Note From JWR:

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The recent early snow cover and unseasonably cold weather at the Rawles Ranch has changed the habits of the local deer. Now they are visiting our feeder to browse on some grass/alfalfa mix hay, even at mid-day. It looks like this may be a hard winter. Hopefully we won’t lose too many young deer, elk, and moose. The eating habits of the Rawles clan have changed too. There is definitely more interest in Chili con Bambi, Clam Chowder, and Hot Cocoa.

Letter Re: Some Useful Ham Radio, DXing, and CB Radio Web Sites

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Hi Jim.
While reviewing accessories for the MURS radios, I perused my way onto this Ham radio site that is loaded with links to other sites and/or articles on antenna building for literally all of the radio spectrum.Of particular interest is this site for converting an old outdoor television antenna into a 2 meter (144-148 MHz) Yagi (beam) antenna for very little money:

Since many of the readers of SurvivalBlog are interested in communications I feel these other sites would be helpful as well, here are some other useful sites regarding ham and CB radio repairs
Roger Bird

Antennas and design software:
Andrew’s Page
RF Cascade

Prices on used equipment with pictures.

Scanner frequencies by state and city/town.
Lastly, for the real brave do-it-yourselfer here’s a link to a site that outlines how to build a 10 or 24ghz Gunnplexer

Hoping all stays well, – Joe from Tennessee

Signs of Potential Currency Hyperinflation, by Lee Rogers

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Defeat the Coin Act of 2006, by Lee Rogers at The Funny Money Report. Here is an excerpt: “Over this past summer a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation. This bill is also referred to as the Coin Act of 2006 or House Resolution 5818. Introduced by Representative Jim Kolbe from Arizona the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology this past August. The purpose of the bill according to the text of the bill itself is to modernize the legal tender of the United States, and for other purposes. The mainstream media has sold this bill to the American people as legislation that will move to get rid of the penny. Even though that is one of the proposals included in the bill, there are much more significant things in the bill which makes me dead set against it.

The implications of the U.S. Mint being put in the hands of the banking cartel is another major problem. If the Federal Reserve gets control of it, I wonder how long it will take before they order a stop to the production of collectible U.S. gold coins. Or for that matter, how long would it take for them to eliminate the production of all U.S. coins? Obviously if rampant inflation continues, we will either see a change in the composition of the coins or an elimination of them.” The preceding article excerpt was forwarded courtesy of Tom W. at

Letter Re: Communications and Monitoring for Disasters–Are Scanners Useful?

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Hi Jim,
Last week you discussed your preference for communication modalities for use in disasters and their order of importance. Obvious by omission were two modes that I thought might have distinct utility: a radio scanner (to monitor weather, traffic accidents and attendant backups, police and fire activity, etc.) and a transceiver with frequencies in the amateur bands (160, 80, 40, 20, 10 and 6 meters and the centimeter bands).
Will you please provide your thoughts on the utility of these devices and whether or not you think they are worth the trouble (expense and licensing)?
Thanks for your input. – Jim H.

JWR Replies: I previously strongly emphasized the importance of owning a scanner, but I consider them less important now. There are several reasons for this: First, and foremost, the majority of police and sheriffs departments now use scramblers or encryption devices for all but their most mundane traffic. Even some fire departments now use scramblers. Second, one of the other major uses of a scanner was the ability to receive NOAA weather broadcasts. But most MURS radios and 2 Meter handi-talkies can be programmed for those frequencies, so if you own a set of MURS band walkie-talkies (such as those sold by MURS Radios), then this is a redundant feature. Ditto for most of the recent production digitally tuned general coverage shortwave receivers. (They usually have a one touch “WX” button.) Lastly, there is the “information overload” factor for someone manning a Charge of Quarters (“CQ“) desk. Scanner chatter is just one more distraction for someone that is concentrating on monitoring field telephones, intrusion detection sensors, security cameras, and a local CB or MURS security coordination radio network. And since less and less of what you will hear on scanners in the future will relate useful tactical/situational information (because of increasing encryption, as previously noted) then I recommend that if you have a scanner that you leave it turned off most of the time. Yes, a scanner does have its uses and each family should probably own one. There will often be Public Service Band traffic that will be broadcast “in the clear” (unencrypted) that will have significance–adding to your situational awareness. But, in general, scanners are considerably less important for TEOTWAWKI planning than they were a decade ago. Put one on your purchasing list, but fairly far down the list. BTW, the scanner model that I like the best is the old reliable (but sadly discontinued) Bearcat 800 XLT. Used ones can often be found for less than $50 on eBay.


Odds ‘n Sods:

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Tom W. at sent this one, from “Hedge Funds Overleveraged, Sprott warns”

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Reader CM writes: “A fascinating look at how Mr. Bernanke is radically increasing the money supply, and lying about it..The link is to a DailyKos diary but don’t let that
deter you – the charts and information that it contains are worth the look.”

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Northern Tool & Equipment (one of our affiliate advertisers) is offering sitewide Free Gift Cards with purchases over $100. This limited time promotion started Monday, November 27th and goes through Monday, December 4th. You will need to enter keycode 94660 in order to receive their free gift card.

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In case you missed it back in September, The War on Guns blog featured an interesting interview with novelist Matt Bracken. (The author of Enemies Foreign and Domestic, and Domestic Enemies.)

Notes From JWR:

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The cold spell here in the vicinity of the Rawles Ranch is continuing. Last night’s low was -11 degrees Fahrenheit. (Or, as they call it here in The Un-named Western State: “Shirtsleeves Weather.”)

My sincere thanks to the less than 1/2 of 1% of SurvivalBlog readers that have signed up for 10 Cent Challenge subscriptions. You 63 people know who you are. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted.

Letter Re: Tactical Vests as Wearable Mini Bug Out Bags

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Hi Jim,
I found another vest that some of your readers might be interested in if they like to “load up” like I do, but without having to use a medium ruck sized back pack. It’s made by Eagle Industries out of St. Louis and it’s called the Eagle Hunter’s Vest (product code HV-CH). It’s one-size-fits-all and its carrying capacity can be increased by adding a “butt pack” type pack also sold by Eagle that straps to the upper back of the vest. I have used a number of their products over the years while deployed [overseas] with the Army and have found the quality of material and workmanship to be excellent.
While deployed this time, I get to your site almost every day. I’ve been recommending it to those I work with. It’s definitely worth the 10 Cent Challenge. Take care, – Z in Iraq

Three Letters Re: Build Your Fallout Shelter From Barter Goods, by Mr. Yankee

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Hi Jim.
Just felt the need to re-emphasize the point you made with regard to Mr. Yankee’s ideas about an improvised fallout shelter.

First, I applaud his view that one should not count on being able to pull together an adequate expedient shelter when the need arises. As simple in theory as it seems, in practice, few would end up with a shelter they would want to rely on to save the lives of their loved ones.

Second, as far as the point you made, Jim, it is indeed very important to over-engineer any sort of structure that will be bearing the loads necessary for a fallout shelter.

I need to point out that I want to do everything in my power to encourage folks to buy or build their own shelters, whether it is from us or not. Why? I feel it’s very possible that the number of adequate shelters in the USA will go a long way toward defining our future viability. So I always hesitate to discourage folks in any way when they talk about what they feel are good, easy shelter ideas … but really are simply short cuts that as you pointed out could end up killing them.

To anyone thinking about this, if you’re going to build your own fallout shelter, then be darn sure it is built to last for decades under the most stressful conditions you can imagine. (Better yet, under conditions a structural engineer can imagine.) If it turns out you need to spend any time at all in your shelter, you sure don’t want to be thinking about how you cut some corners to save a few bucks, or that you did just enough to probably hold up when you have to start topping off the loads.

A “for instance”: There are a lot of arm-chair, Internet shelter designers who like to propose grand designs for underground shelters made of storage containers. Bad idea! They may look great as you are backfilling and burying them, but they are not built to withstand subterranean forces. They will catastrophically fail at some point–probably sooner than later. Believe me, if they would work, there would be plenty of us selling them as bargain-basement solutions.

As I said, I want to encourage folks to do the best they can to provide a decent shelter for their loved ones. It’s important, and when you get it done well, it’s peace of mind that you can’t otherwise buy or manufacture. If you’re going to do it at all, do it very, very well.

Besides the need for Mr. Yankee to think seriously about shoring up his floor overhead and perhaps his walls, I’d ask him to try not to get too clever with what it is that will serve as his shielding mass. Salt will work, as will any material (including air), but the key is how much will get the job done? I suspect that one would need a whole lot of salt to provide the needed mass.

A quick rule of thumb many can benefit from when looking at how well to shield their survival space: Shielding that reduces gamma ray intensity by 50% includes .4 inch of lead, 2.4 inches of concrete, 3.6 inches of packed dirt or 500 ft of air. One should aim for 10 times the halving protection using these guidelines when constructing your fallout shelter … such as 36 inches of earth or 24 inches of concrete or 4 inches of lead (not practical) or say, 12 inches of concrete and 18 inches of earth. This is a minimal level of protection, I feel. Of course, overkill in shielding is great as long as the supporting structure is built to withstand it. – Vic at Safecastle


Hi Jim,
I applaud Mr. Yankee for starting to think about constructing a Fallout Shelter. Over the past few months, I have been giving some consideration to the very same thing. But, after researching various “expedient” shelters such as the one described by Mr. Yankee (available in FEMA publications), I came to the conclusion that these are inferior, last minute, “make do” constructs. Given the time available to plan, it just makes sense to do the job properly.
Time and Space
I am constantly amused at how little time people think that they will be spending in a fallout shelter. Somehow, they seem to equate a nuclear incident with that of a passing thunder storm/tornado. The problem is that while a storm does its thing and moves on (or dies out), a nuclear event has two components: The Blast and the Fallout. What most folks do not realize is that it’s the Fallout that is “the gift which keeps on giving” (gamma radiation). And, in most cases, people will need to create Fallout Shelters to protect and shield themselves from the gamma radiation contained in the Fallout. Those who live in target rich areas should consider building a Blast Shelter.
Figuring on a minimum of two weeks (but more likely a month) in the shelter to allow the radiation to taper off, leads one to consider not only providing for clean Air, Food, Water, Clothing, Beds; but also Sanitation, Exercise, Entertainment. Now, add an average family of four people into the equation and things become more interesting.
I am reminded of the old gag question: “How many college students can you fit into a telephone booth?”
A 12’x 8’ (and what height?) basement room is not going to be enough physical space to handle the family and all the other things they will need for the duration in the shelter. – Douglas in CT


Dear Jim,
I believe Mr Yankee is unclear on his terminology. Concrete or other mass won’t stop fallout. Air filters stop fallout, which is radionuclide particles. These generally precipitate out in a few hours/few days. A good soaking of the surrounding ground with soap solution will wash them into the soil and lessen the danger of inhalation/contact (from stirring up the dust). The reason nuclear residue from weapons is dangerous is because of its high energy. At the same time, that high level of radiation means it has a short half life. There are long term risks of cancer and such, but the immediate risk is quite controllable. An expedient method is to tape windows shut and use dryer lint between screens as air filters, drawing up from under a cover. A sprinkler over the intake to create a water curtain will improve effectiveness. Obviously, HEPA filters are preferred, if available.
Direct radiation (Which is what I believe he means by “fallout”) is stopped by concrete, compacted Earth or other dense materials such as lead. Most modern military warheads are efficient enough that exposure to lethal levels of radiation means one is already within the radius of overpressure or thermal blast. Obviously, improvised devices are not so clean, and there is danger near the edges of an explosion where one can be exposed to dangerous levels. He is correct that food cans won’t stop such radiation. On the other hand, metals will. Lead is the classic choice, but gold, silver, copper (you might see where that is going) and even steel are of some effect, as is the mass of the house and any outside walls–radiation travels in straight lines, and if the blast is directly overhead, you won’t feel a thing. Copper plates overhead, with a layer of brick or such, plus the outside walls of the house, a berm, trees, nearby terrain features or intervening buildings will all absorb some of the radiation front.
I would recommend against storing materials one plans to use so they can double as shielding. The shielding can absorb neutrons and re-emit them as ionizing radiation. This is very unhealthy. The copper, lead or steel used as such needs to be avoided after the fact, especially on the blast side. It would be a decent gesture not to trade such materials off to the unsuspecting to get sick and die from.
I agree on over-engineering and then covering with concrete or compacted Earth. Something mentioned here before that is quite affordable is a used CONEX box, which is designed to take high weight on the edges and corners. A fairly simple bracing atop it (Any mechanical engineer or even a good construction contractor should be able to calculate what’s needed) will support more than enough mass to act as shielding. This can be planted outside the basement with a drainage bed of gravel underneath, accessible from inside, and reducing the risk of the house collapsing atop the shelter. – Michael Z. Williamson

Odds ‘n Sods:

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Are you searching for retreat locales? There is a great site that I often mention to my consulting clients for surveying the extent and types of agriculture in various regions. It is available from Purdue University’s horticulture department.

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I was doing a web search and I found this interesting video on British SAS operations, available for free download. It shows the planning and execution of a 28 day Observation Post (OP) mission. I was surprised to see how much detail they included about their weapons and field gear (“kit”), organization, and tactics. There are definitely some useful tidbits–particularly about tactical field discipline and how they pack their Bergen rucksacks–that preppers will find useful.

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Tom W. at suggested watching this “train wreck, in slow motion.” – The US Dollar Index (USDX) continues to tumble.

Letter Re: Advice on Cash and Weapons While Traveling Overseas

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Mr Rawles:
My first family vacation is coming up and we’ll be in New Zealand for three weeks. I’ll be away from my food, guns, ammunition, and assorted survival stash. Add to that that I can’t take more than $10,000 in cash out of the country and can’t take any weapons with me. So, what do you take with you on such a trip? Gold is too heavy. Any ideas on what to bring that won’t weigh me down. Thanks, – S.

JWR Replies: Assuming that your main purposes in carrying cash and/or specie would be 1.) to secure passage back to the U.S. in the event of an international crisis, or 2.) to provide for sustenance in NZ while you wait for a crisis in the U.S. to normalize, then depending on your circumstances I’d recommend that you and your wife each carry a money belt containing (up to but not to exceed): Five circulated gold British Sovereigns (or, if you can’t find Sovereigns, then get 1 ounce gold Australian Kookaburras) 3000 Euros in cash, $2,000 NZD (cash and/or traveller’s checks), and $1,000 USD cash. That would keep the USD value for each of your belts under the $10,000 USD. If you are concerned about customs or immigration officials considering this a “constructive” (additive) violation, then you might carry 1/2 of the amounts mentioned–making the total your whole family will carry under $10,000. (But it is still wise to carry it divided in two separate money belts.) BTW, Euros have been minted in denominations as large as E500, making them quite convenient to carry in a money belt. (But these E500 notes are hard to find. You might have to contact several currency dealers.) Also BTW, Canadian dollars have also been minted in C$500 notes. Those haven’t been printed in decades, and you’ll have to pay a premium for them.

Once you arrive in New Zealand, leave your money belts in your hotel’s vault, or if they refuse to take responsibility for them, then with a local bank in a deposit box. (Regardless, do so with a signed and countersigned inventory. Carry a separate photocopy of that inventory with you.)

Street crime is not a major issue in New Zealand
, aside for a few neighborhoods in Auckland. But if you have concerns, for self protection while there I’d recommend that you immediately buy a couple of stout Maori tokotoko walking sticks. These are quite nicely carved and will make great keepsakes. (See the previous SurvivalBlog posts on walking sticks for self defense.) OBTW, if you pass though Dunedin (on the Otago Peninsula) and you have a big budget then you might consider investing in a custom damascus Bowie knife made by Richard van Dijk. He does fine work, and his knives are sure to appreciate in value. Have a safe trip!

Letter Re: Solar Charged Walkway Lights –An Option for Battery Charging

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Mr. Rawles,
In response to what you wrote in the Blog on Friday, November 24th:
“The system does has some utility. However, except for people that have an alternative power power system (quite uncommon around Washington, D.C.), in a long term TEOTWAWKI, stations will gradually drop off the air one by one because most folks will not be able to recharge their batteries. (Just another reason why every family should have at least a small photovoltaic (PV) power system.) Contact the folks at Ready Made Resources for details on setting up such a system.

I read something a while back on a board that I frequent and thought it was a very useful use of materials at hand, and things having a second purpose. I’m sure not all sidewalk lights use AA batteries but if I buy any I will make sure mine our just for the utility it provides.

Kev started a thread by writing: “Here is a tip on how to recharge AA batteries after SHTF. First you will need a couple of those solar powered sidewalk lights, the kind that are sold at wal-mart like the one below. If you have not taken one of these sidewalk lights apart, all it is is a solar charger and a couple of AA batteries. Leave these out in full sun, take the batteries out over night so they do not get drained, then put the batteries back in the next day, after a day or two of charging they should be good to go. At the very least a small radio or AA flashlight can be used. These lights can also be placed in the bathrooms at night instead of using kerosene lanterns (if the power is off.)”

This is a link to the whole thread. It ends with a review I did for a solar charger.

The Lord bless you and yours, I really enjoy your blog, i look forward to reading it every day. – C.K.

Odds ‘n Sods:

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I was doing some web searches on EMP and I stumbled into this site that describes how to protect radios and other electronics with do-it-yourself Faraday cages.

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The documentary video “In Hiding” is about the more than one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Burma. Some of them–mainly Karen, Karenni, and Shan triibesmen–are being systematically hunted down by their own government. It is a “must see” video, available for free download. It was produced by Regardless of your politics, there are some survival lessons that can be learned from this video

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A High-Protein Whole Grain? The Story of American Wild “Rice”