Notes for Wednesday – January 28, 2015

January 28th is the anniversary of the rescue of General James L. Dozier from his Italian Red Brigades kidnappers. Tangentially, Colonel Jeff Cooper created a shooting drill in honor of those who freed him– The Dozier Drill.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 56 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 then 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 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 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 Instituteis 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. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. 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).

Round 56 ends on January 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.

Lessons Learned While Living in San Francisco, by JGD

I’m writing this as I wrap up my 18th year of living in San Francisco to outline a recent experience with crime in this city. Beneath the surface, this city has big problems. Above the surface, San Francisco is a beautiful city, and it’s a ton of fun to live here. There are thousands of things to do and amazing places to visit; you name it, and it’s here. I’ve got a great career and a beautiful, like-minded woman. I own my house and have a great sailboat and lots of friends. I could not be more blessed. Things just could not be better, or so it seems. Sadly, they are far from great, because of the taxes, rules, and constant lack of enforcement of even the most basic laws. Most notably, our District Attorney (DA) does not prosecute enough, and I’m sure that even if he did that the prison system in this beautiful state would be able to accommodate any more criminals. I’m to the point that the have-nots in our entire ecosystem of cities (i.e. The Bay Area) no longer worry about any crime other than murder. After my girlfriend was victimized by yet another broad daylight car break in, I took matters into my own hands. Here’s my story…

My Story

Around 13:00 on Sunday January 11th, my girlfriend and I were at Trader Joe’s doing some grocery shopping. I usually avoid the place like the plague on a Sunday, because it is overrun with idiots all vying to get their weekly fill of granola or whatnot. However, there are a few products that are amazing and you just can’t get anywhere else. Usually, we use AmazonFresh or Instacart to avoid the public masses in the city, but on this day, we just felt like doing it. It takes a lot of special services or expenses to make living in the city comfortable, but it is worth it if you want to have a quality of life that is on par with other more suburban areas. Prior to our visit to Trader Joe’s, we had just left the local homeless shelter where we donated four garbage bags full of clothes. Even at the homeless shelter, it was a mess of chaos, so we didn’t stick around to get paperwork for tax write-off purposes. We just wanted to get our errands done. There’s a theme here, isn’t there?

Upon returning to our car, we noted that the right rear window was smashed in. We quickly inspected the vehicle and did not notice anything missing. Having had my car broken into perhaps seven or eight times over the past 18 years, I figured that we should take the car to a secure place and schedule a safelight auto glass repair. So my girlfriend dropped me off at my place so I could get my Hummer H2. The plan was for me to follow her home and then we’d go together to the local police station and file a report. Things weren’t as they seemed though, as after she left me to head for home, she realized that her backpack, which contained her ipad and work laptop, had been stolen.

As luck would have it, right after my girlfriend dropped me off, she called me and advised me that she ran into a cop and the theft victim he was helping showed her how to use “find my iPhone.” We had initially thought she didn’t have it enabled, but it was. They were able to see that her stolen iPad was headed towards the 101 freeway south. We hurried over to the police station and proudly showed the “find my iPhone” location on the screen to the officer behind the 1.5 inches of bullet-proof glass with the little slotted communication ports. He looked up at us and said, “I’m sorry; we do not respond to these, and we do not advise that you do anything about it other than file a report.”

I was livid. With all the taxes we pay, the parking tickets to succumb to, and all the other fees and assessments that we endure, this was not what I wanted to hear. We had a location of our stolen property right there for the local law enforcement officers to see. I was not going to stand for it, so I turned to my girlfriend and said, “Let’s go get it, Honey.”

We battled traffic to get onto the 101 freeway and head south in pursuit. The entire time, I was thinking to myself, “What should I do if we find them? I don’t want to put my girl in harm’s way, so how do I do this?”

We were gaining on them; they appeared to stop at a Lucky grocery store just south of the city. I kept thinking to myself, “How can I do this safely? I won’t be able to live with myself if something bad happens!”

Our criminals got back on the 101 and headed south past San Francisco International Airport. This time I called my friend, Jay, who is a former LEO. He said to me, “Don’t approach them; it could be dangerous. The cops can’t do anything, because they need probable cause to search someone or arrest them.” I said to Jay, “What if I see them with the stolen property?” Jay replied, “Then they can go get them.”

Having satisfied my mental state with a plan, I refocused on tracking them. My girlfriend kept calling out their location every time the “find my iPhone” application updated. We were getting closer, but this time the criminals had turned around and headed north again on the 101 freeway. I focused on safely exiting, and rapidly getting turned around.

We were less than two exits behind them, and they appeared to have stopped at an IHOP restaurant in Brisbane, which is just south of San Francisco. Then, they quickly got back on the 101 freeway and headed north again into San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, they exited onto Vermont Street and sped through Potrero Hill. This is my neighborhood, and I had them right where I wanted them. At this point, I was no more than three blocks behind them. My nerves were on edge and adrenaline was flowing.

The criminals appeared to be heading to the Oakland Bay Bridge, which wasn’t a good sign, because crime and criminals go hand in hand in Oakland. Still we pressed on over the bridge to the 580 freeway, to the 980 freeway, and then to the 880 freeway, where they exited and appeared to park at Laney College, just across from a huge swap meet. That was no surprise there, and I was somewhat happy that we tracked them to a large, open, crowded, public place. I don’t know if I would have had the guts to enter a dark alley, but my goal was to spot the stolen property and call the police, never to approach them. That was the mental plan that unfolded in my head numerous times while pursuing these punks.

My girlfriend noted that we appeared to have passed the criminals by using the “find my iPhone” application, and there were two vehicles parked on the side of the road that we just passed. I was careful to pass them by 30 or 40 meters before I parked. I looked around and made a mental note of the surroundings, possible cover, people, and just about anything. I didn’t know what to do, but my plan was to track them from a distance and give law enforcement probable cause. So, I casually got out of my Hummer, like I was hunting for a good lamp at the local swap meet. I instructed my girlfriend to stay in the car, but she wasn’t having it. Conceding, I plead with her to stay 10-15 meters behind me. She did.

As we walked down the street towards the first car that was stopped on the side of the road behind us, I casually walked by and used all the peripheral vision I could to inspect the vehicle. What appeared was an old family, all doors open, a walker, a baby, and no bags or stolen goods. “On to the next one,” I thought.

As I focused on the next car, I realized I had found them. There was a heavy set Hispanic male leaning into the vehicle with a wad of cash conducting a transaction with the front passenger, who had a stack of laptops. As we walked slowly up to them, my girlfriend, who was still behind me, advised me that the “find my iPhone” application lost the signal. Obviously the purchaser of the stolen goods had informed the criminals that they were capable of being tracked, so they had shut down the iPad. It was too late though; I had eyes on them.

I dropped back to my girlfriend and walked between them and the car, advising my girlfriend to act like nothing at all is happening. We just simply walked by. As soon as we passed them, I got their license plate number and kept walking. Once we were 10 or 15 meters past the vehicle, I looked back and so did my girlfriend. She said to me “Honey, there’s my iPad and my laptop!” She could identify her iPad from the shiny fancy red cover she had on it.

This was our probable cause, and despite all my mental simulations while pursuing these thieves, I acted quickly and ran across the street so I could track the stolen property, which was now in the hands of someone who obviously had a booth at the local swap meet. This person was stuck on the traffic median waiting for a “walk” signal. I went off script and yelled assertively, “You are in possession of stolen property, which we just observed you buy from that vehicle. We have tracked them all over the Bay Area. Place the stolen property on the deck and we will not call the police. DO IT NOW!”

The car drove off rapidly, and the person who bought the stolen goods placed the stack of laptops and iPads down and then took off into the crowd. Not one single person stopped to help. In fact I don’t think a single person even broke stride.

Seconds later, my girlfriend came running up, found her laptop and her iPad and was very happy. I advised her that we needed to maintain situational awareness and that we were in no way in a happy place just yet. I called the Oakland police department to file a report. Honestly, the thought of just leaving the stolen property that wasn’t ours behind did cross my mind, but returning the stolen property to the authorities seemed appropriate.

After getting off the phone with the 911 dispatcher, we waited over 20 minutes for an Oakland police officer to show up. While we were waiting, though, my girlfriend fired up each laptop and found out who their owners were, then sent them an email letting them know we retrieved their stuff. After 25 minutes and still no police response, I decided to pack it in and drive the stolen property back to the San Francisco Police station that told us not to do anything and that they wouldn’t do anything. I figured, “Hmmm, this will be a nice surprise for them to deal with.”

Humorously, we drove about 300 feet toward home, turned the corner, and there was an Oakland Police officer in the car just sitting there doing nothing. We had called the police 25 minutes prior, and there was a police officer in a car just around the corner the entire time doing NOTHING. This was par for the course. We were let down by not one but two different police jurisdictions.

We pulled over to the police, informed them of what happened, and they gladly took possession of the stolen property, filed a report, and gave us a case number. Ironically, while we were divulging information to the police officers, my girlfriend’s phone rang; it was one of the victims who we reached out to via email. They were overjoyed and very thankful. We gave them all the information they needed to retrieve their property, thanked the Oakland police officers for their help, and headed home.

Lessons Learned

  1. PREPARE. This one turned out okay, but it might not have. I have spent the past few years preparing and training so that, as I put it, “I’m not the hapless idiot in the movie where everything goes wrong and people die.” I prepare and train to help others. I prepare and train, because one day I realized that this beautiful city we live in is inches from a WROL scenario. It’s all just below the surface.
  2. PREPARATION ISN’T ENOUGH; LOCATION IS KEY! This was a wakeup call for me. While I am prepared for anything, when it comes to band aids, beans, and bullets in the most almighty way imaginable, thanks to my professional successes. However, the one thing you cannot overcome, no matter how hard you try, is living in the wrong location.
  3. MOST MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS ARE LOST CAUSES. Our beloved city, in all its glory, is on the verge of lawlessness. You cannot spend your way into a utopian society or educate yourself to prosperity, if there isn’t security. Right now, where I’m sitting, we have a law enforcement system that is broken because of the right intentions coupled with the wrong principles. We have a penal system that is overflowing. People in the San Francisco Bay Area are going to have to learn to live with crime that goes unenforced in broad daylight, because there is just too much of it. It’s just slightly below the surface.
  4. TRAIN TO COMPLEMENT YOUR PREPS. Aside from having an extensive array of preparations, I advise that you train extensively whenever you can at things like first aid, firearms, trade craft, self-defense, fitness, communications, and anything that interests you and will complement your tangible preps.
  5. BE MENTALLY AWARE AT ALL TIMES. My mind was on overdrive throughout this whole process. Driving rapidly on the freeway, trying to be safe, tracking someone, and rehearsing what you are going to do– it was a mental workout. Simulate all possible outcomes of any scenario to help balance risk. Be situationally aware. Don’t be stupid; be wise. Also, allow time to unwind afterwards. My mind kept racing for hours after the incident to where I couldn’t focus.

Letter: Canned Food Alternatives

Dear Survival Blog,

I have been reading your blog for several years. You have a lot of great information, and I am glad that you are putting this information out on the net. However, I have a couple of questions. I want to start my stocking up, but my family does not eat canned food. Is there an alternative to canned food? I know about MRE’s; would that be a possible solution for our food storage? What do you do when there are items listed on the list of lists that you either don’t eat or don’t have access to? Thank you for your time – H.T.

HJL Replies: We tend to stay away from commercially-canned foods. Several years ago, we began to restrict our salt intake as it was causing my wife considerable issues. We haven’t looked back since. One of the easiest methods to take control is to use fewer commercially-canned foods, as they are generally packed with salt. When we can’t have fresh vegetables in our diet, we generally prefer the texture of frozen vegetables over canned items. Last year, one of our new advertisers came to us with a home freeze dryer. After reviewing it, I couldn’t give it up and have been running it nearly non-stop since the review. The freezers are now just temporary holding space until I can run the foods through the machine. It is expensive, but so is commercially-prepared, freeze-dried foods. If you don’t want to bother with the process yourself, quite a few of our advertisers offer pre-packaged freeze-dried foods as well. I personally don’t care for the MREs (mostly due to the salt content and the massive caloric content of the individual meals), but many people like them. Whatever process you use, you should rotate your stock regularly. We live by the mantra “eat what you store; store what you eat.”

Economics and Investing:

Evidence Grows Showing Wall Street as a Negative Economic Force. – P.K.

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Gold: Its Time Has Come

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Comparing the inflated cost of living today from 1938 to 2015: US Dollar losing an enormous amount of purchasing power since 1938

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Treasury Yields Rise From Record Lows as Fed Meets on Rates Path – Path to rate hike, that’s going be like finding the end of a rainbow…

Greece’s New FinMin Explains “This Is What Happens When You Humiliate A Nation & Give It No Hope” – While there is merit to what is said, you’re certainly not going to fix the issues with what this new administration is likely to propose as solutions.

Odds ‘n Sods:

Have a look at “Tactical Walls” – Very impressive gun hidden storage systems – video – 2 mins. – T.P.

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An excellent example of charity – before TSHTF: Save a life or sneer at an idiot – your choice

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1 in 3 on Disability Have Mental Disorder; 42.9% in D.C.. That makes sense, seeing as how between the Congress and the Executive Branch mental illness runs rampant! – P.M.

HJL adds: While that number is disturbing, don’t forget that the standard manual for defining mental disorders has been expanded so significantly that pretty much anybody TPTB want to have a mental disorder can be diagnosed with one.

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TurboTax’s database knows your secrets. Paper for taxes so long as we’re permitted. – D.S.

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Sci-Fi or Nanny state? Here’s How The Internet Of Things Will Solve Traffic Jams And Take The Stress Out Finding A Parking Space. – T.P.

Notes for Tuesday – January 27, 2015

January 27th is the birthday of the late Helen Chenoweth (born, 1938, died October 2, 2006). She was a controversial Republican congresswoman from Orofino, Idaho.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 56 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 then 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 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 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 Instituteis 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. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. 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).

Round 56 ends on January 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.

Be The Gray Man, by M.F.

Blending In for Survival

One of the lesser-discussed survival topics, even among preppers, is the eventual need to go out into what’s left of the world after the fan turns brown. Most preppers focus on making preparations to survive the onslaught of unforeseeable calamities that are more than likely heading our way in the near future. While none of us can say for sure what exactly will happen to bring on a survival situation, we are all pretty sure that something wicked this way comes. Even non-preppers can “feel” that something is wrong. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that the world has changed drastically in the last 15 years or so. The evidence is all around us. Strange weather patterns have emerged and are now the norm. The threat of terrorism, both real and contrived, is always lurking around the corner. The worlds’ financial markets are a mess of lies upon lies that will have to end at some point. Bubbles within bubbles comprise the whole of the stock markets, and financial collapse is a certainty that looms over us like a giant cloud. Racial and religious tensions, which are promoted by our so-called leaders, have escalated to a near boiling point. Talk of a third world war is now commonplace, as the United States or at least what used to be the United States, seems set on pushing Russia towards outright conflict, and let’s not even talk of all the stuff happening in space. The threats are at an all-time high. With so many possible causes of disaster facing the population of this planet, you’d be crazy not to be prepared to survive it. However, what happens once you make it past the initial phase of the chaos? What happens when you are a year and a half into survival mode and the beans and rice are running low? How do you get by when you no longer have all the necessities stocked neatly on the shelves in your bunker or bug out location? You will have to return to the world you left behind and scavenge for supplies, like those who did not prepare. The good news is that you will have less competition than you would in the early days of the chaos, but the bad news is that when you go out into this newly devastated world, you will stick out like a sore thumb.

Picture the people who have managed to survive on less than nothing for the last year and a half while you were eating MREs and reading the classics. These people will look vastly different from you, or rather you will look vastly different from them. This will be problematic. People will be so desperate, and their survival skills will be so sharp that they will spot you coming a mile away with your clean clothes and your extra body fat. Who knows what these depraved souls will be willing to do in order to get a proper meal or just to find any measure of relief from their daily struggle to live. They may follow you back to your camp or shelter and attack you for what you have. They may try to rob you of those nice new boots you are wearing. They might even try to cook you up and dine on your meaty remains. It has happened many times in the past and will happen again in the future. Human nature forces you to do what you have to do in order to live. As ugly as some of it may be, the will to live is stronger than the will to do what’s right. Even the best of us can succumb to hunger, thirst, and hopelessness. I don’t even want to think of what the worst of us will be like. In today’s world of plenty, we slaughter each other wholesale for petty reasons that in no way effect our own survival. Think what mankind will do when every second of every day may be the last. That is a scary world– a world where you don’t want to stick out or be noticed but rather to blend in and seem just as desperate as the next man.

In today’s society we are obsessed with appearance only for the sake of vanity. In the world of tomorrow, appearance may become a matter of life and death. Moreover, it may not only get you killed but may get those around you killed as well. If you come out into this new world with clean clothes and a “newish” backpack, you will certainly draw the attention of those who are barely making it. They will resent you for being prepared and for not suffering as they have. They will want your food, shelter, ammo, socks, and even your women and children. They will be more desperate than anything you have ever seen or heard of. They will try anything to ease their suffering, and you will look like a nicely-wrapped Christmas present to them.

This is why you have to be the gray man. You have to blend in with the masses, and you need to look and seem as desperate and hopeless as they are. There are many facets to accomplishing this task, and you will need to master this concept, if you intend to live. This means you need to start thinking about it now and prepare for it like you would anything else.

Where to Begin

The obvious starting point is appearance, as we have been discussing appearance from the beginning of this article. However it won’t end there, but we will keep the cart behind the horse, where it belongs, and start with an old set of clothes. The older and more drab colored and worn out, the better. Head to toe, you need to look ragged and bland. Old boots that have seen better days is a good place to begin. Jeans with natural wear holes will be good for lower legs. You can stress jeans by putting them on and keeping the fabric tight while scraping it with a knife or sharp blade. Just lightly shave it thinner in the areas you want holes in and with a little bit of wear, they will tear and shred naturally; in this way, you will get the desired effect. Several layers of shirts that are also in shoddy condition will top off your look.

A t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, and hoodie is a good combination. Plus, you can pull the hood up to hide that nice, clean hair of yours. You will probably also want to have a jacket– one appropriate for the winter in your bugout location and one which you won’t mind trashing. Hats will be popular, as they will actually have a more important function when you are spending the majority of your time outdoors, as most will be forced to do.

I would keep this outfit together in a bag and have them ready to use when you have to go out into the world. If you are part of a group, you will want each member that may go scavenging to have a similar set of hobo threads. For now, they can be clean while they are stored, but when you do finally go out into the heart of darkness, you will want to dirty them up with dust, ash, mud, or all of these.

You will want to use ash and mud to dirty your hands and face as well. Now, you don’t want to overdo it either, as that will draw attention just as quickly. Blending in means looking like everyone else, so you will want to appear as dirty and worn out as the next man but not noticeably dirtier. Be sure to apply your dirt makeover fairly evenly, and then randomly splash a few spots of mud across the bottom of your legs of your jeans. Be sure to have some dust on your face, under your fingernails, and around your ears and eyes. Don’t shave for a while before you go out, so that you look like everyone else. Most men will probably be bearded, so you may want to consider joining them from the start, so that you look like you have been without a shave for as long as they have. Never go out with a cleanly-shaven face. There is not enough dirt in the world to cover up that mistake. If you are reading this, then you know you cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to survival, and this is one area you need to be sure to focus on.

Evolving

As time goes on, your outfit should evolve with the look of the people in your area. Adapt to your surroundings, and blend in as much as you can. As I mentioned before, it may be time to embrace the beard and forsake the clean face altogether. If it’s safe enough to do so, you might also consider making regular scavenging trips at the beginning of it all, just to be a familiar face. Get folks used to seeing you here and there. Take no chances; pick up what you can, and move about as your fellow man. If they are a bit slow and lumbering, due to lack of nutrients, mimic that when you are out. Eat light, and try to seem hungrier than you actually are. If it’s complete chaos outside, then stay in. Remember you prepped to live and do what is safe. If you are in a rural area, it will be much easier to go out and blend in. Cities will be cesspools of crime and death. Blending in will be twice as important here. In my opinion, it’s time to leave the cities now. Get into the countryside as far as you can without interrupting your daily life. Maybe a change of job and location is needed altogether. Only you can make that call, and that is one of the main tenets of prepping in the first place. Location is key, so if you are in a city, get out. If you are thinking about going into one, don’t. The same is true for the suburbs, as there will be war zones of homeowners waiting on the government to come stop it all while they fight with the city folk who have looted the city clean. If you have to move through a city, travel along a train track or power line. Stay off the roads as much as you can.

Remember that being the gray man is just another means to an end– your survival. Take it seriously. Also, if you are in a group that goes out, be sure they do too. Be smart, and take off any rings, bracelets, or watches before you go out. Take the time to scout the area for a while, if you can. If you have some binoculars or something similar, you can scout from a greater distance. Then try to match the conditions of the people as best you as you can, just enough to blend. Watch for the times of day that people move through the area. Try to match the natural rhythms to your purposes. If you are looking to interact with people to gain intel or some other reason, you will want to go when there are more folks, or maybe you have noticed one person that seemed approachable; you will have to be there when they are. The same thing goes for folks that you wish to avoid, or maybe you don’t want to see people at all. Timing can be very important. If you don’t have time to scout and have to plunge in, be careful and keep in mind that you are the gray man. Act accordingly. Improvise when you have to. Adapt when you can, and always, always overcome.

Letter Re: Food Items Past Expiration Dates

Hugh,

I have been an avid reader of SB for about five years now. It amazes me that folks with what appears to be good common sense are throwing away products they have used to start or continue their prepping activities. Most of these comments say they are tired of throwing out stuff that has gone past its expiration date.

With all the long-term storage info available on this site, I cannot for the life of me understand how someone would do this. With good storage rotation practices, first-in first-out, store what you eat and eat what you store habits, this should never happen. With good inventory control, you can determine when something is coming up on an expiration date. All it takes is a little effort. Use your Outlook program or some type of “come-up” file to remind yourself that Box A or Pail B has items within thirty to sixty days of going past the “use by” dates. THEN make that trip to a local food bank and contribute it. Since many of the food banks operate on slim inventory most of the time, these things will turnover quickly.

Here, in the community where I live, the local Emergency Food Bank serves almost six hundred families– approximately 2000 men, women, and children. Their rules state that you must show a picture ID to participate and you can only visit once a month. It is run out of a 600 sf facility and has been recognized as a model program since NONE of the staff are paid and the space they use is donated by the building owner.

If you are living at 40th and Plumb (forty miles from nowhere and plumb back in the sticks) and it is a major event to go into “town”, you may just have to plan a little better. If you are making a trip that takes all day, why don’t you volunteer some of your time and make an effort to help the fine people that run these efforts? Who knows, someday you might be on the receiving end of someone else’s generosity.

Depending on how far off the grid you are, you can probably get a tax deduction of some sort for what you donate, if you want. If not, then enjoy the personal satisfaction you get from knowing your prepper food is not going into a landfill but into the kindness of helping another person not go hungry. Personally, we are bringing several types of canned meat products and some other things we get on sale to our food bank about every five to six weeks and everything is at least thirty days or more before the expiration date. The folks at the food bank never ask any questions; they just take the food with many heartfelt thanks, and we see how it helps. I don’t think there is anything as sad as the look on the face of a hungry child.

If you need another reason, here it is. Someone once said that the most dangerous thing in the world is an “idea”. That may be all well and good if you are speaking philosophically, but in my mind, the most dangerous person in this world is a parent that can’t feed their hungry children, and that my friends is a person that it dangerous! – An older prepper in NC

HJL Responds: When I first started prepping, I was struggling with my own startup business. Money was tight and food beyond what we had in the normal pantry was precious. When a friend had the sale of a house fall through and ended up in an even worse financial position than me, I knew what I had to do. I took my precious larder and split it in half, giving the other half to my friend. A couple of months later, the wife of my friend took my wife aside and told her “You need to check your food. I had to throw most of that food away because the cans were a few weeks past their expiration date.” I felt crushed. My charity had ended up in a trash can because of a manufacturer’s arbitrary date designed to absolve them of any responsibility for the food. The expiration, especially that of canned foods, is more of a suggestion. Food doesn’t magically go bad when the expiration date passes. The food will degrade, and the nutrients will gradually break down over time. The speed of that degradation is intertwined tightly with the conditions of the storage. With cool, dry storage, canned goods will literally last for multiple tens of years past the date stamped on the can. The fiber structure will gradually break down, and the vitamins will degrade, but calories are calories. As long as the can is undamaged and the food is palatable when opened, you can eat the contents. Oxygen and temperature extremes are the enemy of any stored food, so if it is protected, the date is just a method of tracking how old the food is so that you can rotate your stock. While botulism is a tasteless and odorless bacteria, it generally grows in an environment that other, far more odoriferous bacterial also grows. The visual appearance is also a critical indicator.

As for donating to a food pantry, the nanny government sets standards and any expired food you donate will be thrown away.

News From The American Redoubt:

Many are asking why President Obama is choosing Idaho

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This is incredibly expensive toilet paper! Craigslist ad: Obama speech ticket – $1000

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Some megaload protesters report text messages from FBI. While I can’t condone the protester’s message, they have the right to protest. The FBI, however, has demonstrated some scary behavior here. – RBS

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Study Indicates Eastern Oregon’s Ontario is the state’s Least Safe City. For some residents of the border town, they refer to it as CompTario in reference to crime infested Compton, California. – RBS

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How safe is your county from a natural disaster? Research from NOAA based on 44 disaster variables lists 3,114 counties in the continental United States. Of the rating of the top fifteen safest counties from natural disasters in the U.S., 11 counties are in the American Redoubt. – B.W.

Economics and Investing:

Markets or Mercantilism. – An interesting view of the free market. – S.B.

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The global economy has degenerated into one massive currency war. This is not sustainable nor a rising tide that lifts all boats…

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Precious Metals Coveted Once More as Draghi Acts: Commodities

S&P Cuts Russia To Junk, Ruble Plunges To 6-Week Lows

Greece Election: Big Syriza Win – This is going to get interesting.

David Stockman: Meet Bloomberg’s Latest Idiot: Shobhana Chandra On Why Falling Prices Cause Hungry People To Starve

Odds ‘n Sods:

American Radio History (Including ‘Technical & Engineering’ magazines/books). – A.D.

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Mark Dice is revealing the utter stupidity of regular Americans again: Americans Want Obama To Repeal The Bill Of Rights: “Let’s Do It, Let’s Get Behind It”. – F.B.

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U.S. Spies on Millions of Cars. – G.P.

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Video (43 Seconds): Binary Firing System – Franklin Armory

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Where food crises and global conflict could collide . – RBS