dextrose tablet has kept our relative out of hospital many a time. Of course we did this with the support of official caretakers (home nurse services).

More on dementia/ senility: Senile paranoia (“You have poisoned my water”) is not a lot of fun, and since this apparently can be induced by a lack of essential nutrients, it is important that also elderly people in your care get their vitamins and minerals.
We just found on the net that there seems to be no difference between the symptoms of alzheimer´s disease and vitamin B 12 deficiency, so it only makes sense to take especially care of this for everyone. The different B vitamins are naturally available for instance in unshelled rice and whole grains. For vegetarians: Some non-meat sources of B12 are also raw banana, raw papaya and, for the more northern gardeners: carrots, hawthorn berries and dandelions. 

Beware of dehydrating herb teas, for instance nettle, blackberry and raspberry leaf tea are good mineral sources and useful for a short term kidney cleanse cure; but as a regular, everyday tea far too dehydrating.  Since older people often lose their sense of thirst, and thereby drink too little water, it is especially important to check their fluid intake. Of course staying hydrated (between 1.5 and 3 liters per day for adults) is  very important for all ages, e.g. to avoid kidney damage! Here is a piece for more on the importance of drinking water to stay healthy.  

Pain management:
Elderly people often have an elevated pain threshold, so if an older person says something hurts, you have to take it seriously. For pain medication in general, remember the aspirin/ willow bark connection, and check out these articles:
Nettles have been used for lowering childbirth pain, and also have a host of other uses:

For teething children a piece of amber often eases the pain.
To avoid tooth ache in general, try cleaning your teeth with fresh sage leaves, get enough vitamin C.

To avoid earache consider wearing hats, caps, scarves or bonnets: If anyone, especially children have an earache it is a very serious condition to be treated as fast as possible, since if left untreated it is horribly painful and in the worst case can lead to permanent loss of hearing and even death.  At the first sign of earache carefully put a cotton ball with one or maximum two drops of lavender oil in the outer ear; keep covered, draft free and warm. Alone or combined with a pain killer containing Ibuprofen (also anti-inflammatory) this might help to avoid the need for antibiotics at all if you act fast and keep the patient indoors until completely healed.
Apropos of antibiotics: There are natural alternatives like garlic for internal and external use (avoid for people with a heart condition) and honey and plantain for wounds. Read up hawthorn, ginger.

Alternative earache treatment if it is already serious and no doctor or antibiotic is available: If you have stored castor/ ricinus oil (this is one oil you do not want to risk making yourself from scratch since if done incorrectly it is very poisonous) you can pour some warm (not hot) drops into the ear, then out again before it cools. Clean well. Keep warm. Do the lavender treatment as well. Repeat at least twice a day until healed.

If you want more background info on this, check out Edgar Cayce (if you google him be prepared for a moderate to high tin foil hat level - warning hereby issued.) Anyway, with warm castor oil packs we have successfully treated painful joints, bronchitis and twisted ankles, amongst other things. The procedure for making the castor oil pack at home without specialized equipment is as follows (less complicated than it seems and definitely worth it when you see the amazing results):

First of all get hold of at good sized (quarter to half a liter) bottle of castor oil – if you get worried questions because of the amount tell the salesperson you need it for compresses, not for laxative purposes! Then dismember an old (not too chunky) wool sweater or fold some thin pure wool or old flannel cotton fabric so it can sponge up the oil. The size of the pack you make of course depends on what you are going to treat – a twisted finger obviously gets a different size pack than a child´s chest when getting a treatment for bronchitis. Put the fabric you want in a glass pot or big jam jar – soak the fabric in castor oil and heat the pot or jar in a second (cooking) pot with warm water until the oil is warm but not scalding. Careful please –hot oil is really hot! When warm - not scalding- (try out the temperature on the back of your hands!!!)  put the pack on the patient where needed, then cover/ wrap the whole thing with cling film to keep the oil contained, then put a towel over that again and top it with a blanket to keep the warmth in as long as possible. Maybe gold foil over the towel – we have not tried that out. Important: These oil packs have to be kept warm as long as in use (typically 1 to 2 hours). Because of the cling film sometimes body heat can be enough to keep the warmth for a while, otherwise a hot water bottle does the trick. Remove the pack at once when starting to cool. Wash the treated skin thoroughly with baking powder instead of soap to get the oil completely off and avoid cooling. Throw away or leave in the pot/ jar until next time – can be reused some times. The fabric is not washable anymore, so this method calls for personal glass pots/ jars and fabric pieces for each family member.
The commercial version with instructions (avoiding the danger of too hot oil), see this article.

Some general tips to keep less physically active members of your family healthy and happy:
A good help for cleaning up clogged arteries is horsetail tea. Many herbs and spices are very useful for this and for regulating blood pressure, blood sugar levels and many other health issues, so get a book or do some internet research on wildflowers, herbs, spices and teas.
Special support stockings can be of enormous help if used the right way (put them on in the morning while lying on back holding legs up!) Also useful for avoiding thrombosis on long car or airplane trips.

To avoid constipation: a teaspoonful of crushed flaxseed in a glass of water each morning.
Training with rubber bands or dumbbells (or plastic bottles filled with sand) can work wonders for wheel  chair users– keeping the fit parts of the body in shape is important! Also doing things that stimulate the finger nerves, like playing an instrument; knitting; crocheting; doing macramé (in prepper circles known as “paracord belt making”;-) even painting or writing keep joints supple and the brain healthy.

Of course these are all pretty obvious things, but here goes anyway:
Crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku,  and of course reading and even listening to the radio keeps boredom at bay and the brain fit and functioning, also jobs like perimeter watch by PC screen or window; communications officer or teacher might be delegated to senior or disabled family/ group members, with advantages for all concerned. For sick children: in addition to books and drawing/ painting material, an old, salvaged Gameboy or PS1 might save everybody´s sanity.  
At the end of the day sleeping medicine might be of help: Try the classic glass of warm milk, a drop of lavender oil on the pillow, or a cup of lavender or valerian tea! For older people: one (just one) drink of a favorite liquor has turned out to be more effective than sleeping pills (this info I have from a newspaper article about a private nursing home where the patients could choose between pills and a “night cap”).

In closing Mrs. Icebear wants to share an experience that dispelled any ideas that old age means bad health:
In the nursing home where I worked 30 years ago there lived a 98 year old lady that was just too healthy to die! She wanted so much to leave this world; so even though fit, she spent her time lying in bed singing and praying to Jesus to take her with him, but her body just stubbornly kept on functioning. One night she for some reason decided to climb out of bed over her bedside rails, thereby breaking a thigh bone; then as a follow-up she contracted pneumonia from being left sitting naked and wet in a wheelchair after a shower, so in less than a week she managed to get where she wanted so much to go. Needless to say I´m skeptical about nursing homes, but that is another, long story. Anyway, my point here is: If she would not so desperately have wanted to die, this old lady apparently could have gone on living for a long time. She had no diseases and in addition had a model´s size and shape. She was also not anorectic but simply healthy. The only visible sign of old age was her gray hair and slightly hollowed face, and the skin that was rather papery, covered with very fine wrinkles. When I complimented this dignified lady on her fantastic figure, and asked what she had done to get it she answered: “Mother made us sit up straight at the table – always remember to keep your back straight, she told us”.  On my question if she had had a lot of physical activity she said: “Yes, we almost never took the tram, we walked everywhere!”
So this could be the recipe for health so sturdy that you might live long enough to get tired of it…J

Editor JWR:
To paraphrase an old quotation, those that refuse to study history and learn from it are condemned to repeat the same mistakes.
In the early 1970s, school classrooms in Israel were favored targets for PLO terrorists. They were favored for several reasons including maximum media coverage, maximum shock value (killing children) and softness of target (little security).

The solution was simple and effective: All teachers were required to keep a selective fire weapon and loaded magazines in their classrooms.

As another example of historical note of common sense, during the 1600s, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony had a law that required every able bodied male to carry a rifle and ammunition to attend church services. This safety measure was required because some of the more belligerent natives learned that attacking unarmed churchgoers was a high yield target.

Humans have only one survival skill: the ability to think. Plenty of critters in this world are better equipped for survival than we are and they thrive. All survival comes down to one unchangeable natural law: Stupidity is suppose to be fatal. - Mike H.

Mr Rawles,
I enjoy reading your blog.  Great work.
I work at the university mentioned in this article.  We are a 'gun-free' zone which means it is against the law to carry, but not against the law to leave your weapon locked in your vehicle.  However, it is against school policy to do so (apparently because we cannot be trusted to be responsible with weapons.)  Getting caught will cost you your job. 
On Monday our university Chief of Police (they are a real police department) accidentally left his loaded Glock in a public restroom for anybody to come and find. Luckily, an honest student found the pistol and called the cops so they could retrieve their weapon.
What is even more remarkable is the lack of media coverage this is receiving as well as the lack of consequences for the Chief.  - Mike in Ohio

Hi Jim: 
I came across a really neat little phosphorescent light source that your readers might like.  It is sold by Wiggy's, a maker of high end American-made sleeping bags [and a long-time SurvivalBlog advertiser.].  They call it a Perpetual Light and you can use sunlight, headlights of cars, et cetera to charge it up.   Its not a flashlight, its more of a general area kind of light and their pretty cheap.   I  bought one for general camp use and I really like it.   Go to to check it out. - SmokecheckTim

Economics and Investing:

Daniel S. suggested: How to make a Millipede Survival Paracord Bracelet. This new weave is very quick to unbraid!

   o o o

Reader H.S. in Arkansas wrote to ask about a source of boxes to re-package loose (bulk-packed) eastern European military surplus 7.62x39mm from "spam cans" as a well as 7.62x51 NATO that has been de-linked. He said that he wants to be able to have it look presentable, for eventual barter and resale purposes, in attractive boxes. I immediately recommended I've personally used their products, and they are excellent. These very professional looking die-cut single-wall white cardboard boxes fit very nicely in .50 caliber ammo cans. They also make 30-round boxes for 5.56 mm NATO. (30 rounds matches the prevailing magazine size.)

   o o o

Michael M. mentioned this: There’s No Privacy in Ham Radio. JWR Notes: At least the new digital modes will curtail the number of casual eavesdroppers. BTW, the author's mention: "Additionally, the FCC requires that each amateur radio operator maintain his current physical mailing address with the commission..." is not entirely correct. Your initial license must have a physical address, but any subsequent updates can just list a P.O. box address, if you'd like.

   o o o

Chester sent a link to a video and text clip to a little-known chapter of modern American history: The Battle of Athens. (Tennessee, that is.) You can read about this in greater detail at the Battle of Athens Wikipedia page.

   o o o

Tim J. sent this wire service article: Built by forced labor, German bunkers become homes

"With the exception only of the period of the gold standard, practically all governments of history have used their exclusive power to issue money to defraud and plunder the people." - Friedrich A.  Hayek, 1974 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We are a mobile culture. The vast majority of us begin our day by getting into a vehicle and driving to work.  Some of us, once we reach work drive again to reach work details. We are accustomed to driving everywhere.  We drive to the store for groceries and supplies; we drive to schools, work, doctors, etc.

When the SHTF most of us who live in a densely populated area are not going to be entirely comfortable just hunkering down where we live and hoping for the best.  Those that choose to bug-in in a suburban or urban environment are pretty much going to be sitting ducks for the lawlessness that will follow. 

You may have a decent supply of firearms and ammunition, fortified defenses and large stocks of provisions, but in reality most every house is susceptible to penetration and destruction. Fire is a prime example.  Are your defenses such that if your house was burning down around you that you could bug-in and survive? If you haven’t considered that then you should.  You may have a concrete basement with hidden entrances and exits but it’s sitting beneath a large pile of flammables.  It’s going to get mighty hot and hard to breathe. If you’re in an apartment that’s not on the ground floor, you’re in even more danger.

Of course you may take out a few marauders before they realize you aren’t going to be easy pickings, but word will quickly spread that you are there and you aren’t letting anyone in nor giving away your provisions without a fight.  Believe me, most of the people doing the raiding are not going to benevolent and generous and just walk away and leave you alone because you’re a hard target.  The mind set will be if they can’t have it you can’t either. Fire will be one of the first thoughts to enter into the equation if they can’t breach your defenses. Heavy equipment can also make your defenses inappropriate in one fell swoop as well.  Don’t worry, if you manage to discourage them the first go round, they’ll be back.

If you’re location cannot withstand burning down around you or being structurally destroyed then you still need a mobile plan.

If you’re on foot with nothing more than a bugout bag, defensive weapons and some skill sets then that’s the most basic level and you’re really going to be on your own.  Your survivability level is somewhere around zero to ten percent. There is no way to predict or control the situation as you are subject to all manner of environmental conditions and threats whether they be natural, hostile parties or geographical.  The best you can do is to have several predetermined and reconnoitered routes that you have physically traversed and are in good enough physical condition to complete and then hope for the best and pray a lot. And stay concealed as much as possible.

Those who seek to take what is yours and/or do you harm are more than likely going to have much better intel on the immediate urban/suburban environment of the streets than you are.  That’s their domain and they will quickly occupy the most defensible positions to their best advantage.  They also have much more experience than you do on living with little or nothing in despicable conditions.  This will be their turf.  They already occupy it, you don’t.  Sure, there are plenty of dumb criminals out there but once packs are formed they will have intelligent, crafty leaders who have the knowledge and experience to direct them intelligently.

I advise that everyone should have a mobile preparation plan in mind regardless of whether you need to bugout to reach a retreat or safer location, or you’re already at your retreat and well stocked for long-term survival.  Any fortification or retreat can be breached or laid to siege.

Urban and suburban dwellers should keep a well maintained vehicle(s) with enough fuel and reserves to reach where you plan to go without having to refuel from an outside source.  Supplies should be pre-packed and able to be loaded in less than fifteen minutes or less if not kept in the vehicles or trailers ahead of time. 

Optimally you should always be gathering intel and maintain a constant situational awareness of ongoing events. The best case scenario is to know when to go before the SHTF. Not after.

In any emergency you are going to have multiple situations to consider that can change at any given moment.  Having mobile preps covered ahead of time will allow you to concentrate on the situation at hand and not be distracted wondering whether or not you remembered to bring everything or what route(s) to take.

For now, it’s best to map out several routes, drive them under various weather conditions and take note of areas that could prove difficult under varying conditions.

I’m not going to cover the myriad of vehicles that could or should be considered.  Much like firearms and various calibers, when it comes down to it something is better than nothing and have what you can afford.  Just don’t go overboard if you can’t afford it.  In reality a vehicle merely gets you from point A to point B.

Cargo trailers, camp trailers and/or motor homes enhance your departure time by being able to be pre-loaded and inventoried ahead of time and simply hooked up and/or driven away almost immediately. They can also provide longer term amenities if you can’t reach your destination as soon as you might have thought.

Convoys will have better chances of success in hostile territory than lone vehicles.  If you have a group you should work out the logistics of what vehicles take what positions, what frequencies and/or  channels you will utilize for unsecure communications.  This might include code words, hand-signals, phrases and uncommon languages that could be used in-transit in the case that others may be listening in.

Convoys should have patrol vehicles, point vehicles, defensive vehicles and pre-planned defensive strategies in the case of attack. Even in war zones it is rare that every vehicle in a convoy is taken out or the entire convoy captured or killed.  A convoy gives you a fight or flight response to any hostile or emergency situation.  It goes without saying that tools and implements to clear roads of obstacles and vehicles should definitely be considered.

All vehicles should be armed and members practice various positions of defense while driving.  It’s not as easy as one might imagine to take aim and fire while moving at a high rate of speed, let alone while performing evasive maneuvers. Take the time to consider what positions in a vehicle are best for firing from and with what types of weapons.

Nearly every apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic , zombie and sci-fi movie that has even come close to portraying such a scenario rarely does not contain some sort of armed convoy scenario and for good reason.  Without mobility we increase the capability for failure tenfold in any given situation.  Flight is limited. If our retreats become no longer safe we’re going to have to bugout.  If we need to reach one before we can be safe, mobile preparations will need to be considered. Plain and simple.
Another point I wish to make with this article is for those of you who don’t have the resources for a retreat and don’t have any safe houses away from the chaos that you can bugout to then considering a short-term mobile solution may be for you.

It’s much easier to gather a group of people with a similar mindset in a similar situation than it is to find an existing retreat to take you in if you have little in the way of resources or developed skills. Let’s face it, there are plenty of “preppers” out there that just can’t afford much of what they would need to feel totally secure.  A group can alleviate some of the worry about how you’re going to make it.

You can form a group and pool your resources to purchase a low-cost undeveloped parcel of land in a remote location where you can rendezvous and figure it out from there or at least cache supplies.  Over time you can make developments to improve the land for long term habitation. Members could rotate spending time there to make improvements for the benefit of all.  It would also allow those without much in the way of expendable resources to coordinate with others in their mobile group so that each member can focus on stocking equipment and supplies that would benefit the entire group instead of everyone trying to gather everything alone. It’s better than being on your own and having no destination at all. 

If you can’t allocate the resources for a parcel of land your group can all agree on a remote location to rendezvous as far away from the immediate chaos as possible.  That will at least give you some breathing space.  I doubt there will be many forest rangers or BLM out ticketing your group for overstaying at a campground or camping in the desert or mountains in an area undesignated for camping or long-term stays.

I do not advise a constant state of mobility.  It just won’t work.  Fuel is going to be hard to come by and you cannot maintain long-term stability or defensibility in a mobile situation. For long-term survival you’re going to have to settle in somewhere.  You cannot exist on stored supplies alone. 

Having a good mobile prep plan can at the least get you through the most critical event horizon.  Of course in some situations it’s not going to be the best alternative or the most practical.  I offer it here as an alternative mindset to be included as part of your preparation plan, not the ultimate solution.

But for those who don’t have as many resources and even for those that do, mobile preparations should be taken seriously and added to any preparedness plan. If you live in a highly populated urban or suburban area you might want to consider storing your main vehicles/trailers/etc., on the outskirts of town and develop an alternate but efficient means to reach them in a SHTF scenario.

There are many factors to consider that are unique to where you live.  I just want to advise that your mobile preps consider more than just jumping in your vehicle with a 72 hour bag and heading for the hills. One should take into account the worst case scenario in your present plans and plan accordingly.

It’s easy to envision how it will all come down and how you respond, but just like on the battlefield things usually take on the age old adage of SNAFU. (Situation Normal All Fouled Up).
Here I shall outline my own present mobile preps in very general terms for the sake of OPSEC .  Our retreat is approximately 400 miles from our present location although we shall be living there by late Spring so our own plan will change at that time to consider the change of circumstance and location.

We currently have 5 alternate routes planned to reach the retreat location which does lie within the American Redoubt area. Three of the routes allow us to reach the location in just over 6 hours under optimal driving conditions.  Most of the routes we will utilize do not require us to pass through any towns over a 10,000 population.  Two of the routes pass through less than 500 until we are within an hour and then only one town with a population of 3000. 

We personally utilize two vehicles and two trailers. One of the vehicles is a 33 foot customized self-contained motor home, the other an older American made SUV.  The motor home is kept with the tanks full with a 600 to 900 mile range depending on conditions and terrain.  The SUV is never below ¾ of a tank and the stocked trailer holds two 5 gallon jerry cans on each side for a total of 40 gallons of fuel for the SUV. This is adequate for both vehicles to reach the retreat location without external sources.  Both vehicles are under a strict maintenance program to keep all systems viable and working.

Both vehicles obviously have trailer hitches with the required towing capacity for their respective trailers. One large cargo trailer is always stocked, having custom built shelving containing a 1 year supply of foodstuffs, 1 month supply of drinking water, a working stocked freezer, propane cooktop, 12 volt lights, an inverter and batteries recharged by solar as well as kerosene lamps, propane heater and more.  There is enough room left over that it could be slept in if needed. This trailer is somewhat heavy and is meant to be pulled by the motor home but we have tested it on a 120 mile drive towing it with the SUV with no problems though a bit slow going over steep grades.

The second, smaller cargo trailer is left empty to accommodate tools and equipment that can be loaded in under 15 minutes.  All tools and equipment that are not in immediate use are stored in marked containers and fit in the empty trailer.  We have test loaded it as well and can have it fully loaded with two of us loading in under fifteen minutes if need be.

The motor home is stocked with approximately 1 to 2 months of foodstuffs, a 90 gallon water tank, internal plumbing, 12V DC solar power, 110 with inverter or shore power and propane heat , water and stove.  We have also added a small wood cook stove with oven for redundancy and alternate fuel sources.  Communications consist of CB, Police scanner and two-way hand held radios.  Internet capability for mobile travel is via cellular modem though we do not depend upon it but have it as long as it there and a cell signal can be received. We keep a small inventory of spare parts deemed most likely to fail and a complete set of tools and equipment in the basement storage areas.

The SUV contains two 48 hour Bugout bags as well as a 72 hour vehicle kit at all times.  It has ample supplies and equipment for winter and summer use and can be slept in comfortably. We have ample weapons for defense and tactical use and train regularly. We have a few other individuals that would convoy in two other vehicles if need be but currently we have no long term plans to include them in the retreat locale as they are working on their own solution.

If needed we could abandon the motor home and continue on in the SUV and continue down to making it on foot in the worse case scenario.  This is our basic mobile plan.  Once we reach the retreat things change.

My wife and I are preppers primarily for our children.  Though we have lived rich, full lives, they are not yet even adolescents.  If what we are prepping for happens, it will be this generation that will rebuild this nation to greatness.  We want them to be equipped intellectually and spiritually.  We want them to understand the influences of the Greeks, Romans and British that helped our Founding Fathers craft the greatest nation this planet has known.  I refuse to entrust America to those that do not understand these truths or those that are not up to the task.

When asked what school our kids attend, I used to say that “We homeschool our children.”  Now I more accurately say, “my wife homeschools our children and I wholeheartedly support it.”  By the time my workday is done, the kids are done.  No homework – that’s one of the great blessings of homeschooling.  They become proficient in subjects and then they move on (unless they are reviewing, of course).

But we are not simply lazy by not wanting to help our kids with homework in the evenings.  We had our oldest in a great Christian private school for 2 years.  Then we moved her home because we believed (and believe it even more fervently now) that homeschooling was simply the best educational opportunity for our children. 

For the first two years at home, my wife used the “K-12” curriculum.  It was good.  The following year went from good to the best.  That year, a friend introduced us to the Classical Education model.  The Classical Education model has been used for most of human history and yet, I hadn’t even been aware of it.  Modern education is outcome based.  I am a product of outcome based education (I figure that will excuse any grammar errors that are contained herein).  

The advantages of a classical education are many.  More than anything, it teaches and equips students for a lifetime of learning.  Our kids are part of Classical Conversations, a nationwide homeschool community started by Leigh Bortins in 1996.  The students meet once per week as a group for 24 weeks throughout the school year.  Classical Conversations provides a curriculum and a forum for accountability and interaction with other students that are experiencing the same rich educational opportunity.   The mission statement of Classical Conversations is for students "to know God and to make Him known."

Modern Education vs. Classical Education
Modern education places the student in the center of a wheel with each subject forming the spokes of a wheel feeding information (segregated into separate unrelated subjects) to the child.  Most private Christian schools add a spoke of the wheel called Religion or Theology.  The other subjects in that Christian school might incorporate a couple of Bible verses here or there but the curriculum is not integrated with our Creator.  A classical education places God at the center of the wheel with all the subjects pointing to Him and from Him.  All the subjects are also integrated with each other (i.e., pointing to each other).  How can created beings study history, science or math and not focus on the Creator of this universe, these people and His place throughout history and the events of mankind?

Here is some additional insights from the Classical Conversations web site.

Classical Conversations combines classical learning and a Biblical world view.
Classical Conversations’ programs model the three stages of classical learning—grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Using age appropriate methods, children are taught the tools for studying any subject. Grammar stage is for ages 2-12. Grammar is imparting knowledge through memorizing of facts, facts and more facts: history, science, English grammar, poems, geography, Latin, math, books of the Bible, anything that parents know and wish to impart to their children. The tools of memorization are repeating the information and or action, over and over through reading it out loud to your child over and over, asking your child to repeat it, singing the information, drawing maps, and games like Jeopardy. The Dialectic Stage, ages 12-15 is taking all of the knowledge (facts) a child has learned plus new information and processing it in their minds to gain understanding. The Rhetoric Stage, ages 15-19, have gained a mastery of information and understanding. They take the information and demonstrate it to others through various methods.

The Classical model emphasizes mastery of facts during the early years. This gives students a foundation on which to build later learning and a solid framework where ideas can be categorized and compared as students mature. (For more information on the classical education model, read Dorothy Sayers’ 1948 essay The Lost Tools of Learning.)

Classical Conversations is set up in a three cycle format, and every three years the information repeats. So if a family joins when their child is in Kindergarten, the child will get the same base information twice through their sixth grade year. Parents are free to take the base information presented in Classical and expand on it in anyway they feel so led. Every Classical Conversation's community in the country does the same cycle each year. This year is Cycle 3.

Cycle 3 consists of:

History: American History, Presidents, Preamble and the Bill of Rights

History timeline (cards are available through Veritas Press. (Classical Conversations is creating their own History timeline cards which should be on the market, very soon),

Geography: American Geography ,

Science: Human body and Chemistry,

Math facts.

Latin: John 1:1-7.

Grammar: Verbs/irregular verbs, sentence parts, clauses, Sentence structures and patterns.


Cycle 1 (next year) consists of:

History: Ancient, Medieval and early modern

History timeline

Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America

Science: Biology, Geology, weather.


Latin: Noun Cases through 5th declension

Prepositions, Linking verbs


Cycle 2 consists of:

History: Medieval history through Free elections in South Africa, European

History timeline

Geography: South America and Caribbean

Science: Ecology and physics.

Math facts

Latin: Verb conjugations

Grammar: pronouns, eight parts of speech, adverbs, four kinds of sentences

As I said, my wife is doing all the work here.  I’m largely an observer (with the never-ending desire to get more involved) and I must say I’m truly blown away by the amount of information our four kids are learning and what a rich experience this is for them.  Oh how I wish I had this opportunity when I was young.  My wife is also learning amazing new things as she shares this journey with them.   I am unspeakably proud of my wife and our children.  

The Classical Conversations program is nearly doubling in size every year and I am not surprised.  It is a fantastic model.  It is very challenging and my wife and I are looking forward to our oldest (12) to enter the Challenge Program (7-12 grade).  We recently attended a parents meeting for this next phase and I left there so excited for our kids!  They will learn Latin, debate skills, try a mock murder case in 8th grade, utilize the Socratic method to solve problems in groups and critique their peers in a safe and encouraging environment.  Seventh graders will be able to draw the world map (freehand) and label every country and major geographic features (over 400 items!)  By 11th and 12th grade the students lead most of the discussions throughout their daily session.  My mind wonders what college or employer wouldn’t desperately want these students after this rigorous training. 

The Most Coveted T-shirt in 5th Grade
Classical Conversations has an annual “contest” in the Foundations program (K-6 grade) where students test for “Memory Master”.  For successful completion, the winners get a T-shirt.  I believe it is fitting that the “prize” is something that will either fall apart, sit in the back of the drawer or be outgrown in a couple years since the true “prize” is mastery of the task at hand which will serve them for a lifetime.  They will learn firsthand the amazing capacity of their brains and have the confidence to face great challenges in the years to come.

Memory Master is reciting from memory, before the school director.  It amounts to over 1,000 pieces of unique information, with all the work learned during the course of one year.  The bulk of the information changes every year while some items are constant, such as the timeline of human history (containing over 160 events) and math facts.  Examples of the material that needs to be committed to memory :

Science: What is an element?  “An element is a basic chemical substance defined by its atomic number and atomic mass.”  (this is considered 1 of the 1,000 pieces of information referenced above)
History: Tell me about Pearl Harbor.  “On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, causing the U.S. to join the Allies in World War II.”
Geography: Trails.  “Cumberland Road, Santa Fe Trail, Mormon Trail, Gila Trail, Old Spanish Trail, California Trail, Oregon Trail”
Grammar: Independent Clause.  “An independent clause expresses a complete thought like a sentence.”
Math: The Commutative Law.  “The Commutative Law for addition: a+b = b+a.  The Commutative Law for multiplication: a x b = b x a.”
Latin: Latin Nouns.  “vita /life; lux/light; homo/hominum nomen/name” (they are learning John 1:1-7 in Latin and English this year)

The material must be recited in four different levels of testing with the final round allowing for no mistakes.  The last year when our three older kids were testing for Memory Master was quite an anxious time since I knew how hard they had each worked on the material – and then it all comes down to a performance test (which I believe is great preparation for future tests in life, in school and by employers, etc.).

A final reason to consider homeschooling is the multiple advantages offered for preppers.

For Preppers, homeschooling offers the following advantages:

  1. Provide your kids with an unapologetic Christian world view that allows for a foundational understanding of the greatness of America (the America of our Founding Fathers) in addition to the critical influences of ancient Greek, Roman and later European cultures
  2. Homeschool wherever you live which offers the opportunity to move to your retreat location now  – or the opportunity to spend part of the year in more than one location.  I like to joke that our kids go to one of the most exclusive private schools in the country (not a joke, I guess.  I wouldn’t want them anywhere else).
  3. The cost/value of a homeschool education beats any private school education
  4. You can shape the curriculum to include or exclude whatever you want (subject to any restrictions that your state may impose) such as gardening, cooking, homesteading skills, etc. while you may choose to exclude environmentalism and multiculturalism.
  5. A guaranty of consistent, loving instructors that know your children better than any other teacher on earth could know them.
  6. Most children are directing their own schedule and instruction in 6th or 7th grade – which frees up the parent to focus on the critical years for younger students (reading and math fundamentals – so they can be independent in 6th grade) or frees up large blocks of the day when the youngest child achieves largely independent coursework.
  7. Homeschooling is highly adaptable for children with special needs.  In the words of one of the Classical Conversations Challenge Instructors (8th grade), every child is a gift from God and not a societal castaway destined to sit in a corner of a classroom with a “special” teacher.

And I’m sure I’m missing some others that your great readers might want to add.

I can’t recommend a Classical homeschooling education enough and it has been one of the greatest blessings for our family.   I expect it will have a generational impact on this country and an eternal impact for God’s Kingdom.

I'm writing regarding A Parent's Guide to Surviving School Rampage Shootings, by Greg Ellifritz. One important item I think that was missed was allowing any/all adults who choose to do so to be armed.  In the October, 1997 school shooting in Pearl, Mississippi an assistant principal ran to his car, got a gun, and stopped the episode. 

Gun free zones give the criminal huge numbers of potential hostages and victims.   The presence of armed folks makes it a bit more difficult for the bad guys to prevail. - W.B.

Mr. Rawles,
Mr. Tupreco has made some salient points in his article on your actions and statements after a shooting to protect you and yours. However some of what he says is blatantly false, at least in my neck of the woods. I am a retired police officer who was involved in five separate instances of deadly force during my career so I think I speak with some experience that Mr. Tupreco lacks. He states that police officers are focused only on clearing cases so they will interrogate you with that frame of mind even if your use of deadly force is justified. I personally handled several instances over the years where citizens used deadly force to protect themselves or loved ones from criminals. I not only was sympathetic to their justifiable use of deadly force I even suggested a citizens commendation for an elderly woman that shot a burglary suspect in the face as he tried to enter her home. I can similarly attest that the vast majority of my fellow officers were very inclined to assist citizens in these situations as much as we could.

Mr. Tupreco also states that police are assumed innocent and not required to give a statement prior to consulting counsel. On the contrary any citizen of the the USA can refuse to speak to law enforcement and request an attorney before saying anything. In contrast as a police officer involved in the use use of deadly force I was required to speak to internal affairs and perform a reenactment of these incidents that was video recorded. I'm not sure where Mr. Tupreco gets his information about police being given special treatment but he is simply wrong. As stated I am a retired police officer not an attorney but if you ever feel uncomfortable speaking to law enforcement simply stop. Request an attorney and say no more. Police Officers are on your side not adversaries to be feared interested only in clearance statistics.
Thank you, - Carl L.

SurvivalBlog's G.G. flagged this ominous news: U.S. on Pace for $1 Trillion Deficit. [JWR Adds: Beware, the debt service costs will explode, once interest rates rise!]

K.P. suggested this at Zero Hedge: Chris Martenson Interviews Robert Mish: Front-Line Evidence That We are Nowhere Near a Gold Bubble. [JWR Adds: Keep in mind that we are still staring down barrel of a big, albeit brief pullback in the precious metals and equities in next 30 days, as margin calls will likely cascade from CDS derivatives fallout. Buy on the dips!]

Goldman Sachs director quits 'morally bankrupt' Wall Street bank. (Thanks to Bob G. for the link.)

Kevin K. spotted this: CME Clearing Europe Vacates Registration as Derivatives Clearing Organization Prior to Greek CDS Payouts

Items from The Economatrix:

ISDA Determines Credit Event Has Occurred

Collapse Coming--Not Recovery

France's Upcoming Election Means Euro Devaluation -- And A Pop In Gold

Economic Consequences Of The High Oil Price

Ah, the amazing world of social networking. There are now niche web pages for every interest. I discovered that most states now have web pages specially tailored to help corrupt, gun-hating politicians keep track of their old friends, like this one. (To keep tabs on Bloomberg buddies like former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Now awaiting trial under a 38-charge felony indictment for an additional set of corruption charges, with a possible sentence of 30 years.) These sites are handy for planning future meet-ups and hang time. For example, this page will let you know that former Mayor Larry Langford has his dance card filled until May of 2023. Oh, but wait, there are also social networking pages for pedophiliac, gun-hating politicians. (There, you can find former Racine, Wisconsin Mayor Gary Becker, now serving a three year sentence.) They ought to do the same, to keep former governors in touch and congressmen's wives all atwitter. To my way of thinking, the greatest failing of these trendy pages is their lack of catchy names. Perhaps they could use: "BloomberglarBook", "HandDeliverThatFatEnvelopeSpace", or "MayorsLinkedInMaximumSecurity."

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Rise Of The Prepper -- Could The Recent Popularity Cause Problems For Preppers?

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Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has an IFF malfunction: U.S. troops at Afghan base told to lay down weapons before meeting with Panetta

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Andre D. was the first of several readers to suggest this piece: My doomsday tab: $130K on bunkers, guns and more

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Encyclopaedia Britannica turns a page, ends print edition. (Thanks to James K. for the link.)

"Corruptisima republica plurimae leges." ("The more corrupt a republic, the more laws.") - Tacitus , The Annals of Imperial Rome

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This is the last day of Ready Made Resources' sale on Mountain House canned freeze dried foods. They are offering 25% off and free shipping. The sale ends at midnight Eastern time, so order soon!

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I walked into the high school wearing two guns and a bullet resistant vest.  I had a rifle, six spare magazines, and a ballistic helmet stashed close by in my car.  It was Wednesday, April 21, 1999, the day after what had been the worst school shooting in United States history.  Two high school kids had just killed 12 of their fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado.  The television was awash in the news coverage and everyone was scared.

Parents, students, and teachers were worried about a copycat shooting in the town where I worked as a police officer.  My town was suburban, affluent, and had a great school system…just like Columbine.  The school administration had asked for extra security from the police department and I was the officer they sent.  I spent the next two days patrolling the halls of the high school trying to reassure the students and teachers that they were safe.  No one believed me.  I didn’t believe it myself.  For two straight days I pre-planned my responses to any possible violent scenarios that I could encounter.  I was confident in my shooting and tactical abilities, but I knew that I couldn’t be everywhere at once.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be any more of a deterrent than the school resource officer who had engaged the shooters at Columbine.

Students and teachers were asking me questions about what they should do in the event that their school was the next to make the headlines.  I feigned confidence, but I had to admit that I really didn’t have any good answers.  For police officers, Columbine was a game changer.  Everything we thought we knew about school shootings had changed…and we had yet to come up with any better solutions.  All we knew was that everyone; parents, teachers, and cops needed to improve their knowledge and tactics to ensure that another Columbine didn’t happen in our city.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with any violence at the school during my two days of patrolling the halls.  But my lack of knowledge about school shootings troubled me.  I wanted to be able to provide definitive answers to any questions that might be asked of me the next time.  Soon thereafter, I was assigned as my police department’s full time training officer and was sent all around the country to acquire the skills needed to teach our officers how to prevail in the face of lethal force encounters.  During my last 12 years in the training position, my quest for knowledge about school shootings has lead me to research the history of previous events and the psychology of the shooters.  I’ve read books, talked to school officials and interviewed people who have responded to school shootings in their own jurisdictions.  I’ve studied and analyzed the actions of students, teachers, and police officers who responded to critical incidents in schools.
There is a lot of conflicting information available about the phenomenon of school shootings.  Parents, students and teachers are often overwhelmed and paralyzed by the vast quantity of school shooting research that has been published during the last decade.  Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a single definitive source outlining any simple, easy-to-understand measures that parents can take to keep their children safe at school.  My goal is to remedy that with this article.  I’ve learned a lot in my last 12 years of study and I won’t again be at a loss for words when asked difficult questions like I was asked in that school in 1999.  Now I know the answers, and I will be sharing them with every parent here.

Recognizing the Shooter and Preventing the Shooting

Contrary to popular belief, there is no single profile that describes the school shooter.  Shooters have ranged in age from pre-teen to adults.  Both men and women have pulled the trigger in schools.  The majority of school shooters are young males, white, non-urban, and have been victims of bullying, assault, or intimidation.  There is no other useful physical “profile”.  Most school shooters were known to have difficulty coping with significant losses or personal failures.  Many had been prescribed anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medications.  Most also had easy access to weapons. 
The idea that school shooters are always trying to “get even” with people that have bullied them is not accurate.  Killers have initiated shooting events by targeting certain individuals, but generally they soon move on to the school’s population as a whole.  In Columbine, one of the first victims was a student with Down’s syndrome who had never bullied anyone.

This physical profile doesn’t really help us.  There are dozens of kids who match it in every school.  What does help us to recognize the shooter is looking at his or her behavior.
The one behavior that precedes almost every school shooting is detailed planning.  School shooters are influenced by past events.  They study and learn from the successes and failures of past shooters.  Infamy has become their prime motivator. Many shooters recognize that they will be captured or killed and want to “live on” through their body count.  They will create written “manifestos” and YouTube “training videos”.  Occasionally those publications, plans and videos will be released before the shooting actually occurs.  Parents should be alert and must be able to recognize these written or recorded plans when they see them.

Most school shooters told at least one other student about their plans for the attack before they acted.  Harvard University did a study to determine why the students who knew about the shooting plans didn’t tell the authorities.  The students reported that they didn’t believe that the shooter would actually follow through with the plan.  Teach your children to tell you about anyone who talks about planning a school shooting, whether your child believes the potential shooter or not.  This may be the single most influential action that you as a parent can take to prevent someone from shooting your child or someone else in a school.

With the increase in numbers of School Resource Officers (police officers assigned to a school, also called SROs), part of the shooter’s planning process involves taking their presence into account.  School shooters are wearing body armor and helmets, anticipating armed resistance.

Kip Kinkel had more than 1,100 rounds [of .22 Long Rifle] on his person during his shooting at Thurston High School.  Cho had over 800 unfired rounds on his person when he died at Virginia Tech.  Thomas Hamilton had 743 rounds on his person when he shot up a school in Dunblane, Scotland.  They know the best way to achieve lasting infamy is to score a high body count.  They need guns, ammunition, and body armor to do that.

All of the weapons and equipment have to get into the school somehow.  Usually the shooters carry it in themselves.  Teach your children to be especially aware of fellow students or adults carrying large packages into the schools.  Any massive duffle bags, large boxes or huge backpacks should be viewed with suspicion.  If the packs seem larger than normal, much heavier than average, or carried in a manner inconsistent with the way other students are carrying them, it might be a valuable early warning sign.  A school policy that limits the carrying of backpacks between classes would help to more easily identify students who are carrying weapons and ammunition.

The recent school shootings at the Platte Canyon High School, the West Nickel Mine Amish School, and Virginia Tech all involved the shooter using some method to barricade doors.  This both slows law enforcement response and limits the victims’ opportunities for escape.  The carrying of building materials or anything that could be used to fashion a barricade into a school should be a warning sign that teachers and students should look for.  If your child sees someone carrying chains, locks, zip ties, handcuffs or any type of lumber at school, he or she should immediately notify school officials or call the police.

Student Response During a School Shooting and “The Myth of the Lockdown”

Since that fateful day in 1999 in Columbine, schools have become much more proactive in planning for a shooting event.  Many states now mandate that every school submit formalized emergency plans to both the state board of education and the local police department.  Some states even mandate that every school conduct a certain number of emergency drills during the course of the school year. 
School administrators have complied with these directives with varying amounts of forethought and planning.  Some schools with which I have worked have virtually perfect tactical plans for almost any conceivable encounter.  Some others have barely complied with even the most basic of legal obligations.

Most schools have settled on the “lockdown” as the centerpiece of their response strategy.  When teachers or administrators become aware of a threat in the school, they make a general announcement (either overt or coded) triggering students to “lockdown”.  That means that all students are to immediately enter the closest classroom and hide down on the floor in a position where they cannot be seen from the hallway.  Teachers are responsible for directing the students, securing their classroom doors as best they can, turning out the lights and blocking the windows with paper or curtains.  Other teachers, administrators, or custodial staff members are responsible for clearing hallways and other public areas as well as locking all exterior doors. The students and teachers stay in this “locked down” mode until they get some type of an “all clear” signal from administrators or police.

The lockdown idea is not a bad one.  Lockdowns are generally helpful if the school is located in an area with a rapidly responding police force.  They provide temporary marginal protection for students and teachers and deny some areas to potential shooters.   They also allow rapidly responding police officers to find and neutralize the threat in the school.  Lockdowns can also be used to protect students from a threat that has not yet entered the school.  They are often triggered to deny entry to an armed criminal who is fleeing from police in the vicinity of a school.
The problem with lockdowns is not with the concept, but with the execution.  Most schools do not train for any exigency except the lockdown.  They lock students down in poorly defensible positions and don’t tell students and teachers what to do if the lockdown fails or is breached.  In essence, there is no “Plan B”.  If the students can’t quickly lock themselves down or a police response is delayed, there is no other plan.  Students and teachers must just cower in fear and hope that they will be rescued.  That’s unacceptable.
Lockdowns have failed in the past. The shooter in Red Lake, Minnesota killed an unarmed security guard purposely to trigger a lockdown.  He wanted the lockdown so that he could easily find and target the victims he most wanted to kill.  After the lockdown was triggered, he went to the classroom where he knew his victims would be hiding, shot a hole in the glass window of the door and entered the locked down room.  He then killed the teacher and five students before he was shot by police.
Students at Virginia Tech attempted unsuccessfully to lockdown individual classrooms once they knew a shooter was prowling the halls.  Only one classroom out the three that attempted this tactic was able to deny entry to the shooter.
Some other issues that come into play (but are rarely considered by school administrators) are the following:

  • What if the classroom door cannot be locked from the inside?
  • What happens if the shooter pulls the fire alarm during a lockdown?
  • What should teachers do if the shooter has a hostage and is threatening to kill him or her unless the lockdown is breached?
  • How should severe medical emergencies be handled in a locked down classroom?  Is there any plan to evacuate gunshot victims safely?
  • What should the teachers and students do if the door to the locked down room is breached by the shooter?
  • What are teachers instructed to do if the shooter kills a staff member and takes a master key or ID card that gives him access to the entire school?
  • How would a school administrator respond if an armed student orders the administrator to give the “all clear” signal to end the lockdown?
  • Some school shooters have utilized explosives to augment their primary weapons.  What should locked down students do if the school becomes structurally unstable due to the effects of any bombs that the shooter has placed?

As a parent, you should confer with school officials to verify that they have plans to address any such contingencies.  If they don’t, your child isn’t likely to be safe in the event a shooter enters the school!

Escape- The Best Option
In studying every school shooting that has occurred in the United States, as well as many that have happened in other parts of the world, I have come to the conclusion that escaping the school is the best option for individual students in a school shooting situation.  Virtually all students who get out of the school (even if they have already been shot) survive.
In the Virginia Tech shooting, the students who did not get shot were those who jumped out of a window or ran to another part of the building.  Most of the students who attempted to lock down the room, hide, or play dead were shot.  There are many other examples of fleeing students surviving while their counterparts who locked down in a room were shot.
If you as a parent are unsatisfied in the preparations of your child’s school, you should teach your child to run at the sound of gunfire and not be locked down.  Note explicitly the advice I just gave; if your child hears gunfire within the school, he or she should flee via the closest exit in the opposite direction from where the gunfire is coming.  I did not say that your child should never go into lockdown!  If there is an external threat (like a fleeing criminal outside) or a different type of hazardous situation (like a domestic violence incident between divorcing parents), lockdown is likely the safest response for your child.  But if your child hears gunfire in the school, escape will almost always be the better option.

Ideally, your child should escape to a location that has been pre-identified by you.  Pick a couple of safe locations, ideally public areas that are some distance from the school.  Instruct your child to flee to the safe area and call you to be picked up.  Make the location far enough away from the school that it isn’t enclosed within the barricaded traffic perimeter.  In the event of a shooting, police will shut down all the roads adjacent to the school.  You’ll want your “safe place” far enough outside this perimeter that your access to it won’t be limited.

Children who haven’t thought about safe areas run AWAY from danger during shootings.  They end up getting lost or hiding in sub-optimal positions like under beds or in bathroom stalls.  In the event of gunfire, people should run TOWARD safety, preferably your pre-identified rendezvous spot, and not just AWAY from the shooter.

Teach your child what type of materials stop bullets (including rifle bullets).  These materials are called “cover”.  If under fire, you child should run toward the nearest piece of hard cover that will deflect a bullet.  Concrete walls, car engines, filled bookshelves, and steel doors will likely stop or deflect most bullets.  Practice by playing a game of making your children identify pieces of cover occasionally when you are out together in a public location.  That will help build your child’s awareness skills and refresh their knowledge base.

Let your children know that a backpack filled with school books is likely to stop handgun bullets.  If your child has a backpack loaded with a couple of books, instruct him to put it on (in front of the body if necessary) between himself and the shooter as improvised body armor.  Better yet, outfit your child’s backpack with armor panels from old bullet resistant vests purchased cheaply on EBay.  Even if the vest panel is expired, I’ve never had one fail to stop a bullet that it was rated to stop despite the panel’s age.  I’ve shot vest panels as old as 25 years and they still work.  As long as the panel has not been submerged in water or left out in the sun for extensive time periods, it will still stop bullets.

Make sure your child knows not to run to the police for safety. The police are often the ones drawing gunfire from the shooter(s). There have also been shootings (Norway is one example) where the shooters have impersonated police officers.  Have your child stick to your plan of getting to a rendezvous location and awaiting your arrival.  Don’t allow them to force a police officer to make a decision between protecting a single child and going after the shooter.  The officer must stop the shooter.  He may be the only one nearby capable of accomplishing that task. Ensure that your child isn’t the one who distracts the officer from his primary objective.

You must also teach your children to avoid denial.  In Virginia Tech, students rationalized the sounds of gunfire as construction noises.  Students in Columbine initially thought the gunfire was caused by firecrackers being lit as a student prank.  The students at Beslan thought balloons were popping. Students and teachers in shooting events universally express the thought that “I couldn’t believe it was happening”.  This denial and rationalization leads to a paralysis.  The waiting for verification of actual gunfire takes time that can better be used to escape.

Instruct your children that if they are in a school and think they hear gunfire, they shouldn’t await instructions.  They can’t delay while trying to figure out what’s happening.  If they think it’s gunfire, empower them to act!  Immediately escape!  The people in active shooter events who wait around to be sure that the noises they are hearing are actually gunfire typically delay so long that they no longer have any viable options except locking down

Building a Better Lockdown

If your child is unable to escape due to the physical proximity of the shooter or if he or she is forced to lock down by a school official, there are a few things that they should do to maximize the utility of the lockdown procedure.

If they have a choice about lockdown locations, tell them to avoid rooms that cannot be locked or rooms that have no alternate escape routes.  Rooms higher than the second floor should be avoided as well.
Talk to your child’s school principal about creating a door and window numbering system.  Numbers should be on the outside and inside of every classroom door and window.  All exterior doors should also be numbered.  If students are locked down in a certain room, they need to be able to easily see the room number (from the inside), so they can better direct emergency responders to help them.  Cops and firemen can also use room numbers written outside of windows to identify alternate entry/exit points.

Another topic of conversation between you and the school administrator should be the mandatory safety equipment that should be kept in every classroom.  Every school classroom should have a survival kit.  The kit needs to have different supplies depending on the age and needs of the students.  All kits should contain:

  • Resources to barricade doors (wedges, ropes, etc.)
  • Paper and writing instruments to communicate silently both within the classroom and with emergency responders outside
  • Medical supplies suitable for treating gunshot wounds (bandages and tourniquets)
  • Alternate communication devices (cell phones or radios)
  • Food, water, and entertainment options (for younger children)
  • A strong flashlight and dust masks.  They are essential to have in the kit in case of a power outage or if the shooter is also using explosives.  Smoke, dust and darkness are very common in more extended school shootings.

If the classroom has a drywall wall separating it from another classroom or hallway, consider adding a razor knife, hammer, or small hatchet to the emergency kit.  These items will allow you to cut through the drywall to create an alternate escape route.  Have a method to break window glass to facilitate escape as well.  Glass breaking window punches are available for sale online for around five dollars.

If the classroom is on the second or third floor and has a window, adding ropes, rope ladders or some alternate method of safely lowering students from the window to the survival kit is essential.
On lockdowns, teach your children to place desks, chairs and other furniture in the pathway of the potential shooter to slow his entry into the room.  PowerPoint or overhead projectors can be directed at the door to blind the shooter with bright light if he makes entry into the room.
Most importantly, you must instruct your child to break lockdown and escape or fight in the following circumstances:

  • If the door is broken down or unlocked and the shooter makes entry into the room where your child is locking down.
  • If your child sees large amounts of smoke or a fire that threatens the classroom.  If the fire alarm is triggered without your child seeing smoke or flames, they should stay put.  Some past school shooters (like the ones in Jonesborough, Arkansas) pulled the fire alarms to force students to move into an area where they had set up an ambush.
  • If the building becomes structurally unstable due to damage from explosive devices.

If lockdown is breached, your child will have to choose between either fighting or fleeing.  No other option will likely be successful.  As a parent, only you are in a position to determine which course of action is best for your child.  If you think that fighting would be a viable option (if your child is large, athletic, aggressive, competitive, or has specialized training), teach your child to push the shooter’s gun down and away from them as they attack his eyes or throat.  Those targets are likely to cause the quickest incapacitations and require the least amount of skill and strength.
Better yet, teach them to use improvised weapons such as sharpened pencils, fire extinguishers, or scissors against the same vulnerable targets.  If the students are old enough to comprehend, have them come up with a plan for a simultaneous attack with several of their other aggressive classmates.  Five or six children, even if they are pre-teens, can overwhelm a grown man if they coordinate their actions.

One additional skill to teach your children (depending on age) is how to operate common firearms.  Many school shooters are physically stopped by their potential victims while the shooter has a weapon malfunction or is in the act of reloading.  Older students should be trained specifically how to recognize when a shooter has a malfunction or is out of ammunition.  That is the moment when the shooter is most vulnerable and least likely to be a danger to your child.  If your child can stay behind cover until he or she sees that the shooter’s gun is empty, have them wait until that moment before fleeing or counterattacking.

Other viable options
Some children are emotionally incapable of acting with aggression.  Others are not athletic enough to flee from a gunman.  What can those children do?
Without a doubt, fleeing, locking down, or attacking the shooter are the most viable strategies to ensure your child’s safety.  If they cannot adopt one of those techniques, there may be other strategies they can employ.

Several shootings have been stopped when the shooter has been calmly confronted by another student or teacher telling him to stop shooting.  While it probably shouldn’t be a person’s first choice of tactics, it can work when potential victims have no other options.  Some teachers and students don’t have the temperament to fight back or lack the physical ability to escape.  Train those people to talk.  Telling the shooter: “Stop shooting.  That’s enough for today.  Put the gun down” may work and is a better strategy than freezing in fear. 

Hiding may be another option.  Don’t allow your child to hide under a desk in the same room as the shooter.  That seldom works.  Desks don’t stop bullets and some shooters (Cho at Virginia Tech, for example) specifically practiced tactics that included targeting students hiding under desks and chairs.   Every student who hid under a desk at Virginia Tech was shot. If your child can’t do anything but hide, have him or her hide in an area where a shooter might not look.  Someplace like a janitor’s closet or up in the drop ceiling might be a decent location.

If there is absolutely no other option, instruct your child to hide amongst the injured students and “play dead”.  It is the least successful option of any I have identified, but it has worked in a few situations.  “Playing dead” should only be used as a transitional strategy to buy time to implement another tactic.  You should tell your child to escape as soon as the shooter moves on to another location.

Educational institutions and police officers are much better prepared to respond to the school shooter than they were just a few years ago.  Tactics continue to evolve and we all continue to learn from these tragic events.  Now it’s time to do your part as a parent.  Take an active interest in your child’s survival.  Discuss these ideas with your school administrator and teach your children how to respond to the school shooter.  It may be frightening to think about.  It may put you at odds with your child’s teachers. But I promise you that your child will be more likely to survive a school shooting and you’ll be thankful that you made the effort.

As a police officer, I am committed to protecting your children from a school shooter.  My fellow officers and I will risk our lives to save your children.  Help us out by teaching your kids what to do when someone starts shooting at their school.  Every child who can keep himself safe frees an officer to rush in and stop the shooter.  Teaching your child how to be safe will ultimately protect the entire school.
If you are interested in learning more about previous school shootings and how to prevent future events, please check out the following books:

Terror at Beslan - John Giduck
Shooter Down - John Giduck
Ceremonial Violence - Jonathan Fast
School Shootings - Joseph Lieberman
Stop Teaching our Kids to Kill - Dave Grossman
Innocent Targets - Michael and Chris Dorn
Surviving a School Shooting - Loren Christensen

About the Author:
Greg Ellifritz is a 16-year veteran police officer, spending the last 12 years as the full time tactical training officer for his central Ohio agency.  In that position, he is responsible for developing and instructing all of the in-service training for a 57-officer police department.  Prior to his training position, he served as patrol officer, bike patrol officer, precision marksman, and field training officer for his agency.

He has been an active instructor for the Tactical Defense Institute since 2001 and a lead instructor for TDI’s ground fighting, knife fighting, impact weapons, and extreme close quarters shooting classes.

Greg holds instructor, master instructor, or armorer certifications in more than 75 different weapons systems, defensive tactics programs, and law enforcement specialty areas.  In addition to these instructor certifications, Greg has trained with most of the leading firearms and edged weapons instructors in the country.

Greg has been an adjunct instructor for the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Academy, teaching firearms, defensive tactics, bike patrol, knife defense and physical fitness topics to officers around the state.  He has taught firearms and self defense classes at the national and international level through the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, The American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers and Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.  Greg holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and has written for several publications including: ‘The Firearms Instructor”, “Ohio Police Chief”, “Combat Handguns”, “Concealed Carry Magazine” and “The Journal of the American Women’s Self Defense Association”. 

He currently teaches classes through his company, Active Response Training.  For more information, you can reach by e-mail at

Bring to mind one of the post-TEOTWAWKI scenarios you most frequently imagine, be it the after-effects of a worldwide flu pandemic, series of natural disasters, economic collapse, or nuclear war.  Is this a world into which you’d want to bring children?  At least for the short-term aftermath, I bet you wouldn’t.  Not while you may be on the move or actively defending your retreat or community from danger.  However…”birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it”…c’mon, sing along with me and Cole Porter…”let’s do it, let’s fall in love!”  As the song says, love is natural and often accompanied by relations that can result in babies being born.  What if the methods of contraception you had long taken for granted were not readily available?  If your bunker isn’t well-stocked with condoms, you’re probably out of luck.  Prescription contraception?  Won’t be available.  Medical or surgical interventions (think IUD or vasectomy) won’t be worth the risk, in the absence of ongoing qualified medical care, even if they are available. 

Of course, the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancy is abstinence.  But assuming that abstinence is not the preferred option, how can heterosexual couples engage in sexual intimacy including intercourse and prevent ill-timed pregnancy without contraception?  By observing the woman’s body’s natural function over time and planning intercourse during the days when she is not ovulating, that’s how.  Conveniently, this method also helps couples plan the optimum times to conceive a child as well.  Also known as Natural Family Planning (NFP) or the Rhythm Method, the essence of this approach is that women and their loving menfolk track the ovulation cycle and avoid intercourse or make sure to use a barrier method of contraception (diaphragm, vaginal sponge, condoms, all of which should be used with spermicide to be most effective) when the woman is ovulating.  How does one do that?

The first requirement for an ovulating woman is to understand your monthly fertility pattern or menstrual cycle.  (Men are fertile from birth, but women only become fertile after achieving sexual maturity, usually around age 12-13 and lasting until menopause, which may start between the ages of 40 and 60.)  Days of the cycle may be divided as follows:

  • days when you are fertile (able to get pregnant)
  • days when you are infertile
  • days when fertility is unlikely, but possible

Day 1 of the cycle is the first day of a woman’s menses, or period; the average cycle lasts 28 days, but a healthy cycle might last from 12 to 35 days and vary throughout a year or over a number of years.  The amount of time in the cycle before ovulation--crucial information for pregnancy planning,--aries from woman to woman and sometimes monthly for the same woman.  The period always starts (unless a woman is pregnant) in 14 to 16 days.  The period is the shedding of the blood and uterine lining that will not be needed, as there is no fertilized egg present.

Women with a regular menstrual cycle, which means they menstruate for the same duration each month with about the same number of days between the first day of once cycle and the next, have about nine or more fertile days each month. Should you not want to get pregnant, do not have intercourse on the days you are fertile or use a barrier method (condoms, diaphragm with spermicide, etc) of birth control (this could be a way of conserving your limited supply of barrier contraception, if you have any.)

The knowledge of when you are definitely or likely to be fertile is essential both for pregnancy planning and natural avoidance.   There are three ways to track fertility; they involve monitoring:

  • basal body temperature
  • the monthly calendar
  • cervical mucus

The most accurate method is to combine all three approaches.

Basal body temperature

The average human body temperature is 98.6 degrees, and most people have a consistent body temperature that is close to 98.6 degrees. Basal body temperature is your temperature when you first wake in the morning, before you start moving around a lot.  During ovulation, a woman’s body temperature rises, though usually by less than a degree.  By monitoring body temperature over time, a woman can learn what her basal body temperature is and be able to note when it rises.  This method requires a special thermometer, available at most drug and grocery stores; if you aren’t currently using one, you may consider adding it to your preparedness supplies.  Remember, " two is one and one is none", so think about purchasing a few.  Illness, alcohol consumption, or getting out of bed and moving around can all raise basal body temperature.

Most women have ovulated within 3 days of the temperature spike; you’re most likely to get pregnant 2-3 days before the temperature spike and 12-24 hours after ovulation.  This gives an average 6-day window of likely fertile days.  Sperm can live inside a woman for up to three days, which extends the window to 9 days.

Calendar Method

This method involves recording your menstrual cycle over a period of time, at least 6 months, to determine the pattern.  Projecting into the future, you may calculate the days you’ll be most fertile by subtracting 18 from the total number of days in your shortest cycle (for example, 26 days.) Take this number (in our example, it would be 8) and count ahead that many days from the first day of your next period, once you get it. Mark that date on your calendar; it is the first day you're likely to be fertile.  Then subtract 11 from the total number of days in your longest cycle (for example, 32 days.) Count ahead that many days (in our example, it would be 21) from the first day of your next period. Mark this date on your calendar. The time between the two dates is your most fertile window and the time when you would want to abstain from intercourse or use a barrier method of contraception.  In our example, the window is 13 days, which is long but possible.

This method is the least reliable, so you should always use it in combination with the basal body temperature or cervical mucus method.

Cervical Mucus

A woman’s cervix, which is the portion of the uterus where is joins with the vagina, produces mucus; the presence or quality of this mucus is an indicator of ovulation. The menstrual cycle is driven by hormones, and the same hormones change the quality and quantity of this mucus.   For a few days after a woman’s period, there is no cervical mucus present.  As the egg starts to mature in the ovaries (this happens monthly for a fertile woman), cervical mucus increases and appears at the vaginal opening, cloudy and sticky.  Just before ovulation, the mucus become more copious, clear, and slippery (think egg whites.)  This is when you are most fertile.  About four days later, it should change again.  This method (really all three methods) requires the use of a calendar to record your observations.  Label each day “sticky”, “dry”, or “wet.”  You are most fertile at the first signs of wetness after your period ends.

Many couples who are trying to conceive purchase ovulation kits or fertility monitors from drugstores. These kits detect surges in luteinizing hormone, which triggers ovulation.  You could store some of these kits in your cache, but they are more for people who are trying to conceive than for people who are trying to prevent pregnancy.

Of course, times of significant stress (i.e. TEOTWAWKI) may disrupt a woman’s regular menstrual and ovulation cycle, so this method may not be 100% reliable.  The Center for Disease Control describes it as being 75 – 99% effective at preventing pregnancy (compare with condom use, generally accepted as being 85 – 98% effective); of course, natural family planning will not prevent sexually transmitted infections.  It is also worth noting that chances of conceiving or of  carrying a pregnancy to term diminish after age 35.  According to the National Institute of Health, “For women aged 35-39 years the chance of conceiving spontaneously is about half that of women aged 19-26 years.” (“ABC of Subfertility”, 2003.) Postmenopausal women are not able to become pregnant.

If the anticipated circumstances of your survival situation make it absolutely undesirable to encourage pregnancy (hopefully for a limited time), you will want to include a great number of condoms in your cache.  They take up little space but should be rotated like other perishable items; over time, latex breaks down and loses its strength and flexibility.  Condoms have expiration dates on the packaging.

Besides pregnancy planning and/or prevention, there are a number of other sexual health topics commonly covered in advanced first aid training that are beyond the scope of this article.  A crucial part of preparedness is training and practice; consider taking an advanced first aid or first responder course.  If your natural family planning doesn’t work, then you may need to know how to safely deliver a baby!

Dear JWR:
In response to Tupreco's After the Shooting submission in SurvivalBlog, I have two observations to offer:
1: None of the scenarios or situations in that essay reasonably described those I've encountered in the aftermath of three separate lethal force incidents. Happily, in two of those, there were multiple witnesses, so the situation was pretty far removed from the Home Alone scenarios so described in Tupreco's thoughts. That is not to say that they aren't valid, in some locales; just an observation that in some areas, things may not go nearly as simply as described; in others, the investigatory process may be a whole lot more benign. His words of caution are well-advised, but beware that in being cautious, you do not appear to be antagonistic toward the investigators, who may well be antagonistic to your own best interests. I was much, much more fortunate than that. But your mileage may vary.
2:  I have been provided by my attorney with a laminated card for presentation to any responding or investigating officers, along with his business card with home and cell phone numbers, so that he can respond if needed to provide his assistance and effectively respond to their questioning. Once again, in some locales, presentation of such information might annoy or enrage some investigators who demand to control the interview process to their benefit and satisfaction. In my own present locale, my local sheriff has reviewed it and told me he has no problem with it, and wouldn't want any investigator who was upset by it on his department- he views it as the citizen equivalent of the "Miranda Warning" card carried by his officers. It reads as follows:

If I have given you this card, it is because in fear for my life it has been necessary to take action to defend myself. I am willing to sign a criminal complaint against the attacker. I will also point out witnesses and evidence. This is a stressful and traumatic experience for me. Therefore, I wish to make no further statements until I have spoken with my attorney. I also do not consent to any searches. I will cooperate fully once I have consulted with my attorney. As a lawfully armed citizen, I ask you for the same courtesy that you would show a fellow officer who has been involved in a similar situation.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Regards, - George S.

Mr. Rawles,
 A couple points of interest regarding Pat's article on the P226.  I've owned a P226 Extreme for over a year now, and I love it.  Pat's review was dead on in analyzing the gun's performance.  As for the Mecgar magazines and their apparently magical ability to fit three extra rounds in practically the same space, the trick is in the construction of the follower and length of the spring.  Mecgar played a clever trick on geometry that allows the follower to seat farther down the body of the magazine on top of the fully compressed spring when it's fully loaded.  This accounts for the added capacity for only an eigth of an inch of extra length.  Another nifty product Mecgar makes for the 226 is a magazine floorplate extension.  This extends the bottom of the magazine an additional half inch or so, and adds two extra rounds to the mag's capacity.  This turns their already impressive 18 round mags into 20 round mags for a little cheaper than it would be to purchase factory 20 rounders.  The same kit can also be used on Beretta 92 magazines for the same +2 boost.

Speaking of Beretta mags, I've recently experimented with modifying Beretta 92 mags to fit my 226.  The shape of the magazine body is almost identical.  With a little bit of file work to add a new catch slot, and round off the top front corners, an M9 magazine will fit and feed a 226 or 228.  It's obviously a jury-rigged thing, and has to be done carefully to work, but M9 mags are in great abundance in military and law enforcement inventories.  For those carrying SIGs when TSHTF, spare magazines may not be as hard to acquire as one might think. - John in Spokane

JWR Adds: Any "make do" hand-modified magazines should be strenuously tested for full reliability with a variety of bullet shapes before they can be trusted for regular target or hunting use. And in my estimation they should never be trusted for self-defense situations unless you are in dire circumstances. Buy the very best magazines available, for self-defense!

Jim and Pat:
The SIG P226 MK25 (as mentioned in Pat Cascio's recent product review) was preceded by  P226-Navy.  The main difference between the two is the lack of the rail on the older version and the SIGLite night sights on the MK25.   I do believe some of the later P226 –Navy models did however have a rail.  The P226-Navy  was my primary weapon system for daily carry until recently transitioning to the Springfield –Armory 1911 TRP .  I still have my P226-Navy and still carry it at times.   I have shot several thousand though my P226 without one failure to load or failure fire.  During one training session I fired 1,000 rounds over course of two days without any problems.   The gun is very well balanced, accurate out of the box and can take a beating.  Breakdown for cleaning  is quick and easy, and no tools of any kind are required   I have carried this gun in a variety of conditions (mostly damp)  and have never experienced  problems with rust.  The extra carry capacity is nice.  Using a one loaded and two standby magazine carry arrangement, there are  45 rounds available for the P226 (with 15 round magazines) as opposed to 24 rounds available (using three 8 round magazines) for the Model 1911 .45 ACP. 
There are those who prefer the polymer guns like the Glock, Springfield Armory XD, S&W MP, all of which are good guns.  I however, prefer a sold metal gun, only because for me it feels sturdier and is better balanced.  
The P226 can be comfortably carried concealed with the the right clothing, belt and holster.  I prefer the Milt Sparks Versa Max 2 holster, which does a great job holding the gun close to the body.  For those who prefer the 9mm, the SIG P226 MK25 is a durable, reliable, accurate pistol and will be a gun for lifetime if you take care of it.
Disclaimer:  I do not work for any company involved in any aspect of the firearms business. 

Regards, - Florida Dave

J.K. sent this: Three American Redoubt Cities Top List of America's Top Micropolitan Areas: Bozeman, Helena and Gillette

   o o o

And speaking of Bozeman: Urban chickens not causing flap

   o o o

A bit of bad news: I've heard that SI Defense as well as CMMG have both dropped production of their AR-10 variants that could use ubiquitous HK G3 magazines. Oh well, Plan B will be for me to buy a few Rock River LAR-8s. Those are AR-10 variants that can use L1A1 and FAL magazines. That way, I'd have AR-10 magazine commonality with my L1A1s rather than with my HK91s.

   o o o

Yet another reason to thoroughly pre-filter and then filter surface water before treating it with chlorine: trihalomethanes (THMs). (Apparently, chlorinating water that contains any decayed plant remains can result in chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects.)

   o o o

Chock full of the typical anti-preparedness rhetoric, The New York Times reports: Doomsday Has Its Day in the Sun.

 "A black market is a free market operating against the wishes of the state." - Harry Browne

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Today is the official release day for Lisa Bedford's first book: Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios. It is well worth getting a copy. (My wife Avalanche Lily has read it, and she loved it.)


Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Your bedside clock says 3:40 a.m. You have just awakened to a sound like breaking glass.  You pick up the phone to call 911 but the line is dead.  It’s dark in the house and you ease out of bed to retrieve your handgun from the closet safe just as you have practiced dozens of times.  You wait inside your bedroom door with your ear straining to hear. Someone is down the hall sliding something on the tile.    At that instant, the 30-second delay on your security system expires and the alarm begins to peal.  Another crash in the living room and you are now standing in the hall - gun drawn.  A person you have never seen before senses your presence and turns toward you while reaching for his belt.  He is close and coming toward you and has ignored your command to stop.  You don’t specifically remember firing but he goes down after two hollow points catch him in the chest.  The knife he was reaching for drops to the floor next to him as he falls.  Time seems to stand still.  Your cell phone rings and you jump – your security company is on the line about the alarm trip.  You tell them to call the police.  You hang up and call 911 and check his vitals – no pulse or breathing. Now what?

You just shot an armed intruder in self-defense. You have also just stepped into the middle of a legal minefield.  This instance is a clear case of self-defense.  Will it be seen that way? The widely-held belief that you are innocent until proven guilty cannot be presumed.  The new world you have just entered is far from ideal and the burden of proving your innocence will be on you.   What happens next? You will be anxious to talk to the first responders who just arrived, probably police and paramedics. You will also have to overcome an overwhelming and immediate desire to begin justifying your actions to anyone who will listen to you. But for now, saying as little as possible will be the best decision of your life. However, you will only restrain yourself if you know why it is so critical. And you know this because it is one of the key parts of your overall preparedness strategy.   

And So It Begins…
Who among us hasn’t considered the likelihood that we may be called upon use lethal force in self-defense or to protect innocent life?  We pray it never happens but if we are prepared to shoot someone, however justified, then we must be equally prepared to deal with the consequences.  I am constantly trying to improve the resources and skills I need to protect my family just like you.  Yet a critical part of that preparation includes knowing what will happen and what to do after you shoot.  Do you have a clue about the unbelievable complexities that will occur after using deadly force?   Do you know what resources exist to help you deal with them?   If not, then this article is your wake-up call.  It is time to act – now - so that you will be ready in such a situation.

Enter “the system”
I am not a lawyer. I am not a law enforcement officer. But I do have a some key friends in law enforcement and in state and federal courts. Realize that what is written here is not to be construed as legal advice in any way. It is an exhortation to do your homework, make a plan, and assemble a small team – a lawyer and a few key friends – who agree to be available at a moment’s notice as you will be for them.    

The daily world my friends inhabit is a legal procedural system that is designed to establish whether a crime was committed and to identify possible suspects with all haste and diligence. These are the people who just showed up at your home in response to your frantic call.  And there you stand with a gun and a body at your feet.  The police are amazing at empathizing while getting the info from you that they know you are dying to unburden yourself with.  All of this will happen before your attorney arrives.  Getting as much information from you as soon as possible is their goal and it is a certainty that what you say will be used against you if needed.  Talking without counsel will almost invariably hurt you.  Even if the shoot is clearly justified, they will still be trying to get all the details from you.  They will tell you they are trying to help and need your cooperation in order to clear you.  But helping you is not their priority.  That’s your lawyer’s job.  What are they trying to do? They are gathering information to feed to the system.  Realize that your innocence is just one of many outcomes available once the information is gathered and analyzed.  The legal system is judged successful when cases are closed and convictions are handed down. That’s their true goal – it’s not to help you get cleared of wrongdoing. They don’t work to answer to you.  They may be sympathetic but their job is to feed the system as it is currently designed. Justice may be the stated goal in broad terms but closing the case is the real objective.  Getting you justice is your lawyer’s job.  Are you getting the idea?

Do Your Research and Plan Ahead
There is good news though.  Numerous good books and resources are available to help you and several are listed at the end of this article.  My goal is to raise your awareness of this issue to a level where you realize you need to act today.  Without a plan you will be at the mercy of events out of your control. 

Start by thinking about how all of your past and present decisions and life choices will appear in the harsh light of the legal investigation you may face tomorrow. Which choices? All of them.  You will be amazed as I was about the dozens of things you do innocently every day that will be portrayed negatively by an unsympathetic legal system.  How your friends and neighbors describe what you say and do will get put on display.  Will your personality and the gun-related details of your life make you look like Joe Regular Citizen or a crazed vigilante in the hands of skilled prosecutor?   Don’t think it can happen?  It’s all about the spin. Here are a few examples:

“You own an excessive number of guns and shoot frequently Mr. Smith…looks like you finally got your chance to use one.”

“Your honor, the bumper stickers and rifle rack on Mr. Smith’s truck demonstrate a strong mistrust of government and establish a vigilante mindset.”

“The range master at your gun club has testified that you always use representations of people as targets instead of a simple bullseye Mr. Smith. I think the jury would like to know why?”

“So you have testified that the man you shot was someone who was known to you and in fact owed you money.  Can you explain why he was in your house that afternoon?”

These examples demonstrate how quickly any simple innocent act can be spun negatively and strung together to make you look like the criminal and portray the person who broke into your house and attacked you as the victim.  The recommended books and links will be great resources to open your eyes.  Use them and start today to assemble a plan. You will want to assemble a small team who can mutually agree to be available should the need arise.    Meanwhile, here are some things to get you started.

Key Areas to Consider
When is lethal force legally justified? Case law justifying lethal force throughout the U.S. is generally consistent and of necessity is severely limited.  The only time lethal force is justified is when someone reasonably believes that their life or the life of someone else is in immediate jeopardy.  The justification only exists while the threat is present (or perceived to be present).  In the opening scenario, you pointed your gun at a knife-wielding attacker who was ignoring your commands to stop. But the moment he drops the knife or turns and retreats does he cease to be an immediate threat? If a reasonable man would conclude yes, then the justification for lethal force ceases as well. Someone stealing your stuff? Nope. Breaking into your house? Not unless you truly believed (and can justify by the circumstances over and over later) that you believed your life was in danger.

“I did everything in my power!” You will be asked what you did to address the threat prior to shooting.  In escalating order these things include fleeing, a verbal command, physical restraint, use of pepper spray or some other object, and finally your firearm.  If any of these things are available you will be asked why you did not or could not use them before resorting to lethal force.

“I was in fear for my life!”  There are many ways to express this but the reality is that you must genuinely believe that you were in fear for your life or that of another and saw no other way of escape before you will be cleared for using lethal force. Repeat it early and often.  Expressions of remorse are normal and can be helpful or may be construed as guilt.  That is why you should say very little and insist on speaking to your lawyer before making a statement or agreeing to be questioned.

“I had no choice but to shoot!” If the attacker continues to advance and can't be deterred any other way, the last resort may be to fire your weapon.  Self-defense doctrine suggests you should keep firing until the threat ceases.  Next, any secondary threats (such as an accomplice) should be dealt with. Once the threat ceases then contact the authorities as quickly as possible, usually via 911.

What you will do after the shooting is over? You will now be in a highly agitated state and are capable (likely) to do and say things you will regret later.  These are normal tendencies but with some forethought and planning, the damage to you can be minimized.  If you do not call 911 right away it will go poorly for you.  This is the conventional wisdom and it makes some sense.  Calling quickly and rendering aid will support the fact that you are the victim here and did not want to kill anyone.  Say as little as possible because EVERYTHING you say from here on out will be used against you if it can be.  The minimum suggested is something like. “This is John Smith of 123 Main Street. I was just attacked in my home and was afraid for my life.  Please send an ambulance because someone has been shot.”   

After calling 911
After you call 911, you lose control of events almost immediately. For starters, the phone you just used to call 911 on is usually 'locked' so you cannot make any other calls on it.  Calling your lawyer or a support team member as soon as possible is advisable (on another phone) and say little except that you want to help and will make a statement after speaking to your lawyer. If your lawyer is not available, call a prearranged friend (you have a team, right?).  Have them make all necessary calls for you (lawyer, family, pastor, etc.) as you may be unable to do so. They will be questioned later about why they got a call from you so quickly so their response needs to be solid as well. 

Then the police will arrive and they won't know who the good guy is. Their first priority is officer safety followed by bystander safety, securing the scene, and then determining what just happened.  Make sure they know it's you that called.  Having a just-fired gun in your hand is not the best way to greet them. Make sure your weapon is secured and safe.   It will be confiscated by law enforcement immediately and this is routine.  Your hands may be bagged to preserve evidence of gunshot residue (GSR). Permission to search the rest of your house will be requested (or may just be done if there are exigent circumstances).  The stated explanation will be to secure everyone's safety but equally important will be to examine what role you played in the events.  Avoid this if you can.  Hopefully your other firearms are locked up and secure and not all in one place should the decision be made to confiscate them.  Do not appear to be a threat in any way. 

Stop Talking!
When they start pressing you with questions, it will get tricky.  There is surprisingly little consensus on what or how much to say.  The rule here is “Less is better”.  I should point out that an officer involved in a shooting is presumed innocent pending an inquiry and is treated very differently than a citizen.  He is given representation immediately and is not required to say anything until the rep or lawyer can meet with them and they have a chance to calm down.  They are usually placed on paid administrative leave for several weeks. You and I will have to try to go to work in the morning. Yet if we try to take the same approach by wanting to confer with counsel before giving a statement, it is presumed we are trying to hide something. Doesn’t seem fair but it is true. The standards are very different. I believe by now you are getting the idea.

Some expert suggestions
Massad Ayoob, noted expert in the self-defense use of firearms suggests that people memorize these five steps and use them immediately and nothing more.

  1. “This person attacked me.” – establishes you are the victim.
  2. “I will sign a complaint.” – further confirmation you are the victim
  3. Point out evidence that supports you before it disappears.
  4. Point out witnesses before they disappear.
  5. “Officer, you will have my full cooperation after I have spoken with my attorney.”

His further suggestion is request medical attention for yourself as you may be unknowingly injured, in shock, or something similar. It will also get time for you to regroup your thoughts to avoid saying incriminating or conflicting things.

Alan Korwin is a widely-read 2nd Amendment rights author from Phoenix. Here are his new Safety Rules for Self Defense from his book After You Shoot

  1. If you shoot in self defense you must then defend yourself against execution for murder
  2. When you drop the hammer plan to cash in your life savings for your lawyer’s retainer.  Avoid this unless your life depends on it.
  3. Sometimes the innocent get decent treatment and sometimes they don’t
  4. It’s always better to avoid a gunfight than to win one.
  5. If innocent life doesn’t depend on it, don’t shoot. And if it does, don’t miss.

Expect unbelievable levels of scrutiny
Every decision you have made in your life up to this point will come into question at some point.  You will have to justify the pertinent ones....Here are a few ways you will be challenged for starters:
1. Why did you shoot? Why did you feel threatened?
2. What did you do/say prior to shooting that could have prevented this?
3. Why that choice of pistol...shotgun...type of ammo?
4. How long or why did you wait to call 911?
5. Who else have you contacted? Why?
6. Did you know the victim? (Notice that now he is the victim and not you?)

Remember that the job of the police and prosecutor is to get you to tell them as much as they can get from you before your lawyer arrives. By the way, the time to establish a relationship with an attorney is before all this happens as part of your team.  Don’t ask for an attorney - you must request to speak with YOUR attorney.  Make sure you have one.  Korwin’s After You Shoot has some great suggestions about how to put a team together. 

Self-Defense Resources
In the Gravest Extreme  by Massad Ayoob
Self Defense Laws of All 50 States by Mitch Vilos
After You Shoot by Alan Korwin

“Don’t Talk to the Police” video - Professor James Duane
“Don’t Talk to the Police – a Police Officer Responds” video -Virginia Beach Officer George Bruch

Web Sites
US Concealed Carry Association Supports ways to be a responsible CCW holder Web site of firearms author Alan Korwin Web site of attorney and author Mitch Vilos
Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network An education and legal defense organization
Massad Ayoob Group - Training and education on personal protection and self defense

My Simple Plan
Our Plan is very simple so it is also easy to remember.  I am fortunate that I know a lawyer who is also a prepper, a sport shooter, and a friend.  Two like-minded friends have agreed to be the team and we do this for each other.  If any of us is involved in a self-defense shoot, we place what we call a Tiger Call to as many of the others as we can reach.  We all have a second small disposable cell phone for this purpose. I carry both phones at all times.  If one of us were to be involved in an incident these are the steps we have agreed to once the incident is contained and both 911 and the authorities alerted. The plan goes into effect when the Tiger Call is made.

Phase 1 - Immediate actions

  • Call the lawyer immediately.  Our code phrase within the group is “This is a Tiger Call on behalf of Joe Smith.”  If unable to reach the lawyer, someone goes to his office or house as appropriate. Our lawyer has also given us a backup lawyer if he is unavailable or if he is the one involved in the shoot.
  • Contact all other team members. Decide who will coordinate.
  • Meet near the scene and attempt to observe and video events.
  • Do not interfere or identify your presence and do not attempt to contact Joe

Phase 2 – Follow-up

  • Contact pre-planned individuals so rides, child care, bail, moral support, etc. is available.
  • Contact employers as planned to arrange for time-off without arousing alarm.
  • Consolidate all notes and observations in writing. Sign, date, and photocopy them.  Make duplicate copies of all recordings.  These will all be given to the lawyer.
  • Joe will contact the Tiger group as soon as possible. 

Phase 3 – Family support

  • The family will be in disarray and will need immediate support.  Call secondary support friends and implement help as needed.
  • The Coordinator will facilitate assistance and keep tabs for coordinating follow-up.

An occasional drill can be very helpful. Our first practice run helped us realize that we needed small kit like a B.O.B. just for Tiger Calls. Mine has bottled water, snacks, pencils, paper, mini binocs, and a cheapie video cam.

Now You Have Your Wakeup Call
A TEOTWAWAWKI scenario may not come in a broad encompassing sweep or last indefinitely.  To the victims of the recent localized tornados it was more like the end of my world – a sort of personal micro-burst if you will.  If you use lethal force without being suitably prepared you will experience a SHTF event all your own. 

The thugs who show up to steal, kill, and destroy give neither warning nor thought to their actions apart from what they can score from you.  However, the aftermath of a self-defense shooting will be life-changing for you. We all think about how to best prepare for numerous possible scenarios yet will completely overlook this area. I avoided this for years for the same reason I avoided preparing a will.  I didn’t have the experience to know where to begin. It’s uncomfortable to think about dying. It’s equally uncomfortable to think about what to do if you shoot someone.  Being responsible means doing your research and making a plan.  So now I have both the will and plan for after a shooting.  Do your research and make your plan.  And by God’s grace you will never need to use it.

I grew up in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. I was raised by a single mother who didn’t have time for much besides working to pay bills. I wasn’t lucky enough to grow up on a farm or learn canning or learn any useful survival/life skills besides how to cook Hamburger Helper and I was doing that at the ripe old age of 10. I did become a pro at making stew though and I could probably tell you 101 ways to use pasta. And thanks to my grandmother I could even crochet you a scarf if you’re lucky and if I have the spare time between working as a realtor and raising six kids, who are now ages 10-to-22.
Getting married, moving away from home at the age of 18 and becoming a military wife introduced me to a lot of new people, new ideas and I was able to learn things along the way that have prepared me for almost any event that may occur in the future that would take most of us out of our comfort zones, be it a job loss, world financial crash, hurricane, government collapse or any disaster that may hit my area. When your husband is out of town for sometimes as long as a year at a time, you have lots of time for reading, television watching and experimenting and that is what I did and continue to do with my current husband who also works long hours. I didn’t think of it as prepping or hoarding or whatever terminology you want to give it. I didn’t have a book that was specifically about a SHTF (I really don’t like that acronym but it is one most people understand so I’ll use it) scenario and there was no Internet back when I started down this path in the 1980s. I just felt in my gut this instinct that I should always be ready for “something”. Maybe that was a result of being so close to the fire so to speak because my husband was in the military and his whole career revolved around preparing for what might one day happen, maybe it was from listening to my grandparents talk about the Great Depression or maybe it was a higher being and verses I had read in my Bible about what one day might happen to this world but regardless I started preparing for something that may never happen in my lifetime but if it does…I’m ready and I want to teach my children to be ready and hopefully these skills and knowledge will be passed on from generation to generation so if “it” ever does happen my loved ones will not only survive but prosper.
I don’t talk about survival skills or preparing for any cataclysmic event with my extended family or my friends because I know they’d just think I was crazy and I don’t ever want to worry my children or have them live in a constant state of fear but I do want them to learn so in our house we call the preparations “getting ready for hurricane season.” Most of the people I know have the proverbial “it will never happen here or it will never happen to me” mindset. That is fine for them but not for me and mine. They know we live in the country and we grow a garden and we have a lot of animals. They make fun of us, ask us how we can live so far out and why we don’t just buy our veggies at a Kroger's supermarket. That’s fine, but one day if the SHTF scenario happens then whose door do you think they will show up at? Exactly, mine. Because they will remember that Mrs. S. grows her own veggies and has guns and ammo and raises her own chickens and has cows at her back door. Only problem with that is the part we aren’t telling anyone and that is that we have another even more remote place that we are stocking and getting ready so that if the SHTF event ever occurs we will be leaving here because we feel that every hungry soul in Houston is going to head outside of the city limits and end up on our doorstep and we don’t want to be here when that happens.
When Hurricane Rita was due to hit in 2005 we got a taste of what would happen in the event of a disaster. We had nowhere to go so I sat on my deck and watched the farm to market road close to me turn into a parking lot. Several vehicles ran out of gas and there were no gas stations open because those people were evacuating too. There were no bathrooms so the street was littered with whatever people could find to relieve themselves on the side of the road. And I’ve never seen so much trash on my road. We were afraid to go to bed that night because those people might break into our house. One of my kids suggested we open a lemonade stand on the corner. We’d have probably made a fortune!  Regardless, that storm didn’t even blow away a plastic bottle that I’d left out off of the deck railing but it did teach a lot of people a valuable lesson, that they weren’t ready.
When Hurricane Ike hit in 2008 we thought we were ready. We weren’t going to evacuate after seeing the results of Rita, we were going to stay home and ride it out. I’d made sure that our above ground pool was emptied and cleaned and then filled it with clean well water and a little chlorine bleach straight from the bottle. I’d gone to the store and bought supplies and we’d battened down the hatches. My uncle had come over to wait out the storm with us and he and I stood in the garage and watched the storm blow by. Once again it didn’t do much damage at our house. Just a few fallen limbs. Then my current husband who was 42 at the time started feeling sick within minutes of the storm passing. He got dizzy and couldn’t walk. The phones, both land lines and cell had all stopped working a few hours earlier so I couldn’t call 911 but I knew he needed help and none of my skills as a Realtor were going to help at this point even though I had learned CPR as a Girl Scout Leader for my daughter’s troop. We loaded him into the car and headed into town 10 miles away. The storm hadn’t done much damage at my house but the streetlights were out and some were hanging so low one nearly hit my windshield. There were trees down everywhere and I had to navigate carefully around them. I had my hazard lights on the whole time. When we got to town I needed to make a left at what was once a light but was now just wires dangling down to the ground to get to the ER and no one [in the oncoming lane] would let me turn. The traffic lights weren’t working so why should they stop? I got a glimpse of how humanity becomes under stress. My uncle had to get out to stop cars and I pulled my Suburban out in front of them with a “you will let me turn into the ER or we’ll both get killed” mentality. I have raised six kids, so you can’t bully me and get away with it because I’ll push back! I got him safely to the ER which was packed with people and later learned that he’d had a stroke due a blocked carotid artery. Yes, even 42 year olds can and do have strokes, especially when they are out of shape, they dip tobacco and are under severe stress. Luckily for him he survived it and has very little residual damage except for poor vision and vertigo. We learned a valuable lesson that day. We still weren’t ready.
So that is the who and why of Mrs. S. in a nutshell. The whole point of this however is for you to learn something. So the following bullet points are my suggestions on what you should know, do or start learning now and what you should have on hand or stored so that if a SHTF scenario occurs you won’t have to show up on Mrs. S’s empty doorstep. There isn’t enough room here for me to list everything so I suggest you go online and order some books on surviving under tough situations. Do web searches on “prepper books, survival books, first aid books, Amish books, canning, homesteading, animal husbandry, gardening, etc” because there is a lot of information out there. You can go to Netflix and watch a television series called “The Colony”, it gives you an eye opening view of life in a post collapse situation although not everyone is going to be living with an engineer a doctor and a handyman who can build cars out of toothpicks MacGyver style, ha ha. There’s another show we watched called Survivors which was a post flu pandemic scenario. (Not to be confused with the television show Survivor where you outwit your fellow Survivor opponent on a pretty tropical island somewhere.) There’s also the Out of the Wild series on The Discovery Channel which I enjoyed. The old episodes are on Netflix. It will really open your eyes if they aren’t opened already. So, here’s the list and remember….this just touches the surface of what you need to know to be ready for a life changing event.

  1. Have a safe place to go in the event you need to leave and if you plan to go to someone else’s house, make sure you have permission or you might get met at the end of a shotgun. Don’t wait for evacuation orders. Leave at the first sign of trouble. If nothing else, think of it as a little vacation and if you leave a little to late, take the roads less traveled. Learn them now so that if your GPS isn’t working you can navigate your way safely out of town. Buy maps and keep them in your car. Most states have web sites where you can order them for free or go to a State’s travel welcome center and get one there.
  2. Volunteer with the Boy or Girl scouts so you can start learning basic survival skills. It’s amazing how many people in this world don’t even know how to start a fire. Speaking of fire, have lots of water proof matches, lighters and a magnesium fire starter. Having a fire can mean the difference between life and death. You can also make fire kindling using Gulf wax, an egg carton and lint from your dryer. Google it. It’s a Girl Scout trick I learned (I learned to cook on the bottom of a coffee can too!). Learn how to make candles or buy cheap ones at the dollar store. I prefer beeswax ones myself. [JWR Adds: All those new open flame sources around your home will make fire fighting skills just as important as fire starting skills. Buy several fire extinguishers or your house, and one for each vehicle. Study how to use them.]
  3. Take a CPR class and learn basic first aid then stock up on first aid supplies. Watch videos online about first aid. My current favorite is Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy. I learned to do stitches that way recently. Join your local volunteer fire department so you can use those skills you are learning.
  4. Start buying extra non-perishables and canned goods now because once the SHTF you can forget it. I like to buy freeze dried products because they can last for many years without expiring. There are several online companies to order from. Google “freeze dried foods”. I like the #10 cans but I have a large family. Regardless, most of those last 20+ years sealed and two more years even after being opened but read the labels. If you don’t know how to can foods, find someone who does and learn. Look at it this way, you can always give some homemade stuff away at Christmas time. My family loved last year's Pumpkin butter when I planted too many pumpkins in my garden.
  5. If you have the space and live in an unrestricted area, buy some chickens and start your own flock. Contrary to popular brainwashed opinion the eggs are safe to eat. We’ve been eating eggs from our chickens for nearly 10 years and we aren’t dead yet. I read Storey’s guide to raising chickens and that and trial and error taught me all I need to know about raising this food source. Hint: stop using ant poison granules in your yard our you’ll lose a lot of chickens. I like to order my chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery online but they sell them at feed stores and some farmers will sell to the public as well. You can also check with your local 4H club and go to livestock auctions. We don’t eat our chickens, just their eggs but if we had to we could. I keep a minimum of 12 but that is a lot of eggs per week even for my large family!
  6. Get a generator or alternative energy source now. Plain and simple. Personally, I like to have more than one source because generators run on gas and you could run out of gas and then what? My two choices are solar panels as a back up to the generator but I live in Texas where we have a lot of sun so maybe wind power could be your alternative power source.
  7. If you need to buy some land go to your local Realtor or do your own search online. One of my favorite web sites is There I was able to find lots of good deals. 50 acres for under $50,000, yes it’s on there! Hint: look in states like Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma if you are in or close to any of those states.  Don’t buy land that is a two day's drive away from your main home though. You want to be able to get there safely, not run out of gas trying to get out of Dodge. If you are lucky enough to not need to live close to town then you can live at your remote location and that isn’t an issue but for us we have to still live close to town so my husband can work. My job as a realtor allows me to work from anywhere. 
  8. Get a gun and learn how to use it. As a woman I prefer lighter guns with little recoil. Recoil is what a gun does when you fire it and it jerks your arm up. Not including the guns my husband has I have my own .25 handgun, .380 handgun (I wanted a pink one but they didn’t have any!) and .22 rifle. I’m your average sized woman at 5’5” and I can handle those guns easily even if I would need to use more bullets to take down my target. The important thing is that I be comfortable with the gun I am using and relying on to feed me and keep me safe. I used that .22 rifle to run off a cougar in my back yard once. I didn’t kill it, but it decided it didn’t want to stick around and eat any more of my chickens. I sure wish I had gotten a picture of that cat. My hunting family still thinks I was seeing things and just shot at bobcat!
  9. Have some sort of water storage set up or be near a water source like a creek, lake, river with year round water. A seasonal creek is great except when you have no water in the winter! I don’t mean “near” like a mile near. Carrying buckets of water from a mile away or more would be too much even for my football playing sons! I mentioned earlier that I have an above ground pool. I bought it at Wal-Mart for about $300. I keep it filled year around “just in case”. The week that my husband was in the hospital after Hurricane Ike passed through I was very thankful for that pool water. I used our huge Cajun turkey fryer pots to boil water on a Coleman propane stove for drinking, cleaning and cooking and used unheated water for flushing toilets even though we followed the “if it’s yellow let it mellow” philosophy that week because mom was not toting water all day. I was alone here with my kids and I was easily (I use that term lightly at my age) able to carry water in from the back yard as we needed it. I took showers at the hospital when I’d visit my husband but if I’d had to I could have heated pool water to bathe in. My next big purchase will be a Big Berkey water filter unit. I can’t wait to get it and try it out.
  10. Learn how to grow your own fruits and veggies. Trees are great for the environment and great for a hungry belly. Most fruit bearing trees require at least two of the same kind to produce and some don’t start producing for several years. You can also get a book on foraging and learn what you can and can not eat from nature. Most people don’t even know that those pesky Dandelion “weeds” are great on a salad.

I hope that I have provided some useful information to get you started on your journey to being prepared in the event of a catastrophic event in your area. Don’t be caught with your pants down. SurvivalBlog has lots of valuable information and resources that I hope you will take advantage of. I recently enjoyed reading James’ book, How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It which led me to his blog. Be sure and read it as a follow up to this article, because he covers many things that even I hadn’t thought of yet. Good luck and God bless.

Ian R. flagged this must-read piece by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Global liquidity peak spells trouble for late 2012.

Bruce Krasting: America is Using Tricks to Hide a Debt Crisis Worse than Greece

Bill Whittle: The Vote Pump

Lee M. sent this: Banks foreclosing on churches in record numbers

Another incipient muni bankruptcy: Stockton residents watch their port city slip away: "Within three months, the Central Valley city of 300,000 could become the nation's largest municipality to file for bankruptcy..."

Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 14, 2012) is the last day of Ready Made Resources' sale on Mountain House canned freeze dried foods. They are offering 20% off and free shipping. The sale ends at midnight Eastern time, so order soon!

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The Free Film Girl has created a list of freely downloadable public domain survival and preparedness-related videos that might be helpful.

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Homeless by Choice: How to Live for Free in America. (Thanks to SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate G.G. for the link.)

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This has some terse, straightforward wording: House Concurrent Resolution 107. Too bad that our Congress probably won't have the backbone to enact it.

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File under Wonders Never Cease: A breath of fresh air: Clever gadget transforms the air from your lungs into energy to charge your phone

"There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our (the United States) overthrow.  Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter.  From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger.  I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing." - Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837

Monday, March 12, 2012

I noticed that we've now archived 2,400 Quotes of the Day. Please keep them coming. Many thanks for sending your favorite attributed quotes, folks!

I still remember the very first "SIG" pistol that I ever saw. It was back in 1980, and I was an FFL dealer. A fellow asked me to order him a Browning BDA .45 ACP. At that time, I hadn't heard of the Browning BDA. It wasn't until I actually received the gun for the customer, that I discovered the Browning BDA, was, in fact, a SIG. At the time, this fairly new gun, was being imported by Browning. It just didn't take off back then, for some strange reason - it was probably a little bit ahead of it's time. [JWR Adds: The Browning BDA (in 9mm) was developed to compete in the U.S. Army trials for a replacement for the M1911. Eventually the Beretta M92 won out, to become the U.S. M9, and it is still in service. But SIG's compact P228 did win a later contract, and was designated the M11.]
How things have changed! The SIG Sauer lineup of handguns and long guns has really grown over the years. And, it wasn't too long ago, that SIG handguns were being made in Germany, and imported into the USA. Now, most SIG firearms are made right here in the USA. Part of the reason for making SIG firearms in the USA was a financial decision - the (then) German currency was killing the US Dollar, and SIG firearms were costing a lot of money. I was hoping that when SIG started manufacturing firearms in the USA, the prices would come down a bit, Well, they did, but only a little bit. [JWR Adds: Buying a few spare firearms of popular models in common fighting calibers is a good hedge on inflation. My first Ithaca 37 riotgun cost $180, and my first S&W Model 28 cost $208. Inflation marches on...]
What one will find with many SIG handguns is that they have a metal frame (aluminum) instead of polymer. Oh, that's not to say SIG hasn't jumped on the polymer-framed bandwagon. They have done so with some of their handguns such as the modular SIG P250. And, today, many people think that only polymer-framed handguns are worth having, or are the ars nova -- "the" thing to own. Well, I guess I'm still a little old fashioned in that I still like metal frame handguns, and the SIG Sauer P220/P226 family of pistols is made with aluminum alloy frames. Some of the later ones are made with stainless steel slides. With the SIG Sauer P226 MK25, however, the stainless slide is Nitron coated. This is a dark, blue/black coating. The slide is still stainless steel under that coating.
I've lost track over the years, of the number of SIG Sauer handguns I've owned, but its safe to say, I've owned several dozen different versions. My favorite SIG, the P228, isn't being made any longer - it was replaced with the P229. I thought the P228 balanced better in my hand than the P229 does, but that is just my take on it. Over the past three years, I've owned a number of full-sized SIG P226 handguns, in both 9mm and .40 S&W. I prefer my P226 in 9mm, as the .40 S&W versions only hold 12 rounds in the magazine. If I'm going to pack a full-sized handgun in .40 S&W, then I'll pick one that holds 15+ rounds in the magazine. Again, just my feeling on things. Though the .40 S&W is a better man stopper than the 9mm, if you stoke a 9mm pistol with some good hollow points, a person won't be able to tell if they were shot with a 9mm or a .40 S&W. (And I don't care to get into a debate over which round is "better" for's a debate that has no end, just like the 9mm vs .45 ACP debate that raged for years. It still comes down to shot placement, no matter what caliber you are shooting.
I've owned the "basic" SIG P226, as well as a factory rebuilt one, also the P226 Combat, with a desert tan frame. I really liked that one. (I wrote the front cover feature article for the Guns magazine Annual 2010 edition with the P226 Blackwater limited edition.) SIG broke away from Blackwater after some unfavorable publicity that Blackwater received in Iraq, and they discontinued the relationship. SIG now produces the Tac Ops, which is basically the same gun as the Blackwater gun - without the Blackwater markings. I've also had a SIG P226 in .40 S&W as well - bought it used. The gun under review today is the newly released P226 MK25.
For all intents and purposes, the MK25 starts out as a basic SIG P226, and some changes were made. The MK25 is the current US Navy SEAL 9mm handgun, and the SEALs gave SIG permission to sell this gun to the public. The slide is Nitron coated, and the frame hard anodized black. All external and internal parts are "phosphate" coated, for resistance to salt water - and the SEALs operate in water, so this was needed. The barrel is also phosphate coated externally. We also have night sights on the MK25, and there is an anchor on the left side of the slide, as well as the Federal Government UID tag on the right side of the slide - the same markings that are on the guns sold to the US Navy SEALs - this is an exact duplicate of the gun issued to the SEALs.
As with all later P226 handguns, it has a 4.4" barrel, weighs 34-oz, and comes with an accessory rail for mounting lasers or lights - or both. The MK25 is ship with three 15-round 9mm magazines. Most other P226 9mms come with only two magazines. Nice to have three mags - one rides in the gun, and you can carry two spares on your belt or tactical holster. For concealed carry, I would recommend the Blackhawk Serpa belt holster.
As already mentioned, there are night sights on the MK25. SIG calls them SigLite night sights. They afford a great sight picture in daylight hours, and outstanding sighting in low light. The SigLite night sights really glow brightly, too - brighter than I've seen on some other brands of night sights. We also have a 10.0 lbs double-action trigger pull, and the single-action trigger pull is a super sweet 4.4 pounds. That is an outstanding single-action trigger pull if you ask me. It has just a little take-up, and the gun goes "bang" after that. There is the frame-mounted decocking lever. If you have fired the gun, the hammer stays cocked after the first round, for subsequent single-action shots, but you can safely de-cock the gun using the frame mounted decocker.
Over the years, I've never had a SIG P226 that wasn't an outstanding shooter in the accuracy department. I'd be hard-pressed to say one P226 shot more accurately than another for the most part. And, the MK25 isn't any different when it comes to accuracy. I tested the MK25 with 9mm ammo from Black Hills Ammunition and Buffalo Bore Ammunition and the only ammo I used was either +P or +P+ loads for this article. No wimp loads!
Now, to give the MK25 a really different type of test, I ran the gun dry - no lube on the frame rails or or slide - the gun was completely dry! I don't recommend anyone do this as a regular practice, though. However, I wanted to see what the MK25 could do under harsh conditions where lube might not be available. I only had one bobble - that was the first round fed out of the magazine - it didn't fully chamber for some reason. After that, there were zero problems - the gun just kept running and running.
I like a 124 grain JHP round in 9mm, as I feel they penetrate a little bit deeper than 115 grain JHP do, and they usually shoot a tad more accurately in my experience. However, the MK25 shot the new Black Hills 115 grain +P Barnes hollow point best - if I did my part, I could keep my rounds slightly under 2" most of the time. I've been doing a lot of testing with this Black Hills Barnes bullet in different calibers and I'm really sold on it for self-defense work.
I fired the Black Hills 124 grain JHP+P as well as their 115 grain JHP +P rounds, and they were great performers - giving me groups about 2 1/2 inches - again if I was on my game and doing my part. I also fired several different +P and +P+ loads from Buffalo Bore...the the SIG thrived on the +P+ loads, it really seemed like it was enjoying those +P+ loads for some reason. I fired both 115 grain JHP and 124 grain JHP loads in +P and +P+, as well as the Buffalo Bore 124 grain FMJ +P+ "Penetrator" load. This is the load you want if you need super-deep penetration from your 9mm handgun.
As I already mentioned, I did not have any problems, after the first round didn't fully chamber. I did note however, that towards the end of the 400 round mini torture test, the slide was getting a little sluggish - but the gun never failed to chamber a round and go "bang" when the trigger was pulled. That says a lot about any handgun - if they can run without lube - there's not a lot of handguns that can do this - I know that Glocks can, but every other gun that I've tested dry, have stopped working in short order.
I really like SIG Sauer handguns, and one of the reasons is because they are sooooo accurate. The new MK25 is no different than any other SIG I've shot over the years when it came to accuracy. I'm sure if I did more testing, I'd get those groups down to under and inch and a half. I would probably have to resort to non+P ammo for that, as some of the hotter rounds don't always give the best accuracy. However, the Black Hills and Buffalo Bore 9mm +P and +P+ rounds were putting all the shots where I wanted 'em to go at 25 yards, over a rest, across the hood of my car. As an aside, I've had a lot of people ask me if I've ever shot my car when shooting over the hood. Well, the answer is - yes! It happened once, with a .22 LR rifle with a scope. I put a crease in the hood of my car - but I've never actually shot through any car parts.
With many new magazines, the springs are stiff in the SIG 9mm handguns. I've run across this with quite a few handguns. What I like to do is, load-up all my magazines to full-capacity, and let 'em sit for a couple weeks. After that, the magazines are much easier to load without resorting to using a magazine loader - I rarely use one of those, though.
I also obtained some Mec-Gar SIG P226 magazines - these hold 18 rounds, instead of 15 rounds like the ones that the factory provides. I don't know how Mec-Gar does it - getting those extra 3 rounds in the mag. The SIG factory mags have a flat metal floor plate. The 18 round Mec-Gar mags have a polymer floorplate that only extends a tiny bit below the mag well opening - not enough to really matter. The Mec-Gar mags loaded easier than the factory SIG mags did, for some reason. And, the SIG factory mags are actually made by Mec-Gar over in Italy. The 18 round Mec-Gar mags seemed to feed a little smoother, too - or it could have been my imagination. For my money, I'd go with the Mec-Gar 18 rounds - as they are giving you 18 rounds on-tap instead of 15 rounds. And, in a fire-fight, every extra round you have on-tap might be needed.
There's nothing bad I can say about the new SIG P226 MK25, it performed great under the harsh conditions I set for this test and evaluation. The accuracy is better than you get with many other handguns - then again, SIG Sauer is known for producing accurate handguns (and rifles), so it came as no surprise that the gun was so accurate - it's good enough for SWAT work, and if it's good enough for the US Navy SEALs, then its more than good enough for me. The full-retail price is $1,142. That is a steep, but then again, you get getting renowned SIG quality and reliability. Personally, I've always thought the P226 should have won the US military contract for a new 9mm pistol - but Beretta won. Nothing wrong with Beretta, but I think the SIG P226 is a better gun all the way around.
I don't know how long SIG will sell the P226 MK25, but I'm betting it will be limited. I've got mine, and it's not going back to the factory. I just wish the IRS refund check would get here soon so I can pay off my test sample. - Pat Cascio (SurvivalBlog's Field Gear Editor)

James Wesley:
I would like to let everyone know about an application called Cabela's Recon Hunt. It has a very low cost, gives access to every map that is offered to the public. Lots of maps can be stored off line (depending on the memory capacity of your device) and one of the best features is that you can make notes that say where you saw game at certain GPS coordinates. (Or perhaps where there is a cache of supplies stashed. Though I wouldn't label it as such.) But on a hand-held device enclosed in a Faraday cage this could be very a very useful way to plan several routes to several potential bug-out spots. I know reliance on electronic items is a liability (needing a way to provide power and such) but this liability can be overcome with any variety of hand crank, solar, or even wood heat USB chargers available. Further, it provides the ability to store large number of [PDF] manuals, guides and references. It can also provide a much-overlooked commodity touched upon in the movie The Book of Eli: music. Music is an excellent way to avoid being overtaken by a foul situation. But I digress.

Cabela's Recon Hunt, its available for less than $12 USD. Simple and compact, access to a large amount of maps, but the real use would be to store what you need because if the grid goes down you probably won't be able to access anything you don't already have stored, so make your choices and key considerations wisely.

I hope I haven't sounded too much like an advertisement. (I don't have any financial interest in this product or in Cabela's.) Be well, - Albertus

JWR Adds: I would call this software "Redoubt Friendly." It has pre-loaded public land boundaries and big-game hunt unit maps for 11 western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. (Yes, that includes all of the American Redoubt states. Tres cool.)

As many of you out there are doing, food storage will be key to survive the future. Mylar bags with food grade buckets are a great way of storing your food and I applaud the recent article "Sugar and Salt Storage. I would like to add my own little experience so that others may possibly benefit from it. Instead of using one 2x4 across the top of the bucket, use two. Gather the top of the mylar bag, then sandwich it between the two 2x4s, using C-clamps if needed. Then fold it over for sealing, using the extra surface of the added 2x4 for ironing, making it more stable. It worked well for me. - Joe Rotorhead

Notutopia's Long Term Storage Chicken Ragout 

Serves Four

The dry ingredients for this recipe (everything but the chicken meat and the water) can be multiplied and bulk mixed and then vacuum packed in quart size mason jars with an O2 absorber for long term storage.

1 c dried diced or sliced carrots
1/2 c dried sliced celery
1/2 c dried diced or sliced potato
1/4 c dried sliced mushrooms
1/4 c dried sliced olives
1/4 c dried chopped onion
2 T tomato powder
1 T dried parsley
1 c dried peas
3 cubes chicken bouillon
pinch of anise seed
ground pepper, to taste

2  8 oz. cans of boned chicken (or fresh equivalent)

Bring all ingredients in 7 cups of water, to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook until tender for 15 minutes.
Add in the chicken, cook 5 more minutes.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Bill M. in New York recommended Utah's Chef Stephanie Petersen's web site, where she explains and shows how to use Honeyville and Augason freeze-dried / dehydrated ingredients to self-produce pre-mixed long-term (25 yrs) food storage meals in a jar.  Her  "52 Method" web page explains how to do it, and includes downloadable (PDF) shopping list needs, recipe cards, tutorials and features on-line videos showing how to make 12 + different long-term (multi-serving) food storage meal mixed and stored in wide-mouth quart mason jars with oxygen absorbers. She is always adding new recipes. All of this information is contained as you browse this web page. She has many other great recipes included on her web site.

Jen. K. suggested a web site with lot of great antique recipes:

Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

RBS sent this: Bud Conrad: The Only Way Out Is to Inflate; Austerity not working−more money printing on the way

G.G. flagged this one: Jobs Recession Now 49 Months: Longest Since WWII

Matthew N. noted this article: Harrisburg to skip bond payments due next week. JWR's Comment: Take a lesson from the sovereigns and just call it a "credit event." No cause for alarm. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

Items from The Economatrix:

Financial Bubonic Plague

Not So Fast On That Whole Economic Recovery Thing

Wall Street Up On Jobs Data, Brushes Off Greek Default

M.H. sent this video: Life in a CONEX. Note that building codes in many states would restrict this, but in most of the American Redoubt states, there is no building code outside of city limits.

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And speaking of the advantages of the American Redoubt, read this: Jeff Knox praises 'losers' of Brady Center's national scorecard.

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Can you spell shrapnel, boys and girls?" Family's surveillance cameras rolling as tornado hits West Liberty. (Video is from the March 2, 2012 tornado in West Liberty, Kentucky. Thanks to Jay in Missouri for the link.) If you live in tornado or hurricane country, then build a proper shelter!

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"MRSA Me!" Reader Lee M. wrote to mention an article that sheds some light on how easy it is to catch MRSA. The article mentions that you can contract it by just touching an infected wound when you have an open cut or sore on your own body.

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One more strong reason to take Venezuela off of your travel or expatriation locales list: Hugo Chavez: Fighting Crime by Disarming Innocent People. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Forget all this 'sportsman' nonsense! We own weapons to dissuade oligarchy from getting comfortable on our couches! Our concern is not the wildlife…" - Brandon Smith

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 39 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Introductory Note: I wrote this plan as the local Neighborhood Watch Captain and instructor for a nearby monthly Preparedness Workshop. I’m convinced of the value of having a written plan to follow in the immediate aftermath of a disaster or crisis. I’m sharing this for those sheepdogs who do not yet have a plan in hand – start with this and edit it. Make it your own. But have a plan. When it gets crazy this may help you get through it all.
Be Prepared. Trust God. We can do both!

Walk / bike / drive through the neighborhood and call everyone together at the (neighbor’s name) garage/barn. Ask each family to bring a chair and something to write with/on.
Make it clear: “I am not in charge, but will help organize. We will vote on someone to lead when we return in one hour.”

A. Pool what we know:
1. Begin with Psalm 127:1-2 and pray for God’s guidance and protection
2. Discuss speculations and ideas. Write it down on a big tablet: What We Know
3. Immediate problems? Medical, livestock, family, etc. Everyone accounted for?
4. Benefits of cooperation: pool tools, knowledge, encouragement, mutual defense
5. Fire control (candles / heaters) and safety are critical at this point. Slow down, think.
6. Designate a Watch Center (barn, home, shed, yard, vehicle, etc.) as a central meeting point

B. Plan to collect more information, can anyone share the following:
1. Monitor battery / solar-powered radio in Watch Center
2. Monitor TV if power available or someone has a battery powered one
3. Who has handheld radios? One to monitor at Watch Center, one to send with corner/intersection Watch(s), one with scouting party
4. Centralized news post [“What We Know”] on flip chart / large paper and someone responsible for maintaining it. Neighbors gather information from their outside contacts. As information comes in mark the “Reported” information as “Confirmed” (by two or more sources) with Dates (and sources if possible). Post in a common area at Watch Center.

C. Send everyone back to their homes, come back in one hour, one representative per household:
1. Reassure their family members
2. Review available supplies and note what they’ll need in the next 7 days: “Basic Four”: Security, Shelter, Water, Food. Also: lights, medicines, special needs
3. IF they’re going to arm themselves they MUST keep a low profile: handgun concealed, long gun in  vehicle
4. Contact their immediate neighbors who may not have checked in
5. A couple of people volunteer to come back with coffee (?) and cookies / snack (?)


D. Upon return, quick vote for tem