May 2013 Archives

Friday, May 31, 2013

Today is the birthday of George R. Stewart, a novelist, university professor and toponymist. He was born in 1895 and died August 22, 1980. In the preparedness community, he is best remembered as the author of the classic post-pandemic novel Earth Abides.


Safecastle's semi-annual sale on Mountain House long term storage foods begins tomorrow (Saturday, June 1, 2013.)

Today we present the final entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 47 begins tomorrow, 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.

I have really come to enjoy researching and testing off grid cooking ideas and possibilities.  Last year I had purchased a few products that I felt were going to be the back bone of my preparedness efforts. Over this past winter, I began thinking that it was necessary to actually try out the ideas and suggestions from videos I had seen and articles I had read.  I ordered a few products to round out my supplies, and I became so enthusiastic with all the possibilities that I wrote “Off Grid Cooking Solutions, Part 1” and “Off Grid Cooking Solutions, Part 2.”

I had mentioned that it is very easy to build a brick rocket stove that performs fairly well.  Two downsides of that method is lack of portability and efficiency. Depending upon the design, it will smoke more than a professional stove during cooking, which could prove to be problematic for security reasons.  (You won’t want others to be aware you are cooking and the less smoke, the better). One thing that really concerned me is that I kept reading of the potential danger of bricks exploding.  I stopped by a business that builds outdoor fireplaces for patio use.  The owner had heard of rocket stoves being made from regular brick, but he warned against their use.  They are not made to withstand the heat like fire brick does.  If they get wet (and most people leave them set up outside in the elements), the steam building up inside as the bricks are heated can actually cause them to crack and even explode.  He felt the risks were not worth it.  The cost of the safer yellow-colored fire brick was $3.50 each.  The design I like and seemed most promising required 28 bricks.  The price to purchase the bricks would be about $100, which is close to the cost of a commercially made product. 

My brother’s father-in-law provided me with reinforcement of what I was told.  He formerly worked in a blast furnace, and he was well versed in the dangers of heat on regular brick.  He said that even moisture from dew was enough to seep into the porous bricks.  Then in a super-heated environment of the “rocket” effect, the steam will build up and could actually make the brick explode.  It’s much the same idea of not using river rock to line your camp fire because the rocks could explode.

I have seen various videos of people building and using these stoves as an economical solution to non-electric cooking.  At my suggestion, a friend built one for emergency use for her family.  However, the risks do not seem worth the potential danger.  Unfortunately, it can be compared to Russian Roulette.  You can use the stove many times and not have any problems.  Then one day when the circumstances are ripe, disaster strikes.

I wanted to inform those that are using and relying on them of these concerns.  Because of the possible danger, and because of the portability and efficiency of a professional model, I would strongly urge that people go that direction. 

In continuing my off grid cooking journey, I contacted to let them know about my article.  I had bought my “SuperPot” from them (which is a pot that is made specifically for the StoveTec rocket stove) and I wanted to let them know I had tried it and really liked it.  I also relayed my experience with using a rocket stove and thermal cooker together, which is now one of my favored emergency cooking methods.

It turned out that that they had just received a new rocket stove which recently came on the market. Several days later, Chris Horrocks contacted me and asked if I would be interested in testing it out.  He was wanting a completely unbiased opinion (someone who wasn’t in business and had an investment to protect) who could experience the operation of the stove and give an opinion.   I felt honored to be asked and was glad to do so.

I received the stove, which is part of the new SilverFire line, and I got ready to try it out.  Unfortunately for me, we were experiencing the coldest and wettest spring that I can remember and it was difficult to even find a day suitable to get outside.  And that is where the trouble began.

In the previous year when I had worked with my StoveTec, I chose a few nice days to go outside and perform tests.  I experienced great results.  Satisfied that my stove would be an asset in emergency situations, I put it away in readiness should I need it.  I am so glad that is not the end of the story…

The rocket stove is ideal for cooking in emergencies because its fuel consumption is so little compared to woodstoves or campfires.  However, the stoves must be used outdoors, or perhaps in a garage with the door open for ventilation.  I discovered that days that are cold, damp, and windy proved to be bigger obstacles than I thought, due to my inexperience.  However, in a crisis, you must be able to cook in whatever the weather conditions may be.

The difficulty began when the theories and possibilities I had in my head met the reality of the situation.  What I thought I knew flew out the window!   I was working with damp wood (we had a lot of rain) and the cold wind just would not stop.  I wasn’t getting great results, even with my original stove, and I was frustrated.
Operating a rocket stove is actually basic, easy, and fun.  However, the reality of weather has to be dealt with and a few tactics employed in order to be successful.  I happened to pick more difficult conditions to work in.

I repeatedly had to contact Mr. Horrocks for advice because I was flailing a lot.  He   explained that a person at the equator in very hot weather would have an easier time of it than someone working with damp fuel in cold and windy conditions.  There really is a learning curve.  But, he also estimated that 80% of his customers never test out their stoves before storing them away in their preps. 
I believe that if I had to go through what I just did in testing out the stoves, but was in a crisis situation, my stress level would have gone through the roof.  I think that is an aggravation which is easily avoidable.   It is my opinion that everyone should test things out for themselves and try various recipes and pots in differing weather conditions.  The experience gained is more valuable than ideas and untried theories.  Although “doable,” it is much easier to learn in a more relaxed atmosphere.

I was the one who encouraged folks to get out there and hone their skills.   I felt so humbled because I was having such difficulty.   As I had not done much testing, but rather had spent my time researching, in reality I was an “armchair prepper.” Why does this all even matter?  Let me give you a scenario which someone could likely face.  Say you live in the Midwest where tornadoes often strike.  You live in the suburbs.  There’s been a few days of rain.  The weather briefly warms, but a cold front approaches.  They collide and result in a storm which produces a large tornado.  Fortunately, your home is spared, but there is great damage in the area and much of the power lines are down.  The power company works round the clock to restore the electricity, but it takes three weeks until your home has power again.  Meanwhile, the weather is unseasonably cool and rainy.

You have food, water, and a way to light your home.  You have invested in a rocket stove and have a way to cook the food to feed your family.  You previously saw a couple of videos that showed a person lighting up a few sticks to cook a meal, so you get everything ready and are confident that you have things handled.  With the cold wind swirling around you, you try to light the stove.  No go.  The fuel is damp and just doesn’t want to light.  You get some more tinder and remember the trick you heard of cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, which when lit creates a flame lasting several minutes.  Finally, you have a fire going.  But then it goes out.  You battle it for a while, but finally the fuel is dried out enough that it starts to catch. 

You didn’t find that many sticks for your fuel, but you think that you have enough because rocket stoves really don’t require that much.  You are preparing a large pot of vegetable beef stew to use up some meat you had in the freezer before it spoils.  But you just can’t get the pot up to a boil.  After an hour of standing in the cold wind, you finally are seeing progress, but now you are out of fuel.  Family members are scouting around for more sticks.  Thankfully, even though what sticks they do find are really damp, the hot fire dries them out enough to catch and you finally have enough heat to cook with.  You didn’t think it would take this long or be this hard. You’re cold and discouraged.  You realize that you have to do this two to three times each day.  There’s got to be a better way!

I urge you to invest some time with your stove.  Try out some recipes that your family enjoys.  Use a cast iron or stainless steel pan and fry hamburgers, a steak, or eggs. The amount of fuel to fry a few burgers is less than making a large pot of chili or stew in a Dutch oven or large pot.  Note that difference. Once your food is up to a boil, you can actually keep it simmering for hours by adding just one stick at a time.  Give that a try.   Take a large stock pot filled with water and bring it up to 150 degrees (the recommended temperature for pasteurizing) which may be needed for safe drinking water.   Keep track of how long that took.  Keep on going and see how long until the water boils.  You will need hot water for various tasks such as washing dishes, laundry, and bathing, so it is best to know how to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

If interested in using a pressure cooker or canner, try that out as well.  I have canned tomatoes and green beans, so I do have a little experience in that area.  Canning is just a simple process with numerous steps to follow.  But if you have never canned before nor worked with your rocket stove, I would think it would be pretty overwhelming to begin for the first time in a crisis situation.
I would suggest cooking on the rocket stove in fair weather as well as windy and colder conditions.  One thing to consider is that as the rocket stove is working to bring a pot and its contents up to a boil, a cold wind will work against progress.  You must add heat to the cooking pot at a higher rate than the wind takes away.  The wind will speed the heat loss, so you need a wind break or shield, as well as more fuel to provide the heat required.   In those conditions, a shallow pan heats up faster than a taller, narrow one due to a larger surface area of the taller pot that is assaulted by the wind.

In dealing with wind, I have found two things to be invaluable.  The StoveTec comes with a pot skirt that directs the heat up the side of the pots and helps the stove to operate more efficiently.  I have seen some videos where people have placed shallow frying pans on top of the pot skirt, but that actually is not how they work.  They are designed for a taller pot to be placed on the stove and the adjustable metal skirt wraps around the sides, thus guiding the heat up the sides of the tall pot.  StoveTec also has the SuperPot which essentially does the same thing, but also gives the advantage of not having to clean off soot from your cooking pots.  In my testing, they both are a beneficial aid to get your pot heated quickly, especially in cold and windy weather.

The new SilverFire stove does not come with a pot skirt.  Because it is an improved design, it has a hotter and cleaner fire and quickly heats up to provide an efficient cooking flame.   It is my experience that a pot skirt does make a difference in colder, windy conditions, so I wouldn’t want to be without one.  I am assured, however, that the SilverFire will have its own SuperPot, which is currently in the making.  It is slated to be available during summer of 2013.

I would suggest finding several locations for cooking.  Where will you prepare meals when the sun is hot and bearing down?  You would want to cook in the shade, if possible.  If there is a stiff north wind blowing, is there a southern portion of your home or a building that would provide you with a wind break?  Is a garage or shed available during rainy, cold weather?  Do you have so much stuff packed in there that it would be a fire hazard to cook with a rocket stove?

As far as fuel is concerned, I suggest that you stay ahead of the game.  If there is a crisis and you live in a suburban area, and all you can find are a few wet sticks, you are going to have a little difficulty. Thankfully, it does not take the time to “season” fuel sticks like it does larger wood pieces for use in home heating. Even in urban areas, trees continually shed small, dead branches.  It is such an easy thing to gather them throughout the year.  Consider storing them in a weather-protected area so that they don’t get wet.  A tarp will keep your fuel dry and ready to go should you wish to have an ample supply ready.  You could also keep handy a large bucket or two of larger sticks and twigs, which could be stored in the garage.   And pallets make excellent fuel for rocket stoves.  Many businesses in my area just give them away.  They can be disassembled and a small hatchet used to split them into fuel sticks – all at no cost to you.  Although any biomass can be used, sticks give the longest and most trouble free operation due to their mass, and they are my fuel of choice.

One thing I discovered in performing my tests is that fuel made from lumber or dry sticks versus wet sticks performs differently.  The bark on the wet limbs acts as a fire retardant due to the moisture it holds, and is harder to start a fire with.  Since I live in an area with a lot of trees, limbs will be what I will commonly use.  But I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting the results I saw on videos.  I was able to overcome this when I added drier sticks in the stove coupled with more tinder, and then used more sticks for a hotter fire.   On one of the first days of testing, I worked for an hour to get a small stock pot of 10 cups of water up to a boil.  Last summer I had accomplished the same task in just minutes.  It was taking way too long.  But with the right technique and a pot skirt, it took only 15 minutes.
If the only fuel available is wet sticks, this actually is still doable.  Using more dry tinder (any biomass) to produce heat and get a bed of coals going will aid in getting the sticks to burn.  As the fire progresses, the sticks will dry out and will burn more easily.

As I continued my tests, the day I was able to easily start my cooking fire without the assisted means of cotton balls and petroleum jelly, I was happy.  I know there are serious survivalists out there who could almost sternly gaze at a small pile of tinder and get it started.  Not so with me.  But I discovered that with the right amount of either paper strips or dried leaves coupled with plenty of small twigs to create a bed of embers, my fuel sticks really got going.  And I only used one match on a very windy day.  I simply struck the match slightly inside the door so the wind wouldn’t immediately blow it out.  It quickly lit the paper, which in turn caught the tinder, resulting in enough heat to catch my fuel sticks on fire.  I was able to start cooking in about one minute.   Victory!

You may be wondering what all my testing resulted in when I tried out the new SilverFire stove and compared it with my StoveTec.  There actually was not a clear “winner,” as each stove had advantages.  My observations formed my opinions, and I realize that a controlled lab test would actually give more scientific findings.  But I will let you in on what I experienced:

The StoveTec is a solid stove that sits very securely either on the ground or a table, and it can take quite a bit of weight.  It can handle large pressure canners and heavy Dutch ovens with ease.  It fires up quickly, and coupled with either the pot skirt or SuperPot, it works very well.  One nice feature is that it remains cool to the touch on the outside for a prolonged period of use.  However, the insulation and cast iron top are slightly fragile if dropped, so caution needs to be taken when transporting it.   I love using this stove and wouldn’t want to be without it.

The SilverFire is almost half the weight of the StoveTec (12½ pounds), and it has an inner insulation that will not break if dropped.  It also has a thicker cast iron top which is more durable.  Those features make it very portable.  It is made from stainless steel, will not rust, nor does it have paint to scratch or peel off.  It also fires up quickly and is very efficient.  It is both a rocket stove and a gasifier stove, which means that it uses primary air (from vents located on the base) and secondary air (from vents in the interior fuel chamber).  I noticed the combustion process lead to less soot on the bottom of the cooking pots, which attests to it achieving an efficient burn.  However, due to the design of the base, it is somewhat less stable and if nudged or hit from the back, could possibly result in the stove falling forward during cooking operations.  I was easily able to overcome that potential problem by placing a small wedge just under the bottom front.  A SuperPot of its own is in the making, which will help it be even more efficient in cold, windy conditions.  Therefore, I find that it also is worthy of having in my preps. 

Given the choice, one or the other, or both, I would actually say:  Both!  If any of you already have a StoveTec but have the financial means to add the SilverFire, that would be my recommendation.  If you plan on “bugging in,” the StoveTec is great and can handle all of your cooking needs.  But should you need to “bug out,” the lighter and less fragile SilverFire would be advantageous. Either would give you great results and will cook your food.  Why both?   Remember the wise saying concerning preps that “one is none and two is one?”  Having both would be a great peace of mind.

Before I conclude, I want to turn your attention to the AfterBURNER Stove Corporation. The help I received from them is invaluable.  They are a family owned business and mainly sell rocket stoves and accompanying merchandise.  They treat their customers like gold.  They have a 100% money back guarantee for one full year from date of purchase, a full year bumper to bumper warranty, a free lifetime ceramic burnout guarantee on all StoveTec stoves, and a lifetime discounted replacement plan for accidentally damaged stoves. They work hard to educate and inform their customers on the use of their stoves, provide instructional videos, and are planning additions to their web site to aid in addressing various aspects of stove use and other products.  As a customer, they want you to USE your stove and gain experience, which will help you in a crisis situation.  They are available to you to develop the skills you need for success, and they offer lifetime support on any of their products via phone or email.  I would hope that customers will take advantage of that while it is available.  In a crisis, you might not be able to reach them.  They work hard to earn and keep your business.  On top of all that, they guarantee the lowest online price.   
You might think that since I got a stove to test that I am just giving them a commercial.  Not so.  I informed them that although I would test the stove and would be happy to report my findings, I would be giving it away to a friend who only had a brick stove (which I now believe could be dangerous).  I did not receive any personal gain – except for the knowledge, experience, and improvement of my skills.  I feel like I made a friend. And that was priceless.

Although I highly recommend that every family that is serious about emergency preparedness have a rocket stove, I just as strongly recommend that you work with it and build your skills.  It will serve you well in a crisis, but it is so much easier to deal with the learning curve before it’s actually needed.  Your stress level will already be high in an actual emergency.  Why make it harder for yourself than you have to?  Because it’s so much fun to operate, and can be used right now for backyard cooking, picnics, camping, and hunting, it’s a win/win situation.  So why not go out and get cooking today?

Dear Captain Rawles,
I would like to thank Al H. for his letter on the importance of studying Guerrilla Warfare tactics and also for his mention of one of my book, Contact!: A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival

There were two purposes in writing 'Contact': firstly, to pass on tactical self-defense information to aid the survival of law abiding prepper folks in a post-SHTF situation. The second was to give information on how to tactically fight a resistance campaign, although at the time I left some of the reasons for the tactics a little unsaid. Its all in there, from the tactical side of a resistance fight.

I would also like to make your readers aware that I recently opened up my tactical training site in West Virginia. I have begun running weekend courses and more information can be found on my web site here and testimonials and AARs from recent training can be found here. I hope this shows Al H. that some are stepping up to the training plate.

I am providing West Virginia and East Cast based training, and John Mosby, also known as Mountain Guerrilla, is based in the Idaho/American Redoubt area.

I also publish information and free tactical training articles on my blog.

I also have a novel available, titled Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises. The book was designed to 'bring to life' the tactics in 'Contact' and it describes what an insurgency might, or could, look like. It may be an eye opener for some. The book has a newly redesigned cover which is currently showing on the Kindle version on Amazon, not the paperback, as catches up. As well as the tactics, the role of the auxiliary is portrayed around the general setting of a resistance campaign.

I hope this helps. Live Free, Die Hard. - Max Velocity


Hello James,
I just wanted to write a brief response to Al H.'s Studying Guerrilla Warfare Tactics. Responding or replying to anything of this nature is not generally something I would do in the name of anonymity. However, I would like people out there to know that most of what Al says is true, but I, and many others, have and will continue to be preparing for and studying mobile guerrilla operations, including but not limited to recruiting, training, setting up communications, auxiliary and hit and run operations. With the hopes that these skills will never be needed, I and others that I have met, have received preliminary training in person from ex-military who are the experts, in mobile guerrilla operations, hit and run tactics, and force multipliers. There are many like-minded people out there; I believe they just don't broadcast. With the preliminary training that I had received in the past, I then had the option to continue studying/training on my own (in small groups) or forget what I had learned.
Again, I believe most of what Al has said to be true, but there are more of us out there than people think. Sincerely and Gratefully, - S., RN


You've mentioned it many times in your blog, but the foundational training for both regular and irregular warfare is marksmanship training! And you've also made many mentions of the [Project] Appleseed shoots [organized by the RWVA]. I can't think of more cost-effective way to instruct Citizen Soldiers than to do a few weekends of Appleseed shoots and an Appleseed boot camp. Only then, after you have laid down that important groundwork, go on to take yourself some top-notch training from an outfit like Gunsite, if you can afford it. Train, train, and train some more! With My Best Wishes, - Gandy D. (Warrior, semi-ret'd.)

JWR Replies: I concur. Knowledge conquers fear, and fearless warriors conquer tyrants.

Reader J.W.B. sent this article: Two Letters Addressed To Mayor Bloomberg Found To Contain Ricin. JWR's Comment: When politicians strenuously attempt to ban guns, a few disgruntled folks will try to ban politicians. When they do, they won't necessarily use only guns to do so. Human bodies are fragile and there are many ways of bringing about their demise, such as: bombs, poisons, light aircraft, UAVs, VBIEDs, incendiaries, neurotoxins, hallucinogens and dissociatives, chemical weapons, radioisotopes, small arms, electrocution, drowning, archery, oxygen-displacing inert gasses (and other forms of asphyxia and atelectasis), rockets, blunt instruments, various medical procedure "accidents", cellular-level dehydration agents, ship scuttling, aircraft sabotage, flammables, intentional introduction of diseases and parasites, binaries, architecturally-embedded klystron tubes and other microwave emitters, navigation system overrides and other malicious computer code or virii, transdermal carriers such as DMSO, liquid metal embrittlement chemicals, HVAC system sabotage, poisonous snake/insect/fish/shellfish venom, vertigo-inducing drugs, and good old-fashioned defenestration. And then there are the innumerable and unpredictable combinations thereof, and with the New Century's technology, nearly all of the aforementioned can be electronically time-delayed or remotely-controlled. So be advised that any devious attempts at depriving The People of their God-given rights could bring on the wrath of God. Of course folks like me because of our Christian restraint vent our outrage only via the ballot box and the soap box. (In my case, I'm presently standing on a 21st Century Electronic Soap Box.) But politicians should beware there are other people with far less restraint and with access to other boxes. Many of them got their training at taxpayer expense whilst on multiple deployments to nasty corners of the planet, as instruments of contemporary foreign policy. And some of these people are quite literate. They might have read Erasmus of Rotterdam, who echoed a Greek myth in Hesiod's Theogony, about an intricately carved box...

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Double whammy? D.P. sent: A 'concerning' development: New China bird flu resistant to Tamiflu. And meanwhile we read: New virus called ‘threat to the entire world’. Far greater detail on the Novel Corona Virus (NCoV) can be founds here.

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Sue in Idaho sent: 10 States with the most natural disasters.

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Y2K: Much Ado About Nothing?

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Reader Charley S. sent: Task Forces Offer Hoarders a Way to Dig Out. Charley asks: "How many steps is it from 'Hoarders are crazy and must be helped' to 'Preppers are a public-safety hazard and must be stopped'?"

   o o o

Obama’s “Fast and Furious” Gun-running Scandal Grow

"The Bank collects all taxes, fines, loans and interest, and the price of all properties which it sells and auctions. The Bank never goes broke. If the Bank runs out of money, the Banker may issue as much as needed by writing on any ordinary paper." - From the rules to the board game Monopoly.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 31st, and the queue is full. But get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 47. 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.

Making it through a worst case scenario in a two bedroom apartment is not my idea of a good chance of survival.  I read about others who are relocating to the American Redoubt or who have acquired sizeable land out away from town.  Those who have bunkers or cellars lined with shelves of log-term storage foods and an arsenal of weapons and ammo to protect it all; who have chickens and goats and a place to plant those seeds that come in the long-term storage can.  Then I look at myself and think, “Can’t do that, can’t afford that, maybe I should just lay down and die when it all hits the fan”, but that is not my nature.  So I fight back with whatever I have, and besides the Lord is on my side.  In the book of Nehemiah the Bible speaks of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and enemies who are always present; from this and many other passages I gain courage, “When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses” (Nehemiah 4:14).  “Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon.” (Nehemiah 4:17).  So I intend to prepare my family the best I can and trust the Lord to be over all.

We live in the western side of Washington State and it would not take much to make it into the American Redoubt area, but without necessary funds it seems impossible.  My husband and I also care for my brother-in-law who is 63 but mentally developed to about that of a twelve year old.  Bringing him with us in a long term bad situation would be disastrous; abandoning him is out of the question. 

We live on the edge of a smaller town and are in a relatively good location for urban surviving.  Our apartment complex is a small six unit building in a neighborhood of houses.  The railroad tracks are about four blocks from the apartment complex.  If we had to grab our get-out-of-town bags and run I think we could make it through the neighborhood to the tracks.  Once there the forested area quickly becomes thick, another mile and you hit the river.  We fish this river in the summer.  Along the river is a corridor of thick forest, meadows and farmer’s fields for miles, and it passes through several state parks and national forest land.  In my twenties (or even thirties) this would have been my go to escape route, but we are not there anymore and my brother-in-law would not even make it past the railroad tracks.  So it seems to me I need to simply face my reality and do with it what I can.  So here is my plan.

A two bedroom apartment doesn’t have a lot of storage space but I have been rearranging as much as possible to accommodate boxes of #10 cans.  A box holding six cans stacked on another box of six cans and then covered with a cloth becomes a small inconspicuous table.  The upper shelf of the linen closet holds lighter weight items.  Filing or bankers boxes stack well and are placed under the desk in the second bedroom and on the shelf in the bedroom closet.  The lowest shelf of the bookshelf in the living room holds regular sized can items, coffee, quick cook pasta meals you buy at the grocery store, and other short-term storage items.  This shelf is then draped over with a simple spring loaded curtain rod and an old pillow case.  This keeps it out of view and keeps the dust off.  These items typically have a shelf life of one to two years and need to be rotated to maintain freshness.  My brother-in-law occupies another apartment in our six unit building and a few things are stored there that would be specifically for his needs, you just have to convince him to leave them alone.  If he thinks they are old or in his way he will simply throw them in the dumpster.  The trunk of the car currently holds a get-home-bag, in case I am at work when it all comes down, and extra toilet paper.  Toilet paper is bulky.  I am sure we are not the only family with similar difficulties or restrictions for making it through TEOTWAWKI and yet feel the urge from the Lord to “prepare now”, and I hope some of this encourages those. 

Fortunately, we live on the second floor on the end apartment.  This will make it easier for us to defend ourselves if it comes to that.  A few weapons have been acquired, a .357 Magnum carbine for home defense and .380 semi auto pistol (I know, some of you are screaming, “that won’t get you anywhere”, well this is what we have to work with and besides David killed Goliath with a stone and I’m not that great with a slingshot).  Then there is the .22 Winchester rifle for small game, a .22 magnum revolver (my personal everyday concealed carry), and another .22 LR revolver small game capable.  I know it is not much and writing it down and looking at it seems puny, but I have to live in my reality and like it or not, this is it.  We have a few hundred rounds of ammo for each weapon and have great difficulty finding any more anywhere.  For this reason practicing with these weapons is very limited.  I do have a slingshot by the way and practice with it.  I bought it from A+ Slingshots and like it a lot.  My accuracy is increasing and the slingshot will put a marble through a pop can at 75 feet.  My thought is that if I need to gather small game in a quiet manner this would work well.  Whatever resources I have I intend to use them.

The river is close by and I believe we could gather water there if needed and fish.  A large container could be strapped to the bicycle and I could take the neighborhood roads a mile and a half to the river gather water and return.  My biggest concern would be doing this with bad guys around, nevertheless the resource is there.  There is also a meadow alongside the river where I have gathered Nettles in the spring.  This is another resource available just outside of town.  Learning about a few wild edible plants that grow in your area can make a difference.  Another that is easy to find here is Cat’s Ear, It grows in the small lawn next to the apartment complex.  The lawn is never sprayed so I don’t have to worry.  I prefer the young flower buds to the leaves but both are edible.  Learn a few for yourself, you might be surprised at what grows outside your front door or very close by.  Neighbors can also be a great resource.  We have one neighbor that we are like minded with.  They have a house and a few fruit trees and raise chicken.  Currently we buy our eggs from them and they let us gather the extra fruit when they have it.  I believe they will be a great resource for safe barter in the future.  Having this relationship established now gives me a greater since of confidence.

There is one other place where I have a few things stored.  Last fall we purchased a used 17 foot camper unit.  It is kept outside the apartment and we have worked hard to seal up the leaks to keep it dry inside.  Inside the camper are a few very difficult to get to storage areas and I have a few #10 cans wrapped in plastic bags stored here.  The camper also has a propane operated stove and refrigerator and a 30 gallon water tank.  These could make the first week much easier.

We have managed to acquire and hide some silver and gold.  I cashed in a small IRA early (paying the penalty for early withdrawal), and paid down some of our debt and purchased some silver and gold.  Not knowing what the real scenario will be, we diversified and bought some bullion, some old 90% silver currency (junk silver), and a few small pieces of gold.  We also have a small stash of cash on hand.  Some may not be able to do even this much, but do what you can.  Our neighbors who live in the apartment complex likely have nothing stored away even for a weekend power outage.  It has occurred to me that we may be feeding them too.  Part of me says let them be, they have made their own bed and part of me says, am I not required by God to help my neighbor if I have the power to do so, therefore I prepare with the possibility in mind.  I can dream all I want about what I would like the situation to be, but I am still left to deal with the truth at hand.

Another way I have been preparing for my probable reality is in cooking.  Just for fun, a few years back, I began making homemade pop can alcohol stoves and can wood stoves.  I have become very good at it and feel I can make a stove to cook on with just about any kind of can.  The secret is to learn how fire works and what it requires to burn efficiently.  A small amount of wood in a home-made double walled can stove burns with very little smoke.  Some designs of alcohol stoves will work even on 70% isopropyl alcohol you have in the first aid cabinet.  Denatured alcohol form the hardware store is much better.  We also have a small hibachi type charcoal grill for when the propane goes out in the gas grill and the camper unit.  Acquire different ways to cook.  There are many resources on the internet to teach you how to make a can stove, the Zen Backpacking Stoves web site is a great resource to start with.

My husband and I went on a weekend trip to eastern Washington a few weeks back and rented a cabin on the Columbia River.  We picked up some beer along the way, the kind that says “tools required” right on the cap, and once at the cabin to my dismay I discovered I had no bottle opener.  Normally I would have had every type of camping gadget/equipment with me but it wasn’t intended to be that type of a trip.  I did get the bottle opened and drank my beer; the next day I purchased two simple bottle openers for a dollar apiece at the local store.  I seems a silly lesson, but this made me realize that I needed to do something more about preparing food without electricity.  No coffee grinder, microwave, oven, electric mixer, blender, you get the idea.  I have started looking through the local thrift stores for old time cooking gadgets.  There are many great things available, bottle openers, can openers, meat grinders, hand turned mixers and egg beaters, cherry pitters, apple slicer corer peelers; you would be amazed at what you can find.  It would be great to find a hand grain grinder and a coffee grinder at an affordable price.  Tools are also available at the thrift store, hand powered drill, saws, axes, hammers, and so on, at great prices.  Get now what you think you may need.  You may need to make it through right where you are.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
So few understand insurgency and its intricacies that if the SHTF there would be no leaders in the towns and cities to teach the people who would become the auxiliary, the underground, and the guerilla units what they need to know to be successful that we would have an "epic fail" from the very start.  Insurgency is more than picking up a weapon and shooting, in fact that is a small part of insurgency.  
Most people can't even define insurgency, and that includes the so called experts in survival.  The fault doesn't lie with the people, the fault lies with all of the professionals, the teachers, the web sites, and the blogs that are supposed to be teaching the people what they need to know to survive in a post event society.  If people don't understand insurgency they will die and all the prepping will have been for nothing.
I always recommend two books for people to "begin" learning the tactics and strategies of insurgency:

Along with these books you should read a tactical manual such as Contact!: A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival by Max Velocity, and a general SHTF preparation book like "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" by James Rawles.  These books will get people started but you professionals need to start teaching this material in seminars, and courses, and online courses.  

If the people don't understand how to run an insurgency it will be over before it begins!  If the people were aware of the importance of insurgency they would be ready, willing, and able to learn and master these skills.  Right now they just don't know that they don't know.   So who will step up and fill this void?  Who will put together the regional and traveling teams, and the on line courses necessary to teach this most important subject?

Yours Truly, - Al H.

Reader Bob J. sent: Step Inside The Connecticut Gun Factory That Is Leaving The State In Protest. The article includes a nice collection of photos. And you have to love a battle rifle where the magazines only cost as little as $1.50 each.

This does not bode well for Bitcoin: Prosecutors crack down on virtual money firm

Robert G. sent: The Fiat End Game: Preparing For A Way Forward

Further evidence "spot" metals prices have become irrelevant: US Mint Resumes Selling One-Tenth Ounce Gold Coins... At A 40% Premium To Spot. Thanks to Jim W. for the link.

Items from The Economatrix:

America's Bubble Economy Is Going To Become An Economic Black Hole

Inflation, Deflation Or Hyperinflation In America & Effect On Gold And Silver Prices

A Tale Of Two Countries:  One Will Survive, One Will Not

Reader JBR sent: Automated License Plate Recognition technology is advancing at a gallop. JWR's Comment: For potentially dark days ahead, it is prudent to think through countermeasures such as mud splotches that obscure a couple of license plate digits, or of course out-of state registration. (Just one more reason to set up a family trust.)

   o o o

Readers may have noticed that my FAQ articles are living documents but they are only sporadically updated. Most recently, I updated the European Ammo Box Translations FAQ with a detail that was kindly sent to me by reader Christoper B., who wrote: " have a question mark for the abbreviation 'RDF.'  You may find the explanation of that term here, which reads in part, 'It was supplied as Lot 2 of 1928 by a supposedly unidentified maker with the code 'Rdf.' – the Rheindorf factory of Dynamit Nobel.'"

   o o os

One of the members of my local shooting club recently received another large order from the cleverly-named vendor United Nations Ammunition Company, in Arizona. This time he bought their linked USGI .50 BMG ammo, but he has also previously bought some of their .308 ammunition. Both types of ammunition were linked four rounds of ball alternating with one round of tracer. This is brand new, 2012 production, from Lake City Arsenal!

   o o o

Off to Leavenworth: Another one of Mike Bloomberg's "Crime Fighting" anti-gun mayors goes to prison today: Former Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo will report to prison camp on May 30th. I find it ironic how many members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns can no longer legally own guns, because they are convicted felons. (So they consider our guns to be legal guns, while in fact it is their guns that are truly illegal guns. Herr Dr. Freud had a word for that.) Oh, and some related news gives new meaning to the word mercenary: Top Republican Strategist Cashing Checks To Help Destroy Gun Rights… Speaking of liberal claptrap, see: This Is How the NRA Ends: A bigger, richer, meaner gun-control movement has arrived. And let me get this straight: If 3 million guys and gals join a club that lobbies congress and contributes to election campaigns, they say that is unfair political pressure and an evil "gun lobby." But if one billionaire pays 90% of the bills for a club joined by 975 mayors that lobbies congress and contributes to election campaigns, then that is just good "activism"?

   o o o

Backlash: Lawmakers facing recall bids over strict gun laws in Colorado.

"No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." - James Madison ("Political Observations," April 20, 1795)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 31st , and the queue is full. But get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 47. 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.

Waking up to the sudden realization that my safe, comfortable world as I have always known it to be was not the result of watching any “end of the world” movies or documentaries, or from reading something about it or from a friend convincing me.  I feel it was a gift, a freebie wake-up call from the heavenly powers that be.   I can’t help but think that I am supposed to be a survivor… least long enough to keep my children alive and healthy until they are grown and can then survive without my assistance.  My husband on the other hand, has been given no such gift.  He is in denial of anything going askew with the easy way of life he’s always known.  I have tried in vain to convince him of a very dire economic future.  Having information from very reputable sources placed in front of him does no good as he ignores it or explains how it’s all wrong.  I feel though, that on some level he is aware but is afraid to acknowledge the reality of it.  I fully understand that a highly unpredictable future can be too much for some people to stomach - but it’s a future, I feel in my bones is going to be encountered.  Nonetheless, it’s a difficult situation for a marriage to be in whether the one who has awakened is the husband or the wife.  But, I would bet my home-made rain barrels that it’s definitely tougher to be the wife, or female significant other who is the enlightened one.  Men for centuries have usually had the final “say-so” in most situations and our society still predominantly leans that way.  As strong and independent a person as I think I am, I still find it hard to go against my husband’s wishes.  When he comes home from work and sees the box or two of preps that have been delivered and sitting on the kitchen floor, or knows that I’ve made another run to the Thrift Store and scored more wool sweaters and blankets for the girls, I acutely feel pain when he winces or shakes his head in an “I give up!” manner.    Our marriage is still a good one, but because of my prepping it has a few dings, dents and rust spots that I wish were not there.  And let me state it clearly right now, that although my husband is still asleep as far as the reasons for prepping go, he has been one of my best life supporters, and has done more for me than anyone else could.  He has always been there for me when I was going through (and currently am) some of the worst life decisions a person has to make.  For all of those reasons and more, I will forever be loyal to him and will not allow myself to wallow in self-pity for more than a couple of minutes just because he and I are not on the same page about prepping.  My hope in writing this piece is that I can bring to light some areas of prepping that are not often thought about, plus show my empathy and understanding for those preppers who don’t have the support of their significant other.
My "awakening" just happened, out of the blue.  One day I was blissfully unaware of any potential economic, political, environmental or other such trouble, just happily skipping through life and the very next day I was aware.  Boom!  Just like that.  My day of “catastrophic awakening” was in early December, 2009.  Now in early 2013, I feel I am far better prepared than most in my middle class neighborhood, but still not where I need to be to feel really good about it.  I am coming to the conclusion that that place of comfort is unattainable.  It’s been quite an adventure, and a process from which I get little rest.  If I’m not actively doing some sort of prepping activity I’m thinking about prepping.  I closely watch the economy to see if I need to hurry my prepping up or can I wait until the credit card flips before using it again.  Though I still very much enjoy life, and participate in non-prepping activities with my friends and family, I can’t help but miss the days of blissful ignorance when I was totally unaware of impending DOOM.    I must continually read, study, buy, make, plan, think, save, and use my  imagination in anticipation of various disastrous scenarios  and prepare for them for all of us…….alone.  My husband’s only contribution is paying for most of it.  He complains frequently and loudly and I ache frequently and strongly.  Buying extra food and all the hundreds of necessary items on a tight budget is a work of art in itself.  I think only a woman can truly understand the logistics of it all.  If it were just he and I, I might not even try to prep.  But I have kids…… and that changes everything.

Another heavenly gift I was given was the desire to never become pregnant.  That didn’t mean I never wanted children, I most certainly did.  I simply never felt the need to have my genetic code replicate itself in the form of human that was half me, and half somebody else.  Even back when I could still get pregnant I felt an inkling of a looming, foreboding future. My environmental courses while attending the college didn’t help me culture a positive attitude about our world.  Why should I bring more people into an already “overly-burdened with humans and their endless problems” planet?  Adoption was the answer for me.  I won’t bring any more people in but I will be more than happy to raise those already here.  So after completing grueling reams of paperwork, background checks, intrusive home studies, and a “wait and hold-your-breath” for acceptance from a certified adoption agency, we were finally off to China to adopt the most precious two baby girls in the world!  I am determined that these two kids will not only survive life, but will have the best chance at the best life that I, and the “heavenly-gifter” (God), is willing, to provide.   I’m sure I share this deep, primitive instinctual drive with many mothers across the globe to protect their offspring even to the point of death.   Fathers, no doubt, are also deeply driven to protect their children, but my experience is from a mother’s perspective.   I’ve read many blogs about the perfect prepping relationship and living situation.  Sometimes when I start reading one of those blogs and realizing it’s another “preppers heaven” situation, I stop reading and look for something else that I can use.  I sometimes find myself having fleeting feelings of jealously mixed with a tad of resentment towards those “blessed” preppers who have it so good.  But in the final analysis, I’m really happy for them and can only imagine what it’s like to have someone to readily discuss world events, prepping needs, scenarios, to practice skills with and to have the same desires and needs concerning getting ready for an eminent catastrophe of some sort.  I don’t have that.  And, I’m probably never going to get that.  But what I have is enough…..I was given the gift of waking up and the means to prepare for the future and that is all I can ask for.  I am very grateful.  We are all exactly where we are supposed to be though I sometimes have to remind myself of that.  I’m here where God wants me to be and here is where I’m staying until God says it’s time to move.

So here’s our family situation.  The four of us are suburbanites living in a two story brick house with an unfinished basement.  And it’s the basement that may be our sanctuary.  It’s dimly lit, cold, cluttered, and just plain dirty but I pretty much enjoy being there.  It’s where I feel my prepping call the strongest, and where I can readily see the fruits of my prepping labor.  I feel a little bit closer to my Higher Power when I’m in the basement.  I receive more spiritual encouragement being there than anyplace else.  And I need that encouragement since I find it nowhere else except on my favorite survival web sites (Survival Blog my most favorite) and other blogs from my fellow internet preppers and friends.    I look around the basement and notice the windows and French doors and see all the work I still have to do to make them as secure as possible from break-ins.  I study various ways of protection but all are more than I can afford.  So, I must think, ponder, mull over and dream about effective ways of providing very inexpensive home security.  I feel that sometimes I’ve been guided to the right places at the right times.  I was at Lowe’s when they were selling “imperfect” lumber at 90% off and loaded my husband’s pick-up truck with it, and unloaded it alone when I got it home.  It took me two trips to get it all.   So now I have plenty of lumber of various lengths and sizes.  I bought four (4), metal zinc 6 and 3/8” bar holder brackets and have bolted them to the wall studs ,two on each side of the French doors and rammed two (2), 2x4’s through them directly across the doors.  I realize that all one needs to do to easily enter the basement via the French doors is to break the one of the many glass panes, slide the board out of the brackets and proceed to kick the door in or bump the dead bolt.  To prevent this I have screwed two (2), 2 and ½” screws deeply into the exposed wall studs next to the end of each 2x4 board.  I can pull outwards on the end of the boards to release them over the heads of the screws to slide them out of the brackets, but I can only do this if I’m already in the basement at the inside of the doors.  I was surprised at how well this worked!  Someone on the outside would have a hard time trying to slide the boards out of the brackets due to the stud screws stopping them.  I know I can’t keep them out, but I sure can slow them down some.   Hopefully long enough for me to grab my shotgun!

All sorts of projects are in the works and a few have been completed.  My rain barrel project was at first very intimidating but I persevered and now have three (3) of the plastic blue 55 gallon water barrels daisy-chained together and collecting off of one downspout.  And they are nicely hidden behind the huge cedar tree I took as a seedling from my grandmother’s yard several years ago.  I had read many different plans by many different people on how to make rain barrels but none of them really made clear sense to me.  So I ended up taking a little from this plan, and a little from that plan and created my own plan along the way.  The jigsaw I bought my husband for his birthday several years ago finally got used to saw the tops off of each barrel.  And I had to make a lot of trips to the hardware store and think and ponder as I stood in the PVC section playing with all the different parts and connections trying to figure out something that would work.  (The guys working at the hardware store got used to seeing me drop by nearly every day and are still interested in all of my various projects.) Then I had to decide on the best hose to use (radiator hose) to connect my barrels together, and solve a dozen or more other small but very important details.  I had some minor leaks of course at first.  After taking the barrels apart and trying rubber vs. metal washers, and with a little swearing they finally held water-tight and have been for water-tight about three years now.  They even survived a couple of hard freezes with thick ice on the top. 

Water is so extremely important.  It’s the most important thing to have, in my opinion, after shelter.  I should build more rain barrels, and I will, but only after some other things are done first.   I must admit that I’m very proud of myself for building these all by myself.  It was kind of a hard chore but a necessary one.  Hubby was surprised I did it but I wasn’t!  When I’m in the basement I also see the many 2 liter water bottles that I’ve spent hours washing and filling up with tap water just in case of a water shortage.  I used some of the lumber I got at Lowe's to make separate shelves for my canned food and home-bottled water.  I have to keep as much on the cheap as possible so I bought  masonry concrete blocks for a little over one dollar each  and made shelves using some of that lumber.  I’m tall, 5’10”, and the top shelf is at head level.  Canned food and bottled water weigh a lot so these shelves have to be strong.   They are great to see what I have in order to keep them off the floor and to rotate in and out. 

Still, so many other skills needed to be mastered… still seems overwhelming at times.   I often find myself thinking back to the days when I was a young girl and staying with my grandmother out in the country.   She was a real country woman who could have taught me a lot of self-survival skills.  I watched her work in her huge garden, then canning the vegetables she grew.  She even made her own soap from wood ash and lard out in the yard.  I just took it all for granted…….but at least I still have the memories.   My grandmother would be proud of me now.  I’ve learned to pressure can, garden, dehydrate veggies and fruit, sew, (build rain barrels!), make soap (but not yet out of wood ash and lard) and am still working my way up the learning curve.  I need to learn how to quilt, make pottery, hunt (dread that but will if I have too), fish for real – not pleasure fishing, and a ton of other skills.  I also think about skills I need to have in case we need to find a new community to live in.  I want to be found useful enough for us to be allowed into a safe situation.  I’m a music teacher by trade, and even have a Reiki II level training in healing.  I’m always trying to improve myself to become more useful by way of skills.    Women are naturally useful in many ways but those who only have training in artificial human-made vocations such as law and economics may be in for an extra hard time if they don’t get practical training in everyday life skills.   Same of course, goes for men.

Though I speak of possible future community acceptance, right now bugging out is not a viable option for us.   Being a woman, I see things perhaps, somewhat differently from most men.  Instead of focusing on BOLs, BOVs, guns, and ammo to a great extent, I prepare for life right here, where we are in our suburban neighborhood.  All of our lives are here, everyone we know and love is nearby.  To “bugout” is not realistic for us, at least at this point in time, so I am preparing for life right here.   I’ve read many pros and cons about bugging out, and feel leaving would definitely not be in our best interest.  If we had a place to go to maybe we would bug out.  But for us to hit the road when all hell breaks loose with nowhere to go would do us no particular good.  My plan is, as a woman who is doing this without any input or advice from her husband, is to stay put for as long as we can.  Danger lurks greater out there for women and children than for men.  I think about situations that probably few men think about.  Most of them probably aren’t overly worried about getting raped, though it may cross their minds concerning the women in their family.  I especially fear something bad happening to my girls such as getting raped, or murdered or both.  Women have deep fears rarely expressed, even to each other.   By far most of our fears relate to our children’s welfare and all the dangers involved.  And all of these fears can happen right at home too.  I feel my ability to protect is far superior from behind walls with a loaded shotgun than walking out in the open with my kids at my side and all I can carry on my back.  Such exposure I cannot tolerate.  Also, I have to have faith in something greater than myself that we will be alright.  If I do the footwork (prepping) I can leave the results of my prepping to God.  I didn’t wake up suddenly with a desire to prep for no good reason.  Nor did anyone else who is preparing for disaster whether it be small, great, or somewhere in between.  Those of us who have awoken have done so for reasons that may exist far beyond our immediate ability to grasp them.  Who knows what the Universe has in store for us, but hopefully very wonderful things!  If preppers are fortunate to be living with others of like mind, then their jobs are much easier and much more enjoyable. However, not all of us live in such a good situation and have to carefully balance prepping duties and marriage duties ever so carefully.  Some of us face outright hostility, and others, like me, endure mostly silent scorn.  And this hostility, whether overt or covert, can cause some irrational feelings to be felt.  On rare occasion, I have found myself actually wishing the economy would suddenly crash, or that a CME would race towards earth causing destruction of our electrical grid, or even a pandemic to occur just to prove to my husband that I was right!   But that kind of thinking is crazy, and I know it’s just my ego.  At least I realize it when it happens and can see it for what it’s worth.  I’m only human……we’re all only human and so I don’t berate myself about having such thoughts.  I guess if God, or whatever our personal Higher Power is, wanted everyone to have help from our spouses or significant others, then we all would have their help.   This is definitely my solo learning journey. 

Prepping is now a way of life for me.  It’s something that I have come to enjoy for the most part, despite having to do a lot of it in secret.  It’s futile to discuss world economic or political situations, or anything that might lead to reasons why I prep.   He and I just aren’t on the same page and attempts to discuss differing points of view always lead to bad feelings in the both of us.  Also, I can’t share even little things like my great news about all the wonderful clothes I bought for next to nothing at my favorite thrift store, in larger and larger sizes for the girls as they grow. Or about the nearly brand new Timberland boots I scored for only 4 dollars at Goodwill!  I bring home my items in secret and store them away in secret without telling anyone.  I check all my favorite web sites everyday for bargains on the things I feel are necessary.  The headlamps, two for the price of one, the large spools of dirt cheap sewing thread, the solar battery chargers and rechargeable batteries, the manual floor sweepers, the survival books, the oil lamps, ceramic water filters, the heirloom vegetable seeds and more – all ordered off the internet in secret.  The other items such as soap, OTC medicines, antibiotics, toothpaste, toothbrushes, boxes of salt, lamp oil, wicks, propane tanks, candles galore, ammo, slingshots and replacement bands, bicycle tires and tubes, toilet paper, tools, etc…. are all secretly stashed away in the bowels of the basement.  Some special items that I have purchased I feel are very important and would like to list them here.  These are spring-loaded rat traps, fly strips, essential oils, flea control, colloidal silver generator, distilled water, canning jar lids, self-clumping kitty litter by the 40 lb. buckets (the empty plastic buckets can be used for other purposes), fire extinguishers, several rolls of 12 ml. window film and tubes of clear latex caulk.  I feel these items are especially important.  Flies and rodents will be a BIG problem if garbage is allowed to accumulate and ugh, I hate to say it, but if dead bodies are inside and outside of houses the flies will be super thick.  Flea outbreaks will also be a bad problem if SHTF and will be carriers of disease.  I want to keep my pets as flea-free as possible for as long as possible so I buy extra of those small tubes of flea control that you squirt on their backs.  Also, in the last month I was able to purchase a rocket stove and thermal cooker which should save a lot on fuel.  I am very concerned about hygiene if the grid goes down and I plan on using the kitty litter in makeshift 5 gallon toilet buckets, if we can’t flush toilets or there is no water.  Having plenty of pre-packaged adult washcloths, gallons of hand sanitizer gel and other cleaning supplies is extremely important.  If you manage to survive the first round of SHTF trials and tribulations, you certainly do not want to succumb to any diseases afterwards due to unsanitary hygiene.  I bought a lot of these items from Sam’s Club and many others I ordered from

I have placed the window film on all the lower level windows and all the basement windows (finally finished that since I started writing this piece!) and carefully caulked the edges with clear latex caulk to give them added strength for resistance to break-ins.  Security is always first and foremost in my mind.  I even tried out my home-made water purifying system on myself to make sure it worked.  I took some really nasty rainwater out of one of my barrels and ran it through my ceramic filtering system (I leak tested it first), then added a little bleach, stirred and let it sit for a while.  I poured myself a tall glassful of the filtered water and chug-a-lugged it down.  I got sort of scared for a moment, but the deed had been done and now I just had to wait and see if I got sick or not.  I am happy to report that I did not have any problems whatsoever!
Another thing I have done to try and protect my two girls is to buy larger sized boys clothing at the thrift stores.  I have even gone so far as to buy boys underwear to complete the desired look.  I plan on turning my girls into “boys”….at least temporarily.  If the situation gets bad enough, I will cut their hair short, and dress them as boys.  Boys get sexually attacked too, but not as often as girls.  I will even turn myself temporarily into a man.  I guess my husband will just have to deal with it for a while. (LOL.)  At least he’s aware of that possibility so it won’t come as a total shock should it happen.  If women don’t look like easy targets, then they won’t be as prone to attack.  And temporarily looking like a man is a small price to pay for safety.  At least that’s how I see it.  I also practice with my 12 gauge shot gun.  I don’t get to shoot it as much as I would like, but I try to keep reinforcing muscle memory by using the fake metal shells I bought from the gun store.  Quick loading and racking practice…..over and over. 

As well as acquiring the physical preps to keep us healthy and happy for the duration, I have also been buying rolls of mercury dimes when I could afford too.  I don’t have many, but even with all the careful planning and scenario predicting, I will not think of everything.  I’ll need some way to buy those items I overlooked, if they can still be bought.  Barter is always possible, but I don’t spend any money on items to use for barter.  I know some people do, but I simply can’t spare it and really hope to not have to barter, at least not much.   Luckily I bought a boat load of .22 caliber rounds some months back so if that becomes currency I good to go.

And lest I forget, I want to tell you about some signs I have downloaded from the internet, printed out and laminated for future use, if necessary.   You can easily find, “BEWARE OF DOG”, the Gadsden flag symbol, and various bright orange and black infectious diseases warning labels all free and downloadable from the internet.  Of course you can create your own signs as you see fit.  I have made several “LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT” signs in various sizes and have all these signs nicely laminated and stored in a folder to pull out and attach to the doors and windows as needed.  I even made extra signs for the neighbors to use.  This is another step towards home security to warn and hopefully thwart off anyone who may be having thoughts of annoying me and my family in any way.  Also, having the signs in Spanish might not be a bad idea either.   Get these made now in case there is no electricity later to use your computer and printer.

Since I have been continuously prepping since late 2009, I have accomplished a lot bit by bit over the months and years.  I feel mostly alright about the preps, but I will always worry about security.  I think about what will happen to my neighbors who show no indications of any knowledge of what catastrophe(s) is/are coming down their pike in the near future.  Will they be prepared or will I have to make those hard decisions about sharing my preps and endure all the heart-ache involved in that?  Should I try to approach my neighbors and talk about disaster preparedness and get an idea on where they stand without divulging too much information about my situation?   Opsec is so critical to me.  I want too talk with them very badly and will most likely do so but I must be very careful with my words.....this is an area that will take much prayer and guidance before any discussions with my neighbors occur.  Having neighbors on board however, is a prep item that is better than anything else.  I am dreading the approach, but as calamity gets closer and closer I really must talk with them.  And if they feel nothing is bad is ever going to happen, then at least I will know better how to deal with them later should they come knocking on my door asking for some of my preps.

For women who especially are having a difficult time doing what they know is the right thing to do, while keeping the waters calm at home is in the very least, a challenge for which a gold medal should be awarded.  Ending a relationship that otherwise is very good, is a terrible loss.  In the initial months of my prepping I was concerned that our marriage might end, but after nearly 4 years I suppose we’re still solid.  I know that God put me and my husband together for very good reasons.   I have absolutely no doubt about that.   And my husband was born and raised in the country and knows a lot about hunting, fishing and those skills of which I am at a loss, so he most definitely will be very helpful when the time comes.  He will shine as a protector and warrior, as that will be his heavenly gift from God. 

I hope I have helped someone by writing all of this.  I am forever grateful for all the wisdom and good advice I have been freely given by those who contribute to this site and to the many other sites I have read and enjoyed.  I just wanted to try and give back as best I could.  God bless everyone and thank-you!

I live in Tennessee where mosquitoes, chiggers, and ticks thrive.  There are two wet weather ponds near my home and if I go to my shooting range in the evening or early morning, the mosquitoes will make any quality time really miserable.  While working in the gardens and fields, one has to be constantly checking themselves for ticks.
Last year about April I read a short paragraph in Countryside Magazine from a gentleman (I believe from Maine) that has taken a Vitamin B1 tablet starting in April and takes them every day until the first killing frost in the Fall for the past 43 years.  He never gets bitten by mosquitoes, chiggers, or ticks.
I decided there was nothing to lose by trying it.  It took a couple weeks for the B1 to get through my system but from that point on through Fall I never had one mosquito bite or tick bite.  I had mosquitoes land on me (briefly), ticks crawled on me while on the range, in the woods, or in the garden, but not one bite.
I put this information out to everyone on my email list.  One of those people is a very good friend that also happens to be a doctor (M.D.).  He emailed me back to inform me that the Vitamin B1 "trick" was one of the first things that was taught in medical school.  He and I can only offer conjecture as to why this information isn't put out en mass.
I buy cheap Vitamin B1 tablets at the local big box store.  I think the price is about $4.00 for one bottle that will last one person the entire Spring/Summer insect season.  Prior to this, I was spending at least 4 times this amount of chemical sprays that were marginal at best. - Carl in Tennessee 


I prefer to anesthetize ticks with nail polish remover (acetone-type) on a cotton ball or pad for 5 minutes and just flick them off outside away from my house. Ticks absorb the acetone through their “skin” as well as breathe it. It takes patience but nothing should be regurgitated from the tick into your blood stream. You should not press hard with the cotton even though it itches. Although I hate to do it, dogs and cats need Frontline. - Stuart R.


Mr. Rawles:
A couple of notes on the recent article "Bad as a Bullet: Tick and Mosquito-Borne Diseases":

A few years ago it was discovered that Lyme disease is under debate as a possibly preventable hereditary illness! I had Lyme disease when I was about 19. Back around 1991. I honestly don't remember when it was. Unfortunately, I also discovered I'm allergic to tetracycline, which at the time was the primary treatment for the disease, so I was forced to stop treatment about halfway through the cycle. Many years later when my wife was expecting our baby, I was encouraged to be retested for the Lyme spirochetes. Lyme disease is still considered a vector-borne illness, but it apparently can be transferred to children pre-natally, from the mother, with the mother now being considered the vector [as well as a genetic tendency that can be passed from either the mother or the father.] I'm not kidding. Scary stuff. I was clean of the Lyme disease so presumably my child is okay as well, but I still (20 years after contracting Lyme disease) have rheumatoid arthritis symptoms because of having it as a teenager.

Secondly, regarding Silent Spring and Rachel Carson: I have read that while eliminating DDT (and similar insecticides) has benefited some people, more people have died from malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses than could ever have been injured by the insecticides. Rachel Carson's primary concern was for birds' reproductive systems, but humans are also sometimes injured by DDT. In the long term, however, more people are injured than helped by the absence of that particular pesticide. Consider this article in Audubon magazine regarding DDT. If even Audubon says DDT serves a useful role, then it might be time to overrule the Stockholm Convention and put it back into use.

Best, - J.D.C. in Mississippi

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) spotted this: Passed from War to War': Germany's Small Arms Exports Double. Mike's Comment: "This news story has been picked up by most German major papers. It is being seen as a way to attack Angela Merkel's "Merkel Doctrine". I believe it is safe to say that this might decrease the number of German Federal International Small Arms Export Licenses. This might impact the supply of H&Ks and Walthers in the US, which may push up retail prices."

Mike also flagged this from Stratfor: The Growing Importance of the Arctic Council

The Japanese Financial System Is Beginning To Spin Wildly Out Of Control. (Thanks to Jim W. for the link.)

Long-term economic implications? Biodiversity Loss Becoming Major Threat For Farmed Plants And Livestock Breeds. (Saving heirloom seed varieties and raising rare livestock breeds is wise and could prove profitable.)

Back to Basics – Gold, Silver, and the Economy

Anyone looking for a genuine Faraday room to protect their electronics from EMP and solar storms should contract with TruProtect.

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Whoa, there Facebook Bots! Some tirelessly industrious web bots have mined data from Wikipedia and created tens of thousands of unauthorized Facebook pages. For example: There is one in my name, one titled Patriots, one titled Survivors, and one titled American Redoubt. To clarify: these were not my creation, and the Facebook company never asked my permission. I'd prefer that they be removed, but that would require a costly lawsuit. (Facebook creates "fan" pages for umpteen topics, and they generally refuse to remove them.) I detest Facebook. Please do not do anything to promote those pages.

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F.G. sent: Mystery of Irish Potato Famine Solved

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F.G. also suggested: Common mistakes in self-defense shootings

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Tips from Kim Komando: Keep the FBI from spying on your e-mail . (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

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G.G. and Pierre M. both flagged this: Privacy advocates wary of push to mandate auto 'black boxes'

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Andre D. sent this headline from Germany: Professor Warns Mini Ice Age has Started

"The great merit of gold is precisely that it is scarce; that its quantity is limited by nature; that it is costly to discover, to mine, and to process; and that it cannot be created by political fiat or caprice." - Henry Hazlitt

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 31st, and the queue is full. But get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 47. 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 have SCUBA friends from Canada who do a lot of camping, and one year the wife came down with a debilitating illness that put her out of work for many months.  The medical system there did not make it easy to consult a specialist, especially one familiar with arthropod-borne diseases.  She showed all the symptoms of Lyme disease, including weakness, fever, sore joints, lethargy, headaches, and muscle aches.  Plus she had been exposed to ticks while camping.  She suffered for over a year before she slowly recovered.  Though it was never confirmed to be a tick-borne illness, odds are it was.

Another friend, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves who lives in Connecticut, came down with fever and joint pain and was diagnosed with three tick-borne diseases, which put him out of work for a year and a half.  It's not unusual for a tick to carry more than one of these nasty infections at a time.

Ticks and mosquitoes can put you out of action just as easily as a bullet.  In fact, throughout history disease has caused more casualties in war than any other factor, including combat.  When you're fighting for survival in the field, your hygiene is reduced, your stress is high, and your immune system is depressed.  You may not have time to check yourself for ticks every day, but you certainly should.  If you served in Vietnam, you lost a lot of blood to mosquitoes over there, and were exposed to malaria as well.  In the Middle East its sand flies.

There are seven major species of ticks found in the continental United States that can carry disease.  It's not important to be able to tell them apart, just know what a tick looks like.  I start seeing ticks on dogs in the spring, and usually have a collection of a couple dozen by the end of May.  People bring their dogs in for a "lump," or what they think may be a skin tag.  Ticks are always on the surface of the skin, and do not burrow into or under the skin.  Just their mouthparts penetrate.

An adult tick is about 3/16 to ¼" long, oval, and has eight legs.  An engorged tick full of blood can be ½" long.  Photos of live ticks in the wild generally show the tick on a leaf or blade of grass with one or two of its front legs reaching out.  You could say they're thumbing for a ride, because when an animal or man passes by, a small hook at the end of the leg grabs onto hairs or fabric. 

Now, they don't have their leg out all the time, but just like a hitchhiker, they put it out when something stimulates them.  Carbon dioxide from your breath is the number one trigger that they sense, and it may also be the reason they move to the head area once they're on board.  There are more capillaries close to the surface of the skin on the head and neck, too, for them to access.

Vibrations in the ground as you tromp along the trail can be felt on the end of that blade of grass by the tick, and even air movement or body heat may be a factor for them to reach out and say, "Hey!"  Although a tick may feed anywhere on the body, they do tend to migrate up (on humans) or forward on animals.  We may find them attached at our waistline or armpits, but more commonly in the hairline on the neck or behind the ears.  Adult ticks are usually felt when you run your hands through your hair, but odds are you will never feel the bite.

Ticks produce a potent anesthetic in their saliva that numbs the skin where their mouthparts penetrate.  They actually grab or glue to a small fold of skin and won't let go.  When you remove a tick, it often comes away with that tiny piece of skin in its mouth.  Another ingredient of the saliva is an anticoagulant to keep the blood flowing until the female tick is filled to the max and falls off, ready to lay eggs.

Adult ticks are usually easily noticeable and readily found, but the smaller nymph stage is equally infective and can be quite small and hard to find.  The blacklegged tick (deer tick), the primary transmitter of Lyme disease, has a nymph stage that is so tiny it will fit inside the "O" in "ONE DIME" (pull out a dime and see).  It would indeed take a fine-toothed comb to find one on a dog, and could easily go unnoticed for days on a human.

We test dogs every year for heart worms (mosquito-borne), and the test we use also checks for Lyme, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis from ticks.  The incidence in Ohio for Lyme is one out of 172, anaplasmosis is one out of 300, and ehrlichiosis is one out of 324.  (2012,  The study that came up with these figures is far from accurate, however, because only a fraction of dog owners have their pets checked for heartworm every year, let alone have them on heartworm preventives.  So the actual occurrence of these diseases is undoubtedly higher.  The point is, where there's ticks, there is also disease.

While the "system" is working, you can use 20% or stronger DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin to repel ticks and mosquitoes.  Some clothing comes treated with permethrin that is effective tor numerous washings, or you can buy permethrin treatment kits to do your own clothes.  Eventually, you will run out of these consumables in a TEOTWAWKI situation, and you will have to fall back on daily full-body inspections for ticks, which may have additional benefits if you are checking each other.

Some sources recommend wearing light-colored clothing, which one theory states ticks don't like, or more likely because they are easier to spot crawling on light colors.  If you're wearing camo, this won't work so well.  Tuck your pant legs into your boots.  I've always preferred over-the-calf Thorlo® anti-fatigue or combat boot socks with drawstring cuff BDU pants, in-the-boot combination.  With everything tucked in, including t-shirts into underpants, it's more likely a tick that gets through the barriers will end up on the neck and head, making it easier to find.

There are several neat little devices out there to remove ticks, but plain old tweezers or forceps work well, too.  These tick tools are designed to grasp the head of the tick near the skin, so that you don't squeeze the body (and supposedly squirt juices into your skin).  Steady, gentle traction will pull the tick off your skin.  Do not jerk it or burn it with a match or cigarette.  More likely you will get burned also.  Remember, ticks do not burrow, so they'll be obviously above the skin but attached to it.

A simple tick tool you can make requires a stout plastic teaspoon and a Xacto® "razor saw."   Cut a shallow-angled "V" in the tip of the spoon bowl, about ½" deep.  Slide the bowl channel under the tick and lift upward with gentle traction, and the tick will come away.  Now you can burn it or crush it.  Wash the bite area with soap and water, betadine or alcohol, and wash your hands, too, if you handled the tick.

Mosquitoes are also bad as a bullet.  Worldwide they kill more people than anything else (malaria), yet before Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" brought about the ban on DDT, it was on the decline.  Millions have died since the ban, and continue to drop from malaria.  More than any other product to prevent malaria (and other mosquito-borne diseases), the mosquito net stands supreme.  Costing anywhere from $5 to $100, you can get a travel-size bed canopy net or military surplus nets that are suspended above your cot or ground cover.  There are many choices.

Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, but in wooded or tropical areas they bite all day and night, and prefer the shade and humidity.  They are attracted to carbon dioxide, perspiration, body odors, and body heat.  Researchers found that mosquitoes do have clothing color preferences, too.  They seem attracted more to dark colors, and prefer blue.  Unlike the tick, you'll usually feel the initial bite of a mosquito, but then its saliva numbs the wound and you won't notice until its tank is full.

In the USA mosquitoes carry various encephalitis viruses, including Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Viruses and West Nile Virus.  Case fatality rates run from 0.3% to as high as 60%.  With little medical supportive care available after a collapse, more will die.  Up to 50% of survivors have continuing problems with neurologic aftereffects.  You don't want this, so take prevention seriously. 

Remove or drain all standing water containers (old tires, cans) from your habitat area.  Check roof gutters also for standing water, and if you have water catch barrels cover them with screen to keep mosquitoes from breeding in the water.  Adding goldfish to ponds helps to keep the mosquito larvae population under control.  While the federal and state governments are under control, it is illegal to use oil, soap, or other products on standing water that "suffocate" the larvae.  And in most areas you need to have a license to apply any chemical to the environment for insect control.  You don't want to poison your own environment.

Repellants are great while you have them, but keeping your skin and head covered is the best protection.  Head nets are available, and the army surplus nets with a thin metal suspension ring work well.  There are natural repellants that work fairly well, too, using essential oils, but again they will eventually run out.  Avoiding mosquito havens, like swampy and dark areas, will reduce your attacks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a good web site for information on ticks and mosquitoes, and it's relatively easy to prevent these illnesses.  Just watch out for them and check yourself every day, as well as do what you can to repel them.

Quite the confab! I heard that Freeze Dry Guy, the staff of the Paratus Familia blog, Chris Walsh of Revolutionary Realty, Joe Snuffy (author of Suburban Survival: Preparing for Socio-Economic Collapse) and John Jacob Schmidt of Radio Free Redoubt will all have tables or booths at the upcoming Patriots and Self-Reliance Rally at Farragut State Park, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on July 26, 27 & 28, 2013. Among the many speakers will be three names that should be familiar to SurvivalBlog readers: Pastor Chuck Baldwin, Stewart Rhodes (of Oath Keepers), and Cope Reynolds of Southwest Shooting Authority. (Cope was one of the locale advisors for my novel Survivors. And you may recall that I've previously mentioned in the blog that he does fantastic Glock grip reduction/stippling work and that he makes a nifty Glock dry fire-only safety training trigger. )

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Wyoming gets gun company attention

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Folks in southern Idaho should mark your calendars for the 3rd Idaho Liberty Summit, August 16th and 17th, 2013 at the Best Western Plus Burley Inn & Convention Center, in Burley, Idaho at exit 208 off I-84. The speakers will include Sheriff Richard Mack, Larry Pratt of GOA, Dr. Duke Pesta (speaking about the Common Core Standards for education), Rep. Ken Ivory of the American Lands Council, and
Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Registration for the Summit is $50 per person on Saturday, August 17th, and includes lunch.  Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and Speakers begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 pm.  For further details, see the TeaPartyBoise web site.

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This company in Sandpoint, Idaho recently made some headlines: Intelliscope Announces Tactical Rifle Adaptor and iOS App. (Thanks to Tom L. for the link.)

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I heard about an ammunition manufacturer in Montana dedicated to providing ammo to private citizens: Patriot Firearms and Munitions. They do not sell to any government agencies. Because they make their own jacketed bullets they are not as dependent on third party suppliers as most other ammo makers. Not only do they sell re-manufactured and new ammo, they also have a program where clients send them their brass and they recondition, clean, process and reload it for them. This save customers money because they do not have to pay for the brass (because it’s theirs) and it eliminates the 11% Federal Excise tax that otherwise levied on ammunition at the manufacturer level and then passed on to end purchasers as a hidden tax.

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The Terror Cartel Strikes in Idaho.

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Apparently, it is true what they say about people who use the Comic Sans font: An American Redoubt coin being sold for $3,800. Idealistischen träumen!

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Some great eastern Washington scenery is shown in the latest Ttabs flying video: Coming Up For Air. (OBTW, it appears that he does not yet have a full set of cameras mounted on his new kite -- an Air Creation 100 horsepower Tanarg. His videos will surely get better and better.)

SurvivalBlog reader Bob in Manassas, Virginia sent a strong word of warning that stock, bond, and derivatives traders now leveraging to the hilt: Investors Are Borrowing Like Crazy To Leverage Up Their Stock Market Bets. Bob's comment: "You have often spoken of the risks associated with derivatives. In addition to that risk, the article here demonstrates that investors have historically low (negative) net worth in their accounts due to margin leverage. I would suggest that one strongly possible consequence is that because most of these are institutions of one sort or another and most are using computer-based trading, when the turn comes they will exit quickly , and the crash will be massive in both size and speed."

A hot commodity: California gun shop owner: 9mm ammo ‘has a shelf life of about 5 minutes’ (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

40 Statistics About The Fall Of The U.S. Economy That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

Andre D. sent: Doomsday investors betting on market crash

Over at Gold-Eagle: No Bear Market In Gold (Dr. Paul Craig Roberts)

You might have noticed that the former "Free Tibet" movement has quietly morphed into to the "Save Tibet" movement. I suppose that the word "Free" sounded too much like an active verb for those in the Kumbaya crowd.... I find that pitiful. Some of us still support the Khampas and their tactics. (Yes, there are still a few of them, stalwartly soldiering on. Sort of like The Forest Brotherhood, but without as much forest.)

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Good news from the Live Free Or Die State: State’s stand-your-ground law intact

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Chuck H. sent this news about declining aquifers in the Midwest: Wells Dry, Fertile Plains Turn to Dust

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The Homestead Store is running a 40% off sale on their excellent Homesteading DVD series.  This sale runs until the end of June, 2013. The discount code is HCP123.

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F.G. sent: Detroit Gun Rights Advocates Stage Successful Protest At ‘Guns For Groceries’ Event

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G.G. sent: The Government Wants A Backdoor Into Your Online Communications

"Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad." - James Madison (Letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1798)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Today is celebrated as Memorial Day in the United States, a day when we honor those who have died in combat, defending the nation. We are in their debt.


We can also celebrate that the Illinois legislature just voted to repeal the state's concealed carry ban, with a veto-proof majority. It is now up to the Illinois State Senate, that is notoriously more statist. If they do the right thing, concealed carry may soon be legal in all 50 States! Freedom is on the march. Let 's press on to make that no permit open or concealed carry ("Constitutional Carry"), nationwide!

I find it curious that the definition of "weapon of mass destruction" has become more elastic and quite geographically dependent in recent years. When it is used to describe events overseas, the phrase still seems to include only lethal chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. But here in the States, it can mean something as small as a pressure cooker packed with 10 pounds of black powder, or even just a home-made hand grenade containing perhaps eight ounces of explosive. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has ordered laser-guided GBU-38 JDAMs up to 2,000 pounds dropped on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen, yet nobody calls those "weapons of mass destruction." Curious, indeed.

I'd like to emphasize an important point: Words and phrases do indeed have specific meanings. It is troubling when journalists, law enforcement officers, and politicians sling around a phrase like "weapon of mass destruction" when they actually mean "destructive device." The standards used by prosecuting attorneys should be exacting and scrupulous, but some prosecutors now seem to decide who to charge (or not charge) based on appearances and the relative popularity of those involved. An aside for any readers who might someday be impaneled on a jury or a grand jury: I urge you to show wisdom and discernment. Adhere to the strict definitions of the black letter law, but remember that you have the right to weigh both the facts of the case and the validity of the law itself.

Because so many items are "dual use," it is important to distinguish the intent of the owners of explosive or incendiary chemical compounds, and their precursor chemicals. Nearly every household in America at any given time contains three items: gasoline, Mason jars and rags. But that doesn't mean that we intend to make Molotov Cocktails and burn down the White House. Nay, 99.99% of Americans use those items in peaceful ways--like fueling our cars, and for canning peaches. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of recreational shooters own some Tannerite or Sure Shot exploding target powder. But that doesn't mean that we intend to contain it in cookware and position it at the terminus of marathon races. And there are tens of thousands of pounds of Thermite in private hands, but that powder can be used for both practical welding and for burning a hole in an APC's engine block.

In the past decade the distinction between connotation and denotation has been blurred by politics. The definitions of words should not change with every shift in the winds of public sentiment. Our society has already suffered from four decades of Situational Ethics. Heaven help us in this new era of Situational Definitions. A rocket scientist or military engineer can teach you about Sympathetic Detonations, but it is 21st Century television commentators who have introduced us to the era of Sympathetic Denotations. We now live in an Orwellian world where a semi-auto rifle is arbitrarily called an "assault rifle" if it has black plastic furniture, where a standard capacity magazine is called a "high capacity" magazine, where the confiscation and redistribution of wealth is dubbed "fairness." This also a new age when folks who are given free health care, HD televisions, free cell phones, and enough money to be able to afford air conditioning are deemed to be "living in poverty." The fluidity of our language is evidence that America is sliding into oblivion.

Hold fast to the true meaning of words and phrases, or we are doomed. - J.W.R.

NOTE: This article is adapted from my book When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival.
Who could not be shocked and saddened by the images of massive devastation left in the wake of recent tornadoes that struck in Oklahoma and Texas? Though nothing can guarantee absolute safety in the path of a tornado, outside of a shelter with reinforced concrete and steel walls, understanding something about the nature of tornadoes, safety tips for surviving a tornado strike, and which common folklore is to be trusted or ignored, will improve your chances for making the right decision when confronted by a tornado.

Tornado Facts and Myths

• It is commonly believed that tornadoes happen mostly in the spring, but the peak of tornado season varies with location, and tornadoes can occur any month of the year. For example, the peak of tornado season in the northern plains and upper Midwest is June or July but it is from May to early June in the southern plains, and even earlier in the spring for the Gulf Coast.
• There is a myth that tornadoes can only spawn and strike in relatively flat areas, but they have actually occurred in high areas of the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, and Appalachian Mountains. Though more frequent in the flatter areas of the plains states and the southeast, tornadoes have been spotted in such varied locations as Vermont, upstate New York, Nevada, and one hiker spotted and photographed a tornado at 12,000 feet in the Sequoia National Park of California.
• A common myth is that trailer parks attract tornadoes. They certainly do not attract tornadoes, but due to their light weight and lack of heavy-duty anchoring to strong structural foundations, trailers are extremely vulnerable to damage from tornadoes.
• Another common myth is that you should open your windows to allow the pressure to equalize should a tornado strike your home. Do not waste your time opening windows. If a tornado strikes, it will blow out the windows, and the last place you should be is near a window, where there is the greatest danger from flying debris and glass.
• There is a common myth that owing to the direction of rotation of tornadoes in the Northern Hemisphere the southwest corner of a building is the safest place to be. This myth is totally false. Corners are areas of buildings that are most prone to damage. The safest areas are in the center of the building in a windowless room or closet, and on the lowest level (in the basement if there is one).
• There is a common myth that highway overpasses provide protection from tornadoes. In fact, the underside of a highway overpass often acts as a wind tunnel, channeling high winds and debris, and there are a number of reported deaths of people who parked under an overpass while seeking shelter from approaching tornadoes.

Tornado Prediction and Warnings

A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) when they have determined that local conditions are ripe for generating tornadoes. Once a tornado watch has been issued, it is advisable to stay tuned to your local radio and television stations for further updates. If you live in tornado country, the use of a NOAA weather radio is highly recommended, especially those models that have a battery backup and can emit an audible warning whenever a severe weather alert is issued. This is the time to turn on the audible alarm switch on your NOAA radio to alert you if the watch is upgraded to a warning. Once a tornado watch has been issued, stay alert using your eyes, ears, and other senses to watch for signs of an approaching tornado, and make sure you have access to a safe shelter. Watch for unusual behavior on the part of pets and animals that might be an indication of an approaching tornado.

Once a tornado has been spotted visually, or on weather radar, a tornado warning is issued. Once a warning has been issued, you should take immediate precautions and seek shelter. If you live in a mobile home or other poorly protected building, you should seek shelter elsewhere, if possible. Bring your radio with you to listen for status updates and an “all-clear” signal when the warning is over.

Note: Sirens and severe weather alerts may provide advance tornado warnings, but tornadoes can occur in any season and without warning!

Tornado Survival Tips and Strategies

• If you are at home, seek shelter in the bottommost floor, and innermost area, such as an inner hallway, bathroom, or closet. Stay away from windows, outer walls, and building corners. Do not waste time opening windows.
• If you have a “safe room” (a specially constructed room protected by reinforced concrete and/or steel), a basement, root cellar, or storm cellar, those are the safest places to be. In the basement, the safest place is under a sturdy table or mattress, and in a position that is not directly below heavy items on the floor above, such as a refrigerator or piano.
• Protect yourself as best as possible. Wear a bicycle or hockey helmet, if you have one. Crouching in a bathtub or shower stall can provide improved protection, as can lying under a sturdy table or overturned couch.
• If you are in a car, do not try to outrun a tornado as it can travel at speeds in excess of 70 mph. However, it is worth taking a moment to watch the tornado closely, comparing its motion to a fixed object on the ground, so as to gauge its direction of travel. If you see it moving to one side or the other, and can travel in the opposite direction, then do so. If it does not appear to move to the left or right, it is headed straight for you. In that case, you must make a decision. If you have the option of traveling to the right or left, then do so, but if you are stuck in traffic, or the tornado is very close, you must abandon your vehicle and seek shelter, since tornadoes can easily pick up cars and even tractor trailers, sometimes throwing them hundreds of yards. If possible, pull your car to the side of the road and do not park in lanes of traffic, since with the heavy rains that often accompany tornadoes, a driver traveling at high speeds might not see your car parked in the middle of the road.
• If you are stuck in your car with an impending tornado strike, crouch down as low as you can, with your seatbelt buckled, staying away from the windows, and shielding your head with your arms and hands.
• If you are in the open, perhaps having abandoned your car, seek shelter in a building or culvert, or lie down flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Not a pleasant thought, but people have survived tornadoes by doing this! Stay away from cars and trees, since they will become heavy flying objects with the power to kill and maim.
• Do not park under an overpass, since these tend to act as wind tunnels funneling debris and magnifying winds.
• Avoid shopping malls, theatres, gymnasiums, and other buildings with large open interior spaces where the roof might easily collapse. If inside of such a building, with no time to seek shelter elsewhere, seek shelter under a doorjamb or next to an interior wall that may provide some structural support and protection in the event of a building collapse.

About The Author: Matthew Stein is SurvivalBlog's Back Country Editor. He is a design engineer, green builder, and author of two best-selling books: When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival(Chelsea Green 2011), and When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency (Chelsea Green 2008). Stein is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he majored in Mechanical Engineering. Stein has appeared on numerous radio and television programs and is a repeat guest on Fox News, Coast-to-Coast AM, Alex Jones’ Infowars, Vince Finelli’s USA Prepares, and The Power Hour.  He is an active mountain climber, serves as a guide and instructor for blind skiers, has written several articles on the subject of sustainable living, and is a guest columnist for the Huffington Post.

I hear from SurvivalBlog readers on a daily basis. I hear from a lot of you. I take the time to answer each e-mail I receive, too. I don't want anyone thinking I'm ignoring them. Many times, I hear from readers, just thanking me for a particular product I reviewed, and they purchased, and found it to be exactly as I said it was. A lot of e-mails are "fan" letters of a sort, and I've made some new friends because of these e-mails. Although I don't consider myself as any sort of celebrity, and I'm certainly no expert - in anything. I consider myself a serious student in a lot of different areas. While I hold Black Belt ranks in several different styles of martial arts, I don't consider myself an expert in the martial arts. If anything, when I earned Black Belt rankings, I considered it a jumping-off point, to really start to get serious about serious defense.

For more than 45 years I've been shooting firearms, and while I consider myself an excellent shot with a rifle, and a better than average shot with a handgun. Once again, I'm not expert. And, many folks believe that just because you are a gun writer - and I've been writing about guns for more than 20 years now - that I'm an expert. Once again, I'm a serious student. There are some gun writers out there who would lead you to believe they are the best shot who ever lived - however, when you actually see them shoot, it's quite a different story. But their magazine articles would lead you to believe they are a legend - well, they are - in their own minds. There's only a few out there like that, though.

The only thing I ever earned the moniker "Expert" in, is when I took the US Army Jungle Survival School training, in Panama in 1971. And I received a badge that proclaimed me a "Jungle Expert." However, I didn't feel like any sort of expert at all - I considered it another jumping-off point in another field of interest. Many folks believe I'm some sort of survival expert, because I write for SurvivalBlog, and nothing could be further from the truth. While I enjoy the outdoors and spend a lot of time in various activities, I'm not an expert. My late friend, Chris Janowsky, who ran the World Survival Institute, in Tok, Alaska was an expert in fieldcraft and especially in cold weather and rural survival. 

So, it puzzles folks when I respond to their e-mails, with questions about "survival" in general. Sometimes the questions I get simply don't have a correct answer - some things are not black and white, as some believe. I'll get a question like "what is the best handgun for survival?" Well, I can't honestly give a pat answer to that, without having more information, and then, I'm only expressing my humble opinion on the topic. And, I've received questions as to "what is the best 4-wheel drive rig for a BOV?" Again, I can't give you a firm answer on that - it depends on many different things. Are you looking for a 4-wheel drive pick-up truck, or an SUV? Will you be towing a trailer, and how much gear do you intend to haul, and how many people? You see, I can't give a firm answer to some questions. It's impossible from my point of view.

I get questions all the time about "What should I put in a 3-day BOB?" And, this is a fairly easy one - just pack some food and water, maybe a knife, a small tent, a flashlight, a firearm - things like that. And, we all have different needs, so you pack accordingly. Which leads me to a great little package of survival gear called the B.A.S.E. Ultimate Survival Series 3.0 Kit - which is sold through US Tactical Supply. And, no, this isn't the do-all of survival gear. However, it is a very good starter kit - and this is the complete one of the ones they sell - they sell smaller kits - not that this one is very big. It depends on your needs and requirements and how much money you want to spend. Again, this is a great little kit to toss into your day pack, a butt pack, a BOB, in your car, or in your hunting pack.
Speaking of hunters, I couldn't tell you the number of hunters I've run into, who had no survival gear with them at all - and I mean, nothing, zip, nada - not even a bottle of water. And, I've run into some hunters who had their 4-wheel drive rigs bogged-down in mud, and I've helped pull them out of their mess - they didn't even have a tow strap - and were miles and miles from the nearest road. Never ceases to amaze me, how stupid and unprepared many hunters can be.
The B.A.S.E. 3.0 survival kit is just some very basic gear that can help save your life if you are out in the wilderness and can't get home, or are lost. First up is the Sparkie Fire Starter, and my friend Chris Janowsky, used to teach that "fire is magic" and it is. It provides light, warmth and sense of tranquility - things can will save you if you are stuck overnight in the wilderness. Even the summer months, you need a fire at night to keep you warm - many people have died from hypothermia when the air temperature was 60 degrees F. at night - it draws your body warmth away and it can and will kill you. You need to learn how to build a fire using a flint/steel method, and I've taught my wife and daughters how to do this. I won't go into that here, as there are a number of resources you can find that will teach you this important skill - it's not as hard as you think, once you practice it. The Sparkie Fire Starter is compact, one-handed operation and will last through 300 strikes, and even more if you rotate the flint.
WetFire Tinder Cubes are included in this survival gear. And, you only get a few, so use them wisely - like if you are in a driving rain or snow - where starting a fire is more than a little difficult with tinder, a fire starter tinder cube will get a fire going for you in short order. You can even float one on water and it will burn!
Next is the JetScream Floating Signal Whistle. And, if you've ever been out in the boonies and wanted someone to hear you, this is the way to do it - yelling all day long will only lead to you losing your voice. A whistle can be heard farther away and you can blow it all day long. At 122 decibels, this whistle can be heard over most natural and made-made noises. And, it is a "pea-less" design, so there is no pea inside to freeze-up. I could be completely out of sight, and when I'd blow this whistle, my dogs took note of where it was coming from.
You need something to carry your survival gear in, and a backpack or fanny pack is nice, but a lot of people just don't think it's important enough to carry some type of pack. Well, the B.A.S.E. 3.0 kit comes with a waterproof storage bag, in which, you can actually pack all the important survival gear you get in this package. And, if you need the waterproof bag for actually carrying water, you can put the gear in your pants pocket. Or, if you are crossing a stream, you can put your gear inside the waterproof bag to keep it safe and dry. A plastic bag can also be used for gathering berries and other food you might find along the way. A good waterproof bag, and this is a good one, is a very important piece of survival great to have, and this one is waterproof to 60-meters.
You get two Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification tablets, and these are also a great lifesaver. If you drink from any surface water source, you are sure to get sick - and perhaps even die, from some of the little bugs that are in surface water. Remember this, no surface water is safe to drink without first treating it in some way! These tablets will treat one liter of water - that you can put in your waterproof plastic bag - see, I told you a good waterproof bag comes in handy. It kills at least 99.9% of bacteria and viruses and 99.9% of cysts within 4-hours. Now, if it were me, I'd add a few more water purification tablets to this kit - just in case you are stranded more than a day or two. I don't want to die because I drank some contaminated water and some microscopic bugs got in my stomach and intestines - making me too sick to move or even die. I've said this many times in my articles, that you must have a safe source of drinking water - period!
A small, liquid-filled compass is included in the 3.0 kit, and don't knock it because it is so small, and a bit crude. It beats wetting your finger, and sticking it up in the air, to see which direction the wind is blowing - usually west to east in North America- but not always. You can attach this little compass to your equipment straps or a watchband. However, to my way of thinking, if I'm going to depend on a compass, I want it safe and sound, so it would be in my pants pocket - so I don't have to worry about it getting broken or falling off my gear and getting lost. And, if you go out hiking, camping or hunting - you should have a map and some idea which direction "home" is - then even this little compass can help you find the right direction to take.
A small Tag-It Signal Light is part of this neat little survival kit, and you can use it with a steady "on" or a flashing mode - which is great if you are lost at night - if there is a search and rescue unit out there looking for you, a flashing light catches their attention quicker. However, the steady "on" position is helpful if you are walking at night (not advised) and trying to stay on a trail or road. This also has a built-in carabiner for attaching to your gear or clothing.
Last up is a SaberCut Razor Saw. To be honest with you, at first I didn't think this piece of kit was all that great. Outwardly, it appeared to be cheaply made. I was wrong. It does have it's place. The SaberCut Razor Saw has 24 teeth per inch, and they claim you can cut through a 3/8 inch rebar in just 25 minutes. Okay, I didn't  have any rebar around to test it on, and I wasn't interested in getting thrown in the local jail, to see if I could cut through the cell bars. However, I did test it on some sheet metal and other metal scraps around the homestead, and that little saw cuts very well.
I went to my local big box store, and checked out their camping section, and they have similar products, that are included in the B.A.S.E. 3.0 kit, and if you purchased them separately, they would cost you a lot more than what you'd pay for in this kit. And, some of the products at my big box store appeared to be identical to the products in this kit. Again, you'd pay more.
No, this is not a long-use survival kit, as some of the products are only meant to be used once or twice - like the fire tinder cubes, and the water purification tablets - one you use them, you need to replace them. For those looking for a basic start-up survival kit, that they can carry in a fanny pack, or in your pocket, or a BOB - or even your vehicle, this is a great piece of kit to start with, and you can build on it. It would make an excellent piece of kit for a military troop to carry, especially if you are behind enemy lines, working covert ops, or a helicopter or jet fighter pilot - if you had to land your aircraft in an emergency - this little kit could help save your bacon and get you home safe and sound to friendly territory.
One thing I would include in this kit, is some type of emergency food - and you can decide what to pack yourself, be military-style MREs, freeze-dried foods or just some trail mix - but I'd add some sort of food to the B.A.S.E. 3.0 kit - you don't need a lot to help you survive for a day or two, but I'd pack something. Once again, I've run across hunters who were out all day long, and they had no food or water with them - and they were miles from their vehicles, and they were grateful for a drink of water from me, and some directions on how to get from where they were to where they wanted to be - back to their rig or back to a main road.
US Tactical Supply has the B.A.S.E. 3.0 kit in-stock, as well as some smaller kits, if you don't need everything that the 3.0 kit offers. However, for my money, I'd go with the 3.0 kit and then build on it. Price on the 3.0 kit is $49.95. Check out the link I provided above, and see if the 3.0 kit isn't something you should consider for your BOB, or for carrying in your vehicle.

If you are new to prepping, then this is about as basic of a kit as you should start with - and like I said, build on it, add more stuff - a good folding knife would be my choice for one of the first things I'd add to this kit. I've seen other ready-made survival kits, and they weren't nearly as well thought out as the 3.0 B.A.S.E. kit. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Pamela B.'s "Goat Gurt" Yogurt

In response to your call for recipes, here is my recipe for home made "Goat Gurt" or "Yo Goat."  Of course, yogurt can also be made from cow's milk or sheep's milk, soy milk, or even from dehydrated non fat dry milk, using this method.  We prefer the goat's milk because it seems to provide that perfect tang.  We usually eat it plain with sweetener.  I have also included some other dairy products that can result if your goat gurt "fails."

Excellent Goat Gurt Ingredients:

7 Cups goat's milk

2/3 Cup powdered milk (optional, but it adds thickness to the final product)

One 6 oz. container of Greek yogurt containing active culture (check the label)


Whisk together the powdered milk and the fresh milk in a clean pot.  Heat the milk slowly and just barely to the boiling point.  Allow it to simmer for 3 minutes.  Place the whole pot in a cold water bath in your sink to lower the temperature of the milk quickly.  Use a thermometer to gauge its decline, which will happen quicker than you think it will, so monitor it carefully.  Make sure that the thermometer's tip is not touching the bottom or sides of the pot.

Turn on your oven to its lowest setting and turn it off as soon as it reaches the lowest temperature.  Turn on your oven's light and leave it on.

While the milk is cooling, scoop the Greek yogurt into a glass bowl or wide jar big enough to hold 8 cups of liquid.  I use a jar that once held garnish cherries from a local bar.

When the milk reaches 118 degrees F, pour about one cup of it into the glass container with the Greek yogurt.  Whisk the milk and yogurt until well blended.  Add the rest of the milk and whisk again. 

Place your mixture as close to the oven light as possible and forget about it for six to eight hours.  Remove the yogurt to the refrigerator where it will continue to thicken.

I do not know how long goat gurt keeps in the fridge because it is gone in a hurry around here.  I can say that nothing was wrong with it after three weeks.

Remarks and Other Dairy Products:

The methods of applying gentle heat over a long period of time are numerous.  You can use a commercial yogurt maker or you can put the yogurt into a Styrofoam cooler with an electric light bulb inside (cut out a little sluice for the cord to go through).  You can use a cooler and put bottles of hot water in with the yogurt, but you must change the hot water bottles every few hours to make sure they stay warm.

For sweetened plain yogurt, I add sugar or sweetener at the rate of 1 teaspoon per 6 oz serving, but you should just add sweetening to your taste.

If, for some reason, your goat gurt does not "make" using this method, all is not lost.  Turn your oven on to 170 F and put the pot back in for about four hours.  Check it frequently until you achieve the desired thickness. 

Or, for an easy hard cheese, leave the yogurt in the 170 degree oven for 12 - 24 hours, until you have achieved a break between the curds and the whey.  Then drain the whey through a cheesecloth and mash the resulting cheese curds together.  Apply an 8-to-16 pound weight (I use a 2 liter soda bottle filled with water) to force out more liquid and further compact the cheese at room temperature.  Turn the cheese over twice a day and add a sprinkle of Kosher salt to each side.  Keep the weight on it and keep turning it twice a day for three days.  Then make a brine by adding 1 teaspoon vinegar and 2/3 C Kosher salt to a quart of water.  Store your hardened cheese in the brine in the fridge.  It will last indefinitely and can be used as a grating cheese similar to Parmesan.

Further Uses:

1.  Cream cheese:  Additional thickening can be had by draining more liquid from the curd through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.  Use this very thick     product like cream cheese, especially in cheesecake recipes.  Add herbs and spices to make a nice cheese spread.

2.  Buttermilk:  If you stir the yogurt vigorously, it will become less thick and can be used as a substitute for buttermilk. 

3.  Sour Cream:  Substitute plain yogurt for sour cream in recipes.

Chef's Notes:

Do not discard all that good whey!  It contains a lot of protein and your dogs, cats, chickens or pigs will love it.  Or use it instead of water when you make pasta or rice. 

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

How to Make Yogurt

Yogurt flavor recipes

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks! has announced their new NukAlert-ER "Extended Range" radiation detector that uniquely provides continuous coverage from background 1µR/hr through to dangerous 600R/hr!  It's a sensitive Geiger counter, high range survey meter and personal alarming dosimeter, all in one unit. This new detector appears to leapfrog the competition, with dose and rate meters alarms that you can set yourself. It is also Blue Tooth enabled and can be USB cable-networked.

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Attaching yet another Lilliputian line, to bind us: "The immigration bill, sponsored by four Republicans and four Democrats, would immediately require the government to scan visas and passports for those leaving the nation."

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Reader Wade J. sent us a link to one man's approach: The Survivor Truck Bug Out Vehicle. [JWR's Comment: I can see the need to have commonly available parts, but I wish there was an American-made four wheel drive truck with a better suspension and high ground clearance--more like a Unimog--to use as a starting point. The multi-fuel variant of the M35 "Deuce and a Half" with a shop van would be my choice--despite the scarcity of some parts in civilian wrecking yards.]

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H.P. sent: Inside the Military’s Secret Terror-Tagging Tech. H.P. asks: "How hard would it be to tag items likely to be purchased by preppers, patriots, or militia? Books? Backpacks? Gun cases? How would we know?" JWR's Comment: It might be prudent for groups to invest in an infinity RF detector. Also, beware of GPS tracker devices, which are getting smaller every year.

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C.D.V. sent a link to a map of declared disasters from 1964-2007. You will surely notice the inverse correlation with the American Redoubt region. Coastal regions have great scenery and generally mild climates. But they also have an non-proportionate number of disasters. ("A great place to visit, but...")

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I just heard that Infidel Body Armor is now certified at NIJ Level III and it just barely missed being certified at Level IV. (They are slightly modifying the design so that it will pass the Level IV rating).

"If I were to sum up what I’ve learned in 35 years of service, it’s improvise, improvise, improvise." - General James Mattis

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

I’d like to offer my thoughts on wealth preservation, investment and insurance for the modern prepper. In terms of qualifications I’m a Fee-Only Financial Planner and Registered Financial Consultant who owns his own business and services clients with millions of dollars down to just a few thousand dollars. Several of my clients would qualify as preppers and have engaged me on these issues. I’ve been an avid SurvivalBlog reader for several years now and I have been modestly prepping for most of that time. Allow me to begin by stating my presuppositions on the state of the economy and the chances of economic collapse. I probably fall outside the mainstream of the average reader as I don’t necessarily believe the current economic issues our country is having will result in all out collapse. I consider it one of a number of risks that face productive people who wish to store and increase the value of their labor in investments.

If a number of outcomes are possible, how does one chart a course to not only maintain wealth but to actually grow it? Without getting into the most technical trappings of good asset allocation let me just say that the key to dealing with risk is diversifying. In a traditional investment portfolio such as an IRA or 401(k) I would recommend a mix of assets to deal with volatility. The asset classes I recommend can be roughly broken down to stocks, bonds, commodities and real estate. Different mixes of these four asset classes can produce portfolios all along the volatility spectrum from high volatility/high return to low volatility/low return.
If your life and everything you own is a portfolio that you have to allocate I would recommend keeping your intangible wealth such as IRAs and 401(k)s in a mix of stocks, bonds and commodities index funds managed by a qualified professional. Consider it diversification for the possibility that the world does not end. Personally I consider that plan A but depending on your perspective feel free to consider it plan B. It is the wealth you possess in tangible, non-traditional forms that I want to encourage you to allocate in a similar way to a professionally managed portfolio.

Diversification in this area of your wealth can save you from the same headache and heartache that those who loaded up on tech stocks in 1999 or real estate in 2006 had to deal with. Diversification can allow you to
protect wealth as well as grow it. Here is a general framework for allocating the assets of your life from a pepper’s perspective.

Stock Equivalents - In the traditional investment world common stock represents a tiny slice of a business, an enterprise focused solely and exclusively on creating and increasing the value of goods and services. It is by definition intangible as you can’t call in a “chunk” of Microsoft or Wal-Mart. I love the concept and function of the stock market as it allows anybody to be a participant in the miracle of the American economy. That being said, I’m not so naive to believe that market is completely “free” or clean as the wind driven snow and it is of course intangible. If the SHTF a share of Wal-Mart stock will be worth $0.

Preppers have a chance to participate in an entirely different stock market that exists to create and expand value of goods and services and individual preppers can be the sole owners of 100% of the shares of any given business if they do just one thing… start it themselves. Creating a side business that focuses on meeting the most basic needs of people is a fantastic way to create, grow and maintain wealth for every prepper. People will always need food, clothing, heat, security, clean water and energy solutions. They need these things today and they will need them if the economy collapse’s. I think of Pat Frank's novel Alas, Babylon wherein, after a 1950s-era nuclear war, the main character transacts business with a bee keeper who before the war was considered lower middle class and bees were a sideline. Now in the aftermath of a war and societal collapse he was considered fabulously wealthy with an army of, essentially, slave labor producing continual additional wealth for him.

Obviously the SHTF key to this wealth growth and maintenance strategy is to focus on “basic needs” businesses. Start a farm stands, learn to weave, buy a loom, start a hobby farm, cut firewood, learn how to butcher animals or start a hobby blacksmith shop. You’ll need time to learn to efficiently hone your business practices and develop your markets. Even if you only do a very small amount of business you can acquire the necessary hardware and get your name out in the community. Each customer becomes another layer of protection from economic downturns. I tell people all the time that I’d rather have 100 clients who pay me $1,000 a piece then one boss who pays me $100,000 a year. Job security is a myth if your boss is nuts or doesn’t mesh with you personally or is just bad at his job and has to fire someone because he’s driving the business into the ground (boss’ will never fire themselves in these circumstances).

Your business represents the exact same asset class as Wal-Mart or Microsoft stock represents in your investment portfolio. Business will always exist in some form or another no matter how bad things get. You will position yourself to create and maintain real wealth in a SHTF scenario if you have a business that functions and creates essential value for people before things get lively.

Commodities Equivalents- In an investment portfolio, commodities play the role of black sheep. Because they zig when everything else zags they tend to reduce average risk while still historically providing relative high returns. They also provide some protection from inflation since the numbers you read on your monthly account statement represent physical goods held somewhere, even if it’s still in the ground. They are in reality still intangible since most people are entirely unlikely to take delivery of 100 barrels of oil or a thousand head of cattle. It’s simple to translate these benefits to tangible assets with in the peppers’ asset allocation.

In all actuality, commodities are one of the most popular and most discussed investments in the prepper community already. If you’ve got a years’ supply of food, gold and silver and guns and ammo you’ve already invested in commodities. Congratulations part of your asset allocation is in place. These things represent physical items that will maintain or grow in value in an inflationary setting. However, I believe that within this asset class you’ve got items that should qualify as insurance and some that should really qualify more as growth investments. For example your food supply is insurance against a disruption in food distribution, not an investment. Think about it this way, under what circumstances would you sell your food preps for profit? I’m guessing you wouldn’t. It’s an essential cornerstone of quality prepping and it should be a priority before you invest for growth. So where do you go when your food preps are essentially complete and you wish to build commodity based, tangible wealth to compliment the other wealth building asset classes such as your home business?

The universal answer for this in prepper communities seems to be physically held gold and silver coins. Obviously enormous amounts of information have been disseminated on this and other internet sites about precious metals. They are tangible, conveniently small and universally recognized. They obviously have a place in wealth preservation. However, they are also easily stolen or lost due to their small size and they can be forged. The integrity of the supply affects you even if your gold and silver is pure since it casts doubts on the totality of the supply. How will the buyer know that your gold and silver is pure? If you were a government entity that wanted to discourage people from owning gold would it not be in your best interest to flood the market with counterfeit gold and silver or at the very least turn a blind eye? The risks that come with owning gold and silver are more diverse than just spot price volatility. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own it but it does mean you should diversify by owning other commodity investments.

One of the best tangible investments that preppers can purchase is livestock. The synergy (sorry to sound like a business guy but that’s who I am) that comes with this purchase can be perfect when applied to a farm as a home business. You end up with a money making enterprise (I hear the snickers from the farmers out there) that is filled with tangible commodities that reproduce, create food and other valuable bi-products and meet your need for food production and wealth preservation. Even if you start with minor purchases like chickens or rabbits you are further ahead in this area then 95% of the people in the USA.

Another high quality investment which I consider almost guaranteed to grow faster than inflation is collecting surplus firearms. Surplus firearms are generally military firearms from the last 100 years or so. They come in many different grades of quality from the highest end antique investments to beat up, almost non-functional examples. You can own firearms from all over the world and many historic time periods. The reason why they can be great investments is simple supply and demand. Take for example the Mosin Nagant. This is generally a Russian bolt action rifle that can be obtained for around $100 in decent shape, typically 60 or 70 years old. Even though many millions of these rifles have been produced in the past they are no longer produced for military use. The supply is capped. Now I know these things are basically a dime a dozen right now but how many of them are being modified, broken, lost to neglect and house fires? The demand can only grow as population grows. The rifles, though ugly, tend to be fully functional. You have a commodity that is useful, historic and tangible with a capped or even slightly declining supply. I’ll take that as an investment opportunity any day.

I’ve been following the price of Mosin Nagants for several years now. Prices are obviously relative to the quality of the piece being sold but generally I’ve found prices to have risen in my area from around $90 to about $120 for decent examples of the rifle in roughly the last three years. That is a return of around 10% a year. That’s growth I think you can count on in this market for many years to come. Buy an M1 Garand and M1 Carbine, an Enfield, a Mosin, a SKS and any number of other rifles. Enjoy them, store them well. In a SHTF scenario you’ll have a functioning tool for your security but if things don’t get lively you’ll still have a great investment that is nearly certain to make you money, assuming you can bring yourself to sell them someday. On second thought you may want to buy multiples of your favorite rifles to pass down to the kids.

As a qualifier to the above, let me say I’d encourage people to purchase their functional everyday firearms first. Get them and their ammo needs squared away first before building your surplus firearms collection. Also, don’t forget ammo for your surplus collection and various sundries like clips, slings and bayonets.

People make money in markets based on what they know. Before you buy surplus rifles educate yourself. Even the most beautiful rifle can be a poor investment if you pay too much for it. This simple truth argues against buying online if another opportunity is available. If you can’t handle it and stare at it and ask questions about it you’re at the mercy of the seller.

Real Estate- Within a diversified investment portfolio real estate can take a number of forms, everything from Real Estate Investment Trusts which function similarly to stocks to buying rental properties and acting as a land lord. Real Estate can be a great investment for a number of reasons but one of my favorites is the simple fact that most real estate is not priced minute to minute like the stock market. You really only know the value of your Real Estate the day you buy it and sell it. Because of this and the fact that it’s a real process to sell Real Estate most people hold it for the long term.

Within your tangible investment portfolio your home probably makes up the bulk of your real estate and that is fine. If you’ve paid a good price for it and you are not deeply upside down on your mortgage you have probably fulfilled this portion of your tangible portfolio. The question may be not whether you own Real Estate but do you own the best possible investment quality Real Estate for your situation. Investment guru’s like Jim Rodgers and experts like our own Jim Rawles have encouraged people to consider investing in productive farm land. I believe this to be an excellent choice for those looking for their first Real Estate investment or for those looking to trade out a house in the suburbs for something more rural. Specifically I like this choice within the frame work of your own home business. Running a small business on a piece of property you own is a great way to increase the overall value of the parcel. For instance, if you fence the land for a few head of cattle you have all three of the investments mention so far in this article; the farm as a home business, the cattle as a commodity and the land as real estate. Even if you don’t run a farm, for many people other businesses are available such as making maple syrup or leasing for hunting purposes.  Showing that you can run a money making venture on a piece of property significantly increases its value when it comes time to sell.

For those of you unable to come up with the money to buy productive farmland, consider unproductive land. You may be able to get a poorly located plot or hilly countryside on the cheap and then improve it as your time and finances allow. This is another great way to get into the game with a little sweat equity and what I’ve found is that many of the most interesting pieces of property out there are ugly ducklings that someone invested their imagination and perspiration into and now are very compelling investments. If I could impart just one bit of wisdom towards this suggestion it would be this; don’t pay too much for the land.

Bond Equivalents- Traditionally bonds have formed the “conservative” corner of most retiree’s investment portfolios for decades. Today treasuries and to a lesser extent corporate bonds have had their prices pushed so high by the Federal Reserve’s actions that they have lost much of their “conservative” reputation in the secular world, and amongst the true believers of the prepper community they are anathema. A bond is really just a loan you give out to someone you reasonably trust to pay you back with the agreed upon interest included. You aren’t guaranteed anything and the higher the anticipated risk the borrower won’t be able to pay you back the higher the required interest rate.

In the world of the prepper I like to think of bond equivalents as good will deposited and built up amongst people you have everyday relationships with.  A lite example would be your neighbor who feels like they owe you for loaning them your push mower when theirs broke down. Now admittedly this is not a tangible investment but in the world of relationships I consider it the second most compelling currency, just behind love (with the right heart attitude they are one in the same). In reality that good will translates often to tangible benefits.

The relationships you build before a SHTF event may be the best investment you make towards not just surviving but thriving in difficult times. Those relationships will thrive and build good will most often when you are seeking to be a blessing to others. Not specifically with the idea that you are going to “cash in” on these acts of kindness but when you aren’t going to. That genuine care for others will be reflected back on you in the most difficult times of life. Often concepts like OPSEC and population density are discussed in settings like this and for good reason. But they are not to be interpreted as isolation from relationships. Our lives are enriched by relationships so get to know your neighbors. Be a blessing to them and build yourself into their lives. The last thing you want is to be in a situation where you are just meeting your neighbors for the first time when things are very bad. You will be considered an outsider in their circle of trust with little chance of breaking through that for your benefit or theirs. If you build up good will now, similarly to loaning money to a government or corporation, you will see the goodwill flow back to you with interest during times of trouble.

Until that time comes you’ll find enriching relationships with people who may well buy the products of your home business, sell you their property and feed and water your cattle while you vacation.
Conclusion- If you believe deeply in one particular outcome and you bet your life savings, all of your possessions and your labor on it, in investing terms, you are aggressive. If you’re right you win big but if you’re wrong you could be in trouble.  If you invest in a number of asset classes that all historically go up but do so at different speeds and under different circumstances you are considered diversified. Diversification means you win no matter the ending circumstance.

If a prepper commits to building these four general categories of tangible investments I’m confident that they will not only insure themselves against high inflation, economic tumult and time periods of social disorder but also find their wealth increasing should things stay on a level playing field.

Hi James,
   I just want to pass on a "good job" referral.  I was having difficulty with my Optolyth spotting scope's coarse focus ring.  It was almost frozen; very hard to turn.  There are several companies in Britain that work on optics, but I wanted to find someone here in the USA, and eventually located Cory Suddarth's company,  Cory is a Navy-trained optical man with 38 years' experience working with all types of optics.  Located in Henryetta, Oklahoma, he offers very affordable service for practically any make or model binocular or scope.  Families are now finding WWII binoculars in their grandfather's possessions when they pass away. (I just lost my father-in-law, who was a Corpsman on Iwo Jima), and want to keep them functional.  Cory can completely refurbish old optics, including dismantling [and cleaning] the prisms and re-gluing the lenses to like-new condition.  Even the exteriors are renewed.  Truly fine work.  Check his site and contact him for further info and estimates. - D.A., DVM

I was contemplating writing an article for the current round of your competition, but after reading the "hunkering down with a quadriplegic" bit, I don't think I'll bother. I'd personally vote for his to win.

I have a cousin who at 17 was paralyzed from the neck down. Now, 20-odd years later, I'm an EMT and I frequently see people (whether grievously injured or not) who must be removed inert and intact from a house that is near-complete inaccessible in its normal condition. Just last night I had to deal with a situation like this -- hauling someone out of a house I could barely squeeze into even when I wasn't holding a stretcher.

Ramps, wider doors, removing carpet and other clutter: I'll easily agree with these. Firearms and wheelchairs on hand: Absolutely

However, to me the most striking part of the aforementioned article is the danger of bed sores, or pressure sores. To someone who has never dealt with them, a pressure sore might sound no more serious than a mosquito bite. And for some people, in certain situations, that analogy is apt. Some pressure sores can be dealt with by using nothing more than a Band-aid and some Neosporin. For other people (like family members of mine) mosquito bites are an invitation to MRSA--an antibiotic-resistant staph infection that can kill. In my job, I recently had to take a non-verbal, semi-conscious quadriplegic to "wound care" 50 miles away from his nursing home. The nursing home has qualified nursing staff on hand. I honestly respect them for the work they do. But they weren't equipped to deal with a somewhat serious bedsore.

We delivered this patient to wound care for more than six months, at least once per week, until finally, yesterday, he was pronounced healed. I haven't personally seen the wound this week, so I can't really comment on the prognosis.

This may be read as a comment on inadequacies in our healthcare system. That is not my intent. Rather, I'm saying that even trained healthcare providers can fail to stop an incipient killer such as MRSA or other infections. Also, treating injuries/wounds in the long-term involves much more than Neosporin and a Band-aid. If you anticipate or can imagine any serious injuries (by animal, axe or enemy), you must be willing and able to treat them aggressively both in the short-term and in the long. That means prevention, treatment and follow-through now, or debridement, further treatment, and ... well, I think you get it.

Not all wounds can be treated with one of the extremes of healthcare -- a small bandage or a blow-out kit. To be truly prepared, get ready for those wounds that don't heal as soon as you stop the bleeding. And some of those more serious wounds might be caused simply by sitting still. - J.D.C. in Mississippi

Editor's Note: The Economatrix is on vacation, but will soon return.

Reader R.C. sent: Trouble on the farm: 'We face a grim future'

It sounds like they are "Partying like it's 1999": Amateur investors tap 401(k)s to buy homes. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Armstrong: Mad Max Begins in Spain? (Thanks to Jim W. for the link.)

K.T. suggested: I Built This AK-47. It’s Legal and Totally Untraceable. And speaking of do-it-yourself guns: F.G. sent these items: NSW Police issues warning on 3D printed guns and CNC killed the gun control star.

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Historic vote: Boy Scouts to allow gay youths to join. Sadly, the Boy Scouts are history. I recommend withdrawing your sons from the organization, and instead joining a morally straight group.

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J. McC. sent this: Terceira: China’s interest in strategic Lajes Air Field unfolding – Azores. J. McC.'s comment: "This is not your Grandpa's Geostrategic Template, Boy."

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I noticed that Camping Survival just revamped their web site. BTW they have extended the coupon code "survivalblog" for 5% off with every order.

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Video: Pro-Second Amendment speaker at New Jersey hearing hits home run! And speaking of eastern gun politics, some consider themselves slightly "more equal" than others: Retired N.Y. LEOs seek exemption from SAFE act.

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Several readers sent: Swedes Take to the Streets to Defend Their Neighborhoods. Note that the polisen are busy arresting "vigilantes" instead of the rioters. Typiska nonsens!

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." - Romans 5:1-9 (KJV)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

(Why I prep, and how I do so in a family that thinks I’m crazy.)

In the summer of 1977 my mother dragged me to see my older brother’s Cub Scouts meeting.  I was closing in on my sixth birthday and she informed me in no uncertain terms that I would be joining.  My mother was one of the multitudes of single mom’s in my part of Brooklyn.  A neighborhood where at the time crime was high, money was tight, and involved dads were few.   The only place for many boys to find any kind of positive male role model was in Scouting.  So off to the basement of the local savings bank I went, passing along the way many other kids whose parents weren’t making them go off somewhere that required stuffy uniforms on humid July evenings. 

Shortly after arriving, “Signs Up” was called and the scouts were ordered into their Dens so the meeting could open with The Pledge of Allegiance.  When that was done and all outstanding business concluded I watched in absolute amazement as the older boys (the Webelos) proceeded to learn how to treat shock and minor wounds on one side of the large room while the younger boys (Cubs) were learning how to lash branches together to build a tripod for use as a camp table complete with seats.  Those relatively simple things spoke to me on a level I still can’t comprehend.  I was “all-in” right then and there.

From that night until I turned six I was at every meeting.  I became a mascot of sorts, treated as a member of the team but not quite in the game.  It was a big deal for me when I was finally able to wear the uniform.  At the time (I believe it has changed now) the neckerchief had a picture of a bear cub and the logo: “Be Prepared”.  Words that still echo in my mind and a philosophy that continues to permeate everything I do.

The Modern World:

So here I am: A full grown man, husband and father both, having grown up hearing some variation of “Be Prepared” on a regular basis…  “Make sure you have a dime for the pay-phone”, “Make sure you have extra pencils for your test”, and “Make sure you check your engine fluids before you drive that far”.  The list of recommendations of how and why to be prepared just keeps going and going. 

In a modern world a fully charged cell phone has replaced the dime for the pay phone, but otherwise little has changed with regards to what we tell our children on a daily basis.  So you can imagine my surprise when upon building an emergency kit some year’s back, my wife looked at me with “that look”. 

You know the one you get… it sort of says: “Poor fool just doesn’t know any better”, the visual equivalent of a condescending pat on the head.  I guess I just didn’t realize that being prepared was somehow strange.  So my wife and I proceeded to have a conversation where on one side was the feeling that you can’t ever be too careful (especially in light of how many times we lose power in Upstate N.Y.), and on the other the assertion that I’m paranoid; backed up with the ever so logical “what will the neighbors think?”  I was astonished.

Having grown up about five cents below the poverty line and being raised with Scouting at my side, I had learned to always hedge my proverbial bets.  To find out that according to the people who loved me preparedness was considered crazy…  that most people truly believe the government can and will take care of them in a crisis… just confounds me. 

Had these people not been watching the same news I had?  Do they not remember any of the natural disasters over the last ten years?  Katrina, Irene or Sandy anyone?  Were all of my tidbits of wisdom thrown out like the mornings coffee grinds?

After several discussions about the topic of preparedness I realized I was alone.  I would not receive any assistance in gathering, organizing, storing or in any other way getting my stuff together for an emergency of any kind let alone for TEOTWAWKI.

I had no choice but to become: “The Secret Prepper.” (Cue ominous music.)

Logistics of a dual identity:

Deciding on where to begin is kind of like being an eight-year-old with a $100 bill in a candy store: Overwhelming in its possibilities.  So in looking at the logistics of fulfilling the requirements of my shadow-self, I decided to create 3 basic (but in retrospect woefully inadequate) categories to manage the tasks:

  1. How to pay for it?
  2. What to get and where to get it?
  3. How and where to store it?

The most difficult of these three options, for me, was how to pay for it.  Having a stay at home parent raising a child, in my humble opinion, far outweighs the negative financial effect resulting from only one income.  The problem I came across is that my wife wears so many hats.  I make the money, take care of the yard, kill the bugs and protect us from things that go bump in the night while she does pretty much everything else.  This includes balancing the checkbook.  (Remember, she’s not on-board because I’m nuts.)

How was “The Secret Prepper” to accomplish any of his preparedness goals while not tipping his hand to the one-woman oversight committee that thinks he’s insane?  Not to mention maintaining Operational Security (I will make references to where I adhered strictly to OPSEC.)  Over time it became a game to me.

Getting ready for the Schumer on the cheap:

Finances came from good old-fashioned sacrifice.  I’ve found that when money is tight you have an obligation to stick to what you feel in your gut is important.  As such, sacrifice is an imperative.  At that time, when all was said and done I could allot myself $25 each Friday for the following week.  This money was to pay for my lunch, coffee or anything else I wanted while I was at work. 

I realize this doesn’t sound like a significant amount of money, but once you learn how to squeeze blood from a stone you’d be surprised how much those suckers can bleed.  So I thought back to my childhood and how my mother managed to feed us and came up with some practical solutions as well as some that were foreign to me.

Two things that I did were start a vegetable garden and learn how to jar/can.  This was a completely foreign world to me.  Growing up in an apartment building, the only reason I wanted a good-sized property hours from the city was to get away from people.  I didn’t realize what could be done until I bought a homesteading book.  The amount of money I now save on produce is astonishing.  This has served to help my entire household and not just “The Secret Prepper”.

Otherwise, I spent the first few weeks stocking surplus goods in my locker at work.  Nothing too big mind you, just the basics for the purposes of masking my future purchases.  Ferreting away an excess item from home here and there and bringing it to work, I managed to stash several days lunch in my locker and needed less money the following week.  My surplus cash went into an envelope there as well.  I made it a point to only use cash so as not to create any kind of a paper trail (OPSEC).  It was good practice for my later and larger purchases.

I soon had a sizeable bankroll and a grocery store in my locker with none the wiser.  Some of this food was moved to buckets in the basement and some was consumed for lunch but all of it served to free up $100 a month in cash.  This process took several weeks but once I had it down to a science there was no stopping it.

Saving about $100 a month, I was able to start prioritizing the next objective: What to get and where to get it?

I decided on what my most immediate need would be in the event of the most likely emergency in my area: Nature’s fury and her prolonged power outages.  So with that particular goal in mind, and the knowledge that needs are similar in many emergencies, I proceeded to spend my hard saved money.  Candles, matches, water purification tablets/canteens, solar blankets, first-aid kit, tent and sleeping bags, walkie-talkie’s, batteries, MREs. Thus, all of the basics.

My cup runneth over:

Pretty soon my work locker, my car and my super-secret-hidey-hole were near to bursting at the seams.  It was time to consider task three: How and where to store it?  The problem was, I was still working on what to get.  It became clear to me that a two-pronged approach was in order.

I went to a “mom-and-pop” hardware store in the next town and bought two footlockers, paying in cash (OPSEC), making sure that they could fit into the trunk of my car in case I had to bug out rather than in.  One I labeled camping gear and proceeded to fill it with pretty much anything that fit the bill, storing it where I keep all of the other things my family has no interest in. The other one I left unlabeled and filled with surplus goods.  I added to them some large desiccant packs that I got for free at a piano store and hid the unlabeled one in a dark corner among the spiders.

With room at my outside locations freed up, I went back to my list of necessities.  After buying and waylaying various supplies, I started looking into the next phase of purchase and storage: Mylar.

Nowadays there are a lot of good videos on YouTube about the use of Mylar bags.  Not so just a few years back.  I’ll tell you what I believe to be the most important piece of information I learned about Mylar bags after I had started using them.  I have decided (once again my humble opinion) that I prefer to fill smaller bags.  I can then use these bags to create a variety of items in a single storage bucket.  If I had to grab just a few buckets and bug due to an emergency I won’t have to think about which ones to grab.  Each has a little of everything.  But I’m getting way ahead of myself…

I bought some 5-Gallon 5mil Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers through a dummy persona from an Internet retailer that accepted money orders (OPSEC).  Then, to save money I went to a bunch of grocery stores out-of-town (OPSEC) and basically trash-picked or asked for some food-grade buckets.  When I had a good bucket to Mylar ratio I proceeded to fill my dried stores.

Filling Mylar bags is a simple thing to do.  It’s pretty much a 3-step process:

1. Put bag in bucket and fill with dry goods.
2. Add Oxygen Absorbers.  I use 300 to 500cc absorbers per pound depending on how much “dead air” is left in the bag. For instance ziti leaves more air than rice.
3. Fold the bag over, squeezing all of the air out and run a hot iron across the open end to create a seal.  I usually iron the outermost part of the bag, near the opening, and an extra two inches to create a bigger seal.  By leaving a lot of the bag below the seal you can re-use it.

My dried stores consisted of what you’d expect: Beans, rice, pasta and various grains totaling a paltry five buckets-worth.  To supplement them I proceeded to add cans of various meats like tuna, sardines and the like.  Anything with a shelf life extending out for a few years that I could and would eat over time was collected and stored away.  After a while my secret stash, which was in plain sight, was becoming noticeable (definitely not OPSEC).

It was about then that I read on a blog about how a couple in Manhattan with a considerable shortage of space managed their preparedness needs. 
While I couldn’t follow their example strictly I did learn a lot from it.  Here are three examples of what I did with this wisdom:

  1. I made a workbench using stacked buckets for the legs and camouflaged it on three sides with storage shelves. (They had made a kitchen table camouflaged with a table cloth,)
  2. I stored food in Mylar bags under (my side) of the bed in those under-the-bed storage containers, surrounding them with out-of-season clothes.
  3. Started using 1-gallon Mylar bags to fit a greater variety of items per bucket.

Now it bears note that following number three is a less efficient use of food-space. When you seal the items this way and put them into a bucket there is a lot of dead space between the bags.  What I do with those spaces now is add things like: ammo, toilet paper, water filters/tablets, basic first aid supplies and pretty much anything else I can cram in there.  [JWR Adds: Never include anything on a food container that might exude toxic vapors such as lubricants, paint, Sterno, cans of lighter fluid, hexamine tabs, or Trioxane fuel bars.] So long as I can lift and carry them without straining myself I fill the buckets as much as I can.

Now, instead of having to open a 5-gallon bucket of rice and risk spoilage, I can open smaller amounts as needed and preserve freshness to greater quantities of supplies.  Plus, I have the added benefit of knowing that a single bucket is roughly equal to a full month of a majority of my supplies.  I’ll delve into this momentarily as I know it sounds like a ridiculous estimate.  Just bear with me.

Hiding in plain sight:

Over time my stores grew and my available space was shrinking.  I needed to find a new way to hide my stores in plain sight.  One of the way’s I’ve done this is to put storage buckets next to the items they resemble.  What I mean by this is that I have a bucket with a re-used label stating “Activated Carbon” next to my house’s water filter.  I have a bucket with a manufacturer painted fertilizer label on it among my garden supplies. The variety of things that now require buckets for “organization” in my house is amazing.

All of my buckets have been cleaned and sterilized, and the use of Mylar goes further to ensure the supplies are safe.  Plus, the buckets are among the items they are pretending to be.  This adds a level of camouflage that I otherwise wouldn’t have achieved (OPSEC).  If you think about it, you can find many different ways to not-camouflage your hidden stuff.

Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat:

So now that I have some experience in this, what do I fit in my magical, invisible buckets?  I’m glad you asked.  It takes some creative packing but here’s a typical inventory:

-8 Lbs Rice                                               
-5 Lbs Beans
-5 Lbs Pasta                                               
-5 Lbs TVP (taco, beef or chicken chunk)
-1 cup Sugar                                               
-1 cup Salt
-1 cup Italian Seasoning                       
-100 rounds .22 Long (for small game or ballistic wampum)
-4 Bottles of Water Purification Tablets in a wide mouth quart jug (totals 50 quarts)
-25 each of Chicken and Beef Bullion Cubes (also in the quart jug)
-1 roll of compressed/vacuum sealed toilet paper (cardboard removed)
-50 (ish) compressed/vacuum sealed napkins (can double as kindling after use)
-200 strike anywhere matches in a sealed plastic tube
-2 solar accent lights removed from their stakes
-Whatever first-aid supplies I can get in

Coupled with my jarred stores, garden and chickens (see below), these supplemental items should do just fine.  And if something should go wrong what buckets I may need to bring should I have to evacuate/bug out will still have a solid variety of supplies.

Subterranean Supermarket

I will touch briefly on canned goods.  We can all agree on the fact that they last a long while and offer up a variety of ways to supplement protein and calories as well as ways to avoid Food Fatigue

Food Fatigue is basically getting so sick and tired of eating the same things repeatedly over a long period of time that you slowly starve yourself because you choose not to eat them anymore.  Please feel free to look up a literal definition.

Setting up a rotational stock system should be high on your list.  Canned goods must be stored in such a way that they can be rotated with every purchase.  Optimally you can set up a shelf that lets you put new stuff directly in back and allows you to easily take from the front.

Just imagine that the Schumer has hit the Fan.  You’ve used everything in your refrigerator first and now are going to your stores.  You open up a can of tuna and it just doesn’t smell right.  So you open another… same thing.  As the fear sets in you realize your mistake.  The best way to avoid this is to rotate your stock and stay on top of it. 

Rule of thumb: One in, one out. [Quickly replace everything you use, and use your oldest stocks first.]

Other things you need to keep along with your canned/jarred stores are:

  1. Bleach: You can’t beat it for keeping things sanitary, especially if you have a designated area for butchering game.  It can also be used for treating water, but I’m not entirely comfy with that.
  2. Vinegar: It’s a great non-chemical cleaner that can be used where food is prepared/consumed.  You’ll also need it for jarring foods, post-SHTF.  Store different types of vinegar.  White for cleaning/jarring, apple cider for poultices or treatment for conditions like Gout.
  3. Alcohol:  The drinking kind.  I do not partake often, but if there is any kind of prolonged crisis you may need it for tincturing medicines.  It’s also a great barter item.  Make sure you have vodka and high proof rum.

An old dog learns new tricks:

So to address the obvious shortcomings in my monthly supply estimate, I did after all say it was a rough estimate, I had to learn a few new skills.  Under the guise of boredom (OPSEC) I decided that I wanted to enter the magical world of keeping chickens.  I had to think long and hard about this one.  There are a lot of reasons not to do this.  Among them are:

  1. Chicken coops require maintenance.  If you can’t keep up on things you have no place having them, especially when it comes to living creatures.  They may only be chickens, but their still Gods creatures.
  2. Space is a factor.  If you have a rooster and your neighbors are as little as an acre away, you won’t be friends for long.
  3. Town ordinances.
  4. My limited experience with animals of any nature.

If you look on YouTube there are a lot of instructional videos dealing with coop construction.  I strongly recommend watching them.  Also, though my acreage is small I’m surrounded on three sides by state land.  As for town ordinance, the clerk told me that, though illegal, if there were no noise complaints from my nearest neighbor then there weren't any chickens in existence on my property. 

After about six months, I decided that all was well on the chicken keeping front.  The next thing I had to learn was how to jar and can the produce from my ever-expanding garden. 

I firmly believe that it is my duty not just as a Christian, but also as a human being, to give charitably whenever possible.  I have found that a garden can go long ways towards helping others when needs are great.  As unemployment in my area exceeds 15% at the time of typing this, I am finding more and more people within five miles of my home who are in need of food assistance than I ever though I would see.  Having gone to bed hungry many times as a child I find this to be an affront to my very existence.

As such I keep producing as much as possible.  Along with this, I have found that it has become a simple matter to jar foods like pickles, salsa, tomato sauce, chutney and bean salad.  I give my surplus to the food pantry run by my church versus direct giving (OPSEC) and I’ve managed to streamline my process and make better quality stores for myself.  I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve always believed that you learn best by doing.

The best offense is a good defense:

I’ve now spent the last couple of years secretly creating my cache of supplies.  While doing so I’ve come across a like-minded individual who brought me to my current phase of preparedness: Security and Defense.

I had come to realize that there is a giant hole in all of my preparation.  I did not have the ability to defend it.  I have a fairly decent ability to fight hand-to-hand and with knives.  I honed this ability growing up in a rough neighborhood.  My biggest problem was that I didn’t want to end up being the fool who died because he brought a knife to a gunfight.

To that end I sought to get my pistol permit.  During my journey to permit-hood I met a firearms instructor who, as it turns out, lives not too far from my home.  My gut told me we were kindred.  After my class we got to talking and our belief systems seemed to be in sync.  So I decided to break operational security and divulge my preparedness.  I have not had a single regret about it yet.

My newly discovered partner-in-preparedness is a retired SWAT-experienced police officer.   He has helped several people on the road to “Emergency Security” and has decided to not only teach this to me, but to train with me.  I have been introduced to the world of the “three gun” philosophy and am currently taking steps to hone my skills along with others like me.

A man’s home is his castle:

When it comes to home defense, it’s not enough to just know how to shoot.  I had heard numerous times about “Hardening your home”.  Hardening, in general, is a very simple concept: Don’t make it easy for the bad guys to get in and win.  Use things like thorny plants below but not overgrowing your windows, security system, motion lights etc.  But what about when the Schumer hits the fan?

These basic precautions would likely not be enough to fend of a few hungry people let alone stand up to a full-on assault by looters.  With that in mind I spent a good amount of time walking the perimeter of my property looking for places where my property, as well as my home, could be compromised or used against me.

My property, which borders hundreds of acres of state land, is heavily wooded.  I don’t expect to be set-upon by a fast moving vehicle based force from any of the sides facing forest.  Any approach on foot from these directions would have plenty of cover, but only after traversing 12 acres of swamp on one side, and hundreds of densely forested acres on the others.  I have made good use of a chainsaw and thinned out the woods for a hundred feet in each direction past my property line.  This wood will do a lot of good in my fireplace.

Additionally, I have taken the liberty of re-populating the now thinned areas with low growing vines for ground cover.  These will serve to entangle all but the most dexterous foot thus slowing any approach, and even offering up targets should they get stuck on approach.

With three of four areas of approach taken care of I then needed to contend with my homes three weakest points.

  1. My proximity to the road.
  2. The gaping hole in my home created by my glass deck doors.
  3. The gaping hole in my home created by the Bay Window facing the road.

There isn’t much I can do about how close to the road my home is.  Here are a few solutions I have applied or am in the process of at the time of typing:

  1. The digging of a “Water Run-off” ditch along my road frontage will do considerable damage to smaller vehicles.
  2. A six-foot privacy fence, using concrete in the pillars running the length of my property.  On the “Yard Side” of the fence, concrete “Planters” with decorative brick facing have been added at intervals that will make it impossible for anything to drive between (should my fence be rammed).  Plus they look nice and are the future home for my medicinal herb garden.
  3. My glass doors will be removed when SHTF.  To take their place I have constructed a ballistic and fire resistant blockade that I refer to as “The Portcullis”, though it doesn’t really look like one.


Building The Portcullis

2x8 pressure treated lumber was used to frame out the door opening.  The framing was done in such a way as to allow for the installation of a steel fire door in the center.  The outside of the structure will be closed around the door by screwing plywood to the framing and allowing it to overlap the house by one foot in all directions. 

This plywood is then covered with sheet metal, which when needed for actual use will be coated in barbecue paint.  The whole effect, with the steel fire door installed, is to create a standard door opening that offers protection from nasty things like Molotov cocktails and bullets. 

The additional ballistic protection comes from gravel.   Once the outside of The Portcullis is installed, the inside will go up in sections.  The bottom four feet will be covered with plywood.  At which time gravel, cleverly disguised as additional parking on the side of my driveway (OPSEC), will be used to fill in the space between the outer and inner plywood. 

When I reach the top of the first section, three additional feet will be added in the same manner.  The final foot will be filled this way but with a bit more difficulty as there is little room remaining for the shovels of gravel to be manipulated.

The final product results in excellent ballistic and flame protection.  The same process will be used for the Bay Window with the addition of two gun ports.

The beauty of this assembly is that all of the parts can be stored unassumingly in my basement, shed or anywhere else such things seem ordinary (OPSEC).

It all comes full circle:

As I type this I am still living this secret life.  I have learned how to raise chickens, grow crops, jar and can, purify drinking water, store food, use multiple weapons and harden my home.  I am surveying my land for an area suitable for fuel storage and I have even signed up to take “classes” on battlefield medicine.  But I have yet to re-visit the topic of preparedness with my family.

To an extent I am a coward.  I know how I will react in an emergency.  We’ve had multiple hurricanes and nor’easters. We’ve had a “gas crunch” which saw people fighting on long lines.  I have stared-down armed assailants and fought violently to clear a path through harm’s way. And worse, I have performed CPR on my dying child, and failed, while others either panicked or froze in fear. I know exactly who I am.

I’m just still trying to find out how to be him.  Until then I am shrouded in Operational Security in my own home.  I am “The Secret Prepper”.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
A young friend recommended "Patriots" to me a month ago and, since that time, I've consumed it's two sequels and "How to Survive..."  I was pleased to see that I have followed most if not all of your recommendations without having known them - my endless frustration in life has been to never had an original thought.  In re-reading "Surviving...", the lighting, alarm and camera chapters, I note that you reference motion detector operated lighting, Dakota Alert MURS systems and webcams but not an alarm system as such.

Back in 2008, as moving day to The American Redoubt was close at hand, I suddenly panicked thinking, "What about security for my U-Haul full of "stuff"?" (By "stuff", I mean valuable items that the movers wouldn't handle or those which I did not want them to handle.) Since my move was to include at least 3 nights in low-end motels, the kind that allow dogs, my concerns increased exponentially.  In a sweat, I started web-searching like mad for some sort of portable alarm system that would signal me in my room without alerting or annoying others should the trailer be tampered with.  What I found was a remarkable system, the Tattletale.

The system is designed primarily for contractors who must leave storage units, materials and equipment scattered about remote locations.  The alarm signal is conveyed to a "central station" via the national cell phone network but does not use any single service provider or cell phone number, etc; the central station then alerts you and/or any others you may designate by whatever means you designate.  The alarm signal itself is sent via some sort of cell phone system "side band" that you, with your knowledge of arcane radio mumbo-jumbo, will understand.

The transmitter unit is portable, includes an integral motion detection unit and has battery backup which is good for extended periods.  Furthermore, numerous other devices can be added to this unit, wirelessly, such as additional motion detectors, smoke/fire detectors and locking devices which can be used to secure equipment or outbuildings, etc.

This system will be rendered unusable post-TEOTWAWKI, of course, but is an excellent system till then.  I used my system for more than two years and never had a false alarm.

Thank you for expanding my horizons and especially for scaring the pants off a lot of complacent but otherwise sentient beings and getting them off the dime - a 90% silver dime, that is.

All the best, - Sam

P.S.: The funny part of the story, though I'm loathe to tell it, is that my system arrived on the day of the move so I was not able to figure it out until I arrived in Montana and could finally sit down, focus and follow through.  To use one of your favorite phrases, "needless to say", I spent several very nervous nights on the road.  Three years ago, I built my retreat: a dugout ("earth sheltered home" to liberal greenies), 3/4th of a mile off the county road, out of sight behind a butte, at the end of a road closely monitored by friends. Therefore, I put my Tattletale contract on hold and have yet to re-install it.  S. 

I suspect this will start a trend: Commissioners Declare Carroll a Sanctuary County for Second Amendment. It is great seeing this coming from a state like Maryland. Please contact your county commissioners and state legislators and urge them to do likewise, with this as model legislation.

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Some useful lessons here: Self-defense groups spring up in Mexico to battle Knights Templar drug cartel. (A hat tip to Peter S. for the link.)

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Sue C. sent: Sweden's capital hit by worst riots in years. JWR's Comment: Conspicuously absent in this coverage is the fact that these "youths" are nearly all Muslim immigrants. The mass media in Europe has now so fully embraced Political Correctness that they are complicit with their cultural suicide.

   o o o

Attention readers living in Buck Owens country: The Prepare 2 Endure ("P2E") Emergency Preparedness Expo is scheduled for June 8th and 9th at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, California.

   o o o

J.F.J. recommended this piece: Inside Every Liberal Is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out

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Fellow blogger Mac Slavo warns of a trend that could be used as an excuse for disarming millions of Americans: You are Crazy: New Psychiatric Guidelines Target Hoarding, Child Temper Tantrums, and a Host of Other “Illnesses”. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

"Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, [even] her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit.
Whom dost thou pass in beauty? go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised.
They shall fall in the midst of [them that are] slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword: draw her and all her multitudes.
The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword." - Ezekiel 32:18-21 (KJV)

Friday, May 24, 2013

JRH Enterprises is running a Memorial Day sale through June 1st on FLIR Scout Series thermal imagers. These are ideal for retreat security. The Scout PS24 FLIR is on sale for $1,850 and the FLIR PS32 Thermal camera which offers higher resolution and 2X magnification greatly increasing the range for $2,795. JRH also has on sale the DBAL-I2 Infrared and visible laser sighting system for use with your night vision device available.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

I’ve always considered myself and my family extremely blessed.  I also am a firm believer that God expects you to make the most out of what you have.  God gave me a wonderful wife and 3 healthy, strong boys.  We are a hard working family who have always had goals and planned well for the future.  We even had a bug-out plan when not many other folks even talked about such things.  Our world took a drastic turn a little over a year ago when my oldest son was injured in a high school wrestling accident.  In the blink of an eye my son became a C4C5 quadriplegic.  After about three months reality began to sit in and we had to start planning for a greatly altered future.  One night I began to think about our bug-out plan and it became obvious for a plethora of reasons that we couldn’t just grab our stuff and head out.  At this point I began to harden our existing home.  Fortunately we live in a very rural neighborhood with like-minded people around us.  There is nothing about us that calls attention to ourselves or screams prepper.  We just go about business as usual and quietly prepare.  Here is what we have done and are in the process of doing to make our house a handicapped assessable fortress.

I must preface this article by saying that we are not a wealthy family with an unlimited budget.  We are just a dual income family that has always saved for the future.  Most of what I will describe came together very quickly because we sold a property that was not handicapped assessable and opted to put that extra money in our now primary and only home.  I hope that what I’m about to share will help others who want to prepare and have a handicapped family member.  We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.  I do realize that we are doing many things that other individuals have done and are doing, but, I will give you a unique perspective from a handicapped assessable point of view.  The first thing I learned was that you really do need to commit to live where you will hunker down.  Everything that you want or need will be with you all the time and you will never have to decide what to take and what to leave behind in an emergency situation.  I also found it easier from a financial stand point since I was putting money into one place.  So, with that being said, here is our home and retreat.  

Our house is a one level all brick home on a full basement with one step to get in the front door and a nice smooth slope with no steps down to the drive and basement.  Talk about handicapped ready before we even arrived!  Doors will be your first challenge.  They have to be widened to allow wheel chair access.  Use this opportunity to really fortify all those exterior entries.  Nobody will question you at all in this situation so here is your opportunity to go a little crazy.  I do suggest that you limit the amount of glass and beef these doors up to take a slug.  You can justify this by saying that the door may take a beating from the wheel chair and if it is a power chair it will definitely take a few good licks early in the game.  At the very least you need a very heavy wooden door with some kind of cross support.  Install a strike plate which would deflect and distribute the force of a blow along with reinforced hinges.  Go ahead and widen every single doorway inside the house.  You won’t regret it.  It will be easier for everybody to move around, I promise.  Eventually your injured family member will need access to the entire house and it is an opportunity to reinforce the interior a little as well.  Get rid of all carpet.  Wheel chairs don’t like carpet and it’s hard to keep clean.  Hard wood is an excellent choice for all rooms and no lip at any door.  Let’s talk wheelchair for a second.  Make sure you have a high quality manual push chair as a back-up if not your primary chair.  Charging a motorized chair could be an issue when there is no power to count on.  Opt for solid wheels rather than air so that you don’t have to worry about flat tires.  Air will give you a better ride though.

The next modifications made were in my son's living area which is in our finished basement.  These changes in particular are aimed at handicapped individuals but have made maintenance and livability much easier for everyone.  All carpet and tile was torn out so that we had raw concrete.  The concrete was then polished, stained, and sealed.  It’s beautiful and very easy to clean as well as super tough and durable.  Also worth mentioning is his bathroom.  We took out a wall and increased the area from existing closet space and constructed him a huge roll in shower.  The shower is now roughly a 10 foot by 10 foot area.  It’s overkill but, maneuverability is an important issue.

Surveillance was something that we put our money into soon after getting our son home.  We invested in both indoor and outdoor cameras.  We can’t be with our son at every moment, so, we can always check on him and his care person at any time and any place.  All of our cameras are tied into our alarm system and we can monitor with our phone 24/7 by video monitor at home.  These cameras will help as our son begins to gain some independence and in crunch time they may save your life by giving you a view of exactly what is going on outside without placing someone in a potentially dangerous situation.  We did opt for infrared cameras outside which give you an incredible view in the dark.

An all metal roof is nice but, you may have to put a few other changes first.  If you don’t have gutters, get them!  Rain water is your friend.  If possible, install underground tanks to catch all the rain off your roof.  I learned this trick from a Cajun that I duck hunt with.  He has a camp built on a barge that catches rain water in 2 tanks that each holds a thousand gallons.  If you treat your water with swimming pool chlorine and use your water wisely, you should have plenty of usable water at all times.  I have been shocked at how well this works at his camp.  I’m going to us a 1,000 gallon holding tank.  Putting it in will spur a few questions but, explaining that you have drainage issues and you also intend to irrigate with it should explain it all away.  It has also come to my attention that in some cities you must have a permit to catch rain water off your roof.  This is crazy, but some regulations in a few places say you are not allowed to change the natural flow of water, even if that is off your roof.  In my opinion this is government over reaching its bounds again.  If you’re worried about this it is easy to check.  We did, and all is fine.   We will pump the water with electric pumps that can also work with our back-up power system which I will discuss later in this article.  We use about 6,000 gallons of water each month and in crunch time this could be greatly reduced.  We get plenty of rain throughout the year here in the South, so we should be able to keep our tank rather full.  For now, we are picking out the most practical placement for this tank and with a little luck it will be catching water by June of this year.  Initially we will just use our tanks for watering and car washing.  This water will be perfect to use for washing and bathing as is.  It should be run through a filter system before drinking and cooking.   Another great thing about the underground tank method is that people will never realize that you have plenty of water.  We also store water in many other various containers. 

My next suggestion concerning water will be a little complicated, but this fix will hopefully make your septic system more trouble free.  An inspector will not allow you to do this but, route your black water (toilet) to the septic tank.  Re-route your waste water (gray) out to a run off to catch it for reuse.  If you plan ahead for this, when the mess hits the fan, all you will need to do is twist a few levers and you are on a black/gray system.  If you think about it, your home just became similar to a giant camper with a fresh water holding tank, black tank, and a gray tank.

Let’s talk about energy independence and some practical modifications that I have made and will be making very soon.  Solar energy is a strong and lasting option.  You will need a good supply of sunshine though.  Our house is situated so that we get full sunlight on our house from sunrise until sunset.  Did God know that we would need this place or what!!  The system that we are planning to install produces enough energy that we can meet all our needs and feed back into the power grid for credit should we so choose.  We will have a battery system for night time power and use the grid if necessary.  Batteries are not great power sources like the sun but, they can keep you a fair supply of emergency power.  Should the grid go down, we hope it won’t faze us too bad.  This does come with a strong price tag!  Depending on your choice of set-up and needs, the price can range from $15,000-$30,000.  This will be our most expensive prep.  The good news is that you can take advantage of some tax credits by going solar.  I know that is a lot of money, but, over the span of a few years the system will help pay for itself through energy savings and increasing the value and marketability of your home.  It will be worth every penny the first time you lose power for any extended period of time and when the mess hits the fan, this system will be priceless.  Don’t forget, we have a quadriplegic that has more needs to meet than for the average person.  Thank goodness he is not respirator dependent, but, that need could be met if it were ever necessary.  We are working out the logistics for a 10KW system to be installed before summer.   We also keep a 7,500 watt generator on hand with 60 gallons of stabilized gas close by. (Yes, I know that this is not enough fuel. We are making arrangements for a larger and better storage system.)   Other electrical needs are met with an abundance of rechargeable batteries and the small backpack solar chargers.  The most important modification that we made to our house was done well before we started preparing for a hunkering down situation.  We installed lightning rods on our home.  We have been hit twice over the past few years and lost television s and other electrical items.  In crunch time, this would be a devastating blow.  Get your house grounded by a professional.  Take every step to make your shelter safe and energy independent.  We are quickly moving toward energy independence.  You should be too!

Windows are a weak link in all homes.  Ours are tied into an alarm system.  In crunch time my suggestion here is to have diamond plate sheets on hand to place over certain select windows (I’m not talking about aluminum).  You can find them in many different gauges to meet your personal needs.  I do suggest that you get them in a flat black or brown color.  They can easily be bolted on in times of emergency and to be honest, in severe weather outbreaks, they are rather handy.  Can they stop a bullet?  Yes.  A heavy gauge will offer sufficient protection from almost any projectile that you will encounter.  If a tank rolls into your neighborhood, it’s not going to matter what you have up.  Is this perfect?  No.  But I guarantee you that a looter won’t crawl in a window or shoot you from the street.  This leads me right to my next change.  We will be adding a wood burning stove in our basement kitchen for heating and cooking purposes.  It will be vented out an existing window which will now be closed and sealed off.  That’s one less window to worry about.  Also, consider adding a kitchen in your basement.  We added a small kitchen to our basement when we made modifications to our home for our son.  His area is the basement and the kitchen actually makes him feel like the basement is his own place.  You never know when you may have to stay in your basement for extended periods of time due to a Biological/Chemical hazard or some other fallout.  A good underground basement offers nice protection and can be sealed fairly tight.  Also, our basement has a fully furnished and well equipped wine cellar.  Homemade wine will be an excellent trade/barter item when some stability is returned to society.  A simple hobby now could turn into a nice profession one day.  Also, the temperature of the cellar makes it easy to store other items should it ever become necessary.

Now, let’s discuss a few personal needs.  These next few comments are especially for those hunkering down with someone who has a spinal cord injury but, can be helpful to the able bodied individual as well.  You must have a rock solid plan for bowel and bladder needs.  I won’t elaborate.  You are familiar with your loved one’s needs better than anyone else.  This is priority number one.  Next is skin care, which must become second nature.  A pressure sore could easily be fatal.  Remember, there won’t be deliveries and replacements for medical supplies for a long time (if ever).You must learn to conserve and reuse as well as clean and sterilize material.  It’s defiantly tough to consider, but, you better learn how to put an indwelling foley catheter in your family member just in case something happens and intermittent catheterization is not practical.  I suggest you obtain a large amount of cranberry supplements for your injured family member.  It will help a little in the prevention of a urinary tract infection.  Many spinal cord injury patients die from urinary tract infections long after their injury, so be careful.  I should also mention that individuals with high spinal cord injuries have trouble with blood pressure and lose the ability to regulate their body temperature.  Blood pressure medicine may be hard to get or even impossible.  You should stock up with many extra pair of ted hose and abdominal binders.  These will help push the blood back toward the heart.  Familiarize yourself with the signs of dysreflexia and be prepared to treat it immediately.  This is a sudden and huge increase in blood pressure usually caused by some type of irritation or something that would be painful to the able bodied person.  You must locate this problem and correct it immediately.  Your family member can die from this if not corrected quickly.  Your doctor should have prepared you for this.  Our family is lucky.  My wife is a family nurse practitioner so she is highly qualified to care for our family.  Here are some things that we feel you must have stocked up:  Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aspirin, Antibiotics, Vitamins, Potassium Iodide tablets, Masks, Bandages, Tape, Eye drops, Suture kit, Surgical and other instruments.  Have a very high quality blood pressure cuff on hand that you know how to use.  Keep a very large supply of Clorox, rubbing alcohol, iodine, and peroxide on hand.   KY jelly and Vaseline should also be stocked heavily.  I would also have several aloe plants on hand and keep them in good health.  Rubber gloves, paper products, and plastic bags are vital and like other medical supplies are finite in number.  The list can go on and on.  The bottom line is to stock up so that you can meet your medical needs as best possible. 

You must eat to stay healthy.  Stocking up on food is a given.  You must learn to grow, gather seed, can, and preserve your food.  When my son was still inpatient, he took an interest in gardening and landscape.  As a result of his new found interest, we constructed several raised beds in our back yard for him to plant in and help tend his garden.  We have a large, fenced in back yard where these raised beds are located.   And much to our surprise, our neighbors have done the same.  After some discussion and planning, we have decided to team up in the food production (and defense) business should the need ever arise.  You will be shocked at the quantity and quality of food that is produced in raised beds.  Our garden produces enough that we had to give away a large amount of food.  You will find that you will be able to keep something growing almost year around.  The raised beds and fence help keep the critters out.  The fact that the beds are raised will allow our son to help cultivate the crops from his wheelchair.  It is extremely important for the mental well being of your injured family member that they be able to work and contribute to the success of your home. We also have several blackberry and blueberry bushes planted with several fruit trees.  Our newest project has been establishing grape vines.  At some point, I would like to learn how to keep bees.  Do you have any idea how popular you would be in crunch time if you had honey to barter or trade with?  Bees are vital around your garden anyway!  I should probably move this up on my list especially since we live in a perfect climate for bee keeping. 

Birds are a different story.  A BB gun or nice air rifle will handle that problem and I guess that we all might need to learn to eat a little crow.  It goes without saying that you need a dehydrator and lots of salt.  You need to learn how to make jerky.  Now, how do I put meat on the table?  Of course we have plenty on hand to last several months but, sooner or later you will need to begin harvesting again.  This won’t be easy but we have a plan.  Around here everybody and their brother will head for any wooded area and try to kill anything that moves during the first few weeks of a meltdown.  I don’t think they will have much success as there are very few real hunters.  After a couple of weeks when people figure out that they can’t just go out and kill what they want, most will stop trying and resort to other methods (looting/stealing).  In a situation where everything has fallen apart, normal rules have to be thrown out so that food can be harvested.   When the time is right, I will harvest game, if we need it, in the middle of the night with the aid of a FLIR.  That is thermal imaging.  Everything alive gives off a heat signature and I plan to take full advantage of this fact.  I was completely amazed the first time I drove through our hunting club in our Ranger and took a look through my FLIR.  Wow!  There were many pairs of eyes on me!  If you have a chance, try one out and you will be very impressed.  You can purchase a nice FLIR for about $2,000 and it will be a valuable asset when it comes to food gathering and defense of your home.  The one that I use runs on rechargeable batteries and is very trouble free.  I have not had very good luck with regular night vision goggles.  Lenses tend to break easy and they have caused us more trouble than they are worth.  Camouflage won’t hide a heat signature either.    Nobody will sneak up on you.  If you can afford it, get an extra one.  Now, back to food harvesting for a second.  Given the circumstances, I doubt the game warden will be out looking for poachers.  I’m sure I can bring plenty of game right to our door with a nice salt block or a little corn. 

It is my opinion that the defense of your home is the most important part of preparing for a crisis like the one we are discussing.  I’ve already mentioned what my plans are for entry ways and windows.  After much research and study, I believe that the reinforced heavy doors and diamond plate sheets are perfect for most situations like ours.  Our back yard and garden are already fenced in with chain link and as luck would have it, our property looks out over hundreds of acres and there is a huge drop to the property below.  We are on extremely high ground and it would be difficult for someone to approach us from behind.  Therefore, in a time of civil unrest, I would probably only add barbed wire to the top of our fence and apply a layer of electric wire.  Another huge advantage that we have is how isolated our small neighborhood is and there is only one dead end road which enters and forest around that.  However, until we can agree as a neighborhood group to barricade the road, my neighbors and I will take steps to keep a crazy looter from driving through our front door.  My two neighbors on each side and I plan to erect pilings through our yards spaced so that a vehicle cannot pass between them.  Railroad ties along with existing trees are what we plan to use and we have been collecting the ties for a couple of months now.  They are easy to get here and it doesn’t hurt to have a friend who works with the railroad.  We realize that this is going to be very tough and time consuming work but, if everything falls apart you will have plenty of time on your hands and you never know what a desperate individual might try.  Each post will be placed at least 3 feet in the ground.  This should be an excellent barrier from almost any vehicle.  Speaking as someone who has operated heavy machinery in the past, I can definitely vouch that the machine could not just drive straight through.  It would require a little work which would give us time to take appropriate action to stop it. 

Thank God for the Second Amendment!   We do try to keep things simple.  Everybody has a 12 gauge shotgun.  In a rural neighborhood like ours this gun may very well be our most valuable weapon.  We’ll use number 2 or 4 shot in most cases.  We do have buckshot and some goose loads if necessary.  Everybody has a. 22 rifle with thousands of rounds and extra magazines.  Everyone has a handgun with the exception of our injured son.   These include a .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, .38 revolvers, .22s, and some extras parts.  The long guns in addition to our .22s include a .44 Mag lever action rifle ,a .22-250, a .17 HMR, .270 and an AR-15.   

All these weapons are very effective in our particular situation and everyone is very comfortable with these weapons.  I do believe our shotguns will be our most useful tool.  Now, our handicapped son will be able to take part in the defense of the home as well.  He has a very nice .270 with a first class Leupold scope.  How does he shoot it?  Thanks to Buckmasters, he has a mounting system for his chair that enables him to shoot as well as an able bodied person if not better.  He has a LCD display with joystick controls and a sip and puff trigger control.  He can really reach out and touch someone.  The whole set-up runs off a 12 volt battery.  Many thanks go out to the people at Buckmasters for giving this to my son which has enabled him to hunt again.  We even figured out how to use the LCD with the FLIR.  Of course we do keep a few other surprises locked away in our vault and our neighbors each have a very nice selection of weapons.  Our area will be very well defended! 

With that being said, let me take a moment and talk especially to those who have an injured or disabled family member.  Your family member is an easy target for criminals.  In our situation, (our son) is a target when he is in public because he can’t help or defend himself.  A thief will target a quad and take anything they want with very little problem.  Independence is important and must be approached carefully.  Due to the level of our son’s injury he still has an attendant or close friend with him if he is in public.  One step that we took to help our son become more independent was to get a service dog.  He chose a large German shepherd.  The security around our house just doubled.  That dog loves my son and would give her life protecting his and the family.  She opens and closes doors, picks up items off the floor, helps pull him when he is in his manual chair, and is a constant companion.  She has also been exposed to the sport of schutzhund.  I know that there have been other articles about the value of dogs in crunch time so I won’t spend time discussing them.  But, you should strongly consider a service animal!  Once a dog like a German shepherd bonds with you and the family they will become extremely protective of their pack.  You are now part of the pack! You should see the wide space people give my son when he is in public with his German shepherd.  Also, these animals can go any place in public that you go.  That equals independence and peace of mind.     

Another factor that I believe will play a vital role in the survival of our family is the fact that we are all very outdoor oriented people.  We’re all avid campers and know how to ruff it when necessary.  Everyone knows how to read a map and use a compass.  These are skills that are very valuable and few people understand anymore.  We all have good knives and know how to use them.  We have good radios to communicate with and listen for local news.  We also obtained a good short wave radio.  Monitoring the radios and cameras will be our injured son’s primary job.  We have a large supply of what I call my everyday useful tools.  Examples of these are rakes, shovels, hoes, picks, axes, wedges, hammers of all sizes and weights, sling blades, hatchets, machetes, saws including an old fashioned 2 man saw, various sizes of nails, bolts, screws, nuts, and washers.  You will also need a good supply of common hand tools for mechanical, plumbing, and carpenter needs.  Consider keeping a supply of various tape, caulk, glue, and oils.  Keep a good supply of replacement parts on hand and learn how to maintain what you have, especially your solar power supply and water pumps.  Don’t forget that you are now the repair man.  There is also a little pocket reference book that is written by Thomas J. Glover which I think everybody should own.  It has over 500 pages of tables/facts/formulas and other information that you will need sooner or later.  I think that it is a great tool that everyone must have.

Also, keep in mind that with a spinal cord injury you are going to have large amounts of medical waste that will need to be disposed of to avoid disease and other problems.  My suggestion is to invest in one or two 50 gallon metal drums to burn trash in.  You might be surprised how often you use it now.  Keep your old new papers.  Try to have a nice selection of books and magazines which should include plenty of how to information.  The fox fire book series is nice to have.  Cards and board games will also help pass the time.  And I guess most important would be to learn how to reload your ammunition and have plenty of supplies in that area! 

We’re lucky we don’t live in a big city, but we are a little too close for comfort.  Should something happen, we feel that the first 24 to 48 hours will be vital in the preparation and initial fortification of our home.  While everybody else is staggering around in shock, we will get everybody home and move into action.  Close up, seal up, lock up, and drop off of the radar.  Let the crazy’s kill and steal from each other and don’t do anything to catch their attention.  No smoke during the day and keep it dark at night.  With any luck all this will pass and civility will return rather soon.  If not, we and our neighbors are ready to hunker down together where are and keep each other safe for the long haul.  Hunkering down where you are may be your best plan for now.  For us, at this time in our life, we really must make the best out of what we have.  Working with your close neighbors makes this process much easier.  For those of you who can’t relocate at this time like us, don’t stress, just work to make what you have the best possible.  It can be done.  We’re living proof.  So, until such a time that we are able to relocate to the great American redoubt, we’ll be holding the line here in the South.   God Bless and good luck.

For those with hollowpoint feeding problems with their pistols, I’d like to recommend the Dremel 516 Abrasive Point, which is bullet-shaped.

Here is manufacturer's description: "Abrasive point, bullet shaped constructed of compressed non-woven nylon fibers that have been impregnated with aluminum oxide abrasive grains. These abrasive points are great for finishing work and light deburring."
I find it works well by polishing the feed ramp to a mirror finish as well as lightly rounding the sharp edges of the chamber end of a new barrel.  I stumbled upon this solution when I received one of the first batch of Diamondback 380s.  I had multiple malfunctions with the DB380 using hollow points and was considering sending it back to Diamondback.  I elected to polish the barrel as describe above and it was a remarkable improvement and the next box of hollow points fed flawlessly.  I now do this polishing mod with all my new pistols.  A simple test of bullet to chamber feed is to hold the barrel vertical and simply drop a bullet in from one inch above.  If the bullet doesn’t simply glide into the chamber, hangs up by catching the case rim, or if it rolls around the on barrel rim a few times, buff it a little bit more with the Dremel abrasive bit.  My only warning is don’t overdo it, as you might remove too much barrel material and have a case rupture near the rim (which I have to date not experienced.) Cheers, - Foo

JWR Replies: I concur that feed ramp polishing should be done judiciously. As with any machining process, always remember that it is easy to remove metal, but it is usually impossible to put it back via welding or brazing without ruining a part. Proceed with caution and take your time! Never use a file when you should be using a stone, or your will probably regret it. The old saying is "haste makes waste." Or, as my father put it: "haste makes expensive trips to the hardware store." Also keep in mind any time you use any abrasives on your guns, that you need to remove all of the fragments and filings, which might wear on the inner workings elsewhere in your pistol or scratch their protective finishes. For this, I often use a spray can of brake cleaner solvent. (Available at you local auto parts store.) Be sure to wear rubber gloves, and of course properly re-lubricate the parts as you re-assemble the gun, since brake cleaner will strip away all of the lubrication.

We saw this coming: Global Market Rout Spreads

Reader Denise in Florida spotted this: Ceiling suspended: US takes on $300 billion in new debt after hitting $16.7 trillion. The article begins: "America’s ticking debt bomb has been reset. Washington has suspended the debt ceiling, setting a date, and not a concrete dollar sum as a deadline, an unprecedented first in US history."

Fed's Dudley: Will Take 3 to 4 Months to Decide on Tapering. JWR's Comment: In my estimation The Fed, Treasury, and their derivatives trading clients are now so addicted to QE that they will utterly destroy the Dollar before they quit.

File under Unintended Consequences: How The Obama Gun Boom Pushed the Fortune of Two Brothers to $1.2 Billion

Chris Martenson: Four Signs That We're Back in Dangerous Bubble Territory

Items from The Economatrix:

Don Coxe: Buying Gold May Have Downside Risks, "But The Upside Is Going To Be Enormous"

10 Scenes From The Economic Collapse That Is Sweeping The Planet

View From Main Street From One Small Town

Reader F.G. sent us links to a curious disparity: Scientists say united on global warming, at odds with public view: "(Reuters) - Ninety-seven percent of scientists say global warming is mainly man-made but a wide public belief that experts are divided is making it harder to gain support for policies to curb climate change, an international study showed on Thursday." But then we also read: Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis. "Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies." No comment needed.

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Also from F.G.: How to Fix a "New Style" Gasoline Can (a seven minute video)

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A deer in Johnstown, Pennsylvania gets her two minutes of fame.

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New York Sheriffs: Cuomo asked for silence; Law officials say governor tried to quiet criticism of gun law.

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Speaking of gun control, here is the end result of disarming honest men and women: Blood on his hands, hatred in his eyes: 2.30 pm on a suburban high street, Islamic fanatics wielding meat cleavers butcher a British soldier... As we say here in the States: "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away." In this case, it was 14 minutes after the first 999 call. A lot can happen in 14 minutes. There is no substitute for an armed citizenry.)

"The American people expect the Internal Revenue Service to violate them fairly and impartially, that one taxpayer not be garroted while another is but lightly strangled, that 'service' be understood in the veterinary sense rather than the mortician's. The compact has been breeched. The nation pauses." - Ol' Remus, The Woodpile Report

Thursday, May 23, 2013

140 years ago today, on May 23 1873, the North West Mounted Police, the progenitor of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), was established. They are still a great group of lawmen, for the most part.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

Most people have been fishing at some point in their life and in the event of TEOTWAWKI many people will include this basic survival skill in their portfolio of hunting and gathering activities.  Since the majority of the world lives along coastlines, fishing for survival might become fairly competitive and with so many lines in the water you'll be better off jumping in and hunting your fish the way God intended.  After all, why else would humans be given the mammalian diving reflex, the set adaptations which occur as soon as your face touches the water that maximize your oxygen efficiency and protect your organs from damage due to water pressure?  So you could spearfish of course.  

Spearfishing (often referred to as free diving) provides a wonderful alternative to fishing with a pole but requires a different skill set.  Spearfishing is often a better approach than using a pole for a number of reasons:   Spearfishing requires little to no fishing line that may be hard to come by and easily lost in the water or damaged.  It does not require bait. Spears are not lost as easily as hooks.  And from an ecological point of view spearfishing damages the environment less because it is more selective and leaves behind no old line to tangle up animals and trash the environment.     

Despite the many positives of spearfishing there are some cons as well.  Spearfishing still requires its own set of supplies that can be hard to come by in a collapse scenario.  Long sharpened steel shafts with the necessary shapes and structures to lock it into the trigger mechanism will be difficult to fabricate much less find.  The heavy rubber tubing required for the spear gun's power bands will also be a difficult item to find and because rubber degrades over time, the chance of finding well maintained rubber that can withstand the tension required for your purpose will be in short supply.  Also, spearfishing is best done in clear water where you can visually identify your prey from a distance in order to have time to aim and fire your spear gun accurately.  Since clear water typically means ocean water and much of the ocean water in North America is quite cold it requires a wetsuit and good swimming ability to accomplish comfortably and safely.   If you are going after large, active fish, you will need a spear gun.  For more approachable fish that tend to be more sedentary a Hawaiian sling may suffice.  A sling is less likely to bring in the big fish but it requires much less equipment.   The standard spear gun is basically a long crossbow.  A steel shaft, sharpened at one end,  sits atop a metal pipe or length of wood and nestles into a groove.  At the back end of the gun is a handle and trigger mechanism.  The trigger mechanism accepts the appropriately shaped spear shaft and holds it in place until the trigger is pulled.  At the front of the gun one or more heavy rubber bands are passed through the body of the gun and connected into a loop by nylon cord.  When the bands are pulled back the nylon strings are set into a small tab on the top of the spear shaft.  The trigger mechanism holds the shaft in place under the tension.  When you're read to fire, you pull the trigger, the spear is loosed and the bands send the shaft down the groove and into your target.  The effective range of a spear gun with a typical two band configuration is roughly 20 feet under water.    

Alternatively, the Hawaiian sling is simply a spear shaft with a rubber loop at the back end and typically three sharp metal wires at the front.  You operate it by placing your index finger and thumb inside of the rubber loop and pulling back on the spear to create tension in the rubber band then release, much the same way that you launch a paperclip with a rubber band.  This version has an effective range of about the length of the spear itself but would be a much easier version to fabricate if you have to go MacGyver.   There are also pneumatic spear guns but I have no experience with these types nor do many people use them from my experience.  

The spear gun. method of spearfishing usually requires a set of additional gear which includes a float (basically the orange flotation devices that lifeguards carry) that is towed behind the diver by a length of rope, typically a length longer than the deepest the diver would expect to dive (anywhere from 30 to 100 feet.  The float often holds a dive flag which is required by law in many areas where boat traffic could present a hazard.  The float also serves as a place to tie up dispatched fish while the diver hunts for more.  It also keeps the dead, bloody fish away from the diver in the event a fish shows up for a free meal, especially the kind that can make a meal of the diver himself.  The gun is clipped on to the end of the float line to secure it in case the diver has to drop the gun.  Some very large fish can be taken with a spear gun and the diver wants the option of dropping the gun and letting the fish wear itself out against the float.  Divers have lost their lives struggling to bring large fish to the surface.   

A diver also wants to bring gloves to handle the spiny fish and a knife to finish off any that weren't dispatched from the initial shot.  Wetsuits are a must in cold water but even in warm water become necessary as many spearfishing expeditions can last several hours, long enough to dangerously chill a diver even in the tropics.  Fins are essential as they make swimming much easier, make for much deeper dives, and allow the diver to expend less energy, leading to a lower heart rate, less air consumption, and more time underwater where the fish are.     A high quality mask is a must and in my opinion the most important thing to pay a high price for.  There's nothing worse than dealing with a leaky, poor fitting mask while your in the water.  You don't want to even think about the mask.  Get one that has a wide field of view but a low volume of space between your face and the lens as this space will require air from you lungs to equalize as you descend.  The bigger the mask, the less air you'll get to keep in your lungs.  Freediving-specific masks are always "low-volume" masks for the reason mentioned above but they aren't always the most comfortable and don't always offer large field of views by way of their low volume.  I find the single frame masks with a single lens as opposed to two or more separate lenses offer the highest field of view and most comfort.  The Oceanic Shadow is my mask of choice.    

A snorkel is highly recommended because it allows you to be on the surface keep your vision focused underwater on the prey or any lurking predators.  Face down is also the lowest energy position for rest on the surface for recovering between dives.  If the waves begin to pick up it really helps to have a tube to breathe through so you are not fighting the waves for air. A weight belt will absolutely be needed if you are using a wetsuit and also help to lower the energy required to get down on the bottom and also allow you to rest on the bottom and be still while you wait to ambush fish.  Ankle weights can help to flatten out any extra buoyancy you might have on the legs.  Make sure that your weight belt has a quick-release and that you know how to disconnect it in case you need to make an emergency dash for the surface.   In a collapse scenario this gear can be reduced down to a mask and Hawaiian sling or even just the sling.    

So now that you've got your gear, the next question is; can you swim?  If the answer is no, then it's time to start learning.  Are you comfortable enough in the water to not need solid support for hours at a time?  Are you comfortable holding your breath?  Are you comfortable not breathing through you nose or getting water inside of your mask?  Obviously swimming ability is vitally important to this survival skill as is your comfort level in the water because the idea with spearfishing is not to get a workout but to maintain the lowest heart rate you can, you want to be comfortable enough to fall asleep in the water… but don't fall asleep.  If you lack the comfort or swimming ability, then get in a pool and swim.  Hold your breath and sit on the bottom, work your way up to a minute underwater, first in the shallow end where you can stand up if you have to breathe and then move to the deep end.   In order to hold you breath for as long as possible and thereby give yourself a higher chance of success there are a few techniques that you should utilize.   First, you want to lower your heart rate and oxygenate your blood as much as possible.  To do this, completely relax your body and breathe through your snorkel with slow, deep breaths - completely filling and emptying your lungs each time.  Just having your face in the water will induce bradycardia (part of the mammalian diving reflex) and help lower your heart rate.  Use this time to enter a zen state, focus on lowering the heart rate, relaxing, whatever meditation method helps you. 

One technique I've found useful is to spend ten seconds exhaling slowly, push all the air out of your lungs and then hold yourself emptied of air for two seconds.  Then breathe in and completely fill your lungs over five seconds.  Hold at the top for two seconds and repeat the process three or so times. Do not rapidly hyperventilate.  Now take in one final deep breath and bend at the waist 90 degrees so the top of your head is pointing straight down towards the bottom and then kick your legs up straight above your body and you should sink down into the water enough for your feet to submerge and begin kicking.  You may feel somewhat lightheaded at first from the high oxygen level in your brain and even have the urge to breathe again right away, but if you give it a moment you will normalize and see that you have a lot of time before you'll need a breath.  Kick in long slow motions from the hip, keeping your knees more or less straight.  You will need to equalize your air spaces every few feet… do not wait until you feel discomfort.  Exhale a little air into your mask from your nose so that the mask does not begin to squeeze against your face and plug your nose with your fingers and exhale gently to equalize your ears.  Continue to do this throughout your descent.    

Depending on your body fat level, added weight on your belt, and wetsuit thickness, you will become neutrally buoyant at a depth corresponding to these factors and even negatively buoyant at deeper depths.  This is a good thing because you will not have to use extra energy keeping yourself underwater and you will also be able to remain on the bottom and blend in with the substrate to stealthily ambush your prey.  Focus on remaining as absolutely relaxed as possible and keeping loose any muscle that you don't need to use.  Even when you begin to feel that you need a breath, you still have a long time before you actually need to breathe or loose consciousness.  One concern however is that of shallow water blackout, where on your return to the surface your body does not recognize the need for oxygen because of pre-dive hyperventilation.  This can be deadly and is a major reason to always dive with a partner.  Your buddy should remain on the surface and continue to watch you throughout your dive, ready to pull you to the surface and hold your head above the water until you return to consciousness.    

Now it's time to get your fish.  Some divers use bait or flashy objects to attract fish in close enough for a kill.  Without some sort of bait you will need to wait for an unwary fish to come in close enough for a shot or slowly approach your quarry without frightening it and sending it off into the blue.  Fish are much smarter than you might expect, especially fish that are commonly prey to spear fishers.  I have seen many parrot fish that will remain relatively uninterested and relaxed in my presence when I am snorkeling but will then quickly turn tail and dash off when they see me with a spear in hand.  Some divers use masks that have reflective lenses that hide their gaze from the fish.  If you are not using this type of mask, try to not focus your gaze too hard on your intended target.  Fish know when they are being watched and will get uncomfortable if you show too much interest.  Just relax and wait for your shot.  When the fish approaches move your gun slowly and smoothly out in front of your face with both arms extended, aim down the shaft, and pull the trigger.  A fish can have amazing reflexes and dodge even a well aimed shot.  If you live in the tropics, the coral substrate will provide innumerable hiding places for fish, so take the time to peak into all the nooks and crannies.  In Hawaii, enormous ulua are often found hiding in small caverns that one would not expect to hold such a large, powerful fish.  Some fish, like the goatfish and squirrelfish in Hawaii, are very easy to approach and you can practically reach out and poke them with your spear before you pull the trigger.   If free diving sounds like too much then take a stab at it (pun) with a simple Hawaiian sling.  With a good eye you can catch plenty of octopus, lobsters, and sedentary fish in fairly shallow water.    With some practice you should be returning to shore with a float full of fish ready for the frying pan.  If you dive in the ocean, soak all of your gear in fresh water to prevent salt damage.  Take the time to learn how to replace and repair parts of your gun, stock up on extra power bands, and maintain your equipment well for the day when the lights go out and don't come back on. 

JWR Adds: The best way to store natural rubber items is in a cool dark place, with a coating of talcum powder.

On the 22nd of May you linked an article titled "Map divides U.S. based on flow of cash transactions." It is interesting to note, though not exactly that the borders somewhat resemble the map of Federal Reserve district bank territories.

Naturally this should not be a surprise but certainly interesting to see how effective they are at controlling cash. - Dave in Florida

Ammo shortage continues across U.S.

At Barron's: This Time, Gold Bugs May Have a Point

"Scrutinize those Tea Party types? I'll get right on it, sir!". (And now she is pleading the Fifth Amendment.)

Fierce Finance reports: Delays at all levels in mortgage settlements

More mindless blathering over at Rachel Maddow's site: Deficit reduction picks up speed. Gosh, could part of this "great success" be due to the fact that they've more than doubled the money supply by creating money out of thin air with Quantitative Easing in the past three years? To extend this logic, if they just magically created a few more trillion bucks, we could see a budget surplus. Accounts will be balanced. Order will be restored to the universe. Happy days will be here again!

Items from The Economatrix:

Jobless Claims Rise Slightly This Week

Gas Prices to Keep Falling Through June

Fed Prepping Markets for an End to QE?

I heard that two Kindle e-books will be available free at from May 23rd to 25th, only: The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook and A Vegetable For Every Season Cookbook. Both of these e-books are normally priced at $2.99.

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H.L. sent: Red Tape Delayed Oklahoma Town's Tornado Shelter Program. H.L.'s comment: 'When will Americans learn they need to make their own preparations for disasters if at all possible, and stop depending on the government for everything? What happened to our pioneer spirit? We've become lazy, which is dangerous."

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A reader sent a link to the "Subversive Stickers" produced by Jester Jones. Most of them are re-mixed WWII propaganda posters.

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J. McC. sent: The camera-eye view that you DO NOT want to have of a grizzly bear.

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A UPS Driver's Suggestions for Shipping Firearms

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An alert for gun owners in Illinois: Anti-gun extremist State Senator Dan Kotowski has introduced a ban on all magazines having a capacity exceeding 10 rounds. The bill is SB1002. Please help stop it by calling your State Senator. (If you do not know who your State Senator is, the Illinois State Board of Elections has a search page.)

"The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." - H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Please keep the tornado victims in Oklahoma in your prayers. Prayers do get answered.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

Make no mistake, someone will fill the roles of Leader, Supervisor, and Mentor.  As we all know, power abhors a vacuum.  Leaders are considered to be in positions of power, in spite of the fact that many great leaders had little power and many powerful people were terrible leaders.  This article will refer to these roles as they pertain to survival situations.

While the Leader, Supervisor, and Mentor might be the same person, often each of these roles fall on different individuals.  A leader is someone who can organize a group of people to achieve a common goal.  It’s someone who people will follow, either because of coercion (power), charisma, intelligence, gained respect, or other characteristics.   A leader is often assertive and confident.  A leader must weigh their concern for others in the group versus the intended goal.  The situation will often dictate which style (coercion or charisma, for example) of leadership will work at any given time.  Because survival situations can often bring about depression, or a defeatist attitude, it is important that a leader be able to inspire others in the group.

Although someone may be the initial leader, they may not retain it.  Being a leader, as I said, includes having power.  Having power means having responsibility.  The more power you have (whether the president, a cop, or a parent), the more responsibility comes with it.  Some people don't like that responsibility, and some people (although they may like the power) don't know how to handle it well.  I think that, above all, doing what's “Reasonable” will help ensure a leader is considered suitable for the long haul.  Reasonable , in this case, encompasses many things, including good decision making skills and having high moral and ethical character.  As a leader, it is also important to have courage and good communication skills.  Again, not everyone is suitable for the position of leader.

A leader may delegate a supervisor for a particular assignment, so that the leader is not overwhelmed by trying to oversee too many people or projects.  A supervisor is someone who oversees others to see that a project gets completed properly.  A supervisor should probably supervise no more than seven adults at a time.  This, of course, depends on what the task is, but as the number of people being supervised increases, so does the chances of losing control of the project.  As mentioned earlier, the group leader may also be the supervisor, depending on how many people are in the group or are involved in a particular project.   A supervisor will be the primary link between the leader and the group completing the project.  Generally, a supervisor will (or should) also be actively involved in the labor of completing the task at hand.  This is a “lead by example” style that is often important in survival situations.

A mentor is someone who guides or teaches.  A leader or supervisor could also fill the role of mentor, or they may be a terrible mentor, depending on the task, the knowledge they have, and how good of a teacher they actually are.  A good mentor might also be a poor leader or supervisor.  For instance, you may have a doctor in your group who has no interest in being a leader or supervisor, but that doctor might be a very good mentor for aspiring medical care givers in your group.  A mentor may use a “Tell, Show, Do” model of teaching someone, but if the risks involved with a failure are high, then it may be more of a “Tell, Show, Tell, Show, Tell, Show, Do” method.  For instance, a medical procedures mentor might use this technique, because the risks of harm are high if the procedure is done wrong.

Think of the skills most people have now, and what skills will be needed during an extended grid-down scenario.  Not many people possess all the skills needed.  That means everyone will need training/mentoring in some aspect of survival.  For each skill needed, hopefully there is at least one person in your group who currently has expertise for that skill.  Skills need to be cross-trained so that several people possess each individual skill set.  This is so that if one person is unable to conduct a particular skill, then another person can still perform it.  Skills I expect to be needed are: medical (triage, wound management, child birth, disease diagnosis, I.V. administration, mental issues, etc.); food preparation (butchering animals, making basic breads, cooking over wood, solar cooking, dehydrating foods, canning, etc.); gardening (how and when to plant, maintaining soil quality, saving seeds, pest control. weeding, etc.); sanitation (making clean water, personal hygiene, waste disposal, etc.); security (early warning systems, personal combat, team tactics, observation and communication skills, etc.); maintenance (electronics, construction, metalwork, sewing, etc.); hunting (including trapping, snaring, and other wild food gathering); and teaching (primarily the basics of traditional education, along with religious education for the children). 

It is important that proper “feedback”, whether good or bad, be provided by leaders, supervisors, and mentors.  A survival situation is not the same as the normal business world, and the importance of keeping good relationships and completing important tasks cannot be underestimated.  Lives could be at stake.  With that in mind, realize that the way feedback is given greatly influences the way it is received.  If correcting someone (or giving negative feedback): make sure to give the feedback in a prompt manner (don't wait till three days has passed before you tell them they screwed up); be specific about what should be done better (they need to know what they actually did wrong); try to give negative feedback in a setting that is away from others so you don't appear to be trying to embarrass them; and, try to use the “sandwich” technique of saying something positive, then the negative, then finish up with something positive again.  For instance, you might say “Thanks for helping split this wood.  I know it's hard work and I appreciate it.  Can you please split the pieces a little thinner so we can fit them into our stove easier?  Again, I really appreciate your help with this.  This will help us all for quite a while.” 

Giving positive feedback is easier, but just as important.  We can all use positive reinforcement for the jobs we do, and it makes us more willing to do them.  As a leader, supervisor, or mentor, you will be giving feedback, but you will also probably be receiving it.  Make sure you take the feedback with an open mind and react the way you hope others react when you give them feedback.  In fact, as a leader, supervisor, or mentor, I would suggest you occasionally request feedback.  How else will you know how you are doing and where improvements can be made?  It also conveys the feeling that you care what others think about your performance and that you have their interests at heart.

There are many tasks (security, gardening, cooking, cleaning, wood gathering, etc.) that might need to be done in a survival situation.  How will these tasks be assigned?  How will divisive decisions be made?  Is there a process in place to overrule the group leader?  How about insubordination, or a minor crime like theft from someone else in the group?  What sorts of punishments will be handed out?  Those things should be discussed and some plans made.

If some of these decisions are to be made by voting, then I suggest figuring out how to do it ahead of time.  I would suggest having a stock of pre-printed ballots, which have a small box next to a “Yes” and a “No”.  The vote is made by just punching a small hole (with a stick or pencil) through one of the boxes.  Once marked, the ballots go into an empty box before being counted.  By doing it this way, all votes can be made discretely, thereby reducing the chance of influencing the vote by intimidation.  How many votes will be needed to pass a measure (unanimous, majority, super-majority)?  Again, these are for the individual group to decide.

In closing, I just want to say that a leader will almost always be needed, but may not be welcome.  If you have anarchists in your group, then they probably won’t want to follow rules, no matter who makes them.  Not every decision must be made by the leader, so figure out how that will take place.  Having some guidelines in place now will make it easier when times are tough.

When the SHTF, unless you’re alone, someone should, will, or must be a leader.  Not all situations or tasks will need a supervisor, but all will, at some point, have a leader.  It is important to consider who, among your group, will rise to the occasion.  Is it you?  Is it someone you believe will take that position, but not do the job correctly (especially for a survival situation)?  Does your group have too many people who think, or expect, they will be the leader?  Now’s the time to look at the dynamics of the people who may find their way to your house or retreat, in a survival situation.

In response to the nifty article written by Z.T.  I believe I have something to add:
Bill Wilson used to sell a great pamphlet on the care and feeding of 1911s. He specifically addressed hollowpoint reloading vs ball reloading.  In it the physical path and critical feed angles were discussed, as well as what a reloader should do if reloading semi-wadcutter or hollowpoint ammo.  I’d get into it, but I’m pretty certain it’s copyrighted – I don’t think they sell the pamphlet anymore but it’s still his intellectual property.  In a nutshell, if you’re going to reload hollowpoint ammo, you need to load to a slightly longer OAL because of the spot on the bullet where it actually hits the feed ramp is different due to the bullet profile – hitting it later in the slide cycle, essentially, and losing enough energy to create the slightly out of battery condition that’s a plague to 1911s.   There is also a solution that entails checking the feed lip profile for your magazines and either reshaping them to ensure accurate feeding.  I have a nice pile of 1911s of all flavors in existence because I like them.  The gun I carry is one I started shooting 15 years ago and it’s ratty and ugly – and it has my complete confidence.
The other issue in the article had to do with his former habit of buying 50 rounds of standard ball ammo and 20 rounds of “defensive” ammo. Arrggh!.
We as a shooting community have been plagued by the marketing divisions of the various ammo manufacturers since the invention of the original “magic” Federal Hydra-Shok. [JWR Adds: That actually dates back to the days of Super-Vel brand ammo, in the 1960s.] They package them in smaller quantities and put fancy names on them – then double the price, ostensibly because they’re “more effective” against goblins.  Police after-action shootout reports do not emphasize this, but they do prove something – there is no such thing as a magic bullet.    These same “magic” bullets are also sold to law enforcement agencies, but miraculously, they also package them in 50 round boxes and sell them for maybe 20 percent more than ball ammo.   And we continue to buy “magic ammo” in small quantities.   There is nothing more important that being confident in your ability to hit what you aim at and the reliability of your chosen firearm.  The only thing that will give you that is lots and lots of rounds downrange, and if you’re using “magic bullets” you probably can’t afford to do so – so you “compromise” and do what Z.T. described.  I see in everywhere in the civilian shooting community.  

The single greatest impact you can have on your ability to survive a deadly attack with your firearm is continual and copious practice under varying conditions and varying environments, you should get muddy, sunburned, out-of-breath, bruised, frustrated and way out of your comfort zone as much as you possibly can. Putting  0 rounds downrange once a month in an air-conditioned shooting club is no substitute, it’s not even “better than nothing” because your expectations of an encounter as such that the static nature of a typical range will actually work against you when you have to make real tactical decisions when defending your life.    Almost all the public ranges I’ve been to prohibit drawing from a holster, moving forward or backward or laterally, or at any angle other than from a fully standing position.  There are reasons for this that make sense for a range owner, and I’m not advocating a change in these rules – I agree with their rationale.  What I’m saying is that you need to seek out range experiences that allow you to do all the things you might need to do when defending your life.   If your choice is 50 rounds a month at a static range or nothing, I’d suggest the latter.   I’ve put countless people through stress simulation drills who have spent, in some cases, 20 or more years doing static target shooting – and without exception they all failed to achieve any sort of accuracy (center of mass) when stressed, even when the stress was so little as five pushups or starting  with an unknown (to them) empty firearm.   

The lesson I got from Z.T.’s article simply reinforced what I’ve already learned: training trumps equipment.  The Boers knew it, survivors of violent encounters know it – we need to embrace it and find ways to avoid the type of thinking the marketing people at ammunition manufacturers want us to think.   If there was a “magic bullet” like the pre-fragmented kind of Magsafe, etc...  and they were that effective – then wouldn’t you think they’d be the only kind of ammo out there?  In general the firearms “review” we read are conducted by someone who got his or her ammunition for free – so of course it’s going to be described as the best thing out there.  Yeah, yeah, I know Box O' Truth and some others don’t do that – but they aren’t as widely read as the typical gun writer in the magazines and articles we read in the mainstream.   Forget believing that there is any difference in hollowpoint and ball ammo, no hollowpoint in the world is going to make up for bad shot placement – if you can’t train with the ammo you’re going to carry (because it’s too expensive to do so) then abandon it and train with what you carry – it will give you the confidence in your equipment that you need to face a violent encounter, and that confidence is essential. - Jim H. in Colorado

Jeff H. sent this fascinating map: Map divides U.S. based on flow of cash transactions

F.G. sent: California Approves $92 Million Ammo Tax To Combat Gun Violence. "This is in addition to Dickinson’s AB 760, which would impose a five cent tax on every round of ammunition sold in California."

Also from F.G., some "voting with their feet" news: Beretta Leaving Maryland After Gov. Mandates Strict Gun Control Laws

Cameron flagged this item: Thousands of French Households Taxed 100%

Items from The Economatrix:

City of Detroit Ii "Financially Insolvent"

Detroit's Broke; Could Bankruptcy Lie Ahead?

Stamp Prices Could Rise Again

Fascinating: Aerial Data Visualisation Reveals Life In The United States. (Thanks to G.C. for the link.)

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Reader H.L. sent some news of self-delusion that is not surprising: Most Americans Feel "I'm Immune From Disaster"

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Missouri's Approved Gun Bills: Concealed-Carry Permits Easier to Get, Record-Keeping Banned. (Thanks to Clark H. for the link.)

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Mountainview Off Grid Living (in Nampa, Idaho) is offering SurvivalBlog readers a special until the end of May, 2013: Buy a Kimberly (multifuel) Wood Stove and get a free Propur "Big Size" Water Purification System. (A $259 value.) Call (208) 615-6331, for details.

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Dark, massive asteroid to fly by Earth on May 31

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Those clever World Wide Webbers: I noticed that YouTube automagically created a web page with brief excerpts from my blog in every place where it links to any YouTube video. That is fair use, so I can't fault them. But I suspect that this was done by a "bot" rather than a human. Meanwhile, in a paroxysm of "cp *.*", the marketeers at have created countless thousands of "Shopping Enabled" Wikipedia pages. This piqued my curiosity and I found that they had done so even for Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book. Well, congratulations Amazon. You're really "Sticking it to The Man," now! No greater irony...

"But when oppression would lift its head
or a tyrant would be lord,
though we thank him for the plow,
we shall not forget the sword!"
- Charles Mackay (excerpt from the poem Tubal-Cain, about the world's first blacksmith)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today is the birthday of weapons designer John Douglas Pedersen. (Born 1881, died 1951.)


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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 of the articles that I have read on various web sites are, in my not so humble opinion, not adequately addressing the equipment necessary for a Bug-Out-Bag (BOB).  Having had many years of experience in the survival arena, winter and summer, in the Arctic, mountains, tropic and desert regions, many times in hostile theaters, I have drawn up a list for a BOB, along with some accompanying information. There are variations for some of these items and the list of potential equipment and gear is nearly infinite.  However in my considerable experience, what I have listed below has proven to work.

Minimum Equipment

Weapons and Ammunition

  • Semiauto handgun in .45 ACP, 40 S&W, in (A 9mm, is less desirable. The bigger the projectile (bullet) the bigger the hole and big holes and deep penetration.)
  • Four loaded magazines for handgun
  • Additional 50 rounds for handgun
  • Fixed blade combat knife
  • Folding tactical knife
  • Tomahawk with sheath (excellent for bush craft & a formidable weapon)
  • Compact weapons cleaning kit for weapon caliber (Bore Snake and CLP)

Other Tactical Equipment

  • LED Key Chain flash light with green lens (to read maps)
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Holster for your handgun (see info below)
  • Handgun Magazine Pouches
  • Camel back style Hydration System with inline filter, 100 fluid. oz
  • Multi-tool, black or OD in color
  • Small SureFire (or other tactical-type) flashlight
  • Six spare batteries for lights, GPS, etc.
  • Six spare batteries for Surefire lights
  • One (1) spare flashlight bulb for each style of light
  • Appropriate first aid kit
  • Small binoculars
  • GMRS/FRS Radio
  • Radio pouch for GMRS/FRS size radios
  • Head set with push to talk for GMRS/FRS radio
  • Wristwatch with covered dial/face.  Nothing that reflects.  (See SOP)
  • Knee pads
  • Ruggedized Cell Phone with spare battery
  • Cell Phone charger for 12 volt and 110 volt
  • Topo maps of your area of operation (AO)


  • Sleeping pad (Thinsulate)
  • Good quality large size Space Blanket or Rain Fly, either camo in color or with camouflage net

Water / Food

  • Water bottle with filter
  • Several coffee filters to strain sediment from water
  • Flint & Steel with Magnesium Bar (practice building fires in the rain)
  • Zip Lock Bag of Dryer Lint (fire starter)
  • Dehydrated food for at least seven days, entrees only
  • Heavy duty Fork and Spoon
  • A way to cook your food, i.e. MSR Multifuel stove or MRE cook pouch.  You probably will not always have time for a cooking/warming fires and there will be many times that you do not want to expose yourself with that type of a signature.
  • P 38 can opener


  • 1 set of Camo appropriate for your location
  • 1 pair of combat style boots that are well broken in to your feet
  • Camo rain gear or winter gear as needed
  • Hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Tactical belt for pants
  • Dry socks (No socks with seams over the toes!  i.e. Smart Wool brand)
  • Camo rain poncho
  • Store everything that has to stay dry in heavy duty Zip Lock bags


  • If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses you must have a spare pair/set
  • Toilet paper and know a natural alternative in your AO.  Save the T paper for when you have to be quick
  • Tooth brush
  • 10—six inch black zip ties (to repair equipment in the field)
  • 10—heavy duty 12” black sip ties to secure bad guys
  • One roll black electric tape (UL listed)
  • Partial roll of camouflage Gorilla Tape
  • 100’ of 550 cord
  • Potassium Iodate tablets
  • Several one gallon size Zip Lock Bags (spares)
  • Two leaf/yard size trash bags
  • Two small roles of picture hanging wire for snares etc.
  • Hooks, flies, lures, line, sinkers, swivels, weighted treble snagging hook with steel leader, all sized for your A.O.
  • One small plastic container of cayenne pepper
  • Mosquito repellent
  • * Coagula XL, 2 ounces
  • * Dysentery Stop, 2 ounces

SOP  (Standard operating procedure)         

No glow in the dark, shinny, reflective gear of any kind, including but not limited to:         

  • Stainless side arms or Leatherman tools (unless painted)
  • No glow in the dark sights (tritium type).  Black them out for night ops
  • Shiny pistol grips
  • Ink pens
  • Watches and watch bands
  • Rings and other jewelry
  • Flashlights
  • Eye glass frames

There will be nothing in your Bug-Out Bag that rattles or makes noise.
No perfumed products of any kind


After reading this list, I am sure that each of you has many different questions and I will try to answer some of them here.

One question that I am asked a lot is “How do I carry all of this stuff with me?” Some people prefer to have some type of day pack or back pack. Personally, I am not a great fan of packs because they throw your center of gravity to the back making it more difficult to navigate difficult terrain. Personally, I like a tactical vest better than anything else does. The tactical vest, in my not so humble opinion, is far superior to day packs and is much more comfortable to carry.  A tactical vest is much less fatiguing to wear all day than carrying a pack.  You do not have to take the tactical vest off to access the most critical items because they are carried in your front pockets.  You can conceal your tactical vest in a duffel bag while at work or in your vehicle.

Good tactical vests for a standard bug out bag (BOB) can be bought at This company makes very good equipment and I have personally used a lot of their gear. If the only weapon that you plan to carry is a handgun (or no gun at all, which is foolish at best and catastrophic at worst) then I suggest that you get the Blackhawk Mega Tactical Vest (Medic/Utility), along with a Patrol Belt & Pad. This vest has many pouches to carry your gear/equipment. I also suggest that you get the S.T.R.I.K.E. LRRP Butt Pack GP, which easily attaches to the back of the vest. This allows you to carry extra supplies in the Butt Pack.  A 100 oz. hydration bladder will also work with this vest, so get one. I also suggest that you get the Serpa Drop Leg Holster (Platform) for your handgun on your strong hand side and an additional drop a leg STRIKE platform for your weak hand.  These attach to the Patrol Belt Pad (which attaches to the vest).  The weak hand platform can be used to carry your first aid kit or other things in a separate pouch or pouches.  BLACKHAWK carries a wide variety of STRIKE pouches.  If you do decide to use a day pack, get the best one that you can possibly afford.  Tactical Tailor, Blackhawk and 5:11 Tactical all make great packs.

[JWR Adds: As I've previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, I personally find the weight of drop-leg holsters uncomfortable for walking long distances. I prefer traditional belt holsters. Not only is the weight distribution more natural--on your waist rather than on your thigh--but they are also quicker to access. But your mileage may vary. If you have the chance, try out this style gear before you buy it.]

Personally, if it is not in the winter, I do not take a tent or sleeping bag if I am going to be gone on a (dismounted) patrol/mission for less than 10 days and, depending on the climate/terrain etc., sometimes longer.  I take a Thinsulate closed cell foam sleeping pad just to stay off of the cold ground, a space blanket and maybe an extremely light water proof shelter.

Here is the scenario. All of a sudden without warning, there is a meltdown in the nation, whether it is social/economic, a terrorist strike, natural disaster or some combination of these. You grab your BUG-OUT-BAG and head for the door, be it from your place of work or your home. The next question is “Where am I going and can I get there from here?” If you plan to head home, you have to consider that someone else might be occupying your home by the time that you get there.  What will you do then?  Have you ever considered this?  Do you have a plan in place for this event?  No?  Then make one, make several.  It is critical to your survival and the survival of your family and loved ones that you have a plan for this. Just taking off with your BOB, family in tow, with no destination in mind is going to be a world-class train wreck for you and your family. So get a plan and then make several alternate plans and stick with it.  Always have several backup plans.

Be absolutely certain that you have a communication (commo) plan set up with all of your family members.  If things get bad during a weekday, you will be at work, your wife at home or at work, your kids in school….in other words almost everyone in your family will be away from home with no way to communicate with each other.  Do you think that is impossible?  The government always shuts down local cell phone service in a crisis to keep the bad guys from communication and remotely detonate IEDs. Just wait until the cell phones go down, the electricity goes out, the land line phones go out…then what are you going to do to communicate with your family?  Have a Rally Point (RP) that you know that you can all get to and have at least two alternate RPs in case the first one is compromised (overrun).   Everyone in your family has to be able to get there from all the places that each of them spends most of their time away from home.  Be able to pick up your kids from school on your way to the Rally Point and have an alternate plan for that. If your kids are old enough to be able to make it to the RPs on their own in case you can’t get there they need to be trained in how to do that, where to go, what to do, who to trust and who not to trust.  Make it known to the school that your kids can and may be picked up by your trusted friend or relative.  Then this trusted friend must be willing and able to transport your kids to your RP.

A few words about your handgun:  Buy only a good quality semi automatic handgun like a Colt or a Glock.  Then get some quality tactical training with your handgun!  I cannot stress this enough! After you get the training, practice and practice and practice some more. If you cannot hit a 3” X 5” note card four out of five times at between  7’ and 21’ than you need to practice some more. In a survival situation where the nation is completely falling apart, if you do not have tactical training with your handgun then somebody is going to take it away from you and use it on you. I have heard this many times “nobody’s taken’ my gun away from me!” but here is a news flash for you. If you do not have proper tactical training and if you do not keep current with your proper training then you will one day be in for a very rude awakening! When the chips are down and someone is trying like mad to kill you or one of your family members, believe me, when you return fire it is not the same as shooting at paper targets on the range with your friends!  And one more thing…get a concealed carry permit and carry your weapon with you….always!   If you are three seconds away from your weapon, then you are unarmed!!!

You very well might not make it out of Dodge if you leave too late, and you might very well bug out but not make it all the way to your RP or your retreat location with your vehicle.  In that scenario you will be stuck trying to survive with what you have on your back until you get to your RP or to your retreat.  If you do not have a retreat location that is already stocked, then you will have to spend the rest of your days trying to make it with what you have on your back, what you can hunt, catch or gather and what you can take from the enemy.  Not a very pretty picture is it?  So get a retreat and get it stocked…yesterday!

Remember this:  Many so-called experts only recommend that you have 72 hours worth the food in your BOB.  If that is the only thing that you have in your BOB, then you are only 72 hours away from being just another refugee.  You must have the necessary equipment (and knowledge) in your BOB to obtain more food, build a shelter, and provide heat and first aid treatments! 

Another thing that I highly recommend you get is some wilderness and urban survival training and some Escape and Evasion (E&E) training. Let’s face it; most of you do not know anything about E&E when the bad guys are hot on your heels and very little to nothing about surviving in the wilderness or in an urban setting with nothing but your BOB. None of this great stuff in your BOB will do you any good if you do not know how to use it. Get the training. You can survive with the gear/equipment on this list but you need some training in how to use it.   

Also, get some training in map/compass orientation and navigating. The civilian portion of the GPS system will likely be shut down in the event of a terrorist attack!  Or…..what are you going to do if your GPS batteries run out or just gets broken and quits?  If you cannot read a map and use a compass, and know how to orient yourself and navigate to your destination, you are going to be in very deep trouble!

When you have made up your Bug-Out Bag use it before you need it.  Get the kinks worked out of before you have to put it to use in a real world situation!  Take nothing but your BOB and head into the bush for a few days.  You will be surprised at what you learn works and what does not work.

This list may seem very long but most of the stuff is small and light and you will be surprised at what little room it takes up in your vest or pack.

Keep your Bug-Out Bag with you at all times!  It will do you no good if you leave it at home and you find yourself miles (or even several blocks) from home when you need it and there is no way to get back home.  If you chose to use a tactical vest for your Bug-Out-Bag then keep it in a duffel bag or larger back pack and keep that with you all of the time.  It will be far less noticeable.  When things fall apart, do not worry about what you will look like wearing a tactical vest.  Wearing a tactical vest with a drop leg platform/holster, you look like a professional and that you are serious. I promise you that the bad guys will be far less apt to mess with you.  They will pick a different target, probably the person wearing a day pack with his weapon his hidden inside. 

[JWR Adds: I disagree with this approach. Statistically, it is the people who stand out that tend to get targeted in a mob, riot, or "stream of refugees" situation. Just watch some archived news videos of riots, and ask yourself: Why were those people targeted for a beating? (Typically, it is boisterous people in the front ranks, but sometimes it is just the bright color of shirt.) In a refugee situation, who gets targeted for police searches and interrogation? So I advise the "Gray Man" approach in an urban escape situation. Blend in. DO NOT stick out. Unless you are part of a large, organized unit if you prominently display particularly desirable gear then you will be making yourself a target of envy or "we/they" discrimination. Avoid crowds when possible. (But of course as an urban refugee, that might be impossible.) Don't leave your vehicle unless you have to. Wear gear that can be concealed by a loose-fitting rain coat, if need be. Do your best to get out of the city far in advance of the pack. But if you are forced by circumstances to be in a crowd, then do your best to blend in.]

*Note:  (I have listed two items that you might not be not aware of. One is Coagula XL and the other is Dysentery Stop. Here’s a quick blurb on each product that, I pray that I will never have to go into a survival situation without these two products!

Coagula XL is a blood coagulant accelerator made from all natural products, it is non-toxic, chemical free and with no negative side effects.  It works on topical applications for open wounds, and it works equally well given orally for internal bleeding.  It also helps keep the wound from becoming infected.  I have seen this product save people lives when an onsite prepped operating theater would have failed. This will save your life when nothing else will. 

Dysentery Stop does exactly what it says. It is also an all natural product, non toxic and chemical free. Diarrhea/dysentery in a survival situation spells nothing but disaster. Dysentery causes you to become rapidly dehydrated so you will drink more water, which may be the cause of your dysentery to begin with.  I know of a tactical mission that had to be aborted when the entire team came down with dysentery and they had nothing to stop it with.  In a survival situation, you may be forced to drink water that is not too good, eat food that may be slightly tainted, and you will be exposed to every bacteria, virus and germ you could ever imagine. This stuff is a must have.)

When I am on a mission, everyone on my team carries two ounce bottles of both of these products in their personal first aid kit and our Combat Medic carries even more.
Both of these products can be purchased from BHP in Alaska by calling (907) 567-7486.  FYI:   The company does not take credit or debit cards.  You might have to leave a message but they will get back to you.

Please refrain from trying to get me to join Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or any of the other social network sites. I get more than 175 e-mails per day, and that is bad enough, but getting an extra 20 proclaiming that "John Smith is following you on Twitter" and "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" is distracting. I consider these networks a security risk, so I simply don't respond. Knowing that even "deleted " Facebook posts, profiles, and photos are stored indefinitely, and most recently learning that the IRS is actively mining Facebook posts to find new "suspects" also has me concerned. Count me out! - J.W.R.

Mr. Rawles:
In every decent sized town I've lived in there has been at least one "discount" grocery store. The stores that sell almost-expired food, dented cans or torn bags, local farmer over-production, that sort of thing. (And FWIW, only one can in a flat has to be dented for "the powers that be" to deem the entire batch unfit.)

My most recent good buy has been repeated three years in a row here. It's May, and the local store is selling one-pound bags of black-eyed peas at the discount price of 3 for $1. New Year's Day was 5.7 months ago and the bags are marked 2012. It's a seasonal product, like Thanksgiving cranberries or Christmas and Easter candy. The peas will be good for 4-10 years, at least, if treated properly. Given that every other grocery store in town still has black-eyes at anywhere from $1.29 to $2.29 a pound, three pounds for a buck is ridiculously cheap. The best price I usually see on any form of dried beans in pound bags is about a dollar. The best price I've EVER seen at a normal store is 50 cents a pound for pintos at Sam's, but that's gone up recently, and it's a 25-50 pound bag.

Point being, smart shoppers should know what average prices are, know what the "buy" price is, and (best yet) know when to buy everything the store has, or all they can afford. I now have about 60 more pounds of viable food for a $20 expenditure. The buckets are free at another store's cake-frosting department, and the mylar bags are a necessary, arguably negligible expense.

For those who don't know: Red beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, field peas, pintos, etc. can all be put in a crock-pot or solar cooker with good results. One pound of dried beans and four cups of water (more or less, with no pre-soak usually necessary) and you have food. Add an onion, half a pound of smoked sausage and Tony Chachere's to taste, and you've got a Southern classic, best served over fresh cornbread with sweet tea on the side. Just don't add the sausage or spice mix until the beans are cooked, or the beans will get tough.

And up next (starting in about two weeks) we've got blueberry season, organically grown pick-your-own for $9 a gallon. - J.D.C. in Mississippi

Mr. Rawles,
Greetings from the occupied territory of Coloradostan. 

I am a long time reader and first time responder to the blog. I am an agricultural economist and read Woody's perspective with interest, as I am sure many did. I just examined USDA's crop progress report from this afternoon. Much progress was made in the 18 primary corn producing states. We are now 71 percent planted versus the previous five year average(which is skewed by last years data) of 79 percent. Woody's home state of Ohio, about which he's was particularly alarmed is now 74 percent planted vs. 58 percent for the five year average. To be clear his quote of 12 percent planted on 12 May 2013 is in error as the latest report shows 28 percent planted last Sunday and 71 percent last evening. We are now further along in corn planting than we were in both 2009 and 2011. 

His disdain for USDA is a little troubling as they do a far better job than the ag department of any other. Are they perfect? Certainly not, but as one of my mentor always said, "but they are official!".  Common wisdom may hold for common corn varieties but that isn't what is being planted in the US. Mote than half of this year's planted acreage will be stacked gene varieties and nearly 90 percent will be some form of biotech variety. Stacked gene varieties accounted for only 1 percent in 2001. Even if we lost the 8 percent we are behind vs the five year average it would still be the fifth largest corn planted acreage in US history. 

Corn price haven't responded or rallied because the acreage number is record large and even with conservative yield estimates corn ending stocks for the 2013/14 crop are expected to more than double to the largest corn surplus since the late 1980s. The renewable fuel standard will keep corn prices from approaching prices seen for the 1987/88 crop but they are still expected to drop by 25 to 35 percent. Just wanted folks to know before they loaded the boat so to speak. I'd buy some if I didn't have any but wouldn't lay in my entire needs of a lifetime. 

Most respectfully, - D.W. in Colorado

America's lands sharks: Wolves kill 31 sheep on south-central Idaho ranch.

   o o o

Folks in north Idaho or Eastern Washington with an interest in learning how to do metal casting or looking for casting supplies should visit Lost and Foundry, in Spokane, Washington. Foundry molds ("flasks") and petrobond casting sand are heavy to ship, so look for sources like Lost and Foundry, where you can pick then up yourself. (A similar company is Budget Casting Supply, in Sonora, California.)

   o o o

Some nice vintage fallout shelter models found in Montana. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

   o o o

I noticed that this particular video: Patriots - Surviving the Coming Collapse - Trike Flying, with more than 21,000 views, is still the "most viewed" trike flying video by former U.S. Navy pilot TTabs. It gives a great tour of the locales in my first novel. That video was shot back when he was running just two cameras. He now shoots four views simultaneously, and cuts between them. His visually stunning One October Evening video has had more than 13,000 views. It shows the terrain, fauna, and flora in the northern Palouse, near Spokane, Washington. Be sure to watch his videos in full screen mode, at HD quality. They are spectacular.

   o o o

Reader W.A. wrote to mention a Wyoming-headquartered company called LUCID that offers a couple of red dot sight alternatives which have great quality and features for a great price and use an AA battery. The the 'founder/creator' is a former optics manager for Brunton. Note that some of their products are made in the U.S., but some are made in China.

I recently posted a link to a 1916-vintage book on steel cutting and welding that is available free, via Kindle. Then reader Richard C. followed up to mention that it is also available in a variety of other formats.

   o o o

Michael W. sent: Bomb Shelter Boom Sees Underground Pools, Basketball Courts

   o o o

Noah, the Super Prepper. (Thanks to David W. for the link.)

   o o o

Courtesy of Mark: The Mystery of the Missing Crime Data--Corporate media spins "news" of declining criminal use of firearms to hide the truth.

   o o o

F.G. sent: Gun control: Cartridge ID law to take effect.

"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good... not a sufficient warrant." - John Stuart Mill

Monday, May 20, 2013

Today is the birthday of Carlos Hathcock (Born 1942, died February 23, 1999.) He was a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant sniper with a service record of 93 confirmed kills.

This is also the birthday of my lifelong friend, Brad C. I miss seeing you, pal.

Some time ago, I did a review on SurvivalBlog about the Ruger 10/22 Takedown (TD) .22 LR rifle. I fell in love with my sample. I liked the idea of a .22 LR rifle, that could easily be taken apart, and put back together in a few seconds. I also liked the case that Ruger ships the rifle in - very nice, and you can carry the 10/22 Takedown rifle, with a brick or two of .22 LR ammo, half a dozen magazines, a scope and some clothes for the weekend. Not a bad combination, and whenever I travel more than 25-miles from home, I toss the 10/22 Takedown in my rig - just in case something happens and I have to hoof it home in an emergency.
However, I don't always need the heavy-duty case that the 10/22 Takedown comes in. And, I looked around, but there really wasn't anything available, other than a full-sized long gun case - which defeats the purpose of having a rifle that you can take apart, making it into a smaller package. SurvivalBlog reader Wayne W. e-mailed me and told me about the Skinner Sights TD Case that Andy Larsson, the owner of Skinner Sights, is producing for the 10/22 Takedown. And the Skinner gun case is much thinner, trimmer and doesn't take-up much room at all, yet it still protects the 10/22 Takedown rifle. Wayne W. told me that I'd better not get my sample, before he got the one he ordered - not to worry, Wayne W. got his order before I got mine.
The Skinner Sights 10/22 TD case is flat and compact. However, when I got my sample, I saw that it opened from both ends, with a secure clasp. I was more than a bit concerned that, when I took the 10/22 down into two-pieces, that they would rub against one another, causing scratches on my sample. Not to fear, Andy Larsson, very cleverly designed a method wherein, when you place the barrel assembly in one end of the bag, and the receiver in the other end of the bag, they do not touch - they are in separate compartments - although it appeared to me, that they were one in the same compartments. Neat idea, Andy - job well-done!
I used to own a standard cab pickup truck and found if I filled-up an overnight bag, and tried to stuff it behind the seat in my pick-up, it wouldn't fit - too fat. Such is the case with the factory bag that the 10/22 comes in - you can't fit it behind the seat of your pick-up truck - too fat! With the Skinner Sights 10/22 TD Case, you can easily store your 10/22 Take Down rifle behind the front seat of your pick-up truck - out of sight, so no one sees it. You can also toss a brick or two of .22 LR ammo - assuming you can find any these days, because of this ammo drought - in your glove box, or under the front seat of your pick-up, along with some extra 25-magazines - again, assuming you can find any - Ruger 10/22 25-round magazines are hard to come by these days.
Also, in a previous article, I reported on the Skinner Sights front and rear sight combination that Andy Larsson sells, as a replacement to the factory provided sights on a 10/22. While there is nothing "wrong" with the sights that come on a 10/22, there is always room for improvement, and with my aged eyes, I want every advantage I can get, and by replacing the factory sights on my 10/22 Takedown rifle, with the sights that Skinner Sights has, I greatly improved my hit ratio with the 10/22.
What Skinner Sights came up with is a shortened version of their standard rear hooded sight, that works nicely on the 10/22 Takedown rifle - it doesn't hang over the joint where the barrel and receiver join together - like the original Skinner Sight would do. I want to mention, too, that - all Skinner Sights are hand-made, you are not getting a cheap, mass-produced sight set-up. Andy Larsson takes great pride in designing and manufacturing his sights here in the USA.
Skinner Sights came out with the barrel mount sight that clears the take down mechanism, and does not contact the stock during assembly. The hooded rear sights is slick and provides an amazing sight picture - one that is much easier for me to see. And, others how shot my 10/22 Takedown rifle agreed with my findings. Additionally, the 10/22 Barrel Mount rear sight, ships with a .125-inch aperture installed - 5 different aperture sizes are available - and given the uniformity of common ammunition and barrel dimension, this aperture works great. A front comes bundled in the package, too.
By having both the front and rear sights mounted on the barrel, instead of one on the barrel and one on the receiver, insures repeatability when disassembling and re-assembling the 10/22 Takedown rifle. While I never had any problems with my factory sights staying zeroed on the 10/22 Takedown, things might loosen-up, if you took the rifle apart and put it back together hundreds of times, and you might have to make some sight adjustments. With the Skinner Sights Ruger 10/22 TD Sights, you have no worries about your zero changing, no matter how many times you might take your 10/22 Takedown apart and put it back together - the zero isn't going to change on you.
The Skinner Sights 10/22 sights are $62 in blue, $63 in brass and $65 in stainless steel. Not bad at all, considering these sights are hand-made and not mass-produced. The Skinner Sights 10/22 TD case is only $49 and comes in either black or dark green - your choice of colors. I want to thank SurvivalBlog reader, Wayne W. for alerting me to these products. As if often the case, I get alerted to a lot of new products by SurvivalBlog readers. You are a very intelligent bunch of folks. And, I appreciate all the help you give me in my quest for new products, or products I might have overlooked or not been aware of. I can't be all over the Internet and through factory catalogs each day, trying to find products to write about - not enough hours in the day.
So, if you're looking for a slimmer carrying case for your Ruger 10/22 Takedown rifle, and you want some better sights to go on that gun, check out the Skinner Sights web site for more information. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

As a retired corn farmer, I find it quite interesting that the Fed's USDA is still keeping to it's hard-and-fast immutable "projections" of 97.3 million acres of corn being planted this year. Just like building a house, call the Fed's number the "planned" or projected blueprint idea.

But now let's look at the "as built" story. Here, where the "rubber meets the road," or I should say "where the planter tucks in the actual corn seed,' the "actual" or real situation is quite another story due to very late corn plantings, if at all. The surprise is that the market has not yet reacted much.

Last Monday USDA reported that only 12% of the nation's corn crop was in as of Sunday night (12 May 2013.) This should have shocked the markets--but didn't. As of today, US corn planting is up to 28%, but a far cry from the "fast planting" of last year which stood at 85% [on the same date] one year ago.

Western states show significant delayed corn planting because of wet soils.

With long corn crop maturation days here in Ohio's Corn Belt, common wisdom is that if you don't have your seed in by May 10th, you may as well forget it (or switch to planting soybean.) Here we are almost the middle of May and very little corn is planted and the media and markets seem to say: "Ho-hum...nothing to see here, move along folks." This is not good; we are not being told or shown the truth that a nation can rely and act upon.

Maybe this all just doesn't matter; maybe all the corn will eventually get in, maybe we'll have excellent weather and no drought or natural disasters, maybe insects and diseases won't affect the corn, maybe the price at harvest will be just ducky. "Maybe" is the operative word here and that word ain't even good a notion as "close enough" like when you play horseshoes or toss hand grenades.

My thanks to Marlin Clark, commodity trader at "Market Monitor" on pages A6-A7 in Ohio's "Farm and Dairy" newspaper, issue of 16 May 2013, for is alert on this same subject..

Thoughtfully submitted, - Woody in Ohio

JWR Replies: Thanks for that early news tip. SurvivalBlog readers should consider themselves forewarned. This would be a good juncture to buy few more super pails of whole corn and cornmeal. Be sure to buy them before prices jump!

Hi Jim, 
The reader who contributed the food saver  storage bag post gave a lot of great ideas.  I would like to add my experience with Food Saver and how I solved some serious problems with the vacuum system itself.  Nine years ago I started a serious food storage program. Life is full of trials and errors, and lots of lessons learned from other's trials and errors.  I made the move into dehydrating foods,  primarily beef and vegetables for long term storage.

I bought Cabela's large dehydrator after researching everything out there that I could afford.  It has performed marvelously after I made a couple modifications to it and fixed the problems that others complained about.  I also bought the Game Saver Food Saver,  which of it self is an okay machine.  The glaring flaw is the food saver bag itself. First they are way too thin at around 2 mills and very expensive,  plus they are not mylar, which is needed to prevent oxygen penetration.  Any thing that I stored in them that had sharp points vis-a-vis jerky strips, dehydrated peppers etc. would perforate the bag and lose the seal.  I also had many other items lose the seal-----frozen meat that touched some sharp point in the freezer like another bag's pointed corner would make a pin hole and fill up with air.
Vacuum sealing is a must for preppers,  So this had to be remedied. The answer came from Sorbent Systems in Los Angeles. They sell a large selection  of heavy duty 6 mil mylar bags and a very cheap vacuum machine that uses a snorkel to suck out the air.  You cannot use this vacuum on wet foods without putting a piece of paper towel along the inside of the edge to be sealed to absorb any liquid. They periodically have specials.  They will once in a while discount overrun items that were special ordered by a large customer.  6 years ago a bought a bunch of military green gun-sized bags that must have been run for the government.  They actually called to confirm my order and asked what I was going to do with the green bags.  My pat answer for questions like this is: "You never know."  
Another source for the commercial grade bags and oxygen absorbers is USA Emergency Supply. They have great prices and a flat $4.99 shipping fee no matter how big the order is.  I have bought over 3,000 bags from these two companies.  I don't use the fill up the bucket method.  I store everything in the vacuumed bags with oxygen absorbers and then put the bags in the buckets.  I store multiple bags per bucket. So you don't get as much weight per bucket but as you use your food you are opening smaller packs and can also use them to trade or charitably help others without having to pass on a whole bucket.  I hope this helps others skip the mistakes I learned the hard way.  Keep the info flowing.   Regards, - Jim W.

Chris M.'s Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup

I think that my Mom originally got this recipe from a Pat Robertson/CBN publication. I ate a lot of it without upsetting my blood sugar.

And there was enough methane to run a small motorbike.

She hit the nail on the head when she said that no matter what you do with these ingredients or similar ones, you won't go wrong.


Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced onion
4 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cup packed chopped kale
1 14 oz can of Italian –style diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz. can of sliced carrots, drained

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and
cook 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add broth, kale and
tomatoes and cover and cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Add
beans and carrots and heat thoroughly.

Serve hot. Top with crunchy croutons and grated Pecorino Romano Cheese.

Chef's Notes:

These are my Mom's comments on her variations:

I have copied the recipe just as it appeared in the newspaper. Of course I did it my way. I used a large can of tomatoes (28oz. or so) and I don’t think they were the Italian style. I used either peeled or
chunks or whatever was on the shelf. I used chicken broth and probably 2 cups instead of four because I used the large can of tomatoes. Also I used fresh carrots and sautéed them with the onion. You would need to cook a little longer. Whatever you do I don’t think you could go wrong.

In doing the kale don’t forget to cut off the large stems of the kale.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Kale Recipes

15 Kale Recipes

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

There are several captivating new property listings at our spin-off site There is even an off-grid house in Chile's Atacama desert. You will note that many of the former listings have been removed in the past month because of recent sales. SurvivalRealty has now had four years of proven success in bringing many retreat buyers and sellers together. The ads cost just $30 per month, and there are no sales commissions charged!

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Ready Made Resources has announced that anyone who buys an AN/PVS-14 night vision scope from them will not only receive the free weapons mount and shuttered eye relief, ($190 value) but we will also include a free box of infrared chemical light sticks.  (A $30 value.)

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F.G. suggested a piece over at the Weapons Man blog: A Formation of Liberators. OBTW, I began drafting the fourth sequel to my novel Patriots and titled it Liberators, about a year ago. I first announced the book's title in my blog almost a year ago. I'm suspect that the naming of the new 3D printed pistol was purely coincidental. But now that the 21st Century Liberator pistol has been designed and proven, I can't resist depicting the tactical employment of one or more of them in the storyline of the novel (a la 20th Century Liberator pistols, just 'cause... Vive la Maquisards!

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Freeze Dry Guy has announced a special sale on Mountain House Freeze Dried Eggs with a 25 to 30 year shelf life. This is a densely-packed product that normally retails for $359 a case. The Egg Mix with Butter Flavor--228 1⁄2 Cup Servings--is priced at $249, with free shipping to CONUS. This sale ends May 31st, so order soon. Phone: (866) 404-3663.

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Consider the ramifications: 54 Colorado County Sheriffs Sue Over State’s New Gun Control Measures and the New York State Sheriffs Association protests many SAFE Act provisions. And at least one sheriff has pledged to not enforce it. (Then came the predictable whining statist response: "You can't pick and choose what laws you will enforce..." I'm sure that the German Polizeipräsidenten were told the same thing, back around 1938.)

"I've previously pointed out that there is no longer 'law' as such, in the United States any more. Everything about the 'nation', which is no longer, properly speaking, even a nation anymore, is fraudulent, from its 'money' to its system of 'justice'. Even something as simple and basic as openly fighting a 'war' is now beyond its bloated, cancerous make-believe structure.

I wouldn't call the present system a dictatorship myself. Dictatorships are more open and direct. It is better described as a simulatorship, which is to say, rule by pretense. It is reminiscent of the latter days of the Soviet empire, when the Russian people pretended to work and the Soviet government pretended to pay them. In the latter days of the US empire, the federal government pretends its actions are within the limits set by the U.S. Constitution and the American people pretend to believe them.

If a corporate entity is too big to fail or too big to jail, then logic dictates it must be cut down to a size that permits both. Remember, corporations are not capitalism, they are creations of government and if they can't reasonably be imprisoned, they can certainly be 'executed.' And if real American people can be 'legally' executed at the order of the president, then can there really be any doubt that artificial American people are also liable to termination on command as well?" - Vox Day

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19th is the birthday of Frank Luke Jr. (born, 1897, died September 29, 1918). He was an Army Air Service fighter pilot of World War I, who was second only to Captain Eddie Rickenbacker in aerial victory scores. (18 versus Rickenbacker's 26.) Frank Luke was the first aviator to receive the Medal of Honor. Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, is named after him. (Luke AFB is one of the locales in my novel "Survivors".) My grandfather, Ernest E. Rawles (also born in 1897) was a friend and mountain climbing partner of Frank Luke in Arizona, before he left for France.

An observation: The generation that fought the Second World War is now often called The Greatest Generation. These were mostly men who were born between 1910 and 1924. But I believe that an even a greater generation was of those men who were born between 1880 and 1905. They were born in the days of the horse and buggy and the telegraph. But many of them lived long enough to die in the era of jet aircraft, television, sturmgewehr, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, early computers, and moon landings. Some of these men fought in both World Wars--often serving as junior officers in WWI and then as senior officers in WWII. In my estimation it is the capacity to adapt to rapid change that in part defines truly great men. This generation included both visionaries and men of action like Arthur Pink, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, Joseph Schumpeter, Billy Mitchell (an early airpower advocate), Jimmy Doolittle, George Patton, William J. Donovan, Raymond Spruance, Charles Lockwood, Hyman G. Rickover (America's longest-serving military man,) Harry Day, Jimmy Buckley, and Ernest Hemingway. Sadly, a few of them like Frank Luke died too young too reach their full potential.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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 Many Uses of Vacuum-Sealed Bags

Late spring and early summer are the times to buy the Seal A Meal or Foodsaver machines. They are both made by the same parent company and can be found at any major grocery or department store in the kitchenware section-the Seal A Meal is the less expensive version that can be found for under $30 on sale, and the bags to go with it will cost you about the same again. You can make this a game or a family activity like an assembly line, just have all your items stacked in little piles, and start sealing--it's actually fun to use it-I feel like a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter. See below for the myriad uses I have made of my unit. These also make wonderful gifts to your church for emergencies if they are given food items that may go stale.

1-Batteries-as we all know, moisture and air are the enemies of batteries, buy in bulk when they are on sale and seal them up airtight and watertight and keep them in your fridge.

2-Ammo--seal up your ammo/bullets in their boxes in individual sealing bags labeled with the date of purchase, that way if you have to ford any bodies of water (rivers, swamps, canals etc) or are caught in deluges, your extra ammo will stay nice and dry and untarnished.

3-Precious Metals--your silver coins and bars and gold coins and bars can be portioned out and individually sealed in similarly valued amounts. I haven't tried burying them to see how long it would take the heavy plastic to degrade but it should be good for a few months at least, unless rodents get into it or its in very wet or alkaline earth--you could try burying them inside a jar or can. One good side effect is that vacuum sealed items do not clink and clank as they are packed solidly together so they make no noise when carried.

Medicines-I sealed up individual pouches containing baby aspirin, Pepto Bismol chewable tablets, chloraseptic cough lozenges (the heavy duty ones that really numb your throat), over the counter allergy pills like generic claritin, sinus pain and pressure pills, Lanacane or Neosporin cream for insect bites and scrapes, insect repellant wipes, tooth and gum numbing gel for toothaches, moisturizing eyewash to help with dust, soot and gunpowder grit, small jars of Vicks and Noxema and aloe sunburn gel, and advil or tylenol. I also throw in a small bottle of Thompson Labs Fish Mox Forte which is the same as human grade 500 mg amoxicillin (antibiotics) that you can buy online without a prescription (it's a shame we cannot locate a family preparedness-friendly doctor who would be willing to give out prescriptions for tranquilizers or anti-anxiety meds for those individuals who will undoubtedly freak out big time after a week of no gas and no grocery deliveries). If you put together several of these as your finances allow, they make great trading items. You can also add condoms, or bag them up separately, as after the existing supply of condoms and birth control pills goes away, expect a flood of pregnancies as nature tries to naturally replenish the ranks. You can also bag up your medicinal marijuana separately if you anticipate needing it later.

Clothing Repair Kits--needles, thread in 4 basic colors, small scissors from the dollar store, buttons in half inch and three-quarter inch sizes (these are standard waistband and shirt front sizes, if the button holes are too big you can sew the holes partially shut so the buttons will not come unbuttoned.

Surgical Kit-a basic surgical kit containing over the counter items such as tweezers, silk suture thread and suture needles, a couple pairs nitrile gloves, gauze and medical tape, a couple surgical masks if you can obtain them, wound clotting powder or gauze saturated with same (expensive but may save a life), small bottle of silver solution or betadine wound area disinfectant, a small X-Acto knife, and a basic pair of dental pliers for extractions. Salt could also be included for rinsing mouths after extractions.

Children's books and small toys--bag up a couple of those old beanie babies and some Lego or Playmobile toys and a few standard children's books, they can be a great comfort and distraction to anxious small ones.

Fire Strikes and Sharpening Stones (and small pocketknives)--these are messy to carry loose in your bag but sealing them up minimizes the marks and grit, worth their weight in gold if unable to obtain later. I also buy the multi packs of bic lighters when they are on sale and keep a few in every location along with several cheap flashlights that I test semi-annually and replace batteries if needed.  

Coffee, Tea bags, Creamer and Sugar packets--I bag up sets that include a small bag of good brand ground coffee, a couple dozen individual sugar packets and some individual creamer packets, and do the same with tea bags. Don't combine coffee and tea as one will absorb the smell of the other. You can buy the individual packets in bulk from any restaurant supply store or from

Newborn Gift Sets--use a larger size seal a meal bag that you can make yourself from the endless roll you can buy, you can cut it to any size, seal one end, fill it, and seal the other end. About half a dozen good thick cloth diapers, a few diaper pins, a baby bottle with nipple, a few packets of powdered infant formula and a flannelette baby gown will be a welcome gift for all those unprepared mothers with babies.

Sugar, Salt, Seasoning Packets--I buy the cheap seasonings when on sale for .99 cents, I get Lite Salt, Coarse Ground Pepper, Dried Onion Flakes, Cinnamon, and I buy the individual packets of salt and sugar online and throw in a big handful of those. You can add vanilla extract and garlic powder as well if you enjoy those flavors. I also include the strips of 6 quick rising yeast packets for "just in case". You can also throw in a couple packets of jerky seasonings or rubs if you make your own jerky. I also like to add a packet or two of uncle dan's dill dip as a seasoning for fish.

Important ID Papers--open your passport so the page with your photo is visible, then right below is, put your drivers license face out so it's visible, the on the reverse side, put your birth certificate face out so the details can be seen, that way you can show it without having to remove the documents.

Jerked Meats-you can seal up your own venison or salmon jerky, it will last for quite a while.

Local Honey--Honey has been known to last indefinitely if well preserved, I get local organic honey at the farmers market in glass jars, and then wrap the jars in bubble wrap and seal them up. Glass will break if dropped or clinked against something so make sure to bubble wrap the jar well.

Dried Fruits and Nuts-I especially like pecans and cashews so I buy cans of those and portion them out in seal a meal bags--they have the good fats in them. I also like dried cherries and strawberries and papaya, a spear or two of dried papaya every week will make your poop the consistency of mush and you will never be constipated-stands to reason, papaya is a natural tenderizer that breaks down food fibers. You can get a large bag for under $2 in the bulk foods section of any major grocery store

Photo Albums--if you are going to seal up any kind of paper goods they have to have stiff corners as the sealing process will crumple them all up otherwise.

Clothesline rope and clothespins--good to have for when you get to where you are going. Any good man can build the end supports for the clothesline and attach the rope for you--may take a pie or two to persuade him though.

Emergency Toilet Paper--as we all know, TP is a very fragile item if not stored properly and the most desirable in an emergency. The sealing process will flatten the roll but you can bend the internal paper tube back into shape once you open the bag. I bag up one roll per bag and throw a couple in your car trunk. Also to put it delicately, tampons and menstrual pads pack up easily and would be a great comfort to a female who may be embarrassed when her period begins. [JWR Adds: They also make good wound dressings.]

Clothing--a pair of clean socks, a pair of gloves and a clean pair of underpants can make a world of difference when yours are soaking wet and smelly. I keep a bagged set in the trunk-doesn't take up much room.

Laundry detergent--I pre-measure 2 heaping cups of powder type laundry detergent and seal it up. I do not like the liquid as the lids on the jugs are not tight and the liquid will leak out all over your other goods. One bag should be good for a small load of heavily soiled clothing when hand washing in a bucket or washtub if you don't have access to a motor driven washer. This way the powder is protected from absorbing water and spillage.

Soap and Washcloth--seal up a bar of your favorite soap and a washcloth or small hand towel. I make up several of these and keep one at work, one in the trunk, one in the go-bag at home--you never know where you will be when the smoke, dirt etc, will land on you. Throw in a handful of individual wet wipes if you like.

Make your own Breakfast and Lunch packets--I buy the boxes of high fiber oatmeal packets when on sale, and bag up 8 at a time--if watered down, that is enough for a family of 4 to have a nutritious breakfast for a couple days. I also make up emergency group lunch packets by combining 2 cups of instant rice with an envelope of the cheap brown gravy mix. You can do the same with stuffing mix or instant mashed potatoes, the goal is to get as many carbohydrates into you as possible if you are on the march and these items will not create much of a cooking smell to attract predators.

I will not mention liquor or cigarettes as those are wants, not needs, And if your adrenaline is pumping hard you won't need any further stimulation.

Another suggestion: Once the SHTF, if you are near other humans and will be cooking anything that has a smell, like baking bread or frying meat or making coffee, wait until full dark, and keep lights from being seen. That way another person may smell what you are cooking but will not be able to see the smoke or follow the scent exactly.

And one closing suggestion: Every time you have an empty mineral water bottle or juice bottle, rinse and fill with water and add a couple drops of food grade hydrogen peroxide, and cap tightly and put up on the top closet shelf or under the sink, there's always a little room, and the worst that will happen is in a year you may need to empty and refill them. As a test, try going for 8 hours without drinking any liquid and you will appreciate the necessity of having clean drinking water on hand.

I thought you might be interested in this new mapping tool. It is much faster than Google Earth.  Is there nowhere to hide?

After opening the link to, type in the address you want slowly, letter by letter, space by space, and watch where it takes you, incrementally.

It located our home in the whole world after just seven strokes of the keys. - Rip

Reader John C. recommended the wool Boreal Shirts made by Lester River Bushcraft. These are very sturdy, American-made, and in a color that blends in well in many environments.

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Stand by for some revelations about another one of Mikey Bloomberg's "crime-fighting" mayors: Federal investigation of Pittsburgh police reaches Ravenstahl's office. How many dirty mayors will it take before Mayors Against Illegal Guns loses any remaining shred of credibility? Meanwhile we read: Gov. Cuomo proposes anti-corruption bill that would ban convicted bribers from state business. Gee, if they can't stop their many corrupt mayors from taking bribes, then perhaps they can stop companies from offering bribes. Oh, and in other news, thrice-convicted former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is still whining, but that is hardly a news flash.

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Laura D. suggested: Making fuel donuts with shredded paper and water.

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Jeff H. sent: The mass exodus of Christians from the Muslim world

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New Yorker reveals Aaron Swartz-inspired system to protect sources

"And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." - Luke 4:14-19 (KJV)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Today is the birthday of Daniel B. Wesson (of Smith and Wesson fame) born in 1825.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

To any avid gun collector, this may seem to be old news. For those of you that this isn't old news, it may save your life. You should take great care in your personal protection firearm and the ammunition you have loaded in it.

If you are like me, shooting your firearms is a hobby that has had to take a back seat because of today's economy and political climate. For many years, it was nothing to go out and shoot a thousand rounds of ammunition for fun. It wasn't even that long ago! I remember back in around 2006-2007, I could go to Wal-Mart and buy all the .45 ACP ammo I wanted  for $12 a box of 50 rounds. But today is a different day. You can scarcely find .45 ammo. And if you can, you are limited to 1 box a day and you will pay $26 for it. Period. And that will be for cheap ammo.

But, to the point, I am not even talking about shooting cheap ammunition.

Collecting firearms has finally become a reality to me...or it had...and despite the relatively high prices and scarcity of quality firearms, I am still fortunate enough to be able to buy a little here and there. Yet, despite having a little extra money to buy the gun itself, being able to go about and pop off 500 rounds isn't feasible for me. As a result, I did something that I hear is very common--and dangerous--these days:

I buy the gun, 50 rounds of inexpensive ammo, and 20 rounds of good defense rounds. I go to the range and shoot the 50 rounds to make sure the gun runs, than I stick the premium rounds in it, stick in in the holster, and call it a day.

Believe it or not, this is a life-threatening mistake.

This past weekend, the rain was beating down outside which caused all of my family outdoors activity to be canceled. Desperate for something to do, I decided to clean all of my pistols. In particular, I was cleaning two of my carry pistols, a Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro .45 ACP  and a Taurus TCP .380.

As I was saying, both of these guns are recent purchases, both within the last year. I had put less than 50 rounds of ammo through each of them. I had put ZERO self defense rounds through them. Both are loaded with Hornady Critical Defense for self protection.

Now, quoting from their web site:

"The patented Flex Tip® technology used in Critical Defense® ammunition eliminates the clogging and inconsistency that often plagues hollow point bullets. ?"

They make a fantastic round, but despite the claims, when I finished up reassembling each gun, I cycled a few rounds through it. Guess what. They jammed. Both guns. Multiple times.

I picked up my Springfield Armory 1911, which has had a good bit of work in massaging the feed ramp and it had zero problems feeding the rounds.

Okay. So, now what? Well, racking the slide to check for feeding problems isn't exactly exact, so there is only one thing to do to verify whether or not your firearm will feed the self defense rounds: Go fire it. Now, I know that's easier said than done. A box of 20 rounds for any common caliber is going to cost you $25 dollars. And you really need to shoot several boxes through it. $100 is a lot of money to most people, not to mention the time to go out and do it. But, it's a necessary thing. Your life depends on it.

I have hinted around at it, and surely you have figured it out by now. If you haven't, consider the situation (heaven forbid it actually happen, but in today's world, you better be ready) where you have to defend yourself and others against an assailant. You pull the gun out, take aim, get a shot off. Maybe it hits. Maybe it doesn't. In either case, you should always shoot until the mag is empty. But, to your surprise, the spent casing ejects and the next round hangs on the feed ramp. It takes about three seconds, best case, to dislodge and reload. What do you think will happen in those three seconds? Anything. And that's the point.

I am as cheap as the next person, but this reality really hit home for me. Why? Because I have to think of myself and others I protect....and, what about my wife who also carries. What will she do if her gun hangs up? Cheap or not, money is a stupid reason to get yourself or a loved one shot, especially if $100 is what you "saved".

The question you may have is "why does it jam up?"

First off, I want to shake off a common misconception. A gun hanging up hollow points isn't a sign of a defective gun. Take the 1911, for example. The 1911 is one, if not the most, sought after handguns. It is one of the most popular handguns on the planet. It helped win two World Wars. It's still used by many armies. It is a favorite of gun collectors everywhere. But, it was also designed to shoot full metal jacket ("ball") round-nosed ammunition. You go buy a nice 1911 and try and cycle hollow point ammo through it and more often than not, a 1911 will have issues. Let's be honest, even 90% feeding success ratio isn't going to make any one feel good in a live fire situation.

These feed ramps, and the mating surface to them, are all made on different machines by different operators. Because of this, some of the pieces don't mate up just perfectly. Sometimes there are tool marks from the machining processes. Maybe there are some imperfections due to what-have-you. While many gun companies out there do their due diligence and spend the extra time working on these finer points, the cost is passed on to the consumer. You. So, if you are like me and you are staring at the gun case wondering if you should get a Smith & Wesson or a Taurus, keep in mind that one of the reasons (other than the name) that one cost more than the other is usually the fit and finish. I know that's an over used phrase, but it's accurate in this case. Are the surfaces matched perfectly? Are the surfaces cleaned and massaged? Maybe. Maybe not.

So, you go out and you shoot up a bunch of expensive ammo. The gun hangs up. Now what? Well, this is the crux of this post, really.

You have several options:

  1. The most common fix that I have seen is that people will massage the feed ramp and related pieces of the gun by light sanding and polishing. A quick search on the Internet will unearth a lot of information about how to do it. But, I caution any of you to go sanding and polishing on your firearm unless you really know what you are doing or you have enough money to go buy a new gun. There are a lot of things that you must also consider, like lined barrels. Even if you do a terrific job, you may destroy the coating that came on the barrel. It's very easy to ruin a gun, period. A little too much sanding...or uneven sanding....and you have misshaped the critical parts of your firearm.  
  2. Take it to a gunsmith. You know the saying "you get what you pay for." You may have to be without your gun for a long time. It may cost you more money. But, you will get a much more  reliable piece back. If you only have one defense gun, or don't have much money, this can present a problem. But, in the end, this is really the best solution to fixing it. It is value adding, too.
  3. Shoot 500 to 1,000 rounds of ball round nose ammo through it in order to smooth those imperfections out. Now. I know many of you are laughing. Me to. Yesterday when I was doing some research, I came across this solution. It is absolutely a viable solution that works most of the time. But, I thought..."how in the world could I even find that much ammo, much less afford it". Then I looked at the date of the article....2006. Again, if you are well off enough to still be able to shoot...this is a great solution! The passage of the round will knock down and smooth out the mating surfaces, as well as coat the imperfection with copper jacketing. [JWR Adds: Successively hand-cycling but not firing 1,000 cartridges through your pistol will also help. But because this will put a lot of wear on the cartridges, it is best to use the same 50 cartridges repeatedly, and then actually shoot them, the 20th time that you cycle them through the gun. And, needless to say, it is absolutely essential that you use a safe backstop when hand-cycling the cartridges, in the event of an accidental trigger press.]
  4. Don't carry autoloading pistols. Many men will laugh at this. But don't think of yourself. Think of your wives. If they are like mine, they already don't want to carry a chambered round in their auto loader. Which means that in a shooter situation, they have to pull it out of their purse, chamber a round, and fire. Why not do what millions have done before and buy her a revolver. I will be honest. This was my solution for my wife.
  5. Only shoot ball nose ammunition through the gun. I know...everyone wants fancy ammo. Does it make a difference? Sure. Absolutely. But ball ammo can do nearly as much damage. If you plan on filling an assailant with half a dozen holes, it really won't matter whether they came from ball or hollow point. Going back to our 1911 example, this gun and ball ammunition has killed a lot of people. Now, if you only get one round into Mr. Perpetrator, then yes, I would rather have a hollow point. In some cases though, you may be better off with ball anyway. Take the case where an assailant has body armour. A hollow point will expand on contact and won't penetrate. Ball will hold together better and give you the best chance at penetrating.

So, in summation: Don't buy a gun and just try it out with ball, then throw fancy hollowpoint ammo in it and assume that it will function. It's a dangerous proposition that may have a bad ending. Know how your gun will function in all situations and take steps to rectify any potential issues. It could save your life. And saving your life is worth  a lot more than saving a few dollars.

To follow up on a recent letter: Yes, stock up on shotgun shells! The availability of shotgun shells here locally (northern Gulf Coast) seems to have improved in some stores-but by no means all retail outlets- in recent weeks. For a while there wasn't much to be found. Shells that were available generally had a high price or were of a variety that fell outside the range of everyday use (i.e. high-priced shells loaded with tungsten or steel shot.) If a person needs shotshells and you can find a good product that meets your needs, then I suggest you buy them by the case. If you don't, then your only regret will be not buying them when you had the opportunity. - J.B. and Co.

Two evidences of the consequences of shifting to round-the-clock AR-15 production: Brand New AR-15 Bolt Disintegrates, Owner Not Happy and, by way of a link from Tam's blog, we read: Supply sorta meeting demand...

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R.B.S. sent a link to a fantastic un-narrated documentary video: The Phillips Brothers Mill: a steam powered wooden box factory. His comments: "One of the better videos I've seen. I think you will enjoy it. Lots of ways to get hurt, burned, or dismembered here! Not OSHA approved." BTW, not shown is their rough-cut sawmill, also on the property.

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Frequent content contributor Jim W. recommended: Fifteen "Must-Have" Downloads

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Also from Jim, this from Project Gutenberg: Deadfalls and Snares, skinning, trapping, etc.

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Just for fun: Space Oddity

"And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask [help] of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
And said, O LORD God of our fathers, [art] not thou God in heaven? and rulest [not] thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand [is there not] power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
[Art] not thou our God, [who] didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
If, [when] evil cometh upon us, [as] the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name [is] in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help." - 2 Chronicles 20:4-9 (KJV)

Friday, May 17, 2013

We are pleased to welcome two new advertisers to SurvivalBlog: Fisch Instruments of South Africa, and novelist John Heatherly. Both had been on our advertising waiting list for more than two years.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

H7N9: What should I do?

As of the recent date of writing this article, the CDC does not have any new or special recommendations for the U.S. public at this time regarding H7N9. There is currently no vaccine to prevent H7N9. CDC will keep you updated. If you live outside of the U.S., search the WHO web site often. Stay informed.

Since H7N9 is not spreading easily from person to person at this time, CDC does not recommend that people delay or cancel trips to China. The World Health Organization also is watching this situation closely and does not recommend any travel restrictions.

CDC advises travelers to China to take some common sense precautions, like not touching birds or other animals and washing hands
often. Poultry and poultry products should be fully update its advice for travelers if the situation in guidance is available at Avian Flu (H7N9) in China.
cooked. CDC will China changes. This

The foregoing content is provided and maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Okay, I'm on notice, but What should I be doing now to get prepared?

Here are some Helpful thoughts and actions to consider being taken now, to assist your families in being prepared for this next epidemic in the making.
In our home, we are preparing for this H7N9 virus, and getting a two month jumpstart on our normal farm and home routines schedule. One of those ramped up to today instead of waiting until July, is making my family's annual batch of Sambucus nigra Elderberry Tincture, now.
But what is that, and why use that? So glad you asked!

We use it routinely as a supplement, because consuming Elderberry Tincture made with Sambucus nigra elderberries, is an effective alternative to Western pharmaco-medicine. This supplement has shown very positive results in preventing virus's from clinging to the body's healthy cells and aiding the passage of the virus out of the body, all naturally! The commercially made product, marketed as Sambucol, blunts the haemaglutinin spikes on the outside of viruses and stops them from entering cells where they reproduce, causing the cell to explode and allows the virus to continue invading the body. Also, in vitro study, its results has also shown Sambucol to be effective in increasing the production of four inflammatory cytokines, which are effective in boasting your body's immunity, suggesting that the intake of this supplement may have an immuno-stimulatory effect and therefore be worth taking all year round to prevent flu and other viral disease.

Besides, with all this research findings to prove its effectiveness, my maternal Yugoslavian Great-Great Grandmother made Elderberry Tincture for her family and passed on these recipes for us to use and bless US Centers for others with good health for future generations. There are many clinical research trials on the product called Sambucus available on the web for you to additionally search and read more for yourself. Here are a couple: Read what the Israeli research says! 99% EFFECTIVE!

"Retroscreen Virology, a leading British medical research institute associated to Queen Mary College, University of London, announced that Sambucol was at least 99% effective against the avian flu virus, H5N1, and in cell cultures significantly neutralized the infectivity of the virus."

Great! So Can I make my own? and, if so, How do I make my own? Again, glad you asked! YES!

How to make Homemade Sambucus nigra, Elderberry Tincture

Note: Not recommended for administration to Children or alcoholics, due to the high alcohol content.
Materials and Ingredients needed:
6 pint mason jars with lids and ring bands 1 1/2 lbs. of Sambucus nigra, Elderberries 2 fifth bottles of any inexpensive brand, unflavored 80 proof vodka
Order or buy the dried elderberries from a reliable health food store, or from an online source. is an inexpensive
source to consider. also has several suppliers available.

Fill a large stainless steel stock pot 1/2 full of potable water, and bring the water to a boil. Carefully submerge all 6 pint sized mason jars, lids, and ring bands, and one stainless steel serving spoon in the boiling water, and set your timer to boil for 15 minutes. Turn off your heat source. Carefully remove the jars with clean tongs, pour off any water in them and lightly shake off
the lids and band rings of water, and allow these to cool to room temperature on a fresh clean towel, with all flat surfaces facing up, to dry.

Using the sterilized spoon, scoop straight into the mylar bag they are packaged in and fill each of the cooled sterilized jars with elderberries up to the 1/3rd full mark. Set the berry filled jars aside.
Now pour the 80 proof vodka into the jars to fill up the jars remaining 2/3rd space, to near totally full. Leave a sparse 1/8th inch head space at the top of the jar unfilled.
Then seal up the jars, by placing on the clean lids and apply the band rings snugly. Place them gently in a cabinet or, on a shelf that is out of any source of direct light and also away from any heat source. They will stay here for 14 days. You can keep the berries in the jars for longer, but 14 days will be the minimum adequate time for the berries to finish soaking in the vodka. Take the jars in hand and once a day shake up the jars contents very well. During this osmotic process that is taking place over the 14 days, the elderberries will be taking up the alcohol and successively extracting off the berries medicinal anti-viral properties into the liquid, to give you a quality finished product of tincture of the berries.

After 14 or more days, (but never longer than 21 days), use a sieve strainer to separate the berries from the juice caught into a clean bowl. Press down on the berries in the sieve strainer with your spoon, to get all of the juice from them into the bowl of tincture.

Finally, pour your filtered elderberry tincture back into the jars and place the rinsed clean lids back on and tighten the ring bands well. Label the jars with contents and date. There is no need to heat or pressure seal the jars like you would in canning. In fact, a heating process used on this tincture would kill the anti-viral properties of it. Your tincture should keep for storage and use for a few years, as long as it is stored in a cool, dry location. The vodka is also the long term preservative medium in this recipe. You now have your own homemade Elderberry tincture to begin using.
Okay, now while that recipe is being turned into usable tincture, you may want to also create this temporary use syrup, which has a "no wait time", to consume it for some protection of boasting your immunity with a ready-made homemade supplement. It will get you through an unexpected "viral flu attack" season, or again, through the period of time while waiting for the more anti-viral potent tincture to age for use.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Note: can be considered for use of children over 24 months of age. Raw Honey should never be administered to children under the age of 2 years.

2 cups dried Sambucus nigra elderberries 1 quart of boiling water 1/4 cup raw honey 1/4 lemon juice
Put the elderberries in a non-reactive metal or glass saucepan, add the boiling water and cover the pan and leave it out on the stove or counter to soak overnight. The next day, low simmer the berries for 30 minutes, set aside to cool a little, then put the mixture in a food processor or blend them.
Once blended well, add the honey and lemon juice. Cool, then pour into a clean mason jar or dark glass bottle. Store this in the refrigerator and use the syrup daily.
Here, I offer other important considerations to take to help boost and prepare the human body's immune system in protecting it from viruses, and other physical and logistical preparations to make and consider for your family to do now, don't dawdle!

1. Adults, and teens, start taking 2000 UI per day (one pill) of Vitamin D3, and extra Vit C. consumption.
Note: The Fat soluble vitamins, which are vitamins A,D,E & K can be toxic to your body organs if you take dosages past the recommended daily allowances.

2. Begin to increase that dosage US, to 4000 UI per day (two pills) of Vitamin D3, only for the duration of the epidemic.

3. Also start taking one tablespoon of Elderberry Tincture, per day and continue to do so, or make the Elderberry syrup and begin using it now, and until the viral epidemic is cleared by the CDC or becomes non-life threatening in the your region.

4. Note: There is a non-alcoholic version of Sambcus available for small children, Nature's Answer Sambucus nigra Black Elder Berry Extract Kids Formula, just look for Sambucus nigra at your local health store, or order some online now. Don't wait until the virus is reported in the US, because it will become scarce or totally unavailable when the virus starts spreading to our country's geographical direction.

5. Prepare to not leave your home once the virus has entered into your geographical region. Consider enforcing a rule in your own homes, of no outside human contact, other than with those staying quarantined inside of your own household or property gate. Consider options for your work outside of the home. Consider having any normal prescheduled farm or home need deliveries of animal feed, fuel, hay, or supplies done now, instead of later.
A self imposed protective quarantine or closing off your property to others is strongly advised if this virus becomes epidemic and deadly. Bookmark and Check your state dept. of health and the CDC web sites daily to see where the virus is being transmitted from and moving to, so you will know to effectuate this protective quarantine of your family.

6. Do not handle mail or packages delivered by the mail carriers or from delivery carriers during this self imposed quarantine.

7. Dehydration is caused due to loss of body fluids by high fever and sweating, in loss of respiratory secretions associated with respiratory infections, with nausea, which causes vomiting and with diarrhea, which are all showing to be significant symptoms of this virus, that can quickly become life threatening if you are not prepared to immediately counter their effects of the body and actively treat them. Children and infants have much less body mass, and if they develop any of these symptoms and continue having them excessively for prolonged periods, over 4 hours, you should seek emergent medical help.

For the whole family's use, have extra potable water stored for use, store Pedialyte, Extra Formula, Gatorade powders, Tylenol,(acetaminophen), Aspirin and otc anti-diarrheals and remember to get on hand extra of any medications you are already prescribed to take if the Virus jumps from Asia to the routinely. Procure and store several boxes of disposable nitrile gloves, kleenex tissues, extra toilet paper, disposable towels, disposable eating utensils and plates and large garbage type plastic bags for trash disposal use.

8. Stay Home and away from crowds of people. If you must absolutely go out into the general public due to emergency needs which cannot be met at home during this epidemic, you will need to wear N95 masks and gloves at all times, with long sleeves and long pants, cover your body up as much as possible, as this flu is transmitted by human contact on any surface contact made by carriers of this virus. Don't hug, kiss, or shake hands. Disrobe immediately upon returning to your home from the outside world, disrobe in the garage or carport, and then bag up your soiled clothes. Discard the disposable mask and then take off and dispose of the gloves, into a bag lined lidded bucket placed outside of your home. Wash your clothing separately from others in your household, in hot soapy water and wash your face and hands, better yet, go take a hot shower, wash your hair, and add the towels you use to the washing machine with your dirty clothing. Don't forget to disinfect your car wheel, and mobile phone, and seats and floor board and mats.

Again, make sure you have ample supplies that you will need to use, on hand in your home, your vehicles, at your work place, as well as ample food stocks and water set aside in every number of the locations you may decide you need to move from or go to.

9. Make provisions for bagging up or burning your household trash. Do not handle your curb-side waste containers that have been handled by contracted disposal companies.

10. Take special precautions to wash your hands often during the day with soap and water, before and after going shopping for your food at the grocery, wipe off cans and packaging before you bring them into your home from your vehicle. Wash up after handling any produce or food imported from other outside countries, and after handling any food preparation tools. Especially be cautious after touching any live animals. Do not let your pets have free run outside of your property gates. Use meticulous washing after using public restrooms. Use a paper towel to touch a public restroom door to exit it. Wash surface areas with diluted bleach water mixed at a 10:1 ratio in a spray bottle. Don't forget to wipe down your phone receiver often and computer mouse and keyboard.

I am a holistic medicine-practicing RN, and wife to a MD. I have No affiliations with any companies mentioned in this article other than purchasing some of their quality products for our home use, nor have I merited by any free products or compensation for the recommendations of their products. Also, you are responsible for what you consume into your own body, thus I am not advocating intake of any substance to which you have not thoroughly researched for yourself. As with any human consumption, allergies to substances need to be heeded and avoided in the ingredients noted in any of these recipes, if you are known to have allergic food reactions. Dosages of alternative products made yourself need to be titrated individually and according to the
products used and to your body weight and age.

I pray that this information will be fruitful to you and will assist you and your family, in being prepared for the next coming epidemic.
GodSpeed to your Health Preparations and May HE Bless you and Shelter your family with Protections from this Deadly Disease!

 I am struck by the continued availability of a variety of 12 gauge during this severe ammo shortage.  As we all know, the 12 gauge is probably one of the most versatile and powerful firearms we can have in a survival battery, or even just to have around during normal times.  I live in Houston, Texas and can't vouch for the rest of the country but I see plenty of 12 Gauge ammo everywhere I go.  The Bass Pro Shops flyer I just got even has Federal target loads in it for $6.49 per box of 25, that's 26 cents per round!  With 9mm, .223, and the like hovering around an average of $1 per round, this seems like a steal, by comparison.  Anyway, all the sporting good stores used to have plenty of sales on a variety of ammo, but now the only thing anyone seems to have enough of to even bother advertising is the 12 Gauge.  Yes, maybe some 20 gauge and .410 as well.  My point is: like-minded individuals should take this opportunity to make sure they are fully stocked with all flavors of shotshells.  Just six months ago it seemed absurd to think that we would now have a hard time finding .22 Long Rifle ammo.  Most would say we have not entered TEOTWAWKI as of yet, but the bare ammo shelves at the store make me wonder.  Even my 12 year old son is taken aback by the continued sight of these bare shelves.  Could the shotgun shells be gone in the next six months?  What a scary sight that would be. - David O.

Michael W. sent the latest coin debasement news: Stivers losing patience with reluctance to change change

And speaking of nickels: The Nickel-Hoarding Billionaire. Here is a key quote: "'Not gold futures. You need physical gold,' Bass declared to Lewis. When the author asked Bass what investment advice he would offer to his mother, the reply was a blunt 'Guns and gold.' Want to invest like one of the most successful hedge fund managers of the 21st century? You might not be able to afford gold, but anyone who buys firearms, ammo and nickels at face value will be doing a dead-on Kyle Bass impersonation." (Thanks to Diana for the link.)

Reader Jim W. sent: Orders for gold go unfilled in Asia. Jim W.'s comment: Why is the [formally-published spot] price plummeting when there is so little for delivery?

J.B.G. sent: Feds Seize Bitcoin Account for 'Unlicensed Money Transferring'

As always, government-mandated price controls lead to shortages: Venezuela hopes to wipe out toilet paper shortage by importing 50m rolls. (Thanks to A.S. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Bernanke Sees Important Risks In Wholesale Funding

US Posts Widest Monthly Surplus Since 2008 On Revenue. [JWR's Comment: Gee... Could those trillions of dollars created out of thin air and pumped into the system via MBS derivatives to triple the money supply somehow be a factor?]

Mike Santonli:  Market Partying Like It's 1995

Holy Smokes!  FDIC Seizes Arizona Bank On A Wednesday!

More X Class solar flares soon?

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Water War Ahead? Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent us this: U.S., Mexico: The Decline of the Colorado River

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Peter H. was the first of several readers to send me a link to the developers of a backcountry tablet called Earl: A waterproof, e-ink, solar powered tablet with built in weather sensors, MURS, GMRS, and FRS radio, plus AM/FM/shortwave. It has GPS and preloaded topo maps for US, Canada, and Mexico. Here is a preliminary review. (Thanks to G.G. for the latter link.)

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Jim W. sent an item of interest to readers in North Carolina: Stumpies Custom Guns

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Tom of Camping Survival made this video: Interview with Chuck Fenwick, supplier of KIO3

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Another from Jim W.: Colorado Gun Rights Groups Aim to Recall State Lawmakers

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.


But first, some commentary from your editor:

Consider the implications of some recent events in America:

So much for enjoying "The most ethical and transparent administration in history."

Eleven years ago, when the Department of Homeland Security was formed, were were promised that it would merely be an umbrella organization that would just coordinate the activities of existing agencies, and have no policing powers of of it own. Well, look at what it has become. With more than 230,000 employees, DHS is now the third largest Cabinet-level Federal department. DHS now has legions of cyber sniffers, blue-gloved crotch gropers, and asset seizers. I suspect that internal DHS checkpoints will be coming soon.

The worst sort of tyranny is the sort that isn't even recognized by those who suffer beneath it's yoke.

Can't folks see how the nooses are being tightened around our necks? Don't they recognize the collusion of the mass media? Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? I've concluded that the America's rams got elastratred by the Public School system years ago, and now there are just a bunch of useless wethers. This is pathetic. If this continues, American liberty and free enterprise will end with just a few plaintive cries of "baa." The sheep have eagerly followed a bucket of grain. Welcome to the slaughterhouse--or at least to the anteroom. - J.W.R.

Until recently I thought of ham radio much like a boat or swimming pool.  Having known amateur radio operators most of my life, I saw it as something that was better to have a friend with one than expend the time and expense myself.  One of the first things I did after purchasing my retreat land was obtain the addresses of licensees in my area from the FCC database and plot them on a map just in case I need to seek their assistance later.  Having acreage in a secluded community deep in the wooded mountains of Appalachia means cell phone service is not available.  In the interest of OPSEC, I personally dragged all the materials over the mountain and through the woods to single-handedly build our retreat.  When I was assembling and setting the rafters for the cathedral ceiling and installing the plywood sheeting and metal roof, my wife became concerned I might fall and become injured (despite a safety rope and harness).  Unable to self-rescue by hiking or crawling out, if I were seriously injured on Friday, my wife not expecting me back to civilization until Sunday evening would not know to send the neighbors looking for me.  It finally occurred to me that even without a license, a 2 meter handhold radio would allow me to call for help because of the emergency operation provision. 

I remembered reading in a discussion group that I could purchase a dual-band Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio for a paltry $39.98 including shipping.  Despite what I read in discussion groups, it took about two minutes per channel to manually program the radio using the instructions I found here.  A quick search of an online repeater directory netted a number of nearby repeaters with backup power and/or auto-patch.  Like a fire extinguisher one hopes to never need, what I had previously considered a potentially expensive hobby became an inexpensive and practical solution to a real and existing threat.

If I wanted to use the repeater for anything other than a true emergency (specifically thinking about the autopatch), I would need to be licensed.  A few more Internet searches netted a local exam and a free pdf study guide.  I had a couple speaking engagements that week so penciled in the two weeks immediately proceeding the exam to prepare.  I get up earlier than my family and my wife likes me to be there when she watches television in the evenings so I have a laptop on a side table to surf the web during those times.  Those were my best (and only) opportunities to study.

Early on day one I pulled up the study guide and started reading.  One thing six years of college taught me was that when preparing for a specific goal (in this case passing a test) one is well advised to get the best mental picture of that goal.  I did this by taking a practice exam.  I soon discovered that what I learned in the study guide did not always match any test answer.  The study guide, for example, taught me to repeat "EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY, EMEGENCY"  three times followed by my call sign if I needed to break into a conversation in the event of an emergency.  Unfortunately, that was not one of the multiple-choice answers.  I was pleasantly surprised how well I had done on the practice test with very little study.  I previously worked in public safety, had a great high school science teacher, and am no stranger to a soldering iron so maybe that helped, but by the end of day one I was consistently passing the Technician practice tests.  What was I to do with the remaining thirteen days of study time?  I thought perhaps the site I chose did not contain questions similar to all those on the test so before heading off to bed I did some additional Internet research.  I was surprised to find the FCC publishes the question pool in advance and that virtually every test site has the entire test pool.  While I currently have no interest in doing anything other than using the handheld from my retreat, not knowing what the future holds or even if there could be an event that might make it difficult to advance to a higher license later, I decided to use the remaining thirteen days of study time to start preparing for the General license exam. 

I clicked on the link to generate a General license practice test to find both bad news and good.  As I expected, there was a lot less crossover knowledge on the General license practice test than at the Technician level.  The good news was that several of the questions (or at least concepts) appeared on both exams meaning I did not have to learn as much new information as I expected.  Having made a study plan, executed that plan, and measured the results it was time to make improvements.  My goal during this two week period was to prepare for the exam.  It was not to become proficient in ham radio.  There is more to be learned attending club meetings, Hamfests and through an Elmer (mentor) than by reading a book.  I spent the first half of day two studying online flash cards at  At first I did not try to answer any questions.  I only hit the <Submit> button to bring up the correct answer which I then associated with the question by memorizing the answer, learning the underlying concept, or differentiating it mnemonically from the other answers.  It appears because I was not answering questions they were being reintroduced along with those randomly selected from the test pool.  Once I started recognizing questions I could answer I switched to answering the flash card questions I remembered and focusing on the answers to the questions I got wrong.  That evening I started taking the General license practice tests and continually passing them on the same web site.  Be warned, however, that once you sign up for an account the site reintroduces questions on which you do poorly to improve your knowledge.  This makes test scores drop and no longer an indicator of your expectation of passing.  Take a few free tests at paid sites like  I considered preparing for the Extra exam next and took a look at the question pool, but with only twelve days of constantly interrupted time left, I decided to prepare for the Extra exam after I passed the Technician and General exams.

I left early for the half hour drive on test day, but was still a few minutes late for the exam because the directions I had were very poor.  I arrived apologetically with my driver's license and passport which they didn't want to see and after filling out a license application exchanged $15 for the Technician question booklet and answer sheet.  I read the questions carefully, but only skimmed the answers until I found the one I remembered from the practice exams.  A few minutes later I handed in my exam which was quickly graded by one of the four volunteer examiners.  The grading grid corresponding to my test version was placed over top and with the nod of a head I was assured that I had passed the Technician exam.  There is only one sitting fee for the day so there was no extra charge for the General license exam which was noticeably harder.  Unable to remember the Google Voice telephone number I was using, I had to turn my cell phone back on to retrieve the number for the General exam answer sheet which prompted one examiner to ask why I was on my phone during the exam.  If you go that route (it's free), make sure to write the number on a scrap of paper because you have to provide it several times on various forms.  Another nod of approval along with a comment that I had missed four and I was off to the restroom while they finished my license application form.  They invited me to take the Extra exam next, but I declined.  I think they wanted to see if I could pass all three in one hour.  I had not even looked at that question pool.  When I got home confirmed I would have only gotten about half right.  In all I was in the testing building for forty minutes which is about as long as it took to drive home since I now knew the way.

Although I will be taking the Extra exam at the local club meeting next month to see if I can pass it, I do not know that I will go any further into ham radio.  Some of those radios cost more than my 1989 F250.  For only $55 I have exceeded my goal.  Not only do I have a portable radio that is programmed with transmit, receive, and PL codes for local 2 meter, 70 cm, and emergency responder repeaters, but because I forward the free Google Voice number to my wife's cell phone before I leave for the retreat I can use the repeater auto-patch to make a local call right to her cell phone which would otherwise be long distance.  The radio also acts a a scanner for the frequencies it covers, has a flashlight/flashing beacon, and even picks up commercial FM broadcasts so I can listen to music at night.  It can be programmed for FRS, GMRS, and MURS frequencies, but does not meet the idiot proof requirements for certification under FCC Part 95 for those bands.  Besides, even the low power setting is twice that allowed on FRS.  Nevertheless, I am ordering a N9TAX Slim Jim antenna from  so I can better broadcast to all my bubble pack FRS/GMRS radios in the event the FCC ceases to exist.

In closing I want to say do not be discouraged if you need to study a little longer.  I had eighteen years of public education which was focused on the ability to pass tests.  Learn the correct answers to the questions, get licensed, then join a local club if want to actually learn to do more than make emergency calls. - 73

In response to the letter about swapping out devices that use button batteries, I would point out that some EOTech holographic sights use standard AA batteries, that are easily recharged. The EOTech 512 is an example. These sights are robust, easy to use and stay calibrated through heavy use. 

Combined with the Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries the EOTech sight would be useful for many years to anyone with a solar battery charger. The Eneloop batteries can be recharged over 1,500 times and unlike other rechargeables, they maintain 75% of their charge after three years of storage. While the EOTech doesn't have the ambient light intake or tritium sights of the mentioned Trijicon, it is an option that folks should explore as they compare options. Just my humble opinion. - Ohio Shawn

Derivatives warning from Bill Fleckenstein: Markets Could Be On The Verge Of A 'Blowup' Thanks To Japan. (Thanks to B.R.G. for the link.)

Andrew in England forwarded a link to some more claptrap from the Wall Street cheering section: Why Doomsters Who Predict The Collapse Of Money Are Wrong. These pundidiots see nothing wrong with tripling the money supply in less than three years. Someday they will wish they learned how to sprout beans.

And here is an opposing view: Author Dmitry Orlov on why he believes the U.S. is on the brink of collapse...and how to survive it. (SurvivalBlog's G.G. sent the link.)

The Horrible "Mileage Tax GPS Tracking Device" argument surfaces in Florida. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

Steve Forbes: Fed Sinking Real Economy; Calls QE's "Titanics"

Items from The Economatrix:

World Bank Whistle-blower: “Precious Metals To Serve As An Underpinning For Paper Currencies”

JPM Eligible Vault Gold Drops To Fresh Record Low. [JWR's Comment: Any futures contract buyers who believe that they will reliably be able to demand delivery in physical gold or silver are fools. Nothing trumps holding precious metals in your personal possession.]

JPMorgan Client's Demanding Their Gold...Endgame Near

John E. sent this disturbing news: Pentagon Unilaterally Grants Itself Authority Over ‘Civil Disturbances'

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Seed for Security is now offering a free Garden Security Collection with every order $75 or more. This collection features six generous packets of high protein, calorie dense, easy to grow, open pollinated vegetable seeds. This offer is for a limited time.

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Buddy mentioned this: Homeowner wounds suspect during shoot-out in SW Houston. (Summary: A home invasion robber forces a homeowner into his closet. But this is the closet where he keeps his guns. Predictable outcome ensues.)

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Pantry Paratus has posted a new infographic: Food Security-- Land, Water, & Energy

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H.L. sent: Now we pull out our own teeth: Boom in DIY dental kits as patients cannot afford NHS fees

"The price of gold is headed for extinction. I for one don't believe that the price of gold is headed for five digits. Long before that might happen, permanent backwardation would shut down the gold futures markets. Gold could no longer be purchased at any price. Gold would only be available through barter. World trade is facing an avalanche-like transformation flattening out monetary economy into barter economy. Practically all economists, financial writers and market analysts have missed this possible scenario. They don't see the greatest economic contraction ever staring them in the face. They don't see the coming tsunami of unemployment. Very few see deflation as indicated by the progressive disappearance of cash gold. It never occurred to Bernanke that the new Federal Reserve notes he is printing galore could also go to purchase physical gold, causing the gold basis to shrink. Once the gold basis goes permanently negative, the total U.S. debt, all $16 trillion of it, will not be worth one ounce of gold. That will pull the rug from underneath the international monetary system. Barter is the ultimate in deflation, and that is what the world economy is getting." - Antal Fekete, in a Daily Bell interview

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This is the last day of Camping Survival's Mountain House Sale. They are offering Mountain House nitrogen-packed cans at 25% off and pouches and long term storage HDPE buckets at 15% off. Order before midnight eastern time tonight. (May 15, 2013.)


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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 survivalist movement is growing at great rate today.  You only have to read some of the articles posted in this blog to know that.  But with all the fancy accruements available today some of the more fun and lowly survival items are overlooked.  Among them: The hobo and emergency pocket stoves.

These are so much fun to make, and so easy.  I remember first seeing them in an ancient tiny camping book from the 1960’s.  The book itself was a hoot.  When I cracked the book open the faded and almost crunchy yellowed pages revealed what I thought was an amazing thing: a complete recipe section with everything from biscuits to roast beef, puddings, jams, and eggs, and all off it made by can stoves, can cooking implements, and can ovens.

There are several basic designs of the hobo stove.  If you are cooking for multiple people and really want to test out complicated recipes, go for the large industrial sized cans.  You can go all out and use metal cutters, hole punchers, and even a saw to make things nice, but I’ve also found that a rock and a nail or screw works just as well.  With whatever tools you decide to use, there is a basic design among hobo stoves.  First off, cut the top and bottom off the can. A can opener is great, but use what you have on hand as needed.  Remove the two steel discs for a later use.  Cut a door in the bottom of the can, in a square, and flip it up. It now looks like a little house with an awning over a door.  Puncture holes around the top of your stove so the fire can breathe.  If you want to cook a pot on the top take a wire hanger, straighten it, and thread the pieces of wire through the top holes to make a place for your pot to rest. 

Now you are ready to build your fire.  Please clear a safe area, free from extra debris.  You can use whatever you like to build your fire.  For a medium sized can a good fire should take about six to eight minutes to boil water.  Your imagination is up to you as to what you would like to cook.  My personal favorite is eggs.  Missing a ladle?  No problem.  Take the leftover can top (or bottom); use a rock to bend it into a ladle shape, notch a stick, then thrust the “ladle” into the stick.  Wa-la, you go yourself a ladle.

This basic hobo stove design is of the most simple.  I’ve seen people do all sorts of different variations and they all have their merits.  One variation is to use a wire hanger to make handles and attach them to the top of the can, omitting cutting the bottom out.  Punch holes in this design on both levels of the stove, top and bottom.  The advantage is that in case an emergency, provided you have heavy gloves, you could take your stove and run.  However, the stove itself will be very hot and a safety hazard.

If it is windy consider building a fire screen attachment.  For this example, start with the biggest size can for the bottom stove section.  You may want to make bigger holes for this design.  If you are down to basic equipment: i.e. a rock and nails, for example, try and find a sturdy piece of metal to widen the holes.  Now take your smaller sized can.  The best fit would be for the medium can to balance nicely on the larger bottom can, seamlessly, within the seams.  Think of balancing a standard 15-ounce can of beans on top of a larger pasta sauce can.  It would be an ideal fit.  If that’s not possible line the two cans with tin foil when setting up the fire.  Take the medium sized can to make the fire screen.  Cut off the top and bottoms as well.  Instead of holes this time cut a “V” notch in the can, the point of the V pointing down. 

Now things are getting exciting and it’s time to build your fire in the lower can.  For this design it’s okay to add bigger branches.  The fire may reach all the way up through the screen with the V in it.  Experiment with air flow to make your liquid burn faster.  After the water is boiling an added egg should take about four minutes.  If using a larger cooking device it may take a little longer. 

Now let’s look at emergency pocket stoves.  These are great devices, easy to make, tiny, and there are a bunch of different types you can make with materials easily found around your house.  They are super inexpensive, and, therefore, disposable.

My favorite device is one that seems at first far too easy and simple to make.  Literally just tear or cut 10-30 sheets of a paper towel into circles that just peek out from under whatever you want to heat up.  It could be a soda can, a tin of vegetables, or even a coffee pot.  Find a smooth fireproof surface.  The top of an uncut can would be fine.  Soak the paper towel sheets in91% Isopropyl alcohol. 70% may work directly and it should be "salted out."  Fuels that float on water are not recommended.  A ring of blue flame should surround the pot and then the pot should begin heating up.  If the fuel burns up before the desired temperature is reached, no problem. Just remove the pot, replenish the fuel and put the pot back on followed by relighting.
Please be absolutely sure to replenish the fuel only after the flame is extinguished.

There are some very good web sites to examine this process step by step.  Another favorite of mine is made from small tins, such as pet food and tuna cans.  Take the smaller tin and puncture holes all around the top.  Remove the top of the larger tin.  Cut a hole in the bottom and remove, as best you can, with what materials you have at hand, enough of a hole so that you still have a perimeter existing around the sides of the can.  For example, if you have a tuna can, make the hole about the size of a half-dollar.  Now cut holes in the bottom of the can, the edge opposite of the hole.  Next, take the small tin and place it upside down inside the large one. If you have it, take aluminum muffler tape to go around the can and split it up the middle.  However, this isn’t strictly needed.  Now, put a layer of fiberglass into the can so it’s loosely filled.  The fiberglass will hold its shape after the first burn and it makes a reusable wick.  Please note that you should use only alcohol based fuels.  Gasoline could easily blow up if using fiberglass.

I’ve seen some pretty awesome “penny stoves,” that look spectacular but are somewhat short of practicality.   They are are easy to make, but in an outdoor situation they  fall short, due to wind factors and the length of time spent building one.  It also worries me that online directions on how to make them always are sure to say that they may explode and kill you.  Needless to say they are not my favorite.

The last idea I’ll leave you with is a mini grill made of a circular mint or candy tin.   Take the bottom part of the tin (the belly), and remove a large circle out of the bottom.  You can get professional and find the old fan part of a computer for the bottom grill, or go old school and fashion a grill from a coat hanger.  You will need one grill to hold charcoal on the bottom and one for the top.  Hold the grills in place by wedging them in, or, for a more pro look, use screws.  Your mini grill will resemble a typical rounded grill.  Create legs from either screws, additional lengths of wire hangers, or anything metal.  If windy you will need a fire break for this grill, made of folded tin foil or whatever you can find to screen it.  The advantage is that you don’t need an alcohol fuel, just a piece of charcoal.

All in all, it’s easy to make and prepare emergency stoves for just plain fun, camping and as cooking devices.  Man’s ingenuity is endless and these simple designs can easily be mucked around with to create imaginative stoves best for your particular environment.  The local weather, time of year, and altitude should all be considered in your personal designs, and also what materials you have on hand.  Some of these designs are perfect if you find yourself in a disaster situation, and even if you decide on more professional equipment for your survival stash, I’d recommend practicing making these devices.  No matter what the scenario, most disasters, natural or man-made, are inherently dangerous, and one of the number one dangers to us is lack of fresh water and possible contaminated water.

These simple and effective designs could very well save your life and the lives of your friends and family!  I hope you have enjoyed reading about them.

James Wesley,
I have found red dot scopes to be real helpful, and great for target shooting and plinking.  The problem of course are the [button] batteries. I have a cheap red dot on one of my [Ruger] 10/22 fun plinking gun.  Everyone loves it.  However, too Many times I have left the sight turned on only to have a useless device atop my rifle. I have spent much money on the special "photo type" batteries for these illuminated scopes (with and without reticles). Those scopes that have a regular reticle and the option of illumination is not as catastrophic as a red dot with a dead battery and no quick back up iron sights.  I have added Trijicon RMR Dual-Illuminated Sight (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex) to two of my survival rifles. The illumination of the dot is done with with ambient light and has tritium illumination for low light/night conditions.  The great thing is the the ambient illumination will last forever.  It is always there - no switches, no batteries, no problem.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation this is what you want.  If you are on watch at night or low light the tritium illumination is always there when you need it.  Yes they are expensive ~$500, well worth the investment, they are built rugged and solidly reliable.  This could be your life depending on this device, how much is that worth?  Do you want to bet your life on a $39 piece of junk?  You get what you pay for.  Yes the tritium will degrade, that will be anywhere from 5 to 15 years depending on who you talk to and how good your eyes are. However the daytime function will always be there.  The sights can always be returned Trijicon and the tritium replaced for a fee.  the choice if color is amber or green - no red, I have no problem with the amber.  As time goes on how much have you spent on these expensive batteries?  Something to consider.  I have no association with Trijicon or any financial interest, just a satisfied customer. - Richie in New York City

JWR Replies: Most people don't realize it, but most disposable button batteries can be recharged. And even better for preppers, there are very compact photovoltaic button battery chargers available. Just be advised that these are not automatically regulated, so you have to keep track of the number of hours that they are charging in full sunlight.

On Monday (May 13, 2013) I did my best to intervene and help mediate between Chris Duane and the Mulligan Mint to get them back to the bargaining table. I even suggested some potential terms of agreement. But they are still deadlocked. I'm afraid that this won't be resolved until their controversy goes to formal mediation or to court. This is a very sad situation. I was hoping that they'd be willing to quickly settle this like gentlemen, but the rhetoric (at least on one side) has become so vitriolic that I don't foresee an amicable resolution anytime soon. The latest news is that today Mulligan Mint is pressing forward with the re-launch of the SBSS coins, without Chris Duane's involvement. (They are wisely setting aside 50% of the profits from current sales for Chris Duane in an escrow account.) Because Mulligan Mint is using Duane's SBSS name without his permission, I decided not to be involved in promoting the re-launch. I can sympathize with both parties, and I can see that they both have some valid arguments. Please pray that Chris Duane and the Mulligan Mint are able to mend fences and reach mutually agreeable terms to making a clean break.

Meanwhile, Mulligan Mint is still reliably producing and shipping the American Redoubt .999 silver coins. This is entirely detached from the much-publicized Duane/Mulligan Mint fray. (To explain: Chris Duane backed away from the Redoubt coin project a week before the launch, and at that time he was apologetic and encouraged me to contact Mulligan Mint, to go ahead get the coin into production quickly. Silver was under $23.10 per ounce, and there was no time to dawdle.) I'm pleased to report that the mint is in full production and fully caught up with orders. The biggest delay is just in waiting for customer checks to clear. I have been promised that shipping delays won't exceed four weeks, and presently the delay is much less than that. Rest assured that the American Redoubt coin project is not at all entangled with the legal battle between Chris Duane and Mulligan Mint. But again, please pray that an amicable resolution of their disagreement can be reached.

Next, I'd like to warn readers about getting overly idealistic when buying silver. I must remind you that privately-minted silver coins are not numismatic coins, and should never be considered a numismatic investment. With a few exceptions, low minting numbers, limited strikes, minting errors, obscure minting variations, and so forth are essentially meaningless in the world of bullion silver, in the long term. Yes, proof coins are pretty and make nice gifts. But when you are buying silver, I recommend that you simply buy genuine silver, and stack it deep. Ten years from now, when you go to trade or sell today's "rarity", it will probably be treated no differently than a battered "Christmas, 1987" Santa logo silver round from some no-name mint. So always consider that fact when shopping for silver bullion coins or bars. Never pay excessive premiums when your goal is to acquire bullion to preserve your net worth. Seeing the recent bids on the silver round auctions on eBay makes me scratch my head, and ask: "What herb have these auction bidders been smoking?"

Lastly, I need to reiterate the point that the published New York and London spot and futures prices for metals have become meaningless. Currently, most coin shops are charging $10 to $12 per ounce over spot on silver, and the premiums paid on eBay are even higher. The spot prices have become so grossly manipulated by short-selling investors that they no longer reflect reality. The real price of silver is what most dealers are actually willing to sell it for. And as I'm writing this, that is around $33 to $35 per ounce. So forget the "official" price of silver. So after you have stacked up your storage food and ammo, stack up some silver. Someday, you will be glad that you did!

Reader Jeff H. wrote to suggest this instructional video: Arc Welding with Three Car Batteries

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"Excessive Force" doesn't begin to describe... Dramatic helicopter shootout and car chase in Rio de Janeiro. (A hat tip to Ol' Remus for the link.)

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F.G. suggested: Used AK Buyer's Checklist

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) found this link: Why Vultures Devoured Hiker's Body in Minutes

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As if on cue... Two days ago I asked rhetorically,: "Is a magazine capacity of 16 rounds inherently more evil, criminal or sinister than a capacity of 15 rounds?" And then came yesterday's news headline: New York Man Arrested for Having Two Extra Bullets, Violating State's Seven Bullet Cap. This is just as arbitrary as Mayor Bloomberg's ban on high capacity soda cups, but has much more serious implications. (Thanks to reader J.B.G. for the article link.)

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I wonder what Joe Dassin would say, if he saw his favorite boulevard now? 'The Champs Elysee is a battlefield': Riots on the streets of Paris as thugs hijack David Beckham's team's open-top bus title celebrations.

"Above all, stay alive.  You have no idea how important you are.  This is John Connor.  If you are listening to this, you are the resistance." - Christian Bale as John Connor, in the movie Terminator: Salvation (Screenplay by John Brancato, Michael Ferris, Paul Haggis, Shawn Ryan, and Jonathan Nolan.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

Over the years our lifestyle of self-production has morphed from simply producing more of our own needs into an active learning, training experience for the whole family.  Our children have grown up working alongside us in the garden, enjoying our late-night “canning parties”, and lately helping to raise and pursue large animals for our consumption.  This last year our gardening has taken on a greater academic angle with more experimentation and trying new things.  We’ve done a fair amount of foraging in the mountains around our place, and we were wondering how our ‘domestic’ garden varieties would fair in the wild.  This is how our guerrilla garden began.

We already knew from years of experience with deer and elk in our garden that corn and other vegetables are a wildlife favorite, so we decided to see how potatoes might fair in various circumstances.  The internet is full of advice and experience, but our own personal efforts have been invaluable to teach what is possible and what is successful.  We chose potatoes also because of their valuable payoff in volume and nutrition for any emergency scenario.

Last spring we decided to see how potatoes would do in various conditions.  With lots of our favorites still in cold-storage from the winter, we had plenty of our favorite seed potatoes – Purple (“All Blue”), Reds, and Yukon Golds.  We decided on three main locations: 1) normal conditions in our regular, groomed garden; 2) ‘new’ garden conditions in land we recently cleared; and 3) rustic gardening in the wild parts of the hills around us.  We hoped each of these areas could teach us new things about growing one of our favorite foods.

In our regular garden, we planted over 50 potato plants to use as a control and also to experiment with things like using straw, dirt mounds, and even bucket systems we’d read about to help increase yields.  We varied the planting distances between plants, monitored watering, and even measured the effect of damaging the main plants might have on potato yields.

Adjacent to our regular garden we recently cleared out pine and fir trees to expand the regular garden plot.  This soil had not been cultivated or fertilized in any way – we simply mowed the grass and weeds, then did a rough tilling of the soil for us to plant in.  We wanted to see how suitable our ‘native’ ground might be for growing in short notice.  In this area we planted another 50 plants.

Our third location was chosen to see how potatoes might fair in the mountains of western Oregon.  Most of the land here is accessible by logging roads, and with so much space to use we were curious how the plants would fare.  First, we contacted local county and state Agricultural resources to make sure there was no legal issue with us planting domestic plants in the wild.  Also, we scoped out where noxious weed spraying might occur.  Finally, we decided on 4 different locations in the hills near where we often target practice or roam.  We chose these locations to provide different growing conditions – on top of an exposed hillside, in a small ravine, alongside a logging road, and in a small open meadow.  Would the animals find the plants?  Would they get adequate moisture and sun?  Was the soil suitable?  Lots of questions.

Our Experimental Conditions
In our regular garden we experimented with X condition to see how they would affect yields: mounding dirt around the plants; piling straw around the plants; enclosing a plant in straw and a bucket; spacing between plants; and ‘damage’ to the main plant when it flowered.  Each of these factors was chosen based on what we had read of others doing.  We varied the spacing between plants from 12 inches to 2.5 feet.  Some plants we regularly raked up dirt up to 12 inches high around the base of the plant as it grew, while others didn’t get mounded dirt.  We piled thick straw around some plants to see if they would grow potatoes in the straw, and if that helped hold heat, moisture, etc to promote potato production.  For 2 plants, we cut the bottoms out of 5 gallon buckets and placed the bucket around the plant as it was large enough to “see out” of the bucket.  Within the bucket around the plant we filled the space with straw.  One group of plants we regularly watered, while others we left to the elements.  I had read that if a plant was damaged around the time it flowered, it would put more ‘effort’ into the tubers, so we munched up some of the plants to ‘simulate’ crushing or deer damage, to see if it produced more potatoes.  Yield results for these plants in our regular garden area were most dramatic and clear between different conditions.

In the rough “new” area we planted, we simply rototilled the ground and planted the potato starts.  Some parts of this area had many roots left from the trees we removed, and even 3 stumps of considerable size.  About half of this area started growing field grass aggressively after our planting.  We also added straw and dirt mounding to some of these plants.  We did not give extra watering to the plants in this area.  We were mainly interested in seeing how the soil and conditions would do for potatoes.  In an extended emergency, would it be possible for us to till up yard or pasture and get a suitable crop at harvest in the first year to help our family?  Without extra fertilizer or watering, is growing our own food realistic?  How important is our efforts to remove grass and weeds in land we want to garden?  Lots of questions we hoped to answer for very little effort or work.  Big ramifications though for what we might find – especially if our dinner depended on this ground.

For the potatoes we planted out in the wild, the only “experimental” factor we added was to put an old tire around one of the potato plants to see if the tire would ‘warm’ the plant and encourage any noticeable yield improvement.  We found the tire along the logging road so it was a last minute idea to try.  Using what was available to learn something new.  We planted seed in a barren, clay bank, marshy wet soil, and even in dirt with a lot of ‘riprap’ rocks from the logging road.  Interestingly, the results in the wild were all pretty much the same, though we learned a lot from it.
I should say that the best part of all of this was not eating the results, but the fun we had.  We all had a great time planting, brainstorming and researching, and of course digging up the goods.  Our many children’s ages range from 5 to 19 and each of them was eager to get out and check the plants.  When checking on the plants in the woods, we often used the occasion to target practice, look for new mushrooming areas, or scout deer – it was always a great outing.  Learning life skills and enjoying this great world God has given us is always better (and more educational) when it is a fun time.  One of my sons was quite surprised when he realized he could use our experiments as a science project – he thought it was all just for fun.

Our Results
We regularly checked on and monitored the plants – noting any early deaths, plant growth, and observations.  The weather last summer was moderate, and relatively mild with regular rainfall and no dramatic heat stretches.  Good conditions for experimentation.  We carefully made notes and when digging the potatoes weighed the results from each plant.  None of our efforts were statistically defined, though we tried to randomize as much as possible.  Not truly scientific, but close enough for us!

Most of our insights were from the regular garden area, with all its variations.  We measured the yields to the closest ounce, but I won’t bore you with the number details.  The Red potatoes yielded much higher than the Purple or Golds.  This was expected.  We also observed that mice and mold preferred Reds over the other two.  The Red potatoes were still green and vigorous into September, while both the Purple and Gold plants were dying off or dead before mid-August.  These are all considerations for emergency conditions when our dinner might be on the line.  Red potatoes produced 5.5 to 6.5 lbs of potatoes on average; Purples put out 3.2 lbs each; Golds averaged 1.8 lbs.  Most of our experimentation was on the Reds, which is part of the greater range in average.

In our regular garden, the two most significant factors affecting potato yields were sun and dirt mounding.  The amount of sun the plants received was easily seen in the yields.  Mounding dirt vs. unmounded plants was even more dramatic – more than 30% more potatoes (by weight) was produced by plants that had dirt mounded around them.  The mounding also helped keep the weeds at bay so this might have been a factor.  We will always mound our plants after this experiment!

The straw around the potatoes had no significant effect on increasing the amount of potatoes, but actually had a large NEGATIVE effect in that the potatoes grown in the straw had much more mold and losses to mice.  Most potatoes had some damage and many were lost because of the mold and rodents, whereas those plants without straw had little or no damage.  As I mentioned, the Reds were much preferred by the rodents over the Purple or Golds.

The only noticeable effect that spacing had on the plants seemed to be related to the amount of sun.  plants close together but on the south side of the patch still had high yields, as did the plants spaced out more but not on the south (sunny) side.  Greater spacing also helped us to mound and keep the weeds out.
Those plants that had the extra watering did seem to have better yields, but it was not significant or really noticeable.  Not to say watering isn’t important for the potatoes, but perhaps the mild year we had was wet enough.  We don’t think that extra watering (unless a dry season) is worth the extra effort.

The damaged plants we crushed or munched up branches on showed no real difference in potato yield than undamaged plants.  The mounding and sunlight was still the overwhelming factor on these plants.

The plants with a bucket around them had lower yields than their peers.  No rodent damage but I suspect the buckets decreased the sunlight available to the plants.  All of the potatoes were in the dirt and none of them in the straw.  With all the ideas on the internet about stacking tires or boxes around the plant as it grows, I figured there would be something too it, but it didn’t pan out for us.  This shows the value of trying it for yourself, in your own local circumstances!

One final note on the results in our regular garden area was interesting – we planted just the “eye” growth from a Gold potato to see if it would grow to a plant, and indeed it did.  This eye start was about 2 inches long and we broke it off the potato before potting, then transferred to the garden.  It grew, but only produced 0.25 lbs of potatoes whereas the other Gold plants around it were producing 1.5 to 2.8 lbs.  It did something, but not much.  At least something to consider if you don’t have enough seed potatoes to plant a large chunk of seed potato with the eye on it.

In the new, “unworked” garden area, we saw similar results, though yields were smaller than in the tended and fertilized area.  Average Purple and Gold yields were 1.5 to 2.75 lbs per plant, and the Reds averaged 3.5 lbs each.  This is about 40-60% less than the same averages from the “normal” garden, taking into account the experimental variables we were using.  This is dramatic, but still encouraging.  Two to three pounds of potatoes from a plant in native soil would be a big deal in a year of famine or emergency.  With so many of our neighbors without gardens, it would be a big help if they had this option to grow potatoes without having a couple years to cultivate the soil.

Again, the amount of sunlight and dirt mounding demonstrated a big boost to yields.  As the quality of the garden area decreases, we would recommend spacing the plants more and mounding them.  Of course, fertilizing and other factors will also have dramatic increases to yields as the resources are found.

Also, those plants we put straw around showed much more rodent and mold damage.  Maybe we had moldy straw that also encouraged these losses- something to consider.  The amount of tree roots still in the soil also showed a negative impact – the 10 plants in this area (some of which had straw) showed about 10% fewer potatoes than adjacent ones.
The last observation from this unworked garden area was the impact that field grass and weeds had.  The plants in the areas where grass and weeds were thick (and left intentionally) still grew and produced potatoes, but were ~25% lower yields than the other plants in this area.  These plants put out 0.5 to 1.5lbs each, depending on other factors (mounding, straw, etc.).  Even the kids could see the value at harvest from weeding during the season.

The results from our final area of study – the real Guerrilla arden of the mountains, was disappointing.  We had hoped to hide our little seed potatoes in the waysides and remote mountains, then later in the year find a bounty to meet out need if we ever had to flee to the hills.  But any data is valuable data, and we had fun.  None of these plants produced more than a few small potatoes, of just an ounce or two.  Each plant had a potato though!

First, we learned how tough and aggressive the native grasses and blackberries are compared to our gentile, domesticated potatoes.  The native plants shot up, took all the sunlight, and in many cases buried our poor potatoes to flounder in their shadows.  Without human help to fight off the competition, the potatoes won’t have a chance.

Next, we saw the importance of marking or mapping our plants – we were unable to find many of them!  We tried to use rocks, logs, or natural markers to help us find our plants but on return trips our success rate was low – we found less than half of the plants by the end of the year.  It is truly a jungle out there!  When the plants were green and growing they were easier to locate and identify.  In September they were shriveled enough to make it hard to find them, and more difficult to positively ID them.

That tire we tried on one of the plants?  Well, someone needed it more than we did – it just up and disappeared, and we couldn’t locate the plant it was marking.
Elk do seem to like to nibble potatoes, though they didn’t completely eat them gone.  Turns out we planted some of our potatoes on the hillside where 4-6 elk regularly bed down (we confirmed the beds several times) and while they nibbled the plants, they didn’t outright eat them.  They might have been curious and then lost interest after the taste.

Our final observation on growing potatoes in the wild – no matter how “out of the way” you think you are, someone, usually on an ATV or 4 wheel drive will find your little potatoes!  We lost a patch that was way back in a ravine to at least two ATVs – they went in there and did "cookies" [turns] on top of the potatoes!  I don’t think they saw them and did it intentionally, but it made us laugh to think of how we thought we were so inconspicuous.  People really are everywhere.

Which raises a point about us trying potatoes.  We knew corn would not do well in the wild, because of wildlife but also because it is fairly recognizable.  When considering a garden for public or wild lands, it is best to chose something inconspicuous that another gardener might recognize, but not the general public.  Other than wildlife, people are the next big threat to growing in the wild.  Potatoes are both highly nutritious and inconspicuous.

For years we have been experimenting with our fruit trees, grape vines, chicken raising, and now potatoes.  Trying new things, and trying new ideas on old things adds a great spice to gardening and enriches our fun with the children.  It stimulates their creativity and natural curiosity and keeps them in the garden working longer!  It also helped us temper our thoughts that life in the mountains under difficult conditions would be simpler by growing a garden.  If hard times come, it would be better to have food cache’ed that to hope those potatoes are out there for our stew pot.  And our personal experiences have confirmed what Abraham Lincoln said, “Don’t trust everything you read on the Internet.”

This year we’ve decided to try pole beans and zucchini in our 2013 Guerrilla Gardening.  Pole beans might stand a chance in the wild if they can climb up and out of the cover, and zucchini grows like crazy in town, maybe it will have a chance.  Both have high nutritional values, and are relatively inconspicuous.  We are excited.  Our gardening experiments have been a huge success.  Many of the results were unexpected and helpful, and the time together invaluable.  What will you try in your Guerrilla Garden this year?

In her recent article on repurposing material by sewing, Penny Pincher said: "The Army poncho liner is nothing more than a thin quilt with a head hole in the middle.  It’s camo lightweight nylon with thin polyfil for batting, a few strings at the corners, and bound on the edges.  You could make something similar.  If you didn’t mind the extra weight, you could use some thin wool, maybe in two layers, and sandwich that between nylon to make it ride smoother."

I made something similar last spring, but with nylon on only one side. I like carrying a wool blanket rather than a sleeping bag when motorcycle camping. Heavy wool blankets get very hot -- in part due to the nap of the wool directly against the skin. So I took an old olive drab blanket (washing it first to shrink as much as possible) and sewed a similarly sized piece of dark brown thin nylon to one side of it. After "quilting" the two pieces together by simply running it through the sewing machine a few times in both directions, I bound the four edges with canvas left over from an old couch, tan khaki in color. Now I have an extremely durable blanket/quilt (in woodland camo colors) that doesn't get unbearably hot in the summer, but which can be reversed to make the most of wool's insulative properties when required.

Because I started out with the largest surplus blanket I could find and pre-shrunk it, and because nylon and wool are both water repellent, I was able to sleep soundly with only my blanket in a solid drizzle while camping this winter in Mississippi. And the whole thing rolls up to about the diameter of a surplus closed-cell foam pad, and it's only about half the length of those pads. So far it's been used for motorcycle camping, as a ground pad for rifle practice, as my bedding while at the station where I'm an EMT, and as an occasional play tent for my toddler. Very durable, only been washed once, and looks brand new. - J.D.C. in Mississippi

Dear Jim,
I have been a welder, machinist, engineer, and someone interested in self-reliance for many years. I read the recent discussion on SurvivalBlog of post-SHTF welding with interest.

I do not disagree that thermite could be made from scrap yard materials (done it, with aluminum filings and black sand (magnetite) from the river), but it would require a custom-made refractory mold for each joint.  IMHO two other forms of welding would be much more practical.

Forge welding was the only available process up into the 1800s, and requires only anvil, hammer, fire of coke or charcoal and forced air.  Borax or other flux is very helpful on steel, as opposed to wrought iron. Common salt would probably work, too, but avoid the chlorine fumes.

Electric arc welding is infinitely faster and more flexible, and not out of reach post-SHTF.

Engine-driven welding machines are common, and can of course be used as designed as long as their fuels, usually gasoline or Diesel oil,  are available.

Gasoline engines can also be run on wood-gas, natural gas, propane, manure gas, with suitable carburetion;  Diesels of course on vegetable or waste petroleum oils.

A steam engine burning wood, or a water-wheel, could run a generator welder just as effectively as a modern internal combustion engine, with suitable belting or gearing to provide the right rotational speed.

A medium-size off-grid solar electric power system will also run some small welding machines for limited duty cycles.

Many types of finely compounded  welding rods are used today for specific purposes. However, a DC welding machine can be used to weld with coat-hanger or most other types of plain bare steel wire.  It is much more difficult to control the arc, and the properties of the weld joint will not be as good, but will be usable for many purposes by a skilled welder.  Nor is it out of the realm of possibility to make coated electrodes with better properties, as for instance the coating on one of the most common and most useful modern (E6010) electrodes could be closely approximated with wrapping of newspaper soaked in waterglass, or probably salt or soda mixed with powdered sand.

However I will leave you with a major caveat: If you are not a skilled welder now, then do not expect to do yourself any good by taking up the craft with improvised materials after SHTF.

One of the biggest income-enhancers for the general repair welder like myself, is the guy who buys himself his own welding machine.  Fixing it after it was fixed wrong the first time, costs a lot more than doing it right the first time. 

As with all skills you may wish you had in an emergency, do not wait for the emergency to acquire them.

Thanks for your service, Mr. Rawles! - Ben F.

The historic flying legacy of Ontario [Oregon]'s Merle Maine. What an amazing collection! (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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Jim W. sent: Wolves vs Lion Hounds: Attacks Rising in Montana and Idaho

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Governor Otter invites firearms, ammunition makers to Idaho. (A hat tip to Rich B. for the link.)

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Jim W. sent us yet another good reason for the partition of eastern Washington: Attention Florida CWPs: Washington State is no longer reciprocal.

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A workshop in Wilsall, Montana will address "drought-proofing" farms and ranches and increasing soil fertility, June 5-9, 2013. More that 80 hours of instruction. Participants will learn about multiple proven technologies and strategies for farms and ranches that increase profitability, maximize water harvesting, minimize inputs, increase forage yield and build soil. This workshop is being organized by Cloud Nine Farm in Wilsall, Montana and Broken Ground in Bozeman, Montana. For more information, see: or call Karen Erbe at: (406) 600-7881. 

Bullet blitz: Demand from public, government leaves ammo shelves empty. (Of course those of you who heeded the advice in SurvivalBlog and stocked up before last December are now sitting pretty.)

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Tomorrow is the last day of Camping Survival's Mountain House Sale. They are offering Mountain House nitrogen-packed cans at 25% off and pouches and long term storage HDPE buckets at 15% off. Order soon!

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Reader M.V.R. spotted this: Use These Secret NSA Google Search Tips to Become Your Own Spy Agency

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Jeff H. mentioned: Mothers Milk: Grow Your Own Vinegar

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Los Angeles Wants To Confiscate Legal 10+ Round Magazines. Here are a couple of quotes from the article: "The city of Los Angeles has filed a proposed ordinance that would allow police to confiscate legally owned magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Thanks to a motion by Councilman Paul Krekorian of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee."


"The unconstitutional law would ban possession of magazines under a nuisance law. They’re talking about property that was grandfathered for a reason."

JWR's Comment: That sounds a lot like an uncompensated "taking" (theft) to me! It also flies in the face of California's State Preemption law (53071 GC) that restricts counties and cities from enacting firearm regulations. I must repeat that I encourage gun owners to move out of that Mickey Mouse State, as soon an possible.

"You may hand us over to the executioner, but in three months' time our disgusted and harried people will bring you to book and drag you alive through the dirt in the streets!" - Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben (One of the Valkyrie bomb plot leaders), August 7, 1944

Monday, May 13, 2013

Today is the birthday of firearms engineer Theodor Koch (born 1905, died 1976.) Koch, along with Edmund Heckler and Alex Seidel salvaged tooling from the bombed-out Mauser factory at Oberndorf, and with it founded Heckler und Koch. OBTW, Koch is not spoken: "Kock." Rather, it is correctly rendered in a deep register: "Cohke-hh".)


Reader H.C. kindly wrote to remind me to mention this: Most folks have probably heard that Google Reader is scheduled to go off into the sunset on July 1st, 2013. So if you use it to access any RSS feeds (including ours), then get yourself set up with an alternate RSS reader, before then. (There are plenty of others available.)

A recurring theme in western journalism, academia, and collectivist politics is the quaint notion that firearms are intrinsically evil. That is, that they have a will of their own, that somehow inspires their owners to murder and mayhem. I liken this nonsensical belief to voodoo.

The "guns are evil" viewpoint was encapsulated by social psychologist Leonard Berkowitz when he wrote: “Guns not only permit violence, they can stimulate it as well. The finger pulls the trigger, but the trigger may also be pulling the finger.” I am astounded that something like that can be earnestly said or written in modern times, and not immediately get shouted down. This statement betrays an outlook that is not much different than that of a practitioner of Voodoo. And to see this espoused by some with a nomen appendage like "Ph.D." makes it even more absurd. (Leonard Berkowitz was awarded a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan in 1951. But apparently U. of M.'s doctoral program did not include courses in logic. And his study of what he called "the weapons effect" was conducted quite unscientifically.) Just imagine if he or one of his academic cohort were to proclaim: "Typewriters not only permit libel, they can stimulate it as well. The fingers tap the keys, but the keys may also be pulling the finger toward the keyboard by an unseen force, stimulating libel.” Any psychologist who trots out such nonsense needs to consult a psychiatrist.

I have a few questions for Dr. Berkowitz and his peers:

1.) What is the mechanical difference between a "target pistol" and a "murder weapon"?

2.) What is a "Nazi Luger"? Can a Luger pistol join the National Socialist party, and share their hatred of perceived Untermenschen and wish to exterminate them? By the same token, what is a "Communist AK-47"?

3.) How many people have been killed by guns without someone physically pulling the trigger? And in any very rare exception to the norm, was it a mechanical defect or negligent handling at fault, or did the gun really wish to do harm and "go off by itself."?

4.) Why have gun makers been sued for wrongful death because of murders committed with their products? (If a gun does indeed consistently fire a bullet at high velocity when the safety mechanism is disengaged and the trigger is pulled, then isn't that device working just as designed?)

5.) What, pray tell, is the distinguishing characteristics of an "assault" rifle, and what differentiates it from a "hunting" rifle? Does the attachment of a black plastic buttstock make a gun in any way more wicked, murderous, or bent on assault than attaching a pretty wooden stock?

6.) Is a magazine capacity of 16 rounds inherently more evil, criminal or sinister than a capacity of 15 rounds? (This was threshold that the geniuses in the Colorado legislature recently declared, complete with jail term penalties. OBTW, Canada set the threshold of evil at a mere five rounds, for semiautomatic long guns.)

Let step back and look at these tools logically and dispassionately: A firearm cartridge can be thought of as a simple single-use internal combustion engine, with a piston that does not reciprocate. Instead, it takes a one-way flight. The engine housing is a brass cartridge case, and the "vehicle" is the entire gun. The pistons as are called bullets. The fuel for these engines (gunpowder) creates the expanding gasses that drive the pistons. Cartridge firearms are compact vehicles for change that have shaped modern history. The righteousness of their use is entirely up to their users, since like any other tool they can be used both for good or for ill.  A firearm is just a tool with no volition. A rifle is no different than a claw hammer. To wit: A hammer can be used to build a house, or it can be used to bash in someone’s skull—the choice of uses is entirely up to the owner.  A bulldozer can be used to build roads, or to destroy houses. A rifle can be used to drill holes in paper targets, or to dispatch a marauding bear, or to murder your fellow man. Again, the choice of uses is entirely up to the user. But, alas, even though it is the 21st Century, we are still dealing with voodoo-like superstition. If you get angry or drunk and you then use your Chrysler car to run over a neighbor's child, should your neighbor then launch an organization called "The Coalition to Ban Chryslers," to punish all Chrysler owners?

I am also opposed to all so-called “gun control” laws because they are a form of prior restraint. The gun grabbers presuppose ill-intent on the part of law-abiding citizens and even the guns themselves. I find these laws akin to the concept of “pre-crime”—a term coined by science fiction novelist Phillip K. Dick, in his novel Minority Report. (It was later turned into a movie, starring Tom Cruise.)

If a firearm is used by a criminal or psychopath with evil intentions, then it is a tool for evil. But if it is used for good (to defend life and property), then it is a tool for good. A firearm by itself has no sentience, no volition, no moral force, and no politics. The proper term for this is an adiaphorous object--something that is neither good nor evil. A firearm is simply a cleverly-designed construction of metal, wood, and plastic in the form of a precision tool. Granted, a firearms magnifies the reach of a man's volition. But so does a long bow, and so does a telephone and the Internet. But to deride the tool itself instead of someone who abuses it is profoundly illogical and superstitious.

So why do they disparage the tool and not the one who wrongly wields it? Why isn't gasoline seen as evil, since Julio Gonzalez used it to kill 87 people at the Happy Land Club in his murderous arson, in 1990? And why aren't there calls to ban nitrogen fertilizer, since Timothy McVeigh used it to kill 168 people in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995? And shouldn't Boeing brand jet aircraft be banned, since they were used to take nearly 3,000 innocent lives on September 11, 2001? And aren't pressure cookers now the weapon of choice of Islamic terrorists?

Ever since the invention accurate rifled firearms, the course of human history has been set by the men who wield them. For someone to exclude themselves or seek to disenfranchise others from owning or carrying them is the most absurdly illogical and downright suicidal attitude imaginable. It is obvious that so-called "Gun Control" laws have nothing to do with the criminal misuse of guns, since criminals ignore all laws, by definition. Only honest, law-abiding citizens obey these laws. Rather, these laws are just about control--namely people control. Dictators cannot dictate unless they have unarmed subjects.

Here it is, in quintessence: You are either a man with a gun, or you are mere human cattle for the slaughter. The choice is yours. I prefer to be armed and vigilant rather than being at the mercy of some would-be slave master. There is no notch in my ear.

Because they are such useful tools, our founding fathers recognized the great importance of safeguarding our ownership, carry, and free use of arms. Like the printing press, they were specifically protected by the Bill of Rights. These enumerated rights should be taken at face value and not misconstrued. The Second Amendment is about protecting your right to go deer hunting the same way that the First Amendment is about protecting your right to publish poetry.

Please speak up when you see someone preaching voodoo gun hatred. Violence involving firearms is actually down 39% in the U.S. since 1993. But anti-gun rhetoric has recently been increasing. All of the "evil gun" talk is nothing more than an unfounded irrational fear and loathing that has no place in a modern society that recognizes facts and logic. Anyone who engages in this rhetoric should be immediately suspect. Odds are that they are halophantae with a hidden agenda. While they rail against an inanimate tool, I suspect that they are actually plotting against the liberty of a group of people with whom they disagree. They want to disarm you, so that they (or their hired armed thugs) will have a monopoly on force. And if the history of the 20th century taught us anything, it is that a monopoly on force inevitably leads to genocide. - JWR

A thoughtful EMT wrote me to ask:

Dr. Koelker:
What effect could you have on blood sugar for a diabetic (type 1) through blood transfusions? I am a paramedic, and our field treatment for high blood sugar is IV fluids until the hospital can give them insulin to lower the blood sugar. In a SHTF scenario, there is no hospital. The thought process got me thinking though....My questions are these:

1) What, if any effect could you have on lowering blood sugar through transfusions? i.e., basically finding a non-diabetic donor match, and swapping a couple pints of blood...the non-diabetic can process any sugar, and the diabetic gets blood sugar lowered by dilution.

2) Could you time a high sugar meal for the non-diabetic to manipulate the blood you were donating? Could you get enough glucose and insulin transfused to affect the diabetic’s intracellular glucose?

3) If the science and idea are valid, would it be able to have any appreciable effects or would you be re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic?

The idea intrigues me, because blood transfusion gear can store a lot longer than insulin.

Thank you- Eli
Here is my reply:
Excellent questions, Eli.  I’ve pondered the possibility myself and will offer my preliminary conclusions.
First, theoretically, the answer is yes, it could work. 
For example, in a scenario where, say, identical twins would essentially share the same pancreas, IV lines could be connected in a continuous system, allowing the diabetic’s blood to enter the non-diabetic’s system, with the “treated” blood being returned in equal amounts from the non-diabetic to the diabetic. 
This is not quite the same as swapping a couple pints of blood, as I’ll address below.
Eli’s preliminary questions raise several more:
1.      Who is a suitably-matched donor?
2.      Would a non-diabetic be the best donor? 
3.      How much blood would need to be transfused?
4.      How long would this arrangement work?
5.      Should the non-diabetic receive blood back in return?
6.      Should serum be used instead of blood?
7.      Could the blood be administered via a different route?
8.      Could non-human blood be used?
9.      Could God have left us a simpler answer for treating diabetes Type 1 than we’ve discovered to date?
To begin with the end, I believe #9 above could well be true.  Though science has investigated pancreatic transplantation, islet cell transplants, stem cell manipulation, and other high-tech options, no simple solutions have been found, but they yet may be out there.
And so, at TEOTWAWKI, what to do? 

(Before I go on, let me say don’t miss the March 13, 2013 SurvivalBlog article by AERC regarding Insulin Dependent Diabetics.  The author offers many excellent suggestions along with personal experience as a diabetic.)

But the question remains: what to do if no insulin is available?  Would transfusion work?
A few calculations will help explain:  In the non-diabetic, serum insulin levels average <30 microUnits/ml (that’s 0.000030 Units/ml), or 0.003 Units per liter of blood or serum.  (In a type 2 diabetic with insulin resistance, the serum insulin level may actually be higher than normal.)  If a type 1 diabetic requires 24 units of insulin/per day, that’s 1 unit/hour, or 0.0427 Units per minute, if my number-crunching is correct (and let me know if it’s not).    The calculations are actually quite complex, in part due to the half-life of insulin, along with multiple other factors. 
To simplify the computation enormously, if it takes a serum insulin level of around 10 microU/ml to metabolize a serum glucose level of 100 mg/dL, it would take about 5 times that much insulin (or non-diabetic blood) to regulate a serum glucose level of 500.  To treat a diabetic’s blood sugar of 1000 could require all the insulin within a non-diabetic’s circulatory system – and clearly you can’t donate all your blood multiple times a day (except in the shared-pancreas arrangement described above).
If a diabetic’s blood glucose level of 900 were suddenly diluted 50:50 with a non-diabetic’s blood (which isn’t really possible), this would decrease the level to around 400 mg/dL to start, then perhaps 50 points further due to transfused insulin . . . but only for a very short time, on the order of hours at best.  And in order to administer this much blood, an equal amount would have to be removed via blood-letting.

Given an unlimited blood supply and ICU-level nursing, perhaps this could be accomplished, but considering factors likely to be present at TEOTWAWKI, the challenges appear to be insurmountable.

Additionally, to answer a few more of my own questions above:
1.      In the identical twins shared-pancreas scenario, with blood going in and out of each person, blood typing is not a problem.  However, for others to share blood back and forth, both the diabetic and non-diabetic would need to be compatible to both donate and receive blood.  Simple ABO/Rh typing does not prevent all transfusion reactions, and of course even correct typing does not eliminate the possibility of infection or fluid overload.  Still, in a life-or-death situation, with a supply of insulin expected to be available shortly, it could be considered.  (Make sure to obtain a blood donation compatibility chart if you would consider transfusion for any reason.  You’ll either need to know everyone’s blood type ahead of time, or learn how to crossmatch it yourself.)
2.      Theoretically a normal weight or an overweight person, even a mild Type 2 diabetic with insulin resistance, could serve as the donor.
3.      Serum alone is not likely to work because transfusion alone is not really feasible.  The only way I see transfusion working is the shared-pancreas scenario already described. 
Next, what about non-human blood?
Animal-to-human blood transfusions have been tried hundreds of years ago, but were often fatal, and assuredly would be fatal using large volumes of blood.
But could the insulin within, say, a gallon of cow blood be put to use some other way?  
Theoretically, maybe so.  The blood would need to be centrifuged promptly to remove the cells, since the blood cells themselves remain metabolically active until they begin to break down.  The serum could be further concentrated by evaporation at room temperatures (with careful attention to sterile technique).  The resulting insulin-containing liquid should not be given intravenously but might be effective via a rectal infusion, high in the anus (see Oral Insulin (Swallowed) and Rectal Insulin Suppository for Diabetics by T.R. Shantha, MD, PhD, FACA).
Although insulin does not degrade when given rectally as it does when given orally, absorption is a potential problem.  Although some insulin is absorbed rectally, I can find no answer to whether bovine insulin would be – but it might work.

Another possibility would be an enema of blenderized bovine (cow) pancreas, though the pancreatic enzymes might irritate or even perforate the colon – perhaps a reader would like to try this experiment on rats or rabbits before trying it on themselves.  Allergic reactions are also a concern.

The earliest treatment of hypothyroid patients involved implanting (not transplanting) sheep thyroid tissue into a patient.  Surprisingly, it worked.  So could the same idea work with insulin-dependent diabetes?  Again, I don’t know, and again the pancreatic enzymes could be a problem.  But it might work, to a degree.  Perhaps a curious reader would be interested in trying this experiment on their diabetic pet.  Answers simply cannot be obtained without experiments (some of which end badly for the subject). 

Transdermal insulin use has also been studied, but requires ultrasound or iontophoresis for transport through the skin.  Could a slurry of pancreas be used on the skin?  We just don’t know – I doubt it’s been tried.  The pancreatic enzymes may irritate the skin.  Alternatively, the same enzymes may aid insulin absorption.  Insulin itself has some deleterious effects when applied topically.  But if the choice is death or experimentation, necessity becomes the mother of invention. 

In summary, the analogy of re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic is probably valid regarding using transfusion to lower blood sugar, but if I had a child with Type 1 diabetes, I’d be motivated enough to start experimenting, maybe even learn how to follow Banting’s recipe for insulin.  And I’d do some hard praying about stem cells – the answer to a new pancreas lies within our bodies; how to unleash it is the only question. 

About the Author: Dr. Cynthia Koelker is SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor. her web site is

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole, Volume One: Nothing That Eats
By Franklin Sanders
Copyright: 2012
ISBN 978-1-938817-06-9

Although there is a long standing link at JWR's Investing page to his Moneychanger web site, not every SurvivalBlog reader may know of Franklin Sanders. His stories will either have an air of familiarity or yearning to follow in his footsteps. Christian, father of seven, farmer, historian, husband, outlaw, and reenactor are all facets to this interesting man.
This is first of three planned books. It solidly weighs in with a hefty 379 pages. There’s something nice about picking up a paperback that is well made.  There are also a Kindle, ePub, and pdf versions available for those who like the weightless version.
Franklin Sanders wrote the Moneychanger Newsletter every month. In it, he included a section about his personal life. In putting this book together he made a conscience decision to print what he wrote at the time. This is a unique perspective in that most writers would use their notes as a basis and then write history, often years or decades later, as viewed from today. Ask a six year old to what happened to him that day and it might include a story about monsters in the closet. That same writer at twenty-six would likely not tell the tale for fear of looking silly. As you read the book you will get a sense of truthfulness you would not normally expect from someone writing about himself. 
Franklin’s Christian beliefs run deep. One could say that he is exuberant in his faith and it shows in his writings. To some, the interspersed Biblical references and quotes may be off-putting, but it is key part of who Franklin is. In no way do these times come off as condescending or preaching which makes for a pleasant read.
Another thing that makes this book a pleasant read is the way it is laid out. The sections are headed by the month and year it was published. The length may be a page or a few pages long. Franklin’s writing style is straightforward and easy to read. This combined with monthly sections will have the reader flying along through the adventures.
One interesting thread through the book relates to the Y2K bug. For the younger readers, Y2K or year 2000 bug was a crisis in the late 1990s relating to computer programs in their ability to understand the difference between 2-digit year abbreviation (such as 00) versus 4-digit (such as 2000.) Possible catastrophes included all bank account information being lost to public utilities being turned off.  There always tends to be a looming danger in the near future and it is interesting to see how the Sanders family dealt with this example.
Franklin is an interesting man and that reflects in his monthly sections. One month may have you reading about a sow and her piglets, touring America, or the Civil War, I mean, the War of Northern Aggression reenactment as he plays a Southerner. There is always something of interest to read about.

The move to country life or homesteading has become more poplar in the last decade as many people realize the substantial benefits of this lifestyle. The Sanders Family began this journey almost 15 years ago. Like many fish-out-of-water tales, this book has plenty of humorous episodes as they relearn what most of our great-grandparents would have thought as being common sense. Read what he does with 2,000 pounds of Y2K rice for a good chuckle.

W. C Fields, American actor and comedian (1880-1946), was once quoted as saying "Never work with children or animals."The folly of both is bound to drive any sane person crazy when you are trying to get things done on time. Both surround the Sanders. As I am sure Franklin has said to himself many times that God never gives us more than we can handle. Weather it is children that move back home,
horses that bolt off with heavy equipment, pigs refusing to be corralled, or disappearing chickens there were plenty of challenges facing this homesteader.

For the life of me, ever since I was a little boy, who regularly carried some kind of folding knife, could I understand how a "switchblade" knife (read: automatic opening knife) is any more dangerous than any other knife. Somehow, I think we have Hollywood to thank for this nonsense going back many, many years, where they portrayed gang members using a switchblade to intimidate or kill someone. How on earth one can justify how a folding knife opens, to how lethal it is, is beyond my comprehension. I've said this many times in the past in my knife articles, and that is, I can draw my folding knife from my pocket, and open it faster, with a flick of my wrist, than I can an automatic folder. On an automatic folder, you have to index the knife and then find the sweet spot - the button - on the handle and then press it to open the knife. Still, I like automatic folders - and not because they open faster - they don't - at least not for me.
Many states ban the mere possession of an automatic opening knife - even if you keep it in your home. In my home state of Oregon, where automatic folders are made, and where they are legal to carry, many, many police officers mistakenly believe that an automatic opening folder is illegal. Ignorance is bliss!
Almost a year ago, I received the H&K Entourage automatic opening folder - a "switchblade" for testing. I never carried this knife, but kept it on my desk, and it was used almost daily for opening FedEx and UPS packages, as well as other chores around the house and homestead. To be honest, I had completely forgotten that I received this knife for testing for an article on SurvivalBlog - I just kept on using the knife daily, and it slipped my mind that I was to write this article about the knife - until I found the paperwork in a pile of papers on my desk from Benchmade Knives - who makes the H&K "Entourage." So, I figured I'd best get this article written.
First of all, it is a testament to how useful the Entourage was for daily chores around the house. Yes, it is faster opening, when I picked it up off my desk - as opposed to having to dig into my pants pocket to get my regular folding knife out to use all the time. The Entourage was just "there" all the time for me. What we have is a 3.74-inch 440C stainless steel blade, with a Rockwell hardness of 58-60 - and this is a bit hard, but the edge stays sharp a good long time - only problems I've ever encountered with 440C stainless steel is, it takes some work to get the edge back to hair-popping sharpness. However, I don't let my knife get very dull to start with. Unless I'm doing an intentionally destructive test, I keep a keen edge on my knives at all times.
The handle scales are made out of 6061-T6 anodized black aluminum. And, I should mention that, the blade on the Entourage is a Tanto style, which is one of my favorites. There is also a pocket clip on the handle scales, should you elect to carry the Entourage in your pants pocket. My sample had the plain edge, but you can also get a partially serrated edge, and those serrations really help out when cutting cardboard or rope.
There are friction points on the top and butt of the handle scales, that greatly aid in getting a secure grip on the knife in many different styles of knife fighting holds. And, there is a very slight upward angle on the front top of the handle scales for proper thumb placement in the fencing grip. On the bottom front of the handle scales, there are also friction points for proper placement of your index finger in the fencing grip. Closed length of the Entourage is 4.70-inches and opened it is 8.44-inches and it weighs-in at 4.50-ounces--not too heavy and not too light.
The button used for opening the Entourage is large enough that you can easily make contact with it with your right thumb, and there is an enhanced spring design for improved and faster opening times of the blade. I found my sample had the front pivot pin just a tad too tight, and it only took about half a turn with a Torx head driver, to get the tension a bit looser and more to my own liking. The blade seemed a bit slow springing out of the handle scales - but now it is perfect. And, during almost a year of testing and daily use, I never once had to re-adjust the tension on the front pivot pin.
I liked the black anodized handle scales, there were also grooves milled into the handle scales for a more secure grip. With the blackened blade, the knife has a very "tactical" look to it - very cool! On the top of the Entourage's handle scales, you will also find a sliding safety button - to lock the blade solidly open or closed - making this a virtual "fixed" blade folder in the locked open position.
I've mentioned this before, but thought I'd mention it again, for new SurvivalBlog readers. Some Preppers mistakenly believe that all survival situations call for bugging out to the boonies - such is not the case. If you live in the big city, you are more apt to need survival tools on a daily basis, and one tool I find useful on a daily basis is a folding knife. The Entourage isn't a wilderness survival knife - it's not designed or meant for that type of use, However, if you life in a big city, having a very well made Every Day Carry (EDC) folder is a handy thing to have. I just read a report this morning, about a group of more than 100 teens, who went on a rampage in downtown Chicago - my birth town, and people were attacked by this group. There is such a thing as disparity of force - which means basically, if you are outnumbered, you can use more force to fend off your attackers. In this case, when you are faced with multiple attackers, you would be justified in using a knife to defend yourself with.
The Entourage would make an outstanding EDC folder, it's well-made, strong, and it is priced at $170 - which is a very good price for a Benchmade produced knife. And, if you are into collecting logo knives, the H&K line is very collectible. I played with my Entourage for almost a year, and the blade was opened and closed thousands of times, and there wasn't a sign of the button or spring failing or working loose. Check out an Entourage, if you can legally own one in your locale or state. I think you'll be pleased with the Entourage. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

James Wesley;
I'm worried about keeping farm machinery operating, in a long-term TEOTWAWKI whammy. Some of my equipment is horse-drawn and a full century old. God forbid we go through a multi-generational scenario like you've talked about. How will we repair broken metal, or cast metal, or join metal ('cept drilling and nuts and bolts)? Obviously arc welding is out, unless someone has a huge solar battery bank, and I'm not at that Pay Grade. (I live almost paycheck to paycheck, other than a seasonal bump when I sell hay each year.) And gas welding will be non-functional once the available welding gas supplies run out. I also saw the SurvivalBlog piece on the giant fresnel lens solar oven (for aluminum casting) but beyond that I'm stumped. What am I missing? Thanks for your time, - Rod C.

JWR Replies: Missing? In a word: Thermite. (The formerly patented trade name was "Thermit.") Thermite welding is a simple process that just employs a mixture of iron oxide powder and aluminum powder to create what my high school teacher called "a vigorous exothermic reaction." It is most commonly used to join railroad tracks, using specialized molds and tooling. (Thermited tracks don't have that traditional "clickety-clack" sound.) The only fairly exotic material needed is magnesium ribbon, to ignite the mixture. An Aside: My #1 Son found that a Blast Match or Sparkie fire starter (both sold by several of our advertisers) works just fine as an igniter, just by itself.

The iron oxide and aluminum powders needed for thermite welding can even be produced locally, albeit very laboriously, with materials from your local automobile wrecking yard. (Hint: Look for aluminum "Mag" wheels.) Welding with thermite can be tricky: If you use too little or if you don't contain the "puddle" properly, then you don't get a good weld. If you use too much, then you destroy the parent metal. Practice a lot now with scrap metal so that you don't make costly mistakes, later.

Warning! All the usual safety provisos for welding apply, and then some! Thermite burns at thousands of degrees and looking directly at the reaction can cause permanently-blinding retinal burns. You'll need welding goggles. Since a thermite reaction creates its own oxygen, unless you have a Class D fire extinguisher there is basically no effective way to fight a thermite fire. (Without a Class D extinguisher you have to just wait until it burns out--although cooling it with a CO2 extinguisher helps a bit.) Also, keep in mind that if a glob of burning thermite contacts water or even just mud, it can cause an instantaneous steam explosion that will throw burning thermite in all directions. Also, using finely-ground thermite powder, or any sort of expanding gas containment can also cause thermite explosions, so use extreme caution. And if you aren't wearing welding clothes and dark welding goggles when igniting thermite, then you are foolish. After mixing or otherwise handling loose thermite powder be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before using it. (Setting your thermite-powdered hands on fire would be a Very Bad Thing.)

Thermite has many other clever uses, as described, in my novel Patriots. (The Mythbusters guys demonstrate overkill.)

Reprints of two old thermite welding references now that are now in the public domain are available from They are:

Thermit Welding Process 1914 by Richard N. Hart


Thermit Welding (A series of articles revealing the art and science of welding) by Ethan Vial

Thermite welding is also briefly described in the free Kindle e-book: Oxy-Acetylene Welding and Cutting Electric, Forge and Thermit Welding together with related methods and materials used in metal working and the oxygen process, by Harold P. Manly.

An inexpensive source for iron oxide powder, aluminum powder, and magnesium ribbon with excellent customer service is They have been a SurvivalBlog advertiser since early 2011, and I must mention that I have had ZERO complaints about the company, since then. They have satisfied thousands of SurvivalBlog-reader customers. AlphaChem now packages most of their iron oxide powder and aluminum powder in resealable heavy duty mylar pouches. This keeps everything neat and dry. They double package and discreetly ship via UPS in boxes that just have one small blue "ORM-D" safety label. (The binary components are not classified as pyrotechnics until after you mix the component powders yourself.)

Because of its weight, any casting equipment (molds, crucibles, refiner's sand, etc.) is best found locally, from an industrial supply company, or better yet used, via Craigslist. And of course terra cotta clay pots are available at garage sales or your local garden supply store.

Lastly, keep in mind that if you are planning to cast metal with Thermite, then wet sand or damp clay processes cannot be used. (See my previous warning about instantaneous steam explosions.) Your molds must be quite dry!

I'm writing in response to: Selecting a Prepper's Firearms, by Frog. First I can say that I like the idea of adding a Bushnell red dot to a few of my 'tools' - I wanted to add one with out getting stuff that would fail, and have been unwilling to buy anything overly expensive due to today's crazy market with it's inflated prices.  Red dot scope for say a 10-22 with a folding stock would be perfect match. (and it's around $100) - totally good call.

I only see a few issues with selection of firearms like the glock pistols and Remington 870 ( I have one - love it too.) - just one thing about Glocks I didn't like, and it might very well be my fault because they were my first reloads back a few years ago...- these are great accurate shooting pistols with stock factory ammo. I gave my reloads (that worked great in my Ruger P95DC) to a friend to shoot when he ran out of ammo, his Glock choked on them, badly enough that my friend had trouble clearing the ammo with out the aid of my leatherman.  That was not a good day, for him...glad we were only putting holes in paper.

It is just worth mentioning that some pistols have tight tolerances, and reloaded ammo might cause issues... When times are bad, reloads might be more prevalent might not work in them as well as stock factory ammo. Almost all ammo has a warning on it saying not to use reloaded ammo.

Being as it was one of my early loads before I started using a 'case' gauge, it could have been all me... reloaders might want to take note and invest in case gauges to prevent that same pop a finished round in the case gauge to test the brass for fit... if it fits in the gauge it should work in anything standard for what your testing. This should be one of the last steps before storing rounds you've reloaded up for use.

I started loading ammo back in 2003 or 2004- and like I said even if his Glock didn't like reloads my used Ruger would eat them all day.  This issue is why I have gauges for 9mm, .223, .308, .30-06 - and anything else I'm planning on loading I would plan on buying now, before things get bad...I'm not saying don't buy a Glock, or one pistol is better then another, any pistol is better then no pistol at all - I'm just saying be aware that some pistols and rifles are finicky in what you can use in them. How you use that information is your call - like be prepared and have a good supply of stock ammo, and only feed it stock ammo if you already know reloads might have issues. You should take the time now in good times to figure out will your selected defense weapon work with reloads, because in the future... (Ah you got me...  ammo is already scarce!) you'll want to know.

[JWR Adds: Glocks are notoriously temperamental with cast lead bullets and copper washed lead bullets in reloads, and the occasional expensive and potentially dangerous "Glock Ka-Boom" can be expected with their use.]

The other note is the first thing a guy/gal should do when buying an 870 is get an aluminum tube replacement for that little plastic piece that pushes the shells up in the shell holder... the plastic ones wear out at the worst times- so that is worth mentioning too.  Someone I know gave me this advice when I got my 870 home defense shotgun. Good advice is worth repeating.

And finally, sure! - if I could afford a PTR91 with lots of cheap mags I'd have purchased one already... that weapon was close to $2,000 before the prices inflated, it's probably way out of my price range now. Get what ever you can get, learn how it works, practice with it, take care of it well.- Fitzy in Pennsylvania

Dear Editor:
I used to be much more of a seamstress than I am now, but I’m getting back into it as I can’t find clothes I like (modern women’s pants all want to fall off my butt) and I am sewing my own gear to save money.  This article will focus on repurposing fabric items that are worn out or that you don’t want anymore, into other fabric items that are more useful for a SHTF situation.

Don’t throw out old clothes, even if they’re stained or otherwise unwearable.  Even clean old underwear can be repurposed into rags or stuffing for pillows.  You can take the hook and eye parts of old bras, and use them in other underwear projects or for mending.  You can remove the zippers, elastic, buttons, etc. of old clothes, and keep them for future projects.  You can even save good strong thread if you are careful deconstructing something.

If you want to dye something that is a natural fiber a different color, you can learn about plant dyes, or there is a kind of dye called procion dye.  The mordant (fixer) for that kind of dye is washing soda, which you can buy at the grocery store in the laundry soap aisle.  This dye is the kind that people who make tie-dyes use, it comes in all different colors including earth tones – you can make your own camo if need be that way, out of your existing clothes.  I used to get mine at Dharma Trading Co. which is online, but there may be other sellers.  To conserve dye, it is much more economical to squirt or spray the dye onto your garment than to vat-dye it, unless you are doing a really big batch all the same color.

If you find elastic eventually wears out and becomes unavailable, you can make drawstrings instead out of strips of fabric and modify your clothes to accept drawstrings.

You can make socks out of old sweaters or sweatshirts.  You don’t even need to know how to knit, if you can cut and sew it so it doesn’t unravel.  (I recommend zigzag stitch). Or in a pinch you can wrap a rag around your foot and stuff it in a shoe like that, but why not have something that is shaped like a sock?

Old pants legs with minimal sewing can make good bags, pouches, aprons, pillows, book covers, gaiters, or panels for bodices.  They could even be made into hammocks or cots if you have enough of them, which if bedbugs take over the world or if you end up being nomadic, you’ll be getting rid of your mattresses eventually anyway.  One thing I haven’t seen yet is a denim plate carrier.  One might fasten a 550 steel target to the inside of the bib of a pair of overalls, as an improvised rifle plate. (but pad the inside of the steel too).

You can make tactical gear or smaller bags out of old luggage you cut apart.  Many suitcases are made from Cordura.  You can save the straps from knapsacks to use for webbing or slings.  Even outdoor upholstery fabric remnants would work, but to get Cordura, the “real thing”, without ordering it, look to the luggage at the thrift store.

You can also hide clothes or gear by making them into cushions.  How about a “bolster-holster” for your rifle?  How about a piece of web gear that is reversible?  One minute it’s a purse or satchel or pillow, the next it’s your vest.   How many sets of clothes can you stuff into a seat cushion?

Back to quilts for a second, the Army poncho liner is nothing more than a thin quilt with a head hole in the middle.  It’s camo lightweight nylon with thin polyfil for batting, a few strings at the corners, and bound on the edges.  You could make something similar.  If you didn’t mind the extra weight, you could use some thin wool, maybe in two layers, and sandwich that between nylon to make it ride smoother.  It would probably be a lot warmer than polyfil, although if you were running around it might get too hot.

If you don’t have a pattern, you can make your own shirt and dress patterns by draping cheap fabric on a dress dummy or a person and pinning it, drawing on it, adding to it, cutting it, etc. You can sew a mock-up and then take it apart and there’s your pattern, only made of fabric instead of tissue paper.  And of course, once you are done with the pattern you can reuse the fabric.

You can make yourself a custom dress dummy by wearing an old T-shirt and wrapping your torso with duct tape, cutting your way out of it and taping the cut back together, then stuffing it.  I suppose if you stuff it with heavy enough stuff, you could also chain it to a door frame and use it as a punching bag when you get frustrated trying to drape cheap fabric on it (just make sure the pins are all out).

Last but not least, it might be slow, but you can always hand sew clothes if you don’t have a machine.  Sometimes I find my machine can’t handle real thick things, and all at the same time I had 3 or 4 projects that would have required a walking foot machine, which is an industrial sewing machine designed for thick fabric, where the presser foot goes up and down with every stitch.  Instead of looking for a walking foot machine, which is expensive, I hand sewed what I needed to, and made due.  You can also hand baste things like quilts, to hold them together before you quilt them for real.  It keeps the layers from migrating too much. - Penny Pincher

S.A.'s Canned Chicken Recipe

A well-tested recipe adapted from another Air Force wife at England AFB, Louisiana, a base now long-closed. Even picky eaters like this one.

If things do ever go as predicted, knowing how up use your stores efficiently and effectively will be important. The current way of eating with a separate large meat serving, servings of vegetables piled on a plate might become a memory. Cooks will revert to traditional peasant and poor people foods that stretch ingredients, such as soups and casseroles. (Don't worry, in my home we are never without homemade soups, a pot of beans, and casseroles in the fridge. This is how I was raised.)

Are you using your canned chicken stores? Those chickens take some getting used to, but it is possible to cook with them and mask the tinned flavor and stringy texture. It's like canned tuna: very different from the fresh product, but with a good recipe can be made palatable. Learn to cook with your stores now in order to be happier in an uncertain future.

The following cold salad recipe is easy, tasty, and uses few ingredients.

Chicken Rice-a-Roni Salad
(a pasta dish using a bit of chicken)
serves 10-12

1 box Chicken Rice-a-Roni
1 13 oz can of chicken (like those from Sam's Club or Wal-mart)
6 green onions
1bell pepper
1 bunch of celery (as many ribs as you like. I use five ribs, since I like celery.)
1medium jar marinated artichoke hearts

Drain artichoke marinade into a bowl.
Open chicken can, drain, give can juice to the dog, rinse, break chicken pieces up with your fingers. Cover with marinade, stir to cover and coat the chicken well, and let sit while you prep the other ingredients.
Cook Rice-a-Roni according to package.  (Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet, add Rice-a-Roni and brown vermicelli pasta pieces until golden.  Add 2.5 cups of water, the seasoning packet, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, cook 15-20 minutes until rice is tender.) Allow to cool.

Dice the green onions, bell pepper, and celery. Put the chicken and marinade mixture in a small electric chopper and pulse in batches until not so stringy. Do not turn this into a purée, it should still have some texture. (This step could be done manually with a knife or other piece of kitchen equipment.)

In a large bowl, mix the cooled Rice-A-Roni, chicken and marinade, onions, celery, bell pepper, and artichokes. Stir well. Add mayonnaise as needed to flavor and bind.  You may or may not need much or any, depending on the size of the marinated artichoke jar you used. Cover and refrigerate this the night before to allow flavors to meld.

Chef's Notes:

This is a good and flavorful bad times recipe which can utilize a small can of chicken; fresh, dehydrated, or freeze dried vegetables; pasta/rice package; and a jar of marinated artichokes. Omitting the mayonnaise would make this a good grid down recipe as you probably have bell pepper and onions from your own garden.

Some might not like the sodium load, but we don't eat this daily. This recipe is just another defense against appetite fatigue.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Canned Chicken Recipes

Start With Canned Chicken--Quick and Easy Recipes

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

The latest talk on Wall Street is that the Federal Reserve, in coordination with the U.S. Treasury plans to "taper off" from their Quantitative Easing MBS derivatives purchases. But this chart tells the real story.: St. Louis Adjusted Monetary Base (AMBNS) Chart. Do you want the truth? The Fed is about as likely to successfully "taper off" of QE about as well as your local junkie is to "taper off" of crack cocaine.

David Roche: Another Crisis Coming, Worse Than the Last. (Thanks to M.E.W. for the link.)

B.B. sent this predictable news: Square Drops All Firearm and Ammunition Retailers. One good alternative: Platinum Payment System.

Items from The Economatrix:

What an Internet Sales Tax Will Cost You

New Rule Signals Kiss of Death for Pensions

Job Market Resilience Eases Growth Concerns

Payroll Data!  The Plough Horse Recovery

Somehow I missed this well-written review article when it was first posted by Commander Zero, three years ago: Review – Allied Armament X-91 drum magazine. By the way, I don't consider HK drum magazines a cost-efficient use of your funds. Why? Because presently, for the price of just one of these 50-round drums, you can buy more than 200 of the ubiquitous 20 round alloy magazines. There is great utility in redundancy.

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F.G. mentioned a great piece in Backwoods Home: Keeping food cold: solutions to refrigeration when electricity is scarce

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Wednesday is the last day of Camping Survival's Mountain House Sale. They are offering Mountain House nitrogen-packed cans at 25% off and pouches and long term storage HDPE buckets at 15% off. Place your order soon!

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FWIW, I'm looking forward to seeing Ender's Game much more than I am seeing the umpteenth Star Trek movie. Even if the movie captures only a fraction of the epic novel, then it will still be great.

"The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope." - General Robert E. Lee

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

This article intends to uncover mechanisms to assist the reader in self-help, self-mastery, and self- improvement.  The topics covered are meant to provide discovery of self- improvement ideas, identification of some techniques to improve your life, and give the reader further tools to pursue a deeper dive into the subject.  The reader will come out of this article with an awareness of the many topics to improve their thoughts, feelings, emotions, physiology, and performance.  The article pulls from sports medicine, psychology, martial arts, health and fitness, and self-help guides.  To really master some of these topics, it is highly encouraged to revisit this article from time to time, discuss these ideas with peers, relatives, friends, neighbors, and practice each day until the self-help tool is internalized into positive habits.  It is also recommended to take unfamiliar words and look them up throughout this article to understand the concept behind the idea.

So why discuss self-help and self-improvement?  At the core of this article is honing our natural ability to adapt and overcome any situation.  We are given both a naturally honed and God given gift to survive and adapt.  The current lingo of today’s expression of this idea is resiliency.  Call it what you like, but those that have adapted tend to survive longer, live healthier, and pass on to future generations a greater propensity to survive, adapt, and overcome.  I feel it is the single most defining mechanism, if highly developed, gives the best chance of living a meaningful, healthy, and thriving life.  It is my intent to introduce ideas about improving your body, mind, and psychology to not only survive, but to thrive. 

My background in these topics comes from 25 years of serving our great nation in combat and peace time for the Army and National Guard.  I also worked for a fortune 500 company for 10 years as a chemist (and sat on numerous panels that discussed root cause analysis, chemical disaster response, and Six Sigma), earned a black belt while teaching adults and children Tae Kwon Do, and being a leader throughout.  Recently I had the honor to attend the Master Resiliency Trainer’s Course for the Army that provided instructor level mastery of self-help.  Much of my experiences with self-help come from mentoring foreign armies and leaders on how to improve.  I have been a trainer for the Latvian Army, a combat advisor to the Afghan Army and Police, and worked with the Liberian Army to improve their post-conflict situation after the civil war.  Stateside I have trained American Service Members on counter terrorism, counter insurgency, and agribusiness best practices.   I have taken my natural propensity to help others and melded into my professional and personal life.

Last year I realized something was terribly wrong.  Mentally I was quickly snapping to conclusions and had a muddled brain, I couldn’t control my emotions and would snap, physically I was getting sick with colds and I looked like a balloon.  Spiritually I was lost and could not find center and was not at peace.  Professionally I was holding it together, but privately my family and I suffered.  I had spent years teaching people how to improve their lives, and yet my life was falling apart.  For years I had been a runner, weight lifter, martial artist, cyclist, rifleman, and led an active lifestyle.  This culminated with a bone break in my hand while playing ball with my daughter.  I asked myself, “Am I really this weak, that my bones are so fragile, that they break when throwing a ball around?”  That experience was an eye opener, and started my journey to improving my life beginning with diet and exercise.    

Nutrition, Diet, and Exercise
It would be irresponsible to not include a disclaimer before talking about life style changes and recommendations.  We must consider and critically analyze any serious endeavor such as nutrition, diet, and exercise, and determine if it’s right for you as an individual.  What works for some people may not work so well in others, and can potentially have unwanted consequences.  Consult with a doctor, physician, nutritionist, or medical professional before beginning a new program like this article suggests.  Get your blood work done to determine any deficiencies or problems, an annual physical, and seek regular advice from the professionals.   For some of the bad rap western medicine gets from over medication and big pharma business, there are numerous advantages to seeking traditional medical care.

I love fat, all kinds of fat from bacon fat, to pecans and walnuts, to creamers and cheese, and everything in-between.  As a kid I used to sneak my mom’s coffee creamer drinking it right out of the jug.  I loved fat so much my parents and friends thought I was strange.  Over time I was taught that fat was bad, especially animal fat.  My gym teacher in 8th grade introduced us to the food pyramid and why it was important to eat 6 helpings of grains and carbs a day.  These ideas of a high-carb, low to no fat, and small amounts of protein diet were reinforced daily in television ads, billboards, in teachers, parents, adults, and peers.  Maybe I was weird, and everybody else was right, so I changed. 

The point is we have been conditioned psychologically to believe carbs and sugars are actually good for you.  We all intuitively know the opposite is true, that fats and protein should be our core diet.  The Paleolithic man lived for thousands of years on a diet consisting of animal meat and fat.  Our brains are encased in roughly 6 pounds of fat.  Every major organ in our body has a layer of fat.  Your nerves are encased in goo.  There is a layer of fat under your skin.  You have fat everywhere on your body, and guess what; it’s actually good for you.  People have stigmatized fat so much that I feel I have to say it over and over to get the point across. Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat!  Increase the amount of fat and protein in our diets, and leave that highly processed garbage food on the shelf. 

Ever notice in a grocery store that the stuff actually good for you tends to be on the outer wall?  The natural, fatty, and protein stuff is usually on the outer wall, (and in coolers).  All the garbage food that contains sugars, starches, carbs, and chemicals tend to be in the middle  I don’t know if grocery stores design it that way because of the electricity outlets for the coolers, or if there is something more nefarious going on with marketing-it doesn’t matter. Did you know that soda contains phosphoric acid, the same acid used in car batteries?  The point is the bases for improving your life come from eating the correct nutrition that our common ancestors ate; God didn’t give us bicuspid teeth to gnaw on tofu, so bite into some bacon and be happy.  For further study see Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, or similar diets that preach meat and fat.

We are awash in chemical toxicity.  There are synthetic chemicals in our soaps we wash our babies in, sweet smelling shampoo that contains petroleum products that makes our Suzy’s and Sally’s go bald, optical brighteners and synthetic chemicals in our laundry soap, MSG in our food, fluoride in our toothpaste, petroleum in our vitamins, and even synthetic additives in our ice cream.  We are so awash in chemicals from big business it’s hard to find a product that does not contain synthetic chemicals of one sort or another.  Our household cleaners contain so much toxicity it warns the user not to mix it with other chemicals, and to use in well ventilated rooms.  Does that sound like something you should touch in the first place?  

Reduce our toxicity by realizing anything derived from petroleum products that touch our skin or we swallow is potentially harmful in the long run.  Be very picky about your bar soap, shampoo, deodorant, and read the labels before you buy.  It’s too easy in this day and age to look at a product’s label, pull out your smart phone, and look up a particular additive or ingredient on the internet.  Why own a smart phone if you don’t use it to get smarter?  Decrease toxicity by using modern tools such as smart phones to increase awareness of harmful additives and ingredients.  Look for natural remedies and ingredients and choose the healthier of two products as much as possible.  Sodium Bi-carbonate and white vinegar do wonders for cleaning up the house, as well as Pine Oil.  Borax and Sodium Bi-carbonate gets your whites whiter.  Use Johnson’s Bar Soap or similar natural soap that touches your skin and get rid of the synthesized fragrances.  I’m sorry, I’ll admit it; I still use the nice smelling deodorant that contains aluminum (and toxic over long periods of time), but we’re all not perfect right?  Along with reducing toxicity, increase the ability to fight off toxicity, infection, sickness, and the like by increasing our vitamin, herbs, and supplement intake. 

One way to reduce your personal toxicity is to increase the amount of cilantro intake.  Besides tasting good in pesto and Mexican dishes, this natural herb has reportedly the ability to remove Mercury and heavy metals from the body.  Next time your tomato crop comes in, think about making a pesto of tomato, peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro.  I put cilantro in my morning protein milk shakes from time to time for that extra zip and benefit all day long. 

I have to admit my diet of meats and fats leaves missing components out of a healthy food lifestyle.  I also fall off the wagon from time to time and eat stuff that contains the synthesized chemicals because it tastes so good.  To combat these slides into chemical oblivion, I started taking vitamins, herbs, and supplements.  There are a core group of vitamins that really ramp up our body’s natural healing, buffers our body from bad chemicals, and potentially increase our ability to survive and thrive. 

The first is plain old Vitamin C.  I’m not going to get into why our government only recommends 75-90 milligrams a day, but will pitch the idea of dramatically increasing your amount to 500 milligrams a day.  The potential upside of taking the increased amount of C more than offsets the negative effects it has by taking such large quantities, (some people get stomach irritation from taking large amounts).  Some of the time it’s plain not practical to eat 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, so consuming this pill takes care of part of that. 

The Vitamin C pill should not be considered a first choice, because the pill lacks the live enzymes and phytochemicals you get from fresh fruit and vegetables.  But taking Vitamin C at 500 milligrams may provide protection from cardiovascular disease, immune system deficiencies, eye disease, and skin wrinkling.   The natural way to get Vitamin C is to take in 1 cup of Orange juice (and not Orange sugar drink), red/green/black peppers at ½ cup each (my momma always said eat the rainbow son), 1 cup of Tomato juice, Red Cabbage, Kiwi, and Cantaloupe. These fresh fruits and vegetables put not only the Vitamin C in your diet, but also put positive enzymes in your gut as well.

The sun is evil, and you should stay out of the sun or your skin will burst with cancer.  We have been conditioned to think that sunshine and its benefits are actually bad for us.  Ever wonder why grandma and grandpa break their hips when they attempt to stand up?  Is it a sign of old age, or does living in a cave turn them into withering hobbits and dwarfs?  Get out in the sun, people!  As with anything in life, moderation is the key.  Sunshine is the preferred way to get Vitamin D barring any skin problems. 

Vitamin D3 is the most beneficial of the D Vitamins that provides a natural hormone to control phosphorus, calcium, and bone metabolism.  Vitamin D3 is considered a natural hormone that if the body is deficient, can lead to depression, back pain, cancer, impaired immunity, and macular degeneration.  If your skin is too sensitive for the sun, or you’re stuck in your cubicle working for the man 12 hours a day, consider taking natural D3.  The government recommends from 200-600 International Units (IU’s) per day.  My personal choice was to take much more than that due to my once weak bones.  The doctor can pull a blood test and determine where you are sitting with Vitamin D, so get the test before considering taking extra doses.  I strongly urge the reader to look up the benefits and potential harmful effects of taking several thousand IU’s a day.  I found for my health and body 6,000-10,000 IU’s a day works (10X or more than the government recommends).  There are so many benefits to this Vitamin that this article would be too long if explained.  Vitamin D is fat soluble, and goes into your body where it matters; brain cells, liver cells, and your eyeball cells. 

Recently I have been taking a pill called Astaxanthin (Ass-Ta-Zax-An-Thin).  This natural chemical is found in Salmon and gives them the ability to swim hundreds of miles.  I have taken 4-12 MGs a day for two months and have noticed a dramatic increase in my cardiovascular system, resistance to sunburn, and a restoration of my night vision (it’s like being a teenager again).  Consider taking Astaxanthin with fish oil and Vitamin D3 in conjunction with each other. 

My technique is to wash it all down with a heavy dose of milk, to ensure my body uptakes the calcium as well.  Milk also helps line the stomach and makes the pills easier to digest.  With all pills, do your research and find out what the filler ingredients are before taking them.  Some low end manufacturers fill their pills with petrol synthesized mineral oil.  Look for brands that are all natural, organic, and have been rated positively by other customers.  Taking the combination of 4-12 MGs of Astaxanthin, 2400 MGs of fish oil pills, and 6,000-10,000 IU’s daily of Vitamin D3 has restored my night vision and increased my ability to run.  I have also noticed after 2 months of taking them daily is an increase in my body’s ability to heal after heavy workouts. 

Working out physically not only increases your ability to perform the act, but also reduces stress, gives you a greater self-image, and releases positive feeling chemicals (endorphins) in the brain and body.  The principles of working out I use comes from the Army.  The principles are Progression, Variety, and Precision. 

You should start slow and advance slowly through a Progression of harder workouts over time.  Consider Variety in your workouts to fight the body’s natural ability to adapt and the brain’s ability to wander off and get bored.  Conduct all your workouts with Precision, and focus on correct posture and execution of the task.  In other words, make it real by setting goals and surpassing them, mix it up and conduct physical fitness such as running, dancing, rowing, cycling, lifting, jumping, swimming, playing, etc… you get the idea.  Make each workout count by doing it correctly with skill and precision.  Do new things, work out with a buddy or a group, and most importantly have fun with it.  My fun is combining workouts with rifle drills.

I have started doing dry fire drills with my rifle as part of a workout routine.  Basically I run 3-4 miles, then come inside and start doing ready up drills focusing on the little screws on the electrical wall outlet.  I do a mix of 40-50 of these ready up drills with an unloaded rifle, or just stand with the rifle up to my shoulder as long as I can stand being uncomfortable.  Either way my body is being conditioned, and this confirms my natural point of aim.  Consider combining skills such as hunting, shooting, knife throwing, and axe tossing with traditional workouts.  I find running and rifle drills give my workouts meaning.

Resiliency, Mental Toughness, Character Strengths, and Strong Relationships

Resiliency is basically defined as your ability to bounce back from adversity, deal effectively with stressors in daily living, and adapt to ever changing personal and professional relationships with other people.  Realize that building resiliency takes time, patience, practice, and effort to accomplish.  This is not a quick fix topic that you can simply read and incorporate into your life; it takes real effort and inner reflection to hone this skill.  People aren’t born with a greater natural propensity for resiliency (or survival) over another, they become good because they practice and have internalized self-improvement.  There are preconditions that exist we should identify before moving on to discuss what we can do about them.

Back in the Stone Age people lived daily with life and death situations.  They always had to look out for larger animals like the Saber-Toothed Tiger that could eat them, the other tribe that could raid their camp and spear them, and the like.  Those that were always looking around for these dangers, and reacted quickly enough, tended to survive longer.  The generations that followed these original people continued to hone their fight or flight mechanism until humans as a whole got really good at surviving. 

What happens when you get mad at your buddy at work, your wife or husband, or your neighbor?  Usually voices get raised, arms and legs start pacing, you lose the ability to think, and it becomes like two animals getting ready to dual.  Ever think about why this happens?  In a nutshell the brain has a hard time determining when a threat is real or imaginary (or in your head) over something your partner did.  It’s basically a throw-back to the Saber-Toothed Tiger days of fight or flight. 

When the fight or flight mechanism kicks in adrenaline and cortisol gets pumped into the body.  You get jittery and anxious as a result.  Blood starts pumping to your arms and legs, hence pacing.  The frontal lobes of your brain, you know the “smart” higher reasoning part, slows down, and base brain activity picks up (or the “reptilian” part of the brain).  Your eyes focus on the threat.  You start sweating like a fat baby in a candy store.  This is all well and good if the threat is real and you have to high tail it away from the threat.  But is this mechanism very helpful during an argument with your spouse or co-worker? 

You see we are chemically hardwired to fail in heated conversations with our spouses or co-workers because the fight or flight mechanism was never designed to assist us in that way.  During crucial talking points, or during critical negotiations, we have chemicals coursing through our veins that make us look like maniacal clowns at the circus show.  The strongest-willed among us have this fight or flight mechanism even stronger.  As I stated before, recognizing when a threat is real or imaginary is critical if we are to carry on effectively in our personal relationships with each other.  Recognition is the first step that this propensity exists in every one of us to a degree is the first step at being effective in our relationships with other people. 

What can we do to calm down, reengage the conversation, and prevent our partners from permanently hating us to death?  The first step is to never get to the point that the fight or flight mechanism starts in the first place.  Calm down, separate yourself from the problem and emotions related to the problem, and attempt to see the problem through the other actor’s eyes.  Frame the problem to very specific talking points, and avoid using, “you always are late,” “you never come through for me,” or absolute judgments about the other actor.  Keep the problem in perspective, and keep the conversation on track.  If the conversation does ramp up, and you find yourself starting to exhibit the fight or flight mechanism, politely tell the other actor you are stepping out to make a quick phone call.  As a side note, sometimes during critical negotiations or anticipated messy meetings, I will have a friend call 15 minutes into the meeting, to allow me an out to cool down and leave the room.  In any case, once the fight or flight mechanism kicks in, and chemicals get dumped into the body, it takes practice to keep it under wraps.  Basically the best husband, wives, bosses, whatever has displayed high emotional self-regulation. 

Another technique is start doing deep diaphragmatic breathing to come back to center.  Deep breathing combined with focusing on an object above or to the side of the other actor’s head helps to come back to center.  Sometimes I will start counting backwards, or do simple math in my head while the conversation is going on.  This all aides in re-energizing the frontal lobes, and keeps the adrenaline at bay.  

There are volumes that speak to the topics of building resiliency, mental toughness, character strengths, and strong relationships.  If I may persuade you to look up The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, and 25 Ways to Win with People by John C. Maxwell. Also look up “Resiliency” on the web and do some more research. 

In summary you are what you eat and touch, use nutrition as a base for fitness, we live in a toxic world and avoid becoming a toxic avenger, work out and fight complacency, and control your fight or flight mechanism to build stronger relationships and improve emotional temperament.  I hope this article compels the reader to seek out a better life, to not only survive but thrive, and to improve your station in life by dealing effectively with yourself and others.

I'm sure this subject has been well covered before, but I will interject my thoughts.

I ride a lightweight dual sport motorcycle in Colorado and personally believe it is an excellent tool for everyday use, and even more so in rough circumstances. 

If we look around the world at less developed countries and areas without much infrastructure the use of motorcycles and scooters is very prevalent. This is due in part to the relatively low initial purchase cost compared to conventional cars, fuel efficiency, ease of maintenance, and flexibility of use. I also often look to my experiences in Afghanistan for a real life example of what a declining and rough world might look like, and there are many valuable lessons to be learned from places like that. In Afghanistan small displacement motorcycles are very common. They often provided families a sole means of transportation over long distances to sell goods in larger towns, take family members to distant doctors, etc. I have seen no less than an entire family of 4 on a single low displacement (125-250cc) motorcycle, which is not ideal, but really shows the flexibility of use. The vast majority of roads in Afghanistan are not maintained and in very poor condition. Traveling in a 4-wheeled vehicle is painfully bumpy and slow, and quickly destroys suspensions. A motorcycle has the distinct advantage of being able to go around potholes and bumps, and still maintain a good rate of speed. Motorcycle are also able to travel on narrow footpaths that can take you over terrain that would be impossible for a conventional 4-wheeled vehicle to navigate. Gasoline in Afghanistan is somewhat limited and costly, but is still a commodity in nearly every little town or village no matter the size. A motorcycle that gets 50+ MPG is an obvious choice if you expect to have limited supplies of fuel. 

To directly address the author's pro and con list:

1)  Bypass traffic jams and stalled/out of commission cars: This a great advantage of motorcycles. They are very maneuverable. Aside from boulder fields, and sheer rock faces, there's pretty much no limit to where you can take a motorcycle. Especially in Colorado with the large number of bike paths, hiking trails, forests roads, and jeep trails.
2)  Saddle-bags can carry a lot more than than a human: Properly set up you can easily carry 100-200lbs+ (45kg-90kg) with a good quality saddlebag system. Although large bags will lower your MPG to a certain extent. 

3)  Much faster than on-foot bugout: There's a reason people have ridden horses for thousands of years. Speed is good.

4)  Handles off-road with suitable tires: A lightweight dual sport bike with good suspension and knobby tires can take you through roads, fields, and forests without a second thought.

5)  Fewer people could drive it compared to a car, so lower theft risk: If someone is in the business of stealing, they will know how to take your motorcycle. In fact motorcycle theft is pretty high because they can easily be thrown in the back of a truck or van in a matter of second and are gone. Happens all the time. Here's where you can use size to your advantage and store the motorcycle inside your home. Most motorcycles will easily fit through a doorway.

6)  Small profile makes it hard to shoot: True, but also provides no protection. The speed and agility of a motorcycle would be more of a factor than size alone.

7)  More maneuverable than a car, harder target to shoot: See above

8)  Very fuel efficient: A 250cc bike will get 60-80 MPG, with larger displacement engines getting anywhere from 30-50 MPG. The ability to travel long distances with a few gallons of gas is a huge benefit, not only in terms of supply, but cost.

9)  Can add a trailer for added hauling capacity, limited by bug-out route terrain: A good trailer can easily double or triple your weight capacity. Great for long distance moves or simply packing out field dressed game.
1)  Zero protection - rider at high risk: See above

2)  Easy to stop or slow down with chains, cables, fences, etc: Yes, it's more susceptible to being stopped by a guillotine cable, but the odds of that happening are also extremely slim. That falls more into having situational awareness and not getting yourself ambushed. If it's just a wire fence or chained off area, a motorcycle can easily be laid on it's side and dragged under the obstacle. 

3)  Can't carry loads of supplies: Simple and light is key! The more you know, the less you need. Early American trappers, hunters and mountain men thrived with much less than most of us probably have.

4)  Gas-powered, not diesel. [With a very few exceptions.]: Playing the odds, you will probably be able to find gasoline even during pretty bad conditions. It may be expensive or in short supply, but it should still be around. If gasoline supply dries up on a global level, you're out of luck anyway, and would probably be using a very expendable supply should you have any stored up, even if it is diesel. 

5)  Difficult to operate when injured: Yes, they are more difficult to run if you're hurt, but you'd have to be pretty bad off. I don't think the odds of that happening are high enough to be a game changer and deem a motorcycle unpractical. 

6)  Limited personnel transport capability: If you have a family of 5 you're trying to move hundreds of miles all at the same time, you're not going to use a motorcycle. For short distance runs you can always make multiple trips if you had to.

7)  Some models headlights are "always on" which is a visibility problem unless you install a secondary switch: True, most headlights are always on, but a switch is easy to install.

8)  Spare parts may be hard to find: If we have a slow downturn where gasoline prices skyrocket, I have a feeling the motorcycle/scooter business will boom, and we'll look like Asia or India with streets packed with them, which means parts will be readily available. The engines on most motorcycles are extremely simple, and most parts could be fabricated easily with anyone with some metal working skills. There are definitely parts that can't easily be made (spark plugs, computers, etc) but they are also inexpensive and easy to have spares on hand. 

This leads me to motorcycle selection. If you decide a motorcycle will be a good fit for you, what should you buy?

It's the common consensus that a dual sport motorcycle is the most practical style. They handle on-road and off-road conditions equally well, and are built for durability and longevity.

I am an advocate for 250cc displacement motorcycles because they generally are light enough to maneuver in rough conditions, yet still have enough power to haul you and your gear at 60+ MPH. There are 125cc-400cc bikes that could also fit the bill, but the market has a wide variety of 250cc class bikes readily available. A lot will come down to what features you want on your motorcycle. Air cooled, liquid cooled, carburetor, fuel-injected, etc. There's a lot to be said for simple air-cooled carburetor engines, but if you're willing to play the odds that you'll never run into an EMP or something, a liquid cooled fuel injected motorcycle can be a low maintenance and high performance option that is a pleasure to ride.

This is anything but an exhaustive list but it's a good place to start looking:

Yamaha WR250R 
Honda CR250L 
Kawasaki KLX250S
Honda CRF230L
Yamaha XT250
Yamaha TW200
Suzuki DR200
Kawasaki KLR250

Regards, - S.L.


Re: Motorcycles as BOVs? I have been riding motorcycles for most of my life, and currently I have both street bikes and a dual sport. I do most of my riding on the street, which is a lot of fun, when you are not in rush hour traffic, and it can be very economical. (Good gas mileage, low insurance, low up front cost at least compared to a car or truck) The street bike I own is a cruiser, I shy away from the sport bikes mostly because of the seating position and the temptation to go fast. My days of wanting to drive fast are long gone. I ride because I enjoy it. I can't really explain the joys of riding to you; you just have to try it. Anyway, that is not why I am writing.
The question was raised about using a motorcycle as a BOV. In my humble opinion (IMHO) a motorcycle would make an okay BOV for a single person, you are just limited on what you can carry. Any more than one person and a motorcycle makes a poor choice unless of course you have two motorcycles and each person can ride one. If you go with two motorcycles and one motorcycle breaks down, you can both ride on one bike, so with two motorcycles you would have some redudancy.Two is one and one is zero. So in that sense you would have a backup. But, IMHO, I think a 4x4 would make a much better BOV. I happen to have an E250 as a BOV, but that is because I have a wife, 4 kids and a lot of stuff. Also, bugging out for me is my last option, I plan on riding out the storm where I am.  I know prudence might be on the side of getting out of Dodge now, but that is just not a good option for me right now for many reasons. So why write this at all, well I love motorcycling and I think there are other values associated with motorcycles.
So, if a motorcycle does not make a good BOV, is it useful for more than just riding? I say that it is.

What I am going to talk about can really be done with almost any motorcycle, but I am going to concentrate on one motorcycle, the Kawasaki KLR650 dual sport. I did a lot of research and have read a lot of articles and reviews over two years before I purchased the KLR650. I think that the KLR650 is the best bang for the buck motorcycle you can buy. The KLR650 has remained pretty much the same for over 20 years and has a huge following. Two of the reasons I chose the KLR was because of the availability of parts and aftermarket accessories and the fact that the KLR is relatively easy to work on yourself.  It is a very simple motorcycle; single cylinder, carbureted, chain drive. I will not go into all the details of maintenance and adding accessories to the KLR, there are many YouTube videos on maintenance, repairs and upgrades. There are also web sites dedicated just to the KLR. Do a Google search and you will find more than you will ever need. The KLR is not a fast motorcycle and does not excel at any one thing, but it is good at a lot of things. The KLR makes a great commuter motorcycle, it gets over 50 mpg and is tall which helps in traffic. It has a 35 inch seat height, which will be high for some, but the suspension compresses when you sit on it. The KLR also has a 6 gal gas tank which gives you about a 300 mile range on a tank of gas, that’s a lot of off road riding between fill ups. The KLR makes a great trail bike, but it is heavy if you want to just ride in the dirt. So, the KLR is best on the street but will go off road when you need it to. The KLR can also be an adventure touring motorcycle, it has been ridden all over the world.  It is not great at speeds over 75, but if you don’t mind taking your time, the KLR is a great motorcycle.
So now onto where I think the motorcycle shines when things fall apart (SHTF). The area where I live has just been rated the worst traffic in the country, yes we passed LA. A little rain, or a little snow and traffic gets ridiculous. And if there is an accident you can add hours to your commute. As bad as traffic can get I am honestly surprised that more municipalities don’t utilize motorcycles for first responders, but that is a different issue. We all know what will happen when the SHTF for real. All roads will become parking lots. For most people travel will be limited to walking, bicycles and motorcycles. But in this scenario the motorcycle has the definite advantage. With motorcycles you can avoid paved roads and go places that most vehicles cannot go.  You can also provide assistance to others who do not have any other means of transportation. There will be no ambulance service and if it is safe for you to do so you can assist local emergency services.  So if you have a motorcycle you will be able to travel at least for a while. The first few days of when the SHTF can also be used to pick up family and friends who are stranded far from home. This should really be your first priority if you plan on doing this because I do believe that the timeframe for safe travel will be very short lived.

This brings up the issue of protection on a motorcycle. While it is true that a car provides better protection from the elements, crowds, hard objects…  there are ways to protect yourself and in some situations be better protected than a vehicle. When I ride, I ride in full gear; boots, gloves, jacket, full face helmet. That is just my normal riding protection. I cringe whenever I see someone ride with shorts, T-shirt and flip flops. One fall, even at slow speeds, will ruin your day.  But what about protection from non-riding incidents. Once the SHTF you are on your own and if you run into a crowd or group wishing to do you harm, getting out fast is your best bet. The motorcycle will help you do that. But what if you are caught by surprise or caught by a group intent on harm and you are unable to drive out for whatever reason. If you are in a vehicle and stuck you have no other protection once the vehicle has been compromised. If you are on a motorcycle and wearing protective gear, your head and body have an extra layer of protection from rocks, clubs, fists, feet and you may be able to escape on foot. Anything to improve your chances will help. One extra layer of protection that I recently purchased is the Stryker Vest by Icon. It is chest and back protection in case of an accident, but it is also great protection from anything striking your back or chest. And even if you are knocked to the ground you will be like an armadillo. No, it will not stop a bullet, but it will lessen the blow from any hard objects. The idea is not to fight but to flee. Take the first chance you have to run. As to other obstacles; fences, down trees, large rocks obviously these need to be avoided as well as crowds. Avoiding roads and riding through neighborhood back yards can be filled with lots of nasty obstacles. Be careful and be aware of your surroundings. And it would be best to ride during the day unless you really know the area.
Depending on the event and how bad things get and for how long, a motorcycle can be a real force multiplier. When most other vehicle are unusable due to any number of reasons, the motorcycle can be very useful during the situation. There are many roles the motorcycle can play. Motorcycles can be used for scouting, communications, patrolling, foraging, hunting, transporting …. They will not take a lot of precious supplies to operate. I believe the advantages far outweigh any use of supplies. If you are preparing for all situations, a motorcycle would be a good addition to your preparations after water, food, weapons and medical supplies.
One more thing to consider and that is how to earn a living after the SHTF, at least until things come back (Which could be years)
-          Goods will need to be transported, your customers may not always be within walking distance, getting paid to transport goods and services is not a bad way to make a living.
-          People will need medical help, whether you ferry a medical person around or bring people to a medical facility, you should be paid to do so. I am not saying there won’t be times to help others, but you also need to provide for you and your family.
-          Communities will need security. Being mobile will be a big advantage for anyone providing security.
-          Communication. This really depends on how bad things get and if you can spare the fuel for communications. But people will want to communicate with family, friends… Instead of Pony express it would be motorcycle express. (I believe this was the case in the novel “Patriots”)
One other advantage to motorcycling is that it will make you a better driver. Because I ride I am aware of what is going on around me, will a driver suddenly pull out in front of me or pull into my lane, what is the road surface like in front of me, will a child suddenly appear from behind a parked car.  When you ride you are constantly on alert, I think this has been lost in our cars with GPS, phones, CD and DVD players and other people in the vehicle. On a motorcycle, it is just you and your thoughts, that is why I don’t have a headset in my helmet, even though my wife would really like to talk when the two of us ride. I try and keep distractions at a minimum and yes I still enjoy the ride.
On final note, just like any other skills you have, you should take some training classes. I have taken the ERC (experienced rider class) in my state for street riding and I have also taken an off road class to improve my riding in the dirt. Both classes were well worth the time. The dirt class was on a BMW R1200GS. It is a great motorcycle with endless power but it is very heavy and costs about four times what the KLR costs. For the money, I just don’t think you can beat the KLR.

One final note, just like any other skills you have, you should take some training classes. I have taken the ERC (experienced rider class) in my state for street riding and I have also taken an off road class to improve my riding in the dirt. Both classes were well worth the time. The dirt class was on a BMW R1200GS. It is a great motorcycle with endless power but it is very heavy and costs about four times what the KLR costs. For the money, I just don’t think you can beat the KLR. - Marty S.


Hi Jim,
Saturday’s responses [on G.O.O.D. motorcycles] were great!
My current pre-collapse and collapse bike is my customized KLR 650, modified with micro-sized turn signals for a smaller physical profile. Along with that, the bike has been re-painted in flat sand, with OD painted grip guards. I use a Condor-brand, tactical MOLLE tote bag as a handlebar bag, with my registration, insurance info, spider bungee net for the cargo rack, etc.
One thing people may not be aware of is that the cargo rack on the civilian KLR 650 still conforms to the inner diameter of the good old G.I. ALICE pack’s aluminum frame. Recon troops / messengers would normally just slide their rucks onto their bike’s frame, secure it, then take off! Being an old ALICE kind of guy, this is great, as I’ve put the bike to the test, carrying thousands of rounds of ammo to/from gun shows, etc.
However, 2007 was the last good year for the bike in many people's opinion, as unnecessary junk was later added to the bike, such as dual front disk brakes, and flashy colors, a different headlight cowling, etc.
My post-collapse bike is a mothballed TW 200, with a battery in dry storage. Also, all identified solid state components (two of them, one being a voltage rectifier) have been pulled, and are protected in a food-grade Mylar bag, inside of an old all-metal schoolteachers’ desk. With a modified rear sprocket, made of aircraft-grade aluminum and titanium (40 tooth), I get mileage of around 90 mpg, along with a top speed of 80 mph. It can carry a passenger, as well as cargo, and, even better, it is so relatively light weight,  that two people can physically pick it up, and put it in the back of a pickup, to use as a parasitic recon vehicle, for instance.
Also, the company Moose Racing makes awesome cargo carrying accessories for the TW 200.
Cheers, - Joe Snuffy

"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard [speeches] which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words], having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." - Jude 1:14-21(KJV)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I noticed that silver just took another dip. It was at just $23.30 per ounce when I last checked. I have long recommended buying on these dips. The new American Redoubt silver coin is now available, but be advised that Mulligan Mint --like all of the other mints--has recently been swamped with orders. And although they admirably just cleared a 90,000 ounce backlog, you can still expect delays of up to 21 days after your check clears. Order elsewhere if you don't have patience.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

Like most of you I have been preparing for the bad times to come. I have made plans with food stores, water, guns and ammo, etc. In my desire for knowledge and to be as prepared as possible I've read anything I can get my hands on and I surf the Internet nightly, I also have an impressive library. I have gleaned what I could from all this and fortified where I can. My major concern now lies is in how to protect my family and supplies that I have worked so hard and diligently on, along with personal sacrifice to lay up, from others. The problems are two fold, first the men in the black suits and secondly are our friends and neighbors who have scoffed at our ideas of being prepared for so long and who's plans are solely to allow the government to come to their rescue and take care of them in their hour of need. I have made preparations to hide what I have stored from the men in the black suits. But if any refugees have a hint you have food stored, or even the perception of possible food this becomes a problem. What can we do about the unprepared who are hungry and will come in force to kill you then take what you have once you are dead? Even if my supplies are hidden refugees still pose a real threat if they believe you have food.

I am a proponent of "bugging in". This is my best bet for sustainable survival. After the great Society Ending Event (SEE) begins and after the lights go out my plans spring into action. I won't implement my plans every time the power goes out! Within the first three to four days, after enough time for reality and permanency to set in, then my implementation begins. I then plan on making my house look abandoned and already looted to the potential looter walking by on the street. We have all seen houses that have the look we are discussing. This house is abandoned and has nothing of importance left inside, so why would anyone want to go in that place and waste their time looking for food? I want them to think..."Someone has already beat me too this one, let's look at another house down the street". This is the look I am trying to achieve. Perception in everything.

After Hurricane Katrina, when search and rescue went from house to house looking for survivors they devised a system to let other searchers know this house had in fact already been searched. A large X was painted on the house close to the front door. In the top section is listed the number of people living in your home. In the section to the right would be the number of sick removed, while the bottom section would show the number of dead found. I would put a 1 in the bottom section while the rest of the family are listed in the sick column. This will probably not mean a whole lot to those passing by other than some official person has already been there.

Next take old pallets and break them apart, then board up the windows and doors on the outside. Do this in an uneven and hurried fashion. Do not use all the same type or size lumber. The idea is to make it look as if this was done in a hurry and with supplies on hand, you don't want a look of pre-planning in your efforts. The purpose is to act as if some official person was wanting to seal this house in a hurry and move on to the next one. The reason to do the outside and not the inside is mainly so looters walking by can see this, and secondly if I do the inside and some one tries to open the door they will hit something solid. To the looter this is a red flashing arrow pointing at my house indicating I have food and other supplies.

Inside you will need to cover the windows with black sheets or black plastic, then cover them with plywood and secure to the inside wall to completely block the light. If Mr Looter is brave enough to look through the slats all they will see is darkness. Cover all the windows and doors both inside and out. This will allow family movement inside with light and such without being visible outside. This is a pain in the daytime due to the loss of ambient light but extremely necessary at night. Note: This goes without saying but...This will offer protection from people looking in and seeing if any one is home, it offers very little protection from noise inside being heard outside. This will negate any effort to appear abandoned if I'm making a lot of noise inside. Lastly on the front door slap a bio-hazard quarantine sign. This is the cherry on top! These can be found on the Internet and be printed for now and saved for later use. Now your house has a look of a medical disaster like the deadly new bird flu - H7N9. Perception is everything.

Lets take it up one more level, if there is no power I will have no need of my television. Throw this in the front yard and even shoot a hole through the screen or at least bust it up some (you don't have any need for this any more). Throw trash in the yard and make your house look as if it has already been looted before the house was quarantined. Another idea is If you have more than 1 vehicle take one and bust out the driver side window, destroy the steering column, and empty out the glove box. This has the look of someone trying to steal your car or looking for food. All this combined together makes the house look less desirable to looters and what they are looking for, I don't believe you can go over board. If you have the time take some flat black spray paint and spray around the tops of windows and door ways to make it look like smoke escaping from the inside making it appear there was a fire inside. Perception is everything.

To the casual refugee walking by, or even the more observant looter, this house has the appearance of having already been looted, or someone possibly even died in this house from some disease. Why would anyone want to waste their time there when the neighbors house looks untouched and loaded with possible food and supplies. The average looter will be in a hurry and not willing to spend any more time than is necessary taking a closer look. Remember perception is everything.

If someone is still determined on getting inside your home after all the work you have done to make it look as uninviting as possible go to your back up plan. In a closet in the master bedroom ( if it is on the first level and you don't have a concrete slab floor) remove the carpet and cut a hole in the floor. This will lead under the house. This will provide a place to safely hide from looters, provided you remain quiet. If you are inside your home don't be fooled by the movies and believe sheetrock walls will stop a bullet. [Unless your house has thick masonry walls,] there is no safe place in your home to hide if those outside are shooting at you inside your house. The prudent looter should be concerned about conserving their ammo but we are talking about hungry, desperate people. When people are under great stress they will do unpredictable things. [Unless it is burned,] hiding under the house will provide a safe place to hide and emerge later, alive.

Getting my plywood cut for each window ahead of time and having my pallets stacked behind the shed now will have me prepared for my deception once the great SEE begins. A note that is obvious but still needs to be said, this work will need to be completed under the cover of darkness. This ruse will have little effect if others are watching you complete the work. A little prep work on your part can make your home safer and appear less desirable for the enviable refugees and possible looters. Perception is everything.
Keep safe. In His Service. - W.K.R. in Kansas

JWR's Comments: Psychologically, there is a fine line between making a house look undesirable and a making it look like "fair game." Be careful about the impression that you make.

In my estimation, creating large and convincing-looking Quarantine warning signs is probably a good use of your time and money. If your signs are worded carefully, then they could give anyone except a semantics expert the impression that the Quarantine is to keep people away from sick people inside, rather than to keep sick people out. (When the goal is the latter, rather than the former.) These signs would need to use official looking typography and biohazard emblems, substituting the words "QUARANTINE AREA." As W.K.R. mentioned, these are even available commercially. If you live in a Mexican border state, then the sign could include, for redundancy: "Medida de sanidad poner en cuarentena", or more simply: Zona De Cuarentena." But I must caution that you will first need to research your State's regulations of what would constitute impersonating a government official, before creating any signs. (These laws vary widely, from state to state. In Texas, for example, their law is written quite broadly and inclusively. Contrast that with Iowa's terse statute.) There is also a Federal statute, but that seems to center around wearing a uniform or carrying a badge or credentials. If you word a quarantine declaration sign carefully, choose the correct type font, and include biohazard symbols, but omit using any words like "by order of ______ (an agency of government)" or the name or initials of any agency, then you will most likely still be legal. (You can probably vaguely use the words "It is declared"--with no agency named--but again you need to research your own state's laws.) As the property owner and head of a household, you can of course "declare" a private quarantine. Just don't impersonate a government official, in doing so! And if there is a doctor in your retreat group, the wording on the sign could truthfully end with something like: "Joe Smith, MD."

It is also wise to research your state's laws on "No Trespassing" signs. Creating various signs was discussed in TMM Forums, a few years back. And some useful links to printable signs were included in a Backwoods Home Forum thread.

One more thought: Don't overlook the human sense of smell, which triggers deep psychological reactions. Depending on the circumstances, simply leaving a large animal gut pile to rot (hidden under some loosely-piled leaves or straw) in your front yard could do much more to deter invaders than anything else. But this would of course only be appropriate if you don't have neighbors who live close-by!

The bottom line: Fear is a stronger motivator than disinterest or indifference.

I too have consider the motorcycle-for-TEOTWAWKI option. E.M.P. covered the pros and cons pretty well and I can add just a couple of thoughts. I have a family, which means while there are a number of possible TEOTWAWKI uses for a motorcycle, actually bugging out isn't one of them. This is obviously viable only for the single, unencumbered prepper. But I can see other, perhaps invaluable uses.

A [high field strength EMP event - A motorcycle is small enough that it could actually be kept stored in a protected enclosure. Or failing that, it would be far easier to keep a spare ignition module in a protected enclosure for quick swapping out versus dealing with similar repairs to a car or truck. I live in a suburban environment and the ability to quickly retrieve a child from school or a spouse from work at the outset before things had a chance to start to come unhinged would be priceless.

Fuel shortage - Any scenario where fuel is hard to get or priced beyond reason would make the economy of these bikes shine. The leading candidate, the Kawasaki KLR650, gets in the neighborhood of 50 mpg and would make the most of any available fuel in any circumstance where a bike could get the job done. The maneuverability and on/off road capability would also be priceless in avoiding crowds, traffic jams, etc.

There are other terrific choices in the dual sport category, but most run almost twice the cost of the legendary KLR. It's shortcomings are few, most notably being slightly underpowered [versus large displacement road bikes], but they can haul a tremendous amount of gear, and have been ridden from one end of the planet to the other. Their utility serves well in good times and bad, with the normal caveats about safety of course.

There have been some diesel versions built for the military, and while there have always been rumors, even recently, a civilian version is sadly still just rumor. What an awesome bike that would be!

The limitations are so substantial that I cannot condone it as your only option in place of another vehicle, but if you have the means to have one around as an option it might pay big dividends.

God bless, - Arizona Slim


As a former off road racer,I'd like to add my nickel here. First and foremost,all bikes are NOT created equal! You won't bug out on a Harley, I promise !If the roads are congested,you can ride on the shoulder, until a broken down car blocks the way ,then you have to off road...not even an idea on a Harley or big road bike!

Second point: 2 stroke or 4 stroke? Do you know the difference? If not, do not get a bike, period! A 2 stroke is a lot faster and lighter ,but gets lousy mileage. My 500 2 stroke race bike got around 8 mpg in a good race, maybe 5 in deep sand. A 500 4 stroke could do 30 mpg in the same race, easy.

Third point: Can everyone in your party ride? My ex-wife can twist a throttle, but can she handle sand? Nope.

Fourth point: Got parts? Sure,you can buy one of the cheap auto part store bikes,but try to find parts for it...been there, done that, no you can't. Stick to a brand name.You will never find Husqvarna or KTM parts, either.

My recommendation is: Buy a 200cc or perhaps 250cc, 4-stroke dual purpose. Strip the turn signals off, just keep it barely street legal, to save weight.Find any type saddle bags you can find on the seat,even horse bags! And they make packs that fit on the tank.Hang a pack on the bars over the headlite.Keep the weight as low as possible,or it will wash out in a turn.

An interesting side note: My parents had a little Honda Express, barely a step up from a moped.They were camped out in a forest where they didn't allow me to ride my 500 Husqvarna. I took the little Honda for a ride down some little goat trails, and with a little practice, I was doing things on it that I'd never try on my race bike! A lot slower, but it amazed me how far and how many places it got me!

Bank of America to face $7 billion claim by AIG

H.L. sent: Feds Charge Eight in $45 Million Cyber Crime Scheme. The article begins: "In one of the biggest ever bank heists, a global cyber crime ring stole $45 million from two Middle Eastern banks by hacking into their credit card processing firms and withdrawing money from ATMs in 27 countries..."

The U.S. has Spent $8 Trillion Protecting the Straits of Hormuz

No "Peak Natural Gas" Anytime Soon

Jim W. sent a microcosm for the national mindset of borrowing money to pay for past promises as if there will be no consequences.  Of course the "gimmie" crowd is all for it: Portsmouth council approves bond sale for pensions

Items from The Economatrix:

Schiff:  2/3 Of America To Lose Everything Because Of This Crisis

Now Obama Wants Your Pension

Sinclair:  The Elites Frightening Plan To Control The Masses

Mike Williamson (our Editor at Large) sent a link to some analysis of the 3D Printed Gun controversy, by Joe Huffman: Faceless bureaucrats, not blue helmeted elk. And as for the files themselves? They can't stop the signal. For every web site that the DHS takes down, I'm confident that five or more will pop up, to take its place. Clearly, the djinn has left the bottle, and there is no putting him back. For anyone who would like to support their upcoming legal battle, the Bitcoin address for DEFCAD is: 1Gb5GNxrVGMT8e9uoJ8CmamrdVz9o8fAEa

A side note: Do they teach toothpaste tube refilling at DHS School?

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RBS sent a link to an article with a more detailed follow-up to a previous mention: Backyard fallout shelter inspires historical exhibit in Neenah.

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Camping Survival's one week Mountain House Sale is in progress. They are offering Mountain House nitrogen-packed cans at 25% off and pouches and long term storage HDPE buckets at 15% off. The sale ends on May 15th, so order soon!

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Pernicious invader: Long Island Town Bans Bamboo, Threatens $350 Fine, Possible Jail Time

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John Stossel on the Free State Project: Moving to New Hampshire for Liberty

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G.A. from The FALFiles sent me a link to a small company with great prices on military surplus bandoleers, stripper clips, and steel links for belt-feds: New River Salvage. (Their site probably won't win any web design awards, but somehow that assures me that they are a low overhead company.)

"Better [is] the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: [and] the patient in spirit [is] better than the proud in spirit.
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Say not thou, What is [the cause] that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
Wisdom [is] good with an inheritance: and [by it there is] profit to them that see the sun.
For wisdom [is] a defence, [and] money [is] a defence: but the excellency of knowledge [is, that] wisdom giveth life to them that have it." - Ecclesiastes 7:8-12 (KJV)

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10th is the birthday of the late Col. Jeff Cooper (born 1920, died September 25, 2006.) Cooper was as close to the Patron Saint of practical shooting as a man could be.

This is also the birthday of the late Janis Pinups (born 1925, died 15 June 2007) He was one of the last of the Forest Brothers anti-communist resistance fighters. He came out of hiding after five decades to obtain a Latvian passport in 1994, after the collapse of eastern European communism. (He was never issued any communist government identity papers and by necessity lived as a nonexistent "ghost" during the entire Soviet occupation of Latvia.)


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

Introductory note: This guide is mainly aimed at the American prepper.

Without a doubt, firearms are one of the most important preps we have to make; without a way to defend them, none of the other supplies we amass are truly accounted for. So, when the beginning prepper sets out on the road to self-sufficiency and preparedness, we want to maximize our dollars; buy once, cry once. Perhaps you're not a 'gun guy,' like some of us, or perhaps you're only used to hunting, or sport shooting. Which guns should be considered, and why? Hopefully, this will help.

Gun number one: The Ruger 10/22. .22LR is an incredibly important round to have covered; besides being the most common round in the continent (and world), it can take anything from mice to deer, if it has to, while being one of the most affordable cartridges to store and shoot (current inflated prices and availability, aside.) Additionally, if you are completely new to firearms, starting with a .22 is an absolute must. No recoil, little noise, and lightweight all make these guns easy to shoot. The polymer-stocked version of this gun is preferable for its durability and weather resistance, but not strictly necessary; threaded barrels are great to keep your options open, as well (more on muzzle accessories later).

Recommended accessories: Spare factory 10 or 25 round magazines, a 2-point sling, and an optic (either a red dot or low-magnification scope). The least expensive red dot worth considering is the Bushnell TRS-25 (I have two, on an AR and AK, respectively, and no failures in about three years and 4,500 rounds).

Gun number two: The AR-15. Now, I know many SurvivalBlog readers side with Rawles on the topic of defensive rifles, but I deviate -- and I'll explain why. First and foremost, commonality. The AR is ubiquitous; they are everywhere, in America, and spare parts will be around more for it than any other centerfire weapon. Now, of course, storing your own spare parts is good (and highly recommended), but more options are preferable to less. The AR is also effective to 600 meters (even with iron sights, as many High Power Rifle competitors can attest to; though optics are preferred!), and while this is less than what a good .308 can do, most engagements happen within 200 meters, anyway, and there are other advantages associated with the AR that I feel make up for this slight downfall, for a go-to defensive carbine. The AR has very, very little recoil, both because of the .223 round itself, and the direct impingement and buffer tube system the rifle uses. Without exaggeration, at close range, you can shoot the rifle as quickly as you can pull the trigger, and easily keep all the rounds in an 8" circle, using a red dot optic. This is an important consideration, because statistically, we know that most combat happens at close range, and the AR excels here; the lack of muzzle climb means that you can put more rounds on target more quickly than you can with a .308. We also must have an understanding of what kind of terminal ballistics we want out of our main rifles; instant incapacitation, which is only caused by hitting the central nervous system, the aorta, or the heart. Permanent wound channels and expanding hollow points are neat to read about, but the deciding factor in putting bad guys down is hitting the above targets. Knowing that, being able to put more rounds in them more quickly is preferable in a general-purpose defensive rifle. When buying your rifle, opt for a 16" barrel (M4 contour is usually the least expensive, but when possible, I recommend a heavier barrel; it retains accuracy better when hot). The midlength gas system is preferable, but not necessary; carbine length is almost always less expensive, and will work for you just fine. Always opt for a flat-top railed upper receiver unless you get a really good deal on an AR with an integrated carry handle.

Recommended accessories: Plenty of magazines (Magpul PMAGs, Lancer magazines, NATO aluminum mags with Magpul ant- tilt followers), Magpul ASAP sling plate, Magpul MS3 sling, back up iron sights (Magpul MBUS are less expensive and actually stand up better than metal sights in drop tests), a handstop or vertical foregrip for use with a high-thumb or thumb over bore grip, and a quality tactical flashlight of your choice (the Streamlight Polytac LED is affordable). For an optic, I strongly recommend a red dot sight; Aimpoint is the best if you can afford it, period. The H1 and T1 micros are best for their light weight and small size. For the budgeted prepper, the Primary Arms Micro sights with quick disconnect bases are your best option. For standard rifle and carbine handguards, there are extremely affordable bolt-on rail systems that attach via the upper and lower vent holes. As you can afford it, I also recommend upgrading to a Magpul STR stock; this stock lasts extremely well in drop tests compared to others, provides a better cheek weld, and lets you store spare batteries for your taclights. HSGI TACO rifle pouches are the best mag-carrying option, as well, and I recommend using them with a sturdy rigger's belt for the lightest gear possible; a lightweight chest rig like the Blue Force Gear Ten Speed M4 Rig is good for adding on for maximum carrying capacity.
Absolutely-don'ts: Optic in a non-quick disconnect mount, or internal modifications (they're less rugged than mil spec triggers and parts).

Gun number three: The Glock 19 or 17 pistol. Or, less preferably, a Glock 34. Glocks are the most reliable combat handguns in the world -- period. People who put guns to use when lives are on the line choose them over others by wide margins, and for good reason; they are extremely simple, extremely rugged, and extremely common. Much like the AR, Glocks benefit from having parts and accessory options everywhere. For new shooters, as well, the controls are as easy as can be; unless you have a malfunction, the only parts of the gun used to operate it are the mag release, and racking the slide during reloads. In a handgun, I strongly prefer not to have a manual safety, as well; if a pistol is coming out, it's to save your life, and you don't want anything impeding that. The Glock's trigger safety, as well as drop and hammer block safeties, totally prevent the firearm from discharging unless the trigger is pulled. As for the cartridge; 9mm is preferable to .40 and .45 for several reasons, much in the same style as .223 vs .308. It recoils less, holds more rounds, and is less expensive when prices aren't inflated. Besides that, all three rounds have almost identical wound channels with modern ammunition. A Gen 3 or 4 is what you want to look for; earlier models have compatibility issues.

Recommended accessories: Plenty of factory magazines (with +2 baseplates, if you like), a Surefire X300 or Streamlight TLR-1 weapon light, a kydex light-bearing holster (from Raven Concealment, Statureman, kydexbyparlusk, etc.), and either two- or three-dot sights. Make sure to get some HSGI TACO pistol pouches for carrying magazines, just like with the AR. A threaded barrel is a good option, as well.

Absolutely-don'ts: Grip plugs (they prevent you from pulling out stuck mags, and prevent water and debris from draining out the gun as it was designed), recoil buffers (they prevent a full slide cycle and can cause malfunctions, and also can break apart), and internal modifications or replacements (they're less rugged than factory triggers and parts).

Gun number three: The Remington 870 Express Magnum shotgun. Preferably, one made before 2003; since becoming owned by Cerberus, Remington has had occasional quality control issues. If you're buying the gun in person, inspect later guns; most are fine, but it's something to watch out for. While your AR will be a better defensive weapon than the shotgun, 12 gauge is extremely common, and worth having covered. It will allow you to hunt birds and small game, as well as being a good breaching tool with a shorter barrel. Make sure you get the Magnum version so you can use 3" shells, and not only 2 3/4"; polymer stocks are preferable, but not necessary.

Recommended accessories: Both a 26" or 28" bird barrel, and an 18.5" or 20" barrel for interpersonal use. Make sure you get the shorter barrel with threads to use choke tubes! Patterning is important! Shotguns do not throw walls of death like in the movies, and every pellet you launch is a liability; besides that, you want to destroy what you shoot at, and getting more pellets on target will do that. On the shorter barrel, having rifle or ghost ring sights is important; many companies make aftermarket sights if your barrel came without them. A shell carrier on the stock, and a velcro-based sidesaddle like the ModuLoader are also great for carrying ammunition. A Magpul MS3 sling and a single point sling attachment are good additions, as well. A taclight mounted to the pump is strongly preferable, as your support hand will always be able to manipulate it immediately, unlike mounted that clamp ahead of the gun's slide; you can drill and attach a section of rail to your pump to accommodate this, or attach something like a Magpul MOE forend with an illumination kit. If you want, as well, getting the gun MagnaPorted or Vang-Comped will reduce recoil and improve patterning.

Solvent Trap Adapters: Now, a foreword; if you are comfortable with getting fingerprinted and charged and made to wait for legal suppressors in your state, by all means, get some -- for every gun you have that can accept one. For the everyman, however, many companies are making a handy rainy-day buy. These adapters are made to screw onto various common thread sizes, such as for .22s, the AR, and threaded Glock barrels, and allow an oil filter to be screwed onto the exterior threads. This filter will catch, and allow you to recycle cleaning materials when cleaning weapons -- but it can also be registered and used as a suppressor. With the correct filters, on both AR-15s and AK pattern rifles, the filters do not block the iron sights, either. A quick web search will allow the interest to buy them, and it can easily be done in an extremely discreet manner. They're a good investment, but be warned! Shooting through an unregistered one is incredibly illegal, but having them put away in case you ever need them is perfectly within the law. [JWR Adds: Readers are warned that the legal status of Solvent Trap Adapters may change in coming years. Therefore, I recommend that you minimize ayn paper trail and buy them face to face with cash at gun shows and don't mention your name. And if you must order them from an Internet vendor, then only order them using Postal Money Orders, or better yet, Bitcoins.]

What next? Every physically-capable group member should have an AR and a Glock; doubling up on shotguns isn't as important, nor is doubling up on .22s. I suggest having at least one precision rifle in .308, as well; a Savage 10 FP-SR is an incredibly good value. And, I must admit, getting a PTR-91 and a backpack full of $2 mags when bought in bulk is not a bad idea. Besides that, make sure you have plenty of ammo safely stored. I would consider 3,000 rounds per fighting rifle a minimum! More is always better, and make sure you practice. For carbine and handgun, after you have basic marksmanship down (I suggest an Appleseed shoot; check their web site for meets near you), I strongly suggest looking at Travis Haley's Adaptive Carbine, and Adaptive Handgun. Many quality instructors have free videos available on youtube, or elsewhere.

Hi James,
After seeing and living through the nightmarish traffic jams and rerouting during the Colorado wildfire last summer, I started thinking about the wisdom and utility of having a motorcycle in SHTF scenarios.
There are pros and cons to it that I can think of, but I'd like other's opinions.  An off-the-top of my head list:
1)  Bypass traffic jams and stalled/out of commission cars.
2)  Saddle-bags can carry a lot more than than a human
3)  Much faster than on-foot bugout.
4)  Handles off-road with suitable tires
5)  Fewer people could drive it compared to a car, so lower theft risk
6)  Small profile makes it hard to shoot
7)  More maneuverable than a car, harder target to shoot
8)  Very fuel efficient
9)  Can add a trailer for added hauling capacity, limited by bug-out route terrain
1)  Zero protection - rider at high risk
2)  Easy to stop or slow down with chains, cables, fences, etc.
3)  Can't carry loads of supplies
4)  Gas-powered, not diesel. [With a very few exceptions.]
5)  Difficult to operate when injured
6)  Limited personnel transport capability
7)  Some models headlights are "always on" which is a visibility problem unless you install a secondary switch.
8)  Spare parts may be hard to find
I'm considering trading a diesel sedan I have for one of these, but would love to hear what other people think.
Thanks for your noble work, - E.M.P.

JWR Replies: This has been briefly discussed before in the blog. The general consensus was to buy a fairly quiet dual sport bike with as much cargo capacity as possible. But I welcome additional input.

A few comments on Mountain Man Virgil's letter titled "Be Prepared to Fortify." I would like to offer a few alternatives to his plan to "hide security measures in your garage until you need them." I am assuming that he is referring to items such as barbed wire and sand bags. There are many things one can do which offer very good security and still blend in with the neighborhood. Large decorative rocks, strategically placed or large treated logs as garden or flower beds can offer excellent cover and concealment. Large livestock water tanks of metal or heavy plastic can be painted to make them "cute" additions to the landscape. When filled with sand and dirt make great garden boxes and ballistic protection. Fox holes can be incorporated into landscaping along with hedges of thorned bushes to keep intruders out of certain areas. Small ponds may also serve to limit movement in certain areas . I'm afraid that if you leave your security hidden until needed, you may not have time to deploy them if things start to unravel quickly. Good luck. - Montana Prepper

"Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner." - James Bovard (1994)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Camping Survival's Mountain House Sale begins today, and will run for just one week. They are offering Mountain House nitrogen-packed cans at 25% off and their pouches and long term storage HDPE buckets at 15% off.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

Hawaii is in a special situation in a potential emergency.  The island chain has seven inhabited islands (of eight major islands) that support a total state population of 1,392,313, a land area of 6,422 square miles, with an overall average density of 217 persons per square mile (11th highest in the U.S., just above Virginia, Ohio and Indiana).  Most of the population (70% or 976,372) is concentrated on Oahu with an area of 597 square miles, an average density of 1,635 per square mile.  The urban core of Honolulu has an estimated population of 340,000 (ranked 55th by population, just above Aurora, Colorado) with an area of 60.5 square miles, or just over 5,600 per square mile, similar to Syracuse, New York or St. Paul, Minnesota.  Hawaii also has about seven million visitors a year, and none of these visitors are prepared for survival in a meaningful way.

Something else differs for Hawaii, since we are 2,400 – 2,600 miles from the nearest US mainland cities and are known as the most remote inhabited island chain in the world, supply chain disruption would have a major impact on life as we know it.  How could we support our large population with supply chain disruptions?  Some background will help us understand what could be done.

Pre-contact survival in Hawaii

In the distant past, before contact (1779) with the west, Hawaii supported a population conservatively estimated at 300,000 but this did not take into account inland populations.  The peak estimates include numbers of 800,000 up to one million. 

This depended on a very organized structure where individual households were merged into a public economy, the well-known ahupua'a system.  This was established from approximately 1200 AD through contact with the west.  In theory these were self-sufficient typically pie-shaped territories that typically extended from mauka (mountains) to makai (the sea), incorporating key resource zones (fresh water, plants, animals, fish, etc.).  Ahupua'a were essentially “estates” often distributed by the rulers to loyal supporters following the successful conclusion of a war of conquest.  Ahupua'a, managed for the chiefs by a specialist class of managers (konohiki), were fundamental to the organization of early historic Hawaiian society.  Moreover, this system replaced the older (and widespread) Polynesian pattern of kin-groups with associated "houses" and ancestral estates.  In reality, the ahupua’a were not all equal in depth and variety of resources, so inter-ahupua’a and inter-island trading of specialized resources did occur with the chief’s permission and control.  So historically, it was possible to support a large population if the systems were in place.  The konohiki regulated what could be harvested and when, in order to maintain the health of the source.

Supply chain disruption

Presently 85 – 90% of all food for Hawaii is “imported” into the state by ship or air.  Although there has traditionally been lots of agricultural land in crops, much of it was dedicated to sugarcane or pineapples, most for export from Hawaii.  With the advent of cheaper labor in other countries such as the Philippines, much (not all) of this dedicated land has been taken out of monoculture agriculture.  Some of it has been converted to truck farms that supply local fruits and vegetables to local users.  Some has converted to coffee, cocoa, cashew, vanilla and other specialty, high-value products.  So supply chain disruption would have an immediate impact to everyone in the population.  Since we are susceptible to hurricanes and tsunamis, most people are prepared to survive 72 hours to seven days.  Hurricane Iniki on 9/11/1992 caused a failure of power systems on Kauai for six weeks, although schools resumed in two weeks.  It did 3 billion dollars in damage.  Many people were in emergency shelters for weeks.

9/11/2001 halted all air travel for Hawaii and most flight did not resume for five days.  Immediately, tourists stopped arriving and the ones already here were stranded for days.  I was on Kauai with friends and family, and the effect was chilling.  We were as far away from 9/11 as one could get in the U.S. and yet we were mesmerized by the event, spending every afternoon in front of the TV catching up on the news.  Many service jobs were immediately laid off; since there was an expected major slow down on people traveling even after the flights were resumed.

Most of our energy comes from oil, with a little coal.  A small percentage of our power comes from burning garbage instead of placing it in landfills.  There are some PV and wind farms on line and they are growing, now above 10% of the total used.  We have a strong military presence in the islands, with all branches represented.

In the event of any event causing a disruption of sea and air transport, the islands would have only a few weeks of food on hand.  Energy supplies would also be limited.  Water is pumped from aquifers beneath the islands and is treated, then pumped into water tanks in the hills to supply pressure to most areas.  In the event of a sustained power outage, use of water must be rationed quickly to provide only critical uses: drinking and cooking.  During a magnitude 6.7 earthquake near Hawaii Island on 10/15/2006 power was disrupted on Oahu (166 miles away) because of generator protection devices being set too sensitively.  This caused an almost 24-hour power failure to some areas, necessitating people using emergency kits to cook food and provide light.  Most all businesses were closed, so it was too late to prepare once the event occurred.  With most predicted events like hurricanes and tsunamis, there is always a last minute scurrying of some people to stock up on groceries, gas and drinking water.

Get prepared

I am prepared for these events on an everyday basis.  As an Eagle Scout I taught survival and preparedness in the 1960s.  As an adult, I have always had an earthquake / hurricane /tornado kit ready.  Most agencies recommend enough to support your family for 72 hours.  Here in Hawaii they recommend 7 – 10 days because of the delays in getting help here in case of a major disaster.
In addition, I have good stocks of food and water as well as the ability to defend and protect them.  I have many alternatives for cooking depending on the need and can cook with wood long term if required.  The shore is two miles away, so fishing is an option if needed.  We have manual transportation (bikes and wagons) if other vehicles run out of fuel.  Bug-out bags are ready and available.  Water purification supplies are at hand.  I won’t go into more detail for OPSEC reasons.

But TEOTWAWKI poses much more serious challenges.  Hawaii would have to immediately make drastic changes in everyday life.  In addition, Hawaii must bump up its level of preparedness, both on a personal, island and state level.  The state and counties have good civil defense / emergency preparedness groups in place because of our isolation.  But they are not preparing for a long, drawn out emergency of weeks, months or years.  Even in a non-emergency situation, critical parts for elevators, generators, airplanes and machinery are in short supply locally.  It can take many weeks to get these parts even with no disruptions to the supply chain.  In case of a TEOTWAWKI situation the parts would be unavailable, maybe for years, if ever.  To improve this, every level of preparedness will need to look at the risks of maintaining critical services and mitigate those risks accordingly.

This is a simple example, for cooking preparedness.  In the case of a few days or even two weeks, an individual can stockpile enough LP gas, butane, charcoal, etc. to get by.  But if the event goes on much longer, the islands will run completely out of these supplies assuming the supply chain is broken.  People need to look to other forms of cooking such as solar or wood.  Almost no one is prepared for this on a long term basis.

In the case of food supplies, it is much more complicated.  Short of relief from the U.S. Mainland or other countries, Hawaii would be in serious trouble.  Even with the farm land that is actively growing, the output is not enough to support the present permanent population, much less visitors who could be stranded here.  It also requires petroleum and power to process, preserve, and transport.  We are lucky in that we can grow most crops year-round.  To date, on my small parcel of land I grow food in a number of raised beds.  I also have fruit trees such as lemon, lime, fig, banana, papaya and breadfruit, as well as containers for tomatoes, garlic, shallots and herbs.  I’ve grown potatoes in buckets as an experiment and will soon try growing rice in 5-gallon buckets.  The raised beds allow me to grow salad greens, collards, kale, beans, sweet potatoes and most other locally-expensive crops.  There are local farms within 3 – 4 miles where bigger plots commercially grow corn, papayas, greens, mangoes, taro and many other items.  There are emerging local aquaponics systems, both personal and commercial.

Of course because we are islands we also have access to the ocean for sustenance.  The historical ahupua’a depended on three key items:  upland / inland forest, lower elevation intensively cultivated areas and a coastal zone, including local fishponds where near shore fish were trapped for harvest on demand.  A few of these fishponds have been restored and are in active use, but many have been destroyed by development.

Even with increased stockpiles of food, Hawaii will need to consider going back to a system similar to the ahupua’a system of old to be self-sufficient.  In particular, the need for fresh water must be dealt with, since growing food also depends on it.  Although many areas of the islands have good rainfall, catchment, processing and distribution of fresh water depend on the use of petroleum products to supply power.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation this would have to change dramatically and quickly.  It would be difficult to prepare individually for this since fresh water is not as easily accessible as in many mainland areas.  Most people here don’t have wells since the fresh water under islands is shaped like a lens and varies based on rainfall and how much is drawn out.  Personally I have a small solar-based desalination / purification system ( that can be used to desalinate a small amount of sea water (transported about 1.5 miles) or purify fresh water found nearby or gathered from rainfall.  Hawaii has no commercial scale desalination capability at present, although pilot experiments have been done.  The island of Lanai is considering setting up such a system.

I even have a small portable PV system that combined with a lead-acid deep draw battery and 12 volt pump can be used to transfer collected rainwater up the hill behind my house to provide a small pressurized system, but I am still trying to acquire a 1,000+ gallon tank to hold the rainwater.  Getting them shipped here to Hawaii is very expensive.  Solving the problem for an individual family is much simpler than for a neighborhood, a town or an ahupua’a or an island, much less a state.  But it is not enough to prepare yourself and your family when living on an island.  Stocking up a good idea, but will not be enough to weather a long-term emergency or break in the supply chain.

Permaculture principals may be a key part of the answer, since they take a long-term view of how you build a system and how to be sustainable.
Of all the areas in the United States, Hawaii needs to internalize the goal to improve both our survivability and sustainability in order to weather the future, TEOTWAWKI or not.

Dear James,
As a former professional seamstress, I have a comment on using woolen materials for quilts.  They can successfully be washed, provided that the woolen material was previously washed before making a quilt of it, whether the wool is used as the top layer, or as the batting.

The wool should be washed in hot water, and then dried on high heat in the dryer.  It will shrink, which has the double advantage of:  1. making it much warmer; and 2. washed wool becomes somewhat felted, which makes it much sturdier and less prone to wear and pulling of threads which might catch on splinters or rough surfaces.

I have run wool fabrics through the washer and drier prior to sewing them for many years for exactly these reasons, and have nearly always been pleased with the results...except for a couple of extremely loosely knitted fabrics which over-shrank.  Still, even these would have been good for quilt stuffing.

Speaking of which, you can find woolen clothing at thrift shops which can be used for stuffing, as well as for tops.

The author also mentions using acrylic yarn for knitting.  Yes, it is cheap and warm.  However, under TEOTWAWKI conditions, it would be a disaster, since it frays and starts wearing out within a year of heavy use.  Woolen yarn is almost impossible to get any more at ordinary stores, but is readily available online - try eBay - at prices comparable to acrylic. 

Woolen yarn lasts for years, and can be re-knitted when the original item develops wear spots, as the author describes.  Doing that with acrylic is a waste of time. 

I am not a herder, but do know that tribesmen in the Arabian desert mostly live on the sheep they herd, and wear woolen clothing.  Also, the Navajo of the southwest are famous for their woolen blankets, made from the sheep they raise.  Clearly there are sheep that would do fine in the author's desert area.  Perhaps some of your readers would know what breeds would be appropriate.

The tied quilt sounds like a really fast and simple way to make quilts under emergency conditions.

Wiggy's is planning to offer quilting, so your readers may want to contact him. Warmly, - Janet W.

Reader R.B.S. sent some more coin debasement news: Stivers proposes using steel for all U.S. coins – not just pennies and nickels. The compromise that the Congresscritters reach might be just dropping the penny and switching the nickel to stainless steel. The days of nickel made of copper and nickel are numbered, so stock up!

Jim W. liked this: Gold - You Better Hold It

Also from Jim: How Your Purchasing Power Was And Is Destroyed. "The fraud you're being sold is exactly identical to going into a bakery and ordering a sheet cake.  The baker asks you how many pieces you would like the cake cut into; your options are 2, 4, 8, 16 or 32.  He then tells you that if you're really hungry you should choose 32, because that way you can eat more pieces."

Courtesy of H.L.: Largest Wholesaler in U.S. Sold Out of 100 Ounce Silver Bars

Items from The Economatrix:

Why The Jobs Outlook Just Got A Whole Lot Worse

The Global "Fractional" Paper Bullion Market Is Collapsing

Freely-Traded Markets Are An Anachronism:  Fundamental Rules No Longer Apply

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) found a link to a great video, profiling an old school, multigenerational machine shop: Central Texas Tool Co.

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A long-standing joke is that a lot of dead people cast votes in the eastern seaboard states. Not to be outdone, deceased anti-gun mayors sign petitions from the grave, again and again. In more recent news: Another one of the Bloomberg Crime Fighters goes to the Big House, for corruption: Hamilton, New Jersey Mayor John Bencivengo. And another, Former Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada, has just been charged with operating an illegal gambling establishment. And here are some MAIG member "Working The System" updates: Mayor Ray Nagin: Indicted, trial date delayed to October; Mayor Noramie Jasmin is seeking funds for her legal defense (Gee, why not use some of that bribe money?); Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick: still begging to be released before sentencing. (He swears he doesn't own a white Ford Bronco); Mayor Tony Mack: Indicted on corruption charges, trial date delayed; Mayor Richard P. Corkery: Still awaiting trial on child pornography charges after two years; Mayor Adam Bradley: Wife-beating conviction overturned and will get a new trial; Mayor Eddie Perez: Still free on bond three years after getting a three year sentence, and now his lawyers are asking for a new trial, since they claim that showing the jury all of the evidence was damaging to his reputation; Mayor Craig Lowe has entered a not guilty plea after his drunken car wreck, despite some damning police dashcam footage and a failed breathalyzer test; Mayor Gary Becker has been released after serving three years on child pornography and child enticement charges but will still have five years of GPS monitoring and "community supervision"; Mayor James "Jay" Schiliro of Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philadelphia): awaits trial on reckless endangerment, unlawful restraint, official oppression, false imprisonment at gunpoint, providing alcohol to a minor, et cetera. (His homosexual advances were not considered legal in Pennsylvania since the young man was over 18.) Despite the fact that he is being held in jail, he is still seeking re-election (how's that for chutzpah!); Mayor April Capone Almon has been re-elected after making a show of donating a kidney; Mayor Samuel Rivera: Presumably released after serving 16 months in Federal prison and then 21 months in a halfway house; Mayor Sheila Dixon: May be returning to politics. (It seems that the disgrace of stealing charity money from the poor is just trifling and transitory, in some circles.)

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Jeff H. suggested a piece by David Hathaway over at Lew's site: Ham Radio Freedom

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Forbes: This Is The World's First Entirely 3D-Printed Gun (Photos)

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Bill D. sent this from his local newspaper: Preppers: Ready, Come What May, In The Shenandoah Valley. (Yet another example of bad OPSEC. If a journalist wants to interview you, then he should respect your privacy and be willing to identify you by a pseudonym. But this only happens if you insist on it!)

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R.B.S. sent: Internet tax bill targets all digital downloads

"The true danger is when Liberty is nibbled away, for expedients." - Edmund Burke (1899)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 8th is the birthday of American missionary and military intelligence officer Captain John Birch. (Born, 1918, died August 25, 1945.) He is considered by many to be the first American casualty of the Cold War.


John Bush (of The Dealer Warehouse and other ventures) recently posted this sad news: "Long time machine gun and gun importer Edward Faust passed away this weekend. [He] literally imported thousands of machine guns into the US, many of you probably have a gun marked "IA CO SAC CA" which was the import mark found on the ARMEX guns. Worked with most everyone in the industry, brokered lots of deals for others. Has many 'firsts' to his credit, will be missed by family and friends."

And more sad news: RIP Ray Harryhausen: 1920 - 2013.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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 of the dehydrated "food storage units" available these days specify that you need a certain amount of fats or oils to supplement their unit. You probably know these units, they generally sell as "1 person, 1 year" type of packages and they contain a variety of grains, legumes, fruits and other essentials. They are generally put together with the help of nutritionists that try to deliver a certain amount of calories and essential nutrients per day. You might wonder why they don't just include a container of oil to complete their units. Or even why we need them.

Fats (oils or lipids) are one of our bodies essential nutrients. This means they aren't optional, we get sick and die without them. While our bodies can manufacture some of the fat we need by using other nutrients, we can't make enough of them.

Fats are our body's method of storing energy, lubricating joints and we need them to absorb [the fat soluble] vitamins A, D, E and K which aren't normally soluble in water. And in times of starvation our body burns off stored fat by converting it into energy, mostly by turning it into glucose which is the favored food of our cells. Since this takes some work, and because our body favors the easiest to digest nutrition it finds, fat tends to get stored first and burned last when we have excess nutrition.

Fats are pretty chemically simple, being chains of carbon with hydrogen attached and tail with oxygen attached. Unfortunately the presence of these hydrogen and oxygen molecules aren't all that chemically stable and the hydrogen and oxygen tend to become attracted to and run off with the milk man so to speak. They can get together with each other and create water which will induce a milky or emulsified kind of appearing oil, and this would be a hydrolysis. We often see this with oils that have been "annealed" or subject to repeated heating and cooling.

The other thing is they can combine with oxygen and we have oxidation. We also call it "rancidity" and it's an unpleasant quality we smell and taste.  This unpleasant taste and odor is progressive, it gets worse and worse until the stuff is pretty much unpalatable. Oils and fats coat the inside of our mouths, making our taste buds more receptive to taste which is ordinarily great but if that taste is foul it's even harsher.

Chemically when oxygen gets in the door it starts breaking into fatty acids, specifically hydro-peroxide (measured as PV) and thiobarbituric values (TBA). Unfortunately there's no cheap do-it-yourself test kit for this chemistry at home besides your nose.

Peroxides are even more unstable and break down into ketones, alcohol and aldehydes. Think of a rotten banana Bananas are actually pretty oily and it's partially the oil oxygenating that gives that alcohol or ketone smell.

If you have ever smelled old oil paint from a long time ago, that kind of dank smell was it. This is because we used to use things like linseed and cottonseed oil in paints and it rancidified like all vegetable oils. Once you know what that flavor and odor is you won't forget it. Unfortunately it might be more familiar to you than you realize. Staleness is another flavor associated with rancidity but I've found a lot of people don't detect it. I honestly think we're used to it.  Foods take a lot longer to get from farm to table these days.

Some say that because we've gotten used to refined flours that don't contain as much oils as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that some believe last longer on the shelf. In fact we've gotten used to leaving boxes of things like pancake mix in the cupboard for a year or more. And all the people you see buying 3 gallon jugs of cooking oil “to last all year” aren't doing themselves a favor. And in fact we don't really know how long that oil has been on a shelf or in a hot warehouse before it got to you. All in all it seems that buying oils in small quantities is the way to go.

There aren't the kind of immediate health risks with rancid oils as there are from bacteria or other mean little bugs that grow on spoiled food.  Until recently we didn't recognize any major mal effects besides loss of flavor. This is changing as we suspect rancid oils aren't able to do their job for us chemically as effectively as we need them to ask far as vitamin uptake. We're not sure that rancid oils don't contribute to long term health issues like obesity as these fats aren't as easily broken down into glucose. And there's the feeling these oils might turn into free radicals. All of these would have long term health effect implications.

It's worth spending a moment and making this point about brown rice, wheat berries or any whole grain flour. These all contain the germ and bran which contain a lot of fat and these create further challenges for long term storage. Low fat beans store longer than high fat ones, nuts go great in cans but nothing can stop the oils in them from rancidifying over time. This is why cheap nuts often taste bitter. They are older stock. White rice and white flours are optimal for storage. I know that's horrible news to those of us who love our whole grains and count on their enhanced nutrition. That's why we want to take every precaution when storing whole grains and high oil content foods.

We can slow rancidity down but we can't stop it. The ways to slow it down are the very same general rules we use for all foods in long term storage:

1. Keep it cool. It seems a lot of people store their oils up high next to the stove. Over-stove storage is for pots and pans, not for any food product.

2. Keep it out of sunlight. Some people seem to want to keep fancier oils out on the counter. We see this with infused oils that are pretty to look at but out in the light they are deteriorating rapidly.

3. Try to keep oxygen away from it. It would be good if oil came in mylar bags with spouts like cheap wine. The advantage here is the container shrinks along with the stored product leaving less room for oxygen. A large bottle will eventually contain mostly oxygen. Consider breaking your oils out into small containers so this effect is minimized. And note that not all plastics are air-impermeable meaning that air and gases will in fact leak through it. Food grade plastics can be trusted. Glass is best.

4. Don't let water adulterate it. The above steps help as does keeping stored foods at consistent temperatures because changing pressures won't tend to break seals. Keeping oils in sealed containers is our best defense against water.

My personal feeling is that the less refined (read saturated) fats seem to hold up best. Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil fits the bill but so does lard. Some of these cold pressed oils will hold up for months in proper storage and lard does great in cans (no light or oxygen penetration plus it's free of acids and flavors found in other oils). I don't really have science to back that up with other than the shortened carbon-hydrogen chains in these newer unsaturated fats leave it more unstable. I have heard that these unsaturated fatty acids will bind to protein to form lipid-protein globs that are insoluble and I find this as credible as it is undesirable.

[JWR Adds: Canned lard products like Crisco should be avoided, since they are often bordering on rancid even when bought "fresh" at your local store. The metaliziced cardboard containers used for Crisco are permeable to oxygen. As I detail in the Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course, for long tern storage I recommend stocking up on case lots of virgin olive oil and coconut oil in full, sealed plastic bottles. These oils are available inexpensively at COSTCO and other Big Box stores. Although glass bottles are impermeable to oxygen, a plastic bottle allows oil to expand when stored frozen. (Glass bottles will shatter.) When stored frozen at 10 degrees F or lower, olive oil can have more than an eight year shelf life. Needless to say, date-mark the label of each bottle that you store, to facilitate first-in, first-out (FIFO) rotation. I hope that olive oil becomes available in gas impermeable mylar pouches, but for now, plastic bottles are the best available compromise. As I've mentioned before, raising livestock or hunting bears are the only sure ways to provide needed fats in long term isolation. But raising pigs isn't for everyone. Don't overlook chickens, since egg yolks are a good source of fat.]

Perhaps most interesting to me is how fats operate in freeze dried scenarios and upon rehydration. The fats are pretty much still there even with the removal of all that hydrogen and oxygen and I have to remind myself that in fats these are chemically bound to carbon. It's not water, it just contains the components thereof. With normal dehydration these oils are basically unaltered and are more prone to spoilage. With freeze-drying and subsequent packaging we don't permit free oxygen to get back in.

If your diet is severely lacking in fats and you can't find bacon, eat more whole grains. Eggs, milk, cheese all contain it. Corn is such a wonderful source of oil that if you grow enough you can press your own oil. It's almost hard to imagine most of us not getting enough fat in our normal habitual diet.

The cautions come in if you are utterly dependent upon your stored food and have no hope of obtaining food (with fat in it) from outside sources. Or perhaps if your diet is limited to refined starches. For me it's hard to imagine this scenario but other preppers presume this level of isolation even for long periods. The RDA (government's recommended daily allowance) of fat is about 60 grams so that's about two avocados worth. Avocados are wonderful sources of dietary fat but again, most of the other foods you eat have fat as well. For long term storage it looks like the best lipid pick is good old canned lard.

About The Author: L. Joseph Mountain recently published Hidden Harvest: Long Term Food Storage Techniques For Rich And Poor. His web site is where "articles are sometimes archived, info is irregularly updated and questions are occasionally answered." 

Thanks to George H. and George W. for their input on chainsaw safety. Yes, buy Kevlar chaps and use them.  Once getting your hands on a pair, don’t expect them to function like body armor because they have Kevlar in them.  From personal experience, they work by the chain’s cutters tearing through the outer fabric of the chaps, then pulling out Kevlar fibers, that then bind up the saw and almost instantly stop the chain from moving. Chain stops and you don’t get cut. Then the penance you pay for your lapse in judgment is taking the cover off your saw and pulling Kevlar fibers out of the works. Again, from personal experience, blue-jeans do not serve this function; although if God is watching over you, you can get your keys pulled straight out of your shredded pant pocket and they will stop the chain when they enter the saw housing. I’ve had a running chainsaw cut into fabric on my leg four times, two with chaps and two without.  I am truly blessed that none of the incidents have drawn a drop of blood.  All four times happened towards the end of the day, when I was tired, and was cutting something in an awkward position.  Think safety all the time. Also, don’t forget ear protection.  A chainsaw isn’t as loud as a gun, but consistent exposure to the engine noise can lead to slow, but permanent hearing loss.  Whatever you keep your chainsaw in, put some hearing protection in there too.
Keep your oil reservoir full and the cutters sharp. - Sean B.

I read the article on felling trees and the follow up on chainsaw chaps. Several years ago my son and I bought two pair of chainsaw chaps from Labonville Inc. up in New Hampshire. These chaps are made in the USA and sell for less then the name brand chaps sold at Lowe's or Home Depot. They are of the highest quality and I highly recommend them. Also you are supporting the USA and the local New Hampshire economy. See: or 800-764-9969. I have no financial interest in them or the company. - E.G. form North East Tennessee


The other great thing about Kevlar chain saw chaps is that they save your jeans.  I use my chain saw two or three times a month on average, often in brushy areas.  I am confident that over the course of two years that the chaps have paid for themselves just in reduced wear and tear on my jeans.  - Jim B.

Jack Spirko (of The SurvivalPodcast) has produced a fascinating behind-the-scenes video tour: What's Going on at Mulligan Mint? Jack Spirko and I agree that Mulligan Mint is reputable. By setting up redundant manufacturing processes, they have overcome their production bottlenecks. They've also cleared the backlog of SBSS orders and they are about to release Jack's Sentinel coin. This is the same mint that is producing the American Redoubt silver coin.

Items from The Economatrix:

The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

Hiding The Unemployed: Disability And The Politics Of Stats

Gold & Silver -- War Unofficially Declared on 12 April 2013

Some folks on the web had misreported this last week, without checking facts: LDS home storage centers tweaking cannery policy. (Thanks to Brad M. for the newspaper link.)

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M.V.R. recommended: Guide to Veterinary Drugs for Human Consumption, Post-SHTF.

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Cuban Economic Collapse Survivor Gives Advice On How To Keep Up Your Family’s Spirits

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Mark R. sent a link to a U.S. military Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. " The plan defines the department's vision of sustainability and connects the dots between the DOD's sustainability and energy security goals and potential operational vulnerabilities — in other words, its susceptibility to utility disruptions caused by natural disasters, attacks, grid outages, or the likelihood of energy supply reductions due to disruption in the oil supply line from foreign countries."

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Gun salesman of the decade, or of the century?: 46,455 Background Checks For Gun Purchases Each Day Under Obama

"The people of Kansas have clearly expressed their sovereign will. It is my hope that upon further review, you will see their right to do so." - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, it a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

In One Second After, William Forstchen describes a cataclysmic scenario, a widespread EMP effect that is only slightly less devastating than nuclear near-annihilation. The protagonists in JWR's novel Patriots fare better temporarily because the physical infrastructure remains relatively intact for a few weeks after the nation’s economic collapse. In either scenario the five epidemics that are already under way in the United States give new relevance to TEOTWAWKI.

Epidemic (from the Greek: among the people): prevalent and spreading rapidly among many individuals within a community at the same time; widespread.

The five epidemics:
            Type 2 diabetes
            End-stage renal disease (kidney failure)

Although it is the leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease resulting from coronary atherosclerosis is not an epidemic according to the above definition. It is not spreading rapidly but is well established and mortality
is actually decreasing slightly because of modern treatment.

Epidemic #1: Obesity
Obesity is the linchpin for the other four epidemics.
From 2000 to 2010 obesity increased by 80 percent or more in 39 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that by 2030 42 percent of Americans will be obese, nearly half again as many as currently bear that burden. A study from Duke University indicates that morbid obesity, a weight 80 pounds or more above standard weight, will affect 11 percent of the U.S. population. Obesity is clearly “prevalent and spreading rapidly among many individuals” as defined above.

Inactivity is a major factor in the obesity epidemic. A century ago only about 5 percent of Americans were obese but labor-saving devices and automobiles have reduced the need for physical activity for the average person by nearly 75 percent. The typical American adult or child spends 8.5 hours a day watching television and using a computer or similar devices.
Diet is the other major factor that leads to obesity. Over the past 4 or 5 generations we have replaced whole-grain products with those made from refined flour and we have increased our consumption of sugar several-fold. The average American consumes 40 pounds of sugar in soft drinks alone in a single year. When the SHTF, whatever the cause, our food supply will be severely compromised.            

One might think that the one-third of our population that is obese will be able to live off stored energy and will survive longer but they will not. The reason is that very few of them are free of medical problems. Obesity is simply not compatible with good health. There are no exceptions. To think otherwise is delusion.

Epidemic #2: Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the fastest-growing chronic disease in the world. It affects more than 25 million Americans and 57 million more have prediabetes (defined as a fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125), half of whom are not yet aware of their condition. The CDC projects that one-third of the population will have type 2 diabetes by 2050. Among Hispanic females that number will reach 53 percent.

Type 1, early onset or juvenile diabetes, is a disease in which an autoimmune process completely destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. A severe reduction in carbohydrate intake will postpone the inevitable in some persons with type 1 diabetes but not for long. They need insulin daily in order to survive. Reduced supplies of all forms of insulin and the lack of effective refrigeration mean that their days are numbered, as described so tragically in One Second After.

Type 2 diabetes was once known as adult-onset diabetes but it has become common in adolescence and it occurs with some frequency among pre-adolescent children. Persistently high levels of blood sugar cause cells to be come unresponsive to the action of insulin. After a period of such insulin resistance the cells that produce this hormone eventually fail.

A lifetime of moderately intense physical activity almost eliminates the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Experts refer to it as an exercise-deficiency disease. Sometimes it results from a genetic disorder or from prescription medications but these are in the minority. In reality, more than 90 percent of persons with type 2 diabetes are inactive and overweight or obese. Among those who appear to be of normal weight, some fall into the category of normal-weight obese, persons who have gained fat but lost muscle. Although their weight is normal, their waist size reveals the truth because a pound of fat takes up more space than a pound of muscle.

Diabetes is a disease of blood vessels. That’s why its worst complications, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputation are so common. These complications appear faster and earlier among children because those growing bodies are constantly forming and re-forming new blood vessels as they increase in size.

When the SHTF death rates will rise dramatically among those with both types of diabetes. Type 2 diabetics who have mild disease will fare better but most of them have
complications that will worsen without prescription drugs. Lifestyle changes can postpone the need for insulin but when metformin and other drugs become unavailable, complications of the disease and mortality will rise rapidly. 

Survivalists with type 2 diabetes should double down on their efforts to lose weight and to become physically fit. Those who can afford to stock up on medications should do so. Pharmacies will be depleted of stock as rapidly as grocery stores when the SHTF.

Epidemic #3: Osteoporosis
The incidence of this bone-thinning disorder will reach epidemic proportions by mid-century. Like type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis is an exercise-deficiency disease. It is not due to an inadequate calcium intake. Lack of calcium makes bones soft, not brittle. Two examples are childhood rickets and adult osteomalacia. The first is due to a lack of vitamin D that inhibits the absorption of calcium; the second has several causes, including chronic kidney disease. These calcium-deficient bones do not break; they bend, causing extreme bowlegs, for example.

There is a bone-building window between the ages of about 5 and 25 years during which the body completes the formation of almost all of its bone mass. Once closed, that window never reopens. The process requires two elements: moderately intense physical activity and proper nutrition. Today’s young people fail on both counts and will face an epidemic of broken hips and collapsed vertebrae when they are eligible for Medicare (if it still exists then).

Only a couple of generations ago most kids walked a lot, rode bikes, climbed trees, participated in pick-up games of various sports, frolicked on monkey bars and roughhoused. Safety concerns, urbanization, organization of sports, cancellation of Physical Education classes in school and other factors limit those activities now. Computer games and television occupy about half of their waking hours today.

Calcium is important during these bone-building years but children now drink twice as much soft drinks as milk. In the 1970s it was just the opposite. Other nutrients for making strong bones include several vitamins, magnesium and omega-3 fats but children who don’t get many vegetables but eat plenty of junk food get few of them. Nearly half of today’s adolescents are deficient in vitamin D because they spend so much time indoors.

Few people, including those in the medical field, are aware that pregnancy factors will affect the skeleton of the fetus when that infant reaches middle age. A pregnant young woman who exercises little, smokes and has poor nutrition will herself have an inadequate bone mass. Her baby will too, the evidence of that being that the rate of forearm fractures among school-age children has doubled since the 1970s.

Most adults lose bone mass year by year because of their sedentary lifestyle. Without regular, moderately intense physical activity bones become less dense and break easily in a fall. Exercise, especially resistance training, helps to restore some of the bone mass that has been lost during years of inadequate physical activity.

Why is osteoporosis a problem in TEOTWAWKI? A hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization, perhaps surgery. Even with modern medical care about 25 percent of persons with a hip fracture die within a year. Picture the scenario when the SHTF.

Epidemic #4: Dementia.

Dementia consists of two different conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder whose cause is uncertain. Genetic factors play a major role in about half of its victims. As our population ages it is estimated that Alzheimer’s disease will affect about 25 percent of the population by the age of 85.

Vascular dementia is the result of narrowing of the blood vessels of the brain. Diminished blood flow prevents brain cells from being properly nourished and removing waste products. The result is poor mental function, memory loss and shrinkage of brain tissue. Type 2 diabetes has become the most important cause of vascular dementia.

Persons with dementia require attentive personal care for their nourishment and hygiene requirements. I cannot predict what will happen to them in a TEOTWAWKI scenario but many of them have one or more chronic illnesses that require prescription medications that are likely to be in short supply. In a worst-case scenario they will have a low priority for treatment.

Epidemic #5: Kidney failure (End-Stage Renal Disease)

The kidney is little more than a collection of tiny blood vessels in close contact with equally tiny tubular structures, the combination forming a filtering system that removes waste products in the form of urine. When normal blood vessels within the kidney are replaced by those that have become deformed and scarred because of diabetes or other disease, toxic by-products accumulate within the body. A dialysis machine – what some persons still refer to as an artificial kidney – cleanses the blood in 3 or 4 treatments per week.

When the nation’s power grids fail because of an EMP or a devastating cyber attack it will take the lives of hundreds of thousands of dialysis patients with it. In 1972 there were 10,000 persons on dialysis; in 2010 that number reached 350,000, even as dialysis centers were struggling to keep up with the demand. If the CDC’s projection for type 2 diabetes, the primary cause of kidney failure, is correct that number could soar to more than a million in a couple more decades. The yearly cost of dialysis ranges from $15,000 to $50,000 per year and it will make kidney failure one of our most expensive epidemics.

There is no alternative treatment for kidney failure. Kidney transplantation, which may require a year or two on a waiting list, is not an option for millions of diabetics and it certainly will not be at TEOTWAWKI.

Dialysis units will stop working when the lights go out. Patients with end-stage renal disease will be among the grid failure’s first casualties.

Finding solutions: Genes load the gun; lifestyle pulls the trigger.

All these chronic conditions are lifestyle-related and are not due to genetics or to aging. They were either rare or nonexistent barely a century ago and not because people are living longer and have more time to acquire these diseases. Centenarians in places as diverse as Okinawa and Sardinia are slender and fit and can name their great-grandchildren. They have almost no heart disease and type 2 diabetes is virtually non-existent. Elderly hunter-gatherers don’t develop these diseases either – until they become civilized.

To be sure, if the pharmaceutical industry were to collapse in a SHTF scenario we would again face new threats from old infectious diseases but the thin and the fit would fare best. Obesity and diabetes weaken the immune system but exercise strengthens it.

Scores of posts on SurvivalBlog urge us to maintain a high level of fitness and to keep our weight, i.e., body fat, at normal levels. No one is too old to exercise and eating sensibly (quantity and quality) is not rocket science. It’s not too late to begin a healthy lifestyle. It may be the key that will help you to survive in TEOTWAWKI.

About The Author: Philip J. Goscienski, M.D. is a retired pediatric infectious diseases specialist, CPR instructor, columnist and author. His book, Health Secrets of the Stone Age, Second Edition, Better Life Publishers, 2005 has won three book awards. He has archived more than 400 weekly newspaper columns at

Mr. Rawles,
I have to believe that the precious metals markets are practicing their own sort of fractional reserve system.  Does anyone doubt that the markets (dealers, banks, etc) keep a small quantity on hand for physical transactions, but trade paper claims on much greater quantities?

A growing concern of mine which I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere:  What will happen when the holders of paper claims run to court because they cannot obtain the physical metals the claims represent?  Significant numbers of these claim holders are politically powerful.  Will the courts decree a clawback of the physical metals from their present holders, and a redistribution of the those physical metals amongst the paper claim holders?  The similarity to the clawback forced upon the “lucky” few who withdrew profits from Madoff’s pyramid scheme is disconcerting.

People holding physical precious metals would resist any clawback.  Physical metals can be changed in form, hidden, traded or sold such as not be recognizable from when they were purchased.  The tools to enforce the clawback would have to be truly menacing for most people to comply.

Please consider addressing the likelihood of a court ordered clawback of physical precious metals, and your evaluation on the lengths to which the system would go to enforce such a decree.

Thanks for your previous commentaries and time in evaluating this as a topic. - Andrew H. in Washington State

After reading about the waterproof Bible, I went to the publishers web site, and discovered that they also manufacture waterproof notebooks.  Many times during my military career I have needed to write something while in the rain.  These would have been great, but alas they were not available in the 1970s.

These notebooks are available in both top and side spiral, and in the most common sizes, all at an attractive price. Thanks, - Greg L.

New Wyoming Lithium Deposit could Meet all U.S. Demand. JWR's Comment: Wow! That is a relief. The Powers That Be were about to announce on the P.A. system: "Lithium is no longer available on credit." (Pardon the inside joke for Blue Blazers.)

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Significant population change in Idaho impacting jobs. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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An Idaho news headline: Judge rules extended traffic stop violated rights

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George S. sent this from a Wyoming newspaper: Famed Yellowstone bull elk dies

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H.L. sent: Oregon Teachers Traumatized by Unannounced Shooter Drill. They were crazy to try this in Eastern Oregon. They could have been met with lethal force by an armed teacher, adminstrator, or janitor.

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Also from H.L.: ATF offers $5,000 reward in Red Lodge explosives theft

A revenue-versus-spending chart recently posted by the editors of Zero Hedge shows just how deep a hole our legislators have dug for successive generations. The U.S. Dollar is doomed, folks. It is wise to diversify into practical, durable, and barterable tangibles!

At Zero Hedge: "The Captain" Says Goodbye: The Full Final Edition Of The Privateer. (Thanks to B.B. for the lnk.)

Staples Starts Selling 3D Printers

Items from The Economatrix:

Overhyped Q1 GDP Grows By Only 2.5%, Biggest Miss To Expectations Since 9-1-1

Record 1 Out Of 5 American Households On Food Stamps

Mints, Refineries, Brokerages Out Of Stock – COMEX Gold Inventories Plummet

Carolina Readiness Supply is conducting their second Heritage Life Skills weekend May 17 - 19, 2013, in Waynesville, North Carolina. Classes being offered are: Canning Meat & Butter, Canning Fruits & Vegetables, Soap making, Candle making, Dehydrating, Land Navigation, Reloading, Tactical Radio Communications, Butchering, Quilting, Bread making, Cheese making, plus many morre. The guest speakers will be Dr. Dan Eichenbaum, speaking on the Second Ammendment -- Dr. Arthur Bradley, author of Prepper's Instruction Manual, and Disaster Preparedness for EMP attacks and Solar Flares -- "Angry American", author of Going Home -- Dr. William Forstchen, author of One Second After.

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent: 99 Life Hacks to Make Your Life Easier. (Don't miss the comments that follow, with other great ideas.)

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Anoone with an interest in large Faraday enclosures should check out this Texas company: TruProtect

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Just as predicted: S. 792: A bill to strengthen the enforcement of background checks with respect to the use of explosive materials

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"Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind [Poll] found that 44% of Republican respondents agreed that an “armed revolution” might be needed in the next few years to defend liberties."

Harry: I'm sorry doctor, I can't pay you, I haven't got any money.

Dr. Strong: Money is one of the first symbols that disappeared.
                   Tell you what I could use though...
                   Some ammunition if you can spare it, I have a .45 too you know...

Harry: I only have a few, I can let you have four.

Dr. Strong: Don't short yourself now.

Harry: That's alright, The war's over - we won.

Dr. Strong: Well, ding, ding for us!

- Harry Baldwin (Ray Milland) and Dr. Powell Strong (Willis Bouchey) bartering for medical services rendered in the movie, Panic in Year Zero (1962). (Screenplay by Jay Simms and John Morton, based on Ward Moore's stories Lot and Lot's Daughter.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Today is the last day of the Ready Made Resources 25% off sale on Mountain House canned long term storage foods. Unlike many other Mountain House dealers they actually keep most of their inventory on hand. This means that they are able and willing to "mix and match" varieties in a six-can case, at no extra charge, on request. Get your order in before midnight, Eastern time!


This is the birthday of Charles A. Lockwood (born 1890, died 7 June, 1967.) Lockwood was a United States Navy Admiral who commanded the Pacific submarine fleet in World War II. In later years, he was a friend of my father, at a deer hunting camp in Mendocino County, California. Lockwood was buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California alongside his wife and his friends Admirals Chester Nimitz, Raymond Spruance, and Richmond Kelly Turner by a special arrangement made many years before they died.

May 6th is also the birthday of Tuvia Bielski. (Born 1906.) You may remember him as the main character in the movie Defiance This movie was based on the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec.

I've encountered a few folks who don't realize that slavery still exists in the world. I'm not talking about figurative slavery--like every April 15th, here in the States. Rather, I'm talking about literal contemporary slavery, with kidnapping and a life spent in chains or locked up in a cell or prison-like dormitory every night. Slavery is still commonplace in North Africa, most notably in the Sahel. Wikipedia sums it up: "The [slavery] problem is most severe in the Sahel region (and to a lesser extent the Horn of Africa), along the racial boundary of Arabized Berbers in the north and blacks in the south. This concerns the Sahel states of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan in particular, continuing a centuries-old pattern of hereditary servitude going back to the Muslim conquests." It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 slaves in Sudan, alone. Many of these slaves are Christian, and virtually all of their slave masters are Muslims.

You will have to look hard to find many mentions of slavery in the politically correct mainstream media, which is still dutifully chanting the "Islam is the religion of Peace" mantra. Most western liberal journalists have conveniently twisted the concept of modern slavery to focus almost entirely on sex slaves in Eastern Europe and in places like Thailand, while ignoring much more blatant slavery in North Africa. To be fair, it is much easier for a journalist to get a picture of a teenage prostitute on a street corner in Bangkok than it is for them to get a picture of slave toiling in field near Al-Fashir. But there still seems to be a lot of willful ignorance and misdirection. Thankfully, we do hear about what is going on in Sudan on CBN, from bloggers like Chuck Holton, and through other Christian media outlets.

How can you help stop modern-day slavery? Please support active resistance in the Sahel region. Just a few brave folks are liberating slaves and teaching villagers how to shoot, so that they can fight off would-be slaver kidnappers. One charitable group that will soon be doing firearms training on the border of South Sudan and Sudan is Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.) I support and highly recommend their unique ministry. OBTW, they have a few volunteer support positions open, here in the United States that would be ideal for retirees.

Just buying up modern-day slaves and giving them their freedom hasn't worked. The Islamic slavers simply go and kidnap more of them. The only way to effectively stop armed slaver kidnappers is to train and equip large numbers of armed free men in the border villages. In the modern context, you can "Just Say No" to slavery only with a battle rifle.

Addendum: Here is a recent headline: Sudan Intensifies Arrests, Deportations of Christians: Interrogations include threat to bury ministry group members alive. Please pray for the citizens of both South Sudan and Sudan. - J.W.R.

I've always been a fan of western movies, and movies about the Founding of this country - America, and early pioneers. If you watched the movie with Mel Gibson, The Patriot   you will see many Patriots in the movie - and as it was in real-life - using tomahawks in Close Quarters Battle. Given my druthers, I'll take a well made and well-designed tomahawk into CQB over a knife any day of the week. And, even our American Natives, used some primitive type of tomahawk in battle. And, when trading posts popped up as the country grew westward, Native Americans were able to trade and buy tomahawks made out of steel, instead of one with knapped stone heads.
Columbia River Knife & Tool recently sent me their new Kangee T-Hawk for testing. And, I'll tell you, this is, without doubt, the most awesome tomahawk I've ever tested. It is well-designed and well made. It was designed by Ryan Johnson, a custom blade maker, and CRKT picked-up the design, making it affordable over a custom-made version. What is unique about the Kangee T-Hawk is that it is made from one solid piece of steel, with a curved handle and grip choils along the handle for enhanced gripping power. The handle is covered with glass filled Nylon and had an EDM finish - on it - for a VERY secure hold under any weather conditions.
The Kangee T-Hawk is made out of SK5 Carbon Steel - but it is coated with a black powder coating, to help it resist rust. The overall length of the T-Hawk is 13.74-inches - it has a long reach on it. and it weighs-in at 1-lb 8.4-ounces - not too heavy, and it balances nicely, considering its length. The dimensions of the blade aren't quite what they appear - CRKT lists the blade as almost 3-inches for the cutting head. However, the top of the blade is also sharpened, as well as the Tanto-style back of the blade - which gives you tremendous slashing and cutting power. One thing you must be aware of, when handling the T-Hawk is that, the top of the blade is sharp - VERY sharp. Many people for some reason, tend to pick-up or grip a tomahawk by the top of the head, instead of the handle - if you do that with the T-Hawk, you will readily slice you hand open, with a nasty wound, that runs deep. No, I didn't cut myself with it! The T-Hawk also comes with a black Kydex sheath with a MOLLE clip platform, for mounting it on a vest.
The bottom of the handle has three large holes in it, and I honestly don't see any tactical purpose to this, other than for cosmetics or to lighten the overall weight of the piece - but the holes wouldn't do much to lighten the load, but they are there just the same. I suppose one could attach a lanyard to one of the holes, and secure the T-Hawk to you hand that way - never a bad idea.
Okay, I had the Kangee T-Hawk for the better part of two months, and I used and abused it just about every way you can imagine. I did a lot of chopping of blackberry vines, and it worked great. I also chopped down some small trees and shrubs around the homestead. However, more than anything, I used the T-Hawk as a throwing hawk - and I threw the T-Hawk hundreds, if not thousands of times, into trees on my property. And, the amazing thing is, without much work, I could make the T-Hawk stick more often than not. When it would stick in a tree (and I missed trees completely a few times - hate to admit it) it would stick either in by the head, or the tip of the head, the top of the tomahawk head or the reverse tip.
The Kangee T-Hawk came hair-popping sharp, too - and I did have to re-sharpen it a few times, mostly do to my total abuse of the blade, but being carbon steel, it was easy to re-sharpen. I also used the T-Hawk for slicing in the in kitchen, while not designed for this type of work it did work - but you have to be very careful how you hold the sharp edge of the head. Chopping was no problem, although it wasn't designed as an "axe" per se, it could chop with the best hatchets I've had. And, it could easily slice though stacked cardboard boxes with ease, due to how sharp it was. And, without any effort, I could burry the tomahawk head deeply into cardboard. The reverse end, with the tanto-style tip would easily penetrate an old-style military steel pot helmet, too.
With the overall length of the Kangee T-Hawk, it really gives you a reach advantage, not offered with many large fighting knives. Plus, the power you would wield by slashing at an enemy - it could easily take an arm or a head off. We are talking one very serious edge weapon here. I also placed the T-Hawk between two bricks and jumped up and down on it - trying my best to bend it - no luck! With all the throwing I did, I was sure, at the very least, that I could break the glass filled Nylon handle scales - no such luck! I probably gave the T-Hawk the most abusive testing I've even given any edged weapon, and no matter what I did, to try and destroy it, I failed...very frustrating, to say the least.
If I were going behind enemy lines, this is the edged weapon I'd carry with me. I would have complete faith in the Kangee T-Hawk, to help me survive a hand-to-hand combat situation, or help me survive in the boonies. This is the tomahawk you want on your side or in your BOB when the SHTF. Ryan Johnson also designed the Chogan tomahawk for CRKT, however, I believe the Kangee T-Hawk would make for a better self-defense tool, and one that won't let you down under survival conditions - no matter what you throw at it. And, like all CRKT tools, it comes with a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials.
As a testament, to how popular the Kangee T-Hawk is, as of this writing, (Early April, 2013), CRKT is currently sold out. However, they expect another shipment in by the time this article appears in SurvivalBlog. Now, the Kangee T-Hawk doesn't come cheap, full-retail is $185.00 - however, like many CRKT products, you can find it discounted on many locations.
Special Ops military personnel are learning the benefits of a tomahawk in combat, and for survival situations. If they think that a tomahawk, a well-made one, is worthy of combat and survival, maybe you should consider one for your own survival needs. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Traditions Training Cartridges are weighted and built like real cartridges.  They include a rubber insert to function as snap caps. Unlike most aluminum snap caps, however, they are heavy and strong enough to properly cycle, without becoming damaged. I recently tested these in 12 gauge, .223 rifle and .45 ACP. 

The .45 ACP pack contained 5 cartridges with 6 rubber inserts.  They were "loaded" with 230 grain ball projectiles, and apart from their black coating, were almost indistinguishable from live ammo.  I cycled these through an Auto Ordnance 1911 clone, through a dozen different magazines with no problems with the cartridges. In fact, they helped me identify two problematic magazines.  They fed flawlessly.  The hammer drop felt noticeably different due to the rubber primer insert, but there were no issues with the action.  They ejected very positively, just like real cartridges.
I tested the pair of 12 gauge cartridges (two in the pack, inserts already in place) in both a side by side ERA coach gun and a Remington 870 riot gun.  They held up well to the mechanical ejection, and loaded perfectly.

The two-pack of .223 were tested in an M4 clone. Again, they cycled just like real ammo.  I randomly loaded both into a magazine of live ammo to practice stoppage drills.  There was no detectable difference in the load part of the cycle, and upon the hammer dropping, they extracted exactly as a dud round should.
These are a professionally made and tough test and training tool I recommend acquiring. 

They are available in gauges/calibers of 10 semiauto pistol, 7 revolver, 5 shotgun and an incredible 42 rifle calibers, including most common hunting calibers and several military surplus calibers. 
Manufacturer's suggested retail prices range from $9.98 for a dozen .22 long rifle caliber, to $15.98 for a single .50 BMG (which I very strongly recommend as part of your kit, given the power involved in these rifles).

These feel so realistic, I also strongly recommend paying extra attention to safety.  Do not keep them near your live ammo when performing function tests, and inspect carefully before loading. Always have the weapon pointed in a safe direction, and at a safe backstop. NOTE: I was furnished a pack each of .223, 12 gauge and .45 ACP free for evaluation.

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

One thing I often hear from folks who live in the suburbs is, “Oh man, you’re so lucky, you can totally take your mountain cabin and make it an armed fortress.” 

That’s not exactly true.  While I do have a retreat in a rural area, I do still also have neighbors up there.  We are on acre+ lots, so there is space.  But if I started stringing barbed wire and digging a moat, it would raise a few eyebrows.  Not only might I get a visit from the DHS (or the People’s Republic of California equivalent), but my neighbors would have advanced notice that I was stocked up when it all hit the fan. 

So what I’ve done is gathered all the materials for that time when fortification will be necessary, and just have it in sheds or stacked discreetly on parts of the property. 

Then when the flag goes up, our first few days will be spent erecting the fence and stringing it with barbed wire, setting up the noise-making trip wires on the upper back side, setting up my solar-powered motion sensor lights, etc. 

You folks who live in a suburban neighborhood can do the same.  Just figure out what defenses you have in mind, get the stuff, and keep it in your garage until the balloon goes up.    

I feel bad for anyone who has to make a go of it in a suburb, but you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess.  Plus, be grateful it isn’t an urban area.  Probably your best bet would be to figure out how you could close off a set area (cul-de-sac or both ends of a street), and get enough material to do the whole area.  The plus side there is you’ll have instant allies and people to work with.  The down side could be that after a few weeks and hunger starts to set in, they may say, “Hey, if he had all the security equipment ready to go, he probably also stashed away food.”  One way to help throw them off the scent would be to now buy clothes from Goodwill that are a little too big for you, so they hang slack like everyone else will be wearing.  Another way, if you could afford it, is have extra food for them, too. 

Or perhaps a way to go would be to make an encampment of all the properties that touch yours, and leave it at that.  Anyone beyond that would be an outsider. 

I know there is a lot to think about on that, and I don’t envy you that task.  But I’ll close with the original point of this note, and that is to say you can hide security measures in your garage until you need them.  Good luck, get prepared and stay safe.  - Mountain Man Virgil

I just heard from my long-time friend, Gene Sockut, who lives in Israel. Gene was the chief firearms instructor for the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) for 26 years. Even though he's now in his mid-70s, he's still very active - he's a sniper/sniper instructor with the Israel Border Police, and has written several books, and videos and is a much in demand speaker on security matters in Israel. So Gene e-mailed me this morning, and he mentioned they are experiencing ammo shortages in Israel, much like we have here, and when you can find ammo there, it is double and triple the usual price. So, things are bad all over... Make It Count, - Pat Cascio (SurvivalBlog's Field Gear Editor)

That was an excellent article by George H. on Felling Trees. He mentioned Kevlar Chaps as only being recommended. Were I writing the article I would have advised people to use them as mandatory equipment.
I have never been a "safety nazi", but my dealer would not sell me my new Husky unless I bought these, which cost very little. I now agree with his demand.
He has an old time logger who almost died after cutting his femoral artery without these chaps. New saws of any manufacturer have higher RPM on the bar, and the chain will keep spinning around the bar longer than older saws I have used, making them more likely to be near the body before the chain is fully stopped.
The chaps have saved my artery area at least twice, and saved each of my sons. None of us cut without Kevlar Chaps. The cost is very little given the very possible alternative of death due to bleed out from a femoral artery nick, which has happened to many experienced loggers. Think about it, many of us live in rural areas, who are serviced by volunteer fire departments made up of great people, who may or may not be home when you get in trouble, who may not be able to respond quickly, who may not be in the best physical fitness level, who may not find you quickly, who may not know how to stop such bleeding, etc., and one can see that a femoral cut can kill you quickly. Go get some chaps! - George W.

K.A.F.'s Zucchini Patty Pancakes with Spinach Basil Dressing

Cooking oil spray

2 extra large zucchinis, shredded

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup garbanzo bean (or really any bean flour will work well)

1/8 cup dried minced onion

1 tsp. dried garlic

3 egg whites (if you don't eat eggs, substitute

1 T Xantham gum or 3 T potato starch for the binder)


For Dressing:

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1/3 cup water or orange juice

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

6 large leaves fresh spinach or 3 T dried powdered spinach

4 leaves basil

2 leaves parsley


Heat a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat.

Stir zucchinis, onion, carrot, garbanzo bean flour, onion, garlic and egg whites together in a bowl until well mixed. Divide zucchini mixture into equal portions and shape into large patties.

Pan-fry zucchini patties in the hot skillet until brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side.

Place yogurt, water or orange juice, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and spinach, basil, and parsley in a food processor; pulse until mixture is smooth.

Drizzle over zucchini pancakes to serve.

Chef's Notes:

This recipe can be made doubled and you can cook the patties in advance, for a good quick cold lunch, or reheat the patties as a side dish to a meat. Or cook them as you need them during the week.

Original recipe makes 6 patties. (For my family, I double this recipe.)

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Vegetable Pancake Recipes

Crispy Traditional Potato Pancakes

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

"QE to Infinity, and Beyond!" Here are two interesting articles: Fed Keeps Interest Rates Low, Continues Bond Buying Program and How long will interest rates stay low? JWR's Comments: The risk of rising interest rates represents a huge unknown. The Federal debt is now just barely manageable only because of artificially low interest rates. If interest rates begin to rise before the public debt is reduced to less than 60% of GDP, then the game is over. At that juncture the debt will be unserviceable and the only means of escape for our government and the Fed banking cartel will be mass inflation. So get out of Dollars and into tangibles (guns, ammunition, silver, et cetera), soon.

Ditch Basel Bank Rules, Just Raise Capital, Vitter Says

Some trivia: The Wikipedia page on The American Redoubt has been updated with a picture of The American Redoubt silver coin. Looks nice.

Items from The Economatrix:

Jim Rogers:  'Race To Insanity' Producing 'Artificial' Market Gains

COMEX Hurtling Towards Default And People Will Be 'Settled' With Dollars, No More Metal Will Be Delivered

Child Hunger Is Exploding In Greece...And 14 Signs That It Is Starting To Happen In America Too

US Economy Revved Up, But It's Probably Temporary

A very detailed new infographic about the prospects for ethnic divisiveness in America, created by a Christian anti-racist: America's Controlled Demolition.

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A reminder: PRNMED is conducting a three day medical class May 17-19 at the Ohio State University Campus in Caldwell, Ohio. This class will be unique since they will be doing some new scenario-based training. They will also include some new information about “tactical medicine," and will be using some skill stations to allow for more individual instruction in key areas. Please contact Dave Turner at, or telephone: (610) 633-2276. Visit for details.

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I heard about a new 100% domestic AK maker that will be well-positioned when the inevitable Federal ban on imported parts sets is announced: Resistance Arms. They are starting out via crowd funding. Once the import bans are announced, the few all-domestic AK makers will build huge backlogs, Panic now, and avoid the rush.

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B.B. recommended: What Should States Do When the Federal Government Usurps Power? Advice From James Madison, Father Of The US Constitution

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Todd Savage of Survival Retreat Consulting wrote to mention that he is looking for a circumspect real estate broker to work with who is located in eastern Washington. By the way, anyone considering a move to The American Redoubt should contact Todd. He knows the region very well and can help you find your optimal retreat.

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File Under Global Warming: Arkansas locations experience record snowfall, low temperatures for May.

"A free man must not be told how to think, either by the government or by social activists. He may certainly be shown the right way, but he must not accept being forced into it." - Colonel Jeff Cooper

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5th is the birthday of Pat Frank (1908-1964.) Pat Frank was the pen name of newspaper journalist Harry Hart Frank. His novel Alas, Babylon is a survivalist classic. His personal life was marred by alcoholism, but his writing is admired and still popular, despite the passage of five decades. As an homage to Pat Frank, one of the settings in my upcoming novel Expatriates is Mt. Dora, Florida, which was fictionalized by Pat Frank as "Fort Repose" in Alas, Babylon.


Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

Last summer I wrote an article on dealing with trash at your retreat and recently I wrote Part 1 of this article about sewing.  So I’m going to forego the usual introduction and description of my living style and just jump right into the topic.

I began to think about writing this article while watching the television show Jericho.  First of all, let’s just get this out of the way. I know that “Jericho” is a television show. I know that it is fiction.  I know that the conditions depicted are in no way realistic, etc.  It is a television show.  Okay, now that’s out of the way, I found myself considering events in the television show and how I would expect things in my community to go.  Would we share our food? Would we all get together at the pub for information? Who would come forward as a leader in our community since we have no local government?  I also thought about how my specific talents could be used community wide.  In the television show, the first winter was depicted as brutal. They give the idea that people were not prepared for the harsh winter without central heat in their homes.  Some people were shown as frozen to death in their homes, under single comforters and basic blankets.  Being a beginning quilter, I thought to myself, “Where were the quilting bees?  Where were the circles of women knitting and crocheting?”  Too provincial?   Too old-fashioned?   I imagine some people would say yes, but actually, these crafts remain very popular.  You have only to look online for patterns for quilting, knitting and crochet to see how popular these crafts are today.  The internet is overflowing with ideas, blogs and videos for today’s crafter.

So, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, what can you produce to keep yourself and maybe some neighbors warm if necessary?  Let’s start with quilting.  In our small community, I help a friend keep a small quilt shop open.   I quilt for her and sometimes watch the shop when she is gone.  The shop is full of quilts, not really fabric to quilt, but quilts made and sold on consignment.  I am by no means an expert quilter.  I still have much to learn, but I do know this.  You can make a quilt out of just about anything. 

A basic quilt is very easy to construct. You need a top, middle, and a bottom often called a lining.  Today, pieced quilt tops are works of art. New patterns are often copyrighted and the old patterns are still popular as well.  These pieced tops are an important part of our heritage, but they are not necessarily the only way to make a quilt. The top can be as easy as a sheet. Actually, this would be considered a whole cloth quilt and that type of quilt is older than the pieced quilt.  You can make quilt tops out of jeans, cotton, polyester, or double knit. I’d suggest something washable and sturdy if you are thinking of saving fabrics for this future project.  Just a quick note about double knit; it is absolute gold in some quilting circles (not the artsy ones) because it is indestructible, washable and warm, warm, warm.  It is really difficult to wear out double knit, so those awful leisure suits from the 70’s are still good for something. 

Next, consider the size that you will need.  King size quilts are hard to make just because of their size, but they are doable on a home machine. However, I’d aim for smaller quilts.  I will quote a standard range of sizes for bedding, but if you know what bed you are quilting for, measure it.  Some things to consider are overhang on the sides and at the foot of the mattress and if you tuck your pillows into the quilt or leave them on top.  If you tuck pillows as you would with a regular bedspread, then you’ll want to add length.  Is tucking pillows really that important in the TEOTWAWKI situation?  Absolutely not, but you might as well get some proper instruction while we have the chance.  Twin bed quilt sizes range from 76 to 82 inches wide by 105 to 110 inches in length.  Double bed quilts can range in size from 90 to 96 inches wide by 105 to 110 inches in length.  Queen sizes range from 100 to 110 inches wide by 100 to 110 inches in length.  King size quilts come in two different sizes, the standard and the Super King (or "California King") size.  Standard size quilts are for those mattresses that are thinner and the Super Kings are for the thicker pillow top mattresses.  Standard Kings range from 105 to 110 inches in width and 110 inches in length while super kings ought to be about 120 by 120.

Size can also be determined by your immediate need or by the materials that you have on hand.  First, you need to decide what you are going to use for a top.  If you use a sheet or another piece of whole cloth, then measure it and you are ready for the next step.  If you decide to piece it, you have several decisions to make.  Whether you are trying for a pattern or not, you’ll need some sort of idea about how you want to sew your pieces together.   You can sew them randomly and then get to a certain size, for example a 12” square, and trim it.  You can cut squares, rectangles, triangles or any variation of those pieces and sew them together in a pattern.  You can find thousands of patterns online, in books and in magazines.  I would suggest that you start with squares or rectangles.  You can cut squares any size between 3” and 12”.  It would be best to have all of your squares the same size.  Then you sew them into rows and the rows onto the other rows and you keep adding until you’ve reached the desired size.    You can cut up the legs of blue jeans and use these rectangles for strips.  Sew them randomly until you reach the desired quilt size.   When piecing like this, you want to keep your seams a consistent 1/4 inch.

Now, if you were making this quilt today, I would spend the next paragraph talking about ironing seams a certain way, matching seams so that they line up, and so on. Matching seams makes a nice quilt.  It is not absolutely necessary if you are making quilts in some kind of emergency situation.  It is always important to do the best job that you can do, but I also want to impress upon you that the purpose is to stay warm and covered.  In the end, and in an emergency, it doesn’t matter if the seams match.  This description of piecing a quilt top also does not cover the enormous range of things that you can do with a few hundred squares of fabric.  I’m not going to go into inner borders or outer borders or patterned borders or pieced borders.  Quilting is a huge topic.  If this article inspires some interest, then you really need to do some research on basic quilting.  One of the reasons why quilting remains so popular today is because it is an incredibly challenging form of art.  That’s not our focus.  Our focus is quilting in an “end times” scenario where you cannot run to the fabric store and design a piece of art for display. 

Your next step in quilting is to find fabric for the lining.  This is the back of the quilt and today is often sewn from one fabric.  The linings usually come from the same fabric.  Most fabric is 42” or 44” wide.  Some can be as wide as 108”.  On larger quilts, the fabric is often matched for pattern and then sewn to make the lining large enough.  They can be pieced just like the top of the quilt, but the seams are not very comfortable to sleep under.  But, if your bed is layered, then it isn’t a big deal.  Again, the beauty of the quilt is a current times concern, not one we’ll worry about once the ball (whatever ball) drops.  Your lining needs to be at least 2 inches larger all the way around than the pieced top.  This is important because as you quilt, the top tends to creep toward the edge.  That is why you start quilting in the middle.  We’ll get to that when we talk about the actual quilting. 

Next, you need to find the middle batting.  Some of us may have quilt batting stored, but even my friend, who owns the shop and quilts everyday all day, has only 10 bags of batting in the shop at a time.  So, most of us are not going to have a thick roll of batting lying around.  What else can you use?  A lot, actually.  You can use an old ragged blanket, you can use strips of fabric, you can use wool suits from your professional wardrobe (that quilt won’t be washable), you can use cut up t-shirts, old cotton socks (cut those in half so that they are one layer), you can use bath towels or a fleece, you can use old table cloths or curtains.  Sometimes pillows are actually layered batting, so they could be deconstructed.   Some of the things that might not work well are batting used for stuffing animals, nylon, leather, and paper.  Your batting needs to be 2” larger than your pieced top all of the way around. 

Just a quick word about wool.  I have an antique quilt made from wool suiting.  It is a tied quilt with cotton batting and a cotton lining.  You can’t wash these quilts. They either need to be shaken out and aired in the sun, or dry cleaned.  That doesn’t mean that they are not wonderful quilts.  The one that I have is very warm and the kids fight over it in the winter because we only have localized heat sources, not central heat.  As long as no one spills hot chocolate on it, I can keep that quilt nice with a few good shakes and hanging it on the line.

So, we’ve got a pieced top, batting and lining.  Now what?  You need to lay these three layers out on the flattest surface that you can find.  It is very important that all three layers are pulled and clamped as tautly as possible.  You will need to either pin the quilt with safety pins or baste the quilt with thread.  It is important to keep the layers taut so that the lining and batting don’t bunch up.  Your quilt will creep in the sewing process.  Pin the quilt in every square, do not pin over the seams because that is where you’ll be sewing.  Do the same with basting.  I’ve never basted a quilt; that is often a process used for hand quilting.

There are two processes in quilting and the first one that I’ve just described is called piecing.  The second process is the actual quilting.  In the article on sewing, I closed with the suggestion that everyone consult the article on sewing machines written by Lockstich and published in February 2013.  I hope he doesn’t mind if I renew that suggestion here.  Get a machine that meets your needs post-TEOTWAWKI.  If you don’t have a machine or your machine breaks, there are other options and I’ll get to those.  Assuming you have a sewing machine, there are a few options that you need to know when picking a stitch for your quilt.  Many people will choose a straight stitch because it will look like hand quilting.  I urge you to consider other, stronger stitches.  Most quilting machines have what is called a basic quilting stitch.  It is a modified zig-zag stitch and it is a very strong stitch.  I use this stitch and sew directly over a pieced seam.  That stitch is going to hold more than 100 years unless the quilt is left to the weather.  Look for something similar on your machine.  You might look for a serpentine stitch.  It is a straight stitch, but it locks both sides of the seam.  If you don’t have anything else, use a lengthened zig-zag stitch.  Only use a straight stitch as a last resort.   

To quilt, set your machine up to quilt.  If you have an extension table that goes around the arm of the quilt, then so much the better.   Roll your quilt like a scroll from two sides to the middle.  Depending on what you used as batting, the side you start with may matter, but usually you just choose.  Set your stitch and then start stitching at the top of the middle row and work your way downward.  You will see right off that it is not always easy to stuff the rolled part of the quilt through the throat of your machine.  Sew slowly, it will fit, but this is not the place to rush.  You can go up and down the rows until you reach the edge.  I’ve been taught to sew the edge at this point, but that doesn’t work well for me.  You’ll turn the quilt 4 times if you’ve just made a simple square pieced quilt.  You’ll want to quilt the rows from top to bottom and from side to side.  At this point, I sew my edges.  I sew the two sides first, and then the top and bottom.  You’ll see what I mean about creeping.  If you have a large fold of fabric, then cut right by the sewed seam and lay the fabric over it.  All of this will be hidden by the binding.

The next step is binding.  To bind, cut strips 2.5” wide.  Turn your quilt so that the back side is facing up.  Fold the binding strips in half and place the raw cut side on the edge of the quilt.  Sew ¼” in from the edge of the quilt.  Start this process in the middle of a side, do not start your binding at a corner.   This is one of the few places where you use a straight stitch.  Turning the binding at the corners is not hard or complicated; it is just hard to explain. Sew up to the corner and stop about two stitches from the end.  Turn your quilt and fold the binding in a tight triangle, setting the raw edge against the new side.  Start stitching again about 2 stitches from the top.  This process is much easier learned by seeing than reading.  There are many, many articles and videos on YouTube detailing this process.  Go look at them.  Once you’ve sewn the binding to the back of the quilt, turn your quilt to the front.   Starting in the middle of a side, turn the binding, so that it just covers the stitch at the edge and sew the binding on the front using the same stitch that you used to quilt the quilt.  A quilt bound in this manner will last a very, very long time.  If that just seems like too much work, then once you’ve pinned your quilt, you can trim the batting and fold the lining up, turn under the raw edge and sew it onto the front as a binding. 

Hand quilting is a treasure and legacy from our history and the skill should not be lost.  Pioneers used every scrap of material and quilted for warmth and comfort.  They quilted not for art, but for necessity.  It could be that, once again, Americans find themselves in a place where hand piecing and hand quilting are a necessity.  That being said, machine quilts are stronger and they last longer.  You can prepare for both or either; you choose.  If you choose to hand quilt, then you are going to need sharp needles and a good strong, thick cotton thread.  Hand piecing is similar to machine piecing.  You’ll want to keep a ¼” seam.  You will want to make small stitches and the more stitches per inch, the better.   With hand piecing, neatness counts.  It is important that your stitches be straight.  As for hand quilting, if this is just for warmth and not for show, then it doesn’t really matter what kind of pattern you use to hand quilt.   In hand quilting, you use a straight sewing stitch, with as many small stitches as you can neatly make.  You need to concentrate on the seams so that they can be secure and you need to quilt in areas that do not have seams.  You do not want large spaces or areas of your quilt un-quilted.  Hand quilting is a skill, more so than machine quilting.  If this is where your interests lie, practice.

Another way to put a quilt together is to tie it.  This is another situation where, if you are interested, you be best served to look this up on YouTube.  But, just in case, you can’t get there, tying is very easy, just difficult to describe.  If you have a quilt made out of squares then you’ll want to tie every four square intersection.  You’ll need a heavy thread or a yarn for this procedure.  You’ll also need a sharp needle.  With your needle you sew down from the top of the quilt about 1/8” from the intersection.  When you tie an intersection, you will only sew in two of the squares.  Leave an inch tail.  Come up on the diagonal and then take your needle back down on the diagonal close to that tail.  Come up again near your other stitch, leave a tail of about an inch and cut.  You are tying the seam where the squares meet and you sew across the seam of two squares.  You have something that looks like a stitch with tails of both ends of the stitch.  Then, using the tails, you tie a knot.  Again, a video on YouTube might be more helpful than that description.  Check it out if you want to know more.

That is basic quilting.  A top, a lining and something for batting could mean the difference between you and some really brutal winters.  Maybe you’ll need several, but this is a very easy skill to acquire and one that may serve you well. 

As I said, while I was watching “Jericho”, I wondered what my skills could add to the needs I saw portrayed on screen.  In addition to quilting and other fiber hobbies, I have taught myself to crochet and plan to teach myself to knit.  I wondered if any of the people who froze to death in that fictional winter could have used another wool hat or some gloves to stay warm.

The materials needed for both skills are easy and fairly inexpensive.  Crochet uses hooks and knitting uses needles.  Basic crochet hooks come in five sizes starting with size G and on through K.  There are smaller hooks and they have their uses, and I would get them while they are available.  But, for the most part, the smaller hooks are for crocheting smaller projects like doilies.  While I’m a fan of the intricate string crochet that you find in doilies, I’m not sure that the time learning to crochet doilies is time well spent.  Once you’ve made trunks full of afghans and other wearable crochet items, then maybe you can move on to doilies.  These crochet hooks can be found everywhere and they are inexpensive.   A basic set can be found at Amazon for less than $7.  I’m not near a Wal-Mart, but they can’t be much more than Amazon.  The same can be said for knitting needles.  They are only slightly more expensive than crochet hooks.  I’ve heard that some knitters can be very particular about their needles.  I personally don’t care for the shiny aluminum sets; I like the wooden needles better.  Knitting needles come in pairs and are usually 10” to 16” in length.  Some are tethered together and are called circular knitting needles.  The metric sizes range from 2.0 mm to 25.0 mm.  Within that range, the US has size designations, the UK has size designations, and on the list that I referenced, the Japanese have size designations.  The same could probably be said for other nations as well, but these three are the most consistent that I’ve seen.  I cannot recommend anything here.  I haven’t learned yet.  I have a basic 5 pair US set that I’ve learned some basic stitches on.  A basic set of aluminum knitting needles at Amazon will cost around $10.  The wooden ones may cost twice that.  There are also cable needles and place markers in knitting.  A book, a class, some videos online can get you started with this process.  If you look into this now, you’ve got choices.  You also need some sort of pattern.  Patterns are also everywhere.  Patterns can be found at craft stores, fabric stores, discount stores, and online.  It is very easy to find patterns at all skill levels.

The final tool needed is yarn.  Currently you can buy many different types of yarn that run from plain cotton to wool to exotic yarns like llama and alpaca yarn.  It can be expensive or it can be inexpensive.  The acrylic wool blend that I like at the moment is just over $5 a skein. I find that expensive, so I really watch for sales. It is bulky, though, so storing it will be an issue.  If you have those old afghans of your grandmas, with a snip at some knots, you can pull a crocheted afghan apart and use the yarn for other projects that suit your needs.  You can unravel a knit sweater to reuse yarn also.  This was a common practice in the Depression, but we don’t do it often now.  Machine finished and serged knit garments are less desirable because they are often not one continuous stitched piece.  You might look for hand knit and hand crochet items at thrift stores and garage sales. 

Since yarn is a key issue, my husband and I plan to add some sort of fiber producing animal to our homestead shortly.  We haven’t decided what animal, but probably goats.  Living in the desert, we cannot have a wooly animal.  Once we’ve achieved that goal, I will buy a spinning wheel and learn to spin.  I may have to go out of state for classes, or I may be able to teach myself.  The ability to keep some sort of animal that provides fiber and the ability to spin that fiber into yarn and to turn that yarn into something wearable puts a level of comfort into your homestead preparations that will set you apart from other preppers.

There are two consistent issues that I’ve heard about crochet and knitting.  One is keeping the yarn tension loose and consistent.  Most people attribute this to stress.  I’m not a stressed person.  I’ve never had to rip anything out due to thread tension, but I do know that there are many articles and helpful hints out there to help you if you have this particular problem.  The second issue is reading the patterns.  This is a valid point.  US and British have slightly different definitions for crochet terms.  Double crochet in the US is different than a double crochet in British terms.  German and Japanese companies release beautiful patterns, but they are not in English.  There is a new system using diagrams that I’ve seen here and there.  I think it will transcend language issues once a standard gets established.  It is important to read the pattern before you begin.  Usually, if you read it, you’ll find that a significant portion of the project is repeated.  Once you get the repeat down, you can make your project.  I’ve run in to this several times as I’ve taught myself to crochet.  Usually, I just crochet and rip, crochet and rip until I am satisfied with what I’m doing.  Since I enjoy this as a hobby, I don’t consider this time wasted.  When I finally get around to teaching myself to knit, I imagine that the process will be similar.  At the end of the day, you treat this skill like any other skill.  You start small and easy and work your way to more advanced projects.  If you get stuck, ask for help or find a video tutorial or a class at the local community center.  Figure it out now while you have choices.

Sewing, quilting and other fiber pursuits can really make the difference in the comfort level of a homestead.  Any time you read a book, fiction or non-fiction, about pioneers and Americans of the 18th and 19th centuries, you find skills.  Their skills are many and varied.  The way that our forefathers and the pioneers of old lived was remarkable, but for them it was simply how they lived.  They had those skills because they needed them; they used them, sometimes every day.  The more skills they possessed, the more comfortable their lives were.  In America today, most of us live a very comfortable life.  I can buy all of the hats, scarves, and quilts that I want to buy.   I don’t feel the need to apologize for our basic comforts.  I do believe, though, that the loss of our skills to mass produced merchandise is ill advised.  The point is, as a prepper, you can go out and buy stores of quilts, comforters, blankets, hats, scarves, clothing, etc. and store them.  But as a prepper, you know that doing for yourself, making for yourself, honing the skills to make a comfortable life for yourself is more important that what money can buy.
In review:

  • Quilting is an easy skill to attain.  Classes now can help you acquire those skills, but basic construction is only a top, pieced or not, a lining, and batting for the middle.
  • You can use a variety of material for each of these components.  Cotton is the best, but you can also use double knit, silks, velvets, wools, and any other fabric used in clothing.  Some of these fabrics require special laundering.
  • Make sure that you pin or baste your quilt very well. It isn’t the end of the world to have a crease on the lining, but as long as you’re learning, you might as well learn correctly.
  • Go back to the article written by Lockstitch in February 2013 about choosing a sewing machine that will stand up to the demands post TEOTWAWKI.  Find a good machine if you don’t already have one.
  • Try to use a good quilting stitch when using your machine.  If nothing else use a lengthened zig-zag stitch.
  • Hand piecing, hand quilting and tying quilts are also options for putting a quilt together.  They are slower and it is more difficult to make a quilt that will stay together.  Hand quilting is by far a larger skill than machine quilting, but machine quilts are inherently stronger.
  • Other fiber arts or hobbies, such as crochet and knitting could be very important in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  Having the clothing to layer both body and bed could keep you alive.

I was recently sent a Bible, a waterproof Bible, for testing for SurvivalBlog. Okay, I have a shelf full of Bibles, I hold several ministerial degrees, including a Doctor Of Divinity Degree, so I use different Bibles for studying God's word - some versions are easier to understand that others - thus a shelf full of Bibles.
When a survival situation comes down, I can't think of anything more important to have, than having a faith in God, and being a Believer in Jesus Christ - it is a saving faith, and one that has gotten me and my family through a lot of hard times over the years. When I was working in some security positions, and as a police officer, I always kept a small New Testament in my pocket or patrol car - for down time - when I could relax a little bit, and catch-up on reading God's word. I believe you can have all the survival gear and weapons in the world, but if you don't have faith to cling to, the bad times will only be worse for you.
So, I opened the box that I received and just took a look at this Bible - nothing really unusual about it, other than it was a bit heavier than some and it said it was waterproof. Never heard of such a thing, to be honest. I received the English Standard Version, and it is one version I didn't have in my library. I only gleaned a little of it - no need to read the entire Bible.
As "luck" would have it, we had a weekend of monsoon rains, and we even lost power at our homestead for 9-hours. I opened the Bible and placed it on the patio table and figured the next morning, the Bible would be ruined. When we have some serious rains, we have SERIOUS rains. Next morning, I went out to check on the Bible and it was "wet" but not wet...I took a couple paper towels and wiped the Bible off, and it was good as new - indeed, it is 100% waterproof.
Being waterproof, also means that the pages are a bit tougher than most Bibles have - the very thin pages you can find on most Bibles. There was no bleeding through any of the pages when they were wet - and I can attest to how easily a wet Bible page can be to read, more than one of my Bibles have had water spilled on them in the past, and all but ruined them.
The waterproof Bible is the concept and fruition of - a young couple who's ministry it is, to spread the Gospel, and do it in a different way - by providing something a bit different to folks - a Bible that can stand-up to the elements. You need to include a waterproof Bible in your survival gear, especially if you live in a wet climate, like I do, and you may have to bug out. While a regular Bible will suffice, it will get damaged in short order. If you have the waterproof Bible, it will last you through all the elements, and give you comfort and reassurance in troubling times. I have my sample, so I hope you all will check out their web site and place an order for one of your own. They also have different translations besides the English Standard Version, so check out their web site, you'll be glad you did.

Wisconsin family discovers fully-stocked fallout shelter in their back yard 50 years after it was installed at the height of the Cold War. Note how the military surplus ammo cans saved items that would have otherwise been ruined by the flooding of the bunker. (Thanks to reader Rhonda T. for the link.)

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Is the Seasteading concept finally coming to fruition? Reader L.G.C. wrote to mention that some Blueseed ships are scheduled to launch in 2014.

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Another one of Mayor Bloomberg's crime-fighting mayors is in agua caliente: E. Orange council demands mayor Bowser resigns after he admits to sexual affair in legal papers. (Thanks to Michael C. for the link.) Meanwhile, some news about another another Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) winner: Marcus Hook mayor to face gun, hostage charges. Oh, and indicted Trenton, New Jersey Mayor Tony Mack's trial on extortion, bribery, wire fraud and mail fraud charges is expected to begin in June. As is typical of arrogant MAIG mayors, Mayor Mack remains in office and on full salary while he awaits his trial. Meamwhile, Kwame Kilpatrick is awaiting sentencing. And let's not overlook the latest exemplary behavior of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy--yet another of Bloomberg's crew. I suspect that the MAIG headquarters must now have a full time Damage Control staffer. (I notice that they are now quick to scrub their roster of any member that gets arrested.)

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Despite some recent legislative setbacks in some Blue States, the right to keep and bear arms is still on an upward trend. (Note, for example, the advent of permitless concealed carry in Wyoming and Arkansas.)

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Is Operational Secrecy (‘OPSEC’) Dead?

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
(For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them].
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [is]." - Ephesians 5:8-17 (KJV)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 46 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of The current value of this roll is at least $225.

Second Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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 and 10 TAPCO polymer magazines (5 AR and 5 AK) courtesy of Armageddon Armory, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 46 ends on May 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.

Disclaimer: Tree cutting is inherently dangerous with many injuries and fatalities every year, please do you own research and obtain training before trying this on your own.

In New England there is extensive woodland and always a need to cut down trees to keep your garden growing and your house from being overrun. This keeps your house warm with the resulting firewood. Cutting down a tree is always risky but there are many ways to reduce this risk using various tools and skills.

Never start cutting unless you are well rested, fully alert and all your tools are sharpened and fully fueled.

First clear the area around the tree to be cut. Make sure you have several escape paths it case the tree decides to come down when and where you least expect it. Check for wind, do not cut if it is a windy day as the tree may suddenly get pushed over by a sudden gust.  Look for dead branches on the trees which may fall onto you during cutting, take these down if at all possible. If you can not remove the dead branches wear a hard hard and do not work under the dead branch Next look at the tree and branches, if it is on the edge of a forest odds are it will weigh more on the side away from the forest. Branches grow toward the sun more so then into a shaded forest. This helps with your estimate of where the tree will LIKELY fall. Another trick is to hug a tree and look up, which way is it leaning? That is a likely falling direction.

Once you know where you want the tree to fall or where it is likely to fall make sure there is nothing in the way. If there is might be a good time to throw a line over a high branch and begin directing the tree either with a helper and/or tying the heavy rope taught to a tree in the direction you are aiming for. Make sure the rope will not catch you when the tree falls! Placing the rope: the higher the better as this gives you more leverage. Also make sure the falling tree will not get hung up on another tree. This will result in a dangerous situation where the tree you are cutting may swing back at you or create a widow maker.
Use two tow straps and come-a-long if a shed or other structure is in possible danger. Or if the tree is too large for a heavy rope. Get the ropes and straps in place before cutting, after cutting has started the tree is more likely to come down at any time with a sudden gust of wind or if the tree has damage from ants, internal rotting or disease.

Get all of your tools ready for use, not just the tool you think you need. If the tree shifts and pinches your chainsaw you need a backup right away not after the batteries charge and saw is sharpened and you have found the wedges. Keep the tools nearby but safe. I keep the tools behind a tree I am not cutting so if the tree comes down towards the tools they should still be safe.


Next notch the tree on the side towards to desired felling. Chainsaw or axe works great for this, chainsaw requires two cuts about one third through each at about 30 degrees from horizontal.This takes some practice as the first few cuts may not line up on both sides requiring a 3rd or 4th cut. An axe can also create this by shifting the swing angle to match. Next make a single cut on the side away from the fell direction with a chainsaw or timber saw, this gives the tree one way to fall without resistance (desired direction and the other side can only shift slightly before coming to rest on the saw and tree. Do not cut completely through the tree. You want to create a pivot point NOT have a moving tree coming at you. Hopefully the tree comes down right where you want it to.
If I am using an axe I make a point of switching my swing direction. Swinging to the right is the most comfortable and accurate for me but it limits how much I can do. Plus if i am ever injured on that side no more tree cutting. Switching the swing allows me to cut faster longer after getting used to it. If there is not room to swing an axe then stop and clear the brush and branches. How are you going to get out of the way when the tree starts coming down at you if you don’t have room to swing an axe?

After the tree is down the next step is limbing the tree which is fastest for me with an axe. Always stand on the side of the tree opposite of the branch you are swinging at. If you miss or the axe goes through the branch the tree will take the blow not you. Also swing at the branch to hit the branch towards the bottom of the tree. This results in a cleaner break the swinging from the top down.
After limbing pull all the branches out of the way and create a brush pile well out of sight. This gives you a safe work area for cutting up the trunk. This brush pile can be used as a barrier for someone approaching your house and could also be used as concealment for both you and someone approaching you.

I typically cut the trunk and large branches into 4-6 foot lengths and leave to season for firewood. 4-6 feet is what I can comfortably handle for heavy green wood depending on the tree size. Next year I will cut it into size and know it is ready for burning.

After an ice storm two years ago my tree cutting took greater importance. We had many heavy branches on our power lines and lost power for a week due to trees in the area taking out power lines. At the time I had all my hand tools, no power tools. Hand tools are fine if you have time and energy, during the ice storm I had neither! Power tools I consider a force multiplier, Same amount of time and effort I get twice the work done.

Hand tools were fine for clearing our 400 foot driveway after the storm but not the garden, yard and woodlot that year. Gas powered chainsaws were great when I was cutting many trees but for occasional use electric has much less maintenance and is faster to setup. Initially I went with a battery powered chain saw and pole saw both using the same battery packs. This worked very well as by the time the batteries were drained I had as much cut up as I could handle before needing a rest. I also shifted to vegetable oil for chain lube since my fruit and nut trees need pruning often. I obtained a corded electric chain saw soon after for firewood cutting. I can run this off the photoelectric battery bank and keep my work quiet good for OPSEC.

Safety equipment- always steel toed boots, leather gloves and safety glasses. If I am using a pole saw or a branch might fall from above then a hard hat or lumberjack helmet as well. Kevlar chainsaw safety chaps are recommended for frequent use of gas chain saws but can be pricey and not rated for electric chain saws. Leather gloves with a gel insert to protect your hands from t