July 2013 Archives

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31st is the birthday of free market economist Milton Freidman (born 1912, died November 16, 2006.)


Camping Survival is having an unprecedented "10% off everything" sale from July 30th to August 1st. Take advantages and use coupon code "everything10"


Today we present the final entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 48 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.

Gardening in the Southwestern United States is a huge challenge!  Growing a successful garden takes hard work and a commitment to never give up.  My gardening quest began in earnest in October 2010.  Prior to 2010 I had planted seeds in the ground with few, if any, results.  I had one lemon tree and aloe vera plants (part of my first aid kit, used for burns, skin irritations, etc.) that grew without much help from me.  A friend, who was a master gardener, gave a class one Saturday on how to start a garden.  He taught basic desert gardening and helped us create small square foot gardening boxes (2 x 2).  I brought home two of these (8 square feet total) and another shallow box in which to plant spinach and lettuces.  October was the perfect time to plant a fall garden.  I mostly planted greens, which are supposed to be easy to grow.  I watered and waited and hoped for a small harvest since I now had a miniature “garden” (if you could call it that).  It was a start.  Since that time, I’ve graduated to larger garden boxes that are four feet by eight feet long.  Planting in the ground here just doesn’t work due to poor soil and water loss. Garden boxes help control water usage/waste and soil quality. 
A visitor from up North was looking over a friend’s first attempts at a garden in the ground and remarked, “I had no idea what you were up against.”  People from other parts of the country can’t comprehend how difficult it is to grow a garden in the desert.  This gardener’s next attempts included raised bed boxes, bird netting and improved soil.  After a lot of hard work, he now has a garden to be proud of.

Building a garden box takes a few materials and a little bit of work.  Cedar and Douglas fir are good choices for building materials.  Four by four posts make the corners and then three two by six boards are screwed into the posts to make up the sides and ends.  The outside of the boxes are sealed with water sealer to help them endure the weather.  Once the rectangular shape is completed, an area is leveled and bricks are placed as a foundation for the box to sit on.  Place the box on top of the bricks and add ground cover cloth inside the box on the ground.  Cover the inner sides of the box with plastic sheeting to protect the boards from water damage, soil loss and water leakage.  Attach the plastic sheeting to the tops of each side with staples or secure with two by twos on the top of each side. Fill the bottom half of the boxes with sandy loam - delivered from a local company.   Next, finish filling the boxes with a mixture of vermiculite, peat moss, and two different types of compost.  Fill the boxes really full, since the soil will compact down over time.  Each planting season the boxes need to be topped off and the soil loosened.  This initial investment will last for years and grow excellent crops.  Test soil for nutrient levels with the local extension.  Very few weeds grow in these boxes, so most of that work is eliminated.

The type of seeds selected is also important.  Certain plants just won’t grow in the desert.  Look for heat resistant varieties.  The season in which a certain type of plant is planted matters also.  Zone nine has very different planting dates than other regions.  For example, tomato plants (not seeds) planted outdoors (from indoor starts) in late February will yield a nice harvest in May, June and into July.  The plants will usually stop producing and become dormant in August and part of September.  However, if they are kept alive, they will produce a nice second crop in late October, early November.  Even better, if the plants are covered and kept from freezing through the winter, then they will last for a second year.  After that, I like to grow new plants and move them to a different bed because diseases and bugs seem to overcome the plants at this point.  One friend had the same vigorous tomato plants that lasted for three years.

As of this writing, I have six garden boxes with one more in progress.  There is a permanent mountain of sandy loam on the back patio to be used in future projects.  At one point I felt that I had plenty of garden space with just four boxes, but last fall I planted half a box with carrots and the other side with onions (nice companion plants) and thought that would be plenty, but it wasn’t even close to enough.  Some onions were frozen while others were used in daily cooking (I like cooked onions) with very few left to use in making salsa, and none were left for dehydration.  The carrots were delicious and used quickly as well.  There weren’t any left to preserve.  The carrot tops went to a friend’s rabbits – a special treat.  Otherwise, the carrot tops would have been composted along with the rest of the garden leftovers to help improve the soil so we can stop buying peat moss.

The first couple of gardening years I had beautiful plants with little to actually eat.  I read somewhere that the most important part of growing a garden is the harvest.  Since then, I’ve concentrated more on production and how much we can eat from the garden.  The more the fruit or leaves are harvested, the more the plants are stimulated to produce.  This is especially true with strawberries, lettuces, spinach, and Swiss chard.

This year I have more than enough tomatoes.  Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, and combined with the citrus fruit that’s abundant in our area, scurvy won’t be a problem during an emergency situation.  Usually, I eat tomatoes fresh from the garden on salads or as a side dish with meals and that’s all.  It’s been nice to give them to friends and have leftovers to can as well.  One garden box was planted with two Early Girl, two cherry, and two Roma plants.  Six plants are the maximum one box will hold (tomatoes are space hogs and like to have lots of room for their roots).  The plants grew over six feet tall.  They are staked (with tomato cages and PVC pipe supports because I don’t like vines in the dirt. They seem to get covered with ants and the fruit rots easily) and have sun screens and bird netting over the top for protection.  Birds don’t seem to bother the green tomatoes in June, but once they start to turn, it’s a war to see who will get to the fruit first.  As the weather gets warmer, the birds get more aggressive and the bird netting in a necessity to keep the fruit from being ruined by the pests.  After the garden was planted, a friend brought over four additional Roma plants.  Roma tomatoes are wonderful – firm and medium sized with a pleasing flavor. 

What to do with the extra tomatoes?  First, a huge batch of spaghetti sauce was made using 1 jalapeno, green peppers, onions, and garlic from the garden.  Chili powder was also used since we like our sauce spicy.  This sauce included meat and was frozen.  Next, another batch of spaghetti sauce was made without meat.  This was canned using a cold pack canner - tomatoes are acidic enough that they don’t need to be pressure canned as long as they don’t contain meat.  I started with spaghetti sauce because the tomatoes don’t need to be peeled. 

Since I had so many tomatoes, I wanted to try salsa (first time) and knew the tomatoes needed to be peeled to make it correctly.  I found a few recipes and experimented.  Slip peeling tomatoes isn’t difficult.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and set up a large bowl of ice water.  Wash tomatoes and place in boiling water for 30 seconds, for canning whole (or 3 minutes for salsa, depending on the recipe).  Remove from boiling water and place in ice water for 30 seconds.  Remove from water, core with a knife, and then slip the skin off with your finger.  The skin will slide right off.  Some of these skinned tomatoes were canned whole with ½ tsp. lemon juice and ½ tsp. salt.  Fill jars to ½ inch of top with water/juice and process as usual.  The tomatoes that were processed for three minutes were cooked somewhat (which you need for salsa).  After peeling they go into the food processor or blender.  Depending on the recipe, the chilies and onion can be cooked first or added raw to the tomatoes.  Add spices and cilantro and put salsa in the fridge to be enjoyed right away or put into canning jars and processed for use later.

Usually my garden has finished most of its summer production by mid-July, but this year, in July, it’s still going strong.  We eat cherry tomatoes as a snack and on salad almost daily.  It would be nice if all the things I tried to grow grew as well as the tomatoes.  Beans, squash, strawberries, and cucumbers still challenge me.  My zucchini plants look gorgeous, but don’t produce any squash.  My gardening friend says I have a pollinator problem and need to pollinate by hand.  I can’t tell the difference between the male and female flowers so I just go out with Q-tips and rub pollen from one flower on all the others.  It just hasn’t worked.  He may have to come over and show me exactly what to do because I’m stumped.  Meanwhile, my gardening girlfriend has bounteous zucchini – maybe she will trade for tomatoes.  Next year I may not have as many tomatoes or they may get a disease, but this year I’m thankful for my successful salsa garden and I’ll do everything I can to preserve this bounty.

As I’ve studied material on gardening and prepping, I read comments such as, “Be sure to have seeds in your preps so that in a year or so you can plant them to replenish your food supply.”  A year?  A year is too long to wait!  Other than August, gardening can be done all year long in Southern Arizona.  Cool weather vegetables need to be planted in October, citrus ripens from December to April, and spring and summer gardens can be planted from February through March.  The seeds need to be put in the ground at specific times.  Even if seeds are started indoors, they can be transplanted outdoors later.  They need less water this way and can be protected from garden “raiders”.  Most marauders/scavengers would (hopefully) overlook seeds that had just been planted and garden boxes (the big ones) are not easily moved.  My small lettuce/spinach boxes could be easily taken away.  These I would gladly give up if the other plants were left alone.  In a worst case scenario I would still try to plant a garden using armed guards, if necessary. I’m counting on desperate people, who are looking for food, to overlook plants in the garden/ground as food, since food comes from a grocery store in cans and boxes – right?  It may not be practical, but I will try planting any way I can because a garden is a symbol of hope.  Even if just a few things grow, it will have been worth it to give myself and others even a small amount of fresh produce in a stressful time.  On the other hand, if trespassers steal my produce, then I will plant again and use my indoor stored food until I can plant again.

Here are a few things I have learned about/from gardening:
1.  Gardening is a process, a journey, and not a destination.  There will always be more to learn.   The more you learn, the more you realize you need to learn.
2.  Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and to make (many) mistakes.  Spend time in the garden just enjoying it.  Touch the plants and dig your fingers into the soil.  Attempt to unravel the mystery of an artichoke or whatever new and unusual plant you are growing this season.
3.  Be patient.  Growing a garden takes time.  I used to pick and wanted to pick things before they were ripe.  Sometimes, I still pick tomatoes a day or two early, but that’s to save them from aggressive birds.  They ripen nicely on the kitchen counter and still taste superior to store bought. A garden takes time to establish and the basic learning curve is about five years.  The things I’ve learned during the first four years in my garden have been invaluable to me.  I’ve become more confident in my ability to see a project through and not give up.  I’ve seen tiny carrot seeds become beautiful plants and then have gone on to eat and enjoy the crunchy, delicious taste.  I can’t imagine going without fresh Swiss chard or green peppers that have become a part of my weekly cooking, all in season, and not before their time.
4.  Eat/Preserve locally.  I never plant corn in my garden because so much corn is available here during June.  I can get it free and eat some fresh and freeze some for later.  A quick one minute bath in boiling water starts to cook the corn, which can be cut from the cob or frozen on the cob.  It stacks nicely in freezer bags.  Watermelon is also local and free.  An extended family member raises watermelon as gifts for friends, so we always get a few.  Farmer’s markets are great places to find fresh food to can or dehydrate.  When fruit is on sale it quickly becomes jam (strawberries, raspberries) or is frozen to be made into muffins or smoothies (blueberries).  Preserve what is abundant now.  Each year will be different.  If tomato products are coming out of your ears, then barter.  My neighbor down the street brings me grapefruit during the spring (I only have a lemon tree, but will be growing a grapefruit tree this year).  She gets tomatoes in June in return.
5.  When you think you’ve watered enough, water some more!  Water is a whole topic by itself, but there is no way to water too much.
6.   Keep a garden journal.  Include dates of planting, fertilizing, garden design & the changes made each season, and pictures of plants in different stages of development, especially new plants that are experimental or causing trouble.  This will be a great resource.
7.  Pray.  The Bible tells us to pray over our flocks and fields.  I’ve prayed many times for rain and for understanding to know what my plants need (Too much nitrogen? More shade?  Less fertilizer?)  In tumultuous times, a prayer on the garden as well as a blessing on the food couldn’t go amiss.  As I search for answers regarding watering a garden when the municipal water supply isn’t up and running, I keep turning to prayer to help me find answers to this important question.  (Again, water is a whole issue on its own.)  Pray in gratitude for the abundance that you’ve been given (thank you for the tomatoes) and more will be “added unto you”.

I’ll do whatever it takes to continue to garden.  I finally feel ready to take my gardening to the next level.  This includes planting heirlooms and beginning to save seeds from the heirloom vegetables (seeds should only be saved from ripe fruits/vegetables).  I want to move away from GMO/hybrid seeds and plants and try new varieties.  I’ll plant several new trees and will experiment with grapes and raspberries.  One of my garden beds will be used to plant a “three sisters” garden (corn, beans, and squash) next year, which according to Native American lore, help each other grow better (companion planting).  The corn shades the beans and squash while the bean plants grow up the corn stalks and the nitrogen content of the soil is nicely balanced. 

Plants that weren’t successful in the past will be tried again in new and better locations (improved microclimates) with some new techniques to see if better results will ensue.  I have a new location for strawberries and will cover them with straw when the weather turns hot and continue to water, long and slow.  This may save the plants for more than one growing season and protect the delicate leaves from sunburn.  Another item will be to plant more of what we eat/like and less of other things.  Dill is an excellent herb that I use frequently in my cooking.  It goes in potato salad, egg salad, deviled eggs and almost anything else that contains potatoes.  Dill needs to be planted in full sun in order to germinate, but doesn’t like the hot days of summer.  I’ll plant more in October and dry it when it’s ready.  Dill is so expensive to buy in small containers at the store, but is very inexpensive to grow.  A few seeds turn into a lot of dill! 

Another area to be improved upon is my composting.  I need a better system to save scraps from the kitchen and then remember to take them out to the composting container.  My container came free from the city simply for the asking.  It’s nearly full.  I may call and see if they will give me another one.  Many more projects and ideas are waiting, but I’ll tackle just one at a time and continue reading and learning about southwestern gardening.

My garden is a hopeful, positive place.  I can’t imagine my life without a garden now or in the future.  Gardening in challenging in Arizona, but I like the challenge and have learned how much can be accomplished with hard work and persistence.  Just start small and take it one step at a time like I did, and if you have lots of tomatoes, make some salsa (with salsa, who needs a recipe, right?), and if your lemon tree goes nuts, then make some lemonade too. 

Dear Jim and Readers,
I want to start out with a little bit of pre-history. About five weeks ago I had my first heart attack, and the doc installed a stint. That was a wake-up call! Wow. Of course the subject by the doc was diet, lose the lard, get exercise. I started losing by cutting back, but I needed a bit more help. Work would be nice, it would help with my activity level plus I needed some extra finances to come in as some big bills were hitting all at once. So when all these things begin to get out of control I prayed. "Hey Lord, I need to lose all this fat, and I need enough money to pay my bills. YOU have never ever failed me, could you help me out on this one please"? Less than an hour later I got a phone call from our troops Boy Scout Master, who just happens to be our Scout Camp Ranger at Camp McLaughlin in the Crater Lake Council. "Hey Dave, are you free for the next four weeks? I got a job that pays a thousand dollars, ya want it?” Immediately I thought - Hmmmmm, that was sure quick Lord thanks! And answered - “Yes I will take it! What is it? (I really didn't much care even if it was cleaning toilets, they get really messy there.) He said “You're an ol' sarg, could you help run the BB gun range, it would be a lot of fun?" " Let me see-- hold on a minute". A short pause and short question to my dear loving wife, “Can I go away for a month and help run a BB gun range at the scout camp?” Her response, "I'll help you pack!". Back to the Camp ranger. "Yes she wants me to get some exercise, and start recovering from the heart attack, and doesn't want me to get shot, when do I start?" "Be here tomorrow morning at seven and meet the boss and staff. And bring enough stuff to last you at least 4 days. You’ll be on 4 and off 3 days during the month.“ A few thoughts like “ Hmmm 0700, I haven't gotten up that early in months, ahh I guess I can do that.” “Sure I'll be there.” At 0500 I got up, showered, packed, and was out the door by 0545 with a cup of coffee. My go bag had most of my stuff, so the packing was easy.

It was a beautiful drive down the highway, with the sun coming up the drive across to the Crater Lake Highway. Up and across the valley to West Side Road was absolutely gorgeous. What a beautiful day to be on the flower side of the roots. It could have very well been the other way around. I was very thankful to our loving God. The time with Him and His beautiful creation was a real treat. "Thanks again, Lord". Sixteen miles on West Side Road, to the 140 road to Medford, up the mountain about nine more miles and a mile south to the scout camp. The camp sits on the beautiful Lake of the Woods. Sixty one miles on the button, and ten minutes to spare. Hmmm, a bit over 55, but not much. I met my Scout Troop Master and my new boss, hmmmm younger than my 33 year old son. They were very appreciative that I would even consider the job." Glad to do it, if it’s for the boys. They need good guidance and this helps me to get out from under my wife's feet." A bit later I met my new mentor, a fine retired Master Chief also named Dave. A bit older than me, and we hit it off quickly. I was his new shadow. We discovered we had something in common - we both had heart attacks within days of each other and both shared the same doctor.

We went to the range to prepare for the next group of cub scouts and almost an
equal number of parents. More groups started coming down a couple of hours later. Dave sat me down to read the Boy Scout BB gun range master chapter, and all the rules, etc. Not difficult, but it was sure hard to not call the BB gun a weapon, a BB a round and change from open the breach or chamber. The boy scout terminology is OPEN THE ACTION, BB gun, or rifle. But it's not rifled. So BB gun works nice. After passing a test that was actually pretty easy for me once I learned the terminology of the Boy Scouts. I was issued a BB gun range officer certification. Wow, an ol’ retired guy, an expert marksman from my military days with the M-60, M-16, M-79, Ma duce, and not so expert at the time with the 1911A1, but now I am, and can add the SKS to it too. And now a BB gun. The first day was the safety spiel, the following two days was practice, competition and when possible chatting and shooting a bit with some real marksmen, and moms of the boys when time permitted.

I struck up some new friendships with some dads who had some of our readers common interests. There were several who were of like mind. In the evening after retreat, a few of us had time to talk. One told me it was really hard for the boys to correlate the big board we had with the sites and site picture painted on it to the actual site picture. So I said I would bring it up to other Dave, and we put our heads together. Our idea, was to take a BB gun and line the sites up on the target on the range exactly where the gun would hit the target for the bull. We did this with the sand bags. Then we took Dave's cell phone and took about a dozen pictures trying to get just the right sight picture. When we finally got it, he went home and made copies of the best one and we laminated them so they could be handled over and over. We did enough for each firing position.

Next we presented the idea to a large group of scouts and their dads. There were two police officers in the group. Their eyes lit up, and one hollered WHAT A GREAT IDEA! He looked at the picture and wondered why no one had ever done that before. My past life I worked in a research lab as an engineering development tech, and helped develop lots of really great ideas ( like our automatic blood pressure cuffs), so my little synapses still work now and then, especially when I think something could be improved on.

Our first day with the photographs made our day so much easier. We used the picture before the first BB was ever fired and had the parents or ourselves hold the picture up in front of the barrel aligned with the sites. The boys would look and see what they were supposed to see in the picture and it worked great for the boys to find the correct site picture when they were aiming the rifle. Our day was very long but extremely satisfying. Our kids had a great time. We gave out tootsie rolls for ever hit in the X or that broke the line. By the end of two full sessions, three days each, we ran out of tootsie rolls. The candy chewers were really making our job easier. Of course we had to sit down with many boys to help them in learning how to hold the BB gun, get their breathing right, their cheek and shoulder weld the same each time, and squeeze the trigger, instead of jerking it. LOTS OF FUN for us old guys teaching these skills. I really enjoyed it.

All of our guns, and bows and arrows are all provided by grants from the NRA (a little plug for them). Even though I'm not a member, I'm now considering it. We also beg for grants from anyone who will help. There is a great need for positive role models to work with our youth.

OK, now to the meat of what I want to talk about. I had a lot of time to sit down at the table and check sites and put a lot of BB's down range at about 31 feet. It gave me lots of time to practice. PRACTICE. I can't afford to get 22 ammo right now at a cheap enough price that I want to blow money practicing my marksmanship. The thought came to me that this would be a good subject for Survivalblog. I was able to work on my breathing, concentration, site picture, sighting with all of the rifles, and most of all my trigger pull. These little guns can be used in almost any back yard, with a low hanging clothes line, a piece of old tent canvas to catch the BB's and some good targets hung with cloths pins. Hmmm, my wife still uses them. Mom's do you remember how to hang a shirt on the line? I was surprised how many kids that had never seen a cloths pin and the response was usually. ‘Nah! my mom uses a dryer.’ Well folks break out the cloths pins, line and start drying out side again. Oh you don't need starch when you hang clothes on the line either. BB's are cheap. The guns we used were about $50 dollars. You can copy targets off on your own printer.

I started cleaning out the bulls eye in 10 to 15 shots.

Another thing, add clothes pins to your trading larder for when the SHTF. All those boys moms are going to need them. I wonder how many. 22 rounds you could get for a pack of them.
I have really enjoyed having time to shoot, and enhance my skills, and cleaning up some bad habits. The boys were all a real blessing to work with. They were all great youngsters. They are our future leadership. If you ever get the chance to work with youngsters take it. The pay is very low, accommodations rustic (minus 5 stars) and food, worse than a bad GI mess hall, but that’s the FDA’s fault. Oh it is also a good way to meet like-minded people. I made several new friends who need some help with communications, my usual subjects. Looks like new opportunities are just around the corner.
Thank you Lord for the help and fun, I left 15 pounds and 4 inches behind too. Blessings to you all, - Dave of Oregon

Reader Karl G. suggested this by William A. Levinson: How the Cooper Color Code Explains 'Stand Your Ground,' and Prevents Crime

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Todd Savage of Survival Retreat Consulting wrote to mention that he has been successful is finding retreats for a large number of clients this year. He also mentioned that he is offering a 50% discount for clients who retain his services during the month of August, 2013.

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"Lithium is no longer available on credit." Back to Land Lines? Cell Phones May Be Dead by 2015

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Reader B.G. sent a link to a fascinating bit of the history of modern Israel: A Secret Underground Cartridge Factory. Oh, and BTW, some modern-day kibbutzim are still cranking out war materiél.

"Ninety-seven percent of Americans don’t live in New York City, don’t want to live in New York City and certainly don’t want a New York City mayor telling them how to live their lives. There is a resentment level to that." - Erich Pratt, Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st and the queue is full, but you can e-mail us your entry fro Round 48. 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.

Bone broth is slow-simmered broth, made with bones.  Vegetables and/or vegetable scraps are also sometimes used, as is a shot of vinegar to help leach the minerals from the bones.  Bone broth is healthful and frugal.
Why make bone broth?  For starters, prepping can be expensive!  Being frugal makes prepping easier.  Bone broth can be “almost” free to make, from items that you don’t even realize that you have, hence the “Stone Soup” title.   Also, bone broth is chock-full of minerals and nutrients, which is always a good thing, but especially so if/when the “balloon goes up”, when staying healthy will be of the utmost importance.  It is great for stiff joints, and it is supposed to promote gut wellness.  In addition, bone broth is easy to make. 

There are online resources that can explain in detail the health benefits, scientific facts, history, and miscellaneous other minutiae regarding bone broth.  This article isn’t about that.  It’s about my personal experience, and tips for a successful and delicious pot (or two, or ten) of broth.  Feel free to search for more information; I encourage you to do so. 

Any bones can be used for bone broth.  I am particularly fond of using “used bones”.  Roasting a turkey?  Save the carcass.  Grilling chicken legs?  Save the bones.  Rack of ribs?  Yep.  I freeze as many bones as I can.  I also freeze trimmings from carrots (peels, ends, etc.), onions (skins and all), garlic, and most other veggies.  I typically don’t save cruciferous vegetable scraps, though.  They are too strongly flavored, and can make your broth bitter.  They can be used if you really like them, but I typically don’t. 

I also save “wild bones”.  We butcher our own game, and I save many of the bones.  I usually don’t save the spines of deer, but a large quantity of the animal’s other bones end up in my freezer.  Venison and wild turkey stock have made the foundation for some truly gourmet meals in my home.  Deer bone broth simmered with rosemary and juniper berries is a delight!  Wild turkey noodle soup?  Delicious!

The easiest way to start making bone broth is to start saving bones and scraps.  I have numerous zip top bags in my freezer with various bones, meats, and vegetable scraps.  When they fill up, it’s time to make broth.  I also save veggies that are starting to “go south” in the vegetable scrap bag.  Nothing spoiled, mind you.  But it’s the perfect place for slightly limp vegetables that would otherwise be wasted.  When I prepare meals, I save the things most people throw away.  My biggest dilemma is deciding which scraps go to the freezer, and which scraps go to the chickens!  Bone scraps go into bags by type.  I do use bones that may have been chewed, as in rib bones or chicken leg bones.  They are frozen and then simmered for many hours at temperatures that kill bacteria, so I feel safe in using them.  Use your judgment.  It’s up to you.  There may come a day when you have no choice.  We have never become ill by doing this.  If I were canning the broth, I may reconsider this practice, but I don’t usually do so.  I occasionally buy pig’s feet (“trotters”) for broth, as they contain lots of gelatin and make the broth really rich and silky.  They are also great if you are using the broth for stiff joints.  I can get two feet for about a dollar.  “They” say that often, you can make friends with a butcher and get them free of charge.  I haven’t tried that yet. 

There really isn’t a set recipe for bone broth; it’s more of a technique.  Obviously, you start with bones.  Grass-fed beef bones are spectacular, but if you can’t get them, or more likely can’t afford them, regular grocery store beef bones are fine.  “They” say that broth made with conventionally-farmed bones won’t have as many vitamins, but it will have some, and the minerals should be the same.  If the animal was able to stand, it had minerals in its bones.  Organic free-range chicken bones make spectacular broth, but I’ve made a pretty darn good broth with the bones from take-out chicken.  In short, use what you have.  It will work, and it will be fine. 

So, place some bones in a pot, slow cooker, Dutch oven, etc.  I typically use my slow cooker, because it uses very little electricity and requires very little attention once set to cook.  Right this minute, I have about 3 pounds of beef marrow bones (two large bones that I purchased) in my 7-quart slow cooker, along with one large onion cut into chunks, some garlic scapes (just because I have them…otherwise I would have added 3-6 garlic cloves), and some celery, including the leaves.  I only have the purchased soup bones because they were a really good deal at the grocery store; less than a dollar per pound.  Normally, I use bones from roasts I’ve cooked, steaks I’ve grilled, or the like.  If I had a bag full of vegetable scraps in the freezer (I normally do, but I used them up earlier today to make fish bone broth and pork bone broth), I would use them instead of the chopped vegetables. I added a shot of white vinegar, maybe two tablespoons.  I don’t measure the vinegar, and honestly, sometimes I forget to add it.  It still works fine.  Vinegar is supposed to help draw out minerals from the bones, and it stands to reason that it should, but the broth will still be delicious and healthful if you don’t use it.  I have a few backyard chickens, so sometimes I throw in a few eggshells for the minerals they contain.  I turned the slow cooker to the Low setting for 10 hours (the maximum).  After about an hour, I will leave the lid slightly ajar, because my cooker runs a little hot.  The broth should barely bubble.  They say boiling damages the nutrients.  I don’t know about that, but it tastes better when it doesn’t boil.  Since it is evening, I will reset the slow cooker so it runs all night.  I am comfortable doing this; if you are not, only cook this during the day.  I normally cook beef bone broth all day AND all night. 

Simmer your bone broth for as many hours as you want.  Guidelines are anywhere from 2 hours to 72 hours, so obviously your mileage may vary.  I typically simmer fish broth for 3-6 hours, chicken for 6-12 hours, pork for 10-20 hours, and beef for 10-30 hours.  Taste it frequently, and when it’s really delicious, it’s done.  Strain through cheesecloth, if you like.  I normally use a wire sieve without cheesecloth.  You can strain more than once for perfectly clear broth, but that just seems like a lot of extra work to me.  Chill the broth, and remove the layer of fat, if you like.  If I use grass-fed beef, pastured pork, or organic chicken, I do not remove the fat.  I believe that it is healthy and nutritious, and it’s also quite tasty.  If I use bones from conventionally farmed meat, I do remove it.   Additionally, I remove any venison fat that occurs, only because I don’t care for the taste. 
Use your finished broth for soups and stews.  Use it as the cooking liquid for rice or quinoa.  Many people just heat it and drink it, with a pinch of sea salt.  It’s quite satisfying.  One of my favorite ways to use bone broth is to chop leftover meat, veggies, pasta, rice and/or whatever else is available in the refrigerator, put it in bowls, and ladle steaming hot broth over all.  Add a squeeze of lime and a dash of hot sauce, and it becomes a “faux” version of Vietnamese Pho, a delicious soup.  I’ve made this countless times, especially during fall and winter, and it’s been delightful, and completely different, each time.  The cost of this meal?   Very little.  If you are like me and let your leftovers get away from you on occasion, this is an incredibly satisfying feeling!   Something from “nothing”!  Stone Soup!

If/when the “Schumer” hits the fan, I plan to continue making bone broth, just in a different way.  My solar oven will be an excellent substitute for a slow cooker.  I haven’t experimented with winter sun cooking, but I plan to this year.  Additionally, my woodstove has a flat top that works well for boiling water, so it should work well for broth with a trivet to keep the pot far enough from the heat for simmering broth.  If time permits, I plan to purchase a wood cookstove. 

As far as storage, the Chinese have a solution of sorts.  They keep a pot on the back burner at all times on the lowest heat.  Scraps are tossed into this pot as they occur.  It’s a “perpetual” broth.  They ladle some out, and add more water, meat, bones, vegetables, etc.  Occasionally, the contents of the soup pot are composted, and they start over.  From what I’ve read, this yields some amazing broth/soup.  No refrigeration necessary!  I realize this isn’t the perfect solution, but it will work at least part of the time.  Some cooks use a similar method now in a slow cooker.  I’m sure with trial and error, this method will work.  I hope I’m never forced to find out.  Try this method today; you won’t be sorry!

Mr. Rawles:
If I get the downloadable "Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course" can I print out a copy for my reference binder? Is that considered okay? (I have a giant binder with 4" rings that my husband got in the Navy that we use for all our prepping references, except for recipes.)
With My Regards, - Sheila C.

JWR Replies: Yes, since you are legitimately downloading it, you are welcome to print out a reference copy for your own use.

I heard about another Reformed church in Spokane, Washington: Reformation Community Church. The Pastor is Jeremy Lyerla. Phone: (509) 496-0920.

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A study shows that the American Redoubt region and much of the Great Plains region now offer the most opportunity for lower class Americans to rise into the middle class. (Thanks to Chris W. for the link.)

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Yes, even in Wyoming: Local Wyoming Gun Control Scheme Targets Children’s Rights. (Note that Platte County's school superintendent is a recent transplant from Minnesota. Also note that school funding is based on days of attendance. That, it seems, is the real issue, behind the scenes.)

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I heard about an an All-American gear maker in Bozeman, Montana with a captivating name: Mystery Ranch. One of the founders wrote me and mentioned: "We provide two of the three issued packs to SOCOM units. While about 80% of our sales are to military units, we also provide packs to Wild land Firefighters, as well as those involved in professional level outdoor activities- from skiing to mountaineering."

   o o o

At last count, there were 180 gun and ammunition making firms in Idaho, but I suspect that the number is growing.

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B.B. sent: AP Refuses Comment on Gun Permit FOIA Request in Montana. (They may also be seeking permit holder lists in other states.)

G.G. sent: Cyprus, lenders set Bank of Cyprus bail-in at 47.5 percent, sources say

Over at FOREX Crunch: Is the smart money fleeing stocks? The article begins: "Institutional investors have been net sellers of stocks for the most of the past year or so.. Since late June, this trend increased, with the 4 week average flirting with sales of 1 billion dollars. On the other hand, retail investors have been net buyers since early June..." [JWR's Comment: With the Dow Jones Average bouncing around 15,500, we are entering into what they call a "sucker's market." Get out of stocks, now!]

France is dancing on a volcano, and Europe may go up in flames

Items from The Economatrix:

CBO: Cancel Spending Cuts Now, Boost Economy In Short Run

Obama's Jobs Record:  Where Are We Now?

Are Big Banks Driving Up Commodity Prices?

Our friend Commander Zero sent this: First Responders Broke Into Shore Army-Navy Store in Seaside Heights During Sandy. The article begins:

SEASIDE HEIGHTS - First responders in Seaside Heights were forced to break into an Army-Navy store during Superstorm Sandy.
The Shore Army-Navy store, located on Hamilton Avenue, was broken into by first responders during Sandy. The first responders took an estimated $185,000 worth of goods, including clothing, sleeping bags, camping equipment and backpacks.
Mayor Bill Akers says first responders had little choice when they were soaked and needed dry clothes.
The tab has now been settled with store owner Ted Domaracki, but he wishes the situation could have been handled better.
"If there was someway they could have picked me up in a National Guard truck and had me take inventory of what they needed, it certainly would have been desirable," Domaracki says.
Mayor Akers says the situation was a learning lesson and the borough is now putting together proper protocol for situations like this.

Commander Zero's Comments: "If you have to loot citizens to equip your first-responder units then you are really not much of a first-responder, are you? 'Course, when .gov, even local.gov, does it they get a free pass and it isn't called 'looting'. Instead of apologizing for the 'first responders' behavior, perhaps they should be examining why their responders were so poorly equipped to begin with that they needed to steal from the populace."

JWR's Comments: So this is all deemed acceptable, since they were "...forced to break into an Army-Navy store..." I suppose that Mr. Wilson could have told us who forced them. This incident reminds us that we need to be very quiet about our preps. Not all of the looters will overtly be from the rough neighborhoods. Some of them may be carrying badges.

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As usual, the lamestream media headline writers get it wrong: Don’t Be Alarmed by the Drone Blimps Hovering Over D.C. They’re Here to Stop Cruise Missiles. They are not blimps! Rather, they are tethered aerostats. FWIW, I predicted their widespread use, 25 years ago. (See my article titled: "A Watchful Eye On The Border," in Defense Electronics magazine, in which I profiled Raytheon's prototype radar aerostat at Fort Huachuca, in 1988.)

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Cook County sheriff’s team taking guns if FOID card is revoked. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: "Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime."

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Services promise combat roles for females by 2016. JWR's Comment: All politics and feel-goodism aside, post-pubescent human physiology is an inescapable controlling factor. The sad truth is that on average, women have 20% less muscle mass than men. And for young women, the ratio of body fat versus muscle runs about 15% higher than men. So unless the Army launches a special recruitment campaign looking for lean, muscular women who are 6'2" or taller, then distaff soldiers will never be a physical match for their male counterparts. (Again, on average.) When you consider the 90 to 100 pound loads carried daily by foot soldiers in this modern era of body armor with SAPI plates, batteries, beau coup ammo, hydration packs, et cetera) it is not realistic to think that females can hack it, at least in the infantry. And how many women will be able to lift 155mm projectiles to the breach, hour after hour? Let's not sacrifice our ability to wage war at 100% for the sake of Political Correctness.

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States seek to nullify Obama efforts. And meanwhile, we read: Proposed new state in northern Colorado gains traction

"A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them." - P. J. O’Rourke

Monday, July 29, 2013

Today is birthday of Alexis de Tocqueville, born 1805. He died 16 April 1859.


I heard that ownership of Naturally Cozy has successfully changed hands. The new owners (also a small, home-based family operation) have picked up making the products with no interruption in order processing. They will continue to sponsor our non-fiction writing contest, just like their predecessors.

Book Title: The Wayward Journey (Volume 1)
Author: Nathan Hale Jefferson
Copyright Date: 2013
Publisher: Abundant Future Media
ISBN: 978-0989319904
Audio, e-book or foreign translation avail? Yes--Kindle edition of The Wayward Journey
Suitable for children? Teens and up.

The Wayward Journey is a story in which a natural disaster is piled on top of a growing disaster of financial mismanagement. There is not much in this novel which requires significant stretching of the imagination. In this story John, Margaret and their two children are struggling to make ends meet in an America which is burdened with both high inflation and high unemployment. John has a job, but it entails travel to remote locations for the reviewing of plans and construction of oil rigs. It is not an ideal job for a family man, and Margaret is not at all happy about it when John has to travel, but it is the best they can manage given the circumstances.

The story opens with John having to head out west to check out a string of projects. He has arranged things so that he can use his time as efficiently as possible and be home again soon. Margaret is worried because the national financial situation is deteriorating, and it is a justified concern. While John is on the trip the government decides to give everyone in the country a bonus benefit rebate (read: additional cash in their checking accounts), but then makes a mistake and gives many people ten times the amount of money intended. This of course does wonders for the inflationary cycle, spurred on to even greater heights as people try to spend the money before the government can claw it back. It is on top of this economic mess that a magnitude 7.9 earthquake on the New Madrid fault is added, devastating the midwest and plunging the entire nation into chaos. And of course, John is stuck a long, long way from home.

In reading the story I found myself viewing it as the inverse of William Forstchen's One Second After. This is what it would be like to be one of the people out on the road, just hoping for a safe place to rest and a bite to eat. But John is a refugee who no one wants, or at least, no one wants for purposes of good. In addition to chronicling John's journey, the author intersperses chapters which detail what is going on at John's home while he is not there. The author does a good job of showing how society deteriorates both on the road and at home. What I thought was best done was the depiction of how neighbors who were just fine to live around so long as society was functioning smoothly could so quickly devolve into life threatening menaces.

SPOILERS AHEAD! The family in which the parents have handed off the raising of the children to schools, television and the video game industry reveal their lack of true character development when their spoiled brats become the neighborhood vandals. And the father who hasn't been a real father responds to his children's misbehavior by attacking the messenger. Then there is the neighbor whose background we are not given, but whose development of an empire is driven by an unscrupulous, psychopathic mind. His capacity for manipulation and deceit is the sort of thing no one wants to dwell on, but the progression of his acts is within character for human nature. It is on the home front that this book best portrays the descent into chaos. On John's journey the cast of characters is continually changing, but at home the cast is fixed. While the characters John meets become progressively harder and more violent it is hard to pin down the causes and motivations for this behavior. At home however, the development of aggression and violence can be followed from one fault to the next, all along a path which is within the scope of human nature and which underscores the value of true character. When I got to within the last fifty pages or so I began to wonder how the author was going to wrap this book up in so few remaining pages. Be advised that it's a good thing the book opens with a note about the sequel coming available: It does not end with a tidy wrap up, but rather leaves the reader hanging, looking for the next chapter. Not entirely a bad thing for a capitalist to do, but consider yourself advised in advance.

My copy of this story was a [pre-release] PDF, and it still needed some final editing touches for the sake of some grammar and spelling details, but nothing was so bad that it seriously detracted from the telling. I believe this is the author's first book, and as such he is off to a strong start. Language is kept as clean as possible while still portraying bad guys as who they are. The most graphic of violence is largely left to the reader's imagination (the results of gunshots being the most vividly described violence.) Overall, it is a book which I can recommend to the SurvivalBlog audience, and I hope Nathan Hale Jefferson is already pretty far along with Part II.

To follow up on my recently-posted list of field gear makers that have all American-made products, I'd like to compile a similar list of American tool makers. To qualify for inclusion, all of their tools must be American-made. Thanks! - J.W.R.

There's not a week that goes past, that I don't hear from someone asking me "what's the best gun for home defense..." and I can't give a pat answer to that question. First of all, what does a person mean by "home defense?" Secondly, what are your physical abilities - or disabilities - when it comes to handling a firearm? What is your budget? What is your skill level with any firearm? And, the list goes on and on. So, as you can see, there is no single or easy answer to what is the best gun for home defense. And, no matter how I try, I can't convince most people that there is no one answer to this question - there is no "best" gun for home defense. And, if I recommend this gun or that gun, I'll enter into an endless debate with someone, and I don't have the time to do this. We are all entitled to our opinions and views on this subject.
I often recommend some type of "riot" shotgun for home defense, and we are talking about a 12 gauge shotgun with a barrel length of around 18-inches to 18.5-inches - something that is a bit easier to handle in the close confines of your home or a hallway. Sporting shotguns with long barrels aren't recommended because you can maneuver them easily in close quarters. I own several "riot" shotguns, and I enjoy shooting them all. I live in a very rural area, and if someone is breaking into my home, the local sheriff might be a long time in arriving, so I take the safety of myself and my family as my own responsibility. And, "yes" I do keep a handgun as my "bedroom" gun, however, within easy reach is a shotgun.
Many shotguns made today come with an aluminum receiver, and I own several like this. However, my favorite shotgun is my Stevens Model 350 for several reasons. First of all, it has an all-steel receiver - which means it's heavier and can take a lot more abuse. Secondly, the 350 is very close to the famed Ithaca Model 37 shotgun, that has a bottom eject feature, unlike other shotguns, that eject from the side of the receiver. Nothing "wrong" with a side ejection shotgun, I just like the bottom ejection feature of the 350. Yes, this makes the 350 a bit heavier than some other shotguns - it weighs in around 8-pounds unloaded, this is good and bad. The good part is, it helps tame recoil, the bad is, well....the gun is heavier to carry. However, I don't plan on an extended romp in the boonies with this shotgun - it is reserved for home defense. Also, the 350 is a pump-action shotgun, and they are very reliable, and not complicated, like some semi-auto shotguns are to get that first round chambered.
The 350 is parkerized in a nice gray/black finish - tough stuff. The furniture is black synthetic polymer, which makes if ideal for my area, where wood stocks can swell from all the rain and moisture in the air. There is also a rifle-style front sight and ghost ring rear sight, and if you've never used a ghost ring rear sight on a shotgun, you are missing out on how fast and how much more accurate you can shoot - all things considered - with a shotgun... What a ghost ring rear sight does is, it allows you to focus on the front sight, while the ghost ring rear sight is "ghostly" in appearance - it is a bit fuzzy is maybe a better way to describe it. Still, it is VERY fast to acquire a good sight picture. The safety is easy to reach, and so is the slide release - on some shotguns, you have to change your hold on the gun to push on the slide release - not good! I keep my 350 magazine tube loaded with 5-rounds of 00 buckshot, and the chamber is empty. I also keep the slide closed (locked) so I either have to pull the trigger to unlock the slide (not good) or I can simply push on the slide release to pump the slide and chamber the first round - the smart way to do it.
I also keep a side-saddle magazine holder on the left side of the receiver, and it holds 6 extra rounds of 00 buckshot for me. I'm going to add another side-saddle magazine holder on the right side of the polymer butt stock. I could add another on the right side of the receiver, but that will just add more weight that I don't need. With 5 rounds in the magazine tube, and 6 more rounds on the receiver, and when I add the other carrier on the right side of the butt stock, that will give me 17-rounds on-hand, with reloads. If that doesn't get me out of trouble, then I'm in deeper than I can possibly be.
The 350 is easy to load and shoot, although the trigger pull is a bit heavy, then again, we are talking about a shotgun, and not a long-range precision high-power rifle, where pin-point accuracy is called for. So, the heavy trigger isn't a handicap as far as I'm concerned. I can fire 5-rounds in about 2.5-seconds from the 350, and that's fast shooting, and I can hit my target out to 25-yards...no trick to this, other than to practice.
I have had zero failures to feed, function and eject with the 350, and the action is fairly easy to operate, too - some pump-action shotguns require a pretty aggressive "pump" to load and ejection rounds and when you tie-up a pump-action shotgun, you are in serious trouble, it takes time - a lot of time - to clear a double-feed. And, I keep the 350 loaded with only 00 buckshot - I live in a rural area, so I don't worry too much about over penetration - my guest house is next door, however, should I have a break-in, it will come from a direction opposite of my guest house. If you live in a big city or have neighbors next door, you might want to consider using bird shot, or a #4 shot for self-defense - in the confines of your house, this will get the job done - as most shootings take place at very close distances - yes, 00 buck is better, but you have to balance all things, and take into account where you live and the danger of over penetration. Just something to think about - now you see why I can't give anyone a pat answer, as to what is the "best" gun or ammo for home defense?
I recently received the Alpha Tech Shotgun Flashlight Mount, for testing for an article, and I thought it would make a perfect product to add to my Stevens Model 350 shotgun. Without going into the details, on how easy it is to install this flashlight shotgun mount on your shotgun, you can find complete information on their web site. Now, I've tried some other flashlight mounts on my shotguns, and while they worked, they weren't to my satisfaction - not durable enough, and many simply clamp onto the barrel. The Alpha Tech Shotgun Mount is a bit different, in that, it attaches to the magazine tube - again, I'm not going into details - you can find complete info on their web site, but it only takes a couple minutes to install this mount. And, it is made out of steel, and black in color, with a sling adaptor on it, too. There is a "ring" for installing your flashlight, and you need a tactical flashlight that has a barrel of 1-inch - and that is easy to find. It only takes a few minutes to get this whole thing up and running.
Now, this particular Alpha flashlight mount wasn't designed for the Stevens 350, because of the set-up in relationship to the barrel/magazine/disassembly tube set-up, I was able to tinker with it, and make it fit on the 350, with a shim. While not the perfect set-up, it works. I could have put the mount on my Maverick shotgun - and it fits - however, I wanted it on my 350. Alpha Tech is in the process of developing mounts for other shotguns. Contact them for details to see if they have a mount that will fit your shotgun.
If you are planning on using a shotgun for home defense, I highly recommend you  have some type of flashlight mounted on it for several reasons. Firs of all, it helps you ID an intruder, secondly it can blind the intruder, and it helps you get on target in the dark - since you can't see your front sight in the dark. Right now, the Alpha Tech Shotgun Flashlight Mount is made to fit many shotguns, including the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 and many others. They are in the process of making one that will fit on the Winchester line-up of shotguns, too - check with them to see if they have a mount for your particular shotgun.
I found the Alpha Tech mount to be well-built, and very solid. I fired several boxes of ammo through my Stevens Model 350, and the mount showed no signs of coming loose. Full retail for the mount is $48.50 and a worthy accessory to complement your shotgun for home defense. It's also a great mount for law enforcement officers to have on their shotgun they have in their patrol cars.
So, with the Stevens Model 350 and the Alpha Tech mount, and a good tactical (bright) flashlight, I'm pretty confident that should I have to use my shotgun at night, I can ID my attacker(s) and I have a shotgun that is totally reliable. The Stevens Model 350 is hard to pin down as far as price goes - so many sporting goods shops and gun shops discount Stevens shotguns, it's hard to come up with a price. I believe you can find a brand-new one for around $300 give or take a few bucks, and it's a great deal, on a shotgun that will give you a lifetime without problems. And, just because this shotgun is made in China doesn't take anything away from the quality - you can get as good as you want from China. I don't especially enjoy contributing to the Red Chinese government, however in this case, I'll make an exception. So, if you're in the market for a good affordable pump-action 12-gauge shotgun for home defense, take a close look at the Stevens Model 350 for your next purchase. If all you can afford is one gun - then a good shotgun for home defense is hard to beat! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear JWR:
You've probably heard of the "Mormon Four," a starting place for beginning preppers wanting to attain a one-year food supply. The Mormon Four prescribes amounts of red hard winter wheat, powdered milk, sugar or honey, and salt to sustain life for one year. That's a lot of bread making, preserving, and sprouting over and over! Yes, these foods are nutritious, have a long shelf life, and can keep you alive. However, my opinion is that the boredom factor in this diet is huge, even if you love bread.

Here's an idea: Everyone, and I mean everyone, from around the age of 12 and up, both male and female, develop their own specialty to serve. That is, a delicious dish to prepare that is a crowd pleaser. Your special dish should be based on foods that you can easily access frequently from your garden, orchard, pantry, or stores. In Jim's book Patriots, one character masters making popcorn over a fire. His particular skill is appreciated at the retreat as a treat and a break in routine.

Your food doesn't have to be fancy, just special. You will want to know how to make a recipe based on either something you are growing or abundantly have on hand. You've got a lot of wheat? Okay, you be the sourdough bread person baking on a stone without using the electrical breadmaker. Or bake pie, cake, or pizza. You live in an apartment? Wonderful salad greens and herbs can easily be grown in pots. People write this idea all the time in their articles, but I really do it. Yes, I have a nice herb garden in a strip long my driveway, but I also have pots of growing herbs. And due to limited space, our lettuce always is grown in pots. Come up with your own signature salad dressing to accompany. Seasonings, oil, and vinegar are keepers. If you don't have chickens, deviled eggs probably shouldn't be your special food. Your dish can be simple or involved, a hearty soup or a casserole or a sauce or a food preserved from your garden by fermentation, such as cabbage or cucumbers. Once we lived up north and had glorious cherry and apple trees. For five years I made candied cherries (killer in salads) and tons of apple sauce. Down south you might have citrus trees like we currently do. Preserved candied citrus peel is a yummy sweet I first started making years ago when I was a teenager. The cook just needs to be practical in terms of availability.

Think about a few foods you and your family or friends love and enjoy. Then, see how you can acquire a constant ingredient supply, research and try out various recipes, perfect your substitutions, and eventually declare yourself an expert on a certain dish.

Here are a couple of easy food ideas:

If you grow corn, you probably already know many ways to cook corn, but here's how we do it:

1. Roasted or Baked Ears: Take whole ears still with silk and husks intact. Trim silk off top that is sticking out of top, about 1" so it won't smell burned in the oven. Scrub outside of ears to remove any dirt. Place in a 350* oven for around 45 minutes. Take out of oven, using a kitchen towel and tongs, remove silk and husks. Cover with butter, salt, and pepper, and realize life is good.

2. Grilled Ears: This is how my Girl Scout troop used to eat corn when we camped. Soak and completely submerge ears in a large container for at least one hour. Over hot coals, grill ears, turning frequently until all sides are sufficiently blackened, about 10-15 minutes. Take corn off grill, carefully peel back husk and silk because it's hot. Use the husks you've folded back as a holder. Butter, salt and pepper, eat and enjoy. Then wonder when you are grilling again because your corn tastes fabulous and you are aware that butter dripping down your chin isn't a bad thing.

3. Grandmother's Sweet Corn: Cut the raw kernels from each ear. Pan fry in a little butter (like 3 tablespoons), salt, and pepper. When cooked through, add milk to cover (cream is even better) and gently cook the milk down. Add a tablespoon of sugar or 1 Equal or Splenda packet. Adjust seasonings. Listen to the rave reviews.

4. Salted Ears and More: There is a variation on Grilled Ears made with salty ocean water. Another recipe calls for boiling whole shucked ears in 1 stick of butter, milk, and seasonings in a Dutch oven. However, I don't much care for this recipe as it sounds like a waste of ingredients to me, but I did want to mention it.

100 years ago, many people made their own pickles out of a variety of garden produce. Dill tomatoes taste like dill pickles with a different texture. Pickled green beans and pickled okra please many people. Pickled peaches were a staple at my house when I was growing up. Tasty sour pickles are fermented with salt and time in a crock. My father-in-law was a popular preacher and always would serve a large smorgasbord of home-canned pickles when guests came to eat. These were presents from little grannies from across small Texas towns. The best ones ever were called "Sun Pickles" and were amazingly hot yet amazingly sour, fermented outside over a period of days. I have yet to find a recipe that even comes close.

Fire and Ice Pickles:

dill pickles
2 garlic cloves
2 chile pepper packets, like from pizza delivery or about 2 teaspoons pepper flakes
lots and lots of sugar

There are quite a few similar recipes out there, but here's my easy recipe. Get a jar or big bucket (if you love pickles) of whole dill pickles, either commercial or your own home-canned. You may NOT ever substitute kosher dill pickles. They must be dill pickles. Drain off juice, but save it for potato or tuna salad. I use and reuse a 1 quart glass jar or spaghetti sauce jars. This is not a bread-and-butter pickle recipe. It's even better.

Slice pickles into 1/2" coins. Do not use a mandolin slicer -- the slices would be too thin.
Layer 1/2 the pickles, add the garlic and pepper seeds. Add rest of the pickles. Now, start to pour sugar into the jar. Cover the pickles with as much sugar as you can get in the jar. Put lid on tightly and shake to distribute sugar. Set out overnight on counter.

Next day you'll see that the sugar is pulling out the water and going into the pickles. The pickles will have settled some so you have room to add more sugar. Cover again with additional sugar, but the liquid should not be so saturated that it cannot dissolve all the sugar. Cover and set out again overnight.

The next morning rinse the jar off in case the outside is sticky, give the pickle jar a good final shake or roll on your breadboard, and refrigerate. I have no idea how long they last because they get eaten up so quickly. My guess is a long time. These pickles make phenomenal potato salad. Be sure to save the juice to use in potato or tuna or chicken salad. Now you have sweet, crispy, tasty pickles.

So, grow your garden, store your foods, and own your special recipe that makes your people happy. You'll give folks something to look forward to. Smile and say "thank you" when they rave. - Elizabeth B.

Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to share my experience regarding this situation. When the great scare began in December, I knew that as a prepared individual I did not need to panic buy and so I decided to perform an experiment.

The goal: To acquire an AR-15 for the lowest possible cost during a time with the highest possible demand.

Total cost for my AR-15: $654 (For perspective, the bulk of the component parts that I purchased was when complete rifles were easily selling for $2,000+)

How I did it:

When the scare began in earnest, I knew that the odds of getting the Rock River Arms tactical operator 2 that I had been eyeing went out the window, so I decided the easiest method of acquiring would be to buy the key components (the ones most likely to be banned) and then lay low for everything else.

Purchased during the scare:

Lower: Milled lowers were in short supply and those that were available were testing the $400 range, this was not an acceptable price. Based on many positive reviews online, I knew that Palmetto State Armory carried lowers produced by ATI that were polymer (and would not be on the top of anyone's purchasing list). Cost $49 + $20 FFL transfer fee

Upper: Clearly, any of the high dollar uppers that one would normally buy were in the realm of crazy prices at this time. Again, Youtube and Google came in handy. A small operation known as Blackthorrne sells AR uppers at very reasonable prices online and I was able to acquire an M4 style 16" upper (assembled) for $300 shipped.

Stock: As "Evil Adjustable Stocks" were going to be squarely in the crosshairs, I went on to a local firearms forum and offered to trade a 500rd bulk pack of .22LR (at this point more endangered than African Elephants) in exchange for a stock, tube, buffer and spring (Mil Spec not commercial as that is what the lower had marked on the box). Estimated value: $27 (including shipping)

Lower parts kit: Needed to complete the lower. And it included the "evil" and potentially banned, pistol grip. RGuns in Carpentersville, Illinois provided it for $80 (Including Shipping + Sales Tax -- I am in the People's Republic of Illinois.)

Total expenditure during the Crisis: $466

Purchased after the scare subsided (Items that had the feinstein ban passed (With no changes), we still would have the ability to purchase):

Bolt carrier group: Cosmetically blemished, but otherwise fine Auto profile BCG from Palmetto State Armory: $99

Charging Handle: $19

Professional Assembly by a gunsmith: $70 (Headspace checked, test fired, etc..)

Expenditure after the crisis: $188

What have we learned during this crisis:
Some of the good that has come out of this crisis are actually very interesting web sites. Gunbot.net allows you to search for "In stock" ammo sorted by price per round. ARPartsFinder allows you to find "In stock" AR components, again at the lowest possible prices. Additionally, and I think this is the most important thing, if you can afford to stock up more than you see yourself needing, do it. If nothing, when the next scare comes, you will be positioned that you can turn a handsome profit. Last summer I had purchased Tapco AK mags for $6/each, not out of any need but rather just to have them... I sold 10 of those magazines in January at a staggering $15/each, this may not sound like much but in six months I had a 150% return on my investment... when was the last time you had an annual return of 300% on your 401(k) or IRA? - K.A.

Dear Editor:
Lean Jimmy's bug out boat idea is good, but on most rivers of North America you'll have "pirates" set up at strategic points along the watercourses -- as in yesteryear -- and have a tough time getting by them. It'll only be a matter of time before they take control of those defined travel lanes and lighten the load of fleeing refugees. Slave trading might also come back into vogue.
How could you outfox them? Travel at night? Maybe. But if your craft was small, almost silent and light enough to carry or collapse into portable pieces, you'd obviously hold some advantages up your watery sleeve:

A Folboat (See a video of some being assembled and paddled.)

The native people of the continent were using stealthy deerskin folding craft in the late 1700s and often broke them down to hide their presence while scouting or traveling waterways. Commandos in WWII used the very same tactics and still do to this day. Why not follow in their wake?
A Greenland II tandem kayak from Folbot -- Made in the USA -- will take a large payload and two paddlers. Dr. Hannes Lindemann made an amazing voyage across the Atlantic in a tandem folding kayak in the 1950s so they can handle the big stuff, too. Long Haul is another USA based manufacturer while Feathercraft is based in Canada. For the money, though, Folbot tops my list and I've had their 2-man version (at the time it was called a Super Folbot) since the early 1980s. And it's still going strong!
Since I live on an inland river - as many North Americans do -- and that watercourse connects to others that run all the way across the country to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic, I have several folding boats stashed away. Did I mention that they also make fine craft for weekend forays and extended holidays?
Get one now! Cheers, - Wayne W.

Notutopia's Coffee Concentrate

This recipe will make 1 Qt. of coffee concentrate that can be used to make both iced or hot coffee from one batch, and can be safely stored in the refrigerator for a whole month.


1 cup finely ground roasted coffee grinds, caffeinated, or de-caf
32 oz. filtered cool water


1 32oz. mason jar with lid
1 fine mesh sieve or 2 paper filters


Finely grind 1 cup of roasted coffee beans, you can even use pre-flavored ground coffee, but it will not be quite as potent a concentrate as when using freshly ground whole beans.
Add the cup of fine grounds into the clean mason jar.
Slowly add the filtered cool water over the grinds.
Apply lid, and gently shake well.
Set on cabinet top and do not disturb for 12 hours.

Place the sieve or use the 2 paper filters with a rubber band to secure them, over the top of another clean wide mouth mason jar.
Slowly pour the coffee concentrate over the filter.
Once the dripping ceases, remove and dispose the paper filters, and cap the concentrate. It's now ready for use.
Store the concentrate in the refrigerator.

For Iced Coffee:
Choose a tall glass or carafe and add 4 to 6 cubes of ice.
For every serving of coffee, pour 1/2 cup of concentrate to an equal amount of filtered water.
Add your choice of milk, almond milk, soymilk, or horchata.
For coffee flavoring, add one half cap of extract. Try vanilla, caramel, rum, mint, banana, etc.
Sweeten with your choice of sweetener. Try honey, agave nectar, stevia, sugar, or sugar substitute.

For Hot coffee:
Chose your cup. Again pour 1/2 cup of concentrate to an equal amount filtered water. Microwave for 2 minutes, or heat in a saucepan on the stovetop or grill.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Flavored Coffee Recipes

Easy Iced Coffee Recipe

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

Reader "Racefan" sent a link to some tax data that is helpful in evaluating retreat locales: Property Taxes on Owner-Occupied Housing, by County, 2005 - 2009, Ranked by Property Taxes Paid.

I don't often used the words "conspiracy theory" and "delightful" in the same sentence, but take a look at Bix Weir's latest essay: The Hidden Meanings in the New $100 Bill!

Items from The Economatrix

Stagflation: The Fed's Worst Nightmare

Ron Paul Talks Gold

Ron Paul On Gold And Why We'll See More Detroits

What's Up With Inflation?

One of my long-time friends mentioned that he has recently been experimentally hiking with a LED Mini Maglite carried in a Nite Ize headband, and equipped with a relatively waterproof TacStar brand pressure tape switch that he can clench between his teeth.  For regular trail hiking, the light's head can be cranked down for “continuous on” operation when the standard tail cap is installed. But when operating tactically with the tape switch tail cap installed, the light can be activated just “on demand” by clamping his teeth down on the tape switch.  He has even experimented with a wire stiffeners, positioning the tape switch and the mouthpiece of his Camelbak hydration pack on either side of his chin. That way he can selectively bite down on one or the other, by just slightly tilting his head. Clever. He jokingly calls this “the combat pacifier effect.”  This is a clever way around the dilemma of how to activate a flashlight on demand and hands-free, regardless of what weapon is in his hands. Obviously this technique will require some practice. And of course the periods of time that the light is on should be minimal, to avoid making yourself a target.

   o o o

G.G. flagged this: Even Powering Down A Cell Phone Can't Keep The NSA From Tracking Its Location.

   o o o

Seed for Security has announced another bonus offer: With the purchase of their Super Survival Pack you will receive a free packet of Soldier Beans (approximately 150 seeds), and a free 1 pint pouch of Winter Rye Grain approximately 13,280 seeds). Their Super Survival Pack includes 5,500 open-pollinated, Non GMO vegetable seeds, plus a pint each of Hulless Oats and Winter Rye. There is a total of 18 varieties of vegetable seeds. The shipping weight for this Pack is 4 pounds. This is their most popular product and comes with a four-page Seed Saving Guide. This offer is for a limited time and will be automatically included with your order.

   o o o

Another link from G.G.: Maine man recovering in Canadian hospital after being mauled by polar bear as electric fence fails to ward off violent attacker. In this particular case, Joe Biden was right: "Get a shotgun." They were very lucky to have frightened off the bear with just a flare gun.

   o o o

If I lived in Iowa, I'd jump on this pedal grinder. (Available for local pickup only.)

"We must have government, but we must watch them like a hawk." - Fenwick (1983)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Camping Survival 23% off sale on all Backpackers Pantry Freeze Dried Foods ends today (July 28th, 2013), so place your order before midnight.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st and the queue is full, but you can e-mail us your entry for Round 48. 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 essay is a joint effort from a healthcare couple.  My wife is a hospice nurse and I work at a long-term care facility.  Together, we have witnessed numerous patients die.  The purpose of this essay is to educate you in helping to take care of a dying group member (will use the term patient for this writing).  The first time that I experienced death up-close and personal was when my best friend B. died a few years ago.  We were both in our 20s and he had cancer.  Over the course of more than a year I was with him as he went through chemo, radiation and surgery.  At that time my experience with death was limited to my elderly grandfather and a few friends of my parents.  Death seemed pretty sterile and did not happen directly in front of my own eyes.  Now in my early 30s, I’ve experienced the death of more friends, their newborns/young children, more grandparents, and numerous patients of ours of all ages.  I’ve learned a lot since then and would like to share it with you.

In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, the reality is that people are going to die.  People you cared deeply for as well as people you never met.  Depending upon the scenario, the death-rate could be high and the possibility that you may have to help with the care of a dying person is likely.   
Take for example some of the current big killers for the U.S. population:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Influenza

Now add in potential TEOTWAWKI scenarios and the list could be expanded to also include these potential deadly killers:

  • Gunshot and other puncture wounds
  • Lack of availability for life-sustaining medication
  • Influenza epidemics
  • Worldwide diseases that are relatively low here in the U.S. but may increase do to unsanitary conditions and/or lack of access to quality health care (such as AIDS, Cholera, Hepatitis, Malaria, Meningitis, Rotavirus, Tuberculosis, Typhoid, etc.)
  • Labor complication
  • Drowning
  • Burns
  • And the list could go on and on…

Whatever the case, if you are called upon to help with the care of a dying person, it is best to know a little about the subject. 
In this essay I’m not going to write about emergency room procedures or survival medicine that you can use in the field to save lives, but rather, I want to focus on when medically you can do no more for your patient.  Depending upon the preparation of your group, the threshold could vary widely for when you can do no more.  It is my hope that you have taken necessary steps to prepare and practice lifesaving techniques for you and your group. 

For hospice patients, they usually are given six months life expectancy or less.  In your case, the patient may have those few months to live, but more likely they will have much less time than that.  Know that when the body is going through the dying process, many changes are happening.  I understand that each person and situation is different, but I am going to try and cover the dying process in general terms.    

In hospice, when a patient is getting close to dying, it is referred to it as active dying.  Leading up to this active dying stage, the patient may have reduced appetite and you may notice weight loss.  Don’t force the patient to eat food.  The body is dying and has not need for the nourishments.  I’ve seen all too often family members trying to get their loved one to eat, only causing that patient to become nauseous.  In addition to the reduced appetite, the patient my sleep more and be very tired.  They may become disoriented, have delusions, or hallucinations (speaking to people who aren’t there).  This is very common and may times if the patient is talking to someone that is not there, it is highly likely that they are speaking to someone who has already died.  These hallucinations are a very interesting phenomenon to me.  I usually try not to change the subject, but rather gather information from the patient such as who they are talking with, and what they are talking about.  Don’t miss this opportunity as the patient may be trying to tell you or a loved one something.

Currently in hospice, we have many methods to use to make patients more comfortable.  For patients suffering from pain, we have a whole host of drugs available.  Many of these stronger drugs are opiates which diminish the experience of pain by the patient.  Some of the more common drugs used are Oxycodone (Oxycontin), Morphine (Roxanol), Fentanyl (patch, Actiq), Methadone (Dolophine), or Hydromorphone (Dilaudid).  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, it will likely be difficult to obtain these drugs and you may be left with more common household drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to help relieve pain.

For patients suffering from breathing problems, we currently have oxygen [concentrator] machines that we can hook-up directly to the patient [typically via a nasal cannula.]  In addition, many of the opiates also help relieve breathing problems.  Without either of these two resources, you can try to reposition the patient by placing more pillows under their head or having them sit at an incline.  You can also try creating a light breeze directed at the patient’s face to see if that helps.  If the patient’s lips become dry, try using a lip balm.  If the inside of their mouth become dry and they are conscious, try giving the patient ice chips if available (if not, you can wipe the inside of the mouth with a cotton swab, cotton ball or damp washcloth.  This dryness in the mouth can cause irritation to the patient, so make sure to provide ice or dab the inside of the mouth every two hours.  For patients lying in the same position for any length of time, they may develop pressure ulcers (sores).  Try to reposition the patient if possible every few hours.
When a person is actively dying, there are some signs you can look for to know that the person is close to death:

  • The body has a difficult time regulating its temperature, so you will notice the body temperature beings to gradually lower (normal body temp is 98.6 -98.2F if taken orally) or if an infection is present, the temperature may spike
  • The pulse begins to become irregular, sometime speeding up with other times slowing down (normal pulse is 60-100 beats per minute)
  • Blood pressure begins to lower (normal pressure is 120/80)
  • The patient may begin to perspire and feel cool to the touch
  • Skin beings to change color as blood circulating within the body begins to diminish (you will usually notice it in the lips or fingertips as they begin to turn a bluish/purplish color)
  • Breathing usually becomes more difficult, sometime rapid and shallow and others time gradually slowing to just a few breaths per minute (normal is 12-20 breaths per minute)
  • While not as noticeable, it is very common to have a surge of energy for a short period of time (the patient my want to get up out of bed, may want to talk to friends/family, eat after going days without eating, etc.)

When pulse, blood pressure and respirations cease, the patient has died.  The deceased should always be handled with the utmost care and respect.  We are all going to die someday, so treat the body as you would want someone else to treat your body.  It is appropriate to do a small ceremony at the bedside with all who are present.  I typical being with a prayer and then have those gathered say something about the deceased.  Due to infection control, I would recommend that the deceased be buried immediately.  If at all possible, have everyone coming into contact with the deceased, the bed, clothes, etc., wear rubber gloves.  If possible, wrap the body in a blanket or sheet.  You may then want to wrap the body in a plastic trap, as body fluids may begin to be excreted from the body.  You will want to wash bedding in hot soapy water and then use a bleach solution to wipe down any infected areas.  If you are in a location to bury the body, dig an area away from water sources.  The typical grave is 4 feet deep, 8 feet long and 3 feet wide.  Use whatever measurements fit for the deceased.  If you are unable to bury the body, the next best solution would be to burn the body.  Make sure to have plenty of your fire source, as you want to dispose of as much of the body as possible. 

On a final note, throughout this the dying process, don’t forget how powerful human interaction can be.  Especially for patients who are experiencing high levels of anxiety, human touch can do wonders to help calm a person.  Touch helps to convey care, solace, and comfort.  Even if the person is no longer conscious, talk to them.  Many times the patient can hear you even if they are not alert, awake and conscious.  Have people introduce themselves as they enter the room.  Have them talk directly to the patient.  Encourage visitors or those gathered to talk directly to the patient.  Lastly, take time to mourn the loss of life.  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, you may not be able to have much time to mourn, but make it a priority when you have the time to remember all those that died.          

Dear James,
Recently, a friend of mine just took his own life, leaving behind a wife and three young children.  He loved to talk about being prepared and would spend hours reading survival blog.  As far as “preparedness” goes, he seemed to be very prepared for TEOTWAWKI, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on guns, ammo, a bug out vehicle, all the medical and survival supplies you could think of, etc.  He also had military training, martial arts training, and was an excellent marksman, if anyone was prepared, he seemed to be ready.  However, in the end, he would take himself out, leaving his wife and three children, without a father, protector, or bread earner.  I believe that while he was so focused on preparing for TEOTWAWKI, that he forgot to take care of himself and his family.  I believe that instead of looking to God to be his protector and to take away his burdens, he looked to himself.  Disillusioned, he turned to alcohol and marijuana for comfort, which lead to marital problems, depression, anxiety, and ultimately he chose to take himself out, rather than face his problems.

Alcoholics have high rates of major depressive disorders, and the risk of suicide is 5 to 20 times higher.  Further, one out of every three suicides under the age of 35 is related to alcohol.  Alcohol works on the prefrontal cortex, inhibiting the areas of the brain related to self-control and judgment.   “Chronic alcohol misuse can cause psychotic type symptoms to develop, more so than with other drugs of abuse. Alcohol abuse has been shown to cause an 800% increased risk of psychotic disorders."

Marijuana is also associated with worsening of paranoid symptoms, with its effect on the pre-frontal cortex and amygdala.  Thus, those under its influence are more likely so see patterns that don’t exist leading to schizophrenic like paranoid symptoms.

My friend often would talk about his faith in God, but trying to work out his own problems and turning to substance abuse, he forgot some of the Bible promises like Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  and Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.”  Thus, in preparing for TEOTWAWKI, he neglected the most important preparation, that of learning to trust in God, who will be our ultimate source of protection and salvation. -  S.I.

First of all, I want to clear-up a misconception: Jim Rawles and I are not one in the same person - we are two different people. I hear from SurvivalBlog readers all the time, asking me if I'm really Jim Rawles - I am NOT! Jim had his blog site up and running for several years before I came on board, as the Field Gear Editor. I know this won't satisfy some of you, but you can believe what you want - Jim and I are not the same person. I live in Western Oregon, and Jim lives - well, I don't actually know where he lives, and it's none of my business. And, please stop asking me for his phone number!
I receive well over 200 e-mails each day, many are junk, however many are from SurvivalBlog readers with questions. Due to the number of e-mails I get, I have to keep my answers short. I hope I'm still helpful with my answers, though. So many of you ask me "what's the best......" and I can't give you a pat answer to that. The best handgun is the one I'm carrying at the time - ditto for knives. I can't pick a firearm or knife for you - it's a very subjective thing, I can only suggest what appeals to me. And, while I sincerely appreciate this, this is not the way I operate - many of you offer to pay me for my advice to you in your e-mails. If I can help, I'm happy to do so, so don't offer to pay me for my advice - I'm not in that business. I just hope I have the right answers to your questions most of the time.
As to the many vendors who send me their products to test and write about. Once again, don't offer to pay me to push your products ahead of someone else's products. We make every attempt to test products in the order they are received by me. The only exception to this is knives - I received so many knives, that I spread my reviews out quite a bit - no one wants to read half a dozen knife reviews in a row on SurvivalBlog. As the Editor, Jim Rawles decides when an article will appear in print, and he is a very ethical person, so I'm sure he's just as offended as I am by companies wanting us to push their products ahead of someone else's products. Right now, I'm working on review articles that will run in November, and I have enough products to test and write about, clear through January of 2014. If you can't wait for me to get to your products for testing and a review, then don't send them to me. Sorry! I write one article each week for SurvivalBlog, and I'm also writing one article each week for another web site , so I keep extremely busy!
I'm not any sort of celebrity and there is nothing special about me. I'm just a hard-working stiff like everyone else is. Many readers write and ask me if they can stop by and meet me. I simply don't have the time to do this, and I'm a very private person. I don't readily welcome unannounced guests onto my little homestead.
Thanks to everyone who e-mails me, I do sincerely appreciate hearing from all of you. And, even those few who are critical, at times of my reviews on gear, I still appreciate your e-mails. However, those few who send threatening e-mails to me: they are turned over the authorities. I had one fellow who went so far as to even threaten me and former President George Bush - for whatever reason. His e-mails were turned over to the US Secret Service.
SurvivalBlog is not some radical right-wing web site, as many Liberals believe it to be, especially the likes of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) who often target Jim Rawles, as some type of whacko survivalist who plans on taking over the country. This is not the case. Jim is running a very informative blog site, for those intelligent enough to realize that they need to prepare for disasters - many types of disasters. And, I have not seen any articles or suggestions on SurvivalBlog, that even come close to having the web site advocating over-throwing the government. And, for those agent provocateurs who e-mail me trying to get me to say I'm advocating over-throwing the government: Stop it - I can see right through your e-mails. Find someone else to set-up, neither myself nor Jim Rawles will fall for this.
Thanks again, to all the loyal and faithful readers SurvivalBlog has, Jim and I sincerely enjoy hearing from all of you. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

In a recent post, Harry T. mentioned that "Fido" will be competing with humans for food should we return to a hunter-gatherer schema. He is absolutely correct in addressing the newly-wild domestic dog as a threat. I have been treed twice in my life by life-threatening critters. Once was by a huge wild hog while I was fly-fishing on the North Carolina-Tennessee line. Apparently I entered his domain and he felt I was a threat to be dealt with. I've encountered bears and rattlesnakes who were far less aggressive than that tusker. The other time I had to climb a tree to avoid being eaten (or at least bitten) was when a pack of feral dogs chased me in the mountains of eastern Tennessee.

These were dogs who had apparently been dropped in the mountains by their owners. Some of them still had collars. They were a mixed bag -- one beagle, a few mutts, an Australian shepherd, and some sort of Doberman cross, among others. There were about 10 in the pack. They pulled a sneak attack, rushing me in mid-day while I was hiking. I was only a teenager, about 16 years old. I was carrying a pocket knife, but no other weapons. I went up a smallish Sassafras [tree], climbing about 15 feet up a tree that was only about four inches in diameter. Once there, I had no recourse until the dogs got tired of circling the tree and waiting for their dinner to fall. The only warning I had of the threat was the beagle: Fortunately, he bugled as the pack was approaching me. I love beagles -- They're single-minded and they make their intentions very clear.

After about 20 minutes, the dogs began fighting among themselves, then wandered off. The Australian shepherd was the last to leave. He was the only one that didn't make any noise. Just patiently waited. I don't know if he had been more recently abandoned than the others and wanted to make a friend, or if he was simply more patient. Herding instincts and whatnot. Long story short: I got out of the situation with nothing more than a scarred boot where the Doberman caught me while I was climbing. But that incident caused me to grow a new set of eyes (and ears) for potential threats. - J.D.C. in Mississippi

Yes, America, sometime we do need more than just reduced-capacity (10-round) magazines: Houston woman in critical condition after pack of 15 dogs attack

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Of interest to archers: How to Tune Your Bow: 15 Steps to Perfect Arrow Flight. (Thanks to James W. for the link.)

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Yet another one of Bloomberg's gun-grabbing mayors is thoroughly disgraced: Mayor Bob Filner taking time off for 'intensive therapy'. (Apparently this one grabbed more than guns.) And, quite predictably, he refuses to resign from office. Bloomberg's gang of petty tyrants is absolutely shameless, even when under felony indictment.

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B.B. spotted this: Hornady Suspends Production of 150 Ammo Types and 150 Bullet Types for Balance of 2013

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South Africa, Riots and the Price of Food

"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any [man] deceive you:
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [Christ]; and shall deceive many.
And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for [such things] must needs be; but the end [shall] not [be] yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows.
But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
But when they shall lead [you], and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost." - Mark 13:3-11 (KJV)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

This is the birthday of Samuel Whittemore (born, July 27, 1694 - died February 3, 1793.) He was an English-born colonial American farmer and soldier. He was eighty years old when he became the oldest known colonial combatant in the American War of Independence. Take a few minutes to read his biographical sketch. It sounds almost too astounding even for Hollywood to invent. By the way, I recommend that in a few years Clint Eastwood ought to portray Whittemore. I believe that would be a fitting way for Clint to cap his acting career, and a great way for Americans to remember one of our forgotten heroes.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st and the queue is full, but you can e-mail us your entry for Round 48. 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.

Every Prepper needs at least one serious bug out plan in his repertoire. Most of us will need a plan to get to our retreat when the SHTF. Even those of us fortunate enough to live in their retreat right now will have to be ready to bug out if circumstances demand. Things like a fallout cloud or a pandemic, or an invading army of zombies can’t be ignored. You may be forced to leave and you’d better know where you are going and how you are going to get there.

Your bug out plan starts with an assessment of the conditions you may be facing when the time comes to leave. If, as most of us, you live in an urban environment, you will likely be looking at a hopelessly clogged transportation grid. Let’s say you live in a large Midwestern metropolitan area. If the SHTF in a sudden, dramatic fashion, everyone in town will have the same idea you do; get out fast. The difference between you and the rest of them will be that, because you are a Prepper, you will have acquired the wherewithal to support your withdrawal. On the other hand, you have the same immediate problem that the masses have. How will you get through the panicked mob and reach the relative safety of open country?

If you live in the eastern half of the country, more than likely, there will be a large river near your home. That river will connect to other rivers and waterways that will open nearly 5,000 miles of liquid highway to those with the means to use it! Most people will never think of the water and will limit themselves to land travel. Without a plan or supplies they will be bogged down and faced with looting to survive within a day or two of their departure. In fact, within hours of the start of the exodus, many of these people in stalled cars will be involved in their first deadly confrontation with other people in the line who took to the road with an empty gas tank and now are seeking “volunteers” to resupply them. The Prepper with a boat, even a pretty small boat and good prior planning may slip nearly unnoticed from the area.

If, on the other hand, you reside in the western half of the country, waterways may be a little less obvious, unless you live along the beach. Even if you have an ocean view from your deck, I wouldn’t recommend bugging out in a boat unless it is very seaworthy and you are prepared to go a long way to safety. California offers a few places of refuge in the Channel Islands, but they are so easy to reach that even on a summer weekend it’s a mob scene out there. Oregon offers nothing but cold, rough water offshore with very few places to return to land safely. Only Washington State offers a wide variety of islands to hop among. The Inside Passage and Alaska beckon if you have enough long underwear to survive.

Still, many metropolitan areas in the west have captive rivers or canals bringing water to the thirsty city. Perhaps they offer a quick means of egress if you are prepared. Large reservoirs are not uncommon and, if they are close enough to get to quickly, may give you a clear shot at getting to the other side and some semblance of isolation.

The boat option assumes that you have someplace to go when you bug out. That someplace has to be fairly close and it has to be near a body of water accessible to you from your retreat or home. In my case, for example, the Cumberland River forms a large bight around my home. The river is less than two miles from me on three different sides. There are several boat ramps within 15 minutes of my yard. That makes for ready access to the water. As far as access to a bug out location, the Cumberland River is tied into a network of waterways that makes most of the eastern half of the U.S. within reach. In fact, I can ultimately reach the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico from a boat ramp within minutes of home. All that is necessary to tap into this vast network is a boat suited to my aspirations.

If you don’t need to travel far to your retreat location, you can make do with just about anything that floats. It just has to be big enough to carry you and your 72-hour bag. The family ski boat or even enough kayaks to go around will fill the bill. If your destination is more than one tank of fuel away, then you need to plan for resupply. A hidden cache placed in happier times will do as long as it is safe from high water and marauding critters, whether they be of the two-legged or four-legged variety. Keep a detailed map to each cache aboard your boat or in your bug out bag so you won’t forget where they are. The maps need to be detailed enough so that anyone in your party can find them in case something happens to you along the way.

Security during such a move is always problematic. In a boat you will face some unique issues. Stealth will probably be your best friend during the escape. Traveling at night will provide more security but navigation in the dark can be tricky. GPS may still be working but extreme caution is required to avoid floating obstacles, sand bars, and meandering channels that lead nowhere. If you must slip down the river through the center of town, fires burning ashore may provide some welcome light but don’t get so close that you illuminate your own position.

Armed and active defense during a waterborne bug out is a horse of a different color. The inherent rocking in a boat will render long range firearms and marksmanship largely irrelevant. Receiving fire from people ashore is unlikely unless you are very close to the bank. They won’t want to waste ammo shooting at something they can’t reach anyway. Boat to boat confrontations will be more likely. Ranges will be short and encounters brief, ending in one boat floating and one boat sinking or disabled. Go with shotguns and 00 Buck. Aim for the engine, the control station and/or the waterline.

On land, caltrops are used to disable a pursuing vehicle. On the water you can quickly improvise a workable substitute. Tie lengths of polypropylene line into a rough net with squares about a foot on a side. Make the net about ten feet wide by five or six feet long and tie a couple of floating weights (such as short blocks of wood or plastic jugs) to the ten foot ends. This will allow it to deploy effectively when you toss it. Store it in a bucket in the stern of your boat. When a pursuing boat gets close, you toss the net over the stern so he runs over it and fouls his prop. End of pursuit. A word of caution is in order. Water-ski ropes are made of polypropylene and would fill the bill just fine except they are usually bright yellow to make them easy to see so boaters won’t run over them. Find some green or brown line to make your net more difficult to avoid when you deploy it. Make sure it floats before you actually need it.

In addition to the normal items you carry in your 72-hour bag, there are some essential extras you will want to pack along in your boat. A good pair of binoculars tops the list in my opinion. Few tools are more useful for finding your way on the water. Match the binoculars with a good set of charts for the waterways you expect to travel and finding your way will be a lot less stressful. A cautionary note: check your charts carefully for locks along the river. These are abundant on eastern rivers and the Corps of Engineers will probably not be on hand to operate them for you. You may need to portage around them. This is where smaller is better as far as the size of your boat is concerned.

Health and safety items should include mosquito repellent and netting. These pests are rampant and dangerous on the water in the warmer months. A good anti-itch cream might be nice in case the repellent doesn’t give 100% protection. Life vests will be more important in a bug out than on a normal boating outing. The risk of winding up in the water with debilitating wounds is high. The vest may keep you afloat long enough to get out of immediate danger and regain your group.

If you plan to lay low during the daylight hours, don’t forget a camouflage system big enough to hide the boat. If your boat is too small to support the weight and bulk of a net system such as the military styles, fresh cut greenery gathered from the area you are hiding in and tied in place will do nicely. In any event, you need something to cover anything in the boat that is brightly colored or reflects light.

A method of holding you in place, even in a current, will be crucial. Carry an anchor big enough for the job attached to enough line to hold you. Your line should be at least seven times as long as the depth of water you are anchoring in. In addition, carry plenty of line long enough and strong enough to tie off to trees or other solid objects if you are lying along the shore.

If the trip is more than a few miles, foraging items such as trot lines, gill nets and crayfish traps should be included. Don’t bother with your good ol’ bass rod and reel since sport fishing is not going to be productive enough to meet your needs. This kind of situation calls for meat fishing techniques. Some simple snare materials for small game would also be a plus.

Finally, a small spare parts kit appropriate to the boat should be included. If the vessel is powered, a spare spark plug, fuel filter, and shear pins might be in order. Two-cycle engine oil shouldn’t be overlooked if needed for your engine. With human-powered craft such as kayaks or rowboats, an extra paddle or two for the group might save the day. Inflatables need a repair kit and an air pump.

Clearly, the floating option can be taken to a whole new level. There is a group of people known as cruisers who are basically accidental Preppers.  They have forsaken life ashore and moved onto a boat permanently. Generally, this boat is a 40-50 foot sailboat set up for the husband and wife to sail without additional crew. These people spend a lot of time and effort to make their floating homes self-sufficient with solar and/or wind power, fresh water makers, etc. They enjoy all the amenities of home while riding to an anchor in some secluded cove somewhere south of somewhere. Bugging out is simply a matter of raising the anchor and sailing to a safer location. Most of these people tend to stay in salt water but there are freshwater live-aboards, too.

If you would like to join this group of far-flung floaters and you aren’t already an experienced boater, start now. You have much to learn before you can confidently and competently pilot your chosen vessel safely. There are lots of ways to get into trouble on a boat even without the added complication of people trying to waylay you. Whole libraries have been written on the subject of living aboard. It is far too big a subject to tackle in this essay. If you want to check out this life, try www.cruisingworld.com/ or the book section of the West Marine web site for information. You should find plenty of links to satisfy your curiosity and help you make a decision. A cruising home may just be the ultimate retreat.

Bugging out exposes you to the most danger you will likely encounter. You will be at the mercy of the crowd until you can clear the populated areas. Consider the water option for your bug out plan. It won’t work for everybody, but it might just work for you. Slipping out of the city under cover of darkness as you watch the fires burn and hear the random firefights sounds a whole lot better than being stuck on a divided highway somewhere trying to fend off the slugs who took off without anything.

Dr. Koelker presented some great information on surviving a serious burn. One significant issue that wasn't fully discussed that is potentially more serious in the short term than fluid replacement. If you were to happen upon someone who suffered a serious burn and you determined it was safe for you to proceed and get your hands on the patient, you must verify that the patient has a good airway, i.e.: Can they or are they breathing? If they are making painful noises or yelling you know they do because otherwise they wouldn't be able to use their voice. However, with burn patients, you can suddenly lose that good airway due to swelling in the mouth / throat [/bronchial tubes]/ lungs. Check the patient for burn marks, redness (or black) and swelling on the face, nose and mouth. Look for burned facial hair and eye lashes. Check the ears for the same. If indications are there, you have to be aware that swelling may close their airway. You won't know if the patient inhaled whatever it was that was burning or just very hot air. If the airway suddenly closes, you will know it because they won't be able to speak or breath. The patient will also change color. It will happen quickly.

If the patient is to survive, you have to intubate or get a nasopharyngeal airway, (NPA), aka nasal trumpet) inserted. The NPA may not work because it reaches only so far through the nasal cavity. If the swelling extends beyond the length of the NPA, then it won't work. Most people don't walk around with NPAs, intubation equipment or emergency cricotomy (aka crico-tracheotomychric) know how. Phoning 911 is your best option. Another option is to get some basic training. Not that basic training will have you doing cricotracheotomys in the street but at least you will know what's happening; what to watch for in patients and the patient scene; and you will be a better rescuer.

Remember this also: When dealing with infants, toddlers, and children, everything happens faster and they can't compensate and hang on like a mature adult. Training is available, just do an Internet search. If time and funds are an issue, buy yourself a book on trauma medicine that is meant for EMTs and paramedics. You will understand most of it. Good Luck. God Bless America. FL Pete

Mr. Rawles,
My child is sick. I need to build a Faraday cage to surround my child's bed. We are in a second floor apartment. Can I use wood and chicken wire?

To create a ground [for the cage], can I: Take an extension cord, tear out the double prong but leave the ground post, cut off the opposite end attach the wires to the wire cage. Would that work?

Thank You, - M.R.

JWR Replies: I will pray for you and your child.

Faraday cages have no positive health effects for humans unless for some very unlikely reason that you live in an area of extreme RF field strength. (Hypothetically, living directly under a 230,000 volt AC high tension power line or right next to a poorly-designed high power microwave broadcast tower with errant side lobes.) The fact is that low level RF (such as the field strengths found in a typical house or apartment residence) has no negative health effects. Because there was cancer one one side of our family, I did some fairly extensive research on this subject. There have been many very expensive and extensive studies conducted on low level RF and they have found essential NO correlation to incidents of cancer, or other diseasesNONE! A variety of home electronics such as cordless phones, cellular phones, microwave ovens, CB radios, and wireless baby monitors have all been studied by reputable scientific and medical organizations. But the study results have all been negative of inconclusive. By the way, what used to be the biggest emitters in American homes--cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and computer monitors--are rapidly becoming extinct, as they are being replaced by relatively low-mission flat panel displays. But even CRTs were fairly safe unless you sat within a few feet of them, and it is noteworthy that the greatest risk was for someone directly behind them.

Now, if it is electronics that you want to protect with a Faraday cage: Chicken wire will stop many radio waves but has has apertures that are far too large to stop microwaves.  (Look at the size of the fine mesh built into the transparent door of a microwave oven!) EMP is very high energy and has frequency components in a very broad range. So a solid metal structure is best. Copper is ideal, but expensive. Galvanized steel will suffice. A steel trash can works fine. You can supplement the seal of the lid by placing a thin fuzz of stainless steel wool all around the lip before you clamp down the lid.)

And BTW, grounding actually hurts the ability of a Faraday cage to stop EMP, because a grounding cable can itself form an unintentional antenna. The general rule is: For lightning protection, do use a grounding cable, but for EMP protection, do not.

If your child is sick, then take him or her to see a qualified medical doctor!

Several readers sent this: Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords

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Bloomberg’s Anti-Gun Group Imploding as 50 Mayors Leave

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They say that "Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus," but it seems that California's Democrat Senators are from Zeta Reticuli: Pelosi: Congress Must Uphold Oath to ‘Protect and Defend’ Constitution... by Passing Gun Control. (Thanks to Jeff H. for the link.)

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Reader "Hushboy" sent a link to a key portion of the text of Canada's Emergencies Act. (Enacted in 1985.)

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A new interactive map from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should be of great interest to preparedness-minded families: Real time evacuation Planning Model (RtePM, or “Route –P-M”) estimates the time required for evacuating vehicles to clear a user defined area for a variety of evacuation types.  Using the GIS mapping data to highlight geographical areas, users can view:

Population both day and night;

Major and minor arteries, highways, and smaller roads;

The speed limits of those roads versus the actual average speed;

The likely evacuation times based on changes to the above criteria.

"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;
To shew that the LORD [is] upright: [he is] my rock, and [there is] no unrighteousness in him." - Psalm 92:12-15 (KJV)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

It’s common for Preppers to run into a misallocation of resources.  Some things are flashy (Read: Guns) and will attract a lot of attention. People will spend hours and hours researching their newest gun purchase but never take the time to conduct a test loading of their bug out gear into their vehicle.  People will spend hours comparing the XTP vs Golden Saber vs Hydra-Shok for their carry gun, but never work on drawing their weapon from their carry holster, manipulation drills, or shooting basics.  How much money is spent on QuickClot and trauma dressings by a person who doesn’t have any first aid skills, much less dental floss, Imodium AD and hand sanitizer? Instantaneous lead poisoning will kill, but so will bad hygiene and diarrhea. Gunshots are sexy. Dental floss to help prevent tooth decay is not.
JWR has often recommended making a dispassionate purchasing plan and sticking to it for this reason.  A recent example given was a PTR91 versus an M1A, and looking at the overall cost of magazines, etc.  A reason people often find fitness success with a personal trainer is because of this same principle. They remove themselves from the decision making process, and have someone else make a “purchasing plan” of exercises for them.  When someone is telling you what exercises to do, it’s hard to ignore them and continue to do only bicep curls and frequent trips to the drinking fountain.
I realize daily life gets in the way of prepping for a lot of people, rather than it being a lifestyle. Unless you are living at your retreat full time, I understand that it’s hard to get further in your preparations while taking care of a 9-5, bills, kids, practice, school, or life in general. Sure, you pick up a #10 can here or box of ammo there, but that’s it. Ask yourself- are you more prepared now than you were a year ago? When you thought of the answer to that question, did you think of things you bought in the past year or things you learned in the past year? How much of your prepping  time is spent on new skills vs. pining over a new purchase?  If it’s not as much as you would like it to be, I have a solution for you, one that is almost a pure “software” upgrade that will pay dividends forever. Even if you are living on your retreat full time, I think you can also benefit from this article. So consider this an opportunity for some prepping personal training.  It’s about applying a purchasing plan approach to learning new skills.
When it comes down to it, software beats hardware any day of the week.  What you know, and what you can do with that knowledge is infinitely more advantageous than all the neatest gadgets in the world.  Simo Häyhä and an open-sighted Mosin Nagant are a perfect example of what a skilled person can do with the most basic equipment. It is the skill of the user that determines the end result. Hardware can be lost, broken, stolen or run out. Software lasts forever, and can actually be multiplied if you can share it with others.  Too many people plan on doing skills they have never tried, with gear they have never used, in conditions they have never been in, under levels of stress they have never dealt with, and expecting good results. This is a recipe for disaster.
My retreat group decided to address this issue. We came up with a list of skills,projects or activities that we felt were important to try, learn, do and master. We had an absolute blast spending the last year doing them. Everyone agreed it was great family bonding time as well. What we found is that with someone else providing the focus, instruction and activities, and you merely following them, you will be encouraged to do things outside of your comfort zone, and, most importantly,  actually do them.  These things can be done mostly at home (or can be adapted for home), for little or no cost.  The projects are designed to be done as a family, but can be done individually as well. If you have kids, this is a great way to give them life skills.  (Every day, your children are learning. If you are not teaching them, someone else is!) Extended families can take part, and lots of these would be a great way to introduce someone to prepping. If you are a prepping grandparent, invite your grandkids over each week.  A lot of the skills are not “prepper” specific, so if one spouse is gung ho and the other is reluctant, they can also act as a conversation starter and good chance to work together. A lot of prepper spouse vs non-prepper spouse arguments tend to center around money spent on preps. If you put forth an effort to improve free skills, it will go a long way towards harmony in the home. You can even do most of the skills without anyone knowing it was for prepping. The list is by no means inclusive, and will not make you a master at anything. Each skill is one that will come in handy both pre and post-SHTF. Everyone has a special skill set niche, but this will hopefully expose you to new things, and encourage you to delve deeper into them on your own or continue them at your own pace.
There are 52 weeks in a year. We came up with 52 skills. You may follow them in order, or to make it extra fun, number each card in a deck, 1-52. Sunday night, pull a card from the deck. Sometime during the next week, Monday thru Sunday, complete the corresponding assigned exercise from the list below. My family did it as almost a game, coming up with a scenario based background for each task that the kids really enjoyed thinking up. One commented that it was like playing Swiss Family Robinson or living Survivorman. I tried to include different skill levels when I could in the same genre. If it is a skill you have already honestly mastered, redo one you have not mastered or wish to try again, or better yet, help teach the skill to someone else.  If Mama does all the cooking, have her help teach others during those skill weeks. Some weeks you will teach, some weeks you will learn. All weeks you will improve.  As stated above, most are free or very low cost.
One pact that we made also as a group going in….In general, if you don’t already, try to live your life this year as if the Crunch already happened.  Grow as much of your own food as you can. Try fixing things yourself, with what you have on hand. Instead of running to the store for something you forgot, do without or come up with another workable option. Go to your group medic before your doctor, if for nothing else than to keep your medic’s skills sharp and to check his or her diagnosis. If your group is geographically nearby, rely on each other for problem solving. Become a support network. Perform all of your own vehicle repairs this year. Do all of your own home repairs. One of your friends used to work in construction or is a mechanic, trust me. Ask around. Work out a trade. You can find a youtube video that shows a walk through of almost any repair, replacement or medical procedure you can think of. They are available now, but will not be when the grid goes down. Learn the skills now, while you can.  I didn’t include specific instructions for most of these skills on purpose…..I want you to research them yourself. If you find something online that you use for instructions, print them out! Work on your resource library one skill as a time. 
One last thing that my family did….Try to put $5 into an envelope each week. If all you can spare is $1 each week, then by all means do that. As you go through the skills, you may find that there are gaps in your preps. It was nice to have a small amount of money set aside preemptively to pick up what was needed. If you go through the year and don’t spend it, you have $260 to buy silver on a dip day or convert to nickels!
Most importantly, enjoy yourself. Have fun. Here we go:
1)      Take care of your health issues NOW! Make a Doctor and/or Dentist Appointment.  The appointment does not have to actually be during this week, but you at least need to schedule it this week. Get that cavity filled. Get a physical. Ask about prophylactic antibiotics for your upcoming vacation to Mexico. If you are on medication, see what you need to accomplish to get off of it. If you regularly see your Doctor or Dentist, check out a health book from the library and read it. Most carry books about natural remedies or other topics that can be useful. (see what herbs you can grow that would be helpful)

2)      We all talk about the grid going down. How will you cook when it goes? Come up with an off grid cooking method.  Try making a volcano stove, rocket stove, wood gas stove, alcohol stove or a solar cooker. If you plan on using a fire ring, do you have cast iron or other way to cook on it? Do you have a pot stand? Do you store enough Charcoal? If you already have an off grid method or a wood fired stove, develop a second method. A very efficient solar oven can be constructed from a reflective sun visor from the dollar store (search the web for plans). Solar cooking does not produce smoke like traditional fires do and while you may have associated food smells, you won’t have the giveaway sign of a fire. This method is ideal for apartment dwellers with access to a sunny balcony. If you have stored charcoal for a BBQ as your method, can you cook with wood as well? This is also a good time to construct fire starters out of dryer lint or cotton balls and Vaseline. Store in empty prescription bottles or altoid containers.

3)      Actually cook a meal with your off grid method.  Go as simple or elaborate as you feel comfortable doing.  If all you can muster is roasting hot dogs, then do it. (At worst, you have a family cookout over a campfire.) For a better exercise, try using your food storage (you are rotating it and eating it on a regular basis, correct?) or baking something.  Baking something in a solar oven is very challenging and rewarding project. (This is great for science project time for kids too.) If you already use a wood stove to cook with, use an alternative method (redundant redundancy!)

4)      With no grid or reduced refrigeration, food storage becomes difficult. Everyone plans on hunting or butchering livestock, and jerking the meat. So go ahead and do it. Smoke or Jerk meat this week. For an added twist, you can imagine the power went out and you have to jerk some rapidly thawing item on hand in your freezer, or you can just buy a cut of meat specifically for it. Already make jerky? Try making jerky sticks from ground meat, or try pemmican.  Try to find recipes that call for ingredients you have on hand. If you don’t already store and rotate those ingredients, it’s a good chance to start. Extra points if you make the jerky from a home built smoker. Already have a home built smoker or dehydrator? Make one from scratch using foraged material.

5)      Go hunting or trapping .  Every state has something that can be hunted year round, whether it is jackrabbits, coyotes, etc. Hunting builds countless skills, and is great bonding time for families.  Part of everyone’s SHTF plan is hunting….but when did you last go? If you weren’t drawn for Elk last year, did you still go for squirrel?  Skills atrophy with disuse….keep yours fresh! If you hunt or trap regularly take a newbie and pass along some skills to the next generation.

6)      If your hunt was successful, tan the fur. Look at plans online to build a fur stretcher. Process it using ingredients you have on hand if possible . It is very simple to end up with a great fur. It is also very simple to destroy one.  Learn now, when your child’s warmth through winter does not depend on it.  I have friends that run a few traps, and are able make a few thousand extra dollars each year selling fur. If you do not have a fur to tan from your hunt, research the process and get the ingredients to tan one when you are successful.  If you already do this try and make an item of clothing from your fur or leather.
7)      Go fishing this week. Take your kids. If you don’t have kids, take a niece or nephew. Try to use natural bait if you can find it. Dig your own worms or catch your own crickets, or minnows. An easy way to find natural bait it to turn over large rocks in the water and swipe a butterfly net under them. Have fun.
8)      Go shooting. If all you can do is dry fire, then by all means do that. Try something new if you can. Try trap or skeet if you haven’t before. Shoot an IDPA or high power match. Shoot at unknown ranges(distances) if you have an area where you can. Sign up for an Appleseed class. When you shoot, try to go with a training mindset. Pick a specific skill to improve on for each outing.
9)      Sew something this week.  Mend or patch a ripped pair of jeans. Make a pillow if you are new to sewing. If you already sew, try quilting, or teach someone.  Try both machine and hand sewing.  Got all those mastered? Try knitting.
10)   Barter for something this week. Search on Craigslist or Backpage, or your local classifieds. “WTT” means “WILLING TO TRADE” (you can often search for WTT and things should pop up). The only rule is no cash, only bartering or trading.  The downside to Backpage or craigslist is that the hankering is done by email, so an even better place to barter is at a farmers market, where you can practice the skill face to face.  It doesn’t have to be a survivalist item. The goal is the bartering, not the item. 

11)   Volunteer this week. Choices are up to you. Church, Scouts, kid’s school, soup kitchen, etc. Give back to your community.  You will also be exposed to a group of the population you normally don’t interact with, for better or worse.

12)   Go through your clothes and food storage, and donate any items that you will not eat before expiration or that don’t fit. Try to repurpose the clothing if you can, camo makes good storage pouches etc.. donate it If you cannot. Some thrift stores offer discount coupons for the store when you donate items.

13)   First aid training. Learn CPR and basic first aid at a minimum. Most communities offer free classes. You don’t have to take the class this week, but you do need to sign up for it. Already know CPR? Work on suturing, or starting IVs, or taking vital signs. Go over signs of and treatment for shock, burns, gunshot wounds, dehydration, infection etc. Look at thrift shops or the Goodwill for medical books. Many have EMT, Nurse or Paramedic textbooks, as well as PDRs, often for a dollar or two. The books do no good unless you read them! Have your medical coordinator teach a class.

14)   Each family/retreat member brings a different skill set to the table. Cross train and teach a skill to one another. It will increase your knowledge of the topic, as well as make you a better learner. It does not matter the topic or skill, again, the teaching process is the goal. Your kids may surprise you with their knowledge as well. In all reality, you may have a surgeon with your group, who gets struck by lightning on Crunch+1 . Unless you have cross trained, you will be behind the 8 ball.

15)   Everyone should already have a Bug out bag. How many days’ worth of food do you pack in your bag? If its three days, for the next three days, eat only that food from your bag.  You will quickly find out if you packed too little, too much, if those Datrex bars or MREs make you constipated or give you diarrhea. If your plan is one jar of peanut butter, see how well that goes.  You will also see the effects of your local environment on your items. Either way, it’s probably time to rotate the food in there anyway. You may end up adding spices or flavorings like tabasco or seasoned salt.  Don’t cheat. I promise you that you will pack different items when you are done with this week!
16)   Everyone stores wheat, with the idea that you will bake bread. How many of you have baked a loaf of bread? Bake one this week. I recommend the Lahey method (search for it). His recipe is literally no knead, and makes wonderful bread that has very little hands on time, and uses a tiny amount of yeast. You can prep it in 10 minutes before bed for baking the next day.  Already bake bread? Grind your own flour for your bread. Already do that? Use a sourdough starter, or try baking bread off grid.  
17)   Test your off grid power. See how long the solar charger takes to charge your batteries or a jump pack. See how long the jump pack lasts charging tool batteries. If you don’t have anything, then come up with some method of off grid power.  An option is a jump pack with a DC plug and AC outlet coupled with a solar panel with a DC output, or simply  a solar panel and battery charger. Put it in your purchasing plan.  Already have solar? Consider a surplus hand crank generator, or one of the pocket ones. Try using the power source for alternative heating or cooling.
18)   Go for a hike, or walk in your area. You can work on map reading, orienteering, etc. You can teach about the military crest. Look for lines of drift. Notice ambush spots. Try to identify plant and animal life. Treat it as a patrol hike if you are at that stage.  The goal is not the Appalachian Trail. The goal is to walk in the outdoors, and pay attention to your surroundings. If you do this on a regular basis, throw a BOB on and use it as physical training opportunity.
19)   Go for a hike at night. This is different from just walking around in the dark. Many parks offer full moon hikes if you want a guided experience.  Pay attention to shadows and hiding areas. Walk quietly. Avoid using a flashlight and improve your night vision. Orient with compass instead of landmarks.
20)   Make a cache outdoors. It doesn’t have to be anything special, or crazy. Even if it is a PVC tube with only a roll of silver dimes, choose a location, landmark, construct the container, and bury it.  If you are afraid to bury anything of value, try tissue paper which is a great test to see how waterproof you can make it. If you already have made one, try to construct a hasty one from supplies on hand.
21)   Make a hidden cache inside your house.. Even if you don’t hide anything in it yet, construct it.
22)   Improve your relationship with your neighbors.  Some of you may laugh at this, but a lot of people wave at their neighbors, but don’t even know their names. If this is you, introduce yourself. If you are already on good terms, bring them a loaf of your recently baked bread or invite them to dinner.  You and your neighbor are geographical allies. Start to kindle a relationship, very simple conversations will let you know if they are "like-minded" people.  
23)   Butcher something, from start to finish, and use all of it up.  For those of you with livestock, this is a no-brainer. If you don’t have livestock, it gets more interesting, but still doable. If your hunting or fishing was successful, start here. If it was not, buy a live chicken. Use an air rifle or slingshot and some bird seed if you have that option. Buy a live lobster if all else fails. The goal is to go through the act of processing an animal, and to make three meals out of it. With a chicken, you could eat the meat as a main course one night, toss some with some pasta or rice the next, and make a broth out of the bones for soup.   If you use a rabbit, squirrel, etc, process the fur as well. There was a great article on SB a few months back about having a Zero-Waste kitchen. Try it.
24)   Make a family budget. See where you can trim any fat, and make an effort.  See what things you can do at home. (Haircuts, coffee, etc) as well as reducing energy expenses (heating oil, electricity, gasoline) Start a list of prepping needs, and start on a purchase list including order, and stick with it!
25)   Make candy with your food storage. Think salt water taffy, peanut brittle, hard candy, stained glass candy, all the old fashioned treats.  It’s a lot easier than you think. Sugar and corn syrup can make amazing things. Try to flavor them with natural flavorings, like clove oil or cinnamon oil, or other things from your food storage if you can. In addition to keeping morale up post SHTF, candy could help on picket duty or be great for barter.
26)   Run a communications test.  Test out the actual range on your radios/CBs. If you don’t have comms yet, do some research, select some, and put them in your purchasing plan. Try your primary and secondary stations. Make sure your channel of choice is not used by a nearby RV park or deer camp, etc.   Monitor your chosen stations on different days, at different times, in different weather, and see who else is on there. Decide on message drop locations, rally points, and other communication methods you have a code or use the “identical book code” method, test it out. Iron wrinkles out now, not later.
27)   Read the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence.  Understand where your rights come from. Compare them to some “modern” constitutions of other nations. Then, write your congress critter. The topic choice is up to you, but I’m sure you won’t have to look far to find a passionate topic.  Only a small percent of constituents write, so you are able to have a exponential impact.
28)   Improve your internet security. Use a VPN or Tor browser, which is open source and free. In light of the NSA news, this is something everyone should already be doing.  If you already do this, make digital scans of all important documents and put them on a thumb drive(s). Truecrypt is a great encryption software that is also open sourced. Cache one and/or store one with a trusted friend. Consider an Ironkey USB for the task.
29)   Forage a meal locally. In addition to hunting, people assume they will be able to forage post SHTF, in a calorically deprived state while avoiding lead poisoning.  Try it during good times, with a field guide, and a full stomach. A good resource is a study of the native plants etc..that the Native Americans use and how they prepare them. This has to be done with care, and make sure that any items to be eaten are correctly identified! (I assume no responsibility for your errors.)  Live in an apartment in the city? Find a nearby Oak tree and make acorn flour.
30)   Build something out of wood using off grid power. If you have cordless tools that you can power with solar, feel free to use them. If you have a hydro powered mill, use it. If you only have hand tools, use them. Bench, planter box, raised bed, tree house, rocking horse…. Choice is up to you. But practice your large scale building skills. Try drawing up blue prints and plan your cuts to not waste materials.

31)   Build a child’s toy out of wood using off grid tools. While last week focused on macro wood skills, this week focuses on micro skills. Sanding, fitting, finishing, carving. Toy cars, dolls, ball in cup, maybe even a Dala Horse. Alternatively, try making a wooden spoon or bowl.
32)   Take your kids out of school for a day, and home school them if you don’t already. It’s worth taking a day off from work. If your schedules will not allow it, spend Saturday morning doing it.  If your kids are already home-schooled, go on a field trip somewhere fun.  Most parents have no idea what their children are learning, or what they have not learned. Take an active role in your child’s education.

33)   Go to a thrift shop. If you regularly make thrift shop and garage sale rounds, try to find a new one. If not, locate a few in your area and go. Foodsavers, tools, cast iron, preparedness books, medical books, sturdy clothing, meat grinders, CB radios, canning supplies etc are all readily available on a fairly regular basis at pennies on the dollar. You will save money, help a charity, and reduce waste.
34)   Can something, ideally something homegrown. If your garden didn’t produce or you don’t garden (Start!), go to your local farmers market or produce discount store, and buy in bulk. Jams, jellies, and pickles are an easy and forgiving start. If you regularly can vegetables, can meat. If you do that on a regular basis, come up with and design a barterable canned good, whether it is tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, salsa, or something more imaginative.
35)   Run a test load of your G.O.O.D. gear and make the drive.  Give yourself 30 minutes to load and go,and use the gas already in your car. If you have done this recently, go with your B or C route.  If your drive is cross country, try the test load and follow your route on google earth.  Rotate your stored gasoline from your gas can into your vehicles and refill them (don’t forget Sta-Bil or Pri-G!) If you are already at your retreat, you should still have a G.O.O.D. plan.

36)   Conduct a threat assessment of your home.  Literally, try to break into your own house.  Even better, swap with a friend and assess each other’s house so you get a fresh set of eyes.  Come up with an assault plan if you were going to rob/burglarize your house. Start from a distance outside, and finish clearing the inside of the house.

37)   Fix any deficiencies found during last week’s threat assessment. At a minimum, adjust and aim lighting, upgrade hinge and lock screws, put locks or dowels on windows, etc. Trim bushes that were blocking fields of fire. Plant roses under windows. Put locks on gates and your fuse box, etc. Consider anti-vehicle defenses, door and window reinforcement and use of furniture and materials in your home to build defendable or safe positions.
38)   People often assume 1 gallon of water per person per day. Using only containers of water, see how much water you actually use in a day. Cooking, cleaning, washing, and drinking. When you finish, adjust your stores if you need to. 

39)   Run JWR’s 48 hour experiment. Shut off power to your house for 48 hours. See where your deficiencies are, and make lists. Update your purchasing plan.
40)   Like the 48 hour experiment, go seven days without purchasing anything. This should be a breeze. If it is not, adjust your stores and purchasing plan.
41)   Use your water filter. Locate questionable water, and filter it. Try different methods. Compare ease, taste, with a pre filter vs without, etc.  Try boiling, a filter, tablets, UV. Try evaporation, either with a two bottle mini distillation method, solar oven or plastic wrap and see how much water you can process through collection, filtration, boiling, sterilization per day.
42)   Start working on your fitness. (Preface it with a Dr’s visit, and all the usual liability provisos.) Even if it is only walking, it is a start. On one of your thrift shop visits, pick up an exercise DVD. Something as cheesy as a Tae Bo video will help immensely if done on a regular basis.
43)   Make a range card for your house from all directions. From the assessment you did earlier, identify possible paths of approach and cover that attackers may use as well as landmarks that are readily identifiable. Measure distances inside your home as well. Shoot at these distances on your next range trip. How does your shotgun pattern at inside the house ranges? What is your battle rifle sight offset at 5 yards? What are your holdover points for your long gun at your landmarks? Shoot your sidearm at longer ranges as well, make a map and range card of the areas around your house.
44)   Everyone has planned  to sprout after the crunch. So sprout some greens this week. While you are at it, make a meal out of wheat berries, hopefully in your solar oven. Try different recipes as wheat berries may get old real fast after the crunch.
45)   Put on your Bug out bag, MBR, sidearm, and web gear. Work on weapon manipulations, clearance drills, shooting positions with all of your gear on. Can you access your magazines on your chest rig while prone? How fast can you dump your backpack and drop prone? Try working some moving to cover and firing while moving drills with all your gear on.
46)   Clean and oil your guns, including disassembling magazines. Where eye protection!  Rotate your carry magazines.  Work on loading from stripper clips for any weapons that utilize these, as well as performing tactical reloads for magazine fed devices. If you carry a shotgun, practice loading that. Once you are comfortable, try it at a jog, or while sprinting from cover to cover. (if you already do this develop a list of common parts that break from each weapon and add it to your purchase plan)
47)   Look at other news sources this week. If you usually watch the news, read a newspaper. Watch a new television station. Visit a new web site. It is important to not have blinders on when looking for trigger events, as well as to not limit yourself to like-minded sources. If you are a Drudge Report or Zero Hedge person and can stand it, go to MSNBC or one of the kool-aid drinking financial pages. Learn the opposing arguments.  Go electronically invisible this week as well. Pay cash for everything you buy if you don’t already. Do not carry a cell phone with you, but if you must, take the battery out. Don’t use your shopping discount card (your area code plus 867-5309 works pretty much universally.) Use your VPN or Tor browser for any Internet needs. Realize the trail you are leaving everywhere.
48)   Make a Zeer pot. Already made a zeer pot? Make a Fresnel lens cooker (Be careful with it!) You can build huge ones from old projection televisions from your local thrift store. Try another evaporative cooling method, even if its spinning something in a wet tube sock.
49)   Make hard cider, wine, or beer.  If you are opposed to alcohol, please consider the fuel/disinfectant and barter properties that it could make if distilled, and remember you are learning the skill, not condoning consumption. If you are still opposed, make cheese. Or try making homemade root beer and bottling it.  Save bottles during the year for this project.
50)   One shot challenge. This is a family favorite. Set different targets (we use  8x11 sheets of paper) at unknown ranges.  Without any warm up shots or adjustment to zero, place one shot on each target with your MBR. Once you can do this on a regular basis, try it with a different weapon, sidearm, etc. Extend the ranges for any guns you plan on serving LP/OP duty.
51)   Introduce some stress into your life. Expose yourself to a high stress situation.  Compete in something. Challenge yourself. Consider volunteering with a local hospital, fire, EMS or police department, or go on a ride along with one at the least. The more accustomed you can be to thinking on your feet and dealing with stress now, the easier it will be later.
52)  Plan for 52 additional skills next year! See what needs work, what skills you have, and continue progressing! You can use this list every year and expand on each idea, create an alternative or pass along skills to other members.
Think of this challenge as a return on investment. The more well rounded we all become the better. Even the best stocked well defended retreat can burn down, flood or be hit by a tornado. The more skills you have the more valuable you become to another group or community. I truly do hope you will take this challenge. One year from now, you do not want to be wishing you had done X and Y. Expand your skill set. I fear that our time is approaching, and the clock is ticking. Take advantage of the forgiving times to prepare yourself.

I appreciate what Havoc had to say.  As I read survival fiction I often find myself thinking that the authors are being optimistic about the situations they write about.  I couch that with my own understanding that if the authors were to write the stories as I fear they will play out then no one would want to read those stories.  Reality can be ugly.

I think Havoc does well to mention the four horsemen, and it is worth noting that the rider of the pale horse (Revelation 6:7-8) is given authority to kill a fourth of mankind with sword, famine, pestilence and the beasts of the earth. In survival fiction there's plenty of emphasis on the sword and famine, but not much on pestilence and the beasts of the earth.

Pestilence already has a history of shaping our world.  From the plagues in Europe to the smallpox outbreaks among native American Indians we already have strong, documented examples of what pestilence can do to a given population.  It certainly should have a place in our concerns for the future.

The beasts of the earth have plenty of potential for concern too.  What Havoc suggests about dogs is valid.  I have firsthand experience dealing with domestic dogs turned pack hunters.  City folks think it gives Fido a better chance if they drop him off in the backcountry rather than at animal control, but they aren't considering the impact their choice has on those who live in the backcountry.

Fido has to eat, and he has a stomach which will remind him of this just as well as yours or mine.  Fido also has a fine set of teeth, keen ears and an exceptional nose.  With his appetite to urge him on, Fido is going to put these tools to work, and kibble doesn't grow in the wild.  Nor will the folks who dropped Fido off return every couple of weeks to drop off a bag of kibble. No.  Fido is going to revert back to his ancestral heritage as a hunter.  He will get by on some of what comes his way, and eventually he will meet up with more of his kind and they will form a pack.  A pack has a bigger appetite and requires bigger game.  Before you know it the pack is taking down livestock.  Been there. Done that.  I've shot Fido and his friends.

That was in a properly functioning, civilized world.  Add a cataclysmic failure to the picture and things aren't going work out so nicely.

The numbers from the Humane Society say that 46% of U.S. households own at least one dog and there are 78.2 million dogs owned.  There are 3,500 animal shelters taking in 6 to 8 million dogs and cats each year (no separate numbers for just dogs).  Consider what happens if the rider of the pale horse takes out a quarter of the population. What are you going to do about 20 million homeless Fidos?

You thought you were going to subsist by going out into the woods and hunting Bambi and Thumper?  Good luck.  Fido's on the same quest.  Every deer and rabbit you get is one less for him.  And every one he gets is one less for you.  No longer will he be your best friend.  And I don't think it will be long before he is hunting you.  How's your aim at about 24" off the ground and a fast approaching target?  How about several of them at once? Working on hogs in Texas might be good practice.

Of course it won't just be Fido.  If man starts to put more pressure on the game in the woods then every other carnivore is going to notice the impact.  And every last one of them has a better nose, better ears and sharper teeth than your or me. They have faster reflexes, superior protection from the elements and are generally better at moving through the woods quietly.  The refugee who decides he would rather sleep in the woods than run the risk of entering a small town is not evading risk.  The only advantage to the beasts of the field is that they are not likely to abuse or torture you before they kill you.

I expect this will be an issue even for those with the perfect retreat situation. Those who are set up for long term self sufficiency will still be impacted by the animals which have found their fare reduced.  Livestock will be difficult to protect, and if predators acquire a taste for people, look out.  We currently enjoy a world in which the animals fear us.  Take that fear away and we are at a substantial disadvantage. - Harry T.

JWR Replies: Your points are well-taken. All the more reason to get lots of firearms training and to learn how to set snares!

In the long term, there might also be a risk posed by wolves and perhaps even wolf-dog hybrids, as packs of wild wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains gradually spread out to the south, east, and farther west. In the event that the feral dog population jumps, some degree of uncontrolled interbreeding will become inevitable. It is also notable that intentional wolf hybrids are already fairly common, with at least 300,000 estimated kept as pets, and climbing. (For that matter, how about Tigers? There are 4,000 privately-owned tigers in Texas, alone. How many of those might someday be set loose?)

For anyone who might feel in a Guy Fawkes sort of mood on any day other than November 5th, here is some useful data: State Codes Related To Wearing Masks

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News from Nanny State Norge: Man’s Home Raided by Police for Paying Cash

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Joe K. sent this: Is Your PIC MetaData Giving You Away?

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Pierre M. suggested five web pages on the topic of camouflage:

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Congress and the Justice Dept’s Dangerous Attempts to Define “Journalist” Threaten to Exclude Bloggers. JWR's Comment: Considering that many blogs have readerships of 100,000 or more, while many magazines and newspapers only have 50,000 subscribers, it is ludicrous to deem the former "legitimate", whilst excluding the latter. In a free and modern society, the very concept of "press credentials" is anachronistic and smacks of elitism, favoritism, and cronyism. For our public servants to only grant a few the "privilege" to access to attend public meetings, to observe public court trials, and to sit in the gallery of legislative chambers is haughty and supercilious. And we've already seen the peril of declaring it a privilege to take photos on public streets. To allow some to do so, but not others implies that the public at large is somehow de classe and that we are mere contemptuous rabble. (OBTW, as I've mentioned before, the level of contempt by police officers has risen to the point that there have been some cases when credentials don't help, even if you are from a television news station.)

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It's all about revenue: Cop Fired for Speaking Out Against Ticket and Arrest Quotas

"Government at its best is a necessary evil, and at its worst, an intolerant one." - Thomas Paine

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A final reminder: Don't miss the upcoming Patriots and Self-Reliance Rally at Farragut State Park, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, July 26, 27 & 28, 2013. There will be several SurvivalBlog advertisers with booths there. The speakers will include Stewart Rhodes, Sheriff Richard Mack, Pastor Chuck Baldwin, Dale Pearce, Kris Anne Hall, and Cope Reynolds.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Last week I returned home, after being away for a few days, to find a good portion of my preps under 30 inches of scuzzy water due to a flash flood that hit my neighborhood.  They were stored in my unfinished basement that also housed a permanent sump pump installed in one corner which was supposed to prevent such flooding.

When I started down the stairs to the basement I was met with a really strong musty smell.  I couldn't get down the last 3 steps due to the high water.  I noticed a couple of my #2.5 cans of freeze dried food floating nearby and fished them out of the water.  The cans were slimy and smelly but the labels were still somewhat intact.  I sat down on the step and used a powerful flashlight to illuminate the room. 
Floating in the water were a lot of my canning supplies, #2.5 & #10 cans of freeze dried food, vacuum sealed bags of food, pieces of cardboard boxes and some trash bags that stored other prepper type items.  A good number of boxes & Tupperware containers at the back of the room had tipped over with the contents now in a huge wet, mushy amorphous pile of gunk.  It looked like the wooden shelves they were originally on were broken or had become unhinged.  The heating unit for the house was 3/4 of the way under water.  Good thing its July and not January.
Tears of despair started to well up in me but I quickly started doing some deep breathing and was able to push them back down.  I knew immediately I wouldn't be able to afford to replace the items let alone a new heating unit.  I was laid off a few years ago from corporate America and had not been able to find a full time job yet.  I had gone from making $40 an hour to $10 an hour part time with no benefits.  My 83 year-old mom had been sending me some money to help me keep the bills paid and food on the table.  There was no extra anything.  I had bought the food and preps years ago while I was gainfully employed and they had given me some sense of security these last few years. 

I made myself get up and start working the problem.  I went to the shed and grabbed a couple of small submersible pumps but only had garden hoses to put on them.  I then started moving some furniture out of the way so I could run the hoses up the stairs and out the back door.  I laid down towels to protect the antique oak wood floors and started pumping.  I only got 6 inches pumped out before I had to pull the pumps and hoses in order to shut the back door for the night.  24 inches to go.

Next morning I set everything back up but noticed that the water level was back up to 28 inches.  I went and talked to a good, like-minded neighbor and he came over to look at it.  He gave me a quick education on water table levels and sump pumps, specifically the difference between pedestal (which the old one was) and submersible ones.  He told me the 2 smaller submersible pumps I was using could handle a much bigger hose than the 5/8 garden hoses.  A trip to Home Depot and quick installation of bigger flexible hoses allowed me to start pumping larger amounts of water out. 

After a day of pumping I got the water level down to 6 inches and could see that the old pedestal style sump pump had come up out of the barrel sunk into the floor of the basement and was sitting on the floor.  Which, of course, meant the motor was trashed and a new one was needed.  I shut everything down for the night and took another 1200 mg. of Tylenol.  My back was seriously hurting from moving the furniture and lifting sump pumps with long hoses attached in and out. 

Next morning started out with me walking around fairly bent over from back spasms so I switched to Advil and headed to Home Depot for a new submersible pump with a float.  Back at home the water level had risen over night to 19 inches so I put the two small pumps back to work.  I almost took a header into the water while trying to wrestle the old pump out which was to the left of the staircase.  I was standing on the stairs bent sideways trying to get the old pump out so I could put the new one in the barrel.  Lost my balance, whacked my head on a floor joist (which kept me from doing a face plant in the water) and did a wicked twist to my ribs but I got it out.  Installed the new pump and started to really move some water out.

Did I mention I am a small frame woman and sump pumps with big hoses attached are heavy and awkward?  I was sitting in a lawn chair watching the water pump out into the irrigation ditch, nursing a wicked headache and spasms in my ribs, neck, back and shoulders when another good, like-minded neighbor I had told about the "event" came by.  He walked up and handed me a hamburger, root beer and a big bottle of Aleve.  A hamburger never tasted so good and I am now totally sold on Aleve.
The next day, with the new pump working and the water level down, I put a couple of big box fans in the basement to start drying things out and shut the door to the basement.  I landed on the couch for the rest of the day with my new friend, Aleve, and gave my aches and pains a break.  The following day I had recuperated enough to go down and start hauling stuff out.  More heavy smelly stuff up the stairs and out into the yard.

Some good news, some not so good.  The Mountain House #10 cans had already started to rust so they went into a separate pile to research later.  The AlpineAire, Rainy Day Food from Walton Feed and the Gourmet Reserve #2.5 & #10 cans did not rust and still had their labels attached.  The Yoder's canned meats did not rust but the labels had come off so they went into the pile with the Mountain House cans.  Nothing like a can of mystery meat to look forward to.  Canning jars, lids, and pots were dirty, smelly and slime encrusted.
All would need to be washed and disinfected but I don't want to start that process until I research the best way to disinfect stuff.  My initial thoughts are one bucket of hot soapy water, then a bucket of Lysol and water, then a bucket of Clorox and water.  I don't know if the Clorox will fade the writing on the labels and I know I probably only have one chance at this since the labels would all be getting wet again.  I don't want more mystery food to contend with. 
I had broken up other items such as rice, oatmeal, noodles, beans, etc. into smaller serving size bags using a food savers vacuum sealer.  I had written expiration dates and general instruction on each bag.  Did I mention that writing with permanent markers is not so permanent when submerged in water for days?  A lot of the writing is now a very light purple.  Thankfully, I have a full inventory with expiration dates and should be able to piece the puzzle back together.  Most of these bags faired fairly well, other than the handwritten notes on the outside, but would have to be thoroughly cleaned.  A number of them had been poked by something and water got in.  Those went into the trash.

The pressure cookers and food dehydrator had been under water for days and I put them in the pile to do more research on.  Then I got to the pile that had been in the Tupperware containers.  Took more Aleve and started to dig in.  Some of the contents had come completely out of the containers and others were just drowned in the Tupperware.  Items such as Ace bandages, slings, Israeli bandages, bandanas, cloth flour bags, parachute cord, bungees, and ropes went into a pile to be washed and hopefully salvaged.  Other items such as books, paper products, feminine hygiene products and band-aids had turned to mush and went into the trash.

In the Tupperware containers I had put a good number of the items in Zip loc bags or vacuum-sealed bags.  I found some had been poked with something that put a hole in the bag and scuzzy water had got into them.  I got to looking at the contents and think I found the culprit.  The bottom of tubes such as toothpaste, antibiotic ointment, sunscreen and various other first aid ointments have very sharp edges to them.  I think these sharp corners poked holes in other nearby items.  I made a mental note to self to duct tape the bottom of tubes in the future to hopefully prevent this.  I also think some of the loose items such as screwdrivers, utensils, tent stakes and various other tools had done their fair share of hole poking.  Another mental note to self to look for small Tupperware type containers such as those used for food storage to use for housing sharp items in the future.  I found the vacuum-sealed bags can have really sharp corners to them when they are fully filled.

Items in bottles and jars such as vitamins, over the counter medications, creams, spices and the like had label problems.  I opened a couple of them and found that the safety tab under the lid had kept the contents dry.  The cotton at the top of the containers of vitamins and medications was dry and did not smell.  I think they are okay....just have label problems.  I never really liked all those safety tabs in the past and thought they were a pain in the butt.  Now I'm thinking I like them. 

Construction items such as tools, wood, nails, screws, saws, nuts & bolts, hinges and the like had water damage and had started to rust and bow.  I put them in a pile by themselves to be gone through later.  All the cardboard boxes that the nails, screws, nuts and bolts were mushy and had pretty much disintegrated.  I know you can get rust off tools and I think it is steel wool you use.  Added rust elimination to my list of items to research.  I know some of these items were responsible for hole poking and would need a different type of container in the future.

Items such as first aid, fire starters, survival type stuff, etc. were a mixed lot.  Some were mush that went into the overflowing trash, others went into a pile of possible salvageable and another pile of OK but needs cleaning and disinfecting.  With items such as gauze, bandages and the like, it would depend upon whether the item was packaged in plastic with a paper label slapped on.  Also depended upon whether they had gotten holes poked in the packaging.  Did I mention that there are all kinds of sharp stuff that can poke holes in things if they get all shifted around?  Cloth type items went into a pile of their own to be run through the washing machine numerous times. 

I discovered items such as dish soap that has a pull top opening don't always stay closed.  Items such as shampoo and lotion that have the lid where you push down on one part of the lid to get the other side to pop open also doesn't just magically stay closed if they are shifted and tossed about.  They leaked out onto items and created their own kind of mess.  Fortunately, the guns, ammunition, scopes, cleaning kits, and other expensive vital items I had stored in a spare bedroom and were spared.  Yea!!

My neighbors are awesome.  A good number of them dropped by in the days of hauling, sorting, throwing out and brought homemade baked goods, quick meals, soda, words of encouragement and hope.  I had set up the yard in the back of the house for laying things out to dry, for sorting and for making piles of stuff to figure out.  OPSEC was definitely blown but the good, like-minded neighbors were the only ones allowed into that area.  The nosy neighbors were headed off at the front of the yard.  Some of the good neighbors noticed my trash cans were full to overflowing and I had begun putting stuff in large black contractor bags.  They offered to take the trash in the contractor bags and put in their trash cans.  Did I mention I have some awesome neighbors?

All the old Christmas decorations had been submerged and needed to be pulled out to be dried.  I found this to be kinda depressing because it reminded me of better times when life was good.  Back then I was making plenty of money and a high electric bill in December wasn't a problem.  I used to go all out and decorated both the inside and outside of the house with festive lights and decorations.  I had stopped celebrating the season after I got laid off and just couldn't find the spirit to decorate anymore.... not even a tree.  I wound up throwing the majority of the lights and decorations in the trash.  The small indoor nativity scene got me though.  My mom had given it to me years ago and it was trashed.  I saved the wise men, sheep, a camel and the star that went over the scene. 

The last Tupperware container to go through was one I had been avoiding because it contained all the Christmas tree decorations...some which held sentimental value to me.  The container had been knocked over and rattled a lot when I brought it up out of the basement.  I opened the lid and my heart sunk.  Scuzzy water had gotten in and most of the items were trashed.  The ornaments were crushed and broken.  I sifted through the mess and found a couple of special ornaments that had not been broken but had crusted scum on them.  Tears started pouring down my face and I tried to suck it up but I couldn't stop the flow.  I just sat there crying silently thinking of times past.

I picked up a few things and added them to the small pile of items I had put on my desk.  The pile now contained a canning jar full of rusty nails and screws, some bailing wire, a can of Yoder's mystery meat, a bottle of Aleve, a tube of Neosporin, 2 wise men, a scuzzy Christmas ornament, and a camel.   As I sat there trying to stuff my emotions back inside I found I had taken one of the bigger nails and a smaller one out and was turning them over and over.  I grabbed the bailing wire and fixed the smaller nail 1/3 of the way down the bigger nail.  I then attached a bailing wire loop at the top and put the rusty nail cross around the camel's neck.  I don't know why I did it, I just did.  There was something appropriate about my rusty nail cross-held together by bailing wire. 
I wish I had something poetic or profound to say at this point but my thoughts and emotions are like the jumbled piles of stuff sitting out in the yard.  I feel like I am sitting in the transition zone between the good times of the past, the current challenges and the possible future SHTF scenario.  The 10 years working at Outward Bound gave me knowledge, skill, courage, toughness and strength.  The 12 years at corporate America challenged me intellectually, gave me financial security and showed me how cold the world can be.  Now I am financially poor but happy.  A little down but not out.  I recovered my true spirit that had led me to work and teach people about nature and the outdoors.  Some things were gained and some things were lost.  Along the way, much was learned and much is still to be learned.  Even though I am human and my emotions come out occasionally I do have the ability to suck it up and continue on.  The sun does come up each day and life does go on.  I don't know what it all means yet but I think I will be keeping my cross made of rusty nails and bailing wire with me for some time to come. 
Keep your socks and powder dry (and out of unfinished basements).  Take care and may you be surrounded by good, like-minded friends, family and neighbors.

First let's start by saying that the proverbial "do all" knife has never been made. Men have worked long and hard only to realize that for every action is an equal and opposite reaction.
You want a knife for chopping down trees? The blade must be very tough. This means though that the blade is not as hard and will not hold an edge very long.

You want a knife that will skin a 300 pound animal without need to be sharpened? Then the blade will be very hard and thus somewhat brittle. Consequently more difficult to sharpen when it does need it.
A fighting knife is not an outdoor survival knife! Don't buy a dagger and expect it to perform as a survival knife.
When selecting a knife, consider this for a moment. Just because the price of the knife is ridiculous does not mean that its better. The heart of the system is the materials used and the construction methods. For example, A blade that is ground will not be as hard or durable as a hammer forged knife. The difference is that a ground knife is taken from 'flat stock' steel (essentially a flat steel bar) and they then grind on it until the desired shape is met. A forged knife is heated to almost melting point, then pounded and slammed until a rough shape is met. Some grinding is required, however the molecular structure of the steel is "compressed" if you will. To understand this better, take a handful of wet dirt. Shape into something just rubbing it. Do the same with another handful but this time mold the wet dirt into shape. Now tell me which one is better. Finding a forged knife can be expensive and time consuming. I would recommend doing this yourself as I did.
Let's discuss the steels used in blade craft. Stay away from anything marked '440' or '440 stainless.' Let me explain. 440 stainless steel has three grades. Yup! You guessed it, A, B, and C. At the top of this list is 440A while 440C is at the bottom. Any quality Stainless 440 knife will have one of the letter designations. If not, than the knife just looks cool and that's about all it will ever do. If you do find a stainless steel knife that you cant live without, make sure it comes from a reputable name brand. Gerber has some very nice knifes as does Schrade, K-Bar, SOG. But this brings us to the endless debate. Stainless or Carbon Steel?
The debate over carbon steel versus stainless steel will rage forever. So get some information out so you can make an informed purchase. Carbon steel is generally tougher and it will hold a better edge, longer. It also tends to be heavier and depending on the treating process, more brittle. It will also rust and if not cared for, pits form or if neglected long enough, the carbon content will compromised. Resulting in an utterly worthless blade. The most common Carbon steel blends (for knives) in America are 1095, 1085, 1080, 1050, and 1045. These numbers have meaning. The first two numbers are something that escapes me right now but they are less important than the last two digits. The 95 means that  0.95% of the steel carbon. This means that the steel is very hard and also toward the brittle side but will hold a very sharp edge for a long time. 1080 is a little less hard and also less brittle. Its still a good steel and will hold its edge. 1045 is softer still and significantly tougher than 1095. It does not hold its edge very well but will stand some angry abuse. There quite a bit more to this than just carbon content, but this will get you started in selecting your high carbon steel knife. Keep your carbon blade oiled!
Stainless steels are by their very nature 'elastic'. Meaning they will stretch and bend and thus make an ideal steel for bridges. As far as knives go. There are several types and blends of stainless steel on the market today and some of them are very good. We have already covered the 440 range of knives briefly. So, Stainless steel is made by adding magnesium, chromium, copper, and several other types of metals to create a rust resistant steel. Stainless knives tend to be pretty hard and are also hard to sharpen. But remember, stainless is hard but its 'elastic' so it will take the extra chop on the tree. There is also the "high carbon" Stainless knives out now. the best way to explain this is this. Stainless is stainless because the carbon has been reduced and replaced by other hard metals. Because carbon takes a better edge and holds it longer they have developed high carbon stainless. Imagine looking at a closet full of basket balls. Do you see the gaps between balls? That would be the "old" stainless from the 1970s and 1980s. Today that same closet would look like golf balls. The point is that the steels have gotten so good that even the bad stainless will cut. It really comes down to how often you are willing to sharpen your knife. Stainless blades also tend to be hard on your stone. The blends and numbers of stainless steels are vast. So many in fact that we're going to concentrate on the most common. Gerber knives use a blend called 9CRV19MOV which is a very good steel. Basically what this means is that it has a lot of Chrome Vanadium in it. This is a high carbon stainless steel blade that will take a razor edge and hold it for a reasonable length of time of good usage.
If the materials are the heart of the system then the handle would be the right arm. A full tang, one solid piece with a sharp end and [extending the full length of the] handle attached at the other end is the best way, period. The Bear Gryllis knife is a three quarter tang and it seems to work well. I haven't broken it so it must work well.
In my kit I carry one 1095 carbon steel knife and one stainless steel knife. The combination works for most situations I will encounter. Not everyone has the extra cash to spend $1,700 on a hand forged Damascus, hand heat treated, and hand tempered knife. So I will throw a suggestion of what I carry. Aside from the 12 inch fighting knife I got in Pakistan, I carry in my kit a Mora Bushcraft knife. Its 1095 high carbon steel and is probably the best knife that I have. It takes a crazy sharp edge and will hold for a long time. I have shaved my face with this knife. I also carry around a Bear Gryllis ultimate survival knife. It has a 7CRV17MOV stainless steel blade and this will also take crazy sharp edge. I have shaved with this one too. The point here is there is no better knife, carbon or stainless. I prefer carbon steel but find that I use my stainless knife more often. I dread sharpening time though. The Mora knife was about $35. you can get the smaller version that I call the kitchen knife for about $10-15. The Bear Gryllis cost me a whopping $50 and has served me very well in the bush.
Keep your knives sharp. A dull knife is a dangerous knife. Choose well and I hope I cold shed some light on what some call a difficult choice. God bless and long live the Republic!
- M.C. in Arizona 

JWR Replies: To clarify, I agree that 440A is a very good steel for knives and it has several advantages over 440C. For example, it has much higher edge stability (edge holding), and it is more resistant to corrosion. But in "real world" practice, a lot of 440A steel is used to make very inexpensive imported (read: Mainland China) knives that receive pitiful heat treatment, so their performance in actual use is quite poor. Granted, 440C has considerably much more carbon than 440A (1.0%, versus 0.6%, as I recall), so it can take a sharper edge. The tradeoff is lower rust resistance. In looking at the progression of 440A through 440C the edge properties go up, whilst simultaneously the rust resistance properties go down. These issues have been discussed at length over at CutleryScience.com. Some custom knives that cost $500+ are made with 440C. So it is overly simplistic to just say that 440A is "better." It all depends on what is done with the raw material. If the maker is cranking out lots of junk knives with lousy heat treatment, then the original grade of stainless steel is not the key factor.

Dear Editor:
I read with interest Dr. Koelker's description of burn treatment and had two follow-up questions: why is the issue of fluid replacement at the top of the treatment list, and of such critical importance to a burn victim? What causes the fluid loss that can be fatal?A second question: is it necessary to sterilize any water used before preparing the oral rehydration solution she mentions in the article? Thanks for all you do through SurvivalBlog. Peace to you and yours. - G.R. in Texas

Doc Cindy Replies: Fluid replacement is at the top of the list for several reasons:

1.  Fluid loss is what can kill a person the quickest. 
2.  Internal fluid loss is not necessarily apparent, nor is the problem intuitively obvious.
3.  Once kidney damage occurs, it may well be irreversible. 

Other potentially fatal problems set in later.  Lacking gross wound contamination, infection generally takes days to set in.  Hypothermia could occur quickly, but is more easily preventable and is generally reversible.  Burns cause what I usually explain as “internal dehydration.” 
People understand dehydration caused by fluid loss or lack of intake, and burns can certainly cause great fluid loss due to constant seepage from the burn.  Of more danger, however, is leakage of fluid from within the blood vessels of the body.  Significant burns cause release of chemicals which cause blood vessels throughout the entire body to become semi-permeable, much like a soaker-hose.  A large amount of fluid can leak out from the blood vessels (the intravascular space) into the space between cells (the extravascular space).  This fluid remains within the body but not the blood vessels and therefore is not useful for maintaining blood flow or blood pressure.  Without sufficient blood flow, the kidneys fail.
On a mechanical note, we could compare this to a closed system that develops an internal leak of, say, lubricating oil or hydraulic pressure.  The fluid may remain within the closed system, but not within the circulating pipes.  Once the pressure drops too low, the system fails, perhaps permanently.  Both “internal” and “regular” dehydration can progress rapidly without proper fluid replacement.  Once kidney failure sets in, without dialysis it is commonly fatal. 
As for oral rehydration solution, no, this does not need to be sterile, only appropriate for drinking (potable), whether used orally or rectally.  Normally, oral rehydration solution (water + salt + sugar) would NOT be given intravenously nor via hypodermoclysis. 
Todd B., MD comments correctly that it would be difficult to replace fluids completely via hypodermoclysis.  Normally only two sites are used, though perhaps more could be used in a life-threatening emergency.  However, hypodermoclysis does pose an additional problem, that is, the fluid must be absorbed from the extravascular system into the vascular system, and as explained above, the blood vessels become increasingly leaky as time goes on.  This is an additional reason why immediate fluid replacement is so essential. 
In today’s world, we think of a single source for fluid replacement, usually intravenous.  In tomorrow’s world, we need to consider multiple potential sources of fluid replacement:  oral, intravenous, hypodermal, rectal.  A combination of methods would likely be necessary with a significant burn. 
Can a layperson learn to insert and administer an IV?  I’d say the answer is yes, with careful attention to sterile procedure.  The bigger concern, however, is how much fluid to give, and how quickly, a question I’ll address in a future article. - SurvivalBlog Medical Editor Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

Reader Chris M. recommended this fascinating essay by Victor Davis Hanson: Same old warfare?

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"If in doubt, throw it out!" Home Canning Hobby Leads to Near-Fatal Medical Emergency. (Thanks to B.L.W. for the link.)

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Decisions, decisions for New York City Democrats. Gosh, who do you vote for in the upcoming primary election? The "Serial Texter" Pervert for Mayor? Or the "formerly" radical Lesbian? (In 1990, in what is now dubbed "youthful exuberance", Quinn represented the Housing Justice Campaign at one of the annual Socialist Scholars conferences hosted by the Democratic Socialists of America.) Or the Comedian who was endorsed by foul-mouthed Roseanne Barr and also by a former prostitute? Or that Taiwanese guy with the history of campaign finance irregularities? Or the guy who disowned his family name? Or the nice guy from Italy with apparently no skeletons in his closet but also with probably no chance of winning? Meanwhile, should they vote for the "former" prostitution customer for the office of Comptroller? Or that guy with the Corrupt Mommy Problems?

This is all enough to make you want to change parties. But, too bad, too late, since: "New York is one of only nine states in the country... ...that has a party affiliation deadline that is earlier than the voter registration deadline, requiring voters who are already registered who want to switch their party enrollment to do so well before most people are thinking of the primary election or the media is covering it. Moreover, New York is one of only five states that require even those voters who are not currently affiliated with a party to meet these early deadlines. Of these five states, New York has the longest advance deadline, which is twenty-five days before the prior general election, in early October, for both the February presidential primary in presidential election years and the regular September primary in other years."[Emphasis added.] In Wyoming and many other western states, you can change party affiliations right at the polls on election day. In Idaho, it took a recent court order to force people to even declare a party affiliation. But in New York, you are expected to be a psychic and predict all of the future scandals, before the campaigns even begin.)

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Reader F.J. sent: Charge Your Phone While Riding Your Bike

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AlpineAire (recently bought out by Katadyn) has their no-MSG, no-GMO foods currently on sale. Their one year supply of all no-cooking required, freeze dried foods are on sale at Ready Made Resources with free shipping for $4,200. That is a $800 discount.

"It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. " - Calvin Coolidge

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jerry Ahern passed away one year ago, today: July 24th, 2012. He is missed.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I'd like to discuss some planning concerns for when the world really starts to unravel that you might have overlooked:

Quite a few authors write about situations which probably only constitute a partial collapse of society as we know it. Such situations include those where there still exists some semblance of trade or even transportation of some goods. Perhaps some vestige of government is even functioning. What if a disaster happens and we are left with even less than that.

At the risk of being criticized for being too much of a pessimist, I would suggest that a thoughtful prepper should consider planning to survive a really serious collapse of society. (TEOTWAWKI.)

First of all, without the constant assistance of society and a modern economy, most of the people in the world would die; after making a desperate effort to hold onto life  . This is not news to many but some of the ramifications of this might be. The untreated human waste caused by the unprepared  is an obvious problem. Feces carries disease and the lowly fly is a prolific carrier of many these serious diseases. Flies also like carrion and an unburied carcass is a health hazard too .  I am not a biologist but a simple study of the reproduction rate of house flies and a prediction of the biomass available to post-SHTF flies shows a good possibility of clouds of voracious flies settling on any potential food source, at least until the supply of available food drops to support a sustainable number of these pests. Luckily, the fly’s range is limited.  Certain areas may have an increase in the mosquito population and those insects are a vector for other diseases.  I would suggest fly masks for animals, bug suits for all individuals in the group and insecticide as well as plenty of bug screen for your structures, should not be overlooked. I believe fly repellent collars can be purchased for dogs.  Populations of other animals could become a threat as well. There is the already written about concern with packs of feral dogs . Could there be a potential threat to your bee hive(s) ? If you are keeping or sheltering bees to help with your crop pollination and provide honey, they may need to be protected and even fed over a particularly lengthy cold period.  Perhaps you have food storage that could be protected from rodents by a cat. Local animal predators , emboldened perhaps by reduced hunting and more scarce prey , could become a more substantial threat to livestock.  I would suggest that traditional means for dealing with some of these threats should be considered.   Use your judgment and knowledge about your area to discern other potential biological threats to your retreat which may not be obvious to the casual thinker.

Likewise, one sometimes reads how prepper groups might post a member outside the retreat to discourage refugees or potential attackers by acting sick or insane on the approach to the retreat. Won’t this just advertise that a person with these disabilities can somehow survive in this area; this at a time when groups of healthy and sane people are desperately looting anyone and anything they can find just to survive ?  What if your human scarecrow  is captured ? I would submit that hostage taking is an ancient practice that still goes on in much of the world today and care should be taken to avoid , or at least reduce ,this serious threat. 

If you are presented with enemies in a collapse situation, they are likely to be more desperate than most of us can imagine but clever and creative. In a really serious collapse, they are also likely to be ruthless. Without going into extensive detail, a study of raiding in more primitive societies should go a long way to assessing and preparing for  the general threat to any given group at a particular location. The notion that , in a serious collapse situation, simply defeating a raiding party  will stop the threat, even from that group, may be naive. Unless the particular threat to your retreat is seriously degraded, you are likely to have continued conflict from local raiders. When they are repulsed by you, where will they go to regroup ? Proximity to other people in your area must be  factored into your defense plan.  You might consider some flexibility in your defense plan to include some of your neighbors , if that is what your immediate area warrants. With some help they could contribute to the security of your area. In any event, you must deny any  foe a convenient base of operation if not a ready supply of hostages , forced labor or supplies.   For that matter, if you have the means, you might even consider stockpiling a few supplies for some of your neighbors now, or set your food production up to yield a sizeable surplus for this purpose. Relief from fundamental want may  be appreciated by your neighbors and foster cooperation among like- minded people . Necessity will encourage cooperation but a prepared group can not count on having neighbors that are equally ready for a collapse of society. Of course, especially with local interaction ,care must be taken to maintain (and periodically change) your code system and keep the essential aspects of your retreat security confidential. You may even wish to include some deception in the circumstances surrounding your charity and local support so information gained from these interactions is not exploited against you or your group at a later time.   The level of local cooperation you should participate in is a matter that will demand shrewdness and a discerning mind.

The often lamented lack of personal responsibility that exists in our society has not generally helped us select the most talented or principled  leadership. After the crisis passes, it may not be a just and competent leadership that emerges.  Incompetent leadership is nothing new to the human species, but there will be little, if any room for error in these potentially dire circumstances. I would suggest that a simple rule should be followed.. Position yourself so that you are not forced to suffer the consequences of another person’s mistakes. Little reminder need be mentioned about protecting independence. Perhaps a combination of usefulness to the community and strong security may help to protect your individual independence and the independence of your group. Also, if you are a good leader you may be exposed to danger so you might want to consider leadership succession in case something unfortunate happens. Likewise, cross training your group in your available skill sets is wise.

Remember, in a serious collapse you may be faced with an enemy that is altogether willing to accept casualties and the value most of us  now place on human life may quickly evaporate. It bears mentioning that there are large numbers of veterans with combat experience and it is possible that at least a few of them will end up arrayed against you and your group. It is worth noting that a small number of preppers think that stealing private property in these circumstances is only justifiable foraging.  Plan and train accordingly. 

 Spiritual guidance will be particularly helpful in maintaining the right balance of  independence and cooperation. When the crisis subsides, the threats to personal independence and safety may change. Reconstituting society after a catastrophic event will likely contain its own problems and there is no reason to believe evil will not be present then. 

A few survival scenarios entail an extended winter. (Such as nuclear winter, supervolcano eruption, asteroid strike etc. ) These possibilities are particularly challenging . The four horsemen of the apocalypse, war, famine, disease, and pestilence are thought to come together ; one tending to bring the others. This has often been true historically and there is no reason to discount that possibility in a survival situation. A year without summer would cause severe world wide food shortages and a longer cold period would cause extensive famine and conflict in many places in the world. Laying in a supply of food for people and animals to last through such a time is a daunting task.

It is worthy of the effort of anyone who believes that such a calamity  is more than possible.  Along with those items, cold weather gear, snow shoes, skis and sleds, as well as an extended supply of fire wood would be advised.. Such a winter could be worse than anything seen by modern humans and cause a complete break down of human society. It could be so catastrophic that the risk of large scale raiding is reduced because such groups would not be able to keep fighters in the field in such harsh conditions . Some regions have hunters who are well versed in field craft. Snipers are dangerous; take steps to deal with that threat.  Beware of smaller groups that can operate in such adverse conditions and be able to match their ability to move and fight in a frigid environment.

In these conflict situations you have the advantage of being able to prepare your ground. Map out avenues of approach to your defended area and be careful not to ignore anything that could overlook your location or provide an attacker with cover. Deny any potential enemy the use of these tactical  areas , if at all possible.  The advantage of surprise has been sought by armies from the earliest recorded time. Surprising a would be attacker will damage enemy morale. Take steps to reduce a possible marauder numerical advantage. Exhausting and harassing enemy movement is useful if you have the means to accomplish this with some degree of safety. Do not ignore intelligence gathering measures. Take steps to identify friend from foe. Include steps to identify neighbor from foe. You may not be the only self reliant group trying to defend itself in your locality.  If possible, engage would be attackers away from your retreat. You may even need the capability of pursuing a defeated foe to discourage subsequent incursions by the same or a related enemy.  There is no substitute for knowing your area intimately.

Your enemy may need to forage for food and supplies and that is a weakness that can be exploited. You may be able to starve him out of your area or he may have to divide his forces to canvass your area thoroughly and thereby give you the opportunity to defeat parts of his divided force. Traditionally raiders were slowed  when they  weighed themselves down with booty. This presents opportunity for ambush.  Defeat can be a learning  experience so be careful not to try the same tactic twice on a surviving enemy force.  

The best plan would include provision for later in the aftermath of disaster. After the thaw, watch out for the flies.

Dear James:
It occurred to me while training kids on water safety, that some of the most basic elements of surviving everyday life are perhaps neglected by many of us while focusing on worst case scenarios.  We can be so wrapped up in getting through TEOTWAWKI that we neglect first surviving to TEOTWAWKI.

It doesn't do any good to be fully prepped for TEOTWAWKI if you, or a loved one, dies in the meantime from one of the statistically most likely causes of death - namely disease and accidents.

By the numbers, if you are younger an auto accident may be your biggest threat.  If you are older likely a debilitating disease that is dependent to a large extent on your health and wellness lifestyle choices.

To kick off the conversation:
• ROAD SAFETY::   Do you (and your kids) know how to swim well enough to survive an accidental immersion into cold, rough water?
• FIREARMS SAFETY:  Can you (and your kids) recite the 4 rules of firearms safety, backwards and forwards.  Do you insist your shooting buddies keep the same high standard?
• HEALTH:   Is your weight within 10% of ideal?
• Do you refrain from smoking?
• Have you minimized toxic foods in your diet (GMO corn and soy, aspartame, MSG, etc.)  
• Do you pay attention to taking in nutrient dense foods versus empty (or toxic) calories?
• Do you pay attention to keeping  your immune system strong through diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation?

The "bonus" here is that all of these mundane health and safety fundamentals needed to survive likely causes of death  pre-TEOTWAWKI,  would be even more critical post-TEOTWAWKI.

Just like in wars - and likely in many forms of disaster - it's not the actual conflict or disaster that kills but the accidents and disease that result from it.   Historically disease and starvation are bigger killers in wartime than is enemy fire.   In the first Gulf War, there were more US deaths from vehicle accidents than there were to enemy fire.

Regards, - OSOM

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning those important points and keying them to the ground truth of the statistical list of the most likely causes of death. It does indeed make sense to employ an actuarial perspective of the world.

It is noteworthy that "Violence" rates just 0.98% of deaths, but in the event of a widespread disaster, war, or revolt, that figure can quickly jump into double digits. And a similar jump for "Infectious and parasitic diseases" (normally 23.04%) and many other other listed lethal diseases--most notably diarrhea, which is normally 3.15%--in the event of a pandemic. Ditto for "Drowning", which is normally 0.67%, but that risk of course multiplies greatly in a flood or tsunami. (Does everyone in you family know how to swim?) These are a few of the reasons why SurvivalBlog is so popular: Wise people realize that the world around us can change very quickly, and we need to prepare for those events.

In looking at the list of most likely causes of death, which all start with two digits, one digit, or even with just a decimal point, most people skip by pondering the big number at the top, the only one with three digits--the one that reads: 100% (All causes.) To me, that is the truly sobering number. Let's face it: We are all going to die (barring the fulfillment Mark 13:26 in our lifetimes) and the human lifespan is pitifully short compared to that of a Sequoia tree. So to my mind the far larger questions are:

1.) Are you right with Christ, so that you are fully assured of your final destination? (There are just two, Heaven or Hell, where we will spend eternity.)
2.) Are you sharing the Gospel with your children, and others?
3.) What legacy are you passing on to future generations? How will you be remembered? Are you helping to improve the world, or just taking, using and abusing? Are you putting your descendants in a better position to survive, thrive, and live long and happy lives? Are you writing and publishing words and music (or creating art, architecture, films, software, or other lasting legacies) that are helpful, positive, and edifying or that are degenerate?Are you truthful, fair, and forthright in all of your public dealings?
4.) Are you raising children who are content, polite, and helpful, or are they foul-mouthed, grossly pierced, heavily tattooed, addicted, and lost?

I must also note that taking this long view of life can radically reduce your risk of suicide. (Which, according to the stats, is normally 1.53% of deaths.) Just last week I heard about the suicide of an anesthesiologist in the American Redoubt. Although he was an accomplished prepper and he made a very good living, he was not in Christian fellowship and had developed a drinking problem. His experience should be a warning to all of us.

It is not my intent to sound preachy, but that is where I stand. Think about it.

Hello Mr. Rawles:
I expect you have already heard about this problem, but the black Berkey water filters have an alarmingly high failure rate (in my personal experience, for what it's worth, 4 out of 4).  The silicone caulk that attaches the black ceramic-like filter itself to it's plastic base fails, and water runs right through the failure spot, without being passed through the filter material.  People could be unknowingly drinking unfiltered water, as I was.  I read online that adding red food coloring is one way to test the integrity of the filter unit, I do not know if this is true.  Thank you, as always, for everything you do, I have received so very much from you. - Carol D.

JWR Replies: Sending them back to the company under warranty for a free replacement works. (At least it does now--a couple of years ago, they just mailed you back identical filters that also failed.) But I learned that there is also a practical way to fix them yourself.

Dear JWR,
I find your blog and its associated advertisers very useful.  In considering buying some land and a small cabin in northern Wisconsin as a back up retreat in case of societal collapse and my question involves its location.  The site can be converted to an off-the-grid living situation easily enough.  It is near the local town so associating with others for mutual assistance is a very good possibility. But it is also near the local rural airport and I'm wondering if in your opinion this increases the possibility of interference by others and by how much?  Perhaps you can comment. I'm weighing the pros and cons of these circumstances. Thank you. Tom H.

JWR Replies: In my estimation living near small local airport is not a risk, unless your property is truly contiguous to the airport's perimeter fence. If that is the case, that could put you in contact with Federal authorities.

Unlike railroad tracks--which create a likely line of drift for looters and refugees--in the event of TEOTWAWKI I anticipate that airports will only attract a few folks looking to pilfer fuel or to steal tools.  And once it is clear that there is no longer anything of immediate value there will be few who come to a small airport. Perhaps just a few folks looking for scrap metal.

I recently noticed your recent comparison of Jackson County, Florida, with Lewis, County, Idaho, and the follow-ups posts. I hope I can add some additional information since I attended high school in the county and have many relatives living there. Just as a point of reference my mid-1970s High school graduating class had less than 60 people and only five of them attended and graduated college. I know of only one of those people who still lives there. Youth tend to move away if they can.

As poster Kathi indicated, the county is rather closed to outsiders. The only town of any size is Marianna, with the usual array of Wal-Mart and related-tier stores. The county is bisected E/W with I-10 and N/S by US-231. The closest towns of any size are Dothan, Alabama and Tallahassee, Florida, both about an hour away. She is correct that the only major employers are prisons (state and federal) and the local hospital. There is also Sunland, a developmental disabilities resident facility. EMS response time to most parts of the county are in the 10-20 minute range. Much of the county is still crisscrossed by dirt roads (mainly sand.) The smaller roads were not named [and marked] until the early-1990s when E-911 service was introduced. Cell phone service is rather spotty with frequent dropped calls. Sometimes if you are on the east side of the county, your cell phone will often link with the system from Gadsden county which is in the Eastern time zone, which makes for some interesting double-takes!

If you are an individual with skills, establishing a customer base will be difficult. Most work is done based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The population is generally aging or retired and wary of 'newcomers'. There is little professional employment with most of it occupied by locals that are in a family business (legal, medical, etc.) There is little entertainment available in the county. Hunting and fishing are major outdoor activities; the county is adjacent to Lake Seminole, know for bass fishing. Also the eastern border of the county is the Apalachicola River, which runs from the Jim Woodruff Dam to the Gulf of Mexico.

Anyone considering moving to this area should perform significant due diligence prior to making a move. - J.D.

An interesting novel has just been released that includes some outdoor survival and tactics tidbits: Marine One Down! (It is available in paperback and quite inexpensively for Kindle and Nook readers.)

   o o o

The folks at KnifeUp have created an updated reference web page on state knife possession and carry laws for the US. This data was researched in 2013, so it is current. But of course it is wise to check your state's legal web page. Their web site also has some useful product reviews.

   o o o

In the midst of America's acute ammo shortage, the UK's press is moaning that their Ministry of Defence (MOD) has too much Radway Green 5.56mm ammo. The Daily Mail journalist who wrote this piece sounds convinced that this ammo will spoil like last week's bananas. (But in fact, it should still properly ventilate bad guys quite satisfactorily in the year 2050 or even 2100.) My solution: Just declare it surplus and send it on over!

   o o o

Never bring a toy gun to a gun fight.

   o o o

Jay in Missouri recommended some commentary by Libertarian science fiction novelist (and shooting instructor) Larry Correia: On Profiling and Stand Your Ground

"I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men’s rights." - Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I live on a small ranch in Northern Alberta, Canada. I'm approximately a half hour drive to the nearest small town, and the winters here can be tremendous. I've always taken a slightly different approach to preps than most of my American counter parts, because most energy, food, shelter, water and defense advice floating around the Internet is not cold weather viable. In this short paper I will attempt to relay to you, the reader, the importance of being ready for winter in all aspects of survival. This is a short collection of some thoughts and experiences I've had living through Northern Canada winters.

1) Heat is what you need in the winter. 'Of course!' you say. It's hard to emphasis the priority having heat takes when it is -40 (Celsius or Fahrenheit it doesn't matter). Food, shelter, water, medicine, and defense all rely on having enough heat. You can't clean with, or drink, water that is frozen. Even eating snow is not recommended because of the energy your body must use to heat the frozen water. You can't eat meat that is frozen solid. You can't live in uninsulated flimsy structures not designed to handle the weight of snow, or the extreme life-sucking cold. You can't stay in a LP/OP for very long without heat. It is harder to fight with a rifle when you cannot feel your hands or they ache intensely from being frozen. Everything takes a back seat to keeping you and your families body temperature at the correct level. You will find that all aspects of surviving a winter are ultimately steps towards providing enough heat to live. I think most preppers agree a good wood stove and a way to efficiently obtain dry fire wood in the winter is a must. A Ski Doo (snowmobile), a sled for hauling, a good chainsaw, extra chains, oils, parts, fuels, tools etc are all requisites as well as the ability to differentiate dead standing wood (the dry stuff) with live trees that are simply dormant for the winter (not dry stuff) and transport it back home. Have multiple methods of heating the indoors.

2) Food is akin to warmth. Your body will automatically try to keep warm if it detects colder temperatures, burning extra calories. You will find that in order to maintain a healthy mind and body, you will need to start a supplement regime through the coldest winter months, when there is little to no fresh vegetables or fruits, and mainly a diet of preserves and game. Canned goods that become frozen may go bad, or the container may rupture. Unless you have an extensive organic garden that provides a winter's worth of preserves each summer, you will most likely end up eating some GMO canned products. Hunting changes with the coming of snow. Deep snow can become a serious problem for most hunters as mobility in four to five feet of snow without snow shoes or a skidoo is minimal and exhausting. For game you will mostly find mammals such as coyotes, deer, elk, etc. All can be taxing to move or prepare in deep snow. Ice fishing requires an ice auger, and multiple lines in multiple holes to really be successful.

3) Water is relatively easy to find. See that white stuff? Yup. Water. It needs heat. For every shovel full of snow you melt, you will get approximately 1/3 that volume in water. Start shoveling! If you have a good well, the water will remain liquid until it is exposed at ground level. If you heat water then put it outside it will freeze even faster, so don't do your animals a favour. All lakes, ponds, and rivers will freeze over and become hidden under snow, so you need a water source.

4) Shelter is a means of efficient heat. It contains the heat from your stove for a longer time. It keeps the wind off you, which can make the cold multitudes worse. It is a place to prepare food, practice good hygiene, and spend time with friends and family, safe from the hostile environment outside. Temporary shelters such as igloos can work if one is skilled enough and snow conditions allow snow to be packed together. This is not always possible in extreme cold. An alternative is using layered pine tree branches in a sturdy lean-to design, with a fire in front projecting heat. Note that you must dig down through the frozen snow before starting a fire for obvious reasons. Be creative. Keep the wind off your skin. Contain the heat safely. Find a way to dry your clothes and skin off while in shelter. Your shelter needs to handle huge amounts of snow weight, and will still need to be cleared. If you own a house you must shovel your roofs off if too much snow builds up on it, or it may collapse or deform, and leak.

5) While I have never been in a gun fight in the middle of winter, there are some common sense things that everyone needs to take into consideration. Cold hands are the least of your worries! We are all taught to 'get off the X', but this becomes problematic in a situation where you may have to run through a foot or more of snow. Its slippery, heavy, and you don't know what you're stepping on under that snow. If it gets a little deeper you simply cannot run, much less retain a sight picture of your firearm. Sinking into a snow bank up to your waist while someone is trying to kill you is probably not a good thing. Going prone may save you, but its a gamble if you'll land softly on the snow and ready to fight, or end up swimming in the snow looking for your buried firearms (which may or may not function after being packed with snow). You will be wet and cold when you stand up again.  The first nations had a proper solution to this. Snow shoes are life savers. I recommend rifle drills where you practice positional shooting with snow shoes as well as getting off the X. Go on winter hikes through a forest area with the shoes on. Skis become problematic due to the length especially if you are in a thick tangle of branches. Cold weather will affect the ballistics of your rifles tremendously. Canadian Rangers still use the Lee-Enfield which is a .30 caliber bolt action rifle, because the AR-15 platform simply does not perform in the super cold climate. It tends to have problems with its gas impingement system and the arctic climate and dense air causes the small .223 round to lose stability much much quicker. Also a bolt action with iron sights is much more likely to function even after being jammed full of ice and snow and moisture. M1As, AKs and VZ58s will all work very well in the extreme cold, provided that you keep your actions clear [and de-lubricated].  Winter is a completely different beast. Everyone can see your footprints in the snow, and tell how long ago you were there. You need a whole new set of winter camo's and gear such as no-fog goggles and proper gloves, boots, and balaclavas.  What will you do if someone blocks the road off in front of you? Your vehicle cant go through the snow in the ditches. If your vehicle is disabled you are put into an immediate heat-shelter survival situation on the side of the road, and you could be wounded as well.  If someone comes into your house in the middle of the night, and you decide to run... will you make it till morning at -40 degrees? A huge truck full of cut firewood would be a target in a winter TEOTWAWKI situation. Snow banks need at least a few feet of width to stop most rifle rounds. The snow will reflect moon light making night time bright as day (almost!) and if you put snow in your mouth it will stop people from seeing your breath. Batteries for night vision devices and red dot sights will die quicker. If you bury a weapon cache in the ground during summer months, that same ground will be hard as a rock and full of ice during the winter. That is... after you find it and shovel all the snow off it first! When the spring comes and all that snow melts guess where that water will go? Yup. Right down into the hole you dug for your end-of-the-world rifle.

Study the Eastern Front of the Second World War and the hardships many soldiers went through during those winters.

Think outside the box. Last winter I stayed in a trappers tent with a wood stove. To handle the weight of the snow on the tent, I drove fence posts in beside the tent and tied all of the supports to the fencing post, and after that I threw a double layer tarp over the entire tent. The result was an outer layer of tarp with a approximately a foot of space between it and the inner tent. This space acted as an insulator for inside. The outer tarp, which was always frozen, would dehumidify the air by building up frost on the inside. I stayed comfortable and warm in a 12' x 20' tent during a deep Canadian North winter. It was dry, so I was able to safely use my laptop and some lights inside. I would not recommend storing electronics in a winter tent such as this because it will collect frost, and when that frost melts and electricity is applied... you may has well have thrown it in a lake. I had to run my stove constantly. Cutting firewood and hauling it on a shoveled drive way with my quad was a huge calorie burn. That's on a day when my quad would start easy. I will be purchasing a good working skidoo this fall, as well as storing several containers of stabilized gasoline.

I wanted offer some praise to J.J.S. and is thorough submission titled Heating with Wood 101. I'm following his lead and wanted to offer your readers some additional ideas on wood processing with some stealth after TSHTF. Running a 50cc chainsaw and a 34-ton log splitter is all fine and dandy when there's no one around meaning to do you any harm but its completely inappropriate in a TEOTWAWKI situation. If you are lucky enough to have a renewable energy source its advisable to switch to electrical tools because they are so quiet. Either of the big box stores carry electric chainsaws and electric, 5-ton log splitters at reasonable prices. I've also found that they have a semi-professional grade chain sharpener that'll make the teeth on your chain look like a mirror when sharpened. While the 5 ton splitter isn't going to split 3 foot diameter pine trees like a gas one will, it will go through the same wood once you quarter it with a maul. Just add a bit of oil to the maul on the splitter and it'll do just fine. Here are quick links to the three products I recommend:

Regards, - Gilpin Guy

JWR Replies: I appreciate your advice, but the brands that you mentioned are mostly made in mainland China. (See my many admonitions about China's laogui prison factories.)

The WORX brand tools and their batteries are all made in China. One alternative: I have a Makita 14-inch electric chain saw, and I've been quite happy with it. To the best of my knowledge, those are still made in Japan.

The Task Force brand tools (a house brand of Lowe's) are also imported. Many of those come from China. An American-made alternative that is more powerful (16-tons of force) is produced by Ramsplitter. As electric splitters go, these are fast and powerful. Another American-made electric splitter is the 10-ton dual-action splitter made by DR. Unlike a typical gas engine splitter, most electric splitters cannot be heard from more than a short distance away.

The Buffalo Tools brand products are made in China. An excellent American-made alternative is made by Silvey. Unlike the cheap imported chain grinders, these cut a precision square notch.

Mr. Rawles,

I always read your site with interest, especially the medical advice that is written by Dr. Koelker and others, as this is my area of expertise.

Dr. Koelker's article regarding burn care made very brief mention of a technique called hypodermoclysis as an alternative method for intravenous infusion of fluids in the event of a severe burn. Essentially, hypodermoclysis involves using a regular IV catheter to infuse fluids into the patient's subcutaneous tissue. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be a replacement for IV fluids in the case she uses as an example. It appears that the maximum amount of fluids that can be infused over a 24-hour period is about 3,000 mL, using two sites, which would fall short of her fluid replacement calculations using the Parkland formula.

I think in combination with oral rehydration therapy in a conscious patient, hypodermoclysis would be a valid option to assist in maintaining fluid balance in a burn patient, but would not otherwise be sufficient to keep a burn patient hydrated.

Additionally, in a TEOTWAWKI situation with limited resources, knowing when to provide "comfort care" versus aggressive fluid resuscitation might be useful. Although there are newer guidelines with regards to burn survivability, they probably only apply to burn centers. Once upon a time, the age of the patient + the % area of burned skin = the patient's chance of dying. A revision adds an additional 17% chance of death if the patient's burn includes an inhalation injury.

For further reading:

  • Hypodermoclysis: An Alternative Infusion Technique. Am Fam Physician. 2001 Nov 1;64(9):1575-1579.
  • Simplified Estimates of the Probability of Death After Burn Injuries: Extending and Updating the Baux Score. J Trauma. 2010 Mar;68(3):690-7

- Todd B., MD

There has recently been some discussion in the blogosphere of Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws. To clarify: All but one of the five American Redoubt states currently have solid Castle Doctrine (right to defend your habitation) laws on the books. These include strong protections of the rights of homeowners and house renters in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. There is also a modified form of the Castle Doctrine in force in Washington as well as a location nonspecific Stand Your Ground law. But Oregon's law is presently ambiguous. Their "duty to retreat" law enacted in 1971 was partly overturned by a state supreme court decision in 2007. There is an active movement to improve Oregon's law, but a recent ballot measure on this failed in 2012. The long term prospects for passage of a Castle Doctrine law in Oregon are good, given the preponderance of states that now have such laws.

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Are you an experienced machinist? Then there is probably a job for you in the Redoubt! In Idaho, labor shortage hurts gun industry. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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Some disappointing news: Idaho Cooperates with Homeland Security on National ID

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Montana Anti-Location Spying Bill Becomes Law With Governor Signature. The editor of the Lightning War For Liberty blog noted that this bill was passed in April--several months before Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations.

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The American Redoubt influx continues! Pastor Chuck Baldwin (up in Missoula, Montana) reported in his latest e-newsletter: "Once again, last Sunday, we had visitors with us from at least 7 or 8 states. The Sunday before that, the number was 10-12. And many of these folks are trying to make arrangements to move to the valley to be part of Liberty Fellowship."

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Reader G.J. suggested a Red State Talk podcast show called The Uncooperative Radio Show with Brian and Susan Bonner, in Montana. G.J. summarized: "Brian Bonner is a paramedic originally from New York who was once pro-union but who is now a Constitutionalist who is interested in self-sufficient living."

Camping Survival 23% off sale on all Backpackers Pantry Freeze Dried Foods ends on July 28th, so order soon.

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Mike Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large) wrote to mention: "Due to publishing deadlines, my novel Freehold originally came out only in paperback.  A decade later, there is finally a signed, limited edition hardcover scheduled. Anyone interested should place a pre-order as soon as they can, since this will be a one-time press run."

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Max is back! It appears that Mad Max: Fury Road is now in post-production and will be released in the summer of 2014. Those of us who enjoyed The Road Warrior are anxiously awaiting the release.

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Cheryl N. Mentioned a new secure Internet communications system: RetroShare.

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The leftist mass media can't Trayvon this one: Cleveland man shoots intruder holding fiancée at gunpoint; Resident applauded by councilman.

A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is it such a bad thing?
A: Top-posting.
Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?

- SurvivalBlog Reader L.R.S.

Monday, July 22, 2013

You may have heard about the BHO administration regime's expanded “Insider Threat Program," which amplifies Executive Order 13587, published back in 2011. After a brief flurry of media attention earlier this month, this has been thoroughly soft-pedaled. ("Nothing to see here, move along.") But these new policies have been laid down and the penalties for noncompliance have been established. Without an act of Congress, these policies are now effective. Rather than re-hash the details, I will quote the first part of a well-written McClatchy News Service article:

"In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.

Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

Over the years, numerous studies of public and private workers who’ve been caught spying, leaking classified information, stealing corporate secrets or engaging in sabotage have identified psychological profiles that could offer clues to possible threats. Administration officials want government workers trained to look for such indicators and report them so the next violation can be stopped before it happens.

“In past espionage cases, we find people saw things that may have helped identify a spy, but never reported it,” said Gene Barlow, a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, which oversees government efforts to detect threats like spies and computer hackers and is helping implement the Insider Threat Program. “That is why the awareness effort of the program is to teach people not only what types of activity to report, but how to report it and why it is so important to report it.”

But even the government’s top scientific advisers have questioned these techniques. Those experts say that trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations.

“There is no consensus in the relevant scientific community nor on the committee regarding whether any behavioral surveillance or physiological monitoring techniques are ready for use at all,” concluded a 2008 National Research Council report on detecting terrorists.

“Doing something similar about predicting future leakers seems even more speculative,” Stephen Fienberg, a professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a member of the committee that wrote the report, told McClatchy.

The emphasis on individual lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors comes at a time when growing numbers of Americans must submit to extensive background checks, polygraph tests and security investigations to be hired or to keep government or federal contracting jobs. The U.S. government is one of the world’s largest employers, overseeing an ever-expanding ocean of information.

While the Insider Threat Program mandates that the nearly 5 million federal workers and contractors with clearances undergo training in recognizing suspicious behavior indicators, it allows individual departments and agencies to extend the requirement to their entire workforces, something the Army already has done.

Training should address “current and potential threats in the work and personal environment” and focus on “the importance of detecting potential insider threats by cleared employees and reporting suspected activity to insider threat personnel and other designated officials,” says one of the documents obtained by McClatchy..."

This employee snitch policy for the Federal government is intent on making all government employees spy upon one another, like loyal communist East Germans before 1989. Das ist die neu Stasi. Failure to report someone suspicious is now grounds for termination or for release from a contract. And we aren't just talking about people who are read-on for SCI here. We are talking about all Federal employees.

With this new policy, the byword appears to have been changed to: "If you see something, say something, or else!"

It is important to note that "Misprison of a Serious Offense" has been included in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for many years. Article 134 (the "catch all" general article, that comes right after "conduct unbecoming an officer") says in part that if a sworn member of the U.S. armed forces knows of the commission of a serious crime and fails to report it, then they themselves may be held criminally liable. But it is grossly over-reaching to institute a similar policy without consent of congress, upon GS-series employees and outside contractors who are not sworn defenders of the nation, and who did not consent to this level of intrusiveness as a precondition of their employment. I predict that this policy will not survive judicial scrutiny.

Now all of this is not to say that someone in a position of "special trust and confidence" shouldn't beware of suspicious contacts by foreigners. (And FWIW, I had my own brush with this, when I was read on for SCI, and I reported it, just as I had been instructed.) But this new policy is downright paranoid, and is more about CYA for Team Obama than it is about protecting classified information from genuine hostile intelligence threats. I should also mention that I believe that Edward Snowden's initial revelations about PRISM and Upstream was justified for the public interest, although he should have refrained from releasing SCI codeword acronyms, in the process. (The code words themselves are classified. Publishing them was not necessary, since they could have easily been redacted.)

By setting this standard, President Bolt Hold Open is now effectively militarizing the entire Federal Government, by absurdly setting the bar at the Article 134 level for every employee. Think about it. This means: Every IRS paper pusher. Every USDA soil tester. Every Corps of Engineers bulldozer driver. Every Peace Corps volunteer. Every Forest Service contract tree planter. Every janitor in a Federal building. This all fits with BHO's unremitting push toward statism--toward the goal of placing the national government in the rightful sphere recognized as belonging to God: omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. George Orwell only had a glimpse of what was to come.

The mere knowledge of the commission of a crime cannot be considered a crime in and of itself. (The rarely used Federal statute on Misprision of a Felony, codified in 1910, only includes actively concealing a felony, not just mere knowledge.) But BHO & Company has effectively expanded the Article 134 level of scrutiny from sworn members of the armed forces to now include all Federal employees and contractors. The news stories make reference to "criminal charges" for Federal employees who fail to report suspicious behavior. But since the Executive branch cannot write laws--only enforce them--how could they create a new category of law that has criminal penalties? The short answer is: They can't. But by cleverly mixing fact and hyperbole in their public statements, they are apparently hoping to buffalo their employees into becoming informants. But the fact is, unless the law changes--and only Congress can do that--then the only Federal employees who can be charged with misprision for anything other than actively concealing a felony are those who are under the jurisdiction of the UCMJ. (Parenthetically, in 2007 civilian contractors who work in combat zones were quietly added to UCMJ jurisdiction, by an act of Congress.)

How long will it be until they try to force this on the entire citizenry? Or are they just hoping to entice us into informing on our neighbors, making us all supergrassers? Since they are all already encouraging the citizenry with the glib: "If you see something, say something" line, then I suspect that it probably won't be very long. And if they make not snitching a crime for everyone, then they'll have to build a lot of new prisons. (They could be called misprison prisons.) And they'll need huge warehouses with miles of file folder shelves and huge server farms for all of the reports from their informants and digital recordings of conversations.

We are living in perilous times. BHO and Eric Holder would probably love to see our society go Full Stasi. Don't let them succeed.

As I've summarized before: We are living in the age of deception and betrayal. Beware. Be politically active. Let your congresscritters feel the heat, so that they will see the light. Be vocal, but do so about the right things. Pray for the wisdom and discernment to know when to remain silent. Don't become a tool of the statists. - J.W.R.

How large must a burn be to kill you?  How is a burn fatal anyway?  Is there anything you can do to improve your odds?
Lacking an emergency response system, you’ll be on your own if you cook yourself on a heating pad, or catch your clothes on fire, or spill hot coffee down your pants while driving.  What would now be referred to a burn unit for specialized care may require home treatment when it’s the only option.
Without skin, you die.  The danger of burns is related to the function of the skin.  Normally the skin “keeps the insides in and the outside out.”  Skin protects against invading microorganisms which may cause infection.  It helps regulate the body temperature by preventing heat loss.  Skin acts as a barrier preventing excess water loss from the body.   

Death may occur related to interruption of any of these functions.  Dehydration, hypothermia, and/or infection are all potentially lethal.     

Skin burns are the most common type of thermal injury, and the most common burn for which patients seek treatment.  (Inhalation burns will not be addressed here.)  Most first-degree burns are treated at home, and cause only discomfort and reddening of the skin, but no blisters or significant fluid loss.  Third-degree burns are fortunately uncommon.  It is the second-degree burns which pose the greatest danger.  These burns cause blistering, pain, and fluid loss as the top layers of the skin are disrupted, exposing the tender inner layers to the outside environment.  Deeper, third-degree burns destroy the nerve endings as well, and scorch the skin into an unfeeling, leathery crust.  These deep burns are often surrounded by a zone of painful blistered second-degree burns.

As with all avoidable injures, at TEOTWAWKI , prevention is essential.  Will you allow your children to play in the kitchen while you’re boiling water?  Are you crazy enough to pour gasoline on a fire?  Is it necessary to open a hot radiator while it’s still steaming?  The great majority of the burns that I’ve seen were preventable:
Don’t lean on your curling iron as you apply make-up
Don’t wear shorts riding a motorcycle with a hot exhaust
Don’t set your water heater just below boiling
Don’t fall asleep on a heating pad
Don’t smoke in bed
Don’t let your toddler turn on the hot water
Don’t drink steaming hot coffee while driving
Don’t leave the stove on unattended
Don’t wear loose clothing around an open fire
Prevention is 90% – maybe 99% – of the battle.  Put some thought into how you might live differently if no fire truck is coming – not ever. 
Regarding treatment, the first rule of burn treatment is to protect yourself then STOP THE BURNING.  Cool the burned area with lukewarm water.  Remove clothing from the burned area.  Have the patient lie down if possible, especially if dizzy or light-headed.  Once the burned area is cooled off, heat loss will begin, so warm the patient with blankets or extra clothing.

Now for saving a life
:  if adequate fluids are not given in the first 24 hours, the kidneys may shut down permanently, resulting in death.  You must estimate the extent of the burn and calculate needed fluids accordingly.  The Rule of Nines is used to estimate the total body surface area (TBSA) damaged by second- and third-degree burns.  In an adult, the body is divided as follows:
9% for the head
9% for each arm
18% for each leg
18% for front of trunk (chest plus abdomen)
18% for back of trunk
1% for genitalia
For smaller or scattered areas, the size of the patient’s palm including fingers is considered 1%. 

A burn of 10 to 15% of the body can be life-threatening.  Death occurs early on from fluid loss causing renal failure.  Normally these patients are referred to a burn center.  IF YOU DON’T REPLACE LOST FLUIDS ON DAY ONE THE PATIENT WILL DIE. 

The Parkland Formula estimates the amount of fluids required in the first 24 hours:
4 ml x patient weight in kg x % body surface area burned
(Or approximately 1.8 ml x patient weight in pounds x % body surface area burned)
Half the fluid is given in the first 8 hours immediately after the burn, and the second half given over the next 16 hours.
For example, a 150-pound man who has burned his chest and shoulders after opening a steaming radiator may well have 18% of his body surface area involved with 2nd and 3rd degree burns.  Using the above formula, he will require nearly 5 liters of fluid in the first 24 hours (1.8 ml x 150 pounds x 18% = 4,860 ml).  That’s 5 large bags of IV solution (Ringer’s Lactate is preferred). 
Normally fluids are given intravenously.  The first half of the fluids (2.5 liters, in this case) must be given in the first 8 hours after the burn, not after treatment begins.  If it’s already been 4 hours, then this amount must be given over the next 4 hours, not 8 (divided out per hour and per minute), and the second half given over the next 16 hours.  A nurse, EMT, or physician could accomplish this.  I know this is technical, but it’s only middle-school math.
What if you can’t provide an IV?  If the patient is sufficiently alert, oral fluids are the best option (Gatorade or Oral Rehydration Solution).  However burns are painful and patients often require sedation.  Then what?
If you have the IV fluids, they may be administered rectally (similar to an enema) or via hypodermoclysis (a needle placed under the skin, not in a vein – various protocols are available online). 

What if you don’t have IV fluids on hand?  If the patient cannot take fluids orally, then Oral Rehydration Solution given rectally is probably the best option.  The recipe for this is:
6 level teaspoons of sugar
½ level teaspoon of table salt
1 liter of water (5 cups)
It should be given at approximately the same rate as an IV would be given, but taking into account any fluid which leaks out.   
On subsequent days fluids should be given in the amount needed to balance that which is lost, by measuring urine output as well as by daily weights.  Enough fluid must be given to prevent weight loss and to keep urine output above 20–30 ml/hour.  That’s only a few teaspoons per hour.  Less than this and the kidneys shut down.  In an average adult, this equals at least 1.5 to 2 liters daily, and could well be more in a burn patient.

Again, don’t forget to keep the patient warm
.  Since the patient may not be able to tell you he’s cold, measure their temperature periodically.  Aim to maintain body temperature in the normal range of 98–100o F.  The likelihood of death increases as body temperature drops below approximately 90 degrees F.

The next enemy is infection
.  Thorough cleaning of the injured area is essential.  Any embedded dirt or foreign material such as scorched fabric must be removed.  Clean, soapy water is sufficient in most cases.  Vaseline may be applied gently to remove grease or tar.  A gentle water pik or baby hair brush may help. 
Systemic antibiotics (pills, shots, IVs) are not generally given unless signs of infection occur.  However, topical antibiotics such as Bacitracin and Silvadene can help prevent infection.  Topical honey has also been shown to improve burn healing and prevent infection.
Signs of infection include increasing redness, pus, fever, or overall deterioration of the patient’s condition.  Pus must not be confused with eschar, the white or yellowish-white membrane that forms to cover a burn, much like a soft scab.  In general, this soft eschar is preferable to hard eschar (like a hard scab), which may compromise circulation and impair healing. 

If infection is suspected, nowadays a culture would be taken and the bacteria identified.  Lacking that option, a broad-spectrum antibiotic should be given, such as Augmentin, cephalexin, or possibly erythromycin.  If these are ineffective after a few days of treatment, a resistant organism or gram-negative bacteria may be present, and the patient should be switched to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, or similar drug.  If the infection enters the blood stream, it may cause sepsis, heart valve infection, or other fatal outcome.

Aside from potentially fatal problems, pain is a major concern with serious burns, and often requires narcotics and/or sedation.  Even exposing a burn to air may increase pain, so keeping wounds covered is essential not only for preventing infection, but also for comfort.  Your supply of narcotics and sedatives could easily be consumed with a single burn patient.  Over-the-counter sedating antihistamines (diphenhydramine, doxylamine) may be useful, but alcohol should be avoided unless the situation is hopeless, in which case easing a patient’s discomfort with any means available is reasonable. 

The current treatment of burns using early debridement and skin grafting is probably not a realistic goal without a team of medical providers. 
ReCell (spray-on skin) is a new technology that appears promising even for TEOTWAWKI.  Unfortunately it is not yet available in the US.  Perhaps the concept could be applied to grid-down medicine. 

About the Author: Dr. Cynthia Koelker serves as Medical Editor for SurvivalBlog, and hosts the survival medicine web site www.armageddonmedicine.net. She is the author of the book Armageddon Medicine and is the chief instructor for the Survival Medicine Workshops. Burn injuries are just one of numerous topics covered in her Survival Medicine Workshops. 

No mistake about it! The .45ACP is still one of America's favorite cartridges, and there are many different handgun platforms that shoot this popular round, and for good reason, it is a proven man stopper. I recently reviewed the Ruger SR1911C hand, and I love the 1911 platform, however, it is not the only one that catches my attention these days. One problem I run across with .45 ACP handguns that carry a lot of rounds is that, they are too fat for my hand and trigger reach is a bit of a stretch for me - which means I can't properly grip the pistol the way I want to.
Several years ago, Sturm, Ruger and Co., Inc. came out with their first striker-fired handguns, the SR9 and it was an immediate hit. Only problem was, there were a few glitches with the first ones. Ruger was very fast in issuing a recall, and made some upgrades to the SR9 and there have been no other problems. I had one of the first SR9 samples and I sent mine in and it was returned in less than two weeks. Ruger is to be applauded for doing the right thing - and doing it fast! However, the SR was "only" a 9mm and people wanted more - so Ruger came out with the SR40 - another great step, because it was in .40S&W caliber. But handgunners still were satisfied - they wanted an SR in .45 ACP and Ruger listened! I received the SR45 several months ago for testing and it is an outstanding pistol in all respects.
Let's get the boring stuff out of the way, the SR45 is a full-sized service pistol, not a small concealed carry piece, although I've carried my sample undetected under light clothing - amazing what the right holster and cover garment can do. My SR45 sample has the stainless steel slide - and another model has a blackened alloy slide. I prefer the stainless slide because of the wet climate I live in, in Western Oregon. The frame is manufactured out of black, high performance, glass-filled Nylon, and is finely checkered for a good grip. The barrel is 4.50-inches long. Height is 5.75-inches and the gun weighs-in at slightly over 30-ounces empty with a 10 round magazine - and you get two with each gun. However, my sample was shipped with only one mag, and I contacted the Ruger Customer Service Department and a second mag was shipped right out to me. (Ruger has some of the best customer service staff around.) The overall length of the SR45 is 8-inches, and width is 1.27-inches. I compared the SR45 to a full-sized 1911 and a Commander-sized 1911 and it is closer in size to the Commander-sized 1911s. Three dot adjustable front/rear sights adorn the slide and they are fast to pick-up and pretty much snag-free, too. Sights were dead on for my shooting and needed no adjustments. There is also a Picatinny rail under the dust cover, for attaching lights or lasers to the SR45.
The SR45 has a massive extractor, and there is a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide, so you can tell if there is a round in the chamber. An ambidextrous safety lever is there, and the trigger has a little safety lever in the face. The magazine release is also ambidextrous as well - nice touch. Additionally, the checkered rubber backstrap can be reversed from the arched to the flat side - I changed mine to the flat side and it only takes a minute to do, simply push out the retaining pin, slide the backstrap off and reverse it and slide it back on and replace the retaining pin. The front sides of the grip frame are also dishes out, making it easier to get a proper grip on the SR45 - again, super-nice touch, Ruger!
I was fortunate in that, during this great ammo drought, I still had a good selection of various .45ACP loads on-hand, from Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Black Hills Ammunition for testing in the SR45. Still, I was a bit conservative with my ammo supply, as getting resupplied these days is tough - even for gun writers - ammo companies are making ammo as fast as they can, but they still can't keep up with supply and demand. In many of my gun articles, I fire at least 500 rounds, and in some tests, I've fired more than a thousand rounds, however, for the time being, those days are over, until I can get a steady ammo supply coming in to replace the ammo I shoot-up in my articles. Still, I had a great selection of ammo on-hand for testing over several months and I fired-up more than 300 rounds in my testing - I wanted to give this SR45 a good work out.
From Black Hills, I had their outstanding, and almost match-grade 230-grain FMJ load, and this one has always been a fine performer for me. I also had their steel-cased 230-grain FMJ load. In the 185-grain bullet weight, I had their JHP brass-cased and steel-cased ammo. And, my favorite Black Hills .45 ACP load is their 185-grain Barnes all-copper hollow point, TAC-XP +P load. From Buffalo Bore, I had a wide assortment of .45ACP to run through the SR45. I had their brand-new 160-grain Barnes all-copper hollow point, TAC-XP low recoil, standard pressure load, their 185-grain FMJ FN low-recoil, standard pressure load. The 185-grain Barnes all-copper TAC-XP +P load - I like this one - a lot! A 200-grain JHP +P load, and this is fast becoming my favorite .45 ACP loading from Buffalo Bore. Their 230-grain FMJ FN +P load and their outstanding 255-grain Hard Cast +P load. So, as you can see, I had a wide assortment of .45 ACP ammo to test in my sample SR45.
First thing I noticed with the SR45 is how crisp the trigger pull was, and how short the pull was. And unlike the very first SR9 samples, there was no grittiness at all in the trigger pull - great job, Ruger! Accuracy - everyone wants to know about accuracy! First of all, I look at "combat" accuracy - this means, will a handgun, at least a full-sized service-style handgun, hold 5-rounds inside of 4-inches at 25-yards. The SR45 easily did this and better. All my accuracy testing was conducted at 25-yards, over the hood of my SUV with a padded rest. I will say, I was very surprised at how accurate the SR45 was - and it was consistently accurate with all loads. I could easily contain most of my 5 round groups in 3-inches if I did my part, on my various outings over several months. Was there a winner in the accuracy department? Well, sorta! The Black Hills 230-grain FMJ would give me groups just slightly under 3-inches and I mean, ever so slightly under 3-inches and the Buffalo Bore 230-grain FMJ FN +P load did the same for me - as did the 185-grain low recoil, standard pressure load. So, in reality, there wasn't a clear winner in the accuracy department - the SR45 was a pretty consistent shooter in the accuracy department. I did have some bad days on the range, and some of my groups opened-up to more than 4-inches, but it was me, and not the gun and ammo - even gun writers have bad days!
I will admit, I had some misgivings with the new Buffalo Bore 160-grain low recoil, standard pressure TAC-XP all-copper hollow point Barnes load. It is, very low recoiling, and I didn't think this load would give the slide enough "umph" to load the next round from the magazine into the chamber - but it never failed me. And, this is the load I keep in the SR45 as my bedside gun. And, there are no fears that this very light 160-grain bullet will over-penetrate, but it will still get the job down - even at velocities below 800 FPS - I was impressed with this load, and I also carry it in my Kahr CW45 and it is a pussycat to shoot...low recoil means low recoil with this round.
At the opposite end of my ammo was the Buffalo Bore 230-grain FMJ FN +P and their 255-grain Hard Cast +P loads, and both of those loads get your attention - no doubt about it. These are the loads you want if you are out hiking in the boonies - they can easily penetrate the skull of a black bear, and make other large dangerous game wish they had picked an easier meal.
Now for street carry with the SR45, I loaded it with the Black Hills 185-grain TAC-XP all copper Barnes hollow point +P load. I just like this load and like it a lot and have confidence in it - I've tested it extensively in water-filled milk jugs, and into wet newspaper and it reliably expands and stays together - I've tested this load more than any other Black Hills .45ACP loads. I'm sorry to say, at this writing, Black Hills is out of this loading, but I'm on the waiting list. I have half a box of this ammo left, and it won't be used for any more handgun articles - it is being saved for my carry guns in .45ACP. I also like the Black Hills steel-cased loads, the steel cases come from Russia, but this is not dirty-shooting Russian ammo - it is made in the Black Hills factory. The reason Black Hills went to the steel-cased loads was because they couldn't get enough once-fired .45 ACP brass - so they went with steel-cased loads to save the consumer some money, and there is nothing wrong with these loads. I'd carry the JHP load without hesitation.
So, how did the SR45 stack-up in my testing? There were no malfunctions of any sort to speak of. The only problem I encountered was one of the magazines wouldn't consistently lock-open after the last round was fired, and it happened with a variety of loads, not just one particular load. The other magazine had no problems, and I suspect the problem magazine will work better after it gets broke-in - I've had this problem with other handgun magazines - sometimes they just need to get broken-in a bit. So, when I carry the SR45, that magazine is my spare. The SR45 was a pleasure to shoot, and the recoil wasn't nearly as bad as you think it would be for a polymer-type framed handgun. The low bore to axis lets the gun sit low in your hand, and that helps tame the recoil.
As an aside, there is one thing worth note, and that is, the SR45 just grows on your. I can't put my finger on any single thing about the SR45, but there is just "something" about the SR45 that makes you want to shoot, and shoot, and shoot it!!! The darn gun just kept calling out to me. Even when I was testing guns for other articles, I'd toss the SR45 in my bag and shoot a magazine or two through it - and I still do it. I think Ruger was smart to only go with a 10 round magazine, too. It gives you more rounds than a standard 1911 does, and it gives you a full grip you can get on the gun - it doesn't feel like a larger capacity .45ACP handgun for some reason. Ruger did the SR45 up right if you ask me. The gun just keeps on perking along, and it keeps on calling out to me, to be shot more and more. There's nothing not to like about the SR45, and full-retail is only $529.
Now for the "bad" news! As many SurvivalBlog readers may know, Ruger is backlogged about two million guns these days. (We have the crowd in DC to thank for this latest run on guns and ammo.) If you can find an SR45 in your local gun shop, don't put it down, start the paperwork and take it home. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Mr. Rawles,
Could you recommend a style of survival knife? I've read several recommendations by various people -- everything from a K-Bar to a parang. My wife and I are newcomers to the survival game, but as a hunter and outdoorsman I tend to favor a good, short, fixed-blade (drop point) Buck knife, augmented by a decent folding saw. Are these good choices, or should we really look for a versatile (if not "do-it-all"), long-bladed knife with a partially serrated edge? I'm a bit skeptical of hacking / sawing through things such as tree limbs with a knife, and equally skeptical of a tool which does all things "sort-of," instead of one thing well.

Forgive me if I just haven't searched through your archived material enough to find the answer. We read your book (Surviving the End of the World as We Know It), by the way, and consider it one of the best we've encountered -- factual, informational, accessible. Thanks in advance for your kindness. - Michael L.

JWR Replies: Your daily carry knife is one of your most important survival tools.  Not only is it available for daily utility tasks, but it can be useful for hunting, outdoor survival, or self defense when you are in gun-deprived jurisdictions.

Sheath knifes are stronger than folders, but they have a few drawbacks:
1.)   They are more bulky, and therefore tend to get left at home, when you need them most.
2.)   They are more conspicuous.
3.)   They are restricted in some locales.  (In many cities and states, a blade that is perfectly legal in a pocketknife is a misdemeanor to carry in a fixed blade equivalent.  Yes, this flies in the face of logic. But the law is the law, and we can’t do much about it.) 

One other option is what is commonly called a neck knife—a small fixed blade sheath knife that is designed to be carried on a cord around your neck, concealed beneath your shirt. Typically, the cord is attached to the tip end of the sheath, so that the knife hangs with the handle pointing downward. These are normally drawn by reaching under your shirt and tugging the knife down and free from the sheath. Many folks find these uncomfortable, but others love them. (If you tend to wear loose-fitting shirts that are not tucked in, then this might be a good choice for you. Your mileage may vary.)  One neck knife model that is currently popular is he Crawford Triumph N.E.C.K., made by CRKT. This knife was designed by Pat and Wes Crawford. It is a compact recurve tanto. 
Note: Be advised that state and local laws vary widely, so a neck knife might be considered a concealed weapon in some jurisdictions.

Aside for some specialty filleting or skinning knives, I generally prefer half-serrated tanto style blades. I've found those to be the most versatile for everyday carry. But of course choose what suits you and your particular needs.
There is a dizzying array of folding knives available. Again, I generally prefer half-serrated tanto style blades, but choose what suits you. FWIW, I often carry a Cold Steel Voyager XL Tanto model. (Mine are mostly half-serrated ("Combo Edge") tantos, and in the Extra Large (XL) size.) A smaller version (the "Large") might suit some folks better. Regardless, you should first check your state and local knife laws for blade length restrictions.
My general advice is to carry the longest blade knife that you can and will carry every day, without fail. This is the Everyday Carry (EDC) approach. The knife that gets left at home because it is too bulky or heavy is almost worthless.

Without too much more weight and bulk, you can also carry a small combination tool (such as a mini Leatherman or a small Swiss Army knife), and/or a small flashlight in a belt pouch. But I recommend the big folding pocketknife be carried in a front trouser pocket using a belt clip, for very quick access. And pocket carry using a belt clip also leaves the knife partly exposed, an hence will shield you from a "concealed weapons" charge, in some jurisdictions.

Yes, you can buy a great big Ramboesque "survival" knife, but will you have it with you when you really need it? In my estimation the EDC knife and small tools concept is much more workable.

Martha S.'s Whole Wheat Bread

3 cups warm water
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbls. honey
1 packet of dry yeast
4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup applesauce
Approximately 10 cups whole wheat flour
(I think it's best when it's freshly ground.)
4 - 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" loaf pans (The smaller pan size is good because
it allows the bread to rise in the pan a little higher.)
Butter - to grease the pans.

Dissolve yeast in the warm water mixed w/1 Tbls. honey in a large pottery bowl.  
Let sit 5 minutes, yeast should foam up.  (Original recipe says to spend the 5 minutes 
praying for your family.)

Stir in 3 Cups of whole wheat flour, beat with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes to develop gluten.

Add rest of honey, salt, and applesauce.  Stir for another 5 minutes.

Stir in another 3 Cups of flour.

Add another 3 Cups flour.  Dump out onto floured board and knead until smooth and 
elastic.  You may need to add as much as one more cup of flour.  To know if the dough
has been kneaded enough, it should not stick to your hand.

Form dough into tight ball and place into a greased pottery bowl.  Let rise in a warm,
moist place for 40 minutes. (Hint:  I place a 9"x 13" cake pan in the bottom of my oven
and put boiling water in it.  Then place the bowl of dough on the rack above.)

Punch dough down and divide into 4 loaves.  Grease loaf pans.  To get maximum rise from
your dough, flatten each loaf section and roll it up, tucking the ends underneath the loaf.
This gives the yeast something to rise against.  Set loaf pans in warm, moist place to rise
again for 40 minutes.
If you've let the loaves rise in the oven, remove them (and your pan of water) 
and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake loaves for 30 - 40 minutes.  Should be lightly browned 
(you'll "smell" that it's done) and the loaves will sound hollow when you thump them.

Chef's Notes:

I've been making this recipe for over 30 years and it's still the best and simplest one I know of.

If you will not eat the bread up in 2 or 3 days, freeze it.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

No-Knead Bread and Whole-Grain Variations

The Best Whole Wheat bread Recipe and variations

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

Several interesting retreat properties have just been added to our SurvivalRealty.com listings. Three of them are in the Bradshaw Mountains, near the geographically-isolated small town of Crown King, Arizona. This is not far from the towns of Dewey and Humboldt, which were locales in my novel "Survivors".  Another newly-listed SurvivalRealty property is located in Muddy Pond, Tennessee (on the Cumberland Plateau), which coincidentally was a locale in my novel "Founders". When I last checked, there were 112 SurvivalRealty.com listings in the United States, and five that are offshore.

   o o o

For anyone who normally carries a Glock 20 or 21 but lives in bear country, the .50 GI conversion kit might be a viable option. These have been in full production from Guncrafter Industries since 2009, and they've perfected the design. The beauty of this design is that you can switch your pistol back to the pistol's original chambering in less than a minute. I checked with the company (in Huntsville, Arkansas) and learned that the ammo runs from $23 for a box of 20 on up to $42.25 for a box of 20. (The latter is for their segmented hollow points, which are individually turned on a lathe.) I also asked about their 8-round and 9-round .50 GI Glock magazines. They said that they are a proprietary design and there are no plans to make any with a larger capacity. (Because of the great weight of the .50 cartridges, it might be more than the Glock magazine catch could support.) Also note that because the .50 GI slide is slightly wider that the standard .45 ACP slide, installing an extended slide release is recommended, and holster options are limited. I have read that they will fit in a Model 070 Safariland Glock Duty Holster. (Such as a the 070 SSIII Mid-Ride, Level III Retention.)

   o o o

I've just come up with a solution to Detroit, Michigan's bankruptcy woes: Turn much of the city into a 24-hour-coverage ongoing survival-themed reality television show. Do you remember The Truman Show? In it, they they built the world's largest sound stage, to follow just one child's life, in a make-believe city? Okay, now imagine The Detroit Show: Whole sections of de-populated Detroit are rigged with cameras. Teams of otherwise unemployed volunteer participants are dropped into Detroit with only what they can carry on their backs. They are allowed to "homestead" abandoned houses and contiguous abandoned properties. They either improvise or barter for farming equipment. They are allowed to establish an autonomous government, with their own laws, their own sheriff(s), and their own courts, as they see fit. They are encouraged to barter with the locals. I would imagine that the show would start out a lot like The Colony. But then, after a couple of years, some of competing teams would graduate to running prosperous large scale farms and then end up running city states, in a situation much more like The Borgias. than The Waltons. I find this captivating, but it would probably require a special act of the Michigan legislature. And it would surely be deemed politically incorrect to show so much of the failed aftermath of deeply entrenched socialist politics in the hollow shell of the once the great city of Detroit.

   o o o

A Common Core informational meeting will be held Monday July 22nd from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm at the Candlelight Christian Fellowship, 5725 N. Pioneer Drive, Coeur d’Alene Idaho (In front of the roller skating rink on Highway 95.)

   o o o

Commentator Jon Hall sums up the milieu of "post-apocalyptic" books and movies: The End of the World and Other Entertainments

"No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words “no” and “not” employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights." - Edmund A. Opitz

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21st is the birthday of Ernest Hemingway. He was born in 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. He committed suicide in July 2, 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho, after being diagnosed with haemochromatosis, and after electroshock treatments failed to lift him from chronic alcoholic depression. He had a sad life, but he was a great writer.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Back in 1979 I found myself in facing a hurricane by the name of Frederic. It had Mobile, Alabama in its cross-hairs. The category three hurricane made landfall on September 12. I did not take the warnings seriously and unfortunately there was little to no preparation made on my part. I barely had a quarter of a tank of gas in my car. I did not have a battery operated radio or a flashlight. There was some non perishable food in my pantry and a small amount of food in the fridge. I was basically like most folks, ill prepared and not taking the warnings seriously.

When hurricane Frederic finally made landfall it did not take long for the power to go off. The winds were fierce and seemed relentless throughout the night. It was pretty eerie. There really wasn't much you could do except wait for it to end. The winds were estimated to be anywhere from 111 to 130 mph. Power lines and trees were down all over the city making some roads impassable. Most of the stores had been emptied out prior to the storm. Then whatever food was left had become spoiled in the stores that did not have back up generators. Back in 1979 that was probably most of the stores. I personally had never experienced power outages on this scale. I did not anticipate the power at my home was going to be out for 22 days. The entire city looked as if a nuclear bomb had exploded. Trees were on cars and houses; debris was scattered everywhere. A curfew was imposed by  the national guard because of homes and businesses being broken into. It took several days for assistance to arrive with emergency items. And even then there were very long lines for ice and canned goods that was distributed by the national guard. Arguments broke out as people were feeling tired and frustrated. It was also hot and humid. So I avoided going because I did not want to stand in the hot sun for hours and then finding out the supplies ice or food items were exhausted.

Each night was the same in my house-dark, hot and humid. It was difficult to sleep. I did have a natural gas water heater and fortunately the gas service was never turned off. So I did not have to take cold showers although that may have helped cool me down. For a few days my neighbors shared what perishable food they had and there were several nightly cookouts until the food ran out. Afterwards I realized that I had made so many stupid mistakes. It was an extremely miserable time that I will never forget. I made a promise to myself to never get caught in that situation again. This could have been avoided with some minimal preparation. It takes a little effort  here and there to prepare.
Since Frederic I have gone through several hurricanes - most notably Ivan and Katrina. I feel I have learned some valuable lessons.

I consider myself more or less an amateur prepper. And I really mean an amateur. I don't worry about the apocalypse but more about the possibility of lengthy power outages because of hurricanes.
My motto is “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst”. From what I have read over and over is that ordinary people can emotionally break down in just a matter of days. Within a week they can get desperate and then there are those who will take from you what they do not have and if necessary they will take it by force. It could even be your neighbor.

So don’t brag about how you are preparing or what you possess and the post it for all to see on the Internet. Don’t make your supplies common knowledge. Its best to maintain silence. The dangers are not only from ordinary people who under normal conditions are law abiding citizens. There is also the criminal element already established out there and they will become emboldened in a disaster. They will not hesitate to take with force what they want and will often gather together in small or large groups.

Most of you reading this are probably like me and have a budget to consider. All of my items have been purchased slowly and I have not gone on a frenzied shopping spree. I would love to but that is not economically feasible for me. So I just started with the basics and went slowly from there. Its amazing how quickly you can accumulate your emergency inventory.

The first thing I focus on  is having an adequate supply of water. I know that water is extremely important so I keep three six gallon water jugs along with five collapsible one gallon water jugs. One of the first things I do once there is the potential for a hurricane entering the gulf of Mexico is fill up my water containers. If the storm misses I water my plants so nothing is wasted. I try to keep a minimum of six cases of bottled water on hand and rotate them. Fortunately there have not been any issues in the past regarding water contamination but just too be on the safe side I keep several life-straw water filters and a couple of bottles of polar pure water treatment. I also fill up both bathtubs and all of my sinks. Recently I discovered a nearby water stream within easy walking distance from my home. That was a great find. Remember folks water is extremely important. You can go longer without eating than you can without drinking water.

Food is my next priority. I try to keep my pantry stocked with at least a month of food such as canned goods, peanut butter, crackers, rice, beans, granola bars and dehydrated foods. I also have several #10 cans of freeze dried foods. I have not had to use any of the freeze dried foods so far and I am glad they have a 25-30 year shelf life. They can be expensive to purchase so I always look for price drops and free shipping.
The next priority is obtaining fuel for my cars and generator. As a good practice measure I always keep my gas tank topped off especially when it is at the halfway mark. You never know when you are going to get stuck in a traffic jam. In my area it is extremely important the minute a storm gets close to the Gulf of Mexico to head to the nearest gas station and not only top off your car but also fill up your gas cans. If you wait to see if your area is in the five day cone it will be too late. When that happens everyone panics and heads to the gas station. Then the stations start running out of gas. Then there are some who will only accept cash. So its good to keep some cash on hand for the unforeseen emergencies. I keep several five gallon gas cans and fill them up at the early stages of a potential tropical storm.
If the storm doesn't materialize I just put the gas back in my cars. Additionally I have a small generator to keep my refrigerator running for at least two to three days.

Its prudent to have a supply of AA, AAA, C, D, and 9 volt VDC batteries. I also have several battery/solar powered radios. I keep a wind up watch in my emergency prep pack. Recently I discovered a new product by a company called WakaWaka. Yes it is a funny name. The product is a solar powered light with a phone charger. It works well. You can  charge them with 8 hours of sunlight or with a micro USB charger. My kindle charger will charge it. The solar light has several settings of brightness and even includes an SOS flashing light. I have used this to fully charge my iPhone and in less than two hours with plenty of power left for a light you can use to read by. On the lowest light setting it is estimated to last 100+ hours.

I started making an inventory of my emergency items and this way you can see what you have or what you need to replenish. I keep my items in a backpack and a rolling canvas bag. The items are duct tape, Para-cord with various lengths, a snakebite kit, hatchet, 15" knife, 18" machete, hiking shoes, solar link radio, binoculars, first aid kit, machete, manual can opener, rain ponchos, tarp, wet fire starting tinder, blast match fire starter, soap, toilet paper, spork eating utensil, haululite ketalist tea kettle, outdoor 10" fry pan, siphon pump, emergency tent, emergency blankets, nine volt battery with steel wool-you can easily start a fire with these two items, and various camping cookware. I have learned it takes some practice to master using the fire starters. I try to practice at least once a month starting a fire and either boiling water or cooking on my ember-lit stove. The ember-lit stove is really amazing. Its very light and packs up compactly. It only requires twigs and small branches for fuel.

I also have a charcoal grill as a back up to our gas stove. I have a camp stove coffee maker so I can start my mornings with my caffeine fix. It's good to learn how to use your emergency equipment when there is no emergency rather than to wait until there is one. I keep a baggie by the dryer and put the dryer lint in it. Using a fire starter just place some dryer lint under the twigs and it doesn't take much of a spark to get started. And on windy days I take a toilet tissue holder and put the lint inside and you can easily get a fire started this way.
All of my important papers are kept in a fireproof/ waterproof safe. I learned about storing items the hard way. I had a fireproof safe and discovered that you must also make sure is waterproof. I lost several documents because of this oversight.

I keep my ammunition stored in watertight ammo cans. I have collected a number of flashlights and lanterns over the years. I keep small flashlights and lanterns throughout my home and garage. That way there is always light easily within reach. I have a corded phone stored in my emergency kit as I have had problems with spotty cell phone usage during and after hurricanes. For some reason land-line phones have always worked.
An alarm company representative made some suggestions regarding safety in the home. He recommended hinging my doors so they open outward making it difficult for hurricane force  winds or humans to force the doors inward. Although my front door does open inward I brace it at night with a buddy bar. That prevents someone from kicking the door in with one swift kick. With the buddy bar it takes a number of kicks and of course a lot of noise so you are not caught so quickly off guard. I also have shutters on every inside window for privacy and it also helps keep cooling costs down and limits what outsiders can see at night if you have lights on.
Because of a recommendation from a local contractor I decided to use spray foam in my attic instead of the traditional cellulose insulation. Even in the hottest month my attic is never more than 84 degrees. When the power is out my home should not heat up like most houses.

I recently installed a battery-operated wireless detector alerting me if anyone walks up my driveway to the back of my home.
Anyway these are some steps I have taken and I hope this has been a helpful read for you. All of my purchases have taken me years to accumulate what I currently have. There is still much work to do. But instead of thinking of what I did not have and get overwhelmed I simply started with small steps.

"Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men." - Hosea 10:12-13 (KJV)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

It’s interesting to see the differences in the way people prepare for the future. We have been reading ‘SurvivalBlog’ daily now for over four  years, and here too, we find different types of people who prepare differently. (One reason why I love SurvivalBlog!) It is also interesting to read the difference between FEMA suggestions, Homeland Security (?) preparedness requirements, Weather Channel Preparedness tips, and different books written on the subject. Then there are the multitudes of survivor shows on television from Les Stroud in ‘Survivorman’ to the man of few words -- Cody Lundin in ‘Dual Survivor’ and his new partner Joseph Teti. If you want drama there is always the ‘Doomsday Preppers’ or the older version that really taught useful tips; ‘The Colony’( Season 1 only.) All show different people with different ways of preparing for the future. Some seem genuine and some seem off the top. Some seem to know what they are doing, and other seem to be real nut cases.  Some show the difference between ‘preppers’ and ‘survivalists’, or between people riding the prepper wave and those who have lived a self-sustaining and prepared lifestyle, it’s all different people, different styles, different ways.

My husband and I grew up on neighboring farms in the same very rural farming community. In our day, we were taught to never let anyone else know exactly what we had, from food to money. Never, ever give full disclosure. As we watch shows on television, we cringe at the families who divulge everything to the entire world. We were always taught the surest way to lose what you have is to let others know all about it. We have tried to teach this to our children and our grandchildren, but society is so different these days, rules for living are different. Today’s society makes living so very social, yet survival is so very personal. It doesn’t make any difference how many facebook friends you have if SHTF and you don’t have any preparedness skills or plans.  We believe a society or community is only as strong as it’s weakest link. We don’t want any of our family to be that weak link.

While we grew up living a rural preparedness lifestyle, our children have grown up with a bit more urban lifestyle. Our grandchildren have a mix of urban, suburban and rural lifestyles and now all have different and interesting ways of preparedness. They all have been taught preparedness from their parents who learned from us, however; their various states of prepping are interesting to observe.  We have three grandsons and two granddaughters who are so different, it is hard to realize they are brothers/sisters, cousins or even related. Their prepping habits are equally as different. In our family tree, our ancestors were the roots, we have been the trunk and our children have been the branches and our little leaves of grandkids flutter in the turbulent winds of the present, family preparedness has run thru us all.

Humor me: as proud grandparents, let me tell you about our three grandsons. There is the oldest; whom we playfully call the ‘jelly-roll’ from a time when he was little and always had peanut butter and jelly on his face. He was secretly married right out of high school, however; when the great grandchildren started coming, it wasn’t so secret anymore. He dropped out of college and works in computer programming to support his ever growing family. We commend him, he works hard, he has a beautiful and strong family; owns his own home, has food storage, emergency supplies and a bug out bag ready. He has a home gym set that he used to use everyday, but now only uses two or three days a week. He is young and strong, so we don’t worry about him too much, he and his family are street-smart, bright and aware, true survivor personalities.   

Our second grandson whom we call the ‘Mr. Brains’ is seriously gifted and absolutely brilliant. He is so highly intelligent; we worry about his common sense. Working on his PhD in Nanotechnology Engineering, he is still a dedicated prepper in a community with some members of his research team. He or a member of his group, has every prepper tool known to mankind and have even created some of their own. They have spent thousands of dollars as a group and it literally takes trucks to move all their stuff. He tells us not to worry, as they will take care of ole’ grandma and grandpa, we chuckle and shake our heads. He takes his vacation around prepper training camps and conferences. Whenever he takes trips for his work, he checks out the local prepping community where ever he goes. When he’s overseas at conferences, he checks out preparedness supplies in that country. He exercises every weekend and practices his bug-out with the group once a month. Him we worry about, we are concerned he may be out of town or out of the country when SHTF. If that happens, we know he will at least have enough brains to keep himself safe.

Our youngest grandson is now finishing high school; we call him our ‘little eagle’. He has been in Boy Scouts since kindergarten where he started dreaming of getting his Eagle Scout Award, which he achieved just after his 14th birthday. He too believes in prepping but in a totally different way, he believes survival is in knowledge. He is self-confident and has learned to survive on nothing. His bag is a cord bag on his back, his knowledge of primitive survival skills (along with weapon training) is outstanding. When he heads off to college next fall, we are all confident he will survive both university life and some TEOTWAWKI event. He runs or walks everyday to excess; he started running everyday about a year before his Boy Scout troop went to Philmont Ranch in New Mexico, over three years ago and has never stopped his training. Some days after school and band practice he runs, some days he hikes a trail at the local Historical Park and some days he just walks circles around the house. Sometimes he does it in full pack, sometimes carrying two five gallon buckets full of something, sometimes he carries the huge family dog in a fireman’s carry over his shoulder and sometimes nothing. But he consistently does it every day. He will be physically able to handle any situation, however; he lacks supplies for long term survival. We know you can’t just live on nothing, oh, the gifted imagination of youth! We want to shake him and tell him to wake up, but in the meantime, we keep supplies for him. 

Three boys, three different ways, and our own prepping has been shaped by them to some extent. Our children are okay, they have supplies, training and knowledge. If SHTF our kids will be fine, we have added extra to our supplies specifically for the grandkids and great-grandkids, a whole hidden room in-fact. I’m most concerned about my two granddaughters. Unlike their brothers, they do not prep and think it is stupid. One, our oldest granddaughter, whom we call ‘Missy’ now a hairdresser in Miami has asked me to teach her to shoot while she was here over Christmas. That is a major breakthrough, as she usually doesn’t want to spoil her nail polish. She has now been on her own long enough to see the need for self-defense training. Both the girls just don’t want to be burdened with ‘stuff’ and they think prepping is hoarding and silly. Grandma has her work cut out on these girls.

Our youngest granddaughter whom we call ‘Pumpkin’ has the same attitude that we have seen portrayed by many of the participants on the television show ‘Doomsday Preppers’. ‘Pumpkin’ just wants to find a man who preps who will take care of her. Her; we worry about the most, like her sister, she can cook, home can food, sew, and make jelly but she cannot shoot a weapon. She is still at home with her parents and seems to be filing her time just trying to find the right man and updating her ‘status’. So many of the newer television shows and media represent the men of the family with weapon training, military or camping experience who use prepping as a form of male bonding. The women end up cooking, cleaning up the mess and taking care of the food. We are firm believers that women need to be trained just the same as the men. Each person, male and female need to know how to survive and how to defend themselves and their family, anything less is a neglect of one’s moral and ethical responsibility. A woman’s life is no less significant than a man’s. All of our family consider themselves ‘preppers’; yet it is amusing to note their extreme differences. One maxed out to the umpth degree with stuff, one with nothing but his own skill-set and confidence and one in-between, one with no desire to prep and one with an urge to start learning self-defense skills. What exactly is a prepper? A person who prepares for a future life-changing event, so in some way I guess all the grandkids qualify to be called a ‘preppers’.

Children have to find their own way in the world. Grandchildren (and great grandchildren too!) are bound do things differently from the ways we have, or that we taught. We wouldn’t want it to be any different, but we do want them to be safe. Sometimes, their ways are better ways and they teach us. We see preparing for the future as a way to keep them safe in unsure times, but we can’t be upset if they don’t agree. Each and every person has their own path to follow and their own way to do things. Diversity is key to survival, so we have all learned from each other in our family. Thank goodness they can all still come to Grandma and Grandpa’s anytime and sleep on air mattresses in the living room and pile up on the couches and in the extra bedrooms. Our home is the ‘final destination’ for family bug-outs. Family and loved ones are a key to the internal drive to survive.  Ask yourself, do you really want to be a sole survivor if there is no one left to laugh with? Maybe yes, but it will be a lonely, desolate life. It’s the same question older or disabled people often ask; “do I want quantity of years” or “do I want quality of life”.   We have decided on ‘quality’: we want family, friends and loved ones or not at all.

Regarding the article on debt collection, I would recommend these web sites which give some advice on how to deal with debt collectors:
There are consumer protection laws that prohibit offensive behavior on the part of debt collectors.  These sites explain how to use them.
I recognize you may not agree with these site's positions, but, just as the debt collector who wrote in says, good people sometimes get into bad situations.  And, sometimes, if your state's exemptions are too low, bankruptcy is not an option.  So, yes, I consider fighting debt collectors part of survivalism. - N.B.M.

JWR Replies: Of course, avoiding all this from the start...

Mr. Rawles;
In response to N.B.M.'s response to the "How Consumer Debt Collection Works" articles, I must chime in and state that the sites he recommends all encourage the use of loopholes and quirks in the law to, essentially, steal from folks. You borrowed it, the right thing to do is pay it back. We cannot, as Christians and freedom loving people, complain about the national debt, massive bailouts, and the wholesale manipulation of the (no longer) free markets, whilst we all search to shirk our own obligations. That is hypocrisy. Stealing is stealing, whether it takes place on Wall Street or Your Street.

Regards, - Jason in Kansas

As I've mentioned before, a big jump in interest rates could create chaos for the holders of many MBS derivatives. Here is an example of how just a small rate rise caused turmoil: Analysis: Bank of America's interest-rate exposure may be worse than rivals.

Do Western Central Banks Have Any Gold Left? Part III

Detroit files for bankruptcy protection. (Is it just a coincidence that all of the city's mayors for the past 50 years have been Democrats?)

Speaking of Detroit, Commander Zero had some quite wry commentary. (Thanks to Gil in Montana for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

China's Financial System Ready To Collapse? Giant Ponzi Scheme Exposed! China’s Debt Is Well Over $507 Trillion, And Yet Per Capita Income Is Less Than $4,500

Fitch Downgrades European Financial Stability Facility To AA+

Weak Retail Sales Means Fed Tapering Later vs. Sooner. [JWR's Comment: Don't hold your breath. Ben is very unlikely to give up QE before he leaves his post in December. Nor is his successor. Free money is the world's most addictive drug.]

Driving somewhere? There's a government record of that

   o o o

Attention Handloaders: Tom in Pennsylvania recently posted this handy weight data for brass, over at Buddy's Boards. (An amazing free site that I visit almost daily.) This would be good data to print out for your reference binder:

9mm, 59.46 grains each, 117.7 cases per lb., 8.5 lb. per 1,000
.38 Special, 68.06 grains each, 102.8 cases per lb., 9.7 lb. per 1,000
.40, 70.1 grains each, 99.9 cases per lb., 10 lb. per 1,000
.357 Magnum, 78.3 grains each, 89.4 cases per lb., 11.2 lb. per 1,000
.45 ACP, 89.58 grains each, 78.1 cases per lb., 12.8 lb per 1,000
.223 Rem., 95.28 grains each, 73.5 cases per lb., 13.6 lb. per 1,000
.44 Magnum, 114.38 grains each, 61.2 cases per lb. 16.3 lb. per 1,000
.50 BMG, 865.26 grains each, 8.1 cases per lb., 123.5 lb. per 1,000

If nothing else, this is a good way to know that you haven't been shorted, if you buy brass in bulk.

   o o o

Wranglerstar's dogs recently had a run-in with a big coyote. This underscores the need to be armed at all times. Methinks he should be watching for circling vultures across the road, tomorrow.

   o o o

New Safety Regulations Clear Way to Restart Japan’s Nuclear Power Plants

   o o o

Pierre M. sent: The NSA, This New American Digital Life, and Your Privacy: A Handy Guide

"Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up [any] image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I [am] the LORD your God.
Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I [am] the LORD.

If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make [you] afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword." - Leviticus 26:1-7 (KJV)

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19th is coincidentally the birthday of two famous handgun designers: Samuel Colt (born 1814) and Gaston Glock (born 1929.) I predict that both of their handgun designs will still be in production in 2100, and perhaps even 2200.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

 "If I have seen for miles, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton

This line sums up SurvivalBlog and the contributing writers: it is a community of concerned preppers trying to share knowledge to help each other out.  My focus today is residential heating with wood as your fuel based on my experience heating with my airtight cast iron stove.  Pretty boring topic for the seasoned prepper, but I think there are plenty of new preppers who have recently seen the light and can feel the stuff hitting the fan and hopefully this article will have a little for everyone.  Personally. I am a new prepper and was astounded to learn that this country and world is in one big mess, financially. I bet that a lot of us reading SurvivalBlog are just like me: Newly Aware and Astounded.

If you live where it can get cold and many of us do you need to think about a heat source.  I would rather save my fuel oil, propane, and gasoline for other uses rather than heating my abode. I like wood myself because it is and should be readily available before and after any kind of world changing event.  If you live in an area that does not have access to much fuel wood than you probably already know that you live in area that will not be very pleasant when the balloon goes up i.e. any kind of larger city so G.O.O.D. and God bless. 

Here is my motive for writing this article related to heating with wood.  What I love about my woodstove is that I use it now and it is very practical for comfort and saving money on my heating bill. But after the SHTF it will become a necessity that could make the difference between living or freezing to death. (I have seen my thermometer hit 39 below)   I have acquired many things trying to get “prepared” that I will rarely use unless the crunch occurs but my wood stove is something I use every day 5 to 6 months out of the year.

But to raise a serious question to all preppers, have you thought very hard about heating your home?  Do you know how much fuel you would need, no matter what type that you would need to heat your house for one, two or three or more years.  Truly I enjoy survival blog but there is an enormous amount of discussion of what is the best gun, knife, caliber, bullet etc… But freezing to death is just as dead a catching a bad case of lead poisoning, probably worse if it involves family and friends.  If you do not have a reliable off grid heat source then I suggest you consider a wood stove before you get your next backup MBR.  Warmth could be a wonderful barter item in a SHTF world.
Let me give you my opinion of what could be the most desirable heating sources to have in order of most important to what you would use if you have no other options.
                1. Wood cook stove
                2. Masonry heater
                3. Airtight EPA approved wood stove or fireplace insert
                4.” Earthstove” or old style wood stove
                5. Makeshift wood stove e.g. Fish house stove, barrel stove, homemade stoves
                6. Electrically dependent wood stove, furnace, or boiler
                7. Open fireplace (but there is good news!)

First, a wood cook stove is a no brainer, if the grid goes down what better way to cook and heat at the same time.  Though I do not have a wood cook stove yet, I am keeping an eye out for one on Craigslist that is reasonably priced.  Next on my list is a masonry heater.  I am only going off of what I have read here and other places but this seems like the cat’s meow for high efficient fuel wood heating.  The one major problem I see is that a masonry heater is very large, heavy, and expensive.  I would love to have one but it would never work in my own house and I am sure that I am not alone.  But if you have a generous budget and the right layout of you home then why not since all of our money won’t be worth much in a few years anyway. 

What I use is number 3 on my list, an airtight stove.  These types of stoves are covered in previous SurvivalBlog articles so I will not get into it to deeply except to explain that the EPA airtight stoves and fireplace inserts use advanced stove design to increase the efficiency of the wood that is burned.  This also gives the benefit of burning cleaner which decreases the amount of build up in your chimney therefore it is safer, also the more efficient burn creates less visible smoke/emissions which should appeal to everyone related to opsec .  When my wood stove is burning effectively there is no visible smoke and surprisingly no smell.  But smoke will be present when you first start your stove or when you add more wood and this is from the moisture in the wood cooking out and is typically blue and rises (even well seasoned wood has some moisture.)  Also your chimney will emit a lot of smoke if your stove is not burning hot enough to ignite the wood gases, this is often grey sinking smoke.  The point being is that the smoke or lack of visible smoke coming from your chimney tells a lot about how well your stove is burning.  My stove is a Jotul Oslo 500.  It is a cast iron stove with a 3 cubic foot firebox with a side door and has the ability to have a cook plate installed.  A large fire box is nice when you want to have a long burn and the side door is where I load all of my additional wood when I have a fire burning or I am putting fresh wood on a bed of coals.  And I am sorry to say I have not tried a lot of cooking on my stove yet but it is in the plans. 

Modern stove are usually made out of plate steel, cast iron or soap stone.  Cast iron and soapstone are most expensive but they are known for their durability and heat retention which is very desirable when wanting a good heat source.  Plate steel is cheaper but gets hot fast and then cools fast but might be better to cook on, I do not know for sure.  Plate steel can also warp if it gets too hot.  Soap stone has a great reputation of having “soft heat” that does not get too hot and stays warm longer than cast iron and a lot longer than plate steel, but you are going to pay for it!  

Number four on my list are the older cast iron or plate steel non-EPA approved wood stoves.  To be fair I have never used one of these stove before in my home, I have only been around other people who have had them and I will say that they work just fine. But from what I have read about the advanced burning systems is that the newer stoves make for a much better burning system which is from the higher efficiency and cleaner emissions i.e. less smoke. 

From what I understand the old style stove are around 50 percent efficient while the newer stoves are 70 to 80 percent efficient.  That may not sound like much but if you need to get wood and you don’t want to draw attention to yourself by using a chainsaw and a gas wood splitter, then 20 percent less wood to cut, split, and haul by hand will be a very big deal. 

I have one comment on makeshift wood stoves and cheap wood space heaters for heating residential homes and that is they make me nervous.  If you have nothing else when the balloon goes up then that is what you have to do, but if we are truly prepping than I would plan for something else.  Added note I have never used a barrel stove but the design with the 30 gal barrel inside of the 55 gallon barrel with crushed rock as a heat sink does look reasonable but my reminder to you is that if you run into problems after the SHTF then the fire department might not be as accessible as before. 

Electrically dependent wood burning systems are not high on my list. Number one is that they are dependent on a source of electricity to run blower fans and circulate air or hot water and second they are also around the 50 percent efficiency rate for firewood.  Two good reasons to look elsewhere for reliable wood heat sources.  And don’t be duped into buying a pellet or corn stove because I would not suggest to someone to stockpile tons of wood pellets for TEOTWAWKI and corn will be more valuable as a food source.  Finally the topic of open fireplaces, these are very inefficient, around 10 percent.  The best news about these is there are many manufactures that produce EPA approved airtight fireplace inserts.  Now wouldn’t you want to improve the efficiency of your heating system by 70 percent?  (Just for the record, I do not endorse the EPA, it is just a good way to distinguish the newer style of wood stoves.)

Now that I have covered stove options the most important topic in any wood burning system is the chimney.  You need a good working chimney to burn wood safely and effectively.  A good working chimney does much more that carry away smoke, a properly built and located chimney provides a good draft and is well insulated.  A good draft, which is negative air pressure created by a chimney, is what pulls air into the wood stove.  Unlike wood furnaces that will blow air into the firebox to generate or increase the fires intensity a wood stove is dependent on good chimney draft to operate optimally.  Air tight wood stoves are passive machines unlike their electrically dependent furnaces.  Airflow into EPA stoves is fairly low which leads to a higher efficiency level.  One thing to keep in mind related to air flow is that air is usually drawn from out of the room/house and then leaves up the chimney, or basically your house needs to “leak” some outside air into the house for the stove to work properly.  So if your house is built very tight you could run in to difficulty with obtaining a good draft.  A lot of the airtight stoves have outside air kits to increase efficiency so I hooked mine up to an outside source when I did some remodeling.  I was not happy with how it worked because if my stove was not burning then cold air would still be drawn into the stove from outside by normal chimney effect and then I would have a 400lbs piece of cold cast iron in my living room.  The problem with the outside air kit is it is an unrestricted air source much like an open window, I guess I would rather have some "leak" from windows, doors, outlets etc. created by my woodstoves draft rather than the open window effect from the outside air kit.  Other factors for a good chimney is that Ideally it should run through the middle of a house to stay warmer since a warm chimney creates a better draft and the cooler surfaces of the chimney is where unburned wood particle can stick to and create creosote.  Additionally to note is that a stove in a basement sometime will not work very well since the chimney does not develop enough draft located that low in the house.  Check out woodheat.org, this is the best web site I could find related to residential wood heating.  The stove in my house is located on a ground level with a class A stainless steel chimney running through the middle of the house.  My suggestion is talk with local dealers that sells wood stoves and have them give you advice on what would work best for you.  Additional note class A chimneys are stainless steel and insulated and are designed to withstand a chimney fire of up to 2100 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.  My final comment on chimney draft was reminded to me the other evening when I went to light my stove.  When I opened the stove door I felt cold air coming down the chimney.  At first I did not think much about it and proceeded to light my fire.  My fire did not take off and then I started to get some smoke into the room.  I then realized that my wife was using the clothes dryer downstairs and that was blowing air out of our house which then affected the draft of my chimney.  So I turned off the dryer, lit my fire without difficulty and after I had a good fire going I was able to turn the dryer on without problem.  I have also noted this same problem lighting new fires when the bathroom fan is running.  The point is that chimney draft is very important and can be influenced fairly easily so be aware of it and place your chimney appropriately.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The next topic is about wood cutting, splitting and storing.  First is cutting, and pre SHTF you will need a chainsaw or even better two. The second saw is to cut out the first one after you have pinched it in a tree (right now there are a lot of wood cutters nodding their heads and sadly I did just this last week when I was out cutting wood).  What type of chainsaw to buy as your main saw is probably as discussed as which brand/caliber gun to carry as your main sidearm.  Let me give the best advice that I got from a book titled The Wood Cutters Guide to Woodland Management and that is there are only three brands of saw to buy and they are Stihl, Husqvarna, or Jonsered.  Everything else falls short of what these saws have to offer as professional wood cutting tools, but other brands would make good cheaper second saws for the occasional wood cutting snafu.  Next is what size, 9mm or 45 ACP? The same argument as before because there are many different opinions but let me recommend a saw somewhere between 50 to 60cc.  Why this range?  It is because the majority of your cutting is limbing the tree and you don’t need a big saw for that and working with a big heavy saw for a long time is tiring which then increases your chance of having an accident.  I got a good nick in my protective chaps one day when I was getting tired and not paying attention, which made those chaps the best 39 dollars I ever spent.  When it comes to cutting through the big part of the tree it is hard not to love a lot of power but what I have learned is that taking the time to make sure you have a sharp chain (so sharpen frequently) makes up for having less power.  The woodland management book recommended running the correct sized hand file through all of your chainsaw teeth every time that you filled up a fresh tank of gas.  So practice sharpening by hand and buy a gauge to check when you need to file down the racker teeth before the cutters. A note on safety is I highly recommend some chainsaw chaps, they have small fibers that bind up the chain of the saw when they come in contact with a spinning chain and they have already saved me from an accident.  I also use a woodman’s helmet with a mesh face shield and integral ear muffs.  I really like to wear this when I am cutting.  Since I first wrote this my safety gear saved me again, I had a big red oak hung up in another tree.  I was able to give it a push and it started to fall but was hooked on a branch from an adjoining tree.  That 5 inch diameter branch pulled off of the tree and came down straight onto my helmet.  It hit hard enough that parts of my left arm went numb for a split second but otherwise I was fine with no lasting damage.  Without my helmet I could have been hurt very badly.

After the SHTF sawing becomes a much bigger challenge because of the sound signature of a chain saw and how far this sound will travel in the new more silent world.  Heck, if I hear a chain saw running close by I hop in the truck to go see if I can “help” and maybe get some free fire wood in the process, just a tip to add to your firewood pile.   But the “help” you would get in the post crunch world might not be so friendly so a good hand saw or felling ax might be a better idea.  I have just started to experiment with some different types of hand saws.  My first has been a Japanese type pull saw.  It is very efficient and easy to use.  My next acquisition has been a one-man timber saw, not my dream way to cut up a tree but if millions of board feet of pine were cut using these in the early 1900’s then I am sure they will still work today.  I also bought a timber saw sharpening set from the Crosscut Saw Company.  Kind-of spendy but if I ever truly need it, it will be worth its weight in gold.  Like much SurvivalBlog advice education is everything and experiment with different types of saws and how well they work before the balloon goes up is important.  I think the sharpening kit could be the most important tools to have since there are often old saws that have been turned into “art” but might need to be sharpened and polished and put to work.  A painted or powder coated saw might not slide through the wood very easily so plan on having some sandpaper or paint stripper handy for refurbishing these old saws.  (Maybe a good post TEOTWAWKI job?)     

Splitting is easy advice to give, buy a maul and swing hard!  Okay, I have some opinions here also; first a 6 lbs or smaller maul is all you need.  Splitting wood effectively is mostly dependent on velocity over mass.  So the faster you can swing the maul the better chance you have to split the wood.  I have an eight pound mall I barely use; I have never noticed a difference in my ability to split wood between the 6 and the 8 lbs mauls.  I also own a 4 ½ lbs maul and a Fiskars 4 lbs splitting maul.  I don’t like these for splitting big rounds, they just don’t do the job as well as my 6 lbs maul but they are great for splitting kindling or making medium sized pieces smaller by my wood shed before I bring them in the house.  Additional note the Fiskars maul comes in two handle lengths.  Do not buy the short handle maul because the blade is scary sharp and my fear is that it would be easy to miss the wood and put that sucker right through my leg, so I rarely use that maul.  The long handle Fiskars works ok but I would advise you to save your money and buy a generic well built 6 lb maul for general splitting and a 4 ½ maul for kindling.  Also you don’t need a sharp maul to split wood, some sources even recommended dulling the edge to lessen your chance of the maul sticking in some hardwoods.   A final note on mauls is from my friend who has something called the “wedge,” it weighs around 13 lbs.  He tells me it works great for holding open the door to his shop in the summer. 

If you have made it this far thanks!  Let me give you my best tip I can offer related to splitting wood, I got it off the internet.  Take an old tire, one with a wide tread is preferable, and mount it to a nice splitting stump.  When you split your rounds place them in the tire, as long as it is not a tight fit, and swing away!  If you have the right thickness tire the wood does not go anywhere after you hit it and you can hit it three or four time without having to bend over every time and pick the wood up of the ground to hit it again.  This is a back saver if you split your wood in a designated area and after you are done splitting it into nice size pieces you just grab it out and stack it on the wood pile.  Now if the wood fits in the tire to tightly then you will wedge the round into the tire with every swing and then it is really hard to get it out and yes I know this from experience.  I do not always bring my rounds back to my wood pile and spit them in my tire.  I often will spit my firewood out in the woods were I dropped the tree or found my deadfall.  There are two reasons why I do this, first is ease of splitting.  The round sometimes are already lying in a position that they can be split (I have split a lot of smaller piece lying on their side; just slide them up to another piece).  Also in the woods you can use your foot or your maul to right the round the way you want them for the best splitting.  This is another great tip from the woodcutter’s manual and the focus is to save as much wear and tear on your back as possible.  With this approach I routinely drive the maul into the ground, which dulls the edge over time but you do not need a sharp maul to split wood and additionally swinging into the ground is much safer than swinging at something 12 to 18 inches of the ground.  Try splitting your firewood out in the woods sometime; you will be surprised how well it works (another great tip from the woodcutter’s manual.)  After you split that wood, throw it in a quick pile and leave it there for a few weeks or months, this will allow it to lose more of its weight from moisture content.  When you come back the wood will be lighter and easier to handle and haul.  Finally don’t worry about the dull maul that you have been sinking into the ground, the metal if soft enough that a little work with a metal file will get you all the edge you could ever want. 

The real purpose for splitting wood is to dry and season your firewood for successful and safe heating.  Live or wet wood will have moisture content over 50%.  For the best burning firewood your moisture content should be 15 to 20%. Firewood with high moisture content does not light easily, does not put out much heat, and produces a lot of creosote that can collect in your chimney which creates a fire hazard.   To get this low moisture content your best strategy is to split and stack your wood in single file rows where it gets exposure to the sun and the wind.  I personally stack my wood in double rows so there is less chance of the piles tipping over.  How long to season your wood gives a variety of answers.  First, is it a live cut or a dead fall?  Dead falls are always my first choice to cut because some of the drying is already done.  But the most important factor for effective drying is the species of wood that you are trying to dry.  (My apologies to readers outside of the areas that do not have hardwood forest like I have access to, I know a lot of trees like larch and Doug fir are burned for heat in the redoubt.  I mostly burn deciduous hardwood, but I will try to explain that I think of my local hardwoods as different levels of “hardness” and use and dry them accordingly.)  First for drying my hard hardwoods I like to have these stacked and drying for at least two seasons/years.  This is my oak trees both red and white.  Every time that I have burned oak that has not had two years to season I am reminded by a sizzling smoking lousy burning piece of wood.  All other species for me have done well with only one drying season, therefore this wood cut and stacked in spring or early summer have all burned very well that fall and winter.  But I am several years ahead in my wood supply so all my wood gets 2+ years of seasoning (I like it very dry). 

Now I will try to explain how I burn my wood stove.  First we all need dry wood, but next I get specific about what type of wood that I like to burn and at what time that I burn it.  First I like to have a good supply of “soft” hardwoods.  I consider this to be firewood like poplar, basswood, cotton wood, or any wood with wide growth rings.  These are all low BTUs woods but what I like about them is they dry fast and light very easily.  When I first started cutting wood I was after oak and iron wood because it had high BTUs, but my Grandma said “you need some other wood like poplar to get the oak started.”  And boy was she right.  I use these softer hardwoods to light my morning fires and restart fires that have burned down to only glowing embers.  Also for ease of staring my fires I cut over half of my soft hardwoods into 10 to 12 inch lengths.  This works well for stating my fires since I build a small square “tower” of wood inside my stove with usually only one piece of crumpled newspaper at the bottom.  I also cheat a little and add a couple pieces of fatwood to help my fire get going.  Fatwood is a natural fire starter that you can buy at local hardware stores, I get mine at Menard's and it is about a buck a pound.   I build my fire typically with 6 pieces of soft hardwood and 2 pieces of medium or hard hardwoods.  The starter pieces I split by my wood shed in my “kindler” which is the back tire of a lawnmower mounted 28 inches off the ground on top of a bur oak round.  It is a smaller version of my wood splitting tire where I can split the wood and hit it multiple times without having to pick the split pieces up off of the ground.   This set up has save me a lot of time and wear and tear on my back since it is at a good working height for making small pieces of wood and the tire holds it in place while I swing my  4 ½ lbs pound mall at the wood.  I like to get the pieces down to one to two inch square pieces.  The reason I started burning my stove this way is that it gave me the quickest lighting fire without having to use a tremendous amount of really small kindling to get the fire burning hot so that the secondary burn began inside of the firebox.  Secondary burn is the burning of the wood gases usually seen as smoke (though some smoke is always moisture).  The sooner you have secondary burn the more safely and efficient your stove works.  Or in prepper terms the sooner you have secondary burn the less smoke you produce thus lowering you signature related to OPSEC.  To find old tires go to your local land fill or watch for them at garage sales.

My favorite type of wood to burn is dry or seasoned wood.  As stated before I like some soft hardwoods for fire starting purposes, but it is also excellent wood for general burning especially if I am at work and my wife is tending to the fire.  Poplar and basswood tend to light up really fast and get burning nicely without much futzing.  This is nice for my wife since throwing in 3 or 4 pieces of oak or iron wood can leave her with a smoldering smoky fire without much heat and no flames if she does not have a lot of embers to work with.  These smoky fires are also the type of fires that deposit significant amount of creosote in chimneys.  “Hard” hardwoods are great to use when thrown on a robust bed of red coals or mixed with several pieces of softer wood.  So my advise is don’t be a firewood snob and turn your nose up to “inferior” species of trees when accumulating your winter pile because I have found that my wood stove does not care what I burn in it, it all makes heat. 

My final thought about firewood is on how easy is it to split.  Firewood will not season correctly if it is not split and will not burn well in an airtight stove if it is not dry.  Species like American elm and box elder are awful to split and I avoid them, sadly around here these are the two species that your buddy always needs help getting rid of and wonders if you “want the firewood”.  But looking at the glass half full these rounds are not impossible to split just not easy or as fun as some red oak or black ash.  What I do is cut the rounds shorter, around 12 inches and then splitting is easier, maybe still not easy, but easier.   It is good to learn how to recognize different species of trees so that before you cut up or buy a bunch of rounds you know what you will be getting into when it comes to splitting.  (If you think some fresh cut rounds are elm smell it, if it stinks it is probably elm hence the nickname piss elm.  Red elm also sinks but it has a deep red color and this species of elm splits very easily and makes great firewood.)  Box elder has a grayish bark and often has streaks of pink in the rings of the wood when looking at the end of a round. )

Final thoughts
1. Get a wood stove and a good chimney and put it is the right place in your house or retreat.  I have had mine for 5 years and the money I have saved on fuel oil has paid for the stove the chimney and the chainsaw.  It is about 150 gallons of fuel oil for every cord of wood I burn.    
2. Stock up on lots of leather work gloves.  Handling wood can eat up a pair of leather gloves quicker than you like.  I think work gloves could be some of the most valuable barter items in a post SHTF scenario and often not cited as items to stock up on for barter purposes.  Leather repair could make a great post SHTF occupation so keep that in mind. 
3. Cutting wood is hard work.  You could cut out the gym almost altogether if you frequently cut, haul, and hand split your own firewood.  Several articles on SurvivalBlog have addressed physical fitness and wood burning would then be both beneficial for the purposes of one’s health and practical for heating.
4. Shooting practice!  I always carry a pistol with me when I cut.  An inside the waist holder works best tucked in the small of my back because carrying in a holster on my hip got my gun full of wood chips and gave it a scratch on the barrel (now it looks tuff ;)) For my safety I do not have a round chambered while cutting wood because sometimes I get hung up or fall down etc. but I then practice drawing, pulling the slide, and shooting in one smooth motion.  I do that because I know of a guy that shot himself in the heel getting into his vehicle and I have practiced where I can chamber a round pretty quickly if a threat presents itself in the woods (rabid skunk?).  For the target practice a knotted up round makes a great target.  If you are on someone else’s land check with the owner first before you start shooting a lot. 
5. Stock up on ibuprofen and other OTC pain meds.  Cutting wood is hard work and you will get sore.  Once again great barter items because post SHTF will be a lot of hard work.
6. Always be on the lookout for wood sources, it could be neighbors cutting down trees or checking with local farmers if you can cut up some deadfallen trees on their properties.  Compost sites are also great places.      
7. Stress reduction and improved mental health.  I truly enjoy cutting wood.  Time in the woods is relaxing and peaceful while being and feeling productive.  I think God wanted us to heat with wood, to give us a task where we can see and feel the product of our hard word and labor.  There is nothing like the smell of fresh split oak, you gotta try it, or the feel of the radiant warmth from a wood stove.
8. Cost can be expensive, but check Craigslist for airtight stoves.  Many people have become disenchanted with wood burning and “just want to get rid of it.”  I often think it is because too many people try to put the stove in the basement and then the chimney does not work correctly.
9. Cost estimates:
Jotul wood stove $2,500 (can find much cheaper versions used, check online but truly good stove are hard to find used.)
Chimney with instillation $1100 spend the money here and get a good chimney installed correctly that will burn correctly which will keep you safe!
Chain saw Stihl 270 $425 back up Poulan chainsaw $50
Kevlar chainsaw protection chaps $39 woodsman helmet $50 (both have paid for themselves!)
Pistol(s) for target practice $400-600 tell your wife you NEED these.  Ammo? I presently can’t find it
Splitting mauls $160 remember two is one and one is none and possible barter items
Hand saws and sharpening kits $280 the sharpening kit was $160 pull saw $90 but can buy timber saws at flea markets for under $40
Gas, oil, transportation, etc… $???

Rough total: $4,600 (could be a lot less expensive if you buy used equipment)

Savings: I burn about 2-3 cords of wood a year to supplement my fuel oil furnace which I think saves me about 350 gallons of oil a year, maybe more.  At $3 dollars a gallon that saves me over $1000 dollars a year.  I have had my stove for five heating seasons and have probably broken even at this point.  Best news is my stove is still in great shape and should last many more years.

For those who enjoy daily grazing at numerous self-reliance/homesteading/simple living/preparedness/survival sites, here is a nifty new aggregator site: The Independent

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The celebrations in Arkansas may have been premature. There has been some legal hair splitting: Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has issued an opinion on Act 746 of 2013 stating that it does not, in fact, authorize constitutional carry in Arkansas. See Opinion No. 2013-047, dated July 8, 2013.

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Mike Williamson's latest book Tour of Duty: Stories and Provocations will be released in August 6th. In the meantime, Baen Books has made one of Mike's short stories available free, online: The Brute Force Approach.

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CDC Study: Use of Firearms For Self-Defense is ‘Important Crime Deterrent’. And speaking of deterrents: Vancouver man’s gun shooting defense: Biden

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J. McC. mentioned a Map of Botched Paramilitary Police Raids. Thankfully there have been few of these fiascos here in the Redoubt, but it is sad to see excessive force, or misdirected force, anywhere.

"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free." - P.J. O’Rourke (1993)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This is an introduction to collections, charge off, repossession, and the current debt cycle that many good people are finding themselves in. It will be a generalization of the rules and laws as they differ from state to state.
Let me start with my credentials. I have been a collector for the last 14 years. I have worked first party and third party files (the difference between the two will be described herein). The accounts I have worked have ranged from five days past due to 10 to 20 years past charge off. I have worked commercial, Small Business Administration, and consumer accounts, specializing in skip tracing, recovery, bankruptcy, foreclosure, repossession, liquidating the collateral, and litigation. I have called all 50 states and all of the U.S. controlled territories along with some foreign countries. I have personally repossessed everything from pens and pencils to major construction equipment along with foreclosures on personal and business property.
In my years of work I have enjoyed the many times I have been able to help someone find a way out of financial trouble. That is the most satisfying part of my job.
The difference between first party and third party collections.
·         First party is where the originating financial institution maintains and services the bad account.
·         Third party is where the bad account is transferred to an outside company for servicing. This can happen in two ways.
        1.       The originating financial institution transfers the bad account for outside servicing without selling it. The original financial institution maintains control of the account but merely lets the new outside servicer make contact splitting every penny collected between the two companies.
        2.       The originating financial institution sells the bad account to an outside collection agency for generally $0.01 to $0.55 on the dollar depending on the average age and balance of the bad accounts. These are generally sold in what is called portfolios and involve up to hundreds of millions of dollars of bad accounts at a time.
It must be noted that many originating financial institutions have formed their own third party agencies to service the bad accounts with the originating financial institution while operating under a different name, so they can squeeze out every penny before they transfer or sell the accounts.
Moving on to the collections cycle.
The collections cycle begins at five days past due. Your account will be included on a list that a collector will review. We will take many factors into account before we attempt to make contact.
·         The age of the account.
   o   If it is a first payment default it will be worked harder than an account that is halfway through its term length.
·         If the account is secured or unsecured.
   o   If the past due account is a personal loan, credit card, or any other form of unsecured debt it will be worked harder than a secured loan i.e. auto loan, boat loan, house loan. There is more to lose with an unsecured loan as there is nothing to repossess. 
   o   Secured loans are worked and lien position is verified. A good collector will generally know where the collateral for the secured loan is at this point.
At 10 to 15 days past due late fees are assessed to the account. Every financial institution has late fees written into all contracts. It is the bread and butter of the financial institution. Late fees and other service fees keep the lights on and bills paid.
·         If the account was deemed to be low risk and has not had a payment credited to it will be called now. Late Payment Notices will be mailed out. Files will be reviewed for any information pertaining to the debtor.
·         It is important that the debtor be contacted now. As a general rule if an account slips further past due the chances that they will never get current increase greatly every day that goes by and the account remains delinquent.
·         Higher risk secured accounts will receive a personal visit. Pictures will be taken of the collateral and questions will be asked of the debtor. If possible, arrangements will be made to bring the account current.
Personal contact with debtors can be dangerous. I have had one gun pulled on me, threatened with physical violence, almost attacked by dogs, spit on, and yelled at. I understand that the debtor is mad at the situation so I don’t take these things personally. When I have to make face to face contact I have to go with a calm demeanor.  I feel that my attitude and actions will direct a possibly hostile event to be a calm and friendly time. I am not there to make the debtor feel bad or embarrassed. I am there to merely talk and see what is going on so I can help solve the issues before it goes any further. It is better that the loan goes through its life cycle and pay off than charge off, although there are profits to be made if the account charges off.

At 16 to 30 days past due repossession is considered. Repossession depends on risk rating--each financial institution has a risk based lending practices. Where each loan is scored on the credit score, past loan history on the credit bureau, and other condition to come up with an (I feel) arbitrary score that may or may not predict the chances of delinquency--collateral condition, amount owed, and the ratio of the estimated value of the collateral and the amount the debtor owes.
Default letters are sent asking that the debtor bring the account(s) current within a set period of time, generally 15 days depending on state laws.
Skip tracing intensifies if no contact has been made. Most of us have done web searches on our own names. It is harmless to do so and should be done to see what is linked to you. I will “Google” you and use other free web sites to try to find you.
If I am unsuccessful with those web sites I will move on to the not publicly available web sites. These sites are paid for by the financial institution and contain enormous amounts of information. These sites list your information-including your SSN, your relatives' info, neighbors info, past neighbor info,  past addresses for you, your spouse, your family, current and past work info, what assets you have, any legal info-lawsuits, family law, bankruptcies, foreclosures, etc.
Between the information gained from public web sites, nonpublic web sites, and your application I can correlate and get new phone numbers and addresses. Cell phones can be found also so don’t think that those are private, yes even the ones bought at Wal-Mart and other retailers can be found.
***A quick side note, don’t use the grocery store discount cards they sell all the information you give them when you sign up to the non public web sites plus they track what you buy and who knows if they give it to Big Brother or not. Hospitals are another source that can and will sell your information.
If your account is unsecured the credit line may be suspended at this time. Any related accounts may be restricted and inaccessible.
The option of Set Off may be exercised at this time. This means that if you have money in savings it may be applied to the past due loan to make as much of the payment as possible. You will receive a letter called either Notice of Action Taken or Notice of Adverse Action describing the amount and date of the Set Off.
 At 31 to 60 days past due the debtor is now due for two full payments going on three. Chances are very likely that the account will not recover at this time. Most debtors will have to rob Peter to pay Paul now. To add insult to injury more late fees are added to the account. Also, if it is written into the contract, the Default Interest Rate will be applied to the account. Default Interest Rate can be as high as 35% depending on your state laws.  
Demand letters will be sent. The debtor will have between 10 to 15 days to bring the account current depending on state law.
The financial situation for the debtor is very serious and bankruptcy is an option now. From what I have seen, debtors that have one account reach this stage have multiple account that are in the same state or going to be in the same state very soon. A major disruption to the debtor’s financial situation has happened and they need an immediate intervention to save their finances.
I will be pulling your credit report now. What I am looking for is new credit lines, addresses, employers, and credit inquiries. By the time the debtor is 31+ days past due they have been in a financial hardship for around 60 to 90 days prior to reaching 31+ days past due. Financial problems don’t just pop up. They build up over a long period of time. Small setbacks build up over time and snowball into the huge burden that faces them at this point. I will be able to see a pattern of delinquency on your credit report. Also I will be able to see which bank(s) you are paying. This lets me know what you hold as important in your financial world.
This is the point in time when desperation takes over the debtor. They start applying anywhere and everywhere for a loan to get them out of the situation. This is also where banks deny the debtor credit because of current delinquency on the credit report, a vicious Catch 22. And so starts the spiral of payday loans. Payday loans and short term loans are no better than loan sharks and should be avoided at all costs.
You cannot borrow your way out of debt.
If there is collateral securing the loan generally it will be assigned for repossession. The financial institution will hire a third party to locate and secure the collateral. Once the collateral is secured the debtor will receive a letter giving them 10 days to pay off the remaining balance of the loan. If the loan is not paid off then the collateral is sold. The sale-depending on state laws- can either be a private sale where the financial institution sells it directly to another person or public sale such as an auction. After the sale the Recovery process starts. Recovery will be explained below.
Unsecured loans are prepped for charge off now. All information about the debtor is gathered and the information is reviewed with management. The decision to charge off an account is made here and the debtor’s account will be assigned a date to be charged off.
There is a world of difference between WRITTEN OFF and CHARGED OFF.
·         "Written off" means that the financial institution has forgiven the debt and will not be pursuing the deficiency balance. If this happens to you get it in writing that they are forgiving the debt. 
·         "Charged off" means that financial institution has moved the loan from a performing loan to a non-performing loan on the financial institutions accounting books. The debt is still owed.

At 61 to 120 days past due the debtor’s account(s) are past the point of no return. While I have seen debtors come back from this point, it is a rare occurrence.
At 61 days past due the debtor owes two past due payments + late fees and one current payment. If the debtor has a car payment of $350 a month, at 61 days past due he owes a total of $1050 ($350+$350+$350) + late fees just to bring the account current.
The accounts are generally charged off by the time they reach 120 days past due regardless of if the collateral is repossessed or not.
The debtor’s checking and savings accounts may be Set Off and closed to recoup some of the charged off balance.
If the debtor has filed Bankruptcy generally the debt life cycle ends here. There are instances where collections can continue and that explanation deserves a different letter.
I do not fault anyone for filing Bankruptcy. It is allowed by law and should be used to reset the debtor on the right path. The stigma of the past is gone and people are not looked down upon as much now as they were in the past. I advocate that if the debtor is with one of the “Too Big to Fail” banks that they do file bankruptcy.
The Recovery process starts at this point. 
The Recovery Process starts immediately after the account is charged off. The debtor has already had his credit bureau report pulled so there is an idea of where the debtor stands financially. After all the Skip Tracing and the collateral has been repossessed the financial institution now has the debtor’s new address and possibly his employer.
Contact is then made with the debtor. Payment arrangements will be offered although the remaining deficiency balance is now due in full. Remember the account is now Charged Off. It is no longer a performing loan on the financial institution’s books. The financial institution has reported the account to the State and Feds as a loan that is no longer on the books-in essence the defaulted loan may become a tax write-off.
Every penny the financial institution collects now is profit. Depending on the debtor’s state laws interest may still be charged. Again the balance in full is due now. Financial institutions don’t have to ask for payments. If the financial institution chooses to they can sue you for the balance. The financial institution will incur legal fees, which will be added to the deficiency balance making it greater. If they win in court they will seek a monetary judgment and garnishment.
In my former state of residence, somewhere in the Redoubt, the maximum garnishment rate was 35% of each paycheck until the judgment is satisfied (paid in full). Try to live with an income that has been reduced by 35% each paycheck if you are already struggling. Pull out your last pay stub and subtract 35% from it. It turns out to be quite a sum.
If the financial institution deems that it is not economically sound to sue the debtor they can choose to service the account as an internal collection account (First party collections) or transfer or sell the account to an outside collection agency (Third party collections).
In first party collections the charged off account is serviced in-house for six months to one year. After that if the charged off account is not paid, then it is sold or transferred to an outside collection agency.

Welcome to the murky world of Third Party Collections.  
Third party agencies are governed by the FAIR DEBT COLLECTIONS PRACTICES ACT (FDCPA) and various other federal and state laws.
Largely the third party agencies follow the preceding acts and laws.  If they don’t, they are financially liable for any damages that take place if they are sued. The fines start at $1,000 and can go through the roof. Along with this the individual collector can be held financially responsible. Some third party agencies have had fines in the $100,000+ range.
A collector with a third party agency is supposed to recite what is called the Mini Miranda when they contact the debtor (This is _name_ with _company name_ a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt any information obtained will be used for that purpose). If they don’t it is a violation of the FDCPA and can be used against them in court.
Third party agencies are up against the clock for initiating a law suit. Each state law is different pertaining to the Statute of Limitations of debt. The Statute of Limitations only limits the amount of time a financial institution can initiate a lawsuit against the debtor. The Statute of Limitations does not limit the amount of time that the debt can be collected on. Hence why “Zombie Debt” is a catch phrase in the media.
Debts that have exceeded the Statute of Limitations and have also fallen off the debtor’s credit bureau are still collectable. The Statute of Limitations restarts every time there is a payment made on a “Zombie Debt”.  So if you have a “Zombie Debt” and a collection agency calls I recommend that you do not make a payment. As always seek legal counsel and get a professionals opinion about this debt.  
Third party agencies will try anything and everything to get you to pay. It is their job to keep you talking and stumble into making payments. Legally, you don’t have to (As always seek legal counsel and get a professionals opinion about this debt). Morally you should. It is up to you to make that choice.
If the charged off account is not paid on it will be sold to another third party agency. This cycle will continue forever. Like I said I have called on accounts that were close to 20 years old.
Some notes on charged off accounts:
If you have fallen on hard times (I have) and have had an account charge off (I have), don’t feel like it is the end of the earth. If you can, make payment arrangements with the original financial institution. They will probably be more lenient at this point.
If you can’t, and the original financial institution does not sue you, be prepared to receive a lot of calls. You can choose to ignore them or talk to them. Remember third party agencies are paid a wage plus a bonus for each dollar collected.  
A little suggestion for the third party agency calls;
·         Record them if it is legal to do so.
·         While on the phone with the collector be courteous and pleasant. Let the collector be the aggressor.
·         Do not let them bully you.
·         Do not let them argue with you.
·         Do not let them call you names.
·         They cannot, if the account is outside the Statute of Limitations, threaten to sue and garnish you.
·         There is no such thing as a Debtors Prison. You cannot go to jail for a debt unless you committed fraud. As always seek legal counsel and get a professionals opinion about this debt
My personal views on charged off accounts:
Bad things happen to good people.
As a collector I try to understand what happened that caused the account to charge off. For the most, part people are well intentioned and mean to pay for what they buy or incur through other means. I will treat you with all respect that you deserve. You are still a brother or sister under God and I have a responsibility to treat you kindly.
Bankruptcy is a personal choice. The world we live in today does not look down on it as much as they have in the past.  I do not fault you for using a legal means to get a fresh start on life. You would be surprised how much the pile of debt weighs on you and how liberated you feel after the bankruptcy is over. Just please learn your lesson and don’t do it again.
I have had hard times and fallen behind on my bills too. I am human and make human mistakes.
I'll close with an inside joke: Debt collectors are some of the hardest people to collect from. We know the rules of the game.

Dear CPT Rawles,
My wife and I, along with our three teenage son', are now eyeball deep in prepping, and have reached that stage where we pretty much have most of everybody's personal gear needs met, with the exception of a few small items here and there.  We opted to take care of that first, as we are stuck temporarily east of the mississippi, in the southeastern US.  Our intent when we began our prepping journey a couple years ago, was first & foremost to be able to make a hasty exit from this area if the SHTF.  Thus, our decision to gear up first, was to provide what we needed for our escape from here, and our trek to the redoubt, to my folks ranch in Wyoming, by whatever means necessary. That done, last year we took your advice on relocation to the American Redoubt, and purchased a small, undeveloped ranch property in northernmost Idaho, and I do mean very northernmost.  We are now only 320 days and a wake up from moving day.  While continuing to work on other details such as retreat construction, security, etc.  We've now come to the arena of agricultural issues.  We need some help because frankly, we must not be looking in the right areas for the information we are seeking, because we keep coming up basically empty.  We could only afford 11 acres (although it is paid off), about four of which is what I guess you might call bottom land, and I would think could be used as pasture if so desired, and has a small creek running through it.  The rest is up above it, and is basically flat and timbered, except for a cleared homesite, in what I would consider to be a small meadow, looking out over the bottom land.  It backs up to BLM land. Our property is vaguely in the Bonners Ferry region.  

Now, with that as the background, here is our issue.  Our goal is to reach a reasonable level of self reliance from the standpoint of renewable food resources, i.e. gardening and livestock.  We want to grow our own produce, as well as raise our own livestock.  There are so many different opinions floating around out there about nutritional needs, and how to meet them, that it's absolutely overwhelming, and now the only thing floating around here, are my eyeballs!   We've followed your blog for these past two years, and even written you in the past, because you are always so thought out and researched in the basis for your opinions, and the readership at Survival Blog has such a wide diversity of expertise.  Thus we thought we would seek out the advice and experience of yourself and our fellow blog readers, should this get printed.

Question #1:  All members of my family are adults, physically speaking as the youngest is 15, and the oldest is, well, in the interest of domestic tranquility we better not go there, but I can safely say not yet anywhere near retirement age.  What are our actual nutritional needs.  We are all healthy and have no significant physical problems to speak of.

Question #2:  Regarding garden produce, and it is my understanding that you and your family grow produce for your own consumption, do you have any recommendations on produce that will grow well in my area of northern Idaho, and help meet those needs?  Is irrigation required?  What is the growing season like there, and is a greenhouse necessary?  How in the world do you decide how much you need to plant for a family of a given size?  Is there a problem with deer and other garden pests, if deer are a problem how high of a fence is required to keep them out We are debating if a 6' fence would keep them out?

Question #3:  Regarding livestock for consumption, my wife is familiar with cattle, more so than I am, although we are both thinking that it may be easier, more prudent, and safer to raise smaller livestock such as dairy and meat goats, pasture pigs perhaps, ducks, and perhaps even rabbits.  Things that are smaller and more easily handled, not only in interacting with, but also from the standpoint of meat processing.  Any recommendations or suggestions we should research?  How do you go about determining how much pasture is needed for this various livestock?  What about livestock predation by cats, wolves, or bears, does this pose much of an issue up there.  
We read news articles about the wolves killing the hunting dogs of the mountain lion hunters, and wonder if there are any problems they pose with livestock or people even who are out hiking, camping, hunting etc?  We were thinking of bringing two Great Pyrenees as guard dogs if that is that a common practice up there.

Thanks in advance for any input yourself, or any of the readers may be able to give us, either from personal experience. or to simply help us better focus our efforts. 

Thanks for the great service you do us all with this blog!
Highest regards, - D. & M.

JWR Replies: Self-sufficiency on just 11 acres is doable, if you have a southern or western exposure and you clear most of it for gardening and hay cutting. There is no need to maintain a wood lot on your own property, considering the abundance of timber in North Idaho. No matter where you are, there is copious wood available or firewood and fence posts available with an inexpensive annual family wood cutting permit from the US Forest service. They have a 7-foot 11-inch length limit, for haul outs, to keep people from commercially cutting trees to mill into lumber. Cedar trees are common in north Idaho, and with those you will have fence posts covered. (Seven feet is the ideal length, for fence posts.) And Western Larch (commonly called Tamarack) as well as Red Fir are both also quite common, and make fantastic firewood.

According to our family's primary gardener (my wife, "Avalanche Lily"), the vegetables that do best in north Idaho are: Celery, potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini squash, short-season variety pumpkins, onions, turnips, strawberries, raspberries, black raspberries, and most herbs. Most cold-weather tolerant varieties of vegetables and fruit trees do quite well.

Getting a good crop of melons and tomatoes and some squash can be a challenge in many years, because of the short growing season. So Lily recommends short growing season varieties such Siberian tomatoes and Blacktail watermelons. It is best to get an early start with your seedlings, through use of a window box, cold frames, or better yet a proper greenhouse if you afford to buy or build one.

As for fencing, a six-foot tall fence is just marginal to keep out deer, even on level ground. In the Inland Northwest, a eight-foot tall fence is ideal. But be advised that if an elk, moose, or bear really wants in to your garden, be prepared to re-build your fence.

You also asked about livestock predation by "...cats, wolves, or bears." Your list is incomplete! Here in the Inland Northwest, you need to beware of: coyotes, wolves, bobcat, lynx, mountain lions (pumas), black bears, grizzly bears, badgers, wolverines, skunks, raccoons, golden eagles, bald eagles, several types of hawks, several types of owls, and numerous types of small furbearers such as marten and stoats/ermine. If you have a fish pond, otters and and osprey can also be a menace.

Penning up your chickens at night is a must! And depending on the meanderings of the local wolves and mountain lions, it may be necessary to pen up your sheep and goats in an enclosed barn every night, as well. Attacks on horses and cattle by wolves or bears are less common, but when they do happen, the results are often devastating. Typically, even if an animal survives the attack, it will be beyond recovery and need to be destroyed. Great Pyrenees are an excellent choice for this climate, particularly for guarding sheep or as companion dogs when hiking or huckleberry picking. (Although you will also want to carry Pepper Spray or Lead Spray (.44 or .45 caliber.) It is important that they bond with the sheep and become accustomed to staying out with the flock. (They won't do any good if they are kept inside your house!)

I heard from the folks at Mulligan Mint that the one ounce American Redoubt silver coins, are still selling well, and they have cleared most of their order backlog. When I last checked they only had about 500 ounces in Redoubt coins left to fulfill, and they expected to mail all of those this week. But anyone placing orders henceforth can still expect delays of up to three weeks, during times of peak demand. (Whenever spot silver dips below $20 per Troy ounce, the floodgates open.) For some perspective: The U.S. Mint reported that it sold a whopping 27.6 Million Silver Eagles in just the first two weeks of July. (Perhaps a typo.) No wonder that there are backlogs!

M.E.W. suggested this article and video segment: Kyle Bass: The next 18 months will redesign the economic orthodoxy in the West

What Is Driving Gold Now?

R.B.S. sent news of yet another government scheming to deprive its citizenry of that "barbarous relic": Granny’s Gold Bars Are Key to Vietnam Push to Boost Dong

Items from The Economatrix:

Gold Price Crash Is Over:  Jim Sinclair

The World Is Becoming Increasingly Unstable, Global Markets Could Be Due For A Shock

Why Is Living In America Becoming Harder And Harder These Days?

Reader S.M. mentioned two more all-American field gear makers:

  • 215 Gear Store - Slings, belts, chest rigs, plate carriers, hydration packs, K9 rigs, gloves, and more.
  • Ice Tactical  - Best known for their chest rigs. They also make belts, a wide variety of mag pouches, and a great poncho liner. 

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By way of Ol' Remus at The Woodpile Report, I learned of this link: The Ten Oldest Military Vehicles Still In Service. Remus says: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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Some French Canadians are fed up with globalism, too: Réveille "Nous sommes la résistance" ("We are the Resistance.")

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The NBC network has announced a new show: "Get Out Alive" with Bear Gryllis.

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Thousands to lose water for days in southern Maryland amid heat wave

"The best government is the one that charges you the least blackmail for leaving you alone." - Thomas Rudmose-Brown (1996)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Please pray for the people in flood-ravaged northern India, where nearly 6,000 are missing and presumed dead.

Dear Mr Rawles,

This letter is in response to the piece on using photovoltaics to charge batteries by C.K.. I feel I should spend some time discussing some potential problems with charging Lithium Ion ("Li-ion") batteries the way C.K. proposes. However first a few general notes.

- I am all for scavenging if you know what you are doing like some of us. But 'newbies' are better off not trying to disassemble anything more complicated than a desktop power supply for safety reasons as JWR pointed
out. I should add that the process that causes the 'bounce' after discharge also keeps some capacitors charged much longer than you would imagine possible.

Secondly if you only need some diodes or resistors, you can buy a batch of 100 for a few dollars on-line which will give you a lifetime supply. Just look for vendors with a 99%+ positive rating and 10,000+ feedback. If you don't like eBay et al., try Aussie firm Futurlec. Your spare parts will come in handy someday when we realize we cannot afford to throw everything away.

- I have no problems with C.K.'s instructions and wouldn't have bothered to write in if he had used NiCd or NiMH batteries because they can handle
some degree of overcharging, which is bound to happen in his setup if you are shooting for full capacity. For NiCd and NiMH the rule of thumb is that if they start to feel warmer than ambient temperature, they are either full or you are charging them at too high a rate. So even if you have no voltmeter handy, you can have a pretty good idea what is going on. And if you charge them in a solar charger, make sure the batteries themselves (and their housing) are shaded because heat from any source degrades battery life expectancy rather quickly.

- Li-ion cells, on the other hand, cannot cope with overcharging without some form of problems popping up. A 3.7V cell should not be charged to a voltage higher than 4.2V. Prolonged charging above 4.3V destabilizes the cell and causes CO2 to be formed inside it. The charging current will be automatically cut off if the cell's internal pressure rises to 200 psi. However this doesn't immediately stop the chemical reactions and if pressure rises to 500 psi the cell starts venting the CO2. Depending on the exact circumstances, thermal runaway may occur and the cell can burst into flames.

- Charging current isn't a big issue with Li-ion as it can absorb large initial currents and when the cell reaches capacity it will throttle that current anyway. Of course for charging with solar panels this is a problem because it will cause their output voltage to rise which is exactly what we don't need.

- Li-ion cells cannot be trickle charged; they must be disconnected once full because constant charging causes metallic lithium plating which can compromise the safety of the cell.

- 3.7V Li-ion cells need to be charged for 3 hours at 4.2V to reach maximum capacity. Shorter charge times and/or lower voltages lead to reduced charges (= shorter runtime). Consumer products chargers usually are programmed for maximum runtime, but if you can live with shorter runtime between charges, its better to charge at a lower voltage which will give you a longer useful battery life.

- The 3 hour time frame is predicated on the fact that your charger can deliver 0.8C to 1C of current for the first stage of the charging process (i.e. until the cell reaches 4.1V). If your cell is rated at 2000mAh (=2Ah), then 1C = 2 Amps. For large battery packs that means a lot of amps. Lower maximum current is actually beneficial for the cell but requires a longer charge time.

- Taking all of the above together, I would say that charging Li-ion without a good deal of checking voltages can be rather tricky. This is exacerbated by the large variance in the output of a solar cell related to its angle to the sun, cloud cover, etc. Please keep in mind that just because charging a cell works fine once or twice doesn't mean its safe. A lot of the damage done by overcharging Li-ion batteries is cumulative because the chemical processes involved are irreversible. That is, your battery may kill itself (or worse) after ten trips to your solar charger.

- If you are a new or wannabe tinkerer, I would say make small panels that can deliver around 10V-12V (open circuit) and 1 Amp. If you connect that to a 7.4V battery pack (= multiple cells), its unlikely you will seriously overcharge the pack unless you leave it out in the full sun for several days. If you want to use large panels: do yourself a favor and buy a commercial 12V Li-ion charger.

- For dyed-in-the-wool tinkerers there is yet another solution: you can build yourself a small charge controller that drives the charge current to near zero as it approaches a preset voltage. Its parts list contains 6 items and its fits on a square inch if you are really pressed for real estate. What you need is: - 3 metal film resistors (1% tolerance - 2x 10K and 1x 3.9K) - 1 zener diode (6.2V - any wattage is fine - other voltages work too but require different resistor values) - 1 op-amp (rail to rail switching - I use a CA3140) - 1 solid state switch (power MOSFET or transistor with high amp rating - I prefer IRL7833)

The circuit works very simple: the zener diode creates a reference voltage for the op-amp. The op-amp compares the battery voltage to this reference voltage. If the battery voltage is lower it closes the switch and if the battery voltage is higher it opens the switch. One of the 10K resistors limits the current through the zener diode and the other 2 resistors form a voltage divider that maps the battery voltage to the reference voltage range. To calculate the proper resistor sizes for the voltage divider use the following formula (this formula only works if your base resistor is tied to ground): resistor size = target voltage / reference voltage * base resistor size - base resistor size

A 6.2V zener diode gives a 6.1V reference voltage when fed through a 10K resistor.
Targeting 8.4V (2x4.2V) while using a 10K base resistor gives us: resistor size = 8.4/6.1*10K-10K = 3.77K.
I would use a 3.9K resistor here because wires and solder joints have small resistances too so the voltage measured at the battery tends to be .1V - .2V below the charge controller's calculated target voltage and you quickly lose a lot of capacity if you charge Li-ion at voltages below 4.1V. The narrow band of target voltages (4.1V-4.2V) is also the reason to use metal film resistors. Carbon type resistors can have tolerances between 5% and 20%. Putting those numbers in the above formula quickly points out its a waste of time building the charge controller with those.

- The circuit uses a common ground for batteries, solar panel and other components; so all ground references must be tied together with the negative leads of the solar cells and batteries.
- IRL7833 pin 1 (left most pin if front facing) connects to op-amp pin 6
- IRL7833 pin 2 connects to solar panel positive lead
- IRL7833 pin 3 connects to battery positive lead
- op-amp pin 1 not connected
- op-amp pin 2 connects to voltage divider center position (between
- op-amp pin 3 connects to positive side zener diode (where the band is)
- op-amp pin 4 connects to ground
- op-amp pin 5 not connected
- op-amp pin 6 connects to IRL7833 pin 1
- op-amp pin 7 connects to IRL7833 pin 2 / solar panel positive lead
- op-amp pin 8 not connected
- zener diode positive side (band) and op-amp pin 2 connect to battery
positive lead through a 10K resistor
- zener diode negative side connects to ground
- voltage divider = battery positive lead -> 3.9K resistor -> 10K resistor -> ground

Heat sinks:
For very low currents (< .5A) your solid state switch doesn't need a heat sink. For currents up to 2 amps a small heat sink will do (think soup can lid). Beyond that you should look into using an aluminum heat sink. If you really want to go overboard (the IRL7833 handles 250A): seal your circuit in a peanut butter jar full of vegetable oil and submerge it in a brook - you now have a near infinite heat sink.

This controller's output is not an ideal match for Li-ion batteries but comes close enough to the requirements that you can leave it out in the sun all day without endangering your batteries. Though in sunny weather I would think 4-5 hours charging time is plenty if your solar panel is adequately sized. Most likely you will notice the batteries charging somewhat slower during stage one and converging close to the ideal curve during the saturation stage of the process.

With a volt meter it may look like this controller acts as a variable resistor but it doesn't. Connecting it to an oscilloscope shows it to be a real pulse charger (your batteries will thank you for this!) with variable duty cycle and operating frequency. A 12V version of the controller connected to an old motorcycle battery ran at around 300 kHz while topping up the battery. Its duty cycle was mostly determined by the amount of power absorbed by the battery at any given time.

- For advanced tinkerers: you can replace the op-amp with a micro-controller, omit the zener diode and add a circuit to deliver the proper voltage for the micro-controller. Read the battery voltage through the voltage divider. Again the use of metal film resistors is crucial here. The charging algorithm for Li-ion is very simple and straightforward to program but you may have already realized that from reading the points above.

And finally if you want lots of info on all kinds of batteries: spend some time at BatteryUniversity.com. Regards, - D.P.

I just want to say that I find it amazing how most people, including well-known commentators, go round and round about guns versus crime. This point has been beaten to death, but the gun control crowd wants it to continue. Please folks, realize that the purpose is to disarm the civilian population and has little or nothing to do with public safety. Government safety is what is at stake and as long as the reality can be deflected away from the disarmament purpose, the discussion about public safety is fine! Why does the word stupid come to mind? - Phil in Fort Lauderdale

Jumbo Mumbo Jumbo: Treasury: Debt Has Been Exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 for 56 Days. (Thanks to Darin Mc.C. for the link.)

Fraud Confirmed: 100-Day Delay to Take Bullion Delivery in London

Deutsche Bank Opaque Loans From Brazil to Italy Hide Risk

It is sad to see The Daily Bell closing down. I've been a reader since back before their name was truncated. I'm also someone who observed the SEC's merciless attack on Anthony Wile's good name. (Lesser men would have called it quits, but to his credit, he persevered.) The good news is that all of The Daily Bell content will be archived. OBTW, I'd be curious to know where (geographically) Daily Bell Editor Anthony Wile has Gone Galt. I wish him the best, wherever he is.

Items from The Economatrix:

In Race To Bottom, US Dollar Falls Behind

Wholesale Inventories Fall, Likely Drag On GDP Growth

Credit Crunch Right Around The Corner: US Senators Introduce Bill To Break Up Megabanks, Bring Back Glass-Steagall, FRB To Implement Basel III Capital Reforms And To End QE This Year (Not Slow End)

K.T. liked a piece over at Journey To Forever on Hydraulic Ram Pumps.

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Peter S. suggested this privacy service: SecuredURL.org

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For those interested in registered suppressors, reader C.K. suggested an interesting, lengthy (and photo-intensive) look inside the cans from many popular makers, with lots of discussion about different baffle designs and those dreaded baffle strikes. While these accessories available over the counter sans papiere in many European countries, here in the United States suppressors requires a $200 Federal transfer tax payment before delivery. Constructing your own without first paying the Federal tax is a felony that can land you in prison for several years. (And like any other felony will result is a lifetime loss of gun ownership and voting rights.) Don't risk it!

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A gent over at The FALFiles recommended an article about Jason Everman: Kicked out of Nirvana and kicked out of Soundgarden, only to become a Special Forces hero. His life story is good fodder for a biography, or would make a great movie.

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Ted Nugent: Zimmerman verdict vindicates citizen patrols, self-defense

"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he , if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind..... The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation;those who dissent from the opinion,still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit , the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error." - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This is the 34th anniversary of the 1979 death in battle of Hugh John McCall, a New York City native who was a volunteer in the Rhodesian Army. He was a sergeant in the 3 Commando of the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI.)


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

While discussing the potential for a gun ban in the United States I realized that the pro-gun-ban people genuinely believe that banning guns will save lives. In an attempt to facilitate debate I discovered that getting down to the numbers helps discover where their math is different from the pro-gun position, it is these points we can focus on to help them see the light. I put this sequence of equations on a spreadsheet but you can talk someone through them without one. For each value get the person you are speaking to, to give you their value. I've using example numbers with a typical anti-gun leaning.

A: Population: That's an easy one, about 311,000,000.

B: Number of people killed with guns in America each year, I don't have exact figures for this but it's about 6,500. [JWR Adds: According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, the actual figure was around 11,100 in 2011, and has been in decline since 1993.]

C: The percentage of people who would be saved if guns were banned, lets say 50%. (Clearly it's not 100%, since illegal guns would still be used, while pro-gun people may claim that the number would actually increase, lets not waste our time on this point just now.)

D: The number of additional people who would be killed because criminals would become bolder with less to fear from disarmed victims and would-be-victims who today can defend themselves who would be helpless once disarmed, lets say 200.

So, the total killed with easy access to guns = B (6,500) Total killed without easy access to guns = B*C+D (3,450). Pro-gun people typically get bogged down at this point debating these figures, but they are only one piece of the story and it's a small piece. Agree to disagree and move on, say something like "While I disagree with those figures let's accept them for now and move on." What about government-driven Genocide events against their own people? These occur very infrequently, but when they do the loss of life is often in the millions. The problem is they are very hard to calculate and most anti-gun people put the chances at zero. This is where the pro-gun argument clearly defeats the anti-gun argument it's here we want to spend our time opening the mind of the the anti-gun people. Estimating the probability of a genocidal event initiated by the US government and the resultant loss of life is very hard so let's look at the world average for the 20th Century:

E: Average population of the world during the 20th Century. Obviously this varied but let's say that the populated started about 5,000 Million and ended about 7,000 Million. So the average is about 6,000 Million.

F: Number of people killed by their own governments in genocidal actions during the 20th Century: 170 Million. (You can find evidence to back this number up pretty easily just by a quick web search)

G: Number of people killed by their own governments as a yearly average during the 20th Century = F/100 = 1.7 Million

H: Probability of a person being killed per year by their own governments as a yearly average during the 20th Century = G/E = 1.7M/6000M = 0.000283

I: Average number of Americans killed per year by their own government in genocidal actions = H * A = 88,116 That is roughly 88,000 Americans would die on average each year if the American government were capable of and intent upon taking some form of genocidal action against the American people. Of course it wouldn't be 88,000 each and every year, it's more likely to be 200 times this number once every 200 years or something similar but we're dealing with averages here. Now the anti-gun people will typically walk right into you logical arms by pointing out that America is not a 'typical world country', it's existed longer than 200 years without a Genocidal event. (Let's not get into discussing some of the things Americans did to the aboriginal ("First Nation") people some of which look very like genocide). "A genocidal event is less likely to happen in America", they will cry. Is it? Why is that? Oh yes, it's because the 2nd Amendment allows the population to be armed to discourage any such attempt!

J: The probability that a Genocidal event would be attempted given an armed population: Let's say 25%? It could happen but it's a lot less likely.

K: The percentage loss of life if a Genocidal event were to be tried against an armed population versus an unarmed population, certainly people would still die but it's probably going to be fewer people because the people will be able to defend themselves. Even if it's only by being able to lay down covering fire while they flee. Let's be 'generous' to the anti-gun people and say no fewer than 80%.

So looking at Genocidal events we have Without guns: = I = 88,116 people / year With guns = I * J * K = 88,116 * 0.25 * 0.8 = 17,623 people / year

Totals so far: Losses of life with an Armed population per year: 6,500 + 17,623 = 24,234 Losses of life with an unarmed population per year: 3.450 + 88,116 = 91,566. We can stop here and try and let those numbers sink in. An Anti-gun America doesn't save 3,050 lives a year (6,500 - 3,450). Long term, on average, it would cost 67,443 lives a year (91,566 - 24,123).

Or if you want to hammer things home you can do similar estimations based on loss of life from any external country attempting to invade America. Once again an America with an armed civilian population is less likely to be attacked and the losses will be smaller as the population can defend (or worst case lay down cover for a retreat) versus an unarmed population who are ripe for slaughter.

Also you can point out that the 1.7 Million people killed by genocidal events per year by their governments in the 20th Century is an average across the whole world. If you look at the events behind these figures in detail you see that by far the majority of these were killed after government disarmed the people. Thus logically these killings are less likely to happen to an armed population and more likely to happen to an unarmed population.

We reduced the value above (factor J) for an armed population but we didn't increase it for an unarmed one (I). Without knowing what percentage of the world population were armed versus disarmed across the 20th Century we can't really include this in our calculations but we can be confident that the average of 88,116 deaths per year for a population the size of America is a very conservative figure, it's probably well over 100,000.


Regarding your recent comparison of Jackson County, Florida, with Lewis, County, Idaho: I lived in Marianna in 2001 and worked at a bank.  I wouldn't recommend it at all, as a location to move to, unless you are from the South.  I actually was turned down for [membership in] the local quilt guild because I was from the North, and one business owner told me another time that they just wished we'd come down, drop our money and leave.  It is not a friendly area [to outsiders].  "Paul Revere" needs to recheck his facts. The main employers there are the seven prisons... 

If you are from the North, they do not want anything to do with you.  I did some volunteer work at a Habitat for Humanity thrift store, and directed seven [inmates on probation] ("probies") there.

The Jackson County Floridian is their paper.  Anyone considering moving there might want to follow up on that.

After a year, I'd had enough and returned to Missouri.

Just some thoughts. - Kathi L.

Is your "Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course" currently available online the same course that was sold in print form in 2006, or is it an updated version?
Thanks, - Joe R.

JWR Replies: The course content is essentially unchanged from the 2006 edition. Only the price (dramatically less) and the delivery method (download only) have changed.

I would also recommend the Emergency Response Guidebook published jointly by the USDOT and Canadian and Mexican Transportation agencies. This reference (ERG) lets you identify the material being transported by pipeline, tanker truck, or railcar. As a guide for First Responders to a HazMat accident, it also lists specific hazards and evacuation distances in the event of spill or fire.

I use this book to evaluate how at risk I am to accidents involving bulk materials being transported nearby. You need to pay attention to the placard (label) information on the side of the tanker. In my community I frequently see tanker trucks and railcars placarded "2448 Molten Sulfur". Looking up Sulfur, Molten in the Emergency Response Guidebook tells me it is a flammable solid, and that I should stay upwind and evacuate at least 330 feet away from a spill. The evacuation zone increases to 1/2 mile if there is a risk of fire. My homestead is several miles from the nearest train tracks so my concern of exposure after a derailment of cars carrying molten sulfur is limited. I am, however, prepared to stay upwind and leave the proximity of a highway or rail crossing accident involving molten sulfur-carrying tankers.

A search on the internet for "MSDS + molten sulfur" provides me with the Material Safety Data Sheet for molten sulfur. Reading the Fire & Explosion Hazards section tells me that these tankers may vent the toxic gas hydrogen sulfide if exposed to heat , thus the need to stay upwind of an accident.

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards is valuable for letting you know how to protect yourself against personal health hazards when working with various chemicals, but alone doesn't address spill/fire/explosion protocols. - Carol J.

A reminder: Don't miss the upcoming Patriots and Self-Reliance Rally at Farragut State Park, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, July 26, 27 & 28, 2013. There will be several SurvivalBlog advertisers with booths there. The speakers will include Stewart Rhodes, Sheriff Richard Mack, Pastor Chuck Baldwin, Dale Pearce, Kris Anne Hall, and Cope Reynolds.

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R.B.S. sent: Idaho cyclist survives scary wolf chase

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Troy H. sent this: Montana the first state to pass electronic devices spy law.

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For those who have been unable to find a church home (perhaps because of living in a very remote region, or because your local churches are all too doctrinally astray), I should mention the Children of the Free online church, based in eastern Idaho. Their services are streamed live on Sundays at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. Doctrinally, Pastor Charles Garcia's virtual home church ministry is similar to that of the late Dr. Gene Scott's Faith Center church in Glendale, California. He preaches salvation by Grace and Faith alone. Garcia's focus is exegetical preaching and "Faith in action." While he has an order of worship that does not begin with prayer and while I recognize some distinct doctrinal differences, I was impressed with the depth of his Biblical scholarship.

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Doug C. wrote to mention a garden tool blacksmith based in Bozeman, Montana. Tuli Fisher's hand-forged tools have amazing quality. He travels regularly to Arts and Crafts faires in the Northwest.

File under: Predictable Posturing: Obama: Honor Trayvon Martin by battling gun violence. JWR's Comment: Statists like BHO of course want "gun control." But I assert that gun control was used. Consider that Zimmerman fired just one shot, center of mass, and pulled the trigger only after the situation was truly and clearly life-threatening. (Zimmerman was pinned to the ground and his head was being repeatedly slammed on the sidewalk, and he feared that he was going to pass out.) Waiting until then showed tremendous control. That was certainly a lot more gun control than some police display. I'm sure that there will also be calls to overturn or weaken Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. But it is clear that the law worked. Too bad that it took a lengthy and very expensive trial to prove the point.

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Over at Seasoned Citizen Prepper: Imagine for a Moment the Reality of an EMP Event

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Here is a web site similar to The American Rifleman magazine's long-running The Armed Citizen column, featuring the news stories that the liberal media does not put on Page One about the proper use of firearms in self-defense, but with greater detail: Rationality Rebooted. Their mapping correlation of these events is a nice touch. Note how relatively few of these news articles are generated in The American Redoubt. More guns equals less crime. (Thanks to A.C. in Pennsylvania for the link.)

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Matt C. mentioned a company that recycles military surplus, benefiting veterans.

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Not to make light of a tragedy, but to emphasize the need for journalistic fact-checking: Epic KTVU Fail: Anchor Reports Pilot Names Including ‘Sum Ting Wong’ and ‘Wi Tu Lo’. (In this instance, they actually checked with the NTSB, but a summer intern with the agency erroneously confirmed the names.) The airline is now considering a lawsuit.

"I am more concerned about the return of my money than the return on my money." - Mark Twain

Monday, July 15, 2013

I recently found a YouTube slide show that is a good example of flawed statistical analysis: Economic Collapse Survival Map - Risk Analysis of best area in United States. In it, you will see how "Paul Revere" narrowed his search down to just Jackson County, Florida. While I'm sure that he was well-intentioned, this gent seems to have assigned undue weight on the factor of year-round crop production. In my estimation, if the power grids go down the key factors in survivability will be population density and proximity to urban areas rather than the ability to grow tomatoes in January.

As an example, let's compare some statistics for Jackson County, Florida with Lewis County, Idaho. (I tried to pick a small county in the Redoubt with a similar land area.)

Jackson County, Florida:

Population: 49,746
Land Area: 954 square miles
Population Density: 54 per square mile
Institutionalized population: 5,690 (0.11 per county resident)
Number of cattle: 27,000 (0.542 per county resident)
Average size of farms: 247 acres
Average value of agricultural products sold per farm: $39,641
Total Cropland in County: 114,428 acres

Crime (in 2005):
Murders: 1
Rapes: 9
Robberies: 7
Assaults: 135
Burglaries: 236
Thefts: 354
Auto thefts: 33

Nearest Large City: Tallahassee
Population of Tallahassee: 181,376
Distance: 57 Miles (from Marianna)

Florida State Population: 19,317,568
State Population Density: 415.3 inhabitants per square mile

Lewis County, Idaho:

Population: 3,821
Land Area: 479 square miles
Population Density: 8 per square mile
Institutionalized population: 17 (.004 per county resident)
Number of cattle: 4,800 (1.256 per county resident)
Average size of farms: 1,224 acres
Average value of agricultural products sold per farm: $156,792
Total Cropland in County: 137,342 acres

Crime (in 2004):
Murders: 0
Rapes: 0
Robberies: 0
Assaults: 8
Burglaries: 18
Thefts: 39
Auto thefts: 6

Nearest Large City: Spokane, Washington
Population of Spokane: 210,103
Distance: 166 Miles (from Kamiah)

Idaho State Population: 1,595,728
State Population Density: 19.15 inhabitants per square mile

So... Where will you feel safer when the power grids go down, and when presumably a good portion of the institutionalized population could walk out the door?

I should mention that the difficulties of surviving a societal collapse in Florida are described my upcoming novel Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse. Granted, it is set in more populous central Florida (in the vicinity of Tavares) but a lot of the same problems would be evident: a large retiree population; an electric grid dependent on natural-gas fired power plant; an overall high population density; urban centers teeming with welfare-dependent people; a population that is largely disconnected from agrarian self-sufficiency; lack of respect for private property; large prison, jail, and hospital populations; and a fairly high crime rate.

But I must also mention one positive factor in Florida: Because of the high crime rate, the population has widely embraced concealed carry of firearms in the past decade. (Florida is nicknamed "The Gunshine State," and has the highest per-capita number of concealed carry permits in the nation There are one million CCW permit holders in the state!)

In Idaho, few people feel the need to do so, but open carry of guns is perfectly legal both inside and outside of city limits, vehicular open carry is also legal both inside and outside of city limits, and no-permit concealed carry is allowed outside of city limits. (Which means 98% of the State.) And if you do want a concealed carry permit, then their issue is non-discretionary and affordable in Idaho. - J.W.R.

I spent more than half my life involved in the martial arts - and not just one style, either. I started out in Judo, and earned my Black Belt in this style. I went on to study several different styles of Karate, as well as Kung Fu. I hold Black Belt rank in five different styles of martial arts, with my highest Black Belt ranking a 6th Degree. Not bragging, not in the least, as I honestly believe that when you get your Black Belt, you are then a very serious student of the martial arts. I have adapted what I learned over 35 years and developed a street style of martial arts, for real-life self-defense, not for winning trophies. Whenever someone came to me, for training, I asked them why they wanted to learn martial arts techniques. If they said they wanted to win trophies, I directed them to another school. At one time, I ran four different schools, and all we taught were self-defense fighting techniques.
My advanced students - Black Belts - were afforded the opportunity to train in knife and gun fighting techniques, as well as unarmed techniques they learned from me. Having been around knives all my life, and tested them and written about them for a lot of years, I think I have a pretty good grasp on what makes a good fighting knife. I've also designed several fighting knives over the years, with my latest design sitting here on my desk - trying to decide which knife company I should send it to, for a possible collaboration, and get it into customer's hands, as an affordable fixed blade fighter - custom handmade versions are available, but I want to get factory made versions out there, at affordable prices.
I received several requests from SurvivalBlog readers to test the new Columbia River Knife & Tool Otanashi noh Ken Model 2906  - and this is a new model for 2013, and I spent two weeks pouring over the new CRKT 2013 catalog and completely missed requesting one of these knives for testing. I contacted Rod Bremer, the owner of CRKT and requested a sample, and Rod always comes through - they were sold out, but they managed to find one in the warehouse for me...this knife is in great demand right now, so be advised.
The 2906 was designed by James Williams, who has designed several knives for CRKT over the past several years. Williams is a military veteran and a current martial arts practitioner/instructor. So, it comes as no surprise that he knows cutlery. His Hissatsu knife designs have become a favorite with military Special Forces around the world. I like his Hissatsu designs and own most or all of them, but the Model 2906 really added something to his already famous design - it's one of those things that is hard to explain, but easy to understand, once you get the knife in your hand. the 2906 is a further design refinement on the Hissatsu line-up from Williams.
Many knives are designed for several tasks, and that's not a bad thing. However, the 2906 is purpose-driven, and it was designed for one thing, and one thing only - to be used as a weapon . The 2906 was designed for SOCOM (Special Operations Command) as a primary or a secondary weapon to augment the handgun in the hands of well-trained professionals. Again, this knife is purpose-driven - it is a weapon, not a hunting knife, or a knife to be used around the kitchen - although it could be. However, it was not designed for these purposes.
The Otanashi noh Ken has an AUS 8 stainless steel blade, one of my favorites because it is affordable and easy to re-sharpen, and it will do all you ask of it. The Rockwell hardness is 58-59 - which is just right. The blade is 4.52-inches long - so this is a blade that can reach out there and touch someone. CRKT describes this blade style as a Clip Point - I guess it could be called that - albeit a very modified Clip Point design. The grind in hollow and the edge is plain. The finish is bead blasted, with a black corrosion resistant finish - very tactical looking. The lock-up is from the CRKT Frame Lock design, a very strong one - where one side of the handle actually locks the blade open ,and the other side of the handle is G10 scales - tough stuff. There is also the LAWKS manually operated locking device, that turns this folder into a virtual fixed  blade knife. The pocket clip allows for very deep carry in the pocket and it is NOT reversible - it is a one position clip. Opened the 2906 is 10.13-inches and the it weighs in a 6.4-ounces. There is a thumb disk on the top of the blade, however I found I can easily flick the blade open with my wrist for faster deployment.
I've often mentioned that, most knife fights are designed around slashing moves - and they are. However, you might be required to do some penetrating moves, and the 2906 thin blade, with a needle point on the blade has exceptional penetrating ability. I used some stacked cardboard and the knife VERY easily stabbed to the handle without much effort on my part - this knife can penetrate. I also had some thin sheet metal, and I used the LAWKS manual lock to further lock the blade open and I was able to easily penetrate the sheet metal without much effort at all. I can see the 2906 penetrating soft body armor, too.
The long curved blade is also designed for slashing moves, and the actual cutting area of the blade is longer than the measured length of the blade because it is curved upwards from the hilt to the point. Again, hard to explain, however if you check out the CRKT web site, you'll see how the long curve is on this blade. I can see this blade easily slicing down to the bone on an arm or leg. If a Special Forces Operator were to use this knife to take out an enemy sentry, I could see if easily slicing through the front of the throat all the way to the back of the neck - not a pretty picture, but I believe this folder can do it with ease. Again, this knife was designed to be purpose-driven, and that is as a weapon - primary or secondary. I wouldn't willingly take a knife to a gun fight, however, I wouldn't feel the least bit under armed against several attackers if I had this knife in my hand. This knife instills a lot of confidence because of the design of the blade.
The Otanashi noh Ken is one of those knives that has to be experienced, to fully understand it. It's one of those knives that is hard to explain in words, but easy to understand, if you are involved in the martial arts, or in a high-risk military MOS, that may require you to use a knife against an enemy combatant. I like knives that are hard to explain, but easy to understand, once you hold it in your hand - it has to be experienced to fully appreciate it.
It's not very often that a knife comes along that is totally purpose-driven. If you are looking for a knife that was specifically designed as a weapon, then take a close look at the CRKT Model 2906 for your next purchase. And, be sure to check out the other James Williams designs, I'm betting you'll find a few more in the Hissatsu line-up that you'll want. Currently - (I'm writing this on May 4, 2013) - this knife is still sold out on the CRKT web site. I told you they are popular. However, I'm hoping that they will have more in-stock when this article comes out in print. The Otanashi noh Ken doesn't come cheap. It retails for $150. However this folder is well worth the asking price. So, take a close look at the 2906, and see if it might be something you want to add to your battery of weapons for self-defense and survival use. I plan on getting a second 2906 when they become available again - that's how much I like this design! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear Jim,
I'm hoping that you will help me get the word out nationwide on this:

As many celebrate the passage of Concealed Carry in Illinois it comes with a very heavy price. Municipalities have 10 days from the law's enactment to pass their own "Assault Weapons" bans. Many of us in the suburbs of Chicago will face a choice in 90 days to move our weapons somewhere else, render them permanently inoperable or turn them over to the police. Lets call it what it is, Confiscation!

No grandfathering, straight up outlawing of previously lawfully owned rifles and standard capacity magazines. It doesn't spell out that they are going to come kick in our doors but it certainly makes it a possibility.

Please withhold publishing my name I have not decided what my course of action will be. The crooks who run Illinois are dishonorable and tyrannical and I very much fear for my safety as I exercise my 1st Amendment right while trying to do some small thing to try and save our rights under both the Second and Fourteenth amendments and for good measure I'm sure they will violate a couple more amendments along the way!

Thanks! - Fearful in Illinois

Sassy C.'s Shelf Stable Chicken Enchilada Chili

For my boys with large appetites --the following recipe only serves three people!

1 onion chopped (can be replaced with dried onions)
1 can chopped green chilis--do not drain, add both chilis and juice
1 large can white chicken
1 can corn
1 can black beans (can be replaced with dried beans that are cooked up)
1 can enchilada sauce (I've used both green and red--the green is a little more sour, the red a little more sweet. Use the larger can if you want to serve over spinach or lettuce)
1 envelope of taco seasoning
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup greek yogurt or sour cream*
-Saute onion in a little bit of oil until transparent (or reconstitute if using dried by mixing with chicken/enchilada sauce/taco seasoning). Add chicken, enchilada sauce and taco seasoning until taco sauce until simmering.
-Add remaining ingredients *except for* yogurt or sour cream. Simmer for 20 minutes.
-Add yogurt or sour cream just before serving--do not let boil, just let it get warm and serve.
-We serve this either over spinach, chopped romaine, over rice or quinoa, wrapped in tortillas or as a dip with corn chips.
*We use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream because of digestion issues and the fact that Greek yogurt adds protein. Either is fine, just be sure you don't boil the enchilada chili once you add this. Eliminating the yogurt/sour cream is also fine--we've done that and everyone still loves it!

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Chicken Enchilada Recipes

Recipe: Mexican Casserole – Food Storage Style

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

Five years of the Fed and Treasury Department's forced Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) have badly distorted our economy, removing any pretense of a "free market." All that we have left are markets on life support. With yields of less than 1/4 of 1%, passbook savings accounts are joke. Money market rates ranging from 0.40% to 0.85% aren't much better. With ZIRP, local, state, and Federal government over-spending has had no serious consequences. But when rates eventually do spike, there will be a bloodbath. Bond yields are completely out of whack. Banks have been given unrealistically high reserves. So ZIRP is also a bailout in disguise that is keeping insolvent banks floating, long after they should have failed. Worst of all, ZIRP has created negative rates of return, after adjusting for inflation. This discourages genuine savings and investing. Out of desperation, savers and investors now plunge their money into the stock market, hedge funds, mutual funds, junk bonds, and derivatives, which have become enormous casinos with wild price gyrations. This enormous malinvestment now threatens an era of market manias, panics and crashes. With a stagnant economy, there is no end in sight for ZIRP. It will likely continue to 2014 and beyond. In the long run we will all suffer for it. So we must ask: Cui bono? It clearly isn't you and me that benefits. It is the government and the banksters.

UPS Shares Slide on Dimmed Forecast. Note that this is a key sign of a declining economy.

Items from The Economatrix:

It's Here: The Stealth Collapse Of The American Economy

Excess Reserves at the Federal Reserve. One of The Biggest Financial Scams In History: A Whopping $1.794 Trillion

John Galta:  The 67% Stock Market Crash No One Wants To Talk About

IMF Cuts World Growth Forecast Again

I recently heard about a useful site: PrepperDating.com. I 've just added that link to my Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area static page.

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Sarah Connor saw it coming: Boston Dynamics has been busy working on an entrant for DARPA's Virtual Robotics Challenge, a contest aimed to create robots that can help in disaster situations. Gee, "...someday save you from a crumbling building." That sounds so noble. So what about: "... someday relentlessly track you down and shoot you, or crush your skull."

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The good folks at Cajun Safety and Survival are offering a brand new but out of the box Zoll AED Plus defibrillator complete with alarmed and strobed cabinet, priced at $2,000 ($1,700 for the unit and $300 for the cabinet.) With the cabinet, this would be an ideal AED to donate to your local church or private school. They have promised to donate 15% of the purchase price to the Memsahib Memorial Fund, benefiting the Anchor of Hope mission school in Zambia. There are no requirements to owning this unit other than having the money to buy it.

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Micah Wood of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries wrote to mention the movie "Attack on Darfur." Micah's summary: "You can mostly fast forward till about 40+ minutes in (the first 40 minutes has lots of swearing and violence and too much of setting the stage of journalists being ushered around by African Union (AU) people who have a mandate to not intervene), but then a 'convicted' journalist demands a gun from the AU observer to go back and help defend a village that they just left, knowing that it would be attacked by the Janjaweed. It has an interesting outcome. (I don't want to ruin it for you.)"

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Ready Made Resources is currently offering a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 photovoltaic power system with a bonus third solar panel (a $240 value) for $1,599, with free shipping.

"Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works."  - John Stuart Mill

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Please pray that any protests following the George Zimmerman verdict will be peaceful. I urge my readers--especially those in cities in the southeastern United States--to be prepared to hunker down at home to avoid a lengthy period of rioting. (This could be similar to the west coast riots following the Rodney King trial decision.) The history of riots here in the States shows that riots during summer months can be the worst and the most protracted.


Barton Biggs passed away one year ago, today. He was a money manager who favored personal preparedness. He is greatly missed.


This is also the birthday of Colonel Einar A. Malmstrom. He was born in 1907, died in the crash of a T-33 on August 21, 1954 near Great Falls, Montana. He was a decorated Air Force pilot, a Luft Stalag POW in Germany, and a test pilot. By the way, Malmstrom AFB was one of the settings for my novel Founders. (The base was named in his honor.)

It is noteworthy that a number of WWII veteran pilots met their demise in the P-80/F-80 and T-33. (The latter was the two-seat trainer version of the F-80.) In addition to Einar Malmstrom, there were also ace pilots Richard Bong and Don Gentile. The level of complexity of the new 600 m.p.h. jets was daunting, and in some ways the T-33--like many other jets with steep glide ratios--was an unforgiving aircraft in the event of engine trouble. The early ejection seats lacked a canopy breaker. With many years of service, the Lockheed-designed trainer has plenty of lore. My father, Donald Rawles, was a T-33 instructor pilot during the Korean War. Many of his student pilots were French and Belgian, which made his role even more difficult and at times downright perilous, due to the language barrier. I can remember reading through one of his old notebooks. It included a lengthy hand-written engine re-start procedure, in the event of a flameout. I cannot imagine going through that checklist in the brief time available in a low altitude glide, or much less when recovering from a flat spin.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Disclaimer: I am a retired military officer and school teacher.  I have no formal medical or first aid training.  My recommendations are made based on anecdotal personal experience.  Nothing I recommend should be undertaken without first consulting with a physician.
When there is no medicine.
Preppers have usually read and probably own copies of well-respected books having to do with post-TEOTWAWKI conditions in which medical and dental care are not available.  Most of us have accumulated some knowledge of what medicines to stockpile, their uses, and shelf-lives.  After persuading a physician to write prescriptions for the desired medicinals, some have expended precious resources acquiring some useful broad spectrum antibiotics and other controlled substances to treat injuries and illnesses in the absence of doctors and hospitals.  All of this is good.  To the stockpile of prescription drugs, most would add hand sanitizer, alcohol, betadine, OTC medicines, bandages, sutures and all manner of first aid equipment and supplies.  If you have to bug out on foot, it might be a lot to carry. 
Bug out with what you can carry. 
I can imagine a lot of bug out scenarios where 72 hours becomes a few weeks or a year if your preparedness is sufficient.  Water, food, shelter and self-defense; knowledge and abilities; and restoration of society are all important elements of any plan. None of which will come to much if a small cut becomes infected or lack of dental hygiene allows tooth decay.  Small things you say. Details.  Okay, but there are far more wounded than killed in any battle, and infections kill more soldiers than enemy action.  As a people we are probably smart enough to knock out an abscessed tooth, and we may even amputate a gangrenous limb.  But there may be a way to avoid these unpleasant and desperate remedies. There is an inexpensive all natural substance that is an antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal liquid which can treat a wide variety of injuries and medical conditions without side effects.  It is tea tree oil.  It is available all over the internet and in some health food stores for a few bucks.  Here are just some of its uses.  There are many more.
Cuts, abrasions, burns, bee stings, acne, cold sores, ringworm, warts.  
Use it as you would triple antibiotic ointment, which is not antiviral, antifungal or anti-inflammatory. Most pain has its root cause in inflammation.  Treat the inflammation and the pain is greatly reduced or eliminated.  Bandage the wound, of course.  Check the wound and retreat, of course. I stopped using Neosporin when the lanolin-based ointment was replaced by the white petrolatum based product.  Petroleum jelly is not as readily absorbed through the skin. Tea tree oil is absorbed almost instantly. Try this: dab a single drop of tea tree oil to the outside of your cheek and see how long it takes before you taste it.  It will be instantaneous.     
Strains and sprains of the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.

Call me crazy, but tea tree oil works as well as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  Dab it on with a fingertip, Q-tip or cotton ball.  Repeat every few hours.  Healing will be quicker than with NSAIDS.  Unlike most oral medicines, tea tree oil works on the inflammation at the site of the injury, not in your head. Repeated use of tea tree oil does not damage your liver. After taking some medicines, the pain is still there, you just don’t feel it. Make a patch out of a one inch square piece of cotton cloth and a few inches of medical tape.  Dab the cloth with tea tree oil and apply it to the injury site.  Change twice a day.  You will experience greatly reduced pain and inflammation.  I have had good results using a mix of 10 per cent tea tree oil and 90 per cent Bag Balm. Rub it in. You can treat your injury and soften your skin at the same time. This mix is particularly effective when rubbed on your rough heels. I know people who have experienced good results with a mix of 10 per cent tea tree oil and 90 per cent aloe vera gel. It works better than either product used alone.
Head lice, fleas, and ticks.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil to shampoo, or rinse hair with a quart of water mixed with 10 drops of tea tree oil.  For safe tick removal, dab the critter with tea tree oil.  It will back out.  Never tweeze an embedded tick at the abdomen, and don’t try to burn it with a lighter or extinguished match head.  It will deposit saliva as well as stomach contents under your skin. Tea tree oil is much gentler on the tick, which many prevent it from vomiting with its head under your skin. You want the tick to back out.  You don’t want to kill it while it is still attached. In North America, ticks can be vectors for dozens of diseases.
Blisters. Soak a needle and cotton thread in tea tree oil. Pass the needle and thread through the blister at the widest point and leave six inches of thread passing out both sides of the blister. The blister will drain by wicking the moisture out through the thread.  Dab more tea tree oil on the blister twice a day.  Pull the thread out when the water is gone and the blistered skin has re-adhered. If a blister has ripped open, swab the whole thing with tea tree oil twice a day.  Keep it clean and bandage it.
Athlete’s Foot.
Tea tree oil is an excellent antifungal and is unbeatable as a treatment for athlete’s foot.  Washing feet regularly in a solution of a few drops of tea tree oil in a gallon of warm water will prevent re-infection.  Soaking socks and sneakers in the same solution is an excellent preventative.
If you’ve got hemorrhoids, you’ve got an inflammation of some very delicate tissues. Did you bring the Preparation H in your bug out bag? If not, dab on a little tea tree oil until the condition is cured.  If bowel movements are painful, dip a finger in tea tree oil.  You will know what to do with it.  Do it before and after. 
Let’s be clear.  There is no cure for psoriasis. However, there are many reports of people achieving significant relief of the symptoms of psoriasis by treating the infected area with undiluted tea tree oil.  It may take six months of daily treatments.
Toenail fungus. 
18 per cent of people who treated their toenail fungus twice daily for six months with tea tree oil were cured.  60 per cent achieved significant improvement of appearance and reduction of symptoms.
Oral Hygiene.  
First of all, tea tree oil tastes and smells terrible.  So naturally, I use it in my mouth.  After brushing and flossing or waterpicking, I dip a GUM Bo Between interdental stimulator in tea tree oil and run it between the teeth, rinsing the device in water and redipping every third tooth.  The tea tree oil is very rapidly absorbed, so the taste doesn’t last long.  Spit, don’t swallow. The rapid absorption also allows swishing with water or mouthwash shortly after the application. Those with bleeding gums will see this condition disappear in a week of daily treatments.  After that, twice a week is often enough.  Most adult Americans have gingivitis or some periodontal disease.  In the absence of regular dental exams and cleaning, the situation will likely get worse.  Much worse.  Quickly.  A dental hygiene kit of toothbrush, floss, GUM, and an ounce of tea tree oil will greatly improve a person’s chances of lasting a year or more without toothache, tooth loss, inflammation or gum disease.  If I had to choose between toothpaste and tea tree oil, I would carry the tea tree oil for its many other uses. But I wouldn’t brush my teeth with it.
Products containing tea tree oil.
Soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, gels, shampoo, surface cleansers and many other products with a wide variety of applications are available with tea tree oil as an active ingredient.  Products containing tea tree oil are particularly effective when sanitization or disinfection is desired as well as general cleaning. You can make your own.  Recipes are all over the internet. Each of these products has its uses in your everyday life as well as post-TEOTWAWKI.    
If you are bugging out, you have many of the same goals and use many of the same techniques as long distance hikers.  A hike of 2,600 miles requires a light pack.  You can lighten your load if everything you carry has multiple uses. Your jacket is also your pillow.  Your trekking poles are your tent poles. Your bandana is your camp towel. Tea tree oil has many uses; some are medicinal, some are merely convenient.  Tea tree oil is like WD40.  New uses are found every day, but it won’t stop wrinkles. Every bottle of tea tree oil states it is for external use only, and keep it away from children.  That means don’t drink it, and don’t let kids have it. I wouldn’t put it in my eyes or ears, although treatments for earache and pinkeye can be found.     

You were spot on with your comments regarding the improper stretching.  In fact, the U.S. Navy has recently made major changes to it's authorized workout routine because PT standards from just a year ago are now considered potentially harmful.  The new workout routine is as follows...The beginning of a workout involves "Dynamic warmups" instead of stretches to prevent injury.  Here's a link to the PDF on dynamic warmups.   The workout commences once the full-body dynamic stretches are complete.  "Static Stretching" is only done at the end of the workout.  Here's another link that highlights good and bad forms. Regards, - Anonymous Sailor

Rehydration can still be accomplished when a person cannot take anything by mouth. Normally he would be given an IV. In a SHTF situation, this may not be possible. Rather one can fill an enema bag with normal saline (very dilute salt water-recipe on the internet-need not be sterile) attach a rubber urinary catheter to the enema tip, Using vaseline jelly feed the rubber catheter into the rectum carefully as not to pierce the bowel and let the tepid salt water very slowly drip in. It should be able to be absorbed because it is going in very slowly and a little higher up rather than being forcefully expelled as would happen if an irritating solution was used to treat constipation. This should only be done of course when the benefits outweigh the risk. - Sharon G.

Why we need full capacity magazines: Multiple attackers.

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Signing UN Arms Trade Treaty While Congress at Summer Recess. (This move arrogantly contradicts the U.S. Senate's vote, in March.)

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Federal judge: Post Office violated man's rights by banning gun from parking lot

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Some sad statistics: 27 Facts That Prove Families In America Are In The Worst Shape Ever

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A reader in Oz metioned that the Wikipedia article on the NLR (Nous sommes la résistance)--"an Australian prepper organisation" has been recommended for deletion. It seems notable enough to me, but of course I'm an inclusionist.) Those who are familiar with the machinations of Wikipedia are encouraged topolitely chime in, one way or the other.

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." - Matthew 25:40-46 (KJV)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

With the continuing ammunition shortage, inexpensive firearms practice has become impossible.  .45ACP centerfire pistol ammo, when available, pushes a dollar a round.  I haven't seen .22LR for a lot less than fifty cents a round either.  Ridiculous!  However, there are replica, 1:1 scale copies, air or gas powered guns and ammo that simulate the M1911 firearm shooting experience in every respect except the noise and recoil.  You can practice indoors, in any weather, without disturbing a sleeper in the same room with a "weapon" indistinguishable from the real thing at a price that isn't just low but down right cheap!
Notice I said indistinguishable.  There are jurisdictions where mere possession of these replica guns can get you arrested, fined, jailed or even killed.  I have the clippings!  Do your own research on local laws and for heaven's sake use good judgment and discretion when transporting, displaying or using these items, even in the privacy of your own property.  These guns shoot actual projectiles, so eye protection is a must as well.  Remember the lament Ralphie heard in "A Christmas Story"!  Noise is generally not a factor.  "Silenced" shots in a movie are not noticeably louder.
This article will focus on the M1911 pistol but there are a staggeringly impressive variety of air-powered clones for most of the favorite prepper firearms including M4geries, 870s, M1A, Glocks and Rugers.  Plus, they can be amazingly inexpensive.  A basic plastic M1911 Airsoft spring pistol goes for less than $15.  A similar Airsoft M4gery rifle starts at around $30.  5000 Airsoft "rounds" are about $15.  You can equip yourself for some very long practice sessions for less than $100.  You can also go overboard too, so watch that.  Electric motor powered full auto Airsoft M4gerys start at $120 or so but can jump into real firearm prices at nearly $500.
Introducing new shooters of any age to safe gun handling, proper trigger control, and focused sight picture has never been easier with these non-lethal guns.  You or a friend can critique your own performance as well.  I quietly judge new shooter friends' gun handling safety awareness with these guns before we go to a real firearm range.
Keep in mind that the various air gun ammo types have different ballistic capabilities.  Lead pellets are far better for actual marksmanship at significant distances, for example.  Like paintball, but less messy, Airsoft ammo was developed for live fire gaming against other human beings and is safer, but not absolutely SAFE to be hit by.  BBs fly straighter and farther than Airsoft pellets, but not quite as accurately as lead .17pellets.
Airsoft guns started in Japan like pellet guns in Europe and seem to have been developed for exercising the fun parts of shooting and to sidestep national gun control measures by not being classified as firearms.  Airsoft ammo are plastic spheres of various colors 6mm in size and from .12 grams to .28 grams each in weight.  Lead airgun pellets are typically .17 caliber cones with some kind of mushroom shape on top. (That shape varies according to purpose.)  BBs are generally zinc plated steel, silver balls 4.5mm in diameter.  This article will discuss mostly M1911 clones for each type of air powered ammunition.
Similar to paintball, Airsoft free fire zone ranges and supply stores are found in most metro US cities.  Various tactical games are played at these indoor and outdoor facilities.  Made from light plastic, Airsoft ammo generally leaves the gun at less than, usually far less than, 500 feet per second (FPS).  2-300 FPS is more typical.  Assuming clothing, getting hit with one below the head will sting and might leave a welt, but no worse.  Commercial ranges generally have chronographs and a maximum FPS limit allowed.  Safety headgear, goggles and face-mask are mandatory there as well.  In your own basement or living room, firing at a pellet trap only, eye protection from ricochet is sufficient.
Airsoft M1911s, like all Airsoft weapons, are distinguished by a bright orange barrel tip and come in a huge variety of models, some more accurate copies of the M1911 than others.  Plastic, part plastic or all metal guns, working grip safeties or not, working slide safeties most of the time, traditional or more modern sights, etc. are some of the features to watch. The least expensive are single shot spring powered pistols.  That means you have to rack the slide before each shot.  Magazines with extras usually available but specific to each gun model,  hold 16 or so rounds.  They vary in price from about $10 for a springer to perhaps $30 or $40 for gas models.
For example, a simple starter package, the Crosman Airsoft Stinger Challenge Kit includes 2 plastic pistols, dartboard style target and 1,000 rounds in 2 colors for less than $40.   A heavier all metal and therefore more accurate simulation of an M1911A1 is the UTG Sport Airsoft 1911 Full Metal Spring Pistol with 2 Mags  for around $25.
Moving upscale in Airsoft M1911s, I must mention the "GBB" for gas blow back repeating models.  There are many models, but all are powered by 12 gram gas cartridges.  The gas allows for reciprocating slides and semi-automatic firepower just like the real deal, called Real Steel by Airsofties.  Some even field strip very similarly to the real M1911.  The Elite Force 1911 TAC CO2 Metal Airsoft Pistol runs about $125 is one of several top examples.  These models tend to have  modern custom features such as Novak style sights, ambidextrous safeties,  and checkered fore-straps too.
Besides being more mechanically complex and using an additional consumable the GBBs, like any gas powered gun, require the operator to lubricate the cartridge to gun O ring seal with silicone based Pellgunoil or similar.  By the way, 25 gas cartridges runs about $20.  Gas powered guns are dependent on ambient temperature.  The warmer it is, the faster the pellets fly.  Subsequent shots release more gas from the cartridge which condenses and cools the cartridge area of the gun, slowing FPS as much as 20% for later pellets or BBs.  You might expect to get about 80 shots per cartridge.
In between in price from the GBB models and spring guns are the NBBs.  These guns are usually metal and definitely gas cartridge powered but the slides don't move.  NBB stands for "non blow-back".  Since the gas isn't powering the slide movement, more pellets can be fired per gas cartridge.  The SIG Sauer GSR CO2 Metal pistol is a good example for $60.
Leaving the Airsoft universe behind, .177 Pellet guns, on the other hand, are more serious guns.  Traditionally pellet rifles are used for target shooting sports, hunting and pest control and can fire over 1,000 FPS.  Pellets, properly placed from these rifles can be lethal for rabbit and smaller mammals and birds.  Pellets run about $10 for 500.  Keep in mind that pellets are cheap for practice, but quite dangerous to be hit with and think safety, appropriately.
The Colt-licensed 1911A1 Air Pistol is an elegant training weapon.  Actually it is a gas cartridge powered revolver packaged in M1911 clothing.  A pricey $200 is still far, far less than an actual firearm or even a .22LR converter.  The pellets leave at a rated 395 FPS.  The slide doesn't move, but the other controls work as expected.
The Beeman P1 also available at Amazon and elsewhere, fires pellets up to 600 FPS and has M1911 similarities but is balanced entirely differently and is mechanically dissimilar at the stratospheric price of $480.  Crosman's not quite released MTR77NPC is a .177 pellet 1,000 FPS M4gery rifle and will retail for less than $200.
I don't know why the steel BB was developed.  I suspect it was for boys of all ages.  I don't want to be hit with one of these either, so confine them to a basement or garage range indoors and away from windows and valuables of any type anywhere.  That said, there are a number of M1911 style CO2 gas cartridge powered BB guns available.  
To start, there is the inexpensive Colt Defender. For about $50 you get an Officer sized all metal pistol.  The downsides are that none of the controls are really M1911 operational.  The grip is thicker than standard to accommodate the gas cartridge, too.  OTOH, for draw, aim, fire exercises it works just fine.  There is no separate drop out magazine.  18 BB’s are manually loaded next to the gas cartridge.  Cleverly, the grip panels and mainspring housing slide open as a unit when the mag release button is pressed.

The $90 built by Daisy, Winchester 11 is rivaled by the slightly more expensive "Tanfoglio Witness" M1911 as very accurate copies in almost every respect to a real, operating M1911A1 firearm.  The slides move, triggers are the proper shape, safeties both thumb and grip  work as expected.  The left grip panel on the Winchester pries off with a fingernail to reveal the gas compartment.  There is a clever lever system built into the mainspring housing to tighten and puncture the gas cartridge for use.  The magazine is a very thin unit released by the traditional button.  The "Witness" model isn't on Amazon as a BB model right now, but is easy to find online.  Additionally, I don't know why they named a M1911 clone the "Tanfoglio Witness" either, as the actual "TW" firearm that I remember is only distantly related.
Original military issue M1911A1s have marginal sights.  The ASG STI Duty One CO2 BB pistol imitates its namesake and has all the modern features of a custom .45 except for the non standard trigger shape for $100 and the slide moves too.
If you can wait a little while, or want to order direct from Hong Kong, Cybergun / KWC, the Taiwanese manufacturers of the "Tanfoglio Witness 1911" are coming out with a "tactical" version for around about $100 that has Novaks, ambi safeties, grip safety and a correctly shaped trigger.  It is available now in Canada from ReplicaAirguns.com
In Conclusion:
By the by, no one is compensating me to mention any of these representative models of these various practice weapons.  Worse luck, I'm now somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have this plastic and pot metal arsenal.  Still, I can practice at home anytime without undue expense.  
Amazon is hardly the only online source either:  Try www.airgundepot.comwww.evike.comwww.pyramydair.com  or www.airgunsofarizona.com/ among many others to do your comparison shopping.  Wal-Mart, Dick's Sporting Goods, Gander Mountain and similar chains will have some of the huge selection available and basic air gun shooting supplies.  There even might be a dedicated specialty shop nearby if you are unfortunate enough to still live in a major city.

Mr Rawles,
I recently read a letter on your website that concerned and disturbed me.  A reader was asking for advice on what to do when they lost their right to self defense when they were traveling to California and how to bring their firearms to the state when visiting.  The issues I take with the e-mail and hope to help the reader understand are that you never lose your right to self defense, no matter where in the world you travel.  Self defense is an inherent right that can be taken from us by no one.  Secondly, self defense does not begin at the end of a pistol, self defense begins in your mind and the attitude you must have when you are prepared to defend yourself and the things you have chosen to defend. 

I happen to live in California and know full well the multitude of laws related to gun control which also happen to vary by location as well.  However, these laws cannot prevent anyone from defending themselves.  While there are agricultural check points upon arrival into California that you can get caught bringing "illegal" firearms into the state, the chances of these laws effecting anyone while traveling through our massive state are very slim.  I'm not saying that your readers should break the law and take chances but I'm also saying that one of the state's biggest commercial crops is marijuana, which is still illegal to grow commercially.  The chances of one of the laws effecting a short term traveler are very slim.  Any time you must travel to any location, you must be aware of this issue and bringing your firearms while traveling is always a dangerous proposition.  

The question therein lies with how do you defend yourself and while I know this has been addressed before, self defense begins way before anyone pulls a trigger.  Self defense is about alertness and an attitude to be ready for events as they unfold.  Being alert and knowing your surroundings can help people avoid bad situations far more than having a gun in a holster.  While I have the benefit of years of hand to hand combat training, anyone who has not would probably feel much more comfortable traveling through life having undergone the self defense training and mental preparedness to gain confidence that you can successfully negotiate any situation that may arise.  Even if you feel you are incapable of self defense via the hand to hand method, there are many methods of self defense that you can rely on prior to needing a gun.  I have always looked to my tools that I can always easily travel with to provide an additional level of security including chef's knives, small camping axes and other items that can have an easily explainable purpose to customs officials or the local police. 

Thanks for reading, - N. in California

JWR Replies: As I once mentioned in the blog, carrying dual purpose tools is all about context. Be sure to research your state and local laws--including fish and game laws--before carrying any dual use weapons. Some of the Nanny State jurisdictions now have laws on the books that have made their use, and in some cases even mere possession, illegal. The context in which they are seen by authorities is often crucial in justifying the legal possession of weapons or dual use items. A spear gun by itself in the trunk of your car would probably be seen as a "weapon", but one that I stowed in a dive bag, along with a mask, snorkel, fins, diving flag, a current fishing license, and a copy of the current year's fishing regulations would be seen as innocuous. Ditto for a baseball bat, that by itself could be misconstrued as a weapon. But if stowed in a dufflebag bag along with balls, gloves, and a batting helmet would look quite different. A flare gun by itself in the glove box of your car would be viewed as a major no-no in many jurisdictions, but one that is stowed in a box or bag in your car trunk along with an air horn, nautical charts, current tide tables, and a GPS receiver could easily be explained.

And then of course there are road flares, which require no explanation to carry in a vehicle. A lit 15-minute road flare can be quite intimidating.

I found an interesting free NIOSH publication concerning recommendations for protective equipment when exposed to chemicals. It is technical so this is something that you will have to read ahead to know how to use. It also gives a listing of what the DOT numbers on placards of transportation equipment mean with a reference to what personal protective equipment is needed. If you scroll to page 379 it will reference a page number which tells what the chemical is including the threat and what protective measures need to be taken. - Bill N.

The judge in the George Zimmerman trial has clearly flipped out and should recuse herself. Watching this, her bias is so blatant that it is palpable. Was the jury present to witness that exchange? Depending on how she phrases her jury instructions, the Manslaughter Railroad may be running at full steam. The fix, it seems, is in. Please pray for justice! Please also pray that the judge comes under the supervisory control of the next higher court before she further taints the judicial process. This can be done with an appeal in the nature of a writ of error. (Traditional writs of error have been abolished.)

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Traitor In Chief: Obama Commits to Signing UN Arms Trade Treaty While Congress at Summer Recess. (This move arrogantly contradicts the U.S. Senate vote, in March.)

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My friend Terry sent this: NYC Court: $340 License for Handgun Posession Doesn’t Violate Second Amendment

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H.L. sent this one: Gun Laws and Gun Crime

"Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:

If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.

But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth." - Ezekiel 33:1-12 (KJV)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Living in rural Texas has taught me how to live a fuller, deeper life, but with a western twist.  Although the American Redoubt has captured many preppers’ imaginations, I live in Texas by choice.  I’ve traveled the world, visited most states and lived in multiple cities on both coasts, but I choose to call the Texas Hill Country home.  The cowboy way of life is intoxicating.

The first time I drove into the small town of Bandera (population 859) and saw cowboys riding horses down Main Street I immediately fell in love.  Many towns in the Texas Hill Country region are predominately German in heritage and the people have strong work ethics, coupled with old fashioned common sense.

Manners count
. Cowboy Jerry Lee taught my sons to ride a horse and instilled them with the cowboy code: never cross over private fences, always speak the truth, respect your elders and respond with a yes Sir or no Ma’am.  Women are addressed by their first name, but always preceded with “Miss” even when married. 

Many children learn to shoot a gun at a very young age, some shooting their first deer as young as 5 years old.  Children are taught early to respect firearms.  My sons are boy scouts that are live the scout motto, “Be prepared”.  FFA and 4-H teach kids agricultural literacy in a world that has lost touch with how our food gets on the table.     

Momma knows best
.  Homeschooling has huge support from our local communities and state government.  You would be hard pressed to find a state with stronger support for parents who want to control their children’s education.  Although our public schools do require immunizations, parents can opt out by simply notarizing a one page affidavit.  

Most families attend church regularly and it’s common for couples to still be married to their high school sweethearts after decades of marriage.  I enjoy seeing three generations at a country rodeo dancing to western swing music under the stars and smile when the grandparents show the crowd that fifty years of marriage makes for a perfect two-step partnership.   

Ranching is a way of life here
.  Many family ranches have been passed down from generation to generation, but even that has become increasingly difficult.  Tough, loyal and devoted to family, most native Texans wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else and they truly believe this is God’s country. 

The majority of Texans are deeply conservative and Christian.  They want their guns, little government interference and hands off their property.  The state capital of Austin is where you’ll find most liberals and where the city’s motto “Keep Austin Weird” is practiced daily.

On our local hometown radio station they play the Pledge of Allegiance every morning and the Star Spangled Banner at noon.  Pretty cool huh?  The small town of Boerne’s siren goes off at noon as a not so gentle reminder from times past, letting everyone know its lunch time.  I lived five miles out of town and I could faintly hear it go off if I happened to be outside. 

Texas has taught me valuable life lessons that have helped me become better prepared.  First is location.  Although Texas is a large state, only Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio have large metropolitan populations.  The remainder of the state is predominately rural, with most residents living in small rural towns.  After taking a leap of faith and moving my family to the country, I’m blessed to live a quiet, peaceful lifestyle.  I will never go back to the city. 

Ranches large and small are the backbone of rural communities.
  Make friends with your neighbors.  I’ve borrowed my neighbors’ tools, asked their advice on planting vegetables and one even fixed my broken gate without my asking.  That’s important stuff especially if the SHTF.  Always be kind too, get to know and help your neighbors just like the Bible says.

Learn to have different energy sources.
  Electricity, solar, wind and propane give us greater energy independence.  Not relying on the local electric provider for all our energy needs gives me greater peace of mind.  Also having a propane/gas cook stove lets me finish making dinner when the power goes off like it did three times last week.

To access ranches, most owners use solar panels for automatic gate openers and gate envy is pretty common here.  The problem with a fancy entrance is that it screams money, but old money taught me to be understated.  Ditto for the cool ranch name over the entrance gate to make property identification easier.  Low key folks use flags, fencing or reflectors to help friends discretely locate their property.

I know a wealthy Texas woman who owns an 8,000 acre ranch, with no ranch entrance identification and even a broken down gate.  The caliche (crushed limestone) driveway is better suited to a four wheel drive and it stays that way until the road is out of sight from the highway, which then flattens out and pulls up in front of a 15,000 square foot mansion.  Now that’s OPSEC.

Old timer’s love their pickups
.  Here the ultimate badge of honor is an old, beat up Ford truck that’s seen better days, but still runs.  What’s really cool is the old man driving that truck has more money than most people you will ever meet in your life!  Double OPSEC!

Fencing is important
.  It’s usually one of the first things done building a ranch.  Although barbed wire and T post are the norm across the country, high game fencing is predominate here.  If you have the money, galvanized metal piping and a 10 foot high perimeter fence makes it difficult for animals and trespassers alike to jump a game fence as well as provide perimeter security.  Cross fencing with helps rotational grazing. 
Those with limited funds can use a fence pole digger by hand, which is extremely tough in our famously rocky soil.  Texans also use plain old sticks when building fences, with a metal post and then three wood sticks.  We use what is abundant and they get the job done.     

Water is life
.  Water is the biggest asset any property can have and here it’s very valuable.  The price of land cost between $5,000 to $10,000 an acre, but it doubles with live water.  I’ve learned the hard way that when the electricity goes off, there is no water for drinking, washing and toilets that require electricity to run the water pump.  Get every know resource of water storage you can get your hands on: dirt tanks, cisterns, water tanks, 55 gallon drums, rainwater catchment systems, grey water and clean those used bottles to store household water.    

Ranchers use dirt tanks to water livestock, which is just a hole dug in the ground to capture rainwater runoff in a low part of the property.  Don’t dig past the hard pan or it will leak, so it’s best to use someone who has lots of experience.  This works well when you don’t have a well and power pump or can’t afford one.  A stock tank is a large metal container for watering livestock, which still needs some type of water source, typically a well and windmill.

Although springs are highly desirable, most properties are without water, which makes drilling a well crucial.  A cistern (open top) or water tank (closed top) acts as a reservoir to hold water.  Made of metal, plastic or concrete they hold the precious liquid from your well.  No Texan worth their salt drills a well without adding a water tank.  Texans also have lots of swimming pools, which can act as emergency water storage. 

Many homesteads still have their original working windmills that pump water to the house and livestock.  It’s not uncommon to find old, disassembled windmills on Craigslist and some could be had for a reasonable price or possibly your effort in taking it down. 

Oil is king in Texas
.  Few ranches don’t have an above ground gas tank and most have a diesel tank as well for trucks and equipment.  Having 500 or so gallons of fuel on hand is really out of everyday ranching necessity, but oh so smart in case of TEOTWAWKI.

Texas ranches are multi-generational
.  Typically ranches have more than one house on a property: a main house, guest house, ranch foreman’s house, bunk house, cabin and maybe an apartment in the barn is very common.  Most aren’t big or expensive.  This provides additional space for family members, ranch workers and guests.  It’s also valuable should the need arise to for banding together for protection.

Barns are useful for large gathering places.
  Party barns are great entertainment and I’ve seen pool tables, dart boards, washers and checkers in these outdoor rooms, none of which needs power.  Stables are typically metal frames and roofs made from kits.  Texans love their horses: cutting horses, trail riding, team roping, breeding horse, training horses, you name they ride it.

Ranches have many useful outbuildings.
  Our German immigrants knew that survival was more important than a fancy house so they built smoke houses to cure meat, well houses for water, chicken houses, tractor sheds, garages, storage sheds, horse barns, hay barns, black smith sheds and tool sheds to name a few.  This is still true today and a good ranch set up with ample barns will help secure your hard earned assets should the balloon ever go up.

Ride for the brand
.  In the old west, ranchers hired men to work their cattle and the cattle brand of the owner was who they gave their loyalty too.  The ranch owner also depended on those extra hands when trouble came knocking.  Today, many ranch hands have lived their whole lives on one property, with some like the King Ranch passing those ranch hand jobs down to the next generation.  Talk about loyalty.  This kind of security can’t be bought, but the next best thing is your family.  Living close to family makes a tighter bond than living far away. 

We don’t dial 911”.  Guns are a way of life here.  I’ve been to lots of ranches that have some sort of hidden gun room or secret cache where guns are stored.  Guns are everywhere.  Over a fireplace, in trucks, boots, bedrooms, barns, purses and even the outhouse (snakes of course).

Guns, guns and more guns
.  Every type of gun known to man is here to protect their family and property.  They also stockpile ammo.   A good rule is to honk first when driving up unexpectedly to a ranch so as not to spook anyone.  Watching those old cowboy movies gave me a good idea: use both hands when shooting guns.    

Without question Texas is a strong, vocal supporter of the Second Amendment and the NRA
.  Just check out their bumper stickers.  I saw a bumper sticker on a father of a teenage girl my son was checking out and it said “Guns don’t kill men, Daddy’s with pretty daughters do”

Growing gardens is tough here
.  Start with a mandatory 6 foot deer fence and build your raised beds because of the rocks.  Rain harvesting and gray water systems are slowly becoming more popular due to the drought.  Drip irrigation is the way to go.  Our long growing season is an added bonus. 

Architectural design is important
.  Ranch houses are typically one story, with wide eaves and deep porches to offset the harsh Texas sun.  Most are built with metal roofs, rock siding and tile floors that last for generations.  This greatly helps to cool down a home, while fans are in almost every room.  Tall ceilings, shutters and siting a home to take advantage of south eastern gulf winds help’s to offset demand for air-conditioning.  So does a tall glass of sweet tea.

Many small towns in the Texas Hill Country have a secret
.  Beneath our town’s main street are old tunnels that were built to protect settlers in case of Indian raids.  That makes me feel a little safer next time I shop for pickles knowing that if a nuclear bomb goes off my family can go underground.   

Texans love all kinds of horse powered transportation
.  Should an EMP attack render cars useless, they’ll get around riding their horses or driving their horse drawn carriages, buggy’s, hay wagons, chuck wagons and buck board wagons.  During the summer on country roads you can run into wagon trains filled with hundreds of people driving their wagons, which is an awesome sight to behold!  And yes they still ride their horses into town for a coke, hamburger and even a beer.

Alternative vehicles are a must
. Almost every ranch has at least one All-Terrain Vehicle or a truck with a big bumper grill, which is used to help stop damage to the engine if you hit a deer.  Heck, I’ve seen a new Cadillac with a huge bumper grill.  They could come in pretty handy during a Without Rule of Law situation.. 

Horse trailers, cattle trailers and utility trailers are all great survival tools
.  We use them all the time and I’ve learned how to haul them and back them up too.   (It’s pretty hard so it’s a really good thing to learn now rather than later)  Most horse trailers are nicer than some people’s homes, plus the added bonus is the ability to travel with your livestock and family under one roof.

Every cowboy knows that a rope is an important tool
.  Sure they can lasso a cow, but it serves so many other uses that it would be impossible to list.  Suffice to say that that’s one thing that you never can have enough of and I’ve been known to use my son’s lariat in a pinch to tie down furniture on the utility trailer. 

Hunting is different here versus other states
.  Deer blinds and corn feeder’s act as bait to lure deer close enough to the house to make an easy kill and butchering process.  I used to think that was cheating, but the older you get, the smarter this becomes.  A poor man’s lure is an old fashioned salt block.  Deer also love my chicken feed.

Ranchers are born entrepreneurs
.  It’s very tough today to make a living from ranching alone and that has forced most ranchers to have home based businesses.  Things I’ve seen them do to make a little side money are selling hay (if you don’t have the equipment, then split the hay fifty-fifty with someone who does). 

Selling firewood, cedar logs, tamales, tractor work and tilling gardens is common.  Everywhere you look is a small, roadside barbeque stand.  Game ranches make serious money allowing the paying public to shoot exotic animals that pay a rancher from $500 to over $10,000 per animal.

The women earn extra cash too
.  Many sell handcrafts, herbs and vegetables at the various farmers markets during the summer.  Quilts, antiques, farm fresh eggs and canned goods will always provide pocket change, but some are starting to build and install custom raised beds and set up vegetable gardens for those who lack the time and skills. 

Horseback rides at $75/hour per horse is one way for their keep, providing parking in your field for events and tube rentals on the areas many rivers are a fun way to boost a family’s income during the tourist season.  The bed and breakfast industry is a thriving business in the picturesque Hill Country.  Even a small cabin that rents nightly provides a nice extra income.  Some play guitar on an open mike night to help make ends meet.       

Ranchers use their bartering skills every day
.  My brother in-law trades broken industrial equipment given to him from an owner who wants to get rid of the “junk”.  He repairs it and then turns around and trades it for boats, cars and especially guns.  I’ve seen ranchers lease their grassland property to landless horse/cattle/goat owners for extra cash.  Some sell watermelons and other cash crops at roadside stands and many out of the back of a pickup truck.  The ideas are endless and all it takes is your imagination.

Foraging for wild food is fun
.  I’ve learned Texans are serious wild food foragers and last fall had to fight numerous other pickers for the pecan nuts that fell on country roads.  My acorn harvest was a bust and I learned not to store them in plastic because they ruin.  Prickly pear cactus grows wild here and is highly prized for making jam that has become a Texas tradition.

I want to touch upon food preps just a little
.  Although I’ve re-learned to can after forgetting this important survival skill my mother taught me as a young girl, one of the best new things I’ve learned is to manage my food storage.  The closest grocery store is 32 miles so I now buy my groceries monthly. 
Yes, I still run to town for bread and milk after a few weeks, distance has forced me to store at least a months’ worth of food, which is good in case of an emergency.  It also cuts down on buying unhealthy processed food, which is a way too easy an option when you are always in a grocery store. 

Many older women have taught me a surprise weapon
.  I’ve been taken aside to enlighten me on their secret recipe: cooking in cast iron pans.  Needless to say, I now cook almost exclusively with my own collection of cast iron that you can find in antique stores, garage sales, ranch supply stores and online.  My latest acquisition is a cute little cast iron cup with handle that holds 1 ½ cups, which is just right for melting butter for corn on the cob. 

Learn to cut out the poison
.  Less toxic, processed food means more scratch cooking, which is a must learn skill.  Even if you think you can’t, just try a few things and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make food staples like homemade pancakes, biscuits and jam.  Now if only I can improve my aim and shoot a deer!  But like any country gal, I did the next best thing which is to learn how to process a deer. 

You just gotta love chickens
.  Although my family are cattle ranchers, without a doubt, chickens are the easiest livestock to begin with and just about every small town in Texas allows homeowners chickens.  Remember you don’t need a rooster for eggs, only if you want baby chicks.  Don’t forget to buy non-GMO feed and free range chickens are always best.  Now if only I can train them to lay eggs exactly where I can find them…

Texas women are natural born preppers
.  They love their bling.  Gold, diamonds, silver, you name it they wear it and all the time.   If SHTF, their bling-bling can be an immediate bartering tool.  Camouflage, boots and jeans are the norm here for women and it gives us an edge over business suits, high heels and designer clothes that aren’t made to last.      

Living in the country does have responsibilities.
  Most people I know are first responders and are volunteer fireman.  If you can’t afford the expensive communications devices, in exchange for your time each town outfits their guys with the latest and greatest gear.  Learning CPR and other medical know-how is the icing on the cake and it’s typically free.  Walkie-talkies are useful around home and gives you peach of mind having constant contact with the kids.  (Remember that cell phone service doesn’t always work in the country.) 

Smart ranchers use what nature gives them
.  Many an old timer has converted their cow manure into liquid fertilizer to boost their hay field production.  That’s a big deal when large round bales sell upwards of $100 dollars a bale.  I always ask my kids when we pass a freshly baled hay field “Now how much money is sitting in that field?”  Their answers are jaw dropping.
I know that without living in Texas I would never have been exposed to so many ways to ranch and homestead.  I read this article to my children who have been raised in Texas and they both said “Mom that’s not a story about prepping, that’s just the way Texans live.”  Out of the mouths of babes.

The education I’ve been given by the cowboys, ranchers and farmers who live here has shaped the person I am and my children as well.  And we’re better for it.  God bless America, God bless Texas and God bless all Patriots keeping the faith.

Several years ago my family purchased an Amish farm in a settlement in southeast Ohio. I wanted to share a little about what we have learned because there are currently several Amish farms going on the market in our area which are not advertised anywhere. We are over two hours from any major city and nearly and hour from smaller ones. Our closest village is Woodsfield. We are in an area where Utica Shale is beginning to boom so the Amish are heading out, not wanting to be driving their buggies in the vicinity of big trucks, which I can understand.

In general the farm properties are a mix of woods and pasture. They have a large barn, outbuildings and outhouses, some have large workshops where they had sawmills. The houses are large. Ours is about 3000 SQ FT and is one of the smaller ones. This is definitely the place for someone who has a large family or many people to live together. Many have smaller guest houses. Ours has two. These were built for newly married children to spend their first years, or for grandparents to live. The homes have open floor plans because they needed to be able to have over a hundred people over when it was their turn to host "church." 

I have found that the open floor plans make heating with woodstoves very comfortable. The chimney are generally set up to have one wood stove in the big kitchen and another in the living room. Some have a opening in the ceiling over or near one of these stoves to allow the heat to travel straight up to the second floor.

These houses have big full basements, a ground floor with generally a master bedroom, kitchen, living room, dining area, and pantry. We converted our pantry into a bathroom after we had a septic tank installed. The outhouse is always there for backup and emergencies now.

The houses also have big porches. The clotheslines range from average T shapes posts to colossal 100' monsters connecting at pulleys in the trees. They uses older wringer washers that are run from a gas lawnmower type motor for laundry. The hot water for the wash is heated in a massive stainless steel, wood fired water heaters. They are generally available in Amish supply catalogs.

The Amish in our area are not allowed to use natural gas, so when we bought our place we ran gas lines in for gas stoves and heaters. One of the bonuses is that ours, and several of the available farms have functioning shallow natural gas wells on the property and you are allowed all of your residential gas for free. Even when the power is out we still have gas and water.

Water is generally from one of two possible sources. The first, like ours is from natural springs from the hillsides. We have a tank up at the spring which holds 1,500 gallons. and is piped down to the house and barns. Ours have never gone dry, even during the drought times. The other water sources for the farms is from drilled wells. The drilled wells in the Amish homes are powered by a small gas motor and pressure tank. There are also a lot of creeks, streams, ponds, etc everywhere out here so watering livestock is generally not an issue.

One of the big blessings is that everything grows. Gardening is amazing. You literally put the seed into the ground and God waters it and makes it grow. In the past five years I think that I have watered my vegetable garden twice. It is land truly blessed.

In the early spring just about everyone taps the maple trees on the farms and make syrup. Some of the farms make it as a business and produced hundreds of gallons every year at about $40/gal.

I have learned a lot from my Amish neighbors over the years. One thing I have learned is that they will also be impacted in the SHTF scenarios because of their dependence on gas motors and things of that nature, but they will get by. They have a strong sense of community and will work together, which I jealously admire as an English outsider.

I just wanted to let you and your readers know that this because with so many nice farms going up for sale at once it is a great time to be able to have the choice between them. Unfortunately you would really need to make the trip down to see them all in person because they are, after all, Amish. - H.M.

Several readers sent suggested additions to my recently-posted list of field gear makers that have all American-made products:

MollyMacGear - MOLLE panel backpacks, extreme cold weather gear, hammocks, hammock insulation...

Urban ERT Slings - Single point, two-point and three-point slings. Made in Indiana by a former NCO and father of an active duty USAF Pararescue Jumper. They also take payment in silver.

Go Ruck - Military packs made by a Special Forces veteran.

Fight and Flight Tactical - Products hand made in Kentucky. They have a particularly good solution for field transport of AA, AAA, and CR123 batteries.

Holland's of Oregon - Makers of the Lighting Strike fire starter, a great tactical shooter's pouch, excellent muzzle brakes, and more. Their instructional DVDs are also highly recommended.

High Speed Gear - Magazine pouches, packs, hydration carriers, plate carriers etc. Their TACO magazine pouches are a great design.

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent an amazing piece about a homebrewed Glock with a steel frame. (Crude language warning.)

   o o o

A lengthy and poetic article that would strain credulity, if it didn't come from a respected Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist: Dear Leader Dreams of Sushi. This is either an elaborate fantasy or another Pulitzer Prize in the making

   o o o

Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything is a Crime

"The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another." - Milton Friedman

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A news item of particular note: Effort To Create New State Called ‘North Colorado’ Grows. Some 10 counties are now involved! Needless to say, if they succeed I will expand my definition of The American Redoubt!


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I would first like to thank you and all of the previous posters on this blog. I have been an avid reader for a few years now and I have learned immeasurably from you all.
Dehydration can be a problem for individuals in the first world today, and a massive problem for those in the third world. In a post collapse situation, life for us in America and the rest of the first world countries could look more like the latter. There are many causes for dehydration, from working outside in the heat and sweating out fluids to a serious illness causing severe nausea and vomiting. Severe dehydration could lead to death, called Terminal Dehydration.

Before I really delve into this subject, let me give a brief summary of my experience. I spent six years in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman serving with both the Navy onboard ship and at a hospital and also serving with the Marines as a field corpsman. I was charged with the care of sailors and marines, at times on my own. It was a very large responsibility for such a young man as I was. I took my charge VERY seriously. One thing that I was continuously on the lookout for was heat injuries and signs of dehydration, especially in the desert. This carried over from my training at the fleet marine service school. It was repeated constantly throughout my military training. The military is acutely aware of the seriousness of heat injuries and the toll they take. Since I have gotten out of the navy, I have worked in the hospital setting in differing acute care areas such as emergency rooms. I have a love of medicine and a drive to learn as much as I can. Even though I am no physician, I have had providers ask me for my thoughts on certain areas that my previous experience has given me with regards to treating their own patients. I truly love working as a member of the healthcare team. I am taking college courses to become a flight nurse. Now, I am no doctor and I am only writing this for informational purposes. If it is possible, if you or a loved one shows signs of dehydration, you should seek the treatment of a physician.

Now, back to the matter at hand, dehydration in a collapse scenario. Let us first look at dehydration. It not always simply a lack of fluids that needs to be replenished. There are actually three different kinds of dehydration: 1) hypotonic or hyponatremic (referring to this as primarily a loss of electrolytes, sodium in particular), 2) hypertonic or hypernatremic (referring to this as primarily a loss of water), and 3) isotonic or isonatremic (referring to this as equal loss of water and electrolytes). The most commonly seen is isonatremic dehydration. This loss is mostly due to profuse sweating and/or vomiting and diarrhea. The loss of electrolytes, while seemingly insignificant to some, can be very serious. Sodium in particular serves many roles in the human body. Sodium helps the body maintain fluid balance in the body down to the cellular level. Sodium also helps the body regulate blood pressure, as many may already know. Sodium also helps facilitate nutrient transfers at the cellular level. These functions of sodium in the body are done primarily through the process of osmosis. Sodium is just one of the essential electrolytes required by the human body to maintain homeostasis. Both sodium and potassium help carry electrical signals from cell to cell over the entire body.

Now dehydration can have a number of causes. I cannot go over them all, but I can focus on some. One of the most common causes in the third world is unclean drinking water that causes waterborne illnesses such as Cholera, E. Coli, Typhoid, and Salmonellosis. These can be particularly fatal to children and the elderly if not treated properly. In a post collapse situation, clean drinking water will be difficult to come by for most folks once the grid goes down and illnesses such as these will become common in America once more. Another cause of dehydration in a post collapse scenario will be simply due to overexertion and sweating. Even here in the beautiful and comparatively mild climate of northwestern United States, it gets hot enough in the summer months to cause heat injuries. And in a post collapse scenario, we will all be required to do much more work outside in the heat to simply survive. The signs and symptoms of dehydration can be headaches (similar to hangovers or “caffeine headaches), thirst, dry skin, moderate to severe muscle cramping or contractions, rapid heart rate, concentrated dark urine, dizziness or fainting, decreased blood pressure, and at the extreme delirium and death. Now, there is a simple test that can be done at home, in the absence of medical laboratories and the ability to look at blood serum sodium levels and similar testing, that can help determine if a person is experiencing dehydration or not: postural/orthostatic blood pressure and pulse measurement. The procedure is simple, all one needs is a blood pressure cuff and sphygmomanometer, a stethoscope, and the ability to feel the pulse of the patient. The procedure I have used is to have the patient lie down for approximately 5 minutes and measure their pulse and blood pressure, then have the patient stand for another minute and repeat the pulse and blood pressure. What you are looking for is a drop in the measurement of the systolic (top number) of at least 20mm/Hg and/or diastolic (bottom number) of at least 10 mm/Hg, and a significant increase in the heart rate from laying to standing may also show that the heart is trying to compensate for decreased fluid levels in the blood.
If the patient is indeed dehydrated, there are treatments that can be done in a post collapse scenario that are similar to those we use in hospitals today. Now, IV fluid rehydration may be indicated but could not necessarily be available. In that case, oral rehydration therapy may be indicated as tolerated by the patient. The history of oral rehydration therapy goes back thousands of years. There is evidence of an Indian physician named Sushruta using a solution of rock salt and molasses in tepid water in the 6th century BC to treat dehydration.  If there is significant vomiting and there are not anti-emetics available such as Ondansetron, there is a delicate balance of reducing vomiting and yet helping the patient replenish fluids that needs to be struck. If the patient simply chugs down the Oral Rehydration Solution/Salts (ORS), they may proceed to vomit it back up. The key is to let them sip some every few minutes as is tolerated. Now, just throwing in a bunch of salt and some arbitrary amount of sugar into some water is not recommended. Just as the body needs to strike a balance in electrolyte levels, so must the solution we are making. There are differing recipes of ORS out there, I will be using the World Health Organization’s recipe since they are the ones who go into the third world countries and encounter such severe dehydration without the benefit of hospitals nearby. The ingredients are easily obtained at even the local grocery store and are most likely already on your list of lists to keep in stock.

The ingredients are 3/8 tsp salt (sodium chloride), ¼ tsp table salt substitute (potassium chloride), ½ tsp baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), 2 tsp-2 tbsp sugar (sucrose) to taste; add these dry ingredients to a 1 liter bottle and fill to the final volume of 1 liter. This solution is best when chilled, but is not exactly great tasting at any time. As a rule of thumb, it should taste similar to tears. It is recommended that the solution should be discarded after 24 hours. The concentrations of electrolytes in the ORS allow for quicker absorption of fluids and reducing the need for IV fluids (if your retreat has the ability to administer them post collapse). These concentrations improve the ability of the body to absorb it in the small intestine and replace vital electrolytes lost. It is recommended that with diarrhea alone, ORS is administered to adults and large children after every loose bowel movement and should at least be 3 liters a day until they are well. For children under 2, the amount should be between a quarter and a half of a cup after each movement. For older children it should be between a half and whole cup after each movement. Do not let the patient chug away at the ORS. Doing so may cause the brain to swell and possibly cause permanent injury because it tries to pull too much fluid into the cells. A simple way to tell if a dehydrated person is well is to check the color and frequency of urine, the urine should be optimally between pale yellow to clear. An average person urinates about 5 times a day. With vomiting, the patient should wait approximately 10 minutes after vomiting before they should be administered the ORS again. The body will retain some of the water and electrolytes even though vomiting is present. The ORS will not treat or stop either vomiting or diarrhea; these will have to run their course. Both are the body’s response to either an illness or poison that it has detected and is trying to flush out.  Diarrhea, for instance, usually resolves after three or five days.

As is the case in most medical conditions, and I am sure many have heard this from their physicians before, the key is prevention. Make sure that the proper precautions have been taken to prevent waterborne illness and your water has been sufficiently treated.  Keep an eye on you and your group for the signs and symptoms of dehydration, the easiest is to watch the color of urine. Again, clear or pale yellow is optimal, a dark/amber color isn’t. Dehydration can occur in both the heat and humidity of summer and the cold dead of winter. The dry cold can zap out moisture just as effectively as the heat; do not get complacent in the winter months.
God Bless and Semper Fidelis

I've been lurking around your blog for a while now and I love it!   I'd like to share this link with you: the Iowa Health and Physical Readiness Alliance web site.
This online library has several old military physical fitness manuals (dated 1892, 1914, 1917, and 1946).  I think that your readers would really love the 1946 manual, FM 21-20.  Not only does it have an extensive calisthenics routine, but also has guerrilla drills on carrying wounded comrades, running and swimming instructions, and even brief sections on wrestling, boxing, and hand-to-hand combatives.  All are in PDF.
Enjoy! - Tom R.

JWR Replies: Those manuals can be quite useful. But I must forewarn readers: Old School methods of "warm-ups" provide insufficient muscle stretching to prevent injuries. They also emphasize "bouncing" stretches rather than slow stretches. It is the slow stretches that are much safer. (Bouncing can tear muscles and ligaments.) I recommend doing some slow Asian martial arts stretches before doing calisthenics workouts or running.

Also, keep in mind that these older manuals often depict running in boots. That too can lead to injuries. Be wise and minimize any regular running in combat boots!

The global derivatives bubble continues to inflate. According to the BIS there are now $564 Trillion in over the counter derivatives, which includes $441 Trillion in bets on small moves in the direction of interest rates. If and when interest rates spike (and they will!), the counterparty risk will be huge, and spectacular derivatives implosion could bring down the global credit market.

Vince W. wrote to mention a new vehicle that is going to be made here in the U.S. at an old GM plant in Louisiana. They claim it will get 84 mpg, and have an 8 gallon gas tank. Also has a complete roll cage, three airbags and will only cost $6,800

Items from The Economatrix:

Approaching The End Game:  "A Domestic Hyperinflationary Environment Should Evolve...Before The End Of Next Year

41 IMF Bailouts and Counting--How Long Before The Entire System Collapses?

19 Reasons to be Deeply Concerned About the Global Economy

Wall Street Flat After Fed Minutes, But Bernanke Lifts Futures

Reader Brian M. sent this: Couple discover 7,500 machine gun, shotgun and pistol bullets in their back garden while weeding their pond. Now, to illustrate a world of difference: Last year one of my consulting clients discovered 5,500 rounds of .22 ammo and six boxes of shotgun shells stored in dusty ammo cans in the crawlspace of the house that he had bought eastern Oregon. He called the previous owners and asked if they wanted the ammo. (They had moved to Arizona.) They told him to just keep it. He expressed his heartfelt thanks. Note that he did not become apoplectic. Nor did he call the police and the newspapers and turn it into an international news story. His kids are now enjoying lots of target practice. It amazes me how these Brits got so spastic over ammunition that has been rendered inert by being submerged in water. They considered the find horrific. I just found it sad to to see ammo go to waste.

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Reader H.L. sent this: U.N. urged to consider drones, gunships for South Sudan mission. [JWR's Comments: Of course any large UN presence would come with strings attached. Please pray for peace and liberty in South Sudan. Organizations like C.R.O.S.S. Ministries are deserving of support. Please donate generously!]

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H.L. sent: Permits Soar to Allow More Concealed Guns. These easterner editors sound surprised that concealed carry is so commonplace, and just plain shocked that no permits whatsoever are required in some states.

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Anyone looking for a top-notch compound bow should look at Concept Archery.com. They have fantastic quality bows with 80% to 99% let-off that feature billet machined risers made of 6061T aircraft grade aluminum and Gordon Composites diamond-sanded fiberglass limbs. Their bows are sought after by both competition archers and big game bow hunters.

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Andre D. sent this: Spy agencies fear terror groups could get chemical weapons in Syria

"The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants." - Albert Camus

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Today, July 10, 2013, is the last day of Freeze Dry Guy's extended 25% Off Special on All Mountain House #10 Cans.


This is also the birthday of British novelist John Wyndham. He we was born in 1903 and died March 11, 1969. Harris was a good friend of fellow novelist Samuel Youd (1922 – 2012), who wrote under several pen names, including John Christopher. Both men were famous for writing what are often called "cozy catastrophes." Several of Wyndham's novels and short stories have been adapted to film, with varying degrees of success. One of the best of these was a parallel universe story called Random Quest.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

A successful trek is “won or lost” before it even begins. Having the right quantities of food, water, and first aid, proper gear and adequate physical fitness will determine if a hiker is able to complete a trip as planned, and respond to the unexpected along the way.

This past June, my wife and I hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim. Over the course of this four day, thirty-mile hike, we learned many valuable lessons that can be applied to a grid-down scenario where long-range foot travel is needed to bug-out, explore, or patrol large land areas.

I'm thankful to have learned such lessons in times of plenty, they are as follows:

A Hiking System

Just like how an infantryman’s kit works with him to create a “weapons system,” a hiker and his gear turn into a “hiking system” while on the trail. Working together, the components form a gestalt that can accomplish more than the sum of its parts.
A good pair of trail shoes or boots is the foundation of the hiking system. Footwear that has been broken-in and conforms to the hiker’s foot before the hike begins will be the most comfortable and cause the fewest problems along the way. Wearing footwear a half-size larger than street shoes allows room for the foot to expand as blood flow increases during exercise.
Wool socks wick away moisture during use, keeping feet dry and happy. I had expected wool socks to be like a wool sweater – scratchy and uncomfortable in the heat. In reality, Merino wool is much softer than cotton, and wears very comfortably.

Underwear that fits tightly against the body reduces chafing and irritation compared to looser styles. Anti-microbial fabrics inhibit the growth of micro organisms by using silver threading in the weave. While not a replacement for good personal hygiene, anti-microbial material allows for rather more extended use on long trips, when a fresh pair of drawers may be some time away.
A water bladder in the backpack allows a hiker to carry two or more liters of potable water for easy access while hiking or breaking on the trail. Carrying water on the back keeps the added weight centered on the body and out of the way.

A waist strap supports weight from the backpack at the top of the hips, allowing the hiker to carry a substantial portion of the pack’s weight on the lower body. This greatly relieves weight borne by the shoulders compared to packs without a waist strap, increasing endurance and overall weight capacity.
Trekking poles act like outriggers, providing stability on uneven terrain. Poles also help to keep the upper body in rhythm with the legs, so that the whole body is working together. In addition, trekking poles can be used as a bipod to support the weight of the backpack while pausing on the trail.    
Wearing a hat will keep the sun from beating down on sensitive skin on the face and neck, shield the eyes from glare, and help keep the head cool. Wearing headgear with a distinctive color can also help to identify a person at a distance.
A pair of sunglasses keeps eye muscles from tiring quickly in direct sunlight. It also helps with seeing details in washed-out vistas, and protects fragile eyes from branches and trail dust.   

Drink and Eat Plenty

A hiker may expend twice his normal number of calories while on the trail. Our guide told us that he has yet to see someone run a calorie surplus on a multi-day hike in the Canyon. By taking time to stop regularly for snacks, a hiker can keep his energy up throughout the day to keep moving.
Snacks that are high in sugars and fats convert easily into energy on the trail. Fruits, nuts, seeds, and energy bars make a good source of healthy energy. Candy can also be a ready source of quick energy.
Irritability can be an early sign of dehydration. Taking a drink of water at the first signs of pessimism or negativity can often head-off a hydration issue in its early stages.
Keeping enough water on hand ensures a hiker does not need to run a hydration deficit. A water bladder in the backpack, combined with water or sports drink in a bottle, is a good combination.

Using the Day

The body expends energy to maintain a healthy internal temperature while hiking in hot climates. Heat from direct sunlight and high external temperatures can force the body to work harder and expend more energy to stay cool.
Early and late hours of the day are ideal for hiking in hot temperatures. A good hot climate hiking schedule starts before sunrise (4:00AM) and stops before the sun reaches its highest point in the sky (10:00AM), then resumes hiking after the heat of the day (4:00PM) and stops at dark or when a campsite is reached.
Soaking or submerging in water will cool the body very quickly. Nearby streams or pools can be a great place to wet clothing and headgear for ongoing cooling while wearing them on the trail.

Group Hiking

The group can only move as fast as its slowest member.
People with longer legs tend to move more quickly over distances, due to their longer gait. Physical fitness, to include muscle tone and cardiovascular health, also plays a big role in determining how quickly a hiker can move.
Removing weight from the pack of a slower hiker and adding it to the pack of a faster hiker will tend to equalize their speeds.
Distributing shared items like food, cooking, and camp equipment, spreads weight around and keeps any one heavy item from falling on a single hiker unnecessarily.  
Children are capable of hiking distances, but their physiological needs are different. Generally speaking, children do best when they are carrying very little gear and supplies.
Staying within sight and hearing of the next person in the group ensures that nobody will get lost.
When people are tired and under stress, personalities can rub. By assuming positive intent from other people, and being slow to get angry with them, group members can bypass emotional flare ups. Often, frustration will pass quickly if not given full vent. Looking for unmet needs while upset may reveal the real source of those hard feelings.

Other People

Many day hikers do not bring enough water, food, or first aid supplies. Consequently, many overnight hikers still do not bring enough of the same. Unprepared hikers are most likely to get into trouble with dehydration, metabolic issues, and first aid emergencies because they cannot adequately prevent or address small problems early to keep them from becoming bigger problems.
Extra supplies can be used to help a hiker in distress. Providing a fellow traveler with food, water, or first aid from extras makes a world of difference to them, and mercy like this rewards the giver.
Foolishness stands out. Perfumes, booming voices, and fashion-over-function type clothing draw attention in the deep outdoors, and usually not the good kind. Being a mile from camp in the middle of the desert without a water bottle paints a person as a potential liability.

A Training Vacation

Vacation is an important part of life. More than just recharging the body, getting away from everyday life provides a valuable sense of perspective, often bringing the “big picture” into relief and offering insights that will enrich the very situation a person is vacating.

By taking a vacation that tests personal limits, teaches valuable skills and wisdom, and involves good clean fun, a person can enhance his preparation and promote personal growth while having fun and getting away from it all.
Many of the lessons illustrated here are drawn directly from particular experiences in the American Southwest, but they can be easily adapted or extrapolated to apply to other climates, under more austere circumstances.
Whether bugging-out by foot, reconnoitering an area, or doing long-range patrolling, the principles mentioned here will apply to, or be enhanced by, a grid-down type of scenario.

Captain Rawles,
I have to go to the Socialist Republic of Kalifornia later this week to rescue my sister and her husband (helping them move household goods) and in doing so must surrender my right to be able to defend myself due to their draconian gun laws.  Living in Utah I know that my permit is recognized only as far as the Nevada border, but I can transport and possess my Model 1911 albeit in a separate locked container from the corresponding ammunition.  I was wondering what advice or opinions you could offer as I leave on this little trek.  Any input would be very much appreciated.
Respectfully, - Brad M.

JWR Replies: I can sympathize with you, since I still have a few relatives in California. Parenthetically, my Rawles ancestors came to California via covered wagon in the 1850s. I also have two relatives by marriage who were participants in the Bear Flag Revolt. (Henry Beeson of Boonville and William B. Elliott of Geyserville. The red stripe on the original Bear Flag was some red flannel that had been purchased to make new underwear for William Elliott and a new petticoat for his wife.) If these pioneers were to witness California's current web of draconian laws, they wouldn't just chafe--they'd start another revolt!

Getting back to the 21st Century: Under California's absurd laws, by most common interpretations you can transport a gun into the state only if you have a target shooting session or hunting trip planned. You need to be able to document that planned event--whether or not it ever takes place. (A printout-out of an e-mail exchange between you and yours relatives discussing that shooting session should suffice.) But then, once you are in California you would only be able to have the gun loaded while you are target shooting or hunting, or perhaps while you are inside your sister's house. (I'm not an attorney, so don't quote me on that.) Furthermore, even though it must be unloaded and the ammunition in a separate locked compartment of your vehicle, you would not be able to carry your unloaded pistol on any "in and around" trips while you are in California. That would only be allowable when traveling to or from the shooting range, or of course on your final trip out of the state.

Oh, and FYI, though it is not applicable in your case, if you were to stay in California, the pistol would have to be registered by mail within 60 days.)

I urge all of my readers in California to vote with their feet and move out of that doomed Mickey Mouse state! (I say doomed because the political remedies and recourses have been exhausted. The leftist-statists are too deeply entrenched and they have a solid multigenerational voting bloc. It is time to bail!)

E.S. suggested this at Zero Hedge: A Historic Inversion: Gold GOFO Rates Turn Negative For The First Time Since Lehman

Marc Faber: China Puts Global Markets at Risk. (Dr. Doom discusses China's credit bubble and recommends selling stocks and buying gold, citing $1,222 as a quite reasonable buy price.)

Mike T. sent us this: Here's how much your carrier makes selling your data to the Feds. No wonder they are so consistently complicit, when implementing tyranny is a profit center...

Items from The Economatrix:

Too Many Workers Hate Their Jobs, And That's Hurting The Economy

Sequestration Forces Cuts To Long-Term Unemployment Benefits For Millions

Reader Greg S. sent us some news of Nanny State hand-wringers, run amok: Geolocating "Dangerous" Guns and Gun Owners. Wait! I can make it easier for them: Click here. (Each tiny green pixel dot represents a privately-owned gun. And yes, they are "dangerous"--dangerous to criminals and dangerous to would-be tyrants.) We also have some of the lowest crime rates in the country. I wonder why...

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G.G. sent some news from the Land of Lincoln Obama: Elderly man who picked dandelions for food gets $75 ticket. And speaking of Chicago: More than 1,000 shootings so far in 2013. And lastly, some good news: Illinois enacts nation's final concealed-gun law. (It is noteworthy that the Illinois legislature was forced to enact this law, by the court. (Without a deadline, they would have dragged their feet for years. They could care less about Constitutional rights.)

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G.G. also suggested this in The Wall Street Journal: Cargo Bikes: The New Station Wagon

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An interesting American expat community in Chile: Freedom Orchard

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Growing Food Hidden in the Forest

"We hold that each man is the best judge of his own interest." - President John Adams

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Having been brought up under unique circumstances I hope that I can bring yet another perspective to the world of survival.  My mother as a single mom, a real taboo in the day, chose to go to Mexico chasing after a life that was difficult and unrealistic; however for me it was the beginning of survivalism to say the least.  I have learned that no matter what life tosses your way it should always be kept as a learning moment.  If it is a bad experience you will learn what not to do and hopefully overcome, and if it is a good experience you will learn what works. 

Because I did go hungry as a kid I quickly vowed that this would never happen to my children, and I have succeeded in that department.  No matter how poor I have been I always managed to have at least a couple of week’s worth of food in the house.  It’s amazing what vows you will make when hard times hit.  So now that I am older and hopefully a little wiser I can share my now working plan for those with very limited income.

I have a small space at an antiques store; I sell a bit on eBay and purchase items for myself and for prepping mostly through yard, garage, and estate sales.  Obviously most of you are probably already aware of the value of these sales.  I do mine with a friend, we trade driving days and the one not driving will be the co-pilot so as to have the shortest route possible and to reduce gas usage.  It is much easier to have a partner in this endeavor because it will become so tedious you will quickly get discouraged. 

Yard and garage sales are abundant in my city, you have to go to a lot of them to find just a few items, estate sales on the other hand are the best, one location and a houseful of stuff. 
Estate sales are usually done because some dear soul has passed on or needs to go to a nursing home.  They like the rest of us like having a lot of stuff, some are hoarders, others have specific hobbies, and yet others are preppers themselves.  Just imagine walking into someone’s home and all that you see is for sale, admittedly some are better than others in my city many a good deal can be had.  I have my own system of items that I need to concentrate on in order to turn some kind of a profit and be able to get a good portion of my preps for free.  In order to know what these items are is of course life experience but no matter how much life you have had there is always much to learn.  SurvivalBlog is the perfect place to do this learning, not only with what they publish but also the links that go with it.  I have read some of his books and of course all that I can on the blog.  One item that he published was the barter list, and his tips on nickel investing, boy I thought this is right up my alley.   

There is so much to be had for so little you just have to view it in a different light in order to find it, you will have to overcome that felling of horror when  there is a huge mess to look through for the purpose of finding a treasure, so don’t forget your hand wipes.
So here we go, I will use a nice round number of one hundred dollars per week, you of course work with what you have.
Go to the bank, I prefer the drive up window, less people to see what you are getting.  Ask for your one hundred dollars and at the same time request that ten dollars be in nickel rolls, I have done this long enough that the teller once asked me if I wanted nickels because she had them in her drawer.   Note; my husband has not really been on board with prepping, however I devised a way to show him materially that it is not a loss, for example the nickels.  I explained to him they will be devalued due to the impending change of the material they are made of and that they are now worth more than their value.  I also told him that if worse comes to worse and they are not devalued they are still worth a nickel and he could consider it a very small savings account and can still be spent when needed, sometimes those that do not see the light need to be aimed toward it. 
Proceed to your planned sales, by planned I mean that they have been previously researched through the throw away papers like Nickel Nick, the Exchange and so forth.  Don’t forget the regular ads in your local newspaper and of course the mother lode, Craig’s List.  This one really needs research because so many will state the basic items that they are selling.  For example if you are not in the market for baby items then of course you would not attend, unless of course you are in that market, that is the place to go, yard and garage sales can be a crap shoot, some are stellar and others are duds.  This research will also help decide distance to save your gas.
Don’t forget to start your mileage counter prior to leaving your house; (should you ever need to produce some kind of a record) also keep some kind of record of how much you are spending just in case you need it in the future.
What to get, remember I told you I have a small space at an antique store and sell a bit on eBay?  This is how I can get some preps for free. 
At every sale I try to get items for my space that I feel reasonably sure will sell and for how much, this of course makes a profit that will go directly to preps. 

At an estate sale there is that house full of items, the kitchen and basement are the favored spots that equal food and preps.  Apparently old ladies feel it is their duty to feed an army, they always buy more than they need, and I am one of them.  Always check the dates on the products; a ton is new and unopened and is always the first to go.  Don’t forget that there will be a lot of pouch items, seasoning, flavoring, cocoa, coffee and so forth.  The basement will of course also hold all those canning supply items, I have seen people running up the stairs with a box full of canning jars as if they had just found a long lost treasure, that very same person will have a partner standing by the rest in order to hold them prior to transport.  It used to be that you couldn’t give away canning jars, now you can’t find them.  This is not only good for your needs but also great for the barter area.  The list is too long to describe how much I have gotten through this method.  The bathroom, for your medical tub, here I have gotten bandages, supports, (ankle, knee, wrist etc), pain killers, supplements, toothbrushes and paste.  I am talking about new and never opened; also in this list are all those hotel sized samples of soaps, shampoos, rinse, lotions name it.  Naturally if this is a man’s house, you will also find tools and equipment for their favorite hobbies, like hunting and fishing.  I have acquired a nice lot of hooks lines and accessories for my barter list.  At most estate sales there will be jewelry, most is vintage costume and is what I will be after for resale.  So here is how I see it.  I buy a few pieces of jewelry and collectibles for the shop plus all the items I consider for prepping, let’s say the bill you pay is $25, the items for resale should sell for a minimum of three or more times the total you spent, (don’t forget rent fees), your preps are now free.  At any sale always do your best to have an item for resale to cover your initial cost.

At the end of the weekend, you will probably have money left over from your $100, save the small denominations under $20.  This small stuff will accumulate and become $100 at that point I use a seal a meal bag and seal it, now you have another savings account ready for that day when only cash will do and in small denominations.   I like to call myself penny Annie, yes I save small amounts but discipline and consistency can really make it add up.

Yard and garage sales can be better at getting those items for your re-sales because usually someone is cleaning out a bunch of their stuff and a lot can be a good for re-sale  the quantity is smaller and easy to look through.  However, they will also have unusual items, like I have purchased or have gotten for free half melted candles, if they have a lot of them, I simply collect the ugliest ones and then ask how much?  Usually the pile looks so bad I can get it for free or almost free.  I use these for re-melting and dipping pine cones for fire starters in my wood burner; I really hate wadding up paper for that purpose.  You can also fill small jars, use the wick of some of those candles and you now have emergency candle light.    They may also have pouches of coffee and cocoa that came in some mug gift.  If you are very lucky you can find jewelry that may be good for re-sale but better yet may contain some silver or gold.  Now I have in the past looked at someone’s jewelry pile and examined it, hopefully there will be a piece or two for the shop, and some silver pieces, I will make an offer for the entire pile, it should not exceed what you can sell the shop pieces for.  I save the silver and gold ones and when silver and gold is up I take it to my coin dealer and trade for silver coin. 

Note:  I prefer not to sell silver or gold jewelry in my shop space, It is not worth having someone smash a $200 case so they can take a $10 piece of jewelry.  Speaking of coin dealers, when you are in the market of finding one, go to your local shops, talk to them and buy something small, like a few dimes.  Their attitude should tip you off if you should do business with them in the future.  I did this and found that many seem rather snobbish especially with a novice like myself.  I found one that was patient and instructive and always treated me fair.  When I closed a small retirement account, (operative word is small), I purchased my silver with him and made sure he knew my reasoning for choosing him first.    Unless he drops dead, I will not give my business to anyone else. 

My entire system seems to be "trading this for that" so I can then get the other.  Study as much as you can, everybody does not know everything about every subject so get a good collection of how to books, many from you guessed it, yard and estate sales.  Also, there are some things you will have to simply have to suck up and buy new, like a really good canner, water filter and so forth, but of course it should be on sale. This is not to say that you won’t find it at a yard sale, like when I saw a woman buy a seemingly new Berkey water filter for $20, I almost choked. 

Always be on the lookout for a pile, just yesterday, with permission, at an open and undeveloped area owned by a cemetery, the workers had done some grave site cleaning, they hauled all the flowers, plants and do dads that are left by family members and tossed them in a pile that would later be hauled to the dump.  Because I walk my dogs there upon arriving to this pile I instantly notified my neighbor and we got to work with the dig.  We got at least three pickup truck loads of plants that had much life left and would all go in our yards for color and landscaping fillers, it also went to her daughters yard and to an aunt and a friend that had recently lost his job but loved planting flowers, in total they went to five separate yards, included in the haul were vases and those flower holders people use at a grave site, (my neighbor visits one regularly).  All for free, which reminds me don’t forget those free piles in Craig’s list you might find a good resale or personal item and don’t forget your gloves.
So, you spend your limit of set aside monies, purchase items for sale to make a profit which in turn helps you buy your preps that you purchase at the same sales.  It’s also a good way to get equipment.   At the end of the month after all has been paid for including my rents and fees, I will have made a profit which can then be turned in to pay bills or of course purchase those higher end prep items.  I don’t just break even, I always make a profit.
*-Always carry hand wipes.
*-Have gloves handy, it can get dirty.
*-Use a large Costco-size shopping bag to carry items around at estate sales.
*-On that same bag, have some 3”-4” masking tape strips stuck on the outside with your initials and the word “SOLD” you can drape it on a larger item that you can pay for and then have someone help you carry it.
*-A small magnifying glass can be handy, just don’t make any issue of it when looking at jewelry, you won’t get a deal that way.
*-eBay right now is a buyers market, so if you really know your product line then listing it.
*-I carry a laundry basket or two, or boxes to put stuff in the car for easy unloading when I get home, include wrapping paper or some pieces of bubble wrap for those fragile items.
*-A small box or paper bag for your jewelry is easier to hide.      
*-Have fun with it.

The public domain book Alone in the Wilderness is available free online at The Open Library web site. In 1913 Joseph Knowles went into the woods buck naked. His 295-page book details his experiences. It is funny how he mentions that he "wonders if modern man could survive in such a situation.”  I had to laugh at that thought because here was a man still very close to the land and yet he wonder if he could do it. Just think how many people in the present day could cope. I'd like to believe that I could but it would be an extreme push.  Sincerely, - Dennis B.

Several new laws have been enacted in Wyoming. Among others: You can speed while passing

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Reader M.J. told me about a great new product that is made in Columbia Falls, Montana. It is a new fly trap called the FlyStop, with a very clever design. It has a suction cup to attach it to windows (where flies are naturally attracted, by light.) Notably, it can be effectively used with or without attractants.

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Idaho House Unanimously Passes ‘Enhanced’ Concealed Carry Bill

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Someone did a nice job of putting some "Big Sky Country" photos to this classic Merle Haggard song: Big City ("Somewhere in the Middle of Montana.") Thanks to John D. in Montana for the link.

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A Redoubt, no doubt: A State Divided: As Washington Becomes More Liberal, Republicans Push Back--New liberal laws and a new senate coalition illustrate the stark east-west divide in Washington state

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One-in-five Americans are whistling Dixie on state secession

G.G. flagged this: Extreme Solar Storms Could Destroy Earth's Power Grids

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In Case of Emergency: My Cellphone Knows What to Do

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Indonesia Readies Mass Production of Drones. Coincidentally, I described their Wulung drones in my upcoming novel Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse. (It will be released on October 1, 2013. Please wait until the release date to order your copy. Thanks!)

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Has Motorization in the U.S. Peaked?

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This link bears repeating: Informed Christians New Disaster Crash Course

"If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law." - Winston Churchill

Monday, July 8, 2013

We appreciate your patience, while we rebuild the blog site.


Mike Williamson's latest book Tour of Duty: Stories and Provocations will be released on August 6th. Mark your calendar!

My Mac's e-mail in-box is stuffed full every morning. I plow through dozens and dozens of e-mails. After a glance, most of them get a perfunctory "delete" click. In addition to the inevitable SEO Optimization. V*agara, and Nigerian scam letters, I also get a lot of grammatically-garbled e-mails that begin like this one: "Hi friend, Greeting from Ceina. Compoka,China--Headphone manufacturer. What kind of headphones and earphones are you collecting now? Hope we can do some help for you...."

This constant barrage of e-mails are a sign that mainland China is gaining global dominance in manufacturing of consumer goods.

One of my frequent topics of discussion in SurvivalBlog is generically called "field gear." This includes tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, military load bearing gear, compact stoves, canteens, knives, fire starters, first aid kits, and so forth. While the limits of this category are nebulous, I like to think of field gear as just what a foot soldier would carry on his back, or what a backcountry guide would load on his packhorses.

Surprisingly few brands of field gear are now American made. Sadly, the vast majority of field gear-making has moved offshore to mainland China. Rather than just be depressed about this situation, I have resolved to do something to counter this trend. I urge all of my readers to do the following:

1.) Don't just blithely purchase merchandise without first checking on its country of origin. Take the time to LOOK at labels! When buying from mailorder catalogs or online, take a minute to call and ask, before you order. If a product listing says "imported", then the odds are now better than 80% that it is made in mainland China.

2.) Beware of the words "style" and "type." With field gear, the most common euphemism for Chinese-made garbage is "G.I. style."

3.) Be sure to thank the management of these companies for keeping their production in the States, and tell them that they earned your business because of it.

4.) Read the codes. (See the following discussions.)

Decoding UPC-A Bar Code Numbers:

Universal Prices Codes (UPCs) are a complex subject, so I'll defer to linking to a couple of fairly definitive sources: Wikihow and Snopes.

But generally, if the first 3 digits of the number beneath the bar code are between 690 and 695, then the country in which the code was registered was China. But if the codes are between 000 and 019, or between 030 and 039, or between 060 and 139, then the country in which the code was registered was the United Sates. But remember that this indicates the country that issued the code rather than the country of origin of the product! A list of country codes can be found here.

Decoding NSNs:

For military surplus, get smart about NATO Stock Numbers (NSNs.) A typical NSN looks like this: 8465-01-254-575 . The second group of numbers is the Country Code. If the Country Code is 00 or 01, then it is American made. The code 99 designates the UK, and 20 designates Canada. A complete list of codes can be found here.

By the way, the Defense Logistics Agency has a public web search page, called Web FLIS. There, you can look up even a company name and locale, by searching its CAGE code.

Remember the American Brand Names:

I'm sure that I will miss many companies, but here is a general list of field gear companies that sell all (or nearly all) "Made in USA" products:

Knives deserve their own category, since this is one of the few industries where there is still a large number of American makers. We can maintain this presence by only buying from these makers:

Note: There are thousands of smaller custom knife makers in the United States--too many to list here. (See: The Official "KnifeMakers Database" for a detailed list, with links. Most of these are home-based businesses that do custom work.

Formerly Made in USA: Many knife and multitool makers have moved part or all of their manufacturing offshore. Gerber is typical of this trend. Not only are they owned by a foreign company (Fiskars of Finland), but more than half of their knives are now made in China. On a similar note, I still have readers recommend Marbles brand knives. They were all made in Gladstone, Michigan until a few years ago. But they've started importing them from China. :-(

If in doubt about the origin of a product, then contact MadeInUSA.org, AmericansWorking.com, or www.usab2c.com

Also note: I didn't even attempt to list the hundreds of American-made brands of guns, clothing and boots. I tried to stick to just field gear.

I'm sure that I will get a lot of suggested additions to the foregoing lists, via e-mail. Once I do, I will expand this post and turn it into a static reference page.

And by the way, I plan to compile a companion piece on American-Made Tools, later in July. Please e-mail me links to the web sites of tool makers that have 100% U.S. made tools that you recommend. Thanks!


I've put this article off for the longest time, however I've had so many requests from SurvivalBlog readers, to give my honest opinion on the Beretta M92 9mm pistol that I decided to finally sit down and give my two cents worth. I honestly thought everyone was sick and tired of hearing about the M92FS - seeing as how it has been our military handgun for close to 30 years - but apparently, more folks want to hear about this handgun.
First off all, let's get the boring stuff out of the way. The Model 92FS 9mm pistol is a DA/SA (Double Action/Single Action) handgun - the first shot, is fired from the super-smooth double-action, and the following shots are fired from the single-action mode. If there is a break in your firing, you simple use the frame mounted, ambidextrous decocker to safely lower the hammer. (Do not try to hold the hammer with your thumb and pull the trigger - you are inviting a negligent discharge when the hammer slips and the gun fires.) Overall length of the 92FS is 8.5-inches, with a height of 5.4-inches. The barrel is 4.9-inches, and unloaded weight, of the aluminum framed handgun is 33.3-ounces. The standard magazine holds 15 rounds of 9mm ammo - however, optional factory and aftermarket magazines can hold 17, 20 and 30 rounds. But note that most of the aftermarket high capacity magazines cannot be trusted. (And while the factory high capacity magazines work well, they are both scarce and expensive.)
The chrome-lined barrel provides extra corrosion resistance, and that's a good thing, and it doesn't really affect accuracy in a negative way - like some chrome-lined rifle barrels do. One thing about the 92FS that greatly aids the reliability of this fine handgun is the open slide design that virtually does away with stove pipe malfunctions, and it also makes it easier to load one round at a time into the chamber should you lose or damage the magazine.
Take-down of the 92FS is a piece of cake, thanks to the take-down latch on the side of the frame - reassembly is just as easy - but make sure you read the owner's manual. The rear sight has two white dots and the fixed front sight has one white dot - they are fast to pick-up, but I'd like to see the sights a tad larger - just my take on it. I've yet to run across a Beretta Model 92FS that needed the rear sight adjusted for windage - they are dead-on from the factory. I had two police trade-in 92FS pistols on-hand for testing - my local gun shop got a great buy on a lot of these guns and priced them right - so I forced myself to take two of them - I couldn't pass up the deal. Both guns only had some holster wear, other than that, they were like-new.
Beretta uses a proprietary finish on their 92FS called Bruniton, and it a non-reflective black coating that can really take a beating from the elements. The magazine release button can easily be changed over to left-handed use, too - great idea. The black poly grips take a real beating, too - however on one of my samples, the grips were rough, so I replaced them with a brand-new pair from Brownell's.
None of my own testing can even come close to what our military put the M92FS through - it is actually the most tested handgun in US military history. The military version is dubbed the M9 and they recently adopted the M9A1 - which has a rail on the frame for attaching a light or laser. On another M92FS that have, I installed a Crimson Trace set of replacement grips on the gun - it does make the already slightly chunky 92FS a little bit thicker, but nothing you can't adapt to. I love all Crimson Trace products - I've toured their plant a few times, and you can't believe the work that goes into making their laser grips.
Okay, the average reliability of all M9 pistols tested at Beretta USA is 17,500 rounds without a stoppage - in other words, the guns just don't malfunction - unless it is an ammo or magazine problem. I've yet to have a M92FS malfunction - even with questionable ammo and after-market magazines - the guns are "that" good. During one test of twelve pistols fired at Beretta USA before U.S. Army supervision, the M9 pistols shot 168,000 rounds without a single malfunction. I can't even begin to duplicate that kind of testing - and it isn't necessary, either.
At the beginning of the military contract, there was one or two instances, where the slide broke during live-fire, and came off the pistol, hitting the operator in the face. [JWR Adds: Beretta soon added a secondary slide stop, as redundant safety measure. Hence the "S" in the M92FS model desognation.] This was widely reported in the gun press, however one thing they failed to mention was that the rounds being fired were hot rounds - beyond even +P+ loads - we're talking proof loads the rounds were so hot. Beretta, like other gun makers say you can safely fire +P 9mm ammo in their guns, and I honestly don't know of any maker that says you can fire +P+ 9mm loads in their guns - just a lawyer/liability thing. I've fired thousands of rounds of +P+ 9mm loads through handguns and never had any problems - but be advised!
I'm sure most SurvivalBlog readers are aware of the severe ammo drought we are in - have been - for about six months now. The hottest selling rounds are .22LR and 9mm - both are very hard to find, and when you do find them, you pay dearly for them. Last year, I could purchase a brick of 500 rounds of .22LR hollow point ammo for about $16. But today, if you can find it, that same brick will set you back about $70. I usually run about 500 rounds through guns for my articles, but these days, I've really cut back - I'm having a difficult time getting quantities of 9mm from my ammo sources for articles - not because they don't want to supply me, because they just don't have much 9mm ammo to spare. So my testing was limited t only 200 rounds of various 9mm for this article.
I did have quite an assortment from Buffalo Bore Ammunition for this article, and here's what I had on-hand. 147-grain JHP Subsonic and their same FMJ FN load - both were easy-shooting and no problems were encountered - some subsonic loads I've tested in the past didn't have enough power to make the guns function 100% of the time. Also from Buffalo Bore I had their 95-grain Barnes TAC-XP all-copper +P+ load, and their 115-grain load with the same Barnes bullet - again this is a +P+ load. I had their 124-grain Penetrator load, this is a +P+ loading with a FMJ FN bullet, that Buffalo Bore owner, Tim Sundles carries for deep penetration when needed - Tim will load the first few rounds to be fired in his 9mm handguns with JHP and then the rest will be his Penetrator load. His thinking is, and I can't argue with him is that, if an attacked fails to go down after the first few shots, then they will be behind cover and this Penetrator load will help penetrate that cover. I also has their 147-grain JHP +P+ load and the same load in 124-grain - +P+ of course. With the current severe ammo shortage, the only load I could get from Black Hills Ammunition was their 100-grain Frangible load, that has a bullet that is made from compressed copper - and this is used mainly on indoor firing ranges - when the bullet hits the steel backstop or steel target, the compressed copper bullet fragments and doesn't bounce back at you. This load is rated at 1,200 FPS and it seemed hotter than that - but I liked it. I like the Black Hills 115-grai Barnes TAC-XP load in +P but alas, they didn't have any, and I only had enough on-hand for two full magazines for carrying purposes, so I didn't shoot that ammo up - it has always been a great load in any 9mm handguns I've fired it through.
In all my testing, I had no malfunctions, and I even mixed-up different types and shapes of ammo in magazines - and this usually can induce a malfunction in many guns, but not so in the Beretta M92FS samples - and I used both of my guns for this article. The Buffalo Bore 95-grain Barnes TAC-XP and the Black Hills 100-grain Frangible ammo shot a bit lower than the other rounds - which I expected, seeing as how they are both lighter weight loads. Nothing to worry about at close-up distances, but something to keep in mind at long-range shooting.
If I did my part, with the gun over a rest, over the hood of my car, at 25-yards, my 92s would keep all the hits right about the 3-inch group. There was one stand out, and that was the 147-grain FMJ FN subsonic load from Buffalo Bore, and that would consistently do better than the 3-inch mark if I did my part and held tight. During my testing, I used some genuine Beretta magazines and some after-market magazines and all worked perfectly.
I'm thinking, I'd probably carry the Buffalo Bore 115-grain Barnes TAC-XP +P+ load in the gun, and then my spare magazine - and you should always carry at least one spare magazine - would be loaded with the Buffalo Bore 124-grain +P+ Penetrator load - like Tim Sundles carries - just in case I have to shoot through some light cover. Sundles also tells me this load will penetrate the skull of a black bear - something to keep in mind if you're in beat country with a 9mm handgun. Now, keep in mind, that all handgun makers tell you to not shoot +P+ 9mm loads in their guns - again this is a lawyer and liability thing. I just wouldn't shoot a steady diet of +P+ through any 9mm handgun - it accelerates wear and tear. And, Tim Sundles told me that he does not recommend +P+ loads in any 9mm handgun with a barrel shorter than 4-inches that the slide is moving so fast, you might have some feeding problems. I've fired +P+ 9mm loads in a Glock 26 and never had any problems - but that was that gun!
I wish there was something negative to report about the Beretta Model 92FS, but nothing went wrong, if I had one minor complaint, it would be the gun seems overly engineered and too big for the little 9mm round - but that's my personal opinion.  There's a good reason to own a Model 92FS or the military M9 - and that is, in a SHTF scenario, you can probably scrounge some spare mags - a lot of police departments still issue the Beretta 92FS, and the US military has tens of millions of spare magazines and parts - something to think about if you need some repairs or parts - just thinking out loud! Shop around, and I'm betting you can find a police trade-in Model 92FS at a really good price - and when you do, add it to your collection - you'll really like it, I like mine! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

S.A.'s Cold Spicy Shrimp

I'm convinced that having someone in your group who understands how to cook, stretch meals, and provide filling, tasty, interesting, nutritious, and satisfying dishes will be as vital as your gun guy, security honcho, or medical expert.

This is another well-tested recipe from a friend, a USAF wife. I never served it to a group where it wasn't completely eaten. Only people who don't care for it or eat it are shrimp haters and those with shrimp allergies. Often people with limited cooking experience will want to omit a particular recipe ingredient and will proclaim something along the lines of, "I don't like mustard." Well, some people don't "like eggs," but they sure eat cake. A recipe is a combination of ingredients that meld together to make a delightful dish.

1.5 # fresh cooked shrimp
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
1/4 c finely chopped green onions
1/4 c tarragon vinegar
1/4 c wine vinegar (red or white, your choice)
1/2 c olive oil
3-4 T Dijon mustard
2 t crushed red pepper
2 t salt (optional)
Fresh ground pepper

I get the grocery store to cook the shrimp with creole seasoning. At home, remove shells but leave on tails for ease of eating. Don't rinse. Place shrimp in a large container so you have room to stir and mix. I like to use a large, deep Tupperware or Rubbermaid with a tight-fitting snap-on lid. Put shrimp in first, then add rest of ingredients. Stir everything until well mixed and shrimp is coated. Cover and refrigerate, stirring or shaking a few times over the next 24 hours. Best prepared 2-3 days in advance, but may be eaten immediately. Serve with any cracker, 5 Grain Crackers are particularly good.

Other Suggestions

1. Just to have on hand for afternoon appetizer or lunches over several days, I only use 1 pound of shrimp or even less. Amount of shrimp is optional. The sauce doesn't go to waste.
2. For hard times, if fresh shrimp is not available, now is the time to go to your stores. Use 1 or 2 cans of tiny canned shrimp, depending on how many you are feeding. Open can, drain liquid, reserving, and rinse shrimp. Give liquid to the cat for a treat. Also, practice with other types of canned seafood. Instead of using shrimp, this sauce over drained, chilled canned crab sitting on lettuce would be delicious and refreshing.
3. Use parsley fresh from your herb garden and green onions. (You are growing the ever useful and easy to grow herbs, right? They will revolutionize your meals in the future by adding various flavor, texture, color, nutrition, and visual interest.) If not, use 1/2 of a stored yellow or white onion and its green top that has sprouted in storage.
4. I love to eat this as a salad on sliced avocado with the shrimp and herby sauce drizzled on top. However, avocado possibly might not be available. They don't grow well here, too cold.
5. Any left-over sauce is a nutritious, delicious salad dressing. It's amazingly spicy, yet not overly hot, and so tasty over fresh tomatoes. Do you dehydrate tomato slices? I recently was served a restaurant meal with a garnish of "tomato chips." Leaned over and whispered to my husband, "These are just like what I have put up. We have plenty in our pantry." Using dehydrated tomato chips instead of crackers....yum.
6. Keeps well due to the mustard and vinegars. It even freezes well. Mustard is said to have anti-cancer properties. I've used several types of mustards, such as grainy French mustards and smooth mustards. Anything works, but plain ol' Grey Poupon Dijon is best.

Chef's Notes:

  • Grow tarragon and you can easily make your own tarragon vinegar.
  • You could substitute corn oil, or really, any oil. (Olive is just flavorful.)
  • If worst came to worst, you could use your dehydrated parsley and onions. Don't get me wrong, I put these up and have them in my spice rack. But, if you didn't have fresh, in my mind it would indicate that things had really gone south, so to speak. However, you would know how to use canned seafood and dehydrated herbs and onions and pantry flavorings to make a nutritious, comforting recipe.
  • Experiment and enjoy!
  • Know how to combine your storage ingredients with innovation. Grow an herb garden and the easy-to-grow vegetables (in a pot if you don't have a garden), such as lettuce and tomatoes and peppers.

JWR's Comment: It occurred to me that this recipe might translate well to freshwater crawfish. That could be worth a try.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Shrimp Recipes

Crawfish Recipes

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

The one ounce American Redoubt silver coins are now selling even more rapidly, and Mulligan Mint is doing their best to ship orders promptly. But the current low price of silver (under $19 per ounce) has caused a huge rush of orders with all mints and dealers, so longer delays are inevitable. But rest assured that your coin order will be shipped in the order that it was received.

And so it begins: Digital currency seized in alleged drug law violation in Charleston. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

G.G. sent: China, Switzerland sign free trade agreement.

A desperate derivatives scramble: EU Accuses 13 Banks of Hampering CDS Competition.

NYT: Derivatives Are 'Weapons of Mass Deception'

Items from The Economatrix:

Reports Points To Solid US Hiring In June

Jobs Data Upbeat, But Trade And Services Dim Outlook

Global Turmoil Threatens America's Economic Independence

Oil Spikes-Portuguese Bonds & Stocks Crash-Eurozone Debt Crisis Returns

One often overlooked traditional tool is a bark spud. You probably already own lots of axes and perhaps a shingle froe and a draw knife. But few folks recognize the importance of a bark spud for peeling logs. (In fact, these days most people wouldn't even be able to name this tool, if they were handed one.) These are expensive to buy new, so look for used ones, via Craigslist. Or watch for garage sales or estate sales where "logging tools" are mentioned.

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Frank and Fern (pseudonyms) recently started blogging about their retreat and their preps. It is worth a look.

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F.G. suggested this fascinating piece: Underground Gun-Making Industry in the Philippines

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My #1 Son has added a lot of amazing new property listings at our SurvivalRealty.com spin-off site. Check them out!

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Scared of the Sun – the Global Pandemic of Vitamin D Deficiency

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Heads on posts: The latest news from Brazil adds new meaning to the phrase "Ardent soccer fans."

"Government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way." - Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"They can't stop the signal!" Please help spread the word to mitigate the latest ping flood attack on SurvivalBlog's main server. If there is another wave of pinging attacks, folks can use this temporary site: (Please bookmark that!)


This is the last day in Camping Survival's 25% off sale on Mountain House foods. Meanwhile, Freeze Dry Guy has extended their 25% Off Special on All Mountain House #10 Cans through July 10, 2013.


This is also the birthday of Robert A. Heinlein. (1907-1988.) I've quoted Heinlein in SurvivalBlog more often than any other fiction writer. One of my favorite Heinlein quotes is: "Time to beat those plowshares back into swords."


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I'd like to discuss some practical aspects of power tools. Some posts in the past have been mentioned about them but I am going to discuss making solar power tools. And not just buying the pieces and making them (which you could do if you wanted) but actually making them from salvaged “junk”.
I’ll be the first to admit that while I love and own all types of traditional (non-electric) hand tools, using them does take considerably longer and more effort than the powered ones. (Not surprisingly).
My background is that of a professional tinkerer, and a trained marine and environmental biologist. I have tinkered with electronics since I was a small child and while no expert (and welcome corrections (there is much I don’t understand)) what I know is from first hand tinkering and reading.
As a professional scavenger I have come to realize that we live in an incredibly wasteful and unsustainable society on many levels (no surprise to most readers I am sure). Over the years I have found drills, reciprocating saws, circular saws, chainsaws, and all types of other power tools thrown away for various reasons. You just have to keep your eyes open.
The project I am going to describe was one in which I took an older Black and Decker 7.2 volt NiCd battery powered drill (that I found in someone's trash), and turned into a lithium ion solar-charged drill for free. This project can be adapted to almost any brand, voltage, or type of battery powered tool.
Tools and supplies needed:

  • Voltmeter/multimeter
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Flux
  • Wire (decent gauge, larger than 3mm, preferably braided)
  • Diode (at least rated for 20v)
  • Some type of male/female plug with 2 leads
  • Photovoltaic (PV) panels (5-10 volts (peak) more than the total battery voltage.
  • A battery-powered tool of some sort
  • Several lithium ion computer batteries. (Non-Apple.)

This project assumes the reader has basic soldering knowledge and basic electrical knowledge, if not there are plenty of how-tos and tutorials online.
Diodes can be scavenged from almost any types of old junk electronics whether it’s an old television, old computer monitor, printer or many other types of “junk” electronics. Many diodes have numbers on them, just type them into an Internet search engine and you can usually find the power it is rated for. Unsolder it and you’re ready to go.

[JWR Adds This Warning: Use extreme caution whenever cannibalizing parts from any high voltage electronics such as televisions. Most of these include high amperage capacitors which remain energized with a potentially lethal charge, even when the electronics are powered down. (And in fact even after discharged they can even "bounce" building up a new charge, unless they are shunted.)]
The same goes for scavenging male/female plugs, it can be the circular types used for plugging an AC adapter into electronics, the square type or anything really that you can plug together and has at least two leads. Adequate wires are easy to find in most electronics, just keep your eyes open.

[JWR Adds This Caution: I recommend using dedicated DC connectors with red and black polarity markings, such as Anderson Power Poles for all of your DC lights and appliances. This minimizes the risk of confusing the correct input voltage an type. You may know how it is intended to be used, but friends and relatives might be confused by a familiar-looking plug and do a Very Bad Thing. Inadvertently applying 120 VAC power could cause some smoke and/or fireworks.]
Solar panels can be a little more difficult to find but with the massive influx of cheap solar junk from China if you know where to look they aren’t too hard. I got mine from the solar patio lights you see everywhere and only last about a year before they break. I am sure if walking around your neighborhood you’ll see some that no longer work, and offer to take them off your neighbors hands, or just look in the trash you’ll find some eventually. You can usually find adequate diodes in them as well. It is important to test your solar panels to make sure they function. Most patio light solar panels output around 4-5v or so at peak, but by linking them together in series (+ to -) the total is the sum of each panels voltage (e.g. 4v+4v=8v).
Now for the batteries. Most laptop computers made in the past 10 years use round lithium ion metal encased cells. The only exception I know of are Macs which use lithium ion polymer cells which don’t work so well in this application just because they are rectangular and flat. The large battery packs you see actually contain several smaller “cells” inside and when linked together (in series again) provide the voltage required, the same applies for power tools. When your battery no longer holds a charge it is usually because a single cell has “died” and no longer functions whereas the rest of the cells still function albeit at a lower efficiency then they did before. So you can disassemble an old laptop battery pack and test the cells with a multimeter. If all the cells show around 3.7v and one shows 0v you found your culprit.
 Most cells are rated for 3.7v, so when deciding how many you will need for your project just make sure the sum is over the rating for your tool. In my case I needed at least 7.2v so I used 2 cells to power the drill (3.7v + 3.7v =7.4v). If you want your battery to last twice as long you can connect some of the batteries in series-parallel ( which produces sum of the current in milliamphours)  (+ to + and – to –) but it is important to balance the batteries out. So if I wanted to double the run time of my drill I would have first made 2 sets of 2 cells together in series, (+ battery – to + battery –) then connect the sets together in parallel by connecting the positives on each end together and the negatives on each end together.
If this seems confusing read more about it online and get a solid grasp of the theory behind it before connecting batteries together causing a fire or worse yet, an explosion.
The same goes for your solar panels wire them together to produce around 5-10 volts more than the sum of your batteries so that even when a cloud passes by you are still able to charge your batteries. For my project I wired 3 panels together in series (4+4+4=12v) and this works fine for me charging to 7.4v . Once again if you want to charge twice as fast just wire two sets of 3 panels (4+4+4=12v) together in parallel, and now you’re charging twice as fast.
Now in comes the diode. The diode functions like a one way valve, allowing electricity to travel in only one direction in your circuit. This is important because without it every time a cloud covers your panels, the electrons stored in your batteries will seep back out into the panels possibly damaging your panel and draining your battery. Diodes typically have a single white or black band indicating the orientation of it. The band indicates the negative side, so current flows from the banded side to the other, not vice-versa. The diode should be soldered between the + of your solar panels and the + of your batteries. If you have a multimeter you can set it to test your diode and make sure it is in the correct orientation, and working.
So let’s finally put everything together.
1.      Determine some method to attach your batteries to the drill and that they will fit.
2.      Determine if there are leads coming from the drill and which are + and – make sure they are long enough to reach the batteries.
3.      Solder the drills + lead to the + side of the batteries as well as another wire to attach to the diode and male/female connector later.
4.     Solder the – lead to the – side of the batteries as well as another wire to attach the male/female connector later.
5.      Solder the diode banded side lead to the extra wire we soldered to the + side.
6.      Solder one lead from the male/female connector to the non-banded side of the diode.
7.      Solder the remaining – lead to the remaining lead of the male/female connector
8.      Determine a way to mount the connector to the drill either drill a hole and glue it in or some other secure method.
9.      Solder the other half of the male/female connector to your solar panels (making sure your orientation matches up to the other half attached to the batteries)
10.  There are many ways to make this project look nicer and neater, some possibilities include encasing the back of your solar panels with fiberglass resin, to create a larger single panel, or using an old battery case (Dewalt etc) and taking out the old NiCd cells (please recycle, cadmium is deadly) and placing your new batteries, wires and diodes into the case, and closing it back up.
11.  Remember this should be fun, educational, and there is always a way to build a better mousetrap. I always love to hear others ideas and criticisms. If you have the skills (and time) you could include a charge control system or other features.
A few tips
1.      I always first just “soft wire” (as in, I twist the wires together) making sure none are touching and determine if my circuits work (like seeing if the drill works) before soldering things together.
2.      Double check the orientation of your male/female connector using your voltmeter before plugging them together and [with reverse polarity] possibly destroying your batteries.
3.      Make sure that any and all bare wires or soldered joints are not exposed. I use electrical tape, hot glue, and heat shrink tubing to cover all bare metal surfaces. If you don’t when you shove it all together then things will touch and short circuit.
The solar powered drill I made for free is still running strong after a year, and I’ve only had to recharge it once! Next solar project is a reciprocating saw!
Important safety note: Lithium ion batteries can explode if improperly recharged. (Read the pertinent news headlines.) Make sure you know what you are doing before attempting this project. There is no charge controller in this simplified solar system so it is important to make sure not to over charge your batteries! I would monitor the voltage of your batteries the first time charging in full sun and determine the time it takes to reach full charge. That way you have idea about how long to keep it connected to the panels in the sun. Also note that the quality of the batteries you start with will largely determine how often it needs to be recharged. So if your batteries are on their last legs expect the same from the drill.

My #1 Son suggested this bit of practical knowledge over at The Art of Manliness: How to recognize when someone is drowning.

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S.D. suggested a great article on trash can EMP shielding. JWR's Comment: Note that the typically-available mild steel wool has a tendency to rust, and that might induce rust on the contents of the can. So I'd recommend that you substitute stainless steel wool. This is particularly important if you live in a humid climate.

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Reader Luke D. sent an items that is hardly a news flash to SurvivalBlog readers: Law Enforcement Professionals Say Gun Restrictions are Ineffective

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Loyal contributor F.G. sent: How did America’s police become a military force on the streets?

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U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement

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America's mass media tends to downplay mass murders, when arson is the weapon. This is just the latest murderous arson attack in Africa. School dormitories have been firebombed before. If this had happened in America, and guns had been used, then we'd be hearing a lot more about this. It must be frustrating for leftist journalists when the news doesn't match their agenda.

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." - Colossians 2:6-9 (KJV)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Camping Survival's 25% off sale on Mountain House foods will run until tomorrow, July 7th. Meanwhile, Freeze Dry Guy has been given permission to extend their 25% Off Special on All Mountain House #10 Cans through July 10, 2013.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Disclaimer: Please use common sense in applying anything you read here!

In the (European) country where I live in we have a lot of cooking shows on television, and I never cease to be both shocked and amazed at seeing (some – thank God not all) professional chefs taste their exquisite creation with a spoon  and then put that spoon straight back into the pot. So, if anyone feels offended by my stating the obvious below, please don´t take it personally. For preppers/ survivalists/ people who want to be self sufficient there are of course a host of reasons to take more care of health and hygiene than a well-paid television chef, since hospitalizing all your family for food poisoning is hardly an option, especially in case the Schumer has already has ”Hit The Fan.” This article also was inspired by a debate in a prepper /survivalist forum on the dangers of reheating food.

First of all: obsessing with hygiene can be taken too far – as exemplified by the fact that “normal” exposure to dirt and germs stimulates the immune system, and that incessant hand washing can be a sign of severe psychological trauma. So that being said, we are talking “hygiene to keep you and your family healthy, not paranoid about cleanliness” here.
Some general food safety tips:

  • Put food that needs cool storage back immediately, and cool leftovers down as fast as possible! Milk warms up one degree Celsius/ two degrees Fahrenheit per minute at room temperature. Fast cooling minimizes germ growth.
  • Heat food fast! Germs and yeasts multiply at an alarming rate if you let a pot heat up on low setting (or if you allow it to cool down slowly).  Exceptions are if you work sterile, i.e. canning or decoctions.
  • Never reheat mushroom dishes, if possible also avoid reheating fish.
  • Ditto for spinach and rhubarb dishes, the oxalic acid somehow doesn´t like reheating.
  • Never feed spinach or rhubarb to babies and animals because of the oxalic acid.
  • A pinch of sugar (or maybe a tiny speck of stevia) in salty food (i.e. sauces) and a pinch of salt in sweet dishes (or bread) makes food taste better, BUT: keep salt levels very low for baby food.
  • Moderation is important, it is possible to die from carrot (or rather carrot juice) poisoning, but too little vitamin A and your eyesight (especially night vision) suffers.  For the same reason also never eat (or feed your dogs) Polar Bear liver if you get the chance, the effects I don´t even want to write about.
  • Nowadays, if you eat meat, at least stay away from liver in general since poisons land there. (And foie gras is most often a product of animal cruelty, so stay away from that too).
  • Meats and fish often carry parasites and diseases (not to mention if raw or undercooked) and can be difficult to store, whereas nuts and seeds on their own, and pulses (beans, peas, lentils) in combination with grains have roughly the same percentage of protein as meat;  so also for food safety reasons consider going vegetarian or  vegan.                                                     
  • Humans and guinea pigs are the only mammals that do not produce vitamin C on their own, so feed yourself and your guinea pigs a steady (daily) supply of pine needles, rose hips, sweet peppers, bell peppers or citrus juices. (The last: pure for you, mixed in water for your guinea pigs).

(As a vegetarian I of course do not recommend eating your guinea pigs, but they are very useful as well as friendly animals: Their social squeaking is said to keep rats away, they will mow and fertilize your lawn, and the long haired ones have useful fur that is similar to angora rabbits, although longer and thicker:)

If you reheat leftovers, use a clean pot (i.e. not the one you stored the food in overnight), cut everything into small pieces – minimum thumb thick if possible, and use a wooden ladle to move things around to get all parts of the food up to temperature FAST.

[Some deleted, for brevity.]

Aluminum pots are an absolute NO-NO –especially for acid foods. If you only have aluminum pots, please exchange these as soon as possible, same with Teflon coated frying pans.                

 The old Romans apparently went crazy from lead poisoning via their water pipes and face make up; the Mad Hatter was mad like many members of his trade in Alice´s time because of the mercury used to cure the felt for top hats. [Except in remote regions], today´s water supply contains antibiotics and hormones (i.e. from industrial meat and milk production),  so at least avoiding adding to this load seems like a very good idea.

At our home we use stainless steel pots but we use just wooden spoons in them, to avoid scratching metal particles into our food. Ceramic glass pots are very good for metal free cooking, but on the other hand, if you break one of these you have zillions of very dangerous and needle sharp glass shards to handle plus wasted food plus tons of work with wads of wet paper plus vacuum cleaning until every single glass needle is taken care of. After one such accident we now move our one remaining ceramic glass pot with ultra extreme care and put it on a thick piece of wood or fabric when hot to avoid temperature shock breakage. Another drawback of the ceramic glass pots is that germs seem to reproduce at an alarming rate in there when cooling, rendering these pots useless for storing food in. Probably old fashioned cast iron or even earthenware pots are best for everything, if you can get them. But: avoid red, orange or yellow glazes in pots (nineteen-seventies craze) since these colors contain cadmium, another metal you want to keep out of your body. Pure cast iron pots should be okay even if rusting, (especially for vegetarians since they do not get iron from blood and meat) but if you own enameled iron pots, please stop using them for food if the enamel is cracked, certainly if chips are breaking off, since eating these enamel pieces  more or less equals eating glass.

One metal that seems to be helpful against germs and for immunity is silver, here is a link that was previously presented in SurvivalBlog. This public health link indicates that you have to work very hard at it to get any kind of negative reaction to silver at all, but again, moderation is the key - just do a picture search on "blue skin colloidal silver" (if you ingest too much colloidal silver your skin really turns gray-blue, permanently), but this seems to be purely a cosmetic problem connected to intentionally ingesting large amounts, not by using silver for eating or storing food.

Both tradition and research indicate that eating off of silver is a good idea for general health and immunity, so get your inherited silver flatware out of the box and use it for every day. If you search flea markets/ Craigslist etc., look for “Sterling Silver” or a small 925 stamp somewhere on the handle, preferably not “Silver Plated” (depending on the thickness the silver layer wears off one day), and definitely not “Nickel Silver” or “German Silver” which actually mean “no silver”. Knife blades might be stainless steel, even in “real silver” flatware, but at least the spoons and forks are pure silver all through.

Another food safety issue is Bisphenol A (BPA) contained in the inner white coating in food cans and in soft plastic water bottles,  so try to buy canned food in glass instead of metal, and/or do us much of your canning at home as possible. Store filtered water in clear glass bottles, so you can use the solar disinfecting method (lying flat at least 6 hours in full sunlight).
To avoid dust, that actually can contain a surprising amount of germs, parasite eggs and other nasties like molds settling on your plates and in your cups, I would suggest keeping glasses etc.,(and even books),  behind cupboard doors or at least curtains, and mop you floors daily.

To round out this article, I should mention that I did a web search on “clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy” I found this page with some interesting recipes and further tips for home cleaning.

The latest on concealed carry in The Land of Lincoln Obama. (Thanks to "S." for the link.) And Mark sent: Illinois Gov. Quinn triggers backlash after changing concealed-carry bill.

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Reader Stephen S. wrote to mention that he got the following confirmation on the use of deep chamber flute barrels from the management at PTR: "All of our rifles have run the same chamber as the G.I. [variant] rifles since the G.I. rifles were brought to market.  This means that regardless of model, all of our current rifles will shoot the same ammo."

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And Now They Trample The Third Amendment

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From videoblogger The Patriot Nurse: Preppers and Survivalists Will DIE. (Thanks to Jeff H. for the link.)

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J.H.B. sent: New 'armor piercing' ammo legislation might outlaw nearly all rifle ammunition

"[[A Psalm of David.]] I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.
I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; [it] shall not cleave to me.
A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked [person].
Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
Mine eyes [shall be] upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.
He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.
I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD." - Psalm 101 (KJV)

Friday, July 5, 2013

The wicked DDOS ("Ping") hacker attack on SurvivalBlog is still in progress. Thanks for your patience while we get the site back up and running on one of our backup servers.


Camping Survival's 25% off sale on Mountain House foods will run until July 7th. Meanwhile, Freeze Dry Guy has been given permission to extend their 25% Off Special on All Mountain House #10 Cans through July 10, 2013.


Today we present a guest post by the well-known video blogger Wranglerstar. His fascinating blog chronicles his many projects at his full-time retreat in the Pacific Northwest, in the shadow of the Cascade mountains. He and his wife emphasize practical "how to" educational segments on tools, skills, and old-fashioned technologies for self-sufficiency. I highly recommend that you dig through the archives of his video blogs, which are rapidly growing. They include a great wealth of practical knowledge and will help you avoid some frequent pitfalls.

Ten years ago, my wife and I, as young newlyweds, were living the American dream. Our future was bright. While my wife earned a lucrative salary and I built a successful online business, we were on the road to success.  Our urban lifestyle provided us with everything our hearts desired.  In 2006 everything changed.  With the collapse of the housing bubble and the economy in a tailspin, we woke up to the fact that our easy urban lifestyle was fragile and dependent on factors far outside of our control.  We began to be alarmed at the precariousness of our current situation. We asked ourselves what we would do if the economy continued to deteriorate and we could no longer depend on the comfortable income we had so long enjoyed.  We considered our options and tried to determine what we could do to lessen our dependency on others and build in security for our family’s future.  After much prayer, we decided to radically change our way of life. We put our house up for sale and resolved to move to a remote location and become modern homesteaders. 

Our first step was to find a suitable location. Every weekend we loaded up the van and started looking for off-grid properties.  With an eye towards self-reliance we determined our future property must include four things: 1) a reliable water supply independent from municipal sources; 2) a climate that would support growing our own food; 3) an adequate forest that could provide firewood for heat and lumber for building material; 4) a defendable property far enough from major cities to be safe from the influx of an urban exodus in the case of natural or man-made disaster.  We decided on an area east of the Cascade Mountains in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.

After years of searching we found what we considered to be the perfect location for our future off-grid homestead.  We purchased the land and set to work.  Our new property was bare, forested land. Having a background in construction and site development, I was undaunted by the scope of work needing to be performed.  Clearing land, logging, construction, building roads, installing septic systems and water wells were within my scope of abilities.

Before we started we had resolved to build out of pocket and complete the job debt free.  We had made the necessary preparation and everything was accounted for and a go. What we didn’t consider were the road blocks about to be put up before us by the county building department and the dramatic increase in the cost of building materials. I have been in construction for a long time and am familiar with building department requirements, engineering, and the inspection process.  Very early on I began to sense a perceptible resistance by the building department to sign off on our building plans. It seemed to me we were trying to hit a moving target with continuous requests for changes in engineering and permitting requirements.  I cannot say with certainty that the building department was actively trying to make our life difficult. I think perhaps our project was so far out of their general scope of knowledge that they were reluctant to give approval over fear they may become liable for unforeseen problems in the future.

With the cost of development skyrocketing and the demands of the building department becoming ever more difficult we were quickly reaching the point of no return.  We were faced with a very difficult decision: Do we continue to bang our heads against this proverbial wall or cut our losses; take the remaining money we still had; and purchase a homestead with an intact infrastructure? The thought of pulling up stakes and starting over was heartrending. We had already invested thousands of dollars clearing timber, building roads, and installing a septic system and fresh-water well. We had fallen in love with our future home site and developed relationships with neighbors that continue to this day.

With time and money running low a decision had to be made. We pulled the plug, loaded up the van and hit the road searching for a place we could call home.  I believe my wife and I looked at every  property for sale in the county. Toward the end of a long day of searching we came over a rise in the road and were treated to a spectacular view of the Cascade Mountains.  My wife motioned to me to stop!  To our left stood an old "for sale" sign and a promising homestead property with a modest house and several barns and out- buildings.  We immediately got out of the van and investigated the property. We quickly realized it had everything we had been looking for: strategic location, favorable climate, ample water, timber and nearly move-in ready.  I’m not going to go into the long and arduous process we went through to purchase our homestead, but to make a long story short, we now call it home.

Preparing for the Future.
In late November we took position of the property and moved in. The homestead had been abandoned and was in pretty rough shape. Winter was bearing down upon us and a lot of work needed to be done. Time was running short and the harsh winter snows were looming on the horizon. With my family living onsite in my parents’ fifth-wheel trailer we started to work.  It was as if we had been thrust back into the 19th century.  We had no heat or water in the house. Pipes had frozen and burst. The woodstove was so old and worn that it was no longer safe to use; which would not have helped much anyway since we had no firewood.  This experience was very eye-opening for our family. I was amazed how dependent we had become on modern conveniences like warm water, a furnace with a thermostat, and grocery stores so close that a person need not worry about food storage or maintaining a pantry.  The hardships of our first winter were a disguised blessing. We began to realize many short comings and vulnerabilities in our preparations. It has been said that every boxer has a plan until he gets hit in the nose. Our noses had been bloodied and we resolved our second winter would not be a repeat of the first. 

We needed a plan. My wife and I counseled together to determine our most pressing needs.  As an avid outdoors man I learned and at early age the four things one does if lost in the wilderness: 1) build a shelter; 2) provide a source of heat; 3) secure water; 4) find food.  With a sturdy house and a dry roof we moved to step 2 - provide heat and warmth. We purchased a used woodstove and chimney pipe and installed them in the front room.  With perseverance, determination, and a lot of very wet firewood we had a reasonably warm house.  Just when our conditions started to improve a severe ice storm knocked out our power for nine days.  With the well pump out-of-service we were forced to devise a water source that could operate independent from the power grid.  How difficult it is for the modern mind to shift from the conventional way of doing things.  If you need to pump water you have two options, correct? Either you use an electric or a gasoline powered pump. With the electricity to our home shut off this left only one alternative.  With the nearest gas station many miles away down a treacherous ice-covered road, running a generator 24 hours a day is a less than ideal solution.  One of the most important lessons homesteading has taught me is to stop trying to reinvent the wheel and to look to the old ways of getting a job done.  I searched the internet for an alternative approach to our water problem. Lo and behold I found a 16th Century solution to a 21st Century problem, the ram pump.

YouTube is a modern homesteader’s best friend.  By watching several videos I learned how to build a simple pump constructed of common plumbing supplies that operates on the kinetic energy of falling water. We now had a solution to our water emergency.  By combining this simple pump with a small water tower, we were able to provide water for drinking as well as an adequate supply for irrigating our garden.  I’m not suggesting our grandfathers had all the solutions but much can be gleaned from their past experience and the solutions they devised for similar problems we face today. It seems to me that the modern homesteader who combines the old-tried and true techniques with modern technology can devise simple and robust solutions for nearly any problem. 

With shelter, heat, and water issues sorted we began to look at our food supply. Our first spring was fast approaching as we planned our garden.  We homestead in an alpine forested area where we need to protect our garden from deer and elk. We settled on an area close to the house and began the construction of an 8 foot high perimeter fence and headed down the road to food independence

Fast forward a year and a half.  Life on the homestead is much different.  We have learned a great deal.  My father used to say that it’s amazing how much a man can get done when he has to. This has certainly been true for our homestead experience.

JWR Adds: Be sure to follow their homesteading adventures, videoblogged at Wranglerstar.com.

For those following Orange Jeep Dad: He just got his grandfather's 1949 Ford 8N tractor running!

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The Montrose a Prepper recently had some interesting observations of the threat that feral dogs will pose, come TEOTWAWKI, in a piece that was cross-posted at Lew Rockwell's site.

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Please ask your congresscritters to support this bill that would at least partially secure America's power infrastructure: H.R. 2417: Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act

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And speaking of our technological infrastructure, see: EMP Attack and Solar Storms, Part II: Cascading Failures and Nuclear Meltdown

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There is a new, free Internet magazine of interest, but for your privacy I recommend that you access it only through an anonymous proxy or via your local library web terminal: Militia Magazine (http://militiamagazine.com/july13/index.html) You do have untraceable proxy web access, right? If you don't, then you are behind the power curve.

"Can our form of government, our system of justice, survive if one can be denied a freedom because he might abuse it?" - Former NRA President Harlon Carter

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A wicked DDOS ("Ping") hacker attack on SurvivalBlog began just before midnight, GMT, on July 3rd. This was obviously timed for maximum effect, since the hackers assumed that the Sys-Admins at our server site would be on vacation. Thanks for your patience while we get the site back up and running on one of our backup servers.


Happy Fourth of July, America! Please pray that our liberty is restored. Plan, purchase, train, and set the course of your actions to make that happen!


The U.S. Merchant Marine sustained the highest per capita losses of any service group in World War II.  They are still often excluded from official remembrances and honors.  Isn't it time that our nation recognized their service and sacrifice during World War II before they've all passed away?


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

A friend and I recently discussed some of the possible physical difficulties that might be associated with a rapid exfiltration from a devastated area during a major grid-down scenario.  We thought it would be interesting to explore the personal effects of increased stress, combined with decreased caloric intake, which might be encountered while “bugging-out.”  We wanted to move away from academic knowledge to personal experience, so we created a seven day bug-out “challenge” for ourselves.  

Background note: my survivalist friend was a U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam and then spent his career working on computers.  I'm a 46-year-old male who exercises daily by running and lifting weights.  I'm also a Wilderness EMT-B and I teach wilderness survival and wild plant skills as serious hobbies.  We both grew up in rural Utah, and we’ve spent many years backpacking throughout the Rocky Mountains.  We also invited another survivalist buddy (lawyer) to participate in the seven day challenge. 

The Challenge

  • Consume only 1,200 calories daily 
  • Run 5K or bike 10K each day
  • Work manual labor (or) lift weights one hour each day
  • Sleep only 6 hours a night on the floor or ground
  • Refresh your (heavy) bug-out bag and wear it at least 30 minutes a day
  • Capstone: Run 15K or bike 30K with a (light) pack at the end of the challenge

We picked 1,200 calories per day because this is the approximate amount of freeze-dried survival rations that we carry in our bug-out bags (and it's also the amount with which we've stocked our families' bug-out bags).  The idea was to test these calorie limits while under increased stress.  We couldn't simulate everything perfectly, as we still had to work each day and support our families.  However, we thought this limited set of experiences would be achievable and educational. 

Our friend the lawyer never started the challenge.  In addition, my Marine Vet friend shifted to 2,000 calories by the third day after struggling with effects of calorie reduction, although he continued with the physical challenges.  I personally stopped the challenge after five days – here’s why:  

Body Temperature
By the end of the second day I started getting cold and then I stayed cold.  I went from one blanket to two at night.  This was odd for me, as I don't get cold very often.  My metabolism is fairly high and I was probably feeling the effects of a reduced metabolic rate as my body adjusted to fewer calories.  One takeaway is that in a major crisis, I would probably want a larger sleeping bag than the ultra-light one I currently carry.  In addition, I'll probably include an extra base layer of lightweight underwear just to maintain body heat when additional food isn't available.   

Physical Fatigue
Under these austere conditions, by the third day I was taking nearly twice as long to run my standard 5K route (7,000s-foot elevation, two large hills).  For me that was huge, as I run this route regularly.  After four days of this grueling exercise regime, I became a little light-headed just climbing a few flights of stairs.  The lack of calories really affected my overall physical performance.  Occasionally while I ran, I would get a weak out-of-body feeling.  I felt feeble in my arms when I did pushups or worked outside with a shovel.  I also experienced difficulty sleeping only six hours -- I was a little wired at night, but then I had trouble getting up the next morning.  My stomach growled constantly and I even experienced low blood sugar "shakes" in my hands after exercising.  I simply didn't have the fuel to perform at normal levels.  A key takeaway is that I'll need to factor in a slower pace when backpacking and running long distances, as well as more time to complete light construction and related manual labor during a crisis.  I might also need a small, manual-wind alarm clock of some kind.

Lack of Mental Clarity
By the fourth day images of food consumed most of my mental down time.  When I wasn't thinking about family or work, I found myself drifting off while wistfully envisioning peanut butter on bread.  I love peanut butter, and my brain probably associates that food with calories, so images of peanut butter became my near constant companion.  I awoke the morning of day five to a vivid Technicolor dream of eating stacks of pancakes in my grandmother’s kitchen.  I also found myself mentally "dull" or not as "quick" when it came to making decisions and/or responding to everyday challenges.  The takeaway here is that with a fuzzy head, falling back on training will become important during a crisis.  As a Wilderness EMT-B we are drilled to follow standardized patient treatment pathways and protocols for every single medical scenario.  This ensures that we hit all the critical steps while under stress.  During a collapse, training will probably dictate many of my decisions when I’m too hungry and exhausted to think clearly. 

By the fourth day I also began to get a sore throat (remember that we were really pushing ourselves physically).  My immune system was clearly weakened due to lack of food and sleep.  I'm sure that if this exhausting regime continued for another few weeks, sickness would become my constant companion.  I responded to the sore throat by sleeping an extra hour, popping lots of vitamin C, and drinking more liquids.  This helped, but what if I couldn't add another hour of sleep or if I didn't have a ready supply of vitamin C?  I could potentially supplement with wild rose hips, which are plentiful in my area (even during winter).  But what if I didn't know what plants to use?  Historically, during wars and other periods of extreme deprivation, more deaths occurred from malnutrition and sickness than from direct hostilities.  When your immune system is weakened, a simple cold that you dodged during seasons of plenty might become a serious health concern.  My takeaway here (besides obviously trying to eat and sleep more when possible) is to throw into my bug-out bag a small bottle of multivitamins and/or vitamin C, as well as dedicating even more study time to what local plants may be helpful (albeit feebly) when sick.      

Behavioral Changes
My wife complained that I was grouchy during the challenge.  I've learned that care must be taken to control irritability and the tendency to snap at others in your family or team when fatigue sets in from too many sleepless nights and not enough food.  Kindness and patience come easily when your stomach is full, your family is happy and healthy, you are fully employed, and your DVR successfully records your favorite television program.  But can you practice charity and self-control when everything is collapsing around you and you can't even think clearly?

Weight Loss
After the fourth day I was down nine pounds.  This much weight loss in such a short period of time simply wasn't healthy – I pulled the plug on our little experiment at the end of day five.  I remember once reading an article on SurvivalBlog.com that suggested being 10 pounds overweight during a system collapse might be advantageous.  As a middle-aged exercise junkie I thought "how could being 10 pounds overweight be even remotely beneficial?"  Well, I've just learned that under stress and with reduced caloric input, I'll easily burn 10 pounds or more in a week if I'm carrying a heavy pack and dragging my family away from a crisis zone.  Of course, the assumption here is that one is in excellent physical shape (regardless of being a few pounds overweight) so they can actually perform under great duress.  Over the course of the last year I’ve increased my exercise regime knowing that being in shape may be the difference between living and dying in a collapse scenario. 

I cheated twice during the experiment.  I ate an extra 100 calories of peanut butter on two separate occasions.  My body was literally screaming for food and my brain was starting to rebel.  Most folks will probably cheat a little bit under similar conditions.  But stealing a few extra calories now and then may reduce how long you can survive with your given stash.  Because I teach wild plant food skills and I grew up hunting, I'll (theoretically) be able to augment my food storage with a few (very few) additional calories.  But knowing that I have a tendency to want more calories than I currently have stashed for myself and my family, my personal takeaway is to add to my total larder (and especially to our bug-out bags) while the stores are still open.  My initial estimates of how much food my family will need while bugging out (or “bugging in”) were too low.        

Coincidentally, I had a doctor’s appointment immediately following the challenge.  The nurse asked if I was dehydrated, as she had a very difficult time finding a vein from which to draw blood.  My resting heart rate was approximately 64 and my blood pressure was approximately 106 over 71.  I thought I had been over-hydrating during the increased exercise.  It turns out I hadn’t hydrated adequately.  I also gained back about two pounds later that day when I ate as many peanut butter granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, and glasses of milk as I could hold!  I diligently lived up to the exercise component of our challenge, and I learned that I simply wasn’t drinking enough water (and I thought I was pretty good at hydrating).  The takeaway here is that in a crisis, forcing yourself to drink more water than you want (or can perhaps even hold on a shrunken stomach) will be critical.  Water will always be more important than food in any crisis.  I probably need to add an additional water bottle (or two) to my bug-out bag in case finding water becomes difficult.               

“Survival Is Not Fun”
This real-world experiment might seem a little strange to most, but I personally learned a great deal about how my mind and body react to stress, increased physical exertion, and the significant lack of calories that will accompany many of the larger collapse scenarios.  Your experiences may vary under similar conditions based on your own level of fitness and your personal metabolic rate.  The ultimate goal here was to test ourselves, our equipment, and our survival food choices.  We achieved that goal, although the experience wasn’t much fun.  As Les Stroud of Survivorman fame states: “Survival is not fun.  It’s not pretty.  It’s never comfortable.  It may involve eating gross things, enduring pain and deprivation, and battling fatigue and loneliness.”  Prior to this exercise I was quite cavalier about how little food I would need to maintain optimal performance levels under stress (I'm invincible, right?).  Now I know from personal experience that I need to eat more calories and drink more water than I previously estimated if I want to stay physically and mentally sharp during the first critical phases of any future collapse.

We have begun our corn harvest. We just finished canning the corn from 2 rows of hybrid sweet corn. We planted two rows 100 feet long. We made approximately 400 ears of corn. From this we ate all we wanted and canned 39 quarts and 12 pints whole kernel. We don’t can any cream style, because it doesn’t do well. Many times the corn has a musty taste. We put it in jars rather than the freezer to protect it from a grid down scenario. We gave 20 ears to a local widow, and 48 ears to a local gentleman in his mid 80’s.

I plant my corn seed in pairs about 6 to 12 inches apart and ½” deep.   They can be a little deeper, but not much closer to the surface of the soil.  I drop my seed by hand. It doesn’t take long once you develop a method. I can drop a 200 foot row in about 10 minutes. I usually plant a couple weeks before the last frost date, because it takes awhile for the seed to sprout. The frost may “bite” the young corn plant, but not kill it. A hard freeze is another matter. The soil temperature should be 55 deg. F. and rising. Corn requires a lot of fertilizer. I place 13-13-13 in the row and mix with soil and then drop my seed and cover them with soil. When the corn approaches 2 feet in height, I apply another band of 13-13-13 by the plants and cover with dirt along with any grass or weeds that escaped any previous plowing.        

We are growing 3 more types of corn, most of which is drying on the stalk in the field. We purchased some Golden Bantam heirloom variety corn from an Internet seed business, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I purchased this seed because there was no local source for non-hybrid heirloom sweet corn seed. After planting and eating a little, I highly recommend it. It has a very large starchy kernel. It is unique because the kernels are extremely easy to bite off the cob when cooked due to the shape of the kernel and the spacing of the attachment points to the cob. This corn would be easy to bite with dentures. It also has two other things that I like. The stalks are very short when mature (5 feet), which makes it wind resistant and it requires a lot less moisture to grow a 5 foot stalk compared to an eight foot stalk. I’m saving all this seed for future planting. The only negative is the ears are rather small.

I’ve planted 20 rows 200 feet long of heirloom Yellow Dent corn. I purchased this at a local feed store. I was also given some by a neighbor. These corn stalks have reached a height of 8 feet and have huge ears, usually two per stalk, due to all the rain we’ve had this year. I plan to use this as feed for my geese and ducks, for grinding into corn meal, and extra feed for my herd of donkeys. I will also save at least five 5-gallon buckets for seed for the future and for barter.

I’ve planted 10 rows 200 feet long of pencil cob corn. This is an heirloom variety that is grown locally. I purchased the seed from a local feed store. I’m growing this corn as the primary feed for my donkeys in a “worst case” scenario. The cobs of this variety are only ½” in diameter. You can easily break the ears into 3 pieces by hand. My donkeys will eat the whole piece and they love it. When commercial feed is no longer available, this will be their primary feed along with grass or winter fodder. This corn also makes excellent corn meal.

Since I’m nearly 60 years old and can remember things well, I can remember the first hay baler in this area. The hay was cut with a horse-drawn mower. After it cured or dried it was pulled with a horse drawn rake to the stationary baler where it was pitch forked into the baler and hand tied. Why am I including this in a corn essay? The reason is that I want to share some information that few people remember or know. What did poor farmers do before these hay making methods came along? What did farmers do that didn’t have the land to raise hay? The answer is in the corn field. Once you have picked the ripe corn for canning, you go back and cut down the stalk, place them in small bunches until they air dry. They are then placed in a dry storage area until fed in the winter. If the corn is to be dry harvested, you cut the stalk off above the highest ear after the silk has turned completely brown. Then do the same as the above. If you want more feed, then you go back and pull the leaves from the standing stalk, twist them together in a small sheave and hang them between the ear and stalk. Once these have air dried, place them in dry storage. You then return and pull the dried ears of corn a few weeks later. The ear will be turned down and the shuck will be completely dry. All that will be left in the corn field is a short corn stalk to be removed before the next planting. The corn field will now be filled with grass and weeds by this time. This is when I turn in the cows and let them clean the field. This method requires many hours of hard labor. Right now, I’m continuing to use my diesel tractor and round baler, but I know what to do if these items are no longer available. Doing this will provide you with many tons of feed for your donkeys and milk cow thru the winter. My father used this dried corn fodder to feed his family’s plow horse and milk cows. This is how my father as a young boy and his family survived the Great Depression. My father said they never had any money during this time, but they were never hungry. He always smiled when he spoke of these times. - M.E.R.

In their latest podcast, the folks at the Pantry Paratus blog interviewed Pete Kennedy, the president of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.  They represent small farmers who are being targeted through government policies and regulations.  An interesting podcast!

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Hikers rescued trying to reach famed 'Into the Wild' bus. JWR's Comment: Someday, a spectacularly unprepared hiker visiting this Shrine to Lack of Preparedness is going to die of exposure. OBTW, a similar locale exists in Utah, where people want to visit the spot where Aron Ralston was forced to amputate his own hand.

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Reader B.B. sent this food for thought: Unless You Win

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True Defiance: I Challenge You To Survive The Coming Collapse

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RBS sent: Get Ready for Invading Asian Tiger Mosquitoes

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Joe H. liked this one: A female perspective on carrying and encounters in public and online.

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An interesting homemade air gun.

"Individuality, liberty, and property-- this is man, and in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation and are superior to it." - Frederic Bastiat

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Today (Wednesday, July 3, 2013) is the last day of Freeze Dry Guy's 25% Off Special All Mountain House #10 Cans. And meanwhile, Camping Survival has started their own 25% off sale, which runs until July 7th.


Today we present another entry for Round 47 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 Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) Two BirkSun.com photovoltaic backpacks (one Level, and one Atlas, both black), with a combined value of $275, G.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and H.) A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com. 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 FloJak.com. D.) $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P.), E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (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 ends on July 31st so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

My story begins as another closet prepper.  As many of you, I did not have the support of my spouse for my new found drive to prepare for the unknown. Often I would attempt to sneak items that I planned to lay up long-term into the grocery bill without her noticing. I would even have online purchases delivered to a neighbor claiming to him that it was for her birthday or our anniversary. Needless to say, I usually (always) got caught, which would lead to long discussions about me "wasting money."  As fate and the good lord would have it, I finally got my window of opportunity to prove what I was doing had merit. 

As I recall, it was late February. Pennsylvania had another one of its wonderful snow storms topped with ice. We awoke without power to a somewhat chilly house and a few feet of snow.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  The morning, afternoon, and early evening went as they usually would without power.  However we were starting to become concerned because power is usually restored in no more than 16 hours. My son was only about a year old at this time so his needs were a little more than our own. The house was becoming colder and as a new mother, my wife was starting to become unglued.  Although I upgraded our home with multiple heating sources (not without protest and a little help from the bank), all of them required electricity to operate the circulating pumps. A major new prepper mistake. Our refrigerator was slowly starting to warm, making us concerned about his supply of milk. Lucky for me, I made one of my "secret" purchases a few weeks back.  I had attended an estate auction in town and purchased a small gasoline operated generator.  At the time, I had no idea if it was large enough to run anything other than the drill I used to test its function ability.  I was also afraid of somehow burning my house down with a electrical fire.  It was around hour 36 of the outage when her meltdown occurred and she looked to me to fix the situation as she always has.  In her eyes I am the man of the house, the provider.  It is my job to fix and solve the things that end up over her head.  I bundled up and headed out the back door to the shed, hoping my plan would work.  Lucky for me it did.  About 45 minutes later I had the coal stoker and the refrigerator up and running.  We had heat.  As I returned to the house, I could easily read the look in my wife's eyes.  It was her classic "I don't know how you did it, but you did and I love you for it" look.  I was their hero. I saved the day. That is when the dimly lit light bulb went off in my head.  After a long discussion and a few confessions on where the generator came from, I had her convinced.  Without my purchase, we would have had no choice but to brave the roads to a unknown family members house, with our son in the car, in the middle of another wave of storms.  This is when she saw the light and realized that not all of the "wasted money" was really wasted.  I drove this entire concept home throughout the entire 4 days without power.  Without my inexpensive siphon, I wouldn't have been able to use some of the gas from the vehicles to keep the generator running.  Without the powdered milk, what would the little man have had?  Without the bottled water?  Without the small propane burner?  The list kept going.  Needless to say, I was in a bit of trouble with all of these "secret" items I had hid from her view, but I was forgiven quickly.  After all those months of trying to get her on the bus, it only took 36 hours without electricity.

Now that I had her partially on board, I was looking for opportunities to teach her skills that would benefit us in the future. The following summer provided several occasions for just that. My wonderful wife was raised by her grandparents who grew up in the classic "oldest of 12 kids during the depression" scenario. (In my humble opinion, this generation is one of the best untapped resources for learning new and useful skills and knowledge for a post-TEOTWAWKI situation.) Needless to say, they waste nothing and are avid gardeners. During one of our normal visits, her grandfather had mentioned to me that canning season was upon us and the next few weekends would be consumed by the task.  I volunteered us to give them a few extra sets of hands.  My wife was more than happy to give something back by helping out, and she had no idea she was learning a valuable skill.  After 3 consecutive Saturdays, she was canning like she had been doing it for years. During our weekly work parties, I got a chance to get some serious feedback from her Grandmother on the importance  of stocking up for the uncertain.  The advice from someone who has been there multiple times, some times worse than others, was truly priceless.  Coming from her grandparents, my wife took every word to heart.  She is now an avid canner, storing every small bit from our tiny undersized garden, and "clearance" farmers market deals.  Once she seen the savings of doing our own canning, this lead to more.  She now typically buys items in bulk from the warehouse stores.  Once you break the price of the item down per ounce and compare, the savings are obvious.  We now go looking for sales on food goods instead of the new Abercrombie store at the local shopping mall.  I can't complain a bit. We now have enough food in our pantry to sustain us for about three months.  All the savings have also started her into extreme couponing. She has created a sizable larder of things like tooth brushes, tooth pastes, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and razors.  She has even mentioned these would be great for charity or even barter for other comfort items. (I was so proud.) 

During a trip to an local amusement park, I inadvertently discovered my wife was incapable of reading a simple map accurately.  Before our trek into the park, I picked up two maps to help us get around.  I marked three separate and simple rally points (RPs) on the map. When something as simple a pre-determined RP has saved you in the past, it kind of sticks with you.  I often worry about an active shooter scenario when in a large group of people. My wife volunteered to go to the vehicle to retrieve some items for our son.  As the two of us continued around the park, my wife called me to find us.  After a quick scan of my surroundings, I noticed we were practically on top of rally point three.  After a few gripes, we hung up the phone and with the aid of her map, she headed off to rally point three.  Fifteen minutes later my phone rang again.  With her nowhere in sight, claiming to be at the RP, I asked her to describe her surroundings.  I was easily able to determine her location and meet her. She quickly became aggravated and defensive when I accused her of being lost. That is when I realized our bug out plan had a fatal flaw.  After a quick landmark recognition land navigation class, she led us around the rest of the day.  She still needed a little more advanced help.  Motivating her to learn something she has no interest in is extremely tough.  Lucky for me, I found Geocaching.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, Geocaching is where someone hides a cache (Usually an ammo can) with clues and coordinates on where to find it posted online. Inside the can you typically find a visitors log, and items to trade. A lot of newer GPS units have a feature built in for this from the factory. Some caches are entry level easy, increasing in difficulty to the multi-caches where only one point is published and once you find it, it gives a second location to find another.  During a family camping outing, I introduced it to her. After her first find, she was hooked.  Armed with my GPS, she was off to the next cache and I was playing catch up.  Once she had that mastered, I threw her a curve ball.  After obtaining a topographic map from the park office and making sure my compass was in my pack, her GPS batteries mysteriously went dead.  She had to find the last of her two day trek multi-cache.  After teaching her to plot to paper and correct for magnetic north, she found it easily.  (She actually did much better than most of the guys with whom I went to the Platoon Leader's Development Course (PLDC.) She also learned how difficult it was with a pack on your back and a baby strapped to your front.

Now that she is on the same page, knitting needles as mother's day gifts excite her.  She has started knitting and sewing some items for our boy.  Her ability to re-purpose items amazes me.  She even suggests going to the rifle range for our monthly date instead of dinner and a movie. She is even becoming a little obsessive about accuracy, taking over my reloading press for hours at a time.  Even showing her uncle how to "properly" shoot with a sling.  She is now constantly coming up with new ideas on how to store more stuff and other items we may need in our bug out bags. Her job as a bank teller even has her starting to stack pre-1965 silver.  Face value is the best way to buy! I highly recommend if you have a stubborn wife like I do, take any opportunity that arises to be used as a teaching opportunity. Be creative, and be persistent. Identify areas where they may not have the appropriate skills to carry out your plan, and find a way to get them involved.  I know this sounds cheesy, but you must be able to seize the opportunity.  If you can make it fun, they will learn without them even knowing it.  Some of these would also work great for kids.  With your spouse on board, two minds are better than one.  Wait for your opportunity to show them how awful it could be without prepping and the real reason behind it.  Be ready.  Molon Labe.

I think that you are off base when it comes to buying guns and precious metals. Both could go down in price. The same for ammo. And it has a shelf life. So why not buy stock in companies that that do well in both good and bad times? People always buy booze, and cigarettes and Pampers and Cheerios. So why not invest in the companies that make those? What is so [deleted] special about "tangibles"? Thanks For Your Time, - G.D.C.

JWR Replies:

First, I must mention that ammunition has a shelf life of at least 60 years, so I don't consider that an issue. Just be sure to store it in watertight milsurp ammo cans and toss a small packet of desiccant in each can. It will store just fine, for generations.

Now on to your main point: I don't recommend any dollar-denominated investments because presently the currency unit itself is at risk. People face the prospect of losing almost everything that they've earned if there is a transition to mass inflation. The U.S. money supply has been created in a near upright spike since 2008, and the public debt doubled in the same time period.

Buyers of silver and other precious metals can feel content for nine distinct reasons:

First, you are sheltering your wealth from the ravages of inflation. No matter what happens to paper currencies, your metals will always hold some value
Second, you are buying something liquid and instantly marketable
Third, you are buying something that is easily divisible. If for some reason you can't trade it for smaller increments, there is always the cold chisel.
Fourth, you are buying privacy. If you pay cash, there will be no paper trail.
Fifth, you are buying a useful tangible item.
Sixth, you are not buying someone else's liability.
Seventh, (for gold an platinum only) you are buying transportability. Precious metals trade in every nation. A million dollars in gold will fit in just a briefcase. (Albeit heavy.) But silver is about 65 times more bulky, per dollar.
Eighth, if you store you metals in a home vault or cache, you aren't at risk of losing your investment because of someone else's mistake. Companies rise and fall. So do currencies. So do banks. So do governments. But precious metals are just about impervious to all of that.
Ninth, because the money multiplier effect works in reverse whenever you withdraw cash from your bank account then you will help starve the banksters of their power.

All in all, I am very happy with how my investments have fared, since I switched to all tangibles. My ranch has only appreciated about 20%, but my silver has nearly quadrupled, and most of my ammo has tripled in value. Most of my guns have more than doubled in value.

Obviously tangibles investing is not for everyone. A pensioner that need interest or dividend income would not do well. But for most folks tangibles are a fine investment. Just keep in mind that ammunition and storage food must take precedence over investing in precious metals. - J.W.R.

"The federal government was not intended to be a charity, nor an insurance or retirement agency, nor doctor, pharmacist or health advisor, champion of the poor or rich, changer of foreign regimes, protector of the planet, educator, space explorer, diet and nutrition czar, arbiter of interest rates or prices or wages, nor trafficker in currency unsecured by gold or silver. As legally constituted it may neither promote nor restrict transfats, sugar, tobacco, alcohol, coal, gasoline, drugs, salt or food of any kind; nor may it enact legislation favoring or victimizing or exempting any gender, race or ethnicity. In short, those things DC is doing outside of its enumerated powers are unlawful." - Ol' Remus, The Woodpile Report

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The "Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course" has had surprisingly strong sales now that it is priced at less that $20. You'll get immediate delivery, via digital download.


Today we present a guest post from Mac Slavo, that first appeared in his SHTFPlan blog.

Editor’s Note: You have no doubt had your own set of issues dealing with friends and family members that simply don’t see the writing on the wall. The following article may serve to assist you in convincing those who simply don’t know, don’t want to know, don’t care, or have never even thought to contemplate. Some of the scenarios outlined below may be frightening, as they should be, because when it hits the fan millions of people will be thrown into desperation with no hope of a solution. Be Informed provides a variety of point-by-point details that may (and hopefully will) convince the non-prepared individual to at least insulate themselves with the basic necessities. The consequences for not doing so, as you’ll see, are severe and often deadly.

I have become personally so disenchanted with the way people fail to prepare. People still don’t understand how important it is to put away. I have gotten into arguments over this and had cretins call me a fool because I put away food, water, and supplies. I thought about this and the frustration that other preppers have with this laid back idiotic attitude that there is no need for preparation. There are good people that just can’t/won’t start preparing. They have the money to do so, but just don’t want to. Many have only seen what happens to non-preppers on television, but it still doesn’t make an impact.

In this article I detail some hard core realities to show just how awful it will be for those that don’t prep. Every one of these scenarios is something that has occurred to the non-prepper throughout history. While strong images come to mind, the purpose is to jar some people out of their inaction and into action before it is too late.

Preppers are good people and care much about those around them, and unless something does jar those around them that choose not to prep, their own survival chances could be reduced. For every bit of food, water, ammunition, or supplies you sacrifice to the non-prepper, the fewer irreplaceable supplies are left for you and your family in a crisis situation. It is hoped that the following can help certain people put into true perspective just how horrific it will be for those that don’t prepare.

Here are the awful consequences for those refusing to prepare.

As the world continues to decay at multiple facets, the common person has and continues to be lulled into a sense that everything is improving and will continue to for the distant future. After all, to them unemployment has peaked out and will drop until everyone that wants to work will easily be able to find good paying work, North Korea is no threat because all their long range “bottle rockets” fizz out, sanctions will eventually make Iran give up their nuclear program, oil prices will start going down after June or so, Europe will bail out Greece and Spain and everyone else, and U.S. debt will eventually come under control.

After 2012 everyone that has prepared themselves will go back to more “sensible” lives. “Good times are coming”, baseball season is here, let’s get back to watching some more crackerjack news.

It is amazing how people become good conversationalists with most others discussing all the gossip related news, while becoming mentally tranquilized into a totally deceptive state of denial of truly dangerous issues of the times. It’s the blind leading the blind… right off the cliff.

Rather than dealing with harsh reality, people surround themselves with easy to digest material that can be talked about without directly influencing anyone’s lives. Meaningless chatter. Even for those unwilling to even think to prepare for a societal catastrophic event, there is also no desire to even face the extreme possibility of a sudden loss of one’s employment. A personal SHTF.

Look at some of the terrible personal pain experienced in America right now – and it hasn’t even hit the fan on a grand scale. Those people who have lived it up on credit, who failed to put much of anything away for a rainy day, who’ve lost their job, and who eventually lost their unemployment benefits are experiencing the first level of collapse. This is happening to millions of people in our own country, all around us, as we speak.

These Americans, who once enjoyed the luxuries that modern living had to offer, are now at their wits end, with very little hope for a return to their previous lives. They are no longer able to pay most or any of their bills. Many have to humiliatingly turn to others for help to pay for food, or worse, to obtain old, unhealthy and poor tasting food from locally funded food banks. Their credit cards are totally worthless. Many have been evicted from their homes and have uprooted their families to live either on the street, in tent cities, with relatives, or have been forced to live at homeless shelters, They’ve have had their vehicles repossessed, or simply can’t afford the gasoline anymore. Their living conditions often make it difficult, if not impossible, to look presentable for job interviews. For many, the life of stability they knew just a short while ago is gone, replaced with fear and a constant stress to the point of nervous breakdown.

A personal economic meltdown is confined to the individual or family, or at worst a few families. The human civilization remains intact and so do society’s safety nets.

With food assistance, rental assistance, homeless shelters, and family to turn to, even the most destitute are almost always able to find some sort of help – however menial.

It is no wonder with these known assistance programs, then, that people have forgotten or never thought to consider what happens IF and WHEN human civilization goes through a strong enough SHTF event. If that happens on a mass scale what happens to everyone that needs help that has not prepared ahead of time? What happens when governments are in such total disarray or destroyed altogether that they can’t help even if they wanted to?

The media and others have portrayed the good people that sacrifice much if not all “luxuries” of life to prepare themselves and their family and friends for extreme times, as Chicken Littles. Those who have made the choice to store up emergency food, water, and other necessities to avoid extreme life threatening risks, including suffering horribly during and after a widespread SHTF event, are laughed at and ridiculed often for “wasting” their lives on delusional paranoia.

But who is delusional? Those who see the signs around them and understand how vulnerable the system is, or those who believe that things never change, that politicians have their best interests at heart, and that if the worst happens the government will be there to provide everything they may need?

How many have considered the dire consequences of their failure to prepare in the event that the infrastructure and everything a country’s people depend on totally collapses?

The misery from long term unemployment and lack of money is like a walk in the park compared to the severe anguish and dangerous conditions that await those who have failed to prepare for the aftermath of a large scale cataclysm. The “minor” problems of unemployment that seem extremely major and painful to most today should serve as a wake up call to what life will be like when something much, much worse happens – when those proverbial safety nets are no longer there to catch us.

Many preppers have become deeply frustrated at those around them, especially those that truly mean something to them, because they simply refuse to put away anything at all for emergencies. The prepper is usually a person that cares a lot and it is often difficult for them to take a tough stance towards the people that they care about. However, unless someone changes the habits of those people that fail to get ready, decisions will need to be made, and they won’t be easy.

The choice of what the prepared prepper should do will boil down to either either adding these people to their own circle or survival group and reduce the group’s safety, supplies and self sufficiency, OR, they will have to let the non-prepper fend for themselves. This is a very personal choice, and each of us will need to decide based on our own morals, ethics and personal relationships.

As a last ditch effort, discussing the following scenarios with the non-prepper may help them understand what life will be like without what has sustained them so comfortably for so long.

This is the hard reality the non prepper needs to understand:

  • Without power the water company cannot get water to their faucets. Without water dehydration occurs within 24 hours. Dehydration causes much suffering before death.
  • Toilets in homes, unless they have an incineration toilet that still need power to work, don’t flush without water. Where will they go to the bathroom and then where will they dispose of human waste?
  • There will be no clean water available anywhere, especially in major cities, and they cannot live more than about three days without it.
  • Drinking dirty and polluted water will make them incredibly sick and accelerate the dehydration process.
  • Polluted water must be purified and that means having a good filter, bleach or other disinfectant, or fuel and something to bring water near a boil.
  • Understand just how fragile the power and the infrastructure is that pumps water to the public. A breakdown in our power infrastructure or a cyber attack against utility systems will render them useless.
  • A single event can rapidly lead to a cascade of other events that would certainly collapse almost, if not, everything. This is why major snow storms, hurricanes or solar events in the past have affected millions of people in an entire region all at once.
  • A single, seemingly unimportant event may become quite terrible as its repercussions spread; this can include a far and away disaster.
  • Understand that the economies of the world are so interwoven that when one major economy falls it affects everyone.
  • Not having any food in the house means that if the stores are emptied suddenly in a bad enough situation that there will be no food available for a long period of time afterward. Recent history during disasters around the world has shown that stores can literally be emptied in minutes.
  • Think about how totally horrible the feeling of being very hungry is and what circumstances would cause one to be desperate enough to eat anything.
  • ALL stores can be closed instantly under martial law.
  • Understand that you may not be able to purchase anything after it starts, especially with any credit cards.
  • Understand the complexity of food and water distribution; breaks in these chains can stop anything from getting to the people.
  • What life will be like if no toilet paper is stored?
  • Understand that without modern light sources--interior, exterior, and street lighting. Some nights will be pitch black, often with zero visibility. [JWR Adds: Driving conditions will be a lot like England during the WWII Blackout. There, traffic fatalities were higher in some months that than the bombing fatalities.]
  • There will be no communications, other than probably martial law type of instructions over the radio, that is if they have batteries for the radio.
  • Other than ham and shortwave radio, any information that is available will be sent out by the government as filtered propaganda that “they” want everyone to hear.
  • Without power consider what it will be like to not have any heat to stay warm, or air conditioned air to stay cooler – with no way of alleviating the situation.
  • Traveling will likely be by foot or bicycle, as their will be no fuel and roadways may be blocked.
  • Realize that any travel outside of the home or neighborhood will be extremely dangerous as anyone who moves becomes a target
  • Non preppers will be pushed way beyond their limit because of lack of supplies.
  • The non prepper must realize their government does not really care about them individually, that they are a mere number and help will likely not come from them.
  • They have to figure out somewhere to get food. This can mean wild plants which they must know how to identify as safe, or risk poisoning themselves.
  • They have to understand that when we refer to “having no food” it doesn’t mean not having the food they are used to enjoying, it means no food to eat at all.
  • They have to understand that if they are fortunate enough to have any running water, they will probably have to bathe in cold water for lack of stored fuel to heat water.
  • They have to realize that the very strange and totally unexpected is going to be all around them, made that much worse because of lack of any reliable self defense stores or skills.
  • They might have to remain on the run constantly because of looking for water and food.
  • They must understand that bad will be magnified magnitudes to living misery because of lack of food, water, and other necessary items that they took for granted for so long.

Okay, now comes the “truly ugly and unthinkable” life that most, if not all, people that have failed and refused to prepare themselves will deal with. Clear vivid visualization is key here for anyone that ho hums the idea of prepping.

What horrors they will likely face after a cave-in of their nation’s economy, war, geophysical upheaval, or whatever crisis is bad enough to disturb or stop their nation from working and functioning? There are plenty of very potential SHTF events that are simply awaiting a catalyst to trigger them.

  • The Non-Prepper (NP) has to realize right off the bat that 911 and other emergency calls in will be met with silence or some recording telling the caller not to panic.
  • The NP that has no reliable self defense that can stop an attacker, will not get help from public services, and will become a victim of rape, assault, torture, or murder.
  • The NP that has no reliable self defense and will not only be at the mercy of criminal elements, but also have to contend with many desperate animals, some with rabies.
  • The NP that has no food will either have to find food or be ready to beg for food or worse, like sacrificing their bodies or other horrible acts or things to get a bite of food.
  • The NP will have to go through the worst, most rancid conditions of garbage to just maybe find what they should have stored up.
  • The NP will go through panic and near if not total psychosis looking for any water source right before their bodies begin shutting down during advanced stages of dehydration.
  • The NP will go through unbearable mental trauma when their children and other people around them are crying, screaming, and suffering with intense hunger pains in their stomachs.
  • The NP will have to deal with the awful stench of rotting wastes from many sources because they have not taken the effort to even store up waste disposal plastic bags.
  • The NP will have disease and pathogens everywhere, not only because they have no trash disposal means, but because they haven’t prepared how to deal with trash and waste.
  • The NP will have to live in very primitive conditions after things around them deteriorate rapidly, because they have neglected putting away anything to make life more bearable.
  • The NP and those around them will likely develop all sorts of infective skin rashes from the lack of insight of storing up toilet paper. Imagine the smell for a moment.
  • The NP will have to handle biting insects and other vermin that will collect amongst the filth that will pile up. No pest control stored up along with no other supplies.
  • The NP will have no way of treating sickness certain to follow a SHTF event, no first aid and likely no training or knowledge about how to treat the ill on top of this.
  • The NP will have sick and dying people around them because of not being able to treat minor injuries. Didn’t even stock up on disinfectants. Unsanitary conditions lead to infection.
  • The NP and others around them will experience much grief as they watch helplessly as their family members literally die of starvation right in front of their eyes.
  • The NP won’t believe how desperate hunger drives them and those that mean everything to them to “trying” to eat food that taste so bad it gags them and comes back up.
  • The NP will likely have family and friends around them that have also not prepared committing suicide because they can’t take it any longer.
    The NP will witness some of those people around them lose any sense of civilized humanity in them and behave like wild animals after some time from lack of necessities.
  • The NP and family members, maybe friends also, will at some point end up barbecuing or eating raw the family dog, cat, bird, any pet dear to everyone for food.
  • The NP will likely get into physical fights with other family members over any scrap of food available as rational thoughts are lost to wanton hunger.
  • The NPs will eventually go out of any safety of their home looking for food and or water, become disorientated and lost, and die a hard death somewhere.
  • The NP that is “lucky” enough to find some government help will likely have to almost sell their soul, probably all their freedom, to get tiny rations – just enough to keep them alive.
  • The NP will see widespread violence and barbarism that will shock them to the core and will wish that they had purchased some form of firearm and stocked up on ammunition.
  • The NP had better get used to attempting to explain the children and other adults why they wasted all that money on gadgets and trinkets, and didn’t buy any emergency food and other supplies.
  • The NP, no matter how positive they are will drop quickly into depression and lose willpower as having nothing to hold on to does this, along with lack of any nutrition.
  • The NP will feel the worst guilt imaginable as they hear their family moaning in anguish from lack of anything to eat, knowing they could have done something to prepare.
  • The NP will most likely not see the rebuilding and recovery after A SHTF event. They will, like almost all NPs, be statistics. Some will die hours or a day before help arrives.
  • The NP from lack of food, drinking bad water, no light at night, the horrid smells, no good self defense, the overall horror, will often be paralyzed with fear and despair, blank stare.
  • The NP is totally helpless after SHTF, will have to rely totally on charity of those prepared to live. They will take all sorts of desperate measures likely to get them shot. They’ll attempt to eat hazardous foods like an animal trapped in a house will do, and get sick and suffer much before dying. The NP will likely die (ugly and hard) as they lived, unprepared for anything.

If we were to use one single word to describe the torments that someone who “chooses” not to prepare will go through after a true you know what hits the fan it would be “PREVENTABLE”.

Almost every single person, even a very poor person, has the capacity to put away emergency food and supplies. Even homeless people have stashes of something just in case things become so bad that the normal hand outs and thrown-away items dry up. Many people with good sources of income don’t even have an extra can of food or any water put away at all. This is stupidity beyond words.

Every day lightweight disasters happen in all parts of the world that disturb services enough that people are confined to their homes for a certain amount of time. While recovery is short, people are still uncomfortable during these times. Look what happens after a power outage at night and you will be mystified at how many homes are completely dark for hours. People have not even bought an extra couple of candles or any battery operated light sources. Even in well-to-do neighborhoods you may hear only a lone generator going after a blackout. This lack of preparedness is truly frightening and plays itself out again, again, and again every time services are disrupted for minor to major reasons. It’s as if there is something wrong with storing extra food, water, and supplies.

Even after “lessons” played out to what happens to those non-prepared, most people still feel that it just cannot happen to them, or won’t ever happen to them again. It should be proof enough to people what happens to those unprepared after disasters simply by looking at those that have gone through it firsthand. The difference, though, comes in that these disasters have had recovery periods and help from others. Even Haiti received some help and conditions remain putrid over there.

After a true SHTF event, it is presumable that government help and others coming to the aid of those in need WON’T happen for long periods of time. During that time those that have chosen to not put food, water, and necessities away are going to be in life threatening positions. Most people just don’t get that when the supermarket shelves are empty they will stay that way for an extended period. When the utilities go down, especially water, it may be weeks, months, or longer before they come back, if ever. Without what someone needs to survive each day, it is not going to magically appear, and depending on the goodwill of others to feed them and sacrifice their own family’s survival chances is a terrible choice.

People must know what life will be like after SHTF in mega fashion if they refuse to prepare. This is NOT new. Terrible events have plunged people into the deepest levels of desperation and hopelessness, and they will happen again and again.

While the above consequences to the non-prepper are extremely abysmal for anyone to read, the simple fact of the matter is they have already happened time and time again to those that have nothing put away. People have resorted to cannibalism and gone to levels of primitive savage behavior out of shear desperation and out of literally losing their minds to the physical depletion of food and water that keeps the physical body operating. Sometimes showing the extreme severity and results of a person’s lack of action, such as failure of the simple act of putting away extra food, water, and supplies, can be the kick in the complacency that they need.

It’s really easy to put away food and supplies. All one has to do is add a little bit of extra food to the grocery cart for long-term storage. Over time this adds up to a well stocked pantry of supplies.

There is something that is in a can of food that everyone can eat and enjoy the taste of, so talk to family members about their nutritional preferences and start stocking up. Toilet paper and other supplies that really don’t have any expiration date can be put away and forgotten about ’til needed.

There must be common sense and intelligence to see what happens IF they don’t stock up for the future. There has to be the desire to get started, and this is the real problem with so many.

Once started, however, prepping becomes a type of life saving routine or positive lifestyle habit. It is easy and can and will save one from misery. It may save their life and the lives of their family from ruin when SHTF, which is almost inevitably going to happen someday. Every month and year that goes by without a true SHTF event, makes it more likely that it will happen. Basic statistical chance shows this to be the case, but people continue the same pattern of behavior that has led them to the same devastation countless time before.

For those preppers that have people around them that refuse to prepare, you can at least have some degree of solace knowing that you tried to show the non-prepping person(s) what not having anything will mean to them and their families.

All we can do is try. Once we’ve given it our best shot, all we can do is let those who have been warned about the direness of the possibilities live their lives the way that want to. They will, unfortunately, live in a world of regret and suffering if the nation and the world falls apart around them.

To every action there is an opposite equal reaction. Preppers will see their efforts have been more than worth it. Objects that are motionless tend to remain motionless and non-preppers will find there are horrific consequences for their lack of effort and motion to put away “life insurance” preps for themselves and their families.

Note: Reposted, with permission. This article first appeared in the SHTFPlan blog.

Dear JWR;
There is nothing like a real emergency to get you checked out in a quick way for your evacuation plan. During the Black Forest Fire, which began on June 11, 2013, at least 511 homeowners completely lost their homes, many more were damaged and are uninhabitable, two people and countless animals perished in the fire. Our family and business were in the direct path of the fire, but a major wind shift the first night, along with hard-working first responders saved us.

Sitting at the office ready for our afternoon of work, a friend walked in and sid, "did you see the fire?" Expecting a wispy white trail of smoke when I peered out the window, I was immediately floored when what I saw was a GIANT plume of black smoke heading our way.

LESSON ONE - Take Action. My husband and I took 30 seconds to put the "Office Closed, Fire Drill" sign on the front door and we were outta there and home in four minutes. We did not debate, question, ponder, look, examine; we went directly home. I know some who dawdled to watch and photograph, but then had only minutes to "grab and go."

At home, we sat down with our two children, who were wondering what we were doing home so early. We calmly told them - which took ALL KINDS of self control, that there was a fire, and we were going to pack up and be ready to go if we had to.

LESSON TWO - Keep the kids busy and involved. The more we gave them to do, the better they felt. Our children are old enough to help, 11 and 16, and were very calm, as we stayed calm. I have to give kudos to both of them, they did not panic and were very focused on the tasks at hand. On a side note, my 16 year old is completely disabled. His task was to monitor the news and let us know when "breaking news" came over the Internet. Thank goodness for the battery-powered radio, which kept him involved and important while we packed, even when the power failed.

LESSON THREE - Ammo is heavy. Unlike so many families in this firestorm, we had time to load the trailer. Clothes, papers, medicines, dogs easy in 10 minutes or less, ammo was a bit more difficult. Thankfully, friends materialized out of nowhere to help!

LESSON FOUR - Keep the keys on a lanyard or string or belt or rope or chain on your body. We only had to hu