July 2012 Archives

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today we present the last two entries for Round 41 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. All other accepted entries that are still in the queue will roll over into Round 42. (As usual, we got a torrent of entries in the last few days of the month.) 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st and the queue is full, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 42. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As a former Sergeant of Marines, terrorism awareness was second nature.  It was not until I transitioned to civilian life that I realized the average guy doesn’t have a clue what a “Hard Target” is.   A Hard Target is a target that presents the lowest probability of being destroyed or overtaken.  I am breaking it down to three basic sections: 1. You’re self, 2. you’re vehicle and 3. you’re Home.  To start you need to rethink your wardrobe.  You should purchase clothing that helps you blend in. This means no wild colors or clothes that sport expensive name brands or oversized logos. If you were going to steal a purse and two women walked by one with a $600 Coach brand and the other with a $25 one from Wal-Mart what would you choose. The same  applies to how you dress.  The second thing to consider is the colors and material. Earth tones are  best. They blend in with nature and don’t stand out on the street. If you choose to carry a handgun you should consider concealment when picking out clothing. Thinner shirts and lighter colors more easily display the outline of a firearm as well as tighter and smaller articles. You have to dress to conceal. This may mean going up a size in trousers and blouse.  If you are wearing shorts, flip flops and a tank top where are you going to hide your firearm?  Also everyone else that sees you knows that you most likely are not armed.

Predators prey on the weak and sick. Lions attack the slowest and oldest Zebras in the herd not the strong and fast ones. The same is true for the two legged variety or predator.                    

Next thing to think about is your vehicle. It should always be topped off with gas. I fill my truck up at a half tank so I always have at least that much gas. The type of vehicle should be taken into consideration as well. Driving a $50,000 foreign luxury car is not a good posture. It only shows off  to the criminal that you have money and at the very least a nice car to steal. A good American 4 door or Truck a few years old and well maintained will do just fine. They are common cars and blend well. Lightly tinted windows are good to keep gear out of sight as long as they are not so dark as to imply that there is something inside that you don’t want anyone to see. The interior should be clean with nothing in sight regardless of value. All GPS receivers, cell phones, chargers and electronics should be taken down and stowed out of sight every time you leave the vehicle. No bags of any kind should be visible. You want to give the impression of nothing being in the vehicle. All BOBs should be stowed in the trunk. Tool boxes that lock and are secured to the bed work well for Pickups. Even small change in a cup holder should be removed as I have heard from friends vehicles that their vehicles were burglarized over such trifling items.

Once you have your vehicle squared away you can move on to routine. You want to be as random as possible in your daily routine. This means not leaving at the same time every morning, taking different routes to and from work, not stopping at the same place  for coffee, gas etc. The more variables you create the harder you will be to track and the more difficult it will be to figure out your work/ school schedule. This will make it hard for anyone to determine when you will be out of the house or where and when you work.   While on the road, watch for any suspicious vehicles that may be following you.  When in doubt pull over and let them pass or make a U-turn. This will make it next to impossible for anything aside from a revolving tail to continue to follow. (A revolving tail is a police surveillance technique where multiple vehicles take turns following a vehicle while maintain radio contact to make the tail harder to spot.) Always be aware of your surroundings. If something feels shady or suspect it probably  is. A good tool is a pen and paper within reach in your car. Take down the make, model and plates or any suspicious vehicles you encounter. This will help you to determine if the vehicle is the same you saw the other day that was suspicious and help the police in an investigation should anything happen. Take note of any vehicles parked in your neighborhood that seem out of place and write down the plated, make color and description of the vehicle. This is to include contractor vehicles that may be doing repairs on your neighbors homes. Many contractors have drug habits and use their work to find easy targets to make easy money. They usually work while you are away at work and can very easily determining your routine. If they watch you leave every day at 0630 and return at 1700 they know the window they have to break into your property.

While at home there are several things you can do to become a hard target. First your house should never look as if no one is home. A simple light on a timer can do the trick. You should shred anything that goes in the trash with your name on it. This includes receipts and bills and even mail addressed to you. You would be surprised the information someone can gather from you just by going through your trash. All Doors in the house should have a locking mechanism that is only accessible from the inside and any door with a window or any glass should have a dead bolt with a key that can be removed and locked from the inside. A “Beware or Dog” is also a good deterrent even if you don’t have a dog. Remember the idea behind becoming a hard target is to make yourself and your property as undesirable to the criminal as possible. This will in turn lessen, not eliminate the risk of becoming a victim.

Sliding doors can be rendered next to impossible to open with a simple wooden dowel or 2x4. The same is true for regular doors that have a wall behind them. Placing a 2x4 between the door and wall will render the door inoperable even while unlocked. This is good for doors that are rarely used like back or porch doors. I place NRA stickers on key doors and windows around the house. Small enough that they are only visible from close up. Some may argue that this presents a risk as firearms are next to jewelry on the list for items commonly stolen during burglaries. I disagree with that assessment because I keep all my firearms locked in a 1,000 pound fire proof gun safe that is bolted to the floor and would require a torch or cutting tools to open with out the key or code. All jewelry in my home is stored in a safe.

Finally I want to touch on security while in the home. Don't assume that just because you are home you are not at risk for theft. Recent years have seen rise in home invasions. I keep my carry gun on me even when doing chores around the house or mowing the lawn or walking the property. Get to know your neighbors and their routines. Talk to them about neighborhood security and inform them when you will be out of town. Offer to look after their property when they are away and help them become hard targets as well. Over all be alert, be proactive and be safe. Remember complacency kills. God Bless and Semper Fidelis.

If you live in the American Redoubt or any of the Northern US, you deal with a lot of cold winter weather. But all of those folk living in warmer places, you need to take heed too, because cold weather can touch you too in a survival situation. In January 2010, Florida experienced temperatures in the mid-30 degrees Fahrenheit (F) range, cold enough to kill the unprepared individual.
I grew up in Alaska, and spent my childhood and teen years exploring the woods and the mountains, often far from any trails. Winter is actually the optimum time for travel in places where there are no roads and trails because Alaska's dreaded thickets of Sitka Alder and Devil's Club are safely buried under many feet of snow and the streams and rivers are frozen. More importantly, large loads can be sledged behind snow machines (snow mobiles for you lower 48ers), dogs, or humans. The first general store in my hometown was actually brought up the frozen river over 75 miles from the ocean this way back in the early 20th century.
For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to define cold weather conditions as temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. I am going to exclude another very dangerous condition that is common to the Pacific Northwest- the wet cold when there is liquid water just above 32 Fahrenheit (F).
You may scoff at cold temperatures, even sub zero temperatures. After all, you can go work all day outside in the winter when it is -10 F and still be fine right? You haven't experienced cold weather until you have went out and lived in it for a few weeks at a time. It takes on completely new dimensions when you don't have a ready supply of clean, dry clothes and warm shelter to go back to at the end of the day.
For the newly initiated: No cotton in the cold weather ever! As cotton becomes moist from your sweat, it will begin to take heat away from your body, resulting in hypothermia. Layering is the key to dressing for the cold. You always want to minimize the amount of sweat you produce by optimizing your layers. As you become more active, take layers off. As you slow down, put layers on. Aim for a perfect fit for your layers, but if this is not possible, get clothes that are looser rather than tighter. The air between the layers will help insulate you.
In our active state, we can resist the cold well. That's why you can go outside and work in the cold weather and be none the worse, even wearing light clothes. But as soon as the activity stops, our metabolism drops, and we are at risk of hypothermia. When you are walking, carrying a load or working in cold weather, your clothing can actually be pretty light. On my cold weather running workouts when temperatures were at -15 F, I would typically wear wool socks, poly propylene top and bottom underwear, fleece pants and jacket, balaclava, and thick gloves.
You will be able to turn up some of the items you need at REI or your local outdoors store. But beware: some mountaineering/skiing type clothing is not made with the durability necessary for work or moving through thick brush. Gear made of materials such as thick nylon and wool will be heavier, but you can ill afford to rip your clothes during a survival situation. Duluth Trading Company, Canada Goose, Woolrich, and military surplus all offer the durable, warm clothes you will need. Also, I love my Carhartt gear, but leave it at home for the winter trek. As far as I know, all of their clothes are made to be worn for the day and dried out at night, an option that will not be available to you on multi day trips.
Start with your base layers. I recommend Under Armor brand boxers. One pair per day if possible, just like Mom told you. Thick, high quality wool socks are a must. It might hurt to shell out $20 for a pair of socks, but it is worth it. One pair of socks per day, and always one clean dry pair to wear into the sleeping bag at night. Wear top and bottom long underwear. I have had the best luck with polypropylene long under wear as they keep you very warm even when damp. Generic brands are readily available.
Now we move up into insulating layers. I have a wool union suit that is excellent, but military surplus thick polypropylene "Extreme Cold Weather System" underwear work as well. If I need additional layers, I prefer my light but very warm alpaca sweater. Wool and fleece sweater/jackets are excellent as well. Remember that as you move up in layers, you will need larger sizes to fit over your other layers.
For outer layers, I wear wool pants and a wind breaker. I have nylon overalls for working. For times when you are inactive, you need a heavy down parka with a hood. Don't skimp on the parka! Your parka is probably the single most important clothing item discussed here. For temperatures less than -20 F, you may need down pants as well. I recommend using suspenders or bib overalls as much as possible. When working and traveling it can be irritating to have too many layers going on at your waist.
Footwear should be bought slightly large so that you can wear two pairs of wool socks if needed. I wear thin Smartwool liner socks, thick wool socks and Baffin brand boots. A quality pair of gaiters is an excellent investment, the only brand I have found that works well is Outdoor Research. Whatever brand of boots you get, removable liners are a must so that you can wear them into the sleeping bag if necessary. Your boots will collect a lot of moisture and can freeze solid at night. To rest your tired dogs at night, get a pair of down camp booties to wear around camp.
If your hands are uncovered, they can become numb in less than a minute. Recently, I discovered that by wearing wool "hobo" gloves without finger tips, I could take off my bulky overmitts to do delicate work for a few minutes without making my hands too cold. The military issues over mittens with a trigger finger for operating a firearm, but I have not tried these. If you need more dexterity for longer periods, I recommend a pair of high quality technical mountaineering gloves.
The arctic sun's glare can cause snow blindness after a few days of travel, so you will need tinted goggles. These will also be necessary to protect your eyes from blowing snow in storms.
Head wear is of critical importance because up to 80% of the body's heat can escape through the head. The balaclava is one of the most versatile, useful clothing items for cold weather survival. It can be used as a hat, scarf, or to protect the whole head. Have at least one with you. Additionally, have a hat, either a wool watch cap or an earflap hat.
If possible, select a campsite near the top of a hill. The cold air sinks into the valleys, so it can be 5-10 degrees warmer on hilltops. Make sure that you are sheltered from any wind. If no shelter is a available you may have to construct a wall or other shelter to block the wind. I'm not going to go into the many styles and techniques for building snow shelters, but I can personally attest to how wonderful a snow cave can be. They warm up quickly to a relative balmy 32 F regardless of outside temperatures.
If you bring a tent, ensure that it will be able to withstand any winds you expect. A tent is not always necessary and I have spent many beautiful nights under the stars and northern lights.
Everyone's body reacts differently to sleeping in cold weather. Some sleep with relative ease, but others sleep "cold" and may want warmer sleeping bags. You basically have two choices for sleeping bag materials, down and synthetic. Synthetic is usually cheaper, lighter, and more compactable but it can lose its insulating value in just a few years as it becomes compacted down. I'm not discounting synthetic sleeping bags... they can be excellent for fast light travel, but don't count on one lasting forever. Down sleeping bags are heavier, but they will last longer and I believe they are more trustworthy. I am a "cold" sleeper, so I generally add 20 degrees to whatever the bag is advertised as (So -20 F rated bag becomes a 0 F bag). You won't necessarily freeze to death if your bag is not warm enough, but you will spend a miserable night with little or no sleep, which could be very dangerous after two nights of sleep deprivation. Make sure your mummy bag fits almost perfectly. The more dead space you have, the less efficient your heat retention. Maximize the bags warmth by keeping the drawstrings around your face tight. Always ensure that your breath vents out of the bag to prevent a build up of moisture.
Insulation from the ground is at least as important as insulation from the air, as lying on a cold surface will conduct large amounts of heat from your body. In the winter I use two thick foam pads for sleeping. I advise against air inflated pads because they are vulnerable to leaks that render them useless. Also, foam pads can be used as splints, makeshift sleds, etc. I have used spruce boughs in place of sleeping pads and it wasn't the most comfortable but it worked.
Wear several layers into the sack if necessary; especially dry socks to prevent trench foot. You may even want to bring a watch cap to be worn only in the sleeping bag. Items that need to be dried can be brought into the sleeping bag, but they will rob you of some heat. At night I like to fill my Nalgene water bottles with hot water and bring them into the bag. You may also need to bring battery operated devices to bed with you to preserve charge. This ensures you have some water in the morning and also keeps your feet warm.
As I learned the hard way a few years ago, compressed gas does not work in extreme cold conditions. Use a stove that is manually pressurized like the Mountain Safety Research Whisperlite. I have used this rugged, self cleaning, reliable stove when I climbed Mount McKinley (Denali) and other Alaska Range trips and it has never let me down. I recommend one stove per person as you will need to melt large quantities of snow for water. Be very careful to not get stove fuel on your skin during extreme cold. Because its freezing point is much lower than water, it could cause instant frostbite. When melting snow, make sure you start with a small amount of liquid water at the bottom; otherwise the bottom of your pan will burn rather than melting the snow.
As with any type of camping, a fire can be a welcome addition to your camp. Starting a fire in below zero temperatures will challenge your patience and skills. See Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire."
The farther north you are, the shorter your winter days, so try to have camp broken by first light. Fill your water bottles for the day with warm water and wrap them in whatever insulation you have in your baggage so that they don't freeze.
For snow travel, you will most likely need skis or snow shoes. Walking through deep, powdery snow without them will quickly exhaust you. You may feel like a crusty Sourdough when you wear your old fashioned ash and rawhide snow shoes, but I recommend modern, rigid plastic snowshoes with crampons for effective travel on hills. A sled is another tool that can make your winter travel easier. Although expensive purpose built can be had, I use a reinforced kiddie plastic toboggan. On level terrain, your sled can be your best friend, allowing you pull more than you can carry on your back. If you are going up steep hills, I recommend you keep most of the load on your back.

Keep in mind that your firearm may not function properly in sub-zero temperatures. Strip all oil from your gun in cold weather, or risk having the action locked shut. Keep in mind that firing a gun in extreme cold weather causes the weapon's temperature to rise rapidly, which could affect the temper of the steel. Usually this won't be a problem if you are just taking a few shots at some game, but if you are in a sustained gun battle with a pistol or an assault rifle, you risk severe damage to your firearm. One solution to this is to hold your weapons inside your layers to keep them warm. Of course, this presents the problem of having a giant chunk of cold metal robbing you of your heat.
Moisture is going to be enemy number one in the extreme cold. Moisture from your body will wick its way through your layers and freeze on your outer layers. Your eyebrows and beard will be covered with frost. You must constantly work to keep this frost off your clothes. Brush it off regularly. Adjust your layers so that you do not break a sweat. Sweat build up can wreak havoc in cold weather. This highlights the importance of conditioning for survival. Carrying a 70 pound pack while pulling a 45 pound sled without sweating takes a lot of exercise. Keep in mind that your nose will run in the cold air. Bring plenty of Vaseline to keep your face from becoming chapped.
As with any activity, hydration is key. The dry air will quickly rob your body of moisture. Drink lots of water, especially hot drinks to keep warm. I have known people who deliberately dehydrated themselves during storms so that they wouldn't have to leave the tent to urinate. This is foolish and dangerous. Consume plenty of food high in fat content during extreme cold. Anything with lots of butter is good. Under no circumstance consume alcohol in extreme cold. This enlarges your blood vessels and increases heat loss. Keep yourself clean to the best of your abilities. Baby wipes work well for sanitation and bird baths. I'm not going to discuss the cold related illnesses and injuries and their treatments because others have written excellent articles that cover these subjects. Suffice to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Cold weather survival, as with anything survival, is about discipline, discipline, discipline. Keep your guard up against the Wendigo, and with a little experience, you will not only survive the cold, you will thrive in it. And when the mercury rises from -40 F to 35 F, you will be looking for your Bermuda shorts and flip flops.

Dear Mr Rawles:
A follow-up to my last letter: Spiez is where the Swiss have their federal testing lab for Civil Defense.  The lab has an english version of its website.  At this link  your readers may acess the list of tested and aprooved components ( for CD shelters) and in a seperate document, the list of aprooval holders.  Interested readers can then with a search engine find the companies who make components of interest one of which is Lunor. This company also has an English version of their web site.  Readers can from there select blast doors, NBC filters,  valves etc.  Spiez is also the home of the Swiss level 4 confinement lab, ( of which a few pictures can also  be found  on the lab website).
Beste grussen und danke ein andere mal. - Jason L.

I heard that a new and quite conservative prepper-friendly Baptist church has been planted up in Bozeman, Montana. Calvary Baptist Church, an independent fundamental Baptist church, will be pastored by Philip Brown. According to his newsletter, Brown felt strongly convicted to relocate his family to Montana. He mentioned that some quite providential things fell into place, to make it all happen. See their video introduction.

  o o os

Reader Joe W. sent this interactive map: Multiple Shootings in the United States. Notice a big hole in this map? There have been almost no multiple shootings in the heavily-armed American Redoubt. (Plus the Dakotas.) Conventional Statist Wisdom says: More Guns, More Crime, but the reality is: More Guns, Less Crime.

   o o o

The AARP ranks Spokane, Washington as the #1 town to live in, for affordability.

   o o o

A Department of Transportation (DOT) map of average daily truck traffic shows that there is far less traffic in the Redoubt.

   o o o

Mark A. mentioned: "SmartMoney.com has been reviewing about one state per week as places to retire. They finally got to Idaho last week. Here also are Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington."

G.G. flagged this: The world’s first 3D-printed gun. (This technology proves the futility of any further statist dreams of effective "gun control." The djinn has escaped the bottle.)

   o o o

Sticking to their guns: Marines place $22.5M order for the Colt .45 M1911.

   o o o

One to add to your toolbox: Sugru is a new air-curing rubber that can be formed by hand. It bonds to most materials and turns into a strong, flexible silicone rubber overnight.

   o o o

370 million without power in India. (Thanks to Mitch K. for the link.)

"In the long run… governments collapse, countries disappear, empires fall, and things hold their value much better than paper does." - Emanuel Derman, physicist and financial analyst, in Models.Behaving.Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life, 2011

Monday, July 30, 2012

For a new hardback edition, I've been asked by Ulysses Press to create a new Revised Edition of my novel Patriots. This new edition should be published in October, 2012. Eventually there will be three hard copy formats: a hardback book, a trade paperback, and a mass market paperback. This new edition is the opportunity for me to correct some anachronistic errors that have developed over the 21 year life of the novel. (I wrote the first draft in the winter of 1990-1991.) For example, I've changed Doug Carlton's father from a Vietnam veteran to a Desert Storm veteran. And I've upgraded Todd Gray's PC to a terabyte hard drive and a DSL modem. (References to dial-up modems now seem very dated.) By the way, if you've noticed factual errors, temporal glitches, typos, or other editorial lapses in the current paperback edition of Patriots, then please send me a list via e-mail. Thanks!


Today we remember the birthday of author Reginald Bretnor. He was born Alfred Reginald Kahn on July 30, 1911, in Vladivostok. He died on July 22, 1992 in Medford, Oregon. In addition to writing many witty science fiction novels and short stories in his characteristic style, he also penned nonfiction articles for Mel Tappan's P.S. Letter.

I had long been interested in buying Mr. Ballou's book Long-Term Survival In The Coming Dark Age: Preparing to Live after Society Crumbles. He has several compelling titles out there about survival skills. I selected  this one because the cover caught my eye: a Foreword by Ragnar Benson. For those who don't know this author, he has written many excellent books on the subject of Survival and Preparedness. He is considered one of the originals along with Mel Tappan, and Kurt Saxon who were among the main Survivalist writers  in the 1970s.  Benson also often disagrees with his contemporaries, making him even more interesting to read. The political and economic situation in the present day reminds me of that  time when the word Survivalist was first invented.  Benson, to me, is my favorite author on this subject. He combines a unique writing style with real world experience in Survival and Preparedness.  I often re-read Mr. Benson's work for entertainment and review of essential skills and philosophy. I figured anyone of his caliber who would put his name on a recent book was worth buying.

Ballou starts out with the usual “Why Prepare?” argument citing possibilities of what could happen if society collapses. Unless the book is for beginners or entry level readers, a chapter like this  should be omitted. Most Preparedness-Minded folks don't need to be convinced. If they do need to be convinced there are plenty of publications out there for free. Personally I just go to work in the Emergency Room and observe modern American society in all it's glory.

Mr. Ballou lists the need for the usual: Wood Stoves, Tools, Water Purification Filters etc. Again, an entry-level discussion would be good  for the completely clueless, but not for more advanced Preparedness people.  He lists many survival items,  but the problem is he always qualifies with “Could be useful” or “Could Possibly” or “Might Be”. Unlike Benson, he indicates little or no real-world experience with the supplies he writes about. Often they are just basic common sense. Do people really need to read that a bathtub could be filled with water for emergency use? That's FEMA stuff, not Dark Ages stuff. Still,  the illustrations are a fun reminder of some tools and equipment to have. You may just want to take a picture of your own stock-up items for later reference. Or keep and read  those free tool catalogs. If you want pictures, don't buy this book.   

The chapter on underground caches is interesting, but there is nothing new here either. Advise such as making sure no one sees what you are doing, cover your tracks, etc. also goes without being said (or written). One interesting note on the subject of burial of survival items p. 27:
Survival author Ragnar Benson has written about using a post auger for boring deeper holes. Keep in mind, however that a full size . . . auger will be more difficult to conceal if you travel on foot to your cache site and you might draw unwanted attention to your activities . . .

That' is quite a thing to say: contradict a survival expert with more than four decades of real-world experience-who endorsed your own book! Especially since  Benson's own book on Caching is a great, informative read. Did Mr. Ballou consider a post-hole is faster to dig, or disturbs the ground less thus offsetting other disadvantages? What about breaking down the digger into component parts to be re-assembled at the dig site? A post hole digger handle looks a lot like a hiking staff. Mr. Ballou does not discuss advantages, disadvantages or alternatives to this, other than he does not think  it's a good idea. Before I would go toe-to-toe with an writer and survivalist like Ragnar Benson, I would make sure I had some solid points to make other than what seems to be vague speculation.
He also said to be sure to carry some water with you when you go digging. Thank you Mr. Ballou for the sage survival advise.

Chapter 3 was worth the price of the book. The Survival Workshop. I could tell that this is the area where Mr. Ballou has experience and expertise. The basic metalworking, riveting and shop set-up ideas are well presented, with less “could-be” or “might be useful” and more “normally very effective”. I like to read “is” instead of “might” when it comes to life-or-death analysis of what I may have to do in a societal collapse. I am not a hobbyist.  I really like the idea of making a thread cutting die from a file, or a vise from 2 x 4s.  Now those examples are  something that could be potentially used in the Dark Ages! This chapter, like quality survival books, really got me thinking. He has a book dedicated to this subject I want to buy.

Chapter 4 is also very good, a  review and reminder of the countless things that are thrown away of potential use in a later time when they may not be able to be manufactured on a large scale. Still, it's not survival in the Dark Ages, it's things one can do now, while there are dumpsters to dive. I scavenge in cities I visit. I find this  fun and sometimes of financial benefit. I share the writer's inclination to look for wheel weights and other small items in parking lots. This is a skill common in Third World countries.  All preparedness-minded people should at least think about routine scavenging. Forget about the image of the homeless degenerate culling for food in a back-alley garbage can like an animal. Be discreet. Dress with durable clothing.  I have found climbing rope, drills, hardware, electrical supplies new-in-box among other things too numerous to detail here. I do it while jogging while carrying a cloth shopping bag. I even sometimes wear a silk mask if the dumpster is under surveillance. One has to keep warm,  right? Good points are made by Ballou, but this could have been a separate article or included in another book. It's not post-dark-ages survival guidelines.

The rest of the book covers the subjects of fire making, cordage and what trade goods to store. Again, this is very basic information. The Bushcraft skills would be better reviewed by reading  Ray Mears. Ragnar Benson also covers trade goods in his writings including the specific need for spare tool handles. No one can argue against the possibility that,  in a Dark Age, things like matches and other high tech manufactured items be scarce or unavailable.  Ballou directed the reader to more complete, already published works, rather than attempt to re-introduce the entire subject in a few pages. If he has direct experience, maybe just discuss his first-hand problems with bushcraft techniques and his own personal solutions, if any.  This is what another important bushcraft writer John McPherson does.

Mr. Ballou has written a pretty good introduction to the world of preparedness with two strong idea-based chapters on survival metalworking and improvisation from found objects. Other than metalworking ideas, it has little to do with post-dark age survival.  It's a basic primer  about getting ready. Again, other than metalworking his first-hand experience is not apparent to me in this book. If he does indeed have some experience in survival, then tell me.  I would buy the book for the chapters on metalworking and scavenger hunting.  Otherwise,  read the books by the man who wrote the forward: Ragnar Benson. Writers from the early Survivalist Movement are also what I consider essential and even fun to read. If you want to learn more about bushcraft then read Ray Mears and watch his videos. John McPherson is also an excellent bushcraft writer on the subject along with Bradford Angier who started in the 1960s and  earlier. These folks have done it.  Don't forget that basic books about survival  have been written about in great detail before, sometimes more than 40 years ago.  However, nothing is a substitute for personal skill-building. That means put the books away and start doing it yourself.

The World Radio TV Handbook ("WRTH") is a large annual handbook that contains a comprehensive directory of radio and television broadcasting stations worldwide. It also includes articles, technical reviews and commentaries about many aspects of shortwave listening, DX (long distance) chasing, and selection of suitable radio receivers.

Revised and published annually, the reader is assured that the information contained therein is fresh and accurate. (I did my review based on the 2011 edition.) Anyone who has listened to a shortwave radio will know that it is often difficult to determine the identity of the station as it is being heard. Moreover, many stations operate concurrently on the same frequency. The vagaries of HF propagation normally insure that the targeted audience receives the signal beamed toward them, but many times the signal from a station may be heard where not normally expected. Enter the World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH), which will give the identity of all stations operating on a specific frequency, the times of the transmission, the language being spoken, and an indication of the scheduled content. Not only does this allow the listener to more accurately determine what he is hearing, but the times and audience targeting will enable the listener to schedule and record it unattended.

The information in this book is gathered year-round by the publisher, as well as being directly provided by the broadcasters themselves. Shortwave listeners (SWLs) also contribute station reports, which are of particular value in listing and monitoring clandestine and very small local stations. The listings include virtually all commercial broadcasters, their frequencies ranging from long wave (below 535 KHz), medium wave (535 to 1705 KHz), shortwave (1.8 - 30 MHz), FM (76 to 108 MHz) and terrestrial television.

WRTH has five sections; Editorial, Contributors, Reviews, Features, and Information. The Editorial section consists of a general overview of commercial broadcasting, anticipated changes and so on; a review of the state of the broadcasting industry in general. The Contributors section names those individuals who have been instrumental in providing fresh reception information, especially the rare and hard to find stations. It is notable that the contributors are global, indicating a healthy interest in broadcast listening worldwide. The Review section has reviews of current shortwave-capable receivers in all price ranges, from a few dollars to many thousands. These reviews are concise and very useful for the targeted audience, the hobbyist shortwave listener, but are less technical than reviews in more focused publications, like the amateur radio publication QST. However, the lack of detailed technical measurements seldom make any real difference to the typical shortwave or medium wave listener. A wide selection of articles populate the Features section, ranging from classic radio receivers to digital reception to a preview of anticipated propagation for the coming year.

The majority of the content of WRTH is in the Information section, which contains all the frequency listings. This section is further broken down into several categories, each designed to be helpful as the listener scans the bands. The listings serve both types of listener; schedulers and cruisers. A scheduler will locate the country and language of choice, pick the most appropriate frequency for the current level of propagation, then tune to that frequency at the appointed time and hopefully hear or record the selected broadcast. A cruiser typically finds a band where propagation and reception is good, then tunes about until finding a station of interest. By determining the language and content of the program, the listener can then use the listings to find the most likely candidate(s) for the station being heard. This can be confirmed by hearing the station ID on the hour.

The listings themselves are broken down several ways, each given its own place in the book. National radio listings consists of stations whose broadcasts are targeted within the station's home country boundaries. These are your typical local MW broadcast stations, but also include FM and ground-based TV stations. International radio listings contain stations that specifically target and beam toward other regions of the world. Typically these are very high powered shortwave transmitters, operating on multiple frequencies, many times with identical broadcast content. These stations generally provide cultural content, music, and a healthy dose of propaganda. Most of these high-power stations are government owned and operated, which will define the program content. Frequency listings contain frequencies and the stations to be found on them, in increasing order of frequency. This list is most useful when hearing a station that you want to ID quickly. By looking at the entry you can get the station power, country of origin and call sign with location. If you are a cruiser you will find this to be the place most useful to you.

Terrestrial television is covered thoroughly in the USA as well as abroad. Due to the nature of UHF propagation, foreign TV stations will seldom, if ever, be detected outside of the station's immediate locale. The movement toward digital television has also limited the usefulness of these listings as digital transmissions are ineffective beyond line of sight. The TV listings are interesting but will be of very limited usefulness to the prepper.

The final part of the book is the Reference section, which gives miscellaneous related information for using the guide. Examples are Main Country Index,Geographical Area Codes, Abbreviations and Symbols, and so forth. These entries are helpful in understanding and getting the full information from the foregoing frequency and station sections of the book. Of particular interest is the Standard Time and Frequency listings, which give the frequencies, times and locations of these stations. Time and frequency stations are handy for calibrating your receiver tuning, and getting an accurate time setting when other methods are unavailable, and checking propagation from a specific area of the world.

WRTH covers all licensed and many clandestine radio and TV frequencies worldwide. For its intended purpose and audience it fulfills expectations very well. It is complex on first viewing but with a modest effort anyone can learn to use this handbook quickly. The listings will never be 100 percent accurate because of continual changes in transmitter frequencies, locations, power levels and the inevitable political issues prevalent in some countries. Some readers may have trouble initially understanding the acronyms and technical abbreviations. There is a bit of a learning curve to a beginning user. However, the Features and Reviews section includes a page on how to use the listings as well as a detailed set of world maps which help orient the reader to the locations of the listed stations. The Reference section also covers abbreviations used throughout the book.

This handbook is of great usefulness to shortwave listeners, radio hobbyists, preppers and anyone interested in the variety and geographical locations of transmitters throughout the world. I have used this book as an aid in my radio monitoring for over thirty years. The accuracy of the publication is such that I usually keep my copy for two years before getting a new one. However, if you want to have the absolute latest printed compendium of frequencies, then purchasing a copy annually is your best choice.

Sean Gilbert, George Jacobs, Bengt Ericson. Dave Kenny, Mauno Ritola, Bernd Trutenau, and Torgeir Woxen

Copyright Date 2010

Published by Nicholas Hardyman - WRTH Publications Ltd.

ISBN 978-0-9555481-3-0

Amazon.com is now selling the 2012 edition of the World Radio TV Handbook


James Wesley:
The article by N.H. about weight loss was pretty accurate. The only problem is the recommendations. That is, following the US dietary guidelines. I don;t recommend that.

To make a long story short, study up on the "paleo" way of eating and exercise. Six years ago I cured my growing blood sugar problem and lost 30 lbs in 4 months. I've maintained that ever since then.

I fear that a lot of "preppers" are fat and out of shape because they eat what they store, that is, they consume lots of wheat and vegetable oils because they store well. For anyone that wants to stay healthy now and after the SHTF, you are better off eliminating these items. And while you're at it, ditch sugar as well.

Store coconut oil (non-hydrogenated) and coconut milk and ghee for healthy fats, as well as canned salmon and sardines for Omega 3s and protein.
I've not had wheat and vegetable oils for six+ years and have outdone members of our military in their mid 20's during 5 km races. Not bad for 52 years old! - Dave, RN

Marie's Zucchini Ratatouille

2 TBS olive oil
1 large zucchini squash, sliced in half lengthwise and then into semicircles
1 medium onion, sliced
2 TBS minced garlic (fresh or reconstituted dried flakes)

Heat oil at 400 degrees in an electric skillet and add squash, onion and garlic. Saute for about 15 minutes until zucchini slices start to brown.


1 TBS chopped herbs: basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme are best.
Add 2 Roma tomatoes, cut in wedges and saute an additional 5 minutes until tomatoes are soft

Chef's Notes:

We served it over leftover tuna/rice casserole (not at all French!) and it was really good.  Could also accompany grilled chicken or fish. Quite popular this time of year in the south of France, but they use eggplant instead of zucchini. 

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Ratatouille at RecipeTips.com

Ratatouille in the Catalan style

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Cavelady Cooking: 50 Fun Recipes for Paleo, Low-Carb and Gluten-Free Diets

25 Artisan Style Bread Recipes : Bake Beautiful Sweet and Savory Loaves at Home Without A Bread Machine

Simple Emergency Food Storage

J.N. suggested this over at Zero Hedge: $10 Trillion M2 Is Now In The Rearview Mirror. So the aggregate money supply has been expanded from $4 trillion to $10 trillion in less than 12 years. So it is no wonder gasoline and milk are both over $3 per gallon.

Martin Armstrong: Why Property Taxes Will Soar, Why the Risk of Civil Unrest is Rising Exponentially and Why We Will See The Rise of a Third Political Party

Items from The Economatrix:

Earnings Show Recession May Be "Fast Approaching"

Growth In U.S. Slows As Consumers Restrain Spending

First Year of U.S. Economic Recovery Weaker than Estimated. [JWR Adds: This is being reported because the so-called "recovery" was just a brief blip created by massive monetization. Otherwise, we are still in a full scale depression that will span a decade or more.]

US Consumer Sentiment Gauge Falls to Lowest this Year

Pierre M. sent this: Rise in Weather Extremes Threatens Infrastructure. Here is a key quote: "Some utilities are re-examining long-held views on the economics of protecting against the weather. Pepco, the utility serving the area around Washington, has repeatedly studied the idea of burying more power lines, and the company and its regulators have always decided that the cost outweighed the benefit. But the company has had five storms in the last two and a half years for which recovery took at least five days, and after the derecho last month, the consensus has changed. Both the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Md., have held hearings to discuss the option — though in the District alone, the cost would be $1.1 billion to $5.8 billion, depending on how many of the power lines were put underground."

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To show their appreciation for the patronage of SurvivalBlog readers, CampingSurvival.com will include a free gift (around $5 to $10 value) with each order if you put the word "survivalblog" in the comment section of their order.

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Obama takes on gun violence in New Orleans speech. I guess President BHO missed reading Title 10 of the US Code, Section 311. Weapons like AK-47s do belong on our streets, in the hands of our unorganized citizen militia. That is the law of the land.

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Belle Ringer of the Salvation and Survival blog has posted an early book review of my novel "Founders." OBTW, she mentions "reserve your copy", but please wait until the Book Bomb Day--September 25th--to order, to give the book the maximum impact in Amazon.com's book rankings. Thanks.

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The Aurora Shooting You Didn’t Hear About In The Media. Oh, and speaking of gun politics, expect to see plenty of hand wringing and grandstanding in the fait accompli "debate" over the UN's "Small Arms and Light Weapons" Treaty. In the draft, only nations have the right to possess firearms, and the citizenry is granted limited privileges, of course with full registration, et cetera. (Read PDF of the full draft treaty text, here.) Please contact your Senators and insist that they do not ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) scheme.

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Oh so predictably: Mailorder Ammo Sales Limits and Magazine Ban bills introduced in congressd. (A nod to J. McC. for the link.)

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.'" - Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today marks the birthday of Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (born 29 July 1805.) He is remembered as the author of the seminal study Democracy in America.


Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st and the queue is full, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 42. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I spent a number of years doing trauma surgery in several Level 1 NYC hospitals, and I'd like to share some thoughts. I don't usually like to give advice - it's not my custom to tell another man or woman what to do. So please take this for what it's worth - my experience and thoughts - and do with it whatever seems best to you.

DISCLAIMER: I am a licensed physician. However, this is not medical advice. For any Johnny-Rambo's out there, if you need medical assistance, please pick up the phone. This is for when there is no dial tone.

Let me say first that I appreciate the wealth of information on this site. It's very interesting to read, and humbling to implement, a lot of the solid advice offered here. I'm less of a talker, and more of a do-er, and the reality is, there is a lot to get done. Some would be tempted to think that with several Ivy-league degrees and an M.D., something like gardening would be easy. Of course, you know what the reality is: starting something new is hard. And smart people are notoriously dumb.

I mention this because trauma is like any other discipline, and there's nothing magical about it.

If you go to the range and shoot flat-footed at paper targets, you'll fail when your AR double-feeds on the run, with your heart pumping, sweat in your eyes, and the world swirling around you. Medicine is the same way. You might have a trauma bag, you might have read a lot, but when your wife, or best friend, or child is bleeding out and looking at you, your mind will go blank. Don't be ashamed. That's reality. The question is, how can we handle it?

My first piece of advice is:

You need to do some limited amount of training that involves moving your hands and feet.

Muscle memory is an incredible thing. I've spent most my life in martial arts. I have no idea exactly what I would do if someone grabbed me by surprise. Be certain, though, that I would do something decisive and unfriendly. You don't need to become a paramedic, or make this a big time commitment, but you do need walk through handling a trauma. Your hands need to know. The more stressed you are while you practice, the better.

Spouses will generally support this. Taking a CPR course is a good start. Then, during dinner, or hanging out with like-minded friends, role-play it: "John just got shot in the neck/the propane tank exploded. What do we do?" Then have John lie down on the ground. Walk through what you would do, and do it. Do it every few months if you can. It takes 5 minutes. John will thank you one day.

The second thing is:

Keep things simple.

When your pistol malfunctions, it's tap-rack-bang. It's not complex. Don't go for a Ph.D. Don't rely on thinking. When it counts - and I've been covered in blood more nights than I care to count - you won't be thinking. You'll be reacting. So train to react. Here's how:

Step 1: A-B-C. Airway. Breathing. Circulation.

Say it again and again and again. I can promise you no matter how many other tidbits you pick up, you will forget everything else but A-B-C when you get caught off-guard by a serious trauma.

Here's my (humbling) anecdote: Years ago, as a first year medical student, I was in Costa Rica, hitch-hiking down some road. The car in front of us didn't make the turn and went under a tractor-trailer. Immediate carnage. The young woman in the passenger seat was on the pavement and she wasn't breathing.

Pause for a moment. If you're honest, what flashed into your head? An image? A similar experience? But what didn't occur to you? Did you immediately think: tilt back her head?

At that time I had already taken BLS (basic life-saving) which covers CPR, etc. I had all the book smarts in the world for this, but I didn't react. I hesitated. Some random guy on the side of the road tried to pick her up and her airway opened. She started breathing. She lived.

My point is this: don't concern yourself with complex trauma decision trees. Don't worry about whether it's Adenosine or Amiodarone. If you've got the meds, you've likely got the medical professionals to use them. The key in trauma management is to buy yourself (and the patient) enough time to get to the next step. That's it.

How do you do that? Concentrate on ABC. Do each one, in order, and then move onto the next:

Airway: Make sure the airway is open. If they are awake and talking, they are breathing. If not, tilt the head back. If there's blood or vomit in the mouth, get it out of there with your fingers. Get the airway clear. Textbooks will tell you to use a "jaw-thrust" maneuver if there is head or spinal trauma because of the theoretical risk you might dislodge a bone fragment and sever the spinal cord. This is nonsense. If you've got a broken neck, you're not breathing, and there's no medical help, you're dead. Don't screw around. Tilt the head back.

Breathing: If the airway is open and they're not breathing, there is a reason for it. At this point, you don't need to worry about what the reason is. You just need to start breathing for them, or they'll be dead in less than two minutes. With their head tilted back, pinch the nose, open the mouth and blow in two huge breaths. Bonus points: look at their chest. Make sure it's rising. Once air is moving in and out, take a closer look at the chest. Here's what to look for:

  • Is the chest open?
  • Is there a wound/hole?
  • Is it collapsed/caved in?
  • Are there Rice-Krispies (air) under the skin?
  • An unusual hollow sound when you tap with your fingers?
  • Is the wind-pipe (in their neck) shifted away to the other side?

These would suggest a pneumothorax (air outside the lung, but inside the chest). What to do:

  • The patient needs a chest tube. If that's outside your ability, and the patient is having a lot of difficulty breathing, you need to find another way to get the air out of the chest cavity, because it's putting pressure on the lungs. Keep in mind, if you have to do this, the patient is in trouble:

    • Use a big needle to suck it out. Here's how: Get some gloves on. Splash the chest with betadine and spread it around with some gauze. Get a big, long needle (at least 1 1/4" inch long) preferably with a catheter, and stick it in through the top of your chest muscle. Go straight in about 1.5 inches on a normal person. Keep the syringe on the needle and keep sucking out air while they breathe.
    • If that isn't working, here's your last option: make a small incision between the ribs. Here's how: find a space between the ribs just under the armpit in front of the lat muscle. Cut a one-inch incision parallel to the ribs, and using a clamp (or needle-nose pliers), push in, spread and repeat. Stay on the top side of the rib (instead of underneath where the blood vessels are). Don't be afraid to use your fingers. When you enter the chest, you'll feel a small pop and see air bubbles through the blood. Allow the pressurized air to come out and cover it with some vaseline gauze. Pray.

Circulation: If your own pulse is pounding, it's hard to feel the patient's pulse. Next time you go for a run (you do work out regularly, right?) practice feeling your pulse while you're running. That's about what it's like in a trauma. Check the neck. Check the wrist. Really simple: Is there a pulse? This is harder than it sounds. If the patient is cold, low on blood, wet, or thrashing around, and you're flooding adrenaline through your own veins, one of the harder things to do is say with confidence that something isn't there. Be sure. Remember: fast is slow, slow is fast. Relax. It's only life and death. If there is no pulse, start doing chest-compressions. Here's how:

  • Get the patient onto something solid - the ground, the kitchen table - not the bed, not the sofa. Something hard.
  • Find where their belly meets their ribs. In the middle, on the ribs, push down hard with the heels of your hands twice per second. Fast.
  • How hard? On an old person, you may be breaking ribs. On a young person, they'll feel like they got the ever-living crap kicked out of them. Don't try to hurt them, but do it fast. Push down hard. You will be sweating like a fat man in a cake shop.
  • Recent AHA guidelines recommend that you do 30 chest compressions, then two breaths. I agree. 30 fast compressions, 2 huge breaths, and repeat. You're breathing and pumping their heart for them. Don't skimp.

The other part of "C" - circulation - is checking for hemorrhage (bleeding). I talk about bleeding below, but here's the point: there's bleeding you see (dribbling out some hole), and bleeding you don't (internal). You want to keep both in mind and look for the signs of each (visible blood, fast/weak pulse, low blood pressure, a thigh or belly that's fuller than it should be, etc.).

What's next? Before we move on. Remember: ABC. Say it out loud. When your mind goes blank, A-B-C should enter it. If you remember nothing else, ABC.

There are two more letters after ABC. Not surprisingly, they are D and E. I separated them out because in my opinion, they are less applicable in a survival situation.

D is for Disability. Specifically, a neurologic evaluation. There is limited value to this (who is doing brain surgery on the back porch?) with one exception: triage. If a patient is flexing or extending their arms in a strange fashion, has no anal sphincter tone, doesn't respond to painful stimuli (pinch their finger/toe), or their pupils are very dilated (or one is), these are signs of serious neurologic injury. It may be useful in a survival situation to know that this patient is unlikely to recover.

E is for Environment. If possible, cut off the patient's clothes, and keep them warm in preparation for the secondary survey. Again, trauma patients get cold easily. Cover them with blankets and keep them warm.

A-B-C-D-E is the primary survey. It's quick and dirty and designed to address issues that might immediately kill the patient. Each step needs to be completed before moving onto the next. There's no point trying to work on breathing if the airway is blocked. After all five steps are competed, it's time to do a secondary survey.

The point of the secondary survey is to look for things that were missed, and to gather more information that might aid treatment. Examine the patient head-to-toe, front and back. Look under the arms, and between the legs. Many times on a patient (covered in blood) I've found another bullet or knife hole on secondary survey. Patients generally won't know where they are injured. When you roll the patient, do a "log-roll" where their head is rolled at the same time as their body. This should provide some protection in case they have a spinal fracture. Check their spine by pressing on each vertebrae for unusual tenderness. If they yelp, keep them on their back and don't let them sit up.

If at any time, the patient's condition deteriorates, abandon your secondary survey and restart your primary survey - A-B-C. Again, no matter what happens, no matter where you are, if something unexpected happens, don't think - just start doing ABC.

There are several common types of injury, and I will walk you through them:

Penetrating Trauma: Translation: you're bleeding. Bullet, knife, chainsaw - it doesn't matter. Nothing, and I mean nothing, stops bleeding like direct pressure. It's not fancy, but if you see blood, particularly on an extremity (arms, legs, head), lean on it, push your weight onto it with the heels of your hands or your fingers. If you're pressing hard enough, it should cut off the blood to your own fingers. You can stop any bleeding - including major arterial bleeds - with enough pressure. If it can't be stopped with pressure, it can't be stopped without operating.

No tourniquet, or other device - even a suture - is going to do the job in the first 3 minutes like you pushing down with everything you've got. The only reason you should ever even consider using a tourniquet is if you're in a firefight and need both hands for your rifle. Quikclot and other similar hemostatic powders are useless in a real trauma with brisk bleeding. We use them all the time in the O.R., but they have no place in a trauma. Use direct pressure every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Remember that a hard surface underneath makes everything easier.

When the bleeding slows, get lots of gauze (or your t-shirt) onto the wound and keep pressing down hard. You may need to hold it up to half an hour if you're all alone. If the patient stays awake and you've stopped the blood from flowing - you're doing it right.

Blunt Trauma: Without an ability to do imaging, or blood work, or a long experience doing physical exams, it's hard to know what's going on with blunt trauma. If there is a blast injury (explosion) all bets are off. Don't underestimate a blast injury. In many blunt traumas, but particularly blast injuries, there are lung injuries you can't see initially. This will cause the lungs to fill up with fluid and the patient will drown. If you have oxygen, some ability to use an airway, or diuretics (like ferosemide / lasix), this is the time. Otherwise, don't over-hydrate the patient if you suspect a lung injury (big chest bruising / gurgling / coughing up fluid).

For abdominal blunt trauma, here's what to consider: is the spleen or liver bleeding? What to look for:

  • Is there a big welt on the skin below the ribs?
  • Does the patient look pale and waxy?
  • Pulse stays over 110, or rises?
  • Blood pressure 100 or lower?
  • More pain in their belly than you think they should have?
  • Do they feel faint and thirsty?

These are signs of internal bleeding. The very best thing you can do for internal bleeding (assuming you don't have blood on hand) is to give IV fluids. Run in a couple of liters of normal saline or lactated ringers to start. Anybody who's not already in heart failure can tolerate 2 liters - don't be shy.

Keep the patient still. No moving or shifting around. You want the bleeding to clot off, and every time you move around, you risk starting it up again. Keep the patient warm. Cold patients have more trouble clotting.

If the patient gets worse, and passes out, and their pulse is weak, and their blood pressure drops to 80, they are bleeding to death.

Unless you're in the mood to operate with a butter-knife, you have to hope the bleeding stops on its own. That may sound like a negligible hope, but as their blood pressure drops, it makes it easier for the body to clot off the bleeding. It may be enough for them to survive.

If you have medical training and feel able, and the patient is hemodynamically unstable (is bleeding to death internally), you can take a shot at operating. Here's how: Take a deep breath. Never start surgery with a full bladder or a full trash can. Make a midline incision top to bottom and go around the belly-button. Go straight down through the fat to the fascia (that's the white, tough membrane that keeps your guts in). Stay in the midline. Pick up the fascia with some clamps, and ever so carefully make a little nick in it. Get your fingers in, lift it up, and cut between them. Don't hit the bowel. Only cut what you can see. There will be blood everywhere. Don't try to clean it up. Quickly reach way up high under the ribs on both sides and start packing the abdomen with towels. Pack up high all around, behind, and underneath the spleen and liver. Pack until you can't fit any more. You'll probably need 25-50 facecloth sized towels. If you can, count them as they are going in. I can't see a scenario where a non-medical person would do this and improve the outcome.

Fractures: This is too big a topic to handle in any depth. Here is what to keep in mind:

Hip (pelvic) fractures are a big deal because you can bleed internally from them. You can check the pelvis by pushing down from the front and feeling for instability.

Rib fractures are only a big deal if there is a big section of the chest wall that is moving independently from the rest, or if they have punctured the lung.

Extremity (arm and leg) fractures can compromise the blood flow to that limb. Make sure the broken limb has a pulse. On the arms, check the radial (thumb-side) of the wrist. On the legs, check both feet behind the medial malleolus (the bony-bump on the inside of the ankle), and on top of the foot (check your wrists and feet now to find the pulses if you like). Not everyone will have both foot pulses. But if there is a difference between left and right limbs on your patient, particularly if the limbs look different (color, swelling, temperature, etc.) you need to reduce the fracture quickly.

To reduce the fracture, you'll need to:

  • Pull it straight (away from the body) to line up the bone fragments, then
  • Have some type of support to keep it there (a splint)

Make sure you get your splint ready before you reduce the fracture. Depending on where the break is, you may need a lot of force. Do it once and do it right. Pull slowly and steadily - leaning back with your weight if necessary, but don't jerk. If you can wait until a second person is available to help you, that's better.

Keep in mind that in addition to being broken, the limb might be dislocated. If it's dislocated, you need to put in back in place (reduce it). Here's how:

  • For hips, they're usually a posterior dislocation. That means the foot and knee will be turned inwards. With the patient on his or her back, flex the hip then pull the knee forward (skyward). Have a second person hold the patient's hip down on the table - you need a lot of force to relocate a hip.
  • For knees, it's the kneecap that slides laterally (away from the midline). Bend the knee, push the kneecap up and back towards the midline and straighten the leg.
  • For shoulders, the key is to get the patient to relax the shoulder muscles. There are lots of ways to do this. Generally, the Kocher method has the highest success: with the arm bent at 90 degrees, gently rotate it outward until you feel a bit of resistance. Then bring the whole arm forward as far as possible and rotate it back inward.
  • For elbows, have one person hold the biceps, and the other pull the wrist while the arm is slightly bent.
  • For fingers, slide your thumb up the side of the finger that is sticking out, and push the digit away from the body. Pulling on it doesn't work very well because you make the tendons tighten around the bone.

Once you reduce a fracture, keep the traction (pull) on it, and stabilize it with a splint. Make sure the splint isn't cutting off the circulation by slipping your finger between the patient's skin and the split to check the tension. Then check the pulses again.

In some unusual cases, but particularly when there is a fracture, or a crush injury, you can get what's known as a "compartment syndrome." This means that pressure inside your calf or forearm is building up (from swelling or bleeding). The limb may go numb, pulses can disappear, get pale, and almost always you'll have a lot of pain when you move the ankle or wrist even a bit.

If this occurs in the context of a trauma, you may need to surgically cut open the limb to release the pressure. This sounds extreme, but if you don't, the pressure can kill the nerves and you'll lose function of the limb permanently.

To do it on the leg, you want to open 4-5 inches on the outside of the shin. For the forearm, do it on the inside of the forearm for most of its length. Keep in mind that it's not the skin you need to open - it's the white-gray, tough tissue called "fascia" that's under the skin, and under the fat. There are different compartments and it's theoretically advisable to open each. In practice, however, it's usually unnecessary. Don't go any deeper than the fascia, and don't do this unless you're sure - you're creating a large new wound with its own issues.

Burns: Burns are probably one of the more likely injuries in a survival situation. They are very common in the third-world. Open cooking fires, burning refuse, combustion-based illumination and heating, and improvised equipment all increase the chance that you'll get burned. I will not go into general burn-care here but rather I'll focus on addressing burns in the context of trauma. This usually involves a flash fire or explosion.

First, drag the person away from the fire and make sure the fire is under control. Take a close look at the patient. Go through your ABCs! Remember that they may have other injuries besides the burn. Here's the reality: for serious burns, there's often little you can do to help outside of having access to real medical care.

If there are burns around the head, mouth and airway, you should worry. Even if the patient is talking, the clock may be ticking. Any questions you have to ask, should be asked now. Don't wait. Not even an hour. Their airway or lungs may be burned, and without intubation and oxygen, death may be unavoidable.

If the burns are wide-spread, you're at risk early-on for fluid loss and electrolyte imbalances (dehydration). Keep burn patients warm and very well hydrated. If they aren't urinating, they need more fluid. Remember to use rehydration salts, not just water. IV fluids are best, but drink some pedialyte/gatorade if that's all you can do.

Infection risk comes later. At the first sign of infection, start some broad spectrum antibiotics (that have gram-negative coverage, such as ciprofloxacin or erythromycin). Give a tetanus vaccine if you have it. (You have your tetanus vaccine up to date, right? Dying from tetanus is horrible and ranks next to peeing on an electric fence for preventable ways to die).

For the wounds, initially just put some dry dressings on the wounds. They will ooze. Later, topical silver (e.g. silvadene) and vaseline gauze or xeroform are a good place to start for deep wounds that need debridement. Don't let them get too soupy. Give pain meds if you have them.

If the patient survives, handle the wound care (and contractures) the best you can. Pay close attention to circumferential burns (fingers, limbs, or chest). These may cut off the flow of blood, or make it difficult to breathe. If that's the case, you need to cut just enough through the burn scar to allow the tissues to move. You usually will not need to do this.

Initial wound care is covered well in the SurvivalBlog article "Wound Care: An Emergency Room Doctor's Perspective, by E.C.W., MD" . Burn wound care after the immediate trauma is a little different and would require a good deal of discussion, outside the scope of what I can cover here.

If you'd like to prepare to handle a trauma, here (in order of priority) is what you have on-hand that will make the most difference in changing the outcome:

  1. Bandages . Lots and lots of gauze and bandages. During a trauma, we use boxes and boxes of gauze. They don't need to be fancy - just have a lot of them. I'll add in here things like betadine (to clean) and saline (to irrigate), as well as gloves, tape, and linens.
  2. IVs and IV fluids. There are really only two reasons why life-expectancy in the developed world has doubled in the last century: Intravenous fluids and antibiotics. If you have the ability to keep (and rotate) some IV fluids and some large (18-20 gauge) IVs and lines, you are two steps ahead of anyone else. Whether it's a trauma or a viral pandemic, the most important thing (sometimes the only thing) you can do is give IV fluids.
  3. Oxygen. A small home oxygen tank with a bag-mask buys you a lot. Any type of respiratory problem gets better with oxygen. If you add an LMA (laryngeal mask airway - a device that anybody can use to secure an airway) you are really cooking. Speaking of cooking - keep it away from combustion sources.
  4. Splints. Plaster, fiberglass, aluminum finger splints, slings, crutches are all great to have. You need to splint or cast most broken bones.
  5. A blood pressure cuff. You can figure out someone's pulse or respiratory rate with your hands and eyes, but you need a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope to know what their pressure is. Throw in a thermometer and you're half-way to being a hospital.

In summary, if there's a trauma, follow your A-B-Cs. Put pressure on bleeding, don't move blunt traumas, reduce fractures and make sure the limb is getting blood, and pay close attention to burn patients. Walk through a trauma with your family and put each other on the spot to see how you'd actually react. One day you may need it. And remember, when your brain goes empty - A. B. C.

I’m an average, middle-aged guy: happily married, devoted father; active member of my community and church; and am blessed to have a good job that I enjoy.  I’ve been prepping for about 15 years and, despite a tendency to tinker with our plans, am well-prepped.  But, I’m now worrying about our plans.  I didn’t worry about them before but, late last October, I started to worry.  A lot.  This is why:
Our Survival Group tries to get together regularly to practice and train, but, we hadn’t done a Group Practice (GP) for a couple of years.  This past October we had a GP, where, unfortunately, it became obvious that we no longer work well together.   This is because we have gotten--as uncomfortable as it is to admit--fatter and are no longer “in good shape”.
I’m 6’0” tall and weigh 246 pounds; I have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 28.  That means I am overweight and need to “lose a few pounds.”  That is a nice way of saying it.  Another way of saying it is that I carry 42 pounds of fat on me.  That is equal to an 8 year old child!  I should lose more than “a few pounds.” 
Remember when I said I was average?  Well, I lied; I’m actually below average. Many people my age are much fatter!  The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has reported that almost 40% of us are obese (meaning that at least 50% of our bodyweight is fat) http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has a handy BMI Chart http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/bmi_tbl.htm to help you get a rough idea of your BMI, but you must see your doctor to get an accurate measurement. BMI charts don’t factor your build and that affects your score.  Body Fat Percentage is also another important measure.  I used a US Navy-based formula to calculate my 42 very hug-able, but problematic, pounds of fat   http://www.bmi-calculator.net/body-fat-calculator/
Not surprisingly, being out of shape affected our performance in the GP.  I was shocked by how much we could not do, properly and safely, over sustained periods of time.  On the 2nd night of our GP, with aching muscles coated in A535 and drifting into a pain pill induced slumber, it occurred to me that tomorrow I would not be able to work very well, if at all.  Given that our pain medication and A535 supply was quickly being used up, I realized I was not alone.   Worse, I was shocked to discover that, because I was so sore, I did not want to work; I only wanted to find a cozy spot to lie down; I wanted to give up.

What if none of us could work the next day, or, the day after that?  What if one of us got injured—muscle tear, ligament pull, simple wear and tear, or worse—simply because we were tired and made a mistake?  What if one or two of us gave up and simply stopped working altogether?  In survival situations, not being able to do hard physical work, properly and safely, over sustained periods of time can be disastrous; not wanting to work or giving up the will to keep going, can be worse.  

I remembered what it was like after the Ice Storm of 1998--which caused power outages in much of Eastern Canada for almost three weeks in the middle of January; I also remembered the Christchurch Earthquake in 2010—a 7.1 that left a city and region in New Zealand devastated for weeks.  My shock turned into alarm.

During both The Ice Storm and The Christchurch Earthquake, people died or suffered terribly simply because they were not physically fit enough to walk several miles to safety; to carry basic survival gear for that distance; to carry 5 gallons of water back to their families; or to gather enough wood to make and keep a fire burning for a few days.  This happened despite the fact that, in both of these events, the government and society at large, continued to operate properly and sought to provide help.  

WTSHTF or post-TEOTWAWKI, government and society will not operate properly.   We have to be able to help ourselves.   But, the amount of hard, physical work that must be done in a survival situation is astonishing.  Did you have coffee this morning?  For me, the hardest part about that was counting the scoops of coffee!  Did I have to chop and carry wood?  Carry water?  Start a fire?  No. And, that is just the beginning.

One of the hardest parts of prepping is thinking realistically about what we need to G.O.O.D. and survive WTSHTF/post-TEOTWAWKI.  As preppers, we do can readily do that with regard to our gear and skills.  I suspect it is going to be harder though, to be realistic about our weight and fitness levels.  I believe there are two reasons for this: first, we are gear dependent and believe our gear will save us, so most think our current fitness level will suffice; and second, because almost everyone we see has similar fitness levels, so our fitness level seems “normal”. 
What is your most important tool when G.O.O.D. or post-TEOTWAWKI:  Axe?  Knife?  Gun?  Fire starter?   Water purifier?  Answer: None of the above.  If you are too hurt; injured; exhausted; or sore, after a few hours’ hard work that you cannot do anything but lay down, tools do not matter.  Therefore, your most important tool is you: your mind and body; your ability and willingness to do hard work. 
Equally important in a G.O.O.D./post-TEOTWAWKI situation is the mental and emotional stress you will be under.  This aspect of it did not emerge in our GP because everyone knew that this was a “practice;” it was not “real”.  But, it certainly emerged after The Ice Storm and The Christchurch Earthquake. 
Doing anything under pressure is very difficult; doing it when you are sore; exhausted; dealing with minor injuries; frustrated or angry at how your day is going; hungry, thirsty; or desperate, is virtually impossible.   Worse, it is discouraging and erodes confidence rapidly.  In Canada and New Zealand, I heard people say: “This is too hard!”  “I’m too tired to do this!”  “It hurts too much when I do this!”  This quickly changed to “This is hopeless…”  “Don’t even bother…” “It doesn’t matter…”  Once despair sets in, people often give up hope, and then it is very difficult to survive. 
This combination of physical exhaustion and psycho-emotional surrender can be deadly in survival situations.  And, in Canada and New Zealand, people did suffer and did die.
I believe the best way to maximize your chances in a G.O.O.D./TEOTWAWKI is to think about your body as a tool.  The simple fact is that a tool needs to be maintained.   That is what the next part of this will be about: maintaining the tool. 
There are numerous reasons why we put on weight and get out of shape; those reasons do not matter now.  Quick question: How do those reasons stack up against the need to survive when G.O.O.D./post-TEOTWAWKI?  We need to be realistic about this.  The reasons we are overweight do not matter now. 
There are no gimmicks to what I am about to propose; no quick fixes.  You prep following a step-by-step plan and worked hard at it.  That is what you will have to do to lose weight and get back in shape; to maintain the most important tool you have. 
In a G.O.O.D./post-TEOTWAWKI world everyone you are with will have to do hard work for extended periods of time.  Therefore, you will need to be stronger, more flexible, and have greater cardio-pulmonary capacity than the average North American does now. 
Picture this: 
You have settled into your retreat.  Your stockpiles are starting to dwindle.  You’ve decided that today you will get firewood.  Cut down trees, cut off the limbs, cut the log into pieces to fit your stove, split it into actual firewood, bring it all back to your wood storage area, and pile it.  By hand.  Perhaps you will be assisted by your team of horses and wagon.  But it will all be done by hand.  Chainsaws and trucks make a lot of noise which can attract those you might want to keep away.  Even if you use these tools, you will be lifting and bending and working hard.  Doing this work, will take you most of the day.  And, when you return home, evening chores await.  Since all heating and cooking will likely be done with firewood, you’ll be getting firewood again.  And often.
Or this:

Your G.O.O.D. plans have encountered a snag: all exit roads from your residence are clogged with traffic jams and now you have to hike to your retreat.  Since you have prepped well, you know a couple of good routes to take and what gear to bring.  Your group begins to walk, carrying 20 – 40 pounds each, for miles.   At the end of the day, everyone is bone tired, sore.  Fortunately, the terrain, weather and circumstances are favorable, and you are only dealing with blisters, chafing, and other minor hurts.  You’ve made good progress but have only covered a portion of the distance to your retreat.  The next few days will be spent doing the same thing: walking; many miles, all day long. 

Can you do the work described above?  The sobering reality is that many cannot.  To prepare for this level of work, you must train your body to do hard, repetitive work; and, you must train your mind to do tedious work over time.   
Step 1: See your doctor and get a complete physical.  You need to know what the facts are regarding your body (your BMI for example), specifically, what kinds of exercise and dietary changes are safe for you.  Follow your doctor’s advice.
Step 2: What are your short and long-term goals?  When developing your goals, I’d suggest you remember that when G.O.O.D. or post-TEOTWAWKI, you will need to perform arduous, sometimes tedious tasks, for long periods of time.  Your goals should be to get into good enough physical and mental shape to do that.  This is not about doing a certain number of push-ups or looking good on a beach (so forget those glossy magazines).  You want to attain a moderately high level of functional fitness so that you can do hard physical work all day long.
Step 3: Find a diet and exercise plan that is simple and easy to follow.  I would suggest plans that allow you to start small, integrating the new regime into your lifestyle with minimal disruption but maximal positive effect.  One is provided here.  Numerous others exist.
Step 4:  Record your results.

Steps 1 and 4 are self-explanatory.  Steps 2 and 3 are the focus of the rest of this piece.

No matter what exercise program you pick, your short-term goal should not be to increase your strength and your cardio to a certain point. 
Your short-term goal should be to find an exercise program and follow it for 21 days straight; do it every day.  If you do that, you will be stronger, more flexible, and have greater cardio capacity.  Moreover, if you do something for 21 days in a row, you will have created a habit and begun the process of inuring your body and mind to hard repetitive work.  Sticking with that program over time will only increase your physical capacities and improve your mental toughness. 
However, choosing a plan is no easy task.  The market is full of them.  Might I recommend a plan that is simple, easy to follow, easy to incorporate into your lifestyle.  How does a plan that requires 11 minutes a day sound?

I recommend the 5BX Plan developed by Bill Orban in the 1950s for the Royal Canadian Air Force (later adopted by a number of Air Forces around the world including the USAF).  It is based on 5 Basic Exercises and uses 6 age-based charts arranged in a progression so your fitness improves over time.  The five exercises include warm-up and stretching exercises.  You perform the exercises in the same order every time for a maximum of 11 minutes each session. The theory behind this program is that the intensity of exercise yields better results than the duration of the session.  It works and many elite athletes now use this approach in their training.

Numerous resources can be found about this topic, but here is one that is appropriate for most of us.
Exercise, alone, will not help you burn fat.  The following table shows you how many calories the average person burns if they do these activities for 60 continuous minutes

















If you eat any of these items, this is about how many calories you will ingest:

Tasty Treat


Peanut butter sandwich


Pizza (3 slices)


Big Mac




So, you need to change your diet as well.  But don’t do it right away.  Start your exercise program and 14 days later you will have noticed your appetite has changed somewhat: you may eat less and you might not want to eat the same kinds of food any longer.  Now your body is ready for dietary changes.  Before making any dietary changes, however, consult your doctor and follow your doctor’s advice regarding any and all dietary changes you want to make.  If you have any kind of medical condition, whatsoever, follow your doctor’s advice regarding what dietary changes you should make.
When making dietary changes, look at the palm of your hand.  Whatever size it is, that is a portion size for you.  Eat a balanced, sensible diet: have a portion of protein, starch and vegetables every meal.  If you need or want a snack, eat half a portion of something you ate for the previous meal or will eat the next meal.  The best sources of these items are from food that is raw or uncooked when you buy it and then you have to cook/prepare it.  This also takes work.

Resources that can help you in this effort include:  Canada’s Food Guide and the US Dietary Guidelines.

Just as with everything else in prepping, the most important thing is to develop a plan, implement the plan, and keep at it.  Good luck to you all.
Epilogue: The preceding was written in early December 2011; I decided to “eat my cooking” and followed this program.  Now it is June 2012. 
Six months later--including the Christmas Holidays when I completely ignored my new diet and 5BX (no excuse, but I enjoyed it)--I now weigh 218 pounds.  My BMI will always be high because I have a big build (46” chest; 38” waist), but my body fat percentage has dropped to 13 percent.  Still high, but, I feel better now.  Also, I have finished 3 days of hard, tedious physical work on my hobby farm and feel great!  More importantly, I am now much better prepared to do the work I will need to do in G.O.O.D. or post-TEOTWAWKI situations.
Just 11 minutes of exercise per day, while eating better food.  Maintain “The Tool.” 

Hello James,

We had a hurricane watch here in Long Island, New York today, and I raced home with my kids relaxed, knowing we had food and water for a month minimum. That is because of your blog. 

I was thrilled to read Jean's article on how to make a quilt. My mother is a master quilter. I am writing to let people know that dryer lint is an excellent quilt filler. If you hang you out your clothes, terrific! But if you use a dryer, do what I do, and put your dryer lint aside in a bag. You can use your long strips of dryer ling as quilt filling. But you can also use it as a last ditch cotton swab (dryer lint is mostly cotton, with some polyester and hair. It is made of whatever fibers your clothing are), and as a fire starter. Just shove some dryer lint into a toilet paper tube, and melt the drip from old birthday candles on each end, and you have a terrific fire starter. iI store mine in freezer bags. One thing I would add about the quilting is that is is best to use a combo cotton/poly thread. Pure cotton thread will shrink with each washing, and create a clumped quilt after time. Also, discarded tube socks are a great filler layer. Just cut off the tops, baste them together, and you have filler! - K.O.L.

Reader C.S. wrote to note that Smith & Wesson stock was up 214% in the past 12 months. Well, at least BHO can say that he personally revitalized one sector of the economy.

White House projects $1.2 trillion deficit, lower economic growth in 2012. (Thanks to SurvivalBlog's G.G., for the link.)

At least three banks seen central to Libor rigging

Items from The Economatrix:

Gold And Silver in Deflation

Mainstream Media Recovery Hoax

Oil Trades Near Week High On Euro Pledge, US Economic Outlook

Jim Sinclair:  The System Here And There Is Totally Broken

James C. recommended this video: All about wells - The Bailer Bucket. (Well buckets are available from Ready Made Resources, Lehman's, and many other online vendors.)

   o o o

Reader M.P. forwarded an article that uncovers blatant state-sponsored genocide: 'Match Battalion' torch village: "These men are part of the Sudanese army". Please pray for Sudan and South Sudan. In particular, please pray that the citizenry of South Sudan get the small arms and training that they need to defend themselves from Islamist aggression from Sudan.

   o o o

Emily Miller: Dispelling gun myths

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Papa Papa sent us this good news: Maryland concealed carry law struck down. A “good and substantial reason” is no longer needed to justify getting a permit.

   o o o

Eric J. suggested that this news might have serious implications for anyone who is planning to Escape From New York in days of deep drama: A Traffic Nightmare Like No Other On Long Island’s East End. Eric notes that it was just one car caused a seven-hour backup!

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." - John 1:29-34(KJV)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I just learned that Jerry Ahern passed away on Tuesday. (July 24, 2012.) He will ne remembered as a novelist, firearms expert, holster designer, and a former CEO of Detonics. He was a prolific writer, best known for his 29-volume series The Survivalist. A memorial service will be held in Jefferson, Georgia on a date yet to be determined. Once again, cancer has robbed us all. He will be greatly missed. Our sincere condolences to his widow, Sharon. Condolence notes can be left online. (Scroll down to the Jerry Ahern link.)


Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st and the queue is full, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 42. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We are never completely prepared, we either are unprepared, or prepared to some degree. So I want to review the past year and see what or how far I’ve come. For those new to the game, they can find it a bit overwhelming, and do little to nothing to prepare. Then there are those that are part time preppers and those that are full time preppers. I fall into the former, but a meeting with some friends 8 months ago re-ignited the drive it takes to prepare. So my one-year odyssey in review.

First order of business is get your family onboard, and perhaps those you want to include in a group, but foremost your family, and don’t just say tings are bad, show them some of the articles you have found on the dollar collapse, EMP, etc, the real reasons you feel the need to prepare, if they are with you it just got a lot easier.

Second get organized, what do you already have? This will save you a lot of money in the long run, as you are less likely to duplicate items.

Next is your plan to bug out, or stay in place. If you are bugging out do you have a location that you can cache some of your gear and foodstuffs, or are you going with what you can haul?  If that is the case, figure out what you can haul in one trip. There is no sense in buying 50 cases of MREs if you only car is a Geo Metro it won’t fit. If you do not have a specific location to bug-out to, I’d strongly urge to plan to stay in place and make the best of it.

Next if you are new to this, start small, plan for 3 days, then 10 days, then 30 days, then 3 months and so forth.
For me my retreat is where I live, I’m not in the American Redoubt, but in the Midwest. My property is in the country, and I’m about 15 miles from the nearest city, (population about 14,000) would I like a retreat further out? Yes, but it is not going to happen I simply can’t afford to move.

I’m an avid shooter, and already have arms, ammo, a lot of ammo, and all the gear that goes with it. I was a bit light in the Battle Rifle category so I sold a few handguns to purchase an M1 Garand (I already had about 2,000 rounds of .30-06 ammo, so it made sense) and an FN-FAL, I had planned on two PTR91s (HK91 clones) but the FAL came along at a price I couldn’t ignore, the seller wanted $650, and admitted the gun wouldn’t cycle. So when I inspected it I found the gas plug installed upside down, I offered $600 and he took it I went home and reinstalled the plug properly and it cycles fine. I also managed a trade of a 1911 for a used PTR91. HK magazines are currently selling at unbelievably low prices.

If you are new to this I’d suggest a 12 gauge pump shotgun to start, and there are a lot of affordable guns out there, even a .22 rifle, and a lot of ammo should be considered. I’ve studied criminal behavior and the majority will be looking for soft targets, and when the SHTF there will be plenty, usually no one stands around and asks what caliber is that?, when you drop the hammer.

Yes there is a lot of cool accessories out there, but paying more attention to the more mundane things in life will go a lot further in insuring your survival. Watch those big box stores for seasonal closeouts, do a lot of shopping, (not buying) keep notes and get the biggest bang for your buck you can. Of further note the biggest of the “Big Box” stores is now selling AR-15s in a lot of locations, at much lower prices than you’ll find at a regular gun shop. I have seen SIG-Sauer, Bushmaster, and Colt.
Remember that it is not the gun that wins the fight it is your training and willingness that win the fight.

 I have a propane fired generator, in the 10-Kw range, and a 500 gallon propane tank I put it in 5 years ago, after a two day outage and a the loss of a lot of food. You might see these advertised as “whole house” generators but that is really stretching it, you need to get around at least a 17Kw for an average size house. Of course any generator is likely only going to be good for a short period, for once the fuel is gone that’s it.

I am a self employed firearms instructor, so for me most weeks I have no idea what my income will be until class starts. Some weeks I make $125 before expenses, and some I can much more, so in 2011, I earned the princely sum of less than $10,000 before taxes. So my income is   less than half of the other individuals in my group.

If you have a known income, even small you can prep, I so often hear people saying they would like to, but can’t afford to, and that in a word is denial, and if you live in denial it will cost you when the time comes.

My last effort at full scale prepping had been in 1999 with the dire warnings of Y2K, which did not materialize. So after a meeting a year ago, I started my prepping with research, planning and organizing. The gathering begins after the first 3 steps are met, but not completed

Now once you organize things you already have, you start research, and this is vital, you can run helter-skelter and buy a bunch of stuff, but you may have more wants than needs when you are done. Focus on want you need, and if you have less you need to have intensified focus

 I first read Patriots, by James Rawles, then dug out my copy of the “How to Survive the End of the World as we Know it” by the same writer. I also went to the internet and checked a lot of the prepping web sites, making notes to links of free information. It ranged from Military manuals, the LDS Preparedness Manual to articles on how to milk goats.

I also referred to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Think on this one. Have you thought this one through? Are you prepared in each category?
First Aid

While the research continues every day, I began planning...

I started making lists, and I began to shop, note I did not say buy, but shop I have a limited quirky income so I can’t afford to just throw money at things. In the planning stage you have to think things through, and play what if in your planning.

For instance water, 18 years ago my shallow well pump died, and for need of water I found a small pump I could attach to a cordless drill, attach a hose to each end of the pump and I could draw water, so if the grid is down how do I keep the drill charged?, which lead to a power pack and a small solar charger being added to the list.
The lists will grow every day; make at least a mental note of what you use every day, from toilet paper to food, and think how much of this will I need to get through uncertain times of unknown length? In the planning stage do not focus on any single category above; you have to address each category as you go. If you focus on food, and not security someone can take your food, and if you focus on security you can starve behind a well fortified wall.

The preparations have to be a multi-prong effort, and you need to give yourself some leeway if you are on a budget, that while in the pursuit of certain items, you run across a deal on something else you get it instead.  I’ve seen here on the internet some preppers that focus on one subject at a time, then move on to another chapter, this could lead to imbalance. I know one lady who has been solely focused on medical and first aid, and has spend a lot of her resources on items to fill those needs, I explained to her this is stuff you might need, but no matter what happens you will be hungry, If she had spent half of her money on food supplies she would still have enough to outfit an EMS team. Not real sure how good band aids taste, although she may be able to barter.
Also pay close attention to the mundane items like socks and Q-Tips. Yeah I know night vision and body armor is a lot more cool, but feeling like you have a bug in your ear and suffering foot rot is more likely to really happen. How about laundry? Check out some of the low cost items RVers use. Take a close look at what you consume and try to make sure those needs are met
Also for the budget minded think used instead of new

Bugging in or bugging out?  My plan is for staying put, and here is where the group will gather, so in that regard those coming here are bringing supplies here, so space is a problem, and I continue to work on getting more space to store buckets, bullets and Band-Aids
I’ve made a considerable investment in adjustable wire mesh shelving units, I did wait till they were on sale, and bought them as need arose but in the past 12 months bought  19 sets at $40 bucks a set. But it allows me access to items without un-stacking stuff to get the container on the bottom.
Also it pays to keep inventory of what you have, and not just what you want, it is easy to use excel  and simply update as you add items, once a month I print them out, and review them  looking for what I need to balance things out.
In all keeping organized with proper planning and research will help you stay focused on what you need to get done, rather than an aimless quest unsure of your destination.

So in a nutshell with less than $10,000 income, and cashing a useless IRA of less than $8,000 where am I, 12 months later? I have enough stored food to feed 8 for a year, (a mix of store bought, dehydrated, #10 cans and bulk) I have 200 feet of garden fencing the mix of garden tools rain barrels and heirloom seeds to start a garden, started a small raised bed garden with hybrid seeds, and will save the heirlooms, for later.

I have several rolls of barbed wire for security, a few hundred sandbags, and a truckload of sand I have some solar around 200 watts worth plus connections wiring controllers several 2 way radios, four Swedish field phones, a solar powered base station and a couple of emergency radios, I also have four portable power packs that I can plug into,
3 kerosene heaters and around 90 gallons of kerosene, a camping oven stove combo, and 2 camp stoves, 60 cans of propane.100 lbs of charcoal, Pressure canner and jars etc, a food saver and a dehydrator, cast iron cookware, meat grinder, grain mill about 200 lbs of medical supplies, and the training to use it all.
1000 batteries from AAA to D cell, half dozen sleeping bags, rope bungee straps, come-alongs axes 3 chainsaws one gas powered and 2 cordless Black and Decker, for a cordless tool by the time the batteries run down so do I and they are pretty quiet, and log chains, crow bars, bolt cutters, nails, boots to blades, packs, webbing, magazine pouches etc.

I even acquired about 80 ounces of silver, in pre-1965 coins, there was no sense in just leaving the money in the IRA, and stocking up on Nickels
I also invested in a small trailer; it made it a lot easier to haul a lot of the bulky items
It came in handy when I hauled in over a ton of compost, peat moss, and lumber for the raised bed gardening, also several hundred cement blocks, to build defensive fighting positions  

I’m planting evergreens and hedges to help hide the property; although with the recent drought we have had they will need to be replanted.  I’m 1,000 feet from the nearest road, and prefer to be hidden and just let those that use the road pass by, it does reduce are fields of fire somewhat, but will also lower the chances of having to use those fields of fire, which is better all the way around.
I think the key to getting what I needed was I spent a lot of time planning and looking and little time buying; I worked hard at finding the best deal for my money. So if you don’t have money, spend time.
I’m not as prepared as those in the novel "Patriots", but I’m way ahead of those in "Survivors."

I’m writing this article to encourage you, if you’re in a similar situation as I am.  I may be writing it also, to encourage myself.  I want to say that it is possible to prepare for emergencies to some extent, even if you aren’t exactly doing it as a team.  I will share some of my story in order to give you some ideas.

I am a happily-married woman living with a wonderful husband and my four children in a Midwestern state, in a town of less than 5000.  I have been increasingly concerned about an economic collapse, and have been educating myself about preparedness in the last 2 years.  My husband is not happy with the way the country is going, but also isn’t willing to “over-react”, or get “paranoid”.  As a christian woman, I believe that it is my responsibility to submit to my husband with a good attitude, but also my responsibility to see to the needs of my household.  How do I balance that all out?
First, I trust in God.  He has never failed us.  As we have honored Him, and given Him the first fruits of our income, He has always taken care of us.  For example, 3 ½ years ago, we became convinced that God’s will was for us to try to become debt free.  We prayed that somehow God would provide a way for us to become debt-free.  Little did we know that within 6 months, my husband’s job in a large metropolitan area would end and we would sell our house for $30,000 less than we had into it, but still pay off our mortgage.  He would end up, not in his profession, but rather working 5 part-time jobs, and we would buy a foreclosed house in a rural area that needed some work.  After all of the difficulty we’ve had, we are now debt-free in a nice house, in rural America.  God’s ways are definitely not ours!

Secondly, don’t discount the assets you have or want, as something your spouse would automatically reject.  We have a lot of great camping gear that my husband loves.  I suggested a few additions that he has enthusiastically embraced, such as a Dutch oven.  This summer, we used it for every meal on our camping trip in order to really get the hang of it, and I made sure to include meals he likes.  A few of the other  things I’ve  gotten are a couple of flashlights that can work on a hand-crank charge (almost free after a Menard's rebate),  a solar heated hanging “shower” for camping ($1 at a rummage sale),  a lantern that works on a hand crank, and a charcoal starter.  The addition I’m most excited about is our sand-point well. It turns out that this little town has very high sewer rates, thanks to a large new sewage treatment plant which was built recently, anticipating a housing boom that didn’t happen. The sewer charge is calculated off our water use.  It’s nothing to get a $400 quarterly water/sewer bill, so my husband was willing to put in a backyard well so we could wash the vehicle, and water the garden without city water.  It cost about $400 or $500 including the permits, equipment, and 1 afternoon rental of a jackhammer.  Although it runs on electricity now, he was agreeable to spend $40 to get the hand pump attachment and store it for an emergency.

If your husband has any interests that line up with preparedness skills, then encourage him.  My husband is a hunter, and fisherman, so I am very supportive.  We usually discuss purchases together, and if he brings up an interest in purchasing any “hunting equipment”, fishing tackle, etc., I say, “Go for it”.  When we have the money for a conceal carry class, I’ll support his interest.  When he expressed an interest in my pickling his fish, I did it, even though I dislike pickled fish.  He was willing to build me the square food garden boxes I asked for, so I will be willing to can all the tomatoes and salsa he wants.  I don’t complain about all of the venison we eat.  Although my husband isn’t willing for me to tear up any more of our small lawn for a larger garden, he IS willing to tear up some lawn in order to put in a raspberry patch.  I’ll take what I can get. 

I have been keeping an eye out for preparedness books at rummage sales, GoodWill,  and library sales.  So far, I’ve spent less than $20 to get:  “The PDR Pocket Guide to Prescription Drugs “ (includes dosages), Where There Is No Doctor edited by Dr. David Werner, Making the Best of Basics - Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens, “12 Month Harvest”,  “Home Canning”, and a 20 volume set called “The Creative Workshop”.  I also used my Christmas money from my mother-in-law to get "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It",  “The Urban Homestead”, “Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs”, and “The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do To Ready Your Home For a Disaster”.  (I definitely didn’t tell my mother-in-law which books I bought with her gift.  She would think I had cracked up.)

Other rummage sale finds include a vacuum-sealer, and a box of canning jars.  I picked up a set of solar pathway lights for half-price last week, and have gotten several used food-grade buckets from the bakery dept. of our grocery store.  That is how their frosting is delivered, so I got them for $.50 each just for asking, and just had to wash them out.

One piece of advice; for what it’s worth.  Don’t go for everything you want all at once.  Two years ago, I talked him into buying a six month supply of dehydrated food from Augason Farms.  This was a very big purchase for us.  We tucked it away.  This winter, I approached my husband asking for a one -month supply of more accessible, “normal” food such as canned goods, and he was fine with that. I had been concerned that the one of our children with multiple serious food allergies would not have any protein that he could safely have from that 6 month supply we had purchased.  Soy, beans/peas, and nuts were out of the question, so I needed canned meat/seafood.   If there was a dire need, that child could eat protein from the new stuff for 6 months, and the other 5 of us could eat the other proteins.  Because of our finances, it has taken 6 months to gradually buy enough additional food to feed 6 people for a month.  I just finished this week, and it feels great! The next step is to get a rotation system in place for those foods.  I keep the food stored out of sight, (out of mind) so that my husband isn’t constantly reminded of how much money we’ve spent. J Also, the kids aren’t as likely to blab about it if they don’t see it.

My plan now is to focus on learning skills.  I got a pressure canner for Christmas, and have started teaching myself how to use it comfortably.  I also plan to learn to make bread without my breadmaker.  Perhaps I’ll try sourdough bread, or yogurt.   Other goals are to organize car emergency kits, research and plan for updating first-aid kits, and to make a wish list of things to keep an eye out for at end-of-season sales, or rummage sales.

As an aside, don’t forget that you may already have more food available than you think in your cupboards, and freezer.  I tend to forget to count the food that’s on our shelves, and in our freezer, but of course that would be the first food we would use up. 

Finally, there may be some preparations that you would like to make, that your husband doesn’t agree to.  In my case, it’s a woodstove.  My thought is, “It would keep us from freezing.” His thought is, “No, because it would aggravate two kids’ asthma, and also aggravate a dry- eye condition I have.”  What I have decided to do is forget about it.  If it came down to it, my husband, with God’s help, would figure something out.  God’s Word clearly tells me not to worry, so I choose to let it go.  I’m at peace, even though there’s a big question mark in the area of heat.

Anyway, my point is, don’t get discouraged.  No matter how much you can do, it’s more than the average citizen is doing, and your family will be better off for it.  Just trust God.  He knows your husband, and gave him to you.  If you are honest and have the right attitude and motives, your husband will be able to trust you.  He may not always agree with you, but it’s better to be partially prepared to struggle through TEOTWAWKI while happily married to your best friend, than to be fully prepared to survive TEOTWAWKI in a miserable, resentful marriage.  Our children learn how to honor and respect their future spouses, by watching how we honor and respect their Dad.  It is a legacy to pass on that will be a blessing to them all of their lives.

Good Day James,
I have been a daily reader of your blog for who knows how long and enjoy it everyday. I am not an electrician, but I did check with a good friend who has his PhD in electrical engineering. Should him this paraphrase of D.P.'s post regarding System building note and he said: "Bull." Per the National Electrical code Article 250 on grounding, "You'd- Better ground your system" if something happens to him or his house regardless of how he is powering it (solar, grid tie in, wind, et cetera) if a  fire or electrocution happens to him or someone else he will not be covered by insurance. And if for some reason someone dies, well then I would hate to see what happens. Just a word of caution to your other readers. - The Boondocks

Reading Living with Photovoltaic Power by D.P. he mentions how his laptop power consumption is high, and suggest a tablet. While I agree a tablet is a great low-power solutions, there are a few key things that can make laptops consume substantially less power:

1. Put in an SSD drive.

A solid state drive (SSD) is a hard drive equivalent with no moving parts. That means no motor spinning metal plates at 4,000-7,000 rpm. They are becoming quite popular and their price is coming down. I recently put one in my wife's laptop, and not only does it run notably faster (there is no seek time for physical magnetic needles, because there aren't any) but she also thought I put in a new battery because she got so much more life out of it. Of course I didn't replace the battery. The SSD consumes significantly less power.

2. Avoid processor-intensive operations.

Running a web browser or word processor requires an almost negligible amount of processing on modern computers. Games that involve a 3D environment eat a massive amount of power as evidenced by your laptop trying to burn a hole in your lap. This can also apply to useful programs like Google Earth. Obviously if you avoid the programs that tax the processor power consumption will be significantly lower.

3. Keep your screen at it's dimmest setting

I recommend doing most of your computer time at night, so that you can run your screen at it's dimmest setting. Don't try this during the day, unless you have a dark room, or you'll go crazy. At night a dimmed screen is very bright, and the power consumption is significantly less.

I don't have hard numbers, but taking these steps will likely at least halve the laptop's power consumption. - J.D.D.

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions. I'd like to add that if your laptop is equipped with a wireless Internet card, then turn it off. That also draws substantial current.

"Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles."  - Proverbs 21:23 (KJV)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Today is the 68th anniversary of the end of the battle on the Vercors Plateau, and the sad end of the short-lived Republic of Vercors. (July, 1944.) No fewer than 600 Maquisards were killed there by the Germans and by their Milice lackeys. Much like at the Battle of Glières a few months earlier, the Vercors Plateau was well-defended by the Maquis. At Vercors, rooting out the resistance defenders required the use of some seasoned paratroops, inserted by glider.

It is noteworthy that a surprisingly small percentage of the French population (about 2%) was actively in the resistance. (That figure according to historian Robert Paxton.) They were in fact vastly out-numbered by collaborators. But if you listen to their bragging children and grandchildren, you would think that the ratio was reversed. The national false memory in France of widespread resistance somehow reminds me of Woody Allen's Schmeed Memoirs ("Hitler's Barber"), on a grand scale. ("Once, toward the end of the war, I did contemplate loosening the Fuehrer’s neck-napkin and allowing some tiny hairs to get down his back, but at the last minute my nerve failed me.")


We are in need of some more recipes to feature as SurvivalBlog Recipes of the Week. Please e-mail us your favorite recipe. Thanks!


Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Quilters tend to be perfectionists.  However, quilts have been used to keep our poorly-furred bodies warm for centuries.  When you just need warmth, and not a perfectly crafted heirloom, a quilt is just the ticket.  Utility quilts can be made from discarded items around the home, as long as you have a needle and some thread.  A quilt is merely 3 layers, fabric/insulation/fabric, stitched together to keep you warmer.  In a perfect world we all have our Wiggy's, but in a real-life situation, especially with the economy these days, that perfect scenario may just not be possible.  Also, remember that we will always be surrounded by folks who have not prepared as well as we have.  My grandmother told me that during the depression, she and her friends would frequently get together and make a quilt for a neighbor who was sick.  Knowing how to make a utility quilt is a good way to help out with a low budget. 

In the "old days," quilts were highly valued, often being listed in the inventory of homes in early America and Europe.  In the days before abundant fossil fuels, people knew that the warmer they could stay at night, the less fuel they would require to heat their homes.  A few quilts on top of you, and a feather bed underneath, and you had luxury.  Also, the elder women, who could no longer work in the fields, could make simple quilts and contribute to the family welfare, especially if there were children around with good eyesight to thread the needles for them.

"Quilting" is actually the process of stitching the various layers together to make one thing.  Quilting is not creating the top of scraps, it is the part where you put the layers together and stitch them to hold them into a useable object.  For instance, the knights of old wore quilted doublets, garments fashioned together in layers to protect the upper body.  The "quilting" was the process of putting the layers together and stitching so that they stayed together, and the insulation stayed put.  People today tend to think of quilts being complicated affairs of designed colors blended into a beautiful top, but actually there are many beautiful quilts made from a solid piece of cloth, called whole-cloth quilts.

First thing you need is some kind of fabric for the top layer, or "top."  When the word "quilt" is mentioned in conversation, someone invariably mentions denim, like the stuff jeans are made from.  Now, don't get me wrong, denim quilts have been made, and they are rugged.  They are also heavy.  And when you want to stay warm, heavy is not what you want.  To properly insulate yourself from the cold, you need trapped air, and if the top layer of the quilt is of a heavy fabric, it squishes down the insulation and just doesn't keep you as warm.  Lightweight is the key here.  Old t-shirts work fine, but the best choice would be a lightweight woven, similar to a man's dress shirt fabric.  Old sheets work well.  Quilting perfectionists insist on cotton, but in a TEOTWAWKI situation, we would not be able to be that picky.  Fabric made from a partial percentage of polyester has the advantage of being extremely durable, but remember please that it melts in a fire.  If you do have cotton, try to rip a section of it to make sure it is not rotten.  Rotten cotton rips very easily.  Save that stuff for the insulation layer.

I tend to think of making a utility quilt top similar to construction of a butcher block.  First you need blocks of fabric to make strips, then you sew the strips together.  It is easy to see that the bigger the pieces of fabric you have, the less sewing you are going to have to do.  However, if we are reduced to making the best of what we have, there is no better way to use small pieces of fabric than to make a quilt top.  Take a shirt, for example.  "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" was my grandmother's mantra.  When the elbows wore out of a shirt, or the cuffs, she made it into a short-sleeved shirt.  When the neck wore out, she would make it into a dish-drying towel by cutting and hemming a large piece of the back.  That left the buttons, and some smaller sections of the front.  These smaller pieces, she made into quilts.  Every scrap was used somewhere.  Smaller long strips she saved to tie up her tomato plants.  After she passed away, we found a box of fabric strips for this purpose up in the top of her closet.

So, say you have some pieces of fabric at least 8 inches tall, but of various widths.  Cut them into tall rectangles, each one 8 inches tall, and as wide as you have enough fabric to make them.  Sew these blocks together, right sides of the fabric together, keeping at least a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  If your seam allowance is bigger, you can trim it to 1/4 inch, to allow for easier quilting.  If you have access to an iron, you can press the seam allowance to one side.  For those of you who are sewing-challenged, here is a picture.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Parts_of_a_plain_seam.png

If you have access to a sewing machine, you can do the piecing on it.  However, many beautiful quilts were made using just a needle and thread, and I find that sewing by hand calms my spirit and relaxes my soul, as well as helps me pass long winter hours when I cannot garden.  One of the most complicated quilts I have ever seen is the one made by Jane Stickley of Vermont, in 1863, during the civil war.  I think that perhaps Jane wanted to make the quilt as complicated as possible to help her pass the maximum amount of time making it.  The entire thing is hand pieced.  You can see a picture and read about it here.

For your simple utility quilt, it is okay if one strip is, say 10 inches tall, and the next strip is only 4 inches tall.  As long as each strip is consistent all along the length, that is all that matters.  Your quilt top will not lay flat, however, if you do not keep the edges fairly square and straight.  On the quilting forum, linked below, there are quilters who are extremely careful about seams and flatness and cutting, and you can find help there if you are so inclined.  For our purposes here, finished is better than perfect.  I made my first quilt with a pair of scissors and a piece of cardboard for a straight edge, and it is still one of my daughter's prized possessions.  Now, I use a rotary cutter, special clear plastic rulers, and a measured cutting surface, but fancy is not what we are aiming for here.

After you have your strips pieced together as wide as you want your finished quilt to be, you can sew the strips together, right sides together, along the long sides.  Keep up this process until your quilt is as long as you need for it to be.  Ironing between each strip is helpful to maintain flatness, and will show you where the problems are.  Most seamstresses have to rip out a seam every now and then, it happens to the best of us, so don't get discouraged if it happens to you.  Do make sure all the seam allowances are on the underneath side of the fabric. Trim the whole thing straight.  I find that laying it out on the floor helps here, and I measure it and make sure it is square using the linoleum tile in my kitchen.

Second, you need some kind of insulation for the center layer.  Many things we have around our home will do, anything that traps air molecules.  I recently tore apart an old quilt from my grandmother's house because I was curious as to what she used for the center layer.  Much to my surprise, she used whatever she had around the house.  There was part of an old, but tattered quilt in there, as well as part of an old blanket, part of an old towel, and one patch where it looks like she took some stuffing out of an old pillow and spread it around.  She just spread the stuff around making a layer of insulation.  You will need to be able to stitch through it, and it needs to be washable and free of bugs.  Other than that, pretty much anything goes.  Keep in mind that if you use loose insulation, say, hair you have brushed from your dog, you need more quilting to hold it in place.  If you use something that is already in a layer, like an old blanket, not much quilting is needed to stabilize it.

Third, you need a bottom layer.  An old patched sheet works well here, and actually cheaper sheets are better than expensive ones with a high thread count.  The higher the thread count, the more tightly woven it is, and it is a little harder to quilt through.  If you just have smaller pieces for the back, you can sew them together to make a bottom as big as you need, but it is more difficult to quilt through seams, because of the extra layers of fabric.  If you plan on tying your quilt, as described below, it is not a problem.  The bottom layer needs to be at least an inch wider and longer than the top layer, all the way around, so you can turn it up and make the edge.  Two inches would be even better.

As an aside here, my grandmother once told me that during the depression, it was not shameful to patch a sheet, but if you got to where you had to put patches on the patches, it meant you were poor.

To layer your quilt together, clear a spot on a clean floor as big as your bottom layer.  I prefer a hard floor, and not carpet, as in the basting process it is easier if your needle hits something hard and you don't end up with a quilt sewn to a carpet in your living room.  Spread your bottom layer, or "backing," out smooth, no wrinkles, with the right side of the fabric facing the floor.  Now, in present times there is a temporary fabric adhesive that quilters use for this next step, normally referred to as "505."  They just spray a light coating onto the backing, lay down the insulation layer (batting), spray another light coating of adhesive, then lay down the top, and at that point they can quilt to their hearts content knowing that their layers are going to stay put until they get done.  However, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, I'm assuming that this product will not be available and we would have to revert to the "old way." 

So, after you lay down the backing, you lay down your insulation layer, making sure you don't have any empty spaces (they will be cold spots).  Then lay your top down, placing the side with the seam allowances facing the insulation.  Smooth out all the wrinkles.  You then take a needle and some long strands of thread, get on your hands and knees, and "baste" the layers together.  To baste, take one stitch through all 3 layers about every 3-4 inches in a running fashion down the quilt, and every row of this basting needs to be about 4 inches apart.  After the thing is actually quilted, these stitches will be taken out, so any kind of thread is fine here, even dental floss.  If the thread is too large, you will have trouble getting the threaded needle through the fabric.  So a finer thread will make your job easier.  It only needs to be strong enough to hold the layers together while you do the quilting.

The actual quilting of the layers is much easier if done in some sort of frame.  My aunt who taught me to quilt had a makeshift frame that worked quite well.  Her frame consisted of 2 1x2s that were covered in some old mattress fabric.  These have to be longer than the quilt is wide.  She pinned the end of the quilt to the fabric on the boards, but you could do just as well by stitching the quilt to the boards with some dental floss, or anything that would hold the quilt onto the boards.  Even staples would work in a pinch.  She rolled up each board from the end, rolling the board to the underside of the quilt, until she had about a 2 foot section of the center area of the quilt showing.  Then she used c-clamps to attach these boards to two more 1x2s that were only a couple of feet long, making a large rectangle.  At this point, the frame can be propped up on anything, sawhorses, backs of chairs, or hung from the ceiling.  I quilt alone, so I prefer to hang the frame from the ceiling at an angle so I don't have to bend over my work.  In my grandmother's house, she hung the frame from her living room ceiling, and it was on pulleys so that when not actually quilting, the room could be used normally.

If you can't make a frame, the quilting can also be done in a large hoop, or merely in your lap.  It might not end up being quite as tidy, but would certainly make a serviceable quilt.

Now the quilting can be done in one of two ways.  The first method, and also quickest and easiest, and warmest, is to merely "tie" the quilt.  My grandmother tied all her utility quilts.  Tying uses a heavier thread, traditionally 6-strand embroidery thread, but any heavy thread will do in a pinch.  Every 3-4 inches, take the threaded needle and go straight down through all layers of fabric, holding one hand above the quilt and one hand below.  With the hand below, take the needle and come back up through the layers about 1/8 to 1/4 inch away from the initial stab.  Pull the thread so that you have two threads sticking out, then tie them in a good knot.  My grandmother always used a square knot.  Make sure here that you do not pull the thread tight to bunch it up.  You will be warmer if you do not compress the insulation.  Cut the thread so that you have about 1/2 to 1 inch ends sticking out above the knot.  Continue over the whole quilt, rolling the quilt from one long arm of the frame to the other as you progress by loosening and removing the clamps holding the frame together, and replacing them when you have it where you want to work.  Typically this process is done from the center of the quilt to one end, then from the center to the other end.

The second method of quilting, normally used on fancier quilts, uses a running stitch through all layers of fabric, with the rows of stitching being very close together (no farther than 2 inches apart, and sometimes as close as 1/4 inch apart).  If my grandmother was using carded cotton as the insulation layer (cotton straight from the field and home-carded into "batts") she used this stitch on her quilts, because when the quilt was laundered the cotton would shift and create cold spots if not held into place.  Here is a link to a good explanation of a running stitch.

After the quilting part is finished, remove the quilt from the frame.  To finish off the edges, fold the bottom layer toward the top for 1/2 of the width, then fold the bottom layer again up and over the top, and stitch down using a slant hemming stitch, as shown on this page.  When you get to the corners of the quilt, you can fold the corners into miters if you want, but any corner will do for our purposes here.  The point is to cover all rough edges of fabric, to prevent excessive wear and raveling.

It is important to remember that I am not trying to teach you the quilting perfectionists' method of quilting.  These instructions will merely make a serviceable quilt, not a family heirloom that is going to be worth any money to your grandchildren.  My grandmother made hundreds of these utility quilts, and when she died we found them on every bed in her home, covered in each case by a fancy bedspread or a fancier quilt on the top.  We also found one in the dog's bed, one covering up an old car, and one insulating the storage shed window. 

If you want to create a thing of beauty and value, you can read more at The Quilting Board.   There are thousands of members who daily discuss the ins and outs of every aspect of quilting, from the perfect fabrics and color combinations to how many stitches per inch constitutes "good quilting."  There are also discussions of machine, or "long-arm" quilting as well as different styles of hand quilting.  Here I just wanted the average person who doesn't have any sewing experience to be able to stay warm if things deteriorate to the point where we no longer have access to factory-produced goods.

As a final word, please remember that anything that is produced for children's bedding or sleepwear nowadays is required to be non-flammable or treated chemically to be non-flammable.  If you intend to make a covering for a child to sleep under, all of the ingredients of the quilt would have to be such treated materials.  Given the choice of flammability or freezing to death, I guess I would opt for my children to be warm, but it would be up to you.

“You’ve got to work on that draw Ski,” barked my friend Tom.  He was already an experienced shooter and competitor in IPSC and KPDL (Kentuckiana Personal Defense League).  There are benefits to competing in IPSC events including emphasis on safety, accuracy, speed, and identification of “good guys” versus the bad guys.  It had to be painful for him to watch a “newbie” in shooting struggle along.  He was patient and persistent.  We became shooting buddies competing against each other in these organizations.  Tom is not only a natural shooter, but he works on each phase of competition and is ever looking for ways to save seconds in his style and performance.  As we practiced together he imparted many of his skills, not all though.  He had to maintain an edge on his new rival.

This article will discuss some practical skills for pistol performance regardless of competition or personal defense.  Grip, stance, draw, sight picture/sweet spot, cadence/transition, and mag changes are the areas I will attempt to address.  I will also try to include some sites that will give you a hands on look at some of these skills.  These skills can be applied to all handguns; however, I have done most of my practice and competitions with 1911 style .45 caliber single stack and double stack weapons.

A prefatory note regarding my holsters.  I use a CR Speed for competitions and for my concealed carry a Blackhawk Serpico retention holster.  So, regardless of holster, the same basic skills will be used.  In addition, if you are shooting on your own you will always be thinking safety.  Make sure the range is “clear”.  Think of the commands used during competitions….”Load and make ready”(pull your unloaded weapon from the holster and insert a loaded magazine.  Charge the weapon, put the safety on, and place back in your holster).  “Shooter ready” (at relaxed or surrender position), then the buzzer sounds.  Even shooting alone, I follow mentally the commands typically used in a competition: unload, show clear, slide forward, hammer down, holster.  In a self-defense situation what you have practiced is generally what you will do.  So, you want to have your muscle memory trained well in order to respond without having to think about what you’re doing when it comes to firing your weapon.  This doesn’t mean you won’t have to use split second judgment regarding your particular circumstances.  The 71 year old gentleman in Florida recently showed us that regardless of great skills, he was successful in preventing bloodshed by using his quick judgment in his intervention of an armed robbery.

When it comes to gripping your weapon, do be sure to forget as quickly as you can anything you have seen on television especially shows or movies from the 70’s thru the 90’s and beyond.  Actors typically are seen resting their shooting hand on the weak or support hand and firing.  You absolutely need to drop that style if you’re using it.  From a “surrender” or “relaxed” position, you will move your hand (for me my dominant hand is my right, so I will make reference accordingly) to the handle of the weapon.  On my .45 I make sure the web between my thumb and index finger ride high on the beaver tail grip safety.  The reason for this is to provide the best support as the weapon discharges and ensures proper extraction, ejection, and reloading of the weapon.  A weak grip can result in “stovepipes” in which the expended brass gets stuck in the ejection port and sticks up like a stovepipe.  Once the weapon is drawn the left hand is moved to the grip with the fingertips of the right hand butted up to or into the meat of the left hand just below the thumb.  The fingers of the left hand then wrap over the fingers of the right hand. Make sure to have a tight grip but not a ‘death grip.’

There are different stances that shooters make use of.  A couple of the better known are the Weaver stance and the isosceles stance.  I suppose I use a hybrid and you will have to develop the stance that fits your personal tastes.  In my relaxed or surrender position, I typically will have my feet right about shoulder distance apart and the left foot about 6 inches forward of my right foot.  Knees have a slight bend and weight is leaning slightly forward.  This gives me not only stability, but support for the recoil and reacquisition of the target.   If you’re a lefty, everything just goes in reverse.

Regardless of whether you are doing your draw from a surrender (hands up just slightly higher than the shoulders) or relaxed (hands relaxed at your side), you will still grip your weapon the same.  Now, upon moving the right hand to grip your weapon, you will be simultaneously moving your left hand to right in the middle of your torso.  As you remove your weapon from the holster, moving toward your left hand, you will now join the left hand before your arms are extended.  With the weapon maybe a foot away from your torso, both hands now gripped with the weapon, the weapon is extended.  You will not lock out your arms when you extend your weapon, but will leave a slight bend.  Your finger is NOT inside the trigger guard on the draw.  You will be moving your trigger finger to the trigger between the full gripping of the weapon and extension. So far, this has not been rocket science.  Do work on your grip, stance, and draw.  Compete and watch others as well as ask questions.  Watch various matches on YouTube and learn those basic techniques.  As you progress, do be sure to do “dry fire” practice.  The more you work on your draw, the more your muscles will “remember”.  You will increase in your speed and competence.

This might be part of your draw; however, I have chosen to make a separate issue of this.  As you prepare to draw you weapon, you will have your eyes fixed on your target.  Once the weapon is drawn and you are linking up right hand and left hand, you are going to bring your arms and weapon and sights up to the plane of your eyes.  You bring the sights to your eyes.  You are not watching the draw or grip.  That is automatic.  Your eyes are riveted on your target and you bring the sights to where your eyes are looking.  This is the sweet spot and as you look down range thru the sights, with sights aimed at the target, this is your sight picture.  You are always bringing the weapon up to the spot where you’re looking (sweet spot).  You are seeing the target thru the sights (sight picture). 

My friend Tom pointed out the idea of cadence to me and showed how a smooth cadence versus the typical “double tap” is faster.  He put up four IPSC targets arranged in a circle type configuration…i.e. the first target on the left at 9 o’clock position, second target at 12 o’clock, the next at 3 o’clock and the last at 6 o’clock.  He had me double tap and timed my performance.  Not bad.  Then he showed me by his example to eliminate the double tap (two quick shots in rapid succession) and pull the trigger in a more calculated and deliberate manner.  Instead of looking like: bam bam……bam bam…..bam bam.…bam bam…..it would look like: bam..bam..bam..bam..bam..bam..bam..bam.  See the difference?  So, I shot the same targets in a more consecutive, repetitive type of pattern without the distinct “double tap.”  I felt like I was going slower and was astonished to see that my time improved substantially.  I shot the stage once again using a double tap to the best of my ability to beat my non double tap time.  Not a chance.  So, Tom said try the way I showed you again.  I did and to my amazement the time was once again, unquestionably faster than my best “double tap” time.  This is cadence.  Give it a try and work on it.  The transition part is moving from target to target with your eyes moving to the next target as you polish off the previous target.  You have fired your first round and just as you’re firing your second round, you’re moving your eyes to the next target. You follow with your weapon movement to the “sweet spot” on the next target and so on.  So, in this manner you are “transitioning” from target to target in a smooth, but fast manner versus robotic and jerky movements.  To each his own.  You may find this doesn’t fit your style and that is all right.  In competitions, cadence and transition are areas where the competitor can pick up time.  Fractions of seconds are important and the difference between winning a stage and match and the alternative.  In real life situations those fractions of seconds could translate into life and death.

Changing your magazine is critical in competition.  In life or death scenarios I suspect a magazine change is going to be critical as well.  IDPA incorporates the use of the “tactical” magazine change or “retention” magazine change.  One would not be wrong to develop this style and skill.  This type of magazine change simply requires that rather than just dropping your empty mag, you retain it while placing a full mag in your weapon and tucking the empty or nearly empty mag in a pocket or your mag pouch.  IPSC rules do not mandate this particular style.  For me the situation will have to be the determining factor.  If it were a hot situation, I’m dropping the mag to maximize my speed and ability to continue to firing.  I can get that mag later.  The enemy is my main concern and I want to neutralize the bad guy and worry about the mag later.  If the situation were such that I could grab or retain my empty mag I would do it.  My double stack mags with extended base pads are expensive.  I suppose this could be an argument to go back to a single-stack M1911. 

Okay, your mag change is going to take practice and lots of it.  Here goes with the basic mechanics of the mag change.  As your slide locks open with the last round being fired, you will keep your weapon arm extended while pushing your mag release button.  Your right arm and weapon are going to be close to the position of your sweet spot.  Your left hand is already reaching for a mag once the last shot is fired.  The mag drops from your weapon or you can give it a slight flick, but ultimately you will rotate your weapon to a 1 to 2 o’clock position.  The weapon is angled for the insertion of the full magazine.  Upon inserting the mag and reacquiring your grip, operate the slide release which allows the slide to come forward and chamber a new round.  The ideal situation is to change mags before running dry.  This way you won’t have to waste time with the slide release.  Remember, seconds matter!! 

These practical pointers when practiced will help you develop your skills with a pistol.  With increased skill development and muscle memory comes confidence.  Hopefully none of us will be confronted with a situation that demands an armed response, but the next time you’re at the “movies”, you’ll be ready, if the situation arises.  Think of the different type of outcome if there was just one individual carrying a concealed weapon in the theatre in Aurora.  The following are a few videos that you may wish to access to get a visual of the skills I have just mentioned:


I just thought I'd pass the word on some shopping options people might not think about too often. My wife is originally from Vietnam and we often go to an asian market for food supplies. I assume the following is true for other non-western stores, but you might want to check out what is within driving distance. These places are a preppers oasis.

There are a few major advantages to shop at these stores. Please note I am talking about small stores, not a place like the asian mega-marts in California.

First is money. Not just that they are usually less expensive, but more important they are less dependent on a cash register working. I'd expect if there are issues, wally-mart wouldn't be able to sell anything without a cash register working. In these places, that would not be much of an issue.

In addition, cash is king here. Bring cash, buy in bulk, and talk to the owner. You might be surprised to find that you can get 10-20% discount just by asking, or by getting 10 instead of the 2 you planned for. Try haggling over a price at the local supermarket and see what success you have. But in these small, mom and pop stores, it is not only allowed, it's almost expected.

Second, foods tend to focus on non-refrigeration items. (Asian market focus)

25-50 lbs sacks of rice - it's common to see from 50 to 80 sacks of rice at the front of the store. Note that brown rice is usually in smaller sizes due to a cultural tendency to serve that to the elderly, and not for general consumption.

Store bought vacuum packed brown, white rice - long/short/medium grain.

Dried everything. Squid, beef, fish, mushrooms.. everything. Not sure what it is? ask.

Pickled everything. Vegetables , fruits, meat.

More dried noodle options than I ever knew existed.

Candy and treats designed for long term storage - i.e. hard candies, hard cookies, etc.

Spices for everything and in large quantities. In countries where meat might not be of the best quality, there tends to be a focus on cooking with enough spices to cover the flavor of the meet. In TEOTWAWKI, you might just need to make that days hunt taste a little better.

Third, electricity independent food preparation tools.

Remember, many of these countries do not have a stable electric grid, so non-electric cooking tools are very common in these stores. Butane cooking stoves are very common, and you won't have the price markups that you will see in a camping store.

Fourth, experience

Remember, many of these stores are owned by first generation Americans. They know what keeps best when there is no power, or unstable power. What rice keeps longer, what tool works better. They know it first hand. Don't be shy to ask.

Yes, sometimes you might have to put up with a different cultures approach to standing in a line (or lack there of), and you might have to have a little patience with a language barrier, but for me it's well worth it.

Remember, these stores stay alive by having personable relationships with their customers. If you go out of your way to be friendly, you just might find that if Stuff hits the Fan, they will sell items to you (store open or not), where other places will be boarded up.

As always, thanks for your blog. For me, its one of the most valuable web sites on the Internet. - Robert B. in North Carolina

H.L. liked this piece at Alt-Market: Off-Grid Refrigeration

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Dick Morris Reveals How Obama Will Kill The 2nd Amendment On July 27

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Not particularly preparedness-related, but this collaborative music video site is amazing: The Johnny Cash Project

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Peter S. recommended two new e-books: The Survival Doctor's Guide to Burns and The Survival Doctor's Guide to Wounds

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The United Nations will convene next week for agreement on a "Small Arms and Light Weapons" Treaty. Please contact your Senators and insist that they do not ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). It is plain and simply a civilian disarmament scheme.

"In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before anything else; for whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middlegame and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame." - José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today we present a lengthy entry for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

So, you've been wondering if you should be buying some photovoltaic (PV) panels to avoid the darkest of ages? And you have some specific questions:
- how many panels do I need?
- which type of panel do I need?
- what's it going to cost?
- what about an inverter?
- what can I actually get done with my energy?

In this post I will try to answer these questions, having gone through the process myself in the last few years. My hope is that by relating my journey, it will help some of you make the right decisions for your situation. My main goal is to be able to collect and store enough energy that my life can continue without being totally thrown back into the 19th century. 'Little House on the Prairie' may be nice to watch but I am not sure I would enjoy every aspect of that lifestyle. Example: I do have a woodstove with built-in oven but would really rather use my breadmaker to bake a loaf of bread. On the other hand: our house has electrical heat and the kWh it consumes on a winter day can only be delivered by a fully operational power grid (even rolling blackouts could be a disaster), so drastic measures are required.

I decided to go with solar energy because PV panels make no noise, need no gas and are maintenance free. Three plusses over a generator when you find yourself in the dark age. They have downsides as well in the comparison: up-front cost per kWh for panels is much higher and you will need more batteries. What tipped the balance for me is that I do not know how long the grid will be down, so I do not know how much gas I have to store, or if I can get gas at any price if I run out for that matter. As J.E.B. pointed out in his letter to SurvivalBlog (published July 17, 2012): a worst case scenario will be measured in years, not days. A second consideration for me is that if everything works out I may go off-grid voluntarily. In that case the system would pay for it self rather quickly.

Having said that, creating a system for collecting/storing/using solar energy does not come cheap. If you cannot set aside $1000-$2000 without seriously compromising your prepping budget, my approach may not be the correct one for you. Let me first explain this figure a bit more because
it may strike many of you as too much or too little.

First of all: you do not have to plan on spending much more. If you can that is great, but installing $10,000 worth of panels on the roof of your retreat is asking for trouble IMHO. It may give you a lifestyle similar to what you have today, but in a situation where law and order breaks down,
this display simply says: Hey guys, I have got the goods here, come and get me first. Personally I am not a gunslinger trying to attract targets, so keeping a (very) low profile is my first line of defense.

Secondly, if you can't afford that much money, you will need to adjust your expectations and priorities because very inexpensive components are expensive to run in that they are usually less efficient and therefore leave you with much less useable energy. I will give you some ideas of what you can do for $100-$250 at the end of this post.

As a side note on budgeting: if you are in the lucky circumstance of being able to set aside some money and save (or have saved) it in the form of dollars, please stop doing so, take that money and start buying the goods that you will need soon enough. The US dollar is being pushed out of its position of global reserve currency day by day. When that process reaches its inevitable tipping point, the dollar's purchasing power will evaporate and the only official notification you will get is a message from your friendly neighborhood ATM that it is currently out of order. This comes from someone who, up until a few years ago, spent decades saving for a rainy day. Which has now arrived ... and so I feel I have no choice but to convert a good chunk of my savings to goods that I expect to be able to put to good use.

While on the topic of budgeting:
If you don't have or plan to purchase an over-the-top system, you will need to get used to an energy budget. You know: supply and demand. Like an old farmer, you will have to make hay when the sun shines [modern farmers can't afford to wait for the sun so they make haylage instead]. Supply can be increased by buying additional panels; demand can be lowered by energy conservation measures; you can do both until you find your happy or affordable middle ground.

Starting with demand, how can we keep it low? What are the things you really want electricity for? Here is my list:
- lighting (LED type uses the least energy and is long lasting)
- walk-in cooler to store food, seeds, etc. (our house has no basement)
- monitoring systems
- water pumps
- communications (radio, 2-way radios)
- small kitchen appliances (mixer, blender, breadmaker, etc.)
- security (keeping wildlife out of the garden and the chicken coop)
- laptop, e-reader, battery powered flashlights
- handheld power tools (drill, saw, angle grinder, rotary tool)

No washer? Nope, grandma got the job done with a few hand tools and so can I.
No dryer? Hot air from the woodstove will do just fine.
No dishwasher? Never had one.
No plasma television? What are you going to watch when the grid is down?
No entertainment center? I can watch DVDs on my laptop.
No microwave? I would use it if possible, but I am not budgeting for it.
No air conditioner? I do have a small (500W - 1 room - fits in a window)
air conditioner but don't plan on using it unless I really have to. I prefer to sit under a tree beside a brook when compared to the air conditioner's noise. As for heating rooms and/or water with a solar panel: don't even think about it; that is a job for wood or coal. Yes you can use a solar heat exchanger for that, but what if it breaks down and you can't get the repairman to come over? And the wind chills are around -40?

When determining the feasibility of solar power to run a tool or appliance, you need to keep in mind it's power rating and the time it's actually on. For instance if you need to cut a 2x4 your saw may be rated at 1200W but if your cut only takes 10 seconds, the energy used is 10 * 1200 / 3600 = 3.3Wh / 12V = .28Ah. Not worth talking about if your batteries are full. A 50W solar panel will generate 3.3Wh in about 4 minutes on a sunny summer day.

On the other end of the scale: let's say you want to bake loaf of bread using an automatic breadmaker. The appliance is rated at 600W and the process takes 3 hours. About half an hour is used kneading dough and 1 hour to actually bake the bread. Its energy usage amounts to:
.5 * 100 = 50Wh for kneading
1 * 600 * .67 = 402Wh for baking at 2/3 duty cycle
Total = 452Wh over a 3 hour period, which equates to a 150W demand.

The numbers above are pretty close to what I have observed personally: I can use my hand-held power tools all day and only need a 30W - 60W panel to maintain battery charge. My breadmaker tests showed that on a sunny summer day I need 180W worth of rated panel capacity to maintain battery charge over the entire baking cycle.

Another item that can take up a lot of power is pumping water. This year I have put in a small aquaponic garden with 4 grow beds just to see what it takes to grow veggies that way. It's an ebb and flow system that uses a 1000 gallon/hr bilge pump with a 1" outlet. Though the pump is rated for 5 Amps, it draws only 3.5 Amps and runs 20 seconds every half hour. As a result a 15W rated panel keeps up with it with capacity to spare. But if I want to warm up the water quickly after a cool night by using an small aquarium pump to push water through a heat exchanger, I need to go to a 60W panel because that second pump draws 1.3 Amps continually. Lesson for water pumps: try to use big lines and low working pressure and lift.

Because I don't want to be tied down too much by carrying around a ton of documents, I keep most everything in electronic format (mht or pdf) on hard drives and DVDs. That means I need something to read them with. Laptops tend to take 50-60W (or more depending on CPU/graphics card in it). So running it for 8 hours a day to play solitaire, ...err study documents, will set me back 8 * 60 = 480Wh. Sigh! Just ain't gonna happen on a cold winter day... A small tablet or e-reader would work much better under the circumstances.

For those of you wondering about getting enough juice for your tablets and smart phones to continue life in the cloud (Facebook, Twitter, on-line gaming and data storage): don't worry, by the time you really NEED your solar panels, in a grid down situation, cell towers will cease to function within 24 hours as their batteries run out and (access to) the cloud will simply disappear like a morning fog.

Phantom Loads
You will waste precious amp hours to run your systems. There is no way around that because no appliance or battery is 100% efficient, but with some advance planning we can keep the leakage to a minimum. Biggest single issue is your inverter. Don't buy one unless its idle power draw is less than 250 mA. You do not want to waste 1 or 2 amps on heating your inverter while its idling. This is not much of an issue for a 100W inverter that you use only to run your electric shaver because you can turn it off when you're done. However for large inverters that you leave on all day to run your power tools on-demand you do not want their idle draw to exceed 250 mA and the lower that number the better. I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I left a 300W inverter on thinking only its LED was drawing power. After two days the new 120Ah battery was run down to the point where the inverter's low voltage alarm went off ... at 3AM ...

Second inverter issue: do not leave appliances that use standby power plugged into the inverter because that draw will keep the inverter revved up continuously costing a few amps in the process. This may not sound like much but look at it this way: if the inverter uses 2 amps for 12 hours, that is 24 AmpHours. A 60W panel will generate about 3 Amps (averaged over an entire sunny day), so it needs to run 24 / 3 = 8 hours to make up for that loss. At current prices that 60W panel will cost you around $135 (+ S/H & taxes).

As an example: I once kept a yard light plugged in overnight with only its infrared sensor active and it took about 10% of my battery bank's capacity in the process. My inverter was luke warm that morning whereas it stays cold even if I use it all day with my power tools. Another lesson learned and BTW I am running most of these tests on purpose right now, so I will know what to expect when it counts.

Third big cause of energy leakage: bad cells in your battery bank. I have dealt with this extensively in another post called 'battery life extension' and won't repeat that now. Sufficeth to say that if your bank discharges itself from 12.6V to 12.35V overnight, you have a huge power drain on your hands.

Now, let's assume you have dealt with all three biggies above; what is there left to do? Actually quite a bit, though exactly how much and what is a bit dependent on your handyman IQ. I am now referring to a couple of specific items on my list: lighting and monitoring systems. By their very nature they have to run many hours, some of them 24/7. The nice thing is that you can get a 12V (or lower voltage) version of pretty much any item you need.

Let me give you some examples:
- The 110V yard light I talked about earlier can be replaced with a 12V infrared sensor connected to a 12V LED flood light. Yes, if you get the right parts it can be as simple as connecting 4 wires.
- The walk-in cooler I mentioned needs to have its temperature monitored and regulated 24/7. Thermistors (temperature sensors) are a dollar a dozen and 12V computer case fans @ $5 each move enough air to get the job done.
- My primary heat source is a woodstove in a rather small work space. To avoid problems the space is outfitted with a dual fire/smoke alarm and carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide alarms. You can get these in 110V AC or 5V, 9V or 12V DC versions.
5V versions tend to come with a "wallwart" power cube, 9V versions run on a battery and 12V versions intended for RV use. If you can't get them locally, try to find a supplier on-line. [JWR Adds: I have found that Camping World is a great source for 12 VDC appliances and gadgets.]

LED Lighting:
Despite candlemakers waxing nostalgic about the power grid being down, LED type should be used to cover your basic lighting needs due to its simplicity and longevity. In essence: put it in and forget about it; I have wrecked some LEDs by putting too much current through them but never seen one fail due to old age. There are many 12V LED lights available these days, though some are still pricey. I took a different (= less expensive) route by getting a bag full of UFO lights (the type you can put in tents) from China and using those. There are 2 types commonly available as of this writing: one with 60 LEDS and the other with 20-24 LEDs. I have used them both and there is not a lot of difference in the total amount of light they produce for the same current.

These units are designed to run on 4 AA batteries (= 5-6V), so you will need to solder 2 pieces of wire into the battery compartment. If you only need 2 or 3 units, you can connect them in series and then directly to your battery. [2 units may need a small series resistor if LEDs get hot.] I put 4 or more per room (very even lighting throughout the room) by connecting all units in parallel and then putting a 'circuit breaker' in the wire that connects them to the negative pole of a 12V battery. The 'circuit breaker' is a 555 timer chip that switches a MJE3055T transistor on/off @ 120Hz and about 15% duty cycle. This runs the lights flicker free @ 2.8V which leaves the LEDs cold to the touch but produces ample light. You can adjust the lights' output by changing the duty cycle of the 'circuit breaker'.

DC-DC converters:
These do what their name implies and convert one DC voltage into another. Use them to run devices and/or monitoring devices directly from a 12V supply. You want to avoid running an inverter to run a wallwart to run a monitoring device that draws 150mA at all cost. Some DC-DC converter examples:
- a laptop power supply that runs off your car battery (produces 18V-22V; should have no problem charging cordless tools)
- a AA, AAA, 9V battery charger that runs off your car battery.
- a 12V desktop computer power supply (this replaces your standard PSU)
- generic DC-DC step up/step down converters in all shapes and sizes on eBay
- for those with a soldering iron: 78xx voltage regulators are hard to beat and can generally be run without heat sink for loads of less than 250mA.

Try to take advantage of your environment:
This example applies mostly to northeners, mountain and desert dwellers. I built the walk-in cooler that I mentioned earlier because at my location we mostly have cool nights [think morning temperature lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit] (>340/year). The idea is to use a differential thermostat to start the fans whenever the outside air is colder than the air in the cooler and simply flush out the hot air that accumulates during the day. This approach does a decent job of tracking nighttime lows if you can inhibit air flow throughout the day. The cooler itself is a 7'x5' room that is also 7' high. It is completely lined with 2 layers of 1" thick styrofoam (this allows me to overlap joints to achieve lower air leakage). There should be no wooden or metal breaks in the lining as this will seriously lower the cooler's overall insulation value. The door is currently sealed by weather stripping, but I may replace that with a magnetic seal like the ones used in a fridge. Your best location is against a north wall on a lower floor. If you can't avoid a sun baked wall, try to incorporate a layer of aluminum foil on the outside of the styrofoam. That construction needs a small airspace between the wall and the the foil (shiny side out) but is worth its weight in gold. I should point out that in the winter I have to blow hot air from the woodstove into the cooler every now and then to prevent its contents from freezing solid and you may need to provide for that as well.

Inside my cooler there is a separate box that is double insulated. Even on hot summer days it's temperature rarely exceeds 60 degrees F. The outer part of the cooler may get up to 70 degrees at the end of a hot summer day, cooling down to 55 degrees by morning on most days. I can expect to see these temperatures from the middle of June through the middle of August. Before and after that nights are colder and so is my cooler. So in the summer it emulates a good basement and the rest of the year its more like a fridge. This is plenty good enough to provide additional storage life to whatever you put in there for a small energy footprint.

And so I don't have to budget for a fridge, but what about a freezer? I would like to have a freezer but haven't run any tests yet to see how much power it really takes. The good thing about using a freezer is that it requires the most power just when it is most readily available. The problem I see is that I will need to make a custom 12V control circuit to determine when to turn power to the freezer on and off because I do not want the freezer to keep my inverter active 24/7. Apart from that I do not consider a freezer critical because there is always the art of canning to preserve food.

To summarize:
It may sound strange but based on what I discussed above I have decided that if I have enough solar panels to be able to bake one loaf of bread each day year round, I will have enough capacity to run everything I need to run. The catch is in 'year round' (I don't live in the Arizona desert) so let's look at the supply side of my budget.

The calculations above reflect the situation in mid summer, say, from the middle of May till early August. By the end of August the sun is so much lower in the sky that the solar panels' output is noticeably dropping and of course the days are shorter. This trend accelerates as you go into fall and by late September I need to use 2 60W panels where I need only 1 in June. The darkest part of the year is in November before we get snow on the ground and on a cloudy fall day I have to use 3 60W panels to produce roughly the same AmpHours a single 60W panel produces in the summer.

A solid cloud cover tends to cut power production 50%-70% compared to a sunny day. Light cumulus cloud cover (a few fair weather clouds) isn't much of an issue. Cirrus clouds (high feathery clouds made of ice crystals) on the other hand can drop the panel's output 30% even though it still looks 'sunny' on the ground. If you are in a situation where there is frequent fog or smog around a city, you will probably need to make an allowance for that too, but I have no experience with it.

Above all, avoid the situation where your panels are shaded part of the day. This may sound strange but my setup doesn't have any fixed rooftop panels as most commercial installations do. Such a setup would make it hard to do all the tests that I have run but I also consider it inefficient. Even if the rooftop panels' alignment is properly adjusted for your location you will have only 2 times a year where they are perfectly aligned with the sun's rays hitting them at a 90 degree angle. But what is worse is that every morning and every evening the sun's rays hit them at very low angles or not at all (assuming they are facing due south).

A mono-crystalline 60W panel measures approximately 2' x 2.5' and weighs around 12 lbs. So its easy to handle and move. Its also a lot sturdier than I thought (I can assure you that those 'tests' were unintentional) Some of my panels are hung vertically on the inside of doors. If the door is closed the panel is safely stored inside. If the door is open it faces the sun, which can be tracked from southeast to west. In the summer time when the weather is quiet, I usually tilt those panels upward as well. In winter time they stay in a vertical position to take advantage of light reflected off the snow on the ground, but can still follow the sun from southeast to southwest.

Other panels are completely detached and follow the batteries where-ever they are needed. Those panels get repositioned a few times during the day to track the sun. Lots of work? Not really: I only adjust the panels' positions when I happen to be around anyway. Besides when the grid is down, your kids will be home and can't play video games ...

But is it really good enough?
Yes, I started out skeptical too; not really wanting to put down $x000 on something that might not meet my needs. So I started small with a 30W panel and a few not so great batteries and built the system from there. Nevertheless right from the start of the work on my 'retreat' I have run all power tools off that little system. Granted if I needed to rip a bunch of 2x4s lengthwise, I had to do it on a sunny afternoon or the inverter would kick out due to low battery voltage. But for those of us that grew up and/or live in the countryside, to go with the weather is just a normal way of doing things. The system has been up for more than a year now and it has never left me without enough power to do the things I wanted to do.

At present I have 270W of rated generating capacity and my batteries are in good condition. Last month we had a stretch of 5 cloudy days where we didn't see the sun at all. None of the batteries fell below 50% capacity even though I didn't hold back on any planned activities. That is how I am building the confidence that I am on the right track.

Now the math:
150W (for the breadmaker) * 3 (for year round use) = 450W. Based upon what I have seen so far I am confident that this is enough generating capacity for my setup. Making a loaf of bread takes only three hours, so even if my minimum usable day length would be no more than 6 hours there are still 3 hours (~400Wh assuming panels produce at 30% of rated output) left to run all other devices, lights, etc. And if the batteries run low after a stretch of dreary weather I just won't be able to use my laptop or power tools for a while. Keep in mind that running low means the batteries are approaching the 50% charge level, there is plenty of power left for lighting, emergency repairs, etc. During most of the year 450W generating capacity is too much for my immediate needs but this is partly absorbed by running more water pumps, power tools, freezer, etc. than in the winter. And I can always store unused panels till I need them again.

450W worth of panels @ $2.50/W (includes shipping/taxes) will set me back around $1100. A good inverter $250 and another $250 for batteries add up to $1600. And I was lucky because I was able to purchase good used deep cycle batteries for 10% of their retail value. New they will set you back around $250 apiece. I purchased my solar panels and inverter via the Internet. I can get them locally but for 2-3x as much money. Depending on your situation, you may want to get them on-line too, but only order from a supplier in the country you live in. Getting these items straight from China will probably get you B-grade and that is not what you want on high priced goods. And.. your warranty would be a nightmare at best.

As of the time of this writing (July 2012) the prices that I have quoted are available on eBay from North-American suppliers.

Types of panels:
I am getting the best performance from mono-crystalline panels that are rated at 16.5-17.5% efficiency. Poly-crystalline comes in just under that at around 16% efficiency and is sometimes a bit less expensive per watt. Amorphous type panels are still less expensive per watt but have only 8-9% efficiency and therefore have almost twice the surface area for the same wattage. They also seem to deliver power at a lower voltage.

Inverter size:
My inverter is rated for 2500W with 5000W surge capacity. This sounds like a lot but you should take the ratings with a grain of salt. I tried to run a 2 h.p. industrial motor off it but that didn't work because the inverter shut itself down after a few seconds on each attempt. On the other hand I have no problems running a 1200W circular saw, a 1500W vacuum cleaner and a 15A stick welder. So my inverter probably delivers close to 2000W in real life. Its a big box which means it runs cool and that is a good thing. Its fans only come on when I am baking bread on a hot day or when I put it in the full sun because its outer shell is used as heat sink. Given my experience I doubt you will be happy for long if you try to use an inverter rated for less than 2000W as your main inverter. Since you probably want a backup unit as well, its worth considering to get a stackable inverter. Those units allow you to connect them in parallel in a single system effectively doubling your capacity.

System building note:
If you buy an inverter you will most likely see in the instructions that it should be grounded. I suggest you ignore that instruction because it will seriously compromise your system without adding safety for people that use it. Here is why: Your system's common ground is the minus side of your battery bank. Assuming your batteries' casing is intact it is isolated from the earth you walk on, so its impossible for you to be the switch that closes the loop (i.e. get electrocuted if you touch a hot wire; and yes, I personally tried it and am still writing...). The downside of tying your system to earth was pointed out by J.E.B. in his letter: your system could get fried just when you need it most. He is entirely correct in his assertion. The earth is a large capacitor and when excited by externally induced currents, it rings like a bell. As with any capacitor the rise and fall times of the currents are very small compared to the current's size leading to near vertical 'walls of energy' that are fully capable of destroying a system through its ground connection alone. Exactly what size of external event is required to take down a given system depends on many factors but why take a chance? For that reason my solar powered system is not grounded to earth.

How about the $100-$250 setup?
If you have been reading the entire article you may be able to guess where this is going:
- Forget about using 110 VAC tools and devices. This will save you the expense of an inverter. Definitely skip a charge controller in this setup.
- Buy a 40W or 50W mono- or poly-crystalline solar panel (=$100 to $125). If you live south of 40 degrees latitude, you can probably get by with a
30W-40W panel. I do not recommend using panel sizes below 30W for use with deep cycle and marine batteries. 15W is the minimum for car batteries and 5W for garden tractor and motorcycle batteries. The reason is that small panels cannot generate the power required to charge a large battery to
100% capacity. It may charge to 75% or 80% of capacity but that leaves a lot to be desired capacity wise and will at some point lead to quicker deterioration of the cells inside your battery. Rule of thumb: if your battery never reaches 13.6V in full sun around noon time, your panel is too small (or you have a bad cell in your battery).
- Try to get 1 or 2 used batteries that measure 12.3V or higher at rest. If that doesn't work, buy 1 with 100Ah (or more) capacity. Deep cycle is great, but marine type is okay too and less expensive and easier to get. Car batteries will work fine but they cannot be discharged as deeply and won't last as long (but still at least a few years) due to their different grid construction.
- If you can no longer use your car (for any reason you can think of) its quite alright to take out its battery and use that as free additional storage capacity, but you shouldn't mix new and used batteries in a single battery bank. Perhaps you can even round up some additional batteries in the neighborhood, though I strongly suggest you ask the owners' permission first.
- Connect panel to batteries and point panel at the sun. Depending on your panel's connectors, you may need to get or make an adapter for this.
- You now have a system that can provide you with light, a radio and the ability to charge flashlights, 2-way radios, small rechargeable batteries, some gadgets and, likely, your cordless tools year round.
- Since you operate on a shoestring and want your investment to last:
* buy a (inexpensive) small voltmeter and make sure your batteries never drop below 12V (12.2V for car batteries).
* buy a gallon of de-ionized water (it is still inexpensive and easy to get) and keep all cells in your batteries topped up.
* cover the battery terminals and connections with a layer of petroleum jelly (a.k.a. vaseline) to avoid corrosion.
- Best of all: your system is portable. If you have to leave you can take it with you, maybe not on a bicycle but definitely in a car. And so you will be in much better shape than if you had nothing at all.

My question is on the American Redoubt.  It's late in the game, but I've got to get out of Southern California.
What do you think of eastern Montana as a place to settle down?  Are the snows as bad as the Western part of the state?  My parents used to have a place 7 miles outside of West Yellowstone, and they said it was the coldest spots in the continental U.S.  Is the eastern part of Montana like that?
I've been watching what's going on in America, and even I'm getting shaken.  I need to go where they won't allow Obamacare, where they won't allow Obama to take our guns, and where land is dirt cheap.

Let me ask:
        -Texas?  (In the North, I don't like the demographics down south)
        -West Virginia?
        -Vermont, was it Vermont that nullified Obamacare?
        -North or South Dakota, or perhaps Idaho.
I think I've got a few friends convinced to move with me, so we can be each other's backup.
I've been reading your blog for years; you and Karl Denninger are the two I rely on for this crisis. Thanx for your time, - Tina F.

JWR Replies:

To begin, West Yellowstone is fairly high elevation, so that makes it atypical of the region.

Eastern Montana has some problems:

It is plains country, so it is prone to drifting snow.
The winters are brutal.
It is DOWN WIND of the Malmstrom AFB missile fields.
It is DOWN WIND of Yellowstone and the potential supervolcano. (Yes, I know, "Once each 10,000 years", but...)

I prefer Northwestern Montana and north Idaho, because they are WEST of the Great Divide, and hence have a milder climate.

My book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" has my detailed locale recommendations.  That $28 book will save you a couple of hours of phone consulting time (at $100 per hour.)  But some of that data is also available free, here.

My top choice is the vicinity of St. Maries, Idaho.  That valley has a much more mild climate. And there is great shopping just an hour away in Coeur d'Alene and Spokane is another 40 minutes beyond.)

H.L. sent this profile of delusion: 55 Percent Of Americans Believe That The Government Will Take Care Of Them If Disaster Strikes. The article includes this frightening statistic: "53 percent of all Americans do not have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes."

   o o o

G.G. flagged this: A Nation That’s Losing Its Toolbox. Thankfully, SurvivalBlog readers are regaining forgotten skills, with plenty of hands-on experience in our gardens, in our wood shops, and under the hoods of our vehicles.

   o o o

How to stop a massacre

   o o o

K.A.F. sent: Freezing Tomatoes to can at a later time

   o o o

F.G. mentioned that there has been a bit too much "privatizing": The Terrifying Background of the Man Who Ran a CIA Assassination Unit. [JWR Adds: For some further reading, do a web search on the phrase "JSOC Kill/Capture Team."]

"Our character is best revealed by the decisions we've made and the impact of these decisions on ourselves and others. Over time, the decisions we make--large and small--become the legacy we leave behind." - Erwin Lutzer

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The "extreme couponing" movement is fascinating. In larger communities than mine, people can combine coupons, sales, and store policies (like double- or triple-coupon days) to walk out with free or dirt-cheap groceries, hygiene items, and other goodies. When you're trying to build a survival stockpile, every dollar matters; it's great to get a years' worth of toothbrushes for the entire family for just a few dollars, for example, and to stock up on canned vegetables for twenty cents apiece.

However, I live in a small town. This rural part of Texas includes a Wal-Mart Supercenter, a local grocery store, and a small supermarket. All have sales, and they accept coupons (no doubling or tripling allowed, though, and they won't accept most online/home-printed coupons), but it's difficult to get fantastic deals like twenty-five-cent tubes of toothpaste or fifty-cent bags of flour.

This doesn't mean that Mom and I pay full, retail price for most of our groceries and other essentials. Mom and Dad are living on his Social Security retirement, which doesn't go very far. Also, we're still building our survival stockpiles, so we end up spending the same amount of grocery money—we're just coming home with a lot more these days, a good chunk of which is stored for later.

Our process is a bit time consuming, but we're motivated to make the investment, especially with recent word that drought conditions in Indiana will affect food prices. We have to eat no matter how expensive or scarce food becomes in the future, so we figure that having a buffer now, when the biggest pain is investing time in the stocking-up process, is best.

We're Wal-Mart Shoppers

For ninety-something percent of our grocery shopping, we go to Wal-Mart. Regardless of how anybody might feel about that corporation—we can all agree, I'm sure, that they don't have a perfect track record—they're the go-to source for groceries where I live.

Why? Wally World honors competitors' sales ads. Each store has its own policies, which you can check out by calling or visiting the customer-service desk. In most cases, a local competitor's sales circular is acceptable as long as an actual price is printed; Wally World won't generally honor sales like "Buy one, get one for a penny" or "Twenty percent off X item."
One huge advantage is that Wal-Mart substitutes its own, store brand for generic or store-brand items in circulars. The catch is that they must be the same item as far as weight and contents are concerned. I can't get a fifty-pound bag of Ol' Roy dog food (Wally World's brand) if the advertised, store brand is forty-four pounds. I also can't get Neufchatel cheese for the sale price if the advertisement is for cream cheese.

However, because most Supercenters stock a large selection of groceries and other goods, finding a comparable item in the store isn't difficult. Wal-Mart also carries quite a few national brands, which often go on sale somewhere. It's rare for me to find something I want in a sales ad that I can't find on the shelves.

Finding Ads

On Wednesdays, I get online and look at the sales circulars for other stores. If the supermarkets are nearby, these ads will show up in the mailbox. That applies to the supermarket and local grocery store I mentioned earlier; the other dozen-plus stores don't mail us anything, as we live too far away, so I use the Internet.

My Wal-Mart honors ads from stores up to sixty miles away, which includes a very-large, well-populated region. The sprawling metropolis has supermercados (Hispanic supermarkets), which tend to have excellent sales prices on meat and produce. They're also good for deals on paper products, various soaps, and cleaning items.

I visit the supermercados' sites first. That's where I find sales like:
Tomatoes: 5 pounds for a dollar (Wal-Mart price: $1.98 a pound)
White or yellow onions: 5 (sometimes 8) pounds for a dollar (Wal-Mart price: at least $1.49 a pound)
Cantaloupe: $1 each (Wal-Mart price: $1.98 each)
Boneless, skinless chicken breast: $1 a pound (Wal-Mart price: $2.99 a pound)
Eggs: $1 a dozen (Wal-Mart price: $2 a dozen)
Other supermarkets also have great sales. Mom and I like McCormick's Grill Mates seasonings for some cooking. They're $2.50 apiece at Wal-Mart, but we have a few dozen of them in storage. They were $1 apiece at one grocery store about fifty miles away, so we stocked up by "comp shopping" at the local Wal-Mart. (Try the Montreal Chicken next time you grill chicken breasts; it's delicious.)
Also, we can combine sale prices with coupons. When that happens, we do our best to stock up on those items. Coupons aren't easy to find out here unless we buy the newspaper—people aren't interested in setting up a coupon swap, for some reason—but we do what we can.
Since we started doing this more than two years ago, Mom and I have learned that ads run in cycles. The first week of the month, for example, is not a great time to go stock-up shopping; stores tend to have fewer sales, or worse sales prices. That, I suspect, is because lots of people are paid around the first of the month (retirees, for example). They're going to do the bulk of their shopping that week, so why offer them the best sales prices when they're going to show up to buy food no matter how much or little it costs?
Sales cycles run throughout the month and, in some cases, by seasons. The third week of the month, for example, is a good time to stock up on toilet paper and paper towels, as this is when stores tend to have the best sales. Why? I have no idea. All I know is that the pattern is rather consistent, so Mom and I buy our paper products for the month (and for the long-term stash) that week of the month.
Making Menus and Lists
When I'm finished writing down sales prices for items or printing the pages of ads that we want to use, Mom and I plan the weekly menu. Most of what we make around here is based on what we found on sale, at least for fresh goods like meat and produce. Even perishables like vegetables and meat are preserved—we have a Food Saver, food dehydrator, and freezer—but some of the fresh food goes into this week's meals. Basing food on what's inexpensive this week saves money and, because Mom and I have loads of recipes that we all like, there are few complaints about the menu. Fresh, homemade meals can be inexpensive but nutritious, especially if you don't pay full, retail price for the ingredients.
Using my ads or notes, Mom makes the grocery list. She's shopped at the local Supercenter so long that she knows exactly where to find each item, so she writes the list in that order. We hit the pharmacy first, so those items are at the top. We hit the produce section last, so those items are at the bottom.
Mom's list, usually on notebook paper, includes several columns titled "Item," "Description," "Store," "Price," and "Other." For example:
Item: Canned corn
Description: Store brand, 15 oz.
Store: Dave's Fiesta Mart
Price: 50 cents
Other: Limit 5
This way, she doesn't have to go through a stack of ads, which we regularly see other shoppers doing. Why not spend some extra time, while we're at the house, to organize the list into one, neat page? (Mom writes on the front and back side of the paper; it's rare for her to need a second page, but it does happen.)

The Shopping Trip

The entire trip to Wal-Mart, from entering to exiting the front doors, takes an hour and a half to two hours. That seems like a long time, but we're shopping for both the week and our stockpile; it's common for us to push two carts full of goods out to the truck.

When we first started, trips took longer—up to four hours in a couple of cases—because we weren't as efficient as we are these days. We've learned, mostly through trial and error, to plan things before we leave the house so that we aren't wandering up and down the aisles, spending what seems like forever trying to find one stupid thing we need.
While we're in the store, we separate sale items from the rest of the things in the cart. Sometimes, Mom and I both push a cart: one for sale items and the other for the rest. Either way, staying organized while we're going up and down the aisles makes things go faster when we get to the cashier.
The main problem with shopping competitors' ads at Wal-Mart is the extra time involved with checking out. Mom and I have cut time from that process by keeping everything separated while we're in the store, but that does only so much.

We have to tell the cashier where that item's on sale and how much it costs. He or she might have to verify by looking at a copy of the ad, which management puts at each register. The cashier must manually override the computer every time he or she scans a sale item which, even with an experienced employee, eats up time.
When I'm pushing two Wal-Mart carts full of purchases out the door, after paying all of $200 for them—including non-grocery items like pet food, laundry soap, and the like—I'm fine with the extra time spent on all this. We don't have much money around here, but we have extra food and other essentials because of comp shopping. If I have to spend thirty minutes looking ad ads and then an hour and a half shopping for those goods, that's what I'll do—and keep doing as long as there's money to spend at the store and items on the shelves to buy.

I keep coming across misinformation on some of the prep sites I’ve encountered and thought it would be helpful to set some things straight with regard to seeds, seed storage and growing food and other useful plants. Here are some myths I’ve encountered and my attempts at clarification. While the misinformation may not endanger you, it can prevent you from using all resources available or create some false expectations.

Myth 1: If you save seeds from hybrid plants (commercial seeds, not heirloom), you’ll starve.
Seeds from hybrid plants, in my experience, will not fail to grow – they’re just not likely to produce what you expected. Hybrids do not breed true because a certain proportion of the off-spring will revert to the type of the parents. What you get will depend somewhat on what parent plants were used to produce the hybrid and what pollen your plant encountered when it was blooming. The resulting plants may not be hearty or continue to prosper after a few generations, but some will do just fine. It’s a bit of a crap shoot what you’ll end up with. I’ve had volunteer plants of various kinds grow in my compost heap, and it’s always amusing to see what strange and interesting produce appears from the seeds of hybrids I grew the year before. I got what looked like a white acorn squash one year and another volunteer was a particularly weird kind of melon of uncertain origin. They were still very tasty. You can pollinate your plants by hand (with a little paint brush substituting for a bee to carry the pollen) if you want to control what your plants encounter, or you can trust nature to find a stable strain that works for you. Open pollination encourages genetic diversity, and that’s a good thing in the plant world. 

Myth 2: You should keep fruit seeds and nuts for growing trees.
Fruit trees can produce wildly different types of fruit from the same tree’s seeds. Fruit trees for sale from your nursery are not produced from hybrid seeds. Fruit trees and some other fruits like grapes are made to produce consistent fruit by grafting the desired plant from a single source onto a hearty root stock. All the trees are exact clones of the original. You can grow fruit plants from seeds, but there’s no telling what the fruit will be like. If you have a tree that has fruit you really like, you can perpetuate it by grafting. Grafting isn’t very difficult, but may require a little practice. A sturdy, disease resistant base plant is essential (in the 1870s France’s vineyards were saved from near total destruction from a parasite infestation by grafting their plants onto resistant grape vine root stocks from Missouri). Another thing about fruits: some will not self pollinate (apples, for example) and a second plant of a different variety (called a cultivar) may be required within a specified area to allow you to have fruit. Of course, you will also need pollinating insects to carry the pollen between trees, and ideally the trees shouldn’t be further than 300 feet apart. Mulberry and olive trees are wind pollinated, but for mulberries you need a male tree to pollinate your female, fruit bearing trees. Nut trees aren’t as much of a problem with regard to breeding true, but nut trees that grow here in Missouri must be about 10 years old before they begin to produce useful nuts. It’s best to have mature trees scoped out on or near your property or to plant them now to get them started before you need them. Nut trees are wind and self pollinating and should be within 50 feet of each other to allow good pollination for successful production.

Myth 3: You have to have a garden to produce fresh food.
The quickest way to get something fresh into your diet, especially in the dead of winter, is by sprouting. Seeds and beans sprout within days and are loaded with nutrition -- far more than the seeds alone. Sprouting requires a little water, a tiny bit of daily attention, and a container that lets you wet the seeds without allowing them to mold. I use a large glass honey jar with a bit of fine mesh (a scrap from a wedding veil) held in place with a rubber band. Spicy sprouts like radish can add snap to bland preserved food. You can even sprout seeds while you’re bugging out by using a mesh bag to carry the sprouts (hikers sometimes do this -- a sort of garden on your back).

Myth 4: You have to buy seeds.
If your plants are heirloom varieties or you’re sprouting potatoes from your existing harvest or you’re growing herbs, you can perpetuate your plants nearly indefinitely. As I said before, if you’re willing to take some risks, you can get seeds from hybrids as well. Annuals like mint grow almost like perennials because they reseed themselves so readily. Herbs grow happily from seeds you gather or from the ones the plants themselves drop. Perennials like asparagus, rhubarb, garlic and cane berries such as raspberries only require a bed and occasional fertilizer like manure (human will do) to keep feeding you for years. Some perennial herbs don’t even need fertilizer and are hearty and drought resistant – you’re more likely to be beating them into submission to prevent them taking over your garden than worrying about how to keep them growing. Many plants can be grown from cuttings, runners, tubers and other asexual reproductive processes making plants that are genetically identical to their parent source. This has a bit of danger in that if all your plants are only one variety and a disease hits them, your whole crop will be wiped out (as happened during the Irish potato famine). Diversity is never a bad idea. Having at least two varieties of any kind of plant you like is preferable.

Myth 5: You can’t store seeds forever.
Well, this isn’t quite a myth, but seeds that are dry and stored away from moisture, excessive heat and light in air tight containers can last years. The germination rate may go down a bit after a few years so you might want to plant a few seeds per pot when getting them started, then transplant when you know what you’ve got. You can always check your germination rate by wetting seeds and sprouting them to see what percentage will be successful. I’ve had years old seeds that looked dead germinate a week after they would ordinarily been expected to. I guess they just took longer to wake up than fresher seeds. While seeds can germinate after years in storage, it’s ideal to periodically grow some new plants from your old seeds and save a fresh batch of seeds from the resulting produce. Always label the seeds with the date and rotate out your seed stores periodically if you can, but don’t panic if the only seeds you can find are from five or ten years ago. Chances are pretty good some of those will germinate and even one successful plant can produce many new seeds with good germination rates. After all, the oldest seeds to germinate have been 1300 (lotus) and 2000 (date palm) years old.

Myth 6: You should have seeds for these plants: (someone’s list follows)
Maybe, but if it includes things you and your family would never eat, that list is not very useful. Some things may not grow in your area or in your soil. If all you can grow is a container garden, some varieties of plants won’t work for you at all. Your personal list should be plants you can use and you have experience with. Add a few new plants to your garden each year if you can, or if your space is limited, rotate in new plants and retire out previous successes. Experiment, let things go to seed, learn as much as you can about the life cycle of your plants so you’ll know what to expect. A few years with a variety can teach you a lot about what changes in temperature and water can do to your harvest. Like me, one year you may be dumping cucumbers on anyone who’ll stand, still then begging for the favor returned the next year. On the other hand, my tomatoes and herbs never fail, my eggplants never succeed.
Having said that one list will not serve for all, I believe some plants are incredibly versatile and really deserve your consideration. Radishes make great sprouts, both the greens and the roots are good to eat, and the seed pods are a spicy treat that can be used like snow peas or other pod vegetables. Flax seeds can be sprouted or used for oil (linseed oil) for cooking, burning in lamps, or in wood finishing; and the fibers from the plant can be used for lamp wicks, rope and cloth; and an added bonus, flax flowers are quite pretty.
There aren’t too many things that corn hasn’t been used for including as a vegetable, a source of oil, and for meal and flour; but other grains and plants can be equally versatile and are often less resource intensive. Nuts can provide butters for eating, and the oil that separates out can be used for cooking or burning in oil lamps just as the ancient Romans used olive oil. These lamps are not as bright as kerosene but burn with little or no smoke or odor. If you remove enough of the oil from a nut, the flour remaining is high in protein and can be used to supplement grain flours.

If one final myth you believe is (Myth 7) you must grow domestic garden plants, let me say a few words in praise of the more nontraditional garden.  I need not mention the “weeds” growing in your yard that are good to eat as this has been handled by other writers, but don’t forget dandelions, wood sorrel, violets, and other edibles. You can also have mushrooms in your basement, a key lime tree on your sun porch and pots of herbs on your kitchen window ledge. But there are other plants that might be in your yard that are sources of food, too. Day lilies are grown as an ornamental, but you should experiment with eating them as a vegetable. They require no attention and come back every year. All parts of the plant are edible, as are all parts of the cattails that are growing in your pond or water feature – just make sure the water they are growing in is not contaminated. Rose hips, the red fruit on the rose bushes after the flowers have gone, are loaded with vitamin C, an essential nutrient that can be in short supply in some preserved foods. Redbud tree blossoms and seed pods are edible, and the trees are hearty and self sustaining. Many plants that are grown as ornamentals are good food, as long as you’re careful to identify them correctly and not confuse them with the sometimes toxic things that also can grow in yards and gardens. Experimenting with edible landscaping can increase your available resources without much added effort to your gardening as well as helping to disguise your supplies to protect them from thieves. There’s no reason why food can’t be beautiful, sustainable and very nearly free.

In your novel Patriots, you describe a 1968 Ford Bronco getting its radiator shot out. The only reason that the radiator was put in the front of early cars was because they did not have effective water pumps in the beginning, water flowed through and was cooled. 90% of the air that cools the radiator comes from under the bumper. You can totally block off the upper portion without any overheating issues. So a series of slats if you do not trust it, could be welded behind the grill if you wanted to.

If you are still afraid of overheating, a trick I learned years ago is very effective, and that is to add another windshield washer tank and pump, with the sprayer aiming at the front of the radiator. You then get evaporative cooling that is so effective you have to see it to believe it.

I would think that your mechanic in the book would certainly have foreseen that weak point and taken care of it. A metal plate could be welded at an angle from the bumper to the top of the radiator. It would then have functioned fine to bounce bullets up out of the way. Granted, weight saving is important, so you again could have used Lexan for half the weight, I would have also reinforced the floor, firewall and sides with either Lexan or Kevlar laid up as fiberglass panels. - Steve D.

We have been volunteering at the remains of a home of a prepper here in Ohio for the past two weekends.  Their home was destroyed by a tornado.  I have some simple suggestions that you might incorporate into your future work.
                1.  Store / Organize photos and documents in Ziploc bags.  In this case, they had the preverbal box of pictures stored on the second floor of a three story 1860 brick home with brick interior walls located flood plain.  The tornado remove the upper story plus half of the second floor.  The box of pictures was found in the remains of a closet.   The subsequent rains degraded the condition of the photos and other documents.  If they had simply used Ziploc bags as a means of organizing their photo they would have been in good condition even after ten days in the weather.
                2.  Recovered clothing needs to be washed as soon as it is recovered.  They really wanted as much of their clothing back as possible...  We sorted  through piles of rubble (bricks, plaster and mortar) looking for clothing.   The recovered clothing was bagged and taken to a laundry facility to be washed.  The learning here is that you need to have a means of washing all of your clothing in a mass grid down situation.  Washing by hand in a galvanized tub would have been unmanageable.  Lehman's in Kidron has some possible solutions...all of which would be major work - assuming you had time you could devote to it.
                3. Recovery tools need to be stored somewhere other than in the structure you intend to work on.   The list is long of tools used to recover items from a home.  First off you need to be able bodied, then you need tools and knowledge of how to use them. The tool list needs to include - bolt cutters, spud bars, wonder bars, a Hi-Lift jack, chains, wheel barrow, saws, 5 gallon pails, plastic bags, shovels, gloves, dust masks, hand tools and lots of tarps.  If these tools are all in the basement of your home you will be at a huge disadvantage. 
                4. Food storage - We recovered less than 1/8th of the year's supply of food that was on hand.  The storm took most of it and the rest was in poor condition due to exposure the weather and falling building materials.  Lots of dented cans, ruined bags, broken glass and wet paper goods.  Items that faired the best were dog food, can goods and bulk bagged items.  If here were 5 gallon pails they were lots along with the 3rd floor.
                5. Security -  the home owners were very concerned about looters.  No one can watch a destroyed property 24/7.  A community fire watch needs to be established.   On the second weekend we heard nothing about actual looting taking place.
Lastly, I would encourage your readers to go and work disasters in their area.  There is a lot to learn about tools, recovery, helping people in real need, understanding what damaged is possible, how that damage can affect everyday goods and understanding that it is enough to simply prepare.  The government has professionalized the first responders.  There may be a day when the professional first responders are busy with their own families and you will be the only responder that will ever be on hand.  - Stev

I have been reading your articles for quite a while now and I have a comment on the article Prepare To Share. This has been a difficult subject to deal with. I have been prepping for 2 1/2 years. At times my wife thinks I'm going a little over board. Last winter when we had such mild weather ( I work on heaters) we lived off the food I had stored due to the lack of work and income. This was eye opening and it has set my resolve to store more for the coming problems while I have work and money. In my efforts to prep I've talked with my brother and other family members to encourage them to prepare. As of now they are taking a laid back approach and plan to rely on the Lord for their needs. God is awesome and great and can do all things, but I believe he expects me to do my part. So the dilemma starts with my family. If I have enough stored for my wife, son and myself for when things un-zip, how can I take care of my brother and his family as well. This would add another 12 people to the mix. And what about the wonderer who come to my door with kids who are crying because they are hungry. Soon I will not have enough for my own family. I'm reminded of the story of the ten virgins. Half prepared for the unexpected and the rest didn't. The ones who did not prepare were not evil bad people, they were just unprepared. The ones who prepared weren't able to help them and have enough for themselves at the same time when the unexpected happened. This is the point I struggle with.

One idea is something I am reminded of from the great depression. Those without went looking for help while those who had offered to help in exchange for work. I live in the country, and I have a big barn. My thoughts have been to offer help to those who seek food, shelter & water in exchange for work. I heat with wood, I will surely welcome the help. If some one is un-willing to work then I might not have anything to share. If they help then I can share. These guest will sleep in the barn and I will offer food shelter & water. This is not slavery... I am reminder of the scripture "If a man will not work then he shall not eat."

With my family and friends who might need a hand, I have another thought: I have some super pails I made up for my-self with various items. While preparing these the thought occurred to make a pail to share. I have included some basic food items like noodles and sauce with a couple cans of meat down to two rolls of toilet paper and a P-38 can opener. There are matches, a candle and a inexpensive flashlight with some inexpensive over the counter meds. These 5 gallon pails are filled to the max. My wife is excited about these and she wants me to make 10 more. This is something I can do for my family members and friends without taking away from my wife and son.

I do not know if this is the right way to prepare and share with those around? I pray that when I am faced with this decision he will provide the means and the wisdom.

In His Service. - Keith R. in Kansas

A reminder that another Self-Reliance Expo will be held in Dallas, Texas, July 27-28, 2012. Their most recent event (in Colorado Springs, Colorado), was a huge success. OBTW, wear your SurvivalBlog T-shirt or hat and see who you meet.

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Greg C. suggested an essay by one of my favorite talk radio hosts: Are We There Yet? A short term look at the road ahead, by Brian Wilson

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Reader C.D.V. mentioned a post-collapse Christian novel audiobook that is available free for just the month of July, from Christian Audio: The Sword, book one in The Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan Litfin

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Jeff H. recommended some recent Chaos Manor commentary by Jerry Pournelle: A Tale of Two Massacres

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Paul B. recommended this but of modern COINTELPRO: The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies

"Never retreat alone, shoot without an object or lay down your gun until the last extremity." - Private James Collins at King's Mountain, 1780

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today is the birthday of Simón Bolivar. His full name: Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco. He was born July 24, 1783 and died December 17, 1830. Bolivar will always be remembered as an early abolitionist and as "The Liberator"--the man who led Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Venezuela to independence.


Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

If things go bad do you bug in or do you bug out.  This decision will probably be made at the time depending on the expectations of what the emergency will be and just how bad you expect conditions to become.  Are you expecting a hurricane or other disaster sizable enough to worry about?  Will you be gone for a week then return and open the house back up?  Are you expecting a Katrina size event or might it unexpectedly turn into a long term emergency where the only things you have will be those things you take with you.  

What is your home like, is it standard wood frame construction?  I remember a picture taken after a wildland fire in California.  The picture encompasses what looks like the remnants of hundreds of homes.  In the middle of this devastation is one intact home.  The home owner had anticipated the hazard and had prepared for it.  He had built a fireproof home.  If I remember correctly he rode out the fire at home. Now I'm not saying that I wouldn't want to bug out in this situation but this guy could have moved back in the next day even if he did leave.  He had prepared for this eventuality, everyone else had to find a new home for several months or years till they could rebuild.  If memory serves  this guy was an architect.  I wonder how many or his neighbors hired him to design their homes.  Are you worried about civil unrest?  Just how defensible is your home over the long term?  Certainly, bugging in will have the advantage of the volume of supplies you can have on hand.   Other considerations may make this option untenable.  

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that your bug out location is a family members residence in the mountains.  There is a chance of a forest fire so your home is their bug out location.  This means that both places should have an abundance of supplies.  You will want to carry as many of those supplies with you as possible, especially if you expect an extended stay.  Most bug out bags are intended to sustain you for up to three days.  This is to allow you to get back to your supplies.  A longer dislocation will be better served with a different solution.

One answer might be a bug out trailer.  Think of all those people after Katrina, or any number of other emergencies, looking for a place to sleep.  Would a FEMA camp be your first choice?  I'd rather have a root canal.  You might have to drive a long way to find a motel room.  Even if you did find one how long could you afford to pay for it.  Would they be willing or able to take your credit card?  Having a significant portion of your bug out supplies already loaded can mean getting out of Dodge faster with more.  I have used tents before but I find trailers, campers and motor homes more comfortable especially for a protracted stay.

If you don't want to live at a FEMA camp then you had better have a bug out location or at least a bug out vehicle.  Do you have another property in a safer spot?  Fine, install a septic tank and possibly a well there and you are set.  Nothing to steal or burn down, just park your trailer on your pad and you are good to go.  If your home is the bug out location for your friends or family you might want to install a Y in your sewer line so they can have a convenient sewer hookup for their trailer or for your trailer if it becomes a spare room.  Setting up a sewer dump for a trailer is a relatively easy project now.  Later it may be difficult to find the materials and equipment.  Even if the ground is easy enough to dig by hand leaving home to acquire the materials could be a security issue.

Do you have family or friends you could stay with?  Would you be more welcome if you had your own bedroom, bath, and food?  I personally would be more comfortable if I could get away from my host for a significant amount of time.  If living with them was my first choice I would have moved in already.  If they have to bug out it might be easier to put them up in your trailer rather than displacing one of the kids.  After all if living with you was their first choice they would have already moved in.  When I was a kid my grandparents came to visit for a month or more every summer.  We had a few acres so my dad and I built a septic system just for their trailer.  Every year they parked in their spot.  We ran a garden hose and electricity, they set up their awning and deck chairs and in an hour everything was set.  

When do you bug out?  This has been covered many times by many authors but generally the sooner the better.  The less traffic the faster you will move and the easier it will be to get fuel and other supplies.  Whether you will look like a fool if you bug out too soon is something you will have to figure out for yourself.  If you leave too late it could get to the point where you are better off bugging in.

So what are you looking for?  The bigger it is the more space you will have for yourself and your supplies.  The smaller it is the more maneuverable it will be and the less power it will take to pull.  Your decision will also be based on the vehicle you have to tow it with.  If you have a Prius then you are probably reading the wrong article, unless you plan to tow your Prius with your motor home.  If you have a 4X4 one ton pickup then you can tow quite a bit.  All this applies to a motor home also if that is the way you want to go.  Much can be accomplished with an old horse trailer or U-Haul type trailer also.  I had a cab over camper that set in the back of my pickup once.  With that and a small tow behind trailer you could carry a lot.  I prefer the pickup option.  My grandparents towed with their car.  My uncle had a van that he towed his trailer with.  A buddy of mine had a camper van that we traveled across the country in.  What you already have, what your personal situation is, and what you preferences are will all factor in on your final decision.

Let's take a look at the trailer.  You will want enough beds for the immediate family, a bathroom, and a kitchen.  The bathroom does not have to  be grand but there are times when you do want privacy.  Being able to close off the master bedroom from the kids is also a bonus. 

In the kitchen you will want a two fuel refrigerator.  Propane, 12 volt, 120 volt  are the likely options and if you can find a unit with all three so much the better.  Multiple energy options means you are more likely to have refrigeration.  In the novel One Second After, the daughter of the main character died because he could not refrigerate her medicine.  As we all know the fridge is a very useful item and being without one would be a bit cumbersome.  If you had a power outage that lasted days then you could move the refrigerator food into the trailer and use the small fridge if you had to.  If your freezer finally gave up the ghost you could turn down, all the way, either the house or trailer fridge and at least delay the thawing process while using the other fridge for cool foods.   With a mobile survival shelter you will have options as to the best way to use it.

I would prefer a trailer with a couple axles.  You will be adding extra weight so spreading that to more than one axle will make your trailer more reliable.  You will certainly want to be packing spare tires but being able to drive a mile down the road before dealing with a flat could mean the difference of escaping a sticky situation or being forced to deal with it.  Remember, the best way to win a fight is to avoid it.  Also more axles mean more brakes thereby reducing the wear on your main vehicle.  If you find a used trailer with less than optimum axles, moan and groan to get the price down while inwardly smiling that you can use the money saved to put in beefier axles and brakes.   At some point you might want to consider an upgrade to the suspension system.  There are a number of air suspension brands out there that would give you the option to enhance your suspension as you add weight to the trailer.  These products have a 12 volt air compressor that you pipe into the system.  As you add or reduce weight you can change the pressure in the air bags thereby taking some of the weight off the springs.   You may want these for your vehicle as well as your trailer.  Many trailers are designed to carry a heavy load so this may not be necessary.  You will also have to consider the tow hitch.  Each hitch type has a maximum load capacity.  You will want to mount a hitch on your vehicle that is compatible with your fully loaded trailer.  The strongest is a fifth wheel setup.  If you go with the motor home option the hitch may well be a moot question unless you tow a trailer behind that.

The great thing about a travel trailer is that they are made to store an abundance of stuff.  The trick will be finding all the little cubby holes that were built into it.  If you give some thought to provisioning then you should be able to live with just this storage for a fortnight or two without any problems and probably much, much longer.  One thing you can put in a bug out vehicle or trailer is a number of tools.  You might be able to get a Swiss Army Knife or a Leatherman in a bug out bag but you will need a lot more tools than that to survive for an extended time.

You will need everything from toilet paper to tonight's dinner.  You will need water, fuel, a way to start a fire and so many other things that no list would ever be complete.  One of the storage areas often overlooked is the skirted area under the trailer. This is not a readily accessible area but for many items that is not important.  Most travel trailers come with a couple small propane bottles on the tongue.  Leave them in place and use them first.  They are the easiest to steal so you are better off if the empty or partly filled tank disappears. They can also be removed and refilled without having to take the entire trailer.  In a pinch they could be used as a barter item.  They make horizontal propane tanks that you can mount under the trailer next to the frame.  One or more of these tanks will give you a significantly increased storage capacity.  You may want to set up some sort of a valve system so that if a thief takes one tank you can still use the others.  A thief may think it faster to cut your propane line than to use a wrench so having a way to isolate each line is important.  Anything mounted out of sight will likely be out of mind and even if a thief becomes aware of their presence the complication of removing something mounted under the rig should deter most.

Water is another critical concern.  Here again you probably have built in water and sewer tanks.  Additional water storage is easily added thereby expanding your time between replenishment.  Do you already have a bunch of water jugs in the basement?  That is great but another hundred or more gallons might sound pretty good.  I would want to drain and replace the water on a semi-regular  basis to keep it fresh but you could use that water for the lawn, or to wash the car if you were concerned about wasting it.  Most trailers are designed with slightly larger sewage tanks than water tanks.  If you add more water storage it is nice to add more yuck tank capacity but it is probably going to be easier to get rid of the sewage than it is to find clean water and water is necessary for life.  The dish water can also be used to flush the toilet and if necessary an out house can be built.  Remember to bring plenty of paper plates to minimize the water usage.  I built a motor home once where the gray water and black water were in separate tanks.  In a pinch I could dump the gray water in a ditch then close the dump valve, open both tank valves and double my black water storage.  Not my first choice but dumping some shower water in a ditch is a minor sin.  Road side trailer parks usually have a dump site that you can use for a fee.  City sewers can be accessed by removing the heavy lid covering the access port.  Some cities have designated sights to dump your sewage but all would rather have you use the sewer system than to dump your sewage out in the open.

You will need, or at least want, electricity.  A small generator can be mounted underneath the rig.  This saves space inside and it is not as readily accessible to a thief, as a generator sitting on the ground, especially if some thought is taken on the installation.  When I was in the Army a radio was stolen from a squad member, while he was listening to it.  It was sitting in the window and someone reached up from outside, grabbed it and took off.  Anything you can do to make stealing your equipment or supplies more time consuming, noisy, or difficult for a thief is to your benefit.  You will need fuel for the generator but  here again that can go underneath.  This is another case where your bug out resources can be used to bug in.  If the power is out you can use your generator to power the fridge, freezer, heater, and lights at your home.  If you show up at the in-laws with a power source you might be doubly welcome.  You may have to rotate these items depending on the size of the generator but a freezer run for an hour a day and rarely opened will stay frozen.  As soon as the freezer or refrigerator drops to the set point it will shut off and you can move to the next appliance.   Generators can be set up to run in concert with each other.  Some are designed to do this easily.  The advantage is efficiency.  If you have an 1800 watt load a two kilowatt generator will be more efficient than a 4KW gen. set.  If you get to your friends and they have a larger generator then you can run your unit for the times where the load is light and theirs when the load is heaver and both if you have a really heavy load.  A multifuel generator or multiple generators where each can run on different fuels gives also has the benefit to be able to adapt to what ever is available.  Those solar panels you have been thinking of can be installed on the roof of your trailer.  If you bug in you have that power available and if you bug out then the power source is already packed.  

While we are on the subject of fuel you might consider finding a place to put  a fuel tank suitable for extra fuel for your primary vehicle.  This would be a last ditch reserve to get you a bit further down the road.  Every few months I would use this to fill my vehicles then I would refill it with fresh fuel.  Gas and diesel do get old so rotating your fuel stock is as important as rotating your food stock.  If you don't want to rotate the fuel as often then you might add a fuel stabilizer.  I would suggest fuel stabilizer as part of your emergency supplies.  If you are lucky enough to get some warning and can lay in a stash of fuel having the ability to stabilize that fuel could make a big difference.  Even then I wouldn't want to go past a year on gasoline.  Diesel might fare a little better but why stretch it if you don't have to.  I have used fuel older than a year but after a while it becomes a problem.  The engine runs rough and eventually it is useless.  If you have a truck then you can probably find a secondary tank to place under the bed and save that weight and space under the trailer.  Then again you really can't have too much fuel.   If, for example, you take two cars or if a less prepared buddy is tagging along with you it might be better to put some fuel in his tank than to have him in your vehicle.   You will have to weigh the fuel against the loss of resources.   Remember that fuel is always traded for what we want.  We trade fuel for heat .  We trade fuel to move us and our assets from one place to another.  We trade fuel for the electricity to power a myriad of things.  If we have enough we can also trade fuel for  other supplies.

If you haven't already filled up the entire underbelly of your once relatively light trailer, think about adding, what I will call "tubs" underneath.  These are five sided containers of appropriate dimensions attached underneath and sealed to the floor.  An access panel is placed in the floor so this additional space is accessible from inside.  You will need to put a lip at the top of the tub to attach it to the floor.  If some care is given when cutting the floor the panel that is cut out can rest on a portion of the lip of the tub to form the top.  A simple finger hole will make removing the panel easy.  Another design might be to cut the hole, drop the tub in place and use a thin plywood or other material to level out the floor around the lip.  A carpet can then be laid in place to hide the existence of this storage.  If you left some of your food, guns and ammo here you would probably still be able to survive if you were robbed.  Once the trailer is packed this will give months worth of food.  

Some thought will have to be given as to placement of this additional storage in order to maximize space.  A smaller trailer will of course store less underneath but then it will also store less inside.   Fuel and water tanks can be placed pretty much anywhere as long as the fill and drain are accessible.  The tubs need to be mounted where you have open floor space to install the access panel.  That means the tubs will do better down the centerline and the tanks are better suited down the sides.  

A VHF and/or a CB radio in both the vehicle and the trailer so you can communicate if you are separated.  You might be able to use hand held radios in place of base stations but I would prefer the hand held radios as a backup.  VHF and CB are for relatively short distance so I would consider a Single Side Band radio if you want to be able to communicate over an extended distance.  An SSB is capable of communicating half way around the world, given the right ionospheric conditions.  The size of most SSB radios will probably relegate it to the trailer or your home.  You will want to set up a primary channel where you can contact friends and family.  If you don't know which frequency to listen on or call on then it will be shear luck if you can find each other.  Sometimes communication is better in one frequency than another so a backup frequency is a good idea.  You will also want to set up a schedule.  It might be easy for you to listen to the radio all day while you are driving but at home you will have a few other things to do, especially if you are expecting company.  You can also use your cell phone but if the towers are down or overloaded they will be of little use.  If you can't get through on the cell phone you might try a text message.  Text takes less band width and will go through sometimes when voice will not.

Batteries are another item that will be vying for weight and space.  If you have a motor home you will want your engine battery and a set of house batteries.  After camping for a few days and finding out that you can't start the engine because you used all your battery up running the fridge, lights, and radio will be a real bummer.

Go to trailer shows and go to boat shows.  Both are designed for maximum storage and it is a really fun way to get some great ideas not only for storage but for comfort.   Survival is certainly primary but the longer this bug out lasts the more important comfort becomes.  Do not underestimate the importance of your mind set.  The  longer a situation lasts the harder it will be to keep your spirits up.  If you allow yourself to become depressed survival is much less likely.

You can carry a motorcycle or bicycles on the back and they make boat carriers that allow you to put a skiff on top.  These are usually mounted on a truck but I have seen them on trailers.  Their design is such that it simplifies the loading of the boat.   A simple car top carrier could also provide needed space.  

Take the family on a day trip, or if you already have the trailer or a tent, for the weekend, to visit a few campgrounds. Many of these places have something to keep the kids entertained while you walk around and start a few conversations.  Most of these people are very friendly and when you tell them you are thinking about buying or improving a trailer they will probably be more than happy to have a new ear to brag to.  Some of these people have been using a travel trailer or motor home for years and they are a wealth of information.

If you live in a warm climate a car port would be nice to keep most of the rain off and to keep the direct sun off it.  If you want to use the solar panels you can park the trailer on the North side of a building which will protect the trailer from direct sun while still allowing a significant light to collect on the solar panels.  When you open the door and you can't go into the trailer for ten minutes the food stored inside is not going to last as long.  If you live in a cold climate then a heated garage would be nice.  You don't have to keep the garage at 70 degrees but if you can keep it above freezing then you don't have to empty the water system for six months of every year.  If it is not all that cold parking on the South side of a building will give the solar panels better sun and help warm the trailer.

When you get done you will have created a mother-in-law apartment, pantry, and mobile survival shelter.  How you set it up will depend on your personality, resources, and perceived needs.  The options are endless.

When I first started hiking and backpacking in the 1960s and 1970s few people bothered to treat their backcountry water in the USA. If it looked good it probably was good and we drank from streams and lakes without a second thought to the quality of the water in them. Unfortunately this is no longer the case and serious illnesses can be contracted by failing to treat the water you drink. Since I have not yet experienced TEOTWAWKI, I will describe my experiences with different water treatment methods from the viewpoint of a hiker and backpacker. I think that in most cases you will agree with me that a backpacker’s water needs and treatment of choice will not be very different from a prepper trying to make his way cross country or possibly cross city to his home or retreat.

When cases of Giardia began to be reported in the 1980s I began to treat my backcountry water with iodine tablets. Iodine was the Army’s standard water treatment chemical for individual soldiers (canteen cases even had a little pouch on the outside for the bottle). The tablets are quick and easy to use; just pop two in a quart of water and wait 30 minutes (longer is better, especially with cold water) before drinking. Iodine tablets are cheap, compact, failure proof and lightweight to carry. They also turn your water and water containers brown and do not taste very good. I treated a lot of water with iodine. My wife complained about the taste, my kids complained about the taste, I thought about complaining about the taste but nobody ever got sick from bad water.

Iodine still holds some advantages for the prepper. The bottles are relatively cheap ($5-7), readily available at places like Wal-Mart (packaged as Coghlan’s Emergency Germicidal Drinking Water Tablets) and other big stores that have a camping department and fit in almost any pack or container. One bottle treats 25 quarts of water. An unopened bottle has a shelf life of four years. More recently it is possible to buy iodine tablets with an extra bottle of taste neutralizer. Sold as Potable Aqua P.A. Plus this combination is said to be effective at hiding the taste of the iodine.   While I haven’t actually tried this version yet I do have several sets in my survival gear – just in case. I can live with whatever taste might remain but not without the water!
(If you really want to save on cost and weight you might consider a bottle of Pure USP grade iodine crystals; marketed as Polar Pure. One small four ounce bottle will treat up to 2,000 quarts of water. The crystals last indefinitely; some Appalachian Trail "thru hikers" complete their 6 month 2,200 mile journey on one bottle of Polar Pure and have leftovers for their next long distance adventure.)

Note: If you want to neutralize the unpleasant taste of the iodine from either tablets or crystals you can use any powdered citrus drink or simply crush up a Vitamin C tablet and add to the water after the required waiting time has passed.

Moving up from iodine tablets I bought a Katadyn Hiker PRO pump microfilter. This is pretty much the standard filter system in use among many hikers and campers. There are better (cheaper, faster, more efficient) systems available but this specific model seems to be carried in most outdoor and Army-Navy shops. Again, you can even buy them In Wal-Mart!

Special Note: check the details of any pump system you buy: micro filters treat giardia, cryptosporidium and similar bacteria in water but not viruses. Usually this is not a problem in the continental USA; if you are travel outside the country you should consider water purifiers which also eliminate viruses. If you are really concerned about the quality of the water you are getting out of a micro filter you can always treat it with chemicals too. If you dose with chemicals first the filter will remove any objectionable taste.

The Hiker filter (you can buy a Hiker purifier or replace the standard microfilter with a purifier class filter is desired) is relatively heavy and seems to take forever to un-package and connect the input and output hoses to the correct ports on the filter body (it is important not to mix hoses or contaminate the output hose with “bad” water) and get started. It takes a minute or two of pumping to filter a quart of water.  It is much easier if you have two or three extra hands to hold the output hose, water bottle, input hose and pump assembly while treating water. The pumping action itself is somewhat tiring and it helps to trade off assignments if you have many quarts to filter.

If you get the idea I do really not like pump filters you are correct. They are heavy and a hassle to use; it helps if you are an octopus. However they work well (when they are not clogged) and are an effective way to treat relatively large amounts of water in a short time. I use a Hiker filter when backpacking with my two adult sons. We filter 9-12 quarts of water each night for dinner and to refill our 3-liter water reservoirs for the next day’s hiking. It takes some time but the cold, clear, pure water taste is worth it for larger parties. (Note to self: As I write this it becomes obvious that maybe a gravity filter system would work better for my needs. It does all the work by itself and can effectively filter all the water we need for the next day’s hiking. I will have to look into this as there are several gravity filter systems available that look ideal for my needs).

The big advantages of pump-type filters are two- fold: great tasting water and (almost) immediate drinking water availability. The disadvantages include the weight of the system and the hoses and associated hassles of setting them up, pumping water and then packing them away. In addition, pump filters clog when you least expect them to and being mechanical they are subject to failure for a variety of reasons.
Besides chemical treatment and mechanical filters a relatively new water treatment option uses UV light to make sterile all the harmful things in wilderness water. [JWR Adds: The UV light does not kill all of the microbes. Rather, it renders them incapable of reproducing, so they simply pass through your digestive tract without multiplying.]

I bought a Steripen UV water purifier after watching a thirsty Appalachian Trail thru-hiker arrive at a mountain stream and treat his drinking water in under a minute (1/2 liter bottle). I was impressed by the speed and efficiency the way the Steripen handled the job.  While I fussed with my Hiker filter he treated and drank several bottles of water with an efficiency I envied, packed back up and headed out. I wanted one!

Using such a system allows a traveler to immediately treat just the water he needs now and use other methods to treat water to be carried and consumed later. In the case of the Appalachian Trail hiker he treated his water reservoirs with Polar Pure allowing the chemicals to work while he hiked. The concept of being able to immediately treat and drink the water when you need it and then allow time for a chemical treatment to neutralize all the bugs in the water you are carrying is indeed an attractive approach to a prepper on the move.

I chose the Classic model Steripen for my personal use. There are smaller and lighter units but the Classic uses four AA batteries while the lighter models use more specialized and expensive CR-123 cells. Using AAs makes sense from a standardization point of view and I use them in my flashlights and weather radio as well. As a backpacker I figured I could buy AA batteries just about anywhere in the world – this same principal would be equally important in a SHTF situation. I always try to avoid special, hard to find batteries in all my outdoor gear – it is too much hassle trying to find them when you need them. I was disappointed however to discover that the Steripen really puts a drain on ordinary alkaline batteries – you get only about 10-20 one quart treatments with them before they are exhausted. You really need either lithium or rechargeable NiMh cells to work efficiently. Since all my backpacking trips are short duration a single set of rechargeables lasts me through a typical weekend outing. Availability of these more specialized batteries might be a concern for the traveling prepper or maybe not if you go the rechargeable route as many have suggested in this blog.
We took a pair of Steripens on our annual “three guys” backpacking trip and discovered that filtering 10 quarts of water at a time was more of a hassle than anticipated. We had to do a quart bottle at a time and sometimes the Steripens did not want to work on the next bottle – perhaps they needed to ‘cool off” after a treatment? It was slow methodical work and somewhat annoying. We went back to using the Hiker filter for these trips.

An alternative approach to instantly treating water with a UV system is the personal water filter, either contained in a water bottle such as the Bota Outback Water Filter  or the Katadyn MyBottle Microfilter (don’t they make this in more subdued colors?) or an individual filter straw like the Frontier Emergency Water Filter System Straw. Either system allows quick and easy water treatment on the go: simply scoop up a bottle full of water, replace the top and drink/suck clean Pure water. I have an older model filter bottle that I use so I can’t comment specifically on these particular versions but if water is plentiful this is by far the easiest way to replenish on the move. Drink your fill and then top off your spare water containers with water and treat with the chemical of your choice (see below).
If you use your filters for hiking and camping it is important to properly clean them before storage. Simply add 4-6 drop of chlorine bleach to a quart of water and filter it through the system. Remove the filter element and allow all the parts to dry thoroughly before putting them away.

Whether you use pump filters, bottle filters or UV light systems to filter your water you must always have a back up for when these devices fail; and fail they will. Filters are very prone to clogging and of course being mechanical can also break when you least expect them to. The Steripen requires batteries and even though the bulb itself has a life expectancy of over 3,000 treatment the device is mechanical and probably would not survive being dropped onto rocky ground etc. Remember, one is none and two is one.

I used to carry a bottle of ordinary chlorine bleach as back up. I re-purposed a small eye dropper container and after washing it out filled it with unscented Clorox bleach.  I only used this a couple times as the container leaked within the plastic bag I had it stored and risked damaging my clothes and other gear. Four drops per quart is the standard dose; let sit at least 30 minutes for average water at average temperatures, longer for cloudy water or cold temps. You should still smell the chlorine when you open the bottle. If you cannot smell the bleach please add 4 more drops, shake and wait an additional 30 minutes. As with all chemical treatments be sure to open the screw top slightly and allow the treated water to wash away any contamination that may reside on the lid and threads from when you filled the bottle originally.

BTW, chlorine is still a very useful tool for disinfecting water on a large scale. A single teaspoon of bleach will treat a 5 gallon container of water at a very low price. A bottle of plain, unscented bleach (Clorox is a good example) should be in the emergency stores for ever survivalist. Since many municipalities treat their city water with chlorine most people will not even object to the taste!
I now carry Katadyn MicroPur MP1 tablets as my primary back up water treatment. The MicroPur tablets release chlorine dioxide when dissolved in water; the same chemical used to disinfect many municipal water supplies. Each tablet treats one quart of water and is individually wrapped in a tough, durable foil package. Instructions are simple: tear open the foil package and drop into a quart of water. The FDA mandated instructions tell you to wait four hours before drinking but a little on- line research revealed that this is a worst case scenario for very cold, very turbid (cloudy) water. If your water is clear and not ice cold than you can wait 30 minutes and drink without a worry.  I carry a number of foil packets in all my first aid and survival kits. They are very useful when day hiking and the water you carried from home runs out. I pack a minimum of 6-8 tablets in a kit; they are my backup for getting home hydrated and healthy. I really like the MicroPur tablets and recommend them as a lightweight, compact and very effective water treatment technique.

I hope this review of some of the available methods I have used for treating questionable water is of use to you. A quick review of on-line camping and survival stores will reveal many additional options for treating “bad” water. For example I have heard good reviews for Aquamira solutions – I met another pair of Appalachian Trail thru hikers using this two part solution to treat all their water on the way from Georgia to Maine. Aquamira also makes water treatment tablets similar to the MicroPur system – I use the MicroPur MP1’s because they are readily available in the stores I frequent but you might find the Aquamira better for your use. My advice is to consider your requirements, research the choices available and select a technique/system that works for you. Actually you need to select TWO systems to be truly prepared; but then you already knew that didn’t you?

Dear Mr. Rawles:
Some of your French, Italian or German readers might like to try this link to the official Swiss Civil Defense web page.  The last five links on the page titled ITC or ITAP are the ones with the specs. The 4th link is also quite interesting, and as you can see, they even have the EMP problem entirely figured out, in typical Swiss fashion
I read somewhere that Oak Ridge might have translated some of these documents, or earlier versions thereof but I have yet to come across these on the net.
Beste grussen und danke ein andere mal. - Jason L.

A good read, and the author is right, we shouldn't paint with a broad brush. However I think he had one glaring inaccuracy, and that inaccuracy is regarding the crucial fact is the crux of the problem people have with government pensions. he wrote:
"I contribute 3% of my salary to my government retirement. Not much you say, but in the civilian corporate world, most companies provide 100% of the employees’ retirement without employee contribution"
This is a blatant falsehood. Company provided pensions have been getting phased out aggressively. They may have been the norm in earlier decades, but they are almost unheard of now. Virtually every company is using a 401k or IRA program where the employee is generally providing most or all of the funding. Many companies do match some portion of employee contributions (typically, 3-6%)
To compound this, 401ks are defined contributions - if the stock market crashes, then so does my retirement. Taxpayers are on the line for public employee pensions, with guaranteed rates of return.  Some unions and politicians made sweetheart deals when the stock market was returning 10-15%, promising that level of return into the future.  But now that the market is returning 1%, taxpayers are going to be held for the remainder, or alternately governments will go bankrupt. - Jason C.

John Jacob Schmidt (the host of Radio Free Redoubt) mentioned that the latest version of the AmRRON Communications plan is now available. 

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Coffee Churches? Book studies the growth of the evangelical movement in the northwest: Evangelical vs. Liberal.

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The latest flying video from "Ttabs" shows the vast timberland wilderness area in north-central Idaho. Talk about "lightly populated"! And simply gorgeous...

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A handy set of maps. Of course the Redoubt States rate quite well.

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The Redoubt shines, as usual: Where You'll Want to Live in 2032

Woolsey: Stormy preview of electric-grid crash. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

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A very useful article by Dr. Bones: Sleep Deprivation in Survival Situations

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Peter S. sent this insightful piece about Syrian Civil War and some lessons learned about "Getting Out of Dodge": Life During Wartime

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M.C.C.L. suggested this over at Sailboat Diaries: Why I’m Leaving America

"Judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment." - Simón Bolivar

Monday, July 23, 2012

One of the most anticipated handguns to come along, is the new Springfield Armory XDs, single-stack, 5+1 shot, .45ACP pistol. This gun was due to be released in March of this year, but there were production  delays that had to be worked out. And, I am grateful for a company like Springfield Armory, who won't release a gun until it is what it is supposed to be, instead of releasing the gun sooner, and then facing a recall of thousands of guns down the road because of some kind of glitch. Still, people want what they can't have - and the demand for the all-new XDs was there - people were placing orders with their local gun shops for the gun, long before they were due to come out. Some people always must have the newest guns, or be the first on their block to own a new gun model. I have to admit, I was always hounding Deb Williams, at Springfield Armory for my sample. I know that she got sick and tired of the weekly e-mails, asking when the XDs was coming out. She has a job I don't want!
Okay, the new XDs arrived, and to be honest with you, it was more than I expected - the gun was nicer in all respects than I anticipated from the press releases and the web site. I like it when I'm pleasantly surprised in a good way. Since Springfield Armory first came out with the XD line of handguns, it has been a real hit for them and the consumer. And, along the way, there were improvements made, as well as smaller compact and sub-compact models, and even newer models, like the XDm - which has also been a big hit. So, I was expecting something super-kool with the XDs, and I wasn't disappointed in the least.
With so many folks getting their concealed carry licenses, there is a vast market for small, concealable handguns that can stop an attack. If you've read any of my articles on SurvivalBlog for any length of time, you know I don't like the .380ACP as my main concealed carry gun - I think, at best, the .380 ACP is a marginal manstopper. I prefer something in 9mm or .38 Special an larger. And I think the .40 S&W and .45ACP are even better manstoppers. The market is flooded with itty-bitty .380 ACP handguns, and to be sure, they are really nice guns, well-made and very small for concealed carry. I carry a Ruger LCP .380 ACP in an ankle holster. But I carry that as a back-up to whatever my main carry gun is.
Make no mistake, I love the .45ACP as a manstopper, so I knew the new Springfield Armory XDs was gonna find a new home in my meager firearm collection, even before it arrived. Okay, what we have with the XDs is a 5+1 shot sub-compact .45ACP pistol. The gun only weighs 21.5 oz, and that's light for such a powerful round. Part of the lightness comes from the polymer frame. The frame has aggressive checkering on it, for a secure grip. The barrel is only 3.3" long - about as small as you can get, and still have a gun work reliably in this caliber. Overall height of the gun is only 4.4", with an overall length of 6.3", and the width is only 1" - we're talking a VERY concealable, and powerful handgun here, folks. The slide is Melonite coated, for a long-lasting and durable finish - and a bi-tone model is also available, with bare stainless steel slide.
I like the sights on the XDs, the front sight is a red, fiber optic one, and it really stands out, even under low-light. The rear sight is a combat-style, with two white dots - the front and rear sight are very fast to pick-up when you raise the gun to eye level to shoot it. The barrel is Melonite coated and it has a fully supported ramp, too - for easy of chambering a round from the magazine. The slide is forged stainless steel, too. The gun comes with two, 5 round mags, but there is an optional 7 round mag you can get, too. For carry, I'll go with the 5 round mag, and use the 7 round magazine as my spare, in a pouch on my belt.
The USA trigger system is on the XDs - this is what Springfield Armory calls their Ultra Safety Assurance trigger system. There is a little lever in the face of the trigger, that acts as a safety - the gun won't fire if you don't have your finger on the trigger. There is also a grip-safety - and you have to have a firm grip on the gun, that allows the grip safety to be depressed before the gun will fire, too. There is also a striker safety, that locks the striker in place - so the gun won't fire if dropped. There's a loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide, too. A fail-safe disassembly procedure makes certain that you can't disassemble the gun with a round in the chamber. As already mentioned, there is aggressive checkering on the polymer frame - it was so popular on the XDm line-up, that Springfield Armory made it even more aggressive on the XDs for a sure purchase on the gun when firing.
One thing I'm really big on is, how does a gun feel in my hand? If it doesn't feel right or fit my hand, I'm simply not gonna shoot it as well as I could shoot it. The XDs comes with two backstraps - that allows you to customize the frame of the gun to fit your hand best. This is a great idea, and more gun companies are following suit in this regard. The XDs just feels "natural" in my hand. I mean, this baby really feels good - I don't know how else to spell this out. There is also a Picatinny rail on the frame of the gun, for mounting a laser or light - most sub-compact handguns don't have this feature. Another plus in my book for the XDs.
The XDs is really small, and when laying in my hand, it's hard to believe that this is a .45ACP handgun - I have sub-compact 9mm and .40 S&W handguns that are bigger than this - and many .380 ACP full-sized pistols are even bigger than the XDs is. The XDs is made in Croatia, and they are doing this gun up right for Springfield Armory. Being made in eastern Europe helps keep the cost of the gun down.
So, how does the XDs shoot? Glad you asked, bet you thought I was never gonna get around to that, didn't you? Well, with all the super-kool features on this gun, I wanted to point some of 'em out to you. I had a good selection of .45ACP on-hand for testing, this included the Winchester 230 grain FMJ white box USA load - which is always a good round for target practice and function testing. I also had Black Hills Ammunition's new steel cased 185 grain JHP ammo, as well as their steel case 230 grain FMJ load. Also from Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 185 grain all-copper Barnes TAC-XP hollow round, which is rated +P. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their 185 grain Barnes all-copper TAC-XP load, that is also +P rated, and their 230 grain JHP +P load, and their 255 grain Hard Cast FN +P load. So, I had a good variety of .45ACP to test in the next XDs. Deb Williams, at Springfield Armory asked her husband Dave, who heads-up their Custom Shop, and Robbie Leatham, who is their Ace competition shooter, how well the XDs would handle +P loads. They both said it wouldn't be a problem, but they told Deb to tell me, that I wouldn't enjoy shooting +P loads in the little XDs.
I did my accuracy shooting from 15-yards, which is a fair distance, for such a small pistol. And, all the loads mentioned above kept my rounds inside of 3" or less - and more often than not, most of the rounds were always in the 2" to 2 1/2" range. So, how did the XDs like the +P loads? Well, there were no problems with any of the +P loads - the gun functioned 100% of the time - not a hint of a bobble. The Black Hills Ammunition 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP load that is +P rated didn't feel bad at all, nor did the 185-gr JHP steel cased load, or their 230-gr FMJ steel cased load. The Winchester 230-gr FMJ load felt like it "kicked" a little more than the Black Hills 23-gr FMJ did - could just be my imagination, though. The Buffalo Bore +P loads - they just weren't any fun to shoot in this little gun. Of course, I was getting tired, after firing more than 200 rounds in my first shooting session, and my hand was getting a little sore. The Buffalo Bore 255-gr Hard Cast FN load - that one was a real killer in the little XDs - you don't want to fire more than one 5 round mag of this stuff. Still, the little XDs just perked along without any problems. Buffalo Bore ammo isn't for wimps, and their 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P load really caught my attention, as did their 230-gr JHP +P load. I think I'll reserve these loads for larger guns. While the XDs devoured everything I put through it - the Buffalo Bore loads were just too much for me to shoot a lot. I've fired these loads through full-sized 1911s, and didn't feel the recoil I felt in the XDs - then again, we're talking a 21.5-oz sub-compact pistol here.
To be honest, I was surprised the XDs handled such a wide variety of ammo, from standard pressure loads, to the hotter +P loads, without any problems. I thought for sure, that the hot +P loads, especially those from Buffalo Bore, would cause the gun to burp a little bit - it didn't! This is not an indication that you can't or shouldn't use Buffalo Bore +P loads in your XDs - just be advised, these loads are really gonna get your attention in short order. My preferred load in the XDs would be, hands down, for everyday carry, the Black Hills Ammunition, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P load. This load didn't "kick" as hard as the 230-gr FMJ load from Winchester in my humble opinion - and keep in mind, this IS a +P load. The Buffalo Bore 185-gr Barnes +P load is loaded hotter than the Black Hills 185-gr Barnes load - that's why it recoiled a lot more. If I were out hiking in the boonies, I'd stoke the XDs with a full mag of the Buffalo Bore 255-gr Hard Cast FN +P - to take care of large critters that I might encounter. You probably wouldn't feel the excessive recoil of this heavy and hot round, when your life depended on it.
I really liked the short trigger pull on the XDs, as well as the very short trigger re-set after your fire a round. I can't think of any other double-action type pistol, that has such a short re-set on the trigger than the XDs has - unless you compare it to the XDm - which is the same trigger design. Of course, the XDs comes in a very nice, foam-lined carrying case, along with a holster and double mag pouch. Why other gun companies aren't doing this is beyond me. One of the hardest things about new gun models, is finding a suitable holster - other than going with a cheap generic type soft-side ballistic Nylon holster. Holster makers take a wait and see attitude - they want to want and see if a new gun model is gonna be popular and stay around, before committing to making holsters for new guns - I can't blame 'em, either. However, Springfield Armory has taken care of that for you by providing a polymer holster and double mag pouch for you in the carry case.
In three shooting sessions with the XDs, I managed to put slightly more than 400 rounds down range, with not a hint of a problem. I will say though, that in my last shooting session, I restricted myself to mostly Winchester's USA white box 230-gr FMJ ammo. I didn't want to burn-up all my JHP ammo. I did fire more than enough rounds of JHP ammo, to ensure the XDs wouldn't choke on these rounds. And, you should always put enough rounds through you gun, of the particular brand and type of ammo, that you are going to carry for self-defense, to make sure the gun will function 100% of the time with that ammo.
So, what was my overall impressions of the new XDs? Well, as I stated at the start of this article, the gun was actually more that I thought it would be. I really liked the way it felt in the hand. I like the look of the gun, too - just imagine you are a bad guy, looking down the business end of this little gun - all you are seeing is that great big ol' .45 caliber hole in the end of the barrel. I loved the sights on the XDs, too - they were fast to pick-up, even for my aged eyes. The safety system - what's not to like - they are all passive, you simply have to hold the gun in a proper shooting hold, and all the safeties take care of themselves - nothing to think about.
I could get 2-3/4 of my fingers around the grip when firing - and this was more than enough for a sure grip on the gun. However, I'm sure Pearce Grip will come out with one of their dandy magazine floor plates, that will allow all three fingers to get a purchase on the frame of the gun. I don't need to add an extra round - like some of the Pearce Grip adaptors allow - like on the Glocks. But I'd like just an itty-bitty more to hold onto when I grip the XDs. My wife shot the XDs and the smile on her face said it all - I had to beg for a second sample for her - which she will pay for, out of her own pocket.
One thing I don't like seeing is, some gun dealers are selling the XDs for more than retail right now. (I see the guns on Gun Broker for more than retail.) And, I think this is shameless if you ask me. They are taking advantage of people who want this gun right now, instead of waiting a month or so, for supply to catch-up with demand. I believe that if your local gun shop is doing this that you should take your business someplace else. If they are willing to take advantage of you in this respect, they will take advantage of you some place else in their business dealings.

Full retail on the XDs, all black model is $599 and even at that price, this is a great bargain, for so much gun. If you carry concealed, and want big-bore power, the XDs might be just what you're looking for.
I don't usually make predictions, however, I dare say that, Springfield Armory will sell tens of thousands of the XDs - if not hundreds of thousands of these dandy little guns.  The price point is right where it should be, and the quality is there, too. You could buy a lot less gun, for a lot more money - but why? Check out the new XDs at your local dealer - I think you're gonna really like it - I know it was more than I was expecting. Make sure to visit the Springfield Armory web site, for full details and photos of the XDs - you're gonna agree, that this little gun has a lot going for it.

Author: David Nash
Copyright Date: January 2011
Publisher: Looseleaf Law Publications
ISBN: 978-1608850259

I was contacted by David Nash, who wrote "Understanding the Use of Handguns for Self-Defense" and I did a little checking around, to see what his credentials were, before deciding to review his book.
One of the first things that caught my attention, was the Foreword - written by SurvivalBlog's own Editor At Large, Michael Z. Williamson, and he gives Nash a good review for his efforts. Secondly, and this really caught my attention was the Introduction, written by Nash. Here's part of what Nash humbly says about himself: "I'm not a policeman. I wasn't a special operations warrior, and I don't compete in national level shooting competitions. What I am is a student of the art and science of firearm usage. I am by no means a self-proclaimed or self-important gun guru. I learn from every class I teach. I like teaching, and I particularly like teaching firearm usage..." I like that in a teacher - I couldn't tell you how many firearms "instructors" I've run across in my life, who were all some sort of SpecOps types - when in reality, there were nothing more than armchair commandos or mall ninjas, and didn't know which end of the weapon a bullet came out of - and they surely didn't know anything about firearm safety.
In the "Mindset" chapter, Nash talks about the color code, and this is simply your own state of mind. White means you are totally unaware of your surroundings - and you should never be in this mindset. Yellow means you are at least aware of your surroundings and what is going on all around you. Orange means you have shifted into an alert state of mind - something isn't quite right, and you are preparing your mind for what might come your way. Lastly, is red, and you are engaged! Some instructors use a different color code, or add another color or lesser colors but it is important that you have some sort of code in your mind if you are going to carry a firearm. Nash also talks about "it takes longer to react than to act" - this is a simple fact, and I taught this to my martial arts students over the years, as well as in my own firearms classes. If you have to react, you are already behind the eight-ball.
The "Legal" chapter starts right off, where I start with my own students. David Nash starts right out with "The average cost of defending a justified use-of-force shootings is $40,000..." I tell my students, that no matter how justified a self-defense shooting might be, that they are still a suspect in a homicide - that catches their attention. Nash also talks about different right to carry state laws - and these laws are every changing, so be advised of the laws in your own state. And, you need to be aware of the consequences of buying and selling guns for a profit - if you are in the "business" of selling guns, you'd better get a federal firearms license - be advised!
Chapter three talks about safety, and I constantly stress safety in my firearms classes, and thankfully, I've never had a student have an negligent discharge (ND) in one of my classes. If I see a student not performing safe gun-handling, I ask them to remove themselves from the firing-line and think about what they are doing wrong. If I have an assistant instructor with me, I hand that student over to them for further safety instruction. Nash touches on many of the common-sense safety issues - that aren't so common-sense to a lot of folks who own firearms. I applaud him for bringing this up in his book.
What Happens In a Gunfight is what Chapter four is all about. Gunfights are very dynamic according to Nash, and they are ever-changing - starts out this chapter. And, I couldn't agree more with this. I've been involved in a couple shootings - as a civilian - not as a police officer. And, these things are over almost as fast as they started. This is why your training is important - if you train hard, and train properly, you will react as your trained! If you believe that all gunfights are over in 2.5 seconds, as many stats claim, you might be in for a surprise, if you are engaged in a gunfight that lasts for minutes, or if there are multiple armed attackers - Nash covers this, too. A lot of things happen to you mentally as well as physically in a gunfight, and this book will help you realize what to expect and how to overcome it - as best you can.
In Chapter Five, Nash talks about the use-of-force. And, to be sure, this does vary from state-to-state, and locale-to-locale. You have to understand what actually justifies the use of deadly force against another human, and Nash does a great job discussing this in his book. I used to recommend that my firearms students sit down with a criminal defense lawyer - and you will pay them for their time - and discuss the use of deadly force against another person. However, if you talk to ten different lawyers, you'll get ten different opinions on this. And, I steer my students clear of talking to law enforcement officers for the same reason - you'll get ten different answers from ten different cops on this subject. As an example, in Oregon, you are allowed to own and use automatic knives - however, most police officers are ignorant of this fact - this law! And, they arrest people all the time for this "offense" - only to have the case tossed once it goes to court. In the meantime, the person arrested then has an arrest record because the police officer was ignorant of the law. Nash covers the use of force nicely in this book, and it is just good, common-sense in most cases, where you can use deadly force.
Choosing A Gun is Chapter six, and this is always a real subjective thing in my book. David Nash does an excellent job in this chapter discussing choosing the right gun for you! Don't expect some clerk behind the counter at the local gun shop to choose a gun for you. Sure, the Glock 19, 9mm handgun might be right for 9 our of 10 people, but that doesn't mean the gun is right for you. You have to have a gun that fits your hand, and a caliber you can handle. Choosing a 6" .44 Magnum revolver isn't a good choice for a woman who is 5" tall and has petite hands. Spend some time researching various firearms on-line, or in gun magazines before going to the local gun shop. Don't let the clerk sell you something that they want to sell you. Do you need a revolver or a semiauto pistol? Nash covers the differences in this chapter, as well as choosing the right caliber, too. Most people don't understand the importance of picking the right firearm for themselves - and many just go with whatever the gun store clerk recommends to them. Whenever possible, I bring out a variety of different handguns for my students to test on the range - so they have a good feel for what feels right for them. About a year ago, I did several handgun classes, in which all of the students shot best with the Ruger SR9, 9mm pistol. In another class, several students picked a Glock 23, .40 S&W handgun for themselves. So, there is no one-size fits all when it comes to handguns. If you live in an area that has an indoor shooting range, and rents guns, test several different guns before deciding on one.
I've watched this hundreds of times on the television show "Cops" - when they take a firearm from a suspect, and they have no idea how the gun operates - they don't know how to unload the gun or safely handle it. Sure, they know about the handgun they are carrying, but they are totally lost when it comes to a different handgun - they look stupid, on television, not knowing how to properly check to see if a gun is loaded, or how to unload it. David Nash covers this in Chapter Seven "Operating A Handgun" and this is more important than most people think it is. You need to know the different parts on a gun: barrel, cylinder, safety, etc. You also need to understand what happens when a gun fires, or when it fails to fire, as in a misfire, hangfire or squib-load. You need to know about malfunctions, too - and how to handle them. Again, Nash covers this, in layman's language, that you can understand, if you are a new shooter, or an old hand. Do you know how and when to clean your handgun? Many people don't - a lot of folks never clean and maintain their firearms, nor do they have any idea how the guns actually function, because they didn't bother to read the owner's manual.
My local gun shop gave me a Ruger LCP .380 ACP pistol to check out for them - I repair a lot of their firearms for them, as they carry me as an employee on their books, so I can do some minor gunsmithing. A customer purchased this Ruger LCP, 9 months ago - and never fired it. Then decided to see how the gun operated after 9-months. The customer brought the gun in and said it "jammed" all the time. Well, that doesn't tell me anything. I took the gun out and test-fired it - it worked every time, for 75 rounds. I took the gun back to the shop and the owner picked it up. He brought it back in and said it still "jammed." Well, I figured out what the problem was. This fellow would load the magazine, insert it into the gun, and he would retract the slide and "ride" the slide forward (keeping his hand on the slide as it went forward) - and rounds weren't feeding into the chamber. This is not the way to chamber a round in an semiauto pistol. You retract the slide fully rearward, and release it - a round chambers properly. When this was explained to the customer, he didn't have any more "jams" after that. Nash covers properly gun handling very nicely in this chapter.
Carrying A Gun is Chapter 8, and this is a important subject for all of us. Do you want to carry openly or concealed? Know the laws of your state and locale. In my area, it's not uncommon to see folks carrying a handgun openly - we just don't give it a second notice. In some areas, it will result in the police getting called - even if you are carrying openly, legally. Nash talks about the different methods of carry - inside the waistband, on the belt, in the pocket, in a shoulder holster, on the ankle, etc. And, you need to find what works best for you and your firearm. I carry on the belt, on my right side, and I carry a back-up in an ankle holster - this works best for me, but it might not work best for you. Experiment with different methods of carry, and find a good holster that works best. Don't get a cheap, one-size fits many, ballistic Nylon holster - save your money and purchase a good holster - you'll thank yourself later on. Many firearms books don't even touch on this subject for some reason, Nash does a fine job!
Shooting Techniques is Chapter Nine, and Nash isn't dogmatic here, like many instructors are. Some instructors believe that their way is the only way, and that simply isn't true, and I don't care who the instructor is. While their technique might work for 99 students, it won't and can't work for student number 100 for some reason. There are different ways to grip a gun, different firing techniques like the Weaver or Isoceles stance. You also need to learn how to properly draw a handgun and re-holster it. Sight alingment is important, as well as the proper sight picture - again, Nash does a fine job covering these topics. Proper trigger-pull is important, too - no matter how well you have a perfect sight picture, if you don't have proper trigger control, you'll blow the shot, You should also know how to "read" your target, so you know what you are doing right or doing wrong - it's covered in this chapter, and most books don't cover this topic.
I talked about "tactics" and Chapter ten covers this topic...you react the way your train, and this is covered in Nash's book, too. You'll learn the difference between cover and concealment - and they are not the same, You'll learn about low-light shooting, and this is a very important topic, as most shootings take place in low-light conditions.
Many common myths are explored in Chapter Eleven. I'm sure many of you have been told by someone who is totally ignorant, that if you shoot someone outside of your house, to drag them inside, and claim they broke in - don't do this, you are only inviting legal trouble, Nash discusses the "one-shot stop" myth. Sure, it happens, but not all the time - if someone is high on drugs, it may take many shots to stop them from harming you or a loved one. And, shot placement comes into play here - it doesn't matter what caliber you have in your handgun, if you don't place the shots where they need to go, it may not stop an attacker. Nash discusses the Mozambique Drill - that's two shots in the chest and one in the head - it's a good thing to practice on the range, and it can sure help under real-life circumstances.
Chapter Tweleve deals with the criticism that you might get from your loved ones, friends and co-workers, because you made the decision to carry a handgun. I don't recall any other publication dealing with this topic, but Nash covers it. It's important to know how to deal with this subject. And, one of the best ways is to not get into a debate over it - it's your decision to carry a firearm, and you know the reasons for carrying. So, don't get into a heated debate with anyone - the less people who know you are carrying the less problems you'll have.
The last chapter covers additional training. No book will teach you how to shoot - you actually have to get out there and do some shooting, and you should pick an instructor who's credentials you can varify. I'm an NRA Certified instructor in several different disciplines, but that doesn't mean that I'm the world's best instructor. However, it does let my students know that I am a trained and certified instructor. Some of the best instructors I know aren't NRA Certified. My good friend, John Farnam, is one of the most underated instructors I know, for some reason, but he is also one of the VERY best instructors in the world in my humble opinion. Seek out qualified training instructors for advanced training, and don't be afraid to ask them to show you their creditials or letters of recommendation. Be a little leery of someone who claims they are an ex SpecOps person - more than likely, they are NOT!
I've been around firearms for 45-years now, and I learned a lot from this book. Nash did a great job covering some common-sense topics, that we all should be aware of when understanding the use of handguns for self-defense. If I can learn something from this book, than you can, too. You can find this book on Amazon.com and you can contact David Nash at his school's web site - The Shepherd School. You'll really get a lot out of this book - I know I did.

Author: Keith McCafferty
Copyright Date: February 2012
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 978-0-670-02326-4

Audio, e-book or foreign translation avail? Yes--Kindle
Suitable for children? No, and probably not for the ladies either.

When I received my stack of fiction books to review for SurvivalBlog, the novel The Royal Wulff Murders caught my eye right away.  From the description of the murder victim and of Sean Stranahan's studio I knew this book would have an element of humor worked into the mystery.  In fact, given the author's day job (Survival Editor of Field & Stream) and the setting for the novel I seriously wondered if there might not be a cameo appearance by a Patrick F. McManus' character such as Sheriff Bo Tully.  In the end, no such luck on that count, but the book was a fun read, and there was indeed a bit of humor worked in where possible.

One order of business which I should mention up front for the SurvivalBlog audience is that this book is not written to the same standards that are required for SurvivalBlog.  There is a bit of profanity and and quite a number of sexual references such as you could expect of a men's locker room.  The profanity is primarily a matter of the character of Rainbow Sam Meslik, a colorful fishing guide, who is pretty rough around the edges.  Given he is the first character the reader meets might be a bit disturbing to some readers, but he is followed by some slightly more civilized characters and the language is toned down substantially with most of them.  The sexual references are fairly constant throughout the novel.  Pretty much any sexual analogy that can be made is made, all the way to considering a trout to be a phallic symbol.  Additionally, all the important characters are divorced and they all seem to be looking for some action with the opposite sex.  There are several times when they find it, however, McCafferty leaves the story with the closing of the door and then picks up again the next morning.  There is nothing graphic about any of these encounters, but it represents a lifestyle of lower standards than those of SurvivalBlog readers.

Introduction to characters and the build-up of the story line takes the first fifty pages.  After that the story moves along fairly quickly.  There are several characters for the reader to wonder about as suspects in the murder, as well as holes to fill in with regard to the motive.  The important elements of a good "whodunit" are all present.  The reader will not be disappointed in that regard. Keith McCafferty has done a great job of developing his characters for this story.

Most important is Sean Stranahan, a recently divorced, somewhat self-employed water color artist and one-time private investigator who lives out of his studio, marked ôBlue Ribbon Watercolors (and Private Investigations)ö and drives a battered Toyota Land Cruiser.  He seems to be better at fly-fishing than anything else, but he's a good looking, likeable guy with a reasonable head on his shoulders.

Miss Velvet Lafayette, in the words of Doris Sizemore (you have to love McCafferty's ability to come up with names for these characters) is T-R-O-U-B-L-E.  But nice trouble, and a mystery herself.  It takes Sean a while to find out that her real name is Vareda Beaudreux, and this a good time after she shows up at his studio to hire him to find the fish her father had caught in the Madison River precisely one year prior.  As with everything else about Miss Beaudreux, there's more to the story than first meets the eye.

Martha Ettinger is the elected sheriff of Hyalite county.  Though tough and capable, she is continually pushing to prove herself to anyone who might doubt whether or not she is fit for her position on account of her gender.  Her teammates areb't exactly the best and brightest, so she is playing make-up for them as well as for any perceived inadequacies on her own part.

Throughout the story the characters are plausible and consistent.  There are dramatic scenes and narrow escapes, mysterious shooters and figures who vanish into thin air.  Being that this is a mystery I don't want to offer anything that would spoil it for the reader.  I will simply say that McCafferty does a good job of wrapping up all the loose ends nicely by the conclusion of the story.  The reader is neither left hanging, nor disappointed in the outcome.

The story also includes an education on the topic of "whirling disease", a serious threat to the populations of rainbow trout.  According to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from January 1997, the disease has wiped out an estimate 90% of the native population of wild rainbow trout in Montana's upper Madison River.  It is possible for anglers to unwittingly spread the disease from one river to another.  This is a real issue and the education this book offers is worthwhile.

As a SurvivalBlog Fiction Book Review Editor I would be remiss if I did not mention this book's value as survival fiction.  In that regard there is not a substantial amount of material present.  There are some details about tracking and some creative thinking for the sake of an escape, but that's about it.  Perhaps of most value is simply an understanding of the setting and lifestyle of the American Redoubt.  The novel includes characters from three different cultures in that region:  the native American Indians, the year-round locals and the fair weather vacationing wealthy.  Understanding those and how they interact is an important matter for any who are considering life in the American Redoubt.

In short, The Royal Wulff Murders is a good read, but most definitely a "guy" book.

Concerning the recent article on traditional weapons, I have a couple of comments:

Knife fighting:  Stabbing may have it’s place, but a good knife fighter will slash and cut.  Someone who stabs with a knife is relatively easy to disarm.  Someone who slashes is much harder to defend against.  A stab wound is unlikely to be instantly fatal.  A slashing attack directed at tendons can instantly render the victim defenseless and eliminate his ability to fight back or flee.  (See the following link for more info http://www.martialbladeconcepts.com/

A word of warning regarding arrows:  If you shoot a compound bow do not make arrows out of wooden dowels. Wooden arrows shot from a compound bow are likely to shatter from the energy generated by the bow and do more damage to the shooter than the target.

The Late Memsahib's Molasses Taffy


1 Cup granulated Sugar
1 Bottle (1-1/2 Cups) Dark Molasses
2 tsp vinegar
1-1/2 Tbsp Butter
1/8th tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda

Coating: Powdered Sugar


In a THICK 3-quart saucepan, mix molasses, sugar, and vinegar. Heat and stir CONSTANTLY until it reaches the hard ball stage.
Remove from heat. Add butter, salt and soda. Stir until foaming stops.
Pour into -a well-buttered pan. Pull the taffy by hand until it is light and stiff.
Using buttered scissors, cut into bite-sized pieces (1/2 diameter cylinders x 1 inch long. Roll in powdered sugar. Keep cool to prevent candy from sticking together.

Chef's Notes: This is actually more of a hard candy than it is a taffy. Pulling taffy is an art and great exercise. Be sure to butter your hands and have a couple of able helpers (also with butter on their hands.) makes a beautiful golden-colored brittle taffy.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Home Candy Making

Candy's Life

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Favorite Farmers Market Recipes

Eating for Weight Loss (How to Lose 100 Pounds)

30 Perfect Popcorn Recipes : How to Make Sweet & Savory Gourmet Popcorn at Home

Cake Recipes from Scratch - Grama G's Top Ten Can't Get Enough Cake Recipes

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

Reader "Tin Can" sent an article about someone who earns demerits for judgment but bonus points for creativity: Camouflaged Residence Discovered in California Park. It was interesting to read that growing dope in California is now a crime only if it is done "without a permit." (For cultivation of medical marijuana.) It should be mentioned that this man is just one of many in a long succession. Back in 2009 I mentioned in SurvivalBlog a father and daugher who had secret residence in a Portland, Oregon park, and a news story about a hermit who secretly lived for at least three years inside the "secure" Los Alamos nuclear research reservation in New Mexico.

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Reader L.M. flagged this: Mexico urges U.S. to review gun laws after Colorado shooting. Lee's comment: "Now that is funny, especially since [much of] Mexico is run by gun-toting drug lords and corrupt politicians." JWR Adds: In Mexico, (where it is very difficult for mere mortals to even own a gun and those in military chamberings like 5.56mm NATO are completely banned), the murder rate is 18 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the U.S. it is 4.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. One mass murder in Mexico in 2010 had 72 victims. And another on 2011 had 145 victims. (The 12 dead in the Colorado "Knightmare" seems small, by comparison.) They'd best get their own house in order before they see fit to criticize...

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Freeze Dry Guy just started a 25% off sale on Mountain House Foods in #10 Cans. Order soon!

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This makes me wonder... TSA Let 25 Illegal Aliens Attend Flight School Owned by Illegal Alien. (Thanks to G.G. for the ;ink.)

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Reader S.E. suggested a web site that has an extensive ham radio manual download page and also many modification documents for a wide variety of ham radios.

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit." - Abraham Lincoln, in an address before Congress, January 1848. (Before he became an unremorseful statist.)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We all know that three days without water and we are incapacitated and nearing death.  We all know that water from streams, lakes, ponds and rivers if consumed “raw” can lead to parasitic infection.   We also know that those same sources may be polluted with pesticides, insecticides, heavy metals, and a host of other contaminants.  These can lead to sickness and to death. 

If you find yourself in a situation where it is drink or die, then drink of course and hope for the best, right?   In a worst case scenario that might be the only choice you have, and you might very well get lucky.  A better alternative is to know how to treat the water so that it is safe.  The following techniques require at least a fire-safe container, or plastic sheeting, or PET bottles, bleach or iodine.
The simplest technique of removing parasites is to boil the water.  Pasteurization will take place at just 160 degrees F after 6 minutes.  Bringing water to a boil and letting it cool off will also do it [but it is overkill.  You don’t need to actually boil the water [, but if you don't have a dairy of candy thermometer, it is one way to make sure that the microorganisms in the water are sterile or dead.]  This does not remove chemical or metal content.

Treatment with common household bleach works quite well.  Use regular bleach, not bleach with scents  in them.  The chlorine in the bleach is the same chlorine used in water treatment plants.  If the water is cloudy, let it stand until the particulate matter settles, then decant the clear water – or filter the water through coffee filters or clean cloth or whole chunk charcoal.  Do not use briquettes, they contain chemical binders that can leach into the water.   When the water is clear add 8 drops of bleach per gallon.  Stir or shake well and let it set for at least 30 minutes before drinking. 
If you use tincture of iodine (2%) mix in 20 drops per gallon of clear water, shake or stir well and let set for 30 minutes.  In both cases, Iodine or chlorine, use more if you cannot filter the water.  How much more?  There are too many variables to give a single answer.  Use your best judgment.  Also let it stand longer so that the disinfecting chemicals have more time to work their magic. 

If heating water to 160 F isn’t possible and you don’t have bleach or iodine then there are still other methods that you can use. 

Solar distillation is an effective way to remove contaminants.  This is a simple process, but a slow one.  It will not produce a large volume in a short time.  It can keep you alive though.  The materials required are plastic sheeting, clear is best, and a clean bowl or small pot.  Begin by digging a large diameter hole shaped like a shallow dish bowl.  The size of the hole depends on the size of the plastic sheeting you have.  A manageable size would be three feet in diameter.  The depth should be twice the depth of the bowl or pot you will be using.  The hole should slope up on the sides to the top to maximize the amount of water surface exposed to the sun.  A thin large sheet of water will evaporate faster than a deep small hole of water will.

Collect enough rocks to make a complete circle around the circumference of the hole.  Lay one sheet of plastic in the hole to line the bottom.  Cover the edges of this plastic with enough dirt to keep it in place.  Fill this hole with water to the edges.  Place the bowl or pot in the middle of the hole of water.  This will be the collection container.  The inside of the collection container must be clean.  You may need to place a rock or piece of metal inside the collection container to keep it from floating out of position, if so make sure it too is clean. 

Lay a second sheet of plastic over the top of the hole, weighing it down with the rocks you collected.  Leave a little slack in this sheet.  When it is secure around the edges place a small amount of dirt on the edges of the plastic.  You want a fairly good seal, or you’ll lose some of the water you would otherwise be able to drink.  Place a small rock on top of the top sheet directly above the collection container.  This will slope the plastic down to a point above the collector.  As the sun hits the plastic it will evaporate the standing water.  That evaporated water will be trapped against the underside of the upper plastic and condense, then run down the plastic to the point above the collector and drip into it.  When enough water has accumulated remove it and set the apparatus back up.

If you have clean flexible plastic tubing you can run the tubing to the collector, coming out the edge of the hole and suck the water out periodically, saving the work of restoring the solar still each time you collect water.  If you don’t have the tubing it’s no big deal.  Obviously you should choose a sunny location for the solar still, and you can make more than one to increase production.  The hotter the ambient temperature, the more direct the sunlight, the faster it will work.

Another system for biological disinfection is to use the sun’s ultra-violet rays.  This is a simple and easy method.  It can also produce as much water as you can find containers to disinfect in.  Clean, clear PET bottles of two liter or smaller size are the container of choice.  Clear glass works, but not as fast. 

Put clear filtered water inside a PET bottle, set it where it will be in direct sunlight, and wait four hours.  The suns UV rays will kill the biologicals in the water.  The bottle should be horizontal, not standing up.  Angling the bottles to perpendicular to the sun is best, roof tops work well for this.  Of course remove any labels that would block the sun.  That’s the short explanation.
For maximum effectiveness fill the bottle ¾’s full, cap it and shake vigorously, then fill the rest of the way.  This helps to introduce oxygen into the water.  The oxygen enhances the UV exposure and kills pathogens faster.  On partly cloudy days where you are receiving more than 50% sunlight during the day 6 hours is required.  On overcast days where you receive less than 50% sunlight 12 hours.  UV penetrates overcast days, but at a lower rate.  This doesn’t work during heavy cloud days or rain.  To be safe and if you have the time, two full days of sunlight would be optimum.
PET allows UV rays through.  PVC blocks UV rays and may also introduce chemicals you don’t want.  Most bottles that contain consumable liquids are PET.  Clear glass works, but glass blocks some of the  UV rays.  If using glass then double the exposure time.   This method does not remove chemical or metallic contamination, only biological.   This is a system that is being introduced to third world countries around the globe.  It is simple and effective, relying only on being able to find sufficient PET bottles to work.  Plastic bags also work.  Use sandwich type bags, or any other type of food grade clear plastic bag.  Make sure the sun doesn’t have to penetrate more than four inches of water though.  If the only container you have requires more than four inches of penetration, shake or move the water several times and give extra exposure time.

Another way of obtaining water is a transpiration trap.  Locate a leafy bush, wrap a plastic bag around the end of the bush and seal as well as you can against the stem that you placed it over. Get as many leaves inside the bag as you can.  Plants transpire, or give off water vapor, all the time.  The plastic bag catches that moisture and condenses it.  Periodically check the amount of water and when enough, you can probably drink it straight out of the bag.  Caution – do not do this with poisonous plants such as oleanders.  You might get some of the poison in the water. 
If you use a clean bag that is well sealed this water might be clean enough to drink.  It has been “filtered” by the plant itself and will most likely not contain contaminants.  However, it can be polluted by whatever is on the leaf’s surfaces.  The best thing to do is to follow the UV disinfection routine after collecting the water. 

If you have towels, during a heavy dew you can collect water by dragging the towel through dew-laden grass and wring it out into a container, then collect more.  This water should also be sun treated if possible, or boiled or chemically disinfected. 

Fog traps can also be made.  They are not difficult to make, but only work in a heavy fog.  Hang large sheets of plastic or other sheet like materials and collect the water that adheres to them.  With plastic, shape the bottom of the sheet into a curve that brings the water down to one point and place a container beneath it.  With cloth sheets wring the sheet out periodically.  This water will be as clean as the surface you collect it on.  You may or may not have to disinfect it, although it is a good idea to.

Water heaters are also water storage tanks.  They come with a drain valve on the bottom.  Each water heater will contain many gallons of drinkable water.  This is particularly handy for short term water shortage problems, such as grid power failures. 

Safe drinking water is an age-old problem, and is still a major problem for much of the world’s population.  In a survival situation the last thing you need is to become sick or parasite ridden.  There isn’t much time, three days or so, to solve the problem.  Knowing how to treat water is of paramount importance.  Starting right away on the treatment process is necessary.  If you can produce a surplus of water, do so, but remember to store the water in clean vessels.  If the water is stored for a long period of time, treat it again.   The above treatment options can leave small traces of contaminants that won’t be a problem at the time, but if stored long enough those contaminants can breed and re-infect the water.

Now I know y'all like your guns, and that's fine. I like mine too. I once heard someone say, “If you don't have gold and silver you're doomed.” Now these two things are also very important, but I question how this man planned to defend his precious metals without a well-stocked armory.

As Mr. Rawles himself has said, guns are tools much like those found in a carpenter's tool box. Each fills a different role. But although guns are good at a great many different things, there are some roles which are difficult for them to fill. For instance, here in the United States you have to pay the BATF a $200 tax for each suppressor you purchase. But knives, bows and crossbows are silent by their nature [although the arrow and blade recipients are often quite noisy]. And in the most of the gun-restrictive states you are better off carrying a knife than trying to smuggle a pistol. [JWR Adds: Be sure to check your state and local laws. For example in California it is a felony to carry a concealed fixed blade knife of any length on the first offense!]

Which brings me to my point: While they should in no way be relied upon as a primary means of defense, cold weapons (Essentially meaning weapons other than firearms, usually primitive in nature, such as the aforementioned bows and knives) have their place in the Survivalist arsenal for special situations. Don't pretend to be a ninja with them, because there's a 99.9% chance you're not. (If you are one of the 0.1% of SurvivalBlog's readership who is a practicing Ninjutsu student, then I salute you.)

Carrying a knife is a lot like prepping in general: Some people will view you as strange and paranoid. That is, until they get into a situation where their life is in danger. Then it's suddenly, “Hey, you have your knife with you, right?”

Thing is, knives have about a thousand uses which have nothing to do with violence. I certainly don't recommend doing this, but I once used a knife to widen a hole for a doorknob. You can safely use them to open packages, cut rope, cut food, do limited woodworking, the list goes on and on.

Their use as a weapon is an added bonus, but strong caution must be advised. Straightforward combat is where the combat knife is weakest. It can be done, but you're likely to get just as wounded as the opponent that you're attacking.

If a knife is to be used, it should be used with stealth, against a lone target. Keep in mind that you're not trying to give your enemy the death of a thousand cuts. Deep abdominal and throat stabs with a knife are much better than slashes.

There are many ways to grip a knife, but there are two that I usually use. The one is pretty standard: Essentially just a clenched fist around the knife handle. This is usually called the hammer grip. The other grip is called the reverse grip, and is like the hammer grip except that the blade extends from the bottom of the hand rather than the top. In the latter grip, your thumb rests against the pommel to support it for thrusting. In practice, I use the hammer grip for the few times I want to do slashing (which again is not the optimal way to knife fight.) and the reverse grip for stabs.

If you think the idea of a gun fight is terrifying, knife fighting is even more so --definitely not for the squeamish. Disable your opponent quickly and by whatever means possible and be prepared to bandage multiple wounds of your own when the fight is over.

The bow, while not as effective in modern combat as shown in the movies, still has several advantages over guns.
First, it is silent by nature. [Although, again those on the receiving end will probably scream prodigiously unless you are lucky enough to sever their spine and have them bleed out quickly.This makes it suited to hunting both four-legged creatures and stealthily taking out lone opponents.

Second, arrows can be handmade with simple materials if necessary. Wooden dowels are very inexpensive at your local hardware and general stores. Look for ones which area about 1/3rd inch in diameter. Then, cut them down to match the draw length of your bow. Cut a notch in one end with a serrated knife or a handsaw. Cut it deep enough that the bowstring fits snugly inside.
Then, about three quarters of an inch from that draw a line around the circumference of the arrow. There are several ways to make fletchings, including feathers and plastic, but my favorite is explained in this video. I have tested it and found it to work, as long as you are good with your measurements.

Arrowheads can also be done several ways. If you're wanting to siphon your inner caveman, you can go for the flint approach. This is not recommended. If you just want to sharpen the end of your arrow but don't want to add weight to it, you can actually use a pencil sharpener to carve it to a fine point. This is good in a pinch, but you'll have to adjust your aim. This is because the head weighs down the arrow. This sounds like a bad thing, but without that weight at the tip, the arrow jumps up when you shoot it, causing you to overshoot your target unless you correct your shot.
What I've found to be a cheap alternative to store-bought heads is gluing nails to the arrow's end with woodworker's glue. This is what some bow hunters in Africa do, (without the glue though, they carefully hand-inlet theirs) and it works pretty well [for small game].

If you have a big budget you can buy an assortment of arrows with very fancy heads, such as springing blades. They're expensive, and will probably break if you miss, but if you hit you can be pretty sure that whatever you just shot will bleed out quietly.

Another advantage of arrows is that they can very easily be made into incendiary weapons. Simply wrap some cotton around the tip and douse it in oil or alcohol or another flammable material, and light it with your choose of lighting implement when you're ready to shoot. Arrowheads can also be dipped in poison, if you're looking for a way to deliver it.

As for shooting with a bow, keep in mind that this is not the Hunger Games, and you are likely a lot less “Elite” than you make yourself out to be. If you're shooting at humans, like I said with the knife, aim for lone targets from stealth. Keep in mind that arrows travel in an arc, and where you aim might not be where the arrow ends up. If the arrow has no head, it will probably overshoot.

Depending on the distance from your target you will have to angle your shot upwards, which is a skill that takes a lot of practice. A rule of thumb is to aim for the head, because even if you undershoot that you'll get a chest shot. Horizontal accuracy is not amazingly hard to achieve with a bow, but watch out for wind. If it's an especially windy day, you're probably better off sticking to your guns.

Crossbows negate some of the disadvantages of a bow, while retaining all the advantages. For one thing, you can keep a shot loaded with a lot less effort. They're also easy to sight with. Some of the more expensive models even come with scopes. In addition, they generally have a lot more force behind them. An added bonus to this is that they travel in a much more straight line than bows do, meaning less aim adjusting. Crossbows are often more expensive than bows, but the above advantages may make it worth it for you.

Acquiring ammo for slingshots is even easier than it is for bows and crossbows. Look for appropriately sized rounded rocks. That's about it. If you want to get fancy you can pick up steel balls at a hardware store. With a little training, you can become pretty accurate with the darn things. I wouldn't recommend using them against humans unless absolutely necessary, but they could be pretty nifty against birds and small game.
In addition, there are some people who do crazy things with slingshots. And then can teach you how. Who I'm talking about is this guy: Joerg Sprave.

An absolute legend of the slingshot world. If you're willing to endure occasional adult language, you can pick up a lot of neat tricks on this channel. I just recently made his sling pistol, and it was a great learning experience.

In Closing
They won't make you a ninja, but in certain situations they can be pretty useful. For one thing, with the exception of the crossbow they're a lot less regulated than firearms. They can help you to conserve precious ammo, and give you the ability to make silent kills on small and big game without the BATF paperwork and $200 transfer tax for purchasing a registered suppressor. All good things, in this pilgrim's opinion.

Peace, and God Bless. - Daniel

Dear Editor:
First off, as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, a Senior Patrol Agent in the United States Border Patrol, I am getting tired of being vilified by the media and American public for picking a career that has a somewhat decent retirement system. I’m tired of my Union being vilified. In fact, I’m just tired of being vilified in general. It seems like most people are just suffering from sour grapes for not having picked a career that has a somewhat decent retirement system. Why should we be punished for taking a job that offered this retirement? Shouldn’t this be directed at the people in charge that created this benefit? I worked in a job with a mandatory retirement of 57. I am a union officer but we cannot bargain for wages or retirement. Our wages and retirement are set by congress because we are Federal Law Enforcement.

I work 50 hours a week minimum. That is our standard work week. I work outside in all types of weather conditions. My last station was in south Texas. During the summer months, the temperature was always over 100 degrees with 70-90% humidity. For at least 30 of those days, the temp was over 110 with the same humidity. I’ve been rained on, hailed on, spent hours in the hot sun and hours in the freezing cold. Bitten up by bugs, snakes and torn up by the local plants. Ridden in vehicles in 100+ degree heat with no working air conditioning for hours in a day. I have been shot at, cut and been in fights for my life, including one on a moving train. This is the life I chose. I chose this life to make where I live safe for my family and friends and to defend our way of life.

Our retirement system is the way it is because we burn out so fast. By the time we are able to retire we are usually so torn up from the job we cannot do another job. I’ve lost 70% of my hearing in my left ear, (not from shooting), and 30% in my right. I’ve had surgery to repair a damaged joint which will never be the same, but I still do the job. I wake up with aches and pains in all my joints from having spent years walking over uneven ground and up and down hills, but as I said, I chose this career.

I contribute 3% of my salary to my government retirement. Not much you say, but in the civilian corporate world, most companies provide 100% of the employees’ retirement without employee contribution. To make sure I have a decent retirement, I contribute to a voluntary retirement system. I contribute 18% of my salary, (set by IRS law), to this and it is invested in different markets as I designate. I also spent seven years active duty Army. This time will count towards my retirement, but I have to "buy" this time. I will retire with 27 years of active federal service.

I do all this so I can retire with 47% of my averaged, highest three years of salary. When I hit mandatory retirement, my middle child will be 19, and my youngest will be 13. This gives me a four person household, (my middle son can stay at home while he is in college). My retirement will only be $15,000 a year above the poverty level for a family of four. Don’t forget though, I still have to maintain health insurance because I don’t qualify for Medicaid, Medicare or Obama care or I will have to pay an IRS penalty. Also, the average life span for a retired Law Enforcement Officer is very short. So, I have to make sure that my wife is taken care. To do this, I have to take a $500 per month cut in my retirement benefits to provide survivor benefits. This way, if I die, my wife will get half of what I was getting in retirement pay. So my $35,000 a year retirement just went to $29,000. Not bad you say. How about all the doctor bills because my joints are all chewed up and need replacing or the health effects I suffer from being exposed to bacteria and viruses that come with doing this job. That $700 a month Cadillac insurance program that the media says I have only pays about half of what that is going to cost. But again, I chose this life.

Remember folks, when you paint a picture with a broad brush, you tend to smear the small details. In this case, when you smear government workers in general, you smear those of us that put our lives on the line day after day, and we do it all for a pittance. We do it for ourselves, we do it because of our families, we do it for our friends and we do it for our ideals and beliefs.

We do it because it is the right thing to do and we do it because no one else will. - T.R.

I have some thoughts on the article regarding the disposal of trash.  It was interesting and thought provoking, however I think in a situation where services were not going to come back you would find that that amount of rubbish you generate would be quite small.

You would not be bringing more “stuff” into the house as you would not be shopping and anything you did already have you would recycle as there would be no chance of getting those storage jars etc any longer.  So all those tins, jars containers etc would eventually be used in one way or another.

If you haven’t already, you should already be moving away from a disposable life, for starters it is cheaper than continually buying disposable products.  Paper plates are not a way of life here except for picnics so if you use paper plates on an every day basis I think a change is in order.  Disposable nappies are expensive and cloth nappies are not much work at all (and healthier for your baby’s bottom), washable menstrual pads just as easy (and more comfortable in my opinion).

Kitchen scraps should always be given to the chooks or the garden, you would be cooking from scratch and there would be very little on-going trash from any packaging.  Change now and purchase as little packaging as possible, if there is packaging try and recycle it, paper and cardboard in to the garden, glass jars for preserving and storage etc, if you do buy packaging make sure you can recycle it.
Repurpose items that are no longer used for the original purpose, learn to sew and fix or change the clothes you no longer want, reuse items for another reason, or just don’t buy too much in the first place, just the things you need. 

Have two uses for items you bring into the house and think about it before you buy: what is the life span of this item, can it be used for more than one purpose and can it be recycled on the property?  Don’t create rubbish to start with.

So basically, don’t buy disposable products, and make sure the packaging is recyclable, long term your rubbish would be minimal and mostly recyclable.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation there would be no more items randomly bought on impulse and anything you already had would be saved like our grandparents did.

Regards To You, - Kathryn in Australia

Rhonda T. suggested a New York Times slideshow on Stockton, California's bankruptcy.

Steven M. sent: Subterranean Swiss Hotel Sells for Shocking Price. "In what may be the deal of the century, a lucky buyer paid just $1,020 at auction for a luxury underground hotel in Switzerland worth an estimated $3.8 million. However, keep in mind, it IS a former artillery bunker."

G.G. sent this: Regulators close five small banks in Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Illinois for total of 38 US failures in 2012


Items from The Economatrix:

One-On-One With Craig Roberts #2:  Libor Fraud Now Part Of The System

S&P 500 Nears "Ultimate" Death Cross

US Home Starts Rise to Highest Level Since 2008

Fed Says Growth Was "Modest To Moderate" In June

Bryan E. recommended this for all the techies out there: Raspberry Pi

   o o o

O Kwame, Where Art Thou? Plan to Raze Detroit Empty Homes in Final Stages. FWIW, there is fine agricultural soil under all that urban blight. Perhaps someday Detroit will have a future as a farm town.

   o o o

Some good commentary over at Off Grid Survival: Anti-Gun Groups use Tragedy in Colorado to Push Gun Control Agendas. Of course, the statists won't mention the fact that the movie theater chain banned concealed carry in their theaters. Once again, a mass murderer picked his playground of slaughter carefully--a place where he'd only find unarmed victims. If just one patron at the theater had a handgun, training, and guts, he could have stopped that psycho "Joker" long before he had the chance to shoot 70 people. The result could have been like the self-defense shooting at the cyber cafe just a few days ago in Ocala, Florida. But instead, there was tragedy. And undoubtedly the biased mass media will concentrate what happened in Colorado and ignore what happened in Florida.

   o o o

Reason #169 to move out of New York City.

   o o o

Reader C.D.V. found an interesting Russian news television segment showing a well-prepared Landbesitzer in Austria.

"Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." - Revelation 2:5 (KJV)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On July 21, 1899 Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois. He was a great writer, but his personal life was a shambles. It ended with his suicide in 1961. Enjoy his books. Learn from his mistakes.


Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

During my years in the military, I spent most of my time in the military intelligence field.  Though I was specifically trained in signals intelligence, I learned to utilize a number of sources in producing intelligence products for my command.  The tactics that I learned both in individual training as well as on-the-job are applicable to a number of applications, including preparing yourself and your family for emergency situations. 
In my years of reading “alternative” message boards and blog posts, I noticed that most people in the prepper community either live in a rural community or have a desire to relocate to one.  As someone who grew up in a rural area, I would highly recommend taking such an action, especially in the light of the threats we face from economic collapse, food shortages, rioting, and other calamities, both natural and man-made.  For some of us, however, we are unable to relocate from the area that we currently reside.

My family and I reside in a suburban area of a very large city in the United States.  Most likely, we will not be able to relocate from this area in the near term, so we attempt to make the best of our situation.  Part of our preparation includes the production of intelligence reports of our subdivision and local community.  Creating information such as threat reports is useful for any prepper, regardless of residence location, but is vital when the number of persons that are nearby increases.  Using my past experiences, these are some of the tactics that I adapted for use in creating such reports for my subdivision. 

Creating the Map
In my opinion, the first and most important step that a prepper can take in developing intelligence for his or her suburban area is mapping the local area.  Fortunately, maps are easy to find.  Because my subdivision is over 30 years old, there are fully developed key maps available for purchase.  I can also utilize online mapping and driving directions sites to not only create maps of the streets, but also overlay such things as satellite imagery, points of interest, and anything else that would be necessary for my preparations.  I would create a large, laminated copy of the local area and/or subdivision map and place it on a wall, desk, or other convenient area where it can be easily referenced and manipulated.  If there is space, I would create a variety of maps; for example,  one that featured only streets, one that included satellite imagery, and one that includes locations of stores and gas stations.  I would also create smaller laminated versions and keep them in my vehicles, bug-out bags, and purse or wallet.  Many of the tactics listed in this article will refer back to studying and manipulating the larger map.

Mapping Information
Once the maps are created, take time to study the aerial view of the area in depth.  Look for places of entry and exit of the subdivision and local area (by car, motorbike, foot, etc.)  Imagine where roadblocks can be placed should the authorities implement them.  Find different ways in which you could travel from and to your home.  Study potential choke-points where gangs can trap residents.  Note the locations of homes where you could stop by and/or drop your kids off if you were prevented from being at or going to your home.  For those that like to mark up documents, you can take a marker, either erasable or permanent, and make these notations right on the map.

Make an ingress and egress plan for your neighborhood.  Determine ways that you can get in and out of the subdivision without taking streets.  Take note of places where you could hide or find cover from attack.  Make note of these locations on the map. 

Take is checking the local police blotters and statistics for crime in the area.  When I managed a crime board during my employment at a university police department, I placed different colored pins in areas where crimes were suspected or committed.  Each pin represented a different classification of crime.  This allowed the staff to quickly ascertain the prevalence of certain crimes, locations where crime was highly probable, as well as trends that may have developed.  You can place pins, colored stickers, or even dots from colored markers on areas of the map to determine areas most likely to be hit by criminals when society begins to break down.   
It would also be important to note the locations of known sex offenders, felons, and former criminals on the map.  Sex offender information is often located on a state database at no charge; information for the others may not necessarily be available, or could come at a cost.  While a person who has served their time may never commit another offense during his or her lifetime again, it is best to at least know where potential danger could lurk during times of peril.

Some subdivisions contract with local police or security firms to provide patrols during certain periods of the day.  Look for patterns among the patrols as well as the patrollers and note them on the map if possible.  For example, in my subdivision, one officer spends most of his shift sitting in the same location every time he is on duty there.  Another officer takes the same route driving through the subdivision while he is on duty.  Make note of any significant changes that the officers take during patrol; this could indicate patrolling for specific reasons or persons.  Try to engage the officers from time to time; they can be a valuable source of information about the happenings around the area.

Learn the Location

Now, let’s step away from the map and now engage the subdivision and local environment in a different perspective.  Take time out to schedule regular walks, bike rides, etc. in and around the neighborhood.  If this is something you already do, take alternative paths or go during varying times during the day.  Here, you can practice taking the alternative ingress and egress routes you found on the map, as well as searching for places to hide or take cover.  Make note of the vehicles that are usually parked in driveways or along the street.  Learn to recognize familiar faces.  Note activities that seem to be out of the ordinary for your location.  For example, I learned, in my former neighborhood, that one home was used as a drug manufacturing lab.  Many of the teenagers in the neighborhood sold drugs for the dealer that ran the lab.  I learned to be careful when confronting the teens that would vandalize areas around my home (including the For Sale signs in our yard) knowing that they possessed more weapons and firepower than I did. 

Get detailed information on your subdivision.  Learn the number of homes that are in the subdivision.  For large subdivisions, learn how the different villages are configured.  Find out the demographics that are pertinent information to know (average ages of household adults, average number of children per household, etc.)  Make regular searches for your neighborhood on the internet .Take note of information on the neighborhood web site and/or bulletin board.  Keep local emergency numbers of note, including fire, police, utility companies, homeowner’s association, etc.

You can also learn valuable intelligence information from the windows of your residence.  Find the best vantage points in your home that allow you to look around the neighborhood.  This works best in multi-story homes.  Take time to note the “normal” condition of the homes, yards, and streets around you.  Binoculars or telescopes can help you view particular locations that could normally be inaccessible.  It would be best to have a privacy screen on your window that limits others from seeing your own activities while you watch theirs.

Know Your Neighbors

Get to know your neighbors   Start or join a neighborhood patrol.  Try to engage them as you make your way around the neighborhood during your walks or bike rides.  Begin discussions about local activities, being careful to avoid the impression that you are gathering information for intelligence products.  Gossipers are a wonderful resource for intelligence analysts; they always have a need to talk to others and feel special telling every minute detail about everyone else’s lives.  In my case, I had a neighbor whom I did not know come up to me in the yard and ask me some details about my child that my wife and I would rarely share with others.  After asking her further, I found that her source of information was from another neighbor who sometimes dropped by inside our home in order to use our telephone (and I think may have overheard a conversation I or my wife had on our cell phones.)  Needless to say, the phone has not been available to her since.
Take time to learn about your neighbors in the digital realm.  Checking local voter registration information and/or property tax rolls can often provide names and addresses of the people around you.  You can cross-check their information (names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc.) through search engines, criminal and sex-offender databases, and information collection sources (such a Pipl, LinkedIn, Zabasearch, etc.) Perhaps your state may catalog concealed weapon license holders.  Look for social networking sites where they may reveal more information about their lives (and the lives of those around them.)  Do not forget to check the social networks for their (and your) children, as well as their linked friends as well.  Some people with bad intentions have a tendency to broadcast this information through these methods.

Create the Intelligence Report

With several pieces of data collected on the subdivision, the prepper can now develop intelligence reports that can aid him or her in readying for emergency situations.  The thing about intelligence products is that it is tailored to the needs of the person requesting the information.  When I developed a number of reports during my military time, I usually made them to answer specific questions that were posed to me.  Some questions you may need answered could include:

  1. What are the most dangerous locations in my subdivision?
  2. What person(s) can I depend on during an emergency?  How can I get to him or her?
  3. Are there any persons to keep a lookout for during emergency situations?
  4. What are the various ways to get in and out of the neighborhood under stealth conditions?
  5. What can be seen inside of my home during the day?  At night? 
  6. How many direct lines of sight lead to my property?  How can I mitigate that situation?
  7. Is there something on my property that can attract “special” attention from others
  8. Do I have a property feature that is outside of the norm for my neighborhood?
  9. Do the police and/or security patrol near my home?  If not, how can I address that?
  10. What areas of the neighborhood give me the best vantage point for spotting outsiders?
  11. Who in the neighborhood may be armed? 
  12. Who in my neighborhood is trained in specific skills that can be useful for my needs?
  13. Are there other preppers that I can network with in my neighborhood?
  14. How is the power grid routed in my neighborhood?  Can certain portions lose power while others retain theirs? 
  15. What is the biggest potential threat to my subdivision?  What is the most likely threat?

Hopefully these suggestions can help preppers who, for one reason or another, enhance their readiness for surviving an emergency in suburban areas.  In a later post, I hope to include factors that can be used for those who may face emergencies while living in an urban area.

I found myself in a rather uncomfortable and vulnerable position. Hurricane Frederic hit Mobile, Alabama in September 1979. I thought it was going to be exciting. In fact several friends of mine had a party the night before Frederic made landfall. There was no preparation made on my part for this hurricane. I had no anxiety and could have cared less. At the time I didn't even have a gun. I had barely a quarter of a tank of gas in my car. I did not have a battery operated radio or a flashlight. There was very little non-perishable food in my pantry and a small amount of food in the fridge. I had no idea about hurricane preparation and I did not heed the warnings issued. My family lived in north Alabama about six hours away so I was on my own.

Well, Hurricane Frederic made landfall and it was very destructive. The winds were fierce and the rain was relentless. A large pine tree fell on my house. Many trees were downed throughout the city proper and county making it extremely difficult to navigate. Electricity was out for most of Mobile County so there was no way to obtain gas to fill my car up. Price gouging was rampant - a bag of ice was selling for $10 or more, that is if you could find some. Most of the stores were emptied out prior to the storm. I had never experienced power outages on this scale. My home did not have power restored for 22 days. What little food I had in the fridge if not eaten in 24 hrs was ruined. There was also a curfew imposed by the National Guard. There were very long lines for ice and emergency food being distributed by the National Guard. Fights broke out and looting was rampant. 

I was stuck in a very hot house every night. We were afraid to leave the windows open because of all the looting. Luckily I did have a gas water heater and fortunately the gas was never turned off. My home was a popular stop off for friends who wanted a hot shower. For a few days my neighbors shared what perishable food they had and there were nightly cookouts until the food ran out. I ate well in the beginning. Several weeks later I was finally able to get some food supplies and batteries thanks to my family. My brother drove to Mobile with a well-received load of supplies for me. Federal assistance was slow to arrive and I was feeling desperate still I was luckier than most folks. I made so many stupid mistakes. It was an extremely miserable time that I will never forget. I made a promise to myself to never let that happen again. I was not going to be a helpless victim especially when this could have been avoided with some minimal preparation. And I certainly was not going to depend on any government assistance.

Since Hurricane Frederic I have experienced a number of hurricanes over the years including Ivan and Katrina. I also went through a house fire in 2009. The house fire started due to a lightning strike. It totaled my home. I had to start all over on my emergency kit. The good news is that I was able to rebuild my home and fortify it against category four hurricane winds. This also helped me keep my homeowners insurance at a more affordable rate. But I have learned some valuable lessons.

In this article I will share with you how I now prepare for emergencies since my dreadful days during Hurricane Frederic in 1979. 
I first came up with a list of what emergency items I might need. I kept adding to the list after reading a number of survival books and blogs.
Initially it was frustrating because I wanted everything right now. But I had to sit back and realize it was going to be a slow process. Each month I purchased a few items from my list.
It has taken awhile to obtain what I currently have and my emergency kit is not complete yet. But as I add items I feel more confident. As with most people I had to budget purchasing my emergency items. But you have to start somewhere. Now I do not feel so vulnerable. I feel that I can protect and provide for my family. Even though they think I'm a little weird prepping for the unknown. But whenever the power goes off they come to me for flashlights and lanterns. They expect me to take care of them and have even commented they would have been disappointed in me had I not been prepared.

First thing - I always fill my gas tank up when the gauge nears the halfway mark. You never know when you are going to get stuck in a traffic jam.
I also have (5) five gallon empty gas cans in my garage attic and I fill them up at the early stages of a potential tropical storm. If the storm doesn't materialize I just put the gas in my cars so nothing is wasted. You simply
cannot wait until the storm becomes a hurricane. By then there are long lines at the gas stations and shelves are emptied at the grocery stores.

I purchased a Honda 3000 watt generator that I can plug it into my electrical system. The generator is attached to a heavy chain and locked in place for security. I run the generator for several hours every month to ensure it is in good working order. I also have a small window A/C unit stored in the garage so I can have a cool room to sleep in at night. The generator is mainly to keep my refrigerator and freezer running.
My pantry is kept stocked with at least a month of food - canned goods, peanut butter, crackers, granola bars and dehydrated foods. As a backup I have a closet stocked with long shelf life freeze dried foods.
I have a several six gallon water jugs along with five collapsible one gallon water jugs. I keep a minimum of six cases of bottled water on hand. I have several Aquamira frontier water systems, life-straw, and polar pure water treatment. I fill up both bathtubs and all of my sinks. I recently located a nearby water stream within walking distance from my home. Remember folks a water supply is extremely important. You can go longer without eating than you can without drinking water.

I keep a three month supply of AA, AAA, C, D, and Nine Volt batteries. I have several battery/solar powered short wave radios along with a ham radio. I keep a wind up watch in my emergency pack.
I started out simply with a hurricane kit to get me through at a minimum of 3 to 4 days of survival. Now it has evolved to a more elaborate emergency kit. My goal is to be able to survive at a minimum of three to six months. In this emergency kit there is duct tape, Paracord - various lengths, snakebite kit, hatchet, 15" knife, 18" machete, hiking shoes, solar link radio, binoculars, first aid kit, machete, manual can opener, rain ponchos, tarp, wet fire starting tinder, blast match fire starter, bacterial soap, toilet paper, spork eating utensil, haululite ketalist tea kettle, outdoor 10" fry pan, siphon pump, emergency tent, emergency blankets, nine volt battery with steel wool-(you can easily start a fire with these two items), and camping cookware. I plan on getting some seeds so in the case of a long lived disaster I can grow my own vegetables. I already have several fruit trees in my backyard.

I inventory all of my emergency items monthly and refresh the list when needed. I also include a note where each item is stored. All of my important papers are kept in a fireproof/ waterproof safe.

I have ammo stored in watertight ammo cans. I clean my weapons on a regular basis. There are plenty of flashlights and lanterns. I keep small flashlights and lanterns throughout my home and garage. There are several battery powered fans to use during the day.

I have a grill and an Emberlit stove for backup in case the gas company shuts down our gas supply. I have a camp stove coffee maker so I can start my mornings with my caffeine fix. I practice using a flint/steel fire starter and my Emberlit stove. It's good to learn how to use your emergency equipment when there is no emergency rather than wait until there is one. That also includes going to a range and firing your pistols and rifles.

I have a corded phone stored in my emergency kit. Cordless phones will not function without electricity and I have experienced problems with spotty cell phone usage during hurricanes. For some reason land line phones have always worked for me.

I have precut plywood and each piece is numbered so I don't have to wonder which piece goes to each outside window. I use plylox brackets to quickly and easily insert the precut plywood to protect my outside windows.

I have my rear and garage doors hinged so they open outward making it difficult for hurricane force winds or humans to force the doors inward. Although my front door does open inward I brace it at night with a buddy bar. There have been a number of home invasions in our county occurring at night. It usually involves kicking in the front door and before you can react they are in your bedroom. I also have shutters on every inside window for privacy and it also helps keep cooling costs down. I decided to use spray foam instead of the traditional insulation in my attic. Even in the hottest month my attic is never more than 84 degrees. When the power is out my home should not heat up like most houses.

I have several neighbors close by that I keep in touch with. We have agreed to help each other out if need be. There is strength in numbers. I recently installed a wireless detector alerting me if anyone walks up my driveway to the back of my home. I plan on getting two way radios so I can easily keep in touch with my family and neighbors. My biggest fear is of people becoming desperate and dangerous. From my research it appears to only take several days for some folks to begin looting and killing. Once that begins it multiplies. I want to be able to protect my family at all costs. So ammunition and additional firepower are priorities for me. Most of my emergency items are stored in a backpack and a rolling canvas bag should I need to bug out quickly.

My pipe dream is to buy some land in a wooded area near water. I would build a small but comfortable shelter and an underground bunker. But that is only a dream and not in my budget so I plan to survive with my current method.

Bob G. wrote on July 19th regarding pension obligations for retired government workers.  The implication seemed to be that they are excessively generous and should be cut.  I am a retired teacher and a taxpayer, so I have two dogs in this fight.  As a taxpayer, I want to hold the line on government spending.  As a retiree, I depend on the money I was promised for my livelihood.
Pensions are a contractual obligation backed by the 'full faith and credit' of government.  If government had properly funded the liability in the first place, the money to pay pensions would be there today.  That it is not cannot be laid at the feet of the retiree.  In Maine, at least, we paid in to our pension system with every check.  The state's contribution must be considered as deferred income, money we earned but were not paid at the time.  I took a pay cut to become a teacher because I felt it was a job that needed doing.  I did so with the understanding that my retirement was secure.  After 25 years, I receive 50% of my pay before deductions for health care, taxes and so forth.

Many state and local governments spent the money they should have set aside for pensions on other things.  As a result, for example, retirees have lost our cost of living allowance (COLA).  As time goes by, this could become a serious problem for many of us. 

A contract is a contract.  People like me planned their lives around the promises that were made.  I can't go back and get another career.  In this economy, I can't even get a job!  The money I receive from my pension is money I earned over a lifetime of hard work.  Good teachers put in as much time outside of school as they do in the classroom: in my case, about 60 hours a week, twelve months a year. 
If spending cuts are necessary, negotiate different arrangements in future and ensure they are fully funded.  And maybe, just maybe, before you cut pensions we should take a look at benefits that are paid but not earned. - Randy in Maine

JWR Replies: I agree that contractual promises should be kept. Obviously, what needs to be implemented are two tier systems. Any new hires would be enrolled in a scaled-back retirement system. The key change would be that retirement payments would not begin until age 65.

G.G. sent us this piece from Virginia: Fowl Territory: Why Richmond should embrace backyard chickens.

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Join The Club, Your Honor: Trenton Mayor Tony Mack federal probe: FBI raids homes of mayor, brother, supporter. Any guesses on the illustrious "crime fighting" group that Mayor Mack belongs to?

The folks over at the If It Hits The Fan blog just passed the milestone of 500 posts. Congrats.

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Yet another conference... This one is in Tucson, on August 11, 2012: The Arizona Survivalist Show. (Thanks to Randy in Arizona for the link.)

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I just read that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has been named Marshal of the Army. I suppose that they gave Kim Il-sung Jr. Jr. that position because of his many years of military experience playing Call of Duty and Halo. Just like his father, he has learned that it is ronery at the top. On a tangential note, I predict that he will be very, very angry on November 21st when the re-make of Red Dawn is released without his permission.

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Brandon Smith asks: Where Is The Line For Revolution?

"And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: [they were] judges in Beersheba.
And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint [them] for himself, for his chariots, and [to be] his horsemen; and [some] shall run before his chariots.
And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and [will set them] to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
And he will take your daughters [to be] confectionaries, and [to be] cooks, and [to be] bakers.
And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, [even] the best [of them], and give [them] to his servants.
And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put [them] to his work.
He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day." - 1 Samuel 8:1-18 (KJV)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Growing up, we are taught to share.  Share our toys, share the chores, share our parents attention.  When we get to an age where we can earn some money, whether it be allowance for household jobs, or something like a paper route, our parents teach us to be sure to give God his 10%.  (Here is a little secret...it is ALL God's, he just allows us to keep 90%, if only the government would be so generous).  Well, as we get even older, let us say, after high school or college, we get a 'real' job.  This is theoretically speaking of course, since there are so many who don't have jobs, whether because there are  none available in their field of skills or because they just don't want to work and would rather have someone else support them.   Now, saying we have this job, and we give 10% to God (via His church), we also have to give a share to Uncle Sam...he is the uncle we pay to stay away and leave us alone.  If you do not pay enough, he will come after more than his fair share.  So still, we share.

Let us take the master that gave to his servants talents, to test their abilities.  He gave to one servant five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent.  Well, you know the account, the servant with five talents used his abilities and increased his talents by five more.  The twp talent servant did likewise and increased his talents by two more, but the one talent servant just buried his talent, keeping it to himself, and when the master returned, the first two servants were given praise for their good work while the one talent servant was punished. (Matthew 25: 14-30).  The one talent was then given to the 10 talent servant and the master said, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance:  but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." 

I would like to give a few examples of sharing.  In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was sent by God to give a message to Ahab, that there would be a drought in the land.  After delivering the message, Elijah was told to "hide by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan."  At the river, he was able to drink and God had ravens to bring him food for a while.  Then the brook  dried up, "because there had been no rain in the land."  Elijah was then told to go to Zarephath and dwell there, where God had prepared a widow woman to sustain him.  He met the widow woman as she gathered sticks and asked her to give him something to drink.  As she was going to get the drink, he asked her to also get him something to eat.  "And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse:  and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die."  Well, she did make that cake for Elijah, and because she was willing to share, God made the meal and oil last so that she nor her son had to starve.  It was by sharing what she had that she was blessed.  

On another occasion, there was a different widow woman and her sons who were fearful of her late husband's creditors. They were planning to take her sons as slaves for the debt her husband left behind when he died.  She cried to Elisha, the man of God, for help. "And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house?  And she said,  Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil."  So he told her to go to her neighbors and borrow vessels, and not just a few, but many vessels.  She was then told to go into a room with her sons and shut the door and pour out the oil into the vessels, which she did, until there was not another vessel to fill.  And still she had oil. "Then she came and told the man of God.  And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest."  Again we see how God took the little she had and made it last.  

When Jesus fed the multitudes with the fishes and loaves of bread, He could have just as easily spoke and produced food out of the air, as with the manna for the children of Israel and with the raven feeding Elijah, but He did not.  He took what they had and made it last until everyone present had been fed.  When the children of Israel left Egypt and were fed by the manna, they had to leave all they had known and trust in God.  Elijah had to leave town and hide, and trust in God.  The widow women also, used what they had left, and trusted in God.  On the one hand you have those who had to flee and on the other hand you have those that stayed, but had something, although sparse, to start with.  In all cases, the individuals involved had to trust in God completely to take care of their needs.  Likewise, we have to trust in God to provide our needs.  If we have goods, and share with our brethren, God can increase our goods as he sees fit.  If we have nothing and someone shares with us, that is a blessing to us as well as the person sharing their goods, and we should be sure to thank God for his blessings and ask blessings on the sharing party.

Jesus wants us to share and help the less fortunate.  That is not to say that we should provide total support for able bodied people who just do not want to work.  An old Chinese saying, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."   In helping others, we may need to teach them new skills so that they can help themselves. The Bible also teaches in Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15, "...that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by or Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.  And if any many obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."  And also in 1 Timothy 5:8, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."  

We need to encourage others to prepare for hard times.  Even as our economy  is failing daily, some will not hear of making plans for the future, but live only for that day.   And while we are not promised tomorrow, and should live every day as if it were our last, we can plan for the future we hope to have if we live and if the Lord is willing.  And do not be afraid to help others in genuine need, (Hebrews 13:1-2) "Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware." And Jesus said in Matthew 25:34-46, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked and ye clothed me:  I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto thee, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  We do need to share with the less fortunate that are trying to help themselves and do it willingly. "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver." - 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.

First of all thank you for your blog.  I have been reading it every day for the last year. J.D. in Texas offers some good information regarding Concrete Masonry Units(CMUs), however I may be able to share some more details.  I have also been in the concrete masonry business for about 22 years.  The first thing to consider when using concrete masonry is to avoid breathing any dust from the units, such as when a unit is cut, split, or ground.  At the very least use a N95 or N99 dust mask.  If you are cutting a CMU then use a wet saw if you can.  The concern of the previous article was with Fly Ash which is a product derived from the scrubbers from coal fired power plants.  It can contain some potentially dangerous chemicals such as mercury, antimony, barium, and strontium to name a few.  It is used as a partial replacement for regular cement to actually produce a better finished product.  Fly Ash can increase the long term strength, durability, freeze-thaw resistance, permeability, and road salt resistance.  Many State D.O.T.’s have requirements to use Fly Ash at certain concentrations to improve bridges and roadways. 

An important concept to understand about concrete is that it gets stronger with age due to a reaction with water called hydration.  Most concrete is considered cured at 28 days, Fly Ash concrete is generally considered cured at 56 days, although the curing process never truly ends.  One hundred year old concrete has been tested and it was found to still be curing.  The other important concept to know is that the ingredients of concrete are generally bound within the matrix (internal structure) of the concrete.  There is likely only one pound or less of Fly Ash in a typical 8”x 8”x 16” CMU, which would only contain a very small percentage of potentially toxic materials that will not likely be released from the concrete. 

Considering other building materials for a raised bed?  Pressure treated lumber contains toxic materials, Railroad ties? - don’t even think about it [because they are permeated with toxic creosote, copper naphthenate, and other chemicals] Brick? - Clay brick can also contain fly ash.  I would not hesitate to build a raised bed with concrete masonry units; in fact I have one in the works.  If you are concerned I would just allow a little extra distance between your plantings and the sides of the CMUs.  You could also paint the units with a low-volatile organic compounds (VOC) latex based paint to seal the units if you like.  Also not all units will necessarily contain Fly Ash; if you have concerns you need to express them to your local concrete masonry producer.  Some CMU manufactures use standard cement and or Slag Cement as a partial replacement for traditional cement and there are not any known contamination concerns with these products.  Slag cement is derived from steel production and has some of the same benefits to concrete as Fly Ash without the negatives. - M.L. in Kentucky

The "well funded" Social Security myth: $20 trillion timebomb. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Reader AmEx sent an article by Paul Farrell: How Bernanke will cause the next crash before 2014

Over at Alt-Market: Bad Economic Signs 2012

Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report alerted me to an article wherein Karl Denninger summarizes the enormity of the LIBOR scandal: So I Need To "Be An Adult" About Fraud Eh? Here is a key quote: "There are hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest-rate derivatives linked to LIBOR, directly and indirectly. A 1% move would be something like $3 trillion dollars. "

Items from The Economatrix:

Ambrose Evan-Pritchard:  Fed Fiddles While America Slides Back Into Recession

Refinancing Debt Into Prosperity

Authorities Give Gold Price Another Leg Up

This Major Fed Move is About to Create an Explosion in Gold

SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson mentioned a new product: the Trucker's Friend. (It is even American-made!)

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Yet another reason to avoid all social media: Facebook Monitors Your Chats for Criminal Activity. (Thanks to RBS for the link.)

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Sterile v. Clean In Survival Situations:  Doom & Bloom

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Some facts on firearms in the United States.

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Speaking of guns, read: Outrage After News Channel Helps Public Identify Gun Owners. In the warped minds of the gun grabbers, they perceive gun owners on a par with child molesters, so they think it is just dandy to publish names and addresses. (Thanks to H.L. for the latter link.)

“...if the study of the Bible is to be excluded from all state schools; if the inculcation of the principles of Christianity is to have no place in the daily program; if the worship of God is to form no part of the general exercises of these public elementary schools; then the good of the state would be better served by restoring all schools to church control.” - National Education Association (NEA), 1892

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Today is coincidentally the birthday of both Samuel Colt and Gaston Glock. (Born July 19, 1814, and July 19, 1929, respectively.) It has been rightly said: "God may have made men, but Samuel Colt made them equal." As for Gaston Glock, I predict that his lasting legacy will be recognized following a war of resistance in the near future, when his ubiquitous mass-produced pistols will have the Geheime Staats Polizei or Policía Secreta, or Police Secrète quaking in their boots. In my estimation both Colt and Glock's designs are significant contributions to human liberty and equality, all around the world.

July 19th also marks the 37th anniversary of the death of Corporal John Alan Coey, the first American volunteer to die in the Rhodesian Bush War. Even the editors of Wikipedia (which I call LeftistAgendaPedia) recognized his selfless service.


Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When it comes to food storage, people that I have talked with have almost always made the comment that they can barely afford to feed their family now much less afford to have food storage.  I am currently working with a few people and teaching them how to feed their family and still put food up for TEOTWAWKI.  There are three things that I tell people to always do, (1) gardening, (2) couponing, and (3) food co-ops.

(1) Gardening.  When TSHTF, you don’t want to be changing the way that your family eats because then you could be facing worse problems.  So the number 1 thing to do is to start a garden.  You are going to want to already know how to grow your own food to be able to replenish your food storage and maintain a constant supply of food.  I always tell people to both feed your family from your garden as well as preserve what you grow.  Start with heirloom seeds so that you can also learn how to save the seeds from what you grow.  Your startup will be more with getting the proper seeds and tools to do the work.  When you grow and preserve your own food storage, you have the ability to learn the art of gardening, seed saving, and know that your family will eat and already be adjusted to the foods that you grow as well as save money.  Fresh fruits and vegetables from your home garden are healthier for you because you are able to control the pesticides and environment that they are grown in.  Once you have all that fresh fruits and vegetables, you need to preserve them before they go bad.  You can dehydrate and can them.  Look at thrift stores and yard/garage sales for canning equipment including canning jars as well as dehydrators.  You would be surprised at what people get rid of, especially in the times that we are in.  Get creative with this, there are so many things that you can do with all those fruits and vegetables.  Tomato’s for examples, you can dehydrate them and then eat them as a snack or put through a blender for tomato powder.  When you can them, you can make spaghetti sauce, chili sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce, et cetera.

(2) Couponing.  There are so many coupons out there that no one uses.  Ask around and I’m sure you can find people that will give you theirs that they aren’t going to use.  Check the local library, they usually have a box for people to drop off coupons, and join a couponing group where you can swap ones you will not use for ones that you will.  I was just at the store and had been able to get a total of 28 Heinz Vinegar coupons for $1 off any one.  They were priced at Wal-Mart for $1.12, so after the coupon I only paid out of pocket 12 cents each.  You can get a lot of stuff for storage fast using your local stores sales and combining a coupon.  Not only can you get the coupons from the Sunday papers, but there are lots of sites online that you can print coupons as well such as coupons.com, as well as being able to download coupons on your store saving card.  Watch at the stores, there are always displays that have coupons attached to.  You can either use them then or save them for a sale.  I got some coupons in the Sunday paper for Ball or Kerr canning jars, when I went to the store and bought them, there was coupons on the side of the packages and inside were coupons for the lids, pectin, produce protector, and more.  There are also times when there are coupons put out for items that will give you an overage.  There was a $3 off any Bayer aspirin coupon and at Wal-Mart the regular price for the low dose is $2.22 resulting in a 78 cent per bottle overage.  I had 10 coupons so I bought 10 of them and all of them were free and I got a total of $7.80 off of my shopping trip.  There are times when you don’t have to wait for a sale, but for the most part you are going to want to hold on to your coupons to combine with a sale and if possible a store coupon.  Always remember to check your expiration dates, you don’t want to stock up on a bunch of items that will be expiring in a month. Coupons are everywhere you just have to keep your eyes open for them.

(3) Food co-ops.  My favorite is Bountiful Baskets.  Check their web site as see if they have a page for your state.  I go on and get my basket as well as being able to get fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk at discounted prices as an add on to bring home and preserve.  I have gotten wheat, fruits, and vegetables from there.  Co-ops also give you more of a variety of new things to try and see if your family likes or not.  You can also find food co-ops through any local farmers in your area.  When it comes to co-ops, the sky’s the limit.  My father-in-law has apple trees and my kids and I will go over there during harvest time and pick as many as we can hold.  My father-in-law provides his own canning jars and in exchange, when I am making apple butter, apple sauce, jelly, apple pie in a jar, etc., I can up extra jars for him and get my apples for free all it takes is my time.  Ask around to people that you know that fruit trees and see if you can come over when they are ripe and pick some, most of the time they will let you because they don’t want what they won’t use to go to waste.  I always offer to can some extra for them if they supply their own jars and lids.  It doesn’t take any longer to do up a couple more jars for them and then they will be happy that you are offering to do something for what you are wanting from them.  When people see that you are offering to do all of the work they are willing to let you take as much as you want.  Another place to look is your local farmer’s market.  You can find lots of good prices there as well as being able to get an idea on what items grow good in your area.  You don’t want to stock up on a bunch of seeds that will not grow in the region that you live in.

Go out and talk to people and see what they have and what they do.  Talked to the people that work at your local nurseries, they know what will grow and what not to waste your time on for the area that you live in.  A good rule of thumb is try it yourself.  Everyone told me that you couldn’t grow peanuts where I live and I decided to try it myself.  They are growing good in my garden, I just have to wait and see if they produce.  If they do, then I will be glad that I tried it out for myself.  Listen to what people have to say but also try it for yourself.  It is best to find out now then when it’s too late and you are counting on your garden to be able to feed yourself and family when there is no grocery store to go to.  You don’t have to tell them what you are doing, from my experience when I ask questions people seem to like to show off how much they know they don’t seem to ask to many questions.

If you have a group together that you will be with WTSHTF, working together as a group now will enable you to work together as a group better when it is really needed.  I concentrate more on food storage then I do anything, don’t get me wrong, anything can happen and it is always best to make sure that everyone in the group has everything that they will need to sustain life should you all not be able to make it to your suggested location, however, working as a team to find the best deals will enable you all to get a better variety of food storage then working alone and not as a team.  There are people that I know that know people that I don’t and have access to different fruit trees then I do and just by putting the work out there sometimes you can get more then if you worked by yourself.  A word of caution though, is be careful with whom you talk to.  I don’t go around announcing to people that I am a prepper, because there are too many people that do see a need for it, and those are the people that WTSHTF are going to be either knocking on your door for help or worse yet, trying to by force take what you have worked so hard to get. 

Pay attention to all of the resources out there on how to get yourself your food storage and save money at the same time.  With using the techniques I have described, I have been able to not only feed my family, have a good variety of food storage, but also cut our grocery bill down by half each month.

This most basic decision should be reviewed daily "in a crisis" and weekly in preparation for a TSHTF scenario. In order to make the correct call you must understand the situation that you are in.

One thing true for all situations: You must be prepared to defend what you have. Why? Because your life may depend on it (you and your loved ones). Whatever you have prepared can be lost in one single event. You may not get a second chance to do better next time.

Another thing that is important to consider is "time". You must understand how much time you have before you reach the next decision point. If this is a natural disaster, will things get better in three days? One week? Mark this on your calendar or mark in your wallet/purse. Why? Because you can't let a decision point pass you by without considering the basic question: Fight or Flight?

Military commanders, CEOs, everyone has "Decision Points" that come up and signal that you need to do something or face the consequences. Decision points give you time to think about the next step you are going to take. Going to take means "action". If you don't take some kind of action then the stress surrounding your circumstances will increase. Action under stress is a "reaction" or not a thought out decision. In any crisis situation it is best to have two or three courses of action that you can think through or discuss with your group.

Fight/ Stay. Let's look at first part of this, "Fight" or Stay. A lot depends on how much preparation you have accomplished. To stand your ground, stay put, fight or defend means you have means to do that. Are you armed? Do you have supplies (food and water)? Are others there to help you or close by? If the answer to one or more of these is "No" then I would conclude that you are not in a Fight or Stay position. Based on your decision skip down to the Details below.

Flight/ Go. If you can't fight or stay put then your action is to take Flight or Go (move on). This too can depend on preparation (are you seeing a theme here...prepare, prepare, prepare...) Do you know a place to flee to? Parents house, friends, relatives, retreat community, hideout, weekend house, cabin in the woods, or another country. If you don't have a planned place to go then what are your options? Not good really. Worst case scenario is to a government run location, e.g. FEMA camp, Aid Station, Federal Assistance housing. No doubt your have read and seen the movies showing what these places might be like. It is never good to depend on the mercy of the government or someone that has become the local "warlord" of the area. Based on your decision skip down to the Details below.

Fight/ Stay Details.
Where are you at for shelter? From the low end to the top this would be: Public Space, Tent, Vehicle/RV, Abandoned housing, Apartment/Condo (Multi Unit Building(s)), Suburban Home, Country House with or w/o acreage, Retreat Community/Castle. As mentioned above, if you are not prepared to defend where you are at then the decision will be made for you to move on.

At any of these locations you must have supplies. You have to know how much food and water you have in terms of "Days of Supply". Are you down to one month, one week or one day before you run out? If any of these locations runs out of water then you have about three days left to live. Unless you are extremely confident more water is coming or it will rain and fill your bottles/barrels then you have to move on. Looking around for water and returning to your current location sounds better than it really is. Is your family or group safe while you or others are out doing this? Doubtful under even the best of circumstances. Having no water is about as down as you can get. Having water and some food means you can ration supplies and stretch them out for a few weeks.

The decision to be armed will most likely already have been made. When the crisis hits is not the time to go buy a weapon even if they say they are available. You may be in a location where there are not guns or in a country where guns are not allowed. Anyone that thinks they are Chuck Norris and can fight off a gang of thugs is not thinking clearly. If you are not armed then you are dependent on the government to protect you...local police force, conscripted law enforcement or militias. From the Argentine and other crisis articles you can't depend on timely help. By that I mean, if someone is pressuring you to get what you have then help may not arrive to save you or make them go away.

Keep in mind that the decision to give away some of your supplies will most likely lead to them taking it all (especially if you have no way of stopping them) or them telling others where you are swamped by the needy in the area or wandering in the area (think attack of the dead zombies...desperate people act like them).

Skilful use of "money" or bartering might prolong your Fight and Stay decision. I am amazed at the articles that say, "Carry $100 with you". Okay, what do you think that is going to get you in a financial crisis. Think massive inflation...daily price changes. Think Weimar Republic and wheelbarrows of money. This of Zimbabwe 1 Billion dollar note not being able to buy anything. Or Russia chopping zeros off the currency. This makes your $100 now worth about one dollar. Rolls of quarters for the vending machines...how many of those were left after Katrina hit. Have two or three options to think about.

There are some early crisis scenarios where paper money might get you though it for the short term. If you are preparing then think pre-1964 silver coins, precious metal coins and bullion. Don't rely just on one of these. How are you going to buy the few groceries the local store is letting you buy with a 1 oz. gold coin that is now worth way more or 100 times what the store is limited to letting you buy. Track what these coins mean in value for that day. Under no circumstances should you ever start to buy or negotiate something and have to calculate the value or ask someone else what the price is.

Flight/ Go Details.
I think this is the ultimate decision to flee found in the Book of Matthew 24:
17Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

Not sure what this person saw but it must have been bad...and heading their way fast. You can see a lot from up on top or your house. Maybe it was the Golden Horde of crazed looters headed toward your house or neighborhood. The decision to not go back in the house to retrieve anything means you flee with what is on your body. Hopefully this is after the crisis has started and you have your "Bug Out Bag" on you at all times. Not a bad idea if your decision time is this very short.

I have not seen one article about how to stay and fight or flee if you or your significant other is pregnant. Unless you or someone in your group is up to speed on child berth then you are most likely in a stay put mode. And you will be there until well after the child is born (give suck). Expecting a pregnant woman to walk any distance to the next town is crazy talk.

Weather is going to play a big part in your decision making process. Verse 20 (not shown) talks about Winter. Any military person that went through training or operations in winter conditions knows that what you carry goes way up. Going over 40 pounds starts to affect young men and puts old out of the question to carry this load to the next location. Know all the signs of trouble that weather can bring...Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke, Dehydration, Hypothermia, Sun blindness, Immersion foot and the list goes on. Still wonder why you see First Aid Kit on every list. Thinking about these may force you to stay put and reexamine the Fight/Stay options.
Vehicle options do seem to help you out at face value. The obstacle here is can the vehicle get you to where you are going? Will there be roadblocks, check points, terrain, "toll booths" or grid-lock traffic where you are unable to leave the road and/or turn around or select an alternate route. Have you driven this route before the crisis? Miscalculating this means you grab what is in the vehicle and you are now on foot. Have you thought about what you need to carry...have to carry...are able to carry?
Moving on foot is going to be your worst case scenario. Plenty of articles out there on what to take with you. All of them will overload a SEAL/Ranger person let alone your average male or female. What you carry may depend on resupply before you reach your destination. All military operations plan for resupply of food and water (and shelter). What is your plan? You have to figure that all locals along the way have done just what happened in your area...they bought or looted everything. If you plan to approach houses along your route then keep in mind this could get you shot. If where you are going is more than your food and water will last you...then don't start this journey.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT FLASH CARD (Make your own to fit your PLAN or situation)
FIGHT (Stay) -
Improve shelter by:
Improve defense by:
Improve supplies by: F.A.K w/select medicines; food (cache site?); water (improve collection & storage methods); No. of DoS (Days of Supply)?

Recheck what to carry in Bug Out Bag/Backpack; Practice walking with that amount of weight on you.
Recheck what is in or will be in your vehicle.
Examine your "Flee" Courses of Action...What is the concept of how you will get to where you are going?

I just read Warren Buffett's comments about municipal bankruptcies on the rise.  (See: Buffet Says Muni Bankruptcies are Set to Climb.) Much of the problem is the super generous retirement plans available to many state, federal and local government workers.  As always, a bit of common sense would help cushion the impact of this largess.

After 30 years of service workers are allowed to retire with a full pension.  Many retiring workers are still in their early fifties.  In many cases pensions are being paid out for 10-15 years before the workers are eligible for SS.  To put this into perspective, this results in pension payments (for this calculation I arbitrarily used $500 a month-still way too low) of between $60,000 to $90,000 in benefits paid before the workers goes on Social Security. If the present pensions were kept (still far too generous) and the workers required to begin receiving their pension benefits at age 65 (or whatever the Social Security retirement age is) it would cushion the impact of the insane pension costs.

An ex-government worker in my neighborhood is 82 years old and has been retired from his government job for 29 years.

BTW, I recently read that California's pension plans are underfunded by $62 billion dollars.  There is no way that this deficit can be made up.  The most logical scenario is that, when the younger workers reach retirement age, there will be no pension for them. - Bob G.

Dear JWR:
The family and I have a photo safari planned in South Africa this September. I have the paperwork to take my person carry pistol with me. This paperwork is from the South African Police force. I am wondering if anyone you know has done this before. I have friends who have taken the large caliber rifles with no problem. I have searched SurvivalBlog archives but the question of taking a pistol has not shown up.

My main question is this. Do I need BATF or commerce department import/export paperwork/permission to take the pistol out of the US and back into the country. We will be transiting JFK and I know not to take possession of my luggage in New York. Thanks, - C.A.

JWR Replies: You'll have to abide by both U.S. law and South African law.

If "self defense" is not a normally-approved justification (by the South African government), then the first thing that comes to mind is enrolling in a one day handgun shooting course in South Africa, as part of your vacation trip.. With that course as justification, you could conceivably take one or even two handguns per person, as well as the requisite magazines, holsters, and ammunition. They would of course have to be transported in airline-approved locking cases. (To minimize the risk of theft, it is best to put those cases inside of your larger checked luggage.)

OBTW, most airline rules require that any ammunition must be in the original factory boxes, and furthermore they have fairly low limits on the number of cartridges that you can bring. (Typically 200 rounds.)

I thought the article Dying and Death in a Collapse Situation, by Irish Eyes was a well written piece.  As a funeral director I thought I would add my thoughts.

The article was very well written and had good working knowledge of the death and dying process. The point that I wanted to touch on is the fact that there is a stigma that dead bodies are extremely unsanitary. They may be and should be treated as such if you were to come upon a body that died of unknown causes. However, according to Ron Hast publisher Mortuary Management Magazine, if the person died of known or natural causes they are not anymore unsanitary than they were prior to passing. I agree with these statements as well as long as we are talking about a reasonable amount of time. The body should be washed and dressed appropriately and you do not need to be wearing a hazmat suit to do it.

Burial on your own property is legal (in my region) there are rules set out by law for this to take place. In the county where I live the rules state that burial should be 100 feet from a well, spring, stream or other water source and at least 25 feet inside your property line. Graves do not need to exceed four feet in depth the six foot depth is something conjured up in the movies and modern graves are dug at a four foot depth. I think that shooting for a 3 foot depth would be adequate if hand digging.

The grave should be marked as soon as possible. A person thinks that they will always know where the grave is, but it will return to its surroundings quicker than one might think. The rules and regulations that surround death and burial vary widely by state and even county. In a TEOTWAWKI setting what must be done must be done. Just keep a good record of everything. Record grave locations, date of death, time of death, journal the facts surrounding the death.

Get in touch with your local family owned funeral home. I'm sure they would be happy to give you some knowledge base to better prepare you in the event you need to use it. God Bless. - Tango Charlie

Got eggshells? Reader C.D.V. suggested this clever DIY tip: How to Make a Calcium Supplement

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J. McC. forwarded an article about this fun event: 'Tough Mudder' pushes competitors to extremes.

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Another South Carolina event: Sue C. mentioned that Without Walls Ministry will host the Lowcountry Preppers Conference/Disaster Preparedness Meeting July 20 & 21 (Friday evening and all day Saturday) at the the First Assembly of God, 2957 Savannah Highway, Charleston, South Carolina.

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Midwest drought shows little sign of abating. (A hat tip to Sue C. for the link.)

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Sean Combs Could Sue City After Winning Open Carry Gun Case

"Shortly before World War I, the German Kaiser was the guest of the Swiss government to observe military maneuvers. The Kaiser asked a Swiss militiaman: 'You are 500,000 and you shoot well, but if we attack with 1,000,000 men what will you do?' The soldier replied: 'We will shoot twice and go home.'" - Historian Stephen Halbrook, as quoted by Bill Buppert, in ZeroGov: Limited Government, Unicorns and Other Mythological Creatures

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We’ve read about it in books, watched it in movies, or seen it on the news: People joining together to defend their neighborhood.  The point of this article is to review the general details needed to correctly accomplish this difficult objective.  Successfully defending a neighborhood in a societal collapse is extremely difficult, and it’s not even close to being as easy as it is commonly portrayed.  As you read this, please remember the golden rule of security: it is like being pregnant…either you are or you’re not!  Being partially secured is not much better than being completely unsecured. 

Overview and Expectations

The first part of a neighborhood defensive plan is deciding the type and size of the opposing force.  The majority of potential threats will be related to your demographic location.  Are you located close to a prison or juvenile correction facility?  Are you on the outskirts of a major city that has a high population of gangs or slum areas?  What if your neighborhood is rural but suburbs are located in every cardinal direction? 

Next, how large or small of an area is going to be defended?  The manpower and resources required vary drastically depending on the size of the defended region.  Do you need to defend a single dead-end street, or must two square blocks be secured?  As the defended area enlarges, all other defensive requirements are greatly multiplied.

Finally, how long do you plan on defending the area?  Is it going to be for 12 hours, 2 weeks, 1 month, or 2 years?  The manpower and supplies required expand exponentially the longer the defensive plan.

Knowing Your Neighbors

Now that the decision has been made that a defensive plan must be created, the question needs to be asked: who will participate?  In modern society, we seem to have lost the connection between our neighbors that we had prior to the internet, iPads, cell phones, and other technology which insulates us from each other.  Today, most people have no idea who their neighbors are.  You need to get out and build relationships with the people that live in your area.  This enables you to determine who is reliable and like-minded, who to avoid, and even if you even have registered criminals living close.

The next step is more difficult:  how do you address your defensive strategy to the people you have determined may be “Okay?”  If you are direct, will it turn people away?  Should you start the idea by forming a neighborhood watch?  With the nation becoming the Nanny State, be careful how you approach this topic.

Most importantly, be careful about personal details discussed with acquaintances.  Remember to practice OPSEC (Operational Security).  You should not tell anyone except your most trusted confidants the details of your level of prepping, the supplies you’ve stored, or your defensive tools.  You should never refer to yourself as a “Prepper.”   A good saying to remember is:  “You cannot un-ring a bell,” meaning that once information is provided, it cannot be taken back.  Be friendly, be polite, but be vague about your personal preparations.

Be aware that as a result of your quest to find like-minded people, you are by default putting yourself in the leadership position of your group.  You need to think long and hard about this detail.  Is this a responsibility for which you’re prepared or should you pass this important role off to another person that would be a suitable leader?  If you decide to continue the role as leader, be prepared for the duties that follow.  You will be the person in charge that everyone looks to for answers.  Furthermore you will also be the person that fingers are pointed at for blame.  As Shakespeare says in “Henry IV, Part 1:” “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

Who To Select For What Position

Personalities are just as important to a position as the actual position.  Do you want someone manning a checkpoint who only asks “Will we get to shoot someone”?  On the other hand, do you want someone at a checkpoint that refuses the concept of ever being confrontational no matter what the situation is?  You are looking for someone the military refers to as a “quiet professional”.  For defensive positions, you want someone that has a calm temper, sound mind, and possesses logical thought and reasoning: definitely NOT the Rambo type. 

The other consideration is a difficult.  No matter what good intentions people have during table times, you do not know what they will do in hard times.  You cannot blame them, but when faced with danger, people might choose their family’s safety over their sense of duty.  Once you know your potential group members better, you will get an idea of who man their post and who will flee.   In my professional experience, I have found that the people that talk a good game are not always the ones that will stand up and fight.  On the other hand, in many cases the person you think will run away turns out to be the most reliable person on your team.

The Plan: What Is Needed

This section is not about tactical drills, fighting techniques, or weapons handling.  It’s a general discussion to provide a concise and realistic concept for creating your area security plan.

A perimeter must be established around the defended area.  Two perimeters will actually be created: An extended perimeter (EP) and an inner perimeter (IP).  
I have found that the best way to plan the perimeters is to print high resolution screen-prints of the area using Google Earth.  These screen-prints should include the surrounding regions and be printed on true photo quality paper which is then laminated.  In this way permanent markers can be used for planning and then the printouts can simply be cleaned with rubbing alcohol for reuse later.

First you must create the EP.  This is the defensive line that intercepts the first presence of a threat.  All points of entry must be secured (roads, paths, trails, etc.) by establishing barriers & defensive fighting positions.  These positions must not be visible from a distance.  Avoid being out in the open on a road, instead be off to the side and within cover.  When possible, remove anything outside the position that can be used as offensive cover.  Do not make it easy for the possible threat!  

An additional question to consider for preparing a position or check point is what type of barrier do you want to use?  Such items as cars or farm machinery can be used to make movable barriers should you want to keep the ability for friendly vehicles to pass.  Another important detail is the need for designated areas for bathrooms and locations for rest and sleep.  If possible, a good idea is to build a shelter to protect you from the elements.  People’s motivation and enthusiasm can quickly disappear when they are made miserable by the elements.           

Once the positions are set up and all points of entry are secure, observation post (OP) is required if you have the manpower for it.  This position should preferably be in an elevated location and forward of the OP to spot threats before they get to the defended area.  Simply put, they are the early warning system.  3 people staffing the OP are the minimum requirement.  After 1 hour, it is difficult for the average person to stay 100% alert in an observation position.  You need a rotation established to keep one person watching, one resting, and one “at the ready.” 

Creating range cards is the next step to establish sectors of fire.  The last thing you want to do is be in a position where you might have to engage and risk casualties via friendly fire, range cards can prevent this tragedy.  In addition to factoring in the skill of your team members, you must consider the geography.  If you are in an urban area, there will be houses and neighboring communities outside your perimeter.  Knowing the range of your weapon is part of this as well.  For example, a bullet from a firearm as small as a .22 LR travels up to 1.5 miles.  A 5.56 mm NATO round exceeds 3,000 meters.  Keep these details in mind when planning your sector of fire. 

Outfit each OP and checkpoint with the following minimum list of items:

  • PPE (Personal Protection Equipment: body armor, eye protection, etc.)
  • Form of communication and signal between OP and residences inside the IP
  • Defensive Tools
  • Appropriate manpower
  • Retreat route to IP (Primary & Secondary)
  • Optics
  • Food, water; stimulants
  • Runner between posts (reduces the need for a guard to be absent)
  • Lights

Pulling guard duty is extremely tiring.  Maintaining focus for extended periods of time becomes difficult and eventually staying awake is challenging as well.  Remember, you will be under a great deal of stress, and stress will wear you out just as fast as physical activity.  Stimulants are a good to have on hand, but there are good and bad stimulants.  Coffee and other liquid diuretics should be avoided.  They quickly cause urination, and since you should not urinate inside your position, you will be forced to leave your position which allows you to be seen and heard by the enemy.  Possible alternatives are caffeine gum or pills, natural vitamins, or similar.  In the past, as a Ranger, I found a method that sounds a little extreme but works.  Take a can of long cut snuff, add a capful of whiskey, and let it sit for a few days.  Insert the tobacco in your mouth and while the residue is on your fingers, rub your eyes.  Trust me, it is as unpleasant as it sounds, but it’s nowhere near as bad as being the person that fell asleep while on guard duty.    An important detail to factor in is the “crash” that happens after the substance wears off.  Remember, the more powerful the stimulant, the greater the crash.

The next step is to plan your IP.  The purpose of the IP is to provide the last line of defense in case the EP collapses.  In the center of it are your supplies and non-combatants.  People that are classified as non-combatants are: children, elderly, and those that are physically unable to actively defend the lines.  If you are fortunate to have medics or doctors in your group, keep them there as well.  Why risk the few people who are medically trained on the front line? 

The previously mentioned list and other details also apply to the IP.  The IP however has no defensive fallback plan.   If the EP collapses, and all positions retreat to the IP, you are in serious trouble.  At this point there are then two choices:  retreat if possible, or, re-enact The Alamo. 

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
            Think of SOPs as your team’s play book.  SOP’s are living procedures and thus always evolve.  Some details will change over time and others will not.  It is important that everyone knows what the group SOPs are, and they should always be available for reference.  SOPs must thoroughly cover all operational aspects of your group, thus they require a great deal of time and thought to create.  Listed below is a simple starter list of topics:

    • Escalation of presence and force (amber, red, black)

At what point will it be decided that the neighborhood needs to get together?  Will you start by being low-profile and later have the appearance of a hard target?  How will the activation process be initiated?

    • Established combat load for guard force (for each threat level)

At the Amber level, do you want people to have assault style weapons slung over their shoulder?  At Red level, do you want people in tennis shoes with only a pistol in their waist band?

    • Dealing with noncombatants at checkpoints

How do you handle people that want to pass through?  What about people that want to enter?  What if they are people living in your neighborhood that do not want to take part in the defensive plan? 

    • Dealing with LEOs

What image do you want to give Law Enforcement Officers? (should they still be active) 

    • NEO Plan (Noncombatant Evacuation and Repatriation Operation)

If a retreat is something you see as being inevitable, how are you going to evacuate your children and elderly?  Where are they going?  What equipment and manpower will be needed for this?  At what point will this be needed before it is too late?

    • Roles and responsibilities

What roles will be needed in your plan?  What is expected of them?  Will people be cross trained with a certain level of standards for skill set?

    • ROE (rules of engagement)

At what level of force will you meet each threat?  Will it be able to be justified later in time?  Was it an equal level of force? 

    • Outline of leadership

This is needed!  Without it, there would be no organization within the group.  Who is in charge?  Who is next in command?  Who is in charge of the positions?  Who is in charge of the people within the IP? 

    • Dealing with prisoners and casualties

What will you do with people that might have to be detained?  Will they be treated humanely and have proper quarters to keep them?  What will you do with casualties (friendly and not friendly)?  What about their supplies?  What will done with their bodies? 

    • Escorts and convoys

If the situation dictates the need to lock an area down, but stores are still open with what few items they have left, how will personnel move their safely and back?  Will one small group go into the store while another guards the vehicles?  Will you take the same route back and forth?

    • Passwords and information security

Do you have a challenge and password made for the IP/OP?  What about a running password?  Are passwords put in code phrases or left with normal verbiage?

    • Situations Dictating Actions

At what point do you collapse the EP into the IP?  When will you start evacuation (if possible)? Under what conditions will a retreat be called?

Other Considerations
Another form of protection that is usually overlooked is CYA (cover your a**).  If all hell has broken loose, and you are forced to protect yourself and the people around you, you need to protect yourself for the possible future ahead.  What I mean is that when the environment stabilizes, you may be made to answer for your defensive actions.  What if you are accused of assaulting someone who walked up to your check point?  If lethal force was used, was it justified?  Can you remember the name of the officer who visited your EP?  These facts should all be documented in a logbook.  Any and every incident should be logged, no matter how large or small.  You want to be as descriptive as possible.  When you are writing this, imagine you are trying to tell a judge your side of the story, because you very well could be using this logbook to do just that!  Ensure dates, times, who was involved, what happened, what actions were taken, and how every means possible was used prior to any type of force are all recorded.  This should be written down as soon as possible while the information is still fresh in your mind.  Details are the key to an effective report.

Another serious consideration is that after you have the area secured, what happens to the families that live inside the established perimeter that do not want to be part of what’s going on?  Will you protect them should the need arise?  What if they have family members attempting to break into the perimeter?  Are you going to deny access?  These are very difficult questions to plan for and there is a fine line between doing the right thing and self-declaring martial law on your street. 

The last point to consider is not specifically related to the previous discussion.  It is about the image you present to others.  It is not just about the clothing you are wearing.  Nuances ranging from body language, physical approach towards someone, facial expressions, and your overall demeanor can greatly affect the tone of the interaction you have with other people.  You most likely will meet more people that are non-combatants then are threats.  Is the head-to-toe camouflage approach the one you want to give as a first impression?  By appearance alone, you made yourself a potential combatant to others.  What type of reaction do you think you will get from police if they see you in all the latest tactical gear with a military style rifle slung over your shoulder?  What about the mother with kids in hand that you encounter?  At this point in time, everyone will have at least some level of fear in them.  Anybody that says differently has never been in a threatening environment.  Why escalate the situation if not necessary?  There is a time and place for camouflage and other gear, but in most cases dressing in practical civilian clothing (like cargo pants and overly large shirt concealing items you might have on you), along with a friendly but cautious personality will be most effective.  Simply put, when it comes time to decide how you want to appear and act towards others, ask yourself how you would react if you came across someone who looked and acted just like “you?”  Personally, if I was approached by someone dressed like ninja, armed, and had an attitude…I will be reacting much differently than if they seemed approachable and wearing earth tone non-tactical clothing.


You need to think long and hard about the realistic possibility of accomplishing this objective.  Yes, in movies and books it seems easy to accomplish:  most of the time the “good guys” always win.  After reading this article you should realize that it is much more complex then it seems.

The amount of manpower, supplies, and equipment needed are extremely difficult to obtain for a long term defensive strategy.  To provide a real life example, while living in an unsecured area (Red Zone) in Iraq, we needed a guard force of over 100 men to protect a large house 24/7.  That sounds like a lot, but as mentioned previously, a position does not have a single person; a guard rotation is required.  In our case roughly 50 men per 12 hour shift were necessary for the EP and IP to view in all cardinal directions and to provide protection for the non-combatants. 

With that in mind, how many people will you need to guard a small section of your neighborhood?   Continuing with another personal example, I was part of a force that guarded an urban compound in Baghdad which covered a space roughly 1 by 2 city blocks.  To protect it in a high threat environment we needed 300 static guards (12.5 hour shifts 7 days a week), 9 Quick Response Teams (consisting of 6 men on each team), and enough gear, supplies, ammo, water, and food to sustain everybody.  This doesn’t even consider the resources and supplies needed to establish a secured perimeter.

Another factor that hinders the ability to guard a neighborhood is the group of people available.  You will probably find more people not interested than those that are interested.  The people you do find will be in various ages and physical shape, some might have military or police training, some will not.  It will probably be a “ragtag” group.  Many will like the idea of defending their territory, but will not or cannot plan or practice.  Chances are you will not be fortunate to find yourself living in a community of ex-commandos ready to take tackle this matter head on. 

In conclusion, the reality of defending a neighborhood is that it is not practical and is better left as a fantasy.  I’ve only touched on a very few factors to consider, and there are so many more factors working against you.  It will be nearly impossible for a group of citizens in various states of health, with little or no training, even if they are enthusiastic, to successfully defend a neighborhood.

Mr. Rawles,
My wife and I began prepping approximately two years, prepping for what exactly is still unknown. We first were concerned with the economy going South (and still are) and begun to stock up for this type of event, as well as work on our debt's. We quickly begun to realize that our path was not a straight one with no intersections, the deeper we got the more work we found was needed to compensate for a host of problems that could arise, and before we knew it, we were preparing for a multitude of scenarios. Each time you start to feel good about where you are the more you find you need to improve upon. I am not going to go deep into all aspects of what we have learned and prepped for, but instead  focus on one that we are realizing could be devastating our chances of survival if the cards got stacked against us.

We all know the human body needs allot of water and will soon perish without it, however, water for human consumption is not the focus of this article.
 My family lives in a suburban community close to cities, nuclear power plants, and we are very dependent on the public infrastructure. (We do know that this is not the ideal situation, but for the time being we are not comfortable with moving to a more secluded, less populated area. It is on our minds every day, and until we are ready to make the jump we are preparing to hunker down and make the best with what we have.) Back to the topic. This summer has been very hot so far in the United States, wild fires and droughts are in the news daily. Here we have not had more than few passing sprinkles of rain in over five weeks and the daily temperature for at least 15 days was over 90 and a few days topping a hundred.

Imagine this scenario for a moment. The grid goes down for an extended period of time for whatever reason, the public water supply screeches to a halt, home wells do not pump without electricity. You have made reasonable preparations to sustain you and your family and neighbors through a bad period but forgot to factor in summer heat and droughts and the effect they will have on your gardens, orchards, and livestock.
 You are probably not in a position where your garden and animals are your only source of food but someday it could be, and the survival of your family could depend on your ability to manage the situation and do

In the United States at the moment our corn crop is on the verge of collapse for 2012 due to severe droughts, other crops are also in peril but the corn is what I have been hearing the most coverage on. This is going to have major impacts on the cost of food, fuel, and any products that use some form of processed corn in production.
This is what inspired me to write this article, lately I have been watering my vegetable garden and other plants and trees from my carbon filtered outside hydrants, (carbon filters to reduce the chlorine content of the municipal water supply.) My reserves of water to do this job is depleted and now I am paying for my water to keep things alive and productive. Heavy mulching is a big help in the garden. But what if I did not have this abundant water source?

Unless you have a creek, spring, or other water source close by, what do you do? You certainly do not want to tap into your stored drinking water supply unless you have thousands of gallons at your disposal. Without reliable water your garden can quickly become a new compost pile and all you can do is hope for a better season next year, if you can make it until next year!
 We have 220 gallons of rain water that we collect from the roof to water the garden vegetables and herbs. This has been quickly depleted recently and we have not had any rain to refill the barrels.
I collect gray water for the fruit trees and other perennial plants we have on our small  suburban lot, but without running tap water this is not going to be in any great quantity because if you are using your stored emergency water you will be in serious conservation mode.

If you or a neighbor have a shallow well as well as the necessary tools and equipment on hand to convert to a manual pumping well this would be a great option. I have neighbors on wells, however, they exceed 200 plus feet deep. A more expensive option is to purchase a generator and store sufficient fuel to power the well, most pumps are 240 volts and can be over one horsepower so size the generator accordingly. Do not get caught up with the desire to power every electrical appliance that your heart desires, this would quickly deplete your fuel reserves. I have a friend who converted his Honda 6500 watt generator to multi fuel, he can burn gasoline, propane or natural gas. He has stored 500 gallons of propane as well as a few cans of gasoline. In a long term emergency, (you generally will not know if it is truly long term until it has been a long time down) you could use the generator just to power your well to get your water containers refilled and maybe recharge some battery powered devices, get a job done using power tools, etc.  Conservation is very important.
Most people have a tank type water heater that could be drained for use as well as the tanks on the back of toilets, however, this should be deemed potable in most cases and used for human consumption. (Do not use toilet tank water for human or pet drinking water if you use bleach tablets or other cleaning agents in your tank.)

Do not forget the water that is in nearly all canned goods, this is potable but if you have your drinking water covered well you could salvage this small amount to use in other areas. Every little bit helps here.
We have a creek about a quarter mile away as a crow flies and this would certainly be an option if I could get a vehicle there and have a way of getting the water into a container on my vehicle and safely get it back to my property.

A few people in the area have swimming pools, however I would not recommend going onto private  property in a crisis as this may lead to confrontation. This is an area that you should address before it becomes necessary. Maybe this neighbor has a large garden or animals also and has not thought through this scenario. You could educate them as well as secure some bonus water in the process.

If you have the space, you could build a fish pond into your landscaping, maybe you are not ready to raise tilapia fish or another breed to eat, you could just have a few goldfish swimming around in your new tactical water reserve disguised as a simple "keeping up with the Jones's" addition to your yard. Who knows maybe you will become Jones and the neighbors will build ponds to keep up with you and without knowing it they will be serving the needs of you and other neighbors.

I have not found a good option yet to remedy this situation except to store as much water as I possibly can safely. I have no basement or garage, so space is an issue to contend with. I do currently have a few 55 gallon barrels that I store outside, and keep treated and rotated. Winter time I drain them down by a third and have not yet had a barrel failure. Underground storage is an option, but you need to have a way to get the water out of the tank when you want it. Have a manual backup pumping method available, and a backup to your backup.

In the early stage of a crisis, short or long term, you hopefully have time to react even if only a little bit. Fill any container with water before you lose service. Bathtubs, sinks, buckets, washing machine, milk jugs,
Tupperware, barrels, wheel barrel, fill the fresh and gray water tanks in your camper,  line your truck bed with a good heavy water tight tarp and fill it full.

Do what you can to make life easier, even if it is short lived. Anything to help you transition to the new reality.

This article is intended to be an eye opener to make you think more than a how to guide, as I have no good long term solution at the moment, and I am sure I am not alone in this area. Like most people these days, I was raised in a family who did annual small garden farming more as a hobby than anything else and was reliant on the infrastructure to supply us with life's most basic needs.

My wife and I  have started from scratch and are  trying to learn the ways of the past and teach it to our children so we do not have to be dependent on anyone but ourselves, in today's world that may not ever be possible but we can try.   <

I have read plenty of entries on your site about people using concrete block ("cinder block") for square foot gardening and raised bed gardening.  I didn't know how to post this so, I thought I would just email you this information.
I have been in the Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) (Concrete Block) industry for almost 11 years.  I started as a yard hand and have recently worked my way up to Plant Manager and Site Safety Manager (two hats due to downsizing and the economy).  I see many people write about using these CMUs or cinder blocks to build raised beds and also to plant directly inside the cells of this block.  I am offering a warning of the possibility of poisons in this product and stressing that I would never grow my food in it.  The product Fly Ash is used as a Portland Cement replacement for up to 30% of the cement used to manufacture these products.  For those of you unaware, Fly Ash is a by product of burning coal.  The EPA is and has for the last year been doing a study to decide whether or not to label Fly Ash as a Hazardous Waste due to the high levels of mercury, arsenic, and lead; leaving some "Industry Folk" to refer to concrete as the "New Asbestos" or the "New Lead Paint".  Though there is no definite date set for a decision the ball has started rolling.  The EPA knows this product is unhealthy, I know this product is unhealthy (and wouldn't dare chance putting it into my children's mouth), and now you can make an informed decision on how you feel about it.  Just google "Is Fly Ash Toxic" and you will see all the information available on this material allowing you to make an informed decision of your own.  With all the trials and tribulations we face I would hate to know that I was poisoning myself with the very food I prepped to save me.
Blessings, - J.D. in Texas

Game Over. The Score:
Bad Guys With Masks and Guns: 0
Old Guy with Pocket Pistol and Guts: 2
Read a description and see video clips: Charges unlikely against man who shot robbers

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OSOM recommended a great primer on tri-fuel conversion of small generators: Don’t Depend on Just Gas…

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An emigrant who grew up in East Berlin asks: America, Where Art Thou? (Thanks to J. McC. for the link.)

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F.J. liked this Do-It-Yourself project: Replace a Kitchen Cabinet Drawer with a Produce Storage Drawer

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A North Carolina television station wraps up the Charlotte Prepcon: Survivalist convention prepares public for emergency situations. BTW, after the great success of the first convention, another one is scheduled for September 8th. They've asked me to do another hour-long teleseminar.

"When the chips are down, however, survival involves something more than run-of-the-mill ingenuity. Something extra is called for, an extra degree of imagination and a concern that seems groundless at the time, the ability in the midst of abundance to prepare for famine." - by John E. Pfeiffer, The Creative Explosion: An Inquiry into the Origins of Art and Religion

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Many Americans have never experienced the death of someone close to them, and our current system of dealing with death makes sure that family and loved ones have as little contact as possible with the dead, and often very little with the dying.  Our culture reacts to the topic of death much like the Victorians reacted to the topic of sex.  We avoid even using the word “died” or “dead”, preferring euphemisms such as “passed”.   With the more widely spread use of hospice and palliative care teams, families are learning that helping their loved ones through the dying process can be a rich and healing time.  However, the dying process is still rather reminiscent of childbirth 30-40 years ago, when fathers and other family members were shut out, and the mothers in labor were left to labor alone and in pain, or drugged.  Too often the dying find themselves in similar situations, isolated from family and away from home.

Contrast the process of dying in our not so distant past, and in current non-westernized cultures, with that of many American families today.   In the past, the family would be responsible for caring for their loved one through the dying process, preparing the body for burial, sitting in vigil with the body as everyone told stories and remembered the person, and finally committing the body to the ground with prayer and other important rituals.   Now, often due to anxiety about the whole process, the family often chooses to have the person die in the hospital, be whisked away by funeral home personnel to be attended to.  Cremation avoids the uncomfortable issue of being in the presence of a dead body, and if cremation isn’t done, the body certainly must not be seen as that might be too “creepy”.

Those readers who saw the movie Places in the Heart may remember Sally Field’s character tenderly washing and preparing the body of her husband for burial.  Indeed, this was the norm not so long ago and continues to be the norm in non-westernized cultures, where caring for the dying and the dead is a way for the family to perform the final actions of kindness and respect for their loved ones.

What happens when it all comes down and we must, of necessity, figure out what to do with the dying and the dead?  In the past, there was a process which was taught elder to younger.  Now we are cut off from that wisdom and must sort out how to manage a painful and devastating situation.  We must learn again about the dying process, how to help our loved ones and ourselves through this final transition, and what to do afterward.  Caveat- none of this is offered as medical advice, and trained medical persons should be consulted when they are available.

Preparing to care for the dying:

As hard and sad as the topic of dying is, we must prepare for managing these situations in a collapse situation, and help our loved ones, and ourselves through.   There may be no option to simply call the doctor, funeral home, our pastor or priest, or the ambulance.  Preparing emotionally and spiritually is the vital first step.  Then, we can make the practical preparations.  You’ll want to assemble a comfort in dying kit, much as you would assemble a childbirth or first aid kit.  Here are some steps:

    1. If possible, collect medications ahead to assist with pain and anxiety such as liquid morphine and ativan, and learn how to use them safely.
    2. Constipation can increase pain and overall discomfort. Make sure you have laxatives, stool softeners and enema supplies.
    3. Adult diapers or continence supplies can be comforting to both the dying person and caretakers.
    4. Lotions for skin dryness, and lip balms
    5. Small mouth sponges for comfort during dehydration
    6. Include pads for beds such as Chux
    7. Sometimes in the dying process the body’s ability to clot blood is impaired, leading to bleeding through the mouth, nose, rectum and skin.  This can be very distressing to both patient and caretakers.  Having dark colored sheets and towels set aside in your kit can help.
    8. Nitrile gloves, N95 masks and eye protection in the event that the illness is contagious.


Preparing to care for the caretaker

Walking with someone through the dying process, as hard as it is, can also be a powerful, deep, and rewarding experience.  It is truly a privilege to help someone through the passage of death and into their new lives, free from their weary physical bodies.   Grief can be like a tsunami, running us over and we feel as though we will drown in our sorrows.  Helping someone we love in practical ways, praying with them, and holding their hands gives us strength as well.  How do we try to get ready for this experience and get through it?

  1. Grow strong in your faith.  Pray, read scripture, recall God’s promises
  2. Take breaks. You cannot help someone else over the long haul if you exhaust yourself.  Arrange for practical care in shifts.
  3. Don’t forget to eat
  4. If you can’t sleep, try to rest
  5. Share your own sorrow with others and reach out for help
  6. Gather your own resources in terms of Bibles, prayer books, and other things which comfort you.
  7. Don’t keep children away, but do explain to them what is happening at a level of their understanding.  Children are comforted by being included and made useful, such as fetching things.  Children become anxious when they are not told anything and often their worries about what is going on are worse than the truth. 


What Happens in the Dying Process and How to Support the Dying

A very wise teacher once told me that the dying need two things, comfort and company.  They also need honesty.  It will become obvious to them and to you that they will die from their illness or injury.  Pretending is easier, but it also denies them the dignity of acknowledging their time is short.  It keeps the dying from being able to talk about their own fears, make their own plans, talk openly with their loved ones, and reconcile with God and old enemies.  Follow their lead as they come to their own recognition of mortality, but try to be brave and allow the hard conversations to happen.

In the natural process of dying by illness or disease, there are some consistent signs and symptoms which can be recognized.  To use a natural pregnancy as our example, the mother and her doctor or midwife may be aware that labor is going to start soon even if they don’t know exactly when.  They may note symptoms such as increased Braxton Hicks contractions, an extra burst of energy, loss of the cervical mucus plug, change in the position of the baby etc.  Likewise, there are signs and symptoms that someone is in the process of dying, even if it’s not known exactly how long that will take or how soon it will happen. 

Early Stage Changes and Symptoms

Decreased appetite or no appetite.  This is the body’s way of gradually shutting down systems.  In certain cancers, blockages of the stomach or intestines can cause pain and discomfort during eating and avoiding intake helps with comfort.
What to Do
Don’t force food, but allow the person to choose their own intake
Experiment with textures, sometimes liquid or very soft food is more easily tolerated

Even if the person refuses food and water, they may welcome a small sponge soaked in water to moisten their mouth and a balm to keep lips from becoming uncomfortably dry.

Increased fatigue and weakness and increased in sleeping.  Some of this may be connected with decreasing intake, but some may be related to decreasing oxygenation and failing organ systems.
What to Do
Allow the person to rest and sleep as they need to. Don’t attempt to wake them up or stimulate them to stay awake.

Assume the person can still hear you, even if they appear to be sleeping.  Speak gently and softly to let them know you are there and what you are doing e.g. changing bed linens.

Withdrawal from others and from usual activities and interests.  It is normal for the dying to begin a process of being more internally focused.  This does not mean they don’t care for you or necessarily want you to go away.
What To Do
Follow the lead of the person in determining whom they want to have around.

Decrease the stimulation in the room e.g. keep the noise down and avoid too many persons in the room at once.

Loss of bowel and bladder control.  As the muscles begin to loosen and relax, a person may not be able to avoid accidents.  The decreased appetite experienced by many may decrease bowel and urine output. 

What To Do
Keep the person as comfortable as possible, changing out soiled or wet garments and bedding.

A pad under the person may keep the bedding cleaner.

Try to take a matter-of-fact attitude with the person, who may be embarrassed or feel humiliated by this loss of function and independence.

Itching.  This may happen as a result of kidney failure, or with dehydration

What To Do
Lotions may relieve itching briefly
Benadryl may offer some relief.

Increased pain.  As some disease processes progress, pain will increase at the same time as the person’s capacity to manage may decrease.

What To Do
You’ll want to try to anticipate ways to help with pain ahead of time by stockpiling medications if possible.

Explore methods such as gentle massage, warm and cold compresses, and position changes.


Late Stage Changes and Symptoms

Mental confusion.  This may be related to decreased oxygenation of the brain, or to changes in the brain itself e.g. with metastases of cancers to the brain.  Fevers with infections may lead to delirium and hallucinations.  People who are confined to one room may become confused when they lose track of routines to mark times/days.  This symptom, known as “sundowning” can become worse in the evening.

What To Do

Keep the shades or curtains open so that the person can tell if it is day or night.  This helps keep them oriented.

Gently orient the person when you enter the room, telling them who you are and where they are.

Some may talk of seeing and hearing long departed loved ones, or angels, or may see things you aren’t able to see.  Don’t try to argue with them or convince them they’re wrong.  Simply listen.

Even if they seem asleep, assume they can hear you.  They may enjoy hearing scripture read or passages from favorite books..  Pray with them.

If the person becomes agitated, don’t restrain them or try to reason with them.  Simply continue to quietly and gently respond with reassurance.

Towards the end of the dying process, some individuals seem to have a burst of clarity, become brighter and engaged with others, are able to say goodbyes.  This period may last a short time or for a day or two.

Swelling of extremities such as feet and ankles.  This may be caused by the kidneys failing or lack of circulation.  There is little to do and this is generally not uncomfortable.

Labored breathing and gurgling sounds during breathing. Breathing may become very fast or shallow.  Breathing may stop for a few seconds to minutes, only to have the person suddenly take a large gasping breath. This may be very distressing to others but usually does not mean that the person is in distress or is uncomfortable.

What to Do
Allow secretions to come out of the mouth, wiping them gently.

Suctioning secretions (assuming this would be available) can sometimes increase the secretions and isn’t recommended.

Coolness in fingers and toes, mottled bluish coloration.  This means the circulatory and respiratory systems are shutting down.

How Do You Know When A Person Has Died:

  1. No breath or pulse able to be detected
  2. Pupils dilated
  3. Jaw may be relaxed and mouth slightly open
  4. Bowel and bladder release
  5. Skin is cool to the touch and pale to bluish in color.


Before burial (if this is possible for you in a TEOTWAWKI situation), wash and dress or wrap the body.  Coffins will be a luxury in many situations but bodies may be buried without one.  The public health implications of where you locate your cemetery is a whole other article, but obviously beware of contaminating water sources and bury the dead deep enough to discourage animals from digging.

May God give us the strength to manage these hard and sad tasks with His grace and love. 

An introduction of personal circumstances always seems necessary, so I’ll get that out of the way first.  My husband and I, along with our three children, moved from a moderate sized Texas town of 200,000 to a small spread out community of about 1.500.  That population of 1,500 lives in an area of about 40 square miles.  Our location, of which Mr. Rawles would not approve, is hot and dry. We are learning new ways in all areas of our lives to make this living situation work.  We and our 3 teen-aged children love our community and the new freedom that we have found here.

My husband is a man of many, many skills. A natural problem solver, he can look at most situations and fabricate some kind of solution.  Whether it is plumbing, construction, economics or world politics, he sees the situation in mechanical terms. While he can find or fabricate solutions for most construction, plumbing and solar converter problems, he can’t fix the problems that we see in the political and economic world.  So we do the next best thing.  We prepare.

I, on the other hand, am not particularly mechanically inclined.  Until I married my husband, I was a city apartment dweller with my mother and my brother.  If there was a problem, we called the apartment manager.  I’ve also always known the convenience of the city. Until this last move, I’ve never lived in a city or town without a university.  I’ve never lived without the convenience of grocery shopping at a moment’s notice. Until I met my husband, I did not garden and I’m still not that good at it.  Based on my mother’s experiences, canning was to be avoided at all costs.  Growing up, my mom and I were not in the category of the worst consumers, but we did consume our share of convenience. Compared to our friends at the time, we were down-right frugal.  Compared to what I know now, we had a long way to go before we could be called frugal.   Of all the things that I have “given up” to live where we live, convenience is what I miss most.  But, I’m not willing to move back to a town or city of any size to regain “convenience”.  My husband and I are blessed that we are of one mind about the need to prepare. We don’t take that blessing for granted, either. GOD put us in this new community for a reason and we will be here until He moves us.

While I miss conveniences like “in the mood” grocery shopping, the consistent, orderly removal of trash is a mark of civilized life that I miss very much.  Now, I realize that much of rural America still burns trash. Many have sloughs, or ditches that need filling and are filled with trash that cannot be burned, but I’ve never had any experience with this.  I’ve never separated my trash except for a few forays into recycling.   Before my husband and I moved to our current home, I could clean out the refrigerator, pick up around the yard, put the usual refuse of daily life into the trash and it was gone.  I could, twice a year like clockwork, clean out my children’s closets and make piles. One pile was trash and one was given to an organization such as Goodwill and another might be given to friends.  But wherever it went, it was out of my house and out of my life with immediacy that I never gave much thought.  And yes, we did recycle to a degree.  For whatever reason, our former town seemed to make recycling harder, not easier, so I did some, but not as much as I could have.
We arrived in our new community in December of 2010. We brought a burn barrel with us and we burned our trash and recycled what we could locally for about 3 months.  We were living in a 34 foot long trailer at the time, and we had no running water, so we used paper plates and picnic type utensils and cups.  We used a lot of water bottles. By March, our area had been a full year and a half without any measurable rain and some areas were suffering from fires, so our county instituted a burn ban.  If you are familiar with burn bans, you know that sometimes they don’t include every type of possible fire. Sometimes it is a charcoal fire burn ban, or just fireworks, or no open-pit burning. This burn ban was all inclusive. It included welding and any type of fire whether it was grilling on a gas grill or burning trash in a barrel.  So now what??  At first, I was pretty naïve about what a problem trash can be. We had no idea how long we’d be in the ban, so we started with Band-Aid solutions.  My husband used the Kubota tractor to dig/push dirt and rock into a berm and we piled our bags up against that berm. By this time, we were dry camping in our shipping container house.  Let me tell you, trash really piles up for 5 people in this situation. We had limited water by now, none running in the house, but hoses from a well outside.  I moved us away from disposable plates, etc. to dishware and cutlery as soon as I could, but we still made a lot of trash.  We quickly outgrew the berm idea and when we found our first rattlesnake with a mouse bulge, we knew that we needed a better solution.  We built an enclosure out of t-posts, cattle panel and plywood for the top and moved the trash pile.  What this gave us was an enclosure to contain the trash so that it wouldn’t spread out.  We could throw the bags in at the top and not get too close to the pile.  That was a year and half ago and I still have remnants of that pile that need to be burned.  At its largest, the current trash pit was 8 x 8 x 5.  It still has that basic outline, but it is no longer bulging at the seams. 

Another problem that we encountered in our situation was recycling.  In our area of the country, we have about 8 months of glorious weather. We can be hot during the day, but the nights cool down significantly.  We have 4 months during the summer when the heat is constant and a real challenge.   So most people live here during the 8 winter months and leave for the 4 summer months.  We don’t have many of our services, like recycling, during the summer.  And if we store recyclables during the summer and hit the recycling trailer with it when it reopens in the fall, it is too much for them to handle all at once.  Our closest town is 80 miles away and they have recycling services.  We do bag our recyclables, which at the moment, is mostly aluminum cans and metal food cans.  We have bags of them, but in order to get them to town, we’d have to take the diesel pickup rather than the more fuel efficient sedan.  So we haven’t done this yet. But, at some point, we’ll have to.  It isn’t a good solution to the problem, but we’ll do what we have to do.

A third problem that I have found is finding a home for things that I no longer use or things that no longer work and are not considered trash.   What do you do with the laptop power cord that will no longer charge the computer?  What do you do with the items that you thought would be useful in your new home, but are not? Thrift stores: We have a couple, but they really are overrun with stuff.  They consistently ask residents not to drop off any more things until they can clear out merchandise.  Garage Sale/Flea Market: also an option, but most people are looking to get rid of stuff, not buy it.  Also the organized flea market is only available in the winter months. Free cycle: Our nearest town is 80 miles away and most people won’t drive this far to get it, but it could happen.  Recycle/Re-purpose: seeing an item’s potential outside of its normal use is not one of my gifts. I rarely think outside of the box, so this is a skill that I need to develop and if you have stuff like I do, you need to develop it too.  Store items for Barter: Yes, but storage is a very big issue. We downsized our home considerably and I gave away about 2/3 of what we owned before we made the move.  But what I didn’t count on was how much room prep stores and food stores actually take.  We had only just gotten started with our preparations before we decided to move.  So before I store something that someone else may need someday, I’d like to get my own stuff organized and stored properly.  Beyond re-purposing and storing for barter, the only solution that I can think of for items like this is to bury them.  The solution before burying it is not to buy it in the first place.  I wish I’d seen that one coming.

The initial strict burn ban lasted a full year and we are still under a partial burn ban that prohibits some types of trash burning.  At the moment, we can burn trash in a barrel if it is enclosed. We put our burn barrel in our first outdoor shower that we had constructed out of cut-out shipping container walls.  In our small community, one business built a metal structure out of roofing tin.  On the roof he installed two whirligigs for exhaust.  We don’t know what he used for air intakes, but it couldn’t be that hard to figure out.  We are saving that idea for future use.  Anyway, with our small enclosure and our burn barrel, we can burn our current trash and we are making some in-roads into the stored trash. 

As I read survival articles and literature, I don’t find much space given to the disposal of trash.  I’ve shared our experiences, now I’d like to share some insights.  Not so much solutions because there is only one solution that I see.  I’d rather let you see some of the issues and then tailor your own solutions.  As I’ve hinted above, the three options for dealing with trash are: burn it, bury it, or recycle/re-purpose it.  But, the ultimate solution to the trash problem for those of us who prepare for more desperate times is to plan for it.   In a grid down or TEOTWAWKI situation where security is paramount, what are you going to do with your trash?  Just so we are clear, I am not talking about a natural disaster where you can see that normal services will resume sometime in the future.  I am talking about a grid down situation where you are completely on your own.  In this situation, your decisions might need to include OPSEC, medical concerns, hygiene, and environmental pollution.  Critter control, future sewage needs, and the logistics of being out and about around your retreat need to be addressed.  In order to plan for this, you’ve got to look at what preparations you’ve got in place.  You need to look at your location.  What food/pantry store do you have in place?  What are your security needs?  What are your sewage plans?  Identify your biggest trash challenge.   Is it diapers or paper plates?  Is it tin cans or plastic water bottles?  You can deal with it as long as you’ve identified the challenge and the solution ahead of time and then planned for it.

I think most people consider burning trash to be the best alternative in most situations.  So does your location support that decision?  Do you live in a rural area? I can imagine scenarios where you could burn trash in a city, but that means things are pretty bad.  In a rural area, you may not want anyone to know that you are still in place.  Smoke can be dealt with to a degree, but you’d be hard pressed to burn trash on a regular basis and cover up the smoke smell.  As for environmental concerns, there are not that many.  You just don’t want to burn toxic stuff that will foul your air.  For example, we have blue foam boards that we’ve used in construction.  I don’t burn these.  I believe we do need to make some accommodation for the environment.  We won’t have the EPA breathing down our necks, but we should take care of the land and air that will take care of us.  Some things don’t burn.  You will have to deal with ashes and charred debris.  Have you got somewhere to dispose of that?  You can’t burn aerosol cans or batteries, so you will have to have some alternative plans for them. 

You can bury your trash. We live in an area where the landscape will not recover from this type of intrusion.  You’d see our pit, the tracks from the Kubota tractor, our car tire tracks, whatever, for 100 years.  That is more of an environmental impact than we’d like to make right now and it isn’t very secure, but it remains an option for us long term.   For one thing, we have enough land to do it and we have earth moving equipment. I’ve read articles that recommend you have shovels or hand tools to bury your trash. I’m telling you, from experience, a shovel will not be much help long term when confronted with mounds of bagged trash.  You are going to be digging a very large hole.  If you have the equipment to dig a large hole, do you have the parts and experience to maintain and repair the equipment? You may have ditches or sloughs that run through your property.  If you dump your trash in these and then plant native grasses in and around the refuse, this could help with erosion problems.  My in-laws do this and have corrected some erosion issues on their farm land.  But, my mother-in-law is very diligent about moving grass clumps into the dump area.  Again, this is not an option for us, but you need to evaluate your own landscape.  You also have to consider the environmental impact of burying as well.  Again, we may not need to be as obsessive as the EPA has become, but we don’t want our rivers to burn either.  Consider rain runoff before you choose a spot to dig.  Consider where your well is located; consider winds, critters and future land use before you dig.

You can recycle your trash. I’m not talking about municipal recycling programs because in this scenario, there would be no municipal recycling programs. I’m talking about home-grown, common sense recycling. What can I do with the water bottles or water jugs that I’ve stored and that are now empty?  What can I do with all of the #10 cans as they are used? I’ve seen a chicken shed roof that was “shingled” with tin can lids and the walls reinforced with flattened cans.  Walls can be built with cans and filled with dirt; bottles cans be used for windows, etc., but that is only if you still need structures around your retreat.  Some items from your pantry might be done away with entirely. I found a washable “paper” towel pattern online, and let’s face it ladies, washable pads from Naturally Cozy just makes sense, doesn’t it?  While there are few op/sec or medical/hygiene issues with recycling, there are logistical issues.  Where are you going to store used items like used tin food cans or the #10 cans that we all love so much? Have you got storage for used items?  There comes a point where you just cannot use another #10 can to store nuts/bolts/thread/yarn/seed packs/ etc.  Then what?  Think about diversifying your food and pantry storage as you rotate.  I used some of my dehydrated vegetables to make soup mixes. I repackaged them in Mylar bags which store flat and can be reused until they are too small and at that point, they aren’t much trash.  I also put some mixes into gallon glass jars.  I don’t recommend this if you are not rotating your storage.  There are literally thousands of recycle ideas on the internet. You just have to look for them.  Look at your storage, see what you have the most of and then go hunt up some ideas.  Plan ahead for what you’ll need and what may be used as barter (think glass jars—you cannot have too many!)

There is no one size fits all solution to trash in a grid down TEOTWAWKI scenario except to plan, plan, and plan.  There are as many solutions to the trash problem as there are retreat solutions. Don’t put this off, however.  You may visit your retreat often. You may practice bugging out.  But, if after the weekend is over, you haul your trash to the Dumpster in town, or burn it at your retreat without thought or worry, then you haven’t done all of your homework.  Trash will be a big problem for you if you don’t plan for its disposal ahead of time.  For most of us, trash disposal is one of those things that we regularly take for granted.  Don’t.

Good Morning James,
The recent coronal mass ejection (CME) began interacting with the terrestrial magnetosphere earlier today. Though initially that interaction was rather subdued a rapid fall-off in the proton particle counters is actually leading to some rather elevated readings over at the Rice.edu monitor site. Polar convection, density and velocity are all registering in the yellow band, while the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) magnitude, angle and the dynamic pressure are all passed up into the red zones. It is worth remembering that a CME consists of hot, charged particles (ionized hydrogen primarily) and as such the situation is similar to the current in the wall of your house when a light switch is flipped on. At the fundament then a "current" of hot gas passing around the earth interacting with the geomagnetic field of same is virtually identical to an electric motor though the geometry seems different. It is the case that the total effect perpetrated on us, on the planet, by the passing of the electrically conductive cloud of hot gas and further, that gas's interaction with the geomagnetic field is an inductive phenomena.

It is easy to forget that when talking about induction we're not talking about relative magnitudes of the flow of the gas but instead the instantaneous rate-of-change of that flow as being central to the effects we here witness. Most especially the preceding applies when focusing on the magnetic aspects. To be sure, the incoming stream interacts with, and in part, is trapped by the Earth's magnetic field, altering it's velocity and transferring momentum as it does so to form the Van Allen belts above or heads, but it is the resulting magnetic fluctuations induced throughout that drive the actual changes in "earth currents" that were so ferocious during the Carrington Event.

If an X-20 erupted on the face of the Solar disk, even very near to the center thereof, the total effect upon us here some few minutes later (light-travel time scale) would be negligible though the subsequent arrival of the mass of ejected gas would be have frightening effects on our civilization.

If, on the other hand, an extremely high magnitude flare occurred - virtually anywhere on the face of the visible disk - say, an X-40 or greater - then a resulting EMP (like the detonation of a 20 megaton thermonuclear device high in the stratosphere) would likely have near-instantaneous effects on the distribution grid on the sun-facing side of the planet. It might well be the case that the installed safety subsystems at most generating facilities would act in time to prevent a catastrophic, effectively incinerating, effect on the facilities themselves, but it is a near certainty that the Very High Voltage transformers which upconvert energy from the generating facilities to voltages making long-distance transmission of electrical energy practical would be summarily annihilated. The problem that would arise in this circumstance is that there are now only two manufacturing
concerns left operating globally at present that manufacture these extraordinary pieces of machinery and the minimum lag-time from order to delivery is two years (presuming that all of the requisite materials are already on hand without supply chain interruptions and that they themselves have ample electricity available to them for the manufacturing itself). Simply losing the grids over one hemisphere would be bad, but losing them globally would be an incalculable catastrophe. Consider that if there is no way available to transmit electricity long distance point-to-point then how would we be able to remanufacture replacements for these units?

Leaving aside the fact that the effects would be the worst in the developed world, resulting in "flash" starvation of hundreds of millions of people - if not billions - as our wondrously efficient, woefully interconnected and critically dependent supply chains vanished like smoke in the wind, how could this happen then?

It could happen as the consequence of a large magnitude X-Flare followed by a subsequent - and necessarily, geoeffective - high magnitude CME. When the mass began interacting with the terrestrial magnetosphere enormous ground currents would be induced by the action of the hot sea of gas flowing around the planet. Also, as a consequence, large voltage potentials would be induced in the ground plane - to which every electrical device on Earth is directly connected. It would not be enough to simply throw the breakers in your fuse panel to isolate your house, business and so forth from Earth voltages and grid fluctuations. Fluctuations on the ground plane itself could/would easily destroy whatever yet remained attached. Disconnecting the ground strap from your your panel(s) to the ground plane would be equally necessary until the large scale fluctuations subsided beyond the event. The actual events involved in this would come upon us rather stealthily. As the ground currents surged there would be no blinding, instantaneous grid-wide failure, no. Instead, the currents through the ground plane traveling into the transformers would slowly, steadily heat the cores in their oil baths until the frail windings began to boil their insulating coatings off at which point massive shorting would occur. Given that the Earth itself is non-homogeneous in it's make-up, it is also the case that the pattern of failure would be equally heterogeneous. Specifically, places like the eastern seaboard, especially, Eastern Canada would see the first failures (Canadian Electric companies have installed strip-mall sized buffers after the 1989 loss to Solar activity and are now relatively safe) due to the hard-rock underlying the region, the Laurentian Shield. But as one failure occurred there would be another, and another, ad infinitum as a cascade of failures shifted further of the burden to the remaining operational grid. The logical conclusion of this process would be the destruction of virtually every High voltage unit globally inasmuch as unlike a Solar EMP which would effect the "day side" only (approx.) the ground currents in the CME case would be global in character.

An enormous "buzz" has developed over the last few years relative to "EMP" events of Solar or instrumental origin but in the case of solar this particular effect would be limited except as noted above. Thankfully, we have a vast distance between us and our warm, somewhat tempestuous neighbor and it is this distance that along with the atmosphere and magnetic field in which life here is mainly cocooned that preserves us. The initial open-air testing of the hydrogen bomb in the 1950s early 1960s in the South Pacific is of course when first we became aware of the effects that an EMP pulse might have upon us. I have read a report - somewhere, it escapes me at the moment - that during one of the tests, in which one of the larger devices was detonated, that parts, if not all, of the island of Hawaii lost power, had equipment failures virtually simultaneously as the weapon was detonated. It is for this reason that I call "bull" on those harping on the possibility of a middle eastern agency deploying an "atom" bomb over the US to destructive effect. Hear me out.

Fission bombs have an upper limit beyond which - no matter how much more fissile material is added - simply doesn't produce any further corresponding yield. Our scientists ran into this problem rather early on during America's primal nuclear efforts, this led to the development of the H bomb, [fusion] thermonuclear weapons as it were. H-bombs don't really have an effective upper limit as to the amount of yield which can be obtained...just build a bigger bomb. However, there is a catch: H bombs are really, really difficult to engineer. Without going into detail, suffice it to say that the geometry of the device and the timing of the explosives necessary to coax a fusion reaction out of ordinary, cold matter are formidable--extremely so. The largest thermonuclear device ever tested was the infamous "Czar Bomba", the "King of Bombs" detonated by the Soviet Union circa 1960, which was designed to produce a yield of 100+ megatons TNT equivalent, but was actually only tested with two of it's four cores in place for a nominal yield of 52 megatons. For any who need more about this just traipse over to YouTube and search for "Czar Bomba", great footage BTW. But I digress, the probability that someone other than a major nation-state could develop atom bombs is crazy-high, it is only necessary to laboriously render out enough fissile material from uranium and then slap it together. But the converse is equally and inversely true for thermonuclear devices for the reasons lined out above.

As an aside, while I've been typing this, the polar convection graph over at stanford.edu has shot right up, as has the graph for interplanetary magnetic field. The figure being shown for the convection is nearly off the graph as it is currently scaled. It's about 02:30 CST [Sunday, July 15, 2012] and as I look now the Polar convection is actually above the numbered range on the graph, like when your going faster than your speedometer can show you, the IMF being 'way up there too. I expect that there might be some unhappy northern latitude utility company executives in the morning, the polar convection figure is still getting worse. If I read it right, pushing 280 Kv or more, been up there for quite a while now.

As always, May the Lord Bless and Keep us, His Children, everyone. - J.E.B. in Missouri

As a formerly disabled person I would like to share some ideas to help make survival more likely or at least less treacherous:

 * Keep a heavy duty luggage cart for bug out bags. They are versatile and can be used for many other things like hauling water. Wheeled backpacks with roller blade wheels will not be as durable and versatile.

*  Adult tricycle bikes are quite stable can help many get around easier and quicker while carrying some supplies too. These can be used by others as well to carry water and heavier supplies.
*  Foot-care should be top priority. If you are caring for someone who is elderly or diabetic check there feet often and make sure to keep moleskin, extra soft socks and that they own a pair of quality sneakers that are comfortable.

*  Meal replacement shakes That have a minimum of 19 grams of protein per serving, contain a minimum 25% of RDA on Vitamins and minerals per serving. Higher calories are better and low in sugar. Ideally you want something that only needs to be mixed with water or you can also add powdered milk.

   These can be used by everyone but will be especially handy for the elderly & sick.

*  For those dealing with incontinence it will not always be practical to stock up on or carry the required amount of supplies needed but the following items can help:

        Male external catheters (available online)
        Female urination devices like GOGIRL
        Plastic moisture barrier underwear
        Reusable (washable) incontinence pads & briefs for both men & women       
        Gentle laxatives
        Baby wipes & washcloths

 *   USB memory stick containing medical records

 *  10 parameter reagent test strips- an easy urine strip test that tests glucose, bilirubin, ketone, specific gravity, blood, pH, protein, urobilinogen nitrite, and leukocytes. They are inexpensive--only about $13 for 100  test strips and should be included in everyone's emergency kits.

*  Back pain- Mueller adjustable lumbar back brace, Biofreeze or Salonpas, extra Ibuprofen or Aleve
    Knee pain- Patella tendon strap or full knee brace, Biofreeze or Salonpas , extra Ibuprofen or Aleve
   Neck pain- Inflatable neck pillow, Caldera relief neck rest, Biofreeze or Salonpas , extra Ibuprofen or Aleve

    You can also learn acupressure using your fingers or a knob like device
    Robin Mckenzie has written two very popular books on the subject titled Treat Your Own Back and Treat Your Own Neck

*  Book Recommendation: Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook by David Werner

*  Heart rate monitors for exercise. These can be used to monitor those with heart conditions and make sure that they
   take a break or practice calming exercises when needed. Some of these have custom alarms that will beep when your heart rate
   goes to high or too low.

*  Diabetic supplies may run out Cinnamon bark capsules, Fenugreek seeds or tea, and chromium polynicotinate
   can be used as a last resort. Cinnamon will also be pretty easy to come by and can be easily put into foods, drinks or
   emptied capsules.

Regards, - Tricia, Illinois

Mr Rawles,
I have a few comments after reading the guest article by Max Velocity on small team tactics. I realize the author's perspective is colored by his time in Afghanistan and Iraq, but there are some issues I have with his article.

The first is the Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP) is not the same IED he described in the Off-route section. The EFP is formed by the Miznay-Chardin effect, not the Munroe effect. The EFP (Miznay-Chardin) is a solid slug or can be fragmented by various means, but is not a molten jet of metal (Munroe). The Munroe effect, or shaped charge, works best in contact situations (it is the kill mechanism by which the RPG works), where the warhead contacts the target. At distance, it often turns into what has been termed as an "incoherent spray," where the jet breaks up before it strikes the target. This effect is so pronounced that vehicles in Afghanistan use cages to break up the spray inches from the armor, for those occasions where the warhead isn't damaged to the point of malfunctioning. Miznay-Chardin charges use a shallow plate to form the slug, which is not molten, and lance thru armor. These devices are generally only defeated by more armor or reactive armor.

Second, a vehicle-borne IED doesn't have to be so large as to affect the suspension of a vehicle to the point of noticing it. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the maintenance done on automobiles is spotty at best, and is generally only done to the point of keeping the vehicle running. Putting decent shocks in a vehicle is often a pipe dream. A charge of 200 pounds (about the weight of a person) will generally not affect the ride or stationary characteristics of a vehicle to the point of being noticeable, yet is a large enough charge to do plenty of damage.

IEDs are probably not a real threat to the G.O.O.D. crowd, because any benefit (other than just causing mayhem) would be lost, because a civilian vehicle's contents would probably be irreparably damaged if it was attacked with an IED much larger than three to five pounds. I'd be much more worried about small arms ambushes (which were not really covered) and things like spike strips or caltrops. These things would immobilize a vehicle and allow the vehicle and contents to be recovered relatively intact.

The author's point about forming a convoy is a good consideration, but my nuclear family (husband, wife, two kids) would be hard pressed to provide good on-road security for itself, because my sons are just over and just under 10 years old. I can't expect them to perform even as well as a 16 year old. They can't really drive, nor can they shoot with the level of fire they'd need to in a contact. You'd really need to band together with at least one other family, hopefully taking two or three vehicles.

The method of providing security is suspect as well, because not every vehicle suitable as a G.O.O.D. vehicle has a sunroof to provide something resembling 360-degree fires during a firefight. The author's perspective is again colored by his experiences. I don't own an armored pickup or SUV, and would have to rely on speed and my driving to get myself out of an ambush or attack.

And, to give you an idea of my experience, I spent a year in Afghanistan running missions outside the wire. Sincerely, - Major K.

I am gauging interest in what might become a new weekly column with news from the American Redoubt region. It will feature news about events, business opportunities, Radio Free Redoubt, local bloggers, local vendors, demographics, and more.

   o o o

Musicians will find this of interest: PrairiePsaltery.com

   o o o

Another Sustainable Preparedness Expo will be held on September 30, 2012 in Spokane, Washington.

   o o o

One of the largest and best gun shows in the Redoubt region is scheduled for August 3-4-5, 2012, in Missoula, Montana. (This is Montana' oldest and biggest show, organized by Hayes Otoupalik--an expert on World War I history who has amassed an amazing collection including aerial observer balloon baskets.) The show is held at the Adams Field House at the University of Montana. Wear your SurvivalBlog or Bennington Flag T-shirt or hat and see who you meet.

Those pesky derivatives: How Jamie Dimon hid the $6 billion loss

The latest from Yohay at FOREX Crunch: US Gained Only 12,000 Jobs in May According to Bernanke’s Highlighted Indicator

Steven M. sent this: It’s Not Just Free Cell Phones… The Government Is Handing Out Free Air Conditioners Too. JWR Adds: Oh, and to make it even worse, the LG Global Electronics brand air conditioning units they are giving away are made in China. ("Your tax dollars at work.")

Items from The Economatrix:

Jim Willie:  Extreme Danger Signposts

Gold 22% Rally to Record Seen by Eric Sprott:  Commodities

Buffet Says Muni Bankruptcies are Set to Climb

Following up on the recent derailment and evacuation in Ohio, SurvivalBlog reader Lee M. found a handy railroad map of the U.S. [JWR Adds: More detailed maps can be found if you do a search for each particular railroad, such as Burlington-Northern-Santa Fe.]

   o o o

Ian R. sent this: Emergency responders turn to expired drugs as key lifesaving medicine supplies run low

   o o o

Getting in on the act: Reader Tracey A. noticed that Costco's mailorder arm is now offering a special package price on 12-pack Gamma Seal Lids and 6-gallon Buckets with 12 Mylar Liners and 80 Oxygen Absorbers.

   o o o

Reader J.S.S. sent this: U.S. Officers to Make Arrests in Canada: A Clear Threat to Sovereignty

   o o o

Reader Geoff S. mentioned a product that might be of interest to readers that have large alternative power systems: Automatic Battery Watering System.

"We never know the worth of water 'til the well is dry." - Unattributed English Proverb

Monday, July 16, 2012

The mainstream news outlets are still proclaiming an ongoing "recovery". Headlines in the Washington Post warn that the "recovery may be slowing." Meanwhile The Economist calls the American economy "The Comeback Kid." The stock and bond promoters at Parker Financial had the temerity to begin their latest cheery report (dated July 9th) with: "The economic recovery that began in June 2009..." The BBC, quoting International Monetary Fund officials, more realistically describes it as a "tepid recovery." In my estimation all of these pronouncements are nothing but hyperbole. Any movement in economic indicators has not been a result of any genuine or truly fundamental recovery. To contrast the mainstream media's cheerleading, SurvivalBlog reader "Wallstreeter X." sent us some news about the ugly side of Quantitative Easing (QE, also known as monetization), that came from CNBC: Market Savior? Stocks Might Be 50% Lower Without Fed.

Wallstreeter X. had these comments: "This is a well known fact on "The Street" and has been for years, especially since 2008.  I've worked in the New York financial district all my adult life and the corruption here between Government/Fed and the Banks is legendary.  After the 2008 crash the Fed made the deal with the big banks that the Fed would do the QEs, and the banks would "support" the stock market, with the Fed supplying "free" money to the banks (partly through the Treasury bond sales/purchases, negative interest rates, "bailout" funds/free loans, et cetera.) The Fed would thereby "finance" the banks.)  That's Bernanke's foolish solution to the "economic crisis" from his studies of the Great Depression. He really believes that if the stock market doesn't collapse, then the economy will rebound.  He's not a stupid man, but he is terribly naive.  Wall Street et al is now based on corruption. While there are a few of us that actually work honestly and try to "do the right thing" here, we are vastly outnumbered by the crooks. If the Fed ever stops pumping money then the stock market will be at 6000 or lower very quickly.  Unfortunately precious metals prices may collapse at the same time, because they are pumped up mainly by speculators in funds and ETFs, who will have to liquidate their precious metals "paper" holdings, as well as speculative crude oil and agricultural holdings (futures and OTC swaps) at the same time (due to margin calls).  I actually deal in OTC option derivatives now and I agree with you completely James that it is the derivatives that are the 900 pound Gorilla in the room no one wants to talk about.  If the collapse happens it will be terribly scary.  I only say 'if' not because I doubt its all a house of cards, its just that I am so amazed at how long they have been able to keep the shell game going." 

I concur with his observations. Creating trillions of Dollars out of thin air and artificially holding interest rates of absurdly low levels (ZIRP) has created only the illusion of recovery.

Boom and bust cycles are hardly something new. Attempting to avoid or arrest the bust phases through monetization is just a clever parlor trick.

Despite changes of policy with successive presidential administrations, the law of compounding interest is inescapable. In recent memory, only the Clinton Administration has made any headway toward stopping further accumulation of Federal debt. (And Clinton was the beneficiary of his predecessor's tax policies.) The real demon here is not left/right politics. Continuing Federal spending beyond our annual revenue is inevitably suicidal, regardless of what political party holds office. The debt clock keeps ticking.

Mark my words: Quantitative Easing and ZIRP cannot go on forever. Budget deficits cannot go on forever. At some point interest rates will rise, and the game will be over. Servicing the national debt will become impossible. Derivatives will implode, spectacularly. The United States will become a pariah nation like Greece, only on a grand scale. The inevitable result of the coming chaos will be the destruction of the U.S. Dollar as a currency unit. In the short term we are looking at deflation, but in the long term, mass inflation is inevitable. The turnabout will come when interest rates spike.

When the government reaches the point where it debt service becomes painful, I predict that they will redirect their gaze on the $4 trillion that U.S. Citizens have saved in 401(k)s and the $8 trillion they have in in IRAs and pension funds. They are just too tempting for politicians to ignore. They will find some excuse to grab these funds. Be prepared. Anyone that is over 55 should convert their IRAs and 401(k)s in to Silver Eagle IRAs. (Available though Swiss America and other firms.) Anyone that is under 55 should consider taking the penalty and simply cashing out. Whatever you do, give it some concerted study and prayer, first. Don't rush headlong into a major change in your retirement planning.

Regardless of whether or not you have a formal retirement savings program, I recommend that you shuttle some of your net worth out of Dollar denominated investments and into productive farm land. Ideally this will be a farm that is well away from major cities and well off the beaten track that can serve as a safe haven for your family. Once you've bought your retreat and squared it away with the proverbial "Beans Bullets and Band-Aids", then think about sheltering what you have left in precious metals. Silver is my top pick, and pre-1965 circulated 90% silver U.S. dimes and quarters coins are the ideal vehicle. Those silver coins should be in tangible form (not amorphous ETFs), and kept well-hidden at home. Be ready to hunker down, folks. Instead of "continued recovery" there is now a high likelihood of collapse. When? That all depends on how long Ben Bernanke's game of smoke and mirrors can continue.

Although my body is growing older, my mind is still stuck at age 27 - and at times, my mind is even younger than that. I hope this never changes, once the mind grows old, then the body will grow even older - faster! While I can't do the things I used to do (physically) when I was much younger, there's still a lot of "fun" left in me.
I grew up in Chicago, and like most kids at that time, and in my neighborhood, we were pretty poor, except back then, we didn't know we were poor. We entertained ourselves in a lot of different ways. Back then, the television only had four stations, so there really wasn't much to watch compared to today, where people have hundreds of different television channels to watch, and complain that "there's nothing on..." As a kid, my friends and I often played marbles - we could play for hours on end. We also fashioned home made slingshots from tree branches. Most of the time, those slingshots didn't even last a day. And, for ammo, we used rocks - we never ran short of ammo in those days. Yeah, and like most kids my age back then, we got into a little trouble with our slingshots by shooting out windows of abandoned buildings. I guess that wasn't so bad, compared to the trouble kids get into these days - like taking guns to school and killing their classmates. Nope, back then, we didn't get into nearly the trouble kids get into today.
When I grew older, I purchased a store-bought slingshot - made out of some kind of hardwood, and it lasted a good long time. The only thing that needed replacing from time-to-time, was the rubber band used for propelling the ammo, more often than not, the rubber band was made out of an old tire inner tube (remember those days, when we had tubes in our tires?). I've also had some other better made slingshots pass through my hands over the years, and they were really a lot of fun, and very well-made, too.
Montie Gear has a new slingshot called the "Y-Shot" and I'm here to tell you, hands down, this is the best-made slingshot I've ever run across - PERIOD! The all-aluminum frame is made out of 1/2" thick aluminum plate, cut with a water jet at 50,000 PSI for unrivaled strength and low weight. Then, Montie Gear either powder coats the Y-Shot in different colors, or leaves the aluminum bare - with a grayish oxidized color to the finish.
I'm gonna give you the run down on the specs, right from the Montie Gear web site: "The slingshot features a tapered flat band and leather pouch assembly. The tapered flat band has a 16-pound pull weight at approximately a 28" draw. The band has a tapered shape and is made from Thera-Band material for a fast shot and long life. The leather pouch and tapered band assembly come from A+ Slingshot in California. The handle is wrapped with 550 test weight paracord for comfort. The paracord also provides a source of very strong cord, should you need it in the field."
This slingshot is ready for hunting (small game) or target practice. Don't hesitate to use ammo up to a 1/2" ball bearing or .44 cal lead ball ammo with this baby. My Y-Shot only came with 30, 1/2 steel ball bearings - which I shot up in only a few minutes, shooting at empty soda cans and empty milk jugs. Darn!I had to run to town, to the local big box store, and purchase a couple hundred more ball bearings - and in no time at all (again) I was out of ammo. Next day, I went to town again, and purchased a good supply of ball bearing ammo from the local big box store, so I'd have enough ammo to last me through several days of target shooting.
I'm here to tell you, that with only a little bit of practice, I found myself hitting empty cans at 25-yards without any trouble at all. I even placed some cans out to 50-yards, and about a third of time, I'd hit one, and they were hit with authority enough to make 'em go flying too. I didn't do any small game hunting because I haven't picked-up my hunting license for this year. However, I believe that the Montie Gear Y-Shot slingshot is capable of taking small game like squirrels and rabbits, as well as larger birds like turkeys, too...and we have a lot of wild turkeys are my rural country road. The slingshot would also discourage someone from coming very close to your property, with a well-aimed shot to the body or leg. Now, I'm not saying that you should purchase a mere slingshot for personal defense. However, if someone were trying to sneak on your property, and they took a hit from a steel ball bearing, they'd sure know that they weren't welcomed. It would also keep pests out of your yard, too - stray cats or dogs.
I honestly believe, that there is a place in a Prepper's arsenal for a good slingshot. It would be great for taking birds and other small critters for the stew pot - and you can do it silently, too. What's not to like about this? And, ammo is plentiful, if you only use rocks as ammo. However, rocks are not nearly as accurate as ball bearings or round lead ball ammo - be advised! I personally wouldn't want to take a hit from a steel ball bearing launched from the Montie Gear Y-Shot slingshot. I saw what it did to aluminum cans and milks jugs - they were easily penetrated out to 25-yards.
Now, while you can go to the local big box store, and buy a pretty decent slingshot, you won't find one as nearly well-made as the Y-Shot is, or one that will hold up for a lifetime. Were there any negatives about the Y-Shot? Yeah, It only came with 30 ball bearings - I'd like to see at least a hundred included in the package. I'd also like to see at least one spare rubber band and pouch included - because sooner or later, the rubber band is gonna break on you. Full retail price on the Y-Shot is $99.95 - a bit spendy, to be sure. But if you compare this slingshot to ALL the others, you're gonna see the difference, and it's a big difference, too. The Y-Shot is outstanding and will give you a lifetime of pleasure - so long as you don't run out of ammo. And, you will run out of ammo very fast - it is very addictive shooting the Y-Shot - trust me, the little kid in me is telling you the truth.
So, if you're in the market for the world's best slingshot, look no farther that the Y-Shot. Is it worth almost a hundred bucks? Yeah, to me it is, and I think you'll also agree, if you get one, that it's worth the money. Just make sure when you order your Y-Shot from Montie Gear, that you get some more ball bearings and a couple extra rubber bands with the leather pouch.
I've tested a lot of firearms and knives over the years, and to be sure, they were all a lot of fun. But I don't recall when I had more fun testing a product, than the fun I had with the Y-Shot slingshot. It's fun to shoot, silent and accurate...and it's capable of taking small game and birds for the stew pot when the SHTF if need be. If it sounds like I'm more than a little excited about this product, I am. It brought out even more of the little kid in me. And, if I had this slingshot when I was a kid, I would have been king of the block, and would have been known as an "Ace" with it. Check this slingshot out on the Montie Gear web site and you'll probably get one.

In the introduction to this series of article I gave a brief outline of the medical skills that a layman should acquire when preparing for TEOTWAWKI.  One of the most needed skills is suturing and other forms of wound closure. 

Lacerations are frightening, especially to young children.  One’s sense of wholeness is violated, often out of proportion to the actual injury.  Even adults view minor cuts as emergencies, when the truth is, most would heal (though perhaps with more scarring) with little intervention beyond cleansing and bandaging.  Pain and fear may cause as much discomfort as the actual wound.
The primary goal of intervention is to speed healing with a good cosmetic outcome.  Healing is accelerated when the wound edges are in contact with each other and infection is prevented.  That’s just about all that suturing does.  The God-given wound repair mechanism is what really heals the body.  The secondary goal of treatment, which is often equally important, is instilling confidence in the patient that he or she will be fine.  The ability to provide gentle, professional wound closure earns the skilled caregiver a great deal of respect in the injured party’s eyes.

The most common lacerations patients experience are relatively superficial.  In my work in urgent care I rarely encountered an injury that required complex closure techniques, though deep lacerations certainly do occur.  The incidence of minor to major lacerations is at least 100:1, likely much higher.  By minor, I mean no deeper than through the skin and subcutaneous tissue, not penetrating to muscle, tendon, or internal organs, and not involving the eyes or other special organs.  Therefore, learning how to suture a standard laceration is the place to start. 

Before discussing suturing I’d like to stress that other wound closure techniques are often quicker and may give equally good results.  When the edges of the wound are practically touching each other, with no tension to stretch them apart, taping is an excellent choice.  When speed is of the essence, taping or stapling is often the best option.  Several staples can be placed in the time it takes to numb a wound – and hurt little if any more than an injection of anesthetic.  Anyone who doubts this should purchase a surgical stapler and try it out personally (I have). 

Both surgical staplers and suture material are available online without a prescription, though the quality is often not equal to professional equipment.  Don’t bother with the super-cheap stuff except perhaps to practice – it will certainly be inferior for human use.  Outdated veterinary sutures are fine for knot-tying or practice on a chicken breast, but at least the ones I’ve purchased have dull needles.  (More on this in the next article.)  If you are going to practice suturing, needle choice is paramount.  Sewing needles have tapering points, which actually do not penetrate the skin well.  Surgical needles have tiny knife points, labeled cutting or reverse cutting.  A tapered point is fine for practice on foam, fabric, or perhaps a chicken breast, but requires too much pressure for penetration when used on actual skin.  Practicing on a pig’s foot will yield a simulation more comparable to suturing human skin than does chicken skin or foam.  They don’t stay fresh long, though, so be sure to refrigerate your practice pig’s feet and use them within a few days of purchase. They also freeze well, and after practice you can cook them up for your dogs if desired (but beware of the distinctive smell). 

To date the best sutures I find online available to the layman are the brand Unify.  The 4-0 size is appropriate for most lacerations; 3-0 works well for larger or deeper injuries, whereas the 5-0 is good for facial lacerations or the tender skin of children.  A suture length of 18” is generally sufficient, and easier to work with than the 30” material.  The silk suture is easier to tie so that knots slip less easily, but nylon slides through the skin easier, causing less trauma when positioning knots or removing stitches.  As a single filament, nylon also produces less wicking action and therefore less likelihood of infection.
If you do not or cannot obtain surgical suture, purchase nylon or silk thread from your local sewing supply store.  Prior to use you can dip it in alcohol to sterilize. 
Before suturing a wound you must make sure it is clean.  Clean is a relative term – no wound is completely clean, and some are assumed contaminated whether they look clean or not, especially human and animal bites.  Human bites and cat bites will get infected nearly 100% of the time and so should not be sutured.  Dog bites generally should not be sutured, either.  Closing a dirty wound provides a cesspool for bacterial growth – i.e., a warm, moist, dark environment with foreign bodies (sutures) that bacteria can cling to.  Cuts inflicted by sharp objects (knives, razors, wire) can usually be rinsed clean with soapy water and sutured (as long as no rust is present).  Any wound where infection is suspected should not be sutured.

After the wound is cleaned, establish a sterile field for your sterile instruments, or at least a clean field so your suture is not dragging over dirty clothes or adjacent skin.  If you don’t have a sterile field, at least use a clean towel to cover any contaminated areas.  I’ve never used aluminum foil, but I think it would be a good option, or possibly plastic wrap or even wax paper.  Paper that tears when moistened would be less than ideal. 
The topic of anesthesia for suturing will be covered in a separate article, but for now I’ll just mention that it certainly is possible to suture without numbing, especially an adult patient.
Once the patient is prepared, establish a work area so that you can work in a relaxed, comfortable position at a comfortable angle.  You may need to move your chair or the patient’s orientation.  If you try to suture while leaning over the patient you will certainly regret it part-way through as your neck or back begin to ache or your hands begin to tremble (as most doctors know from experience.  Please learn from our mistakes.)
The goal of suturing is to bring the edges of the wound together clear down to the depth of the wound, with no gaps in between where the wound can separate.  The depth of the wound determines proper needle size as well as suture width and spacing.  Specifically, the radius (R) of the curved needle should equal the depth of the wound, which is also the distance the suture should be placed from each edge, as well as how far apart the sutures should be spaced.  Half this distance (R/2) is a good spacing to place the first stitch from the end of the laceration.  As you’ve cleaned the wound you’ve estimated the depth and decided on the proper size needle and suture.

When suturing, it is best to use a needle holder with smooth edges rather than a hemostat with small teeth or ridges.  The flat edge holds the needle more securely.  When inserting the needle into the skin, grasp the needle holder in your palm (not with your fingers in the finger holes), making sure the needle is directly perpendicular to the skin to enable it to reach the full depth of the wound.  (Beginners usually direct the needle in at an angle rather than directly perpendicular.  Palming the needle holder assures much better control.) 
Each suture should be placed half at a time, that is, start from the right side and have the needle come up in the middle of the wound; then reposition the needle and insert inside the laceration, directing your needle up and out to the opposite side of the wound.  (Left-hand dominant individuals often sew from the opposite direction.)  Proceed from one end of the laceration to the other; usually it is best to start at the point furthest away from the operator and work toward the operator for best visibility.  When the laceration lies well-closed, make sure the knots are positioned all on one side for easier removal and less crusting.  Apply Bacitracin antibiotic ointment (optional) to a sterile (or clean) dressing and cover the wound (as opposed to applying the Bacitracin directly to the wound, which risks contamination of your tube of medication and also may cause discomfort for the patient). 
As I write this I realize that a picture is worth a thousand words, and not everyone learns well from text alone.  Doctors don’t suture their first laceration without an experienced physician supervising their work, and preferably neither would you.  If at all possible it would be ideal to receive hands-on training from a medical professional in your area.  Alternatively, I offer this at my own SURVIVAL MEDICINE workshops, as mentioned previously (see www.ArmageddonMedicine.net for upcoming classes). 

In the next article I will expand on the above with SUTURING, PART 2

About the Author: Cynthia J. Koelker, MD is SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor, the author of the book Armageddon Medicine, and the editor of www.ArmageddonMedicine.net   

I have been a soldier for all my adult life: infantry, special operations and as a civilian security contractor. More recently, I have got into prepping for the survival of my family. I have been working slowly at it, and reading and researching a lot of the publications and related blogs. Given my background, I have a head start in the security area, but many have huge head starts over me in the other desired and required skills that will be essential to survival. I have a lot to learn and a lot to catch up on. However, I would like to contribute my two cents worth where I can.

The more I read, the more I form the opinion that certainly not all, but perhaps “some” or “many” preppers out there are making the simple mistake of thinking that with the subject of security, they can simply “tick the box”. Preparing for the protection of your family cannot be simply taken care of by having guns; not in the same way that hunger can be taken care of by stocking food. It is simply not sufficient to exercise your right to bear arms and own guns, without being tactically proficient. Even for the good shots, that is not the same as being able to perform tactically. The kind of tactical challenges that you will face post-SHTF will be in a different league to, for example, confronting an intruder in the dead of night with your handgun or shotgun. Think marauding gangs of looters, going from house to house, raping and killing. Even if you have a remote retreat, you will need tactical know-how at some point. I also believe that there will not only be a need for family and friend units to protect themselves, but if the collapse is ongoing for some time there will be a need to create tactical teams to conduct necessary operations to protect your area of operations and retreat from whatever threats emerge.

Reading through forums and articles I see many of the same questions out there about what techniques to use, how to defend yourself, your loved ones and your home, and similar. I hope to answer these questions. Also, the book takes you from tactics for survival of yourself and your family, including vehicle movement and defending your home, through to small unit tactics. These small unit tactics require the training of tactical teams and would form the basis of a group that you would use to conduct operations post-SHTF to defend your location, compound or small town. This compendium of infantry, special operations and close protection tactics would also allow you to carry out an effective American Insurgency against invading enemies, foreign or domestic, into the post-SHTF vacuum.
As an example, as part of my career in the military and security, I spent five years serving as a security contractor in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This included working on contract for the US Government in Iraq, a year of which was based out of Fallujah, the rest variously based out of Baghdad and country-wide, and also two years working for the British Government in Helmand Province and Kabul, Afghanistan. These roles were operational security roles that included exposure to multiple training methods and operational schools of thought, as well as both high profile and low profile mobile operations across Iraq and Afghanistan. In my book, I have incorporated a lot of the techniques and experience that I learned in both high and low profile movement in these combat theatres into techniques that you can apply to moving your family and conducting any type of post-collapse vehicle movement.
If you find yourself packing up your family in a "get out of Dodge" situation, then there are a number of factors to consider. The number of vehicles and personnel in your convoy will have a knock on effect to tactical potential, which will is discussed in more detail. However, to introduce the concept here: one vehicle gives you limited load carrying ability and no redundancy. If you are a standard type family you likely have a couple of cars. Take both. If you have the ability to take three cars and have a driver and security in each, then take them because you will 1) spread out your personnel so that there is less risk with the destruction of one vehicle 2) increased redundancy if one vehicle breaks down or is immobilized 3) increased your tactical options, which we will cover in detail in the chapter on vehicle operations, and 4) greatly increased your load carrying ability, perhaps without having to use a trailer which will benefit mobility.
One of the big threats faced in Iraq and Afghanistan is the Improvised Explosive Device (IED). We hope that this will not be a primary threat in a WTSHTF situation in the Continental United States, and the manual does not concentrate on them for this reason, but they may either be used in a limited fashion by certain groups or become a widespread threat in an insurgency type situation if one develops, for whatever reason. Here are a few interest points on IEDs:
IEDs come in various sizes and the effectiveness of an IED depends on large part as a function of size and placement, as well as accurate targeting. IEDs can be connected in a “daisy chain” and usually placed to match the anticipated spacing of vehicles in convoys, to cause maximum damage. IEDs can be initiated in a number of ways:
• Command Wire (CWIED). A physical connection between the initiation point (Firing point (FP) and the CWIED itself (Contact Point)); the need for this connection can aid in detection of the device and the FP.
• Remote Control (RCIED). The RCIED is detonated remotely using any one of multiple options. It can be anything from a cell phone to a garage door opener. This increases the enemy’s options for placement and FP, without the need to be physically connected to the device. This can make it harder to detect the device.
Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED). Simply put, the IED is inside the vehicle. This type of IED will usually be remotely detonated, or can be on a timer (exception: see SVBIED, below). The VBIED allows for mobility and placement of large IEDs. However, they can be detected: a simple example can be a car that is packed with Home Made Explosives (HME) and therefore the suspension is weighed down, making the vehicle suspicious as it sits parked at its placement point.
Off-Route Mine: (A targeted IED capable of defeating armored vehicles)
• The off-route mine is very effective and can defeat many types of armor. It uses the “Monroe effect”(shaped charge) to create a molten jet of metal that will pierce armor, causing damaging effects inside the vehicle as it passes through. The Monroe effect places explosives in behind a metal cone or dish: on detonation, the cone inverts and melts into a stream of metal. This is the same effect used by a standard RPG, with the exception that an RPG detonates on contact with a vehicle, whereas the Explosively Formed Projectile goes off several feet away by the side of the road.
• The effect of the device can be devastating but usually limited in scope. It will pass through armor, and there have been multiple circumstances of these devices causing traumatic lower limb amputation of personnel in the driver and front passenger seats of vehicles, but personnel in other compartments being left unscathed.

Victim Operated Improvised Explosive Device (VOIED). This type of IED is detonated by the actions of the victim. In order to be effective the IED will usually target a location that is known to be used by coalition forces. VOIEDs can be anti-personnel or anti-vehicle. The type of location targeted would usually be somewhere that locals could avoid, but that forms a channel for military personnel or vehicles. These devices, or the corresponding safe routes, may also be marked, often in unusual ways, similar to the way that mines are often marked in the Balkans i.e. piles of rocks, sticks, cloth tied to markers etc.
About The Author: Max Velocity is the pen name of a former Special Forces soldier and private security contractor. He is the author of the nonfiction book Contact!: A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival.

My wife and I were heading back from cabin in the Northern Arizona mountains Saturday (July 7) afternoon and were stopped by a nice elderly lady who worked for the Forest service (vehicle
parked across from her) on a forest road. She handed me a new Coconino National Forest map and said “if the roads are not shown on this map then it is closed and that each year they will come out with a new MVUM (motor vehicle use map) and the same applies. So, if the road is not shown, then it is consider closed. I said why not put up closed signs or barriers so we can see and she said they will just get moved or destroyed. She also said it is your responsibility to know which roads are closed via their maps. Rather than sit on the road questioning/argue with her (just the messenger) I figured I would look over the map when I got home.

After getting home I looked over the map and its purpose (written rules) and what it says: Violations of 36 CFR 261.13 are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both (18 U.S.C. 3571(e)). This prohibition applies regardless of the presence or absence of a sign.

It’s a National Forest and they will close forest roads (no signs/marked) which they deem and we are responsible to know by it not being shown (drawn) on their maps. Just out diving I do not look at a map. I just take whichever road is there and drive. I do not make new ones or drive across fields unless to retrieve downed game which is authorized. I could see if they were doing it for reclaiming the forest to it’s natural order or fire restriction however if you read into the rules and such (on the map) it outlines a lot more plus where you can camp. A lot of roads are missing from this map (Flagstaff, Arizona area) so if you hunt, camp or sight see look out because it is already in effect, as of April 2012.

Again, it is our National Forest (tax dollar funded) and they are going to tell us what roads to drive and where we can/can't camp? Whether you agree/disagree with off road travel, camping and quads this is pure crap.
Install barriers (post/rocks) up on areas you wish to reclaim not just delete the road from a map (only theirs) which will change yearly and make it the public's responsibility to know. I am sure this is happening in other
national forest however I just happened to be traveling through Coconino National Forest. I am writing to the forest heads and our congressmen because soon we will lose all rights of our National Forest! It’s just the beginning of our limited use of our forest in which we pay for along with their paychecks!

For more information, see this editorial in The Arizona Republic Friday, July 13, 2012: Rules a burden for hunters. - Regards, - Steve E.

Dear Editor:
The "off-road" gear carriers described in Avoid Becoming a Refugee are neat, but check out this fascinating article about the Chinese wheelbarrow. Its wheel is dead center (instead of at the end like European barrows) enabling it to carry three to six times more weight. Frequently passengers with luggage would be transported by just one person. These were the primary freight movers of their day (much like tractor trailers are
used today) but had the advantage of being able to negotiate extremely narrow "roads." I really enjoyed reading this history and have tucked this knowledge in the back of my mind in case I'd need it one day. Regards, - C.D.V.

I am weary of hearing police officers now referring to the general populace as "civilians." I've noticed that this misnomer has become commonplace in the new century. Even some journalists are parroting this condescension without any comment or correction, sometimes egregiously. I'll present the facts here as clearly and concisely: The police and sheriff's deputies are our employees and they are civilians, too. The police are civil servants that help protect our property rights and civil rights, under civil law. (And hopefully with civility.) In contrast, military or "martial" law is the task of the Military Police and they are the only police who can call us civilians. It is noteworthy that under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, Federal military personnel (with the exception of the Coast Guard) are prohibited from policing the citizenry. Please immediately correct any civilian law enforcement officers that mischaracterize their relationship with us. Continued misuse of such terms can gradually shift perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. Be vigilant of encroachments on our liberty!

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James C. sent this: Traffic fence in China collapses like row of dominoes: China's state broadcaster has released surveillance video showing a fence dividing traffic in the city of Jinhua falling like a giant row of dominoes. (Something tells me they used what Lectroid John Parker would call a "very baaad design.")

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Kellene Bishop asserts that two years food storage is insufficient: A Seven Year Famine

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Reader Chris M. mentioned this analysis by Scott Stewart of STRATFOR: The Other Consequences of Fast and Furious. JWR's Comment: FWIW, I'm dubious about this claim that ARs built from 80% complete receivers are showing up in significant numbers in Mexico.

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My wife (Avalanche Lily) suggested this article: The Corn Is Dying All Over America

"We are in danger of being overwhelmed with irredeemable paper, mere paper, representing not gold nor silver; no sir, representing nothing but broken promises, bad faith, bankrupt corporations, cheated creditors and a ruined people." - Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 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.

One of the first and most important steps in successfully being prepared is having the appropriate mindset to do so.  This being the case, it is important that each person reconcile their Christian convictions with their convictions regarding preparedness and self-defense, resulting in their being of a single mind.  It is only in resolving these beliefs that a person can be effective in choosing to act one way or the other in a time of crisis.  Many people of Christian faith and even those who do not share a faith in Jesus Christ, question if the practice of preparedness and/or willingness to consider the taking of another person’s life in self-defense contradicts God’s will and Christ’s teachings as expressed in the Bible.  These are weighty and very important questions which should in no way be taken lightly.  Each person should consider carefully and make a clear decision about their convictions on these topics before they can decide if a preparedness lifestyle is one that they can embrace.  Since we are admonished by scripture to stand ready to provide an answer to anyone who questions the reason for our faith and hope, I have been compelled to search the whole Word of God and provide a clear rationale for my convictions in this area of my faith.  For those who may be wrestling with their own convictions on these topics, I offer the following references and perspectives.

Is a Preparedness Lifestyle Evidence of Our Lack of Trust in God?
I began my study of this topic by asking myself the question, “shouldn’t we trust in God for our sustenance, instead of stocking up on food and supplies?”  In response to this question, I say that the scriptures teach us to not worry about tomorrow, or in other words, we should not be fearful of the future or seeking to gain material possessions for the sake of worldly wealth and status.  However, having a lack of fear about the future is not the same as choosing to take no action about being prepared for the future.  When considering God’s call for us to be good stewards of that with which He has entrusted us, we must be thoughtful and shrewd in order to avoid losing what we have been given through neglect of thought and/or action.  Rather, we must judge the circumstances of the present times and be thoughtful about the future in order to be counted as good and faithful servants.  One of the Scriptures’ most vivid examples of taking proactive steps to be prepared for uncertain future events is Joseph’s leadership in Egypt, which was prompted by God and carried out through the practical actions of faithful people.  The plan of preparedness was given to Joseph by God and relayed to Pharaoh in Genesis 41:33-36, when Joseph said “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”  Like Joseph, we are to put our trust in God and not the things of this world, while also being good stewards of those things with which he has entrusted us through taking thoughtful and decisive actions.

When Christ spoke of the signs that would announce the coming of the end times, He painted a grim picture of the urgency with which people will need to take action and flee from danger in order to be spared from the full force of the coming destruction.  In Matthew 24:15-22, Christ said “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house.Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”  In heeding these words, we see that Christ is admonishing us to be ready to flee from the coming evil at a moment’s notice.  He also makes it clear that we will not have time to get our affairs in order after we become aware of the pending danger, but must be ready to act immediately.  Under these circumstances, it would seem prudent to have made preparations in advance for being able to respond decisively should such a situation present itself within our lifetime.  If we are to care for the needs of our families, as we are instructed to do in 1 Timothy 5:8, which reads “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” it would make sense that we should have provisions ready for taking care of their basic needs, should such a time come that it is necessary for us to “flee to the mountains.”

Are Christians Called to be Pacifists or Defenders?
In accompaniment with being good stewards we are also charged with the responsibility to guard against wickedness.  This responsibility is made clear in both Proverbs 18:5, “It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.” and Proverbs 25:26, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.”  In addition to fighting the spiritual battle, this means that we are to care for the people and possessions with which God has entrusted us for the good of our family and neighbors.  For as it says in Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”  We cannot care for our families and neighbors if our food, clothing and shelter has been stolen or destroyed by evildoers, nor have we cared for our families and neighbors if they have been raped, abused or even murdered by those people who have chosen to embrace evil. 

The first case recorded in the Scriptures of the righteous actively defending their family and neighbors was that of Abram going to rescue his nephew Lot, the others with him and their possessions.  This account is recorded in Genesis 14:14-16, which reads, “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.”  The life of Abram, later renamed by God as Abraham, is an excellent standard against which to judge our actions, as a man who walked with God and was the patriarch of the Jewish nation, about which it is recorded in Romans 4:3 that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 

Beginning with God’s first commandments and working forward through the Scriptures we find that the Old Testament law describes killing in self-defense as acceptable, but killing in vengeance as murder.  The sixth commandment, as handed down from God to Moses and the Israelites, is stated in Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”  Note that God specifically stated that “murder” was prohibited, not that “killing” another person was forbidden.  This is an important distinction when considering how God used the Israelites to fight against evil men and nations.  Understanding the appropriate use of force is further clarified by the Lord when He states in Exodus 22:2-3 that “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.”  In this instance, a person cannot fairly judge the actions or intentions of someone who is doing wrong under the cover of darkness, and so is justified in the use of lethal force as protection for themselves and their household.  However, in the light of day such actions can be more fairly judged and the level of defense must be appropriately proportioned, since acting in vengeance is not justified.  Another example of using lethal force in the defense of another person is the early life of Moses.  While defending one of his countrymen who was being brutally beaten, Moses killed an Egyptian, as is recorded in Exodus 2: 11-12. “One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”  So Moses killed a man, who was threatening the life of another person, yet he was not punished by God, rather he was later blessed by being chosen to lead God’s people.  Another admonition for a just defense against the violence of evil is stated in Proverbs 24:10-11, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!  Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”  A further example of appropriately defending against the physical attacks of evil people is the leadership and actions of Nehemiah while in Jerusalem.  As they were doing the good work of rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem, men whose hearts were filled with evil devised schemes to murder the Israelites in order to stop them from rebuilding.  While they trusted in God to lead and protect them from this threat, Nehemiah was a good steward of the lives and resources that had been entrusted to him by arming the people and posting an active defense.  These preparations both exemplify his faith in the Lord’s protection and his acting responsibly, which thwarted the plans of the wicked.  This story is recorded in Nehemiah 4: 11-23, which reads “Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’  Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’  Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’ When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!’ So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, ‘Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.’ Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

Now that a thorough list of Old Testament examples has been provided to clarify the appropriate actions of self-defense and the defense of our families and neighbors, some might ask if the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament brought about a change to any of these precepts.  Let me begin my response by stating that God’s precepts do not change from the Levitical Law to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  It is clearly stated throughout the Scriptures, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, that God is consistent and unchanging.  This can be seen in 1 Samuel 15:29, stating that “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”, Hebrews 13:8, which says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”, and in James 1:17, which reads “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  It is vital to the Christian faith to understand that what Jesus Christ the Son taught is consistent with the actions and commands of God the Father.  With the clear understanding that there is no duplicity between the words and actions of God and Jesus Christ, we can then look at a teaching of Christ that is sometimes misconstrued to be advocating for pacifism, appearing on the surface to be at odds with the Old Testament law.

Among Christ’s many teachings during the Sermon on the Mount, it is recorded in Matthew 5:38-39 that He spoke the words “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”  These words have been misunderstood as an admonishment for Christian pacifism.  However, the Jewish leaders and people of the time were known to be misusing the Scriptures to justify vigilante type vengeance and an abuse of power.  Instead of leaving it in the hands of individuals, God had clearly established judges and other civil authorities for the enforcement of justice.  Christ’s example was not an attack against self-defense from a credible threat, rather a slap in the face is an example of an insult, for which we should not repay in kind, but instead show grace and mercy that we might win them over by shaming them through comparing their actions to our own.  This is illustrated by the words of Paul as he was quoting Proverbs, when he said “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  We need to use discernment in order to judge whether a person’s actions are harmful of only superficial items and our emotions, or if they are intent on the type of evil that results in true violence or even murder.  While Christ taught that we should not presume to know the underlying intent that drives a person’s actions, Christ did instruct us to judge a person by their visible actions, as He said in Matthew 7:17-20, which reads “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Someone intent on murder will not be pacified by grace and humility, for their first action will be the taking of a life, not an insult.  So, acting in self-defense of a person’s life is not impairing our Christian witness, nor is it acting out of vengeance, but it is taking appropriate action to protect the innocent and not give way to the wicked.

My Conclusions
I believe that the God of both the Old and New Testaments has made it clear to us through His word that we are to be prepared in spirit, mind and body for our Lord Christ’s return.  In doing this we are called to be good stewards of the possessions and lives with which He has entrusted each of us.  We are to avoid evil whenever possible, repay evil with good in consideration of our Christian witness, but also defend against the kind of evil that would murder and destroy that which is good.  In summary, I believe that we should be forward thinking and resourceful as we store up for the difficult days to come like the example of Joseph, defend our walls and those living inside of them like the example of Nehemiah, and practice love by providing for those in need like the example of Jesus Christ.

Well I must say after prayer and a heart to heart with the Almighty and many undisputable news about our economy I have felt the need to start prepping.  Oh and where to start? Wow was I ever overwhelmed at the prospect of starting prepping for an economic collapse or other unfortunate event.

First, telling the hubby. I got laughed at. Yes, I was down. But I found SurvivalBlog.com, where I got started with baby steps. So off to the grocery store I went. I started a little bit at a time, buying rice and canned items on sale.  Then the adventure begins!

- Now in Texas most of us do not have basements or root cellars. The weather is ever changing. The hot humid weather just doesn’t allow for good conditions. Basements flood out, have seepage or root cement cellars crack due to the ground that shifts constantly in our area especially. We suffer from heat, extreme humidity and we mildew and mold a lot. If you do decide to purchase a pre-made one, you must have a dehumidifier. Your best bet would be to have a good, dark cool closet in your house.  Some people have put there root veggies under the house wrapped in newspaper with chicken wire to keep varmints away. It will keep the potatoes fresher longer (unless your house is on a slab, then find a good cool, dark spot in the house away from everything, do not store on carpet--use cardboard, or cardboard boxes,etc). So I have designated space in a closet or two.  I also purchased some extra shelving, etc.

You must practice your canning before TSHTF. Believe me, don’t wait till it happens to decide to get the pressure cooker out and learn how. Get it out now. Practice, just like anything else, you have got to learn it. It is not easy at first. Enlist help in the older generation, a grandma, aunt, etc. Make sure your stove can use the pressure cooker. Mine was a smooth top. Not all smooth top ranges can use all pressure cookers.  You can also purchase a separate burner or use the Coleman Stove. Make sure you check the cans after a couple of months and see if they show signs of mold or anything. Make sure you did them correctly. Taste test some.  Practice making meals with some of the food you have stored.

Storing grains won’t be hard if done correctly. Remember Texas is humid, all year long, even in winter.  Make sure area is cool.  Use those O2 absorbers, they will be very helpful. If you don’t you prepare well you will have rancid grain and weevils (nasty pests). Make sure you plan for possible rats or mice too (sticky traps or regular traps). From my experience flour doesn’t store well. Wheat stores much better. Best get a good grinder. Storing rolled oats for oatmeal is also excellent.

There are many lakes and tanks (ponds) to fish or gather water on, but these are usually on someone’s land. So be careful or you could have the barrel of a gun pointed at you if you trespass. Most Texans band together in a crisis. If you have something to trade or barter and are friendly, most likely you will find a friend. Also, if you are storing water, be careful of the containers. The cheap plastic milk like containers don’t last long if not stored properly. They leak and make a mess! Buy water storage barrels or water storage tanks if possible.

So far, we have bought a wind up flashlight that will charge our cell phones. It also has an AM/FM radio. We are also installing solar panels for energy. In Texas, we get plenty of sunlight so that will not be a problem.

- Guns and Ammo.  In, Texas of course Guns. But with that knowing how to use them properly. So we are all taking a gun safety course. [JWR Adds: For those in humid climates I recommend buying as many stainless steel guns as possible, and frequently cleaning and inspecting your guns for any signs of rust. (Mark your calendar if you are the forgetful sort.) Your gun vault or hidden firearms wall cache should be equipped with a Golden Rod dehumidifier. That small investment will save you much grief, later!]

- in Texas, you need to be prepared for all types of weather.  Sometimes in December you get 80 degree days and in April you may get snow. The old saying “Yup, if you don't like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes -- it'll change!” Our weather is definitely one of a kind. In the summer it is very hot. The difference in our heat as compared to other I think is the humidity. You could get a heat stroke very easily. So without air conditioning to which we are all accustomed, it would be quite a change. In the summer, in Texas it gets very hot. Do not cook indoors.  Consider installing heat reflective film on your windows or get them tinted before TSHTF. This will cut down on your electric bill and save money right now! We did it and it really does help.  Use shelters like overhangs, patio overheads and awnings to prevent the stream of sunlight through the windows on the sides of your home that face south and west.  Ice down or soak a bandana in cold water and wear around your neck. Keep hydrated. Avoid tea, caffeine and alcohol. You don’t want to end up with a heat stroke. Okay, winter time. Good thing is we don’t have too many really cold days but we do have some. The best thing would be to have a wood stove in the winter to heat the house.  Our roads are not made for ice. Have extra chains for your truck or SUV in case of those rare icy/snowy days. Be able to cover plants and/or bring them in.

- Gardening in Texas can be a challenge, but can be done all year because of our mild winter.     We have never been able to grow potatoes in our area due to fire ants. But now with the new container gardening, potato gardening is so much easier! Texas A&M has terrific information on container gardening for Texans. Another good site for Texas container gardening and hot climates is: CentralTexasGardening.info

I have also been doing the square foot garden method using cider blocks as I have a bad back and this method has proven to be easier to maintain. I use the holes in the cinder blocks to plant herbs.  An excellent site is Raised-bed-gardening.org. There are also tons of YouTube videos that show different ways people have done their cinder block gardens.  I had difficulty getting seeds going at first. So I consulted with some masters of gardening, and they told me to use seed starting system, which is no more than a little divided tray. You use a soilless growing mixture, pre-made you can buy. I bought a tray at Wal-Mart with directions on it, also Gardeners.com has directions. It gets your seedlings up and going then you can transplant.  You see ours kept getting eaten up by grasshoppers or bunnies. So really watch them after transplanting.  July-September grasshoppers are bad in Texas. They strip everything. You may even want to purchase something to drape over them.  Trees are also a good investment.  Peach, plum, and apricot trees grow really good around here. You will need several to cross pollinate with each other.  Grasshoppers love these too. The best thing to do is to stock up on Demon pesticide. If you would see how these little pests strip everything, you would be wise to do so, it is worth gold. 

Mosquitoes -   Bug bites bleh…mosquitoes.  They are bad here.  We all have our jokes about our mosquitoes as big as birds.  If you have Off or bug repellant, use it. If you have failed to and are eaten up by the little bloodsuckers, then take cotton balls dipped in witch hazel and rub over affected area. Calamine lotion will help some too. Try not to scratch! (Texas-raised kids like me heard that a lot!) a good plant for repelling those nasty buggers is lemon grass.  This grass is rich in a substance called citral, the active ingredient in lemon peel. This substance is said to aid in digestion as well as relieve spasms, muscle cramps, rheumatism and headaches. Lemon grass is also used commercially as the lemon scent in many products including soaps, perfumes and candles. A related plant, (Cymbopogon nardus) is the ingredient in citronella candles sold to ward off mosquitoes and other insects

Also people put up Purple Martin bird houses to attract Purple Martins. They love some mosquitoes and it’s a Texas tradition of sorts for people to put up Purple Martin houses to get rid of the little buggers.

Remember to always to do lists. Check and recheck that you got everything on it. Talk to family members that are not prepping, but don’t get the Bible out and preach, yet. Just tell them everything that is going on. Let them know it’s better to be prepared and if nothing happens will at least you are ready for when something does. Pray for them. Ask the Lord to put it on your heart what to say.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am the owner of a small (but growing) family emergency preparedness web site, reThinkSurvival.com.

I thought you might be interested in a web page I've been keeping updated for some time now that lists my selections for the Best SurvivalBlog.com Posts.

The page includes well over 400 links! I figured it might be useful to your new readers and help my readership as well.

I do appreciate your time and all that you do for us. Thank you, - D.B.

The article about OPSEC with utility workers reminded me of some of the deterrents listed in the book, Secrets of a Superthief by John MacLean. The author was a very successful thief until he violated one of his own rules and was caught. In his book he details what vulnerabilities he looked for in a victim, and how he performed his thefts. Chances are you have taken precautions but reading his book will real to you the
chinks in your armor. The book leaves you feeling vulnerable, and is a wake-up call to fortifying your defenses against theft or unlawful entry by undesirables.

The book is out of print and copies are snatched-up as soon as they become available on the secondary market. I highly recommend the book. - Rick B.

The editors of Prep-Blog.com have been posting for six months now. There are some interesting insights, so be sure to go check it out.

   o o o

Reader P.D. sent this, by way of the SurvivalAcres web site: Mountain House has issued a press release that details the difference in residual oxygen levels in their packages versus those of a competitor. Facts are facts.

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Speaking of Mountain House, the unprecedented contemporaneous deep discount sales on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans by Safecastle and Ready Made Resources both end on July 18th. Order soon.

   o o o

John Galt reports: The EPA is Preparing New Regulations for Wood Stoves and Fireplaces (Thanks to H.L. for the link.)

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Gun Sales Skyrocket As D-Day For Gun Control Looms – No Coincidence?

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." - 1Timothy 2:1-6 (KJV)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

To the many folks who have asked: We are still sold out of banner advertising space on SurvivalBlog, and have more than 30 companies on the waiting list. This equates to at least a three year wait, since few of our advertisers ever leave. The good news is that very inexpensive ad space is available at our spin-off web site: SurvivalRealty.com.


Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 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.

So you are a prepper?  You might be just getting started or you might be stockpiled for armageddon.  Regardless of what stage you are at, most preppers compile lists of equipment they foresee needing and as sources such as SurvivalBlog.com point out, prepping is not just about stuff, but rather skills too.  Skills and gear will undoubtedly be vital in any unfortunate circumstances mankind might face.  However, a seriously overlooked aspect of being prepared (and an inexpensive one) is fitness; overall wellness and physical/mental fitness.  If you are not able to use your gear and skills due to being weak or sick, then it is likely that you have built an impressive stockpile for someone else to use.  America has an obesity crisis and our society has become overall weak and dependent.  There is no room for this in a survival situation.  People will have to carry their own weight (and sometimes others’ too), conserve resources, and let go of numerous comforts.  Note: I am not a doctor and assume no responsibility for illness, injury, buff abs, losing lottery tickets or anything else that someone might try to blame on me.  I am merely sharing some of my life’s experience.

The key to living healthy is balance.  Being healthy is a lifestyle that will not only improve your daily life and longevity, but will also increase your ability to survive.  First, a proper and nutritious diet is a must.  Your body needs healthy meals to ensure you have fuel to function, work, and exercise and to keep your body at a healthy weight.  You do not need to carry unnecessary weight in a survival situation but remember balance; no fad, starvation diets or unhealthy supplements that dehydrate you.  Eat the recommended amount of calories from good sources and ensure you are exercising.  There are countless sources of information on this but according to WebMD, you should get this number of calories:




Moderately Active




















Remember, you have to eat fat and carbs as well.  You can become very ill or even die due to proteinosis if you never consume fat, which is vital to many bodily functions.  Many people have heard about a survival situation where there are only rabbits to eat and you would eventually die because wild rabbits have no fat unless you consume the bone marrow.  Be sure to stay properly hydrated, especially when in hot, humid climates or when working or exercising hard.  The easiest way to tell if you are adequately hydrated is 1. you are not thirsty and 2. your urine is pretty clear.  That thirst concept might force some laughs but if you are truly thirsty, you do not just need water; you are dehydrated!  You typically cannot drink too much water.  With a balanced diet, there is little fear of water intoxication, i.e. dying from drinking too much water and washing out all of your body’s sodium.  With that said, it might be beneficial to store some Gatorade/Powerade and Pedialyte to replenish the electrolytes for cases of intense physical exertion or illness (vomiting/diarrhea). 

| Resting might be one of the more difficult aspects of a fitness program but make sure you rest while you can.  Sleep is important and allows your body to recover from hard physical activity.  If you are not well rested, your workouts will be less productive and focused.  Also, if you are working out, your body needs time to recover so allow it to heal.  It is hard for many when they have set goals and committed to a fitness regimen to embrace rest, but if you do not, you will likely injure yourself and have further setbacks. 

General wellness also includes staying on top of medical issues.  Do not put off dealing with check-ups and procedures because your quality/length of life might be altered, not to mention your survivability.  Some issues, such as Type II diabetes, might be controlled through diet and exercise and this might be helpful if there is a shortage of insulin or medical treatment.  Do not forget about your teeth either because hygiene will likely suffer with limited supplies of water and dental care products.  Dental issues can range from horribly uncomfortable to fatal if neglected. 

Physical fitness cannot be stressed enough for survival because a grid-down, chaotic world will involve a level of physical exertion that our culture is no longer accustomed to doing.  Simply put, when the SHTF, life will become more physical.  Manual labor, cardiovascular-based transportation, moving heavy weights, and even engaging in physical confrontations will be daily life.  Do you remember doing an activity as a child that was so easy, but now leaves you sore the next day, like raking leaves?  That is because we do not perform such work anymore, but a survival world is much different so start getting fit now.  You will not wait until doomsday is here to get supplies or training and I seriously doubt you will get four months to prepare your body when the SHTF.

I remember studying karate as a child and watching obese people learn the skills to advance through the ranks, but they were easily winded in the simplest, minimal contact movements or sparring matches.  They were on the right track by learning the skills to defend themselves, but would stand little chance in a real physical confrontation due to being out of shape.  I have been in numerous unarmed situations as an adult who was in very good shape and found myself completely exhausted at the end and my life did not depend on winning nor were my attackers giving it everything they had.  Self-defense preparation is a must, but to be truly effective, you must be fit.   In addition to getting in shape, make sure your self defense training safely embraces contact sparring, ground defense, and scenarios to better prepare yourself for the real thing.  Self defense is a big business so make sure that you are training for a fight and not just earning belts and certificates.

Getting from point A to B might be a rude awakening for many in a doomsday world.  Most people only walk, run, hike, swim, or bike for leisure/exercise and it is not usually done for extreme distances or in harsh conditions.  Preppers have their bug-out bags and plans, but have they walked ten plus miles per day with their gear on with little sleep, scarce food, harsh weather, rough terrain, and in a hostile environment?  Probably not in most cases.  That gear is not that heavy standing in your living room, but walk fifteen plus miles through the aforementioned conditions and away from your former life and see how heavy it gets.  Do not underestimate how much heavier water-logged gear is either.  If you have never ran a mud run type race such as the Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder, ask someone who has.  Your light shoes, clothes, and body can quickly absorb mud and water making running, climbing, and negotiating obstacles much more challenging.   

So why not prepare for life and survival at no cost?  No need to live in the gym or become a marathon runner, unless you want to.  Remember that health is about balance; if you only run, that hike with all of your gear, physical confrontations, or moving heavy objects might disappoint you.  By the same token, if your only focus is packing on freakish muscle with no cardiovascular exercise, your endurance and speed will be sacrificed. Though many pieces of exercise equipment are useful, you do not have to have anything other than a decent pair of running shoes to be fit.  I recommend some dumbbells, a kettlebell, and a pull up bar, but what you use is completely up to you and your goals.  To be fit, you need muscular/cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, speed, agility, and flexibility training.  Do not skip the flexibility portion because it drastically decreases your risk of injury and increases your blood flow.  A combination of weights, calisthenics, variable cardio, and flexibility exercises are best.  There are many programs such as Crossfit and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that embrace these concepts with the goal to increase overall fitness and work capacity.  Also look into kettlebell programs; they are very effective and efficient.  Below is a sample cross training program:

  • Sunday – rest
  • Monday – a HIIT weights program or Spartacus and sprints
  • Tuesday -  30 minute interval run and pull ups
  • Wednesday – Calisthenics (dips, abs. push ups, pull ups, etc.) and bike ride
  • Thursday – Distance jog
  • Friday – Weights
  • Saturday – Ruck march and chin ups

This can be modified and is just a sample. Again, do not forget to stretch and you know your level of fitness so do not over do it.  Challenge yourself but do so safely.  Also, be aware that working out to be fit and for vanity are not the same thing.  You can be skinny and weak; you can have huge muscles, but be unable to pull your own body weight or perform work for extended periods of time. 

Your workouts do not have to be intense and dreadful.  Put that bug-out bag on and go hiking.  Add some land navigation, tactical movements, first aid scenarios, or whatever field craft training to keep it interesting, maximize training opportunities, and get in shape.  For those who have never “rucked” a long distance, be sure to educate yourself on footwear and taking care of your feet.  I suggest reading Get Selected by Joseph Martin or talking to an infantry soldier.  Wood chopping/splitting is a tremendous workout and builds not only muscle, but a good supply of fuel too.  Shooting can even be tiring.  Anyone that has done extensive firearms training can attest to the fact that a normal firearm gets very heavy after a while.  If you train the way you will fight (and you should), shooting can be taxing.  Make sure you are safely practicing shooting while moving, from different positions, behind cover, and transitioning to other weapons.  You might be surprised to find soreness and bruising from a simple day at the range.  Also, practice shooting and reloading one handed and with each hand because you might be wounded/injured and survival is at stake. 

So you are ripped like Sly Stallone in Rambo II and you have the endurance of a triathlete, but how tough is your mind?  Mental conditioning is frequently overlooked but is crucial to being prepared.  First, be firm in your faith.  No matter what you believe, the afterlife is there no matter the state of our world.  Decide what you can live with in a chaotic world.  Otherwise decent people will do the unthinkable and you must decide now, not when the time comes, that you will survive and defend yourself.  Your faith might be all you have when face disaster, illness, or whatever else this world can throw at you. 

Second, your mind will tell you that you are exhausted long before your body actually is.  When I was in training some years ago, we were at the mercy of our instructors and training ceased when they decided it did.  We would go for runs and have no problem maintaining the pace for whatever distance until they would slow us down to a walk when approaching our barracks.  Just when we thought we were finished, the run would resume and it defeated us mentally.  During the same training, we would frequently be required to perform push ups.  When the order was given, you never knew how many you would have to do so in essence, ten push ups were as hard as 100 because the mind is defeated.  The same guys that were struggling at fifteen could have easily dropped down and knocked out fifty if they would have known the limits.  One way to address this is to train for time instead of repetition or distance in regard to calisthenics or running.  It is often more beneficial to do one minute of push ups (resting when needed in the up position) rather than say thirty.  I am not saying numbered repetitions or set distances do not have their place, but five sets of twenty-five push ups is probably less effective than five one minute sessions, even if you rest.  Another effective way to improve fitness and mental toughness is through body weight muscle failure exercises and this means exactly what it says; perform the exercise until you physically cannot, not just until you are tired and want to stop.  Naturally, this must be done with care to avoid overtraining and injury.  The discipline it takes to maintain a fit body will lead to a healthy mind and the survivor’s mindset can be the difference between life and death.

Lastly, any survival situation will be stressful.  One must learn to manage stress now to not only improve overall health, but to increase your chances of survival.  Diet and exercise typically fight stress, but have you ever seen a person who has a highly stressful life and cannot shed belly fat despite an intense fitness plan and sensible diet?  That is likely attributed to stress and its by-product cortisol.  Stress causes stored fat and clogged arteries in otherwise healthy people so take time to manage it.  A tool to prepare you mentally against stress when the SHTF is rehearsal and repetition, muscle memory as many people call it.  When you are in danger or in some other high-stress environment, your body enters fight or flight mode.  When this occurs, you will find that your pupils dilate, you cannot grab things as easily, breathing increases, and a host of other things.  This is why you must practice so that when it is real, the training takes over.  You do not want to hesitate when it counts!  Applying a tourniquet in a climate controlled classroom on your friend who is laughing at your mistakes is different then when you are in tired, hungry, and in hostile/harsh conditions when someone’s life is in the balance.

Educate yourself about all aspects of wellness from good, balanced sources that emphasize vitality and avoid drastic, gimmicky trends.  There are numerous great works available to strengthen your mind as well and  I recommend reading On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman, A More Elite Soldier: Pursuing a Life of Purpose by Chuck Holton, and works about Prisoners of War or Medal of Honor recipients. 

In conclusion, being prepared requires planning, skill, and having the necessities to survive.  Being fit and healthy, both mentally and physically are no less important.  Those  trees will not cut themselves down and fall into neat little stacks on their own.  The bag and all of the items you thoughtfully placed in it will not bear the burden of its own weight to get you to safety.  Seeds will not till the ground for you.  TEOTWAWKI will be a rough, physical, and stressful place.  Make sure that you truly prepared.

I am a pretty avid reader of the survivalblog.com site. I also follow many of the other sites on prepping and survival that are out there. After a few months, it becomes pretty obvious which sites lean towards sensationalism, conspiracy theories, couch prepping, and even sales and marketing. The problem lies in the fact that with the mainstream media is piling onto the prepping bandwagon and this increases the amount of information available. Some of the information available today is of little use and some of it is outright dangerous. With that in mind, I will make the suggestion that you take a little walk.
In this case I am referring to Get Home Bags (GHB) and Every Day Carry (EDC) kits. I have seen numerous kits advertised for sale or personally built. Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly support the idea of EDC and GHB. My concern is with what is contained in many of these kits. Some of them seem to be created with just a bunch of stuff, and not designed with a specific goal in mind. Some of the items are useful, but many times they are mishmash from the junk drawer. Other times they are a collection of cheaply barely functional gear.

When you build an EDC kit, have a specific goal in mind. Something reasonable may be “to get me to my home after a natural disaster (earthquake, fire, EMP)”. I am not dictating the emergency you are planning for. Make it coherent and plausible for your situation. I am also not dictating what you put in it, but make it useful for the goal, or leave it out. More crap just to fill an empty spot in your kit can be counterproductive. Put in gear that is useful. I mean gear that you use fully (consistently with success). If you get a new piece of gear, practice with it until you are proficient.

After you build your kit, test it. If it is designed to get you home, then use it to get you home. This is what a buddy of mine and I did to test our Get Home Bags (GHB). We picked a Friday with good weather (ideal conditions) and decided to walk home. We had our GHB packed and at work for several weeks prior. We made sure our wives knew (and yes they thought we were crazy) and set out after work.

The trip was approximately 18 miles through suburban, light industrial and commercial areas on the edge of a mid-sized city. We planned to stick to roads and sidewalks, and our path took us through some less desirable parts of town, but nothing outright dangerous. The worst parts of town would be traversed before dark. The weather was clear and the temperature was about 75 when we started.

My GHB consisted of a small well-used day pack from a discount store. It contained a small first aid pouch (antiseptic wipes, gauze, band aids, and ointment), two small candles, cotton balls, hand sanitizer, lighter, chap stick, Leatherman multi-tool, $5 cash, $5 coins, $3 in small change, sunglasses, bandanna, a gallon bag of homemade trail mix, a ball cap, a flannel shirt, a pair of socks and two 16 oz. bottles of water. I changed from steel toe boots to a pair of quality running shoes.

I expected we would cover between two and three miles per hour. We left at 3:30 PM so I was projecting we would arrive around 10:30. We each obtained a walking stick at the first opportunity. This provided a walking aid, and a way to fend off aggressive dogs. It is not exactly a bad item for two legged critters either, although an adult walking through town is a bit more conspicuous when they carry a stick (it was not a club).
The first part of the trip was fairly rural with no sidewalks. We spent most of the time walking on the road. Our pace was moderate since we were fresh, but we decided to not push too hard early. We covered just over a mile in the first 20 minutes, and decided to take a five minute break every hour. This would keep us at a pace of about 3 mile per hour.

After two hours we had covered just over six miles and decided to stop for dinner. There was a convenient place to sit, and we were in a fairly busy commercial area. Security was not a major concern, but there were several transients in the area. We did a fairly good job of blending in, and did not appear to attract attention. Plain clothes and lightweight (used looking) kit helped with this, in my opinion. We shared some trail mix and granola bars (from my buddies stash) and water. One bottle of water was gone at this point (my buddy had a Camelbak).

The next leg of the trip was a little more challenging. The less affluent neighborhoods we went through at this point had no sidewalks. We were following a fairly busy thoroughfare, so walking in the street was not safe. The area also had hills that were not steep enough to notice while driving. They were not strenuous, but you could tell they were there when you had to walk up them.

Three miles later the second bottle of water was gone. We were halfway home and I was out of water. This brought up another problem, where to relieve myself. The area was too populated to just use a bush and not attract the attention of law enforcement. We opted for a small gas station that also required a purchase for use of the facilities. I purchased a 32 oz. Gatorade. Lesson learned: You will probably need much more water than you think, under ideal conditions.

We made another three miles and decided to take a longer stop. We were slightly ahead of schedule and our feet were less than happy. This stop included an airing out of the feet (dude, don’t sit upwind) and a change to clean dry socks. The socks were invaluable. We probably should have been changing them every two hours to properly care for our feet.

The next portion of the trip was fairly pleasant (other than tired feet and calves). The sun was going down along with the temperature, and we were in a better part of town with sidewalks. The difference in walking on a sidewalk as opposed to a grassy roadside is amazing. We even took the time to cross the street if it meant we could get on a sidewalk for an extended period.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. The final three miles required a lot of willpower on my part. My buddy had a flashlight, and that was helpful when there were no sidewalks, but not essential. It did make us more conspicuous. I probably would not have used it in a bad neighborhood.

To sum up the trip, more socks would have been nice and I needed more water. Two liters was just about right for my buddy. Lip balm was essential. I had trail mix left over, and he had a few snacks left also, so food was not an issue. We ended with a few blisters, but nothing too bad. Cold weather or rain would have changed the story entirely (that would have been miserable). A truly hot day would have been extremely difficult.
Looking at EDC kits I see a lot of these things packed with fishing line and hooks, a tiny magnifying glass, survival instructions. They seem to be filled with small, but only marginally useful, items useful in specialty situations or just to fill the kit up.

I fish quite a bit, and I have a hard enough time catching fish with a rod and reel. I can’t imagine the time and effort it would take to catch a fish by hand with 8 feet of line and small hook. Besides that, every minute sitting there fishing is not getting me to my destination.

I once started a fire with a magnifying glass. It required a 4 inch glass and the help of my buddy, and it still took nearly an hour in good conditions. I am no expert, so maybe some people could do it with a 1 inch glass. The problem is that for this purpose size matters. The smaller glass will not collect enough light to generate the heat required for ignition very quickly. For this reason I do not pack a magnifying glass in any of my bags. It does not fit my skill set and therefore does not fill a need.

I am getting at the following point. Learn to use the items before they go in your kit. The things you are able to use, and fill the purpose for your kit, are the essentials. These are the things you need. I will tell you right now, you need water. Who cares if it doesn’t fit in your small metal tin box, you need it. You need it more than just about anything except air. If you need to pack something in your small tin, then pack a way to purify more water.

Some sort of knife or multi-tool is another essential item in my opinion. This item will open up another world of tools and items you can fabricate. Pack a knife you use and are comfortable with. My knife is always in my pocket. It was a free gift, but probably only cost about $10. I don’t care if it is not a high dollar name brand unobtainium alloy. I like it and more importantly, I use it constantly.

From this point we start moving down the road to luxuries. By this, I mean we could have completed the trip without a fresh pair of socks. We would have been more uncomfortable doing it, but I am pretty confident we would have made it. On the other end of the spectrum, we could have packed 5 extra pairs and changed every hour. To be honest, that would not have been worth the extra space and weight. There is a balance between need and luxury. This is a personal aspect that only you can answer, but the only way for you to truly know is to take a little walk of your own. In any case you will be much better informed, and you will know what you, and your kit, are capable of.

A few  years ago I found I had cataracts in both eyes.  Not too bad -- I could still see to drive and shoot -- but enough that open sights became more difficult and oncoming headlights a bit of a problem at night.  Slowly they got worse, until I was 20/80 in my left eye and not much better on the right (shooting!) side.  Like many folks I am reluctant to get treatment until it's absolutely necessary.  I put it off, in part because getting the new flexible lenses cost $2,500 more per eye than insurance would pay.  Finally I realized that sophisticated procedures like this might not always be available.  I decided to get it over with.

I had my left eye done in December.  Within a week I was 20/15 in that eye.  I still use readers for fine work up close, but from arm's length to forever, I have better vision than I have had in years.  The first thing I noticed was how bright the world is.  I had my right eye done yesterday.  I am already seeing better than before the operation, although it will be a few days before we know how much better.  The doctor says there is every reason to expect comparable results, 20/20 or better.

The bottom line is that many of us are probably putting off operations that would improve our quality of life immediately because they are not yet 100% essential.  I suggest that you bite the bullet and take care of them while you still can.  TEOTWAWKI is not the only thing that could soon put these treatments out of reach. - Randy in Maine

Hi Jim;
To tie in with your recent comments, the excellent Western Rifle Shooters blog linked to an article on refugees.

Though the article was brief, it had some good information. While the goal is to never become a refugee in the first place, in some cases it cannot be avoided and it pays to know what to do in such a case.

I was particularly inspired by the links to some "off-road" gear carriers. The first is a home-built model and is quite simple while the other is a German-engineered commercial model.

I have given a good bit of thought into what I would do in a true grid-down situation, such as EMP, when motorized transportation is not available. Our retreat is about 40 miles away if accessible via freeway, but about 60 miles if back roads are taken. While many of our supplies have been pre-staged at the retreat (where someone lives year-round), there are things we will need to take with us should we have to Shank's Mare it.

For this reason, I do have a two-wheeled bicycle trailer that has been modified to be attached to a backpack frame, placing the weight on the hips and shoulders. After seeing the aforementioned German model, I have some new ideas I want to try. A homemade version of their design would be very straightforward to build.

However, this is a last-resort option. If the time comes to bug out, I'm planning on driving first, biking next, and walking only if there is no other choice. Thanks, - Jason R.

Good Day, Mister Rawles.

Thank you as always for the good work you do. I was trawling around on the interwebs and came across this DIY suppressor solution. This may be old news to some but for everyone living in nations where suppressors are banned (or far too heavily regulated) then this is absolutely vital viewing.

The fitting displayed is what would be registered as the suppressor in this instance, but I can think of a few particular plumbing fittings at the local hardware store that I might be needing in the near future. For home renovations of course...

Kind regards, as always. - The Apple Islander

JWR Replies: Readers in the United States are warned that failure to pay the $200 Federal transfer tax could result in an eight year felony prison sentence. Don't risk becoming a felon and losing your right to own guns and your right to vote for life. Pay the silly tax.

G.G. flagged this: Bank’s idea for tackling the financial crisis: six bicycles. The article begins: "The Bank of England considered buying bicycles so that its officials
could continue to move around in the event of a full-scale financial meltdown, the former City minister disclosed last night."

San Bernardino seeks bankruptcy protection: San Bernardino, facing the possibility of missing payroll, becomes California's third city in weeks to authorize a bankruptcy filing.

FHA bailout inches closer – FHA defaults surge 26 percent while upping mortgage insurance premiums to make loans more expensive. Foreclosure starts outnumber foreclosure sales 3 to 1.

RBS sent this: Wall Street's latest sucker: Your hometown

Also from RBS: Rising costs push California cities to fiscal brink. Throughout the state, local governments are slashing services to avoid bankruptcy. For some, it's too late. [JWR's Comment: Just wait until the Fed is forced to abandon ZIRP. When interest rates rise, then the real pain will begin. Tangentially, for some insight just compare San Bernardino's lavish glass-encased City Hall building with these humble structures, in Iowa. FWIW, I'm not reading many news stories about municipal bankruptcies in Iowa...]

Items from The Economatrix:

Moody's Downgrades Italy Two Notches

Housing Is Not Out Of The Woods Yet:  Former FDIC Chief Bair

New Foreclosures Jump 9% in 2Q

How Your Bank Account Could Disappear

More evidence of the mainstream's acceptance of survivalism (or at least "prepping"): the National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP) is offering this class: Survival of Societal Collapse

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Part of Cody (Wranglerstar)'s new do-it-yourself video shorts series: Leatherman Wave Secret Function Revealed. This is a great series.

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New reporter? Call him Al, for algorithm.

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The commander of the military’s new U.S. Cyber Command said digital attacks are evolving from disrupting network functions to destructive strikes.

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Loose Lips Sink Ships. Here is some quite good OPSEC advice from an Air Force wife that has aa few implications for preppers: Six Surprise OPSEC Don’ts

"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [saying],
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." - Psalm 2:1-3 (KJV)

Friday, July 13, 2012

The two procedures that make up Field Dentistry are fillings and extractions. Field Dentistry is defined as providing your own dental care when there is no other way; probably due to collapse of our health care system along with the rest of our fragile economy and civilization due to the disastrous economic policies of our “leaders”, a terrorist attack, or some other reason.

Fillings can be easy or complicated depending on the size of the cavity and the surfaces of the tooth that are involved.  Starting with the simplest- a one surface cavity in the chewing surface of the tooth, here is how it can be fixed.  A dental instrument called an excavator is used to remove decayed tooth and any debris that is in the tooth.  The instrument has small spoon shaped ends that have an edge and will remove decay easily, but sound tooth structure is harder and the difference is easily detected after a little experience.  Once the decay is removed, a filling is placed.  This is where the difference in Field Dentistry and office dentistry is pronounced.  In an office under a controlled environment, a composite filling that will last many years can be placed.  This requires the ability to etch, dry the surfaces, place bonding agent, light cure it, place composite, light cure it, and finish it down using the drill to shape it to match the bite of the patient.  These steps are close to impossible to accomplish in the field without electricity.  There are battery powered devices for part of the procedures mentioned, but not for all.  If the cavity is not kept dry during most of the steps, the composite won’t bond and the filling will either come out or leak and get decay around it very soon.

Here is what can be done in Field Dentistry.  The cavity is dried with a cotton pellet.  A Temporary Filling Material (TFM) such as Cavit is placed in the cavity using a Plastic Filling Instrument.  The instrument is made of stainless steel.  It got its name when the first white fillings were called plastic fillings.  The instrument has a paddle shaped end which is used to carry the TFM to the cavity and placed by putting the TFM in by pushing it into the cavity with a simultaneous wiping motion against the edge of the cavity.  The TFM has a consistency before setting similar to toothpaste but a little more viscous.  It is sticky and will stick to the instrument instead of the tooth without the above mentioned technique.  The other end of the Plastic Filling Instrument has a flat condensing end and is used to make sure there are no voids in the material by condensing it into the cavity.  It is also used to shape the TFM to match the original anatomy of the tooth surface.  The margins where TFM and tooth come together are important and should be well adapted because any gaps here will reduce the quality of the filling and shorten its life.  Gaps increase the possibility of recurrent decay.  After the filling is placed, the patient bites and grinds shaping the filling to the patient’s bite so there won’t be any high spots.  After this is accomplished the TFM can be smooth by wetting your gloved finger in the patient’s salvia and rubbing it across the filling.  If you have a cotton swab, it can be wet and used the same way.  The patient should then wait at least an hour before chewing to allow the TFM to harden.  It hardens on exposure to moisture, so drinking liquids is OK, just no chewing.

Though TFM is not made to last nearly as long as composite fillings, its ease of placement and forgiveness of mistakes in placement make it a very good material for Field Dentistry fillings.  It could last about six months, and if small sometimes longer.  Cavities between the teeth are treated in a similar manner in Field Dentistry, but placement of the TFM will be more difficult.  TFM sticks to teeth well when soft, but it doesn’t have much adherence when set, so the shape of the cavity needs to help in retention of the cavity.

The best material for Field Dentistry fillings is a zinc oxide powder eugenol liquid material that sets much harder than TFM.  Directions that come with the kit are followed in measuring and mixing, then the material is placed like TFM.  It sets in a few minutes after mixing, so adjustment to the patient’s bite needs to be accomplished before it sets as much as possible.  Once it sets, if it is high and interferes with the patient’s bite, it must be shaped with an instrument called an Amalgam Carver.  This has a disc shaped end and a sharp pointed spade-shaped end and can be used to carve off any part of the filling that interferes with the patient’s bite.  If the filling is high, it can created worse problems than a cavity, causing excess pressure on the tooth, and also tooth grinding or clenching that creates pain in the TMJs (Temporomandibular Joints) both of which are worse that having a cavity.  THE TMJs are the joints right in front of the ears on both sides.  The zinc oxide-eugenol mix is a little more technique sensitive, so the best Field Dentistry kit will include both it and TFM along with the necessary instruments.

Having the correct materials and instruments and knowing how to use them are critical in effective Field Dentistry.  Dental School takes four years after college, but learning some of the basics is much better than having no idea of what to do when dental care is needed. The instruments mentioned above are stainless steel, the same as I use in my office, and can be autoclaved repeatedly.  A pressure cooker-canner makes a good autoclave. The excavator and amalgam carver can be periodically sharpened using a stone that is used to put a final edge on a knife blade, because like a knife they get dull with use and should be fairly sharp.  An excavator is sharp enough when it will carve off a little bit of fingernail when scraped across the flattest part.

Long after all filling materials are gone, teeth can be extracted when necessary.  We will be back to the level of dentistry of the nineteenth century when teeth were extracted because there was no alternative.  Extracting teeth should not be done with anything except forceps that are made for that purpose.  The shapes of the beaks may look like pliers, but they are different, and the difference is critical.  The forceps are made to grip the tooth as far down on the root as possible to give the best leverage.  Pliers and vise-grips will crush the tooth and break it off most of the time and should not be used unless they are all you have; but be aware of their limitations.

I have been in dental practice for 31 years.  I will have at a minimum for Field Dentistry in my kit the following:  1) Basic Kit for fillings, re-cementing crowns and bridges, and treating some toothaches, 2)Extraction Kit with three forceps, a curette, and an elevator, and 3) a Zinc oxide-eugenol kit for fillings.  These are compact in their roll-up nylon holders and even in a mobile situation on foot they won’t take up much room in my pack or weigh too much to carry with me.

If you have ever had a toothache, you know how important it is to have it treated.  The pain is so intense it interferes with camp security and even regular camp chores.  Don’t neglect Field Dentistry in your preparations.

Instruction on extracting teeth is planned for a future article.

Prepping for emergency situations is always a difficult task, especially when considering various limitations that you and your family may have (including financial restraints, locale features and challenges, health of your household members, your network of family and friends-or a lack of a network, etc.)  As for my wife and I, we have the added burden of preparing with a loveable, huggable special-needs child in mind.  As the numbers of children with physical, mental, and/or neurological difficulties continue to rise in this country, a growing number of preppers will need to consider the issue of sustaining a special-needs child through difficult times.  Even those that do not have special-needs children in their care may feel compelled to aid a relative or friend who does care for such a child when the time arises.   While I base many of these ideas upon the needs of my family and child, they may be helpful in starting or perfecting your own preparation plans to assist your special-needs child during times of peril.

In this article, I use the term “medical professional” to refer to persons that provide medical & healing services.  This may include, but is not limited to, medical doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, nutritionists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, pastors, massage therapists, and/or anyone else that is competent in treating and healing the human body and mind.  I also use the term “medicine” to refer to pharmaceuticals, vitamins, minerals, supplements, foods, and/or other resources that can treat or heal the human body and mind.   As a believer in medical freedom, I advocate for the right of a parent or authorized caregiver to treat their child with the medical services of his or her choice that is in the best interest of the child’s health and well-being.

Preparations to Consider for the Child

First, the parent or caregiver of a special-needs child must be able to comprehend how to treat the issues that the child faces when a medical professional is not available.  In treating our child, we looked to find medical professionals who (a) were not married to “traditional” western medicine, but looked to a number of healing methods, (b) willing to listen to our concerns, and (c) could explain to us the problems that our child faced.  These professionals, from the first visit, developed a plan with us that we could use to treat our child.   While we are not experts in medical treatment, they made sure that we understood enough in order to facilitate the healing process for our child.  If you or someone you know has no idea what to do in order to help your child during a time when a medical professional is not available, contact your child’s practitioner in order to set up such a plan.  It is also important to have this information available to others in case you are unable to provide the treatment yourself.

In addition, you need to stockpile any needed medical supplies and equipment that would help you execute the treatment plan for your child.  Of course, some medicines or supplies have a short shelf life or storage concerns that can make stockpiling difficult or impossible.  In such cases, it can help to consult with your child’s medical professional to develop alternatives supplies and/or equipment that can be stored and used in these situations.  While the alternatives may be less effective that the preferred medicine or medical supply, it can help the child maintain some normalcy until the preferred products are available again. 

Maintaining a strong immune system for your child would make the transition to an emergency situation easier.  Some special-needs children are more susceptible to infection and illness than normally developing children.  Eliminating unnatural “foods,” providing proper vitamins and minerals, and regular physical and mental activity can help prepare your child for potential diseases that may occur during or after an emergency.  There are various tests, some inexpensive, that can measure items such as your child’s nutritional levels, toxicity, and food allergies; these can be starting points to strengthening your child’s immune system.  There are also a number of medical professionals that are experienced in proper nutrition and supplementation for special-needs children.

Speaking of nutrition, you should also plan to meet the special dietary needs that your child may have.  In our own food storage, we only keep products that our child can also consume.  While this somewhat limits the variety and quantity of our foods (due to increased costs for these products,) we will not have to worry about him eating food from our storage that he is allergic or sensitive to.  It also ensures that there is a substantial amount of food available for him.  While this method of food storage may not be preferable or practical for all, you must ensure that your child has a sufficient amount and variety of food to survive during an emergency situation.  You may also consider growing foods that are earmarked for your special-needs child.  Being forced to feed your child food that sickens him or her may be worse than not feeding your child at all. 
Toileting of special-needs children must also be considered by the prepper.  Some special-needs children may not be toilet-trained and will require diapers.  This requires not only an emergency supply of diapers, but also means of diaper disposal, especially if there is no garbage collection available.  Other items to consider storing would be baby wipes (or some other method of cleaning waste from skin,) skin protectants such as oils or petroleum jelly, diaper rash treatments, and materials to eliminate diaper pail scents.

Grooming and bathing can also be a challenge for special-needs children in emergency situations.  Cleaning my child with a washcloth from a sink, for some reason, causes him to “freak out.”  He also has issues with water being poured on top of his head (making hair washing a challenge.)  If your child has challenges related to grooming and bathing in normal conditions, it would be beneficial to determine how to best approach the changes that may occur when there is no running water, no power, no hot water, etc.  If possible, practicing different methods of grooming and bathing ahead of time can help you determine the best courses of action to take when the situation arises.

You must also remember that your special-needs child is still a child.  As such, you should plan to have games and activities that he or she can play despite the circumstances of the emergency.  This can include books, board games, music from battery-powered radios or MP3 players, coloring books, or anything that can bring a smile to your child.  Consider in advance what materials you would need, including those things that can be used in a no or low-power situation.  If possible, consult with your child; he or she can even help you pick out those things that can bring a smile in an otherwise miserable situation.

Preparations to Consider for Yourself and Your Household

In preparing for your child’s needs during emergency situations, you must also plan for how your special-needs child can affect you and your other family members (and vice-versa.)   The family dynamic can change during these times.  Your family may move to a new location.  Other persons may come to live with your family.  A prominent family member may be forced to leave the home due to other obligations (such as military orders.)  Tragically, one or more family members may themselves become incarcerated, incapacitated, missing, or dead.  Special-needs children may have reactions to certain people either being in the home or away from the home.  Some special-needs children have difficulty adjusting to new situations or surroundings.  While it is difficult to adequately plan for these scenarios, discussing these issues with your child, spouse, family members, medical professionals, and others that can provide informative advice may help you become mentally prepared to assist your child through these and other potential changes.
Your plan for operational security should include the potential actions of your special-needs child.  Our child screams whenever he is happy.  He screams whenever he is upset.  He is difficult to keep quiet and still, even when he thinks he is being quiet and still.  Plan for ways to maintain operational security, even if it may be an inconvenience or stressful to your child.  Please note, I am not advocating any forms of abuse; however, you have an obligation to ensure the safety of your family, including your child when the situation warrants.  Think about and discuss with other household members what needs to be done when dangerous situations require hard decisions to be made.  Be sure to consider the potential consequences of the actions that you may take to maintain operational security.

I’ll be honest: Raising a special-needs child is very stressful during normal times.  When the situation becomes abnormal, our stress level will elevate, no matter how prepared we may be.  Caring for someone who needs a higher level of care may cause a caregiver to direct a higher level of frustration towards that child than is warranted.  This is something that you should prepare for both mentally and spiritually.  Consult with your spouse, relatives, or other potential caregivers for respite time during emergencies.  Have times of prayer and spiritual reflection.  Write down your thoughts and feelings.  Be open to others about how you are feeling; don’t be afraid to talk about what is going on inside of your mind.  If you come to a point of wanting to harm your child, whether physically or mentally, do what it takes to remove yourself from the situation.

In Conclusion

This is by no means a plan that meets the need of many that care for children with special-needs.  I do hope that it can be of assistance for those who may not have considered what actions to take during emergency situations, or at least provides points to ponder upon.  Hopefully I can learn from the tips, ideas, and suggestions of others as well.  Please feel free to provide this information not only to those who care for special-needs children, but also to medical professionals, teachers, and others who encounter them.   The better that we parents are prepared, the better the outcome will be for our children when we do encounter a life-changing event.

Mr. Rawles,
While trying to automate my Google Earth into an offline cache, I found this blog.
As it turns out, this man has described ways to load several types of maps offline, including topo maps and Google Earth.
To download Google Earth offline, you will need software from a companion site (free to use, $20 to donation) called Dr. Regener
I am now in the process of creating high resolution offline Google Earth caches that can be placed onto an external thumb drive and viewed as needed without access to the Internet. - Dan in Florida

Hi Mr Rawles,
Another tactic used by house burglars is to break in to your car.  They will steal your garage door opener and your registration.  They clip them together for identification.  Then a few days later when your car is gone they drive up, open your garage door, enter, close the door and break in to your home.  Unseen, they can load up and leave.  We found this out when our car was broken into. They dumped the glove box for the paper work, and didn't take the radio.  Luckily they didn't find the garage door opener.  When we reported the crime the police filled us in on what was going on.  Now we keep the garage door openers with us.

Another trick on the garage door is to make a hole in the door, then reach in with a stiff wire [with a hook formed on the end] to pull the door's emergency release cord.  The easy fix for that is to cut the cord so there is no handle on the end.

Have a good day. - Karl G.

Hi Jim,
Just finished reading the post on extending battery life.  The writer hit it on the head when he talked about pulse charging batteries. As a matter of fact there is a company out of Hayden, Idaho (in the American Redoubt) which makes microprocessor-controlled desulphating battery chargers.  John Bedini has been designing these chargers for many years, and has now made them commercially available.  His company is called Energenx.
I have three of his heavy duty chargers for use on Trojan batteries. The chargers have a charge cycle and a desulphate cycle where they charge and discharge several times to bring the life back to the battery.  There is a lot of research behind his patented process.
As long as the battery is not physically damaged, and the specific gravity cell to cell is close to the same, then these chargers will restore life to your battery bank. Trojans are notorious for the center cell on the 6 volts dying first, and it has restored several of mine. - T.C. in The Pacific Northwest

The Cato Institute investigates: Where Are The Libertarians? Predictably, the American Redoubt States ranked well. (Thanks to Joe W. for the link.)

   o o o

Cougars Are Making a Comeback in America

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We recently got our first set of Jarbox Totes from Pantry Parutus. What a clever invention! These are sturdy and stackable, and even American-made. I'm sure that we'll be getting a lot of use out them. The only problem is that now I can see that I need to order three or four more sets...

   o o o

I hope that you get your storage corn meal squared away, before prices skyrocket: Disaster Declared in 26 U.S. States as Drought Sears Midwest. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

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A snippet of conversation from the Rawles Ranch dinner table:

Avalanche Lily: "Our new batch of hens is starting to lay."

#3 Son: "How can you be sure?"

Avalanche Lily: "The eggs are smaller, and they are greenish."

#3 Son: "Oh so, those must be from Araucanas or Americanas, right?"

Avalanche Lily: "They're Araucanas."

Jim: "If we were real survivalists, then we'd be raising Sarah Conners."

"The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I will be the keynote speaker via teleconference this coming weekend at Charlotte PrepCon. This is an event for North Carolina and South Carolina preppers. The conference will be held on July 14, 2012 in Ft. Mill, S.C. (near Charlotte, N.C.) Phone: (800) 704-1862 for details.


Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Many preppers believe that batteries should play a prominent part in their preparations. For a variety of reasons, they are probably correct in that assumption. From what I have read on this blog they also generally believe that their batteries will reach end of life (or at least have a greatly diminished capacity) after 3-5 years. This is understandable but not necessarily correct. Since deep cycle batteries are not cheap its also an expensive assumption. This submission deals with how to extend the useful life of various types of rechargeable batteries.

There will be an emphasis on DIY [from very simple to complicated, so just pick your level ...] and sustainability. I believe that there will not be a quick path out of the troubles before us. Whether society collapses overnight or in a more managed descent, historical time patterns suggest we'll be lucky to regain today's 'normal' (= go to store and just buy whatever you need) by 2020. In the meantime we may have to work with what we have on hand. So preppers should have an 'I am in it for the long haul' mentality. Along those lines: if I can build it, I can fix it! ... and help others in my community along the way with my knowledge. Let's use what little time we have left to prepare wisely.

First of all, creating your battery bank:

NOTE: This part only applies if you wire your batteries in parallel (i.e. create a 12V bank). If you wire them in series (24V or higher output) you can skip it. The best way to kill your batteries is wiring your bank incorrectly because the load will not be shared equally among batteries, leading to premature failure of the overstressed battery that will then start draining the good batteries in the bank. The correct way to wire a bank is easy to understand if you keep in mind that the full path current (inverter + to -) will take the route of least resistance. So we need to make sure that the wire length and number of connections are the same regardless of which battery the current goes through.

The following connection schemes (that I found on a UK web site which credited 'smileypete') achieve just that.
For two batteries:
1+ to 2+; 1- to 2-
Tap and charge bank through 1+ and 2- (or 1- and 2+) terminals

For three batteries:
Connect all + terminals to an external terminal with wires of equal size and length
Connect all - terminals to an external terminal with wires of equal size and length
Tap and charge bank through the external terminals

For fours batteries:
1+ to 2+; 1- to 2-; 3+ to 4+; 3- to 4- This effectively creates 2 blocks
1+ to 3+; 2- to 4- Tap and charge bank through 3+ and
2- terminals
or 1- to 3-; 2+ to 4+ Tap and charge bank through 2+ and
3- terminals

My 8 battery bank consists of 2 of these banks of 4 connected in parallel to the inverter through identical cables and I have noted no uneven discharge problems with my setup.

A word of caution:
With a bank of this size you will want to be very very careful when (dis)connecting cables, tightening nuts with metal wrenches, etc. A near zero resistance short will release far more energy than you care to deal with and can easily cause burns, fires and explosions. Also have proper fuses on all incoming and outgoing lines for the same reason.

The 'battery life' issue:
The problem with common battery life knowledge lies with what we are told about overcharging them. Overcharging is generally believed to bad thing ... and it is ... but not always ... and so we need to qualify the term overcharging. Overcharging a battery with too much CURRENT (amps) is ALWAYS bad: it will shorten your battery's lifespan, overheat the battery, boil off water, and can be dangerous if the battery or its surrounding area has venting problems. Overcharging with too much POTENTIAL (volts) is not necessarily a bad thing if the process is properly controlled. The good news is that this control is easy to implement.

About lead-acid batteries:
I am only talking about flooded cells here. Although I have read that gel and AGM types behave in the same way as flooded cells during (over)charging, I have no experience with them so I am not prepared to make generalizations at this point in time.

Maximum (dis)charge current:
People that have studied batteries more than me hold the opinion that limiting the current through a battery to its C20 rate is desirable since this will avoid overheating and does not shorten battery life expectancy in any way. This is true for both the charging and discharging process. A medium size deep-cell battery (T-1275 as example) is rated at 150 Ah. Its C20 current is therefore 150 / 20 = 7.5 Amps. Here we see an immediate problem because this means that we can safely draw only 12 * 7.5 = 90W from one battery. That's okay for LED lighting, a 12V fan and charging cordless tools but little else. So we need to make a bank by connecting multiple batteries together. My 8 battery setup has a 720W capacity which runs my (corded) power tools without me having to worry about stressing the batteries at all. I don't even worry if I connect a 1500W industrial vacuum cleaner or small welder to the inverter since I am still only discharging at C10 rates which won't impact a battery too much if it happens only once in a while. It also means that I can charge the bank at 8 * 7.5 = 60 Amps without stressing the batteries in it.

On commercial charge controllers:
Let's say you bought a 30 Amp charge controller to protect your battery and have it hooked up to a 150W solar panel and one T-1275 battery on a sunny day. The solar panel will put out about 10 Amps. This is within the 30 amp limit of the controller but above the battery's C20 rate (7.5 Amp), so you're happily reducing your battery's lifespan and the money you spent on the charge controller was a total waste of resources. Why a total waste? What about stopping the charging process when the battery is full?

The important voltages for lead-acid cells are as follows:
(A 12V battery has 6 of these cells in series, so multiply the numbers by 6)
1.75V empty
2.01V 50% charge
2.06V 75% charge
2.12V-2.15V full when resting (= at least 1 hour no charge/discharge applied)
2.4V full when charging
2.6V cell balancing voltage

On charging voltages:
If you connect a solar panel directly to a battery, the battery will clamp down the voltage of the solar panel to about 13-14V(max) and absorb all the solar energy in the process. If the battery's plates are fully charged, the additional energy will go into a process generally referred to as boiling. Is boiling a bad thing? Not necessarily and certainly not in stationary deep cycle batteries. You will need a certain amount of boiling to keep the electrolyte from settling. Your car battery doesn't have that issue if you drive through the odd pothole or across other bumps but for stationary batteries it is a real problem.

Secondly the boiling that occurs from potential (over voltage) is different than the boiling that occurs from high current. It sounds different (small bubbles instead of big bubbles) and doesn't boil off
the water. I am not sure what is being released but a marine battery that I bought at Wal-Mart (three years ago for stress testing) has been through many[short duration] boils and I have yet to add a drop of water to it as its cell's water levels are still as high as when it was new.

As you can see from the table above a 12V battery is fully charged (max capacity) at 6 * 2.4 = 14.4V. But there is one entry after that for cell balancing. This happens at 6 * 2.6 = 15.6V. In short cell balancing is fixing a bad cell by over potentializing it. Generally speaking if your battery's capacity drops, its because 1 cell has gone bad and drains the others. For a more detailed description you can google the term "cell balancing".

Cell balancing process:
Simply connecting a solar panel directly to a battery seems to accomplish this cell balancing (= restoring the battery's capacity) under the following conditions:
- battery is in decent shape = resting voltage reads 12.3V or higher.
- battery is not discharged during the process (i.e. you cannot use the battery)
- the process takes time; at least a few weeks if most days are sunny.

I told you that it was easy to maintain your batteries!

I 'bumped into' this process last winter when it was too cold to work in the yard. 1 bank of 4 T-1275 batteries was sitting at about 12.35V so I connected them to a 60W solar panel to avoid discharging them further and walked away. Six weeks later as temperatures started to rise I opened the battery box and found all batteries softly boiling. My volt meter showed 14.4V. I unplugged the solar panel and the next morning the resting voltage was 12.80V! Using the batteries this spring I noticed their capacity is much higher than it was last summer: no more instant collapse from 12.6V to 12.3V. What's most special is that I got the batteries used. They had spent the first three years of their life powering golf carts around a local golf course and were replaced because they couldn't get the job done any longer.

So lets do some math. At my elevation a 60W panel delivers about 3.5 Amps for a few hours on a bright sunny day in the middle of the summer and also on a sunny winter day with a fresh layer of snow on the ground. Spread over 4 batteries that is .9A per 150Ah battery. Which is barely a trickle charge for them and roughly 12% of their C20 capacity making it highly unlikely I would overcharge them even if left unattended. I think its most likely that the batteries were fixed by the high voltage generated by the solar panel. It is possible that this method works better in colder climates because my solar panel voltage is de-rated at -.5%/degree Celsius. This means that on a cold winter day it puts out 17% higher voltage than its rated capacity. For my panel that translates to about 20V in a closed circuit.

Coming back to charge controllers; it seems to me that as long as you keep your charging current below your battery's C20 rate by matching panel to battery, you cannot destroy (but only improve) your battery by applying the solar panel's full voltage to it. No need for a charge controller that cuts out at 14.4V, thereby eliminating the possibility to equalize your cells.

Under 'cell balancing process' I mentioned that the resting voltage of the battery should be 12.3V or higher. The reason for this is that batteries below that voltage cannot be restored to full capacity by just connecting them to a solar panel. Although beneficial, the voltage applied by the solar panel cannot reverse the process of battery plate deterioration called sulfating. So should we get rid of these batteries? Nope, at least not if you are a handyman. Sulfated batteries can be restored by a pulse charger, unless heavy bridging between the plates has taken place. If the [sulfation] bridges are too strong to break by shaking the battery, your best bet is to leave it there and find a replacement battery.

Pulse charger:
So what's a pulse charger? Essentially its an air-core magnetic coil that is pulsed with DC voltage. As the current through the coil is turned off, its magnetic field collapses and releases a short high voltage spike that will get the desulfating job done if you can capture it and send it into the battery. The size of the voltage spike is related to the size of the coil and the amount of power delivered by its power source. There is actually quite a bit of science involved if you want to optimize the design, but any coil/power source configuration will do something albeit at lower efficiency. Keep in mind that small coils cannot handle large batteries: they will create a surface voltage, but your battery has no capacity when you start using it.

So for large batteries (car batteries of larger) your pulse charger will need to be able to handle a decent amount of power. My current pulse charger's coil is made of a pound or so of magnet wire (10x 90' strands of 24GA magnet wire wound in parallel [low internal resistance] on a 4" high form). A smaller coil would not have the mass of copper required to generate pulses with enough energy content.

When I attached the charger made with this coil to a 30W solar panel (1.75 Amps) it worked just fine. When I connected it to a 60W panel (3.5 Amps) it never worked because the charger's switches were instantly zapped (power MOSFETs rated at 400V). Those switches have been replaced by 1000V parts and now everything works fine. The charger even managed to bring deep cell batteries measuring 11.4V and a 12V car battery indicating 4.5V back to life. If batteries get that bad, the initial charge takes several sunny days and a 60W panel to achieve and several charge/discharge cycles are required to get back to a reasonable capacity. For the 11.4V deep cell batteries I used 2 60W panels: one connected to the pulse charger and one connected to the battery. You need voltage levels to reach 13.8V - 14V in order to get battery capacity above 50%.

Charging a battery with 500-600V is dangerous indeed if you apply continuous current. However the coil's magnetic field collapses in less than 10 nanoseconds. So @ 12 kHz I am charging the battery for 12000 * 10 * 10-9 = .12 msec/second; giving it plenty of time to absorb/disperse the energy.

For the technically inclined handy man:
You can build your own pulse charger for $50-$100 in materials, depending what you have on hand. Following are its crucial parts:
- 5000uF capacitor to store energy from solar panel
- diode(s) between capacitor and coil input to force voltage spikes into battery (600V 30A ultrafast)
- diode(s) between coil output and battery (pos. terminal) to tap voltage spikes (600V 30A ultrafast)
- a wire connecting the capacitor's positive terminal with the battery's negative terminal (don't forget!)
- switch(es) between coil output and common ground (800V+ power MOSFETs, shorter fall time is better - I am using four switches to spread the load.
Stressed and hot semi-conductors and longevity do NOT go hand-in-hand.)
- heat sink for switch(es) - I salvaged one from an old desktop computer power supply
- MOSFET driver (UC2950 works for me)
- 555 timer or microcontroller to turn switches on/off @ 12 kHz ~50% duty cycle
(if you know how to write a simple BASIC program a microcontroller is the better option - picaxe 08M2 SoC's can be purchased for about $2/piece [www.techsupplies.co.uk] and programmed through a laptop's serial port using free-to-download software)

Will transistors work instead of MOSFETs? Yes, but not as well. Their fall times are usually measured in microseconds as opposed to nanoseconds for MOSFETs. The faster you can cut the current through the coil, the higher your voltage spikes will be.

BTW I did not come up with this design myself. Its adapted from postings in various alternative energy forums, mostly based on the work of someone who goes by the moniker Jetijs. Too bad a lot of people in those forums get hung up on chasing over-unity effects within their contraptions, which is next to impossible due to the small size of their builds. But we can still use their technical insights for other purposes.

Why use a microcontroller:
On my system I use a microcontroller for two reasons:
- When I make a mistake in the design its easier to fix a piece of software than to de-solder some components.
- This is still a work in progress: from time to time I get an idea based on what I see on my volt meter and I want to test that. Again its easier to adapt the software than to built a new circuit board. And if the idea doesn't work its simpler to delete the code than to try to reclaim parts from a now obsolete board.

As a result of the cumulative ideas, I have now a much more versatile charger than if I had to build it with a simple timer chip. For instance: On start-up the microcontroller tests its power source and loads an initial set of parameters based on the test results. If it realizes during operation that it picked the wrong set, it can fix that mistake. In order to optimally use the available power, the micro controller can vary the charger's duty cycle from 5-65% and it's frequency from 4-40 kHz as it tries to keep input voltage close to 17V when connected to a 60W panel, which seems to be the sweet spot for this combination. The idea is to try to create an optimal spike not just when the sun shines brightly but also under less favorable conditions or with different size panels. The charger just creates a different number of and/or smaller spikes per second.
Again, this was no grand design; its simply what the project evolved into to date.

For the not technically inclined:
A company called Energenx sells a charger called the rejuvenator. The underlying technology is close enough to what I described above that I expect them to work, though I haven't tried them. They are quite expensive and use a 110V outlet, but if they double the life of your battery bank it might be a worthwhile investment.

Dry-cell batteries:
So far I have only dealt with lead-acid batteries. However pulse chargers produce the same effects in dry-cell rechargeable batteries. Some claim success with alkaline batteries too, but I haven't seen that myself: increased voltage, yes, real sustained capacity, no. The technology seems to work with lithium cells too if you are careful with regards to voltage, but I have no lithium cells so I cannot speak from experience. Do not expect to recharge a laptop battery with it: you will probably zap the embedded electronics rendering the battery useless.

I am now using a pulse charger exclusively for my NiMH and NiCd batteries and it works very well. I should qualify that statement: for good quality batteries. Cheap Chinese batteries have about a 50% failure rate after a few cycles due to membrane rupture. On the other hand I have some NiMH from 2001 that are still in use. I was about to throw them away by the time I built my first pulse charger because they powered my cordless mouse for only about one day before dying. Then I put them in my pulse charger and now they run the same mouse for 4 to 6 weeks before they run out. I also found some Radio Shack NiCd batteries from the 1980s that are now doing duty again in garden lights with better results than some of the batteries shipped with new lights. Solar light batteries receive some pulse charger time during the winter months and some are now into their 5th season and still keep the LED going through the night, though you can't save them all.

Most notable is that the batteries stay cold during the charging process which helps to improve their life expectancy because heat is the biggest killer of small rechargeable batteries.

I am charging AA and AAA cells in sets of 4 to around 6V. On a nice clear day you can achieve this with a 1W solar panel if you charge one set at a time. For charging multiple sets simultaneously, use 3-5W panels as a minimum power source. 9V batteries should be charged to around 10.5V to reach full capacity. If you want to use your charger with larger panels it should monitor these voltage levels because it is relatively easy to zap dry-cell membranes if you put too high a voltage across them. A 1W panel has a hard time reaching 6V under the best of circumstances so no worries there.

A pulse charger for these batteries has the same parts and layout as the one described above but with much smaller/cheaper parts. The coil is a single layer of 24GA magnet wire about 4" high that uses a piece of 3" ABS pipe as coil form. An empty Coke bottle works great as coil form too, but avoid PVC as its too dense and impedes the magnetic field noticeably. The capacitor can be 100 uF, the diodes 100V 1A ultrafast or Schottky, the switch needs no driver or heat sink and can be something like an IRF510 (100V, 5A) if you use a 555 timer to drive it. With a microcontroller you should use an IRF520N or similar low input voltage MOSFET.

Will pulse chargers run from power supplies other than solar panels? Yes, I have run them from 12V and 24V batteries as well as laptop power supplies without problems. Pretty much any DC power supply works well since the large input capacitor stabilizes the supply if needed.

Would I normally consider buying a solar panel just to charge a battery? No way, still too expensive per kWh. But I expect supply chain problems to arrive before panel pricing gets much better than it is now and I want to avoid the darkest of the ages. When that day comes I need generating capacity at home, not at a distant vendor's place. For my location solar works better than other alternatives and I decided I might as well start using the panels now and know what to expect from them when it counts.

For the skeptics that feel the urge to write in about how and why all of this won't work: Please don't. I am fully aware that what I wrote goes against conventional wisdom. Which is why you need to replace your batteries every few years, so I can pick them up on the cheap (sometimes even for free) and restore and use them again. Many thanks for the opportunity. Especially when using a pulse charger you are using a totally different process when charging your battery than with a conventional charger as evidenced by a very different charging voltage curve and battery temperatures. I have built and tested all the setups myself and am simply reporting the results I have seen. This posting is meant to get word out to the preparedness community, hoping to help them a bit with their decision making and preparations.

For the rest of you: Take the worst battery (lowest resting voltage) from your bank and connect it to a 15-20W solar panel for a few weeks. [You can use a larger panel too as long as its output is less than your battery's C20 rate.] Then exchange it with the second worst battery in the bank. Keep repeating until you have rotated through the entire bank. Alternatively you can use spare batteries for the rotation. Then start the entire cycle again with the first battery if you want to keep your batteries in good shape. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

I want to warn and educate my fellow SurvivalBlog readers about a growing trend of people impersonating utility workers and other people in authority to gain entry to people’s homes.  My awareness of this was recently heightened when just such an attempt was made on my home against my wife. I was truly surprised, after all the talks we have had about security, just how unprepared she was for this situation.

Several days ago a man came to our door saying he needed to look at our gas meter. This man was driving a white pickup, which he had parked across the street, with an orange cone placed behind it. He was wearing a baseball hat, T-shirt, and cargo shorts with tennis shoes and was carrying some papers. He insisted that he had to come in and check the meter and the gas connections in the house. My wife informed him that there was no need as we had the gas removed from our house several years before.  This seemed to confuse him and he started to quiz my wife on when and how could she be sure. He said he still needed to check and kept placing his foot on the stoop as if he wanted to come in.  At this time a neighbor came out of their house and started to make a lot of noise to attract the workers attention and to let him know he was watching.

Now that the worker had a witness my wife said he seemed nervous and asked to check to see if there was a meter around back. He also asked if there was a dog or a gate.  My wife told him that he could check and he then went around the side of the house for a minute and then got in his truck and left.  She then messaged me at work to laugh at how stupid the natural gas person was since we did not have gas.

I realized this person was not with the gas company. I immediately called my wife back and told her to call the police right away and tell them what had happened. She also called the gas company and found out they had no one in the area. When speaking to the police operator they kept asking if the person who came to the door had on a red shirt indicating that this was not the first call they had received with this sort of attempt.

It is very interesting to note that with something as simple as an orange traffic cone and a piece of paper this fake worker was almost able to gain entry to my home and did not set off any alarms in my wife’s head. She had totally bought his story and was going along with it. I have no doubt that if this person had gained entry to my home a tragedy would have ensued afterwards. Gaining fast access to the interior of the home is the point to either case it for later robbery or to carry out some attack right then.  Another form of this scam is to trick the occupant of the house to follow the worker to the rear of the home and keep them busy in the back yard while a conspirator robs the interior of the home.

As preppers we spend a lot of time on OPSEC and not standing out and in this case it creates a chink in our armor. If this person had attempted an assault on my home it would have been over in short order, their slow approach allowed them to get a lot closer than they ever should have been able to. This person could not have found out I was an interesting target if they had checked my internet life or even observed my home for any period of time. They chose my home to attempt this simply because they drove by and saw my wife in the yard watering the garden, most likely, and the house did not stand out. They thought they had found an average suburban home to go after because that is what I wanted them to see. I had not realized that my front door represented, with just my wife present, such an obvious breach.

To clear this deficiency I have placed some subtle but necessary changes to the exterior. First is a simple beware of the dog sign. While I don’t actually have a dog, the fear of a dog is big demotivator to the type of person who wants to try these sorts of scams. They are looking for the easiest most readily available target they can find. Any sign that your house is not an easy plum to pluck and they will move on.
The second item is the addition of a camera at my front door. People who perpetuate these sorts of scams cannot stand to have themselves documented. The last thing they want is to show up on the evening news. Even a fake camera is a deterrent to them.  With the introduction of wireless cameras installing them around your house, with built in infrared abilities, can be accomplished for less than a $500 and be done in an afternoon. Exterior cameras are no longer the hugely bulky items they once were and have become common in neighborhoods on people’s homes. So while they do mark my house as being security conscious, they don’t stand out like a red flag that I am prepping.   The idea is to be just obvious enough scam artists and home invaders will steer clear of my home but not to stand out like a sore thumb.

I have upgraded my gates and my screen door. The exterior of my fences and gates are smooth and do not allow easy climbing and the gate latches tight from the inside and has no exterior latch. The Screen door has been swapped out for a locking screen door that is made of steel bars painted white to blend in. you can now open the door and have a grate between you and anyone at the door. Once again all carefully designed to blend in, but to make sure the right level of deterrent is presented so that the fake utility workers move on to easier targets.

The biggest changes are procedural. Having a standard way of dealing with visitors to the front door goes a long way in mitigating these dangers. To help SurvivalBlog readers with this threat I offer this Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for dealing with Utility workers when they present themselves. While I refer to utility workers I am also referring to any person who might appear at your door on any given day. Most criminals tend to stick with utility or alarm company workers, but even traveling missionaries should not be above suspicion. Criminals are looking to exploit the conditioned response in people with these roles so anything you might feel comfortable with is fair game to use against you.

  1. When anyone comes to your door do not open it for them right away. Observe them through the peep hole or the window. Ideally have a storm door, steel barred door, or other exterior barrier on your front door that is closed and secured to slow or stop any dash for sudden entry. You want to be able to close your door quickly on any attempted rush. A chain lock is a poor substitute for an exterior barrier unless very strongly attached to the frame and the door. You want to slow or stop the rush long enough to acquire a weapon and call for help.
  2. Ask the person at the door to step back from the door. Create a buffer between you and them before you open the door. Experience has shown that a legitimate door to door person will already do that as they are worried about dogs or other attacks coming from the door. Predators on the other hand will crowd the door as they are focused on getting inside.  This should be a clue as to the person’s intentions.
  3. If there is more than one person keeps both of them in sight and don’t allow them to split up or for them to split you up if you have more than one person with you.
  4. A legitimate utility worker or city worker will be wearing a uniform and have Identification with them. In most localities door to door vendors are also required to have ID. Ask for this ID. If they cannot present ID return inside of your home and call the police.
  5. If the person at your door does have ID have them wait while you check their ID. Call their office. Look up this number for yourself. Do not accept any number given to you by the person presenting the ID on a flyer or other printable material. Often these numbers are faked so that if you call them a co-conspirator at that number will vouch for them. By finding the number yourself you eliminate this chance and make it impossible for them to spoof the number.
  6. Do not give any information to the person at the door. Especially the number of people at home at the time. Also do not reveal any items such as weapons, alarms, or animals in the home. One of the major tricks for people casing homes to rob later is to pose as Alarm company technicians. They will offer a free security “check” to find out just how unsecure your home is and then use this information to rob you at a later date.
  7. Inspect their vehicles. Do they have the utility or other logos on them clearly marked? Are there tools in the vehicle? Legitimate workers are driving company vehicles and will be marked as such. Due to legal issues workers do not drive their own vehicles, especially city workers. They will have tools with them as their company won’t want them to have to make two trips to do work.  
  8. If the person is offering a service you might actually have use for schedule them to come back at another time of your choosing, preferably when more people will be around if you are alone. A legitimate business will return, a scam or stick up artist will not. Stick to your guns no matter how many limited time offers they dangle in front of you.
  9. Know your utility easements and where they run on your property. Do not allow workers into your backyard if all your easements are in the front.  You cannot stop a legitimate worker from reaching their proper easements but you can make them verify themselves. Have them bring the police or a supervisor to the scene before they start work.
  10. Take pictures. Take pictures of their vehicle and of the person. A person scoping out a house to rob will not come back if they know their now exists a link to the location. They are on your property or on a public right of way so you have a right to take pictures of them at any time.
  11. If the person is using the excuse of an emergency, such as a gas leak, to gain entry to your home demand that their police escort be present. In a real emergency of this nature they don’t send one guy with a traffic cone out to deal with it, there will be hundreds of responders to verify this person’s story.

Ultimately it boils down to the fact that, even if you called the person to your home, if you don’t feel comfortable ask them to leave or arm yourself and call the police. You have every right to question a person’s authority or right to be somewhere. Don’t let people push you around or try to bully you, Stand your ground.  It is far better to be perceived as rude and paranoid than to be perceived as an easy target.

The Problem
Sleep Apnea has been a recent topic in the blog.  My wife and I both use one of “the machines”.  And although it is true many people just simply cannot get use to using them, others like us can no longer get a good nap or full night’s sleep without one.

So, what do we do if some yahoo hits the pole in route to his (with your permission Mr. Rawles) “hid-e-hole in Idaho”. Our choices were to stay up all night waiting for the power to come back on or …. Nothing!  Sleeping without “the machine” is difficult and can be downright dangerous, stroke or heart attack being top on the list of things that can beset you.  

A Solution
We have found a work-around, a way to prepare for the eventuality of a power outage by purchasing a couple of Duracell DPP-600HD Powerpack 600 Jump Starter & Emergency Power Source units. Each unit will supply a couple nights’ sleep with our CPAP machines.  Our decision to buy two units instead of one “humongous” 100 + amp battery was twofold:  1. Portability - the 100 + amp batteries weigh a ton; the Duracell jump packs are very portable giving me the ability to move them around without help and 2. Redundancy - if one of the jump pack units goes south, we still have one unit left. 

The Product
The jump packs are equipped with an AM/FM radio, flashlight, jumper cables, and charge meter, 480 watt power inverter - all supported by a 28ah AGM battery. These mini power stations run both CPAP machines which represent our most important emergency power needs.

Most sleep apnea machines today are DC-powered and are sold with the required AC adapter for normal household use.  Plug in the CPAP manufacturer's [DC-to-DC] car adapter cable -- one end into the jump pack and the other into the CPAP machine -- and you’re in business for the night.  

Charging Scenarios
When the power comes back on, we plug our jump packs into the wall outlet to trickle charge – always read for the next power outage.  The built in charger will not overcharge the battery.  With the built-in jumper cable sockets, it is a simple task to plug in the cables and quickly recharge the batteries from an automobile or truck.

And in consideration of a TEOTWAWKI event we chose to construct a simple, portable solar charging station.  This solar solution includes a couple of good quality 50 watt solar panels, charger/regulator and the necessary wiring and connectors for off the grid charging capabilities.

One last suggestion:  More books Mr. Rawles.  Waiting for your next book is akin to subjecting fans to literary water boarding.  You must write faster!
Regards, - R. in Oregon  

"Bear" over at the TMM Forums mentioned: "I just ran into this over at 4x4ham.com. It's a short tutorial on how to use Google Earth to generate terrain profiles. In the context of ham radio, it can help you determine whether you can hit a repeater from a particular point or not. Also, if you are looking at a gulch property, you can determine where it can be seen from."

   o o o

C.D.V. sent this news: Freight train derailment, explosion in Ohio prompts mile-wide evacuation. C.D.V.'s comment: "One good reason to always have Bug Out Bags ready."

   o o o

Reader G.Z. recommended the book: Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe. This book validates my warnings about becoming a refugee in the aftermath of a disaster.

   o o o

Get plenty of exercise, but be careful, folks.

   o o o

Josh C. sent a link to video of the Redoubtable Pastor Doug Wilson in Moscow, Idaho: A Sermon to the Governor and Legislature of Idaho. Wilson is typical of Reformed pastors in the Inland Northwest. They aren't afraid to mention the government sphere from the pulpit.

"Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today." - Bruce Lee

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We've nearly completed setting up our more robust server. Thanks for your patience. Please continue to use (and bookmark) "www.SurvivalBlog.com" as your primary method to access the blog but make note of our NEW dotted quad address:

And, BTW, we are still in need of some mirror server space, both in the United States and offshore.


Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”- General George S. Patton.

Every general would tell you that planning is necessary, but our perfectly laid plans never end up working the way we think in real life situations with a nearly infinite amount of variables.  As an Army officer, I found Patton’s quote to be very true.  Unless you have all the time in the world, you are not going to be able to create the perfect plan to cover every possible contingency.  But you can certainly prepare for the greatest threats.  In operational terms, we call these the “most dangerous” enemy course of action (COA) and the “most likely” enemy course of action.  The threat is what drives the basis of your overall plan.

To give an example of how these enemy courses of action would differ, consider a martial law situation.  For the average citizen, the most likely enemy course of action by the government would be setting up checkpoints, restricting travel, and enforcing a curfew.  As an aside, I was the airfield “pusher” (or the officer that pushes forces and resources from the main base to the objective) for a martial law scenario where we rehearsed locking down San Antonio on three separate occasions with a few hundred soldiers and associated equipment and supplies.  So these contingency plans are already in place by the government in case of a break down in social order.  And I should know, because before I was awakened to the reality of things, for a time I was an integral part of the very thing I am now preparing against.  In a martial law situation, the most dangerous enemy course of action would be aggressive raids into private homes, confiscation of stockpiles, weapons, and internment of anyone considered “dangerous” or “too patriotic” by the government.  It is important to consider both threats.  You plan mostly for the likely COA, but you have to be prepared for the most dangerous COA to a degree.  Now there might be some debate as to whether these COAs might be reversed, but that is for you to decide and requires that you stay informed and watch carefully how events unfold.

There are many types of rehearsals ranging from walking through a process on paper to actually executing your plan as close to real life as possible.  Your overall plan about whether to bug-in or bug-out should be simple enough for the children in your household to understand.  Ask your children questions about what we would do if the power went out, if water was not available, what to do if a stranger knocks on your front door, or what to do if a severe storm hits your area.  Ideally, you have the time to do the best rehearsals possible and make them as realistic as you can.  Some of the tactical types of rehearsals are limited in use, considering that you are likely in your home and are not sitting in on a tank, monitoring the radio, waiting to roll out on a mission.  But I will mention all types, because in some limited circumstances, they might apply.  The rehearsal types below are in order of preferable to least effective:

Full Rehearsal
- Tactically speaking, you would mount your vehicles and physically maneuver through the operation as if it were actually happening, talking through it on the radio as you go.  In rehearsing a bug-out situation, this would involve grabbing your bug-out bags and any other equipment you would need, jumping in the car, and driving your designated route to your predetermined bug-out location.  There you would secure the area and set up your camp.  It would be beneficial to stay a while and cook a meal and even sleep there for the night, using the bug-out scenario as a kind of camping trip. 

Key Leader Rehearsal
- In a tactical rehearsal for a company-sized operation, the company commander, first sergeant, executive officer, platoon leaders, and platoon sergeants would all get together and rehearse the mission.  The key leaders in turn must have smaller rehearsals with their respective units.  The key leaders also rehearse contingencies.  1st platoon is destroyed, and now 2nd platoon must become the main maneuver force.  This ensures that all key leaders understand the entire concept of the operation rather than just their part of it.  This type of rehearsal is usually done in conjunction with a terrain model rehearsal described below.  In a prep situation, this might be a rehearsal with you and your spouse or with the adults in your prepper group.  If you are fortunate enough to have connected with like-minded adults, it is important that you rehearse the division of labor that would take place if you were all in the same compound.  You do not want to wait until everyone arrives during an emergency to decide who is going to keep the generator functioning or who is responsible for providing medical care.  It is important to rehearse what might happen if you have to operate in a “degraded mode.”  Part of your group might not make it to the bug-out site or worse face internment.  If your medical specialist does not make it, someone else must be able to provide medical care.  In the Army, we accomplished this by having Combat Medics but also having Combat Lifesaver certified soldiers on each vehicle in case we were separated from the medics.  No one should be indispensable, because odds are you will need that person exactly when you cannot have them help you.  Cross-training on tasks is how you avoid having a gap in your skills sets as a group.

Terrain Model/Sandbox Rehearsal
- This type of rehearsal is one of my personal favorites when limited time is a factor.  In a time crunch, you could use your child’s sandbox for this or just use different items for terrain features in a cleared area.  The terrain model does not have to be to scale but it should show all of the key terrain features and be recognizable.  Conversely though, I have seen a group of four soldiers spend half a day preparing an excellent terrain model including grid lines from the map.  The better your model is, the better your rehearsal will go.  The key leaders or all soldiers in a smaller unit would take up their positions on this terrain model and then move like their vehicles would on the field.  You would be surprised how you actually remember better when you have to physically walk through the operation, and you notice where other adjacent units are, so you can orient yourself.  Mostly, this type of rehearsal would be used to show your bug-out route from your home and show how you would set up security in your location once you arrived.  Even rehearsing a bug-in scenario, you could make a model of your home and talk through how to protect it from roving gangs of looters, refugees, or a raid.

Map Rehearsal
- When time is of the essence, and you need to execute a hasty plan very soon after you formulate it, this type of rehearsal works well.  You lay out a map or make a sketch of one and walk through the concept of the plan.  This works as a suitable substitute to a terrain model rehearsal, provided that everyone can read a map.  A forest fire or even routine road construction might cause road closures and the need may arise for you to use your alternate route to your safe haven, and this type of rehearsal helps easily illustrate that contingency.  A bug-out location should have optimally two entry-egress routes.  You do not want to become trapped in your bug-out location or have only one way to travel there.  This type of rehearsal works well for contingency plans.  You might only have time to do a full rehearsal on your main travel route and do a map rehearsal of the alternate route later.

Computer Rehearsal
- It would be difficult to rehearse a bug-out or bug-in scenario with a computer, but computers allow us to rehearse skills that are expensive to rehearse in real life.  The Army utilizes expansive training centers with high-tech simulators, because even though it is expensive to operate simulators, it is much less expensive than running real vehicles through a field exercise.  A single tank platoon with four tanks can totally drain one fuel truck not to mention the cost of vehicle maintenance with turbine engines running around a quarter of a million dollars when brand new.  Call of Duty does not a warrior make, but hunting and tactical games can illustrate the importance of cover and concealment, shooting techniques, and tactical movement without having to pay the price for your mistakes in the real world.  Practicing with high caliber rifle ammunition is practically like shooting dollar bills out of your barrel.  Save the live fires for when your shooters are more proficient on marksmanship basics and will benefit more from the training.  Check out magazines like Armchair General for reviews on lifelike games that could be used for tactical training and developing strategic thinking.

Radio Rehearsal
- This is the worst type of rehearsal and should only be used if you have no time for anything else.  In fact, I have used this type of rehearsal just to say that we had “checked the block” if I ran out of time for a real rehearsal.  This particular rehearsal requires an emcee to walk through a scenario, and then the individuals respond over the radio describing their actions and reporting as if they were engaging the enemy.  It is useful for working out sequences and triggers for events, but there is zero visual component or physical component as with a terrain model rehearsal.  You might use this rehearsal to work out a phone tree or establish redundant contacts within your prepper group, but that is the only practical use it would provide.

Keys to Productive Rehearsals
- With all training, you want to make it as realistic as possible.  Rehearsals are the same way.  Go through all the details in a full rehearsal and pretend like it is the real thing.  If you take the rehearsal seriously, so will other people in your family and prepper group.  If you are going to bug-out, make sure everyone knows what they are grabbing if you have to leave the house in under five minutes.  Make sure everyone has a role to fulfill that fits into your larger plan.  If your son is supposed to grab the mobile stove and does not know where to find it, it is better to find that out now in a rehearsal instead of in real life.   If he is responsible for setting up the stove once you arrive to the bug-out site, make him do it.  Have him set it up in a safe location, start the fire (if he’s old enough), and then cook something on it.  Maybe he uses too few briquettes the first time, so he has to add more the next time around.  Everyone should be very familiar with the equipment they will be using.  An emergency is not the time to figure out how a stove works or if you are missing some part that you need.  Break out some of your survival food for realism, and so that everyone can get used to eating it.  I can tell you from experience, if you are used to eating only fresh foods and then have to immediately switch to a steady diet of Meals-Ready-to-Eat, you are going to have a very rough transition.  There is a reason why half of the Army walks around with Tabasco in their pockets while in the field.
Differing weather conditions can affect your speed and processes as well.  Do a rehearsal during the pleasant spring months, but also do one in the middle of a cold winter.   If you are bugging-out, it might take much longer to get to your site due to seasonal weather conditions.  You might even get stranded on the way there.  Hopefully, your bug-out location is closer than that.  Inevitably, it will be the worst weather conceivable when you have to bug-out.  In the Boy Scouts, we were frequently rained on during our camp outs.  It was very valuable in showing us how you need to bag everything to keep it dry and set up measures to keep mud out of your tents.  Do not cancel your rehearsal due to weather.  An emergency will not give you a rain check. 

Remember that the point of a rehearsal is to make sure that everyone understands the plan and their part of it and to practice your plan.   It also serves to find any weaknesses in the overall plan, which can be remedied before you have to do this in real life.  For those with children, if they have never been camping or are not what you would call outdoorsy, it could be a huge shock in a bug-out situation if they have to both adjust to the crisis situation and have to learn very quickly how to function in the wild.  Do not let them take their iPods, iPads, Smart Phones, and the rest of their gadgets with them in this scenario, since they are unlikely to work anyhow during the real emergency.  At most you might consider a handheld video game if you have a solar charger with extra batteries.  It might improve their morale during a bug-out scenario, but it also might serve as a terrible distraction.  It really depends on the child and whether they are playing a game for entertainment or as a vehicle for escapism.  Escapism is extremely dangerous during a survival scenario.  You want everyone to be focused on the task at hand but also have opportunities for fun interpersonal activities with family and group members such as card games. 

You may never want to touch your equipment or reserves until the real emergency, and even though it costs more money to have extras to rehearse with, it is crucial.  Not only does this allow you to practice with the equipment you will be using, it allows you to find any broken parts that you need to fix or to find substitutes that would work in a pinch.  You might have a suture kit in an aid bag, but you need to have that practice kit too, so that you can become good at it before you need to do it for real on an actual wound.

When a main battle tank is damaged, it is functioning in “degraded mode.”  The main gun might be disabled, the thermal sights blown to pieces, the radio is inoperative, or track thrown and unable to maneuver.  You learn to deal with each of these contingencies alone and together.  Do a mini-rehearsal at home sometime.  Try turning the power off for a few hours.  Turn off the main water supply and try to flush toilets on your tri-level home by lugging buckets of water up the stairs.  Maybe you will decide that everyone must use the one toilet closest to your water stores.  Operating in degraded mode will help you focus on certain aspects and work out the bugs in your plan without having to turn your home into a war zone.  In this way, you could have mini-rehearsals for a few hours without entirely disrupting regular routines.  Though an emergency is likely to do just that, so this method just provides another way to fit in some extra practice. 

As mentioned previously, the plan has to be simple enough that the slowest soldier or youngest child can grasp it.  Backbriefing is incredibly important.  If your children can walk you through the plan, then you know that they understand all of it and not just their small part of it.  Adults and children alike are hesitant to ask questions, because they think it will make them look stupid in front of a group.  I have had soldiers nod their heads at me when briefing them to only give me a blank stare ten minutes later when I asked them to walk me through the plan.   Everyone has to get it no matter how many times you must walk through it.  That gains you peace in knowing that you communicated effectively and were understood, and confidence that the plan does not depend on your personal orchestration of it because others will know what to do. 

It would be appropriate to end this article with a paraphrase from another great general, Helmut von Moltke:  “The plan never survives first contact with the enemy.”  Your plan and the rehearsals of that plan serve as a rallying point.  The plan is meant to focus everyone on the main objective even when everything is falling apart around you.  It is almost guaranteed, that things will not play out exactly as you predict, but when you have to overcome those obstacles you will always end up coming back to the main focus of your overall plan to survive and protect those you care about.

Hi Jim,
Just a quick note about the magnets from microwave ovens letter: Inside the Microwave there is a large capacitor (looks like a metal can with two tabs on the top of the can) - before you poke around inside, make sure that you discharge this by touching a screwdriver (held by the insulating plastic handle) between the 2 tabs - this is like poking in the back of an old television, and the discharge from that cap will knock you for a lulu if it's holding a residual charge (and it can... for a long time.) If it didn't spark - no
harm, no foul. If it did - that could have been your hand in there!

Also... there are articles on the Internet about converting a microwave into a (surprisingly good) stick welder for next to nothing - I have one and am building a second, and for what I use it for, it far surpasses the overseas versions of the wire feed cheapos. Sure, it's a stick welder, but for a few bucks (much less than Harbor Freight's 110 VAC wire feeds that will likely emit square smoke rings and die) you get a good unit and help reuse something that most sheeple would throw out!

Best always, and good prepping. - Susanne, at the Village Smithy

Magnetron and computer hard drive magnets have a great deal of strength.  I put them on my oil filters.  I pull the magnet on the old filter just prior to discarding it. I place it back on the new oil filter that is going into service.  Placing them there may trap fine particles of ferrous metals and keep them from acting as an abrasive.  I also place one near the drain spout or drain hole on my oil pan area.  I remove that one just prior to draining the oil for an oil change. The idea is the force of the draining oil will carry any metal particles trapped there out into the bucket beneath.  It may not help but I don't think it hurts either.   Another good use for these magnets is to hold my tarps and blankets on vehicle windows during the winter months.  They sstay solidly in place even in very strong winds.  

Most hardware stores sell "super magnets"  A local TruValue hardware store sells a brand called Master Magnetic Inc out of Colorado or MagentSource.com. They are not cheap but you get what you pay for.  I have purchased them in the past to use on screen doors that don't close correctly or to drag lost tools out of ditches or bodies of water etc. 

If money is no concern they are readily available from an assortment of on-line suppliers based upon the "pull weight" desired.  And yes, these are not toys.  They can easily crush fingers or body parts and should not be given to children.  It should also be remembered that the strong magnetic fields generated by these super-magnets can cause nearby magnetic media like audio and video tapes and the like to be erased.  Treat them with respect.

And if you are looking for a novel use for a super-magnet well, my neighbor used one of these very powerful but small magnet he purchased on-line on the bottom of his walking stick in hopes of discovering the ever elusive iron meteorite on his walks in the rocks.  He hopes to make some extra money even on his "downtime". - R.B.S.

I will be the keynote speaker via teleconference at Charlotte PrepCon. This is an event for North Carolina and South Carolina preppers. The conference will be held on July 14, 2012 in Ft. Mill, S.C. (near Charlotte, N.C.) Phone: (800) 704-1862 for details.

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Our friend Tam recommended a post over at the Standing Outside Looking In blog about preparing for and coping with flood waters: A Hard Lesson; Survivor Ammunition Storage

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Pierre M. sent this news from Florida: Worst TB outbreak in 20 years kept secret. (It is noteworthy that the role of HIV- AIDS in resurgence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is often soft-pedaled by the politically correct American mass media.)

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Pierre also sent three links about MultiCam: MultiCam Gallery, Slate reports: Lost in the Wilderness--The military's misadventures in pixelated camouflage, and Syrian Camo?

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I just watched the movie Machine Gun Preacher, on DVD. It is the true story of Sam Childers, a former outlaw biker who came to Christ, straightened up his life, and established an orphanage in war-torn southern South Sudan. (Before it gained its independence.) Be forewarned that there is some foul language and it depicts violence, so it is NOT for children! The film confirmed my strong conviction to get actively involved in aiding the citizenry of South Sudan--namely training and arming them to defend themselves against the continuing depredations of the Muslim Janjaweed. Pray for South Sudan!

"Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things.
It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe." - Robert W. Service

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

An appeal from your editor: We've recently had another denial of service hacker attack. My apologies for any inconvenience. To make SurvivalBlog more resilient to denial of service attacks or to governmental censorship orders, I am seeking some inexpensive offshore server space. The plan is to "push" data to several mirror sites each night. If you have some server space available, preferably in a country that isn't buddy-buddy with the U.S. government, then please let me know. Each mirror server must be able to handle the following:

  • 2GB of Storage Space
  • SSH & FTP access
  • 15 Mbps Data Link
  • 5TB Monthly Bandwidth



Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 41 ends on July 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 many of you blacksmithing reminds you of your father or grandfather, it takes you back to the smell of the coal forge and the hum of the blower pumping oxygen into the nest of the forge. I've met many of people who are interested in blacksmithing, mainly for fun and to make Christmas gifts for their loved ones. Not many of these people actually obtain a forge and anvil and use it. Many of people have their grandfather's anvil sitting unused in their shed or barn. My father has been blacksmithing for the majority of his life and has passed the trade down to me. The trades that can be expanded into after the basics of blacksmithing are many, from knife making, to fabrication, and tradition tool making are just a few of the trades that can be expanded into.

In the first years of my father' blacksmithing, he used a old, rusty elevator weight as an anvil. Anvils today are sometimes few and far between, I recoil in horror every time I see Wylie Coyote try to drop a anvil on Road Runner. The anvil is one of the most important pieces of the blacksmith's tool set. There are many brand of anvils that were once produced. Two of renowned anvils made were Peter Wright and Hay-Budden. A person can purchase a brand new anvil from a farrier supply company, of course those can cost in upwards of $300. Then again a Hay-Budden can cost $7 per pound! At a 150 pounds that would be $1,050. If your lucky you can find someone who does not know what they have and pick it up for $200. I am sure that many people through out the years have used something other than a anvil, such as my father and the elevator weight. A piece of railroad track would work great in a TEOTWAWKI situation. If you insist on having an antique anvil then there are certain things for which you should look. The recoil test, a good anvil should have some recoil to it, meaning that when you drop a ball bearing on it the bearing should bounce up and leave the anvil with a ring. An anvil without this quality has either been modified or lack true quality. Look at the markings on the anvil, the markings are so many that a person could write a book on it, I highly recommend that you do research on this aspect of anvils. A book concerning the types and manufacturers of anvils is Anvils in America by Richard Postman. Another thing to look for is gouging or other intended harm done to the anvil.

The second most important tool to the blacksmith is the hammer. In a TEOTWAWKI situation a basic claw hammer could be used to push metal around, but a more blacksmith designated hammer would be more beneficial. A person can pick up a blacksmithing hammer at a farrier supply center. Ball peen hammers also have their place in a blacksmith's arsenal, I mainly use them for shaping ladles and spoons but they can be used as a general hammer. Most people overlook the importance of how to use the hammer. I use a push and pull method, which means I push the metal forward and pull the metal backwards, using firm but not overly brutal strikes to the metal. Many beginners make the mistake of striking the metal so hard that they punish themselves. Another item that is just as important as the hammer is a pair of gloves. A good pair of leather roping gloves made of goatskin, are for me, the most comfortable. The third piece of equipment for the blacksmith is the forge. There are many antique forges on the market, but there are also many do it yourself alternatives such as brake drum forges. Brake drum forges are a excellent entry level forge for beginners. It uses a basic forge design, using a (You guessed it!) a brake drum and some sort of fan, to provide oxygen to the nest. I use a simple rivet forge for my small needs such as S-hooks, spoons, nails, and knives. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a forge is how hot it gets. My rivet forge will sometimes reach temperatures in excess of 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Now that is hot enough to smelt metal. Another thing to consider is what are you going to burn in your forge? I have been struggling to find coal for some time now. Our wonderful Government has decided to put even more restrictions on some of the coal mines. Even the mines with permits are selling their coal to China. You can still find coal today at some farrier supply centers, though it is low in quality it is still coal. I burn a 5 gallon bucket in two days of heavy blacksmithing, So it really does not take a lot of coal to work on a project.

To go with your forge you will need a blower. A blower is a simple piece of equipment which pumps oxygen into the nest of the forge, it is a vital piece of equipment as it raises the temperatures in the forge by several hundred degrees. Again your blower can be a rare antique or a home brew, do it yourself project. Some of your major blower makers were Royal, Tiger, Champion, and Buffalo were just a few of the many blower manufacturers. On the antique blowers I have seen them run anywhere from $40 to $300 at flea markets. Now as far as home brews go people have converted squirrel cage fans into blowers as well as car heater fans. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to building your forge and blower.

A vise is a invaluable piece, it works as a second set of hands and a rock solid anchor point for grinding and welding. If there is a piece of vintage equipment that I recommend you buying it is a blacksmith's vise. The blacksmith's vise is designed to be open and closed quickly, so that you spend more time working the metal and less time letting the metal cool. the vises vary in size and price, they usually start right at $50 and go up into the hundreds.

If you manage to collect all the pieces of recommended equipment I highly suggest that you learn how to use them.

Fire, as most preppers are familiar with, is a simple task. A coal fire is slightly different, one must first start with tinder (I generally prefer newspaper, as it holds a flame longer) and kindling in the nest of the forge. Get a small fire going, but not blazing. Before it is blazing you must pile coal or coke, the byproduct of burnt coal, on the kindling, make sure there is enough on to absorb the heat, but not too much as to smother it. Keep supplying a large amount of oxygen to the fire via the blower and voila you successfully crafted a coal fire.

The one thing people ask me a lot is, “Where do I get the steel?” There are quite a few commercial steel yards across the U.S. One of the major ones is King Architectural Metals. Of course if the balloon goes up you won't be able to run out to the store and get whatever you need. Scrap yards are a fantastic place to go and find steel, most of them will sell you useable steel at a little above scrap iron prices. I have seen many fine knife blades out of spring leaf steel. [JWR Adds: SurvivalBlog reader C. Mike recently sent me this: Turning a Railroad Spike Into An Awesome Knife. It shows how even a home barbeque ca be turned into a forge with a brief service life.]

As I stated earlier you must learn to push and pull the iron, much like working clay between your thumb and index finger, your index finger being the anvil and your thumb being the hammer.

There many blacksmithing techniques, so many as I cannot cover them all in this one article, but I will go over a couple of them.

Drawing a point out seems simple, but to do it fast and efficiently is another story. Start out by bringing your round stock to a red hot temperature, which is about 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Rest the steel on the far side of the anvil and lock your arm into place. Strike once pushing the metal away from you, rotate the steel 90 degrees and strike again, pushing forward. Rotate back to your first strike and repeat the process. Keep in mind that you should only be striking on to sides of the steel. Repeat the whole process until you come out with a needle sharp point.

Forge welding is a slightly more advanced process, but would be well worth the difficulty in a TEOTWAWKI situation. First start out by bringing the rod to a again red hot temperature and rest it on the face of the anvil. Slightly flatten the steel and and sprinkle a good amount of flux onto the metal. Many farrier supply shops carry commercial flux, but for many years we have been using plain old borax, that is used for laundry. Reheat the metal to a not just red hot, but a glowing orange temperature. When the steel hits the sparkling orange range that opens the window to forge welding. Start the fold over on itself and proceed to strike the steel with force, but not with brutalizing strength. Through this process Damascus steel can be made, fire pokers can be crafted, and metal mended. With these simple tools and equipment you can start blacksmithing on your very own.

The topic of obstructive sleep apnea and CPAP machines has been mentioned regularly in SurvivalBlog. These references were mostly related to how an alternate power supply could be used to keep CPAP machines functioning. In a TEOTWAWKI situation or lengthy grid down scenario persons suffering from sleep apnea, especially severe sleep apnea would worsen and probably die without an alternative power source or alternative type of treatment.

As a dentist who is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and treating snoring and sleep apnea for almost 15 years I thought I would give the members some insight into the condition, its possible treatments and implications for long-term survival particularly in TEOTWAWKI. One of the recent blogs referred to a web site. If anything I say sounds similar to information on that site is because the developer is my dear friend, personal mentor and one of the foremost experts in the country.


Snoring is the focus of humor in countless movies, jokes, videos and family stories. There are people whose snoring has decibel levels as loud as a steam locomotive. My own father could bring down the house, not just with his singing or jokes, but unfortunately with his snoring. Over the years he had developed severe obstructive sleep apnea. He was also the first sleep apnea patient that I treated.
All joking aside, snoring is no laughing matter. It’s the reason for many lost hours of sleep for bed partners, husbands and wives having separate bedrooms and sometimes even divorce.

What is Snoring?
Snoring is the sign of a breathing problem, in other words a blockage in your airway. The sound is typically caused by the tongue falling toward the back of your palate and throat. As your airway constricts it creates a negative pressure or pulling on your soft palate. This creates a vibration and sound like a reeded instrument, although much more annoying! If you snore loudly and often, you know the social implications of your problem. It’s bad enough when your spouse can’t sleep in the same room with you, but when your travel companions schedule a separate room because they can’t get a decent night’s sleep, it may be time for you to do something about it.

Even if you have become accustomed to sharp pain in your ribs at night (your spouse’s elbow), a lot of bad jokes, snoring is as serious as a heart attack or even worse a stroke. It is a signal that something is wrong with your breathing during sleep. It means that the airway is not fully open and the bad tunes you are playing could kill you. According to recent sleep studies, approximately 45% of the general population, 30% of men and women over age 30, 40% of the middle-aged population, and 6% of children snore on a regular basis. Studies show that 45% of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. Sadly, these statistics are on the rise with rising obesity approaching epidemic proportions.

Problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight persons. It usually grows worse with age. Although obesity is a major factor for snoring and sleep apnea people that are “as thin as a rail" can have these issues. Generally these are people that have narrow jaws, tall (high) palates and or deep bites and are more prone to having or developing airway issues.

Is Snoring Dangerous?

During the days of the Wild West a famous gunslinger shot a man in the same hotel for snoring too loudly. Ouch! It has also been shown that of males over the age of 45 almost 50% have some form of sleep apnea.  An Australian study found that the prevalence of blockage of the carotid artery (which can lead to strokes) was 20% for mild, 32% for moderate and 64% for heavy snorers. According to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), snorers have three times as many motor vehicle accidents as non-snorers..

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

 According to the experts at www.ihatecpap.com, snoring can be a strong indicator of the condition known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea patients that snore are actually lucky that the condition manifests vocally, so the condition can be treated early, before it becomes life threatening. Partners with concerns are often the ones to bring this problem to light and ask the snorer to seek sleep disorder/sleep apnea treatment. Because of the intermittent periods of stopped breathing, patients do not get the amount of oxygen needed and health risks are increased. Recent studies have led many leading clinicians to state that they believe that snoring will lead to sleep apnea 100% of the time. Sleep apnea has been linked to cases of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, high blood pressure and other dangerous conditions. If you notice heavy snoring in your loved one, ask him or her to see a sleep apnea professional.

How Snoring Affects Others

According to a Mayo Clinic sleep study, it is estimated that snorers cause their partners to lose an average of about an hour of sleep each night. For the average American that is almost 20% of your night’s sleep. Even if sleep apnea is not indicated, the disruption of the sleep cycles of family members can create a hazard. Bed partners of snorers also reports high levels of fatigue, sleepiness and possibly even hearing loss. Recent studies have indicated that repeated disruption of sleep patterns can cause sufferers to perform motor skills at or below the levels of individuals who are legally intoxicated! So even if your snoring is not a sign of sleep apnea, it is likely that your snoring could be a real threat to your loved ones because impaired reaction behind the wheel of an automobile can lead to disaster regardless of the cause. The whole family can suffer when any family member has a sleep problem.

What is Sleep Apnea?
Apnea is a Greek word that means shortness of breath. An apnea episode is the absence of breath for 10 seconds or more repeatedly during the normal seven hour sleep cycle. During an apnea event, the oxygen level in a person's blood drops(while the carbon dioxide increases), the blood becomes" thicker" and more difficult for the heart to pump throughout the body. This puts a strain on the heart (which can show signs of enlargement) as well as the entire cardiovascular system. Coughing or choking sensations, which force you to wake up or get elbowed by your partner, are also common signs. Untreated sleep apnea (OSA) increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, shortens life, and diminishes your quality of life.
What are the common signs of Snoring and Apnea?
Sleep apnea can reveal its presence in a number of ways, and each patient may have a unique combination of symptoms. If you or a loved one experiences any of the following recurring symptoms, please speak with your family physician or a dentist that has experience with treating OSA.

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches/migraines (may also signify a jaw joint problem known as TMJ/TMD).
  • Short term memory problems
  • Altered human growth hormone secretion at night contributes to decreased metabolism leading to weight gain and difficulty in weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Dosing off in front of the television
  • Gastric reflux(GERD)
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Slow metabolism
  • Inability to lose weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Severe Anxiety
  • Memory and concentration difficulties
  • ADD and ADHD symptoms
  • Intellectual deterioration
  • Mood swings/temperamental behavior
  • Poor job performance or problems in school
  • Mouth breathing
  • Restlessness and tossing and turning during sleep
  • Impotence
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Difficult nose breathing
  • Sudden shortness of breath, choking or gasping sensation that wakes you up
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to sleep through the night
  • Heavy snoring (more common in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, rather than central sleep apnea)

Pediatric Apnea

Chronic breathing problems during a child’s sleep have been shown to affect children’s physical, intellectual and emotional growth. Heavy snoring in children may be a sign of pediatric apnea. Pediatric apnea causes children to have paused breathing events during sleep and can be dangerous if left untreated. Children with untreated apnea may experience daytime sleepiness, or signs of ADD/ADHD such as lack of concentration and mental capacity, trouble in school, and hyperactivity. A thorough ear, nose, and throat exam are a priority. Any asthma and allergy concerns need to be diagnosed and controlled. Often a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be needed to eliminate airflow obstructions.

Apnea and Childhood Development

Visit the web pages from sleep apnea dentist Dr. Brian Palmer. He has given international, national and state presentations on the importance of breastfeeding for the proper development of the oral cavity, airway and facial form; infant caries; why tight frenulums need to be addressed; the signs and symptoms, cause and prevention, and treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea; and basics of dentistry not taught in dental schools.

Sleep Apnea & Snoring Treatment

I will briefly list some of the treatments for sleep apnea, but will focus mainly on the most TEOTWAWKI pertinent answers.
First and foremost, your physician or dentist will examine your living habits and make recommendations for behavioral therapy, such as avoidance of alcohol or sedatives, or sleep positioning devices. Use of pillows to alter your nighttime breathing habits may also be suggested. Your sleep physician and dentist with appropriate training in sleep apnea will help you decide which dental sleep medicine treatment or combination of treatments will work best for you.

Depending on each patient's diagnosis, sleep apnea treatment may be as simple as a lifestyle change such as weight loss or change in diet. Other patients may benefit from the help of a specially designed oral appliance, which prevents airway blockage. Some more severe cases of apnea may require surgical intervention to prevent upper airway obstruction. Jaw surgery, tongue surgery, palatal implants and removal of the soft palate (UPPP, LAUPP,) are among these techniques. Some work well (jaw surgery) and others not well at all (UPPP, LAUPP). 

Nasal Vents

ProVents are a new as a treatment option. The results from the initial studies are promising. They do have a significant impact on lowering the number of apnea events a patient experiences, but they are not adjustable. Any one that is prescribed these by the doctor should insist on a full night sleep study while wearing them to verify that they are working sufficiently. Just because you feel better after sleeping with them doesn’t mean you are getting the best results possible.


Mechanical therapy in the form of a mechanical device called a CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, uses a mask with an air blower to force air through the patient's upper airway, assuring constant inhalation of adequate amounts of oxygen. are positive air pressure machines with various types of masks and hoses designed to force air past the main obstruction in the airway which in the vast majority of patients is the tongue. It inflates the airway like a balloon and hose.

CPAP has been considered " the gold standard" of OSA treatment for many years and is incredibly effective for alleviating symptoms, avoiding the health risks discussed earlier and achieving a restful sleep. These benefits can only be realized when the CPAP is actually worn and worn for the fully prescribed amount of time. Sadly, study shows that 2/3 to 3/4 of people given a CPAP cannot tolerate full compliance. The list of problems encountered by CPAP users is lengthy. Many of these can be overcome, but the ones most pertinent to us on this blog are loss of power and portability.

Alternate power sources can definitely be one solution when these are available and when OSA patients want to use them. The majority of OSA patients who cannot tolerate the CPAP or want a non-powered solution and oral appliance should be considered.

As Seen on TV

You’ve probably seen dental appliances advertised on television that claim to handle your snoring problem. These have a few problems. If you snore but have not been tested for apnea and you wear one of these devices you may not snore, but if you have sleep apnea it is still killing you. If you have been diagnosed with OSA these devices are not being adjusted (titrated) for optimal effect and they are not FDA approved to treat OSA. The principle is the same, but as they say: " the devil is in the details".

Dental Appliances

There are dozens of these devices with varying designs, patents and trade names, but they all work on the same principle, basically they move the lower jaw forward in order to open your airway. Since your tongue is attached to your lower jaw basically behind your chin, moving the jaw forward (mandibular advancement) moves his tongue forward, opens the airway front to back, as well as side to side and prevents the tongue from falling to the back of the throat.

The best devices are custom fit and extremely adjustable so that your airway is opened enough to drastically reduce the number of apneic events and ideally eliminate snoring. This adjustment or titration is done in close collaboration between you, the dentist and the sleep physician. When looking for a dentist, be sure they are a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and ideally one who is a diplomate of that academy. Unfortunately, over the years I have seen dentists treat patients for snoring without knowing whether the patients have obstructive sleep apnea and use devices that are not approved to treat OSA. I've also seen lack of knowledge and follow-up with patients both of which are extremely important for optimizing treatment and avoiding unwanted side effects.

Some physicians shy away from this treatment, but quite honestly in my opinion this is due to what they are taught or not taught in medical school. There is a great deal of research that shows the effectiveness of these" low-tech" devices in treating mild, moderate and even severe sleep apnea. As preppers and survivalists you should appreciate that they are generally very durable, relatively inexpensive and could be repaired without a lot of sophisticated equipment. They are easily cared for and stowable in a tac bag, glove compartment, briefcase and purse or bug out bag. I would suggest speaking to your dentist about making several appliances . . . for a discount (or barter) of course. Remember: one is none and two is one.

One point that I would like to emphasize is that it is extremely important for you or your loved ones to be evaluated and treated regardless of whether a TEOTWAWKI situation ever occurs. This is a life-threatening condition is often ignored or minimized. It is a silent or not so silent killer. For those of you that are trying to maximize your health and your families health as a part of preparedness is crucial to consider seeking treatment. Everyone will sleep and function much better.

For more information on snoring, obstructive sleep apnea and treatment you can visit www.ihateCPAP.com and www.aadsm.org.

James Wesley:
I understand saving gold and silver for preservation of wealth but I'm not sure of copper pennies or nickel five cent pieces. Gold and silver have been used for thousands of years as stored wealth but I'm not sure I could convince anyone to take pennies and nickels that are made with industrial metals. The copper value of the coin may be greater than the value marked on the coin but who is going to have a desire to gather up copper and nickel over silver or gold? Thanks for the great blog and the help. - Mark in Minnesota

JWR Replies: In a post-Dollar Collapse economy, when $1 in silver coinage again becomes the equivalent of a day's wage for man (just as it was before WWI), people will still need to make change for small purchases. I believe that real "Nickel" nickels (still being minted, as of this writing) will fill that role, nicely.  (However, if silver zooms up in value in the midst of a Depression wherein most heavy industries are shuttered, then it may take 100 or 200 nickels to equal the value of $1 in pre-1965 90% silver coins.)

Free markets always find equilibrium, regardless of trying circumstances, and with surprising speed. We call this The Invisible Hand.

In his recent SurvivalBlog article, Don H. incorrectly stated that alcohol will not kill MRSA or Staph.  I want to set the record straight on this, as working with bacteria is my career.  Any bacteria that does not form spores will be contact-killed by a 70% Isopropanol (or other alcohol) treatment.  This includes MRSA (and other staph bacteria, as MRSA is Methycillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). 

The only commonly encountered bacteria that will certainly not be killed with alcohol are Clostridium species (the source of botulism [C. botulinum] and gas gangrene [C. perfringens] and Mycobacterium species [M. tuberculosis].  C. difficile is another Clostridium species that infects humans, but in a situation where antibiotics are unavailable, C difficile (C. diff) will most likely never appear.  Being an opportunistic pathogen, it can only infect patients that have had their intestinal flora (gut bacteria) wiped out by rounds of antibiotics.  

Until a collapse occurs, I suggest hospital patients and their family members rip into staff that use only the alcohol foam instead of washing their hands before working with a patient.  Most of these infections are spread by lazy hospital workers who don't wash up between patients. - J.R.M.

Several years ago I was looking for some hi power magnets for a project, and found them, inside microwave ovens. Not wanting to get the wife mad, I placed free want ads for junk microwave ovens and got more than I expected.  As a side benefit each oven netted a small bit of aluminum and some copper wire. 

Getting to the magnets was almost too easy.

DISCLAIMER:  Don't hurt yourself.  Sharp metal may be encountered, and a bit of electrical knowledge would be helpful.  Do not attempt repair to broken ovens without proper training and equipment to check for leakage. You are 'on your own' with this project.  For information only.

First thing, make sure the oven has sat unplugged for several days, so as to allow any stray voltage/current to dissipate [more for piece of mind-just do it], then remove the power cord-I usually just cut it off.
Remove the glass tray if it is still on the inside, then the metal cover.  Looking behind where the controls are located you will find a [usually] square looking electrical 'thing'-the magnetron, with some aluminum fins.  Disassemble this and you will usually find three or four magnets inside. (No, there are no residual microwaves to harm you!) [JWR Adds: According to SurvivalBlog reader "NoName": Magnetrons contain Beryllium Oxide ceramics. If this ceramic is crushed or begins to break the resulting powder is a hazardous carcinogen.]

CAUTION:  The magnets are powerful and will pinch fingers and other body parts if caught between a magnet and metal or another magnet.  You have been warned!

My originally-planned project bombed, and I still have numerous magnets around, holding papers, retrieving dropped items, etc. I always keep a few magnets inside a heavy plastic bag near my drill press to catch the dross.  The plastic bag makes it easy to separate the magnetic field from the dross, allowing the dross to fall into a collection can. [dross=drill shavings]

Happy hunting.  Oh, and the case, and rest of the microwave? Recycle it if possible. Otherwise just give it to the trash service. That is where it was headed in the first place. Regards, - Greg L.

Several readers have written to ask about the recent slump in precious metals. This can be attributed to the ongoing sovereign debt and derivatives crisis in Europe, where there are wholesale liquidations of everything. Folks are scrambling to raise cash to settle CDO contracts and to meet margin calls. The crisis will keep the price of metals down until perhaps October. It doesn't mean that the bull market in metals is over. Far from it! Just look at this as a good buying opportunity.

Like a Hollywood set, housing inventory looks to be low only because that is what is being presented. Orange County foreclosure pipeline twice the size of non-distressed MLS inventory.

AmEx sent us this: Forecast: Taxmageddon Would Cause Another Recession

G.G. flagged this piece: One on One with John Williams of ShadowStats

Items from The Economatrix:

Fewer Americans Than Forecast File For Unemployment Claims

US Service Industries Grew Less Than Forecast In June

Are Global Central Banks In Panic Mode?

AmEx (American Expat) sent this report: One Year Later: Lessons from Recovery After the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake

   o o o

Authorities give 41 guns and 100,000 rounds of ammunition back to militia member after he is cleared of conspiring to overthrow government.

   o o o

New Hampshire enacts jury nullification law. Hopefully this will be the first of many "informed juries" laws, nationwide.

   o o o

Mike Williamson wrote to mention that the Armed Citizen Alliance (ACA) has announced their first National Armed Citizen Challenge, which will be held September 21-23, 2012, at PASA Park near Barry, Illinois. Unlike other organized shooting competitions, the ACA events emphasize practical concealed carry, rather than exotic "race" guns in speed holsters. Mike notes that this will be a great event to get involved in and support.  

"No one can say when or where the first war for the Revolution began. Ten years before the fight at Lexington, Americans came out of their cabins in the valley of the Conocheague, and stormed and took Fort Louden. One by one, Americans walked the trails of the Green Mountains, and came down to the lake and took the King's fort at Ticonderoga". - Rose Wilder Lane (Daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and originator of the term Libertarian.)

Monday, July 9, 2012

There was another hack attempt on SurvivalBlog, beginning on July 4th.  We have been forced to change servers. We are presently re-building the blog site's content and features gradually. The Search box, permalinks, and the RSS feed have not yet been restored. I will post the new dotted quad address as soon as it is available. Thanks for your patience.

Off-Grid Origins

Residential power systems - particularly the inverters that provide more popular Alternating Current (AC) voltages, standards and connections - are a far cry from their primitive ancestors of only a few decades ago, when hobbyists and off-grid home or cabin owners needed a fair amount of electrical expertise, as well as tolerance for not-quite-ready-for-mainstream technology and performance. Increased world-wide demand, dramatic improvements in the semiconductor and microprocessor industries, economies of scale, improved safety standards, regulations, plus diligent and competitive engineering have all contributed to the superb home inverter offerings available today. From it's infancy as an inferior, pioneering substitute to grid power systems, usually chosen only out of necessity for off-grid installations, the technology has matured to the point where pure sine inverters can typically offer cleaner, better regulated, and more stable power solutions than utility grid power companies can offer. An added benefit of the precise sinusoidal waveforms is the extra longevity that most computers, consumer electronics, motors and other electrical devices with inductive loads gain as a result of lowered internal friction from surges, spikes, blackouts, brownouts and other voltage irregularities in utility-supplied power.

On-grid Evolution

The lure of a potential market many orders of magnitude larger than strictly off-grid customers encouraged inverter manufacturers to address the technical hurdles of allowing inverters to use both local - e.g. photovoltaic (PV) solar, wind, small hydro, etc. - sources and imported grid-supplied AC to power both consumer loads and backup batteries. An on-grid inverter must synchronize the AC output of the inverter with the incoming AC power from the grid, be able to immediately supplement any outages or drops in grid power with power from the batteries, solar panels, wind generator, etc., and adjust its phase instantaneously when outside utility power is restored. Today's class of pure sine wave, synchronous inverters do all this and more, while meeting and/or exceeding all the needed safety and regulatory requirements such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the National Electric Code (NEC). These 'best of both worlds' inverters can often dramatically reduce the need for backup generators, fuel and having to oversize collection (such as PV panels, wind turbines) and storage (battery) components. The caveat with this approach is that it presumes that extended utility outages lasting many days or weeks will be very rare. However, if one wishes to build a self-sufficient home energy system in stages, this is often a good compromise. Backup generators and fuel can be added as budgets allow, with grid-tied systems still providing immediate benefits for both new construction and retrofitted homes. Since the vast majority of inverter applications have access to grid power, this article will focus on these modern grid-tie pure-sine inverters.

Power Buy-back

Because grid-tie inverter systems can frequently generate more electricity than is being used, utility meters will actually run backwards or sometimes a second meter is installed to measure the power delivered back to the utility company. The home becomes (at least in those moments when household supply exceeds demand) a net energy producer rather than a consumer. Some more progressive states and municipalities allow home-generated power to be sold back to the utility company at their retail power rates; Ashland, Oregon, for example, even pays a 25% premium (1.25 times the highest residential rate) for home-generated power for the first 1,000 kiloWatt-hour (kWh). Here is a net metering map for USA locations which shows how 42 states, at the time this article was written, support some form of net metering. Check with your local utility. In some cases, power is bought back at wholesale rather than retail rates, reducing the cost-effectiveness of an alternative energy system for those locations. In either case, there are self-sufficiency and ecological gains, and often economical gains, with effective break-even strategies.

Self-sufficient ideals for any home

One important benefit of looking objectively at home energy consumption, in addition to reducing ongoing monthly utility costs and the corresponding environmental benefits, is the potential for scaling down the size, cost and complexity of an inverter-based power system. Typically, the largest energy 'gluttons' include space heating (and cooling), water heating, cooking, clothes drying, and refrigeration. If you can, find non-electric or high-efficiency options for these needs, such as wood-fired cookstoves, gravity-fed water supplies (since well pumps often draw significant current) ceiling and exhaust fans, solar water heating, clotheslines and drying racks. Judicious use of these technologies can reduce ongoing power needs and system design costs to a fraction of what they might be otherwise. Plus, these strategies work equally well for both grid-tied and non-grid homes. This is most easily done with new home construction, taking advantage of microclimate factors, daylighting, prevailing breezes, site location for PV panels, wind generators, small hydro stream/penstock siting, etc. However, even retrofits can gain considerable benefits by careful planning and appliance selection. It behooves one not to overlook the benefits of a conservation-oriented lifestyle. Unplugging not-in-use phantom loads like battery chargers, and turning off unused lights, computer peripherals, etc. can make a significant difference. Energy Star appliances, high-efficiency LED and/or occupancy-sensed lighting, timers and a vast assortment of other energy-saving devices can simplify the effort for this lifestyle. Another 'elephant in the room' - specifically the garage - is the enormous potential (fuel) energy savings of a home-based business instead of a commute-intensive and fossil-fuel dependent livelihood and community. Here's a list of some energy conserving ideas and resources that might be helpful in scaling down your inverter, battery and power source needs. The Department of Energy (DOE) tip web site for Money and Energy Savings is another useful resource.

Older inverters paired with a UPS (off-grid only)

If you have access to an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that meets your power needs and can handle less than pure sine wave inputs you might be able to economize by using an older, second-hand non-sine-wave inverter with modified sine wave or other coarsely stepped output waveforms. Just make sure to carefully check the manufacturers specifications and then make an explicit inquiry to both vendors about the specific combination to avoid any safety or device/system longevity issues.

Small Inverters

There are numerous small wattage inverters for automotive or small load applications with outputs of 1 kW (kiloWatt) or less. When selecting inverters of this type, make sure both the nominal (rated) and peak or surge wattage ratings are a good fit for both the intended load and the inverter being considered. Keep in mind that these less expensive inverters often use a modified sine wave output that is a poorer approximation to 'pure sine wave' inverters. This may work fine for incandescent bulbs and other purely resistive loads (although an audible buzz is a classic artifact), but efficiency, performance and device lifespan may suffer with computers and home electronics that require cleaner power. Consider using a UPS as noted above. Anything with reactive (capacitive or inductive loads) such as transformers and motors tend to 'fight' dirtier power and waste more energy in heat with correspondingly compromised life spans and reduced efficiency.

Vulnerabilities of the On-grid Only Approach

Aside from the smaller (typically for mobile or portable application) inverters, there are three main inverter configurations: On-grid only, off-grid only, or systems designed to work either way. The 'on-grid only' option, while becoming the most common, is the most vulnerable, due to complete dependency on the grid. To be fair, there are a few advantages to this approach, but these don't do much for a preparedness-oriented home. Most of the long term cost pay back calculations are based on grid-tied systems without batteries. Most tax credit and tax rebate plans apply only to grid-tied systems. However, after two years, the owner can usually reconfigure their systems legally, to make them truly off-grid, but only if the inverter is designed to work off-grid also. This is a must to keep in mind when choosing an inverter, which is one of the most expensive system components. An "Achilles Heel" design flaw of many grid-only systems prevents them from operating in the absence of grid power. There are plenty of mechanisms for grid failure. You have probably experienced your share of blackouts and brownouts. There are also probabilistic mechanisms that threaten the grid as well as the more common situations that trigger these events. The utility grid - in some respects analogous to a giant antenna - could be knocked out by an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) from massive solar flares or high-altitude nuclear detonations. The resonant wavelengths needed to disable power systems are minimized by relatively tiny wiring runs from PV panels to inverters and batteries in typical home power systems, compared with miles or thousands of miles of grid wiring. The longer the cable runs, the longer the unintentional antennas for EMP resonance. Rather than wait for the next power failure, try (with advance preparation) living without utility power for a day - or a week - and make careful note of what you will provision yourself with if/when this becomes a permanent (or even semi-permanent) situation.

The 'Total Off-grid' or 'Best of Both Worlds' Decision

The other two inverter topologies that mitigate grid frailties are the 'total off-grid' approach and the 'best of both worlds' configuration that allows for grid-tie benefits and complete functionality when the grid is down. Both approaches use batteries or some form of energy storage. The cost of off-grid systems are substantially higher, and the pay-back period is much longer. Despite some encouraging developments in battery technology, sulfation and other intrinsic longevity issues with lead-acid batteries (the most commonly chosen type) require purchase of new battery banks at roughly 6 to 8 year intervals. Other battery types tend to be more expensive, which outweighs typical lifetime advantages.

Some inverters are designed to work strictly on-grid, which ties the system to the grid's vulnerabilities; for the 'both' approach, make sure explicitly that the inverter you select keeps on running regardless of whether the grid is up or down. The automatic grid power detection circuitry should disconnect the inverter from the grid and switch over to batteries within a few milliseconds, and then reverse that automatically when (if) grid power is restored. Caveats and cons for this "both" approach include the extra expense for a system that handles both grid and home-generated power; the synchronous part of the inverter and the switching logic and circuitry. Advantages of the 'both' approach include the greatest flexibility and source versatility, and possibly lower initial cost, since batteries (and additional panels and/or turbines) could be added later after budgets allow. Check with your inverter/PV consultant to make sure a staged approach like this is designed optimally for future expansion.

The advantages of the total off-grid approach include lower inverter costs, lack of expense and regulatory involvement needed for the synchronous circuitry and disconnect switching. Disadvantages include the considerably larger system size, complexity and expense of a system that must rely on strictly on-site power, which usually must be purchased at installation, rather than added later in stages. If the local supply fails (no wind or sun for extended periods or component failure), often equally unsustainable fossil-fuel based backups require additional expense and design considerations. The psychological benefits in terms of self-sufficiency may outweigh these issues.

Sizing, Options and Selection

Regardless of the type of system selected, proper sizing is always important. Buying more wattage (and complexity) than you need is often a result of not being thorough in a realistic, yet vigilant review of conservation lifestyle and appliance changes noted above. If you have the luxury of designing a new home, carefully plan to include primary non-electric (preferably on-site generated) alternatives for space heating/cooling, water heating, cooking, clothes drying, and refrigeration (such as a SunFrost brand refrigerator). This might make the difference between a system that uses 4 dozen pricey PV panels or half that. With a very frugal lifestyle, design and carefully solar orientation, etc. it's sometimes possible to cut the needed system size - source, storage and conversion components (e.g. PV collectors, batteries, and inverter) in half again. While retrofits are usually more challenging to realize savings of this magnitude, there are still many opportunities to explore and an abundance of energy conservation resources online. Keep in mind that the idle current draw (a.k.a. wasted 'phantom load' power) is proportional to the size of the inverter. This is yet another reason to think through the big picture, all major power loads and size the inverter (and panels, batteries, etc.) for an optimal match between sources and loads.

Despite the tremendous advances in inverter technology, simplifying installation tremendously, there are still a number of choices to be made for a given power system installation. These often include (but aren't limited to):

  • Rated output power in Volt-Amps (VA) which is related to Watts (W); here's an article on the difference between VA and W ratings. Rated output power is often different for different output voltages, such as 240VAC or 208VAC output.
  • Output voltage(s); typically 240VAC.
  • Input voltages; AC (grid) and DC (PV panels, wind generator, etc.) input voltages.
  • Peak efficiency; typically 90% or higher. The lost efficiency is converted to heat.
  • California Energy Commission (CEC) weighted efficiency; a measure of average efficiency.
  • Maximum input current
  • Maximum output current

Online Comparison Chart

Once you have defined your power needs and selected the parameters above, here is a handy interactive comparison chart tool that allows comparison of these vendors (at the time this article was written): Advanced Energy, APS, Blue Frog Solar, Carbon Management, Chint Power, Delta Energy, Diehl AKO, Emerson Network Power, Enasolar, Enecsys, Enphase, Eversolar, ExelTech, Fronius, Growatt New Energy, KACO, KLNE, Kostal, Motech, Power-One, PVPowered, Refusol, Samil Power, Samlex America, Satcon, Siemens, SMA, Solar Bridge Tech, Solar Edge, Solar Energy Australia, Solectria, Sunpower, and Xantrex. You can group inverter comparisons by size (Wattage ranges in kW brackets) to make selection easier. This chart tool has a wide range of inverters for both off-grid and on-grid applications.


Both off-line and grid-tied inverter systems generally require licensed electrical contractors as well as applicable inspectors from your local jurisdiction(s). Always check all pertinent requirements, net metering regulations, and use UL, CSA and NEC certified components to pass safety, inspection, insurance, and other requirements before beginning an inverter-based power system project. When in doubt, consult a professional solar/inverter installer. It's also a good idea when you're not in doubt, too! Electrical equipment has safety as well as economic considerations, so always play it safe. Often solar/wind/inverter/alternative energy professionals can eliminate significant research time investment and quickly guide you to a suitable system tailored to your location, budget and specific needs.

Vendor Contact Info

Here are some of the more popular grid-tie inverter (GTI) manufacturers (click on the links to visit their web sites):

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

In just the first few hours after I posted my Volunteer Book Reviewer solicitation a week ago, I received more than 150 e-mails. The response was so overwhelming that I had to take down the post to avoid being deluged with additional volunteers. There were so many well-qualified candidates that it was difficult making the selection. I chose the new editors based primarily upon their education, experience, and time available to devote to editing. My sincere thanks to everyone who responded!

I anticipate that the new editors will periodically post detailed book and movie reviews. Most of them will probably post three of four per year.

For the privacy of the editors, I am announcing neither their names nor their street addresses. Each of them will select a nom de plume for their reviews.

Publishers and self-published authors should send review copies directly to the following addresses:

Farming, Ranching and Apiary Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 280
Briggs, TX 78608

Gardening, Aquaponics and Permaculture Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 408
Pomeroy, WA 99347

Food Storage Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 781546
San Antonio, TX  78278

Cooking and Recipe Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 140602
Garden City, ID 83714-0602

Economics and Investing Book Review Editor
Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 44
Hollidaysburg, PA  16648

Libertarian Book Review Editor

Selected, but P.O. Box not yet established

Firearms, Optics, and Retreat Security Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 264
Marengo IA 52301

Medical, Health and Wellness Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 101
Germantown, Ohio 45327

Outdoor Survival Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 378
McLouth, KS 66054

History Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
Boxholder 431 Kera Drive
Mountain View AR 72560-8761

Biography Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 10
Ponce de Leon, MO 65728

Military Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
223 West Bulldog Blvd.
Box 556
Provo, UT  84604

Amateur Radio Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 118223
Carrollton, TX  75011

Computing Technology and Encryption Book Review Editor

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 970
Fortuna CA 95540

We also now have five new Fiction Book Review Editors. Fiction publishers should select any of the following addresses at random:

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 134
Dupont, Indiana 47231

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 26
Ravensdale, WA  98051

Book Review Editor
P.O.Box 872
Bethel, Alaska 99559

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 9671
San Diego, CA 92169-0671

Book Review Editor
P.O. Box 659
Warner, NH 03278

Note: For e-book reviews, you can e-mail me a PDF of the book, or a link to the book's web address. I will then forward it to the appropriate book review editor.

Apache Tactics 1830-86 by Robert H. Watt. ISBN: 978-1849086301 

Battles between Europeans and Native Americans in North America started with the first landfall and continued until the late 19th Century. Typically, the wars were limited in duration as the mass of European immigrants expanded into and pacified new areas.  Tribes decimated by war and disease had few alternatives.  In most parts of what is now the United States, peace followed settlement by not too many years.

The deserts of the West were another story. Vast distances and non-arable land meant that for many years more people transited the land than settled in it. What the land lacked in agricultural potential, it made up for with mineral wealth. That is what brought first the Spanish, then the Mexicans, and finally the Americans to the land of the Apache. Their range extended from Arizona to West Texas and from Southern Colorado to Northern Mexico.

The Apache may have remained in active conflict with European settlers longer than any other family of tribes. Coronado visited the area in 1540 and subsequent parties of Spaniards in that century reported raiding back and forth with the Apache. This continued after Mexican independence in 1821 and the eventual arrival of the Americans. It’s generally recognized that 1890 was the end of the Apache Wars, but there were certainly incidents past that time.

An Apache warrior was minimalist and efficient.  Reflecting the harshness of their land, the Apaches had none of the splendid head dresses, painted tepees, or beaded parfletches of the Plains Tribes. Additionally, there was no cult of the horse; Apache saw horses as tools first and food when necessary. Even on foot, an Apache warrior could travel 70 miles per day in the harsh terrain they called home.  Given their numbers, they were arguably the most effective guerrilla warriors in history. At the time of the Geronimo campaign, one-quarter of the U.S. Army (5000 men) were deployed looking for 50 Apache warriors.

Apache Tactics
by Robert N. Watt is a thorough introduction to the strategies and tactics of the Apaches in the final stages of their wars. Although there are many scholarly books about the Apaches and their battles, few readers find the time to devote