Note from JWR:

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Today, I’m posting two more entries for the first round of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The winner will be announced tomorrow. (December 1st.) The writer of the best article will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!) Because of the success of the contest, we have decided to repeat this contest. “Round 2″ of the contest begins December 1st will end on the last day of January.

On Physical Conditioning by “Bings”

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When contemplating the self-sufficient/survivalist lifestyle, the most common concerns are weapons, power generation, and food. One area that is frequently overlooked is that of physical fitness. All the non-hybrid seed in the world won’t do you any good if you have a heart attack while trying to plant it. All the guns in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t run to a defensive position without wheezing like an asthmatic in a field of ragweed.
Getting in shape often seems like an impossible task. Although you may never be able to be a body double for Brad Pitt or Kate Hudson, being healthy is a very achievable goal for anyone. All it takes is a little knowledge, some common sense, and dedication. The purpose of this article is to give you the basic knowledge you’ll need to achieve your fitness goals.
There are many factors that influence physical conditioning. Some are outside the scope of this article (like stress) and some are so complicated that going into depth about them would require a book (like nutrition). I’ll be covering some of the basics, but you may wish to do further research as your time and inclination allow.
First up is a series of negative factors that impede the march to fitness. At the top of the list is stress. It wears down your body, robbing you of the will to workout. Although it’s not always possible to completely eliminate stress, reducing it should be a goal of first importance. Closely allied with stress is lack of sleep. Too often our culture devalues sleep as a luxury, sacrificing precious rest time for unimportant pursuits. Without proper rest your body can neither recover from exercise, nor rebuild for further efforts. Relax, get enough sleep and you’ll be amazed how easy achieving your goals can be.
Now, let’s take a look at some things you can do to enhance the effectiveness of working out. At the front of the line is proper nutrition. I won’t get into specific diets or schools of nutritional thought, but there are a few general rules anyone can follow. Cutting down on junk food (candy, soda, potato chips etc), eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, eating breakfast first thing in the morning to get the metabolism working, and not eating for a few hours before going to sleep are all fairly easy to accomplish without drastic lifestyle changes.
Another vital aspect of an effective fitness plan is pre-workout stretching. Often overlooked, stretching properly reduces injuries, enhances the efficacy of a workout, and builds flexibility. Develop a routine that works for you, and do it religiously even on days you don’t work out.
Okay, you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, had a thorough stretching session, and you’re ready to exercise! Next we’re going to discuss some different types of exercises, their relative advantages and disadvantages, and how to get the most out of them. For the purposes of this article we’ll divide the various exercises into two categories: aerobic and strength. Although there is often significant overlap, this division helps to formulate a plan.
The aerobic (or cardiovascular) field of exercises function mainly to tone muscles, build endurance, and build up the circulatory and respiratory systems. This field should form the base of any exercise regime. Without proper circulation of well aerated blood, one cannot hope to make any significant fitness gains. I t is also the most important in terms of overall health.
The field of strength training is somewhat more limited, both in types of exercises and in potential gains. To derive the full benefits of this field, one should have a solid base of cardiovascular fitness. All this is not to demean strength training; it is merely an attempt to put it into perspective. There are many benefits to a proper strength training program, and it is definitely not a field to be ignored.
There are as many ways of getting fit as there are unfit people. The key to it all is persistence. Whether you choose an all out assault on fat that drastically changes your entire lifestyle, or merely start walking the dog and skipping that side of fries it’s all for nothing if you don’t keep at it. Find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your routine. Find other like-minded individuals and band together to support and encourage each other. Stay positive, stay motivated, and soon you’ll see results you thought impossible! – “Bings”

Two Letters Re: Request for Blog Reader Recommendations–Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM?

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To reply to the reader about the [Springfield Armory] M1A SOCOM [variant]. First, I have had and do have several M1A-A1 Scout rifles. I would not trade any of them for any other main battle rifle. Second, I personally know several [former] SEAL Team 2 members and other men who have worked with BlackWater in Iraq. The SOCOM is there preferred weapon, other than what would be Class 3 weapons for us [civilians]. – “Woo”

Sir:
While I cannot speak to the SOCOM, I am the proud owner of an M1A Scout (my understanding that the primary difference in the two models is the muzzle brake/compensator, and the SOCOM is a slightly shorter barrel, perhaps due to the different muzzle brake). I give this rifle a heart-felt thumbs-up. It shoots better than I do, swallows anything I feed it (accuracy wise, it doesn’t like the Indian stuff, I get horrible groups with it; South African surplus averages about 3 MOA, but premium Federal is sub-MOA), and Springfield has bent over backwards with regards to customer service (when I ordered a 5-round magazine). Complaints: It is heavy for a shorter rifle, especially with the Springfield 7.62 scope and mount that I have on it. It was a real wrestling match to field strip it the first few times, until it was broken in. Oh yes, the fact that it costs [like] a small mortgage to purchase. (Springfield is back-ordered, so if you can find one under $1,400, then grab it) Other than that, it’s my primary weapon, and I’m using it this season on New York bear and deer (with the legal 5-round sporting magazine). Best Regards, – Mike

Letter Re: Former FEMA Director Michael Brown is Now Consulting

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Mr. Rawles:
Here is a link to the jaw-droppingly absurd, but true. CNN ran a story about Michael Brown getting fired from FEMA only to go into the Emergency Planning “consulting” business. See: http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/11/24/brown.consultant.ap/index.html We can all sleep better now knowing that America is once again safe. Regards, -B. Adams

From David in Israel: On Survival Cycling

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It really doesn’t matter if we are thinking slow slide, nuke exchange, or just losing your job: The full or partial switch to a bicycle can be one of the best changes a person can make. DO NOT jump into a decision about buying a bike. It is one of the most personal things you will ever own, if you don’t buy the right bike for you it will just end up rusting in the barn.
As I like to beat into you:
#1 It must be easy to use or you won’t when you are worn out tired
#2 Try not to attract unwanted attention, make it look cheap/old

A bicycle is a balance of simplicity versus features.On one side is a single speed coaster bicycle with closed cell foam inner(not)tubes.
Moving parts: Wheel bearings, chain, crank bearing, coaster hub brake, headset (handlebar bushing), and pedal. Using only 7 moving parts and no pneumatic tires this bike may need repacked bearings and a new chain every few years (barring rust-away) there not much to go wrong. On a simple bicycle like this I suggest a steel frame from a quality brand. Get quality coaster hubs from brands like SRAM and Sturmer-Archer. Chrome or stainless steel chains will resist rust. (Rust robs more performance than almost any other cause.) Durable tires with a center strip will greatly reduce the effort required to travel on road. To get more complicated you could go to something with more moving parts like a mountain, road, or touring bike which make the ride easier by allowing you to move faster or climb hills easier by giving you a wide range of gears. Some features to investigate are disk or rim brakes(hydraulic or cable), heavy duty shocks on the front, seat post or rear suspension, derailler gear shifting (a massive failure point, so only buy the most durable or have spares) or internal hub gearing, toe clip or clipless foot attachment, the list could go on.
Another direction is to choose a folding bike. A folder can also be durable but can pack into a large suitcase size allowing you to catch a ride when available, the trade-offs may be durability or riding comfort and accessory options, I suggest trying out several brands before dismissing this group.
Visit several bicycle shops and find a personal mechanic to help you build your bike. A decent mechanic makes his work a passion and will be able to point out the best solution for your application.
Unless you have money only for food and shelter and nothing else don’t waste money on an Asian sub $40-to-$100 15 speed, they are of such poor quality it will forever remain in reserve at the back of your garage after its first ride (just try to keep it in one gear).
Rather than telling you what to think, spend a while researching this topic for yourself on the web and in bike shops. You may also consider buying a mid-level bike and getting to be a regular rider so you can deciding what needs to be improved before making a big purchase.

Some Points To Ponder:
Where will you be riding (terrain, topology, road type)?
What will you be carrying?
What weather will you ride in?
Ability to upgrade?
Durability of components?
Ease of repair in field?
Comfort on long rides?
Long term resistance to environment (rust,sun,etc)?
Trailer or baggage options?
Lighting and generator options?
Electrical or gas auxiliary drive systems?
Ease of vehicular transport (auto,air,train,bus,boat)?
Storage?
Anti-theft options?
Tools, availability/stockpile spares, field tools?

JWR Adds: Some flat black and flat rust-brown spray paint, applied judiciously, will make a brand new $400 bike look like an ancient $40 bike in just a few minutes. (It will also cut down on reflective surfaces to make it “tactical.”) However, keep in mind that this will not do good things for your bike’s resale value, in the event that you ever have a reason to “trade up.” So unless you live in what is currently an area with a high rate of bicycle theft, it is probably best to keep your supply of subduing paint in storage and to apply it only after The Schumer Hits The Fan.

Larry in Kansas on Lasik Eye Surgery for Preparedness

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First, this is not an endorsement of any kind. I really want that to be clear to the readers of SurvivalBlog.
I’ve been wearing glasses for the better part of 35 years. I had myopia and astigmatism. I was wearing bifocals. For many reasons wearing glasses can be a big pain in the “six”. I had been considering Lasik surgery for several years and just didn’t have the money, justification and/or the courage to get the procedure done.
To me the decision was made several weeks ago when I heard a noise in the house and I went to investigate. There was nothing there. Just the dishwasher changing gears. Anyway, I realized that I did have a problem. It was my vision. I can’t just wake up and see things. I have to first find my glasses to see.
Usually, when waking up suddenly one is a little disorganized. However, trying to find your glasses makes it worse. The thought came to me that if I accidentally knocked them on the floor during the night (which has happened) I would be in a real pickle if it was a real two legged bump in the night.
The other thought was that if it was a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI I didn’t want to be a slave to my glasses for visual aid. If I lost them or they broke them or whatever, I might not be able to get a replacement pair. On that subject I don’t know a lot of folks that have extra pairs of glasses for replacement. Older pairs of glasses are old for a reason. If I couldn’t see than my effective range would be about three feet. Personally I couldn’t do that to my family.
So, I built up my courage and with my end of the year bonus I went and had Lasik surgery done. The actual surgery was approximately 6 or so minutes. I wont go into all the details of that, however, less than 24 hours after the procedure I had 20/20 vision and it should improve from that. The most important thing to me is that I’m no longer a slave to glasses. I can see across the room and across the street. I can read road signs that would have been a blur just a few days ago without my glasses. My eyes wont fog up from temperature changes and get fingerprints on them, et cetera. My effective range is over 300 yards without glasses.
The money I spent on this could have bought a lot of beans, bullets and band-aids. I consider this a personal investment in my family’s future and survival insurance. (“Better to have and not need than to need and not have.”)
This isn’t for everyone, so check with your doctor. If anyone else has had this done maybe they would like to share their experiences. All for now, – Larry from Kansas
P.S.: Always wear eye protection when shooting. Your sight is very valuable!

Guest Book Review by “The Rookie” Dancing at Armageddon, Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times

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Dancing at Armageddon, Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times, by Richard G. Mitchell, Jr., 2002, University of Chicago Press.

Unlike some of you “lifers”, I’m new to preparedness. So I’m always looking for good books to read to learn more about preparedness, like Patriots. But there is one topic I don’t find written about very much: what is a survivalist, where do they live, and how do you meet one? So when I stumbled across this book on the internet, I was very curious to read the synopsis. It turns out the author spent 12 years interviewing and living with survivalists. This was the mother lode! Here is what appears to be the defining work of who and what survivalists are.
I eagerly ordered my copy and impatiently awaited for its arrival. Once it was delivered, I immediately opened it and started reading. But I’m sorry to say, my excitement quickly drifted to boredom, then confusion, and finally frustration. While this book does have snippets of interesting interviews, overall it is a misguided, pompous, insult to survivalism and preparedness.
I call this book misguided, because the author focused on four main groups, and three of these groups have nothing to do with survivalism. The author spent years infiltrating the Aryan Nation to become an insider. And what did he find? They are mean and hateful people. No big surprise here, but nothing about survivalism or preparedness. The author also spent time with a whacko militia in the northwest. This group never discussed food, water, or shelter. All they did was run around in the woods playing cops and robbers with shotgun blanks. But this does lead to one of the best scenes in the book, where the author ambushes one of the numskulls at close range out of his own frustration. A blank at close range can be quite painful. Another group was an ultra-conservative religious fringe group. Not much to learn here either.
The last group was what I would call true survivalists, working together to gather essentials so their families would be prepared for any major disaster. They were led by “Hank” of the Mount Rainier Rangers. Now here was a group I could identify with and hope to learn from. But the author paints this group as ineffective and meaningless. By the end of the book, “Hank” has lost his job, his house, and all his supplies. The message from the author is subdued, but clear: Survivalists are weak-minded and inconsequential individuals that can’t even survive in the current economy, much less a troubled one.
I call this book pompous, because at many points it is impossible to understand what he is saying. The author is definitely a college professor, because he writes like one. And probably only another college professor would understand what he is writing about in his many sections. Here’s an example from page 146: “Grounded social science seeks utility beyond mere situation-specific description.” What the heck does this mean? The book is full of phrases like this.
The final insult can be found in the appendix of the book. The author interviewed over 200 individuals who openly stood up as survivalist. This is a huge number. Yet he chose to profile the groups above. Obviously he must have interviewed many serious, responsible individuals. But this is not reflected in the text. It seems like the real survivalists were intentionally left out.
Okay, I much as I dislike this book, I will admit there are nuggets of gold sprinkled through-out the book. Near the end of the book, the author quotes one individual as follows: “A survivalist is basically an independent person who cannot in his mind see the status quo remaining. He does not have faith that the powers-that-be will take care of him in all situations. That’s all. It’s like being your own insurance. If there is a windstorm and your house gets damaged, you don’t wait for the government to come and help. You start to rebuild right away with what you have and do the best you can.” I like that phrase, “being your own insurance”.
The statistics in the appendix are also somewhat interesting. Nearly 80% of survivalist are married, they are not single hermits living in a shack like the Unabomber. A full 50% worry about nuclear war, but only 7% have fallout shelters. Only 37% worry about economic collapse. And over 50% have some type of college degree. The most common preparation? 63% have already acquired firearms. I think there is more info in the appendix than the rest of the book.
One final observation. When I bought this book, I did not understand why the author titled it “Dancing at Armageddon”. I don’t plan to do any dancing when the “Schumer hits the fan.” I plan to do what any rational person will do, use my knowledge and materials to help my family, neighbors, and community pull together to survive through any catastrophe. If I get excited when discussing my preparations, it is NOT because I want trouble to come. I get excited because I am learning there are common sense actions I can take today to survive tomorrow. So in essence, the title is one more insult to survivalists, implying we want trouble to come, and will celebrate with dancing when it arrives. I know I will not be dancing, but I probably will be using this book for kindling. Always learning something new, – The Rookie

JWR’s Comment: Just leave it to a liberal journalist to focus on the tiny lunatic racist fringe rather than on the mainstream of responsible, rational, open-minded survivalists.

Letter Re: Sources for Pre-1965 Circulated “Junk” Silver Coins?

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Jim:
Why is it, Jim, that when I ask a coin shop about “junk silver” or pre-1965 [$1,000 face value] bags of silver they look at me as if I’m nuts? Am I going to the wrong place? – Gerry

JWR Replies: It sounds like you visited a “numismatics only” shop. Some shops don’t bother selling bullion because the markup is so much less than rare coins. Just call around to several other dealers in your region. Odds are that most of them will sell pre-’65 by the bag or half-bag–or can at least they can order it for you.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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“Commander Harken: For some the war’ll never be over. I notice your ship’s called Serenity. You were stationed on Hera at the end of the war. Battle of Serenity Valley took place there, if I recall.
Captain Reynolds: You know, I believe you might be right.
Commander Harken: Independents suffered a pretty crushing defeat there. Some say after Serenity, the Browncoats were through. That the war really ended in that valley.
Captain Reynolds: Hmmm.
Commander Harken: Seems odd you’d name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of.
Captain Reynolds: May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

- From the cancelled science fiction television series “Firefly”

Note from JWR:

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It is gratifying to see that the SurvivalBlog readership is still growing steadily. Please continue to to tell your family, friends, and co-workers about this blog. God willing, reading SurvivalBlog will motivate them to get “squared away” logistically. Their increased preparedness could help save many lives: their own, yours, your friends, your neighbors, and your loved ones. So it is in your own best interest to spread the word!

We will be announcing the winner of the first SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest on December 1st. The writer of the best article will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight! (An up to $2,000 value.) Because of the success of the contest, we have decided to repeat this contest. “Round 2″ of the contest begins December 1st will end on the last day of January.

CONEXes, Not Rolexes

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In person at guns shows and at public speaking engagements, as well as in e-mail, I often have folks mention some of the odd, if not bizarre things that they have purchased for their survival preparations. They run the gamut:

Ostentatious: The reader that blew virtually his entire preparation budget on a brand new BMW 4×4 SUV

Impractical: The gent who said that he owns just one firearm: An AR-15 with five 100-round Beta C-MAGs, a rail-mounted white flashlight, a rail-mounted IR flashlight, PAQ-4 laser target designator, a Gen 3 PVS-4 starlight scope, bipod, and a pseudo-M203 (37mm) flare launcher.

Underachieving: The man who had a whopping two cases of MREs (24 meals) en toto as his family’s food storage supply. Not to worry. He said that he was “planning to get at least one more case.”

Hypochondriacal: The lady that purchased more than $3,000 worth of vitamins and medications for herself and her husband –far more than can be used before the end of the useful shelf life of the meds. Her stockpile includes “heart medicine, in case either of us ever develop a heart condition.”

Absurd: The reader that had accumulated hundreds of rolls of toilet paper but who complained: “I lack room in my garage and my storage space for much storage food.”

Clueless: The man with more than 2,000 pounds of hard red winter wheat, but that didn’t own a wheat grinder.

I suggest a practical, well-balanced approach to preparedness. Here is my preparedness philosophy in a nutshell: You want to buy quality. You want things that will last. But why pay $5,000 for a Rolex Submariner watch, when an O&W Swiss watch that is built just as well will do the same thing, for far less than half as much money?  The inverse corollary is just as important: Why buy a cheap set of low grade “Made in China” tools that will break the first time that they are used instead of buying a set of Craftsman or Snap-On tools which will last a lifetime?  You need to be realistic and strike a commonsense middle ground. Being a truly prepared individual takes wisdom, discernment, and dedication. Learn to objectively judge both the things that you buy and the people that you associate with. You will have to depend on both your logistics and your survival team When the Schumer Hits The Fan (WTSHTF). Make plans and stick to them. Don’t develop a plan that is so grand that you never get started. Start small and build on that success. Prioritize your purchases. Don’t go overboard in one area (such as firearms/accessories or commo gear) to the detriment of other important preparations. Rid yourself of non-essentials (like your Jet-Skis and your big screen plasma television.) Concentrate on things that work. Concentrate on friends that work–not those who just talk. Buy in bulk. Buy without a paper trail. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Pre-position key logistics at your retreat. Don’t scrimp on protecting what you’ve bought from rust, rot, moths, and critters. (This means getting proper airtight storage containers, a locking CONEX, a gun vault, Golden Rod Dehumidifiers, 02 absorbing packets, diatomaceous earth, et cetera.) Buy extra for barter and more importantly for charity. Be circumspect about your preparations. (The whole town doesn’t need to know that you have a three year food supply and 100K rounds of ammo.) Recognize potential threats but don’t panic. Instead, plan methodically. Most importantly: pray first, then prepare, and always live by The Golden Rule.

The Great Debate–Puru Saxena Explains the Fed’s Interest Rate Hikes

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Don’t miss the article titled The Great Debate by Puru Saxena which recently ran in The Daily Reckoning. In it, Saxena refutes the widespread belief is that the Federal Reserve is currently increasing interest-rates to “control” inflation. Here is an excerpt from his excellent article:

“The grim reality is that the modern day central banking IS inflation…and the quicker we get used to this idea, the better. The deflation scare is nothing more than a decoy, which the central banks use in order to continue with their money-printing (inflationary) program.
Still not convinced? Then, consider the greatest fabrication, the Japanese “deflation” scare.  For years now, we have been told repeatedly that the root cause of Japan’s economic problems is deflation. We have been forced into thinking that deflation is the culprit. Allow me to share a secret – the central banks want you to believe that deflation is a total disaster so that they can freely print more money, thereby creating inflation. After all, who benefits from the monetization of the economy?
Despite all the brainwashing, close inspection reveals that Japan never really had any deflation! The truth is that throughout the past 15 years, Japan’s money supply has continued to grow (inflation). Japan has witnessed inflation, and not deflation, since 1980. Sure, Japanese asset prices have fallen since 1990, but the cause is not deflation, as advertised by the establishment. In fact, a sharp rise in interest-rates was the trigger, which caused the Japanese stock and property bubbles to burst.

These days, we are being told that the Federal Reserve is raising interest-rates to “control” inflation. If the Federal Reserve were really curbing inflation, why would the American money supply continue to surge despite recent interest-rate hikes? Despite all the noise about inflation, the Federal Reserve has added roughly $1 trillion to the system over the last year. So, on one hand, the Federal Reserve continues to inflate, and on the other hand, it is raising rates. “But why would they do that?” you may ask. You see, the U.S. economy is in a mess, and a true contraction in the money supply (deflation) would send the whole world into a severe recession. Under this scenario, millions of companies and individuals would go bust and the entire financial system may collapse. Therefore, you can rest assured that the Federal Reserve will continue to inflate for as long as possible. It is shocking to note that the broad-based money supply (M3) has increased from $ 6.5 trillion to $10 trillion in five years – representing a 54% increase! Yeah, Greenspan did a fine job “managing” inflation!

As far as the current situation is concerned, I believe the Federal Reserve is raising interest-rates to prevent an outright collapse of the U.S. dollar…”

Visit The Daily Reckoning web site to read the rest of Mr. Saxena’s article. If you do not yet already subscribe to The Daily Reckoning (a free e-mail subscription), then I highly recommend it.

 

Odds ‘n Sods:

By popular demand, The Pre-1899 Specialist has removed the password restriction on his web site.  For those of you that have experienced trouble logging in, try it again now!  See:  http://www.antiquefirearms.org/blog.html

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Reader “C.G.” recommends a battery-powered zip stove for camping and short term outdoor survival . See: http://www.zzstove.com/index.html

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The Chinese city of Harbin (with 3.8 million residents) closed schools and was trucking in drinking water last week after shutting down its water system following a chemical plant explosion. The chemical contamination is working its way down the Songhua River, into Siberia. See: http://g.msn.com/0MN2ET7/2?http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10170448/from/ET/