May 2012 Archives

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Today is the last day to order the SurvivalBlog Archive CD-ROM during our mid-year 25%-off sale. The latest six-year compilation includes as a bonus my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" in digital format. Having an offline archive is the only sure way of knowing that you will have access to SurvivalBlog's content, regardless of what happens to the Internet. At the sale price, the CD-ROM is $11.25 and the Digital Download is just $7.50. Be sure to order your copy before midnight, May 31, 2012.


Today we present the last two entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The other articles still in the queue will "roll over" into the judging for Round 41. 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends today, but you can write and e-mail us your entry for Round 41. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries that have not yet been posted will run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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.

Near the top of the List of Essentials is is keeping warm. One surefire way to do that is with a wood-burning heat stove. Wood stoves are reliable as a main source of heat or as backup but can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 new, so buying used is a practical way to go. Before you buy however, there are a few things you should know.

First of all, you need a good, certified wood stove. Why certified? Because they use less than half the wood that the previous generation of wood stoves used, don’t exhaust clouds of unburned soot into the air, and have close clearances to combustibles, some as close as 4″. Also because certified wood stoves are mandated by the EPA in all fifty states.

Virtually all certified stoves have a ceramic window that looks like glass but is impervious to heat, through which you can enjoy the fire and keep up with the need  to adjust the wood or to feed in more.  I don’t recommend getting a stove with a catalytic combustor as they are more expensive and have a declining efficiency. The efficiency of a non-combustor-equipped stove never changes and newer standards have been met without combustors since 1990, when the current EPA standards were established.

The fire chamber in certified stoves is engineered to burn wood efficiently without smoldering, even when shut down all the way. This gives you more heat from each piece of wood while exhausting cleaner and hotter, thus almost completely eliminating creosote buildup in the chimney. By the way, never connect a 6″-exhausting certified stove into a 8″ chimney. Because of the engineered burn, all certified stoves are designed for a 6″ flue which has a stronger draft than an 8″. Be sure to use listed stovepipe and adhere to the clearances on the pipe and the stove for a safe installation. Your insurance company can deny a fire claim caused by a stove that is improperly installed or is not safety listed. Also, I recommend a wind-directional rotating cap on all wood stove installations. They are the solution to back drafting, caused by a high wind forcing itself down your chimney and filling your house with smoke. You will want one after the first time the smoke alarms wake you up in the middle of the night!

Here are some things to look for on a used wood stove :
• All legal wood stoves must have an EPA sticker on the back. This sticker shows the production date, efficiency, grams per hour (gph) of emissions, as well as the clearances to combustibles for various applications.
• The production date should be July 1, 1990 or later.
• Inside the firebox and above the secondary air tubes is the baffle plate. Look for warped baffle plates from overheating the stove. This is more common in a smaller stove used to heat a larger area. The steel plates are removable and can be replaced for about $50.
• A cracked glass can be replaced for about $75. This is usually Robax ceramic and is impervious to heat although it breaks like glass. The prevention is to make sure the log fits inside the stove before closing the door on it.
• If the stove needs a paint job, use Forrest Stove Bright paint. After wire-wheeling off the rust and loose paint and cleaning with lacquer thinner, fog on the first coat. Follow with a slightly heavier second coat, and finish with a normal third coat. This paint fully cures under heat so a small fire must be built initially, followed by a hotter fire until out-gassing is completed. When the smell goes away the paint is cured. Open the windows during the curing process.
• The braided gasket around the door can be replaced for around $20 and will need to be glued in place. The special glue is around $10.
• Firebricks can be purchased at your local wood stove store. They are around $4 each.

Once installed, a wood stove should give you a lifetime of trouble-free service. There is however some maintenance involved. The ash will need to be removed from time to time and the window cleaned daily. The inside of the stovepipe will need to be cleaned annually with a wire brush but don't be surprised if you don't find much creosote. The newer stoves burn clean, remember? They accomplish this by burning hotter inside the firebox and exhausting hotter (and cleaner) into the flue pipe. The newer flue pipes are packed with ceramic wool and rated to 2100 degrees. The unburned creosote that used to build up in the old triple-walled air-cooled flue pipes is sparse and, with annual maintenance, so are flue fires. The newer insulated pipes get hotter quicker and stay hot longer, thus increasing the draft and practically eliminating creosote buildup.

Keep your eyes peeled on Craigslist for a good deal on a used stove. Just last week I called on a newer Lopi for $400 but someone offered them $450 and they took it. That was a $1,800 stove when  old new four years ago and it was barely used. Once in a while I will find a certified stove in good shape for around $200. I am always on the lookout for used stoves for friends and sometimes I’ll turn one over for a profit.

If you buy a used stove manufactured after July 1, 1990, it will comply with the Phase II standards which are 7.5 gph of particulates. Washington  is the only state to have it’s own standards which are 4.5 gph. Most new stoves and some used ones will meet this standard and some are as low as 1-2 gph. Check “EPA Certified Stoves” online if you find a used stove you are considering. This site lists most of the stoves which have been certified but not all of them. Some stoves presently being manufactured in other countries are missing from the list.

Inside the house, I keep a weeks worth of firewood near the stove in brick bins built for that purpose. The raised hearth is 3 1/2″ thick concrete and full of rebar, allowing me to split kindling right on the hearth. Under the hearth is a large kindling drawer where I also keep paper. Implements are hanging on hooks nearby. I use a coal hod to carry out the ash and to carry in more kindling.

My favorite wood stove is a Brass Flame. They are certified of course, and are built like a Sherman Tank. They have a double-air opening for quick-starting the fire, they look good and burn efficiently. I have found used ones for several friends and relatives. I am a little prejudiced in this department; my brother developed the Brass Flame and it was the first stove to pass the emission standards without a catalytic combustor. All certified stoves on the market now copy his combustion process, the big secret being lots of secondary and tertiary air. He made 10,000 of them before selling to Earth Stove, who made them for a few years and then sold to a bigger company, who dropped the line. If you can find one, you won’t be disappointed! Other brands I look for are QuadraFire, Lopi, and Avalon but I will consider others, especially if they are in good shape.

When heating with wood, it is a good idea to keep a pot of water on the stove to replace the moisture removed by the dry heat. An old cast-iron kettle serves well for this purpose. Another addition that is very helpful is a ceiling fan, positioned close to the stove and used to move the heat away from the stove. Without a fan, the heat takes a longer time to fill the house. Since heat seeks cold, it does eventually warm the place up, but in the dead of winter, who wants to wait? This small addition makes a big difference!

One more thing that makes a big difference in helping to heat your home more efficiently is bringing in outside air directly to the stove. This is required in mobile homes and all new homes, but is a good idea in any home. If you have a crawlspace under your home, a 3″-4″ pipe into the crawlspace is adequate for this purpose. In my case, I  put in a 4″  pipe to open air before the slab was poured.  Pedestal stoves are designed for outside air while stoves with legs will need to be adapted. Special outside-air adapters can be ordered or made for any stove.

When buying a wood stove, look for one with a flat top on which you can cook your food in a pinch. All newer stoves have a baffle plate around which the exhaust must go and in the process the stove top heats up nicely. Stoves with a stepped-top lack the space for a frying pan. During power outages, your stove can do double duty, heating the home and cooking your supper!

To clean the ceramic glass in the morning when the stove is cold, I simply get a piece of newspaper wet with water and emulsify the creosote, scraping it off with a razor. Even the best stoves get buildup on the window.

It is comforting to have my three cords of oak firewood put up for the winter, knowing that if a storm or blizzard should blow through or the power should go out (sometimes for days) my family and I will be warm and able to cook on our trusty wood stove. Our kids remember those times as special, with all of us in the same room not far from the stove while outside the snow is piling up and the wind blowing. There is nothing like the steady warmth of wood heat to soothe the soul and warm the body. It is primal. To me, it seems the way God meant it to be!

Obviously it’s fun talking about boom sticks and charging in to save the day. But here are some other items for your consideration for the other 23 hours in the day when the castle is not under siege:

FOOD & WATER - Your body can last 30 days without food, and only 3 days without water. What are you doing to secure a minimum of a gallon/day for each member of your family. Remember, in a grid down scenario, it will NOT take long for industrious groups to recognize that water will be more valuable than gold. Plan on making a hike to a nearby stream each day with your bucket? How long do you think it would take a gang to recognize the power of strategically placing sniper or blockades to/from accessible watering holes? You're going to need a Plan B - plastic water cans (5 gal) that can be carried, 55 gallon drums, 250 gallon rain capture systems. These will be life savers. One final word on water – consider a well hand pump like this one from Flojak. JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE A WELL DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE WATER! Without electricity, how do you plan to get that water up to you?

Figuring out food is easy. What did you eat today? Now buy 30 of that, with your goal to build up to 6-12 months of food for your family. Eggs/milk? Yeah, they have the powdered stuff. Remember that you will want to maintain as much of a normalized, familiar diet as possible so you don’t shock your body.  Don’t forget to throw in some sweets (Hershey Kisses, candy bars, etc.)  When everything seems like it’s off its hinge, you’ll appreciate having something sweet.

CLOTHING - What are you lacking right now that is either missing or in need of repair/stitching? Comfortable, water proof hiking boots should be priority. Poncho. Waterproof cold weather gear. Hats, gloves, sunglasses. Do you have extra batteries for your watch?  Also - 2 categories to prep: Everyday "civvies" /work uniform (khakis and polos, etc), and then your "playtime/hunting" gear. there is a time and place for both. Simple is best. And remember that “two is one, and one is none”.

SHELTER - This is more than do you have a roof. Consider what happens when the power goes down. Do you have light/candles/flashlights/phone service? What about backup heat? Here's food for thought: In a grid down scenario, how long do you think you can "hold up" without operational sewage? Do you have an emergency 5 gallon bucket with lid and extra baggies? Hint: some extra kitty litter? Not a bad idea. Also - inventory any possible weak spots: Ground floor doors and windows. You may also consider pre-cutting plywood to act as reinforcement in the case of a hurricane (or other man-made threats).  Now is also a good time to begin contingency plans.  Where will you go in the event of some emergency and your house is no longer safe, or has been destroyed or damaged?  Have you considered forming alliances with people in your neighborhood or church where if you are homeless you can stay with them (for a pre-determined period of time), and vice versa.

TRANSPORTATION - Lets step back for a second. Before you go shopping for a diesel Bug-out vehicle, do you have the basics? Jumper cables? Gas can? Spare tire? Reliable jack? Extra quarts of oil and coolant? These cost $50 and can be the difference between a 10 minute ride home, or being stuck in the woods overnight. Also - were you aware that you can purchase a 14 gallon gas tank with wheels to store at the house? Think about it...if the pumps go dry, you have an extra 300-400 miles of mobility that can be bartered or utilized to get to your safe house.

Going Beyond The Four Pillars

Beyond the "4-Pillars" of Food, Clothing, Shelter, and Transportation, there are other vital tactics that you will need to sustain you and your family over the next 6-12+ months: They are Communications, Defense, Medical, and Community.

COMMUNICATIONS: - As the Ghostbusters would ask, "Who ya gonna call?" Do you have a local list of 5 to 10 reliable people that you would trust if you come home to a burning house, or you find yourself surrounded by a roving band of ne'er-do-wells trying to beat down your front door and windows? After the phone tree, given the phone dead zone in New York City on 9/11, you should probably consider getting your ham radio license. When disaster hits, this is the Internet, phone system, and postal service all wrapped up in one little box. In the field of battle, when you control communication, you also control movement of the enemy, and can cut off any vital supplies and shipments.

DEFENSE: This seems to be where us guys like to go first. There's a reason this is further down the list. If you don't have these other items squared away first, then what are you going to do? Well, you become one of "them", the looter crowd that just thinks they are going to take whatever they need by force. The habit of planning the use of non-lethal force will avoid major unnecessary engagements that cost valuable resources, and cost lives. Still, you need to be able to defend yourself, your family, your home, and be prepared to come to the aid of your friends and community. It’s your duty as a man, in my humble opinion.

You don't need to spend $1,500 on the fanciest AR and a drawer full of Glocks in every caliber. It means you need the basics - 1) Knowledge/Awareness, 2) Hand to Hand/Self Defense training, 3) Concealed carry, 4) Something to defend your home against multiple aggressors for 20 to 30 minutes until help can arrive (see Communications, above). At its core you can equip yourself with a highly-concealable Taurus TCP .380 for only $200, and reliable 12 ga Shotgun for $209.

Guess what? That leaves enough funds to pick up a Mosin Nagant rifle for less than $120 that will take down any large game you may need to put on the table for your family (or even two-legged predators). Now I'm no math major, but for $529 (+FFL fees), you can purchase all the home defense that you really need. But here's the rub: These will do you no good unless you practice, practice, practice. Get involved with USPSA. Find other like-minded folks in your area who are interested in running various drills, shooting matches, and get the practice and experience you need. Losers practice so they don't miss. Winners practice until they can't miss. Chew on that for a minute.

MEDICAL - Preventive maintenance is most critical. Get off your duff and move for 20-30 minutes day. Walk, hike, hit up p90x or Insanity. Heck, go online and find some sort of fitness that you find fun. I have a 20 minute circuit of sit-ups, pushups, pull-ups, handstands, rev pull-ups, dips, burpees, curl/shrugs, weighted jump rope and deep squats/sprints that I knock out in the time it takes most people to watch television commercials. Beyond preventative, you will obviously need some basics: Supplements, pain meds, insulin, Neosporin, Band-aids, rubbing alcohol, etc. Don't over think it. Just put together what you need as you need it in a water-tight tool box, or Rubbermaid tote container. Then find some place to get CPR certified.

COMMUNITY - No man is an island, and you aren't going to be able to do this alone. We're not wire up that way. Got a bug out retreat in the boonies that's 50 miles from the nearest town? Awesome. Then what. Why not organize with people in your community. Find a common thread, and decide that if TSHTF that you, your family, your neighbors, and people within your community are going to be proactive in setting up all the items listed above.  Since before the formation of our nation, churches have played a vital role in our communities, both for spiritual guidance, as well as for community. We need each other.  As a former athlete I cannot tell you how many times I was reminded of the acronym “TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More!”.  It became a running joke, but today those words ring truer than ever.  There are people you know who can build shelter, run plumbing, electricity, fix cars and engines, set up and orchestrate civil communications and defense, bake, can, and coordinate anything you can imagine. But apart from community, those talents and strengths all go to waste.  But when combined, we all become a part of something much greater than the sum of our individual parts.

The media seems to enjoy casting "preppers" as outer fringe nut jobs, yet the federal government has underground bunkers and contingency plans for every conceivable disaster known to man. Did you know they even have contingency plans in the event an asteroid slams into the planet and wipes 90% of the population off the face of the earth? Yet you're told that you're nuts to set aside 30 days of food and water... well, to me that is nuts not to think about these things and set plans in motion. And above all else, find things that you enjoy doing and share them! Movies, plays, art, music, backpacking, dancing...and my favorite, eating! There is so much worth living and fighting for.

So why not start today with an open discussion with the people in your life? The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Start by picking up that extra 25lb block of rice at Sam’s Club. Then look to add 1 new thing each day or week. Remember, the days are evil, and each passing day is a lost opportunity to do good, not only for yourself, but for the lives of those around you who are beginning to wake up.  And see this time as a tremendous opportunity to become more as a person, and to minister to the needs of others.  Imagine the impact and good you can do when a family member or friend comes to you panicked by the reality that the world that they’ve always know is about to change.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and when a void is created, Edmund Burke once said that “All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”.  Well, now is your chance to do something good.

Hi Jim,
I wanted to let you know about an interesting visit I had last week.  Part of my job is to evaluate start-up companies for potential early-stage investments.    Ran across an interesting one last week.  Located in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, they have embarked on a totally sustainable commercial scale organic farming/ranching enterprise.  They have about 1,000 acres in Oregon and another 1,000 acres in California in the Central Valley.  Here's their process to convert regular farmland to sustainable organic agriculture and ranching:

1.  First, they acquire standard farmland, usually tilled.
2.  They convert it to pasture ensuring that there is irrigation and planting it with a robust mixture of grasses, clover, grains, hairy vetch, and other sturdy broadleaf plants.  It takes 3 years to be certified as organic so from this point on, they do not apply pesticides [herbicides,] or non-organic approved fertilizers.
3.  They then run sheep on the pasture land, moving them from segment to segment every 3-5 days. They sell the lambs yearly and keep the breeding ewes for about 5-7 years when they are also sold. They also harvest hay to feed the ewes over the winter.  Volunteer weeds are favorites of the sheep and very little land maintenance is required beyond irrigation.
4.  Sheep are alternated with very large chicken tractors that move on winches about 1 foot/hour.  Eggs and meat are harvested.
5.  Cows are run on the land occasionally.
6.  After three years of this production, the pasture foliage has filled in and is very dense.  The biomass has also been completely re-established in the ground.  The ground has rebuilt its nitrogen content and is now ready for crops.
7.  After several additional years of production (optional), pigs are allowed on the pasture.  The pigs rip up the soil and add natural fertilizer.
8.  After a partial season of pig use, the land is tilled and organic crops are grown for two years.
9.  After cropping, the land is re-planted in pasture and the process repeats.

As you can see, this requires substantial farm land in order to rotate the different utilizations at the proper time.  What is interesting is the financial dynamics of this process.  Typical farmland produces about a 4% return on investment (ROI) annually.  Margins have decreased since ethanol production and other factors have driven up the cost of fertilizers, additives and animal feed.  With their process, they are getting 8% ROI and it is indefinitely sustainable.  Plus, the meat, eggs, and crops are all organic commanding premium prices for the farmers.  I should note that their business model is to be simply owners/managers of the land.  They lease out the land to other commercial enterprise who raise sheep, cows, chickens, pigs and crops and sell them into the organic marketplace.  They lease the land on the schedule noted above.

I thought that this may have some value to homesteaders and people setting up their retreat.  Perhaps this could work on a smaller scale; say five acres or so with small numbers of sheep, pigs and chickens.  You would need ongoing access to grass seed to re-seed pastures if you chose to grow crops. - Sid L.


Thought I'd pass on some field training exercise (FTX) grunt games that we used to use for training. It's an excellent way to evaluate your rural home or retreat security, and develop reconnaissance skills.

I don't know if the military still encourages this kind of training, but during the Cold War, there was a game we used to play to try and keep sharp. If I remember right, both my army reserve unit and later, my regular army mechanized infantry units both practiced this. It costs about nothing, but hones critical skills.

The premise is simple:

To send a team out to gather as much information on the opposing team as possible, and report back without being caught. To make things a little more interesting, each aggressor team member would have a deck of cards, and place them on items of value that they could have stolen or destroyed inside the defenders camp. And if one of the aggressors were caught, they were usually held inside the camp, and made to do something embarrassing (singing a nursery rhyme, clucking like a chicken, or whatever the officer or NCO felt like at that time).

The defensive team would, of course, try and create a defense where no one could sneak through, send out patrols to try and spot/capture recon-patrols, and set traps within their parameter to secure valuable/sensitive items.


When training within the platoon, one group (usually a team to squad size - 4 to 13 people) are marked as the aggressor, the remaining play the defensive role. Sometimes this would even be one company against another company where both had aggressor and defensive components.

This was never official, and usually the losers had to pay for some beer when it was over, but you would be surprised how effective it was.

Training Goals:

Learn where your training is weakest - both in personal training and the tactical abilities of your team/platoon/company.
The best way to learn where your parameter is weakest is to try and get around it.
The best way to learn how to defend against small recon size patrols or individuals is to defend against them.
Not knowing the exact location of the defenders was critical. We would get a general location of where they might be, but beyond that we had to track down the defenders by search grids, and their lack of noise and light discipline.
Most of this was done at night. We had night vision, but the technology is not as effective as you might think in woodland terrain. Plus when the goggles are cranked up to full power, they send out a light beam that gives you away when the opposing team has the goggles too.

Sometimes the NCO on patrol would declare himself "injured", and he would alternate putting E4s in charge during the remaining mission. It always caused a little confusion, but dealing with confusion was part of the exercise.

To avoid the 'I saw you' excuses, we would plan out the recon, mark times at different points, and if possible leave cards where you could have stolen or destroyed materials. In addition, there was on occasion a hidden case of beer. If you could get it out of the defensive parameter without being caught it was yours, if you could identify where it was you split it with whoever else spotted it. We mixed up the rewards all of the time, but you get the point.

One last note: we often did this over the course of a planned field exercise, and in-between normal training. If you only do this for one night, then the opposing force will be ready and have most of their people awake as possible. If they don't know if you are coming tonight, tomorrow night, or early next week, then they have to use a normal schedule for security. It also meant that if we were to infiltrate when they were the most tiered from their daily training, we would be infiltrating under the same conditions, and with the added strain of the patrol. - Robert B.

A reminder that the ongoing Radio Free Redoubt podcast series is now available on iTunes.

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Simon Black brings us news of the latest absurdity from Nanny State Britannia: Trust me, this is good news. (OBTW, one of the comments to that article mentioned a parallel event, in California.)

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Almost half of new veterans seek disability

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G.G. flagged this surprisingly well-balanced article from The Guardian: Indian women turn to firearms against threat of violence. (Notes on the Video: The family in the opening sequence seriously needs to get some eye and ear protection! But you gotta love their Broomhandle Mauser carbine and the Road Warrior truncated double-barrel shotgun. They deserve a few style points, for those.)

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Pierre M. sent this news from Southern California: Flea-Borne Typhus Warning in Santa Ana

"While the majority of Americans are oblivious to the warning signs around them, recent actions taken by our government and the governments of other industrialized nations suggest The Powers That Be know very well where we’re head. They are and have been taking steps for quite some time to prepare for what is coming next...

...When it hits the fan, and things go critical, the recent actions of our government demonstrate that it is only capable of responding in one way – through brute force and tyranny.

Everything they have done in recent years with respect to liberty-restricting legislation, the militarization of our police forces and the expansion of the security industrial complex has been to prepare for the inevitable.

They already know it's coming. They're getting ready for it. You might want to consider doing the same." - Mac Slavo, in his SHTFPlan blog

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our mid-year 25%-off sale on the SurvivalBlog Archive CD-ROM ends tomorrow (May 31, 2012.) The latest six year compilation includes my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" in digital format, as a bonus. At the sale price, the CD-ROM is $11.25 and the Digital Download is just $7.50. Be sure to order your copy before the sale ends.


Today we present three more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $219 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries received will likely run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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.

There are a lot of things to be fearful of in this old world.  But, for most of us Joe Average North Americans, there are things we believe that are likely to happen, and many other events that are a lot less likely.
Most of us are not all that worried about a magnetic pole shift, the Mayan calendar ending this year, the Yellowstone super volcano, or an alien invasion from outer space.  It’s not that all those things are impossible, but there are threats that are simply a lot more probable.

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average (the people that don’t have their heads stuck in the sand in denial) are most worried about an economic collapse.  Joe knows these events have happened historically in our own country (1929), as well as many other countries.  He is not so rigid as to think it can’t happen again.

In the current world, Joe hears about it from many different media outlets.  Prior to the last few years, since around 2008, Joe never heard such dire thoughts from any media source, much less from the now countless sources.  He knows the causes could be myriad, and everyone out there has a theory and a prediction.  It might be “just” a hard economic downturn like the Great Depression, and there still might be basic law and order.  Or, it could be truly apocalyptic social disintegration.  Joe is not so arrogant as to think he knows how all the countless variables will turn out.  He might not know what the eventual “tipping point” will be, but neither is he is oblivious to what is happening in the world around him.  He sees the signs.  A recent poll indicated that nearly 50% of Americans believe there will be an economic collapse within their lifetimes.  Many see it as imminent.
Joe, being a practical sort, has stored up a little extra food, water, and supplies, including outdoor gear.  Joe and his family would much rather “bug in” than “bug out”, but he can envision a social collapse where that choice might not be his to make.  He especially knows that if the power grid were to go down, all bets are off.  Joe, trying to look ahead, can foresee a time when cities might become dangerous places, at least for a fairly extended period of time.  Though he can see this possible future, he is still more than a little reticent about the thought of bugging out his family to a remote location in a “live off the land” scenario.

However, Joe, as I have described him, has a lot more going for him than he might think if he has to put into action his bug-out plan to a remote area.  Less than 2% of the population has made any preparations for such an event.  Joe has; at least to some degree.  When he reaches his bug-out location, he has food, water, and camping gear.  He also has a little basic fishing and hunting gear.  He may not have enough for months or years, but he has some.  Most of the population will have virtually zero.

Also, he has been thinking about all the “what ifs” this new world might bring.  Again, that is a lot more than the other 98% out there who think preppers are ignorant idiots who are wasting their time.  Those folks believe the government will “do something” so that it won’t get that bad.  Yeah, right.

Even for Joe, however, life in the wilderness won’t be a picnic, especially for months on end.  Joe, like the rest of us, will need a little change of mindset.  We will all have to realize that at least some of the rules have changed.

The following is a list of “possibles” to think about.  These are all situation oriented.  Obviously, what to do will depend on the exact situation we find ourselves in, and none of us can really predict that.  We have to prepare for a little of everything, but we don’t need to go out of our way to make it any more back-breaking than it has to be.

The mantra of this list is:   Use common sense, do the Easy Stuff First.

(1)  Joe needs to go to water.  Most of us live within a few miles of a stream, river, lake, creek, or even just a pond.  The easiest stuff to successfully accomplish is almost always near water.  Obviously, this won’t help if you are stranded in the Mojave, but Joe has transportation.  Find water.
(2)  Joe needs to clear his mind of at least some old precepts.  Not many people are going to be able to take their trusty bolt action rifle (that has been in the closet for years) and go out and get a deer every couple of weeks to feed their family.  Many people think they could, but it is really unrealistic for most of us.  There might be a few exceptions.  There are a few areas of the country that are simply teeming with large game, but those areas are extremely few and far between.  Even in those areas, there will be a lot of other people competing for that same game in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  Again, think easy.  Hunting is, in most instances, a fair amount of work.  You want to conserve calories, not expend them.
(3)  After setting up his camp, Joe should try water resources.  It is generally easier to obtain protein in (or near) water than elsewhere.  Try tiny hooks for small fish.  Almost any water source will have perch or other small fish.  I have caught many small perch by using bait I scrounged up at the site such as grasshoppers, grubs, crickets, etc.  Once, I used a petal off of a very tiny white flower (or weed) I found in the grass.  All you have to catch with this improvised bait is one of these tiny fish, and then you can cut it into tiny pieces for better bait.  Once you have these tiny pieces of fish flesh for bait, you can generally catch all you want of the little buggers.  Does it matter that you can only catch 3 inch fish?  In the old world, it would not have gotten you any bragging rights, but now is a whole new ball game.  A skillet full will be good, and will conserve the canned goods and MREs you brought with you.
After all, most of us Joe Averages out there have an immediate family of five or less.  Most Joes won’t be trying to feed forty people.
(4)  Joe will have started off with a success; not a failure.  It is, admittedly, a small success, but at least it is a positive outcome, not effort expended that produced nothing.  Failures breed worry and panic.  A positive outcome will help not only Joe’s attitude, but also his wife and children.  If the kids (and their Mom) see an initial positive outcome, it eases their minds.  On the other hand, if they see Dad fail miserably right off the bat, it scares them.  Dad needs to be seen as doing things that work.  A series of little victories is a good thing.
(5)  Set traps that will work while you don’t.  Again, think easy and conserve energy.  Cut a plastic 2 liter soda bottle so that you can reverse the cone end back into the larger end, forming a cone fish trap.  Chop up one of the tiny fish you caught earlier to use for bait inside.  Let it “fish” for you in shallow water while you rest.  Again, it will only catch very small fish, but so what.
(6)  Set individual lines from limbs overhanging the water (or cut poles) to fish while you do other things.  Multi-hooked trot lines, if possible, are even better.
(7) If the body of water has crayfish (poor boy’s shrimp), toss a burlap bag or some such thick cloth into the waters edge, pat it down flat, and let it set for an hour or two.  Crayfish will hide under it, and you can catch some of them by quickly yanking it out on the bank.  Some will have their claws caught in the underside of the bag.  A lot of them will escape, but so what.  You have expended little effort.
(8) If Joe thought ahead and brought with him a piece of large plastic pipe (4” diameter, or so, like is used in sewage drain lines), he can make an un-baited hollow log catfish trap with very little effort.  He would need a piece about 3’ long.  Wire off one end so that water will flow through, but the catfish can’t.  Leave the other end open.  Tie a rope to that end (to retrieve), and toss it into the water.  Leave for several hours at least.  Catfish will swim into these just like they will an actual hollow log that has fallen into the water.  Exactly why they do it, I don’t have a clue.  But, they do.  It is a fact.  “Noodlers” take advantage of this catfish behavior.  Have you ever seen the television show Hillbilly Handfishing?
(9) Something to think about.  Most of the activities mentioned thus far are things that will fish for you while you do something else, or maybe while you simply rest.
(10) Something else to think about.  Virtually all of the above things can be hidden so that a passerby would not even notice.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation, even a remote area might have some people passing through that would rob a fish trap (or set hooks) if they were visible.
(11)  Look for shallow inlet pools.  These are little offshoots of most all waterways where water (and fish) have overflowed into shallow pools just off the main body of water.  Eventually the water level dropped slightly, leaving the fish trapped in the small pool.  If the pool is too large to grab the small fish by hand, carve a spear to stab them with.  Bamboo is relatively easy to whittle into a multi-pronged spear with barbs.  Water birds (like kingfishers) utilize these small pools because their prey is easier to catch there than in more open and deeper water.
This method is obviously a little more work, since you have to physically have to spear or catch the fish.  It won’t work while you rest.  Sorry about that.
(12)  If there are no shallow inlet pools around, you can make your own fairly easily.  Find a spot on the bank where you can wade out at least a few feet without falling into deeper water.  Drive sticks (bamboo is good, but use whatever you have) into the mud making a fence out into the water.  Obviously, the farther out you go, the longer the sticks will have to be.  Move about three feet over, and build a second fence out into the water.  Then, form a cone back toward the bank from the end of both fences.  Looking at it from the bank, it should look like an “M”.  Leave the cone of the M open, so that fish can swim in.  In essence, it is just another cone trap like you made earlier with the plastic soda bottle.  Again, a little work is involved with this one, but once built it will work for you relatively permanently.
(13)  In some waterways, schools of small fish can be netted if you just had a net.  If you can cut a ten foot long pole with a Y shaped end, you can fashion one.  Take a t-shirt and tie the sleeves into a knot.  Then, tie the shirt onto the Y end of the pole forming what hopefully looks something like a butterfly net.  Again, small fish is about all you can hope for, but so what.
(14)  Hopefully, it goes without saying that if a “big success” stumbles into your lap, go ahead and take advantage of it.  Use that trusty old rifle if an elk ambles by your camp.  Everything is situation oriented.  Don’t let doing the easy stuff blind you to an opportunity of bigger and better.
(15)  If Joe has a minnow seine or a cast net, either is quick and easy to use if the water is shallow enough to wade out a few yards.  Again, these items produce a quick gain for little effort.
(16) After a pattern of success has been developed, and the initial panic and apprehension of being forced to bug-out has faded, Joe can move on to “bigger” things if he wants.  He can move on to trying for bigger fish, hunting wild game, setting animal snares, and the like.  Squirrel or rabbit hunting generally has a high success rate.  If his time in the wilds is extended, he will eventually have to set up a water filter for when his initial supplies run low.  The really hard stuff is now starting.   But, he will have avoided the initial fear and panic that could have proved fatal for his little family.

Hope for the best.  Prepare for the worst. 

About The Author: Dale Martin is the author of several books, including Every Man's Guide to Outdoor Survival

Prepper fever has gripped the nation!  While I can find no exact numbers on how many of us there are, public awareness is gaining momentum. The National Geographic Channel has a television show on the subject, which showcases some of the most colorful preppers in the United States, and their approach is as varied as their personalities.   You Tube is full of videos teaching old time skills that were a way of life for generations before us, such as cooking beans from scratch, making fire with a bow drill, or raising and butchering rabbits for meat.  With a little spare time, one can learn handy new skills in minutes and a few hours practice, for a lifetime of application.

I have been a prepper in the making since my earliest memories around age six, and I am now in my fifties.   The Great Depression left indelible marks on my parents and grandparents. I grew up watching them save rubber bands into giant balls, reuse tin foil and little bits of soaps were treated as valuable as a new bar. “Waste not, want not” was more than a cliché in our home.  

Stories of how folks survived by bartering with neighbors, hunting for wild berries, keeping a garden and caring for livestock, were told by my grandmother with the flair of James Herriot, the resourceful country veterinarian who authored the best-selling book All Creatures Great and Small.   Granny loved to recount how she could catch and dispatch a chicken, de-feather and put it in the pot, all by the time she was eight years old!  Sadly most of us wouldn’t know how to do that if our life depended on it…and one day soon, it may.

 While I have never had to endure that kind of “work or don’t eat” ethic growing up, the lessons were not lost on me. My ancestors had survived a colossal event and I was acutely aware of that possibility in my own life as a result.  Like Scarlett O’Hara, in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, they would “never be hungry again”, and I didn’t want to either. The ‘seeds’ of survival had been planted in my young impressionable mind.

About four years ago those ‘seeds’ started to sprout in my imagination; I developed a keen desire to start an emergency supply of foods and necessities for my family. Concerns gleaned from watching news of a changing and suffering world prompted me to action…it was time to reap what I knew.   It started with one five shelf rack in a corner of our four car basement garage...then I had a wood platform built over an open dirt area to support a supply of water.  Added a few more rack systems here and buckets there, it would be alarming if it wasn’t so wonderful!  Everything kept growing until Hubby realized just how serious it all was when I announced I wanted to become a one car family to "make more room."  

Three quarters of our four car garage later, we have finally run out of room to add many supplies.   One of the characteristics of Prepper fever is that symptoms continually evolve. One rarely recovers once you catch it, the condition is progressive.  And so I looked into developing farming skills, keeping chickens, gardening, dehydrating food and canning. Stores of supplies won’t last forever; I will have to grow my own food to be viable for any long term event.  Granny would be proud!

You Tube is now my favorite story hour showing how to prepare for uncertain times.  I love to watch as preppers take me through their basements, closets and homes, displaying neatly stacked rows of every variety of canned goods, homemade preserves, pickles and gleaming jars of golden applesauce.  From Spam and Top Ramen to the gourmet food prepper I saw on the National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers, I soaked it up.  Everyone has their own idea of what food and items to store.    And that's fine, personal taste and pocket book size will come together to create a food supply as unique as the individual who stores it.  

One day while reviewing some of my favorite food storage videos, I noticed a common pattern emerging.  All those neatly organized rows of jars, bottles and cans were sitting right up to and on the edge of disaster, literally.  Nothing between them and the hard floor below and it dawned on me, what would happen if there was an earthquake? 

In this day and age of escalating earth moving events, earthquakes are predicted to become more common place than ever.  From Bible prophecy to web sites that update world-wide seismic events daily, they are poised to become a reality to be reckoned with.  The problem with earthquakes is that they aren't a problem, until they are!  Suddenly, unpredictably so!   And we are told they can happen anywhere!

People that have never lived through an earthquake don't have it in their minds to consider the havoc that can be created in less than a minute.   I lived through the Northridge, California Quake on January 17, 1994, which lasted 20 seconds and left damages of nearly $20 billion. Our best friend had to vacate his now leaning “tower of Pisa” condo, which took nine months to restore, and he had to pay the mortgage the whole time!  My mother lost two irreplaceable antique glass birds off her piano, and every dish and tumbler we had crashed to the floor, most were broken, and all from behind closed cabinet doors!  It was a mess...but nothing we lost affected our survival...we were lucky. 

I went back and reviewed my favorite videos with a whole different thought in mind.  All of these precious stores of food, along with the time and money poured into their loving procurement and placement on shelves could be destroyed in mere moments.   What then?   Aside from the obvious, cleaning up the mess and taking inventory, stalwart preppers would go back to work and try to replace what was lost. 

But, what if we couldn't?  What if supplies were no longer available? What if inflation had taken hold and canning jars are now $12 each, instead of $12 a box?   Or maybe gasoline prices had gone sky high and there is no longer a budget to buy extra food for storage.  What if the season to grow fruits and vegetables was still months away?   Or what if hard times have already brought rationing?   All of these things are expected to happen at some point, to some degree, by those who prepare.  Maybe our supplies might not be replaced, to our liking, if at all.

So let's reverse the projector movie image of crashing jars and cans, in our mind, and have those smashed jars and dented cans now fly backwards onto the shelves, pulling themselves back together again!  Your goods are safe!   There's still time for you to take precautions against just such an event.   

In this article my wish is to inspire you to join me!  I didn’t want all my efforts go to waste, by way of an earthquake, for want of a few precautions.  Here are some of the solutions that that I have implemented in my own situation.  Not having many tools or skills to match, but handy with an electric drill, I have met my goals with minimal expense and effort.   I was also limited by having to work with the space configuration I had created...there was no going back and starting over.  

The first thing I did was tackle my six foot tall heavy steel shelf racks. We emptied and re-arranged them, placing them back to back to each other, so products would butt up against one another in the middle, and keep the inside items relatively safe.  This type of freestanding steel shelf system can be bolted to the floor, for added stability.  We did not do this, as we also have water issues in the basement with heavy rain of more than a week’s duration, but it is an option for those who don't have flooding problems. 

On the open side of each steel rack unit, I put up cross bars to block items from flying off.   The corner posts of the shelves have V shaped openings through which bolt heads can be attached.  I measured and purchased long boards, 2.5”x .75” x 6.5’, the width of the shelf from frame to frame.  I drilled two holes at the end of each board to correspond with the V slots in the corner posts, to allow for different positions.  Slip the four inch bolt through a hole in the board and spin the wing nut onto the threaded end.

Now position the board across the food items on the shelves to the desired position, and slip the bolt’s nut head into the V slot on the outer frame.  Because of the V shaped grooves, the bolt head sets in securely.  Spin the wing nut to tighten, and voila!  I had a secure stopping point in front of my valuable goods.   You can raise and lower the bar to any level and even put the boards at an angle, by just setting the bolt head in a higher or lower V slot, and adjusting the bolt in one of the two holes drilled in the board and securing the wing nut.  

Permanent blocking bars can be added instead, but the wing nuts make this system extra serviceable.  They spin off and on quickly and the boards swivel up or down to add product, or remove completely if needed. Even if you don’t have the metal type shelves that I do, placing long bars across book shelf style cabinets or wood shelves works just as well, just measure and drill accordingly.  Add more boards if needed, to accommodate tall products or stacked boxes. 

Blocking bars should be placed high enough that items cannot tip over them in an earthquake, but low enough to keep things from slipping through under the board as well.   Double boards usually fill most requirements for holding goods back.  I am still delighted with the design every time I use them, no carpenter skills needed and a very affordable solution.

I had a few areas where I could not use these boards, due to foundation poles and walls being in the way.  For these areas I tried bungee cords.  These do a marginal job and will hold things like toilet paper and paper towels back, but even stretched taut, they did not have the holding power of the boards.  Still, I do find them handy for temporary applications.  Multiple bungees can make a difference. The bungee ends are re-useable, so pick up a spool of the bungee cord, and you can tie your own later when they fray, which they will with time. I have found with one year of use outdoors, and about two years indoors they need to be watched or replaced.  

After the boards and bungees were in place, we simulated earthquakes, shaking and moving the shelves and decided keeping things from falling to the floor was just the first step.  I had originally stacked canned goods three or more high, as they do in grocery stores.   It looks nice and stays just fine, when not moving!   So I decided to box all cans and jars.  This also had the added advantage of preventing mold on some of the paper labels, as well as keeping like items together.  Marking the exteriors of the boxes with product, number and dates also makes a handy reference system for rotating boxes, as needed.   And they slide out like drawers (I remove the box lids), when I take down the wood bars holding them in place.  It’s still as easy to grab an item off the shelf as it ever was.

Take advantage of Club Stores bins of free boxes and use these for sorting your cans.  I like boxes that are double folded and have a nice polished finish on them, for example, the boxes that hold olive oil are great for stacking. This type seems to hold up well against moisture, which can be a problem in humid areas.  There are sizes to fill most needs.   Once you have identified boxes that fit and work with your products and spacing, fill and place them on the shelves. Select all of the same size, and you can stack them more easily. Test shaking these newly arranged boxes we decided glass items would need a little insulation from one another.  While most bottles and jars would probably survive a modest shaker, it would still be possible to lose glass to a long or serious earthquake, as they clinked repeatedly against each other.  

 Earthquakes can last a long time.  The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 had strong motion that lasted four to five minutes, with reports up to eight minutes.  With this in mind, I repacked all glass with a plastic grocery bag around each, twisting the top around the sides, to create bulk between them and close out dust and moisture.  Grocery plastic bags are still free at most markets, so start collecting them while they are available.  Some areas are actually starting to charge for them, I have seen added fees as much as ten cents a bag. I plan to recycle the bags in the future, for a variety of uses.  A simple inexpensive solution, no more clinking glass! 

Earthquake straps proved to be the solution for one tall wood cabinet holding miscellaneous goods.  At nearly seven feet tall, it was a concern for human safety as well as my supplies.  There are several styles of these straps on the market.  I didn’t want to drill holes in the cabinet, so I selected a design with peel and stick Velcro® brand hook & loop straps on one end to attach to the cabinet and a steel bracket that I mounted to a stud in the wall.  The straps are connected by a buckle in the middle that is adjustable for a snug fit.   I used child safety locks to secure the four doors, which could easily fly open, even if the cabinet would no longer fall.  I finished the whole project in less than an hour.  These two solutions I installed throughout my entire home, for added security and peace of mind.   

For smaller glass items and spices, I purchased zip style sandwich baggies, and sealed each container inside and arranged them in suitable sized boxes.  The baggies act as buffer for glass against glass, and will also come in handy for reuse.  Smaller boxes of spices were nested in larger boxes by type and use, so they could be organized behind the safety bars.  No shake, rattle or roll, with heavy handed rocking tests. Socks also work great, instead of plastic bags.   The jars won't clink and the socks can be recycled later for feet or rags.

 Taking inventory of my cooking oils, I was pleased to see I had amassed quite a supply by picking up a bottle each trip to the market.  If these were damaged in a shaker, I would have a mess I didn’t care to imagine.  I also realized I had a small fortune in future liquid gold here, so these needed some serious attention, quickly!   Each bottle was wrapped in adhesive bubble wrap (it's a wonderful product, sticky like post it notes, re-useable and tears to fit the size required) and arranged to fit snuggly in a five gallon plastic bucket.  I added oxygen absorbers to the bucket, and sealed with a gamma lid (screw top lids) so I could get to them easily, adding new oxygen absorbers each time I took out a new bottle.  There is also the added advantage of keeping them protected from light and air, which are time enemies of oil.

Buckets were also my choice for extra supplies of syrup, jam and other delectable glass jar delights whose loss we would mourn.   But to keep costs down, as buckets can add up, a more frugal method would be to store in boxes by alternating a plastic jar with a glass jar, to prevent clinking glass.  Peanut butter mostly comes in plastic jars, and jelly mostly in glass, although there are exceptions.  I rotate my peanut butter and jelly jars this way, and they are perfect "moving buddies" should things start to shake.   We tested vigorously, with no alarming sound of glass.  

When I first started storing bulk food in buckets, I had not yet discovered mylar bags.   I had put up quite a bit of Jasmine rice this way.  So I opened one of these buckets after three years of storage. The rice was still fragrant, dry and perfect, even though I stored it directly on concrete, which I have since learned is not a good idea due to moisture coming up through the cement. I now stack all of my buckets on pallets.  For the budget minded, free buckets can be had by asking at your local market bakery, and there are free pallets on Craigslist for the vigilant watcher.

I decided to repack my rice in mylar bags, inside their buckets.  This way if they should tip or fall in an earthquake, and the buckets crack open, the product is still intact inside.  If the bucket does fall and break, but just slide the mylar bag into another bucket with no serious loss of food. 

My spices and jars of dehydrated foods are kept in a book case type cabinet, with dowels as blocking bars.  I worried that some of the taller jars could topple over the dowel, and smaller spice jars could slip under, if they tipped over. I fixed this problem by adding small bits of quake hold to the bottom of each jar.  It is a brand name for museum putty, a non-toxic dough that secures the jar to the shelf.   After my experience with the quakes in California, I tried this product on decorative items I had around the house and it works great!  NOTHING with the Quake Hold fell in any earthquake after that, and I have been through several.   It is re-useable, just stick the jar back where you got it, push down and it holds, again and again.  Museums use it, it works! 

Since most of us don't have the luxury of unlimited space to make everything ground floor, some stacking may be necessary with buckets.  I arranged mine five high, before I started thinking safety and loss.  But I needed to know how they would survive a crash to the ground.  I set up an area with four by four buckets, stacked five high, there were 80 buckets.   Knocking them down I had a moment of hesitation, as it’s like sticking a balloon with a pin, awaiting the dreaded pop.  

To simulate how they might fall in an earthquake, we used six individuals to push some buckets with long handled tools from a distance and the rest of us pulled lines tied to handles, to get all to fall in the most spectacular fashion possible.   It’s not easy to knock that many buckets down, we discovered, and only the upper most fell, from the fifth and fourth level.  I was amazed that not a single bucket cracked or broke open!  I did gain confidence in their ability to do the job.  Even if some do break, if a real test comes along, the mylar bags are like a second line of defense that will hold things together.  

 Based on personal experience, I no longer stack gallons of water more than two high!  Water is heavy and I have lost some to eventual leakage, just from the weight of the top bottles over time.   I now only buy my bottled water still in boxes.  Grocery stores will order and hold them for you this way, if you ask.   The water you buy in gallon jugs on the shelf arrives from the shippers boxed, but are removed to be put on the market shelves.  

One item I will only keep on ground level is powered milk.  Mine came in six gallon super pails, with no mylar bags.  I chose not to repackage them, as they have oxygen absorbers in them, and the lids were all sealed.  If they fell from a high position and cracked, the milk powder would be flow freely.  Beans can be swept up and used after a good rinse, but powdered milk is fine and sticky, and at least some would be lost.  If you have canned milk at the LDS Canneries know what a mess it is to clean up, even when you are careful not to spill much.

Assess your supplies, and a logical order will dictate your storage needs.  If you have to stack higher than you like, consider placing soft landing items next to areas where taller buckets would fall.   Blankets, sealed in plastic vacuum bags, toilet paper and paper towels, bundled in large 55 gallon bags.   Also  the same bags full of market grocery bags.   I have one whole row of soft items stored next to my only six high stacked wall of buckets.  If they do fall, their landing will be softer and items below will also survive.

I feel my storage is now measurably safer than before I implemented these simple and inexpensive ideas.  Like food prepping, safety prepping is addictive. I will continue to imagine the worse, so I can prepare the best.  I look forward to viewing new You Tube videos showing some of these ideas, as well as others I didn’t use. The prepper community is resourceful and clever.  Whatever the skill level and budget one has to work with, I hope I have demonstrated that taking a little time and effort will pay off if and when the ground starts moving in a town near you!  . 

Disability has many faces and people with disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are born with a disability or become disabled at some point in your life, learning to survive “differently” than able bodied persons is a challenge. Life in general is geared for those who are strong in mind, body and spirit. Having a disability, whatever it is, does not mean that you are less of a person or unable to have a good life, or survive catastrophe should it occur. Our Disabled Veterans would surely agree since some of their injuries are visible and some are not, and this is true with all people. We must not judge a person’s value by how they appear.

 Growing up I learned a great deal from my parents from how to paint a wall to refinish furniture. I loved using tools and became confident about building and repairing things. Broken tile? Need a new light switch? Leaky water pipe? No problem. I learned to do things that were traditionally male type tasks and I enjoyed it as much as I did art, cooking, gardening and sewing. Suddenly, I found myself disabled at 40 years of age. I was physically unable to do many things that I once took for granted. Some days, just standing up was the victory of the day. I am 53 now, with good doctors and treatments and while I will never be able to do the things I once did, I am always looking for ways to do something useful, to be an asset rather than a burden. Even if the world wasn’t in a state of turmoil, and I was not compelled to make preparations for what could be radical, desperate and life altering changes, I would still want my life to have purpose. I like and need a reason to be.

I began to think, especially as the idea of survival preparedness loomed ever larger with the start of 2012. I live in the woods, on good defensible land, with an abundance of fresh spring water and resources. Even though I know what to do, have made some preparedness plans and continue to do so, what can I really do? As someone unable to run, get down on the ground, lift heavy objects or survive without medication, what am I going to do? How can I make sure that I am not one of those counted as a liability? The thought made me cringe.

By the way, did I mention that I am a woman? Sure, I can cook, and cook well but when the rubber hits the road I have to act to protect me and insure that I can handle myself with the trials that may come. However, with an uncooperative body there are extra steps that I want to take, and anyone with physical challenges may want to think about them as well. I need to be able to do what I have to do in order to stay alive, and this is where I started.

It helps to enjoy the outdoors and be comfortable with less. I think that surviving an apocalyptic shift depends on being able to adapt and make due. The richest man in the world, comfortable in his condominium with a view and a private chef to feed him won’t be able to pull out that credit card and build a fire, or have fresh water to drink. Sure, there are a small percentage that will buy the bunkers, stock them, and be ready for a while but those provisions will run out and that is when true survival begins.

As a person with physical limitations, it has also limited my ability to make a living and greatly diminished the “disposable income” that one needs to prepare for a future of uncertainty. Do the best you can to obtain the things that you will need and teach yourself some survival skills. Find like-minded people who are willing to work and purchase as a team if that is what you need to do in order to make survival realistic. Cooperation will become very important and a strong core of individuals or families who have been preparing together and working together will fare better than most, but be sure that you teach yourself the basics and buy the best that you can, whenever you can, where supplies are concerned.


I have a gun and I am willing to use it. I imagine that some people see disability as a weakness, and it is. Some may think that because I am disabled that I am an easy target but they are wrong. This is why it is important to own a gun, or guns for self-defense. (As well as a variety of other weapons and tools) Purchasing a handgun is a very personal choice; one you must be comfortable with. You need a pistol that you can comfortably clean, load, carry and shoot based on your limitations.

Go to a gun store and ask questions, (talk to gun-owning friends if you have them) handle multiple weapons and look at the differences between automatics and revolvers. They are different in weight, ease of use, cost and ammunition. Remember, if you are going to one day raise a gun in defense against another person, you want to stop the oncoming attack. Be sure that the pistol and ammunition you choose will do that.

Go to an indoor range that rents guns and test them because handling at the gun shop is not enough for you to make a final decision. Firing a pistol is not like in the movies and it takes time to learn how to do it well. It is a good idea if you have not handled firearms before, to take a gun safety course. Learn about your weapon. Learn everything about it. Take it apart and reassemble it until you can do it comfortably and quickly. Clean it often. Practice firing until you can hit a target consistently well at 25 and 50 feet and then practice some more.

Once you have chosen your weapon, start putting ammunition away as you can afford to do so. Every chance I get I buy a box of shells and lock them up because it is getting harder to find ammunition, and it is certainly hard to afford on a fixed income. Do the best that you can.

Now that you have a pistol, think about a rifle. A pistol will help you defend yourself up close, but in a situation where you must protect your life, property and supplies, a long reaching weapon will be needed. You may need a way to hunt for food including large game or keep away intruders from a distance. Follow the same rules as when buying a handgun. You have many choices. The most important thing is being able to use the weapon effectively should you have to. To my way of thinking, a variety of weapons is ideal. A 9mm pistol, long range centerfire hunting rifle, .22 rifle, BB rifle and shotgun are my basic choices where guns are concerned but what you need is what you can shoot.

For protection there are a myriad of choices beyond guns and all have their uses. From knives to crossbows and everything in between it is smart to have a variety for defense and beyond because bullets can run out. Knives and hatchets have a hundred uses and are necessary components for any survival situation. Your research and physical abilities will dictate what works well for you.

Cooperation or Creating Your Own Army  
No man/woman is an island, especially when disabled. We are disabled due to specific limitations, and those limitations will affect us in a time of survival. There are some things that I cannot do and I rely on someone else to fill that gap in my everyday life. The same is true in a survival situation and we have to be able to adjust or rely on others. It doesn’t seem to matter who I talk to these days; everyone has varying concerns about the state of the world and the desire to prepare for “something that is coming.”

It didn’t take very long for me to find a small group of people who shared my concerns as well as my desire to plan ahead. Some of these folks have limitations and some are able bodied and between us we have the physical capability, knowledge and a growing arsenal of supplies to support ourselves safely and effectively. Do the best you can to build a reserve of supplies and create a team of like-minded people, even other disabled folks with the same thoughts on surviving. I may be crippled, but it is my able-bodied friends who are asking to be in my home for safety should the world become apocalyptic that let me know I am heading in the right direction.

Do the same for yourself and remember that these are the people who you will have to be around, work with and depend on for a long time. Take into consideration the personalities, ethics, (work, personal and political) and habits of your army. You will rely on them, live with them, and answer to them so make sure all of you can work together and compromise when needed. Your very lives will depend on these bonds and each person should have skill sets that make them a valuable asset to your team. You must also have skills to make yourself an asset, and when your body doesn’t work, let your mind fill the void. Let your knowledge of survival tactics be part of your contribution.

Knowledge is power, and throughout history this has proven to be true time and again. The Spartans repelled thousands and their performance at the battle of Thermopylae (480 BC) is often used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment and good use of terrain to maximize an army’s potential, as well as a symbol of courage against extremely overwhelming odds. It was the knowledge of the few that led the Spartans to historical glory. As a disabled person with physical limitations, your place in your army can be solidified by having great knowledge. Survival can be learned by reading and watching videos on everything from fire making, stockpiling, shelter and weaponry to turning your living space into a defensible fortress. Be the one with the answers by gaining knowledge. Create a library of reference, but hold as much as you can learn in your head for later. This is part of your contribution.

Looking Beneath the Surface
We have to look deeply at ourselves, our habits, and the habits of our survival companions. I mention this in order to give examples of how deeply we will be affected when a quick trip to the corner store is no longer an option. Let’s say that one of your potential team members is an active pack-a-day-or-more cigarette smoker and they are now out of smokes; or perhaps someone who must have “a few beers” after work. I am talking about “addiction”, or “dependence”. When you talk about disability, prescription medication often goes hand in hand and that is a frightening consideration, but many people are dependent on over the counter substances as well and all of these things will have an effect on a person’s abilities and state of mind when those items are no longer available. Now is an important time to consider these things and learn to do without, rather than when you need all your senses to protect yourself.

Cigarettes, alcohol, allergy medicine, foot powder, antacid, calamine lotion, eye drops. How long will these things last? How much money do you have to put aside in order to buy a lifetime of things that we take for granted? Take a look at all the little packages in your bathroom, just as an example, and make a list but don’t include prescriptions. In all my research and with the people I speak with regarding survival preparation there is a commonality. Everyone focuses on what we need to survive; what we must know, possess, do and think. Now, look at your list and decide on what you must do without in favor of food. My list was long and detailed because I enjoy comfort and instant gratification. If I sneeze, I want a tissue. If I have an itch I want some cream.

Survival means knowing about how to live with less and I believe realistic preparation includes preparing your mind. We reach for a little pill here and a bit of lotion there without a thought and it will take a toll on your psyche if you don’t take the time to think and prepare for this in advance. As a disabled person I am already used to discomfort. It is an unfortunate part of my disability but in a way it puts me a step ahead. I have learned over many years to make due as my physical and financial abilities decreased. It is the little things that will disturb people more than the bigger changes. Let this be your strength, and with it add to your arsenal of knowledge.

Natural remedies are many and the “health and wellness” business is big, but much of it is in the form of compressed pills, processed liquids and foul smelling powders for “convenience”. It all has its place in this world but in the times to come; natural will mean plants, herbs, insects, animal parts and more. We will be forced to find our own remedies. For instance, poison ivy is the bane of most people. Growing near ivy in many cases is a plant called jewelweed. Crack the stem open and you will find the inside to be gel like and similar to aloe. Rub it on your affected skin and you get instant relief. Being able to recognize and use medicinal plants in the old days made you a valuable asset to any village. The Healer had Power. Get it?

But What About…
Prescriptions. My disability requires medication. It is illegal to stockpile prescription medication. We are given prescriptions in the amount we need for each month with instructions on exactly how to take it and when. At the end of each month the medication should be all used and you should be better off for it. For those of us with chronic conditions requiring maintenance medicine every day without fail, apocalypse is a frightening consideration, and we have to think about and consider how we will live if we must do without. Blood pressure, thyroid, depression, heart, oxygen, and the “biggie” - pain relieving prescriptions are critical to survival for many people.

There is nothing that I can tell you to do that is legal. There is nothing any of us can legally do right now to prepare for a time when and if prescriptions will not be readily available. What I can say is to think about it. Consider natural remedies that will help replace your prescriptions when possible and talk to your doctor about options. In some cases there will be none and we will all be facing the same thing. It is up to the individual or group to figure out how to bridge this formidable gap. Do not try to replace your medications with herbal remedies without the advice of your doctor. As long as you are able to get your medications you should take them without fail. Again, knowledge is key so utilize the doctor, pharmacist and reference material to prepare yourself and help others do the same.

Time To Go – Right NOW

You may be forced to move suddenly to avoid danger. Whether you live in a metropolitan condominium or a backwoods cabin the need to flee may arise and it is important that you have a plan and a “Bug-Out Bag” or “Personal Survival Kit”. This is a small, easy to manage collection of basic items that you must have in order to survive if required to suddenly leave your home, or wherever you are. The items in this kit will vary from person to person and even from week to week based on weather and other factors. The choices you will make will be personal and important, but all kits must contain items critical to survival.
As a disabled person, my needs differ somewhat from an able bodied person. If I have suddenly been forced out of my home I need shelter and a way to create it. I must be prepared to tailor my shelter to my needs. For example, I am unable to get down on the ground and get back up without help. Based on your disability, you must formulate a shelter that you can create on your own if you have to. In order to do that, you need basic tools and equipment as well as any specialty items that will assist you in your ability to survive. Give this careful thought, as these specialty items will be specific to you. There are a variety of items that each person needs to have without fail. Start with the items listed below.

  • Knife and Scabbard – A strong, sharp single edge knife with a sharpening stone is a tool for many operations. There are so many to choose from that you may find it difficult to decide what to buy. Quality is an important factor because if you are out on a cold day with the sun going down and the blade breaks while getting your first piece of wood you will be stuck. Buy a knife designed for outdoor, strenuous use.
  • Fire Starting Kit – Keeping warm, cooking and treating water are only three reasons you need to make fire. Lighters and matches are great and will serve you well for a time, but knowing how to make fire from “scratch” will save your life. I have a small tool the size of my hand. It is a rod of magnesium and striking steel fixed to a wood handle. Attached with a cord is two pieces of saw blade. A spark hitting a little pile of magnesium in a bed of tinder will quickly become a blazing fire once you know how to do it, and the tool will last a lifetime. Find one that you can manage with your disability.
  • Cordage – You can use rope or twine but paracord is light and strong and reliable. Shelter comes faster and easier when para cord is used, so a fifty foot roll will keep you out of the weather with enough left for traps and many other uses. Also include a finer gauge nylon cord to help with repairs and small snare traps.
  • Mess Kit – A small complete kit for your meals is necessary and inexpensive. They are light weight and take up a small amount of space in your bag. Choose one that includes a pot with lid, pan, dish, cup and cutlery. They come in their own waterproof bag for easy storage.
  • Tarpaulin – For use as shelter, windbreak and protection from the wet ground, a tarp or piece of heavy duty commercial plastic is an asset. In a pinch, you can wrap your supplies in it and use it as a pack. A tarp helps to radiate the heat from your fire, collect water, and shelter you, so use a good, lightweight but strong tarp measuring 8’ by 8’ at the minimum.
  • Space Blanket – A reusable “blanket” with a ton of uses, but in this instance, for sleeping. You can substitute a tarp for this, but to me, a Space Blanket goes the extra mile to keep you comfortable, and you must be able to sleep in order to have the mental alertness to effectively survive.
  • Backpack – The above items, which are the top six survival items you need, should be stored permanently in a weatherproof, easily accessible backpack or bag that is easy for you to find and carry. You should keep your pack, your Bug Out Bag, in an easily accessible place at all times. Keep it clean and well stocked.
  • Additions – To increase comfort and ability to survive there are other items that can be included in your bag.
  • Fire Kit – An assortment of items ignitable under any circumstance. These can be made at home or purchased.
  • Duct Tape – Carry a roll of high quality tape. When in doubt, use duct tape.
  • Saw – A folding saw will help you create shelter and manage firewood. Camp saws are both strong and inexpensive.
  • Ax or Hatchet – A perfect tool to help with firewood and to fashion more permanent shelters.
  • Sharpening Stone – Your edged tools work best when sharp, so you must have a stone or kit to keep them that way.
  • First Aid Kit – A waterproof basic kit is good protection and a comfort to have when adapting to a survival situation. There will be small injuries and keeping them small with bandages, topical antibiotics and cleanliness is important.
  • Containers – Lightweight collapsible containers are important for liquid and food. You must be able to store water.
  • Compass – In a survival situation, GPS systems may not be available to help orient us as to our locations. The use of a compass is easy to learn and will tuck into any small pocket of your pack.

Continuing your Bug-Out Bag is personal. For me, my medication has to go in, along with my book on medicinal plants. I also have water, a small assortment of food and clothing. Consider your needs and add to the bag accordingly. In the end, your bag needs to be light enough for you to handle and close enough to grab in a hurry.

The need to understand how to live under survival conditions could be upon us tomorrow, and what we may face is unknown, but it is certain that those with a plan, tools and the cooperation of others will stand a better chance than the average person who has not done any preparation. As disabled people, we need to take a few extra steps to claim our place in the new world, because we do belong, we have much to give and we can certainly prepare for whatever may come. Our advantage is in knowing how to operate with limitations, and our ability to show others what we know will solidify our place in the world of tomorrow.

Mr Rawles,
Thank you for your excellent Blog. Can you direct me to a supplier of rolls of military concertina wire?  I am looking for 6-to-8 rolls.  I live in Central Florida.  Google searches have revealed nothing but Chinese and Indian companies overseas.
Thank you for you help - Jim M.

JWR Replies: Buying new concertina wire or razor wire from manufacturers and distributors is a costly proposition. In my experience, the best way to buy defensive wire is used, from military (DRMO) or other government auctions. These can be found through the web site. Here is a typical auction, at Fort Lewis, Washington. Used concertina wire often sells for near scrap steel prices. Buying used defensive wire has two other advantages: 1.) It will be weathered and hence it will not be as reflective as new wire. This will make it blend in, at least when seen from a distance. 2.) It may have some rusty spots. This will likely induce fear in those with "rusty nail" phobias.

I read with interest Dr. Koelker's article/letter regarding DSMO and its pain killing effects and would like share my own personal experiences with it since I am an alternative health care practitioner (not a doctor). First, DSMO is a by product of the paper industry and yes, horse people have used this for years with excellent results. Outside of this country and within the US some doctors use it by injection directly into the joints with amazing results. A quick google search will bear this statement out. In my own experience I have used it topically for muscle problems such as pinched nerves, backaches, sore muscles, pulled muscles, etc. I have used both the gel form (which I recommend for areas of the body that the skin is not so sensitive such as legs and arms) in the pure form and then use the liquid form diluted to 50% for sensitive areas such as the neck and face (I suffer from TMJ and it works wonders for relaxing the involved muscles and stopping associated pain) and dilute down to 75% for back and front torso areas. My son is a runner and pulled a deep inner thigh muscle and used it (diluted DSMO) only twice with excellent results (pain was gone and he was able to run again normally). I use it on my dogs also (diluted). Personally I have put a few drops of peppermint essential oil into one ounce of the gel mixing well for joint pain I have in one knee due to having an ACL replacement a few years ago after an accident to stop arthritic pain. I use DSMO to help my clients (I practice massage therapy) with chronic neck and back pain from overly tight muscles. Usually it only takes a few applications to resolve such issues with muscles. Maybe repeated as needed and just a very small amount is sufficient...allow to dry before putting on clothing.
Word of caution. DMSO may cause a feeling of 'burning' and redness at the application site, similar to some essential oils with high phenol content such as basil and oregano. If you are sensitive to essential oils I would advise not to use DMSO. If you have skin conditions I would advise to not use DMSO. Do not use if you have a burn on site or sunburn. IF you choose to try DMSO I would advise to buy the liquid form (and its very cheap on ebay) and dilute 50/50 with water and test a spot on the inner elbow to see what reaction you may or may not have FIRST. If you use DMSO and the burn/stinging sensation becomes too much to bear you may simply use water to wash it soap! just water and a wash rag to gently remove it. One other note: DMSO is drying to the skin so if you have dry skin already you may notice an increase in dry skin.
Overall, I have personally found DMSO to be of excellent pain relieving for sore muscle, stiff muscle (such as the neck) and back pain due to muscle issues and it does have its place in a prepared home's first aid kit.
Thank you for your time and efforts to help others! - R. Laura

Dr. Walter E. Williams: Our Nation's Future. Williams begins his latest essay: "Our nation is rapidly approaching a point from which there's little chance to avoid a financial collapse."

G.G. flagged this: 18 Staggering Charts On The Rise Of Government Dependence

Simon Black: Why We're Nowhere Near The Mania Phase In Precious Metals

One Out Of Every Ten Banks Is A “Problem Bank” – FDIC Issues 56 Enforcement Actions In April

Lloyd's 'has plans for euro collapse'. (Thanks to Andre D. for the link.)

M.P. flagged this: Prepper speaks against stigma that all survivalists are nuts

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Alabama residents will be interested to learn that the state legislature has enacted a law providing a sales tax free weekend on disaster supplies the weekend of July 6-8, 2012. That will include things like bottled water, foods, candles, lanterns, and even generators. Our thanks to Mark C. for the news tip.

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Reader Mark P. mentioned that the Ludwig von Mises Institute now offers an e-book of liberty quotations as a free PDF download.

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G.G. spotted this: Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don't want the government spying on you (and they include 'pork', 'cloud' and 'Mexico')

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Louis C. let me know about the upcoming Andy Garcia film For Greater Glory, about the Cristiada Rebellion against atheist President Plutarco Calles in Mexico in the 1920s. (Calles founded the PRN, which was the predecessor of the long-dominant PRI political party.) This film is quite unusual for Hollywood, given politics of the day. Andy Garcia plays General Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, who ironically was both anti-clerical and a freemason. (But he sympathized with the plight of the persecuted Catholics in Mexico.)

"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."
- T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

JRH Enterprises has extended their annual Memorial Day weekend sale on Night Vision and Thermal Sight units. They have new Third Generation Pinnacle Autogated PVS-14 night vision monocular/sights with a five year warranty for as low as $2,695. Upgraded Versions are sale priced at $2,995. Also, check out the new Clip On Thermal Imaging (C.O.T.I.) unit that clips on the front of your night vision device and adds a thermal image to combine the best aspects of thermal imaging with the best aspects of normal image intensification night vision. Order soon!


Today we present three more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $219 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries received will likely run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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.

But first, an update from SurvivalBlog's cyber command post...

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on started the morning of Saturday, May 26, 2012 and continued until the evening. This was a "ping flood" attack, which can be envisioned as someone ringing your telephone number, several times per second. The attack coincided with a holiday weekend in the United States. The domain name as well as the unique IP addresses for each of our servers were separately targeted at various times. For several hours at a time, SurvivalBlog was almost impossible to reach because the ping count was so high. We have identified hostile IP addresses on at least 25 servers in several states--mostly in Texas and several other southern states, that used a Yahoo proxy. A second attack was made on Sunday evening, but this lasted only 30 minutes, until it was detected and mitigated by our ISP in Utah. (We have dedicated servers in both Sweden and in Utah.)

This was definitely a coordinated attack. Although it might have been instigated by just one individual, it probably required the cooperation of several other hackers. The identity of the key attacker (most likely a Birch Telecom customer in Austin/Round Rock, Texas) and his motivation has not yet been confirmed, but an investigation is ongoing, and intervention by both Birch Telecom and the authorities has been requested. I will post further details as they become available.

Note to fellow bloggers: Be advised that your web sites might come under a similar attack as ours, so be prepared!

Rest assured that we are taking several key steps that will increase our security and our site's resiliency. We'd appreciate the donation of some backup server space (especially offshore), for mirroring the blog. (Each with at least 1GB of storage available, and the capacity to handle 20 Mbps. (A standard FTP server.) Why mirrors? The more bandwidth that we can handle, the better we can combat DDoS attacks. Additionally, this server capacity will also be useful on the occasions when we get sudden spurts of traffic, such as when is mentioned by major media outlets.

A reminder: As a precaution for any future disruption, please both bookmark and write down the four following URLs and IP addresses for the blog.


SurvivalBlog is the best in it’s field because it draws upon the different skill sets and experiences of it’s readers. On that note, I would like to offer up my own experience for the benefit of other readers. I am a former Army Infantry Sergeant with combat service in Afghanistan and am currently a private security contractor. I was not a prepper before my service there. However, witnessing a post-collapse environment first hand made me confront some painful realities. I hope to God that my experiences will aid fellow preppers by giving them insight in to one type of collapse and it’s repercussions.

-You must have someone with some sort of medical experience in your retreat group. While dealing with Afghani civilians and prisoners or war, it was painfully obvious of their lack of all but the most primitive healthcare. In that country, there are countless deaths that could have been easily prevented by access to medical professionals and antibiotics. Wounds improperly sutured that become infected are a perfect example. If you have no antibiotics, what would you do?

-Medical supplies go very quickly when someone is wounded or sick. In our small medical clinic, items such as gauze, rubber gloves, painkillers, and antibiotics were always in short supply. Further, many with chronic medical conditions died for lack of supplies. When there is no bottled oxygen, insulin, or critical medications, people will die. I’m sorry, this is just what I saw.

-In a grid down situation, sanitation will quickly become a nightmare. In Afghanistan, trash quickly piles up with no one to pick it up. Soon, it becomes putrid, especially food and medical waste. Further, rats and feral dogs eat the trash and become ill which can bite humans. You must have a plan on how to effectively deal with waste or risk diseases and illness.

-Amongst the Afghanis, I have seen more than a few missing fingers, hands, and burns. This comes from improper handling of explosives and improper protective equipment while working. In a grid down situation, it goes without saying that the smallest injury could be fatal if an infection set in. You must wear personal protective equipment for everything you do that could harm you.

-When deployed, Soldiers commonly suffer from pink eye (conjunctivitis), cellulitis, Urinary Tract Infections other improper hygiene medical issues. Don’t overlook basic hygiene. If you only have three persons defending your retreat and one is on bed rest with an infection, your eight hour guard duty shifts just went to twelve hours. That may not seem substantial, but trust me, it is.

-Post collapse, expect a number of forgotten diseases to re-emerge. Amongst Afghani civilians, I have personally seen Tuberculosis and Polio. In a land with few antibiotics and hospitals, public health will fall apart. There are hospitals and clinics in Afghanistan, but most have to drive for hours across dangerous terrain to get to them. Further, fuel is scarce, so many needlessly die from preventable diseases.

-True security requires manpower. Positions must be effectively manned 24/7, 365 days a year. If they are not, any competent enemy will infiltrate your position. Split the day in to shifts, keep in mind that the longer the shift, the harder it is to stay alert. Leaders must inspect positions, as people will fall asleep on duty. This is why the shorter the guard shift the better, as men will remain more alert. When Soldiers man an Observation Post (OP), they generally pass off observation duties every hour because their eyes get tired from looking through optics. Remember, you have to be lucky all the time, the enemy has to be lucky once.

-The value of proper body armor cannot be overstated. I know men who would be dead now if it wasn’t for modern ceramic rifle plates. In a world where there is no ambulance to rush you the ER, do you want to risk a preventable mortal wound? At a minimum, buy a plate carrier to hold a front and back plate. On the topic of ballistic protection here is a useful fact for your general knowledge. Fired from 200 yards away, it takes one of the following to stop a 7.62x51mm (.308) ball round: 15 inches of pinewood boards, 10 inches of sand, or 3 inches of concrete. These are real figures that I have personally verified.

-Optics save lives. By “optics”, I mean rifle scopes, binoculars and spotting scopes. In Afghanistan, no one opens fire without first confirming “PID”, Positive Identification of the target by looking through a scope or binoculars. At distance or in low light, it is harder than you might think to distinguish friend from foe.

-In Afghanistan, the bad guys don’t always look like bad guys. As a matter of fact, they go to great lengths to avoid looking like bad guys. This is a key idea. When planning on attacking a position, the Taliban will attempt to infiltrate it with spies who pose as workers or they will even use children for this. Keep this in mind when a group of women and children approach your retreat.

-Night Vision Devices (NODs) are an absolute game-changer. Without them, the night is a scary place. The Taliban are terrified of our ability to operate at night. But understand the limitations of NODs. The Taliban knew that the best time to attack NATO was at dawn or dusk. NODs aren’t as useful then because of their light-gathering ability.

-If you have a firearm, you must have at least the basic spare parts for it. While at a test fire range, a soldier in my unit snapped his weapon’s firing pin due to the extreme cold. If we hadn’t had a spare, he weapon would have become a paperweight.

-In Afghanistan, the Taliban and less scrupulous Police will set up simple roadblocks to kidnap, rob, or murder. There is a reason why in the military, roads are known as an “LDA”, or Linear Danger Area. In a post collapse situation, how long would it take armed gangs to construct roadblocks along main roads? How would you circumvent these?

-In Afghanistan, corruption is rife amongst the Police and Army. Thus, is a post collapse environment, be very careful of who you trust. Just because some claims to be an authority figure, doesn’t mean that they are. The Taliban would sometimes steal Police and Army uniforms to infiltrate bases.

-Ask any combat veteran about his worst fears and encountering a competent sniper will be at the top of the list. However, this works both ways. Even a man with a scoped rifle in a designated marksman role can be a game-changer. A well- concealed sniper can defeat a much larger adversary, especially if they panic. In your retreat group, it is crucial to have at least one competent long range marksman with a suitable rifle.

-Ammo storage? As much as humanly possible. Rounds go fast. Also, store numerous quality magazines, cleaning supplies, and spare parts. In Afghanistan, I didn’t see anyone trading gold or silver, but weapons and ammunition were almost accepted currency in some places.

-Gas engine vehicles are quieter than diesels. Whenever we tried to sneak up on a village in our diesel vehicles, the enemy would be gone before we got there. When assaulting, a better idea to dismount your vehicles about a mile away and move in under concealment. The only exception to this is if you have a key weapon mounted on the vehicle.

-In Afghanistan, pickup trucks are used as improvised fighting vehicles, troop transports, and ambulances. Don’t underestimate the utility of a pickup truck. For an improvised fighting vehicle, the Taliban generally line the bed with sandbags and mount an automatic weapon on the top of the cab.

-Gasoline/diesel, along with food, will become the key resource. In post collapse Afghanistan, gasoline/diesel allowed mobility and kept the electricity on. Mobility was key because he who controlled the road, controlled movement of people and goods.

-In his book, CPT Rawles calls water the key resource. He’s right. If one of our patrols ran out of water and couldn’t re-supply, they were in deep trouble.

-Water is heavy, around 8 pounds per gallon. You must have a plan to transport it if need be. The average soldier carries around one gallon on patrol with more in his vehicle. When digging fighting positions or marching, 1gal/day is a very conservative estimate so plan accordingly.

-Just because you are careful with water, doesn’t mean others will be. I have seen women and children collecting water from a river that has dead animals in it upstream. It pays to do some reconnaissance on your potential water source.

-When storing bottle water, it’s better to leave in a cool, dark place if possible. If left exposed to sunlight for weeks on end, it can get moldy.

-As anyone who has been to a bazaar in Iraq or Afghanistan will tell you, there are generally no receipts or exchanges. If you don’t inspect your purchase, you made a grave mistake. It was not uncommon to encounter Afghanis with disabled vehicles. Why? They purchased watered down Gasoline/Diesel.

-As I mentioned earlier, I never saw anyone using gold or silver as a de facto currency. What was used? American Dollars, Euros, firearms and ammunition, gasoline/diesel, canned goods, hand tools, and skill sets. By skill sets, I mean it was not uncommon to see an Afghani mechanic trade a repair job on a vehicle for a goat or canned food. Remember, skill sets are more important than expensive gear.

-Post collapse, the first winter will be devastating. In Afghanistan, before the winter came, it was common to encounter civilians needing MREs and canned goods because their crops had failed. In a world without modern pesticides, irrigation, and mechanized farm equipment, would you bet you and your loved ones lives on your crops succeeding?

As a people, the Afghanis have suffered greatly over the past three decades. In my observation, the power of their faith plays a crucial role in their survival. Regardless, of your faith or beliefs, it is important to thank God for every day. Also, don’t hesitate to take a moment to ask for his wisdom and strength to make it through a tough time.

In closing, I would like to thank CPT Rawles and all of the contributors to SurvivalBlog. I apologize if my view is grim, but it’s what I saw with my own eyes in a nation that had underwent a form of internal collapse. My distilled message is this, you need a tribe to survive. In Afghanistan, villages band together and survive. You need the varying skill sets, ideas, and manpower of a group to make it through a collapse. Thank you for your time and consideration and God bless all of you and the United States of America.

Some of the most common things that we stock up on for short term emergencies are batteries. Many of our important tools need electrical power to work. Flashlights, radios, many power tools, and night vision gear-- essentially anything that uses DC electricity--would need batteries. For Bug Out Bags and short-term situations batteries are almost always included and could save your life.   Virtually any situation lasting less than a few years would be fine with batteries.  You can have a hand or pedal generator, solar or wind, et cetera, to charge your batteries.   But what happens in a TEOTWAWKI situation?  Where will you store your power when your batteries fail? What will you do when the lights go out? This is something to be prepared for just like any other situation.  I have not found an efficient alternative for small batteries but larger energy storage problems can be solved.

The Life of a Battery
Many people don’t really think about how long a battery will last [on the shelf versus its life in regular use].  Different batteries have different life spans and different uses.  I will attempt to define the life of these batteries.  I am no expert on the subject but a little internet mining will give you the same info.                                                                                                                                                                

The most common type of small batteries are Alkaline batteries.  These are not normally rechargeable and will be useless for their intended purpose after their initial use.  There are some special Rechargeable Alkaline Manganese (RAM) batteries that are specifically designed to be recharged. Or you can get a special charger that will recharge normal Alkalines [with varying degrees of success]. If stored properly, most Alkalines will retain a useful charge for around five years. These should be used last because they have longer shelf life than most modern rechargeable batteries. For most Survivalists, the modern rechargeable battery designs are a much better option.  Of these, the lithium ion batteries seem to be the best, due to the number of recharge cycles they can handle. However, the shelf life of common Lithium Ion batteries may actually be shorter than that of Alkalines. Usually around 2 to 3 years no matter what you do with them. This makes it difficult to store them for future emergencies.                                                                                    

Lead acid batteries such as car batteries will be common in end times because the cars will [be out of fuel and hence] no longer have a need for them.  However, car batteries are not really good for alternative power system storage. This is because they are made for short bursts of high amps to start your car.  When used regularly [for their intended use] a car battery will last around five years.  When not kept recharged, a car battery can fail in less than six months.  If stored and treated properly, car batteries will last up to eight years, but eventually you will not have the use of them.   [JWR Adds: Deep cycle marine (or "golf cart") batteries are better suited to frequent use, but they have the same maximum life issue as carr batteries, because their plates become sulfated.]                                                         

The only long term solution I have seen is batteries that come with the electrolyte separate.  You could purchase a large stockpile of these and store them in this state indefinitely.  This however could get really expensive.  I have done no research on the subject but it should be possible to drain the electrolyte from car batteries and store it separately to preserve them.   [JWR Adds: Unfortunately, draining a battery will not stop their plates from sulfating.]                                                                      

Capacitors are another form of energy storage similar to batteries. Unfortunately we have not yet created capacitors that can replace the batteries we currently rely on. With the advent of super capacitors we may find a solution to the current problems with batteries.  For now however, the cost and complexity is a problem.

Life Without Batteries           
The first and most obvious solution to short battery life is to rely on them as little as possible. There are a host of [traditional hand-powered or treadle-powered] non-electrical alternatives to common electric power tools. The real problem is that we don’t want to go without electricity.  We like the on demand aspect of our current lifestyle. It will be very hard to crawl out of the muck if we can’t use our tools. Some of this we can solve and some we can’t.  On-demand microwave ovens and lights at the flick of a switch will become a thing of the past. The following are some of the solutions that I have come up with for not having electrical battery power storage.                                                                                   

Build Your Own Battery                 
There are ways to store power that don’t include complex chemical reactions.  The best one I have come up with is water.  Water can in effect be a "battery", after all a battery is really just a means to store energy.  Photovoltaic or mechanical wind pumps can pump water to hilltop reservoir or tower storage tanks.   Water from the tanks can then be used to power small hydroelectric generators.  The expended water can be collected in tanks or ponds at the base of the system for gardening or other uses.  Ponds also have the advantage of being great food producers and for watering livestock.  Proper voltages can be achieved through water flow adjustments.  I have not done this myself but the idea has merit. [JWR Adds: The scale of a system as described that could produce anything more than just short bursts of power would be enormous. It is much more practical to set up a microhydro generator situated on a year-round stream that has the requisite head (or "fall".)]

Another way to store energy is mechanically. This may be the best system for people who don’t have a hill handy for the previous water storage method. The best mechanical energy storage device I can think of is a large centrifugal system.  In this system solar or wind energy could be used to drive a large weighted flywheel. The flywheel could then be used to power a generator using Constant Velocity Transmission (CVT) or electronics to regulate voltage. Well-lubricated high quality bearings would be required to handle the continuous high speeds and the great weight of the wheel. The wheel would also have to be perfectly balanced and as large as possible. Rotational speed is the key with this system. The faster you can get the wheel to spin the more power it will produce.  Speed is more important than weight, when you double the speed you square the energy storage potential. With proper design, planning and some spare parts this system could last a long time.  I plan on building one of these in the near future. Here is an excellent web page that covers the basics of this idea.    [JWR Adds: Keep in mind that the energy stored in a large, heavy flywheel spinning at high speed can also be incredibly destructive. If a flywheel were to become unbalanced and loose itself from its moorings, it could rip through a dozen houses before coming to a stop.]            

There are other ways to store energy out there.  These are just the ones that seem the most practical to me.  With some experimentation I believe that you could make either of these systems work for a long term solution.

There are great solid state electronic devices that use heat to generate electricity.  Small ones are called thermoelectric generators (TEGs). TEG fans are commonly used to move heat around your house if you have a wood stove.  A larger TEG could be used on your stove to power lighting in your house. Another great thing about TEGs is that when an electric charge is run through them one side of the thermo couple will get hot and the other will get cold.  This is commonly used on 12 volt DC coolers for your car, giving you another form of refrigeration. [JWR Adds:  See the SurvivalBlog archives for numerous articles on thermoelectric generators and their drawbacks.]   

Build a Still           
Alcohol is a wonderful thing.  You can drink it, clean with it, burn it in lamps, make weapons and run an engine with it, among other things.  All of these uses are valid in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  As a sterilizing fluid for medical situations, it could save your life.  Alcohol can displace electricity with lamps or as a cooking fuel.  Alcohol lamps can be as simple as a jar with a rolled cotton wick. Lamps could also burn animal, plant or nut oils.  There is some great info on alcohol stoves made from used soda and food cans.  These stoves are incredibly simple and almost never fail. Another possible use is a refrigeration system that uses alcohol. Albert Einstein jointly designed and built one in 1926.                                                                                            

I have a great book by Jerry Wilkerson, called Make Your Own Fuel.  The book shows how to make alcohol and also explains how to convert your car to run on it.  There are some other books out here on the same subject. Plans and information for building a still can be found on this web site.                                                                                         

Drinking alcohol can raise your spirits, but it can also blind you, make you mentally disabled, or kill you, if you make it incorrectly. [Wood alcohol versus grain alcohol.] Many people will find it just as useful but won’t have any.  This will give you a great bartering item.  [JWR Adds: Despite the moral implications, for some folks, selling homemade alcohol might be viable in a societal collapse without the current rule of law. But be advised that doing so in the present day would be a felony in most jurisdictions.]

The Wonders of Wood Gas           
I am sure by this time most of you have heard of wood gas generators. Heat is used to release hydrogen and carbon monoxide gasses in an oxygen poor environment.  The gasses released can be used to fuel almost any internal combustion engine.  The system doesn’t work as well for diesels but for standard gas engines it’s great. These generators have some wonderful advantages and may be the best solution that I will present. 

The first and most important thing about wood gas is that, as the name implies it runs on wood. All you have to do is dry it sufficiently and cut it to size.  Secondly it is a proven technology.  During WWII many civilian cars throughout Europe were converted to run on wood gas. There are designs put out by FEMA in the late 1980s detailing how to build a wood gasifier. This proves that FEMA has done at least one useful thing. [JWR Adds: As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, the FEMA plans are not detailed, so they are not particularly useful. See the SurvivalBlog archives for some better wood gas references.]   It is relatively simple and cheap to build and adapt to existing gas systems.  Almost everything you need to build one can be obtained for free. The Internet has huge amounts of information, videos and discussion on the subject.  

Transportation is a cornerstone of our current society. If we run out of fuel or if it gets too expensive then we are sunk. Without the ability to transport goods quickly we will never be able to re-establish a large scale working economy.  Wood gas can solve this problem, at least in the short term.                                                            

Small AC backup generators are everywhere, especially in rural areas.  When running they automatically regulate power output to suit demand.  You can simply run the wood gas to the air intake and you are set.  Electric generators used this way should be able to started with a pull cord [recoil starter] so that no external power for a [DC] starter [motor] is needed.  Buy the best small generator you can. Owning two or more would be beneficial and as many spare parts as possible.   

A good wood gas system could be built for a truck.  The unit could be removed or conveniently parked so as to provide power for electric generators. This could serve until more systems could be built.

Build a Root Cellar or Other Underground Storage
The ambient ground temperature 5 feet down in most areas is around 52 degrees, depending on your latitude.  This is a great temperature for making things such as seeds, food and those batteries last a lot longer.  Underground storage can also be used as a shelter in hard times or to protect your supplies.  Very heavy doors and thick concrete walls will hold out most forms of intrusion. Everyone who is preparing a retreat should have some underground storage.  If you are planning on building, consider building your home underground.  I have been studying this approach for years and the best construction form I have found is a Monolithic dome.  Building in this style is less expensive than standard underground construction.  Monolithic domes are also incredibly efficient and nearly invincible, even if left above ground. This is due to the shape, construction materials and techniques used to build them. [JWR Adds: These are built using re-bar and sprayed concrete that is up to 18 inches thick.]  Most people don’t like round houses but in this case "form follows function." The Monolithic Eco shell is of particular interest because the "air form" [inflatable form] used to make the structure can be reused.  If you have already built or bought a house--as most of us have--then think about ways to save energy in your current home.

Other Ideas                       
There are a host of other low tech. but highly functional alternatives to common electric devices.  As mentioned above alcohol refrigerators could solve a major problem.  You can also build a refrigerator by placing a container inside another container, filling the space around with wet sand and putting a cloth over the top.  The water evaporates and draws heat away from whatever you store inside. This is called a pot in pot refrigerator.                                                                                                                             
Don’t forget horses and other forms of animal labor.  I am not a big fan of horses but if the end comes then I am going to wish that I had some. Goats, donkeys and llamas can be great pack and labor animals.  If predatory animals are a problem, donkeys and llamas when pastured with sheep and goats can help protect your herds and flocks.                                                                                                                                               

Gas engine tractors can run on wood gas or if they have diesel engines you can convert them to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO).  Many restaurants pay for someone to take their WVO away for them.  If you offer to take it for free or pay a small amount for it, a large stock of fuel could be built up fairly inexpensively.  Cars and trucks with diesel engines will run on WVO as well.                                                                                                             

If you have a good location, build a pond.  As I mentioned, ponds can be used for water storage irrigation, food production, [a firefighting reservoir,] and livestock water, among other things. Having a pond or some form of water storage positioned at a high point on a property can negate the need for some electrical or mechanical pumping.                                   

I have obviously not covered all the possible ways to save, generate, store or displace the need for DC batteries.  Some of the ideas I've described are strange, but all should be possible.  As with any preparedness scenario you should create redundant backup systems.  You should also have as many duplicate and spare parts on hand as possible.  Always save as much energy as possible , as the less you use, then the less you need to create. Anything you don’t do may come back to bite you some day. Good luck and remember you can never be too prepared. 

If you are like me, you want to start preparing for TEOTWAWKI, but you have no clue where or how to begin. Even the shortest list, and list of lists, is a daunting undertaking and the expenses can stack up quickly. We thought we'd be up a creek since we had no real extra money to set aside for this project. Alas, it doesn't have to be that way! There are many things you probably have around the house that will help save or sustain life. You just have to learn to look at your possessions in a different way.

I'd be willing to bet there's tons of stuff in your house and garage that you haven't used in two years or more, and it continues to sit there. It gathers dust, gets lost and forgotten, or requires maintenance. Somehow, it manages to grow and multiply with very little effort on your part. Since I used to be a yard sale and thrift store junkie, it may have been a bit more than very little effort on my part... Apparently, I've been preparing for years and didn't know it!

I picked up a food dehydrator at a yard sale for $3, a Food Saver sealing system for $5 from a thrift store, and sheets and blankets by the bag full at $1 each. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but I certainly do now! Obviously, I'll use the dehydrator and food saver for preserving foods, but what would I do with all those sheets and blankets that we didn't need? They're becoming camouflage. They also work well as insulation for a shipping container. They'll work on the floor of a dirt bunker, to prevent too much dust in the air as you move around. How much stuff is in your home wasting space that may also double for survival when you bug-in?
To prepare for when IT hits the fan, you must first consider reducing the amount of your possessions. This serves several purposes: first, you begin to condition yourself to living with less. The simple shock of having to turn away from your current lifestyle can be traumatic, especially for children, and they'll be learning how to cope from their parents. Gradually easing into survival mode will make the process easier for everyone involved.
Second, the income from possession liquidation helps fund survivalist equipment and supplies. Since the economy is in poor shape, second-hand items are sought after instead of purchasing new. Facebook and Craigslist are good places to list your unwanted items. There are also smart phone apps available for virtual and real yard sales. If you're really serious about liquidation, contact an auction company and conduct a “living estate sale”. They are gaining in popularity since many families are downsizing just to reduce their overhead.

Third, you'll spend less time maintaining your possessions if you have fewer of them. How long does it take to find something you know you have somewhere, or dust those collectibles? How much furniture do you have that serves no purpose other than appearances? How would you reallocate your time if you didn't have to maintain a lot of things that won't help you when it hits the fan?

Go through each room of your home, paying close attention to items you'll use in survival mode. Unwanted clothing in the right colors can be cut into strips and be used to make camouflage netting, and other parts can be used for rope and insulation. Artificial houseplants can be reused in camouflage during the spring and summer. Pillows can be reused to block air flow, insulate heated water, and protect you from sharp objects in cramped quarters. Fancy lace tablecloths can be sold and replaced with sturdy cotton sheets and blankets, being sure to choose earth tones that can also be used for camouflage if the need arises.

Radio-controlled toys can be retrofitted and reused to distract trespassers. [JWR Adds: For example, their servos can be re-purposed to set off small pyrotechnic charges. Pull-string "confetti poppers" can be very carefully disassembled to provide the friction-ignited charges.] There are tons of possibilities for these items, from recon to defensive operations. I personally love this option, and look forward to finding them at ridiculously low prices.

Those big metal drums with metal lids can be made into Faraday cages by lining the inside with Styrofoam. Instructions for these can also be found online. Small metal boxes and containers can be used for the same purpose, and metal trash cans work as well.

As repulsive as it may seem, almost anything made of natural fabric can be cut into small squares and used as toilet paper and feminine napkins. Wash and bleach after each use and they're ready to reuse when dry. What's more repulsive is the thought of going without these two very basic, and often overlooked, necessities. Most folks are of the opinion that any nearby leaf will do, or that there will be plenty of cloth laying around when IT hits the fan. There will be an increased chance of infection if the material used isn't clean and sickness will be one of our biggest enemies.

Tampons can be used to plug bullet wounds; they expand when wet. This is only temporary, and they should be replaced with a proper dressing as quickly as possible. Feminine pads can be used in trauma dressings. Any clean cotton fabrics can be reused as trauma dressings and bandages; be careful to use only natural fabrics for contact with skin and blood. A sterile layer of gauze should always be the first layer over a wound.
Unwanted paper items, such as junk mail, old bills, newspapers and magazines, can be shredded and used in making heat blocks for burning during cold weather or for cooking. Most of the heat blocks burn for twenty to thirty minutes, which is plenty of time to prepare a meal and provide heat in colder climates. Instructions for making heat blocks can be found online.

Empty water and soda bottles can be reused for dry food storage. Just drop in an oxygen absorber, and they're good to go. Empty gallon jugs can be reused as water storage. They are portable and easy to keep rotated. Unused water heaters can be reused as water storage as long as you plan to filter the water before drinking it.

Reuse a car or boat battery and jumper cables to start a fire by connecting the ends to a wad of 0000 steel wool. The steel wool will heat up and ignite tinder, such as straw or paper shreds.

Reuse a lamp by setting a cake or pie pan over the shade and turning on the lamp. The heat from the bulb will cook some foods such as canned goods and will also heat water enough to rehydrate dried foods.

If you have a rotating food storage system, my favorite is Thrive by Shelf Reliance, begin using it now if you haven't already. Incorporate it into your daily cooking habits and meal planning. Thrive is easy and economical to get started with, because you just reallocate a portion of your grocery budget to include it. When it hits the fan, the transition will be easier if you're already used to using it. Also, using and rotating your water storage on a regular basis will keep it fresh.

Thermoses and other insulated containers will be great to rehydrate foods. You can boil water in the morning and set aside enough warm water to begin to soften the day's entire food ration. Quality containers will keep foods hot for hours. Some dehydrated foods, such as Thrive, will reconstitute even with cold water, but usually take longer.

I'm torn over my books. I'm an avid reader and I love to read the same ones over and over. I know I can sell my books and make a lot of money, but I can also burn them (I hope so anyway!) and keep my family warm and fed for a while.

After taking an inventory of what you already have that can be used in survival mode, take a second inventory of what you can live without. If the process seems a bit unnecessary, imagine looters going through your possessions and scattering them about carelessly. They'll be looking for anything of value, anything that might sustain life, and anything that can be used for defensive or offensive actions. If you can beat them to it, then you're ahead of the game. You've not only been able to use your own possessions for yourself and your family, you've also thwarted potential attackers from using them against you.
You probably won't be entertaining in survival mode, so maybe you don't need that huge set of dishes, or the deluxe set of cookware. Think about which items are worth a lot of money that can be sold now and replaced with similar items that work just as well, but cost less. The money you have left over can be converted to precious metals or survivalist equipment and supplies. Think about trimming down the movie collection, as well as any other collections that take up space and require maintenance. That beautiful antique bedroom set might be better sold now than burned or looted later.

Anything you haven't worn in the last year, and anything you haven't used in the last six months should be on the chopping block. All (or most of) those things you've been saving “just in case” should eventually disappear unless they can be used for survival. Keep in mind, you aren't just looking at things you can reuse. You're also looking to reduce the amount of possessions you have in order to better prepare yourself and your family for a transition into survival mode. Even if you have to go through this process several times, cutting out more and more each time, you will still make great progress in preparing your family for a bug-in or bug-out.
Make sure the kitchen and bathrooms stay clean at all times. The last thing you want is to be trying to prepare an emergency meal when the kitchen is a mess and you're down to just emergency water. If you're bugging-in, ensure you have alternate toilet arrangements. Even though you can still flush the toilet by manually adding water to the bowl, you'll be wasting water unnecessarily. A camp potty or a bucket with a lid and bio bags work great and you can take them camping for practice.

Keep your freshwater aquariums or consider getting them if you don't have them already. The bigger, the better. They make terrific water sources and in most cases, the water is drinkable as it sits. The filtration systems balance bacteria so if the fish are alive and healthy, you can depend on the water being safe. If you're in doubt, filter, treat or boil it before using it for human consumption. Once the water level is too low for the filter to run, or if there's no electricity to power it, don't drink it without filtering or boiling it. Don't be tempted to keep aquariums without fish (smaller fish is better). The waste from the fish is what keeps the bacteria in the gravel under control, and vice versa. They depend on each other for balance. Once the power has been out for a few hours, remove the fish and filter the water as it's used.

I've been going through my home one room at a time, including closets. I'm getting rid of things we don't use and don't particularly have attachment to and moving the things we'll need to our bug-in location. I can still get to those items if I need them, and if we do bug-in, they'll already be where they're needed. By selling the non-essentials, I'm able to purchase the things we'll need for survival. My eight year old daughter is excited about the process and enjoys helping me make a camouflage cover from an old fishing net and, you guessed it, earth-toned sheets!

I have a question about the American Redoubt in light of the pending and probable total failure of the Fukushima reactors spent fuel rod pool. When this thing goes, the release will be massive and long term. [I have read that the] radiation release will cover most of the US and Canada and that most of Canada and the northern two thirds of America may be unlivable. How advisable would be moving to the American Redoubt?

I'm not one for conspiracy theories. I don't buy the one about HAARP causing the earthquake and tsunami. However, the sheer lack of any effort to contain this pending disaster like building a coffin around it like Chernobyl to be disturbing. We've invaded many counties that pose less danger to the US, if not the world.

What are you thought on safety should this thing collapse? - Sasquatch

JWR Replies: All of the recent Internet rantings that I've seen about Fukushima's impact on the in the U.S. and Canada are not being written by folks with any background in nuclear physics or NBC defense.

This piece that I wrote pretty well sums up my position: Useful Tidbits on Radiation and Journalists--The Season of Isotopes and Misanthropes

And this piece, posted four days later by the well-informed editor of Modern Survival Blog, echoed what I wrote, with some greater detail: Radiation, Japan, and the Inverse-Square Law (Also be sure to see the follow-up comments.) The rates at which radionuclides (radioactive atmospheric dust) drop out of rain clouds with precipitation are similar. In essence, the radiation risk drops off to negligible levels around 800 miles downwind, unless weather conditions are very unusual.

Mr. Rawles,
I have just finished reading your book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It and found it very helpful and enlightening. There is one thing I was wondering and can't seem to find an answer anywhere.
Owning horses in an extended grid-down situation presents the question of worming. After most worming meds has been used or expired how would you treat your horse for worms? I've read about using different herbs but wonder about their safety and dosages.
Thank you, - Michael N. in Arizona

JWR Replies: As with most medications for humans, the expiration dates marked on veterinary medications are very conservative. Stock up when you find de-worming paste on sale. Perhaps a reader could chime in with some herbal or 19th Century do-it-yourself alternatives.

The Complete List of Every Prepper Book Ever Recommended. (Thanks to R.D. for the link.)

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The town of Coos Bay, Oregon is wisely planning a Tsunami Evacuation Drill on May 31 at 2:00 p.m.

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Over at Buddy's Board, I found a link to this brief how-to video: Tannerite 101

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James C. suggested this lengthy YouTube video: The 1940's House

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C.D.V. recommended this site: Pam's Pride Recommendations. These are my recommendations for free Kindle e-book downloads for homesteaders and do-it-yourselfers.

"The essence of 'going Galt' in any context is to challenge its ultimate implications by putting them into practice. That is: think through the implications of The System, from its fundamental premises and hypotheses all the way to their furthest stops, and then conduct yourself exactly according to their demands. Consider: Economically, in a System that excoriates creators, producers, and capitalists, it means going almost completely limp: making just enough money to sustain your life, but creating nothing from which others can derive a profit or make further advances. Many men have already chosen this course." - Francis Porretto, in response to an essay by Dr. Helen Smith.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012 is Memorial Day in the United States, the day set aside to honor our war dead. We are deeply indebted to them, and recognize their sacrifice. To the families of those who have fallen in combat, you are in our prayers. Personally, I have also been spending some time in prayer in remembrance of the sacrifices of our allied soldiers.


This past weekend, our server in Sweden was put under a "ping flood" Denial of Service (DOS) attack that at times resulted in 65% packet loss.

The attack was timed for a three-day holiday weekend, no doubt because the miscreants expected that the staff at our ISP would be unavailable to help us reconfigure.

OBTW, the attack initially did not include our dotted quad backup address: (Which is explained here.)

At least this provided a good test for our Continuity of Web Services (COWS) defenses. Obviously, we are now going to need multiple mirror sites as well as an adaptive cloud server that can handle any future DOS onslaught.


Today we present an article by our Medical Editor, Dr. Cynthia Koelker as well as another gear test and evaluation review by our Field Gear Editor, Pat Cascio.

A reader of SurvivalBlog wrote to ask whether dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is safe and effective for use in humans. The chemical is well-known in veterinary circles for its soothing effect on swollen, inflamed equine (horse) muscles.  But would it have the same effect on people? 

Unrelieved pain is a great fear among survivalists and preppers.  Few have access to narcotics or anesthetics.  Wouldn’t be great if there were a readily available, safe and effective over-the-counter remedy?  That is the primary question with DMSO.

What is DMSO anyway?  The chemical dimethyl sulfoxide is a potent solvent, produced as a by-product of the wood pulp industry.  It is best known medically for its ability to penetrate the skin, and has been useful as a carrier to aid the absorption of other beneficial medications.  Therein lies one of the concerns:  if the skin is contaminated or the DMSO formulation is impure, unwanted chemicals may enter the body.  Therefore if you are going to use DMSO as a topical preparation, make sure you use medical grade rather than industrial grade DMSO.

Whether DMSO works as a topical pain reliever is controversial.  The “party line” of the medical establishment is that it is probably NOT effective.  One study (in the journal Pain. 2009; 143(3):238-45) concluded that topical DMSO was no more effective than placebo in relieving symptoms of chronic knee osteoarthritis.  However, such a study does not answer the question completely. Did the DMSO penetrate inside the joint capsule, to the actual source of pain?  A study on the knee cannot answer the question as to whether DMSO is effective for muscular pain, or perhaps acute joint pain caused by strain or overuse.  In 2008 a systematic review of DMSO use in osteoarthritis (Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008; 16(11):1277-88) concluded there is insufficient evidence either way to decide whether it is beneficial.

This raises another point:  pain is not simply one thing.  Joint pain and muscle pain are not the same.  Acute pain is different than chronic pain.  Traumatic bone pain is different from cancer pain.  Neuropathic pain is not the same as primary muscle pain.  Bladder pain is different than headache pain. 
DMSO has been used effectively for certain types of pain.  Currently it is only officially FDA-approved for discomfort or pain associated with interstitial cystitis, a chronic condition of the bladder causing pelvic pain and/or urinary symptoms.  A small amount of DMSO is instilled into the bladder via a catheter, where it is left in place for 10-15 minutes, then emptied.  This process is repeated every week or two for a few months, and most patients experience some relief of pain.  DMSO is thought to work by reducing inflammation and possibly decreasing bladder muscle contractions. 

If DMSO can work in the bladder, might it not be effective elsewhere?  One of the worst pain syndromes is cancer-related pain.  DMSO (plus sodium bicarbonate) has been used as IV therapy for patients with refractory metastatic cancer pain unresponsive to other treatments with encouraging results [J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2011; 25(1 and 4)]. 

So where does this leave us?  Doctors don’t really know.  I’ve had patients who have sworn DMSO is effective.  These have been younger patients with acute injuries or inflammation; such patients are prone to conditions akin to the acute injuries active horses might suffer.  Treating a young injured race horse is likely to yield better results than treating a worn-out work horse. 
Physicians prefer to have strong proof for what we advise, though that is often lacking.  Regarding DMSO, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center concludes, “Most of the clinical studies done on DMSO were published in the 1980s and early 1990s. Reliable data to verify its purported uses are limited.”

Regarding safety, the concerns are acute and long-term side-effects.  Any use of DMSO is likely to yield either bad breath or a garlic-like taste in the mouth or similar odor on the skin.  Rashes and dry skin are common with topical use.  Allergic reactions are possible as well.  Those using the product long-term may suffer kidney or liver damage and ideally would undergo blood testing every 6 months (a difficult proposition at TEOTWAWKI). 
The MSDS sheet lists a multitude of concerns (but no more than other drugs we use every day, including aspirin).  

My own conclusions are these:
1.       DMSO probably does work for certain conditions which have not been well-identified, but may be related to acute injury or overwork rather than chronic inflammation.
2.       It is reasonably safe to use medical-grade DMSO topically on an intermittent basis. 
3.       Patients who already have liver or kidney damage or who are pregnant or nursing should not use DMSO.
4.       We need more studies to prove which ailments DMSO is best used for.  Unfortunately, those studies are unlikely to be performed due to lack of funding.
5.       Using industrial-grade DMSO can be dangerous and result in unwanted poisoning with unidentified products.
6.       DMSO is probably no more effective than OTC NSAIDs (aspirin or willow bark, ibuprofen, naproxen) but may provide an alternative, especially for patients intolerant of these meds.  
7.       All users should be warned about the garlic-onion-oyster odor [or taste] they will experience.
8.       Doctors don’t know everything, but we err on the side of caution.

JWR Adds: Readers are further warned to store DMSO only in containers with tight-fitting lids that are vapor tight, and to store their supply of 99.9% pure medical (or veterinary) grade DMSO well away from any toxic substances. The solvent's amazing carrier properties are well-documented. Keep in mind that if you apply it to a sore muscle using your hands then any contaminants on your hands will be absorbed through the skin and enter your bloodstream. The speed with which this can occur can be astonishing. I once read about a man who washed his hands with a scented soap shortly before using DMSO. Then, less than a minute after applying the DMSO with his hands to his sore knees, he could taste the hand soap on his tongue, almost as if he had licked the bar of soap! Some drug addicts have reportedly used DMSO as a "soft" way to ingest drugs that require only small doses, such as PCP and Fentanyl. And though perhaps exaggerated in the frequency of occurrence in popular fiction, DMSO mixed with a powerful toxin such as saxitoxin has reportedly been used by foreign intelligence agencies for killing some political opponents of unpopular regimes.

Pat's Product Review: Benchmade Adamas Folder

I still remember the very first Benchmade Knives folding knife I ever owned. I don't remember which model it was, but I still remember at how "shocked" I was at the super high-quality of the knife. Without a doubt, it was every bit as well-made, if not, better made than custom folding knives I had seen. It continues to this day, Benchmade Knives are of the highest quality you'll find. This comes as no accident, as I've toured the Benchmade factory a couple times, and I've seen what is involved in making their knives. To be sure, Benchmade even has a machine to make their own screws, believe it or not.
I had a sit-down with Les d'Asis, the owner of Benchmade some years ago - this was a great meeting. First thing you'll notice about Less is that, he's not a suit and tie type of guy - I really like that. Les takes knife making seriously, and it shows in his products, too. Last I heard, Benchmade was running two, full-time shifts, trying to keep up with supply and demand. And, they would run a third shift, if they already aren't, if they could find enough QUALIFIED people to perform the tasks involved in knife making. Benchmade Knives are always in demand, and its not unusual for them to be out-of-stock, at any given time, on many of their models. Several of Benchmade's knives are sold to the Department if Defense - they met the high standards required of the DOD, to be issued to our military personnel.
The knife under review today is the Adamas Model 275 folder and this is, without a doubt, the stoutest and strongest folding knife that Benchmade has come out with - bar none! Adamas is Latin for "diamond hard" or "invincible" - so the name aptly fits this new folder. If you are fortunate enough to live in a "free" state, the Adamas folder can also be had in an automatic version Model 2750.
I had to wait more than a month to get my sample - my contact, Alicia Hunt, who handles these things at Benchmade, is a great person to work with. If samples are available, she gets 'em right out to us.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box the Adamas came in is, how stout this folder is - I like a lot of handle to hold onto on a knife, especially one that might be used for self-defense or survival use. The handle scales are desert tan, made out of lightly textured G10 handle scales, with stainless steel liners. There are lightening holes drilled in the handles, too, as well as a lanyard hole in the butt of the handle. Friction grooves are places in just the right spots on the top of the handle, as well as the butt - really nice, really nice! A sheath is included with this folder, and it is compatible with all military gear. I liked the handle shape, too - it fit my hand perfectly!
The blade is made out of super-tough D2, tool steel. This stuff is hard, real hard - it takes an edge and it holds it a long, long time. The only problem I've ever encountered with knives made out of D2 is that if the edge is properly applied to start with, they are hard to re-sharpen. Needless to say, Benchmade put a great grind on the edge of the Adamas. Rockwell hardness on the Adamas is 60-62, so you know the edge will last a good long time. The blade style is a drop-point, and is TiNi coated black, for a non-reflective finish. There is a dual thumb stud for quick opening, and I found I could also just flick the blade open, too. The Axis locking mechanism keeps the blade firmed locked open. Best thing about the Axis lock is that, over time, as the blade wears a little bit at the locking point, the Axis lock automatically adjust for this, and the blade stays firmly locked just as it was from the first day you opened the knife.
The pocket/clothing clip allows for deep-carry in the pocket, in the tip-up position, and it is reversible for right or left pocket carry, too. Overall length of the blade is 3.82" and it's about perfect if you ask me. I like a folder with a blade between 3.5" and 4.0" in length, and this one fits the ticket just fine in my book. Overall length of the Adamas in the open position is 8.70" and weight is 7.68 oz - a tad on the heavy side for some folks, but when you see how stout this hummer is, you'll appreciate the weight. Blade thickness is 0.160 and the handle thickness is 0.73" - like I said - stout!
The Adamas was designed by Shane Sibert, who resides right here in my home state of Oregon, and this knife was designed to honor the courage and commitment exhibited by our fighting heroes. A portion of the sale of each Adamas will be donated to the Ranger Assistance Foundation, too. Sibert has been a custom knife maker since 1994, so he's been around quite a while. 
I showed the Adamas to quite a few folks, and needless to say, the first thing they commented on was how stout the folder was - most really liked it, only one said it was too thick and heavy - we all have opinions on guns and knives! I really like the Axis locking mechanism not only for the way it locks a blade open, but for the already mentioned self-adjusting feature. I also like that the Axis lock can be releases from either side of the knife's handle, too - makes it nice for southpaws, as well as us righties!
The Adamas can also be had with a partially serrated blade, as well as in a fixed blade version, which has a slightly longer blade, and skeletonized handle - that you can wrap with 550 paracord if you desire.
I've often said that if you want to see if a gun or knife will break, give it to a US Marine - they will give products a test and evaluation like you wouldn't believe. I honestly believe that the Benchmade "Adamas" is US Marine-proof! If you manage to break this baby, you were probably trying to use the knife as a lever to lift a Hummer. As with all Benchmade knives, the Adamas comes with a lifetime warranty against materials and defects. Benchmade also has a lifesharp service policy - if you send a knife back to them, they will re-sharpen it for free - they only request a $5.00 fee to offset return shipping, and these days, that's a bargain in my book.
I've been writing about Benchmade Knives, for probably close to 20-years now, and I've never had one pass through my hands that I didn't like, or one that had any sort of defects. To be sure, I've had several prototypes that I did articles on, and not one of those babies had any problems, either...and if there is a problem, it usually shows-up in a prototype.
Quality never comes cheap, and the full retail price for the Adamas Model 275 is $195. Believe me, this knife is worth every penny - and then some. I wouldn't hesitate spending more for this folder, if they were asking more for it. What didn't I like about the Adamas? Nothing! This folder falls under "perfection" in my book for a self-defense or survival knife - it's that good - honestly!
I could rant and rave all day long about the Adamas, but nothing is a substitute for getting one in your hands. Once you do get your hands on an Adamas 275 folder, you won't want to put it down. So check the balance in your checking account before you pick-up this knife. You're gonna want to buy it, on the spot.

I still remember the very first Benchmade Knives folding knife I ever owned. I don't remember which model it was, but I still remember at how "shocked" I was at the super high-quality of the knife. Without a doubt, it was every bit as well-made, if not, better made than custom folding knives I had seen. It continues to this day, Benchmade Knives are of the highest quality you'll find. This comes as no accident, as I've toured the Benchmade factory a couple times, and I've seen what is involved in making their knives. To be sure, Benchmade even has a machine to make their own screws, believe it or not.
I had a sit-down with Les d'Asis, the owner of Benchmade some years ago - this was a great meeting. First thing you'll notice about Less is that, he's not a suit and tie type of guy - I really like that. Les takes knife making seriously, and it shows in his products, too. Last I heard, Benchmade was running two, full-time shifts, trying to keep up with supply and demand. And, they would run a third shift, if they already aren't, if they could find enough QUALIFIED people to perform the tasks involved in knife making. Benchmade Knives are always in demand, and its not unusual for them to be out-of-stock, at any given time, on many of their models. Several of Benchmade's knives are sold to the Department if Defense - they met the high standards required of the DOD, to be issued to our military personnel.
The knife under review today is the Adamas Model 275 folder and this is, without a doubt, the stoutest and strongest folding knife that Benchmade has come out with - bar none! Adamas is Latin for "diamond hard" or "invincible" - so the name aptly fits this new folder. If you are fortunate enough to live in a "free" state, the Adamas folder can also be had in an automatic version Model 2750.
I had to wait more than a month to get my sample - my contact, Alicia Hunt, who handles these things at Benchmade, is a great person to work with. If samples are available, she gets 'em right out to us.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box the Adamas came in is, how stout this folder is - I like a lot of handle to hold onto on a knife, especially one that might be used for self-defense or survival use. The handle scales are desert tan, made out of lightly textured G10 handle scales, with stainless steel liners. There are lightening holes drilled in the handles, too, as well as a lanyard hole in the butt of the handle. Friction grooves are places in just the right spots on the top of the handle, as well as the butt - really nice, really nice! A sheath is included with this folder, and it is compatible with all military gear. I liked the handle shape, too - it fit my hand perfectly!
The blade is made out of super-tough D2, tool steel. This stuff is hard, real hard - it takes an edge and it holds it a long, long time. The only problem I've ever encountered with knives made out of D2 is that if the edge is properly applied to start with, they are hard to re-sharpen. Needless to say, Benchmade put a great grind on the edge of the Adamas. Rockwell hardness on the Adamas is 60-62, so you know the edge will last a good long time. The blade style is a drop-point, and is TiNi coated black, for a non-reflective finish. There is a dual thumb stud for quick opening, and I found I could also just flick the blade open, too. The Axis locking mechanism keeps the blade firmed locked open. Best thing about the Axis lock is that, over time, as the blade wears a little bit at the locking point, the Axis lock automatically adjust for this, and the blade stays firmly locked just as it was from the first day you opened the knife.
The pocket/clothing clip allows for deep-carry in the pocket, in the tip-up position, and it is reversible for right or left pocket carry, too. Overall length of the blade is 3.82" and it's about perfect if you ask me. I like a folder with a blade between 3.5" and 4.0" in length, and this one fits the ticket just fine in my book. Overall length of the Adamas in the open position is 8.70" and weight is 7.68 oz - a tad on the heavy side for some folks, but when you see how stout this hummer is, you'll appreciate the weight. Blade thickness is 0.160 and the handle thickness is 0.73" - like I said - stout!
The Adamas was designed by Shane Sibert, who resides right here in my home state of Oregon, and this knife was designed to honor the courage and commitment exhibited by our fighting heroes. A portion of the sale of each Adamas will be donated to the Ranger Assistance Foundation, too. Sibert has been a custom knife maker since 1994, so he's been around quite a while. 
I showed the Adamas to quite a few folks, and needless to say, the first thing they commented on was how stout the folder was - most really liked it, only one said it was too thick and heavy - we all have opinions on guns and knives! I really like the Axis locking mechanism not only for the way it locks a blade open, but for the already mentioned self-adjusting feature. I also like that the Axis lock can be releases from either side of the knife's handle, too - makes it nice for southpaws, as well as us righties!
The Adamas can also be had with a partially serrated blade, as well as in a fixed blade version, which has a slightly longer blade, and skeletonized handle - that you can wrap with 550 paracord if you desire.
I've often said that if you want to see if a gun or knife will break, give it to a US Marine - they will give products a test and evaluation like you wouldn't believe. I honestly believe that the Benchmade "Adamas" is US Marine-proof! If you manage to break this baby, you were probably trying to use the knife as a lever to lift a Hummer. As with all Benchmade knives, the Adamas comes with a lifetime warranty against materials and defects. Benchmade also has a lifesharp service policy - if you send a knife back to them, they will re-sharpen it for free - they only request a $5.00 fee to offset return shipping, and these days, that's a bargain in my book.
I've been writing about Benchmade Knives, for probably close to 20-years now, and I've never had one pass through my hands that I didn't like, or one that had any sort of defects. To be sure, I've had several prototypes that I did articles on, and not one of those babies had any problems, either...and if there is a problem, it usually shows-up in a prototype.
Quality never comes cheap, and the full retail price for the Adamas Model 275 is $195. Believe me, this knife is worth every penny - and then some. I wouldn't hesitate spending more for this folder, if they were asking more for it. What didn't I like about the Adamas? Nothing! This folder falls under "perfection" in my book for a self-defense or survival knife - it's that good - honestly!
I could rant and rave all day long about the Adamas, but nothing is a substitute for getting one in your hands. Once you do get your hands on an Adamas 275 folder, you won't want to put it down. So check the balance in your checking account before you pick-up this knife. You're gonna want to buy it, on the spot.

The recent SurvivalBlog article recommending Painted Mountain Corn as a valuable addition to survival gardens, as well as the stirring article at Rocky Mountain Corn by “New Ordinance” entitled “The Secret Weapon,” encouraged me to purchase this amazing variety for planting this spring.

I already raise the usual potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, squash, beans and a smattering of other vegetables and fruits, and wanted to add robust, non-GMO corn to help protect against crop failures and diversify the nutrition of my hobby-farm crops. For most of my life I’ve only eaten whole corn as boiled ears (with butter, y-e-s!) and the occasional frozen or canned corn (not-so-yes). And of course lots of corn processed into chips, tortillas, etc.

Now however, I want to raise corn in bulk that can be preserved by drying and prepared by grinding into flour. I have a grinder specifically designed to crack grains for chicken feed, and a separate grinder for making flours. However, in researching this topic I’ve run across something interesting that SurvivalBlog readers who are raising flour corn should probably consider.

Chris A. from Maryland hinted at it, and R.J.’s article “Healthy Food Storage” hit it on the head with the million dollar word “nixtamalization”: “Corn has spread all over the world but the proper preparation has not.  Nixtamalization [nista’ mal ization] is the process that enhances the nutritional quality of corn.  This process helps make the amino acids more like a complete protein and making niacin more easily absorbed.” Not only that, but according to Wikipedia, the process also “significantly reduces (by 90-94%) mycotoxins produced by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum, molds that commonly infect maize and the toxins of which are putative carcinogens.” The article “Nixtamalization: Nutritional Benefits” at Nourishing Traditions states, “This traditional practice really has a huge impact in the nutritional status of the humble corn.  Through it, we can take a very frugal food, and make it nutritionally superior.

According to  “When maize was first introduced outside of the Americas it was generally welcomed with enthusiasm by farmers everywhere for its productivity. However, a widespread problem of malnutrition soon arose wherever maize was introduced… Since maize had been introduced into the diet of non-indigenous Americans [settlers] without the necessary cultural knowledge acquired over thousands of years [by native Americans], the reliance on maize elsewhere was often tragic. In the late 19th century pellagra reached endemic proportions in parts of the deep southern U.S.” (According to The Nourishing Gourmet, Pellagra causes “sore skin and mouths, makes you thin, listless and could cause depression, hallucinations, irritability” and more.)

And that’s why you’ll see modern Masa flour and corn tortilla packaging (for example) specifically mention that the corn in their products has been treated with lime (not the fruit, but food grade saturated calcium hydroxide, also known as “cal”).

It is important to mention that the lime used to treat corn for nixtamalization is not garden or agricultural lime (if you bought it in a hardware store, don’t cook with it!), it’s most often marketed in grocery stores as “pickling lime” and is safe to use in food (Native Americans used wood ash as their source for alkalizing the corn solution).

The process is simple, but it does take time to properly treat the corn. Dave Arnold at Cooking Issues waxes poetic about the process and the flavorful (and nutritious) results. Significantly condensed (but nowhere near as entertaining) variations of the directions can also be found here and here.

If you’re going to make corn a significant portion of your survival rations and gardening plan you’ll quickly appreciate the convenience of what we can still purchase pre-treated in stores. Nixtamalization is labor-intensive and time-consuming, but well worth the nutritional advantages. Get the most nutritional “bang for your buck” and nixtamalize that corn!
Trust God. Be Prepared. The time is now! - ShepherdFarmerGeek

I like to shop Costco, they offer a spiral sliced ham for about $20 which kept in the fridge has a very long storage period, however I have found that cooking the ham, and then dividing up serving portions in zip locks works great, the big treat for myself is to leave a portion of meat on the bone and freezing until ready to cook.
My recipe, requires a large crock pot, I unfreeze the ham bone with the residual meat, overnight I soak a large bag of navy beans per directions, I like to prepare the soup early a.m. by starting out putting  the ham bone with meat first into the crock-pot(again the biggest one made)  next I add the following in this order navy beans(white beans), a quart of chicken broth, 1/8 cup of salt (don't worry its not going to be too salty) 2 tablespoons pepper, 1 onion(diced small as you can get it,) 1/4 cup hot sauce, 1/4 stick of butter.  At this point you should room for additional liquids, I suggest either water or more chicken broth, fill the crock pot up to within 1/8 inch from the top.  Set the crock pot on high, make sure the crock pot has a location or a large pan sitting underneath in case you get a little run over( but if you maintain the 1/8 inch level you should be ok) and let it cook for at least 12 hours. Also it will thicken up on its own.

Chef's Notes:  This is a great meal to leave perking while you are away from the house, because when you return home, the smell of that meal cooking makes even the pickiest eaters hungry. You will see the meat has separated from the bone, and if you have a dog(s) in the house, they will be very happy to get a tasty bone.  I serve with cornbread, or fresh bread and nothing else, this is a complete meal,  sticks to your ribs and the smiles around the table are evidence enough you have a hit.  Very few meals give off the aroma that puts a smile on your face like Navy bean and ham soup,  I have tried different things for value, for around 25 bucks complete cost of all the ingredients you get several meals from the sliced ham, another round of meals or more from the soup, and even the dog has a treat.  You can stretch this by adding more bean, and as most people know, it gets better each time the left-overs are reheated.  That's a winner for everybody on a budget.  

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Taste of Dutch oven cooking offered at Chuck Wagon Gathering and Children's Cowboy Festival. A tip of the Stetson to Jeremiah R. for the link.)

Just Dutch Oven Recipes

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

Umatilla Chemical Depot transformation includes Red Cross supplies stored in igloos. (Thanks to J.S. for the link.)

   o o o

Some good news, mentioned over at Cheaper Than Dirt's blog: Oklahoma Governor mary Fallin Signs Open Carry Law. The new law goes into effect on November 1, 2012.

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Hands-on Survival Medicine Classes taught by Dr. Cynthia Koelker (SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor) are now being calendared for the Summer of 2012. Topics covered include casting, suturing, medical labs without electricity, and treating both acute and chronic illnesses.

   o o o

These lighthouses are built stout, and might even have some potential for retreats. (Thanks to C.W. for the link.)

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Commentary from Jim Quinn: More Than 30 Blocks of Grey and Decay

"They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast,
And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Today is novelist Herman Wouk's 97th birthday. Congratulations and Shalom aleichem!


Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $219 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries received will likely run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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.

Listed below are mandatory needs, issues and items needed to successfully survive and weather any major natural disasters, deadly germ outbreaks, or government invasions such as martial law. This is a basic outline and your needs may differ according to location, elevation, and of course finances. Money is the root of all evil, but you will definitely need some to accomplish your survival goals.

Land and water are virtually priceless. The first and foremost thing needed to build a survival compound is water and land. Land as far away from large cities is ideal. Either find a piece of land that you can afford to install a well on or find a location that has a well cooperative. Water is key. Without water, you are done. Small rivers, creeks or springs are essential without a well. You will die without a water source. There are water machines that make water out of thin air, but they are costly and rely on humidity. Even then, you will probably only acquire enough water for drinking and food needs. You have to consider hygiene issues such as bathing and dishwashing among other things. Water is also needed for gardening and animals.

After that, you need to secure your property. Fencing such as a block wall, chain link or wired fence is ideal. Razor wire or equivalent is highly recommended along the top of your fence to provide added security. If unwanted visitors get in, they may not make it out. Locked gates with razor wire allow you access in and out easily while forcing others to cut your gate chains and alerting your animals. Dogs are great alarms and notify you of unwanted visitors. Plan on investing in a family pet that serves as a loveable alarm. You can also install fence alarms or electric fencing, but they require more power and cost.   

After your perimeter security, you need a place to dwell. Recreational vehicles (RVs) or a small cabin are ideal and cost-effective. If done correctly, an RV can be expanded if needed. A “mud room” can be built and attached to an RV. A “mud room” adds living space and a lot of extra room for a large home feeling. All the amenities of having a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom(s) and shower are in the RV; and you can build a large living room or “mud room” attached to the door side of the RV. It sounds crazy, but is very affordable and gives you a larger living space. Also, a wood-burning stove can be installed in this area to provide winter heating. Also, a wood-burning stove can be used to cook on. Thanksgiving Day is a breeze with a turkey on the wood burner overnight and prepared the day before. Wood burners are reliable and eliminate the need to use propane for heating and cooking during the winter months.

Propane may be a hard commodity to find as well as firewood, so plan ahead. Chainsaw(s) are essential, and the more expensive, the better. Husqvarna and Stihl are the best chainsaws in my opinion, and cords of wood are mandatory. Without a fireplace or stove, and a reliable chainsaw, you are done! Winter months can be brutal, and you will need these items to survive. Gas reserves, 2-stroke oil, and propane will make life much more comfortable during the winter months. Make sure you have resources near you, and plan on extra fuel for your pick-up truck or SUV with a trailer to transport your firewood.

Power comes next. Power is critical. Relying on the power grid is stupid. The best thing to do is build your own power supply. Batteries and a power supply are crucial. This is easy but expensive. Big “off-the-grid” batteries are costly, and a big battery bank can break the bank quick. Instead, try using large marine deep cycle batteries available from your local hardware store or big outlet stores such as Ace Hardware, Sears, or Wal-Mart. Well-maintained batteries will perform well, and are part of your secure compound.

To supply power to your batteries, you will need a wind generator and/or photovoltaic (PV) panels. Using both will greatly improve your power source to keep your batteries charged. Both are simple enough to install, and will keep your lights and refrigerator running smoothly.

Some suggest wiring your battery bank in a 24 or 48 volt bank, but many items run on 12 volts. Water pumps, water heaters, and lights are available in 12 volt, and readily available at many locations. PV panels and wind generators are available in 12 volt, and coordinate well with all the needed accessories such as batteries, water pumps, and lighting.

You will need certain items with your power system such as inverters and charge controllers. Inverters can power your AC devices such as television, DVD player, computer, microwave oven and compact refrigerator. Charge controllers will regulate your incoming power supply to your batteries and keep them from overcharging. Both inverters and charge controllers will make your life a lot easier. Reading and understanding how these systems operate together will help greatly in your survival. Use the internet while you can for knowledge on this information. Spend some time and learn how these systems work and interact with each other, otherwise you will be paying contractors to build your system and repair it. Self-reliance means you are on your own, and you need to know how to service, maintain, and repair problems in your power system.

After studying how to have modern conveniences in your compound, you need food. As discussed earlier, water is key to food. A supply of non-GMO vegetable seeds and gardening knowledge is essential. In summer months, having a garden is lovely. Fruits and vegetables without chemicals are beautiful, fun, and tasty. Fresh salads in the middle of nowhere are awesome. In winter months, gardens seem to fizzle. To combat this problem, learn about canning and food preservation. Canning your garden goodies for the winter are mandatory to survive. Canning fresh veggies will allow you to have tasty treats in the winter months.

Storable food is always reliable. It may not taste as good as fresh items, but can come in handy when needed. There are many sources for storable food, so you need to do some homework. Find what you like, what you can stomach, and what stores the longest. Buying food that you can store needs to be edible and withstand storage. Always keep these reserves cool, dark and dry. More importantly, you need baking/cooking supplies such as flour, sugar, yeast, and anything you deem needed. Sealed supplies will make life easier in an emergency.
Livestock, such as chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys, or other animals will breed and provide a great source of food. They require care, food, and treatment.  You get a reliable small farm for meats, dairy products, homemade cheeses, and milk.

Sheds or storage facilities are also helpful. If you can afford it, bunker type systems are useful, reliable, and concealable. If possible, hide your gear, goodies, food, and other supplies underground. This will prolong your resources from being found or stolen.

After planning, building, and fortifying your compound, you need to protect it. Some people are against weapons. Foolish people do foolish things. Arming yourself is not a foolish thing.. The government is stockpiling ammo. You should too. Common weapons and ammo will help you stay stocked up on a plethora of resources. Buy weapons and learn how to use them. If you have never used guns, then learn now. Your family's survival may depend on it, and you need to be prepared. There are thousands of guns to buy. The best selection would be what the police and military use. Anything in .40 caliber or .223 caliber is advisable. There are many reliable types of guns and ammo, but you should use what may be readily available. If it is good enough for the police, it should work fine for you. After all this work, you should be prepared and ready. Bad things happen to good people, so be prepared.

Fuel reserves should also be considered. Fuel supplies for wood cutting, hunting, and possibly water runs are mandatory. Evacuations from your compound may be needed for short periods of time or longer, so have some fuel reserves available.

Once you have made it this far, consider “fire watches” or patrols around your complex. Warm, winter gear during the winter months will help greatly. An alert brisk walk around your area every 20 minutes will keep most people away. It will be helpful to have family members to take shifts or “watches”  around the clock when the time comes.

This all requires some knowledge of everything. The more you do yourself, the more you will understand and appreciate. If you hire someone to do these things listed above, you probably will not make it far. The more you understand about survival, the more you do yourself. Remember, not knowing these things may contribute to your own demise. Understand your surroundings and learn as much as you can. Researching all this information will lead you to other interesting ideas. Study, research, and learn these tips. Your survival will someday rely on this. Large cities will not provide this level of safety and security. Learn, invest and plan now for your survival later.

Our priorities have changed as a family and we have morphed very quickly into a completely different mindset like our very lives depend it and they may. A year ago, if you would have told me that I would be preparing for what we all know is on its way, I would have gotten a great laugh out of it. Not that we didn’t have an inkling, it was just easier to ignore the threat .  The more my husband and I began to sit up and pay attention to our nation, the reality of what is happening in this country hit home. We have been making up for lost time as quickly as possible to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead for our immediate and extended family.
I contribute to our preps by couponing like crazy. I have been able to score free hygiene items, food and other necessary items by paying attention to sale ads and spending a couple of hours a week to coupon.
The steps below will simply a sometimes confounding process when it comes to couponing. I used to coupon by simply clipping and buying the usual at the local Wal-Mart. If it wasn’t a brand we used, I simply would buy the item at full price. Coupons should almost always be coupled with a sale.  I feel almost ashamed of the way we used to treat our hard-earned money!! Now, we have no brand loyalty whatsoever and it has been a blessing to see our stockpile grow!

  1. People already do most of the work for you when it comes to couponing. The Frugal Family, Thrifty Wifey and Motherhood on a Dime (Also a wonderful resource for homeschooling articles and free material) are all excellent sources.  As well as that will detail deals by several well-known chain stores. There are free coupons available on the net at legitimate sites such as, along with a listing by store that even tells you which coupons to use. is also an excellent site to utilize. Subscribe to newsletters, “like” these sites on Facebook (deals will appear on your news feed) and use their knowledge to your advantage.
  2. Ask around to see if family and friends trash their coupons. If they do, ask if you can have them in exchange for products that you may have a surplus in eventually. I supply my grandmother and grandfather with products I am able to get at a reduced rate by using the coupons they save for me. They are on a fixed income and every little bit helps. They also reward my couponing with fresh produce from their garden. By having duplicate coupons, you are better able to utilize buy one get one half off or buy one get one free sales. For example, recently Walgreens had buy one get one free for Nexcare Band-Aids. One box was $3.29, but I had 55 cent coupons. I was able to get two boxes off brand name Band-Aids for $2.19.
  3. Sales run in cycles. For instance, January is “National Oatmeal Month”. I stocked up heavily by pairing store deals with coupons and was able to stockpile and store a significant amount.  Also, January is the “get healthy month” after the gluttony of the holidays, which means that vitamins a cinch to snap up at rock bottom prices.  February is national “Canned Goods Month”; we were able to stock up significantly. It is also “Hot Breakfast Month” and another fantastic chance to stock up on breakfast cereals.  April, November and December is when you want to stock up baking supplies and spices. May is for sunscreens, charcoal, outdoor living items and first aid supplies. A quick note on first aid supplies. Recently Walgreens ran a deal where you received a small first aid kit by purchasing two Johnson and Johnson items. The items themselves had peel off coupons on them and I was able to get the kit and two items for fewer than $3.00 every time! Each vehicle and bug out bag is stocked with everything we would need to deal with smaller injuries. (They usually run this first aid kit deal about every 3 months or so.) Hit August for all the clearance summer items and you will be shocked at what you can sweep up for rock bottom prices. November is not only a month to stockpile baking needs but also canned goods.  You can easily Google “Monthly Sales Cycles” for a more detailed list. The longer you coupon, you will almost begin to predict what coupons will be available when.
  4. Apart from the cycles, pick up your weekly ad and compare your coupons to what is available on sale that week. The sites listed in item one will assist you with this. Get to know your local stores policy and the people that work there. I am on a first name basis with manager at several stores in my hometown. They help me out so much by pointing me to deals I may have missed and making sure I get a rain check for any items they may not have in stock.  I know that CVS will have its brand of 24 bottles of water for $2.22 about every 12 weeks. I buy the limit. We are working on procuring a long term source of fresh water but if something were to happen before then, we would have something on hand.
  5. Many stores offer Register Rewards or Extrabucks that act like instant rebates and can dramatically reduce your overall expenses. I will often spend $9.99 on a product and receive the entire amount back in a rebate that I turn into five cans of salmon added to our stockpile. I may not immediately need to use the product that I got for free but I can add it our stockpiles. Also, sign up for mailing lists and use those loyalty cards. You may receive coupons in the mail and always be sure to scan your card at the coupon machines at the entrance of CVS. You will even get a coupon for a free product every once in a while.
  6. Snatch up those free items, even you are not quite sure if it’s something you can use. Feminine Hygiene products are items that can be easily couponed and will be necessary for cleanliness in a survival situation. They are also sterile and can be applied to a wound as a makeshift absorbent bandage.  Most Kroger stores will double coupons up to 50 cents. Snatch up those power bars when they are on sale 10/$10 and use a .50 cent off coupon that will double to make 2 protein bars $1.00. Protein bars are not a long term solution but can supplement the diet and are highly portable items for bugout bags. Also, many stores will also reward customers who spend a certain amount by offering discounted gasoline, take advantage and watch the savings add up! Also, most stores may not require you to buy 10 items to get that price so check the store’s coupon policy to be sure.
  7. The web sites listed above are also a huge help when scoring deals on pretty much everything imaginable. They will post available deals and this can also help you collect free samples (they are the perfect size for bugout bag, camping or hiking), point you in the direction of sales on the web and coupons that are available for printing. Recently I obtained a subscription to Urban Farm for a year for only $4.50. I have also been able to receive many free “Kindle” books (if you don’t have a Kindle, the download is available free for your PC or iPhone) on gardening, canning, making soap and survival techniques. While I realize this valuable information would most likely not be available during most possible scenarios, I am able to jot down notes from my reading in our “Prepper Bible”.  One of the sites I mentioned above even posted about a contest a survival web site was hosting. I entered to win a year’s worth of food. That sure would be a blessing for any of us and I never would have known about the contest if it wasn’t for the site.
  8. Yard sales, Thrift stores and Goodwill are tremendous assets to us in these times. We have a young daughter who continues to outgrow clothes as fast as we get them. When I find something at a yard sale that is two sizes too big but in great shape for the right price. I snatch it up and put it a labeled bin with the size on the side. I constantly worry that if something would happen, she wouldn’t have shoes. I have snow boots for her for probably the next seven years.  We have picked up a brand new camping cookware set at a yard sale for only $5.00! Our major scores have also been hand crank grinders, old-fashioned wash boards, iron skillets and camping gear. We have been able to accelerate the rate of our prepping by utilizing these sales to gather things that we could never afford to pay full price for.  
  9. I have learned to make our own yogurt and add seasonal fruit to save money. We have learned to make soap, laundry detergent and our own cleaning agents and are stockpiling the things that we will need to continue the use of these skills. As well as learning these skills so that we may have products to barter with.

We are fairly new at preparing for whatever it is that is heading our way. I feel like couponing and watching sales are a huge part of why we have been able to gather what we have at an accelerated rate.
We have a list of “priority” items that I always cross check when I make my shopping lists for the week. I feel that we have gotten started late in the game and every day I worry that we will not have enough time to gather and learn all we need to become self-sufficient.
Every dime that I am able to save by couponing or using yard sale shopping is turned into a weapon, ammunition, gardening supplies, alternate energy sources, survival seed banks as we struggle to pay off the debt that we have left. We have also begun to arm ourselves with knowledge that will pay off in spades. While we are building our stockpile, we are using every spare second to acquire knowledge on the use of weapons, water purification, the caring of livestock and anything that could possibly assist us when TEOTWAWKI hits. Our minds and bodies are getting stronger daily in preparation for the days to come.

Letter Re: Sound Judgment and Reasoning Skills for Preparedness

Anthony C.’s excellent article on logic and fallacies, Sound Judgment and Reasoning Skills for Preparedness, encouraged me to dust off an article I compiled some time ago to summarize some powerful thinking tools.

What follows are a variety of strategies which provide structure for analyzing decisions. Not all of these tools will apply to each situation.

1. Plus, Minus, Interesting (PMI)

2. Considering All Factors (CAF)

3. Consequences And Sequel (CAS)

4. Aims, Goals, Objectives (AGO)

5. First Important Priorities (FIP)

6. Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices (APC)

7. Other Point Of View (OPOV)

  • Try to see things from the other person’s viewpoint. Write out their views: How will they feel? What are their priorities? How will this affect them? How will this affect your relationship with them?
  • Doing this will keep you out of a lot of trouble in disagreements and difficult decisions.

8. What Is God Saying? (WIGS)

  • Whatever you may believe about God at least one thing is certain: psychology has shown that our judgment and decision-making ability are frequently compromised by personality clashes, pride, political considerations, and mood.
  • Humans are prone to “use” logic to justify our decisions, rather than to determine our decisions.
  • Looking outside ourselves humbles us and opens us to other possibilities we may be overlooking, reminds us that no situation is truly and totally under our control, and gives us input from the only One who can see beyond the now to what is going to happen in the next 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days - and the only unlimited One who knows everything about the particular decision or situation or issue.
  • (1) We must be obedient to God’s moral will (the Bible); (2) We are responsible to choose within moral parameters; (3) We must make wise decisions according to our spiritual maturity; and (4) We must be ready always to submit to God’s overriding sovereignty.
  • (1) Be obedient to what God has already shown you. (2) Pray and continually seek God’s wisdom and guidance in everything you do. (3) Rearrange your priorities so your primary motivation is to glorify God. (4) Saturate yourself with the Word of God. (5) Learn from the examples of others. (6) Get involved in a variety of ministries.

The UK is making contingency plans: Theresa May: we'll stop migrants if euro collapses

I missed seeing this lengthy interview when it was first posted back in January: Chris Hedges "Brace Yourself! The American Empire Is Over And The Descent Is Going To Be Horrifying. Note that Hedges is a "Classical Liberal"--the only sort of liberal that I can really respect. Don't miss his comments--about four minutes in--about what he calls a corporate coup d'état. Also see his comments on "Faux Liberals" and "Inverted Totalitarianism" starting at around 11:30. While I don't agree with everything Hedges espouses (since I advocate a more laissez-faire approach and minimalist government), I do respect both his intellect and his sincerity.

Over at Zero Hedge: Flowcharting The Eurocalypse

Heist of the Century: Wall Street's Role in the Financial Crisis

Nigel Farage Explains Why Greece Needs a Floating Drachma

Items from The Economatrix:

USA's Creaking Infrastructure Holds Back Economy

Citadel Lost $30 Million In Facebook Fiasco

US Economy Has Momentum But Risks Remain

Summer Gas Prices Expected To Be Modestly Lower

Ed O. mentioned that readers in Western Washington may be interested in the Mother Earth News Fair being held at the Puyallup Fairgrounds on 2-3 June 2012. (Wear your SurvivalBlog T-shirt or hat and see who you meet.)

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News from an American Redoubt town: Idaho town seeks to lure gun and ammo makers

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Reader J.B.G. suggested this article over at Instructables: Make a Yak-Proof Survival Knife

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Chris M. liked this ABC News piece: Reduce Dumb Decisions by Thinking in a Foreign Language

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Stephen F. mentioned that Sears stores currently have a great price reduction on deep cycle and marine batteries.

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Another asteroid close call. (Thanks to C.A. in Oregon for the link.)

"I think it's a bit like coming to the end of a book. The plot's in its thickest, all the characters are in a mess, but you can see that there aren't fifty pages left, and you know that the finish can't be far off." - Herman Wouk, Marjorie Morningstar

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries received will likely run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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.

It was a bright, sunny day. I found myself scaling Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona with my mom, dad and 5 younger siblings (since I am a homeschooler, I have the privilege to visit some very exciting places in the United States. Such was the case this past March).

As my family and I were hiking up the hazardous ‘path’, a few thoughts crowded my brain. What if my eight-year-old brother fell or slipped in this pass? What if my nine-year-old sister falls down this slab of rock or my mom passes out? Would I know how to help them? Did I have the necessary equipment in my bag? Surrounding me was the beautiful scenery, but more importantly, there were multitudes of families climbing up this same rock that I was. Most of whom had nothing with them except a water bottle!

Many families each year take hikes such as my family did. Nothing happened, and we hope nothing serious ever happens. But, do you know what to do if something goes wrong on your next family hike? What if someone gets seriously injured you pick up your cell phone only to find out that you have no cell signal, or the battery has died, or that you can’t contact anyone? What do you do if you are in a situation where you have no one to contact? Do you know what do if someone gets injured, and the medics are delayed for a long time? Consider the scenario of a third-world country where there is no one to contact in case of a medical emergency, and you are the sole person to administer help until assistance comes.
In this essay, I will endeavor to show you some basic wilderness medicine and rescue skills that will help all those concerned should undesired circumstances strike on their adventure. I want to show three key wilderness medicine and rescue skills that are necessary for the average person to know. You do not HAVE to have a degree, or be an expert! The three keys in this essay are Preparation, Evaluation, and Perspiration. If you can learn the skills associated with these 3 keys, you will most likely have the confidence you need on your next family hike…or adventure!

As with everything relating to survival, preparation is essential. But what does this really involve? First of all, you need to be mentally prepared for anything that may happen. This does not mean that you should worry or be afraid, but, rather, mentally prepare yourself so that you have confidence. If something does go wrong, you know what to do, and you have the means to carry out your plan. The ability to think clearly in the midst of chaos will be invaluable.  Mental preparedness will lead to an essential check-list of some items that may be needed on your adventure.
Your gear plays an important role as to whether you just survive, or thrive under the circumstances that you are forced to be in. There are numerous things that can flood the brain that should be in that “house on your back”, but, keep in mind, a more streamlined check-list is advisable. Obviously you will pack different things depending on whether you are spending a month or two in wild, mountain country, or if you are just spending a day or weekend in the woods.
It is humanly impossible to describe everything that you should pack for every adventure. Walter Picket, in his article called “The Rescue Pack”, put it very succinctly when he stated,
“There are few people who can carry a 40lb+ pack and be effective in the mountains. Experience can make a big difference as to what is carried in the pack. Also, sudden weather changes, difficult terrain and victims with serious injuries can place the rescuer in a rather awkward position. One way the rescuer can keep out of that position is to be prepared to cope with any situation that could come up before it happens. Assistance cannot always be called in or it might take them a long time to getting there so a rescuer should be completely self-sufficient for the duration of the mission. That does not mean that you carry everything but the kitchen sink in your pack…There is no perfect gear. No one backpack can fit everyone’s back. Some gear is especially suited for an individual’s need (or is it wants)…” (Pricket article “The Rescue Pack”

Organize your gear so that instead of frantically trying to find a something, the most essential items are easily accessible. You could classify your gear into 3 categories: personal gear (clothes, sleeping bag, tent, sunglasses, hat, chap stick, bandanna, extra socks, etc.), survival/rescue gear, and medical gear. Because personal gear is obvious to most of us, the focus of this part of the essay will be in regards to survival/rescue gear and medical gear.

Survival/Rescue Gear

Basic survival gear is a must. Caution must be used when going to an outfitting store and buying a survival kit. One reason for this is that a store’s main goal is marketing and making profit, not necessarily your personal benefit. Some stores will also try to cut costs wherever they can, and you probably won’t be getting the “best of everything.” Furthermore, some people never open their kit and figure out how to use it because they trust it. Also, some kits may contain ‘overall items’ that are not specific to the region, weather, and/or terrain that you will be traveling in, or situations that you might face. These types of stores, however, usually have good reading material that can give invaluable information on necessary items. Ultimately, you must be wise, and make sure that, if you buy a pre-made survival kit, you do your research and figure out how everything works BEFORE your adventure begins.

It is best to just make your own by purchasing the items you need individually. Tailor your kit to the region you will be traveling in, the possible weather you may encounter, and to what kind of activities you are going to be doing. Also, if you are leading a group, make sure you tailor your kit to your group’s possible needs. You may have to help everyone!

Assuming that you are wearing the appropriate clothes for your adventure and that you have appropriate hiking boots, here is a “check-list” of a few essential items to get your brain turning: Personal gear (such as a bandanna or sunglasses…) signal mirror, rain wear, fire starting devices (at least 2), trail tape, map/compass, matches (make sure they don’t get wet),sharp belt knife, solar (space) blanket, duct tape, water and food (be wise, always carry more than you think you might need), 3 sources of light and extra batteries, and  at least two heavy duty contractor weight plastic garbage bags (a great source of emergency rain wear, or waterproof backpack liner). A pencil and notebook may also be helpful. Furthermore, I would suggest waterproofing your gear by putting it in plastic Zip-loc bags or containers. You can use your pockets to hold important survival items, like a flashlight or a knife, or you can pack them in a small sack, or belt pouch.

Be sure to adapt your rescue gear to the type of activities that you will be doing, and to the type of region you will be in. Try to bring a good, professional climbing or rescue rope with you. Some people also like parachute cord for rescues.  If you do end up doing strenuous rescuing on your adventure, you will probably wish you had a helmet. (As a side note, you should probably pack one in your bug-out bag, or wherever you keep your TEOTWAWKI gear.) I would also highly recommend that you bring some type of work gloves to protect your hands. This will be invaluable if you do need to do any wilderness climbing. Depending on what you are doing, you may even consider bringing an emergency harness or emergency climbing equipment. Also, make sure you bring enough water. The average person needs 64 ounces of water a day. When you are hiking you will need much more. How much you need will depend on the outdoor temperature and humidity, as well as the length of the hike. For most conditions one liter per hour or a half liter per mile is a good rule. If you are involved in a rescue, you may need to give some of your water to the victim. Remember, what you pack could save your life, or a family member’s life!!!

Medical Gear

Medical gear also needs to be tailored to the area/region you will be adventuring in and the number of people in your group. Pack your gear in an organized manner. It is a very good idea to pack it in a separate pack so that it will be readily accessible. One of the best books I have found on the subject of wilderness medicine is Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid, 5th Edition by William W. Forgey. On page 215 of this book he gives a list of items that will usually fulfill most of your emergency requirements:

“10 pkg   Spyroflex 2”x 2” wound dressings (or carry 2 for each person)                                                                                         
  2 pkg     Spenco 2nd Skin Burn Dressing Kits (or carry 1 for 2 people)
  15 pkg   Nu-Gauze, high absorbent, sterile, 2 ply, 3” x 3v, pkg/2
  25           Coverlet Bandage Strips 1” x 3”
   1                     Tape, waterproof
   1                     Sam Splint 36”
   1                     Elastic Bandage 3”
   1                      Elastic Bandage 4”
   1                     Max Strength Triple Antibiotic Ointment with pramoxine, 1 oz tube
   1                      Hibiclens surgical scrub, 4 oz bottle
   1                     Tetrahydrozoline Ophthalmic Drops, 0.05%, 15 ml bottle
   1                     Hydrocortisone cream, 1%, 1 oz tube
   1                     Clotrimazole cream, 2%, ½ oz tube [Antifungal cream.]
   1                     Cavit dental filling paste
   2 pair                     Examination gloves
   1                     Irrigation syringe
   1                      Sawyer Extractor [Vacuums the wound. Use to treat insect and bites.]
   1                      Surgical kit consisting of 1 needle holder, 2 each 3-0 Ethicon sutures,
   1 each 5-0 Ethicon suture, and 2 each 3-0 gut sutures
   1                      Over-pack container for above”
[To update this list, I would add a CPR mouth guard.]

Always take Tylenol with you. This works on fevers and pain, but if you want something that deals with inflammation as well, you will need to take ibuprofen along with you. Additionally, Imodium A-D is a very good thing to bring along, especially if you will be in the tropics or a foreign country (particularly a third-world country).

The preceding list is not exhaustive. You can use this list as a guide. You must alter it to fit your adventure. Also, don’t be afraid to improvise if necessary. Plastic food wrappers or plastic sheeting can be used to cover wounds as it will not adhere to it. Use any kind of tape to hold it in place. The wonderful thing about this is that you will be able to see the wound! A painless way to kill germs in wounds is by placing granulated sugar or honey on the wound. This will kill germs by dehydrating them and it will not injure human cells.

Remember that your equipment is not everything!  Skill and understanding is far more important! Learn emergency skills. The last thing anyone wants to be doing is sitting next to their injured partner and having no idea what to do!

The best way to organize your gear is to pack it all into individual “stuff sacks.” I would recommend that you label what everything is, and then put all of your “stuff sacks” inside your backpack. Also, separate your gear into categories, such as, ‘any items critical to survival’…these should be carried on your person (i.e. a knife should be in your pocket at all times). Then any items that you frequently need/use, should be in an outside pocket of your pack, or a belt pocket, or something like a water bottle could easily fit on a hip belt. Keep these items handy, so that you don’t have to stop and take off your pack just to get out your sunglasses or chap-stick. The rest of your gear in your backpack is the third category, which includes your medical pack, and personal items. Make sure you keep your most essential items, like your medical kit, near the top of your pack or somewhere where you can easily find it.


This second key, evaluation, is the word that should be flying through your brain when disaster strikes. Something happens, and now, all of a sudden, you become the rescuer (assuming you don’t need to be rescued first).  If you were on a search and rescue team you would have access to equipment and trained professionals. Now, you only have yourself, your companions, and whatever is in your pack. You are the victim’s only hope! The first question will almost undoubtedly come to your mind is this: “Oh no! What do you do?!?” Ah ha! I’m glad you asked! The answer is evaluate! There are two phases for this process, and two ‘C’s to help you remember.
Phase #1: Do not panic!!! Take CONTROL of the situation. Be calm, but confident. Immediately stop, and think “Assess and prioritize!” Assess the situation.  Spinal injuries should be a priority. Realize that you will need to protect their neck at all costs until it is unmistakably obvious that the victim does not have a spinal injury, or until you can get it properly looked at by a professional. Also, it is very easy to operate on impulse when you see a family member or friend in danger. DO NOT allow yourself to do this! Plan and think about every decision.
Phase #2: Exercise CAUTION! The last thing you want is to get hurt yourself, or for someone else in your party to get injured. Assess the danger and make it a priority. Look for the safest way to reach the victim, and then make a plan (before you start out) for how you are going to get to the victim (depending on the situation you might want to have a back-up route in mind just in case). Also, you might need to put on some protective gear such as medical exam gloves with a pair of work gloves on top, or extra rain gear. You also may need a helmet, or other equipment to protect you as you reach the victim. If you don’t have extra protective equipment, proceed with EXTRA CAUTION!


Perspiration, the last and final key, refers to the process of reaching the victim, stabilizing the victim, and getting the victim to professional help. This daunting task may take a long time, and it will undoubtedly consist of pressure and lots of hard work-or perspiration. There are seven phases for this process (and they all start with ‘S’).
Phase #1: SET OUT to reach the victim! This may be as simple as walking 10 feet out of the way, or it may be as complex as rappelling down a cliff. Also, depending on the size of your group, it is probably not necessary for everyone to go and reach the victim. Keep control and don’t let anyone panic as you (now the rescuer) reach the victim. Most importantly, you MUST work together.
I want to park here and give you a few techniques that I have found to be very helpful. As I learned this first technique some time ago, I realized that it should only be used if you need to reach the victim quickly.
1. Take your rope and wrap it around a big sturdy tree trunk or boulder, close to the “cliff” (or area that you will rappel down). Do NOT tie any knots!!! Just wrap it around.
2.  Pick up the now 2 pieces of rope, close to the trunk. Make sure that the ends of the rope match in length (basically the length of your rope has just been reduced by half).
3. Next, gently let the 2 pieces of rope down the cliff to make sure that your rope is long enough to reach the bottom. Face the tree trunk or boulder and hold both pieces of rope together.
4. Then, pass them between your legs and then around your right leg.
5. Next, pass it up across your chest and over your left shoulder.
6. Hold the rope with your left hand approximately at the middle of your lower back. Let the rest of the rope trail down behind and below you. With your right hand, hold the rope in front of you.
7. Then, SLOWLY let yourself down. Don’t grip with your right hand! Just rest in your left hand and lean your weight on the rope.
8. Finally, once you get down to the bottom, pull on one end of the rope and let the rope come down.

The only possible problem with this is that you will need to have a plan to get yourself and the victim back to safety. As I already stated, this should really only be used when you need to reach the victim quickly. Another option is to learn how to make a harness out of rope or use any emergency equipment that you brought, and have someone belay you. Usually a team of 3 is ideal for safe travel in treacherous country.
If you need to wade across a river or stream, plan before you enter. Currents can be deceitfully strong. Before you enter the water, throw a small stick into the water to see how fast the current is flowing. Make sure you wear shoes when you cross. Also, it is very helpful if you can cut a big branch, or somehow get a big stick to use as you cross to make a tripod effect. This will give you more stability in the crossing, and you will always have one leg and the stick on the ground, as opposed to trying to balance on one leg with rushing currents.
Also, another interesting fact to remember for dealing with serious trauma, is that emergency doctors speak of something called “the Golden Hour”. This refers to a period of time varying between the first few minutes after an accident, to approximately an hour after the accident. If you can get to the victim and stabilize them within this one hour time frame, they will have a better chance of survival. The bottom line is, get to the victim and give care as soon as you can.
Phase #2: SURVEY the victim (some refer to it as the primary survey). This means dealing with life-threatening emergencies. Doctors use the mnemonic acronym ABCDE to help evaluate the victim.
‘A’- airway. Make sure nothing is clogging the victim’s airway.
‘B’- breathing. Make sure that the victim is breathing (look, listen and feel for at least 10 seconds), if they are not breathing you will need to start CPR. These 2 are the most vital.
‘C’- circulation. Check to make sure that their heart is beating (if not start CPR) and check for any catastrophic bleeding. Deal with bleeding immediately by applying direct pressure to the area for 10 minutes by your watch. Use protective gloves, or use a cloth to protect yourself. If there is a foreign body in the wound, apply pressure around it. Only use a tourniquet in life-threatening situations, such as amputations or partial amputations, penetrating wounds, or open fractures. The victim may use the limb. If needed, apply the tourniquet for only 30 minutes and then release it slowly.
‘D’- disability. This part of the exam will place the victim in one of four categories: unresponsive to all stimuli, responsive to pain, responsive to verbal stimuli, alert. If the patient sees you and starts talking to you, he is obviously alert. Otherwise, gently squeeze the victim’s (uninjured) shoulder while placing a hand on their forehead to prevent any neck movement and ask a question like “Can I help you?” or “Where do you hurt?” If they respond, they are obviously responsive to verbal stimuli. If there is no response, pinch an uninjured part of their body to see if they are responsive to pain. If there is no response, you can classify them as unresponsive to all stimuli.
‘E’- exposure. This means protect the patient from hypothermia. Depending on the weather and condition of the victim, you might have to deal with this later.
If/when the victim’s ABC’s are stable, move on.

Phase #3: SHOCK: Shock is caused by an inadequate supply of oxygen reaching the brain or other vital tissues and organs, because of decreased blood circulation. One symptom of shock is that the victim’s skin is cool to touch and they may be sweating (cool, clammy skin). Also, their skin color may be ashen or pale. Some serious symptoms are dilated pupils, fall in blood pressure, increased breathlessness and/or irregular breathing. The main way to correct shock is to identify and treat the underlying causes. A few causes of shock are pain, bites and stings, fractures, burns, dehydration from sweating, and exsanguination. Also, keep the victim still and in a comfortable position where they feel like they can breathe well. Shock can lead to death. Make sure you treat any and all causes the best you can.

Phase #4: SECOND (secondary) SURVEY: Once the victim is for the most part stable, perform a secondary survey. This will help figure out the cause of the victim’s problem  or it will help you figure out if there are any further problems you may not see right away. This survey may also help determine more underlying causes of shock.

1. Check the victim’s vital signs: Recheck their level of consciousness. Are they alert, responsive to verbal stimuli, responsive to pain, or unresponsive?
Check their pulse (quality, rhythm, and rate). If a limb is injured, check the pulses on the uninjured and the injured limbs and then compare them. The normal pulse for the average adult at rest is approximately 60-100 beats per minute and the normal pulse for the average child at rest is approximately 70-130 beats per minute. Well trained athletes may have a resting pulse closer to 40 beats per minute.
Check their breathing (rhythm, rate, and quality i.e. labored, pain, noises like gasps).Adults breathe approximately 12-18 times per minute at rest. Children breathe faster.
Check their skin color. Also see if it is moist/dry or hot/cold (refer to shock).
Finally, if at all possible check their blood pressure. Systolic blood pressures ranging from 100-140 are normal.

2. Next, do a rapid head-to-toe exam. Check for other major injuries.  Try to communicate with the victim. Ask questions like “Does this hurt?” Start at the head and neck: Look for any bruising around the ears. Make sure their collarbone is not broken. Also, check for clear fluid from the victim’s nose or ears. This is a sign of a head injury with an open fracture. Gently feel along the cervical spine for pain (if conscious). Also ask about any abnormal sensations.
Chest:  Look for damage. Keep your hands wide and compress the ribs from both sides. Ask about pain (possible bruised or broken rib).
Spine and Back: If at all possible, without moving the victim, gently press along their spine. Stop immediately if there is any pain or significant tenderness.
Abdomen: Spread your hands wide, and gently press at the four corners and the center of their abdomen. Look for tenderness, rigidity, muscle spasms, tenderness, or swelling. Stop if there is any pain or significant tenderness and assume that there is an abdominal injury/problem, or a spinal or pelvic injury.
Pelvis: Placing a hand on each Pelvic crest (hipbone) press them backwards, and then towards each other gently. Stop if there is any pain and splint immediately (splint by tying legs together-not too tightly. Make sure you place padding material between the legs and between the legs and the tying material. If/when you need to move the victim, you must do so by stretcher).
Arms and Legs: Run your hand down each arm/leg slowly, gently squeezing as you go. Note any movement in the fingers/toes or lack of sensation or circulation. Check for deformities, swelling, and color changes (loss of circulation). Also, check for pain in the joints. (If you must splint an arm or leg, check for circulation, movement, and sensations (tingling, numbness, pins and needles) about every 30 minutes. You may need to remove the splint if there are any sensations or if there is a loss of circulation or if movement in that limb suddenly decreases.)

Phase #5: Your SOLUTION: This means that now that you have somewhat figured out what the problems are-figure out what you are going to do! Define problems and then figure out solutions. Apply splints to immobilize fractured or broken bones. If there is any bleeding, watch for infection. It may be necessary to repeat the Second Survey.

Phase #6: SAFETY: Retreat to safety. If you cannot move the victim without further injuries, leave them where they are and protect them from the elements.

Phase #7: STABILIZE the victim. Whatever the case may be, keep the victim stable until you can get them to help, or get help to them. This may mean that someone in your party has to run for help, while you stay and administer help to the victim. Also, you must get professional medical attention if necessary. This may prove crucial because sometimes it takes the eye of a trained professional to catch serious problems.

It is easy to get worried when prepping for or while on an adventure. You can minimize potential fears by familiarizing yourself with these 3 wilderness medicine and rescue keys: Preparation, Evaluation, and Perspiration. You don’t have to be an expert! Anyone can help a friend in an emergency! If you learn to apply these skills, you will have confidence to fight against the odds. So, are you going to just survive your adventure, or are you going to thrive under EVERY circumstance?

I will begin with a brief introduction. I have been an avid reader of SurvivalBlog for a few years. I have never found a better collection of tips, ideas, and information. Every time I view the blog I learn something new. I was born and raised in the south, spending most of my time outdoors or in church. I grew up hunting, fishing, camping, and learning the value of a hard days work. I had believed that growing up as I did would provide me advantages in disaster situations without really making any in-depth preparations other than the occasional power outage. In my early twenties, I joined the Army. That is when I woke up and began to see the need for long term preparations. I started paying more attention to news reports and world events and realized I would not survive long on only good intentions when TSHTF.

I knew I needed to be better prepared, but I had no idea where to begin with such an enormous task. One of the soldiers in my unit suggested that I read the novel Patriots by James Wesley, Rawles. It was as if someone turned the light on. I now had a place to begin, a plan. I started out getting a bug out bag together and a small kit that is kept in my vehicle. I then moved on to food stores and other necessary tools. After I built up about six months worth of supplies I began to slow down. I had no real reason to slow down, I knew I still needed to have a larger stock of goods.

My continued efforts to increase my stores were given a new life and faster pace after April 2010. At the time of the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak I was serving in the Alabama National Guard and living in north Alabama. My Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was Military Police, so as soon as I heard of the storm system heading our way I knew the probability of my unit being called up was high. The day seemed as if it would never end, the devastation was awe inspiring to say the least. One of the many tornados that touched down that day cut a path nearly a mile wide just a few short miles from a nuclear power plant which was less than an hour from my house. By God’s grace alone, the tornado left the power plant itself unharmed. This served as my first wake-up call, I hadn’t yet prepared for any kind of a nuclear disaster and hadn’t thought of a natural disaster effecting the nuclear power plant. Although the tornado missed the power plant, it did not miss the transmission lines supplying most of north Alabama with power. The few small hydroelectric dams in the area simply did not have the strength to cover the demand. Even if they could compensate for the loss of the nuclear plant the physical line damages would have prevented power coming back on line soon. From the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham areas north to the Tennessee state line, nearly half the state of Alabama, was dark and would stay that way for a week or more in most locations. Let me tell you first hand, it is one thing to hear someone say with the loss or damage to a supply chain or basic utilities we are only three days from total chaos, quite another to live it.

As I believed, my unit was called up within 24 hours to aid our fellow residents. We loaded up and headed to a city in the area that had been directly hit by an F-5 tornado. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw upon our first arrival. More than half the town had been erased. Many had lost their lives in the storm and many more had been injured, lost their homes, or were missing. It was like rolling up to a live combat zone. We handed out nearly every scrap of food and water we had with us within just hours of our arrival. We continued to provide medical care and any other aid we could until other agencies arrived. Needless to say it was a long day for all involved.

In the coming days our role shifted to providing security for the area. After the initial shock wore off problems began to arise. We found that most people were completely unprepared for anything like this to happen. Most people didn’t even have any cash on hand, relying only on their debit or credit cards to buy anything they could from the few places that were able to quickly reopen. The problem with this was with a lack of power and phone service to authorize payments stores were only accepting cash. To make matters more stressful to people trying to snatch up any items left many stores, in an effort to prevent fights and theft, were only allowing customers accompanied by an employee in the store for a specified time limit. Many of the stores were even putting limits on how many items you could buy. The lines at the few grocery stores and gas stations quickly stretched to several miles long full of panicking people desperate for supplies. The grocery stores were full of empty shelves within hours. There was only one gas station that was able to sell gas at first due to the owner’s foresight to have a back up generator. Due to the lack of an operational power grid the fuel at other stations sat in the tanks with no way to operate the pumps. This too sold out in just hours.

There were a few small fights here and there usually occurring over the last of an item, bags of ice, or people cutting in front of others in lines. There were a few reports of people being robbed in parking lots after leaving a store, thankfully no one was harmed in these attempts but could have been easily. At this point power and distribution had only been interrupted for two days. People were becoming very desperate and in turn much more willing to take any step they thought necessary to get what they needed. The third day things started to improve overall. Many resupply trucks had rolled in to restock the open stores. Most of the larger chain stores and gas stations had brought in large generators to operate refrigeration systems allowing for cold items such as milk to be sold for the first time since the tornados. The generators also allowed the power needed to begin to process credit card payments. The next few days followed similar patterns with stores being resupplied in the mornings and empty at night. Stores still had incredibly long lines to purchase anything with waits ranging from 30 minutes to several hours. It seemed that the ability to purchase goods again and credit card systems back online provided enough of a sense of normality to keep most people from steeling or escalating to violence despite an operational power grid in many locations. From conversations with my family back at home I learned that things had followed a similar pattern. There were no large areas of destruction in my city other than trees down and a few houses missing roofs from trees falling on them. It was simply the loss of power that seemed to get everyone all riled up.

If there is only one thing that you take away from my experience here I would hope that it is the need to sit down and think of every possible thing that could occur in your area. As I stated above, I had not given much thought to a nuclear power plant being in my area simply because it would not be a likely target for a terrorist attack because of its location. I really hadn’t given much thought to something like a tornado hitting it directly, although looking back now it seems like such an obvious possibility. I guess that’s why they say hindsight is 20/20. I have now provided the necessary provisions for this possibility. Another area I would like to touch on is probably widely realized already by most survival blog readers but I feel the need to mention it anyway. As prepared individuals, we should never rely on the government or any other organization to provide us any aid in times of disasters or attacks. For our own safety we should never be in a position where we might have to give up our freedom or other rights in return for assistance, as in the case of many FEMA camps and shelters where once you enter you may not be allowed to leave until officially released.

One other topic I would like to discuss here is one that I have had difficulties with from time to time, tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can be problematic when making preparations. It can be very easy to focus too much on one aspect of survival needs and allow another area to fall behind. To put it another way, what good is it to have a two-year supply of food if you have failed to provide everything necessary to cook your stores or do not have the knowledge needed to properly utilize your stores. What would happen if someone showed up trying to take all that you have, would you have the necessary gear and training? One thing I have noticed in my own extended family is a family member would go out and buy a tool, no matter if it’s a rifle water filter or other survival tool, and feel like they were covered in that aspect. If you do not have the skills and knowledge to use the item then you might as well not have it. It is very important that you follow up the purchase of something with whatever training is necessary to make you proficient in its use. Take for example a rifle. This is a very important and useful tool if used properly. To use it properly you need training of some type on the safe operation of the rifle as well as fundamental marksmanship skills. Beyond the initial training it is crucial that you continue training with your rifle. Keep your skills sharp, shoot as often as your time and finances allow.

Getting back to the tunnel vision issue, having a military background I tend to lean heavily towards the tactical aspects of prepping because it is what I am most comfortable and familiar with. I have to constantly remind myself to take a step back and look at the big picture. I encourage all of you to also take a step back and look at the big picture. May God bless you and keep you safe in your prepping adventure. I leave you with a verse to look up, one of my favorites Romans 8:28.

Mr. Rawles:
I just "discovered' your site and find it interesting and informative - thank you for this great service. I love the idea of A Week in a Bucket by ChemEngineer. It is simple and cheap and low key - three good rules to follow for most things in life. I currently have a few week's supply of food in cardboard and plastic boxes but really want to move in this direction - I have been thinking about it for some time now. I would love to see a follow up by you or the original poster that addresses the following points that are frustrating me:
1) Storage life of crackers and cereals - The expiration dates on boxes of Saltines (and other crackers) and packaged cereals are typically only a few months. What is the "real" storage life of these products and how can you keep them even longer? Having a breadstuff to spread things on is pretty useful but so far the only thing with much of an expected shelf life is canned brown bread.
2) Is there a requirement to use mylar bags to pack food products that are already in envelopes, bags, (dry soups, pasta, Hamburger Helper, instant mashed potatoes) etc? Is there any value to putting these packages into Ziploc freezer bags to protect/extend their storage life?
3) Wise Foods sells rectangular plastic buckets with their freeze-dried food assortments that stack and pack closer than standard round buckets. Can you find these anywhere else? What do you think of using the rectangular plastic buckets that some kitty litter comes in? The buckets are "free" if you have friends with cats and have really great handles and a fitted lid that can be sealed with electrical or duct tape to help keep out bugs and moisture. If I wash them out with bleach they should be clean and odor free? Everything else would be in cans or plastic bags - would that be okay? Should I use Mylar bags? - Tom K.

JWR Replies: In answer to your questions:

Most low-oil content crackers and cereal products will store for up to ten years, if protected from moisture and intrusive odors. Vacuum-sealed mylar bags provide the best protection.

Clear plastic bags as interior bucket liners don't add much protection, aside from preventing foods from getting mixed together. This is because most plastics are not long term vapor barriers. They are essentially gas permeable. For that matter, so are the HDPE plastic buckets themselves, long term. But a well-sealed food grade mylar bag is 99% effective as a vapor barrier. Buy oversize mylar liners that will protect the entire contents of a 6 gallon bucket. These mylar bucket liners are available from a number of Internet vendors, including several SurvivalBlog advertisers. (Be sure to do some comparison pricing, as the prices on these vary widely.) If you are worried about strong food odors affecting the other contents of your bucket, then also use smaller supplementary mylar liners for each food product that might be vulnerable. Note that if you are careful with mylar bags, they can be washed, thoroughly dried, and re-used.

Regarding re-using cat litter pails: Be advised that not all HDPE plastic buckets are food grade.  Many of them give off toxic vapors that can ruin stored foods.

Rectangular food grade buckets with lids are available from Yankee Containers.

Debt Contagion Ahead! (Conveniently timed for after the U.S. Presidential election.): Citigroup Economists Say Greece To Exit Euro Zone On Jan. 1, 2013. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

From G.G.: Poverty Increasing Among Retirees

G.G. sent this: Smith & Wesson booms as firearms owners fear prez crackdown

Sean B. flagged this: Vallejo, California, once bankrupt, is now a model for cities in an age of austerity. Buried in the story, not surprisingly, is the revelation that the local sales tax was raised by 1% to a whopping 8.375% to bail out the spendthrift city government. (Only a leftist Washington Post journalist would have the temerity to headline this tax-gouging city a "model" for "austerity.")

Items from The Economatrix:

The End of Inflation-Deflation Debate

Psychological Sentiment War is Raging in Precious Metals Markets

Gerald Celente:  Apocalypse Now.  The System is Falling Apart

Some great stuff from our blogosphere friend Patrice Lewis: Going Country: Moving Rural for Self-Reliance

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James C. suggested this instructional video: Five gallon bucket camp sink.

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Reader F.G. sent us another case of form over function: In Reversal, Army Bans High-Performance Rifle Mags. This is the typical boot-polishing "dress-right-dress" garrison mentality. The next thing you know, they'll ban soldiers buying their own ACOG scopes or supplemental body armor. Talk about institutionalized stupidity! What a far cry from the Vietnam War, where carrying a personally-owned .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver was not uncommon. (Although not officially sanctioned.)

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Brandon Smith: Low-Tech Solutions To High-Tech Tyranny

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Countering the U.N. gun grab: HR 5846 - The Second Amendment Sovereignty Act. SurvivalBlog readers in the U.S. are encouraged to contact their congresscritters to insist that they co-sponsor this legislation. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the alert.)

"The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD." - Proverbs 21:31 (KJV)

Friday, May 25, 2012

I heard about a new web site that deserves prominent mention: It is a spin-off from the popular EMPAct America organization, which has done yeoman service in educating the American people of the risks posed by EMP and large solar flares. PrepareHub is a sort of community web site on nationwide scale. It is intended to be a clearinghouse of ideas on all things preparedness-related. Among other projects they will be offering a comprehensive calendar for preparedness expos and training classes, and a wide range of preparedness products AT COST. (Think of it as prepper "Group Buys" on steroids.) They are also establishing numerous discussion forums for preppers, where civility will be stressed. Be sure to bookmark the site and visit it often.


Today we present another entry for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries received will likely run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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 recent “discovery”of a small nuclear reactor (only 3.1 pounds of weapons grade enriched uranium) in Rochester, New York started my wheels turning. Like most people reading SurvivalBlog I am concerned about what is around me and what harm could befall my family in the event of a TEOTWAWKI situation. Knowledge is power, and in this write up, knowledge about where nuclear power exists will go a long way.

I have spent 20+ years in the Navy upholding the Constitution, making my living as a Radioman on nuclear submarines, specifically 688 fast attacks. (I'm looking forward to leaving the East Coast and moving to friendlier, wide open spaces.)  I ate, slept, worked out, cleaned (endlessly), communicated and repaired equipment always within 100 feet of a nuclear reactor. At first, it was a big deal, but routine and the demands of the job numbed me to what was there. I find the same sort of numbness in those that live around civilian nuclear plants today and many other industries that have the potential to magnify a major disaster. After a while it is just there. You accept it and don’t pay any attention to it until something bad goes wrong at which point you have that “A-ha!” moment.

Building on what others on this blog have pointed out, know what is around you. Several people have pointed out all the civilian nuclear reactors. What about the military reactors? Those used for research? Prototype reactors? Start doing a serious look around you and you will find them right in your backyard. The mini reactor in a Kodak factory underground bunker (since 1974) is a good example.  The Idaho National Laboratory is another example of a location where nuclear plants exist (experimental ones at that) but is not generally discussed within the mainstream media. The laboratory, just west of Idaho Falls was also home to one of the world’s first nuclear accidents.

Just a small amount of research gives one a taste of exactly what is out there. In the US alone commissioned, decommissioned, experimental, military and research reactors number in the hundreds.

Thinking about reactors around us, let’s take the Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington) as a point of reference. Basically you have the Hanford Nuclear Reservation [in southeastern Washington] with the Columbia Generating Station. Not even delving into what is buried or mothballed (cocooned) on the Hanford Reservation this gives us a grand total of just one commercial nuclear power plant within the Northwest. Digging deeper though, we find other reactors. From known unclassified (yes it is Wikipedia, but the data collates with other solid information) sources we find that Idaho has four operational research reactors. In various states of decommission, mothball or cocooning we find another 34 reactors.  The University of Idaho operates another reactor, the AGN-201, also located on the grounds of the Idaho National laboratory.

Oregon has zero commercial reactors. Hey, almost good news. Diving into the information highway though shows us two research reactors. The first is located on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis. A pure research reactor capable of generating 1.1Mw, it has a “low vulnerability to meltdown”.  I used to have the same thing. As it turns out my low vulnerability to meltdown disappeared when I had to deal with 18 year old Submarine School Students on a daily basis who go out of their way to invent new and stupid things to do. But I digress.  The other Oregon reactor is located at Reed College in Portland. As quoted from the Reed College reactor web page, “the reactor is operated primarily by undergraduates”. I am certain in a TEOTWAWKI of SHTF situation, all of these students will come running to the reactor to safely shut it down or otherwise keep it in a "safe operating mode." (The Microsoft Word programmers need to develop a sarcasm font.)

Finally this brings us to Washington State. As previously mentioned, Washington is home to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the only commercially operating nuclear power plant in the Northwest.  The lone research reactor within the state is located on the Washington State University campus in Pullman, near Spokane. Take it down to another level. What about military reactors? How many of those exist within the state of Washington? Basically this depends on what ship is underway. Located on the Kitsap Peninsula on the Hood Canal side is the Bangor Trident Submarine base, or Naval Base Kitsap. The submarine base is home to several Trident submarines, three fast attack subs and two SSGNs [which are Tridents converted to each carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles with conventional warheads]. Using the Submarine Group Nine web site (under Trident Submarines) and the Submarine Development Group Five web site (under fast attacks) I count thirteen nuclear submarines. Across the peninsula in Bremerton you have nuclear powered aircraft carriers parked there, nuclear powered warships (subs/carriers) in dry dock, etc. Go across the water to Naval Station Everett (just north of Seattle) and throw in some more nuclear powered aircraft carriers. If you spent your time looking for commercial nuclear power plants in Washington you may come across just the Columbia Generating Station. Dive in deep and now you have a variable number of between 2 and 18 (it really depends on which subs are in port).

This is just the information that is publicly available.  Only the Good Lord actually knows everything that is located in just the Northwestern section of the country. We have a bloated government with so many special agencies and projects I have no doubt two highly classified things happen next to each other, both working to the same end and each one doesn’t know about the other; neither  known to the public.

Getting back on topic and thinking about the Northwest, what kind of local TEOTWAWKI scenarios could develop which could jeopardize the reactors? I believe one only has to re-watch video of the Japan Tsunami and transpose that over to the West Coast of the United States in order to get a good idea. The Cascadian Subduction Zone  would be the most likely offender in any Tsunami scenario. A magnitude 8 or 9 quake along this zone has the potential to generate a Japan (2011) type tsunami event. Imagine that water rushing through the Puget Sound and being funneled through a place like the Hood Canal. Rushing water can and does move massive objects. A massive surge of water would easily move a Trident (Ohio) Class submarine off the pier and onto land or some other point. Nuclear submarine reactors were never meant to be operated on land. Cooling water is required, even when they are in dry dock. That cooling water comes from the submarines natural environment (ocean water).  It now becomes a struggle to ensure the core is covered by water.

Add massive tsunami and earthquake damage to infrastructure from a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and you have the makings for a major disaster. A good portion of the crew would have to make it back to the submarine through massive damage and in most scenarios probably would not make it back. Communications would be down. The minimal crew onboard the submarine would have some personnel injured and would in no way be equipped to handle the potential complexity and magnitude of the crisis. While submarines do have some reserve electrical power to operate and (attempt) to get things in a stable state (battery bank), this is extremely limited. The other emergency power source is the subs own diesel generator. Good luck in operating that if the sub is at any sort of angle on land (and without cooling water).  The number of submarines in port multiplies the potential for disaster.

Saying all this it is also important to remember that US Navy submarines are built to withstand a lot of damage and keep going. The reactor components even more so. The USS San Francisco colliding into an undersea mountain at top speed is a testament to how robustly those subs built after the 1960s are. The Thresher and the Scorpion, two nuclear-powered submarines lost in the Atlantic during the 1960s (pre-Sub Safe era) are regularly monitored for radiation exposure and according to government reports, minimal amounts have been released/recorded. Yes, I know. Government reports. It is also important to know that both of the reactor vessels for these submarines are sitting in several thousand feet of water and did not rupture; a testament to their strength (Thresher is sitting in approximately 8,400 feet of water, which equates to approximately 4,000 lbs per square inch of pressure). It is also a testament to the cooling effect of ice cold seawater.

The potential is there for a massive natural disaster to be compounded by several manmade disasters. Knowing the location of reactors, industrial plants and the like will give you a leg up in any survival scenario. Having a preplanned escape route to avoid these potential disasters and the massive panic that would ensue from them is vital. The Three Mile Island Disaster (scroll down to the Three Mile Island part) is a perfect example of poor communications and panicked people. That was just an isolated incident not caused by some external calamity. Throw in the external calamity and the proverbial fan blades become covered in stuff.

p align="left">Judgment, reasoning, decision-making, logic, figuring it out... Call it what you will, the first level of preparation should be your mind. To roughly quote Einstein “the thinking that created the problem is not going to solve the problem”. Computer folks call it “garbage in, garbage out”.

There are numerous “rosy paths” that can cause a person to make a poor judgment call. Considering each of these in turn will, I hope, increase your awareness of them in your own decision making, and make you less susceptible to those who would use them to change your actions against your better judgment, or to sway your opinion. While reading the remainder of the article work out how often your judgment is based on faulty reasoning and clouded by emotion. Additionally, ponder the words you use, as those words, whether spoken or unspoken have great power.

Incorrect Cause:
Mistaking correlation for causation. An example of this is” knowing” you missed that big buck standing right in the open because you forgot to wear those lucky socks. You laugh, however we all have been guilty of assigning an incorrect cause to an event.

I’m Right Since You Can’t Prove Me Wrong:
This person uses your inability to show that his conclusion is not valid as proof that he is right. A good example of this is “Why in the world would you store a year’s worth of food! Heck, we don’t have hurricanes, the stores around here always have food, and what are my taxes supporting FEMA for anyway!” In this situation I suggest sadly shaking your head, turning, and walking away.

Broad Generalization:
Pretty much all of us fall prey to this one. It assumes that what is valid some of the time is therefore valid all of the time. Racial prejudice and bigotry fall into this category of course. An acquaintance of mine believes that everyone of certain ethnic backgrounds are lazy. Making assumptions about a person simply because they vote democrat or republican is another example of a broad generalization. Not all democrats are against guns.  Of course if a democrat confides that he or she owns a battle rifle I might give them a second chance!

Rushed Generalization
: When you base a conclusion or inference on too small a sample or even a one-time event, you have made a decision which is unfounded. Consider your friend at work who is going to get a pit bull. His decision is completely based on the next door neighbor who has “the sweetest, cutest pit bull who just loves to play with the kids”.  You, of course, would do far more research before deciding what breed was best for you.

Invalid Analogy:
Here a person assumes that since two events or circumstances are alike in some known way that they are also alike in unknown ways. An instance of this would be that because your neighbor is an excellent wing shot (shooting flying game birds) that he will be an excellent sniper. Both have a lot to do with firearms of course, but being a skilled wing shooter does not automatically mean he will have the talents and skills of a military sniper.

Polarizing Argument:
  This tactic is a favorite of special interest groups. It is used to create drama and emotion. It is an attempt to force you to pick a side. If you are not with us, then you are against us. Example: “Huh, well if you are against increased funding and authority for the Department of Homeland Security that must mean you do not care about terrorist attacks!”

False Dilemma:
This is similar to using a polarizing argument. It infers that there are only two outcomes, and both are bad. For instance, thinking that the only two options available are to either build up a savings account and have the IRS tax the interest and watch it erode via inflation, or you can invest in beans and bullets, in which case you will have no retirement nest egg could be a false dilemma. One of the dangers of false dilemmas is their “no win” aspect which can cause you to take no action to improve your preparation situation.

Killing the Messenger:
A favorite through the ages of those who don’t have a valid counter argument based on evidence, also known as an ad hominem. Here the person attempts to invalidate the argument or information by attacking the source rather than the substance. “Heck, did you hear what Fred is saying about climate change and needing to stock up on food because of food shortages? Didn’t he get fired last month?”  How about “I don’t listen to a word that guy says, he voted for that city tax hike last year!”

Look Who Is Talking:
Or, two wrongs make a right. So an older, wiser prepper dad is advising his son against taking out a big loan and buying that fancy sports car. Dad thinks his son should stay debt-free and buy a reliable used car with good gas mileage for cash. The son keeps his thoughts to himself, which are along the lines of why shouldn’t he buy that fancy sports car since that is what dad did when he was his age.

Hitting A Moving Target:
This is when a person uses different meanings for a key word or term throughout an argument. An example here is “No one should doubt that God can work miracles, since we have seen countless miracles like synthetic DNA and heart transplants.” The speaker is using the term “miracle” in different contexts, technological and spiritual. A miracle of technology is human made, whereas a true miracle is, well. . . . a miracle.

Appeal to Authority:
This is one I love to hate, as it is used so often. In this case the credibility of a  position is enhanced  by the support of widely known or admired, but not qualified figures. Nuclear physicists, doctors, astronauts and celebrities are often used in this capacity. The main stream media is often guilty of relying on “appeal to authority” instead of truly investigating the matter, and is extremely poor journalism. Your friend Bob is going to max out his credit cards to buy Facebook stock because the doctor who operated on him last year said it was a “no brainer”. Yeah, right, maybe Bob should have gotten a second opinion.

Begging the Question:
 A tactic which bases its conclusion on a statement that is assumed to be true. An example might be “The actions of Wall Street Investment Bankers must be for the best since the actions in question are legal”. My reply to that is just because an action is legal does not make it honest or ethical.

Don’t Rock The Boat:
This claims that tradition, or the status quo should not be challenged. Corporate and social cultures are good examples. “This is the way we do things around here, so don’t question it or you will be viewed as a trouble-maker” or “In our subdivision we don’t think planting a garden is a good idea”. All of us who have dared to walk the path espoused on SurvivalBlog have had to deal with this.

Circular Argument:
Here a person uses the conclusion as the premise for the argument, or repeats a statement in different terms. My wife and I have a lot of fun with this one. I’ll say “how come you always disagree with me?” She replies “No I don’t”. Then I come back with “See what I mean?”  How about the person living in suburbia who insists they are well prepped since they have they purchased a month of food at Costco last year and has it stored in the basement? They stick to that month of food as evidence of being well prepared no matter how hard you try to point out the vulnerabilities of the overall situation. Did you hear about the guy who “always wins” the long range shooting competition? Yeah, he didn’t think it was fair that he got eliminated in the first round since he always wins the competition. Round and round it goes. . . .

Mob Rule:
This is an appeal to the majority opinion, which, after all, must be valid since “everyone” thinks so. Those of us who value our liberty need to be aware of how this is used to manufacture consent. Using safety issues like terrorists, school shootings and other events to create fear in the minds of the majority in order to further an undermining of the second amendment are all too real examples.  “We need security cameras, metal detectors and facial recognition software installed on every street corner to catch anyone who is acting strangely because they might be a terrorist” would fall into this category.

Straw Man:
The person on the other side of the debate restates your opinion in an exaggerated form in order to make it sound ridiculous. This is a bit like putting words in your mouth. Unless you are aware of this tactic and knowledgeable about your topic, this is a very effective strategy. It puts you on the defensive and makes your position appear weak. Suppose you are debating gun control with some poor misguided soul. You support reducing firearms ownership regulations. In response to your position your opponent states “Well, if society goes along with your proposal we will soon have assault rifles in every school locker and gun fire in the hallways!”

Domino Effect:
This suggests that taking a certain action will be the first step along the path to a negative consequence or dire outcome. This type of argument assumes a chain of events will occur once the “first domino falls”. Here I will use an example that will strike a nerve for most of the SurvivalBlog readership: Allowing firearms registration will inevitably lead to the confiscation of our firearms. See what I mean? Instituting a national firearms registry would be stepping onto a slippery slope, and gun confiscation could be the outcome, but it is not a certainty.

Taking it to Extremes:
This is similar to the Straw Man tactic. It can be a sign that your opponent is getting angry, frustrated, or simply unable to refute your position with logic and evidence. Consider the couple who cannot agree on prepping. The wife is a serious prepper who feels that dedicating a significant portion of their monthly budget to preps is a wise course of action. The husband resists the idea since it would mean cutting back on golfing most weekends with his buddies. Finally in frustration he says “well why don’t we just take out a second mortgage and spend the kids college money to buy all that stuff!”

Hypothesis as Fact:
Attempting to put forth a statement about what might have happened in the past, or may happen in the future, if only circumstances were different. Like last Saturday when you were in the garage lovingly taking that 27th AR-15 out of the box when your spouse walked in. Now normally your spouse could only be described as a wellspring of love, understanding and support. However, for reasons unknown, last Saturday was a “new normal” for your spouse. Whether it was the red face, the vein bulging ominously in her forehead or her hands clenching and unclenching that gave her emotional state away is now somewhat hazy. What you do recall is the speed with which you sought, purely for her benefit, to bring her blood pressure down to a safe level. “Honey” you said “This here new AR was totally necessary, you see the Euro is going to implode, like tomorrow, next year for sure, and then all your family and cousins will be coming here to stay with us. . . . and that means I’m gonna have to give’em all something to protect themselves with. You want them to be protected don’t you honey? And you and me are gonna need some guns just for us now aren’t we?

Red Herring:
A common diversionary tactic to hide a weakness in an argument. It is used to confuse the issue and throw you “off the scent”. Say your wife discovers that second bulk ammo order that brings your store of 5.56 to a nice even 100,000 rounds (I know, I know, when it comes to ammo to much is never enough). She confronts you with the credit card statement and “that look” that starts to peel the skin off your face. You are desperate to gain advantage in the confrontation so you pull a “red herring” out of the matrimonial tool kit. “You know I did it for you and the kids honey” you stutter, “...besides nothing I do ever makes you happy. Heck, last weekend I painted the bedroom just like you wanted and now you don’t even like the color”.

Utilizing a statement that is inconsistent or you might say “doesn’t pass the sniff test”. For example, you are making the rounds at the gun show. At one dealer’s table the salesman is pushing pretty hard to sell you an AK clone with all the bells and whistles. In a low voice the salesman states that the gun is the best deal at the show, and besides, you should buy from him because “them other guys will say anything to get a sale”.

As you start to more quickly recognize when you employ these faulty methods of reasoning, or when they are being used against you the better your judgment will become. It was eye-opening to me to realize that most of us spend a majority of our time either using these tactics or being subjected to them. Very few people indeed are “straight talkers” who don’t resort to the methods outlined in the foregoing.

Now I would like to spend a few moments distinguishing between evidence, truth and belief by way of a thought experiment. I assume that as you read this you are sitting in a chair. How many of you believe in the chair? Well, that is kind of ridiculous since it exists, right? Okay, now, how many of you believe in gravity? I bet more than a few of you raised your hands. Those who are undecided and did not raise your hands are invited to go to an open window with your wife’s favorite flower vase, now extend your arm out the window and release the vase. Gravity is one of those things that you cannot see directly, but we have plenty of evidence that it exists. Therefore, like the chair, it isn’t a matter of belief, since no matter how hard you shut your eyes and believe that gravity doesn’t exist, it in fact does. You cannot  have a belief in something that exists. That gravity exists on Earth is a fact, just like it is a fact that the chair you are sitting on exists. No matter how hard you think or how strongly you believe to the contrary nothing changes that fact. You can ignore the evidence of the chair having mass and taking up space, but that will not save you busting your shins on it if you attempt to walk through it like it doesn’t exist.

Most people confuse their beliefs with truth. Beliefs are concepts and ideas that are not supported by evidence such as measurements of mass, volume, temperature etc... We all have beliefs of course, and beliefs can be very powerful. In fact, most people will continue in their beliefs despite overwhelming evidence against them. There are psychological studies that show 80% of people will ignore evidence that is contrary to their views and beliefs. To do so in times such as the ones we now face carries a high degree of risk. One possible example of this are people who cannot conceive of the U.S. Dollar inflating until it is practically worthless. There is plenty of evidence to support the idea, but many people simply will not consider it.

Working on distinguishing between what is true as shown by evidence, and what you feel is true based on your opinions and beliefs is a very powerful step towards developing better judgment. A very wise person once said to me that "an opinion should be the result of a thorough consideration of the evidence, not in place of it." It is my hope that these words resonate with you and support your efforts in securing a bright future for you and your loved ones.

JWR Adds: To properly equip your children (or yourself, if logic was a subject overlooked in your education), I recommend the short books The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning and The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills. Further,from a Christian perspective, to distinguish between scriptural truth and the lies of the secular humanist world, I recommend the lecture series The Truth Project, available on DVD.

Following two previously-mentioned Self-Reliance Expos in Denver, Colorado (September 16-17, 2011 (see the SurvivalBlog review here) and Salt Lake City, Utah (October 7-8, 2011), the National Self Reliance Organization (NSRO) began it's 2012 season with another weekend expo in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Returning Vendors

This expo again showcased a variety of enthusiastic and friendly survival, self-reliance and preparedness vendors and presenters. Many of the companies there are loyal SurvivalBlog advertisers. I enjoyed meeting many new vendors in person for the first time as well as those who had been at the September expo as well.

Among vendors returning to the expo with new offerings, Pantry Paratus added a new cheesemaking line to their existing product roster. Chelsea Green Publishing added several new titles to their books on sustainable living, including The Art of Fermentation, The Natural Building Companion, The Holistic Orchard, and The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. And of course our friends at Backwoods Home Magazine has added new issues which will now join the ranks with their extensive and popular back-issue inventory.

Other returning vendors included: American Preppers Network (self-reliance education), AquaPail (gravity-fed portable water treatment systems), Daily Bread (food storage, including freeze dried), DoTerra (dōTERRA essential oils), Emergency and Disaster Prep (food storage products for all types of personal crisis & disasters, backup & emergency power systems), EnerHealth Botanicals (cocoa, coconut milk, meal powder, etc.), FalloutX (radioactivity mitigation), Forge Survival Supply (Survival Cache gear), G & R Foods Inc. (nutritional powders, storable/canned foods, shredded cheeses), Humless (compact portable pure sine inverters with a generous assortment of output connectors), Life Sprouts (sprouters with a diverse assortment of sprouting seeds), LPC Survival (water filtration, storage and many other survival products), National Geographic (film crew for 'Doomsday Preppers' episode interviewing exhibitors and presenters), New Millennium Concepts (water purifiers), Project Appleseed (Revolutionary War Veterans Association, marksmanship clinics), School of Natural Healing (herbalist education, courseware), Shelf Reliance (food storage, racks, emergency kits), Solar Gadgets (solar phone chargers, flashlights), Sun Oven (solar cooking appliances), Ullrich Insurance (broker for various insurance companies), and UV Paqlite (reusable glow sticks).

New Vendors

I counted 39 new vendors, compared with 24 returning ones, so the NSRO expo venue is definitely growing and gaining momentum. In the arena of Alternate Energy, Lighting and Fuel, new vendors included ARC Solar Systems (compact portable power systems with a flexible PV component that rolls up into a storage cylinder slightly larger than a sleeping bag), InstaFire (storage fire starter/fuel), GO Solar (portable solar power systems), SoCal Flashlights LLC (Olight Brand Flashlights), and Survival Bottle (Instafire, flashlights, Legacy food storage, water bottles).

Currency and Exchange exhibitors included Ann Haney Ministries (Living In Abundance Couponing and Swiss America (precious metals).

In the Education, books and media category, we saw new exhibitors Colorado Springs Preppers (a local prepper network; also see American Preppers Network for more self-reliance education), Doom And Bloom (medical preparedness; Survival Medicine Handbook), The Survival Mom (book, a variety of survival products, online classes), Equip 2 Endure (Survival training courses, books), Richard Two Elk - Digital Video (Recording, editing, DVD authoring), Sea Cadets (Naval cadet programs), and Survival Quarterly Magazine (Survival magazine and DVDs. The magazine is edited by Karen Hood, the widow of the late Ron Hood).

Food, Food storage, stores, and distributors were represented by Everest Mountain Foods (freeze-dried and other foods), Freeze Dry Guy (Emergency Prep, Survival Food, Dehydrated Food, Camping Food, MREs), Grandma's Country Foods (foods, spices, milk, preparedness, storage containers, kitchen appliances, contract packaging), JarBOX (canning jar storage systems), Mace Enterprises, LLC - Legacy Premium - Lindon Farms (long-term emergency food storage; 801-369-8887. This brand is carried by several SurvivalBlog advertisers.), My Patriot Supply - Matt Redhawk (heirloom seeds/seed vaults, water, fire, food, survival gear, canning, books), Nova Chocolate (long term storage chocolate), Nutriom (Ova Easy storage eggs - low temperature process), The Pikes Peak Beekeepers Association (local, regional and national apiculture resources), Ready Reserve Foods (emergency preparedness products, disaster survival food and water supplies, ammo. Author's note: these folks have a long track record; their "squirrel logo" cans have been part of our family food storage for decades), Texas Ready (Liberty seed banks), and Tower Garden/Juice Plus (aeroponic vertical gardening system).

The new Health and Medicine vendors were AED Everywhere - Cardiac Science (Automated External Defibrillators), Austere Medical & Practical Preparedness Project (AMP-3 Medical kits & specialty gear), and Washington Homeopathic (Homeopathic remedies).

Shelter and Real Estate entries expanded with Cedar Log Systems (custom designed cedar log homes), Crazy Woman Realty (Buyer's Real Estate Agent), Growing Spaces (Geodesign Greenhouse kits - Author's note: I helped assemble one of these well-made kits for a friend many years ago who knew of my previous experience as an owner-builder of a (now-defunct brand, Cathedralite) dome home kit, in the 1970s. In addition to these and the monolithic domes noted below, (permanent and temporary) geodesic shelter companies such as Pacific Domes and DomeGuys International are worthy of consideration), Monolithic Domes (dome homes), Security Disaster Shelters (Single and Multi Unit Disaster Shelters), and The Shed Yard (Storage sheds, gazebos, garages).

In the Weapons and Defense department, there was OD Green Ammo Supply (303-941-8233), Hickman Rifles LLC (handguns, rifles, shotguns, custom weapons), and Snake Blocker (knives, clothing, DVDs).

The next scheduled Self-Reliance Expo will be in Dallas, Texas, July 27-28, 2012; a worthy pilgrimage for anyone within driving distance. Other expos will held be Hickory, North Carolina (September 14-15) and Mesa, Arizona (October 26-27.) The upcoming Dallas expo is featured here.

- L.K.O. (SurvivalBlog's Central Rockies Regional Editor)

Dear Editor:
This is in response to Your Get Home Plan by J.A.F.:  My commute is only one hour by train (about 25 miles.) This is a considerable distance to travel on foot.  I wear a suit while I'm at work, but I commute in jeans, button down shirt and hiking boots.  My suit goes into an Eagle Creek garment folder, and the shirt, pants and jacket come out of the folder looking pretty good, with few, if any, creases.  My dress shoes and belt stay in my office.  I use a CamelBak BFM bag that works year round, as it has the space for Goretex, fleece and any other snivel gear during the winter.  Inside Camelbak, I have the following:
1) Two Nalgene water bottles on each side, one of which fits into a metal cup I would use for boiling water.  The other Nalgene has about 10 feet of duct tape wrapped around it. 
2) Between my back and the pack there is a zip up pouch that usually holds the hydration bladder, but which I've replaced with two thermal blankets and two contractor weight plastic garbage bags that I can use for multiple purposes.
3) Inside, I have a 60 litre waterproof Storm Sack that I envision using to put the pack and my clothes in to ford any body of water that I need to.  I also have a 40 litre backpack cover for use in the rain.
4) I also have a well-stocked survival /medical trauma kit and a good three inch length fixed blade sheath knife.
Hope this gives you some good ideas. - Troglodyte

James Wesley:
In response to the article by the man that plans walking home from Washington, DC to a suburb up in Maryland.
I have a 'Razor' scooter that I bought from Wal-Mart for $110.  It will carry 220 pounds.  I use it with my kids.  But it is really an adult scooter.
The YouTuber NutnFancy has a couple of videos about using a scooters a get home vehicle in an emergency for commuters.  Not everyone has a car or bicycle.
He recommends an American made & more expensive model.  There are two American made scooters, Goped and Xootr. I believe one of these American made kick-scooters can carry 300-to-500 lbs. 
It's  pointed out that it might fit in a cabinet or big lockable drawer at work.  No one would 'think' to steal it if it was chain-locked under the desk.  Or, at least until after you got home 60 miles away in one day.
There are videos on YouTube about adults using kick-scooters for in city commuting  and from train stations to the office and back every day.
There are plenty of articles about scooters on the web.  This includes information about the wheels and which ones are best for wet-sidewalks and bumpy surfaces.  The cheapo one that I have will dump a person on their keester if they hit a big-crack in the concrete wrong. - Pat N.

JWR Adds: I concur that for "get me home" trips over short distances in urban areas, scooters make a lot of sense. Among the inexpensive imported scooters, the Micro brand scooter has larger wheels than the Razor, and is hence safer on rough pavement. (Look for inexpensive used ones on Craigslist.) In my estimation, adult-size kick scooters have three key advantages over bicycles: 1.) They are very compact when folded, so you can keep one stored in a spare file cabinet drawer or in a credenza at your office. 2.) They have solid rubber tires that can stand up to sharp road debris. (This is particularly important after an earthquake, hurricane, or tornado.) and 2.) They leave you less vulnerable to attack. (With a scooter, you are very low to the ground. So if an attacker rushes you, all you have to do is brake briefly, step off, draw a weapon, and take up a fighting stance. But on a bicycle, you sit much higher, and will probably be traveling faster. All it takes is a broomstick, baton, or a chunk of a tree branch thrust into the spinning wheel spokes, and you will be sent flying.) Granted, modern geared bicycles are the most efficient human-powered transport ever invented. But despite their relative inefficiency, kick scooters can play a key role in your "get home" planning.

Another ultralight flying video was just posted by TTabs: Bonners Ferry Idaho and the Bull River Valley Run - Trike Flying in Prepper Paradise. JWR's Comments: This one will be of particular interest to anyone considering North Idaho or Northwestern Montana for retreat locales. I have several consulting clients there, and they will be thrilled to see it. And, BTW, TTabs says that he plans to do additional"trike runs" at low altitude in the region and he'll include that footage in a follow-up video.

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K.T. suggested this essay: Passive Resistance is Futile

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Several readers sent this sad tale of decrepitude: Half of Detroit’s Streetlights May Go Out as City Shrinks

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Do you need a way to step up to your tree stand without drilling holes in a tree trunk? Treehooks.

"Sherif: Is there not one thing in your life that is worth losing everything for?" - Sean Connery as Raisuli, in The Wind and the Lion. (Screenplay by John Milius)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

JRH Enterprises is about to begin their annual Memorial Day weekend sale on Night Vision and Thermal Sight units. They have new Third Generation Pinnacle Autogated PVS-14 night vision monocular/sights with a five year warranty for as low as $2,695. Upgraded Versions are sale priced at $2,995. Also, check out the new Clip On Thermal Imaging (C.O.T.I.) unit that clips on the front of your night vision device and adds a thermal image to combine the best aspects of thermal imaging with the best aspects of normal light amplification night vision.


Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries received will likely run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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.

If you work outside the home, or go to school, or have responsibilities that take you away from home on a daily basis, you need to be prepared for crisis situations while you are not at your home base.  Before you can Bug-In you have to get home.  Even if you plan to Bug-Out, you may have to get home first because you need to coordinate with others in your family, or because you need to pick up supplies that you can’t take to work each day or because there are pets at home that must be cared for or brought with you.  So whether you plan to Bug-In or Bug-Out, if you work outside the home, you need a get home plan.

I know my situation is not unique, and I am sure there are many aspects of it that are common to others with concerns about the uncertainties of the future.  So I will tell you about my daily commute and then step through the planning I have done to help me get home in a crisis.  I Hope you can adapt some part of this to your own situation and I also hope that I receive comments and suggestions that will help me as well.

I work within a few blocks of the White House in the District of Columbia (DC), but I live in northern Maryland.  During rush hour, it would take about two and a half hours to drive from my home to work and involve going around Baltimore before getting into the DC traffic.  According to Google Maps, it is a driving distance of about 61 miles.  If I were to do that daily, I would have gone insane years ago.  Instead, I drive to a train station north of Baltimore and take a commuter train through the heart of Baltimore and down to Union station in DC.  From Union station I take the subway to a stop near the White House and walk to the office building I work in.  The total commute is about two hours each way. 

The challenge is that I am dependent on three different modes of transportation, car, train, and subway, any one of which could be compromised in an emergency (or in an EMP event perhaps all three would be affected).  In addition, I am in the middle of a potentially targeted urban area and have a second urban area between me and my home. 

In get home order, first is the subway.  The subway is periodically halted by accidents and maintenance issues.  Subways have been the object of terrorist attacks numerous times.  There have been fires here that have shut down the subway system.  But the subway is easy as I can avoid it entirely and walk to the train station in about thirty minutes.  Last summer (August 23, 2011), DC was hit with a highly unusual earthquake of 5.8 magnitude centered in Mineral, Virginia.  All the high buildings swayed, the city panicked and many people left early to get home.  The streets were crowded with people who had fled their offices and were trying to use their cell phones.  There was very little information available to help people.  Transportation web sites for the train system and the subway were not updated with their status for some time.  It was impossible to make calls using cell phones because the system was overloaded.  Text messaging did work sporadically and allowed messages home.  Since I did not know the status of the subway, I walked to the train station to avoid the possibility of it being out of order or overcrowded with panicked commuters. As it turned out, trains were delayed for several hours while they checked the tracks but I was eventually able to get home by train.

This means the first item for my Get Home Bag is a pair of walking shoes and socks, as walking a half hour in dress shoes is not a good idea if you can avoid it.

The second mode of transportation I am normally dependant on is the train.  It is the most critical in getting home, because it covers the majority of the distance and gets me out of one city and through another.  The train is periodically subject to major delays because of track problems, switch problems, accidents (pedestrians being hit), and equipment problems.  Even longer lasting problems could be caused by flooding such as followed hurricanes Irene and Isabel.  Trains may also be subject to social upheaval as the MARC/Amtrak lines run through the urban environments of DC and Baltimore.  EMP events may affect both the electric and diesel locomotives, shutting the system down for an extended period.  Financial upheaval could lead to strikes by train crews.  Problems with the electrical grid could shut down the whole system with dead trains blocking the main lines.

In the event that the trains cease to run while I am at work, there are several alternatives to help bridge the distance.  If the subway is running, I could take it to the edge of DC instead of getting off at Union Station.  This would save hours of walking and bypass the most potentially dangerous urban environment, starting me walking in a much friendlier suburban area.  There are a couple of different station stops I could choose but I am not very familiar with any of those areas.  I will need maps and preferably also a compass to make sure I can walk the best route north from any of them.

Alternatively, if the subway isn’t running there is an option of catching a ride north for some of the distance with someone leaving my building and heading the same direction.  I know of a couple of people who park in the underground garage below the building and whose cars may be functional even in the event of an EMP.  Once again though, I live much farther and would need maps and a compass to get from the northern most point they could take me the rest of the way home.

Lastly, I could walk from here.  This is the worst case and assumes subways, trains, and cars are incapacitated.  Probably only a severe EMP could lead to this.

In the best of the situations that would lead me to walk home, I would be walking about forty miles, in the worst case, sixty.  On foot, we are probably talking two to three days depending on route.  I already mentioned walking shoes.  In addition a change of clothes, jeans and a comfortable shirt instead of a suit and dress shirt would be more comfortable. We also need to provide nourishment for the trek.  At a minimum, we should have energy bars for two days, water, and a container one can fill with additional water.  I keep energy bars and bottled water in my office so I don’t have to carry them back and forth each day.  I can add them to my backpack when I leave should the situation require it.  I plan to carry at least ten dollars in singles as well as additional money.  The singles can be used in machines to buy water or snacks to see one through those two days on the road.  Since this may require me to camp out somewhere overnight, a thermal emergency  blanket can be used to stay warm.  A lightweight tarp (you can get an 8’ by 10’ with grommets for about $6) and paracord can be used to rig a shelter in some out-of-the-way spot.  You’ll need a pocket knife, or better yet, a multi-tool to

To make the trek home easier, I have preplanned routes from several locations: my office, subway stops, and also areas to which I might be able to get a ride.  On a few of those routes I have located stores that stock inexpensive bicycles costing about $250 or less.  This is one of the possible uses for the additional money I will carry.  I won’t know if the stores are open until I get to them but including them on the route increases my options.  Also, some of my alternative routes include rental car agencies.  It may be possible to rent a car, but if the grid is down, it is more likely you will be able to buy a bicycle than rent a car.

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power.  In a crisis, confusion and contradiction reign.  The more information you have the better.  It will allow you to maximize your chances.  When the earthquake hit last summer, no one knew the status of the subway or the trains.  Cell phones did not work.  Web sites weren’t updated.  No one had a radio.  I headed to the train station and that worked out.  But if the tracks had been damaged and the trains not running, I would have walked a half hour in a wrong direction for nothing.  To increase the chances of getting information, I will have a hand crank radio/flashlight/cell phone charger.  These are inexpensive and compact.  They will also allow me to keep my cell phone charged in case I am able to use it after leaving the city.  The flashlight will also come in handy walking after dark.  Check out the radio stations in advance to find the best local news channel.

In the kind of crisis we are talking about, with transportation down and potentially the electrical grid compromised, the streets will be full of people.  Many will be leaving the business and industrial areas trying to reach home.  Others will be gathering to watch the excitement and the anarchy of events.   Some of those will be ready to prey on anyone who looks weak and out of their element.  While on foot, stay with groups whenever possible, even if it means going out of your way.  Unfortunately, DC does not allow concealed carry, nor does Maryland at the current time.  Pepper Spray is the best legal means of self defense if it becomes necessary.  It allows some distance between you and the attacker.  The change of clothes you included should allow you to look less like a target.  Someone in old jeans and an old shirt will be less tempting to rob than someone in a suit and tie in a neighborhood where no one dresses like that. 

I have selected routes that avoid areas where crime is high.  I avoid short cuts that might save time but take me through more questionable areas.  The routes make use of the largest roads, not side streets.  But in practice, be ready to move off those roads to avoid mobs and violent situations.  My routes will get me out of urban areas as quickly as possible and keep me out of them even though it means a longer walk around to reach home.

This plan has to be adjusted with the seasons.  In January, it may make more sense to stay in the office and wait out the crisis than try to walk sixty miles in subfreezing weather.  Also you might want to substitute boots and warmer clothes in the Get Home Bag (or store them where you work).

In a plan of this kind, you must constantly re-evaluate.  You provide yourself the tools you think you will need, you get as much information as you can, and then you take action.  But you never commit to only one plan.  Re-evaluate and change the plan/route to fit the circumstances. 

The Get Home Bag
1.       Walking Shoes and socks
2.       Maps and a Compass
3.       A change of clothes
4.       Energy Bars
5.       Water
6.       Extra Water Container
7.       Ten dollars in singles and additional money ($250)
8.       Thermal Emergency Blanket
9.       Tarp
10.   Paracord
11.   Hand crank radio/flashlight/cell phone charger
12.   Pepper Spray
13.   Multi-tool

Growing up, I was never the "Jock" in my family. As the youngest of four boys, I spent a good bit of childhood as a grappling dummy and punching bag. I played soccer and swam on the team but I really preferred spending time exploring nature, building forts, pyrotechnics, reading, and tapping into my imagination. My father is an Air Force Academy graduate and Vietnam veteran who instilled the basics of survival skills in us and focused on cultivating a strong work ethic and obedience amongst his sons. When I was about ten years old, I joined the Boy Scouts of America and to this day never lost sight of the Scout Motto to Be Prepared.

Fast forward twenty years and I’m thirty-one, married with two kids, and I watch the state of our world with skepticism after the financial crisis in 2008 and a couple personal black swans. Living in the Carolina Piedmont, I always made sure I had some extra water, food, and batteries on hand for hurricane season but up until the last couple months my preparations could be considered bare bones at best. There is so much more to be mindful of today with protracted wars, social unrest, encroaching totalitarianism, nuclear disaster, and a looming hell storm of a correction for the global economy, that I would be a fool not to tighten up my emergency preparations.

Take a spin around the Internet and you’ll find an abundance of preparedness sites showcasing advice, gear, food storage, and hydration supplies. One glaring aspect of the survival mentality I frequently see overlooked is the necessity for physical fitness. I am not judging but find myself baffled when I see obese individuals (for instance on the Doomsday Preppers show) espousing the virtues and benefits of prepping. I ask myself how they are going to carry that bug-out bag and all that gear more than 100 yards without promptly succumbing to fatigue. A prepper must be strong enough to handle the physical requirements of chopping wood, harvesting game, hiking challenging terrain, micro-farming, grinding grains, along with executing defensive and offensive tactics. Consider that if you aren’t currently performing or routinely simulating some or all of such aforementioned behaviors, you’ll be hurting with more than blisters and a sore back when the SHTF.

The good news is achieving the strength and endurance required for survival situations is simple, requires little to no equipment, and can be achieved with less than thirty minutes each day. Don’t get me wrong- simple doesn’t mean easy. And the exercises a prepper needs to incorporate in their daily lifestyle will force an individual to dig deep and push his/ herself beyond their comfort zone when they want to submit. We want to focus on intensity over volume. Luckily, most preppers I know already possess degrees of intensity beyond the average citizen.

Now I am no Olympian or physical specimen. However, I do have almost ten years of unarmed combat training which provided a fun, engaging foundation for my survival strength. I encourage all preppers to take some form of martial arts whether it be boxing, judo, Silat, Krav Maga, or a traditional martial art from the local McDojo. You’ll learn valuable skills and cultivate an active lifestyle without the mundane habits of the folks you see doing the same old routine ad nauseam at the local health club.

If you don’t have access to a martial arts school or instructor, fear not. We’ll get you whipped into prepper shape in no time. For those who are overweight or out-of-shape, you must work incrementally toward your goals. Without a baseline level of fitness, trying to overexert yourself by lifting too much weight or not allowing time for rest/recovery will result in injuries, fatigue, and burn-out. As Henry Rollins said, “The Iron never lies,” and she can be a cruel mistress if you don’t respect her. One key to a healthy start is gauging your current abilities and gradually increasing weight, repetitions, and intensity of your routine over time. For all intents and purposes, I’m going to steer this article for fitness virgins or those stuck in the same-old routine. It might be best for those unfamiliar with fitness to check in with their wellness provider for some guidance and be sure there are no unforeseen ailments lingering about before jumping into these challenging and rewarding exercises. 

The primary components of fitness we need to focus on are strength, endurance, and mental fortitude. Here are a couple tests you should perform to evaluate your abilities:

- Can you perform a push-up? How many?
- Can you perform a sit-up? How many?
- Can you perform a dead-hang (suspend yourself)? How long did you hang?
- Can you jog a mile? What time did you clock in?

Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and jogging are great baseline indicators for your strength and endurance level. All require little investment other than some sweat, a pair of running shoes, and a playground or low-hanging tree limb.

Let’s say you couldn’t get your torso off the ground with push-ups and sit-ups. You dropped like a rock into a pond on the dead-hang. You were sucking wind the first ten feet into the mile jog. This would tell us you are certifiably out of survival shape and can’t even support your bodyweight. It should also tell you while the rest of us are sprinting for the spider hole, booking our G.O.O.D. bags through the mountains, and harvesting crops in our Liberty gardens, you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting rounded up and tossed in a FEMA camp. Life when the SHTF will require us to be tough and push, pull, run, climb, lift, and carry a variety of odd-shaped objects in an infinite amount of situations. Nearly all the tasks required to survive rely on our whole body working as one machine. Take heart that in all actuality, you need little more than your bodyweight to get into excellent shape and cultivate such abilities.

If there is one principle for both the athlete and the terminally unfit to memorize and live by it is Greasing the Groove. Unless you are of beyond-average financial means, most of us preppers scrimp, save, and incrementally acquire our supplies of food, water, gear, and retreat. Little by little, we should acquire what we need to survive without enslaving ourselves with debt. We search pawn shops, thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets for deals and bargains. This behavior embodies greasing the groove and the same can be applied to fitness. We start with a small, attainable goal and work ourselves toward that goal inch-by-inch, even millimeter-by-millimeter if necessary, and grease the groove until it flows. Then we set new goals when we catch ourselves feeling comfortable.

Five years ago, I couldn’t do one pull-up. That baffled and shamed me because I thought after years of martial arts I would have been stronger. So I began doing research about pull-up mechanics and strategy and came across a web site ( which emphasizes low-tech, high intensity approaches to fitness. The writings of Ross Enamit, the founder of, introduced me to the concept of greasing the groove which comes down to breaking up a challenging movement/behavior/goal into small, attainable bites and being persistent on your course until you achieve success. There was a low oak branch in my backyard and I vowed to perform one pull-up within a week. First I began by hanging from that branch with my arms extended for as long as possible. I’d go outside, hang for a couple seconds, and go on with my gardening or yard work. An hour or so later, I’d come back and hang again. After a couple days of doing a couple sets of dead-hangs on and off, I transitioned to holding myself up at the top of the branch. I’d grab the branch, jump up, and cling as best I could with my chin above the tree limb. If you can’t jump yourself up to the top of your bar or branch, use a chair to get up there. A couple sets off and on over the course of a day and within two days I had greased the groove until I could hold myself up for twenty seconds. My confidence was up and it came time to test this whole greasing of the groove thing so I decided to start from a dead-hang and pull myself up to the top of the branch. And it worked. Not only could I perform one pull-up but I did two! Then I stopped and came back a half an hour later and did another two pull-ups. Progress inspired me. Today I can do nine pull-ups in a set without feeling overly-fatigued. Greasing the groove worked and it should be applied to all exercises and routines.

Functionality is tantamount to many factors when considering our supplies and skills. The same goes for exercises. Strength training, conditioning, and endurance are equally important. We have to forge ourselves through fitness and be able to lift our 60 to 80 lbs. bug-out bag onto our backs then hike it for miles on end, find water, set-up shelter, secure our perimeter, and refuel without succumbing to exhaustion. Functional, full body fitness has gone mainstream with the explosion of Crossfit, P90X, and other such strength/endurance hybrid training programs. I know numerous people getting great results from such programs but since many preppers are DIY kind of folks, they will be able to get in great shape with no more than a jump rope, an exercise mat, a bar strong enough to support their weight, and perhaps a couple free weights. We want our training to challenge, and not just maintain, the muscles and energy systems our body uses to put us in locomotion.

In Ross Enamit’s book, Infinite Intensity, he presents a fitness routine framework the reader is encouraged to tailor to their own abilities. To loosely paraphrase without plagiarizing it starts with:

Day 1) Strength and Conditioning
Day 2) Interval Training
Day 3) Strength Training
Day 4) General Physical Preparedness Training
Day 5) Rest

Sometimes I follow the four days-on, one day-off recommendation. If I have a really taxing work-out and my body tells me to rest the next day, I do it. Or if I spend the day after a work-out being very active by going on walks with the family, practicing empty hands combat skills, playing hard with my kids, or working in the yard, I might work-out every other day. The key is finding what routine and methodology works best for you as long as you are working smart and making gains on your strength and endurance abilities. Be sure to get a notebook and keep track because written goals and tracked results are powerful motivators with patience and experience as the ultimate teachers. 

I recommend everybody starts with a warm-up period for both your work-outs and to ease into your initial weeks of a new fitness routine. A bit of light jogging, a couple low-rep sets of push-ups, jumping rope for a couple minutes, yoga poses, shadowboxing, arm rotations, etcetera, will get your blood pumping and muscles, joints, and ligaments prepared for action. I’m not a fan of static stretching while cold (think just bending over and trying to touch your toes first thing in the morning). Consider the warm-up period your “pre-hab” to help prevent injuries. If you can simulate a couple of the movements you’ll be doing during your routine that day (the pros call these sport-specific movements), then all the better. You are training your mind for what lies ahead as much as your body. And without oxygen, your mind and muscles strain so be sure to breathe through all movements and be mindful of calming down your heart rate after exertion. As you wrap up your exercise for the day, take five to ten minutes to walk around, stretch out, or use a tennis ball or foam roller to work on sore, knotted muscles. This cool-down period will help your body transition into the recovery process and prepare for the work tomorrow.

A great warm-up for preppers would be to set their ALICE pack on the ground, pick it up and get it secured, take it off, and set it down, ten times in a row (alternate the arm you first start threading through the straps  to maintain muscular balance). In fact, I think the best warm-up for a prepper establishing that baseline level of fitness is to muck that fully-loaded survival pack around for an hour, 3-4 times a week for two to four weeks. We did the same thing in Boy Scouts to prepare ourselves for High Adventure trips to the Philmont Ranch out west or Sea Base in the Florida Keys. If you soon discover you need to drop some weight from your pack, by all means lighten the load, but also take careful stock of your limits and the provisions you must do without. After two to three weeks, you will be ready to move on to additional exercises and accelerate your fitness gains.

Here are a couple strength exercises to get you started. These movements will build muscle and expand cardiovascular capacity. They will improve your ability to lift odd-shaped objects like rain barrels, loaded wheelbarrows, and ammo cans, and get your whole body working as a unit. They will contribute to your overall general physical preparedness. You can readily find demonstrations of the exercises I’m listing on the Internet (search YouTube) or in fitness books available at public libraries. Research the movements in detail and seek out credible sources for tutorials. All can be performed with little or no need to purchase equipment if you are determined and not willing to accept excuses. Pull-ups, push-ups, presses, dips, prisoner squats, bug-out bag lifts, sand bag carrying, isometrics, lunges, and step-ups are only a few low-tech options which will challenge you and simulate many of the movements and actions we’ll need to perform when the Schumer hits the fan. Try to do about five to seven of these different exercises during a work-out. Start with two to four sets of the exercise you choose and perform between four to eight reps without pushing your muscles to failure. As you progress in your physical preparations, you can periodically work toward your current physical limits or move greater loads to push beyond plateaus and test your will. Once again, grease the groove. It always works when combined with determination.   

After two weeks of forced marches with your bug-out bag, you’ll have given a nice boost to the lungs and laid a foundation for your conditioning routine. Conditioning exercises will test and improve your agility, speed, strength, and cardiovascular capacity. Do you want just one extra tank of gas in your supply inventory or forty extra tanks? Same goes with your body. Consistent effort, repetition, and limited rest periods between sets will quickly-boost your endurance levels. Conditioning exercises can be as simple as a couple rounds of jumping rope at various speeds, brief bursts of running/sprinting hills, and laps in the pool. More advanced options include free weight or kettle bell swings, cleans, jerks, and presses to test your muscles and lungs and brain. Marching over hills or mountain trails would both serve as excellent conditioning exercises. One of the best parts of conditioning routines is they don’t need to be long to be effective. In fact, a Japanese scientist named Izumi Tabata discovered athletes made tremendous improvements in their conditioning and work capacity, metabolism of glucose, and the burning of fat by exerting high intensity effort for twenty seconds and actively-resting for ten seconds. When performed in 20 second work and 10 second rest cycles, high intensity interval training (HIIT) will boost your cardiovascular abilities. The best part is many HIIT exercises (cycling, sprinting, jumping rope) can bring results when performed in as little as a single four minute (or less) set. If you need to perform longer or more varied intervals than suggested by the Tabata Protocol, than customize your interval training as you see fit.

In my opinion, there is no better exercise for building your conditioning, endurance, and mental fortitude than the much-abhorred and much-lauded burpee. What is a burpee you ask? Well it is the unholy love-child of a push-up and jump squat repeated until your heart is beating like a drum and your breakfast is creeping up your throat. Burpees will humble even the fittest of athletes and bring exponential gains to the beginner and experienced alike. You start standing with your feet hips width apart and your hands at your sides. Bend forward and place your hands in front of your feet. Kick your legs back so you are in a plank position (the starting position/apex of a push-up). Lower your body down until your chest touches the ground then push yourself back up. Hop your feet back (beginners should step or walk their feet) behind your hands and as you start to stand upright use your legs to spring yourself into the air like a basketball player shooting a free-throw. Rinse and repeat. When everything is telling you to quit, you must perform at least one more repetition. You’ll teach yourself that you are always capable of a little more effort (even if you fail to complete the whole range of motion) and you’ll be conditioning yourself to fight fatigue and push through adversity with sheer will power.  Continue to increase the reps as you make gains and improve work capacity. Burpees are "sick and merciless" and they will make you a mental warrior with a 100 gallon gas tank and napalm in your guts.  

To date, I’ve found a diverse routine consisting of calisthenics, free weights, jumping rope, running hills, swimming, interval training, and close-quarters-combat training, four to six days a week has me in better shape at 31 than when I was swimming the 400 meter freestyle in high school. But I would never be in this place if I hadn’t respected the iron and greased the groove. This back-to-basics approach to fitness (where you don’t require a gym and consistently focus on pushing yourself to new levels of strength and conditioning) will fortify your mind, body, and spirit for trying times when the SHTF or we experience TEOTWAWKI. A solid strength and conditioning routine will also keep you healthy and capable to handle the physical demands of our rapidly changing society. I hope this article helps the fit become fitter and encourages the out-of-shape and overweight members of the prepper community to drop the excuses and start greasing the groove. Remember to always eat your vegetables and there is no better time to start than now.

Hi Jim & Family,
SurvivalBlog readers will be interested in this new DVD titled "Alternatives To Dentists".  It contains very effective techniques for daily hygiene, treating and preventing cavities, even healing abscessed teeth - and how to do this in a grid down, primitive, "no dentist available" scenario.  The presenter is Doug Simons who has been using these techniques for himself and his patients for almost 30 years.  Doug has a bit of a 'tree hugger' in him, but the information is solid and well worth having in any survivalists library. You'll love it. - Greyback Mountain

Lee M. suggested an outstanding tabular list, over at the Preparedness Advice Blog: Common Chemical Names. (This, BTW, is a good list to print out in hard copy for your home workshop reference binder. It might be crucial if you need to translate any chemical formulas from pre-1923 formularies.)

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Ian in England sent this: Police to extract and permanently retain mobile phone data in UK

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A piece recommended at The Woodpile Report by Ol' Remus: OPSEC: It Begins With You

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The lists of cyber threats keeps expanding: Insulin Pump Hack Controversy Grows

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Sad Silent Key News: I just heard that Ben Nichols of Texas, callsign KK6AS, has passed away. He will be missed by many in the ham world. BTW, it was Ben that first clued me in about G5RV antennas.

"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries received will likely run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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 was born and raised on a farm, lived military and worked all my life, so I am accustomed to hard work and understand the need for a strong physical body. After years of working 10-12 hours a day, I decided to go back to college at nights to get a degree in pastoral studies, so I could keep busy during my ‘retirement’ years. In August, 2005 my life changed with a bad accident, now, disabled and in a wheelchair, my life is upside down and for me it was TEOTWAWKI.  I have always been a prepper and I’m not really sure why, a habit passed down in our family since the great depression. I never ever realized the importance of it until that day.  I am now a firm believer that all people need to be aware of what can happen and to be more prepared for all possibilities. Suddenly I couldn’t work, was facing multiple surgeries and the whole world looked different. Let me tell you now, everything we’ve been told about assistance if you ever become disabled is……..not the truth. For 14 months afterward I had no income and nothing but medical bills and no insurance (COBRA insurance was more expensive than the mortgage.) My choices became clear, sell everything I own (even though I could not prepare it for sale) and move into a nursing home, or get help at home. Luckily, my daughter and grandson moved in with me. We lived off our savings and food storage. I taught my family to forage, seems like in all our years of plenty, I have forgotten to teach my children and grandchildren the skills my grandmother taught me as a child. We ate our salads from the front yard and our garden; the food storage carried us through along with thoughtful friends who would at first bring in meals or a cake or pie. We saved the home, barely.

 Everyone needs to think now about what you would do if someone became disabled during SHTF and how you would care for them.  We now consider ourselves lucky we have already prepared for health related issues. Most preppers I know are my age, Viet Nam era people, we older preppers need to cover all our contingencies, as age itself has its own problems. Have you thought about how you might transport, lift, mobilize and care for a handicap or elderly loved one? Think about it now, even if no one in the family is currently handicap, you never know when something will happen. Anyone who is an active, healthy and disciplined person today can be disabled tomorrow. It could hit you like it did me, literally out of the blue, on a Friday night.

Initially I did not think about our prepping supplies or bug-out locations, only about making it from one day to the next. Now in a wheelchair, the house had to be modified, adaptive aids purchased, a ramp had to be built, our home had to be rearranged, lifts had to be installed, doorways widened and a disability van purchased. These things took extra money I did not have. Modifying our prepper supplies had to wait, and modifying our bug-out locations was way in the future. But now, years down the road, some of what I learned is that no amount of money saved is enough, unless you are in the 1%. One year of food storage is not enough, it can be stretched and stretched, but when it is gone it is most definitely gone. People won’t look at you the same, and that is fine, you don’t see them in the same light either. Some people who professed to be your best friend won’t be found anywhere. And most importantly, you will reevaluate your life and everything in it, including your faith. In times like these, you need to go ahead and pull out the good china and crystal to use every day, “enjoy it now” became my theme. I wish I had done that earlier in life. 

Many survivalists believe in the ‘survival of the fittest’ theory, and would be the first to leave the disabled and handicapped behind. There is something to be said for that, for if I become a burden to my family, as hard as it would be, I know that I would have to stay behind and let them go on. That would be very, very hard for me and for them, but we have discussed it to great lengths and all understand that it could be inevitable. Once said and understood by all, next step is to plan around my disabilities and see how to incorporate these new needs. I realized physically, I need the same thing as everyone else; food, water, shelter, self-defense, a potty, a place to sleep and something to read (my Bible), only my needs are now met in a different way.  We realized we don’t need two sets of preps; my preparations can work for the whole family, while their preparations won’t work for me. Sometimes I feel I am a burden to the family when they remind me that I bring wisdom, humor and hugs to the table. I know ways to defend my family, ways to gather and grow food, how to sew and make anything we need without a pattern and how to wiggle thru life to thrive, not just to survive. Everyone who has life can contribute something, even if it is just the gift of their presences, never, never discount a handicap or disabled person as less than human.

It goes without saying, if you have an electric wheelchair, always keep it charged. I have my charging unit in a backpack over the back handles of my wheelchair, so it is always with me. Have an alternate way to charge it, like a small generator or independent power supply system. My wheelchair has hidden pockets where I can keep pepper spray/mace or a weapon. Many handicap persons are not capable of handling or carrying a handgun or weapon. Also, not all physically handicapped persons are mentally handicapped. I have been surprised since my accident how many people have spoken to me in baby talk or less expecting that since I am in a wheelchair, I’m probably mentally challenged also. I want to hit those people, not only for thinking something so stupid, but for every mentally challenged person out there that has had to put up with stupid people like that. People also tend to find handicap people as vulnerable, and treat us that way. Thank goodness I already had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. My attitude is ‘don’t mess with me, in or out of my wheelchair’ It’s important not to look vulnerable, even the home. When someone looks at your home and sees a ramp, automatically you become a target. Our handicap ramp is to the side and landscaped in a way it doesn’t show. Disability license plates give you away also, so it is smarter to use a removable "hang ticket" [attached to the rearview mirror] instead of a plate.

Many modifications can be made at home, for instance; my daughter created an easy chair for me by adding heavy duty caster rollers to the legs of a plastic outdoor yard chair, it is really handy and easy for us all. My wheelchair can also be used to transport barrels of water, cast iron cookpots, sandbags and other heavy items. Transfer boards can be made from any heavy plastic or smooth wooden boards and used to move any heavy object from one place to another.  Sock pullers can be made from old bleach bottles and a bit of rope by cutting off the top and bottom and slitting the side then attaching long rope handles. The sock is then placed on top of the bottle and pulled onto the foot.

We realized we needed to make minor changes to our accessory bug-out sites also. We have four bug-out locations, one in each direction. Some are in conjunction with other family members, some are only for us, depending on which way we have to travel (hopefully we would not have to travel and could hunker down here at home).  Many of the little things I don’t need everyday any more, we have moved to our ‘Bugoutmobile’ to ease the burden. I suggest people consider adding bed wedges, adult diapers, transfer boards, reachers, portable handicap potties, rollator or walker, small portable lift system, and transfer chairs to their preps. If you have these accessories you will be able to care for almost anyone in any situation.

But the most important thing is to nurture close family relationships, as nothing can be more important to your survival. Do whatever it takes to keep your family first, to keep you all together and to learn to live with each other in a confined area. Everyone has to sacrifice; everyone has to give, to live in a happy community atmosphere. You have to diligently work to achieve family accord; it doesn’t come automatically just because you are all family. Practicing now dealing with your family in a confined space will let your family learn what traits they need to work on, because when SHTF you may have wished you had already learned this lesson and already worked out these issues. Also, living in a confined space, you may reconsider how many beans you have in storage.

 I’d like to share some things that may help someone else, things I learned the hard way. There is a difference between early, regular and disabled pension. If you must leave work due to an accident to take your pension, take a disability pension. There is a difference between transfer chair, wheelchairs and electric chairs. Transfer chairs are lightweight and inexpensive for temporary use (or prepping), wheel chairs are manual heavy duty, and electric chairs are wheelchairs that are battery pack for people who do not have full use their arms. Some auto manufactures will give you a discount for ordering a new disability fully-equipped van (some changes to policy have been made since the recession of 2008). The National Park system issues ‘Access Passes’ granting free access to a permanently disabled person good for the rest of their lifetime. Look for assistance from Community Action groups (like Agency on Aging) not from where you would expect. Adaptive aids make all the difference in the world. Items like reachers, transfer boards, leg lifters, bed wedges, bathroom and dressing aids, wheeled carts and baskets, sock pullers and gel pads are all helpful for older preppers.  Prepping is for hard times, and in hard times you still need to make life as simple as possible. All older preppers as well as those with a disabled family member should consider looking carefully at your in-home and bug-out supplies.    

There were cocky young men in my office that stood over me and defiantly said they would never be disabled, it would never happen to them, they are strong and would overcome any physical injury. Well, I probably felt the same way when I was around 17 years old. But I have learned over the years that nothing is impossible, everything isn’t what it professes to be, you can count your true friends on one hand and taking care of your family is a virtue, whatever their condition.  So believe in miracles and prepare for anything, even disability.

If you would like to add these two sites to your bookmarks, it took me forever to find these places for things I needed: and

Everyone is familiar with planning for "The End Of The World As We Know It" (TEOTWAWKI).  Our long and costly preparations that we make in order to survive the massive disaster that will one day change our present way of living. We try to predict what type of disaster may happen and plan accordingly. It may be plans to survive the coming economic collapse, some form of EMP whether be it solar or man made, or some form of a global pandemic, the list goes on and on. I enlisted in the US Coast Guard back in 1975 and took our motto, Semper Paratus ("Always Prepared") to heart.

All the years of climbing up the sides of ships at sea using a Jacobs ladder to conduct Law Enforcement (L/E) boardings or the thousands of hours running small boats to conduct Search and Rescue (SAR). I never dreamed that I would have three life changing events. Each one being something that would be "The End Of My World As I Knew It".  The first was in 1994 when I was involved in an auto accident where I lost my first wife and son which not only took some of the physical life out of my body but took its emotional toll also. The second was in 2002 when I went through a very bad divorce and lost 88 acres of very well set up survival property. The last was in December of 2004  at age 47 when I found out my body was being attacked by a disease know as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Not only is this a physical disease which one day may lead to being crippled, but you have to try and imagine the emotional toll it takes also. In the few months it took the Coast Guard to process my medical discharge, I went from employed to unemployed.
People who are young and in good physical shape never dream of one day that something may happen that will change their lives and how they must cope with it after.  It doesn't have to be a disease that changes your life but may be something as simple as just growing old. I feel that I'm one of the lucky ones who has this disease, I'm still able to walk, not very far at one time, not in the heat and many times with the help of a cane, but every morning when I get out of bed and I'm able to walk to the bathroom on my own, its the start of a good day and "Life is Good". Many years ago if I needed to walk some place it all just came naturally, now I need to concentrate on every step I take. There are many things in life that I can no longer do but I have to be positive and be thankful for the things that I still can. 

Needless to say this has changed the way I have to make preparations to survive not just TEOTWAWKI, but each and every day. Living with this for 8 years now, I have pretty much learned my limitations. I know that I cannot handle temperatures much above 80 degrees or below 40, so this determines where in the country I can live. I know I have a left side weakness and that I will fatigue quickly if I overdue any physical activity, so this tells me that bugging out on foot carrying supplies is not happening.  At present I'm able to get a three month supply of my medications at a time but one day the supply may run out due to some future disaster.

People who are dependent on medications may only be able to get a 30 day supply at a time either due to the type of medication or insurance reasons. I would suggest that you sit down with your Dr. and explain your concerns as to your limited availability of medications. Maybe there is something he or she can do to at least get you on a 90 day supply at a time. Depending on the type of your medication it may require refrigeration. This is something you will have to make plans for in the event you have a loss of power. For the people who fall into this category I suggest a small economical generator that will run a small refrigerator or for a longer lasting system you should look into a solar panel system that will run a 12 volt DC camper cooler.       

Knowing ones limitations is an eye opener and we need to plan accordingly. Many of you for now may be in good health or physical condition but you cannot foresee the future and what your abilities will be when you get older. My brother many years ago lost some of his fingers while using a table saw and this has greatly changed what he can do and how he needs to do it, such as shooting a rifle. I was talking with him the other night and he mentioned at the age of 60 he is not going to hike into the woods, shoot a 140 pound deer and drag it two miles out as he was able to do in his younger days. I know that JWR in one of his articles here mentions ways to bring the game to you but depending on the type of disaster, it may come down to more hunters in the woods than game.

Knowing that one day you may be in the position where you cannot hunt or grow your own food you should stock up on the wide variety of Emergency Foods that have been processed and packed for long term storage. Its expensive and can take up a lot of room depending on how much you decide to stock up on, but if you plan accordingly now you will be much better off in the long run. In emergency preparedness you cannot think of the here and now, you have to think way down the road.  What kind of physical condition do you think you will be in 10, 20 or 30 years from now if you live a normal healthy life?

As you make your plans in preparedness now, think if you can still carry out your plan if you no longer have the use of your strong hand or your strength and stamina is not like it use to be. What if you have trouble walking or your eye sight is failing, can you still use the systems you have put in place for survival? Over the past few years it seems more and more people in my age group (mid-50s) are having hip or knee replacement. Many times they come back stronger than they were up to before the surgery, but what would you do if you needed the surgery in the middle of a disaster it cannot be done. In my younger days the further out in the country and away from people I could get the better it was. Now that I'm older and have a disability I feel being closer to neighbors and medical facilities has become more important for my daily survival.        

In my family, I'm the youngest of three boys. It was in 1994 when I had my accident, in the late 1990s is when my eldest brother lost some of his fingers. Then, in 2010 the middle brother was in an auto accident and now has a steel rod  in his leg. Hopefully its not that we are a hard luck family, but accidents do happen. One never plans on being in an accident or having a medical problem, but maybe in the making of our preparations for TEOTWAWKI we should plan as if we may.            

In the making of all your preparations have you set up plans to include someone in your family not being able to carry their share of the load or needing special attention? Do you have a family member in a nursing home? Knowing what may happen to them would you leave them there or pull them out to live with you? How about a child with special needs, have you planned for the caring of them? You can find tons of information in books, tv shows and on the internet on theories of what may happen in the event of some form of disaster and many thoughts on how and what you should do to prepare, but no one can tell you how your going to react to being informed of a disease or how you will recover mentally and physically from an accident or the death of a loved one.

It's better to re-arrange your plans and make the adjustments now than to continue on spending money and setting up systems that one day you may not be able to use. Do you have a bunker you need to climb down into? Do you need to hike any distance to your bug out location (BOL)? For your water supply will you have to carry it up from a stream in buckets? Do you rely on cutting down trees and splitting them up for firewood? Do you have to shovel or plow snow each year from around your walks or driveway? Do you have to shovel the heavy snow off the roof of your house after a hard winter storm? If you can do it now, will you be able to do it 10 years from now? Do you have stashes of supplies that are in hard to access places? Are the majority of your supplies in heavy bulk items?
If you want to have an idea what things might be like, try these few simple exercises. Tape the thumb of your strong hand to the side of your hand. Now try to do some simple things like: opening up a can of beans with a manual can opener, shooting your pistol or rifle, riding your motorcycle or bicycle, getting dressed or using the bathroom. Just spend an entire day doing your normal things in life and see how it works out. Now for the second test, put your strong arm in a sling, bind it to you body and spend the day again doing normal living. How do you feel about climbing a ladder, can you still shoot your weapons, how about carrying a box of your supplies, can you pull out your generator and fire it up, can you still use a hammer and nails to make a simple repair? Want one more exercise? Place an eye patch over your strong eye and again go about your daily routine. One thing you should really test with this one is shooting from strong eye to weak eye. The reason I ask you to bind your strong side is, this will give you an idea faster of your limitations when you have to use your weak side for daily living.

For me, I have found out that I can no longer drive a vehicle with a clutch, including a motorcycle.  I cannot walk much more than 100 yards without getting tired and needing rest. When I go shopping I usually find a cart in the parking lot and use that for my support while walking. I do not handle stairs very well or climbing hills. I cannot be out in the heat or in the cold for very long. I do not operate any power equipment without having a cell phone or when my wife is not home. Because of the weakness of my left hand, I no longer carry items in two hands, I may drop the item in my left and also I need one free in case I trip and fall. If I have 6 bags of groceries to carry in, it takes me 6 trips. Some days I have energy and some days I don't. I don't go anywhere now without my reading glasses. I know when my body is getting fatigued and I need to sit down and rest. One day it was in the middle of Lowe's on a pallet of drywall compound for about 10 minutes until I could make it out to my car for a short nap.

When I bought my current house back in 2003, I bought it for the location with prepping and survival in mind more than the design of the house. I had not been diagnosed with my MS yet so I had no idea that one day it would not be wheelchair friendly if I need to go that route. Even now with the things I have put in place for prepping I may have to either abandon all this one day for a place I can live and move around in or tear this one down and build new. Before I use to be able to work construction around the house doing all my own repairs and projects, now I need to hire them out. Due to no fault of my own, I hate to say it, but in some things I have become dependent on others for help. I do not run anywhere and I know my reactions are not quick.

My strongest assets which makes me know that I will be a survivor is I have been in the "Valley of the Shadow of Death" and my God has carried me out on more than one occasion and he will carry me through anything. Through him, I have a very strong positive attitude. Good luck in your adventures and preps.

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
I would like to offer a personal experience with a situation that might help Deborah C. and others like her.  First of all she was very honest in her assessment of a future event and her concerns she mentioned and I think all Preppers have thoughts or experiences or thoughts that parallel Deborah's to some extent.  Future events, are unknowns for most and the 'fears/concerns' are valid, however how we react to or even function is helped by addressing the potential situation in the here and now.   The adage we often hear in the Prepping community "Hope for the best and plan for the worst", has the best  attitude, hope and understanding for overcoming a future potential events.
My personal example that shook my world, took place in the 1980s while I was residing in Colorado on the Front Range between Denver and Colorado Springs, I witnessed a 100%  attitude change in a group of mostly women  that worked with my wife in Denver.  These people where anti-gun, and self-protection was something that you left to the local police dept.   My background in Firearms ownership, and hunting was a danger sign to these for the most part left wing people.   The thought of having to hold a gun, let alone fire one was a very bad thing .  At social functions, I was amazed and saddened at the positions and responses that these anti-gun people held.  I would debate it  to a point, but after a while would consider that you can not argue with an ignorant person and would  realize it was not worth further discussion. 
However, an event happened that shook their beliefs and amazed me. My wife's secretary lived in a home in Castle Rock, Colorado (just south of Denver) was abducted from her home a few days before Christmas and her body was later found in the trunk of her abandoned car in Denver a few days later.  She had been stabbed many times and finally strangled and left in the trunk of her car on top of Christmas presents for her  son.  What made things even more horrific was this happened in her home with her five year old son present.   On that day my wife worried about the women being very late for work called her home and her little boy answered the phone and stated his mother was taken by a bad man. He must have seen some of the struggle and injury this young woman must have endured in the home.
A few weeks later  my wife was approached by several of these former anti-gun, anti-self defense people that she worked with, who asked her if  I would be willing to train them how to shoot, and also how to purchase a gun.   I was a certified gun safety and FFL dealer at the time.   This event changed how they looked at a bad situations and how common sense took over.  I had been at odds for several years with a lot of these people because of my position on firearms and self defense.   The most common statement before this event was from them was "I would rather die or would allow someone to take my life than use a weapon to hurt someone".  I could not believe  they would allow someone to hurt them.   The sad thing is over the years I lost track of what ever happened in that case, I do not believe it was ever solved.  
What I hope is that  Deborah C. and others have a legitimate concern about potential reactions to a future event, however with training and a applied understanding that  fear is natural, but how we react is in part learning to condition our thought process.  As a result, the fear of the unknown, is understood and reaction becomes a natural process.   "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  A great quote that really sums it up.
Happy Trails, - John in Arizona   

As a bonus to promote their revamped web site (with a complete redesign, and an updated shopping interface) Directive 21 (aka LPC Survival) has created a 5% off discount code, just for SurvivalBlog readers. Use code: Survivalblog. (Their URL is unchanged, and they are still under the same management. Just their web site has been updated.)

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Chris M. suggested this at Resilient Communities: Food Abundance? (Includes an instructive picture of empty store shelves in Zimbabwe.) Oh, and speaking of watermelons, see this at the Wazoo Ag Extension web site: Watermelon Variety Descriptions.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large, Michael Z. Williamson suggested this piece by Charles Hugh Smith: Acknowledging the Arrival of Peak Government

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File under: Business as Usual: How FBI Entrapment Is Inventing 'Terrorists' - and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook. (Thanks to Pam B. for the link.)

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Yet another grid down consequence: Asian carp barrier had power outage. (Thanks to Barbara B. for the link.)

"In war you will generally find that the enemy has at any time three courses of action open to him. Of those three, he will invariably choose the fourth." - Helmuth Von Moltke

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. (At this point, with the queue full, any entries received will likely run after June 1st and be part of the Round 41 judging.) 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.

It all feels so strange – I live, eat, and breathe “prepping.”  Sometimes I look in the mirror and ask “who are you?!”  In trying to remember when the change in me began, it is traceable back to the financial collapse of 2008.  Even before then, I had become very concerned about privacy – or the lack thereof.  In my professional life, I am a security and privacy consultant, so I know a lot about how little security and privacy exists in our networked world.  I understand in minute detail how online access to the most sensitive and confidential information has led to record breaking hacking incidents and identity theft.  The massive amounts of information about each individual that has been compiled into databases by various entities are the target of extremely organized “information criminals” and readily available to the U.S. government.  Because of my job, I am often one of the first to hear about a serious hacking event and be a part of the incident response team that performs a root cause analysis – how “they” (the criminals) did it.  In most cases, there was nothing sophisticated about it – human error allowed the vulnerability, subsequently exploited by criminals.  I can be found shaking my head over and over about the stupidity of it all at any given moment during a work week.  What I know to be true, from real life experience and my professional career – there is truly no such thing as privacy and security in the online world.  As a career technologist, I see that technology has created more problems for us than good done for us – think: Tower of Babel.

The anxiety about the lack of privacy and security in the online world morphed into anxiety about what was happening in the physical world.  I watched with dismay as our retirement plans started to devalue at a frightening pace, along with the value of our property.  I became increasingly anxious about our ability to survive comfortably – in the manner to which we were accustomed.  As the economy stumbled into a numb, sickening, downward spiral and we watched most of our wealth seemingly disappear overnight, I turned with a genuine concern towards my husband who seemed to act as if nothing really was affecting him – not in the way it was affecting me.  I thought that maybe I was over reacting to the horror of what was unfolding.  Ah, but no, he was internalizing the stress – laughing outwardly.  The stroke that debilitated a large part of his brain and many physical capabilities told the true story.  I remember thinking, “game over man”.  We were more fortunate than many.  My friend’s husband also had a stroke a few months later, but he died instantly.  I’m not sure which is worse considering what is to come, but I am grateful that I still have my husband with me.  It was six months before he could shower himself by himself and remember to take his pills.  After 2 years of speech and communication therapy, a year of physical therapy, and continued home exercises, he is almost himself again.  He still cannot drive any unfamiliar route or for more than about 15 – 20 minutes at a time.  His memory is terrible, his speech slurred when tired, and he is slow in responding sometimes, can become confused, and he must rest more than the average person must.  I manage our lives with patience and am now the sole breadwinner – I am so thankful to God that I have the ability to earn a living.  I love this guy and I am grateful that God spared him – if just for my selfish reasons.  His laugh is back, his smile is huge, and he can make fun of himself and remains the great optimist. He is active in the volunteer community and he is truly an amazing person – a survivor.

There are many true tales such as ours.  That is not the point.  The point is, the tragedy of what has happened in America has affected us all and in unexpected ways.  There is not an untouched person among us.  I realized that I must prepare for what is coming, and I must do most of the preparations relying on my own strength.  I am cognizant of the fact that SCHHTF (could have hit the fan) while we were in the middle of the initial health crisis – we were graciously granted more time to prepare.  I am hoping, really, that my story will embolden and strengthen those among us who are feeling alone in preparations or who have large burdens to carry.  It can be done.  We cannot give up.  We must not curl up into a ball and become frozen with anxiety, stressed, heartbroken, and worried.  We must march on. 
Preparing to get out of Suburbia, and convincing your family that it is the right thing to do, while accommodating a disabled person, is challenging.  It has taken a good year or two of convincing our six grown children and their spouses that prepping is critical.  This past Christmas, they all received Go Bags replete with hand crank/solar NOAA weather radios, MREs, emergency water pouches, blankets, snacks, first aid kits, flashlights, candles, water proof matches, etc.  The light bulb came on for my husband as we packed our Go Bags from boxes of supplies.  Our grown children thought I was crazy and over-reacting to their dad’s stroke, but I have successfully convinced them that the issues in the world are much bigger than our personal struggles and we should figure out how, together, to survive the coming mayhem.  I would say that 90% of my family and extended family are on board now.  (Make a mental note:  it has taken 2-3 years to get them on board).  I have successfully convinced my elderly parents to stock up on food and water supplies, and keep the gas tank full.  So, everyone is emotionally onboard – what next?  Action.  Action.  Action.

The last six months I have devoted every spare moment to finding a piece of property to relocate to – one that would accommodate the 16 of us (including parents, children, spouses, grandchildren).  I have no need to include my siblings because they have prepped for their families independently with properties in Washington and Idaho.  Our home is in Nevada by virtue of necessity.  Now, imagine a lone woman – born and bred in Suburbia; trying by herself to find property with a well, septic, and water source; far enough out of town to be somewhat difficult to reach, but close enough to be near a  major medical facility; not in the “line of drift” from the “golden hordes” of California; not too difficult to access, but not easy either, and “handicap accessible”.  Doesn’t this sound so overwhelming?  It is.  I am not deterred and I found a spot that meets our requirements.  To some preppers, finding a spot 20-30 minutes outside of town is not good enough.  To some, cocooning in place is the only option.  For us, we found a compromise that will at least provide us with the opportunity to develop a sustainable lifestyle that is not dependent on the modern necessities (or should we say ‘niceties’).

In our case, I had to find a piece of property that was in fairly good condition because my husband is disabled and I work full time (from home).  I finally found a little piece of sustainability in a well-developed acre with a good sized home, fenced, with a deep and highly functioning well, solar panels for water heat, propane, and septic.  I realize this well maintained property will need more than me to manage it, but I’ve called in the troops (my family and friends) and with the aid of some hired help, I believe we can accomplish what we must.  My first concern was to get out of town.  My second concern was to provide for off the grid living if necessary (solar, generator, propane).  I have been stocking up on food and water for a year, and started a large garden inside our suburban home from heirloom seeds that are now soaking up the sun in portable containers in the backyard – just waiting to be transplanted into their new home.  The property has several out buildings, one of which will be converted to a chicken coop with very little effort, one will be used for tools, and the spare garage will house the generator and supplies.  Fortunately, our good friends own a tractor with all the attachments and live close by.  Moving near friends into a like-minded community was a major criterion for the mission.  The acre, already fenced with well laid out corrals and sections that will each have a specific purpose (pigs, goats, fruit trees, vegetable garden, chickens, and rabbits). 

Inside the home, which is a daylight basement home, the upper floor is the entrance floor and fully handicap accessible.  The downstairs or basement, is beautifully finished and could conceivably provide sleeping space for up to 8-10 people (the upstairs can provide sleeping space for up to 6 people).  The property boasts 3.5 baths – critical with potentially 16 people coming to visit.  From the upstairs kitchen and deck, we have a view of the entire valley that leads back into town – should trouble come our way we will see it coming.  However, our home is not visible from the lower roads, backs up to empty BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land (read – desert), and won’t stick out.  The valley has a large number of one and two acre properties consisting of fairly independent, tough minded, country folk.  Most properties have horses, chickens, cows, llamas, goats, etc.  I can bet a silver dollar, it is an armed community.  The county sheriff has chosen it for his own residence.

We are packing now and will move in a few weeks to our new little spot.  Trust me, I realize what cleaning out a chicken coop looks like.  I will liken it to all those diapers I changed and washed when my kids were little.  I’ve already arranged to trade eggs from my coop for horse manure (for the garden) with some friends.  [Reader Doug F. added this comment, via e-mail: "Absolutely do not use horse manure in your garden unless you want a garden full of weeds. Use only well-composted cow or sheep manure."]
I’ve studied, researched, prepared, asked for help, and now its implementation time.  There are enough people out of work here in one of the highest unemployment states in the country, that finding help is not going to be the problem.  To me, this is like a highly complex Information Technology implementation.  You do your homework, you create the plan, you implement, with checkpoints along the way, using an iterative quality assurance cycle.  I have a sense of exhilaration, but understand the reality in front of me – this is not going to be easy. 
Lessons learned:

  1.  The realtor – I can’t tell you how many times I had to repeat the criteria for the property we sought – an acre +, a well, septic, propane, 20-30 minutes out of town, well maintained, minimum of 1800 sq. ft., no HOA, handicap accessible, primarily paved road access, fairly flat land (we have enough snow during the winter to make a dirt, windy, hilly road unnavigable.  Getting the realtor on board was tough.  I did most of the research myself using Zillow, an MLS search, search of county property tax records for additional details, called the local well driller to get specifics on certain properties, etc.
  2. Prioritize the “List of Lists” (totally overwhelming at first glance, but was able to understand the scope of types of things that would be needed in the major categories – prioritized and am working through the list).
  3. Research – propane suppliers, propane rent vs. own, propane vs. oil heating, pellet stoves vs. fireplaces, well depth, water quality, water filtering systems, laws governing wells, zoning laws, growing vegetables and other plants in a high desert climate, generator types, solar power, battery capacity, site stick built homes vs. manufactured or modular homes, how to raise chickens for eggs and meat, firearms and ammunitions, ham radio operator license, herbal remedies and natural medicines, etc.
  4. Get Educated - books I read (fiction and non-fiction):
    1. Trump University Asset Protection 101 – learned to restructure business for asset protection.
    2. How to Be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life – learned how to protect assets by titling them in an LLC, how to live under the radar and keep a lower profile.
    3. How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times;
    4. complete Archive CD-ROM
    5. Mini Farming;
    6. The TEOTWAWKI Tuxedo: Formal Survival Attire;
    7. Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it all Falls Apart;
    8. Without Rule of Law: Advanced Skills to Help You Survive;
    9. Atlas Shrugged
    10. The Encyclopedia of Country Living
    11. Read a variety of books concerning:
      1. the economy and America’s imminent demise from a political and financial perspective;
      2. privacy from the perspective of a citizen and from the perspective of law enforcement – the hunted and the hunter perspectives;
      3. online businesses;
      4. financial investing (gold, silver, etc.);
      5. Christian prophecy concerning the end times (The Bible and other books);
      6. disaster recovery and preparedness;
      7. survival;
  5. The right job – It took me a year to find the right job utilizing my skills in a “work from home” situation with infrequent travel.  That was a very rough year as I turned down job after job opportunity situated in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., etc. 
  6. Training – I knew nothing about guns and ammunition.  I took the first step and got in person, personal training, own one gun, and have a limited supply of ammunition.  I was afraid of the guns but I made the first step.  I plan to expand this skill this year.
  7. Budgeting – if you don’t have the budget for a large purchase of freeze dried or dehydrated food storage, double your grocery budget and buy 2 of everything every time you go to the store focusing on the essential foods.  I cut other things out of the budget to enable this strategy.  Future purchases include things like a generator, not a big screen television.
  8. Learn now, practice now – don’t wait for the perfect opportunity.  I learned to make a variety of cleaning supplies from Ivory soap and white vinegar, learned how to make my own laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and hand soap from Ivory soap bars.  I started the heirloom seed garden on the kitchen counter.  I regularly fill and use 15-20 gallon containers of filtered water – to practice the inconvenient art of water storage.  I bought essential oils and learned about their medicinal qualities, and created various lotions and salves.  Garden, can, bake from scratch, hand wash and hang dry… reject convenience and select inconvenience now.  It will help in adjusting to life without later.
  9. Reaching others – the hardest part of this journey so far has been convincing my family that Christians are not showing a lack of faith by preparing for disaster.  I likened it to many Biblical stories where the industrious are honored. 
  10. Pray – last on the list does not mean least.  The God of the Universe knows all, sees all, and has a plan.  The purpose of my preparation efforts are to protect and care for my family and friends in order to minimize suffering and to share what the Lord has in store for us.

Next Steps:  Take Action
There is no convenient way to utterly change your lifestyle from beginning to end.  It has taken me close to three years (setbacks notwithstanding) to get to the point where I understand what all has to be done and am actually doing it.  There are many, like me, who read SurvivalBlog religiously but who do nothing.  I made a commitment to myself that before the elections in the fall of 2012, I would be settled in a new environment with the potential for a sustainable lifestyle.  I may be wrong that the elections will be a tipping point in these United States, but I want to be prepared.

In my previous SurvivalBlog article, Melting Lead for the Meltdown, I gave a basic explanation of molding bullets. In particular, I described the molding of 200 grain lead semi wad cutters and the 185 grain SWC.   In addition, it was pointed out to stock these up for use as barter if there is a social/economic/political meltdown.  If you cast your own bullets or are thinking about reloading your own ammo, I would urge you to jump in.  It is enjoyable, therapeutic, and practical in the times we live.  Additionally, it is also economical.   I just checked at Wal-Mart for their prices for .45 ACP ammo and the least expensive I saw was $19.95 for a box of 50.  Reloading your own ammo will pay for itself in the long run because a reloader can beat that price quite easily.  If you pay .05 per bullet, .03 per primer (recently paid 28.50 for a 1,000 Remington primers on sale), and .02 per powder charge, you have a bullet for .10 per round or $5.00 per box less your time involved.  Even if your bullets cost .10  a piece, you’re still looking at $7.50 for a box of 50.  You would also include the cost of your brass, however, as I’m a ‘range scavenger’ and retrieve my brass after a stage in competition, I left that out.  But, the time spent reloading is “fun time.”  It’s time spent on a hobby not work time.   And, if you compete you know you’ve saved hundreds if not thousands by reloading your own ammo.  I try to break down the reloading process so that I’m not depriving my family of time by spending massive amounts of time away from them (i.e. one evening tumble and polish the brass, another evening deprime/ resize 300 pieces, another night for an hour neck expansion/powder charge and bullet seating).

Now, for someone just kicking around the idea of reloading, I want to talk about “getting the lead out.”   That is, you want to get some ammo loaded up and use that lead or pick some up online before component prices jump.   Depending upon what style learner you are, a brief overview that I will provide may be sufficient for you to start.  I started literally the most primitive way with the use of a Lee handloader.  Your rubber mallet,  hand dies, and a powder dipper was how I started…yikes…There was no YouTube, CDs, or instructional tapes in 1975.  I did have a Lyman reloading manual that provided my initial instruction as well as my oldest brother who had also started reloading.   Money was tight for me so I started with a single stage press from Lyman.  You can start here and progress to the Hornady or Dillon progressive reloading press which will turn out from 350-400 rounds per hour. 

Getting the lead out” and getting it loaded into your brass is the subject of this entry.   The main functional areas that will be addressed are: 1) equipment needs, 2) brass preparation, 3) the components for your ammo (i.e. powder, primer, projectiles), and 4) the process or steps of reloading.
Basic equipment that will get you started in basic reloading are the following (I was fortunate to find much of my equipment gently used at Biff’s Gun Room & Knob Creek Gun Range in Shepherdsville, Kentucky):              

  • Tumbler for cleaning your brass, media, and polishing agent (check Midway, Natchez, Brownells etc)
  • Carbide dies (RCBS, Lyman, Lee etc), shell holder, single stage press (various manufacturers)
  • Scale to weigh powder charge
  • Powder measure
  • Caliper to check your measurements
  • Loading block to hold your brass casings
  • Headspace/bullet gauge                 
  • Bench to mount your press on
  • Priming unit (RCBS hand primer)

Now with your equipment lined up and ready, you need your .45 brass prepped for reloading.  If you’re using ‘once fired’ brass from the range you need to fire up your tumbler.  Put your media (corncob or walnut) into the tumbler, start it up, and then put in the amount of polishing agent specified on your unit.  Let it run a couple minutes to get the polish worked in and then add your brass. I like Flitz as a cleaning and polishing agent.  Does a great job and takes less time.  Check your brass after tumbling 20-30 minutes and if sufficiently cleaned and polished, separate the brass from the media.  The brass is ready for your next step.
Let’s talk components before we get to the actual process of reloading.  I have used many different powders (231, WST, Clays, Unique, Bullseye, 4756, VV 320, Titegroup, Autocomp etc).  You will discover there are many pet loads and you will find there are varying opinions on the ‘best’ powder to use.  Experiment and make your choice.  Many stay with the tried and true Winchester 231.  I have had my best groups with Vhita Vhouri 320 and Titegroup.  VV320 is more expensive and can generally be found at larger gun shows.   Titegroup should be available at most gun shops, gun ranges, and can be also found at gun shows.    I am a life member at Knob Creek Gun Range in Kentucky and have tried to keep Kenny Sumner in business over the years.  My pet load for 200 grain lead SWC (semi-wadcutter) is 4.6 grains of Titegroup.   The next component is the choice of primers.  Again, there are a number of brands such as Winchester, Remington, Federal, and CCI and so on.  For your .45 you need “large pistol” primers.   Next we come to the choice of projectiles.  I’ve used just about everything.  For competition you definitely want a bullet that leaves big holes on paper so you can tell where you’re hitting.  Since I decided to cast my own bullets I primarily use the 200 grain lead SWC.  Feel free to experiment with 185 Hornady SWC copper jacketed, 230 grain FMJ(full metal jacket), Remington Golden Sabers, 230 Lead Round Nose, 225 grain Lead Truncated Cone and so on.  I’ve had splendid groups using VV 320 with jacketed bullets with groups less than one inch (pretty much hole in hole) at 45 feet with a free standing stance.
   So now you have everything ready to go.  Your brass is cleaned and polished, your components are assembled, your equipment is set up and ready to crank it!  And, remember, no smoking while you’re reloading!!!  I am assuming you have followed your instructions and mounted your press and adjusted your dies.  You have your loading blocks (50 rounds per block) ready with your brass.  The process of reloading will entail the following steps:
                  1. Depriming and resizing
                  2. Priming
                  3. Neck expansion and powder charge
                  4. Bullet seating and taper crimp

In the depriming and resizing stage, you will be using a carbide tip resizing/depriming die.  Follow the directions in your die kit regarding the installment of the die.  Then you will take each .45 casing and place it in the shell holder on your press and run the ram up.  The brass is fed into the resizing die/deprimer and backed down out of the die.  You have just resized the brass to the appropriate dimensions so that it will now chamber in your .45 and knocked out the expended primer.  Do this with whatever number of pieces brass you want to reload.  I do one hundred per session so that I’m not letting the reloading consume too much of my time from other important things like my wife.  Once you have resized your brass, use your calipers to measure the length of each piece and inspect each piece.  You must maintain the right measurement with your brass to avoid excessive pressures that could be detrimental to your firearm and health.   Anything with cracks you pitch or put aside for recycling.  The shortest or minimum case length I’ve seen in any manual is .888 thousandths of an inch.  Anything shorter and you can put that in your recycling pile as well.  Maximum case length is .898.  You will likely never have to worry about trimming any of your pistol brass because that normally doesn’t lengthen like rifle brass when fired.  Also, I don’t worry about the primer pocket or primer hole.  This isn’t critical in pistol bullets like it is in competitive rifle cartridges.  All pieces of brass are now resized, deprimed, inspected, and checked for proper length.

The next stage is priming.  You have your large pistol primers (you won’t need ‘large pistol magnum’ primers) and have loaded them into your hand priming tool.  I have an RCBS hand priming tool.  Place each piece of brass in the tool and squeeze the handle.  This presses the primer into the primer pocket of the brass.  Place primed pieces back onto the loading block until all pieces are primed.  This step with 100 rounds will take about 10-15 minutes.  Again, follow the instructions given in your hand priming tool guide. 

In the neck expanding stage you will be removing the resizing die from the press and placing the neck expanding die in the press.  My neck expanding die will also hold my Lyman powder measure so that while the brass is in the expanding die, I can cycle the powder measure and charge the cartridge with powder.  What I have done prior to this in preparation is adjusted the powder measure and weighed the powder charge in the scale to ensure it is dropping the 4.6 grains of Titegroup.  So, with your brass in the neck expanding die, operate the powder measure and drop the powder charge into the brass and remove the brass by running the ram back down.  Pull your charged brass from the shell holder and place in an empty loading block.  Do this with each piece of brass and visually inspect each cartridge to ensure you have a powder charge.  Also check to ensure that you did not inadvertently drop a double charge.  If you have any question about something that doesn’t look right just take the brass and empty the powder back into the powder measure and drop a new charge.  Again, this stage with 100 pieces of brass will take some 10-15 minutes with a single stage press.  Okay, we’re having fun and things are coming together nicely.

We have now come to the bullet seating stage.  Change out the neck expanding die with the bullet seating die and follow the instructions in your manual.  Take a charged cartridge and put it into the press.  Follow this by placing your bullet into the case mouth.  Run the press up and back down.  Check it out!!! You just completed loading that first bullet.  But, before you jump for joy, get your calipers out and check the overall case length of the bullet.  I seat my 200 grain SWCs for 1.235 overall case length.  You will need to check your overall case length and be sure you follow the specs in you loading manual.  In addition, your pistol may be picky and you may have to find thru experimentation the best OAL (overall length) for your pistol.  I have a Para Ordinance P-14 .45 which is equipped with a feed ramp.  I get flawless feeding of my loads at this case length.  With your bullet seating die set to the adjusted correct length, run each charged cartridge up with bullet placed in the case mouth and seat the bullets.  Don’t they look lovely!  Now, last but not least, put a light taper crimp on your bullets.   Replace the bullet seating die with the taper crimp die.  I set my taper crimp die so that it will give me a round that measures .469 thousandths where the bullet goes into the brass.  Run this thru your headspace gauge.  Your completed round should drop into the gauge with no problem and drop back out.  You can also pull your barrel from your .45 and drop the bullet into the barrel chamber and check the fit.  Lyman recommends keeping simple records for your loads. I think that is a good idea and I record the bullet size/weight/type, powder type and powder charge, overall case length, and results of the fired bullets (i.e. feeding issues, accuracy, smoke, kick, and velocity if a chronograph is used[for power factor requirements for competition]).

Remember, this is just one load for the .45.  There are many pet loads that reloaders have.  Go online and check everything out that you can and enjoy your reloading.  It feels good when you look down and see that by following the steps, you turned out a good accurate load.   Like Hannibal Smith used to say on the “A-Team”, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  

This leads me to a spiritual parallel in reloading.  A reloaded cartridge comes from very specific measurements, intelligence, and design.  If you were wandering out in some field somewhere and came across a .45 cartridge you would have to think that it didn’t get there on its own nor was it assembled at random.  Someone was in that field and someone put that bullet together.  So to, we have bodies, a world, and universe that to me indicates “Someone” was in the universe and “Someone” assembled all that we see.  “The heavens declare the glory of God.” I encourage you to seek that Someone and look to Him to assemble your life and trust Him to guide your steps. 

Now go “get the lead out”.


About a year ago I remember reading a personal account in SurvivalBlog about a home invasion/robbery in Florida that went terribly wrong. I remember thinking it was almost surreal in the way it unfolded and thought things like that only happened in third world countries. It was an eye opening experience and something that made me rethink the way I handled myself in a place I considered to be secure by default. A few months ago my eyes were opened again when someone in one of my coworker's neighborhood went through a similar experience. I am not trying to kid myself into believing I live in some illusion of safety. I live within 60 miles of the Texas/Mexico boarder. And because of this, home invasions have become highly sophisticated in my area. Gangs, for lack of a better word, who were loosely affiliated with cartels would use home invasions as a tool to hijack drug shipments from rivals at safe-houses and as a profitable way to kidnap "undocumented migrant workers" (illegal aliens) from smugglers. The thought was that most of these occurrences were contained to people who were doing something illegal and that civilians were immune. Most of these people would never go to the police because they themselves were breaking the law. In recent months this has changed. Apparently, with the war on drugs in Mexico reaching new levels of violence and the upcoming summer elections, these enterprising individuals have decided to expand their range of victims.

One afternoon, in a quiet neighborhood in Brownsville, Texas, four armed men pulled up to a house while most people were at work. The put on ski masks and rang the doorbell making sure to obstruct the security eyepiece enough to obfuscate their intent. A maid opened the door and the four men burst into the house. They quickly took control over the situation by restraining her and searching the house. After searching the house and collecting any valuables, (including a handgun in the nightstand) the offenders waited for the homeowner to return home. At some point, homeowner called the house to tell the maid that he would be arriving soon with groceries. The maid, while being held at gunpoint, was forced to make the homeowner feel like nothing was wrong. Once the homeowner arrived with his wife and child, they were immediately overpowered and captured upon entering the house. The offenders forced the man at gunpoint to go from room to room opening two floor safes and one gun safe while they plundered jewelry, cash and firearms. After they had gathered all the valuables, the offenders determined that they wanted more. So, at this point, three of the men held the homeowner's family hostage while one of the men drove the homeowner to three different banks where he made large cash withdraws. The homeowner was constantly reminded that if he tried to alert a teller or signal for help that the men at the house would murder his family. They returned home with the money, tied the family to furniture in the living room, and left with the warning that if they called the law enforcement they would be back. They had explained that they had the house and the family under surveillance for weeks leading up to this event. An entire week went by before the family alerted law enforcement out of fear for their lives and now the story is slowly being made public knowledge as police search for tips and clues into the crime.

Nothing is going to fix what happened, but you can draw some lessons from it.

Lesson 1. Availability of Information

There are several things that I would like to discuss and address as possible lessons that can be taken away from this entire experience. In my occupation, I have to address many different aspects in the implantation of social engineering as a tool to both bypass and overcome security measures. The most valuable single resource that anyone has is information. What strikes me as very alarming is the amount of information that was available to the offenders in this case. They knew when to strike. They knew that there would be a valuable payload inside of the house. They knew what banks he had accounts at, when he got home, what routes he drove and how many people were in the house. They knew the names of his wife and children. They knew when the maid was going to be the only person in the house. They knew the location of the alarm pad. They even knew where the security camera DVR was located so they could collect it when they were done (we will discuss this later). The first lesson should be protecting as much of this information as possible. The amount of resources available to any member of society at their open personal disposal is just frightening. Without knowing anything about you, I could pull your property tax information from the county tax office based on your address and work backwards through a web site like Spokeo or Maltego to determine how much you make, how many people reside in your house, where you work and what you drive. Most of this can be determined just by grabbing the mail out of your mailbox one afternoon before you are even home from work.

What's the point of this? Don't make it easy for them. Use opt-out services to protect personal information. Buy a security-mailbox. Better yet: get a P.O. Box! Don't disclose all your personal information on a raffle entry that Dr. Pepper and Coca Cola emailed you last week for a chance to win a free jet ski! Information security is something that takes very little effort but can make a huge difference. I am not a counter-terrorism or counter-surveillance export, but I point out a few things that make a huge difference in those who would intend to do harm to you past protecting your credit. James Wesley Rawles is always warning about OPSEC but just because you don't disclose your phone number to the girl at the local Pizza Hut doesn't mean that you aren't doing 10 times as much damage by filling out a registration form online with your biographical information.

GPS scrubbing your pictures is another thing that is rarely mentioned. Many people post pictures directly to the internet (example Facebook) from their smartphones without first converting the image or at least running it through a program to remove tagged information. One of the most common law enforcement forensic practices is to lift GPS location data from pictures to give information on suspects. Criminals aren't stupid. They are doing the same thing. While you think it might be fun to take a picture of your fully loaded gun safe and upload it to your favorite apocalyptic survival blog, please understand that there is personal information encoded in that picture from your smart phone. Might be something you might want to address.

Lesson 2. Availability of Access

I believe Mr. Rawles and others have discussed fortifying your house with large planters, thorny bushes and even cleverly concealed cement embankments. My question is why not take this one step further when it comes to your main point of entry? I am not suggesting driving 4 foot railroad ties into your front yard hidden under lawn gnomes like tank traps, but why not install a front door entry gate? A front entry gate is probably the single best investment you can make from the perspective of additional space from contact. This will give you an extra degree of separation from any random person who rings your doorbell from a trick-or-treater to a guy looking to hit you in the head with a pipe and score your wallet. You can buy one at your local Home Depot or Lowe's and they cost less to install than a security camera system of connected intercom. This is probably one of the most important home improvements you can consider making if your Homeowners Association allows it. (Yes Mr. Rawles, I can hear you screaming "move!" as I type this)

What I also want to mention here, and I believe has been mentioned before on this site, is being aware of who you let into your house. Over the recent years, I have become increasingly suspicious of the contractors that have come into my house to do repair and construction work. While various web sites exist to do background checks on reputable companies, nothing can give a window into human intent for the individual employee. How do I know the electrician's apprentice who comes into my house to fix a bad breaker box isn't looking at my house as his friend's next possible target. It still boggles me that the robbers in my example knew exactly where the security camera DVR was without searching for it. Be cautious about the individuals you allow access to your house and definitely try to conceal valuables. There is no point your wife's jewelry collection should be left out on the dresser while the plumber is walking by to get to the master bathroom. At least restrict unsupervised access to areas of your house where a worker should not have access to. I believe this is one of the common "casing" tactics used by the operation in Florida that netted over 12 million dollars in stolen merchandise. Try to at least prevent the common mistakes and make it hard for them to do surveillance work. It might even eliminate you as a target.

Lesson 3. Predictability and Foresight

I believe I have to pay some credence to Kenneth Royce (aka. Boston T. Party) in this respect. I try not to take the same route home from work every day if possible. I try not to set myself up in a situation where I can be easily predicted, stalked, cornered, ambushed and abducted. I was in Mexico City some years back for an extended period of time and this has become standard operating procedure. I could write a whole post about the things you learn in a foreign country, but I am sure others could do it better. I am not overly paranoid and actually try to live my life fairly laid back. Kidnappings and Ransom became a way of life in Mexico. I hate to reference Hollywood, but see the movie Man on Fire and multiply it times 10. Criminal gangs do not go for the high value hard targets with ninja style SWAT team assaults. They are much happier putting in as little work as possible to grab the low hanging fruit. They are more than happy to go after middle managers and engineers (and their families) than they would be to go after plant managers and CEOs. Middle class individuals with a medium net income lack the tools and resources to protect themselves as well as a higher income individual with more to protect. Criminals do not mind, they will not starve. So for 1/10th of the risk, they will just hit 4 middle class families to reap just as much reward. Please do not think you are immune.

Have the foresight to see problems before they occur. The late Colonel Jeff Cooper always talked about levels of alertness -- in a Color Code. This is not about being relaxed or being on edge, its about being conscious of your surroundings. The best advice that he gave was to know what something feels out of place and react to it. - Matt in Texas

Commentary from Anthony Wile, Editor of The Daily Bell: If the Euro Ends, So Will the World as We Know It?

G.G. flagged this: The Number of Those Working Past 65 is at a Record High

John Williams: The Recovery is an Illusion

18 Signs That The Banking Crisis In Europe Has Just Gone From Bad To Worse

How big will JPMorgan's losses be?

Reader S.S. in Mississippi pointed me to Wikipedia's page on Sovereign Debt. The comparison's of the debt levels of various nations are instructive, especially when seen as a percentage of GDP.

By Abandoning the Gold Standard We Accepted Central Planning and Chaos

Kevin S. suggested this great piece that describes hyperinflation: What Is Money ? Part I

Mike A. suggested this very interesting piece: Planning traffic routing in no-notice disasters. The article begins: "Spontaneous evacuations of New York City and Washington, D.C. following the 9/11 terrorist attacks demonstrated that U.S. cities are not prepared to manage the sudden influx of traffic into roads and highways following a no-notice disaster."

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Mike T. sent this: Zithromax (azithromycin): FDA Statement on risk of cardiovascular death

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News headline: San Francisco to rename street after Pelosi. JWR's Comments: Go ahead and call me "stodgy", but I think they'd be safer waiting until she expires--or at least until after she leaves public office--to go naming streets or battleships in her honor. After all, you never know when a sitting senator or congresscritter might come down with a bad case of Tom DeLay-John Ensign-David Vitter-Gary Condit-Duke Cunningham-John Edwards-Chris Dodd-Eric Massa-Fred Richmond-Gary Hart-Charlie Rangel-Albert Bustamante-Mark Foley-William J. Jefferson-Dan Rostenkowski-Wayne Hays-Gerry Studds-Mario Biaggi-James Traficant-Buz Lukens-David Wu-Mark Souder-Anthony Weiner Syndrome and hence be forced to resign in disgrace. So this could be a bad idea, and difficult to reverse. (Just ask the folks in Milltown, New Jersey, that still drive down Pétain Street, or anyone who lives on Ernst Thälmann Strasse in Dresden.) Oh well, at least the San Francisco pinko politicos don't plan to re-name the entire city Pelosigrad. (At least not yet.) By the way, I still haven't forgiven them for renaming Army Street after a far-left labor leader.

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With absolutely no relevance to preparedness whatsoever, I offer this incredibly cool musical video link: House of The Rising Sun - Musical Tesla Coils

"According to the Constitution, the Legislature does not have the right to judge the guilt or innocence of a person, be they a citizen or not. According to the Constitution, the Executive [branch] does not have the right to judge the guilt or innocence of a person, be they a citizen or not. According to the Constitution’s separation of powers, only the Judiciary has the right to determine guilt or innocence. Thus, ultimately, only the Judiciary has the right to revoke or deny a citizen’s ability to travel—and only for serious crimes." - Gonzalo Lira in his April, 2012 essay: You Are Free To Travel—If The IRS Lets You

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our mid-year 25%-off sale on the SurvivalBlog Archive CD-ROM ends on May 31st. The latest six year compilation includes my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" in digital format. At the sale price, the CD-ROM is $11.25 and the Digital Download is just $7.50. Be sure to order your copy before the sale ends.

Some months ago, I alerted Survival Blog readers to a small company, in my neck of the woods, called US Tactical Supply that has customer service second to none, as well as having top-notch products, most made in the good ol' USA. As I stated before, if you are looking for cheap knock-off merchandise, or just "cheap" anything - then don't do business with US Tactical Supply - they don't carry junk - simple as that. However, if you are looking for the best-of-the-best in high-quality products, with friendly folks, who are sincerely happy to help you, and appreciate your business, then US Tactical Supply is the place to go.
Anyone who is familiar with doing business with the Department of Defense knows that, you have to carry merchandise that meets or exceeds DOD specifications. US Tactical Supply is a DOD supplier - enough said, eh? Military and law enforcement personnel strive for the best products they can get - they can't afford to have their gear fail them, when they need it the most. So, a lot of the customers who deal with US Tactical Supply are military and law enforcement. As well as savvy survival-minded folks, too.
Kevin Swanson, the President of US Tactical contacted me, and wanted my honest test and evaluation on a new product they are now carrying called the "Stove Tec" - it's a "rocket stove." You can get the skinny on the Stove Tec at their web site as well as being able to watch a short video describing how the Stove Tec works. Now, anyone familiar with survival gear, will readily recognize the Stove Tec emergency stove as a "rocket stove" - there are various makes and models on the rocket stove on the market, as well as detailed videos out there, on how to make a rocket stove yourself. However, all rocket stoves are NOT the same!
The Stove Tec rocket stove is probably the best-made of the bunch if you ask me. Stove Tec (located in Oregon) manufactures several different versions of this little emergency stove, and Kevin Swanson sent me the top-of-the-line model for test and evaluation. And, I'm here to tell you, this baby should last you many, many years of hard use. This is "the" emergency stove you want when the power goes out, trust me!
I received the two-door Stove Tec model, which is the deluxe model. This baby has a metal-lined ceramic door that burns any available wood or flammable biomass material. The combustion chamber isn't just lined with "fire brick" like other rocket stoves - nope, this baby is also metal lined, to help retain the heat for a good long time, as well as to protect the fire brick (ceramic). The deluxe two-door model is the one you want to purchase - the main upper door allows you to feed your fuel into the fire chamber, and the smaller, lower door, allows you to adjust the heat - neat idea, when you want a hotter or cooler fire for cooking, and it allows you to cook longer, too.
The stove top surface - it's double thick cast iron, with six pot supports - you're not gonna have to worry about this part of the stove failing you. You can either place a frying pan or pot right on top the cast iron stove top, or use the include galvanized steel pot skirt to keep your pan or pot slightly above the stove top surface. I found that I liked just cooking on the stove top surface - as did my wife.
The body of the Stove Tec is painted green, and is sheet metal - but there's no need to worry about the sheet metal "melting" on you or a hot fire burning through it - the double layered kiln-fired combustion chamber protects the outside sheet metal. There is always plenty of small tree branches and twigs around our homestead, so finding fuel for the Stove Tec rocket stove was an easy chore, to be sure. We also found that, we could use wadded-up paper to start and burn a pretty hot fire, too. There are heat resistant plastic and steel carry handles on the Stove Tec.
There's a nice metal support that you place in front of the upper door on the Stove Tec, for feeding your small pieces of wood into the fire chamber, so you don't have to sit there and hold the wood - you simply slide it into the fire chamber as it burns, to keep the fire going. It honestly doesn't take much wood at all, to get a super-hot fire going to cook a meal. We have enough wood on our small homestead to last through a lifetime of use cooking on the Stove Tec - honestly!
If you are serious about long-term survival, under harsh conditions, then you need to take a serious look at the Stove Tec rocket stove from US Tactical Supply. When your propane tanks run dry, and you can't get 'em refilled, you'll sure be glad you have the Stove Tec standing by. And, if you're out camping or hunting, you don't need to have a huge cooking fire - that wastes a lot of wood - in order to cook a meal. A mere handful of wood will provide more than enough fuel for cooking a meal, or to fire-up the stove to warm yourself. I don't care if you live in the big city or out in the boonies like I do, you will find the Stove Tec rocket stove to be a blessing when the power goes off, and you need to cook a hot meal. As I stated, it takes very little wood or other material (even charcoal can be used) to get a good, hot fire going in this rocket stove.
Sure, you can find rocket stoves all over the place, but trust me, I've seen a lot of 'em, and they don't even come close to the Stove Tec in quality and features. The Stove Tec sells for $124.95 at US Tactical Supply, and they do have a less expensive model. However, I'd spend a few bucks more and get the deluxe version - you'll appreciate it more.
Whenever I shop around for any survival gear or supplies, I not only look at the best prices I can get, I also look at the quality of the products I'm thinking about purchasing. Cheap is never good! Another thing I look at is the company I'm going to do business with. I can tell you horror stories about some big name companies, that simply have some of the worse customer service you can imagine - even some of the big-name gun companies have customer service that sucks! If you want to do business with a small company, that really cares about customer service, and carries mostly US-made products, then take a look at US Tactical Supply - they are growing, and deserve your business. Don't always think you are getting something cheaper some place else - don't shop around on "price" only - take a look at the company. I enjoy doing business with the little guy, especially when they carry so many US-made products....that's why you'll hardly ever find me in the big box stores - I don't like contributing to the economy in China. I'd rather shop the small, independent stores, that want my business, and are there to stand behind the products they sell. Ever try returning something to one of the big box stores? Yes, it's a pain-in-the-rear at times - an you sure get the impression that they are doing you a favor by allowing you to shop their stores - when it should be the other way around.
In all honesty, I don't know why I hadn't laid claim to a rocket stove before now. Yes, I have a propane cook stove that I use several times per year when the power goes out. But I can't possibly stock enough propane tanks or bottles to last me many years. With the Stove Tec rocket stove, having enough fuel isn't a problem - especially when it burns all manner of fuel. You see, sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks...and I learned just how much I'm gonna need the Stove Tec rocket stove when the power goes out. I've got mine, now you need to contact US Tactical Supply and get one of your own. You're gonna wonder how you got along without it. And, you'll be surprised at the friendly, helpful folks that answer the phone, too. - Pat Cascio (SurvivalBlog's Field Gear Editor)

Thank you for sharing all of your info, but I have to be honest, I am so overwhelmed with it all that if or when this happens I would rather be dead.  Who would want to live like  this and what would be the reason to live?  I wouldn’t have the heart to shoot someone  to protect my food and I am a sharpshooter. I just wanted your opinion.
Best Regards, - Deborah C.

JWR Replies: The underlying theme to my writings is to be part of an integrated team.  That team might be just a few families living on a cul-de-sac, or it might be a small town. By being competent and confident with firearms, your group will avoid confrontations.  Very few bad guys will mess with someone with a capability to immediately drop them at up to 400 yards.  And if you don't have the willingness to do so yourself, then team up with someone that does.  You can provide other forms of useful and valued support to a group or small community effort. (Agriculture, advanced first aid, mechanics, et cetera.)  Not everyone has to be a warrior.

Having just read the letters regarding reloading economics, I noticed the following caveats and had two important points about them:
1.  “do not shoot lead bullets in a Glock” because of the polygonal rifling.  Polygonal rifling essentially creates rifling engagement angles that are less than 90 degrees, therefore whatever bullet material you use seals the bore better (because it’s easier to deform lead/copper into a rifling groove that has a more obtuse (open) angle) than a sharp 90 degree angle.    A standard cartridge fired out of a conventionally rifled barrel will travel faster out of a polygonal rifled barrel because of the superior seal that the polygonal rifling creates and that is why Glock uses those kinds of barrels, bullets perform better out of their barrels. Better seal = higher pressures,  higher pressures = higher velocities.   It needs to be noted that the HK USP series of pistols also has polygonal rifling as well as the Baby Eagle line and problem some others that I haven’t listed here.  Lead is perfectly safe to shoot out of Glocks or HKs, as long as you decrease your powder charge.  Polygonally rifled barrels do lead up any more readily than conventionally rifled barrels, in fact, because polygonal rifling seals the bore better the number one cause of leading  is reduced, “gas cutting” the increased pressure does not melt lead bases to any appreciable extent – gas cutting does.  This was all figured out decades ago by better men than me, like Elmer Keith.  Since higher pressures also yield higher temperatures (simple physics) even a conventionally rifled barrel can build up lead quickly if you use hot loads, or try to reproduce +p type ratings using lead or copper plated bullets.  It isn’t lead build up that leads to a “kaboom”, it’s nearly always a compressed load which is far more dangerous in any barrel.  Gas checks (copper jackets that go on the bottom of a lead bullet) are effective not because the leading lip of the gas check hits the rifling and splits to seal the angle of the rifling in addition to shielding the base of the lead bullet.  Don’t believe me?  Check the effective velocities of a gas checked bullet, it’s higher than just lead – less pressure leakage.
2.  Copper plated bullets should be treated as if they were lead when calculating your powder charge.  Because the plating is not a “jacket” but a very very thin microscopic coating of copper the hardness of the bullet is still essentially whatever the hardness of the lead that was used in casting it before plating.  The plating process does not harden the lead bullet, it seals the bore better than a copper jacketed bullet – and should be loaded accordingly otherwise you can create higher pressures and you may damage your pistol or yourself.  Always load copper plated bullets as if you were loading lead.  You get less lead fouling with copper plated bullets, but I’ve pulled lead deposits out of a pistol bore that was only shooting copper plated bullets, although it had a couple thousand rounds through it prior to the cleaning.
3.  Remember that the higher pressure rounds will have more problems with overpressure than low pressure rounds, typically autopistols shoot 9mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W – I’ll ignore the other more uncommon rounds, so look them them if you’re going to reload for them., as an example only (look up your specific combination of powder, bullet, primer and casing) the following number can give you an idea of the pressures involved:
9mm Luger (9x19) is around 34,000 psi
45acp (45 auto) is around 20,000
40sw (40 short and wimpy) is around 32,000 psi
ammo manufactures spend a seriously paranoid amount of time calculating not only pressure, but the pressure curve (burn characteristics inside barrel) and they minutely examine the components after firing before determining a load is safe, they do this for each and every “lot” of ammunition they produce, if they change one component then there is a different “lot number” assigned to it and the workup is repeated for it.  Since their powders and components are custom blended and manufactured, they tend to repeat this process a lot.  A typical handloader will not have access to the testing equipment that a manufacturer has and has to be at least as meticulous.  Pressure is king and over-pressure will injure you and destroy your weapon.  In a grid-down survival situation the nominal savings that reloading will yield are offset by the very serious chance a non-expert reloader will inadvertently take.  If and when THSTF I do not plan on shooting any reloaded ammunition out of my autopistols or autoloading rifles.
As a side note, a few more thoughts on reloading practices:
The typical reloader who uses “junk brass” that is harvested from a shooting range is taking some serious chances.  Without realizing it, a handloader can work up a load that is perfectly safe in a Lake City 5.56 case, and start producing with a large range of brass cases from various manufacturers – without realizing that the internal dimensions of each manufacturers casing are different, in fact the typical Lake City nato 5.56 casing has a thicker web and thicker walls than a commercial Winchester .223 Remington case – so a perfectly safe load in a different case will yield MUCH different results and since we’re worried about pressure (as we should be) we inadvertently are producing loaded cartridges that are quite different while believing we are making a consistent product because we’re using only one type of bullet/powder/primer.  Whenever possible, use ONE head stamp AND be sure they’re of the same year of manufacture.
I have reloaded now for 20 years, from .50 BMG to .380 and the one thing I keep as my watch-word is that I’m loading for target ammo only and I am not trying to reproduce factory maximum pressures.  I’ve had to toss out a serious amount of ammo from time to time because I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, and in case you’re wondering – no I never considered breaking apart the casings to reclaim components – why?  Because it’s just not worth the time and potential hazards to re-use bullets that have already been crimped, and powder that may be contaminated by whatever was in the case when I reloaded it or handled it during disassembly.  Sure a lot of old codgers will say that you can avoid problems, but I have a healthy enough paranoia to toss a couple of bucks in the trash (actually I take them to a public range to put in their “red bucket”  I’ve see these same guys pull ammo out of a red range bucket – such disregard for Murphy will surely clean the shallow end of the gene pool at some point
It comes down to pressure and amassing as much possible knowledge about interior ballistics as is humanly possible.   Most of the “kaboom” problems that Glocks and other autopistols have had occur when a reloader tries to reproduce a hot cartridge – or as the old competitors used to call it “make major” because before a typical competition each competitors load would be chronographed to insure they weren’t using a “wimpy” load to reduce recoil and thus increase accuracy.
I’ve had two kabooms, both were from compressed loads in reloaded ammo (one mine and one a factory reload) I’ve met other people that have had compressed loads from factory ammo, which is a major cause of “kaboom” in police departments across the country as they use duty ammo on a rotational basis during qualifications (use up the duty ammo to issue fresh duty ammo).   I’ve shot a lot of lead out of Glocks, never had a problem – the one I reload for most often is my Glock 20 and 29 – the ultra-hot 10mm.  And in case you’re wondering, reloading for revolvers has a slightly different set of problems that can be just as dangerous as those faced by autopistol reloaders.
Remember that no firearms manufacturer will warranty your firearm if you shoot reloads of any kind avoiding lead in Glocks while shooting jacketed reloads is just as much a warrantee problem as the other.    Seek knowledge and understanding, understand why polygonal rifling creates higher pressures and you can anticipate and compensate for it, understand why shorter barrels are less efficient at launching light and fast loads, and a host of other knowledge that is useful.
For me the greatest value that I get from reloading is that I’m much better educated than a typical shooter about the products I shoot and it’s a relaxing hobby that helps keep my mind sharp.  When I first started reloading I did save a significant amount of money on ammo, but component prices have skyrocketed since then and the savings are now pretty much non-existent. - Jim H. in Colorado


Dear Mr. Rawles,
This was an excellent article. I have a few comments for consideration. There are several aftermarket barrels available for Glocks to allow shooting lead bullets. Search for "Glock replacement barrels".  Many of the competition shooters I know use them quite successfully.

Reloading ammo or buying factory ammo are definitely not mutually exclusive activities. I do both. My goal it to increase opportunities to keep shooting. Where I seem to save the most is in reloading my own match ammo. Not only do I save money but my groups are significantly tighter with my reloads. The downside I see with reloading is for those of us who can be distracted into endless pursuit of the "perfect" load.

For folks who have a short memory, reloading is a good thing when ammo is either not available or is so expensive it is unaffordable.

Get out and vote. - Jim Z.

Just a few observations about R.S.O.'s article.

I had a few issues with R.S.O.'s article on reloading and wanted to share them.

First, if you order powder or primers by mail, there will be a $25 hazardous materials fee for each package (not item, but boxes in which they're shipped) you receive. Also, I have yet to find a business which mixes primers and powder in the same package. If you're going to mail order either, get some friends who also reload to place orders for their needs to defray the costs (Besides, if you don't already reload, you're going to want some help with set up and some instruction, right?).

If you use range brass (and there's nothing wrong with that), beware that some (mainly polymer) pistols, like the Glock, generally have issues with bulged brass at the base. Over time, this brass will not feed reliably. There are a number of methods to deal with this, like roll-sizers ($$$$$) or some specialty dies. Proceed at your peril. You can generally feel this bulge, and many dies do not size the base low enough to completely get rid of the bulge.

If you decide to buy brass (and there's nothing wrong with that), you can lower the cost of purchase by reusing that brass. So, while $.18/round is somewhat expensive for brass, you'll reuse most of it multiple times, spreading out the cost. If you want another way to get bulk brass, just buy loaded ammo, run it thru your favorite unloader (mine's a M1911), keep track of the brass you shoot and pick it up after you're done. Lots of people like once-fired brass better than pristine. (Note--If you shoot bolt-action rifles, you'll get better results from fire-formed brass than from pristine or fully-sized brass. Use a neck sizer only after you fire form your brass, and it'll be custom to your rifle's chamber.)

Your mileage may vary here, but I've had no issues shooting unjacketed lead (moly coated and uncoated) thru my Glock. Granted, I'm more diligent about cleaning the barrel when I shoot lead thru my Glock (which isn't often, I'm not a Glock fan), but have had no ill effects. If you want, Lone Wolf Distributors makes a great aftermarket barrel, and one of the marketing points for it is you can use unjacketed lead in it. The biggest issue with Glock is the fact that shooting reloaded ammo (yours or anyone else's) voids your warranty, tread at your peril.

I recommend specifically against buying any Lee Precision progressive press, which is unfortunate, because most of their other equipment is outstanding an affordable. The reason I recommend against their progressives is the large number of important parts made of plastic--especially the primer feed system. I owned a Lee Loadmaster for several years, and spent a lot of money on spare parts to replace broken ones.

The Dillon 550B is NOT a true progressive press, as it requires a manual index of the shell plate. True progressive presses index the shell plate by using the lever--every time you pull the lever, the ram goes up and down, does all the operations, and the shell plate rotates. The 550B requires you to turn the shell plate by hand after each stroke.

R.S.O.'s point about buying dies made by he same manufacturer as the press is a good one, but not entirely accurate. Almost all dies are threaded the same, so they're theoretically interchangeable. However, the depth of the place where you screw them into the press can vary. If your die bodies are too short, they won't adjust or work properly. I currently use Lee dies on an RCBS single stage press with no issues. Lee dies have the advantage of coming with a shell holder, no other die sets do (at least as far as I can tell).

I wholeheartedly agree with R.S.O.'s point on the manuals. If you use a recipe someone else gives you, you're risking losing vital body parts. Don't be that guy/gal.

R.S.O.'s point about Boxer and Berdan priming is a good one, but many foreign manufacturers of handgun ammo use Berdan primers. Look into the case, and if you see two small holes instead of one relatively large one, it's not reloadable.

When cleaning your brass, a tumbler is not strictly necessary, it's just the most efficient and easiest method. You can clean brass with water and let it dry. When you go thru the sorting operation, make sure you check the cases for dings, dents, Berdan priming, and cracks. Dings and dents may not be a problem, discard Berdan and cracked cases. Also discard any steel and aluminum cases, as they're generally poor candidates for reloading.

R.S.O. is mostly correct that you don't need to lubricate most handgun brass if you use carbide dies. However, having reloaded a bunch of .500 S&W Magnum, I recommend lubing long cases, even if you're using carbide dies--I snapped a Lee Loader trying to resize .500 brass without lube. Additionally, most bottleneck cartridges (like many popular rifle calibers) require some lube to make the operation effective, even when you use carbide dies. I can't say this is strictly true for calibers like .400 Corbon or .357 SIG, but I refuse to own pistols chambered for these cartridges--they are answers to unasked questions, and if you're going to go to the bother of chambering a pistol to mostly .40 S&W or .45 ACP, why not just go with the straight wall version and use heavier bullets?

R.S.O. omitted a step--you have to prime the cases. Make sure you use the appropriate primers. One thing to note, some popular calibers (like .45 ACP) have manufacturers who have switched from large to small primers, so pay attention--especially if you're using range brass. It is generally not smart to interchange rifle primers for pistol primers--there's a reason why they make primers specifically for rifles and pistols. Also, be aware that using a magnum primer in a non-magnum cartridge will give you inconsistent velocity.

Three additional sources for reloading supplies: (based in Columbia, Missouri) (based in Montezuma, Iowa; they recently acquired Sinclair International) (based in Mexico, Missouri)

Martha in Indiana's Whole Wheat Bread
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Dissolve the honey and yeast in the water in a large crockery bowl.
Pray for 5 minutes while the yeast "activates", becoming foamy.
Stir in 3 c. W.W. Flour, stir for 5 minutes to develop gluten.
Add 1/3 c. Honey, 4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 c. Applesauce and stir for another 5 minutes.
Add flour (6-7 cups) till a stiff dough is formed.
Turn out on floured board and knead until elastic and smooth.  A good test to see if it is kneaded enough is to pick up the dough and then drop it, it shouldn't stick to your hand.
Place dough in a greased crockery bowl and place in a slightly warmed oven into which you have put a pan/bowl of warm water.  Dough rises much better in a warm (not hot!), moist, environment. Let rise for 40 minutes or till it doubles in volume.
Punch down and divide/shape into 4 loaves.  Place in pans and let rise for 40 - 60 minutes in a warm/moist oven.  Remove from oven and preheat to 350 degrees, bake for 40 minutes or until it sounds "hollow" when loaf is thumped.  After turning out to cool, I baste the tops of the loaves with butter.

Chef's Notes:

I've used this simple recipe for whole wheat bread for almost 30 years.  It always turns out well. I have ground my own flour using hard red winter wheat and used it in the recipe as well as store bought whole wheat flour, both work equally well.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

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

Kevin S. suggested this piece : Be Resilient, Part I: How to Measure Resilience

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Steve H. sent this: New FBI Surveillance Backdoors? Six Key Points

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North Korea 'executes three people found guilty of cannibalism'. One man... "reportedly resorted to cannibalism after supplies to the city dwindled in the wake of the government's disastrous efforts to reform the currency triggered rampant inflation and worsened already critical food shortages."

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Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report recommended this piece: How Government Wrecked the Gas Can

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Finding a pre-1899 gun among junk

"If you are unwilling to defend your right to your own lives, then you are merely like mice trying to argue with owls. You think their ways are wrong. They think you are dinner."  - Terry Goodkind in "Naked Empire"

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Today we present three more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 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.

Let me start with this statement: You should be in good cardio condition to survive the acronyms, and I can help you get there. Like the guy that sells Men’s clothing say’s … “I guarantee it!”
Why is it important? Because life ain’t a video game! Anyone that visits this site more than once, I would hope, has enough knowledge to know you won’t be playing this game sitting on the couch. And while it would be nice to think of all our fellow men as “good people” … we know when the going gets tough: the un-prepared and desperate folks, and bad guys, will get going.
Even if you live in the perfect dream come true enclave in the Great American Redoubt, you still have to protect it, and you still have to hunt/gather/plant/harvest food and water. If you have a retreat, but don’t live there – you have to get there – and don’t assume you’ll be able to drive. If you live in a big city, suburb or small town – sooner or later, you gotta leave the house. And when you leave your house, whether to patrol you’re area, gather intelligence, scavenge for food/water, or are forced to leave – you need to be in good enough physical condition to stay ahead of the bad guys. It would be nice if you were so stealthy, that you could always avoid dangerous encounters. But when you come face to face with trouble, you have two choices: Fight or Flight. I won’t go into ‘fight’, since that’s a whole different topic and I just read a great article by Gunfighter on small team tactics; but for ‘flight’ – there is no choice but to be in the best condition you can. And I don’t care how far out of shape you are, you can improve. Frankly, if ANYONE depends on you, then you owe it to them to be in good enough shape to do your part and help out.

Brief Background. I was very active in my 20s and early 30s. But the combination of getting married (and my wife is a great cook), having a job that keeps me at a desk 8+hrs/day, and generally staying home with the family ….. all came together, so that by the time I was in my early 40s, it’s fair to say I was out of shape – big time. I'm 6 feet tall, but weighed 225 pounds, with a medium frame. However, at the age of 47, I achieved Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. That Black Belt test was the most grueling physical thing I have ever done. How did I go from around 45 pounds overweight, and not able to climb two flights of stairs without breathing hard – to surviving a 5hr beating that is a Black Belt test?

This is how you get there, no matter what kind of shape you are in now: Set some goals, Get off your ‘six’ and start, create and follow a training plan. I’ve included mine to help you get started.
After getting in the physical condition required to survive a Black Belt test, you might ask – what are you training for now? For me, it’s simply to be in good enough condition to stay ahead of trouble. At age 50, I don’t pretend that I can take on all threats alone, martial arts training or not. So my goal is that, as I mentioned at the start of this article , if I have to ‘flight’ from a situation, I have a plan: if they run – I run faster, when they start to slow down to a jog  – I keep running, when they slow to a walk – I keep jogging, if they stop – I keep walking. My goal is to put some distance between myself and the threat, and plot my next steps from safety. Knowing that predators are usually after easy targets, they usually won’t follow you for long. And in the condition most folks are in these days, they can’t. So my training goal became: be able to evade, run/jog/walk, for as long as it takes. In my estimation, that would put me in good enough condition to elude most threats. You can tailor your end state goal to your environment and situation. But don’t fool yourself … you cannot be invisible, and will not be able to fight in all circumstances. Except Chuck Norris, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him run?
How to begin … Make a commitment and start! Set a goal and commit to improving. You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest by the end of week one. By taking it in steps, you will be able to get there. As you achieve a milestone, set a new one, until you ultimately get in the condition you think serves you well. For me, the first thing I needed to do is get my weight down to a reasonable, healthy level. I targeted 180lbs, based on where I was before I got married. Second, I needed to be able to function with my heart rate up in the 170-180bpm range for an extended period of time, with short periods of going full out. When I started training in martial arts, I could not even spar for two minutes before being winded! So the strategy is to improve over time, and be realistic. It took me a year to get to where I could jog five miles without stopping, at a pace to finish in one hour. That’s 6mph, or a 10 minute mile. Pretty reasonable target. And in the process, I dropped 45lbs in about six months.
Depending on where you are, you can start at any level below.

·         Starting Out
   My initial training step was to walk for an hour, as fast as I can. Keeping track of how far I went in that hour. If you are out of shape and overweight … you might do this several weeks, or a few months, to start building some cardio strength. Be patient and persistent.
·         Two Intervals (Walk and Jog)

   My next step was to begin adding level of difficulty in intervals. As I mentioned, I could only jog for about 2 minutes when I started. So what I did was … jog for 2 min, walk fast for 5 min, and repeat. At first, I couldn’t do that for an hour, I ended up walking more than jogging. It took me a few weeks to get there.

   Next step is simply to keep increasing the intervals. When I go to the gym, I do intervals in minutes. When I go to the county park and run either on the ¼ mi oval running track or the 2 mi trail, I switch between doing intervals by time or distance. It’s nice to mix it up so you don’t get bored. Start off by just trying to keep moving, whatever pace you run so you can jog the whole ¼ mile, then walk ¼ mile, repeat and keep that up for an hour or 5 miles, whichever comes first. When you can do that, move to jogging ½ mile, walk ¼ mile. Then jog 1 mile, walk ¼ mile. Etc, etc. Until you can jog the full five miles. Once you can jog five miles, work on pace. The first time I was actually able to jog five miles without stopping, it took me a little over an hour. Over time, I was able to pick up the pace, and now I can jog five miles in about 40-45 minutes. Why did I pick five miles? A professional trainer once told me: “If someone can run five miles, I can train them to run a marathon”. So I thought is must be a good target?
·         Three intervals (run/jog/walk)

   Now that you have a good cardio base, you can start to train for evasion scenarios. It’s time to add a third interval – sprinting. As with the plan above, I add time or distance in the mix for sprinting. Initially, I used the same strategy as above, to continuously improve. I downloaded a free interval timing app to my iPhone, but you could do the same thing with a watch. Try starting with 15 sec sprint, 30 sec jog, 2 min fast walk, repeat. Not as easy as it sounds, especially after an hour. Keep increasing to a target you believe will meet your needs. Again, my goal is to be able to sprint until the bad guy slows down and put a little distance between me and the threat, then stay ahead until I get to a safe area. I am getting to where I can flat out sprint for a several minutes, run hard at a fast pace for several minutes more, decreasing to a jog for a minute or two to recover and allow my heart rate to drop, the run hard again if needed.

·         Advanced Training?

   First and foremost – you can start training in a Gym, on a treadmill. But that just doesn’t duplicate real world. You will find that actually running on a track is harder. And a jogging trail is a step up in difficulty from a track. So to keep taking in to the next step, keep making it more real ... Try running trails, up and down hills, thru heavy woods, tall grass, in the middle of the hot summer, even in the rain. All that keeps it interesting, and you won’t get as bored doing the same thing day after day. Secondly, mix up the training – variety is more fun. Some days I just jog. Some days I do mix up intervals based on time – two intervals (2 min jog / 5 min walk), some days three intervals (15 s sprint / 30s jog / 2min walk), or mix up the distance ( ¼ mile sprint, 1mile jog, ¼ mile walk). Also, I have found it helps me to take a day off and rest. I don’t work out on Sunday, regardless of whether I missed a day during the week, for whatever reason.

   Lastly, consider training with your G.O.O.D., BOB, or SWM (stays with me) gear. What are the chances you may have to evade while toting one of these? How far can you walk with a 50 lb G.O.O.D. pack? Can you jog with a 20 lb BOB? How fast can you run with a SWM bag? (Mine is a medium size fanny pack.)

Measuring Success. Obviously, one measure of success is the increase in distance and rate you can run. But, if you are like me, you want cake and to be able to eat it too. The best part of all this is, you can eat what you want, and still get in shape. You don’t have to eat grass and pine cones, join a gym or hire a personal trainer. Here is tip … Get a cheap bathroom scale, and learn some simple math to measure success. Your Weight = Food – Exercise. Understand, to get your weight where it needs to be, it doesn’t matter what you eat, as much as if you are burning it up. This article isn’t about nutrition, just how to know if you are moving in the right direction. So, jump on the scale each day, and if over time: a) weight stays the same – then you are burning the food you eat, and are balanced; b) if, over time, weight is increasing – you are either eating too much or not exercising enough; c) if, over time, your weight is decreasing – you are expending more energy than you are eating. It’s really pretty simple.

I use these free iPhone apps and found them to be very valuable:

  • WalkingGPS – This is a great app to track exactly where you have been, and it even plots your path on a map. Measures distance, time, rate, and even altitude change. I’ll bet the first time you walk what you ‘think’ is five miles, you are way off, it’s further than you think. This will keep you honest. It’s also easy to see the pace you are moving at in real time. So you know if you are jogging at 4mph (15min mile), 6mph (10min mile) or 10mph (6min mile). I’ll bet the first time you try to run at 8mph you are shocked at how fast that really is?
  • IntervalTimer – I can set it up to alert me when it’s time to walk, jog, sprint and listen to music at the same time. I’ve saved several … Jog/Walk: 2m/5m, 10m/2m or Sprint/Jog/Walk: 15s/30s/2min, 1m/4m/1m, etc.
  • Lose It! – great way to track your weight over time, and does a great job of helping you keep track of calories if you want to.

My daughter was recently in an Earth Science class where a discussion took place.   The other students didn’t know that the dandelion with the yellow flower and the dandelion with the white seeds were one and the same.  And this is from students who have taken numerous public school science classes and will soon be out in the adult world.  As I told this to a close friend, she made the observation that this will be the level and skills of people we will be dealing with should TEOTWAWKI happen.  My heart hurts that children aren’t taught to think and how to ask appropriate questions.  Some never develop a thirst for knowledge.  They are simply unprepared to live an independent and self-sufficient lifestyle.

As a 12-year homeschooling mom, I have some thoughts and ideas to share with others concerning children and the area of preparedness.   I realize that many readers of Survival Blog may have already raised their family and would instinctively pass by this article.  But are any of you grandparents, aunts, uncles, or neighbors of younger children?   I recently spent the day with a curious youngster who asked many questions of “how” and “why” I was doing things throughout the day.  It occurred to me what an opportunity it was to engage a young mind and body into the everyday life of a prepper. 
Children can be very intelligent.  My husband’s mother loved to tell the story of when they hired a handyman to do some wiring in their home.  My husband, who was 3 or 4 and didn’t talk much, quietly said “It won’t work.”  Sure enough, when his dad got home the wiring wasn’t done correctly and the lights didn’t come on.  They were wowed at the thought that their young son could see this.
In parenting, my first thought is that a child must be involved in what the mom, dad, or perhaps another adult is doing.  Do your very best to not put the child aside to play while you “get some things done.”  At first, having the child assist you will certainly slow you down, but after a while the child can be a real asset as he learns to think and process ideas.

About a month ago I visited a friend to discuss vacuum sealing mason jars and brought various supplies to demonstrate.  The three young children in the family were fascinated by the discussion and function of vacuum sealing.  The 7-year-old boy suggested an experiment to try and it worked!  But what would he have learned or been able to contribute if he were merely told to go play?
In my own prepping journey, I have researched sun ovens.  I do intend to purchase a professionally manufactured one, but right now I am experimenting with a solar funnel cooker made from a car windshield sun shade.   I can only get the temperature inside the cooking pot to 225 degrees, but it will definitely cook food on sunny days even if the weather is chilly.
My curious young neighbor asked plenty of questions when I set the cooker up on the patio.  I was conducting an experiment to increase the temperature by putting a mirror in the funnel.  (Surprisingly, my efforts failed as I got higher temperatures without the mirror).  But it was “fuel” for me and my young friend to discuss. 

Here is a link to show you how to build your own for under ten dollars.  And it shows a father and his daughter working together to make the video and demonstrate the oven.  Awesome!   
What fun to involve a child and cook things like “baked” potatoes, brownies, or simply heat up already cooked food (for quick and impressive results).  You both learn important skills that could actually be used in emergency/disaster situations.  As your skills grow, you can research more recipes to try and build on the knowledge you have gained.
This past year I saw some videos on the StoveTec Rocket Stove.  For my birthday I asked for and received one.  It is an amazing stove that I will get many years of use from.  It will be invaluable in the event of emergency, but it’s also fun and practical to use now.  After we ordered our stove, I stumbled across a video that showed someone who made a rocket stove with a few pieces of concrete.  It’s called a Redneck Rocket Stove.  Here’s a link to show how it works and how to make it.

Although I love my StoveTec stove, I must say the “Redneck” one is cheap, EASY to set up, and with adult supervision, a child could operate and cook on it.  As you can see in the video, this is an efficient little stove fueled by sticks easily gathered in the yard.  I plan to teach some classes in disaster preparedness in our community and will demonstrate this little stove, as I think every family should know how to make and set up one of these stoves in their back yard.

In reality, an open camp fire and little ones cause me to be more than a little jumpy and nervous.   From what I have read, children in 3rd world countries have fallen into open cooking fires and
have been horribly burned.  But this technology makes a contained fire that, with supervision, is much safer.  With adult help, a child from age 7 on up could be taught fire building skills and outdoor cookery.  So whether you want to roast some hot dogs and marshmallows on a starry summer night, cook a side dish to accompany meat grilled on the BBQ, or want to cook up a fantastic chili or stew, the rocket stove provides the means to hone those outdoor cooking skills for yourself and your child.

A word of caution.  You know your child.  Only you can decide when they are responsible enough to do this without supervision.  I do urge you to err on the side of caution when it comes to fire safety.  When finished, make sure the fire and coals are completely out.  You wouldn’t want your carelessness to be the reason of a fire disaster.
In continuing on our preparedness journey, my husband saw a need to “get out of town” and about 8 years ago we were able to move to the country.  This by itself was invaluable as we saw and heard our first mockingbird, realized that the sunrise and sunset pattern changes with the seasons, that the moon rises almost an hour later each night, that the constellations are in different places according to time and season, and many other amazing things.  We looked and learned and discussed and learned some more.  Can you REALLY eat dandelion greens and make jelly from the flowers?  Can plantain really take the itch out of mosquito bites and poison ivy as well as take the swelling out of bee stings?  Could an old fashioned remedy of plantain and soaking in Epsom salt reverse the horrible flesh damage caused by a brown recluse spider bite?  Even when the doctor said it was the worst case he had seen and my brother would have to endure surgery to remove a large amount of damaged flesh?  Yes, we learned all this and more by simply stopping to ask questions, look and observe, and gather information when we didn’t know the answers.

Something we did in our family is to choose good books to read aloud from the time the children were little on up to the teen years.  These books have made impressions that will be with us a lifetime.  It was a time investment on my part, but I believe the returns from the information gained was well worth the effort.  Everyone loves a good story.  When you can actually learn while being entertained, so much the better.
We started with the Little House on the Prairie series.  This pleased my daughter, but my 6-year-old son said he was not going to listen to a story about girls!  I read aloud anyway and he inched his way closer as he became interested in the story.  Needless to say, we finished that series and it is a happy memory we share. 

Stories of hardship and perseverance are always good ones to read.  It was probably my fascination with pioneer life that put me on the preparedness path I am on today.
Another set of books that we especially enjoyed was the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody.  The first  book, Father and I Were Ranchers and the third book, The Home Ranch, are most enlightening.  Like the Little House books, these are also true stories. They will especially appeal to boys 10 and up, but contains information both genders can learn from.  The young boy, Ralph, tells how his family moved out west, endured hard times, and then the father dies.  Ralph becomes the man of the family and goes to work to provide for his mother and siblings.  It is an amazing example of working hard and overcoming adversity.  It is also a loving tribute to a father who knew how to think, how to solve problems, and who in turn taught his son to do the same.

The book Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Donn Fendler is a fascinating true tale of a young boy who is lost in the wilderness and almost doesn’t make it out alive.  This story is invaluable to open up discussion of what and what not to do when lost in the wilderness.

A favorite story we read aloud, Freckles , is a work of fiction by Gene Stratton Porter. “Freckles” was orphaned in the early 1900’s.  His hand had been severed from his arm and he was simply left on the steps of a building when he was a baby.  Upon turning 18, he is released from an orphanage in a large city, and must now live and provide for himself.  He ends up at a logging camp and is given an opportunity to prove himself on a job, in spite of his handicap.  The grueling days, overcoming fear of the wilderness in which he finds himself, and battling thieves has you rooting for Freckles.  It is a real page turner.  A book is great, in my opinion, when it can engage children through adult level.  My daughter recently recommended it to a guy friend to read and he loved it.   My sister borrowed our book to take on a trip with her husband.  She read it aloud while he drove.  After the first chapter her husband said his “emotions had emotions.”  They, too, were drawn into the story and learned many things about natural science as well.

Another book we enjoyed was Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham.   It tells of a young boy whose dreams of an education are dashed when his father puts him in an apprenticeship which he legally can’t break.  He works hard and then self-educates as he finishes his obligation.  His main text book was a King James Bible.  He then goes on to change nautical history.  Although I was hesitant about reading this book in the first few chapters with my teens (due to it at first being geared to a younger audience and talked about “luck” which I do not believe in), I was glad we continued on.  It transitions to when the boy gets older and decides he wants to learn and be educated more than anything.  This is based on a true story that clearly shows the need for self-education and how to do it. 
Whether we choose to homeschool or not, parents are their children’s teachers.  And as we prepare for the worst and hope for the best, we need to ask “How will children be educated in an TEOTWAWKI situation”?  Families may have no choice but to homeschool.  How do you prepare for that?

Locate good materials (even through garage sales and thrift stores) and keep them for the future. Do not only buy math books and dry text books (they DO have their place), but choose good quality books such as I have mentioned and whet their appetites for lifelong learning. 

In a lot of preparedness articles I have read, the authors caution you to know how to use your supplies.  The time to learn is not after disaster strikes.  How true this is.  So make the best of the time you have now.  Whether you have a 3-year-old, a teen, or are just a concerned friend of a family with children, start investing in the lives of young people now.  Teach them skills.  Even if you are just beginning to learn yourself, involve the kids in what you are doing.  Ask them questions and wait for the answers.  Help them think through problems.  Help them come up with solutions. Help them help themselves.  Their lives (as well as yours) may depend upon it.

While we are all preparing for something most of us are not financially secure there for we must stretch our Dollars as long as we have them as a form of currency. 

Here in falls the concept of reloading your own ammunition.  Because face it we need to practice and we need to store for when the supply runs out.  Let’s start by doing a little math, Ammo 9mm Luger Winchester USA 115 Grain FMJ 1190 fps 100 Round Box $21.11 x 10 = $211.10 bought online.  Now let’s order the individual component parts online and see how much we save Winchester Bulk Bullets 9mm 115 grain FMJRN = $105.10, Winchester Small Pistol Primers 1,000 = $29.95, Powder 1 pound about $20.00, Winchester Bulk Brass 9mm = $176.30.  Ok total to load your own 1000 rounds of 115 Grain FMJ = $331.35 now you’re saying to yourself that’s $120.25 more than if I just bought it already loaded there’s no savings to heck with this idea right?  Wrong!  Take a look around next time you go to the range or your favorite outdoor shooting spot how much 9mm brass is just laying around.  LOTS and LOTS all you have to do is pick it up, and as for the powder on average you can load 1200 to 1400 rounds of ammo with just 1 pound.  Hmmm, so let’s take just the price of brass $176.30 out of the equation that will leave us with a grand total of $155.05 for 1,000 rounds of loaded ammo that is a savings of $56.05 or roughly 27%.  Greater savings can be had by buying plated and lead bullets. (If you shoot a handgun with a Polygonal rifling such as a Glock DO NOT USE unjacketed lead bullets!)

I think if you have made it this far into the article you are now saying to yourself but the equipment is expensive.  This statement is true for the most part however there are many different manufactures to choose from thus making it a matter of figuring out how fast you want to load your 1000 rounds.  You can get a RCBS ROCK CHUCKER SUPREME PRESS you will need to buy Dies (single stage) for MSRP $ 202.95, or a Lee Breech Lock Challenger Press you will need to buy Dies (single stage) for MSRP $94.00 or a Lee PRO 1000 9MM LUGER (progressive press includes Dies) for MSRP $254.00. Another option is the Dillon Square Deal 'B' (progressive press includes Dies will not load Rifle ammo) for MSRP $379.95 or the Dillon RL550B you will need to buy Dies (progressive press loads Rifle ammo) for MSRP $439.95.  I can go on and find all the presses that are available and put prices in here but then I might as well just open a store and sell the stuff too. (Note to self, find investor open store)  Ok do some more research on your own talk to friends other people at the range find out what they like and WHY.  Before we get too much further I am not employed by nor do I receive any kickbacks from any of the above mentioned Manufactures, however I was at one time employed by Dillon Precision.  Yes I do like there products I have used them for over 10 years and the Lifetime "No-B.S." Warranty is great!  Links to some key manufacturers mentioned are listed at the bottom of this article.

You will need to buy Reloading Dies for most of the machines listed.  The Dies range in price from about $29.95 to $63.95 depending on which company you go with.  If you by a Lee reloader and Dillon Dies you may need to buy 1 more Die for the system to work correctly and yet if you buy a Dillon machine and Lee Dies you may not use 1 of the Dies. My strong recommendation is to use Dies made by the same company that made your Reloader.

Most of the companies also have some sort of case prep Deals (i.e. Starter Kits) these kits should include a Scale that weighs in Grains (the industry standard unit of measure), a case tumbler (the thing that cleans the brass), media (the actual cleaning material), a bottle of polish (so the brass is shiny again), a set of dial calipers (used to measure the dimensions throughout the loading process), and a Reloading manual (this is where we find all the data needed to make SAFE ammo).  On a side note your-cousins-sisters-boyfriend once used X amount of powder Y on a ### grain bullet will cause you to BLOW UP your GUN, HAND, FACE, and other things you DO NOT want to BLOW UP!!!  If someone gives you a recipe for a load look it up in a RELOADING manual before ever trying.  Your Best friend in reloading is your RELOADING Manuel get lots of them cross reference them with each other if it’s not in a book DO NOT TRY IT!!  Most powder manufactures put out FREE manuals every year or so. BUY multiple Manuals from different manufactures they are worth it, lots of research has gone into them so you will not hurt yourself.

Your initial investment will be around $1,000 for one caliber this is a lot of money.  However if money is no longer good for anything other than fire starter then having it will do you no good. Invest in Heavy Metals (lead) keep a comfortable amount on hand.  Set a minimum and maximum number of loaded rounds that you want to keep on hand then set a minimum number of projectiles, primers, and pounds of powder that you want as your supply.  Remember that powder and primers are the only parts of the ammo that may go bad if not stored properly or for too long.  Powder should be bought and rotated often if you buy 2 pounds every time you stock up use 1 from your old supply and put the 2 new ones into your reserve.  Then the next time you buy powder use the ones on the shelf to load and put the new ones in their place on the shelf.  This practice is much like rotating your stored food. 

Loading rifle ammo is a little more complex than handgun ammo but the primary principles are the same with a few added steps.  Rifle brass has to be identified as boxer or Berdan primed, brass cased or steal case.  The Berdan cases have two off-center flash holes and are difficult to de-prime because of this without special Berdan tools and very time consuming.  I have heard of steel cases being reloaded however I strongly recommend against it due to the case being more rigid than brass and possibly having unseen cracks that would cause a catastrophic failure.

The principal steps of reloading handgun ammo.  You will start by acquiring your brass, and then separate it by caliber.  The next step in the process is to clean and polish it this is accomplished by using a tumbler and a medium such as crushed corn cob or crushed walnut shells and adding in a polishing compound.  The polishing compound is not necessary but it does make the brass look almost new again.  Step number three is to separate the media from the brass.  In step four you will start the transformation from fired case to loaded ammo by sizing the brass using hopefully a carbide re-sizer for the appropriate caliber being loaded.  If not you will have to lubricate the brass before sizing.  In step five you will be flaring the case mouth, this makes it easier to insert and seat the projectile.  Step six is adding the proper amount of gun powder for the chosen load.  Be very careful to not over or under charge the load this too can cause a catastrophic failure.  In step seven you will be placing the projectile in to the top of the case so that the properly adjusted bullet seating Die will press the projectile into the case.  Step eight is to crimp the brass and remove the bell from the case mouth, so that the bullet will be held securely.  This will keep the projectile from being pushed back into the case in a semi-automatic handgun or shaken loose in a revolver.  Step nine in this process is to use your micrometer to check the overall dimensions of the loaded round.  The best part of this process is finally here you’ve made several small batches with different powder weights.  You’ve placed them in separate containers and labeled them accordingly, you now need your reloading log book (this is just a notebook that you keep) with the load data entered onto different pages the only thing missing is in the results section.  Now it’s time to go to the range and find out which batch works best in your gun or guns. Don’t forget to enter your results!

The difference between rifle and handgun ammo reloading comes at the beginning of the case preparation.  Rifle brass will need to be measured prior to loading if it is too long you will need to trim it to within the specifications listed in your loading manual.

The reason to reload is so you will be able to resupply yourself and your group with quality low cost ammunition for training and during a SHTF scenario the ability to stay in the fight.

I hope this article has given something to think about and give you another option for procuring one of the three primary supply that are needed in TEOTWAWKI: Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids you can never have enough.  As always stay alert and Prepare for the Worst and Pray for the Best.

Online Vendor Resources:

Dear Editor:
There are a few errors in J.C.'s article posted 5/19/12. I am a registered nurse that has delivered many babies in hospital and in home and other emergency locations. My comments are in bold type.

J.C. wrote:
Make sure to never pull on the baby's head. Do apply gentle downward traction while someone pushes firmly down superior to mother's pubic bone.

This counter pressure is usually only done if there is a problem delivering the shoulders not as a routine intervention.

Once the baby delivers the top shoulder, then release all pressure by everyone and tell mom to push.

It is much easier on Mom and baby to have the mother get on her hands and knees which opens the pelvic area significantly and allows the baby to proceed with the process of being born without interventions.
Some items that I would like to touch on would be minor complications. One such issue is that the "water never broke" or the placenta has not ruptured.

These are two separate conditions that the writer is treating as the same thing and it is not. Placentas should not rupture. Placentas are embedded into the uterine wall at the beginning of the pregnancy and supply via a cord (the umbilical cord) all the nutrients and oxygen that the baby needs during life in the womb. The writer is referring to two different structures that develop throughout the pregnancy, the amniotic fluid sac also called the bag of waters, holds the amniotic fluid within which the infant is cushioned and the placenta which is attached to the uterine wall and provides all the nutrients and oxygen a baby requires. A ruptured placenta is not what the writer means.

"If this is the case, you will have to rupture the placenta".

You cannot nor should not rupture a placenta which is usually attached higher up the sides of the uterine walls.

Be careful that you do not hurt baby. Try to pull the membrane away from the baby and make a small puncture or incision. Then pull it apart with your fingers.

This statement is a “how- to- do” direction on rupturing the membranes of the amniotic sac, which really should only be done by a professional but it does not relate to the previous statement about the placenta. You want the placenta to be delivered " intact" or all in one piece if not, retained pieces of placenta will cause problems that even in this day and age can result in the loss of a mother's life if not addressed quickly.

I am an RN of 38+ years of experience  and have taught graduate nursing school for years so I fee confident in commenting on this subject from both a professional and personal point of view. I have another grandchild to deliver at home in December.

With My Regards, - P.C.

JWR Replies: Thanks for your sharing your expertise. I have already made immediate corrections to J.C.'s article, and re-posted it.

Drugmakers weigh emergency supply plan for Greece

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Patrice Lewis of the excellent Rural Revolution blog posted her account of the recent Preparedness Expo in Colorado.

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Those gadgety folks at Uncrate posted this: Bug Out Bag: Everything that you need to survive and thrive in the Apocalypse, all stuffed conveniently into one pack. (Thanks to Greg P. for the link.)

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Tara McKelvey of The Wall Street Journal asks: Could We Trust an Army of Killer Robots?

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Pinellas residents flock to 'Chickens 101' to learn about raising backyard hens. (Thanks to Greg C. for the link.)

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen." - Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Both of them are about childbirth. (There was a third, "Childbirth at Home, by J.C.", but it was removed post facto because of a prior copyright.) 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 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 never intended to be a homebirthing dad.  Our first child was born in the “normal” American way – in a hospital.  Physically, mom and baby came out fine.  But the scars from that experience still throb in our hearts many years later. 

The impersonal way hospital staff treated us; the overactive use of clinical equipment, terms, and technology; the fact that I had to keep briefing incoming personnel on our birth plan (since apparently they didn’t take the time to actually talk to read the copies I had provided, or talk to one another); the fact that they ordered my wife to lay on her back, which made the process excruciatingly slow and painful; the fact that the first thing my baby saw was a doctor dressed in a haz-mat suit; the way they whisked the baby away from mom as if the child were public property; the way they treated me like a useless observer and not the head, protector, and provider of my family; the forced hospital stay in a shared room, an uncomfortable bed, and with nothing to eat but sub-par food...the whole experience definitely convinced us that there had to be a better way to do this.

Unfortunately, our second birth did not allow for that.  Due to medical complications in the pregnancy, my wife had to get a non-emergency C-section.  It wasn’t that bad.  Our second hospital experience was better than the first -- but only by degrees.  Still present were the lack of communication by hospital staff, the impersonal way my wife, our baby, and I were treated by that staff, the way I was shoved aside, the way my wife was given orders, and so on.  Not to mention the price tag.  If it hadn’t been for our excellent health coverage at the time I’d still be paying for that birth years later.  Also notable was how after each hospital birth some designated staff member would come talk to us about how to use contraception to prevent another pregnancy -- as if pregnancy were an undesirable medical condition.  The hospitals sure make a lot of money off of parents’ love for their babies, but they do treat all of the parties as ignorant, blundering, or unwelcome troublemakers. 

When we found out the happy news that we were expecting our third, we once again wanted to do things differently.  We really didn’t want to go the hospital route because every time we dealt with an OB/GYN she treated my wife like a semi-idiot and treated me worse -- or simply ignored me.  We hoped that this time we wouldn’t be shoved around and have to make more unpleasant memories. 

We wanted to use a midwife and try for a normal birth, called a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean).  The bad news was that in our state, it was illegal for a mom to have a VBAC with a midwife or doula after having a C-section.  She had to be with an OB/GYN.  Few OB/GYNs in the area would even consider letting a woman attempt a VBAC, and then they would still insist on doing all the pre-operative procedures as if she had scheduled a C-section.  Invasive procedures and cold, clinical environments like hospital rooms work against a woman’s body and make it harder for her to relax and have her baby.  It was no surprise to learn that many of these moms had “failed” VBACs – meaning that sometime during labor they asked to go ahead and have a C-section.  To top it off, doctors are extremely unlikely to help a woman try for a VBAC if she has had more than one C-section.  My wife had already gotten one C-section; if we went to a hospital and got cornered into having another one, it seemed very likely that my wife and I would face a future of choosing between getting her repeatedly cut or not having more children.  I didn’t want my wife to be put under the knife – and in harm’s way from surgical complications – if it was unnecessary.

We learned a lot about the reasoning behind this law, and concluded that it was designed to prevent a tiny number of uterine ruptures – which happens 0.4% of the time in a VBAC .  We were more concerned about the 99% likelihood of having another bad birthing experience, and a bleak reproductive future.  Therefore, we used a loophole to prepare for the worst case scenario as well as the best case scenario.  Worst case, we’d have to get another C-section.  Fine.  So we got an OB/GYN and did our mandatory prenatal visits.  We were set if that was what circumstances called for.  But there was a loophole in the law.  While it prohibited midwives and doulas from assisting with VBACs, it didn’t outlaw unassisted childbirths (childbirths with no medical professionals present).  Since a UC would allow us to have maximum freedom in our birthing experience, we decided to try to have a baby on our own. 

This would take some serious training.  We had already read books on birth -- but that had not seemed to be of much help.  We needed more than book learning; we needed experience.  But the birth classes we had attended prior to our first birth had not helped at all.  We needed an intensive, hands-on, birth training course.  We wanted to be ready this time.  So we signed up for a Bradley method class. 

I was totally unfamiliar with the Bradley method prior to this time, and given that many readers may also be unaware of its origins, philosophy, and distinctives, I’ll take some time to explain.

Decades ago, a few Californians decided that the hospitalized birth experience I’ve described above -- and which tens of millions of Americans have gone through -- was not something they wanted to keep experiencing.  In fact, they believed that some if not most of the things about it -- its impersonality; marginalization of the mother, father, and child; overuse of drugs, et al -- were downright harmful to people.  So through research, experience, and training, they developed what is now known as the Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Childbirth.  Like the name suggests, its philosophy and technique of childbirth is centered around the husband-wife relationship.  What happy news that was to me as a hugely-engaged and devoted husband and father!  The American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth is headquartered in California and operated by the same family that founded it, the Hathaways.  Their web site is, and it offers links to find a class in your area, buy books, and much more. 

What we signed up for was a 12-week course that involved a workbook, weekly meetings, hands-on practice of birthing techniques, personal interaction with a certified instructor, and the opportunity to make like-minded friends in our area.  It cost $360, or $30 per class.  It turned out to be a bargain -- and the expense gave me an incentive to make sure we didn’t miss class unnecessarily!

I’d summarize the goal of the class as this: to teach expectant mothers and fathers how to enjoy a healthy, low-pain, natural childbirth together without the use of drugs and unnecessary medical intervention. 

We met for a few hours each week at a local birthing center.  Six expectant couples were part of the class, taught by a Bradley-certified instructor who had given birth herself without drugs (and yes, it had been a positive experience!).  Her husband was also on-hand occasionally to help.  He had been the one who “caught” their babies.  Contrary to popular belief, an everyday father is fully qualified to do that!

Every week, we did floor exercises, practiced relaxing using visualization, learned a lot about the physiology and psychology of women in pregnancy and labor, and overall built our relationship as couples.  The husband-wife bond is strengthened by the husband’s involvement in the pregnancy and birth.  The Bradley method strengthens the marriage even further by placing the husband and wife right in the center of the birthing experience.  No doctors, midwives, nurses, or anesthesiologists can do for a woman in normal labor what her tuned-in, trained husband can do for her.  The Bradley method classes taught me how to listen to my wife better, recognize her physical and emotional cues, soothe her, encourage her, and support her while she does the amazing work of giving birth to a baby -- the way God intended it to be. 

The act of giving birth involves every part of a lady: her mind, her emotions, and yes, her body.   Mom needs to pay attention to what she’s eating.  She needs to keep harmful toxins (alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, paint fumes, etc) out of her body during the entire pregnancy if for no other reason than to protect the baby from developing birth defects.  She also needs to make sure that she eats appropriate foods so that the baby can get the building blocks he needs to grow.  She should also eat well to help herself.  If she doesn’t eat enough calcium to provide for her and the baby’s needs, for example, the baby will draw calcium from her teeth and bones and she’ll develop a deficit that could lead to osteoporosis.

Birth is a physical feat that demands more strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health than many sports full-grown men play.  Mom should do whatever possible before and during pregnancy to improve her health through appropriate exercise.

The Bradley method classes teach a number of birth-specific exercises to strengthen the muscles mom will be using during birth.  As a dad, I found it helpful to do these exercises with mom to encourage her and to also strengthen these oft-neglected parts of my own body.

Years ago I learned about the physics of flight while in a civilian aeronautics group.  It made dealing with turbulence during commercial flights so much more bearable because I understood that what was happening was not life-threatening.  It was normal. 

Mom should know that pregnancy and childbirth are normal.  They’re probably not what she’s used to, but they are normal.  Her body was made for it the way a man’s body was made strong for work and for protecting the family.  The Bradley method classes and literature are good sources of information for moms and dads preparing for childbirth.  A little bit of knowledge can calm many unneeded anxieties.

Dad should also remember that what is happening is normal.  Nothing in my life has scared me as much as the sight of my wife going through great pain – and being ignorant of how to make it stop.  That was during our first birth when we were woefully unprepared.  But in subsequent natural childbirths, I have seen her go through the same stages of childbirth faster and with much less pain simply because she and I knew what was happening in her body, and what to do about it. 

Please note that the Bradley method does not disparage the medical profession, but rather seeks to put medical professionals in their proper place in the hierarchy of a birth team -- as supporting cast members, not the stars of the show.  Mom and dad are star and co-star of this performance, and ought to seek the expertise and resources of trained medical professionals when conditions necessitate them.

As a father of a C-section baby, I had a good appreciation for these medical professionals.  I had experienced the blessing of modern medicine.  But again, I had also experienced the heartache that comes from being treated like a number and not a person by the same medical professionals.  In an emergency, I still look for a doctor.  When things are going fine though, a doctor is overkill at best and a hazard at worst. 

I consider self-education, appropriate exercise, and proper nutrition fundamental to any mom and dad preparing for childbirth.  But the one thing I value above all else – the thing that I think made the crucial difference between an unhappy, painful, and prolonged childbirth and two peaceful, quick ones – is the practice of husband-coached visualization and relaxation.

We learned about and practiced one new technique each week in our Bradley method classes.  Our homework for the week largely consisted of spending 20 minutes twice each day practicing the technique.  I’d say we got in about half as many practice sessions as we should have prior to our third birth.  (Compare that to about one or two sessions total prior to our first birth.) 

Man, oh man, what a difference it made!  Mom’s muscle memory remained intact several years later when she gave birth to number four after only a few weeks of refresher practice sessions. 

Again, this isn’t rocket science.  The techniques aren’t mystical or complicated.  It’s stuff like visualizing a rainbow and thinking about each color, one at a time, while dad helps mom focus on relaxing each body part, one at a time.  The hardest and most important thing about it, in my opinion, is making the time and space to practice and focusing on what you’re doing.  Getting good at these techniques is a lot like getting good at prayer, or the violin, or being a good listener.  Thinking about it or reading about it is no substitute for doing it – and you get out of it only what you put into it.

The science behind it is simple: like other living creatures, a woman in birth does best when she is in a near-sleep state – muscles relaxed, mind calm, not distracted, and alone (or nearly alone).  God made her body know what to do – her primary task is to let go, give in, give up, and let it happen.  Dad helps by gently reminding her (“coaching,” in Bradley-speak) of this.  I never felt like I did my job all that well, but my wife always tells me afterwards “I couldn’t have done it without you.  You knew just what to say and just what to do.”  Men, the opportunity to be your wife’s rock during childbirth is a gift of God and I strongly encourage you to take up your swords and shields, carve out the time necessary to prepare for this, and be your wife’s coach/champion.

Weeks before the anticipated due date, we picked out a location where my wife could give birth.  We have other children in our home, so we wanted to pick a location that had the following characteristics:

  • a door that locks
  • as far away as possible from where the other kids sleep and play
  • has access to a toilet, sink and tub
  • can be warmed via electric or other heater

We thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the space weeks ahead of time, and stashed our gear nearby in boxes or bags so that things would be easy to get to once mom began active labor.  Scissors and other things used on the umbilical cord had been sanitized and stored in new Ziploc bags.  Cloth diapers, towels, and other laundry had been washed and dried in baby-friendly Dreft laundry detergent, and stored in new, clean plastic or paper bags.

We had babysitters on-call if labor occurred during the day or evening, but thankfully our home births have begun and concluded during the wee hours when everybody is usually asleep.

When mom and I saw that active labor had begun (indicated by things such as a broken water bag, loss of mucus plug, contractions at regular intervals, etc) we got things situated, made mom comfortable, and began to do what we had rehearsed so many times before: we relaxed.

I kept track of how long her contractions lasted so that we could have an idea of how things were going.  I shuttled back and forth between the kitchen and birthing space when needed to get drinks or wet down a cool washcloth for her forehead.  I kept my eyes wide open to check for any hint of distress in her or the baby.  Primarily though I was there next to her, holding her, massaging her, and encouraging her with reassuring words such as, “you’re doing a great job.”  I helped her relax her muscles and went through visualization techniques during contractions.

Then, when she felt the urge to push, I kept encouraging her and communicating with her, watching for anything unusual, and getting her what she needed.  Mom sometimes changed positions, and I helped to steady her when needed.  Finally, she passed through the “ring of fire” that occurs when the baby’s head stretches the perineum to the max, and our child began to enter the world.

As with everything else, I let my wife set the pace for this phase of the birth.  Sometimes she caught her breath and paused; at other times she wanted to get it over with and bore down.  I was ready.  I’ve caught many a football and had no problem cradling our baby’s head in one hand while catching his body between my arm and chest.  He was safe, sound, and ours! 

After getting the mucous out of his airway, I gave our baby to my wife, who held him to her skin.  She was amazed.  She kept saying, “I can’t believe we did it,” and then, “I could do that again.”  She oohed and aahed over the baby. 

Because our third childbirth was such a positive experience, it redeemed the act of birth for us.  No doctors scared the baby into screaming with a slap; I held our baby while mom got situated.  No nurses whisked the baby away for measurements, drugs, and shots; I wrapped him up and handed him to mom.  We had done our homework and knew to make sure the cord wasn’t wrapped around his neck, and to make sure the mucous was out of his airway so he could breathe.  We had sterilized our equipment for cutting the umbilical cord.  All that went as smooth as silk.  The bottom line was that mom got to hold her baby without anybody telling her what to do, dad was the first person who held the baby, and that baby was healthy, safe, and loved. 

Mom’s labor was one-third the length of her first labor.  To me, it was miraculous.  And it was all possible because God had made a way for women and their husbands to give birth naturally, safely, and happily.  That is so typical of God!  Man comes along and tries to improve upon God’s procedures and what happens?  Things get complicated, upsetting, dangerous, invasive, expensive, and tragic.  I know it’s not possible in all cases, given complications that do occur (such as the ones that necessitated our C-section).  But we don’t make rules based on exceptions; we make exceptions to the rule.  And the rule is, “If God made it, it ain’t broke -- so don’t go trying to fix it!”

Mom’s postpartum recovery was the best she had experienced thus far.  She slid into her own bed, snuggled in her own sheets, and had her own husband waiting on her hand and foot while she slept next to her newborn baby.  We had all the necessary postpartum supplies on-hand.  It sure isn’t rocket science.  Anybody can do it with a little education and a few dollars of supplies. (see the list below)

As an added bonus to any fathers out there who might be considering doing what we did, consider this: the cost of our unassisted childbirth was less than $200.  Compare that to $2500 per day charges for a hospitalized childbirth, and $10,000 and up for a C-section.  As preppers living on a budget, unassisted childbirth is a no-brainer.

And in later years, it got better.  We recently had another UC.  This time, labor was even shorter, and mom and baby are once again happy, healthy, and home.  Mom would never go back to the hospital route and I am so blessed to have played a central role in the birth of my children.  There’s no place I’d rather be than protecting my wife, guiding her, and supporting her while she performs the penultimate act of womanhood: childbirth.  I am proud of her and grateful to God for the privilege.

I am also grateful to brave men and women such as Dr. Robert Bradley and Marjie and Jay Hathaway who fought medical and political bureaucrats to give everyday folks the right to experience birth free of state interference and corporate control.

Below is a gear list of things we used for our unassisted childbirths, with links to online merchants for reference and convenience.

For preparing the birthing space:

  • Whatever mom wants to make her comfortable, and nothing that she doesn’t!
  • Food (if mom is hungry, she can eat; if she’s not, she shouldn’t)
  • Drinks (water, Gatorade, etc)
  • Movies, music, audiobooks – very gentle, quiet stuff – only if mom wants
  • Candles (unscented or scented, depending on mom’s preference) – only if mom wants
  • Pillows, blankets, mats, anything to make the area soft and comfortable for the birthing mom
  • Large bowl in case mom vomits during labor
  • Puppy pads for absorbing lots of fluids - $9.99 at

For the laboring mom (if she’s using a birthing pool/bathtub):


For delivering the placenta:

  • Large bowl for catching the placenta
  • Garbage bag for storage or disposal

For cleaning up mom and baby immediately after birth:

For keeping baby warm and snuggly:

  • Baby wipes - $8.97 for 360 hypoallergenic wipes at

One of the following to clamp the umbilical cord:

  • Two 8” lengths of yarn or thick string


For cutting the cord:


For keeping the cord-cutting gear sterile:


For weighing the baby:

  • D-ring sling for newborn hanging scale - $21.95 at Midwifery Mercantile

For mom, postpartum:

  • OB pads - $2.99 for 12 at Midwifery Mercantile
  • A change of comfortable clothes
  • Ibuprofen to reduce postpartum swelling - $4.00 for 200 tablets at

This article is not intended to be a complete guide to childbirth.  We highly recommend enrolling in a Bradley method class in your area.  To find a local instructor, go to

Our favorite books and web sites where you can learn more about the Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Childbirth, or to learn about unassisted childbirth. 

Disclaimer: The information included in the preceding article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  Interested parties should thoroughly consult professionals and literature to be aware of possible complications and to determine the appropriate type of childbirth for their situation.

Other Useful Links:

Our society today views childbirth as a sickness that can only be managed by “professionals” in the hospital.  Babies that might come out blue and unresponsive, possible hemorrhaging, and babies that get stuck in the birth canal are all things that deter families from having births at home.  These are real issues and should not be ignored, but they make up only a small percentage of birth outcomes.  The vast majority of women in the world can and do give birth safely at home.   As fellow survivalists, we understand that the government and media either hide statistics or distort them.  The fact is that the U.S. is ranked 24th in infant mortality following such countries as Cuba, Portugal, and Singapore.  When one looks at the countries with the lowest mortality rates, at least 70% of the births are attended by midwives.  At the turn of the 20th century, that same statistic was true for our country.  Now home births account for less than 3% of all births.  In fact, in some of our major cities, nearly 50% of births are performed by a major surgical procedure known as Caesarean. When one investigates the facts concerning the safety and reasons for home birth, it is not hard to see that it is a better way to birth.  Regardless of opinion and inclinations during normal and peaceful times, in a survival situation caused by economic collapse or natural disaster, childbirth will have to be dealt in possibly less than ideal conditions.  I believe that in such a situation, midwives will be an invaluable and precious asset.  In preparing your family for a TEOTWAWKI situation, you might consider making contacts with midwives in your area if you are expecting a child or plan to have some in the future. There is no substitute for experience and knowledge, so please consider the care of a midwife if you are pregnant. If your situation does not allow you to have a midwife, then here are some good suggestions to ease the process of labor and birth.

If you and your family have had children before, then you know something about the process and how things progress.  Still, having a baby at home can be intimidating when traveling is dangerous and help is miles away.  One thing to remember is that the mother knows her body and will, almost unconsciously, facilitate an easy entrance for the baby if she is left to herself.  Once labor has started, you should contact any help you planned on having, whether it is an ambulance or a midwife.  The best way to help Mom is to encourage her in her efforts and provide as much food and drink as she wants; labor is a very strenuous activity.  Help her to go to the bathroom often, as this will help relax her muscles and speeds the descent of the baby.  Childbirth can be painful, but the pain is most often caused by a poor position of the mother that forces the baby on the pelvis or against the spine.  A good overall position is standing up or squatting.    

Squatting opens the pelvic cavity 30% more than lying down.  If the mother is lying on her back, her body weight is compressing an artery in the back and preventing good blood flow to the baby; it is also a very uncomfortable position.  When the mother wishes to lie down, she may prefer laying on her side or sitting up part way.  A hands and knees position may also be preferable, especially when a baby is posterior (its back bone is against the mother’s spine). This position drops the baby off Mom’s spine and gives some relief.

We know that Mom can push this baby out, but what do Dad/ Sister/Friend do as the baby comes out?  You may want to gather some supplies for the birth.  This would include a bowl to catch the placenta, plenty of towels or other absorbent material to clean up blood and amniotic fluid, sterile scissors (boil for 10 min.), and towels for baby (warm in low oven, dryer, or over a wood stove).  As the newborn arrives, have Mom pant through her contractions to slow the descent of the baby and prevent tears in the perineum.  Supporting the head as it comes out will also minimize tears.  Also, the infant has been in the mother’s belly for approximately 40 weeks, floating in warm, cozy liquid.  Unless careful consideration is taken to keep the temperature slightly warmer than body temperature, the baby arrives into a colder environment.  You might think that the baby should immediately be wrapped in a towel, but the best place for a newborn is on the mother’s bare chest with a blanket on top.  God designed the mother to be able to adjust her body temperature to warm or cool the baby.  Fathers are also able to warm up a baby. Placing the infant on Mom’s chest also allows it to smell her and the nipple area so the baby will be calm and ready to nurse.

As the baby comes out, careful checking of the umbilical cord should assure the birth partner that it is not wrapped around the infant’s neck and cutting off blood flow.  If it is wrapped around the neck, it can usually be slipped off easily.  In the instance where it is too tight to free the neck, tie two strings or shoelaces to the cord and cut between them, otherwise the baby could lose a lot of blood.  In a preferable situation, the cord is left intact and is only cut after it has stopped pulsing.  This allows a maximum amount of blood and nutrients to flow into the baby that will help the baby prepare for life outside the womb.  Before cutting the cord, be sure to sterilize your string and scissors in boiling water.

As well as checking the cord, the father/birth partner should check the baby for breathing and responsiveness.  Obviously, if it is crying, there’s no worry.  But sometimes fluid or meconium (baby’s first bowel movement) can get into the nasal and mouth area and possibly aspirate into the lungs, causing breathing problems.  This is usually not a serious problem, as the baby’s crying and coughing will bring it out; suctioning the mouth and nose with a bulb syringe will help.  If the baby is unresponsive, place on Mom’s chest and rub vigorously with a towel and this will usually trigger a response. If the baby is still not coming around, try giving it oxygen through a face mask, otherwise start CPR immediately.  As part of preparedness, CPR training would be good knowledge to have.

When the baby is born, everyone is absorbed with the infant and the extraordinary event that just took place.  However, there is still a placenta that has been providing nutrients and blood flow to the baby.  At no time should the umbilical cord be tugged on to facilitate its release from the uterine wall, which will cause hemorrhaging.  During the birth process, hormones and chemicals are telling the body what to do and when.  If the baby is born naturally with no drug inhibition (always the situation in home birth), the body will usually tell the placenta to detach. The mother may or may not feel some more contractions and the placenta will be pushed out; standing will help this process.  Remember that the best place for the newborn was the mother’s chest.  When a baby starts to nurse, it causes oxytocin in the mother which produces contractions and helps to release the placenta from the womb.  If the baby will not suck, manual stimulation of the nipple will suffice.  Be sure to watch for excess bleeding, in which case, more stimulation of the nipple is needed and/or vigorous massage of the abdominal area to cause the uterus to shrink up and stop the bleeding.

Another situation that may be cause for concern is if the baby becomes stuck in the pelvis.  The pelvis is shaped somewhat like an oval with the narrow portion extending from side to side of the woman.  As the baby is being born it rotates slightly to pass this narrow part so the shoulders can come out.  Sometimes this does not happen; maybe the baby is very large, its arm has come out with the head, or some other similar situation. Whatever the cause, its shoulders cannot get past the narrow part.  If the mother is lying down or only slightly sitting up, help her get on her hands and knees to help open the pelvic cavity.  This may drop the baby down and back in slightly and get it in a better position to come out.  In a very difficult situation, the dad may have to reach a couple fingers in alongside the baby’s head to the shoulders and try to pull one shoulder past the ischial spines (the narrow part of pelvis).  The important thing to remember if a baby gets stuck is that the umbilical cord may be getting pinched as the infant comes out.  If the baby’s head is out, it may start to breath on its own, but acting quickly is very important.  Encourage the mother to help pull her baby out, move, and swing her hips to get the baby to move down. This will solve most problems instantly.

Again, knowledge is power and researching the means and/or possibility of a home birth will give both parents some ease about the process and confidence in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

A few recommended books to have on hand would be:
• “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina May Gaskin (wonderful collection of home birth stories, very focused on spiritual and emotional care of woman, as well as info regarding medical care of labor and birth),
• “The Birth Partner” by Penny Simkin (more for father/birth partner, gives info on best birthing positions, encouraging mother, hospital practices, items to have on hand for birth, stages of labor),
• and “Heart and Hands” by Elizabeth Davis (midwifery-oriented, lots of info for midwife on care for pregnancy and birth).
These books offer a wonderful collection of knowledge for both mother and father and would be invaluable for the birth at home.

About The Author: "No Place Like Home" is the pen name of a doula who is pursuing DONA-certification. She is an advocate for home birth and believes that women are strong enough to birth on their own and should be given that opportunity.

The last posted letter correctly pointed out that Japanese Knotweed can be very invasive, although as a local farmer showed me, regular lawn mowing from the beginning of the season will keep it corralled within its allotted plot.

It's too invasive to just plant as a miscellaneous vegetable; its real value lies in a post-TEOTWAWKI world where powerful mediations are hard to come by.  Knotweed is the actual source of reversatrol, the natural phenol in red wine that adds years to your life despite lousy eating habits, keeps brain function sharp, and prevents all the nasty, chronic degenerative diseases of old age that we can no longer expect to have treatment for.  Pick up a bottle of reversatrol at the health food store and look at the main ingredient:  its  Knotweed.

This stuff really works.  There was a strain of skinny, healthy brown mice, who had plump blonde siblings separated by only a single different gene.  The plump blondes died young of degenerative diseases similar to those of elderly humans: cancer, stroke, etc.  Scientists then give both groups reversatrol, added to their mouse chow.

The fat, unhealthy blonde mice stayed as plump as ever, but now lived just as long and healthy lives as their skinny siblings.

Frenchmen from the Bordeaux region of France, famous for its black-red wines have the highest percentage of 100 year olds in Europe.  They drink reversatrol every day.

So yes, planting Japanese knotweed is vital for long term survival in a grid-down situation.  However, as others have aptly said, THINK FIRST!  I'm planting mine near a water drainage swale along a driveway.  They have their beloved sun and water, but have no place to go from there.  The driveway blocks two sides, the forest blocks a third (too dark, they need at least partial sun), and a granite cliff blocks off the fourth side. 

The medicinal part is in the roots, which are dug up and dried in the spring and the fall.  The dose is one ounce of pulverized dried root boiled into a tea.

So make sure you grow them in an area you can access.  I've got another perfect spot:  a sunny, well watered pocket surrounded by deep forest and a road.  But it's too steep, and grubbing out roots on a steep hillside is my idea of how to get hurt.  Roadsides with forest behind are the best, since they have nowhere to spread.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation, you don't have to worry much about car pollutants. 

I believe that God allowed Japanese knotweed to spread all over the world as quickly as it has against the day our government medical systems fail us, to give us the medical care we need.  Some herbs are taken to cure disease, others are to prevent disease and give you a long, healthy life. 

To explore this yourself, read up on reversatrol.

May God lead each of you to those people and things He knows you and your family will need. - Johan D.

JWR Replies: Because Japanese Knotweed roots are so invasive, I would only feel safe growing the plant in a stout planting container such as a concrete or steel stock tank.

I too am a 25 year IT veteran with the last 14 years specializing in information security.  I am currently in process of completing a PhD in the field.  There is nothing that currently exists that can save us from the coming cyber attack that will devastate our infrastructure.  The security vulnerabilities are legion.  Our only hope is the Lord and using the good minds He gave us to become self-sufficient.  The vain attempts of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency has only resulted in a loss of our personal freedom and privacy.  The more I learn, the more I know how vulnerable we are.  I spent a couple of years being extremely depressed about our inability to protect ourselves from a technological perspective, now I’m all about action and it has nothing to do with technology.  It has to do with striving for total independence – off the grid living – and zero trust in the established government for protection.  There is no such thing as security.  There is no such thing as privacy.  There is only God.  Maranatha – Lord come quickly.  - C.J.

The GSA is auctioning an offshore oil drilling platform that was later used for a lighthouse, on May 24th: Diamond Shoals Platform. 13 Miles offshore of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The opening bid is just $1. Here is a PDF with some details. (Thanks to John G. for the link.)

   o o o

Alaska man plans year on uninhabited island. (Thanks to J. McC. for the link.)

   o o o

I heard that CampingSurvival (one of our loyal advertisers) just received big shipments of both Mountain House foods in retort pouches and Heater Meals.

   o o o

Reader Robert B. Found a YouYube channel covering edible wild plants: Eat The Weeds. It is of excellent quality, with more than 130 episodes.

"Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter." - Ecclesiastes 10:20 (KJV)

Friday, May 18, 2012

One last reminder that a Self Reliance Expo will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 18th and 19th. There will be several SurvivalBlog advertisers there, including:

  • Backwoods Home Magazine
  • Pantry Paratus (they are offering a free gift for any readers of SurvivalBlog)
  • Project Appleseed
  • Shelf Reliance
  • LPC Survival

Please let them know where you've seen their ads.


Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 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.

Computers are the exposed backbone of America’s infrastructure. They are new technology with big holes that is under attack from very skilled and motivated people who mean our country harm.  Yet, we trust them to provide almost every service our modern life requires.

I’ve spent the last 13 years as a computer security expert for a large telecom, and I would like to convince you that today your family's ability to survive is dependent on fragile and over-trusted systems.
Preppers have historically had distrust for computing technology. Y2K was a real risk, but since it seemed to be overblown, a catastrophic computer-centric risk has fallen off the radar of many.  A cyber attack should rank up there with many other potential Black Swan risks (solar flares, economic collapse, etc).

Today, most everything the average American depends on to sustain life is run by some computer or another.  Some examples:
• Wal-mart or your local grocery store cannot provide just-in-time food delivery to it's stores without complex computerized logistics systems.
• Your municipality cannot pipe water to your house or sewage from your house without computer-controlled pumps.
• Your bank cannot issue you paper money or process credit card transactions without computerized accounting systems.
• Your electrical and gas provider cannot provide power or heat to your house without computer controlled generation and distribution systems.

It's important to know that there are no manual backups to these systems.  In a race for efficiency, businesses have gotten rid of any real redundancy to the automation offered by computers.  85% of "critical infrastructure" is privately managed by businesses that have no economic incentive for manual backups to these automated functions.  Simply put, if they massively fail, society massively fails.
Today, these important computer systems are under attack.  I'd like to let you know what the view is from my front row seat. First, let's start with a brief history of cyber risks in three short acts:
1. Cyber Fun: All early attacks on computing systems seemed to start with some one saying, “Gee, I wonder if I can do that?”  Curiosity drove early floppy-net based viruses, internet-based malware like the Morris Worm, and even famous early hackers like Kevin Mitnick or Steve Wozniak. That's not to say these hackers were right or these viruses the didn't cause harm.  The Blaster virus may have knocked out the power grid in 2003, and the I Love You virus may have caused $5 Billion in global economic damage.   That harm seemed to be accidental, though, not motivated by profit or malice.
2. Cyber Crime: Somewhere around 2000, we started to see wide-spread malicious software written for profit.  It might be spyware that causes pop-ups, trojans that hijack your computer to send spam, or it could be more serious.  They organize these hijacked computers into massive groups called botnets that they can remote control to steal identities and empty bank accounts.    There are serious criminals and organized gangs stealing billions every year this way. This is scary stuff, no doubt.  However, you need to remember two things about attacks for profit: 1) The losses are generally covered by your bank or credit card company, and 2) hackers motivated by profit have every incentive for everything to stay up: if they crash your computer, your bank or the whole internet, they can't make any money.
3. Cyber Attacks: Not to say that stealing is not malicious, but the for-profit hacker probably has nothing against you or your country personally.   There is an emerging type of attack in the computer security world that is much more scary.  Some call it cyber-warfare or cyber-terrorism, but I find those terms muddy the issue more than clarify.  Let's just say they want to do bad things solely for the purpose of hurting you or hurt your country.  

We have clearly moved into a era where there is an increasing likelihood that this is a serious threat to our county's security and your personal welfare.
We are now in the age of Cyber Attacks.  Recently, we saw the Chinese breach RSA, then leverage what the grained to break into Lockheed Martin, L-3 Communications, and Northrop Grumman.  These attackers used a  personally targeted attack called an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT).  Instead of casting a wide net to get as many computers as possible, they will write an attack to go after a select set of people an a certain company.
An APT is very hard defend against because it can be malicious software no one has ever seen before, making Anti-Virus software largely useless.   Today, most companies are largely powerless to stop an APT without radically changing how they do business.

Most of these attacks are not trying to take out infrastructure... yet.  However, the massive botnets of computers that have been built for profit could easily be used for more malicious purposes, or an APT is obvious vector of attack to critical infrastructure. It get it's worse though. In the same race for efficiency that got rid of manual backups, companies have gotten rid of separate networks that keep critical infrastructure separate from the average employee checking his email.  This puts the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and other systems systems built decades ago and never patched on the same network as machines connected directly to the internet.  Even worse, this researchers found 10,000 PLCs directly reachable from the Internet.

Stuxnet was the shot over the bow and a wake-up call for to expect from this new era of attacks.  There has been much reported about it (including here and on 60 minutes), but here's the important details about Stuxnet:
1. It was light years more complex than malicious software we've ever seen before.  It's now "in the wild" for others reverse engineer.
2. It was written by a nation-state targeting another nation-state.  It was probably written by US or Israeli intelligence, and was definitely meant to (and probably did) cause substantial harm to the Iranian nuclear program.
3. It's purpose was to destroy things in the physical world.  It targeted PLCs, which control everything from power plants to pipelines to dams.
From my experience and what experts are saying, we are utterly unprepared for something like this to attack America.  If something like Stuxnet was targeted against the right systems in our country, the outcome could be catastrophic.
Some people are demonstrating what can be done: one security researcher was able to unlock prison doors remotely, another with no experience with PLCs was able to cause explosions after accessing one. There is good evidence to suggest the US critical infrastructure is already being targeted.   Targeted attacks against utility providers are on the rise, with at least some "nation-state actors that have unlimited funding available and conduct espionage as they establish a covert presence on a sensitive network."

Let me be utterly clear about one thing: the reason that America's critical infrastructure has not been knocked out is not because it is well protected, it's because the proper mix of motivations and capabilities has not been realized yet.  Similarly, in 1939, the reason French had not been overrun by the Germans was not the Maginot Line, it was because the German Army wasn't quite ready to do it.
The capabilities to mount a cyber attack are spreading exponentially.  Many counties of the world are turning out very capable and very underpaid computer scientists. Motivations to hurt America don't seem to be on the decline.

All of this leads me to agree with Brian Snow, Former NSA Technical Director, when he says he believes we are in a "Trust Bubble" (6:03 in the video) much like the Credit Derivative Bubble that recently burst in the financial markets.  This requires a little explanation.  For example, let's think about the people and systems you trust every time you buy a book on Amazon:
• The company that designed and manufactured the parts of your computer and any computer with which you are communicating.
• The army of programmers that wrote the operating system and applications you use.
• The companies that manage the networks that all your communications traverses.
• The companies that issue certificates to encrypt your data and "sign" applications to be safe.

The problem is there is an amazing lack of analysis on the actual trustworthiness of any of these things.   Just like we trusted Wall Street with to understand the risks of CDO Swaps, we today trust computers we don't understand designed and run by people we know nothing about to run our whole society.  This blind trust is what Director Snow calls the Trust Bubble.   He expects this bubble could burst in the next 18 months to 5 years.
Now, I don't take a Skynet-like approach to this.  The computers aren't going to take over.  I fear people evil people will use computing technology to hurt other people on a mass scale.
So what do we do? While there are some good things you can do to protect your personal computers and privacy, there is nothing you personally do to protect the systems that provide you phone service, generate your electricity, or deliver your water or sewer services.

Should a properly motivated and skilled attacker decide to take those out, I assure you that your bank or utility provider is not prepared to stop them, or perhaps more chillingly, recover from the attack.  How many spare generators do you imagine your power utility has on hand?  How long would it take to repair an exploded gasoline refinery?
Here's a few things the answer is not:
• Filter everything on the internet in the name of national security.  Iran did that.  It is guaranteed not to work, and guaranteed to reduce our personal liberty.
• Patch the holes.  Patching is good, but no where near enough.  It's is always reactive to known holes and too slow (Microsoft recently patched a 17 year old vulnerability), and many of the PLCs weren't even built to be patchable.
• Put up more separations. Firewalls quickly turn leaky and even separating (air gapping) their computers from the Internet didn't help the Iranians.
• Trust a government program to fix it.  Regardless of your political views, even the government agrees they are bad at this. Do you really want the TSA of Computer Security?
The only answer I know is personal resiliency.  Resiliency for your family that shouldn't have to be reliant poorly managed computers running poorly written software to drink clean water, flush a toilet, buy something, or stay warm.   Don't rely on your bank, utilities or government for your families survival.

What if you spent the next $20 or $200 or $2,000 you would normally spend on technology (computer, phone, car, power tool, etc) and instead invested it in things that can't be taken away from you by a skilled hacker?
• Stored food
• The ability to heat your home while the grid is down
• Stored water and the ability to filter dirty water
• Guns and other tools to protect your family
• First Aid supplies

I'd like to close with a few words of spiritual reflection for my Christian bothers and sisters: I like technology.  I'm a geek who believes all technology from the cotton gin, to cars, to iPhones to be a gift from God.  However, I've learned a truth about God's gifts, including technology:  the better a gift from God is the easier it is for it to become something we trust in more than God. I am reminded of the Psalmist when he talked about that great technology of his time, the chariot:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7 ESV)
There is no technology that will save us -- not a chariot or a computer.  Our hope is Jesus and following His wisdom and plan for us.

Introductory Note: I am not an employee of RWVA, Appleseed Project or any company I might mention in this article. I am however a volunteer Instructor in Training for Appleseed. I receive no remuneration for my service.

My introduction to the Appleseed Project was different, than for most SurvivalBlog .com readers.

I have had an avid interest in firearms from the time my uncle came to live with us during my high school years. Uncle Dick had several rifles, shotguns and pistols (of which I have since inherited). My first after school job was at a hardware store that just happened to have the largest gun display in our little town of 20,000.
I spent as much of my paycheck on firearms and ammunition as my parents would allow, while still saving for college and paying for my own personal expenses.
Early in 2010 I was thinking of how I could take a Ruger .22 rimfire Model 10/22 and make it look like an M1 Carbine. And so I did a web search on the phrase  “Ruger 10/22 M1 Carbine”.  I was surprised to see something pop up. It was E.A. Brown’s web site. They had a stock, sling and sights that would allow me to do exactly what I wanted to do.
But they also had in the description, a reference to the term “Liberty Training Rifle”. I had never heard of this. What could it mean?
Back to Google, which then directed me to Appleseed Project, child of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association (RWVA).

I was intrigued with what I read:

Marksmanship and Heritage.
Shooting skills and Patriotism.
Tales of the Revolution.

It seemed too good to be true.
As I read more I wanted to learn more. For you see, I too believed that our country was on the edge of an abyss. Our ship was floundering about to sink. But how could marksmanship help? I mean without using it to force our government to come to their senses?

And as much as I disliked the actions of those in Washington D.C. and our state capitols, I didn’t think that armed revolt was the answer.
But wait, Appleseed did not suggest such. As I dug deeper into whatever I could extract from the internet, I never found such reference.
I decided it was time to find out for myself what Appleseed was all about.

The nearest event to me would be in a couple of weeks at a club range about 40 minutes away, close in Southern Ohio standards.
I decided to not pre-register but to take my chances that they weren’t sold out. On that Saturday morning I registered with cash and only part of my name. You see, I figured I was already on enough “lists” without adding myself to another…NRA, CCW, BSA, etc. If this was a militant or subversive group, I didn’t particularly want them to have my personal information.

I also made a mistake that day, one that I repeated 60 days later.  I only enrolled for Saturday. You see, I was of above average intelligence, and had been shooting for over 40 years, a better than average shot, with a lot of knowledge about guns and targets. I had volunteered at the Rifle Range at the nearby Boy Scout summer camp for over 20 years. I had NRA Expert status in small-bore. What could they really teach me? So I concluded that I would only need one day.

I sat down and waited for it to start. Several of the “Orange Hats” (more about this later) tried to make me feel welcome. Coffee and doughnuts inside…help yourself. Where are you from? How did you hear about Appleseed? We’ll get started in a few minutes, have a seat.

I sat down at a picnic table away from everyone else…don’t want anyone to really get to know me or who I am. I can leave anytime…its only $40 (one day). I looked around at the flags hanging around the shelter…Gadsden, Liberty, all of the flags of the American Revolution.

Soon we started. Introductions, range rules, first aid and emergency information…then an invocation and Pledge of Allegiance….okay…so far so good.
Next came some basic safety rules and how to make your rifle safe. Rifle, not weapon. That didn’t sound very military to me. Also we went over range commands.
Okay everyone to the parking lot. Bring your gear to the equipment line. Next carry your cased rifle to the firing line. With the muzzle (the bangy end) downrange, take the rifle out and place it on your mat. Make sure it is safe. Remove the case and everything else (including magazines) from the line.
We are handed  targets with five different sizes of shapes in red. They are called “RedCoats”.
Prepare as many magazines as you need to have 13 shots.
We shoot our first target of the day and keep it for future reference.
I won’t go into the instruction that we received that day…I couldn’t do it justice. Let me just say that it was great. The volunteer staff was wonderful. And surprise… much of the staff were women and teenagers. And they knew what they were about!
The end of the day brought a second RedCoat target. This was a way to compare and check improvement. (My second was about 30% better. 30% improvement in one day…WOW!)
Interspersed throughout the day were stories of our forebears, those brave men, women, and boys who gave all for us. And now for the closing… the Benediction…the challenge to take what we learned and do something with it.

I didn’t shoot Rifleman (210 or better out of 250 possible), though I was fairly close.  I couldn’t go back the next day…other commitments, but I knew I would go back and I would take those I loved back with me for the History, the Heritage, the instruction, and yes, for the fun.
And go back I did. I made Rifleman as did two of my sons. My youngest son and I “picked up the Orange Hat”, volunteered to become “Instructors in Training”.

Would I recommend you going to an Appleseed event? Oh Yeah! I do to most everyone I know. Men, women, and children who are old (mature) enough to listen and follow instruction. Maybe listening is the most important thing to do at an Appleseed.

At my second Appleseed I was talking to an Orange Hat. He lived about halfway between the range and where I live. We talked long after the event of many things. Soon we were talking of books that we enjoyed and books that affected our lives. He mentioned “Patriots”, by James Wesley, Rawles. Had I read it? No. You should. I did.
And so I found Over the last few months I have read much. You see, I have been a prepper most of my life. But reading “Patriots” and SurvivalBlog reawakened me towards being prepared much as Appleseed reawakened my concern for our country.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout movement, was once asked what Scouts should be prepared for. You see, the Boy Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”. Lord Baden-Powell said, “Just any old thing.”
Any old thing…read everything.  Be prepared…for life, for death, for travails, and for Appleseed.

And so I would like to take a few minutes to help you prepare for your first Appleseed. On the Appleseed web site you will find a list on “How to Prepare for an Event”. Let me repeat it here along with some footnotes and opinions.

How to Prepare for an Event

What to bring to an Appleseed Event
Not everything listed here is necessary. This list was compiled from the experience of those who have attended an Appleseed. It includes those things that did or would have made their experience more enjoyable. Remember that you need to bring whatever it takes to learn to shoot better.

There is also a short video on YouTube called Project Appleseed: What Should You Bring?

Personal items

  • A teachable attitude (most important thing) ** (I agree. Listen and learn. Ask questions and be willing to humble yourself to become a better person. It is all about improvement)
  • Ear protection Muffs and plugs ** (You don’t want tinnitus, trust me)
  • Eye protection ** (Don’t be stupid. Mandatory for minors)
  • Elbow pads or shooting Jacket (By the end of the weekend you will wish you had something on your elbows. Soft elbow pads like for skateboarders work well. Avoid the curved hard plastic kind; they let your elbow roll. You can even cut the toe out of a pair of thick socks and put them on your arms.)
  • Ground cover (Rug remnant will work) (Again some padding between you and the ground. Note, don’t make it too thick or soft – you want firmness to get a steady sight picture.)
  • A hat (To keep the glare out of your eyes or the sun off your neck)
  • Little notebook (those little 2.5 X 3.5 work well) (please take notes or write down questions. Also very important when recording corrections to sights.)
  • Pen (Or Sharpie)
  • Sun Screen (I forgot once…but never again!)
  • Lots of water (Must stay hydrated) (Eyesight and steadiness are some of the first things to go when you dehydrate.)
  • Light Lunch (Sometimes provided for nominal charge...check flyer)
  • Snacks (You need to keep your energy level up)
  • Folding Chair (not necessary but nice)(Its nice to sit for a minute while you prep your magazines)
  • Wet wipes (A quick way to refresh yourself, and to clean your hands before that snack)
  • Bug spray
  • Aspirin or Ibuprofen (especially at the end of the 1st day and beginning of the second day. You will be sore in places you have never been sore before)
  • Necessary clothing for any kind of weather (Be prepared. Expect the worst.)

** Very important things

Rifle specific preparations (Appleseed is a long distance rifle marksmanship course. When there is a known distance range, 100 or more yards, we prefer to use it.  However, due to cost of ammunition and rarity of distance ranges, most Appleseed events are shot at 25 meters. Everything you learn at 25 meters will apply at any distance. Even with the distance ranges most shoot at 25 meters on day one and Known Distance (KD) on day 2.)

  • See the Appleseed Liberty Training Rifle document: Word Doc or PDF
  • Rifle preferably zeroed for 25 meters (Any sights )
  • 400+ rounds of the same type and brand of ammo (Its best to use same brand, type and LOT of ammo. Lessen the variables.)
  • Sight adjustment tools (Depending on your sights, this could be a screwdriver, a drift punch and mallet, or a sight adjustment tool.)
  • GI style web Sling (as seen here at the The Appleseed Store) (Bring what you have, but if you need to purchase a sling please get an USGI web sling. You will never regret it.)
  • Two magazines, 10 rounds each. Bring extra mags. If you have them. 20 round magazines work well if State law allows
  • Gun cleaning supplies and lube (You will need to do some maintenance cleaning)
  • Instructions for your rifle (if you have them) (At least be familiar with the rifle you bring. Know how to tear it down, clean it and put it back together.)
  • Know your rifle (See above)
  • Something to cover your rifle to keep blowing sand or rain off it. (This can be a rug, a plastic trash bag, or if your mat/carpet remnant is long enough, you can just fold it up and over.)
  • Staple gun (Make sure it works. Need one for every 2 people in your group)
  • Staples (I recommend that you use at least ½ inch staples. You want them to go through the cardboard backer and not have the wind blow the target off in the middle of an AQT.)
  • Know the laws of the State you are going to and only bring that which is within the law (This is really important if you are traveling across a state line for your Appleseed. Don’t become a victim of ignorance.)
  • Back-up rifle, if you have one. ("Two is one and one is none.")

Ready Your Equipment


Be prepared for blowing sand and dust, rain, mud — all those weather conditions a rifleman would have to generally put up with. (I might add snow, ice, cold, heat, sun, insects…)


In event of blowing sand and dust, you'll need to totally degrease your rifle. Any lube should be a dry lube, like graphite. Be ready to protect your rifle with a plastic rifle bag or a simple waterproof wrap for the action.


Be ready to protect ammo and mags from the same weather. Ziploc bags are great for this.


Again, be prepared. You should function-test your rifle and, if possible, have it zeroed for 25 meters or 200 yards. You can also adjust your sights so your group prints 3" above point of aim at 100 yards, and mark your sights with paint, magic marker, or fingernail polish. Doing so will leave you properly sighted for the 25 meter AQT.


It's a good idea to get down into the prone position and dry-fire ten shots "by the numbers" (click here to print out the steps from Fred's Web site). If you will do this three times a week, you'll be way ahead of everyone else. Hey, while you're at it, put a GI web sling on your rifle, and get it adjusted so it supports the rifle in prone, too.


Practice at home is a great way to prep for arriving at the range. By doing so your range time will be far more productive.

Whenever  a family member or friend decides to attend an Appleseed I will give them some advice. I recommend that they practice the prone and sitting positions. You will find that if you stretch your body into these two positions several times a day, increasing the length of time each day until you can stay in it for 10 minutes or so, that you will not be as likely to need the Ibuprofen. I practice my positions during my television time. I get on the floor in the prone or sitting position and watch television. (I don’t hold a rifle, just in the position to stretch my back, legs and arms.

Note: Even if because of physical limitations you can’t get in a particular shooting position, please go ahead and attend an Appleseed. This is not a competition. We have adaptive Appleseeds all the time. Do what you can. Appleseed is ALL about improving.

It really helps to know your rifle before you show up at an Appleseed. Know the controls – safety, magazine release, how to clear a malfunction, etc. But it’s alright if you are borrowing a rifle and have never seen it until that day.

There is no official Appleseed Rifle. We will see almost anything on the firing line. Bring what you have and normally shoot.
That said, I’d like to offer my opinion on a reliable, safe rifle. The Ruger 10/22 is very dependable and accurate. I have owned (and still own) several over the years.

To get the most out of the gun there are a few accessories that I would recommend to have my Ideal Liberty Training Rifle. Please note that any changes may void your rifle’s warranty.
The first would be a set of 1-¼ inch quick detachable sling swivels (such as Uncle Mike's) and a USGI sling.

Secondly, I would replace the stock sights with sights from TechSights or a decent telescopic sight. The stock sights are difficult to adjust.

Lastly, if you are proficient at all in the anatomy of the 10/22, there are a few internal changes to make it better (IMHO):

  • Replace the stock hammer with any of a number of target style hammers (roughly $35). This will lower your trigger pull from 6-7 pounds to about 2.5-3.5 pounds.
  • Replace the bolt release with an automatic bolt release. This allows you to close the bolt with one hand instead of two. It is also possible to drill out the larger hole yourself. There are YouTube videos on how this is done.
  • If you have an older Ruger 10/22 you may have the short magazine release. This can be replaced with one that is longer. This allows you to change magazines in a timelier manner. There are many available from $5 -30, depending on manufacturer and material.
  • I prefer to replace the stock bolt buffer with one made of polymer. This quiets your rifle and relieves some of the stress on the bolt.

The 10/22 comes with one 10-shot magazine. You will need at least one more. I try to bring 4-5 magazines. That way I have a spare if one fails or someone needs to borrow one, and so I can prep my magazines when I have time and not be rushed. I do not like using the extended magazines for Appleseed. When you are wearing a sling the magazine can get in the way of your arm, preventing you from obtaining a proper position. At Appleseed you never need more than ten shots at a time anyway. Make sure that all screws are tight, maybe even using green Loc-tite. My shooting at my second Appleseed suffered greatly due to a loosened takedown bolt. I repeat, make sure screws are tight.

A second rifle can be a lifesaver if something happens to rifle number one. However, loaner rifles are sometimes available.

It would be advisable to know what brand of ammunition your rifle likes, and to have it sighted in, preferably at 25 meters (27 yards).  Then make sure you have 400-500 rounds of that brand ammo.

If you are fortunate enough to attend an Appleseed that is held at a range that has a Known Distance (KD) range, be sure to take your center fire rifle. I have seen people shoot the entire weekend with an AR or Garand, but that can be pretty expensive. Use your rimfire while learning some basics and then carry them over to your center fire and distance.
When you get to your Appleseed you will be advised to leave all firearms in your vehicle until told to retrieve them. This includes your carry gun. Please leave it in your vehicle while you are at Appleseed. This is for safety’s sake.  If, for example, you are in prone position with your pistol on your side, you would be sweeping everyone behind you, every time they walked by.

Appleseed is family friendly. Many of the students are women and children. Most of the staff at the first Appleseed I attended were teens and ladies.
The cost is very low – check the web site,  for the price in your area. (Some of the ranges charge a modest fee to use the range.)
Appleseed does not take the place of a combat type courses like those offered at Thunder Ranch, Front Sight, etc. It is basic riflemanship at a very fair price.
In closing, I would highly recommend attending an Appleseed regardless of what your level of expertise. You will never find better training, from such qualified instructors at such a fair price almost anywhere in the country.  Not one near you? Find a range and we’ll come to you!

I want to pass along a recommendation for field telephones. Coleman's Military Surplus is selling Swiss army surplus field telephones (made by Ericsson) for $19.95 plus shipping. I have purchased some of these and have good luck with them.

They use a crank for ringing the bells and "D" cell batteries for voice transmission. They can also be hooked up in a common battery / switchboard set up if a person is lucky enough to have one. - Matthew in Kansas City, Missouri

No one should ever plant Japanese Knotweed, even for survival purposes.  The stuff is so aggressive that it can tear a house off its foundation in a matter of months.  I've read of at least one case in England that required the top ten feet of soil be dug out and hauled away to keep it from sprouting again.  If your readers find this invader someplace and can eat it, wonderful.  But  I pray they don't make the mistake of thinking this would be a great addition to their survival garden. - Kathryn D.

SurvivalBlog reader D. in Colorado has kindly reformatted Dr. Koelker's OTC medication information to fit on three cards. Have this PDF printed double-sided on card stock and laminated, then cut them out and put in your medications bag or kit.

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David S. sent this useful map of U.S. military installations. JWR Notes: There are only a few military targets in the American Redoubt. But note that the star designating the location Malmstrom, Air Force Base (AFB) in Montana doesn't tell the whole story. They actually have missile silos scattered through nine counties in central Montana. Ditto for the dispersion of Minot AFB, in North Dakota, and Warren AFB, which straddles the the state lines of Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. When looking for retreat properties, avoid any locale that is within 30 miles upwind or 250 miles downwind of the outer limits of active missile fields. (The missile fields in South Dakota and Missouri have both been deactivated and hence are no longer in the Russian target structure.)

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Here Comes the Sunstorm: Electric Grid Is Vulnerable to a Big Solar Blow; Officials Spar Over What to Do. (Thanks to Mark A. for the link.)

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Local police boost arsenals with free military weapons. (Thanks to Rick M. for the link.)

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Island DIY: Kauai residents don't wait for state to repair road

"When you have zero rates that go on indefinitely, you are inviting future problems." - Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig, warning that an extended period of ultra-low interest rates can trigger speculation, in a May, 2012 interview.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 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.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors survived for generations by gathering the food that nature provided. Some of those plants contain natural remedies to many common problems, and in fact are where many modern pharmaceuticals come from. 

In this article we will be discussing various edible plants mostly found in the north east United States, as well as a few others.

Provisos: Before getting started you should be warned that some plants can be highly toxic. We will cover some common look-a-likes, but you should never eat a plant unless you are one hundred percent sure of what you’re eating. Wild poisonous plants often resemble non-poisonous varieties, and also often grow side by side. Some edible plants can have non-edible parts. It is up to you to make the right decisions when applying this information in the wilderness. With that in mind, once you can identify wild edibles accurately you will find that natures garden is full of delicious and healthy food, fresh and at your finger tips. Also, I’ve included a few definitions at the end of this article you may find helpful.

Common Dandelion

AKA: Lions Tooth, Priest Crown, Swine’s Snout
How To Spot It: One yellow flower on a hollow, hairless stem,or spherical cluster of white “parachute” seeds, no leaves other than basal leaves with large teeth pointing toward the base. There are no poisonous look-alikes, however other edible relative can look similar when young. 
Cautions: Dandelion root should be avoided for those with an irritable bowels or stomach.
Uses: Use young leaves or flower tops in salads. The taste can be slightly bitter, so use sparingly. Light cooking will increase the bitterness, however further cooking (about twenty minutes) will make the taste almost disappear, especially when combined with a sauce or spices.
Notes: Dandelion root contains a substance called inulin.  Inulin has very little impact on blood sugar levels, and—unlike fructose—is not insulemic and does not raise triglycerides making it increasingly popular among  diabetics and potentially helpful in managing blood sugar-related illnesses ; Dandelion has also been known to be especially beneficial for treating chronic hepatitis and gall stones.

Japanese Knotweed

AKA: Monkeyweed, Hancock’s Curse, Water Weeds, Elephant Ears, Donkey Rhubarb, Japanese Bamboo, Pea Shooters, Fleeceflower, American Bamboo
How To Spot It: Tall, bushy plant with a bamboo like sheathed stalk. Alternating triangular leaves, green and/or red-ish in color. Hundreds of tiny white flowers grow on long lacy spikes in the spring and summer. Mature plants can grow to be nine to twelve feet tall. It’s interconnected root system often creates a dense bamboo like thicket. There are no poisonous look-alikes, however it could be confused with Giant Knotweed, which is used the same way except it is much less common, or wild Asparagus or Rhubarb (a relative), which of course are also edible.
Cautions: Do not eat large quantities of Knotweed raw. It contains substantially more oxalic acid than cooked Knotweed which could potentially cause problems in a survival situation. Smaller portions, however, are fine.
Uses: Collect the young shoots, discard the leaves, discard the rinds of older shoots and chop or slice the stalks.Has a nice sour flavor. Use in fruit dishes or pies just as you would Rhubarb. Also excellent addition to soups, stews, jams, or applesauce.
Notes: The large hollow stalks contain some fresh drinking water. To collect it chop the plant at the base the hold it upside down. Take a stick and poke through the inner wall of the joint, opening the ‘chambers’ one at a time, then simply pour the water into your mouth. ;  Larger quantities can act as a laxative, breaking down fats and stimulating digestion, which of course, could possibly be fatal in a survival situation. ; Extracts of this plant are currently being tested to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, dely the onset of Alzheimer’s or slow its progression, and to help treat or lower the risk of certain types of cancers.

Poor Man’s Pepper

AKA: Virginia Pepperweed, Peppergrass
How To Spot It: The small spicy annual grows six inches to three feet tall, beginning with a ‘basal rosette’ in early spring. The narrow stalked basal leaves grow two to five inches long and soon the lobes become deep, sharp teeth that usually point toward the leaf tips. A long, wiry, branching flower stalk grows from the plants center mid-spring to fall with similar, but smaller, lance shaped toothed leaves tapering toward the base. From spring to fall the plant is covered in tiny, white four petaled flowers at the tips. In summer and fall the flowers are replaced with flat, circular seed pods, slightly notched at the tip, and containing many yellow-brown seeds. There in no no colored sap when you break open the stem, and the plant has a short, white taproot. There are no poisonous look-alikes, however it could be confused with other edible species.
Cautions: It should not be given to very young children, or others that may be sensitive to spicy foods.
Uses: The leaves, seeds, pods, flowers, tender part of the top of the stem, and taproot are all edible raw or cooked, and make excellent addition to salads, stews, soups, ground as a seasoning for meats, etc. The flavor can be compared to horseradish or wasabe. They tend to lose a little of the kick when cooked. 
Notes: The Poor Man’s Pepper is actually not a pepper at all, rather a member of the mustard family. ; The leaves contain notable levels of vitamin c, calcium, iron, and potassium. ; A ‘tea’ made from the leaves has been used historically for diabetes, to expel intentional worms, as a diuretic, and to ease arthritis. The seed pods have been used to treat coughs and colds, to help break up and expel fluid built up in the chest.

Field Garlic


AKA:  Wild Onion, Meadow Leek, Onion Grass, Wild Garlic
How To Spot It: Long, unbranched, hollow, rounded basal leaves six inches to two feet tall, with a strong onion /garlic smell, growing from an onion like bulb. In late spring consisting of stalkless, green or red-ish bulblets grow on top of a single long leafless stem, one to three feet tall. Each bulb has a curved side and a straight side, project a tiny green shoot upward, and lilac colored, six petaled flowers bloom from them. Later the bulb falls to the ground as the plant dies and turn into new plants next year.
Cautions: Field Garlic should not be confused with the highly toxic plant ‘Star of Bethlehem’, which also has a long linear leaf resembling various wild onions, except it has no odor, a white stripe running down the length of each leaf, and the six-tepaled white flowers don’t resemble that of any other edible plant.
Uses: Collect the leaves in early spring or fall, when the young plants are most tender. Consume them raw or cooked just as you would chives or scallions. The underground bulbs are more onion tasting in seasons with cold weather, and more garlic-like in seasons with warmer weather. Use them accordingly raw or cooked. The Young bulbs growing from the plants have an almost spicy taste and should be used when still young, before the skin toughens.
Notes: Field Garlic is a blood purifier, diuretic, and expectorant. Raw bulbs can help to lower blood pressure. It is also used to prevent worms in children and animals.



AKA: Tiger Daylily, Orange daylily, Ditch Daylily
How To Spot It: This perennial produces large, showy flower yellow-orange in color above a basal rosette of long, sword shaped leaves. Six to fifteen short stemmed, upward facing,  funnel shaped flowers stem from a slender, unbranched , smooth stem, three to four feet tall. During flowering, buds grow on the same branch as the flowers, which wither and die the same day they bloom. Other species while still edible, are not as tasty.
Cautions: This is not to be confused with Daffodil or Iris, which are both toxic to humans. By identifying the plant by its flowers, you can avoid confusion, as Daffodils and Iris look nothing like the orange Daylily.
Uses: The flowers and buds are a good source of beta caratine, vitamin c, and iron. Cook the larger, unopened flower pods in recipes that call for green beans, as the flavor is similar. They cook in about fifteen minutes. Be sure not to eat the green base of the flower, as the taste is rather unpleasant. Flowers and the pods can also be batter dipped and deep fried for a delicious side dish or snack.
Notes: The Daylily is an important herb in ancient Chinese medicine. An infusion is made from the flowers is used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as a sedative, to reduce fever, as a pain killer, and to ease childbirth. The rhizomes and tuber has shown antimicrobial and antiparasitic properties. Research is also being done one how to use the Daylily to treat cancer.

Common Mallow

AKA: Buttonweed, Cheeseplant, Dwarf Mallow, Roundleaf Mallow
How To Spot It: The plant, which arises from a long, slender taproot, can creep along the ground or grow upright. The crinkled, rounded to heart-shaped, toothed, slightly hairy basal leaves grow up to three inches across, with five to seven shallow lobes. The leaf stalks can grow up to seven inches long, and the leaf is notched where it connects to the stalk. Flowers are white to pale-pink with five petals, have a bushy column of many stamens surrounding one pistil, and are under one inch across. Pink lines run through the petals, which are notched at the tip. At a quarter-inch across, the tiny, flattened, segmented fruits resemble a wheel of cheese. There are no poisonous look-alikes.
Cautions: Common Mallow could possibly be confused with various ivies if only ID’ed by the leaves, so be sure to look for the distinctive fruits and flowers.
Uses: A good source of vitamin c, iron, and calcium. The leaves, flowers, and fruits are good cooked for about 10 minutes as you would cook okra. The fruits are also excellent raw.
Notes: Tea made by boiling the root is said to be internally soothing. It has been used by natives to treat skin sores, stomach and dental ulcers, digestive irritations, as well as sore throats and coughs, Although thorough medical testing has yet to be done and results are not confirmed.

Garlic Mustard

AKA: Jack-by-the-hedge, Garlic Root, Hedge Garlic, Penny Hedge, Poor Man’s Mustard
How To Spot It: This common, highly invasive woodland biennial has a distinct garlic smell when crushed. The sprouts of new plants resemble alfalfa sprouts, each with a singular red-ish stalk about two inches tall, and a single strap shaped leaf about half an inch tall. The thin white taproot smells and tastes like horseradish. By mid-spring plants grow to be one to the and a half feet tall, slightly hairy, with more pointed, alternate, deeply veined triangular leaves. A flower bud resembling broccoli gives way to clusters of white four-petaled flowers. The flowers are replaced with long, green, four-parted seedpods curving upwards, about an inch long.
Cautions: Not to be confused with the Common Blue Violet or Henbit Deadnettle which can look similar when young, as always ID the plant through multiple means and be sure of what you are eating.
Uses: The leaves taste like garlic. Young leaves near the flowers are better tasting than the basal leaves, although both are pretty good. Cooking can add a bitter taste, some lightly sauté them for 5 minutes at most. The seeds have a wonderful spicy flavor and don t need cooked or crushed (cooking actually ruins the flavor, so ad them to your dish near the end). The root is used just like horseradish, and again, should only be cooked lightly if at all.
Notes: Crushed Garlic Mustard is a good topical treatment for bug bite, as well as bug repellent, and as a disinfectant. 

Shepard’s Purse

AKA: Mother’s Heart, Lady’s Purse, Pickpocket, Rattle Purse
How To Spot It: Shepard’s Purse begins with a basal rosette of stalked, lobed-to-deeply toothed, lance shaped leaves up to nine inches long, and broader towards the tip, coming from a slender white taproot. Unlike similar plants, the leaves point outward and the is no white sap when broken. In mid-spring long, wiry stalks branching from the base grow from eight inches to two feet tall. Smaller, alternate lance shaped leaves, sometimes with teeth, meet the stem with two small pointed lobes at their base. Tiny stalked flowers grow inside four oval sepals, with four white petals. The flowers eventually form long-stalked, flattened, heart or triangular shaped seedpods.
Cautions: Because of possible effects on the blood, this plant is not recommended for women who are nursing or pregnant.
Uses: Mid-spring the flowers, buds, and tops of the stems are all edible and similar in taste to broccoli. Leaves can be cooked ten to fifteen minutes and are great additions to salad soups and stews. It provides vitamins a,c,k,b1, b2, b3, choline, inositol, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. The also contain fumaric acid, which may help inhibit cancer.
Notes: There is little evidence of any beneficial medicinal use, however historically it has been used to ease childbirth, lower blood pressure, and as an astringent.

Lady’s Thumb

AKA: Persicaria, Redleg, Gambetta, Adam’s Plaster
How To Spot It: Growing with slender branching stems, it usually reaches a height of one to two feet tall and can create a dense brush.The pointed, lance shaped leaves grow from one to four inches long. A darkened triangular spot often appears toward the leaf’s center. Tiny white or pink flowers form in dense clusters about two inches long. This plant has both fibrous roots and a tap root. There are no poisonous look-alikes.
Cautions: Don’t confuse this with Smartweed, which can look similar and while non-toxic, has a horrible taste.
Uses: The leaves are the best parts, although the flowers and stems are also edible but can be unpleasant. They taste similar to lettuce, and can be used raw in salads and on sandwiches, as well as added to soups, casseroles, and stews.
Notes: This plant is rarely used in herbal medicine. 

Asiatic Dayflower

AKA: Yazhicao, Duckfoot Herb, Tsuyukusa, Dew Herb
How To Spot It: This hairless plant with distinct blue flowers grows from one to three feet tall. The simple, smooth edged leaves resemble grass grow three to five inches long. Their stalkless bases wrap around the stem to form a sheath. It has two upper blue petals, and a lower, smaller translucent-white petal. Two short sepals fuse to partially enclose two small yellow-green elongated seeds.
Cautions: It could possibly be confused with Virginia Dayflower which is also edible but larger, and grows more towards the south. Also similar is Spiderwort, which has three blue petals, not two, and is much larger. The leaves of Spiderwort are also edible.
Uses: Strip off the leaves, flowers, seeds, and tops of the stems. Add to salads or other vegetable dishes. The taste can be compared to string beans
Notes: It has been used in ancient China as an anti-inflammatory, and also to sooth a sore throat. It can also be used as a pigment or dye.


  • Basal Leaves - Leaves at the plant’s base
  • Basal Rosette - A circular arrangement of leaves, with all the leaves at the base of the plant, near the soil
  • Diuretic - A substance that increases the rate or urination
  • Expectorant - A substance that helps bring up mucus and other liquid from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea
  • Iris - The female fertilization organ of a flower
  • Rhizome - A horizontal stem, usually underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes, also called rootstock
  • Sepals - Modified leaves that lie under the more conspicuous petals of a flower
  • Stamen - The male fertilizing organ of a flower
  • Taproot - A straight tapering root growing downward and forming a base from which other roots spring

Have a good time in the wilderness and remember to always be safe!

As a professional project manager for a large international corporation, my position requires me to mitigate the risks of unknown variables that can alter the success of large and small projects. Donald Rumsfeld quote that ‘we don’t know what we don’t know” comes to mind. It is my job to insulate our company from cost overruns, time delays, or catastrophic project failure by identifying those variables and reducing their impact. These principles of project management applied to small personal events to those effecting us globally has led me to recognize some concerning trends in the preparedness community.

My observations have evolved as I have reached out or involved myself with various groups, whose vision and goals were to help other become aware of the fragile society and economy and how to prepare for it. I have discovered that the vast majority of people prepare themselves and their families, then stop at that point, thinking they have what they need to weather the storms of life. That discovery is what led me to move people beyond a personal stockpile of “stuff” and develop a Concentric Circle Preparedness Plan.

The goal behind this next step in preparing is to build a personal community, enhance your skills, resources and knowledge base and insulate you from the crisis with circles of defense. Concentric circles multiple your ability to survive. From small events, such as job loss, to major events, such as a global socio-economic collapse; adapting this along with a color code of awareness will help you identify what actions you should take and when.

Your Family Circle
This is your Primary Circle and where most people start and stop. They lay up food, water, medical supplies, fuel, shelter plans, guns, ammunition, maybe some cash and silver. They may develop some new skills such as sewing, canning, gardening, animal husbandry and acquire books as reference material. Yet they get to this point with a new level of confidence and assurance and falsely believe all is well or at least better. They may be prepared more than the masses but this is not the end of the journey. This initial circle is very important, because without it you become a refugee at the mercy of others or worse case FEMA.

Areas you should focus on are: Food, Water, Shelter, Fuel, Security, Medical needs, personal Hygiene, Currency/Barter skills, Gardening, Basic First Aid, etc. I would suggest finding a comprehensive list here on the List of Lists.

Extended Family Circle

This becomes your Secondary Circle and by its nature and mindset of awareness, an individual will naturally reach out to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and cousins, your extended family. All of us have done this at some point or another and have our message both accepted or we are given the look (you know the one I am speaking of).  Developing the second circle is important to acquire trustful partners in a time of crisis. Additionally, a family member may have a farm to act as a retreat or access to skills and talents you neither have the education nor training, such as mechanic, nursing, welding, etc. Your extended family circle gives you a multiplier effect to your resources, tools and supplies that you may not have or the ability to purchase. Since typically, (family dependant) the trust factor is high in extended families, the sharing of information becomes less of a factor than in the outside circles. This second circle along with your family circle becomes the basis for your primary community of support and security.

At this point the creation of additional circles becomes more difficult as the trust factor diminishes and OPSEC issues arise. The benefits are great but I would caution and use extreme discernment in reaching out to others without a thorough knowledge of others ideologies and personal beliefs.

The following Circles are interchangeable in their position. For instance,  your Church Circle may well be more important or relevant to your personal situation than a Neighborhood or Friend Circle.

Neighborhood and Friend Circle

This can be broken into two separate and distinct circles. As you move to develop this circle the selection process of people to include should be done with care. Again, if you know your neighbors you can pick out the individuals that would be hostile to any mention of preparedness or political differences that may jeopardize your inter-circles. I know in our neighborhood we are surrounded by “opposing” ideologies that would expect us to share what we stored. An Occupy movement for my storehouse would likely ensure if they knew of our preparedness mindset. Nice people under normal circumstance but potential threats should the crisis develop beyond the point of stretching regional resources. We do not mention our plans or thoughts on preparing to these individuals. Choosing friends and neighbors under extreme situations is left to your discretion. There are advantages, you may have certain friends or neighbors who can add to your skill and knowledge base or those that you know are all ready preparing and the subject matter would not be threatening to them. These individuals become additional multipliers and another layer of security and insulation to mitigate risks of a crisis.

Reaching out to unknown neighbors is not a wise decision. One way to evaluate a neighborhood mindset is to start a Neighborhood Watch program. You will find out very quickly those that are armed, concerned about crime or possibly even have a similar mindset.

We have friends that have developed over the last year from our Homeschool Co-op. They have a farm with cattle, milking cows, a private shooting range. We are working together now to learn new skills, their location is not ideal for a retreat since it is a farm in the midst of a highly populated area, but the resources we have access to are beyond our individual efforts.

Church/Organizational Circle

I would hope your church would be supportive and what better core of individuals to build community support. I would say that in my experience depending on your denomination, that some church leaders may oppose preparing or at least look at you with the same look you get from skeptical family members. The groups I have been involved with have reached out to Churches with mixed results. The reason may vary from those that believe preparing is equal to not trusting in the Lord (which I believe He does) or that the Rapture will let them escape any major crisis (which I have no doubt He is capable to do). Unfortunately most automatically jump to a TEOTWAWKI situation and fail to see that hurricanes, tornados, ice storms, and job losses are everyday crisis’ people deal with. When they hear preparing, they hear Revelation events. That being said, I have found that most church members understand the principles found in scripture concerning preparing and are not opposed to it. The Joseph Principle, Noah, the Ant proverb, and the parable of the Ten Virgins are great examples.

The benefits of building the relationships in this circle are vast. Your trust factor should be higher than the population at large, the number of people (depending on your church) gives you access to more skills and resources of knowledge, a pre-structured community, access to large commercial kitchens equipment to feed large numbers of people and most importantly a support group of people of like faith.

Local Authority Circle

I know the mention to some will send shivers through your spine but bear with me. In no way am I suggesting you reveal your preparedness plans to local law enforcement. Especially in light of recently signed Executive Order -- National Defense Resources Preparedness. If you are not familiar with this order I suggest you read it.


What I am suggesting is to make yourself acquainted with your local sheriff’s office or in my case we have a Deputy Sheriff that lives next door. He does not know that we are have a preparedness plan, in fact he does not even know that he is part of my circle, he knows who I am, and to some extent my views on life. Remember the crisis may be personal or global so mitigation of any risk is your goal and having knowledge and a personal connection with the local county sheriff or fire department may prove to be an extra layer of security. I would also add that including a Deputy Sheriff at your Neighborhood Watch Program actually provides you with information on the Sheriff in your county. You may discover that your sheriff is an Oath Honoring Constitutional minded Sheriff willing to assist citizens in his county to prepare.

By no means should your circles encompass any or all of these, you can tailor your concentric circles according to your own personal situation. But as you do, you will start to gain even more confidence in your survival skills, knowledge and resources.

How and when to engage these circles will be dependant on the event you are experiencing. Of course a job loss will not require you to engage the sheriff’s office but you may reach out to family, then your church, etc., yet a regional chemical spill may. Remember each circle provides a resource to mitigate risk.

Codes of Awareness

Now that you have a circle of security to insulate and mitigate risks to your family, establish a Color Code of Awareness. Information is key and if you plan to bug out it is imperative that you are the first ones out the door. While everyone else is watching Fox News to learn of the most up-to-date report on the crisis, then it is time to go. My personal opinion depending on the crisis will be that 80% of people have no where to go and will stay glued to the television for up to the minute news. The remaining 20% will have the sense to leave but 80% of those will hesitate because they are not ready, have nothing packed and no plan of action. That leaves us. The question my primary and secondary circles discuss on major events is What is the trigger? I still don’t have an answer for that question. We have thoughts and ideas and those are used to form a basis for decisions. But this is when we venturing into the “don’t-know-what-we-don’t-know-area”. We all have a sense in today’s world that events are upon us that can go badly very quickly. This unknown variable can only be provided with contingencies, a If this-Then this scenario, and in no way could every possible scenario be accounted for.  Under that unknown variable, we apply an OODA Loop.

Observation: You information do we have; what is going on around us, etc
Orientation: Formulate a plan around the Data you have received
Decision: Is the information valid, is it sufficient to make a decision, if not then more observation, reach out to your circles to uncover other information that will assist you
Action: Based on the information, is it a trigger event for you to implement a plan. What are the implications of delaying action?

Using an OODA loop for engaging your circles will help you from jumping the gun or crying wolf. The color code may also be used to determine when you call upon on more levels of your circles. Those decisions should be based upon your specific circumstance.

Code White
Means there are no potential hazards, ongoing crisis or crises on the horizon. Anything that happens would be a complete surprise. Personally we have never been in a Code White. With all the events going on politically, economically, socially a Code White would be a welcomed relief.

Code Yellow
Code Yellow means there is no specific threat but you are aware of some crisis that may be on the horizon. Example: A potential hurricane, snow storm. We have Code Yellow occasionally in North Carolina. In a Code Yellow we may contact those in our Extended Family and Friend Circle

Code Orange
Code Orange means there is a specific threat serious enough for us to have gassed up all the vehicles and be prepared to bug out. Bags are at the ready, Daily phone calls to members of our Primary Circle are made with location and daily plans. A sound like over kill but it is nice to be in touch with a spouse or children on a regular basis even if just to check in on each others status. The cause for a Code Orange in our operational book is terrorist threats, economic uncertainty, looming war, severe weather alerts, political uncertainty, etc. Yes, we seem to stay recently in Code Orange. We are in contact on a regular basis with Extended Family, Friends and Church Circles.

Code Red
This is the most severe of Codes. This means the event triggering a Code Orange has a high probability, has effected our immediate area or has national implications. Events such as a terrorist attack on a major city, Urban Riots, Collapse of the Markets suddenly, outbreak of a regional conflict in the Middle East are classified as major non-weather events with devastating impact. In these cases we will have contacted multiple circles (if possible) and have initiated our evacuation plan of action.

I suggest that each of your Codes have a specific reason, specific plan of action, reasons why the Code would change either to less or more extreme level. Don’t trigger a Code without using your OODA Loop. You will prevent much heartache and stress if your Code decisions are based on sound Observation and Orientation.

As you see, once each circle is developed, you start insulating yourself and developing an increased probability of successful survival. We have lost too many years of not developing our personal communities. Communities in the past, survived because they developed these connections, if not by design but through necessity. Your survival can not be based on only your resources alone; you can not be an island unto yourself. It has been said many times before; if your plan is to scamper off in to the woods to survive by yourself off the land then your chances are slim if not zero.

This may seem hard but just as when you began preparing your inter-circle, it took a small step. Now you need to take another small step and call a family member and start building on your secondary circle today. Start with those family members that will be more accepting to your message or plans and branch out from there. There is nothing more motivating than early success and building early connections.  If that circle is complete, which I would assume it is, then start your next circle, you may never use it but like insurance its there if you do.

Good Morning Jim,
I would like to add my wholehearted support to the article “Cycling into TEOTWAWKI” by Mine T. I have been an enthusiastic Cyclist for many years, and consider a well set up bicycle to be an excellent option for bugging out, when staying where you are is not an option. I also believe a bicycle will give urban preppers a considerable advantage to those attempting to get out of dodge on foot, or even by four wheeled vehicle. A bicycle can go just about anywhere, so the option of riding out of a city along footpaths, railway lines, drainage culverts, and in the UK, old Canal Paths, would be a definite possibility.
My current choice of touring bike is a Surly Ogre. The Ogre is the latest generation of 29” wheeled mountain bikes, which has been specifically designed for long distance off-road touring. (I have no connection with the company, other than being a satisfied customer). The Ogre is built in the USA, and could be described as the John Deer Tractor of Bicycles, thanks to its strength and  the unlimited set up options, including a huge number of mounting positions for water / Fuel bottles and accessories. It can be set up for Hub Gears, Trailers, Disk Brakes, extra wide tires, and just about anything else you could think of.  My choice of 29” Schwalbe Marathon tires really come into their own on long trips, on or off road.
I fitted my Ogre with Old Man Mountain front and rear racks  and Ortlieb Back Roller Plus Panniers (front and rear)in a subdued Hazel brown colour. These give me plenty of storage space for extended trips of a week or more.  By caching food and other supplies at strategic points along your bug out route, you could remain mobile for months at a time.
I will send you a full review of the bike and the other touring equipment I use later in the year, once I’ve had a chance to give it  a full trial.
All the best, - Andrew in England


Dear Jim:
MineT wrote a great article!   When you really think about it, a bike in the back of your car or truck is likely the most effective way to get home when driving is no longer an option due to blocked roads, car damage, etc., etc.

When a crisis hits you are going to want to get home immediately, if not sooner!   10 miles hiking is a 5 hour trek at 2 mph, 20 miles is a full day.  Biking on any kind of road surface at 10 mph is easy, so you would get home in just one or two hours.    And you when you get home you will have much more energy left to deal with the situation.

The problem  is the space - even with wheels off, a bike takes up a lot of room.  (A motorcycle, moped or electric bike would be even faster to get home if only you had the space to carry it around all the time.)   Bike racks outside the car are a possible solution, but leave your bike vulnerable to theft and the weather (and decrease your mileage).

For convenience and practicality I have my eye on a Montague folding bike that can be kept safe and discreet in the trunk. A nod to SurvivalBlog advertiser Ready Made Resources, they have a good selection and great prices:
[JWR Adds: I've owned a Montague folding bike for two years, and I love it. It is very reliable and folds up quite compactly.]

Regarding type of bike:  I would not even consider a road bike. [In disaster situations] you need the robustness and reliability of a mountain bike.  (Put slick tires on to reduce the weight and rolling resistance if you are mostly road riding.)

There is much less chance of flat tires on a mountain bike, and you have many more route options of road or trail surfaces that can be ridden.

Definitely install tire liner inserts, (e.g., Mr. Tuffys) and/or a tire sealant.  I do both on serious backcountry trips.

Reliability is the key when you are on your own. Regards, - OSOM

Yet another preparedness conference has been announced. These have been popping up like mushrooms this year. This one is near Portland, in Oregon City, Oregon. (That fun cliff-dwelling city with an elevator that connects its two levels.) PREPARE 2012 will be held at the Oregon City Pool Conference Center, 1211 Jackson Street, on Saturday, June 23, 2012, from 6-to-8 in the evening. The organizer of the event is Scott McSorley of Cascadia Preparedness Disaster Consulting.

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The Poster Boy for Bad OPSEC: Preppers do their best to be ready for the worst

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K.A.F. flagged this: Scientists Link Stomach Flu Outbreak to Reusable Shopping Bag

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Long-time content contributor R.B.S. sent: Man bitten by rattlesnake at Walmart in Clarkston, Washington.

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A new Ttabs ultralight flying video that shows some of the geology of eastern Washington: Rock Lake Washington and the Ice Age Floods - Trike Flying

"Save some cash, load up with gold and silver, and be patient.  Get ready for a crime wave -- a large segment of the population will do ‘whatever it has to’ in order to obtain food.  Hungry men and women can be desperate and lawless." - Richard Russell, author of the Dow Theory Letter.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 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.

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a medical professional.  All advice given in this article should be discussed with your doctor before attempting to use them.  Please be cautious that all plants that you use have been properly identified before using them medically.

After a societal collapse, no matter the cause, store bought medicine will disappear.  If you are like my wife and I you have stored up medicines along with your food, water, and all the rest.  However, if the collapse will be long term then sooner or later you are going to run out of medicine.  About a year ago, after moving to the small town our retreat is in to start farming and setting up agriculturally, my wife and I began a discussion as to how we could supplement and even replace our medical supplies as they begin to run short and eventually run out.

The answer was surprisingly simple; plant-based medicines or herbal medicine.  Nature is our medicine cabinet!  Most of the pharmaceutical-grade medicines we have today are based off of plants and plant derivatives, so why not take it one step back in the process to the plants themselves.  Anyone who has begun a study of herbal medicines has heard the story about foxglove and how it was prescribed by herbalists in the past to help treat heart conditions.  Unsurprisingly, when modern science began studying this herb they discovered it contained a medicine that they extracted called digitalis.  Digitalis has been prescribed for decades for patients with heart conditions.

One of the things that my wife and I discovered as we began our quest into herbal medicines is that (unless you live in very cold or very hot climates) we are quite surrounded by medicines.  Not only medicines but vitamin supplements in plant form.  For example, we are surrounded in our area by red or crimson clover, a plant that was introduced to the United States as a cattle feed which has spread like wildfire and is now found in 43 of the 50 states.    The flowers of red clover are what gives the plant its name and are also where most of your medical and vitamins are located in the plant itself.   Red clover can be used as a tea or can be converted to a salve.  As a tea it acts as a mild sedative and also loosens phlegm so is excellent when you have a cold.  It is high in Vitamin C and niacin.  Also it contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, and chromium.   In ointment form it can be used to treat psoriasis and eczema.  

My wife and I spent this past weekend picking an entire bowl of the flowers.  The flowers can be dried for use in teas later, which is what we are doing.  You can also make a tea with it as soon as you pick it.  You boil your water, dump it on top of the flowers,  wait 30 minutes to steep, add honey and drink!  What could be simpler?  That is just one of hundreds of plants that we have identified in our area.

How Do I Get Started?

First:  Identify potential health problems you may face after a collapse.  Does someone in your family have asthma?  Then you would probably want to identify herbs in your area that can be used to treat asthma.  Worried that you will not have anything to treat a fever with once the Tylenol runs out?  Red clover is great for reducing fevers and has anti-viral qualities. 

:  Identify plants in your area.  This is as simple as starting with what you know.  My wife and I know without a doubt that the clover growing in our area is red or crimson clover.  We had questions about other types of plants so we went online to help identify them.  There are great resources out there that make this easy.  An example is:  If you cannot figure out what a plant is after searching in books or online, get in contact with a botanist at a local university.  If they don’t know they will help you find out and are usually extremely helpful.
Third:  Look up the medicinal uses for the herbs you have identified.  Sometimes the results will be disappointing and there is little or no value in harvesting the plant, such as the musk thistles that are abundant in the area where we live.  Other times you will hit a gold mine of medicinal uses, such as what we discovered with the abundant red or crimson clover.  Check out multiple sites and books to insure that you are getting proper information.

:  Find out what you have to do in order to extract or use the medicine.  Sometimes it is as simple as making a tea.  At this point, I feel I must give this warning:  BE CAREFUL OF INGESTING ANYTHING.  Please make 100% sure that you have positively identified a plant before using it as a medicine.  You want to help your family and poisoning yourself (or even them) by rushing or guessing will help no one.   Other times they are best used in poultices, salves, and in other types of applications.  Read up on the medicinal uses then look up how to make these online.

:  Be mindful that herbs will naturally reproduce themselves annually and that you should pick them fresh every year.  One of the herbal remedies I will give below (yellow dock) has a shelf life of about six months but can be harvested in the spring and in the fall so this is not a problem at all.  Just remember that herbs medicinal qualities will expire after a certain amount of time.

:  Compile all of your findings and share them with your group.  This will also give you a great deal of bartering power after a collapse PLUS would be an excellent form of charity that you could use to increase your reputation in your community.   Not to mention the simple fact that sharing your medical knowledge would be a very Christian thing to do!

Example of a herbal remedy
:  Yellow Dock Tonic
There is a plant known as Yellow Dock (you can look up pictures of it on Google Images) that grows on the side of roads and in open pastures.  Since there are two different methods for harvesting and preparing this plant depending on whether it is spring or fall, I will tell you how to harvest and prepare this now.  The seeding part of this plant can be harvested in the fall after drying and used as flour.  The medicinal part of this plant lies below ground. 
Yellow Dock is a great medicinal herb with multiple uses, something you should seek in your medicinal plants.  It can be added to many other mixtures and remedies, such as the red clover tea.  A few of the many medicinal uses of Yellow Dock include, cough medicine, liver detox, digestive aid, gout remedy,  headache remedy,  depression remedy,  skin treatments for itching and eruptions (boils, poison ivy, psoriasis, etc.),  bowel infections as well as treating peptic ulcers.

Preparing Yellow Dock in the Spring
:  To use this plant medicinally you need to grab a shovel and dig out the root system.  The root system of Yellow Dock is usually very well established and can go as far as twelve inches below the surface.  After you dig out the root you will notice that the roots are carrot like in appearance (but not color).  The top of the root system near the stem will be tough and barky.  You want to cut right above this hard bark portion of the roots near the stem.  The top half of this plant can be fed to your livestock (in moderation).  Our goats love them.
The roots should be washed over and over until all the dirt has been removed.    After this cut up the roots into ¼” sections and pile these up.  When you get to the top of the root that is difficult to cut with a knife you can stop and discard this section.  Once you have a nice pile (about 1 lbs or more) of the roots you can begin boiling water.  Place the roots into another pot that has a cover.  This pot should be small enough that your roots fill it almost to the top with a half an inch to an inch to spare.

Once your water has boiled, pour it on top of the Yellow Dock roots to where it is just barely covering them.  At this point, place the top on the pot and go do something else for an hour.  While you are waiting you can prepare a strainer and whatever you wish to place the root extract into.  My wife and I used an old vinegar bottle to place our tonic into.  The excess went into a mason jar.
After your hour is up, fill your tonic bottle halfway by passing the golden brown liquid extract through a strainer to remove any root parts.  Let it cool for a while.  Place the remainder of your extract into another bottle, also straining.  At this point you can throw the roots in your pot onto your compost heap as you have extracted all you can get from them.  Warm (not boil) some apple cider vinegar and pour into your tonic bottle.  Take a couple of teaspoons of this every day.  Remember to not overdo it as the mixture you have is pretty potent.

The foregoing is just one of many herbal remedies that you can concoct.  My wife and I have tried the two remedies recommended in the above article so speak from experience that they do work.  You may find that you have plants unique to your area with great medicinal uses!   In a collapse situation you will need any advantages you can get so start learning about herbal medicines today.
Final Words:  I can talk for a long time about herbal medicines but I urge you to get out there and start learning all of this yourself.  This post should give you a good idea of what to do and I sincerely hope that a few people out there will take it seriously.  God Bless and stay healthy!

Cycling has many facets that could attract people preparing for the time when the comforts we have been so accustom to are no longer available. Pick your scenario for the drastic change in our future and a bicycle might be able to handle some of the chores that a computer controlled fossil fuel vehicle may no longer be capable of. If the family car is incapacitated, how will you get from point A to point B?

But one can't expect to just shell out some money on a human powered urban assault vehicle, and one day just pick it up and head out towards the burning horizon as if it’s a normal evening sunset. I’m going to attempt to write this article to the person who’s looking to add this option by doing research, making wise purchases, testing equipment, and training properly, just like any other prepping should be done.

You’d think silly of me if I bought a firearm for self-defense, loaded the one magazine provided with ammunition I bought from a yard sale, placed it under my pillow, and then expected it (or me) to instantly be ready to fend off anything more than a girl scout ringing the doorbell with a wagon full of cookies. If you consider this a viable threat, I apologize for making light of it, and you might want to talk to somebody about that. But I digress. You should have done your research, talked the poor guy behind the counter at the local gun store into insanity, purchased a firearm and accessories based on your intended use, and budgeted for ammunition to test and train for the moment of truth. Cycling is no different, except for the slinging of lead and the fact that training is much, much cheaper. You should do the research, buy from a local bike shop (can’t stress this enough, as a working relationship with a good bike shop will pay for itself), and train, train, train.

This should lead to a high confidence level that you and your bicycle can reach its planned destination while carrying the gear necessary for the trip. Confidence will come from not only the tested gear, but the change in physical health that the training is going to afford you. I’m not going to assume you have already put in the amount of seat time it takes to get those sit bones in tune for a day of cycling past the no longer gas guzzling modern dinosaurs stuck on the road after TSHTF. To get there, you’ll need to add cycling to your current physical training routine. If a physical training plan doesn’t exist, cycling is the perfect place to start.

Cycling Out Scenarios

Immediate bug out
For us who are still looking for that perfect land to wait out the Apocalypse, we still consider abandoning our current digs for better ones immediately upon realizing that the grid is down and ain’t coming back soon. Walking doesn’t get us very far, and we’ve got to carry everything we need on our backs. It goes without saying that if this isn’t something you have trained for, you might still be able to look back and see your own mailbox before you decide where you’re making camp for the night.

Forced bug out
All but the most fortified and mega-stocked castle-on-a-hill should have a bug out scenario at least in the realm of possibility, or have graves already dug. By the time stores run out, and the angry mobs have eaten each other, cycling can give you that 100+ mile range when the fuel pumps have run dry, and your Hummer is out of commission. You’ve got your maps and have contacted a community with your short wave radio; but how do you get there carrying what you need for the trip when cars are incapacitated and roads are impassable? Your cycle choice and training can step up to the challenge.

Cycling home
Many people who have prepared their suburban homes for disaster work in more urban areas due to the higher paying jobs. For them, being at work when the news gets bad is a concern. Trying to get out of a densely populated area in a car on limited road space due to everyone else trying to do the same might become problematic. If getting home by car is no longer an option, cycling can be a much faster alternative to hoofing it. A ten mile commute on back roads via bike is a 45 minute ride with limited training vs. half of a day. 35 to 50 miles and more is possible in the same time it would take to walk. With no impact on your joints from the ride, you might be of some good when you get there to bunker down and defend your home.

Shelter in Place
You might think in this scenario that a bike would be useless, but I’d like to argue the point. Exercise will still be important no matter where you find security. A cycle trainer can turn your outdoor bike into an indoor gym. Even if you’re 10 feet under concrete avoiding the nuclear winter, you won’t have to have memorized your favorite 90 minute exercise DVD to get in a good workout. You’re gonna want to keep that heart in good shape for when you pop the hatch and greet the new world. Also consider the power you’re generating with that spinning wheel. That could run a generator that keeps batteries charged or run small appliances. With a little ingenuity, this energy can be used in a number of ways. Hook it to a water pump normally run by a drill and you can move stored non-potable water up to a tank on the roof to flush the last working toilet in existence. This might be a topic for another paper.

Bike Choices

Road bikes are very specialized machines for exactly what they’re named for; the road. If your plan includes pavement from point A to point B, and you train for the situation, a road bike can get you home in a hurry while your coworkers are stuck on clogged roads. I mention training due to the fact that these speed demons are to be ridden bent over and don’t have any creature comforts. 100 psi tire pressures, a rigid architecture, and a seat hard enough to deflect incoming artillery make for an uncomfortable ride if you aren’t prepared for it. The component sets are built for speed, not abuse. I’m not saying they are particularly fragile, just designed for the road. That being said, if you pick up road cycling as a hobby, you won’t blink at a 25 or 30 mile ride for fun, much less as a way home in an emergency.

A mountain bike might seem like a better choice, and for most initially riding one is a lot easier. If you’re G.O.O.D plan is off the side of a mountain into the valley below, you can stop reading here and buy a downhill special. If crossing numerous unimproved sections of land is in order, this is your choice mode of transportation. But these bikes can be very inefficient on the road and can drain your energy much faster. Your level of comfort and durability go way up, and if the distance isn’t a factor, a mountain bike might be your choice. A general rule is the more suspension travel the more energy will be robbed from each rotation of the pedals. Also, picking an aggressive tread pattern increases the rolling resistance you’ll experience. Much like the road bike, if you’ve trained for it, this type of bike can do the miles.

The type of bike I ride is what’s considered a hybrid. This is a broad category. They can range from dual suspension to a rigid frame and forks. From a wider (not mountain wide) tire with 60 psi, to a slim road tire with 100+ psi. Many sport a flat style handle bar. It is the most identifiable feature, and a huge difference between it and the road bike. The other difference is that they usually sit more upright, making it a more familiar ride to beginners. Thinner tires and less suspension separate it from the mountain bikes. Commuter bikes fall into this category, and have some features that are attractive to someone who’s looking for all-weather reliability. Commuters don’t take days off just because the weather turns on them, and neither will you in an emergency situation. They can have better component sets, sealed bearings, and disc brakes for better performance in inclement weather. Hybrid and commuter bikes are often drilled out in places specifically designed for mounting racks for bags. This isn’t mandatory but will facilitate mounting these later.

As mentioned, tires for these semi-thin rimmed machines range from slick and stiff to knobbed and squishy. Depending on your planned route, road tires give you much less rolling resistance and more miles for your efforts. The tradeoff is in traction on any (and I mean any) dirt or gravel covered terrain. Also, durability is not their strong suit. If you do run road tires, you have to be careful of any debris or deformity in the road. Fortunately, there’s a whole sport based on good rolling and high traction tires. Cyclocross tires are perfect for both on and off road. They might not save you in an extreme downhill situation, but for general on and off road use, cyclocross tires are worth looking at.

Bug Out Cycling Gear

As with most of this paper, this is practical information for every cyclist, regardless of the situation. Number one: Do not ride a bike without a helmet. Bike helmets are very lightweight, and you won’t even notice it two minutes into a ride. Note: Cycling helmets are good for one impact. Get a new one if it ends up saving your skull from impact. Number 2: Lights should be used when cycling in any type of traffic or on public accessible roads. Unless you determine your bug out a “blackout situation”, a blinking red light to the rear and a blinking white light to the front should be flashing at all times. Work gloves and safety glasses are part of my B.O.B., and the ones I’ve selected to get me through Armageddon are just fine for commuting or escaping an urban disaster to get home. Glasses will help keep you in control if something hits you in the face. The gloves have a padded palm to give some comfort from leaning on the bars for prolonged periods of time. I have cycling gloves, but my mechanic style gloves get the call if I’m loading up my 72 hour bag and heading for safer ground.

Pedals come in three main flavors: platform, clips, or clipless. I’m going to eliminate clips altogether. I consider them the most dangerous of the three, and the least effective. I’m going to recommend cycling shoes and clipless pedals, because they put a lot more of your power to the ground and are safer than any other type of pedal. I’m not sure most who don’t use them would agree, but the ones who do will never, ever go back. If you plan on doing a “century” (cycle slang for 100 miles in a day), or just toolin’ around town, clipless pedals are head and shoulders above your other options. Conversely; platform pedals (the ones you’re used to from when you were a kid on your Huffy) offer you a shoe alternative that most clipless pedals don’t. The answer can be clipless pedals with a platform around them. That way, if you have to ride without your bike shoes, you can do so effectively. It’s the win/win situation we’re all looking for. They are available from different manufacturers.

Shoes for road bikes are once again designed only for riding, and walking in them can be kind of like walking in swim fins and sound like tap shoes. Shoes designed for mountain biking use the same pedal attachment (cleat) as the road shoes, but are designed to put your foot down when you need to, and walk around much better. When buying this combination, keep in mind that the cleat comes with the pedals, and not the shoes. There are a few different types of pedals with their own style cleat. Which of these styles is better is another subject for another paper. Most are great designs, but your familiarity with them is much more important than which one might have a slight advantage on the other. The cleat that comes with your pedals should bolt on to the bottom of whatever shoe you buy. If you buy both from a cycle shop (always recommended), they should make the whole shootin’ match work for you.

If you are going to be out before the angry hordes are done looting and haven’t finished eating the majority of their own population, you can be a target for them. Much like settlers heading West, you’ll need a way of confronting the onslaught. Although you are going to want to give most of the carrying burden to the mechanical beast, some things might be better carried on your person. In fact, you might want to consider having to ditch the bike altogether if the scenario calls for it. Sure, this is a last resort, but so might have been bugging out in the first place. One thing I won’t be strapping on to my cycle is my primary firearm. This, a hydration system, and some other basic survival gear will be attached to me. I’ve worn plenty of MOLLE style vests in the past, and one that carries my sidearm cross draw in a retention holster is getting the call for this mission. Add some pouches for reloads and other must have stuff in just in case plan “C” is called into play. The rest can find room on the bike. Keep in mind that most panniers (a set of side bags) are designed to be removed quickly and have some sort of carrying handle. Loaded appropriately, and you could escape a situation quickly with quite a bit of your gear and leave behind the bike.

Other Gear
Two other parts of your body that touch the cycle the majority of the time are your hands and your derriere. Gloves we covered, so we’ll deal with your sit bones now. You can buy seats with as much padding as you’d like, then add a gel cover to it, and even find a seat post with a little shock absorber in it, but there’s no replacement for seat time. They have seats out there that look like the came off a tractor, but they’ll still more than likely hurt your butt at first. Seat time, measured in minutes, not miles, will make this pain bearable. I prefer to just log the seat time with the saddle that came with the bike. I pay good money (not too much money) for good bikes, and I find the seat that came on it plenty good for me. Cycling pants have a pad built in to them, and they are effective. Cycling pants are also shaped for being bent at the waist, making them comfortable for long rides, but not necessary option for your journey. You can wear them under loose fitting clothing so that you have your pocket knife right where you normally wear it. My tactical shorts usually ride over of mine.

Carrying Gear

This is the metal frame that attaches to your bikes frame, forks, or both. Racks are available in many different sizes and carrying styles. Some are clip-on, and some bolt on to the bike. I’m not a fan of the clip-on, and wouldn’t trust them in a heavy carry or rough terrain situation to lug what might be equipment and supplies that prolong my life. Some only carry loads on top, some on the sides, and some both. This is going to be a personal choice based on how much each person can carry safely for the distance and terrain they must cover. A general rule is that you’d rack and pack the rear of the bike first, then the front as needed. I have done both, and prefer to rack the front first. I don’t even notice moderate loads on the front of my commuter bike, and prefer the ride of the weight low and forward on my bike. I had to look for specific racks that work with disc brakes with my last purchase, as my newest cycle is equipped with them. Suspension laden cycles will have some restrictions on what racks they can accommodate. Again, a good cycle shop will be able to help you with selection, as well as proper installation.

I’ll tell you right off the bat these things can get downright expensive. But like with most things, you get what you pay for. Since I’m guessing you’ll be (as I will) moving the heavier, if not all of, your B.O.B. to the bags, the light duty bags are not what you’re looking for. Water containers can be affixed directly to the racks if you wish. Practice riding with all the extra weight in its place before the need arises. The higher you make your center of gravity, the more unstable your ride will be. The other nugget I’ll share is that I prefer to buy the racks and bags from the same manufacturer. Not necessarily the same place, as shopping around can save you some dough. As mentioned before, many panniers slip on and lock to the racks for quick on and off convenience. A slight difference in design between the racks and the bags can lead to relying on duct tape (once again) to arrive with what you departed with. There are plenty of options of where you want to put bags, too. Handlebar, trunk, sides, seat, and frame bags are a few of the choices. I have a seat bag with an extra tube and the tools to change it, along with a cycling multi-tool. I prefer these items to be out separate so that I don’t have to look for it when needed. Changing a flat on a bike is very fast with some practice. Looking for the tools can take as long as fixing the flat if you have to dig for the stuff.

Why not a bugout bag (B.O.B.) for your B.O.B.? Google up the B.O.B. (Beast of Burden, in this case) cycle trailer and I think you’ll be impressed. I’ve personally talked with people who have crossed the country pulling these things loaded down with gear, and they praise them. The only complaint is that they’re so popular that replacement parts can be hard to come by. Their single wheel design and slim profile make them very agile, able to scoot through small places (like between abandoned cars) and down narrow trails. This is the only individual product endorsement I’m including in this paper. I’m currently experimenting with a two wheeled trailer I picked up second hand. The primary use for the trailer will be our pet, which we’ve prepped for on all the levels in which we’ve prepped for ourselves. But I will also be testing this for the carrying of supplies. Water will be placed low and flat of the bottom of the cargo area. Other cargo will be placed around, and our small dog will be strapped in and sitting up in the middle. If you have a small child, this is also an option. I’m going to suggest, nay demand, the same safety equipment for the young passenger (helmet) and the same lights on the rear and far left and right of the trailer. A flag also accompanies most trailers for visibility.

Bike Maintenance and Repair

Professional Maintenance
After riding your bike the first hundred miles or so, it's time to take it back to the cycle shop for adjustments. I wouldn’t try this if you elected to buy from an individual or a big box store. New cables stretch and derailleurs will need tweaking. This is a service many bike shops offer for free. Unless you really want to learn a new skill (discussed later), I'd leave adjustments to the pros at the shop. They aren’t often necessary after initially tightening everything up. Just have it done occasionally and you’ll be ready when the ball drops.

Home Maintenance
Home maintenance is not too tedious. Cleaning and lubricating the chain is something you should do as necessary. A device to do this is about the only tool I have that is cycle specific. Keeping the bike clean, especially if you take it off road, is important to prevent unnecessary corrosion.

As for maintenance, I’d leave almost anything more complicating than flats to the cycle shop. One reason for this is the shop's mechanic can spot other things you might have missed that are askew with your scoot whilst repairing whatever it is you drug it in for. That is unless you’ve done your homework in cycle repair and equipped your tool arsenal with cycle specific implements. That being said, cycle repair could be a post catastrophic vocation that might be in demand. If you do choose to develop this skill set, it might be a bartering tool with others who now realize that a bike is their best transportation option. You might just find yourself fixing old bikes and trading/selling them, effectively starting your own “The Day After” bike shop as an income stream while saving time and money now by tuning your own.

Again, as long as you keep your bike in good working order, even if the cycle shop falls within the quarantine area, you should be able to get where you’re going on your well maintained bicycle. Tubes and the few tools you’ll need to change a road side flat are a must. A chain is a key component that can break without any real sign of abuse. An extra one might be a good idea along with a chain tool. Chain tools are small and fairly self-explanatory, and come as part of cycle-specific multi-tools. Stocking up on spare parts can be part of your plan if you’re considering the after world bike shop we previously mentioned.

Some parts will need to be replaced, much like a car. Unlike a car that has a check engine light, sometimes bicycle problems don’t present symptoms as fast and can easily be missed. Having an inoperative bike can make your five mile bug out plan change drastically, and make a 50 mile bug out nearly impossible. Tire wear is more obvious, and you’ll be looking at them more than most other parts. Tubes, unless you really are lucky, will be replaced because of occasional flats before they wear out. The less obvious parts are the chain and coated brake cables.

Testing Your Gear
Just as with the waterproof matches, the dehydrated mac and cheese, and the portable water filter you bought for your B.O.B., every piece of prepper gear must be tested. Not only for operability, but for the confidence you need to carry this gear in to TEOTWAWKI. Your bike is no exception. Find the weak links, and squash them. You have to know that when this piece of equipment is supposed to get you home (or where you’re going to call home) that when you lean on the pedals, it’ll project itself forward just like it’s designed to do.

Cycling Lifestyle

Cycle shops
A good cycle shop will pay for itself in professional advice, proper fitting you to a bike, proper mounting accessories to your machine, and continual tuning. Picking a bike off the shelf of a super store is a recipe for disaster. I wouldn’t buy a bike from a box store as a present for a total stranger; much less trust my plans for the future to one. As with any good gun shop, you should feel comfortable asking questions about gear. If they don’t have the time to answer them, then Google up another bike store in your area until you find one that does. Make sure the owner and employees are cyclists. Their real life experiences with gear will be your first test, but not your last. It should be obvious that they’re cyclists, by the display of their own bikes in the shop. Ask them why they picked the gear they run, and then learn from their answers. They’ll also most likely be your first clue to where the good cycling clubs meet.

Cycling clubs
A lot of what we do as preppers is enhanced by like-minded people, and cycling is no exception. Getting into a cycling club can make your whole experience better. There’s seat time, and then there’s seat time combined with a little healthy competition and camaraderie. There are usually ability groups to match all levels, so you don’t have to be able to do 20 miles at 20 MPH on day one. But you will improve quicker than you think if you work at it.

If you really want to be prepared to bike thru the now third world country at the end of your driveway, take up a discipline called cyclocross. Cyclocross racing is a fairly new sport, but is catching on quickly as it brings the other types of racing together in a strange and fun environment. This type of event invites inclement weather, provides terrain that varies from road to mud, includes obstacles that will force you to carry your bike, and will abuse your body (as much as you want). It takes place on a closed course designed to tax your cycling skills as much as your endurance. The events can be more about finishing than time, and more about fun than trophies. You’ll better know what your body will put out, and what your gear will put up with in this kind of situation. Consider it the cycling equivalent to practical shooting.

Cycle commuting
If your plan includes cycling home from work, what better way to know how it'll go than riding to work? I know there are those commutes that just aren’t feasible, but don't count out 10 or 15 miles one way until you know what you're capable of. Commuting every day isn’t necessary. Maybe you save it for casual Friday. Your attention to detail is different on a bike, and this gives you the best view of what you'll experience when it's time to get home under adverse conditions. I’m not going into a tactical discussion here, but you’ll want to take note of choke points and back routes that will provide better cover or concealment. It also feels good to pass a few gas stations knowing you're not shelling out your hard earned money just to get to work. Plan your commutes by picking roads that are safe to ride on.  Skip roads that don't offer you the room you need to bail out. You are considered a vehicle, and you have some right of way, but don't put yourself in a situation where you're trying to explain this to a Paramedic in the back of an ambulance. Review the cycling laws in your state, but realize you might be the only one out there who has. You will be able to pack almost anything you’d normally haul to work in the panniers that will carry your survival gear. My smaller front bags are all I usually need, and I’m much more prepared to work after getting the blood moving on a quick ride to work.

Healthy Lifestyle
Whether a quadruple bypass is in your past, or in your future, you won’t be overly welcome in a post-apocalyptic community if the procedure is imminent. Starting a physical training routine with cycling is easy and fun for almost anyone. After the initial investment, training is basically free and is as convenient as taking an afternoon bike ride. If the great outdoors doesn’t present many opportunities for pleasant riding, many indoor options are available. Adding cycling to a routine is a great idea if your joints are getting a little older. Even if you’re in above average physical shape, cross training on a bike is a great idea to change up your workout. Find a local spin class and see how fast you get into shape for miles of road. As preppers, if physical conditioning isn’t part of a routine, we won’t last long in the times we’re prepping for.

I’m hoping that by now you’re looking at this topic from a broader prospective by looking at the benefits of adding cycling to your lifestyle both before and after TEOTWAWKI. Most of the things I’ve mentioned here shouldn’t surprise you, but I hope were worth reading one more time. A few things worth repeating: You get what you pay for. Seat time, measured in minutes, not miles, is everything. Test all your equipment and strategies as with all survival gear. A great cycle shop will prove indispensable the same way a good gun store is for that type of gear. Last, a cycling lifestyle will benefit in more ways than one. If you live ten years longer because your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, you might just get to shoot some zombies that you would have missed if you flat line before they get here. Happy cycling.

Hi Jim,
To follow up on the recent letter on Commercial Storage Space Thievery, I had a very similar experience with my storage locker.  I have a locker from Public Storage in Saratoga, California and had the very same thing happen.  I checked out my unit one night and another lock was on the unit.  I had the Sheriff come by and they did the usual.  The problem I am having presently is the insurance company hasn't really done much and its been three months [since I discovered the theft.]  I had all the receipts from and so that isn't the problem.  They keep dragging their feet while I still pay for insurance on the unit.  To add injury to insult, Public Storage just raised my rent. Best Regards, - Martin in California


Mr. Rawles and Steve S.:
I am a Resident Manager of a storage facility.  Many of my tenants are preppers.  We have not had any trouble in the seven years that I have been manager.
The secret to having a secured facility is to ask questions.  Here are some tips on selecting a safe place for your preps
1.        Does the manager live on property and is the resident close to the gate.
2.       Security – what form does it take
3.       Are the camera recording 24/7 or are they for show
4.       Entry into the facility – coded box and log
5.       Own lock – case hardened – round locks are the best as it takes a long time to cut and usually requires some type of cutting tool
6.       Limited Gate hours – 24 hour facility is just asking for trouble.  Thieves come in the night
7.       Fencing – easy or hard to climb
8.       More than one gate – how is the second one monitored
9.       Does the facility have alarms on the doors – newer places  have this. 
10.   Not a lot of corridors as the turning can keep someone from seeing
11.   Neighborhood/location –ask local police if there is a history of trouble. 
12.   How long has the manager been in charge – long term managers are usually the ones that have a secure facility. 
When putting preps/guns or such make sure it does not look like you are placing important items inside the unit.  If you are going to be out of the area find a family member or friend that you trust and have them check the unit at least once a month.  Units that are visited by the people who rent them are less like to have trouble.
If you, personally, don’t feel comfortable then do not rent there. 
Yes, both myself and my security/maintenance guy are preppers and we have learned many good lessons from this web site
Thank you for all you have taught us. - Texgalatheart

I was dismayed to read Steve S.’s letter about thieves chopping locks off of multiple storage units. Like Steve, I chose a gated facility with cameras. However, there is an additional layer of security available at some storage facilities that your readers may wish to know about. The facility I chose has individually coded entry alarms. When I visit the facility, I must swipe an uniquely coded electronic key in order to open the gate. That key is coded to my individual storage units. If I do not unlock and open either of my specific storage units within ten minutes or so after entering the gate, an alarm goes off. Similarly, if either of my units are unlocked and opened without me first entering the gate, an alarm goes off.
Obviously one pays a price for the additional security (my facility also has on-site resident managers). However, my facility always has a waiting list so the price must be right (it was for me!). Just thought folks might want to know this technology is available and commercially feasible for storage facilities to implement! - David in Pleasanton

Dear Field Gear Editor:
I respectfully disagree with the use of the  Deep Concealed Carry Holster for most people who carry concealed firearms.  Gun fights happen in seconds and taking the time to rip open a shirt and cross draw may not be fast enough to survive.  However, anyone carrying a concealed  firearm should be well versed  in the concept of situational awareness and be prepared well in advanced that the use of a weapon may be needed.  Another problem with a cross draw in a highly stressful situation is the heightened possibility of muzzle flashing  someone other that the threat.  
I prefer and regularly use a Milt Sparks Versa Max 2 or Summer Special 2  inside the waistband holster,  tucked slightly behind the hip.  This allows for a fast draw with the muzzle pointing at the threat and the concealment is excellent.   The other day I carried a full size 1911 for the day, wearing a T-shirt and loose un-tucked patterned shirt.   I passed several police officers, private security and many people, and not one person appeared to notice I was carrying a weapon.  I have in the past used only a T-shirt to conceal my 1911 using the Versa Max 2 with no issues, however the T-shirt needs to be on the larger size. Pat made a very good point  in that it does take time for the body to get accustomed to a holster.  There are those who do like a shoulder holster and for those who do,  the Deep Concealed Carry Holster may work well for you.  I believe a majority of the concealed carry users would be better off using a inside the waistband holster, tucked slightly behind the hip, like the Milt Sparks Versa Max 2.
Disclaimer,  I do not work for or represent any company or person involved in any aspect of the firearms business.  - Florida Dave

The latest coinage debasement news, this time from The Philippines: Coin hoarding soon a crime? JWR's Comment: With orchestrated currency inflation there comes the inevitable day when seigniorage costs advance to unacceptable levels, and the metallic value of any given coin greatly exceeds its face value. Rather than doing the honest thing--knocking a few zeroes off their paper currency--governments often resort to bans on coin melting and coin exportation. Anti-hoarding laws are much less common in First World countries as there are typically no limitations on the amount of a currency that someone holds in an ostensibly "sound" currency regime. The root of the problem is inflation. Honest money, pegged to--and redeemable on demand for--specie, is the solution. Debasement and the laws that go along with it, are just stopgap measures, designed to perpetuate larcenous governments. I use the word larcenous because inflation is a covert method of robbing us of the buying power of our savings. Currency inflation is effectively a hidden form of taxation.

B.B. sent this: Greek Depositors Withdrew $898 Million From Banks Monday

From J.B.G.: Moody‘s Investors Service has downgraded 26 Italian banks

Items from The Economatrix:

Jim Rogers:  Get Out of Stocks; Buy Gold, Silver and Agriculture

The Long-term Case For Commodities

A reminder that a Self Reliance Expo will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 18th and 19th. There should be a half dozen SurvivalBlog advertisers with booths there.

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AmEx sent this: Science Journal Could Give Recipe For Deadly Avian Flu Virus

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Kevin S. sent a link to an interesting fringe Libertarian "Second Realm" manifesto. ("Crypto-Anarchy, Tradecraft, TAZ and Counterculture.") Coincidentally, Kevin also sent this piece from The Von Mises Institute: The Philosophy of Ownership

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Grace mentioned this over at Mac Slavo's SHTFPlan blog: Emergency Preparedness: How Horrific Will it Be for the Non-Prepper?

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Ol' Remus has posted an astute essay on partisan guerilla warfare.

"This world is an uncertain realm filled with danger. Honor undermined by the pursuit of power. Freedom sacrificed when the weak are oppressed by the strong. But there are those who oppose these powerful forces; who dedicate their life to truth, honor, and freedom. These men are known as Musketeers". - Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers, serialized March to July, 1844.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 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.

Food Storage has been talked and written at length, but equally important are the logistics of Food Usage when it comes time to break out that food and begin using it. To store the food that way that it will be used, I’ll put “A Week in a Bucket”. It takes some meal-planning and some smaller packages to be able to store “A Week in a Bucket”; but when it comes time to use these pre-planned, balanced diets, opening one bucket at a time is much preferred to opening a bucket of beans, a bucket of rice, a bucket of canned chicken, canned beef… you get the idea… plus it is easier to inventory as well as easier to “grab-and-go/ take a week” for shorter stints in case of temporary evacuation or trips to “the country”.

Those who store 45 pounds of wheat (or oats, or beans, etc) in mylar lined 5 gallon buckets may get very tired of that wheat (or whatever) before it gets used up or may not have a large enough pantry if several different buckets need to be opened at the same time to provide balanced meals at the point of use. I certainly do not want open food containers all around attracting bugs and rodents if I can pre-plan to get meal-sized portions into mylar and into the buckets, then open them when I need them. Then discard (or reuse) the mylar bags. For me, being a big fan of portion-sized packaging, I consider these “Week in a Bucket” kits to be like a “mega-MRE” with one bucket being opened at a time for an entire week. The “Week in a Bucket” also brings purchasing this food back to a manageable exercise instead of a daunting bulk-food acquisition and storage task. A “Week in a Bucket” can be assembled every week or two, or as often as finances allow, then put on the shelf… and rotated out because we all eat what we store and store what we eat, don’t we? Of course we do.

I have found that I can do some advance menu planning and get an entire week of meals for two (2) people or as many as four (4) people in one 5 gallon bucket depending on what is chosen for the menu and how it is packaged… cans, vacuum-sealed mylar bags, dehydrated portions, etc. So, a years worth of Food Storage will take up 52 of these 5 gallon sealed buckets… which is a little more than a single 40’ by 48” pallet that is 4 layers tall, three buckets wide by 4 buckets long (with 4 left buckets on top). Planning a menu is not difficult, but getting agreement on the menu is time consuming and takes some nutrition knowledge. One way to look at it is the way that my Mother planned menus, “This is what I am fixing, you can choose to eat it or not”, but a more agreeable method would be to get the group together and decide on a menu plan before the food is purchased and before it is placed in the buckets. Depending on your level of patience, somewhere in the middle may be the most realistic menu planning method. In any case, each bucket will have a variety of foods and will be readily marked on the outside for identification purposes. If you choose to cheat and open next weeks bucket because you like the jars of cinnamon applesauce better than mixing up the Jello pudding in this week’s bucket, well, you have a conscience… you can live with it.

  1. It is helpful to paste a list on the outside of each bucket telling exactly what is inside each of them, and the proposed week number. What I am going for is essentially like an MRE for 2-4 people for a week, in a single bucket. Example:
    1. WEEK 1
        1. 1 Box/ Bag Grape Nuts (or other choice) Cereal
        2. 1 unopened Plastic squeeze Bottle Honey
        3. 1 Box Powdered Milk
        4. 1 Box Powdered Eggs
        5. 15-18 Envelopes Instant Oatmeal
        6. 5# Hard Red Wheat (For grinding/ flour for a loaf or two of bread or biscuits). Add an envelope of yeast/ baking soda and other bread making ingredients, depending on your preferred whole wheat bread recipe.
        7. Don’t forget the little bottle of multiple vitamins and the extra dietary fiber pills or Metamucil (or equal).
      2. LUNCH FOR A WEEK:
        1. 1-2 Box Saltine Crackers
        2. 10-14 Cans assorted Condensed Soup or 14 envelopes Knorr (or equal) assorted dried soup mix
        3. 3-7 cans SPAM or DAK ham or equal sandwich/ seasoning meat, or envelopes of dried meats (to be reconstituted with water).
        4. 1 small jar peanut butter (with the bread made when the bucket was first opened)
        5. 1 small jar grape jelly
        6. 1 small can canned cheese or jar of Cheez Whiz or equivalent.
        1. 3-4 boxes pasta, or hamburger helper, or bagged pasta meals (like Lipton or equal)
        2. 3-4 cans pasta sauce
        3. 6-10-12 cans tuna/ chicken/ beef/ salmon or cans of beef stew
        4. 4-6-8-12 cans green beans, peas, spinach, mixed veggies, or corn or dried varieties of these (to be reconstituted with water)
        5. 1-2 pound bag dried beans and bouillon cubes, dried onions, dried tomatoes, etc depending on your favorite bean recipe.
        6. 1-2 pounds bags of rice.
        7. 5-10 envelopes of Dried Mashed Potatoes (add water and heat)
        8. 4-6 envelopes of dried chili mix.
        9. 4-6 envelopes dried Gravy Mix (add water and heat)
        10. 10-12 cans assorted fruit or envelopes of dried fruit (to be reconstituted with water)
        11. 5-10 envelopes assorted pudding or gelatin mix for desserts (mix with water and heat, then let cool).
        12. Throw in some paper plates and bowls and plastic cutlery, and you have a week-long picnic in a bucket.
  1. Try for about four(4) to six (6) different weekly menus that can substitute different cereals, different soups, add the packaged red beans and rice instead of pastas, add macaroni and cheese in place of mashed potatoes, and be creative with the canned meats (like making fried salmon cakes). Hamburger helper comes in many flavors, bagged pasta meals as well, so do not forget those “pre-packaged” meals (and meat can be from canned or dried sources, or fresh. Also, do not forget seasonings like Tabasco, salt and pepper, garlic and onion powder or even Montreal Steak Seasoning and A-1, Asian or Mexican seasonings add spice to anything and break the monotony.
  2. The labor efficiency and space efficiency of only having one bucket open at a time, per week, shows itself by taking up much less room than having 6 or 7 buckets open at once, and the probability of attracting critters or infestations is less with only one open at a time, especially if the mylar bags are sized for a single meal at a time or if we buy the prepackaged dried pasta meals or Hamburger helper (or equal) varieties.
  3. Again, after the menus are planned, getting the ingredients is as simple as adding a week’s worth to your grocery list and putting it aside as soon as the groceries are unpacked. No more quizzical looks from piling multiple cases of canned goods in your cart all at once, just buy them an extra week at a time and nobody will be the wiser. OPSEC counts.
  4. Keep in mind the utility of being able to “grab a week” in one hand and skedaddle (that is a southern term for evacuate) for a short term relocation in case of acute threat where staying in the present location is not possible, say for a short-term chemical spill or gas leak, “fill in your own short term emergency here”, etc. It is also easy to pick up a bucket for a week-long camping trip to a nice alternate vacation location, if you so desire. It is also handy to have these kits assembled in case of “running out of paycheck before running out of month” situations.
  5. You notice that this plan does not include water, but much has been made of water storage as well as water filtering and catchment/ supplies already. The minimum is one gallon per day per person, and to sanitize it, add two (2) or three (3) drops of liquid chlorine bleach or equivalent per liter (quart) and let it sit for 30 minutes. A little more bleach if the water is still cloudy, or any other alternative treatments like UV disinfection if you like that. I am a chlorine bleach fan, personally.
  6. Okay, so how about the extra fresh things to round out the “Week in a Bucket”? We all need fresh vegetables or “greens”, so become familiar with what grows in your area and add that to the plan. Watercress, wild onions, dandelion leaves, even those cattails, duckweed, and other gathered greens will come in very handy… and are not in the buckets. We can all grow lettuce and arugula and onions beginning in March, and we can pack bean and broccoli and radish seeds to sprout for added greens.
  7. We have fruit trees and/ or nut trees someplace close, right? If not, find some or plant some. Fresh Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Pecans, Hickory Nuts, even Walnuts will all be a welcome addition when the time comes. Find and use them now, since there is no need in being forced to learn new skills when we can learn them beforehand.
  8. Salt blocks to pull in wild game, of course! No need to stalk and track if the fresh game will come to you. And, learn to dress these animals too… without wasting parts. Use as much of the game as you can. It is the right thing to do.
  9. Compound Bow and arrows for silent harvesting, maybe even an air gun for squirrels, rabbits, doves or pigeons? That is handy.
  10. Casting nets for bodies of water… yes please, I’ll take a couple if there is a suitable pond or lake nearby… and learn to use them. Or, use hook and line… or even use the compound bow for fishing. That takes some experience and practice, but that is what we like to do. Fish traps in flowing water…if it was good for the Native Americans it can be good for us.

“A Week in a Bucket” is in essence the step between individual MREs and bulk/ mass storage, and possibly will work better for your situation. Give it some thought and evaluate its utility and advantages for yourself.

Location is the most important thing to consider when developing a plan for long-term habitation in a TEOTWAWKI setting. Of primary concern are Community, Safety, Water, Food, Sustainability, and Natural Resources. It is absolutely imperative to find a locale with a well or fresh water spring. You will need fertile ground that is within distance of easy irrigation. The safest places will be those that are away from major highways and population centers; however, these small rural communities are typically suspicious of outsiders. You will need certain natural resources available as well to guarantee you are not reliant on trading or the good will of your neighbors to survive.

My plan involves getting back to the family farm in East Texas and away from the chaos that is going to ensue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where I currently live. I have multiple routes highlighted on maps to get to my destination with detours marked for crossing major highways along the route. I have insured that I have enough fuel to reach my destination along with enough of a buffer in case I spend an extended period of time in traffic or want to help a stranded motorist who is out of fuel. I will never take main roads like an Interstate unless I am 100% sure that I am leaving ahead of the horde and even then I know that it is a risky proposition because those are the routes that will either fall under tight government control, or more likely, will have “survival of the fittest areas” where those who are not prepared prey on those who have anything of worth. I have all of my survival gear and supplies staged in specific areas to allow for rapid loading and a timely departure. My SUV has a roof rack, trailer hitch cargo carrier and enough space to carry my wife, kids, and all of my necessary supplies along with the family picture albums.

In selecting a location for your retreat there are several considerations to take into account. First, Who are your neighbors going to be? It is all well and good to select a remote location in a farming community to set up your retreat but these communities are typically very close knit and do not trust or welcome outsiders quickly. You should insure that you have a solid relationship with at least one and preferably multiple families in the area you have chosen so you can integrate seamlessly into the community. You will have to bring skills or goods that will enable you to be accepted in the community as an equal in the long-term survival quotient. Expect that you will have to pitch in and work hard with the rest of the community in one of several areas like food production, land and home maintenance, as well as security. Just because you bring enough food for yourself does not mean that you will be able to opt-out of the hard work necessary to support an agrarian community. If you are accepted into the community there will be plenty of people who will be willing to show you how to do any number of things since areas like this tend to have numerous older individuals who will have grown up as subsistence farmers. These people will be familiar with making clothes, caring for livestock, gardening, canning, trapping, hunting, and fixing just about anything with some bailing twine and duct tape. Just do not expect that you will be able to show up in a rural community with a truckload of gear and convince them that you will be an asset. Even in a community that you have someone to vouch for you expect to spend at least a year proving that you can be a worthwhile addition to their group.

Second, you need to consider how safe is the location you desire. You will want to be away from highways that will have any traffic. An excellent choice is a Farm to Market Road at least one to two miles away from the nearest highway. Most houses have been built close to the road and this is not an ideal situation since you will want to have a location that is not obviously inhabited if there is traffic on your road. Try to find a location that is out of sight and hearing, don’t want someone walking by to hear you chopping firewood, and close to where your garden will be located to maximize your ability to keep your home and garden safe with the minimum amount of security resources.

Third, you need to find land that will be able to support the members of your family for an extended period of time. Things to consider when choosing a location are: fresh water and arable land. Is there a source of unpolluted, fresh water on the property that can be accessed by digging a well? Is there a stream on the property that can have water diverted for gardening irrigation? Is there a pond on the property that can be stocked with fish? Are there trees on the property that will keep you supplied with firewood and lumber for building? You will need a clean source of water that you have easy access to that can keep your family supplied with a sufficient amount water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and washing.  Also, take into consideration the number of livestock that you will need and check with the local agriculture office to see the recommended acreage per cow, horse, etc… If you can find a location with a creek on the property it will be very advantageous in keeping your livestock watered and your garden irrigated. When you go to lay out your garden choose land that is downhill from the water source so your irrigation channel will be fed without additional effort. Another advantage of a running water source is the ability to build a dam to create a pond. Having a pond for raising fish and as a large storage location for water in case of drought could be vital to your survival. Not only are trees useful for the firewood and building supplies that can be taken from them but it is also an excellent buffer to shield your home and garden from the sight of people that might pass by. Wild game also tends to be more plentiful in forested areas and that will supplement your fish, livestock and garden. Trapping small game is an excellent source of daily meat and will not require extensive time spent on hunting or drying large game meat, so make sure that you have traps to lay out on game trails.

Fourth, dedicate some time to retrofitting your home to the standards that were in use before electricity, running water, and central heat and air conditioning came along. This means building an outhouse downhill in the direction your well water is flowing and far enough down that the bacteria will not enter the ground water that flows into the well. You will want large windows with screens to capture any breeze during the summer months and shutters to cover the windows in the winter months to preserve as much heat as possible. If possible, it would be ideal to have a windmill that can be used to charge a battery bank to provide power to convenience appliances and perhaps to power an exhaust fan that will keep your house cooler in the summer months. My philosophy is that if having one of a certain item is good having two is even better. Spare parts for your important machinery will pay for itself many times over. An enclosed wood-burning firebox will help you to use your firewood judiciously while still heating your home. Since propane is very inexpensive it would be a great idea to buy a very large propane tank and get it filled so you can add a nozzle to recharge cooking and lantern tanks for yourself and as a trade good. A root cellar is perfect for storing food and other temperature sensitive items in a cool location. Since you will need to have a steady supply of vegetables you might want to build a greenhouse to supplement your canned vegetables from your garden with fresh vegetables. It will also allow you grow other plants that may not be suited to your location. This will enable you to grow exotics that other people are unprepared to grow like tea, coffee, or cocoa, which will give you little tastes of luxuries that will dwindle quickly. Also, consider growing medicinal plants that can replace the current dependence on prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

These are some of the main points that you will need to consider in choosing and preparing your retreat. This is by no means a complete list of what will be needed but it is intended to get you thinking about more than just the stuff you will need to buy but how to create a place with as many comforts as can be provided with the limited resources that will be available. There are so many things that need to be prepared for a long-term survival situation you could write a book about it.

Several readers have written me to mention the trailer for the upcoming NBC (US television network) post grid-collapse TEOTWAWKI series: Revolution. ("After 15 years of darkness, an unlikely group sets out to save the world.") The four-minute trailer was interesting. Watching it felt like a count the memes and homages contest. Predictably, "militias" are made out to be the bad guys. There are far too many reminders of both S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire sci-fi novel series and the movie The Postman in the trailer for me to think that NBC's screen writers hadn't been influenced by them.

The editors of io9 describe the show:

"In this footage, a mysterious blackout knocks out the world's power grid and renders all of civilization's car batteries completely kaput. Some sort of über-electromagnetic pulse, perhaps? Anyway, the scenes then fast-forward 15 years. The globe has taken a turn for The Postman, but at least we have Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo Fring, Wasteland Warlord. NBC executives, you really should be calling this show Gustavo Fring: Wasteland Warlord, as I would panel every surface of my house with flat-screen televisions to watch that. (The title Revolution sort of evokes a new brand of antiperspirant or low-calorie carbonated limeade.) Quibbles with nomenclature aside, this could be fun, not unlike The Road [except] with no cannibals and more swashbuckling. "

And here's a synopsis from NBC's web site:

"Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working? Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, and communication is impossible. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why? Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it? On the fringes of small farming communities, danger lurks. And a young woman's life is dramatically changed when a local militia arrives and kills her father, who mysteriously – and unbeknownst to her – had something to do with the blackout. This brutal encounter sets her and two unlikely companions off on a daring coming-of-age journey to find answers about the past in the hopes of reclaiming the future."

Well, at least they got our dependency on electricity right.

So how would The Hollywood Reporter sum up this show? Perhaps: "Fifteen years in the future, Dies The Fire meets The Postman, gets Lost on The Road, engages in some Hunger Games short range archery and some Crouching Dragon swordplay." Bows and swords, are de rigueur you see, because combat up close and personal seems quasi-chivalrous and it has a higher quotient for drama than getting drilled through the chest at 300 meters. I assume that the scriptwriters will employ either the premise that cartridge ammunition has been expended or that 15 year old ammunition is no longer reliable. (For the record, I'm presently in the middle of a batch of .30-06 from the Lake City Arsenal, vintage 1942. Every round still goes bang, and it is still quite accurate.)

One thing is almost certain: With the combined effects of Revolution and The Hunger Games, there is bound to be a nationwide shortage of light draw-weight archery equipment before next Christmas, as nearly every teenage girl in the country sets aside her iBook and picks up a recurve bow.

According to the NBC network's official web site for the series, it will begin airing in the Fall Season of 2012, on Monday evenings at 10 p.m. ET/PT.)

I enjoy your blog and support you in a small way with the 10 Cent Challenge.  After reading your response to the Battery-Powered House Interior Lighting letter, I want to add some information that I learned at a FAA seminar that I attended.  The FAA is now endorsing blue or green lighting in the cockpit of all aircraft (general aviation and commercial).  The green and/or blue takes less energy output for the eyes to see details.  Also, red lighting can be seen from further away than blue/green (red is used to designate towers and tall buildings at night, where blue is used for taxiway lights because it stands out less at a distance).  I would strongly advise the use of controlled blue or green lights for interior lighting and keep the bulbs/LEDs out of direct line of sight of windows.  - Carl


I wanted to add a few tips.

We recently purchased a set of low-voltage,solar-powered LED string lights from a Target chain store.  They are similar to Christmas lights, but the bulbs are of various shapes/designs (we opted for a set that looked like little snow globes or disco balls.)

These lights don't have any sort of connector (12 VDC nor 110 VAC.)  Instead, they only have a small solar panel, that's [directly] attached to a sealed battery pack.

During our first camping/outing with the lights, we read the instructions, which said that they required five hours of full sunlight before they would be ready for use.  (We had arrived at our campsite about an hour before sunset, so we had no hope that they would work...)

Much to our surprise, they worked perfectly.  Initially, their light source seems pretty weak.  But, as the skies grow dark,and your eyes adjust, they actually begin to seem pretty bright.   We strung them above/around the opening of our tent, and they functioned like some sort of "street light" of sorts (making entry/exit of our tent safe & sure.

We attempted to sleep with the lights still on, to see how long they would last.  (A mistake.)   At 2 a.m., they were still so bright, that we were having trouble sleeping.  So, I turned them off.

The next day, we angled the solar panel to face the sun.  (The panel/battery has a clip,which we attached to an external tent pole on our dome-style tent.)  We then departed for the day (which turned out to be a windy day.)

When we returned,the little solar panel had spun on the pole (due to the winds,) and was now face-down in the tent (instead of facing the sunshine.)  We still had an hour of sunlight before sunset, so there was still hope...

After sunset, when we turned the lights on, they (again) worked like champs.  We wondered, though, if they would still hold-up as long as the night prior?...

About an hour later, as we were building our campfire, they died...  (We assumed they just didn't get enough sunlight, and we were regretting that they didn't have a 12-volt plug or alligator clips.)

Later, however, as the fire dimmed, the little lights sprung back to life!!!

Go figure -- they also have a built-in light sensor/switch.  They automatically turn off, when there is sufficient light (to save their battery.)   We had light from them all night (again.)

I have been disappointed by so many "solar yard/path lights" in the past.  I almost didn't buy these.  But, their LED functionality got the best of me -- and I'm so very glad that I bought them!

Granted, they are not "high beams."  These are essentially "super" night lights (or minimalist emergency lighting.)
They are enough light to "get the job done" -- and not much more.  But, they are kind of cute, too!
As outdoor lights, they are also water-resistant.  As low-voltage, they are also safe to the touch (even if/when wet.)

This essentially-free lighting was enough for 90% of our tasks in/around our tent and camp site.  Only a few times did we need to turn on a lantern, or flashlight for specialized tasks (like cutting in our kitchen area.)

On that note, this was also the first time we tried using one of the new LED-style Coleman lanterns.  We still brought our Coleman-fueled lanterns, as well as our propane lanterns along, too.  We are life-long campers,and Coleman-powered lamps just seem to be as natural as S'Mores over a camp fire.  But, the sensitive mantles, and glass lenses, plus the Coleman white-fuel cans, and the propane bottles, and the small funnels, and such add up to a lot of possible "points-of-failure."  I was pleasantly-surprised by the amount of zero effort light that our new battery-powered LED Coleman lanterns provided!

One of them was powered via a pack of four D-cell batteries.   The other had an integrated battery pack, which you could wall-charge (or hand-crank!!!)  I'm somewhat sorry to say, that our old-school lanterns will be moved to the bottom/back shelves of our garage now -- because we now favor the newer, lighter-weight, easier & safer to operate LED lanterns.

We have also purchased a roll-up solar panel to charge any/all of our batteries, too.

Granted, there isn't always a sunny sky.  But, one full charge of these little lights, seems to last for multiple nights.

We also bought a hand-crank handheld LED flashlight, too.  Again, it's not as powerful as our Mag-Lites. (I think someone on the Moon could see our Mag-Lites!)   But, they are much lighter and a quick crank of the handle for 30-60 seconds or so, provides us with hours of lighting.  (Whereas dead batteries in the Mag-Lites provides zero light.)

Peace & Preparedness, - J.H.

Another option that has worked well for me is the use of marine-type [low votage DC lighting in the house.

I have a LED chart light set up as a reading light on the back of the head board that I use day to day for my reading and as a bed side lamp. It is powered off of a deep cycle battery in a battery box under the bed. (Yes batteries make hydrogen gas while charging and anyone who is not a big boy and understands this should probably not do it.)

This combo will run many days without a charge and makes a great bed side light as well. One of these days I am going to run the numbers and see exactly how many hours this thing will run, but the battery is so ridiculously over-sized for this application I have not bothered yet. - S.D. in W.V.

Dear JWR:
The writer about traditional projectile weapons seems to have missed the most used feather for fletching arrows.  The best ever used that I am aware of is the turkey feather.
They are known to stop 12Ga. birdshot pretty successfully.  That is why turkey loads are more powerful, and contain larger shot sizes. Lesser pellets flatten out and fall off the bird.
Good fletching.  The American Indians then used a fiber (perhaps of hemp?)  to wind them to the shaft of the arrow, after splitting and shaping, of course. Not sure if there was any other kind of adhesive used at that point...wouldn't be surprised.  The American Indians (at least in my area)  used fairly low-power bows.  They used shafts of reeds for arrows, and this was made up for by using obsidian or flint arrowheads. We still can't make a blade sharper than a properly knapped piece of flint. Another skill to learn!  

Thanks for keeping all this going! - Sid C.

Several readers sent this: Merkel tells Greece to back cuts or face euro exit Here is a sobering quote: "What will prevail are armed gangs with Kalashnikovs and which one has the greatest number of Kalashnikovs will count … we will end up in civil war."

G.G. sent this: 49% of Americans saving zilch for retirement

Also from G.G.: 50-State Small Business Tax Friendliness Survey

Michael H. spotted this: California facing higher $16 billion shortfall.

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Close Down 1% on Bank, Europe Worries

Gold Drops to 4.5-month Low as Euro Sinks

Oil Falls as Greece, China Feed Economic Worry

S&P 500 Down for 4th Day of Five

Texas 11-year-old shoots back at home invasion robbers. (Thanks to Randy in Maine for the link.)

   o o o

My recent interview on The SGT Report video blog has now been archived.

   o o o

Prepper Central reviews the RIBZ Front Pack

   o o o

A recommmnended post, over at Modern Survival Online: Imagine for a Moment – The Reality of an EMP Event Part One

"It is not the goal of the Fed or the politicians to pump up the prices of real economic goods of any description. Since "inflation" is conventionally held to be rising prices of the essential goods which make or break real economies, the prices of these essential goods must be held down by any and all means. And foremost amongst these goods is anything that can or has been used as a medium of exchange in the past. Gold (and to a lesser but still considerable extent, Silver) are the curse of all interventionists. They are the alternative to the command economy and the eternal brake on the accumulation of the political power which those who command the economy lust after." - Bill Buckler, Gold This Week, April 7, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Our mid-year 25%-off sale on the SurvivalBlog Archive CD-ROM ends on May 31st. The latest six-year compilation includes as a bonus my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" in digital format. (In hard copy, that book sells for $28.) At the sale price, the CD-ROM is just $11.25 and the Digital Download is just $7.50. Be sure to order your copy before the sale ends.

Back in the day, when I lived in Chicago, I worked as a Private Investigator for a lot of years. I usually carried either my S&W Model 686 4" barrel revolver, or my Ruger Security Six 4" barrel revolver - both .357 Magnum guns, plus a couple spare speed loaders. I found that I could more easily conceal those big revolvers in shoulder holsters instead of belt holsters under my suit jacket. I also packed some kind of .38 Special snubby revolver in an ankle holster as a back-up. Unlike the police, I couldn't call for back-up if something went south, so having a back-up gun was reassuring, to say the least.
Whenever I worked late night stake-outs, I'd wear one of my big revolvers in a belt holster when I was in casual dress - it worked well for me. Still, concealing big revolvers was a challenge back then - in the 1970s and 1980s - we didn't have the great holster selections back then, that we have today, so we made due as best we could with what we had.
Today, I rarely wear a shoulder holster for some reason. I don't know why, I always found them comfortable - after a two-week break-in period - just like it is with most new holster - you're body has to get used to 'em. These days, I can usually be found wearing my main gun on some sort of belt holster and my back-up gun, still resides in an ankle holster.
I received a "shoulder" holster from Deep Conceal, LLC for test and evaluation, and to report my findings to SurvivalBlog readers. Now, the Deep Conceal carry holster isn't your typical shoulder holster, as I found out when I opened the brown envelope it was mailed to me in. I didn't think there was a holster of any sort in this mailing envelope. I was more than a little surprised when I found a neatly packaged concealed carry shoulder holster inside.
My Deep Concealed holster is a light-weight (to be sure) shoulder holster, but this isn't the type of shoulder holster that you wear on top of your clothing. Instead, it is worn under your dress shirt, or even under a loose-fitting T-shirt. The gun is carried comfortably under one arm, at slightly below chest level, and on the other side, there is room for spare mags - and you should always pack a spare magazine or two for any gun you carry. The shoulder straps and belly band straps (there are two for the belly) are made out of elastic for a very comfortable fit. Plus, the holster comes in either white or black, and in various sizes to fit you and various handguns.
My usual attire these days consists of a T-shirt, cargo pants and hiking shoes. I think the last time I wore a suit was when my oldest daughter graduated from college 10 or 11 years ago. Hey, what can I say? I live in the boonies, and most folks around here wear T-shirts and jeans - I like cargo pants - it's a very casual area when it comes to wearing whatever clothes you want. During the summer months, I wear an outer, button-down shirt (never buttoned) over my T-shirt, with my concealed handgun on my belt, covered by the buttoned-down shirt. I used to wear a photographer's vest, but it became well known that folks who wear those are packing heat, so I stopped wearing mine and switched to a button-down shirt in the summer months. In the cooler months, I, of course, wear a jacket to cover my handgun.
There are times, when I wish I didn't have to wear a button-down shirt over my T-shirt, enter the Deep Concealed Carry Holster. With a loose fitting T-shirt (mine are), I can wear this holster under my T-shirt, next to my skin (and it is comfortable and didn't chafe my skin), and no one would be the wiser that I was packing a handgun under my un-tucked T-shirt.
Now, one thing about the Deep Concealed Carry Holster is, you can't do a fast-draw from it. It's gonna either be under your shirt or under your T-shirt, and you can't get to the gun as rapidly as you'd like. Now, don't think this is necessarily a bad thing - if trouble is coming, you should always be at least, in Condition Yellow, and be prepared for it. So, you should have gun in-hand if at all possible. I've only had to pull my gun a few times when trouble presented itself, and every time, I didn't have to fast-draw my gun was already in-hand.  At one point in my life, I worked for an alarm company - on the day shift, I installed alarms. On the night shift, I answered alarms. Hundreds of times, there were verifiable break-ins, and we had to go into the buildings to see if someone was in there. Needless to say, I went in, gun in hand . Sometimes the Chicago PD officers would go in with me, other times, they said they would stay outside "to catch anyone coming out..." Yeah, right!!! So, my gun was already in my hand whenever I entered a building that was broken into. And, quite often, due to the nature of silent alarms, I caught burglars. I wouldn't go into one of those buildings with my gun still holstered. I knew there was possible trouble and hence I was prepared for it.
Many women carry their firearms off-body, my wife and oldest daughter included, and I think that is a big mistake. It's too easy to lay your purse down, forget it in the car or "whatever" and your firearm won't be nearby when you need it. The Deep Concealed Carry Holster is a great option for women - you can carry your handgun on your body, under a blouse or T-shirt, and no one would be none the wiser, that you were packing - neat idea. I know, there have been several similar holsters on the market, but the Deep Concealed Carry Holster is probably the best of the breed - especially when it comes to comfort.
You need to give any holster a good two-week wear time, for your body to get used to it. I've found, that even when I replace an older holster with a newer one, of the same make and model, I still need a break-in period of a couple weeks for the holster to become a better fit for my gun and against my body. And, so it is with the Deep Concealed Carry Holster - give it a try, and give it a fair two-week trial period, and you'll really enjoy it. I can usually be "caught" carrying one of my Glock 23 handguns these days, simply because I like the light-weight, total reliability, and the power of the .40 S&W round - I find it a great compromise for my needs, with a spare magazine. The test holster worked perfectly for my Glock 23. I don't think I'd care to carry a 6" barrel large-framed .44 Magnum in this holster, and it wasn't designed for this. This holster is designed for everyday carry guns that most people chose to carry - not big hunting handguns.
The price varies on the Deep Concealed line, depending on holster size and body size. But you can get them between $43.95 and $46.95 to fit many guns. Check out their web site for a complete listing of holsters for guns to fit you and your handgun. It's a good (deep concealed carry) holster - perfected!

James Wesley:
We have frequent power outages.  We bought a [deep cycle] marine battery from Bass Pro Shops that was intended use with a trolling motor.  We keep this battery continuously trickle-charged.   A small inverter from Radio Shack provides 120 VAC for three strings of white LED Christmas lights attached to the uppermost part of the most important wall.  A charged trolling motor battery will keep these efficient lights on for a very long time.  All we have to do is to plug the lights into the inverter socket. Very safe. - Anonymous

JWR Replies: It would be much more efficient to buy strings of DC LED Christmas lights. This is because going from DC to AC and back to DC is inefficient and adds an unnecessary layer of complexity. (You never know when an inverter will fail.) BTW, if you buy the LED strings in red and/or blue, then they will preserve your night vision when you step outside. (Blue seems to provide the most useful light for kitchen tasks and reading with minimal eye sstrain.) You can also build a fairly efficient dimming switch. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, adding a DC-to-DC charging tray for smaller batteries will prove invaluable.

Not to share my misery, but this is a warning to anyone that has items in a climate-controlled rental storage unit.  My unit was hit and no one knows when it and all the others were hit until one guy noticed some items missing and filed a police report.  The facility owners chopped off all the locks to all of their climate-controlled units and put their own locks on it.  Then they started calling the owners and verified what was in each unit.
Here is what happened: The robbers chopped the locks off, burglarized many items, and then placed their own locks on the doors, so that nobody knew that they had been burglarized. 

Since I was living overseas, I had thought that a gated community unit along with the cameras would be a safe way to store my materials.  I was told that their has been a rash of burglaries of these units, with several located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Obviously I was wrong and am at ground zero again.  Of course the law enforcement probably won't catch them.  I have all the serial numbers of all my weapons, which I will provide them.  I did have some insurance, but I will never again have the quality of guns that I had with that stash.
I really don't know what to do. An idiot would start over and do the same thing again. This is a quandary, since I plan to continue to be overseas for many more years. - Steve S.

Dear Jim,
In reference to the recently mentioned "housing bottom" article: Most of the articles we've read from the various real estate analysts say that housing prices haven't actually hit bottom yet because the peak of the adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) resets aren't done until January, though most are done by this August. Throw in financial inertia, as homeowners balk at their new mortgage rate in the face of their home having lost half its value in many cases due to the economy and the prior bubble, and we should expect a surge of foreclosures over the next 18 months. People will either walk away with jingle mail or they'll stop paying and live rent free while waiting for eviction and pay off their credit cards and student loans so bankruptcy is essentially painless when it happens. A hit on your credit rating is largely a non-issue for Cynics and Stoics who buy with cash in the first place. The turnover of evictions/foreclosures in the various neighborhoods surrounding cities that haven't hit bottom yet or are struggling through the Great Recession. Someone will buy that house, predicting an increase in value, not realizing that its a Free Market, and the more interest rates rise, the lower price people can pay for the house itself. This drives housing prices even lower, causing a new surge of foreclosures as the underwater mortgages stop making sense yet again. Rinse and repeat through another cycle of foreclosures and resales. This could go on for years before the true value of the house is actually reached.
Oh, and it gets worse. As wages continue to fall, and unemployment keeps rising, income available for a mortgage drops, meaning housing prices must keep falling till we hit the legal bottom limit for wages against food prices for all the family members relying on that one breadwinner. How does $19,000 sound for a nice 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom place in the San Francisco Bay Area suburbs? 20% discount for gold...
Best, - InyoKern

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
For all who are called to the American Redoubt: Secure your food and preserve your freedom of action!

If you don't have a place to grow your own healthy food, support those who do. Go in for shares. Help them every way you can. Growing all your own food now may not be economically viable, but secure sources of food are your lifeline in the future. Our goal should be not only to survive, but to thrive!

My brother and I were born and raised in the American Redoubt and grew up living the life of “preppers” and “survivalists” out of financial and environmental necessity. We did not realize our lifestyle was unusual until going off on scholarships to boarding school on the east coast and college in the south. In these uncertain times, we have come back home to our wild mountains, to make the preparations that need to be made. As our father, New Ordinance, says, “I want to turn the lights back on. As I see it, we are here not only to survive the approaching vicissitudes but to preserve the ‘arts of civilization’ and pass the torch to the next generation so that a new civilization can emerge from the detritus of the old to fulfill the original promise and destiny of America.” (From “The Secret Weapon,” Copyright © 2012 New Ordinance)

Speaking as a member of my generation, this is a daunting responsibility. How does one take that first step in the fabled journey of a thousand miles? Our family has begun with the foundation of all civilizations, a reliable food supply. “Food is the sine qua non of all weapons, for he who controls the food supply controls the fate of nations and individuals…. Come what may, a long-term food supply allows the development of the resistance and foments new strategies that are outside the control mechanism. We play our own game, not the adversary's game.” (From “The Secret Weapon,” Copyright © 2012 New Ordinance)

We have been engaged in small scale agriculture for a number of years, searching for crops and agricultural methods that can feed communities across the American Redoubt without a descent into subsistence farming and feudal agriculture. Corn is the easiest grain to cultivate and harvest by hand, easier by far than the cereal grains. Our family has discovered this from real, personal experience. In a world of increasing gluten intolerance and fatal health consequences, corn is also one of the best alternatives for gluten intolerant preppers, like myself and my father. But almost all strains of corn have been contaminated by the genetically engineered Franken-corn that dominates the bread-basket of America. All, that is, except Painted Mountain Corn. What is Painted Mountain Corn?

Simply put, it’s a corn that grows where no other corn can survive. Bred to withstand the harsh climate and short growing season of southwestern Montana, we’ve found that it’s the only corn that will grow and reliably produce at elevations above 5,000 feet in the northern Rocky Mountains. Bred from a variety of semi-extinct western Indian corns, Painted Mountain Corn represents a gene pool with 1,000 years of selection for reliable production in the arid and nutrient-poor soils of the western United States. It is high in anti-oxidants and soft starches and has been tested with protein as high as 13%, which is comparable to hard red winter wheat.

Painted Mountain Corn is GMO-free, open pollinated, and non-hybrid, so you can save your own seed. It is the life’s work of Dave Christensen and the Seed We Need project. Consider giving a donation to his work.

Our family discovered Painted Mountain Corn three years ago and realized that this is the perfect grain for small-scale, independent farmers in the American Redoubt. However, the seed is expensive and difficult to find, and the few seed companies who carry it have very limited supplies and sell out quickly. That is what led us to start growing our family’s crop for seed, and to begin what we call The Painted Mountain Corn Project.

The Painted Mountain Corn Project has two goals. First, to spread Painted Mountain Corn across the inter-mountain west. Second, to feed the American Redoubt.

Grow your own organic GMO-free corn as a basic component of your food storage program, an annual component of your daily food consumption plan and as a source of income in sharing the seed with your neighbors and your community.

Disclosure: We are a small family Painted Mountain Corn seed business, growing and selling the seed online and at gun shows across Montana. We have a small supply of Painted Mountain Corn seed still available for planting this spring. While we love and grow Painted Mountain Corn, we have no affiliation or endorsement from Dave Christensen or the Seed We Need project.

For more about our family and our experiences with small scale grain raising in the American Redoubt, visit our web site.

- Chief (A 23 year-old female physicist, farmer and writer)

Angela in Eastern Oregon's Stuffed Green Pepper Soup:
1 Lb ground Italian Sausage or 1 can LTS Ground Beef
8 Cups of Boiling Water
1 1/2 Cups White Rice
3 tbls dehydrated Onion Flakes
1 tbls dehydrated diced carrots
1/4 cup dehydrated Celery
1/2 cup dehydrated Green & Red Pepper Flakes
3 tbls Dehydrated tomato powder, add water until it has a paste consistency.
2 tbls Beef Bouillon
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
In skillet brown the Italian Sausage (breaking into bite sized pieces), some will want to drain of the excess grease but I do not as it is tasty and needed in the right situation. In a large stock pot bring your water to a good rolling boil.  Add the rice, onion, celery, carrot, green and red peppers along with the tomato powder that you have rehydrated. Let cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the Italian sausage, beef bullion, cayenne flakes and garlic powder. Continue to cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes.
I serve this with a good crusty bread and a bit of goat cheese for spreading.

Chef's Notes:
As a kid my grandma used to make stuffed green peppers and I have to admit they were not my favorite thing. Luckily our taste buds mature as we do and now it is a family favorite. Making the individual peppers is time consuming and some seem to go to waste. But when I make Stuffed Green Pepper Soup all that is left is a pot to scrub! Enjoy!

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Campfire Cooking

Backpacking Meal Recipes

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

SurvivalBlog's Pat Cascio sent this: After the Quake, Japanese Shop for Survival

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A reminder that another Self Reliance Expo will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 18-19, 2012. There will be more than 64 training classes, including a suturing class. (That one always has overflow attendance.) Karen Hood will be the keynote speaker. There are lots of interesting panel discussions including Women in Prepping -- a five woman panel. There will be a half dozen SurvivalBlog advertisers there including The Appleseed Project. SurvivalBlog's Central Rockies Regional Editor ("L.K.O.") will be attending.

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Geoff S. spotted this: Radioactive man? Milford resident pulled over by state police

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Some bad legislation: Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs to Introduce "Stop Shoot First Laws" Amendment

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Reader Lee M. suggested this: Power outage maps for all 50 states plus as many other countries as I can find

"My investing model is ABCD: Anything Bernanke Cannot Destroy: flashlight batteries, canned beans, bottled water, gold, a cabin in the mountains." - David Stockman, in a May, 2012 interview

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 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 decided to begin approaching the problem of surviving a possible collapse from the perspective of after it happened rather than before. And unless there is some extraordinary and unlikely event that sweeps this nation, one commodity that will certainly be depleted is firearm ammunition. There will be no running up to Wal-Mart or you local gunsmith shop to purchase more. Exotic and uncommon calibers will virtually disappear; whereas the more common will be in high demand. Trade and barter will eventually ensue to replenish to some extent expended rounds; but, that will come from an ever-diminishing original supply. With time, some remanufacturing may take place. Reloading from also lessening stocks of powder, primer, cases and slugs will occur.

So my K.I.S.S. mind-set led me to investigate the more original launched projectile weapon. The good old bow and arrow. After dusting off several old recurve bows I had buried in closet depths and locating some usable bowstrings for them, I turned my attention to a small cache of equally dated arrows I'd found stored with those bows. The shafts were still straight, even on the wooden ones. The nocks fine; albeit, the inexpensive target plastic ones were a bit brittle from having just dried out as the compounds used had lost their plasticizers due to slow evaporation. Worse, the plastic fletching had felt that same effect turning the feathers into crumbling stripes of color glued to the side of the shafts. Even some equally old aluminum shafted arrows with more flexible rubber fletching had fallen prey to the same issue. "When had I last used these?" was my question. Time passes - it had been over 25 years by my recollection.

Forgetting that I was thinking survival post-event, I ran up to my local sporting goods store and was amazed at the current prices for new arrows. I was even more surprised when I visited three of my local infamous Wal-Marts and found only one arrow in stock between them. Inquiring from a sales clerk what was up with that, I learned that "for some reason, we can't keep arrows in stock, they are sold out by the end of the day that they are put on the shelf". I guess I wasn't the only person who'd made the mental leap towards an alternative projectile in my area. Looking about the Internet, I found that the best volume price for a quick cheap wooden target arrow restock was through AllCourtSports.  At $138 delivered, not a bad deal. Almost immediate gratification, and the arrows arrived in good shape, were fairly true and shoot well.

But what about those old arrows laying about? In days to come, my new arrows were surely going to suffer the same fate as those. Add in breakage, loss and deformation, I quickly realized I'd better check out the old skills of making them; or at least, remaking them. So, along with some 17,000 other folks, I watched some videos on YouTube seeing the 'from scratch' art of manufacturing primitive arrows. Some 30 or so videos burned into my eyes later, I'd gleaned the basics. You need a shaft that is straight (or you are able to straighten it), you need a nock cut or fastened onto one end, a point or arrowhead on the other, if you're feeling especially aesthetic you can add your own distinctive 'cresting' - bands of color or paint in general and last, you need to fletch it.

Virtually all arrows I know of only have 3 feathers or vanes. The one perpendicularly mounted to the nock cut/slot called the cock feather and the other two called the shaft feathers mounted around the shaft at 120 degree intervals of the circle. What could be simpler? Just slice and sand off the old fletching and re-glue some new feathers! And after watching the videos, I'd seen just how 'simple' it was to take a feather found or acquired in some manner, slice it along the main vein, trim, glue and tie it onto the shaft. Did I hear, "yeah, right"? Well whoever you are, you've been to this point and know that those fellows are adepts and quite good at what they are doing. The small matter of practical experience and an intimate knowledge with feathers, hoof glues and the patience of Job.

Needless to say, my initial experiments went a bit to the S portion of SHTF. I quickly learned that all feathers are not created equal. Some feathers slice fairly well along the quill/calamus - some don't, some feathers have a disturbing tendency to lose their barbs and vanes just falling apart, and all natural feathers have this real exasperating quality of attracting any glue within 20' and turning that neatly cut and sized portion of a feather into a glob of plumaceous mess. Did I mention patience? And let's not even go into the need for having three exactly shaped and weighted feathers. Just suffice it to say, that is a 'must'.

Quickly deciding that hoof glue was not for me, I upgraded my technique to using modern adhesives. I found the best one to be Loctite Stik' n Seal Outdoor/Exteriores for Metal, Ceramic, Wood, Glass, Rubber, Leather, Manmade & Plastics.  pn.@ upc - o 79340 23782 7, component IDH# 1415813. It has exactly the qualities I'd found I wanted. A fairly quick 5 minutes provided a good gripping tack set to where the new feather/vane will not fall off. Yet, you can still reposition it for over an hour. That same repositioning is crucial to get the 120 degree angle as close to correct as can be between the the three feathers. It, the sealant allows you to bend the bond, yet hold the feather without coming off the shaft to achieve a feather true perpendicular to the axis of the shaft installation. It can be easily applied in the exact stream/extruded size you need to follow the glue side of the feather along the quill and doesn't flow hardly at all once the vane/feather is stuck to the shaft. Finally, the adhesive works equally well with wood, plastic, aluminum and yes - real feathers.

After trying over a dozen caulks, glues, epoxies - all I can say is a 'Thanks' to Mr. Loctite. One small tube is enough for over 50 complete re-fletches. And the biggest benefit I hate to admit, is that if you forget to recap the tube between feathers - the tube doesn't harden. Only a tiny bit at the opening skins over with extremely little loss of adhesive.

The material for the feathers, once I'd made the mental shift from solely 'found in nature' materials in my mind, was the next big decision. After trying feathers found from my local bird population ranging from crows (not too bad actually those), to doves, blue-jays (I really like the color, but splitting them is almost impossible), woodpeckers, cranes, herons, vultures (probably the best natural feather I tried - but those fellows aren't real sociable and their feathers if found are pretty ragged), blackbirds, orioles and even some ducks that have given up on the concept of migration that live around my home year-round; finally I had to come to the realization that feathers are just inferior to manmade materials in terms of uniformity, workability and durability. So I started seeking the best material that I could find that was common and either free or inexpensive.

After carefully removing a couple of remaining still intact plastic/rubber feathers from a couple of my surviving arrows cache I created a template onto a bit of poster board for tracing to any material I decided on. The uniformity issue was now solved. But what material? I needed something thin, weatherproof, easy to shape, flat, pliable enough to bend slightly in an instant as the arrow passed by the bow's arrow rest and recover/return to its needed shape for straight flight. Obviously any paper product wouldn't suffice. Nor would splints of wood, metal or any other hard material. I was beginning to see why feathers had been used for millennia, only to be supplanted by modern plastics once invented. Having already had my share of fun and games with the local avian population offerings, I looked to plastic.

Plastic seems to come in the thickness required by me in either too stiff or too soft of qualities. I tried many. From packaging materials such as vacuum box/wrap used for electronics to containers such as detergent bottles and jugs. None were quite right. Too heavy, too rigid, a tendency to deform or take on a bend that wouldn't be convinced to uncurl. About to give up and while preparing some carrots at dinner time one evening during this experimental period, I looked down at the plastic cutting mat/counter protector I was using at the time. You've undoubtedly at least seen one of these. Approximately 12" x 18" plastic sheets that do not let a knife cut through them easily and perfect for a quick cutting surface on top of you kitchen counter. They are sold in packages of 2 to 10. Not a one-use disposable item; rather, a longer term usage item that usually lasts around 2-3 months or so before you finally score through the plastic during use. Cheap, available anywhere - and best, I had some. They are just the right thickness; however, the issue with as the feathers brush by the bow' arrow rest still remained. A small, minor deflection that was unpredictable and unoffsetable kept happening when I tried the material. New material, that is. About a week later, once again chopping up some onions on an older plastic cutting sheet, I noticed it was time at last to replace the 6 month plus old mat I was using (my apologies Julia Child, but I hate to cook and don't wear out my utensils very fast). I saw a small slice hole had gone through. As I went to the cupboard to get a new mat out of a package there and about to toss out the old mat into the recycle bin - the thought 'recycle' just set off the bells of innovation.

I don't know if anyone has ever really noticed that as a one of those cutting mats get used, etched, marred and worn, they get softer, more pliable, more bendable. So much so that they can easily break along the scored lines. Just like the vanes on a bird's feather do. The only real difference is that nature provides the microscopic barbs that allow the feather to reassemble/rehook-up to a usable flying mechanism. But, the etches and scratches in the plastic mat after being well-used create the closest material I've found that mimics the natural feather. It is just the right 'softness', has the ability to bend in a small wave/curve and recover its original flatness.

The pass-by the arrow rest issue was solved when I tested this worn plastic on an arrow shaft. I found that by selecting material from the area of the mat that had been most used, I'd discovered a free, previously thrown out material that makes for a perfect fletching substitute for natural feathers. All that remained was to cut out some 39 feathers for the 13 shafts I had saved, glue them on and carefully position them, mark/color the cock feather red with a permanent marker and find that I now had the means and method to easily replace the fletching on my old wood and aluminum arrow shafts. It takes about 5 minutes per feather - apply glue to the quill, place the cock feather, wait 5, apply the first shaft feather, wait 5, apply the final shaft feather - rotating the shaft so that each feather is upright at the time of its installation.

I'd say that the one question some friends of mine have asked most was just how did I get the 120 angle right? And without using some elaborate geometric protractor method or something like that?

Whether you remove the old remaining fletching or are starting fresh with a new shaft, the first step is to either re-nock or observe the nock on the shaft. We all know that the nock slips over the bowstring. The cock feather is always the first feather to be repositioned on the shaft. Exactly perpendicular to the nock cut-out. Okay, now how to know where to place the shaft feathers? Especially if the original line of the cleaned-off feathers is missing or on a new shaft has never there at all? The answer is in the nock. Literally. The nock bisects the diameter of the shaft. But it is not a perfect diameter line. It has a width. That width is just slightly more at the bottom of the cut - the bottom of the 'U'. That 'U', the side of that 'U' (there is a reason I keep writing the capital letter) on the side away from the cock feather, due to the diameter of the shaft, the size and proportion of the needed bowstring cut-out size is almost exactly 120 degrees 'around the circle. All a person has to do is draw a pencil line using the 'U' side mentioned to the arrow shaft and that is the point where the nock-most rear of the vane/feather line starts. Keeping the shaft feathers parallel to the first applied cock feather will ensure that the you form the perfect 3 vane triangular arrangement you need. No math, no drafting tools - nothing more that a tiny pencil line or knife score/nick. And as I mentioned above when discussing the adhesive, any minor resetting or nudging can come after the initial first tack.

I found that it is best to create some jig to hold the arrow shaft in place, to keep it from rolling while allowing for the feathers to not touch the work surface below. All feathers/vanes are mounted/glued so that they are standing straight up along the glue line. Glue is best applied to the feather quill, not the arrow shaft. The scratches and etches in the plastic also allow for minor bending and adjustment to the feather during adhesion to the shaft.

All in all, once I figured out the process and the materials, the actual job of re-fletching the arrows worked out to about 30 minutes apiece start to a finished product. A good way to spend some time just rediscovering that our ancestors were far more patient and noticed a lot more than I did at first.

I am a deputy sheriff in Louisiana and patrol primarily on the night shift. A few nights ago my shift was alerted that the main city in our parish was under a complete "black out", meaning a total loss of ALL electricity. The reason for the blackout was unknown but the repercussions were great. The power stayed out for a mere hour and a half, but that was all it took to cause  chaos all throughout the city. In this hour and a half multiple shootings occurred, multiple wrecks occurred on the highways and city streets, and multiple stores and businesses were broken into and looted due to security systems malfunctioning. All within that small hour and a half. It really shows how fragile the order in our cities hangs in the balance. People who would probably have been watching television or engaging in other peaceful activities, were gathering in the streets starting fights. All because the lights and tv turned off. Wow. Only a handful of people had nothing to worry about because they were prepared with a few necessities such as: flashlights, food, water, protection (I.e.  Rifle, handgun, or shotgun). 

I am writing this to remind you of the importance of being prepared for a "lights out" situation like this. This type of thing happens all the time and can happen in your area  anytime. These are some minimum guidelines for what you need on hand in a two to three week blackout scenario. It doesn't matter how much food and water you have if you can't see it. It doesn't matter how many guns and and ammo you have if you can't see to shoot them. And it certainly doesn't matter how many great flashlights, lamps, and lanterns you have if you don't have food, water, and defense because looters can walk  straight into your home and take anything and everything they please (including your life)!

I will be so bold as to say if the blackout had continued throughout the night it would have escalated into an all-out riot. You might say "no way! Not in America! This isn't Europe!". Yes, in America, small town America. People have become so dependent on electricity and have been brainwashed into a "welfare mentality" meaning everything is somehow " owed" to them to the point that when something breaks their cycle, I.e. a "blackout" they will do anything necessary to "get (by force)" what they want. More commonly known as "looting". You will start to see this type of thing happening more and more in the near future because history always repeats itself. Look what happened in New Orleans, Louisiana  after Hurricane Katrina. A large storm causes long term power loss and flooding. And because no one stocks more than a day or two worth of food what do they do? They take what they want; by killing, looting, and plundering. Civil neighborhoods turned into all out war zones! Very few people were prepared for what occurred. It was several days until order was semi restored and weeks until it was fully restored. This is very close to home, and it could happen to you at any moment! Don't be a pacifist. Understand me when I tell you this is the real deal.

  As a well informed survival minded individual there are a few things you should have prepared for the event of a " Total blackout".

1) Light:

I recommend  having a couple different forms of light on hand for such a situation.

A) Low light.

If living in a well populated area you don't want to bring attention to your house. So you will want to keep a lantern ( oil, kerosene, or battery powered) or candles to be able to move freely within your dwelling without being spotted easily. A low light can be spotted short at short range but with draw much less attention then a generator lighting the whole house. While a generator can be very useful, using it can mark you as a target for looters. I personally like "crank" lanterns that you simply crank to recharge. Oil and kerosene lamps burn long hours on small amounts of fuel and are highly efficient. Also keep two or three small headlights on hand, they make lots of things much easier when your hands are free.  

B) High intensity light

I recommend a high powered light small enough to be easily handheld in order to use with a handgun. LED lights use very little battery while providing a very bright beam. My personal favorite is the Streamlight \Strion (rechargeable AC or DC voltage). It lasts up to eight hours and is highly dependable. It can be fixed to a  rifle, shotgun, or used free with a handgun. A very bright light is highly useful in a tactical situation. A concentrated beam will blind attackers momentarily and provide a easily followed field of vision allowing for faster target acquisition. Don't go without this! If you can't identify your target then you may end up shooting your neighbor. There are multiple lights similar to the Streamlight Strion on the market ranging from forty to one hundred dollars that are just as capable. 

 C) Batteries

If using battery powered light keep enough batteries on hand to run them for two weeks. Rechargeable batteries will save you money in the long run, but are highly expensive.  Although you can use an DC car charger to charge them in your vehicle. I would suggest having several "shake" flashlights on hand. They last a good length of time off of two minutes of shaking.

2) A one month supply of food.

While I personally advise several months supply,  but you should have at least a months supply for a blackout situation. I recommend easily stored, long lasting foods such as MRE's and canned goods for your months supply. Try to keep some of your supply in easily transportable containers in case there is a need to bug out with little or no time to pack. There is a few tricks to keeping food in your freezer good for a few days. Put several bottles of water in your freezer filled not quite to the brim. These will freeze  keeping most of your food in the "safe zone" for  two to three days.

3) A large supply of water.

Water can be easily stored in 5 gallon bottles lining your garage or basement. Between cooking and drinking I would  have no less than twenty,  five gallon bottles. I also highly recommend having  some sort of water filtration system for when your supply dwindles to supply you water from natural sources .

4) Home defense.

    A) firearms

I recommend a pump 12 gauge shotgun, two .40 caliber handguns, And an assault rifle, which will be highly useful in many situations including the event of "bugging out". I would stress the need for regular practice with your home defense firearms. You need to be proficient with each one. Under pressure you are only as good as your training! "Practice makes perfect" rings very true when it comes to this. Take any "home defense" courses possible. A shotgun in skilled hands is one of the most effective weapons in home defense. A handgun will be very useful as a secondary weapon. And a high capacity assault rifle ( Such as an AK-47, AR-15, or Mini-14) will save your life in a firefight. You don't want to be out-gunned!

    B)  Ammunition.

I recommend 00 buckshot for 12 gauge, and hollow point ammunition for handguns. With a minimum of three magazines, and 500 rounds per firearm. Remember, this is merely the minimum of what you should have. I would recommend 5,000 per firearm and ten magazines for each as a for more adequate supply . Keep your ammo in a dry place in airtight containers where it is easily accessible.

    C)  A plan. 

When looters come pounding on your door you can call 9-11,  but don't expect a quick response if any due to the high call volume. Block doors and windows with heavy furniture or appliances, but keep in mind you need a quick escape route, I.e. a window or side door. Have Bug Out Bags ready for the event of riots or fire. Have at least $250 cash in hand,  seeing that credit or debit cards will get you nothing with the power off.  

Lastly, keep in mind that roads may be blocked, so use a vehicle that can drive off road if needed in the event of a bug out (SUV or Truck). Map several routes out of the city. I recommend using GPS as long as the system is working. This will make detours much more effective when roads are impassible. Have a destination pre-planned that is not in the city. A friend or relative in the country is ideal if you don't have a preplanned bug out destination. 

These are some rough guidelines that may help you be more prepared for a blackout situation. Keep in mind that ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and thunderstorms can potentially cause this scenario. Don't be naive, be prepared!

Note: this is targeting people who live in urban areas, as country people tend to have most of the things on my list in stock and are used to power outages. These are minimal guidelines for mere survival, I would strongly suggest more food, water, and defense (guns and ammo) than listed. Good luck!

JWR Adds: Be sure to see the many articles in the SurvivalBlog archives that discuss tritium sights and light amplification ("starlight") night vision equipment.

Dear Mr Rawles,
I've been reading your archives. I loved the December, 2011 SurvivalBlog article titled Barter, Post-TEOTWAWKI: The Micro Store. This one is a natural for me.  One way that I have been collecting barterable items is at yard/garage/estate sales.  Estate sales in particular are excellent for the micro store collection.  You hit the kitchen area and get current food items for your own stores and then the bathroom for bandages and sample size items such as soap, shampoo, shaving gel, toothpaste and so forth.  I’m not talking about items used but items never opened; I have even found various supplements also never opened.  I told my sister the nurse that if TSHTF I have a small hospital for her.  Leg brace boots are also really very cheap and can come in very handy.  

One item I have seen a ton of is sewing supply; I am partial to those heavy duty needle packs that are bound to come in handy for patching up heavier gear, am looking for upholstery thread that would go well with those kits, or dental floss can used if needed.  As far as cigarettes, I can get those at half the cost from Indian tribe stores, I have placed individual packs in Seal-a-Meal bags and vacuum packed them and placed them in the freezer, also did that with cigars I picked up at a yard sale.  I don’t smoke but know that if a smoker is desperate enough, anything will do 

Another item that I think is very handy are those small pouches of seasonings, they have become quite expensive at a grocery store, up to $1.89 each. At estate and garage sales I pay a quarter or less for them. If you have potatoes, pasta or rice, one packet of flavoring will go a long way.  I do plan to get some of those little bottles of liquor that are sold on air flights, those are an excellent idea.  Going on to the garage area is great for fishing gear and tools.  I have come home with prepper items along with a few collectibles to sell on eBay.  The profit from what I sell on eBay covers the cost of my prepper item purchases. 

I was curious however, about my plan to move from Washington to Idaho. When I do find a small town to live in, wouldn’t those people already be prepper-minded thus making a micro store a moot point?  Just wondering.  My husband said we could just set up shop to an area that was not prepper-minded and sell/barter there.

Keep up this wonderful work and call me, - Prepper on the cheap.
JWR Replies: Don't worry about the lack of a barter market in a region with more predominant preparedness and self-sufficiency. Even there, you will find plenty of people that are not well prepared, or those who have overlooked some items that they will need. The sure bets will be expendable items like soap, tape, detergent, lubricants (especially two-stroke fuel-mixing oil), common caliber ammunition, salt, seeds, various liquid fuels, adhesives, batteries, flat earth tone camouflaging paints, and so forth.

More about vertical gardens.

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Reader Rhonda T. mentioned an interactive map on privileges for homosexuals.  Why is this appropriate to mention in SurvivalBlog? She explains: "Since this topic is often inversely related to a state's depth of religious conviction, its also a good (if inverse) indicator of conservative states--which might help someone in their relocation decision.  You know, us 'God and Guns' folks". JWR's Comment: Once again, the American Redoubt states had a good showing, but it is clear that Oregon and Washington have succumbed to California-style political correctness.

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Perhaps we were wise to move our server to Sweden: The FBI took -- and mysteriously returned -- their server. Here's their story . (Thanks to Karen D. for the link.)

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Veteran SurvivalBlog contributor K.A.F. sent us this: Washington state health officials declare whooping cough epidemic, seek CDC help as cases soar

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The Southern Agrarian has a review of the Bison hand pump. There is also a post showing the installation of the pump in tandem with a submersible electric pump.

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - President Theodore Roosevelt, San Francisco, California , May 13, 1903

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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 FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 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.

For most preppers, the action plan for a TEOTWAWKI scenario can be neatly categorized into basically one of two categories:  Bug in or Bug out.  Many people live in rural areas with sufficient security and provisions to be able to go to ground in the event of a disaster and ride out the storm.  “Sufficient” security might include bunkers, shooters, stockpiles of ammunition and weapons, spare parts, etc.  “Sufficient” provisions might be enough food to get the defense force and extended family of the principal through to the harvest, and enough seeds to ensure that the harvest will feed the crew indefinitely.  For many rural preppers, this scenario is an attainable goal.  For many urban preppers, however, this goal could never be realistically accomplished.  For that reason, we have to consider the possibility of bugging out.
There are some relatively standard considerations that almost anybody with a functional brain housing group would think through prior to bugging out.  Where am I going to get fuel?  What type of vehicle do I need?  How much food and water should I be taking with me?  Where am I going?  These are the basics of bugging out, and many of the conversations I see around the topic within the forums are geared towards that end.  These are great considerations, and they need to be considered as a bare minimum before attempting a bug out.  But, having experienced moving through combat zones for most of my adult life, I’d like to offer some other considerations that may not be so obvious.

As a caveat, these considerations are based upon several assumptions.  First, we are assuming that the power grid is down.  Second, we are assuming that the domestic security situation has degraded to the point that the police are no longer capable of providing safety and order (if they ever were capable to begin with).  Therefore, based upon those two assumptions, we have to further assume that traveling is a very dangerous activity.  People will be looking for targets of opportunity for any chance of finding food, water, or supplies. 
Here are some not-so-obvious considerations for bugging out based upon those assumptions:
What are my primary and alternate routes going to look like?  Yes, I said “alternate route.”  While it may be expedient to travel along paved roads to arrive at your bug out location, it may not be realistic.  There are several reasons why traveling along paved roads may not be the best idea you’ve ever had (remembering that we are assuming the security situation has degraded significantly):

  1. Paved roads are highly visible.  Traveling along paved roads will draw attention, particularly in a scenario where practically all vehicular traffic has ceased because of fuel shortages and security concerns.  Doing so may expose you to bands of roving thieves and other not-so-friendly types. 
  2. Bridges and overpasses make excellent choke points.  This means there is only one direction that you can travel, and it also means that you are in an extremely weak position to defend against a well-planned ambush.  It’s worth saying that if I weren’t a prepper who was working towards building supplies for my family, and the apocalyptic disaster happened upon me, I would probably use this method to feed my family.  A good ambush can be executed with a few well-placed individuals given the correct terrain.  An overpass or a bridge is the correct terrain.  It’s best just to avoid them.
  3. Roads may be impassable.  Think about a scenario where traffic was so bad that sat in their cars for days and didn’t move.  Many would eventually just leave the cars in the middle of the road and head home.  Remember, we’re talking about an urban situation here.  You might not even be able to fit your bug out vehicle down those roads. 
  4. Some people are capable of making shots at 500+ meters.  If you were driving down the side of a major highway, your enemies would be able to see you from far enough away that you would never hear the bullet that killed you.  There is relatively little cover and concealment on highways. (Obviously it is hard to drive through cover and concealment.) 

Since your primary route was probably a highway, I’d like to challenge you to come up with an alternate plan.  Let’s try it on foot this time, through the woods if possible, or at a bare minimum through back streets where ambushes would be less likely.  If you’re a smart cookie, as many of you are, the thought of reaching your bug out location on foot will immediately trigger several other considerations.  Here’s a small list of things to think about:

  1. How will I navigate?  Since we are assuming the power grid is down, you probably won’t have a charge on your fancy little GPS system (if the satellites are still functional).  You’re going to need a good, old-fashioned map and compass to get where you’re going.  Do you know how use land navigation techniques?  You’d better start thinking about taking a class. 
  2. How much food and water can you carry on your person?  This might necessitate changing your overall bug out location. 
  3. How good is the cover and concealment along your alternate route?  Will it provide sufficient concealment for your needs, or do you need to augment your concealment through camouflage clothing?  What type of camouflage is most effective in your environment?
  4. How much private property are you going to need to cross to arrive at your location?  Can you detour through a publicly owned National forest or other location where you are less likely to run into the security forces of other private citizens?  Remember, trespassing during a major disaster might get you shot repeatedly.

Where are my en-route safe havens?  “What the heck is a safe haven?” you may be asking.  Think Custer’s Last Stand.  Where are you going to go when the stuff hits the fan right in the middle of your trip to the bug out location? 
For obvious reasons, I recommend having as many safe havens built into your route as possible.  One safe haven for every mile or two would be ideal.  They need to be thoroughly discussed, known by all members of the travel party, and visibly marked on all of the maps (of which everyone should have a copy).  A good safe haven will offer limited entry access, ballistic protection, cover, and concealment.  Concrete buildings work great.  Bathrooms within concrete buildings work even better (there is only one door in, the doors can typically be locked from the inside, and they are usually made out of concrete).  In a pinch, a thick grove of trees can serve as a great safe haven as it offers the bare minimum of ballistic protection, cover, and concealment.  You get the idea.  Here are a few additional things to consider about safe havens:

  1. Public buildings such as fire stations and park buildings are less likely to be defended by gun-toting militia members.  You might even run into a friendly fireman who has medical knowledge if you’re lucky, but most likely all government operations will have ceased by this point.  If you choose to utilize someone else’s property for a safe haven, you need to be prepared to fight for it.  This might not be the best idea, considering you might be getting chased at the time.  Even Hitler couldn’t win a two front war.  Think about it.
  2. You need a running password.  In the event that your group is split up, everyone will have directions to rendezvous at the closest safe haven.  The first person to arrive will secure the location and wait.  If other members of the group are inbound in a hurry, they need to have some way to communicate that they are secure and not under duress.  I suggest sign/countersign.  It can be as simple as a number combination.  For instance, let’s say our number combination was seven.   I might challenge the runner with the number “Four.”  The runner would reply with a verbal “Three” and, since those two numbers add up to seven, I would know that all is well and not feel compelled to shoot my friend.
  3. Ideally, a safe haven would not be too far off of your route.  It’s best if they lie along your route so that everyone knows where they are and how to get there.  The fewer the barriers between your route and your safe haven, the more quickly you can travel there when SHTF.  For instance, a river between your route and your safe haven could be disastrous. 

Do I need geocaches of critical supplies?  Since we’re now on foot, we obviously can’t carry as much as we would like.  We might need extra food, supplies, medical kits, ammunition, and more.  Since we can’t reasonably carry them with us, we have no choice to but to store them along our route.  I suggest planning en-route waypoints where critical resupply caches can be pre-positioned.  I would bury them if at all possible, on uncontested land (like somewhere deep within a national forest).  Mark them on your map, and then build the waypoints into your route.  If you get there and don’t need the supplies, leave them alone.  You never know when you might come back through. 

Obviously, you would need to develop some way of storing your cache in such a way that your supplies would not be ruined.  You have to keep it dry and serviceable despite weather and potentially having been buries for a long time.  Also, you need to think of a way to mark the cache so that it’s obvious to you but won’t cause cousin Earl from the local farm to dig up your supplies out of curiosity. 
As a general rule, I recommend one geo cache for each day of foot travel required to reach your bug out location.  Of course, many people will label me paranoid and crazy for even suggesting the practice, but then I guess I am a bit batty. 

I hope this article has helped someone think of a few extra considerations about bugging out that might save their life if TEOTWAWKI ever actually happens.  As always, any prepping is better than no prepping, so take it one step at a time and do it over time as you become able.  You’ll never regret being prepared. 

It is very regrettable that more often than not, those who prepare for surviving the future are viewed by society as being isolationist, separatists, and downright anti-social. Sure, this can be blamed on the media, propaganda, and perhaps a few loose cannons out there, but it's also in part because many "preppers" do fall prey to a fearful "bunker" mindset. Sometimes even removing themselves from society at large. I wonder if more people would see the value of advanced preparation if they witnessed more preppers offering positive contributions to the general welfare of others in their community, state, and nation? Certainly many are providing such benefits to the communities in which they live, but could we do better...?

For our family, getting started with such changes necessitated a change of thinking. We had to first see that the value in getting more involved with people when a more fearful response seems appropriate at a times. We've had to learn to ignore the knee-jerk, fearful, run-and-hide reactions in favor of a more sound-minded approach. So setting aside fear, we've come to some conclusions that we believe would be beneficial to every family in every community. Like most wisdom we've learned, our journey into this understanding began with the words of wisdom found in the Scriptures. If you're not a person of faith, please don't stop reading - this is for you too!

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:12

King Solomon, the attributed author of the above scripture verse, was reputed to to be the wisest person to ever live. In his profound wisdom, Solomon understood the simple truth that there is great advantage to doing things together.

We live during a time when such wisdom appears to be on the decline. Along with what should be common sense - advance preparation for the unexpected - many in our communities have also lost touch with the value that achieving together is better than failing alone. This wrong thinking can often infiltrate even the most prepared survivalist mind. It's easy to think of every possible tool, supply, or scenario, and so easily forget this concept. 

Many Americans pride themselves on a rugged individualism. Certainly it's good for an individual to be personally prepared and equipped to endure difficult times and challenges. There are times when such individualism is appropriate. However, there are also times when this is not at all appropriate. If I'm lost in the woods, being rugged, prepared and self-reliant is good. I need those to take care of myself. However, if my wife or children were to be lost in the woods with me, I must lay aside my individualism to a degree in order to provide the best possible outcome for them as well. Caring only about myself isn't going to profit them very much.

It's often said that the survivalist is the eternal optimist. This is said because it is the survivalist who plans for and expects to prevail in future difficult times. Yet despite such optimism, one of the chief challenges of the survivalist's preparations is the understanding that such preparations take quite a bit of time, energy, and resources. 

Enter Solomon's wisdom. 

We must be like Solomon (Ecclesiastes 3) and understand that with different seasons in life comes the need to adapt, change, and set aside some of our natural tendencies. Though not without it's own challenges, we've discovered that nearly every part of preparing our minds, body, and shelters for the future is easier and more rewarding when done with other like-minded families or individuals.

Nearly every part of preparing to thrive and survive in the future is far more achievable when endeavored together with trustworthy friends, family, and neighbors.  As Solomon so aptly puts it... "One may be overpowered" - that is, one person and one family can indeed be prepared for the future, but unfortunately, they can also be easily overpowered. Consider for a moment the well-prepared family seeking to stave off masses of hungry, frantic, and unprepared people. This would be difficult alone and could result in loss, injury or death. 

It's easy to see the value of being with others in the midst of an emergency, but consider for a moment the value of working with others before -  to prepare for an emergency.  Left to our own person or family, we'll offer experience lack - lack of finances, time, energy, resources, attitude, or ideas. While more people doesn't always mean less lack, there's a better-than-average chance that more people to help will help, not hurt.. We lose jobs, get sick, get busy, and lose heart. Sometimes, even getting started in preparing is overwhelming. How is it then that we can hope to survive in future bleak times? These and many other reasons should cause is to consider the wisdom and benefits of preparing for the future together with others.

In our own experience, we're finding it quite enriching to engage other like-minded families in our plans to prepare for an uncertain future. This not only holds hope for future benefit, but makes life quite a bit more enjoyable today as well! Every day brings with it new ideas, extra help, and new motivation. Each new challenge is met with access to more resources, knowledge, and information.  It's a great joy to discover that a friend already owns a needed resource, or is willing to lend a hand with some heavy lifting. Perhaps best of all has been the camaraderie in this often-lonely journey. Not only are our own plans for the future becoming more solid and well-defined, but each person in our family is becoming personally fortified by the formation of meaningful and enduring relationships - from the youngest to the oldest. There's a deep sense of satisfaction and strength in working with others. Every passing day we grow more and more confident that we can accomplish what we've set out to do. 

This is also helpful on many other levels. We're benefiting from the diversity of personalities, the sharing of ideas, and the value of fellowship. We're also resting easier with the expectation that we'll endure future hardships together with others we can count on. We're no longer "Surv I valists",  but "Survival US ts" and man, is there a difference! When hard times come, we're not likely to be overpowered no matter if those hard times be an enemy, fatigue, tragedy, or even our own attitude. Whatever comes our way, we'll not be quickly broken. Our defense is stronger!

It's especially interesting that Solomon notes that a cord of three strands cannot be quickly broken. Many would assume that Solomon is implying three braided or twisted strands. Three individual strands would certainly be stronger than one, however, three braided strands would usually offer even more strength. To do this, there needs to be some involvement or "braiding" of the strands. For our family, this translates into us spending as much time and energy on these relationships as we do in readiness preparation. We get together, we get to know one another better. We are trusting our lives and future with one another. Why? Because these relationships - and all our relationships ARE the future. Why do we hope to survive future hardship if not to enjoy the world that we'll eventually live in? These relationships are the purpose that we want to endure beyond the next disaster or calamity. We hope for a safe and abundant future for ourselves and our loved ones on the other side of the whatever calamity might come upon us. No, this isn't what most sheeple think of when they hear "survivalists", but it's our view that survivalists do what they do because  people matter and are worth the effort.

We've often discovered that getting others involved with us is hard at times. You know, braided rope is usually stronger than twisted rope for one reason - friction. Braiding usually creates the most friction between each strand in a rope and this friction  adds additional strength. So it can be in relationships! Honestly, the more we get to know others,  the more we encounter relational "friction". Like many, sometimes this causes us to not desire the help of others. Ahhhhh... we must remember Solomon's advice. Friction between people  is a natural and normal part of functioning as a team. So we don't lose heart. We solidify in our minds these truths. We resolve to embrace friction, because it's our differences, not our similarities that give us strength. After all, if two of us are the same, one of us is unnecessary. We continue to find that it's not the people that are just like us that provide the best opportunity for working together, but those we didn't expect. Remember this as you venture onward.

We hope you'll take some time to consider what kind of "cord" you're building. Can it endure hardship, or is it overcome easily? Consider the wise words of Solomon... Consider your cordage! Braid some more strands to your cord and better prepare yourself and your family for what lies ahead. Share your knowledge with others and invite them into your plans and preparations. In doing so, you'll find strength, encouragement, hope and the best possible chance of surviving the future.

The mainstream media is abuzz with stories about JPMorgan's $2 Billion in trading losses in just the past six weeks. Here some typical coverage: JPMorgan Hit by ‘Egregious’ Trading Loss of $2 Billion. The culprit? It was derivatives.

Ah yes, those pesky derivatives. Ich habe es Ihnen gesagt (way back in 2006.)

I won't re-hash the details of the JP Morgan debacle that have come to light, because they have already been spelled out by many journalists. The best analysis that I've found thusfar came from the editors of Zero Hedge, in this piece: The "World's Largest Prop Trading Desk" Just Went Bust. The facts are all there. There is also some good commentary at Fierce Finance: JPMorgan "hedges" look like prop bets.

What are the implications of this mayhem? They are all bad, especially for Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), Credit Default Swaps (CDSes) and other collateralized debt obligation (CDO) derivatives. The band of fools in JPMorgan's Chief Investment Office (CIO) were buying up CDOs at the same time wiser heads in the banking world were avoiding them like proverbial hot potatoes. It is noteworthy that most of these derivatives were purchased after the 2008 credit crisis. In the greedy eyes of the JP Morgan derivatives trading staff, buying this paper after it had taken a 20% haircut appeared to be a bargain. To compound their problems, not only they take on CDS contracts, but they created additional hedges around those derivatives. This is like taking a bet on a bet. What idiots. There is lots of conjecture about what was really going on in Morgan's CIO. Was it all a hedge on inflation that went awry, because deflation lingered longer than expected? It may be weeks before the cognoscenti speak and we learn the full story. But one thing is certain: There is a fine line between hedging and proprietary ("prop") trading, and the CIO appears to have crossed the line. And their hedges were big enough that they shifted the landscape of the entire CDS market. (They have hundreds of billions of dollars in derivative contracts in play at any given time. The counterparty risk is huge.)

The world of derivatives is a wilderness of mirrors. There are far more reflections (or vehicles) than there are real assets. There are synthetic CDOs--these are collateralized debt obligations (CDO) that are based on credit default swaps (CDSs) rather than physical debt securities. There are passive CDOs, and managed CDOs. (Those CDOs were what caused the huge writedowns of both Citigroup and Merrill Lynch.) There are Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs), Super SIVs, and SIV-lites, all created by packaging multiple CDOs. SIVs are vehicles that allow banks to borrow short and lend long. There are variable interest entities (VIEs)--one of the favorites of the now-defunct Enron Corporation. Then there are Qualified SPEs (Special Purpose Entities or QSPEs) and Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) which are entirely new corporate entities--usually set up offshore--just for the purpose of handling SIVs and various CDOs. Ask presidential candidate Mitt Romney to explain these, since he is an expert. But then, he might not want to talk about it. So instead, read Moorad Choudhry's book "Structured Credit Products: Credit Derivatives and Synthetic Securitisation."

There is nothing quite like buying into a falling market. On Wall Street, they call that "catching a falling knife." Many of the Credit Default Swaps that the JPMorgan CIO was trading were investment grade corporate bonds. But some, no doubt, were tied to real estate--the notorious residential mortgage backed securities (RMBSes). With so many foreclosures now hitting the market, the bottom for residential real estate in the United States is still nowhere in sight. And RMBSes are the main "assets" underlying most of those CDOs. In this amorphous era of the Fed's Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP), the practice of borrowing short and lending long can't go on for much longer. At some point, interest rates will rise, and there will be blood in the streets. We must also consider that JP Morgan isn't the only trading firm holding this stinky paper. There are probably lots of others that pursued similar hedging strategies. But because of its size, JPMorgan got all the recent publicity. I suspect that the full extent of the losses--especially those by other banking and hedge firms--have not yet been reported.

The bottom line, predictably, is that it is the American Taxpayers who are the ultimate guarantors for the losses caused by their folly. In the millennial era, the banksters consistently bet big, knowing that if they lose, then there will always be another bailout. They have a the certain knowledge that they have the Federal government in their back pocket. (The lack of a criminal indictment of MF Global Chairman Jon Corzine was clear evidence of that.) The "Too Big to Fail" mantra is now so engrained that the bankers feel invulnerable. This is one reason that the derivatives casino has grown tremendously. Of course they are willing to gamble when it is a "heads I win, and tails you lose" proposition! Banks that have their losses guaranteed by the government (and ultimately, by our tax dollars) shouldn’t be sitting at a casino table, slurping down liquor. But in effect, that is just where they are.

What will be the end result of JPMorgan's huge losses in derivatives? Just a wait a few months. We likely hear post facto that there was a quiet bailout, measured in billions. The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) is alive and well.

Avoid Social Breakdown. Become Resilient. (Thanks to Kevin S. for the link.)

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Over at Global Guerillas: Big Twitter is Here

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Reader S. R. mentioned that there are some school teacher positions open in a retreat-worthy region: Navajo Public Schools. S.R. describes Jackson County, Oklahoma: "...a nice rural area with
good well water at about 10-to-30 foot depth, a long growing season, and that produces wheat, Cotton, Peanuts, and Beef." They are looking to hire a Computer teacher, Secondary Special Ed teacher and likely a Foreign Language teacher.

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Ed. M. recommended an essay on ballistic home defense over at Oleg Volk's site: Riots vs. pogroms. "Modern homes are not built as fortresses. They are only as strong as the people defending them." OBTW, the photo of the man holding the antique riotgun is none other than SurvivalBlog's own Editor at Large, Michael Z. Williamson.

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Some Canadian provinces attempt to create "back door" gun registries.

"The CDS [credit default swap] is probably the most important instrument in finance. What [the advent of the] CDS did is lay-off all the risk of highly leveraged institutions - and that's what banks are, highly leveraged - on stable American and international institutions." - Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, May 2006

Friday, May 11, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) 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