Notes for Friday – May 29, 2015

Today, we present another entry for Round 58 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. *Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 58 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Compressed Air Well Pump and Pressurized Home Water System Bubbles – Part 1, by H.W.

There have been many great articles and letters on SurvivalBlog recently regarding alternative, non-electric, or low power well pumps. I’ve built an alternative well pump that runs on compressed air. It does require electricity to compress the air, but an air compressor can be run off a modest solar/battery rig easily and can pump a decent amount of water suitable for an emergency situation. I’d like to describe how I built this pump and how it works.

First, let me say that there are various air-operated pumping systems out there, including variations of this one; there are also some you can buy off the shelf. This is not my original idea, and you should take a look at videos of what others have done, including simpler air lift pumps. However, this pump work well for my well, which is too deep for a surface hand or electric pump with simple drop tube, and it would be rather expensive to install one of the higher quality deep hand/electric pumps, like Simple Pump or Bison Pump. I was looking for something I could build and not break the bank as well as something I could power from my solar setup AND not have to send my wife out in the snow to hand pump a bucket of water for my morning bath.

See the drawing of the well pump: wellpump

Pipe and Fitting Material

This pump is made from PVC pipe and fittings, and the lines are PEX tubing. When purchasing PVC materials for water supply applications, be sure to look for the “NSF-PW” marking, meaning the products can be used for potable water. Some PVC is marked for drain and wastewater use only. The PEX tubing should be rated for water supply applications. If you are squeamish about using PVC in your water system, you can make the pump out of copper pipe and fittings. When purchasing brass fittings for potable water use, be sure they are marked “lead free”.

Interesting Story About Toxicity

I selected a brass valve off the shelf at a big box home improvement store and took it to the checkout. The bar code would not register the price, and the clerk did some digging and told me that the part was being recalled because of high lead content! Thank you, China. At least they caught it, but what about the other 20 valves I’ve purchased over the years? At least after the crash we won’t be importing as much poison from Asia.

Pump Phases of Operation

This air operated pump produces water in bursts, and the air must be cycled on and off at regular intervals of two or three times a minute. Being an electronics guy, I built an automatic, timed controller using some 12-volt solenoid valves I purchased off of ebay, but you can easily use ball valves and cycle them manually. Filling the water tank is something that your kids can learn to do, as there’s no way to unintentionally hurt anything. Turning a couple ball valves takes a lot less sweat than pumping water from 200 feet down with your arms or feet!

There are three phases to the operation of the pump. The first phase fills the pump with water. The lower check valve opens (see diagram) and the pump and PEX lines fill with water to the static level in the well. This is the normal condition of the pump and water when it is sitting idle. To get the pump to fill, the air line is opened to atmosphere. The water line is always open to atmosphere above ground.

The second phase involves closing the atmospheric vent in the air line and then gating the compressed air into that line. The compressed air pressurizes the system, forcing water out of the pump, up the other line, and into your tank, bucket, dog dish, or long-term survival hot tub.

The third phase starts when the pump empties and some air starts coming out of the water line. The pump valve is closed, and the remainder of the water/air mix is allowed to dribble out as the system depressurizes. The check valve in the water exit pipe inside the pump prevents any remaining water in the line from draining down into the pump again, to avoid pumping the same water multiple times. This check valve could probably be eliminated, with some energy waste resulting, but I have not tried this.

The cycle then repeats.

Water Pump Speed and Durability

The amount of water pumped per burst depends on the volume of the pump body and PEX lines below the static water level. My pump is about 30 inches in length, but it could be made almost arbitrarily longer. I get about a half gallon a minute of flow.

I have dropped my two-inch diameter pump into the well beside the existing water and electrical line in the six-inch well casing. You can adjust the diameter and length of the pump to be compatible with your setup. The hexagonal plastic caps on the end of the PVC pipe make the pump about three inches in diameter.

For the air supply and water lines, I use half-inch PEX tubing. The pump is quite light, and I can install and remove it by myself at a depth of about 125 feet. The PEX tubing is pretty difficult to work with because of the coiled set it takes when rolled hot at the factory. You won’t want to be working with it on a cold day! I’ve not had much problem on warmer days, but it’s still pretty stiff. When putting the pump down the well, I use a bucket of bleach water and a rag to wipe down the tubing as it goes into the hole, to avoid introducing surface contaminants into the well water.

The compressor I use is a 20 gallon / 2HP unit from a discount tool store. It runs fine in this application. The pressure regulator is adjusted for about 50PSI. I tried a small pancake compressor, but it simply does not produce the volume of air required to pump much water. Think about it. If you want to pump 100 gallons of water, you’ll need to push at least 100 gallons of air through the pump. My solar setup consists of about 500W of panels, a charge controller, and a large truck battery; it’s nothing fancy or expensive. A 2000W inverter runs the compressor nicely.

In the drawing you will see an eye bolt on the top of the pump. The PEX tubing is plenty strong to drag the pump up out of the well, but just to be sure I attached a one-eighth-inch, plastic-covered, wire rope to the eyelet and to a matching eyelet on the underside of the well cap. If the tubes come loose for some reason, I can still fish the pump out of the hole.

My well casing is steel, and the inside of it is quite rusty. It takes some force to shove the pump and PEX tubing down the hole. You need to be careful that there are no outside parts of the pump that can wear and be damaged as you do this. A PVC well casing would not be so rough.

For water connections at the surface, I put brass fittings on the well cap, rather than digging down and cutting a hole in the side of the well casing. I bought a new well cap to use, as they are pretty inexpensive, and I kept the old one as a spare. The PEX tubing is attached to the brass barbs on the underside of the well cap, with hose clamps securing the connections. I used a torch to heat the PEX a bit before pushing it onto the barbs and tightened the hose clamps before the tubing cooled. The tubing is now conformed to the barbs and won’t be coming off any time soon.

Since the water lines come out of the top of the well cap (parallel to the ground using right angle fittings), they are subject to freezing in the winter. However, both lines are filled with air when idle. You can run the air compressor for 30-60 seconds to blow the air lines dry at the end of your pumping session. In that way, the lines do not freeze closed. The water coming out of the well runs about 50 degrees year round and warms the lines in freezing weather. Our lowest temperature in the winter is typically in the teens, so you might have to bury the lines completely if you live in a colder clime.

The PEX lines are run underground to the house through the concrete foundation wall. PEX is rated for burial, but rocky dirt might be a problem and require a sheath, which could simply be some more PVC pipe sections. The air compressor sits in the basement, alongside a water tank. You can barely hear the compressor running outside the house, as opposed to my loud 5KW generator needed to run my regular well pump.

My system is designed to just pump a few dozen gallons a day, and this is compatible with my smallish solar arrangement. However, with a larger solar capacity, a longer pump, and perhaps larger diameter water and air tubes, you could pump gallons per minute of water.

Letter Re: An Emergency Hand Pump For A Well, by C.P.

HJL,

Hi, this article sounds good, but I have a couple of questions about construction of the well pump described. Is the mentioned diagram available for the design of the 1&1/4″ assembly above the well cap? Also, I’m surprised there isn’t a seal or check valve on the bottom of the piston. Is this to simplify design, by sacrificing efficiency? Would the gpm and maximum pumping depth increase if these were included in the design? The idea fills a need for many preppers. We just need more info. – J.J.

HJL Responds: We sent the request on to the author, and he sent back these pictures for you, showing the construction of the well pump and its operation along with this explanation:

WellPumppics_002bWellPumppics_010adadhandpump_009

“The bottom of the piston has a flat end cap for the “seal”, and no “check valve” is necessary for this design. There is very little clearance inside the 1-1/4 inch pipe when moving the piston up and down– maybe an eight of an inch around the end cap. So pulling up opens the foot valve; pushing down closes it and forces the water up to the outlet.”

Odds ‘n Sods:

Sephardic Jews Leave Turkey for Spain Fleeing ‘Unnerving’ Wave of Anti-Semitism. – H.L.

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Over at Commander Zero’s blog: Thoughts on the PTR-91

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Thanks to SurvivalBlog reader T.P. I haven’t seen anything this ridiculous since I sold my .50AE Desert Eagle, but it sure does look fun! – Video: Dual, Double bbl. .45’s….. in slow motion !

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Bill Gates just described his biggest fear — and it could kill 33 million people in less than a year. – G.P.

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New Media ( anti-Google, anti Collective, anti-Shills ) Web Browser. Good luck. Hope they have a really good IT security staff. – T.P.

Notes for Thursday – May 28, 2015

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog’s Editor At Large) has had his latest science fiction novel released by Baen Books. This one is titled A Long Time Until Now. It is a time travel tale, with an interesting twist. SurvivalBlog readers should find it of particular interest, because the protagonists are thrust into an extremely austere environment with NO infrastructure, so they need to almost entirely improvise their sustenance and defenses. So this is both an exciting read, and it’s educational. Great reading! – JWR

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The World’s Unraveling: Are You Ready? Don’t forget Safecastle’s Mountain House Food Sale with discounts up to 32% and survival goodies thrown in!

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Today, we present another entry for Round 58 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. *Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 58 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Becoming A Warrior At Gunsite Academy, by J.H.

I had dreams of becoming an armed warrior at a very young age. My father and my uncle put a .22 rifle in my hands after I joined the Boy Scouts, and they asked that I go with them through the woods along the Cahaba River in Shelby County, Alabama. They cared less about sports and preferred that I learn how to survive in a non-urban/non-suburban environment. I believe they were interested in passing along family history as much as anything else. They told me how my ancestors, mainly my great-grandfathers, survived as warriors when they fought in the American Revolution and later in the War of Northern Aggression. My 5th great-grandfather, Captain John Blakeney, fought alongside the Swamp Fox in South Carolina during the American Revolution (as portrayed in Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot).

In college, during the Vietnam War, all of us assumed we would be drafted. The closest I got to military service was ROTC at the University of Alabama. At that time the services did not want young, married men with children, so as many of my friends shipped out to ‘Nam I finished my education. About that time I joined the NRA, even before I could vote, and when I became an adult I ordered and received a U.S. Army-issued World War II .45 from D.C.M. for which I paid a grand total of $17.

While in college I worked at the courthouse, and during those four years I became friends with many deputies and police officers. Some were very active in the gun culture and had extensive collections of firearms. They were drawn to my office when they would pass by and see me cleaning my .45 at my desk. After I graduated from law school, I began collecting military-style firearms, with still no experience on how to use them. I began reading every issue of American Rifleman, Guns & Ammo, and Soldier of Fortune. During this time I learned about Jeff Cooper and the modern pistol technique.

I still had dreams but no experience. My son, John, graduated from college and had never shot a handgun. Gunsite announced that Bill Jeans, who was the operations manager, was having a weekend class in Savannah, Georgia. We signed up and drove all night from Alabama. I had purchased a Glock 9mm for my son and a new Colt .45 for myself, and we learned the basics from the best instructor that Gunsite had.

Becoming a warrior requires developing the right mindset and mastering combat weapons. Gunsite had the reputation of being the best. I wanted my son and me to have professional training even though it was not in our future to become soldiers or members of law enforcement.

After our weekend of instruction, we were hooked, and we signed up for a week and more next year at Gunsite Ranch in Paulden, Arizona. Jeff Cooper had just sold the school but still lived on the ranch. Gunsite Ranch has dozens of pistol, rifle, and shotgun ranges scattered over approximately 2,000 acres.

John and I first took the “Edged Weapons 2-day Course” and then took a 5½-day “250 Combat Pistol Course”. The most important lesson John and I learned taking the “Edged Weapons Course” is that in a knife fight there is a good chance that both participants will die. It is obvious that being attacked with a knife and having to defend yourself with a knife is a fight that should be avoided.

The class had a mix of students. There were civilians, park rangers with six-shooters, and police– two of which were from Australia. There was only one female in the class, and she was a lawyer for D.E.A. She had never used a gun before. Before she got to Gunsite, she went and purchased the same gun and leather used by D.E.A. agents. I believe she carried a Sig 9mm.

Classroom instruction was by Bill Jeans, and he did a great job of beginning to create a real warrior identity in those that were in attendance. Bill taught us the Combat Triad, which is mindset, gun handling, and marksmanship. Mindset is being aware of your environment, and we were taught that the right mindset is always a tactical advantage in lethal situations.

They taught the color code that is now well-known and used to describe the various stages of awareness.

  • White – Relaxed, unawareness and not being prepared
  • Yellow – Relaxed but very alert
  • Orange – High alert
  • Red – You better get your gun because there is a fight taking place or will soon take place

Our range master was Larry Landers. At that time, Larry was an active Arizona State Trooper. He had two assistants to keep watch over our class, which consisted of about 17 or 18 students. Gunsite and their instructors want you to have fun even though it is serious business. Since I was 50 I was the oldest, and my son was one of the youngest. I believe I had the most fun, even though the instructors were teaching us the ability to stay alive in a deadly confrontation. It appeared to me that those in law enforcement were the most stressed.

After hundreds of draw and fire practice, we were then taught speed-loading and how to deal with malfunctions. After hundreds of drills it began to feel like each drill was a potential gunfight, where shooting someone was the solution. Those that had the most fun thrived on the intensity and the pain and wanted to shoot more even though the shooting day was over eight hours. I personally shot almost 1,000 rounds through a new Colt .45 Officers Model that was made for me by the gunsmith onsite at Gunsite Academy. I wish I had ordered a full-size, because by the time I finished that week I was in pain from having shot so much.

Later in the week, we went into the desert, down ravines, and in creek beds filled with humanlike metal poppers. The poppers were very well-hidden, but we were expected to recognize the potential danger and eliminate the threat and do speed loads during this part of the drill.

Gunsite has two houses with full-size human cutouts. Both during the outside portion and the house portion of the training, we were followed by a range officer. In the house that they called the “fun house”, the cutouts were ugly enough to shoot but may have only been holding an ice cream cone. They teach you not to shoot unless you are absolutely sure the target is a risk to you. Most of the class shot innocents during the stress of learning how to clear a house. They also told us how we might have gotten shot during the process.

The scary trips through the desert creek beds and the “fun house” by the end of the week had conditioned most of us so that our muscle memory and reflexes took over.

It was a great feeling the way my mind and body reacted to a potentially dangerous situation.

On the last day, on Saturday, we had a one-on-one competition. Two shooters stood together and fired at their own set of metal targets. Whoever finished first won that round. Everyone competed twice, and then the winners were in shoot-offs.

After shoot-offs we went back to the classroom to get our certificates. There are four different grades. I wanted to make “Expert” but got the next best; I received “Marksman First Class”.

When you get a chance to take your vacation this year, don’t go to the beach, don’t go to the mountains; go to Gunsite Academy, and take your son or your daughter. It was a great bonding experience for me and my son. We are better prepared for life-threatening situations. We have been blessed to be able to go back twice, taking a shotgun course one time and later taking another pistol course.

I have carried every day for fifty (50) years. My carry gun is right there with my keys and wallet. Because of my age all of our friends are now grandparents, and all of them are now carrying. Grandmothers are a lot younger than they were when I was very young. Now the grandmothers that I know are purchasing handguns and are taking lessons.

Since my trips to Gunsite, I am more aware of my surroundings. I try not to get distracted like the people that walk by me every day. Only my friends know that I am armed. Others may notice that I am aware; I observe everyone. I look at them and smile and am extremely courteous to everybody. I suspect police officers notice me because of my sense of awareness.

Since I am a Family Law attorney I have seen how bad people can be and how shocked and surprised victims are when all of a sudden they are unable to comprehend what is happening to them or to others in their presence.

Having the training and developing the warrior mentality has not made me paranoid; rather, it allows me to respond rationally and quickly to a dangerous situation.

My wife, son, daughter, and son-in-law all now carry. People with the right training are aware of their surroundings and are very much aware of the consequences of using their weapon. They carry because they value life, not only theirs but the lives of others.

All the thoughts and ideas I have expressed are the result of the influence of others, at times unknowingly and at other times consciously. In 1950 the phrase “gun culture” did not exist.

In addition to my father and uncle, who introduced me to the proper use of firearms, I was influenced by the following:

  • Boy Scouts – “Be Prepared” taught me to always be in a state of readiness.
  • Jeff Cooper – the founder of Gunsite Ranch. Without his foresight I may have never gotten the proper training.
  • John Ross – Author of Unintended Consequences. This book is out of print and has been for almost twenty (20) years, but if you haven’t read it you should.
  • Ralph Long – Constitutional Lawyer, Retired U. S. Army, Retired Hoover Police Lieutenant, and Firearms Instructor. Ralph Long taught my wife and daughter how to shoot. He also taught them the importance of never surrendering to political correctness. He is my friend and has been for many years.
  • Patriots and Boston Gun Bible are great sources of advice on what firearms are best for those of us who wish to increase our gun sense.

A majority of the American public has awakened to the need to be armed. A recent survey by Pew Research Center revealed that for the first time in many years it is more important to protect our rights to own guns than it is to control the ownership of guns.

The American public is now better armed, and there are more of us than ever. The politicians should learn a lesson, and they should better leave us and our freedoms alone.

Take advantage of the opportunity to go to somewhere like Gunsite Academy. There are other shooting schools that have great reputations. I can only speak about my experience with Gunsite, and the experience definitely changed my life.

Letter: Nickels Strategy

JWR/HJL,

Here’s a nickel accumulation strategy that might be useful to SB readers building their piles. Instead of asking the bank teller for loose rolls, I have switched to $100 boxes. I get no eye-rolls from the tellers; they just walk to the vault and pick up a box. Boxes are not especially durable, but a few wraps of duct or strapping tape take care of that.

Our local banks may be friendlier than some, but I have never been charged a fee for loose rolls or boxes. – AAA/Another Army Aviator

Economics and Investing:

Venezuela’s Currency Collapsing as U.S. Companies Announce They Will Only Accept U.S. Dollars. – JBG

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The Stress Index indicated a bottom in the gold and silver markets in March of 2015. – GC

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

China Blows Its Debt Bubble Bigger

Yuan Now Most-Used in Asia for Payments to China, Swift Says

Bloomberg, China and $64,000 Gold

Greece Risk Timeline — Why July 20 Matters Most – Interesting data

Odds ‘n Sods:

Krayton Kerns: Lessons of the Dirt Pile. – Avalanche Lily

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An interview with JWR on SGT Report was just posted dealing with the impending collapse of the U.S. economy and the treason within our own government which has led to the fast-tracking of the secretive TPP.

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Mike Williamson, SurvivalBlog’s Editor At Large, presented us with this fascinating look from a historians perspective at “natural” diets.

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Remember, this is with plenty of food, and open gas stations. – T.P.
56 shot, 12 killed in violent Memorial Day weekend in Chicago
28 people shot in Baltimore over Memorial Day weekend; city breaks homicide record

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Obama admin asserts dominion over creeks, streams, wetlands, ditches — even big puddles. – G.G. [Warning to limited bandwidth users: Has an unrelated video that starts on the page]

Notes for Wednesday – May 27, 2015

Today, we present another entry for Round 58 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. *Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 58 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Surviving Science, by Funtripmom

What happens if you decide to homeschool and you failed science class, not just one science class but practically all of them? On the other hand, what happens if you decide to homeschool and you got an “A” in chemistry, but you never did anything to merit that grade, and therefore you don’t know the first thing about chemistry?

That about sums up my science class record. I either didn’t do very well or I passed with flying colors all to the tune of helping the teacher grade papers. At the time I loved it. I thought, “This is grand! I don’t have to do the work, and I pass anyway!” However, it wasn’t grand, at least not as I look back on the experience. I really could use that knowledge right about now. What happens if you decide to homeschool and you get to LEARN science right along with your children?

That’s exactly what I decided to do. I never intended to homeschool my children, but life has a funny way of placing you in situations that you never planned to be. I’m thankful I found myself in this position, but I wasn’t happy about my lack of knowledge in the science department. What did I do?

I began with a book– The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. This book became my homeschool “bible”. I use it to plan what I will teach and when I will teach it. I especially like the section on how she pairs history with science. She believes that you should teach both subjects with the same timeline, which makes perfect sense to me. When you teach ancient history, you study the human body; when you teach Middle Ages, study the earth and space; and when you study the modern age, you also explore chemistry and physics. The student will grasp the entire development of science within the realm of history. Many times my students will correlate historical events with scientific discoveries. I attribute this solely to the fact that we study them at the same time.

I was already struggling with the three R’s our first year of homeschooling, so science was on the back burner in my agenda. Yet, I knew I still had to give the subject some effort. I stumbled upon a simple book of experiments for children. It was titled Fizz, Bubble Pop by the Ooey Gooey Lady. Since my children were fresh out of first grade and kindergarten, they were the perfect age to benefit from these experiments, which meant science was all hands-on. I didn’t have them write anything down. We just had fun with the experiments and talked about what was happening. We used the backyard for the bulk of the experiments. Note about the backyard: Don’t leave flour and water on the patio overnight. It hardens and is extremely difficult to get off! We spent most of one afternoon on our hands and knees scrubbing the patio. Of course the experiment was fun but not worth that price. The bathtub was a frequent place we did experiments too. Note: Just make sure all items can safely be watered down the drain. We used cornstarch one time, and luckily our drain didn’t get plugged; I read the warning (after we did the experiment) to not do it in the bathtub. “Whew!” was all I could say after I read that. The one experiment that my children (especially my older one) couldn’t get enough of was shaving cream in the bathtub. They loved playing in the bathtub with the stuff. The bathtub became a hockey rink with him the hockey player. When the “hockey game” was done and he was washed up, the bathtub was also clean. Talk about a win-win science lesson. He learned more about traction in that bathtub than any “lesson” I could ever teach.

My younger student loves anything to do with the human body. So that’s what we learned about. I bought a $10 Human Body book in the bargain section of a bookstore. We then took it one section at a time and created a lapbook. A lapbook is a book you create yourself out of a manila file folder and little foldable books. Each mini-book is filled with information you learn about. Making a lapbook is a great way to get a lot of information into a small amount of space. It can encompass a lot of writing or cutting and pasting; it all depends on what you want to include in your book.

When we ventured into our second year of homeschooling (grades 2 & 3), we were in Volume II of Story of the World (Middle Ages), so we studied the earth and space. I didn’t use a purchased curriculum. Instead I searched the Internet for many ideas on how to make the study of the earth come alive for them. We read lots of books, learned about rocks with some friends, watched some youtube videos on plate tectonics, made a 3D model of the earth out of play dough, built our own solar system model, and put together a purchased solar system model. I developed an easy way to remember the three types of rocks– smooshed (sedimentary), smooshed & cooked (metamorphic), and cooked (igneous.) When I put it in those terms they caught on much faster. To help them remember the order of the planets we went on a bike ride. Really, a bike ride you say? Yes. The “sun” was our home and as we progressed on our bike ride each intersection was a planet. The large intersection we passed was Jupiter, and Venus was a street that bared no shade so it was always incredibly warm. That was three years ago and as we go on that same bike ride today, they still remember the planets. (My younger student always mentions the asteroid belt too.) Even though I knew a bit about the earth and space (definitely not enough to teach a full year of science), I learned right along with them.

Our third year we studied chemistry and the scientific method. This was because we began Volume III of Story of the World Early Modern era. For chemistry I purchased a small book titled Adventures with Atoms & Molecules. It’s an older book but I liked the price and it was exactly what we needed. Simple experiments we could do at home with household materials. I did not purchase anything I wouldn’t normally purchase for my home. Then I created a short form with the scientific method for them to complete each time we performed an experiment. Baking soda with vinegar and soda with lifesavers were instant favorites. Again, I kept this year of science with ninety percent hands-on and about ten percent writing and drawing pictures. They always asked for science. It was the one subject that was a delight to experience with my children. As I’ve said before, I was learning right along with them, and they knew it too. They enjoyed that their mom was learning too. I wasn’t the “all-knowing mom” when it came to science. I made mistakes (which they loved) and we laughed. Some experiments went awry, and we learned from those too. Many times, we’d just say that we had learned a “new” experiment when the results didn’t turn out the way the book said. A funny thing has developed. I’m noticing that anytime my children want to do something that they think I’m going to answer with a “no”, they always introduce the idea with the phrase, “Mom, I want to do an experiment…” They know me too well, because when I hear the word “experiment” I usually say “yes”. Of course they must tell me what they plan to do as well as their hypothesis before I approve the experiment.

In year four we were in the Late Modern era in Volume IV of Story of the World, and we began the year studying physics. I kept with my philosophy of lots of experiments along with verbal discussions and minimal writing requirements. My students still ask for science on a daily basis with enthusiasm.

I feel strongly in my philosophy of mostly hands-on experiments with little formal writing, because I have two extremely active students who don’t enjoy writing. I find it difficult to choose which subjects I will require writing and which ones I lean towards a verbal understanding. Science is one of those subjects that I require very little writing. In the early elementary years, it’s the fascination, excitement, and curiosity that I’m trying to unleash. If I stamp that out with a bunch of assignments, they will learn to hate science. They will associate science with the dreaded paper and pencil. My students, in particular, learn more organically. By that I mean that they learn in a more natural state rather than through the typical school philosophy, which is at a desk, reading a book, and regurgitating what was in the book. My students learn by doing, which is simultaneously a blessing and extremely challenging. How do I know they are learning? I have to really pay attention to what they are saying.

Science Tips & Tricks

Get a good science book, read it, and do the experiments. Use The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer as your guide of what to teach and when. Make sure to keep it light and fun in the early elementary years.

In short, treat science as the fun subject. Don’t let the assignments or requirements bog you down and put a damper on the fun. Let that fun shine and be the focus. After all, you are exploring our world.

Letter: Ham Radio Classes

Hello James, and Hugh, and readers

I just finished teaching my second Ham radio class for this year, with four licensees in each– two general and two tech. I teach general and tech at the same time, with emphasis on tech, and I encourage extra study on the general with questions and instruction for each being answered for each class. My classes usually go for 10 or 12 Saturday mornings 0900-1200 or until we exhaust the teacher, whichever comes first. I just found out last Tuesday that I have seven more students who want me to teach another class. Whew! I’m getting tuckered out. Fortunately, I do have a few buddies to take up some of the slack and help out.

Now with the new general book coming out, there goes another $38 or so. However, the reward is far greater. I am finding that most of the students are middle age and senior, and they all seem to be in some form of prepper activity and know that the SHTF situation is coming soon.

It is definately true that having short wave, HF/VHF, et cetera is an excellent way to communicate for SHTF communications, but I tell my students that the real learning occurs after the license is obtained. It is an absolute must for them to not only obtain operational gear but to get on the air and get acquainted with their new friends. I also tell them that not every Ham is a prepper or think right like most preppers, so you should also learn who your enemies are and be very careful what you may say to them. It’s also important to remember that there is always someone listening wheather they answer to a call or CQ or not.

So I guess what I really want to say here is by all means make new friends on the air, keep learning about your new skills, and learn all you can. If you find a particular niche, then go for it. Learn who you can trust and who you must at all costs avoid. Another thing is when you find new like-minded friends find a good simplex frequency to meet them on if possible, or a good HF net of like-minded folks, or maybe even join in on AMRON, which is listed in the side bar on SurvivalBlog. They have some great nets to get involved with and even better training. However, you must get on the air and practice! A radio locked up inside the EMP box will be absolutely useless if you have no friends or groups to associate with after an event is over. Get involved with your local ARES, MARS, or NTS– the national traffic system. Learn to pass messages; without practice and learning your gear, it is useless. Be encouraged. All of us old timers, including this one of 54 years as a Ham, had our first time at the key or mic, and the first time passes fast into becoming a regular rag-chewer. Old timers love to get on with the new folks and encourage them. Often we will help you build antennas or give you parts for something you want to build, or we may just have what you need sitting around our shack collecting cobwebs or dust. I hesitate to think of how much gear I have given to new and old hams, including new gear for the less fortunate just to help them along. We old timers, well almost all of us, are getting long in the tooth, and we really need to start down-sizing anyway. What better way than to help a new Ham along the path by encouraging them to become generous, loving, kind, and thoughtful. We owe it to ourselves to teach, encourage, and kindly help our new friends.